707 BHP! Introducing the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

244047_DG015_160CLI’m not sure if it’s due to my older age, spending lots of years living on this side of the Atlantic, or being able to enjoy the burble of a big V8 more readily than when I was growing up, but American muscle cars hold my attention a lot more now than they ever did before.

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And here’s one that is screaming for attention – the Dodge Challenger SRT with the Hemi Hellcat engine option. It has 650 lb.-ft of torque to go with it’s 707 bhp, and the guys at Dodge were so concerned it might be a little much that they supplied two different key fobs with the car – one that unleashes everything the engine has got, and another one that limits the output to a more manageable (!?) 500 bhp if you’re handing over the keys to your friends or kids I guess.

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You can pick one up at your local Dodge dealership starting in Q3 of this year. Just in time to scare the neighbors for halloween I guess.

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Isle of Man TT Course Record – Subaru STi

If you’ve ever seen those crazy bike guys go around the TT course on the Isle of Man, you know they’re a little crazy. Slightly less crazy (purely for the fact that they have an extra metal layer surrounding their body) but no less skillful are the rally drivers who hit the same circuit in search of a little fun and glory.

Mark Higgins broke the lap record two weeks ago driving a new 2015 Subaru WRX STI on the treacherous 37-mile course with an average lap speed of 117.510 MPH and a time of 19 minutes and 15 seconds, and this is the video of that lap. Things get a little tight in some spots – definitely has way more guts and skill than I’d ever have. Enjoy!

Jaguar F-Type Project 7

Jaguar spun up a Special Vehicle Operations (SVO for short) group last year (Harry Metcalfe of Evo fame went over there). They’ve stayed pretty quiet until they had something to shout about, so coinciding with the Speed Festival at Goodwood, news of a major first project is trickling out, along with this video. I would suggest you turn it up loud….

First Reviews of M3′s are trickling in

And it’s pretty much as expected – pretty spectacular but the steering doesn’t have much feel is the brief summary.

BMW M3

Car and Driver first drive is here and if you subscribe to Evo (or I think just have their iPad app) they have a comparison test for some reason as their first go at this car (with a Jag F-Type Coupe).

New York Auto Show 2014

I was lucky enough to be working in NYC when the annual car show came around this year. I of course made some time to head over there one night, and take a wander around all the shiny toys. Some highlights – seeing the M3 and M4 in the flesh, along with a Porsche 918. Plenty of pics now follow for your viewing pleasure. (and apologies for the lack of updates here – if you couldn’t tell, I started a big new project which means little time for anything outside of work for the past couple of months).

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Louis Vuitton Luggage (and an i8)

i8 BMW with luggage You didn’t think I had changed tack with this website and moved from cars to more general luxury goods did you? Of course, I know nothing about luggage (so all the text below is from the press release), but why miss the opportunity to put up a pic or two of the i*

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Inspired by the visionary design of the BMW i8, the bags and cases – like the sports car’s innovative passenger cell – are made entirely from carbon fibre. This particularly lightweight yet extremely sturdy high-tech material has been used by Louis Vuitton to create a special textile. It provides great robustness and strength, and as such is made for the rigours of travel – no matter how long and arduous the drive.

i8 luggage set

The understated carbon-black of this luggage range matches the colours of the
BMW i8. Its sophisticated look comes courtesy of the unmistakable chequered Damier pattern – a Louis Vuitton hallmark – and a laser-etched Louis Vuitton signature. Black and electric blue used in the microfibre lining take their cue from the trademark brand colours of the BMW i8 and bag handles are made from dyed natural leather, a sign of Louis Vuitton quality. All items in the collection come with leather name tags and the iconic Louis Vuitton padlock.

i8 interior luggage

Audi S3 Convertible

Audi S3 ConvertibleI’ve always admired the Audi convertibles – the S4 and S5 always seemed to look just right in a way the BMW equivalents never quite managed. Adding to their repetoire is now the S3 Convertible, about the be officially released at the Geneva Motor Show.

Audi S3 Convertible front side

Using a tuned 2.0 TSFI engine pushing out 300 bhp’s and 280 lb/ft of torque (or in typical German fashion, the note from Audi actually said 280.27), it retains the sporty S3 suspension.

Audi S3 Convertible Rear

The open-top four-seater has a soft top with an electrohydraulic drive. Magnesium, aluminum and high-strength steel keep its weight low and a highly insulating foam layer in the roof reduces the noise level in the interior. The top is available in three colors and it opens or closes in 18 seconds, even while driving at speeds up to 30mph. An active rollover system protects passengers in the event of an accident, but hopefully you won’t find out how it works.

Audi S3 Convertible Interior

Given it’s an Audi, all-wheel drive is standard, as is the 6 speed S Tronic transmission that goes with it. It looks like there will be no manual option for this car, although there is a launch control function so you can win the all important traffic light race. Not sure on release date for the US yet (or I guess the confirmation that it’s going to make it over here even), but you can buy one for about 50,000 euros in Germany this summer.

Chris Harris and a McLaren P1

How could this be anything other than epic?

New VW Scirocco – US Bound?

Scirocco R 2014 BlueWhile the press release doesn’t confirm it, it does leave the door somewhat open to the option at some point in the future. Here’s what they say

“The sports car will be launched initially in Europe from the middle of August. Shortly afterwards, the other high-volume markets such as China, Argentina, Turkey, Australia, Russia and South Korea will follow.”

My theory is if VW can find a way to make it worthwhile to export the beautiful cousin of the Golf to South Korea, there must be a way to get it over to the good old US of A you’d think? Or maybe I’m completely wrong  - only time will tell.

VW Scirocco 2014 Rear Blue

In the meantime, let me give you a few of the details of the new model.  The external characteristics of the Scirocco “2014″ include its newly designed front and rear sections with redesigned H7 or bi-xenon headlights and LED rear lights. The rear and now swivelling VW logo was designed as a handle for opening the boot lid. The interior is equipped with sport seats and a leather sport steering wheel as standard, while the sports car also features new materials and colours. New technical features include the Dynaudio Excite sound system developed specifically for the Scirocco and the park steering assistant (ParkAssist). Also new on board as standard are auxiliary instruments (charge pressure, chronometer, engine oil temperature) which pay tribute to the original Scirocco.

VW Scirocco R 2014 Interior

What is of more interest (to me anyway) is the Scirocco R – pushing out around 280 bhp, it’ll be the high performance model of the range, with a suitably beefed up suspension and upgraded interior. No performance figures just yet – I guess we have to wait a couple of months before this gets in the hands of some testing equipment.

Front Scirocco R VW Blue

McLaren 650S

mclaren_650s_coupeSo you’re one of those guys who think the 12C is just a little too slow and soft for you, but you weren’t quick enough on the trigger for a P1. You’re in luck, McLaren has the perfect answer for you (well, apart from increasing the production run on the P1 of course). It’s the 650S.

02_mclaren_650s_coupeAvailable in both coupe and spider form (I assume coz they’re using the same carbon bucket approach as the 12C so shaving off the roof doesn’t really impact the strength of the car), it will be officially released on March 4th at the Geneva Motor Show, but there’s plenty of details that sneaked out early.

06_mclaren_650s_coupe_5The McLaren 650S is designed to be the best and most engaging driver’s car in its class, yet it is not a stripped out road racer. Ride comfort and refinement are to executive saloon standards. The McLaren 650S models are equipped with IRIS satellite navigation with Bluetooth telephony, DAB digital radio (SIRIUS satellite radio in North America), wireless tethering, audio streaming and voice control as standard, while also offering enhanced levels of optional specification than previously offered. Options include fixed-back carbon racing seats, based on the lightweight design found in the McLaren P1™, an electric steering column adjustment assisting ingress and egress, a rear parking camera and extended carbon fibre throughout the interior.

07_mclaren_650s_coupeThe 650S badge designation refers to the power output – 650PS (641 bhp), – of the unique British-built McLaren M838T twin turbo V8 engine. ‘S’ stands for ‘Sport’, underlining the focus and developments made to handling, transmission, drivability and engagement.  Performance figures will be confirmed ahead of the Geneva Show but will improve on the already rapid 12C which continues on sale.

05_mclaren_650s_coupeThe McLaren 650S builds on experience from success on the track, and groundbreaking technologies fitted to other McLaren models, such as active aero in the form of the “Airbrake”. The newly developed system means the Airbrake deploys whenever the car senses extra downforce is advisable – rather than simply under braking or when manually operated in ‘Aero’ mode. Below the Airbrake, a distinctive rear three-piece bumper, similar to the GT3 racing version of the 12C, compliments the aerodynamic shaping of the McLaren 650S.

03_mclaren_650s_coupeAnyway, after being given a taster of some initial P1 reviews, and seeing these pics, I’m going to carry on saving my pennies for a while. This looks like it might be pretty damn close to the top of my list….