Another trip to Arizona, one full week as part of my spring vacation, with the time split equally between a stay in Los Angeles and one in Phoenix, with ample opportunity to revisit my favourite haunts, and sample a significant number of rental cars (reports on which will ensue in due course), and in the case of the Phoenix-area stay, to pop into the Penske Showroom complex situated just off the Scottsdale Road and a couple of blocks south of the 101 Freeway. I’ve been wandering around the vast outdoor area which surrounds the front and back of an arc of showrooms that offer many of the prestige and European brands to American customers for some time, having discovered on an initial visit to the Penske Racing Museum which is in the middle of the complex that this is something which quite a lot of people do. There are five showrooms to one side of the museum, and a further seven to the other, some being larger than others, of course With vast inventories on site, to cater for the the fact that with the exception of the very high end brands, American customers expect to be able to walk in, do a deal and drive home the car in the spec that they want all on the same day, so even before you factor in the number of pre-owned cars and those in for service and repairs which are generally parked up behind the buildings, there is plenty to see, so this is not a visit that you can fit into an hour. Just walking from end to end,, slowly because of the heat, will take you quite a while even were you not to stop, and look and gaze in envy. Time was a bit limited for me on this occasion, as I arrived in early afternoon having been up in the hills, testing and photographing the rental car of the day and then plans to go elsewhere to a mid to late afternoon Car Show elsewhere in Scottsdale, so I did not go inside that many of the showrooms. That means that there are rather fewer picture in this report than most of those produced on previous visits, but there is still plenty of variety recorded here, and when read as part of what is now quite a series of reports from the last several years, there is ample evidence of how the cars offered have continued to evolve.
Alphabetically, Acura comes first, though in fact it tends to be one of the last areas that I reach, as it is towards one end of the line, with only Volkswagen beyond it. Even after a recent toning down of the wacky styling which would appear to have contributed to the sales weakness that the brand experienced for around a decade, there’s not much in this range comprised of Honda-based saloons and crossovers that is what you would call interesting. Visitors to the site would seem to agree, as whenever I’ve ventured into the showroom, I don’t recall ever seeing anyone else in there. And if you even pause as you walk past, it would seem to be impossible to avoid being approached by an almost over-eager sales associate to come rushing up to you keen to try to discuss some possible deal that could be done. That happened yet again on this occasion, even though I really did not linger! Just two of the models in the current range attracted the camera: the mid-sized TLX and smaller ILX sedan. These have their origins in the Accord and Civic, in both cases, the previous generation model, as the replacement cycles of Honda and Acura are not that tightly linked. There’s nothing really wrong with either car, but both compete in crowded fields and there are few stand-out reasons why you would pick one over their many rivals.
It come as something of a surprise to find that Ariel have gone through all the effort to get their Atom certified and approved for sale in the US, but they have, as just occasionally you do see one. I think the last one I came across was up in the mountains north of Los Angeles, and that was some years ago, but here was another one, parked up outside the showroom complex. First seen in public at the British International Motor Show at the NEC in Birmingham in October 1996, the Atom began as a student project by Coventry University transport design student, Niki Smart. Known then as the LSC (Lightweight Sports Car), it was developed at the university in 1996 with input and funding from various automotive industry members, including British Steel and TWR. Ariel Motor Company boss Simon Saunders was a senior lecturer whose responsibility for the project was primarily as financial manager and design critic for Smart, whom he described as “The best all-round design student I’ve ever seen.” Since then, an operation was created in Crewkerne, Somerset, and around 100 cars a year are produced there. Each one is made by a single person, who undertakes everything from assembly to final road test before putting his name on the finished product. There have been 7 distinct models, with a wide variety of different engines ranging from a 2 litre Honda VTEC unit in naturally aspirate and supercharged guise, to the ultimate, the 500, with a 3 litre V8 that generates 500 bhp. Visually, the cars look similar at a quick glance, and it takes a real marque expert (which I am not!), to tell them apart. Never intended as an every day car, as their real raison d’etre is as a track machine, owners do take them out on public roads, and they do appear at events like this, which gives us all the chance to see them.
I did see a couple of examples of the all new Vantage model when I was here in September 2018, but now, six months later, there are few more of them in evidence, with a line of them parked up outside the showroom and a further examples on display indoors.
The DB11 has been around for long enough now to have become familiar both to Europe and American eyes, at least in Coupe form. A supremely elegant open-topped Volante was added to the range in 2018, and there was one of these on site to have a look at. No Aston is at all bad-looking, but this could just be the very best of the lot.
Wandering in the area behind the showrooms, I came across a couple of models from the back catalogue. Newer of the duo that caught my eye was this N430 version of the now obsolete Vantage. The N430 version was announced just a few weeks ahead of the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, following on from the previous and desirable N400 and N420 editions. This new model was mechanically based on the standard V8 Vantage but with the addition of the ‘S’ 430 bhp V8 engine, ‘S’ suspension and some unique styling features, together with either the regular 6-speed manual or the Prodrive developed 7-speed Sportshift II transmission with paddle shift.
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 new Audi showroom was built a couple of years ago, significantly larger than the old one, now situated right at the southern end of the complex, and this provides space for rather more cars to be housed inside and avoids the feeling of them being quite as crammed in as had been the case before, and there is also a lot of space around it outside to display lines of new cars. Not all the models that Audi sells in Europe are offered to American customers, and predictably it is the smaller ones and the Avant models that are not sold on US soil, but even so, there is a vast range of different body styles available. As with most brands, it is the crossovers that capture the volume, with the mid-sized Q5 being Audi’s best seller, so it was no surprise to find long lines of this car, now in its second generation as well as the larger Q7, smaller Q3 and the new Q8 here.
There were plenty of the non-crossover models here, too, though the ones I appear to have photographed are the current A4 and the first generation A7, the new one having not yet reached America.
Final Audi of note was the R8 supercar.
The Bentayga was always going to find greater favour in a place like Scottsdale than it does in almost any part of Europe. Its bulk is less evident for a start, and there are enough well-heeled buyers for whom this is exactly what they were looking for. So it was no surprise to find the car prominently displayed in the showroom and a whole line of them parked up outside.
Also on display indoors was the Mulsanne, the larger of Bentley’s two saloon models, and the one which in this geo is selling in greater quantities, as the sales staff told me that people who in the past would have bought a Flying Spur have largely shifted over to a Bentayga.
There is still a market for the Continental models, of course and the Coupe and open-topped GTC were both evident here.
I did not go in the BMW showroom, and as most of the cars that were parked in front of it were in very dark shadow indeed, there are few pictures from this vast model range. It is not quite as vast in America as it is in Europe, with some of the ranges we buy in quantity simply not offered at all, such as the 1 Series, but conversely, Americans do buy the bigger engined (petrol) versions of the cars that we see on the website but whose fiscal consequences and higher fuel consumptions make them rarer beasts on European soil. The X2 crossover was launched during 2018, and to an extent occupies the slot that the 1 series hatch has in Europe, as this is a crossover that barely is one. Certainly there is precious little room inside it, compared to the X1 on which the car is based, and it does look sufficiently different from any other BMW that it is easy to identify.
Sometimes there is a lag of months or even over a year between a new model going on sale across Europe and it reaching the American market, whereas in some cases the arrivals can be more or less simultaneous. The latter would seem to apply for the new G20 generation 3 Series, as this, the 8th iteration of BMW’s commercially crucial mid-sized was evident here both in front of and behind the showroom, at the time when it is also only just reaching European showrooms. Although the overall silhouette is not that different from the previous generation F30 car, the details are such that few should have much difficulty in telling them apart. Much to the chagrin of BMW’s Head of Design, Adrian van Hooydonk, I am one of a very long list of people who prefer the previous model from an appearance point of view, finding this one overrought with far too may surfaces, creases and other superfluous fussy details. Although BMW is getting a lot of very negative press for the look of all their latest products (and the 3 is far from the worst offender), it does not appear to be impeding sales.
There were several examples of the new X7 here. One of them was parked next to an X3 and the size contrast was immediately evident, with the X3 being dwarfed but its newer 7 seat rival. Whilst the sheer size of the X7 will be far less of an issue in the expansive roads and parking areas of the the pacific South West, nothing is going to make it look any better. The general view, and certainly one I share is that is a rather crass, brash and vulgar looking machine but in its defence, the typical buyer will probably not care or even see these as positive virtues.
There is a shared showroom for Ferrari and Maserati, as you might expect given the joint ownership of the two brands, and needless to say. this was one of the few that I did go into, and I am glad I did, as there were plenty of interesting and rare cars in here, not all of which were actually a Ferrari or a Maserati.
Perhaps the most unusual model type, in terms of the car you are least like to see at events and certainly out on the road, was this 550 Barchetta. Ferrari introduced their roadster version of the 550 at the Paris Motor Show in 2000 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Pininfarina. The 550 Barchetta Pininfarina was a true barchetta with no real convertible top provided. The factory did provide a cloth soft top, but it was intended only for temporary use to protect the interior from rain as using the top above 70 mph (113 km/h) was not deemed safe. Aesthetically, the Barchetta featured a more deeply raked windshield than the coupé for improved aero dynamics, roll-over hoops behind the seats for the driver’s safety and a longer rear section than the coupé to complete the smooth overall design resulting in more cargo space than the coupé, even when it was less practical. Other changes included new 19-inch alloy wheels specially made for the barchetta. A total of 448 cars were produced, four more than initially planned 444 cars due to concerns of superstition in the Japanese market about the number 4. The 448 cars were preceded by 12 prototypes numbered P01–P12 on their interior plaques. To an observer the prototypes and production cars are indistinguishable. The mechanical underpinnings of the car remained the same as its coupé counterpart but the engine was given the F133C code mainly for differentiation. Performance figures differed significantly as compared to the 550 Maranello due to the loss of a roof, with 0–62 mph (0–100 km/h) acceleration time increasing to 4.4 seconds and top speed reduced to 186 mph (300 km/h). All the 448 cars had a numbered plaque (i.e. x of 448) on the dashboard with Sergio Pininfarina’s signature.
In 2018, to mark the brand’s 70th anniversary, Ferrari produced a series of cars with special and very distinctive liveries, featuring contrasting colour combinations, and a number of these were on show here. I have to say that some of what was offered looked rather more appealing than others of the combinations, but then at this rarified end of the market, tastes and personal preference as well as being distinctive and different are what count. See what you think!
Among them was an example of the F12 TdF, a variant that Ferrari unveiled in October 2015, as a faster, lighter and more powerful special edition of the regular F12 Berlinetta. The accompanying press releases informed us that the the car was created in homage to the legendary Tour de France road races, which it dominated in the 1950s and 1960s with the likes of the 1956 250 GT Berlinetta. However, the full Tour de France name cannot be used, as this is registered to the famous annual cycle race held in France, and even the might of Ferrari’s often belligerent and bullying legal department clearly had not managed to get past that obstacle. The F12 TdF, described by its maker as “the ultimate expression of the concept of an extreme road car that is equally at home on the track”, keeps the same 6.3-litre naturally aspirated V12 engine as the regular F12 Berlinetta, but power has been boosted from 730bhp to 770bhp at 8500rpm, while torque has increased from 509lb ft to 520lb ft at 6750rpm. Ferrari says 80% of the car’s torque is available from 2500rpm. By comparison, McLaren’s 675LT features a 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine and produces 660bhp and 516lb ft – enough to give it a 0-62mph sprint time of 2.9 seconds. The older Ferrari 458 Speciale, meanwhile, made 597bhp from its 4.5-litre naturally aspirated V8. The car is capable of reaching 62mph in 2.9sec and has a top speed of more than 211mph. Official fuel consumption is rated at 18.3mpg, with CO2 emissions of 360g/km. Ferrari says it has has used various modifications derived from its F1 cars to boost the engine’s efficiency. The F12 TdF uses a new version of the firm’s dual-clutch automatic transmission, which features shorter gear ratios. New one-piece brake calipers – the same as those used on the LaFerrari supercar – are said to provide “outstanding” stopping distances, allowing the F12 TdF to brake from 62-0mph in 30.5 metres. Ferrari says the car’s performance is “second to none”, but that it has also been conceived to be “an extremely agile and powerful car which could also be driven by less expert drivers”. The F12 TdF has lapped Ferrari’s Fiorano test track in 1min 21sec. The regular F12 Berlinetta completed the lap in 1min 23sec – the same as the new 488. The LaFerrari currently holds the fastest time on the course, with a time of 1min 19.70sec. Among the other changes made to the F12 TdF are larger front tyres, allowing greater lateral acceleration through corners. Ferrari says the car’s “natural tendency” to oversteer has been compensated for by the use of a new rear-wheel steering system. Dubbed Virtual Short Wheelbase, the system – which automatically adjusts the rear wheels for the optimum steering angle – is said to increase stability at high speeds while guaranteeing “the steering wheel response times and turn-in of a competition car”. The F12 TdF’s aggressive bodywork includes a longer and higher rear spoiler, larger air vents to channel air flow along the sides of the car, a redesigned rear diffuser and new wheel arch louvres. It sits on 20in alloy wheels. Overall, the changes combine to give the F12 TdF 30% more downforce compared to the F12. Ferrari says the redesigned bodywork has almost doubled the aerodynamic efficiency of the car compared to the standard F12, while the use of lightweight carbonfibre inside and out has reduced the F12 TdFf’s kerb weight by 110kg over the standard car, which weighs 1630kg. The cabin is deliberately stripped out. The door panels feature carbonfibre trim, while knee padding replaces the traditional glovebox. The majority of the cabin is trimmed with Alcantara instead of real leather. Aluminium plates feature on the floor instead of mats, again hinting at the car’s track-focused nature.
The regular F12 Berlinetta was also here.
The GTC 4 Lusso was a new name for the car initially presented as the FF. The changes, as first seen at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. The body style of the GTC4Lusso is similar to the Ferrari FF. The rear features Ferrari’s signature Quad Circular Rear Lights (last seen on the F430) and its interior contains a Dual Cockpit Concept Design, separating the Driver Cockpit and the Passenger Cockpit by a central divider. The front of the vehicle has a single grille that provides all the necessary cooling. The GTC4Lusso’s 6,262 cc Ferrari F140 65° V12 engine rated at 690 PS at 8,000 rpm and 697 Nm (514 lb/ft) of torque at 5,750rpm, also thanks to a compression ratio raised to 13.5:1. Ferrari claims a top speed of 335 km/h (208 mph), unchanged from the FF, and a 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) acceleration time of 3.4 seconds. The car uses an improved version (called the 4RM Evo) of Ferrari’s patented four-wheel drive system introduced on the FF, integrated with four-wheel steering into 4RM-S. A second model arrived a few months later, the GTC4Lusso T, which was first seen at the 2016 Paris Motor Show. The GTC4Lusso T is a rear wheel drive only version of the GTC4Lusso equipped with a small displacement V8 engine but retains the 4WS four-wheel steering system. The GTC4Lusso T comes with a 3,855 cc Ferrari F154 twin turbocharged V8 engine rated at 610 PS at 7,500 rpm and 760 Nm (561 lb/ft) of torque at 3,000–5,250 rpm. According to the manufacturer the car can attain a top speed of over 320 km/h (199 mph) and accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) in 3.5 seconds.
Although it has been out of production for a few years now, there were a lot of 458 Italia and Spider models made and so the car is still a common sighting at the dealers and that was the case here with several examples on display and parked up. 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.
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.
Also here were a number of examples of the California and California T. After a gap of some years, Ferrari added a 4 seater V8 model to the range at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, with the California. According to industry rumours, the California originally started as a concept for a new Maserati, but the resulting expense to produce the car led the Fiat Group to badge it as a Ferrari in order to justify the high cost of purchase; the company denies this, however. The California heralded a number of firsts for Ferrari: the first front engined Ferrari with a V8; te first to feature a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission; the first with a folding metal roof; the first with multi-link rear suspension; and the first with direct petrol injection. Bosch produced the direct injection system. The engine displaces 4,297 cc, and used direct injection. It delivered 453 bhp at 7,750 rpm; its maximum torque produced was 358 lbf·ft at 5,000 rpm. The resulting 106 bhp per litre of engine displacement is one of the highest for a naturally aspirated engine, as other manufacturers have used supercharging or turbocharging to reach similar power levels. Ferrari spent over 1,000 hours in the wind tunnel with a one-third-scale model of the California perfecting its aerodynamics. With the top up, the California has a drag coefficient of Cd=0.32, making it the most aerodynamic Ferrari ever made until the introduction of the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. Throughout the California’s production, only 3 cars were built with manual transmission, including one order from the UK. On 15 February 2012, Ferrari announced an upgrade, which was lighter and more powerful. Changes include reducing body weight by 30 kg (66 lb), increased power by output of 30 PS and 11 lbf·ft, acceleration from 0–100 km/h (62 mph) time reduced to 3.8 seconds, introduction of Handling Speciale package and elimination of the manual transmission option. The car was released at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show as a 2012 model in Europe. To give the clients a more dynamic driving experience, an optional HS (Handling Speciale) package was developed as part of the update. It can be recognised by a silver coloured grille and ventilation blisters behind the front wheel wells. The HS package includes Delphi MagneRide magnetorheological dampers controlled by an ECU with 50% faster response time running patented Ferrari software, stiffer springs for more precise body control and a steering rack with a 9 per cent quicker steering ratio (2.3 turns lock to lock as opposed to the standard rack’s 2.5). A more substantive update came in 2014, with the launch of the California T, which was recently replaced by the Portofino. It featured new sheetmetal, a new interior, a revised chassis and a new turbocharged powertrain.
And there was just one example of the Portofino which I came across, parked up behind the showroom.
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 centre 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.
There was also an example of the F430 here. Effectively a mid-life update to the 360 Modena, 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 the 360 Modena, 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.
Also here from the back catalogue was this standard 550 Maranello. 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.
This GT40 was actually parked in the front of the Maserati area of the Ferrari & Maserati showroom. The Ford GT began life as a concept car designed in anticipation of the automaker’s centennial year and as part of its drive to showcase and revive its “heritage” names such as Mustang and Thunderbird. At the 2002 North American International Auto Show, Ford unveiled a new GT40 Concept car. Camilo Pardo, the then head of Ford’s “Living Legends” studio, is credited as the chief designer of the GT and worked under the guidance of J Mays. Carroll Shelby, the original designer of the Shelby GT 500, was brought in by Ford to help develop the GT; which included performance testing of the prototype car. While under development, the project was called Petunia. The GT is similar in outward appearance to the original GT40, but is bigger, wider, and most importantly 4 in (100 mm) taller than the original’s 40 in overall height; as a result, a potential name for the car was the GT44. Although the cars are visually related, structurally, there is no similarity between the modern GT and the 1960s GT40 that inspired it. Three pre-production cars were shown to the public in 2003 as part of Ford’s centenary celebrations, and delivery of the production version called simply the Ford GT began in the fall of 2004. As the Ford GT was built as part of the company’s 100th anniversary celebration, the left headlight cluster was designed to read “100”. A British company, Safir Engineering, who built continuation GT40 cars in the 1980s, owned the “GT40” trademark at that time. When production of the continuation cars ended, they sold the excess parts, tooling, design, and trademark to a small Ohio based company called Safir GT40 Spares. This company licensed the use of the “GT40” trademark to Ford for the initial 2002 show car. When Ford decided to put the GT40 concept to production stage, negotiations between the two firms failed, thus the production cars are simply called the GT. The GT was produced for the 2005 and 2006 model years. The car began assembly at Mayflower Vehicle Systems in Norwalk, Ohio and was painted and continued assembly at Saleen Special Vehicles facility in Troy, Michigan, through contract by Ford. The GT is powered by an engine built at Ford’s Romeo Engine Plant in Romeo, Michigan. Installation of the engine and transmission along with seats and interior finishing was handled in the SVT building at Ford’s Wixom, Michigan plant. Of the 4,500 cars originally planned, approximately 100 were to be exported to Europe, starting in late 2005. An additional 200 cars were destined for sale in Canada. Production ended in September 2006 without reaching the planned production target. Approximately 550 cars were built in 2004, nearly 1,900 in 2005, and just over 1,600 in 2006, for a grand total of 4,038 cars. The final 11 car bodies manufactured by Mayflower Vehicle Systems were disassembled, and the frames and body panels were sold as service parts. The Wixom Assembly Plant has stopped production of all models as of May 31, 2007. Sales of the GT continued into 2007, from cars held in storage and in dealer inventories.
It was SUV models from Jaguar which attracted my camera, with the all-electric I-Pace being the first one I spotted. This has arrived in the US since my last visit in September, at which time there were plenty of teaser announcements and placards to be seen in the showroom. It is here now, a rival to the domestically produced Tesla Model X, and a slew of other imminent arrivees, such as the Audi eTron and Mercedes’ EQ C. It will be interesting to see how America takes to it.
More intriguingly, around the back of the showrooms, I found an -Pace SVR. This car was promised to be available to Europeans for last summer following its Geneva Show debut in March 2018, but for reasons which were never really divulged, it failed to make it , and it is still eagerly awaited. And then there was one here, which appeared to be a production spec car, which had just arrived. I am guessing that had I gone into the showroom, I could have found out a little more, but I was running out of time when I came across this one and had to move on. There were plenty of examples of the regular F-Pace here, too.
This Diablo Roadster was actually at the back of the Ferrari showroom rather than in the Lamborghini one. At a time when the company was financed by the Swiss-based Mimran brothers, Lamborghini began development of what was codenamed Project 132 in June 1985 as a replacement for the Countach model. The brief stated that its top speed had to be at least 315 km/h (196 mph). The design of the car was contracted to Marcello Gandini, who had designed its two predecessors. When Chrysler bought the company in 1987, providing money to complete its development, its management was uncomfortable with Gandini’s designs and commissioned its design team in Detroit to execute a third extensive redesign, smoothing out the trademark’s sharp edges and corners of Gandini’s original design, and leaving him famously unimpressed. In fact, Gandini was so disappointed with the “softened” shape that he would later realise his original design in the Cizeta-Moroder V16T. The car became known as the Diablo, carrying on Lamborghini’s tradition of naming its cars after breeds of fighting bulls. The Diablo was named after a ferocious bull raised by the Duke of Veragua in the 19th century, famous for fighting an epic battle with ‘El Chicorro’ in Madrid on July 11, 1869 In the words of Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, the Diablo was designed “solely to be the biggest head-turner in the world.” The Diablo was presented to the public for sale on January 21, 1990. Its power came from a 5.7 litre 48-valve version of the existing Lamborghini V12 featuring dual overhead cams and computer-controlled multi-point fuel injection, producing a maximum output of 499 PS and 580 N·m (428 lb/ft) of torque. The vehicle could reach 100 km/h in about 4.5 seconds, with a top speed of 202 mph. The Diablo was rear-wheel drive and the engine was mid-mounted to aid its weight balance. The Diablo came better equipped than the Countach; standard features included fully adjustable seats and steering wheel, electric windows, an Alpine stereo system, and power steering from 1993 onwards. Anti-lock brakes were not initially available, although they would eventually be used. A few options were available, including a custom-moulded driver’s seat, remote CD changer and subwoofer, rear spoiler, factory fitted luggage set and an exclusive Breguet clock for the dash. The Diablo VT was introduced in 1993. Although the VT differed from the standard Diablo in a number of ways, by far the most notable change was the addition of all wheel drive, which made use of a viscous centre differential (a modified version of LM002’s 4WD system). This provided the new nomenclature for the car (VT stands for viscous traction). The new drivetrain could direct up to 25% of the torque to the front wheels to aid traction during rear wheel slip, thus significantly improving the handling characteristics of the car. Other improvements debuting on the VT included front air intakes below the driving lamps to improve brake cooling, larger intakes in the rear arches, a more ergonomic interior with a revised dashboard, electronically adjustable dampers, four-piston brake calipers, power steering, and minor engine refinements. Many of these improvements, save the four-wheel drive system, soon transferred to the base Diablo, making the cars visually nearly identical. Further updates would follow before the car gave way to the Murcielago in 2001. The Diablo sold in greater numbers than its predecessor with 2898 examples being made during its 11 year production life.
It is not going to be often that you see two examples of an Aventador SV-J on the same day, but that was the case here, with one in the showroom and another parked up outside. The Aventador SV-J was officially presented at the 2018 Pebble Beach event, and was acclaimed as the fastest Lamborghini you can buy new. With 759bhp and 531lb ft on tap, the SV-J (Superveloce Jota) matches the power output of the ultra-low-volume Centenario and is 29bhp more powerful than the Aventador S. This power figure is produced by a tuned version of Lamborghini’s naturally aspirated 6.5-litre V12 and is transmitted to the road through all four wheels. Four-wheel steering is also fitted, as per the Aventador S, but the SVJ builds upon the standard car’s agility with a second generation of its active aerodynamics system (ALA 2.0), with improvements over the first system including redesigned air inlets and aero channel designs. The system aided the SVJ in lapping the Nürburgring circuit in 6min 44.97sec – a new record for a production car. Lamborghini claims the SVJ’s downforce is 40% greater than that of the Aventador SV – its former performance flagship. Larger side air intakes, a huge rear wing, tweaked underbody with vortex generators and prominent rear diffuser and aerodynamic bodywork at the front help to achieve the improved aero figure. The chassis is tweaked for additional stiffness – a 50% stiffer anti-roll bar compared with the Aventador SV has been fitted, while the suspension’s damping force range is increased by 15% over the SV. Other tweaks to the suspension are claimed to improve the car’s on-track stability. A re-engineered exhaust system reduces back pressure and has been fettled to produce a “more emotive’ sound, as well as being lighter than the standard set-up, with higher exit points. Also among the mechanical upgrades is a tweaked seven-speed automated manual gearbox, while the four-wheel drive system now sends 3% more torque rearwards. The stability control and ABS systems are tweaked to accommodate the greater grip provided by the active aerodynamics. The car’s exclusive aluminium Nireo wheels are shod in specially made Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres and are stiffer, with a bespoke tread design for the Aventador SVJ. Lamborghini plans to build 900 SVJs, with UK prices starting at around £356,000. An additional 63 units will be produced in 63 Edition guise, of which the Pebble Beach reveal car is one, celebrating the brand’s 1963 inception. These feature a bespoke colour and trim and will carry a higher price tag than the regular SV-J.
The Urus has now reached America and is bound to do well, certainly in places like this. Whilst I was there, the salesman emerged from the showroom unlocked the car and took a gent and two kids out for a spin in it. It certainly sounds good enough when the engine is fired up.
Now well-established in the range is the Huracan. Replacing Lamborghini’s sales leader and most produced car, the Gallardo, the Huracán made its auto show debut at the March 2014 Geneva Auto Show, and was released in the second quarter of 2014. The name of the Huracan LP 610-4 comes from the fact that this car has 610 metric horsepower and 4 wheel drive. Huracán (huracán being the Spanish word for hurricane) is inspired by a Spanish fighting bull. Continuing the tradition of using names from historical Spanish fighting bulls, Huracán was a bull known for its courage that fought in 1879. Also Huracan is the Mayan god of wind, storm and fire. Changes from the Gallardo included full LED illumination, a 12.3 inch full-colour TFT instrument panel, Fine Nappa leather and Alcantara interior upholstery, redesigned dashboard and central tunnel, Iniezione Diretta Stratificata (IDS, essentially an adapted version of parent Audi’s Fuel Stratified Injection) direct and indirect gasoline injections, engine Stop & Start technology, EU6 emissions regulation compliance, Lamborghini Doppia Frizione (LDF) 7-speed dual-clutch transmission with 3 modes (STRADA, SPORT and CORSA), 20 inch wheels, carbon-ceramic brake system, optional Lamborghini Dynamic Steering variable steering system and MagneRide electromagnetic damper control. In early 2015, the Huracán appeared on Top Gear. It got a neutral review from Richard Hammond who said that it was too tame to be a “proper Lamborghini.” However, it got around the Top Gear test track in 1:15.8 which is faster than any other Lamborghini to go around the track to date, including the Aventador.
And the final Lamborghini on site was a Gallardo Spyder. During the 11 year production of this car, more Gallardo were made than any other Lamborghini in history, and the cars used to be a relatively common sighting but in the last couple of years, they almost all seem to have gone to ground.
Around the back of the showrooms, there is a special construction which simulates a fairly extreme off-road obstacle, and there are usually plenty of Land Rover models displayed, some at quite improbably looking angles, on and around this, and that was certainly the case here. I came across examples of all the current range, and the ones depicted here are the Discovery Sport, Range Rover Sport and the full-on Range Rover.
In the service area there was also an example of the previous generation Range Rover, the L322, which to my eyes still looks good, and not particularly outdated, even though the model has been out of production since 2012.
There are always long lines of Maserati models parked up outside the showroom and they make for a striking sight with almost the available colours on display. There were surprisingly few Quattroporte cars, so it is the Ghibli and Levante which feature in these photos.
Elsewhere on site was a Quattroporte V, a car that is still 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 do have a McLaren showroom in Scottsdale, but that is not here, so there tend not to be any brand new unregistered examples of the marque on site, but often there is the odd visitor and that was the case on this occasion, with this striking 720S parked up outside the Lamborghini showroom. This car – a complete replacement for the 650S – was a star of the 2017 Geneva Show, and it was clear on looking at it, that the Woking firm really is increasingly a serious threat to Ferrari’s supercar supremacy, even before learning that total sales in just five years of production had passed 10,000 units. The 720S was presented as the firm’s new core model and the first of 15 new-generation McLarens, half of which will be hybrids, promised by 2022 under CEO Mike Flewitt’s ambitious Track 22 development plan. The 720S obeys all existing McLaren design rules. It is a two-seat supercar based on an all-carbonfibre tub, with aluminium space frames carrying the front and rear suspension, and it is powered by a twin turbo V8. However, within that envelope, it has been redesigned and updated in every detail. The exterior introduces a new ‘double skin’ door construction that eliminates the need for the prominent side air scoops previously thought essential in supercar design, while the engine grows to 4.0 litres, up from 3.8-litres, and now produces 710bhp. McLaren has further developed its carbonfibre chassis tub and upper structure, taking lessons from previous models, including the P1. Now dubbed Monocage II, the structure is cited as the key to the 720S’s 1283kg dry weight, which undercuts all competitors and beats that of its predecessor by 18kg. Monocage II’s stiffness has allowed McLaren’s designers to give the 720S remarkably thin A-pillars, a deep windscreen, B-pillars set well back and slim, glazed C-pillars, all of which contribute to first-class all-round visibility for the driver. The body panels are made either of carbonfibre or superformed aluminium, and their novel shape plays a key role in the 720S’s impressive aerodynamic performance. Low down at the front there are anti-lift aero blades reminiscent of those on the P1, while ultra-compact LED headlights fit into frontal ‘eye sockets’ that allow room for vents to feed the air conditioning and oil cooler. The body sides incorporate channels, formed by two skins and flowing past the dihedral doors, so cooling air can be directed along the body into the engine bay, uninterrupted by turbulence and resulting in a 15% improvement in cooling airflow. On the outer, lower part of the doors, there are F1-inspired blades that direct air away from the front wheel arches, assisting downforce and cutting drag. A big under-body diffuser at the rear sweeps up from the 720S’s flat floor almost to its rear wing, where the two elements frame the ultra-thin LED tail-lights. Because the top of the 720S’s engine is a remarkable 120mm lower than that of the 650S, the car also has a low, teardrop-shaped engine cover that allows an uninterrupted flow of air over the roof to the hydraulically actuated rear wing, which has a DRS drag reduction setting for optimal straight-line performance, an Aero setting for downforce in corners and a Brake setting (which sets the wing a steep 56deg from the horizontal) to increase drag and improve chassis balance under heavy braking. The result, says McLaren, is that the wing has 30% more downforce and its aero efficiency (the ratio of downforce to drag) is doubled. McLaren claims “new heights of performance” from its expanded turbo V8, now re-engineered for a capacity of 3994cc, thanks to a 3.6mm lengthening of its stroke. The engine also has lighter pistons and conrods and a stiffer, lightened crank, plus twin-scroll turbochargers with faster-spooling turbines, capable of spinning at 145,000rpm, and electronically controlled wastegates. In total, 41% of the engine’s components are new. A cast aluminium air intake system, visible through the mesh engine cover, feeds extra air to the more potent engine that now uses two injectors per cylinder. But rather than simply pumping in more fuel, the improved injection system gives more accurate metering, which helps to cut CO2 emissions by around 10%, to a class-leading 249g/km. Combined economy falls by a similar percentage to 26.4mpg. The 720S’s peak output of 710bhp is produced at 7000rpm, while maximum torque of 568lb ft is delivered at 5500rpm. The engine, longitudinally mounted behind the occupants, drives as before through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox mounted end-on to the engine, but McLaren says further refinement of its control software brings smoother gearchanges at low speeds and faster, sharper shifts at higher speeds. The launch control has also been improved, and as before, there are three driving modes — Comfort, Sport and Track — that govern both engine and dynamics. The chassis weight savings, allied to other reductions in mass, including 2kg from the brakes, 3kg from the electrics and 1.5kg from the airboxes, contribute as much to the 720S’s enhanced performance as its 11% power increase. The power-to-weight ratio is now 553bhp per tonne (up 15%) and, according to McLaren, beats the best in the segment. As a result, McLaren claims a “crushing” 0-60mph time of just 2.8sec, 0-124mph in 7.8sec and a top speed of 212mph. The 720S will also dispatch a standing quarter-mile in 10.3sec, representing a blistering performance for a pure road car. To accompany the performance, the 720S has a carefully engineered engine note which can be further enhanced with an optional, louder, sports exhaust system. Despite its performance potential, McLaren is adamant that its new car is as easily handled by ordinary drivers as it is by experts, with throttle response calibrated to provide “the optimum blend of immediate reaction and progressive comfort”. Although only five years old, McLaren’s all-independent system of front and rear double wishbones has been completely re-engineered, both to allow wheel geometry changes and, thanks to a redesign of the uprights and wishbones, to cut unsprung mass by 16kg. The 720S has an updated version of the Proactive chassis control electronics used by the 650S. The system features hydraulically interlinked dampers at each corner that remove the need for anti-roll bars, but the big improvement for the 720S’s system, which is dubbed PCCII, results from new software developed during a six-year collaboration with the University of Cambridge and using sophisticated information gathered by 12 new sensors and accelerometers. The result is even better contact between the tyres and the road surface. The system can assess conditions and adjust the suspension every five milliseconds. It also includes a Variable Drift function, which allows you to slide the car without losing control, and McLaren Brake Steer, pioneered in F1, which enhances agility in corners and traction out of them by braking separate wheels. McLaren engineers have retained electro-hydraulic steering for the 720S, despite rivals’ adoption of electric only systems, because they still feel it gives superior “clarity of feel”. Brakes are large, ventilated carbon-ceramic discs and the tyres are specially developed Pirelli P Zeros, 245/35 ZR19s at the front (up from the 650S’s 235s) and 305/30 ZR20s at the rear. McLaren claims a 6% increase in mechanical grip, which is about the same advantage as fitting track-focused Pirelli Corsas to a 650S. Although the 720S closely follows the outgoing 650S in its major dimensions, there are differences between them. The thin pillars, the depth of the windscreen and the all-round glass give a commanding view to all points that modern supercar drivers will find surprising. The redesigned interior surfaces have been ‘pushed away’ from the occupants as much as possible, to further enhance the feeling of space. Unlock the door and various instrument and courtesy lights go through a welcome sequence as the mirrors unfold. Opening the door also triggers an elaborate sequence on the upright TFT screen which changes its configuration according to driving mode. The driver can also ‘declutter’ the instruments, for example when on a track, via a special Slim mode. There’s a central 8.0in infotainment screen on the centre console, with ventilation settings carried along the bottom. The layout of switches, most of which are machined from aluminium, is simple. Standard cabin trim and seats are plush but, as with previous models, colour and trim material upgrades are available. McLaren has already begun taking orders, with the first cars due to be delivered in May. The entry price in the UK was £207,900. All 400 units of the Launch Edition version were sold even before the general pubic saw the car though many of these then hit the pre-owned market quite quickly, traded in once owners could take delivery of a car in the spec that they really wanted. McLaren’s goal was to sell around 1200 – 1500 720S models a year and they seem to be achieving it.
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 model to present in this report is the one I came across on the Penske site. In fact this car was here not just at the time of my September 2018 visit, but also the previous March, but I noted that it does now bear “sold” signs, so have to assume that I won’t be seeing it again. It is an SL65 AMG Black Series, a version 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 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 is a large Porsche showroom almost at the southern end of the line, and then just beyond it there are lines of new and pre-owned cars parked up, as well as vast numbers always around the back, so you can expect to see almost every individual model version which has been offered in the past 20 years or so somewhere on site. Needless to say, most of them are from the most recent generations, and it is the 911 family that dominates. The new 992-version has not yet reached America, even though the model actually had its global premier on American soil at the Los Angeles Show back in November, so that meant that there were still lots of 991.2 generation cars on offer here. The ones which caught my particular attention included the GT3 and GT2 RS.
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 new third generation Cayenne has now reached America and there were plenty of these on show, along with its smaller relative, the Macan. The facelifted version is yet to arrive here.
Among the smaller sports cars, there were plenty of Cayman and Boxster models, and it was the Boxster Spyder which particularly seem to merit a photo and inclusion here.
Final Porsche of note was another 911, this one from the 993 generation.
Pride of place in the showroom went to the new Cullinan. I’ve seen a few of these at shows now, though hardly any on the roads, and familiarity is not really helping me to come to terms with it. For sure it is imposing in the way that a Rolls Rocye SUV should be, but it is far from elegant, and is, I would submit, a long way from generating the sort of positive and approving response of a traditional Rolls Royce. Needs must, I suppose, though as Bentley have found, whilst there is a market for cars of this size and price, it is not perhaps as big as had been fondly imagined. It will be interesting to see how well it sells. the lady in the showroom here told me that they had sold “quite a few”, though she was sufficiently vague that I had not way of knowing how many this might be and how close to any sales targets they might be.
Also in the showroom were examples of the latest Phantom, the eighth distinct generation to bear the name, the Wraith zn the Dawn.
Parked up outside, both in front and immediately behind the showroom complex were further examples of the Wraith as well as its close relatives, the Ghost and the Dawn.
Still very elegant even if by modern standards it does not dominate physically in size terms any more is the Corniche, seen here in Series I guise, as parked up behind the showrooms. This was a development of the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, with the two door variants of that model marketed as the “Silver Shadow Mulliner Park Ward two door fixed head coupé & drop head coupé” until March 1971 when the Corniche name was applied. The exterior design was by John Polwhele Blatchley. The model was assembled and finished in London at Mulliner Park Ward as continuation of the 1965 Silver Shadow coupe and 1966 drophead. A Bentley version was also sold, becoming known as the Continental in 1984. The Corniche, available as coupé or convertible, used the standard Rolls-Royce 6750 cc V8 engine with an aluminium-silicon alloy block and aluminium cylinder heads with cast iron wet cylinder liners. Twin SU carburettors were initially fitted, but were replaced with a single Solex 4A1 four-barrel carburetor introduced in 1977. A three-speed automatic transmission (a Turbo Hydramatic 350 sourced from General Motors) was standard. A four-wheel independent suspension with coil springs was augmented with a hydraulic self-levelling system (using the same system as did Citroën, but without pneumatic springs, and with the hydraulic components built under licence by Rolls-Royce), at first on all four, but later on the rear wheels only. Four wheel disc brakes were specified, with ventilated discs added for 1972. The car originally used a 119.75 in (3,042 mm) wheelbase. This was extended to 120 in (3,048 mm) in 1974 and 120.5 in (3,061 mm) in 1979. The Corniche received a mild restyling in the spring of 1977. Difference included rack-and-pinion steering, alloy and rubber bumpers, aluminium radiator, oil cooler and a bi-level air conditioning system was added. Later changes included a modified rear independent suspension in March 1979. In March 1981, after the Silver Spirit had gone on sale, the Coupé version of the Corniche and its Bentley sister were discontinued. For 1985 there were also cosmetic and interior changes. Corniche models received Bosch KE/K-Jetronic fuel injection in 1977. This engine, called the L410I, produced approximately 240 PS at just above 4,000 rpm for a top speed of 190 km/h (118 mph). The Bentley version was updated in July 1984 with a new name, the Continental, revised and colour-coded bumpers, rear view mirrors, a new dash and improvements to the seats. Production totalled 1090 Rolls-Royce Corniche Saloons, 3239 Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertibles, 69 Bentley Corniche Saloons and 77 Bentley Corniche Convertibles.
Also in the front of the Maserati showroom as this car which we like to think of as a Dodge Viper, but whose correct name is the SRT-10. This is an example of the fifth and final generation of a model that first hit production in 1993. At a dealer conference on September 14, 2010 in Orlando, Florida, the then Chrysler Group and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne was reported to have concluded his remarks by unveiling a rolling 2012 Dodge Viper prototype. There would be no 2011 model year Viper produced. The 2013 SRT Viper was unveiled at the 2012 New York Auto Show. Preliminary specifications include the following: All-aluminium 8,382 cc V10 engine producing 640 bhp at 6,150 rpm and 600 lb/ft (813 Nm) of torque at 4,950 rpm; Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission with final drive ratio 3.55, 50 percent improvement in torsional stiffness over previous model; Electronic stability control, traction control, 4-channel anti-lock brake system (ABS), carbon fibre and aluminium skin with 0.364 drag coefficient (Cd), Pirelli P Zero Z-rated tyres, 4-piston Brembo brakes with fixed-aluminium calipers with vented 355x32mm diameter rotors; 20 mm lower seating position, 7-inch full-colour customizable instrument cluster, Uconnect RA3 or RA4 Access in-vehicle connectivity system with optional SiriusXM Travel Link and a Harman Kardon audio system; Bi-xenon projector headlamps with white light-emitting diode (LED) daytime running lamps and LED turn signals, LED taillamps with integrating stop-and-turn illumination and snakeskin texture lens; a maximum speed of 208 mph (332 km/h) and a 0-60 mph acceleration time of 3.50 seconds. The only notable change for the 2014 model year was the addition of a third traction control mode for improved rain performance. Sales of the Viper for 2013 and 2014 were poor. In October 2013, the Viper production was reduced by 1/3 due to low sales and growing inventory. In April 2014, production ceased for over two months due to slow sales. Dodge addressed the issue by reducing the price of unsold 2014 models by US$15,000 and announced the 2015 models would carry the new, lower price tag. In 2015, the SRT Viper was renamed the Dodge Viper and the engine received an extra 5 hp, raising the maximum power output to 645 bhp, resulting in the improvement of highway fuel economy to 20mpg. The SRT Viper has made several video game appearances in the Forza Motorsport franchise in both the road version and the race-spec GTS-R Model, as does in the Horizon titles (where only the road-going GTS is in those installments and not the GTS-R), Need For Speed: Most Wanted (2012), Need for Speed: Rivals in which the GTS variant is in cop form and the Time Attack (TA) being a racer as a pre-order exclusive, Need For Speed: No Limits, Need for Speed, Gran Turismo 6 in both the standard GTS and the launch edition models in the game, Real Racing 3, Driveclub as one of the DLC cars in the Downforce expansion pack, and Gran Turismo Sport with both the road-going GTS and the GT3-R. In October 2015, Fiat Chrysler group announced that the Viper would end production in 2017. Initially, Fiat Chrysler cited poor sales as a reason for discontinuing the Viper; however, other sources have stated the car was discontinued because the Viper was unable to comply with FMVSS 226 safety regulation, which requires side curtain air bags. In July 2017, Fiat Chrysler announced they would be permanently closing the Conner Assembly Plant on August 31, 2017.
This was another showroom that I did not enter, even though had I done so, I am sure that I would have found a number of beautifully presented Beetles and Type 2 vehicles, as these are pretty much a permanent feature of the displays here. Looking around outside there were plenty of examples of most of the different model ranges on offer to US buyers. Not all of these will be familiar to Europeans, as local tastes are catered for by products that are made either at the Chattonooga, TN factory or even imported from Mexico. The car that will be most familiar to Europeas is the New Beetle, seen here in Cabrio guise. It has been widely reported for some time now that 2019 will be the last model year for new Beetle, and that the model will not be replaced (at least not for now).
Also here were a couple of models which are specific to the US market and one which although available in Europe barely registered as sales were so low. The unfamiliar ones have a name which is well known and one which is not. The first of these is the Passat, but the US market model is different to the European one, with a larger body and a reduced choice of engines as well as being tuned more for comfort than any form of Nurburgring-optimised sportiness. A name that is not used in Europe is Atlas and this is a US-built 7-seater SUV which is now at the top of the range given the decision not to sell the third generation Touareg in America. Although the styling – looking like a slightly stretched Tiguan – is rather forgettable, it is by all accounts a very good car, near or at the top of its class, and perhaps one which will help VW to achieve the greater sales volume they have been seeking for so many years. Final car of note was the Jetta – seen here in its previous and now superceded guise.
As ever, an interesting couple of hours, well worth fitting into the schedule, and a further chapter to my series of photos and reports that chronicle the evolution of the featured brands and also the development of a large automotive retail site. There should be another chapter to this when I return in September 2019.