The 2017 Panamera Lays Claim to Segment Standards

The original Porsche Panamera came with very few expectations. It was the genesis of Porsche’s future of luxury, a deviation from performance-first values and an appeal to a new audience originally drawn in by the Cayenne SUV.

It didn’t greatly appeal to the purists, but the purists didn’t need it. Families with the affinity for the quality and style of Porsche saw it as right up their alley and influenced the Panamera to become a staple for the modern-day Porsche lineup. Its available all-wheel drive capabilities, comfort and size as well as ample power when wanted made it the premier luxury sedan option for a big crowd in just a few short years.

But after hitting refresh for the second-generation, it didn’t just reload the same page.

The 2017 Panamera is now coming loaded with expectations – lofty ones, at that. How can there not be when the claims are made of it being the “fastest luxury sedan on earth”? The statement is validated through lapping the famously-grueling Nürburgring test track, where the new Panamera Turbo claimed the record for the quickest time by a sedan. The 7:38 clocking puts it among supercars like the Lexus LFA and Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, cars painstakingly tested almost solely for achievement on the track.

It’s pretty unlikely, however, to find the new Panamera dominating your local track day. It can, but that’s not what it’s for.

Funneling the history of Porsche performance into a luxury package is what the Panamera has been expected to accomplish. 400 and 500 horsepower was achieved from the outset, and now it has reached a wild 680, but it went hand-in-hand with a fundamentally practical hatchback layout that was comfortable for four adults. Those passengers aren’t just accounted for, they’re treated.

Revisions inside the Panamera’s spacious cabin are not exactly subtle, but are thematic. The driver’s main focus is the redesigned steering wheel that was carried over from the 918 Spyder hypercar into most subsequently-released Porsches. But redesigning everything around the driver was a broader challenge.

The ascending center console is brought up to date with the new Panamera, its design familiar but its interface entirely reimagined. Once an overwhelming abundance of buttons and controls, the console is now streamlined with touch features, again predated to the 918. The rear passengers can be delighted to more of the same, with an optional four-zone climate system that actually equips both media and navigation interfaces as well.

The front console leads into a massively redesigned technology center that spans a significant portion of the driver’s field of view. Entirely configurable, the infotainment displays will boldly readout navigation directions, vehicle settings and information and a selection of car-friendly apps that operate like a familiar mobile interface and caters to the ever-connected. Not vital to the driving experience, no, but the delimitation of accessibility within the new Panamera keeps it as the benchmark for its class and satisfies you from asking anything more.

But “more” is what the Panamera always delivers. Going beyond the expectation of the everyday luxury sedan vaulted it from quite literally nowhere to now the forefront of the luxury market. The history of Porsche was not written by the Panamera, but it is now a co-author of the future of it. And its future looks pretty darn good.

2017’s Panamera isn’t just bells and whistles, it isn’t just more efficient and powerful engines. What most makes the new Panamera more attractive is that…it’s more attractive.

The facelift is as the term can best be applied, the latest socially-acclaimed design language translates well to the Panamera. The rear fascia shows more like a 911 and backs the concept of the Panamera being a four-door luxury sports car. Its track is widened for a forceful road presence and overall is raked 20mm lower at the rear for a traditional coupe-like silhouette. It looks familiar, but better than you remember.

That feeling reflects across every surface of the new Panamera, with some changes blending in and others standing out; but combined as a whole, they deliver the best luxury four-door on the market.

 


The Dodge Viper Never Became a Modern Car

The Dodge Viper is reaching the ultimate end of its production after a legacy of 25 years but, boy, is it going out strong.

The Gen V Viper ACR is the last high-performance model of the Viper, and the ACR badge has been a staple throughout multiple generations of the car. It stands for American Club Racing, and the model itself stands for the pinnacle of track dominance. Maximizing performance in any racing environment is the premise, and it was originally executed through engine enhancements and suspension modification to corral the rambunctious Viper. As the generations evolved, so did the changes to the ACR, and the performance jumped accordingly.

The Gen IV ACR carried over significant changes from the Gen II version, with the easiest to detect being the aerodynamics. Carbon fiber dive planes drive down the front of the car, while the giant wing plants the rear, coaxing it through a track setting with unbelievable grip. These changes allowed the Gen IV ACR to lap nearly every other supercar available around the Nürburgring in 2011, all for just a smidge above the $100,000 mark.

The latest installment is supposedly their last, and Dodge certainly saved the best for it. The aerodynamics are now turned to the extreme, so says Dodge.

The Extreme Aero package is an option for the new ACR, and one that is arguably necessary for the dedicated track attacker. The package is not unique in what it features, but exactly how it features those things. It includes a dual-element rear wing (adjustable), front splitter extension (removable), hood louvers (removable), rear diffuser blades (removable too!) and two additional front dive planes that in some combination add up to a track day experience that is efficient, if not personalized. As a result, the Extreme Viper ACR shattered production car lap records at more than a dozen famous tracks, dethroning hypercars ten times the price.

This was all achieved because the Viper was about simply two things: pure speed, and…well, no, there isn’t really a second one. It’s mainly just speed. The Viper was never about cutting-edge tech, it never even used to have the electronic aids that other cars use to shave off precious seconds. All you have at your disposal is a massive naturally-aspirated V10 and a six-speed manual.

But, unfortunately, that’s part of why it’s going away.

Supercars are defined by their performance, and the manual transmission is being left behind by fantastically quick dual-clutch transmissions. With that comes an ease of accessibility and a driving experience that can be tapped into by virtually anyone. But the Viper ACR has only found itself loved by the smallest niche market.

And we found out why.

Its pricier competition, cars like the Porsche GT3 RS and McLaren 675LT, can double as sufficiently capable road cars off the track if need be. In the real world, in traffic, the Viper is just the worst. It certainly makes you wish you could open it up at the track, but really, it makes you wish you were simply anywhere else. A lot of that comes from the effort of operating its manual transmission, a pain in any car in traffic; though at the same time, I praise its inclusion of a manual, considering almost none of its modern competition gives you that option anymore.

Even once you come to terms with its clutch, the Viper still isn’t particularly generous. Its gearbox surely isn’t developed with low-speed shifts in mind, which makes the labyrinth of downtown West Chester a nightmare to navigate as we take it out for a local shoot. The adrenaline that kicks in at high speeds helps yank the short but weighty shifter into gear, but trudging along at minimal speed forces you to cope with it more reluctantly. You can certainly keep it in high gear around town to avoid the process, but some things you can’t avoid – like real world roads.

Any – literally any – imperfection in the road is crippling. In the late winter, Pennsylvania roads are in some state of disrepair, and the Viper makes you pay, and makes you regret every decision you’ve ever made up until this point. It’s not particularly darty when swerving around the little bumps, as it’s a car developed to tackle the corkscrew at Laguna Seca, which seems like hardly a task compared to West Chester University’s campus. So when you have no choice but to traverse the battered roads, you better brace for impact. The seats don’t do much in supporting you in that regard.

But then I found myself laughing. I looked in the rear-view mirror, saw that towering wing trailing me and thought, “this is so ridiculous.” Passers-by stopped and watched, likely wondering how on earth this is a thing that is allowed on the street.

Because in reality, it doesn’t have a real place outside the track, and that’s probably why it will now have no place in the car market in the future. It will be left in a glorious past where it may rightfully belong.

 


RDS Automotive Group Named a Philly Top Workplace For 2017

For the fifth consecutive year, the RDS Automotive Group has been recognized by philly.com as one of its annual Top Workplaces for 2017.

The results come from a survey conducted by WorkplaceDynamics, a leading research firm specializing in workplace health and improvement. Employees completed a survey covering various aspects of the organizational environment, making the people who are truly the foundation of these companies the ones leading these studies.

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Long-Awaited Arrivals Hit Geneva

The Geneva Motor Show is not really the place to come with subtle yearly refreshes and facelifts, it demands the newest and very best each brand has to offer. Porsche and McLaren had these projects in the works for years, but 2017 was the culmination and assembly of these ideas in one place.

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Performance Reaching New Heights at 2017 Geneva Show

Performance cars are climbing and climbing to what seems like an inevitable plateau, which makes the ridiculous numbers associated with them seem less and less impressive each year. But if there’s any battlefield to truly fight for the industry’s attention, it’s the Geneva Motor Show.

The Swiss show centralizes the top European brands to sculpt the landscape of the next generation of cars. That next generation, for McLaren and Porsche, aims to stave off and elevate that plateau for at least a handful of years.

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Bentley Makes a True Supercar, Too

Despite what many believe, stickers don’t actually add any horsepower to a car. Somehow, Bentley seems to have defied logic and done just that.

The Bentley Continental GT3-R was inspired by the GT3 race car, with graphics and aero bits stuck on all over to denote its uniqueness. The production numbers backed up its exclusive appeal, with just 300 units being sold worldwide and 99 of them coming to the United States, all of those receiving their own individual chassis number.

The basic colorway was Glacier White with two-tone striping and logo graphics adorning each side. The Akrapovič titanium exhaust system saves 7 kg of weight in the GT3-R, which hardly seems like much in a car the size of the Continental,  but its retuned acoustics are the far more noticeable difference as the car roars to life then pops and crackles once you let off the accelerator.

It looks and sounds like no other Bentley before it, but most importantly, it performs as such too.

572 horsepower is competitive among leagues of supercars, but Bentley doesn’t cater to those comparisons. Bentley swoons its customers with defining presence and luxury, so adding supercar-level performance to its most popular model was an entirely new venture. The 4-liter twin-turbo V8 isn’t changed so much on paper – its displacement is the same as the V8 S model – but new turbos and gear ratios allow the GT3-R to be quicker than any Bentley before it. Tested as quick as 3.3 seconds but advertised at 3.8, the GT3-R more or less loses the concept of time as it blasts off the line with a drama lacking from any Continental prior.

Even with every sense telling you the GT3-R is a new and different thing, a more ferocious thing, it still is what it is. It’s still a Bentley, for better or for worse.

The endearing thing about the modern supercar is the little foibles here and there that make it just a bit imperfect, a bit impractical. It’s what makes you save it only for special occasions. It, itself, is its own special occasion. But Bentleys have always been superior everyday cruisers, and the GT3-R is just the most superior one.

So you don’t have to save this supercar for simply a weekend drive. Drive it every day, because you can. It rides like a Bentley should – OK, maybe just a tad stiffer, but you need that with this performance – and features all the luxuries you’d be accustomed to, they just might be coated in carbon fiber or touched with Alcantara.

And the stickers, of course. Stickers make any car faster.

 

 


Pebble Beach Auctions Start New Chapters for Unique Cars

Ushering in the next generation of the most desirable luxury and supercars in the world has become the norm at Monterey’s car week, but it wasn’t always that way. The Pebble Beach Concours, the fireworks display at the finale of the weekend, was the celebration of decades of historic and significant vehicles, but up-and-coming events like The Quail Motorsports Gathering have shifted the focus to the new era of exotic cars.

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RDS Road Rally

The ultimate enjoyment of the RDS Experience takes place at the RDS Road Rally. Customers who partake are treated to miles upon miles of the area’s finest back roads while they partake in route and general trivia challenge questions. Only a few spots remain, so email contact@rdsautogroup.com if you’re interested in receiving the registration link!