Nick Hall reveals all - The environment might have been high on the agenda at the Frankfurt Motor Show, but that didn't stop the big guns turning out with the kind of firepower that could win a small war
The environment might have been high on the agenda at the Frankfurt Motor Show, but that didn’t stop the big guns turning out with the kind of firepower that could win a small war and there was plenty of hot metal to drool over.
And while there was niche cars aplenty, perhaps the most exciting car there was the simply stupid 580bhp Audi RS6. Boasting a twin-turbo version of the Lamborghini Gallardo’s V10, complete with Audi’s own FSi and four-wheel-drive, this machine should prove beyond explosive. The RS6 is quite rightly a legend, especially in Avant form for the full sleeper effect, and even though this one comes with bulging arches and exhausts big enough to spit out the driver, it’s still going to be hard to comprehend when this big barge leaves supercars trailing in its wake.
And with 479lb/ft of torque the RS6 makes BMW’s M5 look ever so slightly weedy and even beats Mercedes at its own game. Which is good news, because they won’t take that lying down.
Audi storming to the head of the super saloon field is a virtual gold-plated invitation to BMW to respond and there are already spy shots of a turbocharged M5 out there, so watch this space for more entertainment.
Just as an appetiser, BMW-affiliated manufacturer Alpina turned out with its B6 S, which doesn’t quite come with a turbocharger, or a supercharger, but something in between. Now what’s involved is likely to go right over everyone’s head, including ours, but all we need to know is they’ve managed to squeeze 530bhp from a 4.4-litre V8 strapped to a ‘radial compressor’.
And with 531lb/ft of torque and an automatic gearbox the Alpina hits 62mph in 4.5s, a fraction faster than BMW’s technofest that is the M6. With no electronic limiter to worry about it will boot it all the way to 198mph, too, which is hardly bad going. Alpina may not sell as many cars as BMW, but with results like this it isn’t because they don’t deserve to and as a small vision for the future then it’s an enticing sight indeed.
Just as impressive, in it’s own special, intimidating way, is Porsche’s GT2. Now the old car had a reputation as a widowmaker and this one should be just as much of a handful, as it will blast through the 60mph mark in 3.7s and is the only 911 in the line-up to officially breach the 200mph mark with a top speed of 204mph.
Now the GT2 barely has an advantage over the heavier Turbo when it comes to raw acceleration, despite Launch Assist’s best efforts to keep the 530bhp heading to the road the rear-drive twin turbo 911 simply has too much power to contend with and the electronics will spend half their life strangling the engine. This car smacks of wild, uncontrolled power, but then that’s what the GT2 heritage is all about.
Customers will be able to turn off the Porsche Stability Management in stages, with lateral and longitudinal safety measures disabled independently, but it would take a brave, brave soul to do it, or a stupid one.
Then, loaded with technology, comes the equally powerful antithesis to the ferocious Porsche. And Ferrari’s riposte to the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera was well worth the wait, even though the impatient German photographers clearly couldn’t and barged each other out the way for a shot of Michael Schumacher pulling the covers off the F430 Scuderia.
With 510bhp at its disposal from it’s 4.3-litre, the Scuderia will storm to 62mph in 3.6s, way faster than the stripped out Lambo, and will lap Ferrari’s home track just as fast as the Enzo. That’s no surprise, as the Enzo is old technology now, but with all sorts of clever gadgets in the pistons and F1-Superfast2 gear shift system, it should be a spectacular drive. Some will bemoan Ferrari’s hi-tech approach to road cars, but the results truly are amazing and a drive in a modern car will more than allay most worries.
Ferrari has cunningly given the dry weight as 1250kg, though, which sounds more impressive than it is as no car will run without fluids on board. But it’s still a mighty piece of kit that should blow the doors off more or less anything on the road.
Under the tutelage of Dave Richards and Prodrive it was no surprise to see Aston Martin unleash the first of what are sure to be many hot versions of Gaydon metal, too, alongside the Vanquish replacing DBS that feels almost like an old car already thanks to its starring role in the James Bond. But with 510bhp and race-bred handling, the DBS will regain its impact at the launch later this year, we’re pretty sure of that.
Aston also brought its N400, which celebrates the marques’ rebirth as a sporting brand and brings a raft of modifications – not least the 400bhp engine that the car has been crying out for since it was launched. There’s no doubting the V8 is one of the prettiest cars on the planet right now, and it sounds like the Spitfires that once ruled the skies for Britain, but it was never quite fast enough.
Now, with more horses, and just a touch more torque, Aston has produced a car that can nail a sub-8 minute laptime round the infamous Nordschleife. That’s mostly down to the revised suspension that rids the car of roll oversteer and turns it into the sporting great we always wanted.
Having shot their bolt at Geneva with the Superleggera, Lamborghini came up with a special edition of the LP640 inspired by a fighter jet for the centrepiece of their stand. The Reventon is named after one of the most famous fighting bulls of all time and with a 211mph top speed and 650bhp, it’s a violent machine that will buck and potentially throw one of the 20 lucky owners off the road.
And as they’ll pay €1 million for the privilege of ownership and the vast majority of the car is clothed in perfect carbon-fibre, including opaque sections screwed to the wheels, the repair bills could be scary.
On the plus side it will hit 60mph in 3.4s and Lamborghini has upheld its tradition of mind-blowingly beautiful cars. Angular, wedge-like and every bit as extreme as the Countach and Diablo models of yesteryear, the Reventon should be celebrated as a piece of art as much as a car and hopefully one will find its way into a museum somewhere, somehow as a reminder of just how much fun cars once were.
Continuing with the special editions, VW has managed to squeeze a few more column inches out of the awe-inspiring Veyron with the Pur Sang special edition. Pur Sang is a place in Argentina where they make fine reproductions of the 35T, 35B and T43 and it’s also a fine wine made in the Loire Valley – if that kind of thing interests you.
Bugatti felt that was an appropriate name for the ‘new’ car. And what’s so special about it? They haven’t painted it, not at all, so it’s a mixture of raw aluminium and carbon-fibre. And that’s all.
Maserati’s Quattroporte Sport S was much more impressive, as the new variant sits almost 25mm lower than the standard model at the rear and comes with stiffer springs and dampers, as well as new braking system that comes with dual-cast discs that incorporate cast iron and aluminium. With new tyres it should develop more grip, too, which will be handy as this bohemoth weighs more than 1900kg and so is prone to slip in the bends.
And Bentley, too, came up with a minor revision to the Continental GT – labelled the Speed. With a raft of revisions to the suspension, ceramic brakes that cost more than a small hatchback on their own and a reduced kerbweight, as well as an extra 50bhp, the new Continental GT is night and day better than the old machine that has taken Bentley from the transport of royalty to the footballer’s car of choice.
It has to be said that stripping 35kg out of the GT can’t have given many sleepless nights to the engineers, seeing as the new version still weighs 2350kg – but it’s a step in the right direction at least. And fitted with the new brakes the new car feels much more nimble than the old car. How do we know this? We’ve already driven it, and there’ll be a report to follow.