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First Drive: 2015 Lexus RC F

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Lexus is looking to join the big leagues of the sport luxury segment. That’s a hefty road to climb considering it’s currently filled with the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, BMW M4, and the Audi RS5, amongst other machines.

Lexus has an answer to those vehicles, however, and it’s called the RC F. Hooniverse.com Executive Editor Jeff Glucker heads to the Monticello Motor Club in New York to see if it can compete with the rest of the segment.

[Disclaimer: Lexus flew me to New York and put me up in a hotel. I ditched the after-track after-dinner drink-a-thon to hang out with my buddy Matt... we had our own drink-a-thon. I was tired the next day.]

Understanding and Hooning the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

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10.8 seconds. That’s how long it takes the new Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat to cover one quarter of a mile from a stand still on street-legal drag tires, according to the NHRA. Let’s put that into perspective:

  • Until 2008, all cars faster than 12 seconds needed a roll bar and a harness.
  • The super exotic Ferrari F40, when new, ran it in 11.7.
  • A 2007 Porsche Carrera Turbo ran it in 11.6 seconds.
  • Everyone’s beloved McLaren F1 ran the quarter in 11.5 seconds.
  • The new $320,000 Ferrari F12 Barlinetta does it in 11.0 seconds.
  • The fastest Lamborghini Gallardo managed about 10.9 seconds.

Yes, many modified cars run faster than that, but if you want a factory stock car with air conditioning and warranty, you’re looking to spend significantly more than a hundred grand. Yes, the Hellcat is a muscle car whereas the cars listed above are sports cars that can corner as hard as they accelerate. Yes, street slicks, a sticky track, and overall ideal conditions do make a difference, so repeating those numbers at the local drag strip won’t be easy.

Still, 10.8 seconds, 707 horsepower, sixty-ish grand. In case you are still not convinced that we are living in the greatest automotive era of all time, this should erase all doubts. But the cool folks at Dodge think that despite its muscle car heritage, the Hellcat and other Challengers can hold their own on the road course, too. Dodge’s SRT team was so confident in the handling of their models that they let loons such as me loose on Portland International Raceway with their newest Challengers. And in heavy rain, too!

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Sampling all three flavors of the 2015 Lexus NX
It’s easy to figure out which one we like best

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British Columbia is a beautiful place. From the towering buildings butting up to the water in Vancouver to the snowy expanses lying to the north near Whistler, there’s something beautiful to see nearly everywhere you look.

A good way to break all of that up is by using something that some would describe as “polarizing”. That’s exactly how we’d describe the all-new 2015 Lexus NX. Some folks are going to love it, while others… well, they will let you know what they think.

For us, it boils down to how a car drives, and the NX drives surprisingly well. It’s clear that Akio Toyoda’s mission to make his brands more sporting is paying off. It should be no surprise that our favorite of the three new NX examples is, of course, the F-Sport version.

We touch on both the 300h and the 200t to start things off, but we quickly focus on the most interesting of the three.

[Disclaimer: Lexus flew us to Whistler and put us up in a swank hotel. Also, I cleared customs in like five minutes... I don't know if that had anything to do with Lexus though.]

First Drive: 2015 Aston Martin Vanquish & Rapide S
Finally putting the super in these super cars

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Yes, both the Aston Martin Vanquish and Rapide S are gorgeous machines. They make great noise, and they’re fun to drive. That’s actually a bit of a problem though, the fact I just said “fun” and not amazing, outstanding, or excellent.

Aston Martin knows this.

The automaker has just revised the cars for 2015, and you won’t find the changes on the outside (minus a new color or two and some wheel changes). Instead, the revisions have occurred under the skin in the form of a new eight-speed ZF gearbox, revised suspension geometry, a modified rear subframe, and fatter anti-roll bars. Ast0n Martin has also extended the range between settings of the adaptive damping suspension system so that you can clearly feel the difference between each of the three. Additionally, the front brakes are larger and the braking boost has been adjusted.

Have these changes paid off? Oh yes.

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First Drive: 2015 Lexus NX
Dynamically, a step in the right direction

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[Editor's Note: We have a First Drive coming soon too. The initial footage is not yet finished though, so GET EXCITED because you have more Lexus NX coming your way.]

It also happens to be damned perfect for its target market. The RX is comfortable, offers up an appropriate level of luxury, looks fancy enough without standing out, and is priced in line with the rest of its segment. If you’re afraid to test the diesel waters, the Lexus RX Hybrid is a perfectly fine vehicle for you.

Still, there are some who desire some engagement from their machines. Toyota President Akio Toyoda himself even said recently that he desires to see more a more sporting attitude and nature throughout the Toyota lineup. To that end, we’ve begun to see the initial results of his push. The Avalon no longer looka like the last car you’ll ever buy your grandmother, the Lexus IS and GS are truly entertaining machines both on the street and the track, and the Toyota/Scion GT-86/FR-S are rhythm car blasts from enthusiast heaven.

It should stand then, that a compact crossover from Lexus should be enjoyable to drive as well. This is one of the hottest segments out there, so Lexus needs to offer something unique. Enter the 2015 Lexus NX… and even if you hate how it looks, prepare to love how it drives.

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First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen GTI
Moving forward while embracing the past

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It’s not EmKay… it’s Mark. As in Mark 7. I’m referring to the Volkswagen Golf GTI. More specifically, I’m talking about the all-new 2015 Volkswagen GTI. It’s been a fan favorite since the early 80s, and even further back for those that live outside the United States. There’s a reason for that, of course, since this is the car that most consider to be the grandfather of the hot hatch.

We’re not fortunate to swim in the massive sea of hatchbacks that our European friends get to enjoy, so for us the be-all end-all of hot hatchdom is the GTI. It’s important then, that the car continue to be improved. Such is the case with the newest jackrabbit. It’s been given more power, lightened up, has greater interior space, and continues to slide further into the realm of the premium automobile… all without rising in price or losing its charm.

Plaid seats? Check. Golf ball shifter? Indeed. Fun to drive? You bet your ass it is…

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Quick Spin: 2014 Nissan NV200 Taxi

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Sometime ago New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission solicited bids for the Taxi of Tomorrow. Four companies were finally selected with Nissan ending up with the winning bid. Unfortunately the bidding process and vehicle development took some time. There were also court hearings regarding Nissan being the only choice. In the end, the replacement for the venerable Crown Victoria has been opened to many automotive makes and models, and the NV200-based cab has become just another choice for the independent cabbies and taxi companies in New York City.

When hailing a cab in New York City today, one may end up with anything from a dying Crown Vic to a diesel Volkswagen Jetta. There are also Altimas, Camrys, Sonatas, Priuses, Escapes, Malibus, Highlanders, Transit Connects, even a Lexus RX. There are a slew of minivans, too. The really lucky riders can end up in one of several Mercedes E or ML diesels. Never before has NYC seen this much variety in its choices for a cab. The bad news is that you still can’t get a cab when you really need one.

Of all the above mentioned vehicles, only the NV200 is developed for taxi duty from the factory. The other ones, even if they are commonly seen as taxis, have been modified with aftermarket taxi equipment. The NV200 is not limited to New York City and can be purchased by anyone at their local Nissan dealership for around $29,000 and it comes with a 150,000 mile warranty. Hit the jump to see more details of the Nissan NV-200 taxi.

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First Drive: 2015 Hyundai Genesis
No longer an attempt at luxury, but now the real thing

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When the first Genesis was introduced to the planet in 2009, most of the world scoffed at the idea of a luxury vehicle wearing a Hyundai badge. Still, the car has performed alright, and it does a decent job at playing pretend luxury sedan. There were a few areas, however, where it fell a bit flat. The driving dynamics were mediocre, and the seats were far from luxurious.

Now though, it appears we’re ready for round two of the Genesis story. No, I’m not talking about Phil Collins trying to get the band back together, but rather Hyundai turning its upscale four-door into a true contender. The 2015 Hyundai Genesis is here, and it’s not stuck in the Land of Confusion (Whoooaaaa ooooooh).

It’s now a real luxury sedan, and it’s time that Germany and Japan ought to pay attention to it.

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First Drive: 2015 Audi A3 Sedan
Drop the base…

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Don’t call it a base-level car.

While, that sounds harsh… I’m not here to tell you to do anything, of course. What I mean to say is that, after spending a bit of time with the newest compact sedan from Audi, I feel like calling it an entry-level machine is selling it a bit short. This is the 2015 Audi A3, and it might be hiding a bit more bang for your buck than you think.

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First Drive: 2015 Subaru WRX STI
The same song, still sounds pretty sweet

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The more things change, the more the stay the same, right? That is how that particular saying goes, and it’s one that could easily be applied to the new 2015 Subaru WRX STI. The lines of the body have changed, the interior has received a few upgrades, and the only body style being offered is the sedan. Still, under the hood sits the familiar 2.5-liter Boxer four-cylinder engine, there’s a large wing out back, and the upgraded interior will not be confused with that of a luxury car.

So is the newest STI just a refreshed all-wheel-drive burble monkey? Sort of… but in a delightful way.

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