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Mercedes-Benz E350 Wagon: Long Live the Longroof!

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The wagon… It’s fallen out of favor over the course of the last few decades thanks to the rise in popularity of sport and crossover utility vehicles. That’s a shame, because the wagon is the TRUE sport utility vehicle in the market.

Case in point is this 2015 Mercedes-Benz E350 wagon. It’s powered by a 302-horsepower V8 engine, has seating for up to seven people, or it can be used to haul a whole lot of stuff. This longroof drives in a manner that’s far more enjoyable than any SUV or CUV counterpart, and it looks better as well.

Only a handful of automakers are still cranking out wagons… which means only a handful of automakers still get it. Long live the longroof!

[Disclaimer: Mercedes-Benz tossed me the keys to this wagon for a week, and included a tank of gas. I actually got oddly ill while shooting the car, which wasn’t the fault of the Benz. Can you tell I feel like crap during the video? I did love the car though.]

First Drive: 2015 Nissan Murano

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Designers are an optimistic bunch. They are asked to create a vision that is then whittled down, distilled, and changed. What starts as a concept, moves to a drawing, then clay, and finally scale models before it is adjusted to fit the needs of marketing, engineering, and those sitting at the top of the automakers food chain. Occasionally, a designer gets to see his or her work stay a bit more true to an original concept, but that’s rare these days.

Today is a rare day, because this is the 2015 Nissan Murano and it is a mixture of everything Senior Designer Ken Lee envisioned when he set out to craft the brands latest flagship crossover. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is up for debate…

… Continue Reading

Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Roadster: 90% Awesome

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The Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Roadster is a case of old meets… well, old quite frankly. Is that a bad thing though? The answer is both yes and no. Stylistically, the Vantage is one of the great lookers out on the road. It’s also packing a wonderfully shouty 6.0-liter V12 engine that cracks off tons of power.

It doesn’t crack off clean shifts though, and that’s a bit of a problem…

[Disclaimer: Aston Martin loaned me the keys for a long weekend. The automaker included a tank of gas. I turned that fuel into glorious noise.]

Recollective Review: 2014 Skoda Rapid Sportback 1.2TSi SE

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I drove quite a variety of cars this year. During my drive home after trying a car for the first time I usually think of a number of salient points which I can mention in writing. By the time I’ve reached my house the review has pretty well formed itself in my mind, especially if it’s for something particularly interesting like the VW Golf R or a 1981 C3 Vette.

So, why is it that I tried the new Skoda Rapid 1.2 TSI Sportback five months ago and am only now getting around to a review? Well, the honest answer is that I’d totally forgotten I ever drove it.

But, hey maybe that’s not such a bad thing. … Continue Reading

Beaterland in Deutschland – Turning 30 in a BMW E30

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As an individual born in late November, 1984, I turned 30 last week. Fanfares, accolades, confetti, all of them successfully softened the blow of reaching my fourth decade. It even gets quite cold and dark here in Finland around this time, so the only hasty choice I could do was to turn back the advancement of autumn just a touch, and book tickets to Germany, as it’s just a touch warmer there. As it happens, they also have legendary racetracks and cheap(er) cars there, along with seriously cheap beer, so it didn’t take a long time for me to jump on the Boeing and make my way to Düsseldorf.

To look at cars, one needs a car. This was the bottom line for my friend Joe, who picked me up in the titular BMW; he’s planning to buy a cheap, frugal runabout or a project Datsun Z or something in between. It’s not clear yet what he’ll be getting, but the actual going-to-look-at-cars will happen in this slightly patinated 1988 BMW 318i saloon. It was loaned to him by the excellent fellow who bought the pea soup coloured Zastava, and as he had also recently bought a gold Subaru wagon the BMW was free to be lent on.

So, there I was, luggage dumped into the steel blue BMW’s trunk, the top of my head touching the headliner of the sunroof-equipped car. This was to be a pretty decent weekend.

… Continue Reading

2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R: An enthusiast becomes a family man

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Getting older means making changes in your life. You marry the person you love, you start a family, and you have to make changes. One of those changes might mean selling your beloved car for something a bit more practical.

There are a handful of automakers that understand that this doesn’t have to mean saying good-bye to enjoyable driving dynamics. Subaru is one such automaker, and the all-new 2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R is proof positive that the brand adheres to this line of thinking.

You’re not getting an adult WRX STI, of course… but you are getting something that won’t leave you dreading your drive home either.

[Disclaimer: Subaru tossed me the keys to the 2015 Legacy, and included a tank of gas. I wore shorts in my video review above because it was 105 degrees out that day… I felt that needed a disclaimer too.]

Dodge Charger Hellcat: Insanity Contained… Barely

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707 horsepower.

We’re not talking about some ultra-exotic hypercar made by hand in some shop in a country you’ve never been visited. This is a four-door, five-passenger sedan from Dodge.

This is the 2015 Dodge Charger Hellcat, and it might be the most insane vehicle on the planet simply for the fact that it exists at all. The folks at Dodge have created one giant middle finger to the world with this car, and they can raise a second middle finger when you pair the car with its Challenger sibling.

It’s wild, loud, powerful, aggressive, and it’s offering near super car acceleration for premium to luxury sedan pricing. The Hellcat also happens to be a car you could live with everyday… which just adds to the craziness.

[Disclaimer: Dodge flew me to Washington, D.C. and put me up in a hotel that had a clear view of the White House. This was a blatant attempt to instill extra patriotism into my bones. This wasn’t necessary as the Hellcat forces MURICA down your throat hole, and then transforms you into a red, white, and blue bald eagle that can only communicate by squawking out God Bless America.]

Lamborghini Aventador Roadster: Aggressive Aural Angular Anger

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The Lamborghini Aventador Roadster is ridiculous. It’s ridiculously expensive, ridiculously powerful, ridiculously designed… and it’s perfect it in its ridiculous world.

Is it perfect to drive? Of course not, but the fury and the noise help keep a smile on your face the entire time you’re driving one. Unless you come in too hot for a corner, then it’s time to frown and cry as you understeer towards a cliff. Thankfully, that didn’t happen for me.

[Disclaimer: Lamborghini tossed me the keys to the Aventador Roadster for a weekend. They also included a tank of gas. I’m pretty sure I needed a few more tanks.]

Classic Quick Spin: Lancia Fulvia Sport Zagato

Bradley Brownell November 10, 2014 Featured, Quick Spin

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When someone throws you the keys to a Lancia Fulvia Sport Zagato, it doesn’t take more than a split second to say yes. A few months back, I was given the opportunity at a Lancia club gathering to drive this beautiful vision of Italian design, and I could not have been more excited to slip behind the wheel. I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to drive a front wheel drive car, especially considering it only carried a 1216cc V4 rated at around 80 horsepower.

The great thing about the Zagato, though, is that lightweight hand-formed aluminum bodywork forming a modern-for-its-era angular shape. It took a bit for me to get used to the driving experience, as it wasn’t exactly modern. Once accustomed, though, it was quite a joy to drive.

… Continue Reading

Nissan NV Taxi: Angeles Crest Confessions

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What do you do when you’re given a Taxi to drive for the week? Well, normally people might pick up friends and family, and then shuttle them around town.

…I’m not normal.

I decided to hustle the Nissan NV Taxi over Angeles Crest highway on my way to Willow Springs. No, the taxi didn’t get track time, but it did get “exercised” along the way to the track.

Also… RIP little birdie.

[Disclaimer: Nissan lent me the NV Taxi for a week and included a tank of gas. I earned zero dollars from zero passengers. I should’ve trolled the airports…]

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