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In our latest episode we talk to the Sultan of Symmetry and bodybuilding legend, “Flex” Wheeler. Flex is an International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness Hall Of Famer. Flex has won the Arnold Classic four times being described by Arnold Schwarzenegger himself as one of the greatest bodybuilders he had ever seen. In other competitions he has won 5 Iron Man Pro competitions and was runner up in Mr. Olympia in 1993, 1998 and 1999. Aside from bodybuilding Flex is also an author and martial artist.
The current generation Lexus RC was launched in 2013, however with the new IS 500 model on the way we are not sure what the future holds for the RC. This means that we think the RC F Fuji Speedway Edition could be the send off for the RC we were hoping for. The RC F Fuji Speedway Edition is named after the world-renowned “Temple of Speed” in the foothills of Mount Fuji—the birthplace of Lexus high-performance, in Oyama, Japan.
The wonderfully sonorous V8 is the 5.0-liter Lexus unit that produces 472 hp at 7,100 rpm and 395 lb-ft at 4,800 rpm. It is paired with an 8 speed Aisin automatic transmission, it has less power than its European rivals, but it makes up for that by having a raucous V8 instead of whistling turbos. Lexus has swapped out the standard Torque Vectoring Differential for a Torsen unit that provides better traction and power delivery for both track and road. While driving it around town it is mild mannered and happy to be easy-going and benign with light and lazy throttle inputs, but it quickly jumps into action with any input past half-throttle and pushing it over 2,200 RPM.
The vehicle itself is limited to just 60 units and takes after the RC F Track Edition that debuted last year. Similar to the Track Edition, the Fuji Speedway Edition adds Brembo carbon ceramic brakes (14.9-inch rotors and 6-piston front/4-piston rear calipers never hint at any degree of fade), a titanium exhaust and has gone through an extensive weight savings program that includes a big dose of carbon fiber. The bonnet, roof, wing, front spoiler, rear-seat partition and bumper reinforcement are all made of carbon fiber. What really stood out to us was how aggressive the car looks, the rear wing is positively menacing in the rearview mirror. Up front, the huge black grille is framed by a carbon-fiber splitter and two aggressive air intakes at each side to cool the brakes. The bonnet is made of molded carbon fiber that’s absolutely beautiful to look at on both sides, and the wing looks incredible for being factory-equipped, with a deep finish and F badging woven into its winglets. Another key takeaway are the vents at the back of the fenders are functional and used to remove built up air pressure and improve overall aerodynamics. When you combine all of these additions I don’t think any other car on the market has this amount of factory carbon fiber and aero engineered at this price point. All these weight savings and additions help the 0-60 mph time fall to 3.96 seconds, down from the 4.2 seconds of the standard RC F.
The Fuji Speedway Edition only comes in Arctic Blast Satin or Cloudburst Gray add in the forged BBS wheels and it is separated from any other RC out there. Every Fuji Speedway Edition car will also come with a Circuit Red leather interior and Alcantara accents. Red carbon fiber trim is added to make the interior feel even more special. As a final touch, Lexus is including a limited production MSTR watch with each car. It has Fuji Speedway and F logos, and also features red stitching on its band to match the interior. The interior is spacious and provides good visibility all-around, it is comfortable at any speeds with a quiet, well-insulated interior to help drown out road and wind noise. However one addition that stands out inside is the addition of a single button that just reads “Launch Control”.
Getting in the driver’s seat and you feel at ease, the brakes feel like they’ll stop a train and the steering has tremendous feel, accuracy and feedback. This all makes it an absolute joy to drive. When you are behind the wheel you feel the car rather than asking, telling you it wants to go fast. Sport and Sport+ modes are much firmer in the Fuji and you will get bumped around no matter what setting you are in. You do have very little body roll thanks to its F Adaptive Variable Suspension and in addition to these Sachs-sourced dampers it’s all multi-link, fully-independent engineering under its arches.
Lexus has given the standard RC F a couple worthwhile upgrades, too. Android Auto is now in the picture, joining Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa, however it still features the Achilles heel of the touchpad (Lexus’ Remote Touch). Additionally, Lexus has made blind-spot warnings with rear cross-traffic alert standard, alongside heated exterior mirrors and a memory driver’s seat. Lexus also made parking sensors part of the Premium Package. The RC F Fuji comes standard with adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings, and automatic high beams.
Pricing is set at $97,100 some $30K more than the standard RC F our test vehicle had some options including LED headlamps ($1,160), Navigation Package with Mark Levinson Audio (2,725), and Intuitive Park Assist ($500) taking the price to $102,510 including destination. Yes it does cost more than the base model BMW M4 and Mercedes AMG C 63 Coupe, but when taken into account additions to make them comparable the Lexus is a cheaper option. Lexus has done an impressive job with the look and feel of the Fuji Special edition. The 2021 Lexus RC F Fuji Speedway Edition is a special car indeed, in the end I had a ton of fun inside the Fuji Speedway edition and I couldn’t stop smiling, however I will be honest and say I was devastated when I had to give the keys back.
Trevor McClure of StraightChicane is a Championship-Winning Sports Car Spotter, Race Strategist, Chef and Consultant. He has over 20 years experience at race tracks around the globe. This all started with him becoming a marshal at Virginia International Raceway. Over the years in his different positions he has contributed to nearly 40 Championships and Vice-Championships, from IMSA, ALMS, Grand-Am, 24h Series, TCR, SCCA, NASA, and others. To top it off Trevor has also played a part in a unique achievement as he has helped with wins at both the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring more than once.
Gary Boulanger our latest guest is a storyteller. He started telling stories in 1987 intertwining music, sports, bicycles and motorcycles together seamlessly. In his current role at FOX Factory he is the Communications Marketing Manager for Powersports. This means he and his team promotes the hard work done by FOX in the UTV, snow, motorcycle, truck and off-road sectors. However before FOX he was an editor with stints at The Vintagent and Cycleworld to name a few, where he would regale readers about his tales on motorized vehicles. His real forte though is capturing the backstory and his hope is to inspire you to ride. But that doesn’t account for the many other hats Gary has worn so make sure you listen.
Based on the Atlas, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport adopts a more rakish design but as a result loses the third row of seats in the process. Other than that, the Cross Sport is nearly identical to its bigger brother. Even the engine options are the same: A 235-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter is standard, and a 276-hp 3.6-liter V-6 is optional. Both come with an eight-speed automatic transmission and can be had with either front- or 4Motion all-wheel-drive. Despite the lower roofline and abbreviated rear end, the Atlas Cross Sport offers plenty of space for both passengers and cargo. With a focus on interior space and comfort, plus an eye toward technology on upscale trims, the Atlas Cross Sport is one of the more opulent offerings in its class.
The 3.6-liter V-6 delivers a 7.5-second 60-mph time, and is slightly quicker than a similarly equipped three-row Atlas. During our test drive, we found the Cross Sport lacks the sporty driving dynamics that its fastback rear end would suggest. The 4-cylinder Atlas Cross Sport has a max tow rating of only 2,000 pounds. With the V6 and the addition of the optional tow package, that increases to 5,000 pounds.
The four-cylinder Atlas Cross Sport comes with EPA fuel-economy ratings of 21 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined for the front-wheel-drive model and 18, 23, and 20 mpg, respectively, for the all-wheel-drive version. The V-6 is as expected thirstier, with ratings of 17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway, and 19 mpg combined for the front-driver. The all-wheel-drive model with the six-cylinder returns the same combined rating but drops to 16 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway.
Those familiar with the three-row VW will find the Atlas Cross Sport’s interior quite familiar, despite an updated steering wheel and stitched door panels. Because the Atlas Cross Sport has only two rows of seats, its backbench is super spacious, and it has three more inches of legroom than a standard Atlas. What’s more, the cargo area behind the rear seat is huge and able to hold over 40 cubic feet.
All Atlas Cross Sports come with an updated touchscreen MIB3 infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Navigation is optional, as is a reconfigurable gauge display and SiriusXM satellite radio. VW‘s Car-Net connectivity app allows for remote starting and analytics. Plus, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot lets occupants remain connected to the internet while on the go. All of the new VW Atlas Cross Sports also are equipped with a blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert. We like both of these safety technologies. The former makes lane changes much safer by letting the driver know if there is a vehicle in the Cross Sport’s rear three-quarter blind spot. The latter makes reversing out of a parking spot much easier.
Our loan vehicle was the top of the line SEL Premium R-Line 4Motion and had the following features over the base model which certainly helped provide a grand experience when racking up the miles:
V6 Engine Standard all-wheel drive 21-inch wheels from SEL Power-folding side mirrors with puddle lights 12-speaker Fender sound system Leather upholstery Ventilated front seats Heated rear seats Rear side window sunshades Leather upholstery Park assist (automatic steering system allowing the Atlas Cross Sport to fit into tight parallel parking spaces) Surround-view camera (gives you a top-down view of the Atlas Cross Sport and its surroundings for tight parking situations)
We had previously tested the 2020 Atlas Cross Sport and it does enter 2021 with minimal changes but that “minimal change” is very cool. The SEL has been upgraded with Travel Assist and Emergency Assist. Travel Assist is VW’s semi-autonomous driving system in which the Atlas Cross Sport steers, accelerates, and brakes by itself on the highway. With Emergency Assist, if the Atlas Cross Sport detects no steering, braking or acceleration inputs, it will awaken the driver by jiggling the steering wheel. If there’s no driver response, the hazard lights will start flashing and the Cross Sport will be brought to a safe stop, using the radar of the adaptive cruise to prevent a collision with a vehicle ahead. The R-Line appearance package adds sports styling with new front and rear bumpers, metal pedal caps.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the Atlas Cross Sport a five-star overall crash-test rating but it missed out on a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Volkswagen is equipping all Atlas Cross Sports with automated emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring, but if you want more advanced driver-assistance features, you’ll have to go with one of the higher trim levels. Volkswagen offers a four-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper policy. The powertrain warranty falls behind others, which stretch to five or even 10 years. However VW does cover the first two years of scheduled maintenance for its owners.
Like the regular Atlas, the Atlas Cross Sport was designed and developed for the U.S. market, and it’s built at VW’s factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The 2021 VW Atlas starts out at an affordable $32,565 before destination (for FWD; AWD adds $1,900 to the bottom line), but things increase rapidly rather quickly, with the highest I4 trim costing $48,215 and V6 models ranging from $39,315 to $51,715. The Atlas Cross Sport will not do as much off-roading as other vehicles in the class like the Honda Passport, Grand Cherokee and Subaru Outback. Instead, it is more at home on suburban streets with trips to school or the grocery store thanks to its space and the comfortable ride.
Brooke Berini is a Boston native now living, working, and pursuing a higher education in Washington, D.C. But she might be better known as the pilot of the ‘Alpha Princess’ a pink chrome Nissan GT-R that Brooke drives faster than almost anyone else on the planet. However if we turn back the clock Brooke learned to drive on the family farm. In her quest for quickness, this led to her modifying cars since well before she was able to legally drive. Once she had her license in hand nothing could stop her from obtaining the car of her dreams, a Nissan GT-R. A road trip led to a purchase of a GT-R a few road rallies later and Brooke was smitten. The GT-R was transformed thanks to the help of AMS Performance and now Brooke is known as one of the fastest GT-R drivers in the world thanks to her skills behind the wheels of her chrome pink Alpha Princess.
Jamey Price is a motorsport and automotive photographer from Charlotte, North Carolina. His motorsport work has taken him around the globe more than once. His interest in photography was not his first aspiration although his love affair with the camera eventually won out. Growing up near the farms of Charlotte, Price got his fix racing on thoroughbreds across the United States that led to a season in England and Ireland. In his college years his competition efforts took place in the swimming pool. However influenced by both of his grandmothers who worked as professional photographers, throughout that time, Price covered his life in horse racing and swimming from behind the camera, taking photos between his races.
Our latest podcast guest is Hugo Eccles the Co-founder of Untitled Motorcycles, a company based in San Francisco and London that designs and builds custom motorcycles. Aside from being a motorcycle builder, Eccles is also a professor of industrial design at California College of the Arts (CCA). Eccles graduated from the Royal College of Art in London before starting work at IDEO. He emigrated to the US in 2003 to become global director of product design at Fitch, winning numerous awards including an IDEA Gold. From there, he went on to head the Arnell Group Innovation Lab in New York. In 2010, he returned to the UK to work with Sir Terence Conran as MD of Studio Conran, and later to serve as creative director at Native Design.
His background in industrial design clearly has an influence on his motorcycle designs. Eccles’ most recent build is the ZERO XP, an experimental electric motorcycle that explores the future of motorcycles by taking a first-principles design approach.
For more than 60 years the Toyota Land Cruiser has conquered every corner of the earth and covered the world’s harshest and most demanding terrain without missing a beat. We consider it to have a world class resume as an off-roader, however the current model comes across as more luxurious than adventurous. Think more driving to the top of the mountain and departing your Land Cruiser in a suit to attend the ball. Still, this large multi-row SUV continues to be sturdily built and hugely capable. While it is not as opulent as its corporate counterpart, the Lexus LX, the Land Cruiser has been outfitted with a plethora of upscale features in an attempt to justify its sticker price at over $85,000 ($90,141 including delivery was our loaner sticker price). Toyota introduced the current-generation Land Cruiser over a decade ago for the 2008 model year and it received a midcycle face-lift for 2016. The Toyota Land Cruiser employs a body-on-frame construction and paired with its world class suspension setup it is virtually unmatched in its class compared to many of its competitors which are luxury-focused crossovers.
There is absolutely no doubt that the Land Cruiser is heavy, however the standard 381-hp and 401 lb-ft of torque V-8 engine pushes her along easily. According to Toyota, 90% of peak torque is available at 2,200 rpm, this comes in most handy when driving at low speeds and exploring off-road terrain. The engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and while it is smooth it is not particularly fuel efficient, 13 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway. Full-time four-wheel drive is standard and the ride quality is incredibly smooth and delivers very comfortable driving dynamics through the light steering. We are incredibly impressed by the trail-ready equipment such as a two-speed transfer case and a locking center differential. The Land Cruiser lacks the prestige of its equally expensive counterparts, but it is a lot more capable than most of them out in the trails which is hugely important for those few buyers who will actually venture there. The Land Cruiser is also capable of towing up to 8100 pounds, which is substantial but still slightly lower than some rivals, such as the Chevy Tahoe and Ford Expedition.
As far as the Land Cruiser’s cabin is concerned, it’s all about the execution, and there’s an impressive attention to detail at play. While the cabin isn’t as visually opulent as that of rivals such as the Mercedes GLS-class, it’s home to top-rate materials. The build quality is excellent, and knobs and switches move with a weightiness that conveys quality. The front row provides comfortable accommodations and commanding sightlines. There’s lots of room in the second row, but the third row is best suited for kids. With the standard eight-person seating setup, the Land Cruiser provides 16 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row and 41 cubic feet behind the second. Another handy feature is unlike most SUVs, which use a single liftgate, the Land Cruiser has a clamshell design where the top and bottom portions lift and fold.
The Land Cruiser comes fully loaded with a bevy of appealing tech features. Standard Bluetooth connectivity facilitates hands-free phone conversations when you’re behind the wheel, although it still lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. All models come with wireless device charging and an integrated navigation system with a 9.0-inch touchscreen. Satellite radio is standard, as well as a 14-speaker JBL sound system. On the options list, there’s a rear-seat entertainment system with a pair of wireless headphones and two 11.6-inch display screens which was included on our loan vehicle. One of our favorite features of the Land Cruiser is the center-console that has a cooler box that keeps your beverages cold.
The Land Cruiser also comes equipped with a host of advanced driving aids, including: Forward collision mitigation, Lane departure warning, Blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, Adaptive cruise control and a 360-degree camera system for tight parking situations.
The Land Cruiser falls to more modern, more compromised competitors in terms of dynamics, efficiency, and interior packaging, but this Toyota offers something else. If you want a strong dose of old-school cool and a rig capable of taking you just about anywhere, the Land Cruiser is a no-brainer. No vehicle in the Toyota lineup has more history than the Land Cruiser which has been built by the automaker as its off-road flagship since it was developed for the Korean War in the early 1950s. Although dimensionally smaller than the Sequoia, the Land Cruiser’s heritage and off-road prowess justify its title as the most expensive Toyota sold in North America. However sadly the Land Cruiser will not return for the 2022 model year but could re-emerge in the future with a more modern design, better efficiency, updated technology, and a more luxurious cabin. The vehicle is certainly leaving as the most refined Land Cruiser ever but we can’t want to see it reemerge in the future.
NoBraking is an international collective of creative individuals, who came together to celebrate their shared love for machines. Established in 2011, NoBraking was created to provide an online magazine for automotive enthusiasts.