January 04, 2013
Audi aficionados knew exactly what was expected when the German purveyor of luxury cars announced their new line of “S” performance vehicles including the S6, S7 and S8, which is the company’s four-door breadwinner in terms of power output and performance. But how could that be with the fierce and mighty V10 being supplanted for a smaller, more efficient twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8? It’s called German evolution.
Audi changed degrees with enhancements to their renowned quattro all-wheel drive technology, presented fascinating new products like the Q7, R8, and A7, enriched their interior cabins from an already stellar platform, and introduced magnificent engineering technology to ensure that the driving experience is pleasurable and safe. Now, the 2013 S8 is a new topic of conversation. The twin-turbo, 4-liter V8 produces 520 horsepower, helping the aluminum space frame go from 0 MPH to 60 MPH in 3.9 seconds. Mate the powerplant with Audi’s 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with manual shift mode, and the vehicle achieves 15-city MPG and 26-highway MPG. Cylinder on Demand also aids in this mileage by transitioning eight cylinders to four cylinders when full power is not required. For example, fuel reduction at 55 MPH is 12%.
As for the interior, I felt special to say the least as the 22-way, diamond cross-stitched sport seats massaged me pleasantly. My mocha leather cabin was infused with a plethora of carbon fiber to intensify the level of craftsmanship of this German touring sedan, including the gear selector, seatbacks, dash, and center console. As I gripped the thick 3-spoke leather wheel and ignited the red Start/Stop button, the needles on the gauges rotated, the LCD screen rose from its embedded position, and the acoustic lenses from Bang & Olufsen’s big-ticket, concert-themed sound system emerged out of the dash. LED lights can also brighten up the cabin when needed.
Audi Connect, launched in the “A” cars, uses an array of various multi-media technologies along with Audi’s Multi Media Interface (MMI) for driver convenience. MMI is one of the most advanced telematics systems in the auto industry. When inputting the address in the Google Earth navigation system—which displays from the aforementioned LCD screen—superior visual computing takes over and guidance is enhanced by displaying satellite and 3D images of buildings and places of interest, as well as “Street View.” Online searches also come from Google, just as on your smartphone or laptop, and you receive weather, gas prices, RSS news feeds, and sports scores. Speaking of your smartphone, up to eight devices can connect wirelessly and search the web by way of the S8’s T-Mobile-provided hotspot. The first six months of hotspot ownership are free, with a separate monthly fee charged thereafter.
Once you reach your destination and step out to look back at the vehicle, you know you have properly arrived. With a massive grille that dominates the fascia and front air intakes, the larger 21-inch 5-star bladed rims and matching aluminum optic side view mirrors, and quad exhaust, this is not a typical A8 but an “S” driven by the very best. All you need to justify your $110,000 purchase.
—KIMANTI D. RAWLINS, automotiverhythms.com
December 06, 2012
Lamborghini adds another roadster to its stellar line-up, dropping just in time for summer 2013 sunshine. The new Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster will very likely become the most sought-after production vehicle from the Raging Bull, while simultaneously raising the bar for the world standard of luxury, open-air supercars. The Italian exotic, which is not a limited-production model, is currently available for ordering.
Molded from Lamborghini’s successful coupe, which was presented during the summer of 2011 and has enjoyed a sales run of 1,300 units, the Aventador convertible emblematically commingles sophistication and motoring technology with pure driving gratification. New geometric lines and a removable top will distinguish the two body types.
—KIMANTI D. RAWLINS, automotiverhythms.com
November 24, 2012
The teddy bear as we know it has come a long way since being modeled after President Theodore Roosevelt’s hunting legend. Montauk designer Ralph Lauren’s take on the icon is a festive adornment for your cuff and a sophisticated way to add whimsy to a traditional winter ensemble. Combine the Gatsby-like Teddy Bear links ($795) with a collared shirt and white dinner jacket for martinis at the office holiday party, and enjoy a more adult take on a childhood classic. 31-33 Main St., East Hampton, 324-1222
November 16, 2012
Life’Style has the casual, chic feel of the East End
"When I first moved to the East End 11 years ago, I couldn’t find one store that had what I needed; I opened Life’Style in 2007 to fill that gap,” says owner Debbie Rudoy. “Life’Style has that casual, chic feeling you want out East with the sophistication and style aesthetic of a Manhattan store.” Stocking a superlative medley of clothing and accessories, the upscale boutique boasts designer denim from leading labels including J Brand, Current/Elliott, and Rag & Bone. Effortlessly chic sweaters from Inhabit, White + Warren, and Autumn Cashmere are perfect for crisp holiday evenings, while exceptional footwear from European brands like Fiorentini + Baker and Isabel Marant offer year-round luxury. “What makes us special is our mix of basics with our collection of unique accessories,” says Rudoy. Rare Jérôme Dreyfuss handbags are displayed alongside sophisticated Calleen Cordero leather boots and vibrantly colored Diane von Furstenberg apparel and accessories. Especially covetable this holiday season are the sumptuous scarves by Italian designer Faliero Sarti, Ilux’s cozy cashmere socks, and Isabel Marant’s hard-to-find Dicker boots (shown; $565) perfect for an off-season day of relaxation on the East End. 127 Main St., Sag Harbor, 725-1667
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ERIC STRIFFLER
November 14, 2012
It was a sunny and breezy day in the Sonoma and Napa Valley region of Northern California for a drive in the shapely 2013 GranTurismo Sport by Maserati in Blu Sofisticato. The Italian purist provided highlight after highlight during my enlightened test drive through the vineyards—especially since the coupe speaks elegance and dominance simultaneously.
With uphill bending roads and open straightaways, I was able to truly understand Maserati’s new GT. And that’s just what the car is—a GranTurismo whose mission is not fixated on all-out acceleration or to become a full-fledged sports car, yet hones the ability to go fast intelligently. The GT Sport’s interior focuses on prestige and character rather than urgency, as demonstrated by its supple leathers, refined woods, interchangeable trims, and contrast stitching.
Detail is especially focused in a few key areas. The new steering wheel features deep thumb indentations that allow you to grip the wheel properly. Leather can be selected in any interior hue Maserati offers, while the ring material can be wood, Alcantara, or carbon fiber with Trofeo shift paddles that can be ordered in carbon fiber. The GT Sport’s new leather seats are designed in-house and feature integrated headrests for both front and rear passengers. A Bose audio system and a multi-media system with navigation and Bluetooth complete the technology package.
As for the body, it’s pretty much the same except for a few accent pieces. The rear tail lamps now have smoked lenses, new front parking sensors have been added to the aerodynamically enhanced front end, the headlamps have new LED daytime running lights, and the side grilles have been enlarged.
Under the hood, Maserati’s venerable 4.7-liter V8 remains, but with a slight power increase to 454 horsepower. And although it’s only 10 added horsepower, I certainly felt the difference from 2012’s GranTurismo S—lighter 20-inch Astro rims wrapped in staggered Pirelli P Zero tires offered amazing stability and grip, while specially-designed anodized blue Brembo six-piston calipers provided superb stopping power.
While thoughts of serenity urged me to drive more like a chauffeur, that notion played second fiddle to exploring the depths of the “sports” button while pushing all 454 horses to the limit. See, Maserati’s “sports” engagement alters the vehicle in five key areas simultaneously. They say this one optimal setting works for their customers. Others may beg to differ since drive style is so random from person to person. But whatever your preferred driving style may be, one thing is certain—the GranTurismo effectively combines sports car and style. Pricing starts at $129,500 after a destination and gas-guzzler tax.
—KIMANTI D. RAWLINS, automotiverhythms.com