Top Gear Favorites: Jeremy Clarkson Rolled the Reliant Robin HOW MANY TIMES?

Motortrend News Feed - Tue, 09/17/2019 - 09:00

In this grand season-15 opener, the Top Gear team teed off once again on the lowly fiberglass-bodied, three-wheeled Reliant Robin—which still lays claim to the title of second-most popular fiberglass car in history, dating from the days when Reliant was the second largest UK-owned automaker. The challenge involved Jeremy driving a 1994 model Robin from Sheffield to Rotherham—a trip of just 14 miles, during which the helmeted megastar presenter managed to roll the Robin onto its right (driver) side seven times.

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Most times, it just SO happens that a famous person was walking or driving by in time to offer assistance. The first is ’80s pop star Phil Oakey of the Human League. The next time British “lap-dancing-bar owner Peter Stringfellow” pulls over in his black 911 to right the Robin. Jeremy then “rolls” into a Reliant Robin fan club get-together, where the fans recommend he mount a sack of cement in the passenger seat as a counterweight.

From there he departs and rolls the car right into the background of a live feed by the BBC’s Look North program, prompting reporter Harry Gration and his cameraman to rush and lend assistance. The final roll ends the hapless and thoroughly scratched-up Robin onto a cricket pitch mid-match, earning Clarkson a stern reprimand by umpire Dickie Bird. Jeremy finally has two “training wheels” installed at the front in order to safely complete the last 6 miles, but breaks one off of them off, rolls again, and flips the miserable heap into a canal where it sinks.

Yes, the production company tampered with the car to ensure it would tip over every time Jeremy yanked the wheel left. No harm, no litigable foul—the Reliant company had gone “tango uniform,” building its last Robin on Valentine’s Day 2001. And lore has it that the three main presenters were all so smitten by this anti-supercar that each eventually bought one.

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Categories: Property

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera Review: Base Porsche Is Plenty of Porsche

Motortrend News Feed - Tue, 09/17/2019 - 09:00

The 911 variants are coming. There are currently 24 submodels of previous generation 911 (Honda sells only 10 nameplates in their entire portfolio) and Porsche is unlikely to change what’s been working for decades. Earlier this year, Porsche debuted the 992—the first major 911 redesign since the 991 in 2012—with the release of the 2020 Carrera S. That means the Turbo, the Targa, the Carrera T, the GT3 and eventual GT2; they’re all on the way.

But it’s this car, the base 911 Carrera, that’s always appealed to me. It’s always been the narrowest, cleanest looking, simplest model in the range—not to mention the most affordable. 

Some of those characteristics change with the 992 Carrera. For the first time in the 911’s history, all models including the base car are fitted with the wider body shell, formerly reserved for all-wheel-drive and GTS variants. The 2020 Carrera is 72.9 inches wide—1.7 inches wider than the car it replaces. All-wheel-drive 911s used to be the only models with a full-width rear taillight, but that too is now standard across the range.

The other most noticeable visual tweaks are at the front end. Rounded corners where the trunklid meets the front bumper are traded for sharp ones, and the cut for the front bumper now lies under the headlights instead of bisecting them.

I think this car’s predecessor is a prettier machine. The new rear end has tons of visual mass under that full-width taillight, and the angle between the bumper cut and the front trunklid distract from the classic 911 face more than complement it. This is still a sports car with classically beautiful proportions, and the wider rear haunches make for a muscular back end; I just prefer the 991 by a hair.

Step Inside

Seating position in the 911 is spot on. You sit down in the belly of the beast, as opposed to riding on top of it, and the small-diameter three-spoke steering wheel is aimed square at your chest.

I’m picky about these things, and I couldn’t ask for more from a steering wheel. The airbag cover is small and perfectly round, and there aren’t too many buttons on the wheel to distract the driver. It’s a quality piece.

Like every 911 that’s come before it, the 992 houses its engine in the rear, eliminating the need for a long, bulging hood. As a result, forward visibility is fantastic—the front end immediately drops away from the base of the windshield. The only bits of bodywork you’ll see are the crests of the fenders flowing back from the 911’s signature round headlights, which inform the driver exactly where the front wheels sit on the road.

Those coming from the world of high-end timepieces won’t be disappointed by the 992’s central tachometer. It’s an analog dial with a physical needle and large, clear numbers, and the dial itself has lovely depth to it. The tach is flanked on either side by configurable frameless high-res digital screens, but about a third of the information on display is blocked by the rim of the steering wheel.

There’s a lot more high-gloss piano black plastic trim in this interior than in previous 911s. The space around the new toggle switch–like electronic shifter is full of it. Textured diamond-print plastic trim pieces cover a shelf below the dashboard and surround the center console, and a 10.9-inch center touchscreen dominates this more digitized interior.

My biggest complaint beyond the steering wheel obstructing the gauge cluster are the window and mirror controls. The switches are too far back on the armrest, and operation requires an angle of the wrist that feels like it would induce arthritis by the time I turn 30. It feels silly to complain about such a minute detail, but compared with the ergonomic execution of the steering wheel and seating position, it really stands out.

Drive the Darn Thing

You fire up the 992 Carrera by turning a simulacrum of a key on the left-hand side of the wheel. As the Carrera’s twin-turbocharged flat-six spins to life, it’s immediately apparent that all the action is going on behind you. There’s some aural augmentation at work here, physically piping engine noise into the cabin, but it comes off as more organic than artificial, and it means you get to hear more of the one thing that makes the 911 different than any car on the market: it’s engine.

Not one automaker outside Porsche builds an engine that develops power from six horizontally opposed cylinders. The flat six isn’t entirely limited to the 911—the hardcore Boxster Spyder and Cayman GT4 feature naturally aspirated engines from the same family—but nonetheless, this 911’s engine is a very special powerplant. It feels even more so as a potential all-electric future comes into focus with the debut of Porsche’s Tesla-fighting Taycan.

The base Carrera now makes 379 hp—9 more than its predecessor. It’s hard to imagine wanting for more. Rarely in my drive across rural southern Germany did I find the opportunity to use full throttle, and when I did, the way this engine sang and the way the car gathered speed felt every bit as rich as the Carrera’s $98,750 starting price would indicate. With the Sport Chrono package, it’ll hit 60 mph in a claimed 3.8 seconds.

This car’s wider body shell is likely a consequence of packaging the particle filters necessary for emissions regulations in Europe, but it results in a bump to the 911’s mechanical grip. Because the front and rear track of this car are both over 1.5 inches wider, it’s inherently more stable through a corner than the 911s that came before it.

The limits are a little higher than they used to be, and it’s harder to explore the Carrera’s driving dynamics on the street. When I did exceed the mountains of grip on offer, the car pivoted around me, rather than feeling like it was sliding or drifting. The steering is immediate and impossibly direct. I’ve yet to drive an electrically power-assisted system that’s impressed me more in terms of steering feel and precision.

Gone are the days of widow-making 911s with nasty midcorner behavior, but so too is the 911 that feels slender and lithe. It never comes off as a particularly small car, especially on the narrow two-way German roads that would barely pass for a driveway in the States.

More 2020 Porsche 911 reviews:

The base Carrera has staggered wheels for the first time—19s in the front and 20s in the back, 20s and 21s if you upgrade from the standard rollers. This car travels over pavement in a way that is extremely controlled. There are no secondary motions from the suspension, but the large wheels and low-profile tires result in significant road noise in the cabin. Even in comfort mode, I’d call the ride stiff.

This brake pedal is the best I’ve felt in any car on sale. Try as I might, I couldn’t come up with a better description than this: It just feels like your foot is stomping down on a spinning iron brake disc. The pedal is firm and communicative, adjustable without feeling overboosted. All I want to do is keep driving this car, and driving it hard.

More to Come

Porsche’s newest iteration of the base 911 Carrera is a little different. A touch wider, a bit more digital, a tad quicker. But the impression I’m left with is that the new 911 continues to stand out as a world-class sports car that executes the details—seating position, visibility, steering, brake feel—better than just about any car in the business. I can’t wait to drive what comes next.


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Categories: Property

NAV nudges up at Target Healthcare

Property Week News Feed - Tue, 09/17/2019 - 08:23
Net asset value (NAV) at Target Healthcare REIT nudged up in the year to the end of June as rents across its care homes portfolio rose 24%.
Categories: Property

WeWork postpones IPO as it fails to gain investor support

Property Week News Feed - Tue, 09/17/2019 - 08:11
WeWork has postponed plans for a listing this autumn after failing to attract enough support for the multi-billion IPO from investors.
Categories: Property

Springfield posts strong annual results

Property Week News Feed - Tue, 09/17/2019 - 07:50
Scottish housebuilder Springfield Properties has posted a 69% leap in profit off the back off a 36% increase in revenue for the year to the end of May.
Categories: Property

2020 McLaren GT Review: How This GT is a Mission in Progress

Motortrend News Feed - Tue, 09/17/2019 - 00:01

McLaren is on a roll these days. Of the 18,000 vehicles produced since 2011, a huge portion of that total—4,863, to be exact—were sold in 2018, and the 2019 models are nearly sold out. Not bad for a company that sells only sports cars. But to stay viable and to attract even more new buyers, the portfolio must expand beyond this niche. So what to do when you’re a small-volume manufacturer looking to make the most out of what you already have?

Up until now, McLaren has been “sports cars for serious drivers,” says chief engineer Adam Thomson. “But as part of the Track25 business plan, the company is looking at what else we would like to do.” So in addition to the Sport (570S), Super (720S), and Ultimate Series (Senna), McLaren saw fit to add a fourth category to their portfolio: Grand Touring. The 2020 McLaren GT is the inaugural model for this new category.

“There’s this huge, diverse range of what a GT product is,” said Thomson. “Some of them are great at some things. Some of them are less great at some things. But for us, they all carry some inherent DNA that, for us, means they’re compromised in certain ways.”

Weight, according to McLaren, is the biggest compromise, followed closely by agility. When designing the GT, McLaren instead chose to take inspiration from classic GTs from the ’60s, which best embodied this clarity of purpose that it sought to achieve. The challenge? Creating a new model that feels special and distinct from an existing platform.

Of course, the difference here is that McLaren is starting with an exceptional platform. A new carbon-fiber structure, dubbed Monocell II-T, is adapted from the 570S. A new rear upper structure enables the engine to nestle closer to the ground for a lower center of gravity, all while retaining the full structural rigidity of the original.

Despite the use of shared components, McLaren says that two-thirds of the GT is specific to this model. From there, it was all about creating a unique identity.

It has to have presence. “GT customers want a car that is more understated, more elegant, more subtle,” says Thomson. One look at the exterior, and the silhouette is still instantly identifiable as a McLaren: long, low, and wide, with a distinctive greenhouse that begins just above the front axle and flows harmoniously into the rear quarters. Perhaps the front end is a little too understated, with the headlights lacking the visual drama of McLaren’s other cars. This is a coupe that gets better-looking the further back you go.

It has to be quick. That’s an easy one. The GT is motivated by a revised version of the existing 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 found in the 720S, here tuned to deliver 612 hp and 465 lb-ft with 95 percent of that torque available from 3,000 to 7,200 rpm. That’s sufficient to propel the 3,373-pound GT from 0 to 60 in a scant 3.1 seconds on the way to a top speed of 203 mph. Providing you drive at a more plebian pace, an estimated 15/22 mpg enables the GT to extract nearly 420 miles from its 19-gallon tank.

It has to be livable. All that speed doesn’t matter if you can’t get out of your own driveway. Although it won’t be tackling the Rubicon anytime soon, the GT’s front end does feature a 10-degree approach angle, ensuring that most ramps and speed bumps can be taken without scraping the nose; ground clearance measures a decent 4.3 inches. A vehicle lift function raises the front end an additional 3 degrees and increases ground clearance to 5.1 inches. Reduced spring rates and twin-valve hydraulic dampers are tuned to compensate for this increased ride height and ensure the ride quality is GT-worthy. For a quieter cabin, the standard exhaust system features active valves that only open under hard acceleration.

It has to be practical. A long cargo area exists where the engine once lived, offering an astonishing (for its class) 14.8 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats. The vertical shape compromises usability somewhat, but it also means the GT can swallow a golf bag or two sets of skis and boots. Even with these unwieldy objects in place, there’s still room for an overnight bag or two. Need even more space? There’s an additional 5.3 cubic feet of storage in the frunk, for a total of 20.1 cubic feet. Naturally, McLaren offers a custom luggage set that includes two bags, a garment case, and golf bag, all tailored to the fabric and color of your choice. At speed, the side intakes channel air around the compartment to prevent your perishables from perishing.

It has to be comfortable. Acres of leather adorn the cabin, and well-padded seats are designed to be comfortable over long distances. McLaren switchgear continues to be a tactile delight. Metal stalks feel great to the touch and move into position with a beautifully weighted damping, and knurled knobs click into place with the precision of a Swiss watch. Two option packages, Pioneer and Luxe, pile on even more comfort and convenience. An optional Bowers & Wilkins audio system crams 12 speakers into the small cabin, including two subwoofers made of—you guessed it—carbon fiber.

Still, platform sharing is platform sharing, and the GT remains a sports car at heart. Around town, the GT could use a lesson in tractability. When meandering at slower speeds, the powertrain is gruff, cranky and impatient. Despite extensive sound deadening and NVH refinements to the carbon-fiber structure, the irritated rumble of the V-8 still infiltrates the cabin at low rpms. Exacerbating this situation is a transmission that’s often confused and reluctant to downshift, even with a decisive stab to the accelerator. Noticeable turbo lag adds insult to alacrity. Creeping through rush-hour traffic requires not only patience, but also exquisite timing. Not a big deal when you’re on a racetrack, but it’s unforgivable in a Grand Tourer.

Throughout this drudgery, you’ll need to pay close attention to your surroundings. The GT lacks active safety features such as automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring. And like other McLarens, nudging the brake pedal only introduces the calipers to the rotors; from there, modulation is all about pressure, not travel. The infotainment system screen washes out even in partial sunlight and is completely unreadable when wearing polarized glasses. Which is probably just as well, since the interface is difficult to navigate, and McLaren doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

There’s an easy solution to all of that, of course. Switch the transmission into manual mode, nail the throttle, and the GT comes alive. Flat torque curve or not, this is an engine that loves to rev. Once everything is spinning righteously beneath that capacious luggage compartment, the GT accelerates like a fierce, angry arrow, straight off the bow. Spontaneous passing maneuvers are ridiculously easy. Despite the wooden feel, the brakes are ferociously strong. And the hydraulic steering lives up to its name, with movements that are fluid and precise. It’s not only an absolute joy to guide the GT around corners, but a reminder that even the best electric power steering setups still can’t deliver this level of honest, rewarding feedback. The McLaren DNA is never more proudly evident than when the GT is charging through mountainous switchbacks or reeling in the miles at a furious pace.

Sure, the idea of crossing continents at deliriously high speeds is delightful in theory, but the reality of increasingly congested highways sometimes limits those opportunities to mere minutes, not hours. You’ll spend the rest of the time somewhere in between, plodding along far below the speed limit, relying on the comfort of your car to keep you sane.

So the question remains: Is it a GT? As it turns out, every inherent DNA offers some sort of compromise. With a starting price of $213,195, the 2020 McLaren GT presents a nimble alternative in a class of heavyweights. It goes like stink, its ride is spectacular, and we can think of no other car in this class with this amount of cargo space. That might be enough for existing McLaren customers who are looking for a more comfortable alternative. But further powertrain refinement and a usable infotainment system are necessary if McLaren really wants to light a new wick on the GT torch. Until then, we’d say it’s two-thirds of the way there.

The post 2020 McLaren GT Review: How This GT is a Mission in Progress appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

2020 Fiat 500L

The Car Connection News Feed - Mon, 09/16/2019 - 23:52
The 2020 Fiat 500L hasn’t sold well in America since its launch in 2014. Besides the bulky styling of the subcompact crossover, it doesn’t offer much apart from impressive interior space and decent value in the base Pop trim. Trekking and Lounge trims are available. We give it 3.8 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)...
Categories: Property

UAW strikes, ownership costs hit record highs, Mercedes makes the news: What's New @ The Car Connection

The Car Connection News Feed - Mon, 09/16/2019 - 19:40
2020 Mercedes-Benz CLS Class overview The 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class coupe-like sedan is graceful and serene with impressive performance available. Car ownership costs hit record high Not only are new vehicle prices near record highs, but the cost to own a new car over time has hit a new record. Nissan Rogue investigated over sudden acceleration...
Categories: Property

Car ownership costs hit record high

The Car Connection News Feed - Mon, 09/16/2019 - 18:30
Not only are new vehicle prices near record highs, but the cost to own a new car over time has hit a new record, according to AAA. While most costs to own a vehicle have increased, financing costs in particular have spiked, causing the annual cost to own a vehicle in 2019 to $9,282, which is the highest on record since AAA began tracking ownership...
Categories: Property

2020 Honda Accord sedan arrives with $150 price bump in most models over last year

The Car Connection News Feed - Mon, 09/16/2019 - 18:11
On Monday, Honda detailed the 2020 Accord's price and trim levels, which should be familiar to mid-size sedan shoppers. For 2020, the Honda Accord will stand pat in LX, Sport, EX, EX-L, and Touring trim levels, with most models getting a $150 nudge up in price compared to 2019 versions. The 10th-generation Accord launched as new for model year...
Categories: Property

New CMBS secured against intu Derby

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 09/16/2019 - 18:10
Deutsche Bank has launched a new £114m CMBS of a senior loan secured against intu Derby.
Categories: Property

Housing minister’s ‘housework’ joke gets cool reception at RESI 2019

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 09/16/2019 - 16:46
Esther McVey didn’t get off to the best start with her much-anticipated first speech as housing minister at Property Week’s RESI Convention.
Categories: Property

UAW workers strike at GM plants over contract negotiations for pay, plant closures

The Car Connection News Feed - Mon, 09/16/2019 - 16:25
Tens of thousands of union auto workers at General Motors plants went on strike Monday, the latest salvo in ongoing negotiations between union officials and management for a new contract. At issue between the two sides are pay for workers, health-care costs, added jobs, and productivity. It's the first United Auto Workers strike at GM's plants...
Categories: Property

FORE Partnership secures first tenant at Windmill Green

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 09/16/2019 - 15:07
Technology business Interact Software has become the first tenant to sign up for an office at new Manchester office building Windmill Green.
Categories: Property

John Knight joins Carter Jonas as a partner

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 09/16/2019 - 15:07
Carter Jonas has appointed John Knight as a partner and head of national investment.
Categories: Property

Battersea Power Station secures £600m financing for third phase

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 09/16/2019 - 14:33
Battersea Power Station has completed the financing of the third phase of the development, with a £600m loan from a group of core lenders.
Categories: Property

Council investment in shopping centres on course to reach £1bn by close of 2020

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 09/16/2019 - 14:28
Local authority investment in shopping centres is on course to hit £1bn by the end of 2020, according to a new survey.
Categories: Property

Cushman & Wakefield appointed as agent at 101 Embankment

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 09/16/2019 - 14:18
MMA Holdings has appointed Cushman & Wakefield as the joint letting agent at 101 Embankment in Manchester.
Categories: Property

Blackstone agrees $4.5bn Dream deal

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 09/16/2019 - 14:16
Blackstone has agreed to buy Dream Global REIT in a $4.7bn deal – less than a week after the US private equity firm raised $20.5bn for its latest real estate fund.
Categories: Property

Mondelez renews lease at Uxbridge Business Park

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 09/16/2019 - 13:54
Mondelez UK has renewed its commitment to Arlington’s Building 3 at Uxbridge Business Park in west London by signing a new 55,000 sq ft on a 10-year basis.
Categories: Property