Archive for the ‘New Models’ Category

Superperformance GT40

When we saw the new Ford GT at last year’s Geneva show it completely blew us away. Floating on its revolving stand the metallic blue car looked a million dollars but (whisper it) the anticipated list price was to be less than £200k. That is a lot of money to spend on any car but in the world of supercars and hypercars you could be spending close to that on a new set of alloy wheels and a service. The owner of a P1 or LaFerrari would probably have that in small change down the back of the sofa.

OK it’s a Ford which doesn’t quite have the panache of a Ferrari or Lambo but it certainly does have the pedigree. Books the size of War and Peace have been written about the track successes of the company so engineering prowess is a given with any fast Ford. The latest Focus RS is a good example. ‘Blue-collar’ heroes they are calling them because badge-snobs wouldn’t be seen dead in one, even as a passenger. Their loss entirely. Incidentally, there will no less than four Ford GT’s competing at Le Mans this year. Look out Porsche, Audi et al.

But maybe the tide is turning. You see the so-called ‘blue-collar supercar’, the new Ford GT, is sending the car-collecting world into a right tiswas. Word is that only 28 cars will be available to UK buyers out of the planned 1000 to be built over four years and this has caused some anxiety amongst those who not only like their cars but also have lots of money to invest in their cars.

There are stories of individuals flying to the Dearborn HQ to see what strings they can pull to secure one of the first cars whilst shouting “Do you know who I am?!” Well that’s just hearsay but Ford has responded by saying that buying a fleet of Mondeos or offering free use of a Gulfstream jet will have no bearing on your chances of buying one. Maybe it will just be the old-fashioned short-straw routine or a gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Ford-style.

Suddenly the company has gone a bit shy on the exact sales price too. Quite likely one of the most sensible comments made at an HQ board-meeting since Geneva 2015 was that the car was possibly a tad too cheap and rumours are circulating now that you could be looking at Aventador-like pricing. If you think you can get away with it, Ford, then why not?

No doubt the car-collectors and ‘investors’ will be looking to double whatever they pay for their car in a few years time so any list price is quite frankly academic. Given the new GT is a spiritual successor to the original GT40 which is likely to be conservatively worth in excess of 10 million US dollars these days it is no surprise that the new car has created so much attention. Looks like Ford will be competing with Ferrari in the auction rooms as well as on the track.

However, there is an alternative option where the sensible money might be heading. The Superformance GT40.

The SPF GT40 story is not new of course and the South African-based company has been producing ‘authentic’ GT40’s for well over a decade now. So authentic in fact, that the company can legally use the name ‘GT40’ and each car carries the GT40/P chassis number and therefore is eligible for the official GT40 registry. So there.

The appeal of this car to ‘collectors’ and ‘investors’ of course is non-existent. But to somebody who would like to get as close as it might be possible to the Le Mans-winning cars from the 1960’s and who actually wants to drive their cars instead of moth-balling them in de-humidified cocoons then it is quite timely to put the spotlight again on this curious ‘replica’, ‘re-creation’ or ‘continuation’.

Each SPF GT40 is produced by Hi-Tech Automotive in Port Elizabeth, South Africa who just happen to produce cars for Noble. The Superformance brand is owned by the Hillbank Motor Corporation who just happen to be the US distributor for Caterham. Petrol (or gasoline) runs through the veins of the infrastructure.

If you want to buy an SPF GT40 you stop by your local dealer – Le Mans Coupes Ltd in the UK for instance – and tell them what engine you want installed (a choice of three from 430 to 580 bhp + as we write this) and your favourite colour for the bodywork. Hand over around £150k (more or less) and look forward to owning a 200 mph+ hand-built, re-creation of one of the most iconic sports car ever made.

For a car created in the 1960’s there is nothing else that can come as close to a Ferrari from the same period that could draw a crowd in a high street. The shape of the original GT40 has defied the ageing process and can hold its own against the forthcoming Ford GT. It looks like a brand-new re-creation will be a lot cheaper too. A proper race-bred sports car for the price of a modern supercar?

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TVR Launch Edition

There are plenty of new releases in the car world this year and we thought it would be a great idea to bring you some highlights and predictions for the coming year…… 

Fresh off the back of our attendance at the 2016 WhatCar? Awards, we are looking forward with anticipation to some hot new models this year that are set to become future collectables and cult classics.

It is well known that 2015 saw a real increase in consumers continuing to invest in ‘modern collectables and classics’ with manufacturers now notably choosing to build special editions and models that are likely to become future classics. (For example BMW M2, Ford Focus RS, et al).

We have found interest in buying these types of models (both new and used) at an all-time high, with many vehicles fetching crazy premiums on the open market over and above the manufacturer’s list prices. The UK market has truly become a hotbed for speculators taking advantage of this situation.

For instance we have seen a huge influx of collectables heading our way from overseas such as the Lamborghini Murciélago SV, Ferrari Scuderia and GTO models, plus Porsche models consisting of the sought-after RS derivatives.

In the meantime new models to look forward to this year include the following….

Audi‘s new A5 and Q5, the Aston Martin DB11, Alfa Romeo’s Giulia, the most hotly anticipated BMW of recent times – the M2 plus a new 5 Series and the M4 GTS. The game-changing Bentley Bentayga and deliveries should also start for the Ferrari 488 Spider. The Ford Focus RS is definitely coming and ‘maybe’ the GT, the all-new Honda NSX, Jaguar‘s first SUV offering – the stunning F-Pace, two stunning Lamborghini Spiders – The Aventador SV Roadster and the beautiful Huracan Spider. High hopes for the new Land Rover Discovery 5 and the Range Rover Evoque ConvertibleMaserati will also join Bentley and Jaguar with a new SUV – the LevanteMcLaren‘s world-beating 570 and 540C start to hit the UK streets and Mercedes-Benz will deliver the new E-Class – a true benchmark saloon and (hopefully) an AMG GT Black SeriesNissan are penciled-in to bring us more NISMO lines and Porsche will be replacing the controversial yet brilliantly engineered Panamera. Renault should be bringing us a new Megane with an ‘R’ version to follow. The highlight of the summer months will arguably be the beautiful Rolls Royce Dawn. Tesla will be looking to head deep into the corporate sector with the new Model S, a smaller 3 Series and C Class competitor and finally, Volkswagen will be launching the potentially bonkers Golf R400!

Phew, quite a list! I’m sure you are as excited about the coming year as we are since there are going to be some cracking new cars to drive.

Next stop the Geneva Show in March when we will be giving further updates to the individual model releases!

For more information on the new releases for this year please call MARK on 0044 (0) 7894 501457 or RICHARD on 0044 (0) 7809 890969. You can also email us at sales@thecarspy.net

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You know those ’scam’ emails you get, the ones where a man from (insert dodgy unspecified country) offers you either a large amount of money from a recently deceased, previously unknown family member, or they offer you a LaFerrari for 50 grand? Well of course they are always too good to be true. This was almost one of those situations. The email had come via Dawn at Rain PR, it came through to Richard and he forwarded to me along with the words ‘Wow…that is some invite!’

It was a private invitation to Le Mans for one of us, plus 39 other guests. Aston Martin pit access, your own private Le Mans ‘Fixer’ private ‘glamping-style facilities’ on site, there would also be booze and food also offered as part of the hospitality…

After speaking to the lady in question on the phone and confirming that everything was kosher, the short straws were drawn and fortunately I (Mark) drew the longest one, so would be the representative for TheCarSpy.Net over the duration of the weekend.

Dawn at Rain PR (Pistonheads PR partner) e-mailed me to say everything was confirmed and I would be receiving a special package via UPS the day before I would be due to leave (Friday the 12th). Katie Blake from Rain called me to check that I had received my parcel and that I had everything I needed for the trip, she would be our guide and personal assistant with us for the duration of our stay. It contained tickets, instructions and a PHLMS 2015 T-Shirt and Hoodie.

Thanks Pistonheads! #PHLM2015

Thanks Pistonheads! #PHLM2015

Friday 12th – Le Mans arrival day

It was confirmed that I would be travelling to Le Mans by train, there was an option to travel by Bentley – (more on that to follow) but I decided that with the likely high intake of alcohol about to be consumed the train would be the better option for me. My Rain PR Le Mans prep pack informed me that I would be travelling with Stuart Masson from The Car Expert, I hadn’t met Stuart before but had heard about and read his blog. We exchanged a few messages before leaving and agreed it was easier to meet at the Eurostar Terminal at St Pancras.

After doing some last minute emails I left our offices just after 9 am and headed up to St Pancras to meet Stuart, he had told me to keep an eye out for his ‘Olympic Sized’ Australian flag (I thought he was joking!) that he had bought with him in support of fellow Aussie and Porsche LMP1 driver – Mark Webber…so as you can imagine it wasn’t particularly hard to spot Stuart when I did arrive at the terminal!

Meet and greet, Euros withdrawn and check-in sorted, we grabbed a quick snack and boarded the Eurostar to head to Paris.

We decided not to drink until we arrived at LeMans, the journey was spent mainly discussing current cars, general car chat and just about anything car-related. One thing that became obvious to me pretty quickly was the fact Stuart is hugely into motorsport – with a particular passion for the 24 hour race. I’d like to think I know quite a substantial amount about cars but to be fair, other than F1 I really don’t know a great deal about motorsport. The Car Expert then set about educating me on the different classes within Le Mans, what they meant, the drivers, which manufacturer was likely to win etc, etc.

The journey passed relatively quickly, we were booked on a train from Paris Montparnasse to Le Mans so would have to use our limited knowledge of GCSE French to navigate the Metro system (which is massive, slow and very hot) but we survived and resurfaced from the catacombs of Paris to board our train to LeMans. I must admit I was impressed with the TGV, its arguably quicker, cleaner and more efficient than the Eurostar. 

We were receiving constant updates on WhatsApp from the PH crew travelling by Bentley convoy of their arrival times and status. Bentley Cambridge had kindly provided Pistonheads with four brand-new Bentleys – a Continental Flying Spur (CFS – as it’s known in the trade), GT Continental (GTC), GT Speed and a stunning flagship Mulsanne.

CFS, GTC and Mulliner

CFS, GTC and Mulliner

GT Speed W12

GT Speed W12

@Bentley_Cambs ...you know you want to...

@Bentley_Cambs …you know you want to…

Upon our arrival, Catherine had texted us to say that Katie’s phone had died so we had some time to kill. Stuart suggested we head to the town square to watch the drivers parade. It was absolutely jam-packed so we headed to a bar with some outdoor seating to take in the sights, sounds and have our first pint (or two) together. If we could see the actual parade then apparently it looked something like this: (WOW. – thanks McLaren!)

CHUsmE_WEAATSLn.jpg-large

The text from Katie came, so we headed to the tram stop that would take us all the way to LeMans. It was a short and relatively easy journey and the stop was a 5 minute walk from our private PH camp. After some faffing around and general confusion about which direction we were supposed to be heading, we managed to find Katie and she led us to the camp.

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Upon arrival at the camp, we were shown the facilities and our tents for the trips, and introduced to the rest of the guests. The PH team made themselves known to us and the rest of the guests and within 20 minutes we were sat having a drink and a superbly cooked meal with Lee Williams (Executive Director of Pistonheads). After talking about cars, business and general PH-type chat for a long time, we decided it would be best to head to the ‘Pie and Piston’ – a Pistonheads-themed English Pub to mix it with other PH’ers and members. It was a quaint little set up that enough space for a beer garden and general pub-rowdiness. We met some interesting people including a great chap called Mike that had just taken delivery of his brand new Bentley GT3 R. He had been invited down by Bentley Cambridge to drive the car on the Mulsanne circuit as part of the celebrations. After chatting and drinking for quite some time (I even bumped into some old school friends – Si, Sean, Rob etc!) we decided it was probably best to head back (at 3am!) to be fresh for the big day.

Mike's GT3 R - Supplied by Bentley Cambridge

Mike’s GT3 R – Supplied by Bentley Cambridge

Does exactly what it says on the tin...

Does exactly what it says on the tin…

Saturday 13th – Le Mans Race Day 

The day I lost my Le Mans virginity.

Full-English was the best start to the day in such circumstances. Waking up at Le Mans is a bit like waking up in some kind of war zone, all you can hear is helicopters, screaming tyres and people shouting. Feeling slightly groggy, and the temperature at 26 degrees C (at 9am) some of us decided it may be an idea to go for a wander and see what we could find.

Stuart and I walked down to the car park not far from our camp site to be greeted by the PH VIP cars and also the McLaren VIP’s next door. It was a compound full of P1’s, F1’s, 575’s and just about every McLaren imaginable…BUT it was cordoned off and I couldn’t see anybody from McLaren that I recognised. We really wanted to get in so we started to charm the lady at the gate in our best/worst English ‘with a French sounding accent’ whist pulling sad faces and somehow it worked…we were in! We managed to have a quick chat with a few people that we knew (between the photos) one being Tim Burton, AKA Shmee150 who’s fresh back from his Gumball 3000 trip across Northern Europe and the USA.

Can you guess what it is yet?

Can you guess what it is yet?

McLaren were making quite a large song and dance about their involvement over the weekend – This was because it was the 20th anniversary of the F1 GTR winning the Le Mans 24 Hour. As you can see from the photos below, they really wheeled out the big guns….

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We decided it best to walk up the race village, this is a purpose-built area full of bars, display cars, show cars, sponsor items, and interesting things (there was a 911 GT3 RS Cup built from LEGO!)…It was also a good time to catch up with some more of the VIP crew and chat about cars and life in general. Katie introduced me to Nihal, a lovely Land Rover enthusiast from op’ north who’s big into cars and shooting (that’s clay/game shooting not drive-by shooting). After grabbing some supplies (and a lot of water) we decided to find a good vantage point to see the start of the race. Sadly there was no way of getting near the start finish line so we found a space on a banked corner instead….by this time it was absolutely boiling! Anticipation was rapidly building amongst the crowd with the clock ticking closer to 3PM. Fortunately a bunch of really, REALLY shouty French guys positioned themselves right next to us to keep us entertained (We had no idea what they were shouting). Anyway, with ‘La Marsellaise’ blasting out of the PA system and the huge partisan crowd belting out ‘Marchons..Marchons…Qu’un sang impur…’ etc, it was LIGHTS OUT and the race was on!

Wouldn't fancy your chances in a crash...

Wouldn’t fancy your chances in a crash…

Decent vantage point for the first few laps

Decent vantage point for the first few laps

Katie had kindly arranged with David Adams at Aston Martin Racing for us to go backstage during the race, we weren’t quite sure what to expect, or what we were going to see even, but all I can say is that it was far beyond expectation. David led us through security, reminded us to be super careful – this was very much a live area and literally anything could happen at any given point. On a couple of occasions we had to watch our backs as mechanics raced past us with tyres etc for the pit stop teams at the side of the track. David showed us various parts and tyre sets for the cars, he explained that one of the Astons (#97) was an ‘Art car’ designed by German Abstract artist Tobias Rehberger. As we navigated through to the front of the garage we were placed in a pen of sorts and told to wait there as two cars would be coming in for pit stops, it was fascinating to experience this just a few feet from the drivers and mechanics, you gain incredible awareness of the gravity of the situation, almost like you can feel the tension in the air, but the most awe-inspiring part was the noise! THAT NOISE! It’s like nothing I’ve ever heard…like a really angry loud dog mixed with thunder? Fortunately I grabbed a recording of car #99 pitting to show you all.

Yes...that's how close we were!

Yes…that’s how close we were!

Aston Martin Art Car detail, pic courtesy of Aston Martin Racing

Aston Martin Art Car detail – ©Aston Martin Racing

After our Aston visit, we headed back to the camp for our evening meal, most of the talk was about our experience so far, particularly the noise and tension in the pits! As soon as the sun had set we decided to head back out and do pretty much the same as the night before. This time we had the fascinating prospect of seeing the cars race at night, somehow it all looks much faster and seems more visually dramatic. With the clock heading into the early hours of the morning we were starting to feel really drained, I ended up rambling to Luke from PH about our skiing experiences and favourite jaunts in Austria (mainly about how rubbish I am) the Pro Plus tablets just weren’t working and there definitely wasn’t a can of Red Bull in sight…I had boldly predicted that I would ‘easily’ stay up the whole night, I was in bed by 3.30.

Sunday 14th – Le Mans Final Day

Awoken at 8.30 by some serious noise! It’s at that point you actually realise the race genuinely lasts 24 hours. We were positioned probably less than 100 meters from the race track so you really could hear every gear change and every dab of the throttle. Its strange because you almost ’tune out’ the noise during the day and night, it becomes normal – like a constant. (It also definitely proves that I have selective hearing!)

Whilst filling up on breakfast, Stuart was informing me about latest state of play, Porsche had a 1-2 in the LMP1 Class and in the GT Class Aston Martin were winning, he was happy with Webber’s performance and so was happy with Aston’s, but he did advise me that anything could happen. The drivers become extremely tired and the focus drops off allowing for elementary mistakes that would usually never happen in other disciplines of motorsport. Later that day at 2.15 pm, almost twenty-three and a half hours into the race, the leader of the GT class in Aston Martin number 98 momentarily lost his concentration and wrecked his car, sadly his and his teams race over with nothing to show for it but it proved exactly what Stuart had told me earlier.

Le Mans fact: Did you know that each team is supposed to have at least three drivers to share the endurance? Years ago however some drivers would actually do the whole event solo – can you imagine 24 hours behind the wheel without sleep while racing a 1000hp behemoth?

I had decided my personal itinerary for the day was: firstly, visit and scale the ferris wheel, the view from up there is incredible. My only regret is that I didn’t go up at night – I highly recommend you to do this if you have the chance!

Dove from above!

The dove from above!

Secondly to check out the new Aston Martin GT12 and Corvette C7 ‘R Edition’ for a customer – Objective achieved. (I’ve even managed to place an order for one)

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Then to check out the new Renault Alpine concept, a sub £50k lightweight affordable sports car for 2016 – Sadly I only managed to get a shot of the rear…

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To visit the Ford v Ferrari showcase. Some seriously valuable cars here…a few that you may even have diffic!ultly placing a value on. For example – the first car we stumbled across was a 250 GTO!

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To witness the winner of Le Mans and the end of the 24 hours. This time it was Ex F1 star – Nico Hulkenberg’s turn in Porsche (LMP 919) number 19 completing a massive 395 laps in total with his team.

Porsche #19 Hulkenburg and Co...Winners 2015!

Porsche #19 Hulkenburg and Co…Winners 2015! ©Autocar

Finally, it was time to say our goodbyes to the rest of the camp and dash back to Paris in time to catch our Eurostar home…it was almost emotional! Stuart and I had Ben Travis from the Evening Standard and his long serving friend Jack in tow to keep us company, a really top couple of guys.

That’s all from me…I must say it was fantastic meeting everybody and I would love to head back next year.

I had a couple of Le Mans ‘Car Spy’ T-shirts printed for the weekend but I guess they aren’t of any use now other than to wear whilst I’m running or gym-ing…still, no publicity is bad publicity they say, right?

M (The Car Spy)

Thanks to:

Pistonheads (and the PH crew) http://www.Pistonheads.com

Rain PR – http://www.RainCommunications.co.uk

Bentley Cambridge – http://www.vindis.bentleymotors.com

Aston Martin RacingIn particular David Adams – http://www.astonmartin.com/racing

Haymarket Media Group – http://www.haymarket.com

All of the welcoming accommodating people I had the pleasure of meeting.

Special thanks to:

Lee Williams and Ruben Burton (Pistonheads) – Fantastic pair of guys – the future of Pistonheads is in safe hands.

Stuart Masson (The Car Expert) – Race informant/Le Mans Knowledge Specialist – 5 times Le Mans Veteran.

Katie Blake (Rain PR) – Thanks for organising everything – and looking after me – the Queen of PR!

Full Album here (Photos taken on iPhone 6)

12 months is not a long time. Only yesterday, it seems, we were waltzing through the airport terminal in Geneva and turning left into the Palexpo to ogle the latest automotive eye-candy. And now it is 2015.

Last year was okay and kind of worth the trip but this year we were gagging to get there. Over 70  new models on display plus the inevitable bunch of interesting concept cars that never see the light of day. So on with the show.

With so much to see we’ll just focus on the cars that were of particular interest to us which means you can exclude most of the mass market offerings.

Cutting to the chase our show hero was the Koenigsegg Regera – ‘robotic’ body panels, 1500 hp, 0-60 mph in minus 2 seconds, brain-mashing top speed, everything about the car is mental. The car is from Sweden and is the antithesis of ABBA. It is Black Sabbath on acid. Everybody now go back to the drawing board.

Koenigsegg Regera

Next up is the Ford GT. Only 250 cars will be made and the launch date is some time in 2016. For a car that looks this good and performance will be up there with the best it is hard to believe that it will cost around £200k. Speculators and investors form an orderly queue now.

Ford GT

Aston Martin. They really are stuck between a rock and a hard place. The brand is bullet-proof, up there with Apple in terms of global recognition and Bond’s perennial favourite weapon of choice. The cars are drop-dead gorgeous and yet they struggle to persuade die-hard Porsche buyers to consider AM as a viable alternative. The GT3 (Aston Martin) is all sold-out – yep 100 cars gone in the blink of an eye without a single car being built so there are some real fans out there. The Vulcan, to be honest, does not look like an Aston Martin. It looks like it came from the planet Vulcan and driven by Mr Spock (RIP). Designed for those who have enough money to have a spare car for track days (at Paul Ricard not Donington) the detail of the car is truly impressive. The rear light assemblies are a work of art and deserve a place in the Louvre. Bravo Aston Martin for surprising all of us!

Aston Martin Vulcan

Yes the Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 is a concept but the car is real and very likely to be gunning for 911 customers in the very near future. The car on display was rotating gracefully while the crowds gawped and wiped the dribble from their mouths. The EXP is a truly lovely design and there is a little bit of Aston Martin in the profile. The interior is lovely too and you know they will sell zillions of them if they actually start making the car which we think they (VW) will. It is a no-brainer so all they have to do is come up with a sensible name for the car.

Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6

If we all accept that the internal combustion engine will one day no longer exist but at the same time pray that we will not be driven around by a car made by Google there is a ray of hope in the form of fuel cell technology from nanoFlowcell AG. The Quantino F is a concept right now and maybe a little too avant-garde for mass market tastes but it bodes well for the future of green motoring. With a range of 1000 kms and a top speed of 200 kph we can all put away the razor blades – cars can survive without petrol.

Quantino F

Other highlights for us were the Alfa Romeo 4c Spider (prettier than the Coupe), Ferrari 488 (even more desirable than a 458), McLaren 675LT (they seem to going from strength to strength), Lamborghini Aventador SV (how can you make an Aventador even more terrifying?), Sergio by Pininfarina (not a game-changer but such a perfect design and future classic), Audi R8 (looks the same but then again doesn’t – if that makes any sense), Lotus (shouldn’t they be dead by now? The Evora and Exige still look damn good), Porsche 911 GT3 RS in orange (they couldn’t have picked a better colour), Porsche Cayman GT4 in yellow (they couldn’t have picked a better colour) and Renault Sport RS 01 (the bastard child of the Caterham/Renault love affair? At the right price this car will sell well).

There are even more exhibits that are probably worth a mention and we did manage to take a few shots of nice cars during our visit to the show so please take a look at our slideshow when you have time.

For now then we have stocked up on Toblerone, Swiss cheese and cuckoo clocks albeit with less Swiss Francs left than last year but roll on 2016 – not sure if it will be as interesting as this year though!

The Shanghai Auto Show first appeared on the merry-go-round of motor car exhibitions way back in 1985 but since it is held every two years the current one is only the 15th so far.

However, if by chance you managed to visit the inaugural event in 1985 you might have noticed a few changes between now and then.

Not least of which there seem to be more home-grown car manufacturers in China these days than there are stars in the sky and if you live anywhere outside of China the chances are you have never heard of any of them.

Acura, Besturn, Brilliance, BYD, Changan, Dongfen, Everus – there is at least one for every letter of the alphabet right down to ZAP and Zoyte.

Make no mistake, China is very serious about its place in the world of car manufacturing and it has a home market that easily dwarfs the rest of the world put together. That is why you have never come across the likes of Youngman, Red Flag, Lifen, Luxgen et al in your local car dealership. They just never needed to sell you one of their cars – until now that is.

Actually they still don’t need to sell you one but now they want to.

We all know that MG is owned by SAIC because it is a typically British brand steeped in the country’s automotive history and there was many a spilt cup of tea when the brand was finally sold off to an unknown Chinese consortium. The media ran stories hinting that the sale of MG was the beginning of the end for the British car industry. We now know of course that their doom-mongering was unfounded on so many levels.

The curious thing is that today MG is likely to represent the thin edge of a very fat wedge of other Chinese car-makers that have plans to bite off a big chunk of market share in Europe.

OK one look at the designs of a lot of the domestic fodder looks a tad dated through European eyes but the cars are built for Chinese tastes and they sell by the bucket loads there. Over-sized headlamps seem to be ‘a la mode’ right now.

However, look at some of the concepts on display and there is a glimpse of what is likely to come. Acura, Beijing Auto, Chery and good old MG are leaning towards a lot of the design trends seen in European concepts seen recently at Geneva. It wont be long before many an original design creation will be coming from China.

Take a look at the Icona Vulcano. Probably the most exciting-looking car at the show and Ferrari must have wished the Vulcano wasn’t there because it was drawing too much attention away from the LaFerrari. They must also be hoping that the Vulcano never goes into production either.

The high-profile mass-producers of Europe must also be nervous. Most of them have seen big falls in sales recently whilst accruing big losses and that can’t last for much longer. The arrival of competing models from China will only compound the problem for all of them and the Chinese have very deep pockets too.

There may still be a way to go for the cars from China to compete head-on with the designs from Europe and elsewhere but the gap is closing fast. The Beijing Show next year should be an interesting one.

Highlights of the Shanghai Show for us this year?

The Icona Vulcano – definitely the star of the show

BMW M6 Gran Coupe – if only all BMW’s looked this good

Buick Riviera – GM will never make this elegant car but maybe there will be design cues used in its new models in future

Chery Leaf Concept – looks like a futuristic Renault Twizy

Geely KC Concept – shows that the Chinese are catching up fast to the Koreans

Hyundai Rohens Concept – shows that the Koreans are starting to overtake everybody else

KIA Cub Concept – we’ve said it before but KIA really should make this car

Peugeot Onyx – if Peugeot ends up going down the pan there are a few of its designers that will find another job after producing this stunner

MG CS SUV – it would be nice if MG could come into the market with something a little more exciting – maybe this is the car to create a stir for the company

All of the Toyota Concepts – can’t find a dud amongst them and they have gone the extra mile with their adventurous designs this year

ZAP! Aptera – looks like a flying car but can’t – fly that is. Will attract more attention than a LaFerrari – got a better name too!

Red Flag L9 – so retro it looks cool. Hard to believe the top bods in the Chinese government still waft around in 50’s Americana lookalikes.

In the meantime enjoy our gallery of images from the show in Shanghai this year…….

There have been 112 shows featuring cars in New York before the one that is taking place this year. That is a lot of car shows. In fact, the NY show has been around longer than most famous car manufacturers selling their wares today. It is the biggest in the USA and the best well-attended.

So it is very important, at least for Americans, while Europe still considers Geneva and Frankfurt to be the two main catwalks for launching new models.

Does that really matter? Probably not in today’s hyper-connected world of communication because now you don’t have to leave your armchair to stay well-informed of the latest product launches. However, the NY show is important for any car maker that wants to score well in the US of A. Just ask Jaguar Land Rover. They even wheeled in Daniel Craig aka James Bond to drive the new Sport through the streets of the Big Apple.

JLR chose New York to launch the Sport version of the latest Range Rover even though they could have done the job a couple of weeks ago in Switzerland. Wise move? Well consider that from an economics point of view Europe is currently pedalling backwards while the US has found first gear and has its foot firmly on the gas.

In other words, there are more people in the States who can afford to buy and drive a Range Rover Sport than there are in Europe. It’s a no-brainer.

And it’s not just JLR who recognised this obvious fact. The (South) Koreans are rapidly making their mark on the automotive world and they were busy showing design concepts that hint at what is to come from the land of Samsung and LG. Badge snobs might sneer at anything that KIA and Hyundai produce but times are a-changing so be prepared to be impressed. It is only a matter of time.

So what else was there to see?

The home-grown newbies featured the Cadillac CTS looking lean and wearing a very sharp-suit. Will it come to Europe? It should do, us Europeans need a bit more choice over our diet of Audis, Mercs and BMW’s.

A make-over for the Chrysler 300C is much-welcomed and a bit less 1990’s old-school thinking will also help it win friends in the UK at least.

The US-led assault also included the Camaro Z28, Challenger SRT8 392, Charger SRT8 392, the new Jeep Cherokee, Dodge Durango, the mental SRT Viper TA and the even more mental Shelby 1000. Enough horsepower from that lot to make the world spin in the opposite direction.

Back to the Brits and Jaguar heralded their new XJR on steroids and the limited edition (US-only) XKR-S GT, Bentley paraded their new Flying Spur and the Wraith from Rolls Royce was flaunting itself to Yanks with deep pockets. They all felt right at home, like British rock bands from the 60’s looking to make it big in America.

The Koreans, as usual, were looking to impress with their new-found confidence in car design. OK, some concepts are a little too quirky for our sensitive Western tastes but they showed an inventiveness and bravery that seems to be missing from mainstream manufacturers in Europe at present.

Amongst the usual copious amounts of metal from Japan was the Infiniti Q50S, Scion tC, stunning Subaru WRX concept (to hopefully replace the current ugly-duckling model), Subaru SV Crosstrek Hybrid, Mitsubishi Mirage and Outlander plus the odd-ball NV200 New York Taxi by Nissan.

Finally the Europeans stepped in with the Volvo S60 R Design (they can do no wrong in the US),  the impressive-looking CLA45 AMG from Mercedes and the latest incarnation of the VW Golf which snatched the ‘World Car of The Year’ trophy from under everybody’s noses.

Check out the images from the show as follows:-

Today Land Rover launches the all-new Range Rover Sport at the New York Auto Show and the company’s official press release announces that this is ‘The fastest, most agile, most responsive Land Rover ever’ – presumably until the next model is released!

Anyway there is no denying that the first ‘Sport’ version of the venerable Range Rover has been a great sales success for the company having sold over 380,000 units since it was launched back in 2005. The car has become the de facto set of wheels for any aspiring celebrity, Premiership footballer and for a time it seemed that very builder/property developer in England was driving one!

The new model is less of a chopped-roof version of its big brother and more of an individual car in the model line-up now. There are obvious hints at the Evoque and in some respects the new car seems more closely related to that model – in fact you could properly describe the new Sport as a butch version of the Evoque.

Initially the Sport will be offered with two engine options: the glorious 5.0 Supercharged 510ps V8 and a 3.0 SDV6 292ps diesel lump. In early 2014 there will be a 3.0 258ps SDV6 (presumably for an-entry level version) and a 4.4 339ps SDV8 added to the choice of powerplants. There is talk of a hybrid making an appearance in 2014 too.

The fastest model will do the sprint to 60 mph in around 5 seconds and according to the company fuel consumption is improved across the range by up to 24%. CO2 emissions are kept low too.

Oh yes, and because of the revised suspension the car can now travel off-road at speeds up 50 mph so you can now hone your rally driving skills for the next Dakar run.

Mum’s looking for a new school-run bus can add a cheer too because the new Sport comes with 5+2 seating. In other words there is room for two little one’s in the boot.

The new Sport is due to arrive in UK showrooms in the last quarter of this year but official pricing is yet to be confirmed. Of course it will be more expensive than the out-going model but cheaper than the bigger Rangie. We expect list price to start at around £60k. We also expect long waiting lists for the Sport since the new model is likely to ride on the back of the success of its big brother.

If you are interested in placing an order for the new Range Rover Sport give The Car Spy a call on 01732 760699 or email sales@thecarspy.net