The thoughts of Chris Gurton on motorsport, his photography, his work and his life in general. The thoughts, views and opinion's expressed in this blog are those of Chris Gurton and not necessarily those of any publication that he contributes to.

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The California T: Ferrari’s are back and now they are Turbocharged!

This year’s Geneva International Motor Show has been a hot topic of conversation, not least because of Apple’s latest lifestyle supplement ‘CarPlay’. But Ferrari have also been turning heads at the Swiss event, revealing the simply stunning California T, marking the return of turbocharged powertrains across their best-selling models.

The New Ferrari California T

The New Ferrari California T

Ferrari’s California collection is the company’s most adventurous series to date, and the elegant yet powerful T model offers over 550lb ft of torque as well as a massive direct-injection 3.8-litre, twin-turbocharged V8. This equivalates to jaw-dropping acceleration, boasting a 0-62mph in just 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 196mph. Although these figures are marginal improvements compared to the previous California, they’re still improvements, and shouldn’t be sniffed at in an industry where every millisecond saved is celebrated.

The Turbo Revolution

Every element of the Ferrari California has been completely overhauled to produce an economical powerhouse in the T-model, whilst still effortlessly representing the company’s entry into the turbo revolution. Although you wouldn’t usually consider one day insurance for such a car, at £155,000 the California T is only a few pennies more than the old model, and what you get in return is staggering, not least the extra 230lb ft or torque. Thankfully the T has retained its predecessor’s duel personality offered by the folding hardtop roof, so drivers can still have the best coupe and convertible experience.

Ferrari love to utilise parts of their car history in new models, but with the California T the engine is brand new, shared with their sleek Italian counterparts Maserati but also heavily adapted. According to Ferrari engineers, the deafening soundtrack that accompanies the engine is the most exhilarating any turbo has ever produced. Bearing in mind that their last model to utilise a turbo was the F40 Hypercar in 1992, Ferrari really have come out of the shadows with the California T.

Style With Substance

The California T’s exterior has also been subject to a small redesign, with influence from the iconic Pininfarina. Not only has the front grille been remodelled to look more aggressive, but the headlights now ooze into the wings giving a more streamlined appearance. The aerodynamics have even been touched on with a new triple-fence rear diffuser, and Ferrari have also improved the handling with a new steering box and remodelled cockpit. With one foot in the past and the other firmly in the present, Ferrari can now look to the future of their turbo collection with the California T, with the new model going on sale this autumn with a free and unlimited range 7-year maintenance package.

Are 2014 Formula 1 Cars the Ugliest we have seen?

With the second Bahrain test now completed, F1 fans have now seen enough of the new 2014 challengers to still hold a strong opinion that they are the ugliest car the grid has ever seen.

Torro Rosso's 'Anteater' Nose

Torro Rosso’s ‘Anteater’ Nose

Many of us believe that Formula 1 cars need to be a thing of beauty which stand out from the crowd and resembles a work of art. Williams were the first to shock the F1 community with their FW36 challenger which featured a peculiar anteater nose. McLaren followed suit with a weird looking tripod-effect nose and Lotus with its twin tusks diffidently caught the eye within the paddock, but the worst in my opinion was the Torro Rosso and the Caterham, it just looked wrong and it definitely didn’t look like an anteater. Even the great designer Adrian Newey who ensured his cars where aesthetically pleasing conceded that ‘this year’s Red Bull is unfortunately ugly’.

Caterham's take on the new nose

Caterham’s take on the new nose

So why have the new cars become so unbelievably ugly? Well, it’s all down to the new aerodynamic regulations for the 2014 season with the aim to increase safety. The regulation stipulates that the nose tip has to be 365mm lower than its predecessors.  The rule was introduced to prevent ‘T-bone’ crashes as well as cars launching over the top of others. The regulations instructs designers that ONLY the nose has to be a certain height and not the suspension or the front end of the monocoque, thus resulting in the radical designs of the nose we are seeing.

The new nose designs are to make the cars safer if involved in a collision

The new nose designs are to make the cars safer if involved in a collision

A lower nose will greatly reduce/block the aerodynamic flow under the car, therefore in order to maximise the airflow designers have retained the maximum permitted front monocoque then adding the minimum and amount of carbon fibre to comply with the nose height regulation whilst being strong enough to pass the crash test.

However, not all the cars have the weird anteater, finger whatever you want to call it nose. Both Mercedes and Ferrari have gone conservative with their design, by sloping the whole front section into a flat nose to create more down force enabling the car to have more front end grip through corners.

Ferrari have managed to make a half decent job of the new nose regs.

Ferrari have managed to make a half decent job of the new nose regs.

The odd one out from this is Lotus with its twin tusk design which attempt to presents slightly more total cross sectional area to the airflow, which I believe is a very clever design. The design as you will see has one of the two tusks slightly longer than the other; this is to comply with the minimum height regulation, a brilliant example of F1 designers pushing the design to the limit.

The 'Twin Tusk' offering from Lotus

The ‘Twin Tusk’ offering from Lotus

The 2012 Ferrari nose caused initial horror.

The 2012 Ferrari nose caused initial horror.

The thing with Formula 1 cars is that we all grow into the design and by the mid-season we end up loving them. In 2009 when the cars changed to taller slimmer rear wings and wider front wings we all hated, we all said (including myself) it didn’t look like F1 cars anymore and I personally ended up loving the new look. In 2012, the stepped noses where slaughtered by the F1 community especially with Ferrari’s Lego nose, but I ended up loving it and to this day I think it’s one of the most beautiful F1 cars I have ever seen. That’s why this year although initial reaction is negative, fans will accept the design and love it.

Guest Post by Hiten Solanki

Porsche 918 Spyder Review

Some annoyingly great-looking people are turning fifty this year. Lenny Kravitz, Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reaves will all reach their half-century in 2014, an age they barely look when combined together. And these folks who’ve never done a hard day’s graft in their life are not the only lookers to be turning fifty; as this year also marks the fiftieth birthday of the Porsche 911.

Car manufacturers are never ones to let a contrived sales opportunity slip through their figures and so Porsche have moved to commemorate this milestone by releasing two new vehicles at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The first is a special limited edition 911 Carerra S, whilst the other is the German manufacturer’s new Supercar – the 918 Spyder which will roar off the end of the production line with a mere 880 horsepower to its name.

Image: Porsche

The Porsche 918 Spyder

The 918 is not simply all about power and pace, key attributes though they may be. Instead the 918 Spyder is effectively Porsche’s answer to the McLaren P1 or the LaFerrari; a new future-minded hybrid petrol-electric supercar.  That aforementioned horsepower comes courtesy of both a V8 engine that delivers a hefty 612bhp and a further 270bhp from the hybrid electric motors that deliver power through the front and rear axles.

All this power contributes to some pretty lightening pace, with the 918 Spyder capable of going from 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds, making it from 0-124mph in 7.9 seconds and a whopping 0-186mph in 23 seconds. This power and pace is aided by somewhat fanatical weight-saving including magnesium wheels and body wrap instead of paint – but the electric hybrid engine is not light and so the Spyder still comes in at 1640kg, and that’s before you’ve taken out temporary car insurance and lumped your own significantly hefty frame into the driving seat for a test drive.

Image: PorscheThe 918 Spyder has all the flash extras you would expect from a modern Supercar. Drivers can select from three modes; ‘Race’ for optional performance, ‘Sport’ for, er, sporty driving and ‘E-Mode’ for reduced fuel consumption. And that fuel consumption remains pretty good for a car of the 918’s power, with an impressive 78 mpg.

Whilst the Porsche 918 Spyder may not have the performance and power of the McLaren P1 or the LaFerrari it does have other things going for it if you’re looking for a more complete vehicle. For the impatient generation that we are the main plus is the ability to charge the Spyder’s batteries in just twenty-five minutes courtesy of Porsche’s bespoke high-speed charger. So though the power may not be at the optimum of others, at least you don’t have to wait as long to use it.

To conclude, it seems the likes of Ferrari, Mclaren, Aston Martin and Porsche are involved ina supercar war, and what makes it more exciting is the upcoming new Honda NSX which is scheduled to undercut all of them whilst providing same driving experience. This should be interesting…

2014 Audi TT Review

If you read car reviews regularly you will be familiar with the sort of guff that reviewers tend to write when trying to describe a new car. We can’t just say it is metal, or it is shiny, or it is car shaped. Instead we have to find convoluted metaphors so as to cement not only a picture of the vehicle, but also our self-purpose as reviewers. Why? I don’t know, but I do it anyway even despite the potential to slip into a Jeremy Clarkson-esque “If this car were a woman…” parody.

To bring that meandering paragraph back to point, I recently read a description of the new Audi TT in which the vehicle was described as ‘Bauhaus-inspired’. What exactly is supposed to connect this two-door coupe with a modernist German School of Art and Design of the 1920s and 30s I have no idea. I for one would welcome a truly modernist car; one which rejected the realist notion of the car and instead parodied it with a simplified angular vehicle that contravened perspective and had all its wheels on one side and one massive door, but alas the new Audi TT is not it.

The new 2014 Audi TT

The new 2014 Audi TT

Instead the 2014 Audi TT is a nice metal car. Ok that perhaps is not doing the vehicle justice. It is a very good looking coupe, rounded and curved with pronounced wheel arches and a smooth subtle finish. It looks good, as you would expect from a TT, and that extends to the inside too where you will find high quality materials in use throughout, and a new slimmer dashboard where Audi have incorporated the central multimedia interface into the driver’s instrument panel, creating a multi-faceted display screen that seems straight out of a turn of the Millennium arcade driving simulator.

As for the drive itself it comes powered by a four-cylinder 2.0 litre turbocharged powertrain that gives a reported 211 horsepower and 258lb-ft of torque. Going from stationary to 60mph in 5.3 seconds, should you ever find a situation where that needs to happen it has an inner-city fuel economy of about 22 miles per gallon. The new TT is much lighter than predecessors, 60kg to be specific. The weight loss means better fuel economy and handling where you know that you can throw the car into corners and it will stick thanks to its 4 wheel drive.

The Audi's New look Cockpit.

The Audi’s New look Cockpit.

With Audi’s high-tech magnetic ride damper system available as an option this could well be the smoothest TT you’ve ever driven. Don’t believe me? Well get yourself some one day car insurance in place and take a TT for a test drive when they hit the market later this year.

Ultimately then this is a great and much anticipated car; so spare the marketing spiel – the unnecessary flim-flam of Bauhaus and whatever else, and just enjoy it for what it is.

Why the Supra is keeping Toyota cool to this day!

If you had to name your top five coolest car makes, or even your top ten come to that matter, it is likely that Toyota would not feature among them. The long-serving Japanese manufacturers have been churning out vehicles since 1936, but they’re hardly the most exhilarating of brands. They gave us the conservative Prius and their UK operation trundles out of a warehouse in nowheresville, Derbyshire.

However, there is one vehicle, one model that enables this staid, stamp-collecting, jackets-with-leather-elbow-pads, manufacturer to retain a sense of cool and keep it clinging onto fashionable and desirable by its very regulation finger nails, and that is the Toyota Supra.

The Supra help Toyota earn a 'Cool' badge.

The Supra help Toyota earn a ‘Cool’ badge.

An all-time classic sports car, the Supra was first produced by Toyota in 1978 for the Japanese market initially, before launching overseas a year later. The Mark I Supra was derived from the Toyota Celica and though initially a 110hp vehicle it had its pace nudged up to 116hp in its latter years. Within four years the Mark II Supra had emerged, angular and 80s and with a suspension tuned by Lotus it took the Supra to a new level and new audience collecting an Import Car of the Year Award in the US.

The awards picked up by the Mark II, plus a successful venture into the British Touring Car Championships helped to make the Supra a firm favourite as it continued to develop to the Mark III, with its 3 litre 200hp engine, in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

However, it is arguably the Mark VI version of the Supra that made the biggest impact. Launched in 1993, the curvier body effectively remarketed the Supra as a would-be coupe. Having gone on to feature in films such as The Fast and the Furious and the game Need for Speed the Mark VI has become a highly sought-after classic, and it is this demand for the car, 12 years after it last rolled off the production line that helps Toyota retain a sense of cool in an otherwise beige world.

Image Copyright Chris Gurton Photography

Film and Video games made the Supra an instant Modern Classic and is still a highly desirable car among many fanatics.

Just to give you a little more background the Mark VI was a naturally aspirated iteration compared to its sibling and produced 220bhp and revved up 6,000 rpm. But what made it really stand out was the two twin turbo’s strapped to the engine which gave it an additional 100 horsepower and the torque that it generated would give any car enthusiastic wet dreams.

A once-in-a-lifetime car, so, if you know someone who owns a Supra, then you need to butter them up, take out one-day car insurance and get them to let you take it out for a test drive immediately. You may never get another chance, and with it now being a rare sight on the roads most people still hold the upmost respect for it, a true engineering marvel without any of the electronic gizmos we get today.

LAMBORGHINI ANNOUNCE URUS SUV

When is a luxury sports car manufacturer not a luxury sports car manufacturer? When it’s making SUVs that’s when. The Italian car giant Lamborghini have caused something of a stir by announcing that they will be returning to the SUV market for 2016/17 when they plan to launch their new Urus.

Image: Lamborghini

The New Lamborghini Urus

As eluded to in the opening paragraph this isn’t the first time that Lamborghini have taken the plunge in the SUV market. Back in the mid 1980s they launched the LM002, a V12 powered off-roader that was more super dune buggy than SUV, but still found favour in the Gulf States in particular.

Things have moved on a lot since 1986 though, the Berlin Wall has come down, the Channel Tunnel has been completed and the world of SUVs has changed dramatically. But despite the shift towards more comfortable and high-end SUVs the Urus, on release, will still be the only SUV on the market from a luxury sports car brand.

Unveiled at the Beijing Motor Show, the Lamborghini Urus is an angular, pointed SUV that from some angles looks not unlike a jacked-up tourer. With a front end that appears to be grimacing, it is the sort of car the bad-guy in a suburban family-chase movie would drive.

So why are Lamborghini considering the SUV market? The answer, as it did for their LM002 resides in the East, with demand for luxury SUVs high in the oil-rich Arabic states and newly wealthy countries of East Asia, particularly China. Big car and big name mean big money, and if Lamborghini can get the Ursus right they will inevitably sell well to those who like to be seen to be doing well.

The LM002 was not the most beautiful of Lamborghini's creations.

The LM002 was not the most beautiful of Lamborghini’s creations.

They will have their competitors though; Bentley have already dipped a toe in the SUV market and Porsche appear poised to tread a similar line in order to satisfy a burgeoning market. With the LM002 in their back catalogue though Lamborghini have an early advantage and look set to push forward with a powerful 4 litre twin-turbo V8 engine for the Ursus, with both hybrid and diesel editions available, brilliant for the economy minded driver who can get a good rate on their one day insurance.

Now expected in 2016 rather than the initially forecast 2017 the Ursus is slated to retail at a price between $150,000 and $200,000. As indicative figures go, that’s a ballpark in the mould of Dodger Stadium, so you might want to hold off going all out on that initial purchase and take out one day car insurance for a test drive first, to get an idea of what the Ursus can offer.

The Ford Mustang is Coming

A number of great American Institutions made there ways over to these shores in 1960s. From Elvis Presley to Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix, Dustin Hoffman’s Midnight Cowboy, and the Adventures of Star Trek. But for car and motoring enthusiasts there has always been one glaring omission; an American classic which has never been released in the UK; the Ford Mustang. Well, it may have taken half a century, but at last the Mustang is here and set for release in the next year.

The original Mustang is an undisputed classic, the vehicle that gave birth to the ‘pony car’ style (coupes with long hoods and short rear decks) in the US and would be Ford’s best-selling vehicle since the Model A of the 1920s, a period when choice in for motorists was slim and slimmer.  The vehicles cult status became cemented in 1968 when Steve McQueen tore through the streets of San Francisco in one in the film Bullitt.

Image Copyright Chris Gurton Photography

The original Mustang is hugely popular with car fans around the globe.

So with this much hype and anticipation can the 2015 Ford Mustang really live up to its billing or will it be the Waterworld of motoring; huge billing for what proved ultimately to be a best-forgotten flop. Ahead of the launch Ford has already made bold moves on the Mustang’s make-up, but will they pay off?

The engine and chassis are the two areas where the most marked change will be felt. In terms of the former, though a 5litre V8 engine version will be available the majority of models on sale in the UK will instead utilise a 2.3 litre turbocharged EcoBoost engine which will deliver 304 horsepower, but will also offer better fuel economy, good news for anyone seeking day insurance. As for the chassis Ford are set to implement a multi-link independent suspension to improve the ride quality.

Image: Ford.com

The new 2015 Mustang.

For the 2015 version Ford’s design team in Michigan have tweaked with their most recent Mustang design, making the car lower – as much as 7cms lower on the boot – and wider too. The wheel arches being the widest point of the vehicle retaining the snarling appearance of all classic takes on the Mustang.

The Mustang’s interior has been designed to reflect the power and strength of the Mustang’s backstory; cockpit like circular dials surround the driver, with a row of flip switches controlling a number of interior features, whilst a decidedly manly slice of aluminium across the dash satisfies the vehicles decidedly masculine past.

All the early signs suggest that the Ford Mustang’s UK release could well have been worth the long wait so it could be some time to fulfil those childhood fantasies by taking out one day car insurance and setting off on as long a test drive as possible to enjoy the latest great American import.

Image: Ford.com

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