Anger is the best way to describe my feelings after seeing probably the most unprofessional piece of motoring journalism I have ever had the misfortune to see on the telly. The journalist in question was Jason Plato, the car was the Westfield Sport turbo, the TV programme in question was 5th gear. The “test” and I use the term in the loosest possible sense was held at probably the most modern race track in the UK and no, the test did not involve any driving of the car on the road
Westfield Sport Turbo Review – Plato 5th Gear
Straight from the off you knew something was getting in the way of Plato’s judgment, how he started off talking about the hair trigger throttle, talk about getting down to business! The test started off badly and generally went downhill from there. It basically degenerated into a complete assassination of the Westfield Sport Turbo. Let me give you an example of the things Plato though to include in the test. The handbrake, there appeared to be a bit of play in the first few inches of movement before the ratchet mechanism kicked in. This really got on the tits of Plato because he brought it up numerous times and appeared to have lost perspective on how important the initial movement of the handbrake was in regards to the whole car. From there he assassinated the steering wheel, not in one way but in two, it put a whole new twist on the term investigative journalism. The first issue was the steering wheel adjustment, apparently the vertical motion was just not up to par, the par of what we were never told. The next angle of attack at the steering wheel was the flexibility of the steering wheel, granted it did seem overly flexible but I couldn’t help thinking how nice that flexibility would be if I happened to bin my Westfield Sport Turbo in a head-on collision.
Westfield Sport Turbo Review – Plato 5th Gear
Next the “ski hatch” got the treatment, and let’s not overstate this piece’s significance, it was about 20cm by 10cm and it seperated the passenger compartment from the boot. it was made of mdf and covered in padded vinyl, okay it looked a bit amateurish I agree but when I am looking for a track day car the interior quality is at exactly No. 17 on my list of priorities.
If you think that was bad it gets worse, the next part of the car to get the “treatment” was that fact that it had no doors, I mean, so what, because all other Lotus & type cars have doors? At this point my patience was starting to get to tested, next on the Plato hit list was the flexibility of the centre console, to be honest I though it looked quite smart but that was not good enough for Jason, he insisted grabbing the bottom part of the centre console and started tugging at it even though he could see it was not supported by anything at its base, after the flexibility of this part of the interior was finished being demonstrated to the world, which took about 17 minutes of pulling back and forth Plato says, you would never see that in a German car, I can only say I am glad there was nothing heavy and mobile to hand or I would be looking for a new telly. I mean, Jason, I know, the German 7-a-likes have got pukka centre consoles haven’t they? Do you see what I am getting at?
Plato then goes on verbally destroy the weather equipment and the lack of elbow room, yeah I know, because usually Lotus 7 replicas have loads of elbow room for correcting opposite lock. Having said all this, the best was yet to come, the peach of all his comments in his test was, you get cold and wet, who would buy one of these things?
From this point on, all credibility in this “test” exited stage right. Okay you get cold and wet, yeah that is true but your saying that like your are saying you stay dry and warm in a Rolls Royce Phantom, the fact may be true but does it have any relevance?
Plato’s parting blow was the price, he was simply flabbergasted that anyone could justify spending 26K GBP on the Westfield Sport Turbo, again I ask, why couldn’t he believe it? Because you can get ready built 190bhp Sevens for so much cheaper? Again the answer is no, indeed you can spend considerably more on a seven with this amount of power so what exactly was Plato comparing it to?
At no point during the test was the balance or handling characteristics covered in any detail, steering feel was covered in as far as saying you could bend the rim of the steering wheel if you pushed it hard enough away from you. No, nothing like this was covered and the reason given was that the throttle was “hare-trigger” which made the car impossible to drive, oh please, that may be so, but a driver of Plato’s quality should be able to get passed that to explore the limits of the chassis.
All in all it appeared that his point of reference for comparison of the Westfield Sport Turbo was a Maybach 62, given that the most important aspects that Plato thought the car should have were comfort and excellent interior build quality, which takes me back to why the piece angered me so much, professional motoring journalists, especially those on the TV and claim to be experts should be able to do much much better than this, especially when they are insulting a British car company and especially when they are insinuating that a far superior product exists in the world for a much smaller price, which it does not.
Not only was the piece unprofessional, misleading it was also potentially damaging to a respected company for no other reason than the journalist appeared to have missed his morning coffee and cigarette.