Dream cars compared and reviewed

Bentley Bentayga

Bentley Bentayga

Driving Bentley’s Bentayga, with its 6.0-litre twin-turbo direct-injection W12 engine, eight-speed automatic and almost 2.5-ton kerb mass, you can understand the bemusement of the early purists with such brute force. Large, thundering Bentleys so decimated their opposition at Le Mans in the 1930s, that Ettore Bugatti, a craftsman of delicate automotive artwork, called them “the fastest lorries in the world”.

Of course, in this age of electronically managed chassis engineering, Bentley’s first “go anywhere vehicle” (SUV to us) not only offers the stunning performance of its equivalent sedan, it’s delivered with a truly impressive combination of ride compliance and handling poise, effectively defying its mass. Most astonishing is the cabin sound deadening and the almost total lack of body roll in high-speed corners, with no loss of suppleness over broken or patched surfaces.

Bentayga exudes Bentley’s reputation for vault-like solidity and elegantly hand-crafted presentation. Although now owned by the Audi/Volkswagen group (Audi has provided the powertrain and all-wheel driveline components, plus influenced much of the dash hardware), the look and feel remains thoroughly British. Superbly engineered controls and mechanisms are a hallmark.

Whether it’s a power window that glides silently, deployable sill steps, quilted seat bolsters or the ability to do 0-100 km/h in 4.1 seconds, the Bentayga constantly reminds you you’re travelling first-class. And there’s a catalogue of accessories, epitomised by three fitted picnic hampers, hand-trimmed and with the provision to embroider a name, logo or family monogram.

With on-road pricing of our well-optioned test car nudging $600,000, it brings another classic quote to mind: “If you need to ask the price, you can’t afford it.” 

Details: 5950cc W12 twin-turbo petrol engine, 8spd automatic, all-wheel-drive. 447kW@5000-6000rpm, 900Nm@1350rpm. 0-100km/h in 4.1 secs. 275/50 R20 tyres. 13.1L/100km (approx). Approx $420,000 + orc.

Ernest Litera

Lamborghini Huracan LP 610-4 Spyder

Lamborghini Huracan LP 610-4 Spyder

A mixture of emotions sweeps over me when the new Lamborghini Huracan Spyder rolls into sight. The wedge-shaped body is unmistakably like the car from a Lamborghini poster on my boyhood bedroom wall, a Diablo, and while this new car isn’t as crazy as that scissor-door design, the overpowering colour still fits my expectation of how an Italian supercar should present itself.

The average person can only dream of owning a car like this. Yet Lamborghini sold 84 cars here last year, so for a quite a few Australians the dream came true.

Stepping over the wide sill and ‘falling’ into the supportive bucket seats gracefully is a challenge, but once seated the experience improves immediately. I’m presented with a tight, cockpit-style cabin, with outstanding finish and supple materials. Flipping up the red missile-style switch cover and pushing the start button brings a welcoming bark from the rear of the car.

The Huracan is driver-focused; the radio and sat-nav are displayed through a screen in the instrument cluster, not shared with the passenger. Some controls take a bit of getting used to, such as the motorcycle-style indicator switch, yet much of the interior is familiar due to Lamborghini being part of the Audi family. The low seating position, deeply raked windscreen and thick A-pillars give a feeling of being closed in. Minimal headroom, a folding roof and mid-rear mounted engine mean visibility out the back leaves a lot to be desired, but worrying about what’s behind you isn’t really what this car is about. It feels rather large yet it’s surprisingly easy to drive around town.

Performance from this all-wheel-drive V10 with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is outstanding, although using it anywhere near its full potential needs a racetrack. Stretching its potential via multiple modes, from normal Strada (Street) into Sport and then Corsa (Race), makes the already incredible soundtrack even better. And if that’s not enough, you can open the rear window to let more noise into the cabin. 

Details: 5204cc V10 petrol engine, 7spd dual-clutch auto, all-wheel-drive. 449kW@8250rpm, 560Nm@6500rpm. 0-100km/h in 3.4 secs. 245/30 R20 tyres (front), 305/30 R20 tyres (rear). 12.3L/100km. Approx $428,000 + orc.

Blake Harris

Ferarri 488 Spider

Ferrari 488 spider

Manufacturers involved in motor sport will always trot out the line that racing improves the breed of everyday models. Yet for the likes of Ferrari, being unconstrained by track rules has allowed the creativity of its engineers to actually exceed the design parameters imposed on their race cars.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the aerodynamic package found in the new 488 Spider. Those beautiful sweeping body lines instigated by Italian sculptural artisans are overseen by Formula One engineers and tested to final perfection in a wind tunnel. Look closely and you will see smoothly shaped channels through the bodywork, producing ground-hugging downforce, plus exquisite detail in something as inane as a door handle designed to direct air flow, and not an ugly wing in sight.

Using aluminium and magnesium to great effect, the Spider has a notably light and fast-retracting hard top above the three-position rear window, and a light space-frame chassis, which claims the same torsional rigidity as the coupe. A new Side Slip Angle Control system makes it easier for non-professional drivers to enjoy a sporting drive.

Being mid-engined, the stunning 3.9-litre twin-turbo quad-cam V8 is seemingly strapped to your shoulders. Its flat-plane crank and exhaust headers deliver an intoxicating soundtrack, while zero turbo-lag and progressive delivery of torque throughout the rev range guarantee blistering performance response to match its instantaneous steering.

Modern supercars like this have no unwarranted temperament and can be driven anywhere, although the 488 Spider is nevertheless a mechanical work of art. 

Details: 3902cc V8 engine, 7spd dual-clutch auto, rear-wheel-drive. 492kW@8000rpm, 760Nm@3000rpm. 0-100km/h in 3.0 secs. 245/35 ZR20 tyres (front), 305/30 ZR20 tyres (rear). 11.4L/100km. Approx $470,000 + orc.

Ernest Litera

Mercedes-AMG C 63s Coupe

Mercedes-AMG C 63 s COUPE

Described by its maker as “adrenaline in its most attractive form”, there’s no denying the resurgence of Mercedes-Benz styling in recent years, and the
S Coupe’s bodywork in particular exudes heart-racing elegance.

Strap a 375kW, 4.0-litre AMG-tuned V8 under the bonnet, one that delivers a massive 700Nm of torque and driving through a Speedshift sports transmission, and the performance of this athlete lives up to the promise implicit in its looks.

From the first push-button start that brings the twin-turbo V8 to life and the spine-chilling echo of the exhaust, there’s no doubt about its inner workings. Of course the AMG mechanical package turns the elegance of this everyday Mercedes coupe into a serious track-day weapon. The boot lip spoiler, bonnet power-domes and subtle grill badge only hint at what’s going on in this package. It contains a high-performance composite braking system, auxiliary cooling system radiators, three-stage ride control with active damping, seven-speed manual-mode transmission with launch control, speed-sensitive sports steering, three selectable electronic handling and stability programs and a unique AMG-engineered front axle.

Occupants are held snugly in place by deeply contoured seats, there’s a Napa leather-trimmed performance steering wheel and of course an AMG instrument cluster including Racetimer. Despite Mercedes’ claims of 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds and a track speed nearly three times our road limit, driven regularly it’s official fuel consumption figure is 8.7 litres per 100km. CO2 emissions are
202g/km, slightly better than a Holden Commodore SV6.

The elegant design and scintillating performance of this new AMG top model marks every encounter as an engaging experience that stimulates the senses. Its performance is blended with design elegance and sufficient practicality for everyday use.

Details: 3982cc V8 engine, 7spd auto, rear-wheel-drive. 375kW@5500-6250rpm, 700Nm@1750-4500rpm. 0-100km/h in 3.9 secs. 255/35 R19 tyres (front), 285/30 R20 tyres (rear). 8.7L/100km. Approx $162,400 + orc.

Ernest Litera
Published in RoyalAuto Dec 16/Jan 17