LOCATION SPOTTED: Scoop De Jour (East Hampton Village)
- Acceleration 0 to 60: 4.9 sec
- Braking 70 to 0: 168 feet
- Quarter Mile: 13.3 sec
- Skidpad: 0.88 g
- Slalom: 67.1 mph
Alright, so the Hamptons car scene is definately awesome, you have Lamborghinis and Ferraris up to your nose, along with AMG Mercs and BMW M cars. However, the vast majority of the people who own these cars don’t actually know (or care) about what they have. As long as it looks very expensive, pretty and preferably has a soft-top on it, people are going to walk into the dealership and buy it, even if it has a Lexus badge on it (good grief). Because there are seldom true-car enthusiasts out there in East Hampton, Bridgehampton and the like, I have the perfect car for someone who wants to blend right into the super-elite with out breaking the bank, too much.
Meet the Aston Martin DB9 Volante, a car that actually doesn’t cost that much used compared to what it cost new and one that you could buy nearly 8 or 9 years ago that no one could tell was old. You see Aston Martin doesn’t change the styling too much from year to year, or even every 5 years. In fact, all the cars that were conceived after Aston’s current CEO, Ulrich Benz, took his position look pretty much the same. The addition of LED head and tail lights and minor bumps in power for the 5.9 liter V12 engine are literally the only changes even the transmission remains virtually unchanged for 9 years running.
NOTE: Newer Aston Martins have white taillights, like the DBS model
You can pick one of these up in the mid-$70,000 range with less than 25,000 miles on it. That’s BMW 5-series money, and you can drive around looking like you just bought a yacht. Maintenance is your only “achilles heel” so spare an extra $5,000 a year in oil changes and any other failing part. Still, at least think about whether you should buy a spacious four door sedan from Germany, or ditch your rear passengers for a super-sleek Aston Martin, for the same price.
LOCATION SPOTTED: Daniel’s Lane (Sagaponack)
- Acceleration 0 to 60: 4.0 seconds
- Braking 60 to 0: 108 feet
- Quarter Mile: 12.6 sec
- Slalom: 66.8 mph
- Skidpad: 0.86 g
The Tesla is pretty cool. Unlike the Fisker Karma (now defunct), this Tesla truly seems to work well. The primary reason for this is the electronics. By this I don’t even mean the fact that the car is an electric car to begin with, but I’m referring specifically to the cabin tech interfaces and how they are going to be reliable in the long run. The Tesla uses Mercedes switchgear for it’s driveline and other Mercedes-sourced tech for it’s air-conditioning (notice the Mercedes transmission stalk in the picture below). Fisker messed up and decided to do everything on it’s own, very poor idea. Right-away I can tell that this Model S is going to be very popular for a long time to come.
What could be better than having one giant “iPad-like” touch-screen to control everything about the car. The dash literally has two physical buttons, one for the emergency indicators and one for the voice control, maybe. I like the fact that the makers of tesla can appreciate that most of the people trying to buy ecological “green peace” cars pretty much don’t care about cars. Therefore it is good that the car comes with a giant iPad as a dashboard and big 21 inch wheels and a sleek, modern body. Now, no one will dislike this car. Car people like it because it is fast and puts down crazy acceleration numbers and “green-peace” people will like it because it has an iPad for a dash and uses no gas. Hmmmm, the perfect car then?
Well, almost. It won’t go so far for so long on the battery. It will charge up in 4 hours with the speed charging stations set up by Tesla and yes, on a full charge it will go about 265 miles. However, charging the car up is very stressful on the batteries and after 7 years when the warranty is up, and you wish to sell your car. It is illegal for you to do so, without consent from Tesla. What?? That’s dumb as hell, you can’t even sell your car without it going through Tesla first?
Well, I guess none of this really matters, because fortunately people who actually buy this car are not car enthusiasts, I mean maybe some of the rich folks who already own like 3 Lamborghinis might have a Model S Tesla as a grocery-getter, but most will just drive it around and trade it in after two years and never think twice about it. This is the rich world that we live in, in the Hamptons. There really are so few car enthusiasts out here. There are a lot of people who make their wealth known by owning sick cars, but 90% of them don’t know how a supercharger works. It’s kinda sad, but it’s whatever I guess, at least I get to look at (sometimes drive) their “rich” cars.
LOCATION SPOTTED: Harbor Marina (Springs)
- Acceleration 0 to 60: 3.5 seconds
- Braking 60 to 0: 107 feet
- Quarter Mile: 11.8 seconds
- Slalom: 70.4 mph
- Skidpad: 0.92 g
Yup, 3.5 seconds to sixty. That’s fucking crazy to think about. An executive sedan weighing a barbaric 4620 pounds that can go that quick is ridiculous. It is especially ridiculous to think about when you consider that the old S8 was so slow by comparison. The old S8 (we’ll call that the S8 V10 because it was the only S8 to feature a 5.2 liter V10 motor) and the new one (powered by a 4.0 liter twin turbo V8) may only be 3 years apart, but it feels like literally ten years when you compare them. This new car is on a whole other planet from it’s predecessor and faster than all of it’s competitors.
The Mercedes S63 and S65 are still not faster than this, they’re still not. The BMW M5 is the closest four door to the S8 in terms of acceleration, it will do 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds. The S8 is also better than the Mercedes and BMW M5 (and of course the other 7-series models including the B7 and 760Li) because it is cleverly styled. It looks great because it is simple, it doesn’t draw attention in a way that makes people stare at it, but most people will give it a second look, like “wait what is that?”
The S8 is a sleeper, and in the Hamptons where everything is so flashy and high-end, cars that are understated and handsome, often stand out more because they don’t rely on chrome, big wheels, or badging to stand out. The S8 only says “S8” on it two times, once in the front (barely even noticeable) and on the back. 90% of people will think it’s an A8 and 60% of people will think it’s an A4, probably. That’s good.
- LOCATION SPOTTED: Quail Hill (Amagansett)
- Acceleration 0 to 60: 4.8 sec
- Braking 60 to 0: 109 feet
- Quarter Mile: 13.5 sec @ 105 mph
- Slalom: 67.2 mph
- Skid-pad: 0.91 g
BMW has come a long way with the 335i over the past 6 to 7 years. In the U.S., we saw the first 335i coupes and sedans in spring 2006, and the convertibles and xDrive models (like this one) come in late 2006 and 2007 respectively. The 335i was an absolute game-changer for the entry-level luxury sports-car market. The car did 0 to 60 in 4.8 seconds when equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission. That is impressive even by 2013 standards, let alone back in 2006. The achilles heal to the early 335i coupes, sedans, and convertibles was the high pressure fuel pump (or HPFP) recall, that affected some 500,000 BMWs with the N54 engine.
The N54 engine is a true twin-turbo engine developing 300 horsepower and 300 ft lbs of torque at just 1400 rpm. This engine was one of the first turbocharged engine to be produced by BMW and it’s HPFP was problematic. The N55 replaced the N54 in 2010 for the 2011 model year and, thus far, it has been far more reliable. I truly believe this is the right direction for BMW to move in for future 335i (and later 435i) models in the future.
The N55 is not only less problematic, but also more fuel efficient. Because the N55 is a single turbo with what BMW calls a “twin-scroll” function, instead of a true twin-turbo with two separate turbochargers, it gets truly great gas mileage. 29 mpg on the highway in rear-wheel drive configurations is quite good. Tuners may have issues with the sheer engine output losses that are now present with one less turbo in the engine bay, but it is a small price to pay in order to move BMW in the right direction for saving fuel and preserving the reliability of their motors.
images of N54 and N55 engines sourced from www.flikr.com