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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.]

Dodge Challenger Scat Pack: A Half-Price Hellcat

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The name isn’t great, even if it’s rooted in history. All is forgotten upon a press of the start button, however, because the Dodge Challenger Scat Pack is a ridiculously fun machine set at half-Hellcat pricing.

Under the hood is a 485-horspower 6.4-liter HEMI V8 engine that enjoys ruining any relationship it may have had with its own rear tires. Inside is a cabin that is actually from the 21-st century. Outside is retro styling done right, with a clear nod to the past mixed with modern touches.

It’s not perfect, but that makes it even more of a muscle car, and that’s part of the reason that we love it.

Just know that everywhere you go is now a Smoking Zone…

Precise Figures Unavailable: The Aston Martin 6.3 Liter Wide Body Virage

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“We can’t disclose those figures I’m afraid.”

This was the reply I received to a series of questions from a fellow who should know, Paul Spires, the general manager of Aston Martin Works in Newport-Pagnell, County Buckinghamshire, England.

Situated in the “historic home of Aston Martin” since 1959 – effectively the fifth Aston factory, following earlier stints in London and Middlesex – the AM Works is the keeper of the brand’s historic flame, offering “heritage services” for all late model Aston’s including “heritage upgrades” as well as a menu of other services.

The Works website and company brochures tout Newport-Pagnell as the font of all things AM. “Aston Martin Works is now the largest, best equipped and most knowledgeable heritage restoration center in the world.”

So why can’t the Works general manager “disclose” how many of Aston’s already imposing Virages received the full “Works Service conversion” that resulted in the very rare and lusted-after British muscle car you see here?

Why is Aston Martin unable to divulge how many of the converted cars were right-hand-drive or left-hand-drive or how many were equipped with manual gearboxes?

Three reasons as far as anyone can tell: the plight of Aston Martin in the late 1980s/early 1990s, poor record-keeping and the English penchant for doing rather grand things in convoluted fashion.

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Jaguar F-Type R: Pretty, Powerful, …Perfect

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It’s been a hell of a year for those of us who love noise, horsepower, and cars that encourage driving shenanigans. The perfectly sculpted icing on this massively delicious cake has to be the Jaguar F-Type R coupe.

It’s a simple recipe at first glance; you take a powerful engine, pair it with a small rear-wheel-drive coupe, and you make the world happy. Jaguar has a lot more going on underneath the surface here though, as there cabin is wonderfully laid out and designed, the driving experience is precise and tight, and the multitude of smart systems employed keep everything moving in the right direction.

The Jaguar F-Type is pretty. It’s also quite powerful. The F-Type is… perfect.

[Disclaimer: Jaguar tossed me the keys to the F-Type R for a week, and included a tank of gas. I went through that tank, and smiled during the next few fill-ups as well because it meant I got to hear more F-Type R noise.]

HCOTY 2014 Nominee: 2014 Dodge Challenger R/T Blacktop

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[Editor’s Note: Yes, we suck at this. Two new cars this year… we apologize and it won’t happen again. Antti at least has a good reason for this one.]

Having thought long and hard about the car I would be nominating as my personal Hooniversal Car of the Year candidate, I have no other option than to go way back to the last days of May and the first days of June, when I finally set foot on American soil and American tarmac and received the keys to a 2014 Dodge Challenger R/T Blacktop, reviewed here.

Granted, it’s not a Hellcat by a long stretch, and the at least 707-horsepower super-Challenger has deservedly become the beacon of insanely powerful Challengers since its unveiling, but for myself the old R/T stands for so much more.

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Mercedes-Benz E350 Wagon: Long Live the Longroof!

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The wagon… It’s fallen out of favor over the course of the last few decades thanks to the rise in popularity of sport and crossover utility vehicles. That’s a shame, because the wagon is the TRUE sport utility vehicle in the market.

Case in point is this 2015 Mercedes-Benz E350 wagon. It’s powered by a 302-horsepower V8 engine, has seating for up to seven people, or it can be used to haul a whole lot of stuff. This longroof drives in a manner that’s far more enjoyable than any SUV or CUV counterpart, and it looks better as well.

Only a handful of automakers are still cranking out wagons… which means only a handful of automakers still get it. Long live the longroof!

[Disclaimer: Mercedes-Benz tossed me the keys to this wagon for a week, and included a tank of gas. I actually got oddly ill while shooting the car, which wasn’t the fault of the Benz. Can you tell I feel like crap during the video? I did love the car though.]

First Drive: 2015 Nissan Murano

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Designers are an optimistic bunch. They are asked to create a vision that is then whittled down, distilled, and changed. What starts as a concept, moves to a drawing, then clay, and finally scale models before it is adjusted to fit the needs of marketing, engineering, and those sitting at the top of the automakers food chain. Occasionally, a designer gets to see his or her work stay a bit more true to an original concept, but that’s rare these days.

Today is a rare day, because this is the 2015 Nissan Murano and it is a mixture of everything Senior Designer Ken Lee envisioned when he set out to craft the brands latest flagship crossover. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is up for debate…

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Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Roadster: 90% Awesome

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The Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Roadster is a case of old meets… well, old quite frankly. Is that a bad thing though? The answer is both yes and no. Stylistically, the Vantage is one of the great lookers out on the road. It’s also packing a wonderfully shouty 6.0-liter V12 engine that cracks off tons of power.

It doesn’t crack off clean shifts though, and that’s a bit of a problem…

[Disclaimer: Aston Martin loaned me the keys for a long weekend. The automaker included a tank of gas. I turned that fuel into glorious noise.]

Beaterland in Deutschland – Turning 30 in a BMW E30

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As an individual born in late November, 1984, I turned 30 last week. Fanfares, accolades, confetti, all of them successfully softened the blow of reaching my fourth decade. It even gets quite cold and dark here in Finland around this time, so the only hasty choice I could do was to turn back the advancement of autumn just a touch, and book tickets to Germany, as it’s just a touch warmer there. As it happens, they also have legendary racetracks and cheap(er) cars there, along with seriously cheap beer, so it didn’t take a long time for me to jump on the Boeing and make my way to Düsseldorf.

To look at cars, one needs a car. This was the bottom line for my friend Joe, who picked me up in the titular BMW; he’s planning to buy a cheap, frugal runabout or a project Datsun Z or something in between. It’s not clear yet what he’ll be getting, but the actual going-to-look-at-cars will happen in this slightly patinated 1988 BMW 318i saloon. It was loaned to him by the excellent fellow who bought the pea soup coloured Zastava, and as he had also recently bought a gold Subaru wagon the BMW was free to be lent on.

So, there I was, luggage dumped into the steel blue BMW’s trunk, the top of my head touching the headliner of the sunroof-equipped car. This was to be a pretty decent weekend.

… Continue Reading

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