Archive of ‘Cars we love’ category

Take a fleet of Alfa’s, add coffee, and blend with Fashion Week

The powerhouse Sweaty Betty PR are the queens of collaboration. Kicking off with Vittoria Coffee, takeaway coffee cups went from every day to eye-popping, with a hand-picked cluster of our most amazing design houses designing new Vittoria coffee cups, each with their own unique signature. A great promo and collab in itself.

Romance was Born design, image via @Vittoria_coffee

Romance was Born design, image via @Vittoria_coffee

But taking it a step further, the crew at Sweaty Betty created gorgeous skins for their fleet of Fashion Week Alfa Romeos, transforming each Alfa into a design showcase. Loves.

And here come the Alfa's! Image via @sweatybettypr

And here come the Alfa’s! Image via @sweatybettypr

The BMW 523i and her obsessed owner

Lipstick and Gearsticks Hikuia Ranges

I want to introduce you to my good mate and guest blogger, Bella from Squee. I asked her to write for Lipstick and Gearsticks because she’s obsessed with her BMW 523i. When she goes back to New Zealand, she usually doesn’t book a return ticket, because she’s disappeared into the ether in her car, roaring around the north island and generally going missing. Her car is her down time and her obsession. She loves how it drives. She loves how it sounds. She loves the freedom. She loves having a beautifully maintained, fine-tuned beast to roar around in. So readers, meet Bella.

BMW 523i

Some drop kick backed into me on Ponsonby Road – parked at the beach house

“From the first moment I test drove this car I fell in love. My BMW is like an expensive mistress. She looks the part though – smooth, sleek and expensive.

Expensive – in many ways yes, but the driving experience makes it all worth while. So when I go back to my country of origin, this is what I drive.

The 523i has elegant styling and looks great from any angle.  Inside, the grey leather seats are more like armchairs, with far above average comfort.  Being able to activate the sun shade on the back window from the drivers seat has come in handy many time for the comfort of back seat passengers. Road noise is little to none, although there is a weird acoustic effect if either of the back windows are down … the interior is roomy and comfortable. For part of this trip I drove with three adults, including their luggage (upwards of 80 kilos) and noticed little to no inconvenience.  I had many compliments on how easy the long trips were for for the passengers involved, and how rested they felt.  Not something that can be said about every car!

Lipstick and Gearsticks Hikuia Ranges

Hikuia Ranges at sunset

For the audiophile, a factory standard radio/stereo comes complete with a six-cd stacker in the boot, and ten speakers in the interior. You read that correctly. Ten speakers.

There are a total of five computers on board, but the one I’m most interested in is on the indicator stick. This updates me on fuel consumption, cruising range, etc.

Volume can be adjusted on the steering wheel (additional to cruise control etc) and illuminated vanity mirrors are provided for both front seats. The external wing mirrors are electric, with auto reverse. Double interior lighting completes the picture, along with lightly tinted windows.

The boot is incredibly roomy, with BMW accredited tools kept safely in a tray that drops down from the inside of the boot when it is lifted. No amount of travel or shopping bags can defeat this space. Believe me, I’ve tried!

The six airbags give peace of mind, especially as it is very easy to put your foot down in this car. Handling is smooth as silk, and the 523i sticks to the road as if on rails.

Pickup is a bit slow (especially when loaded to this degree) but the 523i performs like a star on the open road. Fillup is a bit of a smack to the wallet as the 523i boasts a 70l tank, making pricing approximately $157:00 each time. However with 11.0L/100k’s, I wasn’t too unhappy – the payoff in power available and long distance comfort was fair enough.

Points to remember if you’re thinking of taking on a 5-Series BMW:

These cars absolutely must be maintained on schedule. You will see green lights that activate on the dashboard on ignition; lessening in number as you get closer to the preferred time of service. A service costs around $500:00 a time in New Zealand. I use an accredited BMW dealer.
In the first year or so after purchase, I replaced the suspension all round, and the transmission. The suspension could have waited (but I am picky) and the transmission (5 speed Steptronic) unfortunately spat tacks at me and had to be done urgently. I will not tell you how much this cost me.

But it was worth it.


Getting Royally Giddy in the Bentley Flying Spur

Photo by Mark Cuthbert

William and Kate have a new car – the stunning Flying Spur – a new, £250,000 armored Bentley.

Photo by Mark Cuthbert

Photo by Mark Cuthbert

A Kensington Palace spokesman told the Daily Mail: “The Bentley is being leased by the Duke and the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry for official engagements, which is no different to any other member of the Royal family.”

The Flying Spur boasts a top speed of 200mph, wi-fi internet, an immaculate walnut interior, and being fully armoured, has triple glazed, bullet-proof windows with 1.5inch glass, hardened steel armour and tyres that don’t deflate when punctured. It will also be incredibly heavy, so while it will handle beautifully, their driver probably has excellent biceps and triceps. Shame he probably wears a Zegna suit every day instead of a singlet.

The Bentley Flying Spur Lipstick and gearsticks

The Bentley Flying Spur

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

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:  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.