Jaguar proves yet again it's shooting for the top spot.
Story and photography by: Evan ‘Evo’ Yates
When it comes to high-end luxury cars, Jaguar seems to have found the perfect harmony between luxury, performance and styling. The 2015 Jaguar XJL Portfolio AWD is no exception as it covers every base and blows expectations out of the water.
Although this body style has been around for a few years and had mixed reviews at first, it seems that maybe the XJ’s aesthetics were just ahead of its time. The longer-wheelbase XJL is simply sexy from it attractive front fascia to the sweeping C-pillar and even the rear is nice to look at as well. Rarely is a car’s exterior absent of a weak spot and the XJL simply does not have one. And with its uncanny looks, you also get a car that stands out amongst its $100k sedan competitors as the others simply fall short parked next to the XJL.
Everything about the interior is just right. The driving position is perfect, there is touches of chrome and wood but not too much and not too little. Some luxury cars like to overload you with opulence, which in turn makes it seem as if they are trying too hard yet the Jaguar XJL confidently gives you just enough. The digital instrument cluster never gets old as it produces an animated start-up image upon ignition and then settles back into your standard gauge cluster afterwards. The infotainment system is fairly easy to use although I’d like to be able to get to some of the controls with a few less actions. The funny part about that is, when scrolling through all those screens you tend to appreciate the car and its options even more.
Although the XJL is a long, large vehicle it certainly does not feel like it when behind the wheel. It’s actually quite mind-boggling when you think about how much of a sports car the XJL feels like. And even though this particular model has a V6 under the hood, the fact that it is supercharged and pumping out 340 HP proves it certainly does not lack performance, even in such a large vehicle. What that means is that you don’t necessarily have to purchase the V8 versions of the XJL to enjoy it. Oh, and the supercharged V6 will also help quite a bit in the fuel efficiency department which aids in justifying the purchase of such a ride. The 8-speed automatic transmission makes for a silky smooth commute in any condition. Whether you’re romping down on the gas pedal or simply accelerating through traffic, the tranny never skips a beat. In addition the drivetrain, the suspension has a nice blend of comfort and performance even in the standard driving mode.
The 2015 Jaguar XJL Portfolio AWD has an as-tested price of right under $90k which is more than fair as you get much more for your money compared to some of the XJ’s competitors. I also like that every option outside of the seat massagers and illuminated door sills come standard so my as-tested price was very close to the base MSRP. Again, another attribute I found quite rare in the luxury car segment.
After reviewing the XJR earlier this year (the car in which I still dream about every night), the F-Type V8 convertible and now the supercharged V6 XJL, I’ve come to the conclusion that Jaguar has become my favorite luxury brand of 2014. Jaguar has proven time and time again that – at least on the higher end – they produce the best pound-for-pound luxury vehicles in the game. Props!
Power: 340 hp
0-60: 6.1 sec
MPG: 16 City, 24 Hwy
Miles Driven: 350
This little matte Mercedes packs some punch.
Story & Photos: Evan ‘Evo’ Yates
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Edition 507 coupe is one of the most badass little two-doors on God’s green earth. The C63’s formula is pretty straightforward; cram a massive V8 into a fairly small car and add all the necessary components to keep it on the road. Mercedes did a wonderful job at making all said components work in unison to create a vehicle that performs like a track car with show car looks.
At first glance, the 507 Edition looks like a custom ride with its matte paint, aftermarket-style 19-inch wheels and custom hood. In regards to the matte paint specifically, I don’t know why more companies don’t opt to try this on their higher-end models as it adds so much to a car like this accentuating every razor sharp bodyline. The aggressive styling works so well on this beautiful Benz because it parallels the performance with perfection and its rare that the two attributes are in such harmony as one is usually lacking in vehicles like these.
In regards to performance, the 507 Edition C63 is just plain nasty. The throaty, deep exhaust note surprised me ever time I started the car and the muscle-car rumble coming from such a small car always brought a grin to my face. The beastly exhaust note remains strong throughout the power band so long as you have the balls to keep your foot on the gas. Speaking of acceleration, the only red mark in regards to the performance is the transmission. I may have had it in the wrong mode or been driving in sub-optimal conditions but there seemed to be a lag in switching gears when I planted the pedal to the floor and after high speed sessions it struggled to downshift back into the proper gear. Thankfully, the C63 AMG 507 Edition has the AMG Performance Braking System, which certainly came in handy following feats of rapid acceleration. Around corners the C63 feels like a competition go-kart, yet it’s still possible to push it too far as it likes to do a little tail-wagging at times. That being said, quickly turning out of your neighborhood may scare the crap out of everyone as you accidentally drift up the street.
The interior of the 507 Edition is attractive, sporty and definitely exudes the supercar vibe as the seats look and feel like racing buckets while upholstered in porcelain and black Nappa leather. And even though the coupe is fairly small, I was able to seat four adults (two women in the back) fairly comfortably on a short trip. The dash and multimedia system were pleasing to the eye and fairly easy to use while not being over-bearing.
And of course, all this awesomeness comes at a price. Even though the base C63 AMG coupe is a solid $62,750, the Edition 507 and all of its exterior and interior options yield a grand total of a whopping $87,885 before taxes. Is it worth the jump in price? If you’re looking for the best pound-for-pound naturally aspirated lil’ coupe in the game, I’d have to say yes.
Power: 507 hp, 450 lb.-ft.
0-60: 3.8 sec
Gas Cash: 13 City, 19 Hwy
Miles Driven: 350
Mercedes looks to take on BMW with new GLE Coupe.
Mercedes-Benz is combining two classes of vehicle – each with its own distinct style – to make a new model, the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe. The sporty nature of a coupe dominates, imbued with the striking characteristics of a robust SUV. In addition to convincing on-road vehicle dynamics, the GLE Coupe looks impressive as well. With its flowing side contour, elongated and low greenhouse, striking radiator grille with central chrome louvre and rear end design, the GLE Coupe cites styling features typical of particularly sporty Mercedes-Benz models. In the U.S. market, the Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 AMG 4MATIC Coupe features a biturbo V6 engine that produces 362 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque. In addition to the generous amount of standard equipment, the DYNAMIC SELECT dynamic handling control system, the Sports Direct-Steer system and the driver assistance systems typical of the brand, the GLE 450 AMG 4MATIC Coupe comes standard with the 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission and 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive.
The GLE Coupe is the new addition to the successful portfolio of Mercedes-Benz coupes. Alongside the classic, two-door C, E and S-Class models and the four-door CLS- and CLA-Class coupes, the new coupe displays a highly individual interpretation of the physiognomy and light-footed approach typical of this family of vehicles. For example, the GLE Coupe displays attributes typical of coupes such as sportiness, dynamism and agility, while also exuding the self-assured presence, versatility and ruggedness of an SUV.
Don’t call the Lincoln Navigator “old.” Call it “stalwart.” Call it “enduring.”
By Will Sabel Courtney
Because this class of car—which is stretching the “c” word to its limit, but I digress—is, at the end of the day, not about hyperspeed performance or the novelty of new gizmos and gadgets. Sure, luxury buyers like power, and they like technology. But at the end of the day, people but gargantuan SUVs because they want to feel indestructible.
And that’s how you feel when you’re driving the Lincoln Navigator.
A big chunk of that can be chalked up to the redwood-sturdy (and redwood-old) body-on-frame chassis, as well as a seating position high enough to give you agita when passing through tunnels. But that feeling of invulnerability also stems from the new-for-2015 powerplant sitting beneath that Iowa-sized hood—Ford’s 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6. Packing 380 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, it the twin turbo six makes the Navigator something you never thought it could be: quick. Even with the big Lincoln loaded down with four adults and a fair amount of luggage, the EcoBoost punts the Navigator along at extralegal highway speeds with nary a concern or a downshift. It’s easy to see why this engine’s all but replaced the V8 in Ford’s F-150 lineup; short of strapping the Shelby GT500’s supercharged eight-pot in there, no engine in Ford’s portfolio makes so much power so easily.
In addition to the new motor, the 2015 model year brought a few styling tweaks designed to bring the Navigator’s looks more in line with Lincoln’s new corporate face. It’s an improvement over the pre-facelift model’s “Hey guys, let’s throw the grille from the ’63 Continental on the SUV and see if it sticks” front end, but the 2015 model still fades into the crowd when next to competitors like the new Cadillac Escalade. Then again, Kim Kardashian covered in caviar and champagne wouldn't stick out as much as the 2015 Escalade. That’s all right, though—the luxury SUV market is large enough that there’s plenty of room for bold and subtle sport-utes. (Well, as subtle as a 17-foot long truck weighing more than three tons can be.)
The Navigator’s (comparatively) introverted looks hide a secret, though: this rig’s even bigger inside than you’d guess. Fill every row to maximum butt capacity, there’s still 18.1 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row—more than an Acura TLX. Plop the back row flat, and you’re left with seating for five—and as much cargo room as a Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class has on its roomiest day. And fold down the second and third rows of seats, you’re left with 103.3 cubic feet of cargo space—more than ten percent more than the Escalade. What’s more, the Navi feels bigger inside than Cadillac’s luxury liner from the driver’s seat.
Okay, the Navigator lacks some of the fancy tech features that have become de rigueur in the luxury car market: The transmission only has six gears, the car won’t warn you if you’re straying from your lane (let alone keep you in said lane), and if you expect the cruise control to haul the Navigator down when there’s slower traffic ahead, you’ll find yourself eating the back end of a semi very, very quickly.
But at the end of the day, a lot of those features are just frosting—very much appreciated, but no substitute for a good foundation. In spite of its years, the Navigator feels as beefy and big from behind the wheel as it always has. You can get laser-guided cruise control and lane-departure prevention and all-wheel steering and everything short of an autopilot button on luxury cars of all sizes these days. You only get that feeling of civilized invincibility from a three-ton SUV. That’s why the Navigator, old or not, still matters.
Oh, and the Navigator has 22-inch wheels. Which, not gonna lie, look really good on it.
2015 Lincoln Navigator
Price as Tested: $68,895
Power: 380hp, 460 lb.-ft.
MPG: 15 city, 20 hwy sigh
In case being James Bond wasn't cool enough the DB10 arrived to make sure.
Aston Martin took to the stage at Pinewood Studios to debut the new DB10 which will star alongside Daniel Craig and Christoph Waltz in the latest installment in the 007 franchise, Spectre. The DB10 joins a long line of Astons to appear throughout 007s storied history which began with the DB5 nearly 50 years ago.
For as nasty as the FXX K is it probably could have used a third X.
FXX-K, the new research and development programme being embarked upon by Ferrari with a highly select group of Client-Test-drivers, will be unveiled next weekend during the Finali Mondiali at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.
The programme centres around a laboratory-car based on Maranello’s first hybrid, LaFerrari. The K in the new car’s moniker refers to the KERS kinetic energy recovery technology used to boost performance on the track. The FXX-K joins the non-competitive XX Programmes managed by the Corse Clienti Department in Maranello and thus far aimed at the owners of the exclusive FXXs and 599XXs.
Unfettered by homologation and racing regulations, the FXX K was developed to be completely uncompromising, incorporating technological innovations that will guarantee an unprecedented driving experience.
The car’s enormous potential can be summed up in a few short but telling figures: an overall power output of 1,050 cv of which 860 are punched out by the conventional V12 engine with the remaining 190 cv delivered by the electric motor, plus total maximum torque exceeding 900 Nm.
A focus on delivering maximum efficiency at every stage of every track lap has resulted in extensive but integrated work on the entire car body in terms of both active and passive aerodynamics.
The FXX-K also incorporates highly effective downforce generation and aero balance concepts debuted and developed in the GT category of the WEC, which Ferrari won on three consecutive years. The result is downforce of 540 kg at 200 km/h.
Vehicle dynamics are further improved by the adoption of Pirelli slicks complete with sensors that monitor longitudinal, lateral and radial acceleration, as well as temperature and pressure. This ensures an accurate analysis of the interaction between the tyre and track surface, providing even more vital data to enable the traction control system to guarantee maximum performance.
Acura is Honda's luxury line, but does the TLX bring the luxury and performance?
Story by: Will Sabel Courtney
There’s a little-known secret hidden beneath the skin of the Acura TLX. Underneath that chrome “A” badge, that hawk’s beak front end, and those sweeping rear haunches…there’s the skeleton of a Honda Accord. Acura doesn’t talk much about this—they’re a luxury brand, trying to sell a luxury product, and nobody sells a luxury product by reminding everyone of how much it shares with a more plebeian item.
But just because Acura doesn’t mention it doesn’t mean it’s something to be ashamed of, because the Honda Accord is a damn fine car. And the new TLX is, simply, a faster, fancier Accord—which turns out to be one hell of a good proposition.
If the TLX name sounds vaguely familiar, it should—it’s a portmanteau of “TSX” and “TL.” Which makes a lot of sense, as the TLX itself is basically a portmanteau of those two (now discontinued) cars in Acura’s lineup. It’s sized right between the two models—which were based on the European- and U.S.-market Accords, respectively. It’s big enough to fit a family of four, (even if the back seat is a bit tight for a second set of six-footers) but small enough to slip into parking spaces like a mouse into a hole.
More importantly, it drives like a Honda. The TLX has the sort of deliciously complex personality the best Hondas have: patient and content in the daily grind of traffic, but willing and alive when the road opens up and turns twisty. It’s that remarkable set of characteristics that makes for an ideal daily driver - a flexible engine, a Goldilocks suspension, a strong chassis - and they’re characteristics the TLX has in spades.
The entry-level TLX comes with a 206 horsepower inline-four that connects exclusively to the front wheels through an eight-speed dual-clutch torque converter automatic, an unorthodox arrangement that Acura claims eliminates the jerky off-the-line shifts that DSGs can be known for, even though everyone from VW to Porsche makes DSG-equipped cars that get around the problem. (I’d complain about Acura making this more complex than they need to be, but I fear they’d retaliate by throwing a CVT in the TLX instead. So I’ll just shut up.)
Upper-level TLXs, however, come with Acura’s tasty 3.5L V6—a direct-injected, VTEC-packing engine that makes 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft. It seems Acura’s bought into the trend of packing as many cogs into the gearbox as possible, as the V6 TLX comes with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Which is two too many to shift manually, in this car guy’s opinion, but luckily the transmission’s shift logic is smart enough that you rarely need to take matters into your own fingertips. Nine speed-equipped cars also come with a push-button shifter that looks straight out of a Ferrari, so…that’s a plus.
The shifter’s not the only thing that feels lifted out of some high-dollar exotica, though. Like the hardcore metal rolling out of Woking and Maranello these days, the TLX comes packed with techno-wizardry designed to make it handle better than it should. Acura’s awesomely Japanese-sounding Super-Handling All Wheel Drive is tops on that list, constantly redirecting power between the four wheels not only to enhance traction, but to fight understeer by pushing extra power to the outside rear wheels while taking turns. It’s a little unnerving the first time it really kicks in—the car suddenly seems to take a tighter line than expected, leaving the driver momentarily startled. Learn to trust it, though—which means keeping your foot down through the turns—and the SH-AWD pushes the TLX through with speed that verges on, well, super.
The TLX’s standard Integrated Dynamics System adds to the good times, too. Unlike a few similar systems from car companies who I’m too polite to name here, the different levels of Acura’s IDS actually feel different: “Econ” makes the car feel like Ben Stein sounds, “Normal” feels passively unremarkable, “Sport” feels active and alert, and “Sport+” makes the TLX feel like it’s had six cups of coffee on an empty stomach and it’s ready to go, right now, c’mon, let’s tear some shit up, dude! It’s too extreme for anything short of actual 8/10ths-or-faster driving, just like Porsche or AMG’s sportiest dynamic setting. Which means it’s awesome, and I love it.(On the minus side, though, “IDS” sounds like some sort of gastrointestinal disorder.)
The TLX isn’t just a backroad hustler, though; it’s a solid interstate cruiser, thanks to a smooth (if pleasantly firm) ride and a nicely-designed interior…with the slight exception of Honda’s confusing bifocal screen center stack and its occasionally maddening controls. (Why are the controls for the upper screen located below the lower screen? Why do I get a physical volume knob, but have to endlessly tap the touchscreen to tune the radio? Why does the giant top screen still not display the entire name of a song when ninety percent of its screen space is going unused?)
But like any infotainment system, you get used to it. And once you do, you’re left with a sedan that ponies up the best of both the sporty and luxury worlds—and that costs barely more than $45,000 fully loaded. A BMW 335i xDrive specced to match costs about $15,000 more. And the repairs will cost more down the line, too. That’s a deal that’s hard to beat.
Now, Acura—how about cranking the red line up to eight grand to pull another 60 horsepower out of the engine and giving us a TLX Type-S?
Model Tested: 2015 Acura TLX V6 SH-AWD with Advance Package
Price as Tested: $45,620
Power: 290 hp, 267 lb-ft
MPG: 21 city, 31 highway