November 2013 archive

Porsche Macan: the compact SUV

Maria Sharapova is a global brand ambassador for Porsche

Porsche has just unveiled the new Macan Mini SUV at last week’s LA Auto Show. The mini SUV is fast taking off as a style, size and body shape that we want to be driving. 4WD options, good boot space, a bit of height, a bit of heft and plenty of room for your life (such as my neighbour who has a dog, three really cool kids and works as a homewares stylist, so you can imagine what she manages to fit into her car) and a lot more style than the ‘tanks’ is what these models are all about.

Let’s look quickly at the detail:

  • The Porsche Macan is hotly tipped to be the biggest-selling Porsche in Australia within the year. This is going to be THE car to drive.
  • It’s name is derived from the Indonesian word for Tiger. RAWR.
  • The Macan is 1.5 metres smaller and 200 kgs lighter than the Cayenne (who is getting a facelift next year).
  • It’s arriving in Australia in early 2014.
  • There are three models in the Macan range, all 7-speed and all 6-cylinder. These three hotties will comprise the S, Diesel S, and Turbo.
  • It’s pretty fast, with the Turbo having nailed the Nurburgring in the low-eight-minute range, which pitches it up against the BMW M3 for pace.
  • There are unconfirmed rumours that the Macan will come out in a 4-cylinder, lower-cost model, but no formal announcement has been made.
  • The buzz is that the interiors are what you’d expect from Porsche.
  • The price for the Australian market is yet to be confirmed.

So shall we perv on the Macan? From the images provided so far, glossy black, charcoal, cobalt and ruby red look to be the colour range, although final specs haven’t been released, and we don’t know if all options will be available in Australia yet.

Porsche Macan Lipstick and Gearsticks

The Porsche Macan

So what is the Macan, at the luxury level, lining up against? The Range Rover Evoque, the Audi Q5 (the Audi Q5 and Macan will be sharing a body platform), the BMW X3 and the yet-to-be-released Jaguar SUV.

Looking at the day-to-day major brands doing a good job of the fast-growing mini-SUVs, the Nissan Dualis is brilliant and a huge personal favourite of ours. I’ve got a creepy feeling the Dualis will be the next thing in my driveway. The brand-new Suzuki S-Cross is another goodie and the Skoda Yeti has definitely carved a place for itself. These three cars are similar in size and dimension to each other, and at just one foot longer than the Dualis, the Macan is undeniably Porsche in its styling.

Porsche and the female customer

Porsche is an iconic sportscar brand and has been actively been chasing the female driver (and enjoying record sales figures), having appointed Maria Sharapova as a global brand ambassador last year. While we’re talking marketing and branding, Porsche having moved into 4-door / SUV stylings with the Cayenne and Panamera has opened up the market for people who have always adored the brand and the excitement it stands for, but still have kids, dogs and groceries to deal with. The more female-centric, day-to-day approach has seen sales of Porsche’s to women nearly double from 8% to 15% in the last two years alone. The marketing has been all Porsche and stayed true to the brand.

We’d love to see more colour choice, actually scrap that, more innovative colours. Glamourous metallic red wines, or sexy petrol teals, or an Emerald green to drop jaws. Now that’s what would make the Macan a must-buy for me.

What do you think of Porsche heading into compact SUV territory? And what colour would you want to buy?

Maria Sharapova is a global brand ambassador for Porsche

Maria Sharapova is a global brand ambassador for Porsche

Convertible or hard top?

Convertible cars look and feel incredible. From an exquisite supercar to a major brand city runabout, the ability to take the top off and drive with the wind in your hair is intoxicating. Convertibles are stylish, head-turning vehicles that bring the driving experience to life in a way you just don’t get with a full-roofed car.

Is a convertible car right for you? Lipstick and gearsticks has some advice

I know a fabulous girl-about-town who has always – really badly – wanted a convertible but she’s never gone ahead and bought one, concerned that the real thing would never live up to the dream.

I’m a big fan of following your dream, especially when it comes to buying a car, so let’s take a look at the pros and cons of convertibles. Keep them in mind when you shop (or rent, because there’s no better way to rock a road trip than to hire a hot convertible) and you’ll get a car you’ll love more than anything.

There are common things to be aware of when you’re choosing a convertible, but we have to say that lots of car brands have really picked up the pace and pulled in features to combat and eliminate these points, and of course every car is different.

The Pros of Convertibles

  • They look amazing – there are few things as glamourous and stylish as an open top car. And it’s a great excuse to wear your most fabulous sunglasses. We recommend Prada & Karen Walker.
  • Convertibles will help you pull faster than a gorgeous puppy or pair of killer heels. There are fewer cars with such a powerful pull factor as a convertible.
  • 360 degree views of your drive – you can see everything around you.
  • Open air whipping past you. I also ride motorbikes and usually ride with my helmet open because there’s just nothing more refreshing or life affirming than the breeze swooshing past you. Talk about making a girl feel alive! Heaven.
  • Lighter weight, which can make the handling a touch easier.
  • Less claustrophobic for people who find this bothersome.
  • You can lock it up with ease, even when the top is down.

The Cons of Convertibles

  • Bird poo and bugs. And cigarette butts. Motorbikists don’t wear bandannas over their face to rob banks: it’s to stop moths slamming into the back of their throats at 80kph. Convertible drivers run the same risks.
  • Boot space is often sacrificed to house the roof when it’s retracted. Sometimes there’s almost no boot space at all. You might end up placing your Mandarina Duck luggage on the back sear. See: bird poo. I’d cry.
  • Don’t forget to count the number of seats and doors available and make sure there’s room for everyone. You can’t forget to leave room for your awesome eccentric aunt, as much as you might like to. Although, it might just give you the excuse you’ve been looking for…..
  • A car with a solid roof adds strength to the car body in case of a crash, which you lose a lot of in a convertible, and if you flip your car in an accident there’s no head protection at all.  It might upset you more, however, to picture your favourite new-season Coach handbag flying through the air at 80kph.
  • Aerodynamics can be compromised so make sure you’re comfortable with the ride.
  • Convertibles are easier to steal, but there are more anti-theft protections than ever before so you just need to make a calculated decision.
  • Higher insurance costs – get a quote first because some of the insurance costs can be breathtaking depending on your driver profile.
  • I couldn’t tell you the last time I drank a chocolate McDonald’s thickshake, but every.single.time I see a convertible parked with the roof down and no-one in sight, I immediately visualise dumping said thickshake on the drivers seat. Just because. Yes, I’m incredibly immature. No, I’ve never done it. I like to think I’ve got SOME impulse control.
  • The rear visibility tends to go downhill because plastic is just no substitute for glass.
  • The roof mechanism is just one more thing that can go wrong.
  • You will achieve more hair volume than you could have possibly imagined. Actually, I could move that sentiment into the Pro column. Hmmm.
  • Convertible roofs can leak – secondhand and vintage shoppers note. If you live somewhere where the weather can be considered anywhere on the spectrum between ‘soggy’ and ‘manky’ then get a metal folding rooftop instead of a fabric one. But don’t use weather as an excuse to not get an convertible. Even if you have one awesome day a year driving it around with the top down and a grin on your face, it’s been worth it.
  • There is more road and wind noise in most models (whether the roof is up or down).
  • Wear sunscreen, because you’ll get sun exposure, and sunburnt ‘raccoon eyes’ in the shape of your favourite Prada sunnglasses is just not a winning look at The Emerson on a Friday night.

But at the end of the day, bird poo is good luck and convertible cars are gorgeous. Do it.

Why convertibles are a good idea at Lipstick and Gearsticks

Aston Martin Vanquish Volante

Aston Martin Vanquish Volante in Appletree Green at Lipstick and Gearsticks
Aston Martin custom interiors

Aston Martin custom interiors

Palm Springs, California. Just over 100 miles east of Los Angeles and with a dry, desert sunny climate, Palm Springs has a sprinkling of stardust that came with residents that included Frank Sinatra & Lucille Ball, and stayed with a well preserved mid-century modern architectural style and streets lined with palm trees. The town (population 45,000) just makes me want a Pomelo Italiano, made with grapefruit vodka, Campari, and a splash of grapefruit juice, with a sugared rim.

Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs, California

Fittingly, Palm Springs recently hosted the global media launch of the Aston Martin Vanquish Volante, the convertible in the Vanquish range. The Vanquish Volante has a purr-inducing acceleration of 4.1secs and a blistering peak power of 573ps and is the most powerful convertible Aston Martin has ever produced. Top speed? 294 kph. So let’s get down to business, shall we? For those new to convertibles, most of them suffer the fate of anything that gets its roof pulled off – a lower level of stability than in the full-rooved models. The effects of this varies from model to model, but a typical symptom is reduced rigidity in the car body, and smaller boot size as the roof, when down, needs to live somewhere.

Aston Martin Vanquish Volante in Appletree Green at Lipstick and Gearsticks

Aston Martin Vanquish Volante in Appletree Green

Aston Martin unveiled the stunning Appletree Green Volante at Palm Springs. It’s my favourite colour in the range. Aston Martin has engineered the Vanquish Volante from start to finish to be a convertible, and the result is the stiffest body they’ve produced yet in a convertible; this is a very good thing. Every panel has been made of carbon fibre plus the usual aluminum shell, so it’s light and hard. The fabric roof is pretty speedy too, taking just 14 seconds to fold down (which you can fold up and down on the move, as long as you are doing 30 kph or slower), and the boot capacity isn’t to be sniffed at either, clocking in at 279 litres of storage.

A sound system is business critical, and the Vanquish Volante doesn’t disappoint, with the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound – custom made for the Vanquish Volante – standard in every car. The interior is, as expected, nothing short of jaw-dropping.

Interior of the Aston Martin Vanquish Volante

Interior of the Aston Martin Vanquish Volante

There isn’t yet word on an ETA or price to Australia, but we’ll be sure to let you know when we do!

Discover the Aston Martin Vanquish Volante: http://www.astonmartin.com/vanquish-volante  The Appletree Green exclusive images were provided by Aston Martin from the global media launch of the Aston Martin Vanquish Volante in Palm Springs, California.

Volvo and Jean-Claude Van Damme

Volvo has been aligning their truck brand with a series of stunt campaigns (think cranes and hamsters – but not in the same video). We were cynical about this one starring the Muscles from Brussels himself, Jean-Claude Van Damme. But… the verdict is in.

Respect. Brilliantly executed, and I have to say my jaw dropped for a moment or two there. This is worth a watch and proves that car advertising with truly excellent creative that is about the passion, style and soul that comes hand-in-hand with motoring is still being made. More please!

I’ve had my ups and downs. My fair share of bumpy roads and heavy winds. That’s what made me what I am today. Now I stand here before you. What you see is a body crafted to perfection. A pair of legs engineered to defy the laws of physics. And a mind-set to master the most epic of splits.

Three days of rehearsals culminated in the spot being filmed in one take, with only 15 minutes of morning light that would fit the brief. No wires, no CG, and some sensible safety precautions. I was a fan of JCVD from my teenage years, and have definitely decided I’m still a fan. Even though Volvo set the stunt up to ‘demonstrate the stability and precision of Volvo dynamic steering’ it has done much more. Consider me impressed.

Jean Claude Van Damme volvo truck splits

Image supplied by Volvo

Here is a behind the scenes video you might want to look at as well – and yes, the trucks were going backwards.

The Pet Tube

It’s really important to keep your furry critter safe and property restrained in the back seat of the car, and I’ve been a fan of the ‘seat saver’ type concept for years. Bottom line, I have two huskies and fabric seats. The fur that gets smooshed all over the seats is just horrendous. I’m also an epic fan of pet rescue (feel free to support Siberian Husky Rescue Vic because they are brilliant) so the perfect combination is this great pet tube which you can buy online via Rescued! Is my Favourite Breed on Amazon. It’s less than USD$80 plus shipping.

Image

It’s a great option as it keeps them snug and safe and the Pet Tube tethers to the seat so your dogs are safely restrained. And look! Clean seats! I’ll let you know if I can track down an Australian supplier.

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