18 ‘Till I Die

Whenever I look around me I am saddened to see people around my age (35) conforming to the rules of society and giving into the ways of the family man – dreary grey economical diesels and people carriers. Some of these children carrying machines have window stickers: “Child On Board” or those stupid stick family decals. If this is the case, then I afraid it’s a lost cause.

I’d sooner force a baby into a glove compartment than actually pay money for one of these vehicles and drive it around in public. Which led me into thinking about writing a sensible article about fast saloons, a pragmatic compromise. However, whilst ruminating makes and models, I watched a movie called The Getaway. Although Disney babe Selena Gomez stars, it’s an above average chase, thriller movie. Ethan Hawke was pretty good too, but the star of the show for me was the Super Snake Mustang featured throughout the entire movie. Not only is this legend automotive eye candy, the directors and sound people actually synced and used the correct engine sounds for the driving scenes – the gorgeous V8 accompanied by the whine of the supercharger made for the perfect soundtrack.

“I need that whine in my life,” I thought. Although I love the sound of a turbocharger spooling and hissing, the whine of a supercharger gives the impression a jet engine under the hood.

So with the Child-On-Board-Mobiles and the pragmatic saloon alternative idea put on the back burner, I thought about writing something along the same lines: What supercharged car could you buy for the price of a new Ford Mondeo 2.0 EcoBoost 240 Titanium X Sport?

The Ford Mondeo is an extremely popular car in the UK, a perfect all-rounder. Even this faster 2.0 EcoBoost 240 Titanium X Sport is reasonably priced and not too expensive to run.

Specs: Price: £27,045 (est); Top speed: 150mph; 0-62mph: 7.9sec; Economy: 36.6mpg; Power: 237bhp; Torque: 251lb ft.

Now for the interesting supercharged alternative: 2008 Shelby Mustang GT

No, I haven’t gone mad… not quite. After a little surfing I found this 4.6-L V8 Mustang GT. I was surprised at just how many modern Mustangs were for sale here in the UK. People used to say owning an American car in the UK was crazy as they are so big and thirsty. But if you consider the rise of the 4X4s and the mums that drive them to the supermarkets, a Mustang isn’t so big.

This particular model boasts 450-bhp, a sports appearance package (Shelby front grill & front bumper spoiler, 20″ Shelby Alcoa wheels). It has only covered 18,000 miles, so is pretty much run in. Performance upgrades include Shelby racing front brakes and drilled front and rear discs, BBK Headers, a Magnaflow Exhaust, and a Hurst 5sp shifter. The best part is the Rousch supercharger; it looks extremely snug sitting on top of all that engine… and the price for all this? £24,995!

Okay, so the fuel consumption will take a bit of a dive and your partner is bound to hurt you, but for the sound of a super-charged V8, who cares?

Specs: Price: £24,995; Top speed: 150mph; 0-62mph: 4.7sec; Economy: 20mpg combined; Power: 450bhp; Torque: 419lb ft.

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A Tiny Car With A Sting: Daihatsu YRV 1.3 Turbo

I seem to have a bee in my bonnet with these little pocket rockets lately, and this yellow and black striped turbo is the reason why. I guess you could call this little Daihatsu a sleeper as it would put up a fair fight against cars twice its size – you’d need to remove the TURBO 130 decal though, perhaps opt for the silver version.

Whenever I decide on writing an article I try and get to the bones as to why I have chosen a particular topic, and if it’ll be a little different or interesting compared to all the usual supercar stuff out there. Why would I feature this little Japanese mechanical bumble bee after previously writing about a Nissan Micra? I mean, why?

After a few minutes I came to the conclusion it wasn’t the aesthetics of these little boxes that did it for me; neither were the practicality or economic running costs (this is coming from a teen who thought a 1983 2.3-L turbo Mustang was a sensible ride… during the late 90s in the UK).

No, what it boils down to is the technology of these tiny engines. The Japanese just know how to shrink things and make them work – they always have done. They’ve been turbocharging small cars for decades and it’s taken a while to catch on stateside, but with all these eco people ranting and raving about the planet, manufactures are now developing ways to maintain bhp figures whilst making it more economical to run.

Ford have their EcoBoost technology, managing to squeeze out 99-bhp from it’s 3-cylinder 1.0-L unit, whilst Chevrolet have a 1.4-L turbocharged unit producing 138-bhp. Even the Italians have made an effort, Alfa Romeo now offering a 1.4-L turbocharged engine producing a whopping 176-bhp.

Whilst this is no WRX or EVO, the little Daihatsu can hit 60-mph in 8 seconds, that’s quicker than a 2004 Alfa Romeo GTV, a Jaguar XF Sedan and a Mercedes-Benz C220 CDI Sport.

For the sleeper enthusiast it serves as a great platform for either tweaking what’s already available or fixing a slightly bigger turbo and trying to reach the 7 second territory of the bigger hot hatches.

That’s it for tiny Japanese cars for a while… I hope.