Tag Archives: Japanese Cars

Podcast 8: What Japanese Carmakers Seem to Miss

Check out Podcast 8!

-Nick

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Miata Meditation

Miata Meditation

I’ve owned my Miata Club Edition for two years now, and I’m still absolutely in love with it. That said, I have often thought back to why I didn’t get one of the faster, maybe more impressive cars I was considering at the time (Corvette, M3, Cayman, etc). I remember it was a feeling, a sense of calm rather than excitement or lust. It resonated so clearly with the personal journey I had been on that it seemed just right.

Moderation. Not abstinence, nor indulgence. That was one of the main philosophies of the Buddha, at least as I’ve come to understand. Many may find it odd that I apply Buddhist philosophy to my own pursuit of material pleasures, but for a car enthusiast it is a way of life. I’m not over here trying to be a monk, giving up all material things. I’m a real man with my share of hypocritical beliefs and practices, and I actually quite enjoy being afflicted with desire. Sure, it brings with it pain and anxiety, but it also makes life interesting. Like sitting on the tip of a pin, you feel very alive despite the side effects.

The key is to also be mindful, so you don’t take things too far and find yourself consumed to the very core with material interests. You have to keep these things in context with the experience you’re looking to have in life. I never want to be one of those people who can’t be happy no matter how far they go or how high they climb. What’s the point of all that if you’re going to die miserable anyway? Learning to embrace “what is” is just as important as focusing on “what could be.” Both are important to me, so I try and share my focus between each.

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

Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 AWD Review 3

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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Why I don’t think the Japanese “Get” the American Performance Market At All

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Various media outlets have been reporting headlines along the lines of “Subaru Adds More Power to the STI!!!” But in reality, it’s just 5hp which changes absolutely nothing. It does, however, raise a larger issue I’ve had with Japanese automakers seeming to lack a basic understanding of the American market’s constant need for improvements.

Honestly, I say Subaru can go screw themselves until they make some real and meaningful improvements to the STI. They’re over a decade late on a real power bump for this car. My 04 STI was a Porsche 911 killer when it came out, and now an STI will lose to a V6 Camry on a highway pull. Even though the STI hasn’t changed much at all, somehow it’s nowhere near the same caliber of car it once was.

I don’t think the Japanese really understand the idea of growth in the performance market because they’ve made the exact same mistake with many other models over the years. They always seem to make a great product to start, but then they leave it the same for 10-15 years and finally kill it because it’s not selling and they wonder why…

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The Adorable Honda Beat at the Lane Motor Museum

Honda Beat Lane Motor Museum 4

What if someone told you they were gonna pick you up in a bright red mid-engine convertible sports car with Italian styling by Pininfarina and an engine that screams past 8,000 rpm. You would expect it to be something very impressive, a V8 Ferrari 458? a V10 Lamborghini Huracan? a V12 Pagani Zonda?

… and then this pulls up, the minuscule 3 cylinder Honda Beat!

I don’t know about you, but I’d be just as excited. I would insist on driving, though, because that’s where the fun is at. A car this light with a revvy engine and total connection with the road, I promise it’s just as much fun to drive in the real world as any Ferrari.

The Honda Beat is one of the Kei sports cars of the early 1990s. It went up against the Autozam AZ1 and the Suzuki Cappuccino. I love this genre of sports cars!

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Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI Tommi Makinen Edition at the Lane Motor Museum

Lancer Evo VI Tommi Makinen Edition Lane Museum 1

Rally driver Tommi Makinen won the World Rally Championship four years in a row between 1996 and 1999. For 2001, Mitsubishi made a special Tommi Makinen Edition Evo to commemorate his victories.

The Evo VI was never sold in the US, so this is a very rare car to see stateside. The Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, TN has this and a bunch of other rare cars on display, many of which were also not sold here.

I do have a soft spot for these road-going rally specials. Enjoy!

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Infiniti Q70: Luxurious and Sporty with a touch of Amnesia

Infiniti Q70 13

I spent a weekend with this Infiniti Q70 while visiting my family in Minnesota. I decided to splurge on the rental because I knew the trip would have a lot of long drives in only a few short days. My Uncle George’s house on the lake is around 3 hours away from Minneapolis, so the drive actually takes longer than the flight from Philly. We were also planning to visit my Great Uncle Bill, who lives about an hour and a half away from my Uncle. So we were guaranteed at least 9 hours of continuous driving on big open roads during this trip, might as well have a car that would make it a pleasure!

I had originally booked a “Q50 or similar” but the Q70 is what they had available. It’s a car I’ve always managed to forget about, but I knew it would be nice for the drive. By the end of the trip, the Q70 had made me a big fan. It went from fairly anonymous in my mind to a practical favorite… and I had just recently driven the all-new BMW 540i.

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Miata: The Snow Review

Miata Club Ace Snow 13

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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