Well, like all things, this story has to end. It was September 2017, and the Lincoln was running and driving with a new battery, water pump, and fuel pump. The power steering system was still leaking like a sieve and it smelled funny like always, but I did not care. The day I picked it up, I took over running a poker game at a local bar and everyone was genuinely shocked to see me pull up in the thing, especially after I’d killed it on the highway a week prior. With a whole day of driving in hot September temperatures under its belt, I was confident the Lincoln could make it on the trip it didn’t make the year prior–Radnor. Continue reading The Lincoln Mark VII Chronicles, Part VI: All Good Things Come to an End.
Context is everything. We all make our judgments off of our own experiences prior to the present in an effort to navigate most-effectively through the world. I had been looking forward to getting behind the wheel of an Infiniti Q60 Red Sport for a while. Infiniti’s range-topping new coupe with more zest than its predecessor, largely thanks to its twin-turbocharged engine making a hefty 400hp. Yes, surely the Q60 Red Sport would be as good as I remember the Q50 Red Sport being, but in a more stylish package. There was a problem this time around, though, a problem I hadn’t had before I drove the Q50 Red Sport. Right before I drove this Q60 I drove an Alfa Romeo, and that set the context bar pretty damn high.
Had I not experienced the Alfa in such close proximity, I’d probably be writing something very similar to what I wrote about the Q50. Something along the lines of “Well done, Infiniti, you’ve upped the bar!” But my experience in the Alfa gave this drive so much more contrast. It highlighted all of the major areas where the Q60 is severely lacking as an enthusiast car.
Disclaimer: there is some NSFW language. This car makes you swear a lot, but in a great way!
There is something extra-remarkable about the Ferrari brand. It’s more of an exclusive lifestyle club than just a car company at this point. The car is merely your ticket to join, but all Ferraris are not created equal.
The Ferrari California T bears the burden of being the entry-level member of this most exclusive club. It’ll get you in the door, but that’s about it. It is the low man on the totem pole, and in this world of elitist snobbery, many enjoy looking down on that. But you know what? If we can cast aside the country club mentality for a minute, the California T was, in many ways, the best real-world package Ferrari made. And now that it’s being replaced by the Portofino, the California T is one of the best value grand touring cars you can buy.
I spent a weekend with this Infiniti Q70 while visiting my family in Minnesota. I decided to splurge on the rental because I knew the trip would have a lot of long drives in only a few short days. My Uncle George’s house on the lake is around 3 hours away from Minneapolis, so the drive actually takes longer than the flight from Philly. We were also planning to visit my Great Uncle Bill, who lives about an hour and a half away from my Uncle. So we were guaranteed at least 9 hours of continuous driving on big open roads during this trip, might as well have a car that would make it a pleasure!
I had originally booked a “Q50 or similar” but the Q70 is what they had available. It’s a car I’ve always managed to forget about, but I knew it would be nice for the drive. By the end of the trip, the Q70 had made me a big fan. It went from fairly anonymous in my mind to a practical favorite… and I had just recently driven the all-new BMW 540i.
For $25K you have many great options for a high-performance daily driver. If you want a brand new car you can get a Honda Civic Si or a Volkswagen GTI, both great “hot hatches” with amazing handling and turbocharged power. Looking a couple years used, you can find a current-gen Subaru WRX, or variants of the Ford Mustang or Chevy Camaro. But what if you want something even more serious with more emphasis on luxury and even higher performance? For $25K, the cars will be a few years older, 8-10 years old in this case, but you are getting $60K worth of car for less than half the price.
I’m starting to look around in this general price range for my next step, and I have various options depending on what I decide to do with my current stable of cars. I decided to go have a drive in some of the cars I’ve been looking at to see what they’re really like from behind the wheel.
I went to a local dealer to check out two Audi B8 S4s, and low and behold, they had a Lexus IS F on the lot as well – it hadn’t been listed online yet. IS Fs are pretty rare, and this one was in my range, so I added it to my list to drive.
The S4 and IS F are a somewhat strange comparison, the Audi is AWD with a supercharged V6, and the Lexus is RWD with a 5.0L V8. When it comes to driving in bad weather, they don’t really do the same things. That said, both are midsize sedans that offer high performance with a lot of polish. Overall, they serve the same basic function for the same basic price, so, despite their vast differences in many areas, that means they compete.
Italian cars are frustrating. Their good aspects are beyond wonderful, as in they will genuinely make your life worth living. The problem is, there’s always a catch, some significant issue (usually “issues”) that counter-balance the positives to such a massive degree that buying one is often a bad idea if you’re thinking rationally. Italian cars are made to give you an in-depth emotional experience, but like people, the great times come with the hardships. The Italians have always built cars this way, and it has always made their cars intriguing because they seem like so much more than cold machines. It makes them feel genuinely alive.
Because of their unpredictable nature, there’s always something daring about buying an Italian car. It’s not a sure bet, but the rewards are so immense when things are going well that it always seems it may be worth the risk. A test drive in an Alfa will make you ask yourself deep philosophical questions like, “Am I really living the sort of life I want?”
Playing it safe works, but are you really living, or do you just merely exist? There’s a big difference between the two, and that’s what Alfa Romeo is all about. It’s the sort of car that will give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and will have you lusting all day for your drive home.
I literally fell in love with the Alfa 4C Spider when I drove it because it spoke deeply to my inner desire. How can an object make you feel so fulfilled and so happy to be alive? It was insane.
The Alfa 4C is an impractical sports car, though. Meant to be a second car for the weekends, it’s Italian imperfections are more tolerable than they would be in an everyday sedan. That brings us to the Giulia Ti you see here. It is an everyday luxury sport sedan, here to take on the BMW 3 Series and the Audi A4. There’s surely less room for error in this market of everyday sedans.
That brings up my big question: Has Alfa kept the Italian magic alive in the Giulia sedan, and how much Italian “character” is tolerable to sedan buyers? Have they watered it down in an attempt to compete for the mass market?
I had heard good things about the car, but many people seem to let the car’s shortcomings overshadow its strengths. Knowing the risks of reliability and build quality, I wanted to know if the upsides were worth the the gamble on this Italian 4 door.
Luxury isn’t about needs, luxury is about wants, or rather, desires. Practical concerns come second to delivering a highly remarkable experience. A luxury object is an art form, and it must appeal deeply to human emotion, even at the expense of being practical or being objectively inane.
The upscale part of Toyota, Lexus has always been extremely focused on delivering on practical concerns. They have the best reputation for build quality in the entire industry, and their cars have always been solid. A Lexus has always been a nice and dependable way to get around, but they never really rose above being just a well-polished transportation appliance. They never evoked any sort of deep carnal desire, or had a sense of occasion that made you want to go out and drive just for the hell of it.
Since 2008, Lexus has been taking serious steps to spice up their brand and make themselves a player in the true luxury segment. It’s a marketplace where people want something genuinely special, not just a Camry fitted with leather and wood. Lexus needed to define their own unique experience, and boy have they made moves in the years since.
This is the new Lexus LC 500, and it just might be the best GT car you can buy for $100 grand.
The big teal thing you see here is a BMW X6 M, and it’s everything that’s right and everything that’s wrong with BMW sitting on the same four wheels. Think of it as a BMW M5 with AWD and more ground clearance. Being an X6, and not an X5, it’s also a “Coupe SUV,” which I still find very odd.
On a totally subjective level, I’m not a fan of the BMW X6. I’d even say it’s the flagship of everything I don’t like about the modern BMW brand. They’ve been over-segmenting like crazy, trying to carve the market into thinner and thinner slices, and the X6 is largely where it began.
It all started when Mercedes made the CLS, a beautiful sedan with the sleek design and style of a coupe. BMW saw how well it was received, and decided to try and do the same thing, but with a big SUV. The problem is SUVs aren’t sleek by nature, so the sloped roofline makes the X6 look bulbous and awkward from most angles. With such a large chunky profile, I just think the full roofline of the X5 looks a lot better. People seem to like the X6 because it’s different, but different isn’t always a good thing.
So, in my eyes, BMW was shooting for style, and they missed by a mile. Why, then, would anyone buy an X6 over an X5? Apparently I just don’t “get it.”
In an effort to try and understand the X6, I figured I’d take a spin in the ultimate BMW X6 M. It’s everything the X6 can be with an extra serving of horsepower and handling. If there were any way to make me come around to the BMW X6, driving this beast would surely be it.
First, come along for the ride…
This is not so much a car as it is a rolling spa. Sure, I had some time behind the wheel of this new BMW G11 750i, but what really stuck in my mind was the massage I got while riding around in the back seat. It was pouring rain, we were stuck in a traffic jam, and I wouldn’t have been anywhere else in the world if I could have. It’s an optional extra, but what’s an extra $7 grand for the pleasure of being able to have a heated, or cooled, massage everywhere you go? I could really go for one right now, as a matter of fact.
The new 750i may be a rolling spa, but it’s one that moves pretty good, too. BMW claims 445 hp and 480 ft/lbs of torque from its “Hot Vee” twin turbo V8, and that’s enough to propel your pampered ass from a snooze to a heart attack in just 4.3 seconds.
Really though, the G11 is the expected next step for the BMW 7 Series, nothing less, but nothing more either. It’s really nice, but they’ve all been nice over the years. It’s really fast, and handles well for a big limo, but again, same with every other 7 Series. The G11 is also full of lots of fancy, cutting edge technology, which is awesome today, but it will suck in ten years for the poor sap who buys this once-$120,000 luxo-barge for $13,988. Go try to use the nav on a late 90’s E38 7 Series, and you’ll see what I mean.
In fact, staggering depreciation is probably just as much of what makes a 7 Series a 7 Series as the car’s big comfort or big horsepower. Well-optioned, it’s not a bad value for what you get for $120,000 or so, but you can be damn sure you won’t be seeing much of that money back. Leasing may be a good idea here, people.
The G11 750i is among the nearly flawless lineup of current luxury cars. They’re all just really good, almost to a fault, if only for the fact that such uniform perfection lacks character. Objectively, this BMW 750i is good enough as a luxury cruiser to make me wonder why anyone would shell out triple the money for a Bentley or a Rolls. I mean, how much more comfortable could you possibly be?
But really it’s not about features, or the comfort, or any of that. It comes back to the car being good, really good, too good for its own good. The G11 is a lot like that guy at the party who just keeps talking, on and on, about his own accomplishments. He’s very impressive and all, but people just keep walking away, don’t they? That’s because endless perfection gets boring pretty quick, and it’s usually a lot more fun to hear people talk about their mistakes.
MoM Score: BMW G11 750i xDrive
Primary Function: Luxury: 2
Secondary Functions: Performance(2) Practicality(2) MPG(2): 2
Visual Appeal: 1
Build Quality: 2
Value for Money: 1
Final Score: 8 /10
I got my first taste of the Tesla magic in 2015 when I drove a Model S P85D. It made one hell of a first impression, and I was totally blown away. I felt like I had just experienced the true next step for the automobile, capable of blistering acceleration, superior practicality and sublime comfort, all in a single package. Oh, and did I mention it was green, too? I was enamored with it then, but I was curious to see how the Tesla would fair the second time around, now that my initial fascination had worn off.
I was recently able to take a spin in the new, facelifted, Model S P90D. This drive was much better than the first one. It lasted much longer, the roads were much better, and I got to try out some of Tesla’s amazing new features (including Autopilot). I also gained more perspective on the Model S, what it is, and what it is not.
This is Part 1 of an occasional series.
On April 16, as most of you dear readers know, I purchased this big gray Lincoln Mark VII LSC to replace my Miata, which I’d sold to Nick. What most of you don’t know, is the rest of the story. Through this occasional series, I will work to chronicle the past six months of what I’ve done with this gigantic piece of American history, and how it has fit into the other parts of my life in that time. Continue reading The Lincoln Mark VII LSC Chronicles, Part 1: April and May – Continuing The Story.