No longer the red-headed stepchildren of the car world, hybrids are quickly improving in both design and efficiency. Now, with the introduction of the remarkable Volkswagen XL1 ($TBA), the world’s first hyper-efficient supercar has arrived. The culmination of eleven years of research and development, the XL1 combines elite materials with environmental consciousness to buck precedent and set the bar for the next generation of vehicles. With a carbon fiber reinforced plastic monocoque, a slippery body and pre-eminent hybrid power, the XL1 is the world’s ultimate eco-conscious car.
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.
When it comes to flying, passengers seem to enjoy reflecting on the so-called “golden age of aviation” which, as far as we can tell, just means any time before present day. On any cross-country flight you’ll hear fliers reminisce on days of lax security standards as they’re digitally cavity searched or on the lost glamour of air travel as they’re entombed between the impressive combined girth of 17A and 17C. And it’s true. Flying today sucks. Even first class today sucks. Where’s the $1,000 value in a couple extra inches of legroom and three ounces of booze? Jet Blue tends to agree. The New York-based carrier just introduced an impressive new trans-continental service featuring their totally revamped take on first class: Mint.
The next generation
You expect sports cars to be fast but lacking in capacity and oftentimes creature comforts. You expect SUVs to be capable on rough terrain but lacking in performance, comfort and style. There are very few vehicles out there that can change your expectations about a specific type of car, and that’s why the all new Land Rover Range Rover is so special ($83,545). Land Rover’s flagship raises the bar on what a luxury SUV can and should possess — eye-catching design, impressive off-road prowess, a luxurious and refined environment, and uncompromised on-road performance — without losing the iconic Range Rover silhouette and brand identity.
Midsized, but far from the middle of the pack
The war of midsize family sedans is a brutal one, with combatants from the likes of Honda, Toyota, Ford, Nissan and GM upping their game year after year. The 2014 Mazda6 ($20,990) has made mincemeat of the competition through its combination of head-turning looks, a capacious cabin and the best driving dynamics in the challenging segment. The 184 horsepower direct-inject 16-valve 2.5-liter SkyActiv gasoline engine is peppy, backed by the best steering and handling in the segment. It’s an excellent family car that’s worthy in every respect.
The lion's call
The brand new Jaguar F-Type ($69,000) isn’t the second coming of the legendary E-Type — but it is Jaguar’s first true sports car in 40 years. The F-Type takes the form of a compact powerhouse that isn’t afraid to bear its high-performance teeth. The two available 3.0-liter V6 engines in the base F-Type and the F-Type S boast a healthy 340 and 380 horsepower, respectively, while the top-end V8 delivers a raucous 495 horses to place it in supercar territory for power and performance. The sporty but luxurious cockpit is gleefully driver centric; driving this posh and powerful roadster is pure bliss. The F-type is the sophisticated sports car the world has been waiting for.
Don't call it a golf cart
The Rhino 700 Special Edition Tactical Black ($13,000) is pretty much what it sounds like: serious business. As the baddest two-passenger ATV on the planet, the Rhino 700 is not only incredibly rugged and versatile but is built with a surprising level of technological features. Beefy matte black frame, long travel suspension, push-button 2WD/4WD and a comfy cabin make for a potent off-road warrior. The Rhino name is apropos, and you’ll certainly want to ride one just about everywhere it can go — and that’s just about everywhere.
An American Thoroughbred
The pickup truck is an American icon, its ruggedness and no-nonsense utility having long ago made it the workhorse of the blue-blooded. But the new Chevy Silverado ($23,590) introduces a new generation of big pickups that boast great design, posh interiors and improved drivability and toughness. Three great engines are available, including a robust 4.3-liter V6 that’s both economical and capable. Step inside the Silverado’s upgraded cabin and you’ll wonder if you’re in a well-appointed sedan. The new Silverado is also a pleasure to drive thanks to a stronger structure, better ride comfort and improved handling; it’s as impressive on road as it is off. This truck is a shining example of what America does best.
More beautiful beasts of burden
Baseball, apple pie and trucks: all iconic, savory slices of Americana. The urban cowboy may have given the pickup a bad rap, but don’t let that sour the segment. These ain’t your granddad’s haulers. No sir, the trucks of today have taken fuel efficiency to an all-time high in the segment, for starters, and have added touches of interior and exterior class that leave little to be desired, even when compared against luxury makers.
Yes, the beloved truck has changed, but it remains grounded in its roots as a tree-stump-puller. Indeed, the core functionality of the pickup truck has remained nearly unchanged through the years — that is, it still has the ability to blast copious amounts of diesel exhaust over smug, hybrid drivers. We found time to drive and rate the five best full-sized models on the market. Which one you choose is between you and your payload.
Pavement pansies need not apply
The guys at Overland Journal know how to adventure, and adventure well. Their magazines can be found both on coffee tables and in some of the most rugged vehicles around. Case in point, on our shoot last week of Sportsmobile we found a few editions in the back seat — for inspiration no doubt. So it comes as no surprise that they’d be the perfect match to outfit a 2013 Land Rover LR4 ($50,000) for adventure and comfort.
Time travel on two wheels
Motorcycling is all about speed, freedom and personal style. Look at a bearded and tattoo festooned Harley-Davidson Electra Glide rider, and he’s clearly making a statement that’s half showman, half American pride, all tough guy. There’s no subtlety there, unless there’s a frightened chihuahua in one of his saddle bags. And then there’s the café racer rider. His is a statement about retro-style and a unique simplicity you don’t often see anymore. He’s just the kind of guy who’d fancy the new Royal Enfield Continental GT, a motorcycle that does more than just move two wheels: it brings back a style from yesteryear while showing what a modern café racer is capable of.
When Godzilla gets Juke'd
Have you ever seen “that couple” — the short, rotund Geek Squad individual and the Olympic beach volleyball player walking hand in hand? A similarly weird aura surrounds the incredibly unnecessary yet blissfully real 545 horsepower Nissan Juke-R ($665,000). We got some seat time in this, one of the rarest production automobiles in the world.
Silicon Valley does motorcycles
With the recent proliferation of electrified transportation, it seems things are swinging solidly from Who Killed the Electric Car? to “Who Maimed the Gas Engine?”. Motorcycles are no exception. One of the best e-bike makers out there, Zero, let us test their Zero DS ($14,000) for a few weeks in L.A. to see if a silent motorcycle is a groundbreaking way to ride or a tad emasculating.
Explaining Turbocharging and Supercharging
Air. Fuel. Spark. Take one away from your car and you’re going nowhere fast. Increase one, air for example, and things get interesting. More air equals more power — the very principle behind forced induction. Two systems, supercharging and turbocharging, make this all happen. Take a deep breath and dive in.
Ze cream of ze crop
There was another huge auto show this year in Frankfurt, Germany. Spread out across a dozen exhibition halls covering a mile of real estate, the 65th IAA show featured wares from virtually every automaker on the planet. It is at Frankfurt, for instance, where you can learn about cutting-edge technology like heated armrests (no, we’re not kidding) and then walk around the corner and sample the same technology in a 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. If the question is asked, “Wasn’t that car shown at Frankfurt?” chances are, at least for now, the answer is “yes”. Ditto on whether said car saw extensive press coverage. With that, here’s a rundown of the best of Frankfurt — not just the big names, but the ones that made us take notice.
It truly is a party
Though the Ford Fiesta (not to be confused with the midget-special Ford Festiva) has been around since 1976, it wasn’t available stateside until 2011. Back then, we enjoyed the original 1.6-liter 120 hp inline four cylinder hatch but longed for more pep. Obviously the engineers behind the Shelby GT500 and the F150 Raptor SVT follow Gear Patrol closely, because they answered our need for more zip with the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST ($22,000).
Think of your family, and yourself
Dodge isn’t the only one that can boast about a Power Wagon — a few of today’s wagons haul as much ass as they do family members. If you’re about hitting the apexes and dragging sports cars after you’ve finished toting the kids to their sports practices, you have several options. Do you spend north of six figures for the big German rocket or significantly less for home-grown wagon speed?
One sultry Swede
Volvo has been eschewing their once-signature boxy designs for over a decade as cars like the swoopy XC60 demonstrate. But at the Frankfurt Auto show this year they proved they’re ready to venture even farther with the Volvo Concept Coupe, a gorgeous, liberal reinterpretation of their venerable P1800. We break it down.
252 made. Get one if you can.
Trace some of the best modern cars back to their origins and you’ll be surprised how much design language and heritage have been passed forward, in some cases for decades. BMW is no exception. The pioneering Z3, the unique Z8, today’s Z4 — the BMW 507 is the granddaddy of them all. It’s only fitting to look back to the origins of the BMW convertible and pay our respects to the iconic 507, a car that nearly bankrupted BMW, but provided an immense wealth of legacy.
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.
A Feeling of Displacement
Recently, we made our way out to Bilster Berg, a new $45 million dollar track and driving resort tucked into the eastern foothills of Germany. A former British ammunition depot, the 2.6-mile track has quickly launched to must-drive status due to a challenging mix of speed and extreme elevation changes. It was a worthy canvas for painting tracks with the 2014 Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG, a 2.0-liter beast.
Four doors. Four stars. Five cars.
Germany, how we love thee — especially when it comes to cars. Fast, tractable and built like bank vaults, all our favorite Deutsch sports sedans feature a lordly level of detail. No surprise, then, that while the Japanese and Americans continue to ramp up in the genre, the Germans’ standing is just about engraved in granite. Helming one of these schöne Autos simply makes you feel like a real driver, and the practicality doesn’t hurt, either. We drove five truly great Teutonic four-doors and came away with lots of grins and plenty of notes.
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.
The most excellent excess
Studies show that many young people just don’t care much about cars or driving these days — they’re more focused on things like smartphones and the latest portable technology. Though the supercar landscape is changing, the basic idea and fulfillment behind this dream car is not. Regardless of changes in the industry or the pressures of fuel economy, the supercar will not only survive, it will continue to thrive.
Bring the 80s back, please
The Ferrari Enzo and F40 need no introduction — they’ve virtually been canonized. There is a Ferrari supercar, however, that travels under the radar compared to its two aforementioned (and more modern) brothers. The Ferrari 288 GTO was built with purpose, created to feed Enzo Ferrari’s unquenchable racing passions in Group B racing, a beautiful, supremely quick beast. It can actually be credited as the father of the modern Ferrari supercar.
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.
Unclean and loving it
When you’re looking to travel from coast to coast, you’ve got several options; planes are the fastest, trains are probably the cheapest, the interstate is a good DIY choice. But for the adventurer, the Trans-America Trail (TAT) is one of the best. The TAT is a westbound dual-sport motorcycle trail across America on unpaved roads. Sam Corerro, original founder of the TAT, spent years passionately pursuing his goal of charting a coast-to-coast, off-pavement motorcycle adventure. After studying reams of maps and personally surveying thousands of miles of unpaved roadway, Corerro finalized this 5,000-mile route across America in 1999. Over a year ago, Land Rover, too, had the idea to travel across the continental United States completely off road, and we recently joined them for a long leg of the trip.
After twelve generations of model updates, the Ford SVT Raptor is arguably the most tenacious version of the Blue oval’s numerous F-150 iterations. Truly testing this machine called for something more than a few days piddling around Los Angeles, so when when we were invited to go attend the one-day Raptor Assault School at Miller Motorsports Park in the wide open Utah countryside we moved quicker than a rattle snake on the floor of a country line dance. What we drove was an out-of-the box, insanely capable machine able to run, jump and crawl over just about anything in its path.