Podcast 5 is here. Give it a listen.
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.
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.
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.
Sometimes, a car shows up at a Concours that you wouldn’t expect to see. Citroen 2CVs don’t usually belong, unless they’re picture perfect. Most Malaise-Era cars aren’t usually welcome unless they’ve got a prancing horse, raging bull, or a trident adorning the hood. Well, say hello to the Wreath and Crest, packing a Seventies punch at Misselwood. A Fleetwood may lack the pizazz and the outright ostentatiousness of the Eldorado in 1976 but it was still the most expensive Caddy sedan on the showroom floor that year. This example has covered under 50 thousand miles and carries all of its original paint, bodywork, and interior to this day. I’ve been a fan of the ’76 for years, thanks in no small part to the fact that just a year later, GM turned the magnificent Cadillac into a shadow of its former self. Enjoy the photos of this big, mean, red machine. Continue reading 1976 Cadillac Fleetwood at the 2017 Misselwood Concours
Even as you leave Greenwich, you’re bound to see some nice cars on the way home. This time, I only had to walk a few feet from the car to glimpse one of the finest looking sedans of the 1960s. This little Alfa 1750 was taking up space, and time, in the parking deck, and showing off its best lines while I took a few pictures. It’s a shame that they don’t make cars like this anymore. Enjoy the photos.
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.
A few days ago Nick shared that lovely Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI. Those are fantastic cars. But I’m here to bring us straight back to the Stars and Stripes Forever, folks. Just steps away from the Evo was this blast from the past. This is a Checker Marathon ex-taxicab. Very few of these exist today, as most were ridden hard and put away wet. Large, cavernous, and about as complicated as a grilled T-bone steak, these Checkers were used as taxicabs in most cities across America for generations, until they disappeared from the road between 1990 and 2009. None are left in active service, and this particular sedan appears to have been loved and restored to a remarkably good standard.
Most people seemed to agree that the KIA Stinger GT looked enticing when it first broke cover. I also heard many people say they’d buy one and de-badge it so no one would know it’s a KIA. With its wonderful proportions, the Stinger GT looks even better in person than it does in photos, and the fact that it’s a KIA doesn’t bug me in the slightest. I’m someone who likes to give credit where credit is due, and this could well be a home run for KIA. Let them have their shine.
I’m very curious to see what pricepoint KIA will place the Stinger at. I think it’s obvious they need to go lower to compete with the likes of the BMW 4 Series, but how much lower before it’s too low to be seen as a genuine competitor?