BY JEREMY Clarkson’s reckoning, supercars are one of the most fantastic yet irrational purchases you can make. They’re expensive, they burn fuel and rubber at absurd rates, you can’t drive them fast on the road, they’re prone to expensive breakdowns and many bystanders will think you’re a twit. And yet, if you could afford it, would you buy one? Of course you would.
And besides, without them Clarkson wouldn’t be able to shout “Powerrr!” nearly as much. Here are some of his best remarks about supercars.
“Europeans love the sheer frivolity of a machine that has no practical purpose. Mid-engined cars make us priapic. Which is a good thing because they also tell the world that we haven’t had kids yet.”
“The base car is £198,936, but if you want the steering wheel stitched in cotton the colours of the Italian flag — well, that’s an extra £720. That’s £720 for some cotton. You want the wheels painted gold? That’s £1,238. A premium hi-fi system is £3,411. Titanium wheel bolts are £1,919. Red brake callipers? They’re £880. Racing seats? They’re £4,961. The end result is that the car I tested would actually cost you £262,266. And that’s what an economist would call “a lot”. But it’s worth every single penny. Because this car is simply sublime.
“Up past 190mph, the back end of the Koenigsegg starts to weave and you get the distinct impression that if you go faster, the weaving will become so severe you’ll be rolling through the Pearly Gates in a big Swedish fireball.”
“Buy a supercar, and your neighbours won’t like the noise. Your wife won’t be able to climb aboard in a short skirt, your friends will be jealous, and other road users will make signals. It’s hard to think of any group or body that likes a man in a supercar; small boys perhaps. But is that want you want? Probably not, I suspect.”
“Supercars…are like athletes, forever suffering from hamstring injuries and groin strains. It has always been thus. I once drove the world’s first supercar, a Lamborghini Miura, but cannot tell you how fast it went since it oiled its plugs at every set of lights, and stalled. And there wasn’t enough juice in the battery to get it going again.”
“Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bugatti and all the ‘here today, bankruptcy court tomorrow’ supercar makers can sell you more speed and more flamboyance, often for less money, but no other car puts its hand down the front of your trousers and rummages around quite so well as a DBS.”
“Supercars are not built to be driven. They are built to look good and to sound good and to make the owner look rich and to offer small boys the promise of untold speed.”
On the Lamborghini Countach: “The steering wasn’t heavy. An elephant is heavy. A school is heavy. An American is heavy. The Lambo’s steering was in another league.”
“To get the best out of a Ferrari 430, you need to have testes like globes. Whereas a one-armed man with a twitch can go just as fast in a Gallardo while eating a sandwich and having a spasm attack.”
“When you push a car past 180mph, the world starts to get awfully fizzy and a little bit frightening. When you go past 200mph it actually becomes blurred. Almost like you’re trapped in an early Queen pop video … Happily, stopping distances become irrelevant because you won’t see the obstacle in the first place. By the time you know it was there, you’ll have gone through the windscreen, through the Pearly Gates and be halfway across God’s breakfast table.”
“While fuel efficiency is a by-product of all this hybrid cleverness, the actual point is speed. Mesmerising, jaw-slackening, eye-widening, bowel-loosening speed. Neurologically impossible-to-compute speed. Laugh-out-loud speed.”
“It is mid-range that this car really shines. You caress the throttle and it sort of shimmies as if it’s a big muscle and you’ve just stroked it. Poke the pedal more and, whoomph, you are just gone. Then you arrive at a corner and it simply grips and grips until you think your face may actually become dislodged.”
“The Ferrari F12 Berlinetta that I drove over a Cairngorm in the snow a couple of years ago … I think I may have used full power once, for about a 200th of a second. But I was in seventh gear at the time, doing 24mph. And still a bit of poo came out.”
“Holy cow. That engine has the torque of an electric motor. It’s none … then it’s everything, so even in fourth, starting at 40mph, the acceleration is sensational. Do it properly and you go from 0 to 60 in 2.5 seconds. I cannot say how fast this car goes round corners because my mind kept telling me that it would be impossible … no matter how fast you go, you sense it’s twiddling its fingers and yawning.
“The only other car like this is Ferrari’s FXX, which I have not driven. In the hands of Michael Schumacher it lapped the Top Gear test track in 1min 09sec. Will the Zonda R be faster when it comes over in September? Mr Pagani looked bemused that I’d pose such a silly question. ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Much.’”
“I love that these idiotic cars exist. And I love that we live in a world where all you need to buy one is some money. The government doesn’t insist on any special training; it simply says, ‘Can you reverse round a corner?’ If you demonstrate that you can, then you are allowed to buy a car that can do 250mph. That’s fantastic when you think about it.”
“Had I been so inclined, I could probably have done my fastest-ever lap in the 488. But I wasn’t so inclined. I was there to have fun, to kick the tail out and burn some rubber. Which is why Mercedes had sent along an AMG GT S. The Ferrari is a wonderful thing — make absolutely no mistake about that. But the Mercedes is more . . . how can I put this? It’s more me. A big engine at the front, a gearbox at the back and a big smiley ape in the middle, shouting, ‘Power!’ for no apparent reason every few seconds.”