The Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Cabriolet is a status symbol in the truest form, but it also delivers the ultimate luxury convertible experience on four-wheels. Some will argue that Bentley Continental GT V8S and Rolls-Royce Dawn deliver are in a league of their own because of their posh manufacture marques, but I think the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Cabriolet delivers an unprecedented driving experience. Mercedes has created a fusion of modern technology and old-world ultra luxury, combined with true AMG high performance.
The standard drivetrain is a handcrafted AMG 5.5L Bi-Turbo engine paired with a AMG 7-speed automatic transmission and a AMG Performance all-wheel-drive system. This shoots the 4,817 pound car from 0-to-60 in 3.8 seconds. That is faster than a Porsche 911S! Stopping this beautiful machine isn’t a problem, because it comes with 6-piston AMG high-performance brakes. Cornering isn’t this vehicle’s strongest suit (when compared to a traditional sports car), but it feels remarkably nimble when compared to the Rolls-Royce Dawn that I recently tested at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Its agility comes from an adaptive sports suspension system that allows drivers to stiffen or loosing the suspension based upon your driving style – stiff on a curvy road and soft while cruising around town. This is definitely the ultra-luxury car to get if you want to have a little fun with it! If found myself constantly switching back and fourth between comfort and performance modes while testing this car for a week in Ft Lauderdale. I also found myself stomping the gas peddle and enjoying the roar of the exhaust every opportunity I got.
Luxury is synonymous with the S-Class brand, and you can tell that no expense was spared when crafting the S63 AMG Cabriolet. Detailed stitching outlines every piece of nappa leather on the seats, armrests, doors, and dash. Also on the center armrest is the AMG crest, which is subtle reminder that the ultra-luxury vehicle you are driving can beat half the cars on the road in a drag race. Another reminder of this vehicles high-performance prowess is the alcantara and Nappa leather steering wheel, which mimics racing steerings with a flat bottom. Oh by the way… the steering wheel, seats, and armrests are all heated. The two front seats also feature Mercedes’ exclusive “air scarf” heating element. A tiny space heater is positioned above your shoulders to provide a little something extra on those cool days with the top down. So how do you top that? The S63 AMG Cabriolet is available with massaging seats.
My only complaint with the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Cabriolet – and its not even my compliant, it was my 5’4″ girlfriend’s complaint – is the backseats. They are beautifully dressed in perforated Nappa leather with detailed contrast stitching, but the backseats are “unbearable” to sit-in for long periods of time. You would expect an S-Class to have an amazing backseat, but I guess most Cabriolet owners don’t sit in the back.
Now back to the title of this story… “You Have Arrived” with the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Cabriolet. I say this because I am 30 years old and everywhere I went, people treated me different in the S63. I instantly got more respect from other drivers on the road, with many randomly giving me a thumbs up. I also got better service at restaurants. In once instance I immediately got a table even though there was a line for seating because the hostess saw me pull up in the car. At the Ft Lauderdale Boat Show, the parking valet attendant put the car upfront and didn’t charge for parking even though a big sign read $60 for valet parking. All of these things could be a coincidence, but I give the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Cabriolet all the credit. The car you drive makes a statement wherever you go, and this one says that you have finally arrived…
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.
In a mid-size performance sedan world dominated by the Germans with BMW M5, America has risen through the ashes to bring us the Cadillac CTSV. A 640 HP Supercharged V8 monster that moves as loud as it roars.
It is monster that seductively entices the driver to go faster while it intimidated passer buyers. This car was built for the performance enthusiast who can no longer drive a Corvette, because he (or she) needs to start taking the kiddies to school.
But there is no settling here, because the Cadillac CTSV has a 0-60 time of 3.7 seconds which is on par with the Corvette Stinray Z51. It also has the same 6.2L Supercharged engine that goes into the Corvette Stingray Z06.
Unlike the Corvette though, the only transmission option is an 8-speed traditional automatic. It can be manually controlled using the paddle shifters on the steering wheel or set to fully automatic mode. I didn’t get a chance to test this vehicle on the track, but automatic in sport mode was my preferred serting because I noticed a tiny lag when trying to up shift using the paddles.
The Supercharged 6.2L V8 gives it the heart of a Corvette, but the interior gives it the style of a Cadillac.
The interior is race inspired, with a leather and micro-fiber Recaro Racing seats, as well as, a micro-fiber wrapped steering wheel and gear selector. But the interior also boosts a timeless style with its use of chrome and leather on the doors and dash.
The “Cue” infotainment center, like on all Cadillacs, is eloquently controlled using a series of touchpad buttons. The only downside of these button is when you are using a radar detector and the cord brushes up against a touchpad button, the energy running through the cord engages the control. The end result was my radio volume mysteriously turning all the way up as I enjoyed a sweeping turn. Other than that, annoyance, I love this car!
The Cadillac CTSV is the perfect car for those who desire a sports car, but need room for family. It’s closest competitor is the BMW M5, but I would stick with the CTSV unless you want to blend in at the country club.
All of these things can be said about a sports car, but what makes a sports sedan different from a sports car is the fact that four people can actually fit in it. It is just as well suited for a track day as it is picking up your two kids from school.
BMW has dominated the sports sedan segment with the 3-series. But what is lacked in creature comforts it made up for in terms of performance.
Now there is a new Sheriff in town, the Jaguar XE. It is here to steal BMW’s lunch money, and in my opinion, it has. The XE is backed by Jaguars racing pedigree and the ultra-fun to drive F-Type sports car. It is also backed by Jaguar’s XJL ultra-luxury sedan. So the vehicle is able offer the rare combination of true luxury and true performance. You won’t find that at Mercedes (unless you opt for an AMG) or Audi (unless you opt for an S or RS). Both brands trade comfort over performance unless you are willing to spend almost six figures. This combination of luxury and performance for under $50k gives the XE a clearly defined audience: driving enthusiasts who need a luxury car.
Like I mentioned before, the Jaguar XE is available with a 340Hp Supercharged V6, paired with an 8-speed automatic. But it is not just the acceleration times that got my heart racing, it is how well the Jaguar XE sticks to a corner. The vehicle is tight, well balanced, and demonstrates little body roll. Jaguar utilized a lightweight aluminum architecture to keep the center of gravity low and offer drivers a near 50/50 weight distribution… and you can feel it in the car as you hug corners. To hug them even tighter, Jaguar introduced torque vectoring to compact sports sedan segment. The electronically controlled system dynamically controls the brakes on the inside wheels while cornering in order to spin the car faster. The XE is also available with a performance oriented all-wheel-drive system. I say performance because most all-wheel-drive systems, like the one found on entry level Audis, have a front wheel drive bais that delivers the majority of power to the front wheels. The Jaguar takes cue from LeMans race cars and is able to shift the power from 90-10 (front-rear) to 50-50 to 10-90 based upon road conditions and driving patterns.
All of this makes it the perfect car for a driving enthusiast who needs four doors.
Inside the Jaguar XE, you will find a poshly designed interior that came straight from Britain. The attention to detail is superb, right down to the rotary dial used to select the gear. The seats are firm, but comfortable. The star of the interior is a large touch screen display that is paired with a Meridian sound system to deliver high quality beats to your eardrums.
If you are in the market for a sports sedan, you no longer have to choose between performance and luxury… you now have the Jaguar XE, the perfect sports sedan.
Volkswagen’s flagship SUV is unfortunatly often times over looked in the luxury SUV segment. I say this because the streets of Florida are littered with BMW X5s, Mercedes GLEs (formal called the ML class), Audi Q7s, and Porsche Cayennes. But I rarely see a VW Touareg, despite its beautiful styling and plush interior. Dollar for dollar, the Touareg beats all of them.
The Volkswagen Touareg is unique amongst its VW brothers and sisters not only because of its price point (starting at 50k), but because the Touareg is targeted specifically against the luxury segment which includes its two cousins, the Audi Q7 and the Porsche Cayenne. The latter with which is shares its underpinnings with. The executive trim level cuts the margins even closer (starting at around $60k) because of all the standard premium equipment.
With both the exterior and interior, the Volkswagen Touareg Executive says the luxury. The exterior styling is beautiful with 21 wheels, and the interior compliments the exterior by using Vienna leather and wood trim – Although I am not sure if it is really wood. VW wanted to make sure occupants are at the optimal climate, by making the seats both ventalited and heated, and offering tri-zone climate controls standard of the Executive trim level. Additional features include Park Distance Control (Park Pilot), a 360-degree camera for parking, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Lane Change Assist.
Standard on all Touaregs is VW’s “4 Motion” all-wheel-drive system. It works similar to Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system which uses a computer to transfer power between each wheel in order to provide drivers with optimum traction. I drove the Touareg on a combination of dry and wet surfaces and the system worked beautifully. I didn’t get a chance to test the Touareg’s terrain response system, which optimizes the all-wheel-drive system for off-road and snow use, but I heard from other journalists that is works well.
You get all of these features for cost of a barely equipped BMW X5, which makes VW Touareg Executive one hell of a bargain!
The only reason why I can understand someone buying a BMW, Mercedes, or Audi over the Touareg is vanity. Let’s face it, VW is “the people’s car.” It is a little hard to justify $60k for a VW when it is seen as the bargain German car manufacturer, but that can work in your favor. I like how the VW Touareg is luxurious, but understated. If an executive is driving a Mercedes, employees are likely think the executive is getting paid too much and that they are not getting paid enough. But if an executive is driving a VW, employees are likely to think they are on an even playing field… Just don’t give them a ride in it!
We all of the premium amenities, I urge you to give the VW Touareg Executive some love next time you are shopping for a luxury mid-sized SUV. It is true German Engineering without the German Engineering price point.
1. Alfa Romeo Guilia
I saw this car at the Frankfurt Autoshow last year and fell in love with it. Now it is for the US market to compete head to head with BMW’s M series and Mercedes’ AMG series vehicles. If you want a unique high performance sedan, this is your car!
2. Acura NSX
Acura (Honda, everywhere else in the world) has been teasing us with a new NSX for the past five years. Now it is finally here and a production ready prototype is on display at the Miami Auto Show. Get ready to see them on the streets of South Florida, because I know of at least one local dealer who delivered the car to a customer.
3. Genesis G90
4. Audi R8
5. Lexus LC500 Hybrid
When I read the headlines that the Cadillac ATS-V has a 464HP motor under the hood, my mind immediately raced… Does the ATS-V have the same 464HP pushrod V8 from the Cheverolet Corvette? The answer is no, it is even better! The Corvette’s pushrod V8 is archaic when compared to dual overhead cam engines found in the Porsche 911 and the Jaguar F-Type, but the Corvette is faster car around the track. As the saying goes, why fix it if it isn’t broken! Unfortunately (but fortunately), the engineers at GM couldn’t fit the Corvette’s massive 6.2L V8 engine into the Cadillac ATS-V. So they beefed up a modern 3.6L V6 with overhead cams and added dual-turbochargers to bring up the power to an evenly matched 464HP. That is over 40% more horsepower per liter than the Corvette!
Despite the Cadillac ATS-V’s horsepower per liter advantage, the 3.6L engine produces 20 pounds of torque less than the Corvette’s 6.2L motor. This paired with being a heavier car than the Corvette means that the zero-to-sixty times are slowed down to 3.8 seconds (compared to the Corvette’s 3.7 seconds). Maybe slow isn’t the right word because they are both faster in a straight line than the $110,000 Porsche 911 4S, and arguably quicker around a racetrack too. The Cadillac ATS-V starts at $60,696 and the Corvette starts at $55,450.
Both the Cadillac ATS-V and the Corvette come standard with sticky Michellin Pilot Super Sport tires design for performance driving both on and off the track, they both also feature best in class Brembo Brakes (arguably the best high performance brake manufacture for road cars), and they both have a sports tuned suspension with magnetic ride (optional on the Corvette). Options on both vehicles include extended use of carbon fiber and authentic Racaro seats in front. Racaro seats are synonymous with racing because of the way they hug your body while cornering and the back support provided for endurance racing.
So with the performance line drawn so closely, is the Cadillac ATS-V a four passenger Corvette? The awnser is no, because nothing can replace the allure of America’s most iconic sports. But it does offer a new luxurious option for those who want Corvette, but need a four passenger vehicle. It is perfect car for those who want a 189 mph track capable sports car that can take the kids to school.
Click here for more information about the Cadillac ATS-V or visit your local Cadillac dealer.
In racing you want a car that is fast in a straightline and quick around the corners, which means that you need a powerful engine paired with a light weight and well balanced chassis. It was with this inspiration that Alfa engineered the 4C a couple years ago. The mid engine design means that the car is perfectly balaned, and it’s use of a carbon fiber tub increases occupant safety and greatly reduces weight. The US version weighed in at around 2,400 pounds (the Europen version weighed even less) and launched the car from zero to sixty in only 4 seconds. It is and was a true racing driver’s car with limited comfort amenities, but full on performance. The vehcile comes equipped with a turbocharged 4-cylinder and a six speed dual-clutch gearbox, which means that the Alfa Romeo 4C shifts quicker than you can say Alfa. The transmission rivals that of its much bigger cousin, the Ferrari 488 GTB/S.
You can read more about the Alfa Romeo 4C coupe here. Continue reading for details on the 4C Spyder.
The next variant of the Alfa Romeo 4C is here, and it comes as a Spyder. The targa top version of the 4C protects you from the elements using a folding cloth top, and lets the sunshine in with the release of two screws and four levelers. It is a manual collapsible top, so removing it and attaching it can be tricky, but it is easy once you get the hang of it. I even removed it once while stopped at a long stoplight! The ease of removing the top reminds me of the glory days of T-Tops. You can either fold the top up and place it in the seat next to you or their is a spot for it in the trunk. Putting the top on though requires you to get out the car for a few minutes in order to ensure a proper fit – I got caught in a rain storm one afternoon during my week with the car, so I pulled off the road and rushed to put the top on in order to protect the beautiful leather interior. While rushing to put the top on, I forgot to slip part of the cloth into the windshield seem; it protected me and the interior from the rain while stopped, but as soon as I started moving, I was blasted with water. I had to pull over again to remove and re-attach the top for a tight fit.
Driving with the top off and the windows down, it is a what you would expect from a Spyder: The wind blowing through your hair and an enhanced sound of an exotic engine exhaust roaring the in the background. The wind is almost non-existent with the windows up, because the rear window acts as a windscreen. This combination works well on the highway if you are trying to talk on the phone or have a conversation with the passenger next to you.
Driving with the top on is a very similar experience to the coupe version of the Alfa Romeo 4C. I haven’t compared the two side-by-side, but the only drawback that I can think of is a reduced noise insulation… But I don’t mind because I love its Italian exhaust note!
Choosing between the 4C Coupe and 4C Spyder is a difficult decision. The 4C Coupe looks sexier with a rear window peeping into the mid-engine bay, but the Spyder offers an enhance driving experience.
So the choice is yours!
Visit your local Alfa Romeo dealer for more information on the 4C or click here to visit Alfa Romeo’s website.
As an automotive journalist and car enthusiast, I love fast cars, but I love fast cars that pretend to be slow cars even more! There is something special about driving a car that only other automotive enthusiasts will appreciate. Meet the VW Golf R, not to be confused with its slow little brother, the VW Golf GTI. The R takes hot hatchback performance to another level with more starting power, more stopping power, and tighter handling.
Under the hood is a 2.0L turbo charged 4-cylinder motor that produces 292 horse power. The engine is paired with a dual-clutch and an all-wheel-drive system, which rockets this unsuspecting hatchback from zero to sixty in 4.5 seconds. Which this may not be super car times, remember that the starting price of a VW Golf R is only around $36,000.
Visit your local VW dealer or visit click here to visit VW’s website.
Rarely in life will you find a true blend of polar opposites. I say this because the Jaguar XJL is both a high end luxury vehicle designed to offer an elegant ride to the theater by your chauffeur, and a high performance vehicle that is designed to hug a twisted road. I didn’t always think this way…
My initial impression of the long-wheelbase sedan was skewed by previouslt driving the Mecedes S-Class sedan. I was expecting the Jaguar XJL to be a gigantic luxury car with private plane amenities and a smooth ride, but lacking the thrill of a performance vehicle. I was naive in thinking this way, because as soon as I got behind the wheel and drove the car a block, I remembered Jaguar’s racing DNA. The Jaguar XJL is big and luxurious, but it wants run! As soon as you apply an ounce of throttle, the supercharge 5.0L V8 pushed the car from 0 to 60 in less than 5 seconds. Then as you hit a curved onramp, you feel the car gripping the road with little body roll. Don’t misread my thoughts, this is still a big and heavy car at 4,131 pounds, but that is nearly 700 pounds less than the S-Class thanks to Jaguar’s extent isle use of aluminum.
The interior is what you would expect from a $100,000 car built in the UK: Classic British styling paired with ultra-premium materials. Every detail, from the diamond stitched leather seats to massive wood trim was eloquently crafted. Annoying grid lock commutes are a thing of the past now, because the front passengers have heated and ventalated massaging seats. Rear seat passengers will have to slum it without the massaging seats, but they do have extended legroom thanks to the extra long wheel base on the XJL.
I defintily wouldn’t complain about being chauffeured around in the backseat, but I would rather be driving this full-sized luxury sedan with stunning looks and exhilarating performance!
For more information about the Jaguar XJL, contact your local Jaguar dealer or click here to go the website.