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 Cadillac CTSV has the heart of a Vette!

In a mid-size performance sedan world dominated by the Germans with BMW M5, America has risen through the ashes to bring us the Cadillac CTSV. A 640 HP Supercharged V8 monster that moves as loud as it roars.

It is monster that seductively entices the driver to go faster while it intimidated passer buyers. This car was built for the performance enthusiast who can no longer drive a Corvette, because he (or she) needs to start taking the kiddies to school.


 But there is no settling here, because the Cadillac CTSV has a 0-60 time of 3.7 seconds which is on par with the Corvette Stinray Z51. It also has the same 6.2L Supercharged engine that goes into the Corvette Stingray Z06.

Unlike the Corvette though, the only transmission option is an 8-speed traditional automatic. It can be manually controlled using the paddle shifters on the steering wheel or set to fully automatic mode. I didn’t get a chance to test this vehicle on the track, but automatic in sport mode was my preferred serting because I noticed a tiny lag when trying to up shift using the paddles.

The Supercharged 6.2L V8 gives it the heart of a Corvette, but the interior gives it the style of a Cadillac.


The interior is race inspired, with a leather and micro-fiber Recaro Racing seats, as well as, a micro-fiber wrapped steering wheel and gear selector. But the interior also boosts a timeless style with its use of chrome and leather on the doors and dash.

The “Cue” infotainment center, like on all Cadillacs, is eloquently controlled using a series of touchpad buttons. The only downside of these button is when you are using a radar detector and the cord brushes up against a touchpad button, the energy running through the cord engages the control. The end result was my radio volume mysteriously turning all the way up as I enjoyed a sweeping turn. Other than that, annoyance, I love this car!

The Cadillac CTSV is the perfect car for those who desire a sports car, but need room for family. It’s closest competitor is the BMW M5, but I would stick with the CTSV unless you want to blend in at the country club.

For more information on the Cadillac CTSV, contact your local dealer or click here.

The Jaguar XE is the perfect sports sedan


A high performance 340 HP supercharged engine: check. A sports tuned suspension: check.  A seductive interior and exterior: check. An exhilarating ride: checkmate.

All of these things can be said about a sports car, but what makes a sports sedan different from a sports car is the fact that four people can actually fit in it. It is just as well suited for a track day as it is picking up your two kids from school.

BMW has dominated the sports sedan segment with the 3-series. But what is lacked in creature comforts it made up for in terms of performance.

Now there is a new Sheriff in town, the Jaguar XE. It is here to steal BMW’s lunch money, and in my opinion, it has. The XE is backed by Jaguars racing pedigree and the ultra-fun to drive F-Type sports car. It is also backed by Jaguar’s XJL ultra-luxury sedan. So the vehicle is able offer the rare combination of true luxury and true performance. You won’t find that at Mercedes (unless you opt for an AMG) or Audi (unless you opt for an S or RS). Both brands trade comfort over performance unless you are willing to spend almost six figures. This combination of luxury and performance for under $50k gives the XE a clearly defined audience: driving enthusiasts who need a luxury car.

Like I mentioned before, the Jaguar XE is available with a 340Hp Supercharged V6, paired with an 8-speed automatic. But it is not just the acceleration times that got my heart racing, it is how well the Jaguar XE sticks to a corner. The vehicle is tight, well balanced, and demonstrates little body roll. Jaguar utilized a lightweight aluminum architecture to keep the center of gravity low and offer drivers a near 50/50 weight distribution… and you can feel it in the car as you hug corners. To hug them even tighter, Jaguar introduced torque vectoring to compact sports sedan segment. The electronically controlled system dynamically controls the brakes on the inside wheels while cornering in order to spin the car faster. The XE is also available with a performance oriented all-wheel-drive system. I say performance because most all-wheel-drive systems, like the one found on entry level Audis, have a front wheel drive bais that delivers the majority of power to the front wheels. The Jaguar takes cue from LeMans race cars and is able to shift the power from 90-10 (front-rear) to 50-50 to 10-90 based upon road conditions and driving patterns.

All of this makes it the perfect car for a driving enthusiast who needs four doors.

Inside the Jaguar XE, you will find a poshly designed interior that came straight from Britain. The attention to detail is superb, right down to the rotary dial used to select the gear. The seats are firm, but comfortable. The star of the interior is a large touch screen display that is paired with a Meridian sound system to deliver high quality beats to your eardrums.

If you are in the market for a sports sedan, you no longer have to choose between performance and luxury… you now have the Jaguar XE, the perfect sports sedan.

Save some love for the VW Touareg Executive

Volkswagen’s flagship SUV is unfortunatly often times over looked in the luxury SUV segment. I say this because the streets of Florida are littered with BMW X5s, Mercedes GLEs (formal called the ML class), Audi Q7s, and Porsche Cayennes. But I rarely see a VW Touareg, despite its beautiful styling and plush interior. Dollar for dollar, the Touareg beats all of them.

The Volkswagen Touareg is unique amongst its VW brothers and sisters not only because of its price point (starting at 50k), but because the Touareg is targeted specifically against the luxury segment which includes its two cousins, the Audi Q7 and the Porsche Cayenne. The latter with which is shares its underpinnings with. The executive trim level cuts the margins even closer (starting at around $60k) because of all the standard premium equipment.

With both the exterior and interior, the Volkswagen Touareg Executive says the luxury. The exterior styling is beautiful with 21 wheels, and the interior compliments the exterior by using Vienna leather and wood trim – Although I am not sure if it is really wood. VW wanted to make sure occupants are at the optimal climate, by making the seats both ventalited and heated, and offering tri-zone climate controls standard of the Executive trim level. Additional features include Park Distance Control (Park Pilot), a 360-degree camera for parking, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Lane Change Assist.

Standard on all Touaregs is VW’s “4 Motion” all-wheel-drive system. It works similar to Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system which uses a computer to transfer power between each wheel in order to provide drivers with optimum traction. I drove the Touareg on a combination of dry and wet surfaces and the system worked beautifully. I didn’t get a chance to test the Touareg’s terrain response system, which optimizes the all-wheel-drive system for off-road and snow use, but I heard from other journalists that is works well.

You get all of these features for cost of a barely equipped BMW X5, which makes VW Touareg Executive one hell of a bargain!

The only reason why I can understand someone buying a BMW, Mercedes, or Audi over the Touareg is vanity. Let’s face it, VW is “the people’s car.” It is a little hard to justify $60k for a VW when it is seen as the bargain German car manufacturer, but that can work in your favor. I like how the VW Touareg is luxurious, but understated. If an executive is driving a Mercedes, employees are likely think the executive is getting paid too much and that they are not getting paid enough. But if an executive is driving a VW, employees are likely to think they are on an even playing field… Just don’t give them a ride in it!

We all of the premium amenities, I urge you to give the VW Touareg Executive some love next time you are shopping for a luxury mid-sized SUV. It is true German Engineering without the German Engineering price point.

5 Must See Cars At The 2016 Miami Auto Show

1. Alfa Romeo Guilia


I saw this car at the Frankfurt Autoshow last year and fell in love with it. Now it is for the US market to compete head to head with BMW’s M series and Mercedes’ AMG series vehicles. If you want a unique high performance sedan, this is your car!

2. Acura NSX


Acura (Honda, everywhere else in the world) has been teasing us with a new NSX for the past five years. Now it is finally here and a production ready prototype is on display at the Miami Auto Show. Get ready to see them on the streets of South Florida, because I know of at least one local dealer who delivered the car to a customer.

3. Genesis G90


While the Genesis G90 isn’t the most thrilling car on our list, it is definitely the most luxurious. The new G90 is the successor to the Equus and will give the Mercedes S-Class a run for its money.

4. Audi R8


The new Audi R8 is at the 2016 Miami International Auto Show. Its jaw dropping V10 motor and dual-clutch transmission makes it the fastest naturally aspirated production vehicle on the planet.

5. Lexus LC500 Hybrid 


Lexus has taken the luxury grand-touring car segment to the extreme with their newest vehicle. I saw it from a distance on stage at the Detroit Auto Show, but it is even more impressive up close.

The VW Golf is a wolf in sheep’s clothing

As an automotive journalist and car enthusiast, I love fast cars, but I love fast cars that pretend to be slow cars even more! There is something special about driving a car that only other automotive enthusiasts will appreciate. Meet the VW Golf R, not to be confused with its slow little brother, the VW Golf GTI. The R takes hot hatchback performance to another level with more starting power, more stopping power, and tighter handling. Under the hood is a 2.0L turbo charged 4-cylinder motor that produces 292 horse power. The engine is paired with a dual-clutch and an all-wheel-drive system, which rockets this unsuspecting hatchback from zero to sixty in 4.5 seconds. Which this may not be super car times, remember that the starting price of a VW Golf R is only around $36,000. Visit your local VW dealer or visit click here to visit VW’s website.

The Lincoln MKX Black Label is the Black Card of the automotive industry.


Lincoln’s tradition of building beautiful luxury vehicles dates back to 1917, but they became the pinnacle of class in the 1950’s and 60’s when the US Presidents, actors (such as Marilyn Monroe), and music artists (such as Frank Sinatra) were seen driving them.

The modern era of Lincoln is classy, sophisticated and high tech. To take it over the top, Lincoln has introduced the Black Lable program for its most discriminating buyers. I equate it to like having a Black Card from American Express or Master Card, because Lincoln’s Black Label program offers a host of exclusive membership privileges. These include special menus at select upscale restaurants and invitations to VIP parties. The buying process for a Black Label vehicle is also a unique process, because the concierge (sales associate) will come to your home or office with a suitcase of unique color samples and interior trim materials that are exclusive to Black Label Lincoln vehicles. The swatches are categorized into themes.

The vehicle I tested featured “The Muse” theme, which was inspired by the Roaring Twenties with duo tone colors. As with all Black Label vehicles, it features upgraded leather called Venetian Leather. This was my first experiencing this type of leather. It is very similar to Nappa leather in terms of softness, but one Lincoln engineer told me that it is much more durable than Nappa leather. The MKX Black Label also features Alcantara headliner offer occupants to premium feel to touch from top to bottom.

The drivetrain on the Lincoln MKX Black Label is similar to the regular MKX, which offers a 3.7L naturally aspirated V6, a 2.7L V6 EcoBoost (turbo charged) for increased fuel economy, or a 3.7L naturally aspirated V6 with all-wheel-drive.

The Lincoln MKX Black Label also offers similar technology features as the regular MKX, such as lane keep assist and one of the best infotainment systems in the business, Micrsoft Sync.

For more information about the Lincoln MKX Black Label, contact your local Lincoln dealer or Click Here to visit the special Black Label website.

The Maybach Is Back! Review of the 2016 Mercedes S600 Maybach

  
Maybach has a long history of producing some of the finest automobiles in the while, dating back to 1909. In recent times, the vehicle is often regarded as one of the best kept secrets, because only truly wealthy people (and automotive enthusiasts) will recognize the name. This has both helped and hurt the brand throughout the years – Helped because the elite want something different from the dozens of Rolls-Royces parked in their neighbor’s drive way; and hurt because most people paying 200k+ for car want to be recognized driving a car that cost as much as the average home in mid-west.

  
Mercedes, the owner of the Macbach brand, has given us a toy to play with. The Mercedes-Benz S600 Maybach. The vehicle is no longer its own make, but an exclusive trim level of the S-Class sedan.

  
The Machbach version of the S-Class is eight inches longer than the long wheelbase S-Class, meaning more legroom for the rear passangers. Riding in the back of the Mercedes S600 Maybach is like riding in a private jet. With the touch of a few buttons, your seat reclines and a foot rest pops out. Dual video screens keep you occupied as you tour around town. Should you get thirsty, an available champagne cool and (real) silver champagne flutes are stored in the rear center console. If alcohol is not your thing, the rear cup holders are both heated and cooled.

  
On the off chance that you actually have to work for a living, tray tables pop out of the rear center consol on the Mercedes S600 Maybach.

Two leather pillows are elegantly placed for nap time in the rear. Rear and side window shades can automatically be raised to reduce ambient light.

  
The 2016 Mercedes S600 Maybach wasn’t built just for the backseat passangers, the driver gets enjoy unprecedented luxury. The cabin is a lined with Napa leather from top to bottom. A heated steering wheel, armrests, and seats keep you warm during the winter, while ventilated seats keep you cool during the summer. Two big and beautiful displays show colorful illustrations of your speed, route information, entertainment selection, and control options for the front and rear massaging seats. Imagine taking a one hour road trip with a masseuse gentle rubbing your back.

  
Should you feel the need for speed, just give the Mercedes S600 a little gas, and you will begin to feel the power of a twin-turbo charged V12 engine with over 600 horsepower. The transmission is wicked smooth – it glides you from zero to sixty in five seconds.

  
With private jet styling and one of the softest rides on the planet, the MayBach is back. But this time, with an iconic nameplate… Watchout Rolls-Royce and Bentley!

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!

 

Upgrade to first class with the Infiniti Q70L

 
If you have  $50,000 to $65,000 to spend on a luxury sedan, you have a few options. You can get mid-sized sedan like the Mercedes E-Class or the BMW 5-Series, or you can upgrade to the full-sized Infiniti Q70L.

The Infiniti Q70L has Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7-Series, and Audi A8L qualities at a fraction of the price. You get a flagship vehicle with exceptinal ride quality, advanced technologies, and enough leg room for backseat passangers to stretch their legs with an additional six inches of leg room.

 
The interior of the Infiniti Q70L is very posh. The center consol, dash, and doors are dressed with real wood and soft the interior is lined with sof to the touch leather. An available 1o speaker Bose sounds system with twin speakers on the headrest of the front seats is litterally music to my ears – It creates a personalized sound experince for each occupant.

The Infiniti Q70L is avialable in two different engine configurations: a 3.7L V6 that produces 330 horsepower and a 5.6L V8 that produces 416 horsepower. The V8 moves! Both drivetrain option come with a 7-speed automatic transmission that shifts smoothly, but quickly when needed.

The usual flagship level features are standard with the 5.6L varient of the Infiniti Q70L, such as a 360 degree camera and and climate controled seats. So far $64,000 you are not just getting a bigger engine.

The overall design of the Inifiti Q70L has had a major update in almost a decade. This is good for buyers, because they can expect their car to look modern for years to come.