“We started with something very good, then made it very, very naughty.”
That’s the tagline for the 2013 MAZDASPEED3, and we can’t think of a more fitting statement. Determined to make give the Mazda3 a little more ZOOM-ZOOM, the geniuses at Mazda slapped on a turbocharger and some other go-fast parts, along with some aesthetic upgrades. The result is a Mazda3 on steroids!
The MAZDASPEED3 is a force to be reckoned with, putting out an impressive 263 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 280 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm. Those numbers are better than the latest Subaru WRX, but getting that power to the ground is another story.
The WRX is the only hot hatch to benefit from all-wheel drive, which makes a HUGE difference off the line. The MS3, Focus ST, and VW GTI are all front-wheel drive, and all the tech in the world can’t change that. Send that much power to the front wheels, and torque steer becomes a real problem.
The MAZDASPEED3 tries to tame the beast with a limited slip differential. Additionally, Mazda Advanced Torque Management System is used to reduce torque steer by reducing power in 1st through 3rd gears. But despite Mazda’s best efforts, there’s still plenty of torque steer present, so you’ll want to keep both hands firmly gripping the wheel, or the car will try changing lanes on you. Especially in lower gears, where the car seems to have a mind of its own.
The MAZDASPEED3 does the 0-60 in around 5.8 seconds, with the quarter mile coming in at 14.3 seconds at 100mph. The WRX shaves about a second off of both times, thanks to it’s all-wheel drive.
So why buy the MAZDASPEED3 over the WRX then? Step inside the cabin and you’ll understand.
The MAZDASPEED3’s interior is a HUGE step up from the WRX. The MS3 has everything you could possibly want, and then some. Especially if you opt for the $2485 Tech Package. We’re talking Bluetooth audio, blind spot monitoring, a 5.8″ color touchscreen with TomTom-based navigation, HD radio, keyless entry and push button start, rain-sensing wipers, bi-xenon headlights, and more.
The 10-speaker 265 watt Bose Centerpoint sound system is phenomenal, delivering amazing clarity and bass alike. This was definitely not something I expected from a car in this price bracket. But given the demographic of the average MS3 owner, I’d say it was a sound investment.
Look between the tachometer and speedometer and you’ll find a boost gauge. It’s simple yet effective, and it comes standard in the MAZDASPEED3. But on the flip side, it’s impossible to see when you’re approaching the redline, as the whole tach cluster surround is red!
When it comes to handling, the MAZDASPEED3 is in a league of it’s own. 4-wheel independent MacPherson strut front and E-type multilink rear suspension give the MAZDASPEED3 it’s agile, precise handling. Front and rear stabilizer bars help keep the vehicle level in tight turns, while large 12.6-inch vented front rotors help dissipate heat faster for better control when braking. This is a car built for the twisties, no doubt about it!
Nicely bolstered seats keep you firmly in place, yet don’t hinder your ability to get in and out (like the Recaros in the Focus ST and Mitsubishi Evolution do).
Overall, we quite enjoyed our week with the MAZDASPEED3. It’s a great looking car that offers a great total package. If you’re in the market for a hot hatch, definitely check out the MS3!
Base Price: $24,200
As-Tested Price: $27,955 (full vehicle pricing)
Review: 2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited 2.0T
In general, the midsize sedan world is about as sexy as a Billy Bass with Alexa’s voice. Where supercars with curvy looks get all the credit for automotive sexiness, though, midsize sedans actually do the work of being realistic. The good news is that being pragmatic and going for the 2018 Hyundai Sonata doesn’t mean you have to settle for frumpiness, as this is a really sleek-looking sedan.
For the 2018 model year, Hyundai didn’t do much to change the already well-done Sonata. A few tweaks to the interior design, some added suave to the exterior, and a lot of extra safety features make up most of the changes for this model year. The 2018 Sonata is otherwise the top-shelf sedan it’s been for some time.
From the outside, curb appeal is eyebrow-lifting with the 2018 Hyundai Sonata. The signature Hyundai diamond-shaped grille is flanked by a curved, beautifully sculpted hood and long, narrow LED headlights. Tapered fenders and a sporty lower intake and aero baffle are set off by large intake/fog lamp bezels. The bodywork on the Sonata features a strong upper beltline groove and edge, a well-defined and curved running board cut below, and an aggressively sporty roofline and fastback rear end. Noticeably on this new Sonata, the deck lid has an integrated spoiler replacing the add-on aero from before.
The rear wheels of the 2018 Hyundai Sonata are pushed to the corners’ edge while the front wheels feature some overhang ahead that promises smooth handling. Ground clearance is a sporty straight line that matches the beltline above.
This is a great look for the 2018 Sonata and it’s really set apart in the crowded midsize market. Once inside the Sonata, we found, the exterior’s beauty continues with intelligent and well-done interior design.
A new three-spoke steering wheel is fitted to the Sonata to emphasize a driver-centric feel for the cabin. The dashboard and center console have been reworked to make them less bulky and more modern. Seating is very comfortable with a lot of creature comforts available to add to that. The rear bench can seat three across and has excellent outboard positions with plenty of head and legroom despite the sloped roofline and smaller appearance of the rear doors.
Many of the additions to the 2018 Hyundai Sonata are in the technologies found behind the beautiful design work. Updated suspension and handling mean better ride quality and more engagement at the wheel. Technologies now standard in the Sonata include advanced options like blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane change assist.
The Sonata has a host of trim level options (seven in all). Three four-cylinder engines can be chosen from, each with either a six-, seven-, or eight-speed automatic transmission on offer. That’s a lot to choose from, sure, but it means that the Sonata can be tailored to meet needs without sacrificing looks and comfort.
The base model is the SE, followed by the SEL, the Sport, and the Limited. These four models are powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that outputs 184 horsepower to a six-speed automatic transmission. A much more interesting turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder (245 hp) and an eight-speed automatic transmission are found on the Sport 2.0T and Limited 2.0T trims. Finally, the Eco trim has its own 1.6-liter turbocharged four that outputs 178 horses into a dual-clutch, seven-speed automatic.
Prices vary based on which trim level you choose, of course, but the base model’s price tag is lower than all but one of its competitors in the segment, and the Sonata comes with more standard equipment than almost all of the others. The Eco model is only $600 more than that, upgrading just the powertrain to improve fuel economy.
We drove the Limited 2.0T trim and would highly recommend the turbocharged two liter for its peppy drive quality, fast responses to the throttle, and smooth-shifting transmission. This combination brings a whole ‘nother level of sexiness to the 2018 Sonata and is well worth the extra money spent.
It is possible to have everything in one package and the 2018 Hyundai Sonata certainly does a good job of offering just about the whole shebang in one car.
The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Is The Most Luxurious SUV You’ve Ever Seen
After years of anticipation, Rolls-Royce finally took the wraps off its ultra-luxury SUV today in London, revealing to the world the Rolls-Royce Cullinan in all of its glory.
Now as you might imagine, the notion of a Rolls-Royce SUV caused quite a stir among purists, who believed that the world’s leading super-luxury brand should stick with cars. But according to Rolls-Royce, their customers were asking for a car that would allow them to “go everywhere in luxury, effortlessly and without compromise, conquering the most challenging terrain to enjoy life’s most enriching experiences, wherever they may be.”
With the super-luxury lifestyle evolving, so did Rolls-Royce, leading to the development of a vehicle that offers uncompromised luxury wherever they dare to venture. Cullinan is that car.
The Rolls-Royce Cullinan, named for a diamond that’s part of the British crown jewels, follows in the footsteps of the Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus, offering up an ultra-luxe SUV that can satisfy the adventurous urges of their clients.
Under the hood, there’s a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 engine that delivers 563 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque to an all-new, all-wheel drive, all-wheel steer system. This engine has been reworked to make the Cullinan comfortable even while it’s off-roading.
A “Magic Carpet Ride” air suspension system keeps things civilized in the cabin when you’re off the beaten path, because you wouldn’t want a passenger to spill their glass of champagne.
Naturally, being a Rolls-Royce, the interior is bespoke and fit for a king, with only the finest leathers and appointments. But perhaps the most interesting feature is the pair of jump seats that come out of the trunk, presumably so you can sit while falconing in the desert.
The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan is expected to go on sale late this year, with a starting price of around $325,000. Of course, one you start adding bespoke features and customization options, that price could go north of half a million in a hurry.
What do you think of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan?
2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Gets A New Dual-Snorkel Hood
While the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon turned out to only be a one-year affair, the less powerful Hellcat model isn’t going anywhere just yet, with Dodge releasing a couple of teaser photos showing off the 2019 Challenger SRT Hellcat’s new dual-snorkel hood, which “pays homage to the distinctive Mopar design themes from some of its most famous muscle cars.”
The Challenger Hellcat has always had a mean look about it, but the new fully functional hood harkens back to the 1960s and ’70s, with a modern interpretation that looks even more sinister and provides maximum air intake to the supercharged powerplant. If you’re driving along and see this reflection in your rear-view mirror, you’re going to want to get out of the way!
Dodge’s press release was sparse on details, but the 2019 Challenger SRT Hellcat is rumored to have an optional Drag Pack, which would increase horsepower from 707 to 725HP. The Drag Pack is also rumored to get some other goodies from the SRT Demon, including Nitto tires, a torque reserve function, and a TransBrake, which should really pay off at the drag strip.
The teaser photos above show fender flares, too, but it’s unclear if the Hellcat Widebody will continue on as a separate model, or if the widebody option will become standard. I’m hoping it’s the latter, as long as it doesn’t result in a huge increase in price.
Stay tuned, as we’ll have more details on the 2019 Hellcat this summer..