Tag Archives: Ferrari

Drive Review: Ferrari F430 vs. Audi R8

19 Sep

Scuderia Ferrari. No other name in the world of motorsport evokes the same level of pedigree, prestige and exclusivity as cars emblazoned with the famous Ferrari prancing horse. With 15 drivers’ championships and 16 constructors (manufacturers) championships in Formula 1 alone their reputation for winning is unsurpassed. So, when I had the opportunity to pilot on of their modern sports cars I didn’t hesitate.

Now, before I go on a longer rant about Ferrari you need to realize that as a journalist I need to be fair in my evaluation and assessment of both vehicles featured in this comparison. You also should know that Ferrari isn’t the only manufacturer with a laundry list of top-tier accomplishments at some of the world’s best automotive competitions.

Audi was founded in Germany by August Horch in 1909, a full 20 years before Enzo Ferrari established his own company in Maranello, Italy. And, although the Ferrari nameplate is synonymous with victory, it has been the company with the four rings that has dominated the world of endurance racing. Audi has claimed the overall title at the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans in 11 of the 13 races at the French track since 2000.

So, has all of the experiences these manufacturers have amassed on the racetrack really translated into their road cars. The answer is a resounding one, YES.

Both the F430 and R8 were driven on two different occasions at the Imagine Lifestyles autocross track at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. This allowed me to fairly test each car on an identical track.

The particular R8 I drove in June was an earlier production version that was equipped with Audi’s 4.2-liter V-8 engine, as opposed to the optional 5.2-liter V-10 found in the limited-production R8 GT. Because of this I had a total of 430 horsepower available at my disposal, compared to 525 with the larger V-10. Both engines have plenty of torque of tap, but I found these naturally-aspirated, rear mid-engine monsters really have to be revved up high to squeeze all the juice out. At W.O.T. (wide open throttle) the sound of the Audi all-aluminum V8 was wonderful, but it doesn’t match the sheer scream of the Ferrari’s V8, but was certainly satisfying.

The V8 in my R8 was mated with the optional six-speed R-Tronic automatic transmission. And, as I quickly realized the combination of the V8, R-Tronic tranny and Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system was a perfect combination of the tight, twisty corners of the autocross track. This was the first all-wheel drive vehicle I had even driven and I was smitten with just how good Audi’s quattro system really was. Behind the wheel I felt confident as I made my way around the course. The feeling of the all-wheel drive transferring power from one wheel to another depending on the situation presented. The transmission was in fully-automatic mode (not my choice), and while I didn’t get to test out the paddle shifters to maximize the power of the engine it performed well nonetheless. The biggest qualm I had with the R-Tronic was that upon applying full load the transmission took long than expected to kick down to the proper gear before launching the car forward.

The Ferrari was very similar in many ways to the Audi, with the main difference being it was a spyder (convertible). It performed well, but it had recently rained so the track was wet. Because of this I was unable to push the Ferrari as hard as I had with the R8, and thus it affected the test. It featured a high-revving V-8 that was only one-tenth of a liter larger (4.3-liter) than the R8. The F430 had a 53 horsepower and 27 lb-ft on the R8, but the difference was minimal considering the Ferrari was rear-wheel drive and the R8’s all-wheel setup allowed for less wheel spin and greater traction. Although in rain-mode the F1 transmission was much quicker and more razor-sharp than the R8’s R-Tronic box.

When thinking of the final verdict on these two cars it was hard to come up with a solid conclusion, especially because of the major difference it weather that had a large impact on the drive. I enjoyed the all-wheel drive of the R8 and the engine and transmission of the F430. The interior of the R8 was far superior to the F430, which had a ton of tan leather, but lacked the stylistic design of the R8 and felt almost plain. While the engine sound and transmission was better in the Ferrari, when I put all the pieces together I found myself drawn to the Audi. I attribute this to the style and setup of the track and the stark differences in New England weather. If the sky had cooperated and the venue had been large and more spread out with room to stretch the cars legs the outcome very well might have been different. I guess I just have to spend some more time in these wonderful machines.

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Imagine Lifestyles Autocross Review

16 Sep

Many dream about driving or owning an exotic car. The aggressive looks, powerful engines and legendary names like Ferrari and Lamborghini are all something car nuts want. But unless you’re friends with the rich kid in the neighborhood or have plenty of disposable income your chance of getting into ones of these machines is slim at best. Unless of course you take part in something such as Imagine Lifestyles autocross event at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

THE COMPANY

Imagine Lifestyles is a luxury rental and charter company based out of multiple major metropolitan locations throughout the United States; including Miami, New York and Chicago. Their website states they offer everything from exotic car and yacht rentals to private jet charter and concierge services. However, for this review we’ll stick to the automotive driving events, or as Imagine Lifestyles calls them “Ultimate Driving Experiences.”

What is Autocross?

For those who are unfamiliar with what autocross is, it consists of a series of cones that are set up in a relatively tight configuration. At autocross competition the goal is to navigate the course in the fastest time without hitting any of the cones. Imagine Lifestyles isn’t exactly like that. Yes, there are still cones and they are set up to form a course, but you’re not racing either the track or anyone else.

The Venue

The Imagine Lifestyles Boston autocross event was held at Gillette Stadium, a place known more for New England Patriots football than automotive events. Ideally the event would be held at a slightly larger open area in the area, such as the United States Army base at Fort Devens in Ayer, Mass., a site for many autocrosses throughout the summer and fall months. However, since Devens is a popular location it was probably easier to rent out one of the large lots surrounding Gillette. I have taken part in Imagine Lifestyles’ autocross events twice, once in June and on Saturday. In both cases the track was set up in lot number 10, directly across from the main entrance from Patriot Place and Gillette Stadium.

The Cars

This is why you come to events like this, so they better be up to par. Thankfully all of the cars Imagine Lifestyle had at both events were what they should be. While walking to the entrance I even noticed a mobile detailing company cleaning one of the cars before it was set to take to the track. That’s a good thing because track time, from the bits of rubber from tires and other factors can do a number on a vehicle. All of the cars were in excellent working order and performed as expected. In addition to maintaining their vehicles they also had a decent lineup of different models and manufacturers to choose from. The event on Saturday only offered Ferraris and Lamborghinis, but among them was a Ferrari 599 GTB, two F430’s (one coupe and one spyder) and a F430 Scuderia. The Lamborghinis consisted of Gallardos, both hard and soft top. The one disappointing things was the fact that the Scuderia sat parked in the corner of the lot. I was hoping to drive it, and later learned that the vehicle was used later in the day when the weather improved. At the event in June there was a larger selection of manufacturers to choose from including an Audi R8, Mercedes SLS AMG in addition to the Ferraris and Lamborghinis.

The Driving Instructors

While you navigate the course you have a driving instructor in the passengers seat. Both instructors I drove with were both knowledgeable and knew what they were doing. Some of the staff claimed that the instructors are “professionals.” This title is somewhat misleading. You won’t find Michael Shumacher, Walter Rohrl or Tony Stewart giving you driving tips. They aren’t so much professional drivers as they as very experienced drivers who have been taking part in autocross and other high performance driving events for years. Professional might be a little stretch, but the instructors are all fully qualified for the job and provide useful information for getting around the track fast, safely and efficiently.

The Staff and Event

All of the individuals working at the Boston event were polite and performed well. There were plenty of “please” “thank you”  and “how was your ride.” The lines were relatively short and moved at a decent pace. On the Imagine Lifestyles website it says to allow adequate time (2-3 hours) from the time you arrive until you leave. The amount of time you wait will depend on what time you sign up for and what car you want to drive (Lamborghinis and Ferraris are popular). I have never waited even an hour and a half for the entire process. Sadly, the amount of time you spend driving the car all boils down to a couple minutes at most. The track isn’t very long and if you drive at a good pace the three laps goes by very quickly. You can purchase an additional three laps ($89), but even six laps doesn’t last long. The event takes place rain or shine, so if it pours (Saturday) then you just have to make the best of it.

The Cost

When you purchase the package on a daily deal website such as GroupOn it says $500 value. It’s not worth that, nor would I recommend anyone pay that to take part in an event such as this. Prices vary. The first event in June cost $159, but that isn’t the only thing you have to pay for. Autocross track insurance is required for anyone who is going to drive. Cost ranges from $49, which gives you $50,000 in coverage with a $5,000 deductible, up to $99 that covers you for the entire cost of the vehicle ($250,000) and only has a $1,000 deductible. If this freaks you out don’t despair. There is really no need to buy anything except the basic $49 insurance. The only thing you can hit are rubber cones, a chain link fence and a few light poles (you would have to have thing go very wrong to hit the latter two.)

The Verdict

If you’re looking to get a special birthday, graduation or other unique gift for the car-crazed person in your life then this would be a good thing to get them. The cost, while not cheap is not going to break the bank either. The Boston location at Gillette Stadium is a good location due to its generally located in the state and isn’t overly far from the North Shore, South Shore, Cape Cod or Metro Boston. The cars are fun to drive and you leave with a satisfied feeling that makes you want to drive more. On a scale of one to 10 I’d give the Imagine Lifestyles autocross event a 7.5/10, with the main downsides being it cost some $$ and it doesn’t last long.

© 2012 GermanAutoNews

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An icon in motorsports, the BMW 3-series.

15 Sep

By Matt McCarron

BMW M3 GT2 Art Car Design By Jeff Koons: Courtesy BMW Group

In the world of motorsports specific names instinctively come to mind. Manufacturers such as Ferrari, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche have developed a reputation on their ability to transfer on-track victories into the successful marketing and sales of production cars. As the saying goes “win on Sunday, sell on Monday.”

Few vehicles in automotive history have done this more effectively than the BMW 3-series. Since the first 3-series rolled off the assembly line on May 2, 1975 its race and road-going cars have been inextricably linked. BMW Motorsport GmbH, which was established in 1972 began racing the new 3-series as soon as they were able to produce a track-ready vehicle. By 1978, just three years after the car’s initial launch, the 3-series had already cemented itself as a perennial title contender in a number of races and championships.

The close relationship between road and track versions of the 3-series would again make its presence known in 1985 with the introduction of what would become one of the most successful touring cars in history, the BMW M3. Again, it didn’t take long this special motorsport-derived version of the 3-series to make its way to the racetrack. In 1987 the E30 M3 began racing in touring car championships throughout Europe. The E30 M3 would go on to claim a total of 1,436 victories throughout the world, including the two titles in the no-holds-barred Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM), two European Touring Car Championships (1987, 1988) and the World Touring Car Championship in 1987.

1987 Zakspeed BMW E30 M3: Courtesy BMW Group

Besides winning overall manufacturers and drivers titles the BMW 3-series has also become a staple in long distance endurance races such as the Nurburgring 24 Hours. Multiple generations and variations of the 3-series, from the 320i and 325i to the M3 GTR V8 and M3 GT2 have claimed the crown at the ‘ring and other prestigious racetracks around the world.

More than 35 years have passed since the 3-series was first unveiled to the world. Although the manufacturers and drivers have changed the philosophy for BMW’s most popular model line has not wavered. BMW continues to enter the 3-series in a number of racing series in both the United States and abroad. As in years past, 2012 will mark a new chapter in the history of the renowned 3-series. Following years of absence BMW will return to the German Touring Car Championship with the all-new BMW M3 DTM.  In addition the 3-series will continue to be raced by BMW factory teams and private operations in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and the Grand-Am Road Racing Series.

BMW M3 DTM Concept Car: Courtesy BMW Group

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What is your favorite car?

20 Jun

As automotive enthusiasts we are constantly evaluating what’s popular in the auto industry, but we want to know what your favorite vehicle is. If you had the chance to choose one car, any car, which one would it be and why? Let us know. Leave a comment on our Web site, Twitter or Facebook pages.

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com

BMW M CEO Kay Segler confirms carbon-composite brakes on F10 M5

3 Feb

By Matt McCarron

BMW Motorsport CEO Kay Segler announced on Jan. 31, in an interview with the Canadian media company Sympatico that the upcoming F10 M5 will have an option for carbon-ceramic brakes, something M5 owners have been longing for since the debut of the E39 M5.

Courtesy of M-B USA

The E39 M5 is a great automobile, with impeccable, classic BMW styling and a 5.0-liter,400 horsepower, V8 engine that blew away the competition at the time. However one of the aspects of the car, any car, the brakes, seemed to be inadequate. The E39 M5 is a heavy car, weighing over 3700 lbs. Therefore slowing down and stopping a 3700 lbs car, capable of reaching a top speed of 185mph (delimited) can be quite a task. This is especially the case in any type of racing or hard driving conditions. The E39 M5 came from the factory with four-wheel vented disc brakes measuring 13.6-inches in diameter in front and 12.9-inches in the rear. Because of this many enthusiasts who own a E39 M5 have invested in aftermarket brake rotors from companies such as StopTech, APRacing and Brembo.

The next generation of M5, the E60 featured cross drilled, vented disc brakes. However BMW still did not have  carbon-ceramic brakes as an available option. While BMW Motorsport chose not to invest in this equipment, their competition; Porsche, Audi and Mercedes-Benz did. Mercedes-Benz offer they own ceramic-composite brakes as an option through the AMG Performance Studio. They are available on the SLS, E63 and CLS63 AMG models, the latter two being some of the primary competitors to the F10 M5. Porsche has their Porsche ceramic-composite brake (PCCB), and available on all 911 models.

With the announcement from Segler BMW M looks like they have made a commitment to stay on par with the competition, and are still aware of the demanding nature of M owners. The new BMW ceramic-composite brakes will definitely be a good thing, even if they cost you your first child. After all, every M cars since the E30 M3 has increase in weight and power. With more power and weight behind today’s vehicle it’s more important than ever to be able to decelerate the car quickly and maintain control.

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com

The 911’s sinister sister: The Porsche Boxster S Black Edition

2 Feb

By Matt McCarron

Just days after the unveiling of their newest special edition vehicle, the 911 Black Edition, Porsche has done it yet again, this time with the Boxster S Black Edition. Much like its big brother, the 911, this Boxster will offer unique features, but more importantly, more horsepower.

The new Boxster will feature a long list of interior improvements and changes over the regular Boxster S. Namely a number of trim pieces, such as area around the gear selector for the PDK seven-speed double clutch transmission. If you choose the old-school 6-speed manual transmission the area around the shifter will be painted in black. Another special feature the Boxster share with the 911 is the use of aluminum and stainless steel trim pieces. All of these interior and exterior visual enhancements are courtesy of the standard Design Package, an option on other Boxster models. The Black Edition Boxster also features the optional Convenience Package as standard equipment. This package as such goodies as the includes Bi-Xenon headlights with dynamic cornering function, a wind deflector, auto-dimming interior and exterior mirrors, rain sensor and automatic climate control. But wait, I’m not done. This plentiful Porsche also has the Infotainment Package, giving the driver a host of entertainment options at their fingertips, literally. The package adds a touch screen Porsche Communication Management system (PCM), Bose surround sound stereo system as well as XM satellite radio.

Now to the area which really matters, weight and horsepower. The Boxster S Black Edition features an additional 10-horsepower from its 3.4-liter six-cylinder engine. The end result is 320 hp at 7,200 rpm and 273 lb-ft at 4,750 rpm. Not only do you get added horsepower, but the fuel economy doesn’t suffer. Coupled with the PDK seven-speed double clutch transmission, the special Boxster S get an estimated 20 city and 29 highway. The 6-speed manual offers 19 city and 26 highway respectively. In the weight department this Boxster S has been on a diet. It features the lightest 19-inch wheels in the Porsche repertoire, and a lightweight spring-strut suspension.

All in all the Boxster S Black Edition appears to be a very good value for the money, $65,200 MSRP. You get more horsepower, more features and optional packages for less money. Porsche says that compared to the MSRP of a similarly equipped Boxster S, the Boxster S Black Edition saves the customer $3,200. And that sounds like a good deal, especially when you drive out of the dealership with a special edition Porsche, your left hand on the steering wheel, your right on the gear selector and $3,200 in your back pocket.

2012 Porsche Boxster S Black Edition: Courtesy Porsche North America

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

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Pushing the boundaries of performance and fuel efficiency

1 Feb

By Matt McCarron

High performance and fuel efficiency are not something that tend to go hand in hand. However, German manufacturers, particularly Mercedes-Benz AMG and BMW Motorsport have embarked on a new quest. It’s no longer acceptable to have the car with the most horsepower and torque, or the one with the largest displacement engine. In today’s ever-evolving high-performance race to produced the world’s best super sedan, it’s much more important to leave the competition in the dust, and do it in a cleaner and more fuel-efficient manner.

There are three German manufacturers who produce a high-performance version of their standard family hauler. And although all three, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW can claim to have the highest performing and cleanest burning engine, and subsequently the best vehicle, this comparison will only focus on two of the three. The major reason for this is because the Audi RS6 isn’t offered for the U.S. market. The Audi S6 is a very capable vehicle in its own right, but it really can’t compete with the likes of the CLS63 AMG and upcoming BMW F10 M5. For the record, the Audi RS6 officially gets a combined 17 mpg in Europe and is powered by a 5.0-liter twin-turbocharged V10, producing 580 hp at 6,250 rpm and 479 lb-ft of torque at 1,500 rpm.

The new 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged AMG engine: Courtesy of M-B USA

Mercedes AMG seems to have fired the first shot in the latest super sedan war. In November 2010 Mercedes AMG revealed their all-new 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine, replacing it’s predecessor, the 6.3-liter naturally aspirated V8. The 5.5-liter twin turbo offers a 33% increase in fuel efficiency over the 6.3 NA, resulting in an estimated 16 mpg city and 21 mpg highway. The 5.5-liter also produces more horsepower and torque, with 518 hp and 516 lb-ft respectively, 550 hp and 590 lb-ft with the optional AMG Performance Package, as opposed to the 507 hp and 465 lb-ft from the old power plant.

Although Mercedes AMG has been the first out of the gate in the sedan race for the U.S. market, their competition, namely BMW Motorsport have been busy in the secretive depths of Munich and Garching, preparing their answer to the 2012 CLS63 AMG, the all-new BMW F10 M5. Although details of the upcoming ‘bahn-burner have been numerous, few have been concrete. However there are certain things that seem to have been figured out. The F10 M5 will be powered a highly tuned version of the 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine that currently powers the X5M and X6M. Horsepower estimates range from the upper 500’s to even 600 hp.

BMW F10 M5 at Netherlands airport - Courtesy Autojunk.nl

In a September 2010 interview with Kilometer Magazine, BMW Motorsport CEO Dr. Kay Segler said the F10 M5 will reduce CO2 emissions by 20-25 percent. “We had very clear targets, and we worked toward those targets. Twenty to twenty-five percent less CO2 output, day-to-day car and a pure sports car in one, and a beautiful design as well,” said Segler.

The location of the F10 M5 debut is still uncertain. However one thing is for certain, the fast-paced race to produce the greatest super sedan seems to be escalating, and is getting more intense with each passing day. Unfortunately, the verdict on the world’s best super sedan will have to wait for the foreseeable future, or at least until enough automotive journalists have had the chance to drive the F10 M5 to make an educated decision.

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com

Video Courtesy of M5board.com