Posts by Brett Berk
- Motoramic5 days ago
When a new sibling is born, the formerly youngest child in the family will often demonstrate signs of what is known as regression, attempting to compensate for the loss of a privileged status by dropping down a few developmental milestones. He might give up on achievements like using the toilet, feeding himself, and sleeping through the night in the hopes of returning to being properly pampered. What is less frequently discussed is the countervailing force of progression. The former lowest rung on the birth-order ladder will take the opportunity of the newborn’s appearance to define himself in opposition to this interloper. He’ll acquire new skills and capabilities that were within his grasp, but not seen as necessary or useful before. He’ll thus use the birth of the adorable and guileless new baby as a means to demonstrate the ways in which he is not a baby anymore: taking a jump and learning to read, or dress himself, or get a job.
- Motoramic8 days ago
If you look at all of the supercars just unveiled at Geneva’s Palexpo hall — the Ferrari California T, the Koenigsegg One:1, the McLaren 650S, and the Lamborghini Huracán — you will notice one thing they have in common: they’re not for you. They’re for rich people with wheelbarrows full of extra money to spend on speed and sporty/flashy good looks. The “cheapest” of them, the Ferrari, costs more than current median home price in the USA, which stands at around $195,000, and they accelerate well beyond $200,000 for the Lambo and McLaren, and onward into the millions, like, two or three, for the special Koenigsegg.
- Motoramic10 days ago
For a brand founded on fanciness, a flagship must not only be sumptuous and splendid, it must make a statement. And while Mercedes produces about a dozen models priced above the six-figure mark, and a handful that crest $200,000, it has only one flagship — and it’s not the $208,000 SLS AMG GT Roadster. It’s the $215,000 CL65 AMG coupe: a twelve-cylinder, twin-turbo behemoth predicated on the idea that, at the top of the economic food chain, there is always a plutocrat willing to pay a premium for profligacy. For those apex predators, the tri-star brand just introduced a replacement for the CL. Benz had already extended the top-notch S-Class nomenclature to encompass vehicles that may have been marketed as Maybachs if that experiment hadn’t been such a flop including S600, Limo, and purported Pullman and Landaulet replacements. So it makes sense that the new old flagship follows suit. The CL is dead. All heil the S-Class Coupe. Though we’re only seeing the “base” S550 here in Geneva, with a twin-turbo 4.7 liter V-8 (449 hp/516 lb.-ft) and a seven-speed automatic, we can extrapolate from this handsome, albeit slightly tarpon-esque two-door into S63 and S65 AMG coupe — and rumored convertible — permutations. We find its fluid shape cohesive, if a bit familiar (hello, 6-Series), and though we generally dig Benz’s recent surfboard-imprinted flank design, there might be a bit too much pressure on the longboard on this one. It looks a bit like gramps has cinched his belt too tight, with waist meat overflowing up into the already narrow daylight opening. Thankfully, a B-pillarless design is retained, which, along with a giant MAGIC SKY DARKENING LCD-impregnated glass sunroof, should reduce any suffocating references to Poe’s immuring Cask of Amontillado.
- Motoramic11 days ago
The second question everyone will have about the new Koenigsegg One:1 is how fast will it go? The as yet unproven answer is 273 mph, which is fast enough to top the record holding Bugatti Veyron Super Sport (269.86) and the recent unofficial one-off run by the Hennessey Venom (270.49) for the title of world’s fastest production car. The first question will be, how do you pronounce Koenigsegg? That one we can answer with certainty; it rhymes with "bun fig leg."
The One:1 name is a bit easier to explain. The car weighs about the same number of kilograms as its twin-turbo V-8’s horsepower output, somewhere in the mid 1,300s, depending on whom you ask. Of course, since both of these numbers are somewhat hypothetical, they could have easily called the car the Koenigsegg Golden Dragon and claimed that the weight and power matched that of the mythological beast and its breath.
- Motoramic11 days ago
The Ferrari California has been oft maligned since its release in 2008, mainly by fools who never drove one, and/or viciously competitive adrenaline junkies with no understanding of the joys of comfortable and expedited Italianate cruising.
Ferraris, as anyone with any real knowledge of the brand’s history will attest, were not always or only corner-carving track demons. Certainly, company founder Enzo Ferrari got his start as a racing tuner, and there have been many Ferraris that have carried forth this ballsy, high-strung legacy. But some of the greatest Fezzas in history have been big, luxurious, powerful, front-engined grand tourers , meant, as their abbreviated name implies, for long drives in high style.
The California was created as a sort of entry-level GT, with a potent and sonorous V-8, a power retractable hardtop, and room for four passengers (so long as two of them were infants and/or imaginary.) As such, it was an extremely entertaining companion for freeways, mountain twisties, and weekend romps. It was also quite lovely, save a cap that fit as awkwardly as that Arby’s hat of Pharrell’s and a rear that looked to have completed a few million too many power squats.
- Brett Berk at Motoramic3 mths ago
Let’s set the record straight on a couple of old saws about Aston Martin, the storied British marque that has been rather explosively blowing out the candles on its 100th birthday cake this year with a wholesale refresh of its entire array of sultry coupes, convertibles, and sedans.
First, we would like to dig a grave for the irksome canard that claims that the Ford Fusion looks just like an Aston. This statement could only be considered true by someone who also claims that a Ford Econoline van with the album art from Meatloaf’s “Bat Out of Hell” airbrushed on its flank resembles precisely Charon’s ferry, or someone has never seen an Aston Martin in the glistering flesh. Even Helen Keller, prior to the working of all of her miracles, could judge the preposterousness of this bootleg off-knocking.
- brett_berk at Motoramic3 mths ago
Pity poor BMW. Once the golden boy high school quarterback of the luxury sports sedan market, with handsome good looks to match its unassailably limber moves, it is now being jeered by even its most resolutely adoring fans, who claim that it has begun losing its perfectly coiffed hair and acquiring a wobbly running game. Moreover, it’s being rushed well behind the line by a fresh crop of hard-charging underclassmen like the crisply cut Cadillac ATS and the maladroitly muscular Lexus IS.
At least it had the coupe market quite well to itself, with its rigid, nimbly two-door, heretofore known as the 4 Series. Not so much anymore. Rumors abound of a small Caddy coupe, and more than rumors just presented themselves here in Tokyo in this, the production-ready version of the Lexus’ IS two-door variant. Following nonsensical contemporary naming rules, it has introducing itself to the world as the RC.
- brett_berk at Motoramic5 mths ago
According to the undeniable power of aphorisms, “there are no maybes in math.” According to the great chronicler of the upper classes F. Scott Fitzgerald, “the very rich are different from you and me.” By applying the transitive property, this begs a rather obvious question: How do the rich do math?
Let’s say, for example, that you’re a hedge-funded oligarch in the market for an expedient and exclusive new sedan, and in your comparison set are vehicles like the $200,000 Bentley Flying Spur, the $250,000 Rolls-Royce Ghost, and the $300,000 Bentley Mulsanne. (These are the base prices for each car, if such prices can fairly be referred to as “base,” and in Rich Math, they can.) These cars are all astounding. So, within the realm of the remarkably recherché, how do you perform the cost/benefit analysis and decide whether the Mulsanne is 50 percent better than the Spur, or the Ghost is 20 percent worse?
- brett_berk at Motoramic5 mths ago
In the American automobile marketplace, as in life, sometimes one advances simply by staying the course and not cocking things up. Consider Audi, which has seen ascendancy in the sporting luxury car segment by remaining steadfast to its staid yet well-rendered minimalist design identity, and consciously not following the path of its German cohorts at Mercedes and BMW as they’ve turned their backs on decades of sober and/or adrenalized formality and scurried down the rabbit-hole of the baroque, the blobbed, the bootied, and the be-flanged.
- brett_berk at Motoramic6 mths ago
Either we are finally living in the future the automakers have been promising us for all these years, or we are undergoing a paradigm leap in the way that outlandish automotive concept cars are able to forecast our plausible reality. Whatever the cause in this chicken/egg tautology, the production version of the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid just revealed here at the Frankfurt Auto Show looks hauntingly similar to the hypothetical versions that the Bavarians have been unveiling on show stands, and in the impossibly-punctuated film Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol , for the past few years — fanciful materials, bent Aalto-esque flanges, scissor-hinged doors, and 94 mpg efficiency figure intact.
And it apparently will drive like the future as well, with a teensy, but broadly turbocharged, 1.5 liter three-cylinder engine amidships that at 228 hp puts out more power per liter than any of BMW’s other vehicles (M cars included), mated seamlessly with a 129 hp electric motor up front. Creating even more intriguing complexity is the fact that each of these powerplants receives its own transmission: a two-speed unit for the battery whizzer, and a six-speed automatic for the gassy one.