Porsche is a brand with plenty of varied supporters and detractors. What’s funny is, some of those supporters are also detractors. Whether it was the 911 going to a water-cooled engine, the 911 getting the nose of the Boxster, the 911 going to electric power steering, the Cayenne launching, or the idea (even the idea! For shame!) that Porsche would–GASP!–produce a four door sedan. Any change, and they start screaming.
I’m not one of those people. The Panamera has been a big hit for Porsche financially and I have seen more and more of them on the road since the car’s 2009 launch in America. I hadn’t driven one yet and for some reason, just didn’t think much of it until I was at the Porsche Zentrum at the Quail Lodge in August. When I arrived, I signed up to drive this four-door Porsche, only because the 911s on hand were all booked completely. I thought I’d regret this decision until I turned the key…
Mercedes-Benz isn’t all what it seems. While some may mock it for expanding the E-Class range to a coupe and a convertible, and some may question it for offering AWD on the AMG products, no one will see me on that side of the line. In fact, I’m the one doing the slow clap. Mercedes is taking a lesson from its rivals, Audi and BMW, and using the best of what it’s learning. The German luxury market is changing, and Mercedes is keeping up with it in an exemplary way–but the new E63 is proof that they’ve got their ears to the streets and listening to the good word. Read the rest of this entry »
Cadillac is a brand with a history that a lot of people think is filled with luxury cars and glamour, which came crashing to Earth around 1983, after a truly dreadful, horrifying, awful little snotbox called the Cimarron was unceremoniously conned into America’s collective memory. However, Cadillac’s new ATS, their latest attempt at an entry-level car, is rather intriguing and a far cry from Cadillac’s typical barges full of feathery pillows in lieu of “suspension.” Cadillac is going after the 3-Series with this car, a very bold move these days. After hearing all the hype, I waited impatiently until the mid-level engine hit the showrooms, then hit the streets in the silver car above. This is the story of how Cadillac made amends.
The BMW 6-Series can be a tough car to really pin down. Based on its market price and its layout, it is a direct competitor to cars like the Jaguar XJ and the Porsche 911. That said, its size is on the big side for a personal coupe, yet it wears its size well. I was at the Greenwich Concours and BMW had this and a 750i available for test drives, so I took the plunge and gave this rather expensive droptop a good shakedown. Then, I got a chance to drive a 750i, equipped with xDrive AWD, the long-wheelbase body, and the M-Sport trim (an interesting combination that should definitely go over well in the Northeast, where AWD is an important selling point). I took each out and asked myself a question: These two cars are based on pretty much the same platform in different lengths–which one does the job that it sets out to do in the better manner, and which one is actually better overall? I was surprised by the results. Read the rest of this entry »
Four-door coupes are one of the fastest-growing segments in this country. Mercedes started the ball rolling with the CLS, and as of now, the other two German luxury brands have answered the call with interpretations of their own. BMW recently launched the 6-Series Gran Coupe, while Audi started selling their entry last year, the A7. Towards the end of December 2011, my father and I stopped by the local dealer and drove this stunning white example to find out how good the A7 is. Read the rest of this entry »
While on a two-week trip to Israel, I spotted this breathtaking Subaru station wagon on the very first day of the trip in Jerusalem’s impromptu art district not far away from the main market. Normally such a car would not attract my attention (in fact, these wagons are everywhere in Jerusalem) but after a few seconds looking at this one, I bet anyone will agree that this is one special Subaru art car. It seems to be a case of “make a garden out of the car”. My compliments to the owner, who is on the left in the photo after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »
The WRX can be considered a car that turned Subaru’s image in America around virtually overnight. Once a seller of slightly staid, yet nearly unbreakable AWD sedans and wagons, they are now a seller of reasonably priced AWD vehicles and rally sport specials such as the Impreza WRX, STi, and the Legacy 2.5GT. By 2005, every single model Subaru built had the turbocharger option available, as Subaru saw fit to make the WRX’s legacy work across the board. The Forester, a Subaru staple since 1995, received the turbo engine in 2004. The example I drove was a 2004 2.5XT Limited with about 80,000 miles, in average shape. Read the rest of this entry »
The Lexus RX has been a solid seller in the luxury crossover segment since its debut in 1998. The current model seems to be the best RX yet in many ways. My grandparents, out in Arizona, got an RX 350 in 2010, and they loved it so much that they went and bought an additional one in 2011. During a recent visit they were kind enough to let me take their 2011 out for a spin to see why they loved the car so much. Read the rest of this entry »
Chrysler’s Superbowl ad with Clint Eastwood was a nice way to incite faith that the American auto industry will recover. Chrysler has shown much improvement in the last few years, and as soon as I saw the new Dodge Dart I knew they were on the right track. It is based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, meaning its European roots should make it much more attractive than the Civic or the Corolla, which are both shamelessly boring at this point. There is however another market segment that exists with cars in that segment, one where engines are turbocharged, suspensions are stiffened, and priority is given to high MPH over high MPG. Dodge has competed here before with their SRT-4 Neon and Caliber, and everyone is eagerly awaiting the Dart SRT-4 in the next few years. Prior SRT-4s were relics of first half America though, the one that had to be bailed out, so the question is now, what should the SRT-4 of the second half be like?
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The first time I heard about the Volvo S60/V70 R was at their factory in Gothenburg, Sweden back in 2003. My family and I were there on a European delivery trip to pick up my Mom’s new Volvo S80 Executive. The Volvo representative showed us this beautiful turquoise V70 R with a stunning oxblood interior and informed us of its impressive details. I remember being thrilled to hear that Volvo was going to be making a legitimate performance car that would take on Audi and BMW. So, in 2011 with Mind Over Motor up and rolling, I decided it was time to go try out an S60 R and see what it was like from behind the wheel. Read the rest of this entry »
I got bored watching the Detroit Lions get beaten to a sad, bloody pulp on Thanksgiving by the Green Bay Packers, so I decided to go take something for a drive. Thanks to a close friend of my uncle, I obtained the keys to his personal Mercedes E350 4Matic, a car that’s quite successful around my hometown in northern New Jersey. So, in the interest of asking why people love these cars so much, I took half an hour out of Turkey Day and had myself a drive of this black Benz. Read the rest of this entry »
There has been a lot of buzz over the Nissan GTR powered Juke R. It is one of those insane ideas that comes along every so often as a prototype and makes everyone wonder if it could ever make it to production. The last time this sort of thing happened, VW put a Bentley GT engine in a GTI, it caused a commotion and even appeared on Top Gear, but that was all that became of it. I see the GTR powered Juke R as the same sort of thing, a fun prototype that won’t actually make it to production. It does however raise the question of what a high performance Juke could actually be like in production form though. Read the rest of this entry »