‘like driving a car that has chlamydia’

Notice the sound when you lift off… It’s like a dinosaur chortling, like you’ve just told it a funny joke. Not a very funny joke, he’s not laughing, he’s going “haha…” It’s just politely chuckling. That’s what it is… It’s a dinosaur, politely chuckling.
– Mercedes Benz CLK 63 AMG Black Series


This is a million times better than the old 911 turbo convertible. Mind you, that isn’t saying much, because other things that are a million times nicer than the old car include tuberculosis and being on fire, stuff like that.
– Porsche 997 Convertible


Really, it is like driving a car that has chlamydia. There are no symptoms, but you know it’s there, and that, sort of, spoils the relationship a little bit.
– Audi R8 Convertible


When they debate as to what the sound of the SLR engine was akin to, the British engineers from McLaren said it sounded like a Spitfire. But the German engineers from Mercedes said “Nein! Nein! Sounds like a Messerschmitt!” They were both wrong. It sounds like the God of Thunder, gargling with nails.

All the organs in my body that were pushed to the back when I accelerated have now shot forward again. My tonsils are now in front of my front teeth!
– McLaren Mercedes SLR


The Jaguar XK is eight years old now, and in here it’s starting to feel its age. It’s made of all kinds of things from the far end of the periodic table. There’s been a bit of dental work up front, a bit of botox here, a bit of liposuction there, and the old girl looks like she was born yesterday.

“We haven’t discussed the BWM.”
“It’s boring. It’s like Munich. It is, if you think about it. If you go to Munich, get a fantastic hotel, the place looks great, it’s clean and tidy, the services are good, the food is great, the lot of it. You come home, and you never think, ‘Wish I was still in Munich.’”
– during a three-way comparison between a BMW, a Jag & a Porsche

So yes, in every scientific and mathematical way, this is better than the Ferrari 458. It’ll even do 30 miles to the gallon. But there’s something missing, something that can’t be measured, something you can’t really put your finger on. There’s no… zing.
The factory where the McLaren is made is like a laboratory. It’s quiet, ordered. A magnesium and titanium Trappist world where perfection isn’t quite good enough. It’s very nice. But you can’t imagine anyone here has ever put a whoopie cushion on the managing director’s chair. You sense this lack of joy when you are behind the wheel.
When you drive a Lamborghini, it’s like you’re operating a horse with some mustard stuck up its bottom. But when you drive this it’s like you’re operating the sort of machine they use, I imagine, in opthalmic surgery.
There’s nothing wrong with it, but there’s no art.

– McLaren MP4-12C

And that’s really why I love the British Top Gear. It is unapologetically opinionated, the hosts’ passion for cars is palpable through the screen; they are unashamed of writing off a car because it drives too well and doesn’t give a sense of danger; the show doesn’t reduce a car to mere numbers. Every other car show I’ve seen pales in comparison – they’re all just insipid and/or vulgar.


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