The term “exotic” isn’t used lightly in the automotive world. But that is the best way to describe the BMW i8. When it first came out in 2014, it appeared to be a car sent from the future, and it still does today. Its unique design, complete with a flying buttress, and scissor door makes your jaw drop every time your approach the car. By the way if you don’t know what a flying buttress does, it is a design element on the rear of the car that allows for air flow moving through the body to create downforce at high speeds – essentially allowing you keep the car on the ground without the need for a rear wing or spoiler. Continue Reading →
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. Continue Reading →
The new Lamborghini Aventador S may look very similar to its predecessor, but there is a lot more bite to its bark. The Aventador S is the Hurican’s bigger brother. The proportions are wide and longer, but it also get 2 more cylinders, for a total of 12. This monstrous V12 engine is able to produce a mind boggling 740 horsepower, and rocket the car from 0 to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds. Off the line starts are instant with virtually no wheel spin because the new Aventador S has all-wheel-drive.
As both an automotive journalist and avid track day enthusiast, what I found most remarkable about the Aventador S was how nimble the car feels for its size and weight. There is no getting around the fact that it is a big car. It is almost a foot longer than the 911 GT3 RS that I tested earlier this year, but the Aventador S felt much better balanced, and as a result more nimble. The mid-engine design of the Aventador S helps give it a 43/57 weight distribution. Also contributing to its agility is Lamborghini’s all-new four-wheel steering system. When going around a corner at high speeds, the rear wheels turn in addition to the front wheels in order to help bring you closer to the apex every time. The experience of having the rear wheels turn is unnerving at first, because all of the sudden you feel the rear end slide out and you are not controlling it – the onboard computer is doing it. This is presumably a much safer option than throttle-steer or trail-braking for novice drivers, and there is no doubt that I felt faster on the track with four-wheel steering vs two-wheel steering. If you are the type of person who wants to go as fast as possible as easily as possible and as safe as possible, then skip driving school and buy a car with four-wheel steering. If you like to work hard for your speed, then four-wheel steering will feel like cheating on an exam.
The interior of the Lamborghini Aventador S is just as bold as the exterior. The cabin is littered in with jet fighter like buttons and switches. The engine start/stop button has a cover reminiscent of a missile launcher or Jame’s Bond’s ejector seat switch. The seats and dash, doors, and headliner was dressed in leather and sporty alcantara. The instrument cluster was in the form of a digital display, which enhanced the high tech ultra-high performance experience of driving the Aventador S.
Another signal that you are drive a jet fighter for the street is the triangle exhaust tips that make you wonder if flames really do shoot out the back when you stomp on the gas pedal. The rear end is thing of beauty and a marvel of engineering because their is nothing else like it on the market.
But the experience starts way before you even step in to the car. There was something mythical about approaching the Lamborghini Aventador S. It wasn’t just the usual scissors doors, it is a culmination of things that instantly makes you feel special about being near the car. Each Aventador S appears to be individualized because of the complex level of interior and exterior color pallets options. Also because of the rarity (in certain markets) of the Aventador, the vehicle really does say something about the driver. Are you a CEO driving through country roads in your Nero Nemesis Black Aventador S with yellow stitching on the way to your winter estate? Or are you a celebrity driving to the premier of your new movie with a Verde Mantis Green Aventador S? Either way, the Lamborghini Aventador S will make you feel like an F1 Driver with exhilarating acceleration, nimble handling, GQ level styling.
Visit your local Lamborghini dealer for more information about the Aventador S or click here to configure our own Italian bull.
In my book, there is really only one true American muscle car left on the market… and that is the Dodge Charger (4-door)/Challenger (2-door). Both the Mustang and Camaro are technically pony cars, and both are getting closer and closer to high-performance sport coupes. While the Charger still offers a true muscle car experience with a snarling V8 motor under the hood that makes you want to drag race one stop light to the next.
The vehicle comes in a number of different variants, but most of the trim levels deliver a HEMI engine under the hood. The Legendary engine dates back to the 1950s, but obviously it has been modernized over the years.
The Dodge Charger Daytona I had the pleasure of driving came with a naturally aspirated 5.7L V8 Hemi, which produces 370hp. You can get the same engine in the R/T trim level, but then you don’t get the performance exhaust or the cool Dayton graphics on the exterior or interior.
The Daytona seats feel extra special because the alcantara center inserts and the “Daytona” embroidery.
The contrast Daytona package graphics don’t actually make you go and any faster, but they do add about 50 “visual” horsepower. It makes to car go from cool to bad***.
There is no doubt that electric cars are taking over. Tesla started the modern day electric war, but GM is the first to give us an everyday affordable EV – one that you could theoretically use as one an only car.
I want to stress affordable and only car in previous statement, because yes the Nissan Leaf is affordable, but its range is poor. The Leaf will go only go 124 miles per charge. BMW’s and Smart’s options are not any better. The Chevy Bolt on the other hand will go 238 miles per charge. Tesla’s model S will go 335 miles on a charge, but the Tesla costs over twice as much the Bolt: $82,000 versus $36,000.
The Bolt’s range is key to me for being a one car household. The 200+ mile range means that you can drive all over town or to the next town over without having to worry about mobile charging stations. With the Leaf and BMW electric vehicles I tested, I felt range anxiety. Versus with the Bolt, I was able to drive it all week on one charge – and I drive a lot!
Some may argue the Bolt looks too sci-fi for their tastes, even more so than a Tesla, but shouldn’t a car from the future look high tech. I enjoyed the minimalist design and the use of recycled plastics – it made me feel as if I was doing my part to help the environment. It has that Silicon Valley California vibe, which is a good thing. I could get use to the look…
The only thing I couldn’t get use to was ultra power saving mode. In this mode, you use the accelerator pedal (the gas pedal) to speed up the car by pressing it down as well as slow down the car significantly by lifting off the pedal. In this mode, the regenerative brakes are applied to charge the battery whenever possible – ie when you are not adding accelerating. Luckily you can turn this feature off and drive the Bolt like a normal car with the use both an accelerator pedal and brake pedal.
Visit your local Chevrolet dealer to test a Bolt out yourself or learn more about this all electric vehicle on Chevy’s website.
The Subaru BRZ has been around since 2012, so I have driven the car a number of time. Each time, I am still surprised by how much fun the BRZ is to drive. The same goes for the Toyota FRS because it is basic the same car. The vehicle was manufactured as a joint venture between the two companies – taking the best of Subaru and the best of Toyota engineering.
The car hasn’t changed much in terms of performance or overall design, with the exception of the BRZ getting a few small visual enhancements and new color options. I consider this a good thing! I can’t count on my fingers or toes how many times I have seen a manufacture produce a stunning car, but ruin the ascetics because they want to give people something new to buy. A great example: Nissan gave us the Datsun 240Z in 1969, a lightweight sports coupe that handles great. The car instantly became an icon with its timeless design and high revving (Prince) engine. A few years later, Nissan gave us the 260Z and then the 280X. Each generation gained a few pounds and got bigger. Thankfully, Subaru/Toyota has stayed true to the original design… a lightweight sports coupe that handles great. I hope the next generation of the BRZ/FRS adheres to this same philosophy. We need more true sports cars in the world.
So back to the current generation Subaru BRZ. As I said before not much has change, or has it? They say clothes make the man, so some would argue that paint color makes the car. Maybe not… But I am still in awe by the 2017 BRZ I tested. The special edition Yellow BRZ series makes my toes tingle just by looking at it. I love the color, especially when paired to the black wheels and red brake calibers. It excites you before you even get into the car!
Once you get inside, the car feels even more special with yellow accents and thick yellow stitching. These two items really dress up the car. Otherwise it is the usual BRZ trim and interior. Although that is not a bad thing, because the BRZ’s interior gives you a true sports car feel – right down to the alcantara sports bucket seats.
My driving impression of the car is still the same… this little Subaru / Toyota love child was made to hit twisty canyon road and the track. From the moment you hit slide the 6-Speed manual transmission into first gear and hit the gas, you feel as if you are driving a race car. It is a special sensation that you don’t get anymore with most street cars.
When Mercedes-Benz puts the AMG badge on a car, you know it means business! Yes, the C43 AMG doesn’t have a legendary bi-turbo V8, but it has AMG power, prestiege, exhilaration for a relatively cheap price.
Traditionally when you see an AMG badge on a Mercedes, you can nearly double the price tag. But that is not the C43 AMG. It is starting price is only $12,000 more than the base C coupe… and it is worth every penny. AMG transformed a boring compact coupe into an addictive sports coupe that begs you to smash the accelerator. The car goes 0-60mph in 4.6 seconds, which doesn’t make it a rocket, but it is plenty fast for around town or on the highway. The addictivness comes is variable sports exhaust, which with the press of a button, makes the car go from quite estate car to super car like sound. In addition to upgraded exhaust with the C43 AMG, you also get a sports tuned suspension, a torque vectoring system, and bigger brakes for added performance.
While some may say that the C43 AMG is “just a sports package” or “that it is just for people who want the prestige of an AMG, but can’t afford the real thing,” I strongly disagree. The C43 AMG offers a true AMG experience while also delivering decent fuel economy (27mph Highway). Who doesn’t want better gas mileage from their daily driver?
I usually don’t get excited about cars that get a refresh. But the new Hyundai Sonata has peeked my interest. While it visually looks similar very similar, it is not. Hyundai has reworked almost every exterior element on the front of the car. It has new grill with sleeker lines that remind me of an unnamed luxury car. It’s stance is more aggressive, and it is complimented with a reworked rear end. It has got an all-new trunk, bumper and tail lights.
The interior although they say it is new, you can’t tell the difference unless you are comparing the two vehicles side by side. But what is noticeable different is the driving dynamics. The feel of the vehicle is enhanced by new steering and suspension systems that give the driver more feedback while also delivering a smoother ride. Another impressive item related to the car is a new transmission. Even though you will never (don’t quote me) see a Hyundai Sonata on the drag strip, you still want to have fun with it. The transmission has been reworked to deliver quicker shifts when you hit the gas pedal hard, but still offer smooth transitions between gears when cruising casually. I also noticed less lag between shifts while manually selecting a gear using the paddle shifters.
For those concerned about fuel economy, both models of the Hyundai Sonata I tested got over 30mpg. If you are interested in performance, you have your choice of a 1.6L twin-turbo 4-cylinder that produces 178hp, a 2.4L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder that produces 185hp, or a 2.0L twin-turbo that produces a respectiable 245hp.
Overall, Hyundai did a fantastic job of enhancing an already great product. Even though a well equipped Hyundai Sonata is priced at under $25,000, it still offers premium luxury features. A 7 inch touchscreen infotainment system, power and heated front seats, automatic headlights, and blind-spot detection are all standard features on the SEL trim. If you want to add the $1,000 Tech Package to your options list, the car can nearly drive itself… you get automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, and adaptive cruise control.
My last review on this site was of the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class; a ultra high-tech luxury sedan that semi-autonomously drives itself on the highway. This week’s car is week also a luxury sedan, but with the Jaguar XFS, you will want to do all of the driving yourself! This mid-sized sedan was designed for the driving enthusiast – those who would choose to take the long way home as an excuse to get more time behind the wheel.
The Jaguar XFS keeps the brands heritage of building high performance cars. Yes, the car has a 3.0L Supercharged V6 that rockets it from 0-60 in 5 seconds, and it uses a lightweight aluminum architecture. But… what really makes the car so great is the feeling you get while driving on a curvy road. The driving dynamics are performance bred. You are able to actually “feel” the road (in sport mode) as your tires start to slide while you are breetheing on the throttle in a turn. The level of engagement reminds me of what you would expect from a BMW 5-Series, but with a higher level of refinement. The seats are more plush, the dash is elegantly sophisticated, and materials used are fit for the royal family – yes the Queen of England has been spotted driving herself in a Jaguar XF wagon.
So what’s not to love??? Finding a legitimate complaint about the Jaguar XFS is like finding a needle in a haystack, but I did find one… the lack of Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Jaguar has their “InControl” smartphone connectivity system, but the intergration is not as good as Apple’s or Google’s. So if you are tech geek, you might want to wait for Jaguar’s next update. Rumor has it, Apple Car Play is coming soon.
To say that the all-new Mercedes Benz E-Class is the best E-Class ever made isn’t too far of stretch, because the model gets arguably better with each new generation. But I will go a step further and say that the all-new E-Class is also the best mid-sized luxury sedan on the market – The title was previously held (in my opinion) by the Audi A6.
When you step inside the new E-Class, it is easy to mistake that you are stepping into an S-Class because the interior of the E-Class mirrors the S-Class. It is just as stunning on fully optioned models, just slightly smaller. The first thing you will notice are two gigantic digital screens, one to show the vehicle’s instrument cluster and one to two the infotainment center. The screens at matched with either real wood trim or real aluminum. Then as you slip into the seats you will feel premium leather seats (if optioned) followed by a gentle massage on your back and bottom (after a activating it on the infortainment screen). I have to hand it to Mercedes, they are the only manufacturer with a “real” massage chair built into the seats. I have tried massaging seats from everything from Ford to Rolls-Royce, and Mercedes is the only manufacture where I would pay extra for the seats.
The in-car technologies are a mirror of the flagship S-Class Mercedes as well. There is radar guided cruise control as well as an active lane-keep assist. These two options make the E-Class Mercedes “close to” a semi-autonomous vehicle. I say “close to” because you are still required to have your hands on the steering wheel, but you just barely need to touch it. During the week I tested it, I had a business trip from Ft Lauderdale to Orlando, FL. After getting on the Turnpike, I let the car drive itself on the 200+ mile journey. The car turned as the road turned, slowed down as the car in front of me braked, and speed up as the speed limit increased. You heard that right, the new Mercedes E-Class can read speed limit signs and dynamically adjust your speed accordingly. The car worked beautifully with one exception…. later that week I was on a two lane country road on my way to a charity event. I had a pickup truck in front of my and a semi-truck behind me. The E-Class was basically driving itself when the pickup truck decided to slow down and turn left into a convenience store. This shouldnt be a problem, but because the Mercedes couldn’t accurately detect the lines in the road, it started following the truck left. I quickly had to grab the wheel, as I was driving in the wrong lane with a school bus headed right for me. To top it off, the semi-truck started to pass me as the car drove it self into the other lane. Luckily I was an alert drive and abruptly slowed to get behind the semi-truck. So while the E-Class’ semi-autonomous driving functionality is great, please remember that they are an aid and not intended to allow the drive to take a backseat. Other than this one time nerve wrecking experience, the system was spot on.
So here is the big question… should you get a fully loaded E-Class for around $75,000 or upgrade to a base S-Class? Outside of size, they are very close products now. The E-Class fully-load is slightly smaller and easier to drive. The S-Class rides better and has a much larger backseat. So my pick is the E-Class for the city and the S-Class for the highway.
Visit your local Mercedes-Benz dealer or click here to go to the Mercedes-Benz website.