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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: December 13, 2011 @ 6:53 am

    Supercars are super fun

    Neil Briscoe

    By Neil Briscoe.

    It’s a good week for fans of really, really expensive cars that go very fast. Bentley and BMW, just to name two, will be hoping that more than a few of those fans will actually have the money to convert that fan-dom into ownership.

    For Bentley, it’s not a new car that’s news, but a new engine. Ever since its launch in 2003, the big-selling Bentley Continental GT Coupe has had but one engine; a 6.0-litre W12, with turbos, pumping out 550bhp (and more, at times). Well now, it is about to be joined by a new Audi-based 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 engine. And for those of you thinking ‘entry level model, probably gets a GL badge’ let me give you some figures. 500bhp. 660Nm of torque. Top speed of around 300kmh with as sub-5.0-sec 0-100kmh time. Entry level this is not.

    It will still sit ‘below’ the W12 model in the range though. Quite why anyone would want to buy the more expensive, thirstier twelve cylinder one when the V8 should prove more than adequate is a bit beyond me though. Am I just too practically minded?

    Bentley seems very keen on its new powerplant though, even going so far as to putting its engine note up on the internet to demonstrate that, downsized or no, it makes a proper Bentley grumble.

    (You can hear it, and sort of see it, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCOgKjG73xs&feature=player_embedded)

    Meanwhile, for those who want to buy a BMW 6 Series (lucky old them) but are caught by that car’s lack of rear doors and tiny rear seats, we have good news. Here is the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, which will rival the likes of the Audi A7 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

    It’s identical to the svelte 6 Series coupe from the front doors forward, but it’s 112mm longer (113mm longer in the wheelbase) and looks to have proper lounging space in the back seats. But just because it’s closer to a 5 Series in terms of being practical, don’t expect it to be cheaper. In fact, it’ll be even more expensive than the 6 Series coupe, pushing it way, way above the entry price points for either the Audi or the Merc.

    Pick of the engines will be the 640d’s 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel, which will whisk all four passengers from 0-100kmh in 5.4secs yet emits just 148g/km.

    But the newly announced supercar that we’re (alright, I’m) most excited about is the new Honda NSX, and yes, Honda has just confirmed that it will be called just that. We are now but weeks away from its official unveiling at the Detroit Motor Show, and the details that are slipping out are tantalising to say the least.

    Honda is, admirably, not chasing headline bhp figures for the NSX, bus is instead seeking to make it as light and efficient as possible, with high performance being the natural by-product of doing just that.

    It will use Honda’s Electric Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive system that pairs a 3.5-litre V6 engine with around 310bhp paired with three electric motors. One 40bhp motor drives the rear axle with the engine, while a pair of 27bhp motors each drive one of the front wheels. A fearsomely complicated computer will shuffle and apportion all of the available grunt to whichever wheel needs it most.

    As with the original NSX, lots of lightweight aluminium will be used in the chassis and Honda is known to be working hard on carbon-fibre-reinforced-plastic solutions for the body.

    Style wise, we’ll obviously find out more when we see the concept car at Detroit (with production pencilled in for the middle of 2013) but we may have already seen a big hint, with an Acura-badged (Acura is Honda’s US-only luxury arm and a rival to Lexus) prototype on the set of The Avengers movie, featuring Robert Downey Jnr.

    Can it possibly be as brilliant and as ground breaking as the original NSX? Probably not, no, but I’ll be making sure I’m first in the queue to find out.

    Image source: comingsoon.net

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