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.. 🙂
The 2019 Mazda MX-5 Gets A Substantial Power Boost, Higher Redline
When we drove the current-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata, it didn’t take long for us to fall for it, as it offers one of the purest driving experiences out there. In fact, we described the ND as “the most fun you can have for under $30K”. And that’s a statement I’ll stand by today.
If you’re looking for a car that will deliver maximum smiles per hour as you go flat out through the twisties, it honestly doesn’t get much better than this. Seriously, if I lived in an area with fun roads (and less snow), there’d be a Miata parked in my garage right now.
Still.. a little extra power would be nice, as the Miata only has 155 horsepower on tap, which is less than the Fiat 124 Spider, even though they’re essentially the same cars!
But that’s about to change. The 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata gets a substantial bump in power, with 181 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque, with a richer torque curve throughout the car’s entire rev range. And the redline has increased from 6,800 rpm to 7,500 rpm.
While an additional 26 HP might not sound like much, it’s all about the power-to-weight ratio. The Miata is a lightweight car in it’s own right, weighing in at 2,300 pounds and change, which is 1,000 less than most “regular” cars. Coupled with the better torque curve, it’s going to make a HUGE difference in the way the car drives. Zoom-Zoom!
Mazda says the new MX-5 is quicker, more responsive and aims to be more engaging to drive, adhering to Mazda’s unique Jinba Ittai — “horse and rider as one” — engineering philosophy.
Beyond the engine improvements, the 2019 MX-5 introduces an available brown canvas soft top, new black metallic 17-inch wheels, a newly telescoping steering wheel (30mm of travel), easier-to-open doors and revised door stops and revised cupholders and seat levers. There are also some additional safety features.
The 2019 Mazda MX-5 will be available in the U.S. this fall, with pricing, packaging and full specifications to be announced closer to on-sale timing.
Of course, the age old question.. Go with a new 2019 Miata, or get a left-over ’18 model for a big discount? Decisions, decisions..
The 2019 BMW 8 Series Is The Luxury Super Coupe We’ve Been Waiting For
When BMW unveiled the Concept 8 Series last year, it caused quite a stir for obvious reasons. After all, it had been nearly 20 years since the last 8 Series rolled off the production line back in 1999, and we had long given up on BMW ever bringing back the storied nameplate.
But was the Bavarian car company just teasing us with another sexy concept that wouldn’t see the light of day, as is so often the case?
Today, we got our answer, with the introduction of the all-new 2019 BMW 8 Series Coupe, a luxury sports coupe that is ready to take on the competition with outstanding performance, beautiful design and state of the art technology.
The directive for the all-new BMW 8 Series Coupe’s design was to provide a thrilling driving experience. Body, powertrain and suspension were honed to achieve the agility, precision and poise expected of a top-class luxury sports coupe.
Styling wise, the production model stays fairly true to the concept, exuding “a very modern form of sporting appeal beautifully blended with an air of exclusiveness and sensual allure.” The 8 Series is the first model to show off BMW’s new design language that is focusing on modernity and emotional engagement.
The car’s low-slung design, an elongated silhouette with a slim window pillars, a roofline with a distinctive “double-bubble” contouring, a long wheelbase and wide track are the defining elements of the all-new BMW 8 Series Coupe’s proportions.
The first variant to launch, the BMW M850i xDrive, is powered by a new twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 that puts out a healthy 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque, launching the car from 0-60 mph in just 3.6 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 155 mph. And it will serve up an enthralling soundtrack along the way.
As the name suggests, the BMW M850i is equipped with xDrive rear-biased intelligent all-wheel drive, and it’s mated to an eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission that has been updated with wider ratios and sportier gear shifts. Shift paddles on the steering wheel are included as standard for manual gear selection, while a Launch Control function allows for accelerating from a standing start with maximum available traction.
Being BMW’s flagship vehicle, the car will come loaded with luxury features and technology, more than there’s space for here to go on about. But rest assured, you’ll be rolling around in the lap of luxury, and the envy of all of your neighbors.
Pricing for the BMW 8 Series Coupe will be released closer to its launch date this Fall.
What do you guys think about the 2019 BMW 8 Series Coupe?
New 2019 Mustang Shelby GT350 Would Get Carroll’s Stamp Of Approval
When the 2018 Ford Mustang launched last Fall, there were a number of models for buyers to choose from (EcoBoost, GT, Performance Pack 1, Performance Pack 2, Bullitt). But one model that was noticeably absent from the list was the track-ready Shelby GT350.
Like many others, I figured that Ford Performance was focused on the upcoming 2020 Shelby GT500, and that the Shelby GT350 would ultimately get phased out. But Ford surprised us the other day when they unveiled a new 2019 Mustang Shelby GT350 at a media event at M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan.
As you can see from these photos, the Shelby GT350 doesn’t adopt the 2018 Mustang’s styling updates, continues on with the same exterior design as before. Nor does it receive any changes under the hood, sticking with the glorious 5.2-liter flat-plane-crank V8 that puts out 526HP at 8,250 rpm and 429 lb-ft. Because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
So what is new? Ford Performance engineers and designers incorporated the latest advances in tire, aerodynamics and chassis technology into the 2019 Mustang Shelby GT350.
Working exclusively with Michelin, the team also engineered new Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires with a Shelby GT350-specific tread pattern and different compound to deliver more grip for significantly improved acceleration and lateral acceleration, as well as braking. These tires are wrapped around new 19-inch aluminum wheels.
An all-new rear spoiler with optional Gurney flap and optimized grille closeout was designed and tuned with experience gained from wind tunnel development of the Ford Performance Mustang road course racing cars and upcoming Shelby GT500 model. Together, they deliver significant rear greater aerodynamic efficiency when equipped with the new optional Gurney flap on the rear spoiler, which will be available after launch.
Upgrades to Shelby GT350’s standard MagneRide active suspension complement the aero and tire enhancements with recalibrated springs and revised damping to take full advantage of the improvements.
Stopping power is provided by six-piston front and four-piston rear caliper Brembo brakes. For added control and improved driver feedback, Shelby GT350’s electric power-assist steering and three-mode electronic stability control settings feature enhancements taken from Ford Performance’s hundreds of hours of competitive track testing.
The result of all of these tweaks and adjustments? A more balanced, higher-performing car on the straightaways and especially in the corners.
“The new Shelby GT350 is our ultimate track Mustang. We’ve stuck to Carroll Shelby’s original formula for winning championships and made our Shelby GT350 even better with the latest in race-proven aerodynamics, tire and chassis technology,” said Hermann Salenbauch, global director for Ford Performance vehicle programs.
Honestly, I didn’t think the Shelby GT350 could get any better than it already was, but clearly I was wrong. The new model will be the benchmark for the competition, and I can’t wait to get some seat time with it.. hopefully on a race track!