First drive: Lotus Exige V6 Cup

First drive Lotus Exige V6 Cup

What is it?

The Exige V6 Cup is Lotus's riposte to the Porsche 911 GT3 RS, an even more stripped-out and razor-edged version of the already extreme Exige. Basically, it's a car that's as happy on the track as it is on the road.

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First drive: Abarth 595 50th Anniversary

First drive Abarth 595 50th Anniversary

What's this, then?

According to Fiat, it's a ‘small supercar'. Back in the real world, it's a yet-hotter 500 Abarth cooked up to celebrate 50 years since the launch of the original 595 Abarth.

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Porsche 918 Spyder: the definitive verdict

Porsche 918 Spyder the definitive verdict

Is this a hypercar that happens to be a hybrid. Or a hybrid that happens to be a hypercar?

Some say neither. We say both. The performance certainly is hyper. The straight-line figures are staggering, thanks to 875bhp delivered by a screaming V8, plus electric power, and four-wheel-drive. Porsche claims 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds, and 0-125mph in 7.2, and 0-186mph (300km/h) in 20.9. That's Veyron-fast up to 150-odd mph.

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First drive: 500bhp VW ‘Superbeetle’

First drive 500bhp VW Superbeetle

What on earth is that?

It’s called the VWVortex ‘Superbeetle’. It’s got 500bhp. 500bhp from a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder TSI engine. It has four-wheel-drive, and a bodykit to make people of a certain persuasion weak at the knees.

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First drive: the Nissan GT-R Nismo

First drive the Nissan GT_R Nismo

What’s this?

You’ll know by now that the Nismo-tuned GT-R has 591bhp and – given the right German and with some Track Pack additions – can lap the Nürburgring in 7:08.679. You’ll also know that the 3.8-litre V6’s power has been boosted from 542 to 591 horsepower, torque’s increased from 465 to 481 lb ft and terminal velocity’s bumped from 196mph to… well, nobody actually knows.

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First drive: 500bhp Golf GTI concept

First drive 500bhp Golf GTI concept

What’s THAT?

This is the Volkswagen Design Vision GTI concept; a one-off show car built to a) delight the jolly VW enthusiasts at this year’s Worthersee VW event, b) showcase the future of the Golf GTI, and c) be a complete and utter window-licking loon. Suffice to say, it scores big on all counts.

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First drive: Honda Civic Type-R prototype

First drive Honda Civic Type_R prototype

Having bailed out of Formula One and fast cars when a bunch of banking morons tried to take the world back to the Stone Age in 2008, Honda has had a seriously lack-lustre half decade. Now, with the new NSX a year or so away and an F1 engine deal with old partner McLaren locked in from the 2015, that mislaid mojo has been well and truly located.

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First drive: Mercedes C 63 AMG Edition 507

First drive Mercedes C63 AMG Edition 507

What's that?

It's called the Mercedes C63 AMG ‘Edition 507', the latter part denoting this car's particular power output. That's 507ps, so around 500bhp. A good, solid, 500bhp. And 43bhp more than the ‘regular' C63's 457, if you can ever call that car normal. It replaces the old ‘Performance Pack' spec C63, and before that the DR520, sitting just underneath the Black Series in the power hierarchy.

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First drive: the SRT Viper Time Attack

The SRT Viper again – haven’t we already heard all about that?

Yes, but not this one. This one is called the TA, which stands for Time Attack. The name is derived from the fact that a good chunk of Viper owners buy their cars to use almost exclusively on the growing number of private and public racetracks – over 150 at the last count – across the US. Twenty five per cent of all Viper owners admit to taking their cars to a circuit. 100 per cent, we suspect, said they enjoyed every minute of it.

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World exclusive first drive: McLaren P1

Typical. I get to drive a McLaren P1 and the rain is biblical. It's also just been Belgium's first heavy frost of the year, and so the pounding rain is bouncing off a slithery-looking tarmac that couldn't be any less inviting for an £866,000, 903bhp hypercar than if you'd oiled up some ice and lined the road with puppies.

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