It’s showtime: London Motorexpo 2014
I have been away for a while, but now I’m back. And on Monday I visited a car show that I have actually something to talk about. It was Motorexpo 2014 in Canary Warf, in London. And these were my favorites from the show. Photos provided by me with a great helping hand of my sister.
This is the very recent version of Porsche’s “hairdresser’s car” which now has become more muscular and more likeable to many. The first thing that I noticed as soon as I got into the car was most certainly QUALITY. It was everywhere – from the feel and smell of the brand new leather (I love smell of new leather in new cars) to those thousands of buttons on the center console. Even paddle shifters felt like they’ve been screwed together so tough that even a tractor couldn’t pull them off. A very low car too, though. However, as I said, this is “hairdresser’s car”, i.e. you wouldn’t like to see two men in it with the roof down. It would be a bit awkward. In an Aston Martin or an Audi A4 sure, fine, it’s cool, but in this it sort of doesn’t look right. But if you forget about the guy sitting next to you, focus yourself on the absolutely sublime driving position (feet in level with the ground and pointing dead straight) and you’ll be the happiest man in the world. For a woman, you will feel happy no matter who sits next to you.
Aston Martin V12 Vantage S
Speaking of Astons, finally saw one today. Because I am so “poor” (i.e. I didn’t wear a Rolex and my eye pupils didn’t form into dollar signs) the dealer standing next to it started to shout as soon as I was crouching to get in. Oh well, maybe some other time. But one thing I can point out to Aston – your interiors have to updated fast. They’re a bit dated. Don’t believe me? Read some car journals. However, as I read, they are in works of a brand new chassis. #happytimes
If you remember (if, of course, you bother reading my blog every time I post something) I said that I see no point of the 650S. That it is a slightly higher priced, P1-nosed 12C. Then I had a chat with the chap who represented McLaren there. He too said “look, touch, close the door, but don’t sit there”, but then I asked him “isn’t this just a fancier 650S?” He explained that it is in the looks (from the back, of course), but in detail it’s a different car. Sure, it has a 3.8 litre twin-turbo V8 (same as every other McLaren (apart from F1) there was, is and, for now, ever will be), but it’s been tuned up to 612 bhp (650 PS, hence the 650 in the model name). Also, the P1 nose gives it way more downforce. He said that the 12C had too little downforce on the nose that at some speeds there could be a possible understeer. Not like Lamborghini Miura, of course, but still not good enough in McLaren’s perfectionist eyes. Also they added larger side skirts, a bigger side scoops for more engine cooling and almost all of 12C extras now come as standard. And if you calculate all differences, he said, the 650S is actually cheaper by about £2000 than the 12C. And now I’m guessing you’re bored to levels of boredom as big as listening to a lecture about evolution. But don’t be put off by this. It just shows that even a chap at a car show is as geeky and passionate for the brand as Ron Dennis. Ronnie himself was a perfectionist and, after he came back, seems like things have shaken up a bit. And that’s a good thing.
Lotus Evora S
Apart from this eye-watering color, I love the Evora. This is the S-model, i.e. a supercharged 3.5 litre Supercharged (hence the S designation) Toyota engine in the middle and some bits and bobs added to it as standard. As Lotus has been known for decades as the ultimate handling machine, this one felt like it is just that – low, perfect seating position, arms completely horizontal when extended to the wheel, perfect adjustment on the seat to get in the position and a crisp gearbox. I have no idea where Clarkson came up with rubbish shifts when he reviewed the Evora S. There were two drawbacks. The first wan was there is literally no space in the rear for the passengers. Despite having two seats you would have to be: a) a midget if you’re driving or b) a baby if you’re sitting at the back. And the quality of the door opening handle was a bit wobbly.
Lotus Exige LF1
Back in 2011 I got in a Lotus Elise for the first time. But then getting out of it was truly embarrassing for me and quite entertaining for my mate who stood there while I was on my knees, trying to get out of that thing. The same story here – I have mastered the method of getting in (first you sit in it, then slide your feet under the steering wheel). As for getting out, well, as you can see in the picture above, I have still a long way to go. Anyhow, it is a stripped-down version of Elise, so in the interior there is no drama. Just mechanical windows, no carpets, just an aluminium floor, a steering wheel, a gear knob and some pedals. That’s it. And do you actually need anything else for a track-ready sportscar? To beat all those “sluggish” Mercs and Audis, I don’t think you do.
Why is it particularly an LF1? Because this edition is made to celebrate Lotus’s involvement in F1 throughout the years. It features 2 in 1 color scheme tributes – the bright red is to commemorate those “Gold Leaf” F1 cars of late 60s and that famous, unforgettable “John Player Special” black-and-gold scheme. Only 81 of them will be built. So I have had a bit of a luck.
I remember the year I fell in love with Jaguar. That was 1998, when I got my first computer game ever – Need for Speed III. It had two Jags – XJR-15 sportscar and an XK8. Despite XJR-15 being faster, sleeker and in a higher class than the XK8, I loved the GT coupe because it had this Jaguarishness about it. It just felt right. It looked good, it has the best brand name in the business (imagine saying to your girlfriend/wife: “Shall we take the Jag tonight, my dear?” Makes you as cool as Roger Moore. Actually cooler, because that guy had a thing with opening eyes wide when he said things like this) and…it just was my favorite car. Fast-forward to 2011, I saw the last special edition Jaguar XK- XKR-S – and an XJ. I was so surprised by how cooler Jags are than I though.
XJ has one of best interiors in business. It is at the top alongside Audi which for decades has made its drivers feel more at home than your local pudding. Jag’s swooping trim line going all across the dash; if it is chosen to be wood, it would make you feel like a king. I love it. Then the position in which you sit; it makes you feel cool even if you are a nerd. The TFT-display, pillow-soft seats, supercharged V8 engine…the list goes on and on and on.
Oh yes, I always save the best for last. I couldn’t contain my excitement while writing this article until I got to write about my most favorite car of today – the F-type. I have seen it millions of times in pictures, but when I saw it up close I was blown away. It is just too beautiful to remain unnoticed. They had them in various shapes and sizes – both convertible and coupe – but, as some might know, my favorite F-type has to be the V6 S coupe. First of all it has the more powerful supercharged V6 of the lot. Secondly it makes the same roar as the E-type Straight-6 XK engine. I love it way more than the roar to the V8. Don’t get me wrong, I love the V8, but if I had an F-type, it would be just a V6. Thirdly, in my mind the coupe F-type is the most beautiful car in the whole world today. I’m not a fan of roadsters myself. I love solid roof driving. I wouldn’t mind to drive with a roof down, but only on a GT coupe. But as you saw some weeks ago, Jaguar killed the XK and the replacement, the XR (as rumors suggest it’s going to be called) is coming no earlier than 2017 (according to CAR magazine, at least. I hope they’re right). Also the coupe has more luggage space than the roadster. In the car show one of convertibles had a golf bag in the boot. Now that looked like a mini golf bag. In the coupe, though, if I would have a girlfriend, we could have some space to take some luggage with us for the week. Not huge, but this is a sports car, not a grand tourer.
I did get a chance to sit inside as well. Seats, despite being as thin as Lewis Hamilton’s patience, were surprisingly comfortable. And the quality of it all was as good (or maybe better) than that in Porsche. That is quite a high praise. But then again Jag has come a long way. From Ford-days when they still had some quality and reliability issues and that hideous-looking S-type, to the lineup of today. It is just getting better and better. And I cannot wait what the XE will bring this autumn.
Today I lived in a dream. A dream I didn’t want to leave. Thank you, Motorexpo, for giving this wonderful opportunity to see these beauties. It’s been 3 years but the passion is still there.