Tag Archives: V10

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

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 560 HP Audi R8 GT Spyder, the most expensive R8 to date

2 Feb

Audi R8 GT Spyder: Photo Courtesy Audi USA

Audi has introduced their newest version of their top-of-the-line sports car. The R8 GT Spyder and its hard-top sibling are the most powerful R8 ever produced, it’s also the most expensive. With a base MSRP of $213,800 (inlcudes $1,200 destination fee and $2,100 gas-guzzler tax) the special-edition drop-top costs $38,650 more than the regular 5.2-liter Spyder. But what do you get for an additional 38 grand?

Well, just as with the R8 GT Coupe the Spyder will be limited to only 333 units worldwide, with 50 coming to the U.S. Beside the exclusivity you get an upgraded 5.2-liter naturally-aspirated V10 that ups the peak horsepower from 525 to 560. The added power is transferred to the road via Audi quattro all-wheel drive and a six-speed R Tronic sequential gearbox.

Audi R8 GT Spyder: Photo Courtesy Audi USA

More horsepower is always a good thing, but it’s useless if their is too much weight. To improve the power to weight ratio engineers have eliminated over 187 lbs with an engine frame made from lightweight magnesium along with carbon fiber-reinforced polymer and carbon fiber composite used heavily throughout the vehicle.

On the road the Spyder will be more agile and nimble due to a sport suspension with stiffened calibration. This tweak also lowers the GT Spyder by 10 millimeters.

The first deliveries of the Audi R8 GT Spyder are scheduled to take place this month. If you’re in the market for this four-ringed beauty you better hurry as only 50 units will come to our shores.

Interior of the Audi R8 GT Spyder: Photo Courtesy Audi USA

© 2012 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

Lighter and more powerful: The Audi R8 GT Spyder

7 Jun

By Matt McCarron

Audi R8 GT Spyder: Courtesy Audi North America

There is a reason most high-performance vehicles are conceptualized as a coupe before a convertible. Not to mention that owners often opt for the hard top rather than a soft top. Convertibles usually cost more to produce, to purchase and are also inherently heavier. This added weight results in a loss of performance. Not something most want to hear after dropping over six figures on a vehicle.

However, the Audi R8 GT Spyder has managed to turn the above notion on its head. Not only has the supercar refused to add any weight, it has gone on a strict diet of carbon fiber, ultra-light magnesium and aluminum.The R8 GT Sypder is literally covered in carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP). The cover over the soft-top compartment, large rear side panels use CFRP, as well as the fixed rear spoiler and the redesigned front spoiler and rear bumper.

Body panels are not the only pieces of the vehicle that have received special treatment. The interior seats, composed of glass fiber-reinforced polymer save a remarkable 69.45 lbs. The result of all this ultra lightweight technology is a total weight of just 3,615.58 lbs. That’s 187.39 lbs less than the regular R8 Sypder 5.2 FSI quattro.

Audi R8 GT Spyder rear view: Courtesy Audi North America

The R8 GT Sypder shares the same 5.2-liter V10 as the R8 GT coupe. It produces 560 hp and 398.28 lb-ft of torque at 6,500 rpm, allowing the R8 GT Spyder to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 3.8 seconds and reach a top speed in excess of 196 mph. All of this horsepower and torque is transferred to the wheels via a standard automated six-speed R tronic transmission with two fully automatic modes and an additional manual mode. The R tronic transmission also gives the driver the option of using launch control for blistering acceleration from a stop, with gear shifts taking only one-tenth of a second.

As with all models of the R8, the R8 GT Spyder features Audi quattro all-wheel drive. So yes, you can rip around corners and through the twisties with added ease. On top of the all-wheel drive system the driver can have the added security of knowing there is an upgraded aluminum double wishbone suspension and lightweight carbon-fiber ceramic brakes. That being said, if you really want to let loose you just put the Spyder into sport mode, effectively deactivating the ESP stabilization program.

As with the GT coupe, the R8 GT Spyder will be limited to 333 units worldwide, with no more than 90 making their way to U.S. shores. If you want one you better act fast and have deep pockets. All 333 examples of the GT coupes sold out long before they were even built and you can expect the same to be true for the Spyder. Pricing for U.S. spec car has not be released yet. However, judging by the German base MSRP of 207,800 euros, you can expect the U.S version to cost in the area of $304,000.

Interior Audi R8 GT Spyder: Courtesy Audi 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

2012 Mercedes Benz C-Class Coupe to debut in Geneva

13 Feb

By Matt McCarron

Following its television debut during Super Bowl XLV, Mercedes-Benz said information on the new 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe would become available during mid-February, and it didn’t take long at all. Keeping with their word, Mercedes released details for the new two-door C-Class on Feb. 13.

The 2012 C-Class coupe is poised to make its world debut at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show on March 1. True to form, the C-Class coupe will be offered in two variations. The entry level C250, will be powered by a turbocharged, 1.8-liter, inline four-cylinder engine, producing 201 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 229 lb-ft of torque between 2,200-4,300 rpm. The upper level model C350 has a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 302 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 273 lb-ft of torque from 3,500-5,250 rpm. Both power plants will be paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission.

2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe: Courtesy M-B USA

The 2012 C-Class coupe will offer a number of improved communication and design features, allowing the driver to keep in contact without sacrificing safety or driver appeal. Some of the improved communication aspects include larger displays, phone book transfer, wireless streaming Bluetooth audio and a USB interface now located in the center armrest. The Sirius weather information and “Comand” navigation systems allow the driver to access maps and directions via Google maps, or transfer previously uploaded files from a PC directly to the vehicle.

Even though the C-Class coupe offers optional features, giving the driver access to the latest in-car technology, many Mercedes-Benz owners expect a certain level of quality and finish when purchasing a vehicle from the German manufacturer, whether it be in an entry-level C-250 or a top-of-the-line C63 AMG. The 2012 C-Class coupe is no exception. The interior of the C-Class coupe is tastefully adorned with metallic trim pieces, adding a feeling of class and elegance to the two-door coupe. The instrument panel’s three cylindrical rings are finished in a metallic hue, along with many of the controls and central and side air vents.

The 2012 C-Class coupe is an all-in-one package, combining sporty handling, a classy interior and aggressive styling. The MSRP should be expected to range between low-30 and 40K range. The 2012 C-Class coupe is expected to arrive in U.S. dealerships and showrooms in September.

© 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