theALPINAregister.com Forum Index theALPINAregister.com
The Forum section of www.theALPINAregister.com
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   Site SearchSite Search   Forum SearchForum Search   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups  GalleryGallery   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

DK Car Reviews
Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    theALPINAregister.com Forum Index -> Guest Blog !
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
dodgyken
ALPINA
ALPINA


Joined: 22 Dec 2009
Posts: 972

PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 7:12 pm    Post subject: DK Car Reviews Reply with quote

Chevrolet Camaro - 3.6RS Convertible

Avis desk at Newark airport - raining outside - weather forecast mixed for the weekend. So what do I do? V8 Coupe? or V6 Convertible?

Well, I am a hairdresser at heart - so I grabbed the keys to the RS spec convertible. The V6 might not get close to the V8 on power (300ps) but the upgraded trim level gave me a $48 saving built in navigation system.

A blip of the throttle on start up revealed the engine had a little bit of character but once under way it was quickly apparent the character resided solely between 3000rpm and 4500rpm. Below that it was whisper quiet - above that it sounded far too stressed. Seeking out the 6800rpm peak power was an unpleasant aural experience. The other benefit of the V6 was the hope that fuel economy wasn't going to be too bad - the 210mile trip south to Washington yielded 24.2usmpg on the computer - I suspected they were 24.2optimistc usmpg.

Once I was dialed into the 6 speed gearboxes widely spaced gears - and locked the car into 6th using the paddles the journey was dispatched rather comfortably. The ride is firm but well judged - the large wheels rolling over potholes rather than sinking into them. Road noise was maybe louder than I have been used to, but Germanic and British engineering on machines costing well over double the price is hardly a fair comparison. Certainly the roof was no match to the sound of an 18-wheeler!

Inside the leather and body colour trimmed cabin was a mixed place to be. The lighting was pleasant, the seats comfortable if a little cut for American sizes when it comes to side support. The equipment was good - electric/heated seats, navigation, satelite radio, HUD - but everything felt a little flimsy. The auxillary gauges mounted by the gearstick were a joke - and the handbrake was positioned in what appeared to be another zip code. The navigation was a bonus but it was a woeful combination of touchscreen and menu side buttons - and zooming out over 500 yards lost you local roads. Despite the grumbles I rolled into Washington 4 hours later, parked (very easy with the rear camera) - and headed out for a pitcher of frozen margerita

Light drizzle greeted me the following morning and with car safely tucked into a garage for the day - and the hangover nursed by 3 mugs of average coffee and an eggs benedict it was off to explore Washington. Lincoln Memorial - CHECK. Jefferson - CHECK. WW2 Memorial - CHECK. White House - CHECK. Nervous smile from security - CHECK.

At 2pm we left Washington with a warning of heavy traffic on the 50 approaching Bay Bridge. We hit the heavy traffic - and our expected time slipped from 4pm to 4.30 to 5pm - to eventually arriving at 1815 - feeling slightly frazzled. And yet the car had been perfect. The air-con might be a little old fashioned - but the overall comfort was good - and the generally feeling from those who saw the car was that it was a good thing. It put a smile on my face as I overdid my throttle pressure on the gravel drive and entered onto the main drive (flanked by 2 brick columns) with the back end going sideways. Perhaps the big girl was going to be a bit of fun.

We schlepped into the nearest big town (Chestertown) for dinner in the evening - watching the thunderstorm as we munched through a great lamb and crab surf and turf. By the time we had paid the check - the wind was up, but the sky was clearing and the roads dry. It was roof down weather!! At low speeds the Camaro did well - but with windows up much above 60mph was far from pleasent.

Saturday brought blue skies, bright sunshine and a vicious wind off the bay. This was what the Camaro had been hired for!! The morning zipped by checking out the local roads, DSC disabled, powering sideways out of each junction - putting grins not only on our faces but those who watched the silver beast in action. On the vaguely twisty bits (yes there are some) the Camaro equipped itself well. It is not a European sports car - it is ultimately tuned for comfort - but 275 width rear (245 front) tyres are going to provide plenty of grip - and it could be hustled along at quite a rate. The only issue was that the steering provided next to no feedback. You were never quite sure whether the aggressive turn in was going to be too much or whether it would bite and the back end ease out a little before dialing back in again on the throttle. I am not talking heroic Bovington/Needell type slides - but enough to know it could entertain if you could handle the vague front end messages.

By 4pm on Sunday the car was sat back in the AVIS garage - this time in Manhatten. It had managed to do pretty much what it said on the tin. It looks great in a muscle car sort of way. It was reasonably comfortable and spacious even managing to get the roof down with a hard case (old style) suitcase in the boot. Holding second gear through the tunnel on the way back onto the Island had finally allowed the car the chance to deliver some aural satisfaction. The handling had been enjoyable. It had drunk 27.2 gallons covering 575 miles - in proper numbers that is 25mpg - having never been above 85mph.

It was fun having one for the weekend - it put a smile on my face. But I suspect it won't be on my shopping list any time soon.







Last edited by dodgyken on Mon Jul 08, 2013 7:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
dodgyken
ALPINA
ALPINA


Joined: 22 Dec 2009
Posts: 972

PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 7:15 pm    Post subject: Vauxhall Insignia 1.8 Reply with quote

Vauxhall Insignia 1.8

It has been a month for hire cars - first up the Camaro, then a Toyota Corolla in South Africa (which was so dull I couldn't be bothered to review) and now a Vauxhall Insignia 1.8

Pay close attention to that last bit - 1.8 - because it is really rather important. However, to start at the right place, I barrelled up at the Heathrow Europcar desk at 4pm last Friday to pick up an Octavia - it is what I booked and prechecked in. Turns out they had been a little ambitious and Row 3 was instead populated my Merivas, Roomsters, a solitary A3 and an Insignia. With 4 blokes in the car (and their luggage) I dismissed the A3 and opted for the only car which would offer rear leg room.

The Insignia offered up its trump card straight away - a pretty bloody massive boot. More than adequate (as it turned out) for the luggage - partly because one of the guys had completely forgotten he was away for 2 nights and not 1 - and hadn't packed a change of clothes!!!

The run back to the terminal to pick the others was smooth enough - sure the 1.8 engine appeared to lack punch but it didn't feel that slow. The seats felt OK, certainly better than the Cee apostrophe d I had hired back in March. On the flip side the plastics felt not just cheap but dated - and the infotainment system felt like it was going to full prey to the Y2K bug it felt so antiquated. Not to worry I thought, this is an Insignia - designed to trek up and down the countries motorways in name of ill fitting suits and mismatched tie and shirt combinations.

How wrong I could be! Back in the day a 1.8 family car was pretty sprightly. With 113ps on tap a 1984 Cavalier SRi was considered a sporty model. Not so anymore. Apparently the car has 140ps - but I suspect that for every 100 miles the car had been driven 1 had been lost. Slow doesn't even begin to describe how lethargic the car felt. It wasn't as if it was particularly long legged - 85mph being around 3,200rpm (26.5mph/1000rpm) - but at 70mph in 6th any sort of incline would have you dropping a cog or 2. At least, I thought, it would be economical. But no. Having to stir it into life by keeping at least 3000rpm on the dial meant it glugged down fuel at around 29mpg. Now I admit I did give it a good spanking - but that is pretty woeful.

So it passed the space test. Failed the performance and economy test. Now for the ride and handling. The ride isn't too shabby - it is hardly the last word in controlled - but it is comfortable enough on the motorway and does a reasonable job of smoothing out rougher back road surfaces. The handling on the other hand could politely be described as bland. First up there is the steering which gives you absolutely no indication which direction the front wheels are pointing let alone what they are actually doing. Grip? Slip? It is a complete mystery. Instead you barrel along the back roads driving via semaphore hoping the delayed message you are about to receive is not the "I am heading for that tree" that the nose lead chassis appears desperate to send you.

Maybe I am doing the Insignia a disservice, maybe this is all a salesman expects now. But I doubt that to be true. BMW has stolen the ball and game on this one - and has gone off to play with the likes of Audi and Mercedes in making the motorway cruisers feel loved. Instead the Insignia feels it has come to an Asian gunfight with a knife. There is no doubt that the Kias and Hyundais of this world have a long way to go before they can challenge the German leaders, but on this offering they have Vauxhall licked - and give it a few years and others may well also find themselves trailing to the korean upstarts.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
dodgyken
ALPINA
ALPINA


Joined: 22 Dec 2009
Posts: 972

PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 7:48 pm    Post subject: Volvo XC70 2.5T (2003) Reply with quote

Volvo XC70 2.5T (2003)
I am perhaps one of the few people on this planet to have hankered after one of these since they were introduced. I am not sure whether it is a documented medical condition but until now I haven't found a cure.

Friday afternoon was the first time I was able to get my hands on one. They have finally dropped into budget for a new car for my girlfriend - and as she has volunteered to be the owner of the practical car the XC70 seemed a good idea.

The car wasn't spot on the spec we wanted - but it did come with upgraded stereo, leather and a few other basic toys. It had covered 110,000 miles and I was shocked how badly worn the leather looked. The bodywork looked a little used - and the car had definitely been a dog-owners - but with a scottish fighting hamster (read yorkshire terrier) at home I wasn't going to complain. The engine fired up on the button but sounded a little tapperty for the first 30 seconds until it settled into its idle.

The one really great thing about that age of V70/XC70 is how the car shrinks around you once inside - reversing is a doddle, meaning the absence of PDC was unlikely to incur much body damage - if you get my drift.

Out on the road it pulled quite nicely - 210ps might not be a monster amount to torque, or the volvo automatic gearbox the most dynamic shifting - but the overall package was smooth and effortless in its delivery. The low pressure turbo offering up a slug of torque from low revs and ensuring the car never felt underpowered. The ride was superb - nice thick sidewalled tyres and a soft suspension combining to good effect. The seat leather proved to be the only damage the seat had taken as the structure itself was still wonderfully comfortable - except for the tradional Volvo trait of poor side bolsters.

Great ride however has a trade off, and that is woeful body roll - and boy does the XC70 roll. Throwing it into any corner over 30mph has the car lurching to the outside - which is in no way what the chassis is doing. The car developing far more grip than either the steering or the body communicate.

Up to motorway cruising speed the car is remarkable silent, the elevated position seeming not to contribute to an increase in wind noise - or judging by the instant fuel read out the MPG.

Ultimately my hopes that the XC70 would be the car I wanted were dashed. Having driven the latest model with the much lauded 4C suspension I know that this type of crossover doesn't have to feel like a wallowy old bertha. But this one did. and for me, no matter how many other things it did really well, just meant it was never going to win my heart.

(Coming soon - 2000 Audi S6 Avant)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
dodgyken
ALPINA
ALPINA


Joined: 22 Dec 2009
Posts: 972

PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:14 pm    Post subject: Audi S6 Avant (2000) Reply with quote

Audi S6 Avant (2000)
The Volvo XC70 is not the only car I have had a hankering after - the other is a V8. Before you say anything, the chances of finding a B10 Estate at the same price as an S6 is unlikely to ever happen. The Alpina option would require twice the cash (B10 or B3.3X).

In fact if you are looking for a high powered estate car - with 4wd - with good reliability you do keep looking at Audis. Now I am not an Audi fan - in fact you could say I have a pathological hatred of them. BUT just this once I was willing to give them a go.

I turned up at the garage wanting to look at an Allroad 2.7T (which has the apparently nasty 2.7 twinturbo) - it was up at a good price and came with a towbar (something that I find useful to have). Unfortunately it was off having a few cosmetic tweeks. However wondering back to the car my eye was drawn to a black S6. Stellar miles (135,000) but it looked in very tidy condition. The spec was pretty much everything you could want. Navi, nappa leather, pdc front and rear - and beautiful light grey alcantara roof. The latter had me smitten.

Considering the miles the interior was immaculate - no scratch carbon inserts, no wear on the leather, nothing. It was spotless. And then moment of turning the key - ow the sound. I like a nice burble. I like a nice burble a lot. And pulling out of the forecourt the S6 had one - all menacing and potent. It meant business. But then a lot of cars can sound nice - the question was whether that engine could cash the cheques the exhaust was writing.

The answer was a most definite yet. The revs rose rapidly as the rear end dug. The speed accumulating dangerously quickly. It is the like the moment you see a prop forward running. There is no way something that size should move so quickly but it does. The only downside was that the burble of the V8 seemed to vanish. I was expecting it to harden - gain a metallic rasp as the revs rose - but instead it kind of just dropped off - like the engine didn't want to waste energy on the accompanying noise. It was a model of german power efficiency.

In fact that is probably the worst description - the only thing the engine was efficient at doing was moveing the fuel through it as quickly as possible. A test drive is never going to be the best gauge of fuel consumption but I doubt I would ever see much above 25mpg on a run. This would usually horrify me - but the last time I bought a car because it sounded good at idle it also returned a best of 25mpg - and that was a Volvo 760 GLE (with 2.8L of PRV 90degree V6ness).

The ride was classic Audi firm - but not back breaking. It felt almost Alpina like in its control. And that transformed to far tidier handling. It wasnt all paradise in the 4-ring brute - the tiptronic gearbox relays manual shifts in the same way that someone who has smoked a few spliffs reacts to instructions. It is a world away from the rapid shifting B10 of the same era.

I got out of the car actually rather liking it - it does pretty much everything we need the car to do (except not drinking like Oliver Reed at an all expenses paid party) - BUT it was a little more than I had wanted to pay (albeit cheaper than the Alpina options) AND there is the smaller matter of confirmation of cambelt changes.

As a package the S6 is a pretty damn impressive bit of kit.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
dodgyken
ALPINA
ALPINA


Joined: 22 Dec 2009
Posts: 972

PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:19 pm    Post subject: Audi Allroad 2.7T (2000) Reply with quote

As mentioned in these parts before I do seem to have a thing for the "jacked" up estate look. The XC70 and A6 Allroad are, in my very humble and often mis-informed opinion, the only ones who do it any style. This might well be down to both cars being based on rather handsome estates - the Volvo in particular in either 2000 or 2007 guise looks right in XC form. That isn't to say the Allroad is in anyway unattractive, it isn't, unless for a giggle you adjust the suspension up to its highest setting.

I finally managed to get a test of one last night and I am afraid to say the looks of the car are as good as it got.

I knew from the get go that the car was not highly specced but first impressions were poor. Compared to the S6 it was as if the interior had been turned down to 2 - and then attacked with ball bearings. If there was a part of the interior that wasn't chipped or dented I couldn't find it. There wasn't a patch of (handsome looking) cloth that had escaped a brown stain. The back seat had stitching coming apart too. The dash was missing lines and the whole ambiance just felt unloved. A far cry from the pristine S6 and its alcantara roof lined loveliness.

A hard working car it maybe, but it deserved a test drive. A rough diamond perhaps? Or perhaps not. The slightly throaty V6 engine note vanished pretty quickly after it was fired up, instead you were treated to an engine note that more closely resembled a washing machine on the 40c cycle than anything else. It seemed sprightly enough to 80kmh but from then on it did a rather credible impression of something with half the power. 250ps should, in theory, when combined with 350nm (20nm less than the S6), be more than adequate to hustle the Allroad along - it just never felt like it did. At 75mph on the motorway it was up at 2,750rpm - which should feel quiet and comfortable - it didn't. It felt strained, the engine whine just about being heard above the the wind noise. And with the instant economy showing it to be worse than the S6 the Allroad was doing itself no favours.

Perhaps the A6 based setup would reveal a handling and ride combination superior to the equally lofty XC70. In part it could. The height adjustable suspension (set to its lowest) certainly gave it a more car like feel - and although it rolled - it was a far more controlled roll than the lurching XC70. In theory the roll and slight suspension softness should have made it a more comfortable ride that the S6 but it didn't. It felt harsh, rough and failed to feel anywhere near as composed as its estate sibling.

There is lot to recommend about the Audi - if the engine was the 180ps diesel one - it is roomy, capable off road and solidly built. But the ride/handling fails to excel either as a package or in isolation. Combine that with an engine which is utterly woeful and you have a car that misses the target by a long way.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
dodgyken
ALPINA
ALPINA


Joined: 22 Dec 2009
Posts: 972

PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2013 2:14 pm    Post subject: Alpina B3x Touring Reply with quote

Alpina B3x Touring

The 2nd of August was a bridge day here in Switzerland. The 1st being the national holiday - and with the 2nd being the only working day left of the week I opted for a days holiday - and the chance to have some "me" time.

Once I had figured out I had the time to test the new B3 I was a little worried. The path from testing the B3, to deciding which of the 2 reserved build numbers I want and to speccing the car is a very quick journey.

As expected I got in a 90minutes of quality time with no. 5 before I rolled in to Triesen. I have yet to find mine lacking in anything. The cabin is as beautifully specced as it was on day one, the stripes and wheels keep it fresh and the performance/real world economy continues to astound. So even before I had chance to glance the new car the cards were stacked against it.

And when I saw it I was hardly blown away. The new 3er touring looks like a big car - but the Alpina tweaks certainly add a certain something to the stance. A quick look over and I noticed the rather neat solution in the boot - a roll cover store under the floor. Which turns out to be an extra!!

The driving position was, as to be expected, near perfect. The controls weighty and the electronics exquisite in their display. With the key dropped into the centre console I hit the starter button. The engine caught straight away and dropped quickly into idle. Hints of Roadster engine found my ears a dab of throttle revealed a more metallic harder note than the E9x exhaust. A joyously a return to the overrun burble the Roadster delived by the truck load.

Pulling away the biggest evolutionary change is in the steering. The E9x is heavy - very heavy - the front drive shafts putting extra weight into the already meaty steering. The new B3 felt more alive - keener to hunt out the next corner. Coasting along shifting manually but in comfort mode the character of the new car began to creep out. The ride was cossetting - mature - effortless. The gearbox felt quick and nothing like an automatic should.

My test route from Heidegger always takes me south along the Rhine Valley - then cutting the corner to Maienfeld - before a cruise back on the motorway. The Rhine valley section complete it was time to hit the back rounds and open the taps - sports mode engaged - 3rd gear held - 50kmh on the dial - and ENGAGE WARP DRIVE!!! It is hard to describe the way the new car will eat up the road between itself and the horizon. In most this is down to the utterly insane power band - there is no let up - from 2000-7000rpm it will accelerate in such a linear manner it is you rather than the car that will quit first. With 8 gears to play with, and 600nm, you quite simply are never in the wrong gear. 2nd reaches only as far as 55mph - so 3rd becomes the favoured ratio except for the tightest of hairpins. Exiting those tighter corners becomes a test of patience - feeding in the throttle progressively, allowing the torque to shift slightly to the front and preventing the traction control bleeding away the power. This was on dry, warm tarmac on Pilot Super sports.

And new car is not a one trick pony, with the dampers in sport setting everything is firmed up - the car corners flatter - harder - leaning more heavily on the tyres than I have ever tried in mine. The whole set up inspired confidence.

But the biggest improvement only really revealed itself on the downhill section - the realisation that the later and later braking was not down to me relishing a lighter and more agile car - but that BMW and Alpina have finally fitted some proper brakes. Once I had dialed into the big caliper braking I was diving in later and later. The faster, lighter steering being applied more aggressively, the power being fed in earlier and earlier - the traction control allowing a slightly more neutral angle as the x-Drive shuffed torque and the car rocketed out of the corner.

Onto the motorway, the suspension was dialed back to eco-mode - the performance became shackled and the economy rocketed. A full gusto 40 mile test drive should not return 27mpg - and certainly not in a 410ps 4wd estate.

We spent a further hour going through colour options - Alpina green with BRG/Elfenbein lavalina - with full Alpina stripe in each seat with Alcantara backing. Dark green carpet. Elfenbein dash inserts. Alpina logo stamped into the headrests - etc etc.

The end result was an 120,000chf price tag! But that did include all the big ticket items - surround view, HUD, towbar, LSD etc etc. I can trim it by 8,000chf without too many worries.

But sat last night talking with a friend I couldn't quite work out who I was trying to convince the most about the car. Them or me. For all the new toys, the journey to spec a special car (lavalina) and the undoubted improvement over the E9x (engine/gearbox/steering) I was left wondering whether the new car was really all that much better than the old one. It feels like diminishing returns. Mine can do everything at 9/10 - the new car at maybe 93/100.

I have yet to decide whether those 3/100 is worth the upgrade cost.

Not the new B3 - but only 70ps short!!








Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
ali
ALPINA
ALPINA


Joined: 10 Feb 2007
Posts: 1956
Location: Edinburgh

PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2013 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for sharing a great write up.
Give it about 10 years and I'll probably be able to get my hands on one
_________________
B3 3.3 Touring #108
B10 V8 #540
B3 3.0 Biturbo #107
E46 M3 Convertible
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
B10BRW
ALPINA
ALPINA


Joined: 16 Mar 2005
Posts: 3539
Location: Weald of Kent

PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2013 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good write up, I will stay with my B3SBT, looking forward to giving it a blast to the German Alpina meeting next month.
I really do not like the front and side view of the F30 Confused
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
dodgyken
ALPINA
ALPINA


Joined: 22 Dec 2009
Posts: 972

PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2013 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

B10BRW wrote:
Good write up, I will stay with my B3SBT, looking forward to giving it a blast to the German Alpina meeting next month.
I really do not like the front and side view of the F30 Confused


I don't see the front from the drivers seat!!! Laughing Laughing
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
jamesa
ALPINA
ALPINA


Joined: 22 Jan 2012
Posts: 1226
Location: Aberdeenshire

PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you `ken`... valuable insights there.

Did I read correctly ... Xdrive with a LSD ?

How does the interior space compare with the E61 `5` ?
_________________
B10 V8 Touring #160 Alpina Blue ... SOLD
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
dodgyken
ALPINA
ALPINA


Joined: 22 Dec 2009
Posts: 972

PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 9:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can spec an LSD on the rear axle even with x-Drive. I suspect that will be dropped from my specification - it is not a cheap option - and I would rather use the money to upgrade to the surround sound package.

The option list is pretty well ticked at the moment.

I am still undecided on whether it is the "right" option for me - in terms of balancing the "fleet".

I am lucky that I have pretty good access to coupes/convertibles (high end) if the mood takes me - or the 328 if I fancy some topless 18 year old action on the way to work!!!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
jamesa
ALPINA
ALPINA


Joined: 22 Jan 2012
Posts: 1226
Location: Aberdeenshire

PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you.

I recently did a `build` on a UK RWD B3Touring - D5Touring - XD3 ... LSD and Alpina Blue for the RWD`s were the first options ticked ... no need for anything else Wink

Good luck with your dilemma Smile
_________________
B10 V8 Touring #160 Alpina Blue ... SOLD
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
dodgyken
ALPINA
ALPINA


Joined: 22 Dec 2009
Posts: 972

PostPosted: Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:09 pm    Post subject: Morgan Supersports Reply with quote

Morgan Aero 8 Supersports

It is probably fair to say that both Top Gear and Autoscout24.ch are seriously bad for my health - or more accurately the health of my wallet. My Morgan fascination had dimmed slightly over the last couple of years until I had almost forgotten about the brand a few weeks ago. Then Mr "POWWWEEERRRRRR" and his chums celebrated all that was british - and for a few brief seconds showed a Morgan on screen.

That was all it took - and I was scanning through the classifieds on Autoscout. To be frank it doens't take too long looking at Morgans - with only 30 for sale you are hardly spoiled for choice. As I scrolled down my eyes rested on the Supersport - and then the price - a well specced B3x Touring price.

With time available this morning I headed out for a pre-arranged test drive - and I was fully prepared to regret meeting my hero. But then you wander around the Morgan - drink in the curves in the same way you would admire a beautiful woman. The dinky door opens to reveal a compact and distinctly old fashioned cabin. Roof removed and car driven out of the showroom it was my turn. Key turned. Bracing myself. Starter button thumbed.

I was suddenly taken back 70 years - to young men - donning leathers and goggles - pulling cockpit canopies closed - and firing a Merlin V12 into life. The Morgan's engine may have seen service in BMW's top end executive saloons - but in the Morgan the gloves were off - and the sound was the most intoxicating this side of a LeMans GT car.

Slipping the car into D and letting the ZF box do the work is a blessed relief. The compact footwell (with left foot rest) would be an incredibly tight squeeze should a third pedal be required.

Those first few minutes were a haze of wild sensations - the steering heavy yet light - causing the front end (seemingly in another post code) to dart at the slightest touch. The gearbox slipping from 1 ratio to the next without fuss. The suspension firm but supple in its responses. There was only 1 thing for it - get onto a stretch of motorway and let the senses get aclimitised to the barrage of information.

It didn't take long for me to dial into the car - the steering comes together as the speed builds - the rides moves from controlled to positively superb and the Morgan glides along like any other car. The fact the speedometer was completely unreadable above 70kmh was the first foible I picked up on. Diving off the motorway the Morgan begins to reveal a little more of its latent character. The brakes are strong - very strong. Big AP racing racing calipers gripping the front end with a good feel to the pedal.

By now the gearbox had been tapped over into manual and cruising through the little town of Dornach it was held in 2nd gear - while the side exit exhausts were issuing wake up calls to anyone who hadn't yet risen for the day. As the houses ended - and the urban traffic regulations ceased to hold back the Morgan - I gave the long travel throttle a healthy stab and the car came alive.

The first few corners were a blur - approaching in 3rd gear - on the brakes - nudging forward into 2nd - then throttle - throttle and more throttle. The ears, hands and eyes almost overwhelmed as the cars 1180kg weight was utterly dominated by 367 bavarian horses. The exhausts roared on each straight - not letting up as the next gear was tapped home.

It was quick to settle into the Morgans rhythm though - having not taken brave pills in the morning I wasn't pushing the (non-DSC) limits of adhesion, instead allowing the almost over specced brakes to shed the speed. The steering, that had at lower speeds felt other worldly, was now alive. Telegraphing each bump beautifully, giving you absolute confidence it where the front end was and where it was going. But the Morgans trump card is the suspension - it is tight, controlled but remarkably softly sprung - and allows the driver to push further than they initially thought.

An hour after leaving the garage we rolled back in - in 1st gear - the side exhausts spewing forth hell like venom - a complete and utter juxtaposition to its old world, almost chocolate box looks - the front anyway. Standing outside afterwards the car looks so peaceful - cotswold cottage at the front - Gotham City hero from the back.

You could so easily walk away from the Morgan focusing on its tangible failings that just don't exist in modern cars : visible windscreen bondings; lack of heated seats (although the diff/transmission did a good job anyway); a flickering air-con light; woeful air-con performance (although it was 27c outside); a terrible looking stereo; a complete lack of standard equipment. But the Morgan doesn't trade on that, instead it goes down the road less well trodden. It tugs at your heart strings with looks that only a mother could love; it serenades you with a soundtrack that Killing Joke would have been proud to have written; and it reminds you, without a shadow of doubt, that driving, real, unfettered driving, is about emotion. It is about making you smile. And in the case of the Morgan, it is about making everyone else who sees and hears it smile too.













Last edited by dodgyken on Thu May 08, 2014 2:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Hodge
ALPINA
ALPINA


Joined: 21 Jun 2006
Posts: 1443
Location: Nottingham

PostPosted: Sat Aug 17, 2013 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just Great Laughing Laughing

Cheers
_________________
Mark Hodge

E46 B3s Coupe #19 (sold)
E46 B3s Touring #29 (sold)
Daily -
TTS DSG (Not for carrying dogs)
Q7 TDI (For carrying dogs)
V8 S4 6spd Avant (weekends)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
dodgyken
ALPINA
ALPINA


Joined: 22 Dec 2009
Posts: 972

PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:52 am    Post subject: BMW 328 vs Porsche 993 Reply with quote

BMW 328 vs Porsche 993

Monday dawned to light drizzle in Zurich. A quick check of the iPhone had it declaring bright sunshine at 10am. Taking the 328 would be a gamble - a big gamble. I have only had it a month and it hasn't been out in the rain - so I have no idea how it handles when the co-efficient of friction is lowered.

Alpina it is I thought - before I was overcome by the most amazing dose of laziness ever known to man - the numberplates are on the Saab and I couldn't be bothered to change them.

So, 328 it was, and boy does that rattle and creak with the roof up. It was easy to realise why it labelled the wobbily one in the garage. But the heated seats still work (just), the heater is happy to pump out warm air - and the roof provides memories of wet camping holidays in Wales.

By 8am I had the 911 in tow - plain vanilla 993 Carrera - and the weather had turned from light drizzle to rain and dark clouds. It was not a day to be deterred. Some of the worlds best driving roads lay ahead - and we had both taken days off work to tackle them.

First up the Klausen. It may have lost most of its cobbled hairpins now - but the North side still represents some of the best 21.5km of road you can find. In 3 weeks the 11th KlausenRennen will follow the same route we took, I am hoping they have better weather that we did, by the 3rd switchback we were in cloud, and the I was piloting the 328 near blind through the cloud. We came out of the cloud as we hit the plateau, where in the past I have had cars skipping across the tarmac at speeds that would land me in very big trouble. This time though the roads were greasy with rain and cow muck - and punctuated by roadworks as they finalised the last of the summers roadworks.

The top section of the pass remained traffic free and we pulled into the car park of the Hotel Passhohe surrounded by cloud and getting rapidly drenched by the drizzle.

I have never really "got" the southern side of the pass, down to Altdorf, the top section is overly twisty, poorly sighted and littered with flower arrangements!! But having to take it slower revealed it to flow better - and the distances seemed to compress.

Within an hour we were turning out of Amsteg and pointing the cars up the Gotthard. I have great memories of this point, a few years ago I cycled from Zurich to Locarno (in a day) and this marked the start of the climb - but also the end of the insane head wind we had since we dropped into the valley back in Zug. Yesterday though the road was dry, clear of traffic and with the cloud rising, visibility was on our sides. And the best bit - nice close cliff sides - allowing the straight six sounds to echo into the cockpit (still roof up). By the time we hit Andermatt we still hadn't suffered any traffic delays - but Furka was another matter. Even pulling over to wait for as long as possible (twice) wasn't enough to give us a clear run for much more than a few KM. Each run revealed just how much confidence you could put in the wobbly chassis. Shod in 225 (Fulda) rubber all round, the front end would bite firmly into the apex and you would have to trail brake later and later to get the back end unstuck. Sticking with second gear in the hairpins guaranteed no tail out action as the tyres won out over the 193ps (if they are all still there).

The top of the Furka did reveal something important - the first blue sky of the day - a signal to drop the roof, mount the cameras and head down to Gletsch. The Gletsch side of the Furka is little short of legendary, relatively wide - great sighting, and flowing corners make it one of the easiest of the passes to drive hard - and with 6 pot howling, brakes still biting hard and the roof down - the 328 was delivering on my hopes of driving thrills.

Instead of taking my planned route to Nufenenen, the bottom section of the Grimsel was too tempting not to tackle. The cloud had had the same thought so by the time we got 2/3 up were once again driving blind - or I was anyway. The 911 behind me as a guide!!

A quick lunch of steak, chips and salad at the base of Nufenen was the perfect rest bite. And long enough to build our hopes that we would be heading into sun as we went into Ticino.

Ignore what you have read elsewhere, or seen by a loud-mouth, his floppy haired and midget friends - the Stelvio is not the best driving road in the world. The switchbacks get boring very quickly - and the it is far too busy with traffic whichever day you go. The Nufenen on the other hand is the hidden jewel. A subtle mix of hairpins, open, undulating flowing sections - and some easy overtaking opportunities. Despite a small patch of cloud at the top - the road to Airolo was heaven - and as we crossed into Italian speaking territory, and the feeling of being in another country washed over us, the sun came out with vengeance.

By now the 328 was well and truly under my skin. It rolls like only a mid-90s car can - especially one which is lacking any sort of upgraded suspension. And was only SE spec when it left the factory. But that roll implies soft suspension - and on the passes that is something to be thankful of. The tarmac can be pitted, can buck up and down, and at times feel like it is hell bent on trying to upset the car and throw it into the scenery. And with poor mobile signal and a lack of traffic, that would not be a good place to be. The seats are nicely supportive, although some leg bracing is required when really pushing on - and the driving position ideal for my frame - allowing a short arm position.

If Nufenen is the bride, then the Lukmanier is the bridesmaid you want to take out back and get very friendly with. With me finally bowing to pressure to take the wheel of the 993 - and my bloody system boosted by some 100 octane espresso the Lukmanier was always going to be a blast. Unlike many others it is relatively low, relatively open and relatively short. The ticino side is a slow drive from Biasca to Motto as villages appear every couple of KM. But after that it is wonderful. There are long sections that hug the southern side of the valley which flow with effortless easy in the 993, the traditional nose bobbing can be felt at times - and mid-corner changes of grip can induce stomach churning moments of oversteer as you wait for the car to come back as you dare not to lift. Topping out at around 2000m the scenery is reminisce of Scotland (minus the bracken) and after a few photos - and with the realisation time was slipping away - we needed to get to Disentis - fill up with fuel - and head back West to Andermatt.

The Oberalp is THE pass to miss in the height of summer - with the source of the Rhine a short walk away - and with just 22km separating the 2 towns is a hive of tourist activity. Except that is on a Monday in early September. Which was fine by us and allowed me to see how wayward the 328 could be given provocation. That provocation came in the form of 9 hairpins, ASC OFF, first gear and complete disregard to progressive use of the throttle. The result was some nice tail action which should be filed under progressive rather than lairy.

The final pass of the day was the Klausen - this time the Southern side. Perhaps it was the full days driving or simply the pursuit of a locally driven, sorry ragged, Polo in front that switched my driving into a more flowing style - but by the time we hit the top section I found a groove that was both faster than I had tried before - but also smoother. The 328 hold second gear all the way end - revving smoothly, delivering sufficient punch and getting the job done with little fuss. Pulling over, again, into the car park of the Hotel Passhohe (and with 100km to drive back home) we had the chance to reflect on a days driving.

The 993 is ultimately the faster machine, it is without doubt the more involving to drive - and harder work. The engine may have a top end that sings above 5000rpm - but it requires commitment to push through 4500rpm where it already sounds laboured. The lack of momentum as you change gear requires a quantum leap in how you drive the car and by that point you realise that it is not a car to be afraid of. The engine is more tractable, the back end more planted and the overall package far less intimidating then first thought. Once you grip the wheel a little firmer and commit with your inputs it clicks and the magic flows. The 328 on the other hand makes absolutely no sense, it is an 18 year old example of a fine 90s 4-seater convertible - but nothing more. The E36 is unloved because it is not an E30 and not as good as the all-rounder E46. But dismissing it simply because of that would be folly. The engine is near perfect - it may lack ultimate low end grunt and would be embarrassed by pretty much any modern 2.0 diesel, but above 2500rpm it sings all the way round to 6700rpm - without limiter interference. The car flows across the road in a way that modern cars don't. It works with you and the terrain to deliver a driving experience that adds up to far more than the sum of the parts. Sure a little more power wouldn't go amiss and perhaps a little bit more braking performance would go a long way to putting confidence into some of those downhill turn-ins but I have a sneaky feeling the more you try and add to the experience you more you'll end up taking away.

I won't lie and say I am fully taken with lower powered convertible driving day in day out - but after THAT drive - I am once again a firm believer in that there is more to the Thrill of Driving than outright power
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    theALPINAregister.com Forum Index -> Guest Blog ! All times are GMT + 2 Hours
Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next
Page 1 of 3

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group