Self-Driving Cars: Removing the fun from driving?

Self-driving cars are headline news. No longer the stuff of sci-fi, the recent government announcement that the precursor to autonomous motor vehicles – Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS) – will be written into law this year has got us thinking about the fun element of a car that drives itself?

After all, if you’re reading this then, for you, driving isn’t just a chore to get you from A to B: it’s the joy of the ride itself. Can you imagine life without the thrill of 400 hp roaring into life as you press pedal to metal?

No. Us neither… Right now, petrol heads around the globe are experiencing the same nagging unease that horse coachmen of the late 1800s must have done with the motor car threatening their beloved method of transportation. 

So, are we right to be apprehensive? Or will the advent of the self-driving car be something that we’ll fall in love with?

What do we mean by self-driving cars, exactly?

When we think of a car that truly drives itself, we imagine jumping inside, saying “hit the beach” and settling back for a snooze/Insta hit/Greggs fix/insert chosen activity. However, although the tech is getting there, such futuristic reality won’t be around for a few years yet.

Self-driving cars, at least at first, will be limited to aspects such as ALKS, whereby the technology will keep a car within a single lane at speeds of up to 37mph and a driver able to retake control within 10 seconds. We can hardly contain our excitement…! Not quite the Avengers or Westworld scenario we’d like to think of. 

While Johnny Cabs are still some way off (Total Recall reference – keep up…), with behemoths such as Tesla and Google working their tiny asses off to make self-driving vehicles a reality, it’s gonna happen sooner rather than later. Tesla is already pushing the boundaries with its semi-autonomous Autopilot. Mercedes has similar technology and Google has been working on this since 2009 with their newly branded Waymo project.

It’s easy to assume that the UK is the epicentre of the world when it comes to such tech, but nothing could be further from the truth. Other countries, such as the good ol’ US of A are far more advanced in putting an infrastructure in place. One can only imagine how the tech-obsessed SE Asian countries are approaching this (like a duck to water, we’ll bet). 

But enough of that – it’s time to get back to talking about the fun factor. Because, let’s face it, the thought of self-driving cars is likely to be as much fun as taking a National Express from Newcastle to Milton Keynes…

And what about the trust issue?

Learning to trust a car to get you safely to your destination is another huge issue. As you hone your driving skills you gain confidence to know what manoeuvres and speeds are safe to undertake. You are also a human being – able to comprehend the concept of human error. Can a computer ever truly understand that curve ball…?

We have to say, we think that this might be one of the biggest hurdles that the concept of self-driving cars will have to overcome. Nurturing such a relationship between humans and tech is going to take some doing.

On the other hand, could self-driving cars have some advantages

But then… What about dull, boring journeys. Long trips – travelling hundreds of miles through repetitive faceless scenery might be better undertaken by a self-driving car. Instead of arriving at your destination a washed out, caffeine-fuelled wreck, you’ll emerge bright eyed and bushy tailed, thanks to a few hours of R&R. What about that hideous journey through stop-start congested city traffic (or, indeed, the M25 during rush hour?). Letting technology take the strain certainly sounds more fun than driving yourself, we must admit.

Self-driving cars – truly autonomous, self-driving cars – could provide a very real alternative to rail travel or short-haul air travel. And in nervous pandemic times it’d certainly be a more attractive option than mixing with the masses who may or may not be expelling viral load with every gasp. There’s also the aspect of safety, as self-driving cars will remove risks associated with drink or drug driving, fatigue and poor driving skills.

While you’ll never be able to remove the adrenaline junkie lure of man or woman vs. the open road, there’s something to be said for letting the car take the strain in certain situations. Self-driving cars are coming, there’s no doubt about it. Let’s just pray that they leave the ‘off’ button there for when we want playtime…

Image by falco from Pixabay

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From Fantasy to Affordable: Supercars for Every Budget

For petrolheads everywhere, owning and driving a supercar ranks way, way up on the bucket list. But is it a realistic ambition? Is there really such a thing as  affordable supercars?

You bet your ass there is…

The ultimate ride can, very easily, represent an eye-wateringly substantial outlay – in some cases you’d probably pay less for your own private Caribbean island! Happily, we’ve got some great news. If a supercar is on your ideal gift list, then there’s sure to be an option that fits the bill. And if your numbers come up on the lottery…? Well, there’s a fantasy set of wheels out there that’ll look pretty neat parked on your driveway.

So, without further ado. Let’s take a look at some of the supercar options that you could go out and purchase today.

Affordable Supercars to Dream Machines (AKA only in your dreams)

  • 2 genuinely affordable supercars
  • 2 affordable(ish) supercars within the realms of reasons 
  • If you need to ask, you can’t afford it (but there’s nowt wrong with fantasising)

2 genuinely affordable supercars

Most of us have a car. And if you’re reading this, then it’s pretty much guaranteed that the sleek lines and all manner of power beneath the bonnet is something you aspire to add to your assets. After all, if you’re going to the expense of tax, MOT, insurance, fuel, maintenance and all the other aspects of car ownership, then it makes perfect sense to have one that you love.

So let’s take a look at some of the cars that you could realistically consider purchasing today.

  • Lotus Elise: Coming in at £41,214 to £49,145 for the latest models, according to What Car, the ever-vibrant Elise is certainly a great option. Of course, if you can’t stretch to that you can always pick up a second-hand version for far less. With a more than acceptable 0-60mph time of 4.2 seconds, it might not have the rocket-like take off of some of the others we’re going to talk about, but it’s certainly enough to make your eyes water. You could also consider the Lotus Exige, with prices starting from £68,465.
  • Nissan GTR: Another realistic option, starting at £83,865 from new, this little baby is all about the power and the speed. Boasting 3.5 seconds to rip from 0-60mph, it’ll certainly leave most other road vehicles standing in its wake. If you can’t stretch to a new model you can pick up extraordinary bargains for models dating back a few years.

2 affordable(ish) supercars within the realms of reason 

  • Audi R8: You’ll have to part with over £111,000 of the Queen’s pounds to own a new R8. But if it’s speed you’re after, then the 5.2 litre V10 model is enough to make you weep with joy. Plus, it’s not too shabby in the looks department either…
  • Aston Martin Vantage: Starting at around £120,000 new, the Vantage certainly isn’t cheap. But if you’re happy to go for a pre-owned model, then you can benefit from a significant reduction on this price. It’s got plenty of grunt, as you’d expect from such a 007-esque vehicle, not to mention the many admiring glances you’ll attract as you cruise the leafy lanes of suburbia.

If you need to ask, you can’t afford it (but there’s nowt wrong with fantasising)

  • Bugatti La Voiture Noire: Last year, Cristiano Ronaldo added what’s reputed to be the most expensive road legal car ever made to his collection. At a cool £13 million (18 million US dollars), it’s not one that most of us will get the chance to take ownership of – and that’s because, even if we could, only a single model has been produced. If there ever was an item that represented quite how much a superstar footballer earns, then this Bugatti has to be it. And yes, it’s an obscene amount of money. But go on – admit it. If you could, you would, wouldn’t you?
  • Pagani Huayra Tricolore: Insanely fast, this uber-light carbon fibre speed machine boasts a 8.4L twin turbo V6 engine built by Mercedes AMG. Only three are to be produced in 2021, and from the very first glance it’s obvious that the design is all about reaching the upper echelons of velocity. Whilst its looks scream race track, it is – in fact – a fully road legal set of wheels. So if you’ve the odd £4.9 million (5.5 million euro) hanging around, then maybe it’s time to book yourself a test drive.

Whatever level you set your sights upon, supercar driving really is available to all. The fun factor is set to max, no matter whether you’re behind the wheel of a Lotus Elise, Bugatti’s dream machine or anything in between. And while Ronaldo’s motor might not hit the second hand market anytime soon, other crazily-priced vehicles become affordable supercars as the years go by. Now… Where are the latest listings on Auto Trader?

Image by lbrownstone from Pixabay

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The Evolution of Hybrid and Electric Supercars

In 2021, we’re all aware of the need to stop using fossil fuels. This, of course, includes petroleum – the very essence that propels vehicles, and supercars in particular, to achieve mind blowing speeds. Thankfully, with technology advanced to bring us alternative power options, we’re finally ready to enter the era of the hybrid and electric supercars.

If you’ve yet to get close up and personal with what’s available you’d be forgiven for thinking that eco-conscious motoring means a lifelong sentence of Toyota Prius ownership.  But boredom will be the furthest thing from your mind should you be fortunate to take the driving seat in what has to be some of the most exciting rides on the planet today.

Not convinced yet? Well, join us on a journey that’ll have you gagging to do your bit to save the planet if it means taking the wheel of one of these little beauties…

Did it all Begin with BMW Innovation?

Hybrid technology: The BMW i8

Love them or hate them, BMW should probably be credited with bringing the concept of hybrid tech to the world of the supercar. When they unveiled the BMW i8 at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show it was the first step to the mainstream high-powered hybrid motoring that’s fast becoming the norm. It followed in the footsteps of the i3 city run-around and was designed to bring the power of electricity to the world of high-octane motoring.

Blink and you’ll miss them – McLaren, Ferrari, Porsche and others

Of course, the big guns of the supercar world were soon to answer back. McLaren brought us the P1, with its 3.8 litre twin-turbo V8 combined with an electric motor that produced – wait for it – 903bhp and 723lb ft (980Nm) of torque. Only 375 have been made and it stands proudly as the jewel in the vehicle-maker’s crown.

Ferrari answered the challenge with one of the fastest hybrid’s on the market today – the SF90 Stradale. It features the manufacturer’s most powerful V8 engine ever made, a 3.9 litre monster that produces 769bhp. This is combined with three electric motors that take the output to 986bhp, leading to a vehicle that boasts 0-62mph in 2.5 seconds and a top speed of 211mph.

There’s also Ferrari’s whimsically named, LaFerrari, uniquely equipped with an F1-derived hybrid solution. This boasts a cool 950bhp, top speed of 217mph and 0-62mph in 2.6 seconds.

Other vertigo-inducing speed machines include:

  • The Porsche 918 Spyder: With top end of 211mph and 875bhp.
  • The Honda Acura NSX: This 2nd generation from a maker better known for superbikes than supercars is definitely a contender, having a very satisfactory top speed of 191mph and an impressive 2.9 seconds to undertake 0-62mph.
  • The Lamborghini Sian FKP 37: Sporting sci-fi movie star looks, it’s the most powerful car Lambo has ever produced.
  • The Mercedes Project One: Fancy a road legal F1 car? Then perhaps this is the dream machine for you. With an electric motor on each front wheel, a rear axle powered by a 1.6 litre V6, a 160kw motor also driving the rear wheels and an 80kW motor eliminating drag on the turbo, this little baby has an excess of 1,000bhp and can exceed 124mph in 6.5 seconds. And the cost? A mere £2.5 million. 275 are being produced, and all have been pre-sold…

But Then… What About Pure Electric: Supercars that’ll make you weep with desire

From Tesla to Lotus, the best electric supercars of 2021

Now then. Hybrids are all very well. But if you want to save the planet then surely it needs to be all-electric? And this is where the supercar dream becomes unbelievably sexy.

So let’s take a look at what are, fingers crossed, vehicles that are primed and ready to grace the planet during 2021 (and we bet you won’t have heard of many of them)

  • The Dendrobium D-1: Fancy buying British? Then this Williams Advanced Engineering developed and UK built is the brainchild of the team that developed the McLaren F1. Faster than fast, it offers 1,800bhp and, we have to say, is one of the most futuristic looking of all that will potentially become reality this year.
  • The Tesla Roadster (second generation): Which is, by all accounts, one of – if not the – fastest road car on the planet, with a top speed of more than 250mph. When (and of course, if) this little gem becomes reality there’s no worries about range, as Musk promises a range of over 600 miles. 
  • The Lotus Evija: If you want to get your hands on the fully-electric beauty created by Lotus then we’re sad to tell you that you’re out of luck. Only 130 of the Evija are being produced for rollout this year (2021), and they’ve all sold out. It boasts an incredible 2,000bhp, has a top speed of 200mph and will whisk you from 0-62mph in under 2 seconds. 
  • The Aspark Owl: At just under 3 million euro, this Japanese manufacturer (but Italian build) is another that’ll return a 0-62mph in less than 2 seconds. The torque is off the scale (2,000Nm) and it’ll reach well over 200mph.
  • The Nio EP9: This one actually exists! Not only that, but it’s managed a 6 minute 49.5 second lap of the Nürburgring with Peter Drumbrek. The Neo is also a contender for the science fiction stakes, with slitted headlights and pumped up arches that allows it to be able to pull over 2.5 lateral G in the corners, so we’re led to believe.
  • The Drako GTE: At $1.25 million US dollars and only 25 to be made, this 1,200bhp example is, bizarrely, a 4-seater. Not quite a family car for most, but if it does make its way into production there’s sure to be a few dads and mums out there who’d be happy to take it on the school run, we’re sure.

So there you have it. Hybrid and electric supercars and hypercars that prove, once and for all, that at some point we’ll be able to wave goodbye to the combustion engine for good. Not this year, or perhaps not even this decade – but at some point in the near distant future, we’ll all be plugging in instead of fuelling up. 

Along with repurposing, recycling, composting and veganism, the era of the electric car is here to stay. Now, anyone know how we wangle a test drive of one of the above…?

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Driving a Supercar in Europe? The kit you really need to pack.

Much has been written about the bits and pieces you need to take when driving in Europe. Passports, insurance, driving licence, blah blah blah… Here at Radical Rally we like to credit our readers with a little bit of nous – we kinda think that you’ve already got the obvious on the list.

The thing is, rolling in a supercar is a little different from, say a 4×4, tourer, or even a regular family estate. Not only do you have way less room for random stuff, there’s also slightly differing needs. So without further ado, here’s our alternative list for the must-haves to pack when driving in Europe.

Driving in Europe: The supercar essentials

OK, so it goes without saying that minimalist is the way forward. However, on your travels you need to be prepared for every occasion. One minute you’re hiking in the Pyrenees, the next you’re donning your glad rags to hit the casinos in Monte Carlo. Dressing to impress from the storage space of an Aston or Lambo takes careful consideration.

Packing a space saving wardrobe

Ladies can’t go wrong with a classic, soft-touch tunic dress. Check out this one from Hotouch. It takes up minimal room and can be dressed up or down with a simple change of footwear. Add a beautiful scarf, such as one from Tory Burch, and you’re all set to rub shoulders with any royalty or celebs you might meet on your travels.

Guys will love the ease of the crease-resistant range from Orvis. Team an Oxford shirt with a waistcoat for that no-jacket-required vibe. If you don’t want to waste precious packing room on an extra pair of trousers, then rock the look with a dark-coloured pair of trekking pants. You’ll be amazed at how smart they are, plus you can go for a convertible option so they double as shorts as well. 

A light pair of flippies works for warm, everyday wear. We’re fans of those from Reef, but there’s loads out there to choose from. When the mercury drops think insulating but light, such as these Merino men’s wool runners from All Birds. They’re also slick enough to be worn to that silver service restaurant in St Moritz as well.

We could go on but we think you get the picture. Select your wardrobe carefully and it’ll only take up minimal room in the (virtually non-existent) storage space.

Getting techie with it…

No doubt you’ve already got a phone with a great camera, such as the  iPhone 12 Pro, or the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. But if you’re anything like us then you like to travel with a few extra gadgets. By far the best way to get a selection of devices online while abroad is with a mobile WiFi router. Huawei do both 4G and 5G options that connect up to 10 phones/tablets/laptops. Just insert a sim from any country and boom! WiFi for them all.

Upgrade your cloud storage and you’ll never need worry about running out of room to keep those holiday snaps. Include a plug adaptor (get a worldwide one and be done with it), a multi-USB port and a decent power bank. We love those from Anker for their size and portability.

Finding your way when driving in Europe

While some supercars might sport a sat-nav, many remove such luxuries for the additional grunt and power we all crave from our ride. So download the necessary onto your phone – Waze is our favourite by far. Mostly because it gives you great community sourced updates on speed traps and Police locations.

You might also want to consider these apps because they can be accessed offline (provided you have downloaded the maps for your area in advance).

  • Google maps
  • Here WeGo
  • Sygic GPS

You might also want to slide an old-fashioned European map book in somewhere, just in case of any IT issues.

A little bit of luxury

Of course, you don’t want to leave all the home comforts behind. So pack a Molton Brown travel set for when the hotel toiletries aren’t quite up to standard. And how about this wine cooler bag with glasses? Perfect for that sundowner tipple at that romantic beachside spot before you walk to your hotel.

When it comes to dining on the go, you’ll need a picnic blanket that’s both funky and small to pack. Those from Just A Joy take up far less room than most. You can also elevate the alfresco dining experience with a Joseph and Joseph cutlery set. After all, we might be travelling light but it doesn’t mean we need to become savages…

The key to packing a supercar for driving in Europe is down to the planning. Strip it down to the bare essentials – then see how much room you’ve got left. That’s the area you can fill with those can’t-live-without luxuries. And with the small blip of lockdown that we’re currently living, there’s no better use of your time than getting prepped for your next big road trip. 

It’s armchair shopping at its best and the perfect way to while away the dark winter nights before the post-pandemic dawn that awaits us in 2021…

Image by MonacoCannes from Pixabay

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Supercar Porn: Speed, sound, & looks for the ultimate dream ride

What’s the next best thing to driving your dream machine in an awesome location? It’s got to be salivating over others indulging in the act that’s the fantasy of every red-blooded male out there (and, we have to say, a healthy number of uber-cool ladies too – no sexism allowed here, thank you very much…). Welcome to the Best Supercar Driving Experiences: The ultimate speed machines.

So come – join us on a cruising flight of fancy as we discover some of the best supercar driving experiences, not to mention fawning over some of the most amazing feats of engineering known to man. 

Welcome to supercar porn…

Go Gumball… OO7 style

600 miles in an Aston Martin Vulcan! What’s not to like…?

Ferrari vs. McLaren vs. Lambo

We challenge you to predict the outcome in this epic drag race… This is sound and vision at its very best – guaranteed to send chills down your spine.

Listen and Dream: Some of the world’s rarest supercars

OK, so you might need a lottery win to be able to get your hands on something like this. But even watching and listening gives us the feels…

Drifting in a Beemer

Love his or loathe him, watching the Hamster go back to driving school is definitely worth a few minutes of your time.

The Fastest of 2020

Speed isn’t everything. Although – when you feast your eyes on these beauties then, actually, velocity is pretty high up on the “I want it” scale…

And then there’s the Most Expensive…

Introducing our 2020 list for Father Christmas…

Presidential Choices: From boring to ostentatious

A fascinating walk through the cars of all the US presidents. Who d’you think has the most OTT collection? (P.S. There’s no prizes for guessing correctly, btw…)

When it comes to pinning down the best supercar driving experience we’ve all got differing ideas as to what car takes the top spot. In our humble opinion, it all comes down to the vibes you get on the day – and not necessarily dependent on the price or spec of your wheels.

Here’s hoping you got as much of a buzz watching these vids as we did. Maybe next time we’ll do a ‘best of’ list featuring our personal selfies and films from some of our best rally moments –  and really rile the green-eyed monster within you.

‘Till then – keep it real, keep cruisin’, and most of all – keep having a blast…

Image by DRIVAR from Pixabay

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GT (Grand Tourer) or Supercar for a Rally or Road Trip?

Planning on hitting the road? Then you might want to give a little thought as to your choice of wheels, and whether you’ll get the best experience from  GT or supercar.

We have to say, it’s a tough call. Each has a plethora of reasons why they’d be preferable, and when push comes to shove, it boils down to a matter of personal preference. So let’s drill deeper into the attributes of both rides, and finish up with a few road test results for cars produced over the last decade.

The Basic Differences Between a GT and a Supercar

The main difference between the two is that a GT (grand tourer or grand turismo) is a sports car that’s been given a few upgrades to provide extra comfort when driving long distances. For instance, they might boast:

  • Softer suspension
  • More luggage space
  • Larger, more comfortable seats
  • Body kits

Because of this, they tend to be heavier and larger than sports and supercars, but are still considered to be incredibly high performance vehicles.

A supercar tends to be defined by a single overriding characteristic: namely, performance – both in speed and handling. This increased capability leads to cars that are a little harder to handle than a GT, and the usability and comfort tends to be compromised. But, let’s face it, supercars have that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that stirs something primeval in the pit of any red-blooded male… And it’s this very aspect that makes them an aspirational vehicle to drive and own.

However, there’s no doubting that today’s supercars are certainly far more user-friendly than those of yesteryear, and many people happily drive them on a regular basis and enjoy their prestige and sheer muscle on shorter road trips.

5 Reasons to Choose a GT for your Road Trip

These are some of the reasons you might sway towards a GT for your road trip adventure.

1.     The combination of performance and luxury: Specifically designed for on-road use, you benefit from additional levels of comfort and an awesome level of kick-ass power when you hit the gas…

2.     Designed for high-speed driving with long distances in mind: The best GT cars boast the best characteristics of sport/supercars, but they’re not as mentally or physically tiring to drive for extended periods of time.

3.     More room for kit: They have more space to pack your bags and anything else you might want to bring with you on a road trip.

4.     Better for your passengers: Your co-driver and/or passengers demand a level of comfort as well. GTs tend to have a bigger cabin so make for a nicer experience for those not behind the wheel.

5.     Look pretty damn cool!: GTs don’t lag behind in the looks stakes. Examples include the Mercedes GT Coupe, the BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo and the undeniably sexy Lexus LC that even boasts a hybrid version if you’re thinking of your carbon footprint.

5 Reasons to Choose a Supercar for your Road Trip

Of course, if power is where it’s at, then you won’t need any convincing that a supercar is the only way to go…

1.     They offer the ultimate in performance: Quite simply, nothing compares to a supercar when it comes to road-legal performance. Offering an experience only slightly tweaked from pure track cars, you can push your driving skills to the limit on a long distance, supercar road trip.

2.     You’ll turn heads wherever you go: There’s something about the look and guttural growl of a supercar that hits something in our inner psyche—we challenge anyone to not turn in awe to view the sheer magnificence of, for example,  a Lamborghini Huracán Evo or a Maserati Quattroporte.

3.     They’re dedicated to speed: Whether this means opening it up on the German autobahns or testing your corner and bends skills on mountain roads, you can rest easy that nothing has been sacrificed in order to provide you a racetrack-handling experience.

4.     However hard you push it, there’s still more to give: Most of us will never achieve the full potential of a supercar’s abilities. But hey—that’s surely part of their charm? You can also take a road trip detour to spend some time on a racetrack along the way, further developing your driving talents in a car that will always rise to the occasion.

5.     They—Look—Awesome… End of…

Which GT or Supercar? The best road tests of the last decade

2014 McLaren 650 S

McLaren is perhaps one of the first marques to spring to mind when you think of supercars. And for good reason. The 2014 McLaren 650 S comes in a Spider and Coupe version that got the balance between performance, grunt, and drivability just right, in our humble opinion. If you’re looking for the upgraded version, its 2017 replacement – the 720 S is a lighter, stiffer alternative for the power-purists out there.

2012 Lamborghini Aventador 

Elegant and with aeronautic-inspired design, this 2012 Lambo is as impressive today as it was when it first hit the streets. Choose from the roadster or coupe version for a drive that kicks ass and guarantees all eyes will be on you, whether you’re ripping up the tarmac or posing through town…

2015 Aston Martin Vanquish

The minor changes made on the previous model elevated this GT from awesome to simply-freakin’-incredible! OK, so it didn’t rock Clarkson’s world (but then, does anyone really take his word as gospel on everything…?), but the 2015 version drew legions of happy punters across the world to extol its virtues.

2019 Bentley Continental GT

A grand tourer in every sense of the word, this is the epitome of comfort, performance, and head-turning glory that you expect from one of the most prestigious car-makers in the world. A technologically evolved machine that may not take your breath away in the way that supercar might, but in the GT class it sits proudly at the very top of the tree.

So… What is the Best GT or Supercar for a Road Trip?

So… GT or supercar for a road trip? The answer really does depend on your vibe.

Interestingly, the best car for road trips might differ according to your needs at the time. Are you taking a passenger or the family? Are you heading to a location to pit your driving abilities against the terrain? Do you need to take loads of stuff with you? Such factors will influence your requirements and help determine whether a GT or supercar will best suit your requirements.

Whichever you settle on, enjoy. Remember it really is the ride the counts, so select your chariot with the care it deserves. 

Happy motoring

Images by sylway Voorhuissen and Cam Bowers from Pixabay

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When You Can’t Leave The Island: UK lockdown driving destinations

OK, so no-one can say that lockdown is fun. But we all appreciate its necessity and our personal obligations. But as we move into phase 2 of the pandemic planning it’s only natural that we’re starting to think about jumping behind the wheel and hitting the road – just for the hell of it…

Even though there’s been a little relaxing of the rules, we’re certainly not advocating throwing caution to the wind – but there’s nothing wrong with getting prepared. Being as it looks likely that overseas travel is on hold for the foreseeable future, we thought it timely (and morale boosting) to set our sights somewhat closer to home.

So, without further ado, feast your eyes on our ultimate guide to some of the best British drives just waiting to be discovered…

Lockdown Liberation: Corners & bends

There’s something about powering through a corner that brings out the ‘grunt’ in all of us. Information, position, speed, gear, accelerate… it’s all about your ability to process the data as the road unfolds before you and then – pow! Makes us shiver just thinking about it.

We’ve scoured the four nations of the UK to bring you some of the most awesome offerings out there. It’s time to find out just how twisted we really are…

Best British Drives: Can you handle these epic winding thoroughfares? 

  • The Lake District: Hardknott Pass: Not one for the faint hearted (or those without a head for heights) – this is hills and hairpins at their very best. It runs between Eskdale and the Duddon Valley and is at the very heart of this iconic national park. One of the steepest roads in England, this is definitely one for any petrol head’s bucket list. Find out more at Visit Cumbria – Hardknott Pass
  • Wales – Wild Snowdonia: Starting in Portmeirion, follow 70 miles of twisting glory to Porthmadog, Tremadog and onto Rhyd (A498 and B4410). Then had to Ffestiniog via the A487 and A496, before leaving the main road and embracing the isolated curves of the B4391/B4407 to Betws-y-Coed. There’s a brief foray with the A5 before taking the A4086 towards the might of Snowdon and beyond, to finish at the granite delight that is Caernarvon Castle. More info available at Visit Wales.
  • Wales – The Black Mountain Pass: At 23 miles it’s not the longest drive, but oh-boy, does it pack a punch. The tight bends come thick and fast – and the scenery isn’t too shabby either! You can’t get lost – just start in Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen and follow the A4069 to Llandovery. But watch your speed, there’s many a-sneaky cameras along the entire route, plus the indigenous wildlife (AKA sheep!) have a tendency to wander into the road… Visit Wales has more information.
  • Bonny Scotland: Bealach na Bà: The ‘Pass of the Cattle’ is a historical drive, the third highest in Scotland and has the greatest ascent of any road in the UK. Tight hairpins, near 20% inclines… This is truly an awesome route – one that rivals many an alpine road trip in the Alps or further afield. Whet your appetite at Visit Wester-Ross.

Best British Drives: The scenic route

We’re privileged to live in a country that offers some of the most stunning vistas on the planet, and a car is perhaps the ultimate tool by which to explore our little island. And the great thing is that even if you’re more Driving Miss Daisy than Lewis Hamilton, the wonderful UK scenery is just as beautiful, no matter how turbo-charged your journey might be to get there…

Breath-Taking Scenery in our Green and Pleasant Land

  •  Devon – Topsham to Paignton: 120 miles of pure pleasure as you experience remote moorland, plunging cliffs, wild coast and beautiful unspoilt beaches. Much of the route follows the A379, and we highly recommend stopping along the way for a picnic or (when lockdown rules allow) finding a B&B or hotel for a luxury overnight stop. Head to Visit Devon to find out more about the region. 
  • Scotland – The Highland Perthshire Loop: 100 miles of pure bliss stretches ahead as you travel from Highland Council to Aberfeldy, crossing the wilds of the Cairngorms National Park. Complete the drive in half a day or make it your own with a variety of side trip options (Loch Tummel and Pitlochry are must-see locations in which to while away a few hours or days). Check out the route here.
  •  N. Ireland – the Causeway Coastal Route: This stunning drive begins in Londonderry and finishes in Belfast, with 130 miles of incredible landscape along the way. Taking you through no less than three areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, even if you’re only in it for the driving you must, must, must stop and take a walk onto the magnificent Giant’s Causeway. We promise you won’t regret it…  Get inspired at the dedicated Causeway Costal Route website.
  • Yorkshire – Wharfedale Circuit: Yes, we know the ultimate drive in The Dales has to be Buttertubs Pass, but we wanted to highlight another – equally delightful but for different reasons – great British drive. The Wharfedale Circuit takes in castles, abbeys, quintessentially English towns and, it has to be said, some pretty damn fine driving… At just over 26 miles it’ll take around an hour if you do it in a single hit. But we challenge you not to make multiple stops along the way, if only to snap that perfect Insta frame with which to wow your followers…. Check out the route here.

Sometimes there’s almost as much enjoyment in the planning stage. And being as we’re all suffering from cabin fever right now, we’ll grab our pleasures any which way we can… All that remains now is for Boris to give us the go ahead. As soon as that happens? Well, we’ve got one thing to say to you. 

Eat my dust…

Image by Tanja Schulte from Pixabay

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Supercar Paradise: France’s best mountain passes

Excuse our presumption, but we’re betting that the numero uno reason you invested in your dream supercar wheels (apart from the kudos, naturally) is the thrill of pushing your driving skills and the ability of your vehicle to the limit. Well, there’s no better place to do this than in the wilderness paradise that is the French Alps.

So join us as we share some of our favourite locations that combine roads boasting inclines so steep that they scream for you to floor the gas, breath-taking vantage points and hairpins so numerous that they’ll set your heart a-flutter (and no, it’s not just because of the altitude…).

Welcome to the best French mountain passes that you have to experience at least once in your lifetime…

The Best French Mountain Passes for Supercars

Whatever you drive, we promise that the following mountain passes are perfectly equipped to bring on the buzz every supercar owner craves. The following are uber-drives that present multiple cols, passes, steep inclines and declines, switchbacks galore and the continual adrenaline rushes as you harness your inner Colin McRae. Just remember, they drive on the right in mainland Europe…

The 7 Cols of the Ubaye Valley

Named after the Ubaye River that runs through it, this is an amazing location to spend a lazy few days discovering the 7 amazing cols of this Alpes de Haute Provence department. These are:

  1. Col de Larche: Reaching 1991 metres in height, the Col de Larche is known as the Gateway to Italy as it heads into the Stura di Demonte valley in the neighbouring country. You’ll be delighted to know that at the present you won’t have to navigate cyclists, pedestrians or tractors as they’re currently banned. The perfect scenario for uninterrupted supercar driving.
  2. Col Saint Jean:  You head down from Barcelonnette to Le Lauzet (a drive of around 20km). From here you begin the climb to the 1333 metres, with gentle gradients of around 5-6%. Col Saint Jean is a relatively relaxing traverse, getting you revved up for the white knuckle drives further down the line.
  3. Col de Pontis: Nature at its best, the short winding road up to the Col de Pontis is a gritty drive, but well worth it for the views out over the dam and the resulting reservoir that flooded the original ancient village of Ubaye.
  4. Col de la Bonette: The highest paved road in Europe, the Col de la Bonette saves the best for the final kilometre of its 2715 metre climb, where the incline increases to around 10%. The view when you get there is, quite simply, jaw-dropping. Take a backpack, park up, and wander a little. The air is among the cleanest on the planet, and the delicious silence is the perfect antidote the 21st century life. And – breathe…
  5. Col d’Allos: This Tour de France classic offers plenty of places to stop for a refreshing dip at one of the natural beaches of Bachelard along the way. Top Tip: In July and August the road to the Col d’Allos is closed to all cars between 08:00 and 11:00 (it’s cyclists only at this time).
  6. Col de la Cayolle: Breathtaking from start to finish, Col de la Cayolle delights with an incredible 9kms of zigzags and hairpins. Stop off in the hamlet restaurant of Madame Arnaud in Fours for a hearty plate of local ravioli.
  7. Col de Vars: At 2109 metres, the Col de Vars is a serious climb that gets more stunning with every curve and bend. There’s some incredible natural rock formations on the way up, knowns as Demoiselles coiffees, and you can take a detour to a tiny lakeside inn where Napoleon once stayed.

The Route Napoleon

What could be better than driving the high altitude road that takes you from Grenoble to gorgeous Grasse on the Côte d’Azur? Spring or autumn are great times to take on this glorious route, perhaps stopping along the way to kayak or bathe in the bright blue-green waters of the Gorges du Verdon.

Take some time out to enjoy the towns of Corps, Sisteron, and Castellane, and you can indulge your love of perfumes in the epicentre of the industry – Grasse – at the end of this classic route.

Top Tip. Avoid Route Napoleon in the height of summer as this is when you’ll encounter the most traffic. Plus the temperature in spring and autumn is pleasant, averaging 20 – 25°C, instead of the blistering 30 degrees plus in July and August.

The Daddy of them All: The Routes des Grandes Alpes

At 684 km in length (425 miles), this adventure starts at the shores of Lake Leman and finishes at the Mediterranean. Along the way there’s an incredible 16 mountain passes, with the highest hitting an oxygen-thinning 2,802 metres.

The Route des Grande Alpes was opened in 1913 and was fully paved by 1937 – this truly is a legendary route, but only one you should attempt from mid-June onwards. Only then will the highest passes be guaranteed snow free. They’ll close again when the snows arrive in the autumn.

Journey’s end, in Menton, is a French Riviera delight, and well worth a few days R&R. And, of course, you shouldn’t fail to drive your wheels in Cannes or St. Tropez. As the video shows, you’ll be in good company.

Why France?

So apart from the obvious (scenery, incredible driving experience, the food, wine etc.) there are many additional reasons to book a Eurotunnel ticket and set your satnav for our nearest major mountain range.  These include:

  • The solitude: While there’ll be others enjoying the same adventure playground, the sheer scale of this mountainous region means that in general the roads are quiet. 
  • The nature: OK… So the roar of your engine might not be conducive to spotting shy creatures, but packing a picnic and stopping along the way for a peaceful alfresco lunch might mean you’re lucky enough to spot beasties as diverse as Golden Eagles and even wolves! However, you’ll be lucky with the latter (there’s only an estimated couple of hundred covering an enormous area). But keep your eyes peeled and marmots, chamois, ptarmigan, mouflon and even Ibex might make an appearance.
  • The language: It goes without saying that if you learn a little lingo you’ll enamour yourself with the locals. Pick up a phrase book, don’t worry too much about your accent, and give it a go. Your supercar will have undoubtedly piqued interest from others, and the odd word or two en français will do wonders for English-French relations.

Check out our Radical Rally Sandbanks to Monaco Grand Tour where we’ll include some of the above. We also hope to include the D23 near Boulogne as well. Although do check local information as rocks slides and other issues often cause it to be closed.

Image by Frank Derrier from Pixabay

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Road Trip: Highways, Cities & Hidden Gems of Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe, while not quite on our doorstep, is a wonderful destination within easy reach of the UK (especially with the power of a supercar at your disposal). With a diverse array of countries, including Croatia, Russia, Romania and the Czech Republic, you can experience cities crammed with culture, landscapes that range from open prairie to mountain ranges and, very importantly, roads that stretch for mile upon mile with barely a car in sight.

Welcome to Eastern Europe – a location that, for the supercar owner, is the ultimate adventure playground for you to test your driving skills to the limit…

Reasons to Visit Eastern Europe 

1.     The incredibly diverse culture: Countries might not be far apart geographically, but when it comes to identity and culture they’re poles apart. Cross a border, and brace yourself for a whole new world…

2.     The traditions and experiences: Cites, such as Krakow, Prague, Vilnius, and Kotor will, quite literally, blow your mind as you explore and discover local customs. Get the timing right and you can party like a local at incredible festivals across the region.

3.     The welcome: Many Eastern European countries were, not so long ago, closed to outsiders. Today they embrace visitors with open arms and many are the friendliest and safest places on the planet today.

4.     The food: Gastronomic choices abound, and that includes beverages on which to imbibe. In many cases local production isn’t enough to export, so only by being ‘boots on the ground’ will you ever get to experience what’s on offer. Quite simply, foodie heaven…

5.     The landscapes: From national parks to lakes, beaches to jaw-droppingly beautiful mountain views, Eastern Europe over delivers on every front.

Best European Roads & Cities: Road Trip Heaven

Achingly beautiful cities, deserted roads and a variety of landscapes, you certainly won’t be disappointed with a road trip to Eastern Europe. Check out the following to whet your appetite.

From Poland to Estonia

After spending at least a day exploring the wonders of the Polish capital of Warsaw, head to Krutynia River, the country’s lake district and a premier Eastern European kayaking destination (no experience required). Spend a day messing about on the water before heading to Białowieża Forest, one of the continent’s last primeval forests and a protected UNESCO world heritage site.

Hit the road again, this time crossing the border into Lithuania, and head to Vilnius, the delightful capital city where you can marvel at the culture in the daytime and party hard after dark. Next stop is the capital of Latvia – Riga – with its art nouveau and gothic architecture (and rather scrumptious delicacies that include smoked fish and spicy sausages).

Hit the beach next, as you head to the resort city of Pärnu in Estonia, a relaxing place to wend away a day or two, enjoying the long, sandy beaches, walking the river of the same name that bisects the city, dining on regional specialities of pork, fish and pastries, and enjoying the rather fine beer and vodka that the country is known for. 

Final stop is the Estonian capital of Tallinn – small, compact and perhaps one of the most beautiful cities in all of Eastern Europe, it’s a fitting place to end a trip of around 700 miles. 

The Adriatic Highway

One of the best ocean drives in the world, the Adriatic Highway takes in the countries of Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro. Incredible coastal views, mountains, serpentine turns and twists, crashing waves hundreds of feet below, hairpin bends… Truly the stuff of supercar dreams.

Stop at will along the way, perhaps enjoying The Bay of Kotor in Montenegro and the beautiful fortress old town of Kotor with its fjord-like landscape. The fascinating city of Dubrovnik enchants and, if time is on your side, you may wish to linger here a little longer than you intended. And then there’s Split, a city that we guarantee will steal a little piece of your heart. We recommend ditching the guide book and just wander – get lost if possible – and discover those never-to-be-forgotten cafes and bars to chow down with locals for a few hours and truly embrace the traditional vibe.

You can visit the beautiful islands of the Dalmatian Coast from here, we recommend doing so from the port town of Zadar – where you’re far more likely to experience delicious tranquillity as you sip a traditional rakai, local beer or a rather good, locally produced wine while watching the spectacular sunsets the region is renowned for.

The Adriatic Highway, or Jadranska magistrala to give it its Croatian name, really is a bucket list drive that you have to experience at least once in your life…

The Transalpina Highway

Romania’s high-altitude Transalpina Highway extends from Novaci to Sebes should definitely be on the bucket list of every supercar driver. At only 87 miles long it might not be the longest in the world, but wow! Is it spectacular. You can only drive the road during the summer months due to the altitude (7,038 ft/2145m) and snow during the winter, and is officially open from July 01 to November 01 each year.

We recommend a road trip that takes in the beautiful city of Bucharest before driving the 171 miles to Sibu, a Transylvanian gem in its own right, before hitting the awesome mountain ‘Devil’s Path’ that is the Transalpina.

The Best of the Rest: Eastern European Roads and Cities

Other great driving and travel opportunities include:

  • The Troyal-Karnare Pass, Bulgaria
  • Serpentine Road, Kotor, with its 25 infamous switchbacks
  • Vienna to Vienna: stopping at Ljubljana, Zagreb, Budapest, Krakow, Wroclaw and Prague
  • Moldova to Albania: taking in Chisinau, Transylvania, Sofia, Skopje and Tirana

Eastern European roads and cities represent some of the best driving in the world. Still relatively undiscovered, the roads are far less crowded than the more-visited areas of Central and Northern Europe and are generally in good condition. Plus there’s a huge added bonus that local communities are generally welcoming (and if you’re in a supercar, you’ll likely become somewhat of an infamous visitor with people clamouring to investigate your ride… )

We really can’t recommend a road trip in Eastern Europe enough. It’s a place where adventure beckons around every curve and bend, locals are genuinely pleased to see you, and the roads? Well, they might just be the best the planet has to offer…

Image by Aida Toromanovic – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

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Licence to Thrill: Swiss James Bond roads you have to drive

Switzerland. The home of cheese, chocolate, cuckoo clocks and….  the highest proportion of James Bond film sets anywhere in the world.  Combine this with the adrenaline rush that every self-respecting supercar owner experiences every time they get behind the wheel, and you’re all set for one of the world’s ultimate driving holidays.

So grab a map (and Google) and get inspired for an amazing driving adventure that takes in some of the best James Bond roads amongst the awesome backdrop that is Switzerland and the mighty Swiss Alps.

Getting There

With Calais a mere 510 miles from Geneva, the alpine country is an easy hop when you have some decent horsepower beneath the bonnet. When you cross the border from France into Switzerland you’ll need to purchase a vignette to pay the autobahn tolls. However, the highlights of Swiss driving isn’t about blasting down an empty motorway – far from it. This adrenaline rush is about sweeping curves, mountain passes, steep climbs, glinting glacial lakes, snow-capped peaks… In short, this is the driving playground every supercar owner dreams of.

The following are some of the highlights you have to include on this 007 driving spectacular.

Furka Pass: Car chase, Goldfinger

The 2,431 metre road that takes you over the Furka Pass is a bucket list location for Bond fans. Immortalised in the 1964 film, Goldfinger, this is a drive to enjoy in summertime (it’s closed in the winter), and is delightfully unchanged since the movie was made. Make sure you take a pitstop to walk the Rhone Glacier Ice Grotto (it’s surreal!) and take some time to admire the somewhat spookily abandoned Hotel Belvedere that also took centre stage in the movie.

Piz Gloria: Blofeld’s hideaway, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

A simply breath-taking place to visit, you dangle thousands of feet above a rocky vista as you’re whisked by cable car to the dizzy heights of the Schilthorn mountain and Blofeld’s ‘allergy centre’ that perches precariously at the summit. But, vertigo aside, there’s no cause for alarm. Today it’s home to a revolving restaurant and some rather impressive Bond memorabilia.

Top tip! It’s not frowned upon if you take one of the restaurant’s paper menus home as a souvenir.

But this is simply the cherry on the cake of a day’s 007 driving delights. Begin by visiting Blofeld’s Goldfinger smelting works, the Pilatus Aircraft factory in Stans,. Nestled on the shores of Lake Lucerne, this is the very factory that manufactures the pilotless plane that skydiving Pierce Brosnan intercepted during the opening sequence of GoldenEye.

From here it’s a mere hour’s drive to Murren and the Bond World Museum, from where you board the cable car for the white-knuckle ride to Piz Gloria itself.

The Simplon Pass (& Tunnel): From Russia With Love

One of the world’s most scenic drives, the Simplon Pass connects the canton of Valais with Domodossola in Italy. Stop along the way to snap a selfie at the infamous Simplon Tunnel, the planned killing ground for Bond and Tatiana Romanova in the movie, From Russia With Love.

The pass itself has been a travellers’ route since the 13th century, becoming more important when Napoleon built a carriage road here at the very beginning of the 1800s. From then on its status as an alpine pass rivalling others in the region was without question. But we love it for the jaw dropping views, sharp bends that beckon as you approach and the roar of your engine as you boot it out the other side…

Geneva: a city of 007 importance

Did you know that Ian Fleming studied at Geneva University? Avid viewers of Skyfall might remember that Bond’s mother, Monique Delacroix, was mentioned, and she came from a canton close to the city – Vaud. In Fleming’s books he tells us that Bond also studied in the city and honed his ski skills on Swiss slopes.

So, if that doesn’t make the city worthy of a visit then we don’t know what does. The home of Patek Philippe watches, the city boasts the enormous lake of the same name, and has a plethora of things to see and do that’ll keep you busy for at least a day or two of your 007 tour. Oh – and let’s not forget that it’s the location of one the most important annual supercar shows in the world, Geneva Auto Salon.

And While You’re In the Area…

There’s three other passes of note that you shouldn’t miss the thrill of driving. These are the Great St. Bernard Pass, one of the most famous routes through the Alps, the cobbled St. Gotthard Pass (pack spare pants!) and the Bernina Pass, another film location from the classic Goldfinger.

Whether you favour an Aston, a Mustang, a Bentley or any other supercar (Bond wheels or otherwise) we guarantee that hitting Swiss mountain tarmac will test both your driving skills and your vehicle’s potency to the limits. 

The only other question you’ll need to ponder is whether to order your Swiss sundowner as shaken, or stirred…

Image by Julius Silver from Pixabay

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