You’re an hour late to the Christmas get-together, but not because that red velvet blazer you love so much is nowhere to be found. No, instead you’re trapped in a snowdrift in your vintage AMC Gremlin. No fruitcake for you. You could’ve fared better this holiday season with some better wheels. May we suggest some truly treaded steeds for your hapless self?
Fall for all of them
The end of the summer doesn’t mean that the best driving months are behind us. With the arrival of fall comes cooler temperatures, the rainbow of foliage colors and fewer vacationers on the open roads — all reasons to open up the throttle. But all leaf-scatterers are not created equal. Some have drop-tops for feeling the crisp air zip by your ears and others want to blast snaking backroads; still others will get you, your gear and your family to the annual fall camping spot. These ten cars — our favorites for taking fall driving to the next level — can do it all. If you’re lucky enough to drive one, your winter doldrums just got put on hold.
Fueled by Champagne
The application to work at Bentley must go something like this: here’s some wood, some metal and a cow…go make a car. Bentley arguably sets the industry standard for this wild world of luxury vehicles, and it’s mind blowing how much work goes into their hand-crafted, hand-assembled chariots. As the Flying Spur is essentially a stretched Continental GT, it had carried that namesake since its inception — but the 2014 Bentley Flying Spur ($200,000) drops the prefix and gets a boost in power and a fully refreshed exterior that separates it from its two-door brethren.
To drive or ride? That is the question.
If anyone “missed” purchasing a Maybach, then it’s time to rejoice in the heralding of a German luxury sedan that makes no bones about its levels of refinement, complexity and utter technological wizardry — the all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. We got to drive (as well as experience) the limousine-level sedan recently in Toronto.
Super is an understatement
Supercars are easily the Kate Uptons of the automotive world: stunning to behold, unobtainable by the average human and wicked in all the right ways. Even in an age of high fuel costs and environmentalism, they still get our attention. Exotic materials, radical designs, pavement rippling performance lead to stratospheric prices, which ensure that for most men, these cars will remain a fantasy. We got to drive a handful of supercars that made us happy to be alive and gave us good reason to change our underwear.
When perfect is not enough
In 2008 Audi introduced the R8, a mid-engine V8 somewhat inspired by their highly successful R8 Le Mans Prototype race car, and blew the world away, winning both the World Performance Car and World Design Car of year awards. It’s undergone only minor changes — until this year. The 2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus ($171,000) gets one of the best upgrades yet, a smooth-as-glass and lightning fast seven speed dual clutch S Tronic transmission. We drove it.
Though we lament the (hopefully temporary) disappearance of the “Scuderia” name from Ferrari’s newest street-legal sports car, the Ferrari Speciale doesn’t disappoint. In fact, it boasts improved aerodynamics, increased power and decreased weight for blistering acceleration and unparalleled handling. We have all the impressive Italian details in our breakdown.
Sleight of hands
If you’re like us, you have a long list of gear you’d love to own. But reality (almost) always steps in, and your gadget desires remain unfulfilled. Gear Patrol’s series Want This, Get This presents a lust-worthy piece of gear along with a more affordable alternative that scratches the same itch. This week, we’ve found an example of übermodern haute horlogerie and an affordable option that gives a similarly avant-garde look.
Grand Touring Family Style
It’s a well-known fact that the mellifluous sound of a Ferrari V12 is ultimate bellow of the vehicular gods. The now-famous Ferrari V12 first showed up in the 1947 125 S, the Italian automaker’s first roadgoing car. Since then, some form of 12-cylinder Ferrari engine (V12 or Flat-12) has showed up in no fewer than forty cars over the past seventy years. One of Ferrari’s most recent offerings, the Ferrari FF, makes use of the V12 staple, albeit in its most powerful form ever in a roadgoing car — but the FF also makes a noticeable departure from Ferrari Grand Tourers of the past through polarizing style, all-wheel-drive, practical (yes, practical) seating for four and enough cargo room to hit the road for more than a day. We got the behind the wheel with family in tow.
A WEATHER STATION ON YOUR WRIST
A lot of people are calling the Breva Genie 01 ($163,000 in pink gold) a “weather station on your wrist,” and our gut reaction is to look for another (less tedious) name. Trouble is, it fits. Weather is the real function of this timepiece.
The Poster Child For Invincibility
Mercedes-Benz’s longest-running production model, the Gelandewagen (G-Wagen), is a testament to versatility and timeless style. For $135,000 one can not only look ultra tough in this military-inspired ride but drive like it as well. Plus, the humble 382 horsepower, 5.5 liter V8 from the “regular” G-Wagen goes bi-turbo in the AMG and jumps to 536 wild horses. We got behind the wheel deep in the Catskill mountains to give AMG’s beast a good thrashing and see how much it would bite back.
In the current automotive landscape, true environmental halo cars don’t exist. Volkswagen, however, has produced their own version of a hippie halo car. It’s no V12 powerhouse, nor does it even come close to resembling anything supercar-ish in appearance. But what the VW XL1 definitely does is make a bold statement about what an ultra-efficient, super-small displacement hybrid can be. Our recent trip to VW HQ in Wolfsburg, Germany gave us a prime opportunity to evaluate the XL1 from all angles, including the view from behind the wheel.
Newman or Everyman?
Today we’ve got a vintage version of “Want This, Get This”, and its timing couldn’t be better. 2013 is the convergence of two important events in the watch world: it is the 50th anniversary of the Rolex Daytona and also the year in which Tudor makes its American market comeback. One is virtually unattainable to mere mortals and one will give you the same look and Rolex pedigree without having to mortgage your home.
Not exactly roughing it
The vintage polished aluminum of Airstream Trailers is as recognizable as the curvaceous body of a ‘Vette. Nowadays, they transport everyone from happy families to celebrities; Felix Baumgartner even holed up in one before his stratospheric leap. Previously unchanged in its 82-year history, the newly released Airstream Land Yacht ($140,000) brings a new level of sophistication in materials and design to this classic roving hotel room.
A Complicated Beauty
We’ll never own a watch like the A. Lange & Söhne Double Split, the world’s only mechanical split seconds and split minutes chronograph. Not many people will. But just wearing it for a month was a privilege, like taking a lap in a vintage Aston Martin DBR or sipping a dram of 1962 Macallan. To try to distill down its essence to a mere hands-on review seems almost blasphemous. So we won’t. This is a watch to be gazed on and lingered over. Enjoy the photos.
The weapons of a track day toreador
Einstein once said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results was the very definition of insanity; obviously he never studied lap times. In fact, we’ll take the track over studying the theory of relativity any day. But we need the right steed. Whether your wallet can handle them or you’re just dreaming, here are our picks for the five best track cars around.
A performance SUV is something tantamount to a chainsaw with jet propulsion. There’s really no need for it, but to dismiss it is to deny man’s inherent quest for power, in whatever form it may come. Gear Patrol’s wheeled staff had a chance to cruise around in some of the best four-wheeled tarmac eaters that just happen to ride on stilts in celebration of Octane‘s launch. Here’s what they thought.
Some cars take it to 11. This takes it to 13.
Six hundred ninety-one horsepower. All-wheel-drive. A gearbox so mechanically high strung you instinctively quiver before each pull of the shift lever. And of course, the obscene sheet metal geometry. Enormous in every direction and specification, it makes us pause and wonder if this is what pornographic design is. Welcome to the Lamborghini Aventador.
IF YOU LIVE TO BE A HUNDRED
Hope you’ve been taking care of yourself. The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar ($189,000 in rose gold, $213,000 in platinum) won’t need to be corrected until the year 2100 (only one in four century years is a leap year — 2100 is not). That’s 87 years of being entirely correct; not even your better half can beat that. We break it down.
Tops be droppin'
Summer isn’t nearly as enjoyable without top-down driving. As much as we’re fans of hardtop automotive design and the way a sweeping roofline catches the eye, we have to admit that the clear growl of an engine and the wind in your hair makes the warmer months that much better. Even a drive up Pacific Coast Highway in a cream-hued 1995 Chrysler Sebring Convertible can be a pleasure (as long as no one actually sees you). Bully for you, convertibles are better than ever — gone are the fussy tops, the anemic engines, and silhouettes that would make Quasimodo cringe. The crop of current convertibles range from modern nostalgia to supercar power players, but one thing they all do is make your motoring pleasure good for all the world to see.
The Ultimate Dreamliner
Bentley is undoubtedly a mega-luxury brand that backs up ridiculous comfort with serious performance. Take the 2014 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible ($240,000 base), for instance. Though its looks and interior are nearly pornographic in their excesses, it’ll also punch you in the throat and drink your beer without hesitation. After taking it for a drive in non-ideal conditions — and almost wrecking it on the icy streets of Squaw Valley — I got firsthand experience on why the brand is held in such high regard.
One hell of a legacy
The SLS AMG by Mercedes-Benz is truly the 300SL Gullwing reincarnate. Only the resurrected version is so much faster, you’ll wonder what happened to your eyebrows. How do we know? We got behind the wheel and watched it make people’s necks sore.
The claws are out
Car guys dream of acquiring their own personal track monster. Some are bare bones beasts, as comfortable as a ride on the Coney Island Cyclone; others bear witness to modern sport-luxury. The Jaguar XKR-S GT clearly falls into the latter category, and the automotive world is a better place for it. Check out the nifty bits that $174,000 buys the fortunate in our breakdown of this masterful vehicle.
Just introduced at the Geneva Motor Show, the Spyker B6 Venator Concept should prove to be a step in the right direction for the Dutch exotic car maker. With more pronounced design features than the C8 Aileron, the Venator houses a powerful 385+ hp V6 engine that’s positioned behind the cabin for optimal performance and balance. It also may possess the most beautiful interior this side of a Bentley.
The Wraith Wonder of the World
We expect that buyers of the new Rolls-Royce Wraith (~$325,960) will be equal parts man of mystery and crazy affluent. Just unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, the Wraith maintains the brand’s upper-crust heritage while delving into a level of visible aggression that’s new and refreshing.
The King of Beasts
If military-grade Humvees or the “run-of-the-mill” bores you to tears and you simply can’t afford an M1 Abrams tank for your off-pavement adventures, look to Mercedes-Benz and their perfectly over-the-top G63 AMG 6×6. Yes folks, that’s six-wheel-drive, with enough torque to warp the earth’s crust (if that’s your thing). The limited-production beast is the result of a partnership with Austria’s Magna Steyr and is based on the military version of the Mercedes-Benz G320 CDI — and it’s positively bonkers.
True British Muscle
Aston Martin recently decided that being one of the most prestigious and sexiest car makers on the planet wasn’t enough. They needed to be audacious. Their execution of this? Surgically transplanting the 6.0-liter 510 hp V12 from the DBS into their smallest and lightest offering, the Vantage. The Carbon Black edition adds carbon-fiber side strakes, lightweight carbon fiber and Kevlar seats, piano black accents and gloss black painted wheels, which convey the same kind of ballsy aggression as the drivetrain underneath that extruded aluminum body. Read on for a video and photo essay of this Brit stunner.
Nothing gets the 1% excited like the unveiling of a new Bentley (okay, except for really great stock market news). The 2014 Bentley Continental Flying Spur should certainly illict the best kind of kerfuffle amongst the bluebloods and new money, alike.
I believe I can fly
Most drivers with sport-tuned cars like BMW’s Ms and Audi’s S line are relegated to red light straightaways, only partially exploiting the true potential of their steeds. The pathway to higher speeds lies elsewhere. Mercedes recognized this problem and invited us to Rosamond, CA., a quiet farming town with long, unpatrolled stretches of road, to play with all their AMG
toys offerings for 2013 and to use the track at Willow Springs Raceway for their brand new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT ($200,000 Base Coupe).
Rock You Like a Hurricane
There are a slew of complications that are easy to overlook if you’re not in the market for a watch that costs as much as a nice starter home in Phoenix, but some are interesting enough to merit spending a few minutes gawking at. The Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane ($280,000) has not one, but two complications that clear this bar, so lest we leave you unprepared should you hit the Powerball, read on.