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2024 Audi A8 First Drive: The new luxury

It’s a more striking car than its predecessor, from the bold “Singleframe” grille at the front, through the more sculpted crease-lines on the hood and sides, to the muscular emphasis above the wheel arches and the rear with its distinctive lighting. I suspect it’ll age more gracefully than many of its competitors. Audi has both standard and long-wheelbase versions, though the US will only get the latter: just 10-percent of sales of the old A8 were of the short-wheelbase model.

Sadly the dramatic lighting on the car you see here won’t make it to American shores. Blame archaic regulations for the absence of laser headlamps up front, and the more dramatic OLED lighting at the rear. Audi puts the latter to great use, with sweeping animations that the automaker claims makes turn signals and such more readily recognized, but the US rule-makers don’t think you’re ready for them.

Audi will keep it easy for the US, with a single engine option at launch that’ll also help the car escape the automaker’s fairly confusing new badging nomenclature. The A8L will come with a 3.0-liter V6 TFSI, with 340 HP and 369 lb-ft. of torque, and a top speed of 155 mph. It’s paired with a sweet- and smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission, and 0-62 mph comes in 5.7 seconds.

It’s a so-called “mild hybrid” engine, which means Audi adds a 10 Ah battery and a belt alternator starter, but that the electrification never actually supplies motive force to the car. Instead, the A8 uses it for some clever coasting: between around 34 and 99 mph, for instance, the car can shut the engine down completely and glide with no fuel consumption, then start the engine up again near-instantaneously. Engine stop-start now works at up to 13.7 mph, rather than when you’re just waiting at the lights. It’s the quietest, most surreptitious implementation of such a system I’ve ever experienced; most of the time, I didn’t even realize it had kicked in.

The economy gains from the mild hybrid system aren’t going to win the A8L any green awards, nor probably challenge the diesel version that Audi has no plans to launch in the US. Rather, it’s all about the smoothness of the experience.

The combination of the silken eight-speed, permanent quattro all-wheel drive, and the purring V6 make for an unruffled car on the road. Speak to Audi’s suspension engineers, though, and you find they have even more ambitious things in mind. Traditionally, the A8 has found itself in the middle of the German luxury sedan space: perceived as not quite as sporting as BMW’s 7 Series, yet not quite as sybaritic as Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class. Audi wants to change that perception, and it wants to have its cake and eat it too.

Clever, then, but not as clever as the electromechanical suspension system. Powered by the 48V system, it can individually control actuators on each of the wheels, for even more precise and rapid adjustments to the car’s dynamics. When combined with a new, forward-facing laser scanner, the A8 will be able to actively look ahead to upcoming road conditions and preemptively adjust its ride height and suspension settings to minimize speed bumps and pothole judder.

It’s almost eerie in how well it works. Watch from the outside, and you can see the A8 crank itself up just before it hits a bump: Audi says it can smooth out more than 3-inches of obstacle, leaving only the slightest of shake in the cabin. Brake hard and there’s no nose-dive as you might expect from a big, heavy sedan; even when I made several laps of a roundabout, pushing harder with each orbit, lateral roll was astonishingly absent. Turns that might normally have your passengers leaning against the doors are flat and steady.

Throw in the dynamic all-wheel steering option, which allows the rear wheels to turn up to 5-degrees – either with the front, or in the opposite direction, depending on speed – and the A8 becomes positively nimble. The turning circle is noticeably reduced, particularly welcome when you consider the A8L is 17.4 feet long, while lane-changes feel more confident.

Indeed, though I’d need to drive them back-to-back to be certain, I suspect the A8 with active suspension is more than enough to take on what Mercedes and BMW are doing right now. If there’s a weakness, it’s that Audi won’t have an S8 at launch to combine those fiendishly clever underpinnings with a performance engine. Though all signs point to one in the pipeline, there’s no telling when an S8 might arrive. Indeed, the V8 and W12 gas engines earmarked for Europe are conspicuously missing any sort of North American roadmap, though Audi at least is making positive noises about the eight-cylinder together with a plug-in hybrid with wireless charging support.

It’s not that the 3.0-liter V6 TFSI is a disappointment. It’s a refined, capable engine that suits the A8’s cruising talents well, with enough pep that overtaking at highway speeds and even a little backroad jaunting were easily within its means. Compared to the beastly Mercedes-AMG S63, though, or BMW’s flight-footed M760i, and Audi’s car is understandably just too restrained by its power shortfall.

The active suspension has another trick, though it’s not something you’d want to see in action. As part of the pre sense 360 safety system, if you get t-boned while you’re traveling at speeds up to 37 mph, the A8 can jerk the car up suddenly by maxing out the suspension travel. In a split second, the car lunges 3.15-inches on the side of impact, enough to redirect the crash forces into the more structural components lower in the doors.

Somewhat confusingly, Audi is eager to highlight that the new A8 was designed for Level 3 autonomous driving, but it won’t launch with the functionality. The Audi AI traffic jam pilot will be able to take over stop-start driving at speeds up to 37.3 mph, on highways and multi-lane highways as long as they have a physical barrier between you and the opposite direction of traffic. Unlike traditional adaptive cruise control systems, there’ll be no reminders to keep your hands on the wheel.

MORE 2023 Audi A8 Level 3 autonomy first-drive

As Vincent found when he tested the system himself, Audi AI traffic jam pilot certainly works. However, it also requires more than just the driver putting their trust in the A8 – it needs regulatory approval, too. It’s that, not the technology, which won’t be ready for the A8’s US debut next year.

When it does arrive, it’ll be a cost-option – final US pricing for the A8 hasn’t been decided, though the current model kicks off at $82,500 – and it’s unclear at this stage whether A8 early adopters will be able to retroactively add AI traffic jam pilot support via a software upgrade later on. Fundamentally it’ll demand a more comprehensive sensor suite be fitted, adding the aforementioned laser scanner at the front to the combination of 12 ultrasonic sensors, four 360-degree cameras, mid-range and long-range radar, and regular and infrared cameras that give the A8 its all-round vision.

They’re not just for autonomous driving, mind. Also under the Audi AI umbrella is remote parking pilot and remote garage pilot, which allow the car to maneuver itself in and out of parallel and perpendicular spaces, or in and out of garages, respectively. As long as the various sensors can see the right gap, and as long as you’ve got your finger on the AI button – either on the dashboard or in the Audi smartphone app – the A8 will trundle its way into the right place, handling the steering, brakes, acceleration, and transmission all by itself.

Inside, the cabin has been completely updated. The A8 gets seating for five, the A8L for four courtesy of a full-length center console and armrest. As well as heating, cooling, and massage options, there’s a “relaxation seat” package that adds a foot massager for the rear right seat, four-zone climate control, Audi’s detachable Android-powered tablets mounted behind the headrests, and a Rear Seat Remote. The latter, about the size of a phablet, pops out of the center armrest and can be used to control multimedia, seat and window settings, and even work as a phone handset for the A8’s VoLTE system.

Those in front aren’t short on touchscreens, mind. Gone is Audi’s old scroll-wheel system, replaced with MMI touch response: a 10.1-inch touchscreen atop the center console, an 8.6-inch touchscreen below it, and the familiar Virtual Cockpit digital instrumentation in front of the driver (with an optional head-up display above).

The center top display is responsible for infotainment – it also shows Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – while the panel beneath it is dedicated to the HVAC and comfort controls. Audi’s capacitive touchscreens support haptic feedback, with a mild buzz as you tap each virtual button. Gone is the old handwriting system, which required you to sketch out letters individually atop the MMI touch rotary controller; now, the whole lower touchscreen can show either a QWERTY keyboard or a huge handwriting panel.

The latter is, quite frankly, the best example of such an interface that I’ve tried to-date. In addition to its sheer size, it usefully supports both block and cursive text. You can trace individual letters with your fingertip, or whole words, and even when I scrawled across the screen – not even looking at the display – it was able to translate my messy cursive. Audi offers auto-predict and auto-correct alternatives as you type, while a simple swipe from right to left clears out the text box.

Alternatively, there’s a new voice recognition system. Though the A8 still uses onboard processing, it also has a cloud-based system when the car is connected. That supports natural language and conversational recognition, though personal details aren’t stored in the cloud for privacy reasons. Eventually, I’m told, the goal is to include voice support for other car features, like being able to control the air conditioning.

If there’s a drawback to all this technology and active safety gadgetry, it’s the potential for driver overload. There are a lot of icons, graphics, and messages to absorb, and while you can shut off the center console top touchscreen, I’d love to see a broader “quiet mode” which pared things back to the bare minimum. The good news is that Audi confirmed to me that they’re also looking at how all that information could be made tidier.

It’s an issue that affects both the 7 Series and the S-Class, too, both of which have each been cranking up their own tech levels. Of the three cars, I prefer Audi for the look and feel of its infotainment system, but I suspect there’ll be a learning curve involved when first getting behind the wheel.

We’re at a fascinating place in high-end vehicles. If the A8 is restrained, it’s by a regulatory framework – or, more accurately, many often-conflicting frameworks – yet to catch up with the technology. Like its peers, Audi could distance the driver even further from the experience of actually driving. That it hasn’t is a matter of policy, not impossibility.

You are the legally-mandated, morally nebulous meat-fuse in the system. Audi knows the car is cleverer than you are; after just a few minutes at the wheel, you yourself know that to be true, too. So much of the technology is designed to stop you from doing dumb, human things. Door handles that pause even as you pull them, should a cyclist be approaching from behind. Sensors that watch out for signs you might be about to curb your beautiful 20-inch alloy wheels. Brakes that automatically stop you if you’re headed for a parking lot ding.

At this point in the luxury sedan game, smooth power, supple leather, and gadgets galore are table stakes. Impressive, cosseting, deeply pleasant table stakes, certainly, but nonetheless the bar has been raised. In a world where technology has eclipsed mere mechanical engineering, the 2023 Audi A8 is quite possibly as smart as it gets.

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2024 Audi A7 Sportback First Drive

2024 Audi A7 Sportback First Drive

While SUVs may seem the darlings of the automotive industry right now, there’s definitely plenty of room to innovate and wow the crowd in other segments: especially when you have a long list of new things to show off, like Audi. While the 2023 A8 represents the marque’s vision for sedans, the 2023 A7 Sportback embodies Audi’s vision for those buyers who demand a sportier sedan. The A7, however, is not one that can be confined and defined inside a rigid box. Instead, it takes inspiration from both past and present, and in the process embracing coupe, sedan, and even wagon in a single body.

Audi places heavy emphasis on the new A7 Sportback’s design over other aspects, and for good reason. Similar to the 2023 A8, the A7 takes inspiration from the Prologue concept, while, at the same time, still remaining unmistakably an A7. In fact, though the A7 and A8 may share many things in common, they offer it up in very different ways.

At its most straightforward, it’s about being driver-centric. Where the A8’s interior is defined by horizontal lines and an emphasized sense of space, befitting its sedan status, in the 2023 Audi A7, everything is turned toward the driver. The new Audi MMI system, functionally similar in both sedan and four-door coupe, is slanted more towards the driver in the latter. Everything is easily within reach and available at a quick and safe glance. The A7 Sportback puts the driver at the visual center of its universe.

It’s not an absolute, however. Unlike in the Audi TT, where the focus is completely on the driver, the new A7 straddles its three car lines and doesn’t ignore passengers altogether. In the real world, it makes a big difference: compared to the A8, which really feels like a car to be driven in, the A7 is a car that’s meant for you to drive yourself. During our two day drive in Cape Town, S. Africa, there was plenty of seat time both behind the wheel and as a passenger.

A welcome gain from the A8 is the extra space. The 0.8 inches of added length may not sound much but, combined with its 3.4-foot width, sitting comfortably inside the A7 would almost make you think you were inside the sedan instead. The lines blur even further when you see the familiar refreshed MMI system: like the 2023 A8, the new A7 Sportback is equipped with Audi’s new-generation MMI system.

Ease and speed of use are still also there, despite the complexity of digital user interfaces. Options are laid out on a single level, minimizing the need to drill down into menus before reaching the exact feature you’re hunting for. A new 12.3-inch virtual cockpit sits directly in front of the driver, replacing the analog instrumentation of old while still giving the illusion of depth thanks to the very high-resolution and responsive screen.

From the driver’s seat, operating the dual displays settles into an up-and-down cadence, almost tai-chi like in its zen. The icons, text, and graphics are easy to read with minimal complexity, a welcome relief compared to some of the more complex systems in rival cars.

While all carmakers boast of their attention to design and to detail, the A7 feels worthy of the praise. Take, for example, the extra sensors inside the front grille, which Audi’s designers managed to integrate into the car’s core design and thus give the coupé a unique fascia. Rather than wearing its active-assistance sensors like warts, the A7 subtly hides another pair of eyes inside the new “singleframe” grille.

Of course, the 2023 A7 Sportback can’t just be an art project: it must be functional, too. Compared to its predecessor, the 2023 model keeps the telltale silhouette while doubling-down on the sportier touches. The lower and wider grille, a new unified tail light, sharper shoulders, a built-in spoiler that automatically extends at 75 mph, and a more pronounced lip on the back are just some of the more obvious new design marks. At the same time, the familiar roofline and distinctive tapered rear remain, to continue the aesthetic legacy.

Under the hood, there’s more newness: the mild hybrid engine or “MHEV”. Combining a 3.0 liter V6 TFSI engine with a 48-volt electrical system, the 2023 A7 offers 340 HP and 369 lb-ft of torque, enough to do the 0 to 62 mph run in 5.3 seconds. More than just being about power, however, the A7 Sportback is also about efficiency. The belt alternator starter (BAS) charges a lithium-ion battery up to 12 kW when braking, as well as shutting the engine off not only when the car is at a halt, but when coasting between 34 and 99 mph. Indeed, Audi’s new start-stop feature doesn’t even wait for you to actually stop. Instead, it activates automatically from 13 mph, then uses the front cameras to restart the engine when the car in front begins to move.

Given the A7’s interior, there are worse places to be trapped, but it’s really the open road where the car shines. Still, before getting there I had a first-hand experience of just how important – and how capable – the active safety technology is in this new car.

In Cape Town, it seems, it’s commonplace for pedestrians to walk on the side of the road, both on city streets and highway. Indeed, it’s fairly normal for pedestrians to cross over the freeways. It’s a worst-case-scenario for any driver, as was a man jumping out in front of the A7 while I was at the wheel. I slammed on the brakes, but Audi’s pre sense front and pre sense city active safety systems joined in too, kicking in their own exaggerated braking force and helping prevent an accident.

I’ve had plenty of hands-on experience aiming a car towards a mannequin and having the system jolt things to a complete stop before a collision, but nothing in those test scenarios quite prepares you for a real-life experience of the technology at work. Beginning with the Audi A8 and now the A7 Sportback too, the Audi pre sense and pre sense city safety systems can also detect cyclists in addition to pedestrians, while the car is traveling at up to speeds of 40 or 52.8 mph, depending on the model. They’re also able to detect other cars on the road, at up to speeds of 155.3 mph.

Equipment and features for the US market aren’t nailed down yet, nor pricing, and as such we don’t know if the 48-volt “coast mode” will make it stateside. It’s possible that the feature won’t be high on the list of priorities for buyers in the US, which I can understand, though if I was buying the A7 Sportback and Audi didn’t allow me to check off the optional Dynamic all-wheel steering, I wouldn’t be so happy. While the standard equipment package includes progressive steering with a sports ratio, the combination of dynamic steering and rear-wheel steering takes driving to a whole new level.

Cruising at lower speed around town, pulling into tight parking spots or making U-turns is significantly easier because the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction up to 5 degrees. It essentially shortens the wheelbase of the car, at speeds between 3.1 to 9.3 mph. At higher speeds, especially for quick passing maneuvers, the rear wheels follow the movement of the front wheels by an angle of up to 3.5 degrees. In that case, you get the sense of a longer wheelbase car, which ultimately results in more stability.

What we do know will make it to American shores is Audi’s drive select system. Depending who you’re with and the road conditions, there’s the option of allowing the drive modes to do all the heaving lifting in auto; or, as seemed preferable once free of traffic jams, you can switch over to dynamic and push the A7 Sportback to its fullest potential. There’s also efficient and comfort modes, with each adjusting factors like how quickly the transmission changes gears, the behavior of the sports differential and quattro drive, the steering, and the suspension’s damper control. If you prefer, you can customize individual mode with your own choice of settings.

Audi is positioning the 2023 A7 Sportback as a break from the past, with a new design and new technologies. All the same, though, the 2023 model is clearly an A7 through and through, picking up the torch not only in its design but in its spirit too. Sporty like a coupe, spacious like a sedan, and versatile like a wagon, the 2023 A7 Sportback is the perfect marriage of old and new, putting design, engineering, and technology at the service of what should truly be the center of a car’s universe: the driver at the wheel.

2024 Audi S6 And A6 First

2024 Audi S6 and A6 first-drive – Autobahn blitz

There are some interesting options when you’re in the market for a big sedan from the mid-$40s upwards, but the 2024 Audi A6 and S6 are hoping to make their case that they’re all the car you need. Overshadowed in recent years by the stunning A7/S7, Audi’s handsome sedan is making a renewed play for 2024 with updates across the styling, engines, transmissions, and the accommodations inside. I headed to the autobahns of Dresden, Germany, to see how the A6 and S6 hold up.

Audi’s styling across its range is one of the more consistent of any of the big car brands, and so the changes to the design have been restrained. While the body as a whole is the same as before, there’s a new bumper with more aggressive venting, reshaped lights with more LEDs, and a more angular grille that borrows some of the new TT’s style.

At the back, the rear lamps are more distinctive, and the tailpipes get crisply-hewn trapezoidal tips which counter the curves of the rear valance nicely. There may be a couple of tweaks between here and the US launch in 2024, but the changes to what’s to my eyes a very successful refresh should be minimal.

I started out in the A6 with its 2.0-liter TSFI engine. Its 252 HP and 273 lb-ft – both increased for MY2024 – are evidence of just what Audi can do with some turbocharging, routed thankfully not through the lazy CVT of the old car but a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. EPA figures aren’t settled yet, but Audi tells me economy should be up despite the bump in power.

A four-cylinder in a large sedan like the A6 might give some drivers pause for thought, but the TSFI has no such reticence, especially out on the autobahn. It’s not a light car, at around 3,700 pounds, but it hides that heft well, picking up speed rapidly and cornering well; there’s a little oversteer to be discovered when you push the FWD car hard, but you’ll only really see it at the sort of pace where any passengers will be giving you dirty looks.

Audi’s four-cylinder is smooth, but the fun really starts when you switch keys for the 2024 S6. That uses a 4.0-liter TFSI V8, turbocharged for 450 HP and 406 lb-ft of torque, and hooked up to a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission and quattro all-wheel-drive.

Audi says the S6 V8 is good for a 4.3 second 0-60 mph time, and the Euro-spec car showed little reluctance to gallop along the autobahn at speeds which would quickly lose you your license were you to try them in the US. Stomp your foot to the right and there’s a surge of torque which sees the speedo needle hurtle up, seemingly no matter whereabouts in the rev range you do it.

It’s incredibly sure-footed, too. Audi’s quattro AWD has a reputation for grip, and the S6 doesn’t let it down. Driver-selectable suspension modes actually make a noticeable difference to the driving style: in Comfort, the S6 does a fair job of impersonating a luxury cruiser, while in Dynamic it becomes sticky as glue.

No, you’re not going to whip the rear end out – I’m not sure most people would want that, frankly, in a car of this size and type – but you do have the confidence to know that you’ll pretty much always end up around the corner you’re fast approaching. The pleasing balance of quiet and V8 engine noise is the icing on the cake.

Whichever the model, you get Audi’s excellent cabin and dashboard. Build quality is top-tier, and there are new dash trims, leather options, and finishes to pick between. Some of the marquetry is of a level you’d more commonly expect to find in a high-end luxury model; Audi’s pairing of careful slivers of veneer and aluminum are particularly eye-catching, though exactly what will make it to the US is unclear at this stage.

I’ve seen what Audi can do with a few high-resolution displays and NVIDIA’s Tegra processor in the new TT, and the updated MMI system in the 2024 A6/S6 are similarly competent. An 8-inch screen rises smoothly from the center stack, similar to in the A3 only a little larger, and it’s paired with a large driver information display sandwiched between the analog dials.

It’s fast, and smooth, and well-connected thanks to onboard 4G LTE piping things like Google Earth 3D navigation to the dash. A head-up display can show the core details, too, like speed and your upcoming turn. Rather than a touchscreen you get a rotary controller flanked with shortcut keys and a trackpad, the combination of which takes a little getting used to initially. Still, Audi’s crisp graphics and sensible UI layout are proved enough to win me over.

The A6 isn’t a sports sedan in the traditional sense, but neither does it need to be. Instead, it’s a capable and refined cruiser, a handsome way to transport five people in a beautiful cabin. Audi’s updates strike a great balance between dynamics and comfort, with the new transmission a particular improvement over the outgoing car.

As for the S6, it still manages to be discrete to the eye while packing enough power and stability to surprise the unwary, whether you’re running from a standstill at the lights or already at speed on the highway. Audi’s quattro AWD takes a powerful sedan and gives it all the traction you want, safely betting on the idea that the target audience will prefer predictable (and superlative) dynamism to tail-happy abandon. Even if you can’t make it to the autobahn, it’s a huge improvement and a highly capable car.

Audi Night Vision Assistant Demo

You Built What?! The Luxury Motorcycle Sidecar

In 1989, François Knorreck took a long ride in the sidecar of a friend’s motorcycle and enjoyed it so much that he decided to build a rig of his own. Now, 20 years, 63 bodywork molds and innumerable headaches later, he has it: a handcrafted masterpiece that’s part motorcycle, part Lamborghini.

At the motorcycle’s controls, Knorreck has pushed the vehicle to 125 miles an hour, near its estimated top speed, but never intends to fully open it up. After all, he says, despite the sidecar’s looks, it’s only along for the ride.

Hop In

The sole door opens Lamborghini-style, driven by an electric motor.

How the Real Life Lunar Lander Recplica Works

Cost: $22,000

An Artistic Masterpiece

“The part that I’m most proud of is the bodywork,” Knorreck says. “Not the design, but the high level of finishing.” The sidecar isn’t merely welded to the motorcycle—the two are seamlessly linked, from the chassis to the wiring to the carbon-fiber, hand-crafted body. Getting the two pieces to work in concert was no easy feat. With the sidecar’s wheel positioned too far forward or back, the off-kilter weight distribution could cause the bike and sidecar to roll forward and to the right. (Errors distributing the vehicle’s 877 pounds could also put excess strain on the frame, leading to structural cracks.) To remedy these problems, Knorreck built an adjustable aluminum chassis so he could tinker with the wheelbase and other elements to see what worked best before adding interior parts. He found that moving the sidecar’s wheel forward just enough, relative to the motorcycle’s rear one, provided additional stability and ensured a straight ride.

The original motorcycle had a gravity-fed system in which the fuel ran down to the carburetors from above. But Knorreck found that he had to relocate the tank and place it underneath the body of the sidecar. Then he added an electrical pump to route the fuel to the engine.

Knorreck built the entire frame and body of the sidecar (he had to make 63 different molds by hand to create its various carbon-fiber panels), but he’s no upholsterer, so he had a friend custom-manufacture the seats. Just in case tooling around in a freakishly cool sidecar wasn’t enough for his passengers (it can seat two at a time), he installed a stereo system. For that, however, he kept costs to a minimum, using an old radio from his father.

The Luxury Sidecar

We review all our projects before publishing them, but ultimately your safety is your responsibility. Always wear protective gear, take proper safety precautions, and follow all laws and regulations.

2024 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet And 4S First Drive

The 2023 911 Carrera S’ engine is the 6,000-pound gorilla in the room. When Porsche announced the replacement of the naturally-aspirated engine, fear spread far and wide. Welcome to a new age of turbochargers, and Porsche has finally jumped on the bandwagon – primarily due to government requirement for lowering CO2 emissions as well as improving fuel economy. The first 911 on the 991 platform replaced the 997 back in 2012, and moving forward, all modern 911s on the second gen 991 platform (991.2) are turbocharged. That being said, there’s a reason turbochargers have found favor: the new, rear-mounted 3.0-liter twin turbocharged flat-six is more powerful than the old powerplant, making it quicker while also being more fuel-efficient.

At your disposal is 370 HP and 332 lb-ft in the 911 Carrera 4 and 420 HP, 370 lb-ft in the 4S, a 20 HP, 45-lb-ft increase from their predecessors. Peak torque starts at 1,700 rpm and keeps kicking to 5,000 rpm, but it’s also capable of redlining at 7,500 rpm, which is something many of us love to do with a naturally-aspirated engine. All 911 Carrera and 911 Carrera S models come standard with a 7-speed manual transmission.

There’s no artificial or digitized sound piped into the cabin – the purists can only take so much, after all – so while you still hear the high-pitched whine of the spinning turbo there’s also the underlying grunt from the 3.0-liter itself. Long-time Porsche aficionados will of course notice the difference, but it sounds great to my ears, and there’s no lag before the turbo power kicks in.

All this power, you’d expect – and hope – you could stop on a dime too, and Porsche takes no chances on that front. For 2023 you get new, larger four piston calipers and 13-inch front rotors for the base model; the S model comes equipped with 13.8-inch discs or optional carbon ceramic brakes sized at 16.1-inches in the front and 15.4-inches in the rear. My test 911 Carrera 4 Cab was outfitted with handsome 20-inch RS Spyder design wheels, a $2,370 option.

It’s not the only way to kick the sticker price up a notch. Also available as an option is Porsche Doppelkupplung, the company’s dual-clutch transmission or PDK, which adds $3,200. Fitted in both the 911 Carrera S Cab and Carrera 4S I tested, I couldn’t help but be impressed with its ability to deliver instantaneous gear-shifts. Porsche actually began developing it back in 1970, but it took until the 2009 model-year 911 and Boxster/Cayman before it made it to production cars.

There’s an old belief that soft-tops are the softer option on the road, but the gorgeous convertible Sapphire Blue Metallic 911 Carrera S Cabriolet belied such accusations. It has a base price of $115,700, a $12,300 premium over the similarly-specified coupe. However, for a typical Porsche buyer, loading up on options is a way of life; with a few ticks down the order sheet, this particular model came out at $144,805.

The costliest option – and also, ironically, my favorite – is the rear-axle steering, though with its $6,810tag Porsche will also throw in a Sport exhaust system. It’s available for all S models, having once been reserved exclusively for the 911 Turbo and 911 GT3 models.

At low speed, the system steers the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front wheels, essentially cutting down on the turning circle. That helps when squeezing in and out of a tight parking spot, or generally maneuvering in places you really, really wouldn’t want to scratch your car; the overall feel is like you’re driving a shorter vehicle.

During more spirited or sporty driving, however, the rear wheels steer in the same direction as those at the front, mimicking a longer wheelbase for greater agility and improved overall stability.

I get it, it’s an expensive option. It’s also rare and only available on the S model, so I think you’d be remiss if you bought the car but didn’t check this particular box.

Another option worth ticking is the Front Axle Lift System ($2,590), which raises the front lip 2-inches to help climb over driveway bumps or speed bumps.

Got A New Drone? Read This First

Got a new drone? You’re not alone. Some estimates say hundreds of thousands of the craft will be sold before the end of 2024. But drones aren’t like other gadgets that you can figure out without reading the instruction manual.

You’ll get most out of your drone if you take it easy and conduct a few low test flights as you practice the possible controls and maneuvers. You should consider flying lessons and joining a local flying club, where you can learn more about flight and model aircraft.

But you probably can’t wait to get it into the air, so remember there are a few important safety, privacy and legal guidelines you need to follow to keep you and your drone out of trouble.

Maximum altitude: Steer clear of real aircraft

Drones are limited to no higher than 400 feet. That provides a small buffer between your drone and controlled airspace, which begins at 500 feet.

Drones aren’t cleared to enter that part of the sky. Doing so would put them in danger of colliding with aircraft and helicopters, potentially causing a deadly crash. If for some reason an aircraft or helicopter comes close to your drone, you’re obligated to move out of the way.

In general, it’s good practice to fly below the top of any surrounding obstacles, like trees or buildings.

Know your area: Fly only in safe locales

Fly in an open area away from people and obstacles that could block your view of your drone. You’re obligated to keep in it sight at all times.

Drones are also banned from flying in all national parks.

Kyle Maack

The Hivemapper app warns a drone pilot of a nearby building roof during a demonstration in San Francisco on Oct. 30, 2024.

Check flying conditions

Avoid flying during bad weather and strong winds. Your drone is small and lightweight and can’t stand up to bad weather the same way a regular aircraft can.

Watch your own conditions too. Don’t fly when you’ve been drinking or are under the influence of drugs.

Register your drone

The FAA requires that anyone flying a drone be registered. The online process should only take about five minutes, and its $5 cost covers any number of drones you own for three years. Once registered, write or affix your registration number to your drone, and carry a physical or digital version of your registration card when you fly. Dan Masaoka

The Snap drone takes flight in San Francisco during a demonstration on August 24, 2024.

No, you can’t suddenly start a drone business

Don’t use your drone for business. You might have a great idea for a lucrative new drone photography business, but commercial use of drones requires a special permit from the FAA and brings a whole new level of restrictions and requirements. Hobbyists have much more freedom to fly, so embrace it.

Be a good drone citizen 

The drone industry has a comprehensive website with all the rules and recommendations called “Know Before You Fly.” The Academy of Model Aeronautics will point you to your local flying club and help you find the local model aircraft enthusiast community. The full rules and regulations can be found on the FAA’s drone website.

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