supercars

The new TVR Griffith is mad. Which is why you should love it

TVR chose to launch its new Griffith at the Goodwood Revival last weekend

THE NEW Ferrari FXX? Sorry, not really that fussed. The Aston Martin DB11 was lovely, but hardly astonishing. And I was a bit ‘meh’ about the McLaren 570S, to be honest.

I’m sure all three are resolutely thrilling on the right bit of racetrack but it’s entirely forgiveable to be a bit blasé. We’re used to seeing shiny new supercars from all three, all of which are a modicum more impressive than the last one. It’s a bit like Liverpool doing rather well in the Premier League – just like they did last year, and the year before that.

But a new TVR is more like Leicester thundering in and unexpectedly snatching all the silverware, against ridiculous odds. The latest Griffith is the car that so many of us wanted to see, but none of us really believed was ever going to happen. Only that last Friday, after more than a decade of waiting, it did.

Barely a week in and there have already been plenty of comments that it doesn’t look bonkers enough to be a TVR – even I think it’s got shades of Jaguar F-type, but that’s hardly a bad thing. It’s also been fitted with ABS and a sophisticated power steering system but otherwise it’s business as usual for a carmaker that’s crafted its reputation on being ballsy where everyone else plays safe.

It has a V8 not a million miles from what you’ll find in a Ford Mustang but it’s been breathed on by Cosworth so it’s developing something in the region of 500bhp, with a Porsche-troubling power-to-weight ratio of around 400bhp per tonne. Gordon Murray – of McLaren F1 and Mercedes SLR fame – has helped out with the underpinnings, so it shouldn’t drive like an old-school TVR. It’ll be much better than that!

Even the Griffith’s launch makes it loveable. TVR could’ve done the sensible thing and flown out to Frankfurt, where everyone else is unveiling their new metal at the moment, but it decided instead to do it at the Goodwood Revival, a classic car event known for being consciously stuck in the 1960s. It’s emphatically not the place to launch a brand new car – but TVR did it anyway.

In fact the only thing that’s missing from this curiously British resurrection is the old Blackpool factory being brought back into action and giving Lancashire its sports car crown back, but that would be far too predictable for the new boys at TVR.

So they’ve decided to build it in a small town in Wales instead. There you have it – Ebbw Vale is Britain’s answer to Maranello…

Advertisements

The Skoda Yeti is a hard act to follow

Skoda put substance ahead of style with its Yeti

IN A WORLD of Jukes, Capturs and Mokkas the Karoq is a good thing; a proper, evocative car name of the old school.

Not only is it drawn from the language of a remote Alaskan tribe but you can just imagine it being slapped across a supercar’s rump. A Maserati Karoq has a certain ring to it.

But this name isn’t going on some Italian slingshot; it’s going on Skoda’s new baby off-roader, which looks great and should sell like Ed Sheeran tickets when it goes on sale here later this year. I’ve no doubt it’ll be an accomplished all-rounder (especially if its Kodiaq big brother is anything to go by) but it means Skoda’s existing baby off-roader, the Yeti, will be quietly put down.

Which is a real shame because I still reckon it’s one of the most talented tiny off-roaders out there. In fact, it’s one of the best motoring all-rounders, full stop.

I remember road-testing it for The Champion in 2010, not long after it first arrived in the UK, and thinking how willfully different it was from the rest of the Qashqai-alikes out there. It eschewed trendy styling and clever in-car infotainment for slab-sided proportions and minimal overhangs for better ground clearance – just like you get on a Land Rover Discovery. It even had the same sort of chunky buttons and indestructible interior plastics as most off-roaders, so that even the clumsiest of schoolchildren or the hungriest of Labradors wouldn’t be able to ruin it.

But best of all it had that rare thing missing from so many of today’s off-roader-esque family cars; the prowess to match the proposition. One of the cars we occasionally use at Classic Car Weekly for photoshoots is a 13-reg Yeti, and no matter what we throw in its direction it always emerges totally unflummoxed. On one jaunt back from the Goodwood Festival of Speed we actually took it green laning to avoid the traffic jams and it dealt with the muddy ruts and rocks superbly – and as a result, it was faster than every Ferrari, Porsche and M-badged BMW within a ten-mile radius.

For a five-door hatchback that kicks in at a shade under 18 grand it is supremely talented, and definitely something that even in its twilight years I’d thoroughly recommend. I can only hope the new arrival picks up the Yeti’s baton of being something you can count upon in a muddy field, rather than following the me-too route of looks over all else.

It does at least have a cool name, though, which is a good start.

Forget Pokemon Go – why can’t we collect supercars instead?

The technology behind Pokemon Go could be used to encourage a new generation of supercar spotters

THERE are – I’m reliably informed – six Pokéstops within easy reach of Southport’s seafront.

Apparently Pikachus and Jigglypuffs are everywhere and more popular than a video of Taylor Swift counting down the internet’s top ten amusing cat videos. You thought the motoring column in The Champion would be a good place to get away from Pokémon Go, didn’t you? Sadly not, because it has not one but two motoring-related applications.

The first is that the police in Sefton and West Lancashire really ought to be strongly encouraging more people to go out and play Pokémon Go, because it’s more effective at curbing your speed than any yellow flashing box of misery ever will be. My other half is obsessed with the app and uses every outing to up her Pokémon stash, but in order to fool the game into thinking you’re merely Usain Bolt on an evening jog rather than a pair of cheats in a car you realistically can’t do any more than 35mph. All of which means everyone else is either stuck behind at 30-ish or too busy playing the game themselves (from the passenger seat, obviously) to care.

Really all of the region’s three million 20mph zones ought to be festooned with Pokéstops and the dual carriageways stripped of them altogether, in some brilliant bid to control everyone’s speed without them noticing. 

But the even better news – and I hope there are some budding game developers reading this week – is that the thinking behind Pokémon Go clearly has a petrolhead application. Stick with me on this one, because it could make an entire generation interested in cars again.

It’s a little known fact that the Automatic Numberplate Recognition system beloved of the police and paranoid petrol station operators can be harnessed as a mobile phone app. As a result it’s entirely plausible could make a game where kids collect fast cars rather than weirdly shaped Nineties dinosaurs – and then race ‘em against their mates later on.

It’d encourage kids to get into great cars early – use the game to go hunting at your nearest supermarket and might end up with nothing more than a 12-reg Focus, but make the effort of going to a car show and your phone might zap a Jaguar XJ220 and a Ferrari F40 in the same day. Think of it as Gran Turismo Go and you’ve got the idea; only with Porsches rather than Pikachus as the prize catches.

Obviously, I’ll expect millions of pounds in royalties when the game’s inevitably launched later this year. Just remember, you read it here first…