Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Maserati Gets Ready for Spring

Posted in: General, Maserati

MaseratiAs the rest of us are bundling up for fall, Maserati is stripping down for the spring and summer. The Italian carmaker introduced its new GranTurismo Convertible last week in New York.

While Maserati has long been know for crafting gorgeous open-air cars, what makes the GranTurismo stand out is that this is the first convertible they’ve built for four people. And we all know what that means: Road Trip!

The GranTurismo – which will be sold in the U.S. as the GranCabrio – is built with functionality in mind, which means that back seat actually holds two adults comfortably. (Hooray! That means less whining from those who weren’t fast enough to call “Shotgun.”)

The automatic roof can be opened in just 24 seconds, and the fact that it’s a four-seater hasn’t detracted a bit from its racecar heritage. Designers have made this beauty every bit as sporty and sexy as its two-seat siblings. Customization options include 10 seat colors, six interior trims and six roof color choices, so you can truly make this your own.

What’s even better is that the trunk is equally spacious whether the top is up or down. (This is definitely shaping up to be the best car ever for a shopping trip!) And, that hand-built 4.7 liter V8 can go from 0 to 60 in 5.3 seconds and has a top speed of 176 mph, so getting from point A to point B is both stylish and speedy.

The only bad news is that, while you can place an order now, you’ll have to wait until Spring 2010 for delivery.

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Lincoln MKZ Goes Nuts for Luxury

Posted in: General

2010 Lincoln MKZ What could possibly make the 2010 Lincoln MKZ more luxurious than its predecessor? That’s exactly the question that executives asked, and I think you’re going to like the answer.

A new trim level with generous walnut appointments makes Lincoln’s newest sedan more luxurious than ever. The Executive Appearance Package, which expands the range of Lincoln’s options, also includes luxury leather-trimmed seats, uniquely stitched door trim, a genuine walnut wood console and instrument panel accents and premium front and rear floor mats bearing the Lincoln star.

The interior color choices for the Executive Appearance Package are Dark Charcoal or Cashmere, and while the exterior color choices aren’t exactly adventurous (black, platinum, silver, gray and red), this car manages to merge stately with sporty, thanks to thinner wraparound headlights and optional polished aluminum wheels.

For a great entry-level midsize luxury ride, the MKZ could be shaping up as the car to beat for 2010. It’s going to be hard to find this much elegance anywhere else for Lincoln’s asking price of $34,965.

Top, Drop … Let’s Roll!

Posted in: General

If you’re looking to drop the top this fall, Nissan might have just what you need.

The 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster, which will be offered in four different models, will roll off the showroom floor in September. And there’s lots to love about this car from the inside out.

nissan-roadster-top-drop-lets-rollBased on Nissan’s extremely well received 370Z Coupe, the Roadster brings the same kind of sporty style with touches that give it a personality all its own. It takes everything there was to love about the original – such as its classic “double cockpit” style interior – and opens it up to give it a sportier feel.

The comfort goes far beyond the seats, which have an eight-way adjustment for the driver and a four-way adjustment for the passenger. They also have integrated heating and cooling functions that keep you comfortable with the top down, regardless of the temperatures. As another example of comfort meeting class, the steering wheel has a sports-styled three-spoke oval design that fits more naturally in the driver’s hands, and the manual transmission shifter has been specially padded for a softer feel.

Making it easier than ever to enjoy the great outdoors, it only takes about 20 seconds to lower or raise the top, and an automatic latch system secures (or releases) the top without the driver having to do anything more than push a button. (Now – if only Nissan would find a way to make the rest of the things in our life work that easily!)

The Roadster makes the Coupe look like a family sedan in comparison, thanks to a shorter wheelbase that makes it appear more aggressive. It picks up 26 more horses under the hood, going from 306 horsepower to 332, and you can choose from a seven-speed automatic or a six-speed manual. You’ll also have some eye-catching color choices – Solid Red, Magnetic Black, Brilliant Silver, Platinum Graphite, Pearl White, Monterey Blue and Nissan’s special premium color, Black Cherry.

Pricing on this sportster is modest, starting at $36,970 and topping out at around $41,820. The only bad news is, as I said earlier, you’ll have to wait until September to get your hands on this one.

Mercedes Takes “Topless” to the Extreme

Posted in: General, Mercedes

mb-stirling-moss.jpg

As previously mentioned on this blog, Mercedes is winding down production of its beautiful, powerful SLR roadsters. The final models are rolling out the door in June of this year, and now we finally have a look at the finished product.

The final SLR – which stands for Sport, Light, Racing – is the SLR Stirling Moss, named after the legendary British racecar driver. Once called “the greatest driver to win the World Championship,” he earned victories both as a Formula 1 racer and at Le Mans. At 79, he’s still traveling the globe and continues to be in demand at automotive events worldwide.

As a nod to this driving legend, Mercedes has made its final SLR an exceptional find. It isn’t just the racecar-like styling that makes it stand out – but, as Mercedes-Benz Cars’ sales and marketing head, Dr. Klaus Maier, points out, “No other car is this open and this fast at the same time.”

That’s right – the $1 million-ish price tag doesn’t include a windshield, roof or windows. The supercharged V8 can leap from a dead stop to 62 mph in just 3.5 seconds. And of course it doesn’t stop there – the SLR Stirling Moss has a top speed of 220.

With a ride like that, it’s pretty clear you’re probably going to want a helmet or goggles to go with it. (Either way, your hairdo is screwed the minute you leave the driveway.) Honestly, this is one of those cars that is gorgeous to look at but probably looks better in someone else’s garage – kind of like a lot of husbands.

Still, the workmanship makes it something that’s impossible not to stare at. So gaze if you will, lust if you must – and then return to your own car of choice, thanking God for heated seats and windshields.

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Does This Ferrari Make My Butt Look Big?

Posted in: Ferrari, General

ferrari-california.jpgIf cars and their owners look alike, then the new Ferrari California should make itself at home in the garage of Kim Kardashian. Because, best as I can tell, both have one pretty significant feature in common. (And no, that feature is not “nice headlights.”)

Ferrari’s newest model, which was first unveiled late last year at the Paris auto show, has raised eyebrows for its very un-Ferrari-like styling. While we’re accustomed to Ferrari’s oh-so-sleek design – you know, the one that makes the cars look fast even when they’re sitting in a garage – the California looks a bit, well, rounder than its predecessors. One might say it’s got some junk in the trunk. Literally.

The unusual (by Enzo Ferrari’s standards, anyway) rear-heavy design was made to accommodate the convertible’s folding hard top – as well as the hydraulic equipment needed to move it up and down. The designers felt the need for a little luggage space back there, too, and while they were at it, they even threw in a back seat. As we all know, it’s impossible to keep packin’ in more goodies without having to let out the seams a bit. And that’s exactly what Ferrari has done.

That’s not to say the prancing pony has been tamed into something that will be lost in the sea of SUVs and Lexuses in the pick-up lane at your kid’s middle school. It’s still a hot little number, with a mid-front V8 and 460 horses under the hood.

So, while it may not have the profile of a racecar, there’s still something appealing about this bubble-butted beauty. If you don’t believe me, hop in, cue Sir Mix-a-Lot and be prepared to enjoy one of Ferrari’s most road-friendly rides.

Lincoln MKS: Leave the Parking to Us

Posted in: General, Lincoln

What’s the next best thing to valet parking? (Okay, limousine service is the correct answer, but it’s a trick question…)

lincoln-mks.JPGWhen you absolutely, positively have to do it yourself, at least now there is a better way to park. The 2010 Lincoln MKS sedan, which will become available in mid 2009, is one of two new Ford models that will be equipped with Active Park Assist. (For the record, it is way better than having someone in the passenger’s seat simply point out that you’re too close to the curb/car behind you/car in front of you.) The system uses ultrasonic sensors and Electric Power Assisted Steering to ease your car into a parallel parking spot – which means that you don’t even need to touch the wheel while it does its thing.

The MKS sedan and the new Lincoln MKT seven-passenger luxury crossover are the first two vehicles in Ford’s fleet to be equipped with such technology, although the company expects to fit nearly 90 percent of its vehicles with such a feature by 2012. (More on the MKT after it is unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.)

The driver-friendly parking technology, known as Electric Power Assisted Steering, or EPAS, sounds almost too good to be true: Press a button, and the ultrasonic sensors identify and measure the parking space. Once the system gives the thumbs-up, the driver can accept system assistance, at which point the steering system takes over and maneuvers the car into the space – hands-free. (The driver is still responsible for shifting the transmission and operating the gas and brakes.)

Allegedly, this cool new system does more than remove the stress of parallel parking – it also claims to improve fuel economy by up to 5 percent. But of course, what we’re most impressed with is the idea that we don’t have to wrestle our cars into those parallel spaces any more.

If only they could make doing laundry this easy!

Mercedes SLR Goes on Auction Thursday

slr.jpgIt’s no secret that I carry a torch for the Mercedes McLaren SLR Roadster – one look at the photo at the top of this blog is really all it takes to uncover that piece of information.  While it makes absolutely no sense as a daily driver, it is a stunning piece of workmanship that offers the performance of a race car in the body of a gorgeous sports car.

If you’re torn between buying this car and using your money to do good for others, you’re in luck: As part of its holiday offerings, Saks Fifth Avenue is putting a special edition of the Mercedes SLR up for auction on Thursday. Profits from the auction will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Thanks and Giving Campaign.

This particular model is absolutely one of a kind. The carbon fiber body is finished out in Sienna Pearl metallic paint, and it sports a gorgeous light brown leather interior. Under the hood, you’ll find exactly what you expect of the SLR Roadster – a hand-built supercharged V8 with 617 horsepower for a top speed of 206 mph.

This is one of the last SLR Roadsters that Mercedes will produce, so if you’re in the market for one, you might as well make sure the money is going to a good cause. Starting bid is $529,500 and every penny raised beyond that amount goes directly to St. Jude. Ready to sign up? Go to www.mbusa.com/SLRauction to place your bid. And don’t forget your credit card!

2009 Range Rover Retools Luxury

Posted in: General, Land Rover, SUVs

2009-rangerover.JPGWith its 2009 Range Rover, Land Rover continues blurring the line between “sport” and “luxury.” While Land Rover has announced new options and appointments for all of its sport utility vehicles, the flagship Range Rover remains particularly attractive, thanks to its sleek blend of form and function.

For ’09, Land Rover will roll out its Autobiography Package, which is available only in new “Supercharged” editions of the Range Rover. Adding more touches of leather – on everything from the console side surfaces to the door casings to the instrument panel – the Autobiography Package is a beautiful and luxurious complement to the upgraded leather trim already coming standard in all 2009 Range Rovers.

range-rover-interior.JPGAlso unique to the Autobiography Package are soft, semi-aniline leather seats, wood trim and a four-zone automatic climate control system. If that’s not enough to sell you – check out the rear-seat entertainment system, which will keep the kids busy for hours on those road trips!

If you’re thinking environmentally, of course, the only way to make your Range Rover green is to select one in that color; even though Land Rover has lowered emissions on all of its vehicles for 2009, the Range Rover is only going to get you 11 mpg in the city and 17 on the highway.

Initial pricing shows the standard ’09 Range Rover at an MSRP of $77,675, and the Supercharged edition rings up at just over $93,325.

Dodge EV Should Get Your Motor Runnin’

Posted in: Electric Cars, General

dodge-ev.JPGAlthough I have loved the premise of the electric car since Day One, the prototypes we’ve seen unveiled haven’t exactly been something that gets the pulse racing. With the exception of Tesla’s Roadster, the proposed EVs so far have clearly indicated that we’ll have to leave our love of design at the door if we want to jump on the eco-friendly bandwagon.

Who knew that Dodge would be the one to break the mold?

jeep-ev.JPGLast week, Chrysler unveiled one new electric model each for Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep. While Chrysler is getting the Town & Country EV mini-van (yawn), Jeep is adding an electric version of the four-door Wrangler to its fold – which means guilt-free off-roading (as long as you don’t take out any trees while you’re out there.) That’s right – you can leave a smaller footprint but still leave tread marks on the side of the hill.

But it was the prototype EV from Dodge that came as a biggest surprise. Borrowing some design cues from its gorgeous beast of a sports car, the Viper, and throwing in elements of the Lotus Europa, Dodge unveiled one of the most exciting EVs we’ve seen to date.

dodge-ev-console.JPGThe two-passenger rear-wheel-drive sports car has the sleek design and high performance we want from a car, but also gives off zero tailpipe emissions.  It actually looks fun to drive – something that’s been noticeably lacking in too many EV designs – and the 200 kW electric motor is the equivalent of 268 horsepower. That gives drivers better performance than we’ve dared to hope for in an EV, reaching 60 mph in less than five seconds and taunting us with a top speed of 120+ mph.

Thanks to its advanced lithium-ion battery technology, the Dodge EV has a continuous driving range of 150-200 miles, and it can be recharged in eight hours from a standard 110-volt household outlet. (Using a 220-volt appliance power outlet will cut charging time in half.)

The possible cloud surrounding this silver lining is that we’ll have to wait for it; the earliest we’ll see this coming off the production line is 2010.

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Bentley Unveils Final Arnage

Posted in: Bentley, General

arnage_final_series_3_21.JPGAll good things must come to an end, and unfortunately that saying holds true for Bentley.

Bentley has unveiled its final version of the elegant Arnage, which has set the standard for this marque for the past decade. In return for its years of service, the automaker is giving the luxury liner a proper send-off, creating a limited edition run of just 150 cars. The 2009 Bentley Arnage Final Series will be the closest thing to a hybrid you may ever see coming from them – it combines the performance of the “T” with the refined elegance of the “R” to create the perfect marriage of luxury and power.

The 500 horsepower V8 will have a price tag of $224,990 and feature many upgrades to the customary Bentley bells and whistles. In addition to adding polished stainless steel “Final Series” treadplates to the front doors, interior extras include a rear cocktail cabinet with a “Final Series” stainless steel flask and shot glasses, an iPod interface, rear remote control for the infotainment system and a pair of picnic tables offered in your choice of premium unbleached veneers.

arnage_final_series-interior.JPGTo make this last Arnage completely personal, it’s being offered in any of Bentley’s 42 available exterior colors, with 25 interior hide color choices.  As the only auto manufacturer in the world who can boast of offering a cabin trimmed entirely with leather hides – including the headlining – Bentley uses nearly 400 pieces of leather for the interior. (The hand-crafted steering wheel along takes up to 16 hours of double stitching.)

Every detail of the elegant Arnage is going to reflect the refined luxury that Bentley has delivered faithfully and flawlessly through the years. This final edition is the best send-off that such a car could hope for, and as a reward for those years of service, these appointments certainly beat a gold watch!