Category: Golf & Automotive

Jaguar F-Type

Jaguar F-Type

F Type

F Type

Four hundred ninety-five horsepower, thirty-six-hundred pounds.

This is my third time writing this article. My first submission consisted only of the aforementioned specifications in numerical form along with the photos you’re looking at in this spread. My editor told me that I had to write words. I resubmitted the same content having changed the numbers into the form they appear in the subhead of this iteration. I was informed I’d no longer have a job if this continued. I then posed the question of whether anything else about the Jaguar F-Type really matters aside from the facts that it possesses a power-to-weight ratio that nears supercar status and it’s arguably the best-looking front-engine’d convertible on the market.

Despite it being one of the most beautiful objects I’ve ever laid eyes and hands on, the F-Type and I got off to a rocky start. I suppose it’s often the case with beautiful objects and myself but that’s not a discussion for the automotive column. I picked up our test-vehicle at this magazine’s namesake airport with intentions of a quick jaunt east on the I-10 and up I-15 to Las Vegas to witness the marriage of a dear childhood friend. I did a few (or 20) laps around the vehicle to admire some of the subtle touches that make such a dazzling machine; the forward-slanting grille combined with auxiliary vents and vertical headlights form a ravenous shark-like appearance, flush-mounted door handles which emerge when unlocked, muscular rear arches flexing over massive 295-width tires, a race-inspired rear-diffuser shrouding its quadruple-tipped exhaust, fiber-optic LED taillights… did I mention how gorgeous I think this car is?

F Type

F Type

Hopping in the Jag, I fine-tuned my 10-way power-adjustable seat and it was then that the F-Type and I had our first tiff. At 6’2” and 175lbs, I’m not the largest human being, but owning limbs closer in length to someone a couple inches taller, I was quite devastated to realize that I could not slide back far enough to accommodate my legs without pitching the top of the seat forward — not an ideal sports car seating position.

Gazing around the interior of the F-Type reveals a luxurious leather-shod dash and door surfaces with contrast-stitching, as well as a wide array of high-quality finishes ranging from matte black to satin chrome and dark aluminum. I depressed the brake pedal, eased my index finger into the fluorescent-orange Engine Start button, and brought the beast to life. A strident bark emitted from the tailpipes and a smooth rumble reverberated from the engine compartment as the center air vents rose atop the dashboard. I plugged my destination into the highly intuitive navigation system and was instructed to utilize surface streets. It was 5:30pm on a Friday and the freeway was essentially gridlocked. I dropped the top (which takes a mere twelve seconds to lower or raise and can be done at speeds up to 30MPH) and set off on my way.

F Type

F Type

On city streets with the Adaptive Dynamics system in ‘normal’ mode, the F-Type is quite a docile kitten. The steering is light but tactful, active suspension dampeners adjust their firmness up to 100-times per second according to road conditions, gear changes from the 8-speed ZF transmission are rapid but smooth, and the throttle mapping induces a slight delay in actuation to keep the supercharged V8 manageable in traffic. Pair the aforementioned attributes with an intelligent 2-stage start/stop system that kills the engine at idle and restarts it as soon as your foot lifts from the brake and you end up with a surprisingly tame animal that’s plenty-suitable for everyday city driving.

As the navigation system informed me that I was approaching my onramp I slapped the shifter into manual-actuation and flicked the switch to engage Dynamic mode; the instrument cluster and ambient cabin lighting changed from soothing aqua teal to hellish scarlet red and the exhaust began to roar as the active bypass valve in the mufflers released an unobstructed path for spent gasses to exit. To my delight, the onramp signal was turned off so I (cautiously) stabbed the throttle to its maximum and the roar from the exhaust became a deafening howl; the 5.0-liter supercharged V8 attempted to send each and every one of its 495 horsepower and 460ft-lbs of torque to the pavement. The tail of the F-Type wagged, the traction control intervened, the tires hooked up, and less than a few seconds later I was stomping hard on the 15-inch brakes belting out every explicative in the English language because my speedometer was reading well into the triple-digit range and traffic was coming fast. Jaguar’s official published 50-75 MPH passing acceleration is rated at 2.4 seconds, so extrapolate that as you wish.

Fast forward two days and 500 miles. We’re back at LAX and we’ve confirmed that a two-seat convertible in which I do not fit comfortably and achieves 23 MPG highway is not the ideal road trip car. But we’ve also had a few hard runs through the hills above Malibu and a leisurely cruise up PCH to experience what the F-Type was purposely built to do. And it does that flawlessly.

A two-seat roadster is meant to be the purest expression of a sports car. It’s meant to be compact, lightweight, agile, and it’s meant to inspire a sensation of connection to the  road -— not only through the machine itself but also through the environment which surrounds it. When you remove the roof from a vehicle and expose its occupants to the mechanical snarl that emanates from an engine, the faint squealing of rubber as tires near their limits of adhesion, the echoes of exhaust notes rebounding off of tree-lined back-roads and canyon walls — the driving experience becomes incredibly immersive.

2015 Volkswagen Golf & GTI

2015 Volkswagen Golf & GTI

The Golf Family

The Golf Family

With a pedigree backed by 40 years of production, 30 million sales, seven generations, and lifespan innovations ranging from the three-point seatbelt to a seven-speed dual-clutch direct-shift gearbox; the Volkswagen Golf has more than been around the block — the cumulative mileage of all Golfs driven amounts to more than Mars and back. Despite being one of the most popular hatchbacks of all time, the Golf has recently faded from the spotlight in favor of its boxier sedan cousin, Jetta. Having realized this, in its newest form VW was determined to restore notability to one of its most prevalent nameplates.

Building on a flashier appearance, more luxurious proportions, and the prestige of German engineering — it may sound hard to believe given its past accolades, but the people’s carmaker has just unveiled what may become the most renowned Golf in the storied history of its lineage.

Golf TSI

Not only is the ‘standard’ Golf bigger, lighter, and more powerful than its predecessor, its name sounds cooler too! Something about the “TSI” designation invokes the notion that you’re getting more than just a plain old Golf — and you are. Because even the absolute base model ‘Launch Edition’ TSI boasts a plethora of standard features that were paid extras on the outgoing model. Starting with the engine: the new Golf utilizes a 1.8-liter turbocharged and direct-injected four cylinder power plant mated to either a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic. This marks the first time in the model’s history that the entire lineup will be powered by turbocharged engines. While the horsepower of the 1.8L turbo (170hp) remains identical to that of the previous 2.5L, it offers gobs more torque (200 ft-lbs vs. 177 ft-lbs) and sips up to 20% less fuel.

Inside the Golf, all iterations are treated to a bigger cabin, cargo capacity larger than any mid-sized sedan, and even a standard 5.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system complete with Bluetooth and iPod integration — an offering that’ll usually set a consumer back a couple grand as an optional upgrade. Raise your level from the ‘Launch Edition’ to the Golf S, and you’ll be greeted by V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces, leather-wrapped e-brake handle and shifter, and a multifunction steering wheel. Go one step higher with the ‘SE’ model and you’ll be treated to heated front seats and a panoramic tilt/slide sunroof (also offered on ‘Golf S w/ Sunroof’ models). The SE also incorporates a high-end Fender audio system — controlled via the same 5.8” touchscreen found in all the Golf models. Line-topping SEL Golf’s are clad in LED ambient lighting, a navigation system to accompany the infotainment, 12-way power adjustable sport seats, and piano black interior trim. Compare the inside of a Golf SEL to a top-of-the line Subaru Impreza or Ford Focus and you’ll be swiftly bewildered that these cars are of the same competitive set.

Golf TSI Detail

Golf TSI Detail

Golf TDI

Clean diesel has been making waves recently. With fuel economy that compares to — or in some cases, exceeds — that of hybrids, combined with superior drivability characteristics and lower real-world emission outputs; the reasons to not go diesel are rapidly disappearing. Given that the trim-levels and accouterments of Golf TDI’s and gasoline TSI models are relatively static (aside from the diesel lacking a ‘Launch Edition’ base model) we’ll leave this section dedicated solely to the venerable turbocharged and direct-injected engine which motivates it.

The TDI’s power plant has received a thorough makeover. Utilizing lower friction internal components and a new manifold-integrated intercooling solution, which minimizes distance, ingested air travels before entering the combustion cylinder; the new TDI is much peppier and responsive than its predecessor. Opposite to the TSI’s formula, horsepower has been raised by 10, to 150hp overall, while torque output remains equal to the old TDI at 236 ft-lbs. With figures like these, we still found it no surprise that our road test of the TDI left us wanting for nothing in the power department; as we were greeted by smooth, instantaneous sensations of thrust working in perfect harmony with all throttle movements. Even though VW’s published MPG figures of 31 city/45 highway are up only a couple over the last generation model, real world tests have generated figures as high as a whopping 49 MPG!

GTI

Based on the same MQB (modular transverse matrix) platform as the rest of the Golf family, the new seventh-generation GTI follows the same recipe of bigger, lighter, and faster than the old model. By our measure, differentiating the new GTI from its Golf siblings solely based on visual cues is more challenging a task than in years past — credit VW for making its TSI/TDI models more appealing to the eye. Inside the GTI however, the cockpits are worlds apart. Red-stitched leather, carbon fiber trim, and matte aluminum accents meld to create a look and feel that is rarely achieved in cars this side of a $30,000 price tag. The steering wheel of a new GTI has such a sophisticated finish that it reminded me of something found in a Porsche Cayman or Boxster.

Unsurprisingly, the contents of GTI’s technological suite have reached an all-time high. Notable new offerings are anchored by the Driving Mode Selection feature, which allows owners to tailor the car’s inputs to their liking via a menu located in the infotainment system. Toggling between normal and sport settings will raise or lower throttle response and steering weight accordingly; users can also modify the suspension’s damper settings in cars equipped with the optional DCC adaptive suspension system – if you plan on driving this car every day you’ll be glad that you sprung for it, as it offers a pothole-friendly ‘comfort’ setting. While prospective buyers can consider the DCC Suspension Package optional, the $1,495 Performance Package shall be treated as strictly mandatory. Its highlights include bigger brakes all around and a 10hp increase, but its swansong is an utterly magical electronically controlled limited-slip VAQ differential capable of feeding up to 100% of the engine’s power to either front wheel – the difference it makes in corner-exit (and all-around) acceleration is simply remarkable, and for the price at which it is being offered one would be an absolute fool to forego a VAQ diff.

Our overall consensus is that you simply can’t lose with any model. While I personally would suggest going diesel over taking the standard TSI unit, both units can provide the same level of comfort and refinement when equipped similarly. If speed and flash is your MO, the GTI offers design, build quality, and technological superiorities over all its rivals, and it prices out around the same level too.  Although we didn’t mention it in this article, VW has also introduced an all-electric eGolf that’ll knock the socks off a Nissan Leaf. Take our word for it, the Golf family is making the jump to German Engineering more appealing than ever; or take Motor Trend’s word for it, as they’ve just name the VW Golf family as their cars of the year.

Los Angeles Auto Show

Los Angeles Auto Show

Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet

Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet

November is always a pretty exciting time for us gearheads, but this one in particular has proven to be especially memorable. Across the realm of international motorsport in this month alone, we’ve seen massively impressive feats achieved by the likes of: Marc Marquez, with our two-wheeled counterparts over at MotoGP, to become the first rookie to win a premier-class World Championship since Kenny Roberts in 1978; Jimmie Johnson in the NASCAR Sprint series, earning his sixth Cup title in the last eight years, leaving him only the legends of Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt, with seven each, to chase for a claim at all-time greatness; lastly, we saw the return of Formula 1 to the US of A for the second year in a row, with the 2013 United States Grand Prix in Austin (check out our coverage of this year’s GP online at www.lax-magazine.com) and Sebastian Vettel, making good on his bid to become only the third man in history to win four consecutive Formula 1 Driver’s World Championships — all truly impressive stuff, indeed.

Which brings us to here: the automotive main event of the year for most Angelenos. A place where anyone and everyone can feast their eyes on the latest car candy and not only see, but feel what its really like to sit behind the wheel of rides we can only dream of owning, and salivate over the thought of what we might be lucky enough to test drive in the seasons to come. This year’s LA Auto Show was filled to the brim with fresh metal (and composite), featuring 56 new vehicle debuts and even 22 world-debut models from over a dozen different manufacturers. While we truly feel that each and every masterpiece of automotive engineering presented this year deserves its fair share of words in this column, allow us to spotlight a few of the ones that really got our engines revving.

Audi

With Audi’s introduction of the new A3 lineup, competition in the luxury compact segment is really heating up. Poised to take on the recently introduced Mercedes CLA and solidly rooted BMW 1-Series, the array of 2015 A3’s features not just an all-new sedan, but also a cabriolet and plug-in hybrid iteration as well — the first that Audi’s ever offered. Moreover, they’ll also be providing potential buyers with the option of a sportier package in the form of an S3 sedan. Vast as the lineup itself are the array of engines available to power them; all sharing in common the blueprint of a turbocharged inline-4, Audi will offer 1.8 and 2.0-liter gasoline variants, as well as a 2.0-liter clean diesel in the A3, making 170, 220, and 150hp respectively. S3 models are expected to have a juiced-up version of the 2.0T pumping out close to 300hp, which should make for a pretty fun little car — especially since all 3’s will have their power running through Audi’s venerable 6-speed DSG double-clutch gearboxes. Having efficiency in mind, FWD will be the standard with Quattro AWD available as an option.

BMW

Nothing makes a car better than an M placed next to its name, especially when we’re talking about one of Munich’s sexiest exports. We simply fell in love with the styling of the BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe last year, and since its introduction we’ve been chomping at the bit in anticipation of Motorsport’s reworked version. As expected, the M6 is easily visually discernable in comparison to the standard Gran Coupe, with gaping, angular intakes in the front fascia, bulging wheel arches, a carbon fiber roof, absolutely massive brakes, and a quad-tipped exhaust — you can tell the M6 GC is business. Even if the exterior treatments do nothing for you, the reworked interior equipped with sport seats, carbon fiber accents and a healthy dose of alcantara will undoubtedly win you over. Oh, and there’s also that 560hp 4.4-liter twin-turbo monster under the hood.

Honda FCEV

Honda FCEV

Honda

I’m not going to lie, the thing that first drew me to the Honda FCEV Concept when the cover came off was that it reminded me of Robocop… and I really like Robocop. Later on, while listening to Mr. Tetsuo Iwamura’s (President and CEO of American Honda Motor Co.) speech about the technical advancements and levels of efficiency the vehicle achieves, the draw then became exponentially stronger. Honda has been the industry leader in the pursuit of delivering fuel-cell (hydrogen gas powered) vehicles to the general public for the past decade, and the introduction of the FCEV Concept has brought them incrementally closer to their goal. Having released previous fuel-cell powered vehicles to government organizations and special lease customers on a test-only basis, Honda has developed their “FC Stack” that powers the FCEV to the point where the system is now fully contained in the engine bay, is capable of traveling over 300 miles on a single tank of hydrogen (which takes only around 3 minutes to refill), and is capable of operating in sub-zero temperatures. The prospect of future vehicles possessing those capabilities while emitting positively no emissions is quite intriguing in my eyes, kind of like Robocop.

Jaguar

Two years ago, we drooled over Jaguar’s CX-16 Coupe concept car that was unveiled at the 2011 LA Auto show. When they announced a production model was in the works and that it would be nearly identical to the concept right in front of us, we were absolutely ripe with anticipation. Fast forward to this summer, and Jaguar finally released the production breed of exotic cat we’d been waiting for what felt like an eternity to experience… as a convertible model. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with convertibles — I’m just a coupe kind of guy. But after the feelings of utter betrayal had subsided, a thorough examination of the F-Type revealed that it was still an amazing automobile, and that I’d just have to be patient and wait a little longer for the feline of my desires to be spawned… And here she is, guys and gals; I dare you to tell me it’s anything other than drop dead gorgeous! While not only being prettier and sportier than its convertible twin, it’s also more powerful. The top-of-the-range F-Type R Coupe gets an asphalt-shredding 550hp V8 engine — that’s 55 more ponies than the ‘vert, and it should be ready for sampling just in time for this summer.

Kia

Just over two decades ago, Kia broke into the US auto market with their introduction of a downright ugly, poorly assembled, absolute dud of a car — the Sephia. Drake isn’t the only one who started from the bottom. Packed with technology that was once only available on a Mercedes S-Class the K900 offers radar guided cruise control, a fully configurable 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster, adaptive LED headlights, independent rear-seat climate control, and heated steering wheel…IN A KIA! The Korean automaker’s flagship sedan is constructed on the same platform as Hyundai’s feature-loaded Equus super-saloon, and allows buyers to choose from either a 3.8-liter V6 or 420hp 5.0-liter V8 power plant (the Equus is only offered in V8 trim). If it drives anywhere close to as good as its looks, Kia may have launched themselves into legitimate contention over the prototypical Lexus buyer’s wallet.

Maserate Ghibli

Maserate Ghibli

Maserati

The Maserati Ghibli starts at $65,600. This means you can have yourself a brand new Italian-built luxury sports-sedan with an engine designed and crafted in the Ferrari engine factory, for around the same price as a BMW 550i, Lexus GS 450h, or Mercedes E550… MAN do we feel bad for those three. Not because they’re inferior cars (it’s likely that they’re actually higher-quality automobiles) but simply because none of them pack the same level of flair or panache as their new Italian running mate — and items with those attributes tend to sell in this town. Factor in that Maserati currently makes 35-40% of its US sales in California, and it becomes a safe bet that you’ll be seeing one (or more) at the valet stand quite soon. Offered with your choice of two 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6’s putting out 330 and 410hp respectively, and the option of rear, or all-wheel drive, provides flavors to suit all palates.

Mercedes 

So, you must be curious what new trinkets Mercedes has in store for the next generation of their technological industry-leader. Try these on for size: Mercedes’ Magic Body Control uses a forward-facing camera to see upcoming bumps in the road, and adjusts the suspension in real-time to isolate shock absorption, the instrument cluster and COMAND infotainment screens combine to give the driver a whopping 24.6 inches of high-resolution real-estate, the new S-Class becomes the first production automobile to contain not even a single light bulb — with all illumination originating from hundreds of LEDs, and to top it all off; the cabin air can even be infused with fragrances of the drivers choice, via an integrated aromatherapy system. As feature loaded as it is, with increased power output from its biturbo V8, the S550 behemoth can reach 60mph in a whopping 4.8 seconds, which is probably faster than the sports car in your garage — opt for the 577hp S63 AMG 4MATIC and forget about it, as it’ll complete the 0-60 sprint in 3.8.

Mini Cooper

The new Mini Cooper Hardtop is a little bigger than the outgoing model, a little more powerful than the outgoing model and, somehow, a little cooler looking than the outgoing model. It could be the LED rings around the headlights, it could be the stalkier stance, or it could be the shorter windows — whatever it may be, the 2014 model just appears more like a streamlined coupe than a, well, box. The interior has undergone quite the overhaul as well, with the most notable difference being the migration of the gigantic center-mounted speedometer to a traditional location in the instrument cluster, allowing for an 8.8-inch infotainment screen on navigation-equipped models. Also notable are the new Hardtop’s highly-efficient turbocharged powertrain options, which include a 1.5-liter THREE cylinder offering 134hp in the base, and 2.0-liter 189hp four cylinder in the S; even cooler is the automatic transmission that uses GPS data to pre-select gears in preparation for upcoming hills — technology borrowed from another BMW sister-company, Rolls Royce.

Porsche

When Porsche announced the Cayenne SUV a little over a decade ago, there were quite a few skeptics; when they said they were building a full-sized sedan, even more came out of the woodwork. Now that they’ve debuted the 2015 Macan compact SUV, there’s an unsurprising level of silence — because it’s become apparent that Porsche has the know-how to succeed regardless of where they venture. Built on the massively successful Q5 platform, the Macan shares slight resemblance to the Cayenne with its overall design being noticeably sportier than the Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes GLK which with it will be competing; but where the Macan really sets itself apart is the interior — can you imagine piloting a compact SUV with the cabin layout of a 911? To us the prospect seems quite enjoyable; and if you opt for the 394hp Macan Turbo, trying to convince yourself you aren’t in a 911 could be next to futile.

There aren’t many cars that we like in convertible form as much as their hardtop counterparts — much less liking the topless version even more; but this Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet is as close to the top of our list as a Lamborghini Aventador Roadster. I can pretty much sum it up in one single stat line: the Cabriolet S has 560hp accelerates to 60mph in 3.1 seconds, and has a top speed of 195 — there simply aren’t more than a handful of convertibles out there that can do with the 911 can, and that’s what makes it so special. New on this iteration of 911 Cab is the addition of rear-wheel steering, and as always, it features fun-to-play-with active aerodynamics on the rear wing. If you can afford one you should buy one.

2014 Range Rover Sport

2014 Range Rover Sport

2014 Range Rover Sport

2014 Range Rover Sport

When it came time to completely redevelop their best-selling product, Land Rover did something that few manufacturers dare. Get this: they actually asked existing Range Rover Sport customers what they’d want to see in a new model — just imagine the dismay of the engineers! The end result is a vehicle that, at its very core, is more Range Rover and more Sport than its predecessor. What that means: at first glimpse, you’ll notice a much stronger resemblance between the Sport model and the flagship Range Rover of this generation — inside and out. And while they share not a single body-panel in common, following this design principle directly resulted in the eradication of any feelings that you’re purchasing a “lesser” product when you opt for the Sport — which is an extremely important distinction to make, because purchasing a Sport doesn’t net you any less of a car than the flagship Range Rover, rather a vehicle designed for an entirely different purpose.

Unlike the outgoing models, under their sheet metal skins is where these fraternal twins share the greatest portion of their DNA. Previously, the Sport was constructed in the more traditional “truck” architecture with its steel body shell resting atop a steel Discovery/LR3 frame — the pros of which; versatility, ruggedness, and ease of repair — are far outweighed in this particular application by the cons of excessive weight and torsional weakness. Thus, the new Sport comes heavily based on the Range Rover’s all-aluminum unibody platform. The results of this? A weight savings of around a whopping 800bs over the outgoing model and a simultaneous twenty-five percent increase in chassis rigidity. The results of that? Increased fuel economy, astounding on-road agility, a tranquil fortress of a cabin, and the ability to withstand the off-road punishment that all Land Rover vehicles are capable of incurring. Suffice it to say it would appear that the brand’s large investment in aluminum R&D is paying some major dividends.

Available motivation for the 2014 Range Rover Sport can be found in the form of either a new, 3.0-liter supercharged V6, or Land Rover’s formidable 5.0-liter supercharged V8 — both come paired to the same 8-Speed ZF (they’ve designed gearboxes for BMW, Maserati, Mercedes, Lotus, Porsche, etc.) automatic transmission and will get you going significantly quicker than the power plants they replace. Opt for the direct-injected, compact all-aluminum 510hp supercharged V8 with Bosch engine management and you can hit 60 MPH in reportedly just under 5 seconds — which, at 0.9 seconds quicker than the previous model is fairly astonishing considering it had the same number of ponies under the hood. And the sound…oh, the sound! Be prepared to scare small children and the elderly! For the more reserved, the supercharged V6 (which is actually based on the same engine block as the V8 but lacks piston #7 and #8) has 35 less horsepower than the 5.0-liter, naturally-aspirated V8 it replaced; and it will get you to 60 MPH in a modest 6.9 seconds, which is 0.3 quicker than the brutish V8 was.

In the realm of powertrain discussion, transmissions are nearly always overshadowed by the engines that drive them; but I’d like to give a shout-out to the aforementioned 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox. During our test runs around the hills of San Mateo County, whether I was behind the wheel of a V8 model equipped with optional steering wheel-mounted paddle-shifters or a V6 with the drive selector simply placed in manual mode, the crisp, near seamless on-demand upshifts and silky, precisely rev-matched downshifts absolutely made my driving experience. The combination of the broad powerbands characterized by both motors, coupled with being able to move rapidly through the gears in either direction, and balancing the car with engine braking while throwing it around tight, winding corners culminated in a driving experience that I’d frankly never experienced in an SUV.

2014 Range Rover Sport

2014 Range Rover Sport

Equally paramount to achieving the behind-the-wheel experience is the Sport’s double isolated, fully independent aluminum suspension and the electromechanical systems with which it integrates. Equipped with Land Rover’s Terrain Response 2 system, the 2014 Sport incorporates a fully adjustable air suspension, which boasts over ten inches of up/down travel in each corner and class-leading articulation, as well as an optional two-speed transfer case and locking rear differential. To put the breadth of this vehicle’s capability in perspective, it bests the Jeep Wrangler (arguably the most iconic off-road vehicle of all time) in both ground clearance and wading depth. The Terrain Response 2 system can now automatically analyze the topography and cycle through the five (general, grass/gravel/snow, sand, mud/ruts, and rock crawl) modes and adapt the engine, transmission, differentials, and vehicle stability programs to best suit the current conditions — having tested the system first-hand on a purpose-built off-road course, I can attest to its viability. Regardless of how “stuck” I thought I was, or how few wheels I had touching the ground, all I had to do was point the steering wheel straight while applying steady throttle input, and the Sport would simply manufacture traction when there was seemingly none. Additionally, V8 Supercharged models feature a ‘Dynamic Mode’ setting on the Terrain Response 2 dial, which configure the vehicle for maximized on-road agility.

One thing I’ve yet to touch upon is the Sport’s interior and exterior design. The vehicle is stunningly gorgeous inside and out, and the materials and finish are of the utmost quality and remain undeniably worthy of the Range Rover moniker. Inside the Sport you’ll find every safety and convenience feature known to man; Lane Departure Warning, Blind-spot Monitoring with Closing Vehicle Sensing, Reverse Traffic Detection, Surround Camera System, and it will even park itself with Electronic Park Assist. Best of all, the Sport now offers an optional 5+2 seating configuration, enabling you to demonstrate its bells and whistles to as many as six of your mates at a time… as well as an incentive for good behavior (it’s pretty tight back there).

The 2014 Sport will be reaching dealerships this fall with a starting price of $63,495 for a V6 unit. A V8 Supercharged iteration will set you back an extra $16,500 from the base V6 with the $93,295 Autobiography edition topping out the line.

 

Article by: Kevin Sohal

Formula 1’s Legacy in Long Beach

Formula 1’s Legacy in Long Beach

Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, United States of America. Friday 16th November 2012. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren MP4-27 Mercedes.  World Copyright:Alastair Staley/LAT Photographic

Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, United States of America.
Friday 16th November 2012.
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren MP4-27 Mercedes.
World Copyright:Alastair Staley/LAT Photographic

From 1976 to 1983, on one weekend per year, Long Beach was the absolute epicenter of the motorsport world. Before that era, Long Beach was not the swankiest of areas. Dominated by the port and Naval base, the type of clientele frequenting the downtown area was certainly not the upper echelon of society; Long Beach had gained a bit of a rough reputation. In an effort to clean up the city’s image and revitalize the area, the Queen Mary luxury liner was permanently docked in Long Beach harbor, but it wasn’t until a few years later when a British businessman’s vision of turning Long Beach into the Monaco of the west, that the city really began its massive turnaround.

Over the course of Formula 1’s 8-year stay in Long Beach, it regularly drew international attention to the area, bringing with it superstar drivers from the likes of Mario Andretti to James Hunt, and the glamorous opulence that follows the sport. With Hollywood just up the road, F1 and Long Beach seemed a match made in heaven. That is, until 1984 came round and the event was slain at the hands of F1’s boss, Bernie Ecclestone. Although the event had become a success, the city of Long Beach was simply unable to shell out the multiple millions Ecclestone demanded for a space on F1’s calendar. By the time F1 left, Long Beach had seen a redevelopment heyday; having erected the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center, Shoreline Village and Marina, and even the housing of the Spruce Goose in a dome right next to the Queen Mary, it would be nearly impossible to refute the claim that Formula 1 had two large hands involved in bringing life to the former port town.

Over the past thirty years the United States Grand Prix has either been non-existent, or bounced around from city to city with stints in Las Vegas, Detroit, Phoenix, Dallas, and most recently, Indianapolis. In 2012, after a six-year hiatus, the sport finally found a new home in our country: Austin, TX. And while this time F1 took to the first purpose-built facility in a city that has recently become known as the cultural hub of the Southwest, the anticipation for the event was as high as ever.

Last year’s event in Austin turned out to be a thrilling success. The facility was world class; the action went down to the wire with Lewis Hamilton stealing the lead from eventual World Champion Sebastian Vettel in the closing laps. Over 115,000 people were there to see it on race day – the second highest attendance of any Grand Prix last year. According to Formula 1 industry monitor, Formula Money, the city of Austin itself gained global media coverage worth over $191 million. With figures like this, it’s no  surprise that the attention F1 brought with it back then was able to spark a complete change the landscape of Long Beach.

Boxter

Boxter

 

Boxter S

Boxter S

 

I used to feel uncomfortable behind the wheel of a Boxster. Not the kind of uncomfortable behind the wheel you experience in a 1971 Ford Pinto because you know it will burst into flames if someone rear-ends you; but more like the kind of uncomfortable you feel when you’re riding in a hot pink, Barbie Edition Jeep Wrangler. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been an absolute fan of driving the Boxster; the balance of its chassis, predictable power delivery, and pinpoint steering has always been just what you’d expect from a car carrying the Porsche nameplate. But still, I’d be damned before I’d want someone I knew to actually see me piloting one — the wonderful traits named above were simply too masked by the inescapable aura of the Boxster’s feminine exterior styling; to be frank, it always looked like girl’s car regardless of trim level (save the Boxster Spyder). But dare I say, with the all-new 2013 model, Porsche may have finally banished the Boxster’s female-friendly figure.

The ground-up redesign of the Boxster has led to a much more exotic looking car. The front bumper has been shortened and the windshield has been moved forward, which create a profile that mimics those of automobiles closer to three times its price tag. Larger side intakes almost reminiscent of Carrera GT proportions further add to the masculinized styling, and a higher rear deck translates the cockpit-like feel inside to an aggressiveness that can be observed from all angles of the exterior. The layout of the instrumentation takes queues from the 911 and Panamera (which take theirs from the Carrera GT); an elevated center console and high-mounted shift lever add to the no-nonsense, race-inspired appearance. To round off the package, 991-like seats and high quality materials throughout make it the most expensive looking and feeling Boxster yet.

With horsepower increases of the Boxster and Boxster S only being +10 and +5 respectively (265hp and 315hp overall), Porsche has placed an emphasis on lightweight, high-strength materials to achieve the heightened performance that one would expect from a next-generation model. As a result, they’ve given the Boxster the lightest weight in its class, tipping the scales at only 2,888lbs. Both Boxster variants are available with either a standard 6-speed manual transmission, or an all new and improved 7-speed dual-clutch PDK unit — you’ll be faster to 60mph (5.8s vs. 5.5s Boxster, 5.1s vs. 4.8 Boxster S) and around a circuit with the PDK, but we all know there’s nothing like the feeling of rowing through the gears of a manual transmission. Also as expected are a host of improved driving aides, including a revamped Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system, and the new Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) system, which improves steering response by braking the inside rear wheel when cornering.

The new Boxster starts at a very reasonable $50,450, but we’d recommend dropping a little extra dime for the $61,850 Boxster S — both of which are available in L.A. dealerships as of now.

 

2013 Lexus GS 350 F-Sport

2013 Lexus GS 350 F-Sport

It’s always treat to get behind the wheel of the newest iteration of a model whose lineage you’ve always liked, particularly when over the past few years you’ve come to trust the manufacturer to be meticulous in innovation and avoid even the slightest of digressions over outgoing models.

The GS 350 F Sport has the indisputably most aggressive appearance in this class — take that back, aggressive is an understatement. The arrowhead-shaped LED running lights and cleaver-sharp bumper inlets combine to make the robotic-looking front end of the GS appear as pissed off as Optimus Prime during a Decepticon invasion. The wheel arches are stuffed with staggered-width 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped in sticky 235/40 front and 265/35 rear summer-compound tires, which add some bulkiness to the stance and create an air of stability, and the front brakes receive a substantial upgrade in size and pad compound over the standard GS 350. Finally, a subtle lip-spoiler on the decklid and a GT-car inspired rear diffuser to add to the trackday-worthy appearance of the F Sport.

To complement the aggressive exterior of the F Sport, the interior comes trimmed in striated aluminum and perforated leather, and also features a black headliner and aluminum pedals. Our test car was equipped with the F Sport-exclusive Cabernet Red leather upholstery — which, might be a little too extreme for most Lexus customers, but I feel that the contrast it creates against the black paneling and aluminum trim is artworthy . As if you could forget that you were inside the F Sport edition and not just a normal GS 350, an F Sport badge is inset to the bottom of the 3-spoke steering wheel, and front seat occupants will find themselves firmly held in place by sport seats with increased lateral support, and a 16-way adjustable driver’s seat with a Lexus-first; power adjustable side bolsters to firmly hold denizens of all shapes and sizes.

Continuing the trend of firsts; those who opt for the navigation system will be treated to an industry-first 12.3-inch screen atop the dash — think of it as an IMAX in your car — and if you opt for the 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, you’ll sure have better sound than the theater. But in all seriousness, the display truly gives an unprecedented amount of control over the interior systems of the GS, by allowing you to split the screen and simultaneously view/control the navigation map, as well as audio, climate, and a host of other functions. Additionally, a plethora of optional technological enhancements normally found only on flagship sedans are available, ranging from; heads up display (HUD), Lane Keep Assist (LKA) with Land Departure Warning (LDW), Intuitive Park Assist (IPA), Lexus Pre-Colllison System with Driver’s Eyes Monitor with Adaptive Cruise Control, and even a night-vision system.

Under the hood sits an updated-for-2013 – 3.5-liter, quad-camshaft, 306 horsepower V-6 with VVT-I (variable valve timing with intelligence) coupled to a 6-speed sequentially-shiftable automatic transmission. Utilizing both, port and direct injection, earlier torque converter lockup, and some slick fuel mapping, the GS 350 achieves 19/28 city highway mpg respectively — and still maintaining the ability to hurdle you to 60mph in 5.7 seconds while being enveloped in a deep, throaty growl created by the V-6 sucking air through an intake sound-generator. The driving experience is further invigorated by steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, automated throttle blips when downshifts are triggered, and the Lexus Drive Mode selector on the center console — featuring 4 distinct modes of operation.

In ECO mode, throttle response is decreased, the gauge cluster illumination changes to blue, and seat heating/climate control systems are even dialed down to promote maximum fuel efficiency. In Sport S mode, the gauge cluster illumination turns a deep hellish red, throttle response is sharpened, and transmission shiftpoints are optimized for maximum power output. On top of what happens when engaging Sport S, in Sport S+ mode the Adaptive Variable Suspension stiffens up, the traction control/VDIM backs-off (a tad — it is a Lexus after all), and the Variable Gear Ratio Steering decreases lock-to-lock from and already quick 2.8 to a snappy 2.2 — this feature proved invaluable during our handling tests around Mulholland. As a whole, the F Sport’s chassis and suspension left quite an impression — the handling is dynamic and the car feels a fraction of its true size in even the tightest of corners, my only complaint being that although ultra-responsive, the steering is just a bit too light.

When comparing the F Sport to others in its class, be it the BMW 535i, Mercedes E350, Audi A6 3.0T, or Infiniti M35s, the Lexus is hands-down the best value. With performance figures and pricing being so close among these competitors, the GS 350 took a clear edge when it came to driving experience and interior design. Although some may shy away from the untraditionally intimidating front-end design, those who choose to purchase a well-equipped GS 350 F Sport for around $58,000 can rest well, knowing they’re driving a class-leading automobile

Hot Golfer, Aaron Baddeley

Hot Golfer, Aaron Baddeley

Aaron Baddeley, Photo by Trisha Jochen

The Northern Trust Open, one of the oldest and most storied events on the PGA TOUR schedule, returned to Riviera Country Club in the Pacific Palisades for the tournament’s 86th anniversary. Debuting in 1926 at Los Angeles Country Club, the event has been staged at various courses throughout the Los Angeles area before permanently settling at Riviera Country Club in 1973. Outside of the major championships, the Northern Trust Open is the fourth-oldest event on TOUR, trailing only the BMW Championship, the Canadian Open and the Valero Texas Open. In 2011, the Northern Trust Open generated $1.6 million for Los Angeles charities, bringing the total charitable contribution to $53.5 million since the event’s inception. It is estimated that the Northern Trust Open helps 15,000 Los Angeles residents each year, which includes 5,000 kids who are beneficiaries of its charitable proceeds as distributed primarily through the Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce Charity Foundation.

LAX Magazine caught up with last year’s winner, Aaron Baddeley, while he was in town to defend his title. Aaron is very down to earth and was a delight to visit with.

Aaron really enjoys his annual trip to Los Angeles to play at the Riviera Country Club in the Pacific Palisades. He’s been coming for the past ten years and was thrilled to win the title last year. When he comes, he always stays in Santa Monica. He loves Santa Monica. The lifestyle of a walking community really appeals to him. He and his family walk to Whole Foods, restaurants, and shops and always appreciate the proximity to the beach. He finds the beach very relaxing, from the look of the water to the sound of the waves crashing. His favorite restaurant in the area is Sushi Roku but he also frequents Pinches Tacos in the beloved Santa Monica Place.

Aaron and his family live in Arizona and during the summer, when the temperature in AZ is off the charts, Aaron and the rest of the Baddeley family are part of the migration of “Zonies” who escape to California. The Baddeley family enjoys Monterey and San Diego as their favorite California destinations.

When Aaron is not working a.k.a. playing golf, he’s all about his family. He and his wife enjoy outdoor activities including hiking in the beautiful trails of Arizona and taking long walks. He also plays basketball and tennis. Aaron started playing golf because of his two grandmothers. His father wasn’t into golf at all, so it was up to the grandmas to kick-start the passion. That was 18 years ago at the tender age of 12 and since then he turned professional (in 2000) and has delighting fans around the world winning PGA Tournaments.

 

2012 Mercedes M-Class

2012 Mercedes M-Class

2012 Mercedes M-Class

Over the last two years the mid-sized luxury SUV segment has seen a steady transition from soft, curvy body lines to more angular and boxy styling. This trend started in 2006 with BMW’s current generation X5, continued with Lexus’s 2010 RX, and now Mercedes has followed suit with its all new third-generation 2012 M-Class.

The biggest changes to the styling of the M-Class come in the form of a pronounced front grille, sculpted shoulder line, and flared rear fender arches. The aforementioned combine with an elongated profile and a roofline that plunges to the rear to produce a much sportier and rugged look than its predecessor.

The initial release of the M-Class will include two formidable engine choices; a 3.5L 302hp direct-injected gasoline V6 in the ML350 4MATIC, and a 3.0L 240hp diesel injected V6 pushing out 455 lb/ft of torque in the ML350 BlueTEC 4MATIC.  Both engines feature substantial increases in power and torque over their older siblings while achieving roughly twelve percent better fuel mileage; this is due to upgrades including a low-friction cylinder wall coating derived from their AMG performance engines, a new seven speed automatic transmission with a more fuel-efficient torque converter, fuel, oil, and water pumps that only run when needed, and aerodynamic enhancements such as sealed joints between the hood and headlamps, front wheel spoilers, as well as optimized under-floor and engine compartment paneling.

4MATIC full-time all-wheel-drive comes standard on all models along with Hill Start Assist and Hold which prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards when pulling away on an incline, and a very slick Downhill Speed Regulation system that enables the driver to have the M-Class automatically sustain a speed set with the cruise control lever. Additionally, if you opt for the ON&OFFROAD package as well as the Dynamic Handling Package you’ll not only have increased traction in every situation, but also an impressive gain in ride quality.

2012 Mercedes M-Class

For years Mercedes has been known as a class leader in technological advances when it comes to safety, and the new M-Class is no exception. The numerous class-leading safety features include nine standard airbags, Attention Assist driver drowsiness detection, Lane Keeping Assist, and Pre-Safe Brake that will automatically apply the brakes in an emergency situation.  The interior of the new M-Class has a sleek feel that bears a much larger resemblance to its sedan counterparts than their SUV’s of the past. Also no surprise are the almost infinitely adjustable power front seats, 7-inch color display for the COMAND system, and the 6-disc CD/DVD/MP3/AM/FM/HD/SIRIUS Radio with Bluetooth telephony, auxiliary, and USB inputs.

The new ML350 4MATIC and ML350 BlueTEC 4MATIC are slated to arrive in dealerships in September, with pricing yet to be determined. www.mbusa.com

Lexus RX

Lexus RX

When Lexus first introduced the RX in 1998 by marrying the personality of a luxury car with the body of an SUV they not only created the crossover category of automobile, but also a core product that would become one of their defining automobiles.Lexus further revolutionized the crossover market in 2005 with the introduction of the RX 400h, the first (and only to-date) hybrid luxury utility vehicle. When Lexus announced that it was time to raise the bar yet again with their 2010 model, I headed to Napa Valley to see what was next for their top-selling product.

Although not a single body panel is the same as last year, there is a distinct familiarity in the outline of the new model. The new RX has increased in every dimension and features a lower profile combined with a wider stance which contributes to a much more masculine look than last year’s car. A quick glance at the next generation RX reveals the same trapezoidal grille, swept back headlights, and broad shoulder lines that have become synonymous with the Lexus L-finesse styling language.

A more thorough examination reveals new mirror-integrated turn signals, plated moldings added at the base of the doors, projector style headlights with available bi-Xenon HID lamps, and a bodycolored rear spoiler that houses the AM/FM radio antenna while also hiding the rear wiper from view. Eighteen-inch wheels come standard on the RX 350 while the hybrid receives nineteen-inchers from the factory. The RX 450h has also undergone the standard trim upgrades seen throughout the Lexus Hybrid family; these include blue tinted headlamp and taillight covers, an exclusive grille and front bumper, Hybrid logos on the rocker panels, and blue-tinted emblems all around.

Browsing through the interior of the RX you’ll find an elegantly designed gauge cluster with built-in Organic LED display, an evolutionary swooping dashboard and HVAC panel that you’ll either love or hate, as well as an immense amount of storage space throughout the cabin. Perhaps the biggest addition to the interior is Lexus’s Remote Touch controller which works similar to Mercedes’ COMAND and BMW’s iDrive systems, but instead of a meager rotating knob the Remote Touch system works like a computer mouse with controllable levels of haptic feedback that “locks” the joystick in place when the pointer is hovering over items on screen. Using the Hen Lexus first introduced the RX in 1998 by marrying the personality of a luxury car with the body of an SUV they not only created the crossover category of automobile, but also a core product that would become one of their defining automobiles.

Lexus further revolutionized the crossover market in 2005 with the introduction of the RX 400h, the first (and only to-date) hybrid luxury utility vehicle. When Lexus announced that it was time to raise the bar yet again with their 2010 model, I headed to Napa Valley to see what was next for their top-selling product.

Although not a single body panel is the same as last year, there is a distinct familiarity in the outline of the new model. The new RX has increased in every dimension and features a lower profile combined with a wider stance which contributes to a much more masculine look than last year’s car. A quick glance at the next generation RX reveals the same trapezoidal grille, swept back headlights, and broad shoulder lines that have become synonymous with the Lexus L-finesse styling language.

A more thorough examination reveals new mirror-integrated turn signals, plated moldings added at the base of the doors, projector style headlights with available bi-Xenon HID lamps, and a bodycolored rear spoiler that houses the AM/FM radio antenna while also hiding the rear wiper from view. Eighteen-inch wheels come standard on the RX 350 while the hybrid receives nineteen-inchers from the factory. The RX 450h has also undergone the standard trim upgrades seen throughout the Lexus Hybrid family; these include blue tinted headlamp and taillight covers, an exclusive grille and front bumper, Hybrid logos on the rocker panels, and blue-tinted emblems all around.

Browsing through the interior of the RX you’ll find an elegantly designed gauge cluster with built-in Organic LED display, an evolutionary swooping dashboard and HVAC panel that you’ll either love or hate, as well as an immense amount of storage space throughout the cabin. Perhaps the biggest addition to the interior is Lexus’s Remote Touch controller which works similar to Mercedes’ COMAND and BMW’s iDrive systems, but instead of a meager rotating knob the Remote Touch system works like a computer mouse with controllable levels of haptic feedback that “locks” the joystick in place when the pointer is hovering over items on screen. Using the System while driving is fairly difficult but thankfully the RX comes equipped with the best voice-recognition software in the business, which enables you to control virtually everything that the remote touch system would without lifting a hand from the steering wheel.

Receiving a revised version of last-generation’s 3.5- liter V6, the RX 350 sees 275 horsepower along with 257lb-ft of torque (90% of which is available from 2,300 to 6,100 rpm) thanks to revised intake and exhaust manifolds as well as low-friction coatings on the engine’s internal surfaces. Although these figures are only a 5hp and 6lb-ft increase and result in a minor gain in gas mileage to 18/25, the all new six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode allows the RX 350 to make the most of it by offering closer gear ratios than the previous version’s five-speed unit.The AWD model also comes equipped with a new electromagnetic clutch in the rear differential which controls front to rear torque bias.

Unlike the gas-only model, the RX 450h receives a completely new Lexus Hybrid Drive system. The new 3.5-liter Atkinson cycle V6 features an exhaust heat recovery system which recycles heat from the exhaust to accelerate warming of engine coolant, allowing engine shut-off to occur sooner and for longer distances. An Exhaust Gas Recirculation cooling system lowers emissions even further by reducing the need for fuel enrichment. Coupling the new V6 to a pair of new, lighter and more powerful electric motors results in a 27 horsepower increase over the RX 400h, bumping the overall power output to an impressive 295hp and an astounding 20% increase in fuel mileage to 32/28mpg city/highway.

Spending a full day piloting all four iterations of the new RX through the winding hills of Napa Valley revealed handling characteristics which were miles ahead of the previous generation; the new doublewishbone rear suspension and wider tires truly pay service to the RX’s road-handling prowess. With Lexus’s VDIM and available Pre-Collision System (PCS) as well as a class-leading ten airbags, the RX stays true to its heritage of being among the safest vehicles on the road. While everyone else on the road may not notice that the 2010 RX is a completely new from the ground up, rest assured that once you touch the push button ignition for the first time, you will know what truly lies beneath.

Kenny Kerzner : Keys to the City

Kenny Kerzner : Keys to the City

Kenny Kerzner has been renting cars to Hollywood’s main players since 1969.
He’s charming, fit and handsome, and at the tender age of 61, he looks more like a man in his early 40’s. Kenny and his team at Midway Car Rental rent their fleet of high-end luxury vehicles to some of Hollywood’s most famous characters. He provides discreet, personal services, and has been know to take calls and handle matters at 3 a.m. when “Jane Doe” is arriving by private plane and needs some wheels. We poked and prodded for details of any scandalous dirt but, being the consummate professional he is, Kenny would only divulge that when Notorious B.I.G. was gunned down in 1997, just outside of the Peterson Automotive Museum, Kenny had provided the car.

Kenny got into the car business in 1969, and rose through the ranks with great speed. As a student at Cal State Northridge, Kenny was doing whatever he could to stay out of the Vietnam War. He ended up getting a job with Warren Axelrod just as Warren was starting Southwest Car Rental & Leasing. The original car lot was located right in the heart of Beverly Hills on Canon and Brighton. A peace-loving beatnik, Kenny was also still diligent — tirelessly working three jobs, seven days a week. He says that he “wanted to do something big” so Mr. Axelrod gave him a job washing cars in his fleet and within three years, he was running the show as the President of Southwest Car Rental. At the time, nobody was renting high-end, luxury automobiles to the Hollywood elite, and it was Kenny who got the idea up and running. In twenty years, Kenny had built the business from one location to over 14 locations in three states including California, Arizona and Colorado.

As he grew his business, Kenny had a couple of big breaks.He was standing in line to buy lunch at Food King, which was located across the street from SCR in Beverly Hills when he met David Puttnam, who is now Lord David Puttnam, the awardwinning producer of many notable films including Chariot’s of Fire and Midnight Express. Puttnam ran with the British entertainment crowd and introduced Kenny to his clique that included Adrian Lyne, Ridley Scott, George Harrison and Mick Jagger. Almost immediately, Kenny was providing cars to anyone involved in the British invasion of Hollywood.

Kenny also benefitted from his proximity to the studios. SCR stored their cars in Century City, and had so many makes and models that whenever the studios needed a car for a scene, they would call up Kenny.It was Kenny who provided pictures cars for hit movies such as Car Wash and T.V. shows such as The Six Million Dollar Man, The Rockford Files, Tales from the Crypt, ChiPs and Miami Vice.

Kenny has also been successful in winning alliances with top hotels in the area. Back when the W in Westwood was the Westwood Marquis, a young Kenny spent every day for two weeks being kicked out of the General Manager’s office for being “a nobody” until one day he was given the opportunity to provide a Lincoln Town Car with an hour’s notice. Kenny rose to the challenge and was granted a long-standing business relationship.

These days, Kenny is as active as ever. He wakes most mornings before dawn, completes his multiple hour workout, and gets on to his Blackberry to connect with his East coast clients. Kenny and the team at Midway continue to provide transportation services for L.A.’s Hollywood and business elite, and he says that his success is based on “relationship marketing.” Recently, a music star was being hounded by the paparazzi and Kenny was required to purchase a new $100,000 car, have the windows tinted limousine black and then have the car delivered to the star within two hours, the next day he had to switch to a BMW 7 Series and the next day a Bentley. It’s all just another week in the life of Kenny Kerzner, the man with the keys to the city

Last Glimpse: The Layover Blues

Last Glimpse: The Layover Blues

Golfers — are you sick of doing mind-numbing spreadsheets or sending trivial emails just to fill up time before your next flight at LAX? Don’t be one of the herd that waste hours listening to the same songs on their Ipods or reading the same Sports Illustrated issue for the hundredth time. Take advantage of the time the airlines have gladly bestowed upon you and head off to nearby Rancho Park Golf Course.

Located just fifteen minutes from LAX, this 18-hole beauty offers challenges for all levels of players. So much so, that even legend, Arnold Palmer (yes, he played golf before drinks were named after him), struggled there during a PGA event, shooting a 7 over par on the 18th hole. A bench commemorating Palmer’s poor showing is there to remind all that even the best of golfers have bad days.

Rancho Park provides plenty of challenges, from sandy “beaches” to those trees that seem to tractor beam any balls that get too close. It has been the site of many Los Angeles Opens, giving it strong credibility among professional golf’s best. Also, during these tough economic times, Rancho Park’s $50 rounds are a welcome relief for your pocket book.

So stop watching the clock, turn off the laptop and leave the layover blues behind at Rancho Park Golf Course.

Midway Car Rental: King of the Road

Midway Car Rental: King of the Road

Style is king in Los Angeles. There’s really no getting around that fact.

This is a city where looking good is a way of life. So when you come to L.A., you’re going to want to roll around in an automobile that reflects your personality and personal swagger. That’s where Midway Car Rental comes in. If you want to cruise L.A. in style, they’re the spot to call first.

We promise that Midway Car Rental has even got that slick Lamborghini from your favorite rapper’s new video. Rick Mullinax of Midway exclaims, “From the Aston Martin Vantage or Lamborghini Gallardo, to a Mini Cooper or Smart Car — convertibles and Southern California go hand in hand. Luxury convertibles are always in high demand! We have something to fit everyone’s taste and budget.” They most certainly do, and it’s not hard to feel like a movie star while getting behind the wheel of one of their vehicles.

Isn’t that why we flock to L.A?

Since their diverse clientele’s taste varies, they’re also willing to accommodate any taste. Mullinax continues, “We have made many dreams come true for our clients!

Whether it’s a couple traveling to L.A. for the first time looking for a fun convertible to sightsee in, or someone who always dreamed of driving a red Ferrari along the coast, we can make it happen!” Even though the cars definitely reflect La La Land’s glitz and glamour, Midway still has the environment on the brain. “Going Green is a trend that nearly every company — auto-related or not — is adopting. Midway has been renting Hybrids for years, but has increased its fleet significantly over the past two years. More customers are moving away from renting large sedans and SUV’s to asking for smaller, more fuel efficient cars, and we are adjusting our fleet mix to meet customer demands.” You can still be green and tear up the roads with one of their vehicles, and that’s quite a beautiful thing.

Ultimately though, the customer comes first, and that’s why Midway remains at the forefront of luxury car rental companies in Los Angeles. “Because we are a boutique company, we offer personalized service that is second to none, and we have the selection of cars to match our service. There are many car rental companies that do lots of things well, but there isn’t one that combines everything that Midway does in Southern California. We focus exclusively on this market, and our goal is to simply be the best at what we do.” There’s no question that they are.

- RICK FLORINO

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

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.

Golf Heaven

Golf Heaven

SCOTT CAMPBELL

Traveling is a fickle beast. Sometimes you’re too early, sometimes you’re running late and sometimes you receive the death sentence for all Los Angeles travelers — FLIGHT CANCELLED! It might as well be called “Commuter Hell.” Fortunately, LAX is right next to Golf Heaven — the Trump National Golf Course, located in the hills of Palos Verdes.

Just thirty minutes from LAX this place has more style than the hair of the owner whom the course is named after. Trump National is an 18-hole beauty that runs along the majestic coastline of the sparkling Pacific. The most expensive golf course ever built, Trump National features Irish green fairways, expansive lakes, and white-sand bunkers.

Are you traveling without your clubs? No problem. Trump National has top of the line rental clubs for you, plus two sleeves of golf balls, only $80 per set. Maybe your game needs tweaking — again, no problem. Trump National is staffed with P.G.A. certified pros who offer everything from fullswing analysis to short game clinics and course management techniques.

In between rounds, grab a bite to eat at one of Trump National’s two restaurants. For you sports fans, check out The Golfer’s Lounge for a tasty burger, ice cold beer and some sports viewing pleasure. However, if your taste buds require finer foods, you’ll find California Cuisine at Café Pacifica.

Green fees range from $75-375 throughout the day, plus there are Junior rates, for those of you looking for some play time with your kids. So, for you LAX travelers who are scratch golfers, or just novice hacks who enjoy an occasional day on the links, your golf heaven is nearby at Trump National Golf Course.