In May every year, the country’s automotive press and PRs meet at Millbrook test track for a good old chat. And some driving. Ok, quite a lot of driving.
It’s been a couple of years since my last SMMT, so I was raring to go, and was looking forward to putting some faces to names and meeting up, of course, with some familiar faces. The sun was out, track was dry and there was plenty to see. I didn’t really go with a car list in mind – more just to mill around and chat to people. However, it did get out in some interesting stuff…here are a few shots from the day.
Instead of reviewing every car I drove, I instead will round up the day, and point out a few particular highlights.
First drive of the day
I thoroughly enjoyed the Honda Type-R launch in Slovakia last year, so I took the opportunity to drive its predecessor at SMMT. It doesn’t need me to tell anyone how the difference in engine in the new version delivers torque at lower revs, and the addition of a turbo etc. etc…
Still a very quick and agile car indeed, though.
I tried to spend some time at SMMT 2016 driving as many cars I could that I’m unlikely to see on the road regularly these days. I’ve always had a thing for the first edition of the Renault Clio, so I set about driving that. In addition, I loved driving the Mk 2 Astra GTE 16V and was incredibly impressed by its turn of speed, even today.
My personal favourite however has to be the Citroen XM. I’m a huge far of the French barge and having grown up with a a couple of Citroen BX’s it was great to sample the hydraulic suspension and magic carpet ride. It definitely is like nothing out there – the one thing I really noticed was how fantastic the brakes were…managing to stop the car, even abruptly, while the suspension keeps it perfectly level. Fantastic.
This was perhaps the most surprising drive of the day. I could sit in this interior for a long time, it had the grand sport cruiser feel that never gets old…I also felt that the miles would just disappear in this thing. It’s not overwhelmingly quick, but wonderfully smooth and a proper cruiser. Will hope to drive it for a proper review soon.
Seat Leon Cupra
I’m a fan of the Cupra – and although it maybe can’t compete on ‘ultimate’ levels like the Honda Type-R can, it’s still a ridiculous hot hatch. Great fun, great with the hot slightly sticky tarmac and a proper smile on your face car. Can’t get enough of it.
Audi R8 V10
This car doesn’t really need any introduction. The Quattro system with a V10 strapped to this car makes it absolutely sublime. One of the best engineered cars I’ve ever driven. It’ll go anywhere you want to point it, it’s got a high revving engine that only really unleashes its fury after about 6,000 revs. Oh my god, that noise. There is an absolutely ridiculous amount of grip on offer, too…
This was a great way to end SMMT 2016.