Gran Turismo versus Forza? Playstation versus Xbox? Which camp are you in?
For years I’ve been in the legion of Gran Turismo fans but with every release of Forza I find my devotion starting to waver. The Xbox contender seems to grow from strength to strength while the Playstation stalwart seems to be treading water. Maybe I’m being unfair to the Gran Turismo team, but this launch trailer for Forza 6 has renewed my longing to buy an Xbox.
This is the biggest Forza yet, with over 450 cars to choose from and 26 destinations to race in, 10 of which are new to the series. Each destination has several layout options too, so there’s plenty of asphalt to keep you occupied, whether that be on new tracks such as Lime Park, Watkins Glen and the Circuit of the Americas or old favourites such as Spa Francorchamps and the legendary Nürburgring.
Ford GT in Forza 6
There’s a demo to whet your appetite too, which throws you behind the wheel of the 2016 Ford GT and pitches you against 23 opponents on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, a new fictional buy discount levitra track added to this release.
On top of the extra content comes a new weather modelling system that does more than reduce grip and make pretty patterns on your monitor. Forza goes as far as modelling puddles on the track, which can lead to aquaplaning if you’re not careful. There’s damage modelling too, which can leave your pristine supercar looking very second-hand after a hard race. Gran Turismo, please take note!
Pagani In The Rain
The demo then takes you through the early stages of the career mode and introduces you to the new pre-race modding system, which allows bonuses to be added to the end-of-race results or to give your car a little extra performance.
Forza 6 will hit the stores on September 18th so there’s still time to get your pre-order in and start driving on the day of release.
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Renault are set to make their all-conquering Mégane Renaultsport even more irresistible by introducing a new entry-level model, slashing the price to under £24k.
Megane Renaultsport 275 Cup-S
The Renaultsport 275 Cup-S distills the Mégane’s essence into its purest form, ditching creature comforts in favour of the Cup chassis (usually a £1,350 option) and the same 275hp turbocharged petrol engine as the limited-edition 275 Trophy-R, and it’s all yours for just £23,935.
Personally I wouldn’t be satisfied with that. Having driven a Trophy-spec Mégane I’d have to add the optional Ohlins dampers. They may be expensive at £2,000 but they transform the ride, improving both body control and the Mégane’s ability to handle bumps and compressions. You’ve then got the best handling chassis in its class for less than £26k, less than the price of a 227bhp Golf GTI.
The headline figures can be a bit misleading though. In ‘normal’ mode the Megane’s turbocharged 4-cylinder engine develops buy nexium 20 250hp at 5,500rpm. It’s only when you start playing around with the Renaultsport Dynamic Management system that you can unleash the full-fat 275hp. With peak power comes 360Nm of torque, covering the mid-range from 3,000 to 5,000rpm.
If the thought of a modern car without so much as air-conditioning puts you off then take a look at the other end of the Mégane spectrum. The new 275 Nav replaces the 265 Nav and represents the softer side of the Mégane’s character. For £25,935 you get the same engine and straight-line performance but sacrifice the Cup Chassis (still available as an option) for the slightly softer Sport setup and lots more toys in the cabin. It adds dual-zone climate, auto lights and wipers, R-Link V2 multimedia system with navigation, better sound system, keyless entry and tinted rear windows.
Both the 275 Nav and Cup-S are available to order now with deliveries starting in November.
With the 2015 Volkswagen Polo GTI switching to a new engine, it was only a question of time before the SEAT Ibiza Cupra followed suit. So now it’s the upcoming Ibiza’s turn to drop the venerable twin-charged 1.4 TSI and upgrade to the more powerful and cleaner turbocharged 1.8 TSI.
Seat Ibiza Cupra 2015
As you’d expect there are improvements in every area of the Cupra’s performance. Power is up from 180PS to 192PS while torque rises from 250Nm to 320Nm, and is available from 1,450 and 4,200rpm. 62mph arrives in 6.7 seconds and top speed goes up to 146mph.
There are no official figures yet for economy and CO2 emissions but expect to see slight improvements despite the increase in engine capacity. Another aspect that could affect those figures is the choice of transmission. The Ibiza Cupra is now available with a six-speed manual transmission, replacing the compulsory dual-clutch seven-speed automatic transmission. There is a DSG on the options list, this time with six ratios, and it’s emissions where to buy generic aciphex in the united states figures are likely to be lower than those of the manual.
With the new engine comes options to tailor the Ibiza’s drive characteristics. Cupra Selective Suspension is an adaptive suspension control system that lets you choose between comfort or sport modes, with a different steering feel in each.
There’s also a host of electronic driver and safety aids; the latest XDS electronic differential lock, ESP electronic stability system, hill start assist, multi-collision brake and drowsiness warning are part of the standard safety package in the Ibiza Cupra.
There are improvements in the interior too. The detachable infotainment system and its horrible cradle are gone, replaced by a touchscreen system that’s been properly integrated into the dashboard. The infotainment system has a wide range of functions but it’s worth noting that it now supports both Apple Car Play and Android Auto, allowing you to control your phone through the Ibiza’s touchscreen.
No news on UK prices or availability yet, other than it’ll go on sale in early 2016.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the current Renault Mégane was getting a little long in the tooth. Its current guise has been on sale since 2009 and in that time we’ve seen all-new sporting models from Ford, SEAT, Volkswagen and Audi. So to step into the Renaultsport Mégane 275 Trophy and still be amazed at how well it drives is testament to the astonishing abilities of Dieppe’s finest engineers.
Renault Megane 275 Trophy (image courtesy of Newspress)
Close inspection of this Mégane’s tyres reveals that they are the optional semi-slick Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s. Pick these and you’re treated to a set of rubber that looks barely road-legal but offers amazing grip. The only problem, apart from the £1,000 price tag, is you need to work hard to generate enough heat to extract their full potential. They may be great on dry, smooth tarmac but on a cold, wet Spring morning they could be terrifying – it’s an option aimed squarely at the track rather than the UK’s inclement weather and greasy roads.
Hidden behind the 19-inch Turini wheels and Brembo braking system lies a set of £2,000 Ohlins dampers that are lifted from the Mégane N4 rally car. That’s a lot to spend on a damper upgrade but they tip the usual road-car compromise back from cost firmly in favour of ability.
Some special cars feel right within just a few hundred yards and the Mégane Trophy is one of them. The steering is perfectly weighted and talks back to you, unlike in most modern hatchbacks. It’s incredibly direct too and it allows you to point the Mégane exactly where you want it to go.
Renault Megane 275 Trophy (image courtesy of Newspress)
The grip from those Cup 2 tyres is impressive. While Millbrook’s ever-vigilant marshals put paid to any serious efforts to test cornering Gs, the Michelin’s ability to cope with buy nexium online 275bhp and 360Nm were impressive. As well as the abundant grip there’s a limited-slip differential shuffling torque between the front wheels, and the result is ballistic acceleration from far earlier in the corner than would otherwise seem sensible.
The Ohlins dampers are superb. Body movement is tightly controlled but there’s a supple side to the Mégane’s ride that’s absent in the standard 275, which usually comes across as ridiculously brittle on anything but the smoothest tarmac. That’s the benefit of upgrading to the more expensive dampers.
Renault Megane 275 Trophy Turini wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres and covering Brembo brakes
The last Renaultsport product to feature dampers like this was the Clio 182 Trophy. It used a set of Sachs Race Engineering items that cost 10 times as much as a standard Clio’s dampers but they transformed the Trophy’s handling. It’s now regarded as a collector’s item. Is it worth upgrading your Mégane? Absolutely.
The rest of the car remains as you’d expect. A bit of carbon effect trim, red highlights, some alcantara trim and firm but well-bolstered Recaro seats. The fussy media system remains, sacrificing touch controls for fiddly buttons down near the handbrake. The Start/Stop button also hints at cost cutting, sitting low and far to the left, a consequence of positioning it for left-hand drivers and not retooling the dash layout for right-handers.
Stickers make it easy to identify the Megane 275 Trophy
Not that it matters. Renaultsport models have always been about the driving experience and that’s where the Mégane still excels. If you can come to terms with the £32k price of a Trophy-spec Mégane there’s little else that can beat its fluid responses and beguiling chassis. It might be outgunned by several rivals and it might not be cheap either, but the joy of driving is still at the heart of the Mégane’s appeal.
Purchasing a new Ford S-Max should be regarded as a textbook example of refusing to stand out from the crowd. While being one of the herd is traditionally frowned upon, actually in the case of the new S-Max it’s highly beneficial. Unless that is, you’re ‘Sports Dad’.
‘Sports Dad’ wants to be the best. He wants to the best so much, that he’ll pick the biggest engine with the highest bhp output on his new car just so everybody knows he is the man. Basically, ‘Sports Dad’ is the guy you avoid like the plague when you go and watch your own kids football team playing because he abuses the referee and generally makes a monumental tit of himself. Fear not reader, I’m here to show you how to get the best S-Max for you, all while getting a better S-Max than ‘Sports Dad’ and saving a bit of money in the process.
The guy we all love to hate has already chosen his S-Max, and naturally it’s the one that sits at the very top of the S-Max pyramid – the 2.3 236bhp litre petrol powerhouse. Ford expects only 1% of all S-Max buyers to take this one up, but that’s ok because ‘Sports Dad’ has always thought of himself as being in the top 1% anyway. For us though, let’s think of that 1% as those people who are so keen to distance themselves from the herd, so keen to look special, that they’d go as far as to shoot themselves in the foot in a bid to impress others around them.
Yes, as tempting as it may sound on paper, the ‘sporty’ variant of the new S-Max is certainly not the high point of the range. It’s an engine that just doesn’t feel at home in this car, lacking the torque needed to launch the heavy S-Max, and despite that high-ish power output, in reality it doesn’t feel anywhere near as quick as the spec sheet might have you believe. The 6-speed automatic Ford has attached to it doesn’t help either, a pure cruiser unit that’s clearly not been designed to deliver on the excitement front, and to be fair why would it? ‘Sports Dad’ will tell you all about the flappy paddles, but I’ll tell you that it’s so lacking in shift feel you wonder why they even attached them to the steering wheel in the first place. Ford hasn’t offered a manual option with this engine, but even with that option box open I still think it would be a poor choice. Despite the disappointment with this particular powertrain, this is where the problems with the new S-Max end.
Some drivers will naturally prefer some of the more conceptual design flair seen in some of France’s latest offerings, but it can’t be said that the S-Max isn’t a handsome looking beast. The strong, angular buy nolvadex no prescription lines make this one of the best efforts at putting together an attractive people carrier that I can remember, it looks like a car with real class and that continues inside. From the moment you step in you can see and feel the improvements in the interior, with plenty of quality materials applied to make the cabin a genuinely pleasurable place to spend time. The seating is particularly excellent, providing a hugely comfortable and supportive place to park the posteriors of you and your family. The S-Max now feels more premium than ever before and – through these eyes at least – is a nose ahead of the interior environments found in some of its rivals.
As it’s the modern age, the class and comfort of the interior would be nothing without decent technology to back it up, and there is some very tasty tech to examine. The SYNC2 system is a must have, and while the interface and arrangement of the software is good, the touchscreen it’s wrapped in can occasionally be unresponsive. Other useful features include split view cameras to assist in pulling out of parking spaces and junctions (not something obnoxious yet genetically superior ‘Sports Dads’ will ever feel the need to use), a variable ratio steering setup that Ford has even managed to squeeze the mechanism of inside the steering wheel, and a system to monitor road signs and adapt the speed limiter to match them, theoretically preventing you exceeding the speed limits. For those show offs who always have something new to stick in the garden, boot space starts at 700 litres in 5 seater mode, but the 2 seated van-like layout will bump that up to a cavernous 2000 litres, perfect for that gazebo hauling, faux-brick BBQ buying dad who always calls you ‘mate’.
So, how do you stick it to ‘Sports Dad’? By knowing the following important information; those who love to drive will ultimately gain more pleasure from one of the more powerful diesel manual options than the petrol powered brute discussed earlier. The new S-Max is a brilliant cruiser, being both remarkably quiet and hugely comfortable and when driven as such it’s a joy, even if as the driver you do feel a little detached from what’s happening outside. With one of the more grunty diesel engines, the excellent manual gearbox, and ‘Titanium’ spec, you’ll have a truly excellent car on your hands. This might be about as good as a people carrier gets. Refined, comfortable, practical, and perhaps most crucially it’s actually quite desirable. It’s also cheaper to buy and will depreciate less than the flash git’s top spec model. That means when you lift lazy waves from the steering wheel of your S-Max outside the school gates, you get the satisfaction of knowing you’re in the better car.
So, who’s winning now ‘mate’?
2015 Ford Galaxy
Performance & Economy
2.0 TDCi Titanium X
2.0 EcoBoost Titanium X
1,997cc tubocharged diesel
1,999cc turbocharged petrol
6-speed manual, front engine, front-wheel drive
6-speed automatic, front engine, front-wheel drive