Another vacation in America, with one of the two weeks spent in Arizona, so it should surprise no-one who has been following these reviews for some time to see that among the various activities of the sojourn was a visit to the Penske showroom complex just off the Scottsdale Road in the north east of the greater Phoenix area. With the racing museum at its centre, Penske, one of the largest automotive dealer networks in the USA, surrounds it with showrooms for a variety of prestige brands, and just like any other American dealership, also has literally thousands of cars parked up in front of the showrooms and around the back. Although there are always signs of sales activity in the showrooms of those marques which sell in some quantity, visitors are also very welcome. In some, you can simply walk in, look around and take photos, whereas in others, it is likely that you will be approached by a Sales Exec, who will enquire as to whether they can help, and then many will either linger for a chat or offer up a welcome bottle of chilled water leaving the photographer to get on with recording the cars on show. Over the years I’ve seen a number of real estate changes, with a completed new free-standing building for Audi and a completely rebuilt area for BMW, as well as more subtle changes to keep things fresh, and of course the cars change very frequently. All bar the most exclusive brands carry significant stock, so that a buyer really could come in, select the spec they want and drive it out that day, which is what Americans expect to be able to do. All the marques here have a servicing facility, too, so there are often examples from the back catalogue to be found if you head to the parking areas behind the showrooms, adding greater variety to the list of cars that you will see. Wandering out the whole lot takes several hours, and results in a large number of photos, as this report will evidence.
Alphabetically, first of the showrooms is for Acura, the premium brand linked to Honda, but whose cars look very different from those of the parent company. It’s actually one of the last of the showrooms that you come across, as it is situated almost at the end of the line, with just Volkswagen beyond it, and it is the one that in recent years I have generally not entered. It’s not very large, and it always seems particularly quiet, which means that you get approached by an eager salesman as soon as you walk in the door. Indeed, in recent times, They clearly keep a watchful eye on those lingering outside, or even those who just pass through, as I have nearly always been approached just when looking at the cars outside. When the models offered at their gawkiest, a few years ago, as Acura threw away potential sales with the odd styling touches that compounded woes derived from some rather indifferent product offerings, it was hard to come across as at all enthusiastic about their products at all. And although the styling has become less controversial in the past couple of years, the models remain somewhat uninspired, to my eyes. I did not enter the showroom this time, either, but there were examples of most of the range to see outside. Of these, the latest model is the third generation RDX. Acura debuted it in prototype form at the 2018 North American International Auto Show. In production guise, it arrived at dealerships across North America on June 1, 2018 as a 2019 model. Along with the announcement of the 2019 RDX, Acura also announced that their Type-S performance series will return and bring a turbocharged V6 engine which might potentially find its way to the new RDX. From day one, there is an A-Spec trim offered which adds aggressive body modifications, metal paddle shifters, larger rims, optional red leather interior with black alcantara inserts, and a stiffer suspension setup with no additional power. It certainly looks a little more distinctive than the previous generation car and the reviews have suggested it is pretty decent to drive. More indication, perhaps, that Acura is finally rediscovering some of its mojo?
Crossovers are the staple of the Acura range, and so it was no surprise find plenty of examples both of the preceding generation RDX and the slightly larger MDX here.
There are three saloons in the Acura range: the ILX, based on the underpinnings of the previous generation Civic: the TLX, a ear wheel drive car about the size of a Honda Accord, which takes aim at the BMW 3 series class and in the view of most, scores a narrow miss: and the luxury RLX, which sells in very small numbers indeed, bot because it is a particularly poor product, but more because it lacks any overwhelming advantage over a long list of competitors. The first two of these were well represented here.
Lined up outside in some quantity were a number of examples of the DB11. This car has been on sale in the US for a couple of years now, and clearly it has found its niche.
Also here was the more recently released Vantage, which only went on sale in America earlier this year.
The Aston Martin showroom is more or less rectangular in shape, with space for two lines of cars from front to back, which means that there is room for one example of most of the range, and that was the case on this occasion. Seen here were the latest Vantage model, the DB11 in both coupe guise and the more recently released Volante, the soon to be replaced Vanquish Volante and the four seater Rapide.
In the service area around the back, I came across a DB7. With the DB7, produced from September 1994 to December 2004, Aston Martin made more cars from a single model than all Astons previously made, with over 7000 built. Known internally as the NPX project, the DB7 was made mostly with resources from Jaguar and had the financial backing of the Ford Motor Company, owner of Aston Martin from 1988 to 2007. The DB7’s platform was an evolution of the Jaguar XJS’s, though with many changes. The styling started life as the still-born Jaguar F type (XJ41 – coupe / XJ42 – convertible) designed by Keith Helfet. Ford cancelled this car and the general design was grafted onto an XJS platform. The styling received modest changes by Ian Callum so that it looked like an Aston Martin. The first generation Jaguar XK-8 also uses an evolution of the XJ-S/DB7 platform and the cars share a family resemblance, though the Aston Martin was significantly more expensive and rare. The prototype was complete by November 1992, and debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in March, 1993, with the car positioned as an “entry-level” model below the hand-built V8 Virage introduced a few years earlier. With production of the Virage (soon rechristened “V8” following Vantage styling revisions) continuing at Newport Pagnell, a new factory was acquired at Bloxham, Oxfordshire that had previously been used to produce the Jaguar XJ220, where every DB7 would be built throughout its production run. The DB7 and its relatives were the only Aston Martins produced in Bloxham and the only ones with a steel unit construction inherited from Jaguar . Aston Martin had traditionally used aluminium for the bodies of their cars, and models introduced after the DB7 use aluminium for the chassis as well as for many major body parts. The convertible Volante version was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in 1996. Both versions have a supercharged straight-six engine that produced 335 bhp and 361 lb·ft of torque. The Works Service provided a special Driving Dynamics package, which greatly enhanced performance and handling for drivers who wanted more than what the standard configuration offered. In 1999, the more powerful DB7 V12 Vantage was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show. Its 5.9 litre, 48-valve, V12 engine produced 420 bhp and 400 lb·ft of torque. It has a compression ratio of 10.3:1. Transmissions were available with either a TREMEC T-56 six speed manual or a ZF 5HP30 five speed automatic gearbox. Aston Martin claimed it had a top speed of either 186 mph with the manual gearbox or 165 mph with the automatic gearbox, and would accelerate from 0–60 mph in 4.9 seconds. It is 4,692 mm long, 1,830 mm (72.0 in) wide, 1,243 mm (48.9 in) high, with a weight of 1,800 kg (3,968.3 lb). After the launch of the Vantage, sales of the supercharged straight-6 engine DB7 had reduced considerably and so production was ended by mid-1999. In 2002, a new variant was launched, named V12 GT or V12 GTA when equipped with an automatic transmission. It was essentially an improved version of the Vantage, its V12 engine producing 435 bhp and 410 lb·ft of torque for the manual GT, although the automatic GTA retained the 420 bhp and 400 lb·ft of torque of the standard DB7 Vantage. Additionally, the GT and GTA chassis had substantially updated suspension from the DB7 Vantage models. Aesthetically, compared to the Vantage it has a mesh front grille, vents in the bonnet, a boot spoiler, an aluminium gear lever, optional carbon fibre trim and new wheels. It also has 14.0 in front and 13.0 in rear vented disc brakes made by Brembo. When being tested by Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear in 2003, he demonstrated the car’s ability to pull away in fourth gear and continue until it hit the rev limiter: the speedometer indicated 135 mph. Production of the GT and GTA was extremely limited, as only 190 GT’s and 112 GTA’s were produced worldwide with 17 of them shipped to the US market, for a total of 302 cars.
A couple of years ago, a new and larger Audi showroom was built, physically separate from the rest of the complex, as the previous one could only house a few cars, and whilst Audi’s US range is not quite as extensive as the European one, with some of the models like the A1 and Avant cars denied to American buyers, more space was clearly felt to be desirable. The new building and site means that there is also more room for the lines of new and pre-owned cars to be presented as well. Like most brands these days, there is a heavy focus on the SUV/Crossover models, and there were lines of each of the three ranges that Audi offers to Americans here, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. The last of these is a strong seller in America, where its size is seen as a virtue rather than a challenge, but it is the middle of the three which is commercially the most important of the lot, as the Q5 is Audi’s best selling car in this market. The second generation reached American soil for the 2018 model year.
There were plenty of examples of the A badged models, too. Entry point to the US range is the A3, though it is somewhat less extensive than we see in Europe. The three door hatch is not offered at all, and the five door only in eTron guise, with the focus being on the 4 door saloon, and the cabriolet. A3 and S3 models were here.
Similarly, the A4 range is less extensive, as the Avant version is not sold here and there are fewer engine options on offer. The AllRoad is offered, though, for those looking for something with more utility than the regular saloon model.
Unlike the first generation, a complete range of the A5 bodystyles has been made available to US buyers, with the Sportback now sold here as well as the Coupe and Cabrio, and indeed the RS5 Sportback was made available to American buyers before Europeans could get their hands on one. There were A5 and RS5 cars on show.
And at the top of the range, there were the soon to be replaced A6 and A7 as well as the A8 model which has already been replaced in Europe, but which has yet to arrive in America.
Most dramatic product in the Audi lineup remains the R8 and there were, of course, examples of this here, as this remains an important market for this every-day supercar.
In the service area I came across a couple of rather older Audi models, a C5 generation Audi A6 from early in the twentyfirst century and its smaller brother the B6 generation A4 Saloon.
Like most of the showrooms, the Bentley one only houses a few cars, but there are always plenty more to be seen outside. Biggest seller in the US these days, unsurprisingly, is the Bentayga and the couple of these that were housed indoors were joined by a whole line of them outside.
As well as the latest Speed version of the Mulsanne there were plenty of the Continental GT, with the latest generation now much in evidence.
Representing an older generation were a couple of examples of the Arnage, a twin of the Rolls-Royce-branded sibling, the Silver Seraph, and which was introduced in the Spring of 1998, the first entirely new designs for the two marques since 1980. This is a large car: over 5.4 metres (212 in) long, 1.9 metres (75 in) wide, and has a kerb weight of more than 2.5 metric tonnes. For a brief period it was the most powerful and fastest four-door saloon on the market. In a complete switch from tradition, whilst these cars had bodies built at the Crewe factory, the then owner, Vickers, decided that the car would be powered by engines built elsewhere. A number of potential engines were examined, including the GM Premium V engine, and a Mercedes-Benz V8 engine, before, in late 1994, Vickers selected a pair of BMW power plants. It was decided that the Rolls-Royce model would use BMW’s naturally aspirated V12 engine while the more-sporting Bentley model would use a special twin-turbo version of the 4.4-litre BMW V8, which was developed by Vickers subsidiary, Cosworth Engineering. On its introduction in the spring of 1998, the Arnage was available as a single model with the this 4,398cc twin turbo developing some 354 PS (349 bhp) and 420 lb·ft. During the takeover battle in 1998 between BMW and Volkswagen Group for ownership of Rolls Royce and Bentley Motors, BMW had threatened to stop supply of their engines if Volkswagen Group won. While the threat was later withdrawn in conjunction with BMW acquiring the right to manufacture the Rolls Royce marque at a new location, it was clear that Volkswagen could not accept the business and reputation risks associated with having their rival as a long-term business partner. Furthermore, customers were nervous about engine and part availability (of which there turned out to be no issue) and orders for new cars dropped precipitously. Volkswagen’s response was to prepare the old pushrod 6.75-litre 16-valve engine from the Turbo R for the Arnage, designed for the lighter and smaller BMW 32-valve V8 unit. Coupled with an outdated 4-speed automatic, the engine was extremely thirsty, and would not meet government-imposed emissions standards without hasty modifications. The revised version of the car was launched as the Arnage Red Label in October 1999. At the same time, but without the fanfare, Bentley made several minor modifications to the original BMW engined cars, and designated them as the “Arnage Green Label” for the 2000 model year. As part of the modification process, both Red and Green Label cars received stiffer body shells and larger wheels and brakes. The stiffer body shell was needed because of the extra weight of the British engine. The larger brakes were needed for the same reason. Despite the larger brakes, braking performance worsened with the extra weight of the 6.75 engine. The braking performance of the ’99 Green Label from 70–0 was 172 feet while the later Arnage T’s performance was 182 feet from the same speed. The PR department at Bentley pointed to customer demand as the driving force behind the reversion to the old two valve per cylinder 6.75-litre unit for the Red Label. This explanation appears to have been acceptable to all but a few of the motoring press who welcomed the return of the old unit after criticising the BMW motor as at best insipid and, at worst, underpowered. In reality, the outgoing BMW-powered Arnage was technically more modern, considerably more fuel efficient, and had 32 valves with double overhead camshafts, twin-turbo and Bosch engine management technology – as opposed to 16-valve, single turbo and a pushrod motor with less advanced engine management. The Red Label’s increase in motive power shaved less than a second of the zero to 60 mph time. However, the BMW twin turbo unit remained noticeably more agile and responsive from a driver’s perspective, due to its more responsive DOHC engine, better weight balance(maintaining a 51.1/48.9 weight distribution) and almost 600 lb (270 kg) lower curb weight. Ultimately the Green Label was more reliable and significantly less expensive to service in the long term. The key limiting factor of the BMW engine’s output was the ZF 5HP30 transmission which was not rated to handle more than the 413 lb·ft torque that the twin turbo engine was tuned to produce. In total only seven Arnage Green Label units were built, all of which were left-hand-drive versions. There was a final series of vehicles built in 2000 with the 4.4-litre BMW engine designated the Arnage Birkin, of which 52 units were produced and are distinguishable by their three-dial as opposed to five-dial instrument centre dashboard configuration. A long-wheelbase version of the Red Label was launched at the North American International Auto Show in 2001. The Green Label ended production in 2000. The Red Label models were replaced in 2002. In 2001, the Arnage RL, a long-wheelbase model, 9.8 in longer than the Arnage, was launched, the extra length added to the car at its rear doors and its C-pillar. With the standard Arnage model, the rear wheel wells butt up against the rear door frames, but with the RL they are a few inches further back. The overall effect is a larger rear area inside the car. Available only as a bespoke “Mulliner” model, each RL was customised to the desires of the buyer. The RL, however, was also the first of a new series of Arnages which would finally cure the Bentley Arnage of the reliability and performance deficiencies experienced following its forced deprivation of the modern BMW engines it was designed to use. The RL would also present a credible challenge to BMW’s attempts to revive the Rolls-Royce brand with its planned new model, the Phantom. The RL’s introduction saw the introduction of an entirely reworked version of the 6.75-litre V8 engine. Where the engine used in the Red Label was a quickly and less-than-completely-satisfactorily modified version of the Turbo RT’s unit, the RL featured an entirely reworked version of the old 6.75-litre V8. More than half of the engine’s parts were completely new, with Bosch Motronic ME7.1.1 engine management replacing the old Zytek system, and two small Garrett T3 turbochargers replacing the single large T4. This new engine developed 405 PS (399 bhp) and 616 lb·ft, and was said to be capable of meeting all future emissions requirements. Finally, the Arnage was powered by a modern twin-turbo unit with state-of-the-art electronic management system similar to the originally Cosworth-BMW unit developed for the Arnage in 1998. Perhaps ironically, what was essentially a new engine developed by Volkswagen Group engineers for the RL in 2001, was now producing the same sort of power as the original BMW V8 4.4 engine used in the first Arnage in 1998. Unfortunately, the development and testing of the revisions to the new engine were rushed by VW to meet regulatory requirements. As a result, the camshafts are prone to failure requiring extensive repair work to remedy In 2002, Bentley updated the Red Label as the series two Arnage R. This model was launched to contrast the Arnage T, which was developed to be more sporting. The Arnage R features two Garrett T3 turbochargers, as with the RL.The Arnage T, also from 2002, was claimed to be the most powerful roadgoing Bentley at its launch at the Detroit Motor Show. As with the Arnage R, there were twin-turbochargers, but tuned to develop 465 PS (459 bhp) and 645 lbf·ft. The Arnage T’s 0–60 mph time is 5.5 seconds; a top speed of 170 mph was claimed. The Arnage range was facelifted in 2005, with a front end resembling that of the new Continental GT. Production of the Arnage ceased in 2009.
The BMW showroom was completely rebuilt a few years ago, with more space created for cars to be shown in it, and a second floor added where some of the more special M cars can be seen. Although a few of the BMW models offered to Europe do not find their way to America, such as the 1 series hatches, most do, and so with an extensive range of cars on the market, only a subset can be presented here. As with Audi, there is more and more of a focus on the Crossover/SUV vehicles, so these were much in evidence, with the X1, X2, X3 and X5 particularly evident.
The electric models are always very prominent here, too, with a fleet of the i3 maintained as service loaners, as well as the one in the showroom. It was joined by the still rather futuristic looking i8.
“Regular” models were also present, of course, with an M240i Convertible, the soon to be superceded 3 Series Saloon joined by the 4 Series in Gran Coupe and Coupe formats, the recently released 5 Series and the larger 7 Series.
Among the M cars I spotted were an M2, an M4 and an M5 Competition.
Parked up around the back of the showroom was a Z8. Originally presented as a concept, the Z07, a styling exercise intended to evoke and celebrate the 1956-’59 BMW 507 and to celebrate the millennium change, the car was a sensation at the ’97 Tokyo Auto Show and its overwhelming popularity spurred BMW’s decision to produce a limited production model. Fortunately, the Z07 had been designed with production in mind. As a result, practical and regulatory considerations necessitated very few changes for the production model. Nevertheless, the windscreen of the Z8 was extended upward, and a larger front airdam was fitted. Both changes were implemented to provide aerodynamic stability and a reasonably placid cockpit environment. The four-spoke steering wheel of the concept car was replaced by a three spoke design. The hardtop was changed from a double-bubble form with a tapering faring to a single dome with a truncated convex backside. The concept’s exotic driver’s side helmet fairing was eliminated to allow easy operation of the power soft top. Despite these changes, the Z8 remained extremely faithful to the concept car. The side-mounted indicators were integrated into the side vents in a fashion that rendered them invisible until activated. The vintage simplicity of the interior was preserved by hiding the modern equipment under retracting panels. Complex compound curves were preserved through the use of an expensive MIG-welded aluminium space frame. The Z8 even retained the concept’s five-spoke wheel design, albeit without the race-style centre lug nut. The Z8’s spaceframe was produced in the Dingolfing Plant and the car hand-finished in Munich. It had an all-aluminium chassis and body and used a 4941 cc 32-valve V8, that developed 400 hp and 370 lb·ft (500 N·m) torque. This engine, known internally as the S62, was built by the BMW Motorsport subsidiary and was shared with the E39 M5. The engine was located behind the front axle in order to provide the car with 50/50 weight distribution. The factory claimed a 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) time of 4.7 seconds; Although it could outperform a Ferrari 360 Modena in several respects, as with most BMW products, its top speed was electronically limited to 155 mph (250 km/h). The Z8 used neon exterior lighting, the tail lights and indicators are powered by neon tubes that offer quicker activation than standard lightbulbs and expected to last for the life of the vehicle. The Z8’s head and tail lights were done by Vipin Madhani. Every Z8 was shipped with a colour-matching metal hardtop. Unlike many accessory hardtops, which are provided for practical rather than stylistic considerations, the Z8 hardtop was designed from the outset to complement the lines of the roadster. In order to promote the Z8 to collectors and reinforce media speculation about the Z8’s “instant classic” potential, BMW promised that a 50-year stockpile of spare parts would be maintained in order to support the Z8 fleet. Due to the limited volume of Z8 production, all elements of the car were constructed or finished by hand, thereby compounding the importance of ongoing manufacturer support for the type. The price point and production process allowed BMW to offer custom options to interested buyers. A significant number of Z8s with non-standard paint and interior treatments were produced over the course of the four-year production run by BMW Individual. 5,703 Z8s were built.
The Ferrari showroom, combined with Maserati, as you might expect, is more or less in the middle of the complex, and is one of the most popular among visitors, for obvious reasons. There is space for around 8 eight cars inside, but there are always plenty more Ferrari models parked up outside and yet more that can be found by wandering around the back areas of the site. Still in situ where it had been displayed on my last visit back in March, and claiming pride of place in the showroom, was this very lovely 246 GT Dino. The Ferrari Dino was created to honour Alfredo ‘Dino’ Ferrari, Enzo Ferrari’s only legitimate son, who sadly died of muscular dystrophy in 1956. Unlike any previous road-going Ferrari, the Dino utilised a V6 engine, the Tipo 156, which Alfredo himself had helped develop and strongly advocated during his working life. Following continued motor racing success and in order to homologate Ferrari’s 1966 Formula Two campaign, a new line of mid-engined production V6 coupés with Fiat running gear went on sale in 1967 in two litre 206 GT form. However, in 1969 a larger 2.4 litre Dino was introduced, named the 246 GT or GTS in the case of the Spider. Only 3,913 definitive Dinos were built before the introduction of the completely restyled V8 engined 308 in 1973. The voluptuous bodywork of the 246, which many regard as the prettiest ever to grace a road-going Ferrari, was designed by Pininfarina and built by Scaglietti. It clothed a tubular chassis which carried wishbone independent suspension at each corner. The compact four-cam, 190bhp engine was mounted transversely above the five-speed gearbox and just ahead of the rear axle, allowing for both a comfortable cockpit and some usable boot space. Prices continue to rise.
Also in the showroom was this Mansory 488XX Siracusa. This is the second generation Mansory 488 XX Siracusa, the first being based on the Ferrari 458. So when its successor, the Ferrari 488, appeared, Mansory produced this version. Centrepiece of the complete customisation is what they call the “spectacular” body design. But the engine, wheels and interior have also all been given an impressive redesign in the best manufacturing quality. As is to be expected for a genuine Mansory, they did not spare the use of carbon. No company name on the market is so closely associated with carbon as Mansory’s. In our own autoclaves, specialists manufacture and process the ultra-light and high-strength material from motorsport and are, as a result, not dependent on suppliers. This gives absolute freedom in the scope, fit and design of the components. Best proof of this is the completely newly designed body: Besides the optics, the technology also has its highlights, for example the striking air intakes on the front spoiler optimise the flow of fresh air to the radiator. Together with the specially developed front lip this gives a better downforce and more grip when driving at the limit. New, extremely bright daytime running lights give additional passive safety. Ultra-light wheels make their own contribution to the optics and the performance. The forged light alloy wheel rims unite highest stability with exceptionally low weight. By reducing the unsprung mass the wheels react even more agilely and realise every steering command, even under the most extreme conditions. At the front the 9×20 inch rims carry 255/30 high performance tyres, while the rear axle with 325/25 tyres transfer the power of the engine onto the road. The 3.9 litre engine in the 4XX runs with an optimised motor management and a specially designed exhaust system. This combination results in a power output of 790 bhp at 8,000 rpm. Thanks to a torque of 870 Nm (561 lb ft) at 3,000 rpm the eight cylinder accelerates in just 2.9 seconds (vs the standard car’s 3.0 secs) from zero to one hundred (62 mph). The top speed of 341 km/h (standard: 330 km/h) is also higher than the standard vehicle. The chassis components fitted to the Siracusa have been specially designed for the increased power. These consist of four progressively wound lowering springs. As a result the car’s centre of gravity is 20 mm lower compared to the standard car. In the interior, Mansory have created a command and control centre which perfectly combines functionality and comfort. The steering wheel specially designed for the 4XX in a combination of leather and carbon and the redesigned central console operating panel guarantee optimum control of the vehicle. At the same time, the interior of the super sports car oozes pure luxury. All components of the interior cladding are leather coated, offset with coloured seams. 4XX logos on the seats, the foot-mats and the doorsills round off the refinement. The result is certainly striking, though whether you like it or not will be a case of personal taste.
Most of the generations of “entry level” Ferrari that have been produced since that 246 GT Dino were here, too. They have all had V8 engines, unlike the V6 of the Dino, and they have – in line with the market as a whole – got significantly larger. Each one has also been more potent than the car it replaced. Almost all have been received well when new and have remained highly desirable as they age, with prices remaining buoyant. That is certainly the case with the special versions which have been produced, and there has been one of these associated with every generation going back to the 348 of the early 90s. One of the best received of all of these was the 458 Speciale and there was a nice example of the open-topped version of this, the 458 Speciale A here.
The 458 evolved into the 488 GTB, and this model – the current best seller in the range – was represented here, too. Launched at the 2015 Geneva Show, the 488GTB followed the lead set by the California T in bringing turbocharging into a modern-day, mid-engined V8 Ferrari supercar for the first time. The engine is completely new when compared with its V8 stablemate, not only in components but also in feel and character. It is a twin-turbocharged 3902cc unit whilst that in the California T is 3855cc. In the 488 GTB, it produces 660bhp at 8000rpm and 560lb ft at 3000rpm. Both outputs are significant increases over the normally aspirated 4.5-litre V8 used in the 562 bhp 458 Italia and 597 bhp 458 Speciale, and also greater than the car’s biggest rival, the McLaren 650S. The torque figure of the 488 GTB is such that it also exceeds the 509lb ft at 6000rpm of the normally aspirated V12 used in the range-topping Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. The mighty new engine in the 488 GTB drives the rear wheels through a revised seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox derived from the 458. It features a new ‘Variable Torque Management’ system which, Ferrari says, “unleashes the engine’s massive torque smoothly and powerfully right across the rev range”. The gear ratios are also tuned to “deliver incredibly progressive acceleration when the driver floors the throttle”. The 488 GTB can crack 0-62mph in just 3.0sec, 0-124mph in 8.4sec and reach a top speed of 205mph. Its 0-62mph and 0-124mph times match the McLaren 650S’s, but the Woking car’s top speed is slightly higher at 207mph. The engine also accounts for the ‘488’ element of the car’s name, because each of the engine’s eight cylinders is 488cc in capacity when rounded up. The GTB suffix, standing for Gran Turismo Berlinetta, is a hallmark of previous mid-engined V8 Ferraris such as the 308 GTB. Not only is the new turbo engine more potent than the 4.5-litre V8 from the 458 Italia, but it is also more economical. Combined fuel economy is rated at 24.8mpg, compared with 21.2mpg in the 458 Italia, and CO2 emissions are 260g/km – a 47g/km improvement. Ferrari’s HELE engine stop-start system features on the 488 GTB. Developments on the dynamic side include a second generation of the Side Slip Angle Control system, called SSC2. This allows the driver to oversteer without intruding, unless it detects a loss of control. The SSC2 now controls the active dampers, in addition to the F1-Trac traction control system and E-Diff electronic differential. Ferrari says the result is “more precise and less invasive, providing greater longitudinal acceleration out of corners” and flatter, more stable behaviour during “complex manoeuvres”. Learnings from the Ferrari XX programme have also been incorporated into the 488 GTB, something that Ferrari says allows all drivers and not just professionals, to make the most of its electronic and vehicle control systems. It also claims the 488 GTB is “the most responsive production model there is”, with responses comparable to a track car. The 488 GTB has lapped Ferrari’s Fiorano test track in 1min 23sec – two seconds faster than the 458 Italia, and half a second quicker than the 458 Speciale. The dimensions of the 488 GTB – it is 4568mm in length, 1952mm in width and 1213mm in height – closely match the 458 Italia from which it has evolved. Its dry weight is 1370kg when equipped with lightweight options – 40kg more than the McLaren 650S. The new look, styled at the Ferrari Styling Centre, features several new aerodynamic features that improve downforce and reduce drag. Most notable is the addition of active aerodynamics at the rear through a ‘blown’ rear spoiler, where air is channelled from the base of the glass engine cover under the spoiler. This contributes to the 50% increase in downforce over the 458 Italia. Also new is a double front spoiler, an aerodynamic underbody, a large air intake at the front that references the 308 GTB, a diffuser with active flaps, new positioning for the exhaust flaps and new-look lights. The interior has been redesigned to be made more usable, including new switchgear, air vents and instrument panel. The multi-function steering wheel remains, while the infotainment system gets a new interface and graphics. The Spider followed the closed coupe model six months later, and it now outsells the closed car, just as was the case with the 458 models.
The GTC4 Lusso was the mid-cycle update to the FF model, and there were several of these cars present.
Top of the “regular” range is the 2-seater V12-engined which started out in 2012 as the F12 Berlinetta and which recently underwent a significant update emerging with the new name of 812 Superfast. It was the former which was to be seen here.
Latest addition to the range is the Portofino, a replacement for the California T. At a quick glance it looks quite similar, but study it in more detail and you will realise that it is completely new in all regards, with every panel different. Announced, as something of a surprise, in mid 2017, it has taken a long time to filter through to the showrooms, but the first of the US market cars are now here.
There were several examples of the car it replaces, the California T here, as well.
Older cars were well represented across the site, too. Presenting these in chronological order, the oldest is the 308GTB. The 308 GTB was launched at the Paris Motor Show in 1975 as a direct replacement for the Dino 246. Designed by Pininfarina with sweeping curves and aggressive lines, the 308 has gone on to become one of the most recognised Ferraris of all time. Fitted with a 2.9 litre DOHC V8 engine fed by four Webber 40DCNF Carburettors, the power output of 255bhp was sufficient to propel the 308 from 0 to 60mph in 6.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 159 mph.Tougher emissions standards in the 1980s challenged Ferrari more than many other marques. In 1980, fuel injection was adopted for the first time on the 308 GTB and GTS models, and power dropped quite noticeably fro 240 bhp to 214bhp. Two years later, at the 1982 Paris Motor Show, Ferrari launched the 308 quattrovalvole, in GTB and GTS form. The main change from the 308 GTBi/GTSi it succeeded were the 4-valves per cylinder—hence its name, which pushed output back up to 240 hp restoring some of the performance lost to the emission control equipment. The new model could be recognised by the addition of a slim louvred panel in the front lid to aid radiator exhaust air exit, power operated mirrors carrying a small enamel Ferrari badge, a redesigned radiator grille with rectangular driving lights on each side, and rectangular (in place of round) side repeaters. The interior also received some minor updates, such as a satin black three spoke steering wheel with triangular centre; cloth seat centres became available as an option to the standard full leather. Available included metallic paint, a deep front spoiler, air conditioning, wider wheels, 16-inch Speedline wheels with Pirelli P7 tyres, and a satin black roof aerofoil (standard on Japanese market models). Apart from the 32-valve cylinder heads, the V8 engine was essentially of the same design as that used in the 308 GTSi model. The gear and final drive ratios were altered to suit the revised characteristics of the four valves per cylinder engine. One other significant benefit of the QV four valve heads was the replacement of the non-QV models sodium valves which have been known to fail at the joint between the head and the stem. Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection and Marelli Digiplex electronic ignition were carried over from the GTBi/GTSi. The car was produced in this form until the launch of the 328 models in the autumn of 1985 which had larger 3.2 litre engines and a number of styling changes. 308 GTB models are becoming increasingly sought after, with prices rising steadily and quite steeply.
Launched in May 1994 as an evolution of the Ferrari 348, just about everything was changed, and improved for the F355. Design emphasis for the F355 was placed on significantly improved performance, but driveability across a wider range of speeds and in different environments such as low-speed city traffic was also addressed, as the Honda NS-X had proved that you could make a supercar that could be lived with every day. Apart from the displacement increase from 3.4 to 3.5 litres, the major difference between the V8 engine in the 348 and F355 was the introduction of a 5-valve cylinder head. This new head design allowed for better intake permeability and resulted in an engine that was considerably more powerful, producing 375 hp. The longitudinal 90° V8 engine was bored 2mm over the 348’s engine, resulting in the small increase in displacement. The F355 had a Motronic system controlling the electronic fuel injection and ignition systems, with a single spark plug per cylinder, resulting in an unusual 5 valves per cylinder configuration. This was reflected in the name, which did not follow the formula from the previous decades of engine capacity in litres followed by number of cylinders such as the 246 = 2.4 litres and 6 cylinders and the 308 of 3.0 litres and 8 cylinders. For the F355, Ferrari used engine capacity followed by the number of valves per cylinder (355 = 3.5 litres engine capacity and 5 valves per cylinder) to bring the performance advances introduced by a 5 valve per cylinder configuration into the forefront. 5. The frame was a steel monocoque with tubular steel rear sub-frame with front and rear suspensions using independent, unequal-length wishbones, coil springs over gas-filled telescopic shock absorbers with electronic control servos and anti-roll bars. The car allows selection between two damper settings, “Comfort” and “Sport”. Ferrari fitted all road-going F355 models with Pirelli tires, size 225/40ZR 18 in front and 265/40 ZR 18 in the rear. Although the F355 was equipped with power-assisted steering (intended to improve low-speed driveability relative to the outgoing 348), this could optionally be replaced with a manual steering rack setup by special order. Aerodynamic designs for the car included over 1,300 hours of wind tunnel analysis. The car incorporates a Nolder profile on the upper portion of the tail, and a fairing on the underbody that generates downforce when the car is at speed. These changes not only made the car faster but also much better to drive,m restoring Ferrari to the top of the tree among its rivals. At launch, two models were available: the coupe Berlinetta and the targa topped GTS, which was identical to the Berlinetta apart from the fact that the removable “targa-style” hard top roof could be stored behind the seats. The F355 would prove to be last in the series of mid-engined Ferraris with the Flying Buttress rear window, a lineage going back to the 1965 Dino 206 GT, unveiled at the Paris Auto Show. The Spider (convertible) version came later in the year. In 1997 the Formula One style paddle gear shift electrohydraulic manual transmission was introduced with the Ferrari 355 F1 adding £6,000 to the dealer asking price. This system promised faster gearchanges and allowed the driver to keep both hands on the steering wheel, It proved to be very popular and was the beginning of the end for the manual-transmission Ferrari. Ferrari produced 4,871 road-going Berlinetta models, of which 3,829 were 6-speed and 1,042 were F1 transmissions. The Spider proved to be the second-most popular F355 model, with a total production of 3,717 units, of which 2,664 were produced with the 6-speed transmission and another 1,053 produced with the F1 transmission. A total of 2,577 GTS models were produced, with 2,048 delivered with the 6-speed transmission and another 529 with the F1 transmission. This was the last GTS targa style model produced by Ferrari. This made a total production run of 11,273 units making the F355 the most-produced Ferrari at the time, though this sales record would be surpassed by the next generation 360 and later, the F430.
It was with the 360 Modena that sales of Ferrari models really took off, with unprecedented volumes of the car being sold. The 360 Modena was launched in 1999, named after the town of Modena, the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari. A major innovation in this all new model came from Ferrari’s partnership with Alcoa which resulted in an entirely new all-aluminium space-frame chassis that was 40% stiffer than the F355 which had utilised steel. The design was 28% lighter despite a 10% increase in overall dimensions. Along with a lightweight frame the new Pininfarina body styling deviated from traditions of the previous decade’s sharp angles and flip-up headlights. The new V8 engine, common to all versions, was of 3.6 litre capacity with a flat plane crankshaft, titanium connecting rods and generates 400 bhp Despite what looks like on paper modest gains in reality the power to weight ratio was significantly improved on over the F355, this was due to the combination of both a lighter car and more power. The 0 to 100 km/h acceleration performance improved from 4.6 to 4.3 seconds. The first model to be rolled out was the 360 Modena, available as a manual, or an F1 electrohydraulic manual. Next up was an open car. The 360 was designed with a Spider variant in mind; since removing the roof of a coupe reduces the torsional rigidity, the 360 was built for strength in other areas. Ferrari designers strengthened the sills, stiffened the front of the floorpan and redesigned the windscreen frame. The rear bulkhead had to be stiffened to cut out engine noise from the cabin. The convertible’s necessary dynamic rigidity is provided by additional side reinforcements and a cross brace in front of the engine. Passenger safety is ensured by a strengthened windscreen frame and roll bars. The 360 Spider displays a curvilinear waistline. The fairings imply the start of a roof, and stable roll bars are embedded in these elevations. Due to use of light aluminium construction throughout, the Spider weighs in only 60 kg heavier than the coupé. As with the Modena version, its 3.6 litre V8 with 400 bhp is on display under a glass cover. The engine — confined in space by the convertible’s top’s storage area — acquires additional air supply through especially large side grills. The intake manifolds were moved toward the center of the engine between the air supply conduits in the Spider engine compartment, as opposed to lying apart as with the Modena. In terms of performance, the 0-60 mph time was slightly slower at 4.4 seconds due to the slight weight increase, and the top speed was reduced from 189 to 180 mph. Despite the car’s mid-mounted V8 engine, the electrically operated top is able to stow into the compartment when not in use. The convertible top was available in black, blue, grey and beige. The transformation from a closed top to an open-air convertible is a two-stage folding-action that has been dubbed “a stunning 20 second mechanical symphony”. The interior of the Spider is identical to that of the coupé.
Replacement for the 360 came with the F430 and there was one of these here as well. The F430 debuted at the 2004 Paris Motor Show. Designed by Pininfarina, under the guidance of Frank Stephenson, the body styling of the F430 was revised from its predecessor, the Ferrari 360, to improve its aerodynamic efficiency. Although the drag coefficient remained the same, downforce was greatly enhanced. Despite sharing the same basic Alcoa Aluminium chassis, roof line, doors and glass, the car looked significantly different from the 360. A great deal of Ferrari heritage was included in the exterior design. At the rear, the Enzo’s tail lights and interior vents were added. The car’s name was etched into the Testarossa-styled driver’s side mirror. The large oval openings in the front bumper are reminiscent of Ferrari racing models from the 60s, specifically the 156 “sharknose” Formula One car and 250 TR61 Le Mans cars of Phil Hill. Designed with soft-top-convertible. The F430 featured a 4.3 litre V8 petrol engine of the “Ferrari-Maserati” F136 family. This new power plant was a significant departure for Ferrari, as all previous Ferrari V8’s were descendants of the Dino racing program of the 1950s. This fifty-year development cycle came to an end with the entirely new unit. The engine’s output was 490 hp at 8500 rpm and 343 lb/ft of torque at 5250 rpm, 80% of which was available below 3500rpm. Despite a 20% increase in displacement, engine weight grew by only 4 kg and engine dimensions were decreased, for easier packaging. The connecting rods, pistons and crankshaft were all entirely new, while the four-valve cylinder head, valves and intake trumpets were copied directly from Formula 1 engines, for ideal volumetric efficiency. The F430 has a top speed in excess of 196 mph and could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds, 0.6 seconds quicker than the old model. The brakes on the F430 were designed in close cooperation with Brembo (who did the calipers and discs) and Bosch (who did the electronics package),resulting in a new cast-iron alloy for the discs. The new alloy includes molybdenum which has better heat dissipation performance. The F430 was also available with the optional Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) ceramic composite brake package. Ferrari claims the carbon ceramic brakes will not fade even after 300-360 laps at their test track. The F430 featured the E-Diff, a computer-controlled limited slip active differential which can vary the distribution of torque based on inputs such as steering angle and lateral acceleration. Other notable features include the first application of Ferrari’s manettino steering wheel-mounted control knob. Drivers can select from five different settings which modify the vehicle’s ESC system, “Skyhook” electronic suspension, transmission behaviour, throttle response, and E-Diff. The feature is similar to Land Rover’s “Terrain Response” system. The Ferrari F430 was also released with exclusive Goodyear Eagle F1 GSD3 EMT tyres, which have a V-shaped tread design, run-flat capability, and OneTRED technology. The F430 Spider, Ferrari’s 21st road going convertible, made its world premiere at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show. The car was designed by Pininfarina with aerodynamic simulation programs also used for Formula 1 cars. The roof panel automatically folds away inside a space above the engine bay. The conversion from a closed top to an open-air convertible is a two-stage folding-action. The interior of the Spider is identical to that of the coupé. Serving as the successor to the Challenge Stradale, the 430 Scuderia was unveiled by Michael Schumacher at the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show. Aimed to compete with cars like the Porsche RS-models and the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera it was lighter by 100 kg/220 lb and more powerful (510 PS) than the standard F430. Increased power came from a revised intake, exhaust, and an ion-sensing knock-detection system that allows for a higher compression ratio. Thus the weight-to-power ratio was reduced from 2.96 kg/hp to 2.5 kg/hp. In addition to the weight saving measures, the Scuderia semi-automatic transmission gained improved “Superfast”, known as “Superfast2”, software for faster 60 millisecond shift-times. A new traction control system combined the F1-Trac traction and stability control with the E-Diff electronic differential. The Ferrari 430 Scuderia accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 3.6 seconds, with a top speed of 202 miles per hour. Ferrari claimed that around their test track, Fiorano Circuit, it matched the Ferrari Enzo, and the Ferrari F430’s successor, the Ferrari 458. To commemorate Ferrari’s 16th victory in the Formula 1 Constructor’s World Championship in 2008, Ferrari unveiled the Scuderia Spider 16M at World Finals in Mugello. It is effectively a convertible version of the 430 Scuderia. The engine produces 510 PS at 8500 rpm. The car has a dry weight of 1,340 kg, making it 80 kg lighter than the F430 Spider, at a curb weight of 1,440 kg (3,175 lb). The chassis was stiffened to cope with the extra performance available and the car featured many carbon fibre parts as standard. Specially lightened front and rear bumpers (compared to the 430 Scuderia) were a further sign of the efforts Ferrari was putting into this convertible track car for the road. Unique 5-spoke forged wheels were produced for the 16M’s launch and helped to considerably reduce unsprung weight with larger front brakes and callipers added for extra stopping power (also featured on 430 Scuderia). It accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 3.7 seconds, with a top speed of 315 km/h (196 mph). 499 vehicles were released beginning early 2009 and all were pre-sold to select clients.
There were plenty of V12-engined cars from the back catalogue, too. Oldest of these was a Testarossa. A replacement for the BB512i, the final iteration of Ferrari’s first ever mid-engined road car, the Testarossa was launched at the Paris Show in October 1984. The Pininfarina-designed car was produced until 1991, with the same basic design then going through two model revisions, with the 512 TR and later F512 M which were produced from 1992 to 1996 before the model was replaced by the front-engined 550 Maranello. Almost 10,000 Testarossas, 512 TRs, and F512 Ms were produced, making it one of the most-produced Ferrari models, despite its high price and exotic design. The Testarossa followed the same concept as the BB512, but was intended to fix some of the criticisms of the earlier car, such as a cabin that got increasingly hot from the indoor plumbing that ran between the front-mounted radiator and the midships-mounted engine and a lack of luggage space. This resulted in a car that was larger, and at 1,976 millimetres (78 in) wide the Testarossa was half a foot wider than the Boxer and immediately condemned for being too wide, though these days it does not appear anything like as wide as it did when new. This resulted in an increased wheelbase that stretched about 64 mm (2.5 in) to 2,550 mm (100 in) which was used to accommodate luggage in a carpeted storage space under the front forward-opening lid. The increase in length created extra storage space behind the seats in the cabin. Headroom was also increased with a roofline half an inch taller than the Boxer. The design came from Pininfarina with a team of designers led by design chief Leonardo Fioravanti, the designer of many contemporary Ferraris. The design was originated by Nicosia, but the guidance of Fioravanti was equally important. Being a trained aerodynamicist, Fioravanti applied his know-how to set the aerodynamics layout of the car. This meant the large side intakes were not only a statement of style but actually functional – they drew clean air to cool the side radiators and then went upward and left the car through the ventilation holes located at the engine lid and the tail. As a result, the Testarossa did not need a rear spoiler like Lamborghini’s Countach yet produced zero lift at its rear axle. The aerodynamic drag coefficient of 0.36 was also significantly better than the Lamborghini’s 0.42. Pininfarina’s body was a departure from the curvaceous boxer—one which caused some controversy. The side strakes sometimes referred to as “cheese graters” or “egg slicers,” that spanned from the doors to the rear wings were needed for rules in several countries outlawing large openings on cars. The Testarossa had twin radiators in the back with the engine instead of a single radiator up-front. In conjunction the strakes provided cool air to the rear-mounted side radiators, thus keeping the engine from overheating. The strakes also made the Testarossa wider at the rear than in the front, thus increasing stability and handling. One last unique addition to the new design was a single high mounted rear view mirror on the driver’s side. On US based cars, the mirror was lowered to a more normal placement in 1987 and quickly joined by a passenger side rear view mirror for the driver to be able to make safe easy lane changes. Like its predecessor, the Testarossa used double wishbone front and rear suspension systems. Ferrari improved traction by adding 10-inch-wide alloy rear wheels. The Testarossa drivetrain was also an evolution of the BB 512i. Its engine used near identical displacement and compression ratio, but unlike the BB 512i had four-valve cylinder heads that were finished in red. The capacity was 4,943 cc, in a flat-12 engine mid mounted. Each cylinder had four valves, lubricated via a dry sump system, and a compression ratio of 9.20:1. These combined to provide a maximum torque of 490 Nm (361 lb/ft) at 4500 rpm and a maximum power of 390 hp at 6300 rpm. That was enough to allow the Testarossa to accelerate from 0–60 mph in 5.2 seconds and on to 100 mph. The original Testarossa was re-engineered for 1992 and released as the 512 TR, at the Los Angeles Auto Show, effectively as a completely new car, with an improved weight distribution of 41% front: 59% rear. The F512 M was introduced at the 1994 Paris Auto Show, with the M standing for “modificata”. That car is easy to spot as it lost the pop-up headlights and gained awkward glazed in units.
Firmly placed in Ferrari’s history as one of their finest big GTs, the 550 Maranello’s combination of stylish Pininfarina lines and front mounted 12-cylinder engine meant this car had the potential to become an instant classic, following in the footsteps of its forebear, the 365 GTB/4 ‘Daytona’, and if you look at the way the prices are steading to go, it’s clear that the potential is being realised. Launched in 1996, and with modern styling cues, a 5.5 litre V12 engine producing around 485bhp and a reported top speed of 199mph, the 550 Maranello was a serious motor car. A less frenetic power delivery, the six speed manual box and excellent weight distribution were all factors in the 550 becoming the perfect European Grand Tourer. Ferrari updated the car to create the 575M.
A variant of the 575 was the 575M SuperAmerica, created to satisfy demand for open-topped V12 motoring and with a rather better roof arrangement than had been on the 550 Barchetta. The 575M Superamerica featured an electrochromic glass panel roof which rotated 180° (both of these attributes being production car firsts) at the rear to lie flat over the boot. The patented Revocromico roof incorporates a carbon fibre structure that is hinged on the single axis with a luggage compartment lid, allowing the access to the latter even with an open roof. With the roof open the rear window, apart for holding the third stop light, also acts as a wind deflector. This roof design was previously used on the 2001-designed Vola by Leonardo Fioravanti. The Superamerica used the higher-output tune of the V-12 engine, F133 G, rated at 533 hp and Ferrari marketed it as the world’s fastest convertible, with a top speed of 199 mph. The GTC handling package was optional. A total of 559 Superamericas were built; this number followed Enzo Ferrari’s philosophy that there should always be one fewer car available than what the market demanded.
The Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, a 2+2 coupé grand tourer, was produced between 2004 and 2010. The 612 Scaglietti was designed to replace the smaller 456 M; its larger size makes it a true 4 seater with adequate space in the rear seats for adults. The 612 was Ferrari’s second all-aluminium vehicle, the first being the 360 Modena. Its space frame, developed with Alcoa, was made from extrusions and castings of the material, and the aluminium body is welded on. The chassis of the 612 forms the basis of the later 599 GTB model. The 612 Scaglietti shared its engine with the Ferrari 575 Superamerica. The Scaglietti had a top speed of 320 km/h (198.8 mph) and a 0–100 km/h acceleration time of 4.2 seconds. It came with a either a 6-speed manual or the 6-speed F1A semi-automatic paddle shift system, a much refined version of the F1 system in the 360. The model was replaced by the Ferrari FF in 2011.
As well as the 458 Special A, there were examples of both the closed 458 Italia and the later Spider model here. An all new design, the 458 Italia was first officially unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. Once more, Ferrari advised that the model incorporated technologies developed from the company’s experience in Formula 1. The body computer system was developed by Magneti Marelli Automotive Lighting. The 458 came with a 4,499 cc V8 engine of the “Ferrari/Maserati” F136 engine family, producing 570 PS ( 562 hp) at 9,000 rpm and 540 N·m (398 lb/ft) at 6,000 rpm with 80% torque available at 3,250 rpm. The engine featured direct fuel injection, a first for Ferrari mid-engine setups in its road cars. The only transmission available was a dual-clutch 7-speed Getrag gearbox, in a different state of tune shared with the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. There was no traditional manual option, making this the fourth road-car after the Enzo, Challenge Stradale and 430 Scuderia not to be offered with Ferrari’s classic gated manual. The car’s suspension featured double wishbones at the front and a multi-link setup at the rear, coupled with E-Diff and F1-Trac traction control systems, designed to improve the car’s cornering and longitudinal acceleration by 32% when compared with its predecessors.The brakes included a prefill function whereby the pistons in the calipers move the pads into contact with the discs on lift off to minimise delay in the brakes being applied. This combined with the ABS and standard Carbon Ceramic brakes caused a reduction in stopping distance from 100–0 km/h (62-0 mph) to 32.5 metres. Ferrari’s official 0–100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration time was quoted as 2.9–3.0 seconds with a top speed of 340 km/h (210 mph). In keeping with Ferrari tradition the body was designed by Pininfarina under the leadership of Donato Coco, the Ferrari design director. The interior design of Ferrari 458 Italia was designed by Bertrand Rapatel, a French automobile designer. The car’s exterior styling and features were designed for aerodynamic efficiency, producing a downforce of 140 kg (309 lb) at 200 km/h. In particular, the front grille features deformable winglets that lower at high speeds, in order to offer reduced drag. The car’s interior was designed using input from former Ferrari Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher; in a layout common to racing cars, the new steering wheel incorporates many controls normally located on the dashboard or on stalks, such as turning signals or high beams. At launch the car was widely praised as being pretty much near perfect in every regard. It did lack a fresh air version, though, but that was addressed with the launch of the 458 Spider at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. This convertible variant of the 458 Italia featured an aluminium retractable hardtop which, according to Ferrari, weighs 25 kilograms (55 lb) less than a soft roof such as the one found on the Ferrari F430 Spider, and can be opened in 14 seconds The engine cover was redesigned to accommodate the retractable roof system. It had the same 0–100 km/h time as the hard-top but a lower top speed of 199 mph. It quickly became the better seller of the two versions.
There is no Ford franchise on the site here but there are from time to time a few of the more performance-oriented Ford vehicles on display here and on this occasion there were a couple of rather nice Mustang-based cars. The older of the pair dates from 1969. For the first two years of Mustang production, the car’s appearance had changed little, but from 1967, Ford made the annual model updates which were common among all US manufacturers at the time. Whilst the 1967 and 1968 changes were largely concentrated on the front end, and the car was still visually quite like the very first 1964.5 models, the 1969 model year restyle “added more heft to the body” with the body length extended by 3.8 inches on the same 108 inch wheelbase, width increased by almost half an inch, and the Mustang’s “weight went up markedly too.” 1969 was the first model to use quad headlamps placed both inside and outside the grille opening. The corralled grille pony was replaced with the pony and tribars logo, set off-centre to the drivers side. The car was longer than previous models and sported convex rather than concave side panels. The fastback body version was renamed Sportsroof, styled as SportsRoof in Ford’s literature. The 1969 model year saw the introduction of the Mach 1, with a variety of powerplants options and many new styling and performance features. Distinctive reflective striping was placed along the body sides, with a pop-open fuel cap, dual exhausts, matte-black hood with simulated air scoop and NASCAR-style cable and pin tiedowns. It used steel wheels with bold-lettered Goodyear Polyglas tyres. A functional “shaker” bonnet scoop – which visibly vibrated by being attached directly to the air cleaner through a hole in the bonnet – was available, as were tail-mounted wing and chin spoilers and rear window louvered blackout shade. The Mach 1 featured a deluxe interior with simulated wood trim, high backed seats, extra sound deadening, remote sports mirrors and other comforts. The Mach 1 proved popular with buyers with 72,458 cars sold through 1969. The Boss 302 was created to meet Trans Am rules and featured distinctive hockey-stick stripes, while the understated Boss 429 was created to homologate the Boss 429 engine (based on the new Ford 385 series engine) for NASCAR use. The two Boss models received fame on the track and street and to this day they still demand premium pricing for their pedigree. 1628 Boss 302’s and 859 Boss 429’s were sold through 1969 – making these vehicles somewhat rare. A new “luxury” model became available starting for 1969, available in only the hardtop body style. The ‘Grande’ featured a soft ride, 55 pounds of extra sound deadening, as well as deluxe interior with simulated wood trim. It was popular with buyers with 22182 units sold through 1969. Amidst other special editions, the 1969 Mustang E was offered for those desiring high mpg. The 1969 Limited Edition Mustang E was a rare (about 50 produced) fastback special model designed for economy. It came with a six-cylinder 4.1 litre engine, a high stall torque converter for the standard automatic transmission and a very low, 2.33:1 rear axle ratio. Mustang E lettering on the rear quarters identified the special Mustang E. Air conditioning was not available on the ‘E’ model. The Mustang GT was discontinued in 1969 due to poor sales versus the success of the new Mach 1 with only 5396 GT models sold that year. Although 1969 continued with many of the same basic V8 engines available on 1968 models, notably a now revised 302 cu in (4.9 litre) Windsor engine with 220 hp, the 390 cu in (6.4 litre) FE with 320 hp and the recently launched 428 cu in (7.0 litre) Cobra Jet engine (with or without Ram-Air) with an advertised 335 hp, a variety of revised options and changes were introduced to keep the Mustang fresh and competitive including a new performance V8 available in 250 hp or 290 hp tune known as the 351 cu in (5.8 litre) Windsor (351W), which was effectively a stretched and revised 302 cu in (4.9 litre) to achieve the extra stroke. The 428 cu in (7.0 litre) Cobra Jet engine continued unchanged in the 1969 and 1970 model years and continued to be advertised at just 335 hp despite being closer to 410 hp. However, whenever a V or W axle was ordered (3.90 or 4.30 locking ratio) on any Cobra Jet Mustang, this kicked in various engine improvements which were designed to make the engine more reliable on the strip. These improvements included an engine oil cooler (which resulted in AC not remaining an option), stronger crankshaft and conrods and improved engine balancing and was named the ‘Super Cobra Jet’. On the order form, these improvements were later referred to as ‘Drag Pack’. Today, these models request a premium price despite offering no notable performance increase other than provided by their unique axle ratios. The 1969 Shelby Mustang was now under Ford’s control and made to look vastly different from regular production Mustangs, despite now being built inhouse by Ford. The custom styling included a fibreglass front end with a combination loop bumper/grille that increased the car’s overall length by 3 inches as well as five air intakes on the bonnet. Two models were available, GT-350 (with a 351 cu in (5.8 litre) Windsor (351W) producing 290 hp and GT-500 (with the 428 cu in (7.0 litre) Cobra Jet engine), in both sportsroof or convertible versions. All 1969–1970 Shelby Mustangs were produced in 1969. Because of dwindling sales, the 789 remaining 1969 cars were given new serial numbers and titled as 1970 models. They had modified front air dam and a blackout paint treatment around the hood scoops. The 1970 model year Mustangs were restyled again, to be less aggressive and therefore returned to single headlamps which were moved to the inside of the grille opening with ‘fins’ on the outside of the grille sides. Some felt the aggressive styling of the 1969 model hurt its sales and this view prompted the headlamp revisions and simplification of other exterior styling aspects. It’s worth noting though that 1969 model year sales exceeded those of 1970. The rear fender air scoops were removed and the taillight panel was now flat instead of concave as seen on 1969 models. The interior options remained mostly unchanged.
Joining it was something much more recent, a Mustang Shelby GT500 of 2013.
There is also no Honda franchise in the complex, but there were quite a number of the latest Civic and Accord models here. The Civic will be familiar to Europeans, as, after a number of generations which diverged, the same design is now sold globally and whereas the same was true for the Accord, Honda chose not to replace the European version a few years ago, It remains an important car in the US, rivalling the big-selling Toyota Camry. Although all the comparison tests will tell you that the Honda is the better car, with many pronouncing it as best in class, the Toyota usually outsells it. Both are doing less well than they used to thanks to the market shift to Crossovers, but are still vital for their respective makers. The Accord manages to look less gawky than the Toyota and indeed its smaller Civic sibling.
Although America had quite a long wait before receiving supplies of the F-Pace and the XE, the E-Pace arrived far more quickly, going on sale earlier in the year, at a similar time to when European customers could get hold of one. There were plenty of them on site, and when parked up, often next to or near an F-Pace the difference in the styling are readily apparent and indeed these cars are not that hard to distinguish, certainly easier than in some rival product ranges.
There were plenty of examples of the rest of the range here, with XE and XF Saloons joined by a number of the pretty F Type model, seen here in R guise.
The Lamborghini showroom was separated from the Bentley area a couple of years ago, and there’s not that much space for displaying cars, with only 3 models on show, but there were more cars parked up outside. They were in an area which was half shadow and half very bright sunlight, which challenges the photographer more than somewhat (you have to wait til the sun moves around, or the dealer moves the car somewhere else – both of which happened during my visit). The new cars here were a mix of Huracan and Aventador models.
Elsewhere I did also come across a Gallardo Spyder. The open topped version of the Gallardo was unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in January 2006 and was considered by the company to be an entirely new model, though everyone else saw it simply as a variant of the established closed model. At launch, the engine had a power output of 520 PS (513 hp) and a low-ratio six-speed manual transmission. The Spyder has a retractable soft-top. It evolved in parallel with the coupe version over the ensuing years, with the facelifted model making its debut at the 2008 Los Angeles Show, before finally ending production in 2013 in favour of the Huracan.
Land Rover share a showroom with sister company Jaguar and also have lines of cars parked up in front of it and out the back, but they also have a soft “off road” area for their displays, with some very steep slopes created out of large rocks, allowing visitors and potential customers to get the impression of the sort of terrain that these vehicles could traverse. The full range of products were on show here. Newest addition to the range is the Velar, and there were plenty of examples of these on display now that the car has been on sale in America for a good few months.
When the latest, fifth generation Discovery was launched in America, the decision was taken to resume the use of the Discovery badging, which had been abandoned with its predecessor being called the LR4 (and there was the LR3 before that).
Indeed, the same philosophy applied to the smaller model, the Discovery Sport, which took over from a car we knew in Europe as the Freelander, but in an effort to disassociate itself from a reputation problem from the early models had become the LR2 to Americans.
There were no such issues with the Evoque, which has sold well in the US, just as it has in the rest of the world.
Completing the line-up are the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, and there were several of those on site, too.
Parked up in the service area was this Defender 90 V8. There is notable interest in these, and as the vehicles age, so they can be imported under the “over 25 year old” rule, which is doubtless how and when this one entered America.
As I knew from previous visits, this is definitely the place to come if you want to check out more or less every available colour on a Maserati, as there are rows of each of the Levante, Ghibli and Quattroporte parked up outside the showroom as well as examples of each inside.
Also here were the still current GranTurismo and GranCabrio models.
Elsewhere on site was a Quattroporte V, a car that is sStill acclaimed as one of the best-looking saloons ever produced. Around 25,000 of these were made between 2004 and 2012, making it the second best selling Maserati of all time, beaten only by the cheaper BiTurbo of the 1980s. The Tipo M139 was unveiled to the world at the Frankfurt Motor Show on 9 September 2003, with production starting in 2004. Exterior and interior design was done by Pininfarina, and the result was widely acclaimed to be one of the best looking saloons not just of its time, but ever, an opinion many would not disagree with even now. Built on an entirely new platform, it was 50 cm (19.7 in) longer than its predecessor and sat on a 40 cm (15.7 in) longer wheelbase. The same architecture would later underpin the GranTurismo and GranCabrio coupés and convertibles. Initially it was powered by an evolution of the naturally aspirated dry sump 4.2-litre V8 engine, mounted on the Maserati Coupé, with an improved output of 400 PS . Due to its greater weight compared to the Coupé and Spyder, the 0-62 mph (0–100 km/h) time for the Quattroporte was 5.2 seconds and the top speed 171 mph (275 km/h). Initially offered in only one configuration, equipped with the DuoSelect transmission, the gearbox was the weak point of the car, receiving most of the criticism from the press reviews. Maserati increased the range at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show, with the launch of the Executive GT and Sport GT trim levels. The Executive GT came equipped with a wood-rimmed steering wheel, an alcantara suede interior roof lining, ventilated, adaptive, massaging rear seats, rear air conditioning controls, veneered retractable rear tables, and curtain shades on the rear windows. The exterior was distinguished by 19 inch eight-spoke ball-polished wheels and chrome mesh front and side grilles. The Quattroporte Sport GT variant offered several performance upgrades: faster shifting transmission and firmer Skyhook suspensions thanks to new software calibrations, seven-spoke 20 inch wheels with low-profile tyres, cross-drilled brake rotors and braided brake lines. Model-specific exterior trim included dark mesh front and side grilles and red accents to the Trident badges, as on vintage racing Maseratis. Inside there were aluminium pedals, a sport steering wheel and carbon fibre in place of the standard wood inserts. A new automatic transmission was presented at the 2007 Detroit Motor Show, marketed as the Maserati Quattroporte Automatica. As all three trim levels were offered in both DuoSelect and Automatica versions, the lineup grew to six models. The Quattroporte Sport GT S was introduced at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show. Taking further the Sport GT’s focus on handling, this version employed Bilstein single-rate dampers in place of the Skyhook adaptive system. Other changes from the Sport GT comprised a lowered ride height and 10 mm wider 295/30 rear tyres, front Brembo iron/aluminium dual-cast brake rotors and red-painted six piston callipers. The cabin was upholstered in mixed alcantara and leather, with carbon fibre accents; outside the door handles were painted in body colour, while the exterior trim, the 20 inch wheels and the exhaust pipes were finished in a “dark chrome” shade. After Images of a facelifted Quattroporte appeared on the Internet in January 2008; the car made its official début at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show. Overseen by Pininfarina, the facelift brought redesigned bumpers, side sills and side mirrors, a convex front grille with vertical bars instead of horizontal, new headlights and tail lights with directional bi-xenon main beams and LED turn signals. Inside there was a new navigation and entertainment system. All Quattroporte models now used the ZF automatic transmission, the DuoSelect being discontinued. The 4.2-litre Quattroporte now came equipped with single-rate damping comfort-tuned suspension and 18 inch wheels. Debuting alongside it was the Quattroporte S, powered by a wet-sump 4.7-litre V8, the same engine of the Maserati GranTurismo S, with a maximum power of 424 bhp and maximum torque of 361 lb·ft. In conjunction with the engine, the braking system was upgraded to cross-drilled discs on both axles and dual-cast 360 mm rotors with six piston callipers at the front. Skyhook active damping suspension and 19 inch V-spoke wheels were standard. Trim differences from the 4.2-litre cars were limited to a chrome instead of titanium-coloured front grille. The Quattroporte Sport GT S was premièred at the North American International Auto Show in January 2009. Its 4.7-litre V8 produced 440 PS (434 hp), ten more than the Quattroporte S, thanks to revised intake and to a sport exhaust system with electronically actuated bypass valves. Other mechanical changes were to the suspensions, where as on the first Sport GT S single-rate dampers took place of the Skyhook system, ride height was further lowered and stiffer springs were adopted. The exterior was distinguished by a specific front grille with convex vertical bars, black headlight bezels, red accents to the Trident badges, the absence of chrome window trim, body colour door handles and black double oval exhaust pipes instead of the four round ones found on other Quattroporte models. Inside veneers were replaced by “Titan Tex” composite material and the cabin was upholstered in mixed Alcantara and leather. This means that there are quite a number of different versions among the 25,256 units produced, with the early DuoSelect cars being the most numerous.
Penske’s McLaren dealership is elsewhere in Scottsdale, but they did have one example of the marque here, parked up at the back of the Maserati showroom. This was a 720S, a still very bold looking supercar indeed.
Also on site was the slightly less potent, if no smaller, 570S model.
Although Penske do have a Mercedes franchise in Scottsdale, it is not here, as facing their site is Schumacher Mercedes, a large dealership that sells the products with the Three Pointed Star. On this occasion, I did not quite have the time to wander over the road to have a look at what they had in stock, so that means that the only Mercedes models to present in this report are the quartet that were on the Penske site. One them was a car I saw here back in March, and which was still here, an SL65 AMG Black Series. This was created for those who thought that the regular 604 bhp SL65 AMG was not quite fast or special enough. It was unveiled in Monterey in 2008. It generated 661 bhp from its twin turbocharged V12 engine, in which, compared to the regular SL65 AMG, the turbochargers were 12% larger, and the optimised wastegate ducts permit increased air throughout. Intake air ducting and exhaust system are modified to improve response and reduce the exhaust gas backpressure. The Black Series is 250 kilograms (550 lb) lighter than regular SL 65 AMG by the use of light carbon fibre composites (CFRP) parts and the omission of the SL’s normal foldable hardtop roof, replacing it with a fixed roof. Not only did this save weight, it also made room available for the retractable rear spoiler. The top speed was limited to about 200 mph-(322 km/h) and the car can go from 0-62 mph-(0–100 km/h) in 3.8 seconds. A limited number were produced over the next three years. The AMG Speedshift Plus five-speed automatic transmission include “C”, “S”, “M1” and “M2” which has gearshift times 25 percent quicker than the “M1” mode. The Black Series front axle track width is 97 millimetres wider and the rear axle track width 85 millimetres wider over regular model. Other changes include retractable rear spoiler and the rear apron with diffuser fins, 265/35R19 front tyres with 19×9.5 inch AMG light-alloy wheels and AMG 20×11.5-inch light-alloy wheels with 325/30R20 tyres (Dunlop Sport Maxx GT tyres), 6-piston front calipers with 390x36mm discs and 4-piston calipers with 360x26mm discs. The car was perceived as very expensive when new, though the market now seems more wiling to accept (and buy) cars like this!
The other Mercedes were also AMGs, SL63 AMG, a S63 AMG and the current AMG GT sports car.
The MINI showroom is a very colourful one relative to the other constructions on the site, but it is also quite small, with cars displayed around the perimeter and the rest of the space used for, well, I am not quite sure what, but it is not accessible to visitors. But fear not, if you want to see MINI models, then there are dozens and dozens of them, parked up in rows by model type, around the back of the facility, as well as a number close to the showroom which are the used cars and the courtesy cars offered out to customers when their cars are in for service. The three door model is sold as the “Coupe” in America, and there were plenty of those as well as the slightly longer five door hatch, the Cabrio and the second generation Clubman and Countryman. Here’s the chance to contrast many of the different colours and options such as contrasting roofs, stickers and the like.
There are also a number of used MINI models here, including some of the body-styles which have not made it through to the latest generation, such as the Paceman.
The Porsche area is always well worth spending time in. The showroom was busy, as is generally the case whenever I have visited, with plenty of serious customers eager to discuss a deal on a car, though there is usually someone free to at least check if there is anything that they can help me with and to talk to for a few minutes. And then outside, there are lines and lines of new cars, with an even larger number of older models parked up around the back, either in for service or in stock as used examples. If you want to see a 911 model, almost any of the vast array of different ones that have been produced from the preceding 20 years or so, chances are you will be in luck here. Clearly the most prominent ones are the new cars, which means the 991.2 generation, and there were examples of this extensive range aplenty.
There were also lots of what you could call the “special” models, with some of the rarer ones in the showroom and others to be found outside. These included the GT3 and GT3 RS cars and a rather rarer 996 GT2. In 1999, the 993 was replaced with the new 996 model. The new GT2 took two years to develop and during that time, Porsche decided to abandon the GT2 for motorsports use, instead concentrating on competing in GT3 class racing with the new naturally aspirated 911 GT3. Developed primarily as a road car in contrast to its predecessor, the new GT2 featured a twin-turbocharged version of the GT3’s 3.6 litre flat-six engine. It generated a maximum output of 456 bhp, which was later increased to 476 bhp. Like the 993 GT2, the body of the 996 GT2 differed significantly from those of other 996 variants; major differences included wider wings, a more aggressively shaped nose, and a large rear wing. The car was produced in relatively small quantities from 2001 to 2005.
The 911 GT3 RS 4.0, launched in 2011, was the final evolution of the 997 GT3 and featured a 4.0 litre flat-six engine (the largest engine offered in a street-legal 911). The engine itself uses the crankshaft from the RSR with increased stroke dimensions (from 76.4 mm to 80.4 mm). This change has increased the power to 500 PS, or 493 bhp at 8250 rpm and 460 Nm (339 lb/⋅t) of torque at 5750 rpm, making it one of the most powerful six-cylinder naturally aspirated engines in any production car. Performance is 3.5 seconds for 0-60 mph and a top speed of 193 mph (311 km/h). The lap time on the Nürburgring Nordschleife is 7 minutes and 27 seconds. Chassis development was influenced by the GT2 RS and used parts from other RS 911s. Front dive planes give additional downforce up front. The car weighs in at 1,360 kg (2,998 lb), giving it a power-to-weight ratio of 365 bhp per ton. The car was offered in Black, Carrera White, Paint to Sample Non Metallic and Paint to Sample Metallic. A total of 141 units were sold in the United States and 16 units in Canada, from a global total of 600 cars. It was joined here by examples of the GT3 and 911.2 GT3 RS.
There was also an example of the next generation of GT3 RS model here. the more extreme version of the 991 GT3 which was launched at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show in 2015, and featured in first drive articles in the press a few weeks later, with cars reaching the UK in the summer and another series of universally positive articles duly appearing. It had very big shoes to fill, as the 997 GT3 RS model was rated by everyone lucky enough to get behind the wheel, where the combination of extra power and reduced weight made it even better to drive than the standard non-RS version of the car. A slightly different approach was taken here, with the result weighing just 10kg less than the GT3. It is based on the extra wide body of the 991 Turbo. Compared to the 991 GT3, the front wings are now equipped with louvres above the wheels and the rear wings now include Turbo-like intakes, rather than an intake below the rear wing. The roof is made from magnesium a bonnet, whilst the front wings, rear deck and rear spoiler all in carbonfibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP), the rear apron is in a new polyurethane-carbonfibre polymer and polycarbonate glazing is used for the side and rear windows. The wider body allows the RS’s axle tracks to grow, to the point where the rear track is some 72mm wider than that of a standard 3.4-litre Carrera and the tyres are the widest yet to be fitted to a road-going 911. A long-throw crankshaft made of extra-pure tempered steel delivers the 4mm of added piston stroke necessary to take the GT3’s 3.8-litre flat six out to 3996cc . The engine also uses a new induction system, breathing through the lateral air intakes of the Turbo’s body rather than through the rear deck cover like every other 911. This gives more ram-air effect for the engine and makes more power available at high speeds. It results in an output of 500 bhp and 339 lb/ft of torque. A titanium exhaust also saves weight. The suspension has been updated and retuned, with more rigid ball-jointed mountings and helper springs fitted at the rear, while Porsche’s optional carbon-ceramic brakes get a new outer friction layer. Which is to say nothing of the RS’s biggest advancement over any other 911: downforce. The rear wing makes up to 220kg of it, while the front spoiler and body profile generates up to 110kg. In both respects, that’s double the downforce of the old 997 GT3 RS 4.0. The transmission is PDK only. The result is a 0-62 mph time of just 3.3 seconds, some 0.6 seconds quicker than the 997 GT3 RS 4.0 and 0-124 mph (0-200kmh) in 10.9 seconds. The 991 GT3 RS also comes with functions such as declutching by “paddle neutral” — comparable to pressing the clutch with a conventional manual gearbox –- and Pit Speed limiter button. As with the 991 GT3, there is rear-axle steering and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus with fully variable rear axle differential lock. The Nürburgring Nordschleife time is 7 minutes and 20 seconds. The interior includes full bucket seats (based on the carbon seats of the 918 Spyder), carbon-fibre inserts, lightweight door handles and the Club Sport Package as standard (a bolted-on roll cage behind the front seats, preparation for a battery master switch, and a six-point safety harness for the driver and fire extinguisher with mounting bracket). Needless to say, the car was an instant sell out,
There were plenty of the smaller 718 Boxster and Cayman models, many of them in nice bright colours, though whether you would want to live with one or two of them would be something you might have to think about for more than a couple of minutes.
America had quite a wait for the second generation Panamera but the model is available in this market now and it has been joined by the recently introduced SportTurismo and a number of these were parked up outside the showroom.
These days it is the Macan and the Cayenne which constitute a significant percentage of Porsche sales and which keep the company viable and able to produce those special 911s and the other sports cars and there were lines of both models here, ready and waiting for their first owner. I also came across a few of the first generation Cayenne here, showing how the styling did soften somewhat from those early cars which so shocked the purists.
Pride of place in the Rolls Royce showroom went to the new Phantom, the eight generation car to bear the name. Revealed in the summer of 2017, the model is starting to filter out to dealerships around the world and the first drives are appearing in the world’s motoring press. When seen in the metal, it is more distinctly different from its predecessor than was apparent from the launch photos. It’s huge, imposing and exactly how you imagine a modern Rolls Royce should be, to my mind.
Joining it in the showroom were examples of the previous generation Phantom Coupe, the current Wraith and Dawn and there were several more of these cars both in front and behind the showroom. Although smaller than the Phantom, these are still large cars, but very dignified (until the after-market customisers get to them!).
Also here, though there were rather fewer examples on site was the Ghost, the saloon model on which the Wraith and Dawn are based.
In the service parking, I found this Corniche V, a real rarity, as these were only made between 2000 to 2002. Rolls-Royce’s flagship car, it was the fifth model to bear the Corniche name on its debut in January 2000. At the time of its release, it was the most expensive vehicle offered by Rolls-Royce, with a base price of US$359,900. It was powered by a 325 hp 6.75 litre turbocharged Rolls-Royce V8, which provided 544 lb·ft of torque at 2,100 rpm. The car is operated via a four-speed automatic transmission. It has a top speed of 135 mph (215 km/h) and a 0-60 mph acceleration time of eight seconds. The convertible, weighing 6,836 lb (3,101 kg), was built more for comfort than for speed. The Corniche came outfitted with every luxury and refinement characteristic of a Rolls-Royce. with a Connolly Leather interior, Wilton wool carpets, chrome gauges and a wide choice of exotic wood trims. Dual automatic temperature control, a six-disc CD changer, automatic headlamps and automatic ride control are standard. Styling cues were taken from the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph sedan, but it shared little mechanically with that BMW-engined car. Instead, the Corniche’s body was set onto the older platform used for the similarly-styled Bentley Azure, making it the first and only Rolls-Royce developed from a Bentley rather than the other way around. The Corniche was the only new Rolls-Royce developed under Volkswagen’s ownership, before the marque was phased out in 2003. All Corniches were completely hand-built. The car was considered a slightly softer, more exclusive version of the Azure. The very last Rolls-Royce Corniche rolled off the assembly line on August 30, 2002. This was the very last Rolls-Royce to be made at the Crewe plant before it was turned over entirely to the production of Bentley models. Only 374 fifth-generation Corniches were ever built.
The Volkswagen showroom is at the very end of the line, but it is always worth walking this far, as in addition to a plentiful supply of the very latest models, for years there have been a number of classic VW on show. Most of these are notionally for sale, too, though the cars have not changed in all the time that I have been visiting, with the exception of the fact that my favourite, a bright orange “Thing”, as the 181 Trekka was known to US buyers, did disappear a couple of years ago, its $28,000 price tag having clearly not been a disincentive to someone. That means that what remains are examples of the traditional Beetle and the Type 2, so beloved of the surfer community in the adjoining State.
As to the cars that you can buy brand new, the US range looks quite different to the European one. The biggest seller is the Jetta, and there is a new one just hitting the streets. It won’t be sold in Europe at all, so this one may look unfamiliar in the details, though it has plenty of styling cues from the rest of the range leaving you in little doubt that it is a VW.
For those who want a larger saloon model, then VW America have another offering with a name that will be familiar to Europeans, but styling which is not. This is the Passat, but the model sold in America is different to the European ones. It is a little larger, and only offered as a saloon. When launched in 2012, it was accoladed as “Car of the Year” by Motor Trend magazine, and certainly it impressed me not least for its characterful 5 cylinder engine. But that was 2012 and it has received only modest updates since then, whilst all its rivals have been refreshed with completely new models. A test of one a couple of years ago led me to conclude that whilst it is still a perfectly pleasant car, it no longer stands out as class leader, and the market rather agrees, with modest sales in a class that is steadily declining in favour of SUVs.
Reflecting the relentless move towards Crossovers, VW came up with a US-specific and US built model, the Atlas, which went on sale a few months prior to this visit, and there were several of these on show. This will now sit at the top of the range, with the third generation Touareg, a similarly-sized model not going to be offered to American buyers. For those who want something slightly smaller, there is the Tiguan, offered now in 5 and extended wheelbase 7 seater versions.
Other models to catch my eye and the camera were the latest versions of the Golf in Wagon and GTi formats.
So that was the Penske showroom complex in September 2018 with a a mix of 2018 and 2019 model year cars on show, plenty to interest me, resulting in an enjoyable few hours of my vacation time.
…….. AND IN CALABASAS
The first and last few days of the trip were spend in the Greater Los Angeles area. There are plenty of prestige dealerships here, too, but they tend to be rather more spread out, as indeed is everything in this metropolis. One day, perhaps, I will make a more concerted effort to go and have a tour, though is probably entails going to places such as Beverley Hills, Pasadena, West Lake, Newport Beach and others. There is one location which is accessible, though, as it is right by the 101 Freeway, and that is the what is called the North Los Angeles Lamborghini showroom, in Calabasas. I made a brief stop there one afternoon.
Although new car sales there are now limited to Lamborghini (they used to sell McLaren as well), there always tend to be a variety of different marques outside, in the “pre-owned” area, and that was the case this time. Among these were a number of Ferrari models which included a 488 GTB, California T and FF, as well as a Mercedes S63 AMG Cabrio.
There were several Lamborghini models here, too, and their bright colours looked particularly appealing in the strong California sunshine.
One of the Sales Execs saw me, and a couple of other people, looking and invited us all to head inside where it would be significantly cooler and so we could look at the stock there. Here were examples of the current Lamborghini range of Aventador and Huracan. I did ask if they had the Urus yet, and was told that there was one which was “doing the rounds” of the US dealers, with their loan period having been just a few days ago, but that it would now be in Northern California as part of a national tour of dealerships. US market cars go on sale during 2019.
More powerful than any of the Lamborghini models, though, was the final car to be found in the showroom, a Dodge Challenger Hellcat. Although it does not shout it unduly, this large 4 seater Coupe has an incredible 707 bhp available from its Hemi-engined V8, meaning it is capable of explosive performance. Old-school raw power, without all the sophistication of a modern AMG or M, perhaps, so in the best traditions of the muscle car.
At the bottom of the street is another dealership, specialising in the sale and service of pre-owned exotics. It was closed on the day of my visit, and the only car of note parked up outside was this top of the range Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG.
An interesting diversion, for sure, and another set of photos for reports such as these and my photo library.