Tag Archives: R-rated

2014 Scion tC

Scion’s tC edges out some competitors with style, quickness … a fun drive

I know the street racers out there, and many of my media colleagues, will disagree, but I like the Scion tC sports coupe better than Scion’s base FR-S, for a couple reasons.scion

I think its styling is edgier and more fun, and despite it being a front-drive coupe compared with the rear-drive FR-S, it handles extremely well. Plus, with its easy shifting 6-speed manual and more than sufficient 2.5-liter VVT-I 4-cylinder engine, it’s quick and fun to drive.

Then there’s the base tC’s starting price of just $19,200, with a $795 delivery fee. That’s affordable, and my bright “absolutely red” test car managed 27 mpg in about 60% highway driving. Quite respectable! The EPA rates this t 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.

The tC is bare bones fun without a totally bare bones feel. It’s great for first-time buyers needing value and valuing style and fun behind the wheel. The coupe doesn’t feel cheap and looks spectacular. For 2014 the nose is restyled with a wide-mouth grille, more attractive lightning-bolt-shaped headlights with LED running lights and I like its flat roofline that gives it a distinctive profile compared with the plethora of round roof sports coupes.
You already know some of what I like, but the heart of my appreciation for the coupe starts with its performance.

Slip into the well-shaped sports seats and the car delivers a straightforward no nonsense dash, albeit a blah gray plastic trim that looks a little too value minded. But turn the key, yes it still has a key, and the test car fired up with a throaty roar that would make most drift car pilots envious. This is a big can that really stirs up the 4-cylinder’s exhaust tone. All that is due to a TRD (Toyota Racing Development) performance exhaust that costs $699 extra. You’ll love the sound, so if you can spare the cash, go for it. Continue reading 2014 Scion tC

Advertisements

2014 BMW 428i xDrive

BMW’s new 428i coupe a really super car

How great is the new BMW 4 Series Coupe? My notes showed no, nadda, zero negatives.bmw

I list price by default, because at $50 grand, more than a few of us won’t be able to afford it, and that’s a shame. Because this may be the best all-round performing car I’ve ever driven, no matter the price. The 4 Series (formerly the 3 Series, but that’s now reserved only for sedans), is a perfect blend of power, handling, ride, comfort and looks.

Call it a home run, a royal flush, a perfect 10, or whatever you will.

What surprised me was the ride. I’ve often enjoyed driving BMWs, but rarely have I felt comfortable in them or enjoyed the ride. The 4 Series changes all that. Its well-controlled ride is a combination of a superbly designed suspension mated with BMW’s Driving Dynamics Control system that adjusts the chassis and modulates the engine’s power curve too.

So if you set the DDC on Eco, you get lowered power and a somewhat more pedestrian chassis feel. Move to Comfort and you’ve dialed in ride perfection for our pathetic highways and city streets. One road near my Northwest side church is full of potholes and pavement gaps, creases and crumbling pavement. It regularly puts my test cars’ suspensions to the ultimate test. I barely noticed the craters this week. I was amazed.

The DDC also has Sport and Sport + settings that noticeably bump the torque and firm the ride and steering feel. The Sport + setting is best used on a race course, but the Sport notch kicks the car’s performance up a few serious notches. Continue reading 2014 BMW 428i xDrive

2015 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E

Volvo nails the sports wagon with its new V60 Volvo2

First, there aren’t many true wagons anymore. Second, Volvo absolutely nails the V60, if you want your wagon to feel like a sports sedan.

I could have sworn I was in an Audi or Mercedes and barely noticed this was a wagon thanks to this Volvo’s generous power and nimble handling abilities. My gorgeous light “power” metallic blue V60 T5 Drive-E was a rocket, but one that would chop off corners and stick to the road like it was designed mostly for a spin around Road America.

The V60, which is an early release 2015 model, features a 2.0-liter direct injected turbocharged I4 engine that creates 240 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque. You touch the gas pedal and it jumps to life, one of the livelier power plants I’ve driven lately.

The V60 is one sleek looking wagon!
The V60 is one sleek looking wagon!

The front-drive wagon has good grip too, thanks to 19-inch R-rated low-pro Pirelli tires. Pushing the car hard into high-speed corners it hunkers down and sticks like a racer. The down side is that the ride is overly firm, which could be a drawback to some families. However, 17-inch tires are standard and without the car’s Sport Package ($1,500) that includes fancy wheels, a sport-tuned chassis, plus paddle shifters on the steering wheel and overly tight sport seats, the ride might feel just fine.

Shifts from the 8-speed Geartronic automatic are fairly seamless and feature Start-Stop technology that shuts the car’s engine off at stoplights or any time it sits motionless for a second or so. You’ll notice it at first, but this Volvo system offers a less abrupt shutdown than the pricier Jaguar XJL I drove earlier this year. These type of systems are already being used on hybrid cars. Continue reading 2015 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E

2014 Lexus IS350 AWD

Who makes the best compact sport sedan? Well, BMW has owned that segment for years, but it would be hard to argue against Lexus now making the best looking sport sedan with its new IS series.lexus red

Lexus created the IS to be a BMW 3 Series (now renamed the 4 Series) fighter, but Lexus is better at creating a luxury feel than BMW. The difference is BMW always leans toward total performance and Lexus leans more toward luxury in any of its makes.

Ah, but the tested bright metallic red (Matador Red) IS350 AWD has plenty of power to go with its outward styling pizzazz. Lexus pops a 3.5-liter V6 with variable valve timing under its well sculpted hood and that throbbing engine pumps out 306 horsepower. Boom! It’ll kick you in the seat of the pants and with paddle shifters on the steering wheel you can control your own seat kicking!

There’s a seamless shifting 6-speed automatic that you can control manually with those paddle shifters, but a key here is the svelte nature of the IS350. The sport sedan weighs 3,737 lbs., but rides on a 110.2-inch wheelbase. So while it feels nimble, it’s long enough to provide a mostly fine, yet sporty ride.

lexus red3Sure, take it on our crumbling cement streets or over railroad tracks and that stiff sport suspension will give you a little shake. But that’s the nature of the beast. Lexus puts a double wishbone front suspension on the IS and a multi-link system in back.

Handling? Precise, is the key word, along with fluid. The car steers easily and smoothly, but you can snap off corners or apexes of turns crisply and the car stays completely flat as you power through a sharp turn. A BWM gives you that same handlingl, but usually with heavier steering feedback. Whichever you like is certainly a matter of personal preference. Continue reading 2014 Lexus IS350 AWD