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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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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