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Test Drive: 2015 Bentley GT3-R

The fastest Bentley ever made gets inspiration from its track-driving cousin

by Evan Orensten in Design on 21 October 2014

Bentley, Test Ride, Automotive, Cars, GT3R, Test Drives, Carbon Fiber, England, Handmade, Pebble Beach, Racecars, UK

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"Racing changes the perception," says Brian Gush, Bentley’s Director of Motorsport. The Bentley GT3-R is the latest evolution of the brand's suave and still-alluring Continental GT—and the fastest Bentley ever made. It hauls ass in the most gentlemanly manner, politely even. Though it receives the expected luxury fittings, it takes most of its cues—both styling and performance—from the automaker's successful GT3 race car.

Limited to only 300 cars worldwide (99 of them are in the USA), the car’s charm lies in its Jekyll and Hyde personality. Happy to hit the farmer’s market or the office without effort or wrangling, it’s truly an easy daily driver. And yet, it’s also a beast, able to effortlessly hit 60 mph in a mere 3.6 seconds with its turbocharged eight-cylinder engine and 572 hp under the hood. It stops as impressively with its massive carbon ceramic brakes.

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Like its race car relative, this model is only available in the same Glacier White paint and Cool Hunting green accents (coincidence, we ask?), sporting a large GT3-R logo on its hips that’s a bit naff, but it works. The interior is a far cry from track car, wrapping you in leather and carbon fiber trim. The backseat is gone, part of the nipping and tucking that has removed around 220 lbs from the standard GT.

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What's most inspiring about the car is how well it brings sport to the GT but doesn't try to be something that it's not: a supercar. It's not the fastest car you can buy. It's not the best handling car. All of those require a very different starting point and driving experience. What it does do, that few others can, is so authentically blend its racing heritage with the luxury, performance and there-when-you-want-it power. Packaging these attributes together in a car that works however you want to experience it.

We hit the road in the GT3-R with Gush for a quick tour around Pebble Beach and the winding roads around the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, drooling over the all-wheel drive car’s acceleration, sticky cornering and drivability—there’s no fighting to make this car perform. When in Drive mode it handles and sounds more like a GT. Putting the car in Sport mode, however, brings out the Hyde. The car's sound changes. Gears shift crisper and faster. Everything is tighter, and every corner is a new challenge waiting to be conquered.

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We asked Gush about the design brief for the car. "Well, I used the same [designer]. We've got the road car. We've got the racecar. I want a very clear link. I didn't have to give him much of a brief. I wanted the racecar to look like the road car, and the road car to look like the racecar," he says.

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“There’s so much handwork in the car, my production colleagues aren’t that happy with me,” Gush says laughingly. “The carbon fiber is all hand laid. The weave joints, it’s all bookmarked in a herringbone pattern and has a seam straight down the middle of the car. The seats are hand done.” He notes that because of all of this work, and the fact that the cars are made on the same production line as all other Bentleys, it made sense to build them at the same time. “Then the cars are taken to our small shop in the Motorsport department and they are finished off,” and sent to dealers around the world who snapped up the entire production run.

The Bentley Boy legend is alive and well.

The Bentley GT3-R will set you back around $337,000 in the USA. "You can have any color you want as long as its white," says Gush. Visit Bentley for details.

Lead image by Evan Orensten, additional images courtesy of Bentley

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.klatz Smartwatch and Handset

A stylish wrist accessory rethinking the form and functions of wearable tech

by David Graver in Tech on 21 October 2014

Fashion, Innovation, Klatz, Tech Innovations, Wearable Devices, Wearable Tech, Accessories

While fashion often takes a backseat to function, or vice versa, in wearable tech, Ukraine's .klatz is hoping to change that with their smartwatch and handset. They've revisited the bracelet form, but unlike Nike's FuelBand, this accessory is style-forward and manages to pack sophisticated features. In fact, it goes so far as to receive calls, which you answer by popping the hinged bracelet open. While banking on the fashion angle might seem a bit gimmicky, the fact of the matter is: it's time to start rethinking the form of smartwatches.

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.klatz's large LED indicator screen may not seem as advanced as the Apple Watch's vibrant display, but there are 384 LED lights within the offering—allowing for customization of notifications. As far as those notifications go, the watch receives SMS and email alerts—allowing users to review the entire message. Music control, from swiping forward through tracks or adjusting volume is also featured. The bracelet also indicates incoming phone calls. In addition to the text-based lights, the device also vibrates. As for other functionality, the smartwatch offers a calorie tracker and mileage counter.

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Perhaps most appealing, the device claims long lasting battery life, through the battery size and energy efficiency—with seven to 10 days guaranteed in normal mode and a month in standby. The charging unit also props the bracelet horizontally and keeps the watch feature active.

.klatz is will support devices including iPhone 4S and above, Android 4.1 and above, Windows Phone 8.1 and BlackBerry OS 10. The bracelet comes in multiple color options, across four sizes, and is crafted from lightweight, scratch-resistant aluminum and special scratch-resistant plastic.

You can back the .kltaz smartwatch and handset on indiegogo, and get a device at the early bird price of $99.

Images courtesy of .kltaz

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Song of the Car: 1970 Cadillac de Ville Convertible

Cruising through Brooklyn in the show-stealing Americana land yacht with salsa tunes blaring

by Tamara Warren in Design on 21 October 2014

70s, Cadillac, Classics, Convertibles, Deville, Driving, Music, NYC, SOTC, Salsa Music, Song of the Car, Brooklyn

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Skip the double decker tour buses. There’s no better way to see elegant Fort Greene, Brooklyn on a sunny fall day than through the wide windshield of a 1970 Cadillac de Ville convertible. Lean back and lean low on leather seats and embrace the essence of NYC's biggest and most flavorful borough in a Brooklyn-style big car.

Cadillac introduced the Coupe de Ville in 1949. By the late 1960s, the de Ville had lost most of its fabulous '50s fins, but hung onto a smooth suggestive flair in its rear quarters. The last de Ville convertible was made in 1970, the same year the company muscled up the series with its largest V8 engine to date in order to add the extra kick to maneuver its brawny 4,660 pound bodyweight.

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We tested a de Ville that claims particular Fort Greene pedigree. When it’s not coasting the Brooklyn streets, Sean Meenan's vintage convertible is almost always parked on the corner of Fulton Street and leafy brownstone-lined South Portland Avenue right in front of the seasonal solar-powered café Habana Outpost. Meenan founded Habana Outpost a decade ago as the sister spot to Manhattan’s Café Habana where his ’70 Cadillac first gained notoriety.

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In 1998, Meenan opened Café Habana on Prince Street in SoHo, inspired by the lore of a Mexico City luncheonette that served Cuban food to revolutionaries. His neighbors nicknamed him Cadillac Boy as he routinely parked the eye-catching land yacht on the corner of Mulberry and Prince—once mob boss John Gotti’s designated parking spot. The car is an essential character in Meenan’s New York success story. Neighborhood kids treated it as a playground. Sometimes, Meenan invited a dozen kids to pile in and head up to the movie theater on 31st Street.

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The authorities often had it towed. For a while, the top wasn’t working, which meant that sometimes, Meenan drove back from his Brooklyn boxing gym through pouring rain to the amusement of his downtown neighbors. Once, when the battery failed, he left it parked for several weeks. When he finally went to retrieve it, he discovered that someone had moved in and redecorated the interior. When he approached the man, he said, “Hey man this is my car.” And the fellow replied, “Man, that’s my house.”

The debonair drop-top de Ville harkens back to the era when New York had audacity and attitude. In those days, Cadillac bumpers were hot items among car thieves—except for Cadillacs parked on specific downtown blocks. It wasn’t worth paying the price for messing with a wiseguy’s Caddy.

On the last of the warm autumn days, before Habana Outpost closes down for the winter, the Fania All-Star’s soundtrack wafts from the de Ville’s stereo onto the Fort Greene streets in the spirit of the late Cheo Feliciano, a prominent voice for Latin Music in New York during the '70s. It’s a song and a car that’s a cultural mashup that makes sense in Brooklyn, a place that's the definition of a cultural melting pot. The de Ville swings and sways to the rhythm of the timbales like a magic carpet down Fulton Avenue. “Once you get in the car and go, there’s no better place. I have so much love for the car, I can’t get rid of it.”

Song of the Car matches music with automobiles, old and new. Appearing fortnightly on Cool Hunting, each feature takes a look at a car's distinct personality and pairs it with a suitable song.

Images by Tamara Warren

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