Automobile Magazine http://www.automobilemag.com No Boring Cars! | Reviews, Auto Shows, Lifestyle Sun, 28 May 2017 16:25:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.4 Tiny Car Art http://www.automobilemag.com/news/tiny-car-art/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/tiny-car-art/#respond Sun, 28 May 2017 12:00:19 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1159549 In a world where your mail, music, and phone fit in your pocket, there’s almost certainly room in there for art as well. Nothing has made that easier than Instagram, where artists the world over constantly share their creations. This month we’ve whittled down that endless crop to three creators who, through their originality and...

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In a world where your mail, music, and phone fit in your pocket, there’s almost certainly room in there for art as well. Nothing has made that easier than Instagram, where artists the world over constantly share their creations. This month we’ve whittled down that endless crop to three creators who, through their originality and imagination, take us back to the adventure-rich days of childhood when we’d never be caught without a dream-inspiring toy car in our possession.

Tiny Cars 03

Tiny Cars Project

You can’t help but do a double take at the goofy, blobbish outgrowths of José Quintela’s boredom. Each of these weird bumper-mobiles looks like it’s ready to click on and zip on its merry way. Portugal-based photographer Quintela was playing with Instagram’s Layout function when he decided to create a mirror image of a car’s wheel and fold it on itself. “I was trying to make a perfect circle with different shapes, and then I liked the fact I had a wheel with a kind of futuristic-looking car around it,” Quintela says. “After that I couldn’t stop.” He quickly realized it’s the setting that makes the image. “Horizontal lines and a rich background. The diversity is what makes it cool.”

Tiny Cars 05

Travelling Cars
@travellingcars

London-based Swiss photographer Kim Leuenberger has been to 23 countries in the last year alone, and her miniature vintage cars are always along for the ride. For the last seven years she’s been staging Bugs, Microbuses, Minis, and more in stunning outdoor tableaus. Often loaded up with roof racks full of tiny surfboards, skis, or canoes, the well-traveled stars of her Instagram feed make us want to ford rivers and climb mountains with our own heaps of junk. For Leuenberger, the joy of exploration and discovery is what lends life to her tiny car photography. “A car for me is not about speed,” she says. “I see faces in them, so they become little companions. The photos are about seeing everything with fresh, new eyes. I never want to lose that naive outlook.”

Tiny Cars 06

Matchbox Art
@matchboxart

Whether it’s cars, sneakers, or famous landmarks, these fascinatingly detailed portraits have an endearing matter-of-factness. The real genius behind South African artist Huzaifah Hathurani’s micro-paintings is the way he composes his images with a sense of craft and scale. Little tubes of paint, colored pencils, and needlelike brushes not only expose the machinery behind how Hathurani creates his images, but even on a cellphone the viewer understands how tiny they truly are. Like real Matchbox cars, we want to collect every last one of them.

Photography courtesy of artists

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Bowler Bulldog is a Defender Rally Car with a Supercharged Jaguar V-6 Engine http://www.automobilemag.com/news/bowler-bulldog-is-a-defender-rally-car-with-a-supercharged-jaguar-v-6-engine/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/bowler-bulldog-is-a-defender-rally-car-with-a-supercharged-jaguar-v-6-engine/#respond Sun, 28 May 2017 09:01:13 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1164207 While Bowler’s more ludicrous offerings such as the Nemesis, Hellcat, and EXR have gone the way of the dodo, the company will still sell you some fairly righteous rally trucks based on road-going Land Rovers. The latest of these offerings is called the Bowler Bulldog. Based off a Land Rover Defender pickup, the Bulldog uses...

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While Bowler’s more ludicrous offerings such as the Nemesis, Hellcat, and EXR have gone the way of the dodo, the company will still sell you some fairly righteous rally trucks based on road-going Land Rovers. The latest of these offerings is called the Bowler Bulldog.

Based off a Land Rover Defender pickup, the Bulldog uses a 3.0-liter V-6 diesel that generates 300 horsepower and 515 lb-ft of torque. Those are good stats, but Bowler wasn’t satisfied and decided to drop in the supercharged V-6 engine out of a Jaguar F-Type into the Defender for some extra fun.

In this guise, the Bowler Bulldog develops about 440 horsepower, and apparently is one of the tightest engine bays you’ll come across from Bowler. And that’s saying something as the company used to stick big V-8s into their cars not too long ago. Inside, almost everything from Land Rover has been stripped out, apart from the dash, which has been modified for rally use. What wasn’t changed was Jaguar’s own gear lever, which is straight out of the donor F-Type.

Awesome? Maybe not.

Here’s the problem. You can’t legally buy a turn-key Bowler Bulldog with the supercharged Jaguar V-6 either in the U.K. or here in the U.S. as the Jaguar engine isn’t on the company’s available list of parts. It was purely a one-off design; although we’re sure if you asked nicely enough and handed over a wad of cash they’d be more than happy to accommodate your request.

For those that want a supercharged Bowler outside of the U.K., what you could do is pick up an old Defender, order every part from Bowler’s catalog, and find a trashed Jaguar F-Type to pull the engine out of. Then it wouldn’t be all that difficult to put it all together to make your own street-legal supercharged V-6 Bowler.

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Delight in the Dirt http://www.automobilemag.com/news/first-drive-2017-bugatti-chiron/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/first-drive-2017-bugatti-chiron/#respond Sun, 28 May 2017 07:01:19 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1158314 I’m harnessed in and HANS-ed up in the cockpit, cinched tightly in the Sparco seat. Underneath the hood is a custom-built, twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 pushing 550-plus horsepower. There’s no windshield, webbing covers the side-window openings, and the entire vehicle is giant tube frame wrapped in a fiberglass body with a suspension designed to handle relentlessly...

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I’m harnessed in and HANS-ed up in the cockpit, cinched tightly in the Sparco seat. Underneath the hood is a custom-built, twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 pushing 550-plus horsepower. There’s no windshield, webbing covers the side-window openings, and the entire vehicle is giant tube frame wrapped in a fiberglass body with a suspension designed to handle relentlessly punishing terrain. The road ahead is a dirt path. This is either going to be fun or a colossal failure.

“It’s a six-speed sequential transmission,” says a voice in my ear—or, more accurately, in my helmet—as the words of Jeff Proctor, chief driver and ringleader of the factory Honda Racing Ridgeline team, are piped in through a speaker. We’re about to light off toward the challenging trails of Stoddard Valley off-road park in Barstow, California. “You’ll want to lift off the gas then really jam it into gear.” Got it. I think.

This is my first time behind the wheel of a vehicle like this, and it is more than a bit intimidating. Proctor first takes me out as a passenger, and as you’d expect he has the truck running flat out over massive washboards, shooting roosts of dirt from its 37-inch General Tire Grabbers and barreling into tight berms, its Fox Shox and Eibach springs rebounding as we go.

Honda Performance Development engineered this Ridgeline’s engine, one very loosely based on the powerplant from the production Ridgeline. The V-6 sounds like a small army of angry hornets at full throttle. Proctor keeps it expertly in the powerband as we bust, smash, and crash our way over Stoddard’s extensive network of trails. “This is about eight- to nine-10ths race pace,” he says as my insides shuffle from my throat to my gut and back again and again. I’ll pass on the extra tenths, thanks.

An affable native Southern Californian who was extremely patient with a noob like me, Proctor has spent most of his adult life getting after it on the trails, first on two-wheeled machines. After some not-so-gentle prodding from his wife, he made the switch to Baja-style trucks. He races and also directs the Honda factory-supported team of mostly volunteers as the head of his Proctor Racing Group operation. It has run the Ridgeline since 2015’s Baja 1000.

Proctor’s team effort has been a great way for Honda to promote the second-generation Ridgeline, billed as more trucklike in appearance and capability. I’ve spent several days in our Four Seasons Ridgeline recently, and though it looks the part it certainly doesn’t drive like a truck, meaning it handles well on the freeway with steering feel that doesn’t behave as though it’s been injected with Novocain. It’s more like a well-balanced crossover than anything else. Although there are far more capable dirt-devil production models out there, including Ford’s Raptor, the Ram Rebel, and Chevy’s soon-to-arrive Colorado ZR2, those are purpose-built trucks. We’ll see if Honda ever decides to go that route (doubtful) in an effort to really make the Ridgeline perform off the tarmac. If it does, it would certainly be able to draw from what HPD and Proctor have been up to with the race truck.

I’m about to learn a few things myself. Proctor tells me to stand on the super soft, squishy brake pedal and pop the transmission into first using the long stalk of a gear shift. We pull out, and I’m having a hard time orienting myself toward where we’re headed. I make a total mess of it at first, and Proctor almost makes a mess in his pants when I nearly put it into a fence. Once we get it pointed in the right direction and into the first set of washboards, I crack off a couple of shifts, and the truck starts rebounding as I bang hard over the rough stuff.

I work my way clumsily around the course, trying not over-steer it or over-rev it. Proctor urges me to brake as we charge toward a berm. I’m pushing down hard, but not much is there. Whoops, I forgot to downshift. But in those few moments when I feel comfortable and glide over the dusty, rock-strewn path, it’s unlike anything I’ve experienced in a vehicle.

I feel exhilarated as I clamber out of the Ridgeline racer, happy I didn’t break it but also thrilled over feeling something completely different. Sometimes we’re so focused on what happens at the track or on the road that we tend to lose sight of the broader world. It was amazing to be able to do it in the dirt for a day. Have you ever done it in the dirt? Let us know your stories at letters@automobilemag.com.

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Mercedes-AMG Project One Hypercar’s Powertrain Revealed http://www.automobilemag.com/news/mercedes-amg-project-one-hypercars-drivetrain-revealed/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/mercedes-amg-project-one-hypercars-drivetrain-revealed/#respond Sat, 27 May 2017 17:27:15 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1164524 On Saturday morning at Germany’s famed Nürburgring, Mercedes-AMG officials gave a select group of journalists a first glimpse beneath the skin of its forthcoming Mercedes-AMG Project One hypercar, which will cost more than $2 million and be limited to 250-275 examples. AMG plans to unveil the final production car at this fall’s 2017 Frankfurt auto show ahead...

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On Saturday morning at Germany’s famed Nürburgring, Mercedes-AMG officials gave a select group of journalists a first glimpse beneath the skin of its forthcoming Mercedes-AMG Project One hypercar, which will cost more than $2 million and be limited to 250-275 examples. AMG plans to unveil the final production car at this fall’s 2017 Frankfurt auto show ahead of deliveries commencing in 2018. Most, if not all, of those cars have already been spoken for.

As seen here, the underpinnings of the Project One are gorgeous. The car’s foundation is the 1.6-liter turbocharged V-6 engine taken from the Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 program. Mercedes has claimed the past three F1 driver and constructor championships, dominating the sport ever since the small-displacement hybrid-powertrain formula came into effect in 2014.

The turbocharged internal combustion engine will make somewhere in the neighborhood of 748 horsepower, augmented by four electric motors, F1-style MGU-H and MGU-K units, and a two-battery pack which AMG says produces four times as much energy as the batteries found in the F1 cars. Expect total powertrain output to exceed 1,000 horsepower, and as you’d expect from Mercedes, various driving modes will be available on command, including fully electric, emissions-free capability. The entire drivetrain weighs about 926 pounds; the battery pack weighs “more than” 220 pounds, the company said. The internal combustion engine’s redline is set to a dizzying 11,000 rpm.

Performance should be astounding when the Project One hits the road. We’ve previously reported the car’s total weight as possibly being less than 2,900 pounds. AMG confirmed an eight-speed transmission but won’t reveal what kind of architecture it uses; it would only say it is not a double-clutch gearbox — “too heavy,” we were told on Saturday at the Nürburgring reveal event. All-wheel-drive capability, advanced aerodynamics, beautifully formed, racing-style suspension, and plenty of rubber — 335/30R20 rear and 285/35R19 front Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s — should ensure the Project One provides a driving revelation to the fortunate few who find themselves firing up the F1-derived powertrain.

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A Death Valley Drive for Our Four Seasons 2016 Fiat 500X Trekking http://www.automobilemag.com/news/death-valley-driver-fiat-500x/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/death-valley-driver-fiat-500x/#respond Sat, 27 May 2017 12:00:57 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1164259 As the saying goes, what happens in Vegas stays there. Lucky for you though, all the salacious details of my road trip in our four seasons 2016 Fiat 500X Trekking are about to be fully exposed. Initially, the four-door compact crossover that checks in at a relatively svelte 3,292 pounds felt like driving an empty...

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As the saying goes, what happens in Vegas stays there. Lucky for you though, all the salacious details of my road trip in our four seasons 2016 Fiat 500X Trekking are about to be fully exposed.

Initially, the four-door compact crossover that checks in at a relatively svelte 3,292 pounds felt like driving an empty soda can. Add 25-mile per hour high desert gusts across Highway 15 on the way to Sin City and there were moments that skirted dicey territory. The 500X’s electronically assisted steering felt like it was operating independently of me or the rest of the car at times. It over-responded to quick adjustments, even at moderate speeds. But once I got a handle on its sensitivity, like a Siegfried & Roy white tiger, it was more easily controllable.

When the winds died down and I found some open road free of fellow good-fortune seekers, things got smoother. The 500X’s 2.4-liter SOHC 16-valve I-4 engine isn’t overpowering by any stretch, but its 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque are adequate as long as you aren’t going uphill for long. Then it feels like you’re towing Liberace’s piano.

The 9-speed automatic trans felt a bit laggy in Auto mode. It could probably use a punch-up to keep it competitive in such a crowded segment. As a result, I ended up spending too much time in the more responsive Sport mode than I should have, which didn’t do much for overall fuel efficiency. Then again, trips to Vegas are rarely a time to be sensible, so I felt justified. In a brazen moment, I managed to push the speedometer to 115 mph, but like waking up next to a complete stranger you married at Cupid’s Drive-Thru Chapel the night before, it felt plenty uncomfortable. I didn’t stay there long.

Darting through traffic on the famously packed Las Vegas strip made me appreciate the compact part of this compact SUV. It was easily maneuverable and the front and rear vented disc brakes proved surprisingly stout. Given its 101.2 inch wheelbase I would have expected a tighter turning radius. Unfortunately, as aging showgirls in heavy stage make-up know, sometimes things are not as they appear. Visibility was good, and the backup camera and Fiat’s ParkSense rear parking assist feature made squeezing the 168.2-inch long clown car into spots others would shy away from. Ideal for when city parking is at a premium.

Arancio. No, he’s not headlining the 9 p.m. “Thunder Down Under” review. That’s what Fiat whimsically calls the flashy orange paint color of our particular 500X. For a young “urban adventurer” this sounds just about right. The interior was surprisingly roomy, especially up front, but even with the optional upgraded seats and additional lumbar support adjustment, after six hours I started feeling it. With trim models named after the Rice Crispy cereal guys (Pop, Easy, Lounge, Trekking, Trekking Plus), this is definitely a car targeted toward the hipster, millennial crowd. Base price is $25,235. Our model as driven with the Trekking Collection 4 option package will run you $27,730 clams. That’s 5,546 hands of Black Jack at the five-dollar tables downtown. Chose wisely.

Pairing a phone to the UConnect 5.0 system with integrated Bluetooth was easy. A couple of steps and it was done. Sound quality out the speakers was, well, I could hear it, and the microphone for voice commands didn’t mistakenly call the Crazy Horse when I asked for “Tracy’s house.” There are plenty of compartments for keys, drinks, and cell phones. (Don’t judge, you look at your phone, too.) With only one USB port though, it might take a MMA match to decide who recharges first if there’s more than one early-adopter in the car. Given the target demographic I’d think Fiat would stash more than one. Oddly, there was a continuing issue with acquiring a signal on the XM radio, but only in Los Angeles. Either the satellite isn’t a Howard Stern fan or the antenna might need a boost or some clever repositioning.

Since the 500X little nugget is AWD, I figured I’d do some trekking through Death Valley on my return trip home. With no cell service and no navigation on the car, I opted to play the role of a true adventurer and use a traditional paper map. Unfortunately for me, it had been a long time since I’d read one. Epic fail. I passed sand dunes I wanted to take pictures of and flew by turnoffs I wanted to explore. No mind. Sometimes missing one turnoff sends you down another, more interesting path, like the one that led to Ballarat, California — or what’s left of it. While far from an impressive ghost town, the unpaved, bumpy, dirt road that leads there was easily the best five miles (give or take) of the entire trip. It was here where the 500X really shined. Its strut-type suspension and Nexen Classe premiere CP671 17-inch tires easily soaked up the gravel and small rocks, and the steering felt plenty connected while navigating the trail. I would have gone up and back on that stretch of real estate a bunch more times, but the desert dudes at the dubiously named “General Store” were already giving me the stink-eye and asking if I wanted them to take my picture. Alas, as with any gambling, it’s best to quit while you’re ahead. But man, that piece of road was fun.

Save for a startlingly close buzz by a Navy fighter jet, the rest of the drive home was an uneventful blur. If your drive home from Vegas isn’t, you’ve done it wrong. The 500X passed slower cars and RVs well enough for my needs. While average highway fuel economy is estimated at 30 mpg, between my aforementioned over-zealous use of Sport mode and my lead foot I logged my roughly 1,000-mile trip at closer to an average of 23.5 mpg. Below normal, perhaps, but again, it was Vegas, baby—nothing normal about that. Overall, I found the 500X to be a fun little crossover that was more than up to the task of escorting me on my adventure to and from the bright lights of the big city.

Oh hey, I just realized I never shared what I did while I was actually in Vegas. Sorry, this girl doesn’t kiss and tell. So I guess the old adage is right, what happens there, stays.

Our 2016 Fiat 500X Trekking

PRICE $27,730
ENGINE 2.4L DOHC 16-valve I-4/180 hp @ 6,400 rpm, 175 lb-ft @ 3,900 rpm
TRANSMISSION 9-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV
EPA MILEAGE 21/30 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H: 168.2 x 75.5 x 63.7 in
WHEELBASE 101.2 in
WEIGHT 3,292 lb
0-60 MPH 9.8 sec
TOP SPEED N/A

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Is the BMW M8 is Worth the Wait? http://www.automobilemag.com/news/bmw-m8-worth-wait/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/bmw-m8-worth-wait/#respond Sat, 27 May 2017 12:00:04 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1164258 Say hello to the BMW M8. Although it’s still under wraps — literally, this latest Bavarian beauty was crafted along side the all-new 8 Series Concept that made its stunning debut earlier this week in Milan, Italy. BMW is tight lipped on all the details; but we are told that this fully camouflaged BMW M8...

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Say hello to the BMW M8. Although it’s still under wraps — literally, this latest Bavarian beauty was crafted along side the all-new 8 Series Concept that made its stunning debut earlier this week in Milan, Italy.

BMW is tight lipped on all the details; but we are told that this fully camouflaged BMW M8 prototype “will be unveiled in a driving presentation as part of the support program for the Nürburgring 24-hour race.”

Compared to the recent BMW Concept 8 Series this M version sports larger air intakes, bigger brakes, and an exhaust with four tailpipes instead of two refined and hexagonal ones.

“The conception and development of the standard BMW 8 Series and the M model run in parallel,” explains Frank van Meel, BMW M Division president, in a statement.

“The future BMW M8 will build on the genes of the 8 Series and augment its DNA with added track ability and generous extra portions of dynamic sharpness, precision and agility. It all flows into a driving experience that bears the familiar BMW M hallmarks and satisfies our customers’ most exacting requirements.”

Also in the works is a race-spec car – the BMW M8 GTE – for the return of BMW Motorsport to Le Mans says BMW.

“The BMW M8 GTE development program for our Le Mans comeback is in full swing,” said Jens Marquardt,” BMW Motorsport director, in a release.

“Developing a new racing car is always exciting, and in the case of the BMW M8 GTE the anticipation is that much greater still. We can’t reveal any pictures yet, but I can promise you that the BMW M8 GTE will look spectacular. We are planning an initial roll-out for the first half of this year and are looking at giving the car its race debut in the Daytona 24 Hours in late January 2018.”

In the meantime, check out these photos of the Concept 8 Series and let your imagination run wild.

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The Highway Code and the Madness of Rental Cars in the U.K. http://www.automobilemag.com/news/highway-code-madness-british-rental-car/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/highway-code-madness-british-rental-car/#respond Sat, 27 May 2017 07:01:21 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1163245 I regularly travel to England. Most of the time I arrange a press car, but sometimes a last-minute trip necessitates going the traditional rental route — a hire car, in Brit speak. A recent whirlwind visit to the U.K. warranted a stop at the Hertz desk upon arrival. Something hit me as I danced a...

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I regularly travel to England. Most of the time I arrange a press car, but sometimes a last-minute trip necessitates going the traditional rental route — a hire car, in Brit speak. A recent whirlwind visit to the U.K. warranted a stop at the Hertz desk upon arrival. Something hit me as I danced a Renault Kadjar hire car (hire crossover?) through the endless roundabouts outside Heathrow airport: Driving in England is completely different. The fact that nearly any American holding a valid U.S. driver’s license can walk jetlagged off a transatlantic flight and legally hop into a right-hand-drive automobile in a completely unfamiliar environment is absolutely crazy.

I’m one of very few Americans who enjoys — wait, knows — the Highway Code. First published in 1931, it’s the guidebook to driving in England, Wales, and Scotland. (I know it makes me a complete nerd, but I love studying the quirky rules and regulations of the British roads.) Being up to speed on the Highway Code is a must if you wish to fully understand British speed limits.

For instance, a sign featuring a white circle with a diagonal black line informs drivers that the road carries the national speed limit. What is the national speed limit? That depends on the road. It’s 70 mph on motorways (highways) and dual carriageways (divided roads with a median) and 60 mph on a single carriageway (undivided road). Additionally, the maximum speed allowed in built-up areas (cities) is 30 mph unless otherwise posted.

You must also think before blowing the horn. It’s against the law to beep the horn unless you are stationary in your vehicle, and you’re not allowed to use the horn between the hours of 11:30 p.m. and 7 a.m. except when another road user poses a danger. Furthermore, front and rear fog lights must be used when visibility is severely reduced, and “you must switch them off when visibility improves to avoid dazzling other road users.”

Beyond the Highway Code are Britain’s licensing requirements, which are far more stringent. And if you’re moving to the U.K. permanently, you must obtain a British driving license within 12 months. Step one is a two-part theory test that consists of multiple-choice questions and a hazard perception video test. Once you successfully complete this not-painless-to-pass portion, it’s on to the practical (driving) test. Fewer than 50 percent of Brits pass their test on the first attempt. Also, if you take the test in a vehicle with an automatic transmission, you can’t legally drive a car with a stick.

As it so happens, a friend of mine who recently moved to the U.K. from the U.S. is currently going through the British licensing process. Despite growing up in right-hand-drive Australia, she’s not entirely confident of passing the driving test on her first try. “It’s a lot more difficult [than in America],” she says. “For one, you’re expected to know where you are at all times. You can take the test in any town because your area of the country may have a solid three- or four-month waiting list. The tester can ask you to drive to the town center with no further instruction — unlike in he U.S. where the tester tells you to take a right or left while you’re driving. If it’s raining, like it often is in England, that means you’re looking for signs that indicate the city center through sweeping wipers and possibly — likely — lots of traffic.”

Still, she’s not daunted. “I’m planning on getting a manual license. I don’t want to only drive an automatic. Most everyone drives a manual. In fact, a friend of mine in the U.K. hates driving an automatic. It makes her nervous. She prefers a manual because she feels she has more control of the car. She actually asked me what you do with your left foot when it’s not dipping the clutch. She thinks driving would quickly become boring (with an automatic), as you don’t have enough to do.”

The more stringent test procedure seems to be paying off, as it surely has something to do with the far lower traffic-related death rate in the U.K., which has busier and narrower roads. Looking at 2015 data, there were 12.9 fatalities per 100,000 vehicles in the U.S. versus 5.1 in the U.K.. It also likely helps that Britain has a vehicle inspection process and drivers can be ticketed for safety infringements such as driving on bald tires.

Fortunately, the U.K. is easy to navigate without a car, at least as long as you’re not heading out into the countryside, so skipping the rental may be the less crazy option than trying to adapt to British traffic. If possible, follow the example of my parents and secure the services of a local.

On their first visit to England several years ago, I collected my mother and father at London’s Heathrow airport in a Land Rover LR4. The journey north on the M40 motorway toward Birmingham didn’t seem too crazy to my folks — my dad even said that it didn’t feel too different from America outside of the position of the steering wheel. Once we turned onto the narrow lanes in rural Warwickshire, however, both kept repeating how happy they were not to be driving.

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Carlex Designs Lime-Yellow Interior for Mercedes-Benz G550 4×4 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/carlex-designs-lime-yellow-interior-for-brabus-mercedes-benz-g550-4x4/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/carlex-designs-lime-yellow-interior-for-brabus-mercedes-benz-g550-4x4/#respond Fri, 26 May 2017 23:01:34 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1164507 It’s understandable to think Mercedes G550 4×42 super SUV would enough vehicle for one person right out of the box. It packs a twin-turbo V-8 engine turning out 416 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque and is capable of sub 6-second 0-60 mph acceleration. It’s also an elite offroader, with 17.2 inches of ground clearance. Mercedes...

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It’s understandable to think Mercedes G550 4×4super SUV would enough vehicle for one person right out of the box. It packs a twin-turbo V-8 engine turning out 416 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque and is capable of sub 6-second 0-60 mph acceleration. It’s also an elite offroader, with 17.2 inches of ground clearance. Mercedes upgraded the suspension with two sets of dampers and springs for each corner.

Mercedes will build 500 of these monster G-Wagens. German tuning company Brabus will get half and work its magic on the powertrain, exterior and interior cosmetics. In some cases it will boost power by 77-hp and torque by 74 lb-ft.

Carlex Design, a Polish interior specialist, is getting its hands on one of these Brabus boosted models and giving the interior a full redesign at the request of its owner. Alcantara covers nearly every surface in the cabin and Carlex used a rhombus pattern inspired by the G-Wagen’s boxy exterior. They also used lime yellow accents throughout the interior to match the eye-catching paint.

All told the car costs $250,000. It’s not cheap but between the lime yellow paint, Brabus upgrades and Carlex interior details, the owner will have no problem standing out from the crowd.

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BMW M4 GT4 is the Newest Entry to the Popular Race Class http://www.automobilemag.com/news/bmw-m4-gt4-newest-entry-popular-race-class/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/bmw-m4-gt4-newest-entry-popular-race-class/#respond Fri, 26 May 2017 21:46:45 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1164484 It’s a good time to be a GT4 racer. Following factory-supplied race cars for the popular GT4 racing class from Chevrolet, McLaren, Porsche, and Audi, BMW throws its hat into the ring with a new BMW M4 GT4. For those who can’t afford a full-bore race team, the amateur GT4 series is perfect. Unlike the...

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It’s a good time to be a GT4 racer. Following factory-supplied race cars for the popular GT4 racing class from Chevrolet, McLaren, Porsche, and Audi, BMW throws its hat into the ring with a new BMW M4 GT4.

For those who can’t afford a full-bore race team, the amateur GT4 series is perfect. Unlike the GT3 and LMP FIA classes, GT4 cars closely resemble their roadgoing counterparts, oftentimes running near-stock engines and power outputs. The cars a magnitudes less expensive than their GT3 counterparts, so GT4 has blossomed into a popular series.

To meet FIA mandates, the M4 GT4 is as race-ready as the rest of the field. Inside, the regular leather-wrapped cabin is replaced with a Spartan competition-ready environment. There’s a full suite of track safety equipment, including kill switches and harnesses. The body is modified as well – the doors are fully comprised of carbon fiber, and the front splitter and rear wing are exclusive to the GT4.

The 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six remains, albeit with some modifications. Power is around 431 hp, only around six ponies more than the regular street car. BMW says the engine management software is all new, however, utilizing what it calls “power sticks.” These “plug-and-play” plug-in units are free from tampering and allow customers to effortlessly modify engine output and mapping based on track and conditions.

Prices for the M4 GT4 begin at around $190,000. If you want to see the GT4 in action, the coupe makes its official competition debut at the upcoming 24 Hours of Nurburgring, with Automobile contributor Jethro Bovingdon behind the wheel.

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Hyundai Kona Teased in Cryptic Videos http://www.automobilemag.com/news/hyundai-kona-teased-cryptic-videos/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/hyundai-kona-teased-cryptic-videos/#respond Fri, 26 May 2017 21:21:14 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/hyundai-kona-teased-cryptic-videos/ Hyundai will reveal the Kona sometime this summer, but in the meantime, the automaker has released a host of cryptic videos teasing its new subcompact crossover. Some of the videos are food-themed, others are Hawaii-themed, and yet another one gives us a clear shot of the Kona’s side profile. In the video below, the Kona...

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Hyundai will reveal the Kona sometime this summer, but in the meantime, the automaker has released a host of cryptic videos teasing its new subcompact crossover. Some of the videos are food-themed, others are Hawaii-themed, and yet another one gives us a clear shot of the Kona’s side profile.

In the video below, the Kona shows off its muscular proportions and strong character lines. The roof is painted black in contrast to the rest of the body. We can also see hints of narrow taillights and aggressive wheel arches that make up for the car’s low ground clearance and give it the look of a true SUV.

Although we can’t see it in this videos, others Kona teasers show that the model will feature twin headlamps, which include LED daytime running lights that sit atop LED headlights. It will also feature the same cascading grille that we’ve seen on other new Hyundai models. Engine options on the Kona remain unclear, but Hyundai says it will offer all-wheel drive as an option. Expected to compete against the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V, and Toyota C-HR, the Hyundai Kona will arrive in the U.S. market in early 2018.

Another video shows Hyundai taking the covers off of the Kona and showing a few select parts of the vehicle including the Kona badge. A few other videos imagine the crossover as an orange and an egg, while two other videos tie the Kona to the Hawaiian destination it is named after. Check out some of these creative pieces below.

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