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Thursday, 26 May 2016

London Motor Show 2016

Some motor show, yesterday
I went to the 2008 London Motor Show way back in 2008 and very much enjoyed being able to see and sit in the latest wheeled metal shapes from around the world. However, dwindling interest from everyone else meant that there wasn't a sequel. The nearest major motor show now is the Paris Motor Show in Paris, which is well over an hour away from Wokingham, so I've had to make do with using the internet... until now! Yes, the London Motor Show is back, albeit not as a mecca for the world's automotive powerhouses to stage world debuts left right and centre. Instead, the new cars were mostly provided by local dealers, with a few exceptions. Also, rather than filling ExCeL, it took place in a somewhat smaller venue... but hey, a small motor show is better than no motor show! Let me show you some of the things I've seen:


The 2016 London Motor Show took place in Battersea Park, which is a park in the Battersea area of London (and also where the Formula E race is held). Walking from Queenstown Road station through the park revealed an area for office workers to escape to a natural place of splendour and tranquility...


...or at least it would've been tranquil if they weren't shredding trees across the road from the previous picture.

Walking along the road, you could see at junctions where the tarmac had been resurfaced for the Formula E two-part finale last June, an event which will be held this year at the start of July following the event in Berlin last Saturday. This year the finale doesn't clash with the Goodwood Festival of Speed, so I might find the ~£20 for a ticket. There's only 1 point between the two championship protagonists with two races to go!!

But anyway, for now the task was to find the way into the motor show. Aha, is this it?


Nope. Looks pretty not-open from there. Keep walking down the road......


Ahhhh, that's more like it! Cars with no metal gate in the way. Sorted.


Having had our tickets checked, we rounded a corner and were presented with the Battersea Evolution site... and lots of cars! Oh, and a couple of people dressed as crash test dummies, whom I immediately felt sorry for as they'd have to stand outside in summery heat all day wearing costume...


As is mandatory at all UK-based motoring events, a full-scale model of Bloodhound SSC was present and correct, sporting a new array of sponsors and lots of cool stats about the science and engineering it takes to (hopefully) travel along the ground at up to and over 1000mph. A thousand! The car should've been up and running by now, but delays here and there mean that the closest they've got is a successful engine test on a dyno. We must remain patient. As the toy fixer said in Toy Story 2, "I can do it fast or I can do it right!"


Technically we're not supposed to call this an Aston Martin DB9, even though it totally is. We're supposed to call it the Kahn WB12 Vengeance, because popular Range Rover modders Project Kahn (aka Kahn Automobiles) have reshaped the body panels in aluminium with a sprinkle of carbon fibre to make something... slightly less tasteful? I'm not big on the shark mouth grille, the Ferrari-style round tail lights - you can see the panel lines where the old AM lights used to be... - or the shortened side windows, nor the wheel design. I do think the subtly widened body flares and bulgier power bulge are nicer than they could have been, but I'll pass all the same.
Standing near it was Steve Whitaker, operations manager for Kahn Design and deputy Grumpy Boss Man on the show Supercar Megabuild, which features the company commissioning one-off cars engineered by two slightly mad people who have different ideas of what's cool compared to both Whitaker and Afzal Kahn. Oh the jeopardy!


Once you're properly inside the event building, the cars are laid out in the typical way, with a Rolls-Royce style starlight roof jazzing things up a bit. Most of the cars in the first room are everyday type things, Fiat 500s, Mazda CX-3s, all that jazz. However, as well as a GT-R there were also a couple of lightweight sports car marques like Zenos and Vuhl, as well as......



...Mitsuoka!

This small but unique Japanese company takes locally available machines and turns them into some quite spectacularly retro products. The new Brooklands - called Himiko in Japan - may look a bit like a Morgan Aero 8, but it's actually based on a Mazda MX-5 (NC)! The wheelbase is stretched at the front, so it's a pretty significant overhaul, although the actual powertrain and running gear are basically unchanged. The interior is recognisably a re-trimmed MX-5 interior, but the new leather upholstery felt nice. Nicer than the black plastic trim anyway...


Being based on the third-generation MX-5, the Mitsuoka Brooklands is also available with a folding hardtop if you should so wish. Hey, at least it looks better than the all-original Orochi.


Those side vents are absolutely not real...

Oh, but it gets better! As a special treat for the London Motor Show and to showcase more of the brand's diversity, they also had the latest generation of the Viewt, all the way from Japan! You can't buy this here, so this may well have been the only one in the country.


Yes, it's a 2012-present Nissan Micra (K13) that's been rebodied to look like a Jaguar Mk.2 saloon... if you can only vaguely remember what a Jaguar Mk.2 looks like. If you can remember it vividly, then the word that springs to mind might be "morose" rather than "Morse," but you've got to love the novelty of it! A sense of humor is definitely required with Mitsuoka.


Being based on the Micra (or March as it's called in Japan) means that rather than a 3.8-litre straight-six and rear-wheel-drive, the Viewt offers its buyers a laterally-mounted 1.2-litre straight-three engine which sends 79 horsepower to the front wheels through a Continuously Variable Transmission. This will be sure to recreate precisely none of the inspirational Jag's gloriously naughty howl and superior driver involvement. You can also have it with four-wheel-drive if you want to make it needlessly heavier or live on a slippery hill.

The previous (K12) version from 2009-12 offered a wider choice of straight-four engines, those being 1.2 (80 horsepower), 1.4 (90hp) and 1.5 (109hp!) non-turbo petrol engines with either a manual or automatic transmission sending power to the front wheels. Curiously, the sporty two-door version with carbon fibre dash trim used the smallest engine, as it's based on the March 12SR. Leave logic at the door with your shoes when walking into their world...


I sat in this one too and it genuinely felt well finished. There was a nice smell of leather, it was all plush and comfortable and the only real letdown was the slightly rubbery Nissan steering wheel. Some of the wood and leather from the Brooklands's Mazda 'wheel wouldn't have gone amiss in here. The retro brightwork including the chrome-look interior door handles were a nice touch, nicer than the plastic handbrake, although I'm not entirely convinced that wooden dash panel is really wood. But maybe it is! Approaching with an open mind, you actually start to buy into some of Mitsuoka's endearing optimism... a little bit.


I mean, look! It has a metal gear shift gate, just like a Ferrari 250 GTO! Except because it's a CVT the lever just goes forwards and backwards, so it's an 'I pattern' rather than an 'H pattern'...
By making people laugh, Mitsuoka brings joy and happiness to the world - even if people are laughing at you rather than with you, which some, no, most of them probably are.


The Alfa Romeo 4C caused a massive stir when it arrived in 2013 - the original concept was at my first Goodwood FOS in 2011 and I could barely bring myself to walk away from it - but sadly the reviews have suggested that the steering is inconsistent, it follows cambers and the car generally doesn't live up to the hype unless you're easy to please. Welcome to the frustrating world of Alfas! The new Spider version was in London, featuring a Lotus Elise-style removable roof panel.


It also has SIGNIFICANTLY better headlights than the original car had! Finished in carbon fibre for lightness (whereas before the non-LaunchEdition ones used grey plastic), the bug-eyed look has been replaced with a single main projector unit. Much more elegant and exotic.


Oh hey, it's the Mitsuoka Brooklands again! Wait... no, wait a minute... that's a Morgan Aero 8! The new one, in fact! Easy mistake to make...


It becomes more obvious when you peer inside and don't see a single Mazda MX-5 interior part. Instead it's all nice leather, wood... and surprisingly hard seats. Also, there was a piece of trim in the driver's footwell that had fallen off, which isn't a great sign even if show cars take an almighty battering during events like this. Despite the lovely metal gear knob, this is actually a 6-speed automatic with small and rather rubbery paddles behind the wheel...


Power comes from a 4.8-litre BMW V8 that's been tuned by Morgan to produce 367bhp and 370lb/ft, enough to propel the 1180kg [dry] all-aluminium machine from 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds and on to 170mph. Not amazing, but far from slow, plus it sounds great (on YouTube - no engines running here). Also, it has side pipes. Side pipes are cool.


Celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Morgan 4/4 roadster is this, the 2016 Morgan 4/4 roadster. A Morgan of this shape has been in production continuously since 1936, which is both faintly ridiculous and impressively rebellious. "Nope! It's still fine! We're gonna keep making it! Oh sure we'll fulfill these new regulations if we must..."

Rolls-Royce Dawn visible in the background, essentially a new convertible version of the Ghost/Wraith
These days it uses aluminium body panels both hand-formed and "superformed" to help it achieve a dry weight of just 795kg. The little 1.6-litre Ford Sigma engine (also seen in Caterhams) sends 110bhp and 97lb/ft to the rear wheels through a 5-speed Mazda gearbox as it romps from 0-60 in 8 seconds and on to 115mph. I think that Mitsuoka is probably quicker and quieter, but then the 4/4 is so awkward to get in and out of, and has such a long clutch pedal travel, that you'll probably have other things on your mind than speed as you're driving along with your elbow involuntarily hanging out over the very low door. Also, they appear to have given the passenger the handbrake, which is a little worrying. Learn why car companies nowadays spend millions researching ergonomics by sitting in a Morgan!


Mind you, they're not entirely blind to the present day. This is the new EV3, an electric version of the hilariously eccentric 3-Wheeler that's been restyled to look good without having a V-twin engine sitting in front of the bodywork. Instead, you get a smoother nose with brass conductive cooling fins to aid the 26kW/h battery and/or the 46kW (62bhp) electric motor that powers the rear wheel. The car weighs less than 500kg and claims to have similar performance to the engine-powered original along with a range of 150 miles or so. It has less outright power, but manages 0-60 in "under 9 seconds" and a top speed of "over 90mph," the latter of which must be mildly terrifying with only a tiny aeroscreen in front of you. This show car had a removable cover over the passenger seat, just like your Grandad's old open-top racing car had to reduce drag.


On a loosely similar note to that last thought, it was soon time to head upstairs in the mezzanine, opposite the hideously overpriced café (seriously, the food there was more than the freakin' ticket!) to watch veteran TV presenter, drifting enthusiast and one-off F1 driver Tiff Needell interview veteran BTCC driver, moustache enthusiast and one-off F1 world champion Nigel Mansell. This was well worth a listen, with some great insight and all kinds of humorous anecdotes from Mansell's illustrious career both as a racer and an assistant to the Australian police force doing everything from road safety to a drugs bust, the latter of which commitments was news to me! The '80s cars were unbelievably ferocious to the point that he came in after a qualifying lap in his Williams-Honda to ask for less power, IndyCars don't want to go in a straight line, he helped develop the Ferrari Testarossa and asked them to dial in some understeer to stop it being dangerously twitchy, stuff like that. He also explained the difference in F1 between a fast driver and a racer: drivers wait for things to happen, racers make things happen. He and Senna were out-and-out racers, so there were some recollections of late dives and wheel-to-wheel battles too. Finally, the two old men of course took their opportunities to bash the current format of Formula 1, which frankly I'm getting tired of hearing even if it's admittedly not perfect...


Shortly afterwards, I queued up for a go in a simulator. This particular simulator is a demonstrator for Vesaro, who make simulators would you believe. This rig was said to be worth around £15,000 thanks to things like the motion seat, 40" TV, extra framework and a mac-daddy gaming PC... but if you think that's mad, a quick go on their configurator reveals that if you just fatuously pick the most expensive version of everything, it rises to a rather more significant £51,490. Think of all the actual proper real-life track cars you could buy for that! Hell, a whole season of racing Ginettas or Caterhams can cost less...

What you can't buy for £52k is a Formula Renault 3.5 car and a private race at the Nürburgring F1 circuit, which is exactly what I got to do on the sim via a PC copy of Project CARS and a Sparco-branded wheel. What's more, it utilised an Oculus VR headset. Once the brand reps had calibrated it, it wasn't nearly as disorientating as I'd thought it would be. No motion sickness, no overly quick camera panning, you just put it on and feel immersed. Being able to look "manually" into corners rather than pressing a button to flick the camera 45° or 90° improved the realism a lot, but really I was concentrating on not looking like a bellend in front of a dozen onlookers who were probably serious sim nerds for all I knew. There were only three AI cars to race against, so of course I started last for the two-lap race. Quite by accident I nailed the start, flirting with the pit wall to overtake all three virtual opponents before the braking zone into the first corner. I had no idea where to brake in an FR 3.5 so I guessed based on where it normally is in Gran Turismo, managing to more or less hit the apex... only to run wide on the exit because it needed way more steering lock than I'd expected around the very tight hairpin. Damn, lost the lead. Now I've got some racing to do. Having to guess all the other braking points and amounts of steering to do on lap one, I nevertheless managed to keep it on the grey stuff partly through luck and caution, before attacking a bit more for lap two. In the end I think I finished second with a two-lap race time of about 3:52, which put me roughly mid-table on the list of pro drivers/gamers that had set a time earlier. That'll do.


For the price of a pimp-spec Vesaro simulator, you could just about afford to buy and run this thing I'm sitting in, the Caterham 620S. It starts at £44,995 but the one here is spec'd up to £47,900 with such accouterments as a quick-release Momo steering wheel, black alloys, lowered floors for more room, a half hood, "carbon vinyl" boot cover and even the full set of stickers. The lowered floors actually made it surprisingly easy to get in and out of, you know - assuming you know the go-kart technique of standing on the seat first and then lowering yourself down as you thread your legs under the 'wheel. Once in, the seats were strategically padded in the right places such that you might actually call it comfortable (certainly more so than the Morgans). It's snug but not cramped for my unfit 5ft7" body, the stubby gear stick falls easily to hand and the metal switches were pleasingly tactile. One thing I couldn't find was the heater, but apparently there's a switch or button somewhere to use first and then an organ stop-style thing near the driver's right foot, which you pull out to make heat happen. Another ergonomic quirk is the fuel gauge being the furthest thing away from you on the left. Unless it turns out the oil level is genuinely a more pressing concern, I'd rather the fuel level was easier to see at a glance.


The 620S is essentially the hardcore and utterly bonkers 620R with some of the interior put back in. The seats were comfortable because they're leather chairs rather than wafer-thin carbon buckets, for example. Other changes to make it more road-friendly include swapping the track-spec sequential gearbox for a conventional 5-speed manual, adding a windscreen with attachable side screens and fabric hood, as well as more forgiving suspension settings and that elusive heater system. As a result it weighs 38kg more, but at 610kg it's hardly a fatty. The 2.0-litre Ford Duratec engine is supercharged up to 310 horsepower, which in a car weighing less than an original Mini is a somewhat alarming prospect unless you're a bit of a pro drifter. The 508bhp/tonne power-to-weight ratio would bother a Bugatti Veyron, as indeed its predecessor the R500 Superlight did on TopGear many years ago in the hands of Lord Stig. Having a manual gearbox instead of a punch-it-and-go sequential means the 0-60 time for the S is 0.6s longer than the R, at a leisurely... 3.4 seconds.

Oh, and how low down are you thanks to those lowered floors? My hip was level with the black side stripe between the wheels...


Having managed to get myself into and out of both a Caterham and a classic Morgan, I decided one more contortionist act was worth a go: a Lotus. This is the Exige Sport 350 Roadster, which had its removable roof attached. Having been in production in various forms for 20 years, the Elise/Exige's very wide sill is (in)famous for making ingress and egress difficult, but it remains present all the same because it's an integral element of the clever aluminium tub chassis. Bend the knees, stick a leg in, sit on the sill, stick your other leg in and slide across into the seat, minding your head.


Once you're in, you can admire the metal gear stick, which has a completely exposed linkage as a nod to Lotus's renewed commitment to simplifying and adding lightness. You'll have to trust that the numbers on the top are in the right places.


An interesting nod to the company's Norfolk origins comes in the form of what I will call "mustard tartan" fabric upholstery. The imperfect stitching lets you know it was at least partially handmade.


As for the view out, I'm not entirely sure why they made it needlessly difficult to see what's behind. If the louvres are to ventilate the busy little engine bay containing the supercharged 3.5-litre V6, then fine, but why make it out of black plastic? We've seen vented clear rear windows since the Ferrari F40 from 1987...

The black one isn't new, that's a mid-'60s Griffith
One more British sports car before we move on: GUESS WHO'S BACK?! TVR, that's who! Yup, the Blackpool bruisers and creators of some of the maddest road and racing cars ever made have returned from the dead, ready to debut their first new car since the Sagaris debuted about ten years ago. There are a couple of things, though; one, they're not based in Blackpool any more, and two, we don't quite know what it looks like yet...


As you can see on the silver cover, this full-size model of the next TVR is only for the eyes of those ~350 brave souls who have already put down a deposit for a car that could yet be terrible, ugly and delayed. Nobody had the balls to yank the cover off when no-one was looking, or at least not when I was there...


What we can figure out is the shape, and it's a nice shape. The proportions and sloping rear recall the T350 of a decade ago, with subtle shades of the made-for-movies Aston Martin DB10 as well. You can also just about make out the double-bubble roof, which is always a cool thing to have when you're a sports coupé. There some nicely judged curves and flares shaping the satin cover, so overall I have to say it's promising...


Under the skin, things are a little less mysterious. The "iStream" chassis architecture is the brainchild of Gordon Murray and his engineering consultancy. It uses a carbon fibre backbone with a steel tube frame skeleton, over which a composite body is attached. It's designed to simultaneously be as light and as strong as possible, while being produced using a factory that's significantly cheaper, more efficient and more eco-friendly than conventional car factories. The engine is a TVR-Cosworth V8 of unknown displacement, possibly 5.0 litres given that it is in essence a comprehensively overhauled Ford "Coyote" V8 from the new Mustang. Predicted power output is 450-550 horsepower and it will be connected to a manual gearbox. I overheard a company exec mention that the car weighs 1150kg and should be good for 200mph. Also, the real car will have side-exit exhaust pipes, because TVR is awesome (also because it allows for a flat floor to efficiently add downforce at the rear).

We now know the new home of TVR is in Ebbw Vale in Wales, which is also the site of the upcoming Circuit Of Wales, which is a race track. In Wales. The aim is to build 500 cars per year, with a total of four new models appearing in the next decade as well as a possible assault on Le Mans in 2018. The first customers hope to get their cars in around 14 months' time. I can't wait to see more about it!


Before I move on from British stuff, the Bentley Benteke was also there... but I don't give a toss about that.


And now, a Mustang! But not just any Mustang - this new-generation one has been pimped out by Sutton Bespoke, featuring a supercharger and a claimed 700 horsepower...


...not to mention a steering wheel on the Queen's preferred side of the car! While the new Mustang is already available in right-hand-drive, Sutton mainly pride themselves on converting US-market cars that aren't officially available as such.


The 'CS700' Mustang - named in part after company boss Clive Sutton - gets its eponymous power output thanks to the 5.0 V8 receiving and upgraded intercooler, new four-exit exhaust system, larger throttle body, bigger injectors and a new pulley. The full suite of upgrades, which can also include a £6,090 suspension upgrade with 'KW' coilovers, brings the total car-plus-mods cost to around £60,000. Just think, you could by a Vesaro simulator rig for that!


They also had a right-handed "Eleanor Mustang" in the style of the hero car from the 2000 remake of Gone in 60 Seconds. Resembling a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500, it was even replete with nitrous oxide boost! The Hurst gear stick with its long bent arm is much less awkward to use than I'd thought, although the travel forwards and backwards is quite long.


Another 'Merican machine they deal with is the Cadillac Escalade. I don't have a good picture of the outside because it's so freakin' massive I couldn't get one. However, I did climb inside, which involved using a step. Once inside, I couldn't help but notice the quality... as it were. I always thought that jeering comments of American interior quality was a cliché mostly relied on by Jeremy Clarkson, but wow. I've read that American cars have been improving in quality of late, so maybe the Escalade is the level they're improving from. The wood trim felt for all the world like plastic. The smooth, shiny black plastic is basically identical to the sort used on £10 supermarket own-brand iPod accessories - my old PSP felt better and didn't flex when pushed like this stuff does. The metal lookalike trim is similarly smooth plastic, and at this point I couldn't trust the leather not to be vinyl.

The Escalade costs at least $74,000 in America, which converts directly into £51,000 or so. Later in the day, I sat in a Hyundai i20, which costs at least £13,000 (~$19,000) in the UK. The i20 had nicer quality interior materials. I'm not joking. Unless it's Sutton Bespoke that have gone out and bought plastics made from melted down bluetooth speakers, there are surely a lot of less disappointing ways to buy a hideous and vulgar SUV for the price of that sim rig...


I mean, for example, you could save up your pennies and cents to put that much money down on a Project Khan Flying Huntsman 6x6! I mean, OK, it's actually three times as expensive, but it also has 50% more wheels and 400% more exposed bolt heads. Surely that's worth the extra outlay alone?


Plus that might actually be real leather! Maybe. Although of course, the Defender has never been known for having brilliant interior ergonomics or a good driving position. But hey, if you're a patriotic Brit and liked the idea of that AMG G63 6x6 then at least it costs half as much as that quasi-military Merc.


This one has a turbo diesel engine, but the Flying Huntsman (is that like a fox hunter with a helicopter?) can also be had with a stretched front and and a GM LS3 V8 if you're a bit mad. I mean, why not?


Back on planet Earth, Infiniti has now launched the Q60, the replacement for the G37 Coupé. The Nissan luxury brand is slowly gaining traction in the UK, but still probably best known for having had their logos plastered on the Red Bull F1 cars from 2013-15. People should take a look at this, though, partly because the nearby Q30 tall hatch is cramped and nonsensical but mostly because this seems a worthy machine. First of all, it's a handsome thing from any angle. Infiniti's distinctive flowing design language has matured a little in this new generation while losing none of its character, nor size of grille for that matter. Secondly, the top-spec version of this car will have a 400 horsepower 3.0 twin-turbo V6, while people of lesser intent or cash can have a detuned 300bhp version or a more economical 208bhp four-cylinder single turbo. There are lots of adjustable modes and things, but really this isn't a full-on sports car, more like an everyday GT - one you're unlikely to see a lot of as most buyers play it safe with a C-Class, A5 or 4-Series.


There is even optional all-wheel-drive, but while the old G37 was known in Japan as the Nissan Skyline (not related to the GT-R since 2003), I don't believe the Q60's system is the Godzilla-spec ATTESA-ETS. Either way, this is more than just a dressed up 370Z with a fancy badge.


Inside it had a genuine air of quality throughout, with well finished leather and relaxing seats. I didn't get to play with the central touch screen, which would've been interesting to figure out, but the driving position was good and it all felt bespoke with no obvious carry-overs from Nissans (to my eyes). I'll be reading road test reviews with interest... not that I could afford one.


Yes, there were boring everyday cars at the show too, but why would I bother with those? This one caught my eye only because it made its world debut here. The MG GS is a new crossover from the Anglo-Chinese company that's looking to pinch sales from the Qashqais, Capturs and Kugas of the school run world. It looks much of a muchness, to be honest, like a less precise Volkswagen. I also heard a brand rep very defensively pointing out to someone that MG isn't directly related to Roewe, the wholly Chinese company born from the ashes of Rover. No no, MG may be owned by the same people (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation), but it's not a Chinese car, not really. Trust me on this.


However, one thing about it got under my skin. See that black plastic nipple where a button should be? It's not a button. It doesn't light up. It's just sort of there. What the hell is it?! Motion sensor (I haven't read any mention of gesture control...)? Air temperature sensor? Camera? It it the car's G-spot? Is that what 'GS' means? Probably not, and unfortunately the car was so new that nobody on the MG stand had any idea what it was... so it shall remain a mystery for the time being. Answers in the comments section, please!


Let's start wrapping things up with something less boring. Near the door was the VŪHL 05, a Mexican lightweight sports car that looks somewhat more serious than the Mastretta MXT ridiculed by TopGear several years ago. In fact, you may even recognise this car from Driveclub on PS4, if you've played Driveclub on PS4. It's a very cool looking thing, with input from an Italian design house and obvious carbon fibre two-tone combining to make something clean, minimal and very sporty. On paper it's looking to compete with Caterhams, Atoms and the new Zenos E10, although some reviewers call the handling a bit tame for that. Still, with a price tag of £60,000 and predicted production of just 25 cars a year, you're unlikely to see another one if you did rock up at Cadwell Park one day.


Powering the 05 is a Ford 2.0 EcoBoost engine tuned to either 240bhp or 285bhp (with 310lb/ft of torque) depending on your choice. Power is sent through a 6-speed manual transmission to the rear wheels, but there is no limited-slip differential, which is arguably an oversight. Thanks to its bonded aluminium structure and bare-bones fibreglass bodywork, the whole car weighs a mere 725kg or so, which is a whole 170kg (the weight of two fat blokes) lighter than the Alfa Romeo 4C and roughly 140kg lighter than a Lotus Elise. You can even order full-carbon bodywork to save another 30kg and titanium bolts to save 4.5kg more. Mind you, this car lacks a roof and lacks a windscreen, which is untrue of those two cars, so perhaps consider it more in the mould of the BAC Mono with its design-lead philosophy. The main difference there of course is that the VŪHL has a passenger seat.


Another thing this car has, as well as an aeroscreen over which warm radiator air blows, is an onboard camera between the headrests which you can use to record your laps, or your drive up an alpine pass, or some berk in an Audi pulling out in front of you and causing trouble. Really though, from what I've read, this isn't an apex-splitting track monster despite its outward appearance. The big carbon rear wing is there to make the overall aero more balanced rather than chasing maximum downforce. It has adjustable springs and dampers but it's been set up to be drivable on the road. That may make it seem like it has a mixed identity, but it provides a cool alternative to something like a KTM X-Bow as a weekend toy. I like it.


In some ways though, it's really all about those stripes. In art classes you're often told to consider "negative space," which the the space around objects rather than the objects themselves. In a similar vein, VŪHL have cut holes in this matte blue vinyl wrap to create racing stripes using the carbon fibre body panel underneath. Neat!


Nearby and on the way out, I spotted this little tyke. It's called the Riversimple Rasa and you're even less likely to have heard of this, because it's not even in a neat cool video game. It's a crowdfunded hydrogen fuel cell car designed for use in the city. It has a range of around 300 miles and aims to be on the market in 2018 following "beta tests" starting later this year. You won't actually be able to buy the car personally, instead the Rasa "will be available on subscription as a complete and cost-transparent service," and you're buying "mobility." I'm not sure what this actually means. Maybe it will be like the car equivalent of a Boris Bike?

I sat in this thing and it was snug but not cramped. Despite having a carbon fibre tub chassis weighing under 40kg, electric motors in each wheel and KERS that uses supercapacitors to store energy harvested under braking (there are no traditional brakes, the motors decelerate the car), this is no Rimac Concept_One. It's been designed for outright efficiency rather than performance, but happily the pursuit of light weight benefits both, hence the visible carbon fibre in the structure. As such, power isn't mentioned but Riversimple say this prototype weighs around 580kg and has done "over 60mph" on Welsh country lanes during testing. I didn't get to play with the central screen but the big simple buttons flanking it would suggest it's been designed to be easily understood.

You can read all about it here and here. The exterior design is pretty cool for being unashamedly aerodynamic, but the un-sporty proportions make me want to see this shape stretched and flattened into a supercar. That's not for these guys to do, though. Maybe I'll start drawing again...


And so that's pretty much it! Enjoy some quickfire captions below for the last few pictures.

Written by and for SmallBlogV8.
This is what it would look like if you had no legs and sat in the Morgan EV3.

This logo really makes me want Morgan to design a shooting brake!

This is the new Aston Martin Vantage GT8. Essentially, think of the GT12 and then remove four cylinders. Extreme aero is extreme!

We weren't allowed to sit in the plush new McLaren 570GT, but a salesman left the door open and I snapped the lowered door sill.

Adding to the GT-ness is a luggage shelf and side-hinged glass hatch where previously there was thin air.

The front of that Clive Sutton GT500 Eleanor replica. Shame the colours aren't right, really.


I leave you with an image of Battersea Power Station being renovated... or whatever they're doing to it.

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