The essence of the Porsche 911 hasn’t changed all that much over the years, and when something does change it usually stirs up controversy. The car you see here is my Dad’s 1999 Porsche 911 Carrera (996 generation), and it marks one of the most drastic inflection points in the 911’s history: the switch from air-cooling to water-cooling. Here in 2013, early 996s haven’t had the most love from collectors, and their value has fallen far more than most 911s. That said this is still a Porsche, and Porsche doesn’t make bad cars. I have driven many Porsches, ranging from a Cayenne V6 to the mighty 997 Turbo S. All of them have been extremely entertaining within their own context, and my dad’s car is far from an exception.
The snarl of a V8 echoes as the trees around you turn into a grey blur. You enter an oncoming corner at a pace that would be questionable on an interstate highway, with a crackle erupting from the exhausts as you downshift. The car holds firmly through the bend, then it’s back back on the gas hard as you seem to explode onto the next straightaway. This is surely the experience of a dedicated sports car. Except this isn’t one. In fact, I am describing what its like to thrash Porsche’s 5 door sedan, the Panamera.
Specifically I am talking about the 2013 Porsche Panamera GTS, the highest naturally aspirated Panamera model they offer. Its performance is only second to the mighty Panamera Turbo models, but the GTS aims to offer a more pure driving experience.
Many people think the Panamera is a sign that Porsche is going soft, catering to the masses for sales numbers alone. While I do admit that is surely going on to some degree, most skeptics are basing their sentiments solely on the number of doors the car has. In reality it is the driving experience that makes a Porsche, and just because they are selling cars with a wider appeal now does not necessarily mean that what they are selling is compromised. That was my biggest question going into this drive, is the Panamera a genuine Porsche? If there were any model that could pull it off, I think this GTS would certainly be it. Read the rest of this entry »
Volkswagen had a bit of genius when they built the CC. Obviously they took the coupe-sedan idea from the Mercedes CLS, but unlike the Mercedes, the CC was generally affordable. It sold like hotcakes because, while underneath it was just a VW Passat, its exterior appearance was nothing short of magnificent. Now many of the early CCs are coming off lease, and are available on the secondhand market for what seems to be a great value. So now the question is, what lies under the CC’s pretty facade, and is it worth spending your money on?
I should disclose that I am considering getting myself a CC like this one, so this drive was as much for me personally, as it was for this article. I love having two sports cars, my Subaru STi and Mazda Miata, but lately I have wanted something a bit more comfortable for daily driving. It would be nice to have a car I could go places in, and not have a little devil on my shoulder, constantly telling me to break the law. That said, I don’t want some gutless econobox either, I want a proper luxury car. Read the rest of this entry »
The Golf R carries on the torch, held by the R32 before it, as the ultimate Volkswagen Golf. The R32 first came on the scene in 2002, sharing most of its mechanical features with the top spec Audi TT. It was placed above the famous GTI in the Golf lineup, and offered a bigger VR6 engine that sent power to all four wheels, opposed to just the front in the GTI. The Golf R has changed from the original R32 in many of its details, but still offers the same package in the modern lineup. America was not originally supposed to receive the Golf R when it debuted in 2010, but there was so much outspoken demand for the car that they were landing on our shores by the spring of 2012. This is a car I have been wanting to test for a while now, and as it turned out my family decided to buy another Volkswagen. So after we committed to the buy, I asked if I could have a drive in the Golf R to sweeten the deal a little, and they were more than happy to oblige. Read the rest of this entry »
The 3 series is basically the standard of the world in terms of what defines the sport sedan segment. Over the years it has offered the simple package of a commuter car, but was also great fun to drive. Many competitors have tried to take on the 3 series at its own game, and currently there are a few that really do compete. There is, however, a reason why BMW’s ace in the hole has been so formidable over the years; it’s a tough nut to crack. I recently went and drove this 328i xDrive both as a direct comparison to the Cadillac’s new ATS, and to see how well the newest 3 series carries the torch of its revered lineage. Read the rest of this entry »
BMW has always been one to beat for sports sedans. They pretty much invented the segment back in the late 1970s when the first E21 3-Series rolled off the production line. Since then, the lineup has expanded to include more body styles, more engines (including diesels and now the first-ever hybrid model), and along with that, more features and a higher price. Competitors have stepped up their game, including Lexus, Infiniti, and Cadillac, all of whom tried to unseat the E46 and E90 series 3er’s, but never really succeeded. This year, the 3-series got a big makeover, and I decided this spring, not long after they hit the streets of NJ, to try one out for myself.
This is a big moment for American auto industry, one that can mark a turning point toward success or a continued trend of let downs in the luxury market. Obviously the big comparison is with the BMW 3 series, and I have been very unimpressed with the comparisons done by large publications so far (favoritism and bias run rampant over objectivism and sense). So, I went out and drove the ATS and BMW 3 series back to back to see what I thought from the driver seat. I’m not going to string you along, I liked the Cadillac better, and I will explain why in the paragraphs that follow. Read the rest of this entry »
RAUH-Welt Begriff (RWB) makes aftermarket body kits for Porsches. They have developed a bit of a cult fan base with the advent of the stance movement, and largely fit that emphasis on style for style sake. Many RWB Porsches are indeed highly modified monsters, but RWB only offers things relating to appearance; body kit, wheels, and a lowered suspension. Each RWB car is made unique for the owner, so between the kit itself as well as the other performance modifications fitted by the owner no RWB Porsche is exactly the same. The car you see here looked stunning, and called all sorts of attention to itself during the Concours at Lime Rock Park. I did however make the mistake of looking through the vents into the engine bay, only to find that underneath this car was a bone stock 993 Carrera. Shattered were my hopes of finding a monstrous 750whp, twin GT30R turbo setup, as I have seen on other 993s. The car did still look the absolute business though, and unless you really looked you couldn’t tell the car was all show and no go. Either way I was thrilled to have finally seen one of these demonic looking Porsches up close, it surely leaves quite the impression. Enjoy the gallery.
Volkswagen’s Jetta is one of the old reliable pals of the automotive world, a solid everyday package for everyday people. In America Jettas have always been seen as a slightly nicer, better built alternative to Japanese and American compact cars. Volkswagen means “people’s car” in German, and the Jetta continues to be an exemplary specimen of those ideals. The Jetta you see here is not just any Jetta though, this is the GLI, the hot version. In the VW lineup GLI is to Jetta as GTI is to Golf, and they are basically the same car other than the body style. I liked the GTI when I drove it against the Beetle Turbo last year, but I wanted to see how the package transferred to the larger Jetta platform. Read the rest of this entry »
While in Zurich it seemed as if the Swiss did not buy any non-RS Audi models, they were literally everywhere. I know many of our European viewers may find these cars a bit normal, but we don’t get these RS models in America so it was quite a thrill to see them for me. Hopefully Audi will wake up and realize they could sell double the number of RS models if they would just offer the full line of them on the US market. Either way it was cool to finally see the V10 RS6 up close, as well as the RS5, and B5 RS4; epic cars. Enjoy the pics.
I found this in the parking lot of Sahara Restaurant, on Easton Ave, the other day. Very cool car, really stands out.
When you drive a lot of modern cars it is cool to also try out some of the older cars that preceded them. Doing this allows you to appreciate where everything in the newer cars has come from over time. My friend Nick C is very into older BMWs, and he has a pretty unique 1979 E21 3 Series Alpina Clone. It has been a bit of a project for him, but once he got the car running right he agreed to let me take it out for a spin. Read the rest of this entry »