Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Test Drive: 2013 Mini Cooper S

See how the Mini Cooper S performed against its competitors in our Hot Hatch Comparison.

MSRP: $24,000
Price as tested: $31,200 

I admit that I have never driven a Mini before in my life. The car has never really interested me that much because I have always viewed the Mini Cooper as a cutesy chick car. My female neighbor owns one, and my fiancée thinks they are adorable. Of course, my image of the car has been built on the base model Mini Cooper, and not the sporty S model. Seeing as how I was already in the neighborhood, I figured I would just drop in, test it, and see if it could change my perception of the Mini Cooper.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Editorial: Why I Ride

The Ninja 650R, my first motorcycle decked out for touring.
Living life on two-wheels is oft considered a perilous venture. More than a few close friends and relatives have questioned my decision to ride a motorcycle, but from an early age, I knew that this was something that I wanted to do. To have the opportunity to experience the world in such an up close and intimate manner, unadulterated by the filter of glass, steel, and plastic of a car. The freedom and exposure that make a motorcycle so dangerous, are also the very traits that make the experience appeal to me so much.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Test Drive: 2013 Subaru WRX 5-Door

See how the Subaru WRX performed against its competitors in our Hot Hatch Comparison.

MSRP: $25,795
Price as tested: $27,740
The 2013 Subaru WRX marks the final model year for this generation of the WRX. The car the WRX is based on, the Impreza, has already moved on into a new platform with a new look and new features. For 2013, the Subaru WRX has not changed much from the previous two years. Here, I look at a base model 2013 Subaru WRX in 5-door hatchback guise. The as tested price of this vehicle includes the fog lamp kit, STI short throw shifter kit, chrome exhaust finisher, and XM/Sirius satellite radio.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Video: Jaguar F-Type presents Desire

The pending release of the much hyped Jaguar F-Type roadster just got another boost with the release of the  short film Desire. Featuring Damian Lewis (star of the TV series Homeland) and Shannyn Sossamon, this quick peak at the new F-Type features not only the lovely new Jag, but more importantly, the soundtrack that this car makes. If the audio in the film is to be believed, this is going to be one wicked sounding car. I like Jags and am looking forward to this car hitting the market. Look out for a possible test-drive from East-West Brothers Garage in the future, but in the meantime, enjoy the film after the jump.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Test Drive: 2013 Fiat 500 Abarth

Price as tested: $23,200

Fiat has not sold a car in the United States in decades, but in the past couple of years, following its acquisition of an ownership stake in Chrysler, Fiat has introduced a brand new 500 to lead its charge back into the US market. Abarth, Fiat's in house tuning arm, got a hold of the 500 with the intention of turning the 500 into a rip snorting micro machine with go-kart like reflexes. Have they succeeded in building a car that will appeal to the American enthusiast?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Editorial: The myth of AWD

Living in New England, I have finally gotten a chance to see first hand some of the most absurd weather conditions one could imagine. This past winter, the Boston area saw more than its fair share of days with over a foot of snow on the ground. On these days, the majority of people put their daily drivers away and out come the AWD and 4WD vehicles. Snow on the ground often gets people thinking less than clearly and any form of precipitation often greatly reduces people's ability to drive. In these conditions, many people take comfort in the fact that they have AWD or 4WD, treating it as a safety net despite the terrible road conditions. But is this faith in mechanical wizardry misplaced? Has the myth surrounding AWD overruled common sense?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Test Ride: 2010 Triumph Street Triple

As I have mentioned before, I am a massive fan of Triumph's 3-cylinder motors. Of all of the bikes on the market at the moment, I have always felt that the Triumph triple is the one with the most character to it; that unique exhaust tone giving it a very soulful sound. So when the opportunity arises, I never pass up a chance to take one for a ride.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
After coming back from my test ride of the Sprint ST, I opted to jump at the chance to test the 2010 Street Triple. For those who know Triumphs, the Street Triple is the little brother to the Speed Triple. It offers a smaller displacement triple motor out of the Daytona 675, giving it a power delivery characteristic closer to a 600cc super sport, but also enhances maneuverability due to the lower weight. It does not deliver the visceral punch of the Speed Triple's 1050cc motor, but offers a more user friendly package for those who cannot, or do not, use the extra power and acceleration offered in the bigger bike.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Test Drive: 2012 Honda Civic Si Sedan

I may be a little late to the 2012 Honda Civic Si "hate parade," but I mention the 2012 Civic Si quite a number of times in our review of the 2013 Acura ILX, so it only seems fair to give the Civic Si Sedan a proper shakedown as well.

In late 2011, Honda introduced the 9th generation Civic for the 2012 model year. The new 9th generation Civic comes with a revised interior and exterior, and for the Si model, a new motor as well. The Si comes equipped with the K24Z7 2.4 liter, DOHC i-VTEC inline-4, making 201 hp and 170 lb./ft. For those of you that know your Honda engine codes, yes, this is the same motor that is equipped in Acura's all new for 2013 ILX 2.4 and is the base motor for the Acura TSX. Besides the electronic features that come standard on all Civics, other standard features for the Si include a 6 speed manual transmission (the only transmission choice), limited slip differential, 17 inch alloy wheels, performance all-season tires, cloth interior with Si exclusive red stitching and Si badges. The only available options for the Si are summer tires and a Honda Link navigation system.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Editorial: America needs more wagons and hatchbacks

I must admit, I am infatuated with wagons. One of my earliest car memories was of my father's mid-80's Chevy Caprice wagon, with the faux wood paneling running down the side. That massive boat of a car was the first car we had after moving to the US and, while it was stolen not too long into our ownership of it, I have fond memories of romping around in that cavernous back seat and luggage area, lost in the fantasy world concocted by my youthful imagination. While I realize that those childhood memories are likely distilled to be rather one-sided, I think that those are the kinds of memories I would like my children to have someday.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Test Drive: 2013 Mid-size Family Sedan Comparo

Over the course of the last few weeks, we have individually examined a number of mid-size family sedans. You can read the detailed individual reviews by clicking on the followings links:

2013 Ford Fusion SE
2013 Honda Accord Sport
2013 Kia Optima LX
2014 Mazda 6 Touring
2013 Nissan Altima S
2013 VW Passat SE

Each car had its strengths and weaknesses, so declaring a winner was fairly challenging, though a clear loser was evident from the start. Continue reading to see how the cars performed in the various categories.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Test Drive: 2013 Ford Fusion SE

Update: See how the Ford Fusion did in our 2013 Mid-Size Family Sedan Comparison

It is an Aston Martin doppelganger!
When Ford first introduced the new Fusion as a prototype, the uncanny resemblance to an Aston Martin immediately caught my eye. A family sedan with all the style and panache of the legendary British mark at a price that the middle-class family could actually afford sounded like a real winner to me. Sure it would not be able to deliver the jaw-dropping performance that a DBS or V8 Vantage would, but at least I could cruise around and make believe that I was James Bond. So when the Ford Fusion hit the showrooms, sporting the handsome good looks and available EcoBoost turbocharged motors, I knew I had to find the opportunity to take one for a spin.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Long Term Test: 2012 Acura TSX Special Edition post #1

Update: Click here to read post #2.

The day our beloved 1999 Mazda Miata MX-5 10th Anniversary Edition was stricken ill was a dark day for my wife and me. From the day they b
rought it home, that car had been the pride and joy of my wife's parents and she had set her sights on it becoming the first car that she would own, which did eventually happen in 2006. When we relocated from the suburbs into the city, we consolidated down into a single car, and the Miata was the car we kept. As you can imagine, there were many years of sentimental value attached to the little blue convertible.

So when it came time to find a replacement, we had a long list of requirements and a lot of compromises to make. We knew we needed something more practical than the Miata (a criteria which just about any car would satisfy) and be able to carry our friends and luggage and potentially a pet. That meant that something with 4 seats would be required, at a minimum. My wife, who is very environmentally minded, wanted a car that put up decent fuel economy numbers. I wanted a manual transmission, which narrowed the available options to a tiny handful of cars. Fun to drive, comfortable, relatively maintenance free, and moderately well equipped with modern necessities such as Bluetooth hands-free calling were all a given. Pricing needed to be reasonable as we were losing an income for a couple of years and knew we wanted to keep our expenses under control.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Test Drive: 2014 Mazda 6 Touring

Update: See how the Mazda 6 did in our 2013 Mid-Size Family Sedan Comparison.


Mazda has made it their credo, promising to offer a dose of the "zoom-zoom" spirit in every product they put out - from their sedans to their sports cars, to their SUVs. The MX-5 Miata and, now deprecated, RX-8 were the purest examples in their embodiment, but even the recently introduced CX-5 shows driving dynamics that would be at home in a small hot hatchback. With the introduction of a new 6 sedan, Mazda is hoping to further demonstrate that their "zoom-zoom" spirit is alive and well and adaptable to truly any platform that they choose. Combine that with the Skyactiv suite of technologies, which include fuel efficient drive trains, ultra-light yet super-strong body structures, and advanced energy recapture devices, Mazda is looking to further cement its position in the marketplace, taking an ever increasing share of the sales pie from the likes of its Japanese brethren at Honda, Nissan, and Toyota.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Test Drive: 2013 Volkswagen Passat SE 5MT

Update: See how the Volkswagen Passat did in our 2013 Mid-Size Family Sedan Comparison.

Volkswagen has always been the oddity in the mid-size segment. While the Passats have been good, they have never quite gotten the kind of accolades heaped on them the way that Honda's Accord does and have never experienced the kind of sales success that the Camry and Accord each see. Some of that may have to do with German cars generally having the reputation for having poor reliability and being expensive to repair. It could also have something to do with VW's of the past having designs that wer
e far from attractive, leaving most buyers to have written off purchasing the brand even though their most recent has have been handsome, if a bit unassuming.

Regardless of its commercial success, I have always generally liked VWs and the Passat, a car which my grandfather owned nearly 20 years ago. To see how it has evolved in some places, but not in others is interesting and might speak to some of why it continues to struggle to reach the kind of audience that the much more pedestrian Japanese sedans are able to. There is nothing particularly bad about the 2013 Passat SE that I tested, but then again there is nothing outstanding about the car either.