HOME ON THE RANGE

HOME ON THE RANGE

To cost a quarter of a million dollars, a vehicle must be pretty special. The new Range Rover SV Wheelbase Serenity ticks off all the luxury boxes, according to our automotive enthusiast expert, Michael Satterfield, of The Gentleman Racer.com.

Photography by Lucas Kepner

DESIROUS DRIVE

It is hard to think of a situation where anyone really needs a $250,000 luxury SUV, but like many things, the Range Rover SV Long Wheelbase Serenity isn’t built to satisfy a need. It is built to satisfy a desire. Considering that for the price of this one SV, you can buy two base Range Rovers and still have enough left over to pick up a BMW 2 Series convertible for the weekends, that desire must be quite strong.

 

We all know that everyone has a luxury SUV these days, Lexus, BMW, etc. You can even get a Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy with Napa leather, rear window sunshades, remote smart parking, and all the other bells and whistles for just a hair over $50,500. But the Range Rover strives to be more than just another SUV, and for a quarter of a million dollars, it must. Slotted firmly between the Bentley Bentayga V8 and the Rolls Royce Cullinan, the SV offers all the luxury and quality without the ostentatiousness.

While you can drive the SV, it is even better to be driven in it. The four-passenger SUV, when being used correctly, only seats three. At the push of a button, the front passenger seat slides forward and down as a footrest unfolds for the rear passenger. Simultaneously the back passenger side seat reclines. The push of another button reveals the table hidden in the center console, perfect for your road trip charcuterie. A large screen displays all manners of information from the Range Rover, or you can stream all forms of entertainment, all the while enjoying the noise-canceling headphones.

LUXE LIVING

After all that imported cheese and cured meat, you will be thirsty, so this is where the onboard champagne chiller comes in handy. Don’t worry…the cup holders are designed to accommodate the chilled champagne flutes as well. Handy, isn’t it? Riding in the back of a vehicle, even to the grocery store to pick up a few things, feels like you should be rounding the corner on Av. de Monte-Carlo about to stop at the casino where a white-gloved valet awaits to make sure you never face the indignity of opening your own door. This, of course, is how the SV is supposed to make you feel when you are in it, but since the Texas Riviera is not quite Monaco, I opted to take the SV for a drive through the wine country.

 

Washington County, the county seat of Brenham, is home to not just a developing wine industry but also one of the best new wineries in Texas, Chapelton Vineyards, which served as the perfect destination for our wine country road trip. Since Land Rover only authorized me to drive, my sidekick cameraman Lucas Kepner took full advantage of the luxury accommodations in the back. While this vehicle is designed for optimum passenger comfort, the SV is still a pleasure to drive. The 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 produces over 520 horsepower and over 550 lb.–ft. of torque, all channeled through an 8-speed automatic transmission. That should get you there and back quickly enough.

While it can’t be described as exactly sporty, the vehicle’s handling is impressive, thanks to the active anti-roll stabilization system. And being a Range Rover, it, of course, has all-wheel-drive, Terrain Response, Hill Descent Control, and a bevy of other technologies that allow luxury to continue even when the road does not. Yet, on the highway or the wine country roads, what impresses me most is just how quiet it is inside.  Not a whisper from the wind, just the faintest sound from the tires as we make our way down the county roads. Range Rover really has managed to live up to the name, Serenity.

MODERN AESTHETIC

Pulling up into the winding driveway of Chapelton Vineyards, the Range Rover matches the property’s aesthetic. Modern, but somehow still traditional and familiar. As we leave the pavement and head out into the bounty of grapes, the Range Rover hardly notices since the suspension absorbs all the bumps and ruts like they aren’t even there. The tight corners around the vines are easily negotiated thanks to the four-wheel steering, and the advanced camera system lets you look at the vehicle from a perspective as if you were spotting yourself on a trail. Throw in all the additional sensors, and crashing the new Range Rover in a vineyard, or a parking lot would require real commitment.

 

As I sat on the back tailgate of the SV, the sun set over the vineyard. I can’t help but think, “I wish this had the optional Tailgate Event Suite with leather cushions.” It would have only been another $1,200, and if you are ordering one of these, tick all the boxes and include everything.  

 

This Range Rover did not give me the opportunity to really get out and test it as a vehicle. No, there was no sideways drifting through the mud, harrowing tests at the track, nor rock-crawling adventures. It is too special for those things, plus Range Rover saw my test of the Rolls-Royce and asked me not to take it to a bog. But it is a special vehicle, reserved for people who understand the value of understated elegance. If you are in the market for the finest luxury SUV ever made, this SV should be on your shortlist.

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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