Another great video from Drive: Chris Harris pits his supercharged Audi S4 against the mighty, V8 powered RS4. This illustrates the merits of forced induction well. For just a few hundred dollars, you can make your car quite a bit faster than stock. Sure that naturally aspirated responsiveness is great, but I’m happy to trade that for easy, and massive, performance gains.
There were many new cars revealed at this year’s New York International Auto Show. I was in attendance for the Preview Night last Thursday, where I had access to many new cars, both those revealed at the show and those from recent shows. Like every event I go to, I covered what caught my eye. As many of you may know, I don’t do news in the proper sense because I like to be a little more authentic. What follows are my impressions of the cars as I saw and experienced them at the show, and my opinions of them overall. Enjoy, and please let me know your thoughts on any of them in the comments.
When most people think of Jeep, they think of Wranglers plowing through mud and climbing over rocks. They don’t, however, think of a 470hp V8, 0-60 in 4.6 seconds, and surely not of a $65,000 price tag. Meet the 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT, a different sort of Jeep.
It caters more toward the realistic type of SUV buyer here in America, one who will probably never forge a stream in their life, but still wants a big car to go to the mall in. Understanding this sort of buyer will help you understand why the Cherokee SRT exists. The fact is, most buyers use SUVs in the exact same way they would use a car, and they wind up wanting the same things offered in cars. Just look at the BMW X6. It is both an SUV, as well as one of those coupe-sedan thingys, like the Mercedes CLS. Personally, I think the people who buy a vehicle like an X6 exude an especially repulsive level of vanity, but somehow BMW manages to sell enough X6s to make it worthwhile.
This sort of clientele purchasing SUVs has inevitably taken the emphasis off of off road ability, and put it on more traditional, car like, aspects. The result has been new SUVs that are basically just big cars, and it was only so long before someone said “Hey, can I have a fast one?”
It is no secret that cars have been getting bigger. In BMW terms, the current 3 series is the size of an old 5 series, and the current 5 series might as well be a 7 series (it’s on the same platform). Audis too have been getting larger, although not to the same staggering degree as BMWs. Many of us enthusiasts now long for the way cars used to be, wanting the compact size and similar packaging as models that are 10 or 20 years old. Audi’s new A3, which will be hitting US shores, seems like it might be exactly what we are yearning for.
Specifically I want to look at the Audi S3, the hot and spicy one that we all really want. Looking at the details, it seems very similar to the B5 Audi S4 of the early 2000s. A car that is well loved by enthusiasts despite some rather large flaws. On paper the B5 S4 looks like a great car, with a 250hp turbocharged V6, all wheel drive, a good suspension, all in the package of a typical sedan. However, these S4s have had some pretty serious reliability problems, including turbos that fail around 70k miles and quirky electronics. The B5 S4 is a great car if you have the money, and patience to deal with its issues, but I think we all wish it didn’t have those issues in the first place.
Another great car that the rest of the world gets to enjoy while America does not. The Ford Focus RS is the hottest hatch Ford makes, with a massive 300hp and 324ft/lbs of torque going to its front wheels. While I definitely think this car would have been much better if it had been all wheel drive, there is no denying that once the front wheels do stop spinning, it will take off like a bandit. Supposedly, Ford will be bringing the next Focus RS Stateside in 2015, but for now the RS is still a privilege the rest of the world gets to enjoy. I saw a few of them during my trip to Europe last year, but this is the only decent shot of one that I was able to get. I like the blue on this car a lot. It’s a tad more subdued than the RS’s famous bright green. Enjoy.
What is this, a bright blue…. Jaguar?! Everyone, meet the XFR-S, a different sort of Jag. One that throws away the high society manners in favor of a bottle of scotch, and a line of coke.
It was only around four months ago that Jaguar released the XFR-S at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show. However, during my recent trip to Amelia Island, they had them available for test drives. When I asked about video taping my drive the Jaguar representatives told me they couldn’t allow it because the press has not yet driven the XFR-S. After hearing this I made sure to keep my affiliation with this publication to myself, pretending just to be another young guy looking for a joy ride. I guess you could say that this is as much of a scoop as we have yet gotten, and my experience in the XFR-S, while fairly short, yielded some interesting impressions.
I was left feeling a little mediocre when I reviewed the standard Jaguar XFR a few months ago. It had many great qualities, but it sat in an awkward place in the market, priced a little below the BMW M5 and Mercedes E63, yet still far above the bargain Cadillac CTS-V. It was also a little sub par in terms of comparative power and performance.
The XFR-S seems to have changed things up, though. It now matches its competitors in outright performance, and seems to have turned everything that was good about the XFR up to eleven. Sure, at a base price of $99,000, its MSRP is a bit more than that of an M5 or E63, but it is also an extremely limited production vehicle, with a run that will amount to just 300 units total (100 for the US). The overall feeling I came away with was that by turning the XFR into the XFR-S, Jaguar has made a car that is truly worth spending your hard earned money on. In the past I had said that the R-S badge was a bit of a gimmick on the XKR-S, over the standard XKR, but it seems the story for the XF models is different. The XFR-S sits in the context of the super saloon segment, which is very different from where the XKs are placed in the grand touring segment. This change of context makes a big difference for the R-S badge.
For those of you unfamiliar with the GTD, it is quite literally a diesel version of the GTI. VW has recently been gauging potential demand for the car in the US, and has just announced, at the Geneva Motor Show, that the GTD will indeed make it to US shores.
You can see the tested specs in the video below, but in a nutshell the GTD will handle the same as a GTI, while trading a little straight line speed for around 30% better fuel economy. Going by EPA numbers for the GTI, that means MPG in the neighborhood of 31 city and 43 mpg highway, with an average around 37mpg… in theory at least. I don’t know about any of you, but I would definitely be willing to make that compromise, especially considering that the handling would still be phenomenal. The GTD isn’t exactly slow either, with 170hp and 258 ft/lbs of torque. It will lag a little from a GTI, but passing and merging will still be easy for it.
I do have a car purchase coming up in the next few months, and this GTD looks mighty appealing. Fun, economical, and supposedly pretty comfortable, what’s not to love? No word exactly on when it will hit showrooms, but I can say that I will probably wait until GTD pricing is announced before I make a decision. If VW is smart, they will price it to start around $22-23k in an effort to steal sales from Ford’s Fiesta ST, Chevy’s Sonic RS, and Hyundai’s Veloster Turbo. To anyone else who is starting to look around, it may be worth waiting out.
Motor Trend recently got their hands on a GTD, and they did well to show the car’s appeal.
Evo Magazine gets the inside scoop on the new Porsche 991 GT3 at the Geneva Motor Show ahead of the car’s official debut. They asked all the right questions, pertaining to Porsche’s decision to the new GT3 PDK only, and other aspects that will affect how the car drives. The answers to all of the questions were pretty convincing, and I now have some high hopes for the new GT3 to be a fantastic, new age driver’s car.
The Mercedes R-Class is not the last word in anything. It’s probably a good example of a blue-chip company laying an egg at the worst possible time. Mercedes-Benz is a full-line automaker in most of Europe but in America, it’s better known for luxury cars. Of course, the top brass at M-B didn’t quite know what to expect when the R-Class came out. Made in Alabama and Mexico, it wasn’t a normal Mercedes. But, once AMG saw it, they couldn’t resist doing what they do best: shoehorn a ridiculous engine into it, put it on wide tires and lowered suspension, and sell it like sliced bread. Only this time, sliced bread sold like New Coke. Continue reading Secondhand Saint: Mercedes R63 AMG→
Enjoying the snow here in the Northeastern US in my Subaru WRX STi. Went out drifting, and then did some celebratory donuts right in front of the house. Many performance cars have to stay in the garage during a blizzard, but rally cars are meant for this stuff. Snow drifting is surely one of my favorite things to do in this car. Hope everyone else is having fun today as well, wherever you are.
BMW has always held a special place in my list of carmakers. After the end of WWII, they were in tatters, like the other German car companies. But, in the 1960s and 1970s, their commitment to making cars that could make the driver grin endlessly (for a price) gave them a reputation of being a bit of an upper middle class car guy’s hero, in that for the price of a Cadillac or a Mercedes sedan, you could get a car that was capable of brightening your melancholy day with just a squeeze of the gas pedal and a turn of the wheel. But that was nearly 40 years ago, and based on what I’m seeing in the news (and what I’ve driven in the past year or two), I’m skeptical of their old motto. Continue reading BMW: The Ultimate Something Machine?→
Nissan’s R32 Skyline dominated touring car races in the late 80s and early 90s. This Calsonic Nismo R32 Skyline GT-R featured here was the most successful of them all, and helped create the GTR’s “Godzilla” image it has today. Enjoy.