Porsche enthusiasts are some of the most dreadfully conservative people you’ll find when it comes to their favorite cars. Any change to the 911, large or small, gets heavily scrutinized to the n’th degree. All too often, they let their nit picking blind them, and they often wind up missing all of the new 911’s great aspects. The evolution of new models is a necessary fact of life, and it usually makes the car better overall, otherwise Porsche wouldn’t do it. The new 911, the 991, has followed this same trend, being criticized every which way against older Porsche models. I chose a more positive approach. Not, “how is the 991 worse than its predecessors?”, but “how does the 991 faire as a modern 911?”
I remember when I was first coming down with my major case of the car bug, the Ferrari 360 was the first car I saw that had a paddle shift transmission. While the F1 gearbox was offered in the F355, the 360 was the first model where enough of the kinks had been ironed out to make it a viable alternative to the traditional manual. Technology has come quite a long way since then, and the 360 is no longer on the tip of the technological spear. But once a Ferrari, always a Ferrari, and it still has quite a lot of appeal for buyers on the secondhand market. With this context in mind, I went into my drive in this 360 Modena ready to judge how it stands in our current day and age.
When most people think of Jeep, they think of Wranglers plowing through mud and climbing over rocks. They don’t, however, think of a 470hp V8, 0-60 in 4.6 seconds, and surely not of a $65,000 price tag. Meet the 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT-8, a different sort of Jeep.
It caters more toward the realistic type of SUV buyer here in America. One who will probably never forge a stream in their life, but still wants a big car to go to the mall in. Understanding this sort of buyer will help you understand why the Cherokee SRT-8 exists. The fact is, most buyers use SUVs in the exact same way they would use a car, and they wind up wanting the same things offered in cars. Just look at the BMW X6. It is both an SUV, as well as one of those coupe-sedan thingys, like the Mercedes CLS. Personally, I think the people who buy a vehicle like an X6 exude an especially repulsive level of vanity, but somehow BMW manages to sell enough X6s to make it worthwhile.
This sort of clientele purchasing SUVs has inevitably taken the emphasis off of off road ability, and put it on more traditional, car like, aspects. The result has been new SUVs that are basically just big cars, and it was only so long before someone said “Hey, can I have a fast one?”
What is this, a bright blue…. Jaguar?! Everyone, meet the XFR-S, a different sort of Jag. One that throws away the high society manners in favor of a bottle of scotch, and a line of coke.
It was only around four months ago that Jaguar released the XFR-S at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show. However, during my recent trip to Amelia Island, they had them available for test drives. When I asked about video taping my drive the Jaguar representatives told me they couldn’t allow it because the press has not yet driven the XFR-S. After hearing this I made sure to keep my affiliation with this publication to myself, pretending just to be another young guy looking for a joy ride. I guess you could say that this is as much of a scoop as we have yet gotten, and my experience in the XFR-S, while fairly short, yielded some interesting impressions.
I was left feeling a little mediocre when I reviewed the standard Jaguar XFR a few months ago. It had many great qualities, but it sat in an awkward place in the market, priced a little below the BMW M5 and Mercedes E63, yet still far above the bargain Cadillac CTS-V. It was also a little sub par in terms of comparative power and performance.
The XFR-S seems to have changed things up, though. It now matches its competitors in outright performance, and seems to have turned everything that was good about the XFR up to eleven. Sure, at a base price of $99,000, its MSRP is a bit more than that of an M5 or E63, but it is also an extremely limited production vehicle, with a run that will amount to just 300 units total (100 for the US). The overall feeling I came away with was that by turning the XFR into the XFR-S, Jaguar has made a car that is truly worth spending your hard earned money on. In the past I had said that the R-S badge was a bit of a gimmick on the XKR-S, over the standard XKR, but it seems the story for the XF models is different. The XFR-S sits in the context of the super saloon segment, which is very different from where the XKs are placed in the grand touring segment. This change of context makes a big difference for the R-S badge.
The term “luxury” is very profound in the automotive world, one single phrase that evokes so much about a car’s nature. It is something that goes far beyond the face value of leather seats, and some fine wood veneer. Luxury implies a balance of heritage and modern sophistication, being up with the times, but staying true to one’s self. There is also a sense of great power, but with the wisdom to use it tastefully, and intelligently. Class is everything for luxury cars, but identity is most important when choosing between them. After all, if you are going to spend six figures on a mode of transportation, you don’t want it to be something “typical”. And with that I give you the Jaguar XJL Supersport, one such luxury car that I had the pleasure of sampling this past fall.
The family sedan is the average car meant to suit the needs of average people. In fact it is much like the average person, exuding an inoffensive image that is considered acceptable by all parts of society. Sedans are the standard of the automobile, and today there are a host of cookie cutter options available from every manufacturer. The term “typical” comes to mind when looking at a sedan, everything normal, and going as planned in life. So what happens when one of these typical looking fellows goes mad behind the scenes, and starts mutilating innocent people? Meet Jack The Ripper, aka the Jaguar XFR.
The BMW 6-Series can be a tough car to really pin down. Based on its market price and its layout, it is a direct competitor to cars like the Jaguar XJ and the Porsche 911. That said, its size is on the big side for a personal coupe, yet it wears its size well. I was at the Greenwich Concours and BMW had this and a 750i available for test drives, so I took the plunge and gave this rather expensive droptop a good shakedown. Then, I got a chance to drive a 750i, equipped with xDrive AWD, the long-wheelbase body, and the M-Sport trim (an interesting combination that should definitely go over well in the Northeast, where AWD is an important selling point). I took each out and asked myself a question: These two cars are based on pretty much the same platform in different lengths–which one does the job that it sets out to do in the better manner, and which one is actually better overall? I was surprised by the results. Read the rest of this entry »
Sunlight falls gently on the forest floor, a slight breeze rustles leaves on the trees, birds chirp, bees buzz, and the temperature can only be described as perfect. This serenity of nature was disturbed while the echo of mechanical torment emanated from the exhausts of my Jag as I flew past. The beauty of the setting was but a blur as I was catapulted forward by a stampede of 500 angry mares. Rapid acceleration, then all the opposite as I get on the brakes for an upcoming bend. I click the left paddle for an aggressive downshift into 2nd, and as the engine roars up near redline, a series of crackling explosions erupt from the exhaust. It is a symphony that could shake the strongest foundations, and it was so moving from the driver’s seat that I burst out laughing like a giddy little girl. This was my favorite moment during my recent drive in this XKR convertible; one that I feel exemplifies the car’s specific appeal. Read the rest of this entry »
I probably don’t need to tell you by now that this is the Nissan GTR, an automotive hero in pop culture that is coveted by the Gran Turismo generation. I do however wish to comment on why I have chosen to render one of the most technologically advanced cars of our time in black and white. You see, the Ferraris in the background are bright red, and would surely steal a looker’s eye even though they are not the focus of this picture. In many ways this serves as a metaphor for what the GTR has done to the supercar realm, taking all the flash and glamour away and meeting each of its opponents in a straight fight on open ground. It forces you to ignore the history, and the flash that many supercars rely on for their appeal, in favor of pure dynamic merits alone. Around a racetrack it doesn’t matter what direction your doors open, or how many people visit your car company’s theme park in year, all that matters is your lap time, and here the GTR has shown up most of the lot of them. This car is a modern day icon, something that everyone must respect whether it is of their taste or not. I had been itching to get my hands on one since they came out, and I finally got the chance during my recent visit to Exotics Racing in Las Vegas.
This is obviously quite an incredible car, one that is drooled over by the masses and treated as automotive royalty my most car buffs. I am guilty of doing much drooling over the Aventador myself of course, and I honestly think it is the best looking scissor-doored Lambos of all time; all of its insane looks and proportions are just perfect. I could just spend all my time here mindlessly ogling over the Aventador, and cater to the belief that such cars are indeed automotive royalty and can do no wrong. That, however, would not be the truth because the real story with all V12 Lambos is that, underneath all the speed, the sound, and the auto exotica, they have all had big flaws. Sure, many of their flaws add to the exotic experience on the street, and none would be a true Lamborghini without this aspect, but many of their shortcomings have also been in their driving experience. So how does the Aventador stack up to its ancestry? I went to Exotics Racing in Las Vegas to find out.
Four-door coupes are one of the fastest-growing segments in this country. Mercedes started the ball rolling with the CLS, and as of now, the other two German luxury brands have answered the call with interpretations of their own. BMW recently launched the 6-Series Gran Coupe, while Audi started selling their entry last year, the A7. Towards the end of December 2011, my father and I stopped by the local dealer and drove this stunning white example to find out how good the A7 is. Read the rest of this entry »
The Porsche 911 Turbo has become an icon over the years, offering full on supercar performance, but in the same package as a basic 911. The car we have here is the fastest 911 Turbo produced to date, the 997 Turbo S. Its performance literally rivals some of the fastest cars on the planet, including the mighty Bugatti Veyron in many respects. I am not usually one for defining a car around its performance figures but here are some numbers to wrap your head around before we continue: 0-60mph in 2.6 sec, 0-100mph in 6.3 sec, the ¼ mile in 10.7 sec @ 129mph, 1.02g on the skidpad, 73.3mph in the slalom, and a supposed top speed of 195mph but I would guess it is capable of 200+ (seeing as how a normal Carrera S can do 188mph with far less power). As far as performance goes this 997 Turbo S is about as serious as they come, and I knew this going into my drive at Exotics Racing in Las Vegas. Excitement and a whiff of intimidation were pumping through my veins as I took the wheel of the quickest production Porsche ever built. Read the rest of this entry »