If you’re looking for a visceral driving experience, one that mainlines the glorious roar of internal combustion directly into your bloodstream, you’re probably not headed for an Audi dealership. Something Italian is more your style, the stereotype says.
Audi is pushing back against that notion with the 2017 R8 V10 Spyder, the latest drop-top riff on its vaunted supercar. The convertible bit is important here, because once you’ve opened it up (the electrohydraulic system will do it in 20 seconds, at speeds up to 31 mph), you can more fully appreciate the raucous 5.2-liter V10 engine.
That naturally aspirated—no turbochargers, for those who don’t speak gearhead—mill cranks out 540 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. Admirable figures, those. You’ll probably never drive it hard enough to feel all that push and pull, but you’ll certainly hear it. (You’ll also hear your accountant gasp at the $175,100 base price.)
Other benefits include a refreshed design that pushes the cockpit forward in a slightly wider, shorter car that before. The lightweight classic is mostly aluminum and plenty stiff, even with the top lopped off. The seats adjust in 18 directions to keep you perfectly comfortable, and the Bang and Olufsen sound system includes speakers in the headrest, in case you somehow get tired of hearing the engine.
Rolls-Royce does a lot of fancy stuff. Littering the interior of its cars with hundreds of diamonds (not the steering wheel, for safety reasons). Outfitting the headliner with fiber optic cables that recreate the starry sky as seen from anywhere on the planet, at any point in history. Tailoring paint jobs and interior appointments to suit any whim, no matter how … aesthetically challenged.
Yet such things are a bit too plebeian for Stephen Hung. The head of the soon-to-open ultra-luxe hotel The 13 wanted a pair of vehicles to carry his well-heeled guests around Macau. So he commissioned the two most expensive Phantoms that Rolls-Royce has ever built.
And what made them so expensive? Gold.
Gold in the paint. Gold on the iconic Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament. Gold in the handles of the umbrellas tucked into the doors. Gold thread in the headliner (the fiber optics mimic the stars over Macau on the day of the hotel’s groundbreaking). Gold tread plates (those things you step on as you get in and out.) And a gold “coachline” (that pinstripe running along the side of the car) painted by Rolls’ “resident expert coachline painter,” with a “fine squirrel hair paintbrush.” (We like to think the rodents in question are descendants of that famous waterskiing squirrel, and pals with the Queen’s corgis.)
wizards magi alchemists scientists engineers artisans at Rolls-Royce needed eight tries to get the gold paint just right. They settled on a 10-layer solution, including a 40-micron layer of gold, with glass and aluminum added for that extra shine. Because you just can’t get enough shine.
The 13 hotel, designed to make Marie Antoinette feel like a peasant, begins receiving guests early this year. Expect to see these cars at the opening ceremony, ready to put the Au in Macau.
A week after busting out next year’s F-150 pickup, Ford unveiled the latest riff on its other marquee player, the Mustang. Like the truck, it gets a crisp refreshing of the redesign Ford unveiled in 2013.
Rather than muck up a good thing, Dearborn opted for a touchup over a makeover. The 2018 car is a bit lower, a bit sleeker, and a bit shapelier.
The bigger changes are under the sheet metal. As with the F-150, Ford is giving Mustang owners a taste of all the driver assistance features it has cooked up in recent years. The latest version of a car that first hit the road in 1965 sports lane keeping assist, pedestrian detection, and a distance alert that squawks when you’re coming up too fast on the slowpoke ahead.
A 12-inch digital instrument cluster (an increasingly common sight) lets you scroll between the speedometer and tach, lap timer, trip info, and more. You can even pick your own color scheme.
Under the hood, Ford offers the same four-cylinder “EcoBoost” engine (the marketing department’s term for, “it has a turbocharger”) and the 5-liter V8. Gone is the V6 that was less powerful and less efficient than the four-banger. If you insist on letting the car shift gears, you can get the 10-speed (!) slushbox. Of course you want the six-speed manual, because manuals are better.