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McLaren 650S Spider: An open-top time machine

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What happens when you have an automaker that learns about going fast by winning races on one of the world’s greatest stages? You wind up with truly superior road-going cars, and you’re obviously talking about McLaren.

It’s been decades since the McLaren F1 rocked our minds, yet we still speak of that ultra-speed machine to this day. McLaren has been hard at work creating cars for a new generation of go-fast well-heeled enthusiasts, however, and the 650S Spider is proof positive of that.

The McLaren 650S Spider is the fastest, greatest handling vehicle we’ve tested in the Hooniverse. It’s not even the fastest, greatest handling vehicle that McLaren makes… and that thought warps our mind, yet makes us smile.

Racing knowledge and technology can certainly come together to produce tremendous sports cars, and exotic experiences. The experience of the 650S is one we won’t soon forget…

It’s an open-top time machine that warps the world around you.

First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Golf R

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Volkswagen is pretty much cooking up a Golf for everyone on the planet. You have the standard Golf, the diesel TDI, and an all-electric eGolf. Enthusiasts around the globe love the GTI. There’s also a wagon version coming soon called the Golf SportWagen.

This, however, is the one for… us. This is the Volkswagen Golf R, and it’s a turbocharged, all-wheel-drive hot hatch designed to make you a happier person. For just under $40k, you can pilot a nearly 300-horsepower five-door that also happens to have one of the (if not THE) best interior in its class.

Oh and Hans Stuck helped make sure the handling doesn’t suck.

Win-win? You best believe it…

[Disclaimer: Volkswagen invited me down to San Diego and put me up in a hotel for the evening. I took a train down to the location so I could drive a Golf R back and spend even more time with the car. Nice ride down… better ride back.]

2015 Audi S8: Assassin in the League of Extraordinary Super Sedans

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There exists a League of Extraordinary Super Sedans, and few four-doors can claim to be members. The quiet assassin of the group is, undoubtedly, the 2015 Audi S8.

This is thanks to the pairing of its well appointed interior with a 520-horsepower twin-turbocharged V8 engine under the hood. You can blend in with the pack thanks to the subtle exterior styling or you can disappear into the horizon should you need to remove yourself from the company of other cars.

[Disclaimer: Audi loaned me the S8 for a week and included a tank of gas. If you have the means, I highly suggest picking one up… truly a fantastic machine.]

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…

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.]

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.]

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.]

2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R: An enthusiast becomes a family man

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Getting older means making changes in your life. You marry the person you love, you start a family, and you have to make changes. One of those changes might mean selling your beloved car for something a bit more practical.

There are a handful of automakers that understand that this doesn’t have to mean saying good-bye to enjoyable driving dynamics. Subaru is one such automaker, and the all-new 2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R is proof positive that the brand adheres to this line of thinking.

You’re not getting an adult WRX STI, of course… but you are getting something that won’t leave you dreading your drive home either.

[Disclaimer: Subaru tossed me the keys to the 2015 Legacy, and included a tank of gas. I wore shorts in my video review above because it was 105 degrees out that day… I felt that needed a disclaimer too.]

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