It is no secret that cars have been getting bigger. In BMW terms, the current 3 series is the size of an old 5 series, and the current 5 series might as well be a 7 series (it’s on the same platform). Audis too have been getting larger, although not to the same staggering degree as BMWs. Many of us enthusiasts now long for the way cars used to be, wanting the compact size and similar packaging as models that are 10 or 20 years old. Audi’s new A3, which will be hitting US shores, seems like it might be exactly what we are yearning for.
Specifically I want to look at the Audi S3, the hot and spicy one that we all really want. Looking at the details, it seems very similar to the B5 Audi S4 of the early 2000s. A car that is well loved by enthusiasts despite some rather large flaws. On paper the B5 S4 looks like a great car, with a 250hp turbocharged V6, all wheel drive, a good suspension, all in the package of a typical sedan. However, these S4s have had some pretty serious reliability problems, including turbos that fail around 70k miles and quirky electronics. The B5 S4 is a great car if you have the money, and patience to deal with its issues, but I think we all wish it didn’t have those issues in the first place.
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 »
This one is fresh from earlier today. I was out and about in the area, and upon coming into Newtown I saw this Demonic looking black Porsche. As it turns out, it just so happened to be the mightiest 911 of all, the GT2 RS. I saw this car fly by me once before a few months ago, so I was thrilled to be able to get some quality pics this time. It was kind of funny to see a car like this out on a day with such a marginal weather; overcast, intermittent drizzle, and around 48 degrees F. This is a truly awesome car, and it certainly made my day. Enjoy the pics, this GT2 RS turns the badass factor up to 11 for sure.
The Hyundai Veloster brought a nice bit of flavor to the economy car market back in 2011. Its unique three-door design with funky styling set it apart from the cookie cutter options offered by other carmakers. However, the Veloster was all show and no go because underneath it was still just an economy car. For 2012 Hyundai brought out the Veloster Turbo in an effort to make the car’s go-go power match its wild appearance. The result is a very interesting car. One that competes in the marketplace well, and becomes extremely convincing once you consider all that it has to offer.
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 »
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.
There is a wonderful array of legitimately fun cars available for under $30k these days. Ford has had the Mustang available for for those who like high horsepower and rear wheel drive, but now they have added a different flavor to their pallet. Meet the Focus ST, a turbocharged hot hatch from the European market now hitting US shores for the first time. Over in Europe the Ford Focus has been a benchmark setter for some time now, acclaimed by everyone as a fantastic car. Here in America we have always had a different, much more mediocre version… until now. Knowing this, and having recently driven many of the ST’s competitors, I went to go see how it stacked up from behind the wheel. 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.
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 »
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 »
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 »