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.
Fall for all of them
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.
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?
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.
Razor Crazy Cart Nowadays, we find it weird if we don’t have at least two dreams each night about riding shotgun in a car while Ken Block hoons around an epic obstacle circuit. We’re probably past prime “learn how to use a car in every way you were originally taught not to” age, but we…
2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-CLass It’s a car! It’s a wagon! No — it’s… it’s… a small crossover. Meet the Mercedes-Benz Subaru, a CUV for the wood veneer set. It’s small, sort of sporty, sort of rugged and it sort of looks like a cross between the current Benz lineup (that face!) and pretty much every vehicle…
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.
5-Doors to your heart
The venerable station is no longer what it was: a dowdy people hauler that oftentimes “sported” less than favorable designs (faux wood paneling, anyone?). And though the American populace now prefers cross-overs, station wagons still survive in the domestic automotive landscape. With lower centers of gravity, sleeker profiles and (typically) better driving dynamics than their SUV counterparts, there’s plenty of reasons to love them. We certainly do.
It’s for all of the aforementioned reasons that wagons sell in much bigger numbers in Europe. With the hope of bringing the States around to how truly great they are, we give you five of the best wagons (and, sadly, some of the only ones left for sale here). Let’s just hope they never completely disappear.
Automotive time travel
The Mille Miglia, or “thousand miles” race, in Brescia, Italy is an automotive mecca of sorts. A direct descendant of the legendary race that occurred from 1927 to 1957, the event now showcases some of the legends of automotive racing. No longer carrying the stigma of a race that killed 56 people over its 30-year span, the current iteration brings the likes of vintage Ferraris, Alfas, BMWs and Aston Martins to the world stage for a few days of glory. We were there to capture it all in an inspiring photo essay.
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.
Gatsby's Great Garage
Jay Gatsby had it all, except perhaps the presence of mind to dial down the drama so he could hold on to the good things, namely cars and bikes that would stand the test of time for unrelenting beauty and elegance. The art deco era, spanning over two decades, influenced design internationally — and vehicles were beneficiaries of this arty approach to industry. So much of what was built in the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s now only exists in the hallowed halls of museums and collectors’ garages as we drool upon this glorious motoring past. Gatsby’s greatness could’ve remained had he chosen to drive one of these beauties into the West Egg sunset, leaving Daisy behind in a cloud of rich exhaust. Fresh for Baz Luhrmann’s full throttle cinematic interpretation of the landmark Fitzgerald novel, we’ve collected 10 of the finest art deco cars and bikes ever built.
Starpower trumps horsepower
Weeding through Hollywood’s entire crop of iconic movie cars in the hopes of arriving at an agreed upon best of list is like trying to choose the sexiest Victoria’s Secret model — it can be grueling work, but the research isn’t exactly painful. Car guys are a picky lot, especially when looking to the silver screen: Some go weak in the knees when they hear an American V8 rumble to life slightly out of frame, while others are gaga for the svelte silhouette of a European exotic on a twisty backdrop. A select few believe the essential chase scene is the deciding factor, while yet another breed is only happy when the director has chosen an “appropriate” vehicle for the character driving, regardless of whether the movie was even watchable.
The GP Team’s collection of petrolheads put all of these variables into play, entered into
deep philosophical debate and eventually agreed to disagree so we could present you with our picks for the best movie cars ever. Gentlemen, start your arguing engines!
The Woodlands Wool Varsity Jacket So you’ve been dating her for a while now and you want to take it to the next level. Take yourself off the market in style: let her wear your modern varsity jacket as a sign of your undying retro romance. Or just wear it yourself because it’s a damn…
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.
Stirs the senses, not the wallet
When we found out the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA ($29,900 Base) wouldn’t be available stateside till September, we were willing to do anything to get our hands on it early; we even pondered selling our souls to the devil. Fortunately, we didn’t have to go quite that far. All we had to do was fly to the South of France for a day and half of driving. Yes, we spent 26 hours in the air to get 13 hours behind the wheel of this sub-$30,000 German ride.
Time to meet the winners
Imagine spending years designing, redesigning, engineering and finally building a car — only to have public opinion weigh in on your baby. No pressure, right? Well, at this year’s New York International Auto Show, plenty of brands did a damn good job. We were tantalized by some of what’s to come: cars that will certainly hit production in some form or another (and thank goodness for that). From track beasts to practical and attractive sedans, we rounded up the cream of the crop, in our humble opinion. Take a look at the 10 best in show.
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.
A bargain German sex symbol
If Ferrari Spiders and Lamborghinis Spyders seem like commonplace cabriolets to you, and “Overkill” also happens to be your middle name, you’ll want to get in touch with the folks at upscale tuner Brabus for their latest birthing from the fifth circle of hell, the 800 Roadster. What started out as an “ordinary” Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG with a 621 hp V12 is surgically enhanced both inside and out, transforming it into the world’s most powerful roadster.
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.
Electric on the water
For most of us the world of powerboats is a bit on the abstract side — we simply imagine loud, fast and ridiculously expensive, but on water instead of pavement. The Cigarette AMG Electric Drive Concept boat is a spectacular example of at least the last two qualities.
Small car. Big engine. The 2014 A45 AMG is a guaranteed recipe for ear-to-ear grins and a way for Mercedes-Benz to prove they still know the magic elixir well. This beast of a hatchback, debuting early next month, gets a whole range of the badass treatment from our favorite German mad scientists (AMG): a new look and a big upgrade under the hood.
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).
E-Class is in session
Opting for the standard 2014 E-Class coupe, sedan, convertible or wagon gets you the new grill, hood and lights (along with a serious list of safety features) for a streamlined Optimus Prime look to the front as well as the put-a-drink-on-it wide and flat backside. But because we all need a little more-cedes in our…
You can just about stop coveting the pricey Mercedes-Benz CLS and start picking the color of your 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA Class sedan. Based on the edgy A-Class hatchback, the CLA sedan is an entry-level Merc that looks far more expensive than it is. Boasting an incredible 0.22 drag coefficient, it’s the most aerodynamic production car…
Give up in doors, gain in image
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan is sharp, but it just might be upstaged by the sportier-looking 2014 E-Class coupe. A huge grille and massive air intakes on the fascia set this two-door apart from its big brother. The coupe also retains a previous E-Class design — large haunches over the rear wheels — which is…
The German sedan wars wage on
To the average man on the street, the difference between the 2013 Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the The 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class will likely go largely unnoticed — but well-informed GP readers will have the leg up. Much found in the Sindelfingen, Germany-built sedan and wagon is new, and all the internal and external changes debut at…