We’ve already established that the most efficient cars, rather than the most powerful cars, set the fastest lap times at this year’s Cholmondeley Pageant of Power, so which were the most efficient cars at the 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed?
Our Goodwood Festival of Speed 2014 began with time on the Goodwood Racing Circuit to test out the new BMW M3 and M4. The BMW M3 Saloon and M4 Coupe may not sound very green, but they’re up to 25% more economical than the previous-generation models, with increased power and significantly increased torque (550Nm). Therefore in relation to the huge performance, an official combined economy figure of 34mpg (if you choose M Double Clutch Transmission (M DCT) rather than manual) is impressive.
The improved efficiency is due to changing from a naturally-aspirated V8 to a 3-litre straight-six with twin turbos. The new cars are also more than 80kg lighter than the previous models due to using lightweight materials such as a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic roof.
Both the M3 (four-door) and M4 (two-door) performed fantastically well on the track – and on the Goodwood hill later in the day – being fast and very planted. However despite the car feeling massively confidence-inspiring, there’s also ability to adjust the vehicle’s line through corners thanks to its rear-wheel drive chassis, providing huge rewards when getting the corners right.
Other BMW models were also on the track, including the M135i and M235i. We drove the M235i on its launch event and we know it’s a brilliant car – and it’s the only small, powerful (and of course efficient) rear-wheel drive, four-seat car that you can buy at the moment. But what driving all four cars during the track session showed was that the M3 and M4 are immensely capable as track cars – especially on the very fast Goodwood circuit – but the M135i and M235i offer massive amounts of adjustable and rewarding fun at legal speeds on the UK’s roads.
Of course all these BMWs combine performance, efficiency, great handling, good looks and an ergonomically excellent interior, and practicality in terms of passenger and boot space. Compare this to supercars, which need to be driven at over 100mph to reap the rewards, and the fact is that BMW offers some of the best drivers’ cars for everyday driving in the UK.
The new M3 Saloon is now sale at £56,175, and the M4 Coupé at £56,635.
Read our BMW Reviews
The BMW i8 was on display at Goodwood and it was also driving up the hill. The i8 takes the concept of the BMW M3 to the next level – adding a big dose of efficiency to performance. The i8 has a three-cylinder petrol engine mated to an electric motor. You can plug it in to gain the ability for all-electric driving, and this also provides impressive official economy and emissions figures. The powertrain also means that the car has four-wheel drive capability. The BMW i8 goes on sale in the UK in July 2014 priced at £99,845, with 2014 production having already sold out in the UK. We’re due to do a full review of the i8 very soon, so check back soon.
The Zenos E10 is a new lightweight sports car, developed by a company founded by Ansar Ali and Mark Edwards, previously CEO and COO respectively of Caterham Cars. The Niche Vehicle Network (NVN) has supported a project to create a lightweight structure for the car, helping to make an already lightweight car even lighter: the E10 has a kerb weight of just 650kg. This aims to improve the driving experience and the efficiency of the vehicle.
The E10 – available in both right and left hand drive – is a road legal, track-focused, ‘step-in’ two-seater with Lotus Elise-type proportions. A 200hp mid-mounted transverse naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre Ford GDI engine drives the rear wheels. This gives a power to weight ratio of 300hp per tonne; top speed is around 135mph and 0 to 60mph is covered in less than 5 seconds. Priced at £24,995, production of the Zenos E10 will start in late 2014, with customer deliveries due to commence in early 2015. The E10 is the first of three models that Zenos plans to introduce over the next five years.
The Tesla stand was so crowded that you couldn’t see the cars. Rarely have electric cars generated so much interest at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The Tesla Model S re-writes the rules for all cars. It’s an all-electric vehicle with a range of up to around 300 miles, it can accelerate from 0-60mph in 4.2 seconds, and the car is even available with 7 seats. The Model S is now available in right-hand drive form in the UK from £50,280, and there’s a ‘supercharger’ network being developed in the UK, which can recharge the Model S from zero to 80% in just 20 minutes.
Perhaps more in keeping with the Goodwood Festival of Speed is the Porsche 918 Spyder. The 887hp Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid features a mid-mounted 4.6-litre V8 engine and two electric motors which combine to deliver 0-62mph in 2.8 secs, a 211mph top speed, 85mpg and 79 g/km CO2. Read more about the Porsche 918 Spyder
We recently drove the last generation Honda NSX and it was superb – as easy to drive as a family hatchback, yet immensely capable on wet, twisty roads. The next Honda NSX promises to be even better to drive, and certainly more efficient, as it’s a hybrid; it has a mid-mounted V6 engine and will employ a range of new technologies including the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD (Super Handling All Wheel Drive) hybrid system.
We’ve also recently driven the Alfa Romeo 4C. It looks fantastic and it was certainly fun, but the car we drove was awaiting steering tweaks for the UK market, so we’ll reserve our verdict until we’ve driven a final production car for the UK. The 4C is based around a concept that’s not too dissimilar to a Lotus Elise, ie. a lightweight (895kg), mid-engined two-seater, but it aims to be even more efficient, combining a 0 to 62mph time of just 4.5 seconds with 41.5mpg and 157g/km CO2 emissions. In place of the Elise’s manual transmission, there’s an Alfa TCT dry twin clutch transmission, mated to a 1750cc turbo petrol engine. One area where the 4C differs from the Elise is with price – the Alfa is more expensive at £45,000.
What do you get if you combine a Golf GTI with an electric car? Answer: the Volkswagen Golf GTE, a new plug-in hybrid version of the Golf hatchback. The Golf GTE has a 1.4-litre 150 PS TSI direct-injection petrol engine and a 102 PS electric motor. Together, they produce power of 204 PS and a theoretical range of around 580 miles. Using the electric motor alone, the GTE is capable of speeds of up to 81 mph. With the TSI engine as well, the Golf GTE can sprint from zero to 62 mph in 7.6 seconds and on to 135 mph. The Golf GTE is expected to have a combined cycle figure of 188 mpg and CO2 emissions of 35g/km. In pure electric mode, the Golf GTE can travel up to 31 miles.
It may have been around for a while, but the Toyota GT86/Subaru BRZ is still one of our favourite cars for combining a fun driving experience with reasonable efficiency. It may not be as powerful as a BMW 235i, but it makes up for this with light weight, rear-wheel drive handling, and less grip than its power. The auto version is more economical, but the manual is better to drive.
Read our reviews:
The Mazda3 looks great, drives brilliantly, and has an ergonomically excellent interior. So we’ve got high hopes for the Mazda ‘Hazumi’, which previews the next Mazda2. If Mazda can keep the appearance of the production car exactly as the show car then it will look fantastic. Add in Mazda’s SKYACTIV technologies and it should also be efficient. And if it drives like a lighter weight Mazda3 then we can’t wait.