• Subaru BRZ review

    Subaru BRZ review

    The Subaru BRZ is one of the best kept secrets of the auotmotive world.

    Developed alongisde the near-identical Toyota GT86, it’s an affordable back-to-basics front
    engined, rear-wheel drive 2+2 sports coupe.

    For 2017, Subaru has given the evergreen BRZ a mid-life facelift, equipment upgrade and distilled the trim options down to just one – SE Lux.

    Subaru BRZ review

    The exterior design tweaks are subtle, apart from the old school aerodynamic wing at the rear. Elsewhere, there’s a new front bumper, LED headlights and 10-spoke 17-inch alloys.

    You can choose from five colours, though Subaru’s iconic WR (World Rally) Blue Pearl is surely the one to go for.

    Inside, a 4.2-inch LCD colour display is added to the instrument display, featuring such sporting essentials as a G-Force meter and braking gauge.

    Subaru BRZ review

    The leather steering wheel is now smaller and boasts audio controls, while plastics generally have been upgraded or replaced by leather, giving the cabin a more upmarket feel.

    The Alcantra and leather seats are more comfortable than ever (the driver’s seat has a six-way adjustment), while a 6.2-inch touchscreen has been added to the centre console, though sat nav is a £1,250 option.

    The infotainment system is not as hi-tech as the best of them, but it does the job and, of course, offers full connectivity.

    Subaru BRZ review

    Traditionalists will be pleased to note that the cockpit is still adorned with plenty of retro-feel knobs and toggle switches.

    The rear passenger seats are fitted with ISOFIX anchor points, but as with most 2+2s, they are
    almost totally useless. Better news in the boot where there’s 243 litres of space available – 1,270 with the rear seats folded flat.

    The 2017 Subaru BRZ is more driver focused than ever. Sadly, there’s no extra power for the 2.0-
    litre 200PS ‘Boxer’ petrol engine, but it is more responsive, it still sounds suitably throaty and CO2 emissions are slightly lower.

    Subaru BRZ review

    Elsewhere, Subaru’s engineers have made various changes (to the steering, suspension, dampers and
    brakes) to tweak the driving dynamics and make the BRZ even sharper than before.

    Priced from £26,050, the BRZ is one of the most entertaining cars you’ll find for that money.

    The chassis is better than ever and it’s enormous fun on flowing country roads. Agile and engaging, it’s helped by a slick six-speed short-throw manual gearbox and it feels totally
    planted.

    Subaru BRZ review

    For the record, the BRZ is capable of 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds (but feels faster) and it tops out at 140mph. Fuel economy is a claimed 36.2mpg (and it not far off that in the real world), while CO2 emissions are a very average 180g/km.

    But here’s the thing. The BRZ is also now available with automatic transmission – and it’s a bit of a revelation.

    Subaru BRZ review

    It may sounds like sacrilege in a sports car package like this, but the auto box slams through the gears pretty well – even producing the odd pop on down-changes, allowing you to concentrate on the driving. The engine even sounds more sporty.

    Verdict: The new, improved Subaru BRZ is better than ever. With a mild makeover inside and out, plus enhanced driving dynamics, it has to be one of the best-value, most entertaining sports cars
    on the market – and it still looks just as cool.

    Review by Gareth Herincx

    Subaru BRZ review

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  • QUAIL MOTORCYCLE GATHERING: BEST OF THE BEST!

    Cool temperatures fail to lower motorcycle fever at the Quail and keep Jim Palam from delivering this photo report.

    Low temperatures, brisk winds and overcast skies did nothing to dampen the spirits of over 3,000 visitors to the 2017 Quail Motorcycle Gathering on May 6 at the beautiful Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel, CA.

    Gordon McCall, motorsports director for the Quail Lodge, was once again the perfect ringleader for this 9th Annual gathering. It featured over 300 rare and historic bikes, as well as a generous sampling of custom and modified rides from some of the rising stars in the motorcycle enthusiast’s expanding universe. GEICO Motorcycles presented the event.

    Jim Palam, our man (and Triumph rider) on the West Coast was up and out early to capture the action. The show was so good that he forgot to eat his complimentary gourmet lunch – but he did take a big bite of The Gathering’s tasty essence – yours now to enjoy.

    Taking the Design and Style Award was Simon Waterfall’s super-clean and serious ‘75 Moto Guzzi 850T, Top, rebadged as Supernaturale. Designed and built by Hugo Eccler of Untitled Motorcycles of San Francisco (pictured) the bike features a custom aluminum tank, advanced electronics and fingertip controls. Its overall brushed satin finish will intentionally age gracefully, developing an individualized patina from the way the rider handles the bike.

    What do you do if you have a beautiful old Triumph race tank? If you’re Californian Bryan Thompson you build the quintessential ‘58 Triumph Tiger from ground up, around the tank. So good is this build that this Black Beauty has been racking up a bounty of awards – including First Place in the Quail’s Custom/Modified category. Well-done Bryan!

    Chris Carter has become almost as famous as the spectacular motorcycles in his amazing All Things Two Wheels collection. So thanks Chris for bringing your gorgeous ‘14 Jefferson Board Track Racer to The Gathering. It took 2nd Place in the American category.

    Considered one of the most innovative motorcycles ever created, only 10 hand-crafted Britten V1000 superbikes were ever built. This Britten, #10, resides in the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum, just a few blocks from my home. It belongs to the museum’s owner Virgil Elings and he proudly displayed it at The Gathering. Virgil’s son Jeff rode it up onto the winner’s ramp to accept the Significance in Racing Award.

    I met Richard Mitchell as he was rolling this meticulously customized BSA A65 Thunderbolt up to the Entrant’s Window late Friday afternoon. When Richard is not designing for Tesla, his passion is motorcycles. His beautiful creation went on to win 2nd Place in the Custom/Modified category.

    Ole #38 didn’t look like much when from a distance when I spotted owner Gary Landeen trying to kick-start her for a bevy of patient judges. On what was surely his last kick she fired up – and like the menacing roar of a Coliseum lion she fired up the crowd as well! This bike is the legendary Ed “Iron Man” Kretz’s Pre-War Big Base Indian Scout FDB 381 that competed successfully on a national level from 1941 through 1967. What a thrill to see and hear #38 roar at The Gathering!

    Two For The Road! If you’re a Motorhead you find beauty in design, function and performance. So forgive me if my heart beats a little faster when I take in the sexy symmetry of John Stein’s ‘70 Twin Motor BSA drag bike – bared for all to see in the Competition On Road Class.

    The 750 Sport was essentially a racier version of Ducati’s first big V-Twin, the 750GT. Its Goldenrod Yellow and black paint scheme and lean, aggressive styling made this Italian beauty really stand out from the crowd. Robert Jordon owns this stunning and pristine example.

    Wake Me Up Before You Goggo! The Hans Glas GMBH Company of Germany produced the Goggo Motorscooter in the 1950s. They were dependable and offered better performance than their Italian counterparts. They were however a bit pricier and few ever made it to the States. Harley and Deb Welch brought this nifty ‘55 Goggo 150 to The Gathering.

    And now for something different: The ‘76 Hercules W2000. Powered by an air-cooled, single-rotor Sachs-designed Wankel engine, it was manufactured in Germany. Innovative for sure, but criticized for its high cost, insufficient ground clearance and low performance. And of course, now, in high-demand by collectors! Congratulations to Stephan Haddad for the bike’s 2nd Place win in the Other European category.

    Words & photos by Jim Palam, http://www.jimpalam.com/

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  • Jeep gets dirty with Renegade ‘Tough Mudder’ Edition

    Jeep is celebrating its fourth year sponsoring the UK Tough Mudder series with a special edition Renegade 4×4.

    Just 100 Jeep Renegade Tough Mudder 4x4s will be made, and to mark the occasion, the first ever ‘Tough Mudder for Jeep’ took place at Silverstone Circuit’s off-road course in Northamptonshire.

    The Renegade successfully waded through a course designed by Tough Mudder, tackling rough terrain, dirty water and signature Tough Mudder obstacles, including ‘Mud Mile’ and ‘Quagmire.’ The SUV also tackled the steep slopes and inclines of ‘Killa Gorilla’ and the treacherous Cliff Hanger obstacle.

    Priced from £27,795, Jeep reckons the limited edition “embodies the spirit, fun, adventure and innovation of Tough Mudder with Jeep’s legendary off-road credentials, ensuring drivers can tackle any challenge while Mudders push themselves into the unknown”.

    The Tough Mudder Renegade is a 4×4 2.0-litre Multijet diesel automatic, available in orange and black. Standard features include:

    • 2.0 Diesel Multijet II (140hp)
    • 9 speed automatic transmission
    • 4×4 Active Low
    • 17” black alloy off road wheels – with 215/60/ R17 Mud & Snow tyres
    • Tough Mudder exclusive bonnet decal
    • Limited edition numbered stickers on upper rear three quarter panel
    • Tough Mudder tailgate badge
    • Off road style front bumper
    • Specific interior look – orange and black – with anodised orange interior bezels
    • Fabric – heated front seats
    • (DAB) Digital radio
    • Uconnect 5” touchscreen with Bluetooth, Sat Nav and live services
    • All weather floor mats
    • Tough Mudder Merchandise Pack to include water bottle, cap, hand towel, lanyard and wrist band in a drawstring bag

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  • Volvo celebrates its 90th birthday

    Volvo Cars starts production of its new XC60 mid-size SUV in Gothenburg, Sweden, this month – 90 years after the first-ever Volvo, the ÖV4, saw the light of day on April 14, 1927.

    New Volvo XC60A A total of just 275 vehicles were sold in its lifetime, which was modest even in those days, while the new XC60 replaces one of the best-selling models in Volvo’s history.

    The original XC60 became a phenomenon, with climbing sales every year since it was introduced in 2008.

    Seven years after it was revealed, it became the bestselling premium mid-sized SUV in Europe, and in its ninth year it is still selling in big numbers, accounting for around 30% of Volvo’s total global sales. In fact, April 2017 will see XC60 production exceed 1,000,000.

    Original Volvo XC60Volvo’s founder, Assar Gabrielsson, saw an opportunity for car manufacturing in Sweden after observing the growing automotive industries in the US and Europe from his position within sales at the Swedish ball bearing maker SKF – a supplier to the car industry.

    He managed to convince SKF to invest in a spin-off car business called AB Volvo and the first mass-produced Swedish car was quite a conventional vehicle, with elements of American car design, a wooden frame made of ash tree and beech, a 1.9-litre side-valve engine and artillery wheels with wooden spokes.

    Only one colour combination was available – dark blue with black fenders.

    Despite all these changes over the past 90 years, one thing has remained the same and that’s Volvo’s commitment to making the world’s safest cars.

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  • Rolls-Royce celebrates British music legends

    Nine unique Rolls-Royce Wraith cars have been commissioned to celebrate icons of the British music industry.

    The first four Wraith ‘Inspired by British Music’ cars have been unveiled at a star-studded event in London by the artists who created them, in partnership with Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

    The stars involved in the project were personally invited to the home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, England, and worked in close partnership with Rolls-Royce’s design experts to conceive deeply personal expressions of their music legacies.

    The unique cars created represent the ultimate collectors’ items for the most ardent fans of each artist and will be sold later in 2017, with Rolls-Royce donating a proportion of the value of each to charities selected by each artist, including the Teenage Cancer Trust.

    The first artists honoured were The Who frontman Roger Daltrey, Sir Ray Davies of The Kinks, and producer and “fifth Beatle” Sir George Martin.

    The final batch of hand-built Wraith models unveiled later in 2017 will feature Dame Shirley Bassey, Status Quo’s Francis Rossi and Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones.

    Rolls-Royce Wraith Inspired by British Music

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