Living / Insights

2013 Audi S8: An “S” for the Best

Rev up the new year in a car that perfectly pairs style and power.

January 04, 2013

Audi aficionados knew exactly what was expected when the German purveyor of luxury cars announced their new line of “S” performance vehicles including the S6, S7 and S8, which is the company’s four-door breadwinner in terms of power output and performance. But how could that be with the fierce and mighty V10 being supplanted for a smaller, more efficient twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8? It’s called German evolution.

Audi changed degrees with enhancements to their renowned quattro all-wheel drive technology, presented fascinating new products like the Q7, R8, and A7, enriched their interior cabins from an already stellar platform, and introduced magnificent engineering technology to ensure that the driving experience is pleasurable and safe. Now, the 2013 S8 is a new topic of conversation. The twin-turbo, 4-liter V8 produces 520 horsepower, helping the aluminum space frame go from 0 MPH to 60 MPH in 3.9 seconds. Mate the powerplant with Audi’s 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with manual shift mode, and the vehicle achieves 15-city MPG and 26-highway MPG. Cylinder on Demand also aids in this mileage by transitioning eight cylinders to four cylinders when full power is not required. For example, fuel reduction at 55 MPH is 12%.

As for the interior, I felt special to say the least as the 22-way, diamond cross-stitched sport seats massaged me pleasantly. My mocha leather cabin was infused with a plethora of carbon fiber to intensify the level of craftsmanship of this German touring sedan, including the gear selector, seatbacks, dash, and center console. As I gripped the thick 3-spoke leather wheel and ignited the red Start/Stop button, the needles on the gauges rotated, the LCD screen rose from its embedded position, and the acoustic lenses from Bang & Olufsen’s big-ticket, concert-themed sound system emerged out of the dash. LED lights can also brighten up the cabin when needed.

Audi Connect, launched in the “A” cars, uses an array of various multi-media technologies along with Audi’s Multi Media Interface (MMI) for driver convenience. MMI is one of the most advanced telematics systems in the auto industry. When inputting the address in the Google Earth navigation system—which displays from the aforementioned LCD screen—superior visual computing takes over and guidance is enhanced by displaying satellite and 3D images of buildings and places of interest, as well as “Street View.” Online searches also come from Google, just as on your smartphone or laptop, and you receive weather, gas prices, RSS news feeds, and sports scores. Speaking of your smartphone, up to eight devices can connect wirelessly and search the web by way of the S8’s T-Mobile-provided hotspot. The first six months of hotspot ownership are free, with a separate monthly fee charged thereafter.

Once you reach your destination and step out to look back at the vehicle, you know you have properly arrived. With a massive grille that dominates the fascia and front air intakes, the larger 21-inch 5-star bladed rims and matching aluminum optic side view mirrors, and quad exhaust, this is not a typical A8 but an “S” driven by the very best. All you need to justify your $110,000 purchase.



SLS App Puts Luxury On Demand

Champagne delivery in 20 minutes or less, minibar cocktail recipes, and more at your fingertips.

December 19, 2012

The buzzy new SLS Hotel South Beach is jumping on the app wagon, unveiling a lifestyle application that can conjure Champagne delivery or a leisurely day planner for hotel guests. The free mobile app can be downloaded on iPhone and Android devices, as well as all SLS Hotel South Beach in-room iPads. In addition to weather updates and travel services, there are three main functions: Shake a Drink, Perfect Day in South Beach, and Bring Me Bubbles. Shake a Drink gives guests a how-to on using minibar ingredients to create world-class cocktails; Bring Me Bubbles promises rush orders of Champagne to suite doorsteps in 20 minutes or less; and Perfect Day in South Beach dons sample itineraries curated by SLS specialists, including one Lenny Kravitz, who helped design the snazzy hotel’s interiors. Get the app here1701 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-674-1701


Local Sculptor Bends Gravity

Miami sculptor Sinisa Kukec mines the laws of physics for emotional heft in his newest artworks.

December 03, 2012

A great fortune is a great indentured servant by Sinisa Kukec, 2012

“Instead of fighting gravity, how can I make it work for me?” muses Miami artist Sinisa Kukec. “What kind of accidents can I create?” That’s more than a merely abstract notion for Kukec, as evidenced by several of his pieces in “New Work Miami 2013,” a new group show surveying the Magic City at the Miami Art Museum. The gravity in question takes Kukec’s blend of vibrantly colored epoxies and sends them cascading down like unfurled tongues, draping objects such as a pair of intimately intertwined chairs. The net effect is akin to 3-D updates on Morris Louis’s color-field canvases from the late ’50s and early ’60s—like that fabled painter, Kukec is as interested in the process as in the finished result. It’s an approach that puts him in good company with several of the exhibition’s other studio-oriented artists, including sculptor Loriel Beltran and photographer Odalis Valdivieso—though unlike many of his peers, Kukec doesn’t hide behind postmodern artspeak in explaining his inspirations. One series of his works tackles a subject dear to many artists before the rise of academicism: a broken heart—Kukec’s own in this case, rendered in eye-popping shades via epoxy oozed down a large piece of paper and pooled on a Vaseline-smeared shelf attached at its bottom. Yet for all the pain supposedly channeled there, the end results are downright gorgeous, packing a viscerally pleasing punch that lingers long after you’ve left the museum. How to explain that dichotomy? “I can contradict myself in the same breath,” laughs Kukec. “It’s what being human is all about.” The opening celebration for “New Work Miami 2013” is December 6 at the Miami Art Museum, 101 W. Flagler St., Miami, 305-375-3000

—brett sokol


2013 Maserati GranTurismo Sport: Disciplined Advantage

The GranTurismo effectively combines sports car and style.

November 13, 2012

It was a sunny and breezy day in the Sonoma and Napa Valley region of Northern California for a drive in the shapely 2013 GranTurismo Sport by Maserati in Blu Sofisticato. The Italian purist provided highlight after highlight during my enlightened test drive through the vineyards—especially since the coupe speaks elegance and dominance simultaneously.

With uphill bending roads and open straightaways, I was able to truly understand Maserati’s new GT. And that’s just what the car is—a GranTurismo whose mission is not fixated on all-out acceleration or to become a full-fledged sports car, yet hones the ability to go fast intelligently. The GT Sport’s interior focuses on prestige and character rather than urgency, as demonstrated by its supple leathers, refined woods, interchangeable trims, and contrast stitching.

Detail is especially focused in a few key areas. The new steering wheel features deep thumb indentations that allow you to grip the wheel properly. Leather can be selected in any interior hue Maserati offers, while the ring material can be wood, Alcantara, or carbon fiber with Trofeo shift paddles that can be ordered in carbon fiber. The GT Sport’s new leather seats are designed in-house and feature integrated headrests for both front and rear passengers. A Bose audio system and a multi-media system with navigation and Bluetooth complete the technology package.

As for the body, it’s pretty much the same except for a few accent pieces. The rear tail lamps now have smoked lenses, new front parking sensors have been added to the aerodynamically enhanced front end, the headlamps have new LED daytime running lights, and the side grilles have been enlarged.

Under the hood, Maserati’s venerable 4.7-liter V8 remains, but with a slight power increase to 454 horsepower. And although it’s only 10 added horsepower, I certainly felt the difference from 2012’s GranTurismo S—lighter 20-inch Astro rims wrapped in staggered Pirelli P Zero tires offered amazing stability and grip, while specially-designed anodized blue Brembo six-piston calipers provided superb stopping power.

While thoughts of serenity urged me to drive more like a chauffeur, that notion played second fiddle to exploring the depths of the “sports” button while pushing all 454 horses to the limit. See, Maserati’s “sports” engagement alters the vehicle in five key areas simultaneously. They say this one optimal setting works for their customers. Others may beg to differ since drive style is so random from person to person. But whatever your preferred driving style may be, one thing is certain—the GranTurismo effectively combines sports car and style. Pricing starts at $129,500 after a destination and gas-guzzler tax.



New Exhibit: 'Warhol and Cars'

The Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale examines Warhol's fascination with cars.

November 01, 2012

Andy Warhol’s Female Fashion Figure, 1950s

There’s more than a little irony underpinning “Warhol and Cars: American Icons,” opening this month at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale. It’s not that the exhibition’s spotlight on automobile imagery isn’t a welcome addition to examinations of Andy Warhol’s more familiar iconography. And his stylized takes on autos over the years—from yacht-like 1950s Cadillacs to a sporty 1979 BMW that he used as a literal canvas, painting right onto its hood and grill—ably dramatize their ability to embody the heart of modern Americana as much as his silk-screened Marilyn Monroes or Campbell’s soup cans. But here’s the curious subtext: Warhol never had a driver’s license. In fact, his sole attempt at learning to drive ended with his crashing his 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow on Manhattan’s Park Avenue. Warhol’s relationship with cars was strictly as a passenger, whether being chauffeured out to his Montauk estate or whisked to nightclub openings in the back of cabs. So what do we ultimately learn from this show? First, that for all of Warhol’s identification with the school of appropriation, he was a masterful draftsman; his advertising illustrations from the 1950s, before he reinvented himself as a Pop artist, remain enchanting. And beyond that? Was he a closet gearhead? Or was he a critic of consumerism, regarding car culture—and all it represents about America— with a gimlet eye? There’s more than enough grist on display for both conclusions, which may have been Warhol’s paradoxical point about autos after all. “Warhol and Cars: American Icons” opens November 10 at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, 1 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-525-5500



The James Royal Palm as We Knew It

As the James Royal Palm opens on South Beach, we take a look back at the original Royal Palm.

November 01, 2012

The original Royal Palm hotel in downtown Miami, 1901

The brand-spanking-new James Royal Palm hotel is all about the postmodern order of South Beach, embellished with ironic nods to the past and money. This is another stab at the Grand Hotel dialectic, and as it happens, the original Royal Palm began in the ultimate big-time era, the robber-baron epoch of America.

In 1897, the first Royal Palm opened smack dab in the heart of downtown Miami, a year after the city was incorporated by its 312 registered voters. In this 1901 postcard image of the graceful Colonial Revival property, the focus is on a portico made for high-roller entrances. At the time, the hotel was flanked by Biscayne Bay and the then-pristine Miami River, a Paul Gauguin fantasy still used by Seminole Indians; the site now boasts the rather more pedestrian Epic Hotel and Southeast Financial Center (which used to be the Wachovia Financial Center). The Royal Palm was built by Henry Flagler’s minions, part of a string of gilded glory hotels—stretching from St. Augustine’s Hotel Ponce de Leon to the Casa Marina in Key West—that accompanied his Florida East Coast Railway. Money goes to money: Colonel John Jacob Astor, who would die on the Titanic in 1912, was one of the Royal Palm’s first guests.

In 1930, the Royal Palm, after taking hits from a killer hurricane and, more prosaically, termites, was quietly demolished, going out with a whimper. In 1939, the first Miami Beach incarnation opened, on the site where today’s James Royal Palm is situated. Since then, various owners have expanded and boutique-ized the property; the current owner is KSL Capital Partners, a powerful corporation with countless hotels. Henry Flagler is long gone, though it’s interesting to think what his response would have been to a Royal Palm hotel that touts rooms with eco-friendly Keetsa pillows and iPod/mp3 docking stations.


—tom austin


All About Acupuncture

The Standard Spa acupuncturist invites you to go under the needles and find your center.

October 11, 2012

This month, The Standard Spa’s resident acupuncturist and astrologist, Lori Bell, will take Miamians on a five-phase journey through the world of Chinese medicine and acupuncture. In a special workshop ($30) on October 22, Bell will help students discover their core type (earth, fire, wood, metal, or water) and learn how to balance their “qi,” or life force, which is the goal of Chinese wellness practices, such as acupuncture.

"Our bodies are constantly seeking to balance and strengthen naturally. We are always changing and adjusting to stress daily, and I help balance that out by approaching the body as a whole—the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual," said Bell, who specializes in Chinese medicine and has apprenticed in China and Tibet. In her nearly 20 year career, Bell as worked with patients suffering from infertility, AIDS, and paralysis. She hosts several sessions at The Standard Spa each month and is available for private appointments. All courses also allow for unlimited use of The Standard's popular hammam bathhouse. 40 Island Ave., Miami Beach, 305-673-1717



2013 Range Rover Gets Major Updates

New model is lighter, stronger, but still prestigious.

September 17, 2012

Land Rover’s iconic Range Rover has received major updates and changes for its 2013 model, which will debut at the Paris Auto Show in late September. One of the more significant revisions is the adaptation of an all-aluminum unibody that is 39% lighter than the outgoing steel body of previous generations. Contingent on the market, the new Range Rover will see reduced weight of up to 926 pounds. In the United States, a naturally aspirated 5-liter V8 drops roughly 700 pounds. Based on the laws of gravity, this re-engineering technique makes the luxury British SUV faster, stronger, and more agile with greater levels of ride comfort, refinement, and control.

Also retuned is the four-corner air suspension, which according to Land Rover, allows for improved cornering and steering as well as the pairing of the motor with new eight-speed ZF automatic transmissions. The next generation of Rover’s Terrain Response, which examines the conditions and surfaces of the road and automatically chooses the best settings for the terrain, is yet another premium upgrade to the Range.

The interior has been stretched a bit to permit for over 4.7 inches more legroom than the 2012 model, while the option of a two-place rear seating package adds dimension to the interior execution. Rounding out the offerings for the all-new 2013 Range Rover are standard sound systems by British audio maker MeridianTM; a split power folding upper and lower tailgate; and intelligent safe driver assistance technologies. U.S. deliveries are currently scheduled for December.

—Kimatni Rawlins,


Sartorial Soccer Players

Domenico Dolce captures iconic soccer players for his first photography book.

August 29, 2012

RIGHT: Marco Andreolli of Club Chievo, from Campioni

Best known for being half of the design team Dolce & Gabbana, Domenico Dolce has decided to show the world that his passions also reside in photography. This month, he releases his first book, Campioni (Rizzoli; $200), available at Dolce & Gabbana Bal Harbour. It highlights 67 iconic and up-and-coming soccer players destined to take their sport into the future. Shot in portrait format, each athlete plays a character appearing against a stark, white background to highlight his personality and features. There is a palpable connection between Dolce and his subjects that can be seen throughout the book. Stefano Gabbana, Dolce’s longtime partner, adds: “In Domenico’s photos, fashion and sport meet and confront themselves. They talk about style and male aesthetic. His images do not promote a product—they are portraits. They speak to the heart.” Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-866- 0503


Rainy Day Reads

Buff up on your knowledge of South Florida—from foreign policy to food.

August 27, 2012


Around The Web
Aspen Peak Magazine Austin Way Magazine Boston Common Magazine Capitol File Magazine Gotham Magazine Hamptons Magazine Los Angeles Confidential Michigan Avenue Magazine Ocean Drive Magazine Philadelphia Style Magazine Vegas Magazine