Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Porsche Macan S Review

While we were in Los Angeles, we were lucky enough to be chauffeured around by my friend Ray in his Porsche Macan S. I also got the chance to drive it from Palm Springs to L.A., normally a two-hour journey that actually stretched into almost double that due to a weird Saturday night traffic jam.
This was my first time driving any Porsche SUV, but I have driven larger vehicles by BMW and Mercedes. Generally speaking, I prefer sedans to SUV’s, and have always wondered why someone who needs a four-door doesn’t just buy some kind of BMW sedan. They do come in all sizes and, at least until recently, could be purchased with a manual transmission. Ray himself has owned a slew of cool sedans, including an M5, an M6 Gran Coupe and two Panameras. Why, then, would Ray (or anyone, for that matter), buy a small SUV? Over the course of our 8-day trip, I found out the answer to that question. The short answer Ray would give to the question is simple enough: the Macan is much shorter and easier to manage than a large German sedan, the visibility is excellent, a must when dealing with L.A.’s unpredictable highway traffic jams, and the Macan performs almost exactly like a nice German sedan.

As a frequent passenger in the Macan, I can confirm how nice the interior is. This is no surprise, as Porsche generally gets interiors right. I was able to get comfortable in my seat, whether I was sitting in front or in back. There was more rear leg room than most small-to-medium sedans I have been in. I was initially surprised at the layout of the controls, as most of them are on the console near the shifter, and not actually on the dash. However, one gets used to this easily enough. One pleasant surprise was how much space there was in the trunk. The way the rear of the car stretches out creates a deep space (reminiscent of a 1990 Saab 900 I used to own) where we piled all sorts of things. It even served as a changing table for our 1-year-old on more than one occasion. I was really impressed with the trunk space, when you consider the overall compact size of the vehicle and the good legroom available front and rear.

How does the Macan drive? The acceleration, as with many modern turbo engines, was really impressive. There is a lot of power available, all the time. The car just goes when you ask it to. As for the handling, I noticed that Ray barely slowed down for many off-ramps, and the Macan just took it. When I tried the same maneuver, I realized how confidence-inspiring the handling was. The combination of all-wheel-drive and real summer tires (in quite a large size) easily overcomes any concerns one might have about a slightly higher center of gravity. At road speeds, the Macan just felt like a well-sorted sedan with a higher seating position. The Macan also dealt with bumpy roads remarkably well and soaked up all but the worst road imperfections without becoming unsettled in the least.

So basically, although I would prefer to be driving around in my older BMW coupe, I can now fully understand why someone would buy a Macan, especially in L.A. It has the space, practicality and driving position of a small SUV with most of the qualities of a German sport sedan. What’s not to love? 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Last night I got off the couch...

... and went running. Both boys were in bed, it was still 4 degrees outside, and there was no snow or ice on the road. My calf seemed to have healed, so there was no real reason not to go. I had not been in 3 or 4 months.

I started out slowly, but feeling good. I felt out of shape (cardio-wise), and my legs felt heavy. In the second half of the run, several of my leg muscles felt quite tight, including my calf. Still, I managed to finish the run, the last kilometer in the rain.

I felt pretty darn good afterwards, however, and I'm glad I got off the couch and did it. I am a bit sore this morning, but I'm pretty sure it's just the regular soreness of having run after a long break, and not the sign of any injury. My calf will get a true test this Friday at basketball.

On an unrelated topic, check out this lovely E30 M3, which, incredibly, I spotted parked on the street on December 26th:

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Car Spotting in L.A.

So I don't really have that many car spotting photos from L.A. as I was almost always in the car when I saw cool stuff and therefore not in a position to take pictures. Here are a few that I did manage to take.

A rare and very clean Porsche 968
The AMG GT looks awesome in this colour
I still prefer the AMG SLS to the GT though
Clean little Toyota AE86
A Mugen Civic Si sedan, not available in Canada
First time I had seen the new BMW 7-series
There were dozens of Rolls-Royce in Beverly Hills, but this one really stood out (for all the wrong reasons)
One thing I noticed was that many people had parked cars on their properties that did not seem to get much use. Some of these cars were really cool. These four cars were all located within a kilometer of my friend Ray's house.

Right across from Ray's house, no real roof on it...
I think this Mercedes 6.9 was the only one I have ever seen in person. At least it looked road-worthy. 
Far from road-worthy: a Fiat 500 shell parked sideways in this large car-port
This MG Midget was also probably drivable

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Top 10 spots of 2015

I have gone through my cell phone pictures from 2015, and come up with my top 10 car spots of 2015. Here goes!

#10 This lovely 911 Turbo 3.6 was spotted near my house.
#9 The Aventador is really something special on the road, it really looks like it comes from another planet
#8 This E-Type was in stunning condition and really stood out.
#7 Not that rare in the big picture, but I love these Ford GT's
#6 Another unexpected spot near the office, a super rare 964 Carrera RS America
#5 I spotted this unusually coloured McLaren at the track at Tremblant. Very nice.
#4 I don't know if this was a real 911 ST, but it was really nice and had a lot of presence
#3 I did not expect to see a Ferrari F12 in winter... I applaud the owner for actually using his supercar in winter
#2 This SLS AMG Black Edition was an unexpected spot, especially parked on the street
#1 The Lexus LFA was an unexpected spot with immense presence on the road.
Honourable mentions:

The car is not that special, but seeing it actually driven in winter conditions was pretty cool.
The Aston Martin Vainquish is really the car that started off the modern era of really cool Astons
I love the way these cars look... such presence on the street!
These R32 GT-R's seem to be getting more and more rare. This one was in really nice condition.

Welcome to 2016!

With the holidays and our trip to L.A, I haven't had the time to post here, so here is a short post about posts to come.

I got back to the office yesterday. We arrived home from our 8-day trip to L.A. on Monday night. It was a fantastic trip, which involved visiting the city, the desert and the beach. We stayed with my old friend Ray, and he was a fantastic and generous host. I will write a much more detailed post, including a post devoted solely to our visit to the Petersen Automotive Museum, when I have had time to sort through all the pictures we took. There won't be a massive car-spotting thread, as most cars I saw were from the passenger seat in my friend Ray's car, which is not ideal for taking pictures. 

The holiday break was not exactly relaxing, but it was still pretty great. Oscar is still not sleeping through the night, so Alex and I never feel fully rested, and it takes an hour to put Jules to bed, but the boys are so much fun that it almost makes me forget that Alex and I have so little free time together. We did manage to go see a movie one evening before the trip (Star Wars - The Force Awakens, which I quite enjoyed) thanks to my Mom. Jules is getting to an age where he can look forward to and enjoy opening presents, which is pretty fun for the parents. 

The weather at Christmas time was record-breaking-warm, and there was no snow yet when we left for L.A. Imagine our surprise when we returned not only to snow on the ground, but freezing cold temperatures. Still, over all, it is not that bad, and it's supposed to be above freezing again by the weekend. 

Here are a couple of preview panoramic photos from the trip, until I have time to write something up.