Life in the Fast Lane

Gabriella Somerville Founder and Managing Director of Connectjets

Gabriella Somerville – Founder and Managing Director of Connectjets

The Vintage Magazine recently attended an event at Biggin Hill, in Kent to celebrate the latest model of the world’s most eco-friendly private jet, the Avanti EVO made by the Italian manufacturer, Piaggio Aerospace, hosted by ConnectJets, who are the official agents for the Piaggio Avanti EVO in the UK, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

After a presentation, we boarded the plane for a 45 minute demonstration, returning to Biggin Hill all too soon. During the buffet lunch consisting of delicious Italian delicacies accompanied with Prosecco we spoke with Gabriella Somerville who is the founder and Managing Director of ConnectJets and passionate about all things to do with aviation.  We were also very fortunate to meet a professional Pilot called David Scofield, who liked the plane so much that he went along to get the type rating and then had it added to his Commercial Pilot’s License last year.

I therefore asked David if he would kindly put his thoughts on paper for The Vintage Magazine, as his knowledge of the jet’s capabilities would be far more comprehensive than ours.

Private jets are the ultimate ‘status symbol’ amongst the Billionaires’ club, but when you are buying a multi-million dollar jet why not spend a few hundred million dollars on decorating the interior of the plane as well?

Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s Airbus A340-300 cost $238 million, but after the luxury remodelling of the inside, it’s estimated that the jet cost him around $600 million.

This super jet can carry 375 passengers and fly for 9000 miles at a time. The billionaire named his jet Bourkhan after his father, a suitable partner for Usmanov’s multimillion dollar yacht which he named after his mother, Dilbar.

However, for the merely ‘exceedingly rich’, rather than  the obscenely rich, the Avanti EVO offers a more modest solution at around £7 million to the problems which they face by making the world’s most ecological private jet, without sacrificing any power.

So, here is David Scofield’s review of this revolutionary aircraft, from A  Pilot’s Point of View, which is very detailed but we are sure that the would be aviators amongst you will enjoy reading this thoroughly informative piece.

Robert Jarman – Founder and Editor of The Vintage Magazine

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Audi A3 Cabriolet in front of Hotel Tresanton St Mawes

We drove to Cornwall recently in the improved Audi A3 Cabriolet with the popular 2.0 TDI 150 PS engine beneath the bonnet and the S line chassis.  In sporty red it certainly looked the business and its size was perfect for driving down the narrow lanes of Cornwall combining style and function with a big dollop of fun thrown in.

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Audi S8 Sport

There are few cars which surprise and delight in equal measure, or set the pulse racing, but the AUDI S8 Sport is one of them.

The Audi S8 is the zenith of the Audi range, and has the acceleration of a Ferrari, and the comfort of a Rolls-Royce, making for an impressive combination.  That such power is disguised by Audi’s restrained styling makes it even more unexpected, and therefore impressive, and this performance is matched by a luxurious interior in keeping with the top-end of the Audi range.

We actually drove the S8 ‘Sport,’  but since then, Audi have introduced the S8 Plus, which compared to the Audi R8 V10 sports car’s capabilities is just four-tenths of a second slower to 62mph and only 8.5mph off its top speed!  But that delight is for another day.

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In December, Aston Martin Works announced the DB4 GT Continuation Project, which will make use of the remaining chassis numbers from the original production to create 25 incredible track-only cars. Designed in 1959, only eight DB4 GTs were built to a lightweight specification. This project will combine traditional techniques with modern technology to create an exceptionally capable car, while remaining faithful to the original.



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Jaguar F Pace R Sport 2.0d 180PS AWD

We recently had an ‘Embarasse des Riches’, when we were lent two Jaguars to review ‘back to back’, i.e. on two consecutive weeks, and the models in question were their top of the range saloon, the XJ, and the F-Pace SUV, both designed for entirely separate markets,  and both designed to take on any opposition, including that from BMW and Mercedes, who both have similar models aimed at the same markets.

Jaguar XJ R Sport SWB 3.0 V6 300PS at Ockenden Manor Cuckfield

However, we believe that in both cases, Jaguar have the advantage in looks and performance, and in value for money, so will be hard to beat. They also possess that indefinable quality, called Style.

All this is the result of a sustained investment programme by owner TATA, who have performed wonders in bringing Jaguar, and Land Rover, into the 21st century and making both ’marques’ potential world-beaters by focusing on specific cars for specific markets.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy our reviews of both models.

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Audi A5 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI Quattro SE 230 PS S Tronic

Just over a year ago, we took an Audi A5 Cabriolet down to Cornwall for 5 days to put it through its paces, but the weather was appalling for all five days, so we did not experience the full pleasure of driving a convertible as not once were we able to have the roof down!

So, I contacted Audi again and explained that we would like to write a review of the latest Audi A5 Quattro Cabriolet, and they very kindly agreed to let us revisit this car.  The model we were lent was the A5 cabriolet, 2.0 TF SI Quattro SE 230 PS S Tronic finished in metallic Monsoon grey with a black roof and red fine Nappa leather interior.  The many extras increased the cost from a basic price of £37,750 to £60,940 on the road which may seem a lot but in comparison with its rivals, from Mercedes Benz and BMW it is cheaper and in my opinion a very stylish, luxury convertible that looks as good on the inside as it does from the outside.

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Jaguar XE SE 163PS Diesel Auto Saloon at Luton Hoo Hotel

We were given a Jaguar XE to review and to give it a thorough test we took it to Luton Hoo Hotel on the Bedfordshire, Herefordshire border to put it through its paces.

Just looking at this sports saloon and its pleasing streamlined stylish body gives a clue of what lies within.  Jaguar have excelled themselves with this model, the interior is comfortable and spacious with gloss black finishes to the door trims and their signature ‘Riva Hoop’ sweeping above the instrument panel and taking pride of place in the sweep of the fascia is the 8 inch touchscreen infotainment system – apologies here for such a ghastly word but I suppose it explains what this does – which brings fast access to all the car’s features and functions.  And on the automatic models, which our car was, is Jaguar’s unique rotary drive selector which rises up from the central console – a particular favourite of ours.

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Subaru Outback 2.00 SE Diesel 5-doorEstate

The first thing I noticed about the SUBARU OUTBACK 2.00 Diesel SE Premium was something simple, but which brought me great joy, which is that there is an illuminated red circle around the ignition, showing the driver where to insert the key; very simple, but very effective, but you would be amazed at how many luxury cars have the ignition in the hardest to reach recess, but with no light to help you find it!

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We recently decided to road test a sporty hatchback with style, and  alighted on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta which offers a good balance of stylish design, and impressive performance, all  in keeping  with the Marque.

We had the ‘Sportiva’, with a manual gearbox, which did not inspire us until we switched to ‘Sport’ mode which made life a lot more fun, and I would leave it in ‘Sport’ mode if you want to get the most out of the engine.

We chose the Diesel option, pioneered by Fiat, which comes in 104bhp 1.6 diesel; and a 134bhp, 168bhp 2,0 litre, six speed manual gearbox is standard on all models, and some are available with Alfa’s dual clutch automatic transmission which they call ‘TCT’.


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When we were planning our recent visit to the iconic Badrutt’s Palace Hotel in St. Moritz, click here  to read the article, we wanted a car which could live up to the occasion, and we considered all the ‘usual suspects’, but the more we thought about it, the more we were drawn towards one of our favourite Sports cars, the Maserati Gran Cabrio 4-seater which we had road tested a year ago, and loved.

So, we approached Maserati Cars, North Europe, to see if they would help, and they immediately embraced the idea, and offered us their stunning new Maserati GranCabrio MC.


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