2019 VW Tiguan: 3 Row Awesomeness

The 2019 VW Tiguan may look like your average stylish compact crossover, but it features a hidden gem. One which I only discovered during my last day with the vehicle… a 3rd row.

Normally a childless 30 something year old sports car enthusiast wouldn’t get excited about something like a 3rd row. And normally I wouldn’t, but the Tiguan wasn’t designed for me. It was created for young families.

Over the past 10 years, I have seen countless friends go from a sports sedan to a compact SUV when they get their first child. Then go from a compact SUV to a full-size SUV when they get a second kid or their child starts making friends in school; extra seats are needed for the carpool club.

Since VW added a 3rd to the Tiguan, new parents can make the compact SUV last a few years longer. This a blessing because I hear kids are expensive!

Jaguar iPace: It’s Electric?

The problem with most electric vehicles is that the only the noteworthy thing about them is the fact that they are electric. Cars like Tesla are prime example. All three Tesla vehicles that I have tested felt cheap inside, which is crazy for a $100,000 vehicle!

A car should be able to hold its own whether it is electrically charged or petrol powered. And this is where Jaguar comes into play… the iPace is a joy to drive.

Behind the wheel, I kept forgetting that I was driving an electric vehicle. My senses told me that I was driving a Jaguar. A car manufactured by a brand with a racing pedigree, while also being a brand renown for their fit and finish. A brand that the Queen of England has endorsed.

The Jaguar iPace in its truest form is a sports sedan. It hugs corners like a sports sedan and accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds like a sports car. It is not the fastest EV, however, it is one of the most thrilling daily drivers you can purchase. I consistently found myself “playing around” both on the highway and city streets.

Despite is 4,702 pound weight, the Jaguar iPACE felt very agile and balanced, with only a small bit of understeer. You want understeer on this type of vehicle because it is proven to be significantly safer than oversteer in untrained hands. The steering was well sorted and crisp. It didn’t provide as much feedback as I would have liked for a Jaguar, but it also didn’t feel video game like either.

At highway speeds, the Jaguar iPACE zipped along beautifully and felt very stable. Power always seemed readily available, although I noticed my battery levels exponentially decrease the faster I went. The vehicle is rated for a range 234 miles, but I felt anxiety planning for a 150 mile day trip. I made the trip but I didn’t have too much extra juice to spare. And then once I got to my destination, I had to charge the 90 kWh battery pack.

It is no surprise that luxury is paramount with the Jaguar iPace. The fit and finish of each element on my prototype test vehicle exuberated English craftsmanship with fine buttery leathers. But unlike Jaguar’s of yesteryears, the iPACE felt high tech at the same time with multiple displays for systems management and entertainment. However, the displays didn’t seem cumbersome or give you the impression that you are driving a spaceship.

My entire experience felt like I was in a car, a car that so happens to be powered by two magnetic electric motors.

2019 Mercedes AMG G63: Bigger Is Better

I have written about the Mercedes AMG 63 a number of times. For the past 20 years my consensus has been that the G-Wagen is the coolest looking luxury off-road vehicle that you can buy, and it would be my pick for rock crawling due to its rugged design. But I have always thought that previous generations of G-Class SUVs were over priced, especially the AMG versions. This was mainly due to an interior design that lacked a true luxury feel and the overall ride quality. Not much has changed for the G-Wagen in that past 45 years, until now…

The latest edition of the G-Class looks the same on the outside, but it is actually a completely new car: The vehicle is 4 inches longer and almost 5 inches wider. This results in improved driving dynamics. The larger stance makes the G-Wagen feels more solid at highway speeds than the previous model and it delivers less body roll when cornering. The vehicle still feels top heavy, but the perceived center of gravity has been lowered.

The longer and wider stance of the Mercedes AMG G63 has also made way for a revamped interior. While previous generations offered an interior fitting of a $40,000 c-class, the new G-Wagen offers posh interior fit for a $100,000+ vehicle. The design screens luxury with two large displays and supple leather on the doors and dashboard. Gone are the cheap plastic components in favor of brushed aluminum and wood trim. The seats are seemingly wider and occupants are no longer cramped with bumping elbows as the front armrest is almost 3 inches wider. Backseat passengers will applaud with almost 6 inches more of rear legroom.

No AMG variant Mercedes-Benz review would be complete without mentioning what’s under the hood. The G63 AMG comes with a handcrafted Bi-Turbo V8 that is good for 577 horsepower and 627 pounds of torque. Even though the new G-Wagen weighs an undisclosed “ton,” the AMG engine rockets the vehicle from 0 to 60 mph in less than 4.5 seconds and to a top speed of 150mph.

My test vehicle garnered a price tag north of a $160,000, which clearly places it in Land Rover Range Rover and Porsche Cayenne Turbo territory. Between the three: Mercedes for image and off road durability. Land Rover for luxury. Porsche for overall driving dynamics.

2019 BMW i8 Roadster: An Instant Classic

Even wayback when the BMW i8 first debuted, it wasn’t considered a fast car by any means. It was quick for a car, but not quick for a $140k+ sports car. What kept people so intrigued was BMW’s use of a hybrid drivetrain and advanced use of carbon fiber for the body panels and chassis.

Fast forward to 2019 and the performance benchmarks are still on par with five years ago. They are slightly improved, but the car still won’t win any races. What is radically new for 2019 is the Roadster variant. The drop top transforms the i8 from a high tech grand tourer into a super car wannabe. With scissor doors, intelligent lines and rear speedster humps, it is the type of vehicle your 12 year old self would hang as a poster on the bedroom wall. It reminds me of the Lamborghini Countach because just looking at the BMW i8 Roadster makes you envy…. forget the fact that you are saving the planet.

Under the mid-engine hood is a twin-turbo 3-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor under the front hood. The two power plants combined deliver 369 horsepower and 420 pounds of torque. With a charged battery, the i8 Roadster will go from 0 to 60mph in 4.4 seconds. With a charged battery, the i8 Roadster will also go approximately 20 miles on pure electric and gets 76 MPGe. It takes about 3 hours to fully change the lithium ion batteries. So if your daily commute is short, the BMW i8 Roadster becomes an electric sports car that offers no range anxiety.

I am happy to report that the i8 Roadster lives up to its name. With a near 50/50 weight distribution, it lives up to its name. It is perfectly suited for carving canyon roads as it is your daily commute. In sport mode, the steering precise, it has great throttle response, and the i8 Roadster showed little body roll. In comfort mode the BMW i8 Roadster drives like a grand tourer. The only thing missing is adjustable lumbar support. Be forewarned, the BMW i8 and the i8 Roadster are not the cars to buy if you have a bad back. Because of the wide door sills, it can be hard to get in and out of – the same thing can be said of all modern McLaren vehicles. Plus after a couple hours in the car, my back would oftentimes grow tired. But I didn’t pull over on the side of the road and stretch, or go home early… the kid inside of me was enjoying to drive too much.

If you are looking for a flashy sports car that will turn just as many heads as a Lamborghini but have Germany reliability and be environmentally friendly, then the BMW i8 Roadster checks all of the boxes. Plus it is a car that will still impress your grand kids 30 years in the future.

Contact your local dealer or visit BMWusa.com for more information.

Cadillac is back, with the CT6

I was a kid of the 80’s and 90’s. Back then, when you said the name Cadillac, people envisioned a big luxury car. The brand repositioned itself in the 2000s to become modern sports saloons. The transition was vital to keeping the brand alive and getting younger buyers to take notice in the brand, but Cadillac lost the lazyboy experience you got while driving a big beautiful Cadillac. Don’t get me wrong, I love sports cars and sports sedans, but Cadillac neglected a market segment of distinguished buyers who don’t care about sport. Click Here To Continue Reading

The Buick Encore Is For The Urban Explorer

2017-Buick-Encore-009

There is a need in the USA for small fuel-efficient crossover vehicles and the new Buick Encore fits the bill nicely. It is a great option for young millennial who have an active lifestyle and need all 18 cubic feet of cargo space, as well as, baby boomers who no longer have kids to haul around, but want the ride height of an SUV and great fuel economy (34 mpg on the highway) for road trips.

2017-Buick-Encore-005

With a starting price of $23,000, the Buick Encore is a great value in the premium small crossover segment. The vehicle comes in five trim levels and is offer with both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive drivetrains. The interior of the car I test felt premium with leather seats and soft-touch plastics. The sticking on the dash was definitely an added touch that enhanced the premium feeling. The Buick Encore is no Cadillac, but it is definitely a step above a basic Chevrolet.

Safety features on the Buick Encore include 10 standard air bags and rear backup camera. Active safety features include rear cross traffic alert, blindspot detection, and forward collision alert. It won’t stop for you, but it will alert you if the car in front of our slams on their brakes.

Visit your local dealer to learn more about the Buick Encore or click here to visit Buick’s website.

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 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.