Weissach, Germany – Porsche 918 Spyder Prototype

DSC_0012There’s a lot of pretty little villages in rural farmland Germany and they all essentially follow the same formula. One or two main roads through the centre; a picturesque town square surrounded by a ring of ancient stone buildings, maybe with a few cobblestone streets for good measure, which is all then encircled by a buffer of more modern but distinctly Germanic looking abodes. Weissach would be no different, and indeed when you’re relaxing in the town square it feels no different, except for the fact that a Porsche 918 Spyder prototype burbling through the village is such a common occurrence it barely raises a brow. The reason for this is that built on the outskirts of Weissach is Porsche’s $200m+ R&D facility and test track, and as a result the sleepy little village is literally crawling in all manner of Porsche from dawn ’till dusk.

DSC_0001Just another Cayenne?

DSC_0002Not quite. Note how the roofline, particularly at the rear, is a lot sleeker than the current Cayenne. Those rear lights aren’t lights either – you can see how a plastic cover has been screwed over the top, with the red bits you see being a printed image of the current generation Cayenne rear lights. To my eyes at a quick glance this car seemed smaller than a Cayenne, so my tip is that this is an upcoming competitor to the Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLK. You read it here first!

DSC_0015When you venture up the hill out of town you’ll come across the Porsche complex and apart from a big car park, several office buildings and a rather large security hut, you can’t actually see much. But… if you very carefully traverse the road, there is just one point where you can get a glimpse of the test track.

DSC_0019And if you’re lucky, you might just see a 918 Spyder being put through its paces. On paper the 918 seems to be pretty well outclassed by its hybrid supercar contemporaries, the McLaren P1 and LaFerrari. But after hearing a 918 being put through its paces in person, I can say it sounds pretty damn special to me.

 

Advertisements

The VW Syndicate 10th VW-Audi meet, Kaufpark, Goettingen

DSC_0064The Volkswagen-Audi scene in Europe, and more specifically Germany, is quite unlike any other scene anywhere in the world. What’s impressive is the sheer size of it; the high quality of the cars and the boundaries that are pushed in trying to create something new. If you take a look at a lot of the trends influencing modified cars around the world, a fair percentage of them originated from the German Volkswagen scene.

DSC_0165Any Given Reason happened to purely stumble upon this show in Goettingen, central Germany. Whilst it was tiny compared to the likes of famous shows such as Edition 38, its approximately 300 cars still provided a good indication as to the trends currently influencing the scene. Given that the Volkswagen/Audi scene is all about trends, this is a perfect chance to take a look at a few of them.

DSC_0087The first trend that’s been around since the dawn of time and doesn’t look to be going anywhere soon is the classic Volkswagen Golf/BBS mesh combination. And why would want to change it? It’s a look that’s been honed to perfection. BBS could be found on everything from Mk1’s right up to the latest Mk6 and 7. Continue reading

Driving the Nurburgring Nordschleiffe

DSC_0261Regardless of what sort of cars you’re into, if you’re even the slightest bit interested in driving there’s a good chance that lapping the Nurburgring Nordschleiffe is up there on your bucket list. It was right up there on mine, and I simply couldn’t travel to Germany without driving the most dangerous, challenging and famous racing circuit in the world.

DSC_0163I’ve already discussed in a previous post how crazy/insane/incredible it is that anyone can turn up and drive the Nordschleiffe in a Touristenfahrten session, and in this post I will attempt to describe my experiences of both driving it myself in a modified Suzuki Swift Sport and going for a few significantly quicker taxi laps with a pair of vastly experienced ‘Ring Masters’.

DSC_0198You can drive your own car on the Nordschleiffe, but if you’re travelling from overseas you’ll need to rent a set of wheels. Unsurprisingly regular rental companies prohibit their vehicles from going on the Ring and are rumored to send spotters out to check, so luckily there are several companies located at the circuit offering cars specifically for track use. Your budget (and age, if you’re under 25) is the only limit when it comes to what you can rent, with the choice starting at cars like the Swift and RenaultSport Clio, rising through the Volkswagen Scirocco, Renault Megane R26.R, Toyota 86/BRZ, through to BMW M3’s and all the way up to cars like the Porsche GT3RS, Ferrari 458 and McLaren MP4-12C.

DSC_0162In the end my decision was a relatively easy one, and whilst I was seriously tempted by the Subaru BRZ, I ended up driving a Stage 2 Swift Sport from Rent 4 Ring. I’ve known for some time that the current generation Swift is a pretty good tool out of the box, and the Rent 4 Ring Swift’s have been further improved with a full roll cage, Recaro Pole Position seats with OMP 4 point harnesses, adjustable Ohlins suspension, free flowing exhaust system, Endless brake pads and Toyo R888 Semi Slicks. What’s more, the cheaper hire price compared to the BRZ (or M3!), meant that for my budget I could afford to do more laps, which for me was more important than driving a faster car.  Continue reading

Welcome to the Green Hell

DSC_0270Dangerous. Challenging. Rewarding. Unique. The last of the proper old school race circuits, the Nurburgring Nordschleiffe is all of these things.

DSC_0334Formula 1 stopped coming here in the 70’s because it was too dangerous, which seems oddly juxtaposed against the thing that today makes the Nordschleiffe, or North Loop, so famous today. Anyone, and I mean actually anyone, can simply turn up and drive it as fast as they like.

DSC_0047Buy a lap ticket for 26 Euro…

DSC_0067…validate it in the boom gate and you’re away. Here’s the worlds most challenging racetrack – go nuts! No scruitineering, no helmets, no license checks, no speed limits. And, uh, try not to kill yourself.

DSC_0224It doesn’t matter what you drive. Obviously a GT3 RS is probably the best tool for the job…

DSC_0161…but if you’re just with your mates on a campervan road trip, well then that’s cool too. Continue reading