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McLaren 650S Spider: An open-top time machine

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What happens when you have an automaker that learns about going fast by winning races on one of the world’s greatest stages? You wind up with truly superior road-going cars, and you’re obviously talking about McLaren.

It’s been decades since the McLaren F1 rocked our minds, yet we still speak of that ultra-speed machine to this day. McLaren has been hard at work creating cars for a new generation of go-fast well-heeled enthusiasts, however, and the 650S Spider is proof positive of that.

The McLaren 650S Spider is the fastest, greatest handling vehicle we’ve tested in the Hooniverse. It’s not even the fastest, greatest handling vehicle that McLaren makes… and that thought warps our mind, yet makes us smile.

Racing knowledge and technology can certainly come together to produce tremendous sports cars, and exotic experiences. The experience of the 650S is one we won’t soon forget…

It’s an open-top time machine that warps the world around you.

Miserable Review: 2014 Seat Leon 1.6 Diesel.

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This is the first time I’ve ever embarked upon a car review while I’ve been in an absolutely foul mood. Usually you’re plied with goodies and refreshments and then handed the keys by a beaming member of a manufacturer press relations team. They then send you out on either a well chosen set of lightly trafficked roads, a private circuit or maybe a proving ground, and usually you’ve allocatedyourself enough time to build some kind of meaningful relationship with the review subject.

This review, however, started out with me being two and a half hours away from an appointment, in a city separated from me by 120 miles of near-stationary traffic.

So it all starts rather badly, and that’s not just the writing.

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Riding On The Track For More BFGoodrich Sampling

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As part of last week’s adventures testing BF Goodrich’s new performance all-season tire, we were treated to some on-track mega-speed action through a series of ridealongs in some truly wicked machinery. Through three different cars, we were able to feel the difference in speed between the g-force Comp 2 A/S we’d been testing all day, the standard Comp 2, their more aggressive Rival, and the out and out race-only BFG R1. After a ‘hard’ day of testing tires, it was good to let someone else do the driving and see just what these tires had in hand.

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Tire Review: BF Goodrich g-force Comp 2 A/S
A Performance All Season?

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 In the interest of full disclosure, BF Goodrich invited me to Phoenix to test some of their new round black things. They flew me there, put me up in a posh room, fed me posh food, and gave me the opportunity to meet the infamous Judge Phil (but I won’t hold that against them).

I was, and remain, skeptical of the words “performance” and “all season” being used to describe the same tire. I’ve always been a summer tire/winter tire guy, and I probably always will be. So when BF Goodrich invited me out to test their new g-force Comp 2 A/S tire, I was eager to see whether or not the grip tradeoff would be worth it for moderate cold-weather use. I was curious to see if the ‘performance’ made them garbage in the cold or rain, and I wanted to see how they fared in warm dry conditions. Being in Arizona, the chances were quite low that we’d be testing them in any snow, even a light dusting, so that was out of the question, but really that’s not the point of this tire. So what is the point of this tire? Let’s find out together.

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First Drive: 2016 Acura ILX

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The entry-level luxury market is a hot spot right now in the industry. Strong competition amongst the offerings typically breeds great options for the consumer. You have plenty of ways to get in with an upscale automaker, so deciding on the best course of action is a good problem.

Acura has an updated answer to the problem with its 2016 ILX. This is the second go-around for the car, which launched a few years ago and was viewed as not more more than a slightly more fancy Honda Civic.

Acura knew it needed to bring more to the table, so let’s dive in and see if that’s the case here…

[Disclaimer: Acura flew me to Napa and let me toss the ILX around on the backroads around wine country. I’m still waiting on the day that we switch to beer and cicerones over wine and sommeliers.]

First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Golf R

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Volkswagen is pretty much cooking up a Golf for everyone on the planet. You have the standard Golf, the diesel TDI, and an all-electric eGolf. Enthusiasts around the globe love the GTI. There’s also a wagon version coming soon called the Golf SportWagen.

This, however, is the one for… us. This is the Volkswagen Golf R, and it’s a turbocharged, all-wheel-drive hot hatch designed to make you a happier person. For just under $40k, you can pilot a nearly 300-horsepower five-door that also happens to have one of the (if not THE) best interior in its class.

Oh and Hans Stuck helped make sure the handling doesn’t suck.

Win-win? You best believe it…

[Disclaimer: Volkswagen invited me down to San Diego and put me up in a hotel for the evening. I took a train down to the location so I could drive a Golf R back and spend even more time with the car. Nice ride down… better ride back.]

2015 Audi S8: Assassin in the League of Extraordinary Super Sedans

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There exists a League of Extraordinary Super Sedans, and few four-doors can claim to be members. The quiet assassin of the group is, undoubtedly, the 2015 Audi S8.

This is thanks to the pairing of its well appointed interior with a 520-horsepower twin-turbocharged V8 engine under the hood. You can blend in with the pack thanks to the subtle exterior styling or you can disappear into the horizon should you need to remove yourself from the company of other cars.

[Disclaimer: Audi loaned me the S8 for a week and included a tank of gas. If you have the means, I highly suggest picking one up… truly a fantastic machine.]

Review: 2015 Audi S3
I Can’t Stop Thinkin’ ‘Bout You

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Have you ever seen that episode of Seinfeld where George leaves his hat behind at a girls apartment so he’ll have a reason to come back? You know, the one where he says his own last name to the tune of the “by Mennen” jingle on his way out the door (COS-tanza!) as an earworm to get her to remember him? I think this Audi must have done something similar to me, because it’s gotten under my skin. It’s infiltrated my brain. I just can’t stop thinking about it. I can’t eat (well, yes I can), I can’t sleep (well, yes I can), and I can’t go a single hour without picturing this blue beauty nestled safely in my garage.

I psychologically want to have it. I physiologically need to have it. I’ve driven a number of excellent cars, but only two have been this close to exactly right fresh out of the box (Porsche’s 991 Carrera 4GTS PDK, and this Audi S3). I wouldn’t change much about this car, and those things I would change are minor. Read on to hear what I would change, and why I love it so.

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Dodge Challenger Hellcat: Mad Max… the car

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Yes, I know Mad Max drove an old Ford. It Mr. Mad were around in the modern era, there’d be no question about what he would driving; the 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat.

It’s a 707-horsepower, supercharged coupe, and you can have it with either a six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed automatic. We’ve got the manual, and we’ve got empty roads to play around on. That means it’s time to get sideways, get silly, and get busy burning off the rear tires.

We apologize to no one… you don’t ever have to apologize to people when you drive a Hellcat.

(It voids the warranty)

[Disclaimer: Dodge tossed me the keys to the Hellcat and included a tank of gas. That fuel didn’t last very long… ]

Volvo V60 Polestar: High Performance Conflict Resolution

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You need a car that can handle the load of your daily life. You also need a car that’s going to make you smile when you drive it. Enter the Volvo V60 Polestar; a premium, compact wagon with a racing background.

It’s limited. It’s packing 350 horsepower. It will run from 0-60 miles per hour in under five seconds. It can do all of this, and it can also transport your family comfortably and safely.

This is another shining example of the awesomeness that is the wagon.

[Disclaimer: Volvo/Polestar tossed me the guys to this bright blue wagon for a few days, and included a tank of gas. I wish they would toss me those keys and let me keep it forever… such a great car.]

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