While in Miami, we took this timeless classic for a luxurious test run.
Story: Evan ‘Evo’ Yates
Photos: Evan ‘Evo’ Yates / Mercedes-Benz / Jordan Krate
Exterior: The fact that the G-Wagen’s exterior has been virtually unaltered for nearly 40 years may be frowned upon, yet I believe the G’s vintage appearance is the foundation of its appeal. I actually tend to judge a vehicle’s appearance based on its ability to stand the test of time – if it still looks cool in ten years, it’s a winner. To be brutally honest, the G63 looks like a German tank and a fancy toaster had a love child and that’s quite refreshing to me. The fact that there is still a vehicle such as this produced in the era of futuristic crossovers flooding the expressways is quite admirable. To put it in muscle-car-guy terms, it’s as if Chevy were still making second-gen Camaros in 2015 but with updated interiors and drivetrains. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Anyway, the G63’s exterior is simultaneously bold, ferocious and charming and although it’s dated, its looks are immortal. Yes, it’s covered in chrome and even though I’ve lost my taste for the bling, somehow it works on the G63. And although its aesthetics are classic in nature, the G63 still brings some new-school charm to the table with its front LED lights, blacked-out wheels and massive red brake calipers. The best thing about the exterior? You’re the strangest, coolest most unique thing on the road and that has to count for something.
Interior: One of the things I love about the G-Wagen is that it sports the signature vintage exterior while maintaining a refined interior. However, if you compare the G to other current Mercedes models, it’s actually a few years behind and can even be viewed as ‘economy’ as a couple items such as the LCD screen look aftermarket. That being said, the interior has plenty of plush amenities such as seats that are actually quite comfortable wrapped in supple, yet durable designo Black Nappa leather. And although the interior cabin takes a bit of getting used to with its vertical windows that create some interesting reflections, the interior of the G63 makes you feel like you’re the lead vehicle in some sort of combat procession or mob fleet as its militant, yet elegant at the same time.
A/V: If you’ve driven a Benz in the last few years, the electronics in the G63 are on-par with the entry-level Mercedes vehicles and nothing really jumps out as outstanding, yet everything is certainly functional. I found that the radio was very easy to operate and the harman/kardonn LOGIC7 surround sound system did quite well with the bass-laden tunes we were blasting while cruising South Beach. And again, in a vehicle such as this you aren’t expecting to be floored by a plethora of a gadgets and I actually appreciate the G more with its electronic simplicity.
Performance: To further my comparisons to an old muscle car, the G63 is a brute that hauls some serious ass in a straight line and is a little scary around curves. And like driving a muscle car, you fall in love with the acceleration and throaty exhaust so much that you put up with any driving annoyances you may experience. On city streets, the G63 can get quite bouncy at times but for the most part it drives as expected and is just fine on the highway. It would be ludicrous for anyone to discredit the G63 for its truck-like ride when there are tens of thousands of people driving around lifted trucks and loving every minute of it. Speaking of that, even though I didn’t have a chance to take it off-road (I would have loved to but I was in Miami where things are pretty flat) I think the G63 could use a little extra meat on the tires. To me, this would accomplish a few things but mainly it would look more capable and less pretty and also aid those who want to get some real use out of it. Do I think anyone out there will be spending $140k to go off-road? Not one bit, but with its three locking differentials, 560 lb-ft of torque and 4-wheel electronic traction system, the G63 certainly could.
Floss Factor: The attention a bone stock G-Wagen attracts is off the charts, even on South Beach as we experienced on every cruise. The G63 just has an aura of opulence about it while still having that hard-edge, capable presence. The G63 would have been at home parked in front of Wet Willies on Ocean Drive or traversing through the sand on the beach and somehow it looks the part regardless. I can’t reitterate enough that the G63 turns EVERY head, even in a sea of Lambos, Ferraris and Rolls. It’s just that one rare vehicle that commands your attention – or else. And as we illustrated in the last picture of our gallery from our Forgiato Fest coverage, when customizing these vehicles it can boost the appeal exponentially. With the fact that the G isn’t exactly practical, this is THE ride you cop to floss.
Power: 536 hp / 560 lb-ft
0-60: 5.3 sec
Gas Cash: 13 MPG (Combined)
To infinity and beyond!
As far as special edition Mustangs go, this one is out of this world.
For the eighth straight year, Ford Motor Company has created a unique, aviation-inspired Ford Mustang to benefit Experimental Aircraft Association youth education programs, including the Young Eagles. The Apollo Edition Mustang will be donated and sold via auction at the Gathering of Eagles charity event, July 23, at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015 – the World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration.
All proceeds from the sale of the car will benefit EAA youth education programs, including the Young Eagles, which has provided free introductory flights to more than 1.9 million young people since 1992, helping grow the next generation of aviators.
Ford serves as exclusive automotive sponsor of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015, held July 20-26 this year at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
“The Apollo program delivered astonishing innovations in technology and achieved a national goal of landing the first human on the moon,” said Edsel B. Ford II, a member of the Ford board of directors. “The entire program was extraordinary – one of our nation’s greatest technological achievements. With this year’s stunning Apollo Edition Mustang, we salute that spirit of American ingenuity with the quintessential American automobile – Ford Mustang.”
Based on a 2015 fastback Ford Mustang GT, Ford design and engineering teams transformed the 5.0-liter pony car into the Apollo Edition Mustang – a truly unique and highly valued vehicle that will excite enthusiasts and collectors alike.
Led by Ford Design Manager Melvin Betancourt, the exterior features a one-of-a-kind glossy pure white and pure black non-production paint scheme that delivers a creative connection with the NASA Apollo program. The Apollo Edition Mustang features a carbon fiber front splitter, rear diffuser, rocker moldings and accent treatments, along with unique LED underbody lighting to symbolize atmospheric re-entry.
Performance enhancements include a performance package, Ford Performance supercharger and shifter, X-pipe with side and rear exhaust, sport-tuned suspension, six-piston Brembo brakes and custom Forgiato 21-inch performance wheels. This Mustang will deliver a heart-pounding 627 horsepower and 540 lb.-ft. of torque to provide an exhilarating, controlled launch for its new owner.
The theme carries into the cabin with exclusive interior details, including performance gauges, modified instrument cluster, unique sill plates and embroidered elements in seats, trim panels and floor mats.
The auction of the Apollo Edition Mustang will be the pinnacle of the EAA Gathering of Eagles gala. The event annually draws more than 1,000 aviation enthusiasts in support of EAA youth education programs, which inspire young people to become engineers, aviators, astronauts, scientists and innovators – the aviation pioneers of tomorrow.
“Ford has been a committed sponsor of EAA and AirVenture for more than 15 years – bringing incredible value to those who make Oshkosh the highlight of their aviation year,” said Jack Pelton, EAA chairman of the board. “With its eighth Mustang donation, Ford continues to excite with its specialty vehicles, which reflect the depth of the company’s commitment and which allow EAA to provide support to its valuable programs and dedicated members in helping us grow the next generation of aviators.”
The Apollo Edition Mustang joins seven other one-of-a-kind Mustangs created by the Ford design and engineering teams for the auction in support of EAA youth education. Ford vehicles donated at EAA AirVenture events have collectively raised nearly $3 million.
Buick's cutest vehicle, ever, but does that equal quality?
Photos & Words: Evan ‘Evo’ Yates
Exterior: The commercials are spot-on. Tell someone, ‘It’s the Buick over there’ and they literally can’t locate it. But in this case, it’s not necessarily because the Encore oozes new-age luxury, more so because it’s a tiny luxury crossover SUV and most would never imagine Buick producing a vehicle such as this. That being said, the exterior is quite charming. Most notably, the front faschia is attractive and definitely demands some attention with its vertical chrome grille and blue halo-style headlight rings. Quicksilver Metallic, the hue my test vehicle adorned, is more than likely the best option for the Encore as the body lines are properly accentuated. All things considered, the aesthetic is what would potentially boost the Encore above its competitors.
Interior: One attribute Buick has always been known for are plush, comfortable interiors but inside the Encore, there’s not much ‘Buick’ to be found – more like Saturn. Clearly they had to keep costs down but the the bland plastics and the ‘leather appointed’ seats fall short of the Buick standard. The interior was also a bit cramped in the rear and there wasn’t much cargo room but this was kind of assumed ahead of time. However, in this particular genre of vehicles, it’s not uncommon for the interiors to be pretty basic so it was almost to be expected. Just know that if you’re looking for BUICK in this interior, you won’t find it.
A/V: Our test vehicle was equipped with a BOSE premium audio system which was fine for certain types of music and certainly a step above the base model. My iPhone seemed to work pretty well with the system via bluetooth or connected via cable (my preferred method). The 7-inch color screen was bright, easy on the eyes and added the techy-luxury vibe needed in a vehicle such as this as it’s assumed a younger person would be purchasing it.
Performance: The ECOTEC Turbo 1.4L four-cylinder motor does its job but don’t expect much out of it. The Encore struggled at times with multiple passengers and/or with the air conditioning on but performs pretty well otherwise.
Floss Factor: This little luxury nugget is cute and certainly a step above its competition in the looks category.
Power: 138 hp, 148 lb-ft
0-60: 9.3 sec
Gas Cash: 28 MPG (combined)
A Camaro in Caprice clothing.
Photos & Words: Evan ‘Evo’ Yates
Exterior: The new Chevy SS is probably the most unassuming performance car ever with its cousin, the fourth-generation GTO coming in a close second. If you don’t know the history of the SS or Chevy in general, you’ll more than likely pass it off as a Malibu, Impala or even a Cobalt. To some, the mundane appearance could be a turn-off and doesn’t justify the price tag but the Chevy SS isn’t for the person yearning for the fanfare. However, Chevy did a respectable job in adding performance-inspired appointments with a menacing front fascia, chrome fender vents and rear deck lid spoiler. Staggered 19-inch forged aluminum wheels wrapped in high-performance Bridgestone tires are also a nice touch although I would love to see the wheels in a more aggressive shade such as gunmetal or black.
Interior: Inside the Chevy SS is a perfect mix of sport and class with racing-style seats similar to those in the new Z28 Camaro and leather and suede covering the dash and doors. The SS could easily seat four full-size adults comfortably and everything is properly laid out in the cabin. The only gripe I had with my six-speed manual model was that with drinks in the cupholders it was a little difficult to shift gears properly.
A/V: Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system with the eight-inch touch screen is a breeze to operate and the bluetooth streaming audio makes for easy connectivity with your smart phone. The heads-up display (an option I usually could care less about) was actually very helpful in a car such as this as I opted for the screen that displayed MPH and RPM which certainly aided in regulating my driving style with such a powerful vehicle.
Performance: Driving the 2015 Chevy SS is a visceral experience that will leave you grinning ear-to-ear after every romp of the gearbox. You truly feel that you’re driving a modern muscle car and forget that you’re behind the wheel of a sedan akin to a Chevy Malibu. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of driving a Camaro SS or Corvette, the feeling is virtually identical to the Chevy SS. With the 6.2L LS3 under the hood pumping out 415 horsepower and 415 ft lb of torque mated to the TREMEC TR6060 six-speed manual transmission, the SS is just plain bad ass and will plant you in your seat. The LS3 also barks out a sultry exahust note that you simply never get tired of hearing. On top of it being loads of fun, the SS is also quite streetable when you want it to be which is the brilliance of a car such as this. Yes, you can actually have the best of both worlds. And the SS isn’t just great for romping down a quarter-mile, it also handles the curves effortlessly thanks to the Magnetic Ride Control and MacPherson suspension. And to make sure you get this beast to a screeching halt, massive Brembo brakes on all four corners come standard.
Floss Factor: Unless you come across a die-hard Chevy and/or Holden fan, you won’t earn any extra props on the streets with the SS. However, knowing you have a sedan that could whip the pants off most vehicles on the road while still being able to seat multiple passengers and haul luggage should be satisfaction enough to any hardcore car guy (or gal).
Power: 415 hp/ 415 ft lb torque
0-60: 4.7 sec
Gas Cash: 17 MPG (combined)
The perfect car for the Williamsburg yupster.
Story by Will Sabel Courtney
If you needed any further proof that the days of the big-box SUV are behind us, feast your eyes on the Lexus NX 200t. When the time came to toss their hat into the booming small-yet-stylish-sport-utility-vehicle category, Lexus management apparently served their designers a big plate of ‘shrooms and told them to go buck wild.
And amazingly enough, the result came out looking pretty good. Lexus’s hourglass front grille seems just right on the NX’s face, and the creased edges Lexus’s designers favor these days look far more at home on the compact, upright NX then they do on the brand’s sedans or bulkier sport-utes. The whole look makes the NX 200t look like some sort of bionic boar. (In the best way.)
The NX 200t also marks Lexus’s first (American) use of a turbocharged motor. It was probably inevitable, given how turbo fours are in vogue these days; thankfully, the effort produced a solid performer, serving up plenty of power with minimal lag. It did deliver a surprising amount of torque steer, though—rather odd, considering the NX I drove had all-wheel-drive.
Speaking of driveline oddities—it’s time for Lexus to ditch the NX 200t’s six-speed automatic. Sure, it works fine, but seven or eight speeds have become the standard in the luxury-car classes. Six forward cogs seems dangerously outdated, especially in a brand-new car. It’s not like you don’t have an eight-speed lying around, Lexus—it’s sitting between the engine and the wheels in the RC F and the LS. Chrysler sells a $17,000 car with a nine-speed automatic. Your $35,000 one should at least try to keep up.
The shift mode controller that toggles between “Eco,” “Normal” and “Sport” mode comes in handier than most similar gizmos: Sport does a solid job of keeping the engine closer to the turbo’s boost when driving, uh, vigorously; Eco smooths out the stop-and-go traffic herky-jerky; and Normal mode works quite nicely for, y’know, normal driving. If there’s a bug in the actual driving experience, it’s the passive-aggressive e-brake, which automatically activates when the car shifts into park. Ohhhh, it looks like you forgot to turn on the parking brake…I’ll just take care of that for you.
No, NX. I just don’t want it on.
The driving experience, all told, is as unremarkable as the exterior is futuristic—which is probably just what the average NX buyer’s looking for. What he/she does want, though, is comfort and technology—and like every Lexus, the NX is jammed full of both. The interior packs the usual new-era Lexus combination of modern, slightly busy design and a complex center console stretching from the dashboard to the armrest. (The shifter is also mounted unusually high, which may give fond memories to former seventh-gen Honda Civic Si and Porsche Carrera GT owners.)
(Not that there are probably many people moving from a Carrera GT to a Lexus NX.)
The NX also comes with the latest version of the infotainment control, which involves a laptop trackpad and a crosshair cursor. It remains frustrating; luckily, there are big buttons and physical switches for most of the major functions, such as the radio and the climate control. Still, when the nicest thing you can say about an infotainment system is “you don’t have to use it too often,” it may be time to switch things up.
Odds are good NX owners will make extensive use of the trucklet’s surprisingly roomy interior, though. The acutely angled rear hatch cuts into the rear cargo bay a little harshly, but the remaining space is still more than enough to hold two couples’ bags for a week’s vacation. And both front and rear rows are roomy enough for a pair of yupsters. (Yuppie hipsters.)
And that’s just who the NX is for: yupsters. It’s perfect for stylish urbanites who want all-weather ability, empowering ride height, and a luxury nameplate, but also need something small enough to maneuver into tight parking spaces and won’t guzzle gas the way Donald Trump goes through hairspray. I’m already seeing them popping up around Brooklyn with surprising frequency. The Lexus NX, really, is a car for the Williamsburg of 2015—it’s edgy, tech-centric, pricey, and perfect for the kinds of folks who like to stay on top of the latest trends without straying too far from the mainstream.
Considering how quickly Williamsburg is growing…I can’t say Lexus has the wrong idea.
Price as Tested: 44,148
0-60: 7.2 secs. (FWD model)
Power: 235 hp, 258 lb.-ft.
Gas Cash: 22 city, 28 hwy
Miles Driven: 40