Your Supercar is Cool, but can it Haul?

9 08 2015

Let me start by saying that I’m all about the useless kookiness that is the supercar. I meant it, hardcore enthusiast here! Love every-single-thing about them, from the dramatic styling to the hopeless impracticality. Can’t enjoy them more than a few minutes at a time on the road/streets because something will come along and slow you right down, ruin your whole fun (sure, you can track them, but objectively how often will that happen?); can’t stop them anywhere because people are savages and will have no respect for boundaries, therefore touching and rubbing up against your baby, scratching that oh so expensive special paintjob you just had to get cause it looked so damn nice; can’t drive in certain parts of town cause the speed bumps and rough roads will break your sweet carbon fiber splitters and, in the process, your heart.
This begs the question: what if you still want your ride to go like a cheetah on speed, but without the drawbacks we just talked about? Well, then that puts you in a very particular class of car enthusiast. See, despite it being a pain in the derrière, the supercar (or even the good old flashy sports car) gets you noticed, puts you right at the center of attention – good and bad – and if your ego digs that kind of stuff, it will be heaven (even with all the annoyances). However, if you’re a low-key speed freak, you’ll probably think that the stealthier the better, so you won’t really mind flying under the radar of anyone who’s not a diehard auto enthusiast. Plus, if you happen to need to haul around something bigger than a tissue box, a little extra space won’t hurt.
This brings me to today’s subject: wagons. Signs you’ve relinquished all hope of fun and excitement in your life or supercars with a couple of extra doors, you decide! No class of car has to be boring or subpar, just depends on what manufacturers do with it and station wagons are certainly no exception. So if you’re a well to do young Man or Lady and you often need to take little Billy to lacrosse practice in a hurry, frequently find yourself absolutely needing to hit Whole Foods just before it closes or time and again your Great Danes get to their vet appointments late, try one of these on for size:
Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon (2011-2013)


So full disclosure right off the bat: I love the CTS-V Sport Wagon to death and I’m (particularly) partial when it comes to it so, prepare for a lot of wide eyed puppy love kind of enthusiasm. It’s difficult to put my finger on why exactly this wagon makes me feel all tingly and stuff, but I guess it all comes down to it even being a reality. This thing shouldn’t exist at all! And yet, here it is. When you think about where Cadillac was just a few years ago, if someone had told you about this wagon then, you’d have peed your pants laughing. Anyone would. 556bhp Cadillac…in station wagon form? Ridiculous! Now it doesn’t seem ludicrous anymore, just brilliant. It isn’t burden by “sales volume”, there aren’t 15 different versions of it; it’s just a pure shout out to car lovers. A lot of people didn’t get it; a lot of people never will get it, but thankfully we (the serious folks) couldn’t care less because this thing is as appealing as hot fudge on a sundae for everyone who knows and properly understands what they’re looking at.
The V wagon is a comfortable, optioned up the wazoo hauler that just happens to be able to tie all your internal organs around your spine in a neat little bow with frightening ease. It’s also a good example of how a major league manufacturer can still take the time (and has the will) to pick the best parts available and integrate them on its finished product. Inside the Sport Wagon you get fantastic Recaro seats; brakes are supplied by Brembo. Even the engine is top shelve material and not just a new, untested, glitch lump. Sure, it’s an in-house product but it was developed for the ZR1, a car we can all agree is one of the most extraordinary creations GM ever came up with in over 100 years in the business. The CTS-V Sport Wagon even has magnetic ride, a technology GM is licensing to none other than Ferrari.

1386 CTS-V Sport Wagons came out of the factory (doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you realize they only needed to sell 39 to make all their money back, I think they did pretty ok), and that – by all accounts – will be it. Forever. The 2016 CTS-V is a gorgeous thing but Cadillac already said no way Jose to a wagon option. In a few years getting one of these things is gonna be a huge pain in the butt (one will set you back around 45 grand right now)…and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Dodge for instance is giving us the opposite problem with the Hellcat; it was supposed to be a very limited kind of insanity, and now it’s a widespread loony fest because they’re making so damn many of them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for ridiculously powerful Challengers and Chargers, but it would be nice to keep them low numbers just for the sake of future mystique/worth alone. Yeah, I sound like a money hungry douche now, but let’s talk about it again in 35 years when your Hellcat isn’t worth hundreds of thousands of dollars like it could have been cause there are a truckload of them.
But focusing back on the big bad Caddy, all the V series CTSs are pretty special, they just keep getting better and better – I’ll fight whoever says otherwise – but this one…it will always be the Queen. Long live the wagon!

Check the video for a complete walk around of what surely is one of the best looking station wagons ever made


0 to 60 in 4.0s – It beats: Aston V12 Vantage; Spyker C8 Aileron; Ferrari F430 (’09)
Right up there with: Bentley Continental GT Speed (’14); Alfa Romeo 8C
Top speed: 190 mph
Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake (2015)


Jaguar took a look at the hot rod wagon market and thought: “We need a piece of that”. The Sportbrake is the new kid on the block, but this new kid comes from old money so it’s bringing all the best toys to the playground. Jaguar jumped right in on the arms race, gearing up the XFR-S with a 550bhp 5.0 litre V8, coupled to a ZF 8 speed automatic. Sure we prefer manual boxes, but we can’t be mad at the Sportbrake…look how pretty it is! Lil tire shredding cutie!
Now when I say “lil”, I don’t mean it literally because one of the problems of the Sportbrake is that it weights almost 2 tons, and that’s a lot, even with the angry V8. What makes hot rod wagons special is that unlike the silly beefed up SUVs – which are kind of a guilty pleasure for me…I’m sorry… – they handle like a car and not like a building bouncing around on 4 tires; however, if you don’t make sure they’re as nimble as the car they’re based on, well we’ll just give up on spending a fortune, go pick up an old e39 M5 and if the kids can’t take the bikes along, well tough. Daddy still has a blast. Now you can say: but wait, the CTS-V is just as heavy, why don’t you pick on it? Well true, it is, but it carries its weight better, just look at the performance figures.
Volume aside, the Sportbrake is impressive and unlike the other wagons on this little list, there’s nothing subtle about it which is a bit of a double edge sword: it looks good and aggressive, but you probably won’t go by unnoticed, even when you want/need to. From the bright colors available to the great big vents that swallow up all the nearby wildlife, to the Equator line wide rims, not forgetting the very noticeable carbon fiber diffuser in the back, the XFR-S doesn’t just say you’ve arrived, it sucker punches people while shouting a “what up, &%$#!?”.

On the inside, it’s a Jag so you know you’re covered in terms of luxury and comfort, but reviews state that the touch screen lags, which I imagine is a slight inconvenience at first until you grow to hate it over time. Being a wagon, you’d expect to be able to cary lots of stuff in the back, but the Sportbrake seems particularly good for that with a 550L capacity (seats in place), a bunch of storage spaces throughout the interior and several rails and hooks to make sure you stuff doesn’t go flying out the rear window when you’re flooring it in order not be late for tea at Lord Pimplebottom’s manor.
Being so “in your face”, surprisingly the XFR-S is also a bit more comfortable than the Germans we’re about to discuss, more civilized on a day to day kind of use. Sure, you’d buy this thing for its amazing power and abilities, but it’s a Jag..gotta be comfy while tearing up Britain’s B roads.
Priced at over 125 grand, the XFR-S Sportbrake isn’t what you’d call cheap, but it is one of the best looking, most special Jags you can buy and on a lineup that features gorgeous models like the XJ and F-Type; that’s saying something.

Just look at it go


0 to 60 in 4.6s – It beats: Jaguar F Type S; Maserati GranTurismo S
Right up there with: Aston Martin Vanquish S, Lotus Evora S Sports Racer
Top speed: 186 mph (limited)
Audi RS6 Avant (2014 – present)


If super fast station wagons were a dynasty, the Audi would be the Dowager Countess of the lot. While AMG did it earlier, Audi institutionalized the concept and ran with it in a way no one could predict back in the day. It all started in the distant, ancient year of 1994. Audi took a page off Mercedes’ book and gave Porsche an ordinary old production model with strict instructions to go nuts. Porsche complied, and Audi 80 station wagon was poked with a stick until it was so mad that it could pull of the line faster than a McLaren F1. From the RS2 to the current RS6, a lot of things changed but the basic concept is still the same: give a wagon an attitude problem and then let it off its leash.
A product of Audi’s Quattro GmbH division, the RS6 Avant stands tall in the 550+ hp club (560 in this incarnation). The twin turbo V8 features cylinder on demand technology which is a fancy way of saying you can run around on just four cylinders until you punch it, saving a little on gas. Don’t know who’d care about gas consumption while being on the market for an RS6 Avant since they start (emphasis on start) at over 140 grand, but hey, the less dinosaurs we burn the better for the planet, so that’s nice. Let’s make Al Gore proud, damn it!
We already know this thing is fast, but does it handle? Well, the adaptive air suspension is a plus, making the RS6 respectable on the corners. Plus, Audi felt their wagon superstar was starting to get a bit chunkier than they’d like, so a weight loss program made the RS6 about 220 lb lighter than the previous version.
My one criticism of this version of the RS6 Avant would be the looks. Don’t mean to say it isn’t attractive, just don’t feel the current generation is the best looking one so far…but that’s really an issue with the whole 6 line and not just the RS. On the plus side, it’s great to go by unnoticed but it doesn’t really gets to you emotionally and that’s a problem because if you’re gonna spend this kind of money, you’ll want to connect with your ride strongly and that won’t happen if you get bored looking at it after a couple of weeks. You’d never get over the Cadillac or the Jag, but the Audi…they disguised it almost too well.

On the interior however Audi knocked it out of the park. High quality everything, but the good thing is that “everything” doesn’t overwhelm you, doesn’t create clutter. It’s a very clean, very straightforward layout for the RS6 and not a million and one buttons sprouting off the center console like mushrooms. Wouldn’t say it’s a minimalist interior, but compared to some other rides of this caliber it is – thankfully – very neat and user friendly.
Performance wise, well…do you have to ask? Personally, one of my favorite illustrations of just how much this thing slays is this video of what appears to be a Kawasaki Ninja redlining at 186 and an RS6 Avant just blasting right past like it’s no big deal and vanishing at a distance until it hits traffic and it is forced to slow down. Sublime.

But wait! There’s more…apparently Audi thinks this whole hot wagon recipe needs a bit more spiciness so there’s an upcoming – slet’s say – “update” to the Avant, something which will be called the RS6 Avant Plus. The plus means extra horsepower, 40+ of it, making this special Avant a 600bhp production wagon! The feels…

While that one doesn’t get here, enjoy some more RS6 Avant goodness



0 to 60 in 3.6s – It beats: Porsche GT3 (’11); Mercedes McLaren SLR Roadster
Right up there with: Aston Martin Vanquish (’15); Shelby GT500 (’13)
Top speed: mph 189 (limited)
Mercedes Benz E63 AMG S Wagon (2014 – present)


AMGs aren’t subtle. There’s nothing particularly refined about the way they handle because they’re far too busy being savages and tearing themselves apart. And that’s a great thing, because not only are you able to buy something ridiculously mad and ravenous, ensuring you’ll never, EVER be bored with it, but it’s also proof Germans can indeed have a sense of humor. You see, most Merkelland performance cars are instruments of precisions while AMGs are more like…well, I was gonna say hammers but that’s far too complex. They’re more like a brick…tied to a two-by-four…with some shoelaces.
Thankfully AMG is no stranger to the wagon configuration. Back in the 80’s, they did things to W124s that make hot wagon enthusiasts extremely hot and bothered and now they gave us the mother of all bonkers haulers: the E63 AMG S. E class wagon gets twin turbo 577hp V8 and all wheel drive: hilarity ensues. First things first, the current E class generation is extremely good looking. Fluid, shapely, full of sexy sexy curves everywhere. This mental version of the sensible E class wagon concept is surprisingly subtle, but that means it gets to keep all the good looks we just talked about and hey, some stealthiness! That stheathiness gets completely blown when you hear it though. The sound that comes out of the AMG S is a bit like that growl a really mean dog makes when you wake it up and it’s not all fanfare and no delivery; this thing goes like a freaking Saturn V. Ok, fine…it won’t fly you to the moon at 24.000mph, but it hauls ass more than fast enough to scare the crap out of you and put a huge smile on your face.
The biggest downside of the monster E63 is the gearbox, Mercedes’ Speedshift MCT which, by all accounts, is the most infuriating thing since that automated/manual mess on the 1st gen Vanquishes. You’ve got this exquisite symphony of power, comfort and surprisingly for an AMG, great handling (power is split 33/67 [% – front/rear] ), and then you can’t shift properly. What a shame.
Other than that, the keyless lock thing I personally find it super creepy since you have to slide your hand/fingers over the handle to lock and unlock the car and it just makes you look like a fondler with a door handle fetish.
The AMG S will set you back around 120 grand which is obscene money for a wagon…let me rephrase that, obscene money for any wagon which isn’t this one. Although it’s true that you can go get a sexy Ferrari (let’s say a 430 Spider) for that kind of money or an older one plus a luxury daily driver like Jalopnik’s Doug DeMuro mentioned when he reviewed the E63 wagon, I certainly wouldn’t, and it didn’t work out so well for him either (the Ferrari was a complain fest and the Range Rover is broken on every day with a y in it).

Let’s think about it, if you have 120 grand to drop on a car and you choose this, would you really be worried about fuel cost? Would you really be worried about being flashy? Hell no, you’d enjoy the experience with the advantage of not having to deal with silly questions from random guys off the street who’d call you “bro” every 5 seconds and cops pulling you over all the time because of reasons.
So the E63 S carries a little more junk in the trunk (sometimes quite literally) than an exotic for sure, but who cares? It’s a marvelous achievement of automotive engineering a holy grail for true enthusiasts and a practical way to have all of the thrills of 577bhp speed freak with very few of the drawbacks. Sounds good to me…

Now let Rob sell you one



0 to 60 in 3.6s – It beats: Ascari KZ1; Audi R8 5.2; Aston V12 Vantage S
Right up there with: Bentley Continental GT3-R; Lexus LFA, Viper SRT-10
Top speed: 186 mph (limited)


Images used:
Cadillac CTS V Sport Wagon


Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake

Audi RS6 Avant

Mercedes E63 AMG S Wagon




One response

28 02 2016
For Sale! [February 2016 Edition] | Automotive Views

[…] we had the opportunity to see a short while ago – click here for more wagony goodness – Audi is a wiz at making big family cars go ridiculously fast. In our […]

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