French Open winner Maria Sharapova was driven to the glamorous Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Pre-Wimbledon Party in the Porsche 918 Spyder – the Stuttgart marque’s fastest, most powerful production car to date, and one of the lowest-emitters of CO2 of any class of car.
Fresh from his drive in the Le Mans 24 Hours race, Sharapova’s chauffeur for the night was Porsche factory ‘works’ driver, Mark Webber, complete in smart chauffeur attire.
Sharapova, a Porsche Ambassador, was collected from The Goring Hotel in Belgravia and driven by Webber to the prestigious event at Kensington Roof Gardens in West London.
Being driven in the most powerful Porsche road car to date, by arguably the world’s fastest chauffeur, was an experience savoured by Sharapova. Speaking about the drive, she commented: “What a fantastic way to arrive at the party. To be in the fastest Porsche with a racing driver like Mark is amazing. And it’s great also to be driving in a city like London running only on electric power – it’s an unbelievable car!”
Webber was equally impressed by the car. The Porsche World Endurance Championship driver said: “Having just driven the Porsche 919 Hybrid race car at Le Mans last weekend, I already know that this technology can produce incredible results. The 918 Spyder is the closest thing to a road-going version, and it’s just as amazing – especially as it can be driven into London for free. And of course it’s great fun to drive Maria around in it!”
The 918 Spyder has a mid-mounted 4.6-litre V8 race engine coupled to two electric motors with lithium-ion batteries. It is a remarkable plug-in hybrid super sports car that can reach a top speed of 344 km/h, sprint from zero to 100km/h in 2.5 seconds, and yet at 72 g/km (70 g/km with the lightweight Weissach Package) produces so little CO2 that it is exempt from the London Congestion Charge.
It has a total power output of 887 hp and holds the current lap record for a production car at the famous Nürburgring race circuit of just 6 minutes 57 seconds. Despite all that performance, its plug-in hybrid technology means a low fuel consumption of 3.0 L/100kms is possible.
The GT4 Stinger provides a possible and highly provocative glimpse into Kia’s future…
Flocks of international journalists roamed the floors of COBO Hall in downtown Detroit on the occasion of the 25th annual North American International Auto Show.
With a plethora of automotive goodness under one roof, it’s hard to narrow down which ones to focus on. After all, there are concepts, production vehicles and much more. And there are a lot of them.
To kick things off on my list, let’s start with some concepts.
Ah, MINIs. For over a decade, they have been romping the streets and causing people to smile, whether driving them, sitting in them or watching them.
At the NAIAS, the masses were introduced to the MINI John Cooper Works Concept. Not a whole heck of a lot of information was released but you can bet your bottom dollar that it’ll be fast. There are large air inlets, 18-inch wheels and the unmistakable MINI silhouette and face. It’s built as much for the road as it is the track. Did I mention it’ll be fast? Until the production vehicle is produced, we will just have to be patient and wait for pricing, specs and all the fun stuff.
Kia certainly drew the crowds when it came to their GT4 Stinger Concept.
According to Kia, the “GT4 Stinger was conceived by the “gearheads” in Kia’s Irvine, Calif., design studio, birthplace of iconic concept vehicles such as the Track’ster and Cross G.”
The rear-wheel drive, 2+2 sports car, had a powerful stage presence. And also packs a healthy dose of 315 horsepower from a turbocharged, 4-cylinder powerplant.
The Korean carmaker mentions that there are no pending plans to bring this particular car to market, however, Kia has a history of delivering production vehicles that bear a strong resemblance to the concept that preceded them, and the GT4 Stinger provides a possible and highly provocative glimpse into Kia’s future.
And if it’s the future we’re after, it looks good.
Moving from fantasy to fiction, we have the Honda Fit.
It’s a spectacular little car and has been a popular selling vehicle in Canada. And it’s all new for 2015.
Up front, the Fit sports a new grille and headlight design. Around back, there are rear reflectors and LED taillights run along the hatch with a chrome tailgate garnish and rear diffuser.
Furthermore, Honda keep’s their exclusive Magic Seat, which offer multiple configurable seating positions. Translation, the Fit provides an unrivaled 52.7 cubic feet of cargo space when the second row seats are folded flat.
It also gets a bump in horses. Included is an all-new direct-injected 1.5-liter DOHC i-VTEC engine producing 130 horsepower and 114 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s an increase of 13 horsepower and 8 lb.-ft. of torque in comparison to the outgoing engine.
The VW Golf R is no stranger to Canadians. It has been sold here in the Great White North for the last couple of years. But they’re kind of like the tooth fairy. You hear about them, but you rarely see them. Why? Because they were sold in limited quantities. Meaning only a few hundred were allocated for Canada.
But I’m hoping such is not the case with the upcoming 2015 Golf R. Making its debut at the show, you can liken it to a donut. A donut that is fat free, calorie free and has sprinkles on top. Yes, it’s just that delicious.
The all-wheel drive 5-door has plenty of appeal. But with the option of outfitting it with a 6-speed DSG with paddle shifters (it was previously only available with a 6-speed manual,) it might just reach out to a few more takers. That’s if we can get our hands on them. Oh, and there’s an allotment of 290 horsepower, too. Yum.
Speaking of cars with four cylinders and all-wheel drive, the Golf R has some competition lined up in the form of the Subaru WRX STI.
With a 305 horsepower horizontally-opposed turbocharged boxer engine, multi-differential controllable all-wheel-drive system, and a six-speed gearbox, those looking to take shortcuts off the beaten path can do it. And do it in style.
*The best and brightest from the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, from American muscled classic like the Corvette and the Mustang to the newest from Toyota, Fiat, KIA, and Mini’s John Cooper Works…