It started with a subscription to Motor Trend when I was just a little kid.. My Mom thought it would be a good way to encourage me to read. It did, but it also solidified my love of cars from an early age. Add to that my parents non-traditional car choices (my Dad had a ’79 Mercury Capri RS Turbo, and my Mom had a ’70 Mercury Cougar and later an ’82 Toyota Celica GT), and I didn’t stand a chance!
So as you would expect, I’ve owned my far share of sports cars over the years. 🙂
For the past 10 years, I’ve been driving a Porsche Boxster. But the time finally came for me to get a practical car – One that had 4 doors, had actual cargo room, and could drive through the snowy winters that we get in the Northeast. But the car still needed to be fun!
I really wanted a 2011 Mustang GT. Ford just nailed it this time, and if I lived on the West Coast I’d be driving one right now. The Mini Cooper S was on my radar for quite some time, but the closest dealership is 45 minutes away. After an exhaustive search, I bought a 2011 Subaru WRX Sedan back in December, and couldn’t be happier!
Subaru redesigned the WRX for 2008, and it was a disaster. The car was generic looking, and underpowered to boot. It was Subaru’s attempt to appeal to the masses, but this just alienated their core group of enthusiasts. The auto mags had a field day trashing the new WRX. But to Subaru’s credit, they listened to the complaints, and fixed a lot of the issues the following year (more power, better suspension). Hey, it still wasn’t much to look at, but it was a huge step in the right direction. And in 2010, Subaru addressed the last issue, the styling:
Subaru of America, Inc. introduces the new 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX models, which now use a wide-body design like the brand’s iconic WRX STI® performance flagship model. The wider body designs give the 2011 WRX an aggressive road presence and also allow wider track dimensions.
An approximately 1.5-inch increase in front and rear track, firmer rear subframe bushings and wider 17-inch wheels and tires deliver improved grip in the 2011 WRX. The standard wheels are now 17 x 8-in. vs. 17 x 7-in. in the 2010 model, and tire size is now 235/45R17 vs. 225/45R17.
A quick test drive confirmed what the auto magazines have been saying all along, this car is the real deal! It looks great, handles well, and it’s fast as hell! (0-60 in 4.7s) SOLD!
Since I’ve had the WRX for 3 months now, I thought it’d be a good time to post my impressions of the car.
The exterior is subtle but aggressive, and that’s exactly what I was looking for. I don’t think the wide body look is that noticable on the darker colors, which is why I opted for the stunning Satin White Pearl color. Sure, it gets dirty in no time flat, but it’s one of the best white pearls I’ve ever seen. I haven’t owned a white car since 1994, but it’s worth the extra effort of keeping it clean. Unfortunately, Subaru is known for their crappy paint, and I picked up my first rock chip at 700 miles. 🙁
The interior of the car is a definite upgrade from previous WRXs, but it’s still very spartan and cheap compared to most cars on the market today. When you close the doors, it sounds tinny. When you flip up the sun visor, it clanks loudly against the metal roof. ($2 of foam insulation for the headliner would have fixed that) But the seats are fantastic, and the steering wheel controls are handy. I also got the Short Throw Shifter, and it’s great! The stereo has full Bluetooth phone/audio intregration, so I can stream tunes from my iPhone automatically. Who needs satellite radio? The OEM setup doesn’t have a ton of bass, but Subaru now offers an 11″ Kicker subwoofer option which is supposed to make a world of difference.
The power is really addictive! I just can’t keep my foot out of the throttle, and it’s killing my mileage (I’m averaging around 18mpg). I never thought I would want more power, but I’m starting to get the itch. An AccessPort or a professional tune is in my near future, which will boosts power from 265HP to over 300HP. All for less than $500!
I can’t really talk about the handling too much, as I put on a set of 16″ snow tires at only 300 miles. AWD + winter tires = AMAZING in the snow – The only real issue is that the ride height on the WRX is pretty low, so any substantial accumulation will stop you in your tracks. Don’t be stupid and try to plow through it anyway, there are TONS of people who have already cracked their bumpers. There’s no give in the bumper, so the first time you make contact with something hard, it breaks. I’ve been unbelievably careful so far, but I feel like I’m living on borrowed time. All it takes is one steep driveway or parking barrier to do me in. 🙁
And finally, the exhaust.. The quad tips look great, and the exhaust note is awesome! Some people complain it’s too quiet, while others complain it’s too loud. I think it’s just right. I wish the tailpipes were flush with the rear bumper, but there must have been some reason they decided to keep it further back. If you’re looking for a louder exhaust, you can get an SPT exhaust from Subaru, or go with any number of aftermarket options. All are pricey.
So that’s about it. Overall, a great car, and one that’ll get even better when I get the summer tires back on. I “plan” on keeping the car pretty stock, you know how that goes.. 🙂
2018 BMW 640i Gran Turismo Blurs The Line Between Coupe And Wagon
BMW seems determined to change the definitions for automotive segments. All of their even-numbered X vehicles, for example, are “sport activity vehicles”–not quite crossovers and not quite coupes. The new BMW 640i Gran Turismo is along that same vein, being not quite a four-door coupe and not quite a station wagon. It’s something in between that.
The BMW 640i GT is, regardless of what segment it fits within, a beautiful car. For a week, we drove the Gran Turismo and were glad to see that it wasn’t the odd mashup the old 5 Series GT had been. This new GT is based on the 6 Series sedan, so it’s a bit larger and more powerful.
The 2018 BMW 640i Gran Turismo is powered by the same 3.0-liter turbocharged six that is in the 640i Gran Coupe. That engine produces 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. Power runs to an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive is standard. The GT needs that power, as it’s fairly bulky, weighing in at over 4,200 pounds at the curb. It’s size and weight are balanced by a long wheelbase of 121 inches, though, and the engine produces its power early in the RPM band, making for quick acceleration.
From zero to 60 mph, the BMW 640i GT sprints to speed in about five seconds. That’s a pretty fair shake in anyone’s book. Handling in the 2018 640i Gran Turismo is also good, thanks to that long wheelbase and bulk, which translate to predictable glides through turns and easy power delivery thanks to AWD. There are better, faster options for fast driving and cornering, of course, but given its size and versatility, the GT does very well for itself.
Where this new BMW really shines is in everyday driving. The 640i GT is really comfortable, confident, and easy to live with. It gives enough feedback on the road to remain engaging, but doesn’t insist on spirited driving at all times or that the driver and passengers feel every road bump and crevice. It’s smooth and well-balanced. Add on the Dynamic Handling package and it gets even better, with more road-hugging (still sans the jarring) and steering appeal.
There’s a single trim level for the 2018 BMW 640i Gran Turismo, but it’s very well-equipped in its base $70,000 price point. It includes things like LED lighting, 19-inch wheels, keyless everything, rear air suspension for load-leveling and road absorption, a panoramic sunroof, auto-dimming mirrors, and infotainment. That tech is on a big 10.2-inch touchscreen with two USB ports and a wireless charging pad. Not to mention a 12-speaker stereo system. Forward collision warning, low-speed automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane departure warning are also standard.
In the upper crust, all-the-goodies model we drove, the price jumps to about $84,000, but adds the Dynamic Handling package, aluminum interior trim, power-adjustable rear seats, 360° parking sensors, automated park assist, seat massage, Harman Kardon/Bowers & Wilkins sound, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, and more.
The 2018 BMW 640i GT has a great feel on the road, is exceptionally comfortable inside, and has a bit more style and versatility than a standard sedan. It’s fastback look is unique and really cool, compared to the standard sedan or a larger hatchback. Cargo space stands at about 45 cubic feet with the rear seats up and about 60 cubes with them folded down.
Seating in the back is great for adults, if there aren’t more than two. Three across is a bit of a squeeze and the center seat doesn’t have much legroom either. Kids will be fine in the back of the BMW 640i GT.
The 2018 640i Gran Turismo is a great vehicle that’s a big step up from the 5 Series-based GT it replaces. It’s nicer to look at, more enjoyable to drive, and uniquely cool in its own right. We’ll take it.
The 2019 Acura NSX Receives Mild Facelift, Better Chassis, And Orange Paint
It has only been a few years since the Acura NSX was finally released, but not content to sit on their laurels, the company has introduced a handful of updates for the 2019 model to make the high-performance supercar even better than before!
Visually, you’ll be able to distinguish a 2019 Acura NSX model from it’s new body-color front grille (in place of the silver one) and high-gloss treatments for the front grille surround, front air intake mesh and rear bumper outlet mesh. High-gloss treatment is also applied to the available carbon fiber decklid spoiler and carbon fiber exterior package – including a front chin spoiler, side sill garnish and rear diffuser.
But that’s not all. The 2019 NSX is also available in a striking new color called Thermal Orange Pearl (shown above). Buyers can further accent the NSX with optional carbon ceramic metallic brakes with orange calipers. Standard brakes can now be fitted with red calipers.
Inside, the 2019 NSX can be optioned with an Indigo blue Semi-aniline leather and Alcantara theme. Buyers can also add a red color option for the semi-aniline (non-Alcantara) power sport seats, in addition to ebony. Additionally, a number of features (navigation, premium audio, front and rear proximity sensors, etc) are now standard options.
What we’re most excited about though is the improvements to the car’s performance, which build on an already impressive platform and turn it up to 11. While the powertrain remains the same (573 horsepower and 476 lb-ft of torque) engineers modified chassis components, tires and software tuning to make NSX even more responsive to the will of the driver, elevating performance driving in all circumstances, from daily driving to the circuit.
Chassis enhancements include larger front and rear stabilizer bars (increasing stiffness by 26 percent in front, 19 percent at the rear) and 21 percent stiffer rear toe link bushings. Rear hub rigidity has increased 6 percent. Software calibrations to the NSX’s Sport Hybrid SH-AWD power unit, active magnetorheological dampers, electric power steering and VSA settings capitalize on this new hardware, as well as the grippier tire setup.
The 2019 NSX rides on new Continental SportContact 6 tires, developed exclusively for the NSX. The new tires feature a revised tread pattern, construction and rubber compound for improved handling performance in all conditions—including wet weather driving. The track-focused Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R remains an optional dealer-installed tire.
So how much will the new model set you back? The 2019 NSX starts at $157,500 (an increase of $1,500 over the 2018 model) with $4,700 in previously optional content now standard. So you’re actually saving money on the 2019 model.
The 2019 BMW Z4 Roadster Makes It’s World Debut At Pebble Beach
Now one year later, BMW returns to Pebble Beach to unveil the all-new 2019 BMW Z4 M40i First Edition, the latest chapter in the history of BMW Z Roadsters. And while it doesn’t look quite as dramatic as the concept, the production Z4 retains the athletic proportions and new emotional design language that takes the classic roadster concept into the world of tomorrow.
The open-top two-seater was designed with sporting intentions, with a central sitting position for the driver, a low center of gravity, and perfectly balanced 50:50 weight distribution.
Vertically stacked headlights, the BMW kidney grille sporting a mesh design, a long clamshell hood stretching over the front wheels, large air breathes on the front wheel arches and the distinctive spoiler integrated into the rear lid all contribute towards the characteristic look of the new BMW Z4.
The BMW Z4 M40i First Edition offers a number of unique accoutrements over a “regular” Z4, including a Frozen Orange Metallic paint job, a textile soft top in anthracite with silver effect, 19-inch alloy wheels in a two-tone design, and black mirror caps. The 2019 Z4 First Edition also includes a head-up display, adaptive LED headlights, two high-resolution digital displays, and a Harman Kardon surround sound system.
Powering the Z4 M40i First Edition Roadster is an updated version of BMW’s turbocharged 3.0 liter inline 6-cylinder engine. While BMW hasn’t finalized output numbers just yet, we expect something around 380HP and 370lb-ft of torque, good for an (estimated) 0-60 time of under 4.4 seconds. A BMW M tuned sports suspension with electronically controlled dampers, M Sport braking system and an electronically controlled M Sport rear differential should make for one fun and exciting ride in the twisties.
The BMW Z4 M40i will arrive in dealerships in the second quarter of 2019, and full details on the Z4 will be announced on September 18, 2018.
What do you think of the 2019 BMW Z4 Roadster?
Photo credit: BMW