Metro Weekly

Medals for Motors

Russia treats Olympic winners to Mercedes, as Koenigsegg launches a high-speed rocket and Nissan kindly remembers the masses

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What did you get the last time you won an award? A certificate? Maybe a medal? A nice bouquet? For athletes competing in the Olympics, the awards they receive usually extend beyond the medal they could potentially win. For U.S. athletes lucky enough to place on the podium in Sochi this year, the incentives were strong: $10,000 for bronze, $15,000 for silver and a cool $25,000 for those talented enough to score gold. Of course, those winnings are subject to up to 39 percent tax by Uncle Sam, but that’s a conversation for another day. For Russian athletes who brought a medal back from Sochi, the incentives were, shall we say, just a little bit better.

Score a bronze medal? Moscow will hand you $52,000. Bring home a silver? Well done, enjoy $76,000. Go for gold and succeed? Time to celebrate, as you’ve also secured $120,000. Russia, in total, handed out a cool $2,864,000 to athletes for the 13 gold, 11 silver and nine bronze medals Russian athletes won on home turf. But that’s not all.

Not quite content with showering winners in money, Russia also bestowed upon each medal winner a brand new Mercedes-Benz SUV. Bronze medalists were handed the keys to a GLK-Class, worth $59,500 in Russia; silver medalists drove home in a new ML-Class, worth $99,500; and gold medalists took home Merc’s biggest car, the seven-seat GL-Class SUV, worth $146,500. That’s more than $3.5 million in German engineering. The SUVs were provided by the nonprofit organization Russian Olympics Foundation, which also granted cars to Russian medalists at London’s 2012 summer Olympic Games — those athletes drove home in brand new Audis, complete with personal drivers. Somehow makes the U.S. Olympic Committee’s taxable $25,000 prize for gold seem rather insignificant, doesn’t it?

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SWEDISH SUPERCAR manufacturer Koenigsegg is celebrating its 20th birthday this year, and it has made itself one hell of a birthday present. Not content with building some of the world’s fastest cars — the CC8S, CCR, CCXR and the Agera — Koenigsegg decided to aim for the top spot: the fastest car. Set to receive its official unveiling at this year’s 2014 Geneva Motor Show, the Agera One:1 will be the first production car, according to Koenigsegg, with one megawatt of power. What’s that in horses? Try 1,341 horsepower. As for the name, One:1, that directly correlates to the Agera’s power-to-weight ratio. At 1,341 kilograms (just under 3,000 pounds), the Agera produces one horsepower for every kilogram of body mass. The Bugatti Veyron, currently world’s fastest production car, uses 1,200hp to shift 1,838 kilograms (over 4,000 pounds) — a power-to-weight ratio of only 0.55hp for every 1 kilogram of weight. This, Koenigsegg claims, gives credence to naming the Agera One:1 the “world’s first megacar.”

Its specs list is certainly pretty mega. A 5.0-liter V8 produces those 1,341 horses, along with 1,011 pound-feet of torque, all running through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox to the rear wheels. Keeping it stuck to the road are tires rated for cornering forces over two Gs and a rear wing that pushes 1,345 pounds worth of downforce onto the car at speeds of 160mph. That downforce comes courtesy of an active rear wing and independent left and right front flaps. The car electronically monitors its ride height, dampers and springs to ensure stability at speed, and can use the onboard GPS to predict road conditions ahead and prepare accordingly. That’s not all the space-age tech: There’s variable geometry turbos in custom 3D-printed housings, a 3D-printed titanium exhaust, an active wireless data connection that relays information from the car to an iPhone app and a simulated top speed of 273mph.

It’s simulated, as the Koenigsegg will never be officially tested to see if it can break the Veyron’s 264mph world record — only six models will be produced (all spoken for, so stop auctioning off your possessions) and Koenigsegg says it is primarily a road-legal “track focused car.” One thing’s for sure, though: Koenigsegg certainly knows how to celebrate a birthday.

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IF TALK OF hypercars and free SUVs has put a dampener on your day, let me fix it with this: Nissan has announced pricing for its Juke NISMO RS crossover, a barmy little pocket rocket guaranteed to put a smile on the face of anyone who buys it. Many will, too, as it’s set to cost just $26,120 with a $2,000 premium for all-wheel drive and $810 destination charge.

A special edition of the standard Juke crossover, the NISMO RS features a 215hp, 210 lb-ft 1.6-liter four-cylinder gas engine, mated to a six-speed manual and powering the front wheels. An AWD option is available with a CVT automatic, but it’s detuned to 211hp and 184 lb-ft. For those who dive in, expect bucket loads of fun. Stiffened suspension, a limited-slip differential, lowered ride height, reinforced chassis and recalibrated power steering should all combine to make the Juke change direction in a way which belies its relative size. For those looking to stand out from the crossover crowd, 18-inch wheels, LED lighting, bolder arches and spoilers complete the look on the outside, while on the inside there’s Recaro bucket seats, NISMO logos and all the equipment from the top-of-the-range standard Juke: sat-nav, rear-view camera, premium audio and a phone connection, to name just a few things.

It’s not going to be the most practical crossover, nor will it be as economical as the standard versions, but if there’s one thing the Juke NISMO RS can do, it’s turn every drive into a fun-filled riot. Drop a gear on the manual box, rev the peppy 1.6 until it’s wailing and throw it into a corner. That’s when you’ll be glad you didn’t settle for something a little more sedate.


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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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