From Ghost Till Dawn: Rolls-Royce Ghost vs Wraith vs Dawn

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Today was the annual Father’s Day Concourse On Rodeo Drive, where the city blocks off Rodeo drive to display some of the most unique and outrageous cars ever produced. We also took this opportunity to check in with our friends at O’Gara Coach who own Beverly Hills Roll-Royce to get a VIP tasting selection of what Rolls-Royce has to offer. We strolled over to the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and found ourselves eyeing three classy cars for our sampling: The Ghost Black Badge, the Dawn and the Wraith.

The Wraith

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The Wraith has a striking and flowing design that is classy, modern, and elegant all at once. Interior wise, it’s all the top luxury one can imagine. The drive is very smooth and silky, it’s a very etheral experience. The car almost floats on the road and hides it’s weight in a very clever way. It’s like riding and elephant across a frozen lake and the whole time you’re shocked that it doesn’t step right through the ice. As a driver the experience is soothing, as a passenger, it’s sublime. The Wraith has a tremendous amount of room in the back and ride quality means you can discuss aggressive corporate mergers or gossip over tea and not have a care about the outside world. Compared to the Dawn and the Ghost Black Bad, the Wraith feels the slowest, but deliberately. If you’re in a Wraith, everyone is waiting for you, so you can take your leisure as you float from point A to point B.

The Dawn

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Being the drop-top brother of the Wraith, the Dawn feels similar to the Wraith, but looks wise it wins the beauty contest. The one we drove was a beautiful azure blue example, and from the stance of the car alone we can say it’s a modern classic. Driving around in the Dawn it feels very similar to the Wraith in that you get an ethereal sensation, but the Dawn somehow feels quicker than the Wraith. As a passenger it’s just as comfortable, but unlike the Wraith, where when you’re riding in the back of it you don’t think of driving, in the Dawn with the top down, you want to be seen in the driver’s seat. It’s a great luxury yacht on the road and you want to e the captain of that yatch.

The Ghost Black Badge

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The Ghost Black Badge is the top of the range of the Ghost line. We have to stress the Black Badge, because from what we were told from our Rolls-Royce hosts, the Black Badge drastically changes the driving feel of the car compared to a “regular” Ghost (if there is such a thing). But we’ll take their word for it. And we must say that word carries a lot of weight. The Ghost Black Badge from the driving perspective is a it of a sleeper hit, its got grunt and you can really feel the power. It’s like being inside the head of a giant rhinoceros and hitting the gas is poking that rhino in the rear causing it to go full charge. It’s smooth like the Wraith and the Dawn but it’s got much more torque which makes shifting the full weight of the car a bit of an experience. The scary part is how quickly it stops, it’s as if the brakes can reverse gravity itself because mentally there is no way a car that big ad heavy should be able to stop that quickly. In a word it’s bonkers. In two words it’s pretty bonkers. In three, it’s ridiculously, ridiculously bonkers. As a passenger the Ghost Black Badge is very cozy, accommodating and the Black Badge we drove had the optional $14,000 starlight roof option, which we must say is worth every cent and on the cool factor alone.

Tasting Results

The hardest part is when you’re dealing with this level of excellent, you actively have to nit-pick and actively look for things to be “not as good” in comparison to everything else. It’s like judging the Miss Universe pageant, each contestant is a winner in their own right, so you have to pick on obscure things in comparison to the field of competition to make that final choice.

That being said, if we could drive one home today, we’d pick the Ghost Black Badge. We were surprised by just how much we liked how that car felt. It felt smooth and commanding, and the extra torque is to thank for that. Despite being the top of the “entry level” range, the Black Badge had all the details in it that made us love it unanimously. From the two-tone interior to the feel of the power delivery and the starlight roof (which we are not going to get over anytime soon), the Black Badge felt the most complete of an experience short of a Phantom that Rolls-Royce has to offer. The Phantom is still the top boss, but if you want to save a few sheckles and while still having the greatest luxury car the world has to offer, the Black Badge Ghost should fit the bill rather nicely like a luxuriously tailored suit.

Final Thoughts

What each car is best for out of the group:

Wraith – The best car to be chauffeured in.

Dawn – The best car to be seen in.

Ghost Black Badge – The best driver’s car of the group.

 

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Cheers,

-JB

Sunset GT 6-11-2017

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With a flurry of car shows out there, how does one pick which on to go to? Well, we decided that since it was pretty conveniently located…and a new show…and that there would be a Bugatti Chiron and a Lamborghini Huracan Performante featured…we decided we’d go check out Sunset GT, which is hosted O’Gara Coach.

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We could sit her and talk about how it was a fantastic showing of cars old and new, and the atmosphere was full of fun, excitement, and car joy. Or we can show you some awesome photos and tell you to mark your calendars for the next one.

 

Cheers,

-JB

BMW ///Master Class: M2 vs M3 vs M4 vs X6 M vs i8

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We had a very exciting start to our week, as Valencia BMW, Center BMW and Pacific BMW were kind enough to host us at  BMW M drive event and dine event. The idea was to drive the new M and Alpina range and then enjoy a celebrity chef tasting afterward. We can tell that this story has wet your appetite, so let’s dive into it. For us, we wanted to see how the M cars all stacked against each other, so with Santa Anita Raceway to play around, we did just that.

The i8

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We’ve driven the i8 before, so we where very familiar with it going in. However, it was interesting to see how it compares when directly pitted against other M cars. The i8 is set up a bit differently and feels very different as well. It feels much more futuristic yet somehow still familiar. As we noted the entire car is all about gimmicks…the doors go up to be dramatic, the dash lights up red when put into sport mode, and the was the car feels in motion is a little over the top. But that’s part of the appeal and what makes this car work…it’s a bunch of things that individually seem like gimmicks, but added up they all work together to create a fun and unique driving experience.

It’s a hard trick to pull off and many other car makers fail at this, but BMW does a brilliant job of hitting the mark. Stacked against the other M cars the i8 is a different machine all together: It doesn’t really fit in. It’s more of it’s own flavor and spin on what a car is, so it’s not better or worse, it’s just different. That might be a middle of the road answer, but you’ll have to take it for what it is. If you want proper, old-school M fun, then you’ll want to stick with an M car. If you want a unique and refined driving experience on the other hand, the i8 is not a bad way to go.

The M3 Competition Package

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What can we say that hasn’t been said before? The M3 is a benchmark for performance cars and there’s a good reason for it: It does everything that well. Can you take it for a grocery store run? Check. Can you tack it for a hardcore track day? Double check. Can you comfortably transport your buddies on a night out? Triple check. The M3 is fast, powerful and feels properly dialed in like the M cars of old. With the competition package everything has a little extra boost. There’s a little bump in horsepower and torque, the steering a bit sharper and there’s some bits of extra carbonfiber goodness as well.

While some people have issues with the turbo-charged engine, we found it sublime as the performance exhaust gives a deep, burbling roar as we pushed the car through its paces. There was no turbo lag and the car feels balanced and direct: You point it one way and the car goes that way. Admittedly, we’re not the biggest fans of the dual-clutch transmission paired with paddles. We think that with a manual, the M3 would feel truly special, but we will admit that the DSG is light-years ahead of the old SMG transmission. All in all the M3 is a proper M car and great modern successor in a legendary lineage of M cars.

The M4 Competition Package

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You know everything we said about the M3? Well repeat that except for now it’s on an M3 that looks a little sexier and sleeker with two doors. We love the M4, and with the competition package we love it even more. One of the things we’ve heard is that BMW M has last it’s edge as other cars in the category are giving them legitimate runs for their money. What we see is that M cars are actually still M cars, they are dialed in racing machines you can use every day on the street, but when they first came on the scene no one else was doing anything near their level. However, as time has progressed and we’ve reached the modern era, everyone has stepped  their game so the field is now more packed than before. so this doesn’t means that M cars have somehow gotten worse, it means that everyone else has gotten better and reached the near M level, so the question is how do the M cars stand higher than the rest of field like they used to? We don’t know that answer, but we do know that modern M cars still have the same DNA as their predecessors.

Getting back o the M4, it’s everything the M3 is minus two doors, so if you like the sleek look of a coupe, this is the car for you. We’ll state it again for the record, we think that with a manual transmission the M4 would feel even more special, but we’re not going to complain about powering around with the DSG. All in all the M4 is the same winning formula as the M3 just in a slightly sexier package.

The M2

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The M2 is a car we’ve been waiting to drive for a while now because we’re intrigued by the idea…a smaller, lighter version of the current M3 & M4 would make for a really fun car. We’re a bit annoyed by the marketing, as the folks at BMW are trying to convince us that this is the “real” M car, much like when they had the 1 Series M launched against the E92 M3. But we got to examine and drive the M2 and we must say, we were a bit perplexed.

The M2 is sold as the “smaller and lighter” car but looking at it right next to an M4, the M2 is not that much smaller and it only weighs roughly 80 pounds less (with no options) so it’s not that much lighter either. The dimensions are a little odd on the car too, and one thing we take issue with is that the signature M engine outlets on the side fender that started with the E46 M3 or the M2 are actually fake and non-functional. This upsets us since the mantra of M cars has been form is function, so an M car with non-functional bits is a violation of that philosophy. Driving the M2 was a disappointment because the car still feels soft and not as hard-dailed in as the M3 and M4. It really feels like a slightly more powerful version of the M235i. And that’s what disappoints us: When you drive a regular 3 or 4 series and then you drive and M3 or and M4, the M car feels very different and very maximized. When you drive a 2 Series, then an M235i and then the M2, they all feel too closely similar. On it’s own the M2 is a fun and a bit playful, but when stacked directly against it’s bigger brothers the M3 and M4, it becomes clear that the M2 is a training car to get you ready for the properly dialed in ones. the M2 is a car that we’re told is one thing when in reality it’s something else: It’s not a hardcore, dialed in M car of old. It’s a soft, playful modern car that speaks to a different segment of drivers.

The X6M

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The X6M can be summed up in one word: Why? Why does this car exist? The answer: Why not? Why does this car have 580 horsepower and enough torque to rip the skin off your face? Why shouldn’t it? The X6M is the sleeper hit of the day, because it is literally a stupid amount of fun. When we were driving it we could not help but smile and laugh, because the car sits so high up, it’s cozy and comfortable, yet it drives like a bull at full charge and shockingly handles like a dialed in sports car. The whole experience is so absurd because your brain knows this shouldn’t be, and yet it is.

The X6M offer an master class in ridiculousness because it’s a usable sport activity vehicle (whatever that means), but it’s also a hardcore driving machine. The M3 and M4 are much more serious cars for serious drivers, the i8 in it’s own eco-future dimension and the M2 is a soft trainer car, but the X6M is just a barrel of jolly monkeys strapped to  rocket. There’s n way to fully describe one wit words, it’s just something you have to drive and experience for yourself. Well done BMW, the joke is on us this time and we love you for it.

 

 

 

After the drives we enjoyed a some refreshments and three-course tasting menus provided by a few celerity chefs. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon, and we want to again thank Center BMW, Valencia BMW, and Pacific BMW for hosting us.

Final Verdicts

i8 – It’s gimmicky, but all the gimmicks work which makes it cool. It’s fun to drive and looks really awesome, so it’s a winner in our book.

M3 – A legend with 4 doors, nuff said. It’s properly dialed in a with extra doors so you can claim it’s “family friendly.”

M4 – If we could only take one home today, it’s be this one. It’s an a proper M3 it but sleeker and sexier with the 2 doors.

M2 – A huge disappointment for us. It still feels too soft like the 2 series and not properly dialed in. On it’s own it’s a great car, but compared head to head wit the M3 and M4 you realize it’s a good training car but not a proper M.

X6M – Literally a stupid amount of fun. It should not exist, and yet it does, which makes us giddy. A sleeper hit, and a hard hit at that.

Cheers,

-JB

 

McLaren 720S Launch

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Last night at the Peterson Automotive Museum we attended the North American launch of the brand new McLaren 720S, which is the newest car in McLaren’s Super Series range. The event was hosted by McLaren Beverly Hills and featured some gourmet eats as well as some great music.

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The 720S is the successor to the McLaren 650S, or more accurately, the limited 675LT. It represents the latest in greatest of McLaren’s F1 technology applied to a road car. The 720S has, you guessed it, 720 horsepower that generated by a twin-turbocharged V8.

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The styling of the car is also a brand new direction for McLaren, with many organic flowing lines and swoops in the design. We’ve always been torn when it comes to McLaren styling. The F1 was an icon while the MP4-12C was cool and yet very “meh” at the same time. The P1 wowed us but then the 650S felt a step in the right direction but underwhelming. The 570S looked very insect-like, but it that design has grown on us over time. With the 720S were also torn. We know the styling is purely function and has a purpose. We actually love the back of the car, it’s dynamic, powerful, and screams “supercar.” From the side the car is a not as dramatic but it looks balanced. The front of the car we absolutely hate. We give McLaren points for taking a styling risk, but this front end does not sit well with us. We dislike the front so much we feel it almost negates the rest of the design. We actively look forward to the face lift for this car, but other than the front the rest of the car, especially the interior, is beautiful.

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We’re sure this car will be  monster around the track and will set some records. We’re happy to see McLaren making some bold moves. It’ll be interesting to see how other car makers react, but for now, enjoy some pictures of the latest and greatest McLaren has to offer.

Cheers,

-JB

Sai Suman Fashion Show

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When you catch word of a fashion show on a Tuesday night, you feel inclined to check it out. When you hear it’s at the hip Sofitel Hotel in Beverly Hills, you have to check it out. When you discover it’s Sia Suman showcasing a new Fall/Winter 2017 collection, you find yourself at the venue before you finish reading this sentence.

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At the venue, you’ll find noted guests such as Efren Ramirez (Napoleon Dynamite) and Ken Davitian (Borat), among a host of other attendees. Not doing anything in a traditional style, you’ll also find Suman’s designs to be highly fashionable, elite, and prime for the red carpet any top Hollywood event. The show made use of the entire venue space as an extended runway, ensuring everyone one got a close up and indepth viewing of the intricately elaborate designs.

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All in all it was a fun way to spend a Tuesday night…and to top it off we shot over to one of our favorite hot spots Toca Madera for an Agua Fresca, which we consider the best cocktail in Los Angeles.

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Cheers,

-JB