Vehicles

Odds and Evens Make A Great Whole

Masters of the House: Driving the BMW M3 and M4

The slightly slick track at Wisconsin's Road America has me wondering just how little effort it would take to spin the 425 hp German monster I'm driving. The truth is that the M4 I'm helming isn't working nearly as hard as it can with its 425 hp (and more importantly) its 406 lb-ft of torque and shaved corpulence. 174 pounds. That's the equivalent weight of two average male German Shepherds drooling on your fine leather sport seats and the same amount of poundage the new 2-door M4 has dropped over the M3 Coupe it replaces. But the all-new BMW M3 and M4 are so much more than more power and less fat.

A look at Porsche's journey to Le Mans

Viewfinder: We Are Racers

The biggest story behind this year’s running of Le Mans was no doubt the return of Porsche, who have been absent from the race’s top class for 16 years. The storied automaker teamed up with Michelin to create “We Are Racers”, a series of short films documenting the company’s 2014 journey to Le Mans.

Taking the Long Way 'Round

Photo Essay: Sailing with Team Alvimedica of the Volvo Ocean Race

Unlike the America’s Cup, which is all about speed over a short distance, the Volvo Ocean Race is a challenge of endurance. In this year’s running of the race, starting in October in Alicante, Spain, crews of eight sailors will race around the globe in stages lasting up to four weeks at a time, stopping in various ports such as Capetown, Auckland and Newport along the way. We set sail with Team Alvimedica as they trained out of their home port of Newport, Rhode Island.

The Hillclimb is alive with the sound of motors

The Goodwood Festival of Speed

The Goodwood Festival of Speed is more than just a motoring event. It's the product of one man's passion for all things automotive, fueled by hundreds of thousands of the worshiping faithful. Lord March, as Charles Gordon-Lennox is called, took possession of the 12,000-acre Goodwood Estate in 1993 and almost immediately started the Festival in the name of bringing racing back to its traditional home in West Sussex. He's effectively created a playground for both the annual event's spectators and its drivers.

More Horses, Same Stable

Max Out: Tips for Getting More Horsepower Out of Your Engine

So you've purchased your car of choice and remained within your diminutive budget, only to hope your routes are mostly downhill. You regularly scream, “I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain!” a la Montgomery Scott as you try to merge with freeway traffic but are passed by a Biggest Loser contestant on rollerblades. You're in luck. There are ways to bring your car's horsepower to levels higher than Tom Cruise's vertical leap, and they don't have to cost you a large fraction of your annual salary. Just remember one thing, young man: with great power comes great responsibility satisfaction.

GP x Petrolicious

The Collector Series, Part Eleven: Facel Vega HK500

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 Series, Part Eleven: Facel Vega HK500, then peruse the kit it inspired.

1.16 miles and 300 feet of elevation gain in (less than) one minute

Anatomy of the Goodwood Hillclimb

The annual Festival of Speed in West Sussex, England centers around a storied Hillclimb, which winds 1.16 miles through event founder Lord March's private estate and rises 300 feet. Drivers -- piloting any type of car, new or old, from sports cars to supercars to deft Formula 1 racers to Nascar stock car growlers -- rip through the narrow course in under a minute.

No Compromise, Plenty of Style

Three New-Wave Hybrids That Emphasize Design (and Efficiency)

If you think the only thing about hybrids that's advanced in the past decade or so is technology, think again. No longer the ugly stepchild of the automotive world, many hybrids have also arrived in the department of style and even take the kind of risks manufacturers wouldn't dare impute to their gas-powered children. We've helmed three stylish hybrids that run the range of prices and designs. They're all pleasing to the eye as well as to the environment and give us hope for the future: one without hybrids that look like lozenges on wheels.

Hollywood Time Traveler

Carving the Malibu Mountains in the BMW i8

BMW's i8 looks like it belongs in 2024. That it gets to 60 in 4.2 seconds, sips fuel for 100 mpg, opens up to drivers and passengers with scissor doors and is made almost exclusively of lightweight materials also gives it the strange air of a Hollywood time traveler. But no, this sleek, blue-mustachioed speedster lives right here in the present, having taken form from a concept originally released at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. And what better backdrop to take a drive than the California coastal roads? Slide it into e-mode, listen to a few oddly calming blips and beeps, zip to 75 in silence, then hear as its 1.5 liter turbocharged 3-cylinder adds a well-controlled bluster. For a moment, you'll think you've arrived...in the future.

The Prius and Future King

Where Green is Going: The Future of the Hybrid Vehicle

Today, hybrids have become a very real alternative to conventional gas-powered combustion engine cars. But it's not all flowers, Pikachu, and future decades of booming hybrid sales. The auto industry seems to have a different, more nuanced version of what the future of environmentally minded cars actually looks like. We examine.

Rise of the machines

Positively Charged: 7 Best Electric Motorcycles of 2014

While electric cars have stumbled in the recent past, motorcycles have readily embraced digital propulsion -- even Harley-Davidson has one in the works. With less mass to motivate, shorter runtime requirements and a complete lack of power-robbing creature features, motorcycles are a natural fit for battery-operated powerplants. Here are the seven best electric motorcycles of 2014.

A World Rally Blur

With the 2015 Subaru WRX, A Rally Car Matures

Since it arrived onto North American shores in 2002 the Subaru WRX has been making the case for unadulterated fun, one four-wheel drift at a time. Vehicles and our expectations of them however, have changed a lot over the last 13 model years. No longer content to merely juke and jive with the best of them, we now demand our cars have styling, more toys than an only child and soft-touch everything. To keep these newly refined ralliers content in their cockpits, Subaru sent the WRX to finishing school. And, if you ask us, it graduated -- with honors.

Affordable Ways to Your Fuel-Lovin' Heart

Cheap Thrills: 10 Bargain Driver’s Cars

Your buddy's Rosso Corsa Red Ferrari makes your blood boil with envy. Unfortunately, your better half won't let you mortgage the house so you can buy one yourself. Though they may not have the prancing horse on the grille or elicit gazes from the bold and the beautiful, these 10 affordable driver's cars still delight with great driving dynamics and the kind of motoring spirit that makes you feel like a kid again.

A German grand tourer requires grand style

Kit: Mercedes-Benz 280 SL “Pagoda”

You're the guy who gets respect the subtle way. You don't demand it; you're not the showy type. It's also how you choose your cars, which is why you'll drive the 280 SL "Pagoda". It's elegant and beautiful without barking for attention -- an under-the-radar grand tourer that looks just as good parked at the hunting club as it does at the finest restaurant in town. Our kit for this gentleman's car will keep you stylish, comfortable and classic...just like the vehicle you've chosen for your stable.

Back and better than ever...or is it?

Quick Spin: 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Longer, wider, lighter and with brand new tech, the Mk VII Golf GTI goes head to head...with past versions of itself.

Two if by land, two if by sea

Breakdown: Gibbs Quadski XL

You're the kind of guy who hates two things: wasting time and not getting enough attention. You also have a passion for both watersports and getting hugged from behind by a gleefully screaming passenger. The brand new Gibbs Quadski XL is the morphing amphibious vehicle for you, changing from watercraft to rear-wheel-drive ATV with the push of a button. We break down its features.

Business Class in All Rows

The 2015 Chevy Tahoe Rules the Weekend

In the 2015 Chevy Tahoe everyone is treated with business-class comfort. Is this the perfect weekend car? We find out with some time behind the wheel.

The second time's the charm

Bentley’s New SUV Could Be a Best Seller

It's a fact: Bentley plans to release an SUV in the near future. Here's everything we currently know about the car, its effect on the brand and what it needs to be successful.

Big tires, big ambitions

Want This, Get This: 2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport or 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk

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.

Glory days on the road

Kit: Mustang Fastback

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.

GP Short: Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S 4Matic Wagon

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.

Utter Beauty and Supreme Brawn

Film: Proving the Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 at Ascari

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.

Be the country gentleman

Land Rover Series 1 Kit

Driving the iconic, century-old Land Rover Series 1 warrants a look that is 100 percent country -- so you'd be best suited for some rugged but still classy gear that's ready for the great outdoors. We've put together a kit that will have you looking almost as safari-slick as Robert Redford in Out of Africa. Almost.

Five reasons to start a family

Testing Five Great Alternatives to the Minivan

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

In the BMW M235i, New Hope for BMW Drivers

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

Gran Premio d’Italia

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

Quick Spin: 2014 Zero S Electric Motorcycle

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

Kit: Karmann Ghia Type 34

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

Sartorial Safety: Office-Friendly Motorcycle Gear

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

Quick Spin: Ducati Full Line

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.

Present Perfect: 10 Modern Automotive Designs that Nailed It

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

God is in the Details: A Survey of the Greatest Automotive Features

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

Kit: Triumph TR6

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

The Business of Busyness

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.

Its a Jeep Thing, now you understand

Octane Icon: Willys-Overland Jeep

The Willys-Overland Jeep not only helped win World War II, it wrote the recipe for every Sport Utility vehicle that followed. In this edition of Octane Icon we dig into how that came to be.

The drive is the destination

10 Great Drives: Less Traveled, All-American

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

Photo Essay: 2014 Monaco Grand Prix Historique

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.

Hot rides

Dominate the Dunes: The 7 Best Beach Rides

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

The 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante Balances Beauty and Brawn

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

Kit: Chevy Corvair Corsa

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

The Future of the Past: Visiting the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center

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.