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.

The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C is one of the best cars I have ever driven.

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The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C is striking… It has got seductive Italian curves and a Ferrari-like exhaust note. I drove the car everyday for a week, and every time I got behind the wheel, I had someone ask me about the car. Six out of the seven days with the car, I had fellow motorist roll down their window and compliment me on the car. Most admirers hadn’t seen the car before, but knew the brand. One admirer thought it was a Ferrari, which isn’t that far off… The Alfa Romeo 4C comes from the Fiat-Chrystler family, which includes Ferrari.

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Alfa Romeo comes from a long tradition of using cutting edge technology to achieve engineering excellence. The 4C is no exception. It’s mid-engine design give it a perfect 50/50 balance. It’s light weight carbon-fiber tub places drivers low to the ground and lowers the vehicle’s center of gravity. Very few vehicles can match the handling of the Porsche Boxster GTS and the new Mazda Miata, but the Alfa Romeo 4C could run circles around them.

The Alfa Romeo 4C comes with robust powertrain, a 237hp twin-turbo 4-cylinder motor paired with a super responsive dual-clutch transmission. But the real kicker is that this little monster weighs less than 2,500 pounds. All this combined, gives the 4C a 0 to 60 time of 4.1 seconds. Wow! Fun Fact: The US version is nearly 350 pounds heavier than its European counterpart, due to US safety regulations. In terms of a stock sports car, this is probably one of the safest cars you can buy. The carbon fiber tub acts like a 360-degree shield to protect occupants, and the vehicle offers a concealed roll bar (just in case you flip it over).

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When the first reviews of the Alfa Romeo 4C came out, many journalists criticized the 4C’s interior or lack there of. I don’t know which trim level they were driving, but the vehicle I tested was nice really. The center console was made of hard plastic, but the other premium materials more than made up for it: a smooth leather dash, microfiber seat inserts, and beautiful red stitching on the seats, doors and dash. The exposed carbon fiber tub reminds drivers that you are behind the wheel of a car that is engineered for performance. Fair warning: the seats are super thin and a little uncomfortable. The car also doesn’t have power steering. But that is a good thing, because it keeps the weight down.

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With its heritage, radical design, and mid-engine layout, most passer-by-ers would think you are driving a $200,000 super car – it even has a engine preview window like on the Ferrari 458 Italia and on most Lamborghini’s – but the 4C isn’t a $200,000 car, its not even a $100,000 car! The Alfa Romeo 4C starts at $53,000. You get the thrill and attention of a Ferrari for a 1/5 of the price. Finally an Italian exotic that doesn’t break the bank!

I love everything about this car. The way it looks, the way it sounds, and most importantly, the way it drives. It drives like a proper sports car should. It is low to the ground, rough riding and you can feel every bump. The Alfa Romeo 4C is one of the best cars I have ever driven.

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For more information on the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C, visit your local dealer or click here to visit the Alfa Romeo website.

Soak up the sun in the Audi S5 Cabriolet.

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The 2015 Audi S5 Cabriolet is the ideal convertible: it is super fun to drive, sexy, sophisticated, sumptuous, and sporty.

The S5 is an A5 on steroids. It comes equipped with a 333 horsepower super-charged V6 engine, a 7-speed dual clutch transmission, and a sports-tuned suspension. The extra 113 horsepower and quicker shifting gearbox make a huge difference. The optional sports differential greatly improves its agility… This car was built for increased performance.

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The rear of the 2015 Audi S5 Cabriolet is seductive; with a quad-exhaust system that unleashes a powerful roar when you press the gas pedal. The S5’s beautiful exhaust note enhances the driving experience and breathes new life into the meaning “fun in the sun.” I could drive around all day with the top down listening to it.

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Behind the wheel of the 2015 Audi S5 Cabriolet, you are surround by an ultra-sporty and lavish interior. The seats, doors, and steering wheel are wrapped in red and black Napa leather; complete with red stitching on the seats, doors, steering wheel, and gears shifter. The aluminum & black wood inlays on the vehicle I tested created a really unique appearance (see the photos above).

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Just incase you get too much sun, the 2015 Audi S5 Cabriolet provides a really enjoyable experience with the top up. It is very quiet for a traditional soft-top convertible and it looks good too! The Audi A5 and S5 are one of the few convertibles (in my opinion) that look just as good with the top up as they do with the top down. The canvas top fits seamlessly and flows beautifully to the trunk of the car. Speaking of trunks; the Audi S5 Cabriolet offers plenty of trunk space both with the top up and down.

audi-logo Visit your local Audi dealer for more information on the 2015 Audi S5 Cabriolet or click here to visit Audi’s website.

Luxury meets sport with the Infiniti Q60S Limited 6MT

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Outside of a couple Porsches, the Corvette and a handful of BMWs, it is rare to find a true luxury car with a sports tuned suspension, performance exhaust and a manual transmission. Most manufactures have opted to replace the manual gearbox for a dual-clutch transmission. Sure, a dual-clutch transmission shifts faster than a manual, but it takes away half of the fun! I love the feeling of shifting from 1st to 2nd while accelerating from a stop. And the art of downshifting and rev matching moments before you head into a turn is exhilarating. The Infiniti Q60S Limited 6MT has all of this more. 

The coupe is powered by 3.7L V6 engine that produces 330 horsepower and 270 pounds of torque. The engine’s modern design features 24 valves and dual overhead cams. My favorite part is the 6-speed manual transmission with short-throw shifter. It is easy to use and gives you a sense of power while changing gears. I was surprised to find that the transmission doesn’t offer rev-matching… It is a recent technology, but its sibling, the Nissan 370z has offered it for several years. The Infiniti Q60S Limited 6MT also comes with a viscous limited-slip differential to help maintain superior launch control.

The 2014 Infiniti Q60 is the embodiment of "Inspired Performance," offering an unmatched combination of dynamic design, exhilarating performance and a modern, luxuriously crafted interior.

The Infiniti Q60S Limited 6MT offers luxury in all the right places. The seats are comfortable on long drives, the Bose Sound System is superb, and the red-stitched sport seats are sexy! The powered steering wheel and dash cluster are unique to Infiniti: When you move the steering column up, the instrument cluster on the dash moves with it.

If you want a true sports car, but desire comfort and luxury, the Infiniti Q60S Limited 6MT is a smart choice. The standard manual transmission and sports turned suspension positions it along side Porsche and BMW in the luxury sports car category.

The Subaru BRZ offers a true sports car experience.

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Any car go fast in a straight line – All you need to do is add a turbo charger or put in a big V8 – The true test of a sports car is how it well handles.

Finding a place to test how well a car handles in South Florida can be challenging… But luckily I found a 1.3 mile stretch of road with 6 tight corners, no intersections, almost no traffic, and you can see the entire stretch of road from a distance. The 2014 Subaru BRZ proved to be one of the best handling cars I have driven. It has extremely little body roll and it grips the road really well. You don’t need to go fast in order to have fun in this car. 

The BRZ is powered by a 200hp 4-cylinder boxer engine. The flat engine design gives the car a lower center of gravity, which improves handling. Some may argue that 200hp is low for a sports car now days, I disagree. This car has ample power for its segment and it is light weight. If you need more… The 2014 Subaru BRZ is an aftermarket modder’s dream come true! The engine is easy to work on and there are a number of aftermarket parts websites for this car.

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From its low-profile design to its competition seats, the Subaru BRZ is built for sport. It evokes the race car driver in you. I love the blue trimmed microfiber competition seats. They keep you from sliding while cornering and they look great! You will also find a two-tone steering wheel, aluminum brake pedals, and jet fighter style toggle switches. The car rides like a true sports car, you feel every bumping the road through both the steering wheel and your seat. This in combination with road noise, make you think you are going a lot faster than you are. I would often times find myself going 40mph, thinking I was going 60+ mph. This is plus, because you don’t need to go fast to feel like you are.

Starting at $25,000, the 2014 Subaru BRZ is really affordable. This gives Subaru two really unique market segments: customers who want a great handling sports car at an affordable price and customers who want a dedicated race car… Me being the later.

Meet one of the fastest cars on the road… The 2015 Nissan GTR.

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The 2015 Nissan GTR is an impressive piece of machinery. With a zero to sixty track time of just under 3 seconds, it is one of the fastest cars I have ever driven. It ranks amongst the Porsche 911 Turbo 4S and the McLaren MP4-12C in terms of performance – but in traditional Japanese style – it costs half the price of its german and english competition.

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Under the hood is a modern 3.8L twin-turbo V6 engine that produces 545 horsepower. The motor is hand built and each one features the name plate of who built it. Its massive strength gives you an exhilarating rush every time you step on the gas pedal, leaving you almost speechless. The dual-clutch 6-speed automatic transmission helps the cause by offering shifts as quick as 0.15 seconds.

The 2015 Nissan GTR uses an advanced all-wheel-drive system that can deliver 100% of the power to rear wheels. When going around a corner, the system can instantly deliver of 50% of the power to the front wheels… It is the best of both worlds – rear drive on the straightaways and all-wheel-drive for tight cornering.

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As your head is pressed firmly in to the seat back, you will begin to appreciate the quality of the hand stitched leather and supportive contour of the seats. The seats offer great bolster support and are pretty comfortable.

The 2015 Nissan GTR is designed to be driven hard, but its 2+2 configuration can just as easily serve as your everyday driver. Leg room is very limited in back, but rear passengers will enjoy a single cup holder.

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Every ounce of this car screams “GO FASTER!” The button pattern on the steering wheel reminds me of something you would find in an Formula 1 car, and the use of carbon fiber throughout the car is a reminder of the manufactures intent… to build a street legal track car.

Switches above the gear shifter allow drivers to custom tailor their driving experience. You can control how aggressively the transmission shifts, how much power is delivered to the rear wheels, how firm you want the suspension, and limit the car’s computer controlled electronic stability programs.

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In addition to using the infotainment center for navigation and audio controls, it can transform into a sophisticated track computer – displaying lap times, g-forces, turbo psi, and power distribution amongst the four wheels. It also displays an assortment of temperature gauges and pressure gauges using the custom view window.

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The 2015 Nissan GTR’s massive exhaust pipes and large rear spoiler will make the teenager down the street drool with envy – but it is not your typical $100,000 super car. It is not flashy and it doesn’t carry a “luxury” brand name like the Audi R8 or BMW i8… It is also a LOT faster! Motor Trend raced the $101,000 Nissan GTR against the $233,000 Ferrari 458 Italia, and the GTR won in a 1/4 of a mile.

This car was built for the humble automotive enthusiast who cares about performance over status. Plus you can get an oil change at any Nissan dealer.