FISKER KARMA…ECO-COOL!

Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma

I don’t know too much about hybrid cars.  I personally like the sound of a great exhaust system spewing sweet-smelling fumes from a high performance gas guzzling power plant.  One thing I do know about hybrids is that they all tend to look a little weird.

Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma

Take the Prius for example.  I know it’s trendy in LA to drive a Prius as to show the fellow Angeleno’s you’re doing your part to save the world, but does it really have to look like that?  Even the all-electric Tesla (see previous post) manages to look just a little off from your typical sports car.  The list goes on but it seems someone finally took note and is trying to change things.

Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma

The company Fisker has come a long way from the days of being an aftermarket coach builder; rebodying BMW’s and MB’s to name few.  Founders Henrik Fisker and Bernhard Koehler have decided to change the way hybrid/electric cars are perceived and to prove to the world that you can have a fuel-efficient car without looking like a member of the chess club.

Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma

The Fisker Karma is a beautifully designed sedan and one of the few cars that has managed to stay true to its concept form.  A solar roof is tastefully incorporated into the body adding a futuristic element to an already forward design.  Other elements such as 22” wheels and Fisker’s signature sleek front grille adorn the wonderfully sculpted bodywork of the Karma.

The Karma’s powertrain uses the internal combustion engine in series with a generator and the Lithium-ion battery to power the electric motors that power the rear wheels giving up to 50 mi of electric driving.  After that, the internal combustion engine engages to generate energy for the electric motors providing up to an additional 250 mi of range; equating to about 52 mpg.

Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma

The Karma has (2) 201 bhp motors that can produce a 0-60 time in 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 125 mph (Sport Mode).  Materials such as Water-Based Paints, Reclaimed Woods and EcoSuede are just a few of the ingredients that go into making this eco-friendly, state-of-the-art sports sedan.

While I can literally write a book about the Karma’s technical attributes I really like this car for the way it looks.  The performance specs aren’t the greatest, especially when you compare them to other sports sedans in the same price range  ($104K – $120K) but sometimes specs aren’t’ everything.  The person that drives this car is much like the car itself; a sleek and sophisticated forward thinking individual that believes looking cool is just as important as saving the world.  I like to call it “Eco-Cool”.

Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma

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LA AUTO SHOW 2011…A MATTER OF SURVIVAL!

It was my own fault for waiting until the busiest day to go to the 2011 LA Auto Show.  I kept trying to make it sooner if only my schedule had allowed.  When I woke up on this rainy Sunday morning I had no excuse, this was the perfect weather to be indoors gawking at cars.  I had made my decision, today was the day! Umbrella, check! Camera, check! Cash, coffee, check check!

2011 LA Auto Show

2011 LA Auto Show

Upon arriving at the LA Convention Center I could already tell by the herds of people scrambling to run inside that chaos was about to ensue.  Buying my $12 ticket at the automated machine was the easy part, getting past the gates was a different story.  It felt like a scene from “Saving Private Ryan”; everything was in slow motion as fear and terror lie in their tear-soaked eyes.  Once I made it through the carnage of crying babies, lost children, confused parents and the occasional hit in the ankles by those rental strollers, things started to clear up like a fading storm.  I managed to block out most of the noise and after entering, I saw a sign in the distance that read “Tuners and Aftermarket”; yes, my specialty!  Many of the cars were repeats from this past SEMA show however I did see some interesting customs like a gorgeous Bugatti Veyron, a matte red Ferrari F430, and a pretty cool Lotus Evora to name a few.

Bugatti Veyron

Bugatti Veyron

Back upstairs to the main hall, better dodge that stroller headed directly for me, close call!  While all the major car companies had representation at the show only a few actually impressed me with some innovative and creative models.

Cadillac Ceil Concept

Cadillac Ceil Concept

Cadillac ELR

Cadillac ELR

Cadillac was among the few that really made a splash with their lineup of cutting edge design and the debut of their new electric ELR model.  There was a lot of excitement at Cadillac’s  booth as they had on display the Ceil Concept among all the other current models including the record breaking CTS-V’s.

BMW displayed their much advertised iSeries electric car, which is slated for production in 2015, and their much awaited new M5 model.

BMW iSeries

BMW iSeries

Hyundai has made great strides in breaking free of the “inexpensive” label and into more of a “luxury” or “high-end” label.  They’re doing a great job with their new line up; the Equus, Genesis, Sonata Hybrid, Elantra to name a few.

Mini’s booth was bustling with people as they reveled at all the options and aftermarket parts that bestow the new cars.  Many people waited in lines to try on the new Countryman Model for size.  The new Mini Cooper Coupe S looked great and received a lot of attention as well.

Fiat’s Abarth model, a “high performance” version of their popular 500 model, seemed to be well received judging from the lines of people waiting to sit inside.

Fiat Abarth

Fiat Abarth

Audi finally showed off their much anticipated S6 and S7 models due to be out this March.  Audi also had on display the e-tron Spyder concept and A3 model; their new electric car technology.

Audi e tron Spyder

Audi e tron Spyder

KIA GT Concept

KIA GT Concept

KIA’s booth was riffled with excitement as they had a very impressive concept car they called the “KIA GT”.  I was barely able to snap off a few pics due to the crowds of people attempting to do the same.

It was very exciting to see many of the car companies’ step up to the plate with their innovative designs and technology.  It feels like we are entering a new era in the automotive world.   The combination of a lagging economy coupled with the high demand for new technology is forcing car companies to push the envelope in all areas.  Much like my experience attending the Auto Show, it’s a matter of survival for these car companies, and staying on the cutting edge is a matter of life or death.  The 2011 LA Auto Show left me wounded, frightened, exhausted and excited to see what next year will bring!

THINGS GET HEATED UP AT THE TARGA TROPHY RALLY IN HOLLYWOOD, CA

With all the automotive events going on lately it’s getting difficult to keep track, however I was lucky enough to catch up with what is quickly becoming a premier automotive lifestyle event, the Targa Trophy Rally.

The rally began at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, which took over the entire parking lot leaving the valet and hotel guests dumbfounded.  A massive DJ tent claimed its territory directly behind the valet stand and proceeded to play loud dance music all day long.  One of the main sponsors of the rally, Luxury4play.com, brought their Bugatti Veyron and Maybach out to play with the other impressive arsenal of exotic sports cars participating in the rally.

As the 100 or so teams reported to the check-in, the drivers and their navigators placed stickers on their cars and chatted with other teams.  Entries included Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s, Porsches, Audi’s Viper’s, and BMW’s to name a few.

Many participants sported their finest costumes which included a Mouse helmet girl, Spiderman, Ironman, and a guy wearing daisy-dukes with a wig (really wish I didn’t see that).  As noon approached all teams were summoned to the DJ tent for a quick “drivers meeting”, in which event founder Jason Overell, forewarned the driver’s of the treacherous course and driving conditions that lay before them.

                     

At high noon the rally began and cars lined up to clock-in and receive the coveted top secret course information.  The instructions revealed the check points, and what to do while there.  A strategic point system took both driver and navigator through a 3 ½ hour course and required proof of check-in by obtaining a receipt or picture.  The adrenaline pumping rally took supreme driving machines through some of LA’s most beautiful canyons and back roads with sharp switch-backs and deadly drop-offs.  Temperatures soared to above 110 degrees which caused some tempers to flare and mechanical break downs along the way.

The rally concluded back at the Roosevelt Hotel where Targa Trophy revealed the winner of the event.  In true road rally fashion, the partying continued throughout the night at Hemingway’s and later at the Roxbury, both in Hollywood.

This was a great event but don’t kick yourself if you missed out on all the action.  I was told by Targa Trophy they are planning a 3 day event sometime in November so stay tuned for more information.  Rubber & Fumes will be there covering all the motoring goodness.

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ASTON MARTIN RAPIDE…BY-GEORGE I THINK THEY’VE DONE IT!

It’s pretty obvious to most that there is a battle being waged by high-end car companies to design the best 4-door sport sedan/hatchback.  Many car companies have made some sad attempts of coming out with their version of the of the sedan hatchback i.e BMW GT, however one of the best looking sedans to have come along is the Aston Martin Rapide.  The Aston Martin design team did an amazing job of designing a 4 door while still maintaining the sexy lines of say their DB9 Coupe.  The Rapide is actually a hatchback although you wouldn’t really know simply by glancing at it.

The Rapide also has some very unique and noteworthy design features such as the individual rear buckets seats with personal climate controls.  Although it seems a little claustrophobic at first glance, there is actually a lot of room and great views from every angle.  It definitely eliminates the need to call out “Shotgun” when going for a ride in this car.

Other design features include a hatchback tailgate, power folding seats and movable bulkhead which afford the Rapide probably the highest degree of practicality ever offered by an Aston Martin.

The Rapide is powered by a massive 5.9 liter V12 which produces 470 hp @ 6000 rpm and 443 lb-ft torque @ 5000 rpm.  It goes 0-60 in 5.1 seconds and claims a top speed of 188 mph.

Although I think the Rapide is as close to perfection as one can get for a sedan, I really would have liked to of seen some more horse power.   I almost wonder if they would have been better off with well-tuned V8 vs. their V12.  Ferrari and Lamborghini aside, V12’s are very heavy, and never seem produce the amount of horse power you would expect from that size of engine.  This would have at least lowered the Rapide’s MSRP of $207K +/-.  With all that aside, the Aston Martin Rapide still makes it into my dream garage!

vrooom!

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