By Paul DeGuiseppi, MACS Manager of Service Training
During a two-day event last September, I drove 21 new cars, 11 each day. Day one was on public roads; day two on a track.
In the order driven, below are the cars I selected, and my impressions of them.
Hyundai Veloster Turbo: Certainly an (ahem) interesting looking piece. Especially this particular car’s “Matte Gray” finish (which comes with its own 11 page “Matte Finish Paint Owner’s Guide”). Anyway, too bad the car doesn’t drive as “interesting” as it looks.
Mercedes Benz C250 Coupe: Not too fast, not too slow; not too firm, not too soft; not ultra-luxurious, but real darn nice. All I kept thinking was “Is this thing my wife, or what!” (The car’s “Mars Red” paint and “Almond Mocha” interior helped in that regard.)
Audi RS5: This is also a German coupe but to say the least, extremely different from the car I had just exited. The Benz has a 201 horsepower four-cylinder; this Audi has a 450 horsepower V-8, and suspension and brakes tuned to match. Still, while quite a thrill, it didn’t fully feel like that much power.
Volkswagen Golf R 4-Door: You want to spend about $35K on a car. You want the practicality of a four-door hatchback and all-wheel drive, want to go real fast, and want the envy of some Gen Y and X males. A Subaru WRX STI is the car for you. On the other hand, if you don’t mind going a bit slower, don’t care about attaining the aforementioned envy, and want to enjoy German precision and refinement, run, don’t walk, to your nearest VW store.
Volkswagen Beetle Turbo: Peppy, handles reasonably well, is reasonably quiet and reasonably smooth. Overall, I’d call it pleasingly pleasant, much-improved nostalgia.
Scion FR-S (manual transmission): Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past three or so years, you know that this car was co-developed by Toyota and Subaru. It’s an about $25K rear wheel drive sports car that, while not super-fast, is darn swift enough. And it looks, feels and handles like a dream. An absolute winner.
Range Rover Evoque: A stunningly stylish and opulent vehicle. But what surprised me the most is how well its four-cylinder engine tugged its nearly 4,000 pounds down the road.
Audi allroad: Simply too good looking to be a station wagon. I would buy one of these fleet, agile all-wheel drive haulers in a heartbeat.
Volkswagen CC Sport: This is a great driving, supple sedan with the lines of a coupe. But with its starting price at over $30K, I think you can get more elsewhere, even for less money.
Mazda MX-5 Miata Club: Like driving an old British sports car. Only practically, indescribably better.
Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec: I really like these cars. Putting aside their knockout looks, they scoot, handle and drive grandly, and are nicely roomy for humans of my size.
Ford Mustang, Mustang Club of America Edition: What a styling and performance bargain! A must-look-at for anyone in the market for a rear wheel drive two-door coupe.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR: Delightfully crude and crudely delightful! And fast as all get out with crazy levels of handling. But no way I can see this car’s well over $40K sticker.
Scion FR-S (automatic transmission): See what I wrote above about the FR-S. This car’s automatic transmission was one of the best I’ve seen at interpreting driver intentions.
Volkswagen Golf R 4-Door: I just had to drive it on the track, where it was even more fun than on the road.
Ford Taurus SHO: A large, roomy, quick car that feels heavy. Not my thing, but I can see how it could appeal to someone who wants a large, roomy, quick car that feels heavy.
Porsche 911 Carrera S: I finally got to drive a Carrera! It was everything I thought it would be, even more. The Porsche rep riding shotgun kept urging me to go faster and brake harder. He obviously had more confidence in the car’s abilities than I had in mine.
Mercedes Benz AMG C63: This is the most refined and easy to drive 451 horsepower I’ve ever experienced. It goes like stink, but is smooth as Mel Tormé’s crooning. And the sounds the car makes are just as magnificent.
Jaguar XJ Supercharged: Unlike the Taurus, this large, roomy quick car doesn’t feel heavy (even though it actually is). It’s interior’s level of luxury is so high, I’d warn acrophobics not to enter.
Jaguar XFR: This is the hottest sedan in the Jag line. 510 supercharged horsepower with great handling and braking, and an exquisite and comfortable interior. Truly mouthwatering.
Volkswagen Jetta TDI Bosch Banks Power Sidewinder: This is a Jetta TDI that received software, engine and suspension tweaks at the aftermarket diesel tuning house Gale Banks Engineering. What a kick they created out of an econocar!
Subaru BRZ: See the previous mentions on the Scion FR-S. While the BRZ supposedly contains the same powertrains, I could swear this car was zoomier than either of the Scions. Even if not, I like its instrument panel better than the Scion’s, so for my money, this would be the one.
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