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Video Review: Dinan S3-R BMW 1M
The Real Ultimate Driving Machine

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I harp on BMW a lot. Too much, in fact. The automaker still builds machines that provide a truly engaging driving experience. The problem is though, that the lineup has less and less of that. Still, cars like the new M3 and M4 prove that BMW can still create ultimate driving machines.

Back in 2011, however, they may have created their own modern-day masterpiece. It’s called the BMW 1 Series M Coupe, or 1M for short. This 335-horsepower mighty mobile proved that BMW had not in fact lost its mojo.

Did they leave a bit on the table with the 1M? I wouldn’t have said so back then, but after spending a week with the Dinan S3-R 1M I’m singing a different tune. What Dinan has done is take a great car… and made it into one of the best true driver’s cars that I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

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Drive Report – The 2014 Ram C/V; A surprising and versatile small cargo van…

 

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The small van category is a growing one, at least here in the States. Ford took a gamble, and introduced the Ford Transit Connect during the 2010 model year, and it was a rousing success. Here was a product, introduced at the right time to an eager buying public, and sales haven’t cooled since. In fact, the Transit Connect was just redesigned, built at a different location, and spawned a couple of new competitors in the form of the Nissan NV-200, and the soon to be introduced Ram Promaster City.

However, there has been a competitor to the small Transit almost from the beginning, and it is a very capable bargain if you can get past its looks, and I just spent some time behind the wheel of one. Introducing the Ram C/V…

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Review: 2014 Ford Fiesta EcoBoost 1.0 Powershift. Fun… if you insist.

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I like my cars to be visceral, possibly brutal. I like to feel the car fighting back as I wrestle it around my favourite backroads route. I like to feel as if I’m working as part of a team, the car and myself acting in unison to cover ground as entertainingly as possible. The car doesn’t have to be totally reliant on muscle and it doesn’t have to have racetrack credentials to provide fun, a grunty lightweight like a Z4M or a heavy old horse like a Bentley Turbo R are equally adept at making me grin.

On the face of it, a low-powered Ford Fiesta with an automatic gearbox should be pretty much the opposite of what I love in a car. Take the jump to see whether this really is as miserable  a combination as it sounds.

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Review: 2014 Dacia Sandero Access 1.2 75

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Last year I was overcome by waves of delirious excitement when the opportunity arose to test the entry level Dacia Duster, the cheapest quasi-SUV available on the UK market. It lived up to every one of my expectations and my verdict fizzed with superlatives.

And you know what, this time I’m even more excited. I’ve just driven the Dacia Sandero. Good news! And even better; the one I spent time in was the 1.2 litre “Access” model. In other words, the cheapest new car British money can buy. Take the jump to ascertain the ratio of cheap and / or cheerful.

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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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Video Review: 2014 Audi RS7
Say Hello to Banana Sandwich

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Remember how crazy some cars used to be? Big-block having, lumpy-cam bumping, street beasts crafted with metal and a desire to go straight as fast as possible. Today you have vehicles that produce just as much power, yet aren’t quite as insane as the meaty machines that came before. Still, insane cars do exist… you just have to look a bit harder to find them.

Case in point: the 2014 Audi RS7.

How can a luxury, four-door, shapely sedan be considered insane? That’s easy… just pop the hood and take in the 560-horsepower twin-turbocharged V8 engine. If you don’t think it’s pure insanity that a nearly 4,500-pound sedan can run from 0-60 miles per hour in around 3.5 seconds, then we have different definitions of the term “crazy train”. Your definition is wrong, by the way.

The 190 mile-per-hour top speed agrees with me, as well.

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2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S: The classiest hot rod on the bright yellow block

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It wants to stand out…

From the color, to the noise, the 2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S is a high-dollar luxury droptop that looks to make its presence known. It’s the noise that has me most interested, of course, as the color is not my cup of delightful British tea. The noise is produced by the 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine mounted under the hood. It generates 521 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque.

That’s enough to make the 0-60 run in just over four seconds. It’s also enough to propel this not-so-light on its feet brawler on to its top speed of 191 miles per hour.

Did I say “stand out”? I meant blast out…

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2015 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD: The big rig for the boss

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A change in perspective. That’s what I got when I first slid my dark blue jeans onto the comfortable leather seat of the 2015 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD. You see, I’m typically quite a bit lower to the ground due to all the expensive/fast/luxurious/loud/exotic machines that I somehow wind up holding the keys to.

The change in perspective was necessary to get my head out of the clouds… but now my head sits a heck of a lot closer to the actual clouds. Still, I’ve apparently not given up any bits of the level of luxury I’ve experienced as of late because this is one truck that knows how to treat its driver and passengers right.

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Truck Thursday – Driving the 2014 RAM 3500 Big Horn Crew Cab

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So far, I’ve told you all about the Challenger I drove on my American holiday. In the piece, I mentioned how I had to drive it back to LA from San Francisco, to be swapped for another vehicle. I say “vehicle”, as you cannot really call it a car: instead it’s a truck as big as they come. After leaving the Challenger in the attendant’s hands, I received the keys for a 2014 RAM 3500 Big Horn Crew Cab 4×4 Dually Long Box with the 6.7-litre Cummins turbo diesel. Go ahead, say that really quickly.

Jump into the Challenger from an European-sized everyday car and it feels long and wide and threatening. Step into the RAM from the Challenger and the muscle car is instantaneously dwarfed. Such are the dimensions of the tall, long and wide truck – traveling four-up, we felt like we had to shout at each other to be heard, as everyone sat so far apart. Not that there was much of a racket inside, as the Cummins big six was a relatively civilized affair for a workhorse. I mean elephant.

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Cruisin’ USA – Pacific Coast Highway in a 2014 Dodge Challenger R/T

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As relayed in the two podcasts recently, I spent nearly two weeks in California. The flights had been booked late enough to not make my spring months unbearable with excitement, and with my passport freshly renewed I contacted the head-Hoon, Jeff about whether there was in any way an alternative to the rental Aveo route. Jeff replied that he would see what he could do, and later emailed me to tell there were two press vehicles booked for the length of my trip, with a switchover in the middle.

After enduring a 12-hour layover in Copenhagen and a delayed 10-hour flight in a makeshift B777 200ER, we landed at LAX, absolutely tired to the extreme. With what strength we had left, we made it through the security checks and waiting lines, and were glad to see my friend, Nik, waiting for us at the arrival hall. I climbed into his 2004 Mazda Miata, and he drove us to the garage where the first car waited. For the entirety of the travel ordeal, the only redeeming thing in my mind had been this very car.

Walking to the counter, I caught a glimpse of it. In the corner sat the 2014 Dodge Challenger R/T Blacktop in Granite Crystal. Suddenly all my tiredness was gone.

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