Smart Electric Drive Drag Race

BoxterS vs SmartOne of the best city cars is proving its power once again by drag racing against some Fords, Audis and Porsches! You would be surprise but that Electric Smart was able to beat them all. The advertisement is clever considering it’s hard to find any open roads in today’s congested city streets. The Smart Fortwo takes on a big advantage in the first five metres, thanks to all of its torque being available immediately upon acceleration. I personally really like that machine. It is more solid that most production cars, can fit in unbelievably small parking spots, you can get it with the roof off and it is rear wheel drive! Really the best combo for a city car.

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Test Drive | California T

CaliforniaT FrontWith the California T not only has Ferrari facelifted its most selling Ferrari of all times with more than 10,000 units sold but also has introduced the new generation of turbo engines, a first since the F40 back in 1987. That freshly engineered engine is a 3.9 liters twin turbocharged V8 releasing 553 hp and 557 lb-ft of torque. A whooping 70hp and 50% increase in torque compared to the previous model. (Keep in mind that the 458 Italia has 570hp and 398 lb-ft of torque). Turbo engines are always associated with turbo lag. Well, not this time. Ferrari has worked really hard on this new engine so it behaves as much like a normally aspirated unit as possible, both in its power and torque delivery and the way it sounds. In fact, turbos have been programmed so that a first turbo starts spooling at low revs and another kicks in at higher rpm. Power is delivered to the rear wheels via the Ferrari Dual Clutch 7 speed transmission. Look wise, the car looks much sportier compared to the previous model with that aggressive front end, aerodynamic air vents flowing from behind the front wheel and that rear diffuser. The exhaust finally went from stacked to sideways.

CaliforniaT-2So what was it like to drive? To start with, sitting in it you do feel in a proper Ferrari with its massive paddleshifters, its refined leather, its steering wheel and its manettino switch. I really liked their new infotainment system, very interactive. Note that it will be updated very soon to “Car Play” by Apple that will allow you to completely synchronize you’re iPhone with the car. Driving wise, the car is very dynamic. There is practically no body roll. Suspension was firm in turns and comfortable on bumpy roads. Brakes have been massively improved, and beautifully calibrated so that the car doesn’t go sideways nor has the front that moves down even though it contains a massive V8 engine. Despite it being a turbo engine, you do not feel any turbo lag at all. Over all it was a wonderful experience specially based on the fact that I had a professional Ferrari test driver next to me advising me on how to extract the maximum fun and feel out of that test drive! Scuderia Lebanon thank you very much for this one of a kind opportunity you have given me. Looking forward to trying out other Italian beauties!CaliforniaT rear

Test Drive | Mercedes CLA 200

CLA200 side I want to start by highlighting how sexy that thing is. Even though it is the cheapest Mercedes Sedan you can buy, for me it looks much better than its bigger cousins. That front hood, that smashed rear with those beautiful rear stop lights, those two exhaust tips and all of that put together with a zest of aggressiveness, Mercedes created a category of their own, the “compact sedan”.

CLA200 rearBeing heavily based on the A200, it features the same interior, the same front-wheel-drive system, same seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and same 1.6 liters turbocharged 4 cylinder engine developing 156hp and 250nm of torque. Performance was pretty similar to the A class. You really have to push it in order to squeeze power out of it. But when you do, performance isn’t bad at all. Handling was fine, specially on those 18 inches wheels. Cruising around town, the CLA was very comfortable and its size wasn’t a hassle even on our small narrow streets. The active dynamic steering, front and back sensors and rear view camera made that thing a joy to park. You would be surprised but its boot is really big with a capacity of 470 liters (versus 341L for A-Class). In standard form, the CLA 200 comes with bi-xenon headlamps, a panoramic roof, leather seats, front and rear sensors, a rear view camera, cruise control and Bluetooth phone/audio connectivity. All of that for a total price of $58,500 in Lebanon.

CLA200 interiorAll in all, loved the package, aesthetically speaking the car looks fine from the inside (except for that floating screen) and so damn hot from the outside. I think it is fairly priced for what it is worth and compared to prices of other sedans in Lebanon. In case you’re more of a performance junky you might want to consider the CLA250 with its 208hp. Other than that, the CLA200 would be just fine. Special thanks obviously goes to Mercedes Lebanon for putting that beautiful German creature in my hands for a weekend.

CLA200 front

Launching Event | Auto shine with the Porsche Club Lebanon

2014 Carrera S rearTo launch their brand new, re-branded facility, Auto Shine organised, in collaboration with the Porsche Club Lebanon, a trip to Deir el Qamar, taking advantage of its wonderful mountain roads and its delicious food. It all started at the Auto Shine facility next to Rondpoint el Adlieh where breakfast was served along with a small tour of the different new compartments of the flagship including:

• Car wash lanes fitted with reverse osmosis water filtering systems.
• Detailing services.
• Smart repairs (leather, fabric, dents & windshield).
• Specialized paint booth for seamless paint touchups.
• Dust free room for paint & film protection.

911 Carrera 50th anniversary editionMainly, Auto Shine promises to give back to your car it’s natural beauty as if it had just left the showroom. I saw a couple of cars they had treated, result was astonishing! One of those was a 2014 CarreraS 50th anniversary edition with its vintage look rims, its sport button and its exhaust button that I had the chance to drive all the way to Deir el Qamar. (Special thanks goes to Maher Abillama for giving me this unique privilege) YES the exhaust and sport button were on, YES I had the ultrasonically fast PDK paddle shifts in my hands and YES I was allowed to whip that thing to 7,500 RPM. The drive was sublime! the exhaust is perfectly engineered to let your ears cry whether your foot is on the gas or not. Oh FYI the 50th anniversary Carrera is equipped with a 3.8-litre flat-six engine which develops 430hp at 7400rpm (30 more than the original Carrera S). The special edition Carrera benefits from the wider body normally reserved for the Turbo and a re-programmed PASM adaptive suspension that synchronizes perfectly with your driving. Throttle response and the electric power steering are very sharp specially in sport mode. Interior was neat, clear, simple, and functional, perfectly German. Even on those twisty mountain roads, the car handled perfectly. It was really a great experience.

Porsche Club LebanonAll in all it was a very nice roadtrip/launching event. It gave me the chance to learn more about the new products and services offered by Auto Shine, meet several members of the Porsche fan club and specially their president Mr. Joe Feghaly who owns a black tuned Turbo with more than 600hp on wheels. (You can check it out along with the rest of the pictures of the event right here) Hope to be riding shotgun in that monster very soon to witness what it’s all about. Joe is a huge motorhead chatting with him was a real pleasure. He even has a MK7 GTI with an ABT tune and ABT exhaust coming very soon as an everyday’s ride. Thanks again Auto Shine for the invite and for the Porsche Club for treating me as one of their own!

Most Amazing Engine Ignition Sounds in The World

Koenigsegg CCXMake sure you have your headphones on and that the video is playing in HD because things are about to get LOUD. This is a short video that includes the sounds, of 34 amazing vehicles roaring to life! From the ’69 Jaguar E-Type’s quiet Inline-6 to the the rumble of the Aventador’s 6.5L V12 and the punch of the Saleen S7’s twin turbos, you don’t often have the pleasure of hearing these fire up! Each one of these cars is enough to get any petrolhead drooling so prepare to be amazed. Enough said, enjoy and feel free to let me know which ignition start you liked best.

Castrol Footkhana: Neymar Jr. v Ken Block

KenBlack FootkhanaIt ain’t anymore just about burning rubber and avoid walls, some balls have been added to the equation! 2014 FIFA World Cup star Neymar Jr. & his freestyle team take on Gymkhana king Ken Block in his 650-HP Ford Fiesta rally car in a battle between man and machine creating what they call Footkhana, a mix of football and Gymkhana. As Neymar and his freestyle teammates use their football skills to score goals, Ken and his overpowered Fiesta drifts, blasting soccer balls into the net. Well it is not as impressive as what we are use to with Ken but it is a nice and fresh new idea. Very smart move by Castrol sponsoring the match, regrouping in the same video, the YouTube phenomenon Ken Block and FIFA World Cup star Neymar Jr. & his freestyle team targeting not only football fans but car fans as well. The complete videos got more than a 8 million views in just 3 days.

Launching Event | C7 Stingray

Corvette C7 Stingray FrontIt is never too late to review the launching event of one of the supercars I was really looking forward to see live, the Corvette C7 Stingray. The event itself was one of those regular, well organized, launching events at one of the official dealer’s showroom in Beirut with some top models here and there, local celebrities and a draw for a wonderful rolex at the end. At the contrary, the main car that was being introduced, wearing the Stingray badge, had nothing regular about it. Feel free to check the pictures of the event by clicking right here.

Corvette C7 Stingray BackThe new Vette is powered by a 6.2-litre V8, outputting 460bhp and 465 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels allowing it to burn the 0-100km/h in just 3.9 seconds. It is not only lighter than the old version but featured a revised chassis and has 4 drive modes: Comfort, Touring, Sport and Track. The comfort mode shots off 4 of the 8 cylinders when you’re light on the throttle in order to save fuel. The track mode in the contrary, is a whole different story, it weights-up the steering, opens up the exhausts and firms the dampers to make sure your levels of adrenaline reach new peaks! You may notice sort of paddle shifts behind the steering wheel even though it is a manual. Well those aren’t really paddle shifts. It is a system that, once turned on, makes sure your RPM stays high while you are shifting gears. Mimics the effects of a heels toe if you wish. Quite something! That thing must be a joy to drive can’t to try out that new manual gearbox!

Stingray-1Look wise, this thing looks amazing! Finally has a proper solid body not a plastic feel one like on the previous models. You have to see it pass by on the street to really know what I am talking about. Really deserve that Stingray badge. The signature 4 central exhaust tail pipes has been conserved. The interior looks good, the center console is driver oriented, the seats are well design and are quite comfortable nothing astonishing to mention though. Cherry on top you get all of that for the price of a Boxster! Starting price of this beauty is just around $100K in Lebanon. All in all, good job Chevy, that new born is going to make it into the history books.