Alfa Romeo’s Giulia makes us giggle it’s so much fun …
Rare is the sports sedan, or any car, that makes you giggle when you tromp on its gas pedal. Rare too is a car that makes your friends envious.
Corvettes have become too common, Jaguars too mainstream, BMWs too numerous. No, for something special you want an Italian sports car, preferably in red and preferably with a sexy sounding name. You want something not everyone of a certain economic standing has.
Today, that car is an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. That’s Giulia, as in the woman’s name, Julia. And the Quadrifoglio? Well, that means four-leaf clover, which is emblazoned on the car’s front quarter panels. More on that in a bit.
Alfa Romeo embodies Italian car history, especially its racing history. It’s who Enzo Ferrari worked for, or with, before Ferrari became Ferrari. Despite its long history the Italian make pulled out of the U.S. market in 1995 and only recently, along with its parent, Fiat, has come back.
Giulia is the car it needs to regain a foothold in the American market and from a performance standpoint it is an absolute home run. Or in the sporting vernacular of its homeland, GOOOOOOOAL!
With any sports car, or sports sedan, one must start with the power plant. Alfa snags a 2.9-liter bi-turbo V6 created by Ferrari and it is magnifico! It’s strong and sings like one of the Three Tenors, a thing of beauty. Continue reading 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio→
Lotus Exige S exudes sportiness even in 1/18 scale
British sports cars used to rule the world’s road courses with the likes of Jaguar, Aston Martin, Austin Healey, Triumph, and Lotus slicing through corners to give their drivers a thrill. Speed wasn’t always so essential, but handling was key.
Lotus always has prided itself in creating lightweight, crisp handling cars. But today speed and power are more important than in the formative 1950s and ‘60s, and that’s what makes the Lotus Exige S a highly sought after sports car.
Now Autoart creates a beautiful one in 1/18 scale, the sample car being a bright yellow with black interior. However, the Exige S also is available in red or white; all retail for $130.
The mid-engine Exige, built in Hethel, England, has been around since 2000, with the first S model appearing in 2006. Exige is now in its third iteration, or Series 3, which is what Autoart’s model portrays. A Series 2 version also is available from Autoart. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart’s Lotus Exige S→
When Ford first owned Jaguar, the storied maker of racy touring coupes and sedans, the British car maker was in a serious slump.
Then along came Ian Callum and designs returned to near classic proportions, one being the sleek and sexy XKR-S coupe. By the way, Callum also styled the Aston Martin DB7 and Vanquish, and you’ll note the noses look similar to the Jag, or is it the other way round?
In either case, Autoart brings the XKR-S to life in Italian Racing Red and 1:18 scale, with strong detail inside and out. Pricing also is reasonable for such detail and a 1:18 model with opening hood, doors and trunk, at just below $150.
The XKR-S was introduced in 2005 and production didn’t end until this past summer. Folks liked its looks right away with an oval grille that reminded many of the 1961 E-Type. They also liked its power and refinement. The XKR-S touts a 550-horse supercharged 5.0-liter V8 with a 0-60 mph time of just 4.2 seconds and top speed of 186 mph. That’s faster than any of us need to run a car, but I can vouch for 110 mph coming up quickly as I got to test drive an XKS-R at Road America. Check out the video link here.
Jaguar’s image has been polished, tarnished and polished several times, but its history of racing success, generous power and spirited road manners, along with an expectation of gentlemanly comfort, endures.
The restyled XJL does nothing to dispel the legend, with its muscular but trim lines, big chrome grille and vertical tail lamps. But there are some surprises, too.
First, this is a large sedan with mammoth interior that will accommodate five adults with NBA length legs. The XJ’s long-wheelbase model features a limo-like 124.3-inch wheelbase, or somewhere between Chevrolet’s big Tahoe and Suburban SUVs for wheelbase, and they aren’t small. Overall length is sizeable too. In fact, a Tahoe is more than four inches shorter in lengthy. Trust me, this Jag is roomy.
Jaguar’s engine creates 340 horses, which may sound mild for a Jag, but since the car is light for its size, just 4,153 lbs., the car feels relatively nimble. The surprise to long-time Jag devotees may be that there’s no V8 in this model, but the 3.0-liter V6 is supercharged. That gives you quick power when you need it, but doesn’t tax your gas mileage too much in normal stop and go driving.
The XJL, and this one had all-wheel drive (another surprise), is rated at 16 mpg city and 24 highway. I ran it about 60% highway miles and got 20.1 mpg. That’s good for the size and power of the vehicle, plus it being all-wheel drive.
Acceleration is smooth and strong with the Jag’s 8-speed automatic transmission delivering seamless shifts. My only concern with the drivetrain is the gas-saving “intelligent stop-start” feature. Like a hybrid, the Jaguar’s gas engine shuts off at stoplights or nearly anytime you’re stopped in traffic, or at a drive-up window, etc. When you take your foot off the brake, the engine automatically refires. Both on the shutdown and the startup there is a noticeable shudder that seemed less refined than I’ve felt in various hybrids. Several riders commented on it, saying they would be disappointed in that shake after paying roughly $85 grand for such a luxury yacht.
That’s right, the XJL starts at $83,700 and with only a delivery charge, no options, hit $84,595. This, apparently, is the price for merging luxury and notable styling.
But while there was that hiccup when the engine shuts off to save fuel, the powertrain and the interior are incredibly quiet. This may be the quietest car I’ve driven in several years. With the car stationary and running I got 64 decibels on an iPhone app that my friend loaned me. That jumped to only 67 when a friend’s daughter played her French horn just outside the car in a sound test we did for my You Tube video review. Outside, by the horn, the decibels hit a peak of 118.
Land Rover’s LR4 designed to hit the trail … off trail
Outside of the panache that driving a Land Rover delivers, due to their relative rarity among the sea of sport-utility trucks that cover our roads, the main reason to buy one is to go off-roading.
You say you don’t plan to go off-road with your $50+ grand truck? Well, you may want to reconsider if you like the looks and price of a Land Rover, formerly a British firm that now is owned, along with Jaguar, by Tata Motors of India.
The tested dark gray (Corliss grey, Rover calls it) LR4 is the mid-level Rover ute that starts at $49,995 in its base form. But this was the mid-level HSE model, so lists for $54,220 and comes loaded with goodies galore, plus its highly developed 4-wheel-drive system that lets you crawl over boulders if you care to dash about the outback.
Standard on all LR4s is a system that allows you to dial in four personalized 4-wheeling options, the standard one working best on pavement, naturally. You also can go for snow, sand, mud or rocks (and they mean serious ones, not gravel). This is easily accomplished by pressing one of the 30 buttons on the center stack and console. There also are five knobs there too for climate and radio controls, so a bit of overkill.
Detailed D-Type Jaguar a replica of 1955 LeMans winner
Jaguar was a post-war powerhouse with its C-Type sports cars that won France’s famous 24 Hours of LeMans twice in a 3-year period.
The C was a straightforward sports car with a long nose and a 3.4-liter straight-6 that made 220 horsepower.
But by 1954 the competition, mainly in the form of Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari, was stepping up and Jaguar needed a new design that was lighter and faster, so its D-Type was developed with a distinctive stabilizer fin and airplane technology that included a monocoque cockpit and an aluminum alloy to keep the car light.
Its shape was aerodynamic too, thanks to the design work of Malcolm Sayer, plus its frame was strong and rigid. Other developments included a dry sump lubrication system, canting the engine at 8.5 degrees and a deformable aviation style bag in place of a standard gas tank.
Jaguar kept the underbody clean too in an effort to boost top speed on LeMans’s famously long Mulsanne Straight, where racers today can hit 250 mph. In 1955 the Jag was reaching 172 mpg vs. about 160 for other competitors. The C Type had been capable of about 120 mph. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart LeMans-winning D-Type Jaguar→
One of my favorite early toys was a Jaguar XKE, a metallic red Matchbox car. I loved it for its shape, that long lean hood and its rounded tail. It was exotic.
I’m not alone in my love for the early 1960’s E-Type, it was a landmark design that stirred the automotive world, and still does. The E-Type was unveiled at the 1961 Geneva Motor Show to rave reviews and the early Series 1 Jags, made from 1961-’68, are noted collector cars, even if their electronics were a bit sketchy.
Now comes Autoart’s long-awaited version in 1:18 scale, and while it will be available in a variety of colors, the review model is a glorious Carmen Red – perfect!
For the record, the rear-drive E-Type featured a 3.8-liter DOHC 6-cylinder engine with aluminum head and twin cams and three SU carbs. While it might not seem like much today, the Jag punched out 265 horses and delivered a top speed of 150 mph – exotic indeed. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart E-Type Jaguar→
Supercharged Rover strong on power, luxury, off-road ability
Dating myself here, but imagine a Crocodile Dundee type character intoning, Luxury Ute? Now this is a Luxury Ute as he points to a large, muscular Range Rover SC.
The Aussie accent may seem appropriate too as Land Rover, the firm that makes Range Rovers, was for years a part of the British Empire. Now, it and Jaguar are part of Tata Motors, a large Indian manufacturing concern. India too was part of Mother England’s empire, but that’s just coincidence we suspect, when it comes to Tata’s interest in Rover. Still, Range Rovers continue to be built in England.
Rover offers several models, but the Range Rover SC equipped with a monster 5.0-liter supercharged V8 is top dog. The supercharged motor creates a Corvette-like 510 horsepower, but this off-road capable truck starts at a highly immodest $99,100 with an $895 delivery charge. That’s $100 grand in my book.
I know, I know, you’re wondering what could be worth that sort of money when perfectly good off-roading luxury utes like Jeep’s Grand Cherokee, and others, can be had for half that.
Well, a lot comes down to how you want to be perceived as you trundle into the country club parking lot or the yacht club, yet the Rover does offer a lot. However, I can tell you how you’ll be greeted at gas stations, with open arms and welcoming smiles. You’ll be leaving a rather large deposit any time you fill up. Continue reading 2014 Land Rover Range Rover 5.0 V8 SC→