Big dogs tend to be quiet relaxed individuals that let giant teeth and muscles do the talking. It's the small ones that run around yapping, growling and biting like their water has been spiked with amphetamines. And so it is at the British Motor Show.
Part 2 - Supercars wrap up
Big dogs tend to be pretty quiet. relaxed individuals that let giant teeth and muscles do the talking. It’s the small ones that run around yapping, growling and biting like their water has been spiked with amphetamines. And so it is with cars at the British Motor Show.
In one corner, creating relatively little fuss, was the Barabus, which makes Cerberus look himself look like a gelded Chihuahua. A six-litre Chevy V8 fitted with twin turbochargers and all manner of technical accoutrements could well make this the fastest machine on four wheels.
Nobody had heard anything solid about this car that is mentioned like a mythical beast on occasional forum postings. And even other members of the media had no idea of its presence at the show. It has spent eight years in development, all of them very slyly, and mostly working out how to get the 1005bhp on to the road. Yes, that’s right, 1005…
With more power than the Veyron and far less weight thanks to what looks like one of the trickiest carbon-fibre chassis available right now that effectively seam-welds panels with more carbon-fibre to achieve the same rigidity and drive down costs, this car is going to be a beast.
The computer simulations suggest a 0-60mph time of 1.6s is possible, although laying down all that power in the real world might prove a little more complex than the computers can account for. As for the top speed, we’ll try and find a nice long road and determine that for ourselves. Get ready for a review written from a cell…
And the absolute opposite of this quiet introduction to a monster was the almighty fanfare for the new Vauxhall Corsa, which is, quite frankly, going to be about as much fun as stabbing yourself in the face with a sharp pencil when it hits the road.
Rapper Sean Paul was flown over from America and the car was flown over the Thames by helicopter before taking its place in front of one of the largest video screens on offer at the show. It looks like a shrunken Astra and will probably sell by the bucketload. But this much fanfare for a machine bought by people that don’t care about cars is a little strange. And Sean Paul swearing on live TV interviews will stay with the PR men that booked him for some time…
Renault’s Clio Sport 197 is a far more enticing prospect if you’re stuck in the small car category. OK the doors feel like they’re made from construction paper and you wouldn’t want to crash it, but the Regie’s baby has long held the title of the most entertaining hot hatch in its price range and only a complete rethink of the VW Golf Gti kept it from the very top slot.
Now with 194 horses at its disposal, the 197 is in PS, the Renault will manage a more than spritely 134mph and a sub-7 second 0-60 dash. But it was the handling that has made Renault’s hot hatches famous around the world and this one should provide as much cocked rear-wheel entertainment as any of its predecessors.
It has to be said the show was largely populated with hatchbacks, as the big guns of Ferrari, Lamborghini and Pagani were represented only by local distributors and hire companies. They have focussed their resource on Geneva, which was a shame, but we had plenty to keep us entertained.
JCB’s chronically phallic Dieselmax was in attendance. This 750bhp diesel-powered record breaker in waiting will head to the Bonneville Salt Flats in August for a 300mph run.
Using the standard block and bedplate has given engine designer Ricardo plenty of headaches, but now the powerplants have been signed off after they dragged 750bhp from a unit previously required to pump out just 120.
And then there is the Mitsubishi Evo IX FQ-360, the latest slice of rice-burning madness in the power war with Subaru. Developed from the standard car by RalliArt, this 366bhp leviathan also has 363lb/ft of torque at its disposal, will hit 60mph in 4.1s and top out at 160mph. And that is a fair whack for a car that looks like a saloon that has crashed through a superglue factory then the aftermarket division of Halfords.
Priced at just £32,504 in the UK, this machine is an utter bargain when it comes to bang for buck, although it drinks fuel like a tramp downs cider and will push the 5mpg mark under hard track use.
As for the looks, they’re an acquired taste. The exhaust looks like a recycled trash can and the roof-mounted spoiler cannot add much to the downforce already created by the rear wing that threatens to block out the sun, let alone rear visibility, but these cars have a cult following around the world and Mitsubishi will sell as many as it can make.
Oh, and the FQ in the title has an interesting explanation. Officially, it stands for Fine Quality, that’s what the UK marketing arm told the Japanese overlords anyway. In reality, and everyone knows it, the FQ stands for F***ing Quick. And for that piece of badging genius alone, this car became one of the show’s major stars.
And the ugliest? Without a doubt the Chrysler 300C Touring takes that prize. While the chunky saloon had a road presence that made up for its box-like appearance, the Touring loses it all with that square rear end.
I have ridden in a car with this style once before, but I was heading to a funeral and I suspect this car’s obituary will not be too far behind.