It doesn’t get any better than the Mercedes-Maybach S650

Since the 1970’s, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (Special Class) has been considered the gold standard in the full-size luxury car segment. Manufactures such as BMW and Audi regularly compare their finest vehicles with the S-Class because it is a benchmark vehicle in terms of engineering, technology and luxury. This segment is where advanced comfort and safety technologies are often times introduced to the public, such as massaging seats, lane keep assist, and pretension seatbelts.

But what do you if you want a luxury car that is better than “the best?” What if money is no object? Celebrities and flashy elites usually turn to a Rolls Royce, and more modest gentlemen will often times admire a Bentley…. but they are forgetting a brand that dates back to 1909, Maybach. The brand was once a stand alone marque, but Mercedes has resurrected the name for their ultra-luxury flagship sedan.

This sedan may look like an ordinary Mercedes on the outside, but it is extra ordinary inside. The cabin is handcrafted from top to bottom in nappa leather and features quilted diamond pattern stitching on select surfaces to add an extra touch of detail. All of the elements of this car screen quality.

Mercedes calls this a “trim level” but it is not… It’s like going from First Class on an American Airlines flight to flying privately on a Gulfstream Jet. Both are nice, but once you starting flying private, it is hard to go back.

In addition to Maybach styling and the special materials used, you will also noticed an enhanced ride. It is even more supple than a regular S-Class. This is because the S650 Maybach features a unique “Magic Body Control” system that scans the road ahead so the suspension can proactively counteract bumps and dips in the road. The system also has a very impressive “Curve” mode which will counteract G-Forces by leaning the car inwards like a motorcycle driver when making quick sharp turns. I tested this feature numerous times, and I still can’t get over how well it works!

What also works surprisingly well on this car are the brakes. The Mercedes-Maybach S650 weighs nearly 5,300 pounds, but it able to stop with sports-car like precision. This is a very important quality to have, because: One, the faster you can stop the safer you are. And two, this Mercedes likes to fly when you hit the gas pedal. Under the hood is a 6.0L Bi-Turbo V12 that pumps out 621 horsepower and over 700 pounds of torque – that is super car status – so you are going to need all that stopping power.

Hopefully if you have the means to afford such a beautiful machine, you will also have a chauffeur on hand, because the backseats are even more opulent than the front. From the back you get to enjoy reclining heated and cooled seats with built in massagers. Additionally you can sit back and put your feet up and take a nap because you got an extra 6-inches of legroom and a motorized footrest. If staying awake is more your style you can look up at the stars at night through the rear moonroof or entertain yourself with the rear video displays.

With a vehicle that is more understated than a Bentley and fancier inside than a Rolls Royce, it is hard not to want the Mercedes-Maybach S650 as your daily driver. The great thing is that it is also a relative bargain, my test vehicle was listed at $207,000 with options. Where as the Bentley Flying Spur starts at $189,000 and the Rolls Royce Ghost starts a $311,000.

Contact your local Mercedes-Benz dealer or click here for more information on the 2018 Mercedes-Maybach S650.

Droid Not Included… The 2018 Nissan Rogue With ProPilot Assist

In a galaxy not so far away, the Nissan Rogue is helping drivers navigate life’s daily battles with the dark side. This includes crazy drivers switching lanes without notice, crazy rush hour drivers slamming on their brakes, and distracting kids in the backseat wanting your attention.

While this X-Wing Fighter doesn’t have BB-8 as your wingman, it does have Nissan’s new ProPilot Assist. The system provides assisted steering, braking and accelerating while at cruising speeds. Beware, you can’t take yours eyes off of the road. If you do get distracted though, this CUV will keep you in your lane and brake autonomously should the driver of the car in front of you make an emergency stop. That could mean the different between life or death in some situations.

I have seen this technology on a number of other vehicles – The $100k Mercedes-Benz S-Class for example – but what is amazing is that you can pickup one of these family friendly CUVs for less than $35,000.

This price tag gives you a Nissan Rogue SL Platnium with heated leather seats and a heated leather steering wheel, a 9-speaker Bose sound system, a 360 degree camera system for parking. It also comes with a fuel efficient 4-cylinder engine that gets 33mpg on the highway and a modern all-wheel-drive system to handle slippery surfaces…. the only thing you don’t get is a cute little Droid named BB-8 to help guide you on life’s adventures.

Visit your local Nissan dealer to learn more about ProPilot Assist on the 2018 Nissan Rouge or click here.

It is hard not to fall in love with the TTRS!

We met on a winters day, with a cool breeze coming off of the ocean and the roar of a 5-cylinder Audi engine in the background. It may sound like a love story, and that is because it is.

The Audi TT was always a good car. Small, nimble, and German traditionally made its defining characteristics. But the TTRS is a whole new beast! It is like Audi’s Quattro Motorsport team has injected a super human serum into the gas tank.

The TTRS is bold, louder, and quicker than ever before. Behind the grill is a 20-valve dual overhead cam 2.5L 5-cylinder turbo-charged engine that produces 400 horsepower and 350 pounds of torque. That may not seem like an insane amount, but for this tiny car, but the TTRS weighs only 3,300 pounds and it has got a dual-clutch gearbox. That allows it to sling shot from 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. In comparison, the current generation Porsche 911 S with a PDK transmission goes 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds. So the 911 is slower and it costs $40,000 more to buy.

I will admit, the TTRS does feel a little claustrophobic when you first get in it, but you quickly get use to it and eventually start to appreciate it. The small stature of the TTRS when combined with standard adjustable magnetic suspension and Quattro all-Wheel-drive make the vehicle feel like a go-kart. It brings pure joy to the driver and leaves you grinning from ear to ear as you power slide through a corner.

On long boring stretches of highway, the driver is still fully entertained. Front and center is a large virtual cockpit that displays all of your key instruments, as well as, your navigation, audio, and backup camera. This means you can just casually glance down for everything. Without a center screen, the passengers’ viewpoint is pretty bare. This can be great for them if they want to enjoy the scenery, but troublesome for the driver if the passenger is the one imputing navigation information due to the only screen being on the driver’s side. On the plus side, the driver the only who gets to control the music!

The seats in the TTRS felt very special. In additional to the futuristic and sporty shape, thick red stitching and dressed them for a unique look. The design is very Super Car / GT Car like. The backseat felt cramped for an average size adult, but it is way more usable than a 911.

With a starting price of $64,900, the Audi TTRS seems like the deal of the century! It doesn’t have the racing pedigree of the Porsche 911, Corvette (Grand Sport), or Jaguar F-Type, but on paper, it is faster than all of them and cheaper… so what is not to love?

Visit your local Audi dealer or click here to learn more about the 2018 Audi TTRS.

P.S. Remember to get it like it’s hot, because the first Audi TTRS was limited production.

The All-New Traverse Is Perfect For Family Road Trips!

When going on a cross-country road trip with the family for the holidays, what is most important to you? Comfort, cargo room, safety, fuel economy, or entertainment for the kids? Chevrolet conducted a survey to find out what mattered most and to further their quest to make the perfect road trip vehicle.

Their study (both in Florida and nationally) found that kids are not the most stressful part of the family road trip. “Keeping the kids entertained and hearing the ever-present “Are we there yet?” ranked lower than traffic, packing and cost when it comes to the top stressors on family road trips.”

Luckily for my most recent road trip, I had the pleasure of driving the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse. This mid-size SUV ticks all of boxes for the perfect family road trip SUV. To start, it holds up to 8 passengers. Even though I wasn’t planning to have 8 people in the vehicle, I am glad everyone had room to stretch out and sit comfortably. And since I had multiple people riding with me, I needed plenty of room for luggage, which wasn’t a problem. With 98 cubic feet of cargo space, the Chevrolet Traverse actually has best in class cargo capacity. And since 74% of people surveyed say that they like to take their dog on a road trip with them, that means fido will have more room to stretch out in the back.

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Fuel economy and driving distance between fill ups was a major concern during my most recent trip – it can be annoying if you have to fill out every couple hours plus gas prices can fluctuate drastically between state to state. But with the Traverses’ 19 gallon gas tank and 27 MPG on the highway, you can get over 500 miles on one tank of gas. That means you can get from Orlando to Atlanta without stopping – very impressive for an 8 passenger SUV.

Chevrolet’s survey also found that 56% of parents say that having Wi-Fi/internet connectivity would help make their family road trips more enjoyable. Of those who do have Wi-Fi/internet connectivity in their cars, more than half of parents who take road trips said they are more likely to take longer (54 percent) or more frequent (56 percent) family road trips because of the feature. That is great news for parents who have the Chevrolet Traverse, because it comes with built-in wifi to keep everyone entertained. Additionally their are 6 USB ports onboard to charge mobile devices plus an AC/DC converter is built in so you plugin a video game system or other electronic device. I had to say, kids in this generation have it good! When I was growing up, iSPY was all we had in the family wagon or mini van.

All of this technology (and the kids) can be a distraction to the driver, but the Traverse features 14 advanced safety features. They include forward collision alert which warns you if the car in front of you slams on their brakes, as well as, rear lane change alert to notify you of other vehicles your blind spot.

It is not surprising that “nearly two-thirds of all American parents (63 percent) say they would prefer to take a family road trip in an SUV over any other type of vehicle, with more than two in five (42 percent) preferring a large SUV with three rows.” For those in that 42% category, I strongly recommend you take a look at the all-new Chevrolet Traverse.

Visit your local dealer for more information about the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse or click here.

The BMW i8 Is A Marvel Of Engineering & Design

The term “exotic” isn’t used lightly in the automotive world. But that is the best way to describe the BMW i8. When it first came out in 2014, it appeared to be a car sent from the future, and it still does today. Its unique design, complete with a flying buttress, and scissor door makes your jaw drop every time your approach the car. By the way if you don’t know what a flying buttress does, it is a design element on the rear of the car that allows for air flow moving through the body to create downforce at high speeds – essentially allowing you keep the car on the ground without the need for a rear wing or spoiler.

A combination of both gasoline and electric motors propels the BMW i8 from a dead stop to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. That is not supercar status, but it is a respectable time for a sports car – It is on par with a Porsche 911. But thanks to its hybrid drivetrain you can get 76 MPGe if you start out with a full tank of gas + a full charge. The i8 allows to drive the vehicle as an electric vehicle, traditional gasoline vehicle or a combination of both. The combination delivers optimal performance, while the all electric mode offers the best energy economy. I found driving the car in all electric mode to be very handy for around town. The car is nearly as quite as a Rolls Royce in electric mode and it cost virtually nothing to operate.

The fun of driving an exotic like the BMW i8 is when you are at speed. On a private road, I got to the car through its paces. And I have to say, it sticks to the road quite well. The car felt firmly planted and well balanced when going through a corner. BMW has always been known for producing great handling cars, but since the i8 is a hybrid with heavy batteries, I was expecting to feel significant weight transfer. I didn’t because BMW used advanced building materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum to keep the weight down to under 3500 pounds. That makes this car almost 250 pounds lighter than the Audi R8.

The interior of the BMW i8 also has a modern design. Everything from the seat shape to the dash makes you feel as if you are living in the future. You can tell very easily that BMW put a lot of thought into this vehicle. The only challenge is getting into the BMW i8. The extremely wide door sill means that you have twist and turn to get in and out of the car. Guys will need to work on their arm muscles in order to lift yourself out and girls will have to hold their skirts so they don’t flash the mob of people that take notice in your car.

With a starting price of $143,000, you are paying for the future. The BMW i8 doesn’t stack up well to the competition on paper. You can get a lot faster cars for a lot less money, but you are not paying for performance with this car – you are paying for engineering. It is a car that is driving the automotive industry forward with its design, drivetrain, and carbon fiber construction.

Visit your local BMW dealer for more information on the i8 or click here.

 

Cadillac is back, with the CT6

I was a kid of the 80’s and 90’s. Back then, when you said the name Cadillac, people envisioned a big luxury car. The brand repositioned itself in the 2000s to become modern sports saloons. The transition was vital to keeping the brand alive and getting younger buyers to take notice in the brand, but Cadillac lost the lazyboy experience you got while driving a big beautiful Cadillac. Don’t get me wrong, I love sports cars and sports sedans, but Cadillac neglected a market segment of distinguished buyers who don’t care about sport.

Big luxury cars fans can rejoice now because the new CT6 was designed from the ground up for comfort. Cadillac went back to the drawing board with this one to give us a vehicle that not only looks sharp from the outside, glides over the road like an airline.

The Cadillac CT6’s cabin is spacious with large plus seats and a wide armrest so you don’t elbow your neighbor. Interior surfaces were dressed in leather, wood, carbon fiber, and premium plastics. The infotainment center is definitely the start of the show. It is controlled using a touch screen display or a touchpad on the center console. I am a big fan of this combo and I hope GM uses this setup for future projects because it can get annoying holding your arm up for extended periods of time to flip though radio stations. Speaking of music, the Cadillac CT6 is available with a 36 speaker surround sound system. Yes, 36 speakers of pure joy from Bose. This is by far the best of the best when it comes to audio from Bose. I was very impressed.

If you are a passenger, you also get to enjoy video entertainment from two large screens in the back – they pop out of the front passengers’ seats while driving.

This is the type of car you want to be chauffeur in, luckily you can… well almost. The CT6 I tested feature Supercruise technology which allows the car to drive semi-autonomously. It isn’t like Kit where you can tell him to take you to the grocery store, but the CT6 will stay in it’s lane on the highway and stop if the car in front of you stops. It is “the first true handsfree driving system.” Unfortunately it is a bit complicated to activate and it only works on limited freeways, but it is very impressive. As with all current semi-autonomous driving technology, you shouldn’t read the paper while the car guides you, you still need to be alert, but Supercruise certainly makes long commutes more enjoyable.

So whether you are being chauffeured in the back seat or front seat of the CT6 you will be living in style and comfort.

Contact your local Cadillac dealer for more information on the 2018 CT6 with Supercruise or click here to visit Cadillac’s website.

The 2018 Lamborghini Aventador S hits the apex every time.

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The new Lamborghini Aventador S may look very similar to its predecessor, but there is a lot more bite to its bark. The Aventador S is the Hurican’s bigger brother. The proportions are wide and longer, but it also get 2 more cylinders, for a total of 12. This monstrous V12 engine is able to produce a mind boggling 740 horsepower, and rocket the car from 0 to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds. Off the line starts are instant with virtually no wheel spin because the new Aventador S has all-wheel-drive.

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As both an automotive journalist and avid track day enthusiast, what I found most remarkable about the Aventador S was how nimble the car feels for its size and weight. There is no getting around the fact that it is a big car. It is almost a foot longer than the 911 GT3 RS that I tested earlier this year, but the Aventador S felt much better balanced, and as a result more nimble. The mid-engine design of the Aventador S helps give it a 43/57 weight distribution. Also contributing to its agility is Lamborghini’s all-new four-wheel steering system. When going around a corner at high speeds, the rear wheels turn in addition to the front wheels in order to help bring you closer to the apex every time. The experience of having the rear wheels turn is unnerving at first, because all of the sudden you feel the rear end slide out and you are not controlling it – the onboard computer is doing it. This is presumably a much safer option than throttle-steer or trail-braking for novice drivers, and there is no doubt that I felt faster on the track with four-wheel steering vs two-wheel steering. If you are the type of person who wants to go as fast as possible as easily as possible and as safe as possible, then skip driving school and buy a car with four-wheel steering. If you like to work hard for your speed, then four-wheel steering will feel like cheating on an exam.

The interior of the Lamborghini Aventador S is just as bold as the exterior. The cabin is littered in with jet fighter like buttons and switches. The engine start/stop button has a cover reminiscent of a missile launcher or Jame’s Bond’s ejector seat switch. The seats and dash, doors, and headliner was dressed in leather and sporty alcantara. The instrument cluster was in the form of a digital display, which enhanced the high tech ultra-high performance experience of driving the Aventador S.

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Another signal that you are drive a jet fighter for the street is the triangle exhaust tips that make you wonder if flames really do shoot out the back when you stomp on the gas pedal. The rear end is thing of beauty and a marvel of engineering because their is nothing else like it on the market.

But the experience starts way before you even step in to the car. There was something mythical about approaching the Lamborghini Aventador S. It wasn’t just the usual scissors doors, it is a culmination of things that instantly makes you feel special    about being near the car. Each Aventador S appears to be individualized because of the complex level of interior and exterior color pallets options. Also because of the rarity (in certain markets) of the Aventador, the vehicle really does say something about the driver. Are you a CEO driving through country roads in your Nero Nemesis Black Aventador S with yellow stitching on the way to your winter estate? Or are you a celebrity driving to the premier of your new movie with a Verde Mantis Green Aventador S? Either way, the Lamborghini Aventador S will make you feel like an F1 Driver with exhilarating acceleration, nimble handling, GQ level styling.

Visit your local Lamborghini dealer for more information about the Aventador S or click here to configure our own Italian bull.

The Dodge Charger Daytona Is One Mean Machine!

In my book, there is really only one true American muscle car left on the market… and that is the Dodge Charger (4-door)/Challenger (2-door). Both the Mustang and Camaro are technically pony cars, and both are getting closer and closer to high-performance sport coupes. While the Charger still offers a true muscle car experience with a snarling V8 motor under the hood that makes you want to drag race one stop light to the next.

The vehicle comes in a number of different variants, but most of the trim levels deliver a HEMI engine under the hood. The Legendary engine dates back to the 1950s, but obviously it has been modernized over the years.

The Dodge Charger Daytona I had the pleasure of driving came with a naturally aspirated 5.7L V8 Hemi, which produces 370hp. You can get the same engine in the R/T trim level, but then you don’t get the performance exhaust or the cool Dayton graphics on the exterior or interior.

The Daytona seats feel extra special because the alcantara center inserts and the “Daytona” embroidery.

The contrast Daytona package graphics don’t actually make you go and any faster, but they do add about 50 “visual” horsepower. It makes to car go from cool to bad***.

Visit your local dealer for more information about the 2017 Dodge Charger Daytona or click here to visit Dodge’s website.

The Bolt… It’s Electric!

2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV

There is no doubt that electric cars are taking over. Tesla started the modern day electric war, but GM is the first to give us an everyday affordable EV – one that you could theoretically use as one an only car.

I want to stress affordable and only car in previous statement, because yes the Nissan Leaf is affordable, but its range is poor. The Leaf will go only go 124 miles per charge. BMW’s and Smart’s options are not any better. The Chevy Bolt on the other hand will go 238 miles per charge. Tesla’s model S will go 335 miles on a charge, but the Tesla costs over twice as much the Bolt: $82,000 versus $36,000.

The Bolt’s range is key to me for being a one car household. The 200+ mile range means that you can drive all over town or to the next town over without having to worry about mobile charging stations. With the Leaf and BMW electric vehicles I tested, I felt range anxiety. Versus with the Bolt, I was able to drive it all week on one charge – and I drive a lot!

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Some may argue the Bolt looks too sci-fi for their tastes, even more so than a Tesla, but shouldn’t a car from the future look high tech. I enjoyed the minimalist design and the use of recycled plastics – it made me feel as if I was doing my part to help the environment. It has that Silicon Valley California vibe, which is a good thing. I could get use to the look…

The only thing I couldn’t get use to was ultra power saving mode. In this mode, you use the accelerator pedal (the gas pedal) to speed up the car by pressing it down as well as slow down the car significantly by lifting off the pedal. In this mode, the regenerative brakes are applied to charge the battery whenever possible – ie when you are not adding accelerating. Luckily you can turn this feature off and drive the Bolt like a normal car with the use both an accelerator pedal and brake pedal.

Visit your local Chevrolet dealer to test a Bolt out yourself or learn more about this all electric vehicle on Chevy’s website.

The Subaru BRZ has still got it!

The Subaru BRZ has been around since 2012, so I have driven the car a number of time. Each time, I am still surprised by how much fun the BRZ is to drive. The same goes for the Toyota FRS because it is basic the same car. The vehicle was manufactured as a joint venture between the two companies – taking the best of Subaru and the best of Toyota engineering.

The car hasn’t changed much in terms of performance or overall design, with the exception of the BRZ getting a few small visual enhancements and new color options. I consider this a good thing! I can’t count on my fingers or toes how many times I have seen a manufacture produce a stunning car, but ruin the ascetics because they want to give people something new to buy. A great example: Nissan gave us the Datsun 240Z in 1969, a lightweight sports coupe that handles great. The car instantly became an icon with its timeless design and high revving (Prince) engine. A few years later, Nissan gave us the 260Z and then the 280X. Each generation gained a few pounds and got bigger. Thankfully, Subaru/Toyota has stayed true to the original design… a lightweight sports coupe that handles great. I hope the next generation of the BRZ/FRS adheres to this same philosophy. We need more true sports cars in the world.

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So back to the current generation Subaru BRZ. As I said before not much has change, or has it? They say clothes make the man, so some would argue that paint color makes the car. Maybe not… But I am still in awe by the 2017 BRZ I tested. The special edition Yellow BRZ series makes my toes tingle just by looking at it. I love the color, especially when paired to the black wheels and red brake calibers. It excites you before you even get into the car!

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Once you get inside, the car feels even more special with yellow accents and thick yellow stitching. These two items really dress up the car. Otherwise it is the usual BRZ trim and interior. Although that is not a bad thing, because the BRZ’s interior gives you a true sports car feel – right down to the alcantara sports bucket seats.


My driving impression of the car is still the same… this little Subaru / Toyota love child was made to hit twisty canyon road and the track. From the moment you hit slide the 6-Speed manual transmission into first gear and hit the gas, you feel as if you are driving a race car. It is a special sensation that you don’t get anymore with most street cars.

For more information about the Subaru BRZ, contact your local dealer or click here to visit Subaru’s website.