New Metal: BMW M4 and Koenigsegg One:1

•March 2, 2014 • Leave a Comment

The BMW M brand creates incredible cars, and the new M4 is another in a long line of obscenely fast and very desirable “ultimate driving machines”. This is the first M4, and follows the new naming structure at BMW. To quickly explain it, 4-doors now start with odd numbers (1,3,5,7) and 2-doors start with even numbers (2,4,6). Therefore, the new M3 and M4 are pretty much the same car except for the number of doors. In my humble opinion, the M3 looks better than the coupe, but both appear more muscular and purposeful than the models they replace.

BMW M4

Following the common trend of downsizing engines the new M3/M4 ditch there wonderfully naturally aspirated V8’s of the previous generation in favour of a twin-turbo six-cylinder that produces 431hp, roughly 15hp more than the previous model. Numbers aren’t everything and I’m sure that this new M duo will be a dynamic revelation which the majority of auto testers will herald as the second coming of Christ. I will most likely never try it as BMW and I aren’t really that close (I never get invited to any of their parties) but I can say that it sure does look real purrrrrty after sitting in both at my local Autoshow.

BMW M4

Unfortunately, this article really isn’t about the newest M cars as I’m just using them to highlight how hilariously crap they are in comparison to the newly revealed Koenigsegg One:1. The M4 weighs a respectable 1,497kg, which is less than the previous version and will therefore burn less fuel and save more polar bears from an untimely death. But again, respectable as this is, it’s still crap. I say this because the Koenigsegg (lets say “Egg” for short as my spell check is getting confused) tips the scales at an even more respectable 1,341kg. It also has 910 more horsepower. It has the equivalent of a McLaren P1 worth of horsepower MORE than the incredibly sporty M4.

Koenigsegg One:1

You can’t realistically compare an M4 to the new One:1, but it shows how absolutely bonkers the new Egg is. The M4 is more car than you would ever need. It gets to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds and goes on to a top speed of 250km/h. No one actually needs this much performance in their daily lives, but people like us would buy these cars if we could because that amount of power is addictively fun. The One:1 isn’t fun. It’s scary. Bat shit, hide your children, widow-maker scary.

Koenigsegg One:1

The name One:1 is representative of the fact that the car’s weight and metric horsepower are the same, an accomplishment that I don’t believe any other road car has ever been able to claim. Only six examples will be produced, and all have already been sold. We don’t know how much each one cost, but we can assume that it was more than the approximate $75,000 that you and I would pay for an M4. At 450km/h the One:1 has not only become the fastest road legal car every produced, but will also rip the fabric of time and space if ever fully unleashed.

Koenigsegg One:1

0-100km times haven’t been released, but tellingly the 0-400km have: 20 seconds. These might be the last 20 seconds of your life. I’m not trying to say that the Egg isn’t safe. I’m sure it’s passed all of the required crash tests and has been homologated for the majority of the world’s markets. The thing is, at those speeds it doesn’t really matter: If you crash, you’re dead. Planes aren’t inherently dangerous, but if they crash at their top speed you will die. Speed kills, it’s that simple. That’s why Smart cars are considered safe, because they’re so damn slow.

Christian Von Koenigsegg

The One:1 is an amazing achievement, especially coming from a car company that produces very few cars every year out of an old military hanger in Sweden. It sets a new benchmark in the hypercar world and would be an amazing machine to own and enjoy. It is also completely and utterly pointless to the majority of the population. But for people like us it is drool-inducingly cool.

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SUV: Super Uber Vehicle

•February 17, 2014 • 2 Comments

Bonkers: The perfect word to describe the “High Performance Sport Utility Vehicle”. Unnecessary: another descriptive word used by many, but then I don’t think those people would be on this blog in the first place, so sod their opinions. Coveted: my boyish feeling towards any of these supercar baiting SUVs.

Lamborghini Urus

Lamborghini Urus

Thoughts about this particular niche of the automotive landscape were sparked by the forthcoming Lamborghini Urus. Originally unveiled as a concept at the ’12 Beijing Autoshow the Urus will be built on the same platform as the Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne, VW Touareg, and Bentley EXP 9F, but will be the sportiest of them all. To that end the Urus will be low, light (as much as an SUV can be), and fast.

The body will contain extensive use of carbon fibre and drive will be sent to all four wheels, just like almost all modern day Lamborghinis. Rumours suggest that it will be powered by a 5.2 turbocharged V10 that produces 584bhp. This would mean taking the engine from the recently replaced Gallardo and slapping a turbo on it, but that doesn’t really fit with my image of the raging bull. Turbocharging is the future to improved emissions, but I don’t think Lamborghini will go down this route just yet. The recently unveiled Huracan comes with an upgraded version of the Gallardo engine but without the use of any forced induction, leaving me to to think that this would be a more viable and less complicated engine option for the Urus. Packaging may be an issue as the Huracan is mid-engined whereas the Urus’s power plant will reside solely in front of the driver.

Lamborghini Urus Rear

Lamborghini Urus

Now, my mind is in two worlds when it comes to this model. On the creative side you can say that anything with a big’ol V10 is a good idea, and putting that engine in something you wouldn’t expect is plain fun. But the other logical side says what the hell Lamborghini?

I have previously argued that the Porsche Cayenne is a great car for the sole reason that sales of it help to finance the creation of cars like the 918 Spyder and GT3, and a similar argument could be made with regards to Lamborghini and the Urus. Porsche used to be a one trick pony with a small product line, but used the Cayenne to really launch their sales through the stratosphere. Lamborghini currently only make two models and if the Italian company wants to grow they will have to expand model range.

Lamborghini Estoque

Lamborghini Estoque

Forget the Urus for a second, what ever happened to the Estoque? Remember it, the Raging Bull’s concept four-door from a few years back. I’m not saying that a sedan is better than an SUV, but just look at the picture of it: it looks absolutely gorgeous, and no matter what Lamborghini does there is no way they can make an SUV more sporty than an uber four-seater. Unfortunately the Estoque wasn’t approved for production…

So if I can’t have an Estoque I guess I’ll have to settle for a 600bhp off-roader to take the kids to school. It can’t be all bad as it’s not like it’s the first SUV Lamborghini have made. Back in 1986 the company started selling the LM002, otherwise know as the “Rambo-Lambo”. Originally designed for military service, no country ever thought that having a fleet of Countach powered weaponized behemoths was a good idea, so the model was only ever sold to civilians. That meant leather trim, sound systems, air conditioning, and fully deflating custom made Pirelli tires for those ever present cliff faces that must be traversed. Only 328 were ever produced over eight years making them a rare sight.

Lamborghini Veneno: Someone took an axe to the Aventador...

Lamborghini Veneno: Someone took an axe to the Aventador…

The Urus will inevitably polarize opinion while at the same time selling out its yearly planned production of 3,000 units in no time at all. The model is not necessarily designed to appeal to people like you and me (let’s get real, we won’t be buying them), but was instead made for the uber-rich living in China and Russia. These oligarchs love to buy big, impressive objects to demonstrate their wealth, and the Urus is just that.

The arrival of the first production Urus at Sant’Agata will mark a the dawning of new age for Lamborghini, and will see the company’s model line expand for the first time since the early noughties. Does this mean the company will begin to offer more niche models and diversify like Porsche and Ferrari? Let’s hope so, because after the Urus more special one-offs like the Veneno might be in the cards.

F1 2014, For Dummies

•January 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I’m slightly concerned that the incredibly popular For Dummies books have a trademark on that phrase, but as I’m not making any money through this post I’m very hopeful that they won’t sue me into oblivion.

It does make a point though, and that is that F1 is very complicated for those who don’t follow it religiously. I was thinking of creating a three-part blog post series detailing all the new and wonderfully complex changes to the upcoming F1 season, but then I realized that the majority of people don’t care that much and just want summarized information. Twitter limits what people say for a reason, and that is because our generation has the attention span of a …. ooooo, look a pretty butterfly.

See what I mean?

1 - Vettels 4th Title

Vettel clinches his 4th Driver’s Championship

But I love F1, and I love to talk about it, and I’m tired of people’s eyes glazing over when I do, so this post will be as understandable and succinct as I can possibly make it. So here it goes: the car goes round and round. The end.

But seriously, some pretty big changes are happening to the pinnacle of motorsport. First and foremost the engines of the F1 machines are changing from naturally aspirated V8s to turbo-charged V6s. Now this is good because it mimics what is happening in the real world where normal, regular people cars are continuously being offered with downsized engines. Take the new BMW M3 for example, which is now offered with a twin-turbo’d inline six (like a V6 just designed differently) instead of the previous generations all natural V8. This downsizing makes it look like the manufacturers are improving the lives of polar bears the world over, and the turbocharging means that horsepower figures don’t drop from generation to generation.

2 - Mercedes 2014 V6 F1 Engine

Mercedes 2014 V6 F1 Engine

Polar bears win and car people win. Everyone’s happy right? Wrong. Nay-sayers believe that these new V6 won’t have the aural reach of the previous power units, meaning your ears won’t bleed every time an F1 car blows past at full lick. I’m fairly confident that they are still going to be bloody noisy and to the average race fan the difference in noise level will be negligible.

A whole host of other technical changes have also been implemented and in summary they will make the car look different from last years model. But then again, to people who don’t watch F1 these changes will not be noticed. I’m getting quite tired of having to tell people that an Indycar is not an F1 car, but you can see where they are coming from: open wheel racers all look similar.

3 - No F1 for New York

We won’t be seeing this anytime soon

What people will notice is where the races (known as Grand Prix’s – GPs) will be taking place. In 2013 there were 19 races, and there will be the same amount in 2014. This is a bit of a downer for me as the proposed calendar that came out a few months ago included 22 races. In my mind: more races = more good. But for some reason the drivers and their teams feel that having to travel the world over and not taking a day off for months on end is too much of a strain and they can’t handle such a gruelling schedule. What babies…

The three circuits that didn’t make the cut between the proposed and actual calendars were Korea, Mexico, and New York. Korea has been on the calendar for the past four years but due to financial problems won’t be included moving forward. Both Mexico and New York were long-shots to be added as the preparations for their races were behind schedule, so hopefully we will see them in 2015. Another race from 2013 that was dropped was the Indian GP. Seen as a part of a bigger plan to introduce the Indian population to motorsport the venture always had a high sell rate, but ultimately a space couldn’t be found for it on the 2014 calendar.

4 - Red Bull Ring

The Red Bull Ring

To fill the two vacant spots left by Korea and India we will see the return of the Austrian GP to the newly named Red Bull Ring (they sponsor EVERYTHING) and the introduction of the Russian GP to be hosted at Sochi’s Winter Olympic Park. Some race dates have been changed, but the season will still kick off in March with the Australian GP.

The driver line up is always something that fluctuates from season-to-season (and sometimes mid-season). The big announcement was the retirement of longtime racer Mark Webber of Red Bull Racing from F1 to join the World Endurance Championship with Porsche. Daniel Riccardo from Toro Rosso (Red Bull’s junior team used to develop future talent) was promoted to fill the Webber’s seat.

F1 - CLIO IV RS LAUNCH WITH WILLIAMS F1 TEAM DRIVERS 2013

So…this is awkward

Mercedes’s line up remains unchanged with the strong pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, but structural changes amongst the team’s management should see a reshuffling of how the team operates moving forward.

Ferrari’s long time bitch Felipe Massa was officially fired after the 2013 season to be replaced by Kimi Raikkonen, who was the last person to win the World Championship under the prancing horse. This means that two dominant personalities, Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso, will both be driving for Ferrari and sparks are sure to fly as they both battle for the #1 spot within the team.

6 - Alonso leads Massa

Fernando is faster than you

After completing one of their worst seasons in their half century long history Mclaren chose to drop their Mexican driver Sergio Perez after only one year. Given that the car was crap all year it really isn’t fair to blame Perez for his lack of success, but it does open the door for new rookie in the form of Kevin Magnussen. Jenson Button retains his spot at the British team, and hopefully both he and Magnussen will be provided a better car to actual compete in the new season.

Rounding out the top five teams with Lotus choosing to hire a driver that comes with bags of money over bags of talent, Pastor Maldonado moves from Williams to fill the vacant spot left by Raikkonen. The perpetual-crash-test-dummy turned actual racer Romain Grosjean retains his seat to lead the team going forward, and hopefully continues his form of not hitting everyone for another year.

7 - Grosjean, he fly!

Grosjean, he fly

Lower down the order sees Force India drop both of its previous drivers to pick up Mclaren’s leftovers with Perez and also sign one of the brightest stars in the sport, Nico Hulkenberg. Hulkenberg was in contention for the vacant Lotus seat, but ultimately returned to Force India after a year away with Sauber. Speaking of Sauber, they retain the second Mexican F1 driver, Esteban Gutierrez, while also picking up long time driver Adrian Sutil who joins them from Force India. Toro Rosso keeps the Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne for another season and hired 19 year-old Danlil Kvyat to partner him. Kvyat is a Russian talent who matches the sport’s plan to expand into the Russian market along with the GP at Sochi.

Rounding out the final three teams, Williams retains Valtteri Bottas for another season and picks up Felipe Massa to try and use some of his experience to resurrect the team’s past glory. Marussia’s line up of Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton remains unchanged while Caterham drops both of its drivers for the rookie Marcus Ericsson and the Japanese ninja Kamui Kobayashi. Kobayashi previously raced with Sauber, but spent the last year racing for Ferrari in GT racing and agreed to come back to full time F1 driving with Caterham for reportedly zero pay. He could have accepted a reserve driver role with Ferrari, but wanted to race as a full driver and raised $1million from fans to secure his seat with Caterham.

8 - Really wish the Mclaren looked like this

Wish Mclaren’s contender looked like this

Lots of names, most of whom the majority of you readers have never heard of. What it does show is how the F1 driver market fluctuates greatly between seasons. There are only 22 seats on the grid, and all are fiercely fought over and coveted. Only the very best drivers can ever feel secure in the topsy-turvy world of F1 where those with the deepest pockets routinely get more chances than those with the most talent.

F1 is always exciting for its fans. New tracks, new tech, and new faces all combine to form one of the greatest spectacles in motorsport. F1 is back!

How Much for a Kidney: Lexus LF-A

•January 21, 2014 • 1 Comment

Where to begin with such an unobtainable machine. The previous instalment of this How Much for a Kidney featured the relatively affordable BMW 1M that can be purchased through Autotrader right now for $62,900 Canadian loonies. This is not a small sum, but when compared to the price of the LF-A it’s nothing.

1 - Lexus LF-A Front

Another search on Autotrader shows that there are currently no LF-As for sale in are beautiful Northern home. This is not surprising given that only 500 examples were ever made. I do know that at least one car came to Canada back in 2011 as I distinctively remember hounding my local Lexus dealer to let me have a look at it. They said no. I didn’t have the $413,000 required to purchase it, so suffice to say they didn’t appreciate my interest. If you are looking to peruse the classifieds for Lexus’s flagship you must search farther afield than any local listing. The international high-end used car website jamesedition.com (that also sells used yachts and private jets to your average bazillionaire) have a bright red LF-A for $431,800 (US) selling out of California. Just like the 1M, the LF-A has increased in price since ceasing production.

2 - Lexus LF-A Back

Yes it looks pretty in pictures, but it’s very expensive, so why would I give up my hard-grown organs for one? Because of the noise. Go to YouTube. Go now. Search LF-A launch. Do not turn your volume up to max or your speakers and ears will die.

Back now? That was a naturally aspirated V10 at 9,000rpm. Very few cars have engines that rev to that stratospheric level. This is more the land of motorcycles and might explain the fact that Yamaha co-developed the engine with Lexus. Let us also not forget that Toyota (Lexus’s parent company) had a team in F1 from 2002-09, so they know a thing or two about developing screamingly loud engines. This beast can go from idle to redline in 0.6 seconds, making an analog tachometer obsolete as only a digital version can accurately monitor this type of engine speed. The exact figures are 553bhp and 354 torques. Now, that peak power figure is reached at 8,700rpm, so revving to the limit is not just fun but necessary for max power. Or at least that’s what I would tell myself to make me feel like less of a hoonigan (it’s a car word, to hoon, look it up).

3 - Lexus LFA Tachometer

The rest of the car is just as high tech as the engine. Similar to both F1 and road specific Mclarens the LF-A comes with a carbon-fibre monocoque. In laymen’s terms this means that the cockpit of the car is surrounded by an incredibly strong “shell” that protects any occupants and also improves the overall stiffness of the vehicle. Carbon fibre is a lot more expensive to manufacture when compared to steel or aluminium, and is generally reserved for cars in the higher echelons of the automotive world.

4 - Lexus LF-A Carbon Fibre Monocoque

The gestation period for the LF-A was a long one, but clearly worth the wait. Initial development for the project began in February 2000 with the goal of showcasing the might of Toyota. The first prototype was completed in 2003 and over the next eight years numerous development test vehicles were spotted at the Nurburgring along with three continually improved concept cars at the worlds premiere auto shows. The actual production vehicle didn’t reach customer’s driveways until 2011. This decade long gestation period wasn’t initially planned, but Toyota says it was required to ensure the desired result.

Each example was hand made be a dedicated production team, and each engine received the signature of the individual who assembled it. Lexus’s more mainstreamed models are made on the same production line as each other, meaning the IS and ES are made side-by-side, whereas the LF-A received it’s own production line. All 500 models were made from December 2010 to December 2012, with an average of 20 per month.

5 - Lexus LF-A Production Line

The LF-A wasn’t exactly an easy car to acquire. North America was allotted 150 units and unlike in most car purchases, where you simple walk-in a buy the car, Lexus NA only allowed you to order an LF-A if you signed an agreement allowing the company first refusal to buy back the car if you decided to sell it within the initial two years of ownership. This was to ensure that very few examples of the LF-A made it to the used car market within the first few years of the car’s launch. In Europe you could only purchase an LF-A (outright this time) from a single dealership in London. These particular selling methods only heightened the car’s “specialness”.

Before the first examples of the LF-A even reached the greedy hands of their owners there had already been talk of a high-performance variant emerging after the initial launch. The LF-A Nurburgring Package was created to mimic the LF-A race car from the 24 hour Nurburgring race, and brought an additional 10bhp, faster shift-times, and a host of aerodynamic enhancements, all for the low, low price of $490,000. Doesn’t seem like you got that much more for such a big hike over the base car’s asking price, but you were really paying for exclusivity as the Nurburgring Package was limited to only 50 units of the 500 car run.

6 - Lexus LF-A Nurburgring Package

Rumours also initially suggested that Lexus would release on LF-A Roadster a few months after the 500 coupes had finished rolling off the production line, but it now looks like that won’t be happening due to a struggling Japanese economy. This is a pity for auto enthusiasts like us, but great news for current LF-A owners as it means their residual values won’t be watered down by any additional production runs.

7 - Lexus LF-A Roadster Concept

The LF-A represented a dynamic shift in design language for Lexus, and also showed that Toyota still had the ability to create a dynamic drivers car.

New Metal: Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4

•January 7, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Lamborghini Emblem

Not every day does a new raging bull emerge. Yes, Lamborghini is known for creating many variants of its existing models, but rarely does an entirely new car emerge from the company’s gates. At the moment there are only two: the Gallardo – for the rich, and the Aventador – for the very rich.

Let’s do a brief recent Lambo history. The “modern” era (as I like to call it) of Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. began in September of 1998 when VW, using its Audi subsidiary, bought the company. At the time the company was still producing its decade old Diablo. Audi wanted a more modern take on the supercar and created the last-of-line Diablo VT 6.0 to finish off the cars production run. This was the first “Germanic” Lambo and started the company down a path to healthier balance sheets and better overall organization. The 6.0 VT differed slightly from previous iterations, with an improved aerodynamic exterior and refined interior. The engine was also upgraded to make this the most powerful Diablo ever, with 575bhp.

Lamborghini Diablo VT 6.0

In 2001 the first new Lamborghini in eleven years launched as the Murcielago. More powerful than its predecessors, and more reliable thanks to Audi, the Murci went on to sell 4,099 units between ’01 and ’10. This bull housed a V12 that deployed its 580bhp through all four wheels. A roadster followed the coupe in 2004, and soon after the entire model line was updated with the 2nd generation Murcielago introduced as the LP640-4 in 2005. A few limited edition variants were created over the years, but they all culminated in a last hurrah version known as the SuperVeloce LP670-4 of 2009, or SV for short, that came with a predictable 661bhp.

Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SV

In 2003 Lamborghini launched a smaller, more affordable, all-wheel-drive stalemate to the Murcielago: The Gallardo. Not as powerful as its V12 brother, the Gallardo came with a V10 based on Audi’s 4.2L V8 that initially produced 500bhp. Over the next ten years the baby bull went on to sell 14,022 examples (about half of all Lamborghini’s ever produced), and spanned three upgraded and enhanced generations and dozens of special editions. Listing all of them would take too much space in this “brief” history.

Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Squadra Corse

In 2011, after a very successful decade, Lamborghini launched the replacement to the venerable Murcielago in the form of the Aventador LP700-4. As the name suggests, this V12 mid-engined behemoth packs around 700bhp. The styling in more evolution then revolution over its predecessor, but will never be mistaken for anything other than a Lamborghini. With more advanced machinery emerging from the raging bull’s competitors the Aventador was the firm’s reply. The Aventador has sold over 1000 units in its first two years of production and the order books are already full for another year.

Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4

Moving into 2013 the Gallardo was looking a bit long in the tooth. The new Aventador had a sleeker design and parking one next to a Gallardo showed the older car’s ten years of production. A newer, younger bull was in order, and on Friday December 20th, 2013 that car was revealed. The Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4 has arrived and looks the absolute business.

Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4

Sharing a platform with the next generation Audi R8, the Huracan sticks with the proven Gallardo formula of all-wheel drive and a mid-engined V10 that produces just over 600bhp and 413 torques. 0-100km/h takes a scant 3.2 seconds, and takes the car on to a limited top speed of 322kph. The model is slightly heavier than the Gallardo, but at the same time more fuel efficient. This might have something to do with new DSG style gearbox that replaces the outgoing model’s clunky E-Gear. This is a result of parts sharing between VW brands and means that the transmission in my GTI and the one in the Huracan are somewhat similar. But, being Lamborghini, they can’t call their transmission simply “DSG”, so instead “Lamborghini Doppia Frizione” it is. How very Italian. This paddle operated slush box is the only transmission offered, but given Lamborghini’s love for creating niche models we can expect to see a manual, rear-wheel drive variant in the future.

Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4

Rumors initially suggested the Gallardo replacement would be called the Cabrera, but Huracan continues the company’s tradition of naming their cars after famous fighting bulls. The styling takes cues from the Aventador, Murcielago, and the limited edition Sesto Elemento = of 2011. To my eyes this new baby bull looks stunning.

Lamborghini Sesto Elemento

The current crop of competitors in the mid-engined junior supercar market include the McLaren 12C and the Ferrari 458, both of which offer similar levels of power for a similar price. It’s nice to see Lamborghini finally offer a new model, as in the same time frame that the Gallardo was produced Ferrari offered the 360, followed by the F430, and then the 458. Let’s hope the wait was worth it, but if Lamborghini’s track record in anything to go by then this new model will be a stormer.

The Huracan will be officially launched at the 2014 Geneva Autoshow in March, and we can expect a convertible variant sometime over the next year. Exciting times ahead!

Spotted in the Wild: Snow Cat

•December 18, 2013 • 1 Comment

Let me set the scene: it is currently -5°C in Toronto; three days ago approximately 20cm of snow fell from the sky to bury our lives; the roads remain a slushy nightmare. Seeing any type of performance car out and about was very, very unlikely. If any Ubercars were seen they would have to have some form of four-wheel drive, like the Ferrari FF that I saw yesterday. So imagine my surprise when some truly committed petrolhead in my neighborhood parked his beautiful Jaguar XFR-S at my local grocery store.

Jaguar XFR-S

Picking a parking spot isn’t hard when you see a c that you dream about, especially when it’s French Racing Blue – quite easy to spot. I don’t have any actual pictures of the one I saw as I left my phone at home (stupid), but I can assure you it had a nice smattering of road grime on it, compounding my lust.

Now, why do I dream about a four-door people carrier you might ask? Well, in everyone’s dream garage there has to be one practical car that is as exciting as the imaginary Ferrari parked next to it while also being capable of realistically carrying you and three friends in speed and comfort over vast distances. Yes, the Nissan GT-R has rear seats; no, they are not meant for humans. You don’t want to get anything too big and heavy (looking at you Panamera) because then it’s not really sporty. See the dilemma?

So what’s a dreamer to choose: BMW M5 – just not that excited about it, Benz E63 AMG – the looks have gone soft, Audi RS6 – only if it’s a wagon, Jaguar XFR-S – it’s blue and has a giant rear wing! Clearly, my garage and five year olds would be based on similar logic.

Massive Rear Wing

A supercharged V8 carried over from the XKR-S powers this autobahn-stormer to a limited top speed of 300km/h, making this Jaguar’s fastest saloon ever. The front splitter and sills have been re-designed to improve the aerodynamics, the suspension has been beefed up, better brakes have been added, and a few extra bits and bobs have been cherry picked from the F-Type for good measure. But the best part has to be the massive carbon fibre wing. Pictures don’t do it justice: this thing looks completely out of place on any car bar a Lamborghini. It is an option, but that’s like saying the steering wheel is optional.

Comparatively, the blue behemoth is down on power to the M5, E63 and RS6: 542bhp plays 552, 549, and 553 respectively. Realistically only a difference of 10bhp, and I don’t think it matters when you are over 500. You can’t think that any owner will get out after a spirited drive and say, “Ya, wish it had some more oomph”. What the owner will say is that it looks the business and it’s a Jaggggg.

Skidmarks

10 years ago Jaguar wasn’t a brand that I gave two thoughts about, but cars like the XFR-S and F-Type are what have revitalized the company’s image and put it into the minds of petrolheads the world over. I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who thinks that it would be sacrilegious for a car like this to sit in a garage over winter when it could be out sliding in the snow.

Spotted in the Wild: Ferrari 458 Spyder

•July 31, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Two days ago some of the top automotive journalists were invited to Maranello to drive the new Ferrari F12 Berlinetta.  As my twitter account is full of their thoughts I was able to see pictures, videos, and read their reviews of this new behemoth as soon as they were posted.  But this, the newest and most powerful Ferrari, got me thinking about the prancing horse in general.

Ferrari engineers do not let auto journalists anywhere near their cars unless they have “set them up” first.  In a recent story, the managing editor of one of my favorite magazines signed up for a driving event that involved a Ferrari FF.  When the company found out that he was driving it they quickly called to say that unfortunately, they wouldn’t be able to hand him the keys as that particular FF wasn’t meant for journalists.  In another story, Chris Harris (whom I think is one of the greatest auto writers of all time for his genre defining video reviews) is no longer allowed to drive press car Ferraris because he once commented on the fact that Ferrari deliberately manipulate the behavior of their road cars before journalists drive them.  Other manufacturers make a car and say, “What do you think?”, while Ferrari dares you to say anything negative.

The Italian company’s justice is swift and merciless.  Rumors abound of customers who are no longer allowed to purchase new Ferraris as they have let journalists drive their cars without asking Maranello first.  I’m sorry, but if I own an orange and I want to lend it to my friend I’m not going to ask the tree that it grew on for permission.

Ferrari has more demand than ever before which allows them the privilege of turning away customers.  I would say that they don’t care about their clientele, but that is clearly not true in the fact that they do fiddle their cars specifically for the journalists to try.  This is tantamount to the doping scandals in baseball, and it only really adds to the mystiques that is Ferrari.

All of what I have just said is nice, but if I had the money none of this would change the fact that I would still love to buy a brand new Ferrari.  And when buying an exotic car, the newest is usually the best, which brings us to the F12.  It’s officially called the F12berlinetta as someone at Ferrari forgot about spaces and capital letters.  As seen from the pictures it’s a modern evolution on the 599 that it replaces.  Smaller, lighters, and more powerful than its predecessor, the F12 is quite an improvement.  Boasting a 6.3L V12 that it shares with the FF, albeit in a different guise here that produces 730hp, and allows it to lap the Fiorano test track at Ferrari HQ faster than the fabled Enzo.

The F12 is a techfest.  Take the “Aero Bridge”: simply described as a small opening on either side of the hood that allows air to flow, unimpeded over the front and along the side of the car.  It increases the cars downforce while reducing its drag.  Many other bits of trick aerodynamic wizardry are at work, but none of them look as good as the Aero Bridge.  Overall, the F12 is modern and sleek where the 599 was bluff and raw.

My personal rant on Ferrari’s business practices and this interesting information on the new F12 are all well and good, but have absolutely nothing to do with the title of this article.  Ferrari is fun to discuss, and any new model they create will make headlines, but it’s always a special event to actually see and hear one in public.  Which is just what happened the other day.

The restaurant I work at is near some very affluent households, so the automotive eye candy that is put on display during the warmer months is always something of a treat.  And on a sunny Sunday afternoon on the same day that the F12 was released to the press I had this rosso corsa beauty parked right outside.

Whereas the F12 is Ferrari’s grand tourer, and the FF is the family wagon, the 458 has always been the pure sports car.  Its mid-engined V8 pushes out 562hp and 398 torques in a package that weighs just a few more pounds than my GTI.  As with all of Ferrari’s recent offerings, no manual transmission is offered with the 458, only a dual-clutch 7-speed that helps to achieve the 3.4 second 0-96kph time.  Funnily enough the F12 only does the dash in 3.1 seconds, and needs an extra 168hp to do it.

That gearbox I mentioned is also shared with the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, but in each car it has been fine tuned to behave differently.  The Mercedes is all about “wafting”, while the 458 has lightning quick gear changes to match its hard core, road racer image, which is a role it most certainty fills.

The styling has been defined as insect like, and after looking at one head on it’s plain to see the futuristic bug-like stance that this car carries itself with.  The car possesses revolutionary technology while at the same time paying homage to some of the prancing horse’s greatest steeds.  The front grill, for example, contains deformable winglets that change shape at speed to reduce drag, while there are also three horizontally placed exhausts at the rear with the central pipe being slightly smaller in diameter then its neighbors, mimicking the legendary F40.  The overall design for the car drew inspiration from the company’s most recent hypercar, the Enzo.

Debuting at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011, the Spyder variant of the 458 brought the addition of a retractable hard-top.  Usually, this variant compromises the look of a mid-engined car, in my humble opinion, as they generally necessitate the deletion of the glass panel over the engine in favour of a closed canopy to stow the roof when folded.  The Spyder follows this formula, but the designers (Pininfarina) were able to create a simply stunning lid that is almost sexual in its curves.

Simply put, the Spyder is better looking than the Coupe.  It’s almost identical with the roof up, even better with it down, and provides more of an opportunity to here that V8 run towards its 9,000rpm limiter.  I’m thankful that this owner decides to visit an establishment around my place of business (he’s not visiting my restaurant as he’s always gone before we open so what does that say about our food?) as it gives me more opportunity to drink in the beauty of this beast.  Plus watching him lower the roof in 14 seconds is pretty entertaining.

What would I buy if I had the choice?  All of them.  I always hate how people feel they have to pick just one when asked “which one would you buy?”.  I would have a coupe until the Spyder came out, then sell it because we don’t want redundancies in our dream garage.  An F12 and FF would look perfect next to it, so I’d have those as well.  Dare to dream.