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Lamborghini Huracan Is The Best Bull Yet

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This is the best Lamborghini. That is, it’s the best one if you enjoy driving your super car everyday. The Aventador is louder, there were over 14,000 examples of the Gallardo sold, and the Miura is one of the all time greats.

It’s the Huracan, however, that is the best representation of everything Lamborghini has learned to date about making a car go fast… and do so very well.

You could put a lot of that knowledge gleaned on the shoulders of the Audi camp, but you’d be selling the Italians short a bit. The under-skin technology powering the wonderful gauge display and making sure all of the buttons actually work when pressed is zee work of zee Germans, no doubt. The noise, fury, passion, and thrill, however, are 100% made in Italy.

You might protest and say the Aventador should be the pinnacle car for the brand. It is, if you like cruising loudly in a straight line, punishing understeer, and Silicon Valley-approved doors. I’m not hating on that, as I too love muscle cars… which is what the Aventador truly is (Not counting the new Super Veloce, from what I hear).

The Huracan is a proper go-fast car though. It relishes corners, looks forward to steering input, and encourages canyon hooliganism. The all-wheel-drive system is rear biased, the steering response is immediate (almost to a fault actually), and the engine loves to be pressed deep into its rev counter.

The 610-horsepower Huracan is a vast improvement over the Gallardo, which is a car that got steadily better as its long lifespan crept forward. It’s a Lamborghini that does the greatest job of mixing top tech from its Audi siblings and blending it into the world of an Italian exotic. The switch gear looks familiar yet feels more adventurous. The seats are aggressively styled yet surprisingly comfortable. You can’t see anything out the back but… well, that’s just how it is and it’s a Lamborghini thing for sure.

What Lamborghini has created in the Huracan is a car that toes the line between daily driver and insane-o super machine. It doesn’t lose its edge by playing to the luxury and comfort side of the equation, in fact by doing so you have a vehicle that represents everything a modern super car should be.

Some may long for the days when you have to sacrifice something to gain something else. Be it comfort, reliability, or visibility, you had to do away with one of those to get the greatest driving experience on the planet. Now you only have to part with a large chunk of your cash… and that’s never going to change. At least now you’re a bit more comfortable even if your bank account is missing six figures.

[Disclaimer: Lamborghini tossed me the keys to the Huracan for a few days. They picked it up while it was parked in the first valet spot outside of Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach…]

Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Sedan: Big, Bold, …Brutal

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The Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG sedan is one of the greatest cars on the planet. It’s technologically advanced, supremely luxurious, and possesses seemingly endless power. It’s also tremendously expensive.

Under the hood spins a pair of turbochargers that feed a 5.5-liter V8 engine.That combination is good for 577 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. It’s used to propel a car that’s basically the closest thing we have to a luxury rocket ship for the road.

Oh… and it can drive itself for stretches at a time.

[Disclaimer: Mercedes-Benz tossed us the keys to the S63 AMG sedan for a week, and included a tank of gas. I considered adding more tanks and escaping with the car into South America.]

Rotten Rental Car Review: 2015 Nissan Versa Note SV


It may not be obvious, but the rental car industry is a tough and very stressful place to work. Having friends that have worked in it before, I’ve always been conscious about making sure I never make someone’s job harder when renting a car. One of the sure ways to make that happen is to walk into a branch amidst general chaos and – without any advanced reservation or warning – say “I need a car NOW!” Yeah, you and the eight other people in line.

I was that person. I didn’t want to be and I didn’t plan on it, but when a part for my only car was delayed after the drivetrain was already taken apart, I had no choice.

This was my punishment.

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2016 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T SE and SEL – The Vermont Maple Syrup Review


Volkswagen of America wants a hero, they want a champion. If you watched the Democratic Debate a couple of weeks ago, Volkswagen wants someone like Bernie Sanders to stand up and say ‘Nobody cares about your damn NOX emissions!’. Having sat through the Passat pre-drive press conference question and answer session last week, it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen any time soon. Nearly every question asked by a journalist involved the nasty D-word, and nearly every answer given by VW PR was along the lines of ‘We’ll give you more information when we have it’. VWoA wants the Passat to be their champion, they want people to take notice of its strong new sheetmetal and its increasingly advanced tech available inside, and they want people to ignore that there is no longer an option box on the order sheet for TDi Clean Diesel. Is the new Passat good enough to help us forgive and forget? I flew to Stowe, Vermont to find out.

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2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0T S-Line: A Softer, Smoother GTI Droptop

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You live in an area where convertibles make sense year round. The need to get your daily dosage of Vitamin D and feel the wind blowing through your hair during your morning/afternoon commute is high on the priority list. What kind of convertible do you buy? Entering into the luxury compact convertible segment means there is a bit of competition throughout the world. Do you look towards the Japanese, Americans or the Germans to get your drop top fix?

We’ve recently tested the 2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0T S-Line to see how this offering in the segment can still retain a fun-to-drive character.

I used to own a MK6 Volkswagen GTI and I knew that car through and through. The practicality and driving enjoyment the GTI gave me still resonates to this day. I’ve since moved on from that GTI but driving this A3 Cabriolet kept reminding me of it. Though not as sharp or willing to engage the driver, the A3 retains some of the characteristics of the hopped-up Golf.

Is the 2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0T S-Line a softer, smoother GTI droptop? Click play to find out.

[Disclaimer: Audi tossed us the keys to the A3 droptop and included a tank of gas. We then got the car dirty when we used it as a camera car at El Mirage to shoot footage of the more exciting Audi S7. The A3 is an excellent camera car with the roof down…]

Brief Review: Smart ForFour 1.0 Passion.

Chris Haining October 20, 2015 Quick Spin, Reviews


Smart was in danger of becoming an ironic name. The smallest Daimler-Benz product always sold on the virtues of novelty and wantability more than anything else, and in recent times was beginning to look increasingly irrelevant. Now, thanks to platform sharing with Renault, the New Smart may well finally be a vehicle useful enough to justify the epithet.

The brochure for the ForFour is full of images of young people with fashionable beards clearly having fun, so it seems reasonable to investigate whether the dressed up and up-priced Germanised Twingo actually lives up to what their marketing department promises, delivering entertainment as well as intelligence. Take the jump to find out.

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First Drive: 2016 Honda Civic

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We’ve come a long way from that first Honda Civic… This is the 2016 Civic, and it’s the 10th generation of Honda’s plucky compact. For the first time, the American Honda team has led the development of the car, and they’ve given us a Civic that’s incredibly well rounded. It should be, considering that Honda looked towards German premium and luxury vehicles for inspiration.

This is our first taste of the new Honda Civic. We’re eager to get our grubby mitts on the upcoming Civic Si and definitely on the Civic Type R. For now though, we’ll settle for an initial sampling of the all-new machine by starting with the Civic Sedan Turbo, and it’s new 1.5-liter forced-induction mill.

[Disclaimer: Honda flew my but from Boston (where I was visiting family) to NY to sample its latest Civic. They put food in my belly, and gave me a place to sleep as well.]

Quick Spin: 2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD

2015 jaguar f-type r front

Not that long ago I reviewed the V6 version of Jaguar’s F-Type. I found it to be a sweet little roadster but somewhat lacking in the performance and attract-the-ladies department. Now, here I am again, with another F-Type, but this is one is a little different because it’s red. And it also has two more pistons in that block, which give it an extra 170hp, and an new all-wheel-drive system. Can those minor differences really make a big difference?


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Philosophical Review: Mondeo is as Mondeo always has been


The Mondeo has been shuttling ordinary folk around the roads of Europe since 1992, and highways far beyond that continent if you count those Contours and Mystiques which spun from it. Perhaps it was nothing more than ease of alliteration that caused lazy media to coin the phrase “Mondeo Man” but the medium/large Ford saloon car almost immediately became synonymous with the average road user. Vectras, Avensises, Primeras, all were sold in what became colloquialized as the “Mondeo Segment”. And it was for good reason.

The Mondeo was excellent. Review teams from glossy magazines used to run out of superlatives and the pages would ooze with hyperbole. From one month to the next Mondeo would be pitched against various newcomers and on every occasion would knock them aside with a lazy sweep of its heavy bat. Autocar exclaimed “Ford’s family car hero barely puts a foot wrong”. It became the accepted convention that Mondeo was on point in pretty well every discipline and became the standard bearer against which all should be judged. Yes, as the years passed and the competition hotted up, its remit became harder to satisfy, especially against aspirational brands which had become newly affordable thanks to “piss it out the door” finance initiatives.

What is more interesting for us, though, is when you look at the various generations of Mondeo and compare them against their then contemporaries. Each one can be read as a kind of barometer for the state of motoring at the time, a guide to vehicular best practice, if you will. And, reliably, the same thing is true with the 2015 car.

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Review: 2016 Mazda CX-5 Touring

Mazda CX-5 Touring

Some may look at the Mazda CX-5 as just another dot in a sea of crossovers but it offers so much more. The steering and suspension stand out and the fuel economy beat out the hybrid CUV that currently sits in my driveway.

While many enthusiasts may write off any crossover as just another appliance, the CX-5 deserves our attention. I had the chance to try out a front wheel drive model in Touring trim and enjoyed the experience. I previously had a chance to try out a 2014 CX-5 with the 155 horsepower 2.0-liter engine and found it to be adequate but slightly lacking in highway merging situations. The 2016 CX-5 Touring model I tested came equipped with the 184 horsepower 2.5-liter engine and showed a measurable improvement in acceleration.

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