REFRESHED & REGAL

REFRESHED & REGAL

The 2022 Mercedes Benz S-Class has something going for it. In fact, it has so many things going for it…from its superior engineering to the sumptuous interior, as our guy-on-the-go Mike Satterfield of The Gentleman Racer reports.

CLASS ACT

Sure, the S-Class has long been the gold standard of luxury sedans, rivaling cars that have nearly double the MSRP. The one thing I would say it lacks is presence. Now that might be a feature for those who would prefer to fly under the radar, but for many buyers who are spending over $100,000 for a car, they expect their vehicle to make more of a statement. That noted, when it comes to luxury, refinement, and quality, the S-Class is more comparable to a Bentley Flying Spur, than other luxury cars to which it is so often compared. The understated styling on the outside is countered by one of the most opulent interiors available in a production car today.

 

Essentially, the S-Class has always been a platform for the latest and greatest in Mercedes-Benz technology, thus buying an S-Class is buying the cutting edge of automotive innovation. It has long been a saying in the automotive industry that “where the S-Class is today, is where other cars hope to be in a decade.” For good reason…the S-Class over the years has led numerous innovations, including production anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, adaptive cruise control, LED-Lighting, and so many other features that are standard in most cars today.  

 

FINE AND REFINED

The car’s refinement, luxury, power, and technology are second to none and with the 496 horsepower in the S580, this big sedan has plenty of get-up and go. With the weight that comes with a car of this size, you will be shocked at how nimble the handling is. Not only is it perfect for eating up highway miles, but it is also surprisingly capable on winding roads. With the E-Active Body Control, Mercedes’ latest active suspension system, each corner of the car’s suspension automatically adjusts to provide the best ride and handling possible.

 

Inside the S580 is a symphony of luxury and technology. The dash is almost entirely digital with an oversized center touchscreen and a digital gauge cluster that can be toggled through several different display modes… from a more traditional to a dynamic 3-D effect. With massaging seats, the opulent interior is impressive, and the adjustable LED ambient lighting was by far the most popular tech gadget that passengers enjoyed playing with. Plus, the Burmester 3-D Surround Sound system comes with 15 speakers and 710 watts of system power. It is especially intensive, so its perfect performance creates a feeling of floating rather than driving.

 

What was most exciting about the technology in the S-Class, unlike many of its rivals, is that it’s intuitive and easy to use. In fact, the placement of controls and buttons is where you expect them to be. The on-screen menus are clear and easy to follow, so you won’t need to pull over to try to figure out how to use the radio.

 

The S-Class goes head-to-head with the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Genesis G90, Lexus LS, and Porsche Panamera, but we must remember the S-Class created this class and is still the standard-bearer for a reason. The new all-electric EOS might represent the future of where the brand is going, but the S580 represents where the brand has been and is still a fitting flagship for 2022.

STAYING POWER

STAYING POWER

Cadillac’s Lyriq is truly redefining the new luxury, according to our man-about-road Michael Satterfield of TheGentlemanRacer.com. Join us as we take an exclusive spin into truly electrifying territory.

Photography courtesy of The Gentleman Racer

ELECTRICALLY CURRENT

Electrification is here and Cadillac has pulled the wraps off their first all-electric offering the midsized Lyriq SUV. According to Cadillac, the Lyriq will offer an impressive range of more than 300 miles on a full charge and come in 340 or 500 horsepower configurations. This places it squarely in line when positioned against the Jaguar I-Pace, Audi e-tron, and Tesla Model X. Where the Lyriq stands out, however, is price…with the single-motor Debut Edition starting at thousands less than the Audi and Jaguar, and tens of thousands less than a base model Tesla Model X.

 

The reasonable price point can be attributed to General Motors massive resources since the Lyriq doesn’t compromise in quality or luxury when compared to rivals in this class. Riding on G.M’s new scalable battery architecture, the Lyriq benefits from being developed as an EV from the ground up, offering more space and a low center of gravity. The Lyriq is important for another reason, too. It is the first step towards Cadillac’s goal of an all-electric future. “Every new Cadillac we introduce from this point on in North America will be a state-of-the-art luxury electric vehicle,” shared Vice President of Global Cadillac Rory Harvey, during the launch of the Lyriq. That is a bold statement for a company known mostly for its elegant Escalade and luxurious full-size sedans.

Where the Lyriq really stands out for me is in the styling. While it has a more traditional look, the Lyriq has a presence that will surely attract many first time EV buyers. It is futuristic without trying to be different simply for the sake of being different. The handsome SUV’s styling still has signature Cadillac design cues, including a front panel resembling a grill that evokes the current generation of Cadillac gasoline powered vehicles. The Debut Edition is offered in four colors: Opulent Blue Metallic, Crystal White Tri-Coat, Satin Steel Metallic, and Stellar Black Metallic.

INSIDE MOVES

Moving inside the Lyriq offers all the luxury you would expect in a Cadillac, and of course, the latest technology, including a 33-inch advanced LED display stretching across the dash that has Super Cruise, active noise cancellation, and the Google Built-In connected service. The rocking 19-speak ATG Studio premium sound system features adaptive volume and surround technology while working in concert with the active noise cancellation system. This filters out undesirable road noise and creates the optimal listening experience for driver and passengers. The layout of the dash and other interior features is intuitive and clean. In fact, while the large LED screen offers a lot of control points, there are still buttons and knobs where you expect to find them.

 

To help ease the transition to all-electric, owners who purchase a new Lyriq will receive an option to choose between either two years of unlimited public charging credits on the EVgo charging network, or a credit of up to $1,500 that can be applied toward an eligible installation of a Level 2 home charger or a 240-volt outlet through Qmerit.

While I haven’t had the chance yet to do a long-term test in the Lyriq, it is safe to say  the Lyriq needs to be on your short list when considering a purchase of an EV. Ordering for the 2023 LYRIQ RWD and AWD models began on May 19, with RWD deliveries expected to start this fall. Deliveries of the 2023 LYRIQ Debut Edition, available online only with a $100 reservation, began this summer.

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IS THE NEW JAG TOO BRITISH?

IS THE NEW JAG TOO BRITISH?

True to its legend, it’s tough to beat a luxury British car for style. Our man-about-globe, Michael Satterfield of The Gentleman Racer, takes the new Jaguar F-Type P450 Coupe out for a spin on some country roads to get a handle on its drivability. Love ensues.  

Photography courtesy of The Gentleman Racer

GOOD, THEN GREAT

Few new cars genuinely get me excited these days. Outside of a handful of exotics, there aren’t many obtainable cars that I would describe as lust-worthy. Most companies today have resigned themselves to building just good cars. In fact, it is nearly impossible to buy a bad car in 2022. Like Jim Collins says, “Good is the enemy of great,” and there are far too many good cars in this world. But now and again (when the accountants aren’t looking), a great car can sneak through. Ladies and gentlemen, the Jaguar F-Type P450 is one of them.

 

Now some might say a car starting at $69,900 isn’t really every person’s car, and a sports coupe like a Mustang is more obtainable than a Jaguar. But when you consider this Jaguar is within $6,500 of a well-optioned Mustang Mach 1, and around $6,500 less than the GT500 (before markup), the value of the Jaguar shows. It is at its core a muscle car like the Mustang, but with a better tailor—fully loaded, including destination fees. The F-Type I am driving and testing comes in at $86,200.

The other obvious comparison is the Aston Martin Vantage, which, if equipped with the classic Aston grille, is a very handsome car, too. But the baby Aston starts at $139,000, and when you tack on the options, you’ll find most Vantages come in at between $175,000-$220,000. In shopping around Aston Martin dealers in Texas, the least expensive 2022 Vantage in stock is $170,086. So if you ordered a standard P450, you would save $100,000 and still be driving an exceptional, limited-production British sports car.

THAT’S MY TYPE

Buying an F-Type means, you are buying into an elite club because despite its good looks and sporting heritage, Jaguar is still a boutique company. They only build around 2,000 F-Types for the U.S. market a year, making them far more rare than the Porsche 911 or Chevrolet Corvette. While most reviews focus on pricing, 0-60 M.P.H. times, and cubic square feet of cargo space, most of those things don’t matter much in the real world, do they? There will always be a cheaper, faster car or one that is able to fit more golf clubs. So, buying an F-Type is a lifestyle choice, more akin to buying a luxury item than a mode of daily transportation.  

 

Sliding behind the wheel, the F-Type feels bespoke. In a bold color with a tan leather interior, it looks the part of the quintessential British sports car. For me, the F-Type is an escape pod. Just slip on some driving gloves, point it in the direction of the countryside, and dial in your favorite driving music. If you had a bad day, few cars help make everything right in the world, like the F-Type.

Pushing the start button brings the 444 hp, 5.0-liter supercharged V8 to life with a delightful rumble seldom heard in suburbia in these days of electrification. The F-Type P450 drives like a car with far more horsepower, and with peak power coming on fast at around 2,500 RPM, this Jag is a joy to operate on a twisty country road. Tapping the paddles, turning into a corner, and rolling back onto the throttle, it feels like a classic sports car. Almost as if it is channeling all of Jaguar’s racing heritage with every turn of the wheel. Plus, it just happens to have paddle shifters and dynamic mode. It is impossible not to smile while driving the F-Type on a great road.

THE OPEN ROAD 

Blasting out across the causeway over Lake Livingston towards Point Blank with the windows down is the kind of therapy one can only understand through experience. Ripping down TX-156 through the Sam Houston National Forest and taking the long way home, with the sound of the exhaust echoing off the trees, my Zen was broken only by the chirp of the radar detector, reminding me to check the speed limit. The F-Type wants to go fast, and it is easy to let the speedometer climb. The only thing that would have made this day better is if I had gone to a racetrack to experience the full brilliance of the F-Type.

 

Pulling into any small downtown, the car draws attention among the Ford F150s and Chevrolet Suburbans. “Is it the James Bond car?” one gent asks. I tell him no, it is a Jaguar, and I let him take a seat inside. He especially likes the optional glass roof but thinks it is too fancy for him. Even at the local country club, where the parking lot is a greyscale sea of Porsche 911s, and Mercedes AMGs, the blue coupe makes a statement. Its taut proportions look refined when parked next to some of these.

Perhaps that is what I like most about the Jaguar. It’s exotic, yet not in the garish orange Lamborghini way. It has an understated elegance that many cars simply cannot offer in a practical package for daily use. With that in mind, I would suggest you only drive the P450 if you are genuinely ready to buy one. Because once you do, you’re not going to want to leave the dealership without one.

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REGAL RIDE

REGAL RIDE

The Rolls-Royce, a luxurious car by anyone’s standards, has a new groove. Its Cullinan model, a super sleek SUV, offers something for anyone with a taste for high quality. Join our TheGentlemanRacer.com’s Michael Satterfield as he takes one out for a spin and leaves the city behind.  

Photography courtesy of TheGentlemanRacer.com

THE NEW, NEW ROLLS ROYCE

If you say “Rolls-Royce,” most people envision something like those 1980s Grey Poupon commercials, stuffy, aristocratic, luxurious, but somehow a bit dull. Modern Rolls-Royces are anything but boring, and with new products like the Wraith and the upcoming Specter, that is starting to change. One of the first and most controversial models to break the mold was the marquee’s first SUV, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan. Since its launch in 2018, the Cullinan has become one of the brand’s most important vehicles, but can the Cullinan handle the duties of an actual SUV? To find out, I took it to a $20-a-day off-road park in Huntsville for a day in the dirt.  

The Rolls-Royce Cullinan I was driving costs nearly double the median home price in Walker County, Texas, where General Sam’s Off-Road Park is located. Most Rolls-Royces don’t see many country roads, let alone dirt roads. So, while the Cullinan has a button in the console that says “off-road,” hardly anyone uses it. Still, Rolls-Royce claims it is a capable off-road vehicle designed for oil barons and cattlemen who need to survey their vast landholding in the lap of luxury.

The shiny red Cullinan was outfitted with standard wheels and winter tires, the best option available for our adventure since 33-inch BFGs weren’t on the order sheet. This particular Cullinan is painted “Hell Rot,” which is basically fire engine red. In the country, it would be easy to mistake this massive bright red SUV for a volunteer fire vehicle speeding down a dirt road. All the Cullinan needs is some gold lettering on the door and ladder on the roof, and it would be ready for service in the local VFD.

I started off light, taking the Cullinan down some dirt roads and improved trails, but eventually, I headed to more advanced trails, which would be challenging for most stock SUVs. Surprisingly, the Cullinan took it all in stride. As I explored the trails of General Sam’s, I expected at some point to get stuck, requiring the backup truck to pull me out, but it never did. Unlike most SUVs with a plethora of switches, buttons, and levers to get into the off-road mode, the Cullinan literally has just one button to push, which simply says off-road. Just push it, and the Cullinan does the rest. After all, it would be indecorous to have to switch gears or get out of your heated seat to lock the front hubs.

OFF-ROAD OPTIMUM

I have never been so comfortable while off-roading, the perfect leather seats, isolation from outside noise, and the ability to focus simply on driving while the advanced Rolls-Royce off-road system figures out the rest. The same road scanning cameras and air ride suspension that make the Cullinan amazing to operate in the city makes it surprisingly capable off-road. The system is designed to take on deep snow, sand, mud, even fording streams. Once you reach your far-off location, deploy the optional Viewing Suite, and enjoy nature as Rolls-Royce intended.

 

Slow and careful is generally how you spend most of your time off-roading, but it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t see how the Cullinan could handle itself with a bit of speed. After all, there is a high likelihood that you might have to flee a rebel army or some international crime syndicate while driving your Rolls-Royce in exotic locations off the beaten path. Anything can happen, right? The Cullinan might be the size of a small army tank, but it is a fast tank that can power slide through mud, rip down dirt trails, and use all 563hp to shuffle uphill at great speed; you’d have a fighting chance at outrunning any Bond villains behind the wheel of it. In the world of SUVs, the Cullinan is in a league of its own. Even the Bentley Bentayga, one of my all-time favorite SUVs, has a starting price of just $177,000, while the Cullinan…has a base price of $330,000. But of course, being a Rolls-Royce means there are plenty of luxe options, and those options make the one I am driving come in at just over $417,000. Sure, for that kind of money, you could pick up three Range Rover Sport SVR Carbon Editions and still have money left over. Yet nothing makes the statement like seeing the Spirit of Ecstasy perched atop that imposing chrome grille, even when it is covered in mud.

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GET UP & GO

GET UP & GO

The new Lexus NX redefines luxury, according to our expert driving enthusiast, Michael Satterfield of The Gentleman Racer.com. As the new year begins, why not take your driving to thrilling new heights?  

Photography courtesy of The Gentleman Racer

Lexus has unveiled an all-new NX for 2022. While it is the brand’s luxury-subcompact SUV, it is also, in many ways, a flagship model for Lexus. It is the first to feature the new Lexus lettering across the rear hatch, never before offered technology, and is the first plug-in hybrid to wear the Lexus badge. Aimed squarely at the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA, and Audi Q3 models, the new NX needed to bring a lot to the table, and the small Lexus doesn’t disappoint. 

RESPONSIVE AND FUN

The NX offers two gasoline power plants and two hybrid options. While the base NX250 features a 203-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder with an 8-speed automatic and is surprisingly responsive and fun to drive, especially with the optional all-wheel-drive. For those wanting more power, the NX350 delivers 375-hp from a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder with standard all-wheel drive. But while these conventional powerplants are very good, I predict that most luxury buyers will be more interested in the hybrids, which offer more horsepower and better fuel economy than their all-gas counterparts. 

 

The hybrid drivetrains include the NX350h, which packs a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, two electric motors that make 239 horsepower, and the top-spec plug-in NX450h+ producing 302-hp powertrain, to offer up-to 36 miles of electric driving per charge for the performance-minded driver. The F Sport package offers appearance upgrades and adaptive suspension. While the standard suspension does an excellent job at providing decent handling while still offering a luxurious ride, the F Sport does raise the fun factor when you are on a twisty road. Yet, I suspect most NX buyers will find the appearance part of the package more appealing than the handling. 

Where the NX really shines is in the redesigned interior, which feels far more luxurious than you might expect in a sub-compact SUV. Ambient lighting, quilted leather-heated and ventilated seats, and the optional wood inserts all feel like they belong in a much more expensive vehicle. The much-maligned “trackpad” infotainment interface has been replaced with natural-language voice recognition that wakes up with the command “Hey Lexus,” allowing the driver or passenger to do anything from get directions or search for a restaurant to turning on the windshield wipers or adjusting the temperature. The dual-zone voice recognition can differentiate between driver and passenger, allowing passengers to adjust their climate zone separately from the driver’s simply by speaking the command. The user profiles are stored in the cloud so the unique settings can travel with you between vehicles. 

MORE TECHNOLOGY PER SQUARE INCH

The technology doesn’t stop with new voice commands. A standard 9.8-inch or optional 14-inch touch screen offers excellent visibility. The built-in 4G LTE allows streaming of Apple Music and Amazon Music, while the wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard. The Lexus app also enables users to use a phone as a key or share a temporary key via the app to any user they authorize…meaning you’re never really locked out of your car. 

Lexus has also equipped the NX with their latest Safety System Plus 3.0, which includes the usual lane-keeping feature, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control. It also adds new features to help detect oncoming traffic and pedestrians to prevent collisions while making turns at intersections. The latest safety features even help prevent accidents while parked, with electronic door latches that work with the pedestrian safety system that prevents the door from opening if there is an oncoming cyclist or runner.

Lexus has said they hope the NX will reach a younger buyer demographic with a starting price of under $40,000 for the NX250. It certainly will, and it will have a broad appeal to older shoppers as well who don’t need a mid or full-size SUV. The top-tier NX450h+F Sport starts at $57,975, but if the plug-in hybrid doesn’t fit your lifestyle, the NX350h, with the optional luxury package, will give you the best of everything. 

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TURBO STYLE

TURBO STYLE

With a high-performance vehicle like the McLaren 720S Spider, something special is in store that unleashes on the road, according to our luxe automotive expert, Michael Satterfield of The Gentleman Racer.com.

By Michael Satterfield Photography courtesy of The Gentleman Racer

WHEELS UP…ON THE GROUND

Sliding behind the wheel of the McLaren 720S Spider is an event, with its futuristic gauge cluster, electrochromic roof, and panel of switches and screens, one feels like they just climbed into something more akin to a fighter jet than a car. A push of the start button brings the 710-horsepower twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 screaming to life, and with the push of another button, you lower the retractable hardtop.

 

With the top open, the sound gets even better. It isn’t the loud burble you would expect from a V8 or the high pitch whine of some supercars, but it’s a smooth rumble that feels more mature than, say, the howl of a Lamborghini. According to McLaren, the 720S will do 0-60 in 2.9 seconds, with a top speed of 212 mph. While those numbers may sound exhilarating, the 720S Spider manages to feel relatively normal to drive. In fact, the power comes on smoothly, so it is easy to find yourself doing triple-digit speeds quickly. Once you glance down at the speedometer and realize you need to slow down, a set of massive carbon-ceramic brakes and sticky Pirelli P Zero tires help bring everything back under control.

 

In today’s world of 1,000+ horsepower muscle cars, 710 hp may not sound that impressive, yet McLaren has decided to focus more on weight and balance than just adding horsepower into their cars. Thanks to their carbon fiber chassis, the 720S Spider comes in just 2,937 pounds dry, making it 83 pounds lighter than the 650S Spider and just 109 pounds heavier than the 720S Coupe. Because of this focus on weight reduction, a fully equipped McLaren Spider is still lighter than the stripped-down versions of Italian supercars.

 

EXPERIENCING THE ROAD

To really get the most out of the 720S Spider, you might want to sign up for the Pure McLaren Experience, hosted in the US at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin. Not only do you get to drive the same track as the McLaren Formula 1 team, but you can also get a ride-along with pro drivers who will show you the limits of what a McLaren can do in the hands of a professional.

 

If a track day isn’t in the cards, the Twisted Sisters is a great place to take a car like the 720S. Made up of Ranch Roads 337, 335, and 336, the entire loop is around 100 miles and starts and ends in the small town of Leakey, Texas. The Sisters follow the canyons and hills through a series of tight twisty turns and provide some amazing views but stay focused on the road…since it is one of the most technical drives you’ll find in Texas. Pushing it in the canyons, you really feel how well balanced the car is and how every part of it is built to perform.

 

Returning to civilization means traffic, potholes, and parking lots, but the 720S Spider settles down and becomes as drivable as any other car. In comfort mode, its quiet, smooth, front-end lift, and 360-degree backup camera, makes navigating parking spots worry-free. The only weak point is the McLaren 720S’s infotainment and navigation system takes some getting used to.

 

Being an exotic, it’s how normal it feels that makes the 720S Spider so good. It’s easy to drive, enter, and exit, the controls are intuitive, the trunk space is surprisingly large, and the dihedral doors open in less space than most standard cars. But with a flick of the switch, the instrument cluster lowers, the car tightens, and over fifty years of racing heritage is unleashed, and just like that, you’re behind the wheel of a truly spectacular supercar.

 

The 720S Spider also has one other thing going for it. Something that McLaren hasn’t always been known for…it’s actually pretty. While function always overtakes form, the McLaren 720S is one of their most elegant cars, and taking the top off makes it even better. Starting at $315,000, the 720S Spider is delivering significant value in the topless supercar space. With the new Lamborghini Aventador SVJ Roadster coming in at over $573,000 and a Ferrari 488 Pista Spider starting at over $350,000, the McLaren is the best deal for a very, very fast car with no top.

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