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The ultra rare hypercar, Aspark Owl, at Supercar Saturday Florida
Car CultureNews

All-electric Japanese hypercar steals the show at Supercar Saturday Florida

While most of the world is still thawing out from the tail end of winter, car show season is already hot and heavy in south Florida, and that means it’s time for Supercar Saturday, an all-inclusive and free car show hosted on the second Saturday of every month at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Each month features an insane variety of supercars, trucks, modified whips, imports, motorcycles, and classic cars, but this show we saw something extra special: an Aspark Owl.

What is the Aspark Owl?

If you’ve never heard of the Aspark Owl, you certainly aren’t alone. In years of traveling and attending events, this rare hypercar is one of the only exotic vehicles I have yet to see in real life—and seeing it in person for the first time did not disappoint.

Aspark currently produces one of the world’s most expensive full EV hypercar, called the Owl. (Hint: It does kind of look like an owl). The Osaka-based company has only produced a limited number of this exotic vehicle, but with its distinct body lines and unusual appearance, you won’t have a problem spotting it in a crowd, even among the most extravagant sports cars in the world.

It’s no slouch in performance either, as the Aspark Owl is propelled by an insane 1,980 horsepower from an electric-only drivetrain with a reported top speed of 256mph and a nauseating 0-60 mph time of just 1.72 seconds which firmly cements its place as a legitimate hypercar.

Other epic supercars spotted

While the Aspark Owl sighting crossed off an item on my bucket list, we can’t forget about the other dozens of amazing supercars that took over the show. My personal favorites included the Lamborghini Huracan STO, which, in my opinion, is one of the best-looking modern Lamborghinis to date, super SUVs like the Lamborghini Urus and Aston Martin DBX, and both the first- and second-generation Ford GT.

Despite the intimidating name, Supercar Saturday has a bit of something for everyone. Classic Corvettes, modified sports cars, lifted and heavily customized trucks, and a handful of JDM imports filled up various sections of the parking lot, with over 100 cars to see and plenty of vendors to enjoy.

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Maserati Ice Drifting
EventsFeaturesNew Car Reviews

Ice-drifting the last Ferrari V8-powered Maseratis is one way to say goodbye

Next year marks a big step in the tale of Maserati, as the last batch of V8 engines in the Italian marque’s long history will finally roll off the assembly lines at Modena and Turino. That story runs the gamut from early open-wheeled racecars in the 1930s to modern twin-turbocharged V8 mills built by Ferrari and then dropped into uber-opulent tourers, including the full-size Levante SUV. To celebrate such V8 heritage, Mas decided to run out a pair of final-edition packages for the 2024 Maserati Levante and Maserati Ghibli, dubbed the “Ultima” and “334 Ultima,” respectively. 

But as something of a (much more) surprising send-off, Maserati then invited media to Northern Italy, in the middle of winter, up to a ski resort, at over 6,900 feet of elevation, to take these final V8 cars ice drifting on a snowy racetrack. Unusual and unexpected, to say the least, but an opportunity I obviously could never pass up. And that’s how I wound up spending 17 hours flying to Milan, then another three hours driving further into the picturesque Alps, surrounded by stunning cliff faces shrouded in low clouds and dotted with terraced vineyards or marble quarries, up past Lake Como, through the low valleys, and into the small ski town of Bormio near the Swiss border. 

Maserati Ice Drifting
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

When past and present meet in Maserati showrooms

This trip actually presented my first opportunity to drive the outgoing Maserati lineup since most of the company’s many press events over the last couple of years since pandemic travel restrictions lifted fittingly focused on the three forthcoming models that aim to transition Maserati towards larger scale production and a wider customer base. The process started in eye-popping form with the eye-catching MC20 supercar, a stone-cold stunner equipped with a raucous Nettuno twin-turbo V6 engine featuring pre-chamber combustion tech borrowed from F1 racecars. 

The turbo whooshes and hardtop convertible of the Cielo trim make the MC20 my second favorite supercar on the market today—sorry, nothing beats the Lamborghini Huracán Sterrato for outright absurd fun—but enforced scarcity means that infinitely more potential consumers will undoubtedly envision the new Maserati Grecale crossover as a possible entry point to Maserati as a brand. Aimed squarely at Porsche’s Macan and Cayenne, the Grecale also gets a Nettuno engine option, though with a dialed-back ECU tune, as well as a mild hybrid system and an eventual all-electric version.

Last but not least, Maserati also re-booted the GranTurismo this year with a more contemporary exterior that borrows cues from the MC20 and—you guessed it—a pair of detuned Nettuno engine options plus an upcoming all-electric Folgore trim. The GT’s full packaging leans more toward sporty than the traditionally soft grand touring cars that inspired its name, but with all-wheel drive and a low-slung chassis, it manages to nail that middle ground nicely nonetheless. 

The three new models will overlap with the outgoing Levante, Ghibli, and Quattroporte for 2024, so I arrived in Bormio very curious to experience how the older cars perform. Imagine a customer walking into the showroom and getting to test drive all six side-by-side. Does the new-new, packed with tech and a lighter turbo V6 engine, take the cake? Or maybe the staid, refined spirit of Maserati’s more historical feel paired with the 3.8-liter Ferrari V8? At this turning point throughout the automotive industry, somehow, past and present paired up side by side most perfectly at Maserati.

For the drive up to Livigno, another ski town with an ice track nestled even nearer to the Swiss border, Maserati tossed me into the Ghibli 334 Ultima, which adds lighter wheels and a carbon fiber aero package to that 572-horsepower Ferrari V8 to produce the fastest sedan in history. The 334 refers to a top speed of 334 kilometers per hour—or 207.5 miles per hour—made possible by additional downforce, less drag, and new tires developed specifically for this application.

I never hit anywhere near that top speed, thanks largely to wet and cold roads that dictated care while navigating hairpins, in addition to true Pirelli winter tires on 21-inch wheels rather than the as-yet-secret special tires. Over tall passes, roaring through tunnels with openings exposed to the elements, the climbs and descents reminded me of scenes straight out of the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia. Unfortunately, the Stelvio Pass nearby—scene of so many epic cycling battles, not to mention James Bond tomfoolery—was already closed due to the winter snow.

Maserati Ice Drifting
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

But on those wet roads, with ice and snow packed up around six inches in turnouts, so many tight hairpins never stressed the 334. Low-end torque from the V8 never caused a moment of slip-and-slide, despite wheeling a long four-door with a curb weight of nearly 4,300 pounds around the bends. Of course, I kept traction control and electronic stability control fully activated, but I also never noticed any intrusions from the electronic nannies. Unbeknownst to me at the time, TC and ESC would wind up becoming a big focus of the rest of the day.

Three old Maseratis walk into a ski bar

I pulled the 334 into a snowy parking lot just off the main road through Livigno as cross-country skiers huffed and puffed along a track to the left and alpine riders ripped around the tree line, maybe 600 vertical feet above us. Maserati’s safety team gave us a quick briefing on what to expect for the day, and then we hopped into a Ghibli for a couple of sighting laps with a test driver. He played a bit between drifting and taking time to demonstrate all the settings for drive modes, TC, ESC, and paddle shifting—then, again, to the amazement of all, simply pointed to our cars and sent us out onto the ice. No helmets, nobody in the passenger seat to rein in any potential shenanigans, just lap after lap of ice-drifting fun.

Earlier this year, I spent a day on the ice with the Polestar 2 Arctic Circle edition at Circuit Mecaglisse in Canada but immediately recognized the folly of comparing a fully electric Swedish concept car to a bunch of opulent V8-powered Italian grand tourers. So I spent my first two laps with ESC fully on, aware of my own penchant for spinning cars and getting stuck in snow. I felt out the winter tires—Maserati installed winter Pirellis on the Ghibli and Quattroporte but Continentals on the Levante—with all the electronics holding me back, could easily floor the throttle without coming anywhere near losing grip. And this is in a heavy, powerful, rear-wheel-drive sedan, remember?

I turned ESC fully off. In the first lap, my own inhibitions allowed me to only ease into a couple of slides. But confidence builds quickly, perhaps too quickly—this is a heavy, powerful, rear-wheel-drive sedan, remember. I kept the transmission in auto mode and the drive mode in Normal, thinking the softest suspension would best keep me from upsetting the car’s balance. 

But even in Normal, I felt the surging boost of that Ferrari V8 building, pulsing through the rear tires, and by the tightest turn of my second ESC-free lap at the far end of the track, I spun out pretty good. Happily, my ego suspects nobody noticed because I recovered quickly and kept working through the rest of the course, slaloming between understeer and then stabbing into oversteer with a quick hit of the throttle, big V8 easily setting the rear tires loose until the turbos spooled up to keep them spinning for a second or two even after I lifted.

Maserati Ice Drifting
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

After a few laps, I settled into a zone of progressively wider slides, trusting the front wheels to retain a bit of grip in mild countersteer while the tail end pushed us into and then out of the drifts. On level ground or coming up over a rise, especially, the Ghibli managed easy rally-style transitions between short S-curves, then happily bent akimbo through a final wide rip into the pits. 

I handed off driving duties to a fellow journalist and, grinning ear to ear, walked over to chat with Maserati Senior Global Product Planner Victor Eumenidi. A huge Alfa Romeo nerd, Eumenidi admitted at dinner the night before that he’s hunting to find his dream car, a high-mileage SZ, probably out of Japan. On the ice track, he immediately asked with a sly smile whether I preferred the twin-turbo Ferrari V8 or an electric Polestar. I shook my head with a grin and asked why we were even here, playing in the snow, way farther out in left field compared to an all-wheel-drive Swedish commuter car.

“It’s fun,” he laughs. “And for us, it seemed like a great way to have fun with these cars. To celebrate the V8 engine and also to prove that, even if they are rear-wheel-drive cars, not only the Ghibli but also the Quattroporte, there is a lot of fun driving this car in the winter, in the snow, on the ice.”

Maserati Ice Drifting
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Swapping through the Maserati lineup

With media on hand alternating between driving the Levante Ultima and Ghibli 334 Ultima on asphalt, I then received a new GranTurismo in top-spec Trofeo trim to take out on the track. And here, the decision-making seemed clear since the Trofeo pairs all-wheel drive with that Nettuno V6 now putting out 542 horsepower in a low-slung chassis. Surely, the better car for this day, right?

And yet, even after forcing myself to take another test lap with ESC on, I found the GT much harder to set into a happy flow. In this case, maybe more grip required too much more speed—not necessarily ideal for tight, technical twists on increasingly chopped-up ice—but the Nettuno engine also requires more revs to spool up into torque and set the tires spinning. 

By the time I gained the confidence to hit the sheer velocity that could break through the chassis’ inherent grip, the transition from understeer to oversteer hit much more quickly, leaving me little room for error. 

To be fair, I never spun the GT, even through the tightest corner that caught one Ghibli driver who needed six guys to push out from deep snow in the runoff zone. But my pace got faster and faster as a bit more tail slide entered the chat, so I also ended up waiting behind other drivers enjoying much more opposite lock in the RWD cars. Turns out, lap times aren’t necessarily best for racking up smiles per hour.

I pulled back into the pits with the GT and subbed into a Maserati Quattroporte executive sedan. Longer and about one hundred pounds heavier than the Ghibli, so still quite similar, the Quattroporte seemed to be the favorite of another journalist friend from duPont Registry who’d already been absolutely crushing the widest, fast drifts of the group. (He’d just spent four hours on a wet skid pad at BMW Test Fest, turns out, honing those sidewayz skillz in an M2.)

Following his lead, I threw the Quattroporte into Sport mode, which noticeably opened up the engine response and firmed up the suspension to somewhere between the soft Ghibli and the firm, almost harsh GranTurismo. Immediately, I discovered a new level of flow in the bigger sedan as the weight and power combined to create a sense of composure that kept me right on the edge of losing control.

Very impressive, I told Eumenidi when I returned to the pits. And he agreed, especially in contrast to his favorite car for ice-driving, the GranTurismo.

“Honestly, I love the Quattroporte,” he admitted. “A big rear-wheel-drive sedan for sure, but to me, in terms of handling, I found the car very easy. And for sure, the new GranTurismo, it’s a different thing, it’s way more easy to use, practical, and with rear-wheel drive, drives much faster in the snow.”

Maserati Ice Drifting
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Lastly, Maserati gave everyone a final romp out on the ice in the Levante Ultima—with the caution to please be extra, extra careful because it’s the only one built so far. I went last after keeping an eye on how everyone (especially duPont over there, still crushing it) handled the larger, taller SUV weighing over 5,000 pounds. Behind the wheel, I decided to risk Corsa mode to prioritize the all-wheel-drive system’s rear bias, but even still, the Levante’s additional suspension travel made for a much smoother ride than all the other cars.

The softer ride helped me work with nose and tail weight distribution, gobbling up the by-now-shredded track. Corsa also opened up the Ferrari engine’s exhaust valving and automatically set me into manual shift mode. With my ears more easily able to keep track of revs without glancing down at the tach and nearly redlining repeatedly, I sent the Levante through each turn almost perfectly, hammering throttle this time but only feathering steering input, trusting the fronts to gently pull us through with less countersteer until a hint of Scandinavian flick opened up the rears again into the next corner. After only a couple of laps, I sent it too hard into my final bend and spun a nice 180 like a full-on Hoonigan. 

Maserati Ice Drifting
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Box box box, apparently. Tempted to act like I couldn’t get back into the pits without another lap, I cranked the steering wheel and floored it, spinning the Ultima through another tight 180 like the best rally driver on the planet, then slow cruised into the pits. Nobody cheered, but rest assured, the crowd in my head kept the applause roaring for at least a few minutes.

I told Eumenidi that I enjoyed the Levante Ultima most and wondered whether inherent chassis similarities to the trucks, SUVs, and side-by-sides I take out for hardcore desert ripping produced a more familiar comfort zone. Of course, none of those have yet sported a 572-horsepower twin-turbo Ferrari V8—but a guy can dream, right?

Surprisingly nice, if undoubtedly dated, Maserati finales

I also took the Levante Ultima out for a quick rip on asphalt, where 99.9% of the potential total of 206 customers will spend their time. With far more grip, the low-end boost of that powerplant hooks up to render speed limits absolutely irrelevant—even on wet roads as the afternoon sun peeked through to melt more snow. Here, the traction control and ESC undoubtedly helped, though selecting Sport mode allowed for a bit more fun than Normal in the Levante 334 earlier in the day.

By the time we drove back to Bormio for a dinner of pasta and cured meats, I could confirm that these three outgoing Maseratis were surprisingly nice cars. Sure, the interior feels a little dated compared to the rest of the industry—not to mention the techy, minimalist designs of the MC20, Grecale, and GranTurismo—but the special two-tone leather treatment and all the carbon-fiber trim on the Ultima and 334 help to enhance the old-world luxury spirit. And wireless Apple CarPlay worked perfectly the whole time, even allowing me to pair it with the car moving each time I got in a new vehicle.

My mind still balks at the pricing for the Ultima and 334—which should be a serious step above even a “standard” Ghibli Trofeo for $125,195 or a Levante Trofeo at $168,495. But the limited production numbers and the final Ferrari V8 will likely serve as highlights to attract collectors, even if Eumenidi wanted to talk more about Maserati’s long history than Ferrari’s specific contribution.

Looking to tomorrow’s EVs while honoring yesteryear’s V8s

“Let’s not talk about the Ferrari V8,” he admonished me, “But the V8, in general, they were a big thing in Maserati history with more than a hundred thousand cars produced. And today we are celebrating these engines, so not only the latest Ferrari V8 but also the previous ones, all the V8 legacy of Maserati.”

Maserati Ice Drifting
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Longtime Maserati fans and newcomers to the brand alike might miss the V8 option after 2024, despite the obvious benefits of the Nettuno V6 and four-cylinder variants. But I left Italy wondering how the forthcoming Folgore electrics might have handled our day in the snow. Weight gains could be either a pro or a con, I suspect since I did find the heavier Quattroporte and Levante easiest to slide around the track. The optimal weight distribution of Maserati’s “dogbone” style EV powertrain installation will probably highlight the instantaneous torque of electric motors to make popping the rear tires loose as easy as I found on the Polestar—whether Maserati decides to program in a rear-biased drift mode, or something near to rear-only, will come into play big time since EVs can never turn ESC fully off.

That day at Mecaglisse in the Polestar 2 Arctic Circle provided plenty of thrills, without a doubt, and only a couple of spins despite studded tires. But, probably to the surprise of absolutely nobody, I enjoyed the days spent ice-drifting on an unexpected trip to the southern Alps in a handful of internal-combustion Maseratis so much more. Hopefully, the buyers who leap at this last chance to snap up a Ferrari V8-powered grand tourer will trust their tires and traction control settings enough to do so, as well.

Maserati Ice Drifting
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

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LA Auto Show Corvette E-Ray
EventsFeaturesHot Takes

These were our favorite cars from the 2023 LA Auto Show

Let’s preface this by saying: No, this is not a news beat. No, this is not a grand compilation of every little reveal and every hunk of metal on display at the LA Auto Show. Take this as a more personal and me-engaging-the-audience-type feature where I, editor-in-chief and supreme (assistant) overlord to the site, and Gabe, founder and supreme supreme overlord, share our top cars from this year’s gathering.

Whether it be a new release, a kinda-sorta new car that may be making its first in-person appearance, or perhaps something that’s not new at all, these are our personal standouts in attendance that truly scratched my automotive itch. And hopefully, it scratches yours, too.

Ahem. And, if you’d like, please feel free to check out coverage of cars from this year’s auto show on our TikTok and Instagram

Skip to car:

Gabe: 2025 Lucid Gravity

@acceleramota The 2025 Lucid Gravity is a luxurious 3-row SUV from the chief engineer behind the original Tesla Model S and the designer of the Miata ND. Would you buy one over a Model X? #auto #lucid #tesla #carlifestyle #teslamodely #suv #electricvehicle #electriccars #luxury #truck #lucidgravity #teslas #newcars #lucidair #luxurycar ♬ original sound – acceleramota

In a market already saturated with three-row luxury SUVs, a lesser-known brand introducing its own would surely have its work cut out for it. Lucid Motors is a prime example. In the third quarter of 2023, Lucid lost $430,000 for every car it sold, according to InsideEVs. Four hundred and thirty thousand dollars

By no means is that indicative of Lucid’s standards, though, as its first EV – the Lucid Air – was met by reviewers with mostly positive marks. Everyone I’ve known who’s driven a Lucid Air came away a fan as well. In fact, when we offered test drives at one of our car and coffee meets in New York earlier this year, one of the most stubborn anti-EV people I know came away a fan. The premium interiors, consistent build quality, and aversion to oversimplification-for-the-sake-of-it distinguishes Lucid from its main competitor, Tesla, with which it shares common DNA.
Judging by its roughly identical $80,000 starting price, the Lucid Gravity is poised to compete with Tesla’s Model X – you know, the midsize family SUV with the dancing falcon wing doors. But unlike the Model X, the Gravity brings more cargo space, the option of a third row, and an estimated 440 miles of range, nearly 100 miles more than that of the Model X. For some reason it also has 880 horsepower, because in competing with the alarmingly quick Hummer EV, it’s not an electric SUV if it can’t push 0-60 in 3.5 seconds. The only obvious downside is that, at least according to our new best friend, it does have more than one button for the center stack, and the luxe woodgrain finish is an acquired taste, allegedly.

Jeric: 2025 Lotus Eletre

Did anyone forget about this thing? I surely did, even after much press and controversy that one of the most legendary sports and race car manufacturers is now making (gasp) an electric SUV! What has the world come to? But the Lotus Eletre certainly makes a compelling case for itself that should help give it the Cayenne complex it needs for Lotus to keep building Emiras. 

How does 603 to 905 horsepower and 310 to 373 miles of range from its 112-kWh battery and dual-motor all-wheel drive setup sound? Overkill? Sure, but a Lotus must perform, and if it can’t simplify and add lightness, then power is one way to sweeten the deal. Interior is wonderfully posh. The rear cargo area is cavernous. The exterior styling is interesting, although seeing it in person does it far more justice than any photo. Designed in the UK, engineered in Germany, and assembled by Geely in China, the Eletre also signals a remarkable international effort for the hallowed English brand. And while its occupation as an electric SUV for eclectic rich folks may sour some peoples’ opinions, its strides to be a financial success could be what the brand needs to send its last wave of gas sports cars out with a bang instead of a whisper.

Jeric: Honda Prelude Concept

The legend returns! Except, not really, because this is a Honda Prelude, and the Acura Legend is still dead as a doorknob. Unless you count the Acura RLX as its successor? Anyway, the Honda Prelude returns rocking a swagtastic new look evocative of the Honda Insight face meets Honda Accord tail affixed to a last-gen Honda Civic Coupe body. And for the first time in years, Honda may actually have another spunky, fast two-door sports coupe in their fleet since the S2000. No, Si owners, I said fast.

Being a concept, we know next to nothing about the forthcoming Prelude or if it’s even coming. But This model seems fairly production-ready, aside from eye-catching carbon accents and a carbon roof that’d definitely launch its price tag into oblivion. But the upscale wheel design wrapped in Continental SportContact 6 tires sheathing Brembo brakes and the familiar Civic Coupe profile scream production-ready. Perhaps most importantly, despite much speculation that it could be an EV, the new Prelude Concept is actually slated to be a hybrid. If I were to place my bets, the base variants might likely use the Accord hybrid or an electrified Civic Si motor, but top-shelf models could use an electrified variant of the K20 turbo-four from the Civic Type R and Integra Type S, probably pushing between 350 to 400 horsepower.

Just a guess. A fanboy can dream.

Jeric: 2025 Toyota Camry

10 years ago, the Toyota Camry was plain as can be. Even in its day, the top-shelf SE or XLE trims did little to incite lust in those it drove by. It was a fine car, and it did its intended job great! But so does white bread. However, the new 2025 Toyota Camry is a Camry masquerading as a Lexus, and it’s got the goods to match. Never thought I’d ever say this about a front-drive, hybrid family sedan, but I am hot and bothered. And you will be, too, after a few pictures. 

Look at it! I said look at it, you! Does that not scream upscale? The long, sleek bodywork combined with that statement of a grille, Prius-like headlights, and some fairly attractive wheel designs make for one heck of a looker, especially in the sportier SE and XSE forms. The interior remains simple yet usable, resembling an evolution of the previous-gen Camry but tweaked to better suit Toyota’s current design language of wide, high-mounted touchscreens and expansive, button-centric center consoles. Specs? Pretty darn good. And that’s the best you can say about a Camry. A hybrid powertrain pushing 225 horsepower and available all-wheel drive (which bumps power to 232), sure to match the old car’s 44 to 50-plus mpg, is a compelling buy.

Jeric & Gabe: 2024 Acura ZDX

Born from the unlikely partnership between GM and Acura, the new-generation 2024 Acura ZDX ditches its forbearer’s heinous Star Wars cargo freighter looks for a sleek, concept-car-like caricature of the Acura MDX SUV. Wide, low, and unapologetically bold without offending those with working eyeballs. This is actually quite the attractive centerpiece of Acura’s booth. And most interesting of all, it’s a full EV riding on GM’s Ultium platform, the same platform underpinning the Blazer EV and Silverado EV.

Much like the Prelude, not much is known about the nitty-gritty details of the ZDX, but Acura insists we should expect a starting price somewhere between $60,000 and $70,000 and a maximum range of up to 325 miles. Not bad! That lines it up with the upper echelon of the Blazer EV’s estimated range. Being marketed as a sporty and athletic Whole Foods hauler, the ZDX will launch with the sporty A-Spec and the SPORTY Type S models, with the latter aiming for over 500 horsepower, a 288-mile range, and sub-five-second zero-to-sixty. And if the ZDX can make good on blending Acura styling and luxury inside and out with GM’s handy EV know-how, Acura should be poised to have a real knockout winner on their hands.

Gabe: 2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray

As I mentioned in our video preview at the LA Auto Show, with the Corvette E-Ray, Chevy hopes to prove that hybrids aren’t all about going green. In fact, the E-Ray lays claim to the same fuel economy as the standard C8 Stingray at 24 MPG highway and 19 MPG combined. Instead, the E-Ray has more in common with a McLaren Artura than a Prius XLE. That’s to say, the tiny 1.9 kWh lithium-ion battery in the transmission tunnel is there to bolster the performance of its already potent 6.2-liter V8. Of course, pairing hefty battery tech with a big block motor does increase its curb weight by a little over 300 pounds, but how much does that matter when you can zip from 0-60 in 2.5 seconds? After all, the E-Ray is the quickest Corvette in the American sports car’s rich history. 

But the distinctions between the E-Ray and the Stingray don’t stop there, because on top of being the first hybrid Corvette, it’s also the first all-wheel-drive model. Don’t worry, it’s still rear-biased, and if you’re skeptical, Chevy’s built-in E-Ray companion app shows its homework with real-time performance data – including a diagram laying out the power distribution between the front and rear wheels. While it sounds like an automotive tech nerd’s playground, this Corvette isn’t just for wonks and weekenders; it’s a grand tourer, lending itself to longer road trips and grocery-getting as much as it does track days. 

Jeric: 2024 Subaru BRZ tS

No, this is not news. But here this favorite of mine is in the flesh, so I’m gonna thrust it down your throat anyway. Behold! The Subaru BRZ tS. It’s like a regular BRZ. But tS. And by that, Subaru means “Tuned by STI.” And by that, they really mean they stole the black wheels off the Toyota GR86, threw on some Hitachi dampers, added a sweet set of Brembo brakes, and called it a day. Really, the 2024 BRZ receives the mildest of updates as it enters the new model year, but they’re still noteworthy enough on a car this basic to be worth sharing!

For 2024, the BRZ receives a tS trim, which, like the previous gen’s tS, functions as a comprehensive performance package sans that car’s goofy wing. Beyond the new brakes and dampers, the tS is built upon the BRZ Limited, which throws in luxury goods like suede and leather interior upholstery, heated seats, and an upgraded stereo, as well as an 18-inch wheel package wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer rubber, which is perhaps the most transformative performance upgrade on any BRZ, turning this diminutive sports car into a genuine Porsche Cayman fighter. Additionally, for 2024, EyeSight is now standard on all models, including manual transmission cars, which does increase the price by a couple of grand, pushing the BRZ in the low-$30,000 range. A tS will run you about $36,000, which is still a hell of a bargain compared to literally anything else on the market today, assuming you can snag one without that dastardly markup. 

Jeric & Gabe: 2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N

The surprise hit from Korea strikes another tally of its bucket list and enters the high-performance EV fray. After much coverage and polarizing the press, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N arrives on American shores to grace us with its matte blue goodness, and it’s here to prove that fast EVs don’t have to be mere straight-line missiles. They can soul, too. Or at least as much soul as you can pump into something that ditches pistons and gas for battery cells and electrons. 

The Ioniq 5 N remains in its early launch phase, without much information besides what was available at its debut. That means nothing much has changed from its claims of 641 horsepower from an 84-kWh battery with 350-kW fast charging. But no complaints there! We still expect its aggressive e-LSD, Drift N Optimizer, and N e-Shift’s simulated 8-speed manual shift mode to make it to our shores, as we do for the changeable fake exhaust noises that can imitate fake revs from a jet fighter, the Gran Turismo Vision concept, or a traditional gas engine. Gimmicky? Absolutely. Necessary? No, not at all. But at least someone out there is having fun with EV tech and is trying to bridge the gap between gassers and electric cars with something that can parody the best attributes of both worlds. Being based on an already well-received vehicle like the regular Ioniq 5 doesn’t hurt, either. 

Jeric: 2024 Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally

If Ken Block we here, I can totally see him sliding through the woods with his family in tow in one of these. The Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally is very real and is very much coming to dealers near you for the next model year. Because what says environmentalism and family-friendly more than something that gently nudges you to take that dirt fire road at triple-digit speeds while blasting “Kickstart My Heart?”

Based on the already formidable and definitely quick-enough Mach-E GT, the Mach-E Rally skews its priorities towards off-road hooliganism. New are 19-inch wheels stolen from the nearest ARA race and shod in skinnier Michelin CrossClimate2 all-seasons sporting a nice, meaty sidewall for all the potholes you’re going to smash on the Wal-Mart Rally. The fog lights, underbody protection, black plastic fender moldings, Focus RS-style rear hatch wing, and a hyper-aggressive RallySport drive mode add some extra WRC flair. The ride height has been jacked up by 20 millimeters and still utilizes the GT’s Magneride shocks but retuned for more off-road shenanigans, and the dual-motor powertrain still zaps out 480 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. Its range is a still-okay-ish 250 miles, but I don’t expect many people to match that given its intended purpose. 

Jeric: Nissan Z Nismo & GT-R Nismo

Ah, yes. Even at a quintillion years old in car years, the Z and GT-R manage to tickle my fancy, now with matching gray-black-and-red paint jobs to boot! The new Nissan Z launched onto the scene with a lukewarm reception, with praise for its modernization and a newfound sense of speed but criticism for the softened edge it bears in order to expand its appeal. The Nissan GT-R is as big, tech-laden, and video-gamey as ever. Both are fine driver’s cars, but fanatics asking for more will find prayers answered in their respective Nismo track variants. 

The Z Nismo, already making rounds in media drives, impressed journos with real, genuine connectedness, inspiring confidence to attack curves on or off-track with a heavily revised suspension, RAYS wheels rocking the GT-R’s ultra-sticky Dunlop tires whose full name I refuse to type out, and a wicked body kit that vaguely reminds me of JDM Fairlady Z G-nose. The VR30 twin-turbo V6 has been massaged to 420 (aye, lmao) horsepower, yet the move to keep it nine-speed-only sparked much ire for what’s to be a purist track Z. Ye ole GT-R Nismo adapts much of the same formula to the geriatric R35 platform, with a new swan neck wing, 600 horsepower from its 3.8-liter VR38 V6, similar RAYS wheels and sticky Dunlops, and a drop-dead gorgeous suite of carbon goodies, from the ground effects to the hood. Also new for 2024 are faster-spooling turbos from the GT-R GT3 race car and a front LSD. Old and possibly overpriced? I guess, but don’t tell me you can’t look at it and giggle with excitement even a little bit. 

Jeric & Gabe: Aston Martin Cygnet

It’s hard to talk about the Alfa Romeo Tonale without mentioning the Dodge Hornet in the same breath. It’s impossible to talk about the Aston Martin Cygnet without bringing up the Scion iQ. Love it or hate it, the Cygnet is one of the most notorious examples of badge engineering from a major automaker. So notorious, in fact, that it’s recently cemented its place in car culture as a not-so-guilty pleasure for the irony-poisoned enthusiast. 

When the Aston Martin Cygnet first debuted in the U.K. in 2011, it came with a starting price of £30,995 – the equivalent of $49,595 in the States. For anyone familiar with Aston Martin as a prestigious luxury brand, that probably doesn’t sound like a lot. But what if I told you that the Aston Martin Cygnet was just a cheap Toyota city car in disguise? Well, sort of. It might’ve featured luxurious interior trappings like bespoke leather upholstery, wood trim, and in some configurations, a shitload of carbon fiber. 

Any mechanical differences between the Cygnet and the iQ were negligible. Both had 1.3-liter four-bangers, continuously variable transmissions (CVTs), and front-wheel-drive. Yet, for whatever reason, its presence at the LA Auto Show was magnetizing. Jeric and I stumbled into Alanis King of Doug Demuro’s Cars & Bids fame, who happened to be fawning over the Cygnet from the inside. It wasn’t long before we joined in. This little number in particular comes courtesy of Galpin Auto Sports as part of its Hall of Customs exhibit.

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2023 Radwood SoCal
EventsFeatures

The Raddening Strikes Back: Everyone needs to see Radwood SoCal and its celebration of retro car culture

The automotive phenomenon known as Radwood SoCal returns for another meetup celebrating retro cars and culture from the 1980s and ‘90s. Many of the enthusiasts passionate about all things beige and boxy, turbo’d and neon, might have loved the long-overlooked misfits that find a home at Radwood. But since the first iteration way back in 2017, the collectible car market’s upward swing in values attracted enough attention that Hagerty, the insurance company turned lifestyle brand, decided to spend big money and bring Radwood under its overarching umbrella.

Somehow, the timing never worked out for me to actually visit a Rad gathering previously, so I drove down to the Port of Los Angeles that played host to this year’s event, very curious to see how the enthusiast community might embrace a by-now established event under relatively recent corporate governance. But I also looked forward to partaking in the so-called “Rad Rally” afterward led by former Porsche driver Patrick Long, since the joys of park-and-show meets tend to fade in comparison to actually driving—and watching others drive—what I’ve always called some of the coolest cars on the road.

2023 Radwood SoCal
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Wake up for load-in

My Radwood started early, with a cruise down to Long Beach in my Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution, as the sun just started brightening. There was only a short wait to show credentials, mostly for a couple of toy haulers loaded to the brim with immaculate Benzes by CMS Motorsports and Restoration, and I pointed the PajEvo into a nice spot at the back of the “Royalty” section. Through roll-up doors, I heard the port canals splashing occasionally on pillars holding up the docks—at least when the burbling exhaust echoing throughout the building began to tone down.

The large parking lots surrounding the Royalty warehouse opened up for standard-ticket show cars half an hour later. Bright contrasting light glinted off the angular forms of Toyota Tacomas, crested the rolled fenders of a handful of BMW 3-Series, and glared off the stainless body panels of a cozy-looking DeLorean. All the while, drivers got out to fist-bump friends decked out in the brightest outfits anyone could get their hands on.

The homologation specials

I parked the Evo at the very far end of the show, where organizers waving flags assured me it would best attract spectators through to the rear of the massive building. A friend in his Escort Cosworth parked nose-to-nose, just below hilariously accurate tagging that read “You’re on thin ice” in a messy scrawled font. Two homologation specials to round out the Radtasticness, without a doubt, the two best cars in attendance (in my entirely unbiased opinion).

Figuring I might find a few other homologation specials to test my ‘80s and ‘90s nerdiness, I started wandering—the true art form of any automotive journalist. The first car that popped out from the crowd ended up being a 1981 Toyota Starlet, obviously refinished in bright blue, a BEAMS 3S-GE motor bedecked with independent throttle bodies nestled into the engine bay and fun custom mirrors matching a shift knob, all built by Mr Grip. The little hatch puts down 200 horsepower to the rear wheels and weighs only 1,800 pounds, making the nickname Starlet Johansson about as apropos as possible. Even if not a true homologation special, the Starlet stood out for me after I saw a stripped and caged example racing in the Olympus Rally early this year.

2023 Radwood SoCal
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

By the time I meandered outside, where the harsh sun had created dark shadows that made my holographic eyeball sunglasses almost blindfolds, the lines for food trucks had already looked far too long. I figured I might swing by for coffee and maybe a donut after the rush died down. 

Guess again! I chatted with a few friends, checked in with Hagerty reps, and kept strolling. But when the general public gates opened at 10:15 am, the prospect of brunch started to fade. Good thing I always bring snacks.

Rounding a corner built out of shipping containers—again, about as apropos as possible for the scene—I stumbled onto a row of motorcycles. Having recently gotten my M1 endorsement, I stopped to take a closer look at these primitive pieces of rolling stock while remembering advice from many riding friends to always buy old cars and new bikes. Point taken, as proven by ratty exposed hosing, nearly hidden carburetors, kick-starts, and minimalist gauges galore. Sign me up for fuel injection and electronic starter motors, I thought. Then again… How about a 1976 Honda CB750K cafe racer? Not quite officially Rad, but I guess rules are meant to be broken.

Back inside the warehouse to shoot the growing crowds from elevation, I bumped into a “Baja Monkey” motorcycle build looking absolutely sick, brah, with a titanium exhaust and full suspension bolted onto the tiny frame. Right next to a scooter finished in art deco graphics over two-tone white. Totally on board, without a doubt.

2023 Radwood SoCal
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Another Pajero Evo joined the throng by now, in matching silver but with yellow mudflaps held up by straps to prevent problems in the sand, also known as quintessential Dakar style. And a Galant VR-4 with an absolutely awful white respray and hilarious roof rack also caught my eye. Okay, fine, I’ll stop talking about Mitsubishis. I also saw a sweet, bright red Dodge Conquest… Wait, nevermind.

Staying on target

Even if snapping pics made up most of my official “job” at Radwood, I also got an offer from Hagerty to take a Maserati Shamal out for a spin. Yes sir, where do I sign? Sure enough, right at the entrance awaited a slightly darker-black Shamal than I imagined, with tinted windows and what looked like OEM five-spoke three-piece wheels. I feared the prospect of no air conditioning in the increasingly hot sunlight, so I figured I’d better get the hard work out of the way early. Either that or I just wanted to drive an absolute 1990s-style icon.

Inside, the Shamal sports plush leather seats closer to a lazy boy than most sports car seats, with an upwardly canted steering wheel that I couldn’t figure out how to move for the life of me. Eh, all good. Since the A/C worked, my feet reached the clutch pedal just fine. My head never got close to the ceiling. Less educated spectators probably thought they passed a Biturbo, but guess again suckers! The Shamal rocked a twin-turbo V8 all the way back in 1990! Throw in a Gandini exterior clearly reminiscent of Countaches, Panteras, and maybe a few Alfas. Now add a real roll bar integrated into the roof, a gated shifter for the six-speed shared with BMW’s 850CSi, and adaptive suspension from Koni. 

2023 Radwood SoCal
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Let me tell you, the little thing rips. I wanted to let the engine get warm before throwing in too much boost, but the turbos started spooling up around 2,500 RPM, and by 3,000, I heard all kinds of good noises, rollicking forward on a surprisingly tight chassis as the shove began pushing me back into those soft seats. With a punch of the pleasingly firm clutch pedal, slap the shifter over through another gate and give the throttle more goose. 

On a couple of tighter turns, I even felt (or imagined I felt) the suspension working to keep this moderately light grand tourer, with a lower-than-expected curb weight of just 3,184 pounds, planted and confident. Maybe the heavy steering contributed to the sensation, but then I unwound and creeped up higher toward redline with the engine temps rising. Such a good thing, this Shamal. And apparently, despite a production total of only 369, it’s somewhat affordable, according to my Hagerty guy. Or at least affordable for millionaires. Not so much compared to most of the other good stuff at Radwood.

2023 Radwood SoCal
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Back to the Radwood show at hand

All good things must pass, including the 1990s turning into a horrid new millennium and my brief time with the Maserati Shamal. But I needed to get back to Radwood ASAP and find some snacks before I got hangry. By now, the sun just baked the parking lot, and almost everybody had made the wise choice to huddle inside the Royalty warehouse. On the second pass, I spotted some fun Porsches, a perfectly specced E34 BMW M5, and the undeniable king of the show that I had somehow missed the first time around.

Yes, you guessed it. An Isuzu Impulse RS. You know the one with Handling by Lotus? That turbo-four, manual trans, and all-wheel drive pocket rocket with cloth seats, hilarious gauges, and space shuttle-era switchgear? I’ll admit that maybe only seven people I spoke with shared my excitement about the little Impulse, but I knew all about this car because I follow the owner, Paul Kramer of AutoKennel, religiously on Instagram. Talk about serious royalty.

Then I dipped back outside to brave the scorching heat once more to check on the food truck lines, but another lap seemed important. Beetlejuice chilled next to his matching Autozam AZ-1, the Toyota tax on display with some built four-wheelers and BMWs from proud piles to concours perfection in the same line. Nothing’s more 1980s or 90s than a sunburn and Pit Vipers, I figured, but the setting began to make even more sense to me all of a sudden. After all, most of the imports here probably passed through the Port of LA on their journey to the United States from Japan, Europe, or beyond.

Accessorize, accesorize, accesorize!

One of the fun sides of car collecting that Radwood emphasizes, if most concours d’elegances scorn, is the glories of accessorizing with pure ‘80s and ‘90s trash. Car phones here, cassette tapes there, and a period-perfect Air Jordan jacket. One guy even towed in a boat complete with ancient water skis, a BMX bike, the de rigeuer boombox, and beach chairs. So lit, so fun! But awards from other car shows also dotted the crowd, along with original window stickers, explanations of rarity (read: documented Radness), and even a lei or two. 

Despite my clear inclinations to award the PajEvo (mine or my friend’s, honestly) as Raddest in Show, or at least the Impulse RS, the official panel of judges semi-officiously handed out a series of trophies at the end of the day that entirely overlooked my personal preferences and predilections. Heresy! The top award was a one-of-12 Rinspeed Porsche “969” finished in crispy white metallic. At the very least, a Renault 5 Turbo 1 that I spent some serious time lusting over took Raddest Import. And luckily for me, the Renault ended up on the Rad Rally as well.

The Rad Rally itself

By 3:30 pm, I felt baked, parched, hungry, and ornery. My PajEvo needed gas before any real rally might begin, so I tried to beg off early, but alas, to no avail. What else to do but chat up Patrick Long, former Porsche factory racer, current brand ambassador, real-life Hot Wheels car builder, and one of the brains behind the air-cooled Porsche gathering, Luftgekühlt? I figured Long might look forward to doing some actual driving just as much as I, a matching duo of jaded (read: spoiled) automotive aficionados such as ourselves. His own impressions sounded slightly cheerier—maybe he’d had lunch.

“I love the part of load-out because everybody’s had a great day, they’re stoked, they’ve made new connections,” Long told me, “You get to hear the cars, you get to smell the cars. That is fun.”

And what might the heretofore mysterious Rad Rally have in store for us, Mister Long?

“I don’t know what tonight’s gonna hold,” he admitted mysteriously. “It’ll be fun when we get on the 110 and head north. Maybe we’ll go over Palos Verdes.”

In a baffling turn of events, the eventual route ended up starting in Santa Monica, akin to the Lamborghini Bull Run Rally I had just attended. So first, every Rad Rally participant needed to battle 45 minutes of holiday traffic to meet at a coffee shop where, more bafflingly, we were not given time to grab coffee. On a tight schedule to catch some sunset shots in Malibu, we regrouped and jumped on the 10 West, then hit gobs of PCH traffic that split the group almost immediately. By the time we turned up Las Flores Canyon, I waited about seven minutes for everyone else to catch up (home-field advantage matters, it turns out) and then followed three Porsches and the Cossie in my body-on-frame homologation race car, er, truck. 

Sound like a showdown is coming? Not so much, since a minivan with photographers harnessed into the trunk led the pack. We wound our way up Las Flores and up past the summit onto Piuma, where the last rays of sunlight provided a picturesque backdrop for oodles more, you guessed it, photo ops. Once the stars began to poke through that violet sky, we turned on our headlights before ripping back down to the PCH in just about the seven minutes of real driving I experienced that day. Long had warned me:

2023 Radwood SoCal
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

“I never push that hard in the canyons. Rule number one is to stay within your lane and not cross a yellow. So I’ll push as hard as it lets me to that point, keeping an eye on gauges and rattlesnakes crossing the road.”

But he snuck out of the overlook well ahead of me, so I enjoyed a chance to chase the pro down. Of course, in his “Dirtmeister” 944 on Pirelli Scorpion knobbies, he stood no chance against the sheer might of the winningest Dakar race vehicle of all time, itself on oversized Yokohama knobbies and with an absolute amateur behind the wheel. Suffice it to say, the Cossie and Renault simply couldn’t keep up, which I once again attribute to homefield advantage.

2023 Radwood SoCal
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

The sun sets over Radwood SoCal

Back in stop-and-go traffic on the PCH, I let the Renault slip in front of me to appreciate those squared-off haunches and the growling exhaust note, but the wait also gave me a chance to reminisce on my first Radwood experience. Call it my first Raddening. It’s hard to go wrong visiting with friends and checking out my favorite era of cars—guess that makes me a millennial with disposable income (guess again, to all my aspiring journalists out there). The setting and scene came out perfectly, with the cars and culture of the era on full display. 

2023 Radwood SoCal
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Radwood undoubtedly takes the dubious fun of average Cars and Coffees, Concours judgings, and any other park-and-show meets to the next level. I definitely enjoyed the day, and with just a bit more planning for foodstuff and more avoidance of traffic on the rally, all would truly be Rad in the world once more.

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Lamborghini Movember Bull Run
EventsFeatures

I drove a Huracan Tecnica at the record-setting Lamborghini Movember Bull Run Rally

Anyone stuck in beach traffic on the Pacific Coast Highway this past weekend found themselves in for a treat. Or really just about anyone on the beach or the boardwalk, too, as a fleet of over 200 Lamborghinis makes for quite a rumbling traffic jam that roars hundreds of yards in every direction. 

Welcome to the third annual Bull Run, a series of global rallies that Lamborghini and the charity Movember put on to raise awareness for men’s issues during the month, also known as “No Shave November.” This year, a Bull Run started in a large parking lot below the Santa Monica Pier, then rallied up the coast through the hills of Topanga and Malibu. 

Just in case I wouldn’t hear the echoes from my nearby apartment, Lamborghini kindly offered me a Huracán Tecnica to join the morning’s revelries, so I arrived curious to see what kind of crowd the Bull Run draws—and, of course, how everyone piloting hardcore supercars in a group rally on public roads actually drives.

Lamborghini Movember Bull Run
Image credit: Extension PR, Jordan Russell

Welcome to the Bull Run

I arrived about 15 minutes late, figuring the event might run on Italian time. And sure enough, a group of about 30 Lambos already occupied a few spots just off the boardwalk—nowhere near the expected total. I parked the Tecnica and hopped out, noticing the number of mustaches already in attendance, a figure that rose steadily, if not quite as quickly as the number of actual Lamborghinis rolling up in bunches.

Movember’s efforts as an organization center around raising awareness for men’s health issues, with a focus on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health. The charity has invested over $350 million in biomedical research projects, supports interventions, provides guidance for cancer treatments, and reframed discussions of mental health and gender norms. Previous iterations of the Lambo Bull Run have drawn 92 dealers in 22 states, with over 1,500 cars worldwide joining the cause. But as the largest single market for Lamborghinis worldwide, LA’s potential turnout this year attracted enough attention to even entice CEO Stephan Winkelmann out for a weekend on the West Coast.

Lamborghini Movember Bull Run
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Setting records with Movember

I almost didn’t recognize Winkelmann in his Saturday casual attire as opposed to his unvarying array of absolutely immaculate suits. He also arrived sporting a beard for the first time since his Bugatti days. Why the beard, I asked him, rather than the Movember mustache gracing so many Lambos around us? He laughed and pointed at my own beard.

“I look older with a mustache, so I said if I were going to do it, then I’d do a beard,” Winkelmann joked before turning serious. “We are doing a thing for a good cause, and to have this as also the biggest gathering in the history of Lamborghini in connection with a movement like Movember is a good thing.”

Lamborghini Movember Bull Run
Image credit: Extension PR, Jordan Russell

Winkelmann arrived in the United States fresh off Lamborghini, reporting official sales figures for the first three quarters of 2023. As usual, the US market dominated world deliveries, with 2,342 cars sold. For context, Germany notched second place with 709 units sold. So, as we stood there surrounded by classic and modern Lamborghinis alike, I asked Winkelmann what he thought made customers in America so attracted to the Italian supercars coming out of Sant’Agata Bolognese in recent years.

“People love ‘Made in Italy,’ they love super sports cars,” he replied. “They look at us, and they see that we are consistent with the brand, with the products, with technology, design, and performance. And therefore, it’s a growing curve in terms of awareness, in terms of image, and also in terms of popularity.” 

We watched more cars pulling into the lot, and then perhaps the highlight of the day rumbled past: the so-called “Rambo Lambo” LM002 SUV. Crowds swarmed, pulling out smartphones to record this most beastly of raging bulls in motion. Then the owner hopped out and popped the hood. I stuck with Winkelmann and brought up my surprise at how many brand-new examples of the Sterrato showed up, the Huracán’s off-roading variant that best delivers the modern style of that LM002. In fact, the Sterrato might just be my favorite car of the year. Completely absurd in every way but done right from conception through R&D to production. Winkelmann agreed.

Lamborghini Movember Bull Run
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

“Lambos are created to be dream cars,” he posited, “To be objects you might dream of since your childhood. And this is something we have to keep alive, and we always have to surprise people. The LM002 back in time was a big surprise for the customers. So is also the Sterrato. This is a car, which is part of our thinking out of the box now; it’s a car, which is very special, and the reception has been incredible. And it’s even more fun on the racetrack than off-road because you can just slide it.”

I declined to share my own tale of sliding a Sterrato enough to wind up fully sideways on a rally course at the official press debut earlier this year but nodded with appreciation for the incredible job that Lambo’s CTO Rouven Mohr manages to do with traction control and ESC programming. This guy drives a Lancer Evo, drifts a Nissan 350Z, and came up with the idea for a Sterrato in the first place. Then he decided that media should off-road the Urus Performante, set up a stage rally day at Chuckwalla for the Sterrato launch, and programmed the 1,000-horsepower Revuelto hybrid’s all-wheel-drive system well enough that I even drifted one at Vallelunga. Not bad, to say the least.

Lamborghini Movember Bull Run
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

A sense of surprise

And my Tecnica loaner wasn’t bad, either. Compared to other Huracan variants, including the Sterrato but also the aggressively aerodynamicized STO, the Tecnica nails a certain level of stylistic restraint. Call it more in line with Winkelmann’s more typical visage than on a Movember rally, where the Sterrato is the bearded CEO in cargo pants at the beach on a Saturday morning. And this particular Sterrato looks extra svelte in a matte grey, officially called Grigio Acheso, with carbon fiber interior door cards and even racing-inspired pull straps instead of handles. 

Don’t forget the 5.2-liter V10 that revs to 8,500 RPM and puts 640 horsepower through a lightspeed seven-speed DCT to the rear wheels only. Perfect for a road rally, a racetrack, or tooling around town—whether anyone shelling out $300,000 for their daily driver might want to keep the Movember mustache decals on after the rally remained another question entirely.

Lamborghini Movember Bull Run
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Huracans made up most of the crowd by the time SM Pier’s lot began to fill up, heartily outnumbering even the Urus, Lambo’s best-selling model that contributed mightily to steadily growing sales stats since debuting for model year 2018. And yet, the Lamborghini crowd that gathers at a rally clearly prefers the company’s supercar persona rather than the do-anything SUV. Not too surprising, I suppose, given how many commuters I regularly see in Uruses (Urii) here in Los Angeles. Maybe the Lanzador could change that in the near future.

Sprinkled between the modern Lambos, a few Diablos, Murcielagos, and Aventadors also arrived to great fanfare. Even a lone Lamborghini Jalpa caught my eye, with an absurd yellow interior unveiled on full display. And it’s not often that anyone on hand can see the details that made these cars so super, from the Rambo Lambo’s wider-than-wide dash and peculiar Pirelli tires to the Jalpa’s gated shifter and three-spoke steering wheel or even the Diablo’s massive rear air intakes. Then, comparing older cars to newer ones, the evolution of aero and design, not to mention materials and craftsmanship under Volkswagen ownership—the whole history of Sant’Agata Bolognese played out in the pier parking lot.

Then came the time to drive after a few words of warning to prevent any shenanigans. Luckily—or not—beach traffic piled up on the PCH immediately, so as I slunk forward at a few miles an hour with the Tecnica set to softest Strada mode and AC blasting, a bunch of Aventadors lurched around at low speeds, automated manuals slapping audibly and 6.5-liter V12 engines revving to prevent stalls. We passed Jerry Seinfeld in a bright orange IROC Porsche, thinking it’s not often that Jerry gets upstaged in the car biz, but it’s pretty hard to beat a line of 200 Lamborghinis in public.

Once past a blinking red traffic light that caused the holdup, speeds increased but never to the point of irresponsibility. Even up Las Flores Canyon, then down Stunt and across Mulholland, the line of Lambos barely cracked the speed limit. And it’s a good thing, too, because the sheriff’s department definitely got the memo, as proven by about 15 cop cars passing in under an hour on mountain roads.

On Las Flores, a bit of water spray contrasted the Tecnica’s matte finish. On the rough road surfaces that took a beating this past winter, I again found myself entirely happy to have drawn the “short” straw with the Tecnica rather than the more “desirable” STO. Sure, on a track, the STO’s stiffer suspension and aero package may allow for better lap times, but here on public roads, the Tecnica’s more approachable setup kept me swaddled in much more comfort. I can admit to wishing for a bit more time actually ripping around, throwing that low-slung weight into corners, and punching the brake pedal to chomp down on massive carbon-ceramic brake discs. Oh well, maybe next time. If I ever get a next time.

Welcome to Calamigos Ranch

The rally ended at Calamigos Ranch, right off Kanan Dume in the heart of Malibu. A popular wedding venue, Calamigos Ranch also rents out to automakers regularly for sneak previews, official launches, and lunches during test drives. In this case, Lambo parked a brand-new Revuelto at the entrance for guests to check out. The bright orange Arancio Apodis launch color certainly caught eyes, though, in my opinion, it only highlights certain unflattering comparisons to the C8 Corvette in photos. Those impressions come through less in person, but the angular body still looks best in dark and matte tones.

Then, another orange Lambo absolutely stole my gaze: a sparkling Miura that guarded the entrance to the main field where lunch trucks, picnic tables, cornhole, and a Ferris wheel all dotted the lawn packed with more Lamborghinis, of course. Here, I got to check out more Diablos and Murcielagos that I must have missed earlier in the rush to chat with Winkelmann and grab a cup of coffee before the rally started. The crowd grew steadily, some dealers wearing official garb, plenty of father-son duos out for a Saturday cruise, solo owners, and more Lambo executives. I grabbed a Mediterranean salad with shaved ribeye, chugged another coffee, then moseyed over to take a closer look at sweet rims, quilted leather, and even more sparkling paint jobs.

And to think, all this for a good cause in an era when Cars and Coffee meets often devolve into donuts and drifting, prompting police shutdowns and ticketing. By contrast, the Bull Run stayed surprisingly classy. We all know the stereotypes, but the Mustang and Hellcat hooligans stayed away on this day of fundraising. Each dealership involved contributes to Movember’s purse, the final tallies of which will be announced at the end of the full month’s efforts. 

Lamborghini Movember Bull Run
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

But in the meantime, I spent the rest of the afternoon ripping my Tecnica home through the tight curves of Latigo Canyon Road, simply one of the best 10 miles of asphalt the world over for driving one of the best supercars ever. Suffice it to say, it’s a great way to give my own mental health a boost with a healthy dose of automotive therapy.

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GRIDLIFE Laguna 2023
EventsFeatures

GRIDLIFE Laguna rocks as the ultimate bash of car culture and racing

Gearheads from all walks of life and every discipline congregate on the festival grounds, the sun setting on a hallowed race track tucked in the hills of California’s Central Coast. This particular weekend is a celebration of many firsts. The now-famed GRIDLIFE Festival, the traveling circus of American car culture, has accomplished numerous praise-worthy feats on the Monterey Peninsula in their nomadic quest for sharing all things cars and racing. Enter the first live concert at Laguna Seca in decades and the first running of Formula Drift cars down the infamous Corkscrew. It’s also the first GRIDLIFE Festival to make it past the Colorado Rockies, effectively enveloping the entire width of the country under the festival tour’s reach. And, with a hard tug at the heartstrings, it was this simple editor’s first music festival and motorsports gathering bunched together in a two-for-one deal. This is GRIDLIFE Laguna. And I’m honored to tell you all about it.

GRIDLIFE Laguna 2023
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

The destiny of a passion project years in the making

Years ago when I was barely old enough to take the wheel, I vaguely heard of GRIDLIFE through whispers and small-bit mentions in YouTube videos. Suddenly, here comes this moving party of beats and track battles across the Midwest and East Coast, enticing enthusiasts from all over the region to race all day and party all night at random tracks in the middle of nowhere.

Though a fresh offering to the community, it was quickly acclaimed and instantly likened to a real-life Forza Horizon, which was coincidentally released the year before the brand’s creation and less than two years before the inaugural festival. The core formula of headline musical performances preceded by HPDE and time attack runnings remains mostly unchanged as the festival expanded, visiting more venues, taking on more musicians, and adding more racing events for aspiring Sennas to get their fix, including new time attack classes and the wheel-to-wheel GRIDLIFE Touring Cup (GLTC) series. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be for desert rats and beachgoers west of their Alpine Horizon Festival.

GRIDLIFE Laguna 2023
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Aside from occasional club racing events in California, this nomadic party never set up shop farther than the Rockies. The reasons why are anyone’s guess. I had the privilege of chatting with Matt Farah of TheSmokingTire in October of 2017 at an event at my local oval track. We discussed the limitations of moving GRIDLIFE out west, with the key issue simply being finding the right venue. At the time, Farah dismissed Laguna Seca for its alleged lack of space, believing it to be too difficult, too compact, and too much of a logistical headache to ever host such a populous and colorful event at a relatively small location. Granted, this was a time when they were exclusively known for wide-open Midwestern and East Coast locales. And although disappointed, I agreed with the reasoning.

I’m sure he was ecstatic as I was to learn six years later we were dead wrong back then. 

Fog before the fury

Much to everyone’s excitement, the festival has accomplished its “Manifest Destiny” of sorts, connecting the coastlines with this year’s festival tour stop at Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca. While the circuit is no stranger to high-profile events and heaps of grandeur, this festival stands as the first true festival in California. Unfortunately, it was preemptively met with some minor environmental setbacks.

GRIDLIFE Laguna 2023
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Intense coastal fog pumped the brakes hard on festivities before anyone fired a cylinder, delaying practice sessions by roughly three hours. Even arriving at the gate was an eerie sight as the hill that climbed towards the entrance was enveloped in a daunting haze that’d make any racing a treacherous gamble, at least when climbing the hill toward the Corkscrew. And although the sun eventually reared its head, frequent breezes fluctuated the backdrop of the first day between sunshine and Silent Hill, and the weather from, “yep, still somehow summer,” to “bloody chilly today, innit?” Fitting for Spooktober! But thankfully, no one’s spirits were dampened. Not one bit. 

As my friend and I ditched our BRZ loaner in general parking, no more than an unpaved and dusty hillside that served as its own inclined car show, we felt the eagerness of everyone around us. Inside the media briefing room, fellow content creators and photographers were giddy over this being their first GRIDLIFE or their first-ever visit to Laguna Seca, much like me. I recognized a few as bigger-name personalities, while others were simply there for personal media brands or to snag trackside content of cars from tuner shops they represent.

Even the backgrounds of those within the media room and their purposes for being there were as broad of a color palette as the cars in the paddock. But one thing we unanimously understood was that this weekend was going to be something extraordinary.

The ultimate variety show

Drivers and mechanics were quick to prepare for a weekend of racing because they knew when the first green flag dropped, it was going to be nonstop noise and adrenaline rush as officials cram every series into the now-tightened schedule. You see it on YouTube, but to witness grassroots motorsports and the cars involved is a whole new world of wonder. To me, at least.

Cars buzz up and down the pits between their staging areas and tents. The howling whines of some of the more purpose-built cars’ straight-cut gears can make your hair stand up, or at least that’s if their hellacious cold starts and bellowing exhausts didn’t already do that. Teammates or good friends masquerading as race techs scramble to ready fresh sets of tires as cars return from practice laps with a little less paint and a lot more grit than before. Many were keen to finish their morning’s work and park their rides so they could get a hearty breakfast fired up on a grill mere feet away from the suspiciously nearby jerry cans.

None of my business! But some of their morning-time munchies did smell delectable. You have to love the aroma of coffee, bacon, and race gas in the early hours. I’d say sunrise, but it’s not like you can still see anything over the start line bridge.

GRIDLIFE Laguna 2023
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

There was no need for a dedicated Cars N’ Coffee when all the eye candy you could ever want sits in the paddock. Although naturally, car people being car people, actual shows would still occur over the weekend. A whole assortment of metal flocked together before my colleague and me, from top-shelf supercars to the most charismatic of budget builds and even former Pikes Peak and endurance race cars given new leases on life. Nearly all of which – yes, even Porsches and McLarens – saw track time. 

There was a faux concours on the second day for attendees to showcase their rides while tire smoke choked out spectators and thundering engines rattled fencing nearby. Some cars were merely at the festival there for a good show. Others patiently awaited the HPDE sessions on the final day. So if you’re the stuck-up, styling-over-everything purist, even something as motorsports-centric as GRIDLIFE has something for you beyond rock-chipped fenders and missing bumpers.

Personal favorites among the non-competitors were easily the Integra Type R on Regamaster wheels and the Volvo 245 wagon with its lovably ‘80s paint job and split tri-spoke wheels. As for the actual racers, the definitely-not-a-stock Pontiac Firebird and LeMans prototypes took the cake for me for different reasons.

GRIDLIFE Laguna 2023
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

While not in Saturday’s concours, the Evasive Motorsports S2000RS race car, the competition variant of their Civic Type R-swapped S2000R, was still a noteworthy companion and rival to Larry Chen’s drift-and-track-built Toyota GR86. Inline-four versus flat-four. Turbocharged versus supercharged. Both are front-engined, rear-drive, compact sports coupes hailed as the quintessential purist’s choice of their time, and both were as aesthetically pleasing as time attack weapons can be and can easily be touted to the show car crowd as a case of having your car and driving it, too.

If I had to pick all-out favorites, I have to go with a tie between the AE86 Toyota Corolla pair in attendance. Yes, yes, call me predictable. Whatever. They’re cool! Slow cars are cool! And please, allow me to highlight one owned by SoCal’s own Fujiwara Tofu Cafe and lovably dressed up inside and out as Takumi’s AE86, circa Initial D: Fourth Stage. However, I’ll still give some love to the Nissan Z and S650-generation Ford Mustang GT at the concours, which were probably the newest hunks of metal in attendance.

It’s safe to say I was pretty damn impressed by the showing. I arrived expecting to see the common crop of sticky-tired Honda S2000s and Chevy Corvettes, which, don’t get me wrong, they showed up in droves. But let me tell you. I came away starstruck and slackjawed over the myriad of cars and characters on display, a testament to the sheer scope of what car culture is and who the people are representing it

And that’s another thing worth celebrating.

GRIDLIFE Laguna 2023
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

We the people

My god, the people. What an eclectic gathering of kindred spirits and fearsome competitors. I will admit I’ve grown to be a bit of a bitter asshole, primarily spurred by my toxic overindulgence in social media. “Everyone’s a clout chaser. Everyone’s a dick-measurer. Everyone’s a trend hopper.” Right. Well, I should’ve already known better from prior car gatherings, but I’ve always been stubborn. But I’m pleased to report that the shallow and cliquish mantra surrounding car culture on social media is nonexistent here. That mentality stays its lame ass on Instagram, because GRIDLIFE is all about real, tangible substance, and there wouldn’t be much without good people to provide it.

GRIDLIFE Laguna 2023
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

To hell with what you drive and how you built it. As long as it’s cool, as long as it’s you, and as long as you’re honest to your peers and yourself about who you are as one with the community. It’s not often I feel that the car people I encounter are the most authentic versions of themselves. So to be genuine and have that reflected in their personalities and their cars is humbling for me and inspires a new sense of confidence that we can be far more than any critic gives us credit. I even ran into some former colleagues who were racing in time attack, as well as other prominent automotive personalities who couldn’t have been any nicer.

Fenton Sun of Zygrene shared with me a press car contact so I can finally nail down an elusive S650 Mustang press car. Larry Chen gave me a suggestion for a new camera to buy and gave my friend a handful of his anime persona stickers. Chris Rosales and Peter Nelson of The Drive shared their weekend time attack experiences with their purposefully modified Civic Type R and BMW 128i, respectively. Every one of them, plus many more, stood as positive examples of kinship in car culture, which I could only ever wish was as widespread on the internet. Here on the Monterey Peninsula, however, I’ll stand on this hill and say it’s the definitive car community experience from which other niches should take notes. The only aggression to be found is when hunting for apexes.

Oh, and a big shoutout and best wishes to the lovely couple cosplaying as cowboy Ken and Barbie for Spooktober. Whatever you guys do, just know you’re Kenough. 

Competition-grade

But of course, many people didn’t show up to only see cool cars and meet cool people. Many paid good money to partake in this three-day crucible, a test of their cars and abilities and an homage to motorsports history on one of the best tracks to rage-quit on in Forza Motorsport. Let’s talk about some race cars and racing action! 

No quicker did the fog clear on the first day than racers took to the 2.2-mile ribbon of asphalt in front of them. Of course, the 987 Porsche Cayman and the horde of Hondas were easy and effective choices for tackling California’s finest. But the sense of whimsy in seeing retired police Crown Victoria fly beneath the Continental Tire arch is just as satisfying. You go, Crown Vic person! 

GRIDLIFE Laguna 2023
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Fans of the unorthodox were surely pleased to see Rush SR race cars and Tesla Model 3 Challenge embark on their own crusades, the former of which competed in their inaugural season to promote what’s to be an affordable line of prototype-ish racers. One-liter screamers packed into a pint-sized, single-seat caricature of a Radical SR3 that starts under $40,000? Where do I apply for financing? Their goofy proportions and cutesy size made them a treat to see in the pits, and their blazing performance made them a hoot to battle.

And while certainly not as big of a fan favorite, there’s still love to be had for the Model 3 Challenge, taking otherwise pedestrian commuter EVs and skewing their sport sedan slider way down to the “Sport.” Such a niche-within-a-niche series not only serves to test the mettle of those willing to modify Teslas for battle but also as a study to see how high-performance driving affects EV batteries and how grassroots motorsports can adapt to the changing automotive landscape. Even if you dislike EVs, innovating ways to make a dreary toaster as rad as these deserve respect.

For fans of endurance car racing, there was no greater spectacle than witnessing a Mercedes-AMG GT3 race car battle with LMP3 prototypes and that oddball open-wheel Formula car. Piloted by Pikes Peak champ, Robin Schute, it was undoubtedly the fastest car of the weekend by a considerable margin for what I hope you all find to be self-explanatory reasons. Look at the damn thing. It’s not even fair. And while not an actual touring car, this particular GT3 RS in the Track Mod time attack class did a damn fine impression of an RSR or Cup car in both speed and ear-piercing noise and was easily my friend’s personal favorite car of the weekend.

There was always something to enjoy on any given day. It didn’t matter who you were or who you thought you were. Seasoned veteran or uninitiated, it mattered little. There was so much action spread across so many classes and price ranges that if you didn’t find something worthy of your love and attention, you needed a psych eval. Or perhaps you needed to sit closer to the fencing to fully absorb the cacophony of metallic howls, bellowing roars, and thunderous barks from engines passing by.

GRIDLIFE Laguna 2023
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Good show! Jolly good show!

Come the latter half of the weekend, spectators began picking and choosing their favorite gladiators to root for, especially in GLTC, arguably the most heated series on GRIDLIFE’s motorsports spectrum, which has only gotten hotter with the limited track time allotted by the dense schedule. To watch IMSA professionals take to it on FOX Sports like it’s another day at the office is one thing, but there’s a great deal of hope and aspiration to be felt when watching people like you and I take the challenge. It’s like betting on your favorite neighbor to win the Applebee’s bar fight.

The Pontiac Firebird in Unlimited was an easy favorite for more than just myself, as was the BRE-inspired Datsun 510 racing wheel-to-wheel with modern metal. Also in the running league was Advance Auto Parts’ prodigal sons, the Gears & Gasoline Bens, championing their pocket rocket EK Civic and their odd-yet-aspirational widebody MR-2 Spyder. Fans hollered as their favorite picks rocketed around the bends, phones at the ready to make each of them Instagram famous. 

Regardless of class or cost, each race throughout the weekend was met with the same level of vicious competitiveness. Crammed into short spurts, drivers made the most of what they had, giving it their absolute all during what little time was given. Lap one was always a warm-up. By lap two, drivers started laying into their limits. By lap three, the track already reeked of hot rubber and flaming brakes. Plenty of cars went off course, and plenty more appeared to have gotten quite squirrely only to miraculously recover in time to not get overtaken by those behind.

But it wasn’t all glamor and applause. Remember that anything can happen at the track, and the universe cares not for the occasion. At some point on Saturday, a Supra running in one of the time attack classes was gone in a flash as suspected diff fluid fire turned the car to ash. Miraculously, the driver made it out unscathed, but his car was made both a martyr of the sport and a grim reminder of just how south things can go when the slightest hiccup occurs. But alas, the weekend must continue, and so off emergency services went to clean up the track for the next round of gladiators.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be their festival tour destination if there wasn’t a splash of hooliganism mixed in. To see a LeMans prototype race car lengths from a home-brewed Pontiac Firebird race car and a Pikes Peak hillclimber then transition to Formula D cars sailing down the Corkscrew sideways is like a Forza “Anything Goes” lobby come to life. Breaking up the competitions were exhibition runs guest starring TJ Hunt, Dai Yoshihara, and more. What a show to see Larry Chen and his Supra chase car hound the ass-ends of Matt Field’s Corvette and Justin Pawlak’s Mustang mere feet from turning his camera lenses into shattered mosaics. 

And now my favorite hoodie has tire debris all over it. Oh, goodie. Worth it, though. 

I’ve never witnessed motorsports events outside of Supercross and Monster Jam as a child. So to see nearly every class of modern race car conceivable packed into one weekend of nonstop carnage on the Corkscrew had me twitching and white-knuckled in my seat. It’s the perfect race weekend for spectators with ADHD, and that’s a fact. Why watch one league of racing when you can watch them all in 15-to-20-minute intervals? You get so riled up watching your favorite drift car make its pass or seeing your favorite duo do battle for a position that you almost forget to eat. Or drink water. Or that there’s a concert that night and you should probably save your energy. Glad to know I’m not jaded enough to feel less of such sensory overload.

Following a chilling finale to this year’s GLTC and weekend’s final runnings of Rush SR and Model 3 Challenge, the race weekend closes on its second day just as it had the night before: to music and merry under the soft glow of a waning day.

GRIDLIFE Laguna 2023
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

GRIDLIFE Laguna is a must-go

Each day, the sun sets over the hills, basking the track in a beautiful orange hue before disappearing into the Pacific. The morning’s cool and inviting breeze returns, signaling everyone back to the paddock for relaxation, bang-on food trucks, and chill vibes. The line for sims at the arcade stacks up as patrons outside await the evening festivities. The chaos has ended. Battered chariots tick themselves cool from the weekend’s carnage as attendees wind down for the evening only to get cranked once more to various performances, ranging from hip-hop to indie rock and EDM. Yet another perfectly-fitting piece to the puzzle having genuine drifter and car enthusiast, T-Pain, perform at the venue’s first major musical performance in decades to a crowd of like-minded individuals. Although, I’m fairly certain no one else in the crowd ever performed with DJ Khaled or founded a company with Hert from Hoonigan. Or so I think.

My friend and I stuck around long enough for the actual GRIDLIFE Sunday Cars N’ Coffee and to catch a glimpse at the last-chance time attack runs. As we passed the gate to Laguna Seca for the last time to catch our flights home, we left behind one of the best weekends of our entire lives. But we were happy. Happy to have been a part of such a historical moment in GRIDLIFE’s expansion and such a fine example of car culture’s proudest moments.

Maybe next time, it’d be our cars hitting those apexes. Or tire walls. Either way, we knew we’d be back with more friends and some fun cars in tow. Seems like a tall order for a single weekend out of the year. But it’s worth it to indulge in your Forza Horizon fantasies come to life. Every penny and every second of it. So hats off to GRIDLIFE Laguna, the greatest multifaceted celebration of cars and characters the West Coast has to offer. May you never stop partying. And may we never stop driving. 

GRIDLIFE Laguna 2023
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco
GRIDLIFE Laguna 2023
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco
GRIDLIFE Laguna 2023
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco
GRIDLIFE Laguna 2023
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco
GRIDLIFE Laguna 2023
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

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Tesla Model 3 review testing at Tesla Mt. Kisco showroom in Westchester County, NY
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Green NCAP honors four vehicles with new Life Cycle Assessment award

Green NCAP has announced the first vehicles to be awarded its new Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) award. So who is Green NCAP, what even is that, and which other vehicles were recognized besides the Tesla Model 3? Let’s get right to it.

The independent UK organization Green NCAP’s mission is to promote the clean, energy-efficient development of cars while minimizing environmental impact. A noble cause. It achieves this through its star rating and index system which can summarize a vehicle’s performance in clean air, energy efficiency, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Since 2019, Green NCAP’s star ratings have provided consumers with an easy way to compare the on-road environmental performance of new cars under identical driving conditions.  LCA information complements the rating as it assesses the vehicle’s complete environmental impact, taking into account factors like production, energy supply, and end-of-life.  We believe that this award helps consumers to make an informed and greener choice about the true sustainability of their cars – it will be a true differentiator for the wide choice of electric cars currently on offer on the forecourt.  Moreover, it is hoped that the award will act as a catalyst for the industry to innovate and accelerate its development of more sustainable cars.

Dr. Aleksandar Damyanov, Green NCAP Technical Manager

The LCA award is given to the best performers, tested since 2022 — receiving five stars in their assessments. Four cars have been given the LCA Award: the Dacia Spring, the ORA Funky Cat, Renault’s electric Megane E-Tech, and the Tesla Model 3. These vehicles currently have total life cycle greenhouse gas emissions equal to or less than 120 g CO2‑eq./km.

Green NCAP hopes the LCA award helps encourage consumers to make a “greener choice” when shopping for a new vehicle. Time will tell which new vehicles will join LCA club going forward. Our money is on the 2025 Tesla Model 2.

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WCCS garage car show
EventsFeaturesNews

This California garage’s grand opening celebrates the best of car culture with an even grander car show

A cool breeze and steady clouds rolled over LA to remind us that autumn weather was around the corner. Angeles Crest became the set of some derivative horror flic and dampened any enthusiasm to soak up the nonexistent rays in Malibu. I was in town sampling yet another press car, but nothing more. How uncharacteristic of me, as I always try to find other immersive things to do, other stories to tell. Might as well when in such a hub for culture, food, and driving. But this time around, nada. Already wished Porsche a happy 75th at The Petersen. Already visited the Lady of the Lake at The Mullin. Maybe one day, I’ll hit the apexes at Willow, but not this weekend. What to do.

I wasn’t about to be the airhead who sucks at planning so bad they couldn’t find anything to do in LA on a weekend. But thankfully, a nifty little Instagram post pointed me towards a new garage in Gardena to spend my Saturday morning. A local group, Brekkie Car Club, was the crew putting on the show, but an outsider like me knew next to nothing of them. I expected a small parking lot meet like those I had been accustomed to and maybe a coffee stand.

I probably should’ve browsed their page and done my research before showing up with the lackadaisical attitude I initially had. Now I feel rude for making any assumptions.

Cool breeze, warm coffee, fiery cars

Integra Type S
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

The alley was mostly full, so I parked the Acura Integra loaner in an overflow lot across the street with the other late attendees who had already begun spilling out of the entrance. The howls of Japanese straight-sixes and German flat-sixes clash as attendees come and go down the street. Even the cars spilling into the street and the overflow area were among the cleanest examples of tuner cars, even the ones that were clearly for show or casual street use. And this was before you entered into the actual show.

Humorously, being set in the alley of a parking facility in Gardena, it was definitely the largest Cars N’ Coffee I’ve attended, longitudinally speaking. Cars stretched down seemingly a couple hundred feet of tarmac, lining the entrance to this newly-minted garage and culminating in a pocket of vendors and top-shelf cars. 

On display was among the broadest spread of diversity in American car culture, a gathering for many tastes with people from all walks of life. And no, this sort of event isn’t exclusive to solely this region, but you don’t see it in such droves in many other places. It’s somewhat alien yet completely on-brand for this corner of the country. From home-brewed tuners to shop-built restomods. From sport compacts to supercars. There was plenty to behold. Peep at the slammed truck that I’m willing to bet is lower than the actual lowrider in attendance. 

WCCS Car Show
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Growing up in Las Vegas, our car culture is but a scaled-down caricature of what lies 300 miles westward. It was a scene I knew but turned up to scale I rarely experienced back home, with a rainbow of personality and creativity to match. My home has some bang-on Cars N’ Coffees. I will not deny them that. But it’s not often I see a kei truck and kei van sitting pretty next to a 911 Carrera lowered on WORK wheels. Nor is there ever a Vorsteiner booth with Europe’s finest rocking sets of circular artwork.

Seriously. Get a load of the rollers on the gray Urus. And the 991.1 GT3’s bronze two-piece center-locks with the polished rim? It’s like something out of a Speedhunters post.

Typical in this day and age, you’re never short on grayscale cars, but the blinding paintwork of vehicles from the Chevelle 454 SS to the pair of old and new BMW M2s do just enough to pierce through the otherwise dreary backdrop of clouds. 

And did I mention the Fast & Furious Supra, complete with nitrous bottles and a fully dressed-up interior? No? Right. Nevermind then. Forget ‘bout it, cuh (I had to). 

Fast & Furious Supra
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

There was no shortage of heavy-hitting knockouts on display. In addition to Vorsteiner’s Urus and Huracan STO demo cars and the armada of Skylines and 911s outside sat the illustrious, drool-worthy collector pieces inside the facility. Truly the stuff of dreams and living legends. Try the cleanest Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X you’ll ever see outside of a magazine cover from 2015. Or not one, but two Carrera GTs. Or if you’re more into modern performance, there’s no going wrong with a GT2 RS.

And it’s not like everything in attendance was a minty-fresh collector’s piece pulled from an RM Sotheby’s auction ad. Some cars were textbook definitions of pristine. Others preferred patina. It was a healthy mix of cars made to look as if they were on the assembly line and ones made to tell the stories of their history. Every drive, every adventure, and every nick from probably following a dump truck too closely.

WCCS garage car show GT2 RS
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Perhaps my personal favorite was locked in a three-way tie between the Honda N600 rocking an interior adorned with stuffed toys and knitted seat covers, the Evasive Motorsports Honda S2000R restomod in all its carbon fiber and Championship White glory, or the Bugatti Type 35 continuation car by Pur Sang. But is it wrong to even mention the S2000R and the Pur Sang in the same breath, let alone park them within a couple dozen feet of each other? Or is that just the time we live in, where a Japanese sports car of the 2000s can transcend its original platform and stand on the same pedestal as something that belongs at Concours d’Elegance?

Or, here’s a better question. Who cares?

Pur Sang Bugatti Type 35 at WCCS garage car show
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

A melting pot of metal and memories

Prestige matters little when both vehicles exist as symbols of their creators’ love and ingenuity. Here, they sit for a like-minded audience to gawk over every intricacy that makes them special, even if they’re worlds apart. The co-existence of these cars in one space puts the intimidated or uninitiated at ease and encourages them to branch out of their wheelhouse to discover cars they wouldn’t have otherwise discovered.

The same goes for every car here. A 911 GT2 RS shares the same square footage as an S14 240SX and an Evo X. Mustangs and Camaros intermingle with M cars and Supras. Because why the hell not? There is no segregation of the various cults like I often see with other events. There are no “Mustang people” or “Porsche people” here. They’re just car people.

WCCS Car Show
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco
WCCS Car Show
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

This level of variety in car culture and its people proves, when done right and not with the foolish delusion of chasing clout and outlaw stardom, that it’s more than just an exercise in materialism and vanity. And it’s this melting pot that makes for great memories and meeting new people.

But why on a cloudy day in some industrial park alleyway in Gardena? Surely, there was no one staging for quarter-mile drags in the hopes of appeasing triad bosses or winning pink slips to ten-second cars (bam, two references in one piece). Brekkie’s show was more of a celebration than anything else. A celebration of diversity in car culture, as well as the grand opening of a new garage for these cars to potentially call home. 

Celebrating a new home for our four-wheeled friends

Hell, that venue had to belong to someone, right? Right. So hats off to auto journalist and TheSmokingTire co-host, Matt Farah, who celebrates the opening and unveiling of the Westside Collector Car Storage South Bay location in collaboration with Brekkie Car Club. His 90-car garage presents itself as a hub for dedicated hobbyists to give their cars a home when they themselves can’t, delivering a much-needed service to the local community seldom seen throughout the LA area and other densely populated metropolises.

Matt Farah portrait at WCCS
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Tucked deep into this otherwise unassuming alley gives the location a lowkey vibe. If you didn’t recognize the signage out front, it’s almost speakeasy-like for cars. Its privacy and security are to be further bolstered by the later construction of a concrete wall, and that’s only a fraction of future developments soon to follow. Being more sprawled out given its location, the WCCS South Bay facility will soon exceed the capacity of its original Playa Vista location, which made headlines upon its opening for its impossibly ingenious use of such a compact space. Adopting the second building adjacent to the now-opened garage will reportedly allow car capacity to inflate to 170, with room to spare for indoor and outdoor lounging, a conference room, a kitchen, and a dining area. 

Get that. A kitchen. In the same place you’d park your weekend toy. To some, it may just look like a glorified parking structure. But the enthusiast in me, who probably watched too many movies and played way too many games, sees a lounge for car clubs, a hub for drivers’ meetings on rallies, and your character’s starting garage should they ever make a Test Drive: Unlimited game in California. 

Excessive? In all the best ways. So think of it as a gift to the community, because as much as we love them, cars are a hassle in big cities. After all, the eclectic customers who will soon fill these bays surely deserve some treat for keeping our increasingly niche hobby alive with cars that are becoming more like museum-worthy exhibits with every passing year.

And I mean. Come on. It doesn’t sound like a bad place for the valet to take their sweet time when they give you a place to kick it.

So yeah. I’m a fan of this idea and of gatherings like this. And you should be, too. People like Farah and his crew at WCCS make being octane-blooded in concrete jungles feel less like wedging your passion between a rock and a hard place. And it’s lively, community-driven shows by groups like Brekkie Car Club that keep the flame burning for veteran hobbyists and hopefully light a flame in the hearts of the new and curious.

Not a bad assessment, huh? And to think all I wanted to do was kill a Saturday morning.

WCCS Car Show
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

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Electrify Expo New York entrance
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Electrify Expo 2023: our 5 favorite cars from America’s biggest EV auto show

Earlier this month, we were somehow entrusted with media credentials for Electrify Expo at Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, just East of New York City (not too far from where we hold NYCars & Coffee each week). This little EV-focused festival was less New York International Auto Show and more CES, minus all the boring stuff from CES that doesn’t sit on four wheels. Unlike a traditional media expo full of idle concept cars designed to drum up headlines, Electrify Expo gave us the chance to drive cars that are already out, but without the anxiety-inducing pressures that come with test-driving at a dealer.

#image_title

Although we didn’t have time to take every car on display out for a spin, we at least had the opportunity to get up close and personal with a few notable models from top carmakers like Lexus, Ford, Volvo, and Tesla. Without getting too in the weeds, I do have Some Opinions on the cars we saw. No, that doesn’t include the Ford Lightning. I did drive it, but I’ll save those thoughts for another day. Maybe when I’ve moved on mentally from the Fisker Alaska.

1. Mustang Mach-E GT

Electrify Expo 2023: Ford Mustang Mach-E GT
Image credit: Gabe Carey (Acceleramota)

I unabashedly love the GT version of the Mach-E. The base Mach-E is whatever, but Electrify Expo flawlessly demonstrated why the Mach-E GT deserves a second look. For one, they hired a professional drifter to burn those tires bald, and that was a feat to behold. My car can do 0-60 in about 3.5 seconds, but 3.8 hits different when you’ve got instant torque. That it can handle like this while looking like that is a testament to the potential for fun driving in EVs and crossover SUVs alike when a carmaker cares about delivering an engaging experience for the driver rather than another cookie-cutter commuter car.

Whenever Ford is inevitably forced to turn off the lights on the Dark Horse, the Mach-E GT has established a solid enough baseline for what we can expect from the next generation of Mustang sports coupes.

2. Lexus RZ

Electrify Expo 2023: Lexus RZ steering yoke
Image credit: Gabe Carey (Acceleramota)

The Lexus RZ has stirred up controversy recently, not only for its steer-by-wire system but Toyota’s also taken a page out of Tesla’s book and decided normal people need F1-style steering yokes. While I sadly didn’t get the chance to drive the yoke-equipped model, I did drive an RZ with a regular steering wheel and it was just as unremarkable as I anticipated given its shared DNA with the underwhelming Toyota bZ4X. Just get a Prius, and if that’s not lavish enough, meet the Toyota Crown.

3. BMW i5

Electrify Expo 2023: BMW i5
Image credit: Gabe Carey (Acceleramota)

I said it in the newsletter, and it’s even truer now that I’ve seen it showcased next to the repulsive BMW iX: the new 5 Series looks fire, and the BMW i5 M60 is the best of the bunch. I’ve gone on record saying the BMW i4 M50 is the best EV I’ve driven, and that still holds true today.

At least as far as design goes, the electric 5 Series M takes all the positive qualities of the i4 M50 – 500+ horsepower with a sub-4 second 0-60 speed on a rear-biased AWD platform – and pairs them with a front end I hate a little less. It also helps that on its other side was the BMW i7, which I lamented as my worst driving experience in recent memory.

4. Volvo EX30

Electrify Expo 2023: Volvo EX30
Image credit: Gabe Carey (Acceleramota)

Mark my words: No matter how this little crossover SUV turns out, the Volvo EX30 will print money. I came this close (imagine my thumb and pointer finger very close together) to reserving one before my wife told me not to because she wanted the Alfa Romeo Tonale.

She made the right call, however, since 1) We needed a car and the EX30 doesn’t come out until next summer and 2) I don’t fully trust Geely with a Chinese-made Volvo. Not necessarily because it’s made in China – hell, the MacBook Pro I’m typing on was, too – but because most other Volvo models are still manufactured in Sweden. This was clearly a move to cut costs. Whether that means cutting corners remains to be seen.

5. Ford Eluminator concept truck

Electrify Expo 2023: Ford Eluminator concept truck
Image credit: Gabe Carey (Acceleramota)

Did you know you can buy a Mach-E motor from Ford’s website and swap it into any vehicle it fits? I didn’t either until I saw the Ford Eluminator concept truck, which is less of a truck and more of an overarching concept. For a little over four grand, Ford is saying you can put an electric motor with 480-horsepower and 634 pound-feet of torque in a 1978 F-Series pickup, sure. But you can also do your best RDJ impression and get a little more creative. For instance, if you’re mad about the Mach-E because it’s an SUV and not a proper Mustang, why not build your own electric muscle car? Show Ford how it’s done.

Honorable mention: Tesla Model X

Electrify Expo 2023: Tesla Model X converted into "house"
Image credit: Gabe Carey (Acceleramota)

“It’s not a recession,” they say. Stop blowing your paychecks on avocado toast and someday you, too, can afford to live in a Tesla Model X.

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