Day: July 3, 2019

We drove a stylish $273,244 Aston Martin DB11 Volante convertible to see if it’s worth the massive price — here’s the verdict

Source: Business Insider On:

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A few years ago, we got a look at the power, beauty, and soul of the stunning new Aston Martin DB11, in coupé form. Price tag: $254,084.

Last year, we checked out the drop-top version — the Aston Martin DB11 Volante. Price tag: $273,244.

OK, so this much power, and soul doesn’t come cheap. But then again, if you have James Bond aspirations, you’re talking about Tom Ford suits, good scotch, and the best Champagne. The lifestyle has some costs — but living well, as it’s been said, is the best revenge.

I’m a massive Aston Martin fan. The DB9 is one of my all-time favorite cars, and while the DB11 we sampled last year is burlier than its forebears, it continues the tradition of Astons being the stylish, thinking-person’s muscle car. That isn’t all show, either. Aston Martin competes in high-level endurance racing worldwide, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France (the race car is derived from the DB11’s stablemate, the Vantage).

But here’s the cool thing about Aston’s grand tourers: They’re fast, but they don’t need to be driven to the edge. You can thrum along at 40 mph and feel like the slickest, smoothest cat in town. Sure, you’ll want to dress the part. Astons are so suave that you can’t get away with jeans and a t-shirt. Believe me, I’ve tried. And failed.

Aston was kind enough to let us borrow the 2019 DB11 Volante for a few days. Our coupé came with a stately Magnetic Silver paint job. The Volante’s was a slightly flashier “Pearl Blonde,” and the exquisite leather interior was two-tone “Blue Haze” and “Coral Sand.” So the Volante wasn’t exactly holding back.

Here’s how it all went down.

Photos by Hollis Johnson.

SEE ALSO: We drove a $150,000 Porsche Panamera Turbo and an $86,000 Cadillac CTS-V to see which mega-sedan was our favorite — here’s the verdict

Behold: the glorious beauty of the DB11. We weren’t sure about the Pearl Blonde paint job, especially with the blue top, but in about 15 minutes I was loving it. The weather in New York City was ideal for a convertible.

I never get tired of looking at an Aston.

Even from a distance, the DB11 Volante just pops.

The shape is classic GT, and although it’s broken slightly by the convertible top, the sinuous, athletic lines and flowing curves of the Aston are unmistakable. The entire design fits together like a muscular animal drawn from nature.

Pure sculpture: long, low, and wide. There’s just enough exterior detail — vents and scoops and cuts-ins — to keep matters lively.

With that much hood up front, the risk for the DB11 Volante is that it would fall out of proportion. But it doesn’t. The bold read haunches keep the design in balance.

The rear is stunning — an achievement, given that the back end has to accommodate the top when retracted. Note how the tail lights and headlamps are proportional in terms of graphic mass without resembling each other too much.

There’s also some tech back there.

“One of the major triumphs of the DB11’s design is the new AeroBlade system, which creates a virtual spoiler using jets of air directed through discrete ducts located on the decklid of the car,” Business Insider’s Ben Zhang noted in his review of the DB11 coupé last year.

“This allows Aston to deliver great downforce without the need for a large and unsightly spoiler. There is a small retractable spoiler, but that’s only deployed at high speed.”

The Volante alters the design a bit, due to the lack of C-pillars and the convertible roof, but it retains the spoiler.

The top retracts in about 15 seconds.

And I’m ready for some open-air motoring!

Do you agree that the DB11 Volante makes just as stunning an impression with the top dropped? To be honest, I think it looks sharper — and better than the coupé!

The forged alloy wheels will run you $5,400 extra. And the brake calipers? $1,600. In total, our tester came with just under $60,000 in options.

In an era of brash, oversize badges, Aston still whispers. Because it can.

Let’s slip inside.

The door sill plaques reminds you that the DB11 is England-made. Well, 66% anyway. The engine and transmission are German, from Mercedes-AMG.

Mercedes owns 5% of Aston, which is small, private carmaker in a world of big conglomerates. The company brings in only about $1 billion a year and can’t push nearly as hard as larger concerns, so it has to join up with others to make a go of it. In 2017, Aston sold 5,100 vehicles.

Oh my. I mean, c’mon. You’re encased in luxury. Having a bad day? Then just go sit in your Aston Martin DB11 Volante for a few minutes to decompress, cheer up, be pampered.

The view from the modest rear seats. Yes, the blue gives the DB11 Volante a bit of a Frank Sinatra edition vibe, but I dug it.

The Tamo Ash seat backs are gorgeous — and $2,000 extra.

It’s extremely pleasant to be the driver of this thing.

Again, that subtle winged badge.

And a tachometer front and center on the instrument panel. As it should be.

Adult in the back seats? Maybe. More likely, pre-teens. Or just a $2,000 linen sportcoat and an Hermès handbag.

So discreet.

The seats and leather trim are “brogued,” just as with fine benchmade shoes.

The DB11’s interior is ultra-mega-premium and relatively uncluttered. The gearshifts are handled by buttons in the center stack, and 8-speed transmission can be manually operated using paddles behind the steering wheel.

The infotainment system is borrowed from Mercedes, operated via a touchpad between the seats. It generates no problems: audio, navigation, Bluetooth pairing, USB/AUX inputs — all check. If you need contemporary infotainment tech in your throwback GT car, you won’t be disappointed.

These speakers rise from the dash. The Bang & Olufsen BeoSound audio system is an $8,300 options. It sounds pretty good, but to be honest I’ve never been blown away by the audio setups in any Aston. I think it has something to do with the snug design of the cockpits. Doesn’t provide a great acoustic environment.

The truck is large enough to handle a few pieces of luggage — enough for a weekend getaway.

The key fob. My biggest complaint about the car. It’s a lightweight piece of cheap plastic. Not a great place to cut corners, Aston!

In days of yore, a lovely crystal key had to be inserted in the dashboard to start the car. No more. Now we have a plastic fob and a push-button. Sigh …

As much as the DB11 is about aesthetics, this is a sports car, so let’s examine the Mercedes-AMG-sourced engine tucked beneath the hood.

That’s a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, making 503 horsepower.

What, no V12? 

Right. As Ben Zhang noted when reviewing the DB11 coupé, pop the hood on that sucker and “you’ll find a sublime 5.2 liter, twin-turbocharged V12.”

That engine serves up 600-horsepower and a 3.9-second 0-60 mph sprint, with a 200 mph top speed.

The V8 can manage just 187 mph. But the 0-60 mph run happens just a whisker slower, in about 4 seconds.

It was inspected by one Joseph Rush. Nice work, Mr. Rush!

So what’s the verdict?

Ben and I agreed that we like the Volante better than the coupé. Nothing wrong with the hardtop — a trained killer in a Savile Row suit, according to Ben— but it’s sort of the same thing I feel about the V6 Jaguar F-Type versus the F-Type R. The bigger engine and more stonking power doesn’t necessarily provide a superior driving experience. 

The V8 is a German motor, of course, and the V12 is Aston-made. But while a massive V12 looks good on paper, a V8 offers ample power and relieves Aston of the burden of dealing with regulatory hurdles associated with dinosaur propulsion. To a degree. We’re still talking about just 20 mpg combined here.

The DB11 Volante doesn’t feel lighter or friskier than the Coupé — it has that same extremely purposeful vibe, supremely confident going fast in a straight line accompanied by a throaty roar of combustion through the dual exhaust pipes, supremely confident diving into corners, supremely confident racing away from semis on the highway, supremely confident just cruising through the New Jersey suburbs (well, as supremely confident as a car can be in that environment). 

The Aston, then, is pretty much in its element no matter what the circumstances. This makes for an endlessly blissful experience, and it should, given the price tag. You very much get what you pay for. The old knockabout convertible being less thrilling to drive than hardtops doesn’t apply. The Volante serves up a rush that’s equal to the coupé, even with almost 100 less horsepower on tap.

So as much as I love the old DB9, I might have a new favorite Aston.

 

Gas and diesel prices rose at the worst possible time for drivers in the US and these states are being affected most

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  • Gas and diesel taxes went up in a handful of US states on July 1.
  • Those increases are happening in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Vermont.
  • There are various reasons for the hikes, depending on the state, but they are primarily meant to help fund maintenance and improvements for roads, bridges and other infrastructure around the country.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Gas and diesel taxes have risen in 12 states, most prominently in Illinois, Ohio, and California.

Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Vermont have also implemented hikes. There are various reasons for the increases, depending on the state, but they are primarily meant to help fund maintenance and improvements for roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure around the country.

For some states, the gas tax increase has been long delayed. Some states have postponed this increase for several years due to the political challenges, Carl Davis, a research director at the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy, told Business Insider. Davis is an expert in transportation infrastructure funding.

“Lawmakers don’t want to take a vote to raise the price of gas, but at the same time, drivers don’t want to drive over an unsafe bridge or hit a pothole or be stuck in a traffic congestion,” Davis said. “There are inevitable tradeoffs here, and navigating these tradeoffs can be tricky.”

These are the states that have increased their gas tax rates:

California

California’s gas tax increased by 5.6 cents per gallon to a total of 47.3 cents per gallon. This was the final increase from a 2017 bill that was created to help pay for infrastructure improvements. The gas tax rate will now be adjusted for inflation on an annual basis.

Connecticut

The tax rate on diesel fuel jumped 2.6 cents, bringing it to a total of 46.5 cents per gallon. This is still lower than the state’s 2013 peak of 54.9 cents.

Illinois

The gas tax in Connecticut is up 19 cents, doubling the previous tax for a total of 38 cents per gallon. The diesel tax increased by 24 cents to nearly 46 cents per gallon.

Indiana

Gas taxes in the Hoosier State increased 0.5 cents per gallon, and diesel will increase by a penny per gallon.

According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, in Indiana, both of these taxes “are updated annually to keep pace with inflation and the rate of personal income growth in Indiana.”

Maryland

Gas and diesel taxes increased 1.4 cents to a total of 36.7 cents per gallon. The change is due to a 2013 formula which increases the tax rate in accordance with inflation and fuel prices.

Michigan

The taxes increased by 0.1 cents for gas and 0.2 cents for diesel. The tax rates differ each month, depending on the price of fuel.

Montana

Gas taxes rose by 0.5 cents, while diesel rose by 0.2 cents. Both increases are the result of 2017 legislation that will spur incremental gas tax hikes through July 2022.

Nebraska

Tax rates for both gas and diesel rose by 0.1 cents.

Ohio

Gas taxes rose by 10.5 cents per gallon in Ohio, while diesel rose by 19 cents to a total of 47 cents per gallon.

Rhode Island

Drivers in Rhode Island got a one-cent tax increase on gas and diesel in the state, for a total tax of 34 cents per gallon. It’s the first gas-tax hike since July 2015, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy said.

South Carolina

Taxes on gas and diesel rose by two cents per gallon on July 1. The increase is the third installment of a six-part series of tax hikes implemented in 2017.

Tennessee

The gas tax rose by one cent on July 1, while diesel rose by three cents.

Vermont

The gas tax in Vermont increased by 0.55 cents. The tax rate on diesel is unchanged.

11 incredible photos from yesterday’s total solar eclipse

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  • The only total solar eclipse of 2019 passed over parts of the Pacific Ocean, Chile, and Argentina on Tuesday. It was the first total solar eclipse since August 2017.
  • The full eclipse was visible on land for more than two minutes. Tourists, locals, and scientists gathered along the eclipse’s path to observe, take photos, and study the sun’s atmosphere.
  • Here’s what it looked like on the ground.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A total solar eclipse on Tuesday brought together crowds across South America, as people gathered to bask in the moon’s shadow.

The eclipse was the first since the one visible in the US in August 2017. This time, the path of totality — where the moon totally blocked the sun — started in the South Pacific Ocean at 4:39 p.m. local time and followed a 6,000-mile trajectory.

In the final leg of its journey, the moon’s shadow cut a short path across parts of Chile and Argentina. Here’s what the eclipse and the viewing parties looked like there. 

SEE ALSO: A NASA satellite caught yesterday’s solar eclipse and a Category 4 hurricane at the same time — here’s the video

Preparations for the eclipse began on Monday, as scientists set up equipment.

Scientists use solar eclipses as an opportunity to study the solar corona, a region of extremely hot gas surrounding the sun. The corona is millions of times dimmer than the rest of the sun, which makes it hard to see and study. During a total solar eclipse, however, the moon blocks the sun and leaves only the corona visible.

Some people brought telescopes and cameras.

Others wore special suits to watch the eclipse.

Looking directly at the sun can permanently damage retina tissue, so people observing solar eclipses have to protect their eyes. During totality, when the moon completely blocks the sun, it’s safe to look with the naked eye.

Many people across Chile and Argentina simply viewed the event through special glasses, which are made to protect observers’ eyes from the damaging brightness of the sun’s rays.

Some viewers made DIY eclipse-viewing tools using cardboard boxes. These boxes function somewhat like a pinhole camera, allowing a viewer to see a projection of the eclipse.

But NASA recommends watching this type of phenomenon using a solar filter like the ones in special eclipse glasses.

The eclipse began as the moon moved between the sun and the Earth, casting its shadow across the Earth’s surface.

At 4:38 p.m. ET, the solar eclipse became visible from land.

La Serena, Chile was the first city along the path of totality.

Chile is home to world-famous astronomical observatories, and some — like the La Silla European Southern Observatory — lay directly in the path of totality.

People camped out with blankets and telescopes in the riverside town of Bella Vista in Argentina.

The ring of light visible surrounding the moon during an eclipse is the solar corona, the hot, gaseous layer of the sun’s atmosphere that’s normally invisible and difficult to study.

When the moon was fully covering the sun, the skies darkened, making the afternoon briefly look like twilight. The solar corona kept some light in the sky, though.

Studying the corona can help scientists learn more about how the sun’s atmosphere affects our power grids, telecommunications infrastructure, and satellites

Because the eclipse occurred late in the afternoon, the coming sunset made for a colorful finale to the only total solar eclipse of the year.

The solar eclipse ended at 4:44 p.m. local time near Buenos Aires, Argentina. For its next total solar eclipse, South America will have to wait until December 14, 2020.

BrandPost: 5 Questions with Domo CEO Josh James on Digital Transformation

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The barriers to enterprise transformation—and how to break through them—are the focus of a new study commissioned by New York-based digital transformation specialists Mumford Sole Partners.

Domo CEO Josh James, whose cloud-based data platform has played a significant role in the digital transformation efforts of some of the world’s biggest companies, talks about one of the key elements of the research: To become digital, you’ve got to think digital.

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