Tag Archives: luxury car

Luxury car launches: Aston Martin AM-RB 001 to debut at the Canadian International Autoshow

The long awaited Aston Martin AM-RB 001 has finally made its way to the stage at the Canadian International Autoshow. The company unveiled the concept version of this new model at its UK headquarters in July, but this has been the first time that anyone other than potential owners will have seen it in the flesh. “The AM-RB 001 is destined to become the defining hypercar of this decade and a hugely desirable investment for collectors and enthusiasts,” said Aston Martin President and CEO, Dr. Andy Palmer.

Developed in partnership with Red Bull Racing and its superstar Formula 1 designer, Adrian Newey, the AM-RB001 boasts a mid-mounted naturally aspirated V12 engine and a one-to-one power to weight ratio. It also uses cutting-edge racing developed aerodynamic trickery so that it behaves like an F1 car in the bends and at the limits of grip. However, because all of these systems have been largely integrated to the car’s underside, there are no huge spoilers, splitters or side skirts negatively impacting on the car’s visual aesthetic.

Even with such an impressive team working on the AM-RB001, there is no guarantee that it will be a decade defining hypercar. Especially as Mercedes-AMG is plotting a similar vehicle of its own that will be unveiled at this year’s Frankfurt Auto Show in September. However, in terms of its appeal to the car collecting community, the Aston boss is completely correct.

Even though this car won’t be going into production until 2018 and when it does it will come with a £2 million price tag, every one of the 150 planned examples (25 of which will be track-only models) are already sold out. What’s more, if a potential owner changes his or her mind, Aston won’t be worried, as there’s a long list of people waiting to step in and take a car if an order is cancelled.

The 2017 Canadian International Autoshow will be held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and opens its doors to the public on February 17.

Bespoke Rolls-Royce record in 2016: Luxury car maker announced its second-highest sale record

Lotus Exige Race 380: Dedicated racing car is both light and fast

The final iteration of the mid-engine hardtop Lotus sportscar is the Exige Race 380, a dedicated track-only car that weighs less than 1000kg and will cost over $100,000, but for that owners will get a car that meets FIA regulations and that has set a new record around Lotus’s own Hethel test circuit.

Now that Lotus’s finances are well and truly back on track it’s about to start developing a flagship Esprit and testing the feasibility of a crossover or SUV. However, it hasn’t forgotten its hardcore fans and the reason why the company has managed to weather the storms of financial uncertainty — it makes some of the greatest track-focused cars that any amount of money can buy.

And the new Lotus Exige Race 380, announced on Thursday, continues in this tradition. Built exclusively for racing, it starts out life as the already ferocious yet road-legal Exige Sport 380 and jettisons regulatory elements like headlamps and airbags that hold back performance.

“The Lotus Exige Sport 380 is a real giant slayer on the road,” said Group Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales. “It gave us the ideal platform from which to develop the new Exige Race 380.” It keeps the 3.5-liter supercharged V6 but now it’s mated to a six-speed Xtrac sequential transmission complete with carbon fiber steering column-mounted paddle shifts. There’s a limited slip differential, the gearbox gets its own oil cooler and the exhausts are lightweight titanium.

Built for teams and for individuals to race in sanctioned competitions, the car meets FIA criteria for its class so there’s a roll cage, racing seats with six-point harnesses, a fire extinguisher system and motorsport towing eyes for those moments when the car eventually runs out of grip and leaves the track.

However, thanks to adjustable dampers and roll bars all round plus external aerodynamic improvements that increase downforce to 240kg, it’s going to take some very heavy-handed piloting for the car to come unstuck.

As for performance, because the car tips the scales at just 998kg, it will go from 0-60mph in 3.2 seconds but, more importantly, laps the Lotus Hethel test track in one minute, 23.5 seconds, making it the fastest Exige ever.

“By setting its weight below 1000kg, its power to weight is unsurpassed in its class. When lapping Hethel, it’s a phenomenal 1.5 seconds faster than the previous Exige Cup R — a massive performance gain,” said Gales.

Available to order now, the Lotus Exige Race 380 will cost £99,500 ($122,000) excluding taxes, and deliveries are scheduled to begin in May in time for the 2017-18 race season.

Special edition luxury car: Jaguar launches re-worked F-Type 400 Sport for 2017

Driverless Cars for Millennials: New Fiat Chrysler Portal concept announced at CES 2017

One-off Ferrari: SP275 RW Competizione created for private collector by Special Projects team

The Ferrari Special Projects team is to supercar fans what Santa Claus is to kids. Should you have the means (and by this we mean wealth), the team can create one-of-a-kind designs based on its existing car models, that will leave other envious. One lucky private collector counts himself as the proud owner of such a creation thanks to his Ferrari SP275 RW Competizione.

The result of a collaboration with Pininfarina, the car uses the limited edition F12tdf as an inspiration while also featuring elements of the 275 GTB. Where the F12tdf had a hood that was sharper and free of louvres on the side fenders, the one-off creation boasts curves and four shark gills. The gills are repeated behind the rear wheel arches and rear side window.

Powering the SP275 RW Competizione is a powerful V12 engine and gearbox that was used in the F12tdf. The 6.3-litre engine provides you with 574kW of power and is said to rival that of the Ferrari F1 team. For its paint scheme, the Special Projects team has decked the car out in an eye-catching yellow that is said to be similar to the one used by the Ferrari group who won the GT category in the 1965 Le mans 24-Hour race.

Car review: Mercedes E-Class Coupe, Luxury Driving with a heart

The new E-Class sedan is many things. It’s the most technologically advanced four-door car on sale today. It’s also one of the most connected. However, one thing it isn’t is exciting. It’s a car that appeals to logic rather than emotions.

With the new coupé version, Mercedes is hoping to address this shortcoming. “With its clear, aesthetic lines, our new E-Class Coupé appeals equally to heart and mind. It condenses contemporary luxury, agile sportiness and high-tech engineering into an automotive personality with esprit, offering exclusive, refined driving pleasure,” said Mercedes-Benz head of R&D, Prof. Dr Thomas Weber.

The coupé’s combination of a high waistline and sharply sloping roof definitely gives the car a much more striking appearance than its sedan counterpart while details around the grille and at the rear offer subtle nods to some of the company’s sportier models such as the SL.

And it’s a similar story inside. The coupé has a new cockpit layout with a two digital screens fused together that run across most of the dashboard replacing the traditional driver’s instrument binnacle and the centrally positioned infotainment system.

The steering wheel is also touch sensitive — it responds to taps and finger swipes. This means that you can take a call or turn up the volume without taking your hands off the wheel. All of which lends the cabin a very futuristic feel — and it’s apt as the car is bulging with next-generation technology.

For instance it has remote parking and can be summoned via a smartphone app. It can also automatically follow a car ahead on any type of road at speeds of up to 130mph. It offers the driver live, real-time traffic news, can autonomously brake to avoid potential collisions and, if you’ve misplaced the key, as long as your smartphone supports NFC, you can use the handset to lock or unlock the car.

As for performance, that will initially come from a range of four- and six-cylinder engines, the most exciting of which, a 3-liter V6 will offer 333hP and 100km/h in 5.3 seconds. However, hotter AMG versions are in the pipeline for late 2017.

The E-Class coupé will make its real-world debut at the Detroit Auto Show on January 8.

Lexus LS Debut: Highly anticipated new model to be unveiled at 2017 North American International Auto Show

When the original Lexus LS debuted at the Detroit auto show in January 1989 it completely disrupted the luxury car market. Twenty-eight years on the company is hoping that history will repeat itself when it takes the wraps off the fifth-generation model at the exact same venue.

Lexus has confirmed that its long-gestating luxury flagship sedan, the LS, will be making its global debut at the 2017 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in January. And, while the marque is being suitably secretive about what exactly the new car is going to offer, it has said the new LS will be a “world-class car” and one that will boast a “bold new look with a coupé-like silhouette.”

Take that admission as a sign that the new car will bear more than a passing resemblance to the LF-FC, a concept study the company unveiled at the 2015 Tokyo motor show and one that was so striking and imposing that it was one of the event’s absolute star cars.

Lexus has spent recent years focusing most of its attention and capabilities on creating desirable SUVs and coupes, so it’s easy to forget how much the original LS shook up the luxury car market.

It was the first ever Lexus, the foundation on which the brand was built and was genuinely premium in every aspect, from cabin quietness to ride quality and fuel efficiency. Its impact was so great that within four years, rappers — in particular Notorious B.I.G, Tupac and Jay-Z — had stopped namedropping Cadillac in their rhymes in favor of Toyota’s luxury brand, and even Mercedes and BMW found themselves digging deeper in order to compete in the highest echelons of the executive sedan market.

But times change and the current-generation Mercedes S Class, the benchmark against which Lexus has always wanted to be judged, is now a technological tour de force, capable of essentially driving itself on highways at speeds of up to 120mph. Meanwhile the BMW 7 Series can be parked or summoned remotely simply by pressing a button on the key fob.

Even Cadillac, the brand that suffered the most as a result of Lexus’ success, is well and truly back on track with the CT6, a car that is the closest to a genuine performance and luxury flagship in decades.

So the new LS is going to have to be something very special, and as the 2017 NAIAS opens to the press on January 9 we won’t have to wait long to find out just how well it measures up to the competition.

Artcurial Rétromobile 2017 Auction

Eight of the vehicles going under the hammer this year come from the prestigious collection of Hervé and Martine Ogliastro. These include an exceptional Delahaye 135 Sport Roadster by Figoli & Falaschi (estimated at €1.2 to €1.8 million) and a Bugatti 57 Atalante convertible (estimated at €1 to €1.5 million).

Other outstanding classic cars expected to break the €1 million mark include a 1939 Delahaye 135 MS Cabriolet by Figoni & Falaschi (estimated at €1.2 to €1.6 million) and a 1936 Talbot T150C (estimated at €1 to €1.5 million). Fans of sporty rides can snap up a 1957 Osca 273 S Spider (estimated at €500,000 to €800,000) or the famous Renault 5 Turbo with which Jean Ragnotti won the Tour de Corse rally on the island of Corsica in 1982 (estimated at €300,000 to €500,000).

1939 Delahaye 135 MS Cabriolet

This 1939 Delahaye 135 MS Cabriolet by Figoni & Falaschi is estimated at €1.2 to €1.6 million.

However, the model that’s really expected to send bids through the roof is a 1948 Ferrari 166 Spyder Corsa Scaglietti, a competition racer previously driven by champions such as Giuseppe “Nino” Farina and Raymond Sommer. Artcurial hasn’t yet provided a price estimate for this model.

Visitors to the Rétromobile classic car show in the French capital will be able to admire all these vehicles at the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles exhibition center from February 8 to 10, 2017.

1957 Osca 273 S Spider

This 1957 Osca 273 S Spider is estimated at €500,000 to €800,000.
© Artcurial
Artcurial Motorcars – Vente Rétromobile du 10 février 2017

Other models are likely to be added to the sale before the catalog listing closes December 15, 2016.

In 2016, the Artcurial auction at Rétromobile set a new worldwide auction record when a 1957 Ferrari 335 S sold for €32.1 million (including costs and taxes).

The 42nd Rétromobile classic car show runs February 8 to 12, 2017, at the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, France.

China Imposes New 10% Luxury Car Tax

China Imposes New 10% Luxury Car Tax

China has imposed an extra 10 percent tax on ultra high-end cars costing over 1.3 million yuan ($190,000) such as Lamborghinis and Ferraris, the government said, the latest step in a wide crackdown on conspicuous luxury consumption.

Under President Xi Jinping the Communist Party has overseen a sprawling campaign against graft and encouraged thrift among the country’s political and economic elites, targeting showy displays of wealth.

The new tax took effect Thursday and was intended to “guide rational consumption” and promote energy-efficient vehicles, the finance ministry said in a statement late Wednesday.

“The tax increase is a display of the government’s attitude of advocating frugality,” said Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the Passenger Car Association, according to Bloomberg News.

China already taxes imported vehicles at a high rate, slapping a 25 percent tax on all foreign cars shipped to China.

The duties – and increased competition from cheaper domestic marques – have driven overall car imports down two years in a row, with 850,000 vehicles imported in the first 10 months of the year, down 6.4 percent from 2015, according to customs statistics.

But ultra high-end brands such as Ferrari have done well, with the Italian sports-car maker seeing a 26 percent surge in its second-quarter sales this year, with 160 units delivered.

The extra charge will likely hit Ferrari and brands such as Aston-Martin, Rolls-Royce, and Lamborghini, as well as top-end models of Mercedes and BMW.

Luxury carmakers have seen massive growth in China, the world’s largest auto market, despite the anti-corruption campaign.

They have also become potent symbols of the lavish lifestyles of the nouveaux riches during a time of surging wealth inequality.

Elite families often hire fleets of pricey cars for wedding processions, and wealthy second-generation heirs film themselves racing ultra-luxury sports cars in cities at night.

A notorious 2012 Ferrari crash that killed the son of a high-level official disrupted a once-in-a-decade party leadership change and precipitated his father’s downfall.

Reports said the son was accompanied in the car by two female passengers, one of them naked.

Some luxury dealers said they planned to stay open all night Wednesday to take orders before the tax came into force.

Passenger vehicle sales in China surged by an average of more than 12 percent annually from 2010 to 2015, but an economic slowdown has reduced the speed, with expansion dropping to 4.7 percent last year with total sales of 24.6 million.

Can Great Cars Make You Smile? Infiniti Finds Out

Can Great Cars Make You Smile? Infiniti Finds Out

Unlike fuel economy or available trunk space, when publicity for a new car claims that ownership will deliver certain emotions, the claims are difficult to prove or disprove. But Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury sub-brand, aims to set the record straight on the matter with a new study set to be conducted in the Middle East that doubles as a piece of publicity.

Using EEG devices provided by Emotiv Inc, plus its own Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 performance sedan, it is going to quantify consumers’ emotional response to getting behind the wheel of a sportscar; and to show how these changes in brain activity can actually boost attention, focus, potential and enjoyment – creating a virtuous emotional circle.

“[This car] delivers an experience that provokes powerful emotions, passion and excitement, enabling its driver to really push their limits,” said Juergen Schmitz, managing director, Infiniti Middle East. “We are now focusing on translating what this emotion, power and excitement really means through a unique and innovative study that will allow us to quantitatively test how the Q50 Red Sport 400 helps our drivers to unleash their potential.”

Infiniti is partnering with Emotiv because its Insight headsets are currently the only wireless EEG headsets available for consumer application that boast five sensors for brainwave activity plus two reference sensors for calibrating the data. “We are confident that the result of this study will truly showcase the truly empowering drive that our Q50 Red Sport 400 users can expect,” added Schmitz.

Can Great Cars Make You Smile? Infiniti Finds Out

Infiniti will seek to identify and measure the level of human excitement unleashed when individuals get behind the wheel of the recently launched Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400.

To ensure transparency and the biggest possible sample group, Infiniti is opening the test up to anyone in the UAE who’s currently in the market for a new sportscar. All they have to do is get in touch with their nearest Infiniti dealer. The result of the study will be revealed before the end of 2016.

In doing so, Infiniti is taking a leaf out of Volvo’s book. In November 2013 the Swedish automotive marque partnered with EEG specialists Myndplay in order to understand the emotional impact of car design and to see if a car’s aesthetics triggered the same responses in men and women.

Using EEG headsets and images carefully selected to elicit an emotional response, the study found that men experienced more emotion when looking at images of cars than when looking at photographs of children. What’s more, 75% of men that took part in the experiment got more emotional when shown a car considered beautiful than when shown an image of a beautiful woman. When the tables were turned, just one third of woman rated a car more attractive than a handsome man.

Porsche 718 Boxster S: Driving Dream

The Porsche 718 Boxster is no longer the entry level sports car at Porsche, that title now goes to the new 718 Cayman. Since its launch in the late ‘90s, the car has grown tremendously. It is wider, longer and lower than its predecessors. In fact, the only part of the car that remained similar in size is the engine. In keeping with Porsche’s current trend of downsizing engines and turbo-charging, the new 718 comes in a 2.0 L (300 hp) and 2.5 L (350 hp) turbo-charged guise. This is the first time in many decades that Porsche has featured a 4-cylinder engine in one of their cars.

So what is it like? Well I picked up a Porsche 718 Boxster S from Porsche Singapore and I can attest that aesthetically, it is one of the prettiest roadsters on sale today. Over the few days that I had the car, I had a number of people approach me with praises of the car’s good looks, especially with the top down. I wasn’t surprised — it has got that old-school, wide, mid-engine charm that gets you excited and makes you want to drive it constantly.

I remember the Boxster commercial I saw when the car originally came out; it really stuck with me, considering I was only about 14-years-old then. A guy awakes from a coma after several decades, goes out to the garage and hops into his classic 550 Spyder. As he’s driving along, a Boxster overtakes him and both drivers are completely amazed at what they’ve seen. If the commercial was released today with the new car and the 550 owner driving the original Boxster, the reaction would still be the same.Porsche GT Silver 718 Boxster S

Inside, it is typical Porsche, with a similar set-up to the new 991, minus a few switches and instrument gauges. The quality is as good as ever and the car is packed with tech, including the new Apple Play functionality. The cabin is spacious and one of the best features about the 718 Boxster’s layout is its front and rear boots. This makes the car extremely practical for a two-seater and great for road trips.

My car was fitted with the latest PDK dual clutch transmission and the Sports Chrono Package. Saying that shifts are quick would be an understatement by any measurement. Setting up launch control is a breeze as well if you want to get the ultimate acceleration. Change a few traction and shift settings, plant your foot, the car holds revs briefly and then launches you forward at speeds you never thought possible in a 4-cylinder vehicle. The claimed 4.2 seconds to 100 km/h is easily believable. I wouldn’t be surprised if it went quicker.

However, to get the most out of the vehicle in normal driving situations, you really need to have it in the right gear; I did notice more turbo lag than in the 991 and although not terrible by any means – the engine crackles and pops on downshifts, forcing me to keep speeding up and slowing down to the “delight” of my passenger and the car in front – the note isn’t as aural as the previous Boxster.Porsche GT Silver 718 Boxster S

As with previous Boxsters though, the handling is spot on. There is not another car on the market in this category that handles corners with the same finesse as this one does. The chassis and aero set-up are perfect whether you’re on a back road in Singapore or at a race track in Germany. There’s a hell lot of grip and the steering is very communicative so you can feel what the car is going to do next.

So here is the big question, would I buy one? The SGD316,588 starting price is a lot to ask for a four-cylinder engine. However, this is Singapore and that is a great price for a car that really beats all its nearest competitors in the 300k range. The 718 Boxster S is a great looking and performing car, along with the pedigree of one of the sports car greats. The original Boxster really turned things around for Porsche and made them the brand they are today. The new 718 clearly re-emphasizes the importance this car plays in the line-up and builds on the qualities of the original.

Porsche Panamera Turbo Sneak Preview

The car that once set the benchmark for all four-door sports sedans is back. On November 2 the Panamera Turbo made its debut in Singapore to exciting fanfare. As part of its launch, the car was first shown to the media in a secret high security vault. A very exciting way to kick off showcasing the vehicle! It then went on to tour the city for four days, from November 3 to 6. Starting at the famous Fullerton Hotel, the car travelled to Dempsey Hill, Suntec City, ION Orchard and completed its tour at the W Hotel.

The all-new Panamera was towed by a Cayenne SUV with an entourage from Porsche Club Singapore. Tim Oh from Class 95 and Mike Kasem and Vernetta Lopez from Gold 90.5 were also in attendance at Suntec City and Porsche had their own complimentary ice cream for everyone that came to check out the sedan.porsche-panamera-turbo

So how is the new car? Having sat in it at a special press preview, the quality is vastly improved over an already well-built product. The interior features more tech, more style and more space. Basically everything in the new car is digital with LCD screens consuming most of the front cabin, save for the rev counter, which sticks with the traditional center analogue gauge. The driving position has not been compromised either. You sit low, but with lots of visibility. The rear is a much more inviting place to be in than before and features more space while still giving the feeling of being in a coupe.

A lot of traditional sports car manufacturers that go on to make sedans end up compromising on interior quality, but the Panamera feels like Porsche has been doing this for decades. The exterior styling sticks with Porsche’s philosophy of evolution over revolution. You can still easily recognise it as a Panamera, however it is a prettier car than the previous model and I believe it will appeal to more people. The new active aero spoiler is an extremely cool piece of kit as well and is probably my favourite feature on the car. The way it deploys looks like something out of Transformers.

Up front you’ll find a new 550 hp 4.0 L twin-turbo V8 in this “Turbo” model. However, like most Porsches now, expect a large portion of the range to be turbocharged. You can also expect a blisteringly quick 0 – 62 mph time of 3.8 seconds with the Sports Chrono Package installed. Emissions and fuel consumption have also been improved and the PDK transmission has been updated for faster shift times and improved performance depending on your style of driving.porsche-panamera-turbo-3

There will be three cars initially released in Singapore, the Panamera 4S, 4S Diesel and Turbo. I never thought I’d say this, but personally, I’m most excited about the new 8-cylinder 4S Diesel. The horsepower and torque figures Porsche are extracting from the engine are out of this world. There’s 422 hp and 850 Nm of torque on tap, producing a 0 – 62 mph time of 4.3 seconds with the Sport Chrono Package and a top speed of 177 mph. That makes the Panamera 4S Diesel, the fastest production diesel in the world! It will have some immense pulling power, along with a really good range on a full tank.

Stay tuned for a full review…

Aston Martin Releases Limited Edition Badges

With a successful show at the 2016 World Endurance Championship (WEC), Aston Martin has marked the impressive achievement with 250 handmade jewel-like badges. The set of badges will contain nine Aston Martin emblems that were specifically designed to reflect the nine countries in which a race was held this year. For the race at Silverstone in the UK, the British sports car company has introduced red, white and blue detailing to the badges and red and green feathers for the round held in Mexico.

What makes the design so special is that it is an exact replica of the ones that have adorned Aston’s V8 Vantage GTE competition cars. Hand crafted from a copper base using enamelling techniques normally found with jewelry, each badge takes up to 20 hours to create. The badges are produced under the watchful eye of British jeweler, Vaughtons. To help fans understand and appreciate the process and effort that goes into crafting the badges, Aston Martin published a video of the badges being made.

Considering that these badges are in fact racing memorabilia, it comes with a hefty price tag of £3,750 (that’s €4316 or $4650). Of course, fans of the motoring company will see this as a good investment.

Should Aston Martin’s drivers win the upcoming November 19 competition in Bahrain, then the brand will be making a clean sweep of the GT titles. And, if that does happen, don’t be too surprised if the company decides to build a celebratory collector’s edition car to go with those badges.

To watch the process of crafting the badge, catch the video below:

Why Ferrari 250 GTO Could Set Auction Record

Porsche Panamera Executive Model LA Motor Show Debut

Set to be badged the ‘Executive’ model, the longer Porsche Panamera offers occupants 150mm more cabin space and a host of extra luxury toys. For example a panoramic roof is standard, as is adjustable air suspension for a silky ride and multi-way reclining seats for all passengers front and rear. After all, Porsche has designed the model for clients who employ a chauffeur.

In terms of options, owners will be able to specify the new car with an entertainment console that sits between the rear seats and offers 10.1-inch tablets and foldaway work tables.

Alongside the larger Panamera, Porsche will also introduce a new entry-level model with a new 330hp V6 turbocharged engine which is more powerful and yet more efficient than the V6 that called the shots in the first-generation Panamera.

When the new models debut in LA, they will bring the second-generation Panamera range up to 10 different cars based on wheelbase, engine and performance. What’s more, there’s still a possibility that the LA Auto Show will be the venue where Porsche takes it to 11 and unveils the shooting brake version of the Panamera, too.

Lotus Evora Sport 410: Ludicrously Fast

Lotus Evora Sport 410: Ludicrously Fast

In developing the new flagship Lotus Evora Sport 410 coupé, Lotus wanted to create a proper icon, not just another quick fix for the weekend racing crowd. This turned out to be a job that took thousands of hours going over the existing model in microscopic detail looking for any way to boost road and track performance without adding weight. Lotus wanted to build a “pure” supercar that could be considered the successor to its last genuinely iconic model – the Esprit Sport 300.

In terms of vital statistics it does this with aplomb. With a 410hp, 3.5-liter supercharged V6 under its carbon fiber hood, it goes gangbusters. The Lotus Evora Sport 410 demolishes the race to 60mph in 3.9 seconds and climbs to a top speed of 190mph. The Esprit Sport 300 needed an extra 0.8 seconds to hit 60mph and reached its limits at 168mph.

However, what both cars have in common is that they are as light as technological advancements will allow and have been engineered to stick to a track or a back road as if the tarmac is made of steel and the car is magnetized.

Whether both cars will be thought of as iconic Lotus models will not ultimately be about the numbers game though or even how well the new car handles. This will be down to how the passionate Lotus clique of owners and enthusiasts comes to feel about the car. Nevertheless, Lotus clearly fancies its chances with the Evora Sport 410.

“[The car] defines a period in which we are producing our best ever cars,” said Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Group Lotus plc. “Its ballistic pace means that, in the right hands, it’s unbeatable. We have achieved so much in the development of the Evora platform, and the Sport 410 is possibly the most accomplished car we have ever built.”

20161101124205_-0b6a0104821-h0

At £82,000 (€108,500) it is also one of the most expensive series production models in Lotus history. That price point puts it head-to-head with the likes of the Porsche 911, Jaguar F-Type Coupe and a host of M-powered BMWs and AMG Mercedes.

But the Lotus should still stand out in this crowd because it is built so that a keen driver can use all the car’s capabilities all of the time. Lotus promises that even when the car is at its 190mph limit, there is still traction on tap.

“[It] delivers the power and precision that Lotus cars are renowned for. We’ve taken the war on weight to a new level, demonstrating perfectly our principle of intelligent engineering,” said Gales.

Yet, the car should still be comfortable. There’s an Alcantara-trimmed cabin, a touch-screen infotainment system plus the option of complete bespoke detailing via Lotus’s recently launched Exclusive program.

The Evora Sport 410 will be limited to just 150 examples a year and a North America specific model will be rolling out next summer.

200 mph Club: McLaren 570S, Aston Martin V12 Vantage S

The supercar market seems to be growing larger and larger every year, with new brands launching and well known marques drawing more horsepower out of ever evolving models. If you’ve got the money to spend on a supercar there’s only a few places you’d look. We’ve lined up the latest must-own supercars from two legendary British manufacturers. Combined, the McLaren and Aston Martin have more than 1,000 horsepower and cost several million dollars.

The selection of cars was specifically chosen to show how very different a driving experience one can have for a not so different price. The racey McLaren 570S features a mid-engine twin turbo V8, rear wheel drive and F1 pedigree. This is the car that’s meant to bring McLaren to the “masses”.

We also have the classy Aston Martin V12 Vantage S. About to go out of production in its current state, this may be one of the last times we’ll have the opportunity to hear that monstrous V12 in this sleek two-seater. It’s modern “tech de force” and old school muscle.

large-6396mclaren-570s-portimao-7643

McLaren 570S

The 570S – the backbone in the McLaren line – was launched to much fanfare. As I open the butterfly doors and lower myself into the driver’s seat, I’m amazed at how much space is in the cockpit. The design is minimalist and everything is digital. You feel like you’re sitting in a car with a purpose, a 562 horsepower purpose and at only 3,200 pounds, she’s light too. Like all other McLarens, the 570S is running their now familiar 3.8L V8. The engine is turbo charged and there is some lag, but the way in which it makes you feel when the turbo is at full blow is incredible. The “little” McLaren by far feels the fastest car here.

One thing I do notice when I sit down, is how I feel like I’m much closer to the road than in the Aston, although there is a lot of visibility. The large front windshield makes you feel like you’re in a bubble cockpit. As the engine burbles to life, I select first on the dual clutch gearbox and we pull away. The car is noticeably quiet – even with the sports exhaust fitted. To give you an idea, at full acceleration in videos we recorded, you can hear me clicking through the gears on the paddle shifters. It’s a unique sensation, although the car is a lot louder for people seeing it go past, than it is inside the cabin.

A noticeable trait of the smaller turbo charged engine, you’re not going to get the same aural excitement as in the naturally aspirated larger engines. I thought this would bother me, it didn’t… You feel like you’re in a street legal race car in this thing. The car has a semi hydraulic steering system, which means you get a lot of feel through the wheel. When you’re pushing the 570S hard – and believe me, you will be – you’re going to love the feedback the car is giving you.

This 570S is in McLarens Sports Series range – the lowest range in the manufacturer’s line-up – although it still feels like a supercar to me. It doesn’t have the 650S and P1’s fancy suspension, but it rides incredibly well nevertheless and moves like there’s no tomorrow. For the price, it’s an incredibly cool car, although if I were purchasing one, I like the way the 570 GT looks a little more and McLaren could still work on the way that exhaust note sounds. I can only go so fast most of the time, so I at least want the car to sound like I’m going fast. The aural excitement is one of the main reasons you’d buy a car like this.

The car has got a lot of grip and the confidence it inspires makes you want to push and push and push. Just knock it down a couple gears, step on the carbon ceramic breaks, turn in, then plant the accelerator on the way out. It’ll push you back in your seat and make you want more. Priced at almost SGD 900,000 (approx. USD 660,000), it’s quite a car!

v12-vantage-s-morning-frost-06

Aston Martin V12 Vantage S

The baby daddy in the Aston Martin range. A beast in sheep’s clothing, with only extra vents and badging giving away what’s underneath. Designed by legendary car designer, Henrik Fisker, the Vantage is a familiar site in the Aston Martin line-up, having been around in its current guise since 2005. This is definitely it’s last hoorah before a new model is introduced.

Up front you’ll find a naturally aspirated 6.0L V12 producing 565 horsepower and a roar from behind that’ll wake the neighbours a mile away. Power is put to the ground through two very wide rear tyres and an automated manual transmission. It’s no longer Aston’s most powerful production model, but it’s still its fastest.

Getting into the Aston isn’t quite as fun as the McLaren, but it still features some very unique swan wing doors. They’re not just for show either. The doors actually open at the same angle of degrees as the wings on the Aston badge and allow for easier clearing of street curbs.

As I push the centre console starter button the V12 burbles to life. The interior is beautifully appointed in typical Aston Martin fashion, yet the car has this raw edge to it. What else would you expect from one of Britain’s coolest brands. I select first gear and pull away.

It’s not the smoothest of transmissions to use around town, but as I get out on the motorway the shifts come with a lot more ease. The harder you drive, the better this car becomes. Many journalists have described this car as analogue in a digital world. It has an old style single clutch transmission, hydraulic steering and lacks a fancy suspension set up or digital dash display. Yet, who really needs all of this stuff anyway. Driving a performance car should be about feel, the way it makes you feel when you’re at full pelt blasting down a back road and the feedback you’re getting through the wheel while doing so. For that, this car checks all the boxes. It’s alive in your hands and the sound it makes puts a big smile on your face.

In this day and age though for SGD 840,000 (approx. USD 615,000), the consumer wants a lot more and the tech is part and parcel of the package. In this aspect it falls short. However, with a new model coming out soon and if the DB11 is anything to go by, the new car will be packed with tech on the inside and look gorgeous on the outside. Bond, I hope you’re ready…

This article was first published in PALACE.

Review: BMW M2 Goes Back To Basics

The brand new BMW M2 has received a lot of publicity the world over. With stablemates that have apparently lost their soul and become computers on wheels, the M2 is said to feel like the M cars of old. A straight 6 engine paired in this instance to a DCT gearbox, we take one out on the streets of Singapore to see what she can really do.

Getting into the M2 is familiar to getting in most BMW’s of the current generation. Comfy sports seats hug you and keep you in place, while the iDrive systems features prominently on the centre console. This car featured a keyless start system and as I pushed the starter button, the straight 6 comes to life with a typical BMW-esque burble. I select drive and pull away. Like with most modern sports cars, it’s incredibly comfortable to cruise around town in, yet when you want to drive faster, a completely different car rears its head.p90199664_highres_the-new-bmw-m2-coupe

Stopping at a traffic light, I decide to have a play around with the iDrive system. This thing is packed with tech. Attempting to figure out how to use it all without reading the manual – like I did – will result in ages of confusion and banging your head against the wall trying to complete simple tasks. BMW were the first car manufacturer to bring out a knob scrolling command centre. Once you get the hang of how to use it, it’s amazing, however it’s a lot more complex than many of the touch screen systems. The idea is that you can control most of the functions of the vehicle using the system and it has some pretty cool features. For instance, I can connect my GoPro camera to the system and film my driving through the screen.

As I pull away from the lights and head towards some corners, the two best single aspects of the car make themselves known and I feel first hand why everyone is in love with this car. That engine is a joy, I would have preferred the manual transmission to shift gears as the DCT can be a bit fidgety, however the mere urgency the engine creates when under acceleration is fantastic. There’s minimal lag from the TwinScroll turbo chargers and the thing really pulls hard. The 0 -100 km/h in 4.3 seconds is easily achievable from the 365 hp on tap. Secondly, the car feels light and likes to play around the corners. It has electronic stability and traction systems, but they’re not overly imposing and allow for some leeway if you want to make things a little lairy. The car is confidence inspiring and things never feel uncontrollable. From a small performance sports coupe, you want it to be fun and easy to throw around. This new M2 allows for this a lot more than its bigger relatives.p90210196_highres_bmw-m2-coupe-02-2016

I was surprised at how practical the car is to use as a daily driver as well. There’s a lot of room inside both front and back. Two medium sized adults can easily fit in the rear seats. There’s also plenty of boot space. You can get a couple sets of golf clubs in there or some suitcases for a weekend away.

This car deserves a 4 out of 5 stars. It offers great performance and it’s very useable and practical as a daily drive. Go for the manual transmission and you’ll have a smile on your face. If you’re in the market for a four seater performance car in this price range, it would definitely be my top choice. Oh and did I mention it looks great?

This article was first published in Palace.

BMW 5-Series

BMW 5 Series: Seventh Generation Innovations

Cutting-edge connectivity and semi-autonomous driving tech are just two of the goodies BMW delivers with the seventh generation of the now-legendary BMW 5 Series.

Shunning both the recently concluded Paris and upcoming LA Auto Shows in favor of a standalone reveal event, the BMW 5 Series is proposed as “the epitome of the business sedan,” according to company chairman, Harald Krüger. “We see technological leadership, emotionally rich products and digitalization as essential factors in achieving success.”

And this is key. The BMW 5 Series offers steering and lane control assist at speeds of up to 210km/h, which boggles the mind. It can also help the driver change or stay in lane; take evasive action when a collision risk is imminent; check for traffic at junctions and crossroads; autonomously respect the speed limit; and, even boasts a voice control system that can respond to natural language — i.e., this is a car that likes to have a conversation.BMW 5-Series

But with all that tech, it is very easy to detach the owner from the driving experience so it is important to note that this is not a fully autonomous vehicle. And that’s why much of the new connectivity tech on board the BMW is about cutting stress and saving time, such as the ParkNow system that finds and pays for parking spaces ahead of time. And of course the remote parking system that debuted on the car’s big brother, the 7-Series, where a push of the smart key button is enough for the car to maneuver automatically into even the tightest of spaces.

Other highlights in this regard include a concierge service, gesture controls for the infotainment system and wireless smartphone charging and connectivity. You won’t need to plug your iPhone into the car’s system to access CarPlay. It is automatic.BMW 5-Series

All of which should free the driver up to enjoy the car’s new engine variations, which will initially include a 2-liter four cylinder 252hp unit (0-100km/h in 6.2 seconds) and a three-liter straight six with 340hp on tap and a 4.8 second 0-100km/h time. Though faster and more powerful than existing engines, both are more fuel efficient and by mid 2017 drivers will also have the choice of a hybrid  and an all-wheel drive M550i xDrive model with a 462hp V8 under the hood and a 4.0-second 0-100km/h time. That should be enough to keep keen drivers happy until the next M5 comes along.

“The seventh generation of the BMW 5 Series points the way into the future, as we have defined it with our NUMBER ONE > NEXT strategy,” said Krüger. “I’m in no doubt that the new BMW 5 Series will set new benchmarks technologically, but also have huge emotional appeal.”