The Aston Martin Rapide is a four-door, high-performance sports car that was introduced to the public by British luxury marque Aston Martin in early 2010. The Rapide name is an allusion to the Lagonda Rapide, a 4-door saloon manufactured by Lagonda, which is now part of Aston Martin. The latest iteration of the Rapide is the firm’s first four-door fastback saloon since the Lagonda was discontinued in 1989.
Based on the Aston Martin DB9, the first cars rolled off production lines in May 2010. With a starting price of US$206,120 the Rapide is powered by a 5.9-liter 12-cylinder engine rated at 550 hp and mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. It is rear-wheel drive and has a top speed of 188.5 mph. The zero to 60 mph dash takes 5.3 seconds.
The 458 Speciale is by far the best performing 458 Italia. The cars can be distinguished by their vented hood, redesigned bumpers, finned side sills, taller rear spoiler, and forged wheels. The updates include aerodynamics designed by the Ferrari Styling Centre in collaboration with Pininfarina. Ferrari engineers also tweaked the V8 engine, with power boosted to 597 hp at 9,000 rpm and 398 lb-ft of torque at 6,000 rpm. The electronic systems were likewise updated, including side slip angle control to improve control on the limit. The car was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2013 with a starting price of US$243,090.
The Porsche 918 Spyder is a mid-engined plug-in hybrid sports car. It is powered by a naturally aspirated 4.6-liter eight-cylinder engine generating 599 hp, with two electric motors producing an additional 275 hp for a combined output of 874 hp and 944 lb-ft of torque. The car’s 6.8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack can deliver an all-electric range of 12 miles under the five-cycle tests of the EPA. The 918 Spyder has a top speed of 211 mph.
The Alfa Romeo 4C Spyder was introduced showing a pre-production prototype at the Geneva Motor Show in 2014. The stock engine is a turbo-four cylinder rated at 237 hp and mated to a 6-speed automatic gearbox. The 4C Spyder shares its engine with the Coupé version but has different external parts like the headlights, engine hood, exhaust, and a roof section with a removable panel. Top speed is quoted at 160 mph and acceleration at 4.5 seconds to 62 mph.
The Mulsanne is a luxury car with a starting price of US$303,700. It was named after the Mulsanne Corner of the Le Mans racing circuit. The cars are manufactured by Bentley Motors Ltd in England. The Mulsanne is powered by a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V8 coupled to an 8-speed automatic gearbox. It features a leather-lined interior and has a top speed of 190 mph. Gas mileage has been rated at 11 mpg (city) and 16 mpg (highway).
The Corvette Z06 is the fastest production Corvette ever built by Chevrolet. Nicknamed the “Big Nasty,” it boasts a top speed of 200 mph and can go from zero to 60 mph in 3.0 seconds. Owners who upgraded to the 8-speed automatic from the 7-speed manual get even faster zero to 60 mph time. The stock engine is a supercharged 6.2 liter V-8 capable of blasting out 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque.
The Lamborghini Aventador is a mid-engined sports car that was launched on February 28, 2011 at the Geneva Motor Show, roughly five months after its initial introduction in Sant’Agata Bolognese. It was meant to succeed the aging Murciélago as Lamborghini’s new flagship model. The stock engine is a 6.5 liter, 691 hp V-12 bolted to a 7-speed automatic with all-wheel drive. By March 2016, about 5,000 cars have been built, taking Lambo five years to achieve this feat.
The Jaguar E-Type is a historic British sports car, known as the Jaguar XK-E in the North American market.It was manufactured by Jaguar Cars Limited between 1961 and 1975. At a time when most cars came with drum brakes, live rear axles, and lackluster performance, the E-Type barged into the automotive scene with monocoque construction, rack and pinion steering, disc brakes, independent front/rear suspension, a top speed of 150 mph and a sub-7 second 0-60 time.
The Zonda S is one of the finest Italian sports cars ever produced. It was offered in 2-door coupes and roadster versions, and the main material used for construction was carbon fiber. The Zonda S is powered by a 7.0-liter AMG-tuned variant of the engine generating 540 hp. It can go from standstill to 62 mph in 3.7 seconds and complete the quarter mile in 11.3 secs. Pagani only built 15 7.0-liter cars during the entire production run.
The Dodge Viper American Club Racing (ACR) model was unveiled in 1999. It is one of the fastest Vipers ever built and came with suspension and engine enhancements aimed at maximizing performance in autocross and road racing environments. The engine is an 8.4 liter V-10 that thumps out 645 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque. Weight was reduced by more than 23 kg by stripping the cabin and discarding non-essential components. These cars have an “ACR” badge and rode on 20-spoke BBS wheels.
The Bentley Continental Flying Spur is a luxury sedan powered by a twin-turbo V8 rated at 500 hp and 488 lb-ft of torque. Auto shoppers can opt to upgrade to a twin-turbo 6.0-liter W-12 that increases power output to 616 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. All versions of the car are equipped with an 8-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive. Top speed has been pegged at 183 mph and the 0-60 mph sprint is completed in 4.2 seconds.
The Maserati GranTurismo is a 2-door, 4-seat coupé that shares the platform of the Quattroporte V and parts of the Ferrari Scaglietti and 599 GTB. The standard version has a 4.2 liter V8 that was designed in conjunction with Ferrari with 405 PS and automatic ZF six-speed transmission. Maserati also offers a convertible version equipped with a 6-speed automatic gearbox with manual shifting mode. The car can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds.
The Huracán is a sports car that succeeded Lamborghini’s sales leader and most produced car, the Gallardo. It made its debut at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show, and was released in the second quarter of the same year. With a starting price of $240,745 it was labelled as Lamborghini’s ‘entry-level’ sports car. It is powered by a 5.2 liter V10 rated at 610 hp and bolted to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox with rear-wheel drive.
The Audi A8 is a 4-door luxury sedan produced since 1994. It has been offered in short- and long-wheelbase versions and with both front- or permanent all-wheel drive. Renowned for being the first mass-market vehicle with an aluminium chassis, the A8 is powered by a super-charged V6 rated at 333 horsepower. It has a top speed of 155 mph and the stock car can go from zero to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds.
The Corvette Stingray Convertible is one of the finest sports cars on the market today. It is powered by a 6.2 liter V-8 engine that blasts out 455 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed automatic is now offered in addition to the standard 7-speed manual. The car carries a starting price tag of US$56,395 before dealer options are added to the cost. It has a top speed of 181 mph and can accelerate from 0-60 in 3.7 seconds.
The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is a front-engine, two-seater luxury supercar developed and designed in-house by Mercedes-AMG. The car, with the iconic gull-wing doors, was the successor to the high-end SLR McLaren. It is extremely fast, thanks to its 6.2 liter V8 engine rated at 583 hp bolted to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox with rear-wheel drive. The car was Mercedes-Benz’s last naturally aspirated engine. It has a top speed of 196 mph can go from 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds.
As it becomes clear they're swimming in a shrinking pool, fish instinctively take up the struggle for available space and oxygen. Suddenly, all bets are off and only the strongest and most competitive manage to rise above an increasingly agitated pack to fight another day.
And so it goes in the Australian new car ecosystem. The 'light' category is still one of the largest in market, where the likes of Hyundai's Accent, the Mazda2, and Toyota's evergreen Yaris live. But the line on the sales chart is ever so consistently heading south.
Year-to-date sales for light cars under $25k are down no less than 20 per cent, and that's on the back of 16 per cent drop over the course of 2016. Meanwhile, medium SUVs are up close to 10 per cent.
Enter Kia's Rio hatch, the brand's global best-seller, with claimed annual sales "approaching 500,000", which is undoubtedly a big number. But in Australia, the Rio is a middle order player in a light car field of around 15 determined competitors.
Which means the new fourth generation Rio, launched here in January this year, is critical to Kia's chances of grabbing a larger slice of the rapidly diminishing light car pie.
Not surprising then, that the entry-level S model boasts upgraded multimedia connectivity and enhanced safety tech, not to mention improved dynamics and more space. Sounds good, but is it enough to get a jump on the light car big guns?
Is there anything interesting about its design?
The architect of Kia's recent styling revolution is Peter Schreyer, a gifted designer that raised automotive eyebrows around the world when he upped stumps at Volkswagen Group in 2006 to join the Korean carmaker.
Under his watch, the Kia design team has internationalised and unified the look of the entire range, from the tiny Picanto to the jumbo-size Carnival people mover.
A signature element across the line-up is the tabbed 'Tiger Nose' grille, and the new Rio proudly wears a sleek and neatly refined version of it, with distinctive, raked headlights sitting either side.
From there though, the overall look is pretty much hatch by-the-numbers. Inoffensive but uninspiring, with a generic approach to the profile and rear treatment.
An odd touch is a pronounced handle on the rear hatch door. Flying in the face of the current trend towards low-key integration of this type of function, it looks like a clumsy throwback to the 1980s.
Inside, the dash is cool and clean, with the central 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen standing proud of the main fascia. Key controls are clear and simple, while the soft-form instrument binnacle houses a large speedo and tachometer, with a multi-function LCD display (including a digital speed read-out) between them.
The Rio S interior colour palette ranges all the way from grey to dark grey, with tightly woven and subtly textured cloth trim on the seats.
One small whinge relates to the four button blanks in the console. Yes, the S is the base model, but blanks in place of controls for 'stuff' fitted to higher variants really rams the fact home.
How practical is the space inside?
Measuring just over 4.0m long, 1.7m wide, and 1.45m high, the Rio fits the light car template to a tee. Its 2.6m wheelbase plants the wheels close to each corner to maximise interior space, and the result is surprisingly generous accommodation.
Plenty of space up front, with two cupholders (of different sizes) in the centre console and bottle bins (big enough for 1.5-litre bottles) in the doors. There's also a storage box between the front seats and a decent glovebox.
For powering and connecting purposes you'll find a 12 volt outlet, an auxiliary line-in socket, a USB port, as well as a drop-down sunglasses box in the roof. And if you're on the gaspers, there's even a cigarette lighter (the ashtray is removable).
Swings and roundabouts in the back, with a handy amount of head and legroom (for this 183cm tester) offset by the lack of controllable air vents, central armrest or cupholders.
Three adults across the back will be uncomfortably tight for anything other than short journeys, but there's a 12 volt power socket, USB port, a map pocket on the back of the front passenger seat (only), and (500ml) bottle bins in the doors.
Open the rear hatch and you're greeted with 325 litres of cargo space with the 60/40 split fold rear seat upright. That's enough to hold our three piece suitcase set (35, 68 and 105 litres), or the CarsGuide pram, albeit in an awkwardly side-on position.
Fold the rear seats down (flat) and the load space increases to a substantial 980 litres. As well as the main cargo area, there's a handy storage bin on the passenger side, a light, parcel hooks, and four tie down anchor points. The spare is a space saver.
Towing capacity is understandably limited, with 450kg allowed for an unbraked trailer and 1000kg for a braked trailer.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?
The Rio S manual wears a $16,990 price tag (before on-road costs) which positions it more than 10 per cent above entry-level offerings from key segment players like the Hyundai Accent Active, Mazda2 Neo, and Toyota Yaris Ascent.
For that money you'll be on the receiving end of standard features including remote central locking (with keyless entry), the 7.0-inch multimedia screen managing a six-speaker audio system with Bluetooth connectivity as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, (manual) air conditioning, auto headlights, and reverse parking sensors.
Not bad for a five-door hatch at the budget end of the spectrum, but forget cruise control, sat nav or alloy wheels. For those you'll need to step up to the Si at $21,490, and if your heart's set on rain-sensing wipers, climate control air and a sunroof, the top-spec SLi is your only choice at $22,990.
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?
The single Rio engine option is the 'Kappa' 1.4-litre, naturally aspirated petrol four cylinder, producing a modest 74kW at a peaky 6000rpm, and 133Nm at a relatively high 4000rpm.
It's an all-alloy, overhead cam, 16-valve design, featuring variable valve timing (inlet and exhaust). It drives the front wheels through a six-speed manual (as tested here) or four speed automatic transmission.
How much fuel does it consume?
Kia quotes combined (urban/extra urban) fuel economy of 5.6L/100km for the six-speed manual Rio S, emitting 129g/km of CO2 in the process.
That's a pretty handy number, and the other good news is the engine is tuned to run on regular 91 unleaded. At that rate, the tank's 45-litre capacity equates to a theoretical range of around 800km.
Over roughly 350km of city, suburban and freeway running, we recorded 8.4L/100km (courtesy of the on-board computer), which still converts to a handy 535 kays between fills.
What's it like to drive?
Kia claims the new Rio's bodyshell is stiffer than the outgoing model's, which has allowed a more compliant (strut front, torsion beam rear) suspension set-up, and like every other Kia model offered in Australia, the Rio's underpinnings have been comprehensively revised and tweaked by local tuning guru Graeme Gambold.
The results are impressive, with a balance between ride comfort, body control and dynamic response cars costing at least twice as much would be proud to call their own.
With just 74kW on hand to shift 1.1 tonnes of hatchback, and that peak number arriving at a lofty 6000rpm, you'd hope for some low down torque to help with step-off acceleration and mid-range kick.
But no such luck. Torque is less than mega, and with the peak arriving way up at 4000rpm, when you need some extra urge for a snappy lane change or overtaking there's simply nobody home.
In terms of the driving environment, while the interior looks good, the feel bit doesn't exactly measure up. The plastics used around the dash, doors and console are so hard, it's like driving a Tuppaware container on wheels. In fact, those trusty, air-tight receptacles are probably more forgiving than the Rio's main cabin surfaces.
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?
7 years / unlimited km warranty
The oversize ace up the Rio's sleeve is Kia's industry-leading seven year/unlimited km warranty, which includes seven years roadside assist and seven years capped price servicing. Whoa.
Servicing is recommended every 12 months or 15,000km (whichever comes first), and the cost of each of those services is detailed on Kia Australia's website, including detail on everything that's replaced, inspected or otherwise checked each time. Cue applause...
For the record, (guide) costs over those seven years are - $226, $382, $277, $561, $255, $470, and $270.
The 2017 Hyundai i30 SR Premium gives you 150kW of power and a load of standard features that belie its modest $34k price. It begs the question: how much hot hatch do you really need?
You are looking at the flagship of Hyundai's hyped third-generation i30 range. It's called the SR Premium, and it's designed to make prospective Volkswagen Golf GTI buyers pause.
On paper the Korean contender looks the goods. It's quick, has thoroughly reworked suspension and standard features that belie its $33,950 before on-road costs list price.
The argument: It's not quite as fast or potent as the German, but it is about 10 grand cheaper and not a million miles removed. So how much hot hatch do you really need?
Rivals trying to do exactly the same thing include the Ford Focus Titanium, Holden Astra RS-V, Honda Civic RS, Mazda 3 SP25 Astina and Renault Megane GT-Line.
Let's break this down. Under the bonnet is the same 1.6-litre GDi turbocharged petrol engine used in the Elantra SR, making 150kW of power and 265Nm of torque, the latter from 1500rpm.
This engine sends its power to the front wheels via a standard DCT seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox with paddles - only the base $25,950 i30 SR with less equipment gets a six-speed manual option.
Listen to the 2017 Hyundai i30 SR from 0-100km/h.
By Top Gear
The Prius gets better in the areas it needed to. Fresh-feeling cabin, urban economy, powertrain.
By Adil Khan
For decades, people have been speculating on topics ranging from car colour affecting insurance premiums to outlandish service intervals. You might ask yourself why these misconceptions exist and where these myths come from. It’s partially due to the lack of transparency in the industry itself as well as the fact that most people find the world of cars to be a little confusing. Whatever the reason, we’re debunking five of the silliest misconceptions about cars, once and for all.
By Craig Jamieson
Ah, the Skyline. Against a skyline. Nice.
The Skyline, in our opinion, is the car that made Nissan.
Never mind that it was actually invented by Prince – no, not the ‘Purple Rain’ one, the Japanese car manufacturer, which merged with Nissan in the 1960s. Nissan kept the excellent ‘Skyline’ name – and the somewhat suspect ‘Gloria’, but we digress.
The Skyline nameplate dates all the way back to the late 1950s, but it’s the 1989 R32 Skyline GTR that really put Nissan on the map. Even though there had been quite a few highlights in the range over the years – the original 1969 GTR, for instance, and the R31 GTS-R – the R32 left an indelible mark, both on the road and in motorsport.