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…
As everyone who reads this site knows, I drove an Aston Martin in Las Vegas back in early July. However, the first car I drove that day was this Mercedes SLS. I didn’t plan on driving it. I was slated to take the wheel of a Ferrari F430 Scuderia, but its transmission decided it hated the obscenely hot temperatures even more than I did. It was 115 degrees in the shade, but I felt ice-cold driving this Iridium Silver SLS. Having driven one already on the street and needing a car that could handle the Vegas summer scorch, I agreed to replace the temporarily broken F430 with this intriguing set of wheels. The experience was rather eye-opening.
Buick’s doing much better now than it was at the same time half a decade ago. They brought us the Regal, which is a rebadged Opel Insignia, and the Verano, a rebadged and re-engineered Chevrolet Cruze. Normally, this would make me want to tear my own hear out of my scalp, as GM’s track record with rebadged cars is just plain awful. The last time a European sedan was adapted for the USA market was in 1997 when Cadillac dumped the Catera on our shores, a reheated Opel Omega–with predictably lukewarm results. Buick’s last American compact, the Skylark, was an embarrassment to its name and was insulting to someone who wanted a premium small car. Luckily, I got the chance to sample Buick’s two best turbocharged options last month in the form of the Regal GS and Verano Turbo. Originally, I was going to keep the two separate, but after a long thought and two eye-opening drives, I’ve changed my mind, because these two cars should be looked at together. One of them is clearly better than the other–and one of the two doesn’t quite live up to its badge’s reputation.
Cadillac’s changed. What was once a lineup filled with “luxury” cars more numerous than the “talent” in the Jets’ current roster has now become a brand obsessed with success. I’m not complaining, because at this point in the brand’s history, it has to evolve or die (the latter of which Lincoln, its immortal rival, seems obsessed with at this point). The Seville and the Deville formed the staple products of Cadillac’s offerings for more than 30 years when in 2011, Cadillac finally stopped building both of them. No, don’t light a candle for them. I asked myself this question after taking the wheel: Did Cadillac build a stopgap car, or a car with staying power that can carry the Wreath and Crest into the next few years with pride? I took the wheel of this bright red Premium AWD to find out the answer.
I have been around cars for a long time now, and it has gotten to the point where I generally know what to expect when I get behind the wheel of something new. Many cars have some surprising features, but usually these surprises are more of a nice touch, a cherry on top of the ice cream sundae; if you will. Every so often though, I find something that completely throws my expectations out the window. The Chevy Siverado you see above belongs to my photographer friend, Dan Valanzola, who has spent countless hours turning it into something entirely unexpected. 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.
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.
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 »
The Ford Mustang is a true American icon. There isn’t much else to say about it. However, the Mustang has not always been a perfect car (nor will it ever be). Over the years, it has gone from an affordable sporty car, to a pathetic little economy car posing as a sports coupe, to a small, boxy, yet rather quick little ponycar, to a retro-styled sports coupe which has plenty going for it. The base model, however, has always been the one that most enthusiasts tend to laugh off as a rental car special and a fake sporty car. That all changed a few years ago when Ford put a new engine into the V6 model, something enthusiasts pined for. Read the rest of this entry »
Lately, Dodge has shown a bold initiative not seen in a few years. Since Fiat bought a piece of Chrysler, they’ve taken their time in bringing the best of what they have to America. But, the work has paid off. You are looking at a Citrus Peel 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye, and it’s by far the best compact I’ve driven. The Caliber is dead, and this is its replacement. Dodge took a laughing stock of a car off the market and replaced it with one that demands our attention on the street nearly as much as its spokesman (who I can’t stand), Tom Brady, demands on the gridiron. Read the rest of this entry »
GM has had a spotty history with smaller cars over the past 35 years or so. Its 1970s attempt, the Vega, was plagued with reliability issues stemming from an underdeveloped engine block and corrosion problems. The 1980s were no better, when the Citation (and its X-car brothers) became best remembered for massive recalls and a class-action lawsuit which ruined Chevy’s reputation for reliability (beyond its tarnished state). The Cavalier and Cobalt over the past years have been remembered as cheap transportation with little more than basic frills (although the Cobalt at least went fast with its SS turbo). However, the new Cruze, which has been on the market for a few years now, has quickly become a success, even outselling all of its competitors last month (and not for the first time). I’ve driven a few of them over the past 12 months and would like to share some thoughts. Read the rest of this entry »