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.
Affordable Ways to Your Fuel-Lovin' Heart
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.
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.
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.
Don't store it in the garage when the temps drop
In the snowy streets of Chicago, the Porsche Panamera 4S — 420 horsepower V6, all-wheel-drive, stability and traction control, front-to-weight distribution and all — proves a surprisingly spectacular winter car.
From Good to Great
Some car models start out great but then topple from grace — the Nissan Maxima comes to mind (as much as we try to push it out). Then there are those automobiles that have only gotten better with time, tweaks, and tender loving care. Some have evolved gracefully, while others desperately needed a hefty dose of attention. Here are five models basking in the glow of recent changes that have brought them into their primes.
Today in Gear we examine Sony’s take on virtual reality, Porsche’s new Cayman and Boxster GTS, Ghurka’s Norwalk collection and more.
Porsche comes back home
Audi has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans 12 out of the last 14 years, a feat that cannot be understated. But there’s another brand whose record at the race is yet unmatched: Porsche, which has 16 wins total. But those wins came during a different era. This year, Porsche re-enters the Le Mans fray with a brand new car that will compete in the LMP1-H (Le Mans Prototype 1 – Hybrid) category, the spectacular 919 Hybrid car, just unveiled in Geneva.
A trip to (what we thought was) the ragged edge of control
Most drivers, including Porsche owners, spend little time at the ragged fringe of control. Daydreams of record-time morning commutes are one thing, but precise, high-speed driving is rarified air for most. Porsche has a solution: driving school. At Porsche Sport Driving School you won’t come away with points off your license or a lower insurance rate. Instead, you get a crash-course in precise driving at high speeds.
Racing Prodigy, Porsche test driver
Most sixteen-year-olds spend their time learning how to parallel park and struggling with acne. Just after his sweet sixteen, Patrick Long moved to Europe to work on racing strategy and focus on becoming one of America’s best drivers. It worked. He’s since become the youngest American to take class victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans — all while performing as Porsche’s go-to driver for testing new cars. We grabbed a few minutes with the Southern Californian — now 32 years old — between his surf sessions and race day.
The gifts that keep on giving
Just about every morning, before our cup of joe, we slap ourselves as a reminder of how lucky we are to drive some of the best cars in the world and get paid for it. 2013 was another year of stupendous privileges, with wheel time in Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Land Rovers, Bentleys, Rolls-Royces, Porsches, Jaguars, Mercedes-Benzes, Audis, BMWs, Aston Martins and more. We’ve been the beneficiaries of a huge upswing in the automotive marketplace in terms of style, quality and driving excitement through virtually all segments. And you know what that means: 2014 should prove to be even better.
Here are the cars we most covet for the new year, each one a standout in its segment by virtue of its quality, technology, design, driving experience or all of the above. In a stellar field, these are the ones that stir the petrol in our veins the most. As we embark on a new year, here’s a toast to what should be an incredible 2014 on the digital pages of Octane.
Sleighs are for losers
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?
The Methuselah of automotive design
There are a scant number of nameplates that have lasted half a century with uninterrupted production: Mercedes-Benz SL, Jaguar XJ, Chevy Corvette, Chevy Suburban, Ford F-Series. But there’s only one car whose iconic design and sporting identity has remained truly consistent, only one whose recognition as among the best sports cars in the world has gone unmatched for 50 years…the Porsche 911. The 911′s DNA is a formula that’s intoxicating, one that the car world respects and envies. The half-century mark for a car is a colossal achievement, and when that car is the Porsche 911, that much more so.
In this 50th year of the 911, we decided to take a deeper look into the generations and iterations of this remarkable car to see how far it’s come. Not all of the car’s modifications were good ones, but they will all be remembered as part in parcel of what it takes develop an icon through multiple decades.
Narrowing down the best Porsches in history is a daunting and pleasurable task, similar to running through a cascade of single malt whiskies to select a mouthful of your favorites. After much debate, we’ve settled on the 10 greatest of all time. The final litmus test, we decided, was this: Is owning this vehicle akin to receiving a kiss from the car gods right on your petrol-lovin’ lips? A difficult prerequisite, but then again, this is Porsche we’re talking about.
Enough room for passengers, enough excitement to forget about 'em
When choosing a car for the track, it’s key to choose a ride with certain distinct criteria — things like sports-car dimensions and weight, great handling, two seats, an eye-brow singeing top speed and extreme impracticality for everyday driving. But what if your tool of choice just happens to be a luxury sedan? In that case, you obviously like challenges; maybe you’re the kind of guy whose idea of a workout is strapping a bag of rocks to your back and scaling a hillside in track spikes. Or maybe your choice of luxo-sedan just happens to be the 2014 Porsche Panamera ($78,100+). We hit the track in one at Atlanta Motorsports Park.
The apple doesn't fall far
When the Porsche Cayenne SUV took front and center for the Stuttgart automaker in 2002, Porsche purists had exhaust coming out of their ears. A Porsche SUV? The move, at least to them, was tantamount to putting a plaid shirt, leather suspenders and hiking boots on Gisele Bündchen. But the Cayenne turned into Porsche’s biggest seller, providing much-needed funding for more ambitious projects. Porsche’s doing it again with the 2015 Porsche Macan ($52,000-$62,000). We break down the small performance cross-over.
Meridian Prime Headphone Amp Meridian’s newest audio toy will please headphone jockeys everywhere: with both digital and analog inputs, the tiny Prime does double duty. It’ll function as a headphone amplifier or a preamplifier should it connect directly into speakers or active speakers. Prime boasts 24 bit/192kHz native conversion capacity, a 6-layer PC board, direct-coupled…
Gifts for the Rubber Burner
Drivers can be a picky bunch. It’s likely that fuzzy dice and sheepskin seat covers won’t cut it this (or any) year, so take some direction from us this holiday season. Car or motorcycle guys tend to appreciate things that enhance the experience or provide a bit of insight into the hobby/obsession. And you have no excuse to be stingy. He’s given you rides in his vintage roadster, and he even bought you some driving gloves for your Camry SE in hopes of steering you toward a more legitimate ride someday. It’s time you ponied up for something he’ll appreciate. Of course, you can still stuff his stocking with a box of synthetic 5W30.
Purity in Motion
2013 has been a great year in our motoring lives. We’ve hit the tarmac and the dirt track, tossed around Ferraris and Lambos, captured the ultimate camera car and two-wheeled it through the streets of London and Los Angeles. That’s a hell of a lot of burnt rubber — and we relished every moment.
We loved ‘em all, sure, but it’s high time we selected Gear Patrol’s Best New Car of the year, a tough task amid the fierce competition of some of the best vehicles we’ve seen in a long time. That field is packed full of cars from diverse manufacturers, each deserving of vehicular accolades of the highest order. But there can be only one winner — and to us, that winner is clear. The best car of the year is the 2014 Porsche Cayman S. But before we wax poetic (and we surely will), there are plenty of counterarguments to be made and bridesmaids to applaud.
In a world of “sporty cars”, it isn’t enough for them to be appealing, powerful and expensive. Yes, a sports car must be quick, but a truly great sports car must also must be first and foremost a driver’s car, an extension of the body; it must inspire confidence in order to maximize its potential. The 2014 Porsche Cayman ($52,600) is just such a car. Beneath the fuller, sexier skin is a powerful and smooth flat-six engine that puts out 274 hp in the Cayman and 325 in the raucous Cayman S. In either case, the driving rewards are aplenty, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more exhilarating sports 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.
Pages of legends
Every man’s library should consist of great books. Of course, regardless of how many classics you’ve read, if you’re a devotee of automobilia, your shelves should also house some truly great car books. We take a look at some of the best automotive books around in hopes that you’ll get your hands on some of them, park yourself in a comfy chair and spend a weekend afternoon imagining the sights, sounds and smells of great motoring.
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.
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.
Hochstadter’s Slow & Low Whiskey Ready-made cocktails are wariness-inducing, oftentimes saccharine malt beverages — the drinkers of which refer to them as “bevvies”. Slow & Low is not part of that drinker’s scourge. Rather, this is a rye-whiskey-based Old Fashioned simmered with raw honey, orange peel and horehound to produce an easy-drinking cocktail right out…
Weber Portable Charcoal Table Cavemen bent over fires like the primitive dolts they were. You know who else bends over their stupid little “fires”? The primitive dolts at the campsite next door. This table is the logical evolution for your Weber grill — just about any model fits and locks in to the painted, textured…
Porsche Steve McQueen Racing Jacket This jacket pays homage to an icon who inspired and generated envy in dudes the world over — for his cars and driving skills almost as much as for his acting and inherent coolness. It’s got a supremely vintage, look with McQueen’s signature on the front among other logos, a…
The Birth of a legend
When the Porsche 917 debuted at the 1970 Le Mans, it quite literally blew away the competition. Housed in an ultra-lightweight (93-pound) chassis, its 12-cylinder engine and state-of-the-art materials made it both the most formidable and most dangerous car on the road. It would supply Porsche with its first victory at Le Mans and help grow the brand into an icon of automotive excellence. This short documentary pays tribute to the car and its makers.
The tenth installment of our Staff Favorites series features Mr. Jeremy Berger. As far as life experiences go, Jeremy’s raced so far ahead of the pack that he’s threatening to lap us. Last summer he trained for and completed an Ironman in Louisville. He lived abroad in Germany after graduating as a Fulbright Scholar; he drank whiskey with good ole boys while working as a line cook in Mississippi; he’s a natural (and trained) culinary whiz; recently, he adventured through a certain embargoed Caribbean island. His favorite gear is many-faceted, fun and useful, the signature of an aggressive and full approach to life.