The Mercedes C43 AMG is one bold ride!

When Mercedes-Benz puts the AMG badge on a car, you know it means business! Yes, the C43 AMG doesn’t have a legendary bi-turbo V8, but it has AMG power, prestiege, exhilaration for a relatively cheap price.

Traditionally when you see an AMG badge on a Mercedes, you can nearly double the price tag. But that is not the C43 AMG. It is starting price is only $12,000 more than the base C coupe… and it is worth every penny. AMG transformed a boring compact coupe into an addictive sports coupe that begs you to smash the accelerator. The car goes 0-60mph in 4.6 seconds, which doesn’t make it a rocket, but it is plenty fast for around town or on the highway. The addictivness comes is variable sports exhaust, which with the press of a button, makes the car go from quite estate car to super car like sound. In addition to upgraded exhaust with the C43 AMG, you also get a sports tuned suspension, a torque vectoring system, and bigger brakes for added performance.


The vehicle I tested, had a fully optioned interior with alcantra sports seats and real aluminum trim. Thick red contrast stitching on the seats and doors accented the sportiness of the vehicle.

While some may say that the C43 AMG is “just a sports package” or “that it is just for people who want the prestige of an AMG, but can’t afford the real thing,” I strongly disagree. The C43 AMG offers a true AMG experience while also delivering decent fuel economy (27mph Highway). Who doesn’t want better gas mileage from their daily driver?

Visit your local Mercedes dealer for more information or click here to visit the Mercedes-Benz website.

The Jaguar XFS, She Is A Fierce Cat!


My last review on this site was of the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class; a ultra high-tech luxury sedan that semi-autonomously drives itself on the highway. This week’s car is week also a luxury sedan, but with the Jaguar XFS, you will want to do all of the driving yourself! This mid-sized sedan was designed for the driving enthusiast – those who would choose to take the long way home as an excuse to get more time behind the wheel.


The Jaguar XFS keeps the brands heritage of building high performance cars. Yes, the car has a 3.0L Supercharged V6 that rockets it from 0-60 in 5 seconds, and it uses a lightweight aluminum architecture. But… what really makes the car so great is the feeling you get while driving on a curvy road. The driving dynamics are performance bred. You are able to actually “feel” the road (in sport mode) as your tires start to slide while you are breetheing on the throttle in a turn. The level of engagement reminds me of what you would expect from a BMW 5-Series, but with a higher level of refinement. The seats are more plush, the dash is elegantly sophisticated, and materials used are fit for the royal family – yes the Queen of England has been spotted driving herself in a Jaguar XF wagon. 


So what’s not to love??? Finding a legitimate complaint about the Jaguar XFS is like finding a needle in a haystack, but I did find one… the lack of Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Jaguar has their “InControl” smartphone connectivity system, but the intergration is not as good as Apple’s or Google’s. So if you are tech geek, you might want to wait for Jaguar’s next update. Rumor has it, Apple Car Play is coming soon.

Visit you local Jaguar dealer for more information on the XSF or click to visit the Jaguar website.

The Best Or Nothing… The All-New Mercedes E-Class

To say that the all-new Mercedes Benz E-Class is the best E-Class ever made isn’t too far of stretch, because the model gets arguably better with each new generation. But I will go a step further and say that the all-new E-Class is also the best mid-sized luxury sedan on the market – The title was previously held (in my opinion) by the Audi A6.

When you step inside the new E-Class, it is easy to mistake that you are stepping into an S-Class because the interior of the E-Class mirrors the S-Class. It is just as stunning on fully optioned models, just slightly smaller. The first thing you will notice are two gigantic digital screens, one to show the vehicle’s instrument cluster and one to two the infotainment center. The screens at matched with either real wood trim or real aluminum. Then as you slip into the seats you will feel premium leather seats (if optioned) followed by a gentle massage on your back and bottom (after a activating it on the infortainment screen). I have to hand it to Mercedes, they are the only manufacturer with a “real” massage chair built into the seats. I have tried massaging seats from everything from Ford to Rolls-Royce, and Mercedes is the only manufacture where I would pay extra for the seats. 


The in-car technologies are a mirror of the flagship S-Class Mercedes as well. There is radar guided cruise control as well as an active lane-keep assist. These two options make the E-Class Mercedes “close to” a semi-autonomous vehicle. I say “close to” because you are still required to have your hands on the steering wheel, but you just barely need to touch it. During the week I tested it, I had a business trip from Ft Lauderdale to Orlando, FL. After getting on the Turnpike, I let the car drive itself on the 200+ mile journey. The car turned as the road turned, slowed down as the car in front of me braked, and speed up as the speed limit increased. You heard that right, the new Mercedes E-Class can read speed limit signs and dynamically adjust your speed accordingly. The car worked beautifully with one exception…. later that week I was on a two lane country road on my way to a charity event. I had a pickup truck in front of my and a semi-truck behind me. The E-Class was basically driving itself when the pickup truck decided to slow down and turn left into a convenience store. This shouldnt be a problem, but because the Mercedes couldn’t accurately detect the lines in the road, it started following the truck left. I quickly had to grab the wheel, as I was driving in the wrong lane with a school bus headed right for me. To top it off, the semi-truck started to pass me as the car drove it self into the other lane. Luckily I was an alert drive and abruptly slowed to get behind the semi-truck. So while the E-Class’ semi-autonomous driving functionality is great, please remember that they are an aid and not intended to allow the drive to take a backseat. Other than this one time nerve wrecking experience, the system was spot on.


So here is the big question… should you get a fully loaded E-Class for around $75,000 or upgrade to a base S-Class? Outside of size, they are very close products now. The E-Class fully-load is slightly smaller and easier to drive. The S-Class rides better and has a much larger backseat. So my pick is the E-Class for the city and the S-Class for the highway.

Visit your local Mercedes-Benz dealer or click here to go to the Mercedes-Benz website.

An icon reborn: The Lincoln Continental


No other American luxury sedan is as iconic as the Lincoln Continental. The vehicle’s legacy dates back to the late 1930’s. It was the ride of choice for Heads of State. Celebrities would be chauffeured in Continentals for premier parties and oscars. Its success continued on and off until since then, but the last great Continental (in my book) was 1969. President Kennedy was famous for driving around in one.

Fast forward to today… and the Continental is back! It has got classic styling with high-tech packaging. This is first time in a long time that I have been this excited about Lincoln’s flagship sedan. The vehicle has a nostalgic feeling to it, but it can easily compete with the features and comfort of a modern S-Class.


The seats made a lasting impression on me, even after recently having driven a Mercedes S Class. I love the way you can independently contour the top and lower back supports to offer a customized seat shape. You would also independently adjust the seat length and height between the left and right sides. No other car on the market offers this degree of control.


The rest of the interior stood out as well. The combination of blue leather and aluminum trim gave the Lincoln a unique look, one that was special in this segment of vehicles. The infotainment system felt a little generic when compared to other Ford and Lincoln vehicles in the lineup, but it is tried and true.


Backseat passages will enjoy luxury accommodations as well, but no so luxurious as to where you feel like you are driving a limousine.


My final compliment to Lincoln for the recreation of the Continental is in regards to the attention to exterior details. I love chrome trim door handles that blend seemlessly into the the body design. Well done, Lincoln!

Visit your local dealer for more information on the 2017 Lincoln Continental or click here to visit the Lincoln Motor Company website. 

The Lexus RC Turbo a “Little Duece Coupe”

The term “Duece Coupe” originally referenced a 1932 Hot Rod Ford, because of the model year. But I think it is more befitting of Lexus’ newest RC model, the 2.0L RC Turbo, because it has a 2.0L motor, plus I got to test it in the heart of Ford territory, Michigan.

All of the characteristics and styling of the more powerful RC 300/350/F are here, but now the RC features a fuel efficient rear-wheel drive option. At 32 MPG, I was able to drive the car across the entire state of Michigan and back (~350 miles) on a single tank of gas – and it doesn’t have a big tank. While the RC Turbo has half of cylinders and almost half the horsepower (241hp) as the RC F (467hp), it still has pep to its step. Plus since it is performance inspired, you can keep the momentum going as you hug a twisty road – enhanced by the adaptive variable suspension. It brakes well too with 11″ ventilated discs. Another item to note is that 18″ wheels are standard.


Because of the Lexus RC Tubro’s plush interior, it makes a well suited grand tourer. The heated and ventalited seats were perfect for my long trek across the state. I would almost describe them as “unusually comfortable” for its segment because the contour of the seats fit my back well. Being a Lexus, of course they were made from high quality leather. I point this out because most the German competition (excluding Audi) have leatherette seats. 

The infotainment center is easy to use. It is controlled using voice commands or a touch pad on the center armrest. The touch pad isn’t as intuiative as you would think, but once you get use to it, you will love it! Sound wise, beats are pumped out from an optional 17 speaker Mark Levinson sound system. The vehicle I tested this time didn’t have the upgraded sound system, but I heard it play on other RCs before.


Value always come into play when I look at sporty cars, and the RC Turbo is amongst the best! At a starting price of $40k, you will be hard pressed to find a more stylish luxury sports coupe that offers this many standard features. Also it is comforting to know you are driving a machine backed by Toyota (parent company of Lexus) so the car will last FOREVER. 

Visit your local Lexus dealer for more information on the 2017 Lexus RC Turbo or click here to visit the Lexus website.

The Mercedes Benz S-Class is the “King” of hybrid cars

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No other sedan is more iconic for German engineering and luxury than the Mercedes Benz S-Class. It has ruled the road for generations powered by gas and diesel drivetrains. But in more recent years, Mercedes has equipped the S Class as an optional plugin electric gasoline hybrid. And now it gets even better, because the 2017 Mercedes S-Class Sedan is available as what I consider to be an extended range plugin electric gasoline hybrid. That means you drive the S Class fully on electric at 70+ mph for over 20 miles – I got 27 miles on electric while driving on i95 to be exact. Of course driving fully electric on the highway on long commutes is kind of silly, because the engine eventually kicks and has to work overtime in order to recharge the batteries.

The value of making the Mercedes Benz S Class a plugin hybrid is for your short daily commutes. If your daily commute involves driving short distances (12 miles) around town, then theoretically you would never had to turn the gasoline engine on. And because it is a plugin hybrid, you can charge the vehicle at a low cost or for free at hundreds of charging stations. It gives Tesla a run for their money!

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Driving around town in fully electric mode was sublime. The entire S-Class range features an array noise insolation techniques, such as double pain windows, in order to create a nearly silent experience. But the Mercedes Benz S-Class Plugin Hybrid is completely silent in electric mode. This enhances the already posh ambience of sitting in a vehicle where nearly every surface is covered in leather and the seats massage you as you drive. This level of craftsmanship and attention to detail are what has made the S-Class benchmark car.

It is not just all fancy drivetrains and luxury interiors Mercedes Benz S-Class Plugin Hybrid is high-tech. Infotainment wise, you have standard features like a navigation system and satellite radio, but you also have access to internet radio stations. Your beats are pumped through a 24-speaker Burmester surround sound system. Everything is controlled using touch pads and dual 12 inch screens. This includes the vehicle’s semiautonomous features, which will keep the car in-between the lines on the highway and accelerate or decelerate based on traffic conditions.

No other hybrid vehicle offers this level of luxury and prestige, which is why the Mercedes Benz S-Class Plugin Hybrid is “King” of hybrid and electric vehicles. Learn more by visiting your local dealer or by visiting the Mercedes Benz website.

The Rolls Royce Dawn is the “World’s Best Luxury Convertible”

“There is no substitute.” 

“The Best or Nothing.”

“The Pursuit of Perfection”

All three of these automotive tag lines describe the Rolls Royce Dawn even though they belong to other manufacturers (Porsche, Mercedes, and Lexus respectively). After spending a week with the Dawn, I understand why people enthusiastically spend over $400,000 on an ultra-luxury car. It’s not just for the prestiege of owning a car from the iconic brand who once held the speed records for land, air, sea. Discerning millionaires and billionaires drive (or better yet, are chauffeured in) Rolls Royce Motors Cars because of the unparallel experience.


Quality

Nothing comes close to the level of detail Rolls Royce has placed into the Dawn. This is because over 90% of Rolls Royce vehicles are bespoke works of art. Every detail, from the type of exotic materials used to the embroidery of family crests, are handcrafted. The particular car I tested feature a sporty design with bulls leather read and black seats, and piano black wood trim. I was told that on average, craftsmen spend 80 hours just on the interior of each car – that is someone spending 8 hours a day for two weeks!!!

Comfort

Roll Royce calls their patented suspension system, “Magic Carpet Ride” for a reason. Driving a Rolls Royce feels like you are floating on a cloud. The vehicle glides over bumps like nothing was there in the first place. 

While all Rolls Royce vehicles have amazing rear passenger compartments, the Dawn was built for the owner to drive it. I put approximately 350 miles on the car and every minute was a surreal experience. 

Cruising down the boulevard or along a coast road with a cool breeze flowing through your hair is what the Dawn was designed for, but it quickly adapts to any situation.


Even when sitting for hours in rush hour traffic, it is a pleasure to drive the Dawn. You feel relaxed because you are sitting in an extremely comfortable and roomy seat, plus you are enjoying studio quality tunes from you favorite brands via the satellite radio. When the noise from the other vehicle start to bother you, simply push a button and the top closes in a matter of seconds, delivering a nearly silent experience.

The noise isolation on the Dawn is an impressive feat, because at full speed on the highway, you barely hear anything from the outside. Convertibles on the highway are typically a noisy affair when compared to hardtops – even modern convertibles. Rolls Royce Dawn breaks the mold, with the top up, it is quieter than most fixed roof vehicles.

Luxury

There isn’t a car manufacture that represents “true luxury” more than Rolls Royce. The Dawn I tested featured a multitude of unnecessary, but nice to have features – all of which enhance the experience of driving the “World’s Best Luxury Convertible.”

Example 1: Motorized doors. A distinguished gentleman (or lady) should never have to close his own door when entering a vehicle. So, Rolls Royce added a mechanism to close the front doors with a button.


Example 2: A Beautiful Mascot. Every proper motor car deserves mascot. Jaguar has a cat, Mercedes has a Star, and Rolls Royce has “The Spirit of Esctasy.” Unique to Rolls Royce though, their hood ornament mechanically pops in and out of the front fascia. It pops up automatically when you unlock the car. And when you lock the car, it automatically hides into a spot right above the grill. You can bespoke your car with the Spirit of Esctasy made using an assortment of materials, including crystal. If you want to highlight its beauty at night, and optional LED spotlight is available.


Example 3: Performance. Gas mileage is terrible on the Rolls Royce Dawn – I got less than 300 miles on a single tank of gas – this is thanks to a thirsty 6.6L V12 motor. What is more luxurious than having a V12 engine that can rocket your 5,776 pound car from zero-to-sixty faster than a Porsche 911? 4.3 seconds to be exact. 

Before I conclude this review of the Dawn. I want to give a shoutout to the Dawn’s discontinued bigger brother, the Phantom Drophead Coupe. It is the only convertible “nicer” than the Dawn. The Phantom Drophead Coupe took the passenger experience to another level. It was larger and featured a more refined backseat with options such as a champagne cooler. While the Dawn is all about the driver, the Phantom was about cruising in style while your man servant drives you into town. So if I had to choose between the two vehicles, I would take the Dawn… Which is why I say the the 2017 Rolls Royce Dawn is the “World’s Best Luxury Convertible” that money can buy.

Visit your local Rolls Royce dealer or go to www.Rolls-RoyceMotorCars.com to learn more.

The Cadillac Escalade Is Ready For Anything

It’s big, bold, and beautiful. After spending a week with the Cadillac Escalade, I can understand why it is the vehicle of choice for celebrities to be driven around in and soccer moms to drive. With a length of 203 inches (224 inches on the ESV model) few SUV’s come close in sheer size and none have the prestige of Cadillac brand. 

There is no doubt that this vehcile can be intimidating to drive, but after a few days behind the wheel, it quickly grew on me. Having such a large vehcile means that you as the driver have room to stretch out. Instead of sitting in a coach airline seat while you drive, you are sitting in the first class cabin.


The driver and front passenger get to enjoy unusually larger seats along with a gigantic center armrest – no more numbing elbows. The surfaces are covered in luxury materials such as soft leather, open pore wood, alcantara and brushed aluminum. Turning the steering wheel while driving around town is effortless, which makes the massaging seats even more enjoyable. Unfortunately finding the button to turn on the massage seats though is a chore. It is located next to the seat controls at the base of the seat with limited settings. What isn’t a chore though is charging your phone… A wireless charging pad (case required for the iPhone) is affixed to the top of the center consol armrest. Simply place your phone on top of it and it magically starts charging.


Another really inovative feature on the Cadillac Escalade is the backup camera system, which is magically projected into the rear view mirror. It creates an intuitive way to see what is behind you. The placement be very useful if you are hauling large objects or have tall people in the back, prohibiting you from seeing the cars behind you. The backup camera works great in both day and night driving conditions. If the light omitted bothers you, with a flip of a switch, you can deactivate it and the rear view mirror goes from high-tech to low-tech.


Second the third row passengers get some goodies to play with too. Three video screens paired with wireless headphones keep everyone entertained. And if surfing the internet is more your thing, the Cadillac Escalade features a 4G LTE hotspot thanks to OnStar. To keep those devices charged, multiple cigarette outlet and household two-prong outlets are scattered throughout the cabin.


All of these features, luxury amenities, and the size, make the 2017 Cadillac Escalade the ultimate people mover. It is ready to tackle anything, from driving executives around town in style to taking five kids and the dog on a family road trip. The best part is, you can pick one up starting at $73,395. Note that the vehcile I tested was fully loaded and price at around $96,000.

The SLC43 AMG is the perfect daily driven roadster!


Daily driver and roadster rarely fits into the same sentence unless you are a complete car enthusiast. That’s because roadsters traditionally trade comfort for the ride of a lifetime. Some classic roadsters such as the Jaguar XK120 roadster didn’t even have rollup windows! And if you think that is unpleasant, the Porsche 550 Spyder didn’t even have a top! Those lavish features were meant for “convertibles.” Modern roadsters have power windows and most have automatic cloth top.

Mercedes-Benz, staying true to the motto “The best or nothing,” has brought comfort back to the roadster – first with the SLK in 1996 and now again, 20 years later, with the SLC.

The car’s best feature is its retractable automatic hardtop. It allows the SLC to transform within seconds from a roadster to a sporty coupe. You literally get the best of both worlds! There is no more saying that roadsters are too noisy on the highway or that they are too hot during the summer (or too cold during the winter for my northern friends). Some might argue that modern rag tops are just as well insulated as hard top convertibles – they might be – but I don’t think so. When I am driving with the top up on a rag top, I am constantly wishing in the back of my mind that the weather was nice enough to put the top down. When I drove the Mercedes SLC43 AMG with the top up, I kept thinking to myself how great the coupe experience is.

Also rag top roadsters such as the Porsche Boxster, Jaguar F-Type, and Audi TT don’t look nearly as good with the top up as the Mercedes SLC43 AMG does. Now there are a couple drawbacks to having a hardtop convertible: 1) It weighs more because of the mechanical mechanisms. 2) You typically have less trunk space. With that being said, this is your daily driver and not a track car, so weight is less of an issue. In terms of trunk space, the SLC43 AMG does have less room than the 718 Porsche Boxster (with its two trunks), but I was able to fit more groceries in my SLC tester car than I was in the Jaguar F-Type convertible I tested last year.

The interior quality has also been kicked up a notch with the SLC43 AMG versus the competition. I instantly fell in love with its saddle brown leather interior with white stitching. As part of the AMG variation, the SLC I tested also had a semi-alcanta flat bottom steering wheel to accentuate the performance aspects of the vehicle. With a 362hp 3.0L V6 biturbo engine and a 9-speed gearbox, the Mercedes-Benz SLC43 AMG is no slouch. It will do zero-to-sixty in less than 5 seconds. The rear-wheel-drive SLC43 AMG also handles surprisingly well thanks to a well tuned AMG Sport suspension. I specific rear-wheel-drive because one of its unnamed German competitors (the Audi TT) has a front-wheel-drive bias for its all-wheel-drive system.

With a performance oriented mindset, luxury accommodations, and the benefit of having both a convertible and coupe, the Mercedes-Benz SLC is my pick for the best daily driven roadster… The top seals the deal!

You can find more information about the Mercedes-Benz SLC43 AMG by visiting your local deal or by clicking here to visit the Mercedes-Benz website.

New Name, Same Great Car! The Genesis G80

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I wrote a First Drive review on the Genesis G80 a few years ago, back when it was called simply the Hyundai Genesis. The vehicle hasn’t changed much outside of the rebadging. It is still the same great car with german like styling, but it is more affordable and has double the warranty. When compared to the competition, for a little over $50,000 you can get a fully loaded G80 with ventilated leather seats and a 311 horsepower 3.8L V6 motor OR a base E-Class with vinyl seats and 240 horsepower 2.0L 4-Cylinder motor.

Obviously a lot of people are driven (punt intended) by the Mercedes badge, which is why the G80 is no longer technically Hyundai product. Genesis has spun off into its own manufacture. If you want to buy the car though, you will still be forced to visit a Hyundai dealer until Genesis starts building their own dealerships. You won’t have to visit the dealership for oil changes though because the marque has created “Genesis Service Valet.” The program offers owners the opportunity to have a service professional pickup your vehicle for service and deliver a loaner vehicle complimentary. You also get free scheduled maintenance for 3 years or 36,000 miles.

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Now on to the good stuff… The interior of the Genesis G80 is suburb. The seats are wrapped in Nappa leather and the dash featured genuine wood trim – Nappa leather is an expensive option on the German competition. The seats are also heated and cool, and the steering wheel is heated. Above the dash you will find a full-color heads up display so you no longer have to look at the speedometer to check your speed. The Genesis G80 is a fairly quite ride on the highway, until you crank up the 17-speaker Lexicon Surround Sound system. While Lexicon doesn’t have the brand name of Burmester or Bang & Olufsen, it does deliver a comparable sound – standard issues on the G80 of course. It seems that Hyundai executives told their engineers to buy a Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5-Series, and an Audi A6, then to make a car that is just as good, but cost less.

I could go on an on about the value Genesis gives you with the G80, but the best way to experience is to visit your local deal or click here to visit Hyundai’s (I mean Genesis’) website.