The Corvette C7 Z51 vs C8 Z51: The comparison is Night & Day

The saying “newer is always better” rings true more than ever with the 2022 mid-engine Corvette (C8). Chevrolet broke decades of tradition by moving the engine from the front to the middle of the Corvette, but it made this evolutionary change for all the right reasons: performance, performance, performance. The Corvette, “America’s Sports Car,” has almost always relied on a big beefy V8 to win races: endurance, road course sprints, and drag races. They favored raw horsepower over modern engineering to dominate competitors such as Porsche and Ferrari. But now with the C8’s mid-engine layout plus a dual-clutch transmission, the standard Corvette has the horsepower plus the technology. In case you are unaware, the reason why the mid-engine design is so crucial is because moves the vehicles center of mass from the front of the car to the middle of the car. This allows for better rotation and more rear tractions, thus allowing you to go around a corner faster and accelerate faster.

During my most recent test of the C8 Corvette Z51, I had the pleasure of also re-testing the front-engine C7 Corvette Z51. The Z51 bit indicates that this is semi track-ready version, with bigger brakes, better engine cooling, and more aggressive suspension. Both of these vehicles also had optional magnetic ride.

Right away, I noticed that the C8 was quicker off the line than the C7. The C8 does have 40 more horsepower and delivers lighting quick gear changes via the dual-clutch transmission, but having the bulk of weight over the rear wheels also means better traction. The rear wheels will spin when you smash the gas pedal, but they lock much quicker.

Around corners, the C8 feels more planted than the C7. The perfectly balanced platform allows the car to turn-in better and instills enhanced driver confidence. Do I dare say that the C8 is the first Corvette that actually handles well? By contrast, the C7 was more of a point and shoot car: heavy braking coming into the corner, rotate the car, then heavy acceleration. Where as with the C8, you don’t have to brake as hard because it simply glides around a corner.

You can learn more about the interior quality of the C8 Corvette by reading one of my previous reviews, but the most important thing to note is that the fit and finish of a C8 1LT base model is better than a C7 3LT luxury model.

The base price of a C8 Corvette is only a few thousand more than the cost of when the C7 was new, however you can expect to pay a premium when buying a 2022 Corvette because it is in such high demand. With the C8 Corvette, it is not just Corvette enthusiasts who are clamoring to buy one, but also for the first time, Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, Jaguar, and McLaren owners who want a super car they can daily drive.

Jaguar F Type Convertible

While I may be partial for my appreciation of Jaguars and their rich motorsports heritage, which includes seven 24 hours Le Mans race wins, I have to say this is easily one of the most underrated sports cars on the market. The Jaguar F Type combines a voguish, chiseled look with top-notch engine power for a ride that is up to the minute in appearance and drives like an earthbound fighter jet. The car comes standard with supercharged 5.0 liter V8, and 444 horse power, though I would recommend making the leap to the upgraded 575 horse power engine for a truly dynamite drive. Both engine types come with 8-speed automatic and optional all wheel drive for improved traction, and the acceleration on the base model is a respectable 4.4 seconds. The perfect car for grand touring, this ride is also an excellent daily driver. 

My test vehicle was the F type convertible, which features a motorized top that instantly goes up and down with just the push of a button. Driving with the top down was a trip; as with most convertibles the sound of the engine was enhanced by heightened senses, transforming the throaty hum to a rippling grr – not to mention there is nothing better than the wind in your hair on a warm sunshiny day. 

While the trunk space is admittedly limited, it still had a wide enough berth to fit a set of golf clubs or a full trip’s worth of groceries. The interior was also fantastic, featuring supple leather doors, dash, seats, and steering wheel, and the seats offer heat and cooling capabilities. 

At $71k, this car could easily go for an additional $30k to price match with its affluent interior and beefy V8. The convertible is roughly $3k more, which is also a bargain considering most roadsters have a $5-10k premium. 

Ford Mustang 2021 Ecoboost Premium Convertible

With its needle sharp lines and totally bladed edges, this dapper automotive was a trip to take for a spin. Call me a sucker for a good-looking set of wheels, but there is something untouchable about cruising around in a rakish ride like that of the 2021 Ford Mustang. 

Looks aside, whether you’re coasting down the street with the top down or maxing out the speedometer on the race track, you’re sure to feel the power behind the compact 4 cylinder motor. While admittedly, revving the engine on this peppy little machine left me lingering for the throaty grrr of Ford’s entry level 6 cylinder engine from years past, the 2.3 liter, 4 cylinder motor can surprisingly pump over 310 horse power and has 350 pounds of torque behind the remarkably small engine. Additionally, the 4 cylinder is more fuel efficient, keeping you on the road longer with fewer stops by the pump. 

A few housekeeping items: while I didn’t ride in the back seat myself, I was informed the legroom there is almost nonexistent, so longer-legged friends might have to hop up front. On the bright side, the trunk space is ample for such a compact vehicle, so there’s plenty of room to stash your stuff. I’d also like to call out the remote start, which puts preemptive temperature adjustment in the realm of the possible, making a comfortable drive from start to finish as easy as pressing a button on even the hottest days or the coldest nights.

On a final note, I’d say if you’re stick-shift capable to spring for the 6-speed manual transmission over the 10-speed automatic, because in addition to being 20 pounds lighter, the manual transmission can be better for maneuvering, while I found the 10-speed automatic to be a little clunkier when shifting through gears. 

All in all this was a car with few complaints, though if we’re being honest it’s not my first choice when looking to buy a Mustang, for which I’d be more apt to spring for the Moch1 or the Shelby GT500 since they are faster and a better bang for your buck performance-wise. 

The first ever 4XE: The Jeep Wrangler Goes Electric

The future is electric vehicles, there is no doubt about that. Certain parts of the European Union, as well as California have gone on record banning the sales of gasoline powered vehicles at a future date. Electric vehicle are great when it comes to saving the planet and lowering your cost per mile, but they are terrible for road (or off-road) trips. If you are in the middle of nowhere, an electrical outlet is hard to come by. Also, electric vehicles take forever to charge. This is why I am a fan of electric plugin hybrid vehicles. It gives you the freedom to use both gasoline or electric depending on your needs.

Luckily, Jeep has recognized the dual-purpose practicality of the Wrangler and has given us a vehicle that an act as an electric car around town, and act as a gasoline vehicle when in the middle of nowhere. To test how well it works, Jeep sent me the Wrangler Rubicon 4XE. The “E” stands for electric, because you can drive this Jeep at highway speeds for up to 20 miles without a single ounce of pollution. Past the 20 mile mark, a powerful, but fuel efficient gasoline motor picks up the pace by both driving the wheels and charging the batteries. The batteries are also able to charge using regenerative braking. The system worked flawlessly for me, with smooth transitions for both braking and power types (gasoline vs electric). I frequently forgot that I was driving on electric. In Hybrid Mode with a fully battery, the Jeep Wrangle Rubicon 4XE will intelligently switch between electric and gasoline drivetrains based upon maximizing fuel economy. When aggressive on the throttle, electric motors act as turbo chargers to give you that extra bit of pep.

To highlight the specialness of the Wrangle Rubicon 4XE, Jeep gave this vehicle cool blue touches on both the interior exterior: special decals, blue outlines on the lettering, blue tow hooks, and thick blue stitching on the interior. This Jeep feels extra uniquely special, which is refreshing because most hybrid versions just “borify” a vehicle. The only downside of the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4XE is the cost. My test vehicle was priced at just over $61,000, which is super reasonable for a sporty plug-in hybrid, but really expensive for a Wrangler that is going to traverse through mud and go rock crawling in the desert.

Power Up to the High Performance 2.3L Ford Mustang Convertible

If you can’t afford (or handle) the GT350 or the GT500, the regular Ford Mustang GT is undoubtably the weekend car to get. All three variants feature an overhead cam V8s the melts your soul at each press of the gas pedal. The only problem is that all three GT cars don’t make great daily drivers. Not because they are uncomfortable, but because all three engines are thirsty. You may remember reading one of my previous stories where I did a cross country road trip in a Mustang GT. It was fun, but pocketbook wasn’t happy.

Fuel economy is where the 4-cylinder 2.3L variant of the Mustang shines. You can drive all day long on a single tank of gas. Unfortunately, I never thought the base 2.3L really deserved the Mustang badge. Every instance behind the wheel was underwhelming. And up until now, I missed the previous generation’s naturally aspirated aluminum V6 engine with 300hp.

But now there is a new turbocharged 4-cylinder motor in town, and it is called the High Performance 2.3L. Same 305 pounds of torque, but it has 20 more horsepower thanks to a larger twin-scroll turbocharger. It also comes with a larger radiator, a stiffer suspension (for better handling), 19” wheels, and adjustable exhaust to accommodate the improved engine performance. The increase to 330 horsepower is noticeable, but the engine also sounds different. It is more muscular and exciting. Not the same as a V8, but a proper engine sound. Drivers have two transmission options: a 10-speed automatic and a 6-speed manual. Thank you Ford for saving the manual. This clutch on the manual is reasonably soft, but tactile enough to feel when the engine catches. Gear shifts are smooth and short.

The convertible version of the High Performance 2.3L Mustang makes a great daily driver due to the balance of performance, fuel economy and comfort. Nothing beats driving around topless on a cool sunny day. However I was slightly disappointed to hear that convertible Mustangs still don’t have a pop-up roll bar. This means that weekend driving enthusiasts can’t use the car for track days. Otherwise, this car is sublime for less than $40k.

2021 Jaguar F-Type: More Refined Than Ever

It is hard not to love the Jaguar F-Type, especially the 2021 F-Type convertible. It has everything you want in a daily driver grand touring car. And now, it is even better: The lines are more sculpted, interior offers large screens, it has better technology, and the car is seemingly more ferocious behind the wheel.

The Jaguar F-Type is in every possible way, a true gentleman’s car. Jaguar is known to be driven by bad boys, but I could just as easily see James Bond driving around in one.

Under the hood of my 2021 test car is a death defying 380 horsepower supercharged V6. However it is also available with a 575 5.0L V8 that will outpace even the most ruthless villains. And to help you drive like the hero of your own James Bond film, it comes with torque vectoring. This F1 derived piece of technology uses a computer to individually control braking at each wheel while going around a corner. The end result is improved control at high speeds.

The interior of the Jaguar F-Type is naturally dressed in leather and aluminum. Cockpit style gauges and controls beautifully wrap around the driver. It creates a very comfortable environment for the driver, no matter if you are cruising along on a country road or sitting in rush hour traffic. Two large displays, one on the dash and one on the center console, provide all of the details needed for a spirited or leisurely drive. Thanks to an even larger infotainment display than the previous generation, you can have two windows open on the screen. This comes in very handy while both navigating and changing the satellite radio station.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Jaguar F-Type’s exhaust note. The roadster sounds as good as it looks. In fact, it sounds better than anything else in its price class, especially the V8. The snarling exhaust, combined with the ease of driving and its magnetic looks make the 2021 Jaguar F-Type one of the best daily driver roadsters that money can buy. Even at the $65,000 starting price tag. However, if you have the coin, the $85,000 V6 or the $105,000 V8 are the better buys.

Mercedes AMG GTR is the Ultimate Roadster: 1 of 750

In 2020, roadsters represent the most fun way to get around town on a beautiful day. They use to be the best way to get around the race track too because of their light weight nature. Less steel / aluminum = less weight. But as cars started getting faster and faster, engineers learned the affects of drag at high speeds and discovered that coupes are significantly more aerodynamic. On top of that, consumers began wanting automatic convertible tops, which negated the weight savings due to the electric motors. After that, manufacturers then started putting their most power engines only in coupes; leaving drop top gear heads like myself with less powerful engines.

Mercedes-Benz apparently disagrees with the pack, and has released their AMG GT Convertible in GTR in spec. The “R” stands for race. The boys in Stuttgart deserve an extra 27 pints of beer for this one. It delivers the same 4.0L AMG biturbo V8, suspension components, forged wheels, carbon ceramic brakes, and the same active-aero dynamics as the coupe variant.  My particular favorite is the carbon fiber spoiler paired with the “solar beam yellow” metallic paint, so stoplight drag races know you mean business. It is boy racer in all the right ways. I just don’t know if I could pony up $9,900 for a paint color.  Click Here To Continue Reading

Topless In Miami 2019 Winners

For the past 9 years, the Southern Automotive Media Association has hosted an event called Topless in Miami. It is an annual gathering of its members to determine what are the best convertibles on the market. The definition of a “convertible” has obviously changed over the years with the introduction of hardtop convertibles and “convertible like” vehicles such as panoramic vehicles, which are becoming more and more popular. However the spirit of the event holds true now more than ever… soaking up the sunshine is the best way to enjoy the streets of South Florida.

Here are this year’s winners and why I think they deserve the title:

Convertible Of The Year: Mercedes AMG GT C Roadster

This Roadster deserves a home run with classic Roadster styling, a knockout exhaust and racing inspired interior. It not only looks and sounds fast, but it rockets from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds thanks to 550 horsepower bi-Turbo V8 engine.

This vehicle also won the luxury convertible of the year award.  Click Here To Continue Reading

The 2018 Chevy Camaro SS Is A Toy For BIG Kids

The Chevrolet Camaro holds a special place in my heart, mainly because the 1992 Camaro Z28 was my first car. Under the hood was a 5.0L V8, which was good for a little over 200 horsepower – not bad for the time. My car had a 4-speed automatic transmission but was available with a 5-speed manual. I was the coolest guy at Saint John Vianney High School (in my mind) with that car… It was fast, looked cool, and I could fit all three of my best friends in it!

Fast forward to 2018 and you have the Chevy Camaro SS with a 6.2L engine. The Corvette derived pushrod V8 is good for 455 horsepower and 455 pounds of torque. Off the line you can do 0 to 60 mph in 4 seconds flat with the 8-speed automatic transmission and 4.3 seconds with the manual. That is Porsche territory for a vehicle that starts at $38,000. The vehicle is obviously no slouch when it comes to raw power, but the new Camaro also makes a decent road course track car. Powerful Brembo brakes are standard on the SS model, as well as, a drive selection mode to tailor the car’s driving dynamics based upon on-road or track use. The noticeable differentiators with each drive mode are throttle response, shift points (automatic), body roll (with optional magnetic ride), the exhaust note, and how much or little the stability computer will let you slide the rear end before it catches you. When going around tight corners, the Camaro SS felt heavy in the front, which lead to significant understeer. But thanks to the immensely powerful V8, you can gently create rotation by carefully applying throttle to the rear wheels.  Click Here To Continue Reading

Ultra Luxury meets Super Car performance with the Mercedes S63 AMG Cabriolet

Life doesn’t get much better than cruising around in an S-Class… or does it? Well it does because the S63 AMG Cabriolet makes the ultimate daily driver, and here is why:

Mercedes has breathed new life into there flagship sedan by reducing the number of doors, increasing the horsepower, and giving it a ragtop. The S63 AMG is still every bit as comfortable (for the driver) as an S-Class sedan, but now the vehicle excites the driver. All of your senses begin to tingle as you lower the top and smash the gas pedal. Your head begins to stick like glue to the headrest as all 603 horses shift there brute power though a 9-speed automatic gearbox. Then when you least expect it, a curve in the road approaches you vehicle. As you begin to take it, the S63 AMG Cabriolet’s adjustable air suspension tightens in order to reduce body roll on your 4,800 pound rolling lazy boy sofa. Click Here To Continue Reading