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Private Preview 2003: Seven Wonders of the Week

Fluto Shinzawa

A fine car has finite characteristics: a powerful engine, striking lines, an inviting interior. Such a vehicle is also imbued with an elusive, ethereal aura that stamps the machine with a presence that is fitting for a particular moment.

Just as we choose to wear different styles of clothing on different days to suit the feel of the occasion, we grab the keys to the car that best complements our mood at that moment. In recognition of this truth, we considered it fitting to present an appropriate car from the upcoming 2003 offerings for each day of the week. Our one regret is that the week comprises only seven days.

Monday
The weekend is over. Paperwork covers the desk. The espresso machine drips with the maddening, measured regularity of a water torture. There’s catching up to be done—in the Mercedes-Benz SLR. The supercar is powered by a 5.5-liter V-8 engine, and the body is made of carbon fiber, giving the SLR speed (200 mph) and weight (3,080 pounds).

The SLR blends styling from Mercedes’ modern Formula One racecars with that of the 1950s-era 300SL. The arrow- shaped front end, for example, resembles Mika Hakkinen’s 1998 F/1 ride, while the SLR’s hinged doors swing forward at 75-degree angles like those of a gullwing coupe.

The 550-hp engine gives the two-seater a zero-to-60 time of 4 seconds, so arriving at the office on time is guaranteed—no matter how late you leave home.

Tuesday
Take an employee out for coffee or meet your private banker for lunch, and he’ll surely consider the occasion a special one when you open the doors to the new Maserati Quattroporte. The Quattroporte can serve as an executive sedan, but its sporty looks and powerful performance would be wasted if the car were used merely as a VIP transport.

Pininfarina, the design house famous for its collaboration with Ferrari, styled the Quattroporte’s swooping lines, elegant hood, and hefty hips. The Quattroporte’s engine will likely be at least the equal of the Spyder’s 4.2-liter, 390-hp V-8. Maserati has yet to release the engine specs, but regardless of its power, the Quattroporte could almost get by on looks alone.

Wednesday
The week has been a frenzied fusion of deals and decisions, and you’re running late to the board of directors meeting. To unwind from the chaos of the week, as well as to make it to the meeting on time, the Porsche Carrera GT should be the vehicle of choice.

This is a serious carbon-fiber supercar that makes even the Porsche 911 GT2 seem sluggish. The Carrera GT boasts a top speed of 205 mph, and its 6.0-liter, 558-hp V-10 provides a rocketlike zero-to-60 time of less than 4 seconds.

Porsche plans to build 1,000 models in its new production facility in Leipzig, Germany. Perhaps you can pencil in a visit to the factory for some slow Wednesday next year.

Thursday
Remember college, when you would schedule no Friday classes so that the weekend could begin Thursday night? If we could devise a way to perpetuate this scheme today, the fun-loving BMW 6 Series would be the car we’d take out on Thursday evening.

The 6 Series resembles the Z9 Gran Turismo concept car that BMW unveiled in 1999, minus the Z9’s gullwing doors. Although details have not been finalized, the 645Ci should have a 4.5-liter V-8 that will give the car 333 hp. BMW is also planning an M6 performance model—probably too late to release next year—that, with its 500-hp V-10, should compete with the Jaguar XKR. “We also plan to put on the market an open-top version of this vehicle,” says BMW CEO Joachim Milberg.

Even better—especially for a Thursday with a three-day weekend ahead.

Friday
Check out early from the office and check into the Ferrari Enzo (previously known as the FX). The supercar, named after the company founder, bundles the best of Ferrari’s road cars with its Formula One machines.

While you might be tempted to blast around town in the Enzo, it is meant for the racetrack. First and foremost, on congested streets, you’ll be constantly frustrated by the crowd-control factor: Onlookers will swarm to the car to get a better look, forcing you to drive this 650-hp machine at a crawl. Also, this is not a user-friendly car. You have to master the paddle shifters, negotiate the stiff body, and keep the car from rocketing away.

Combine the Enzo’s performance, styling, and cachet, and the supercar gives new meaning to TGIF: Thank God It’s Ferrari.

Saturday
Because you can always spend Sunday recovering from bruises, load the skis in the back of the Porsche Cayenne and head for some action. In fact, driving the four-wheel-drive SUV might be enough action in itself.

The Turbo version includes a 450-hp, 4.5-liter V-8 that will give the Cayenne enough oomph to motor up any hill. Roughriders can order the optional off-road technology package, which offers special side protection, a steel plate to shield the radiator, and a fully controllable differential lock on the rear axle, which you can activate to ensure the best traction possible.

On firmer ground, the portly Cayenne Turbo (5,192 pounds), which looks like a standard SUV from the rear and a 911 from the front, has a top speed of 165 mph and can sprint from zero to 62 mph in 5.6 seconds—numbers that are appropriate for Porsche.

Sunday
For those who thought the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7 Series were the only sedan choices for leisurely Sunday drives, another option is the Volkswagen Phaeton. This is no Passat. Although the Phaeton features the pedestrian VW badge on its grille, the sedan’s rear, with its twin pairs of chrome tailpipes, hints at its power and regality.

The Phaeton is powered by the 6.0-liter W12, two V-6 units joined to deliver
420 hp, giving the car 405 ft lbs of torque at 4,000 rpm. Top speed for the 5-speed automatic is limited to 155 mph, which is perfect for the relaxed pace of a lazy Sunday afternoon. Click on the 4-Zone Climatronic, the air-conditioning system that adjusts the temperature in each of the car’s four quadrants; set the damper for Comfort; and see if you don’t forget that you’re driving a Volkswagen.

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