It used to be a well-known truth: getting an SUV that conquered the rough-and-tumble of off-roading and had good driving dynamics on the road was a holy grail, like marrying a woman with the physique of Lolo Jones and the brains of Marie Curie. Nowadays, that vehicular combination is no longer as elusive as you think. What you get in both the 2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport and the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk are excellent on-road manners and the kind of off-road chops that will have herds of mountain goats bowing in respect. You just have to decide how much you plan on doling out.
Big tires, big ambitions
Glory days on the road
If you’re fortunate enough to possess a Mustang Fastback — one of the grandaddies of the American muscle car — you know the respect and admiration it garners from car lovers to kids. It’s Americana on four wheels. That sort of red, white and blue clout requires a driver to pull off an homage to American style without resorting to a pair of Ol’ Glory lined cutoff jeans. Here, we line up the right kit (light on the actual stars and stripes pattern) you need to get it right.
One 577-hp wagon. One dry lake bed.
The 2014 MB E 63 AMG S 4Matic Wagon has more horsepower than a Ferrari 458 and gets to 60 a full second before a Porsche 911. And it has room for your family, their luggage and the family dog. We turned off traction control and let it loose on a dry lake bed.
The unkindest cut
After the journey from single man to husband and father, choosing a new car involves more than just driving passions. Life has become more pragmatic. How does one choose?
Utter Beauty and Supreme Brawn
The four fat rubber circles that attach both you and the Huracán to the road were chosen to be worked very, very hard. So were the 601 horses that shriek from its 5.2-liter V10 power plant. There’s an extra incentive behind each of these Italian supercar’s facets: it’s not enough for this car to move like Usain Bolt or look like Elisabetta Canalis. The Huracán is Sant’Agata’s replacement for the monumentally successful Gallardo (huge shoes to fill) and frankly, it makes its predecessor seem rough and antiquated — even a bit homely. The mechanical shaming of the Gallarod tells you just about everything you need to know about the Huracán. It’s next-generation Lamborghini.
Five reasons to start a family
There’s no question about a minivan’s utility. But until someone comes up with one that doesn’t at least partially emasculate red-blooded men, we choose to drive these other vehicles — ones that offer up utility, a semblance of driving pleasure and better aesthetics than a toaster oven.
BMW's best driver's car
As good as BMWs typically are, they’ve lost some of their deft and agile performance in recent years. The 135i and the 1 M, released in 2008 and 2011, respectively, certainly did their share to make amends for past wrongs. But the new M235i does more than just try to make peace with the former BMW faithful. It’s a whole new step in the right direction.
First, third or last: Italy always wins
The Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello, a 3.25 mile serpent of asphalt nestled within the Tuscan Appenine Mountains just north of Florence, plays host every year to the Gran Premio d’Italia MotoGP race — the home race for Ducati Corse. With only one world championship to its name (2007) and zero dry-weather victories during the 2013 season, the Ducati Team had the eyes of a nation following its every move this past weekend at the fastest track on the calendar.
If the Cloud rode a motorcycle, this would be it
After testing out Zero’s do-anything DS last year we were sold on electric motorcycles. We wanted more, and we got it with a chance to cruise around on their torquey 54 horsepower sport bike, the 2014 Zero S.
It's a Type III for the Type B
The Karmann Ghia Type 34 is a rare car that oozes cool from its tall front windshield, simple greenhouse, gorgeous flat body and a wraparound crease that stretches all the way from the curved nose to the tail. This also places a burden on its driver, who needs to look like a distinguished gentleman to match his distinguished car. We’ve gathered the right kit for your outings in this crisp German coupe.
Squid Vest not included
The office dress code can be a challenge for a motorcycle enthusiast; riding the elevator in an unzipped kangaroo skin onesie doesn’t score too many points with the boss. Thankfully, there’s some excellent motorcycle gear out there that provides the protection you need without sacrificing any of your executive flair.
Pikes Peak, Monster, Panigale, Streetfighter and Diavel
With free reign on development (and deeper pockets) thanks to new ownership, Ducati’s built a lineup that’s billed as faster, sexier and more nimble than anything they’ve produced before. After spending a day piloting five models (Multistrada Pikes Peak, Monster, Panigale, Streetfighter and Diavel) through the Catskill Mountains, it became clear that this may be their finest vintage yet, at least for the majority of their models.
To drive or ogle? That is the question.
The beauty of classic automotive design is often in direct struggle with modern safety and fuel economy standards, not to mention the latest in technology. But there are still a number of shining examples around today, ones that echo the past and ones that break new ground but don’t break the rules of good taste. These ten prove that less is more and that automotive design is not on the rocks.
It's the little things that count
A car is certainly more than the sum of its parts, but sometimes it’s the little details that make an otherwise good car iconic. These details can be subtle as the Mona Lisa’s smile or bold as the LED spire on the new Freedom Tower, or, more often, somewhere in between. We’ve assembled a list of some of the best automotive features — both innovative and artistic, groundbreaking and evolutionary — to ever see the light of day.
Get just the right amount of attention
The Triumph TR6 is the affordable substitute for more rarified fare like the Austin Healey MkIII or the Jaguar XKE, and it’s no paltry replacement, with sophistication and masculine bravado to spare. Plus, its lighter price tag means you’ll have plenty of dough left over for a full kit of driving gear. Here’s what we recommend for comfort, style, and a touch of brashness — you’ve got to keep up with the pace the Triumph’s setting, after all.
When more is way too much
Nissan’s third generation Murano bowed at the New York Auto Show this spring. The reason you didn’t see it in our Ten Best list from the show is because I hate it the way my architect wife hates attached garages and vinyl siding. Car design is trending toward overbearing, thanks in no small part to the tastes of drivers. But there’s still hope out there.
The drive is the destination
Long holiday weekends aren’t just for sleeping in and backyard barbeques. Hop in the car, embrace the fresh air and hug the asphalt like you don’t have a care in the world. There are a ton of great roads out there, twisty, straight and some off the beaten path. We’ve listed some of the best (and some less-traveled) for your vacation enjoyment and paired them with the ideal vehicle to maximize the experience.
Classic cars, Champagne and yachts
The Historic Grand Prix is one of the most important historic track events of the year, and it’s easy to see why: throughout the weekend, classic cars of all sorts drive the circuit in downtown Monaco, drivers mingle in their race suits, mechanics tinker, car nuts scoop their tongues off the ground and tall women glide by in cocktail dresses and heels.
Beach trips can be as much about getting there as what you do when you arrive. Mom’s minivan might be practical, but it might also eviscerate every ounce of road style you’ve ever had. If you’re at the beach on a regular basis (or you just dream of being there 24/7) it might make sense to upgrade your beach ride to one of these sandy shore, white wave seekers.
Vanquishing miles of road and years of your salary
Aston Martin has been putting cars on the racetrack, in movies and on teenage boys’ walls for more than 100 years; no wonder even people who don’t care about cars can recognize them in an instant. The 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante ($296,000) is just another prince in their royal lineage.
Stylish at any speed
The Corsa was a sophisticated and sporty coupe that looks even better today, with far more panache points than its ordinary Corsa brother. The Corsa was a gentleman’s car, for sure, but it was plenty sporty, too; the potent flat six engine, crisp sheet metal and luxurious interior meant that not just anyone would look right in the driver’s seat. You’ll need to look the part — neat and clean, 1960s business style — while you cruise around in yours, and we’ve got the perfect kit.
Polishing the star
Vintage has gained traction in recent years, arguably as a reaction to our digital, disposable age. This rediscovered appreciation for beautiful, meaningful objects from our past is exactly why the Mercedes-Benz Classics Center in Irvine, CA exists…that, and to bring back to life those cars which cause us to lust from the deepest parts of our soft, chewy automotive centers.
Get the gear, don't attempt the accent
If you’re in the market for a vintage roadster that adds a new dimension of style and sophistication to your life, and you’re willing to throw reliability and modern amenities into the dumpster, then an Austin-Healey MkIII is an excellent choice. Since a good example of the MkIII is relatively affordable, you’ll be able to add the right gear and adorn yourself in the right garb to match your new British steed’s level of panache.
Naked and famous
From every angle, for over twenty years, the Ducati Monster’s unmistakably Italian design has simultaneously oozed sex and personified power. This is raw, naked aggression, a motorcycle that defines its very genre and epitomizes an iconic brand.
Fast, understated, and utterly desirable
Most of us with high-octane petrol in our veins can’t own a super car and won’t own a minivan. Chevrolet still cares about us. How do we know? The Chevy SS, one of the best modern sleepers in the business.
Vintage and Swedish and Very, Very Fast
What’s more surprising than a sedate-looking vintage Volvo wagon that has enough power to bury supercars? In search of the ultimate sleeper, we came across what would normally be a cute vintage 1967 Volvo Amazon Combi wagon that’s instead been slammed, juiced up and fitted without some of the most mind blowing guts a family hauler has ever seen.
Not your neighbor's crossover
Perhaps the most enjoyable car to drive in 2014 is one you wouldn’t even stop to admire in a parking lot. The 2014 Audi SQ5 ($59,400) doesn’t have ostentatious styling; its idling engine wouldn’t wake a sleeping babe; it can seat a family of four comfortably with room for luggage. Yet it’s an absolute powerhouse.
A Reverence for the Overlooked Classics and what they Inspire
Vintage is in something fierce. You can blame the cliche and assign Mad Men all you want. But vintage is deeper than that. A stretch of tough times and the “planned obsolescence” of today has refocused our attention to history even more than ever. New doesn’t always equate to better and some things really don’t work like they used to. The Collector, a new Octane series in partnership with the classic car experts at Petrolicious, acknowledges the automotive gems of yesteryear that have gone overlooked for one reason or another. As a series, the selections we’ll share stand as both a group of savvy buys we’d base our personal car collection around and as a source of inspiration for life in the wake of ownership.
Head to Petrolicious to read The Collector: Part Three, Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale then peruse the kit it inspired.
Don't Judge a Beast by its Cover
It would be a dream come true to own a flaming red Ferrari, but sometimes it’s best not draw attention (jealousy, ire, the eyes of law enforcement) to your vehicle. Those who want the power and speed without the notoriety can look to “sleepers”, cars almost intentionally built to escape notice while still secretly packing heaping loads of power and punch — and chips on their shoulders.