August 22, 2014
Mary Barra made corporate history seven months ago when she became the first female CEO of a major global carmaker.
August 22, 2014
We still get a little tingly when we look at our long-term Opulent Blue Cadillac CTS Vsport test car, and the tingle sinks in deeper when we think about the power under that sultry hood. With its twin turbos, this car makes as much power as another high-profile four-door in our long-term fleet, the Audi S7. But the Caddy uses just 3.6 liters and six cylinders to make its 420 horsepower; the Audi, a 4.0-liter V-8. In our initial testing, the CTS hit 60 mph in 4.6 seconds and posted 0.95 g on the skidpad. The twin-turbo’s brutal, addictive shove means that we tend to arrive at the end of long freeway-entrance ramps well beyond merge-ready speeds and don’t often use much less than full throttle when accelerating away from stops. We’re smitten with the look of the car’s nose at night, with those vertical LED stacks aglow in an image straight off the Mulsanne straight. Giggity. READ MORE ››
August 22, 2014
While we often wonder whether some hair dye, a new beard, and a ’99 Ford Taurus might be more effective at eluding assassination than buying an armored luxury car, discretion isn’t what keeps BMW’s factory-warrantied and armored Security models driving off showroom floors.
Bavaria’s latest breed of bullet-resistant SUVs is the Security Plus version of the X5; it’s scheduled to debut at the Moscow auto show next week. According to BMW, it’s built to protect the wealthy in poor, politically unstable regions such as South America, Africa, and Russia. You know, those places where drawing attention to yourself by driving a shiny new BMW makes sense.
“The risk of armed violence—and in particular, attack with automatic weapons like the AK-47—is a fact of everyday life for certain customers,” BMW says. Since the base X5 Security can only handle weapons involved with “general street crime” up to a .44 Magnum, the Security Plus steps up to handle AK fire anywhere on the body. Although the X5 models can’t sustain bomb blasts and take the heavier fire afforded by the 7-series High Security—the Bavarian equivalent of the Mercedes-Benz S600 Guard—they do offer all-wheel drive and the slightly less flashy SUV shape.
A 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 with 450 hp is likely the only engine choice, although considering all that extra weight, we’d prefer to have the 555-hp unit from the last X5 M. The suspension, brakes, and electronic safety systems have been upgraded accordingly, however. X5 Security models start life like any X5 in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and are then shipped to BMW’s Mexican plant in Toluca for upfitting. Pricing is available only upon request.
- New Armored Mercedes S600 Guard Invites All the M60 Rounds You Can Muster
- 2014 BMW X5 xDrive50i Tested: Electronically Enhanced SUV Seeks the Well-Heeled
- BMW X5 News, Reviews, Photos, Specs, Pricing, and More
BMW promises “neither bullets nor splinters can penetrate the passenger compartment” due to the steel plating and additional sealing around the window frames and pillars. A full complement of blue lights, sirens, two-way radios, and other “official-business” tchotchkes are also available. Unless you’re driving your other armored car to the dealership, we suggest having your X5 Security Plus delivered to your secure hide-out.
August 22, 2014
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- Cadillac ATS to go racing in 2015 as CTS.V.R replacement
Cadillac has been racking up victories with the CTS.V.R in Pirelli World Challenge racing for two model generations now, including recent GT class championships in 2012 and 2013. However, even winning racers eventually have to retire, and it looks like the CTS may be taking a bow at the end of the season. In its place, Caddy is reportedly working on a new racecar based on the ATS Coupe, and it might even get to compete internationally.
According to Racer, Pratt & Miller Engineering is leading the development and is already lapping the ATS racecar in Michigan for testing. It reportedly drops the CTS’ V8 in favor of a twin-turbocharged V6 powering the rear wheels. Since this is the same team behind the hugely successful Corvette Racing program and the current CTS.V.R, the latest car appears to be in good hands.
The new model would also adhere to GT3 rules, according to Racer, and that might signal a big change for Cadillac’s motorsports program. It means that the ATS could be sold to teams in the numerous series around the world that accept these vehicles. That would broaden the luxury coupe’s exposure and put it up against GT3 racecars from premium brands, like Bentley, Porsche and McLaren. If it wins, the change could be a marketing bonanza for the brand.
Autoblog spoke to Cadillac spokesperson Brian Corbett about the brand’s future in motorsports. He wouldn’t confirm any details about the company’s plans for next season, but he confirmed that “there’s no plan to leave” Pirelli World Challenge racing. He said there would be more specifics at a later time.
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August 22, 2014
© AFP | Prime minister Tony Abbott enjoys a beer or two
A list of what’s available for Australian prime minister Tony Abbott to wine and dine official government visitors has been released this week, and let me tell you: it ain’t pretty.
While visitors to Buckingham Palace could feasibly be served up a bottle of 1961 Château Latour (depending, of course, on how important they are), guests of the Aussie government might have to choke down a glass of well-past-its-best Moscato or wildly uninspiring Shiraz.
The cellar – spread across Abbott’s government-appointed homes in Sydney and Canberra – consists of 170 bottles worth a total of U.S.$ 4300, coming out to an average price of $ 25.29 per bottle. Now this is probably my own personal household average, but I am hardly entertaining Barack Obama.
And when we consider that the equivalent cellar in the U.K. has an average bottle price of £77 ($ 128), a trip to London is looking more and more enticing. Sunny Australian beaches have got nothing on a decent glass of wine.
The wine list is notable for its omissions, although perhaps Abbott got thirsty and decided to drink the good stuff rather than the five-year-old bottles of Sauvignon Blanc and Moscato that still remain. There’s no Henschke Hill of Grace, no Jim Barry Armagh, no de Bortoli Noble One. Yalumba doesn’t feature; d’Arenberg is ignored.
And, for God’s sake, there’s no Grange. There’s none of Australia’s most famous and expensive and most famous wine! My co-worker, who drives a beat-up Toyota Corolla, has two bottles of Grange in his cellar. The Australian government has none.
Perhaps it’s simply that the prime minister doesn’t care. Mr Abbott is known to enjoy a beer or two. Indeed, his North Sydney constituency of Warringah is recorded as the heaviest drinking electorate in Australia, which is some going.
Having said all of that, there are some very agreeable wines on the list. Shaw and Smith features, as does Clonakilla, Cullen and Ben Glaetzer. There are a few different Penfolds wines, although that is completely irrelevant as there’s no Grange. Did I mention there’s no Grange?
Various Australian wine personalities have lambasted the selection vigorously. Jeremy Oliver told the Sydney Morning Herald that the selection was “tragic and bewildering”. Wine consultant Ben Knight, writing for the Guardian, suggests that the government should at least “allow VIPs a discreet BYO policy”.
Curiously, the venerable James Halliday has praised the list, saying it “covers many regions and varieties without fear or favor”.
Perhaps the Australian government should be commended for not wasting taxpayer money: after all, Obama received a fair amount of flack for serving the $ 400-a-bottle Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon to the Chinese President in 2011.
But this policy seems at odds with Australia’s image as a foodie heaven and one of the New World’s most important wine-producing countries. I visited Sydney last week with the aim of eating everything there: and such is the quality of the city’s cuisine that I damn near succeeded.
It looks as though folks there on official government business won’t quite have the same amount of fun as I did.