Car vs bike: Ed Clancy takes on Skoda Rapid Spaceback
Which is best: four wheels or two? Champion cyclist Ed Clancy takes on a Skoda Rapid Spaceback to find out... Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/1hYz37l Subscribe to our YouTube channel http://bit.ly/11Ad1j1 Subscribe to the mag http://subscribe.autoexpress.co.uk/yt Which is better: four wheels or two? In the world of online videos, the answer is both. On YouTube, car vs bike videos are hugely popular -- our film of a BMW M5 racing against BMW's S1000RR motorcycle has attracted nearly five million views. So when Skoda offered us some time with its brand ambassador -- double Olympian and professional cyclist Ed Clancy MBE -- we thought another car vs bike video was in order... even if the bike in question would be human-powered. The plan was to film a race along part of the route of the second stage of Britain's leg of the 2014 Tour de France, which is set to run from York to Sheffield on 6 July. During our initial plans, we envisaged a cinematographic masterpiece -- a battle of man against machine beautifully shot against the dramatic backdrop of awe-inspiring Pennine landscape contrasting with stunning, cool-blue winter skies. But things never go to plan, especially where the English weather is concerned. In fact, the conditions were so bad that we almost abandoned the shoot entirely. In the end, it became one of the toughest tests of our cameramen, myself and even Ed -- a man used to braving the elements on a bicycle and performing under the spotlight at the very highest level. The day would also be a test for our equipment. Tripods were blown over by the wind, batteries were drained faster by the bitter cold and one camera suffered serious water damage and gave up the ghost just an hour into filming. Still, as they say, the show must go on. By the end of the shoot, we would all be soaked to the bone. Even me -- and I spent most of my time in a car. So spare a thought for Ed, dressed only in lycra, pedalling head-on into sleet and in real danger of suffering from hypothermia. But not once did he complain. It's at times like this that you realise just how much grit and determination being an Olympic champion requires. So who came up with this crazy idea? We blame Skoda. Its association with bikes dates back to 1895, when company founders Vaclav Laurin and Vaclav Klement joined forces and began manufacturing bicycles in their home town of Mlada Boleslav in the Czech Republic. And we wanted to do something to mark this. Cycling has remained an important area for Skoda to support over the years. It's not only a partner of the Tour de France, but also Italy's version -- the Giro d'Italia -- plus the World Road Championships. In addition, the company sponsors Ed's Rapha Condor-JLT team. Of course, it doesn't just keep its toe in the cycle market, as you can still buy Skoda-branded bicycles today, and they are very good. However, for our video Ed would be on his own Condor racing bike. After all, if he was going to be racing a car he would require the familiarity of his own equipment. That car would be a Rapid Spaceback, chosen largely because it's the latest model to be added to the Skoda line-up. Thankfully, the manufacturer had the good sense to send us a red one; when filming, colour is often more important than engine choice or trim level -- especially when the skies turn grey, which they invariably do in the UK. Pitstop Our race would take place on a three-mile section of road near the village of Cragg Vale, W Yorks. But while Ed is fast, with all the will in the world he would never be able to beat a car in a straight road race, even though I would use the Rapid's cruise control to ensure I didn't exceed the 50mph speed limit. So, to make things fair, we came up with the following premise: we'd both start the race without a front wheel. Ed would have to remove his Condor from the back of the Rapid and refit its front wheel, while I'd taken the nearside front wheel off the Skoda -- leaving the car on its jack -- and placed it in the boot next to Ed's bike. The time it would take me to refit the front wheel should give Ed a sufficient head start for a fighting chance, we figured -- especially as my wheel-fitting skills are quite a long way from those of a Formula One pit crew. With Ed capable of averaging between 25mph and 30mph on his bike, if I took too long fumbling with the wheel, the race would be over even before I got in the car. Actually, it was almost over even before it even began. We mimicked a Le Mans start, but I slipped on the sleet-covered road as I ran to get the wheel out of the boot and fell flat on my face. I only hope the crew warmed themselves up by laughing so hard. Thankfully, Ed is a sportsman, and while he was keen to point out that he managed to stay upright even though his cycling shoes have as much grip as ice, he allowed me a restart. You can watch the video above to find out what happened.
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Lamborghini LP570-4 Superleggera takes on the Aprilia RSV4 Superbike
Audi RS6 vs Ducati 1199 Panigale R - car vs bike track battle
Audi now owns Ducati, so we decided to race the brands' most powerful models, the Audi RS6 and the Ducati 1199 Panigale R. Subscribe to our YouTube channel http://bit.ly/11Ad1j1 Subscribe to the mag http://subscribe.autoexpress.co.uk/yt Audi now owns Ducati - so we thought it'd be fun to have a track battle between the most powerful Audi you can order and the most powerful Ducati you can order. The 1199 Panigale R has a 1.2-litre V-Twin with 195bhp. There is an even hotter Superlegera version but it’s sold out, so this R is the most powerful Ducati you can buy. The Audi RS6 has a 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 with 560hp – that’s 10 horses more than an R8 V10 Plus, which is why we have chosen the estate for this track battle. Auto Express’s Owen Mildenhall will be in the RS6 while Alastair Fagan from Fast Bikes magazine will be on the Panigale. With 1032bhp per tonne the Ducati did 0-60mph in 3.2 seconds and the standing quarter in 10.5 seconds compared to 4.3 and 12.4 seconds for the 289bhp per tonne Audi. The bike clearly ruled in a straight line- but let’s see what happens when we add some corners... For a two-tonne car it's pretty impressive. It's got loads of grip, and the fact that the fan was still going a long time after we finished the race is an indication of how tightly packaged everything is under this bonnet, with a big V8 in there. There's loads of grip and massive straight-line performance. It's not the most thrilling car to drive on track because you can't really do much with it, it's not very adjustable. It just grips and that's it. You can't disable the stability control either, but there's no doubting it's really fast. The bike feels fast no matter what you do and no matter how fast you ride it, you always think you'll come back to a lap record - but as proven in the past it's not always correct. On this occasion, the bike beat the car - but in the car's defence, there's one thing you can do with it that you can't do with the bike: take the whole crew out for a hot lap!
Subaru WRX STi vs Audi S3 Saloon
Does the new Subaru WRX STi live up to its predecessors - and can it match the new Audi S3 Saloon? Subscribe to our YouTube channel http://bit.ly/11Ad1j1 Subscribe to the mag http://subscribe.autoexpress.co.uk/yt The Subaru WRX STi and Audi S3 Saloon may not seem like obvious rivals, but both have the same power output and distant rally heritage to call upon for their performance kudos. At £33,245 with a six-speed manual gearbox, the Audi S3 is more expensive than the Subaru, but the £28,995 WRX clearly doesn't have the premium badge and upmarket cabin of its Audi rival. With 407Nm, the Subaru has a fraction more torque than the 380Nm Audi, but it's where that torque arrives that really makes the difference. In the Subaru you've got to wait until 4,000rpm to get peak torque, whereas in the punchy Audi it arrives at just 1,800rpm. These cars have got very different characters. There was a time when we thought the new WRX wasn't going to come to the UK but fast Subaru fans can relax - it's finally here. In an age when cars are accused of all looking and feeling the same, there's no doubting that a WRX doesn't feel or look like anything else on the road. Performance car fans will forgive the Subaru's cabin because this car is all about the driving experience and if you've driven a WRX before then this new car will feel very familiar. First of all the boxer engine sounds the same, you've got that unique sound from about 4,000rpm as you start to work it hard. You've got a gearbox that's got quite a short shift on each change, with a slightly notchy, quite mechanical feel, and the steering is very fast but at the same time quite light - which can be a bit disconcerting. It's also got quite aggressive self-centring, but once you get used to it you realise that that's a contributing factor to what makes this car feel so agile. This is a car that you really will enjoy on the average British road. The first thing you notice is when you get into the Audi S3 is the upmarket interior is in a different league to the Subaru. It's a real contrast to the dated cabin of the Subaru. The driving experience is completely different, too. Where the Subaru is really vigorous all the time, the Audi is very relaxed: it drives like any other well-sorted fast Audi. But the performance is there: it's got the same power as the Subaru's engine. In the Audi you've got really instant power all the time so you don't feel like you've got to work the engine so hard. And the handling's pretty accomplished as well. The steering's not as sharp and the way that the diffs work is not as aggressive but there's plenty of traction, decent body control and the car turns in nicely. It's not a thrilling car on a road like this but it's just very accomplished. Off the line, both cars have superb traction, but the Audi is nearly 100Kg lighter than the Subaru, and that shows by the time we reach 60mph. The S3 punches to 60 in 5.4 seconds, whereas the Subaru is 2 tenths behind at 5.6 seconds. So which car comes out on top in our test? Well, Subaru fans will love the sound of the WRX's boxer engine and the car's unique character. But the Audi has a much nicer cabin, it was faster in the drag race and it's a nicer car to live with day-to-day. Yes, it's more expensive, but if you want a fast, comfortable and stylish performance saloon, the Audi S3 is the one for us.