SUV Spotlight: Range Rover Sport SVR

Range Rover SR 7

Range Rover Sport SVR ©Jaguar Land Rover Limited

While the Range Rover Sport SVR isn’t new for 2016, I felt as the fastest Land Rover ever produced, it deserved its turn in the Automobheels “SUV Spotlight”.   This baby did the infamous Nurburgring in a cool 8 minutes and 14 seconds, giving it one of the fastest times ever recorded by a SUV in standard production.

Range Rover SVR 7

Range Rover Sport SVR ©Jaguar Land Rover Limited

Many car consumers like to take a look at the inside of a vehicle. They are interested only in the creature comforts it can offer.  Does it have heated seats?  Does it have a sunroof?  Does it have navigation and streaming audio?  Does it have programmable seats and mirrors?  While I am a fan of all of these features, first and foremost, I want to know what lurks beneath the hood.  I don’t care how many features a car has, if it is gutless, I want no part of it.

Range Rover SVR 6

Range Rover Sport SVR ©Jaguar Land Rover Limited

The SVR delivers on everything.  Her contoured hood houses a beast of an engine, the range-topping 5.0-litre supercharge V8, producing 550PS and 680Nm.  The accompanying ZF 8HP70 8-speed automatic  transmission and four-wheel-drive chassis help keep the beast in line, no matter what the weather conditions.  She’ll do 0-60mhp in 4.5 seconds and maxes out at an electronically controlled top speed of 162mph.  Working in tandem with the powerful engine, the transmission shift strategy is constantly monitoring the acceleration, brake inputs, lateral cornering forces, kick down requests and gradient severity to choose one of the 25 pre-determined programs to ensure the SVR seamlessly adapts to the driver’s behind the wheel behavior and road conditions.  The transmission also allows for driver control by offering paddle shifters along with the standard gear lever.  Drivers can easily swap between automatic and manual mode.

Range Rover SVR Interior

Range Rover Sport SVR Interior ©Jaguar Land Rover Limited

Some would say given the amount of attention given to the engine, the refinement and luxury might have been slightly overlooked.  Not so, it delivers again on all fronts.  The SVR has received several enhancements to its exterior.  The front bumper has been fitted with beefy looking trapezoidal air intakes, while the hood receives Range Rover script, revised vents and a new grill.  Further contouring the vehicle, the side has been fitted with new, distinctive moldings, while the back has been given a high level spoiler and SVR-unique quad exhaust pipes.  At first glance one might think these revisions were for visual effect only.  However, Land Rover made no adjustments that do not serve a specific purpose.  The larger air intakes on the front allow for more airflow to the charge air coolers that channel air into the engine, the new front bumper’s NVH comb is fitted to ensure wind noise is reduced, along with front-end lift, allowing the front tires to retain a high level of grip, and the rear spoiler reduces lift and balances the new front bumper.

Range Rover SVR Interior2

Range Rover Sport SVR ©Jaguar Land Rover Limited

The SVR is available in seven colors, including the SVR exclusive Estoril Blue.  A contrasting Santorini black roof comes standard and works with the body-color side moldings, giving it an intimidating look and feel. Throw in the comfy, yet distinctive leather sport seats and the interior gives the driver the ultimate high-performance vehicle experience.  The interior is available in four rich colors with standard aluminum trim detail.  Carbon fibre trim for the door panels, center console, dashboard and steering wheel is optional.

Range Rover Sport SVR

Range Rover Sport SVR ©Jaguar Land Rover Limited

“The Range Rover Sport SVR is the ultimate in premium performance,” said Land Rover Design Director and Chief Creative Officer, Gerry McGovern. “Crafted by Land Rover’s ‘Special Vehicle Operations’, its performance-focused design revisions clearly differentiate the most powerful Land Rover ever produced from existing derivatives with its ground-hugging, assertive stance and additional road presence. This striking evolution retains the trademark DNA for which the Range Rover Sport is so widely acclaimed.”

With a base MSRP of $111,350, the price does limit the amount of consumers able to take advantage of the enviable performance, engineering and style this SUV delivers.  However, for those of you who do have over a hundred grand to drop on a mode of transportation, little else will get you where you want to go as quickly or as fiercely.  Happy Driving.

2015 LA Auto Show Highlights

It’s that time again.  All things new and exciting in the automotive world have descended on the LA Convention Center for 10 glorious days.  Since today is the first day doors will open to the public, I thought it fitting to share some of this year’s not-to-be-missed highlights.  Also, be sure to check the blog in the coming days, as I cover these vehicle debuts in more depth.

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Volvo Concept 26

#1: Volvo’s Concept 26
As someone who has spent way too many hours of my life in traffic, this was by far the most mind-blowing thing I saw at the auto show.  While I am a driving enthusiast, I have to say, the thought of being able to literally kick back and catch up on my Netflix while being squired around the stand-still streets of Los Angeles by my autonomous car had me practically turning cartwheels in front of the exhibit.

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Mercedes SL Roadster

#2: Mercedes SL Roadster
Mercedes is hoping the latest generation of the SL series will bring the luxury roadster segment back to life.  With its sleek lines and powerful performance specs, there is no doubt it will be a desirable option for those in the market for a two-seat roadster.  While launching this beauty in the fun-loving California market is a stroke of genius, it remains to be seen whether the $100,000 roadsters can make a comeback in light of our new economic realities.  If they do, the 2017 SL550 will most certainly be leading the charge.

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Audi E-Tron Quattro Concept

#3: Audi E-Tron Quattro Concept
After months of teasing, Audi finally revealed its beautiful, all-electric, luxury class sport SUV.  During the big reveal, Audi not only issued a mea culpa for the TDI debacle, but vowed to take the brand to the forefront of the electric mobility platform.  Boasting three electric motors and a 0-60 time of 4.6 seconds, if the E-Tron Quattro Concept delivers what is promises when it hits the market in 2018, it’s will not be hard to take Audi at their word.  This concept is definitely worth stopping by the Audi booth to see in person.

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Jaguar F-Pace

#4: Jaguar F-Pace
Five years ago I met with a Jaguar representative at the LA Auto Show and asked if they had any plans to make a Jaguar SUV.  He laughed and pointed to the multiple Land Rovers and Range Rovers on display and said, “There are our SUVs…right there”.  Well turns out he was wrong, because on press day, Jaguar revealed their brand new luxury sports utility vehicle, the F-Pace.  Taking inspiration from it’s sports car brother, the F-Type, the F-Pace is the total looks and performance package for the soccer mom wanting to make a statement.

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Mazda CX-9

#5: Mazda CX-9
Mazda has finally finished its complete fleet overhaul with the unveiling of the all-new CX-9.  The last in its fleet to get a facelift, the new body style is all class.  It’s a bigger, roomier and higher performing version of the CX-5.  Packed with style and fun, this one is sure to be a hit with the family circuit.  While not as sexy as the F-Pace parked a few stalls away, it provides quite enough style for the practical price tag that comes with it.

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If you have some extra time, be sure to stop by the Toyota booth to check out the Back to the Future display featuring Marty McFly’s 1985 Toyota Tacoma, as well as a DeLorean-inspired Toyota Mirai, complete with gull wing doors and a Mr. Fusion.

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I also recommend trying your hand at the Dodge Viper Challenge.  Climb inside an actual Dodge Viper and race around a simulated track at top speeds.  Ask for the manual mode and you’ll feel like you’re actually flying around the racetrack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Porsche Boxster Spyder Premiere: NYC

2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder Photo Credit: Porsche

2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder Photo Credit: Porsche

This week Porsche debuted the latest incarnation of the Boxter Spyder at the 2015 New York International Auto Show, just in time for convertible weather. According to the press release, Porsche is characterizing the car as a “pure sports car”.

From a performance perspective, the Boxter Spyder is right on par. They’ve given it a firmer suspension by lowering it 20mm, given it the 911 Carrera S braking system, better steering and a beefier 3.8-liter horizontally opposed six-cyclinder engine that will now deliver 375 hp instead of the 265-315 hp found in the 2014 model.  This lady has also lost some holiday weight and is the lightest and most powerful Boxster to hit the assembly line yet.  She’ll do 0-60 mph in 4.3 seconds and top out on the track at 180 mph, which means you’ll definitely feel the wind whipping through your hair.

2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder Photo Credit: Porsche

2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder Photo Credit: Porsche

What I find less impressive about this car is the still manual top.  If I’m paying $82,000 for a car, I’d like to be able to push a button and have the top lowered for me.  Another issue for me is that neither air conditioning nor a radio are standard equipment. According to Porsche this ensures the Boxster still retains its “traditional roadster character”.  The car is lighter weight without the aforementioned characteristics, so from a performance perspective, a die hard would happily give up these features.  For me, I need an automatic top, some tunes and cool air to accompany my need for speed.  The saving grace is an audio system and air conditioning are available at no extra charge for those who don’t mind a little extra weight.

2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder Interior Photo Credit: Porsche

2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder Interior Photo Credit: Porsche

One thing I do love about this model is it’s only available in a manual transmission.  I know you LA drivers are probably cringing, thinking of battling traffic in a manual. However, I applaud Porsche for this decision.  Real sports cars should be stick shift and they should be driven by people who know how.  As nice as the new dual clutch automatic transmissions are, there is just something about an old-school manual transmission.  YOU are in full control of the car and YOU say when it’s time to shift gears.  For me, that is the ultimate driving experience, and Porsche has taken great care with this model to ensure their consumers get it.

2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder Photo Credit: Porsche

2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder Photo Credit: Porsche

I also think this is the most beautifully designed Boxster Spyder to date.  The lines are elegant and refined and Porsche kept it classic by paying tribute to the 718 Spyder of the 60’s with the streamliners that extend along the rear lid behind the headrests.  They also made sure to keep the vehicle’s silhouette in tact with the fins that stretch from the top to the rear and with the front and rear fascias.

Overall, the look and styling of the car make it appealing, as does the faster engine. Porsche continues to keep its cars uniquely “Porsche”, which is perfect considering that’s why most people buy the brand.  If you’re okay with putting the top down with your own two hands, then based on the specs, this could be the car for you.

BMW: X5 M and X6 M Burst onto the Scene

The all-new BMW X5 M and X6 M.  Photo credit BMW

The all-new BMW X5 M and X6 M. Photo credit BMW

When BMW unveiled the new X5 M and X6 M at the LA Auto Show, they did so with the amount of fanfare enthusiasts would expect.  There was a moment of silence as the crowd waited with baited breath, which was quickly drowned out by the roar of the M GmbH engines.  BMW’s two new lovely ladies then made their way elegantly from behind the stage, allowing their adoring press to gaze on them with admiration.

X5 M.  Photo credit BMW

X5 M. Photo credit BMW

X5 M.  Photo credit BMW

X5 M. Photo credit BMW

With the new X5 M and X6 M, BMW combines the successful DNA of the X line with the high performance set aside for the M branch of the family tree.  Both cars post up huge performance numbers.  They’ll both do 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.2 seconds, utilizing the 8 speed M Steptronic transmission.  The new M TwinPower Turbo engine is the most powerful ever to sit beneath the hood of a BMW all-wheel-drive model.  The new engine technology uses a pair of twin-scroll turbochargers, cross-bank exhaust manifolds, Valvetronic and High Precision Direct Petrol Injection.  The 4.4 Liter V-8s boasts 575 hp, a four percent increase over previous models.  Maximum torque has also been elevated by 53 lb-ft, which is an increase of 10 percent.  The added power can be felt over a large RPM range, 2,200-5,000.

These stats are even more impressive when you take into consideration fuel consumption has been reduced by a whopping 20 percent.  This makes the new BMW models not only fierce, but better than expected economically.

X6 M.  Photo credit BMW

X6 M. Photo credit BMW

X6 M. Photo credit BMW

X6 M. Photo credit BMW

The design of these cars is equally well thought out.  No attention to detail is spared.  Exterior modifications include large air intakes on the front end, side grills with a model badge and Air Breathers, signature M exterior mirrors, four-tailpipe exhaust system, and a rear spoiler on the X6 M.  The X5 M and X6 M also come with two brand new paint choices exclusive to M, Long Beach Blue metallic and Donington Grey metallic.

X5 M Interior.  Photo credit BMW.com

X5 M Interior. Photo credit BMW.com

The interior is classic M, which will not disappoint enthusiasts. M instrumentation, leather steering wheel with aluminum gearshift paddles and M gearshift lever all go quite nicely with the M sport bucket seats for driver and passenger.

Looking at these vehicles up close, it’s evident BMW took quite a bit of time and care when designing both.  While they are in the Sports Activity Vehicle and Sports Activity Coupe classes, respectively, the design outside and in is pure sports car.

If the drive is as wonderful as I imagine it to be, these vehicles will take OC Soccer Moms to a whole new level.  Bye bye to the tired Yukon, hello Bavarian styling and engineering.