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Five cars that bombard the senses this summer

Audi upgrades R8’s engine and BMW packs 6 Series Gran Turismo with latest connectivity and electronics

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 June, 2017, 10:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 June, 2017, 10:00am

Audi this week says its new hand-built R8 Spyder V10 plus has a “gloriously vocal” 610ps (601 horsepower), 5.2-litre V10, which is 70ps stronger than the basic Spyder’s block. Now available in Europe, the R8 Spyder V10 plus promises 100km/h in about 3.3 seconds – one-third of a second faster than the basic Spyder – and a top speed of 336km/h, an increase of almost 10km/h, via a seven-speed S-tronic transmission. The block also has a cylinder on demand to deactivate a cylinder bank at low speeds and can coast if the driver eases off the accelerator at speeds over 54km/h. Audi has given the 4.43-metre fastie 19- and 20-inch wheels, motorsport-developed suspension and dynamic steering that “counter steers with tiny impulses at the cornering limit to improve stability”. The roof closes in a Z shape “within 20 seconds” and the bodywork is available in 11 regular colours. The halo model’s infotainment includes free-text search, voice control, seat-belt microphones and an integrated Wifi hot spot for passengers’ mobile devices. Audi Hong Kong does not have an arrival date, but its spokeswoman, Katty Chu, says this week that she has just heard that “the car will only be unveiled in July at the Brand Summit in Barcelona”.

McLaren will launch the 570S Spider at the four-day Goodwood Festival of Speed, about 100km south of London, on Thursday. The marque says the car is 46kg heavier than the 1,451kg entry-level coupe and has a roof that opens in about 15 seconds. Fitted with 19- and 20-inch wheels, the 570S Spider has the same structural rigidity and speed as the coupe, with sprints to 100km/h in 3.2 seconds, 200km/h in 9.6 seconds and a top speed of 315km/h via a seven-speed gearbox. The 570S Spider’s first deliveries are expected in August in Britain, where it is stickered for £164,750 (US$209,669), but McLaren Hong Kong says this week that it has not got an arrival date yet. The 4.53-metre two-seater’s interior highlights include six- or eight-way adjustable memory seats, a 10-inch main instrument cluster and a centrally mounted 7-inch touch screen with climate control and infotainment. Meanwhile, McLaren Hong Kong will unveil the 720S at its Queen’s Road East showroom at 11am on Thursday.

BMW has also released the basics of its 6 Series Gran Turismo, which will be unveiled with a choice of three engines at the Frankfurt car show on November 11. Local dealer BMW Concessionaires (HK) might rush this important model here before Christmas, as it did with the then new 7 Series in 2015. This model assumes the role of the 5 Series Gran Turismo, but with a 115kg weight reduction and with more technologies such as a Wifi hot spot for up to 10 devices. It also has remote control parking that came with the 7 Series, but not in Hong Kong. The 6 Series Gran Turismo is sleeker and 87mm longer than its 5 Series predecessor, at just over five metres. Its boot is 110 litres bigger at 610 litres, and can be extended to 1,800 litres.

The boot sill also seems more friendly to arthritic dogs as it has been lowered by 5cm and is now flush with the floor for easier loading. The petrol engine range begins with the two-litre, 258hp 630i, which could suffice for Hong Kong with tonnes in a respectable 6.3 seconds for 6.4 litres of petrol per 100km and about 148g/km of CO2. A 640i xDrive version has 340hp and takes about a second less to the tonne and both models top at 250km/h. However, the 6 Series Gran Turismo’s rear spoiler raises at 120km/h and retracts at 80km/h, so drivers might watch their clocks near speed cameras. Inside there is a raised seat, a heads-up display with a 70 per cent larger projection area, Connected Drive and BMW’s fine infotainment with the optional gesture controls in the 7 Series.

Jaguar has launched an XF Sportsbrake, with 565 to 1,700 litres of load space and a two-tonne towing ability. The model has a four-cylinder Ingenium engine, all-wheel-drive and All-Surface Progress Control. There are also gesture controls for the panoramic sunblind or boot; cabin ionisation and the Jaguar activity key, which you can wear on the wrist and saves you from carrying a fob when you sail or play golf. Meanwhile, Jaguar will launch its new E-Pace on July 13.

Finally, congratulations to the Porsche 919 Hybrid for winning the Le Mans 24 Hours on Sunday. The 900hp V4-turbocharged endurance racer “combines downsizing turbo technology with efficient direct fuel injection” and does 100km/h in about 2.2 seconds. The 875kg all-wheel-drive has energy recovery systems in the brakes and exhausts that save fuel in its 62.3-litre tank. “At Le Mans, this would equate to an extra litre of fuel per [13.629km] lap,” the marque says. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong cars did well at the Le Mans last week: Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport’s #37FortuneCat Oreca was third overall and second in the Le Mans Prototype 2 class. WIN Motorsport’s Ligier was 10th and 11th in the weekend’s Road to Le Mans qualifying warm-ups.