Category Archives: Performance Models

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.

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Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 AWD Review: Don’t call it a sports car

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Context is everything. We all make our judgments off of our own experiences prior to the present in an effort to navigate most-effectively through the world. I had been looking forward to getting behind the wheel of an Infiniti Q60 Red Sport for a while. Infiniti’s range-topping new coupe with more zest than its predecessor, largely thanks to its twin-turbocharged engine making a hefty 400hp. Yes, surely the Q60 Red Sport would be as good as I remember the Q50 Red Sport being, but in a more stylish package. There was a problem this time around, though, a problem I hadn’t had before I drove the Q50 Red Sport. Right before I drove this Q60 I drove an Alfa Romeo, and that set the context bar pretty damn high.

Had I not experienced the Alfa in such close proximity, I’d probably be writing something very similar to what I wrote about the Q50. Something along the lines of “Well done, Infiniti, you’ve upped the bar!” But my experience in the Alfa gave this drive so much more contrast. It highlighted all of the major areas where the Q60 is severely lacking as an enthusiast car.

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Miata: The Snow Review

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When it comes to sports cars there are so many fair weather fans, people who will question driving their car if there is even one cloud in the sky. I am definitely not one of them, and those people make me laugh. I once heard a man with a base Porsche Cayman brag about how his car had never seen rain, and I had to walk away so I wouldn’t crack up in his face.

The thing is, fair weather drivers are missing out on one of the most fun driving experiences there is. I’m talking about snow, yes, white, fluffy, salt-laden snow. It comes with some risks, but the rewards are truly special. At the end of the day, a sports car is all about having fun, so why not experience it to the absolute fullest?

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

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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.

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

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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.

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Hyundai Elantra Sport DCT Review: An Unknown Gem

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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.

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

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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…

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BMW X6 M Driven: The best and worst of BMW

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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…

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Tesla Take 2 with the Model S P90D

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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.

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