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ITH – Geneva Special – the Interview {{favouriteCount}} Quantity of Likes

14 Mar 2018

Last week saw the opening of the 2018 Geneva Motor Show and as ever it proved to be the best show of year with some huge launches and spectacular displays. Many were crazy priced supercars or cars you simply can’t buy without a vial of unicorn tears delivered directly to the CEO of the company (I’m looking at you, Porsche and Ferrari) but there were plenty of more attainable cars launched. As I was there with fellow free drink quaffer Christian Williams, we got him to choose four cars from the show for this week’s ITH. He’s proven fairly adept with a keyboard and given his thoughts on the cars, with mine shortly after…

Mercedes AMG GT 63S 4dr

Christian Williams: This brand new GT 4-Door is only the third bespoke model to emerge from AMG after the SLS and the two-door GT and they say it’s brought a lot of their characteristics across to a more practical four door design. 630hp gets delivered to the all wheel drive system from a stonking 4lt V8 which can achieve a 0-62mph time of 3.2 seconds and 196mph top speed.

This car was swamped at the show and you can see why. From the front It’s got that wide grille and low set lights from the GT, and around to the rear you’ve got active aero from the wing, or if you wish, the car can have the option of a beefy looking fixed wing. Inside it’s Mercedes at its best, with the new long screen spanning from the drivers display over to the centre screen and the new steering wheel wouldn’t look out of place in one of its F1 cars! Huge love for this car at the show and it 100% makes it one of my favourites!

Tim Oldland: I must say I was a little confused when I first heard of this car. After all, Mercedes do have the CLS which is a 4-door coupe and has always had an AMG 63 model, so this new model did not compute. Then of course we saw it in the metal and…. no well it still doesn’t make 100% sense but it certainly is awesome. It squeezes the AWD drivetrain and engine from the E63S with a power boost, into a stretched AMG GT body with some extra rear doors. So it’s crazy wide, very sleek and sounds like thunder. Big fan of this.

Volvo Polestar 1

CW: Sitting proudly next to the Volvo stand at the show is ‘Polestar’, the brands performance spin off, and wow does the Polestar 1 pack a punch! 600hp from a car which you have to see in the flesh to really appreciate. It’s their first go at a Hybrid and personally I think they’ve nailed it. 2 electric motors at the back with a 2lt petrol engine at the front combine to create its 600hp with the longest range of any hybrid currently on the market. With the ‘1’ you also get their new ‘Phone as key’ system where you can use your phone to well, act as a key and also get in contact with Volvos concierge service once they set it up.

Frameless windows and bezel-less wing mirrors shows they’ve taken account of the latest mobile phone designs and it works in harmony with its aggressive body shape. Inside you’ve got full leather with some good looking chrome dials and switch gear, along with seats which look like they’ve been taken from a car 10years in the future. It’s one aggressive, futuristic, mile hungry weapon.

TO: As Christian knows, this was the star of the show for me. It’s a rival to the BMW i8 in many ways, but you get a stunning design that will pass the test of time for sure, a carbon fibre body, a crazy powerful hybrid powertrain and the interior architecture from the latest Volvo models – which I think are the best on sale. It really does tick every box apart from one – it’s only LHD but if this is a taste of what’s to come from the newly launched Polestar brand, the future is definitely bright.

Jaguar I-Pace First Edition

CW: Don’t worry, you’re not the only one to be a bit lost in Jaguars ‘pace’ range but this is the one you need to take note of. Fully electric SUV with Fantastic looks is why Jag had this thing on a big plinth at the show.  My first walk around it was a weird one, I was trying to work out which angle I liked the most! It’s a fantastic car to stare at as every time you see it you notice something new. It’s got just shy of 400hp (395hp) and even with the weight, it propels this SUV 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds.

It’s got a Fantastic torque vectoring 4-wheel drive system that can deliver up to 90% of power just to those rear wheels to give it that sports car feel and the handling with its hunkered down body compliments its sporty power and looks. The interior is typically great with double stitching on the leather, and everything is pleasing to touch. You get 2 high resolution displays in the middle (upper for sat nav / radio etc, below for heating controls) and another for the drivers display. With the ‘first edition’ you’ll get special paint, equipment and trim which gives this very special SUV, that little bit more.

TO: When this was launched I think I heard a little ‘Eek’ from Elon Musk, all the way over the sea in California. You see up until now, Tesla has had the luxury Electric SUV market all to itself with the Model X but now Jaguar has arrived with their I-Pace there’s a new kid in town and he’s got everyone staring at him. It’s got everything the enthusiastic driver wants – great looks, big range (London-Manchester on a charge) , fantastic performance and tight handling. I fully expect this to be one of the first cars to really challenge petrol engine cars in the luxury car market – there are just no downsides to the I-Pace. I really want to drive one!

Ford Mustang Bullitt

CW: On the film ‘Bullitt’s’ 50th anniversary Ford have given us this treat. The ‘Bullitt’ is based on the 2018 version of the mustang but the 5.0 V8 is upped to 458hp and gets a very special livery inspired by the classic 1968 Mustang in the classic Steve McQueen film along with the iconic green paint. You get the 19in Torque Thrust D-style wheels, red painted brake callipers and the black front grille to also pay homage to the classic.

Inside, you have Recaro seats, an awesome looking 8-ball gear knob, green stitching on the upholstery and the upgraded electronics package which gives you sat-nav, better sound system, memory seats, and a few other goodies. This could very easily turn into a bit of a collector’s edition and by its popularity at the show, I don’t expect they will hang around long!

TO: Dear Santa Claus, I’ve been a very good boy this year, so if you could see your way to delivering a lovely green Bullitt Mustang to me, with it’s glorious V8, classic muscle car looks, movie car details and amazing performance that would be gratefully appreciated. Yours sincerely, Tim Oldland, 41 and three quarters, Brentwood, UK.

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And as if that lot wasn't enough, we've delved into the murky waters that are the life of C. Williams, providing ample fodder for all his stalkers and admirers... you know who you are.....

I’d forgotten Christian had a real job. 10 minutes into our chat he breaks off with “Nath, gimme two seconds…I’ve got to do a link but I’ll be right back.”

Then, as slick as you like, the faders go down and he bursts into life. “Hi, this is Christian Williams…it’s just gone 4pm on Virgin Radio…” A few seconds later, enough for him to beautifully introduce the next song, he calmly picks the phone back up.

“Where were we?”

He’s as charming and effervescent on camera for BOTB as he is for the millions of listeners he greets every day. A degree at Portsmouth Uni saw him land a gig at Capital Radio, where he worked for six years before moving over to Virgin in 2016.

And his love of cars runs in the family.

“My uncle was always into cars and he had some lovely classics including a classic Ferrari. Dad used to work for Mercedes, running their conferences, and I often went with him to the more glamorous ones. He had a stunning SL which we drove to the south of France in.”

Christian’s early car history wasn’t quite as illustrious.

“My first car was a white 900cc Peugeot 205 with green tartan seats. It’s fair to say I was single for a while.

“But at least I got to drive it. The same couldn’t be said for a car I spent two years lusting after before finally buying. That was a Civic LSi 1.5. I drove it for two hours before crashing it. Dad slaved away fixing it and then, once it was back on the road, I drove it for a further 1.5 hours before writing it off.”

For the last two years Christian has been handing over the keys to bewildered BOTB winners and driving some pretty mean machines in between.

“It’s an incredible job and I never know where I’m going to be from one minute to the next,” he explains. “A lot of the winners merge into one but the people who stand out are the ones who get really emotional, like Belgian woman Fatima Talaiaa who let out a deafening scream when she got behind the wheel, or soldier Jake Evans who won the Ford Mustang and couldn’t stop shaking.”

If he was going to surprise himself with the car of his dreams, what would he get?

“For me it would have to be the Ferrari F40. It’s iconic in every way. The 458 is pretty close and I am a massive Ferrari fan. I like the classics but I’m a bit more of a show off and the newer stuff is my cup of tea. Having said that, the car I drove recently on BOTB TV, the AMG GTR, is awesome. Any car you can get in and it talks to you and says it can kill you is the car I want. The more monstrous the better.”

In the meantime he’s settling for his current love, the VW Golf GTE.

“It’s a great car - free congestion charge, free road tax and it means my parking permit is half price too. Add to that a feisty 200hp engine and the fact you’ll struggle to buy one these days, it all adds up to a nice little investment.”

Growing up on a farm, Christian had plenty of vehicles to play with and passed his test first time with just one minor.

“I learned all about clutch control and how to park while screaming around the fields as a kid, but what I wasn’t prepared for on the roads was that I’d be sharing the space with other drivers,” he laughs.

So how did he land the gig with BOTB?

“Good old fashioned luck and perseverance,” he smiles. “I used to play BOTB back in the day and spent all of my hard earned money every week trying to win the car of my dreams. I got to the point of looking at my shrinking bank balance and thinking I should try and earn some of this money back. I was heavily involved in social media management at the time and dropped them a line to see if they need any help. Ben, the marketing director, got in touch and we had a meeting but there wasn’t really a job. He got to know about my Cayman and a couple of months later asked if they could borrow it for a surprise.

“Six months later I’d not heard anything more and I was walking through the airport to go skiing when, just as I walked past the BOTB car, Ben rang my mobile and said Will was thinking about handing over the Tuesday reveals and would I be interested in filling the hotseat. The rest is history.”

And does he get recognised in the street thanks to his BOTB efforts?

“Yeah, it’s quite funny really. I get loads of people shouting “Oi, where’s my car!”

 

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