The Corporate Executive’s Sports Car: Mercedes AMG GT 63S

There is an unspoken rule in corporate America that the most senior leader within a group always drives. I don’t know where it came from, but it applies to driving to work lunches, sales meetings, and business trips. So what happens when an executive is a performance enthusiast? Him or her is often left with two choices: Get a Porsche Panamera or BMW M5. But now there is a new and more extreme kids on the block, the 4-door Mercedes AMG GT 63S.

Out of the bunch, the Mercedes AMG GT 63S is the only one that feels like a true sports car. For starters, the noise and silhouette of the car look like an elongated 2-door Mercedes AMG GT. And then when you get to the back of the car, you will notice a jaw dropping rear wing. It makes an elegant statement that the car means business without looking like a boy racer in the company parking lot.

The rear end of the Mercedes AMG GT 63S is backed up by a quad-exhaust that produces an earth shattering rumble in full performance sport+ mode. 663 horsepower can then be released from an AMG hand assembled 4.0L bi-turbo engine with zero lag. This, in combination with a 9-speed gearbox, delivers super car 0-to-60mph accelerations times as quick as 3.1 seconds. That is only a couple tenths of a second closer than a Ferrari 488 GTB. And yet, this 4-door executive sedan can comfortably accommodate four adults on a road trip with luggage. Click Here To Continue Reading

Going green with the Land Rover Range Rover Hybrid

Luxury SUV drivers who want supreme off-road capabilities will be pleased to know that they can finally “go green” on their way to the next polo match. That is because the 2020 Range Rover is now offered as a plug-in hybrid. That means you have the option of driving the 2020 Range Rover P400e as you normally would under gasoline power with 25 MPGs, or you can drive it as a fully electric vehicle for up to 25 miles.

If you ask me, the 2020 Range Rover P400e is the best of both worlds, because it has all of the benefits of a luxury gasoline powered SUV combined with the benefits of an electric vehicle. For instance, the average driver commutes less than 20 miles per day. So if you plug the SUV into a wall outlet every night, you would never have to go to the gas station during the week. But for those weekend road trips, you never have to worry about range anxiety because their are over 100,000 gas stations in the United States.

Electric vehicles no doubt save fuel and are better for the environment due to reduced emissions. But, another key selling point is how quite electric vehicles are to operate. You no longer have a fire breathing gas guzzling motor making a bunch of racket. Instead, you drive down the road an absolute bliss. You want peace and quote in a luxury vehicle. So by all standards, the Range Rover P400e Hybrid should be considered Range Rover’s most luxurious vehicle. I am personally a petrol head, but the eerie sound of nothing is quite soothing under electric only drive mode.

The electric drivetrain component of the Range Rover P400e is also a benefit for off-road use because you have instant and linear torque. If you are rock crawling, you want to be able to give over a bolder slowly do you don’t damage the vehicle.

At a starting price of $95,950, the Range Rover P400e does command a $5,000 premium over the base engine model. But you do get more horsepower, more torque, and better fuel economy. Plus like I said previously, the ability to never go to the gas station again for your normal commute is priceless.

2020 Hyundai Sonata: An Everyman’s Sports Coupe Sedan

It seem like every couple years, I ask “Hyundai what were you thinking???” A brilliantly designed SUV or car graces our presence for a shockingly low sticker price. It offers styling from German, American and Korean car designers with all of the latest luxury car bells and whistles.

This time, Hyundai has given us a coupe-like sedan. I hate using that terminology, because a coupe is a two car in my book. But the industry has now identified it as anything with a sloped rear roofline. The thought process for the 2020 Sonata “sensuous sportiness,” and indeed it is. The 8th generation Sonata is lower, longer and wider. Take off the badging, and I could easily fooled into thinking it comes from a German luxury manufacture like Audi. I wouldn’t be too far actually, because Hyundai’s design team in Germany had a hand in eleganty crafting the design language.

The interior is just as elegantly dressed as the exterior. Visually and to the touch, you will notice that the 2020 Sonata is far superior than anything in its segment. Little details on the door handles, windshield wiper stalk, and textured knobs make the vehicle feel special. It is a kind to a luxury car with the use of leather, high quality plastics, and real aluminum trim. You will also notice two large displays to represent the instrument cluster and the infotainment system.

Unfortuantly for some, and fortunatly for others, the 2020 Sonata looks way faster than it is. When approaching the vehicle, you heart starts throbbing in anticipation to carve canyon roads. Luckily the vehile has a great road manners. It feels well planted at highway speeds and steers with relative percision for the segment. In terms of power, the 2020 Hyundai Sonata isn’t a dog, but the standard 191 horsepower engine pair with a traditional 8-speed automatic makes you loose all sense of sport when you put the hammer down. Having a car that looks sporty and gets good gas milage (38 mpg) is the perfect combination for the average driver. But if you are like me, you need a little extra umph for your daily community.

For those willing to wait a year or two, Hyundai will be blessing you with N-Line Sonata. It will have basically the same interior and exterior. However, the driving dynamics totally change. You feel like you are in a sports sedan. Hyundai let me drive a prototype with a 2.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder that pumps out 290 horsepower and 310 pounds of torque. The engine was mated to an 8-speed wet dual-clutch transmission that shifts as fast as you can pull the paddle on the steering wheel. A little wheel spin will come natural to this vehicle. The Sonata N-Line feels quick off the line, and seemingly offers improved handling characteristics. It felt tighter going into corners, but that may be because I was pushing it harder.

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the 2020 Santa’s technology. It has two really cool tecgh features that are shadowed by how great the car is, but are pioneering technology:

First, you can drive the car with your car key. No this isn’t out of some James Bond movie. Using the key you can pull the car forwards or backwards up to 30ft. The feature was designed for individuals who have a narrow garage with filled with “stuff.” But it can also be used when needing to park in tight spaces. Ever park your car in a narrow parking lot, and come back to find that someone parked inches from your door so you can’t get back in? Now you can have the car simply back out of the spot.

Second, do you hate carrying keys? I know I do. We live in the 2020s, where half of the neighborhoods have smart homes that can automatically unlock your front door when you arrive. Why can’t our cars do the same? Hyundai has developed a digital key that uses low power Bluetooth and NFC technology on your smart phone to authenticate your accessibility. The digital key works just like a regular key, but you use your phone. There is a caveat: it only works with Android devices for now. Hyundai is working with Apple to unlock the currently installed hardware in your iPhone to make it possible.

The calendar just rolled over, but the 2020 Hyundai Sonata is posed to be the best non-luxury sedan you can buy this year. I highly recommend one.

What I am driving: Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack

This week I am driving the Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack wide body. What I love about this car is that it means serious business on the racetrack. But it also comfortable enough for long commutes to the office, and large enough to fit kids with car seats. Under the hood is a naturally-aspirated 485 horsepower V8 motor. It is pure muscle car. While it is no Hellcat Red Eye (almost 800hp), it has a similar look and better fuel economy. You can get to the office and back with 25mpg (highway). Standard is four-piston Brembo Brakes, which is awesome. Brembo are often times used on Ferrari and Porsche sports cars, due to their superior design and efficiency.

Remember, just because you are a Dad, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun and drive a cool car. Dodge proves this with the Charger R/T Scat Pack.

2019 Mercedes CLS: It can’t come soon enough!

While visiting Chicago on vacation earlier this month, Mercedes gave me a pre-production version of their upcoming CLS four-door sports coupe to drive around town. The good news is that it is an absolutely stunning example of Mercedes design and a worthy update to the Mercedes CLS nameplate. The bad news is that you likely won’t be able to get one until next year… and I want one in my garage now!

A Design To Excite

For Dad’s (or Mom’s) who need the utility of a four-door vehicle but don’t want to give up the emotion of driving sports coupe, the Mercedes CLS (and this segment) was born for you. Mercedes paratactically invented the “four door sports coupe” segment with CLS back in the early 2000’s. They were amongst the first to offer a luxury four-door sedan with a fastback like roof line and a limited b-pillar. Since then, brands like Audi and BMW have copied the style on their most sportiest family friendly models.

The CLS’ design language is meant to evoke excitement from the minute you look at the car – I even found myself taking a second look at the vehicle every time I parked it. The silhouette with its frameless b-pillar makes you think for a monument that you are driving a traditional two sports coupe. Whether you are going through a mid-life crisis with kids or you just haven’t grown up yet, the style will evoke a sense of pride in ownership that you likely haven’t felt since you were 16 years old.  Click Here To Continue Reading

The BMW 330e makes being green fun again!

Bavarian Motor Works’ sportiest sedan series dates back to 1975, with the BMW 3-series. Back then you were limited to a carbureted inline 4-cylinder motor producing 74 horsepower or an inline 6-cylinder producing 141 horsepower. They were not rocket ships, even for 70’s standards, but fans quickly adored the 3-series’ suburb weight distribution and excellent handling.

Today’s BMW range varies between a 180 horsepower turbocharged inline 4-cylinder (320i) and up to a 425 horsepower inline 6-cylinder (M3). You can’t go wrong across the line up though, because they all have near perfect 50/50 weight distribution for improved handling. This paired with a sporty design will turn a boring commute into an exhilarating adventure; one where you must ace every apex on your way to the office.  Click Here To Continue Reading

The CT6 Hybrid Is The Cadillac Of Cadillacs

The introduction of the CT6 in 2015 marked Cadillac’s return to the full-size luxury segment. Historically driving Cadillac represented that you have “arrived.” I am sure you have heard of the phrase: “This is the Cadillac of [Insert Product Category Here.]” For decades, showing up in a big luxury vehicle was a status symbol, but the brand needed a new image in the mid 2,000s as consumer’s tastes had changed. The transformation resulted in the company focusing on smaller and sportier versions of their sedans, as well as, their growing SUV/CUV lineup. Their top of line luxury vehicles were forgotten.  Click Here To Continue Reading

The BMW M550i Takes The Cake!

I am sure you have heard of the phrase “you can’t have your cake and eat it too.” This proverb has been accurate for most of BMW’s recent history. This is especially true for their current lineup because their vehicles tend to be polar opposites. The latest generation of Bimmers offer either Mercedes level luxury or Porsche level performance. You are either riding in comfort and style in their series models (IE 3-series,5-series,etc) or being bounced around like ping pong ball while you are grinning from ear to ear in their M cars (IE M3,M5,etc). If you haven’t noticed, BMW’s latest trend is to offer “M Sport” packages for their series models; Allowing a 180 horsepower 320i sedan to pose as a 425 horsepower M3. This is like allowing a sheep to dress in wolf’s clothing. The “M Sport” packages in most cases don’t offer any performance benefits while making the vehicle look like an M car. Thus the packages are a waste of money in my opinion.

So now we turn to this week’s vehicle… the BMW M550i. It is not an M5, but it is also not, not an M5. And don’t confuse it as a BMW 5-Series with an M-Sport package. The most accurate statement I can come up with is that the BMW M550i is an M5 with a “touring package.”  Click Here To Continue Reading

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.  Click Here To Continue Reading

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. Click Here To Continue Reading