Thursday, 25th of August, 2011
Monday, 15th of August, 2011
Good For: The best performance V8 RWD sedan - for only $30k. This is what makes America great - you can buy the new Mustang GT, complete with the new 5.0L 412 hp DOHC V8, for a very average $30k. What's even better is that you can also rent it through Hertz, which is what I did. The GT is the sports car of the current muscle car selection - the others might have more tire-ripping displacement, but they are also seriously overweight. The new Coyote V8 delivers pleasant performance and feedback no matter what you're doing. It will rumble at low rpms around town, sipping gas efficiently, and moderate downshifts to the 3k rpm range do not go unnoticed. Open the throttle all the way and you will be planted to the back of the seat without a fuss. It's also relatively comfortable for being a sports car. While it does not hide any road irregularities, the Mustang is spacious and comfortable enough for 2 people to take a road trip. Even the Microsoft Sync system hooked up to my iPhone intuitively and worked better than other systems I've tried.
Compromises: The rear window louvers are garbage, pushing visibility into the M4 Sherman tank territory. Believe it or not that little window still comes in handy while making turns - fortunately it is optional. The tank-like design of the windows in general creates a sensation that you're driving a much bigger vehicle, but in the end it just made me more cautious maneuvering this baby around town.
Overall reaction - Two thumbs Up: Ford got it right with this muscle car, and it dares to be a track car too. You can take the whole family out to track day in the Boss 302.
Thursday, 4th of August, 2011
Good For: Zoom-Zoom Compact Car. The Mazda 3 has been a great performer since its introduction, with superior handling dynamics that deem it worthy of sharing a lineup with the Miata and RX-8. I welcome many of the second generation updates, such as fixing the goofy speedometer that encourages speeding. Mazda also added a startup sequence - the entertainment display greets you with "Hello" and plays 2 chords when you turn the ignition on.
Compromises: I don't welcome the second generation's increase in weight - about 200 pounds across the board. The increase in displacement to 2.5 might compensate for that in the "s" model though.
Overall reaction - Thumb up: The Mazda 3 continues to offer a sports car oriented driving experience, and updated details keep things interesting. What's more interesting are the other configurations, which Mazda has and the Civic does not. There is still the 5-door, along with the 263-hp Mazdaspeed version for cheap hot rodding in a practical wagon. The 6-seater Mazda 5 also rides on the platform, with manual transmission configurations available all around.