A Hypercar In Need Of Hype: The $1.9 Million Praga Bohema

The Czech automaker’s street-legal model is powered by a heavily tuned V-6 and will be limited to 89 examples.

By Ben Oliver 24/11/2022

Would you part with $1.9 million for a new hypercar built by a company you’ve never heard of, from a country with no history of making very-high-performance cars? And what if it was powered not by the hybrid or fully electric power-train configurations we now expect in such models, nor by an aristocratic and exquisitely engineered V-12, which most of us still want, but instead by a heavily tuned and turbocharged Nissan V-6?

The new Praga Bohema, revealed today and which Robb Report has already driven, has some work to do if it’s to persuade those who already own the rarer and more extreme Ferraris to add a car from the Czech Republic to their collections. But it has two advantages.

Piloting a prototype of the Praga Bohema hypercar.
Praga

Firstly, circumstances may actually be on its side. Although hypercars, in general, may be going electric, off-the-record conversations with industry contacts indicate that sales of some pure-electric versions are proving tricky. Neither the fully electric Rimac Nevera nor its sister car the Pininfarina Battista, each limited to 150 examples, has yet sold out. But there remains strong appetite among collectors for cars with pure internal combustion engines.

Gordon Murray’s T.50 and T.33 will both be built in runs of 100 and sold out quickly, the T.50 within 48 hours. And while both have a far more famous name behind them, and a bespoke Cosworth V-12, they also have much higher prices. The Praga’s gas engine might not be the most exotic, but this might be your last chance to order a hypercar powered solely by one. Even Gordon Murray, a longtime hybrid sceptic, has admitted that all his future cars will be at least partly electric, and one Praga executive admitted that they’re “cutting it fine”. That might be to their advantage. Only 89 will be made, so you might need to move fast.

The 700 hp model is powered solely by a twin-turbo V-6 engine.
Marc Bow, courtesy of Praga.

So what is Praga? You might be surprised to discover that it’s actually 115 years old. In the 1930s, it made aircraft and more cars than Skoda and Tatra—the Czech Republic’s better-known carmakers—combined. Communism wasn’t kind to the marque, though, and it ended up making trucks and transmissions. Now in private ownership, Praga began making race cars 12 years ago. A few of those were fitted with license plates, but the Bohema is its first bespoke hypercar designed for road use, even if Praga knows most customers will drive theirs straight to a circuit.

Like the Rimac Nevera, which also hails from a country, Croatia, with no previous history of building such cars, the Bohema has been designed and engineered almost entirely in-house. The engineering brief was clear: to be comfortable and usable on-road but also the quickest street-legal car on a circuit, prioritising minimal weight and aerodynamics over extreme power. The goal was also to equal the lap times of a GT3-class racer on semi-slick tires.

For the Bohema, Praga prioritized minimal weight and enhanced aerodynamics over extreme output.
Praga

So the bodywork has a job to do, generating 900 kg of downforce on the 982 kg Bohema at 250 km/h, melding the tires with the Tarmac under cornering, while keeping drag low and feeding cool air to that oxygen-hungry turbo engine. But Juraj Mitro and Jan Martinek, the chief designer and chief engineer, respectively, have also made it beautiful, and therein lies its other immense advantage. They turned the Bohema’s semi-detached, race car–like panels into a work of futurist art, seemingly in motion when standing still.

At approximately 250 km/h, the Bohema generates about 900 kg of downforce.
Matus Rendek, courtesy of Praga.

Our favorite stylistic details include the impossibly long and elegant arms on which the wing mirrors are mounted, which extend from the central fuselage to the edge of the car and are almost level with the roof. Then there’s the vast, subtly curved and low rear clamshell, which tells you how low the mass sits in the chassis. It’s stunning, and a repudiation of the notion that aero now forces such cars to look generic.

The originality continues inside. You enter downwards, through what is more a hatch than a door, into a cockpit so tight that the two egg-shaped seats have to be arranged with the passenger lower and slightly behind the driver so their shoulders don’t clash. It’s remarkably comfortable though, with a motorsport-meets-luxury aesthetic unlike anything else on the road. And it’s all beautifully finished in carbon, Alcantara and milled aluminium.

Trimmed in Alcantara, carbon and milled aluminium, the cockpit is comfortable but very snug.
Matus Rendek, courtesy of Praga.

Once the flyweight hatches are latched shut and the race harnesses pulled tight, it’s time to fire the 3.8-litre, 700 hp twin-turbo V-6. It’s loud and gruff, but not intrusively so, and the changes from the race-spec Hewland sequential manual gearbox go in with a purposeful, audible “thunk” but aren’t jarring. At low speed, visibility and manoeuvrability are surprisingly good for what is effectively a barely road-legal Le Mans racer, and with 1.7 cubic feet of bespoke suitcase in each sidepod, you can easily imagine taking a road trip in your Bohema.

Fine-tuned by racer Romain Grosjean, the Bohema’s handling is sublime.
Matus Rendek, courtesy of Praga.

But that’s not its primary purpose. When the road—or more likely track—opens up, the car’s acceleration is utterly savage. Even if it can’t quite match the instant torque and all-wheel traction of a Nevera, it’s still terrifyingly on the boundary of your brain and body’s ability to cope. The hiss and flutter from the turbos’ wastegates, once thought unrefined, just add to the character in this increasingly electric age, and the noise, ferocity and mechanical nature of the performance are almost enough to convert this long-term EV advocate back to gas.

The engineering brief was clear: to be comfortable and usable on-road but also the quickest street-legal car on a circuit.
Marc Bow, courtesy of Praga.

Refined by Formula 1 and IndyCar star Romain Grosjean, the handling is sublime too, the Bohema’s lightweight nature palpable in its ever-level posture and its zero-lag response to every steering input. And, of course, it sheds speed as hard as it adds it, the carbon-ceramic discs leaving you hanging in the six-point belts before pressing you back into your seat again as you exit a bend.

A Porsche Taycan as a daily driver and a Praga Bohema for the weekends seems a good way to see out the gas age. The vocals may be gruff, but this makes a fine swansong for the internal combustion engine.

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The Boldest, Most Exciting New Timepieces From Watches & Wonders 2024

Here are the highlights from the world’s biggest watch releases of the year.

By Allen Farmelo, Carol Besler, Paige Reddinger, Oren Hartov, Victoria Gomelsky, Cait Bazemore, Nick Scott, Justin Fenner 10/04/2024

Watches & Wonders, the world’s largest watch show, is in full swing in Geneva. The highly anticipated cascade of new releases is marked by confident individual brand identities — perhaps a sign that watchmakers are done scrambling through the violent collision of restricted supply and soaring demand for high end watches. All seem to be back on solid footing.

Steady confidence is a good thing. Consider Jaeger-LeCoultre offering up traditionally styled grand complications or Vacheron Constantin revamping the classic Patrimony with smaller cases and vintage-inspired radially brushed dials. Consider TAG Heuer celebrating the 55th anniversary of the square Monaco with a skeletonized flyback confidently priced at US$183,000, or Moser similarly showing off a fascinating skeletonized tourbillon in its distinctive 40 mm Streamliner at US$86,900. IWC has leaned hard into their traditionally styled Portugieser line, including an astounding Eternal Calendar complication. We find the storied French houses of Cartier, Chanel and Hermes blurring the lines between jewelry and watchmaking with the technical prowess and artistic whimsy that originally earned these brands their exalted place in the hearts and minds of sophisticated aesthetes. Confidence abounds in 2024.

We could go on and on with examples, but the watches below will demonstrate that for 2024 the big watch brands dared to be themselves, which appears to have given them the confidence to take some seriously compelling horological risks. We have separate coverage of off-show releases and, of course, Patek and Rolex, so keep and eye out for those.

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A Gucci Garden Blooms in Sydney

On a rainy Sydney night, the drinks talent from Maybe Sammy mixed with guest bartenders from Giardino 25 in Florence, for a night of liquid magic.

By Belinda Aucott-christie 13/04/2024

Since hanging out its shingle in 2022, Giardino 25, the all-day café and bar located in Gucci’s palatial, multidisciplinary space in Florence, has been a boon to stylish tipplers. Taking inspiration from one of its previous tenants (a longstanding florist), the garden-themed joint (Giardino is the Italian word for garden) serves delicious aperitivi and dangerously addictive cocktails.

 

Umbrian native Martina Bonci is in hair-to-brogue Gucci for her artful bartending session at El Primo Sanchez. 
Aurora cocktai at Giardino 25, Florence.

Giardino 25 took bloom this past Tuesday at a pop-up at El Primo Sanchez in Paddington. The Maybe Cocktail Festival in Sydney is a series of 20 events scattered throughout the city curated by the award-winning Sammy’s Cocktails team. The festival aims to spur knowledge-sharing and foster excellence in Australia’s drinks scene.

“Last year we held 16 events and they were all packed,” says Stefano Catino, director of hospitality at Public, the management company behind Maybe Sammy venues and bottled drinks, “so this year we’ve curated extra events and flown out even more international bars and bartenders.”

“Nineteen of the 21 events are free to attend, which is very important to us,” he continues. “The cost of living is high, and it’s very expensive for Australians to travel overseas, so this festival allows people to drink cocktails from an amazing bar in Rome or try a Tommy’s Margarita from the gentleman who created it without the cost of a plane ticket.”

Dressed head to toe in Gucci,  and using the bar as her personal catwalk, Giardino 25’s special guest, Martina Bonci, looked every bit the star behind the bar. “We have brought our mix of classic Italian influences and innovation,” she told Robb Report, “so guests in Australia get a little slice of what we do in Florence.”

Among her tantalising pours were powerful dirty martinis decorated with shimmering gold leaf and Aurora, a transparent twist on the Negroni.

Reflecting on her whirlwind trip down under, Bonci said their visit to Bondi Beach and the cocktails at Maybe Sammy were the highlights.

“The bartenders at Maybe Sammy are world-class,” she explained. “There is a good reason they win awards and have a respected reputation overseas. And El Primo Sanchez has such a fun atmosphere—we had a great night.”

Martina Bonci, Bar Manager at Gucci Giardino 25, has been honored twice as ‘Best Bartender in Italy’ by both the Bargiornale and Blue Blazer Awards. 

Bonci, who came to prominence in a long string at Milanese hipster joint Gesto and is known for her use of agave, favors drinks dripping with seasonal fruits and citrus flavors. Having tried her creations, we do, too.

She made a serious impression on Sydneysiders, who would do well to make a pilgrimage to see her in action on home turf. As if any of us need another reason to visit Italy.

The Maybe Cocktail Festival, continues this weekend in Sydney, with the public welcome to attend a Bartenders Brunch at Sydney’s Alpha on Sunday from 11.00 am – 3.00 pm, hosted by George Calombaris. 

View the program: Maybe Cocktail Festival @maybe_cocktail_fetsival

All images courtesy of Gucci.

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Patek Philippe Brings Back Collector Favourites at Watches & Wonders 2024

Both the Nautilus Chronograph and Aquanaut Travel Time receive a welcome return.

By Josh Bozin 10/04/2024

If you’re a watch fan, there’s every reason to believe that a Patek Philippe Nautilus, Patek Philippe Aquanaut—or both—would be high on your wish list. Both collections are of historical significance, helping pave the way for the influence of the steel sports watch category—and subsequent chokehold on the market today.

So, when Patek Philippe unveiled its newest releases at Watches & Wonders in Geneva, it was a pleasant surprise to see the return of two of the best past iterations of the Nautilus and Aquanaut collections.

Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph

First, we get a new Nautilus Chronograph, with the return of the revered 5980, now replete with a new case in white gold and a denim-like strap (a contentious issue among watch pundits). Discontinuing all Nautilus 5980 models earlier this year, including the collector-favourite 5980/1AR in Rose Gold, left a sombre feeling among Nautilus fanatics. These celebrated chronographs, renowned for their distinctive porthole-inspired design and air of sporty elegance, are some of the most sought-after watches in the Patek Philippe catalogue. Thus, the revival of the 5980, now in white gold, is a cause for collectors’ celebration.

The new offering retains its chronograph function with mono-counter tracking 60-minute and 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock on the dial, but now comes on a new denim-inspired, hand-stitched fabric strap with a Nautilus fold-over clasp in white gold—some will love it, some won’t.

Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe

The Calibre CH 28‑520 C/522 powers this new Nautilus with its flyback chronograph, all of which is visible through the transparent sapphire crystal caseback. The dial is also incredibly eye-catching, with a beautiful opaline blue-gray hue accentuated by white gold-applied hour markers with a white luminescent coating. It is priced at approximately $112,000.

Also returning to the fold is the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time, now with its own bluish hue dial—similar to its Nautilus counterpart. After discontinuing the Aquanaut Travel Time 5164A this year, as well—a watch often regarded as the greatest Aquanaut to date—Patek Philippe surprised all with the new 5164G in white gold. Its greatest attribution is the clever Travel Time GMT function, which clearly rivals the Rolex GMT-Master II as perhaps the travel-friendly watch of choice (if acquiring one was that simple, of course).

For those who prefer the Aquanaut’s sportiness and easy-wearing rubber strap, this newest iteration, with its Opaline Blue-gray dial and matching rubber strap with a deployant clasp, is undoubtedly an icon in the making. The new 5164G has a 40mm case and features the Calibre 26‑330 S C FUS movement, which can also be viewed via the transparent sapphire crystal caseback.

Expect to pick up the new Aquanaut Travel Time for around $95,250.  

Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time

 

Follow @robbreportau for all your Watches & Wonders coverage, and more!

 

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Rolex Kicks Off Watches & Wonders 2024 with a New GMT-Master II

The new stainless steel GMT-Master II has already been dubbed the “Bruce Wayne”.

By Josh Bozin 09/04/2024

It may not be the GMT that watch pundits were speculating on—or that collectors were hoping for—but the new Rolex GMT-Master II with a new grey and black ceramic bezel adds dazzle to the revered Rolex collection, which this year celebrates its 70th anniversary.

The idea of a new Rolex GMT launching at the world’s biggest watch fair is cause for a little madness. While the watch community eagerly awaited what was thought to be the discontinuation of the highly sought-after GMT “Pepsi” and the return of the GMT “Coke,” the luxury Swiss watchmaker had other plans.

Instead, we’re presented with a piece that, on paper, hasn’t changed much from previous GMT releases. That’s not to say that this isn’t an impressive release that will speak to consumers—the new GMT-Master II ref.126710GRNR, dubbed the “Bruce Wayne,” is definitely a sight for sore eyes.

Rolex
Rolex

This new GMT retains the same dimensions and movement as the other watches in the GMT collection, along with its 40mm size case and the option to fit either an Oyster or Jubilee bracelet. The obvious changes, albeit subtle, come in the way of its mostly monochrome return; a fact that will appease traditionalists. If you’re opposed to the attention-drawing “Pepsi”, “Sprite”, or “Batman” iterations, this model is a stealthier pick—much like pseudonymous Bruce Wayne.

The other noticeable change is the “GMT-Master II” now applied in green text and a 24-hour hand in green; perhaps a nod to the 2007 Basel World GMT release.

Like many Rolex timepieces, this will generate great hype and attention, so don’t expect allocations to come easily.

Rolex
Rolex

Model: GMT-Master II
Reference Number: 126710GRNR

Diameter: 40mm
Case Material: Stainless steel
Dial Colour: Black
Lume: Chromalight on hands and hour markers
Water Resistance: 100m
Bracelet: Oyster or Jubilee

Movement: Caliber 3285
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, GMT
Power Reserve: 70 hours
Winding: Automatic

Price: $17,150 (Oyster); $17,500 (Jubilee)
Availability: Now. Non-limited edition

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Moments in Time

Silversea’s Kimberley adventures transport passengers into a different dimension.

By Vince Jackson 09/04/2024

Whoever refuted the theory of time-travel has clearly never set foot in the Kimberley, a geological relic where craggy landscapes forged hundreds of millions of years ago remain untouched, and dinosaur footprints are still etched into the ochre terrain. And while traversing one of the planet’s last great wildernesses in a 4X4 holds rugged appeal, a more refined way to explore the Western Australian outback is by cruise liner. 

Enter the Silver Cloud, one of Silversea’s most luxurious vessels, available for 10- or 17-day expeditions. Upon arrival via private executive transfer, expect a level of intimacy that’s often conspicuous on other cruise experiences. With a maximum of just 200 guests, attended to by 212 staff, the Silver Cloud can lay claim to the greatest passenger-to-crew ratios operating in the Kimberley. Twenty-four-hour butler service is standard for every suite, along with ocean views—no matter if you plump for a modest 22 m² Vista Suite or supersize to a 217 m² Grand Suite.

Yet bigger is not necessarily better on water; the ship itself is compact enough to manoeuvre into isolated coves and waterways that larger vessels—or, indeed, four-wheel-drive Land Cruisers—are unable access. Each sunrise brings the promise of an unforgettable adventure, whether hopping on a Zodiac at Koolama Bay to witness the cascading thunder of the 80-m-high, twin King George Falls, or embarking at Swift Bay to scramble over rocky standstone and view the disparate rock-art forms on display at the sacred Wandjina art galleries—some reckoned to be up to 12,000 years old.

Another example of the Kimberley’s ability to propel you back through time.

Prices from $15,500 pp (10 days) and $23,900 pp (17 days); June 9-19, and August 8-25 or August 25- September 11 respectively; silversea.com

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