Meet Giulia – The Alpha Romeo Giulia Driven

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Word on the street is that there’s a new Italian roaming around aiming to shake thing up a bit with the establishment…and her name happens to be Giulia. Being the curious souls that we are, we had to investigate these rumors which led us to an event hosted by the amazing Peterson Automotive Museum.

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The Auto Gallery was gracious enough to be sponsoring the event. The main garage had a fun display where we could go up and checkout the cars before our test drives, and should our wait time be significant, we could tour the museum or hangout on the rooftop lounge. Taking full advantage of the beautiful weather, we opted to head straight for the roof for some refreshments while we awaited for our cars o be ready. The sky was spectacular and having a gourmet spread of food made for a great atmosphere as we paid a visit to the Cappuccino Man stand for some liquid refreshments while enjoying some tunes from the DJ.

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When our drive time came up, we made our way downstairs to get acquainted with our new Italian personality of interest, Giulia. From the outside, the Giulia is distinctly Italian, it has a combination of smooth and aggressive lines. The rear of the car, especially on the Quadrifogilio is strikingly similar to a combination of the Maserati Gran Turismo and Ghibli, but it looks pretty sharp. Personally, Alpha styling hasn’t been our thing, especially the front ends of their modern cars, but the design language does echo back to traditional Alpha styling ques. Either you love it or hate it, so if it speaks to you, then the Giulia is one of the most beautiful cars you can find.

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The cars available for testing where the Giulia base model with sport options, the Ti model, and the Ti AWD version. Of course we inquired about the Quadrifogilio that was on display and we were promptly told that car was “off-limits for today.” So instead we decided to see what the base Giulia could do, and opted to test the sport optioned base model first. On the inside is where the real beauty to be found on the Giulia is, as the layout and materials are sleek and elegant, a true credit to Italian craftsmanship. There is adequate interior space in the car to comfortably fit 4 adults and plenty of space in the trunk to store a 5th and 6th passenger…we mean lot of luggage.

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Under the hood, the base Giulia features a 280 horsepower inline 4 cylinder engine that is turbo charged. The shocking thing is that is that this engine generates 306 foot-pounds of toque. On paper, it certainly sounds sporty enough, but unfortunately that sporty feeling stays on paper. The base Giulias only come with an 8-speed automatic transmission (and also some of the largest paddle shifters on any car) which is setup primarily for economy. In Eco mode the car is quiet, subdued and very…pedestrian. When put in Dynamic mode (performance mode) there is a subtle difference in the throttle response, but not by a large margin. Pushing the car to accelerate it feels very subdued…your foot goes down, you get a little momentum before the transmission decides to give you some power, then after that the turbo kicks in for some added momentum. The problem is by the time the turbo kicks in you’re near the redline so it’s time to shift up and restart that entire process all over again.

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The Giulia however has some very solid brakes and turns like a nimble compact car, so you can get a sense that the big brother Quadrifogilio has a solid base platform to really turn things up. Returning the base sport model and getting into the the Ti model, we found the Giulia’s true calling. Ti model is the more luxury focused base model. So it still has the same engine and power, but the interior and ride are more focused on comfort. Suddenly, the subdued power and lack of exhaust note are welcomed as you drive around, because the ride is pleasant and relaxing. Having the expectation of sport options is misleading, the base model Giulia is not a sports car. It’s more like an Italian Lexus IS350. From a performance stand point, this car lacks everything you’d want and you’d be better of getting  base model BMW 3 or 4 Series, or an Audi A3. But for a comfy cruiser that has looks, luxury, and Italian flare, then it’s a great pickup for the money since the Giulia starts at about $40,000.

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All in all it was a great day and the Peterson and Auto Gallery hosted  great event. But now that we’ve gotten to know Giulia, we’re very curious to see what her big brother Quadrifogilio can do. Be sure to enjoy some other pics from the Peterson Museum (and schedule your own visit too):

Cheers,

-JB

Canepa Motorsports Tour

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This past weekend we took a bit of an excursion up north to the San Francisco Bay area for some fun, relaxation, and to sample the best our northern sister city has to offer. While we were up there, we couldn’t pass up the chance to visit Canepa Motorsports, which is run by the legendary race car driver Bruce Canepa himself.

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At first glance the facility looks like large industrial building from the outside. What’s a bit cool about that is that it makes the location feel discrete and like more of a hidden gem, because inside it immediately becomes apparent that you’re in a gear-head wanderland. The first car we saw was the only remaining Porsche Carrera GT Prototype. Originally there where two, but now the only one in existance is hanging out by the entrance way, next to a Porsche 959 and an production Carrera GT, so that way you can see all of the differences up close. Other gems that where hanging out in the downstairs section included a BMW M1, a Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary Edition, a Ford RS 200 Evo, 2006 Ford GT Heritage Edition, a BMW Z8 and a Shelby 427 Cobra, among other special vehicles.

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One could easily spend many hours in the “lobby” getting lost in the automotive history that is coexisting, but then you’ll eventually come across a sign that says “museum upstairs.” Naturally, you’ll follow the sign up the staircase and discover another level of amazement: A sampling of some of the most legendary race cars ever. From a Porsche 917 LeMans car to a Dodge Daytona Superbird race car, the diversity is astounding. Personal highlights included a Chevy powered Indy Car from the 1990’s and a Ferrari 250 LM race car. Though the biggest highlight was running into Bruce Canepa himself and tagging along with a tour he was giving about the cars. Every car has a story, and Bruce has all the details to each, including many personal stories of his involving many of the vehicles there. All in all it was a pretty mind blowing experience.

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After we gathered the bits of our exploded mind, we noticed another sign that read “garage view,” which lead to a balcony that gives a birds eye view of the shop area. And in the shop area is where even more automotive magic happens. We rejoined Bruce’s tour and shuffled down into the shop area. Like kids in a candy store, we couldn’t help but be wide-eyed with joy and awe as we saw all of the project cars in various stages. We came across two more BMW M1’s being restored, one a street version and the other a Procar. In between them was a unicorn of unicorns, the Cizeta Maroder V16 T Prototype. The Cizeta was in the beginning stages of undergoing a full top to bottom restore, and according to Bruce, the story of how it wound up there went something like this: The car had been sitting in company co-founder Giorgio Maroder’s house for a few decades when he called up his friend Jay Leno about a mechanic who could restore his car. Jay Leno dialed up Bruce and said “Hey, my friend has this car called a Cizeta, I told him you could fix it.” Bruce replied, “A what kind of car?” to which Jay replied by adding Georgio into a three-way-call and saying “Giorgio, meet Bruce, he’s a great guy. He’ll fix your car.” And now we found ourselves face to face with one of the most fascinating cars from the late 1980’s.

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Taking a look around we discovered an eclectic and diverse mix of cars, like a McLaren P1 GTR in between two fully restored Porsche 959’s while right behind them was a Bugatti EB110 GT undergoing a full restoration. There was also a Ferrari 512 TR by the paint bay, an original Pontiac GTO and another Shelby 427 Cobra. The shop has a back section which we peaked into and discovered even more automotive eye candy. It’s not every day that you come across a Ford GT40 MKII shell and chassis that happens to be next to two Lamborghini Countachs, a Chevy Corvette C2 split-window, and a wall of historic racing cars (yes literally, a wall of awesome) that included another Porsche 917.

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We must say that as far we’re concerned, Canepa is a must go to destination for any car lover. If you love automotive racing, then that goes triple as the amount of history is astounding. Bruce is a gracious and knowledge host, and it was an honor and joy to meet him and hear some of his racing stories. His staff are all very friendly and hospitable, and the appreciation these driving pieces of art is reflected in their attitudes. It was a trip not to be forgotten and one that we’ll have to make again in the near future. Be sure to checkout Canepa’s website for more info. Enjoy our gallery of pictures below and checkout the video tour our media partner DTRockstar1 shot while we were there (and subscribe to his channel as well):

Cheers,

-JB

Father Vs Son: E46 Vs E90 M3

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With so many amazing machines on the road now it sometimes becomes easy to take cars for granted. What we mean by that is that in the modern era cars have come so far and performance has become so accessible, you sometimes forget how certain cars became known as the benchmark. One such car is the original E30 BMW M3, which when it first came out in 1986, set a new benchmark for what a performance sedan could be. The next generation E36 M3 continued this tradition, even though the US customers did get a little short-handed by the EPA. In 2001, the E46 M3 came onto the scene and solidified the legend of the M3. And in 2008, the V8 power E90 and E92 (sedan and coupe versions, respectively) took the M3 to another level of insanity.

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Since we have access to a 2001 E46 M3 and a 2008 E90 M3, we’d thought it’d be fun to revisit these cars and what makes them special, as well as how they stock up against each other. First, let’s take a look at the E46 M3.

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Featuring an inline 6 engine that cranks out 333 horsepower and 262 ft pounds of torque, the E46 M3 had some fairly insane stats for the the time it was introduced. The particular example we have is colored in the flashy Laguna Seca Blue, which was a controversial color at the time but has gone on to become a classic. The color can be subtle (sorta) at times and very vibrate at others, depending on the light. The example we have has a 6 speed manual transmission, which hugely changes the driving experience, as we’ll get into later. The E46 M3 is fairly small and compact car, and somehow the lines are still classic and timeless. It looks very modern and not dated, which is something previous generation M3’s can’t claim.

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Driving the E46 M3 is a joyous experience, the car is nimble, light and very dialed in. Driving it is a simple “point and go” experience as the E46 is easy to place and the car always feels like it wants to go a little faster, turn a little harder and be a little more aggressive. The recommended driving setup is with the Sport button on and with a manual transmission. The SMG semi-automatic F1 style transmission that is available is notoriously clunky, especially at low speeds, but the manual makes the driving experience sublime. The clutch is light and shifts are effortless, so even a newbie to the manual transmission can learn relatively quickly on this car. The quirks with the E46 is that it is a bit of a noisy car, in that there are creaks and moans the car makes, but usually the sound of the amazing S54 engine can drown them out. Also the E46 can understeer a bit in certain corners at speed, but the back can be broken lose for some playful slides. 10 minutes of driving this car and it’s easy to see why it’s a modern classic and was a home-run for BMW when it was introduced.

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So how could BMW top that? There attempt to do so was with the next generation M3, and we happen to have access to an E90 M3 to see exactly how they tried to do so. The E90 upped the ante, the new S65 engine was a monstrous V8 that had a whopping 414 horsepower and 292 ft pounds of toque. For the transmission you could get ether a manual or the brand new DCT, which was a dual-clutch F1 style transmission that was a huge improvement over the SMG. The car we had was equipped with the DCT, which almost seemed fitting as the E90 belongs more to the laptop generation of performance cars while the E46 belongs to the coal mine generation.

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Driving the E90 M3 the first things you notice are the size and the power of the car. The E90 is bigger car than the E46, and it is heavier as well. But it’s also much more powerful and the V8 under the hood never lets you forget that fact. The E90 pulls very hard and hugs the road in a way that makes you believe in witchcraft because like the E46, the E90 is very much a “point and go” car as well. The E90 feels so planted and tells you everthing that’s happening on the road that your driver confidence is hugely boosted. Continuing the tradition of the E46, the E90 has that very special signature M Car feel to it. Even with the DCT, the car is quick, agile and a proper driver’s car. Put the car in M dynamic mode and the play factor doubles as the car’s rear becomes easy to slide and catch, which suddenly becomes your new favorite game while driving.

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So which one do we like more? It’s a bit of a toss up, but we’re going to give the slight edge to the E46 M3 on this one. The combination of a manual transmission and the slightly more playful driving nature give a little better sense of connection with the road. This isn’t to downplay the E90 M3 at all. It’s more of a generational preference. But both cars are proper M Cars, are proper driving machine, and are amazing bang-for-buck classics you buy right now. Do what we did, grab some buddies, grab these cars, and go for a fun drive in Malibu and up the coast to Moonshadows for some mojitos.

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Cheers,

JB

PECLA: The Ultimate Porsche Experience

After much anticipation, the brand new Porsche Experience Center is finally open in Carson, Los Angeles. The state-of-the-art facility can be clearly seen from the 405 freeway and is the west coast headquarters for Porsche North America.

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As excited as we where to drive, today we actually went for a different purpose: Dining. Located in the facility is fine dining Restaurant 917, which is located on the top floor of the facility. The perk of this is you get a clear view of the entire outdoor portion of the facility, with clear views of the track and cars parked below.

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The menu of Restaurant 917 is short but diverse, but the food and drink variety is balanced for those that want to either have something light before a track session or heavy for those leaving the track having worked up an appetite. We highly recommend trying the dessert menu as well, as the artisan desserts look as amazing as they taste.

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On the main floor of the facility is a garage with historic Porsche race cars and and a few current models as well, like the 911 R. There is a gift shop and outdoor patio at track level too. All in all the facility is a fantastic place and a must-visit for any gear-head. And fans of Porsche will feel like kids in a candy store as this place is a dream come true for fans of the German performance car marque.

Cheers,

-JB

The Next 100

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“Even though the future seems far away, it is actually beginning right now.” -Mattie Stepanek
This weekend BMW held a very special 4-day event, presenting each of their fascinating Next 100 Concepts at the Santa Monica Airport. Since BMW was offering test drives, we took the opportunity to test drive the BMW i8, and we’ll have a full review for it shortly.
For now, let’s get up close and personal with the BMW Vision Next 100 Concepts:
The BMW Vision Next 100
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“Our goal was to create a very personal vehicle. There will always be that highly emotional Connection between a BMW and its driver.”

-Karim Habib
Head of BMW Automobile Design

The flagship concept vehicle, the BMW Vision Next 100 Concept features active body geometry, the ability to drive itself and seating configurations based on the driving mode.
The Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100
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“With the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100 we were very mindful not to dwell on the past. We wanted to be as innovative as possible and at the same time transcend the design history of the brand.”

-Giles Taylor
Design Director Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

This sleek blade-cube shaped concept features some very luxurious high-concept fashion styling and silhouette that is elegant, bold, and signature Rolls-Royce.
The BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100
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“The BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 is the essence of motorcycling and a symbol of the ultimate riding experience of the future.”

-Adrian van Hooydonk
Senior Vice President BMW Group Design

This sleek self-balancing motorcycle is design to ensure future riders won’t need any safety gear with it’s integrated head-ups visor, dynamic control systems and the ability to remain upright via internal gyroscopes.

The Mini Vision Next 100
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“MINI stands for clever urban mobility that engages all the senses. In the future, that might no longer mean owning your own car.”

-Adrian van Hooydonk
Senior Vice President BMW Group Design

This compact and minimalist design features bench seating, ambient mood lighting, and steam-punk inspired styling.
Enjoy our gallery of pictures and look for our full BMW i8 review shortly!
Cheers,
-JB