Tag Archives: Audi

Top 5 German Cars in Red

24 Oct

Italian cars can come in a multitude of colours and look sexy. Let’s take Ferraris as an example. Now, if I ever perchance to buy a 355, I would buy one in red, naturally, and the same will probably be true when I get my Enzo, and almost certainly true when I get my F40. But what if I were to buy a 456? I’d get that in dark blue. A 550? Silver. My 250 Lusso? Did they do it in British Racing Green?

Travel north to Germany, however, and things are a bit different. I know I seem to give Germans a bit of a hard time about taste, but they do get it badly wrong sometimes. And, seeking to emulate their Italian automotive counterparts, they sometimes produce their cars in postbox red, or bucca delle lettre rosso, if you’re in Rome. And nearly every one looks, in the immortal words of Samuel Pepys, “bleedin’ ‘orrible”. Would you drive a red E-Class estate? A red R8? A red 5 Series? I thought not.

But sometimes, there is a synergy of colour and teutonic car that transcends nationality and just looks excellent. And so below is my run down of the Top 5 German Cars in Red, in no particular order:

1. Porsche 959

The Porsche 959. In a quarry of some kind.

What a great looking car this is. Like a 911 turned up to….well, 11. Sparred in the 80s with the aforementioned F40 for the title of World’s Fastest Production Car and yet, unlike the F40, it was also used for rallying and is thus imbued it with some fairly major kudos. And it looked good in red, hence its presence here.

2. Audi Quattro

"Fire up the....." blah blah blah

Originating in the heady days of Group B rallying, when no limits were put on a car’s maximum output, the Audi Quattro has emerged as something of a legend. It was the first car to introduce four-wheel drive into rallying, which would have been a comfort to the driver, given that some Quattrtos had close to 600 horsepower. Homologated for the road, the car offered a tantalising mixture of performance and discretion that made it the ultimate Q car of the 1980s. Unless you got it in red. Which it looks good in.

3. BMW M1

The BMW M1. In a sexy puddle

Originally built in 1978 as a collaboration between BMW and Lamborghini, the M1 was essentially a homologation special intended for competition (kind of like the Porsche 959. And the Audi Quattro). It was mid-engined, had a cool slatted roof, was designed by Giugiaro and….looked good in red.

4. Mercedes 190SL

Mercedes 190SL. Looks good in red.....

We’ve been hanging out in late 70s/early 80s Germany so far for this list, so let’s take it back a bit. The 190SL, essentially a cheaper, slower, less roofed and thus less gullwing-doored, version of the 300SL, was an archetype of graceful 1950s style. It only had a 1.9 litre engine, as its name suggests, which meant that your only option was to cruise slowly around the Riviera, with the top down, taking in the sights. Sounds terrible. Quite nice in red, too.

5. BMW Isetta

The BMW Isetta. Plus man.

OK, not a German car in the strictest sense, as the car was licensed to BMW by an Italian firm. But BMW put a lot of their own bits on and in it, it had a BMW badge, and that’s good enough for us. Released in the same year as the 190SL, but entirely different, the Isetta is a little cutie pie, albeit a cutie pie that uses the flexibility of your knee joints as its crumple zone. It seems ironic that, despite all our advancements in the automotive industry, automakers are now (non leg-based safety devices aside) trying to emulate the simplicity of the small cars of the 1950s like the Isetta, as well as the Mini and the Fiat 500. All of which look good in red. But only one of which can be counted as German. The Isetta. In red.

Well there you have it. And I appreciate that whether or not a German car looks good in red is subjective (well, it’s objective really, but for politeness’ sake let’s say it’s subjective). But then again, this is my blog, so lump it. Or, better still, tell me your Top 5. Comments welcome!

Audi uses its Teutonic technical tools to create RS3

22 Nov

Safe

Audi have unveiled their new RS3. And it looks pretty good, in the rather staid way that all Audis these days look pretty good. But its figures are faintly staggering. I was in the pub at the weekend watching Tottenham vs Arsenal and there was a man at the bar whose scarf I would have quite willingly used to throttle him. And this man kept going on and bloody on about how he wasn’t a stat man but if you look at Peter Crouch’s scoring record for England blah blah blah. Now, I’m not a stat man, but if you look at the Audi RS3’s….well, stats, they beggar belief. To-whit…..

Price – £40,000

0-60 – 4.6 seconds

BHP – 335

OK, this is very nice. But not trouser immolating.

This makes it faster than a BMW M3, itself a very fast car. It puts the little Audi in amongst supercar territory. But I can’t help thinking that I’d rather have something with a bit more joie de vivre. I mean, we’re talking £40,000 for a start, not to mention high insurance. Have a look on pistonheads.com and see what you can get for £40,000 – a most enjoyable, saliva-inducing game by the way. A £39,000 blue Ferrari 355 with 40,000 miles on the clock, which leaves you a grand to spend on a Ferrari bicycle, or skis or whatever crap they’re pedaling (arf) to their customers these days. A 45,000 mile Aston Martin DB9. Why not buy a brace (brace mind) of Volkswagen Phaetons? What about a 1959 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud? Now of course, all this is a bit silly. For a start, those cars aren’t new, and thus miss out on warranties and all the appeals that having a new car brings. And frankly, people in the market for an Audi RS3 probably aren’t in the market for Rolls Royce Silver Cloud. But even its competitors seem more interesting than it. I walked passed a Focus RS on the South Bank the other day, and I felt a tremor of vaguely homo-erotic excitement at its muscular haunches and implied potency. And even I, basher of Bimmers, fancy the similarly priced, similarly powered 1 Series M Coupe more than this. But, at the end of the day, there’s little doubt that the Audi will be very good. I just hope that a bit of Lamborghini spirit has drifted through the Volkswagen-Audi group and seeped into it.

Neat and tidy.

The Mercedes GLK

27 Aug

Lovechild, aka Fitzpajero

So, I expected to see some interesting Soviet rubbish/bits of curios lying around Mongolia. But to see a new car that I’d not yet glimpsed in Europe yet, and to be honest hadn’t been aware of at all, on the streets of Ulaanbaatar was slightly disconcerting. What was even more disconcerting was that it was this lumpen pile of crap. Regular readers of this blog (hi Mum) will already know that I feel that the Germans’ attempts to create EVERY possible variation of the car is cynical and faintly intolerable. Sadly, it appears the good folks at Mercedes didn’t read this blog, or at least for some reason, they do not fear the derision of Carficionado. Well derided they must be. I’m not going to talk about how the thing drives because…..well, because I haven’t started reviewing cars in that way yet. So let’s talk looks, which are subjective, but hey, get your own blog if you don’t like my subjectivity. Now imagine, if you will, a steamy late night romp on a second-hand car forecourt between a Mitsubishi Pajero Junior and a Subaru Forrester. Now imagine the lovechild of this illicit act. Now put a Mercedes grille on it. Are you with me, are ya, are ya?

Father

Mother

How could this have happened? I know, I know, BMW got to make the X1 and Audi got to make the Q5 so where’s Mercedes’ baby 4×4 that’s slightly smaller than the M Class and much smaller than the woefully misjudged GL. But I’m sorry, why are we all slowly creeping back into baby 4x4s again anyway, like a class of school children who are told in no uncertain terms to shut the hell up and in spite of the explicit telling off slowly start to chatter amongst themselves again. I mean what, is it 1996? Are we all going to end up back in Suzuki Vitara 3 doors and baby blue Toyota Rav4s listening to the Spice Girls? Hey Mercedes! Let BMW and Audi have that market. Bugger ’em! In fact, why don’t you not make stupid Mitsubishi/Subaru look-a-likes and then get someone in your PR department to say “well, we could have built a baby 4×4, of course we could, we’re Mercedes, but in an age where making 4x4s (or at least tall cars, maybe the damned thing is 2-wheel drive) for mums to then drive around Esher (or German equivalent) is a bit, well, massively backwards, we’re actually going to focus on making cars that deal with the problems that the world is facing, unlike BMW and Audi who have shown themselves to be the Flintstones to our Jetsons. We’re light-years ahead of those stupid suckers.” Spin the hell out of it. Then, when you’re done spinning, go and make that delicious looking Shooting Brake and that electric SLS. Don’t bend to the whims of these Esherians! Esherites? Whatever. Where’s your dignity Mercedes? Don’t let them trample all over you like that. Would Fangio have been proud of that? Moss? Hakkinen? Schumacher? Heikki Kovalainen? OK, not him.

Mercedes are trying to make themselves der Über-Manufakturer, and thus be as successful as they can be. And as Jack Kerouac wrote: “You kill yourself to get to the grave before you even die, and the name of that grave is success , the name of that grave is hullaballoo boom boom horseshit.”

My point exactly.

Dreamy cousin....

In praise of….the UAZ

26 Aug

During my time in Mongolia recently, I kept spotting these old Soviet vans dotted around the place. They looked ancient, such as you’d see in a documentary of 1960s Berlin, and yet this was the go-to vehicle for the police, the ambulance service and, of course, the tourists being constantly ferried to and from The Mongolian Wilderness.

Well, it turns out this van is called a UAZ-452. I imagine that its proliferation around Mongolia is a result of the Soviet ideal of everyone owning the same thing, which is why places like Budapest are still littered with those horrible Trabants. But, in an age that has given us the new Beetle, the new Mini, the Toyota FJ Cruiser, the Plymouth Prowler, the new Fiat 500 (shall I go on?), I think that the UAZ should be rehabilitated for the modern age. And more importantly, should be allowed the travel through Checkpoint Charlie and into the glorious West, filled as it is with that sense of liberty, equality and fraternity so often seen in place like the U.S…..

My idea, which I was kind enough to share with some Australians on a trip into The Mongolian Wilderness, and who looked most interested, was to ship one back to the UK, rip out its engine, which will doubtless be of a 1970s Soviet design (and therefore total crap) and put in something small and diesely, maybe the longstanding 1.9 diesel from the Volkswagen Audi Group (I thought that was better than writing VAG). Then, lo and bloody behold, you have an amazing looking van, which is significantly cooler than a Volkswagen Camper, not least because it won’t be driven by people trying to creat some sort of hippy parody, which will be built like the proverbial shithouse and it won’t break down. As much. Basically, a winner then. Get your orders in now.

(Addendum: my friend in Mongolia reliably informs me that the UAZ-452 is known colloquially as the Forgon, to differentiate it from the UAZ jeep, which looks very similar to the Jeep Wrangler or equivalent. Presumably it is called this as it’s a “Forgon” conclusion that the thing will break down somewhere in the middle of the aforementioned Mongolian Wilderness and you’ll be mauled to death by angry sheep intent on their revenge against the Mongolian people, who have been slaughtering them for centuries and serving them up in bowls of milk. This actually happens.)

Renault’s new executive zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

11 Jun

Oh my God! Renault have done a big saloon car! I wonder what it looks like? Does it have the robustness of a German car? Is it as involving to drive as Renault’s recent RenaultSport cars? Does it have the style and élan to match the Citroën C6? Oh wait, here comes a picture now, it’s……a Toyota Avensis. I mean the new Renault Latitude.

I mean, come on. The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, is married to Carla Bruni. Carla Bruni! This man has taste, this man appreciates the finer things. You think he’s going to want to drive around in the back of this? He’s going to choose the Citroën C6 every time. What worries me most about this car is that it borrows styling cues from the Dacia range. These are cars built to satisfy the automotive wants of people who hitherto fore have driven Yugos, FSOs and tanks around Eastern Europe. This is meant to be Renault’s dustbin, the dog food to Renault’s chateaubriand. Not the inspiration, the lifeblood of their top of the range exec saloon. The topflight at Renault must be wondering what they’ve done to deserve such treatment. The Citroën boys turn up to their gala luncheons in their C6s, the Audi boys have their new A8, Mercedes execs get an S-Class or maybe even a Maybach. And the Renault lads get a taxi. The one, solitary, stand-alone, hint of a decent feature that I can see is the Lexus LS profile of the rear quarter, which frankly they’ve nicked. That’s it. And let’s be honest here, the Lexus LS isn’t going to make it into the Museum of Modern Art any time soon. Not even the Skegness Museum of Modern Art.

So, clap clap Renault. After all the hard work your little RenaultSport team have been doing to give you an iota of credibility, you come up with this. Merdeque!

German Morphology

6 Jun

I’m determined not to make this blog purely about German cars, but that seems to be the way it’s going. German cars and lists. Either way, I’ve been noticing a trait in their car designing which I’m sure is very obvious to everyone else too. You know that video effect when one shape morphs gradually into another? I think the Germans are using this to design their cars.

Think about it. At BMW they take a picture of a 1 Series hatch back and one picture of an X5. They feed these images into the video effect thingy and watch it go. At separate (and many) points in the morphing process they pause the video, draw that car and they have their range of cars! So they start with a 1 Series. Then it morphs thusly:

1 Series Coupe

3 Series Coupe

3 Series Saloon

5 Series Saloon

7 Series Saloon

5 Series GT

X6

X1

X3

X5

(This is not to mention the 6 Series, which would fit in awkwardly somewhere!)

Now obviously most car companies have a signature fascia that they will use at any one time and BMW are no different. But I make the point because it seems that the Germans are trying to design every type of car that you could ever think of.

Now consider Audi. They have the A4. Then they have the A6. But what if you want a car right in the middle? Get the new A5 in the coupe/saloon style already seen in the Mercedes CLS and the Volkswagen Passat CC. But you want an actual coupe. So get the A5 coupe. Golf rival? That would be the A3. Mini rival? The new A1. Massive 4×4? Q7. Slightly smaller 4×4? Q5. Supercar? R8. Obviously this massive variety of cars makes sense in business terms. And why wouldn’t Audi want to monopolise the car market? I know for a fact that they have a big operation going to get celebs papped driving their cars. I just think that it’s a bit cynical. It’s a lot of brain and a very small amount of heart, in my opinion. You know that something strange is happening in Germany when Porsche, who have been content with one driver door and one passenger door for ever and ever amen thank you very much, start making executive saloons and 4x4s. Ferrari have never made an SUV. Lamborghini have never had a go at making an MPV (although they did make the four-wheel drive LM002 for the Italian military and for some people with small willies to drive on the road). But those companies know what they are and what they want to be. They make sports cars and they’re very good at it. The Germans know what they want to be, too. They want to be EVERYTHING! Deutschland über alles, indeed!

My updated 20 car dream garage…..

27 May

The other day whilst at my mum’s house in Brighton, I discovered a little Carficionado relic. Back in 2004, when I’d just finished school and was taking my gap year, I went to India with a friend to work at his dad’s company, which was in Pune. Finding ourselves sidelined and feeling fairly useless, our talk turned to cars and our dream garage. My friend and I each had a 20 car garage (a mite opulent, I think) and we chose what we wanted. I mostly remember being baffled by my friend’s desire for a Bristol which, I hastily pointed out to him, looks like a Vauxhall Carlton welded onto the front of a Ford Capri. However, here’s my list along with what I would actually have now, wizened as I am.

1) Lamborghini Murciélago

Good start really, but it’s a bit large. Think Gallardo is probably a better bet.

What I’d have now: Lamborghini Gallardo

2) Ferrari 612 Scaglietti

I’ve always liked Ferrari’s GT cars. I even liked the 456. So this can stay.

What I’d have now: Ferrari 612 Scaglietti

3) Mercedes 300SL Gullwing

If ever there is a car that, in a moment of madness, I leave my girlfriend for and go and marry in Vegas, this is she. Beautiful!

What I’d have now: Mercedes 300SL Gullwing

4) Ferrari 250LM


I’ve always loved this car, ever since I saw a video of it when I was a lad. I love the way the roofline just suddenly drops off (like an 80s Toyota MR2 but….better) and the way it looks so purposeful. It is purposeful of course, what with it being a proper racing car, and all reports say that it was a bit of a pig to drive, but fantasy is fantasy so I’m sticking with it.

What I’d have now: Ferrari 250LM

5) Bugatti EB110

I don’t really know how the old EB110 worked its way in, but here it is. I suppose it would be a nice bit of curios in my collection. I personally think that the Veyron’s a bit vulgar, so the EB can live, I suppose.

What I’d have now: Bugatti EB110

6) Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic

This is such an achingly pretty car. I don’t really go in for that pre-war car bit, but there’s no arguing with this.

What I’d have now: Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic

7) Aston Martin DB9

Hmmm, I always thought that the DB9 was very beautiful. But then the Vantage came along and it just looked a little more gainly. I mean, don’t get me wrong, if a DB9 got into bed with me, I wouldn’t kick it out. I’d think it was a bit strange, but I wouldn’t kick it out. And I know one’s a GT car and one’s a sports car, but I’ve always got my 612 so….

What I’d have now: Aston Martin V8 Vantage

8)  Alfa Romeo SZ

Another oddity and one which I shall stick by. It was on a car calendar I had when I was a kid and I loved its angular lines, its cubey body and serious face. And the V6 sounds like a peach.

What I’d have now: Alfa Romeo SZ

9) Subaru Impreza WRX

Oh what a little ruffian I once was. Subaru Impreza indeed. Well, I suppose it would be fun going cross country in it, but it’s not very classy. Although this was back in the era before the Impreza looked like a Kia. Change it!

What I’d have now: Volkswagen Golf GTi

10) Land Rover Defender Tomb Raider Special Edition

Looks menacing and brilliant, but a grown man can’t go around in a “Tomb Raider Special Edition” car. I’ll just buy a black one and stick the bits on myself. Or bugger it, I’ll just get a Discovery.

What I’d have now: Land Rover Discovery 3.0 TDV6

11) Peugeot 106 GTi

Oh I am a card sometimes. This is back when I owned my 106 Quiksilver, aforementioned. But things have moved on, this car’s a bit of a relic, and so I’m afraid it has to go.

What I’d have now: Renault Clio Renaultsport

12) Ferrari Enzo

Very exclusive and very worthy, but a bit too thoroughbred. Think I’ll have that new 458 instead please, thank you.

What I’d have now: Ferrari 458

13) Porsche 911 Carrera 4S

Well, this was very generous of me considering that this was the era in which Porsches had those droopy fried egg headlights (I’m sure Porsche are very obliged to me). But the 4S did the best job of covering it up, which I suppose is why it made the grade. But there’s a new 911 now, so it’s out of here.

What I’d have now: Porsche 911 Sports Classic (so pretty!)

14) Porsche Carrera GT

This must be an amazing car to drive. The feature I like most on it, perversely, is its beechwood gear stick. Love it, although that new Porsche 918 prototype looks pretty good too. Remains to be seen….

What I’d have now: Porsche Carrera GT

15) Jaguar E-Type

Funny story. One day I was walking along, talking on the phone. All of a sudden, I saw a beautiful black E-Type coupe parked up with the owner appearing to show someone round. As I walked on, I suddenly saw that the car had obviously just been in a massive crash and the whole of the passenger-side door was crushed. I was so shocked and despairing that I walked straight into a lamppost, after which I kindly oik was decent enough to shout “Look out for that lamppost mister”. Still, in spite of its beauty, I think it’s a little gauche, so I’ll borrow one of my friend’s favourite cars as a 1960s sportscar replacement, and a very worthy one…..

What I’d have now: Ferrari 250 GT Lusso

16) BMW M3 CSL

I’ve always thought that the M3 (and BMWs in general) were the preserve of – how should I put this – small dicked tossers. Notable exceptions are: old BMW CSL, 2002 Turbo, 1980s 6 Series and a few others. The 2004 era M3 CSL was and is probably owned by tossers, but was apparently very good. So would I get the new M3 as a replacement? Yeah, why not? I might even get it in a noxious colour and make sure I only drive in the fast lane on motorways, right up behind someone’s bumper, flashing my lights at them, and then changing across 4 lanes of traffic in one go when my exit comes up. Bitter? Moi?

What I’d have now: BMW M3 in metallic lime green, or equivalent

17) Audi RS4 Avant

Well, talk about desert island cars. This is it. Space in the back, four wheel drive, 4.2 V8. What more could you want? The RS6 you say? Well perhaps, but that’s a bit uglier, and my next car’s got that covered, so I’ll be sticking with my RS4, although back in 2004, I meant the old RS4, and now I mean the new one. Well, the A4’s just been replaced, but the last RS4.

What I’d have now: Audi RS4 old new one

18) Custom made BMW 5 series Touring with M5 engine [sic]

Artist's Impression

Well blow me down. I predicted the future. Back in 2004, this dream-wagen didn’t exist, so with my imaginary millions of pounds I would have paid someone to make it for me. But now I just have to pay someone to buy their second hand M5 Touring off them. Great!

What I’d have now: BMW M5 Touring

The real thing

19) Honda S2000

Not quite sure how this made it in. For the future trophy wife? Perhaps. Because I need a cabriolet? And something small with great handling? Oh well, sorry then little Honda.

What I’d have now: Lotus Elise

20) 1980s Mercedes 280SL

My family used to have one of these in the 80s and it will soon feature in my “Cars that me or my family used to own and that I now miss” section. Yeah, I miss it, but it’s not quite as beautiful and luxurious as my now ultimate car, a 1960s 280 SL, so I’ll have that instead.

What I’d have now: 1960s Mercedes 280SL (W113) in white, automatic, with red leather seats.