ITH – Unusual Suspects Volume 2 {{favouriteCount}} Quantity of Likes

25 Jan 2018

We do like a slightly unusual car here at BOTB and the last time we did an ITH of left-field cars it was one of them that was won – and made me very happy in the process as it was a Skoda Octavia vRS (same as I own). So we thought it’s a good idea to go a bit odd again, but only keep one of the old cars. To help us with the decision we turned to seasoned motoring journalist and Editor of The Sun’s Digital Motors, Joe Finnerty. Joe and I both give our views on the cars he’s chosen below:

Urban RR Sport Velar

Joe Finnerty: I recently drove a Velar for the first time and was bowled over by how modern and plush it seemed inside compared to other Land Rover cars that can be a little old-fashioned sometimes. The Urban bodykit will surely be a hit with those who want to look stylish and travel in ultimate comfort.

Tim Oldland: Ever wonder what Darth Vader would drive if he had to take little Luke and Leia on the school run? Wonder no more, the Urban Velar is here! So menacing, it’s covered in lovely carbon fibre, rides on lovely 23-inch alloys and is powered by a supercharged V6 petrol engine so it can easily outrun those pesky rebel scum – what’s not to love?!

Mercedes Marco Polo Camper

JF: I'm not really a camping fan to be honest - but if I was forced to spend time in a field I'd want the Marco Polo. Kitchen, sofa, charging points...sign me up for a week in the Lake District with it.

TO: Yep, I think I’d have a really hard time choosing between this Merc and the similarly priced VW California Ocean. The VW has the ‘cool’ factor with the two tone paint and heritage, but then you look inside the Marco Polo and it’s bigger, has seriously upmarket furniture and a very comfy double bed, plus the typical outstanding Mercedes dashboard meaning you get extreme comfort and luxury alongside amazing practicality and living accommodation. Very much looking forward to trying one!

Dodge Charger Hellcat

JF: I drove a similar Dodge out in Las Vegas in SEMA and they're heaps of fun with raw power on tap. I love an America muscle car and the Hellcat is pretty much top of the tree.

TO: It’s a BMW 5-Series sized saloon car, fairly sedate in looks, with lots of interior space and a big boot. All sounds fairly normal so far – until you mention the fact that under that bonnet sits a 6.2 litre supercharged V8 which produces a staggering 707hp. In a fully warranted family saloon car! Thanks to better aerodynamics, it’s also faster than the engine-sharing Challenger brother too, topping out at 204mph. And you can get the lovely alloys in a bronze shade called ‘Brass Monkeys’ – who doesn’t love that?!

Hyundai i30N Performance

JF: When Hyundai said it was building a performance hot hatch a lot of people probably laughed but the motoring press have gone absolutely wild for this. BMW's ex-chief engineer helped tune it and seems to have a done a stellar job. (was that a Hyundai pun? Approved! - Ed)

TO: There’s a reason why the motoring press have gone wild for the i30N – it’s absolutely brilliant! Doing what nobody thought was possible, Hyundai has created a hot hatch that is every bit as good to drive as the Golf GTi, looks fantastic and even sounds great. You also get 271bhp in this Performance version meaning proper performance is under your right foot. Look past the badge and the i30N is one of the greatest hot hatches out there, you’d be foolish to miss out.


Sun Motors is one of the paper’s most popular sections and is as screamingly tabloid as the rest of the content.

Which is why Joe Finnerty loves it so much, especially as throughout his career he’s been able to combine his passion for cars with another passion – travel.

“I’ve been on some pretty incredible features and was lucky enough to travel around. Drag racing in Las Vegas, recreating the famous Back to the Future poster with the DeLorean and going to the Arctic Circle to drift on ice stand out as great moments.

“In recent memory, I got behind the wheel of the Jaguar XJ 575 which was a real highlight. It's absolutely bonkers but so much fun.”

Talking of memories, Joe can go right back to his booster seat to remember his first motoring cue.

“It's hard to recall exactly but I certainly remember having one of those toy steering wheels so you can pretend to drive next to your parents while you're in a booster seat.

“Growing up there was a 1990s Ford Escort and the boxy VW Golf that stand out as ferrying me to and from school. My dad has cycled through most cars in his time with the Audi A6 before they were popular a highlight - it was like a tank!”

When did you get seriously into cars?

“My dad has always been into cars, having tinkered with them as an engineer so I've always been around them. I visited motor shows with him from a fairly early age and loved the touring cars at Brands Hatch. We used to go to watch banger racing at Wimbledon, too.

“It was only when I started in journalism that it became apparent motoring could by my specialism, though, covering McLaren at a local paper first before moving to Auto Express and onto The Sun.”

Is there any motoring job he’d love in particular?

“Being website editor for such a huge national publication is pretty good to be fair but I'd love to have a crack at racing in some capacity if I could dream.”

Living in London, Joe has to put up with the opposite – crawling round the city stuck in varying degrees of traffic. Luckily, he’s more reliant on public transport.

“Living in fairly central London I don't currently own a car as it's just too expensive but I do drive Press cars to review which is great having such a variety. I have owned two Renault Clios in my time, the first was written off by someone ignoring right of way at a roundabout. Clios get a bad rep at times but they were great for what I needed.”

I assume, therefore, he passed his test first time?

“Sadly I did not! I failed first time after getting a major for pulling away from the side of the road when someone was too close behind. I maintain that I got stitched up by the other driver who didn't slow down and tailgated me making it look much worse.

“I also disliked the examiner and by chance ended up with him on my retake, too. Fortunately he passed me the second time. I think the car was a Hyundai Getz.”

We speak with a lot of journalists on In The Headlights and because they’re enabled to drive some of the world’s best cars, it’s always intriguing to see what they would pick if they had a money-no-object choice.

“If BOTB were to pull up to my house with the car of my dreams, I would have to say it would be some type of Aston Martin. I've always loved the DB9 but I think the new models are stunning, too. Understated style rather than a lairy Lambo or Ferrari for sure.”


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