Automotive

Ford Vignale

Stuck in the familiar congestion around one of our major-population centres, I’d become a little confused. The vehicle in front was clearly displaying the distinctive blue oval badge of a Ford, but below it, in elongated silver letters, larger than any other model badging, was the word ‘Vignale’. This struck a chord deep in my memory, but nothing I could pull forward instantly. So I phoned a friend. A quick shout to Siri, that great oracle, came up with a lengthy response that I reviewed on my return home. And the light came on when I remembered another manufacturer, previously in the Ford stable, that had used the name. All…

Passavant & Lee

Jon Passavant and Benj Lee are hardly strangers to the layer cake of the fashion industry. This duo have fronted campaigns for Dunhill, Armani, Ralph Lauren and Levi’s to name a mere handful. Whilst on set in New York the two models met having spotted each other at the usual castings and calls and after three years of product development launched accessories brand, Passavant & Lee. Some years ago, we remember being huddled in the office around a No 25. Attache. It was arguable one of the most beautiful briefcases we had ever seen. The outer shell is crafted from aircraft grade aluminium and covered in a full-grain Horween leather finish, while…

Ferrari 488GTB – Bella Macchina

Ferrari is probably one of the most recognised brands in the world, let alone the motoring industry. Steeped in so much tradition that even the uninitiated can often name at least one of the models. With this, you can imagine my excitement and also palpable sense of responsibility when the phone rang and the publishing director tells me that I’ll be taking the new 488GTB to France for a week. There are worse jobs, I suppose. Fast-forward three months and there I am, staring the car in the face, about to be handed the keys. The first thing that strikes me is that it’s not finished in the famous Rosso…

Al Fresco Motoring

The dream of al fresco motoring in an Italian sports car is arguably something that lives deep inside the psyche of every bona fide driver. Picture the scene: you sit bathing in Tuscan sunlight outside a bar on the Piazza Garibaldi. The glowing white marble ostentatiously matches your white chinos, complemented by your Fairfax and Favour suede loafers. Caterina Murino gently brushes your shoulder as she brings you a freshly poured espresso, powerful enough to rouse even the most content debutant. She leans and whispers into your ear, “Andiamo a casa per poche ore e guardiamo il tramonto dalla camera da letto.” You slink over to your Alfa Romeo 4C…

Avanti! Avanti!

Avanti! Avanti! Urges the engine as the exhaust note booms satisfyingly through the tunnels of the La Provençale Autoroute above Monaco. This is odd; as under the soft leather Lord’s Loafer is the accelerator to a strange beast. A marriage of modern requirement mixed with absolute racing pedigree. A three litre V6, diesel engine of 275 bhp, with nothing less than silk upholstery by the italian designer Zegna and bearing the three point trident.

Rolls-Royce Phantom

Be under no illusions: this article will be a competition between myself and our dashing motoring editor, Oliver Smith, as to who can gush the most about Rolls Royce. There is little to be objective about. In 1904, Henry Royce and Charles Rolls engineered a vehicle of such poise and grace that it ran virtually non-stop for 14,371 miles. It was the Silver Ghost, named ‘the best car in the world’ by Autocar in 1907. Pretty conclusive, if you ask me. Of course, we’re talking about a world in which the Wright brothers had only just flown a powered airplane. Little did they know, Rolls Royce would become a brand…

Bentley Continental GTC V8S

Try and recall an occasion where you have had a conversation with a friend and they’ve told you something which you find shocking and almost offensive. You know that it’s been worrying them and you want to be supportive, but sometimes the issue is so severe that there is little that can be done to hide your feelings. Never an easy situation, and one that I found myself in quite recently. Friend: ‘What car are you reviewing at the moment?’ Me: ‘I’m very lucky actually, it’s one of the new Bentley Continentals’ Friend: ‘Really? You don’t seem that excited. Is it terrible?’ Me: ‘God, no! It’s really very good, it’s…

AUDI S8+

I arrived in the Cotswolds late one evening, to collect The Review’s motoring editor, Oliver Smith. I had driven out to catch the sun set across the fields, as I wafted along to the sounds of Romance by John Barry. For a moment, I experienced a sense of stillness behind the wheel of Audi’s 4.0 litre, 597bhp weapon. This was quickly dispelled by the quad exhaust delivering a guttural raw the likes of which can only be conveyed in a Jerry Bruckheimer film. I arrived in good time, of course, able to observe the usual pleasantries of drinking coffee, whilst lapping the stationary vehicle and muttering first impressions to ourselves….

JEEP Renegade

Jeep has showcased its legendary 4×4 driving credentials by becoming the world’s first automotive manufacturer to drive a car up and down an Olympic-standard white water rafting course. Jeep and Red Bull ambassador Aimee Fuller guided the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk on the thrilling challenge at Cardiff’s International White Water Centre. The Renegade and Olympic snowboarder Aimee tackled extreme off-road conditions as they went up and down the 250 metre long course, battling a flow of water that exceeded four tonnes per second and a descent of more than 30 feet from top to bottom. “I’d never done anything like this before so when I arrived and saw the power and…

Abarth 595 Turismo

You’ve got to be a little bit careful with the term ‘hot hatch’. For me it evokes images of mouth-breathing oiks drinking energy drink and doing handbrake turns in supermarket carparks. Luckily (and I never thought I would say this) The Italians are here!!! They have taken the slightly questionable teenage pregnancy image of the hot hatch and given it a makeover. Think Lavazza not Relentless. Lose the tracksuit bottoms and trainers and replace them with some ankle-biting linen chinos with buff loafers and sockless bronzed ankles. Burn the hoodies and sling a cashmere jumper over your shoulders. It’s Ray-Ban time so grow up, walk slower and smoke more. Bella…

Defender of the faith

I didn’t grow up on a farm, I grew up in Wiltshire which is far from agriculturally challenged but I was not raised surrounded by farm machinery and livestock. So why is it that the vehicle I long for is considered by many to be either a weekend warrior for the green-lane masses or an aggro vehicle with obligatory Ifor Williams sheep dog in tow? Well the answer is, it isn’t really. Many a motoring writer will tell you that the Loyal Defender has long been considered as a work horse for the countryside set but over the last  few decades it’s appeal has crossed over into the mainstream. With…

Aston Martin – Rapide S

A decade ago, if you wanted the sporty number that would turn heads and a model that could run the brood back and forth, you needed a garage that was big enough for two cars. We are, however, looking at a brand new world. A world of genuine four-seater sports cars with posing power to rival the best, and still enough room for the usual suspects. Introducing the Aston Martin Rapide S. Cue the genuflecting. I tend to affirm my own handle on new models by asking as many people as humanly possible what they think of a car. That is twice as hard when the model in question is…

INSIDE ROLLS-ROYCE

Following the hugely positive reaction to this year’s Channel 4 television documentary about the brand, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has decided to engage directly with fans new and old in a series of free live exhibitions called ‘Inside Rolls-Royce’ presented by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.Appropriately for this most popular of great British brands, the first of these exhibitions will open in London on Thursday 13 November at Saatchi Gallery on London’s King’s Road and will remain open for just four days. It will then go on tour visiting major cities around the world throughout 2015.‘Inside Rolls-Royce’ will treat guests to an unexpected multi-sensory journey through the marque’s world-renowned engineering, design and craftsmanship, providing new…

Salon Prive – 2014

The world of classic and vintage cars has seen a boom over the last 10 years – and with that, so have the events related to these ageing works of art. Pebble Beach in California, Villa d’Este in Como, and now Salon Privé on the outskirts of London. Going from strength to strength, ‘England’s answer’ is now based at Syon Park after a spell at the Hurlingham club. The mastermind brothers behind this event are David and Andrew Bagley. They’ve taken the format and really established it in the motoring world, not only for securing the attendance of some of the world’s rarest and most interesting classic and vintage cars,…

McLaren 650S

It’s like a high pitch shriek – a whine, if you will – like someone’s boiling live sparrowhawks in a pan in front of a horrified animal rights activist. I am, of course, speaking of the noise that every single person who took a ride in the McLaren 650S made aloud: a combination of undulated fear and excitement. Cue the Scotchgard seats. The McLaren 650S will take you from your Eames lounger to eyeball-drying speed (60, obviously) in just under three seconds. That’s impressive for anyone (not when compared with anything. Just in general. Full stop). If you’ve never been catapulted to 60 miles-per-hour in less than three seconds, you…

Rolls Royce Wraith

Only a handful of times during a lifetime do you really experience one of those moments when the planets align. Let me tell you about one of those moments that happened to me. The planet was Jupiter as composed by Gustav Holst. The place was Doughton on the A433 in Gloucestershire. And the car was the Rolls Royce Wraith. For those of you who don’t know the piece of music, there is a point when all goes quiet and through the expectation builds a rousing instrumental of the well-known hymn ‘I Vow to Thee, My Country’. It’s hard to communicate, but on that sunny Friday afternoon, wafting along in the…

Drive Southwest

It’s a mystery to me why more people don’t realise that you can hire a supercar in the UK. Day after day, petrol-heads squeeze themselves into a special helmet two sizes too small and drive a few laps around a local track on an ‘experience day’. As if it wasn’t bad enough that you are wearing a helmet, you are given an instructor to glare at you every time you change gear or push the car over 60. As if you need the helmet; you’re never going to hit a speed that would be likely to do any damage. Suffice to say, you are much better off hiring a sports…

Aston Martin DB9

Aston Martin has always held a special place in my heart. As a boy, I remember watching Timothy Dalton drive across Arctic tundra in the V8 Vantage Volante, being chased by the Ruskies. Times have changed, though, and the Iron Curtain has fallen. This issue, we couldn’t be further from tundra. This quarter, I convinced the ladies and gents at the hallowed Aston Martin Lagonda head office to loan us their new V12 DB9 Volante for an epic drive from Bristol to Antibes. The last time I drove across Europe was in a One Series BMW, following a team of 110 Defenders from Copenhagen to Monaco on the Gumball Rally….

Know your Vintage

I like to think that we’ve all been there (in truth it’s probably just my very small warped mind that’s obsessed about this, but you’re reading it, so hey-ho). Allow me to set the scene: I was having a lovely evening in polite company and someone had brought an American with them. Either as a quaint distraction or through a genuine love of all things dumbed-down. Whilst said American was grappling with a receptacle that holds less than one (US) gallon of drink and was staring at knives and forks with confusion, I found myself feeling constantly uneasy at the next topic of conversation or misnomer to be blurted out…

Jaguar F-Type

I haven’t found a review of the 3.0 F-Type so telling myself that Jaguar thought we were edgy and cool with a kind of anti-hero take on sports cars and not a small publication who isn’t to be trusted with the V8. They lent us the V6 one – not even the V6 S. I’m fine with that. I think I seem fine. Much like the F-Type, I’ll do different levels of review. The first is what I call the entry level review: buy one of these. It’s properly fast and sounds like a race car. Don’t go for white as it looks shit. The second review is more luxurious…