Great things come in small packages… The 2016 Subaru BRZ

 
I can’t get enough to of the Subaru BRZ. What is not to love? It is a small sporty coupe with a 6-speed manual gearbox (or a traditional automatic) and 4-cylinder Boxer engine.

 

The Subaru BRZ isn’t going to win a drag race, but its low center of gravity means that it will lap most cars on a tight road course.

Not much has changed since my last review on the BRZ. Read my previous post to find out why you should buy this car.

 

Could NASCAR go electric?

HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 22:  Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Crispy Toyota, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)

HOMESTEAD, FL – NOVEMBER 22: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Crispy Toyota, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)

I came across an interesting article this week discussing the idea of NASCAR switching to “All Electric” motors. This recommendation was given by none other than Bill Nye, the science guy.

Nye says he was “Depressed” at his last race as he watched the cars run on the technology of yesterday, rather than the technology of today like Tesla operates on.

But, is this even a relevant discussion? Isn’t part of the experience of auto racing in general the “thrill” of the motors and the “smell” of the fuel? And what about sponsorship? This would drastically destroy the gasoline and oil companies, possibly causing a major stock market issue.

So then, is there a way to do both and slowly integrate electric into full time? What if NASCAR began using electric motors in the lower series or allowed electric motors to race with the fuel of yesterday, would that be an even trade to an industry that is established?

I have to believe we are a long way away from seeing electric motor racing in NASCAR or any other major auto racing event. While brands like Tesla have changed the world, the world isn’t quite ready for “quite motors” on a racetrack. I do believe, however, that this would be an excellent opportunity for groups like Tesla to form a new style of auto racing on a more lower level. Like how ARCA is the start for NASCAR, Tesla could create their own IROC style race featuring all electric cars. That would be the best option for integrating today’s technology into auto racing, rather than shoving it down the throat of current race fans who seem to have no interest at all in electric.

The Tesla Roadster

The Tesla Roadster

Nye said in a recent interview that “NASCAR uses gasoline-burning instead of electron-flowing. I wish NASCAR were more like NASA. I wish NASCAR were more about the future instead of the past. I wish NASCAR set up Grand Challenges to inspire companies and individuals to create novel automotive technologies in the way NASA does to create novel space technologies.”

People don’t like change, but will accept new ideas over time. Rather than “all electric NASCAR”, let’s try a small circuit of electric racing until it becomes popular enough to go full time. Something like the recent “Formula E” concept or the 2013 test for Tesla in NASCAR is a good start, so long as they are their own series.

Then, and only then, will a change of that magnitude actually occur.

 

I am in love with the 2016 Volvo XC90

There are few cars that I fall in love with after driving them for only a week. They usually tend to be small little sports cars that are meant to be driven on Sunday afternoons when the weather is nice.

So I was a little surprised when I started missing the 2016 Volvo XC90 when it left my garage after testing it for a week. It is the perfect luxury SUV! The exterior and interior design make it stick out from the crowd at the country club, while offering a conservative approach when offering a ride to clients, co-workers, and employees. Plus with the advanced safety features, it is a strong choice for hauling the family to soccer practice.

  

  
The interior of the Volvo XC90 is inviting. It’s Swedish design is elegantly simple. Open pore wood and real aluminum accents the doors, center consol and dash. The seats look futuristicly modern, but they were extremely comfortable. The contour of the seats do a great job of supporting your back. I took a day trip from Ft Lauderdale to Naples and back, and enjoyed every minute of it.

 
 The Volvo XC90 features an innovative iPad like infotainment system. The driver (or front passanger) can tab icons to control the car’s navigation system, make calls via Bluetooth, and control media options. A familiar home button rests at the bottom of the screen. To get even more Apple-like, the XC90 I tested featured Apple CarPlay. CarPlay allows iPhone users to plug their phone into the car (via USB) and control core iPhone functions though the car’s display – such as calling, music, and Apple Maps navigation. My only real complaint about CarPlay is that you have to plug the phone directly into the car versus using Bluetooth technology.

 It is no wonder why Volvo has a reputation for safety; the XC90 is packed with safety technology that actually works. The lane keep assist is spot on, the dynamic cruise control smoothly controls the car’s throttle, and the blind spot monitors are very senesitive. I didn’t get to try it, but the Volvo XC90 also offers emergency breaking. So, if the vehicle in front of you slams on the breaks, the XC90 will do the same while coming to a complete stop. Another nifty safety technology feature that I got to try out is pilot assist. The system allows the car to steer it self while applying the gas or break during heavy traffic – this was priceless while sitting in rush hour Miami traffic.

  
Sadly, all things must come to an end. But fortunately with a starting price of around $50,000, the 2016 Volvo XC90 has the potential to be sitting in my driveway.

Kurt Busch shows interest in the INDY 500

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 21: Driver Kurt Busch talks with reporters during the NASCAR 2016 Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour on January 21, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Bob Leverone / NASCAR via Getty Images  (Photo by Bob Leverone/NASCAR via Getty Images)

CHARLOTTE, NC – JANUARY 21: Driver Kurt Busch talks with reporters during the NASCAR 2016 Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour on January 21, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Bob Leverone / NASCAR via Getty Images (Photo by Bob Leverone/NASCAR via Getty Images)

With the 100th anniversary of the INDY 500 coming in 2016, Kurt Busch is considering the idea of getting back into INDYCAR, especially for the 500.

Busch told Autoweek that “The Indy 500 is on the back burner. That’s especially true since it’s the 100th running. There’s a lot of sponsorship opportunities, be it Haas Automation, Chevrolet or Monster Energy.”

Busch finished sixth in the 2014 INDY 500, running with Andretti Autosport. He believes that he can pull together the backing to get a deal but he’s less optimistic about finding a car that will give him what he needs to get to the front.

Busch says his main focus is to continue to build up his team with Stewart Haas Racing and the # 41 car, with the goal of getting into the Chase for 2016.

Michael Andretti, of Andretti Autosport, has said in previous interviews that he is interested in running an extra car for Busch in the future. At this time his team already has three cars filled for 2016 with drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Carlos Muñoz. However, they do routinely field additional entries for the 500.

Spare no expensive with the Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG Coupe

IMG_2565

Life doesn’t get any sweeter than driving around in a Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe, unless you driving it’s muscular older the brother…. The Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG. The behemoth has a 621 horsepower Mercedes V12 engine under the hood. The handcrafted engine is able to propel the car from zero to sixty in just 4 seconds, but where it really shines is sixty to one hundred and fifty. It takes off like a rocket ship!

In addition to mind blowing acceleration for a car of this size and weight, it has superb stoping power thanks to massive 6-piston 15.4 inch disc brakes. The Active Body Control system on the Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG actively makes use of the vehicles hydraulic suspension system, and is able to reduce body roll by up to 30%.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 12.26.18 AM

If you read my article on the 2015 Mercedes S550 Coupe, you will know that the S65 AMG is the pinnacle of Germany engineering and luxury. The interior perfectly blends old world luxury with a modern high-tech design. Every inch of the cabin is wrapped in leather, carbon fiber (or wood), aluminum and glass. With the S65 AMG, you feel powerful, but refined.

At a price tag of over $250,000 (as tested), the Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG Coupe costs almost a much as a the new Ferrari 488 GTB and the Lamborghini Hurcan. While the Ferrari and Lamborghini may be faster, the Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG Coupe takes luxury to a whole new level. Do you want a car to take to the race track? Or do you want a car that will leave you refreshed after a cross-country road trip… Plus walk away from almost anything else on the road.

Exploring Arizona in the new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport Diesel

IMG_2517

Land Rover is one of my all-time favorite automotive manufactures for one reason, their vehicles are built to go anywhere. They are suited for the heat of the Sahara desert, the frigid cold of Alaska, and the wetness of the Amazon Rainforest. Land Rover’s Range Rover line adds sophistication to your great adventure, without sacraficing capability. A Land Rover driving instructor once described the Range Rover line as a mountain goat wearing a tuxedo.

A few weeks ago, Land Rover flew me to Sedona Arizona to test Range Rover and Rover Rover Sport’s newest engine configuration, a 3.0L Td6 Turbocharged Diesel. Previous drivetrain options were limited to a Supercharged 3.0L V6 or a Supercharged 5.0L V8. This new drivetrain option packs a punch! The Td6 offers 32% greater fuel economy than Land Rover’s Supercharged V6, and almost as much torque as Land Rover’s Supercharged V8 engine. That translates into 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 440 pounds of torque (21 pounds of torque shy of the Supercharged V8).

If you are reading this and saying to yourself: (1) diesel’s are noisy, diesel’s are dirty, (2) diesel fuel costs more, and (3) what about the VW diesel scandal? Then you have a lot to learn! While clean diesel technology is relativity new in the United States, European markets have been perfecting the diesel engine for decades. (1) Land Rover’s Td6 diesel engine is almost as quite as a traditional gasoline engine. Most people wouldn’t know that it is a diesel unless you are able to recognize the pitter patter sound of a diesel engine versus a gasoline engine. (2) Diesel fuel generally costs more than regular gasoline, but it is almost always cheaper than premium gasoline, which most high performance engines require. (3) VW gave diesel engines a bad rap. I have spoken with several automotive engineers who specialize in clean diesel technology, and all of them basically said the same thing: “VW took shortcuts in order to save money.” The more powerful the engine, the larger the emissions filters on diesel engines, the more they cost.

IMG_2539

So how does that translate to off-roading? You get the same off-road capabilities as the V6 and V8 Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, which is second to none. The Range Rover offers two locking differentials, nearly a foot of ground clearance, and an advanced terrain response system. The Range Rover comes standard with a twin speed transfer box (low and high gear range), but it is an extra on the Range Rover Sport.

The new diesel motor drivetrain on 2016 Range Rover and Range Rover Sport turn one of the most capable and refined vehicles in the world into an SUV that will go anywhere and get great fuel economy.

Contact your local Land Rover dealer or click here to visit the Land Rover website for more information on the 2016 Range Rover and Range Rover Sport.

Note: I did not receive compensation for this article, but Land Rover did pay for my trip to Sedona.

The Maybach Is Back! Review of the 2016 Mercedes S600 Maybach

  
Maybach has a long history of producing some of the finest automobiles in the while, dating back to 1909. In recent times, the vehicle is often regarded as one of the best kept secrets, because only truly wealthy people (and automotive enthusiasts) will recognize the name. This has both helped and hurt the brand throughout the years – Helped because the elite want something different from the dozens of Rolls-Royces parked in their neighbor’s drive way; and hurt because most people paying 200k+ for car want to be recognized driving a car that cost as much as the average home in mid-west.

  
Mercedes, the owner of the Macbach brand, has given us a toy to play with. The Mercedes-Benz S600 Maybach. The vehicle is no longer its own make, but an exclusive trim level of the S-Class sedan.

  
The Machbach version of the S-Class is eight inches longer than the long wheelbase S-Class, meaning more legroom for the rear passangers. Riding in the back of the Mercedes S600 Maybach is like riding in a private jet. With the touch of a few buttons, your seat reclines and a foot rest pops out. Dual video screens keep you occupied as you tour around town. Should you get thirsty, an available champagne cool and (real) silver champagne flutes are stored in the rear center console. If alcohol is not your thing, the rear cup holders are both heated and cooled.

  
On the off chance that you actually have to work for a living, tray tables pop out of the rear center consol on the Mercedes S600 Maybach.

Two leather pillows are elegantly placed for nap time in the rear. Rear and side window shades can automatically be raised to reduce ambient light.

  
The 2016 Mercedes S600 Maybach wasn’t built just for the backseat passangers, the driver gets enjoy unprecedented luxury. The cabin is a lined with Napa leather from top to bottom. A heated steering wheel, armrests, and seats keep you warm during the winter, while ventilated seats keep you cool during the summer. Two big and beautiful displays show colorful illustrations of your speed, route information, entertainment selection, and control options for the front and rear massaging seats. Imagine taking a one hour road trip with a masseuse gentle rubbing your back.

  
Should you feel the need for speed, just give the Mercedes S600 a little gas, and you will begin to feel the power of a twin-turbo charged V12 engine with over 600 horsepower. The transmission is wicked smooth – it glides you from zero to sixty in five seconds.

  
With private jet styling and one of the softest rides on the planet, the MayBach is back. But this time, with an iconic nameplate… Watchout Rolls-Royce and Bentley!

The sixth generation Mustang is the best Mustang yet!

IMG_2448

I have been a Mustang fan since I was a boy, but not of all Mustangs… I love the first generation, liked the second, hated the third and fourth, and loved the fifth. I loved the previous generation so much so that I ordered a 2011 Mustang nine months before the car was put into production.

My 2011 Ford Mustang was a metallic blue model with white stripes and saddle leather interior; it was beautiful. Under the hood was 3.7L V6 paired with a six-speed manual gearbox that delivered 305 hp to the rear wheels. At the time, it was one of Ford’s most advanced engines. It was faster than the 2010 Mustang GT, while maintaining a fuel economy of around 28mpg on the highway. I ended up selling my Mustang and buying a Porsche because I wanted a change of pace…. But I still miss Mustang! There is something about driving American muscle.

The Mustang I am driving this week is a sixth generation Mustang. The new Mustang boasts a more aggressive design with a sleeker roof line. The vehicle is slightly wider and longer, but nearly an inch shorter. The model I am driving includes Ford’s new 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine with a six-speed manual gearbox. The engine is rated for 310 horsepower and 320 pounds of torque, so it gallops from zero to sixty a little quicker than my Mustang. The only thing missing is the rumble of the engine through the exhaust. My old Mustang wasn’t nearly as throaty as a V8, but the naturally aspirated V6 engine still produced a nice little rumbled. Instead, when you put the pedal to metal in this car, you hear the turbos spool. Arguably, some may enjoy the sound of turbo chargers getting ready to launch the car – with very minimal lag.

IMG_2459

In addition to increased horsepower and torque, the new EcoBoost Mustang offers slightly increased fuel economy over the current and previous generation V6. Fuel economy has become increasingly important to Ford. Not just because of expected rising fuel costs in the US (even though gas prices are insanely low now), but because this is a global Mustang. Ford is building and selling the Ford Mustang across the globe for the first time ever. Europeans love turbo-charged 4-cylinder engineers because of the lower emissions, increased fuel economy, and low RPM torque. In some European countries, citizens are taxed based on their vehicle’s engine size.    

The all-new interior on the sixth generation Mustang is fighter plane inspired, toggle switches and a speedometer labeled “Ground Speed MPH.”  

The interior is stunning. The new design has turned the unrefined Mustang into a sophisticated vehicle, worthy of ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel, and dynamic mood lighting. Their is quite a bit of plastic in the vehicle, but Ford did a fantastic job of dressing it up with stitching accents that make it look like leather. I know I have said it before, but one of the best features of any Ford is Microsoft Sync. It is hands down one of the easiest to use infotainment centers. It offers a wealth of premium features without the need for an expensive data plan (just for your car).

I know the sixth generation Mustang has been out for a while now, but I feel like a kid in a candy store getting my hands on one!

 

Upgrade to first class with the Infiniti Q70L

 
If you have  $50,000 to $65,000 to spend on a luxury sedan, you have a few options. You can get mid-sized sedan like the Mercedes E-Class or the BMW 5-Series, or you can upgrade to the full-sized Infiniti Q70L.

The Infiniti Q70L has Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7-Series, and Audi A8L qualities at a fraction of the price. You get a flagship vehicle with exceptinal ride quality, advanced technologies, and enough leg room for backseat passangers to stretch their legs with an additional six inches of leg room.

 
The interior of the Infiniti Q70L is very posh. The center consol, dash, and doors are dressed with real wood and soft the interior is lined with sof to the touch leather. An available 1o speaker Bose sounds system with twin speakers on the headrest of the front seats is litterally music to my ears – It creates a personalized sound experince for each occupant.

The Infiniti Q70L is avialable in two different engine configurations: a 3.7L V6 that produces 330 horsepower and a 5.6L V8 that produces 416 horsepower. The V8 moves! Both drivetrain option come with a 7-speed automatic transmission that shifts smoothly, but quickly when needed.

The usual flagship level features are standard with the 5.6L varient of the Infiniti Q70L, such as a 360 degree camera and and climate controled seats. So far $64,000 you are not just getting a bigger engine.

The overall design of the Inifiti Q70L has had a major update in almost a decade. This is good for buyers, because they can expect their car to look modern for years to come.

First Drive: 2016 Nissan Altima

 
The 2016 Altima may look nearly identical to the 2015 model, but it is what’s inside that counts. Upgrades include a new grill with active shutters to improve areodynamics and fuel efficentcy, a sportier suspesion, and an enhanced cabin with increased sound proofing material. I can’t get over the how quite this car is!

The 2016 Nissan Altima is available with two engine options: A 4-cylinder engine that gets almost 40 mpg, and a peppy V6 that produces 270 horsepower. New for 2016 is an SR variant, that adds a sportier suspension, paddel shifters, and unique wheel. Nissan uses a CVT transmission in all Altimas, so you get smoother shifts, but you are sacraficing performance.

  
Updated safety technologies make the 2016 Nissan Altima one of the safest cars in it’s segment: An optional forward emergency braking system is able to bring the Altima to a complete stop, rear cross traffic alert warns you if a car is approaching while backing out from a parking spot, and blind spot warning alerts you if a car is driving in your blindspot.

At a starting price of $22,000, this best Nissan Altima yet!