All posts in “luxury”

Only Watch 2021 welcomes Zenith’s Defy 21 Double Tourbillon Felipe Pantone Edition.

A few months ago, French automaker and subsidiary of Renault Group Alpine announced a special collaboration with renowned Argentinian-Spanish artist Felipe Pantone. A master of multiple mediums, his designs have a street/graffiti vibe to them. Therefore, Zenith unveils a one-off timepiece – the Defy 21 Double Tourbillon Felipe Pantone Edition.

This exclusive model is an entry for the Only Watch 2021 charity auction. This is a biennial event wherein the world’s distinguished watchmaking brands present their one-of-a-kind masterpiece. All of these then go under the hammer with a huge chunk of the proceeds funding research on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

The Zenith Defy 21 Double Tourbillon Felipe Pantone Edition boasts a 46-mm sapphire case. It’s might not be the first or the only timepiece to flaunt one (see Hublot’s and Richard Mille’s previous outings), but the distinct style is enough to see bids skyrocket for this bad boy.

It seems the transparent dial is not enough as Zenith goes for a skeleton dial. Pantone’s artistic direction is visible all throughout as we see splashes of gradient metallic colors, patterns and more. Of course, the two tourbillons – one at 8 o’clock and another at 10 o’clock – heighten its allure.

Meanwhile, to see more of the El Primero 9020 self-winding movement in action, turn it over. The exhibition caseback shows the star-shaped rotor which continually tops up to power reserve, which is enough for 50 hours off your wrist.

Completing its profiles is a black silicone rubber strap with a titanium double-folding clasp closure system.  Zenith notes that the Defy 21 Double Tourbillon Felipe Pantone Edition includes a special box. Moreover, inside is a signed artwork from the man himself.

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Images courtesy of Zenith

Bugatti’s final Divo is a tribute to its last official Le Mans entry

Bugatti’s last official Le Mans entry served as a source of inspiration for its final Divo. The last unit in a sold-out 40-car run left the French firm’s headquarters wearing a blue livery that echoes the track-bound variant of the EB110.

Unveiled at the 2018 edition of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and priced at around €5 million (nearly $6 million) before customization options, the Divo stands proud as the first coachbuilt Bugatti released during the 21st century. It’s much more than merely a rebodied Chiron; it’s its own thing, and the two cars are technically different.

“As well as unique design, customers who buy a coachbuilt model enjoy a new, individual driving experience. Each small series undergoes the same degree of development as would a larger production run,” explained Pierre Rommelanger, the head of overall vehicle development at Bugatti, in a statement.

The final Divo’s anonymous owner wanted to channel the spirit of the EB110 that competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1994. Most of the exterior is painted in light blue, just like the race car, and the wheels are finished in gold. Parts of the lower body wear a darker shade of blue chosen to forge a link to the modern era, according to Bugatti.

Blue also dominates the interior. French Racing Blue and Deep Blue were used to wrap parts like the seats and the dashboard, though it’s interesting to note that the design isn’t symmetrical. The driver’s seat is lighter than the passenger’s seat. Elsewhere in the cabin, matte gray carbon-colored trim pieces provide a touch of contrast.

Spotting the final Divo won’t require a well-trained eye. Bugatti notes none of the 40 examples built were identical. Customers worked directly with the brand to customize the paint, the leather upholstery, the stitching, and the trim. What doesn’t vary from car to car is the engine: it’s an 8.0-liter W16 quad-turbocharged to 1,500 horsepower.

Selling cars is relatively easy; building them and delivering them on-time is harder. Bugatti ticked all three boxes, and the Divo project is finished. The one-of-a-kind La Voiture Noire (which reportedly cost $13 million) has been completed as well, so the French company is now working on bringing the EB110-inspired Centodieci to production.

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Aston Martin makes the DB11 and its configurator more powerful

Aston Martin sold 4,150 cars last year, but the luxury automaker said its configurator served up more than two million specification sessions. Going with the overwhelming numbers, for 2022 Aston Martin has focused on “the customer journey” for imminent and aspirational buyers by rolling out a new and highly featured configurator. At last, the firm greets potential customers and the merely curious with the kind of luxury one expects of the brand. This is especially important for a company working through its Project Horizon turnaround, and also because, as the official Safety Car and Medical Car sponsor of Formula 1, traffic to Aston Martin’s web site spikes every time its Vantage and DBX are called out on track during races.  

The configurator’s been built using Epic Game’s Unreal engine, a digital creation tool building portals for everything from real estate to fashion, supplemented by Nvidia GTX graphics. In the present Phase One, visitors can place their chosen model in studio or outdoor environments, with daytime or nighttime lighting, and get high-res, zoomed-in beauty shots of their their vehicle details. Yet while Aston Martin poured new features into the configurator, it has reorganized and simplified the site’s use. For instance, individual elements such as exterior paint are broken into six color groupings like Blacks & Greys and Bronzes & Oranges, providing users a glimpse at the range of hues on offer without overwhelming them into analysis paralysis.

The surfeit of choice carries on inside, naturally — there are eleven carpet colors on offer and 12 shades of headliner. The simplifying rationalization carries on in the cabin, too, with three themes available to establish a quick baseline for personalization. The starter theme is called Create, showcasing ornate stitching on the seat bolsters, perforated, patterned seatbacks, door cards, and arm rest. Next up is Accelerate, which “will appeal to customers who wish for a more focused interior.” This one puts Alcantara all over, notably on the entire seat faces and bolsters, with leather trimming the seat sides and headrests. Create and Accelerate can be had in ten colors in monotone and duotone arrangements. Inspire, the topmost theme and “the epitome of luxury,” can be had in 38 colors and in monotone, duotone, and light duotone. This one comes with “the very best of material and color choices,” even more ornate stitching and broguing, trim inlays, and — get this — seatback veneers for anyone diminutive enough to curl into the back seat of one of the coupes to enjoy them. 

As to the objects of configuration, Aston Martin has made a few tweaks to next year’s lineup. The DBX, which has provided half of the company’s sales so far this year, adds wireless charging and a new 23-inch wheel. The coupe formerly known as the DBS Superleggera becomes just DBS, and the V12 DB11 AMR sheds its AMR suffix, but nothing else. The 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 in the DB11 gets a 24-horsepower boost to 527 hp, and a higher 192-mph top speed. Drivers intending to use all of that puissance should option the new Sport Plus Seats which provide more shoulder, torso, and leg support. Finally, the DBS and DB11 can be had with new 21-inch wheel designs. 

The configurator is live now and has reported for service. Enjoy.

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Here’s the first Pininfarina Battista customer car

Pininfarina continues its slow drip of news about the electric Battista hypercar today with details about the personalization program and photos of the first Battista commissioned.

Above, you can see the Battista in question. Pininfarina didn’t reveal who the client was, but did say that the car’s appearance is “inspired by New York City.” The dominating exterior element is carbon fiber done in Iconica Blu thread. The carbon fiber is black, of course, but Pininfarina uses the Iconica Blu thread in it to make the car appear blue. It’s a rather dark shade of blue, but you can easily see the black carbon fiber weave underneath the paint, providing an extra pop. It drifts heavily into the ‘Murica theme with the red “Exterior Jewellery Pack” adorning the windows and side sills. Plus it also has hand-painted white stripes, adding some sparkle to the exterior. Pininfarina says the white paint for those stripes is named Bianco Sestiere Metallic.

The wheels are done in Dark Matt Grey and have a black center-lock ring to match the roof, rear diffuser and wing. Its final touch is a light-up Pininfarina logo in front made of brushed and polished anodized aluminum. Just like the owner of this Battista, anybody who orders one will get to personalize it from nose to tail. Pininfarina says its customization program allows for a total of 128 million combinations, so there shouldn’t be any Battistas that are exactly alike. You’ll choose from numerous paint finishes, carbon fiber bodywork, different exterior trims and so on.

Pininfarina didn’t show photos of this car’s interior, but it says the car will have black leather upholstery with Iconica Blu Alcantara inserts to match the exterior’s blue-and-black combo. Iconica Blu stitching is matched with more red and white stitching. Plus, it gets white seatbelts and the same Iconica Blu thread on the back of the carbon fiber seats. 

There are very few stones left unturned — even the chassis plate engravings can be customized to whatever you’d like. Only 150 Battistas will ever be built, says Pininfarina, and every single one of them will have the owner go through a customization process that puts them at the actual location of production — the Cambiano facility — to make all of their build decisions.

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Koenigsegg’s first Jesko is a tribute to one of its first cars

Koenigsegg released images of the pre-series Jesko it built to test on the 1,900-yard runway it owns next to its headquarters. The orange hypercar is the result of a massive development program that began years ago.

Unveiled in 2019, the Jesko is not simply an evolution of its predecessor. It’s an entirely new car, one developed by a relatively small company without the scale and the footprint of bigger carmakers, and it’s stunningly advanced. The graphics on its digital instrument cluster rotate as the driver turns the steering wheel, for example.

There’s a different kind of technology under the body. Power for the Jesko comes from a 5.0-liter V8 that’s twin-turbocharged to develop 1,600 horsepower and 1,106 pound-feet of torque when it’s slurping E65 fuel. Instead of using an electric compressor, Koenigsegg solved the turbo lag problem by fitting the Jesko with an air tank and a compressor that sends a 20-bar shot of air through the system to pre-spool it. It’s almost rocket science.

Follow the power flow out of the crankshaft and you’ll find a nine-speed automatic gearbox called Light Speed Transmission (LST) that has seven multi-disk clutches. These are just some of the features Koenigsegg’s pre-series Jesko will let test drivers experience.

While an airstrip is the ideal venue for testing acceleration, the one Koenigsegg has access to is too short to allow the Jesko to reach top speed. Even the three-mile runway at the Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds in Florida isn’t long enough. Simulations say the Jesko should hit 330 mph, but Koenigsegg still hasn’t figured out where to try it.

As to the livery, Koenigsegg founder Christian von Koenigsegg didn’t choose the orange hue after drinking a big glass of Sunny D or because he’s already looking forward to Halloween. It’s a reference to one of the Swedish company’s first cars, the CCR, which was presented to the public at the 2004 edition of the Geneva auto show in an eye-catching shade of orange named Lava Orange. It was featured in press images and later sold to a private buyer. It traded hands again at an RM Sotheby’s auction held in Milan, Italy, in June 2021, where it sold for €798,125 (approximately $942,400).

Only 14 units of the CCR were built between 2004 and 2006, meaning it’s an exceptionally rare sight. The Jesko will be more common. Production will be limited to 125 units globally, and all of them are already spoken for, though some were claimed by dealers hoping to offer a car to a local buyer, so it might not be too late to get one. However, we hope you’ve started saving: pricing starts at $3 million. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in the spring of 2022.

Porsche’s follow-up to the 918 Spyder hypercar turns up in the rumor mill

It’s been nearly a decade since Porsche introduced its last hypercar, the 918 Spyder, and a recent report claims the model’s long-awaited follow-up is almost ready. It’s so close that the firm has reportedly started taking orders.

Spike Feresten, a former Seinfeld writer and a Porsche enthusiast, spoke about the mysterious car with comedian and noted collector Jerry Seinfeld on his podcast. “Right now, if you’d like to, you can put a deposit down on a Porsche GT1,” he revealed without citing sources, according to Drive. “The rumor is, they’re going to announce this in August. There is going to be a new Porsche GT1 mid-engined special car that will follow in the footsteps of the Carrera GT and the 918,” he added. None of this is official, but some of it might not be as far-fetched as it sounds.

Porsche has vaguely discussed the 918’s successor on several occasions, though it significantly hasn’t confirmed it’s releasing the model, let alone provided a precise idea of when we’ll see it. If it’s indeed around the corner, we’re not surprised to find out the order book is already open. Carmakers routinely show new limited-edition models to their most loyal (and wealthiest) clients before revealing them to the public. That’s why many hypercars are sold out by the time they break cover. And, we have every reason to believe production of the next 918 will be limited.

Presenting the car in August makes sense, too. Monterey Car Week is back on the calendar, after all. Porsche could hold a private unveiling, or it could introduce the model at one of the dozens of high-octane events, like The Quail.

What the rumored GT1 will look like is still up in the air. It could be related to the 911, like the 1996 911 GT1 was, or it could be an entirely different beast. One inspired by the 680-horsepower hybrid prototype Porsche will enter in endurance races starting in 2023, perhaps? Or, something along the lines of the 919 Street built in 2017 and first shown in 2020? It’s too early to tell. However, we know Porsche wasn’t out of ideas when it came to improving or replacing the 918, it shed light on four never-before-seen hypercar prototypes in late 2020, and some of their genes could get spliced into the new project. What’s seemingly certain is that it won’t be purely electric; the German firm hinted in 2020 that it’s not interested in following companies like Lotus and Rimac into the EV hypercar segment.

At this point, anything is possible, including Porsche steering well clear of the hypercar segment in the foreseeable future. If the report is accurate, additional details about the flagship will undoubtedly emerge in the coming weeks.

Featured Video

Lamborghini bids farewell to the Aventador with the LP780-4 Ultimae trim

Early in 2011, Lamborghini debuted a new model to replace the outgoing Murciélago as its flagship supercar. The Aventador took center stage and has been the brand’s ambassador since then. After a decade of awesomeness, another machine is ready to replace it. Before that happens, the manufacturer prepares to give it a proper send-off with the LP780-4 Ultimae.

Collectors should keep an eye out for this exclusive release which will be available in convertible or coupe configurations. Lamborghini will build only 250 and 350 examples of each respectively. Translated form Latin, the name means the last, which is exactly what it will be for the Aventador line.

As such, it’s only fitting that the prestigious marque goes all-out with the spec sheet. As others put it, interested buyers can look forward to SVJ-tier performance in a more modest silhouette. Meanwhile, there are also talk about the Aventador the LP780-4 Ultimae being the final Lamborghini supercar to pack a traditional combustion engine.

Just like many of its fellow high-performance luxury automakers, electrification is inevitable. With all-electric platforms eventually taking over, the company will be making the emission-free shift soon. For now, owners can expect remarkable upgrades that would put it above the entire Aventador fleet.

Its 6.5-liter V12 engine courses 769 horsepower with 531 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels. Lamborghini says the Aventador LP780-4 Ultimae can zip from a standstill to 62 mph in 2.9 seconds. Unique to its trim are the updated front and rear elements. Meanwhile, its active rear wing should keep it firmly planted as it tackles the tracks.

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Images courtesy of Lamborghini

Editors’ Picks June 2021 | Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sorento, McLaren 720S and more

A mix of crossovers and family cars were awarded Editors’ Picks status this month. Plus, we got into a Porsche and a McLaren that share in the accolades. We finally spent some quality time in the Kia Carnival, too, which was the only minivan missing from our minivan-heavy month of Editors’ Picks back in March. There were some near misses, with none closer than the updated Nissan Pathfinder.

In case you missed our previous couple Editors’ Picks posts, here’s a quick refresher on what’s going on here. We rate all the new cars we drive with a 1-10 score. Cars that are exemplary in their respective segments get Editors’ Pick status. Those are the ones we’d recommend to our friends, family and anybody who’s curious and asks the question. The list that you’ll find below consists of every car we rated in May that earned the honor of being an Editors’ Pick.

2022 Hyundai Tucson

Quick take: The new Tucson is a design marvel for the compact crossover segment, and its wide range of powertrains combined with big utility means it has the usefulness to be a great family car.

Score: 8

What it competes with: Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, Mazda CX-5, Kia Sportage, Subaru Forester, VW Tiguan, Mitsubishi Outlander, Ford Escape, Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain

Pros: Unique and attractive styling, wide range of powertrains, packed with tech

Cons: Thrashing base engine, lack of volume knob

From the editors:

Associate Editor Byron Hurd — “I was really impressed by my brief time behind the wheel of the new Tucson. It’s comfortable, quiet and (in hybrid form) surprisingly peppy and responsive. Hyundai really nailed the interior too. I smell a winner.”

In-depth analysis: 2022 Hyundai Tucson First Drive Review | A bold leap forward


2022 Kia Carnival

Quick take: This minivan wins big in the style and interior tech department. It’s super smooth and comfortable to drive, but the lack of powertrain options is disappointing. No matter, the numerous positives win out.

Score: 7.5

What it competes with: Chrysler Pacifica HybridChrysler PacificaToyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey

Pros: Superb design, luxurious interior, excellent tech and driver assistance features

Cons: No hybrid or AWD option, VIP seats clunky for family use

From the editors:

Road Test Editor Zac Palmer — “I and my friends had more fun in this minivan than any before, and that’s totally thanks to the epic, reclining VIP second row seats. This van is more than just fancy seats, though. It drives super smoothly, has top-notch tech and a design that has every other minivan beat.”

Senior Editor, Green John Beltz Snyder — “In the right trims, the Carnival looks really neat. It’s a great minivan for hauling people in comfort and — dare I say — luxury. Excellent driver assistance technology makes things easier on the pilot, too. The 3.5-liter V6 is a great engine, but the lack of a more economical offering and no available all-wheel drive feel like missed opportunities to appeal to more customers.”

In-depth analysis: 2022 Kia Carnival First Drive Review | The stylish one


2021 Kia Sorento

Quick take: The new Sorento is considerably more stylish than the last generation, and packed with the latest tech. A compact but usable third row provides practicality, and the more rugged X-Line versions add utility to this solid crossover.

Score: 7.5

What it competes with: Mazda CX-9, Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder, Subaru Ascent, GMC Acadia

Pros: Perky powertrains, attractive looks, high-tech interior

Cons: X-Line’s ride suffers, subpar interior materials quality

From the editors:

Senior Editor, Green John Beltz Snyder — “I spent hours wandering the snowy country backroads in this thing, enjoying the comfort and tech. When the roads dried up, the gutsy 2.5-liter turbo-four made running errands much more entertaining. I’ve already recommended this new Sorento to friends with kids for its space, safety and Kia’s excellent warranty.”

News Editor Joel Stocksdale — “That turbocharged 2.5-liter really is amazing with how much torque it produces, and how you don’t have to wait for the turbo to kick in. It’s also super stylish and gives you a lot for your money. I just wish it handled better and had a more composed ride.”

In-depth analysis: 2021 Kia Sorento Review | What’s new, price, hybrid fuel economy, pictures


2021 Porsche Panamera

Quick take: The Panamera in virtually every form drives brilliantly, has a useful, pretty interior and features attractive styling. Its biggest downside is value, as many other luxury sedans and wagons are significantly cheaper in comparison.

Score: 7.5

What it competes with: Audi A7 (S7 and RS 7), BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe, Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door, Maserati Quattroporte

Pros: A performance level for everyone, stellar handling, pretty wagon variant

Cons: Sedan has average looks, shockingly expensive, poor value with options

From the editors:

Road Test Editor Zac Palmer — “Another fantastic Porsche. Big surprise. Stuttgart can’t miss these days, and every version of the Panamera I’ve tried makes a great argument as the one to buy. Still, I’m partial to the Sport Turismo, because wagons rock.”

Associate Editor Byron Hurd — “It’s really hard to articulate just how much smaller the Panamera feels compared to other similarly sized sport sedans. More clinical than an AMG or BMW M, it’s amazingly buttoned down and rewarding to drive fast.”

News Editor Joel Stocksdale — “If it weren’t for the Panamera’s huge sticker prices, it would be just about the perfect all-around car, especially the plug-in hybrid ones. They offer staggering performance that’s accessible and fun, and will even let you tackle short commutes gas-free.”

In-depth analysis: 2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S First Drive | S is for ‘spicy’


2021 McLaren 720S

Quick take: Even years after its debut, the 720S is still a performance masterpiece. We’d take it in either Coupe or Spider form. The handling, acceleration and drivability is difficult to beat, even compared to other fantastic supercars.

Score: 8

What it competes with: Ferrari F8 Tributo, Lamborghini Huracan Evo, Porsche 911 Turbo S, Audi R8 V10 Plus

Pros: Mind-melting acceleration, top-notch handling, proper supercar looks

Cons: Seat controls are annoying, poor infotainment system, lack of storage

From the editors:

Associate Editor Byron Hurd — “This is a 3,200 pound go-kart with Hellcat-level power and yet it’s a complete teddy bear in normal driving. The interior is a bit sparse but still charming in an Alfa Romeo 4C kind of way, and man does it move. One of the most impressive things I’ve ever experienced.”

Consumer Editor Jeremy Korzeniewski — “There’s no doubt that the McLaren 720S is the fastest car I’ve ever been handed the keys to for a days-long test on the open road. Its acceleration can only be described as brutal. Sure, its interior trim may not compare favorably with the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini, but its engineering certainly does.”

In-depth analysis: McLaren 720S Spider First Drive Review | Absolutely corrupted by power


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2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet Road Test Review | The supercar as defined by the 911

If you can afford a supercar, do you want it to be a Porsche 911? That’s the question you ask yourself when considering the merits of the 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet. Do you want one of the highest evolutions of the 911 as opposed to a loaded Audi R8, Lamborghini Huracan Evo or something else exotic? It’s a lot for the fortunate to consider.

Short of the race-bred GT3 line, the Turbos are as much Porsche 911 as anyone could ever desire. As one of my colleagues notes, the Turbos themselves are basically racecars, though he only tested the “regular” Turbo. I spent a week blasting around town top down (mostly) in the Turbo S. With 640 hp and a sprint to 60 time of 2.7 seconds, it’s the variant you simply can’t catch.

The high performance efficacy of the Turbo S comes from the 3.7-liter boxer six-cylinder, which produces a stunning 60 hp more than the previous generation. Torque is up 37 lb-ft to 590, helping the S shave 0.2 seconds off its 60-mph run. The Cabriolet is only a tenth slower. They both have top speeds of 205 mph. Additionally, Porsche’s Traction Management All-Wheel Drive system can send 368 lb-ft to the front wheels, depending on conditions. 

The unit is part of a new family of Porsche engines, and it has a new air intake system, larger intercoolers and larger symmetrical turbochargers than found in the old Turbo S. The intercoolers were moved from the rear fenders to right behind the engine to increase cooling 13%. The air filters are now in the fenders and there are two more air vents underneath the deck wing. The direct-injection system has Piezo injectors, which Porsche says increase output and responsiveness. The engine’s bones are found in the 3.0-liter 911 and a lesser-powered version is under the hood of the 911 Turbo (572 hp, 554 lb-ft). The Turbo S powerplant teams with the eight-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission, and the lofty top speed is reached in sixth gear.

The 2021 Turbo S features evolutionary new looks based on functionality. There’s a new rear wing, new front end and LED matrix-style headlights. The Turbo S isn’t a dramatic departure from its predecessor, but it’s 1.65 inches wider up front and 0.39 inches wider in back, with wider tires and front air vents, creating a more defined stance.

The Turbo S is now considerably more capable, and its looks reflect those chops. Still, our test car casts a subtle vibe, clad in Gentian Blue Metallic paint with a black cloth roof. The forged center-lock black wheels (20 inches in front, 21 in rear) have a polished gray 10-spoke design, and even the brake calipers are polished black, lending an understated feel to the aesthetic. Similarly, the truffle brown leather interior with chalk-colored stitching has a mellow feel with patterns that Porsche says recall the 930 Turbo. The optional Burmeister sound system ($3,980) with silver speaker covers accents the cabin and produces a dulcet sound.

Driving the Turbo S Cabrio is a mix of emotional and mechanical impulses. Porsches demand and reciprocate precision through engagement, and the steering immediately communicates a sense of the car’s exacting nature. Same with the brakes, which are carbon ceramic composite and 0.39 inches larger than the previous model. Rear-axle steering and Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control are standard. The Porsche Active Suspension Management ($1,510 option) lowers ride height 0.39 inches and is offered as a factory option for the first time with improved shock absorbers and software calibrated for the Turbo S that adjusts damping continuously — allowing the car to be sportier and more comfortable. Our model also has the optional front axle lift feature that can raise the front of the car 1.6 inches and adds $2,770 to the sticker.

The Turbo S offers a formidable array of performance tools. Everything has its purpose, logically added for an assigned task. The emotions are stirred when these tools are put into use. Twisting the steering wheel drive mode selector to Sport, we enter a winding road lined with the summer’s complement of greenery. The exhaust grows louder, angrier, throatier. It already barks at shift points in the Normal setting, but Sport has the effect of poking the Turbo S with something sharp. This car has the Sport exhaust, a $3,490-option that’s worth it. Porsches, Jaguars, Ferraris and a few select Corvettes and Mustangs summon this kind of pulse-quickening sound that few others can match. Simply lifting off the throttle or downshifting produces a growl or a pop that’s better than some sports cars make at full roar.

Pausing under an overpass, the top comes down in seconds. Launching hard, we’re pulled back in our seats as we weave through the twists and turns leading through to Woodward Avenue. A hard right turn onto M-1 and we’re heading north. The sun breaks through and the temperatures sit around 65 degrees making this an idyllic summer day with echoes of fall. It’s cool for late June, but perfect convertible weather.

When caught in a downpour, Wet Mode detects water on the road and tunes the stability control and anti-lock brakes accordingly. Stating the obvious, the 911 then warns us to drive cautiously, which is appreciated. Plodding around town we notice the little things the car offers. The leather-covered steering wheel is large, fairly thin and has grips at 10 and 2 o’clock. The infotainment system is simple enough to use; contemporary and customizable but not too layered. In total, the 911 provides a flexible experience. For instance, you can drive in Normal or Wet and still turn on the Sport exhaust via a button or touchscreen. We drove in Normal with the exhaust pipes up — and Sport with the spoiler down, just to try different things. Obviously, it’s enjoyable to play around, but it’s logical to want to keep the Turbo S performance at heel yet still announce your arrival with an exhaust note. 

With the brown leather, sport exhaust, fancy speakers and a few other options, our test model stickers for $234,570, including destination and a $1,000 gas-guzzler tax. As noted in our 911 Turbo review, the 911 is already more car than you’ll ever need. Perhaps that’s the smart play, as the additional power isn’t necessary and the performance increases the S brings to the table are too small for mere mortals to notice. 

Enthusiasts with this kind of buying power often stop thinking metrically around $100,000. It becomes an object of uber prestige. They want the car because it’s the most expensive and the most powerful. Assuming the GT3 is simply too raw, this is the Porsche 911 in its highest form and you’re approaching future collector status. It’s living in the moment and investing in the future, and using that logic, there’s simply no substitute for the Turbo S. The convertible? Well that just makes it even more fun in the summer.

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Caviar’s Grand Apple iPad Pro boasts over 2.2 lbs of pure gold, wood, and diamonds

It seems like we’re bracing for more major releases from Apple in the coming months. Of course, headlining its 2021 hardware refresh will be its new smartphone. Rumors, on the other hand, suggest there are not enough groundbreaking upgrades to warrant it being called the iPhone 13. Instead, it might be called the iPhone 12S. While waiting, Caviar teases the Grand Apple tablet.

When you want to finer things in life, the Russian jeweler gladly offers its services. In fact, its forte is giving popular items a ludicrous makeover. So far, we’ve seen the brand work its magic on sneakers, smartphones, game consoles, earbuds, timepieces, and even automobiles.

The Grand Apple sees the latest iPad Pro receive the luxury treatment. Caviar loves to work with gold and gemstones. If you want a slate with a lavish layer of opulence, this is exactly what the doctor ordered. Now you can show off your device just like how one would with their accessories.

Caviar replaces the housing with a combination of pure gold and rare wood. This intricate masterpiece also uses pure gold for the apple tree and the hill it stands on. The wood panel becomes the backdrop as you spot 9 apples – each encrusted with 9 diamonds for a total of 81.

There are engravings of two quotes in the bottom section. The first reads: “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” What follows says: “May your joy be on your journey, and not in some distant goal.” These excerpts are from Steve Jobs and Tim Cook respectively.

The black section of the frame features the text Caviar Luxury Standard and other branding elements. The serial number is visible here as well. Caviar says that the total weight of gold on the Grand Apple is more than 2.2 lbs.

Buy – $153,540

Images courtesy of Caviar

Bell & Ross’ distinct watchmaking style shines with the BR 03-92 Red Radar Ceramic

Bell & Ross watches are easily identified by their combination of square-shaped cases and round dials. Although the brand also dabbles in traditional form factors every now and then, the former is the more popular option. We normally prefer its open-work dials, but the BR 03-92 Red Radar Ceramic might change our minds.

Some of the company company’s best work is when they endow their timepieces with an aeronautic or tactical vibe. Thus, in true form, the BR 03-92 Red Radar Ceramic captures this theme perfectly. If you find it familiar, that’s because there were previous models with a similar design.

However, the third and newest model is by far the most striking among the collection. It comes in a 42 mm matte black ceramic case that should please fans of stealthier profiles. Bell & Ross calls it BR 03-92 Red Radar Ceramic for a good reason. This comes from the red sapphire crystal, numerals, and indices

The graphics all combine to make it look like its actual namesake. Bell & Ross even went as far as to paint images of two aircraft. Telling the time with the BR 03-92 Red Radar Ceramic is actually easy despite its complicated presentation.

There are two concentric discs and the inner one with the fighter jet is for the minutes. The hours can be gleaned from the other one with what looks like a bigger passenger plane. Meanwhile, the classic second hand represents the scanning bar and completes the functions.

Fully wound, the BR-CAL.302 automatic movement is good for 42 hours. Finally, you have a hybrid ultra-resilient black synthetic fabric and black rubber strap with a black PVD steel pin buckle closure. Bell & Ross never fails to impress and the BR 03-92 Red Radar Ceramic is a testament to their creativity.

Buy – $4,300

Images courtesy of Bell & Ross

Jacob & Co is making only 9 examples of the Fast & Furious Twin Turbo watch

Jacob & Co makes some of the world’s most intricate and luxurious watches. What sets them apart from their contemporaries is the avant-garde designs of their timepieces. Moreover, the intricate details that go into each one are remarkable. Their most recent release is a tribute to a long-running movie franchise. The Fast & Furious Twin Turbo lives up to name with its automotive theme.

This watch does not only boast a high level of luxury you associate with the brand. The features it packs are likewise impressive. According to Jacob & Co, it’s the first time four sophisticated complications are packed together. There’s a monopusher chronograph, a twin triple-axis tourbillon, and decimal repeater.

Many experts point out that the latter is a grueling task for any watchmaker to handle Moreover, this makes the Fast & Furious Twin Turbo a very special 832-component model. Generating the horsepower behind the scenes is a Jacob & Co JCFM05 manual movement with a 50-hour power reserve.

It is an awesome expression of high watchmaking for the elite and fans of the films. The visuals on the semi open-work dial show a lovely lady holding two checkered flags with two iconic vehicles ready to race. Meanwhile, Super-LumiNova coats the indices and hands for superior low-light visibility.

Then there are the two triple-axis tourbillons flanking the power reserve indicator which looks like a fuel gauge. The Fast & Furious Twin Turbo sports a 57 x 52 x17 mm titanium and carbon case with a curved sapphire crystal.

The exhibition caseback lets you view the caliber in action. Finishing it off is a black leather strap with a titanium deployant buckle. Jacob & Co is only making 9 examples of the Fast & Furious Twin Turbo to commemorate the release of the ninth film in the saga.

Buy – $580,000

Images courtesy of Jacob & Co

2021 Lamborghini Huracán Evo RWD First Drive | One smart, well-groomed bull

LE CASTELLET, France — Growing up in the 1990s, the Italian supercars I read about sounded like the automotive equivalent of kayaking over a waterfall — thrilling, unforgettable, and potentially very hazardous. The industry’s elites were often described as cramped, unpredictable, and generally finicky but extremely rewarding for the few skilled enough to tame them.

It’s a stigma that still hovers above the supercar segment like a dark cloud in 2021, yet with a handful of notable exceptions, it hasn’t been accurate in many years. It takes little more than a lively jaunt in a 2021 Lamborghini Huracán Evo RWD to spot how Italy’s unique breed of road weapon has evolved over the past few decades.

Autoblog has spent time in the Huracán Evo before, but it was in an all-wheel-drive model that we put through its paces on the Willow Springs track in Southern California. Fast-forward to 2021, and I’m in a rear-wheel-drive coupe on the picturesque winding roads surrounding the Paul Ricard circuit in Southern France. I couldn’t sneak my way onto the track for a few laps because Super Trofeo and GT3-spec variants of the Huracán hogged it all weekend.

Several carmakers positioned all over the automotive spectrum have used the Evo designation. In Lamborghini-speak, it denotes not a rally-bred sports sedan but an evolution of the Huracán with subtle design tweaks that add downforce and increase the amount of cooling air channeled to the engine bay. It still looks like a Huracán, but you don’t need a magnifying glass to tell the updated model apart from its predecessor, especially from the back.

Lamborghini saves scissor doors for its V12-powered models, like the Aventador S, so the Huracán’s swing out like in a normal car’s. Once inside, the first thing you notice is that it feels like a proper luxury car. The cabin is dominated by Alcantara, leather, and a type of carbon fiber called Forged Composites (which was developed in-house by the brand). It’s all very well put together; the fit and finish is excellent. In the driver’s seat, you face a digital instrument cluster whose layout changes depending on the driving mode selected (they’re called Strada, Sport, and Corsa, respectively) and a three-spoke steering wheel with a switch that lets you select the three aforementioned profiles.

Even a supercar needs technology in 2021. Stuffing a mammoth engine in a lightweight chassis hidden under an attention-grabbing body is no longer enough to lure enthusiasts. Lamborghini knows this, so one of the tricks it taught the Huracán before assigning it the Evo nameplate is a new infotainment system displayed on an 8.4-inch touchscreen. This is a major update, because the original Huracán released in 2014 didn’t have a touchscreen. Its infotainment system was displayed in the instrument cluster. Specific to Lamborghini, the software is quick, straightforward to navigate, and the screen’s graphics are almost as sharp as the exterior design. Better yet for technophiles, Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is programmed directly into the system.

Embedding a tablet-like screen into the center console allowed Lamborghini to send a variety of buttons back to the parts bin, including the volume knob, but there’s one that hasn’t been dethroned yet: the ignition switch. It’s located under a red flap, fighter jet-style, and pushing it fires off a naturally-aspirated, 5.2-liter V10 tuned to deliver 602 horsepower at a screaming 8,000 rpm and 413 pound-feet of torque at a slightly less riotous 6,500 rpm. It’s mounted directly behind the driver, where you’d find booster seats and/or a load of suitcases in more pedestrian sports cars, and it spins the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Rear-wheel-drive is this version of the Huracán’s party trick: it swaps four-wheel grip for oversteer and loses about 70 pounds by relinquishing its front axle and the all-wheel-drive model’s rear-wheel steering system. It also lets 29 horses escape from its cavalry.

We know the Huracán is capable of great things on the track — there’s a good reason Lamborghini makes no major chassis modifications to the cars it builds for its Super Trofeo one-make series — but it lives up to the hype even if you prefer not to don a racing suit. It whooshes off the line with a soft brutality that makes you immediately understand the definition of a supercar as its exhaust system trumpets out an addicting racecar-like tune. The 29-horsepower difference between the rear- and all-wheel-drive Huracán isn’t instantly perceptible, there is plenty of power to go around, and hitting 60 mph from a stop takes about 3.1 seconds. Having less weight over the front axle also makes a difference in terms of handling, especially in Sport mode. Corsa mode kills all electronics and is best saved for the track.

Sport is the sweet spot in the driving mode hierarchy, then. It makes Lamborghini’s smallest bull high-strung without turning it into a beast that can’t be tamed (or, worse, one that tames its driver), and it unlocks just the right amount of aggression to make twisty roads feel like a roller coaster. With your foot buried in the throttle, and your right hand on the carbon fiber shift paddle, ready for a split-second upshift, the Huracán displays a level of agility that’s more natural than what you get in the all-wheel-drive model with its trick four-wheel steering system. It’s not better or worse; it’s a different breed of supercar. The steering is direct and accurate, the suspension keeps body roll at bay, and brake rotors the size of a medium pizza slow the Huracán at least as quickly as it accelerates.

Don’t get the wrong idea: Grip is phenomenal, even without the front wheels receiving power. That’s partly due to the electronic wizardry happening behind the scenes, and to styling revisions that increase downforce on the front axle.

On a track, the fun only ends when the safety car comes out, or when the checkered flag stretches its threads. On the street, motorists routinely encounter situations that are tedious, annoying, or plain bland. The V10 is as bored as I am humming behind a Citroën C15 — a simple, do-it-all van with a life expectancy that rivals a red dwarf star’s — on a narrow road with too many oak tree-lined blind corners to pass, but it doesn’t show it. Flick the steering-wheel-mounted switch to engage Strada mode (which numbs most chassis settings and hushes the exhaust), crank up the radio, and comfortably follow along as the air conditioning keeps you cool. This compliance shows another facet of the Huracán, and it’s part of what sets this car apart from its less docile predecessors.

Drawbacks? Yep, even in a Lamborghini, you’ll find a couple. Cargo capacity is largely symbolic, so you’ll need to get creative if you plan to spend a week on the road. I don’t think anyone makes a trailer hitch for a Huracán, but several aftermarket vendors sell roof boxes that look really cool. And, it goes without saying that subtlety isn’t available from Sant’Agata Bolognese. While the Huracán can make you feel like you’re flying, it’s never under the radar. These quirks have been passed down from generation to generation; the V12-powered Miura was hardly a role model in the realm of practicality.

Configured with rear-wheel-drive, the Lamborghini Huracán Evo is one of the purest expressions of the supercar ethos money can buy. It’s quick, head-turning, loud, expensive, and unapologetically rowdy, which is exactly what it should be. Anything less would be a monstrous insult to the Italian gods of motoring, especially coming from one of the companies that laid the foundations of the segment as we know it in 2021. On a secondary level, it’s relatively easy to live with thanks to a luxurious interior and just the right amount of in-car technology. Sure, it falls short in nearly every category when compared to the all-wheel-drive model on paper, but its character can’t be quantified.

Supercars have never been merely about numbers, after all.

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Bugatti Chiron Super Sport revealed a long-tail, high-speed grand tourer

Bugatti is done setting speed records, but it’s proud of what it accomplished in the years it spent chasing the crown. It channeled some of the lessons it learned into a new, high-speed-focused Chiron variant called Super Sport.

While the Super Sport is instantly recognizable as a member of the Chiron family, it wears a more streamlined body than other variants (like the handling-focused Chiron Pur Sport) characterized by a redesigned front splitter, air curtains on either side of the front bumper, and a rear end that has been extended by nearly 10 inches. The rear air diffuser has a new look, too. These changes improve aerodynamic efficiency while creating the high level of downforce required to keep the Chiron firmly planted to the ground at the triple-digit speeds it’s designed to reach.

Even the smaller tweaks seen on the Super Sport weren’t made strictly in the name of design. Bugatti explained the nine holes above each front wheel create downforce by releasing air pressure from the wheel wells. On a secondary level, they also create a visual link between the EB110 (which also wore the Super Sport designation) and the limited-edition Centodieci. Model-specific five-spoke wheels add a finishing touch to the function-over-form design. 

Bugatti developed the Super Sport as a grand tourer, so giving it a stripped-out, race car-like interior was out of the question. The cabin blends timeless materials, like leather and aluminum, with carbon fiber components that hint at the car’s lightweight construction. Buyers can customize nearly everything inside, including the upholstery.

Power for the Super Sport comes from Bugatti’s prestigious W16 engine, an 8.0-liter unit fitted with four turbos. It develops 1,577 horsepower and 1,180 pound-feet of torque in this application. Engineers made changes to the turbos, to the engine oil pump, and to the cylinder head in order to increase the 16-cylinder’s redline to 7,100 rpm (a 300-rpm bump) and to make the full torque output available across a much broader spectrum. The engine still spins the four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, though the seventh gear is longer. 

Helped by a 50-pound weight reduction, the Super Sport takes 5.8 seconds to reach 124 mph (200 kph) from a stop. Keep it floored, and the speedometer shows 186 mph (300 kph) in 12.1 seconds. Its top speed lies in the vicinity of 273 mph. Bugatti also added a tighter steering system and firmer springs to improve high-speed stability, and it retuned the electronically-controlled chassis system. None of these changes would mean much without proper tires, however.

Michelin developed Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires specifically for the Super Sport. They’re rated for speeds of up 310 mph (500 kph) thanks to reinforced belts. Interestingly, they developed using a test bench originally designed for the Space Shuttle, and Michelin puts each tire in an x-ray machine to check for even the tiniest irregularities.

Bugatti will begin building the Chiron Super Sport in the coming months, and deliveries are scheduled to start in early 2022. Pricing starts at 3.2 million euros (around $3.9 million) before taxes and options are factored in. 

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Bugatti reveals the final version of the one-off La Voiture Noire

Bugatti is ready to deliver the La Voiture Noire, a one-of-a-kind model introduced at the 2019 edition of the Geneva auto show. Based on the Chiron, the coachbuilt coupe meets the same quality standards as a series-produced car.

Making the La Voiture Noire a reality took two years because it underwent a long list of tests before Bugatti signed it off. As we’ve previously reported, it was blasted with thousands of gallons of water to ensure it’s watertight and was driven flat-out on a track, among other evaluations. Over 65,000 engineering hours were invested into the project, a number that underlines the significant differences between the La Voiture Noire and the Chiron it’s related to. And yet, Bugatti managed to keep the show car’s lines and finer design details intact during development.

While the quad-turbocharged, 1,479-horsepower 8.0-liter W16 engine comes from the Chiron, all of the carbon fiber exterior panels are new and the wheelbase is slightly longer. Bugatti also notes each headlight features 25 individually-milled elements, and that the grille was 3D-printed. Overall, the La Voiture Noire wears a purer, more touring-oriented design than the aforementioned Chiron and the Divo. It’s not fitted with a rear wing, for example.

Interior photos haven’t been released, but we’re told the seats are upholstered in Havana Brown leather. It creates a classic ambience that matches the turned aluminum inlays scattered across the cabin, like on the center console.

There is but a single example of the La Voiture Noire, and Bugatti’s not taking bids. The coupe is already sold to an anonymous collector, who paid 11 million euros (about $13.4 million at the current conversion rate) for it before taxes enter the equation. Time will tell if the new owner reveals his or her identity, drives the car, or keeps it tucked away in a private collection. In the meantime, the French firm will work on bringing the Centodieci to production.

Perhaps inspired by Bugatti’s success, some of the other luxury carmakers have started breathing new life into the long-lost tradition of coachbuilding during the past few years. Rolls-Royce notably created a yacht-inspired, one-of-a-kind convertible called Boat Tail for an anonymous couple that reportedly paid approximately $28 million for it.

What’s in a name?

La Voiture Noire literally translates to “The Black Car” in French. It’s entirely black, but there’s more to it than paint and trim. Bugatti design boss Achim Anscheidt explained his team drew inspiration from one of the four examples of the Type 57 SC Atlantic built; it was driven by Jean Bugatti, the son of company founder Ettore Bugatti, and nicknamed La Voiture Noire. It enigmatically disappeared before World War II, and it hasn’t been found since. It could have been destroyed during the conflict, but there’s a sliver of a chance that it’s hidden in a barn somewhere in a remote part of France; crazier things have happened. If found, it would be worth tens of millions of dollars.