Tag Archives: Porsche

Porsche Macan EV
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The all-electric Porsche Macan EV is more of a “true” Porsche than you think

With the introduction of the Porsche Cayenne, the automotive industry saw the rise of the super SUV, a vehicle that provides the power and prestige of a supercar in a larger, more practical form. As these vehicles grew in popularity, especially within the luxury-performance segment, enthusiasts have been inundated with options like the Lamborghini Urus, Audi SQ8, Aston Martin DBX, and, a smaller companion to the Cayenne, the Porsche Macan

The first model year for the Macan began in 2015, and less than a decade later, we are seeing this performance SUV in a whole new light: an all-electric option. Enter the creatively named Macan Electric. If the Porsche Taycan Turbo S has proven anything, it’s that this German brand isn’t messing around when it comes to electric power, storming into this new powertrain endeavor with impressive acceleration, handling, styling, and high-tech, futuristic options. The Taycan Turbo S was the full package, giving us high expectations for an EV Macan. 

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What is the new Macan EV?

In a bold move to carry forward the Macan’s red-hot torch while feeding into the electric car frenzy sweeping the globe, the Macan EV is a full-on replacement for the outgoing gasser Macan. It sports a unique, slightly sloped roofline akin to the Cayenne Coupes or Audi Sportback crossovers and a plus-sized Taycan mug to accentuate that, yes, there is indeed a distinct lack of dinosaur juice flowing through this latest Macan.

The Macan EV will launch as two starter models, the lower-rung Macan 4S Electric and the Macan Turbo Electric. Both proudly tout Porsche’s acclaimed 800V architecture, which debuted in the Taycan. Final MPGe and range figures aren’t available as of yet, but Porsche states both Macan Electrics will launch with a 100-kWh battery, of which 95 kWh is usable, and a fast charge time of 21 minutes to juice from 10% to 80% charge.

In yet another interesting move, the electrified Macan won’t fully replace the current one immediately, at least not in all pockets of the world. Due to varying emissions and economic standards, this new generation will fully replace the gasser Macans in stricter places like mainland Europe but will sell alongside them in other markets like the UK and North America for an unknown amount of time.

Base prices:$78,800 (4) $105,300 (Turbo)
Motor/battery choices:Dual permanent synchronous motors w/ 100 kWh battery pack
Transmission choices:Single-speed direct drive
Drivetrain choices:all-wheel drive
Power:382 horsepower; 402 horsepower w/ Overboost Power + Launch Control (4), 576 horsepower; 630 horsepower w/ Overboost Power + Launch Control (Turbo)
Torque:479 pound-feet w/ Launch Control (4), 833 pound-feet w/ Launch Control (Turbo)
Weight:approx. 4,600 to 4,900 pounds
Zero-to-60 mph:approx. 4.9 seconds (4), approx. 3.1 seconds (Turbo)
MPGe:TBA
Range:381 miles (4), 367 miles (Turbo)

Porsche increases release of all-electric production models

As a Porsche enthusiast, I was once incredibly skeptical about how a brand seeped in decades of racing heritage could follow the market trend into the world of electric vehicles. That was until I got behind the wheel of the Taycan Turbo S on an empty airport backroad. While we still have a lot yet to learn about the EV Macan, our hopes are high. Was Porsche able to dial in the electric motors and the already-in-production Macan to combine into one exquisite compact SUV? Supposedly, it does all that and more.

What might be harder to believe, however, is that despite initial feelings, the Macan EV is even more aligned with the hopes and dreams of Ferdinand Porsche than most may originally assume.

Porsche’s forgotten electric vehicle history proves Ferdinand Porsche would have been satisfied

While many consumers may consider the Taycan the brand’s first electric vehicle, this technology was seen in P cars over a hundred years ago before the modern EV revolution. Porsche purists may claim that creating an all-electric model was a sin, and diving deeper away from the brand’s heritage by creating an EV SUV is exponentially worse, but many forget that it was Ferdinand Porsche who originally placed an electric motor into one of his vehicles all those years ago. 

Porsche’s plans for electromobility were far advanced for the infrastructure and battery availability of the times, but that didn’t stop the vision. In 1898, Ferdinand designed his first electric vehicle, the Egger-Lohner C.2 Phaeton. From there, he went on to develop the electric wheel hub motor before introducing the first Lohner-Porsche Electromobile at the 1900 Expo in Paris. 

So, if Ferdinand Porsche was so interested in developing an EV, where did things go wrong? The answer is something we struggle with today but have managed to balance with new materials and more powerful motors: weight. 

While the new Porsche Macan is still heavy for a compact SUV due to the additional weight of the lithium-ion batteries, Porsche has maintained their focus on a striking power-to-weight ratio and weight distribution to sew along the thread of genetic Porsche driving experience. 

Porsche Macan EV aerodynamics and design 

All-new Electric Porsche Macan  rear image
Image credit: Porsche

Porsche has been a long-standing icon in the performance segment with a history steeped in motorsports heritage. Even as a heavier, larger, all-electric platform, the Macan still fits the bill for performance and handling that we expect from the brand. As an EV, the wheelbase of this compact SUV is stretched an additional 86mm, which will surely aid high-speed stability, compensated by a shorter overhang on the front and rear of the vehicle. The elongated appearance meshes with the coupe-like roofline and sleek body lines to give it a sports car appearance and proportions. 

Although it maintains its iconic Porsche appearance and is still notably a Macan at first glance, significant changes to the body styling and aerodynamics make it the most streamlined SUV on the market. That isn’t just conjecture, either. With the Porsche Active Aerodynamics (PAA), the Macan EV drops its drag coefficient to an impressive 0.25 — perfect for performance and optimized range. The PAA achieves this through several elements:

  • Flexible covers on the fully-sealed underbody 
  • Adaptive rear spoiler
  • Active cooling flaps on the front air intakes
  • Rear, lateral tear-off edges
  • Louvered diffuser

Porsche Macan EV driver dynamics and steering feel

In order to develop a car that aligns with the Porsche brand, handling and driving feel must be prioritized, and that is clear with the Macan EV. The additional weight of the high-voltage battery system does give the car a disadvantage, but from an engineering standpoint, the bulk of this mass sits low, giving the SUV a short center of gravity and allowing it to hug the road as it corners. Take the raving reviews of the Taycan as gospel for Porsche’s ability to make a heavy EV handle like a dream.

The EV also offers a notable change over previous model years, something we have seen in a handful of the brand’s sports cars and crossovers: rear-axle steering, which is a first for any Macan and capable of up to five degrees of angle. This is an additional option, but one we hope buyers who custom spec this vehicle will genuinely consider for both urban commuting and performance driving purposes. The benefit here is an impressively tight turning radius of 11.1 meters (36.4 feet) in traffic and increased handling stability at higher speeds.

Per usual, Porsche is using this new endeavor to bring us even more advancements in technology to enhance our driving experience. We see this not only with this Macan being the first to receive rear-axle steering but also in the addition of the two-valve damper technology in cars equipped with the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) that comes along with the optional air suspension. This gives drivers an even more noticeable difference in feeling between comfort and performance mapping.

While we may have to wait until these EV Macan models are released to get behind the wheel and let you know what we think of the execution of these designs for ourselves, we are optimistic about the engineering and aerodynamics that bring this car to life decades after Ferdinand Porsche himself first attempted to create his electric vehicle.

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News

Apple CarPlay is getting a facelift in 2024

While I’m not on the level of Grandpa Simpson, shaking my fist at the sky to bemoan technological progress, it’s hard to love the increasingly screen-heavy interiors of most new cars today. Apple CarPlay has made the connection between most smartphones and car technologies more bearable, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that the system will soon conquer all in-car technology interactions.

Porsche and Aston Martin recently announced updates to their in-car CarPlay interfaces, which will bring with it a far more involved system when it arrives in 2024. The new Apple interface will interact with the vehicle’s tire pressure sensors, outside thermometers, and more. Much like Android Automotive, the new CarPlay will also introduce certain UI design elements unique to specific car brands. The updates would bring a significant evolution in the system’s capabilities, but Apple will not store users’ data outside of the vehicle. 

Porsche’s mockup showing an updated Apple CarPlay home screen with additional displays and icons
Image credit: Apple / Porsche

We’re not talking about a radical departure from the CarPlay interfaces we’ve seen to date. Porsche’s mockup shows a home screen with a few new displays and icons, but it’s largely the same look that has become a mainstay in new cars today. 

These changes highlight a growing divide between automakers willing to embrace and progress the technology and those who feel differently. General Motors announced that it would no longer install Apple CarPlay in its new EVs, favoring Google’s services, but others have taken a softer approach, with companies like Ford saying they’d hold onto the tech. Tesla and a couple of others have never embraced the interface, instead relying on their own systems, but the car-buying public hasn’t expressed the same love for in-house systems over their preferred Apple interface. 

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Ariel Atom 4
Buying GuidesFeatures

10 lightweight sports cars you can buy today

Anyone looking for pure, svelte driver’s cars that are fun to whip around on weekend trips up and down PCH should look no further.  The beautiful idea of well-balanced power-to-weight ratios is usually best represented in lightweight sports cars. From 2+2s to roadsters, they provide a lightweight chassis, balanced handling, and a thrilling driving experience. Every day driving through crowded intersections, windy roads, or the track on weekends, the versatility of these modern machines offers a unique fun-to-drive factor. 

Nowadays, many lightweight sports cars provide approachable driving characteristics and price points that won’t absolutely break the bank. However, there are some that will push your driving skills and bank accounts to new limits. Anyone interested in the lightest sports cars that can be purchased this year should look no further. 

Mazda MX-5 Miata (ND)

Weight: 2,341 pounds

What’s hot?

  • Undoubtedly the most nimble drive on sale
  • Impressive fuel efficiency

What’s not?

  • A bit cramped for the average American
  • Can get expensive as you climb the trim ladder

The Mazda MX-5 Miata has spent decades maintaining its reputation for giving nothing less than a spirited driving experience. For those who can fit comfortably within its front mid-engine layout, there’s so much to appreciate with the classic yet modern feel. Top-down in the convertible option or closed in, there’s nothing like Mazda’s little roadster.

“ND2” variants and newer pack a 2.0-liter engine with about 181 horsepower and deliver a zippy yet smooth ride. The recently revealed ND3 adds updated tech and a retuned steering rack geared for improved precision and feel. Its manual or automatic transmission options ensure quick acceleration in approximately six seconds from 0 to 60 mph, although magazines have extracted even better test numbers from such a spritely car. Built for rear-wheel drive and agile handling, it promises overwhelmingly enjoyable driving.

Subaru BRZ and Toyota GR86

Weight: 2,815 pounds

What’s hot?

  • Powerful engine for the price 
  • Awesome, track-capable handling 

What’s not?

  • Most hot hatches are quicker nowadays
  • Not the most practical entry-level performance car

Behold a fan favorite here at Acceleramota and one our editor has recently had the opportunity of road-tripping. The Toyota and Subaru collaboration has left the BRZ as the surviving and thriving of the two, at least in the wake of the GR86’s reportedly out-of-wack markups. Its agile handling, rear-wheel-drive dynamics, and precise steering are becoming just as recognizable as its boxer engine. The 86’s and BRZ’s balanced performance, affordability, and enthusiast-focused design captivate drivers seeking a truly engaging ride.

The second-gen Toyobaru platform continues its legacy with a 2.4-liter naturally-aspirated boxer engine, producing 228 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Paired with a choice of a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission, it boasts rear-wheel drive, a lower center of gravity, improved handling, and a refined chassis for an exhilarating driving experience. 2024 BRZ models now launch with EyeSight safety assists and a hot new tS model, while GR86s gain their own suite of similar safety tech and an Initial D fanboy-spec Trueno model.

Honda CR-Z

Weight: 2,639 pounds

What’s hot?

  • Sporty look and handling 
  • Fantastic hybrid fuel economy 

What’s not?

  • Rear visibility is a bit poor
  • Tiny size means it’s not for hoarders or Ubers

Discontinued in 2016, the Honda CR-Z was a sporty hybrid coupe that blended efficiency with style.  Its innovative design featured a 1.5-liter engine paired with an electric motor, offering a modest 122 horsepower. The CR-Z is now appreciated in the used market for its unique hybrid concept and agile handling.

The 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine coupled with a hybrid electric motor generates a combined output of 122 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque (123 pound-feet in CVT cars). Inventive for its time, the Honda CR-Z was one of the rare hybrid sports cars to be equipped with a six-speed manual alongside its CVT transmission. They weren’t fast! But they were spritely enough. And to have a sporty, manual hybrid econobox that could zip to 60 in under ten seconds in the early 2010s was something to brag about. I guess. Maybe. Supercharged CR-Z HPD, anyone?

Alfa Romeo 4C

Weight: 2,487 pounds

What’s hot?

  • Efficient yet powerful engine 
  • Great mini-supercar handling 

What’s not?

  • Lacks good rear-view visibility and cargo room
  • What in the heck is that 2 Fast 2 Furious radio radio unit?

Lightweight design, turbocharged power, and exceptional agility make the Alfa Romeo 4C as legendary as it was divisive… Like, really divisive. Still cool, though! And still a featherweight worthy of this list. With striking aesthetics and racing DNA, it captivated enthusiasts. Offering a unique blend of performance, analog purity, and style, its departure leaves a void in the realm of iconic sports cars.

The Alfa Romeo 4C features a 1.7-liter turbocharged engine producing 237 horsepower, paired with a dual-clutch automatic transmission. With a carbon fiber monocoque chassis, it weighed merely 2,487 pounds. This mid-engine sports car could sprint from 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds, boasting impressive performance and agile handling, granted you can get to grips with that manual steering rack.

Lotus Exige

Weight: 2,593 pounds

What’s hot?

  • Top-tier sports car performance
  • Great fuel economy

What’s not?

  • May be difficult to get in and out of
  • The very definition of having a spartan interior

Discontinued in 2021, the final Lotus Exige epitomized automotive excellence. With its lightweight design, remarkable agility, and supercharged engine, the Exige offered an unmatched driving experience. Its aerodynamic finesse and track-focused precision made it a legendary icon among sports cars, capturing enthusiasts with its raw performance.

Before the end of its run, the final-generation Lotus Exige boasted impressive specs. It featured a supercharged Toyota-derived 3.5-liter V6 engine producing up to 345 horsepower. The Exige Cup 430 went even further, pushing roughly 430 horsepower. Weighing around 2,500 pounds, it sprinted from 0 to 60 mph in about 3.5 seconds, although earlier four-cylinder variants were even lighter than that, tipping in at a hair beneath one ton. Its aerodynamics, coupled with a six-speed manual gearbox, ensured exceptional handling and track performance.

Ariel Atom

Weight: 1,349 pounds

What’s hot?

  • Unique go-cart x Formula car design
  • Wicked fast and impossibly nimble, given its design

What’s not?

  • Not very practical for daily drivers… like, at all
  • Rare and expensive

The Ariel Atom’s thrill lies in its “no-frills” design, boasting crazy speed and handling. Its lightweight structure and powerful engine make it feel like driving a rocket. It’s an open-air, Formula 1-like experience, an adrenaline rush for anyone seeking pure, unadulterated driving joy or to show the Spec Miata club racers that it is not they who have been chosen to wield one of the UK’s finest.

Sourcing a Honda 2.0-liter i-VTEC or supercharged 2.4-liter mill, depending on the model, the Ariel Atom can hit 60 in under three seconds. However, should you yearn for more, the newly-minted Ariel Atom 4 sports a turbocharged Civic Type R motor, and yesteryear’s limited Ariel Atom 500 rocked a firebreathing 3.0-liter 500-horsepower V8. Other features include a six-speed gearbox and finely tuned suspension. Goggles or eyeglasses, not included, but you’ll need them.

McLaren 600LT

Weight: 3,099 pounds

What’s hot?

  • Blistering supercar speed
  • Agile handling

What’s not?

  • Questionable McLaren reliability 
  • Probably the most expensive car here

McLaren’s limited Longtail series production might have shifted focus recently, but the McLaren 600LT excels due to its potent 592-hp twin-turbo V8, track-focused Longtail design, and exceptional handling. Introduced in 2018, this model showcased McLaren’s racing heritage like no other in the form of a lighter, more ferocious iteration of its Sports Series 570S model.

The McLaren 600LT features a 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine producing 592 horsepower, enabling it to hit 60 mph in approximately 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 204 mph. Sporting a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, it flaunts a track-focused design with advanced aerodynamics, carbon fiber components, and precise handling.

Audi TT

Weight: 3,197 pounds

What’s hot?

  • Awesome, baby supercar design
  • Matches handling with true sports car acceleration

What’s not?

  • Back seats are pretty useless
  • Not as engaging as other cars in its class

Sleek style and turbocharged performance make the Audi TT an outstanding coupe. It’s a dandy little sports car with the look and handling of performance cars far more expensive. Baby R8, maybe? You’re right. Too far-fetched.

The 2024 Audi TT boasts a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, delivering around 228 horsepower. Its lightning-quick seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and all-wheel drive system offer superb handling. Hotted-up S variants turn up the wick further to 292 horsepower, while a 400-horsepower, turbo five-cylinder TT RS model sits atop the food chain as a bonafide baby supercar. 

Mini Cooper John Cooper Works

Weight: 2,892 pounds

What’s hot?

  • Punchy powertrain
  • Handling is top-tier

What’s not? 

  • Expensive for a hot hatch
  • Not so “mini” anymore

The 2024 Mini Cooper John Cooper Works epitomizes thrilling performance in a compact package. With its turbocharged engine, precise handling, and iconic design, this model offers an exhilarating driving experience. Its fusion of style, agility, and power makes it an outstanding choice for car enthusiasts seeking an extraordinary ride.

Boasting a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that produces around 228 horsepower, the Mini Cooper John Cooper Works is paired with a six-speed manual or optional automatic transmission. However, should you wish, older variants with a 1.6-liter supercharged four-banger deliver their own kind of raucous fun. The current model’s enhanced suspension, Brembo brakes, 18-inch wheels, and sport-tuned exhaust system ensure agile handling and a thrilling driving experience, granted you can live with the lofty price tag new Minis are capable of.

Porsche 911 S/T

Weight: 3,056 pounds

What’s hot?

  • Perhaps one of, if not the best, driver’s car on sale today
  • Delightfully premium interior 

What’s not?

  • Could still be too hardcore for some, despite its road-oriented bias
  • Forget what I said about the McLaren’s price. This will make the dreamers cry

The 2024 Porsche 911 S/T kills for many reasons, as the lightest model from the hallowed German company one can purchase today. Its sleek design, coupled with a robust twin-turbo engine, delivers unparalleled performance. Cutting-edge technology seamlessly integrates with luxurious comfort, making every drive an exhilarating experience, setting a new benchmark.

Based on the 911 GT3 and copying the homework of the acclaimed 911 R, the S/T boasts a naturally-aspirated 4.0-liter flat-six engine and pushes around 518 horsepower. It accelerates to 60 mph in approximately 3.5 seconds. Equipped with God’s gift, a wonderfully analog six-speed stick managing power to the rear wheels, it’s as pure as a modern sports car driving experience can be. Good luck getting your hands on one, even if you have the dough.

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BMW X3 M and X4 M
Buying GuidesFeatures

Five fast compact SUVs you can get for under $100K in 2023

Behold our Fast Five! Er, Fast Five for the whole family. If you want a compact SUV that offers space for you and your family but also would want a surge of power available when you want it. Compact SUVs can offer you the best of both worlds, as you can get a fun, sporty, non-snoozeville vehicle that drives well while still delivering enough space for grocery hauls and IKEA expeditions. Having one of the fastest compact SUVs on the market can be a major benefit as you do not need to worry about being late for any event, whether it be the driver’s meeting at the track, the campground at the end of the trail, or soccer practice down the street. Without further ado, allow me to walk you through the sprightlier side of these glorified lifted hatchbacks. 

2023 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands (hold your horses and bear with us)

Top Speed: 121 MPH

What’s hot?

  • Conquer trails with Ford’s G.O.A.T system
  • The customization options you get with the Bronco family allow you to create your own custom Bronco Sport 

What’s not?

  • Expensive as far as its class goes
  • It may be too compact for some families

Stop! Hear me out. I know everything on this list is a little spendy. A little bit on the affluent side of sub-six-figures. However, the Ford Bronco Sport Badlands is one of the fastest sub-compact SUVs you can get new in the American car market this low down in the price bracket. As the Bronco Sport is just as capable as its bigger brother, you can go anywhere in Bronco Sport while also getting there quickly. A great reason to look at the Bronco Sport Badland edition is the customization you can get from Ford, allowing you to have the best Bronco. And although its price can get a little lofty as far as compact crossovers are concerned, it’s still among the most frugal and pennywise offerings in Ford’s stable. Looking at you, Lightning.

Being the most capable compact SUV on the list doesn’t make the Ford Bronco a slouch. With a proven top speed well into the 120-mph range, you can tackle any interstate with this SUV, given you have a decent lawyer. The Ford Bronco gets its power from a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four, producing a staggering (for its breed) 250 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque, enabling it to hit 60 in under six seconds in the hands of magazine test teams. Bronco Sport ST, maybe?

Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB 35

Top Speed: 155 MPH (electronically limited)

What’s hot?

  • Can be specced with seven seats if you really need it
  • The 4Matic all-wheel drive balances sporty driving and all-weather capability

What’s not?

  • Currently no hotter “45” model like the AMG GLAs 
  • Notable wind and tire noise

When you hear the word AMG, you immediately think of German power and performance. A diminutive four-banger box probably isn’t part of that image, yet here we are. Enter the Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB 35. With the refined nature of the Mercedes and its performance, you get the AMG badge, making it one of the fastest small SUV options to get. 

Producing 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque coming from a 2.0l turbocharged inline-four, you get a top speed of 155 MPH, which is actually electronically limited. With a 0-60 MPH of 5.1 seconds that you get from the eight-speed automatic gearbox, you will be able to beat most commuter cars and even some entry-level sports cars off the line. 

Audi SQ5 Sportback

Top Speed: 155 MPH (electronically limited)

What’s hot?

  • Still gets decent fuel economy
  • Modern and luxurious interior

What’s not?

  • Price can inflate rapidly
  • Audi’s definition of high performance can be a timid drive for some 

Its premium luxury look and feel are mixed in with speed and power. The Audi SQ5 Sportback will always impress those who drive it, even if it’s not the hottest or fiercest thing in its field. With styling cues from the larger and far more imposing Audi RS Q8 models, you get a premium compact SUV that is also one of the fastest compact SUVs, and it delivers on its mission with heaps of swag and style for the money.

Being limited to a top speed of 155 mph from a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6, you get a staggering 349 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque to play with. The SQ5 has an eight-speed automatic that accelerates 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds. All this performance goes through the Audi Quattro all-wheel drive system, allowing you to use all the power anytime. 

Porsche Macan GTS

Top Speed: 163 MPH

What’s hot?

  • One of the sharpest and most dynamic crossovers, period
  • It has a very sporty seating position

What’s not?

  • Among the costlier options here and can easily inflate deep into the six figures
  • It may be quite big for some people

Given the Porsche Macan GTS is, uh, well, a Porsche, it will always be a head-turner and a genuine performer wherever you take it. Porsche translates its vast knowledge of legendary sports cars into something that gives its customers one of the fastest compact SUVs on the market.

The Macan has evolved a bit over several years, but know the current GTS’ 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 creates 434 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque. These staggering figures allow the Macan GTS to have an acceleration of 0-60 time of 3.5 seconds in the hands of magazine test teams. That’s up there with the best sports cars today and was supercar territory merely a decade or so ago. All this power gets sent to all four wheels through Porsche’s acclaimed seven-speed PDK dual-clutch.

BMW X3 M and X4 M Competition 

Top Speed: 177 MPH 

What’s hot?

  • Porsche-rivaling stats
  • One of the most sports car-like in its field

What’s not?

  • Some may find the ride a bit too harsh. 
  • Go ahead. Buy the X4. Show us how little taste you have. 

Being one of the fastest compact SUVs on the market, the BMW X4 M and X3 M Competition deliver performance in spades, more so than many other performance SUVs on the market, big or small. As part of the M family of cars, their turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six powertrains carry over from the BMW M3 sedan and M4 coupe. The BMW X3 and X4 are mechanically identical, but the X4 bears that iconically controversial coupe-inspired design that the world loves to hate. Not that ugly is anything new to BMW.

The Competition package turns up the wick with 503 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, a healthy leap from the base cars’ 473 horsepower and 457 pound-feet. All this power goes through an eight-speed automatic to an all-wheel-drive system. The resulting performance figures are a 0-60 time of 3.3 seconds and a top speed of 177 MPH.

Bronco Sport Meme
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

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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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Motorsports Coffee Table Books by Sheilah Villari
Features

The best motorsports coffee table books for all racing fans

A good coffee table book can elevate the décor of your entire room. If you have frequent visitors, they are excellent conversation starters, especially if they are fans of the material. Keeping a neat and well-designed stack on a table in the living room, placed by a bed, or lovingly nestled on a prominent shelf tells your guests, “Yes, I am a car nerd.” Each book can serve as a beautiful centerpiece and elevate you beyond a casual fan to an elite gearhead, serving as a testament to your nerdery. Any of these would make a fantastic gift for the garage guru in your life, too. Especially now, we made sure to get all the motorsports enthusiasts in on this, not just the Formula 1 die-hards! Just some food for thought with the holidays fast approaching.

1) Owners’ Workshop Manuals

These Owners’ Workshop Manuals are such a nice touch to have out in your home. Instance cool points. This McLaren M23 book is currently on my coffee table. These are great because you can build your own set, as there are many out there from different decades and constructors. Each book is a comprehensive guide to the history of the car and its era within F1.

Outside of just being very well put together, each of these manuals has an encyclopedic look into builds and tales of both the liveries and the teams. There are quite of few floating around, so start your pile today. Buy the McLaren one above, or try out the Lotus, Ferrari, Red Bull, and/or Brabham editions! You’ll definitely get a complete view of where car tech was at each of the timeframes of the books, as well as where F1 was in motorsports history.

2) NASCAR 75 Years

This has certainly been a year of anniversaries for motorsports, and NASCAR hit its 75th birthday. I grew up a huge NASCAR fan (there are serval Polaroids of me in Dale Jarret gear). I was so excited when they announced this book. If you know anything about NASCAR, its origin is interesting, to say the least. If you’re a ’90s baby, there is no way you didn’t remember the rise of Jeff Gordon with the dominance of Dale Earnhardt. You didn’t have to watch to know who they were and their impact on American culture.

The alluring archived photos are meticulously placed amongst some of the most thrilling stories from the last 75 years. Given the growing interest in motorsports and IndyCar within the US, this is a lovely representation of an organization that I hope is on the upswing again.

3) Schumacher: The Official Inside Story of the Formula One Icon

Another entry plucked straight from my coffee table. No matter who you are a fan of, there is no doubt Schumacher is the greatest driver to step into a Formula One car. Given his current health, having a book of his history in his own words and memories is something to covet. Schumacher was the undisputed king of F1 and broke almost every record in his time in the sport. Seeing his life within motorsports through his eyes is special, especially for newer fans.

This book takes you right up to the tale end of his World Championship supremacy, for time reference. And if you are a Mick supporter, there are plenty of adorable snapshots of the blonde-haired babe growing up. A dynamic career marvelously preserved, the legacy Schumacher is leaving behind makes for the perfect book for any F1 fan’s coffee table.

4) Porsche at Le Mans: 70 Years

Le Mans hit its centennial race this year back in June, and Porsche is well a part of that story. With over 19 Le Man wins, Porsche’s prominence in France made perfect sense for an all-encompassing coffee table book. Earlier in the year, I was lucky enough to attend the screening of the documentary Racing With Giants: Porsche at Le Mans. I even interviewed Le Mans and Porsche veteran Patrick Long there.

Psst, give my interview a peep!

The history of this race and this team is rich and deep. Hundreds of photos were foraged from the very beginning in 1951 all the way to 2021. This coffee table book is a rich, sweeping history of Porsche’s victories and exploits at La Sarthe. Spyders, GTs, hybrids, oh my! Get first-hand stories from Le Mans legends like Jacky Ickx, Mario Andretti, and Helio Castroneves, to name a few. I highly recommend checking out the documentary and our article before getting cozy with this enticing book.

5) IMSA 1969 to 1989

And now for something completely different! If you’re newer to motorsports and want to look at the history of different racing series, IMSA is a great one. The International Motor Sports Association was founded in 1969 and is the North American sanctioning body for all things sports car racing. If the name sounds familiar, that would be because they are actually a division of NASCAR.

This coffee table book covers the first 20 years and was compiled by the founders’ son. The prestige in that first-hand perspective presents such a magical look at one of the most accessible forms of racing in the US. If you’ve ever wanted to see racing in the States, this is a gateway, for sure. Flipping through, you’ll get a compelling visual story of design, politics, and how the management of this GT series’ lessons are still in practice today in motor racing worldwide.

6) RACEWKND World Champions

While technically less of a book and more of a photo collage, you can still add it to any coffee table for heaps of extra personality! These look dope, and you don’t even need to be a fan. Just have working eyes! This large-scale issue is one of many from the publisher, and they are all fabulous. In the first series, the magazine focuses on legends of F1 (past and present). In collection two, they focus on our favorite constructors of Formula 1.

This issue centers around World Champions like Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton. Rainer Schlegelmilch opened up his archives to feature never-before-seen photos. Read about the evolution of the FIA from the ’50s to the present day. If you want one of these, I would suggest purchasing it as soon as possible, as these are not being reprinted.

7) Formula 1 Circuits: Maps and statistics from every Grand Prix track

If you’ve ever been curious about the statistics and records of each of the circuits in the history of F1, this is the coffee table book for you. Featuring all 77 circuits used in the many, many years of Formula One, discover hidden trivia and lesser-known tales from each. The book is laid out chronologically, starting with the first Grand Prix in Monza.

Keep an eye on 1978. That’s when my favorite track opens. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal has quite the history and is one of the best races on the calendar. You also get bespoke digital maps of every course. A very nice touch, indeed.

8) BMW M: 50 Years of the Ultimate Driving Machines

I see BMW M gear all over when out and about. Like, literally everywhere I go. The M-Series stands for Motorsport, which first appeared in 1972 for the historic German manufacturer. This coffee table book celebrates the 50th anniversary and deep dives into the range of famous M models that have been designed over the decades. This is an excellent gift to surprise a Bimmer fan with.

Or just that one poser kid who really likes the M clothes to go with their 335i M Sport.

9) Le Mans 100: A Century at the World’s Greatest Endurance Race

As aforementioned, we celebrated 100 years of Le Mans this year. The world-renowned race of 24 Hours at Circuit de la Sarthe is a sight and experience to behold. The fact that we have preserved a century’s worth of races, personalities, triumphs, and heartbreaks is nothing short of mesmerizing. We know you’ll recognize the usual favorites like Porsche, Ferrari, Ford, Aston Martin, Mercedes, McLaren, to name a few. But learning about how lesser racing “brands “have contributed to not just the track’s history but the sport’s metamorphosis is just as rewarding. The innovation that comes from Le Mans is hands down my favorite element about this storied race.

What was always a bit confusing that this coffee table book does a good job of touching on is the different classes. All the classes that have run are explained, and favorites are spotlighted. So you’ll get a full breakdown of the Le Mans Prototype and GT categories. This alone is so helpful in understanding where the race standards currently are.

10) Formula Ferrari: The First Official Inside Story of the Most Successful Team in the History of Formula 1

Another fine specimen from my exhibit! This book is a superb telling of the story of the world-renowned and beloved prancing horse brand. It is a bit older than other books on the list but still full of juicy Prancing Horse tidbits. I’m a sucker for old motorsport photos, especially from the ’80s and ’90s when everything was a little grainy and the antithesis of 4K resolution. It gives a lot of oh-so-delightfully nostalgic charm to them.

This book sits atop my Schumacher one, and together, they make me look like a Ferrari superfan… which I’m really not, but even I still enjoy both of these. What sets this book apart from others about the brand is that it’s the first sanctioned telling of their story, completely blessed by the Ferrari family. And having one of the most respected Italian sports journalists compile this tale doesn’t hurt either.

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Patrick Long with Porsche at Le Mans
Features

Behind the wheel with Patrick Long: A conversation with Porsche’s American Le Mans legend

This is a year of milestones for motorsports. 75 years of NASCAR, McLaren’s 60th anniversary, and of course, the centenary of the Le Mans 24 Hour. Le Mans is a special race for many reasons, and this year was no exception. Ferrari’s return to the podium, the intrigue of Garage 56, and 75 years of Porsche. 

Porsche has dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans, winning its first race in 1970 with 18 more victories to follow. After seeing Hagerty’s documentary, Racing With Giants: Porsche at Le Mans, I had the chance to speak with Patrick Long – the only American to become a factory driver for Porsche since the German manufacturer was founded nearly a century ago. His track record speaks for itself, having won Le Mans twice and podiumed five times in the 16 times he’s completed what is famously one of the most demanding races in the world.

Given his pedigree as a linchpin in Porsche’s dominating presence at Le Mans for over a decade, it was a no-brainer to have the charming Californian share some of his secrets with the Acceleramota readership. And because I’m me, I started our conversation by bringing up Jenson Button, who raced Le Mans with Garage 56 this year. In his book, How to Be an F1 Driver, Jenson, a good friend of Long’s, explains the vast differences between the preparations for this race and a race in Formula 1.

“I’ve known Jenson for over 25 years, he’s always been at the top of his game physically but this is a different kind of physicality. “Mentally, it is a long, sustained burn. You’re in a constant state of reset, reset, reset,” Long told me.

A team in the 24 Hour of Le Mans consists of three drivers, each of whom must race for at least six hours, but no more than 14. If that sounds intimidating, that’s sort of the point. Long drove Le Mans 15 consecutive times, and it wasn’t until the later years that he began to enjoy it.

Every minute matters. If you’ve seen Ford v Ferrari, you have an idea just how high the stakes can be. So precious is the price of perfection at Le Mans. “One small slip up and you aren’t even near the podium,” Long explained. The clock is always ticking.

Le Mans is and always will be a race of innovation. Long couldn’t stress this enough. “The technology of the cars changed a lot,” he said. For the manufacturer, the effects of making the best car possible are two-fold: Sure, with victory, there’s honor and glory, but the outcome of a race has a consequential influence over the next generation of road cars. What works on the track won’t always translate seamlessly to your Cayman or 911, but the ideas trickle down.

“I’m proud to say when I first went, it was H-pattern, three pedals… old school,” Long said. And that has to be rewarding in its own right, experiencing technological advancement as it transcended. Learning and growing with the times.

Patrick Long being introduced as a Porsche factory driver while driving a car in the Hagerty documentary Racing With Giants: Porsche at Le Mans
Image credit: Hagerty

“I’ll tell you my physicality probably went down a notch, but my mental stress went up when we got air conditioning,” Long admitted. “It depletes you in such a different way when you’re pounding the car ten-tenths every lap.” 

20 years ago, you’d have the time to break and fix things on the fly without compromising your position to win. Not so much anymore. As cars become more capable and more resilient, drivers have to make do with fewer stops along the way.

“I’ll tell you what, the cars can really take a beating now; the floors, the suspension, hitting the curbs and just leaning on the cars.” The unfathomable force that propels the drivers of Le Mans is not to be underestimated, especially at speeds over 200mph.

Patrick Long being interviewed in the Hagerty documentary Racing With Giants: Porsche at Le Mans
Image credit: Hagerty

Tires have come a long way as well. “They can take so much more impact and you can run them so hard for the entire stint without drop off,” Long points out.

Le Mans is still a race of fortified mental strength, however, even with the upgraded gear. “I do enjoy the older stuff a bit more as it makes this a thinking man’s race, strategic.”

Herculean endurance conditions aside, what sets Le Mans apart from other high-profile races, particularly in the United States, is the cultural diversity. “Racing with American teams, German teams, French teams … can all be so different in communication style, but in the end, the objective is international.” Living proof that a winning mentality is its own universal language.

It’s in the downtime that these distinctions become more readily apparent. In his book, Jenson wasn’t exaggerating when he mentioned that while racing with Italians, the espresso machines were working overtime. “The height of the coffee is how you knew who was from where,” Long joked.

“Where there is a language barrier, it can be very frustrating,” he added, going on to describe the importance of bringing in interpreters to disseminate pertinent information not easily communicated between team members with varying native tongues. “Talk to the team, they run the show. Get me that answer quickly or vice-versa.” 

This came in handy when Long started racing with actor (and now professional racing driver) Patrick Dempsey, who had a lot he could learn from more seasoned drivers. “I raced [at Le Mans] three years in a row with Dempsey – communication is so important at high speeds. It’s high stress.”

And Dempsey isn’t alone. In fact, celebrity actors are having a moment in motorsports. Michael Fassbender raced with Proton this year, driving a Porsche 911 no less. Nicholas Hoult recently participated in Ferrari’s Challenge racing series. And Frankie Muniz now drives full-time in the ARCA Menards Series for Rette Jones Racing.

But while some are approaching motor racing from a place of genuine passion, just as many celebrities and multi-millionaires are jumping on the bandwagon because they can, and have the deep pockets to do so. 

“There has always been a love affair between Hollywood and Le Mans.” Dempsey grew up aspiring to this race, it was a life goal. Like climbing Everest or running the New York Marathon. It’s the ultimate challenge to get there. 

“Yes, it takes money, but it takes qualification.” There is a certain level of humbling that happens for many celebrities who set out to achieve the same level of prestige in racing as they have in Hollywood. Doing so takes commitment. “Putting in the hours to get you to a place where you aren’t a danger to yourself or others is true dedication.” 

In their first year racing together, Long emphasized Dempsey’s initial trepidation with performance driving, even with the proper training. “I was so on edge and not comfortable with his driving.” But Dempsey didn’t relent. He gave Long full control over his training regiment and often covered the cost of resources. “He was so trusting of me and engaged. I believe that’s why he’s been more successful where others have not been.”

Dempsey finished second in his class in 2015, harkening back to Paul Newman who finished second overall in 1979. “What Patrick achieved in the modern day is nothing short of brilliant,” Long commended.

Actor Patrick Dempsey celebrating victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans
Image credit: Porsche

It was fascinating seeing the two Patricks cross paths, as Long was at the pinnacle of his career at the time. “I was in a factory car, with all factory drivers, racing in my home country when I got the call.” Dempsey wouldn’t take no for an answer. Long recalled Dempsey’s agent telling him, “You’re the only guy he’ll accept to do this.” Long’s initial uncertainty turned into success at unforeseen levels. “It probably did more for me than staying put where I was.”

“This was certainly one of the proudest moments in my career, emotionally and we came [in] second.” It’s not often you hear a driver say how fulfilling a second-place finish is. “What I saw in him was a true life achievement. That is pretty frickin’ special.”

The relief of crossing the finish line at Le Mans is a feat in its own right, let alone coming in just behind the frontrunner. “We went through so much in those three years, and fair play to Porsche, too, for investing in him.” 

Patrick Long standing next to a vintage "Irish Green" Porsche 911
Image credit: Porsche

Dempsey, who has a reputation for being likable on and off the track, naturally attracted new racing fans. “The engagement numbers Dempsey was pulling in were higher than Audi. His following in France was incredible.”

The experience resulted in an unexpected friendship. Even with his newfound dual-celebrity status, Dempsey remained gracious, polite, and patient, and he certainly didn’t mind the first-class treatment on an international scale.

To see a documentary like Racing with Giants come together alongside this comradery was endearing. Long is a producer as well as a historian, rife with a deep, encyclopedic knowledge of Porsche history, which he himself has helped shape. “There are some great people in this film. It was so nice to bring Patrick [Dempsey] into this project,” Long reflects.

Le Mans is a cornerstone of racing culture, a place where stories of triumph and tenacity are penned in tire tracks and echoed in roaring engines. Porsche, with stalwarts like Patrick Long at the helm, has authored some of the most exhilarating chapters in a 100-year-old spectacle that continues to draw new crowds from exceptional drivers. As automotive technology advances, making motorsports more accessible than ever, time will tell who celebrity protégés like Dempsey will inspire to the podium next.

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