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 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.
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 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 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.
Anyone involved in selling Ford cars anywhere in the world will inevitably be asked on a regular basis “which is the single best Ford ever made?” Suffice to say that with hundreds of incredible models under the brand’s belt, it’s a pretty difficult question to answer with one single Ford model. Instead, you’re more likely to be handed a list of amazing Ford models – most of which you’ll sadly not be able to pick up from pretty much any of today’s dealers. I couldn’t stroll into my local Ford car dealers in Dorset for example and ask for a 1964 Mustang unfortunately…I’d love to, but it isn’t going to happen…although there is one family car on this list below which would be available, see if you can spot it.
Here is a quick look at eight of the most outstanding Ford cars of all time that are more than worth tracking down, if of course you have the time and money to spare!
1964/1965 Ford Mustang
The fact that the 1965 Ford Mustang was essentially a Ford Falcon wearing a pretty dress makes the car’s success to date all the more impressive. It is still debated to this day as to whether the very first Mustang was a 1964 or 1965 model, but according to the VIN, it was in fact a 1965 car.
The original Ford GT 40 was an absolute stunner in its day and was only built to the tune of 135 units. And not only is it incredibly rare, it is considered to be the best racing car of all time.
Check out the engine sound on this bad boy!
Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
An absolute legend of the pickup truck world, each and every year since the introduction of the F-150, Ford has somehow managed to make it even better and an even more impressive success by way of hard sales.
2015 Ford Torino GT
A hotly anticipated car that is widely expected to become one of the most highly demanded muscle cars of the last couple of decades at least, the 2015 Ford Torino GT is the perfect example of that elusive combination of ferocious raw power and genuinely outstanding elegance.
1955 Ford Thunderbird (T-Bird)
Here’s another classic example of precisely why so many Ford purists find it so unfortunate that the automaker had to change its design aesthetic so much over the years. Quite simply, the 1955 Ford Thunderbird is an absolute stunner in every way. The Ford Thunderbird is also known as the T-Bird…I’ve only just dawned on me that the T-Birds in the movie Grease were named after this car 🙂
Ford Consul Capri
Yes, it might be controversial to call this little beauty the coolest and best looking British Ford car ever made, but at the same time there is no denying its unique charm. Those sweeping lines and graceful curves were unlike anything anyone had ever seen before and remain legendary in the eyes of Ford fans even today.
2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R
Last but not least, just to show that the guys at Ford still know what they’re doing when it comes to churning out an absolute leviathan, the 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R is quite simply one of the most breathtaking and unstoppable muscle cars ever produced. Guaranteed to tear up the track and wipe up the floor with the competition, to say that pundits are excited about its arrival would be a huge understatement.
And finally, last but not certainly not least we have a sensible affordable car! Of course it’s not as if you can realistically trade off the Ford S-Max against the examples above in pure style and performance stakes, but when it comes to that tricky balance between good looks and practicality, the Ford S-Max was nonetheless something of a game changer.
When I had to sell my 2 seater sports car and buy a family car with the birth of our first son back in 2011, the Ford S-Max is the family car we bought…and it’s still going strong today. It’s a very reliable and cool looking family car compared to other MPV’s on the market…it’s very roomy inside and surprisingly quick!
However, there may be hope on the horizon for the minions of Aldermaston, for the aerial photograph provided by the BBC clearly indicates that the former RAF Aldermaston airfield is the perfect location for a Grand Prix circuit.
The prospective layout sketched above suggests a mix of slow-speed 90-degree corners and long-straights, with a high braking and traction requirement. Particularly exciting is the long main straight, which resembles that at Macau, including a flat-out kink leading onto a long, wide stretch which eventually funnels into the heavy-braking area for a tight hairpin. Rather like Turn 1 at the Cleveland airport circuit in the USA, this would, no doubt, become a key overtaking spot.
One imagines wisps of tyre-smoke mixing with the gaseous tritium discharges, as the drivers battle it out, wheel-to-wheel. Happily, with the lower noise emissions of contemporary Formula 1, there seems little chance of triggering an unexpected criticality in one of the facilities, but in such an event the odd blue flash would simply add to the razzmatazz of the event.