Tag Archives: Gallardo

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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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

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

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

C63 AMG gets engine, suspension improvements for 2012MY

1 Feb

By Matt McCarron

Mercedes-Benz has announced the C63 AMG will be enhanced cosmetically and feature new technologies for the 2012 model year. The C63 AMG will now feature the 7-speed AMG Speedshift MCT transmission, with a “controlled efficiency” mode that Mercedes says will improve fuel efficiency by up to 10 percent. The AMG MCT transmission is currently featured on the SL63 AMG.

2012 C63 AMG with AMG Performance and Development Packages.

2012 C63 AMG with AMG Performance and Development Packages: Courtesy of M-B USA

Another new feature for the 2012MY is the addition of the AMG Development package, currently available on the SLS AMG.  Purchased in conjunction with the AMG Performance package, the development package will offer improved performance and handling.

The stock engine output will be increased from 451 horsepower to 481 due to forged pistons, connection rods and lightweight crankshaft, borrowed from the engine in the SLS AMG. The development will offer special cosmetics as well, including a titanium gray intake manifold, AMG performance braking system with red-painted brake calipers, a carbon fiber spoiler on the trunk lid and the AMG performance steering wheel.

The suspension will be yet another part of the C63 AMG to be revised for the 2012MY. Mercedes AMG has changed the front axle, rear axle and has widened the rear track, resulting in increased responsiveness and agility. The front damper and springs have been improved too.

The 2012 C63 AMG is scheduled to make its U.S. market debut in the fall of 2011.

© 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

3 States, 200 Miles, Averaging 110 MPH: 2010 Gumball 3000 Rally

6 Dec

Video by Matt McCarron and Ben Knight

Here is a video from the 2010 Gumball 3000 Rally, which traveled from Boston, Mass. to Quebec City, Quebec, Canada on May 4, 2010.

© 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