ITH – Spring has Sprung – the Interview {{favouriteCount}} Quantity of Likes

28 Mar 2018

Trees are blossoming, daffodils reaching up for the newly emerging sun, beautiful crisp sunny days making everything feel wonderful again.

<looks out of the window at pouring rain>

Ah, yes, I live in the UK. Anyway, this week’s ITH theme is all about Spring, so we’re featuring four fanastic convertibles. There really is nothing better than cruising around with the roof down on a sunny but not-too-warm day, down some twisty country lanes, ending up at a country pub for lunch. We reached out to Craig Neale of CraigTV to help with this week’s selections, and he’s given his thoughts below, with my ramblings added in for good measure. Enjoy!

Audi TT-RS Roadster

Craig Neale: Audi’s supercar killer is back and there’s a reason it’s affectionately given the nickname “The Baby RS”. This 400ps, all-wheel-drive, supercar killer is capable of going from 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds and does so without even needing a roof.

When I took this out around Millbrook last year I expected it to look great and feel comfortable as a daily. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was for it to give you more feedback than a secondary school teacher after eight morning coffees and to hear all five cylinders creating the road trip version of Beethoven’s symphony. Audi have certainly shaken off the TT image of old. Nowadays, the only hairdressers owning a TT-RS Roadster are those which choose peroxide as a mixer for their single malt and like leaving supercars in the dust.

Tim Oldland: Those who have seen my shiny head will know I’m not particularly knowledgeable about hairdressers. But what I do know is that most of them don’t drive Audi TT’s, especially not 400hp fire breathing RS models. The TT-RS Coupe is a staggeringly good car, which is faster than most supercars of 5yrs ago and has grip in all weather thanks to the quattro system. It also makes an incredible noise thanks to the 5-pot turbo engine, so being able to drop the roof and give unfettered access to that noise can only make the RS better.

Mercedes AMG C63S Convertible

CN: In the future, we’ll replace “ABC” in the alphabet we know and love today with the much faster, much more German and much better sounding “AMG”.

0-62mph in 4.1 seconds? No problem. The 503bhp V8 will sort that. Roof down when the weather’s good? No problem. 20 seconds is all it will take. Kids in the back? No problem. There are four seats and each is comfortable enough for them to have time to start learning the new alphabet that we’ve all agreed on.

TO: Our very own Christian Williams is a massive fan of the C63S Coupe, he drove one around Scotland on the NC500 (not jealous at all) and raved about the handling, incredible looks, great interior and fantastic performance served up by that thunderous V8. So being able to drop the roof and enjoy the wind in your (well, his) hair and hear that glorious V8 more can only be a good thing!

MG Abingdon Edition by Frontline Developments

CN: This next car screams convertible in more ways than one. Wanted to own a classic car but have been worried about the ongoing maintenance? Converted. Wanted to do 0-60mph in under four seconds in an MBG but thought it was just a pipe dream? Converted. Wanted a hand-crafted, brand new car with Wilton carpets, Connolly leather, bespoke period Smith instruments and French stitch seams all built in Oxford? Okay, perhaps you were already converted but stop looking any further as I’ve found the car for you.

On the scale of things, I’ve always leant much further towards the future of driving than classics but if one car was going to convince me, the MG Abingdon Edition could be it! Converted.

TO: Okay, I’m going to be somewhat biased here – I absolutely adore this car. If you check out our YouTube channel you’ll see a review Christian and I have done of it and we both fell in love with the old school charm mixed with modern mechanicals. You approach the Abingdon thinking it’s just am old MG, but when you start it up and hear that exhaust burbling away, then start to drive it you realise it’s anything but an old MG. There aren’t many cars that make your cheeks hurt from so much smiling but the Abingdon is certainly one of them.

Audi R8 Spyder RWS

CN: Incy Wincy’s family have just progressed to royalty level with Audi’s latest edition of their incredible R8 Spyder. It’s unlikely that you’ll be on the BOTB website without already having dreamt of one day owning an Audi R8 but let’s bring that dream into 2018 by telling you about the differences that the Spyder V10 plus RWS offers.

As the first production rear-wheel drive Audi R8, it’s 40kg lighter than the V10 Quattro Spyder, a car which when I drove it stuck to the roads like Unibond coming out of a glue gun. What’s more, it will do 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds and you’ll be one of only 999 people on planet earth to have one, and that club includes the Coupé owners as well! If I’m ever looking to trade in the Ferrari, you can bet that the club will have gained one more glasses wearing, future loving, supercar vlogger in the process.

TO: I love the R8. It’s so usable with the AWD system, has an amazing interior and has awesome edgy styling. But some people want more involvement in their supercar and for that you don’t want power going to the front wheels. They want to be left alone to deal with the simple task of steering the car, you only want power to the rear – hence the confusingly named R8 RWS (Rear Wheel Series). It’s the more ‘pure’ R8 driving experience and the weight lost from the nose certainly helps make it a more delicate driving tool. It only comes with the lower powered 532bhp V10 engine, which is more than enough, presumably because they thought that with the full 600bhp and only RWD their client base might end up in hospital. Anyway, this is the Spyder too – full access to the V10 aural assault!

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So those are the cars, but who is Craig Neale? Read on!

In many respects, Craig has always been able to conjure up the job of his dreams. While it manifested itself in a marketing job on Harry Potter - training kittens, filming owls, using wands etcetera – his powers have been put to better use since, driving all manner of dream cars for his popular YouTube channel.

But it’s thanks to his friend Carl that he is where he is today. Well, sort of.

“When I was really young my friend Carl managed to make friends with a neighbour who had just bought a 1970’s 911 and blagged us a visit to sit in the driver’s seat and rev the engine. I think that was a significant reason behind me later buying a Porsche Cayman and probably one of the reasons we’ve been friends long enough for him to make appearances on the channel.”

But when did the passion become a job?

“I’ve been really blessed with a super interesting career, from learning how to use a wand, to flying out to L.A. to surprise fellow vloggers with the Batmobile. It was my vlogging peers who convinced me to start a YouTube channel and I’ve never looked back since.

“I think the channel has been so well received because it explores a clear subject area and involves ideas that people are curious about. On Instagram, people often tell me that they watch my videos either whilst they’re charging their electric car or whilst they’re sat on the toilet; either way I’ve got their undivided attention!

“There aren’t many other places which combine the future of driving with supercars so I’m getting offers daily to take part in lots of exciting projects. I’m also due to be on French national TV this year for a documentary which I’m really excited to be able to bring people behind-the-scenes on.”

He still has some way to go to land his dream job, though.

“Elon Musk’s best friend…that’s a job, right? Okay, if that is already filled then I’d love to be the valet at Virgin Galactic’s space port. Imagine all of those electric supercars driving around owned by visionary millionaires and being at the centre of an actual space centre.

“In truth, I’m lucky enough to be able to drive some incredible cars and bring people along with me to experience it on Craig TV. One of the best at the moment would have to be the Ferrari 488 spider which Joe Sugg and I got to take out.

“Last year, I surprised my Dad with his first drive in a Ferrari 488 and filmed it all secretly in a bit of an emotional prank. Then two weeks ago I received a tweet to say that the video is up against Top Gear for the ‘Best Automotive Video’ award.”

As with all our ITH guests, we want to know how they got on in their driving test. We’re hoping, of course, for a “it took me nine attempts” but so far most have sailed through first time.

“I did pass my car test first time too but that can’t be said for my motorbike test,” he says. “I’m seriously considering filming more electric motorbikes (are they even called motorbikes if they don’t have an engine?!) but the thought of putting Tesla speed into something that weighs as much as an ironing board scares the creases out of me.”

Now Craig knows more than most what the experience of winning a car with BOTB can mean. He even got to film it.

“One of my best friends won a Porsche 718 Cayman S with BOTB. Believe me, it DOES happen. You CAN win. The full video is here and it was one of those moments that you never think will actually happen until you see somebody you know win. Which is exactly why I keep my fingers crossed for the Rimac C Two, the updated version of the electric supercar that Hammond danced off a hill with!”

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