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Huge carbon-ceramic brake discs and eight- piston calipers are standard. Out of the box, it ended an year wait for a Bentley motorsport win on British soil when the Blancpain Endurance Series visited Silverstone. You could call that a successful maiden season. The importance of this car is easy to overlook on paper but less so in the metal - at least judging by the motors port-inspired styling. But neither was so single-mindedly designed to deliver speed, agility and driver thrills. Anyone inclined to dismiss this car without giving it a fair hearing will need to look no further than its kerb weight for justification.

Whether it belongs on a Bentley Continental GT is open to debate. They probably looked better on the sketchpad. Just tike the headlights up front. Very nice, and just the kind of visual subtlety Bentley should be dealing in. Or you can treat it like the relic it is and simply hit the starter button. The engine oniy comes in one profiigate state of tune, but this button lets you fiddle with the suspension through five stiffness settings. When you press the damper button to stiffen the suspension and then have to move your hand up to the touchscreen to actually adjust the firmness via a low-res slider, you get an idea of how far Bentley still has to go with its electronics.

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Still, it all works, if slowly and clunkily, and the hi-fi quality is impressive. The more important question is whether Crewe could have done more to save weight without compromising on the material lavishness and silver-tongued luxury on which every Bentley trades - and extended experience of this car makes it a hard one to answer. It also replaced the interior doorcards with carbonfibre alternatives, found a titanium exhaust for the car worth a 7kg saving all on its own and fitted lightweight machine-forged 21in alloy wheels and carbon-ceramic brake discs as standard.

The car is powered by the twin-turbocharged 4. New turbos produce peaks ofbhp and b ft from it, up from bhp and lbftinthe GTV8S. Just as importantly, a shorter final drive ratio 3.

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Top speed is reduced to mph as a result. Prop something behind the seat and taller occupants will find themselves uncomfortably close to the dash. The GT, though, is far too modern to grow old so gracefully. Bentley knows this, of course, and so with the GTS-R it does what it has been doing for the past half decade and dazzles you with its lavish materials and fine craftsmanship.

And even in , it does that to intoxicating effect. But that paring down extends to almost nothing else in the cabin. Even the new, bespoke sport seats, dropped in for their additional support, appear to be the racing bucket equivalent of La-Z-Boys. Except that nothing originating from the United States has ever been as well stitched together as these - the leather and diamond-quilted Alcantara bei ng almost as satisfying to pore over as they are to sit in.

But the inescapable fact is that Bentley has treated its matinee idol to an injection of Botox, where some will argue that industrial-level liposuction was called for. If you have the space and nerve, 60mph will pass just 3. The Bentley passes lOOmph in only 8. Its standard carbon- ceramic stoppers will resist fade for about four laps of our tough handling circuit, which is a particularly good showing given the engine's potency and the car's overall weight.

Its body settles quickly and can absorb mid-corner bumps without being pushed off line. And from then on, driven smoothly, it largely settles into a stable, confident cornering attitude, not easily thrown around by throttle lifts, bungs or other inputs. It will eventually nudge into understeer, although you can use the body weight to sidestep that and set it into oversteer on turn-in, after which the power will help to pull it straight with confidence.

There's precious little to worry about here and quite a lot of reward to be had. Bentley Continental GT3-R 1 min But it's a fairly entertaining steer anyway. Osec at That latter time is a second clear of a Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe and only a second slower than a Ferrari Fl 2 Berlinetta, which, remember, has more than bhp and weighed in at only lkg on our scales. There is simply no tyre slip under even maximum acceleration. There is, however, no shortage of drama. The brakes are strong, tO J, as well they m ight be, given the weight they have to retard time and again.

BMW i8 UK first drive review

The GT3-R, despite its name, is not really a track car, but they stood up to the abuse of our handling circuit remarkably well. The ride is really little worse than that of a standard Continental GT, which means the GT3-R is still a fine car to drive over distances, absorbing bad surfaces well and putting up decent resistance to undulations, crests and dips. And unlike with the Continental Supersports, there will be no convertible version. Test results may not be reprroduced without editor's written permission. Torque vectoring via the brakes is across the rear axle only.

All-independent suspension features air springs with adaptive damping. An even lighter, even keener GT would be more authentic to the race car and more rewarding still. However, while to us it feels like the answer to a question no one asked, apparently people are keen enough to know the answer, which makes it another motorsport-inspired Bentley victory. If this is a true driver's car, dare to make it rear-wheel drive. Not as lavish or laid back as some but still brilliant.

BMW i8 UK first drive

Beautiful and characterful, with handling expertly balanced between GT and sporting roles. Still the sweet spot in the Continental range, GT3-R included. And genteel with it.

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Remarkable four-seat, all-paw usability from Maranello. Not as great to drive as the F A bit soulless nextto exotic rivals but very thoroughly executed.

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Beats the S The sports car market is fierce enough for those manufacturers with heritage, expertise, the right badge and seductive good looks. A bland pastiche of s Japanese coupes just isn't good enough for this sort of price. Renault has surely erred by not following an obvious path: make a good-looking, driver-focused, affordable sports car that will appeal to enthusiasts without deep pockets.

In short, make a rival for the Toyota GT This plus lOOObhp, like the old turbo days, and you've cracked it. The Viva is simply the latest in a long list of budget cars to receive high praise from Mr Croptey. Steve, how about passing the Ferrari FF keys to other staffers and sharing your experiences of a year in a Viva?

It is virtually identical in trim, but running 18in wheels.

My five-year-old son has always been car mad and is now able to identify most vehicles on the road and in Autocar. He most gets excited about Porsches. In December 1 bought what seemed to be a nine-month-old, March registered Lotus Evora S, on a Yet another new Alfa that promises much yet fails to deliver? I hope not. The artists' impressions looked much better. Sixteen months and enjoyable miles later, when offering it as a part- exchange, I was told it was not a model, nor even the facelifted one.

Following a call to Lotus, which was super-efficient at responding to my request for a date of manufacture, I was told it was signed out of the factory in February It was more than two years older than I was led to believe by a non-franchised Lotus specialist. This isn't unique to Lotus.

Buyers of cars that got caught up in the slow sales period of , or merely of current slow-selling new models, should be vigilant. You may be buying not just an older car than you think but even a previous model that has sat for a couple of years before being registered. Safe, no doubt, to have a crash in, but safe also to drive?

My experience is different. I hired an Avensis estate for a holiday. Its weaknesses, and i suspect those of its competitors, are that the driver has only an approximate idea where it is on the road, because the front and rear ends and sides are out of sight, and that its massive A-pitlars and badly placed driver's side B-pillar obstruct at junctions, where a motorbike, car or small van might be approaching. Nevertheless, it ticks all the Euro- boxes and is described as safe, in contrast, my Land Rover Defender, which ticks few of those boxes, lets the driver know precisely where it is on the road.

Echoing what Jon Wright wrote in the same issue, we have satisfied the health and safety bureaucrats but lost sight of a most important aspect of real safety. But what if it really is a fresh embodiment of a driver's car? Lightweight, capable, edgy - a true reborn Dino.

You get into its way of doing things, and something new feels inherently weird after that. The Toyota GT86, then, has just returned to its maker. But of all the long-term cars I've run during my decade at Autocar, Tyres and brakes resist abuse well.