Tag Archives: luxury car

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.”

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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.

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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!

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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.”

Ferrari GTC4Lusso T

Ferrari GTC4Lusso T: Family Supercar

With the Paris Motor Show just around the corner, car manufacturers are releasing information on their latest creations in time for the main event – the Ferrari GTC4Lusso is one such car. Italian automaker Ferrari says the new car is the perfect balance of sporty and sleek. We got the chance to see the model T in person in Singapore last week, and we weren’t disappointed. Images from this first-in-Asia launch are included below.

Inspired by the GTC4 Lusso, the new GTC4 Lusso T does far more than add a T to end of the name. Unlike the GTC4 Lusso, the new model is fitted with a turbocharged V8 engine (hence the T). The objective was to allow drivers to have an all-rounded experience, the kind that works for prosaic transportation needs like grocery runs . The earlier model’s V12 engine caters to keen drivers and those planning on pan-European roadtrips while the new engine makes the model T (as we’ve taken to calling the Ferrari GTC4 Lusso T) good clean fun for the whole family.

Ferrari GTC4Lusso T: Family Supercar

Ferrari GTC4Lusso T at its Singapore debut last week

The four-seater car no longer features a four-wheel drive system; instead it relies on a rear wheel drive that is controlled via a seven-speed paddle-shift gearbox. It does however carry over the four-wheel steering system to the new model and that aids in the high-speed stability and low speed maneuverability. Thanks to the V8, the GTC4 Lusso T is able to manage the race to 100 km/h in just 3.5 seconds. The model T tops out at 320km/h.

The aforementioned four-wheel steering is set up to optimize cornering in an urban context with all four wheels turning in the same direction – many a wide-bodied V12 Ferrari driver has been caught out by the tightness of a bend at low speeds and has been forced to take two or three attempts to exit a junction or take a slip road.

The company also says that the engine, although it sounds wonderful with the taps open should also be suitably subdued at lower speeds in order to help drivers stay alert.

The Ferrari GTC4Lusso T will make its global debut at the 2016 Paris Motor Show which opens to the public on October 1.

The interior of the Ferrari GTC4Lusso

The interior of the Ferrari GTC4Lusso

Chevrolet Announces Genovation GXE For Order

Chevrolet Genovation GXE: Fastest All-Electric Car

It may look like the Chevrolet C7 Grand Sport Corvette but the Chevrolet Genovation GXE certainly doesn’t sound like it. At $750,000, the Genovation GXE from Chevrolet is powered by electric motors and battery packs that provide an impressive 660 horse power to the rear wheels.

Going from 0 to 60 mph in three seconds, the car is able to produce a top speed of 205.6 mph. With its quite precise top speed rating, the Genovation GXE is now officially the world’s fastest street-legal all-electric vehicle. “We are very proud of what we have accomplished with the GXE thus far, pushing the limits for electric-powered cars beyond what most people thought was possible,” said Andrew Saul, CEO of Genovation. Of course, the car hasn’t made it to the streets yet and, actually, competitors such as Tesla (still the quickest electric car) will have plenty of time to challenge that speed rating (which we will get to in a moment).

Engineered for track racing, the GXE has a manual transmission, a genuine novelty on 100% electric cars, but it is there for torque multiplication, a necessity when trying to compete for position on a circuit.

However, if being used as a daily driver, Genovation claims it can simply be left in third gear the whole time, except when you need to go backwards, of course.

And it is as an everyday car that the GXE is most likely to return a range of 130-150 miles on a single charge, but that’s still twice as far as the 2005 Ford GT could go on a single tank of gasoline.

By adapting an existing car, Genovation has managed to avoid two of the biggest problems new companies face when entering the car market. The first is that things like the fit and finish of doors, cabin switches and creature comforts are the difficult parts of building a car. Mating a powertrain with a transmission is comparatively easy. The second is crash testing. The cars have to meet federal safety standards and the costs of the tests are immense.

Unfortunately, though the car can go from 0-100km/h in just 3.0 seconds, and it zipped past some thorny production issues, it will take three years to go from accepted order to delivery. This is because each car will take two years to design and a further 12 months to build to individual customer specification.

However, by 2019, though the GXE will be unique – the company aims to build each of the initial 75 models as totally bespoke orders – electric cars of all shapes and sizes could actually be a common sight with annual global sales of between 3-5 million. However, very few of them will come with the GXE’s $750,000 premium price tag.

fisker-karma

Henrik Fisker Announces Fisker Automotive Return

Henrik Fisker is reviving Fisker Automotive and plans to introduce an all-new premium electric car that is expected to be unveiled in mid-2017. With talks that it will set the new standard for range between charges, there are high expectations for the vehicle. Bear in mind that this is completely different to the Karma Revero, which we covered previously.

Said to have greater head room and leg room that other cars in production, the vehicle is also expected to be constructed using innovative materials and will incorporate revolutionary battery technology. Little else is known about the new design. “Fisker Inc. will spearhead a revolution in electric cars that will disrupt the electric vehicle market and change the world,” said Henrik Fisker, who will serve as Chairman and CEO of the reformed company.

Back in 2012, the company launched the world’s first electrically propelled luxury GT called the Fisker Karma. The vehicle used a petrol generator to recharge the battery and was a bold vision by the brand. And because it was designed and conceived by the man that had been responsible for sketching the BMW Z8 and the Aston Martin DB9, the car and the company generated huge excitement.

Unfortunately, a combination of poor sales, problems with suppliers and a natural disaster forced Fisker to walk away and the company went into bankruptcy. “Both the technology and the market are more mature now than when we first started out as pioneers in the electric vehicle industry, and our new vehicle will be the most innovative and cutting-edge electric car ever created,” said Fisker. “With our game-changing battery technology, now is the time to develop more affordable, mass market vehicles,” he added.

Mercedes Teases EV SUV Concept with Video

Mercedes Teases EV SUV Concept with Video

So, what is an EV SUV anyway and why does Mercedes have one? This new video (below) from Mercedes Benz skips these questions and instead asks drivers if they’re “ready to change.” Ok, it does offer a tiny glimpse of what to expect when its long-gestating plug-in electric (that is the EV part) SUV concept car arrives at the Paris Motor Show on September 29.

Expected to be called the EQG (this alphabet soup bit is par for the course for Mercedes) and to mark the launch of a new EQ Mercedes-Benz sub-brand, the concept car is high on futuristic styling and fluorescent mood lighting. Although the video gives very little substance to the company’s claims that the car is truly revolutionary, it does confirm that the show car will have a minimalistic yet luxurious cabin that follows current interior design language and the same proportions externally as the company’s current flagship GLS SUV.

Although Mercedes has toyed with electrification in the past (it sells an electric B-Class MPV and this month rolled out the latest generation of its electric SMART cars), the company is making a statement of intent with this show car: it takes plug-in electric vehicles seriously and it aims to be more Tesla than Tesla before the end of this decade.

According to the latest Jato Dynamics figures, published Tuesday, electric and hybird vehicle popularity is growing rapidly. Over the first half of 2016, 231,300 plug-in electric or plug-in hybrid cars were sold across Europe – that’s a 27% increase year on year – and means that together they now represent 3% of the current European car market. If growth continues at this rate, then they will represent 12-14% of new car sales by the end of the decade, and that is the moment when Mercedes will be planning to really launch its electric vehicle offensive.

And to generate as much interest and excitement as possible it should come as no surprise that Mercedes went for an SUV.

One in three Mercedes sold globally is now of the SUV or crossover variety. Over the first six months of 2016 there was a 22% spike in C-segment SUV sales in Europe – i.e., models such as the Audi Q3, meaning they now represent 10% of the market. Full-size SUVs have also experienced a 16% surge in popularity in the first six months of 2016. Cars like the Jeep Cherokee, Toyota Land Cruiser and Mercedes GLC represent 1% of the market or 106,000 sales.

However, Mercedes won’t have it all its own way at this year’s show. VW will also be using the event to unveil its next-generation EV concept and like Mercedes, Volkswagen is claiming its car will usher in a revolution and that it will be able to cover 400 miles on a single charge.

Mercedes-Maybach S 600 Pullman Guard

Mercedes-Maybach S 600 Pullman Guard: Bomb Proof

When the Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullman Guard arrives in the second half of 2017, the 6.5 meter long, 5.6-tonne limousine will offer a challenge to any Rolls-Royce or Bentley in terms of interior space, creature comforts and passenger safety – even from bombs and bullets. The vehicle provides rear face-to-face seating so that four passengers will be able conduct a moving meeting while sipping champagne from bespoke crystal glasses. Perhaps the bubbly might be a little inappropriate for some meetings but it is a good option to have, especially if you have just escaped an assassination attempt. 

And when the passengers are done conversing, the two seats in the third row are able to recline, similar to a business class flight, complete with adjustable calf rest for a well-needed rest.

As mentioned, since this car conforms to protection class VR9 and Directive ERV 2010, bombs and grenades shouldn’t disrupt anyone’s power nap.

Everything from the floor to the windows is reinforced to withstand bullets, shrapnel and explosive devices. The armor plating on the doors is so dense that Mercedes has had to fit motors to the hinges so that someone with regular human strength can open and close them easily without rupturing a muscle group. Take a look at the interior below and just imagine how heavy those doors must be. Also, if you’re a Mountain-size human, it looks like you might find the space challenging…

Mercedes-Maybach S 600 Pullman Guard

Interior

The reason the Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullman Guard is able to offer such high levels of protection can be found in the reinforcing and other security elements that are integrated directly into the car’s basic structure, rather than added later as happens when people customize their vehicles after purchase. This approach also means that although the vehicle is considerably heavier than a ‘stock’ Pullman (the S 600 Pullman is Mercedes’ current absolute flagship), it should still behave like a car, not a tank, on the open road. Of course, that means the car is still a pleasant ride for passenger but it does provide some pleasures for the driver too.

The V12 bi-turbo engine has been tuned for power over speed. There’s 530hp on tap but a huge 830Nm of torque available at even low revs, so it will always be able to pull away. And though Mercedes has electronically limited the top speed to reduce the severity of a potential collision, it will still hit 100mph (160km/h). Bear in mind this is a 12,000-pound machine so just getting it to 160km/h is herculean. 

“Besides providing spacious seating in first-class comfort for high-ranking passengers, the Mercedes-Maybach Pullman is of course the embodiment of exclusivity at its highest level,” said Ola Källenius, Mercedes-Benz Cars head of sales and marketing. “One can sense the significance and greatness of it in every detail.”

Prices for the Pullman Guard will begin at €1.4 million.  

Goodwood Revival Welcomes Aston Martin DBR1

Once upon a time, Aston Martin had a sterling reputation in the world of motor racing and it was all down to one car, the Aston Martin DBR1. This legendary car is set to hit the track once more as one of the many highlights at the Goodwood Revival later this week. In case you need a reminder, the DBR1 helped win the luxury automaker the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1959. Thanks to that win nearly five decades ago, Aston Martin was able to lay out the engineering and stylistic blueprint for all Astons. Even the modern DB11 bears some resemblance to the DBR1.

Along with the DBR1, Aston Martin is also bringing the 1961 DB4 GT Zagato and two examples of the DB3S from 1953 and 1955. “Goodwood provides two very different but equally special events for Aston Martin: the Festival of Speed and the Revival,” said Aston Martin President and CEO Dr Andy Palmer. “It seems entirely fitting, therefore, that Aston Martin plays its part once again this year and gives the visiting crowds something truly memorable to admire and experience.” Of course, the crowds are also part of the spectacle as period clothing is de rigueur.

Located at the Goodwood House in West Sussex, England, the Goodwood Revival celebrates vintage motoring and historical racing. The event is one where no car built after 1966 is allowed on track and attendees are required to come in period clothing to gain access (hence our point above). Running from September 9 to 11, this is one event that true enthusiasts won’t want to miss.

Porsche Welcomes Macan Compact SUV Range

The Porsche Macan Turbo with Performance package — to give it its full title — takes the existing Macan Turbo as its starting point but then dials up the power and the performance several notches.

The 3.6-liter twin-turbocharged V6 nestling under its compact hood now outputs 440hp; that’s a 40hp increase, and 600Nm of torque (a 50Nm improvement) in order to get the SUV off the line and on to 100km/h in 4.4 seconds, then on to a 272km/h top speed if the owner is lucky enough to be driving on the Autobahn where speed limits don’t apply.Porsche-macan-suv-interior

However, where restrictions are in place, that extra torque means that there’s still fun to be had. For instance, it can now accelerate from 80km/h to 100km/h (highway overtaking speeds) in just 2.9 seconds. That’s seriously impressive for what is a high-sided vehicle (1.62 meters tall) that weighs 2000kg.

To handle the extra performance, Porsche has upgraded the brakes and chassis and lowered the ride height. It’s also thrown in the Sport Chrono Package that will be familiar to 911 drivers. So there’s a stopwatch for timing laps and an extra driving mode — Sport Plus — that opens the exhaust, opens the taps on the engine and tightens up the dampers, suspension and paddle-shifted gear changes so that the driver can access everything the car has to give.

It’s impossible to exaggerate how important the Macan has become for Porsche’s bottom line since its launch in 2014. It’s well on its way to 1 million sales, and demand for the compact, premium sports SUV is such that owners are finding they can sell theirs on at a premium above the asking price as those that want one aren’t prepared to wait for Porsche to build one.Porsche-macan-suv-back

However, Porsche is not the only German car company that knows about how to make a mud plugger both premium and powerful and so to stop customers decamping to a BMW, Audi or Mercedes showroom, Porsche has added this new model to the lineup, before its competitors have a chance to catch up.

The Macan Turbo Performance Package will cost from €91,000 in Europe when it goes on sale following its official debut at the Paris motorshow, which opens to the public on October 1.

Citroën Presents CXPERIENCE Concept in Paris

The end of September will see the Mondial de L’Automobile Paris 2016 open its doors to visitors. Despite the state of this year’s show, one car manufacturer to watch is Citroën. The firm will be taking advantage of the absence of a few major names to get more attention for its own unique efforts this year. The French automaker will be bringing the CXPERIENCE concept to the show and it is already drawing attention for its perspective on the executive car.Citroen-concept-car-3

The four-door hatchback stays true to the hallmark of French automotive design by keeping things smooth and elegant, without the aggression that typically marks German and Italian designs. In principle, this is done by keeping the wheels close to each corner as possible. For some reference, just compare this with the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6. With a height of 1.37 meters and length of 4.85 meters, the car is one that comes off as sleek. According to Citroën, the exterior of the car features a glass roof as well as a concave rear window, providing minimal visual clutter. In place of wing mirrors, the car has cameras; headlamps are cleverly hidden within its wraparound front grille, which is said to have been inspired by current high-tech trends.

Within the car, Citroën uses breathable natural fabrics that are paired with wooden panelling. With four seats, the cabin is reminiscent of a cozy cocoon that envelops you in intentionally oversized seats. The entertainment system is integrated into each headrest, which ensures that voices never have to be raised. To contrast the citrus yellow seats, the brand has padded the flat floor with dark leather. This sense of space and de-cluttering is emphasized further by the rejection of many knobs and dials in favor of touch screens – a central display in the front and a shared tablet for rear-seat passengers, both boasting an interface developed for ease of use.Citroen-concept-car-2

As for propulsion, the concept is a plug-in hybrid, capable of covering 60km on battery power alone. “[The car] challenges convention to express a new vision of executive hatchbacks,” said Linda Jackson, Citroën Global CEO. “CXPERIENCE CONCEPT illustrates the brand’s capacity to deploy its “Be Different, Feel Good” promise in this segment.”

 

A 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider by Touring © Darin Schnabel Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

Record-Setting Car Auctions: Concours 2016

“The rise of Ferrari across the board has been a bit of phenomenon of the last 10 years,” begins Peter Haynes from RM Sotheby’s. Not only have the incredibly rare models from the 1950s and 60s rocketed in value but in recent years the prices of even 1980s and 90s Ferraris have jumped significantly — $575,000 for a 2001 Ferrari 550 Barchetta, anyone?

But is that about to change? “It’s a relatively limited pool of people that want to buy the very high value cars,” says Haynes. “You could potentially argue that Ferrari has been overheated because there have been far too many big Ferraris coming to market.”

A 1931 Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Racing Two Seater is one of the stars of this year's Bonhams sale. © Courtesy of Bonhams

A 1931 Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Racing Two Seater is one of the stars of this year’s Bonhams sale.

What sends an auction into a frenzy is when a seriously significant car that has been in private ownership for a very long period of time finally comes up for sale.

“There are lots of lovely Bugattis that haven’t come to market over recent years. Lots of D-Type Jags. And now that they are, they are shining,” says Haynes.

And after years of unavailability, a Le Mans-winning D-Type is coming up and it has a conservative estimate of $20-$25 million. “A big, historically significant car doesn’t need to be a Ferrari to make a record price. A Le Mans-winning D-Type Jag is always going to be one of the most valuable cars in the world,” says Haynes.

This 1955 Jaguar D-Type won the 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans. © Patrick Ernzen Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

This 1955 Jaguar D-Type won the 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans.
© Patrick Ernzen Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

But the D-Type isn’t a solo performer. There is a 1931 Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Racing Two Seater ($14-$20 million+) that went under the hammer at Bonhams’ Quai Lodge auction on August 19 (It actually sold for $4 million, narrowly edging the Ferrari LaFerrari at the same sale). Or a 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider by Touring, one of only 12 in the world if you had upwards of $25 million to spare and attended the RM Sotheby’s sale. It closed for $19.8 million, making it the 8th most expensive car ever sold at auction.

A new order?

And then then there’s the total wildcard. The original Shelby Cobra, the car that Carroll Shelby himself built and owned until the day he died. A car that has never, ever come up for sale and one that represents Genesis verse one, chapter one in the bible of American international motorsports history. A normal Cobra can fetch upwards of $1.5 million. This one could fetch 20 times more. In the end, when the gavel fell, the car sold for $13.8 million, making it the most expensive American car ever sold at auction. It is, by our reckoning, number 21 on the list of most expensive cars in the world sold at auction.

“All of these cars are absolutely capable of entering the top 10, which up to now has been almost exclusively dominated by Ferrari,” says Haynes. From what we have seen, only the Alfa 8C lived to this billing, which is still a big thrill.

The very first Shelby Cobra CSX2000 © RM Sotheby's

The very first Shelby Cobra CSX2000
© RM Sotheby’s

As well as Ferrari fatigue, any possible rearranging of the top 10 is also down to changing tastes. Every year the average age of auction attendees drops as does the age of the cars they covet. This leads to even Japanese models becoming motoring icons and thus collectible.

“We can only guess what our kids may be potentially interested in buying when they hit their 40s,” explains Haynes. “How will they view something like a Ferrari Daytona? They might think it’s very cool or they might think its a horrendous antique not worth the garage space. It’s going to be interesting.”

2017-range-rover

2017 Range Rover: Dynamic Reboot

Everyone’s favorite off-roader will be getting a bit of a boost, it seems. For its 2017 model year, Range Rover’s flagship SUV, the SVAutobiography, will soon be more powerful, more intelligent and apparently more ‘dynamic’ – or so says its name.

First, let’s talk about the more exciting flagship option: the sportier ‘SVAutobiography Dynamic’. With a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 petrol engine that will generate all 542bhp, ZF’s eight-speed automatic box (yes, the same one in the Range Rover SVR and Jag’s F-Type) and 502lb-ft of torque, the SUV manages a rambunctious top speed of 140mph and will bring you to 60mph in 5.1 seconds.

Range Rover complements all that power with sharper suspension and steering, a lowered ride height of 8mm and ‘Dynamic Response.’ That’s Range Rover’s intelligent solution to preventing body roll when cornering at speed by applying equal and opposing forces via the front and rear axle. It also monitors the car’s behavior according to the driver’s input and will adjust suspension according to changes in the road surface.

2017-range-rover

Mark Stanton, Director of Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations, said: “The Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic has been specially developed by the Special Vehicle Operations team to deliver a more engaging driving experience. It delivers the ultimate combination of performance and Range Rover luxury, befitting its unique position in the portfolio.”

2017-range-rover

Range Rover has also delved into the brave new world of autonomous technology. Low Traction Launch will help get you out of slippery situations such as ice and wet grass gracefully; Advanced Tow assist will make manoeuvring with a trailer or horsebox stress-free by pre-plotting the course to take. A set of apps will plan journeys including the sections that will be on foot, learn the owner’s routine to automatically offer the best route in real time and even send arrival time updates to friends and family.

 

 

4 Exotic Cars at Daytona: Charity Drive

Ever wanted to race around a world famous track, have an evening with Hollywood celebs and A-listers, and do a car show all for children’s charity? I had the privilege to attend such an event. Celebration Exotic Car Festival in Florida, gives individuals with exotic cars the opportunity to spend two days on Daytona International Speedway driving the infamous 24-hour circuit. Afterwards we headed to an amazing 5-star wine and dinner cooked by Wolfgang Puck himself.

Of course, to close the fun few days, there was a car show that Make a Wish Foundation had some Wish Kids attend. I’m sure you are all want to know more about the details of the cars well, we had cars such as Pagani Huayra, Bugatti, McLaren P1, Vipers, Ferraris of your calling, along with some race cars.

Porsche GT4

Porsche GT4

During the event I had the chance to drive the new McLaren 570s which I won’t go into much as I did a story on the McLaren P1 last month but what a fast, fun, and light little car. I also had the opportunity to drive the brand new Viper ACR Xtreme. This car is pretty much a race car that is street legal. It can produce roughly 800kg of downforce and 650bhp. This thing is quick!

All American muscle with a lot of downforce, the car is a blast and brings me back to what it’s like to be in a real GT race car. The car has set production car track records everywhere it goes. The interior is full of carbon fiber and alcantara and has a great short shift manual 6 speed transmission. I also had the opportunity to take out one of the latest cars out there, the Porsche GT4. This was a fun and tactile machine.

Definitely a great car for the track, but in my opinion, a little underpowered. I think this is probably because of its bigger brother that always has the stage – the Porsche GT3 RS. Give this car 100 more bhp and I think you would have one of the fastest cars on the track. The feedback from the steering was amazing and the balance was on point.

Dodge Viper ACR Xtreme

Dodge Viper ACR Xtreme

I didn’t get the chance to drive the Pagani Huayra, but that car is a work of art as you can see from the photos. I wouldn’t consider it a track car, but more an investment and a beautiful piece of art. Everything about it was beautiful and over the top.

Each year the event has grown tremendously and helped raised over $1 million for children’s charities. Stars from Orange County Choppers, Happy Days, Star Wars cast members have attended, with next year’s special guest to include Mr. Jay Leno. If you ever are in the Central Florida area in early April, be sure to make this an event you attend, as it’s not only for an amazing cause, but also one you will never forget.

McLaren 570S

McLaren 570S

 

This article was first published in Palace magazine.

e 2017-Aston-Martin-DB9-GT-side-angle

Goodbye Aston Martin DB9, Hello DB11

The Aston Martin DB9 is no more. Yes, 13 years after the first car rolled out at Gaydon, the British car manufacturer will cease production of one of the most beautifully designed Grand Tourers in history. The company will mark the milestone with a final nine examples of the DB9 GT (pictured above), before starting work on its next highway star: the DB11.

Fans of the DB9 will remember the thunderous roar of its front mid-mounted V12 engine, all 540bhp of it. They will also never forget the day they tried tearing down the roads at its top speed of 183mph. This two-door coupe was destined to be iconic.

2014 Aston Martin DB9 Carbon Black

2014 Aston Martin DB9 Carbon Black

As the replacement for the DB7, Aston Martin christened it DB9 instead of DB8 to represent revolution rather than evolution (while conveniently dispelling misunderstandings that its engine might be eight cylinders rather than 12). The car was credited with boosting Aston’s sales almost four-fold in four years and its fan club consisted of the hard-to-please Jeremy Clarkson and Daniel Craig’s James Bond – who destroyed not one, but two DBS models, the DB9’s more aggressive twin.

James Bond 'Quantum of Solace' Aston Martin DBS

James Bond ‘Quantum of Solace’ Aston Martin DBS

Now, in collaboration with the company’s Q Division bespoke customization firm, Aston Martin will roll out the last of its kind at its Gaydon, Warwickshire production line in England. Each of the final nine DB9 GTs are custom-finished, and if you’re looking to get your hands on one, don’t bother trying – they’re all taken.

2017 Aston Martin DB9 GT

2017 Aston Martin DB9 GT

Like its predecessor, the DB11 will also mark the firm’s next big revolution; its all-new 5.2-liter twin-turbo V12 will muscle 600bhp and hit 62mph in 3.9 seconds. Aston has, however, created a one-off DB10 for the recent Bond film Spectre. But the Aston Martin DB9 will clearly never be forgotten – classic car insurance and classic car industry experts Hagerty has already noticed an increase in both demand and prices for mid-2000 produced DB9s.

Watch the Aston Martin DB9 in all its glory here:

And for old times’ sake, watch as Jeremy Clarkson proves his DB9 is up to the challenge of getting to Monte Carlo faster than Hammond and May with public transport on Top Gear.

This story is also available in Bahasa Indonesia. Read it here: Selamat Tinggal Aston Martin DB9, Halo DB11

Review: Porsche 911 Carrera S

Since Porsche created the 911 more than 50 years ago, it’s been an evolutionary process, more than a revolution. The model generally changes shape minimally and the way it generates its power comes from a flat 6, horizontally opposed, hung out over the rear axle. A layout that shouldn’t work, but does. In the standard Carrera model, you could maybe name a handful of major changes to the car since its creation. Most notably being the switch from air cooled to water cooled in the late 1990’s when the 993 gave way to the 996. The change caused stir with 911 purists, however the result was one of the most popular 911 models of all time and a far more efficient power delivery system. Having owned a 996, I can honestly say the car was bullet proof.

As the 996 gave way to the 997 and then on to the 991 v1, few changes were made with the engine, until now. For the 2017 991, Porsche has launched all Carrera models with a turbo charged engine. A company first. Typically, only models with the designated turbo badge in the 911 range have a turbo engine. However, in a move which we are seeing across the industry, manufacturers are downsizing and adding turbos to make their cars more energy efficient, while at the same time generating more horsepower and torque. Have turbos killed the legend?MIAMI_BLUE_CARRERA_S_036

I had the opportunity to try out the new model. A rear wheel drive Carrera S model with a downsized 3.0 litre engine displacing 420 HP, 500 Nm of torque and equipped with a revised 7 speed PDK gearbox. From the outside there’s relatively few changes from the previous 991 and the new 991. Like most Carrera facelifts, unless you really know what to look for, they can be difficult to see. To name a few, if the sports exhaust is fitted, it now features two mid mounted pipes, somewhat similar to the GT3.

Also, to get air to those twin turbos, the air flows through vents above the engine and small vents that can be found near the splitters at the back of the rear wheels. On the inside, a steering wheel similar to a 918 and a revised multimedia interface with Apple Play is now available.MIAMI_BLUE_CARRERA_S_027

From the moment you climb into the sumptuous cockpit, you instantly begin to recognize why this is such a useable sports car. It’s comfortable, has all the latest gadgets, yet remains so very driver focused. Even with the improved interior quality over the years, you always know you’re in a 911. It feels so familiar every time. Those 5 dials with the large rpm gauge centrally mounted, calling at you that this car means business.

In historical Le Mans starting fashion, the ignition is still on the opposite side of the steering wheel to the gear lever. As I insert the car-shaped key and turn, the familiar flat six sound burbles to life. Instantly my heart starts to race. We pull away, I start to flip through the driver settings on the steering wheel, until I reach sport and then sport +. Suddenly the exhaust gets louder, the suspension sharper, the gearshifts quicker. Yes, I think that’ll do.

There’s a gap in the traffic, I blip down a couple gears, the exhaust crackling and popping with each downshift. It’s time to go. Whoosh! I’m instantly pushed back in my seat. First gear, second gear, each change coming with racing like millisecond precision. The engine revving to just over 7k and the rear mounted spoiler rising just before I hit third gear. Turbo lag is non-existent and the response is effortless. 0 – 100 km/h on this Carrera S model is clocked at 3.9 seconds by Porsche, however they tend to state slower times then what the car can actually do. I wouldn’t be surprised if this model can hit 100 km/h in 3.6 or 3.7 seconds. It definitely felt like it.

I reach a long sweeping bend. The electronic steering which was so heavily criticized in the 991 v1, now has so much feel that I really couldn’t tell that it wasn’t hydraulic. Within a matter of seconds, we are back in traffic and I get the opportunity to try out the huge rotors equipped to the 305 rear and 245 front Pirellis. The stopping power is immense. No matter how much larger the 911 gets, it’s still feels light and on its toes when you need it to be, while being extremely planted at speed.MIAMI_BLUE_CARRERA_S_007

I have few complaints about this car, I do miss the higher revving naturally aspirated engine. The sports exhaust does help and the new car is definitely faster and more efficient, but it may have lost a little bit of its soul. I’m sure as we get more used to it, the turbos won’t come into question anymore, a bit like how hydraulic steering no longer seems an issue. Also, the rear seats, while still useable, haven’t really changed much since the first time I went in a 911, which was an early 1980’s 911 SC. Other than that, this car will be hard to beat by any of its nearest competitors. It deserves 5 stars. Porsche has managed to retain most of the 911’s core personality traits, while keeping in line with the government imposed industry trend. It will be interesting to see how the new V8 R8 by Audi and Aston Martin’s next generation Vantage stand up to the German benchmark.

Specifications:

Engine 3.0 liter twin-turbo horizontally opposed six
Horse Power 420 @ 6,500rpm
Torque 500 Nm @ 1,700rpm
0-100 km/h 3.9 (official)
Top Speed 307 km/h

This article was first published in Palace.