First Fang

NEW. FAST. FIRST 06 PERFORMANCE REVIEWS

BY ē GEORG KACHER

30 ROUSH RS3 Do you think the Ford Mustang is lacking? How about one with 542kW/827Nm, coilovers and Cup 2s?

32 MERCEDES-AMG S63 Power, prestige and passion Ė sounds like the ideal MOTOR car. Let's find out if it is

34 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF R GRID The Golf you but if you want performance without all the bells and whistles

LAMBO URUS

Italian supercar meets German SUV

ENGINE 3996cc V8, DOHC, 32v, twin-turbo

POWER 478kW @ 6000rpm

TORQUE 850Nm @ 2250-4500rpm

0-100KM/H 3.6sec (claimed) WEIGHT 2200kg ē PRICE $390,000

LIKE: Blends Huracan pace with Q7 off-road ability; impressive handling; sound

DISLIKE: Ergonomic flaws; compromised packaging; rear vision; no thumping V12

BY ē GEORG KACHER

ALMOST 700KM on a glorious April, one thing is clear. in the market for an ultra-high-performance SUV might straight to their nearest dealer. Yes, there are rivals out there, but if you cred, extroverted style, sound and performance one, then the new Urus you need. Thatís, of you get over the concept twin-turbo V8 SUV is something your life.

However, from the get-go you have this wedge-shaped, Lamborghini SUV is all about numbers. The Urus will eclipse anything that takes longer than 3.6 seconds to get to 100km/h, doesnít pass 200km/h in 9.2sec or wonít reach at least 305km/h. Believe it or not, the Urus is every bit as quick as the rearwheel drive Huracan Spyder around the Nardo handling track.

You have to remind yourself that this is a 2200kg SUV. Yet, with 478kW on board, the power tends to outweigh the heft. Adding to that, thereís 850Nm (between 2250 and 4500rpm) of thrust channelled to all four wheels via an eight-speed auto, fusing diesel-like urge with petrol-esque punch.

So itís safe to say the Urus is fast, then. But what about fans of the Defender and G-Class; will they look at the Urus in disrespect? Although the low-profile Pirelli rubber and jewelfinish 22-inch rims, along with a lack of transfer case, probably will turn them off to start with. Still, in terms of actual off-road ability, the Ďruggedí Lambo is a real pro when travelling on sand, through mud and over gravel. For a full assessment of the Urusís off-road capabilities, check out the February 2018 issue of MOTOR.

The reality is, though, that the Urus is likely to see bigger potholes than it is beaten tracks. And sadly, a sequence of surface imperfections will send shockwaves straight through the Alcantara-rimmed steering wheel and driverís seat. While smooth damper responses and a cat-like chassis compliance are not among the fortes of this Lamborghini, the Urus wonít lose its inner equilibrium. It never strays, and its proven German-built-tough DNA suggests it wonít break, either.

In just about all conditions, the secret-recipe Pirelli P Zeros clench the tarmac with rubber claws. The traction systems and torque vectoring step in to control the considerable lateral and longitudinal forces whenever the driver feels the itch to boot the throttle.

Dish up an adult portion of midrange grunt, and the air suspension will duly summon its double cushions, the active anti-roll bars eliminate lean almost completely, and the rear-wheel steering keeps assisting the trajectory. Despite the considerable bulk and weight, the Urus is a confidenceinspiring piece of kit.

Like any modern performance car Ė ahem, I mean, SUV Ė the jacked-up Lambo has various driving modes from off-road, to comfort, to sport, etc. But letís jump straight to Corsa, where the motto is fast and hard. Here the ESP works with a scalpel, the chassis feels like it tightens and the rear-wheel steering comes into play.

Sadly, you canít have 95 per cent of the variables in hyper-active Corsa and the dampers in cushy Comfort at the same time Ė you can in a Ferrari. This may be a disadvantage on paper, but it is almost irrelevant on the road where Comfort is more of a token gesture than a true orthopaedic aid.

Still, you canít help but question whether it is actually as fast as a Huracan on a twisty road Ė you bet it is. Unlike the Spyder, the new SUV musters quantifiably more spring travel, an extra handís width of ground clearance, exceptional composure and tangible torque vectoring.

In its segment, the Lamborghini Urus epitomises dynamic excellence. Despite all the mechanical and electronic wizardries, you can always feel, if only to a varying degree, that going really fast is a challenge to the driver and not a computer-controlled virtual reality excursion. Itís engaging, which is, in many ways, the biggest surprise.

Given the performance at hand here, itís lucky that before things go seriously wrong, the carbon-ceramic brakes feel as though they are pulling your eyes out of their sockets. The giant 440mm front discs offering plenty of purchase to arrest the pace. Still, if the brakes donít pull you up, the scary fuel consumption and rather small 75-litre tank certainly will.

Despite the puristís cry for a sonorous atmo V12 (think LM002), itís the exhaust which leaves the most lasting impression to those left in the wake of this crazy SUV. After all, full throttle in a low gear rocks the ancient Autostrada tunnels to their very foundations, while raucous, intermittent downshifts make paint chips flake from the ceiling and the overrun is equally as intense. It threatens to deafen anything within earshot. While it doesnít have a V12, the acoustics are still an event Ė and so they should be for a $390K Lamborghini four-by-four.

Inside, the Urus looks like a Q7 on drugsÖ stick with me. The hexagonal trademark motif inspired by the Marzal concept car from way back when is the overriding theme Ė like the Nike swoosh or the M of the golden arches. The rainbow design of the centre instrument cluster mixes Atari overtones with futuristic graphics, suggesting the creator originated deep within the PlayStation generation.

The long horizontal array of tiny push buttons separated by even tinier silver dividers that runs along the centre stack is still as confusing as it was in the Gallardo. The main in-dash screen is now of the push-button kind, which doesnít help much because its location renders it out of reach for some drivers and it collects greasy fingerprints.

The Alcantara-trimmed seats could do with longer cushions and more supportive squabs, but there is leg and headroom in abundance, if only for the driver and the front-seat passenger. Whatís not to like is the letterbox view through the rear-view mirror, the compromised packaging in row two and some ergonomic idiosyncrasies. Still, when have you had a 575-litre boot in a Lamborghini recently?

Ultimately, what matters is how the Urus makes you feel. It is a Lamborghini after all. And when you hear this thing between 5000 and 7000rpm in all its big-bang glory, youíll feel a lot. It has a seductive blend of roadholding and straight-line performance thatís coupled with a depth of feedback that runs through the steering, drivetrain and brakes. Oh, and it gets 11 out of 10 for street cred (according to some). And with predicted sales of 3500 per year (which would double Lamborghiniís production), you better get used to seeing this super-SUV hounding your rear-view mirror.

CAYENNE TURBO

4.0-litre twinturbo V8, AWD, 404kW/770Nm, 0-100km/h 4.1sec 2175kg, $239,400

WHILE WE wait for the release of the berserk Cayenne Turbo S, the current rangetopping Turbo continues to redefine the laws of physics. With a 4.1sec 0-100km/h time, itís almost a match for the Lambo on pace Ė itís also the pragmatic choice.

YOU CANíT HELP BUT QUESTION IF IT IS AS FAST AS A HURACAN ON A TWISTY ROAD Ė YOU BET IT IS

ROUSH RS3

Track-focused íStang gains mega mumbo

ENGINE 4951cc V8, DOHC, 32v, s/c

POWER 542kW @ 6850rpm

TORQUE 827Nm @ 5000rpm

0-100KM/H 4.3sec (estimated)

WEIGHT 1739kg (est) ē PRICE $112,874

LIKE: Epic amount of straightline power; addictive soundtrack; high grip levels; easy to live with

DISLIKE: Steering remains numb; you can never really use all the power; slippery seats

BY ē TRENT GIUNCO + PCSELLEN DEWAR

WEíRE ALWAYS TOLD to listen to our parents because they know best. More often than not, this is true. And yet, Iím sitting in traffic with normal temps in a 542kW Mustang after driving spiritedly through some twisty roads thinking how a piece of childhood advice couldnít be more wrong. ďYouíll never make your car better than how it came from the factoryĒ was my fatherís catch-cry for years as he stood by and watched my brother lower and louden one steed to the next. Oh, and donít even get me started on his view of power upgrades.

Simply, the Roush RS3 (via Mustang Motorsport) is doing everything in its power to make me question my old manís logic. This fully ADR compliant and complied, warranty-toting (threeyear/60,000km) aftermarket Mustang feels anything but a tuned, and therefore tarnished, pony. Despite its spleen-splitting straight-line pace, it is as docile as any other commuter stuck in peak-hour Melbourne traffic. The sticker price of $112,874 (including the purchase of a manual Mustang GT) even seems reasonable given the total package.

Although itís no shrinking violet, with the familiar, retro-esque silhouette being accompanied by an assortment of Roush kit Ė namely the bonnet scoops and 20-inch Quicksilver aluminium wheels. Matched with a deep burble from the quad exhaust tips, itís hard to miss, but in a good way. The interior is standard íStang, with only a few Roush clues as to what lies beneath.

The RS3 is Roushís stage three kit (hence RS3) which, for $41,499 on top of the $57,490 Mustang GT manual, gets you 500kW and 739Nm of supercharged goodness and extremeduty half shafts. Yet for an extra $3500, the Phase 2 upgrade kit fitted here turns the wick up on the TVS R2300 supercharger to 542kW and 827Nm.

The way in which that grunt gets to the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2-shod rear hoops is whatís most impressive.

So linear is the power and torque delivery that the supercharger is almost imperceptible. Yet, it can go from ĎMy Little Ponyí to raging stallion in one flex of your right ankle. And the passive exhaust sounds authentically unhinged.

So ferocious is the power that you need a long stretch of road to ever experience full throttle. You also need precise inputs with the six-speed manual Ė oh no, it wonít be rushed.

Helping harness that power are the aforementioned 285-section Cup 2s at the rear (265 front). When up to temp, the way they dig into the road is as savage as the rate of acceleration.

However, you need a fairly smooth surface or the RS3 will scamper across the tarmac when hard on the gas. On the flip side, the Brembo brakes do a solid job of arresting the licence-scaring speed, while the middle pedal remains overly sensitive (like the standard GT) in the initial stages of travel.

While itís not totally a point-andshoot affair with mid-corner throttle applications helping engage the rear, you still have to be weary of the fact you have 542kW/827Nm. The only downside to the added roadholding is the fact it has only exacerbated the standard GTís lack of connection through the wheel. Yes, the sharp Mustang front-end remains, but getting to the apex is something that you sight, rather than something you feel.

THE ROUSH RS3 CAN GO FROM ĎMY LITTLE PONYí TO RAGING STALLION IN ONE FLEX OF YOUR RIGHT ANKLE

However, itís not only the focused rubber offering up all the purchase here as thereís tangible mechanical grip. Fitted with the optional threeway adjustable performance coilovers (adjustable for height and damper), thereís enough compression and control to feel what the car is doing underneath you. For a supposedly circuit-biased kit, the RS3 has a resounding amount of compliance and a duality of character that suits both road and track.

A chink in the Roushís armour is the standard leather seats and the serious lack of side bolstering. Although you can option Alcantara inserts.

Okay, there were a few odd sounds on test that wouldnít be found in a standard GT, however, as a package that can serve as a weekend cruiser and a track-day bruiser, the RS3 ticks a lot of boxes. At $112,874 (including optional equipment) for this variant, the price of entry doesnít seem unsavoury given the absolute experience it returns. Its party piece is the fact itís bloody quick, surprisingly capable and, well, Ďnormalí. Sorry dad, but the Roush RS3 proves you wrong on this one.

MERCEDES-AMG S63 L

E63 S powertrain, rear-drive and supreme comfort

IT HAS A HOOLIGAN SIDE TO ITS PERSONALITY ... IT WILL LAY ELEVENS FROM A STANDSTILL INTO SECOND GEAR

ENGINE 3982cc V8, DOHC, 32v, twin-turbo

POWER 450kW @ 5500-6000rpm

TORQUE 900Nm @ 2750-4500rpm

0-100KM/H 4.3sec (claimed) WEIGHT 2175kg ē PRICE $375,000

LIKE: Imposing looks; thumping V8; luxurious interior and ride; epic comfort levels

DISLIKE: Price; transmission selector stalk a bit dull; there are better driverís cars

BY ē DYLAN CAMPBELL

THIS CAR, for many MOTOR readers whether they know it or not, would be the dream daily driver if those lotto numbers finally came through. Thumping, torque-rich V8, rear-wheel drive, sumptuous interior and lovely ride, plus gadgets galore and plenty of interior space. Oh, and the way it looks will have even the most mouthbreathing of right-lane dawdlers veering hard left out of your way.

The S-Class is one Mercedes-Benz model that readily lends itself to the AMG treatment, and the Affalterbach revheads have just given their S63 another going-over. The old 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 is out, as is its sevenspeed automatic transmission, replaced with the same 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and nine-speed auto from the new E63 S. That means a tremendous 450kW and 900Nm, although unlike E63 S, the S63 L is rear-drive only, the all-wheel drive version available overseas is not engineered for right-hand drive.

Mercedes-AMG has also revised the exterior styling and we think it looks mega on its 20-inch Y-spoke wheels, sitting low in a certain Russian oligarch kind of way. Itís just a physically large and imposing car in the metal, especially the long-wheelbase version thatís more than 5.2 metres long.

Inside, thereís the spacious, opulent S-Class interior weíve come to know well since the carís launch in 2013. Two large, 12.0-inch TFT screens dominate the dash, containing satnav and infotainment on the left and tacho and speedo graphics on the right behind the steering wheel. The COMAND systemís graphics and user friendliness have been greatly improved since earlier iterations and are now almost enjoyable to use, and thereís an attractive new steering wheel. Although it must be said, with this generation Mercedes-Benz interior having trickled down throughout almost the entire range, the S-Class cabin isnít quite as special as it first was. Still, thereís no taking away from the fact this is a lovely place to be, such that you might find yourself sitting in it in car parks or the driveway long after youíve parked, if youíve got nowhere else to be.

The ride is also exceptional, even if itís not quite the bliss youíve heard about with this generation S-Class, and if youíre after that, best get a lesser model, as the S63 Lís 40-profile tyres can occasionally add an edge thatís unbecoming of such a luxurious car.

But thatís AMG for you, and all is forgiven when the S63 L starts to show off the hooligan side to its personality, laying elevens from a standstill into second gear in Sport Plus with the reduced ESP Sport. Of course, beyond that, the grunt is incredible, betraying what is an autobahn bruiser with monumental turbocharged mid-range. Yes, the S63 L is ballistic. The new transmission is also very responsive when youíre up it, and smooth when youíre not, even if itís possible to confuse it into a clunk.

Pleasingly, the S63 L has the same engine note as the E63 S, a top-end snarl that moves away from the burble weíve come to associate with AMG V8s. We like it; thereís even an active exhaust button, not very S-Class at all.

While the S63 L gets AMGís new Track Pace lap timing app, this is one car that would feel completely flustered at anything beyond eight tenths on a racetrack, its natural habitat is the motorway. The S63 L feels like it wants to attack corners, but at the same time also forgets its size, keeping the driver busy managing its weight. This is definitely a long-legged cruiser happiest at higher speeds.

Of all the Mercedes-Benz vehicles that have received the AMG treatment in recent years, this is one of the most well-judged. Thereís something very AMG on-brand about the S63 L. Itís comfortable yet devastatingly fast.

The way it looks is a little bit like it was milled from one solid block of German iron. Thereís a sinister sounding V8, one that feels like it would send the S63 L into the worldís longest, easiest powerslides if you so wished. In that sense, itís fun.

There are sharper luxury driverís cars out there, but the S63 L is in its own way a dream machine for the daily drive Ė if you can afford it.

VW GOLF R GRID

Budget-based Golf R is a tantalising prospect

ENGINE 1984cc inline-4, DOHC, 16v, turbo

POWER 213kW @ 6000rpm

TORQUE 380Nm @ 1850-5300rpm

0-100KM/H 5.0sec (claimed)

WEIGHT 1450kg ē PRICE $47,990 (manual)

LIKE: Sleek looks; arresting price; polished dynamics; punchy engine; plenty of kit

DISLIKE: Heavy steering in Race; detuned engine; there are more thrilling hatches out there

VW WONíT say it, but we reckon itís a bit frightened by its new competition. As it comes under fire from hatches like the Hyundai i30 N, Honda Civic Type R, and incoming Renault Megane RS 280, itís scrambled to launch a counter attack with new technology, more variants, and smaller price tags.

That, of course, is great news for punters, as the Golf R has been reeled closer to their reach with the new bargain-focused Grid Edition. Like a Golf GTI Original, the thinking behind the Grid is to ditch any equipment deemed superfluous.

For a 2018 Golf R that happens to be leather seat trim, a newly introduced 9.2-inch digital instrument cluster, silver mirror covers, electric driverís seat adjustment, seat heating, and a passengerís seat under-drawer. Theyíre replaced by Alcantara seat trim, a good olí analogue cluster, and black mirror covers.

Lead foots can breathe a sigh of relief, though, that programmable adaptive suspension is carried over.

It rides as good as anything less than $100K and can inject racetrack-ready responses back into the suspension at the switch of a mode. Its gentle damping also means it clings to everything but the roughest of surfaces and youíd have to be doing a pretty rough job of it to make the thing understeer.

Thereís also the same 2.0-litre EA888 with 213kW and 380Nm, backed by an all-wheel drive system spinning four 235mm-wide tread patches. Itís a versatile unit that rarely feels strained, punching hard in its top end; however, we reckon its grip levels are crying out for Europeís full-fat 228kW and 400Nm tune.

We know from experience a dualclutch íbox makes the Golf R a genuine 12.0sec car, but thereís no shame in opting for the manual. For one, itís a sweet device thatís leisurely weighted and matched with a great clutch feel. There are more direct shifts out there, but thatís quickly forgotten when you remember how much this thing costs.

Remarkably, the absence of a few luxury touches slashes the Golf Rís price by $5500, driving down the sixspeed manual transmission carís price to $47,990 and the seven-speed DSG variantís to $49,990. Despite this drop the interior doesnít feel particularly budget. Alcantara seat inserts lift the interiorís ambience while the recently introduced 8.0-inch infotainment keeps tech levels high.

The GTI Originalís three-door body and passive dampers would drop its price and weight again, making us wonder Ďwhat if?í But itís hard to complain. This is as good as it gets for an all-rounder right now.

MINI COOPER S

Updated hot hatch gains grown-up personality

ENGINE 1998cc inline-4, DOHC, 16v, turbo

POWER 141kW @ 5000-6000rpm

TORQUE 300Nm @ 1250rpm

0-100KM/H 6.8sec (claimed)

WEIGHT 1235kg ē PRICE $38,000 (est)

LIKE: Updated engine; useful technology upgrades; design changes are Ďcoolí; better ride

DISLIKE: Itís not actually very Ďminií anymore; extra w

HAVING BEEN INTRODUCED four years ago, the third-generation Ďnew Minií is due a facelift to keep things fresh and to continue buyer interest for the iconic marque. Although itís not what youíd call an extensive update. Mini hopes a refreshed headlight design, tail-lights that incorporate a Union flag motif, a handful of new wheel and colour options, piano black rather than chrome trim, etc, will drive sales up.

The new lights front and rear use LEDs, with very clever adaptive LED headlights now featuring on the options list. There are new personalisation options, too, including a number of 3D-printed parts that buyers can customise with their own name or simple graphics Ė a world first in the car industry.

The revised four-cylinder turbo engine gets new, high-pressure injectors, a new exhaust system and a new turbo, too. Power and torque figures remain 141kW and 300Nm, but fuel economy has improved by about 7 per cent. Interestingly, the updated engine is said to be up to 30kg heavier than before. The suspension has been tweaked to account for that extra weight over the front wheels.

Weíve come to expect a distinct dynamic character from these BMWera Minis and this revised model is no exception. The darty, eager front end is still there, as are the quick steering, mobile rear end and overall sense of agility. There may be more weight over the front axle now, but itís been disguised extremely well.

All told, the Cooper S is a huge amount of fun to fling along a winding road. The engine, meanwhile, is brawny and muscular, but itís no rev-happy screamer. In fact, having started pulling hard from 2500rpm, itís done its best work by 5500rpm, so you donít chase the redline like you would in many other hot hatches.

Other hot hatches at this price point may be more thrilling to drive, but none matches a rewarding chassis with a high-quality cabin and grown-up demeanour in normal driving quite like the Mini Cooper S.

NISSAN 370Z ROADSTER

Auto, drop-top Zed proves to be a surprise packet

ENGINE 3696cc V6, DOHC, 24v

POWER 245kW @ 7000rpm

TORQUE 363Nm @ 5200rpm

0-100KM/H 5.5sec (estimated)

WEIGHT 1590kg ē PRICE $63,490

LIKE: Decent pace from the atmo V6; entertaining handling; exterior design is holding up

DISLIKE: Clunky roof; engine noise; old interior; price against a second-hand version

IF NISSAN EVER felt like the 370Z needed a rebrand it could always call it the Tardis, for climbing behind the wheel is akin to stepping back in time. There are buttons strewn everywhere and the materials used and overall architecture belong to a previous generation of interior design.

The 370Z first appeared in these pages in February 2009. Nissan is persisting, however, and has given its junior sports car a light update for 2018, including smoked head and taillights, redesigned 19-inch wheels and a new colour: Cherry Red.

Most notable, though, is the significant price cut. The Roadster now starts at $60,990 for the six-speed manual, while the seven-speed auto tested here is $63,490. Thatís $11,000 more than the equivalent Coupe, however, shaves around $5K from its previous price tag. It places the 370Z Roadster in a fairly sparsely populated marketplace, with only the Ford Mustang convertible offering a similar blend of pace, handling and presence.

Back behind the wheel, the 370Z Roadsterís vintage has advantages.

A button for everything means there arenít countless digital sub-menus to wade through and thereís a lack of lights flashing at you from all the active safety aids. Even turning off ESP is achieved with a simple press of a button; no Sports mode, nothing.

That said, ESP doesnít completely deactivate, but provides more than enough leeway to offer a lot of rearwheel drive entertainment.

In the wet the 370Z Roadster has to be driven with great care as there isnít a lot of purchase on the road, however, the system seems to know when to leave you alone and when you need some support.

The 3.7-litre V6 isnít the sweetest engine around, but it revs to 7500rpm and is a good match for the auto íbox, while the power feels nicely judged to the chassis. The ride is decent, too, and cutting the roof off doesnít feel to have unduly affected the body rigidity, though the mechanical clunks and groans made during roof operation are far from confidence-inspiring.

Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, Father Time has caught up with the Zed. Itís definitely still an enjoyable drive with an entertaining chassis, but when mechanically identical examples are available on the second-hand market for well under $30,000, itís difficult to recommend spending more than twice that on a new one.