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L´Anneau du Rhin – sport auto Best Handling Car 2020For the 5th time in a row we crown our handling king.

This time we have 9 sportscars from different classes How do we define the term “Handling”?We define it as the behaviour of a car in corners.

But it´s not only the cornering speed that counts, rather the way how the car drives around a corner.

balanced and smooth, does it put up a fight or does it give you confidence.

All that affects the driving dynamics.

But handling is essentially just a part of the driving dynamics.

The way to good performance or driving dynamics is handling.

One important point is, that handling isn´t measurable.

You can´t express it solely with numbers We tried that at our first best handling car – test and quickly realised that this didn´t work.

And since we are comparing different cars with different levels of performance we thought we could compare handling isolated from the power of a car, by choosing a small and winding track with lots of corners.

With ideas how to do so, we did get the problem that acceleration starts mid-corner, and so the enginelayout affects the handling already at the apex.

To much power can mess up your handling completely.

For us, handling is very closely related to driving enjoyment.

It´s not something you can explain just with lap times or with other data alone.

It´s the fun while driving the car.

Handling is subjective.

And that´s the way how we reviewed these cars and how it meets our sport auto definition of handling.

Also I think the term of handling is changing in these times.

Because cars have a lot of systems these days which make them behave and handle like they do.

There are cars in this test which drive a lot better than they actually would do.

A good example ist the Mercedes-AMG A45 S And the Audi S7 Sportback.

Both are to heavy and unbalanced to be a sports car in their class.

But thanks to their technology both have ways to trick the physics and their bodys.

The best example for this “advantage through technology” is the Mercedes-AMG A45 S which manages to drive sideways with its all-wheel-drive system and therefore generates a neutral handling.

That stands totally in contradiction to its layout with its engine up front over the front axle and so a really top heavy balance.

I thank you can say that this sort of system allready exists, like in the Ford Focus RS MK3.

I think these systems, like the awd in the a-class, work very well for the most part of it.

The point is, that you have to know that they are there and and that you as the drive, have active and rely on through your driving.

You have to know how the system reacts to certain inputs, and how the car will react.

When you know how the system will react and how the car will behave in the corneror on the corner exit, than you really can use them to be faster and they improve the agility of the car.

With the different driving modes you can adjust the car to your driving style.

Be it very wild going sideways with the drift-mode or more conventionally.

So you can suit the car for your taste, you get more “characters” in one car and you don´t have one fixed setup like it was in the oldern days where your setup was fixed through your suspension setup.

You don´t like the A-class, right? No.

That´s why it´s hard for me to tell you something about driving fun with this car.

But why you don´t like it? I have to say, i like it a lot!Actually, I have to disagree.

I don´t think the drift-mode is to wild.

glaube sogar dass es dass man da nochI think even in drift-mode you can find a good balance that you have a good mix of fun and good performance.

And the most important point It´s fun without regret.

You can´t do nothing wrong.

You have to drive like an absolute idiot to go off track, normally the car doesn´t spin.

Unlike a rear-wheel-drive car, which would be a handful with this short wheelbase Is all the malarky in the A-Class perfectly controllable, thanks to the awd-system.

If you do take it over the edge, you just have to lift of the accelerator and the car behaves like every other front-wheel-drive hatchback.

I think that is a great and fascinating combination of two completly different personalities which you can use.

But Uwe likes it pure.

Pure and wild! And that´s the McLaren 600 LT.

The McLaren is super real and pure! So much, that it probably can get too wild.

Yes it can get too wild, but it´s super real and pure.

But the car gives you incredible feedback.

But you should never forget, it´s light and that there are 600 HP hitting the rearaxle.

You can easily spin up to 4th gear if you apply to much power.

You have to be easy on the throttle But thanks to the feedback of the car it is relatively good to handle.

And that is the point.

As we said at the beginning, that this test isn´t about performance it is about handling.

And the McLaren is a good example for our claim.

The performance of the car is incredible.

like the whole engineering behind the car.

It is a pure performance car.

But, handlingwise as we define it, it is relatively good to handle.

The operative word is relatively.

You have to be cautious and not cocky.

In defense, we have to say that this whole handling test takes place in the early months of winter because of availability of the track and the planning of our issue.

But that means the temperatures are low, it can be a bit wet and the cars partly wear semi-slick tyres Which are compulsory for the Mclaren.

Then there is the tracklayout.

It is a relatively slow track.

So all aerodynamics can´t live up to the full potential.

Especially in the case of the McLaren, which drives a bit below its potential.

For a high-performance car with this engine-layout, in this case, it is relatively easy to handle.

For a mid-engined car it is very good to handle.

Compared to a car with half the HP and half the torque, which is way more easy to handle and so more fun to the majorety of people, The McLaren is only relatively good to handle.

Because it can get very stressfull very quickly.

You can like that, but you don´t have to.

I like this kind of handling a lot.

The funny thing is, that this whole lightweight-hardcore thing is also available in the class of the hot-hatches.

What a crazy car the Megane Trophy-R is! Over 80.

000 euro for a front-wheel-drive car! But one like it probably has never existed before.

Carbon-Ceramic brakes, optional carbon fibre wheels.

extrem lightweight design.

No rear seats and so on, even the rear wiper has been deleted, to safe the last 20 gramm or so? or 150g, I don´t know.

But that shows how crazy this car is.

But it drives wonderful! It drives wonderful if you show up with a little bit of time and the right tools, Because of the adjustable Suspension.

That´s another aspect in Handling.

Handling isn´t necessarily a fixed setup.

Through your suspension-setup you can dial in a lot of different handling-characters.

Especially on the Trophy-R.

You can give the car a tame and safe handling or you can set it up amazingly wild.

Then there is the tire pressure of course.

Which really is something that does the affect the Trophy-r extremely.

You can change the handling a lot by only giving it 0, 2 bar more or less at the front or the rear.

Also, the damper-setup itself makes a difference on the Meganes handling.

Maybe not as much as on the A-Class, where it is all adjusted electronically On the Megane it is adjusted mechanically.

So once you have done your setup, thats the setup you drive.

No adjustments while driving.

But that gives the car a honest and agile character.

The Trophy-R shows, what is possible with a front-wheel-drive layout.

Especially in combination with the limited slip differential and the semi-slick tyres.

Which sadly can´t impress that much because of the low temperatures.

It is impressive how the car handles and above all that, how much fun it is.

I remember jumping into the car like “yeah, easy, it is a megane after all”, did warm up the tires a bit, entered the S-section of the of the track and did expect to be able to give it full throttle in the middle of the left-hander to the corner exit because i thought the diff will sort it out, when suddenly you´re countersteering like that because of the cars setup we did with the Renault colleagues shortly before.

And that was the point when you realize, that this Megane has become such an agile thing.

Yeah but that was how i wanted the setup of the car to be and what i told them.




If you drive it like a classic fwd-hot-hatch which will tend to understeer, The Megane can get quite stressful with its rear end.

You have to stay on the throttle.

Especially in this tight S-section of the track.

Yeah, the Megane is fun! Small criticism is the ABS-setup of the Megane which does not always regulate as sensible as it could do.

I thank that is a point where they probably cut the costs so it stays below 100k€.

If you know it, it is ok, but i think it could step in to action a bit more sensibly.

So the price is steep, but it costs as much as an A45 with optional extras.

The price of our A45 presscar was with all the infotainment and other luxurys over or around 80.

000€ as well.

You could say that is cheeky in the hot-hatch class.

But on the other hand, you get two very exclusive cars for your money.

What definitively is not the caseis that you could buy a GTI and get the same sort of car.


The premium over a regular hot-hatch is clear and can be felt.

The question arises, if you´re not better off paying a bit more and buy a Porsche Cayman GT4.

a, and I don´t mean that in a negative way, real sportscar.

The concept of the Cayman GT4 is great.

You get a 4.

0-Litre naturally aspirated engine, a great manual gearbox which ratios are a little bit to long, sadly.

A really nice sounding engine! And a fantastic handling, albeit it being a tame handling.

For the Cayman, it is similarly difficult to make an overall judgment for its handling.

Like the Megane, the cayman has got adjustable coilovers and therefore it depends on its setup.

If you take the standard setup out of the factory it tends to understeer, for safety reasons, but that also kills a bit of fun.

And in between these setups, a lot is possible.

The cayman is a very good example for showing how driving dynamics, handling and performance are connected to each other.

We drove the Cayman GT4 a lot in other tests and in this one.

We always liked the car but were never fully impressed.

Coming back to our definition of handling, we looked at the laptimes of the cayman and his relatively tame handling and were amazed that in the corners, which we take out of the laptimes for our evaluation, it was faster than the McLaren 600LT.

I think that shows that we did a good classification for this test.

Of course, the McLaren has the overall faster Laptime but if you look at the times from the different sectors of the track, The cayman beats the McLaren in the corners.

only just, but faster is faster.

That confirms what we said about the McLaren.

That you think twice before applying the power on the cornerexit.

You have to know what your doing.

The Cayman compared to the McLaren is a lot easier to handle and if you have your line right, you can step fully on the throttle for the corner exit Because the Cayman will not move with its tail because it is so planted.

So it is more a performance car than a car for just having some fun.

Unlike in the McLaren where you can´t drive without hesitation in these conditions.

Without hesitation – a good cue for the BMW M8.

What a giant.

a giant with heated armrests, what i think is great.

So your very fast while getting extremly pampered.

What a strange combination which has its charm.

The M8 is also an example for this newly developed schizophrenia where you have multiple characters in one car.

Like the M5, the M8 is also all-wheel-drive now which at first sounds like you can´t have any fun in the car.

Th M8 is a car that is very easy to drive fast.

So you´re at first glance you think, everythings fine with the awd.

But it doesn´t feel like a reel M-powered BMW.

I also think it is incredible how relaxed the M8 is to handle, although it has 650 hp.

Out of all the cars here it is the easiest to drive fast.

despite of the 800 newtonmeters of torque.

You get the feeling that the car drives on rails, if you are in the awd-mode.

But you can feel that the electronics limit the power a bit on corner exit.

At least i don´t think that the car gives you the full torque when you go on the throttle out of a corner.

I think it gets regulated depending on your steering angle and lateral acceleration so it is easier to handle.

That of course can spoil your fun with the car, if you like it the typical M-way, wild and sideways On the other Hand, take an objective look at it and you have to admit it is engineered to perfection.

Against the first thought, i think you can definitely feel the M-BMW when you drive it.

The steering, which is adjustable and a matter of taste, is typical M.

Also, a first for M-cars, the M8 brakes are operated via a brake-by-wire system.

So your brake pedal feel is artificially created.

They developed a special curve for a linear pedal feel.

All that works great, but the car loses some finesse through all the electronics.

The electronic interaction and the intelligence of the awd-system and how it works together with the engine allows the car not just to have this one personality focused on performance.

By the push of a button, you get back the oldschool M-car behavior.

There is the two-wheel-drive mode.

In that mode the car disconnects the front axle and you get power to the rear only.

And then you don´t get the impression that the electronic cuts power.

You get the full power and that inevitably leads to some sideways action.

Of course, we did test that extensively in our duty as car journalists.

But, as we are talking about electronics, multi personalitys in a car and dynamics that don´t seem logical, the Audi S7 Sportback stands as a perfect example, i think.

To be honest, i insisted on having the Audi in this test, with a lot of critics from my colleagues Why you looking at me?I´m just looking around.



Because everyone asked if i had lost my mind, taking a 2 ton diesel powered car to this test.

But! For me personally, this car is one of the biggest surprises in this configuration because it is a diesel and very heavy, but it has got electronics that make it drive like it normally should and can´t do.

The problem here is the same as on the A45, you have to know how to use and implement the systems in your driving style.

You can have way more fun with this new awd system in combination with its four wheel steering than in previous Audis.

It works really well and helps the car to get a better laptime and better dynamics.

For such a big steamer it goes well around corners.

The problem is, as i said, that this way of handling is completely unnatural and not inherent to the car.

And that is how you have to drive the car.

We had two completely different driving styles.

Uwe drove the car in a typical way for a awd Audi.

Going Slow into corners and drive along the limits of grip.

And as soon as you´re sure not to understeer, apply more throttle.

On the other hand, you also can drive the S7 a bit more agressive.

Steering wild into the corner and at the point where you think it would understeer it will not and you can go on the throttle and give it more steering angle, because the system detects you are in a hurry and shifts the car into a slight oversteering angle.

That is not necessarily faster but it is unbelievable good fun.

Why didn´t we bring an RS7? It was simply to early.

Testcars were handed out way after we did this test.

And, since we drove the RS7 our experience is that it is of course faster and does everything better under the perspective of performance.

But handlingwise it is a lot more tame than the S7.

The S7 is way more fun thanks to its body role and less grip.

It always slides a bit.

Yes, it loses a bit of driving performance and dynamics, but on the other hand you have more fun.

Another candidate with an active awd system like the Audi, M8 or the A45, is the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio His handicap is of course its weight and his height as it is an SUV.

It trys its best but in this test with all the other sports- and performance cars, its left standing.

It is but there is a good reason this car is in this test.

We try to cover all classes and we had an outstanding experience with an italian SUV last year.

The Lamborghini Urus.

The Urus.

Which left us a bit bewitched.

a little bit indeed.

And the Alfa is driving down a similar route but doesn´t get close to the Urus.

Well i think the Alfa drives a bit like the Audi, if you drive it like a typical awd car.

You don´t want to be to fast for the corner entrance, but if you give it grip you can go on the throttle early and it drives neutral with a slight tendency to oversteer out of the corner.

Sometimes it hops a bit, which depends on the tyre pressure.

For me, the Alfa Stelvio drove better than i expected it to.

The Alfa also reminds as of another aspect of handling.

Handling is something that you can find not only on the track but also while driving daily to the shops.

And that is where the Stelvio gets a bit difficult because it feels frantic.

Thats because the steering is so direct which stands in contradiction to the whole car.

You would expect this kind of steering in a race car but not in an SUV.

It is a matter of habit.

But you are suprised if take place behind the wheel for the first time.

You would not expect such a sharp steering.

And another point of criticism is the feedback from the brakes.

The Stelvio has a brake by wire system as well.

But the italien engineers seem to have other philosophies for the setup.

A slight tip on the brake pedal and the car nearly does a emergency stop, thats what it feels like.

You can adapt to it, but if you change from another car, you will be suprised at first.

Dallara Stradale.

What a car! Not exactly a street car as such.

It is a race car with the possibility to use it on the road.

a tracktool.

Very focused on track.

At the beginning of the car was a monocoque and and aerodynamic concept.

Everything else was developed around that.

The engine comes from Ford.

Basicly the 4-cylinder enginge from the current Mustang.

In the Dallara it has 400 hp and was choosen because it perfectly fits in the shallow engine bay.

That sounds like we disrespect the engine, but that is not the case.

The engine is good.

But even better is the weight.

it is around 800 kilo in one out of its three configurations.

There is an optional roof for the dallara through which you can transform the car to a “coupé”.

That roof of course adds a bit of weight.

That´s why we did get the lightweight open top version.

much to the “joy” of us two, because it where 3°C and less.

Because of the open top configuration you have to drive it with a helmet.

You really need to get used to the whole experience.

Thanks to the lightweight the 400 hp, which would be not extremly much in a modern Sportscar you get this kind of power in nearly evere car layout.

A45 and so on.

But 400hp combined with 800 kilo, makes you feel like there are 6-700 hp.

That is formidable.

For me, the most difficult thing was to get the shifting right.

Since you´re driving with a helmet and no windscreen you have to watch the revcounter, because the wind cancels out all the engine noise.

You have to watch the revcounter and for me, that takes a bit of driving fun away.

I like to hear the engine.

Well, the dallara really is a focused track-/racecar.

It is unfiltered and very direct.

Funny thing is, it is relative tame handlingwise.

That´s right.

I think the circumstances where not right for the car.

It was good to have it in this lineup.

It was something completely different.

But the usp of the dallara is its aero.

It´s said to be on the level of a McLaren Senna in terms of downforce.

That would be 800 kilos of downforce.

And on this small track with narrow curves, the aerodynamics can´t deploy the full potential.

In this tracklayout of Anneau we do have exactly one fast corner, In all the other sections and corners you drive below 100 kph.

And that is a bit tricky for the Dallara.

We have the low outsite temperatures and the low weight of the car, so it is very hard to get some temperature into the tires.

So the car is missing the basic grip from the tires and the pressure from the aero.

It´s like a sandwich, sticky underside and pressure from above so that the car is working perfectly.

Both things were taken away a bit by our tracklayout, the conditions and so on.

Concerning laptimes, concerning handling, we put the Dallara in a cage.

It drove way down below its potential.

The car needs a bit more temperature, fast corners, a wider racetrack.

We will do another test, possibly in Hockenheim, to show the full potential of the car.

The L´Anneau du Rhin track doesn´t suit the car.

The circumstances were the same for every car in this test, the track is slow one, which we chose on purpose.

And still the Dalara clocked the fastest laptime overall.

But in the corners it was a little bit slower than the Cayman GT4.

One small problem we discovered, were the brakes.

They are relatively small dimensioned, because of the whole lightweight concept of the car.

Even for this small and narrow track, we thought the brakes were a bit to small.

We did have a little bit of fading.

The brake pedal did get a litte bit longer.


July 22, 2020



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