F1

The sparkling wine of Ferrari Trento is being splashed around by the winners at the F1 podium

Formula 1 celebrates with sparkling wine from Italian winemaker Ferrari Trento – They have been the official partner of the competition since 2021. Fabienne Amez-Droz visits the alpine city of Trento, tastes their different wines and experiences the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix first hand.

Ferrari Trento is the “Official toast of Formula One,” celebrated globally by drivers spraying each other with sparkling wine at the end of the races. The Ferrari Trento vineyards are located in Trento, nearby the dolomites mountains in Italy, and the company is, as many would suspect, unrelated to the Ferrari racing team. Actually the Ferrari Trento family company came first – their business dates back to the early automobile era, predating Enzo Ferrari’s first race car. But the brand’s name recognition has been clearly beneficial.

villa

The family-owned Villa Margon in Trento, situated above the vineyards, is a Renaissance-era estate with 16th-century frescoes.

Founded in 1902 by Giulio Ferrari, the business was sold to Bruno Lunelli, a local wine shop owner, in 1952. Since then, the brand seeks to communicate “The italian art of living” with its costumers worldwide.

Today it is managed by the third generation of the Lunelli family with Matteo Lunelli as CEO and President of the family business. Ferrari Trento’s other executive family member is its vice-president, Camilla Lunelli, niece of Bruno. A story that does the rounds in northern Italy is that Bruno was friends with Enzo Ferrari, and Enzo once expressed interest in investing in his namesake wine company, although the Lunelli family declined, as they wanted to keep it as a family business.

The family has an estate, called Villa Margon, located above the vineyards, where you can walk around the ancient building, gardens and learn about the family’s history. The Villa is covered in-and outside with frescoes dating back to the 16th-century. A little drive further down from the estate, you can find their big, modern winery, where they produces all of their so-called Trentodoc‘s, available in six different lines – each of which expresses its own distinctive characteristics.

Trento DOC (Denominazione di origine controllata), commonly known as Trentodoc, is an appellation for white and rosé sparkling wine made in Trento in Italy. They produce the sparkling wines with a traditional method, just like Champagne. In this method, the second fermentation occurs in the bottle, creating the bubbles. Along with Franciacorta, it is a region of Italy widely considered to make world-class sparkling wines, leagues above cheap Prosecco.

After visiting the large Ferrari Trento winery in the valley, Camilla Lunelli invited me to the Michelin-starred Restaurant Locanda Margon  and explained all of the different sparkling wines, which they offer and how to pair them with a gourmet meal.

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The modern Ferrari Trento winery in the valley can store 20 million bottles, with over six million sold last year.

Read more: 6 Questions: Matteo Lunelli, CEO & President of Ferrari Trento

For this year’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in Imola, I was hosted by the Lunelli- Ferrari Trento- family. This particular racing track is one of the most well-known racing venues in the history of the Italian Grand Prix’s and 2024 marks the 30 years anniversary since the deadly accident of Brazilian F1-driver Ayrton Senna (1960-1994).

For the Imola Race, the brand designed a special Ferrari Trento bottle in honour of Senna which has been signed by the winning drivers: Max Verstappen, Charles LeClerc and Lando Norris, and it will be up for auction for the Senna Foundation in Brazil.

The Ferrari Trento Team took me around the Paddock and gave me an intimate tour of the Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber– garage to show what it would be like, to be down there during a race. You could see the Netflix “Drive to survive” camera team taking shots for the show. An experience worth celebrating!

champagne

The bottle of Ferrari Trento designed in honour of Ayrton Senna for the Imola Grand Prix 2024

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red car
red car

The Ferrari 275 is a series of front-engined V12-powered grand touring automobiles with two-seater coupé and spider bodies produced between 1964 and 1968

Sweden is not the first country that comes to mind when thinking of automotive nirvana, but Paris-based auction house Artcurial has found a treasure trove there that it is putting to auction in Monaco this week. The main feature is a selection of beautiful Porsche 911s from the pre-1997 switch to water-cooled engines: there’s something for every Porsche aficionado, at almost every budget. There are some deliciously specified examples being sold on behalf of a Swedish collector with impeccable taste. It is also cleverly marketed as a no-reserve auction, with some eye-catchingly low estimates: a surefire way to attract interest. Go, enjoy, but beware of overpaying in the heat of the no-reserve moment.

Matthieu Lamoure from Artcurial says:

This W Collection, owned by Staffan Wittmark, is exceptional because it represents the culmination of a man’s lifelong passion for creation. As European importer of the ready-to-wear brand Gant and the brand’s artistic director, he studied design and put together the models in his collection with a rare aesthetic sensibility. His 26 Porsches, presented in the sale, work by color pair, for example, and by model. He defined the codes of his collection by growing up on the streets of Stockholm with a taste for line and design excellence. For this reason, three major brands have marked his passion: Porsche, Ferrari and Mercedes. For him, the lines created by Pininfarina for Ferrari represent the pinnacle of aerodynamic elegance.

Follow LUX on instagram @luxthemagazine

car

The Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing is a two-seat sports car that was produced by Mercedes-Benz from 1954 to 1957 as a gullwinged coupé and from 1957 to 1963 as a roadster

The second important parameter of this collection is that Staffan Wittmark has decided to entrust his collection to the market, with no reserve price. He is turning the page like a collector who has reached the end of one project and is ready to start another. We will therefore start the auction at 50% of the low estimate, allowing all buyers to try their luck. What’s also exceptional is the condition of the cars. They are either fully restored, like the 9 Ferraris certified by the Ferrari factory, or the Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing and Roadster.

car

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL was capable of reaching speeds of up to 263 km/h (163 mph), earning it a reputation as a sports car racing champion and making it the fastest production car of its time

Read more: BMW XM Review

To find 44 cars offered by a single owner gives the ensemble a wonderful provenance. and in such restored condition is a rare element in any collection.

Quality, provenance, exclusivity and passion are the watchwords of this fabulous sale!

car

The designation “SL” is an abbreviation of the German term “super-leicht,” meaning “super-light,” a reference to the car’s racing-bred lightweight construction

 

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Car driving in front of a cliff
Car driving in front of a cliff

The new BMW XM is the first high-performance car from BMW M GmbH with an electrified drive system

BMW’s sporting flagship promises to be the best of its luxury SUV division, combined with the best of its racy M division. Does it deliver?

Many large SUVs are dramatically imposing, aggressive vehicles that look like they are as likely to declare war on Mars as get you to your destination. Which is fine if you are a certain type of person or in a certain mood. But not always.

The BMW XM is certainly a large SUV. It is also a kind of flagship of the company’s range, combining, in an adaptation of their own words, the best of its SUV division (X) with the best of its sports division (M).

It doesn’t need a racing driver to tell you that a huge, tall wide vehicle is not necessarily best suited to a racing purpose; and nor is a racing car mush suited to carrying several people wearing Etro and Patek Philippe and Off White around in comfort.

But in the manner of an athletic rugby forward, or a centre back, the XM carries off that blend of athleticism and muscle.

car inside

Unique exterior design twinned with luxurious interior that showcases the ‘M Lounge’ concept

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What is particularly interesting about the car is that while it looks dramatic and striking, it manages not to look aggressive. Perhaps because of its hybrid nature, it gives off an element of futuristic electric vibe.

It’s also great fun to drive, even in town. BMW have somehow managed to endow it with responsive steering, and very flat cornering, it feels astonishingly agile for a car the size of a small hotel. Like all hybrids, it is very relaxing to drive an electric mode, and when the engine kicks in, you get an overlay of sound.

The nature of the sound divided our passengers: Some thought it sounded cool and racy, others said that such a sophisticated looking car should be seen and felt rather than heard. It’s not as noisy as a Lamborghini SUV, but it’s much louder than a Bentley Bentayga or Rolls-Royce Cullinan. Happy medium or compromise? Probably in the eye of the beholder.

Read more: Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Review

What sure is that this is a magnificent long-distance vehicle. Back seat passengers get smart, detachable branded leather cushions. (even the plug-in charging cables in the boot/trunk are housed in a rather striking leather overnight bag), there is masses of legroom and a feeling of a huge amount of space and light in the car, and also that the rear seats are well designed, unlike in some of these vehicles where you end up sitting very upright. A journey between London and Oxford was devoured in one gulp without anybody noticing the in between.

Speaking of gulps, in the past an SUV of this size would have been planet-wearingly thirsty, but due to its engine efficiency and electrical assistance, the XM is remarkably frugal – more so than many cars half its size and power.

Car driving on a cliff

The high-performance Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) is powered by a newly developed plug-in hybrid system delivering 653hp and 800Nm of torque

Criticisms? Apart from the size, which you have to be able to deal with f you are buying a car like this, the entertaining and sporty nature of the driving experience means that the ride is quite firm. Don’t expect a limousine here – for that you should look at this car’s I7 sibling. But if you can live with that, this is quite the car.

www.bmw.com

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Green field with a little house in the middle
Family of different generations sitting on a stone wall

The family Drouhin grew up in the vineyards and acquired a deep understanding of wine alongside their father, Robert Drouhin. They all have their own role and they share the same passion for wine

Veronique Drouhin was not supposed to run one of the world’s most celebrated wine producers. The scion of a family with holdings throughout Burgundy and beyond, she was born with the odds stacked against her in two ways: she was the second child, where traditionally the elder child took on the family business; and she was a woman in the very mannish world of wine.

“I did not think, when I was at school, that things would end up the way they did,” the urbane, lively head of Maison Drouhin says ahead of our tasting of some of her finest wines. But her elder brother, Philippe, decided that he wanted to devote his energies to being in the vineyards, making the wines great rather than running the company. And Veronique, although she is too modest to say so directly, showed the commercial nous required to take the company forward in the 21st century.

Drouhin is famed for making wines of finesse, vibrancy and balance. That was not necessarily always a plus point: there was a time earlier this century when many consumers of fine wines thought that the more powerful a wine was, the better. And being the head of a negotiant-producer, which both owns its own vineyards and buys grapes from small producers with their own vineyards, was also a double-edged sword as high-end consumers sought out tiny production boutiquewineries as a status symbol.

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But the pendulum has swung the other way, both on style, with finesse and balance most definitely back in vogue, and in terms of consumer demand, as the cost of wines from tiny producers shot upwards beyond sustainable levels. Drouhin, which makes wines from some of Burgundy’s most hallowed vineyards, suddenly looked like excellent value as well as high quality.

If there is a grace to the wines – more on which in our tasting notes below – there is also a grace to the head of the Maison. When I ask what she would have likely done if she had not been born into a major French wine dynasty, Veronique replies that she might have become a music. I can imagine her playing a Chopin sonata as much as I can imagine her tasting her wines or hosting a collector’s dinner.

Read more: A tasting of Dana Estate wines

Wine cellar

After carefully harvesting the precious fruits of a year’s labour, Maison Drouhin let their vines enter a period of rest, an enchanted interlude called dormancy.

Drouhin makes wines at a variety of price points: just days before this tasting of some of their highest-end wines, which costs hundreds of pounds/euros/dollars a bottle, I partook of a bottle of a more lowly Drouhin Savigny-les-Beaune red Burgundy, from the fulsome 2020 vintage, at a London restaurant. It was delicious, balanced, moreish; and very much in the style of all the others. But if you are seeking a high end Burgundy at a relatively reasonable price, look to the below.

The Drouhin tasting. Tasting notes by Darius Sanai

Whites:

Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos, 2018

The Chablis brand might suggest a certain austerity and steeliness; this grand cru, from one of the most celebrated vineyards, had that but also breadth, depth and white nectarines. Very classy and surprisingly powerful; a Jaguar E-type of a wine.

Green field with a little house in the middle

The harvest date is determined through regular samplings. Maison Drouhin closely monitors the health and maturation of the grapes.

Beaune Clos des Mouches, 2019

A white wine from Beaune? Sacré bleu – or sacré blanc!  But what a wine this rare and prized bottling is. Rounded, rich fruit with freshness and sex appeal and a lot of layers. An open-topped classic two-seater Mercedes SL from the 1980s.

Chassagne Montrachet Premier Cru Morgeot, Marquis de Laguiche, 2019

From Chablis we headed south through the forest of the Plateau de Langres (Chablis is not connected to the rest of the Burgundy vineyards), over the continental divide and down to Beaune. Now we travel a few kilometres further south, with the Cote d’Or hills rising to our right, in our 1973 Porsche 911S, in a solid period dark green. That’s what this wine is: super-elegant, precise, crafted, stunning.

Multiple wine bottles standing next to each other

The harvest date is determined through regular samplings. Maison Drouhin closely monitors the health and maturation of the grapes.

Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, 2019

Back up the road we go, past Beaune, to the rounded Hill of Corton. Corton Charlemagne is one of the most celebrated white Burgundies, and this is a beautiful interpretation, with stony fruits and the complexity to match a three Michelin-starred chef’s signature Escoffier-style white fish main course. A 1960s Citroen DS Decapotable (in black, with cream leather) of a wine.

Reds:

Volnay Premier Cru Clos des Chênes 2018

Such finesse, a wine that only hints at its true depth of first sip, then keeps speaking with you, reciting poetry in your ear.

Beaune Premier Cru Clos des Mouches 2018

Beaune is only a few kilometres away from Volnay, and this wine is made with the same, pinot noir, grape variety by the same producer: yet while retaining Drouhin’s finesse, this has power and muscularity. Like a Duke from the court of Louis XIV expounding on the virtues of his house musicians.

Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru Les Amoureuses 2009

On first sip, this is a balanced, structured and slightly delicate red Burgundy. By the end of the second glass, it’s an artist, a pianist, a poet and a dancer – and not a particularly chaste dancer. A Chippendale from the 2000s, or a brilliant burlesque; all at the same time. Astonishing.

Chambertin Clos de Beze 2003

This is a wine you would have at your last supper, with capon, truffle, caviar and tripe sweetbreads (and maybe some pommes dauphinoise). Like a Falstaffian royal performing a perfect ballet while reciting Rumi.

domainedrouhin.com

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Curator Angeliki Kim Perfetti has created a supercar-themed exhibition to match the celebrated vehicles at Kiklo Spaces, outside London. She writes for LUX of her inspirations to bring high quality art to a revered location for motoring enthusiasts

text with light installation

The exhibition features artworks by Ed Ruscha, Polly Morgan, Johan Deckmann and Nancy Cadogan among others, interspersed with some classic supercars of the last four decades

Love is a language that we all speak, and here within the exhibition di nome e di fatto:
LOVE /𝐥ʌ𝐯/, brings together an infinite collection of references to art history, visual culture and contemporary storytelling that is reflecting on and relating to the many topics of love.

red graphic text painting

Love runs through the exhibition as a fil rouge and presents eleven artists who are united in their diversity and their works forms a presentation of text, abstraction, light, figure, colour, and form.

Ultimately, LOVE /𝐥ʌ𝐯/ is a dynamic feel-good exhibition featuring an eclectic group of artists. Who are working across a variety of media from sculpture, traditional work on canvas, photography, light installation to mirror, whilst exploring the many topics of love.

Juliette Loughran, founder of Loughran Gallery, said, “We wanted to start the year on a high, uniting audiences and artists with the most powerful human emotion of all.

Love drives everything we do and this exhibition will explore its significance in art history with Dynamisk founder Angeliki Kim Perfetti, in the first of what we hope will be many collaborations.”

car in art gallery

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LOVE /lʌv/ runs 4 March – 31 May 2024 at Loughran Gallery

See More: loughrangallery.co.uk

Angeliki Kim Perfetti is the Founder of Dynamisk, Independent Curation and Art Advisory

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A grey car in the mountains with snow
A grey car in the mountains with snow

The Audi TT RS is the last of a line of iconic sports cars

We review the last, and most high-performance, iteration of a German design classic. Will it live up to its iconic status among motoring aficionados?

It is likely that at sometime in the midterm future, the vision of our tech rulers in Silicon Valley will come true and cars with a longer be personalised transportation, but rather another form of public transport. Your self-driving electric car will not be yours at all, but will arrive and take you to your destination, before moving on to someone else. No more streets lined with parked cars: cars will be in constant use.

There are obvious attractions to this concept, but one negative is the lack of ownership. As well as being a piece of property, a car has always been a statement about the kind of person you are. Are you functional, flashy, flamboyant, drab?

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A car has also always been a signifier of class, whether or not we want it to be. Some manufacturers’ products were aligned with the working classes (or “masses“ as Karl Marx put it). Other brands, not necessarily more expensive, might suggest you are an architect, a designer, an intellectual.

All of that will stop when our new future comes into play, just as a collection of LP records as a signifier of what kind of taste you have is irrelevant in the era of music streaming.

Which takes us to the Audi TT. Like its little cousin the VW Golf, it’s one of those cars that cross class, income and demographic boundaries. When it was first produced in the 1990s, it was an instant design classic, gathering crowds on the street, despite the fact that it was far cheaper than flashy supercars: the TT is a mid market machine accessible to most of the world is mass affluent. It was the way it looked, inside and outside, that set it apart.

The model has gone through several iterations since then, and is perhaps less of an icon than it once was, Still, it carries a vaguely universal aura. It’s a car that could be driven by a graphic designer, an influencer, or a car enthusiast – a confluence very few, if any, other cars can boast of.

But the sad news is that, technology and the world going the way they are, this will be the last iteration of this modern classic. The TT has always been known a little more for its looks and panache than for its driving brilliance, so we wondered what to expect when stepping into the most driver-focused model, the TT RS. Would it be a poor relation to the excellent range of sports cars that are available at this mid price point?

It certainly feels like a sports car to sit in, seats holding you tight, with a cool, driver focused dashboard, and interior. The engine sounds suitably responsive and growly, like a child making engine noises (something that will soon be a thing of the past).

A steering wheel and car interior in black leather

The TT RS has a snug, driver-focussed interior, perfect for two people

The positive experience continues as you set off down the road and go round the first corner. The steering feels chunky, muscular, and responsive all at the same time. Many cars these days have swapped that type of sensation for the ease of lightness, so you can drive with one finger. Not so this one. Keep your hands on the wheel, you feel exactly where you are aiming at, and it goes there.

The Audi TT RS has four-wheel-drive, which means that when you start becoming more enthusiastic, it sticks to the road, even if it is damp or slippery. However, the flipside compared to its rear wheel drive rivals is that its cornering is just a little bit less agile, more surefooted, but, or an empty road, less thrilling. So, more sensation at slow speeds due to the excellent steering, But less joy when really pushing on due to its bias towards safety. And that may suit many, on the crowded road spaces of today.

Read more: McLaren 720S Roadster Review

It’s a fast car also, and feels it, zipping up and down through the gears, with a highly efficient gearbox which you can take joy in snapping up and down with the steering-column mounted paddles, Otherwise it changes gears rapidly and efficiently for you, with no shortage of sensation – again, something that is being sacrificed on the altar of ease and efficiency otherwise.

Unlike some of its sports car competitors, there are even small back seats in the coupe version that we drive – the sharp looking convertible version does without these sadly.

Are we saying that the final iteration of the Audi TT, a reference point for contemporary design in cars, is actually a little old-fashioned? Possibly, and we think it is all the better for it. It looks cool without looking showy, it’s compact, speedy, and fun. There are better cars of its price point if you want to go on a race track or spend your time on perfect country roads all the time, but the TT RS has a charm and focus all of its own, and is a delight to drive around town as well. And it still looks cool.

Find out more: audi.co.uk

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Gold sports car parked in the desert
Gold sports car parked in the desert

A perfectionist car that offers precision engineering, precision steering and immense speed

Darius Sanai sets off in a McLaren that promises both rawness and refinement

Anyone buying a car like this is likely to have a number of other cars – and even other McLarens – in their stable. Perhaps they have a couple in every home, or a selection of variants of the breed in a country garage. This also means that, more likely than not, a car such as this will only see occasional use. There will be many other cars, some just for fun, others to carry out rather more mundane activities.

So the motivation for buying such a car can often come from the particular emotions that the knowledge of ownership and the driving experience – however fleeting – offers. Some supercars are all about flamboyance; others are about emotions and actions, or at least claim to be.

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In a couple of days of driving the 720S, it soon becomes clear what any owner will fall in love with about this car. Precision. The precision is there as soon as you turn the wheel, with the steering having a focused, perfectly weighted, granular feel superior to that of any of its rivals. Precision engineering is there also in its ability to smooth our bumps, which in many of its competitors are sharply transmitted to both driver and passenger.

This all translates to a feeling, when driving fast on good roads, that you are piloting a piece of exactitude that you could place to the nearest millimetre on the road, and which will respond with exactly as much performance as you need, according to how you bend your right ankle.

brown leather seats in a car with a window above the seats to see the sky

The elegantly understated interior of the McLaren 720S Roadster

Cornering in the McLaren is flat and low, but with a real sense of being connected to the road. It is not exactly raw, as there is much too much refinement and evident engineering to hand. But it is also far from being remote or too light to steer, like some competitors.

Anyone who has met McLaren’s modern founding father, Ron Dennis, will see his DNA in this car: it is in a pursuit of perfection that brooks no compromise. And that perfection is not just reflected in its performance and abilities; it is there in the comfort and refinement of a car that has every reason to have neither. Oh, and this is very, very fast – even at five times the price, a seven-figure hypercar would have difficulty shaking off a 720S.

We liked the interior, which is rather on the understated side for this type of car. It is efficient and swathed in the fake suede that high-performance car manufacturers seem to love. It is distinctive without being flamboyant in the low, quite central, seating positions – this is not a car in which you would take a passenger you dislike.

Read more: Porsche Reviews Series: 718 Cayman GTS and 718 Boxster GTS 

One question we always ask about supercars concern their looks: how crazy, or otherwise, should they be? Here, McLaren has chosen to sit firmly in the middle between the sometimes rather understated recent creations of Ferrari, and the wild-looking cars of Lamborghini.

The 720S is currently being replaced by an updated model, so, if it matters to you, you may be able to get quite a good deal on this one. It is still one of the fastest cars anywhere on the road. And, as a pinnacle of car engineering, it is a must for any collection of normal production (as opposed to limited-edition) supercars.

LUX Rating: 19/20. A contemporary classic.

mclaren.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

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A yellow Porsche on a country road with fields in the background
A yellow Porsche on a country road with fields in the background

The Porsche 911 GTS is a sportier addition to the model lineup

Porsche has a unique place in the automotive canon. Its history, racing and heritage, combined with a stream of some of the most evolving and precisely engineered cars, mean it is beloved by collectors. And in recent years, the company has made approachably-priced sports cars that are still a paragon of excitement for those who cannot or do not want to stretch to the more exotic offerings. It has also branched out into family cars, SUVs and the highly dynamic electric Taycan. In a tribute to a brand which is synonymous with German engineering and carries with it a geeky spirit that appeals to those who might collect mechanical watches, in this series we review some of the company’s most interesting contemporary offerings

The greatest consumer products are not those which undergo brilliant reinventions, but those which quietly evolve while remaining seemingly the same. A Birkin bag, a bottle of Château Latour, and an iPad are easily recognisable from their predecessors 40, 20 and 10 years ago.

The Porsche 911 stands at the pinnacle of this list when applied to the automotive world. It was a bit of an anomaly when it first emerged in the early 1960s, with is engine in the back, just in front of the bumper, and a bug eyed look. Porsche had plans to replace it with a completely different model, the 928, in the 1970s. Yet 20 years later, it was the 928 that disappeared into the history books, while the 911, continually refreshed every few years.

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The 911 itself has spawned many different variants: from race specials that only ever increase in value, to increasingly mainstream standard cars that can be driven by anyone and have no shortage of supply. Somewhere between these categories, of the ubiquitous “standard” 911 and the rare GT models, is the GTS.

The steering wheel and controls inside a Porsche 911 GTS

The Alcantara and cloth interiors of the 911 GTS

To drive, the GTS is traditionally somewhere between the company’s more exotic offerings and its mainstream sports cars. The logic behind the GTS is that you wouldn’t want to drive a collectors car every day on the school run or to go shopping. Though having driven the three first iterations of the GTS since it was first introduced in 2010, we can attest that if these excellent cars were made in limited quantities, rather than as a main manufacturer run, we have no doubt that this car would be bought over by collectors in years to come.

And here is the fourth iteration: the 992 GTS, 992 being the model designation for the latest variant of the 911.

Get into the latest 911 GTS after driving the next model down, the Carrera S, and the subtle, iterative, intriguing, differences, are almost immediately apparent. The interior has touches of Alcantara and cloth, and appears more bespoke, less factory made. As soon as you go round the first corner, the steering, good enough in the standard car, feels a little bit more taut, more sharp.

Read more: Porsche Reviews Series: 718 Cayman GTS and 718 Boxster GTS

The GTS is also more responsive around a series of corners, both in its engine response and the way it handles – and the way it sounds. It’s a bit faster and punchier, has more aural sensation, has a more muscular frame, or so it seems, while still being virtually as easy to drive as the standard models. The more specialist “GT” models, in comparison, take commitment and effort, ideal if you are racing around but much less fun in everyday reality for most of us.

Meanwhile the differences with the base cars are subtle, but just like the 911 evolution, many subtle differences add up to a big difference. We think the latest GTS is as compelling as any of its predecessors and its the 911 we would be buying if we were in the market now. You can even get it with manual transmission, unlike a Ferrari or a Lamborghini, if you are a truly committed driver; or as a convertible, unlike its more “collectible” sisters. Enjoy now while we are permitted.

Find out more: porsche.com/uk/models/911

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Collage of black and white digital artworks

A collage of works from Ash Thorp’s ‘Nascent’ series (2022)

California-based Ash Thorp is a digital artist who creates complex, conceptual artworks. LUX met him recently at a solo show of his works on the giant screens of the W1 Curates space in Soho, London, during the Frieze Art Fair, an exhibition supported by uber-creative super luxury watch brand Richard Mille. We caught up with him in his studio in San Diego, southern California, to speak about past projects, future plans, and the tide of digital art.

LUX: You first started with traditional art and then transferred into digital art. Does digital art creates more of a dialogue between the art and viewer than traditional art?
Ash Thorp: All forms of art serve diverse purposes and employ their own unique mechanisms to engage viewers. For me, the key distinction with the dialogue digital art creates is its symbiotic relationship with the advancement of humanity. Technology plays a pivotal role in shaping our world in this current era and digital art is intricately linked to it. It mirrors the current state of our society and reflects our ongoing transformation as a species. This connection introduces multifaceted levels of engagement, contributing utility and value, not just to the artist but also to the audience.

LUX: You have mentioned a 80/20 rule in our discussions about your art.  Can you elaborate this?
AT: I strive to supply 80% of the context and intention of the artwork, and then invite you, the viewer, to extrapolate and complete the remaining 20% based on your own narration. The hope of this artistic intention is to prompt you to apply your own personal values, make predictions, form estimations, and view the piece through your unique lens. My role is merely to provide an initial platform upon which you can create further dialogue. I believe that art is most potent when it transforms into a conversation between the creator’s intent and the viewer’s interpretation by provoking questions, stimulating thoughts, and evoking emotions.

I welcome and value this engagement with my work, urging viewers to explore further and contemplate the underlying themes and ideas that elicit their thoughts and feelings.

An array of brightly coloured pills

The Happiness Pills from Thorp’s ‘Nascent’ Series’

LUX: Is training in traditional art fundamental to the practice of digital art?
AT: I believe in order to develop a profound understanding of any chosen pursuit, it is important to understand its origin and then dedicate yourself to its further exploration. This journey of self-discovery involves understanding one’s place in the artistic landscape, appreciating the work of those who came before, and gaining insights into how they expressed themselves. My early exposure to the traditional fundamentals of art during my formative years provided invaluable insights into the development of my current artistic practice. Absorbing as much knowledge as possible from all pathways will help cultivate a diverse and enriched mind, thereby benefitting both the individual and the broader world.

LUX: AI is, of course, the buzz topic of the current moment. How do you think it will shape our view of digital art?
AT: The ever-present allure of being introduced to anything new and technologically significant is a phenomenon that can be very captivating; in the realm of art currently, this is the integration of AI. While AI can provide an alluring spectrum of possibilities, allowing it to assume a dominant role in the creative process doesn’t evoke the same intrinsic value for me. I believe the essence of artistry is found in the triumphs and pitfalls, of creating it, and being able to experience the pure joy and raw emotions resulting from personal exploration and discovery.

Two images on panels one dark and one light

Balaclava by Ash Thorp from the ‘Nascent’ series

LUX: Do you feel that the AI-employed art is still yours?
AT: The ethical considerations surrounding the use of AI, particularly in generating content, hinge on the specifics of the training model and the group of data utilized. Before AI, plagiarism was more easily tracked back to a distinct source and straightforwardly deemed a transgression in any form of communication. Now we seem to be entering a new era without transparency and a range of polarizing answers to this question. The implications of this ongoing debate will profoundly change the art industry and the world. Ultimately, our actions should not deprive oneself or others of an authentic mind and voice.

LUX: In terms of collecting and selling, how will new concepts such as crypto art, blockchain and NFTs change finances in the art world?
AT: The value of art has always been subjective, based on its own unique currency determined by those who acknowledge and collect it, but not always made public. Blockchain and NFT technology facilitate an evolution of this valuation process by transparently enhancing the public tracking of changes in ownership and value. Works of the past involve an extensive review process to determine proprietorship and authenticity which can now be more easily verified with technology.

LUX: You recently featured at Frieze London collaborating with W1 Curates, Seth Troxler and Richard Mille. How did you find the collaboration and do you enjoy digital art’s interdisciplinary possibilities?
AT: Showcasing an art exhibition during Frieze London was a monumental and wonderful experience. I greatly enjoyed working with everyone at W1 Curates and being introduced to Seth Troxler and the team at Richard Mille. Bridging the relationship across multiple industries through art created such a profound moment which everyone celebrated and commemorated together. This blending of media should hopefully inspire others to continue to follow suit with future collaborations and more venues, as it truly creates a surreal magical experience.

LUX: You have a particular interest in cars. What inspires you about them?
AT: My fascination with cars is a childhood passion that has endured time. The love of cars encapsulates so many aspects I cherish in life: the intricate design, precise engineering, scientific underpinnings, technological marvels, and the connection between humans and machines. I don’t merely see cars as vehicles of transportation. I enjoy the mental retreat to a space of childlike innocence, and perceive the deep-rooted romance within them.

Two art pictures side by side, the first of the back of white heads and the second of a robot like sculpture

Following by Ash Thorp from the ‘Nascent’ series

LUX: How has your digital art changed over time?

AT: Previously my work was primarily recognized on feature films like the Batman, but now I’m also able to showcase the more personal evolution of my digital art with blockchain technology. I’ve found the opportunity to delve deeply into a personal journey of my thoughts and curiosities. It’s a transformative journey that has significantly shaped both my perspective and my artistic endeavors, granting me the sovereignty to explore.

LUX: What are your upcoming projects and where do you see your art heading?
AT: I’m currently engaged in several exciting projects that cannot be disclosed just yet until their public release. As for the direction of my art, my overarching objective is to continue self-discovery, to understand further why I create this work, and to recurrently explore the fundamental answers to life.

We’re talking over Zoom and email. Though technology facilitates our distanced conversation – San Diego to London – in my opinion, it is less personal than an in person meeting. Are there areas of digital art which, relying on technology rather than the body or physical tools, make the relationship to the artist less personal? If so, does it matter?
Art curation is necessary and often overlooked in the digital space, primarily due to the convenience of technology.  Traditional works often demand a dedicated physical visit to a specific gallery or institution, which assists a narrative that it must be of higher value and experience. The challenge for digital art lies in finding opportunities for it be equitably appreciated and valued, for it to be seen to enhance our lives as much as any other form of art.

Find out more: www.altcinc.com

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A white Ferrari by a river and hills
A white Ferrari by a river and hills

Ferrari Roma

In the second part of our Super Powers series from the Spring/Summer 2023 issue, LUX’s car reviewer gets behind the wheel of a Ferrari Roma

Creating an association with Roma from the Ferrari brand is an idea so obvious it is surprising the company hasn’t done it before. The company has made cars named after California, the chic Italian port of Portofino and its hometown of Maranello. But never Rome.

So what kind of car could we expect from the Ferrari Roma? Looking at the exterior in the first instance, we though the sweeping, long, elegant design fitted quite well with the Dolce Vita image of Rome that the company would evidently like to project. With its long nose and contemporary curves, and the swept-back nature of the cockpit, the Roma looks like a classic grand tourer, updated for now. It is also one of the prettier Ferraris of recent years.

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Inside, this quality is both amplified and somewhat dissipated. It is amplified by the view our over the bonnet, where buttresses on either side help you aim the car for a long distance, touring in mind. It is dissipated because the interior, while bristling with electronic gizmos, does not have the classiness of Ferraris of old, or the sheer razzmatazz of some of the Roma’s current Ferrari siblings. True, the controls in the centre console do mimic the gated manual gearboxes of older Ferraris, but the rest of it feels up to date without being particularly glamorous. This is not a Ferrari that comes dripping in leather, although there was a generous amount of Alcantara, the mock suede favoured by many sports cars, in evidence.

a Ferrari steering wheel and controls in the Roma with the yellow Ferrari logo in the middle of the steering wheel

Combining a classic grand-tourer sweep with a hyper-responsive dynamic drive, the Ferrari Roma makes for a particularly intriguing new model

However, as soon as you start driving it, any impression that the Roma is a slightly laid-back but high-performance grand tourer quickly goes out of the window as fast as the rubber on the tyres touches the tarmac (the tyres were Pirelli P Zeros in our case, which do not do the car’s handling justice). This is a car with a focus on raciness, not refinement. The steering is super sharp, almost hyperactive. The accelerator responds if you even think about touching it. On a country road it is highly engaging, around sharp bends it feels both enormously capable and highly entertaining. This is a car that involves the driver for every second, and is rather surprising because of it.

Why? Because many very fast and expensive cars – Ferraris among them – have become more and more remote, even as they become more and more capable, in recent years. A feeling that you are driving a video game has become prevalent.

Read more: Lamborghini Huracán STO Review

But not in the Roma. Here you know you are driving a very fast contemporary Ferrari, even along a country lane at normal speeds. The car feeds back to you thought a concoction of noises and feelings – not that it is noisy – but the Roma is not a car designed with comfort in mind. It has enormous performance and dynamism, and tiny back seats, which are useful for shopping. Altogether, it is an intriguing addition to the Ferrari model line, the first of what may be a new dynasty of cars.

Most Ferraris to date have a lineage dating back through decades of predecessors, but the Roma is a new concept. We found it highly entertaining, but also wonder if it is just a little bit too focused on involvement. A more relaxed side to its character might have fitted everyday use a little more, particularly given that its shape is more that of a day-to-day elegant sports car than something you want to go and thrash. But nobody can doubt this car’s ability and excitement factor.

LUX Rating: 18.5/20

Find out more: ferrari.com

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A blue and orange Lamborghini on a road at night with a lit up skyline behind it
A blue and orange Lamborghini on a road at night with a lit up skyline behind it

The Lamborghini Huracán STO

In the first part of our Super Powers series from the Spring/Summer 2023 issue, LUX’s car reviewer gets behind the wheel of a Lamborghini Huracán STO

In the car world, it is generally accepted that the next generations – Gen Z and younger – are not interested in cars as anything other than Uber- type appliances to get them from A to B cheaply, while they sit in the back seat making TikToks.

Evidently, someone forgot to send the memo to the summertime population of East Wittering, a village on the south coast of England. We parked the Lamborghini on the village’s beachside promenade, ready to get some good photography, and were soon swamped – not by water from the English Channel, but by people. Small boys and girls were desperate to have a look inside the car or touch the outside, as if it were an alien spaceship – which it does resemble a bit. People in their twenties told us this was their dream car and could they please have their photo taken with it. One young woman suggested her boyfriend propose to her on the occasion of having their picture taken. Another lady, with three pre-teen children, asked to lean on the car for her photo, then told us she had been a racing driver when she was younger, that her husband had left them that morning, and that this was a great tonic.

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We had expected attention of some sort, but it was notable that it was all positive. Teenage boys on bicycles stopped and gave a thumbs up. Builders in white vans honked their horns and, when we turned to see if they were cursing at us, would, without exception, give us a thumbs up, too. It was like being a celebrity everyone loves, except the celebrity was the car, not the driver.

blue and black seats in a car

A celebrity of a car with full star value, from eye-popping looks to performance to the co-starring role it allows its driver

None of this would have mattered if the car were not as good to drive as it is to look at. Lamborghinis have recently tended either to be a bit safe, with four-wheel drive making them capable but rather less wild than their looks suggest, or, in some cases, just a little ungainly for driving around English country roads. This car suffered from neither ailment. Being rear- wheel drive only and lighter than the regular Huracán, it has a connection to the driver and, in fact, relies on the driver’s ability to handle its immense power. The sound of the engine is magnificent, a real last glorious celebration of the internal combustion engine.

The car moves as well as it sounds. The V10 is old school in that, without turbochargers, it gains momentum in a dramatic but progressive way, each point in the rev range promising a difference in noise and acceleration, requiring the driver to pay attention. The joy of revving this engine to its limit is matched by few other cars.

Read more: Driving Lamborghinis to the Italian Alps

The handling is as sharp as the engine, with the steering immediate and well weighted. This is not an easy car to drive fast, unlike some competitors. It requires concentration and input – you might imagine yourself as Tom Cruise in Top Gun Maverick. But actually, that’s why we love it. It is old-fashioned in the way it demands the driver’s input, and it is so rewarding.

It is also spectacular inside, with its gorgeous, racy interior. The car will not win awards for comfort and smoothness – although it is not terrible in that respect – but then it is closer to a racing car than to other supercars.

So we salute the Lamborghini Huracán STO – not just for what it is, but for what it will likely be: the last of a breed. Its successor, probably helped by electric propulsion, is likely to be faster, smoother, better and less notable. Drive the Huracán for one of the most memorable experiences you can have, in or out of a car.

LUX Rating: 19.5/20

Find out more: lamborghini.com

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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orange suitcases and rucksack in front of a black sportscar
orange suitcases and rucksack in front of a black sportscar
Ava Doherty reports on Tumi and McLaren’s collaboration on a limited-edition luggage collection titled ‘Unpack Tomorrow’, appreciating the history of the British motorsport brand through motorcar themed designs

The quintessentially English motorsport brand, McLaren, has paired with the travel and business manufacturer Tumi to produce unique limited edition travel pieces to commemorate McLaren’s 60th anniversary.

The collection was unveiled at the final event of the brand’s Spring 2023 campaign, ‘ Unpack Tomorrow’ which championed the Tumi crew member and McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris.

Lando Norris holding an orange rucksack and standing next to an orange suitacase

Tumi and McLaren’s commemorative partnership aims to combine fashion, technology and lifestyle. The brands aimed to highlight their shared ethos of functionality, modern design dialogue and a forward-facing outlook.

Goran Ozbolt, Chief Designer art McLaren Automotive commented, “This edition of luxury travel pieces also celebrates our founder Bruce McLaren’s passion for looking to the future, pushing the boundaries, and matching effortless functionality with a modern design language that reflects the ethos of both companies.”

A black suicase next to an orange car

New technology incorporated into their design process includes ultra-durable Tegris composite material, flexible CFX carbon fibre accents, and the integrated USB charger of the Velocity Backpack.

Tumi aims to further globalise its partnership with McLaren with an international content series at key Grand Prix races featuring influencers, community engagement and exclusive prizes.

Black suitcase and luggage next to a car

Tumi’s Creative Director, Victor Sanz said, “We are thrilled to have collaborated on this collection with McLaren, utilising their famous papaya colour and combining modern, lightweight materials to create luggage, bags and accessories that celebrate their 60th anniversary.”

Find out more: tumi.com/McLarenCollection

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Green and white glass sheets in a room
Green and white glass sheets in a room

Lexus Design Awards 2023 was presented in the Tortona district during Milan Design Week

Against the backdrop of the vibrant and bustling Milan Design Week, Lexus presented the four winners of their coveted annual Design Award, now in its 11th iteration. Trudy Ross visited Milan’s Superstudio Più to find out more

I was an awe-struck first-timer at Salone del Mobile this year, the world’s most prestigious and well-attended design fair. The city was brimming with life, with throngs of fashionably dressed professionals walking over clean, sunbaked streets, the city’s many restaurants and cafes full of old industry friends reuniting and the chatter of business meetings over fine wine. On every corner you were met with an eye-catching new installation, ready to become the venue for yet another glamorous party by the evening.

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The Lexus Design Awards, presented in the Tortona district, was the perfect introduction to Salone, embodying the fair’s guiding principles of creativity, beauty, innovation, sustainability, and a focus on the potential of young designers. The competition was launched in 2013 by Lexus to give a platform to the next generation of designers. Displayed in the bright and airy Superstudio Più, the winning designs were accompanied by architect and artist Suchi Reddy’s immersive 3D collage, Shaped by Air, inspired by the Lexus Electrified Sport.

Reddy told LUX, “It all started from a drawing. I started finding these shapes that were very beautiful – I thought that if Matisse had designed a car, this would be the car…because we were inside, I had the opportunity to really play with reflection, and create this idea of a forest; you can see how the light dapples, creating shadows and unexpected things. There’s a richness to walking in a forest because you never know what shapes to expect – everything fits but it’s always different.”

A woman wearing a black dress and white top standing next to green and transparent sheets of glass

Suchi Reddy with her installation, ‘Shaped by Air’

Her installation of glass and movement was the perfect intermingling of beauty, technology, and nature to reflect the winning designs, which used technology to look to the future and to create elegance, but also prioritised purpose, practicality and the natural world. While there is usually only one winner, this year the award was expanded to comprise four winners, all of whom were given an opportunity to work with Lexus’ handpicked mentors, four leading figures from the design world: Marjan van Aubel, Joe Doucet, Yuri Suzuki, and Sumayya Vally. A public vote was then held to determine the People’s Choice winner, the design which most impressed and resonated with viewers.

Swedish designer Pavels Hedström was announced as the Your Choice winner for his innovative design, Fog-X, a high-impact hiking jacket that transforms into a tent/shelter – but its real ingenuity is not shapeshifting. The device can catch fog, even in the most arid areas of the desert, and transform it into up to 10 litres a day of drinking water. Hedström told LUX that he has always been interested in solving the big global challenges. When it came to drinking water, he was inspired by plants and animal species which can survive in the Atacama desert. He found that one of the ways they do this is by catching fog, saying his design is “basically the same principle”.

Read more: Photo London’s Fariba Farshad on Fotografìa Maroma

While the jacket itself might not currently be affordable for many of the people living in desert communities with a lack of water, he championed the Fog-X app made alongside the jacket, which anyone can use to determine and track the areas with the most potential for moisture generation. He added, “privileged people like us take for granted that we have water on the tap. We need to rethink how we get these resources, because our relationship to nature is pretty imbalanced. If we use the jacket, I hope it will also change our mindsets and our appreciation of nature.”

A man wearing cow print trousers and a black top standing next to an orange bag

Pavels Hedström, the Your Choice winner for his innovative design, Fog-X

The other designers included Temporary Office, a duo made up of Vincent Lai and Douglas Lee, who unveiled 3D topographic puzzle Touch the Valley. Designed with the visually impaired in mind, the puzzle allows people to play and learn through touch rather than sight, with each piece carefully contoured and sculpted to engage tactual sensation. When assembled, the pieces can become a model of a major mountain range or famous landmark. Beyond a tool for the visually impaired, the product can be enjoyed by all and double as an elegant coffee table piece with an interesting story to tell. Perfect for the explorer traveller who doesn’t just want to go to Yosemite, but wants to hold it in his hands.

Two men standing next to a screen showing a presentation

Vincent Lai and Douglas Lee, founders of Temporary Office

Jiaming Lui from China designed the Print Clay Humidifier, a 3D-printed humidifier made with recycled ceramic waste. This household appliance requires zero electricity or energy and is made from materials left over from industrial processes. Indeed, the product itself can be recycled at the end of its life after any damage or breakages to reform as it was initially. Lui looked to natural resources to replace the plastic, energy-using devices many of us have in our homes and created a stylish, effective and sustainable alternative.

A man standing next to a product and a screen with the words LEXUS above him

Jiaming Lui with his print clay humidifier design

Finally, and perhaps the most directly relevant to many of our own lives was Kyeongho Park and Yejin Heo’s Zero Bag, a new alternative to plastic packaging for food and clothes, made from seaweed. It looks like plastic, but rather than being an amalgamation of artificial chemicals, it actually fights them. The packaging dissolves in water and contains either a detergent for clothes, or a baking soda film which removes chemicals and pesticides from food. Kyeongho and Yejin, both currently students majoring in industrial design at Hanyang University’s ERICA campus, expressed hope for their idea to expand across regions and become adopted by major retailers.

Two men in beige jackets standing next to a screen showing a presentation

Kyeongho Park and Yejin Heo with their Zero Bag design

The theme for this year’s competition was ‘Design for a Better Tomorrow’. If these young designers are any indication of what tomorrow might look like, it seems the future will make space for both technology and for nature, cultivating the beauty of both.

Find out more: discoverlexus.com/lexus-design-award-2023

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In the fourth part of our Driving Force series from the AW 2022/23 issue, LUX’s car reviewer gets behind the wheel of the Maserati Levante Granlusso

As the car industry moves into its new phase focused on electric and, in due course, autonomous motors, presumably there will be shifts in priority for consumers. Previously, you may have chosen a car for its exciting engine noise and performance advantage over rivals. In an autonomous, electric-car future, these factors will be uniform: all cars will go at the same speed and make the same (lack of) emotive sound.

So how will they be distinguished? Or will they not be distinguished at all? Will cars become like road-going versions of train carriages, the space inside them hired out by passengers?

It would be logical to presume that personal (as opposed to shared) automotive transportation will continue for the wealthier consumer and, with differentiation in the performance stakes no longer possible, design and luxury will come more to the forefront.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Designing a car’s interior to look striking is not as simple as creating a fashion collaboration for a sneaker, though. Like a plane’s, the interior of a car has to adhere to specific stipulations for safety, space, comfort and security. Materials also need to handle years of being sat on and scraped by (luxury) behinds. Which is why, we reflected, as we sat in the Maserati Levante Granlusso, it is rare to see an interior with this much style. The most luxury car interiors are fairly interchangeable. Not so this one.

It was designed by the Italian fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna – a special edition that is worth seeking out. There were swathes of what looked like men’s suit fabric along the seats and doors, and it had a delicious boudoir feel.

We subjected the Maserati to a longer test than usual, over a period of weeks rather than days, because this is a car designed as everyday luxury transportation, just as your Birkin is designed as an everyday luxury carrier of stuff. If you’re going to be using the car every day and will be seeing a lot of its interior, then it deserves serious consideration on this alone from anyone in the market for a mid-size luxury SUV. Everyone who experienced the car – friends, relatives and so on – commented on the interior. It’s a comfortable car under any circumstances, but the design touches give it a distinctiveness that is unique to this edition.

brown and leather and black car seats and a steering wheel

Embodying function and Italian flair, Maserati’s new mid-size luxury SUV is particularly distinctive for its fashion house-designed interior

Before we go further, let’s elaborate on the term “mid-size luxury SUV”. A few years back cars came in simple categories. Now there’s an infinite variety of what the industry calls “crossovers”: vehicles that are fluid in terms of categorisation, sometimes the better for it, too, and sometimes not, if you look at the more curious attempts at merging luxury, high-performance and bling. Fortunately, Maserati does not fall into this trap. It is a relatively simple, medium-sized (that is to say, pretty big by European standards and quite small by American standards), sporting off-road vehicle, the type seen on school runs and in luxury shopping streets globally.

Its shape is more quiet and harmonious than out-there and ostentatious, and all the better for it, unless your primary aim is to be noticed. It has a touch of Italian flair – more so than its Germanic rivals, like the Porsche Cayenne and BMW X5 – but not so much that it shouts at you. Unusually for an SUV, it attracted many compliments from people we encountered, and no inner-city anti-car hostility.

To drive, it felt a bit bigger than it is. The flowing shape means that it is hard to judge where the ends of the car are (the 360-degree camera was an advantage here). In a car with a Maserati badge, we expected something focused on performance and agility (as much as possible for a large, tall car) but, actually, the Maserati is aimed more towards the comfort end of the spectrum. This was fine most of the time, except occasionally the ride did get more lumpy than in a true luxury car, such as a Mercedes E-Class, and it was a shame not to have a bit more excitement on a twisty road. That is the essential compromise of these sport- utility vehicles – they encompass engineering challenges for the way they drive and ride. Still, it hasn’t hurt their sales and it would be a very sensitive driver or passenger who noted this.

Read more: Driving Force: Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid

One thing you may notice, depending on how mechanically aware you are, is the engine. If you are part of a (now dwindling) demographic for whom an Italian car brand means a glorious, smooth and powerful engine, you will need to readjust for the diesel engine. It gets the car around effectively enough, but it’s not going to make you feel like a racing driver. It is functional, which is slightly out of kilter with the car’s flair.

And it is flair that we keep going back to. In a world of increasingly homogeneous cars notable for their efficiency, Maserati has succeeded in making a comfortable, functional, spacious everyday car with a splash of luxury. That is an attractive trait in itself, and a very nice place to be when you are sitting in everyday traffic surrounded by your Zegna-fabric interior.

Find out more: maserati.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX

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red car driving in nature In the second part of our Driving Force series from the AW 2022/23 issue, LUX’s car reviewer gets behind the wheel of the Audi R8 V10 Spyder.

We at LUX are not engineers. We leave analysis of the technical side of motoring to our specialist colleagues in the automotive media. What we do know, though, as motoring enthusiasts, is that a mid-engined car should be fun to drive.

With only an elementary knowledge of physics, we know that placing an engine – a car’s heaviest part – behind the driver instead of in front, should make a car easier to pivot through a turn. And while LUX readers may not often do their own grocery shopping, anyone who has tried to steer a shopping trolley full of bottles of, say, Dom Pérignon, will know how much harder it is to turn corners than when the trolley is empty. The same principle should theoretically apply to a mid-engined car, where the space under the bonnet is air, not engine.

Driving through a series of sharp corners in the latest Audi R8, we were delighted to feel this theory being put into practice. The R8 is a fine-looking car, making the most of the engine placement. It has a short, aggressive-looking front end and a fat, squat rear, suggesting speed and intent. Then there is its handling. Steer into a corner and the reactions are instantaneous: there is no mass, no trolley full of Dom Pérignon to turn ahead of you. In fact, it turns so quickly you need your wits about you or you will overdo it, steering too much and aiming onto the wrong side of the road. You feel the car’s four-wheel drive getting its claws into the road as the engine shoots out of the curve, ready for the next one. It may be an Audi, but this is one hyper-responsive car, as sharp as a Ferrari or a McLaren. 

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You also have no doubt that the engine is just a few centimetres behind your head. It is a special engine. As you accelerate out of a corner, its howl grows, like the sound of a Formula One track getting closer. The revs continue to rise and the F1 track continues to increase in volume, the engine getting more and more urgent, until you hit the rev limiter at 8,700rpm. It is an exciting experience, and, combined with the concentration required to keep the hyper-responsive steering pointing in the right direction, makes for real fun and engagement.

Most sports cars today that have not turned electric or into part-electric hybrids are powered by turbocharged V8 engines. They are, by and large, very fast, and the engine response in many cases is even swifter than in this car. However, they lack the character and drama of the now old-fashioned V10 engine, as it gains revs and power mid-howl – something to treasure.

This all makes the R a brilliant car to drive. Unsurprisingly, over the years that its similar-looking predecessor was made, it was highly successful and remains highly desirable. If you feel a caveat coming, you are correct – it involves a mystery. This is an unquestionably rapid and exciting car to drive, even more thrilling on a twisty road than some of its acclaimed rivals. However, there is a slight snobbery towards it from some. Both rivals we mentioned have, we think, slightly higher status in the car-collector world, whereas the R8 V10, for all its brilliance, is considered a little more nouveau.

steering wheel of car with open roof

We can’t give a definitive answer as to why that might be. The R8 isn’t perfect, of course – a two-seater sports car rarely is. Even by the standards of this car type, though, there is very little storage space, either in the front boot or the cabin. If two of you were off for a weekend away, let’s just say that even if there were enough room for your bags, there would be none for souvenirs.

It is also true that the cabin suffers from the excellence of Audi’s corporate design. The shape of the interior is as you might expect from a low mid-engined, two-seater sports car. It is beautifully put together and clear in a Bauhaus-for-the-21st-century way, but the materials and interior design don’t feel special. It feels exactly what it is, a premium two-seater sports car from the people who bring you premium saloons and estate cars. However, the exterior shape, which we think looks better than anything else in its class, makes up for the lack of interior flair. 

If you did need further storage space, the Porsche is more practical and spacious, with small back seats that are suitable for humans over short distances. But these are not supposed to be practical cars and, as a racy weekend machine, the R8 is superb. It manages what some much more expensive supercars don’t: it is reactive and lively at low speeds, and you don’t have the feeling – common in some over-capable supercars – that the car is taking everything in its stride and not giving much fun or feedback. 

Read more: Ionic cars are transforming classic cars for an electric future

In the R8 you have the best engine in its class, combined with handling that lets you know you are in a supercar, while keeping you hyper-alert. The steering could have more feel, although that is a common complaint in this era of electrically assisted steering and giant tyres. Importantly, the R8 is the last of its kind. With emissions regulations, Audi will not make another V10. We recommend it, and, for extra fun, opt for the Spyder over the coupé, so you can open the roof and hear the engine even more.

LUX rating: 19/20

Find out more: audi.co.uk

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX

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bentley car driving amid mountains
bentley car driving amid mountains

The new Bentley Bentayga Hybrid is a lighter-feel luxury SUV that’s a wonderful mix of refinement and muscle

In the third part of our supercar review series, LUX gets behind the wheel of the Bentley Bentayga Hybrid

If you need an example of how the attributes of heritage luxury car brands have to change in the new world of sustainability and electrification, look no further than Bentley. This is a company that has been making cars that are primarily distinguished by their immensely powerful and vocal petrol engines for more than 100 years. Taking the petrol engines out of Bentleys would be like taking the leather out of a Chesterfield.

This latest model we drove is not electrically powered, but it’s a halfway point. The company’s luxury SUV is typically distinguished by its massive 12-cylinder engine (although there are models available with a V8). Here we have a hybrid version, with a six-cylinder petrol engine accompanied by an electric motor.

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Does it work? That depends: if you’re listening for that V12 ‘whoof’, and expecting the distinctive power characteristics – speed and responsiveness to increase in tandem – you may be disappointed at first. In fact, the sound is the most notable characteristic of this car, as going from a Bentley V12 to this is rather like going from wild to farmed beluga. Still good, but not what you’re used to. But, given that in a few short years no engine will make any sound at all apart from a faint hum, this is really a moot point.

Bentley beige car interior

One other characteristic a traditionalist will welcome is the lighter feel: there is less engine in the nose of the car. It feels quite alive around corners on country lanes on the way to one’s architect-redesigned Oxfordshire manor house.

Black car dashboard

That is the kind of lifestyle this car is aimed at and it does an excellent job. The interior feels like sitting in a well-appointed bank vault with windows onto which the outside world is projected. Unlike some very powerful SUVs, it doesn’t feel like it wants to race every car from the traffic lights. It’s not exactly serene – it’s a Bentley after all – but it’s a wonderful mix of refinement and muscle. If you’re an enthusiastic driver, you won’t complain about the relatively agile handling, excellent roadholding and responsiveness at speed. You may wish for a little more feedback and involvement, though, as this car is set up more at the luxury end of things.

Read more: Why You Should Get Your New Car Ceramic Coated

Your passengers will enjoy the crafted feel of the interior, which really does feel a cut above almost any rival. It may not feel as passionate as the SUV offerings from Lamborghini or the Mercedes G 63, but it aims to do a slightly different job, rather more grown-up. It is also a car you could get in to drive from the Cotswolds to ski in St Moritz in one day, and arrive refreshed and ready for the slopes. And the fuel savings from the new electric-petrol engine will pay for a couple of drinks at Pavarotti’s.

LUX rating: 17.5/20

Find out more: bentleymotors.com

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

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A black McLaren GT on top of a mountain
A black McLaren GT on top of a mountain

For a balanced supercar life, look no further that the new Mclaren GT

In the second part of our supercar review series, LUX gets behind the wheel of the McLaren GT

A GT car, traditionally, was a good compromise. Powerful and exciting to drive, but also comfortable and relatively quiet, in order to fulfil ‘grand touring’ duties, typically between Monaco and Zürich, or Munich and the Amalfi coast, or any two points between which the wealthy of the mid to late 20th century wished to drive.

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This is a relatively challenging brief, because the most exciting cars are, by definition, highly responsive and therefore tend to be exhausting when driven in straight lines on the motorway. Similarly, cars that are relaxing to drive in a straight line are not always exciting on the last series of twisty curves leading up to your Eagle’s Nest villa. The cars that succeeded in combining these qualities, such as Ferrari’s 275 GTB/4, the Aston Martin DB5 and Jaguar E-type, are historic masterpieces and play a valuable part in automotive history.

interior black seats and wheel with a red stitching in a McLaren GT

This two-seater is fantastically accomplished, offering sports car thrills and comfort

McLaren absolutely excels at making cars that are exciting on a tightly curved country road. And here is a McLaren that looks pretty similar to those models, but is instead badged a GT and aimed at buyers who want a balanced supercar life.

The first thing we established, on a series of tight curves and roundabouts in rural Britain, is that this car handles like a McLaren and not like some kind of soft-luxury saloon. It’s sharp, responds dynamically to the throttle, brakes brilliantly, shoots over mid-corner bumps as if they are not there and generally feels like you are driving a supercar. If McLaren didn’t make its non-GT series of cars, you would be perfectly happy with this as your two-seater sports car.

A black car driving on a road with mountains in the distance

Exterior of the McLaren GT

The interior is snug and comfortable while you are in there – like all McLarens, it can take a bit of focus to get in and out, particularly for larger and taller people.

And how does it perform as a GT? Its massive power means it achieves cruising velocity swiftly
and effortlessly. The suspension engineering and aerodynamics give it superb straight-line
stability. Always willing and responsive, it never feels nervous. It’s also relatively quiet, in terms of both engine and road noise, compared with a proper supercar, and rides well – you never feel the car is fighting the road.

Read more: The Style And Substance Series: Porsche 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition

All in all, a brilliant, fantastically accomplished two-seater car. If you were to buy one, instead of a two-seater Ferrari or Lamborghini, for pure sports car thrills, no one would say you had made the wrong choice.

a red and black interior of a McLaren GT with mountains through the windscreen

Interior of the McLaren GT

But is it a GT? That’s a $200,000 (more or less, depending on which country you’re buying the car in) question. While it will perform long-distance duties with aplomb, it doesn’t quite have the je ne sais quoi of the great GT cars. And that’s no real criticism, because even Ferrari and Aston Martin, the traditional holders of the GT crown, find it hard to balance the engineering required to keep a super high-performance car on the road, and the laid-back qualities needed for a great GT. The McLaren is a great car, but is it a great GT? Not quite. But we’re not sure anything made in the past 15 years or so is.

LUX Rating 18.5/20

Find out more: mclaren.com

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

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An old green Lamborghini in front of palm trees on a roof
red and white leather interior of an old classic Ferrari

Interior of the 1955 Ferrari 250 Europa GT Coupé

Maarten Ten Holder, Managing Director of Bonhams Motoring, tells LUX his top picks at Bonhams Quail Auction in California, ahead of the sale on Friday 19th August 2022. A sale which features cars being sold up to $3,400,000.

It may not be winter, but the West Coast is calling and the classic car world is gathering in Northern California for Monterey Car Week. This Mecca for serious car collectors includes the world-famous Pebble Beach Concours. Bonhams Quail Auction takes place in tandem with the equally glamorous Quail Motorsports gathering garden party this Friday (19 August). Our 25th silver anniversary sale offers a host of precious metal.

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1963 Jaguar E-Type Lightweight Competition, estimate on request

An old white car with the number 14 on the side on a track

1963 Jaguar E-Type Lightweight Competition

Owned by that giant of US motor racing, (and Americas Cup winner) Briggs Cunningham, and driven at Le Mans no less, this is one of the most important early racing Jaguars.

It’s a rare beast too – one of only 12 Competition cars, built with aluminium bodies and hard top and alloy 3.8-litre engine (hence it’s Lightweight label), sold exclusively to Jaguar’s preferred customers.

Significantly restored in the 1980s yet retaining its original bodywork and matching-numbers engine, this E-Type is eligible for the world’s most prestigious concours and historic races.

1938 Type 57C Atalante, estimate $2.8 – 3.4 million

black and yellow classic car in front of a garage

1938 Type 57C Atalante

This supercharged art deco masterpiece, designed by Jean Bugatti, was the supercar of the golden age, reaching a top speed of 120mph, when most cars aimed for 50 mph.

One of only five aluminium 57Cs, the Bugatti was the 1938 Paris Salon display car but has largely been under wraps for much of its life, firstly hidden during the Second World War, then kept for many years without turning a wheel in the garage of a later keeper’s chateau.

1969 Lamborghini P400S Miura, estimate $1,75 – 2,25 million

An old green Lamborghini in front of palm trees on a roof

1969 Lamborghini P400S Miura

Eternally young, the Lamborghini Miura was the car that put Lamborghini on the map and is often called the most beautiful car of its age. Gandini’s svelte design for Bertone is complemented by the evocative soundtrack from its Lamborghini’s brilliant V12 engine, placed behind the driver. landmark in the history of Italian sports cars. This 1969 P400S Miura, estimated at $1,750,000-2,250,000 and offered with no reserve.

1955 Ferrari 250 Europa GT Coupe, estimate $2.25 – 2.75 million

A white car driving on a road

1955 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupé

The great rival to Lamborghini is represented by seven models at Quail, including a trio of early cars led by the very last Ferrari 250 Europa GT built. This landmark model is regarded as the first of the iconic Ferrari GTs.

Styled and built by Pinin Farina, this car was first exhibited at the 1956 Brussels Motor Show and raced in period at Spa Francorchamps. In the late 2000s, the matching numbers car was the subject of a superb, factory-correct restoration, while retaining its original bodywork and chassis and is Ferrari Classiche ‘Red Book’ Certified.

1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupé, estimate $1.4 – 1.7 million

a red car with the doors opening over the roof

1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupé

Instantly recognisable – not just to car enthusiasts – the 300SL is considered the greatest sports car of the 1950s, with famous successes at Le Mans, Targa Florio and of course the 1955 Mille Miglia, won by Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson at a record average speed of just under 100mph.

Read more: The Style And Substance Series: Porsche 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition

This superb example has been kept by the same family from new, originally used as a daily driver by its first owner, Greek shipping magnate George C. Makris, then latterly stored by his children in a climate-controlled environment. Superbly restored while retaining its original engine, bodywork, desirable Rudge wheels and original Becker Mexico radio, the 300SL has covered under 22,000 miles over its lifetime.

Ex-Steve McQueen 1971 Husqvarna 400 Cross, estimate $130,000 – 180,000

a red and black motorbike

Ex-Steve McQueen 1971 Husqvarna 400 Cross

The King of Cool was a known petrolhead (think of his passion project film ‘Le Mans’) and a motorcycle enthusiast, famously riding on screen in The Great Escape and On Any Sunday, the bike movie in which Husqvarnas featured heavily.

This ‘Husky’ was one of McQueen’s favourite off-road bikes and was kept by the actor until his death in 1980. The lovingly preserved, authentic machines offered in “as last ridden by McQueen” condition and still scarred with all the dents and dings from his regular rides.

Bonham’s Quail Auction will begin at 11am PDT/ 7pm BST on Friday 19th August

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red classic car by a lake
A palace in the mountains with trees around it

Gstaad Palace

Maarten Ten Holder, Managing Director of Bonhams Motoring, tells LUX his top picks for The Gstaad Sale in Switzerland ahead of the sale on 3rd July 2022. The sale features cars being sold up to £1,900,000

When you handle some of the world’s rarest, most exotic and most valuable collector cars, it makes sense to sell them in the most beautiful locations. Bonhams is fortunate to have salerooms at the Grand Palais in Paris, overlooking the Grand Prix circuit in Monaco and on the lawns of the world-famous Monterey Car Week. To this glittering roster, we have added the chic Alpine resort of Gstaad where we will be hosting our eponymous sale on Sunday 3 July.

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The venue for this boutique sale is the Gstaad Palace, celebrity haunt for the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, Roger Moore, and the perfect backdrop for the automotive art we will be presenting – what is more, the general manager is a classic car enthusiast, so we will be in good company!

silver 2010 Lamborghini Reventon Roadster 6 with a pile of orange stones behind it and mountains in the background

2010 Lamborghini Reventon Roadster

Rather fittingly for our jet-set audience, our sale is led by a jet-inspired hypercar – a 2010 Lamborghini Reventon supercar (estimate CHF 1,850,000-2,200,000). This was the most extreme Lamborghini to date when unveiled in the late Noughties. Its aeronautic styling is matched by blistering performance thanks to its 6.5-litre V12 engine. It has a top speed of 205mph and accelerates from 0-100km/h in 3.4 seconds and even has a G-force meter for that ‘Top Gun’ moment. This Reventon is as new, having had only two owners, the second, the vendor, never having driven it!

A red 1991 Ferrari F40 on a track with grass

1991 Ferrari F40

Lamborghini’s great rival, Ferrari, also features in this sale, with no less than six supercars and grand tourers offered. Looming in the Reventon’s rear-view mirror is a 1991 Ferrari F40 (estimate CHF 1,600,000 – 2,000,000), considered one of the last great ‘analogue’ supercars.

Red Ferrari on a road with stones by it

1972 Ferrari 365 GTB:4 ‘Daytona’ Berlinetta

Introduced to celebrate Enzo Ferrari’s 40 years as a motor manufacturer, the F40 was the last model to be personally overseen by ‘the old man’ before he died in 1988. A thinly disguised racing car, with its panels of carbon fibre and that unmistakable high rear aerofoil, the F40 was the first production passenger car to have a top speed of more than 200 mph. It’s no wonder that F40s have been owned by the great and the good from Formula 1 champions such as Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost to Il Maestro, Luciano Pavarotti.

Black and white 2020 Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport with green mountains and clouds in the background

2020 Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport

Another racing-derived car is a 2020 Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport, (estimate CHF 390,000 – 500,000). The high-performance version of the evergreen 911 was produced to meet the regulations for GT2 sports car racing. Th even more powerful RS version set a new lap record at the infamous Nürburgring last year.

This one-owner example has covered fewer than 300 kms and has never been raced, although it is fully-equipped for motorsport with its ‘Clubsport’ package including FIA rollcage, Recaro racing seat and racing dampers.

Read more: Switzerland, our top pick for summer

Classic models from the motoring world’s most prestigious marques, such as Aston Martin, Mercedes-Benz, Rolls-Royce and Bentley, will also be gracing the Gstaad Palace this weekend.

A black Monteverdi 1969 in front of a green garage

1969 Monteverdi 375S Coupe

However also lining up is a less familiar name: Monteverdi, a Swiss marque of the 1960s and 1970s – the brainchild of BMW dealer Peter Monteverdi. Wanting to produce a Swiss rival to Ferrari, he matched American power with European styling and luxurious interiors. Two of these rarities will be offered, including the 1969 Geneva Salon show car, a 1969 575S Coupé.

red classic car by a lake

1956 Alfa Romeo 1900C Super Sprint Barchetta

And there are more Swiss-made cars. The country may be more famous for watchmaking but has had a thriving coachbuilding industry in the 20th century, Representing its golden age is a 1956 Alfa Romeo 1900C Super Sprint Barchetta (CHF 300,000 – 400,000), its Ghia Aigle coachwork designed along the lines of a Riva speedboat with wraparound windscreen. Apparently, the Ghia was ‘banished’ into storage for 30 years by its first owner’s wife when she discovered the car had been bought for his mistress.

A black Renault 1981 on a pavement

1981 Renault 5 Turbo

My final highlight is a seemingly humbler car – a 1981 Renault 5, at one point France’s best-selling model and the first car for many. However, this special and increasingly sought-after high performance Turbo version has had only one owner from new, Catherine Larson, widow of Formula 1 driver Didier Pironi. The 5 has an estimate of CHF 130,000 – 150,000, making it one of the most valuable to be offered but surely one of the most perfect for tackling the twisting mountain roads!

The preview for the Gstaad Sale will be held at the Gstaad Palace Hotel from 1 to 3 July, with the sale from 15.00 on Sunday 1 July.

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red, green and black lamborghinis parked in front of a mountain
red, green and black lamborghinis parked in front of a mountain

Our fleet at the foot of the Cervino (Matterhorn) in Cervina, Italy

You might associate Lamborghinis with Dubai, Cannes, Los Angeles and London, shooting down city streets or parked outside expensive restaurants and hotels. Candice Tucker visits Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy, the home of the brand, and drives, and is driven in, the company’s latest models to a village high in the Alps

Like many, I find I can be easily distracted by a Lamborghini’s sleek shape, often ostentatious colours (most famously green, yellow and orange) and of course, the sound the engine makes when someone speeds past you.

Visiting the factory, watching the cars being made, altered my perception of the brand.

Making our way up into the Alps in convoy

Take a quick tour around the factory, in central Italy, and you can begin to see why these cars are some of the most expensive in the world. There are rows of stations, and clocks on each row that don’t say the time, but the amount of minutes each worker has left to work on their station. 33 minutes. That’s how long each worker in the main Urus factory has to do their part in the making of each Lamborghini. From the door fitters to the needle workers on the leather seats, everyone is under a timer to move their part onto the next station. The robots are only used to assist rather than replace the human hand. Your green status symbol is indeed hand made.

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The Lamborghini factory has been CO2 neutral since 2015

The future is electric cars, and it’s difficult to imagine what this means for Lamborghini’s distinct sounding engines, but this hasn’t stopped them pursuing a hybrid transition with gusto. They expect by 2023 to create their first hybrid series production car and by the second half of the decade, Lamborghini has committed to creating a fully electric model.

The Lamborghini V12 is the brand’s flagship engine

After the factory came the journey, in various Lamborghinis. I started mine in the ‘beast’, also known as the ‘Urus’. Lamborghini’s SUV (large 4×4) is huge and extremely powerful. Driving it, you feel as if you are in the emperor of SUVs. Very big, very fast, and you can alter driving modes like in a supercar. “Corsa” mode felt wicked – Corsa means race in Italian.

Lamborghinis parked in a semi circle inside a fort

Lamborghini makes a full-on supercar, the Aventador; a more practical two-seater sports car, the Huracán; and a powerful SUV, the Urus. All are available in a variety of specifications – and colours

If you want to take a step further into raciness mode, the Huracán STO or the SVJ Aventador might interest you. The Aventador is futuristic and showy from the outside. Inside, the SVJ is stripped of all its finer comforts, and you sit in unforgiving carbon fibre seats. It’s all about speed, which is no surprise given it is renowned V12 engine, which was deafening particularly when you drive through tunnels, the sound drilling through your ears. The STO is slightly lighter to drive and the exterior of the car is as close as you’ll get to looking like a race car on the road. Both cars offer the same extreme performance, but the STO allows you to remain cocooned in luxury by comparison.

The Urus was the most sold Lamborghini model in 2021, with 5,021 deliveries

Having travelled across the motorway, through the ancient part of the village of Bard in the Aosta valley (where cars are normally prohibited) and up the mountains to Cervinia, Lamborghini demonstrate that their cars are fit for purpose on any terrain. Whilst I wouldn’t suggest driving on icy roads, we put the STO and the Huracán EVO to the test, driving on an ice ring. The STO being a rear wheel drive, made this slightly more difficult to manoeuvre, but the EVO retained its speed and control.

Huracán EVO spinning on the ice track

The ultimate experience for me was the Huracán EVO Spyder. This is a convertible 640 horsepower supercar. Scaling the Italian Alps with the roof down, enjoying the fresh mountain air casting over your face was fun. With no space for a suitcase or even a hand luggage, the EVO wouldn’t be the car for your family ski holiday but it’s perfect for a day trip. The lightness of the car made it very agile up the mountain.

Read more: A tasting of Dalla Valle wines with the owners

Driving through the streets of the village of Bard, in the Aosta valley, where cars are usually prohibited. You can see why

There were no other Lamborghinis of any colour in Cervinia. It’s not that kind of place. It’s all about cows, mountain air, and the shadow of the Matterhorn. But what an adventure getting there in four of the most exciting and eye-catching cars in the world.

Find out more: lamborghini.com

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green and black car
old yellow car

1938 Bugatti Type 57 C Stelvio Cabriolet

Maarten Ten Holder, Managing Director of Bonhams Motoring, tells LUX his top picks at Les Grandes Marques du Monde in Paris, ahead of the sale on Thursday 3rd February 2022. A sale which features cars being sold up to £2,100,000
a man standing by a black car

Maarten Ten Holden

Les Grandes Marques à Paris, Bonhams’ European season-opener is an event I look forward to every year. Traditionally held at the Grand Palais, located between the Champs-Elysees and the Seine, this venue is one of the more spectacular settings for our many international car auctions.

This year, the sale has relocated to the Grand Palais 2.0, le Grand Palais Éphémère, a stunning temporary building which is serving as the city’s exhibition space during the restoration of the original. Located on the Champs-the-Mars, right at the foot of the Eiffel tower, this modular, sustainable structure is not only environmentally friendly, but through its design and location, might even outshine its historical sibling.

But there is more: inspired by the glamour of Éphémère, we decided to add a new luxury sale of more than 125 watches to our series of sales in Paris, which is the perfect complement to our regular line up.

We will present more than 100 of the most exquisite collectors’ cars, from the pioneers to contemporary supercars. Creating a shortlist has proven a tricky task, but here are just a few of my top picks…

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1964 Porsche 904 GTS, estimate €1,300,000 – 1,600,000
One of the biggest racing stars of the 1960S, the mid-engined Porsche 904 GTS sportscar was owned by a star: the Hollywood great, Robert Redford, who drove it for nearly a decade. The model was called the ‘giant killer’ for its success in such famous events as the Monte Carlo Rally.

A green car

Robert Redford’s Porsche 904 GTS

2015 Ferrari LaFerrari, estimate €2,000,000 – 2,500,000
The F1-inspired hybrid hypercar was described by Ferrari as its most ambitious car, with its electric motor and V12 petrol engines combining to create a staggering power output of 950bhp. This rare yellow example has only driven 930km from new.

A yellow ferrari in the snow

2015 Ferrari LaFerrari Coupé

‘Le Patron’ 1938 Type 57C Special Coupé, €1,600,000 – 2,000,000
The Paris sale always showcases the finest French cars; and this Art Deco beauty is truly special. Known as ‘Le Patron’ it was named after and used by company founder Ettore Bugatti himself and its bespoke coachwork is believed to be the final design created by his son Jean.

green and black car

‘Le Patron’,1936 Bugatti 57C

1996 Bugatti EB110, estimate €1,100,000 – 1,300,000
The most modern of the five Bugattis offered in Paris, the record-setting EB110 supercar was the brainchild of Italian businessman Roman Artioli who revived the brand. The era’s fastest series production sports car has a top speed of 340km/h thanks to its turbocharged V12 engine. This example is one of only 95 GTs produced.

A blue Bugatti by the sea

1996 Bugatti EB110 GT Coupé

1902 Panhard & Levassor Type A2 7HP Tonneau à entrée par l’arrière, estimate €300,000 – 360,000

From the dawn of motoring, this is a remarkably authentic example and one of the best survivors of its genre. It has retained its original engine, coachwork and even leather trim. This car also has successfully completed the famous London-to- Brighton Veteran Car Run with its owner.

an old style black car

1902 Panhard & Levassor Type A2 7HP tonneau à entrée par l’arrière

Read more: ADMO: Alain Ducasse & Dom Pérignon’s Ephemeral Dining Experience

Michael Schumacher’s 2010 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Estate, estimate €50,000 – 100,000 (No Reserve)
This was the daily driver of a true motorsport legend, seven times Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher. It was his company car when he joined the newly formed Mercedes GP Petronas Formula 1 Team in 2010. Not surprisingly, this top of the range C63 was equipped with €20,000 in luxury options.

A black Mercedes-Benz

Michael Schumacher’s 2010 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Estate

A preview of Les Grandes Marques du Monde will be taking place on Wednesday 2nd February 2022 and the auction will be held on Thursday 3rd February 2022.

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Mountains and the sun
Mountains and the sun

Consumers and business owners should take time to educate themsleves about the most effective ways to combat global heating. Pictured: The Alps on the Swiss/Austrian border, where the total winter snowfall is predicted to fall between 30 and 50% over the next 40 years according to the Swiss Federal Office of Meteorology

The wealthy play a disproportionate part in contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. They have an outsized responsibility to lead the way in combatting global warming. But, crowd pleasing knee jerk reactions will only lead to greenwashing and appeasing the lowest common denominator in the climate debate. Truly effective action requires resources of the most valuable kind: education and thought.

When we published an article by Professor Peter Newell last year outlining the particular responsibilities the wealthy have for reducing carbon emissions, it caused a bit of a stir. The research by Professor Newell, a UK-based academic who was the lead author of a report on the subject by the Cambridge Sustainability Commission on Scaling Behaviour Change last year, showed that the wealthy are disproportionately responsible for CO2 emissions through their consumption, habits and ability to engage in carbon-heavy activities, from flying private to attending art fairs to buying bitcoin.

Not all our readers liked that. They pointed out they participate in carbon offset schemes; that some of their activities are to benefit philanthropic and charitable institutions (theirs and others); and that they were informed about how to lower their personal carbon emissions relative to what they had been before.

To unpick these arguments is complex and points to the quandary many world leaders (political, and other) have, post-COP26, in translating good intentions to make a difference, into effective action.

Are carbon offset schemes effective, or a type of greenwash? How do you balance the benefits of social activities around the world with their carbon cost? (We all have this conundrum, to an extent, encapsulated by the old argument about whether it’s better to buy Fairtrade coffee that benefits an impoverished community in Guatemala, but requires transportation around the world, or no coffee.)

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What does being informed consist of: should you look at the Net Zero policies of companies you deal with (their stated, and often theoretical, intention to not emit carbon, on balance, sometime in the future)? Or their Scope 3 emissions – the total emissions of all their suppliers? Or at their commitment to the new buzz phrase, a “Just Transition”, that will compensate poorer countries and companies for the undeniable costs of reducing carbon emissions?

an old red Ferrari parked in front of a white tent on the grass

Owners of valuable classic cars can claim they are preserving second hand goods with no extra carbon cost, and creating minimal carbon footprint as they are used so little

As a relatively small media company, we can attest to the experience of the latter. Our move to 100% recycled paper, with vegetable-based inks and biodegradable coatings, from our latest issue, increased our production costs by around 40%, for no perceived increase in quality or other commercial benefits, only our own leadership role in responsible culture.

One other challenge – and here I have sympathy with the arguments of some of our readers – is consistency. Firing salvoes at easy targets, while overlooking more significant “culprits”, is baked into society, and carbon emissions are no exception.

One LUX contributor has a classic Italian sports car, which spends most of its life sitting in a dark garage, doing no harm to anything and emitting nothing. A couple of times a year they find the time and opportunity to take it out for a spin.

It is an eye-catching old car, and can’t avoid being the centre of attention, good and bad. Last spring, during one of London’s lockdowns, they took it out to a London park where they were due to meet a friend for a (legal) outdoor coffee. As they were driving slowly through the park, looking for a parking space, a young-ish father on a bicycle with two children on smaller bicycles, riding behind, overtook them and shouted “Polluter!” at the top of his voice.

From his demeanour, smart bicycle and smartly dressed children, he looked like a normal, middle-class chap who might work in marketing (or the media).

Our contributor pondered on this for days. Were they a polluter?

They had bought the car when it was already more than 10 years old, so that was a form of vintage recycling with zero carbon costs of manufacture that any advocate for carbon reduction should approve of. Five months into the year, that was the first time they had driven it and created carbon emissions, a total journey of around 10 miles/16 kilometres, which is approximately one thousandth of the annual mileage of the average driver in a developed country.

a blue ferrari at Blenheim Palace

A gathering of classic Ferraris at Blenheim Palace in England. Are their owners guilty of being ‘polluters’?

When driving, the Ferrari emits around 50% more carbon than the average car, but their total mileage in the car last year was only around 200 miles/320 km, which pegs their automotive carbon emissions at less than a twentieth of the average commuter. They customarily walk or cycle to the office and meetings in London.

Of course, there was no way their interlocutor would have known all this. But other reference points are out in the open.

For example, major airlines in Europe are being compelled to fly empty planes back and forth around the continent, closed to passengers, tens of thousands of times a month, according to reports by the aviation media. This is happening for a theoretically good reason: airlines fight for valuable slots to use in major airports, and the EU stipulates they have to use or lose these slots, to prevent monopolistic behaviour and increase competition.

With low demand due to the pandemic, airlines still have to use the slots: the EU has reduced its stipulations so airlines have to land their planes 50% fewer times at given airports than they usually would, but that still means that Lufthansa, for example, is compelled to fly 18,000 near-empty flights over the course of this winter. A single flight by an Airbus A319 from Berlin to London, say, emits 10 tonnes of carbon. 18,000 flights means 180,000 tonnes of carbon emissions for no purpose.

These numbers do not include the Scope 3 emissions of each flight – the cost of transport for the crew and service teams, and so on – and they are for just one airline, out of dozens following the EU rules.

Read more: Professor Peter Newell on climate responsibility

Lufthansa alone is being compelled to create CO2 emissions equivalent to 90,000 car driving commuters over the course of a year (or three million drivers of vintage Ferraris, although there are not that many vintage Ferraris to go around), just to comply with EU rules.

Lufthansa plane driving on the runway

EU based airlines are being forced to create enormous amounts of unnecessary CO2 emissions by flying empty planes

Lack of consistency is sometimes used as an excuse to justify immoral behaviour – “Well, he says X but he does Y, so I am going to do Y also”, which is a fallacy. But equally, if we wish to target carbon emissions, we need to be educated, informed and active.

The EU’s well-intentioned but ecologically damaging rules on aviation slots (which have been picked up by Greta Thunberg, among others) are just an example: not an excuse for us to act worse, but a reason for us to focus on the right areas, educate ourselves, see beyond the obvious targets, which in many cases may not be the correct ones. Assumptions and preconceptions won’t solve our issues; thoughtful action will.

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Reading time: 6 min
car event at Italian villa
car event at Italian villa

The new Rolls-Royce Boat Tail was unveiled at Concorso d’Eleganza, Villa d’Este, Lake Como

Rolls-Royce unveiled the world’s most expensive new car at a glamorous event on the shore of Lake Como last week. A recreation of its iconic 1932 model, the Boat Tail comes in a series of three bespoke commissions for clients, believed to be $28m each. Ella Johnson reports

With its wooden hull and sail-like wings, you’d be forgiven for thinking Rolls-Royce Boat Tail belonged on water rather than land. Unveiled at a private ceremony on Lake Como last week, the car’s nautical appearance certainly befitted its watery surroundings; yet this is a car destined to be driven on land – by a very wealthy owner.

The Boat Tail is the latest creation from Rolls-Royce Coachbuild, the division of the UK-based, German-owned manufacturer devoted to making extremely exclusive, limited-run, hand-finished creations for some of the world’s richest people.

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It certainly looks striking, and suited the surroundings of its launch at the Concorso d’Eleganza, the elite classic car show at the Villa d’Este. Standing beside his creation, Rolls-Royce Head of Coachbuild Design Alex Innes described the Boat Tail as ‘transcending mere conveyance’ to ‘become the destination itself’.

There are certainly worse places to be sitting while in the summer traffic jam to get to Club 55 in St Tropez (although the Boat Tail owner would also doubtless have a fleet of helicopters, plus a superyacht and tender, at his disposal for such occasions). The car’s in-built hosting suite at the rear stores two chilled bottles of champagne (platinum-wrapped Armand de Brignac at the launch event, if bling is your thing) plus rotating cocktail tables, leather stools, and a parasol – perfect for that sunset in Malibu. There is also a custom Montblanc pen in the glove compartment and his-and-hers BOVET 1822 timepieces, which can be used as wristwatches, desk clocks, or pocket watches.

car with boot open

The Boat Tail on display took four years from concept to completion, with the close involvement of its owner. It is also the second offering from Rolls-Royce Coachbuild, inaugurated in 2017 with the launch of the dramatic Sweptail, which evoked memories of the dramatic grand touring cars of the 1930s. Rolls-Royce say that Coachbuild, an invitation-only service for its top clients, is designed to satiate the appetite of clients who want to commission and curate personalised cars – described by the marque as ‘the automotive equivalent of haute couture’.

Read more: The eco-art organisation making a stand at Frieze

As Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Otvös commented to the gathered connoisseurs and collectors at the launch, the Boat Tail is ‘the most ambitious commission we have ever undertaken, in terms of technical complexity, innovative bespoke detailing and sheer creative audacity’.

The company is planning on releasing a coachbuilt car every two years, with the next two editions already in advances stages of creation and production. We suggest anyone who is interested in becoming a client buys a few Phantoms, Ghosts and Cullinans in the next few months, and works their way onto the invitation-only list from there. See you at Lake Como.

Find out more: rolls-roycemotorcars.com

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A silver sports car pictured in front of a stately home and behind a water fountain
Last weekend saw the 5th edition of Richard Mille’s annual automotive competition in Chantilly, France. Here, we recall the event in images

The weekend kicked off with the supercar rally in which the Mortefontaine track was turned into a playground for luxury cars and their owners. Practicing slaloms, braking and speed bowls, drivers such as skiing champion Alexis Pinturault showed off their racing prowess.

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Meanwhile, lunch at the Palais de Compiègne in the company of Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake was a quieter affair. Here, at the Rallye des Collectionneurs, the public had the opportunity to marvel at a collection of rare cars including McLaren P1 GTR and 720s, Ferrari’s LaFerrari, Enzo and 288 GTO models, the Porsche 918 and various Mercedes SLRs.

Richard Mille car show by a lake

Before dinner entertainment that evening was provided by champion rider Jessica von Bredow-Werndl who impressed guests, including Australian actress Margot Robbie, with an elegant dressage in the stunning setting of the Grandes Écuries de Chantilly.

Read more: Ruinart x Jonathan Anderson’s pop-up hotel in Notting Hill

Sunday continued with the Concours D’Elegance, bringing together automotive masterpieces whilst guests enjoyed boat rides along the grand canal and old fashioned games on the lawn. An elegant weekend indeed.

Horse rider performing in an arena of a stately home

Jessica Von Bredow-Werndl performing a dressage demonstration before the Saturday night gala dinner

People at a car show in the setting of a stately home

Classic car driving through crowds

Richard Mille Chantilly Arts & Elegance 2019 took place on 29 & 30 June. For more information visit: chantillyartsetelegance.com

 

 

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Vintage photograph of Jack Heuer of TAG Heuer swiss watches greeting Enzo Ferrari seated at a table
Vintage photograph of Jack Heuer of TAG Heuer swiss watches greeting Enzo Ferrari seated at a table

Enzo Ferrari (seated) being greeted by Jack Heuer in 1974

Famed for its relationships with key drivers in the 1960s and its innovation with the Ferrari F1 team in the 1970s, TAG Heuer is now working with Aston Martin and Red Bull Racing. Jason Barlow explores the Swiss brand’s new world of creative horological engineering

The firepower in a Formula One team isn’t solely derived from the car’s hybrid powertrain or its drivers. Alongside arguably the hottest young talent on the grid, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing has established a formidable array of partners. Prominent amongst these are two names that combine contemporary global brand equity but also pulse with historical resonance: Aston Martin and TAG Heuer. For students of such things, this triumvirate is one of the most powerful in world sport.

The first fruit of the relationship is a beautiful Carrera Calibre Heuer 01 chronograph, the Aston Martin Special Edition, whose dial is skeletonised by a pattern of hexagons that delivers an aesthetic parallel to the distinctive design language used on the latest Aston Martin Vantage, while a black brushed-ceramic tachymeter bezel and PVD-treated case with a sapphire window to view the movement bring TAG Heuer’s signature design features to the fore. (The collaboration has also yielded a second watch, the more affordable Formula 1 chronograph.)

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These are exciting times for Aston Martin and new avenues are opening with bespoke collaborations with iconic brands such as Red Bull Racing and TAG Heuer. Formula One offers the ultimate global stage to build awareness of the carmaker’s brand and the relationship with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing has created the revolutionary hypercar, the Aston Martin Valkyrie.

TAG Heuer timepieces shown in the cockpit of a racing car

The Tag Heuer Formula 1 Aston Martin Racing Special Edition watches in the cockpit of a 2018 Aston Martin Vantage

Of course, cars and watches are a pairing that, if not as old as time itself, certainly go right back to the earliest days of the automobile. What is a chronograph if not a technically complex machine strapped to your wrist? In a watch with a fine mechanical movement, the interaction between the tiny chains, gearwheels and axles (or arbors) operates with the same sort of thrilling alchemy that you find in an internal combustion engine. Some of the techniques go much further back in time, and by a considerable margin: the fusee, a conical device which reduces inconsistencies in the mechanism’s torque curve, can be spotted in the drawings of Renaissance designers and artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Filippo Brunelleschi.

Mounted timepiece by Edouard Heuer

Edouard Heuer’s dashboard-mounted Time of Trip chronograph first made in 1911

Motor racing is obviously a rather more recent phenomenon, and although other brands have worked the angles, TAG Heuer was the first to make the connection. Edouard Heuer’s dashboard-mounted Time of Trip chronograph, designed for use in cars and biplanes, appeared in 1911. In 1916, the Mikrograph arrived, a stopwatch with the ability to measure time to an unheard of one hundredth of a second. The expertise of the Heuer Watch Company soon extended to other big sporting events, including the Olympics, and by 1958 it had unveiled the Rally-Master, a dual-face device which featured a Master Time eight-day clock and a Monte Carlo stopwatch. Star drivers had also begun to appreciate the wristwatch as an appropriate accessory, and Juan Manuel Fangio was an early adopter.

But it was during the 1960s that the story intensifies, particularly when it comes to the Carrera names, originally derived from the legendary, and frequently deadly, 1950s Mexican road race, the Carrera Panamericana. Jack Heuer, Edouard’s grandson, takes up the tale:

Portrait of watchmaker Jack Heuer of Swiss brand TAG Heuer

Jack Heuer

“I first heard about the Carrera from Pedro Rodríguez at the 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race,” he recalls. “The officials were members of SCCA [Sports Car Club of America], voluntary guys, and I supplied them with their timing equipment.” Heuer was busy developing the world’s first self-winding chronograph at the time (the Calibre 11 automatic chronograph would arrive in 1969) and was searching for the right way to promote its new creations. “We were too small to go full blast with big advertising worldwide,” Heuer told me. “So I said, maybe we should try PR.”

This was a master-stroke, as it turns out. “The Rodríguez brothers were racing with Ferrari, and they were still so young they were travelling with their parents. Pedro and his brother Ricardo were two of the fastest, smartest and bravest endurance drivers of all time. To hear them talk of the Carrera made my imagination soar. Just the sound of the name itself – elegant, dynamic, easily pronounced in all languages – was charged with emotion. I thought, that’s a good name for a watch.”

Read more: Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst on the art x technology revolution

Porsche, of course, had been using the name on model derivatives since 1955, and it was one of the company’s drivers, Jo Siffert – also known as ‘Seppi’ – who really established the Heuer name in motorsport. The son of a poor Swiss farmer, Siffert hustled his way into F1, and signed a deal with Heuer in 1969 to become the company’s official brand ambassador. Significantly, this was the first non-automotive personal sponsorship deal in F1 history.

Siffert had been a Heuer fan for years and was even buying watches at cost price and then selling them to his colleagues in the pit lane. Though more closely associated with Heuer’s Autavia chronograph – colloquially known as the ‘Siffert’ by its many fans – it was his partnership with Porsche in the world sports car championship that secured Siffert’s legendary status, but also granted Heuer’s Carrera and Monaco chronographs the untouchable status they still enjoy 50 years later amongst racing and watch fans.

Steve McQueen as a racing driver in the 1971 film Le Mans

Classic style watch with black strap and silver square face

Top: Steve McQueen in the film ‘Le Mans’ in 1971. Here: the Heuer Monaco watch the actor is wearing

There is another factor we can’t overlook, however, one that’s reeling in a new generation of clients who have probably never heard of Jo Siffert. They all know the movie star Steve McQueen, however. In 1970 he was at the height of his box-office powers, and McQueen embarked on a passion project that was an ode to the famous French endurance race, the Le Mans 24 hours. The actor had first met Siffert at the Sebring 12 hours race in 1970. Along with Derek Bell, Siffert had been hired to teach McQueen how to drive a Porsche 917K for his role in the film Le Mans (1971), and although the prop master had already approached Jack Heuer about supplying watches for the film, Seppi happened to be wearing one of his anyway – a Monaco. When the film’s director, Lee H. Katzin, urged McQueen to finalise his character’s appearance, he replied, “I want to look like Jo, because he’s a real racer, a real pro”.

McQueen, the Heuer Monaco and Le Mans: it’s the gift that keeps on giving. But at least it was real, as Bell remembers. “I thought Steve drove very well. In fact, he was probably better than we all realised. He was driving that Porsche 917 around Le Mans, after all, pretty much flat out down the Mulsanne Straight, and people were scared of that car. I don’t recall him even testing it beforehand. It really was a hell of an era.”

Read more: Why now is the time to go to Sabi Sabi, South Africa

Bell continues, “I suspect he’d find the mythology that has grown around him hilarious. He was so laid back, there was no sense of the superstar thing, and that’s what came across to us the whole way through. He didn’t want to be an actor, he wanted to be a racing driver. Every spare moment he had, he’d sit with us.”

Jack Heuer, meanwhile, didn’t rest. In 1973, he did a deal with the biggest motorsport name of all, Enzo Ferrari, becoming the Scuderia’s official time-keeper, both in Formula One but also at the then recently constructed Fiorano circuit. New track-side photo cells combined with a device called the Le Mans Heuer Centigraph gave Enzo Ferrari the edge he was so adept at finding.

“Our agreement with Ferrari was key, because it is still the biggest marketing coup we ever made,” Jack Heuer says. “Ferrari was a myth and still is. I was the same age as Enzo’s lost son Dino, and I just seemed to connect with him. He was a great salesman, though, and a ferocious negotiator. He would always push for more than we could really deliver. We supplied engraved watches to all of Ferrari’s drivers in that period. It was a fantastic time.”

And a pioneering one, too. Whether by accident or design, TAG Heuer’s motorsport roots run deep, and they run true. Quite simply, it’s why we love their watches. The alignment with Aston Martin and Red Bull Racing promises to put the brand right back at the sharp end of the grid once again.

Discover the collection: tagheuer.com

British model Cara Delevingne sits on mound of earth in the African bush wearing all black for TAG Heuer campaign

TAG Heuer brand ambassador Cara Delevingne on set in South Africa for TAG’s latest campaign

Don’t Crack Under Pressure

British model and brand ambassador Cara Delevingne  travelled to the South African savannah for TAG Heuer’s latest campaign. Working with Kevin Richardson, nicknamed ‘The Lion Whisperer’ for his unique relationship with the predators, the shoot required Cara to pose for the camera while a male lion approached in the background — truly testing the brand’s ‘Don’t Crack Under Pressure’ motto. “There isn’t any human or animal on this planet that hasn’t felt pressured,” comments Cara. “Pressure doesn’t have to be a bad thing… it’s how you work under that circumstance.”

Still, working with wild animals isn’t without its dangers. Photographer David Yarrow shot from inside a cage, whilst Cara was called back to safety each time the lion came too close, allowing only a few seconds for each shot. The result is a series of strikingly raw monochrome images, one of which was auctioned off for £120,000 with the proceeds being donated to the Cara Delevingne Foundation, which supports young woman all over the world. “In this visual, Cara is shown as powerful, courageous, audacious and commanding of respect,” says Jean-Claude Biver, TAG Heuer’s CEO. “I hope her attitude and engagement with her foundation will inspire many around her to do things differently, to innovate, to take risks.”

Watch behind-the-scenes footage from the campaign:

Millie Walton

This article was originally published in the Winter 2019 issue.

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Reading time: 9 min
Arts and elegance weekend in Chantilly with Richard Millie

This year’s Richard Mille Arts & Elegance at Château de Chantilly kicked off with the inauguration of an exhibition dedicated to Nicolas Poussin‘s “Le Massacre des Innocents” with young singers and dancers leading guests round the park with performances masterfully choreographed by Richard Mille’s Artistic Director Mélanie Treton-Monceyron. In front of the château, guests admired a stunning mise en scène of Salvador Dali’s “Metamorphosis of Narcissus“, whilst inside, a choir sung a moving rendition of “Hallelujah” in front of Picasso’s “Charnier”.

 Follow LUX on Instagram: the.official.lux.magazine

The automobile rallies were similarly theatrical with close to 800 classic cars competing in the Grand Prix des Clubs. On display were some of the most famous (and beautiful) electric cars in automobile history, from 1899 to the present including La Jamais-Contente from 1899, the first vehicle ever to clear 100 km/hr, and the slick Porsche Mission E. Richard Mille partners Mutaz Barshim, Felipe Massa and Jessica von Bredow-Werndl were spotted admiring the elegant collection of Ferraris on display in celebration the brand’s 70th anniversary, whilst spectators sipped champagne on picnic blankets  in the Fiat Fan Club.

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gorden wagener with mercedes benz concept car
Due to the technological revolution, design is more integral to our daily lives than it ever has been; but creativity will always be a fundamentally human trait, says our columnist, Gorden Wagener.
Daimler head of design

Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer at Daimler

The world is changing rapidly and the pace of change keeps accelerating. Because of that, there is a growing awareness about the details of every aspect of your life. The fact that our knowledge is shared globally, instantly, has created a greater awareness of design and the things that surround us. What everybody is aiming for is to create their own perfect world, and design is a key part of achieving that.

You can see this happening in the design of cars. Just 15 years ago, you would have a car, add some instruments and surface details and that was it – there was no design at all. Now, the complexity of this process has increased by a factor of about 100. We design each and every little detail. The seats and their surfaces are very design-driven, and so is all the digital stuff. The satellite navigation screens have become such a big topic. Previously, the headlamps were just there to illuminate and it didn’t matter how they looked; now each one of them is a super-complex little piece of art and technology. And, of course, good technology always has to work hand-in-hand with good design – think of your smartphone.

Read next: Luxury tourism returns to Zimbabwe 

GW from Mercedes-Benz

Gorden Wagener in the studio

All of this has made the world change utterly, and it’s cool to be part of that movement. When I studied design, it was very much a niche. But now you see how powerful it is to the point where it’s actually transforming the world and it is reshaping multibillion-dollar industries like ours in a dramatic way. It also means there are other areas where designers can focus.

Mercedes-Benz is not just a car company but an international luxury designer label. It’s important to create a holistic brand experience that extends from the product to the retail stores (which we design) and to selected luxury goods – to create an entire world, in fact. On the one hand, that positions us well as a luxury company, and on the other, it gives us feedback from other creative design disciplines, which in turn influences our own work and opens new doors to let us create things differently.

gorden wagener with mercedes benz concept car

Gorden Wagener with a Mercedes-Benz concept design

In the past three years we have moved from being a traditional luxury company to being a modern luxury company – from the parents’ generation to the next generation, and it seems to have happened in an instant. Our aim is to attract our consumers into a total world so that they never leave Mercedes. We design their apartments, their homes, their cars, their commercial airplane, their boat and private jet, the Mercedes Me Store where they can go for dinner, and so on. It’s about creating a world that completely surrounds you.

Read next: London’s hottest property development 

Our philosophy of Sensual Purity is a new movement; no-one has combined emotion and intelligence, the two basic tenets of humanity, within a single design movement before. Our designs are becoming more simplistic while keeping their sex appeal, which is again a natural thing. In the end, simplicity is always longer lasting than drama.

Emotional intelligence is deeply enmeshed in modern luxury and it is something a computer cannot have. A computer may have more intelligence than a human one day, but emotional intelligence is different. And to this day, we still make our key sketches on a piece of paper and only then do we digitize them and render them into 3D. Humans still lead design, despite the technological revolution.

Gorden Wagener is Chief Design Officer at Daimler, parent company of Mercedes-Benz. ‘Sensual Purity: Gorden Wagener on Design’, published by Condé Nast, is available at good bookstores worldwide.

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Reading time: 3 min

Porsche_911_Turbo_Type_996

By Darius Sanai
Editor in Chief

Like art, fine wine and limited-edition watches, classic cars fall into the category of what luxury analysts call “Investments of Passion” – stuff you can enjoy while its value rises. But, leaving aside the question of potential returns, what motivates investors to buy particular assets?

One reason widely cited for the first boom in contemporary art prices, back in the 1980s, was that the new wealthy wanted to show they had earned their money themselves, and not inherited works, or tastes, from their parents.

A generation later, watch guru Jean-Claude Biver cited the same reasoning to me for the taste for contemporary and uber-complicated mechanical watches.

Fashions in fine wine wax and wane: Bordeaux, the materiel du jour just five years ago, is now as out of style as a hipster moustache.

Classic car dealers are fond of telling you that people collect the cars that featured in their bedroom wall posters when they were kids; thus the recent price rises in the likes of Ferrari Testarossas and Lamborghini Countaches, as Thatcher’s children come into serious money.

That’s true up to a point; the advertising creative directors pootling around in 1960s Porsches 911s were surely not born when their cars were.

As to my own Ferrari Testarossa, this was released to the world in a year (1984) when my bedroom posters featured The Clash and the only redhead I was interested in went to the girl’s school next to mine.

Still, one has to abide by cliché, and having acquired three fantastic Ferraris, it was time to target the dream car from earlier in my boyhood. The Porsche 911 Turbo seemed wonderfully glamorous to a small kid in drab 1979 London: a much-faster version of a car that was then a sports car for aficionados, not the daily transport it has now become.

911 Turbos have been made since 1973, and the challenge for anyone wanting to acquire an old, or rather, classic, one, is the slow discovery they are either very expensive, or slightly rubbish, or both. In my search earlier this year I sat inside numerous slightly musty 30-year-old cars, wondering what I was missing. The test drives were no better: old 911 Turbos had no performance at all til the boost arrived, and then what in 1983 was a warp-speed thump, is, in 2015, the acceleration of a fruitily-driven post-nightclub diesel cab which has been chipped. And for a price tag approaching six figures. Hmm.

FullSizeRender

So, logic led me to a much newer Porsche 911 Turbo which I knew was brilliant, because I had reviewed it when it came out, and was also, by the perverse logic of the classic car market, much cheaper. If you imagine the value curve of classic cars over time describing a V-shape, the 996 model range of the 911, produced between 1998 and 2004, is currently near the bottom of the V.

The “996” model was tainted as a whole by the fact that it was the first 911 with a water-cooled (as opposed to air-cooled) engine, an engine which moreover, proved quite fragile.

But a growing clique of aficionados recently started noting publicly that the engine in the 996 Turbo was unrelated to that in its lesser siblings, and was both hugely reliable and had a racing pedigree. Known as the “Mezger” engine after its original designer, Hans Mezger, it was derived from a design for a Porsche Le Mans car, and is starting to become something of a motoring legend.

So – a brilliant Porsche 911 Turbo, at the bottom of its depreciation curve, with a Le Mans engine. A slam dunk.

The next challenge: finding a good one. Unlike Ferraris, Porsches tend to get driven, so Pistonheads was full of ads for cars with 80,000 miles, or “low mileage” ones with 50,000 miles. “Miles are important” was a mantra taught me by one of my car gurus (a man who has made more out of his car collection than most of us will make in several lifetimes). Low mileage on a Ferrari means less than 10,000 miles; on a Porsche, I decided, it means less than 20,000. And it had to be a manual, not a semi-automatic: I am convinced that as manuals are phased out, they will become ever more desirable.

FullSizeRender[1]

One day my eye was caught by a very striking newly-advertised car in Basalt Black, with only 17,000 miles, and a host of rather nice factory extras including a carbon-fibre driver zone and Porsche “ruffled leather” seats. It was being sold at a price higher than any other 996 Turbo, by JZM, a renowned specialist in Hertfordshire.

A quick sortie, inspection and drive indicated this was the car. It felt quasi-new, had a full wallet of Official Porsche history, and had plainly lived a pampered life in a garage – even the headlights showed no sign of cloudiness, a hazard of cars living outside. There was a little wriggle room on the price, and Russ Rosenthal, director of JZM, agreed to throw in various bits to make the car absolutely sublime.

One sunny Saturday morning I took the train up to King’s Langley – less glamorous than Barcelona and Rome, where I had bought my previous two Ferraris, but pleasant nonetheless – signed bits of paperwork in JZM’s pristine showroom, and was presented with a very shiny black 2004 Porsche 911 Turbo.

I have driven every recent incarnation of the 911 Turbo extensively, and going back to this model was both a shock and a revelation. What seemed at the time (just over a decade ago) to be an ultra-modern, slick 911 now seems pleasingly old-fashioned. Push it around a fast corner with a bump in the middle, and you are suddenly aware, despite the four-wheel drive, of being in a car for so long known as a ‘widowmaker’ due to its rear-engine exerting extreme centrifugal forces (and spinning the car around).

It’s fast, too – scarily fast at full throttle, full boost acceleration – and unlike the latest models, you can actually feel the road through the steering. It’s an exciting car but with comforts like heated seats, air conditioning and even sat nav.

With perfect timing, 996 Turbo prices have started to rise since I bought mine. I went back to Russ, told him I was writing this for LUX, and asked him for his thoughts. He, in turn, told me that the interest in high-end modern classic Porsches has been a boon for companies like his – they are building new showroom to double the size of their facility – as people invest more money into the best cars. (It’s an old, and true, adage that it’s worth buying the best you can find.)

“There’s a realization that with the latest incarnation of the 911, there’s something that’s basically missing with the more recent cars. There’s a rawness from the 996 Turbo, and as the cars have gotten newer they’ve lost that edge a little bit, they’ve become a little bit softer, a little more refined, they’re not quite as raw and personally, when I jump in a nice manual 996 Turbo now, it just feels edgy and it’s something that’s lost on the later cars. I think there’s a realization, people are starting to understand that.

It applies to the Turbos but also to 911s across the board – with the latest incarnation, there is no low speed fun. I think there’s less feedback, there’s less feeling.”

Couldn’t have put it better myself. Russ says I could already sell my car for 20% more than I bought it; but with both newer and older 911 Turbos costing more, and offering less joy, I am hanging on to it. The 11-year-old me would be delighted.

jzmporsche.com

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Reading time: 6 min

By Darius Sanai
Editor in Chief

One of the truisms of collecting, whether you are Imelda Marcos hoarding shoes or a 21st century gentleman acquiring classic cars, is that enlightenment comes with possession. You research your subject, speak to fellow collectors, make an acquisition, and, through the circle of friendship and contact endowed by possession, acquire more and better knowledge.

Thus it was with my Ferrari Testarossa. The fabulous looking 1980s supercar is still being fettled to perfection by Joe Macari Ferrari, the celebrated London dealership. Joe Macari has the reputation as one of the most exacting, and most expensive, places to set your classic right. In the course of my conversations with their chief guru (gurus are essential in this game), Andrew Gill, head of aftersales and a man long-term Ferrari aficionados regard with awe, a new dream came into view.

It started when I told him , slightly playfully, that having acquired a Testarossa I was now interested in its successor, the 512 TR, a car that was basically an improved version of the Testarossa: looking just as beautiful (and almost identical), but better to drive. It is also, and this is important for a classic car’s value, rarer. There were 7177 Testarossas made (though mine is one of the 438 UK, right hand drive models), and just 2280 512TRs.

IMG_2540

Forget the 512 TR, Andrew said: the 1995-1996 512M was the car to have. “Amazing car. They ironed out all the faults and they drive like nothing else.” Another friend, a very big and respected collector, gave it the nod also and said he’d even go halves with me if I found one.

The 512M was the final iteration of the Testarossa series, and one of the most outrageous looking Ferraris ever. It was given a dramatic aerodynamic makeover which divided opinion at the time (I remember thinking at the time it looked cool and fast, but no longer like a Testarossa) but now looks slick and modern, 20 years on. And its mechanical credentials were legendary. Essentially, the 512M was a racier, lighter, faster and more hi-tech version of the 512TR, down to the engine’s titanium alloy connecting rods and variable pitch valve springs.

 It was Ferrari’s flagship. When it came out, it was the fastest Ferrari and for a while the fastest car in the world. It was also a beast, the last mid-engined production 12-cylinder Ferrari, the end of a line that started with the 365 GT/4 Berlinetta Boxer in 1973, with all the flamboyance that implies. Its successors, from the 550 Maranello to today’s F12, all have engines in front and are far more sober looking.

And there were only 501 made, in the world. I really wanted one.

F512M interior

But where to find one? Calls to friends in the Ferrari universe saying I wanted one received replies of the “so does everyone else” variety. Someone knew of one coming from Japan; no, already been sold. A classic dealer had one advertised in southern Germany, but he wasn’t getting back to me and, no, sold weeks ago. A friend in Switzerland knew of a friend who had one, but values were going up and he wasn’t selling. One in Holland: but lots of miles and looked a bit tired. One at auction in London, but it was missing a lot of history. If you don’t have history, you have to take the mileage and the fact that it has been maintained properly on trust.

One evening, an ad popped up on an alert from an Italian website I subscribe to. Yellow 512M, great history and condition, low miles. I rang the number. “So sorry,” said the owner, a gentleman I would guess in his 70s. A dealer had seen the ad hours earlier, come over with cash (more than 200,000 euros in cash!) and taken the car. When dealers rush for cars, you know they’re hot.

Two days later, on a Friday, another alert, this time from a Spanish specialist site, a car in Barcelona. Pictures, obviously taken by an amateur, of a car on a sunny hillside. Ferrari Red (rosso corsa) with red and black carbon fibre racing bucket seats, a rare option. Only 12,000 miles, a 1995 car, always serviced at a main dealer. An even better car. I dropped the iPad and rang. “Yes, there are lots of people calling,” said a distinguished voice in Spanish. “Dealers, who don’t even speak Spanish!” (a disgusted tone). “I am going away until Tuesday night”. The ad only stated a landline, which meant nobody would get through to him until then.

I’ll meet you on Wednesday at 9am at the Ferrari dealership in Barcelona, I said, to get the car inspected and seal the deal. He agreed. Nobody would be able to get there before me, or would they?

On the Tuesday evening, I flew out to Barcelona and settled in at the Majestic. I had to finish some work, and then drank a couple of cocktails by the (closed) rooftop pool. What if he didn’t show up? What if someone else had managed to get hold of him and put a deposit down sight unseen on the phone, common with such desirable cars? What if the car was not as good as advertised? Did I really want to spend this money on a car which, until last year, had just been another old money pit? Was I ahead of the market or a sucker? A. wasn’t answering his phone.

At 9 the next day, A. (as I will call him) was there, besuited, with his 512M already up on a ramp at Ferrari Barcelona. It looked so clean and barely used, underneath and above. “We service all his Ferraris,” the mechanic told me. All? What others does he have? “A F50 and a 550 Maranello,” he said, naming more than a million euros worth of car. “And then there are all the Porsches and the Aston DB6 and the Rolls…”

A., a scion of Barcelona society in his late-sixties, was delightful. I looked over the car in detail, a list of tips in my hand from both Andrew Gill and the experts on the Ferrarichat online forum. We agreed a price, subject to a full formal inspection by the dealership. I gave him a copy of one of my magazines containing a feature I had written about Ferraris. He zoomed off and came back with a full set of bespoke Schedoni luggage for the car, which hadn’t been mentioned before (market value, more than £10,000). He threw it in for free. We left the 512M with the dealership and he took me for the finest paella I have had, and then a tour of his cars at his stunning modern hillside home (next to Neymar’s house) and in his storage garage. The 512M was neither the fastest or finest of his possessions. We spoke in a blend of French and Spanish, and I pondered that any English or German dealer who had rung A. would not have been able to communicate. He received several messages about enquiries about the car.

The dealership rang me. “We’re emailing the results through,” they said. These included a compression test, which doesn’t lie. It was perfect; as beautiful an example as you could dream of. We shook hands, I transferred the money and boarded a flight to Switzerland for a business meeting the next day, with the elegant gentlemen of Ferrari Barcelona looking after the car for us. A couple of weeks later, my 512M arrived in Britain. I entrusted it to Roger Collingwood of The Ferrari Centre in Kent, a former racing mechanic so honest he needs to be reminded by customers to send his invoices. It passed its UK inspections with flying colours and received a number plate.

I took the train out to Kent to drive it back to its London garage home. The flat-12 engine rumbled behind my ears like a pair of growling hunting dogs. The steering told you everything about the road and more – it has no power assistance and is heavy and astonishingly direct and real compared to today’s cars. The gearlever is grumpy and obstructive when cold but slashing it through the bare metal gate is a joy in itself on the go. The carbon fibre seats are amazingly comfortable. At speed, around corners, it feels on edge (with a big 12 cylinder engine behind you) alive like no modern car and just a little bit dangerous – it has no traction control of any kind, apart from the driver. And the howl when you take those lightweight pistons towards the top of the rev range is properly frightening – you feel this is why they made the car. Even idling, you are always aware of those two angry mastiffs behind you – I keep wondering if a superbike is dawdling by the rear three quarter flank of my car, only to realise it’s my own engine.

While it is now 20 years old and not as fast as any of today’s Ferraris, it feels very fast because it’s so raw, and it is still a properly quick supercar (200 mph, 0-60 in 4.1 seconds).

 Its value has also risen 50% in the six months since I bought it. A is happy, as I paid a strong price at the time; we went to his wedding last month. I don’t intend to sell it anytime soon; it is one of the greatest Ferraris ever made, and I recommend tracking down one of the remaining 500 or so in the world before the prices hit the moon.

Meanwhile, the bug hit again. The 512M’s successor, the 550 Maranello of 1997, was as different as it is possible to be: front engined, understated, wearing a Milanese suit rather than a Versace shirt and Gucci loafers. But a magnificent car, even more powerful, and apparently much easier to handle. Prices seemed very low. With two outrageous Ferraris for those Versace moments, I needed something sober suited and sleek: bespoke Zegna. Time to start looking for one.

(to be continued…)

Darius Sanai

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Reading time: 8 min

cars-1The head of future mobility at the world’s leading luxury car manufacturer predicts that the transformation of the auto market will come slowly, but surely. Herbert Kohler

As a company, as announced a few years ago, we are preparing the platforms of our cars to adapt to hybridisation [the use of electric and combustion engines in the same car]. We have done this with very good results in the [mid-sized] E-Class, but we have to admit that the market has changed a little since: hybrids are not the only way to dramatically reduce CO₂ emissions anymore. Look at the [big SUV] M-Class and you can see that a [diesel] combustion engine by itself can reach emission rates lower than 160g CO₂/km, which is outstandingly good. Nobody would have imagined that three or four years ago.

Still, the latest development is plug-in hybrid technology [where the electric engine is powered by batteries charged by mains electricity] with the S-Class, with preparations taking place to use the technology in other cars in the future. However, that depends on market acceptance, and nobody can realistically claim to predict that. The technology is fantastic and outstanding in terms of the technical challenge and solution; there is no question about that.

But the question is: how does this technology fit in and work from the market side, from the consumers’ side? And there is not only one market. There are different markets – China, the rest of Asia, Europe, the US and the rest of the world. It will come step by step and we are all feeling our way.

There are different opinions in the market. On the one side, you have the consumers who love such developments and are more passionate and committed to sustainability. Others do not care about that sort of thing, or not that extensively. And most people have no clear idea of the technology involved. In itself, this is not a disaster. But there is a tendency to associate with the word ‘hybrid’ – that this means the car has less emissions, that it is cheap but with as good a performance as before, and that there are no restrictions in the package. Most people would like to have all that without the additional costs – it’s a very attractive idea.

An important point to make is that [car manufacturers] cannot survive solely on the purchases of those who are really committed, on the consumers who say, “I really want to have that technology, and I will bear the extra costs because I know it is a positive thing to do”. I would say that they are less than five per cent of the market. You cannot build a business on less than five per cent.

There is a global move towards reducing emissions. China and Japan are in the same situation as Europe and the US. If you sum up the volumes of these countries, it adds up to more than 50 per cent of the world market, so it is clear we have to be guided by that. And then there’s the requirement for high technology and specification, from the Middle East, for instance, and such markets might not be as interested in the consumption side.

It is not possible to predict the future with certainty, as we all know. But we think there is strong movement behind plug-in hybrid motoring technology. I remember seven or eight years ago, when the first realistic ideas were being aired about plug-in hybrids. The initiative actually came from our Van department. Due to some requirements in the US, they asked if we were planning to do a plug-in hybrid. Our response at that time was, “Is this really necessary?”

My reason for recounting this is that there is a lot of development going on and there are a lot of new ideas, so it’s very difficult to say today what will happen in the next 10 years. I do think we will have more plug-ins in the future, because we’ve got good technical solutions without the compromise of additional costs or the lack of driveability. Nobody would want a luxury hybrid car with an electric mode that drives very slowly; nobody would pay for that. We are convinced that the time will come for [hydrogen] fuel cell and hybrid cars and that will bring us additional momentum, not being appropriate at the moment for the entire portfolio. But certainly [compact cars] will go in that direction for the next generation, and it will conquer other segments step by step. The technology is a given, we can do it, but it is also important not to swallow too much from the beginning. We need to do it step by step.

cars-2

Our biggest challenge in all this is infrastructure [the network of electrical charging points for plug-in cars, which is mostly incomplete or non-existent around the world]. We will not get involved with it because it is not our core business and we are not willing to compete against energy suppliers – that would not make sense for us. We therefore have to rely on those who are more interested in it to grow in that direction. And sometimes there aren’t enough companies who wish to develop in that direction, so there is always an intensive struggle behind the curtain about that. This is one of the biggest challenges, but of course we also have a lot of technical challenges, as with any new technology. On the engineering side we have developed a very good cooperation with Nissan and Ford.

To showcase our technologies on this front is the S-Class [the new large saloon launched at the end of last year] for several reasons: it has autonomous and semi-autonomous driving modes, the most advanced safety features, and a plug-in hybrid solution. It shows everything we can do right now.

Professor Herbert Kohler is Chief Environmental Officer of Daimler AG, parent company of Mercedes-Benz; mercedes-benz.com

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Ergonomics, style and sound. Sports car technology, intelligently combined.

Ergonomics, style and sound. Sports car technology, intelligently combined.

In which Darius Sanai experiences the latest model of the most iconic sports car of all, and an updated version of a modern legend 

Porsche 911 C4S Convertible

Pity is not an emotion that has commonly been projected onto purchasers of Porsches over the decades. Envy, loathing, awe, respect — all of these have their place. But pity?

Yet I do feel for purchasers of the latest Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet, and, more particularly, for the car’s makers. They are judged by an impossibly high standard.

When comparing benchmark wines against each other, it is standard practice, among professionals and amateurs, to do so ‘blind’, in a quasi-scientific setup that ensures each product is (theoretically) judged on its virtues alone, and not its reputation.

It is impossible to do so with cars. Even if you were to blindfold a driver until he was seated, and to cover up the badges in the interior, most driving enthusiasts would recognise the interior style of a new sports car as belonging to a brand with which they are familiar: whether it’s Aston Martin’s architectural cool, AMG’s metallic chic or Ferrari’s boyish flair. In the case of the Porsche 911, one look at the rev-counter dominating the instrument pod and the sweep of the interior door handles is enough. Even though the latest 911 may have no visible parts carried over from its predecessors, it is plainly a 911.

And that means it is judged as a 911: not just an icon but a benchmark, the 911 is to sports cars what Château Lafite is to wine or (currently anyway) what Bayern Munich is to football. Everyone wants to try and beat it; everything else is the underdog.

Even the most ostensibly unbiased enthusiast may fall into the trap. Drive the latest Aston Martin, or speedy Jaguar, or Audi, and you err on the side of the positive. You forgive. The steering that is not quite right is ignored in favour of the handling balance that is. Traction that may be questionable is overlooked in favour of blowout mid-range performance. Back seats that aren’t really usable are less relevant than the machined finishing on the dashboard. You are constantly thinking: is it as good as a Porsche? Is it better? Parts of it are better!

Porsches, like all cars, are constantly improving: each generation is faster, smoother, more economical, roomier, more efficient. And the 911 can only be benchmarked against itself. I climbed in to the 911 C4S Cabrio, and, instead of marvelling at its stunning exterior — stretched, slicker, smarter than before — and modernised, roomier interior, immediately asked myself whether the electronically-aided steering system would be as alive as the wonderfully tactile steering in its predecessor model.

I realized I was preparing to judge the 911 on a different standard to any other sports car: not asking whether it was fun, fast, well-made and complete, but whether it was perfect: whether every element of it was an improvement on every element of every one of its predecessors.

And that would be falling into the trap I outlined above. So, instead, here are my views on the new 911 C4S Cabrio — at the moment the fastest of Porsche’s convertibles, with an uprated engine, as well as four-wheel drive — as if written by someone encountering the brand for the very first time.

Firstly, it looks stunning. Mine was in silver with a crimson roof, and matching crimson interior — every centimeter of the seats, doors and dash leather was crimson. Very, very cool. Even in more standard colours, the extended back and elongated light cluster on the rear give it an elegance that adds to the 911 squatness (necessary because the engine is in the back). It instantly makes all the previous models look a little squitty.

The interior is functional and purposeful, rather than chic: the red dash leather is a good idea because I imagine that in black it might look a little basic. There are lots of switches and the instrument display is absolutely clear and crisp. There is a surprising amount of room: much more headroom than in any other sports car (even with the convertible roof) and so much rear legroom that my long-legged 11-year-old could happily sit straight while my long-legged wife sat in front with her legs stretched out.. The downside, according to the rear seat passengers, is that the seat squab itself is flat and you have to sit very straight up. Fine for a fit nearly-teen child, not so good for a bibulous adult.

You may imagine that the slim front area of a 911 doesn’t offer much of a boot/trunk and it’s certainly an odd shape, stretching deeper than it does long, but it’s surprisingly commodious. It can take a couple of weekend bags, tennis rackets and other bric-a-brac with ease — apparently golf clubs fit comfortably in it (although I would think that if you are keen on golf perhaps a Jaguar might suit you more).

The convertible roof is very quick and easy to raise and lower electrically, and you can now do so while outside the car by pressing a button on the key, which makes for a good show on the street if you are hiding behind another car. You do need to keep pressing hard, though, or it stops and reverses its movements next press; in the end I found it easier to do so using the button in the car.

Instantly noticeable on driving the 911 is the beautiful purity of the accelerator’s response. There is no mechanical connection these days between the pedal and any engine — it’s all done by computer, like flying an Airbus. As a result fast cars can suffer from one of two ailments: over-eager programming that sends the car spurting forward as soon as you brush the pedal, which is both tiring and inauthentic; and turbo-response, which means wildly differing amount of go per touch on the pedal depending on where you are in the rev range.

The 911 suffers from neither of these. Instead, you feel like you are coaxing that powerful six-cylinder engine gently from a prowl to a growl and then finally a wild sprint.

I spent the first couple of days with the Porsche driving it like a sports car: engaging the Sport option that speeds up responses and firms up the suspension, measuring my way into corners and blasting out, noting with satisfaction that, pushed hard, it has a wonderfully interesting tendency to remind you the engine really is at the back — the 911 thrill, although I shouldn’t be noting that as I am playing the 911 novice here. I can’t think of a better sports car.

On the last day I had an early-morning journey entirely within central London, so I flipped it into lazy-automatic mode. Comfort suspension, automatic gearbox. How would it cope? Would it feel like a caged lion? Would the automatic gear changes to maximise engine efficiency mean you never got into the speedy range of the engine, and thus lacked performance to zip into gaps in traffic?

It was surprisingly good: quiet, smooth, with enough low-rev muscle to remind you that you were in a seriously fast car. Not as intuitive as a sports car with a proper automatic gearbox like an AMG Mercedes, perhaps, but this is technically an automated manual, not a traditional automatic, although the differences are becoming increasingly moot.

And how was the steering? It is precise, well-weighted, intuitive, and gets more communicative the harder you drive. I suspect that on a circuit it would be brilliant. Compared to all the other super-sports cars out there, it’s near the very top. Putting the 911-critic hat back on, I would, if pressed, say it’s not quite as tactile as the previous version of the 911 that went off sale last year. It means the car, as a whole, is perhaps a tad more grown up. Less instantly loveable, perhaps, but a better machine. And if you want fun, all you have to do is lower the roof, punch Sport, and the (optional) exhaust button that makes the car sound fabulous, and take off. At the price, the 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet is impossible to beat.

LUX Rating: 18.5/20

Chassis control systems make a key contribution to the 911 driving experience

Chassis control systems make a key contribution to the 911 driving experience

Porsche’s iconic 911 celebrates its 50th birthday this year. To mark the occasion, LUX spoke to Vic Elford, former racing and rally legend and one of the most famous 911 drivers of all time, for his view on how the icon has developed over the decades.

LUX: What is the defining driving characteristic of a 911?
Vic Elford: Unlike many ‘luxury’ cars of today which apparently think for themselves, the Porsche 911 can not be left to just wander around on its own — it needs a firm, knowledgeable hand in control at all times!

How does it compare to its peers when driven on track?
The simple answer is, it has no peers! There is no other car like the 911 in what it can do and how it does it. Sure you can make some Ferraris go fast, even some modern Corvettes, although they do it by brute force and not engineering superiority.

Is each generation of 911 better than the last, in what way?
I would say, “I would say different, but not necessarily better”. For example, in my ‘Porsche High-Performance Driving Handbook’ originally published in 1994 and still selling well in it’s second edition today, the chapter on ‘Driving in Unusual Conditions’ explains how to drive fast on snow or ice; but since the advent of on-board electronics which take over when they think the driver has overstepped his or her ability, some of those manouevres are impossible to do with a modern car. And you can’t switch them off; they are always waiting in the background ready to switch on again when they think something is wrong.

Have they become less thrilling even as they have become more sophisticated?
In some ways, yes, as noted above.

Which are your favourite 911s to drive in the real world, and why?
Older versions where I decided what the car was going to do, not the car itself!

What are your favourite 911 memories?
In 1967, only the second time I had driven a 911, I should have won the Monte Carlo Rally, but quirky regulations meant that although we were leading as we approached the Col de Turini for the very last speed test before the finish, I had no snow tires available when it started to snow heavily. I finished third. So my favorite moment was the following year, 1968, when for the first time the Monte Carlo Rally was a pure scratch event — fastest driver in the fastest car wins. I did! First time for Porsche, last time for a Brit!

911s used to have a reputation that they needed handling with care — do you think this is still true?
Years ago the 911 had a reputation created by people who had no idea what they were doing. A 911 is a very gentle understeering car but early ones, especially the short wheelbase which was so effective in rallies in the late 1960s, were extremely sensitive to the input from the driver, especially in the way it affected the balance of the car. Modern versions are too, but to a much lesser extent as improved chassis engineering and having tires that fit the performance of the car iron out most of the problems for normal drivers.

Would you encourage 911 owners to get onto the track?
Sure; why not? Just make sure you read my book first and then get really expert tuition from an approved driving school or from the expert driving consultants at a Porsche Experience Centre.

If you could have one 911 from any era to race, which would it be?
A 1967/68 911R with a 2 litre four-cam engine!!! (If you have never heard of that engine, look it up. I think I am the only driver who ever used it).

If you could have one 911 from any era to own and drive every day, which would it be?
Since I discovered and analysed the need for it and then wrote the original specification, I would have to say, ‘The Porsche RS America’, 1993. Preferably in Sky Blue, my favourite colour!

World Class Dynamics - The new revised V12 engine makes this the most powerful DB9 every produced

World Class Dynamics
– The new revised V12 engine makes this the most powerful DB9 every produced

Aston Martin DB9 Volante

It is hard to believe it has been 10 years since Aston Martin launched the DB9. Motoring experts point to its predecessor, the late 1990s-issue DB7, as the car that saved the company, selling more units than all Aston models before it put together. But the DB9 was something else. While the DB7 still had hints of old-fashioned English sports car about it — parts of it were based on the 1970s Jaguar XJS — the DB9 was strikingly, brilliantly modern.

Here was a British sports car which you wouldn’t dream of specifying with walnut wood on the dash and black piped Connolly hide on the seats accompanied by a Racing Green Exterior. It had to be metallic grey or black, with anthracite leather, all the better to show off the metallic-chic dash. The DB9 belonged to an industrial-chic, minimalist, modernist school of design — indeed, it was at its vanguard. It was equipped only with a V12 engine, looked superb with brushed aluminium and carbon fibre adorning its interior, and was a quantum leap over any other Aston in terms of driving appeal.

It was developed with a personal passion by Dr Ulrich Bez, the transformational CEO of the company who is also a successful racing driver. My first experience of the car was in a pre-production model driven on the country roads around the factory between London and Birmingham by Dr Bez himself.

Brilliant and highly desirable though it was, the DB9 was not perfect. Its imperfections were minor and masked by those wonderful avant-garde looks and that beautiful-sounding engine. They crept up on you slowly. In my first drive with Dr Bez, I couldn’t help notice that for such a sophisticated-looking car, its ride seemed ever so brittle. Drive onto a change of road surface and you could feel the change with a thump, and seemingly no suppleness in the suspension.

I drove an early DB9 to Scotland and back and returned with a blend of exhilaration and doubt. This was an involving, entertaining car to drive; but pushed like a sports car, its responses weren’t as progressive or intuitive as they should have been. It wasn’t agile, like a Porsche 911, and it wasn’t as relaxing as a Bentley.

It did look beautiful though.

Now, a decade later, there is a new DB9, although in terms of its looks it is strictly evolutionary. It looks like a sleeker, updated version of the original, particularly from its mean, flat front end. But there’s no mistaking what it is. The interior has also had the touch of a gentle magic wand: you know things have changed, but it’s unmistakeably a DB9 and you would be hard-pressed to say what, exactly, has changed.

Nearly 50 per cent of all parts and more than 70 per cent of all body panels are new

Nearly 50 per cent of all parts and more than 70 per cent of all body panels are new

The engine, still a V12, has 60 horsepower more than the original, taking it to 510, and while this sounds like a lot, it is worth bearing in mind that the lead two-seater super-convertible at the time of the Aston’s original launch, the Mercedes SL55 AMG, managed more or less that kind of output a full 10 years ago. (Its successor has even more now.) And the Aston is not a lightweight car.

For the purposes of an honest assessment, I took along as a passenger a friend who bought one of the first DB9s to appear in 2003 and who still owns it, among numerous other cars. (His is a coupe, while my new test car was a convertible ‘Volante’ version). His immediate response a few seconds after we set off down a central London road was that this model was far more refined, quiet, and smooth in its ride. “It’s like being in a saloon car,” he said. “Mine is like a wooden go-kart in comparison.”

The actual driving experience is also very different, although subtly so. The car sounds the same — that is to say, magnificent — and you still know you are at the helm of a long two-seater super-sports car. This DB9’s responses are smooth, accurate, progressive: it is a relaxing car to drive slowly through traffic, especially when you hit the D button for fully-automatic mode. It heads into corners with gentle determination, or with gusto when you push it, although at speed you are more aware that this is quite a heavy car, despite the admirable flatness of the suspension. What is new is the suppleness to both ride and handling: there is no crashing of suspension, no unnecessarily sudden responses. It makes for a far more satisfying and relaxing experience.

The engine wails mellifluously when you accelerate, and this, combined with the looks which are as striking today as on the previous model, means it scores highly on the head-turn-o-meter I use while driving among tourists in central London. (Most accurately measured by the scientific measurement of cp/h, or cellphone pictures per hour.)

The Aston also has two back seats, although you need very understanding children if you are planning to sit them there (adults won’t fit) and they are best suited to Hermès and Chanel bags, including the larger sizes.

It seems almost all the niggles of the previous DB9 have been ironed out in this new model, although I should mention one factor that will be of concern to a minority of readers. The acceleration is fast, true and smooth, as a V12’s should be: but the car lacks the ultimate punch of today’s latest cars of this price, most of which would leave the Aston behind on cross-country blast (I am thinking in particular of the Ferrari California and Mercedes SL63 AMG). This may only make a difference of mere minutes to a journey, but it also means that an overtaking manoeuvre that is accomplished easily by those other cars might be tight in the Aston: and that’s not necessarily what you might expect from a car with an Aston Martin badge and a V12 engine and a price tag to match.

If that doesn’t worry you — and in most places, you won’t be able to use the car’s full power in any case — then the new DB9 Volante is as beautiful as it gets, and now refined, sophisticated and modern to go with it.

LUX Rating: 18/20

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Reading time: 15 min

 

OVER THE PAST DECADE, MERCEDES-BENZ AMG MODELS HAVE BECOME A BYWORD FOR THE ULTIMATE COMBINATION OF POWER, LUXURY AND EXCITEMENT. Guy Fiorita SPENT A COUPLE OF DAYS AT AN EXCLUSIVE OWNERS’ EVENT, GETTING TO KNOW THESE THOROUGHBREDS OF THE ROAD – AND FALLING IN LOVE WITH THEM

I’m not a car fanatic, a speed freak or adrenaline junkie. I don’t particularly enjoy driving fast. When I learned to drive, I made a conscious effort at smoothness. The goal of any good driver, I thought, was to drive so that your passenger hardly noticed the movement. No sudden turns or slamming of brakes. Right?

“Wrong, all wrong,” comes a voice on a walkietalkie by my side. “You have to hit the brake much, much harder. Jam it as hard as you can and pull the steering wheel to the left.”

Sitting behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG, stopped in the middle of a racetrack, I had have obviously blown my first test. The voice is Former British Formula 3 and DTM racer Marco Engel, my team leader. I’ve just finished the first leg of the first day of training and I am already coming up short.

The racetrack is in Andalucia, Spain and I am here as part of an AMG Private Lounge event. My co-drivers are all AMG Mercedes owners. The chassis number on their cars qualified them to join the AMG Private Lounge, of which there are now more than 20,000 members. The thirty or so here with me are mostly from Germany and the UK but also from as far away as Brazil, the US and Lebanon. These are people who are serious enough about their cars and driving not only to have paid the price of an AMG but to have splashed out a few thousand extra to spend two days speeding around a racetrack having orders barked at them by professional race car drivers.

The Lounge event is taking place at the Ascari Race Resort. We were helicoptered in the day before from Marbella. From above, the track is a beautiful expanse of tarmac that twists its way through the rolling hills. This 5.4 kilometres track with a total of 26 total turns was once called “the most challenging race track in the world,” by some guy named Fernando Alonso and I get the feeling I’m soon going to find out why.

Earlier this morning we were divided into groups and now each is out on a section of the track being put through their paces by one of the instructors. AMG has brought along an impressive group of rock-star drivers like F1 and Le Mans racer Karl Wendlinger, endurance racer Roland Rehfeld and four-time Mercedes DTM champion Bernd Scheidner.

They have their work cut out for them with me. Back on the track I am finding that this Lounge is anything but relaxing. After my initial break and turn failure, we move onto a series of warm-up exercises including a combination of fast slalom, cornering technique, trail braking and handling parcours, skid pad and lead and follow training. At the end of each exercise we stop just long enough to switch cars between the AMG CLS 63, SLS, SLK and my soon-to-be favourite, the C63 AMG Black Series.

And off we go again. Around and around. I soon find I am pushing the limits, if not of the car then at least my own. I’ve been bitten. The faster I go, the faster I want to go. At one stage in the loop, we get to drag race against another driver. Each time I punch the gas a little harder and break a little later. I’m surprised by how much I want to win. I never do, except once when the other driver was penalised for stopping outside the box.

And it is not only the speed that’s got me. It’s the sound. The primitive, guttural rumble of an AMG is exhilarating. No wonder owners say it was one of the main factors in their decision to purchase one.

Later that day I get a chance to see how it should be done, this time as a passenger in a Pagani Huayra. Equipped with a Mercedes-AMG V12 engine that produces 720 horsepower, this brandnew Italian hypercar has a top speed in excess of 230 mph (370 km/h). By the time I get myself strapped into the passenger seat, my Italian driver is already giving me the thumbs-up. “Ready,” he says and something suddenly pushes me deep into my seatback and I find out what 0–60 miles per hour in just three seconds feels like. The rest of the lap is a jostling blur that proves once and for all that I knew nothing about real driving. There was nothing smooth about that, I say to myself as I walk away on wobbly legs.

Looking at the itinerary the next morning I thought that the “On Road Experience” and the  chance to take a leisurely drive through the Andalusian countryside at the wheel of a classic AMG would be more my pace, but my pace had obviously changed. Halfway through the drive, beautiful as it was, I found myself itching to get back on the track. Before I could however, I was taken off road in a Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG. The vehicle proved to have impressive power as we slogged our way over the muddy hills around the resort grounds but I was here for speed.

Which is exactly what I lacked as we lined up for the big event of the day, a team trail where all the times are added together and the lowest total time receives a prize. I really want this one, or at least I don’t want to let my team down. They’ve been so patient. So this time I really go for it, pushing myself faster and faster until I come skidding to a stop, dead centre in the box. Perfect. I look over to see that my time is just a few seconds worse than the slowest member of our team. Not bad for a non-speed freak. The proud moment is short lived. It appears I’d missed two gates and hit a cone along the way too. It all adds up to 15 seconds of penalty time and knocks my team out of any chance for a victory.

Fortunately everyone’s attention quickly turns to the last event of the day and the chance to run a few laps in a true race car, the SLS AMG GT3. The top-of-the-range of Mercedes-Benz cars, it is a strictly limited edition and so extreme you are not allowed to use it on the road. This was universally considered the highlight of the whole Lounge by my co-drivers. Personally I found the asbestos suit, the helmet with just an opening for the eyes and a driver’s cage that took a Houdini-like effort to get into, almost unbearably claustrophobic. On the track, the car’s raw power is scary and I am afraid it remains beyond my skill set. The experience, however, certainly gave me a new-found respect for race drivers.

I may not have come here much of a “car person,” but by the end of the three days, having driven, and heard, enough horse-power to propel a horde of Mongolians across the Steppe, something in me has changed. Now as the shuttle slowly winds its way back to Malaga airport, I sit leaning over the seatback in front of me like a restless child, watching the road ahead. “Are we there yet,” I ask the driver. “No, about another hour,” he answers. After my AMG Private Lounge experience, I’m confident that I could do it in half that time. And as I watch the olive groves move slowly past my window, one thing becomes perfectly clear, I’d sure love the chance to try.

mercedes-amg.com 

 

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