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CAR Magazine Hot Car Shootout

Broadcast date : 14th January 2007


The CAR Magazine racetrack shoot-out at Killarney near Cape Town is a tradition that goes back to the early 1980s. The shoot-out for the January 2007 edition was the fourth extravaganza, and the line-up was fifteen cars strong. Here are the contenders.
  • Porsche 911 Turbo Tiptronic
  • Aston Martin Vantage
  • BMW Z4M Coupé
  • Nissan 350Z
  • Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG
  • Audi RS4
  • Chrysler 300C SRT-8
  • Honda S2000
  • Renault Mégane Sport F1
  • Opel Astra OPC
  • Ford Focus ST
  • Mazda 6 MPS
  • Seat Ibiza Cupra TDi
  • Ford Fiesta ST
  • Volkswagen Polo GTi

The list of racing drivers used in past shoot-outs includes great names such as Basil van Rooyen, Koos Swanepoel and George Fouche. So this year’s chosen two, Car Torque’s Gugu Zulu and A1 GP driver Stephen Simpson were joining an elite club.

Also following a tradition, a CAR Magazine staffer accompanies the race drivers recording their on-track comments. This year, Associate Editor Sudhir Matai and Deputy Editor Hannes Oosthuizen did the honours.

As for the cars, if they were hot, they were in. The shoot-out is all about handling and power.

The VW Polo GTi was a good starting point for the test because it was a newcomer to the performance hatch scene.

At the other end of the scale was the car Gugu and Stephen couldn’t wait to wring out – the latest Porsche 911 Turbo.

The Tiptronic version of the 911 was challenging the drivers, especially with the traction control switched out. Too much power to set up a progressively controlled slide.

The car that surprised Gugu and Stephen was the hulking Chrysler 300 SRT.

One of the much-awaited cars was the new Opel OPC. With 177 kiloWatts of turbo power and a stiff chassis, not to mention killer-looks, this was the new-comer in the middleweight hot-hatch division.

On the road it has great levels of grip, but the racetrack arena exposes its designed-in safety margins, which frustrated the racers.

An old favourite of ours was the Renault Megane Sport, decked out in dramatic black with Renault Sport motifs. Like the Opel, the verdict was close, but no cigar.

The Nissan 350Z, however, is set up the way a race-driver likes it. The Zee-car responds to driver inputs.

Another car that failed to live up to the racer’s expectations was the BMW M-Coupe.

The biggest surprise of the shoot-out at Killarney was the Aston Martin Vantage. The sheer poise of the Aston in racing conditions took both drivers by surprise. Eventually Stephen resorted to the time-honoured doughnut technique to see how it would behave under duress.

The Merc CLK 63 impressed the racers for a completely different reason – the sideways fun-factor.

We asked the two racing hotshots to choose their top 3 cars...

GUGU's CHOICE

1. Aston Martin Vantage

2. Porsche 911 Turbo

3. Mercedes-Benz CLK 63
STEPHEN's CHOICE

1. Aston Martin Vantage

2. Mercedes-Benz CLK 63

3. Porsche 911 Turbo

So, a surprise British winner as far as the young hot-shots are concerned. The only remaining question Stephen and Gugu had was… when is the next CAR Magazine track shoot-out?

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