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Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen Wagon(wagen)

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You want a vehicle that can do 99% of everything that you think you need it to do? I have the perfect vehicle for you. It’s called a “wagon”, and it utilizes plenty of cargo room mixed with great driving dynamics and solid styling.

Oh you don’t like that idea? YOU’RE WRONG!

Say hello to the Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen, and say hello to a vehicle that will handle nearly all of your daily needs. It has loads of cargo space, returns tremendous fuel economy with the TDI motor, and is available rather nicely equipped for right around $30,000.

Stop buying crossovers. Start buying wagons… this one is a good one to start with.

[Disclaimer: Volkswagen tossed us the keys to this Golf Sportwagen and included a tank of the oil burning fuel. We barely dipped into it, despite putting a fair amount of miles on the car. Even with my fat foot, it has massive range per tank.]

Review: Hyundai i30 Turbo – A Customer Loyalty Bonus

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What’s in a name? Well, if you were in the company of somebody called “The Destructor” it would be odds on that flower arranging and a little light jazz weren’t on the cards. Likewise, a heavyweight boxer might be advised to change his identity from Percy Lovehugz to something a bit more menacing.

Hawkeye was a terrific name for an airborne early warning aircaft, and vigilante an excellent name for a fighter. Car companies don’t always get it right, though. Witness the Plymouth Breeze, an appallingly wishy-washy name but which was, in fact, not much more unsuitable than its sister the Dodge Stratus, stratus being a kind of immovable wet grey cloud which dogs Cornish seaside holidays.

And now Hyundai are calling one of their i30’s a “Turbo”. Should we laugh? I took one around Millbrook test track in the hope of finding out.

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2015 Nissan Rogue SL AWD – The “Gettin’ Hitched Review”

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At the beginning of June, I had to fly back to the Midwest (where I’m from) for a couple of weeks. While I was there, Nissan let me borrow the keys to a brand new Rogue crossover (NOT the Rogue Select, it should be mentioned). I logged a surprising amount of miles, and used the car for pretty much everything it was built to do. I hauled some stuff, I hauled some people, I commuted, I road tripped, and I took it for a nice night on the town. If you’re in the market for a small-ish SUV style thing, you might want to continue reading this review. Oh, and to make this plug a bit more enticing, I was in the Midwest because I got married!

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Audi RS5 Cabriolet – Feel the wind in your hair… and in your wallet

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The Audi RS5 is a sort of lone wolf in a strange land. Four-passenger, two-door convertibles are a rare breed, and they get far more rare when you throw in terms like “all-wheel-drive”, “aggressive”, “V8”, and performance. That’s what we’re dealing with here, and it’s hard to compare the RS5 Cabriolet to other vehicles on the market.

Under the hood we have a rather delightful 4.2-liter V8 that produces 450 horsepower and just under 320 pound-feet of torque. There’s plenty of power on tap, and it’s metered out to all four wheels by way of the seven-speed S-tronic gearbox. My issues with the car begin here.

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Road Trip In The Lexus RC350 F Sport

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The Lexus RC350 has an aggressive exterior and aims to attack the coupes from its German rivals. The F Sport package gives it better handling and a more menacing look. As a Lexus and not a Caterham, it’s required to strike the right balance between comfort and handling.  I originally planned to take the RC350 F Sport to an autocross event but the car had to be rescheduled and ended up arriving the weekend before a road trip. The logical choice for the six hour round trip  to a wedding would’ve been to take my Cadillac STS or their Toyota Camry but I convinced them that we should ride in the RC350.

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2002 Corvette Z06 – Plentiful Power Priced Right

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Usually when you meet your heroes you end up highly disappointed. I’ve driven all sorts of Corvettes ranging from a 1969 427 Stingray to a C4 ZR-1 and a C6 ZO6 at Bondurant. Sure I’ve driven C5’s before and yes the automatic is as terrible as everybody says that it is, but the Z06 was a bit of a Corvette unicorn for me. Years ago I got to see brand new C5 ZO6’s on the dealer showroom but I never did get a chance to sample the flavor of the C5 Z06… until now.

Friend of Hooniverse Rick Radcliffe went out and bought one. And his very clean driver example finally had me behind the wheel of a car that I’d lusted after for quite some time. The C5 Z06 has one of the highest levels of performance capability you can find on the affordable used market at the moment. If you want cheap speed with high levels of handling in a lightweight package, you really can’t do wrong with a Z06.

Does this level of performance bargain awesomeness have the best bang for the buck on the used market? Watch the video to find out.

[Many thanks to Rick Radcliffe for supplying his Corvette and allowing me to perform the ceremonial transformation of six year old Bridgestones… into smoke]

Review: 2016 Honda Civic Type-R Part II. On Track- Scream If You Want To Go Faster

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It was on the Slovakiaring in 2013 that Honda had a monopoly on the podium during race one and went on to win the WTCC championship after their first full season. So it’s no coincidence that this was the venue chosen to showcase just what the new, feverishly anticipated Civic Type-R was capable of.

This morning I established that ordinary roads are no match for what this car seems capable of delivering. Now, in 86 degree heat, I’m in the right time and place to find out just what the Red Badge can offer.

Type-R. Remember, R is for “Race”.

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2015 Honda NC700X: Think Urban Jungle, Not Actual Jungle

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Honda wants to position the 2015 NC700X as a dual-sport machine. That’s a bit generous, as I found out after spending a bit of time with the machine. It’s less real-jungle-ready, but quite primed to tackle the urban jungle.

It’s not cheap though. This bike is packing a dual-clutch gearbox, ABS, and more storage than it might actually need. Still, even with all that extra gear, it proves to be a solid ride.

Is it worth the dough? Take a look and see.

[Disclaimer: Honda provided the bike for review and included a full tank of fuel.]

 

Review: 2016 Honda Civic Type-R: The Monster Awakens

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Honda gets it. They know that enthusiasts have been rabid for another taste of the Red Badge for years. They also know that they created something of a monster in the first EP3 Civic Type-R, one which would prove incredibly difficult to surpass. And, with a new NSX on the horizon, they need to show the world that driving pleasure is a check-box that their R+D team ticks on day one of the development process.

On this European launch of the car which will carry the Type-R genus forward, Honda were very keen to show just how seriously they’ve taken things. And though this, the UK built Civic is probably very different to the one which American streets will echo to the sound of, it still represents Honda’s global intentions for the brand.

Warning: This is a long one. Settle down, get comfy, enjoy the ride.

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Tesla Model S: Is this the Everything Car?

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Can there be an everything car? Can it fulfill each and every need you have for the one car you will own? Tesla hit a pretty high watermark with the Model S, it’s well put together, it’s fast, it’s full of wonderful technology. The center stack is the stuff of a tech wizards dream, so what could possibly be wrong?

I turned to something a little bit different and wanted to test out not only the Tesla itself, but in a very fitting way to actually get behind the wheel. I obtained this particular Model S through a website and an app called Relay Rides. Think of it as an Airbnb for cars, something pretty brave to let your personal car out there, but also could be a strong business decision.

I stormed around North County San Diego in this Model S to find out how good it can be to live with it on a daily basis.

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