Posts By: Mike Solowiow

By on September 12, 2009

Ecco! Ferrari edition Fiat 500 prototype spotted in the wild. It’s preproduction, 180bhp, Ferrari authorized (with Ferrari shifter), for only 40,000€. It was supposed to be covered up, but being an American, I accidentally pulled the cover off trying to get a BMW CSL out. It was sighted at a racing company in Kelburg, next to the Nurburgring. The owner of the racing shop said it’s overpriced, but drives like a demon.

Last year, Fiat delivered 200 Fiat 500 Ferrari editions to Ferrari dealers for customers to use as courtesy cars while their F430 Scuderia (or whatever) was in for service. However, what was parked casually in the corner, is something completely different. Abarth, in conjunction with Ferrari (styling) tuned this little beast up from its original 100bhp to the screaming 180bhp claimed. A Renault Clio Cup, Megane R26.R, and similar creations all run low 8-minute Bridge-to-Gantry times with a good driver, so a sub-8 minute BTG time for the wickedest 500 yet should be possible… with slicks, and not the street tires fitted to this prototype.

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By on June 23, 2009

The propaganda literature that accompanied the little batch of sleeping pills—complete with a waiver absolving the USAF of all liability—promised that I would awake refreshed and ready to battle desert ninjas. Sure enough, I awoke alert. But mentally, I wasn’t all there. I was fully aware of my full potential, and could access it at will, but there was a disconcerting disconnect. No, I didn’t drive the Cayman PDK in this altered state. It’s the same feeling created by the German two-door. Yes, the paddle-shift Cayman is a full-on Porsche. It offers precise handling, a jewel of an engine and magnificent brakes. Yet the Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe stood in the way of the Porker’s legendary man – machine interface. It created dynamic doubts that I’ve never experienced in a Porsche before.

By on June 16, 2009

Only Paris is worthy of Bentley. Only Bentley worthy of Paris

In order to show visiting US Air Force Academy cadets the wonders of Europe, I ditched my Carrera, whose back seats are merely a nice gesture, for a lumbering Mercedes-Benz GLK. After four hours of driving the speed limited Autoroutes, we arrived at the Eiffel Tower, to throngs of drunk rugby fans celebrating the USAP win that day. Leaving the Mardi Gras spectacle we wandered around the veritable maze of streets that constitute the Seventh Arrondissement. Dodging rugby hooligans whose intentions seemed suspect (as some of us were wearing the opposing team colors), I never expected to stumble upon something so beautiful, so elegant, so alien as a 1955 Bentley S1 Fastback Mulliner parked on a curb in a hidden away section of Paris.

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By on May 20, 2009

I realized I was airborne when my steering inputs had no effect on the direction of my Carrera. At the point the ass-engine configured rocketship started its atmospheric re-entry, several things went through my mind. If the rear-end breaks loose, do I keep my foot down? What happens if I lose it? Am I going to crash? When the rear tires made contact with terra-nurburg, and I was able to counter steer in a brilliant fashion (what really happened was Porsche Active Stability Management once again made me a driving god), all thoughts of impaling my Porker into the Armco ceased,. Once again, I was driving the dream and having the time of my life on the most legendary driving circuit in the world, the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

By on May 15, 2009

I love the way the Volkswagen CC looks. It’s a perfectly proportioned pastiche of everything I admire about BMW, Mercedes and Audi design. The CC is as handsome as the priced-to-fail Phaeton, only more so. Inside, the seats alone are worth the price of admission: firm yet endlessly supportive. The CC’s toy count is high, the price affordable. And, yet, something’s missing. Other than reliability. It’s that vital mojo that makes the Jaguar XF such a joy to behold, and the Mercedes-Benz CLS the ultimate boulevardier. Let’s call it . . . an automatic gearbox.

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By on May 12, 2009

“First shots of the new merc e-class amg. Outran my 911 easily on the autobahn. Its idle wasn’t a v8. Will blog when I get home. [sent from iPhone]”

I frantically typed these words on my (overly) touch sensitive iPhone whilst parked at the Eifel Tankstelle on the A1 Autobahn. I knew the vehicle following me on the B-258 coming back from the Nürburgring was unusual, simply due to its camouflaged fascia hiding massive brake ducts, and some sporty fender bulges.

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By on May 9, 2009

200km/h ticked by on the digital speedo and I was still pressed into the sports seats. 230km/h flashed by, and the scenery of autobahn, cars, and trees started to blur. 260km/h rolled by and I started to think “Holy hell!”. At 303km/h I became a laser-guided Autobahn Cruise Missile. I swear I heard sonic booms echo off the Opels I passed. The Porsche and I were melded at this point, a human-machine interface so cohesive it would take three g’s of braking force from the vented discs to separate us. I thought I had found driving Nirvana at this point, but I was wrong.

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By on May 8, 2009

So the United States finally gets the Nissan Cube, a funky, cool box. From initial impressions, it provides a unique and entertaining driving experience. Meanwhile, here in Western Europe, we get the Nissan Note, a Micra front-ended, Renault Modus-derived piece of crap. To say that I longed for a basic Ford Focus after driving this from Trier all the way to Maastricht, down to Luxembourg, and then back to Trier says a lot. The Note made me angry, so angry in fact that I actually contemplated sabotaging the thing so Sixt Car Rental would replace it. But then I realized they’d probably hand me the keys to yet another sour Note.

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By on April 20, 2009

Audi and BMW have been at each other’s throats since Audi tried to compete with the 2002 by fitting a juiced up Volkswagen engine into its Fox/80 in 1978 to create the GTI/GTE. Now that BWM has trotted out the 335d to supplicate the masses of Americans clamoring for an oil-burning wunder-mobile just like za Germans drive auf der autobahn, Audi has rumored they might bring over something to tempt image conscious yuppies (who still have a job). After sampling the cheapest of the diesels offered in the A4 platform, I can honestly tell Audi, don’t waste your time.

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By on April 18, 2009

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