Although manufacturing is currently on hiatus, we thought that today might be an appropriate opportunity to talk about some of the latest and greatest British-built cars we’d love to be driving in the near future.
Here is one car which definitely lives up to its name; the McLaren Speedtail is 5.1-metres long, that’s nearly a metre longer than the McLaren F1 from which it takes inspiration, particularly its three-seater layout with central driving position. The Speedtail is in fact just as single-minded, and its engineering as obsessive, as its famous forebear but the emphasis has shifted from track performance to grand touring luxury. So there are larger than usual carbon-fibre panels to reduce the number of panel gaps, huge panes of glass in the doors which form part of the roof, cameras replacing side mirrors and carbon-fibre wheel covers to smooth airflow (which with a total of 1,050PS helps with a 250mph top speed). The result is perhaps one of the purest and most elegant hypercars ever.
You might have to be quick if you have your sights set on the flagship Bentley; it was due to bow out this spring but with the factory and showrooms shuttered, you may still be in with a chance. Don’t bank on a dealer discount however as this represents the swansong for Bentley’s venerable 6.75-litre V8, which has been in continuous production nearly as long as the Small Block Chevy. Not that the engine is lacking compared to more modern units with 537PS and 1,100NM; each wears a plaque signed by Bentley chairman and CEO Adrian Hallmark. The Bentley Flying Spur now takes on the role of flagship and while it is objectively better in every way, including its twin-turbo W12, the last Mulsanne would still be the one we’d go for.
We recently reviewed the Morgan Plus Six and found it to be an occasionally brutal package, not that we didn’t love it, but we are perhaps even more excited by the upcoming Plus Four which Morgan unveiled by driving it home from the cancelled Geneva Motor Show. The Plus Four shares its big brother’s incredibly lightweight underpinnings but switches motive power from the sonorous straight-six to a BMW TwinPower 2.0-litre four-cylinder with 258PS and 400Nm (295lb ft) of torque. Plus, and this is a big plus as far as we’re concerned, it can be had with a manual gearbox.
Speaking of manual transmissions, the updated Jaguar F-Type we drove sadly no longer offers a three-pedal option which is perhaps unsurprising, although the supercharged V6 with a six-speed manual was always our pick of the first generation. Thankfully the F-Type does remain delightfully old school in one respect by offering a vocal V8 driving just the rear wheels, although it does mean settling for a mere 450PS rather than the 575PS offered in the all-wheel-drive F-Type R. The restyle is perhaps a bit less characterful around the front end but the rear is as attractive as ever and it is still capable of leaving many other drivers with that view receding into the distance.
We are looking forward to seeing and reviewing the all-new Rolls-Royce Ghost later this year; with a new platform and more powerful V12, it should significantly outperform its predecessor, but until then we suppose we could cope with wafting around in the limited edition Dawn Silver Bullet. Rolls-Royce has a long history with convertibles but this is something of a departure; ditching the rear seats for an ‘aero cowling’ and the wood trim for carbon-fibre was unlikely to have been done with track day times in mind but the 6.6-litre 563bhp V12 is likely to have the grunt to ruffle your hair nevertheless. And of course it is crafted just down the road from the GRR offices.
The latest drop-top from Gaydon however is not meant solely for dreamy drives along the Côte d'Azur; there is no ‘cruise’ option among its drive modes of Sport, Sport+ and Track with which to enjoy the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. Unfortunately the seven-speed manual gearbox is only available with the tintop. The speed of roof operation has also become a vital statistic for convertibles recently so you’ll be interested to hear that the Aston Martin Vantage Roadster can get topless in 6.8 seconds, a little less than twice its 3.7 second 0-62mph time, just in case it rains on the Riviera.
Has there been a more eagerly anticipated and also argued over launch in recent times? Not even the new Toyota Supra had as many people rage-quitting owners’ club forums. Well, if you want an old car, go and buy one as the new Defender is thankfully night and day in terms of dynamics, performance, comfort and safety compared to its venerable forebear. Looks are of course subjective and whether it matches its off-road performance using electronics or large levers moving lumps of metal is immaterial for 99 per cent of buyers. We can’t wait to put one through its paces around the Goodwood Estate.
And now, knocking the Speedtail’s power output sideways is the Lotus Evija which its maker claims is good for 2,000PS. That is provided to four wheel-mounted electric motors by a lightweight, energy dense battery pack designed by Williams Advanced Engineering. Claimed to be the most advanced in the world and capable of charging in nine minutes, it means the Evija weighs a comparatively lightweight – for an electric hypercar – 1,680kg and has a 250-mile range. The design, aerodynamics and one-piece carbon-fibre monocoque were all inspired by Le Mans racers. Customers can configure theirs now.