The raspy echo of a snarling V8 carrying over the desert sand is usually something that would conjure up thoughts of American iron and righteous lawlessness. The movie Vanishing Point comes to mind, and the Dodge Challenger is just the car I would normally think of when the topic of V8s echoing over desert sands arises. But in this case, what I am describing is not a muscle car, but a suave British exotic, fresh from the pages of a novel by Ian Fleming. I am of course talking about an Aston Martin, the V8 Vantage S to be exact, and no, I cannot promise that will be my last James Bond reference because such cliches are obligatory when a journalist drives an Aston, of course.
My drive took place on the racetrack at Exotics Racing in Las Vegas, Nevada. I doubt many Aston Vantages see track time in the hands of their owners, but it was very interesting to get to know this little car in a setting where I could actually explore a good bit of its potential. Exotics Racing had unfortunately unhooked all of the machine guns and the oil slick from the car (things that come standard on every Aston), but on the positive side, that made the car lighter.
I recently visited Mach 5 Cars to take part in one of their Exotic Rally Tours. Two of my friends work for Mach 5, an exotic car rental company in the Tri-State Area, and this is something I had been meaning to do for a while now. I took a few pictures, and shot some video of the fun we had on the tour. I was partnered up with my friend, Pete, who works for Mach 5, so when he was driving things got a little crazier.
So check out the video and the photos. Enjoy the sights and sounds of what was surely one of the more exciting days I have had in a while. We look forward to more collaborations with Mach 5 Cars in the future. Check out their website, and give them a call if you want to get yourself behind the wheel… their Exotic Rally Tours are one of the best values in the business. Enjoy.
Porsche is a brand with plenty of varied supporters and detractors. What’s funny is, some of those supporters are also detractors. Whether it was the 911 going to a water-cooled engine, the 911 getting the nose of the Boxster, the 911 going to electric power steering, the Cayenne launching, or the idea (even the idea! For shame!) that Porsche would–GASP!–produce a four door sedan. Any change, and they start screaming.
I’m not one of those people. The Panamera has been a big hit for Porsche financially and I have seen more and more of them on the road since the car’s 2009 launch in America. I hadn’t driven one yet and for some reason, just didn’t think much of it until I was at the Porsche Zentrum at the Quail Lodge in August. When I arrived, I signed up to drive this four-door Porsche, only because the 911s on hand were all booked completely. I thought I’d regret this decision until I turned the key…
Hyundai has transformed itself over the last decade, going from the stereotype maker of cheap jalopies to a company that is now taking on the biggest names in the luxury market. The Equus you see here is the culmination of those efforts, a car that claims to strike directly at the standard of the world, the Mercedes S class.
It is really crazy to think that the same company which makes the economy-minded Elantra can also produce this posh luxury bruiser. Other companies, like Honda and Toyota, created whole new brands (Acura and Lexus) for their upmarket efforts in the US, but Hyundai has decided to keep everything under one flag.
This does beg some questions: Can the Equus really work as a Hyundai in a country where people are obsessed purely with their own self image? And furthermore, if we put the Equus up against its claimed competitors, will it stand up to the challenge?
Chrysler’s SRT lineup screams for attention these days. The Challenger SRT appeals to the little kid inside of us, even if it’s not as dynamically capable as the competition. The SRT Viper has the bedroom poster market cornered for the company (even if sales aren’t great right now) and the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is a screaming deal. Meanwhile, the sole Chrysler product to wear the badge, the 300, sits in the corner of the showroom and doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention. At Pebble Beach, the first car I took out on the Seventeen-Mile Drive was this icy black 300 SRT. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but after a lot of thinking, I believe I have an answer.
Waves crash into the rocks of the shore. There is a thick wall of fog that lingers out over the water, but the sun beams down brightly at the coast. A sustained sea breeze rustles the branches of crooked Cyprus trees, and a ribbon of asphalt winds gracefully along the perimeter of the rocky cliffs that overlook the sea. There is no traffic to speak of, only me at the helm of this bright-orange Jaguar F-Type.
The wind plows through my hair, as I rush through the glamorous scenery, as if in some sort of hurry to leave this oasis of Heaven I’ve found on Earth. Loud barks and crackles emanate from the high-strung V6 engine, echoing back to my ears off of the trees as I fly by. The high-pitched whine of a supercharger joins in as the revs charge toward redline, and the speed piles on at an exhilarating rate. I touch the brakes for an upcoming bend, and turn in at what should be highway speed. The F-Type clings to the road as if with mighty claws, completely at home with the rapid pace I have set. Getting back on the gas, I shoot out of the corner with haste, now staring right into the face of the massive expanse of ocean and fog. It feels as if I am about to charge into the abyss when the road turns me back toward the sun and the trees. As I continue forth, I just can’t help thinking “what an unbelievable experience this is.”
As everyone who reads this site knows, I drove an Aston Martin in Las Vegas back in early July. However, the first car I drove that day was this Mercedes SLS. I didn’t plan on driving it. I was slated to take the wheel of a Ferrari F430 Scuderia, but its transmission decided it hated the obscenely hot temperatures even more than I did. It was 115 degrees in the shade, but I felt ice-cold driving this Iridium Silver SLS. Having driven one already on the street and needing a car that could handle the Vegas summer scorch, I agreed to replace the temporarily broken F430 with this intriguing set of wheels. The experience was rather eye-opening.
The 7 Series is the flagship model in the BMW lineup. A far cry from a zippy little M3, the 7 Series has always had its focus on being a luxury cruiser. It competes in the top of the line limousine class against the likes of Mercedes’ legendary S Class, a car which has set the standard of automotive luxury for sometime now. In order to take on such formidable opposition, BMW has had to use some clever ingenuity to make the 7 Series appealing, and it doesn’t get more appealing than the top two models we have here.
In one corner we have the Alpina B7, an upgraded vehicle that has been factory sanctioned. Alpina has had a long relationship with BMW as a third party tuner, similar to AMG and Mercedes before they were officially brought together in 1990. Alpina models are usually marketed as alternatives to cars from BMW’s M Division, but in this case, there is no BMW “M7”, so the Alpina B7 is as close as you can get.
Of course, you might instead fancy having the ultimate 7 Series that BMW makes themselves. That would be our other contender, the BMW 760Li. It is a more traditional take on a top-end luxury limousine with a proper V12 under its hood.
Hyundai has no secrets in its intentions. Since 2009, this company has managed to make itself look leagues better than almost everyone. When one company screws up in the news, Hyundai has a positive headline on the same page of the local newspaper. Somehow, they can make the entry-level Accent and Elantra and sell them in the same dealers as the high-end Genesis sedan, as well as the subject of this review, the flagship Equus. No other car company can sell a range as diverse as this under the same franchise roof. Hyundai bills the big Equus as a car to fight the S-Class for a much lower price. On paper, that’s quite a clear truth, but I had to drive it to see if that advertising line lives up to its billing.
Infiniti just seems to want to watch the world burn. For some reason they deemed it a good idea to rename their whole entire lineup, for no reason whatsoever. Every Infiniti is now named Q, with some meaningless number. The car you see here is the new Q50, the replacement for the current G37 sedan. As the replacement for the G, which is surely Infiniti’s best selling model of all time, the Q50 has big shoes to fill. This one isn’t an ordinary Q50, though, this is the much-anticipated Q50 Hybrid. So in addition to filling the G37’s shoes, the Hybrid must also make a case for itself in some new territory.
Briefly looking back, the G35 was the car that really launched Infiniti into what it is today. It was based on the same platform as the Nissan 350Z, making it a true 4-door sports car. What resulted was the car that gave the BMW 3 Series its most formidable challenge to date.
Boy has the world changed a lot since the G35 first came out. The emphasis in the luxury market is now on multitasking, both from the car and from the driver. A car needs to be comfortable, but also sporty enough for you to weave in and out of traffic at 90mph while you’re updating your Facebook status and texting your friends. The pure focus on driving is all but dead at this point, even BMW has made that obvious. While luxury cars must still be dynamically capable, and “fast”, the priority for most buyers is now on cool gadgets and hypothetical fuel economy numbers.
Looking at the Q50, especially the Hybrid, it is easy to see that it is a car built for our modern world. I must confess, that when I actually drove the car, I knew very little about it. Since my drive, I have been doing a lot of research to help with this article, and I am finding that the Q50 Hybrid may, in fact, be one of the most interesting cars on the market.
Jaguar is on a serious roll lately. They have gone from a company that was on its back to a company that everyone is watching very closely in less than 6 years’ time, thanks to a few new models, a new parent company, and a large amount of development money that’s been spent effectively. I’ve been waiting 2 years to drive another Jaguar XJ after taking a used one out for a spin in North Jersey. While I was with Nick at the Pebble Beach Concours, that wait ended abruptly with the roar of the 550hp XJR. I had to ask: Is this car worth its price and will it be on a new level of performance compared to the old XJR? I took the wheel of this silver-grey 2014 model around the 17-Mile Drive to find out.
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Of the muscle cars back in the 1960s-70s, I always find myself drawn to Mopars the most. Something about their cartoonish, yet badass nature. A bright green Challenger, a purple Plymouth Barracuda, and the roar of a 426 Hemi V8, that just defines the flavor of the era for me.
Back in 2008, Chrysler blessed the world with the reincarnation of the legendary Dodge Challenger. With its retro look, it seemed poised to reignite the muscle car wars with the Ford Mustang, and the soon-to-be-released Chevrolet Camaro. However, we are not in the 1960s anymore, and there are far more contenders than just the good old American boys these days.
My real question going into this drive was, where does the Challenger fit in today? Is it still a Muscle Car in the traditional sense, or has it adapted, like the Camaro SS has, to meet modern expectations of handling performance?