In the Headlights – Cars & Holidays {{favouriteCount}} Quantity of Likes

21 Feb 2018

Just imagine the feeling - you’re disturbed by a knock at the door when you’re on your day off, watching Netflix, so you get up, grumpy and open the door to see a grinning Christian Williams surprising you to tell you you’ve won a £65,000 Range Rover Sport. Then he opens the boot and you ticked the £20k cash box so it’s there too. And to top it all off there’s also a trip for two on a Kenyan Safari thrown in. It would be like all your birthdays and Christmases come at once, but that’s what we’re offering this week in four different varieties. Four exciting cars, each teamed up with an amazing holiday. To help with the decisions we went to Josh Barnett from Flat Out Magazine and he’s gone with some brilliant choices. As usual he’s written about why he chose those cars and then I’ll throw some of my thoughts down as well. Enjoy!

Range Rover Sport 3.0 V6 HSE Dynamic

Josh Barnett: At the opposite end of the petrol-powered scale to the full fat, 575hp SVR version, the Range Rover Sport 3.0 V6 HSE Dynamic still packs a potent 340hp punch thanks to its supercharged engine. As a compromise between the luxury that has come to epitomise modern Range Rovers and the performance credentials of the Sport model, the 3.0 V6 HSE Dynamic has few rivals.

Tim Oldland: The diesel V6 RR Sport has always been one of the most popular cars in the competition, so we thought we’d go for something a tiny bit different with this supercharged V6 petrol version. Sounds great, performs well and has the new Velar-inspired interior which brings the Sport bang up to date. But that’s not all this week! We are also giving you an amazing safari trip to Kenya for two people, where you get to see Mount Kilimanjaro, visit the Masai Mara Game Reserve and see some of the most incredible animals in the world, in their natural habitat. I must say I’m rather envious of this one, it’s on my bucket list!

Mercedes-AMG C63S Cabriolet

JB: Think Mercedes-Benz convertibles are all a bit, well, stodgy? Think again. The C63S Cabriolet is no ordinary drop-top Benz, exploiting the full extent of AMG’s current arsenal to create a mildly insane convertible that’s just as happy drifting as it is cruising sun-soaked boulevards. The 510hp twin-turbo V8 means 0-62mph is ticked off 4.1 seconds, more than enough to put the wind through your hair.

TO: The AMGs that use this V8 all have one thing in common – they sound amazing. A feral, snarling, barking shouty V8 that wakes people in the next village when you start it up. So what can be better than being able to remove the roof so there’s nothing between your ears and that exhaust! Pure aural pleasure, plus the joy of a great looking car. And speaking of drop-tops, how about driving a Boxster S around the south of France on some of the best and most scenic roads in the world? Well you’re in luck because that’s what you get with the AMG this week!

BMW M4 Competition Pack

JB: While the limited-edition Club Sport is the daddy performance-wise, the BMW M4 Competition Pack is no cut-price alternative. In fact, although the CS’s dynamic focus might make it awesome on track, the Competition Pack M4 is arguably the better daily driver, providing 99% of the CS’s thrills with the bonus of rear seats and chin spoiler that won’t be ripped off at the mere thought of a speed bump…

TO: He makes a very good point! The CS is a good £25k more expensive and the suspension setup is identical, so you get a seriously focused sports car with the M4 Competition Pack, but of course there’s still the usual M4 practicality so it can be used daily and have room in the back for real humans, not the scale replicas some sports car manufacturers seem to use in their photos. As the Comp Pack is an M4 slightly more suited to track work, we decided to team this up with an incredible holiday for the keen driver. You and a guest will fly to Malaga and stay in a luxury hotel for four nights and while there you’ll go to the Ascari Resort in Spain where you’ll get 15 laps driving a Lotus Elise and Cayman GT4!

Mini John Cooper Works

JB: Although the modern day Mini might have succumbed to a bit of middle-aged spread, dynamically it’s still a fantastic 21st Century interpretation of the iconic original. No version showcases this better than the hot-hatched Mini John Cooper Works. It’s macho looks are matched to potent performance, while the go-kart-like handling really allows you to tackle the twistiest bits of your favourite road with complete confidence.

TO: There really is nothing like a Mini, be it classic or new. They’re all imbued with a certain playfulness, something in the handling that makes you want to push it that extra little bit around corners just to see if it really will hang on. The latest JCW absolutely gets that too, with the added bonus of 228bhp to help you drive like a hooligan (should you want to). You just feel like you’re in the Italian Job film when driving around a city, desperate to jump from rooftop to rooftop to avoid traffic. On that theme…. Okay we can’t let you do automotive acrobatics on a city’s rooftops, but with this Mini JCW you get to fly to the beautiful historic city of Rome for three nights and stay in a luxury hotel, then you get to take a three hour tour of the city chauffeured in a classic Fiat 500 – the perfect vehicle for Roma!

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Josh has quite a motoring pedigree. His dad has, too. Yet he holds the ‘In The Headlights’ record for the fastest driving test failure. So how did that happen?

“I was no more than 60 seconds into the test when I cut into another lane while going around a roundabout. I immediately knew I’d failed but had to continue on for another 29 minutes,” Josh confesses.

He passed second time but it wasn’t like he needed the test to validate his driving skills.

“I was pretty much destined to get seriously into cars. I never made a conscious decision, it was just something that my life had always revolved around. I started racing karts when I was 10, eventually progressing into Formula Ford when I had passed my driving test. I’ve been racing (and, on occasion, winning) in those single seaters ever since. I’ve been pretty lucky in that sense.”

A case of genetics perhaps?

“My dad worked for a number of car manufacturers so our driveway had a greater turnaround than some showroom forecourts. We initially had a brace of original Renault Espaces (the Mk1’s had these cool front seats that could swivel 180 degrees, turning the interior into an automotive living room).

“My favourites though were the succession of Saab 9-5 Aeros. These were pretty powerful “back in the day” with nearly 300hp. I can remember being in the passenger seat while dad drove them… enthusiastically.”

And his first memory is indelibly stained back when little Josh was just a toddling two-year-old.

“All of my earliest memories revolve around cars! I can remember going with my dad when he went to buy a Formula Ford race car back in about 1992. The owner started it up when I was stood right next to the exhaust; it’s fair to say the two-year old me was more than a little startled.

“It obviously made quite an impression though as my next car memory is of watching my dad race that car at Brands Hatch back in 1993. I suppose I was destined to be hooked on all things petrol-powered after that!”

Turning cars into a career had the same level of inevitability about it.

“When I was about 15, I started writing race reports for the national motorsport magazines. That was probably when I first thought about taking up a career in journalism (though, at the time, I was erring more towards the racing rather than the automotive side of things). However, that changed after I left uni. I began training as an English teacher, which nearly turned out to be a hideous mistake except it had me scouring the classifieds for staff writer jobs at all the various motoring titles. Eventually I applied for one at a specialist Porsche magazine and, thankfully, got the job.”

So how did Flat-Out come about?

“In late 2016, having driven and written about more Porsche 911s than I’d ever imagined I would, I needed a change so, along with fellow journalist Leon Poultney we set up Flat-Out (www.flatoutmag.co.uk) to try and create the coolest automotive lifestyle hub on the internet.”

Like all the jammy journos we speak to, this is the bit where we let Josh let rip with all the amazing motoring adventures he’s been on. Does he have a favourite trip, or a best drive?

"Now that is a tricky question… I mean, there’s the time I drove classic Porsche 911s across a stunning Finnish archipelago in the height of summer, or there’s a wild camping road trip with a Volkswagen California into the Arctic Circle to see the Northern Lights. Or the flat-out blast up a deserted Col de Turini in a Maserati Ghibli S. You get the picture.”

Yep, glad we asked.

While his day-to-day car may be a little more humble - a 2015 VW Polo GTi - there’s a weekend treat up his sleeve.

“Dad and I recently finished restoring a 1963 MGB to full historic race specification but it’s still road legal so that’s my go-to for a bit of weekend fun. I certainly know that my old Peugeot 205 GTI 1.9 is the one I regret selling the most; I think it’s now enjoying its life carving up the canyons north of Los Angeles.”

Of course, we ask everyone what they’d like to see If BOTB were to pull up with the car of their dreams, so what would that car be?

“I’m a classic Porsche guy at heart so if BOTB could drop off a 1970 911S (the 2.2-litre one, like Steve McQueen drives in the opening scene of Le Mans) that’d be great. Ta. What do you mean I don’t get a free car for doing this. Oh…”

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