Automotive Golf & Automotive

Mercedes-Benz SL550, Audi R8, Lamborghini Gallardo Roadster, Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe, and Fortwo

AUTOMOTIVE
KEVIN SOHAL

When planning your excursion to Los Angeles, it is essential to not overlook your automobile. You can pack all the Armani shirts, Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses, and Prada shoes that you own; but it will all be meaningless when you’re spotted stepping out of your rental Chevy Aveo (no offense to Aveo owners — I know they get great gas mileage). So what exactly does it take to not be ridiculed when pulling up to the valet stand at a posh L.A. nightclub? On a recent October day, Beverly Hills Rent-A-Car General Manager, Daniel Park allowed me to taste a small but sweet sample of a few rides that their highly regarded business offers to the public; in order to put this question to rest.

If fitting in is what you’re after, the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL550 is a good starting point; Los Angeles boasts the highest population of SL roadsters in the world so rest assured that your tourist identity will be securely concealed — not to mention how cool you’ll think you look when your rental transforms from hard-top coupe to open-air convertible in less than twenty seconds. Sporting a mild restyle for 2009, the SL’s exterior received a new front fascia, larger “gill-like” vents in the front fenders, and the rear-end is also beefed-up with an integrated air diffuser and trapezoidal exhaust tips — all of which combine to form brutish masculine look.

The interior of the SL also received minor updates in the form of a three-spoke steering wheel and a revised gauge-cluster. Mercedes opted to forgo replacement of the pavement-pounding 5.5-liter 382hp V8 that will hurl you and your Dolce sunglasses to 60mph in just 5.3 seconds; combined with a seven-speed automatic transmission which can be actuated manually via steering wheelmounted paddle-shifters, piloting the SL around L.A. is a blast in any driving situation.

Although many can do just fine with simply fitting in, there are those who thrive on attention; for this type of person, Beverly Hills Rent-A-Car presents their Exotic Collection. At the entry-level to this assortment of exquisite automobiles sits the Audi R8. Having existed for only a year, the rental of an R8 ensures exclusivity. Available at $1,800 per day, the R8’s 420hp V8 located a couple inches behind your head will whisk you and the all-aluminum chassis to 60mph in 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 187mph.

Drivers of the R8 are treated to quite possibly the most pleasant ride-quality in the “exotic car” category with a suspension that’s best described as “just firm enough” and a clutch that’s easily manageable in horrendous L.A. traffic. And if, heaven forbid, you end up parked on the freeway, toying with the driver-controllable pop-up rear spoiler can provide hours of amusement.

If an exotic with extra headroom is what you desire, for $3,000 a day you can turn the head of each and every single person you pass in a yellow Lamborghini Gallardo Roadster (they also offer the Gallardo Roadster in red, and black). In the unlikely event that you happen to catch someone not looking at you, a quick stab of the throttle will promptly bring them to attention as 512 Italian horses beckon rampantly out the dual tailpipes.

The interior of the Gallardo leaves little to be desired. With the climate control and navigation system coming out of Audi’s production center, both are sophisticated yet intuitive devices that can be employed with ease. If the ultimate in smooth is what you desire, Beverly Hills’ Prestige Collection is what you’re looking for.

Serving as the flagship in Beverly Hills Rent-A-Car’s expansive lineup is the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe. This is truly the crème de la crème of luxury automobiles. The moment you set foot in the Drophead and depress the suicide door’s close button (watch your leg) you’ll be in complete and utter automotive bliss. With the cushiest leather and finest teak wood trim known to man, it can be difficult to discern whether the Rolls is a car or a rolling yacht; and being that the Drophead is significantly larger in dimension than a Mercedes S-Class, it can also be difficult to discern whether people are running off the road because they’re staring at your car or because you’re taking up half their lane.

If you do decide that an attention grabbing convertible is what you need but the Drophead is just slightly too large, you may want to consider the Smart Fortwo Cabriolet. Just like the Rolls-Royce, the Smart has two doors, a convertible top, and a — well, that’s actually where all the similarities end. At roughly one-third the size of the Rolls, the Fortwo is a convertible of a slightly different breed.

Engineered with the eco-minded consumer at heart, Smart gave the Fortwo an ultra-low emission 70hp 3-cylinder engine and a herky-jerky automatic transmission that will scoot you around the city at upwards of 33miles-per-gallon. Combined with a high-strength Tridion Safety Cell and the ability to park nearly anywhere, the Smart could quite possibly be the ultimate vehicle for urban travel.

So there you have it. Next time you’re planning your trip to the Los Angeles area be sure to consult with Dan and his Beverly Hills Rent-A-Car team. You can check out their rates and inventory online at www.bhrentacar.com and with their newly added Make an Offer program that allows you to propose a bid for your rental rate; you might be able to snatch up a car at a surprising price. With twelve locations, over 100 different models, and this guide at your disposal — you have no excuse to not be rolling in style.

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