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ALFA G IULIA Q UADRIFO GLIO vs. BMW M3 vs. AM G C63 S AUD I T T RS | AM G G T R | C AMARO ZL1 CO NFE S S IO NS O F F 1 CHAMPIO NS | FERR ARI INVADE S DAY TO NA


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M A R C H/A P R I L 20 17

VOL . 68, NO. 7

T H E F E AT U R E S

30 THE FIRST DRIVE

38

58

68

THE COMPARISON

THE FIRST DRIVE

SEDAN SHOWDOWN Alfa Romeo’s new Giulia Quadrifoglio takes on the benchmark sport sedans from BMW M and Mercedes-AMG.

The new hot-rod TT and the scoop on future highperformance Audis from the man in charge of creating them.

After Nico Rosberg’s abrupt retirement, we look back at the moment of truth for other F1 champions.

BY JASON H. HARPER

BY MAX PRINCE

BY JASON H. HARPER

BY DAVID TREMAYNE

Toyota’s luxury division is back on its game with a stunning and soulful, V-8-powered grand-touring coupe.

AUDI TT RS

MOTORSPORT

LEXUS LC 500

WALKING AWAY

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S TA N D A R D E Q U I P M E N T

8 GO

DRIVES

THE BOOT

FERRARI INVADES DAYTONA .................. 8

2018 MERCEDES-AMG GT R ................. 80

SHOPS WE LOVE 356 SPECIALIST .............. 91

COLUMNS

2017 CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 ............ 84

DRIVER’S ED WHY SLOWER IS BETTER .... 96

LETTERS DRIVEN TO THE LIMITS .............. 20

2017 BMW 5-SERIES .............................. 88

DISSECTED REINVENTING THE WHEEL ..... 98

EDITOR’S LETTER THE UNEXPECTED ....... 22

THE MAN

SMITHOLOGY DEFENDING THE MIATA .......26

BOB LUTZ DETROIT AUTO SHOW ............ 104

91

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ROAD TEST SUMMARY ALFA ROMEO EDITION ............................. 100


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F E R R A R I I N V A D E S D AY T O N A The Finali Mondiali, a year-end bacchanal celebrating all things Ferrari, isn’t offered so much for the tifosi who cheer for the brand as for the prosperous Ferraristi who own, display, restore, track, and race the cars built in Maranello. Held for the first time in the United States, the event brought nearly a thousand Ferraris to Daytona International Speedway in December—everything from 1950s sports racers to a contemporary LaFerrari that sold at a charity auction for $7 million. The infield was awash with a sea of scarlet-red outfits and glorious waves of V-12 noise. BY PRESTON LERNER | PHOTOGRAPHY BY DW BURNETT

A flashy new helmet for a flashy old car—a Ferrari 333 SP that raced at Daytona two decades ago. NIKON D5, 35MM f/1.4 LENS, ISO 100, 1/160 SEC @ f/2.5

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J U S T L I K E Y E S T E R D AY No fewer than nine 333 SPs—the cars that heralded Ferrari’s return to sports-prototype racing in the mid-1990s after a 20-year hiatus—were at Daytona, their V-12s belching flames (above). In 1996 at Daytona, Max Papis drove one to second place from several laps down, earning the nickname “Mad Max.” He reacquainted himself with a 333 (right). Mauro Baldi, Arie Luyendyk, and Didier Theys, who co-drove the race winner at Daytona in 1998, also cameoed. “It felt just like yesterday,” Luyendyk told Baldi after climbing out of a 333. “It was easy to drive,” Baldi agreed. Then he smiled: “Of course, to bring it to the limit is a completely different thing.” NIKON D5, 400MM f/2.8 LENS, ISO 500, 1/1250 SEC @ f/4.0 NIKON D4S, 70–200MM f/2.8 LENS @ 200MM, ISO 200, 1/250 SEC @ f/2.8

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C H A S E D O W N Y O U R PA S S I O N .

N E V E R H A L F WA Y.

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G E NTLE ME N’ S PA R A D E Scores of gentleman drivers competed for world championships during a series of Ferrari Challenge races in 458s, right. This year’s car, the 488 Challenge, was unveiled during the weekend event. Below: Ferrari technicians prepare FXX Ks—1000-plus-hp racetrack versions of the LaFerrari—as part of the Corse Clienti program, which allows well-heeled patrons to buy track-day supercars and have them maintained by the factory. NIKON D5, 400MM f/2.8 LENS, ISO 100, 1/80 SEC @ f/1.4 NIKON D5, 35MM f/1.4 LENS, ISO 1400, 1/160 SEC @ f/2.8

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A - L I S T C A R S , S TA R S Sebastian Vettel (above) spreads ink and cheer in the paddock while 10 modern F1 Clienti cars (facing page) are arrayed in the pits before hitting the track. This 250 SWB (right) was one of 73 cars—ranging from a 330 P4 Drogo Spider to the best in show–winning 166 MM Touring Barchetta—to compete in the inaugural Ferrari Classiche Concours held in the infield. TOP: NIKON D5, 400MM f/2.8 LENS, ISO 250, 1/2500 SEC @ f/1.4; ABOVE: NIKON D5,35MM f/1.4 LENS , ISO 100, 1/2000 SEC @ f/1.4; OPPOSITE: NIKON D4S, 70–200MM f/2.8 LENS @ 200MM, ISO 100, 1/4000 SEC @ f/2.8

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D AY T O N A G R A N D P R I X In what was billed as the first appearance of modern F1 cars on the 31-degree banking designed for stock cars in 1959, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen hot-lapped around Daytona in 2009-spec F60s before conducting pit stops and performing donuts that left pit lane shrouded in tire smoke. NIKON D4S, 16–35MM f/4.0 LENS @ 22MM, ISO 100, 1/60 SEC @ f/22.0

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Letters OPEN GARAGES, OPEN HEARTS.

Dear R&T,

If one were to have the good fortune to choose between the Porsche 918 Spyder and LaFerrari [“Unfamiliar Territory,” November], it would be a bit like choosing between a beautiful hausfrau and an exotic mistress. Both are alluring in their own way . . . and both are capable of killing you. Pick wisely. JONATHAN MILLER, BOONE, NORTH CAROLINA

I very much enjoyed your article about the LaFerrari and 918, including your discussion of the Ross family. At a Ferrari Club of America meet in 1995, Stan Ross was a red blur driving around Mid-Ohio, thrilling the crowd. And in 2016, his son Malcolm did the same in his 918 at speed on track with a pair of LaFerraris. Great sights and sounds. Not all machinery is parked in a garage for years. Some of these gems do get exercised. Kudos to the Ross family. DAN HARRISON LOCKPORT, ILLINOIS

realize how much I want to build equally strong memories with my two young sons. Finding a balanced life has thus far eluded me, but it’s nice to be reminded of where my priorities lie. MATT KARWOWSKI ATLANTA, GEORGIA

THE GOLDEN AGE Kim Wolfkill’s column on Pebble Beach and 93-year-old Charles Gillet filled me with hope. I just had the interior redone on my 1960 Jaguar Mark IX, which I have owned for 20 years. It became my favorite car after seeing Kim Novak drive one just like it in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo in 1958. Maybe by the time I am 93, it will qualify for Pebble Beach! R. J. BROSELOW SOUTHLAND, TEXAS

KINDRED SPIRITS Maybe it’s because we’re at similar points in life—midthirties, young families—or because we share common life experiences—a Derby City upbringing, multiple career-oriented moves—but Sam Smith’s columns always resonate strongly. He writes about cars, but his stories are about life. Sam’s bittersweet November column [“Indoor Storage”] ushered in vibrant, happy memories from childhood and made me 20

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GENERAL HOONERY I enjoyed your November feature on the Ford Focus RS [“Hard Labor”], having been lucky to acquire one in June. Your findings match my experience. My commute includes many second-gear junctions with bumps at entry, apex, and exit. Under those conditions, the RS is one happy killer robot. JAY JOSE PFLUGERVILLE, TEXAS

I read Jack Baruth’s gleeful account of how he beat on the poor little Focus every way he could think of. “What follows is an hour of the worst abuse a car can suffer: repeated 90-degree lefthanders at 85 mph or more, hitting the

M A R C H /A P R I L 2 0 1 7

curb with two wheels, e-brake pulled.” Really? The gravel picture almost brought me to tears. Then he has the gall to state how much he likes the car. Huh? SCOTT SANKEY SIMI VALLEY, CALIFORNIA

Ford markets the Focus RS as a car with extreme performance for extreme enthusiasts. We asked Baruth to test the RS by driving it as many owners will. One does not take a Focus RS to Nelson Ledges and not report the lap time. Blasphemy! SHAWN M. BAUMAN SHELOCTA, PENNSYLVANIA

Unofficially: 1:22.1. With three passengers. DAS IST DER HAMMER I love the Go pieces! Question, though: Is it just me, or is there a sledgehammer mounted to the firewall of the cool 328 with the 80-hp straight-six? What in the world would a five-pound sledge be used for in any car, let alone this one? WILL HOUSE SWARTHMORE, PENNSYLVANIA

Hammers were commonly fitted on prewar and immediate postwar sports cars, mostly for tightening or loosening knockoff wheels. Email us at letters@roadandtrack.com. Include your full name, city, state, and daytime telephone number for verification. We unfortunately cannot answer every inquiry, and we reserve the right to edit letters. Editorial contributions are considered only if guaranteed exclusive. Materials are subject to Road & Track standard terms, and the vendor must retain a copy. Photographs should be released for publication by the source. Road & Track is not responsible for unsolicited materials.


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EDITOR’S LET TER BY KIM WOLFKILL

D We’re proud to introduce the allnew Gen 3 Factory Five Type 65 Coupe. This third generation car joins the Factory Five line-up of “build-it-yourself” sports cars. Build your Factory Five today. For a free brochure and DVD, call us at 508-291-3443 or visit factoryfive.com.

Those of us who think we know everything about new cars can still be caught regularly and happily off guard.

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RIVE ENOUGH NEW CARS on a regular basis and it’s easy to believe you can tell what a car will be like even before you get behind the wheel. If it’s a European sports coupe, expect an emphasis on style and driving experience. An Asian crossover will skew toward conventional everyday livability, while an American family sedan will fall somewhere in between. Gross generalizations, certainly, but also never terribly far from the truth. Automakers tend to stick with what they know, so the attentive enthusiast can usually anticipate what’s coming. Thankfully, there are exceptions. Vehicles that stray from the predictable, offering something different and unforeseen. One such treat is this month’s cover car, the Lexus LC 500. Unveiled at the 2012 Detroit auto show as the LF-LC concept, the show car was a bold departure for a habitually conservative automaker. Frequently (and fairly) criticized for unimaginative design, Lexus, with the LC 500, ushers in an edgier aesthetic. The production LC loses little of the show car’s flair, and as Jason Harper discovered during his drive (page 30), it backs up its head-turning looks with real performance. Similarly refreshing was our experience with the new Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. On paper this Italian contender certainly looks the part—sexy, stylish, distinctive, and with the 505-hp heart of a Ferrari (sort of). What’s not to like? Max Prince’s comparison test (page 38) goes beyond the specs and the stereotypes, pitting the Giulia against the category benchmarks, the BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63 S, to see if this is finally the car that will give Alfa Romeo a real toehold in America. Turns out, the Alfa isn’t one to back down from a fight, which made for a test that was both predictable and unexpected. And speaking of surprises, who could have foreseen the shock retirement of reigning Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg? Confounding fans and foes alike, he turned his back on a sport that had all but consumed his very being, to embark on a new life outside the F1 cockpit. As we learn from veteran motorsport journalist David Tremayne, in his extensive feature on retired F1 champions (page 68), the reasons for walking away can be as diverse as the personalities involved—family, health, age, safety, or politics. Or sometimes it’s just time. In a world that’s becoming increasingly volatile, it’s comforting to know that the unexpected, at least in our small automotive bubble, is still a good thing. It means that new ideas are being explored and risks are being taken. That there’s still room for innovation. And that those of us who think we know everything about new cars can still be caught regularly and happily off guard. ■


Editorial Staff WOLFKILL

Editor-in-Chief KIM Deputy Editor JOE DEMATIO Managing Editor MIKE FAZIOLI Editors at Large PETER EGAN, SAM SMITH Associate Editor KYLE KINARD Research Editor BETH NICHOLS

Art Director MATT TIERNEY Features Editor DAVID ZENLEA Copy Chief REBECCA JONES Designer ADAM M c GINN Photographer MARC URBANO Road Warrior DANI SAFI

Editorial Director EDDIE

ALTERMAN

Contributing Editors JACK BARUTH, CHRIS CHILTON, COLIN COMER, JASON H. HARPER, PRESTON LERNER, RICHARD PINTO, MAX PRINCE, MARSHALL PRUETT Contributing Artists & Photographers TIM BARKER, DW BURNETT, ROBERT KERIAN, EVAN KLEIN, RICHARD PARDON, JAMEY PRICE, TOM SALT, JOSH SCOTT, DEAN SMITH, ANDREW TRAHAN, BILL WARNER, JEFFREY R. ZWART Editorial Advisory Board CHIP GANASSI (RACING MOGUL), BOB LUTZ (VIPER CREATOR, EXEC), CAMILO PARDO (ARTIST, DESIGNER), SAM POSEY (PAINTER, RACER), BOBBY RAHAL (INDY 500 WINNER, TEAM OWNER)

RoadandTrack.com Staff Site Director TRAVIS OKULSKI Deputy Editor BOB SOROKANICH Social Media Editor CHRIS PERKINS Web Writer COLLIN WOODARD Web Producer TYWIN PHAM

Publisher & Chief Revenue Officer FELIX DIFILIPPO National Advertising Director CAMERON ALBERGO General Manager, Hearst Men’s Group SAMANTHA IRWIN Executive Director, Digital Advertising DEIRDRE DALY-MARKOWSKI NEW YORK East Coast Automotive Director JOE PENNACCHIO East Coast Digital Sales Managers BRETT FICKLER, MIA S. KLEIN CHICAGO Integrated Sales Director RICK BISBEE Integrated Midwest Manager MARC GORDON Sales Assistant YVONNE VILLAREAL DETROIT Integrated Sales Director MARK FIKANY Midwest Account Manager BRYCE VREDEVOOGD Assistant TONI STARRS LOS ANGELES Integrated Sales Director ANNE RETHMEYER Integration Associate MICHELLE NELSON Assistant RICHARD PANCIOCCO SAN FRANCISCO Mediacentric, Inc. STEVE THOMPSON, WILLIAM G. SMITH DALLAS PR 40 Media PATTY RUDOLPH HEARST DIRECT MEDIA Sales Manager BRAD GETTELFINGER

The Blend Line Executive Creative Director MAURY POSTAL

Marketing Solutions Associate Publisher & Group Marketing Director JILL MEENAGHAN Executive Director, Integrated Marketing DAWN SHEGGEBY Executive Creative Director, Group Marketing JANA NESBITT GALE Associate Marketing Director AMANDA LUGINBILL Marketing Manager MICHAEL COOPERSMITH Art Director, Group Marketing MICHAEL SARPY Art Director, Group Marketing ELENA MARTORANO Integrated Marketing Coordinator VINCENT CARBONE Digital Marketing Manager A’NGELIQUE TYREE Research Manager PETER DAVIS

Administration Advertising Services Director REGINA WALL Advertising Services & Accolades Manager REBECCA TAROON Executive Assistant to the Group Publishing Director & Business Coordinator MARY JANE BOSCIA

Production/Operations Director CHUCK LODATO Operations Account Manager HARRY YEE Premedia Manager ZACHARY SMITH

Circulation Consumer Marketing Director WILLIAM CARTER

Senior Vice President & Publishing Director, Hearst Men’s Group JACK

ESSIG

Published by Hearst Communications, Inc. A Unit of the Hearst Corporation, 300 W. 57th Street, New York, NY 10019 President & Chief Executive Officer STEVEN R. SWARTZ Chairman WILLIAM R. HEARST III Executive Vice Chairman FRANK A. BENNACK, JR. Secretary CATHERINE A. BOSTRON Treasurer CARLTON CHARLES

Hearst Magazines Division President DAVID CAREY President, Marketing & Publishing Director MICHAEL CLINTON President, Digital Media TROY YOUNG Chief Content Officer JOANNA COLES Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer DEBI CHIRICHELLA Publishing Consultants GILBERT C. MAURER, MARK F. MILLER

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For fast & convenient subscription service, visit service.roadandtrack.com or call toll-free 800-876-8316 to order a print subscription, pay your bill, renew your subscription, give a gift subscription, update your mailing and email addresses, and more! Or write to Customer Service Department, Road & Track, P.O. Box 37870, Boone, IA 50037.

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Miata, People

AND A DUMB STEREOTYPE FOR EVERY FUN CAR UNDER HEAVEN.

I

T WAS ONE OF THOSE CRACKLY WINTER DAYS, the sky blue enough to eat. Maybe three o’clock in the afternoon. I was downtown, fishing keys from my pocket, when the cop walked up. “I ask how long you’ve had it?” He meant the car. It wasn’t mine—when you work for a car magazine, you spend a lot of time with borrowed license plates. In this case, that meant driving a Fiat 124 test car across town on an errand, to buy coffee beans. R&T is based in Michigan but I work from home, in Seattle; this sounds cool and modern but is really just HR code for brewing lots of coffee while the dog farts under your desk. Every so often, a kibble backfire shows up right when you run out of beans, and boom, good excuse to leave the house. Fiat 124: Roadster. Tiny. Like a new Mazda Miata, but not. Built on the same Japanese production line, because Fiat needed a sports car and Mazda likes money. The 124 sports the Miata’s basic structure but a more laid-back engine (Italian, turbocharged) and a face like a stoned carp. Comme ci, comme ça. I like the Miata better, but then, when I was a kid, my mom spent a few misguided years making KoolAid with Sweet’N Low instead of sugar. I guess she wanted to be kinder to my teeth, but the stuff tasted like a chemical toilet smells. Some things are really only meant for full strength. Either way, the cop was friendly. City police, in his forties. He was standing on a steep hill, a few feet away from the parked Fiat, directing traffic. I don’t remember his name, even though he gave it to me, because I am stupid. But we talked a bit, mostly about cars. Turns out we each had to sacrifice luxuries to afford kids—I sold a ’65 Mustang; he gave up a Porsche 914. Which somehow took the conversation back to the Fiat, and Miatas in general. He mentioned going to spectate at a local track day. “They got a lot of Miatas out there, done up as race cars, you know.” He sounded surprised. I allowed as how the Mazda was probably the greatest automotive blank slate in decades: fun, cheap, durable, easy to modify. More than a million built since 1989. “Yeah,” he replied. “I drove one once. It was great. But . . . the girl’s-car thing, right? Can’t do it.” He thought for a moment. Shook his head. “I mean, if you’re by yourself, maybe, wind in your hair . . .” It always comes back to the hairdressers. Hang around Miatas long enough, you hear all the stereotypes: The cars make you sterile. They’re a rolling hair salon, a kicky sundress draped over Stephen Sondheim and fondant

glitter cake. Drive one, you’re a secretary for a secretary. Tiresome crap, and people have been saying it for 28 years. Little car, goofy face. So a Miata isn’t a Dodge Viper with chest hair glued to the hood. Who cares? Might be time to stop the lame 1950s-dad jokes. “I know, I know,” the cop said. “But looks matter, right?” He raised his eyebrows, gave a guilty little half-shrug. Admittedly, Miatas had been on my mind. A few weeks before, I went to Laguna Seca and drove 19 of the things, new and old, for a story on R&T’s website. These were privately owned cars, everything from ancient track rats and homebrew turbos to a 2016 model with a 525-hp V-8 swap. The point was a survey of the Miata culture—lapping and owner interviews,

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documenting it all with a temporary photo studio in the track’s garages. For two days, I was surrounded by people who just plain understood Miatas. They judged the book, not its cover. (“Hard to take yourself seriously when you’re on a racetrack in a car that looks like this,” an owner told me, chuckling. “So you just don’t.”) The cop and I talked a bit more, mostly about the 124. At the end, he told me to hold on, then jogged over to his duty bag, sitting on the curb. He came back holding a new, neatly folded blue sweatshirt. There was a Seattle police logo on the breast. “Kinda rare to meet someone friendly on the street,” he said. ILLUSTR ATION BY DREW BARDANA

J O E W I N D S O R-W I L L I A M S

You hear the stereotypes: The cars make you sterile, they’re a rolling hair salon. A kicky sundress draped over Stephen Sondheim and fondant glitter cake.


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“We’ve been giving these away as part of a charity drive. Had one left.” I reached for my wallet, flabbergasted. “Nah,” he said, waving me off. “Enjoy it.” We shook hands, and he allowed as how he’d maybe start watching Miatas on Craigslist. I opened the Fiat’s door, buoyed by a renewed faith in humanity and badass sweatshirts. What happened next was so perfectly timed, you’re going to think I made it up. I swear it was real. A teenage guy walked by. Lanky, tall, headed down the street. Hair like he just woke from a nap. “Hey,” he said, toward the Fiat. I looked over. The kid’s face lit up. I knew what was coming. “Hey, man, real cool of your girlfriend to let you . . .” I rolled my eyes. I could hear the next few words: Drive her . . . “. . . drive her car for the day!” He laughed, thrilled, and kept walking. I shook my head. Then I drove home in stop-and-go traffic, thinking about the last time I bumpdrafted a Spec Miata in a race at 90 mph. I may have muttered some responsible adult gibberish about turning the other cheek. (The answer just hit me. Why does this always happen days later? Should’ve said, “YEAH KID, YOUR MOM’S REAL NICE LIKE THAT.”) Long story short: Don’t hate on Miatas. Be nice to cops. And if, in your travels, you happen to see a high-school dude trash-talking goofy little cars in downtown Seattle, take a deep, calming breath, think of me, and do the mature thing: Trip him. ■ Sam Smith is an editor at large for R&T. He hasn’t had Kool-Aid since.

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THE FIRST DRIVE | 2018 LE XUS LC 500

LEXUS RISING TOYOTA’S LUXURY DIVISION GREW SLEEPY. THIS SEXY BEAST WAKES IT UP. BY JASON H. HARPER


THE FIRST DRIVE

AR CONNOISSEURS, it is time to The details are a marvel. The mesh on the grille is tight near put away your knives. To cease the the hood and then loosens as it waterfalls down the nose. The mean jabs. “It’s pretty good . . . for a lines along the sides dance in sunlight. The rear is a cheeky Lexus.” Akio Toyoda, president of reinterpretation of the nose. The cabin has beautifully designed Toyota and Lexus brand ambassagrab handles on either side of the passenger, and the seats, with dor, listened, politely, as you told him that his cars were a bore. origami-inspired bolsters, beg you to climb into them. After a research trip to the United States in 2011, he returned And we do, setting off on a day that begins in Seville, the culto Japan and issued an executive edict: Banish the boredom. tural capital of Andalusia, and takes us to a racetrack and miles The result, more than five years on, sits in of weblike roads. The car comes in two varietfront of us today, in the Spanish sun, and we ies: one a V-6 hybrid and the other a naturally can say unequivocally: You ain’t gonna yawn. aspirated V-8—the same engine found in the RC 2018 Lexus LC 500 The LC 500 is the production version of the F coupe and the GS F sedan. The hybrid, with price $92,975 LF-LC concept car shown in Detroit in 2012. It a combined 354 hp, is balanced and likable but engine dohc 32-valve 5.0-liter v-8 is a big-boned, rear-drive coupe, slightly shorter can’t keep me from spending most of the day peak output than a Mercedes E-class coupe but wider and with the V-8. (Lexus estimates 85 to 90 percent 471 hp @ 7100 rpm 398 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm lower. The Lexus uses its size to make a definite of customers will make the same choice.) transmission impression, athletic and purposeful. It fills a The 5.0-liter V-8 produces 471 hp and 398 10-speed automatic, rwd parking spot commandingly. lb-ft of torque and delivers all the happy sounds l x w x h 187.4 x 75.6 x 53.0 in weight 4300 lb The company was able to pull off this trick one expects from a naturally aspirated V-8. An 0–60 mph 4.4 sec because the LC 500 isn’t based on any other attentive driver can tip in and out of the throttle top speed 168 mph on sale may Lexus or Toyota vehicle. It’s a clean-sheet design in a nuanced manner that a turbo engine just on an all-new platform that will also underpin won’t accommodate. The LC’s downside is a the next LS sedan. The LC is the first Lexus to wear the spindle claimed 4280-pound curb weight, so the 5.0-liter has its work grille as a resplendent crown rather than a design oddity. With cut out for it. Regardless, Lexus estimates the LC hits 60 mph its extra-long hood, two-plus-two seating, and an interior that in a respectably quick 4.4 seconds. uses expensive materials playfully, the LC 500 comes off as The car’s engineers spoke to us at length of their desire to upscale and potent, a shiny toy in the best of ways. create a car that pivots around the driver’s hips. To that end, the vast majority of the engine’s mass is behind the front axle, the center of gravity is low, and the driving position was painstakingly thought-out. Smart engineering, but none of it can hide that the LC is very much a grand-touring car, even when outfitted with options like a carbon-fiber roof, limited-slip differential, and rear-wheel steering. Those many pounds inevitably translate to a wandering nose when you head into a corner too hastily. The coupe doesn’t exit slow corners explosively, so maintaining momentum is a matter of compromise and patience, but the rear steering helps get the car turned into a corner and is the option most worth having.

No question, the LC has the best Lexus cabin since the LF-A. Also the most exciting exterior, especially in this Flare yellow paint (which won’t come stateside for a year or two). 32

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THE FIRST DRIVE

While the LC is not a track car, laps around the Circuito Monteblanco racetrack showed off strengths. In a straight line, revs pitched high, the LC gathers velocity with bravura. It should play well on the autobahn, as it is incredibly stable at speed. The steel-rotor brakes hold up under repeated laps, and the car tracks true even under full-threshold braking, a relief when I come in too hot at the end of a long straightaway. The electrically assisted steering murmurs about asphalt quality and is firm without feeling artificial. It’s as if Lexus engineers

More for the autobahn infotainment system are nearly unusthan autocross, the able. Some of the concept-car ideas lc 500 is capable on track, and its naturally have been translated to production in aspirated v-8 sounds odd ways—passenger-side vents are ferocious at full tilt. located in a strange extrusion that cantilevers under the glove box, and the center-console storage is difficult to access. The V-8 LC will start at $92,975. Considering the car’s exotic looks and the design and quality of its cabin, that’s a value. Lexus execs regard the BMW 650i, the Mercedes-Benz S-class coupe, and the Jaguar F-type as competitors. The Lexus is far more agile than the similarly priced 650i and generally feels more athletic than the much more expensive Mercedes. The F-type, although smaller, is more apt. Both are meant to impress friends and future girlfriends. Of course, the LC does have rear seats, even if they are mostly ornamental. Away from the back roads and onto the highway’s fast lane, the LC 500 flashes past dozens of cars, gathering as many looks. Then I realize the Lexus is reminiscent of another highly competent GT, the Bentley Continental. The LC serves the same purpose, but at a remarkable savings. And it will initially be nearly as exclusive, as Lexus plans to sell only 400 a month. The LC 500 might be the most interesting car that Lexus has ever made. Toyota’s luxury division just needed some extra encouragement from Mr. Toyoda himself. ■

It’s as if Lexus engineers benchmarked German cars of old. Even the actual wheel feels good in the hand, the kind of detail that matters. benchmarked German cars of old. Even the actual wheel feels good in the hand, the kind of detail that matters. The 10-speed, torque-converter automatic transmission is less ideal. With this many closely spaced gears, the transmission hunts. On a back road, where you might normally just hold one gear—a single note rising and falling with tremolo and urgency—the car shifts between multiple gears busily. It is distracting, fussy. It’s even odder when the driver puts the system in manual mode. Trying to find the gearing’s sweet spot is nigh on impossible. And while cabin materials, like the gorgeous leather lining the doors, are first-rate, the mouse controls for the 34

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Dodge is a registered trademark of FCA US LLC.


I f Yo u K n o w Yo u K n o w . c o m


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THE COMPARISON 2 0 1 7 A L FA R O M E O G I U L I A Q U A D R I F O G L I O | 2 0 1 7 B M W M 3 | 2 0 1 7 M E R C E D E S - A M G C 6 3 S

RISING TIDE ALFA ROMEO JOINS BMW AND MERCEDES WITH A REAR-WHEEL-DRIVE SEDAN THAT MOONLIGHTS AS A TR ACK TOY. BY MA X PRIN CE | PH OTO G R APH Y BY E VAN K LE IN


THE COMPARISON

TAND AN OMEGA SPEEDMASTER MOONWATCH PROFESSIONAL

on its face, and you’ll find an inscription on the case back: “Flight-qualified by NASA for all manned space missions. The first watch worn on the moon.” For a certain kind of person, that inscription is irresistible. It’s a piece of something bigger, the ordinary made exceptional. The appliance that can go into orbit. That person wants a European sedan. Eighty large in pocket, the well-to-do modern enthusiast is jonesing for an overpowered commuter with paddle shifters and pedigree. He or she is spoiled for choice. BMW, Mercedes, and Alfa Romeo all made hay on the back of touring-car racing. Each earned a cult following decades ago by way of competition-minded engineering and sharp homologation road cars. Machines like the E30 M3, Mercedes 190E, and Alfa 155 defined the breed. BMW and Mercedes offer successors to those icons in the four-door M3 and C63. Now, after more than two decades absent from the U.S. sedan market, Alfa Romeo has returned with the all-new Giulia Quadrifoglio, reuniting a holy trinity of sorts. We wanted to know if the Alfa is a legit contender, and how the descendants of those track-qualified touring-car icons stack up on the racetrack. So we went to the Thermal Club, a private road course complex outside Palm Springs. We gathered the new BMW M3, the Mercedes-AMG C63 S, and the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. And we sent them into orbit. 40

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THE TR ACK

O

UR PARTY REPORTS AT 8:00 A.M. to walk the circuit. Contributing editor Preston Lerner, softspoken club-racing veteran, is here. So is the boss, editor-in-chief Kim Wolfkill. We’ll start the day at the North Palm course, a 1.2-mile Armco fortress opening with a fast carousel and ending with a tricky hairpin. The surroundings reek of resort, all ozonescraping palm trees and half-built luxury condos. The track is new but already scuffed, like secondhand high-tops. Most of the tire marks disappear into runoff; many end abruptly at the barriers. This is where we’ll take turns caning the Alfa, an initiation. “Welcome back. Glad you’re here. Go climb that curbing.” We’d usually be gunning for the BMW. Now in its fifth generation, the M3 represents the traditional track-focused choice in this segment. Our 3662-pound tester has a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic and the new Competition package, which adds 19 hp.

The least powerful engine here, the BMW’s twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six pumps out 444 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. The Mercedes-AMG C63 S is more hot rod, a leather-stuffed living room with a V-8. Curb weight is 3958 pounds, and AMG’s twin-turbo 4.0-liter is rated at 503 hp and 516 lb-ft. That runs through a seven-speed automatic, which has a fluidbathed clutch pack in lieu of a torque converter. But Alfa has our attention. The storied brand, once purveyor of high-energy, tail-happy featherweights, hasn’t done a rear-

A storied brand and once purveyor of high-energy, tail-happy featherweights, Alfa hasn’t done a rear-drive sedan since Dire Straits was touring.

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drive sedan since Dire Straits was touring. We know this new car weighs 3822 pounds and reaches a claimed 191 mph. We know it packs 505 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque from a twin-turbo


THE COMPARISON

The Thermal Club 2.9-liter V-6 mated to a conventional eight-speed auM3 might as well be parked on the front straight. track revealed a tomatic. But we don’t know much else. Only the Mercedes can keep up. That’s a relief, sharp Alfa chassis, The first lap is a shocker. The steering isn’t huge on big AMG power, and because emissions and fuel-economy considerations overall BMW poise. feedback but feels airy through the Giulia’s thin wheel, have killed off AMG’s short-stroke pièce de résisdelicate like a Ferrari’s. Skim milk to the usual German cream. tance, the M156-code 6.2-liter V-8 that powered the firm’s “63” It’s straight-razor-sharp, too, a sensation amplified by the quick cars until recent years. That naturally aspirated dinosaur in11.8:1 ratio. Wolfkill makes the day’s first proclamation. “Withvited stock-car reverie and defined the C63’s glorious big-bore out knowing the track, I feel more comfortable going quickly in character. The new 4.0-liter delivers most of the same feel and this car than an M3. On first impression, the Alfa seems flatter. all the same ruckus. It’s an unstoppable device that recalls rollIt’s got more grip, better turn-in.” ing thunder and white lightning, well worth the price of entry. The brakes are great, too. The Giulia we’re driving has carThere’s apish grunt, zero perceptible lag, and a tach needle bon-ceramic rotors, 15.4 inches front and 14.2 inches rear, a that whips around the dial far more freely than you’d think. $5500 option. The standard kit is plenty. We tested the ironThe torque curve is madness from just off idle to 4500 rpm. rotor setup later, and it pulled the shortest stops of the group. The C63 has always been an engine-first car. Forced induction The Quadrifoglio is stable scrubbing speed and generally hasn’t spoiled it. This might be the most exciting boosted eight light on its feet. Plus, it’s got the stoutest engine: A small, on sale today. twin-turbo V-6 doesn’t read as exciting, but this one is effecIt also might be an anchor. The Merc feels thick-necked, the tively a Ferrari California T’s V-8 minus two jugs—same bore only car here that needs to be bullied. Imagine all the sensaand stroke, same 90-degree angle. Boost is set at a manic 35 tions of an Aussie V8 Supercar with the operational finesse psi. So, the Quadrifoglio moves like an arms-grade pressure of a steamroller. I’m struggling through the track’s carousel, cooker: lame down low, then incendiary between 3500 and pushing wide where the Alfa came through nonplussed and 6500 rpm. It’s a belligerent spool-and-shove routine with ingoing faster. Lerner returns from his stint complaining of duction whirl and exhaust whap to match. Next to that, the understeer, too. The beast, the heaviest in our bunch, is leaning ROADANDTR ACK .COM

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THE COMPARISON

On the short track, the M3 comes off skittish and distant. So while Lerner and Wolfkill go for lunch, I sneak away and get a head start on our afternoon session at Thermal’s faster, flowing, 1.8-mile South Palm circuit. Three years into production, it’s safe to say the F80-chassis M3 hasn’t exactly rung purists’ bells. As someone raised on a steady diet of junky old BMWs, I can see why. Compared with those cars, gold standards for steering feel, the new electricassist M3 is inert. It’s too big, too tractioncompromised. But there’s still greatness here. You just have to hustle to find it. Electronics switched off, the M3 starts to give back. Grip improves with speed and load, as does balance and overall response. It demands smooth inputs and rewards them, lets you blend in corrections, carrying momentum. The M3’s gearbox, sightlines, and seating position are all tops in this group. That cuts through the clutter, so you start playing with how you approach the car’s controls. It makes you want to improvise, assemble lap after lap, hemming and prodding and exploring. Also maybe throw a set of R-compound tires in the trunk and drive across the country trolling 911s at track days. The M3 has always been good for that. It’s starting to attract Wolfkill. He fell fast for the Alfa, but now he’s cooling on it even faster. Both Germans wear Michelin Pilot Super Sports; the Italian rolls sticky Pirelli P Zero Corsa track tires, and they’re beat after our morning session. Lerner, cautiously optimistic, takes some laps and returns lukewarm. “As the tires wear, turn-in is unusually

While both Germans gain favor on the bigger track, the Italian’s novelty factor wears thin. Finding a rhythm in the Alfa takes serious work.

on those 245-section front tires, which got hot and needed a break between sessions. Predictably, the M3 fares better. It’s quick through the carousel and carries as much speed as the Alfa exiting the hairpin. The BMW is packing serious hardware, as ever: carbon roof and driveshaft, rigid-mounted rear subframe, trick limited-slip diff. The Competition package brings different springs, larger antiroll bars, and retuned dampers. Enough to win over Lerner, who’s high on the steering and balance. Wolfkill gives props for chassis stiffness and front-axle grip, noting the M3 has the most tire, 265/30 fronts and 285/30 rears. He seems enamored of the Alfa, though, saying it’s nimbler and less of a handful. Instead of fighting understeer, like the Mercedes, the BMW has problems at the other end. In lower-speed corners, the rear feels light, searching for grip under hard acceleration. Add an overeager electronics suite, and intervention is nearly constant. 44

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abrupt. The car always seems to be driving off the outside rear wheel, too. It just feels disjointed.” He’s also bumming on the Alfa’s flappy paddles. “Column-mounted levers,” he sighs. Ninety-eight percent of the time, it’s no problem. That last two percent inevitably rears its head midcorner, when your hands are in the exact wrong position to grab a shift. Then the Alfa stubs its toe on the rev limiter, giving the transmission pause. This is a slushbox impersonating a dual-clutch. It breaks character when pressed. The Mercedes pulls a Keyser Söze. Upshifts sound like cannon fire and land instantly. Downshifts come almost as fast, with a colossal, satisfying whoomf! from under the hood. On


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THE COMPARISON

a flier down the one-third-mile back straight, crossing a buckTHE ROAD thirty, the C63 reels in the Quadrifoglio and absolutely freighttrains the M3. Serious speed, demanding serious brakes. Like the Alfa, both E’S RIGHT. our BMW and Mercedes test cars wear carbon-ceramic brakes. We went to the racetrack in the interest of On the former, it’s an extravagant $8150 option; the latter, a more due diligence, but we’re not living in an era reasonable $5450. But there’s a catch: The M3 brings carbon roof touring-car racing. If a market for track-toy tors all around, while the C63 S only gets them up front. The sedans ever existed, it doesn’t any more. CerMerc’s setup can exhibit signs of fade if you use it to haul down tainly not at $80,000. In that heady territory, a four-door from triple digits repeatedly. It takes a few minutes of cooldown can’t be so compromised. in the paddock for them to return. Wolfkill climbs out smiling. So the next morning, we grab an atlas. We’ll make for Palm “Works much better on the bigger track,” he says, seeming Desert and blitz Route 74, climbing into the San Jacinto Mounrelieved. tains, where the road gets lonely. Refuel, then head north, Stability control off, lumbering through South Palm’s squighustling after Idyllwild on Route 243 toward Banning. gly back complex, the AMG is an evergreen source for lowThe Alfa sounds righteous with a head of steam leading the hanging oversteer. It makes for wild eyes and impure thoughts, pack to the Coachella Valley Vista Point. Once we’re dicing, all while seated upright, clavicle-deep in soft leather. The disthough, it’s clear BMW’s six is the one to have. It’s far smoother, sonance is a hoot. with a higher redline and a torque curve to match the Merc. While both Germans gain favor on the bigger track, the It’s also attached to a legit dual-clutch, cracking off impeccable Italian’s novelty factor wears thin. It’s suspect of drama-byshifts through the crisp California morning. On fresh, winding design, same as Alfa’s mid-engine 4C. That car is a bit smoke asphalt, the M3 shines. and mirrors, akin to what someone who’s never driven a race Less so on rough blacktop. Those adjustable dampers are car would think a race car feels like. The Quadrifoglio is dried stucco, regardless of setting. The Competition package’s similarly edgy, to the point of feeling disconnected. Finding a 20-inch forged wheels look toothsome, but they aren’t doing rhythm takes serious work. the ride any favors on a 30-series tire. Friskier buyers might “The steering wheel is a master class in wannabe design,” not mind, and, as Wolfkill points out, they’re the most likely gripes Lerner. “Flat bottom, red push-start button, Alcantara, to reap benefits at the occasional weekend lapping session. But and carbon-fiber inserts? All right, already. We get it.” the BMW offers the least forgiving suspension here, and by a Wolfkill’s not so sure that represents a problem. large margin. “It feels like a tuner car, but the tuner is Ferrari. There are By contrast, there’s some kind of sorcery in the Alfa’s setup. worse things. The chassis balance and mechanical grip might It’s got a unique bumpy-road setting, a specialized damper suite be the best out here. Definitely better than the Mercedes, poswith technology cribbed from Ferrari. The result is sibly superior to the BMW.” In the San Jacinto absurd compliance, even in the rowdiest drive mode. To which Lerner raises an excellent point: “What Mountains above Palm Springs, Potholes, expansion joints, wavy pavement—the car should track-day sedans be if, realistically, owners different personalities just shrugs it off. An unexpected nuance. don’t take them to the track?” emerged.

H

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So the next morning, we grab an atlas. We’ll make for Palm Desert and blitz Route 74, climbing into the San Jacinto Mountains, where the road gets lonely.


THE COMPARISON

The AMG treatment makes the C-class cabin, already one of the best in class, even better.

sedan does? If the M3 is the new M5, then this is one hell of an M5. The other guys are already believers. “Still the benchmark,” says Wolfkill, “delivering the nameplate’s promise, livability with the finest track manners of the bunch.” Lerner’s notes read like a preacher thumping the Bavarian bible: “Handsdown the winner driving fast. Engine sounds great, seats are fantastic. It made me the most confident, especially as stability controls were progressively disabled. Modern cars make drivers believe they’re heroes; the M3 rewards skill on top of it. An immensely satisfying experience.” I’m not sure about the “sounds great” part (many angry tuba noises, played through the stereo), but he’s spot-on otherwise. Chassis balance is right there with the Alfa, yet the BMW is leagues more refined at speed. Less histrionics, more get-down-to-business, from the suspension to the styling and the cabin. (The latter is functional, if maybe not special.) We all agree: Rumors of the M3’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. But the C63 S is in a different class, and not just because of its $94,770 sticker. Our test car came swimming in pap, from a fragrance ionizer to mood lighting and semiautonomous cruise control. Even the stripped-down, $73,725, base-model C63 S would blow the Alfa and BMW away. Its cabin is exquisite, substantial, tactile. The car is totally content clicking off miles

The Mercedes can hang. The steering, meaty and trusty, is just right for the big sedan’s personality.

Still, there are issues. Challenging at the track, the Alfa is a chore to hustle smoothly on back roads. Traffic only makes things worse. It exacerbates the hair-trigger throttle tip-in, and the touchy brake pedal is giving me fits. So are the manual seat adjustments. While the optional carbon-fiber Sparco buckets are eye candy, Lerner says he can’t nail the right position. I can’t either, and Wolfkill notices the driver’s side developing “the world’s most annoying metal-to-carbon squeak.” Hiccups are to be expected. After all, Alfa Romeo’s skunkworks designed this car, clean-sheet, in an impossibly short two and a half years. The effort is commendable, and some people want an at-the-limits veneer at all times. For them, the Quadrifoglio’s calibration will be endearing, quirks to keep you on your toes. Those folks might not mind the workaday Fiat-Chrysler cockpit either. We did. Consider it a compelling start, not a mic drop. Wolfkill: “I’d wait for version 2.0.” South of Idyllwild, I’m coming around to the BMW. It doesn’t communicate like previous generations, but what modern 48

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half-asleep. Then you drop the windows, switch the exhaust to loud mode, and boogie. The Merc can hang. Through the twisties nearing the end of our run to Banning, it handles a lighter, pointier car’s work anywhere below eight-tenths, in the real-world range of operation. Deduct points for grace, then immediately add them back, because that engine just won’t quit. Seventeen-some-odd pounds of boost, and the C63 could almost pass for naturally aspirated. It’ll make you fall in love with AMG V-8s all over again. Once we pull off the road and start cracking into this group categorically, nobody can find where the Mercedes is lacking. The steering, meaty and trusty, is just right for the big sedan’s personality. The gearbox, buttery around town and snappy under duress, is nearly as brisk as the M3’s dual-clutch. The ride, remarkably forgiving, is even better than that of the Alfa.


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OFFICIAL PERFORMANCE TEST REPORT 2017 ALFA ROMEO GIULIA QUADRIFOGLIO

2017 BMW M3

SPECI F IC ATIONS ALFA ROMEO GIULIA QUADRIFOGLIO

BMW M3

MERCEDES-AMG C63 S

.................$73,595/$85,445................

.................$64,995/$88,045................

.................$73,725/$94,770 ................

.......DOHC 24-valve twin-turbo V-6...... ....................front, longitudinal................... ............aluminum block and heads........... ............................ 2891 cc ........................... .....................86.5 x 82.0 mm .................... ...............................9.3:1 .............................. ............... 7000 rpm/7250 rpm............... .......................direct injection......................

....... DOHC 24-valve twin-turbo I-6....... ....................front, longitudinal................... .............aluminum block and head............ ............................2979 cc ........................... .....................84.0 x 89.6 mm .................... ..............................10.2:1............................. ............... 7500 rpm/7500 rpm............... .......................direct injection......................

.......DOHC 32-valve twin-turbo V-8 ...... ....................front, longitudinal................... ............aluminum block and heads........... ............................3982 cc ........................... .....................83.0 x 92.0 mm .................... ..............................10.5:1............................. ............... 7000 rpm/7000 rpm............... .......................direct injection......................

PRICE BASE/AS TESTED

ENGINE

443

LB-FT PEAK TORQUE @ 2500–5500 RPM

0–7000 RPM

444

PEAK HP (SAE) @ 7000 RPM

406

LB-FT PEAK TORQUE @ 1850–5500 RPM

0–8000 RPM

503

0–600 HP/LB-FT

PEAK HP (SAE) @ 6500 RPM

0–600 HP/LB-FT

505

0–600 HP/LB-FT

CONFIGURATION LAYOUT MATERIAL DISPLACEMENT BORE x STROKE COMPRESSION RATIO REDLINE/FUEL CUTOFF FUEL DELIVERY

PEAK HP (SAE) @ 5500–6250 RPM

516

LB-FT PEAK TORQUE @ 1750–4500 RPM 0–7000 RPM

TRANSMISSION DRIVEN WHEELS TYPE

.................................rear ............................... .................. 8-speed automatic..................

DIFFERENTIAL FINAL-DRIVE RATIO

..........................limited-slip ......................... ............................. 3.09:1............................. GEAR ..........RATIO .......... CALC MAX (RPM) 1................ 5.00:1.........36 mph (7250) 2................ 3.20:1.........57 mph (7250) 3................ 2.14:1.........85 mph (7250) 4.................1.72:1......106 mph (7250) 5................ 1.31:1......138 mph (7250) 6................ 1.00:1......182 mph (7250) 7................ 0.82:1...... 191 mph (6400) 8................ 0.64:1...... 182 mph (4700)

.................................rear................................ ....... 7-speed dual-clutch automatic....... with launch control ..........................limited-slip ......................... ............................. 3.46:1............................. GEAR ..........RATIO .......... CALC MAX (RPM) 1................ 4.81:1.........35 mph (7500) 2................ 2.59:1.........65 mph (7500) 3.................1.70:1.........98 mph (7500) 4................ 1.28:1......131 mph (7500) 5................ 1.00:1......167 mph (7200) 6................ 0.84:1...... 167 mph (6200) 7.................0.67:1...... 167 mph (4900)

.................................rear................................ .................. 7-speed automatic.................. with launch control ..........................limited-slip ......................... ............................. 2.82:1............................. GEAR ..........RATIO .......... CALC MAX (RPM) 1................ 4.38:1.........43 mph (7000) 2................ 2.86:1.........66 mph (7000) 3................ 1.92:1.........98 mph (7000) 4................ 1.37:1......138 mph (7000) 5................ 1.00:1......180 mph (6400) 6................ 0.82:1......180 mph (5300) 7.................0.73:1...... 180 mph (4750)

............................. electric............................. .................................2.2 ................................ ..............................37.5 ft .............................

............................. electric............................. .................................2.3 ................................ ..............................40.0 ft .............................

...................electromechanical .................. .................................2.4 ................................ .............................. 37.1 ft .............................

................control arms, multilink...............

..................strut-type, multilink .................

.................. multilink, multilink...................

15.4-in vented carbon-ceramic rotors, 6-piston fixed calipers 14.2-in vented carbon-ceramic rotors, 4-piston fixed calipers ......................fully defeatable ..................... ....Pirelli P Zero Corsa Asimmetrico 2 ... ...............f 245/35ZR-19 (93Y) .............. .............. r 285/30ZR-19 (98Y)..............

15.7-in vented carbon-ceramic rotors, 6-piston fixed calipers 15.0-in vented carbon-ceramic rotors, 4-piston fixed calipers ..........partially and fully defeatable......... ............Michelin Pilot Super Sport........... ..............f 265/30ZR-20 (94Y) ............. ..............r 285/30ZR-20 (99Y) .............

15.4-in vented carbon-ceramic rotors, 6-piston fixed calipers ........... 14.2-in vented iron rotors,........... 1-piston sliding calipers ..........partially and fully defeatable......... ............Michelin Pilot Super Sport ........... ...............f 245/35ZR-19 (93Y) .............. .............. r 265/35ZR-19 (98Y)..............

.............................unibody ............................ ......... steel, aluminum, carbon fiber......... .................182.6 x 73.7 x 56.1 in ............... ............................ 111.0 in ........................... ........................61.2/63.3 in ...................... .................................4/5 ............................... .............................13.0 ft3 ...........................

.............................unibody ............................ ......... steel, aluminum, carbon fiber......... ...............184.5 x 73.9 x 56.3 in .............. ............................ 110.7 in ........................... ........................62.2/63.1 in ...................... .................................4/5 ............................... ............................. 17.0 ft3 ............................

.............................unibody ............................ ......................steel, aluminum..................... .................187.0 x 72.4 x 56.1 in ............... ............................111.8 in ........................... ........................63.0/61.0 in ...................... .................................4/5 ............................... .............................12.6 ft3 ...........................

STEERING ASSIST TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK TURNING CIRCLE

SUSPENSION FRONT, REAR

BRAKES & TIRES FRONT REAR STABILITY CONTROL TIRES SIZE

BODY & CHASSIS CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT WHEELBASE TRACK, F/R DOORS/SEATS CARGO CAPACITY

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THE COMPARISON SCALE: 10 IN. DIVISIONS | ILLUSTRATION BY TIM BARKER | © ROAD & TRACK/HEARST MAGAZINES

2017 MERCEDES-AMG C63 S

GIULIA

M3

C63 S

WEIGHT CURB WEIGHT ...........................3822 lb............. 3662 lb ...........3958 lb DISTRIBUTION F/R ............... 52.6/47.4% ......52.3/47.7%....53.8/46.2% WEIGHT-TO-POWER RATIO ..... 7.6 lb/hp........... 8.2 lb/hp.......... 7.9 lb/hp

FUEL EPA CITY/HWY ....................... 17/24 mpg ....... 17/24 mpg......18/24 mpg FUEL CAPACITY ....................... 15.3 gal ............ 15.8 gal ...........17.4 gal FUEL RANGE ............................. 367 mi .............. 379 mi .............418 mi RECOMMENDED FUEL ............. premium ............ premium .......... premium

T E S T R E S U LT S GIULIA

0 –1/4-mile,

M3

C63 S

3.7 4.0 3.8 11.9 12.2 11.9 191 167 180 1.00 0.98 0.97

0–60 mph, seconds...........................

............

...........

seconds @ mph ......................... @ 119.7 mph...... @ 118.4 mph ..... @ 121.2 mph top speed, mph...............

............

.........

roadholding, g 300-ft skidpad........

.....

....

ACCELERATION 1 FOOT (ROLLOUT) .........................0.2 sec ....................0.3 sec ....................0.3 sec ROLLING START, 5–60 MPH .............. 4.3 ............................ 4.6 ............................ 4.4 0–10 MPH ....................................... 0.3.......................0.4 ...................... 0.4 0–20 ............................................... 1.0.......................1.1 ...................... 1.1 0–30 ............................................... 1.5.......................1.8 ...................... 1.7 0–40 ............................................... 2.1.......................2.5 ...................... 2.4 0–50 ............................................... 2.8.......................3.2 ...................... 3.0 0–60 ............................................... 3.7.......................4.0 ...................... 3.8 0–70 ............................................... 4.6.......................5.0 ...................... 4.7 0–80 ............................................... 5.7.......................6.1 ...................... 5.7 0–90 ............................................... 6.9.......................7.4 ...................... 6.9 0–100 ............................................. 8.3.......................8.8 ...................... 8.4 0–110 ...........................................10.0.................... 10.6 ...................... 9.9 0–120 ...........................................12.0.................... 12.6 ....................11.7 0–130 ...........................................14.2.................... 15.0 ....................13.9 0–140 ...........................................17.1.................... 18.0 ....................16.7 0–150 ...........................................20.6.................... 21.9 ....................19.7 TOP SPEED ...........................191 mph............. 167 mph .............180 mph (drag-ltd, mfr)..... (elec ltd, est) .... (elec ltd, mfr)

BRAKING 60–0 MPH ................................. 110 ft..................112 ft ................. 118 ft 80–0 MPH ................................. 191 ft..................198 ft ................. 206 ft FADE............................................. none.................... none .................... none

HANDLING ROADHOLDING ........................ 1.00 g ................... 0.98 g ................ 0.97 g

mild

mild

moderate

BALANCE .......................... understeer..........understeer ......... understeer

TEST NOTES

We used launch control on the M3, but we beat the C63’s launch control with a low-rev brake-torque start (right foot on brake, left on accelerator). The Giulia’s braking numbers are from a car with nonceramic rotors.

The official fuel of ROAD & TRACK

The lone sticking point is the AMG’s mission. It’s a tightrope walk between luxurious fast sedan and luxury sedan that happens to be fast. The lone sticking point is the car’s mission. It’s a tightrope walk between luxurious fast sedan and luxury sedan that happens to be fast. The demographic that insists on wearing Nomex to buy cat food might find fault there. But ultimately, the AMG is better at being a road car than the other two are at being track cars. Even Lerner, champion of the M3, makes a confession in his notes. “I’m somewhat chagrined to acknowledge the C63 S is the one I’d spend my own money to own.” Wolfkill echoes that. “Versatility dings it slightly in the performance extreme. But the Mercedes is the one to keep, confident in the knowledge you’re not compromising anything of significance for regular use.” Regular use. Those original homologation machines were used regularly in competition. But generations removed, these are consumer goods, not moonshots. Cars don’t exist in a vacuum. To that end, the Giulia Quadrifoglio is the gutsiest, a serious first stab that leaves an impression. The M3 is objectively sharpest, still a siren yet no longer infallible. Whatever modicum of performance the Mercedes leaves on the racetrack, it makes up everywhere else. For what “regular use” means today, the C63 S is damn near irresistible. ■ ROADANDTR ACK .COM

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THE FIRST DRIVE | 2018 AUDI T T RS

THE RIGHT STUFF IN THE HILLS OF SWABIA, WE MEET THE MEANEST TT EVER AND THE MAN WHO CREATED IT. BY JASON H. HARPER | PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEFFEN JAHN

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THE FIRST DRIVE

HIS TURN IS LIKE THE CORKSCREW AT LAGUNA SECA,”

says Stephan Reil. The Audi engineer and godfather of all things RS is clipping along a rural lane in southwestern Germany in a red TT RS. The road angles out of a frost-covered forest and through barren fields with corn husks plowed under hard ground. The thin stripe of asphalt drops abruptly and doglegs halfway down. Reil downshifts twice and accelerates into the kink, grinning wolfishly. When you’re head of development at Audi Sport (formerly Quattro GmbH), this qualifies as work. The TT RS’s five-cylinder single-turbo engine responds to the increased revs with a delicious pump of sound, and we slingshot through the curve. The coupe is outfitted with snow tires, but the grip is mein Gott! impressive. Have you ever driven a car and wanted to lean over and ask the chief engineer why he or she did things a certain way? With Reil at my side, I have the chance to do exactly that. Reil developed the first TT RS coupe, which arrived in 2011 with a 2.5-liter five turbocharged to 360 hp and 343 lb-ft of torque, a short-throw, six-speed manual, and a renewed sense of purpose for a car that hard-core enthusiasts had dismissed as a styling exercise. This time around, the TT RS has even more power and rides on the VW Group’s MQB platform. Reil and I are on a loop of rural roads and autobahn that he and his team regularly drive while developing their cars, honing chassis dynamics and engine acoustics. Audi Sport is located in Neckarsulm, a small city in southwest Germany that is closer to Stuttgart, home of Porsche and Mercedes-Benz, than Ingolstadt, where Audi itself is headquartered. The region is known as Swabia and offers a great variety of roads threading through dense forests and open countryside. The kind of place that makes you want to get out and drive. “I love being behind the wheel,” says Reil merrily. The first things that strike you about the ever-grinning, joke-telling Reil is that he loves his job—and that he is no stiff German engineer. The 51-year-old put 5000 miles on various iterations of the TT RS between the prototypes and the production-ready car. The TT RS is also Reil’s daily driver, and he averages 50,000 miles a year commuting between Neckarsulm and Ingolstadt or up

to the Nürburgring. “It’s my philosophy that, as the head of development, you have to be very close to the product from the earliest stages,” he says as he wheels through an off-camber turn. “A car like the TT RS starts as a theory, but it isn’t until the first prototype hits the road that you can check the validity of those theories. You’ve got to get it right from the beginning.” Audi’s performance division is having a moment. Longtime Lamborghini chief Stephan Winkelmann has left Italy to take over as CEO. More than 20,000 RS cars will be produced this year, with

Audi Sport chief Stephan Reil is gunning for BMW M and Mercedes-AMG with a raft of high-performance models, starting with the TT RS. ROADANDTR ACK .COM

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THE FIRST DRIVE

seven models offered in Europe. While only the RS7 is currently on sale in the U.S., we’ll presumably have at least five new Audi Sport models, including the TT RS, the RS3, the RS5, a new RS7, and the R8, which is also engineered by the team, even if it doesn’t have “RS” in the name. “We are constantly growing,” Reil says. Audi Sport didn’t start manufacturing performance cars until two decades ago. By comparison, BMW’s Motorsport GmbH division (later known as M) was founded in 1972, and AMG formed in 1967. Quattro was created in the early 1980s to serve as Audi’s branded-goods arm, selling stuff like jackets and shirts as a way to keep the Quattro trademark legally intact. It began customizing customer cars in 1995 and released its first model, the S6 Plus, in 1996. (The notorious 1994 RS2 Avant was a joint project between Audi AG and Porsche.) Reil joined Quattro in 1995 and took over as head of development in 1998. The first true RS car from the wholly owned Audi subsidiary was the 2000 RS4 Avant, a classic hot wagon. “At the time, I couldn’t imagine making a car that was faster,” says Reil. It was plenty quick: The 375-hp wagon arrived at 62 mph in 4.9 seconds. “I drove one recently, and the performance is still good, 2018 Audi TT RS and the sound still amazes. But it also shows how far technology has price $62,000 (est) engine dohc come, especially in tires, which just 20-valve 2.5-liter scream as you start to push them. I turbocharged i-5 looked back and said, ‘This couldn’t peak output 400 hp @ 5850–7000 rpm, 354 have been the edge of performance. lb-ft @ 1700–5850 rpm Could it?’ ” Since the early 2000s, transmission 7-speed dual-clutch Reil and his team have turned out automatic, awd reams of RS cars. The ones that lxwxh made it stateside include the 450164.4 x 72.0 x 52.8 in weight 3200 lb hp RS6 from 2002, the brilliant 0–62 mph 3.7 sec 2007 RS4, the 2010–present RS5, top speed 174 mph on sale summer and both generations of the R8—

the everyday supercar that changed the perception of the brand. Today’s Audi Sport has four pillars. The first is the RS models and the R8. The second is customer racing, including development of the new, evil-looking RS3 LMS. The third is another growing part of the business, Audi’s individualization program. The final is retail. (Yes, the division still sells jackets.) For Americans, the big takeaway is this: We’ll be seeing a lot more RS models in our future, as Audi tries to catch up with M and AMG. And no one will be more influential in the direction of those cars than the man sitting next to me right now.

W

E TEST OUTDOOR ACOUSTICS HERE,” says Reil, pointing out the passenger-side window to a small parking lot behind a veil of trees. “We get out and listen to the car as it passes.” I ask if they use special audio equipment. “Just our ears. How you experience the sound. It takes 10 minutes, then we return to the shop and put on another exhaust system and come back.” Usually Reil and his engineers will travel in a group of two or three cars, each with its own modification of the engine or damping system, so they can be tested back-to-back. When the team is not here, they’re at the Nürburgring. Asked what he’s most proud of in the new TT RS, Reil answers by goosing the engine. The horn-rimmed glasses on his nose rattle. Four hundred horses, 354 lb-ft of torque. Coupled with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (no manual at this time), all-wheel drive, and launch control, the engine will, Audi claims, propel the TT to 62 mph in 3.7 seconds. That feels conservative. The TT RS will only be available in the States as a coupe. Crucially, the RS model was envisioned and designed alongside the third-generation base TT. In previous times, Quattro would start work years after the base models were already on the road. Now Reil’s team gives their engineering wishes to the Audi AG designers from the onset, sounding off on everything from the diameter of the exhaust to the amount of cooling needed and the size of brakes and wheels. “You’ve got to try the launch control,” Reil enthuses. (I do, later. Jarringly quick.) The five-cylinder engine has a 40-year history at Audi; a turbo five powered the RS2 Avant, the original Quattro coupe, and the last-generation TT RS. This one is different. An aluminum block replaces the previous TT RS’s iron block and helps reduce the engine’s weight by 57 pounds. The inherently imbalanced five creates a potent, ferocious sound. “We could have put in just another high-output four-cylinder,” Reil says, then shakes his head curtly. “But the danger with low-end torque is it gets boring when you rev it. We fought for the Understated or underwhelming? The RS cosmetic treatment—slightly larger rear wing, rear diffuser, colored cabin accents—only hints at the performance.

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THE FIRST DRIVE

Reil says he prefers the TT RS with fixed dampers, like the car we’re driving today. Magnetorheological dampers are also available; Comfort mode is a bit more forgiving, and Dynamic mode, that much stiffer. But the passive dampers seem just right, even on cracked tarmac. You can definitely feel the road surface through the structure and the seat, but it isn’t unpleasant. I hesitate, afraid to sound like a wimp, but tell Reil that many new sports cars seem too stiff for their own good. Softer, comfort-oriented modes often get better traction on uneven asphalt. He nods again. “Too much stiffness comes with a penalty. Most production cars don’t have enough wheel travel. So when the car is overly stiff and you’re on a surface with a lot of variation, the wheels aren’t actually touching the surface as often. It’s simple. When you lose your grip, you lose time.” We’ve been driving for several hours when Reil pulls into a parking area near an autobahn on-ramp for a break. When it’s time to get back in the car, I suggest we switch places. He seems surprised—it apparently hadn’t occurred to him. Obviously he isn’t often a passenger. But Reil cedes his seat, and I follow his directions around a traffic circle and sprint onto the autobahn. Triple-digit speed comes easily. The car wants to run. Top speed is an electronically controlled 155 mph. Upon request, Audi will remove the stopper, letting the car hit 174 mph. I won’t be doing anywhere near that today, on winter tires. Much too soon, we run out of derestricted autobahn—an unfortunate fact in modern Germany. Reil directs me onto secondary roads, through a forest of white-frosted trees (“Dauerfrost” in German). Valleys cloaked in mist. Ice-slicked asphalt. It’s beautiful and ghostly but hardly the conditions to push the

All in a day’s work: Reil wheels the TT RS through the hills near Audi Sport’s headquarters in Neckarsulm, Germany.

five-cylinder engine. It’s got a raw character. Personality. When you go up to 7000 rpm, every rev has to get wilder and wilder, saying more and more. Luckily, our board is full of petroleum heads, so the argument was won very easily.” The broad grin returns. There is no better place to get to know someone than on a road trip. Who needs a confessional when you’ve got the cabin of a car? The happy trance of miles and the relaxation that comes with movement allow people to be themselves. In this case, Reil and I are just two car guys, discussing the deeper philosophy of building sports cars. And I’ve got opinions: Variable-ratio steering can feel artificial. An accelerator shouldn’t be jumpy in sport mode. You should be able to steer with your right foot and not have the torque build in mad, uncontrollable spurts. Over the miles, Reil responds with appreciative nods. As for turbos and torque, Reil says: “Sure, the numbers are important. But at least as important is how it delivers power with the throttle response. You should be able to drive the car on track or snow and be able to adjust power using the pedal. The torque has to be adjustable, but not in big clumsy steps, and with no delay.” 64

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Whatever. Wherever. Whenever. RAV4 comes standard with readiness for everything, from a weekend-long camping trip to a winter-long cross-country ski trip, and almost anything that Mother Nature can throw at it in between. Its available All-Wheel Drive will lead you confidently from adventure to adventure — whatever, wherever and whenever.

Prototype shown with options. Production model may vary. Dramatization. Do not attempt. Š2016 Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.


THE FIRST DRIVE

Audi. The driving is relaxed, but the car feels tightly wound, built without extra give. Reil may put thousands of miles on it, but this is no grand-touring car. I ask Reil what he sees as the TT RS’s raison d’être. “It is light, powerful, and understated. Super sports cars have a ‘look at me!’ image. Here you have a toy that performs in the same league, but it’s underestimated because it’s a compact. It’s unbelievably fast on a racetrack. On the Nordschleife, in the hands of a pro driver, the R8 V10 Plus is 15 seconds faster. But with just a good driver, he’ll be faster in the TT because of the accessibility of performance.”

T

HAT EVENING, at a hotel some 30 miles from Neckarsulm, we finish the day with thick venison steaks, good wine, and overlarge beers. We shake hands the next morning, bouncing on our heels in the cold, and then he bounds off in his RS3, back to work at the factory. I too have a meeting later in the day, at the Audi Forum in Neckarsulm. But first, I want to put some more miles on the car. Reil programmed in the Audi Forum address, but I ignore the nav system and head away from the autobahn to open countryside. The roads curl through miles and miles of farmland, dotted by villages. There is no dividing line, the asphalt is good and dry, and there is no traffic. If I have a misgiving about the new TT RS, it is a simple one: the styling. There’s the rear wing and the swollen fenders and a very agreeable lower fascia that can be had in black or silver. But those bits feel more like additions than any overall dynamic concept. The TT itself is no longer a revolutionary design, and Audi’s performance cars overall—very much including the R8— need and deserve a hit of design excitement. Toggling between Sport and the occasional Sport Plus, I send the TT surging along the back roads. Even on winter tires, this is a car with a lot of grip. I see how you’d soon come to rely on that traction. Little surprise that this front-engine car doesn’t pivot at the hips like the mid-engine Porsche Cayman, its obvious competitor, but the Audi intoxicates with sound and grip. The steering is also very good. The previous generation’s variable steering, even in Sport, left the wheel featherlight in switchback turns. This time the strategy is different. When switched into Sport, the 14.0:1 ratio is reduced to 12.0:1 but otherwise remains constant. So every steering-wheel input feels exactly like the last. Wonderful. The navigation system keeps directing me, in German, and then redirecting me again when I set off down yet another arcing side road. I’m getting deeper and deeper into the Swabian countryside and farther from the autobahn. I look at my watch. I’m going to be late to my meeting. But I’m here for the car. To hell with it. I gun around a corner, overtake a truck, and burn through a set of sweepers. I’m reminded of something that Reil had said to me the day before. Something that resonated. “It’s really easy to make a certain kind of sports car these days,” he said. “Bolt on a big engine and good brakes, and the numbers will be good. But making a car with personality, that’s the difficult part. A car that feels alive, with soul, like a living, breathing thing. That’s what we’re trying to do.” ■

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“Making a car with personality, that’s the difficult part. A car that feels alive, with soul, like a living, breathing thing. That’s what we’re trying to do.”


MOTORSPORT

ENOUGH? PERHAPS THE ONLY THING HARDER THAN REACHING THE PINNACLE OF R ACING IS KNOWING WHEN TO STEP DOWN. BY DAV I D T R E M AY N E

ico Rosberg’s decision to retire from Formula 1, in the hour of his triumph over Lewis Hamilton for the 2016 world championship, shocked motorsport fans. It also raised an eternal question: When is the right time to say goodbye? For any world-class athlete, stepping away is difficult. To quit is an admission of mortality, an acknowledgement that the bright light of success will inevitably dim, if it hasn’t already. Michael Jordan unretired twice. Muhammad Ali continued boxing even as, doctors now believe, he was suffering early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The decision is no easier for racing drivers. Despite decades of safety advances, a driver’s life is on the line with every start, every practice, every test. And yet Rosberg, who competed for 11 seasons in F1 before claiming the crown, also walked away from so much: the chance to repeat as champion, with the support of the topflight Mercedes AMG Petronas team. Tens of millions of dollars. The adulation of fans worldwide. A bigger place in the history books. What is known today as the FIA Formula 1 World Championship was inaugurated in 1950. Since then, there have been 33 champions. Twelve are deceased, and four are still racing. That leaves only 17 living F1 drivers who know what Rosberg reckoned with. Here are their stories.

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MOTORSPORT

JACKIE STEWART

3 TITLE S: 1969, 197 1, 1973 RETIRED 1973

JOHN SURTEES

1 TITLE: 1964 | RETIRED 1972

“If I could have found a top-class man to run my team, I would have carried on racing. But I couldn’t find that man, and things were getting on top of me as I both ran the team and drove for it. “I was worried I wouldn’t be able to put the necessary time into driving and looking after the business. And there were some health issues, so I gradually reduced my competitive driving that year before stopping.” 70

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In the aftermath of Jo Bonnier’s fatal accident at Le Mans in 1972, Jackie Stewart’s son asked him if what Bonnier’s daughter said was true: that Jackie would be the next to die. Stewart decided he would retire at the end of the 1973 season. But he barely told a soul. After the South African Grand Prix, early in the season, he broke the news over lunch with three trusted friends: Ken Tyrrell and Ford executives Walter Hayes and John Waddell. “That was when I told them that I intended to retire at the end of the year. “I didn’t tell Helen [his wife], because though she was fully supportive of whatever decision I took about my future, I didn’t want her having to go to each race thinking of the 10 green bottles sort of thing, from that old English song about bottles falling one by one from a wall. “Another person I couldn’t tell was my teammate François Cevert, who was faster on some tracks that year. Ferrari were wooing him, and I had to walk a tightrope trying to persuade him to stay at Tyrrell without explaining why. I had told Ken that I believed François could be world champion with him in 1974.” Sadly, Cevert never got to make his decision. He died after a terrible accident at Watkins Glen that season, which caused Stewart to leave the sport one race sooner than planned.

M A R C H /A P R I L 2 0 1 7

EMERSON FITTIPALDI 2 T I T L E S : 1 9 7 2 , 1 9 74 RETIRED 1980

“My last two years in F1, I was only going to races because it was an obligation.” Those were unhappy times. Emerson Fittipaldi’s marriage was on the rocks, and the F1 team he ran with his brother Wilson was in dire financial straits. The double champion’s quiet retirement after the United States Grand Prix in 1980 was poignant. A decade earlier at Watkins Glen, 23-year-old Fittipaldi had scored his maiden grand-prix triumph and secured a posthumous title for fallen teammate Jochen Rindt. Fittipaldi didn’t stay away from racing for long. After accepting an invitation to drive a GTP car at the 1985 Miami Grand Prix, he felt the old spark rekindle. It led to a second career, as a Champ-car driver and two-time Indy 500 champion.


MARIO ANDRETTI

1 TITLE: 1978 | RE TIRED 1981, 1982

JODY SCHECKTER

1 TITLE: 1979 | RETIRED 1980

Jody Scheckter won the world championship in 1979, but very little of that success carried over to 1980, when he scored only two points and failed to qualify for the season’s penultimate race. “When I started racing in F1, everything about it was an all-consuming passion. It was uppermost in my thoughts at all times. Nothing in life was more important to me. In motor racing, to be successful, you must give 110 percent. I felt I no longer had that 110 percent commitment. “I decided to quit in July 1980. When I told Mr. Ferrari, I think he was a little sad, because we had always enjoyed a sensible relationship. But I think he understood my reasons.” Scheckter finished out the season, then left. “When I got into the car for the remaining races, I still gave my full commitment,” he said. “But I would have been very upset if I got killed just doing it for the money, had I carried on. It was the right time for me to stop.”

Racing’s greatest all-rounder appeared to be finished with F1 by the end of 1981, after switching from the sinking Team Lotus to Alfa Romeo and doing no better. “It was an emotional situation. Because one of the reasons that I had left Formula 1 was an uncompetitive car that left such a sour taste with me. And it was pretty much time for me to go back home.” But the death of Gilles Villeneuve in 1982 and injuries to Didier Pironi had created a berth at Ferrari. “To go back to Formula 1 and have a good go at it, a good car, was very satisfying.” Andretti put his Ferrari on pole at Monza and finished third. After the car broke in Vegas, he was done with F1 again. Seven years later, when Gerhard Berger burned his hands in a fiery crash at Imola, Andretti was tempted by an offer to race for Ferrari once more. “The biggest problem was that there would have been no time to test. If the car had had a conventional gearbox (it had the new electrohydraulic shift), it would have been something to go for. A good car in a one-off race. Why not? I would’ve given it a serious go, sure.”

NIKI LAUDA

3 T I T L E S : 1 9 7 5 , 1 9 7 7, 1 9 8 4 RE TIRED 1979, 1985

Niki Lauda admits he was upset by Rosberg’s shock retirement, but his own first parting from the sport, in 1979, was even more abrupt. “It was in Montreal. I had started up the Cosworth engine in my Brabham, but as I pulled out of the pits, it was like a curtain came down. I had only one thought in my head: You don’t belong here, at all. Go and do something else. Now. “So I told Bernie [Ecclestone] I was through at Brabham and said to journalists: ‘I’m fed up driving ’round in stupid circles.’ ” After starting Lauda Air, he made a successful comeback in 1982. The Austrian legend retired at the end of 1985 after winning a third title in 1984.

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MOTORSPORT

ALAN JONES

1 TITLE: 1980 | RETIRED 1981, 1983, 1986

“I was just tired of all the running around and wanted to do something else.” The tough Australian retired for the first time at the end of 1981 after winning the Caesars Palace Grand Prix in Las Vegas with Williams. He came back briefly with the Arrows team in 1983, and again with Haas Lola in 1985–86, before offers of further drives evaporated.

ALAIN PROST

4 TITLES: 1985, 1986, 1989, 1993 | RE TIRED 1993

NELSON PIQUET

3 TITLES: 1981, 1983, 1987 RETIRED 1991

KEKE ROSBERG

1 TITLE: 1982 | RETIRED 1986

After he switched from Williams to McLaren, the ebullient Finn decided 1986 would be his last season. “My final race was in Adelaide, Australia, and I was ‘walking’ it when I heard this rumbling noise from the car. I figured it was a puncture and slowed down.” Which was just as well, because the brake discs, he later found out, were about to shatter. It was the last race of the season. “I’d have loved to have won that race, but I was happy with the way I was able to leave F1 on my own terms.” 72

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Nelson Piquet once frowned upon the idea of retiring: “Everybody dreams of driving an F1 car. If I were to stop, I’d probably relax too much. I wouldn’t be an alcoholic or get into drugs or anything like that, but if I didn’t have to do something interesting in my life I’d probably get bored and become fat.” Although he won two titles with Brabham and another with Williams, the dramatic speed of a new teammate, Michael Schumacher, changed his mind, prompting him to retire at the end of 1991. The three-time champion still isn’t fat. And despite a huge accident at the Indianapolis 500 in 1992, and health issues since, the man from Rio de Janeiro thrived, setting up Autotrac, a fleetcommunication business.

M A R C H /A P R I L 2 0 1 7

Alain Prost was contracted with Williams through 1994 but learned in the middle of 1993 that higher-ups wanted Ayrton Senna alongside him the next season. Having had the Brazilian as his teammate at McLaren in 1988 and the hugely acrimonious 1989 season, Prost wasn’t prepared to go through the experience again. “I told Frank Williams: ‘If you want to take Ayrton, you choose. I want to compete against Ayrton—I have no problem about that—but not in the same team. I want to fight on the track. I want to have the best chance possible to beat him on the track. “I knew then that 1993 would be my last season, even though I did not want to stop.” Prost followed through on his threat, but not before closing out the season with his fourth title.


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MOTORSPORT

NIGEL MANSELL

MIKA HÄKKINEN

1 TITLE: 1992 RE TIRED 1990, 1992, 1995

2 TITLES: 1998, 1999 RETIRED 2001

The emotional Englishman, unhappy with his circumstances at Ferrari, almost left F1 without a championship. Nigel Mansell announced he would retire at the end of the 1990 season, but Frank Williams enticed him to return in 1991. Mansell won the championship in dominating fashion the following year. Yet failure to agree on terms with Williams led Mansell to the CART IndyCar series, which he won for Newman/Haas in 1993. “People will tell you all sorts of things about why I didn’t stay,” he said, “but fundamentally, I didn’t like the way I was being treated, and Frank and I were unable to agree on terms acceptable to me.” In 1994, Mansell returned to F1 and Williams for the season’s last four races, even winning his first Australian Grand Prix. He joined McLaren in 1995, but left the uncompetitive team after only two races.

Mika Häkkinen crashed hard at Adelaide in 1995 but returned to win backto-back championships in 1998 and 1999. By 2001, “the Flying Finn” was contemplating quitting the sport even as he continued to compete at a high level. “It can be difficult to motivate yourself when you know what you are going to do, but I had some races that I really wanted to win. Silverstone was one; Indianapolis, the other. And I won both of them. I can’t explain why that happened and how I was able to do it. It just happened. But those two wins made me feel stronger and more confident about my decision.” McLaren boss Ron Dennis left the door open for him to return, but Häkkinen had no second thoughts. “I didn’t want to hurt myself again. I had achieved so much, and it wasn’t worth it anymore to push my luck further. I wanted to watch my son Hugo grow up, to be with my wife.”

DAMON HILL

1 TITLE: 1996 | RETIRED 1999

Damon Hill saw firsthand how someone can stay too long. His father, the dashing, mustachioed Graham Hill, was champion with BRM in 1962 and Lotus in 1968, but got less and less competitive before finally hanging up his helmet in May 1975, just six months before he crashed his plane near London. After winning the world championship in 1996, Damon Hill became increasingly fearful for his own safety while dealing with all sorts of unseen, unsuspected, and unresolved emotional issues that emanated from his father’s death. He admits in his recent autobiography that he parked a sound car in his final race, at Suzuka, “overtaken by the instinct to survive to a ripe old age for the sake of myself and my wife and children.”

JACQUES VILLENEUVE 1 TITLE: 1997 | RETIRED 2006

After arriving like a whirlwind in 1996 and narrowly missing the title, Jacques Villeneuve won with Williams in 1997. His later career proved less successful. He bounced from British American Racing to Renault and finally to Sauber, before falling out of F1. “I never retired,” the ever-candid Villeneuve said. “I was simply shown the door halfway through 2006, and then doors stayed closed. But I am not ready to hang the gloves. I am still a racer. All I am missing is a steering wheel!” 74

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NICO ROSBERG

1 TITLE: 2016 | RETIRED 2016

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER

7 TITLES: 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 RETIRED 2006, 2012

Even Formula 1’s most prolific champion couldn’t escape the passage of time or the politics of the sport. Two years after Michael Schumacher’s last title, Ferrari pushed him to leave, so that the contracted Felipe Massa could be partnered with Kimi Räikkönen for 2007. After a three-year sabbatical, Schumacher returned, with the newly branded Mercedes team, but was again obliged to make way for an incoming young gun. This time it was Lewis Hamilton, to join incumbent Nico Rosberg.

JENSON BUTTON

1 TITLE: 2009 | RETIRED 2016

Jenson Button came close to being retired by McLaren after a bad season in 2015 but kept his seat and is still contracted as a reserve driver until 2018. However, at the final race of 2016, in Abu Dhabi, Button made it clear he was ready to stop. “The whole point of [the contract] was if, in three months’ time, I had eaten myself stupid and I changed my mind . . . But I don’t want to go into this race thinking it’s not my last race—it is.”

Nico Rosberg could, at times, appear arrogant and aloof as he dealt with continual disappointment and disillusionment in his battles against teammate Lewis Hamilton. Rosberg’s reason for retiring—his family—finally revealed the loving character behind that stern facade. “For 25 years, my dream was to become Formula 1 world champion. Through the hard work, the pain, the sacrifices, that was always the target. And now I’d climbed my mountain, I was standing on the peak. “The 2016 season was so damn tough. I pushed like crazy in every area after the previous disappointments. They motivated me to levels I had never experienced before. And that had an impact on the ones I love. It was a family effort of sacrifice, putting everything behind our target. I cannot find enough words to thank my incredible wife, Vivian. She understood that 2016 was our big opportunity, and she made the space for me to recover fully between each race. She looked after our daughter Alaia at nights, and always put our championship fight first.” ■ Motorsport writer David Tremayne is the author of 49 books on motor racing and founding co-partner of the ezine Grand Prix+. He attended his 500th grand prix in Malaysia in 2016.

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THE FIRST DRIVE | 2018 MERCEDES-AMG GT R

GREEN HELLION BETTER GRIP, BETTER DOWNFORCE, BETTER CAR. AMG FINALLY DIALS IN ITS FLAGSHIP. B Y C H R I S C H I LT O N


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THE FIRST DRIVE

Adjustable rear wing (left) is standard; race suit is up to you. New grille (bottom right) is inspired by the 300SL that won the Carrera Panamericana in 1952.

are as easy to lift as an empty cereal box. (Mercedes had a bare wheel on display for journalists to fondle.) Despite these measures, and the use of carbon fiber for the roof and wider fenders (mostly symbolic, since the aluminum skin is already so light and thin), the weight savings over the GT S is partially offset by things AMG added, like rear-wheel steering hardware, a HE AMG GT S IMPRESSED almost no one at this coil-over suspension system with adjustable spring perches, magazine’s 2016 Performance Car of the Year wider wheels and tires, and bigger carbon-fiber brake rotors. testing. Admittedly, that was a reflection of the The GT R also remains a very large car. The transmission tuncaliber of the competition—even the Ferrari 488 nel is wide like a Viper’s, and the nose is long and flat in front GTB couldn’t muster enough votes to win. But it of the windshield. also reflected disappointment with the hot Benz, which lacked But in motion, the GT R is light to the touch in a way the the nuance and chassis balance to go with its hand-built engine stock GT just isn’t. The steering feels weighty but tighter; and six-figure price. there’s more grip from the semislick Michelin Pilot Sport Cup Is the even more powerful and expensive GT R any differ2 tires and less sidewall flex. The rear-wheel steering is also ent? AMG chief Tobias Moers’s trackside advice at Portugal’s dramatically effective. When Ferrari fitted the technology to Portimão race circuit indicates it is indeed. With an easy smile, the F12tdf, it dialed out the standard car’s rampant oversteer he explains the best way to tackle the sphincterbut spoiled some of the predictability that fronttightening last turn before the straightaway—a engine, rear-drive cars deliver. Not so in the long, fast, blind, downhill right-hander—is with AMG GT R. The system is completely natural. 2018 Mercedes-AMG the stability system off and all four wheels driftJust a degree or so of toe-angle change to the GT R ing. Moers, an executive who likes to push enverear wheels stabilizes the car and makes you feel price $170,000 (est) lopes more than pencils, is clearly a gutsy and as if you’re sitting more centrally in the chassis, powertrain 4.0-liter twin-turbo skilled driver, but you don’t need to risk life and rather than strapped to the back of a torpedo. v-8, 577 hp, 516 lb-ft; limb to get the most out of the GT R, because it’s A bright-yellow dial below the air vents adjusts rwd, 7-speed automatic more focused, rawer, and yet also more managethe traction-control system. It lets you tailor your weight 3650 lb able than the GT S. ride’s slide quotient, if not quite to the nth degree, 0–60 mph 3.5 sec Some of the AMG flagship’s newfound accessithen at least between several. Give the stabiltop speed 198 mph on sale summer bility can be attributed to downforce. The GT R ity button a long press, then twist the dial full sports a manually adjustable rear wing to go with right. The R is as buttoned-down as a modern F1 the car’s active front spoiler, plus bumpers with more coves than driver. Dial all the way left to mimic James Hunt circa 1976. In a pirate’s address book. Compared with the AMG GT, at top practice, two clicks left of center is as good as it gets. speed, the R pummels the pavement with an extra 342 pounds It says something about this AMG that it’s taken us until of downforce but still slips more cleanly through air. The extenow to talk about the engine. But don’t worry, it hasn’t been rior treatment also guarantees the GT R won’t be confused with neglected. The 4.0-liter V-8 makes 577 hp, 108 more horses a lesser GT, especially when it’s painted in R-exclusive AMG than the base GT and 62 more than the GT S, thanks to a lower Green Hell Magno paint. compression ratio and an increase in the twin turbochargers’ What you won’t see, unless you put the car on a lift, are the boost pressure, from 17.4 to 19.6 psi. It’ll haul the GT R to just handsome carbon-fiber torque tube and underbody brace, shy of 200 mph, dumping every decibel straight onto the pavewhich replace heavier aluminum components on the regular ment through open exhaust flaps. car. For the same weight-saving reason, there’s a lithium-ion This is, in short, what Merc’s flagship sports car should always battery in place of the absorbent glass mat battery in the base have been. Thinking of buying a GT? Open that checkbook a bit GT. Fine-boned aluminum wheels, beyond looking fantastic, wider—about $40,000 wider—and say “R.” ■

T

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THE FIRST DRIVE | 2017 CHE VRO LE T C AMARO ZL1

POWER HITTER THE MOST POTENT PRODUCTION CAMARO EVER PROVES TO BE A COMPLETE PLAYER.


N A CAFÉ IN THE TOWN OF revs at launch in increments of 100 rpm to Nürburg, a waitress smiled better control wheelspin. down at a team of engineers The LT4’s 650 hp at 6400 rpm and 650 wearing Chevrolet insignia. lb-ft of torque at 3600 rpm don’t make “Ah,” she said. “We knew headlines the way 707-hp supercharged you Americans were in town. We could Mopar muscle cars do, but the ZL1 holds hear your cars.” its own in testing. This Camaro runs an They grinned back like a pack of delin11.3-second quarter-mile, with a trap quents. Shakedown testing at the world’s speed of 124.7 mph. On paper, Dodge’s benchmark circuit is serious business, but Hellcats are faster at the end of the quarthe ZL1 team wasn’t just there to shave ter. Door-to-door, tenths-to-tenths, it’s tires and post a quick lap time for the maranyone’s game. keting department. They’d come to build a Smelling lightly of eau de Goodyear, we monster. head for the serpentine tarmac of the AngeThe new “King Kong” Camaro is anyles Crest Highway. The varied curves and thing but subtle. Its arrival is heralded with rough pavement of the California canyon the shredding of air by a trio of enormous roads easily trip up automotive linebackers, front intakes, its departure by V-8 thunder and the ZL1, weighing 3933 pounds with reminiscent of late-Sixties Can-Am racers. an automatic, is a heavy Chevy. But careIt is styled like a visual uppercut. It does ful honing, much of it at the Nürburgring ridiculous burnouts. It comes with a stripe. (where the ZL1 posted a Mustang GT350R– The seat belts are red. beating 7:29.60 lap time), has given it grip But do not mistake this bellowing beast and confidence. GM’s excellent Magnetic for its overpowered predecessor. If there’s Ride Control system now has faster dampstill a whiff of mullet going on here, it’s now ing response. Instead of a single magnetic more Corvette-infused: Jordan Taylor on collar, there are now two smaller rings, the podium at Le Mans. which the engineers claim is akin to going “The fifth-generation Camaro came from a single turbocharger to a twin-turbo with a lot of baggage, for want of a betsetup, in terms of discernible response. ter word,” says lead development engineer Staggered Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar Aaron Link. tires, the same as on the Camaro SS 1LE, The previous Camaro, derived from generate more than 1 g of lateral grip. The large Holden sedans, was almost too big to variable-ratio steering rack tightens from handle. Sure, the Z/28 could 15.0:1 to 11.0:1 as it moves offdance, but that required center. Feel is not especially Chevrolet 305-series tires at all four abundant, but responsiveCamaro ZL1 corners. The cushier, more ness, thanks partly to those price $65,830 powerful ZL1 could turn sticky tires, is ridiculous. powertrain 6.2-liter impressive lap times but The ZL1 also gets the supercharged v-8, never felt light, nimble, or Corvette’s spooky-good elec650 hp, 650 lb-ft; rwd, 10-speed automatic thrilled about the job. tronic limited-slip rear difweight 3933 lb The new ZL1 promises to ferential. The Camaro doesn’t on sale now be a jack-of-all-trades. Excelpunish you for getting on lence is expected at the drag strip, at the the throttle early at exit, it simply roars in track, and on the street. delight and lunges forward. At the strip, the ZL1’s line-lock feature The key piece of tech here, though, is lets you heat up your bolt-on drag radials. the new 10-speed automatic transmisRelease lock, and the car glides forward sion, which GM developed with Ford. It’s from a cloud of tire smoke. Launch control incredibly complex. The ZL1 could have is as easy to use: Apply braking with the been a hot mess of bonehead upshifts and left foot, then mat the throttle. When the dropped downshifts. It is not. Instead, the Christmas tree lights up, the ZL1 chitters transmission, a torque-converter autoand squeaks down the asphalt, hammering matic with telepathy matching Porsche’s into full power as the rear wheels hook up PDK automatic, is possibly the best thing partway down the track. Launch control’s about the ZL1. Approaching a series of custom mode allows the driver to vary the twisties at speed, we goose the throttle,

I

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85


THE FIRST DRIVE

0–60 OFFICIAL TEST RESULTS

86

MPH

3.2 sec

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ROLLING START, 5–60 MPH

3.7 sec

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STANDING 1/4-MILE

its latest Nismo iteration, and something the 911 Turbo still lacks: humanity. It’s lead transmission calibrator Jeff Trush sitting shotgun and plotting a seven-eight upshift at 170 mph on his laptop as the ZL1 hurtles around the Nordschleife. It’s the record run being set by ride-and-handling engineer Drew Cattell rather than some hired-gun hotshoe. It’s in the pitside conversations revealing that nearly the entire development team has been driving ZL1s around Michigan on winter Pirellis, ripping off roostertails of snow. The Camaro ZL1 is hard to see out of, but weirdly, it’s not difficult to see beyond the sheetmetal. For $65,830, it doesn’t just come with a Corvette engine. It’s also got heart.

11.3 sec @ 124.7 mph

—BRENDAN MCALEER

TOP SPEED

185 mph*

BRAKING, 60–0 MPH

107 ft**

SKIDPAD, 300-FOOT

1.04 g

* estimated ** mfr claim

JESSICA WALKER/CHE VROLE T

and the 10-speed jumps from eight to third in an instant, then holds the gear through a tight turn, only upshifting as the road straightens. All hail Hydra-Matic. You’ll never want to use the paddle shifters, which, in any event, feel cheap. Having stormed the mountain, we arrive at Willow Springs raceway and exchange the automatic ZL1 for one equipped with a six-speed Tremec manual. It slots into first gear with much the same satisfaction as slicing through a porterhouse steak with a serrated knife large enough for medieval combat. Around high-speed Willow Springs, the ZL1 is both riotous and inviting. Snapping off a rev-matched fifth-to-third downshift under braking at the end of the front straight is gratifying and easy thanks to great pedal placement. The engine is flexible enough to stay in third gear for most corners and lets you just focus on the racing line. However, if the manual ZL1 is fulfilling, the 10-speed astounds. As on the street, it seemingly never selects the wrong gear, banging hard through shifts. Regardless of transmission choice, the ZL1 feels entirely comfortable on a track. With the Performance Traction Management (familiar from the Corvette) in a more aggressive setting, the car rotates under trail braking. Ducting inside the front fascia and front wheelhouse cools the big iron-disc brakes, which suffer little fade under repeated heavy braking. Eleven heat exchangers take care of the monstrous powertrain. The ZL1 laps Big Willow again and again, planted, composed, and eager. Consider this to be the Camaro’s Porsche 911 Turbo or Nissan GT-R moment. Those two far more expensive apex predators are perhaps faster overall, but the ZL1 The LT4 is familiar matches their ability to master all arenas. from the Corvette Z06 but loses the And yet, with the Camaro, there’s somedry-sump oiling system. thing that the GT-R didn’t really get until


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THE FIRST DRIVE | 2017 BMW 5-SERIES

NEW FIVE, SAME JIVE EDGING EVEN CLOSER TO THE SEVEN.

E NEED TO TALK ABOUT the steering-wheel heater could drive past a bus stop in a 15-year-old Boxster and someone control on the 5-series. It used to be hidden on the would immortalize you on Instagram. The new 5-series is such column. Now it’s as prominent as the warts on late a careful evolution of the conservative car it replaces, design rocker Lemmy’s chops, enjoying the center spoke chief Adrian van Hooydonk’s team must have worn radiation all to itself. What’s it doing there? Simple expediency? A nod suits as they worked on the clays, just in case any dangerously to customer feedback? Or is it a tacit admission of something interesting ideas leaked out during the design process. (The else: that the Five’s newfound refinement has dulled the thrill daring, flame-surfaced 5-series of two generations ago looks of driving such that augmented palm moistening was required? better with every passing year.) Absolutely not, says BMW, which claims the new 5-series The interior also plays it safe, a new-generation iDrive system (code-named G30, for BMW geeks) is far sportier being the highlight. It looks like the one from the than the previous car. You wouldn’t know from 3-series, but this one can be operated through a BMW 540i looking at it. Visually, it’s a shrunken 7-series touchscreen, voice commands, and even gestures, with a sprinkle of 3-series: blandly handsome, but in addition to the traditional control wheel. That’s price $57,455 powertrain 3.0-liter don’t be surprised if your automobile-ambivalent enough tech to one-up its archrival, the Mercedes turbocharged i-6, neighbor mistakes it for last year’s model. Sure, E-class. But the Benz, with its optional dual335 hp, 332 lb-ft; rwd, we got some stares on the streets of shabby-chic screen setup, sweeping dash, and elegant round 8-speed automatic weight 3850 lb Lisbon, but expensive cars are so rare there, you air vents, outclasses the BMW.

W

0–60 mph 4.9 sec top speed 130 mph on sale now


The last 5-series morphed from being a large version of BMW’s 3-series into a small version of its Seven. That philosophical shift continues here. Like the Seven, the Five can steer itself briefly with its newly advanced semiautonomous cruise mode. It can even make emergency lane changes. And the 540i certainly has the ambience of a big luxury sedan. Road noise and surface imperfections go virtually unnoticed. Despite all that cushiness, this is not a boring sedan. Our hunch is it’s the best-handling car in its class. Greater use of aluminum, magnesium, and high-strength steel means it’s nearly 140 pounds lighter than the old model (according to BMW estimates). Steering response is improved, especially in cars fitted with new rear-wheel steering. The 540i, whose badge signified a 4.0-liter V-8 once upon a time, these days packs a 3.0-liter turbo six. It rips through eight gears on the way to 60 mph in a claimed 4.9 seconds, 4.7 in all-wheeldrive guise. We only wish the 5-series were as fun to drive slowly as it is when you go fast. The steering is disconcertingly overlight at low speeds and feels slightly unnatural on rear-steer cars. The six sounds crisp and purposeful but also distant— like it’s fitted to the car ahead of you. It’s hard to rationalize the need for more performance, but if you want it anyway, there will

be an M550i with a 456-hp twin-turbo V-8, plus the inevitable M5. Less adventurous types can spec out the 530i with a turbo four. A plug-in hybrid has been confirmed for the U.S. market and may be joined by a diesel six. BMW has sold almost 8 million 5-series since 1972 and says it’s the model people most associate with the brand. If you’re going to get a car wrong, this isn’t the one. BMW hasn’t got it wrong. The extra refinement is astounding, and the chassis is still better than anyone else’s. But we’re ready for another leap in design, BMW. —CHRIS CHILTON And not just the steering wheel.

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GREASE

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GEAR

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KNOW-HOW

356 SPECIALIST S H O P S W E LOV E, PAG E 92

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S H O P S W E L OV E

C A LIFO R NIA C A LLIN G THE PORSCHE REPAIR GUY AT THE BEACH.

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PHOTOGR APHY BY ANDREW TRAHAN


BY M I C H A E L J O R DA N

ack in the 1950s, when the 356 was new, the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) was the ultimate Porsche Experience Center—the name now given to the company’s embassy-racetrack outposts in Atlanta and L.A. The California coast echoed with the clatter of the 356’s air-cooled flat-four engine. In every little coastal town from Los Angeles to San Diego, there was a Porsche repair guy. Some were master mechanics that Porsche sent to America in the 1950s; others just learned by doing. They were missionaries, bringing sports-car culture to a country where transportation was more important than driving. Today there are more Porsches on PCH than ever, but there are far fewer independent mechanics at the beach preaching the Porsche gospel. In fact, Jack Staggs might be among the last. Staggs sits at his wooden workbench in a primitive twobay shop not far from PCH in San Clemente, California. It’s the same shop where he has done business since 1973. He specializes in the 356, and he does car repair in the classic way: one man, one toolbox, one car. He can, in that manner, do just about anything. “Depending on what you want, I can repair your car, or I can really fix your car, or I can make your car like it was when it was new,” Staggs says. As a teenager in the late 1960s, Staggs belonged to the era when hundreds of thousands of VW Beetles were sold in the U.S. each year, and every kid learned to work on these aircooled runabouts from the pages of John Muir’s legendary, hand-lettered, hand-illustrated handbook, How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step-byStep Procedures for the Compleat Idiot. Staggs worked on Beetles in the parking lot of his high school in San Clemente, then moved on to Porsches by visiting the shops of the best Porsche mechanics and asking questions for hours. Staggs’s shop probably looks like your own garage, so it’s easy to miss what’s special here. There are no frenetic service techs, no rollaway toolboxes with gleaming Snap-on wrenches, and no thicket of cars perched atop hydraulic lifts. Instead, Staggs and his longtime assistant, Kerry Sink, have a couple of 356s on a plain cement floor and a mishmash of tools acquired over several decades. Around them is a cave of wonders, a treasure trove of specialty parts for the 356, collected from swap meets over the years, along with a few Staggs designed himself, like a new

B

hardened-steel peg for the 356’s worm-and-peg steering box. It’s relatively easy for anyone to find original and reproduction parts online for the 356 these days, but Staggs says they often don’t fit, physically or aesthetically. “We try to find parts to fit the vibe the car’s got going on. Let’s say a guy has a not-perfect 356. At least he’s got a 356. That’s cool. Its cigarette lighter is missing. Do I go into a drawer and pull out a [new] part, still in a bag? No. Then the lighter’s the nicest part of his car.” Staggs’s processes, too, are tailored to the idiosyncrasies of a car built largely by hand that’s long past its service life. For instance, a few decades ago, he noticed 356s were returning to the shop with prematurely worn front suspensions. He realized the factory-original tool he’d been using was no longer applicable, so he invented his own method. “I see the cars 10, 15 years later, and they’re great.” The 356 is not a very complicated car, yet Staggs argues that makes working on them properly all the more important. “It does seem simple, but the smallest things make the biggest difference in simplicity.” It’s like a Crescent wrench, he says. A Crescent wrench has only two moving parts, a jaw that slides and the little Jack Staggs thumbwheel. But if it’s not Vintage Auto Repair san clemente, california built just right, the wrench won’t stay tied to the bolt. It opened 1973 | staff 2 specialty porsche 356 comes loose. “That’s because

A humble yet heavenly temple for Porsche 356 worship, Staggs’s SoCal shop is a remnant of bygone times and techniques.

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Clockwise from top: A 356 gearset on the workbench; Jack Staggs as “Lemmy”; reference books, spare parts, and grime commingle; Kerry Sink bolts on a transmission cap after installing a gearset.

the simple design wasn’t executed properly.” One service Staggs doesn’t perform is concours-level restoration. “We’re more interested in people driving their cars,” he says. Neither does he want much to do with newer Porsches. “Fancy 911 Turbos or whatever—I have actually no interest in those things. Can you even get it out to nine-tenths of its ability, ever? With a 356, there’s no power steering, no power brakes. And you can hear the engine and you’re working the clutch, heel-and-toeing. It doesn’t get any better than that.” He does his bit to stoke grassroots interest in the car with an annual 356th Day celebration in December. It’s a must-see event with a barbecue, a band playing in the service bays, and dozens of 356s that come and go during the day. Of course, Staggs keeps many of those cars alive, including his own ’64 coupe, bought 30 years ago without an engine for $750. Porsches have become fearsomely fast and dauntingly complex. Even the older cars increasingly find their way to

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hypermodern, premium-rate facilities, like the Porsche Classic Partner shops. The intimate, unpretentious way Staggs works on 356s shows us what has been lost along the way. When your Porsche mechanic wears San Clemente–made, Rainbow-brand flip-flop sandals and can be seen surfing a few waves down at Lower Trestles before coming into work, the experience of owning a sports car becomes more personal and feels like being part of a club. Jack Staggs knows everything about your car, treats it as if it is unique, and invites you into a community of enthusiasm. This is what we all want, whether our sports car makes 59 hp or 580. ■


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D R I V E R’S E D

S LOW LE A R NE R S

I

t seems obvious: If you want to drive fast, get a fast car. However, this intuition, which has fueled decades-long horsepower wars (and, frankly, sold many copies of this magazine), is flawed. The best way to learn to drive fast is to

find a slow car. “If somebody is thinking about racing, they must start in a low-horsepower car,” says Divina Galica, a professional racer and longtime Skip Barber instructor. “Momentum” cars, like Miatas or E30 BMW 3-series, don’t have enough power to cover up bad driving. Lower lap times come from faster corner entries and smoother exits, rather than gunning it on straightaways. The slower the car, the more you’ll be able to focus on technique. “Formula Fords are great,” adds Galica. “The old ones had just over 100 hp, and you had to use every ounce of speed to produce a fast lap.” Slow cars cost less to run, too, because they consume brake pads, rotors, and tires at a modest rate, which eases the strain on your wallet as you learn. Then there’s safety. Despite the computing power dedicated to nannying drivers—a Corvette’s ECU could easily land the Apollo 11 safely—500-hp cars are more likely to get in trouble with Newton’s laws. A Miata might lack the visceral thrill of a Porsche 911, but it also doesn’t bite as hard when you upset it in the midcorner, either. “I see drivers in cars with advanced tech and high limits, but many of them can’t use the car’s capabilities,” says Mike

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McGovern, chief instructor at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. “The only way to learn is to push their cars harder—but then the risks go up hugely.” So, time to trade in the Corvette Z06 for a Focus ST? Of course not. Buy, borrow, or steal a slower car for those first track days (plenty of them come cheap). Failing that, there are ways to use powerful cars for learning, not speed. “Look at buying a set of tires that aren’t ultrahigh performance,” advises writer and driving coach Ross Bentley, whose Speed Secrets books are instructional bibles for highperformance driving. “You’ll learn more about your car driving it that way.” There are also safe places to try out powerful cars. McGovern suggests attending a race school with fast cars in a controlled and forgiving environment. For example, Bondurant runs students through Challengers, Chargers, and Vipers. A mistake at racing school ends with a bruised ego, whereas an off at Road America’s infamous Kink could send your BMW M4 into the tree-lined Armco at triple-digit speed. Ultimately, fast driving depends on technique, not machine. The best drivers execute fundamental skills better than their competitors with consistency and precision. Many prospective race drivers miss this, Bentley says. They’re trying to go too fast, too soon. There are many paths up the mountain of speed, but there are no shortcuts. Master the basics, then add speed. —KYLE KINARD No other approach will do.

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DISSECTED

WHE E L O F FO R TU NE HOW AN ACCIDENT LED TO NASCAR’S MOST WIDELY USED STEERING WHEEL.

eteran racing driver Max Papis crashed a stock car during testing in 2004, fracturing his wrist. Surveying the wreckage, he saw a problem and an opportunity. The nose of his car was crushed, its steering column collapsed, but the steering wheel was intact. His wrist absorbed the impact. “Nobody [in stock-car racing] looked at the wheel as a safety device before,” Papis says. So he did. A conventional stock-car steering wheel (left) is rigid and crude, just a steel tube bent into a circle, welded to the spokes, and dipped in a vat of rubber for grip. Papis’s wheel (right) uses a channeled steel rim. The spokes are flared inside the channel and secured at precise angles with two rivets, rather than welds. The result: a wheel that deforms to absorb crash forces instead of transferring them to your wrists. Drivers have been quick to catch on. Max Papis Innovations wheels are now used on most of the NASCAR starting grid. “One reason I’m 47 and still in one piece,” says Papis, “is that I pay attention to the little details that keep me safe.”

Road & Track® (ISSN 0035-7189), (USPS 570-670) VOL. 68, NO. 7, March/April 2017, is published monthly, with combined issues in December/January and March/April, 10 times per year, by Hearst Communications, Inc., 300 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019, U.S.A. Steven R. Swartz, President & Chief Executive Officer; William R. Hearst III, Chairman; Frank A. Bennack, Jr., Executive Vice Chairman; Catherine A. Bostron, Secretary. Hearst Magazines Division: David Carey, President; John A. Rohan, Jr., Senior Vice President, Finance. © 2017 by Hearst Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. Trademarks: Road & Track is registered trademark of Hearst Communications, Inc. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY, and additional mailing offices. Editorial and Advertising Offices: 1350 Eisenhower Place, Ann Arbor, MI 48108. Subscription Prices: United States and possessions: $13.00 for one year; Canada, add $10.00; all other countries, add $28.00. Subscription Services: Road & Track will, upon receipt of a complete subscription order, undertake fulfillment of that order so as to provide the first copy for delivery by the Postal Service or alternate carrier within 4–6 weeks. Mailing Lists: From time to time, we make our subscriber list available to companies who sell goods and services by mail that we believe would interest our readers. If you would rather not receive such offers by postal mail, please send your current mailing label or an exact copy to Mail Preference Service, P.O. Box 37870, Boone, IA 50037. You can also visit preferences.hearstmags.com to manage your preferences and opt out of receiving marketing offers by e-mail. Road & Track assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material. None will be returned unless accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope. Permissions: Material in this publication may not be reproduced in any form without permission. Back Issues: Back issues are available for purchase in digital format only from your app store of choice. Reprints: For information or reprints and eprints, please contact Brian Kolb at Wright’s Media, 877-652-5295 or bkolb@wrightsmedia.com. POSTMASTER: Send all UAA to CFS. (See DMM 507.1.5.2); NON-POSTAL AND MILITARY FACILITIES: Send address corrections to Road & Track, P.O. Box 37870, Boone, IA 50037. Printed in the U.S.A. CANADIAN IDENTIFICATION STATEMENT: Canada Post International Publications mail product (Canadian distribution) sales agreement no. 40012499. Canadian Registration Number 126018209RT0001. CUSTOMER SERVICE: Visit service.roadandtrack.com or write to Customer Service Dept., Road & Track, P.O. Box 37870, Boone, IA 50037 for inquiries/requests, changes of mailing and email addresses, subscription orders, payments, etc.

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Winter of Discontent

THE DETROIT AUTO SHOW LEFT OUR INDUSTRY VETERAN COLD.

BY BOB LUTZ

I remember, early in my career, the excitement of the Detroit auto show. The anticipation, the adrenaline, wondering who would unveil what. But like Christmas, the Detroit show is starting to feel routine and predictable.

Bob Lutz has been The Man at several car companies. Ask him about cars, the auto industry, or life in general.

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SUBMIT QUESTIONS TO BOB AT ASKBOB@ROADANDTR ACK .COM OR VIA FACEBOOK

MARC URBANO

Is it just me? Jaded? Too old to get it? There was a certain flatness, a mediocrity about this year’s show. Maybe it’s because all the hot autonomous and connected stuff was downstairs, as Detroit tries to counterpunch Las Vegas’s CES, which is supposedly a consumer electronics show but is attracting more and more major car introductions. It might be another deplorable sign that we are at a point of convergence: Are these cars with onboard computing power, or are they computers with four wheels and an engine thrown in? In Detroit, where were the vehicles that are the objects of our careers, our dreams, and our desires? Alas, there wasn’t much of that. Several brands stayed away entirely. The show floor was sparse enough that GAC, a Chinese producer, scored a prominent stand, featuring four vehicles poised to invade the United States. Many an inland Chinese peasant may aspire to a GAC, but I believe Americans will give it a pass. Concept cars were scarce. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles showed what might be symbolic of the show: a nonautomotive shape

that looked like a major appliance (the Chrysler Portal concept, fresh in from CES). Audi unveiled its new full-size crossover concept, the Q8, in a hideous bright blue. The design is unremarkable, but Audi has discovered a new multitheme front end, which I’ll let others judge for themselves. Mercedes showed a crossover concept with a blue-LED-lit grille, putting garish accent on a boring shape. Volkswagen had yet another “historic VW Bus” concept, the I.D. Buzz (electric, of course), and this time they got it right. There were few dramatic debuts of production cars, and much of what was revealed was in the crossover category. GMC updated the Terrain, with a slick new body and a soon-to-becliché “floating” C-pillar. The new Chevrolet Traverse, now posing as a slightly smaller Tahoe, is not a major step aesthetically, but it will be hugely successful. Ford did not unveil the longawaited new Expedition and Lincoln Navigator, reportedly out of fear of embarrassing CEO Mark Fields, who had just delivered a speech at CES on the future of connected mobility. Volvo brought a really cool new wagon, the V90, which will sink into irrelevance, like all wagons in the U.S. The new, big Lexus LS sedan is daring, but none of its lines and masses are quite in the places they should be—and that absolutely huge Darth Vader grille belongs nowhere at all. It makes for a sales-proof Lexus sedan. (Akio Toyoda must love that front end, because I don’t think anyone else does.) The new Camry is a stylistic hodgepodge, marking one more negative milestone in Toyota design. (Mind you, these are all great cars, but so what? Every car out there is a great car; why saddle yourself with ugly?) There was one new car that gladdened the hearts of enthusiasts. The Stinger was a totally unexpected rear-drive mid-size sedan from Kia that has superb proportions and generally manages to look pleasingly Teutonic. In summary, lots of walking, lots of connectivity, not much new for the enthusiast. Maybe next year we’ll see the long-rumored mid-engine Corvette. That would give me that boyhood preChristmas thrill again. ■


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THE FIRST- EVER MAZDA MX-5 MIATA RF This is not just another hardtop. It’s a breakthrough in engineering. It’s years of design magic. An alluring work of art that moves with grace and precision. But why go to such lengths to create a retractable hardtop that makes being one with the car, the wind and the sky possible? Because Driving Matters.

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Road Track - March/April 2017