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2014 Lexus IS-F Reviewed

An Ode To The Dragon

[gallery ids="541624,541626,541627,541628,541629,541625"] By: Richard Melick “It’s just a Lexus.” That was my initial thought really, as I opened the door to the 2014 Lexus IS-F. I’ve always enjoyed the Lexus vehicles, but have never really thought they were something to write home about. Classy, comfortable, semi-affordable, and made with strong quality, the rides have always been related to the newly promoted managers and stay-at-home moms to me. And I wasn’t giving this ride in front of me much more of a thought. Yes, I knew what it was, what it had inside, and had seen the hilarious Top Gear episode with Clarkson driving it like mad man. But for some reason I could not look past the Lexus name. And I am sorry for that. I am sorry to this car that is more than what I could have ever imagined. 415 hp at my disposal, all pushed through the rear wheels, was insane. I’ve handled high powered vehicles before, but nothing has invoked the amount of fun that the IS-F did. Every start-up, every acceleration, every corner – the world had become my race track. I was finding myself looking for reasons to take new routes home, finding longer roads to stretch the legs on, the really get the full taste of what this car was supposed to deliver. No car has ever invoked that emotion in me. It became an adventure, an opportunity to see the confused looks on the faces around me of the people who, like me originally, only saw a Lexus. And that’s why it saddens me to write this article. Lexus ended production of this dragon 2 weeks after I had the vehicle. The moment of reading that news was bittersweet for me. I felt blessed to have experienced that ride, knowing that if ever an opportunity for me to own a RWD high-power sedan came up, it would be my number one choice. No questions about that. But on the other end, I feel cheated, as if Lexus showed the world just what it could do with a sedan, launching the F-Sport branding, but then taking away the true heart and soul. There is no word if this engine, this mastered piece of Japanese engineering, will return in some form, and that stings. The moment I started this car, the first hard pull off the light, the cornering with the tires squeaking just as if they were egging me on, was pure bliss. The noise of the exhaust, bark of the shifts, was like pure adrenaline being pumped into my system. I became an addict of speed in this car. Let that sink in. A Lexus made me fall in love with pure horsepower. But there was one moment of pure bliss with that car. My best friend was having his bachelor party that weekend, and I offered to drive him and two others to the many festivities. As we drove through the empty streets, I looked around and saw the grins on 3 non-motor head faces. These gentlemen, owners of cars that get them from A to B, were hooked. Every corner, every acceleration, every bark in the shift made their smile even more permanent. I felt bad, as if I had just introduced them to a new, addicting drug, but at the same time, welcomed them to the party. It’s a series of mixed emotions I have with this car. It’s not practical for me, but that’s only because I live in Colorado. Any other state, such as Arizona, and I would have this in my garage in a heartbeat. But as I look around at the other rides on the market, I am not seeing anything that will truly fill this need, this missing part of my addiction to speed. And every bit of it was caused by a Lexus. No more was I looking at this as a grocery-getter for the upper middle class. No longer did Lexus fit in the ‘kind of cool’ category as they have proven they can delivery something that invokes pure motor head emotions. Now, instead, I wait to hear of the next insane ride that will grace the streets. And I only hope it exceeds the top-class that the IS-F delivered. One day, I will find a way. I will justify this ride. I am sorry I ever doubted it.
August 20, 2014 at 07:41 PM
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Concours d’Elégance Once Again Delivers Amazing Exotics

The annual Pebble Beach weekend dazzles attendees.

[gallery ids="541595,541590,541591,541592,541593,541594,541596,541597,541598,541599,541600,541601,541602,541603,541604,541605,541606,541607,541608,541609,541610,541611,541612,541614,541615,541616,541617,541618,541619,541613"]
August 18, 2014 at 04:56 PM
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2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat (w/ Video!)

At 204 mph the SRT Hellcat is the fastest sedan in the world!

[gallery ids="541585"] Via Dodge- August 13, 2014 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - Dodge is upping its high-performance game again with the unveiling of the new 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. The new Charger SRT Hellcat will feature the supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI® Hellcat V-8 engine that produces 707 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque – making it the quickest, fastest, most powerful production sedan in the world, as well as the most capable and technologically advanced four-door muscle car in America. “For the last eight years, a large part of the Dodge Charger’s successful formula has been its many personalities. It’s a muscle car, a performance sedan, a family capable sedan; its success is that it can be any or all of those things, depending on how the customer chooses to equip their car,” said Tim Kuniskis, President and CEO — Dodge and SRT Brands. “And now, with a NHRA-certified quarter mile time of 11.0 seconds and a 204 mph top speed, the new 2015 Dodge Charger Hellcat redefines itself again, as the quickest, fastest, most powerful sedan in the world!” The 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat will be built at the Brampton (Ont.) Assembly plant. Production is slated to begin in the first quarter of 2015. Awe-inspiring powertrain; largest brakes ever offered in a Chrysler Group vehicle The new 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is powered by the new supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V-8 engine. Its 707 horsepower matches the highest rating of any V-8 engine in Chrysler Group’s celebrated history – that of the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. The all-new supercharged V-8 engine is mated to the beefy new TorqueFlite 8HP90 eight-speed automatic transmission. This new Hellcat engine is Dodge and SRT’s first application of V-8 supercharger technology, featuring a forged-steel crankshaft with induction-hardened bearing surfaces. The result is a crank so well-engineered it can withstand firing pressures of 110 bar (1,595 psi) – the equivalent of five family sedans standing on each piston, every two revolutions. And its unique, specially tuned crank damper has been tested to 13,000 rpm. High-strength, forged-alloy pistons, developed using advanced telemetry measurement, are coupled to powder-forged connecting rods with high-load-capacity bushings and diamond-like-carbon-coated piston pins. The supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V-8 has premium-grade, heat-treated aluminum-alloy cylinder heads, which are optimized for superior thermal conductivity. And its die-cast aluminum rocker covers are HEMI Orange. Standard on the Charger SRT Hellcat is the largest front-brake package ever offered in a Chrysler Group vehicle, which were first introduced on the 2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat, featuring all-new 390-mm (15.4-inch) Brembo two-piece rotors with six-piston calipers for outstanding heat management and thermal capacity and longevity. The unrivaled four-door performance numbers tell an impressive story with the quarter mile in 11.0 seconds, 0-100-0 mph in under 13 seconds, and a top speed of 204 mile per hour (mph). All-new Drive Modes tailor the driving experience to each individual driver Whether its on-road or on-track, Charger SRT Hellcat owners can personalize their drive experience, via the all-new Drive Modes feature. Drive Modes tailor the driving experience by controlling horsepower, transmission shift speeds, paddle shifters, traction and suspension. Drive Modes are pre-configured for Sport, Track and Default settings, while the Custom setting lets the driver customize the drive experience to their favorite settings. Custom — Allows the driver to personalize the vehicle’s performance Sport — Delivers increased vehicle performance capability over the Default Mode Track — Delivers maximum vehicle performance capability on smooth, dry surfaces Default — Activates automatically when starting the vehicle Eco — Maximizes fuel economy with a revised shift schedule, pedal map and second-gear starts The Drive Modes feature is controlled through the Uconnect system and may be accessed by performing any of the following: Pushing the SRT button on the instrument panel switch bank Selecting “Drive Modes” from the “SRT & Apps” menu Selecting “Drive Modes” from within the Performance Pages menu Unlocking the power The all-new 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat comes standard with two key fobs – red and black. The red key fob is the only key that can unlock the full horsepower and torque potential of the SRT Hellcat engine; while the black key fob limits the driver to a reduced engine output. When Valet Mode is activated, the following vehicle configurations are enabled: Engine is remapped to significantly reduce horsepower and torque; limited to 4,000 rpm Transmission locks out access to first gear and upshifts earlier than normal Transmission will treat the manual shifter position the same as the drive position Traction, steering and suspension are set to their “Street” settings Steering-wheel paddle shifters are disabled Drive Mode functions are disabled Electronic stability control (ESC) is enabled to Full-on Launch Control is disabled The driver can activate and deactivate Valet Mode with a four-digit PIN code they create. Sinister, functional exterior design Inspired by its performance-enthusiast roots when Charger first launched more than 45 years ago, the new Charger successfully pays homage to past muscle cars while offering distinctly modern all-new exterior and interior appointments. The Dodge and SRT design team builds upon the 2015 Dodge Charger’s new modern four-door fastback coupe’s already iconic exterior styling by adding a sinister-looking, unique front fascia, hood, rear fascia and spoiler. The new exterior of the 2015 Dodge Charger is spiritually inspired by the iconic second-generation Charger from the late 1960s, and for 2015, specifically draws its cues from the 1969 model. With its rear-wheel-drive (RWD) platform and proven power, the Charger’s modern take on old-school muscle is sure to resonate with today’s enthusiasts. Up front, the Charger SRT Hellcat receives the larger, power-bulge aluminum hood, which features a dedicated “cold-air” intake – a visual styling cue from the first Viper coupe built in 1996 – and dual air extractors to ensure effective removal of heat and reduced air turbulence in the engine compartment. The redesigned front fascia and grille use unique, blacked out upper and lower textures to produce the menacing look that is sure to make onlookers notice the ultimate performance sedan. An integrated front splitter optimizes airflow to the cooling modules without compromising vehicle balance. Filling the wheel wells are “Slingshot” split-seven spoke 20 x 9.5-inch, lightweight forged-aluminum wheels with either standard Matte Black or available Brass Monkey/dark bronze finishes. Two new 275/40ZR20 Pirelli P Zero tires provide performance for all seasons. Both Pirelli P Zero Nero and P Zero tires are Y-Plus rated to handle the extreme speeds the Charger SRT Hellcat is capable of producing. At the rear, a single piece decked spoiler is painted in body color while the unique fascia and valence showcase the 4-inch round exhaust tips. The Dodge Charger SRT’s signature “racetrack” LED tail lamps take on the same continuous glowing ribbon of light that debuted on the new 2014 Dodge Durango. The center high-mounted stop lamp is relocated from the top of the deck lid to the roofline inside the back glass, allowing centering of the Charger SRT’s backup camera. The rear styling makeover begins at the touchdown point of the C-pillar, which is moved rearward to create an even more pronounced fastback appearance combined with a shorter rear overhang. High-performance driver-oriented interior The 2015 Charger SRT Hellcat’s restyled driver-focused interior features premium, soft-touch materials, a new 7-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) customizable digital instrument gauge cluster and a new instrument panel center stack with the latest generation 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen media center. New for 2015, drivers can select one of the many offered backgrounds to connect the digital look and feel with their chosen interior package. In addition, the Charger SRT Hellcat comes standard with a premium 900 watt, 18-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system. An all-new and class-exclusive electronic shifter with an all-new driver-oriented T-handle provides the driver with intuitive gear selection and offers an Auto Stick selector gate for added control. A redesigned SRT-branded heated steering wheel features a flat bottom and thick rim for the high-performance driver. Standard paddle shifters are located on the back of the upper spokes. The buttons to control the driver-configurable, full-color thin-film transistor (TFT) display are large and illuminated. Buttons for Uconnect and phone access now reside along the bottom edge of the horizontal spokes. Optional adaptive cruise control is configured by buttons that are symmetrically opposite on the right-hand side of the wheel. As before, the highly praised audio controls are still found on the back of the upper spokes. This new power tilt-telescoping steering wheel also has a 360-degree heat element. The new 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat features redesigned seats with improved cushioning and more comfortable contours. For improved comfort and convenience, the SRT Hellcat includes standard heated and ventilated front high-performance seats and heated rear seats. Charger continues to grow its market share The 2015 Dodge Charger competes in the U.S. full-size car market, but stands alone in a class by itself as the only American-bred four-door muscle car. In March of 2014, the Dodge brand reached a significant milestone, with Challenger and Charger sales combining to sell a total of more than 1 million units in the United States. The Charger’s combination of aggressive and youthful image, full-size functionality and world-class engineering and quality resonates with young and affluent buyers. Charger’s purchasers on average are 15 years younger than its competitors’ buyers within the segment, with more than half identifying themselves as millennials or Generation Xers. The Charger’s appeal is attracting a high number of conquest buyers, helping drive a 62 percent increase in sales since 2009 – double the growth of the standard full-size car segment. In 2013, Charger posted its best sales year since 2007, further fueling a 3.2 percentage point gain in market share since 2009.
August 13, 2014 at 02:46 PM
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2014 CLA AMG - Reviewed

If you’re looking for a little coupe that can embarrass much bigger and pricier machines, you’ve found it here.

[gallery ids="541575"] Story: Adam Kaslikowski “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” Truer words were never spoken to describe the 2014 CLA AMG. With 355hp and 332lb-ft of torque packed into a go-kart sized coupe, this little dog has got some serious fight in it. AMG has always been the nutter muscle jockey among the German in-house tuners. It regularly outguns both the M Division and Audi S line. AMG clearly believes might makes right, and the CLA AMG is so so right. If you’re looking for a little coupe that can embarrass much bigger and pricier machines, you’ve found it here. Pick up the CLA AMG, throw out your sense of self control, and drive until Death catches up with you.
August 11, 2014 at 03:38 PM
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1986 Kremer Racing Porsche 911

With the help of MC Customs, a set of HRE Wheels gave this vintage Porsche a touch of modern.

[gallery ids="541571,541570,541569,541568,541567,541566,541565,541564,541563,541562,541561"] [Photos via MC Customs.]
August 11, 2014 at 02:52 PM
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2008 BMW M3

This BMW M3 came in for body repairs, it unexpectedly left the shop on a whole new level courtesy of a Vorsteiner kit.

[gallery ids="541551,541552,541550,541553,541554,541555,541556,541557,541558"]

Story: Reynald Fries

Photography: Andrew Link Just about every month, the students at University of South Florida have a car meet for all the local gear heads to get together and network within the custom-car community. In early 2014, there was a bit of a fender bender at the show due to an honest, unintentional mistake. The damage was done to a matte army-green BMW M3. This was a special Bimmer, though, as it’s one of only two M3s in the country with a Vorsteiner GTRS3 widebody kit. It belongs to Peter, an international USF student from China who had just moved to Florida. As would be the case with just about anybody, Peter was worried about repairing the body kit because, at $40,000, it’s a seriously expensive piece of automotive swag. It was installed in Illinois, which was too far for just a rear-quarter repair. A kit like this requires special care by auto-body professionals who have extensive experience with custom cars. After asking around campus for information on anyone who could repair this type of damage, the name 813 Customs kept coming up, so Peter scheduled an appointment. Joe Barravecchio, owner of Tampa’s 813 Customs, assured the young scholar he had come to the right place. “He came here and we looked at it and talked,” Joe remembers, as they walked around the M3 and sized up the damage. “And he said he was tired of the matte-green paint.” Joe is no rookie when it comes to paint or wraps, and they discussed Peter’s ideas further. “So then we started talkin’ about wraps and went over some colors,” Joe explains. “He looked at some color charts and picked out the matte metallic blue from 3M.” As the crew began working on the Bimmer, Gabe, a salesman at 813, talked cars with Peter, which is when Peter told him about his dream to one day own a Ferrari. This conversation inspired Gabe to research the intricacies of Ferrari’s design. Taking cues from the Ferrari F12berlinetta, Gabe drafted up a potential interior design for the M3 using black leather with red suede, seat patterns and stitching to match Ferrari’s. Peter loved it, as it gave him the opportunity to have a taste of his dream car while driving his daily. With his bumper fixed, a brand-new blue wrap and a Ferrari-inspired interior, Peter was motivated to add an 813 sound system as the finishing touch, and they went for it—installing a 10-inch subwoofer with a custom enclosure in the trunk. To really set it apart from the rest, subtle red LED puddle lights under the side skirts and red halo headlights turn this beautiful blue baby into a sinister street savage at night. In retrospect, Peter’s fender bender was a blessing in disguise. It’s a lesson anyone can learn from: When one door closes, another opens, offering potential opportunities that would’ve otherwise never been presented. Life gave Peter lemons and 813 Customs made lemonade. The matte-green version of this Vorsteiner M3 made its rounds on the Internet, but this version is a newborn design.

Specs:

Year/Make/Model: 2008 BMW M3

Performance: Iceman exhaust system

Exterior: Vorsteiner GTRS3 wide body package, Boot Lid Coupe trunk; matte metallic blue 3M wrap; red LED puddle lights; red halo headlights

Interior: All black leather and red suede interior inspired by Ferrari F12berlinetta

Ice: Addictive Audio 100.1 amplifier, 10-inch Version 2 subwoofer in a custom enclosure

Wheels/Tires: 20-inch Vorsteiner V308 wheels; Michelin Pilot Sport tires, 295/25/20 front, 315/30/20 rear

August 06, 2014 at 05:01 PM
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Rolls-Royce Confirms New Model For 2016

The new model looks to be a drophead version of the Wraith Coupe.

[gallery ids="541546,541544,541545,541547"] [Via Rolls-Royce] 5th August 2014, Goodwood The manufacturer of the world’s pinnacle super-luxury automobiles today confirmed the development programme for a new Rolls-Royce. The new car will reach the market by mid-2016. The car will build on the success of Phantom, Ghost and Wraith by continuing to boldly shape the future of the marque with contemporary, graceful and sensuous styling. It will deliver effortless, open-top touring through the perfect marriage of modern Rolls-Royce luxury, style and elegance with an engaging and exhilarating driving experience. Speaking from the Home of Rolls-Royce at Goodwood, West Sussex, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, said, “I am truly delighted to confirm today the development of our new model which will open an exciting new chapter in the great story of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. We are currently developing an exciting and thoroughly contemporary interpretation of a pinnacle drophead tourer which will introduce even more discerning men and women to Rolls-Royce ownership.” Peter Schwarzenbauer, Chairman of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, welcomed the announcement saying, “The announcement of a new Rolls-Royce model is always a seminal moment in the automobile industry. When it arrives in 2016, this elegant and sensuous new car will build on the success of our current models and will play a key part in fulfilling Rolls-Royce Motor Car’s commitment to long-term sustainable growth.” The new car is currently undergoing a rigorous process of prototype testing as it enters its next stage of development.
August 05, 2014 at 04:31 PM
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2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe Reviewed

The ATS Coupe is built to take on German manufacturers, and it succeeds.

[gallery ids="541531,541532,541533,541534,541535,541536,541537,541540,541538,541539"] I can’t think of brand that gets pigeonholed into various stereotypes more than Cadillac. Mobsters and the elderly cruise in the sedans while rappers and athletes claimed the Escalade and because I’m none of these things Cadillac has gone overlooked by me a majority of my life. However, the 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe is on track to completely flip my perspective. For starters, simply put, it’s a great looking car. It’s a coupe so it has that sort of bubbly cockpit we’ve come to expect from them, but it doesn’t forget that it has evolved from a long line of well, long Cadillacs. You know, those Caddys of our grandfathers that appeared to be half a city block long. Well, the ATS isn’t nearly that long but the line from the front wheel back and the solid silver line above the windows invoke length reminiscent of the car's older relatives. The luxury that has become synonymous with Cadillac through the years is evident on the inside wear wood is real wood, leather real leather, and carbon fiber, you guessed it, real carbon fiber. In fact, the combination of materials in the interior is as near perfect as possible and certainly allows for the ATS Coupe to hold its own against the seasoned vets in this category: Mercedes, BMW and Audi. The only place where the ATS Coupe falters on the inside is in the ease of use of the entertainment console. Granted this is something you inevitably get used to, but off the bat working the touch screen to control the navigation and radio was nowhere near as easy as some of the cars competitors. Additionally, the touch system used for the climate control takes some getting used to verse traditional buttons and I found myself often hitting things I didn’t mean to. Available in two engines, a 2.0L turbo and a 3.6L V-6, I was fortunate to drive both, the 2-litre in the AWD and the 3.6-litre in the rear wheel drive. While I found the driving experience to be quite similar I did prefer the 3.6 for its acceleration on the highway. The 20 lb.-ft more of torque gave the 2.0 nice acceleration but the 49 less horsepower made it a bit sluggish hitting the gas at speed. Considering I do more accelerating to pass on the road than I do gunning it from a dead stop this is something of importance to me. Handling and braking between the two were nearly identical and spectacular, in part due to the standard Brembo brakes, but also because Cadillac just has it dialed in. As I still struggle to see Cadillac as a young persons car the way that I do others in the same class as the ATS Coupe, the engineers have done their job in creating a coupe to compete in this segment. It’s now in the hands of the marketing department to see if they can sway public perception in their favor and away from past stereotypes.
August 04, 2014 at 07:00 PM
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