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Nudging 253 mph in a Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport

From 0 to jail cell in less than three seconds.

by on Jun.14, 2013

A Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport at rest.

I’ve driven some really great cars in my lifetime.  Ferraris, Bentleys, Porsches, Mercedes – you name it, and chances are I’ve driven it.  That’s the life of an automotive journalist. But my head is still spinning and my heart is still pounding from a recent drive in what can be considered to the ultimate automobile, the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport.

It certainly is one of the most expensive, pushing $2 million.  And among the most powerful, nudging up towards 1,200 horsepower. And the fastest, pushing to speeds at which large jetliners would long be airborne. And the most exclusive, with production measured in the tens, not tens of thousands.

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The Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport is one of those rarities which, when given a chance you make sure to get behind the wheel.  But first, a little history.

The French car company with the Italian name (and now owned by German car company Volkswagen) was founded in 1909 by Ettore Bugatti.  Bugatti built some of the world’s most beautiful and successful cars, often raced against his main nemesis, Bentley.

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First Drive:2013 Audi S8

A gold medal contender.

by on Feb.19, 2013

Audi delivers a new flagship with the 2013 S8.

The Auto Union was an amalgamation of four German automobile manufacturers, founded during the Great Depression. The company eventually evolved into present day Audi, and the four rings that adorn the grilles of the brand’s modern offerings represent the four original companies of Auto Union: Audi, Wanderer, DKW and Horch.

Each company brought specific technology to the Union, and today Audi is widely known for building All-Wheel Drive cars that feature safety, prodigious performance and superior technology – as well as for its benchmark interiors.

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When you look at the four-ringed Audi grille, you can’t help but compare it to the Olympic symbol — five interlaced rings.  For 2013, just imagine that the Auto Union had an additional company–adding that fifth ring, as the all-new Audi S8 is truly a gold medal contender.

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First Drive: 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed

Autobahn Worthy

by on Jan.03, 2013

Tearing up the Autobahn at triple-digit speeds.

It was a scene I did not expect, but should have given the prodigious performance of the 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed.  Not satisfied with the mere 198 mph top speed of the “base” Continental GT, Bentley’s team of engineers, led by the effervescent Brian Gush, massaged the potent twin-turbo W12 engine in the GT Speed to output 616 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. Top speed after the upgrades: 205 mph.

We were encouraged by the Bentley media team to safely explore the upper limits of this beast, keeping in mind that our primary test route, the famous Autobahn network of highways across Germany, did have some sections with well-enforced speed limits.

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My driving partner and I were a bit late as we approached our departure from scenic Bavaria, Germany, as we had taken a bit too much time shooting video of the new GT Speed during our lunch stop.  So to make our international flight back home, we bypassed the route chosen by Bentley and tried typing the direct destination into the car’s GPS.

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First Drive: 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK

In hindsight, the future is bright, indeed.

by on Jul.12, 2012

Though a mid-cycle refresh, Mercedes makes some notable changes to the 2013 GLK.

When Mercedes-Benz launched the then new GLK in 2009, the auto industry was still in a bad way.  Sales were down in every segment, and some questioned the sanity of the German maker for launching a premium, small, SUV into the worst recession the industry had seen in at least half a century.

But hindsight is always 20/20, and the segment is rife with competitors, most notably the BMW X3 and Audi Q5.  Both are solid vehicles, but both need to be very afraid of the 2013 GLK 350, a mid-cycle update that is better in every way than its predecessor.

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Let’s start with styling. The 2009 GLK looked like a mini G Wagen (which Mercedes says is the bloodline vehicle for the GLK).  The 2013 model maintains the Gelandewagen’s rugged appeal, but adopts the swoopy look that now adorns many other Mercedes models, including the 2013 SL550 sports car.

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First Drive: 2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 Turbodiesel

A powerful performer that also delivers great mileage.

by on Dec.09, 2011

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTec.

Let me get this out of the way: I’ve been a fan of Mercedes-Benz products for decades.  I remember my freshman year in college, when everyone still drove American cars, and my buddy Joe had a mint condition 230 sedan.  Yes, it was slow, but it still was a Benz, and I not only felt cool riding around in it, but I also felt incredibly safe, and for good reason, as Mercedes-Benz has long been a leader in safety technology.

Graduation in the early 80s saw diesel powered Benzes at their peak.  You could choose from entry level diesel sedans, to a cool coupe, to the top of the line S-Class diesel.  In fact, 80% of Mercedes-Benz sales during that time were diesel-powered models. But due to increasing diesel fuel prices, and a general dislike of the then smelly, slower accelerating process that was diesel, sales waned, and the last full-sized Benz diesel sold in the United States was the 1995 S350.

So, perhaps, it’s appropriate that the diesel new flagship of the German maker’s U.S. line-up is the new 2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTec.

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Though Mercedes restarted U.S. production of diesel powered cars and SUVs several years ago, model year 2012 represents the return of the big S-Class diesel, and it is an incredibly fun car to drive.  Because high torque diesels make their power at low RPM, when you put you foot into the new S-Class, it moves out with startling authority (0-60 mph in seven seconds). And with new technology, very low sound levels accompany this powerful acceleration.  Take one on a test drive, and if you didn’t know going in you were driving a diesel model, I’d bet nine of ten drivers would not know they weren’t driving a gasoline powered car.

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