Category Archives: Cars We’ve Driven

This is our road test section. We use whatever means we can to get whatever cars we can.

$25K Used Car Shootout: Audi B8 S4 vs Lexus IS F

IMG_0354 IMG_0336

For $25K you have many great options for a high-performance daily driver. If you want a brand new car you can get a Honda Civic Si or a Volkswagen GTI, both great “hot hatches” with amazing handling and turbocharged power. Looking a couple years used, you can find a current-gen Subaru WRX, or variants of the Ford Mustang or Chevy Camaro. But what if you want something even more serious with more emphasis on luxury and even higher performance? For $25K, the cars will be a few years older, 8-10 years old in this case, but you are getting $60K worth of car for less than half the price.

I’m starting to look around in this general price range for my next step, and I have various options depending on what I decide to do with my current stable of cars. I decided to go have a drive in some of the cars I’ve been looking at to see what they’re really like from behind the wheel.

I went to a local dealer to check out two Audi B8 S4s, and low and behold, they had a Lexus IS F on the lot as well – it hadn’t been listed online yet. IS Fs are pretty rare, and this one was in my range, so I added it to my list to drive.

The S4 and IS F are a somewhat strange comparison, the Audi is AWD with a supercharged V6, and the Lexus is RWD with a 5.0L V8. When it comes to driving in bad weather, they don’t really do the same things. That said, both are midsize sedans that offer high performance with a lot of polish. Overall, they serve the same basic function for the same basic price, so, despite their vast differences in many areas, that means they compete.

Continue reading $25K Used Car Shootout: Audi B8 S4 vs Lexus IS F

Advertisements

Boba Fett takes Slave 0.5 out for a spin. Happy Halloween!

Miata Club Edition Boba Fett 4

Saturday was an unbelievably gorgeous day, and there was the promise of a torrential downpour on sunday. What better day to go for a drive?!

Being that it was also Halloweekend, I decided to wear my costume for the drive and have my buddy, Pat, shoot some photos. Boba Fett was going to take Slave 0.5 out for a nice spin, and confuse a lot of other motorists in the process!

For those of you wondering, yes, I could see just fine out of the zip-up hoodie.

We had a great drive, and I’m really happy with how the photos turned out. It’s always fun getting some action shots.

Happy Halloween, everyone! Stay safe and enjoy!

Continue reading Boba Fett takes Slave 0.5 out for a spin. Happy Halloween!

Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti AWD: Is an Italian Daily Driver a Good Idea?

Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti AWD 14

Italian cars are frustrating. Their good aspects are beyond wonderful, as in they will genuinely make your life worth living. The problem is, there’s always a catch, some significant issue (usually “issues”) that counter-balance the positives to such a massive degree that buying one is often a bad idea if you’re thinking rationally. Italian cars are made to give you an in-depth emotional experience, but like people, the great times come with the hardships. The Italians have always built cars this way, and it has always made their cars intriguing because they seem like so much more than cold machines. It makes them feel genuinely alive.

Because of their unpredictable nature, there’s always something daring about buying an Italian car. It’s not a sure bet, but the rewards are so immense when things are going well that it always seems it may be worth the risk. A test drive in an Alfa will make you ask yourself deep philosophical questions like, “Am I really living the sort of life I want?”

Playing it safe works, but are you really living, or do you just merely exist? There’s a big difference between the two, and that’s what Alfa Romeo is all about. It’s the sort of car that will give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and will have you lusting all day for your drive home.

I literally fell in love with the Alfa 4C Spider when I drove it because it spoke deeply to my inner desire. How can an object make you feel so fulfilled and so happy to be alive? It was insane.

The Alfa 4C is an impractical sports car, though. Meant to be a second car for the weekends, it’s Italian imperfections are more tolerable than they would be in an everyday sedan. That brings us to the Giulia Ti you see here. It is an everyday luxury sport sedan, here to take on the BMW 3 Series and the Audi A4. There’s surely less room for error in this market of everyday sedans.

That brings up my big question: Has Alfa kept the Italian magic alive in the Giulia sedan, and how much Italian “character” is tolerable to sedan buyers? Have they watered it down in an attempt to compete for the mass market?

I had heard good things about the car, but many people seem to let the car’s shortcomings overshadow its strengths. Knowing the risks of reliability and build quality, I wanted to know if the upsides were worth the the gamble on this Italian 4 door.

Continue reading Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti AWD: Is an Italian Daily Driver a Good Idea?

Hyundai Elantra Sport DCT Review: An Unknown Gem

Hyundai Elantra Sport 10

Many good things in life fly just under the radar. Like the other day when I went to lunch at work, and noticed a bright blue Hyundai Elantra parked out front. The color caught my eye, but I figured it was just another Elantra. Then I noticed the wheels, the slightly aggressive body styling, and the dual exhaust tips protruding from the diffuser-looking rear valance. I thought to myself, “Damn, Hyundai is really trying to make the Elantra look like a performance model.” I saw the word “Sport” displayed on the back, and the subtle “Turbo” badge on the front grill. That prompted me to get out my phone and Google the Elantra Sport over lunch. What I found out was very intriguing.

Continue reading Hyundai Elantra Sport DCT Review: An Unknown Gem

Acura NSX Review: Can an Acura be a “full” supercar?

Acura NSX Hybrid 12

Sometimes great things do fall right in your lap. The other day I went to work and was having a pretty normal day. As I went to leave for lunch, I noticed this striking silver Acura NSX parked in front of our building. I had no idea why it was there, but where I work, at AWE Tuning, we get cool cars stopping by all the time. I checked out the NSX with my coworkers, and spoke with the driver, who I found out worked for Acura corporate. I knew my boss was going to take the car for a spin, but as we talked, he told me I could sign a release and drive the car too. Say no more, I signed the papers. It was going to be a fun lunch break…

This was crazy, a supercar drive had fallen in my lap on a random Monday afternoon. I didn’t have my proper camera on me, and the roads near work aren’t the best for testing out handling, but hey, I figured I’d make the absolute most of it. I only had about 10 minutes in the NSX, so it was just a taste, but it gave me a solid impression of what Acura’s new supercar is all about.

Continue reading Acura NSX Review: Can an Acura be a “full” supercar?

The Lincoln Mark VII Chronicles, Part IV: Back In The Saddle Again (briefly)

Lincoln Mark VII Front 2

By December, the Mark VII was sitting in the garage, in from the cold but not forgotten. I got car parts for my birthday, including a new set of front air springs, a compressor, and rebuild kits for each front solenoid. While I successfully installed everything, the rear failed while fixing the front. Continue reading The Lincoln Mark VII Chronicles, Part IV: Back In The Saddle Again (briefly)

Lexus LC 500 Review: Lexus Has Finally Found Their Form

Lexus LC 500 Review 8

Luxury isn’t about needs, luxury is about wants, or rather, desires. Practical concerns come second to delivering a highly remarkable experience. A luxury object is an art form, and it must appeal deeply to human emotion, even at the expense of being practical or being objectively inane.

The upscale part of Toyota, Lexus has always been extremely focused on delivering on practical concerns. They have the best reputation for build quality in the entire industry, and their cars have always been solid. A Lexus has always been a nice and dependable way to get around, but they never really rose above being just a well-polished transportation appliance. They never evoked any sort of deep carnal desire, or had a sense of occasion that made you want to go out and drive just for the hell of it.

Since 2008, Lexus has been taking serious steps to spice up their brand and make themselves a player in the true luxury segment. It’s a marketplace where people want something genuinely special, not just a Camry fitted with leather and wood. Lexus needed to define their own unique experience, and boy have they made moves in the years since.

This is the new Lexus LC 500, and it just might be the best GT car you can buy for $100 grand.

Continue reading Lexus LC 500 Review: Lexus Has Finally Found Their Form

Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Review: My Next Daily Driver?

Honda Civic Hatchback Sport 1

I’m starting to consider options for replacing my Volkswagen CC as my practical daily driver, and I’ve had numerous people tell me to try out the new turbocharged Honda Civic.

Now before any of you scream “Civic Si” or “Civic Type R” at the screen, just know that I need an automatic here because my girlfriend, Gab, needs to be able to drive the car. I have my Miata and my STI when I want to shift my own gears. Also, the mighty Type R is vastly out of my budget for this move.

I’m not going too deep into financials, but I’m considering a lease that would be the same or less than what I currently pay on my CC. I also want a car that is realistically capable of touching 40 MPG when I’m cruising.

So, automatic, 40 MPG capable, and a relatively cheap monthly payment. Sounds like driving excitement may not really be a factor here, right? The options are certainly limited, but the new Civic Hatchback Sport quickly captured my interest when shopping around. I’d heard some great things about the new 1.5L turbocharged engine, and it seemed like Honda had made the Hatchback Sport model a junior Si, of sorts.

I figured if I was going to try out the new Civic, I might as well try the one most likely to catch my interest. The 1.5L Turbo is available on all the Civic models, but the Sport would have the tighter handling and the sport exhaust, which would make it more my kind of car.

So, after work, I went to go check it out, and see if the Civic Hatchback Sport was the “8/10ths Civic Si” I was hoping it would be.

Continue reading Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Review: My Next Daily Driver?

The Lincoln Mark VII Chronicles, Part III: One Battle Ends, and Another Begins

Lincoln Mark VII Front 2

By the beginning of September, my life was finally coming back together, ever-so-slowly. With a job offer in hand and numerous leads calling me nonstop, I was finally hitting my stride for the first time since April of 2016. However, while I was improving, the Mark VII was starting to falter. Continue reading The Lincoln Mark VII Chronicles, Part III: One Battle Ends, and Another Begins

Taking a spin in a BMW E86 Z4 M Coupe (it’s for sale!)

BMW Z4 M Coupe E86 1

A “special” car will keep your attention long after you’ve left it parked. It’s one thing to have a car you want to look back at as you walk away, but it’s a whole different level when you spend all day looking forward to your drive home. A car that has both the looks to make you turn around and the driving experience to keep you craving is a car that is truly remarkable, indeed.

“Special” is the single most important aspect of an enthusiast automobile, it’s what makes it much more than a mere transportation appliance. “Special” cars come in all shapes and sizes, and you can find one whether your budget is $10 grand or $10 million.

For a budget around $30 grand, an E86 BMW Z4 M Coupe is one of the most “special” sports cars you can buy. It has speed, style, and rarity. The Imola Red car you see here has just recently gone on the market for $33,500 with only 33,000 miles on the ticker.

I was offered a chance to take a spin in the car for this article, and how could I say no? I’ve been wanting to get behind the wheel of a Z4 M for quite some time now, and a more perfect example would be difficult to find. My impressions of the car are as follows…

Continue reading Taking a spin in a BMW E86 Z4 M Coupe (it’s for sale!)

BMW X6 M Driven: The best and worst of BMW

IMG_1084

The big teal thing you see here is a BMW X6 M, and it’s everything that’s right and everything that’s wrong with BMW sitting on the same four wheels. Think of it as a BMW M5 with AWD and more ground clearance. Being an X6, and not an X5, it’s also a “Coupe SUV,” which I still find very odd.

On a totally subjective level, I’m not a fan of the BMW X6. I’d even say it’s the flagship of everything I don’t like about the modern BMW brand. They’ve been over-segmenting like crazy, trying to carve the market into thinner and thinner slices, and the X6 is largely where it began.

It all started when Mercedes made the CLS, a beautiful sedan with the sleek design and style of a coupe. BMW saw how well it was received, and decided to try and do the same thing, but with a big SUV. The problem is SUVs aren’t sleek by nature, so the sloped roofline makes the X6 look bulbous and awkward from most angles. With such a large chunky profile, I just think the full roofline of the X5 looks a lot better. People seem to like the X6 because it’s different, but different isn’t always a good thing.

So, in my eyes, BMW was shooting for style, and they missed by a mile. Why, then, would anyone buy an X6 over an X5? Apparently I just don’t “get it.”

In an effort to try and understand the X6, I figured I’d take a spin in the ultimate BMW X6 M. It’s everything the X6 can be with an extra serving of horsepower and handling. If there were any way to make me come around to the BMW X6, driving this beast would surely be it.

First, come along for the ride…

Continue reading BMW X6 M Driven: The best and worst of BMW

A Farewell Ride in My Dad’s Porsche 996

Porsche 996 Carrera Arena Red 1

My parents are moving down to their place at the shore full time soon, and of course they’re taking their cars with them. They’re only going to be 2 hours away, but driving-wise the shore doesn’t hold a candle to the back roads of Bucks County, PA. The topography at the shore is all flat, the back roads barely curve at all, and the main roads are so crowded, and so heavily patrolled by cops, that there’s nowhere to really let the car run free. I may get to drive the 996 a few times when I visit, but it will never be like it was up here, with old our colonial roads that snake their way endlessly through the forest.

I had to take the Porsche for one more solid drive up here to say my goodbye, of sorts. So one night, after work, I spent 2 blissful hours in it out driving a greatest hits tour of my favorite roads.

Continue reading A Farewell Ride in My Dad’s Porsche 996