Category Archives: Cars We’ve Driven

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

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

Advertisements

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

Quick Spin: BMW G11 750i xDrive

BMW G11 750i 3This is not so much a car as it is a rolling spa. Sure, I had some time behind the wheel of this new BMW G11 750i, but what really stuck in my mind was the massage I got while riding around in the back seat. It was pouring rain, we were stuck in a traffic jam, and I wouldn’t have been anywhere else in the world if I could have. It’s an optional extra, but what’s an extra $7 grand for the pleasure of being able to have a heated, or cooled, massage everywhere you go? I could really go for one right now, as a matter of fact.

The new 750i may be a rolling spa, but it’s one that moves pretty good, too. BMW claims 445 hp and 480 ft/lbs of torque from its “Hot Vee” twin turbo V8, and that’s enough to propel your pampered ass from a snooze to a heart attack in just 4.3 seconds.

Really though, the G11 is the expected next step for the BMW 7 Series, nothing less, but nothing more either. It’s really nice, but they’ve all been nice over the years. It’s really fast, and handles well for a big limo, but again, same with every other 7 Series. The G11 is also full of lots of fancy, cutting edge technology, which is awesome today, but it will suck in ten years for the poor sap who buys this once-$120,000 luxo-barge for $13,988. Go try to use the nav on a late 90’s E38 7 Series, and you’ll see what I mean.

In fact, staggering depreciation is probably just as much of what makes a 7 Series a 7 Series as the car’s big comfort or big horsepower. Well-optioned, it’s not a bad value for what you get for $120,000 or so, but you can be damn sure you won’t be seeing much of that money back. Leasing may be a good idea here, people.

The G11 750i is among the nearly flawless lineup of current luxury cars. They’re all just really good, almost to a fault, if only for the fact that such uniform perfection lacks character. Objectively, this BMW 750i is good enough as a luxury cruiser to make me wonder why anyone would shell out triple the money for a Bentley or a Rolls. I mean, how much more comfortable could you possibly be?

But really it’s not about features, or the comfort, or any of that. It comes back to the car being good, really good, too good for its own good. The G11 is a lot like that guy at the party who just keeps talking, on and on, about his own accomplishments. He’s very impressive and all, but people just keep walking away, don’t they? That’s because endless perfection gets boring pretty quick, and it’s usually a lot more fun to hear people talk about their mistakes.

Nick Walker

MoM Score: BMW G11 750i xDrive
Primary Function: Luxury: 2
Secondary Functions: Performance(2) Practicality(2) MPG(2): 2
Visual Appeal: 1
Build Quality: 2
Value for Money: 1
Final Score: 8 /10

BMW G11 750i 2BMW G11 750i 5BMW G11 750i 1BMW G11 750i 6BMW G11 750i 7IMG_1190

Tesla Take 2 with the Model S P90D

Tesla Model S P90D 16

I got my first taste of the Tesla magic in 2015 when I drove a Model S P85D. It made one hell of a first impression, and I was totally blown away. I felt like I had just experienced the true next step for the automobile, capable of blistering acceleration, superior practicality and sublime comfort, all in a single package. Oh, and did I mention it was green, too? I was enamored with it then, but I was curious to see how the Tesla would fair the second time around, now that my initial fascination had worn off.

I was recently able to take a spin in the new, facelifted, Model S P90D. This drive was much better than the first one. It lasted much longer, the roads were much better, and I got to try out some of Tesla’s amazing new features (including Autopilot). I also gained more perspective on the Model S, what it is, and what it is not.

Continue reading Tesla Take 2 with the Model S P90D

Polaris Slingshot Review: You’ll Be the Talk of the Town

IMG_6306

Glued to the window. I mean this kid’s face must have literally become fused with the glass. There is something about the raw enthusiasm of a child that’s quite effective for judging certain things about a car. Let’s put it this way, we were stuck in traffic, surrounded by hundreds of other cars, but this kid’s attention was transfixed solely on mine, and for good reason. Just look at this thing, it’s the Polaris Slingshot, and it’s friggin’ awesome!

The kid would’ve never even bothered to notice if I were in any sort of normal car, whether it be a Toyota Camry, a BMW M5, or probably even a Porsche 911. There was something vastly entrancing to his young mind about my Polaris Slingshot, to the point where he was trying to push himself through the window to get a better look at it. You’d honestly need to be in a Lamborghini, or something that exotic, to draw the same kind of attention this outrageous reverse trike does.

I think, by all definitions, the Polaris Slingshot can be considered a genuine exotic car. It commands crazy amounts of attention, it’s exciting to drive, and it’s totally idiotic in most practical ways. What I found in my time driving the Slingshot, though, was just how exotic it really is in the most classic sense. You see, the exotic car experience consists of a grand mix of excitement and frustration. The great aspects are incredible, but they are balanced out by serious flaws, which are often infuriating, excruciating, or both at the same time.

The question is, are the Polaris Slingshot’s good aspects worth putting up with its bad aspects? Or, for that matter, is it even worth your time in a world full of other wonderful cars and bikes?

I’ve wanted to drive a Slingshot ever since I first saw one fly past me on the road, so I decided to rent one and find out during a recent vacation in Myrtle Beach, SC.

Continue reading Polaris Slingshot Review: You’ll Be the Talk of the Town