Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jaguar XK Coupe

Flowing lines, echoed lineage, distinctive design touches, all sculpted in lightweight aluminum—an amalgam of power, dramatic styling, relevant technology and pure luxury.1
  • 300-horsepower, 4.2-liter engine
  • 6-speed ZF automatic transmission with Jaguar Sequential Shift steering wheel mounted paddle shifting
  • Standard 19-in. Carelia wheels
  • Optional 19-in. chromed Sabre wheels
  • Optional 19-in. chromed Sabre wheels with run flat tires
  • Optional 20-in. Senta wheels
  • Dual-stage airbags and side, seat-mounted airbags for front occupants
  • TracDSC (Dynamic Stability Control)
  • Enhanced Computer Active Technology Suspension (eCATS)
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System
  • Keyless Entry and Keyless Start
  • Bright-finish side window surround and trunk plinth
  • Body-colored spoiler and power side vents
  • Dual tailpipes with bright finishers
  • Supple, hand-selected leather seating surfaces
  • 10-way power-adjustable driver and front passenger seats
  • Rich, high-gloss Burl Walnut or satin-finish American Walnut interior trim
  • 7-in. touchscreen for audio, telephone, climate, navigation, personalization, and valet
  • Available Luxury Package
  • Available Aluminum Luxury Package
  • Front and Rear Park Control
  • SIRIUS® Satellite Radio (subscription required)(

Ferrari F430 Spider in Performance Car

“imagine the noise you’d get if you put Chewbacca’s tackle in a blender, and that’s what the Ferrari’s V8 sounds like when it comes on cam. It is Brilliant!”

Instantly the small Ferrari feels right; light, keen, wieldy, and explosively fast, it is everything you would expect of a mid-engined Italian.

The F430 is, unquestionably, the pinnacle.

The way it drives is every bit as special as the spec sheet promises, the gearbox hammering through its ratios at lightning speed, V8 soundtrack ricocheting off the Welsh hills, grin irremovably planted on driver’s face. It’s a more urgent experience than the Diablo promises, tangibly more special than the R8, and absolutely everything a Ferrari should be.

Even when it oversteered on the cold tarmac, which it did a couple of times, the compact size and beautifully-judged steering was so good it just wasn’t intimidating.

“The thing with the Ferrari is the sound. I was following two cars behind in the Renault, wearing a helmet, and I could hear it perfectly. Just awesome.”

Laban sums the F430 up in typically succinct style: “It’s still the one with all the magic.” As the pictures prove, it would look great on a skiing holiday too. (

Friday, January 2, 2009

Audi A6 Avant

Sporty Station Wagon

The Audi A6 Avant comes only in a single version. It has a 3.2-liter V6 engine, Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive and a Tiptronic six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift capability. (The A6 Sedan, by comparison, can also be ordered as a front-wheel-drive car, or as one with a V8 engine.)

The Audi A6 Avant has a richly appointed, bank-vault-quiet interior and a supple suspension — this wagon excels at isolating occupants from road irregularities. It is also an agile handler that doesn’t mind some spirited driving from time to time.

The quattro system offers superior grip on slick roads and improves dry-road handling and performance. As in any all-wheel-drive system, one of quattro’s downsides is poor fuel economy.

Standard safety features for the Audi A6 Avant include front, front-side and side-curtain airbags, electronic stability control, brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution. Rear side airbags are optional. (

Lexus IS 250

A Kinder, Gentler Sport Sedan

The European-flavored Lexus sedan rides on a longer wheelbase with a lowered stance than the model it replaced. The IS 250 offers an attractive exterior, with muscular styling cues borrowed from the larger Lexus GS sedans. In addition, the IS 250 offers a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive.

The 3 Series still leads the pack in this compact segment, even though the Lexus IS 250 performs competently in many ways. It is comfortable, with plenty of standard and optional features. It also has parent company Toyota’s reputation for long-term reliability going for it. But it doesn't quite match up to the 3 Series in terms of driving dynamics.

The X Package of optional trim and equipment is offered for the rear-wheel-drive IS 250. The package is designed to enhance the car’s looks and handling. It includes a stiffer, sport-tuned suspension, alloy pedals, illuminated scuff plates, a lower front spoiler, and alloy wheels. A power sunroof can also be added. A Premium Package of options that costs extra on the rear-drive model is standard with the all-wheel-drive model. It adds heated and ventilated power front seats with perforated leather upholstery and bird’s-eye maple trim.(

BMW Alpina B7

Seven Series on Steroids'

The Alpina B7 is for hardcore car enthusiasts who think the capable BMW7 Series Sedan isn't fast or exclusive enough. The Alpina B7 takes the 7 Series Sedans' basic characteristics and amplifies them. But be ready to open your wallet and pony up well over six figures for one of the rarest cars on the road.

Besides the exclusivity factor, the main difference is under the hood. Alpina fits BMW’s 4.4-liter V8 engine with a supercharger to boost power and pairs it with a six-speed automatic transmission. That combination produces 500 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 516 pound-feet of torque for a 4.8-second sprint to 60 miles per hour. Not bad for a car that weighs more than two tons.

Alpina is based in Buchloe, Germany, and is well known among industry insiders. It has been modifying luxury cars for decades and the quality of its work is high enough to be endorsed by major automakers like BMW.

An example of the companies engineering prowess and impeccable craftsmanship can be seen in the steering-wheel-mounted buttons it adds to the B7 that allow drivers to shift gears manually.

To sharpen handling, Alpina adds huge 21-inch wheels with Z-rated performance tires and firms up the suspension, which includes BMW's Active Roll Stabilization system to help keep the car from leaning through hard turns.

A modest rear spoiler aerodynamically improves stability, handling and performance at high speeds, and aggressive-looking front and rear bumpers further distinguish the B7 from the standard 7 Series. As is typical of Alpina conversions, the overall effect is subtle; only devoted car enthusiasts are likely to know the difference just looking at the car.

Chevrolet Corvette Coupe

The Chevrolet Corvette Coupe is a quick and stylish ride, with red, white, and blue roots dating back to the original version that premiered in 1953. Though less polished than competing European sports cars, the Corvette is a stellar performer. For the money, it's hard to find a faster car. The standard coupe features a removable, body-color roof panel, and a 6.2-liter V8 engine that channels 430 horsepower to the rear wheels. A short-throw six-speed manual transmission is standard. An optional six-speed automatic gives the driver a choice of two automatic modes, plus manual-shift capability via steering-wheel-mounted paddles. The high-performance fixed-roof Corvette Z06 coupe comes with an even bigger 7.0-liter V8 that generates more than 500 hp and assorted performance-minded upgrades.

Chrysler Crossfire Coupe

Specs at a Glance:

Seating Capacity: 2
Available Engines: 3.2L V-6 18 valve SOHC SMPI
Drivetrains: Rear-wheel drive
0-60 mph: 6.9 seconds

Fuel Economy (city/hwy): 15/23 mpg
Standard Features: Power driver seat, Heated front seats, Radio data system, Weather band radio, Brake assist, Driver front impact airbag, Passenger front impact airbag, Driver side impact airbag, Passenger side impact airbag, Electronic stability
Optional Equipment: GPS

Nissan 350Z Coupe

The rear-wheel-drive, two-seat Nissan 350Z is a traditional grand touring coupe, combining exhilarating performance with a comfortable interior in a sleek-looking package. Its V6 powerplant delivers quick acceleration with good fuel economy. The standard transmission is a six-speed manual. A five-speed automatic transmission is optional. Handling ranges from very good in its base form to superb in costlier versions, thanks to suspension and tire upgrades.

2008 Ford Mustang Coupe

Few cars embody rugged all-American individualism like the Ford Mustang. And thanks to retro design cues and gutsy engines, the current version, which debuted in 2005, successfully captures the brawny coolness of the groundbreaking 1967 original.

The Mustang Coupe is available with a V6 or V8 engine, and five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. It is an excellent value, offering more style and performance than most vehicles in its price range. It seats four, but the backseat is cramped.

Besides the tiny rear seat, the Mustang Coupe's major drawbacks are its lack of sophistication (inherent in all muscle cars) and claustrophobic interior.

The 2005 redesign incorporated elements from the original ’60s Mustangs: a long hood, short trunk area, three-element tail lamps, side scoops and blacked-out front grille with a galloping-pony emblem. The interior has similar throwback appeal. But the redesign was more than skin-deep, with wheels pushed farther toward the corners of the car and a six-inch longer wheelbase, providing both better stability and additional passenger room.

The base Ford Mustang Coupe has a 210-horsepower, 4.0-liter V6 engine. Performance buffs will appreciate the Ford Mustang GT Coupe variation, with its all-aluminum, 4.6-liter V8 engine that generates a healthy 300 hp and 320 pound-feet of tire-burning torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on both versions, while a five-speed automatic is optional.(