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A new Palace for Bentley and Bugatti West of St. Louis

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California has four Bentley dealerships, but Missouri has Saint Louis Motorcars. With franchises for Bentley, Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, Lotus and Bugatti, its a one-stop ultra-luxury and ultra-performance shop minutes from the St. Louis Gateway Arch.

Almost exactly in the center of the United States, Saint Louis Motorcars provides sales and Service for Bentley and is one of only 12 locations in the U.S. to purchase and service a Bugatti. The remodeled facility now features a Bugatti gallery, in which there sits a 2019 Chiron, the newest model.

Bugatti Chiron at Saint Louis Motorcars

The new showroom was unveiled on March 9, 2018 by partners and Dealer Principals Graham Hill and Jim Mills, assisted by Don Heditsian and Jeff Kuhlman of Bentley Motors, and charming hostess Krysta Struthers.

Host Krysta Struthers

Marketing Manager Krysta Struthers with Ice Sculpture Commemorating new Bentley Showroom

On loan from Bentley, the new Bentley Continental GT was unveiled during the opening. Prospective owners can now place orders with Saint Louis Motorcars for deliveries starting in June.

Bentley Continental GT Unveiling at STL Motorcars

Overall, the night was a huge success with over 300 well-wishers and Bentley fans in attendance.

Bentley Background

Bentley Motors Limited was founded by Walter Owen Bentley in 1919 in Cricklewood, North London, United Kingdom. Bentley won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1924, 1927, 1928, 1930, and again in 2003.

Originally, Bentley and Rolls-Royce were competitors, but the two joined forces in 1931. In 1998, Volkswagen Group acquired Bentley. Rolls-Royce Plc (Aerospace) sold the Rolls-Royce name and logo to BMW Group. However, the two are competitors once again.

Why Bentley?

People may ask: "Why drive a Bentley?" A $30,000 Camry will take you from point A to B just as reliably as a $300,000 Bentley. If it's performance, there are certainly less expensive cars that can complete the quarter mile within 13 seconds, or achieve a top speed of 190+ MPH.

There are two reasons to drive a Bentley: One reason is to make oneself feel successful. The level of comfort, craftsmanship, performance, and exclusivity that a $300,000 car represents is a constant reminder of success. The second reason is to demonstrate personal success to others. In business and other areas of life, anyone can claim success, but a Bentley is tangible proof of success to one's peers and anyone else.

Nevertheless, why is it that someone would spend significantly more than the median price of a four bedroom house on simple transportation? Ultimately, it's none of our business. A man is the sole proprietor of his own resources, and has the right to choose how he invests them.

Bentley Mulsanne at STL MotorcarsMULLINER LIMITED EDITION: MULSANNE DESIGN SERIES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

2019 CT6 V-Sport

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2019 Cadillac CT6 V-Sport

Unless you go back to the 1930's, Cadillac has a relatively short performance history. That more modern performance story begins in 1992, when Cadillac introduced the 4.0-liter Northstar V8 with dual overhead camshafts and aluminum block and heads. A front-wheel-drive engine, it first produced 295 horsepower in the 1993 Cadillac Allante. This engine was exclusive to Cadillac for many years, but was later included in Pontiac, Buick and even Oldsmobile models, though the Olds used a smaller version.

More recently, Cadillac performance has meant V-Sport, usually with supercharged V8 engines borrowed from the Corvette, but lately tubocharged engines again unique to Cadillac are showing up, and now Cadillac will have its own, completely exclusive V8, again.

The CT6 always promised a new, Cadillac-exclusive V8, and now its delivering: a 4.2-liter dual overhead cam, 32-valve, twin-turbocharged V8 with variable valve timing will deliver 550 horsepower and an impressive 627 pound-feet of torque. The turbochargers are nestled in the 90-degree angle of the "V" to improve emissions and eliminate turbo lag. This is the setup preferred by our German friends, and moves the intake manifolds to the sides of the engine. The exhaust system has a valve that allows it to open up at higher speeds for more power and a louder exhaust note.

Transmitting the engine's power to the tires is a 10-speed automtic (1 more gear than Mercedes offers, 2 more than BMW or Audi) that is shared with Ford and sees duty in vehicles from the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 to the Ford Raptor.

Like the new M5 and before it the E 63 S, the CT6 V-Sport is all-wheel-drive, only. This and its lighter weight should make it more than a match for its Chevy-engined (for now) CTS V-Sport, which boasts more power, but only eight speeds and rear-wheel-drive.

Brembo brakes and a stiffened magnetic-controlled suspension round out the package with 20-inch high-performance, SUmmer-only tires.

The key feature for the CT6 V-Sport is that lighter weight. Sized similarly to a BMW 7 Series and S-Class Mercedes, the CT6 weighs less than the 5 Series or E-Class. If the CT6 V-Sport can maintain a similar weight advantage to S 63 and B7 Alpina competitors it should compete well with them and possibly even the M5 and E 63.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

2018 Infiniti QX80

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We've waited with baited breath for the all-new, break-through full-size SUV from Infiniti. A Concept Prototype at the New York Auto Show this year showed a cutting-edge, imposing vehicle, with a few features we knew wouldn't make it, like video cameras instead of side-view mirrors.

Infiniti QX80 Monograph Concept

Then, after the traditional Fall new model introductions passed and the QX80 didn't show, we figured that it was so special it would take a little longer for Infiniti to get it squared away. However, that wasn't the case.

When the QX80 finally appeared in the steel, it looked awfully familiar, but not because of the prototype we were shown this April. Strangely enough, when reading the specifications and equipment sheets, the 2018 model matched the 2017 to the tenth of an inch. Wheelbase, overall length, front track, rear track, width, height, are all exactly the same.

Production Model 2018 Infiniti QX80

Production Model 2018 Infiniti QX80

At first, I thought this was a mistake and someone had accidentally forwarded us last year's data, but after a careful reading of the press release that went with it, it seems as if it were correct: the 2018 QX80 was the 2017 QX80 with a new grill insert and a few other cosmetic changes. This is done all the time in the industry, it's called a "cosmetic refresh" or "facelift." But, when its done, the hoopla of a separate party at a major auto show and a press release so full of superlatives that it reads as if written by a freshman English major using a 20-sided die and a thesaurus.

The only difference in any of the specifications is a 1-percent reduction in turning diameter and a 3-percent difference in steering ratio. Even listed curb weight is identical to the pound.

Reading the press release made it obvious this was the same SUV, not because it said so, or even because a careful read showed no changes to the specs or equipment, but simply because a semantic removal of all adjectives left me with a blank sheet of paper. Seriously: "Our designers raised the visual height of our iconic ‘double-arch’ grille and signature headlamps, striking an unrivalled (SIC) on-road premium tonality." If the engineers and designers had spent 1% of the effort on this vehicle as the person who wrote the press release, it not only would have had video cameras for the side view, but the freaking thing would have floated 40-feet above the road noiselessly while burning nothing but tap water and emitting a slight scent of raspberries.

Anyway, we don't have a road test or driving impressions of the top SUV from Infiniti, but Car and Driver tested a QX54 in September 2010. That should work.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Driving a Maserati Ghibli in LA

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Or, How We Tore Around Like Idiots Without Spending TOO Much Money!

 

Nice car

 

 We started online, looking at car rentals for our time at the LA Auto Show, where I stumbled upon a peer to peer car rental app: TURO. While comparing Enterprise and Budget ($199/day for a Grand Cherokee) I saw I could rent a Maserati Ghibli for less on TURO.

As if paying less than the cost of a Grand Cherokee weren’t enough, TURO, The P-2-P Car rental service we were using, has their own valet that brought the car to us. We picked up the Ghibli at 5:00 PM in a nearby hotel parking lot. That is, we would have, but the owner was caught in traffic. This would be a sign of things to com.

When the valet did arrive, he handled scanning my driver’s license and inspected the car. The valet’s overall demeanor was very friendly and used his phone to take pictures of the scratches on one side and the bad road rash on one of the wheels. After we fielded some questions for the owner on the best luxury car to buy, rent for a few years, and then resell, not a Maserati if you were wondering, we took off for our hotel.

First impressions: The navigation system didn’t work. Punching in the name of our hotel resulted in a spinning hourglass that stayed on unchanging. Trying by POI gets us a list that doesn’t include our hotel, probably because we were too far away and needed a navigation system to find it. Google Maps to the rescue! My sidekick pulled up our hotel in Google Maps and we began driving there, with the hourglass still spinning on the navigation screen.

Second Impressions: Loud. Fast. Great handling. Nice seats. We shot through traffic, at least as much as one can at 5:30 PM in LA traffic going from the airport to downtown. Its great fun to stomp the gas, twist the wheel, and shoot into an adjacent lane that allows me a few hundred feet of movement. (I strongly disagree with this statement. -My Sidekick) Sometimes a lane is inexplicably empty for several hundred yards and I must snarl down it as quickly as I can only to find out why it was empty and be forced to jump back into the other lane having gained on my destination.

Third impression: This car has more turbo lag than a mid-eighties Chrysler turbo automatic. At one traffic light I floor it… three seconds after I ooze away from the intersection, the Maserati growls, barks and lunges forward like a mastiff that’s just smelled the mailman on the next block. I try pressing the “S” Button which issues a “Sport Mode” message in the center of the gauge cluster and seems to improve the lag marginally, but now the car bucks, lunges and stays in a lower gear most of the time. I eventually get very good at flooring it about two seconds before I need maximum acceleration, unfortunately this doesn’t work with stoplights and I really don’t want to torque brake somebody else’s car. It does, however, make for incredibly amusing corners. As I floored it to go around and the car docilely turns in and then fishtails slightly on the exit as the engine finally surges to life. This trick just did not get old.

The next day, after taking the Maserati a couple of miles from the hotel to the convention center to register for the LA Auto Show (see 2016 LA Auto Show), my sidekick and I decided (I decided nothing! -Sidekick) that we should take a longer drive and get the feel of LA and the Ghibli on the open road. After briefly determining that if the Maserati Nav system knew where Pacific Coast Highway was, it wasn’t going to tell us, My Sidekick looked it up on his phone and we started to head in the direction.

We closed in on the PCH, using mostly surface streets, when I decided we should gas up. Luck was with us and we paid less than $3.00/gallon for premium. Three modern niceties we often overlook made it simpler to refuel: a glance at the gas gauge revealed an arrow pointing to the passenger side of the car, so I maneuvered to place the Maserati to the left of a free pump. The Ghibli’s locking fuel door automatically unlocked when we unlocked the car. Finally, the Ghibli is cap-less, so I just had to insert the nozzle and start pumping.

Full of 93-octane, we spun out of the station, headed towards PCH. Ever been on the PCH on a weekday at 6:00 PM? Yeah, loads of traffic. Not creeping, bumper-to-bumper traffic, but congested, tight, “we aren’t seeing what this Maserati can really do” traffic. By now I’ve gotten the turbo lag subconsciously compensated for in my brain, so I give it a good old CarChat try: pointing, squeezing, anticipating holes in traffic, staying in a right-turn-only lane until the last second, trying to drive a car with an on-off switch throttle smoothly and evenly.

Another shortcoming (for regular people) rears up: this car is as stereotypically Italian as a swarthy man carrying a sack of garlic bulbs. There is very poor rear visibility and almost no side visibility. The automatic dimming mirrors are either stuck in “dim” or their surface is just too dark after Sunset in Southern California. I compensate the only way I can: changing lanes with the gas pedal. Instead of looking or signaling, I just floored it for 2 1/2 seconds then change lanes. This amused me to no end, although my sidekick looked ill the majority of the time. This worked quite well as I avoided wrecking it the entire 4 days we got to drive it. I did however pick up a toll violation somehow. (With their cameras, changing undecipherable lane markings, and ambiguous signage, it is almost impossible to figure out if you’re violating something in California.) The TURO owner sends me a bill for the violation a couple of weeks after we get back.

 Ghibli at McDonalds

Overall, the Ghibli is great fun. As a daily driver it would probably become tiresome. As a head-turner in Southern California it is a complete flop, but I imagine a Ferrari wouldn’t raise many eyebrows, either. Overall, I'd give it a C+.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

2017 Audi A4 preview

2017 A4

news-2017-audi-a4-l-14 The A4 has been the anchor of the Audi USA lineup since it replaced the Audi 80 in 1994. Moving furthermore upmarket, the A4 still uses the MLB architecture it shares with the A5-A8 and even the Porsche Macan. This architecture supports a longitudinal (versus transverse) mounted engine and front or all-wheel drive, separating it from the A3 which shares the MQB Volkswagen architecture with the Golf. The new A4 sits on a new chassis with a slightly longer wheelbase and overall length but 100 pounds lighter. Early reports of a very efficient 0.23 Cd coefficient of drag were exaggerated: the Cd is a still respectable 0.27. Perhaps the larger American license plate frame? The engine is an improved 2.0 turbo, the same 252-horsepower double overhead cam four-cylinder as the new A6. It is now linked exclusively to a seven-speed dual-clutch automated gearbox, also from the A6. Gone are the three different transmissions of the previous generation (8-speed automatic, 6-speed manual and CVT), meaning a three-pedal option is off the table. Quattro all-wheel drive is still available. Automatic engine start/stop is now part of the 2.0T and should improve city fuel mileage. Performance will increase substantially, because along with dragging 100 pounds less weight the A4 2.0T (presently the only variant) is up 32 horsepower, borrowing the A6's 252-horsepower 2.0 turbocharged 4-cylinder. With substantially larger brakes performance should be much better all around. Only the tires get smaller, but the lighter weight, longer wheelbase and wider track should compensate for it. Sadly, the turning diameter grows to a somewhat un-compact 38.1 feet, almost half a foot wider. On the technology front, the new A4 adds as standard a collision warning and automated braking system called "Audi pre sense® city." Pre sense basic, also standard includes electronically tightening front seatbelts and a system to close the windows, sunroof and move the driver and front passenger seats to a better position in the event an imminent collision is detected. If you dodge the bullet, everything returns to normal. (No, it doesn't present you with a pair of clean underwear; maybe next year.) Lane Departure Warning and Adaptive Cruise Control are offered as options on A4 Prestige. Both systems will actively help you stay in your lane using the electro-mechanical steering assist. Blind spot warning (Audi Side Assist) returns as an option, but with the added feature of pushing you back into your lane if something is in your way. A new top view camera system is standard on the A4 Prestige. The Parking System Plus now also includes front sonar sensors to complement the rear ones. A new SOS telematics system is now optional, which can call emergency services if it detects a collision or if you press a switch. Heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and ventilated front seats are newly available features for 2017. Overall the quality, look and feel of the materials on the new A4 is top-notch, and along with Audi's very significant gains in reliability measures it should be a reliable, long-lasting vehicle. Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 10.46.22 AM

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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