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Author: Zach Galea

Good Ol’ American Luxury at the New York Motor Show

Good Ol’ American Luxury at the New York Motor Show

Every motor show has some sort of unofficial theme for its concept cars. This theme can range from small urban runabouts to track-focussed sports cars, and high-riding crossovers to million Euro hypercars. This year, at the New York Motor Show, the theme was most definitely luxury, specifically good old American luxury.

The two stars of the show were the Cadillac CT6, a production ready flagship to rival the Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8, and the Lincoln Continental Concept.

2016 Cadillac CT6

The CT6 is one of eight new cars to come from Cadillac over the next five years, as part of a new $12 million investment. There will be three engines available from launch, a 2.0 litre four-cylinder turbocharged unit producing around 266 bhp, a naturally aspirated 3.6 litre V6 producing 335 bhp and final a turbocharged 3.0 litre engine producing 400 bhp. There are also plans to launch a plug-in hybrid and a twin-turbo V8 version at some point. Therefore those waiting for a good old V8 land yacht will have to wait a while.

The four-cylinder unit will be solely rear-wheel drive, where as the V6 units will be mated to an active Chassis system, which handles the all-wheel drive system and the Magnetic Ride Control System. It has double wishbone suspension up front and a multi-link setup at the rear.  Cadillac also claims that the CT6 is lighter than a BMW 5-Series and Audi A6.

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The next land yacht to peer into view is the Lincoln Continental. For now, this is just a concept, however Lincoln execs have confirmed that a car with  similar sort of design to this will appear in a year or  so. The name Continental is famous to Lincoln, and the brand is eager to bring this name back to the market after its horrendous MK-Series cars.

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The design borrows nothing from the modern Lincoln line-up, but takes inspiration from Lincolns of old. The Continental presents an entirely new face for Lincoln. However this new design has presented a slight problem for Lincoln. Bentley’s chief designer, Luc Donckerwolke, has claimed the new Lincoln Continental reminds him of the Bentley Continental Flying  Spur. Needless to say, Mr.Donckerwolke didn’t have kind words for the Lincoln.

Moving on to more positive news, the Continental Concept is powered by 3.0 litre V6 Ecoboost engine, with a rumoured output of over 350 bhp. Not much is known about the internals at this stage, the concept is just a design concept.

Lincoln Continental Concept

Do these new cars from the Americas represent a rebirth of the old school luxury barge? In a way, yes. They are still massive, still incredibly opulent and still an acquired taste. They might not be popular in Europe, but they will certainly go down a hit in their home market and especially in China, where there is a strong preference to being chauffeured around. I, on the other hand, would rather take the more elegant Maserati Quattroporte.

Lincoln Continental Interior.
Lincoln Continental Interior.
Cadillac CT6 Interior.
Cadillac CT6 Interior.
The Range Rover SVAutobiography is Purebred British Luxury

The Range Rover SVAutobiography is Purebred British Luxury

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Welcome everybody, to the Range Rover SVAutobiography, the most expensive, the most luxurious car Land Rover can sell you.  Besides being the most expensive, it is also the most powerful series production Range Rover ever made. Ever.

Starting at just under £149,000, the SVAutobiography will be available in either standard or long-wheelbase form. It is available with a two-tone colour combination, which combines a black upper-body finish with a choice of nine colours for the bottom section. The SVAutobiography also includes a number of bespoke features such as a new chrome front grille, bespoke badging at the rear of the vehicle as well as new lettering on the bonnet.

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The engine, which is a 5.0 litre supercharged V8 producing 542 bhp, comes straight out of the Range Rover Sport SVR. However do not expect the same level of performance as the SVR out of the SVAutobiography. Land Rover has explained that the supercharged V8 has been retuned to be more a comfortable and refined engine than it is in the SVR. Besides this V8, there will also be an SDV8 option as well as a Hybrid SDV6 option to choose from.

However the main selling point of the SVAutobiography is the level of luxury on the inside, rather than the performance figures. Inside, the interior is a beautiful blend of machined aluminium and sumptuous leather. There is also an option known as “Event Seating”, where potential owners may add two extra seats on the tailgate, allowing you to enjoy a nice picnic in the British countryside without sitting on the peasant grass and ruining your tweed trousers. There is also a sliding floor in the boot, to aide practicality and ease of use.

The SVAutobiography is an interesting take on luxury. Rather than taking the Germanic route and stuffing the car with new technology and gadgetry to take the stress out of driving, Land Rover has opted for a more old-school concept of luxury. There are strong elements of craftsmanship and tailoring going on in the SVAutobiography. In fact, the chief designer of Land Rover has described this car as being “an office or dining room on wheels”.

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There is however one problem with the SVAutobiography. This new car has now set the bar for luxury within the Jaguar Land Rover brand.  Suddenly the Jaguar XJ, which for years has been the luxury model for Jaguar Land Rover, does not feel as luxurious as the SVAutobiography. I suspect there is reason behind this. The SVAutobiography is now the most luxurious model to take on the Bentleys and Rolls Royces of this world, where is the XJ will take on the next tier of automotive luxury, the Mercedes’ and BMWs of this world.

After much consideration, I have come to realise that this move makes sense for Jaguar Land Rover. Both Rolls Royce and Bentley, along with other brands like Lamborghini and Maserati, are designing cars to enter the SUV market with. However while the Lamborghini and Maserati SUVs will be more performance orientated, to rival the Porsche Cayenne, the Rolls Royce and Bentley SUVs will offer a more luxurious and cosseting SUV. This is an area Land Rover should very well be dominating, because at the end of the day, it is their area of expertise.  Land Rover is one of the strongest names in the SUV world, so a move upmarket is a chance for Land Rover to make themselves more credible in the luxury market.

This a truly incredible car to behold. Some of the details are incredible, and the images do this car no justice. It might not have the technological prowess of other luxury cars like the Maybach S600 for example, but it certainly has a certain undeniable British charm about it. Check out the video below, created by Land Rover USA, to get a glimpse of this handcrafted British masterpiece.

2016-Range-Rover-SVAutobiography-interior_02                 2016-Land-Rover-Range-Rover-SVAutobiography-interior-gear-details                        xRange-Rover-SV-8.jpg.pagespeed.ic.VYeq_yr8LAHgNhZ5j8AL

 

McLaren Unveils 911 Beater

McLaren Unveils 911 Beater

McLaren 570S

This is the new 570S, and unless I had pointed out to you that this is in fact new, I am sure many of you would have assumed it to be the 650S.

The design, as you can probably tell, borrows heavily from the P1 and 650S, especially in the front, where the only notable differences are slightly larger headlights, and a new front spoiler. The rear is an all new design, taking inspiration from the P1. It looks quite cute, if a little dull.

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The internals are very much the same story as the rest of the McLaren range. Mid-engine layout, 3.8 litre V8, this time de-tuned to produce 562 bhp, and a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. It will hit 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds, and go in to reach a top speed of 204 mph. Interestingly, the 570S is fairly light, tipping the scales at 1313 kg, which is about 150 kg lighter than one of its key rivals, the Audi R8 V10 Plus. This low weight is in part thanks to their MonoCell II chassis, which has been tweaked slightly for the 570S.

Inside, the cabin is noticeably different to McLaren’s other cars. Its more usable, more luxurious than the 650S and is intended to give greater emphasis on interior comfort. There is more cabin storage than the rest of the McLaren line-up, leather upholstery, and even a 144 litre luggage boot, which is apparently best-in-class.

McLaren 570S

Overall not an immensely exciting vehicle. The 570S is mainly designed to fit within a gap of the market, rather than showing off its technical prowess. At about £130,000, its clearly aimed to be the “baby” McLaren, intending to poach customers from Audi and Porsche. I am sure it will sell well and be a great source of income for McLaren.  Personally, I couldn’t live with knowing that the engine I have got has been detuned just to fit within a segment of the market. It feels like marketing, rather than engineering.  I would have preferred a smaller capacity engine or a different engine entirely to the twin-turbo V8.

The 570S will be available in showrooms over the coming months, with a starting price of about £130,000.

New Jaguar XF Revealed

New Jaguar XF Revealed

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Jag has been on a bit of a roll these days. The F-Type is winning over enthusiasts everywhere, the XE looks to be a future hit, and the XJ and first gen XF are selling well. They also have the much-awaited F-Pace SUV in the works. Now, Jag has taken their hugely popular XF, and given it a thorough going over, bringing it up-to-date for 2016.

Due to publicly unveiled next week at the New York Motor Show, the new XF is built on Jaguar’s latest aluminium architecture, as used on the new XE. 75% of the structure is made of aluminium, with steel being used towards the rear of the vehicle. Adding steel to the rear has meant that this new XF has an almost perfect 50:50 weight distribution. This new structure is also 30% stiffer than before and about 190kg lighter than the outgoing model. That is quite a significant diet indeed.

The new XF also uses the same suspension set up as the XE, with double wishbones up front and independent rear suspension in the rear. The electric steering also comes from the XE/F-Type.  A new feature being shown off on the new XF is called Jaguar Configurable Dynamics, a system allowing the driver to set up the steering, damping, gearbox and engine response to suit his particular driving style.

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Engines on the new XF will begin with a 161bhp 2.0 litre “Ingenium” diesel engine, producing just 104 g/km of CO2. There is also a 178bhp version of this engine, both of which are combined with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The 3.0 litre V6  diesel remains, now producing 296bhp and 700 Nm of juicy torque. Currently, the only petrol engine available is a supercharged V6, as found in the F-Type, producing 375 bhp and 450 Nm of torque.

The biggest change is found in the interior, with a design following closely to the interior found in the XE.  There is a large, tablet-like, 10.2 inch touchscreen, featuring Jaguar’s latest multimedia system.  The instrument cluster has also been replaced with a 12. 3 inch TFT screen, displaying all the usual driver information.

2016-jaguar-xf-s-interior

While only the saloon version will be on shown at the New York Motor Show, expect to see a SportTourer version, and a tyre-munching R version over the coming years. The new XF should reach showrooms by the end of the year.

Koenigsegg Regera; A Gearboxless Hypercar for the Future

Koenigsegg Regera; A Gearboxless Hypercar for the Future

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Remember the days when we thought the 918, P1 and LaFerrari were the latest and greatest in hybrid supercars? That, until the next Veyron comes along, nothing will eclipse this unholy trinity? Well, it appears, Koenigsegg had other, bigger, faster ideas.

This is the Regera, which is actually a Swedish word, and translates to the verb “to reign”. What Koenigsegg is essentially saying here is that this car is going to reign over every other hypercar across the land. That is quite a name to live up to.

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The Lamborghini Aventador SV Roars Through Geneva

The Lamborghini Aventador SV Roars Through Geneva

Lamborghini-Aventador-SV-001

I pity the Aventador SV. Had this been any other, ordinary motor show, the SV would have been the star of the show. However, with all the Aston Martin Concepts, the Bentley Concept, the new R8 and even a new Koenigsegg, the Lambo felt a little lost.

Which is actually a great shame because, its got some impressive headlines. This is the most hardcore version of the Aventador yet. The stupendous naturally-aspirated V12 had been fettled with to produce 740 bhp at 8400 rpm. That’s a 50 bhp increase over the ordinary  Aventador, if you can call the Aventador ordinary. This extra bhp comes from improved variable valve timing and variable intake systems. The 507 lb/ft of torque remains the same as the regular Aventador.

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The SV is also 50 kg lighter than before, thanks to extensive use of carbon fibre. Add the aerodynamic improvements which the SV sports over the LP700-4, and this car can now hit 62 mph in just 2.8 seconds and go on to reach over 217 mph. The Haldex four-wheel drive system and seven-speed automated manual gearbox from the ordinary Aventador remain.

The exhaust system has also been re-engineered to give a wider variety of sounds too, which is nice.  The pushrod suspension now also features magnetic fluid-filled adaptive dampers, further reducing body roll, whilst at the same time making the car more responsive in the handling department. Finally there is also a massive rear spoiler which can be manually adjusted in three different positions. This new wing, whilst adding downforce does not contribute to any more drag and in fact aides aerodynamic efficiency. I don’t know how they did that. Through magic, I presume.

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Expect a price tag of over £300,000 and a noise like amplified thunder.

The Porsche Cayman GT4 is a Sigh of Relief for Petrolheads Everywhere

The Porsche Cayman GT4 is a Sigh of Relief for Petrolheads Everywhere

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The Porsche stand at Geneva was a bitter-sweet affair this year. In one corner we had the brand new 2015 GT3 RS. The most hardcore, track-focussed 911 to come out of Stuttgart. For years journalists have drooled at the 996 and 997 models of the GT3 RS, for their bare-boned, hairy-chested attitude to driving. It had a straight-six motor at the back, a manual gearbox, and a no-nonsense attitude to corners. It was quite brilliant.

This year, for the 991 911, Porsche opted for something different. The 2015 GT3 RS has no manual gearbox. The disappointment amongst journalists was palpable. It may have a 4.0 litre straight-six with 493 bhp, a carbon fibre bonnet and magnesium roof, but everyone was preoccupied with the lack of a manual gearbox.  It basically seemed like an international injustice.

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There is, however, a ray of light, in the form of the Cayman GT4. The GT4 does have a manual gearbox. Couple this to a 3.8 litre flat-six, producing 380 bhp and 310 lb/ft of torque, and you have yourself a sportscar for the people. It sits 30 mm lower than the standard Cayman and a 13 mm wider track. The GT4 is also 34 mm longer than the standard Cayman, due to a longer nose. The overall weight is 1340 kg, which is the same as the Cayman GTS.

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However, despite all these changes, the main selling point of the GT4 is not the power or the handling, it is that gearbox. What the GT3 lost, the GT4 gained, and while it is not exactly cheap at just over £64,000, it is probably the most accomplished sportscar anyone can ever hope to own.

Expect to see both the GT3 RS and the Cayman GT4 at you local Porsche dealer within the next few months.

The Clarkson Conundrum

The Clarkson Conundrum

Atom face

It looks like Mr.Clarkson has gone and upset the BBC once again. Well, I don’t think anyone is surprised. Jeremy Clarkson and controversy go hand-in-hand like strawberries and cream. We have had the “slope” incident, the “eenie meenie miney mo” controversy, the “H982 FKL” episode and now the alleged punching of a producer because he didn’t get his hot meal after filming. All of these were just in the last twelve months.

This is nothing new for Top Gear though. Controversy is part of what makes this show so great. Some people fail to understand that, even though there are cars in the show, it is not a traditional car show. Its main aim is to entertain, and not to educate the viewer on cars. This is not the Top Gear from the 1980s or Fifth Gear. This is modern Top Gear, home of explosions, falling over, tyre smoke and the odd abused metaphor thrown in for good measure. If you want to watch in depth reviews on cars look elsewhere. Top Gear aims to remove the monotony of power-to-weight ratios and mpg figures with three middle aged men drawing penises out of tyre marks.

Boys being boys.
Boys being boys.

Let me be clear, I am not standing up for Top Gear or Jeremy Clarkson in any way. I really would like to. You honestly have no idea how much I would like to say, “It is just Clarkson being Clarkson, stop making a fuss.” I love Top Gear. It was the show that really got me into cars, and, ten years later, there is nothing I look forward more to than an episode of Top Gear.

However, I understand that this incident, if found to be true, is Jeremy Clarkson’s fault. There is no other way to look at it. If the BBC find that Mr.Clarkson did in fact punch this producer, then Mr.Clarkson will need to be reprimanded.

The problem is, can he be reprimanded? After all the controversies of the last twelve months, everyone believes a slap on the wrist just won’t do. Clarkson needs to be sacked. He was on his last chance, and he blew it.

Clarkson on one of his epic adventures.
Clarkson on one of his epic adventures.

However, like it or not, Clarkson’s version of Top Gear is popular. Top Gear gets 350 million viewers, and no matter which way you look at it, that is one of the BBC’s main cash cows. It is a show loved worldwide, and Jeremy Clarkson is the strongest link in Top Gear. Remove Jeremy Clarkson and the formula for Top Gear is ruined.

Jeremy Clarkson is a force to be reckoned with in the BBC. If he were to be sacked, or leave the BBC, he will find a job elsewhere in no time. I am also willing to bet that his colleagues would follow suit. As it stands, only the BBC stands to lose from sacking Mr.Clarkson.

So what will happen? It is difficult to tell from the BBC’s point of view. The BBC itself is probably unsure how to proceed. However, I am fairly certain that Clarkson isn’t all that worried. If he loses his job with the BBC, he will no doubt find other opportunities elsewhere.  What I say for sure is that the next few days, the world’s petrolheads will be waiting to see what is to become of their favourite TV presenter.

SMUG
No matter what happens, Clarkson wins.

 

The Aston Martin DBX is a Glimpse into the Future

The Aston Martin DBX is a Glimpse into the Future

Nobody in the motoring journalism world expected this from Aston Martin. A four-seat high-riding coupe with an Aston Martin grille? Some would call this sacrilege. I see it as Aston Martin testing the waters.

front aston dbx

This is the DBX, a different interpretation of the traditional grand tourer. It is not a production-ready vehicle, but Aston’s chief executive, Andy Palmer, did admit that Aston Martin has space within its lineup to add a car like the DBX into the line up.

So what is the DBX exactly? Well, it is a high-riding, grand-tourer, designed to ferry your children to school on the weekday and, on the weekend, take you to the South of France in great comfort and speed, whilst also ensuring driving pleasure in those moments in between. It represents what Aston Martin thinks a GT could look like in the near future, taking into context current design trends and expectations. It is a four-seater, two-door coupe, majoring on day-to-day practicality.

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Not much has been said about the powertrain of this vehicle, since it is mainly a design study. This new design is mainly to judge what current customers think of this sort of vehicle, as well as gather some new interest into the brand. The likelyhood is that, if this car were to make it into production it would use Aston’s tried and tested V12 or Mercedes’ twin-turbo V8 which is destined for future Aston Martins.

It seems that Aston would really like to make this car a reality, possibly slotting it as a rival to the Ferrari FF or Rolls Royce Wraith. Time will tell whether they take the plunge and make this vehicle a reality.

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