The Suburu WRX STI was built for BIG KIDS.

What’s the difference between a kid and man? Jay Leno once said that it is the cost of their toys, I couldn’t agree more.

The WRX you see pictured above is every kids fantasy – they are a car enthusiast. While some love the WRX STI and other hate it because of the “rice burner” image, gear heads around the world respect it because Subaru built one heck of a car. It come standard with a turbo-charged 4-cylinder boxer motor that is good for over 300 horsepower and symmetrical all-wheel-drive. But this isn’t Subuar’s standard all-wheel-drive system… 

Using a toggle switch along the center console, you can control how much power is distrubed amongst the front and rear wheels. If you are trying to do donuts or get the maximum power; direct all of the power to the rear wheels. If you are driving in a rally cross race or in the rain, shift the power back to all four wheels. This level of control for an all-wheel-drive system is very impressive. I can’t think of another manufacture with this degree of control – not even Audi has it.

An additional benefit of Subaru’s advanced all-wheel-drive system is that on STI models, “true” Active Torque Vectoring is standard. I want to emphasis “true” torque vectoring because most modern sports cars only offer simulated torque vectoring. The concept of torque vectoring was pioneered by McLaren for Formula 1 racing. The idea is to force the outside wheels to spin faster than the inside wheels while going through a turn in order to make the car turn sharper. All-wheel-drive cars like the WRX STI (as well as the new Accura NSX, Lamborghini Huracan, and Audi R8) will shift power to the wheels from one side to the other, while cars like the Porsche 718 and 911 have to rely on using the brakes to slow the speed of the inside wheels. Obviously if you are using the brakes, you are scrubbing off speed and slowing down.


Ok, enough with all of the high performance racing talk. The Subaru WRX STI also has a mean bark and snarling approach. Even while sitting still, the car looks fast! It is hard to miss the gigantic rear wing of an STI. While I am guessing it is mainly for show, because the car tops out at around 155mph, but still looks really cool. That paired with large disc brakes and an enourmous hood scoop, the WRX STI looks like it a special vehicle – or one that spent a lot of time in a performance shop. Speaking of performance, check out that quad tip sport exhaust system that makes the car sound great and look bad ***.

Visit your local Subaru dealer for more information on the 2017 Subaru WRX STI or click here to visit the Subaru website.

P.S. Thank you Subaru for bring this to us in a manual transmission.

The Lexus RC Turbo a “Little Duece Coupe”

The term “Duece Coupe” originally referenced a 1932 Hot Rod Ford, because of the model year. But I think it is more befitting of Lexus’ newest RC model, the 2.0L RC Turbo, because it has a 2.0L motor, plus I got to test it in the heart of Ford territory, Michigan.

All of the characteristics and styling of the more powerful RC 300/350/F are here, but now the RC features a fuel efficient rear-wheel drive option. At 32 MPG, I was able to drive the car across the entire state of Michigan and back (~350 miles) on a single tank of gas – and it doesn’t have a big tank. While the RC Turbo has half of cylinders and almost half the horsepower (241hp) as the RC F (467hp), it still has pep to its step. Plus since it is performance inspired, you can keep the momentum going as you hug a twisty road – enhanced by the adaptive variable suspension. It brakes well too with 11″ ventilated discs. Another item to note is that 18″ wheels are standard.


Because of the Lexus RC Tubro’s plush interior, it makes a well suited grand tourer. The heated and ventalited seats were perfect for my long trek across the state. I would almost describe them as “unusually comfortable” for its segment because the contour of the seats fit my back well. Being a Lexus, of course they were made from high quality leather. I point this out because most the German competition (excluding Audi) have leatherette seats. 

The infotainment center is easy to use. It is controlled using voice commands or a touch pad on the center armrest. The touch pad isn’t as intuiative as you would think, but once you get use to it, you will love it! Sound wise, beats are pumped out from an optional 17 speaker Mark Levinson sound system. The vehicle I tested this time didn’t have the upgraded sound system, but I heard it play on other RCs before.


Value always come into play when I look at sporty cars, and the RC Turbo is amongst the best! At a starting price of $40k, you will be hard pressed to find a more stylish luxury sports coupe that offers this many standard features. Also it is comforting to know you are driving a machine backed by Toyota (parent company of Lexus) so the car will last FOREVER. 

Visit your local Lexus dealer for more information on the 2017 Lexus RC Turbo or click here to visit the Lexus website.

The SLC43 AMG is the perfect daily driven roadster!


Daily driver and roadster rarely fits into the same sentence unless you are a complete car enthusiast. That’s because roadsters traditionally trade comfort for the ride of a lifetime. Some classic roadsters such as the Jaguar XK120 roadster didn’t even have rollup windows! And if you think that is unpleasant, the Porsche 550 Spyder didn’t even have a top! Those lavish features were meant for “convertibles.” Modern roadsters have power windows and most have automatic cloth top.

Mercedes-Benz, staying true to the motto “The best or nothing,” has brought comfort back to the roadster – first with the SLK in 1996 and now again, 20 years later, with the SLC.

The car’s best feature is its retractable automatic hardtop. It allows the SLC to transform within seconds from a roadster to a sporty coupe. You literally get the best of both worlds! There is no more saying that roadsters are too noisy on the highway or that they are too hot during the summer (or too cold during the winter for my northern friends). Some might argue that modern rag tops are just as well insulated as hard top convertibles – they might be – but I don’t think so. When I am driving with the top up on a rag top, I am constantly wishing in the back of my mind that the weather was nice enough to put the top down. When I drove the Mercedes SLC43 AMG with the top up, I kept thinking to myself how great the coupe experience is.

Also rag top roadsters such as the Porsche Boxster, Jaguar F-Type, and Audi TT don’t look nearly as good with the top up as the Mercedes SLC43 AMG does. Now there are a couple drawbacks to having a hardtop convertible: 1) It weighs more because of the mechanical mechanisms. 2) You typically have less trunk space. With that being said, this is your daily driver and not a track car, so weight is less of an issue. In terms of trunk space, the SLC43 AMG does have less room than the 718 Porsche Boxster (with its two trunks), but I was able to fit more groceries in my SLC tester car than I was in the Jaguar F-Type convertible I tested last year.

The interior quality has also been kicked up a notch with the SLC43 AMG versus the competition. I instantly fell in love with its saddle brown leather interior with white stitching. As part of the AMG variation, the SLC I tested also had a semi-alcanta flat bottom steering wheel to accentuate the performance aspects of the vehicle. With a 362hp 3.0L V6 biturbo engine and a 9-speed gearbox, the Mercedes-Benz SLC43 AMG is no slouch. It will do zero-to-sixty in less than 5 seconds. The rear-wheel-drive SLC43 AMG also handles surprisingly well thanks to a well tuned AMG Sport suspension. I specific rear-wheel-drive because one of its unnamed German competitors (the Audi TT) has a front-wheel-drive bias for its all-wheel-drive system.

With a performance oriented mindset, luxury accommodations, and the benefit of having both a convertible and coupe, the Mercedes-Benz SLC is my pick for the best daily driven roadster… The top seals the deal!

You can find more information about the Mercedes-Benz SLC43 AMG by visiting your local deal or by clicking here to visit the Mercedes-Benz website.

The Jaguar F-Type SVR is a Porsche killer

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I am start this review of a Jaguar sports car in an unusual way…  by admitting that I am a Porsche enthusiast. When Jaguar created the first generation F-type cars, their mission was to create a 911 killer. Jaguar came close with a striking design and the best sounding exhaust note you will find on a stock production car, but it wasn’t a 911 killer or a Boxster/Cayman killer even. The regular F-Type is a car you take out for a relaxed Sunday drive along the country side or on a road trip while looking bad to the bone while driving it. It is stylish, sophisticated, and comfortable. Porsche sports cars on the other hand are all about performance, especially the S models.

Jaguar F-Type SRV rear spoiler

But now there is a new Jaguar F-Type available, one that truly is able to slay the German Beast, and it is is called the SVR. This limited production vehicle created by Jaguar’s “Special Vehicle OpeRations” department is capable of 200MPH. With a 0 to 60 time of 3.5 seconds versus 3.8 seconds on the 911 4S PDK, the Jaguar F-Type SVR truly is a 911 killer on paper. These numbers are all thanks to Jaguar’s ability to increase the horsepower to 575, increase the torque to 516, add all-wheel-drive for improved traction, and reduce the car’s weight by using lighter materials. It also comes equipped with carbon ceramic brakes, so you can stop almost as fast as you can accelerate.

Note: Carbon ceramic brakes are constructed using different compounds versus traditional steal brakes. These advanced materials decrease stopping distance and reduce heat build up, which prevents brake fade.

Jaguar F-Type SVR Brakes

While lots of horsepower and quick acceleration times are a science, how a car makes you feel is an art form. This is another win for the Jaguar F-Type SVR. It is one of the most enjoyable cars I have ever driven – and I drive a new car every week. The way the car hugs corners and then accelerates out of a turn with a snarling exhaust note roaring out of the back is exhilarating! Then as you stomp one the brake pedal, you come to an immediate halt while experiencing a symphony of high performance internal combustion in the form of crackles and pops. The car gives you the sensation you are driving faster than you are because it engages all of your senses. And to make you feel confident behind the wheel, Jaguar has added torque vectoring by braking into the drivetrain. Even when the rear wheels brake loose around a turn, you feel as if you are in control of the entire process.

Note: Torque vectoring adds to the turning forces of the car by applying the brakes or power to select wheels, thus increasing the speed of which you can safely go around a corner.

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The final piece of the puzzle if comfort and luxury. What is the point of driving a sports car if your body aches every time you get out of the car? Things like adjustable suspension and adjustable exhaust give the driver the option of peacefully cruise around town or hitting every apex on a curvy road as hard as possible. In addition, the seats were well engineered for both support while driving fast and comfort for long hauls. I took a day trip around Lake Okeechobee with no back issues whatsoever.

Notes: The use of adjustable suspension on street cars allows you to transform the ride from soft for a comfortable ride and tight for improved handling. The use of adjustable exhaust allows you to close the baffles in the exhaust system for a quite experience or open the baffles for increase horsepower along with a loud exhaust note.

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True luxury comes into play as soon as your open the door of the Jaguar F-Type SVR. The red leather doors and seats of my test car were jaw dropping with diamond quilted stitching. Black leather on the dash and ceiling accented the red leather seats to give it a sporting feeling. Carbon fiber trim throughout the vehicle and an alcantar wrapped steering wheel further enhanced the effect.

So the question is, if I had $130,000 – $150,000 to spend on a sports car, would I buy the F-Type SVR or a Porsche 911?

The Jaguar F-Type SVR all the way! It is faster, more comfortable, and better looking.

Visit your local dealer to learn more about the Jaguar F-Type SVR or click here to visit Jaguar’s website.

The Nissan 370Z Holds True To Its Roots

The Datsun (Nissan) 240Z is often times regarded as one of the best Japanese sports cars ever produced. Many call it “the best” not just because it was able to dominant the race track against Corvettes and Porsches, but because it was able to bring an overhead cam engine, disc brakes and independent suspension at an affordable price + it is really fun to drive!

You could buy a Datsun 240Z for around $3,500 in 1970, and that is exactly what my Father did. He purchased the first Datsun 240Z in St Louis, Missouri as his daily driver. After getting the bug to race a couple years later, he then turned it into the 1972 SCCA Mid-America Regional Championship Car. Shortly after the championship win, the car sat retired in my Father’s garage in St Louis for over 40 years.

Earlier this year the Folks over at Nissan North America helped me get the car running and transporting it to my Dad’s home in Naples, Florida. So when Nissan sent me the 370Z Convertible to test for a week, I raced (figuratively) across Alligator Alley for a photo shoot.


The “Z” has changed a lot in the past 40 years! It has gotten more expensive with a starting price of $29,000. but the 370Z is a lot quicker thanks to a 332HP V6 and a six-speed manual gearbox. For reference, the original only had 151HP and a four-speed manual gearbox – my Father’s engine was highly modified and featured a five-speed manual gearbox from Datsun Racing in Japan. Another neat feature of the 370Z’s six-speed manual gearbox is that it offers rev-matching standard, which means you no longer have to master heel-to-toe footwork when downshifting. Nissan offers one of the most (if not the most) affordable vehicle with rev-matching. Behind the wheel of both vehicles, you start to feel as if you are one with the car as you tackle each turn on a curvy road. It may take a minute to find it, but once you do, it becomes easy to feel the transfer of weight between all four tires as you decelerate and accelerate out of sharp turn. Like the original, the 370Z offers true sports car experience for an affordable price when you compare it to the Corvette Stingray or Porsche 718 Boxster/Cayman.

The “Z” has gotten a lot more comfortable too! The new one rides better, is better insulated, and quieter. The interior has also been very nicely upgraded: The leather appointed seats offer both heating and ventilation options, while also delivering nice bolster support. The instrument cluster ingeniously rises up and down with the steering position, so you always have a perfect view of the tachometer. And speaking of gages, the instrument cluster pays homage to the original 240Z with its use of three round dials on the center of the dash. The analog gages are paired with an LED display on the instrument cluster, and LED clock on the center of the dash, and a touch-screen infotainment center on the dash.

The only thing that drives me crazy about this pairing, is that the car’s LED clock and the infotainment center clock are not synced. Which means that owners will have to set both clocks each time day light savings times comes and goes.

While the new 370Z and the old 240Z are uniquely original, they both offer timelessly classic good looks and the spirit of driving a fun sports, without breaking the bank. Visit your local Nissan dealer or click here to learn more about the Nissan 370Z.

The 2016 Camaro RS Converted Me…


Outside of a brief period in the late 80’s and early 90’s, the Ford Mustang was my vehicle of choice in the “Pony Wars.” The Mustang had great styling and a strong culture behind the name. In the previous couple generations, the Camaro one upped the Mustang with independent suspension, but with premium leather and soft touch materials, the Mustang’s interior was far superior than the Camaro.

All of that has changed with the 2016 Camaro. Chevrolet stepped up there game with a modern interior fit for a premium sports car. The Camaro RS with a few small upgrades offers beautifully wrapped leather seats, also with a leather arm rest, gear shifter, and steering wheel. Chrome accents are masterfully placed to infused to give the interior a sporty and modern look. The large touchscreen display is at finger tips reach for audio, navigation, and other infotainment controls. I love the new climate controls; simply turn the center air vents up or down adjust the temperature.

Now take that premium interior and pair it with a V6 and you have the perfect sports coupe for daily driving. I say perfect because it gets great gas mile and has plenty of power to have fun with, 335 horse power to be exact. If you want even more fun, opt for the sport exhaust, which enhances the exhaust note. It makes the V6 sound better and louder than the V8, plus it offers a slight increase in horsepower… Who doesn’t love a good roar? The vehicle I tested was the 8-speed automatic varient, which Chevrolet claims shifts faster than a manual transmission and just as fast as a dual-clutch transmission. The vehicle is able to roll through the gears almost instantly in fully automatic mode, but I noticed a tiny lag when using the paddle shifters to control the gearbox.


Not seen, but easy to feel are the structural and suspension improvements to the 2016 Camaro. The new vehicle is 390 pounds lighter and the body 28% more ridged than the previous generation; this means improved handling and car control…. Finally a Camaro worthy of competing in an Autocross course.

In summary, the new Camaro has won over fanboys, at least this one! Find out more by visiting your local dealer or by clicking here to visit the Chevrolet website.

The Lexus RC 350 F-Sport Is One Sexy Beast!

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The Lexus RC 350 F-Sport reminds me of Marilyn Monroe – both have dynamite curves! The RC starts with a smooth wide stance towards the nose, then eloquently wraps backwards to create the cabin. Its fastback design leaves an edge in the rear, which gives you the perception that the vehicle is moving even when it is standing still.

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It is just as deadly as it is beautiful. Under the hood of the Lexus RC 350 F-Sport is 306 horsepower 3.5L V6 motor. Despite having a zero to sixty time of only 5.6 seconds, it is rated for 28 mpg on the highway. This makes the Lexus RC 350 F-Sport well balanced for both enjoyment and the commute to the office. The RC 350 F-Sport is available with both rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive options. The rear-wheel-drive option produces a quicker zero to sixty time, while the all-wheel-drive option offers improved handling and better traction on slippery surfaces (such as the rain).

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The cabin of the RC 350 F-Sport is sporty, but refined. The seats offer greater bolster support than the average Lexus, while maintaining comfortability. The interior uses Lexus’ updated design language. Every control is placed within an arms length, with most items able to be controlled using an intuitive touch pad on the center console. The RC 350 F-Sport offers plenty of headroom for the driver and front passenger, making this a great option for someone who is tall. Backseat passengers on the other hand will be a little squished.

All around, the Lexus RC 350 F-Sport is a great sports coupe and a worthy competitor to the BMW 4-Series.

I got an opportunity to drive the RC 350 F-Sport and RCF in the fall of 2014 at Monticello Motor Club in New York. Click here to read about it and my first impressions of the cars.

Great things come in small packages… The 2016 Subaru BRZ


I can’t get enough to of the Subaru BRZ. What is not to love? It is a small sporty coupe with a 6-speed manual gearbox (or a traditional automatic) and 4-cylinder Boxer engine.

The Subaru BRZ isn’t going to win a drag race, but its low center of gravity means that it will lap most cars on a tight road course. The horizontally opposed boxer engines produces 200 horsepower and 151 pounds of torque from a 2.0L package.

Not much has changed since my last review on the BRZ. Read my previous post to find out why you should buy this car.

 

The sixth generation Mustang is the best Mustang yet!

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I have been a Mustang fan since I was a boy, but not of all Mustangs… I love the first generation, liked the second, hated the third and fourth, and loved the fifth. I loved the previous generation so much so that I ordered a 2011 Mustang nine months before the car was put into production.

My 2011 Ford Mustang was a metallic blue model with white stripes and saddle leather interior; it was beautiful. Under the hood was 3.7L V6 paired with a six-speed manual gearbox that delivered 305 hp to the rear wheels. At the time, it was one of Ford’s most advanced engines. It was faster than the 2010 Mustang GT, while maintaining a fuel economy of around 28mpg on the highway. I ended up selling my Mustang and buying a Porsche because I wanted a change of pace…. But I still miss Mustang! There is something about driving American muscle.

The Mustang I am driving this week is a sixth generation Mustang. The new Mustang boasts a more aggressive design with a sleeker roof line. The vehicle is slightly wider and longer, but nearly an inch shorter. The model I am driving includes Ford’s new 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine with a six-speed manual gearbox. The engine is rated for 310 horsepower and 320 pounds of torque, so it gallops from zero to sixty a little quicker than my Mustang. The only thing missing is the rumble of the engine through the exhaust. My old Mustang wasn’t nearly as throaty as a V8, but the naturally aspirated V6 engine still produced a nice little rumbled. Instead, when you put the pedal to metal in this car, you hear the turbos spool. Arguably, some may enjoy the sound of turbo chargers getting ready to launch the car – with very minimal lag.

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In addition to increased horsepower and torque, the new EcoBoost Mustang offers slightly increased fuel economy over the current and previous generation V6. Fuel economy has become increasingly important to Ford. Not just because of expected rising fuel costs in the US (even though gas prices are insanely low now), but because this is a global Mustang. Ford is building and selling the Ford Mustang across the globe for the first time ever. Europeans love turbo-charged 4-cylinder engineers because of the lower emissions, increased fuel economy, and low RPM torque. In some European countries, citizens are taxed based on their vehicle’s engine size.   

The all-new interior on the sixth generation Mustang is fighter plane inspired, toggle switches and a speedometer labeled “Ground Speed MPH.” 

The interior is stunning. The new design has turned the unrefined Mustang into a sophisticated vehicle, worthy of ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel, and dynamic mood lighting. Their is quite a bit of plastic in the vehicle, but Ford did a fantastic job of dressing it up with stitching accents that make it look like leather. I know I have said it before, but one of the best features of any Ford is Microsoft Sync. It is hands down one of the easiest to use infotainment centers. It offers a wealth of premium features without the need for an expensive data plan (just for your car).

I know the sixth generation Mustang has been out for a while now, but I feel like a kid in a candy store getting my hands on one!

 

It’s good to be bad! A week with the Jaguar F-Type S


Everyone loves a bad boy… Girls want to be with him and guys want to be him. Why? Because bad boys are sexy. The 2016 Jaguar F-Type S is a bad boy, which through the transitive property of “you are what you drive,” this humble Midwestern is a bad boy too…. Well at least for a week.

The Jaguar F-Type S cuts through air like a shark cuts through the ocean. Its lines are an infusion of aerodynamics and beauty. They are aggressive and sleek, but not intimidating. Its authentic air vents, pop up spoiler, and powerful brakes show that the F-Type isn’t just a pretty face.

While the Porsche 911 compromises luxury for performance, the Jaguar F-Type S blends the two together beautifully. The airplane and racing inspired cabin on the F-Type S takes the term luxury sports car to a new level. It is exceptionally beautiful with ultra-soft leather on nearly every surface. The model I was driving included the optional performance seats, which are racing inspired.


Contrast orange stitching on the seats, doors, and dash enhance the sporty appearance.

You feel powerful behind the wheel! That is thanks to a 3.0L supercharged V6 with 380 horsepower and a throaty exhaust. With zero to sixty times of 5.3 with a manual transmission and 4.8 with an automatic transmission, the Jaguar F-Type S isn’t the fastest car in its segment, but it feels faster than the rest of the segment. It is exhilarating to punch it from a stoplight and hear massive roar come from the F-Type’s dual exhaust.

The 2016 Jaguar F-Type S was built to make you feel alive… As you cruise along A1A, you feel the wind blow through your hair as you are wrapped in premium leathers. You pull up to your date’s house and she hears the rumble from the exhaust. You then get on highway 95 with a spirited force, adrenaline is pumping through your veins you are grinning from ear to ear. As you drive to the restaurant, patrons jaws begin to drop. The car is beaming with sex appeal. Then when it is time to call it a night, you take the scenic route home so you can spend a few extra moments with the F-Type…. Whats the rush? Bad boys always get the girl!