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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.]

First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen eGolf

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There’s officially a Volkswagen Golf for everyone. The standard Golf is a go-to choice in the compact hatchback market. Enthusiasts love the GTI, and diesel-drinking enthusiasts can’t wait for the GTD to get here (seriously… hurry your asses up on that one VW).

Now Volkswagen has a Golf for the ultra-green set. It’s the 2015 eGolf, and it’s the automaker’s first shot at a fully electric machine here in the United States.

What makes it special beyond its propulsion system? Nothing… and that’s why people will like it.

[Disclaimer: Volkswagen flew me to Virginia and put me up in a hotel so that I could sample their 2015 lineup. I focused on the eGolf because it was the most time I’ve been allowed to spend with the electron-drinking VW.]

First Drive: 2015 Ford F-150
An aluminum game changer?

2015 Ford F-150

[Friend of Hooniverse Ben Wohja Woodzila W. recently got some seat time in the brand new, aluminum bodied Ford F-150. He posted about it on Facebook, and I asked if we could repost his thoughts on the new truck here. So here you go, enjoy! — J.G.]

1) At a 20,000 ft level, it’s a truck. Yes, it has an aluminum body and as a result has a higher payload and trailer rating, but at the end of the day, it’s a truck. At no point in the day and a half that I spent with a variety of models did I think “This really changes the game.” I know from a materials and manufacturing process that it does indeed change the game, but to the end user, it doesn’t cure cancer, it doesn’t blow skirts up. It’s a good, solid truck, much like you can buy at a GM or Ram dealer.

Aside from not being able to stick magnets to it, the average Joe would have a REALLY hard time determining why it’s special. Out the door pricing will be very important because the competition among the three main players will be pretty stiff.

2) Exterior styling works well. Trucks are hard, in that they’re three boxes period, no options. The grille works, the body lines flow, the tailgate distinguishes the truck from its predecessors in traffic. Fancy ambient lighting in the headlights looks cool as do the optional all LED headlights. Ford has done well to eliminate the protruding blue ovals used to hide various cameras. The truck looks clean.

3) As far as features go, the F-150 is leading the pack. The improved man step in the tail gate is great. The LED spot lights on the wing mirrors seem hokey at first, but they’re pretty neat in real life. The side steps are carry-over and only necessary because the bed side around about a foot too high. The LED light on the tail gate is great. The power release tail gate… kind of silly. The optional E-track mounts in the bed sides are genius and should be copied by everyone else. Borrowing a page from Nissan’s Around View playbook with the 360 view is nice if over due.

[Jump past the break for more…]

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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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