Revealed: the least troublesome new cars you can buy today
Vicki’s battle of the hypercars
I love a good battle. Especially when it involves famous names, gazillions of pounds and an awful lot of pride. The 2012 British Grand Prix has just delivered precisely that as 24 bespoke cars with priceless 2.4-litre V8 engines screamed around Silverstone for glory in a historic sporting year.
It's a similar story on the road as the battle of the supercars is on the brink of war in a way not witnessed since the early 1990s. We had a dodgy economy back then, too. It seems when the world is wrapped in a blanket of financial doom and gloom, the creative lights shine brightly from the domains of exquisite supercars.
Not since the days of the million-dollar McLaren F1, 201mph Ferrari F40 and animalistic Porsche 959 have we seen a show-down as glamorous, gluttonous and gutsy as what's round the corner. Start salivating, fellow fans, as no fewer than five superbrands get ready to release a superstar, with a showroom worth of £4 million and combined power close to 4,000bhp.
If it's car porn you want then Pagani's Huayra is top-shelf stuff, black-wrapped. Not only are there enough curves, crevices, pipes and erecting doors to keep you wide-eyed for at least a day, there's 'active' bodywork like an aeroplane's, with flaps that move up and down at both ends to boost downforce and stopping power.
Then there's the cabin, which is more intricate than a Frank Muller time piece, rammed with delicious delicacies for a visual feast to last a week. It's like a spaceship in there with glistening carbonfibre from floor to roof, dazzling aluminium and lashings of leather - or whatever material your money and taste can buy.
Angelina Jolie in her birthday suit
The intricacy of metalwork on the gear lever alone is officially classified as more stimulating than Angelina Jolie in her birthday suit. It's mad, but good mad.
Then there's a 6.0-litre V12 Mercedes engine, with twin turbos in case you thought a V12 too tame, 720bhp and even more torque. Now, that might still seem 'so-so' to some but, because Horacio Pagani is the king of carbon fibre manufacturing, the whole car weighs less than the lap top I'm typing on. Well, almost, so at 1350kg the Huayra hits 62mph in 3.3 seconds and a top speed of 224mph.
Such lightweight stuff makes for a heavyweight price, as does its bought-in AMG power, and the big number here is £800,000 - a lot when you consider the original Zonda was yours for a few hundred thousand.
However, if you're new to the game then you'll want the biggest name and there's only really one superbrand when it comes to supercars - Ferrari. The world-famous Prancing Horse offers up the Enzo replacement and it's been eight years since the demise of that great car. Fans need a new hero to worship as much as the company wants some fresh coat tails upon which to sell less expensive models - albeit still bloody expensive.
Destined to tackle a different sort of hedge
Currently without a proper name, the Enzo-offspring will have a 6.3-litre V12 pumping 800bhp with a further 100bhp on tap from an electric motor. That's 900bhp in a road car - Filipe Massa has enough trouble with 800bhp on a racing circuit, so Brian the Hedge Fund Manager is destined to tackle a different sort of hedge come the country roads around Cobham.
But if a Ferrari is too flash and you'd prefer 'the thinking man's' supercar then there's only one place to look - McLaren. Short on product range with only two to its name, but one of them was the 1990s ubercar, the F1, so its credentials are top notch.
The £800,000 McLaren 'P12' (see our rendering above) could well be the new poster car and the massive amount of expectation is mostly being carried by the car's technology - a Formula One-style kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) to boost power from its 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 engine with 750bhp (the F1 had 627bhp).
Might make a mockery of Porsche's claims
As well as adding a further 100bhp, this will hopefully come with a button on the steering wheel to access that extra grunt KERS harvests, making it an overtaker's dream. And some say it could even have 1,000bhp.
Whilst Ferrari and McLaren are using electricity to boost their power, Porsche is taking it to enhance CO2 numbers. If you don't like pulling in at the pumps, the 918 Spyder boasts a whopping 94mpg and 70g/km of CO2, whilst still managing to hoof along close to 200mph - even the darling of the Hollywood set, the Toyota Prius, nudges just 72mpg and 90g/km. As ever though, real-world driving might make a mockery of Porsche's claims.
At the heart of this hybrid hypercar is an old-school 4.6-litre V8 engine giving around 560bhp, but a couple of electric motors generate more gee-gees to give the car 770bhp in total. Hit the throttle from a standstill and brace yourself for motorbike acceleration - less than three seconds to 62mph will make it one of the fastest four-wheelers on the road.
A Magimix whirred up behind their heads
Wonga-wise the Porsche will cost £672,000 but if you think that's too cheap, Jaguar's plug-in hybrid supercar will relieve you upwards of £850,000.
It's been 20 years since Jag created a dream machine with the iconic-shaped XJ220 and back then Jag promised a whopping great V12 for it - but ended up with a V6 from the Metro rally car. Needless to say its well-heeled owners weren't impressed each time they turned the key and a Magimix whirred up behind their heads.
Now though, small engines have big advantages - even Formula One will use 1.6-litre turbos soon. Jag's new C-X75 may have the runt of a 1.6-litre engine but twin turbos and plenty of Cosworth magic will give it 500bhp while being as green as a city-car with 98g/km. Performance is touted as being similar to a Veyron and it could just well out-perform the Porsche because that small engine means it's a few hundred kilos lighter.
As with the XJ220, Jag is turning to a Formula One team to help create a masterpiece and Williams F1 is bringing the know-how of aerodynamics, carbon work and hybrid technologies.
So, five halo machines due soon and if you add them to the already simmering pot containing Lamborghini's Aventador and Bugatti's latest Veyron, the near-1,200bhp Grand Sport Vitesse, it makes you thank goodness for the recession. Just a shame no one will have the money to buy them.
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