The Jaguar F-Type SVR is a Porsche killer

Jaguar F-Type SVR Coupe

I am start this review of a Jaguar sports car in an unusual way…  by admitting that I am a Porsche enthusiast. When Jaguar created the first generation F-type cars, their mission was to create a 911 killer. Jaguar came close with a striking design and the best sounding exhaust note you will find on a stock production car, but it wasn’t a 911 killer or a Boxster/Cayman killer even. The regular F-Type is a car you take out for a relaxed Sunday drive along the country side or on a road trip while looking bad to the bone while driving it. It is stylish, sophisticated, and comfortable. Porsche sports cars on the other hand are all about performance, especially the S models.

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But now there is a new Jaguar F-Type available, one that truly is able to slay the German Beast, and it is is called the SVR. This limited production vehicle created by Jaguar’s “Special Vehicle OpeRations” department is capable of 200MPH. With a 0 to 60 time of 3.5 seconds versus 3.8 seconds on the 911 4S PDK, the Jaguar F-Type SVR truly is a 911 killer on paper. These numbers are all thanks to Jaguar’s ability to increase the horsepower to 575, increase the torque to 516, add all-wheel-drive for improved traction, and reduce the car’s weight by using lighter materials. It also comes equipped with carbon ceramic brakes, so you can stop almost as fast as you can accelerate.

Note: Carbon ceramic brakes are constructed using different compounds versus traditional steal brakes. These advanced materials decrease stopping distance and reduce heat build up, which prevents brake fade.

Jaguar F-Type SVR Brakes

While lots of horsepower and quick acceleration times are a science, how a car makes you feel is an art form. This is another win for the Jaguar F-Type SVR. It is one of the most enjoyable cars I have ever driven – and I drive a new car every week. The way the car hugs corners and then accelerates out of a turn with a snarling exhaust note roaring out of the back is exhilarating! Then as you stomp one the brake pedal, you come to an immediate halt while experiencing a symphony of high performance internal combustion in the form of crackles and pops. The car gives you the sensation you are driving faster than you are because it engages all of your senses. And to make you feel confident behind the wheel, Jaguar has added torque vectoring by braking into the drivetrain. Even when the rear wheels brake loose around a turn, you feel as if you are in control of the entire process.

Note: Torque vectoring adds to the turning forces of the car by applying the brakes or power to select wheels, thus increasing the speed of which you can safely go around a corner.

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The final piece of the puzzle if comfort and luxury. What is the point of driving a sports car if your body aches every time you get out of the car? Things like adjustable suspension and adjustable exhaust give the driver the option of peacefully cruise around town or hitting every apex on a curvy road as hard as possible. In addition, the seats were well engineered for both support while driving fast and comfort for long hauls. I took a day trip around Lake Okeechobee with no back issues whatsoever.

Notes: The use of adjustable suspension on street cars allows you to transform the ride from soft for a comfortable ride and tight for improved handling. The use of adjustable exhaust allows you to close the baffles in the exhaust system for a quite experience or open the baffles for increase horsepower along with a loud exhaust note.

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True luxury comes into play as soon as your open the door of the Jaguar F-Type SVR. The red leather doors and seats of my test car were jaw dropping with diamond quilted stitching. Black leather on the dash and ceiling accented the red leather seats to give it a sporting feeling. Carbon fiber trim throughout the vehicle and an alcantar wrapped steering wheel further enhanced the effect.

So the question is, if I had $130,000 – $150,000 to spend on a sports car, would I buy the F-Type SVR or a Porsche 911?

The Jaguar F-Type SVR all the way! It is faster, more comfortable, and better looking.

Visit your local dealer to learn more about the Jaguar F-Type SVR or click here to visit Jaguar’s website.

The Nissan 370Z Holds True To Its Roots

The Datsun (Nissan) 240Z is often times regarded as one of the best Japanese sports cars ever produced. Many call it “the best” not just because it was able to dominant the race track against Corvettes and Porsches, but because it was able to bring an overhead cam engine, disc brakes and independent suspension at an affordable price + it is really fun to drive!

You could buy a Datsun 240Z for around $3,500 in 1970, and that is exactly what my Father did. He purchased the first Datsun 240Z in St Louis, Missouri as his daily driver. After getting the bug to race a couple years later, he then turned it into the 1972 SCCA Mid-America Regional Championship Car. Shortly after the championship win, the car sat retired in my Father’s garage in St Louis for over 40 years.

Earlier this year the Folks over at Nissan North America helped me get the car running and transporting it to my Dad’s home in Naples, Florida. So when Nissan sent me the 370Z Convertible to test for a week, I raced (figuratively) across Alligator Alley for a photo shoot.


The “Z” has changed a lot in the past 40 years! It has gotten more expensive with a starting price of $29,000. but the 370Z is a lot quicker thanks to a 332HP V6 and a six-speed manual gearbox. For reference, the original only had 151HP and a four-speed manual gearbox – my Father’s engine was highly modified and featured a five-speed manual gearbox from Datsun Racing in Japan. Another neat feature of the 370Z’s six-speed manual gearbox is that it offers rev-matching standard, which means you no longer have to master heel-to-toe footwork when downshifting. Nissan offers one of the most (if not the most) affordable vehicle with rev-matching. Behind the wheel of both vehicles, you start to feel as if you are one with the car as you tackle each turn on a curvy road. It may take a minute to find it, but once you do, it becomes easy to feel the transfer of weight between all four tires as you decelerate and accelerate out of sharp turn. Like the original, the 370Z offers true sports car experience for an affordable price when you compare it to the Corvette Stingray or Porsche 718 Boxster/Cayman.

The “Z” has gotten a lot more comfortable too! The new one rides better, is better insulated, and quieter. The interior has also been very nicely upgraded: The leather appointed seats offer both heating and ventilation options, while also delivering nice bolster support. The instrument cluster ingeniously rises up and down with the steering position, so you always have a perfect view of the tachometer. And speaking of gages, the instrument cluster pays homage to the original 240Z with its use of three round dials on the center of the dash. The analog gages are paired with an LED display on the instrument cluster, and LED clock on the center of the dash, and a touch-screen infotainment center on the dash.

The only thing that drives me crazy about this pairing, is that the car’s LED clock and the infotainment center clock are not synced. Which means that owners will have to set both clocks each time day light savings times comes and goes.

While the new 370Z and the old 240Z are uniquely original, they both offer timelessly classic good looks and the spirit of driving a fun sports, without breaking the bank. Visit your local Nissan dealer or click here to learn more about the Nissan 370Z.

The 2016 Camaro RS Converted Me…


Outside of a brief period in the late 80’s and early 90’s, the Ford Mustang was my vehicle of choice in the “Pony Wars.” The Mustang had great styling and a strong culture behind the name. In the previous couple generations, the Camaro one upped the Mustang with independent suspension, but with premium leather and soft touch materials, the Mustang’s interior was far superior than the Camaro.

All of that has changed with the 2016 Camaro. Chevrolet stepped up there game with a modern interior fit for a premium sports car. The Camaro RS with a few small upgrades offers beautifully wrapped leather seats, also with a leather arm rest, gear shifter, and steering wheel. Chrome accents are masterfully placed to infused to give the interior a sporty and modern look. The large touchscreen display is at finger tips reach for audio, navigation, and other infotainment controls. I love the new climate controls; simply turn the center air vents up or down adjust the temperature.

Now take that premium interior and pair it with a V6 and you have the perfect sports coupe for daily driving. I say perfect because it gets great gas mile and has plenty of power to have fun with, 335 horse power to be exact. If you want even more fun, opt for the sport exhaust, which enhances the exhaust note. It makes the V6 sound better and louder than the V8, plus it offers a slight increase in horsepower… Who doesn’t love a good roar? The vehicle I tested was the 8-speed automatic varient, which Chevrolet claims shifts faster than a manual transmission and just as fast as a dual-clutch transmission. The vehicle is able to roll through the gears almost instantly in fully automatic mode, but I noticed a tiny lag when using the paddle shifters to control the gearbox.


Not seen, but easy to feel are the structural and suspension improvements to the 2016 Camaro. The new vehicle is 390 pounds lighter and the body 28% more ridged than the previous generation; this means improved handling and car control…. Finally a Camaro worthy of competing in an Autocross course.

In summary, the new Camaro has won over fanboys, at least this one! Find out more by visiting your local dealer or by clicking here to visit the Chevrolet website.

The Lexus RC 350 F-Sport Is One Sexy Beast!

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The Lexus RC 350 F-Sport reminds me of Marilyn Monroe – both have dynamite curves! The RC starts with a smooth wide stance towards the nose, then eloquently wraps backwards to create the cabin. Its fastback design leaves an edge in the rear, which gives you the perception that the vehicle is moving even when it is standing still.

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It is just as deadly as it is beautiful. Under the hood of the Lexus RC 350 F-Sport is 306 horsepower 3.5L V6 motor. Despite having a zero to sixty time of only 5.6 seconds, it is rated for 28 mpg on the highway. This makes the Lexus RC 350 F-Sport well balanced for both enjoyment and the commute to the office. The RC 350 F-Sport is available with both rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive options. The rear-wheel-drive option produces a quicker zero to sixty time, while the all-wheel-drive option offers improved handling and better traction on slippery surfaces (such as the rain).

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The cabin of the RC 350 F-Sport is sporty, but refined. The seats offer greater bolster support than the average Lexus, while maintaining comfortability. The interior uses Lexus’ updated design language. Every control is placed within an arms length, with most items able to be controlled using an intuitive touch pad on the center console. The RC 350 F-Sport offers plenty of headroom for the driver and front passenger, making this a great option for someone who is tall. Backseat passengers on the other hand will be a little squished.

All around, the Lexus RC 350 F-Sport is a great sports coupe and a worthy competitor to the BMW 4-Series.

I got an opportunity to drive the RC 350 F-Sport and RCF in the fall of 2014 at Monticello Motor Club in New York. Click here to read about it and my first impressions of the cars.

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. The horizontally opposed boxer engines produces 200 horsepower and 151 pounds of torque from a 2.0L package.

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

 

The sixth generation Mustang is the best Mustang yet!

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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.

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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!

 

It’s good to be bad! A week with the Jaguar F-Type S


Everyone loves a bad boy… Girls want to be with him and guys want to be him. Why? Because bad boys are sexy. The 2016 Jaguar F-Type S is a bad boy, which through the transitive property of “you are what you drive,” this humble Midwestern is a bad boy too…. Well at least for a week.

The Jaguar F-Type S cuts through air like a shark cuts through the ocean. Its lines are an infusion of aerodynamics and beauty. They are aggressive and sleek, but not intimidating. Its authentic air vents, pop up spoiler, and powerful brakes show that the F-Type isn’t just a pretty face.

While the Porsche 911 compromises luxury for performance, the Jaguar F-Type S blends the two together beautifully. The airplane and racing inspired cabin on the F-Type S takes the term luxury sports car to a new level. It is exceptionally beautiful with ultra-soft leather on nearly every surface. The model I was driving included the optional performance seats, which are racing inspired.


Contrast orange stitching on the seats, doors, and dash enhance the sporty appearance.

You feel powerful behind the wheel! That is thanks to a 3.0L supercharged V6 with 380 horsepower and a throaty exhaust. With zero to sixty times of 5.3 with a manual transmission and 4.8 with an automatic transmission, the Jaguar F-Type S isn’t the fastest car in its segment, but it feels faster than the rest of the segment. It is exhilarating to punch it from a stoplight and hear massive roar come from the F-Type’s dual exhaust.

The 2016 Jaguar F-Type S was built to make you feel alive… As you cruise along A1A, you feel the wind blow through your hair as you are wrapped in premium leathers. You pull up to your date’s house and she hears the rumble from the exhaust. You then get on highway 95 with a spirited force, adrenaline is pumping through your veins you are grinning from ear to ear. As you drive to the restaurant, patrons jaws begin to drop. The car is beaming with sex appeal. Then when it is time to call it a night, you take the scenic route home so you can spend a few extra moments with the F-Type…. Whats the rush? Bad boys always get the girl!

The Mercedes-Benz SL400 is the new kid on the block!

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The Mecedes-Benz SL400 has big shoes to fill in the United States. It is the new budget friendly SL for our market. While Europe has enjoyed fuel efficient 6-cylinder SL Class roadsters for over a decade, this is the first year, since 2001, that the US market will receive a V6 option. We have had the luxury of touring around with Mecedes’ powerful V8 and V12 engines, producing up to 621 horsepower.

With a smaller engine comes decreased performance, but I will pleasantly surprised by the 2015 Mercedes-Benz SL400. The 3.0L bi-turbo engine produces 329 horsepower and 354 pounds of torque, which means plenty of power for everyday driving. And if the new SL400 is your everyday driver, you will be please to find out that the roadster gets 20 mpg in the city and 27 mph on the highway.

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As with the rest of the SL-Class line up, the Mercedes-Benz SL400 is beautifully crafted grand tourer, designed to trill as you drive along the coast in luxury. The of the SL400 interior is sporty and refined. The seats, doors and dash are blanketed in premium leathers and trimmed with real wood and aluminum. Napa Leather is available as an option. Sporty physical gages are paired with a small display on the instrument cluster. Aluminum brake and gas pedals amplify the performance feeling you get when you are behind the wheel.

It is not a race car feeling, it is a feeling of confidence and comfort. This is the car you want to drive every day or take on a cross country road trip. With the top down you feel like a kid again, and with the top up you can enjoy a peaceful ride.

Because the Mercedes SL400 is a hardtop convertible, you get the benefits of driving a convertible without the disadvantages of owning one. Traditional soft top convertibles are noisy on the highway, the SL400 is as quite. You also don’t have to worry about a thief using a knife to cut open the top and brake into your car.

The Mercedes-Benz SL400 comes very well equipped: Real leather seats (an option on most Mercedes’ now days), wood trim interior, a high-end sound system, backup camera, dual-zone climate control, and a navigation system are all standard. Available options include massaging seats (which don’t work as well as the ones on the S-Class Coupe and Sedan), lane keep assist (which will autocorrect your steering wheel if you veer out of your lane), ventilated seats, and laser guide cruise control.

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My father owns the previous generation SL, the Mercedes-Benz SL550. It was interesting to compare the two vehicles side-by-side. The SL550 was Mecedes’ entry level SL in 2007. It came with a powerful 5.5L V8 that produced 382 horsepower. It also came standard with ABC Sport and a suspension system that allowed you to raise and lower the height of the car – both are expensive options on the new SL Class vehicles. The new one is definitely has a sportier look and much more sophisticated technology.

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While some skeptics might scoff at the Mercedes-Benz SL400 because it has a smaller engine than it’s big brothers, I like it. The smaller engine increases fuel economy, which is important for trips and daily use, plus it comes at a lower price point (starting at $85,000 versus $108,000).

Click here or visit your local Mercedes-Benz deal for more information on the 2015 Mercedes-Benz SL400.

The Range Rover SVR is the super car of SUVs.

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Few vehicles can hold the title of super car; an ultra high performance car that is exclusive and often times barely street legal. If there was such a title, The Land Rover Range Rover SVR would deserve the title of “Super SUV.” The Range Rover SVR’s impressive performance stems from its massive 5.0L supercharged V8 engine that produces 550 horsepower and 502 ib-ft of torque. From there, the performance enhancements extend to the wheels with 20″ Brembo brakes and 21″ alloy wheels. It also features a super quick 8-speed automatic transmission, that shifts almost as fast as a dual-clutch transmission. Now can you guess the top speed of this “Super SUV?” Try 162 mph!

The Land Rover Range Rover SVR even sounds like a super car! The engine roars when you step on the gas pedal. The exhaust note reminds me of the Jaguar F-Type, which in my opinion sounds better than a Ferrari 488 GTB.

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Of course, a Land Rover wouldn’t be a Land Rover without its off-road prowess. The Range Rover SVR is fully equipped to take on extreme off-road conditions: Mud, Rocky Terrain, Ice, and Water. The vehicle offers two locking differentials, a low and high gear box, as well as, independent suspension for all four wheels and adjustable ride height. It is one of the most capable SUV’s on the market – arguably second to only the full size Range Rover.

Rarely, can a tall, off-road equipped vehicle out perform the average sports car.

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The inside of the Range Rover SVR is even more special looking than the outside… Your eyes are immediately drawn to competition seats. While traditional seatbelt are still in place, the competition seats (both front and rear) off slots for a racing harness. While they are not functional, that look awesome! The rest of cabin is lined with carbon fiber trim. It adds to performance appearing of this one of a kind “Super SUV.”

The usual luxury features are available with Range Rover SVR: A full leather dash and doors, a large touch screen infotainment display, a panoramic sunroof, and a mini-fridge underneath the center console armrest. The only thing missing was the ventilated seats – sadly those are not available with competition seats.

All in all, the Range Rover SVR is a truly amazing vehicle. It has got style, off-road capability, and performance. It certainly gives the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and the Mercedes G63 AMG a run for the hills.

Contact your local Land Rover dealer for more information on the 2015 Range Rover SVR or click here to visit the Land Rover website.

 

 

The BMW M3 is a powerhouse!

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The 2015 BMW M3 is a compact luxury on steroids; every thing gets enhanced over the 3-Series: A more powerful engine with nearly 250 more horsepower, bigger brakes, stiffer suspension, and a louder exhaust.

One thing you will also notice right away, is that the new BMW M3 is a sedan. Traditionally (prior to 2014) the M3 was a four passenger coupe. In 2014 BMW transitioned its model system: Odd numbers are sedans / wagons and even numbers are coupes / convertibles (both two-doors and four-doors). Adding M performance to the new 3-series sedan was a really smart decision. It offers buyers who want a true sports car, but need a backseat and four doors. The only other four door sports car that comes to mind is the Porsche Panamera, but its longer wheelbase and weight means that it wouldn’t be as agile as the M3 on the racetrack.

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Under the hood of the 2015 BMW M3 is twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six that makes 425 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. It is also an update over the previous generation. Prior M3s offered a 4.0L V8 that produced 414 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. This new six-cylinder may be smaller, but it is a lot faster! 2015 BMW M3 goes 0 to 60 in just 3.9 seconds. That is faster than the current Audi R8, Porsche 911 and Alfa Romeo 4C. But lets not forget, this is a four-passenger with four doors.

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The 2015 BMW M3 I tested had all of the performance bells and whistles, including BMW’s M Carbon-Ceramic Brakes. The package improves brake performance under high temperatures and reduces the overall vehicle weight by 42 pounds; it’s exactly what you need for the racetrack. The M3 with the M Carbon-Ceramic Brakes package delivers incredible stopping power when it is dry – it is the quickest stopping vehicle I have ever driven – but be really careful in the rain. On the fifth day of testing the M3, a nice rain shower came through town and I quickly realized that stopping performance went from amazing to poor. It wasn’t the tires, the rain had cooled the rotors and pads, which reduced the effectiveness of the brakes. It also caused them to squeal often… but as soon as the rain passed, the brakes went back to normal and delivered impressive performance.

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“Life is too short to drive boring cars.” I don’t remember who said it, but they were right. The joy of driving the 2015 BMW M3 is enhanced if you get the 6-speed manual – In my opinion, it is one of the best modern day manual transmissions you can buy. The gearbox shifts easily and the clutch is stiff enough so you easily know when it catches, but not so stiff that it wears your foot out. The best part of BMW’s new manual transmission is active rev-matching. No more heal-to-toe downshifting! As soon as you place the car into gear, the RPMs will rise to the appropriate speed. So all you have to do is let the clutch out.

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It was really hard to say good bye to the 2015 BMW M3. It was fun to drive, super quick, very nimble, and it comfortably fit myself and three friends… It is the perfect four-door sports car.

BMW_logoFor more information on the 2015 BMW M3, contact your local dealer or click here to visit BMW’s website.