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LaFerrari ….that’s Italian for “The Ferrari”

Posted by carsdiva on June 3, 2013

The name speaks for itself.  Supercar of supercars, successor to the Enzo Ferrari, calling it “THE” Ferrari, is only fitting.  Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, Ferrari’s President, said “we chose to call this model LaFerrari because it is the maximum expression of what defines our company- excellence.  Excellence in terms of technological innovation, performance, visionary styling and the sheer thrill of driving.”

LaFerrari frontI’m a bit behind on this one, but given my obsession with Ferraris, a post was inevitable.  Without further adieu, let’s take a look at Ferrari’s fastest car yet….

The LaFerrari was unveiled at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, and it’s the first production model designed in-house. It boasts a 6.3-liter V-12 internal combustion engine, coupled with Ferrari’s F1 dual-clutch gearbox, and it’s said to be 5 seconds quicker than the Enzo and 3 seconds quicker than the [current] F12 Berlinetta on the racetrack.  Ferrari’s first “mild hybrid”, the powertrain is a combo gasoline-electric hybrid.  The HY-KERS battery pack found in LaFerrari was developed with the Formula 1 racing efforts, and uses two electric motors– one to power the wheels and the other for the ancillary systems.  The battery is charged during braking and when more torque is produced than required (i.e. the excess energy is transferred to the battery.)  During acceleration, it works in conjunction with the 800hp-output 6.3L V-12 engine, producing additional power equivalent to 163hp (for a whopping total of 963hp,) while torque is said to be greater than 664 lb-ft.

Don’t think you can be uber green and drive this new supercar on pure electric mode.  Not going to happen.  As Roberto Fideli, Ferrari’s LaFerrari Interiortechnical director, says, it’s “designed for extreme performances,” and thus, top speed in full battery mode is limited to 3mph.  So basically you can roll in or out of your garage, driveway, parking spot, etc…….you get the point.  On the other [environmentally conscious] hand, CO2 emissions are lower than the output of the Enzo and F12 Berlinetta.

I should also mention that the interior features a carbon fiber cockpit, also inspired by Formula 1. The driver’s seat is fixed to the cockpit, but lo and behold, the pedals and steering wheel are adjustable.

Only a limited number of LaFerrari units are being built– 499 to be exact. Montezemolo goes on to clarify:  “Aimed at our collectors, this is a truly extraordinary car which encompasses advanced solutions that, in the future, will find their way onto the rest of the range, and it LaFerrari Rearrepresents the benchmark for the entire automotive industry. LaFerrari is the finest expression of our company’s unique, unparalleled engineering and design know-how, including that acquired in Formula 1.”  A bit of pride in those statements, no? Clearly not intended for the masses, only the true aficionados are entitled to such a supercar.

And at a mere $1.3 MILLION (taxes, title, license and registration not included :)), not for the frugal either– or last-in-line for that matter, as they’ve already sold out.  But hey, what’s a small fortune if it gets you the epitome of the Ferrari nameplate?

Can’t wait to hear THAT engine roar….

In the meantime, I’m going to go use my Ferrari blowdryer.  (Perhaps “obsessed” is an understatement.)

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Team Chevy’s Fast & Furious Female….

Posted by carsdiva on May 12, 2013

Kudos to the up and coming, [female], IndyCar Racer, Simona de Silvestro.  A native of Switzerland, she joined the KV Racing Technology team in October 2012, which competes in the IZOD IndyCar Series.  For this year’s series, she’ll be driving the Chevrolet-powered #78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy car. An advocate of clean air and a sustainable future, she’s a proud owner of a Chevy Volt.  Check out this video to see what Simona’s got to say…..

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A Christmas Fantasy… 2013 McLaren 12C Spider

Posted by carsdiva on October 17, 2012

And it’s back again– the Neiman Marcus Christmas book!  The 2012 edition has been revealed, and yes, several things have caught my eye, but I’d like to highlight one item in particular, featured in this year’s catalogue (fantasy section, of course) — a special edition red 2013 McLaren 12C Spider!  Yup you heard it folks.  And only 12 of them will be available, for the mere price of $354,000.

In addition to the vehicle itself, the lucky recipients will get the opportunity to wine and dine VIP-style with the automaker’s Chairman, Ron Dennis, as part of their 3-day, business-class trip to England. (Would you expect anything less?) And along with this, included is a tour of the McLaren Technology Center. Furthermore, they’ll all receive a Neiman Marcus luggage set.

On a charitable note, for every vehicle sold, Neiman Marcus will donate $3,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters– a charity that focuses on mentoring children.

Now for a bit of info on the vehicle… it’s a volcano red convertible (Spider), equipped with special-edition features, and a 616 horsepower (443 lb-ft of torque), V8, twin-turbo engine, paired to a 7-speed, dual-clutch transmission.  Speed tops off at 204 mph and it can go from 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds.  The black leather interior is stitched in red, the exterior trimmed in gloss black, and the catalog labels it as “the drive of a lifetime”……no doubt.

Do you have someone special in mind? Or are you interested in being on the “receiving” end?  Well you may want to drop the hint early this year.  Neiman Marcus will begin taking phone orders on October 24th, and delivery is expected in early 2013.

Hmm…yup.  Adding this one to my [fantasy] list!!

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A League of Its Own: 2013 Porsche Boxster S

Posted by carsdiva on July 9, 2012

When I received the invite to the Porsche Exchange’s launch of the new 2013 Boxster S, I was initially super excited, only to find out I wouldn’t be in town for it.  After talking to my friend, Faris Nijim, Sales Manager of this Highland Park, IL store, and hearing about the success of the event, he invited me to the store to take the vehicle for a spin. Score!  VIP treatment all the way…

The WOW Factor

ImageI arrived at the store and after chatting for a brief moment, we went right out to the vehicle.  Exterior styling is superb– classic Porsche-esque, but nonetheless, distinctive from last year’s model.  The doors are now unique from the other Porsche models, boasting a distinctive character line– something a Porsche aficionado would definitely notice. There are 5 wheel options, including the 20’s that this S boasted.  Yes, I like my big wheels.

We jumped in the vehicle, and Faris pulled it out of the lot and drove a few miles before we switched seats, so I got a chance to really take in the vehicle and experience the ride as a passenger, (which was comfortable and smooth), before focusing on the thrill of the powertrain first-hand. High-quality materials adorn the interior space, and clearly attention was paid to even the smallest details.  Being the fashionista that I am, I noticed the fine leather and even the stitching.  The center console is elevated, and for those of you lacking in NBA-caliber stature like me, this was [ergonomically] pleasing. I could reach everything without feeling like I was going to Imagepull a muscle in the process, or overall exerting too much effort.  And for those of you that are a bit taller, an extra inch was added to move the seat back for your comfort, probably made possible since the wheelbase was increased by 2.36 inches.  We aim to please.

Numbers, please…

Falling in the mid-engine range of Porsche’s model line-up, the new Boxster S boasts 315 hp and 266 lb.-ft of torque at 6700 rpms for both the 6-speed manual transmission and PDK versions.  (The Boxster produces 265 hp and 206 lb.-ft of torque.)  With the S getting from 0-60 in 4.8 seconds with the manual, and 4.7 seconds with the PDK, (Boxster does in 5.5 seconds with the manual and 5.2 with the PDK version), there’s no denying this is a serious vehicle, though personally, I didn’t get to try this on the regular streets– maybe next time…on a track.

PDK

What is PDK?  It stands for Porsche Doppelkupplung and it’s their true dual-clutch, 7-speed automatic transmission, essentially giving you the benefit of the manual transmission with the ease of an automatic.  It uses two separate clutches, for the odd and even gears respectively, but functions as one unit.  It operates in automatic mode, but also gives the driver the ability to shift manually, if they so choose.  To be perfectly honest, I was leery about driving an automatic model, as a true “car girl,” I want to switch my own gears, and basically, I want to be in control.  Most females do, right?  However, I have to admit, my expectations were clearly surpassed.  The sportiness and fun-to-drive aspect were all there–  even without using the paddles I didn’t feel like I sacrificed anything by driving the PDK. We took a route that was full of winding roads that allowed me to really feel how the vehicle handled going in and out of corners (at various speeds), and how quickly it shifted with my maneuvers.  The cornering also reflected the precise steering, (as a result of my driving skills, of course,) but also with the help of PTV (Porsche Torque Vectoring), which transfers torque from the inside to the outside tires to help with stability.

There’s been some hype about the electric motor-assisted steering, but in my opinion, I found that the road feedback was still there.  Plus, the system is not always active- it merely kicks in when necessary, and furthermore, it requires less work and saves weight, thereby improving fuel efficiency. One thing that did take a bit of getting used to was the automatic start-stop function.  It helps with the [amazing] fuel economy numbers– 30 mpg!!  However, I’ll have to admit, when I came to my first stop, it was so quiet that I worried for a split second that the vehicle had stalled, albeit we were in the PDK automatic.

At Your Fingertips

Ahhh, technology.  Wonderful and useful in so many ways, yet the bane of my existence.  So what about the PCM (Porsche Communication Management)?  Well I found it intuitive and very easy to use.  I may be a bit of a “techy” Imagemyself, however, I found that it was simple enough that someone like my father would grasp how to use it.   The mastermind of the system is the 7-inch, hi-res, touchscreen, coupled with a few conventional buttons (which seem to be disappearing in vehicles). New for this year’s model is the hi-res 4.6 inch screen on the right side of the instrument cluster, which allows you to control functions such as the navigation, audio system and vehicle settings with a toggle switch on the steering wheel. I found this uber convenient, as it keeps your hands on the wheel, and your eyes forward, rather than engaging your peripheral vision to look at the center stack.

There is a voice control system that’s also available, which allows you to control most of the PCM via voice, however the S version that I drove was not equipped with this functionality, so I can’t really give my perspective as to how well it functions. (Though I hear it’s good…no pun intended.)

“Ridin’ with my Top Down”

Much to my pleasant surprise, we put the top down while driving, (under 31 mph), to get the full effect of the cabrio, of course.  I wanted to test out the Bluetooth capability, and figured why not really test the waters and do it with the top down, especially since this model had the optional wind deflector to help reduce ambient noise. I decided to call my best friend (figuring she’d share in my thrill of driving the new S.)  I found it easy to dial using the new TFT screen, along with the toggle on the steering wheel. The ring was loud and clear, followed by her clearly heard voicemail message… probably better she didn’t answer (for safety purposes, of course.)

Yes, music is my mantra, (especially with all of the driving I do), so the audio system is crucial in my evaluation process.  I’m delighted to say that the S was equipped with the BOSE Surround Sound System (not standard, but an Imageavailable option), and it didn’t disappoint, even with the top down.  I feel like sometimes with convertibles, you have to blast the sound system to an ungodly [disruptive] level in order to hear your music, which either distorts the sound quality or leaves you with a headache.  This did neither– loud or soft, top up or down, the sound quality was exceptional.

With the temperature gauge reading 103 degrees, and feeling the sweat accumulate on my back even with the ventilated seats, the top didn’t stay down for long.  I’ll admit, I didn’t want to feel like those silly people that keep their windows up, blast the heat–or AC for that matter, only to keep their top down.  A bit illogical if you ask me.

Size Matters

As for the trunk space, well let’s be realistic– you’re not buying a Porsche for the cargo room, (or if you are, you may want to opt for the Cayenne.) However, for those of you golf fanatics, a full set of clubs does fit in the rear– tried and tested.  Oh yeah, or you could always opt for the front seat.  And no, I’m not a connoisseur, but a novice-in-training at best.  Somehow I often find that Porsches and golf go hand-in-hand.

Just a reminder you, do get both front and rear trunk space, and for those opting for the convertible, when the top is lowered it doesn’t hinder the space as it sits on top of the engine bay.

Gimme a “Brake”

Porsche claims that “braking performance is as essential as driving performance.” And if you’re a car guy/gal, or simply concerned about safety, you’d agree. Both the Boxster and the S models are equipped with four-piston aluminum monobloc fixed calipers at the front and rear.  Discs are internally vented and the diameter of the front discs on the S have increased by .59 inches.  Larger brake pads and a new brake booster improve braking and component stability.  For those of you looking to quickly distinguish the two models (other than looking at the blatant “S” on the rear,) calipers on the Boxster are black, while those found on the S are red.

ImageFor performance-minded drivers, an optional PCCB, (Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake,) is available, which enables shorter braking distances in the toughest road and/or racing conditions.  Its extremely low weight helps to increase performance and fuel efficiency simultaneously.

Another interesting fact, as pointed out by my friend, Faris Nijim, is that the e-brake is now electric, saving a whopping 26 lbs than the former [traditional] e-brake.

Porsche Stability Management (PSM), is standard, and it includes sensors that monitor speed, yaw velocity, and lateral acceleration of the vehicle.  Utilizing this information, the PSM applies the brakes to individual wheels to maintain or restore stability of the overall vehicle.  Specifically on wet or low grip surfaces, PSM helps to improve traction.  I can attest to this as during my test drive, I “accidentally” encountered major road construction, (inevitable in the city of Chicago.) I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it actually ended up being positive, for-the-first-time-ever, as I got to first-hand experience the system in action. (Much more effective in validating the functionality, than just hearing about it.) If you really want the sporty drive, you can turn the PSM off, but given I wasn’t on a track and had real-life obstacle like the CPD to worry about, I left it on.

Additionally important safety features to note are the engine drag torque control (EDC), pre-charging of the brake system, and brake assist.  And no, for those of you control freaks out there, calm down, it doesn’t stop the car for you.  Key word: assist.  Basically the brake pads are placed on the discs when the system detects a “panicked” braking situation, thereby increasing brake power and maximizing deceleration quickly and effectively, when the need arises.

“Expect the Exceptional”

Image

If you’re impatient, I’m sorry to say, but there’s a four month waiting list for the new Boxster, with a base price of $49,500, and dealers like the Porsche Exchange won’t be seeing more vehicles in their showroom until August (and October for the S, which starts at $60,900.)  But hec, they say the best things in life are worth waiting for, right?

For those of you that haven’t read my previous post on the GT2 RS launch at the Porsche Exchange, I must add that this store is the number ONE Porsche dealer in the Midwest, and ranks amongst the top in the nation.  Their motto is “you will be treated as we would like to be treated,” and it’s clearly evident from their sales performance, customer loyalty, and numerous accolades, classifying them as a “premium” Porsche dealer.

Funny, I remember my mom teaching me something like that when I was a little kid.  If only more people would take that into consideration, the world would be a bit better off.  Perhaps more car dealers should take note and follow suit. And here’s something revolutionary, it may help mitigate the negative stigma that accompanies the auto industry. Just sayin’…

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And the Guest of Honor is…. Porsche 911 GT2 RS!

Posted by carsdiva on December 23, 2010

Last week I had the privilege of attending an uber-exclusive Porsche event at The Porsche Exchange in Highland Park, IL, where the “guest of honor,” for you Porsche fanatics, was the rare and limited vehicle on the showroom floor.  Upon arrival, I was greeted by the very hospitable Sales Manager, Faris Nijim, who led me to the 2011 Porsche 911 GT2 RS.  Yes, it was the car itself, live in the showroom!

Limited to only (2) public appearances in the U.S., The Porsche Exchange was the lucky contender for the second viewing of the vehicle.  The former was the unveiling at the L.A. Auto Show back in the fall.  Nijim proceeded to tell me that the next stop would be the Porsche Sport Driving School in Birmingham, AL, and then went on to share some of the details of the vehicle.

The Ultimate Driving Machine…

A Porsche enthusiast himself, Nijim was eager to relay that only 138 customer cars would be built for the U.S., out of a total of 500 GT2 RS vehicles to be built worldwide.  In the showroom was #31 out of 500, (which we noted from the numbered commemorative plaque on the glovebox.)  The MSRP base price comes in at a mere $245, 000.  Well, being the fastest and most powerful street-legal car Porsche has ever built and unmatched in its class, I thought it a relatively conservative number– relatively speaking, of course.  That being said, the top track speed was recorded at 205 miles per hour, boasting 620 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 516 pound-feet of torque at 2,250 rpm, or a mind-boggling output of 172HP per liter.  Equipped with a 3.6L twin-turbocharged engine and 6-speed manual transmission, reaching 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds, this Porsche is not for the meek or inexperienced driver. The quarter mile flashes by in a tick over 11 seconds at an incredible 129 MPH!  The color palette includes GT Silver Metallic (which is what I got to see at the dealership), black, white or red, and weighs in at 3,075 lbs as a result of a primarily carbon fiber construction and even an available lithium-ion battery.  One thing I found rather entertaining was the “emblem” that adorned the hood, which was indeed a decal rather than the traditional metallic ornament, to eliminate even the smallest ounces.

The national delivery date is set for February, and customers were given (2) options:  they could either pick-up the GT2 RS at their Porsche dealership, OR, at no additional cost, they have the opportunity to attend the Porsche Sport Driving School (Birmingham, AL for the Midwest), where high-performance, professional drivers will teach them the techniques and skill to handle their ultimate driving machine.

A bit about The Porsche Exchange

To give you a bit of background on the store, The Porsche Exchange has been family-owned for over 30 years, at their current location for over 7 years.  And for those of you movie buffs out there, this was the dealership that appeared in the movie “Risky Business!”  They are ranked the number ONE store in the Midwest, and fluctuate between number 12-15 in the entire country out of 200 franchises.  This past year (2010) they sold close to 400 new cars– not too shabby for an unstable economy, and out of the 138 new 911 GT2 RS vehicles, they are getting two of them.

One thing I noticed immediately, was the immaculate showroom, and Nijim went on to explain that The Porsche Exchange is one of the first stores to align with the corporate identity design.  Furthermore, because of their status and deep involvement with corporate, they are one of the first dealerships to pilot the “Porsche Experience”, which he explained as being the ultimate program in Porsche identity, which they also helped to create.  I’m not talking product knowledge here, that’s an obvious requirement for an employee.  The program is simply about the customer experience, and how Porsche wants to be the first and only automaker with a globally certified customer-facing workforce..  Beginning in March with the pilot, The Porsche Exchange will be investing over $4,500 per employee to participate in the program.

Expect the Exceptional

Delving further into the customer service experience displayed at The Porsche Exchange, I had the opportunity to speak with co-owner & VP, Bruce Semersky, who shed light on a particular situation that he encountered.  Ladies (and gentlemen), how did The Porsche Exchange build their top-notch reputation?  Well after speaking with Semersky, it was evident that even from the onset of ownership, they were a forward-thinking group.  He told me a story about his experience with an employee that insulted one of his female customers back in the 70’s.  Luckily for the customer, Bruce happened to be in the vicinity and intervened, AND proceeded to fire his employee for not displaying all due respect to the customer because she was female.  Impressive, to say the least!   Ladies… this is a store I’d buy my Porsche from, hands down.

No wonder they’re the number ONE volume Porsche store in the Midwest– they stand behind their motto “Expect the Exceptional.”  Actions speak louder than words, that’s for sure.

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Memorial Day 2008: “A Virgin Experience”

Posted by carsdiva on May 28, 2008

I bet you’re wondering what this one’s about, right? Well, it’s probably not what you think, but quite exciting nonetheless…

My day began at 7am as I ventured to the Autobahn Country Club, in Joliet, IL, founded by “car guy” Mark Basso, and home of the 2nd largest racing venue in the United States (hence no golf carts present.) I was invited to test my skills on the race track by my dear friend, Freda Mooncotch, Founder of Alphawomen.com. A track enthusiast herself, she joined the Laps, Inc. organization, which was created by and for track aficionados and enthusiasts, for those who need to satisfy their “need for speed,” as well as for those individuals interested in improving their skills behind the wheel. Shawn Young, Founder of Laps, Inc, gave me the inside scoop on the organization, and introduced me to many of the other members and instructors, who were passionate about the track and enthusiastic to help out the newcomers like me.

I was lucky enough to be partnered with Jeff Henderson, professional race car driver, and Chief Instructor of NASA (National Auto Sport Association) in the Midwest region, as my personal instructor for the day. One of the first things that Jeff told me was that racing is the “best thing you can do with your clothes on,” and, as a former virgin to the track, I can attest to that!

Jeff Henderson & Demetra Markopoulos

On the track… WOW what a thrill!

I now have a whole new appreciation of racing- or I should say “being on the track” to be politically correct. It’s much more challenging than I expected, and such a great time. I think the best part of being on the track was the adrenaline rush as my speed was climbing, taking the curves at just the right angle to stay on the track and yet not lose momentum as I came out and reaccelerated, all the while knowing that at such a high speed I could slip and easily end up off the track. (And for those of you that need to relieve some stress, here’s a great place to do it). Woo-Hoo! Each time I hit the track I found myself wanting to go faster and push harder, as the anticipation and thrill of finding out just what my car could do overwhelmed me.

As to my expectations for the day, well I thought I’d have a good time as this was a whole new experience for me, but ultimately the experience exceeded even my best expectations- I had a blast! Being on the track behind the wheel of my Mazda RX-8 gave me a greater understanding of the power and capacity of the car, as well as a surge of confidence and empowerment.

A Leap of Faith

I also had the opportunity to ride as a passenger, taking a leap of faith with my instructor, professional racer, Jeff Henderson, as we hit the track in his Mustang and then in a Corvette Z06. I learned a lot from watching him drive, and really got to experience what it was like to push a car to its limits! (As a novice I wasn’t quite ready to do that myself.) However, there’s something ridiculously exciting about being behind the wheel that I find difficult to fully explain, but I can tell you that I can’t wait to do again… and next time push myself and my car to the next level. And yes, I plan to “reignite” that feeling very very soon!

In addition to driving techniques, I also learned some interesting things throughout the day. Did you know that your car insurance lowers if you take an HPDE (High Performance Drivers Education) class?! Sounds counterintuitive, no? Well it’s true because by learning the techniques involved with racing, you really learn how to better control your vehicle, thus making you a “smart” driver.

Porsches on the Autobahn track

And in Conclusion…

It’s all fun and games, even after someone “hits the wall” with a hot red Corvette, garnering about $15k in damage (and no it wasn’t me.) However, after Jeff and I exhausted his Mustang, we moved on to a Corvette and we did spin off the track once… (I told you I had a blast!)

Thankfully I left with my Mazda RX-8 in one piece…and in the same condition I arrived. (Well, other than the empty gas tank, no oil, and a load of dirt on the once sparkling rims- proof I was there …) Nevertheless, I have to admit…being on the track is like a drug, and I’m addicted!

Move over Danica, the CarsDiva is ready to roll! 

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