2019 BMW M850i xDrive Convertible Review


I’ve driven the BMW 8 Series three times, first as a prototype nearly a year ago, then again as a production car for a commute and a couple laps around our figure eight handling track a few weeks ago. Then I drove the new M850i convertible around southern Portugal on roads I’d never been on with lanes barely wide enough for the car. The narrow roads, the general lack of guardrails except in the deadliest spots, the jet lag, the 523 horsepower—none of it fazed me. That I should take it easy at first, feel out the car, didn’t even occur to me as I slid behind the wheel and dropped the top. Why would it? I have confidence in the 8 Series.

But wait. This is the convertible. BMW says it’s 258 pounds heavier at a portly 4,738 pounds, and a lot of that weight sits high on the chassis. More weight and a higher center of gravity have surely ruined the car, or at least made it less good, right? To that, I say: meh. That’s less than the weight of two passengers. You can’t feel that difference in a street car, even a light one. It might show up on the Vbox when we test this car in a few months, but it won’t be significant.

It doesn’t matter anyway. Even if the drop top handled a little less well than the coupe or was a little slower, it’d be the difference between super great and really great. Yes, the 8 Series is a large and heavy car, but it doesn’t drive like one. Credit whichever active system or combination of systems you like: rear steer, active anti-roll bars, active dampers, active differential, rear-biased all-wheel drive. The miracle of modern automotive technology is that with enough computers and actuators, you can make a car drive a size smaller. If not for its width, you’d say the 8 Series convertible drives like a 4 Series convertible.

So no, I didn’t think twice about knocking the shifter over to Sport and poking the mode buttons until the gauge reads “Sport Plus.” I didn’t worry it was too much car for the road or that a tag team of physics and horsepower would get me into trouble. I know the 8 Series has a ton of grip. I know that if a freak storm blows in and soaks the road, the 8 Series still has a ton of grip. I know the steering is tight and responsive, never forcing you to move your hands on the wheel outside a parking lot. I know that if a nun carrying a box of kittens wanders into the road, the car has the poise and the reflexes to safely avoid them. I know that if in the middle of that maneuver another nun spilled a bucket of oil in the road in front of me, the 8 Series drifts so beautifully even Jonny Lieberman can look like Ken Block with more beard—but only if you turn all the safety systems off, which no one should ever do on a public road.

By: Scott Evans, April 9, 2019

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WEC Drops Moveable Aero from 2020/21 Rules

WEC drops moveable aero from 2020/21 rules

The revisions, which include a 110kg increase in minimum weight, follow the decision last month to allow road-going hypercars to compete alongside the new breed of prototypes for outright honours in the WEC and the Le Mans 24 Hours round from September 2020. has learned that the rule makers, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and the FIA, have decided that it would be unworkable to try to incorporate what would in effect have been front and rear Drag Reduction Systems into the aerodynamics of road-based machinery such as the Aston Martin Valkyrie.

The move also reflects an increase in the laptime target for the next generation of WEC frontrunner from 3m24-25s to 3m30s at Le Mans.

A drive for a reduction in development costs was behind the introduction of moveable aerodynamics, which went hand in hand with a ban on more than one bodywork configuration for the prototypes.

Another key tenet of the original rulebook was a strict limitation on the aerodynamic performance of the prototypes.

It is understood that the concept of defining maximum downforce and minimum drag figures has been retained in the latest set of proposals, but the targets have been downscaled to accommodate less-efficient road car aerodynamics.

The minimum weight for all cars, whether pure-bred prototypes or road-based hypercars, is set to be 1150kg. That compares with the 1040kg figure in the regulations published last year and the 980kg minimum that was announced when the ACO and the FIA unveiled their vision for hypercar prototypes last June.

Efforts to balance hybrid and non-hybrid machinery are behind the planned re-introduction of the rule that prohibits the deployment of the front-axle hybrid system below 120km/h (75mph). This rule, which was in place for LMP1 in the WEC in 2012-13, is designed to mitigate the advantage of running four-wheel-drive.

The original hypercar prototype rules set out maximum power outputs from each car’s internal combustion engine and its hybrid system of 508kW (680bhp) and 200kW (270bhp) respectively.

The latest proposals lay down a new maximum of 610kW (820bhp), which combines the outputs from the conventional engine and the energy-retrieval system in the case of hybrids.

It also appears that that it is the intent of the rule makers to drop the fuel-flow limitations that have been at the heart of the current LMP1 category since 2014.

The latest proposals also outline minimum production figures for road-going hypercars. Twenty cars would have to be built within two years of the race version’s debut.

By: Gary Watkins, April 9, 2019

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2020 BMW 7 Series: Facelift Review


There’s this assumption—really more of a hope, if we’re being honest with ourselves—that at some point in our 20s we’ll discover who and what we’re meant to be. It’ll just click sooner or later, or at least, it had better. Wouldn’t want to be staring down the dreaded midlife crisis in our 40s.

Back in its 20s, the BMW 7 Series knew exactly what it was. Sleek, powerful, athletic, the 7 Series was confident. It was the Ultimate Driving Machine for the masters of the universe. James Bond drove one from the back seat, a highlight of an otherwise forgettable movie.

Now in its mid-40s, the 7 Series has lost confidence in itself, in its purpose. Significantly larger in every dimension, it’s packed on the pounds despite the carbon-fiber work it had done a few years back. Sure, it’s still a better runner than the old man from Stuttgart, but it’s not its younger self, either. The S-Class, though, knows exactly what it is: the standard against which luxury sedans are measured. But while S leads the way at Mercedes-Benz, 3 sets the course at BMW.

The 7 thus finds itself careening into a midlife crisis it never expected. Athletic and 3 Series-inspired though it may be, it’s not a sport sedan. BMW has made it abundantly clear that’s the mission of the upcoming 8 Series Gran Coupe just as it was for the preceding 6 Series Gran Coupe. It’s not the ultimate luxury sedan, either, riding too stiffly and offering a 3 Series-evoking interior to the S-Class’ tour de force. It’s not the ultimate technology showcase, either, not with the Audi A8 replacing every touch point with a touchscreen. The 7 tries to compete with both, or at least offer a middle ground, and ends up seemingly confused about what it wants to be.

Take it at its word as the ultimate driving luxury barge, and there are young upstarts still in their 20s and 30s trying to push the 7 aside. That A8 is no slouch in the corners, either, and Lexus modeled its latest LS on the 7 Series. Lexus did such a good job it doubled LS sales and outsold the 7 last year in the U.S. That’s not to mention the Lexus-following Genesis G90 or the plenty sporty Jaguar XJ.

By: Scott Evans, April 2, 2019

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The BAC Mono Is the Perfect Tool for Enjoying a Good Road


You could argue that the BAC Mono is the closest thing to a single-seat race car with a license plate. It’s one of the only single-seat road cars on sale today, and that makes it quite an interesting machine. And as Carfection’s Henry Catchpole found out, it’s the perfect car to take on Scotland’s epic North Coast 500.

Well, perfect so long as you don’t mind wearing a helmet, and are prepared to get extremely wet and cold.

Catchpole took the Mono to Scotland while his colleague, Drew Stearne, drove a Bentley Continental GT to show how the experience of driving the same road can vary wildly from one car to another. In the Mono, you really get to experience the road—all its camber, crests, dips, surfaces, and everything else. Your eyes will constantly be up, scanning to prepare for what’s next.

In the Bentley, life’s a little different. The Continental GT handles, so you can enjoy the twisty sections, but really, this is a car that encourages you to slow down and enjoy the scenery. Scotland is one of the world’s most beautiful countries, and there are far worse places to see it than from the massaging leather seat of a hand-made luxury cruiser.

The Mono and the Continental GT represent opposite extremes, but there’s enjoyment to be had from both cars. You’d be happy to drive a Continental GT from London to Inverness, and hop into something as uncompromising as the Mono once you get there. Or, try to find a car that splits the difference between the two—the Porsche 911 Turbo and McLaren’s upcoming new GT car come to mind…

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By: Chris Perkins, April 3, 2019

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A Better Look at McLaren’s New GT Supercar


Remember we brought you the new of McLaren’s new supercar? No, not the 250mph slippery one, nor the one made out of Lego. The other new McLaren. The grand-touring one.

Well, here it is. Almost. The armour-plating that hides the new car’s shape has gone, but camouflage wrap still conceals the details.

What we can see is that there are enormous air intakes directing a draught to a V8 that lies behind the seats. Seats numbering two – there’s not a three-seat Speedtail layout. But we are promised a more luxurious-than-usual cabin. And enough room in the boot for skis.

The exhausts exit lower down the body than the 720S, so the diffuser is smaller. Downforce is second to refinement on the priority list here. You can find out more about McLaren’s pitch for the newcomer (minus the tedious NewRules marketing tosh) by tapping on these blue words.

We’ll see the finished car early this summer. Will you be holding fire on your Aston Martin DB11 AMR purchase? Or are we at V8 McLaren supercar saturation point?

By: Ollie Kew, April 3 2019

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The Ferrari P80/C Is a Track-Only Homage to 1960s Prototypes



Ferrari says that its latest one-off, the P80/C, took almost four years to develop, making this their longest special project to date. The work began in 2015, and for a client in love with the Ferrari prototypes of the 1960s, the base car had to be a 488 GT3.

The GT3 race car has a 2-inch longer wheelbase than a 488 GTB, which allowed for a more cab-forward design with a longer rear end. The tinted wraparound windscreen is straight off a racing helmet, while the shaved off highlights give the P80/C superior aerodynamic performance. As you would expect from a track weapon, the area under the massive rear wing is mostly exposed, in true prototype fashion.

Inspired by the likes of the 330 P3 and P4, the 350 Can Am, the Dino 206 SP and the stunning 250 LM, the P80/C was made entirely from carbon-fiber, finished in Rosso Vero, which is a bright red named by the client Ferrari refers to as “TK”. As you can probably tell, the P80/C was designed by Flavio Manzoni to be the brand’s ultimate modern prototype. So forget the FXX K Evo or the Monza SP1, and say hi to Ferrari’s fastest one-off yet.

By: Mate Petrany, March 25, 2019

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Say Hello to the “Pearl of the Gulf” Bentley Bentayga


Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce, McLaren, Ferrari… and Bentley. All of them have special departments catering exclusively to the world’s super rich. If Sir or Madam would like something fitted to their car that isn’t on the options list, or for their car to be painted in a special colour, it’s these departments that handle the work. And charge handsomely for their time, naturally.

Bentley’s is called Mulliner, and this is its latest creation – a Bentayga five-off inspired by “the Arabian Gulf’s rich pearl diving heritage”. The Bentayga “Mulliner Pearl of the Gulf” W12 features white paint, a leather interior trimmed in “Brunel” and “Linen” hides and a Breitling clock with a mother-of-pearl dial. Contrast gold stitching and thick lambswool rugs complete the look.

The big thing, though, is a secure lockbox hidden in the centre console, complete with a fingerprint scanner. Bentley says the cubby is the “ideal place to stow valuables while at the beach or utilising valet parking services”. Right.

Mechanically, this is a regular W12-engined Bentayga – meaning 600bhp and 663lb ft from 12-cylinders and 6.0-litres, enabling an indecent 0-62mph of four seconds flat and a top speed of 187mph. Cost? If you have to ask…

By: Tom Harrison, March 20, 2019

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2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe First Look: Porsche Joins the Party



Argue over the semantics if you will, but four-door coupes are a thing. So, too, are four-door coupe SUVs. BMW offers the X6, X4, and X2; Mercedes-Benz has its GLE and GLC Coupes. Audi‘s flagship Q8 flirts with the format, as does the forthcoming electric-powered E-Tron Sportback. And now here’s Porsche arriving fashionably late to the party with the 2020 Cayenne Coupe, scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. this fall.

Porsche’s tardiness might seem surprising, given the company prides itself on building sport utility vehicles that are sportier than most. But the bean counters at Zuffenhausen dictated the Coupe variant had to wait until the development of the third-generation Cayenne, when the cost of unique panels and other hardware could be factored into the financials of the whole program.

And Porsche is expecting a big return on the investment: Insiders say the Coupe could account for up to 30 percent of global Cayenne volume. Although they acknowledge some cannibalization of existing Cayenne sales is inevitable, they also anticipate poaching a significant number of customers from BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

The Cayenne Coupe shares its basic structure and mechanical hardware with the regular Cayenne. Two versions of the Coupe will be available at launch: the entry-level model powered by the 335-hp, 332-lb-ft single turbo V-6; and the Cayenne Turbo Coupe, which has a 541-hp, 567-lb-ft variant of Porsche’s versatile 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 under the hood. The V-6 Coupe will start at $76,550, the Turbo Coupe at $131,350 (including $1,250 destination). That’s $9,600 and $5,500 more, respectively, than Porsche currently charges for its corresponding regular Cayennes, though that gap will likely narrow once pricing for the 2020 regular models is announced.

What does the extra money buy you? In terms of performance, nothing. Porsche claims the V-6 Coupe will hit 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and has a top speed of 151 mph, while the Turbo Coupe is good for a 0-60 mph time of 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 178 mph. In other words, they’re no quicker than regular Cayennes. What you’re paying for is a restyled Cayenne with some extra goodies. Both models come standard with Porsche’s Sport Chrono Package and a panorama sunroof, for example. The V-6 Coupe rolls on steel springs with PASM-controlled shocks and sports 20-inch wheels, while the Turbo Coupe comes with air suspension and 21-inch alloys; it also gets Porsche’s PSCB surface-coated brake package with its signature white calipers.

In terms of sheetmetal, the Coupe shares only its hood, front fenders, front door skins, and lights with the regular Cayenne. The A-pillars have been angled further back to deliver a faster windshield angle—the windshield itself is shallower—and the roofline has been lowered 0.8 inches. The cant rails arc gracefully rearward into 0.7-inch-wider rear quarter panels to create what design chief Michael Mauer calls the Porsche ‘flyline,’ providing the framing for a greenhouse graphic that overtly echoes that of the iconic 911. The rear backlight is steeply raked; the large rear hatch incorporates a fixed spoiler at its top edge and an active spoiler that nestles in the vestigial rump at the lower edge of the rear window. This lower spoiler deploys 5.3 inches into the airflow at speeds above 56 mph to improve stability.

The interior is virtually identical to that of the current Cayenne, which is no bad thing given its well-executed mix of technology, materials, and colorways. The Coupe comes standard in four-passenger trim, with two pseudo-bucket seats separated by a cubby and a large fold-down armrest. (A regular bench is available as a no-cost option.) The rear seat is mounted 1.2 inches lower than in the regular Cayenne to provide more headroom. This means 6-footers will fit, but the setup means the Coupe’s rear seat doesn’t slide fore/aft as it does in the regular Cayenne, as there’s no room for the mechanism underneath. The backrest can still be reclined, though.

The decision to make the panoramic glass roof standard on the Cayenne Coupe is more than just an amenity. Its dark coloring artfully disguises the fact the roofline doesn’t sweep down from the B-pillar as dramatically as the greenhouse suggests it does. Similarly, the carbon-fiber roof (part of the optional Lightweight Sports package) is left clear-coated, the side benefit of which, of course, is you can show your buddies what you spent the extra money on. The package saves about 48 pounds, most of it in the roof. It also includes weight-reduced 22-inch wheels; different side skirts, wheel-arch trim, exhausts, and front vent graphics; and sporty checked cloth seat inserts.

If you fervently believe form should follow function, the very idea of a four-door coupe SUV will make your head explode. However, as GM’s Alfred Sloan figured out almost 100 years ago, the secret to success in the auto business isn’t dictating to customers what they should drive, but creating something they want to drive. Porsche knows the 911 gets the glory, but it’s the Cayenne that makes the money. In that context, making a Cayenne look—squint hard—a little more like a 911 probably makes good business sense.

By: Angus MacKenzie, March 21, 2020

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Porsche to Restart 911 GT2 RS Production After Cargo Ship Sinks With Cars On Board


porsche 911 gt2 rs cargo ship sinking

A nightmare scenario has unfolded for several owners of the ultra-exclusive Porsche 911 GT2 RS after a cargo ship carrying their cars from the factory in Germany caught fire and sank off the coast of France last weekend, dooming the performance masterpieces to a watery grave. Now CarScoops reports Porsche will be restarting production of the GT2 RS, part of the previous 911 generation, to make the affected owners whole.

UPDATE: Porsche has confirmed to The Drive that four 911 GT2 RS models were aboard the Grande America, destined for buyers in Brazil, along with 33 other unspecified Porsches. The automaker also confirmed its plans to revive production of the car to remake those cars to the original order specifications. The full statement is below.

“Porsche Brasil confirms that 37 of its new cars, in route from Hamburg, Germany, to Santos, Brazil, were aboard the vessel Grande America that suffered a maritime incident near the coast of Brest, France, on March 12, 2019. Among the fleet were four 911 GT2RS units. In a special decision and to uphold its commitment to its valued Brazilian customers, Porsche has ensured that those units will be reproduced in the order in which they were originally confirmed.”


The already-rough year for car carriers on the high seas got even worse on March 12 when a fire broke out in a shipping container aboard the Italian-flagged Grande America, which was bringing around 2,000 brand-new Audis, a number of Porsche 911 GT2 RSs, and non-vehicular cargo to Brazil. Flames quickly overtook the ship, which began to list before capsizing and sinking a day later about 200 miles off the French Atlantic coast in 15,000 feet of water.

Fortunately, the BBC reports that all 27 mariners were rescued without incident. The same can’t be said for those $300,000 Porsches. It’s almost painful to look at pictures of the doomed ship, knowing that somewhere on board, the GT2 RS’s 700-horsepower twin-turbo flat-six engine is submitting to a silent death, never to scream down the Nurburgring en route to a lap record again.The GT2 RS stands as the ultimate expression of the 991 generation of 911, which wrapped up last year, and production of the GT2 RS itself finally wound down in February.

So does that mean these owners are straight out of luck? Typically, reviving an out-of-production car is next to impossible, given all the suppliers, factory lines, and product planning involved. But CarScoops obtained a letter from Porsche to one of the affected GT2 RS owners in Brazil that says the automaker will resume making the car next month to give them their rightful cars. It probably helps that these aren’t mass-market models.

“As you may know, Porsche ended the 991 GT2 RS production on February 2019 and under normal circumstances, it wouldn’t be possible to give you another car,” the letter reads in Portuguese. “But, due to the nature of the situation, and  considering that you’re a loyal and highly valuable customer for our brand, Porsche has decided to resume the GT2 RS production in Germany, and your vehicle will be produced in April, with delivery scheduled for June.”

Historically, would-be owners of Porsche’s exclusive 911 GT cars have had to endure a minefield of long waitlists, exorbitant markups, and the occasional international criminal conspiracy to get their hands on Weissach’s fastest and finest. It looked as though we’d be adding shipwrecks to that list—not this time.

By: Kyle Cheromcha, March 19, 2019

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WEC Bullish Rules Change Will Attract Extra Manufacturer


WEC bullish rules change will attract extra manufacturer

In a press conference held ahead of Friday’s Sebring 1000 miles, series promoter the Automobile Club de l’Ouest stated that the 2020/21 hypercar category has been opened up to cars such as the Aston Martin Valkyrie and the McLaren Senna because of genuine interest from major car makers.

Asked if the ACO expected real hypercars to be on the grid at the start of the 2020/21 season in 18 months’ time, sporting director Vincent Beaumesnil said: “Of course, otherwise we would not do it.”

He added: “If we are sticking to September 2020 [for the start of the new category], it is because we know some people will be ready to join us.

“We have expanded the regulations, because they were too restrictive.”

The ACO, which jointly writes the rules with the FIA, has not been drawn on which manufacturers might be on the grid next autumn, but it has confirmed that the three car makers who re-opened the debate on the regulations were Aston, McLaren and Ferrari.

Aston appears the most likely of those three to enter the top division of the WEC with a hypercar, while Toyota has stated that it could race a road-based car rather than a prototype.

WEC boss Gerard Neveu said that interest in the 2020/21 rules had increased since the announcement at the beginning of March that road-based machinery would be permitted.

“Last week at Geneva around the motor show there were a lot of meetings with top representatives of car companies,” he explained.

“The fact that we have opened this new possibility has brought new manufacturers around the table — there were some very productive discussions.”

It was also revealed that it is likely that non-hybrid prototypes will be allowed when the new rules come into force, whereas originally they stipulated a front energy-retrieval system for all cars.

This is in line with the decision not to mandate hybrid systems for road hypercars.

Beaumesnil said: “We are in the middle of [deciding] this, but it is the intention.”

The ACO has confirmed that Balance of Performance will be used to equate road-based hypercars with purposed-designed hypercar concept prototypes.

“We leave open the option to run a hybrid or not, so if you have this and the fact that you can start from a road car or a prototype, you will have to balance the performance,” said Beaumesnil.

He stressed that the experience of the ACO and the FIA in balancing cars in the GTE classes would stand it in good stead, though he stressed that work on a BoP system for the new top class was still ongoing.

The introduction of BoP will also help to control costs, said Beaumesnil.

“It will guarantee that the budgets are controlled, because you will not need any more to spend the millions to pick up the last tenth of a second,” he said.

“It will be beneficial in terms of facilitating the decisions of manufacturers to jump in because there is a guarantee that the budgets will be controlled.”

The target race laptime at the Le Mans 24 Hours on the introduction of the new rules is now 3m30s rather than the previous 3m24s/25s.

This will also require LMP2 machinery to be slowed by five or six seconds a lap to maintain a distinction between the classes, the ACO clarified.

By: Gary Watkins, March 15, 2019

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