Category Archives: Performance Models

Let’s Talk Boost

I had a revelation today when I drove this Stage 1+ Audi RS3 and it put my sentiments on the Ferrari 488 I drove last weekend into perspective.

I’m not “anti-turbo” in the slightest. Boost has been in my life since I began driving. My first car was a 2004 Subaru STi, which I still have. I love boost!

But I think that’s actually the point here… if a car is turbocharged, then I want the full experience of boost, lag, surge, noises, etc. I want all of that, leave nothing out.

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Like a Fighter Jet on Wheels

I spent some time in this C7 Corvette Grand Sport yesterday. From my experiences so far, this is my ideal Corvette, right down to the Black over Red “Black Widow” spec. Manual transmission, of course.

Put simply, it’s like driving an F16 on public roads. The cabin feels much more like a cockpit than the average car’s interior, and it’s low and wide wedge shape looks nothing at all like a normal car. People know it’s a Vette, though, and it got me admiration from homeless guys and cops alike.

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Driving the Audi RS 3

I was able to spend a little time in this immaculate Stage 1+ Audi RS3 this week. Some details are still top secret, but what I can say is that I’m totally in love with this car.

I’ve driven hundreds of very cool and fun cars over the years and I’m struggling to think of a more complete package than this. Literally every aspect of the RS3 experience I’d categorize as “great,” not just “good.”

It’s got substantial power, the tune gets it into the 500bhp range, and it’s 5 cylinder engine is so unique. It feels so brilliantly turbocharged, with just enough spool time to let the anticipation build before all hell breaks loose. It also had AWE’s SwitchPath Exhaust on it, so it had a substantial 5 cylinder roar when I got on the gas and some lovely pops and burbles when I let off. The stock exhaust is okay, but the amount the AWE system opens it up both power and sound wise, it would be a must have for me.

In addition to the power and sound the RS3’s handling and driving dynamics are right on-point. A lot of cars out there are fast, but the real X-factor for me is the feeling of connection between me, the car, and the road. Through corners the RS3 felt telepathic with immediate steering and nice feel coming through from the road surface. It’s a proper rally-inspired back road attack machine.

The RS3’s S tronic gearbox is also crisp as can be. Part of me would still want a manual in a car like this, but it’d need to be a really great manual for it to be preferable to the S tronic. Normal shit just wouldn’t do.

I loved how special and hardcore the RS3 felt in Dynamic Mode, it’s a proper thrill ride experience. I also loved how it was able to relax in Comfort Mode and be a genuinely livable small sedan with a nice and comfortable interior. It never feels like a normal car, though. Its always a wolf, never a sheep, which is good.

This is one of the few cars I’ve driven where I have literally zero complaints. It may be a little small for some people, but that also allows it to drive and handle in a way that a bigger car just can’t match. For me, this is as close to the perfect single car as I’ve experienced.

– Nick

Nostalgia Time

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This is my favorite photo of my STI, capturing it at its peak. This car is so satisfying on so many levels and, being my first car, it has a ton of sentimental value for me.

I think I still see it for what it was during my high school and college years. It was a helluva car to have during my youth, and I literally got to live out that dream of being the young guy with the fast car. And quite fast it was in the era before most cars had turbos, say 2006-2012ish.

My car with light mods and tuning had around 400hp, and performed a little better than an Audi RS4 at the time (lighter, better handling, more torque, more usable power). Sure there were plenty of faster cars out there, but I was faster than most of the common stuff, 4.6 Mustangs, 4.2 S4s, 350/370Zs, GTOs, and E46 M3s were not fucking with me. Even lightly modded Evos would fall back on a top end pull. And the races I lost, I usually hung on to some respectable stuff. I was only 1-2 car lengths behind a CTS-V Coupe at 130mph. It was real world fast, and fast enough to scare people in some pretty serious cars, Ferrari 360s, Porsche 911s, etc.

It was a crazy car in a relatively much simpler time, back when horsepower figures were only just starting to jump. Now many cars are easily this fast, either stock or with light mods. The bar has now been raised, but for six years of my youth, I was dangerous on the streets. I’m lucky and thankful that I experienced that back when I was young and dumb enough to really enjoy it. And as a bonus, I managed not to hurt anything but a few feelings along the way (especially the Mustang guys, their tears were always the sweetest 😂). Call that a win!

-Nick

A Supercar with Massaging Seats, the BMW F90 M5

The BMW F90 M5 is like the Millennium Falcon. It’s big and can haul lots of cargo, it has lots of extra features and tech, and it’s also the fastest ship in the galaxy.

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Driving my first modern Jag

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The first modern Jag I ever drove was this mental XKR-S. One of just 300, it also remains one of the rarest cars I’ve driven.

I knew it would be fast with its 550hp supercharged V8, but at the time, I hadn’t expected it to be so hardcore in terms of ride and handling. This is very much on the sport end of the GT range. And the sound this thing made was unreal, a genuinely savage roar.

This was quite a car to experience back in 2011, and these are actually quite a deal today considering their rarity and performance. Just be ready to handle the obvious Jag issues. Also, as I’ve been posting all this stuff from the past, I’m starting to realize I had quite a burgundy thing going on.

-Nick

I was “that kid” in the STi in 2006

My first car, a 2004 Subaru WRX STi, which I still have 12 years later.

Yes, my dad bought it for me, and yes I was the stereotype kid with the STi in 2006. I did lots of really dumb things, insane 100+ speeds on roads definitely not meant for that. I embarrassed many Mustangs and even a few M3s and Porsches, and I somehow managed not to crash it along the way. I was always “smart” about being stupid, I guess.

I had the STI at the best time to have an STi, in high school 😂👍and it was fucking awesome. I enjoyed the hell out of it during my young and reckless years. It could’ve gotten me in a hell of a lot of trouble, both legally and physically, but it also proved good enough to get me out of any such trouble, either by way of slowing down or speeding up (if you catch my drift 😉🏎💨🚓).

I continue to hold onto it because I still really love it when it’s running right. It’s a nostalgic relic of my 19 year old self, and it brings me back every time I drive it.

-Nick

A Fall Drive in the STI

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I don’t have much to say, mostly just the photos I shot. But the STI was finally running well again, so I took it out for a Fall drive on Sunday. It was like spending time with an old friend after a long time apart.

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Podcast: Comparing Camaros, Classic vs Contemporary

Having recent seat time in both a ’69 Camaro SS 396 and two Gen6 Camaro SS 1LEs, I wanted to compare the Camaro experience between generations that are 50 years apart.

Review in the video, gallery below. Enjoy!

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A tiny package with so much sting, my second take on the Fiat 500 Abarth

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I’ve recently been spending some time behind the wheel of my buddy’s Fiat 500 Abarth and I find myself thinking about it a lot. I drove one briefly a few years back when they first came out and I was enamored with it, but spending more time with the Abarth only makes you want one at a deeper and deeper level. It has all of those intangible things that don’t immediately jump out on paper, and those things give it what I call “staying power.” The Abarth offers a depth of experience that will keep it interesting long after you sign on the dotted line.

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What I Learned Driving the Alfa Romeo Stelvio back-to-back with the Giulia

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Regular drivers in regular cars doing regular things in their regular lives. If you ask most people, they don’t aspire to be just regular, yet, overall, most of us wind up doing regular shit day in and day out. Life defaults to being excruciatingly routine if you let it. The “good enough” mindset sets in, and one day you wake up just another average Joe or Jill. It’s a fact of life. We all make sacrifices in the name of convenience and practicality because to do otherwise usually causes more struggle than necessary. That makes everything work smoothly, but it also totally dulls your life experience, and frankly, it’s depressing.

Compromise is the reality, though. The fact is, most genuinely remarkable things in life are exceedingly impractical and don’t really fit into the lives of most people. In our minds, we’d all love to be that stylish and interesting person who’s always going on adventures, seemingly without a care in the world… or a budget, for that matter. That idealistic perception can never really be fulfilled, but what we all can do is make our compromises intelligent. Okay, maybe you can’t really be the guy who daily drives a sexy classic Italian sports car. Even if you can afford one, if you have a family it doesn’t really work out that well, and that’s not even counting the car’s functional lack of reliability. The dream doesn’t have to die with a boring minivan or nameless sedan, though. There is a very real middle ground that can give you most of the experiences you’re yearning for while also satisfying your practical needs.

Car enthusiasts, like myself, are well aware of this, but the average consumer may not be as turned on to it. I’ve seen a lot of more casual car people go from driving something genuinely fun to something awful like a Minivan or a mundane SUV. It’s sad, and it’s not necessary. Meet Alfa Romeo, a company that makes sports cars of different sizes and shapes.

Continue reading What I Learned Driving the Alfa Romeo Stelvio back-to-back with the Giulia