It's been another stellar month at Source Castle, where we've been busy driving fast cars in a mature and responsible fashion - that's our story and we're sticking to it!
Among the highlights was our group test in this issue where we took an extended road trip in the Jaguar XFR-S, Audi RS7 and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S.
As you'd expect, this wasn't an arduous chore but I'm still astounded how close they were. In fact, I'm writing this before completing the final draft of the road test, and I'm still not sure which is going to come out on top. Each had its own qualities and unique talents that made it surprisingly hard to pick a winner.
Ordinarily, in a test such as this, the cream will rise to the top. The problem we faced was that all three were high-fat, extra-calorie cream. There really wasn't a loser. So I've found myself running back through my notes, looking back at the video (watch it at www.europeancarmag.com), discussing it with the team, asking random strangers. We even posted it to our Facebook page to see which car would get your vote.
In the back of my mind, one car edged marginally ahead, but it's not the same car the rest of the team chose. So the only way to discover whether I crumbled under the weight of democracy or went my own way is to turn the page and read the test because, right now, I genuinely don't know what car has won.
Also featured in this issue is our regular report from the SEMA Show in Vegas. We've highlighted some of our favorite cars and products and have more images at www.europeancarmag.com
I was also asked to present a video for our parent company, which appears on the Motor Trend YouTube channel. I walked through the halls and selected my favorite European and Japanese cars to represent our International Automotive "Tuner" Group. The same was done with our Performance and Truck groups, and all three of us came together after SEMA for a drag race.
We didn't know what the other groups would be bringing, so I went safe and asked BBi Autosport if they'd bring Project Grip - the 997 Porsche 911 Turbo featured on the cover of our 04/13 issue and displayed in the Optima Batteries booth at the show.
The 911 looked spectacular but it was up against a $250,000 race-prepared '67 Mustang Fastback and a $200,000 off-road buggy that wanted to drive over our roof.
The biggest surprise for all of us was that I'd be driving, something I hadn't fully understood in our initial planning meetings and something I'd failed to tell Betim Berisha from BBi. The look on his face when I broke the news was a true Kodak moment!
Unfortunately, the horsepower had been "turned down" before the event from its full 750hp to a meager 600hp. Faced with a lightweight Mustang and some very healthy trash talking from my opposition, the reality of letting down BBi, the tuner scene and myself looked like it was becoming a stark reality.
The biggest problem was engaging gears on the manual transmission. Its combination of carbon clutch and motorsport linkage meant it wasn't responding to my delicate touch.
"Stop being a pussy and shove it into gear," was approximately how Betim coached me, and that seemed to do the trick. I won't spoil the surprise in the video, but would encourage you to visit the Motor Trend channel to watch the footage. We'll post a link on our website as well to help you find it.
Let's just say that honor was upheld...
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