Steering Column

Smoking Citroën

There’s a new rally car lookalike about to go on the market in the UK based on Citroën’s DS3 hatchback. It’s not just a cosmetic makeover either. There’s a major power boost at the heart of it and the rest of the gear has been upgraded to cope. The DS3 that it’s based on has a turbo-charged, 1.6-litre petrol engine that normally puts out 153bhp, but that has been upgraded to 197bhp in this limited edition model. This has been achieved by re-mapping the entire control unit, tuning the turbocharger and fine engineering the powertrain components.

To support that almost 30 per cent increase in go, the steering has been tightened up, new tyres have been fitted, the suspension has been stiffened up, the car has been lowered by half an inch and the track has been widened by about an inch. The brakes have been upgraded too.

This car also looks very like a real WRC rally car. The first model to go public is being shown at the Geneva motorshow with sporting graphics in eye-catching grey and orange.

Outside there’s a carbon finish to the lower body trim, wing extensions and front bumper. The alloys have a massive 18-inch diameter. Inside there’s more carbon on the dashboard, central console armrests and door mouldings. That orange highlighting appears on the dash too, as well as the gear stick and the seats.

This car is a genuinely good-looking beast, a real head-turner. Production will be limited to 1,000 and they’ll become available to buy in the second half of the year.

Hot Polo

Having spoken last week about the new Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion, a saintly beast that sips a teaspoon of fuel once every million miles or so, there’s another new Polo being unveiled at Geneva that’s a bit of a beast by comparison.

The new Polo GTI has a 1.4-litre petrol engine that uses a combination of a supercharger and a turbocharger to turn out 178bhp and 184lb.ft. of torque. The car only weighs just under 1.2 tonnes so that means it can sprint from 0-62mph in under seven seconds and scorch on up to a top speed of 142mph.

Hot though this hatch certainly is, it can still give you an average fuel consumption of 47mpg.

It’s got a rake of traction control systems, it’s got a seven-speed DSG gearbox that you can shift up and down through using steering-wheel paddles and the suspension has been lowered by half an inch.

It also has the looks to back up the extra snort with a deep airdam at the front, topped by a honeycomb pattern grill insert with red stripes and the coveted GTI badge. Just like its more famous sister, the Golf GTI, it also has 17-inch alloy wheels through which you can see the bright red brake callipers.

Indoors there are sporty dials, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, aluminium pedals and sport seats.

The Polo GTI arrives in the UK in the summer. We’re told the prices and full kit lists will be made available nearer the time.


Posh Bentley, that manufacturer and purveyor of finely crafted and obscenely expensive automobiles, has whipped the wraps off the fastest open-topped car it has ever made.

It’s called the Continental Supersports Convertible, named after the 1925 racing car that was the first production car ever to reach 100mph. Eighty-five years on, this one goes twice as fast.

There’s no point in dressing up the facts in clever journalistic phrases to make your jaw drop. Just listing them will be enough.

The engine is a 12-cylinder, twin-turbocharged, six-litre lump that pumps a tarmac-ripping 621bhp and 590lb.ft. of torque through all four wheels. The magic 62mph comes up just 4.2 seconds after take-off and the top speed is an eye-watering 202mph.

I could go on for hours about this elegant and powerful beast, but the company simply puts it all into three words: “fusion of extremes”. It describes it as the ultimate in extreme performance, everyday practicality and unrivalled hand-crafted luxury.

The everyday practicality refers to having four proper seats and an easy to open roof, rather than its ability to charge snowdrifts on its way in from Walls with three sheep in the back.

As for the price, if you have to ask you can’t afford it. Fuel consumption? Well it’s all academic really, but if you must know it’s an official average of 17mpg.

Mike Grundon


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