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Top Gear's Top 9: oddest exhausts edition

Official: the nine most artistic ways to blow exhaust gas out the back of your car

  1. Renault Clio 197 Cup: the blown diffuser part I

    Let’s start humble. With exhausts you can’t even see. The RS Clio 197 came out back in 2006, just as Renault won the second of two F1 world championships with Fernando Alonso. Ironically, the Clio hot hatch got a blown diffuser before they became big news in motorsport. The tailpipes for the 2.0-litre 197bhp engine exited in the top of the diffuser, forcing the hot gasses out of the vanes and generating, well, no meaningful downforce whatsoever. But still, points for trying.

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  2. Porsche 918 Spyder: the top-exit chimney

    The hybrid 918’s vertical exhausts weren’t caused by Porsche showboating or being deliberately fancy. Obviously, Porsche was being scientific. Practical. German. And to keep the hot exhaust gubbins as far away as possible from the car’s temperature-sensitive batteries, the engineers decided to route the pipes upwards. This caused all manner of new problems, like rainwater ingress, extra fireproofing and crap rear visibility. But it did mean the 918 Spyder looks like a steam train when it starts up on a frosty morning. That was the intention. Definitely. 

    Wonder where McLaren got the idea to route the 600LT's exhausts vertically from?

  3. Lexus IS F: the staggered stack

    Before Lexus blew us all away with the LFA, its first true ‘fast car’ was the 5.0-litre V8-powered IS-F. It breathed out through exhaust pipes with fake tips which, to stand apart from BMW, AMG and Audi, were diagonally stacked. Weird. Though not as bizarre as when it was shamelessly copied (badly) by Ferrari when Modena designed the California drop-top.

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  4. Koenigsegg Regera: the blown diffuser part II

    Whatever Renault can do, Koenigsegg can do better. That's the company motto.

    See those slim oval pipes in the Regera’s underbelly? They’re also exhausts. Much subtler than the main central tailpipe, they work as diffuser vanes too. What else would you expect from the extra-clever, extra-shiny head of Christian von Koenigsegg?

  5. Lamborghini Murcielago LP640: the megatunnel

    No messing. The Murcielago started life with two tailpipes, but when it was facelifted to LP640 spec, Lambo just fitted the Channel Tunnel to the back of the car and went for lunch. Not a bad noise, either.

  6. TVR Sagaris: the lateral thinker

    Man alive, the Sagaris really was bonkers wasn’t it? The full-on window-licker. The slashed bodywork, the transparent wing, the lack of any driver aids or safety features at all… And then there were the exhausts. Pointing sideways out of the car, for no reason other than because TVR thought it was funny. Because of this very car, every single roadside hedgerow in Blackpool burned down one summer*

    *we may have made this up.

  7. AC Cobra: the side exit classic

    A real mad exhaust pioneer here. Deafen the occupants, burn their legs as they get in and out, and shoot unburnt fuel (or fire) out of the side of the car in traffic, if you’re not careful with your throttle blip. Textbook.

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  8. McLaren-Mercedes SLR: the nerdy side-exit

    You can rely on McLaren to take a piece of wanton theatre (the side-exit exhaust) and make it brilliantly geeky. Take the McMerc SLR’s side-exit pipes. They poke out of the car just ahead of the doors, because McLaren didn’t want to route the pipes all the way to the back of the SLR, because that would add lots of weight, and ruin the rear end’s clean aero profile. This was the enormously expensive and tricky-to-engineer solution.

  9. Pagani Zonda: the blue-tinted quad halo

    All Paganis have wonderfully ornate quad-pipe-in-a-circle pipes, but the later versions – the Cinque, the Barchetta, the 760 RS – made it even sexier with blue-tinted titanium outlets. And perhaps the best noise made by any of these cars. But the nine best noises ever made by a car is a whole other list, that’s far too controversial for us to referee...

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