Rowan Horncastle, Online Content Producer, Top Gear
My colleagues have all chosen what I’d consider my ‘Premiership’ top three: the Jaguar C-X17, BMW i3 and i8. So I’ve decided to go for three from the lower leagues - the Championship cars - ones that haven’t received much coverage but are worthy of it. Here’s who’s in the playoff…
Even though the second gen ForTwo first hit the motor show stands in 2007, that didn’t stop Mercedes belligerently pushing the funky city car with the help of scantily clad beach volleyball players and unlimited frozen yoghurt. But the coolest Smart was actually a gen one dragster version tucked in the corner of Hall 4. Thanks to a Nebuchadnezzar of NOS in the passenger seat, it has 450bhp, can do a sub ten-second quarter mile time and is owned by a German woman called Yvonne Kirschner. She’s brave… and a little bit crazy.
CLA 45 AMG Race Concept (above)
How do you make an oddly proportioned mini Mercedes saloon look a bit better? Fit massive wings, canards and any other carbon fibre appendages you can to it. Then lower it with race suspension, fit some big brakes and wrap the wheels in sticky rubber. That’s how, and exactly what happened to the CLA 45 AMG to make the Race Concept. It’s potentially for keen gentleman racers who want to compete in 2.0-litre classes and is available with either four, or two-wheel drive. I’ll take mine with power to all four, please.
In an exhibition hall where bright lights, overly loud music and women vacuum-packed in lycra combine to draw your eyes to a car, subtlety is something that should be applauded. That’s why the Golf R needs a mention. With 296bhp and a 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds, it’s silly, silly quick. But it sat silently on the VW stand - quad exhausts and all - giving the impression it was saying, ‘I don’t need to shout about anything, I’ll let my specs do the talking’. Also, for the nerds out there (and for an unknown reason to some VW bods) the Lapis Blue car we saw was on Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres - not the standard Bridgestones. For the uninitiated, they’re a serious track/road tyre used on high-end cars and will probably make the car accelerate even faster. I want to drive it NOW!