Browsing: First Drive

Return of the Hatch Many people won’t miss something until it is gone. Honda offered its broadly popular Civic model as a hatchback since the first generation Civic was available in the early 1970s. The hatchback proved popular all the way through the 1990s. The seventh generation hatchback (2001-05) was the last to be offered in the US. While Europe, Japan and other markets continued to get the hatchback for the next two generations, it became apparent that America was starting to miss the odd numbered door. Text by Richard Fong // Photos by Richard Fong and Courtesy of American…

From movies to smartphones, hyping up something big and new can lead to either a cult following or an angry mob upon release. Advertisements, word of mouth and news reports regurgitate rumors and stories of “the next big thing,” but what happens when the product reaches consumers? For some, the anticipation adds to the experience. For others, all the excitement evolved into a Star Wars film or a new iPhone that just didn’t live up to expectations. If you classify yourself as an automotive enthusiast, then you likely didn’t go a day in the last year without hearing news and…

Most automotive and racing enthusiasts are a rare and misunderstood breed. Many of which would happily tear out heated leather seats and sound deadening materials if the result is better lap times. There’s no need for a stereo, as a performance exhaust delivers all the music they could ask for. Air conditioning? No thanks, that just robs power. In order to satisfy the needs of the hardcore track enthusiast and racer, who’s all about going fast on a fair budget, National Auto Sport Association (NASA) partnered with Elan Motorsports Technologies to create the NP01. This prototype-style racecar enters the club…

Subaru proves that looks aren’t everything. The fact that most of the best looking cars also happen to be some of the fastest is not a coincidence. Usually, feats in engineering follow the mantra that beauty follows function, where designs that positively influence performance naturally present an attractive appearance. Subaru somehow pulled off the opposite with its 2016 WRX, a paragon of affordable fun, wrapped in a much simpler package than most vehicles of similar performance. Despite the changes in aesthetic direction from the previous generation WRXs, the experience from behind the wheel keeps getting better. Text by Cameron Parsons…

Luxury and Sport are dichotomous in nature. Everything that delivers the comforts of Luxury impedes the progress of Sport. Everything that delivers Sport comes at the expense of Luxury. Despite these laws of nature, a consort of European automobile manufacturers has convinced many that deciduous evergreens do exist. Audi, BMW and Mercedes Benz have turned an oxymoron into a class of vehicle. The general public and even the automotive media have drunk the Kool-Aid and the Luxury Sport Coupe is an accepted reality. Now, Lexus is back in the Luxury Sport Coupe segment with its RC 350. Text by Michael…

Lexus is a brand synonymous with precision, luxury and quality. However, “sportscar” isn’t a term that could have been associated with Lexus in the past. There were attempts, but neither the LFA nor the IS F really hit the mark. The LFA was a limited-production supercar experiment that was overshadowed by the performance of the much less expensive Nissan R35 GT-R, while the IS F seemed to be more of a factory engine swap experiment. While both the LFA and IS F had some noteworthy aspects, neither was a sportscar for the masses. Text by Michael Ferrara // Images Courtesy…

No matter how “cool” automakers think they’re making the sub-30,000-dollar econoboxes, the reality is that most economy cars are utilitarian, practical and just plain boring. While the hot hatchback phenomenon has begun to spread from Europe to the States, many of these cars settle for low-rent interiors and a harsh suspension at the expense of sheer performance. Although the younger generation might enjoy the rough ride of stiff suspension and a noisy exhaust, not everybody wants an obnoxious box. Can a hatch with a supple ride and polished appearance still be hot? The 2015 VW GTI SE asks this exact…

Out with the old and in with the new. Infiniti’s Q50 comes bearing a new nameplate but its not one of those scams like a “brand new” restaurant with the same old menu. As the successor to the G37 sedan, the Q50 features a number of improvements and refinements. Although the engine, transmission and basic chassis platform carries over from the G37, the Q50 looks, feels, and drives very different than its predecessors. With aesthetic revisions inside and out paired with a plethora of new technologies; the Q50 brings a modern touch to the aging G37. Text by Jun Chen…

The Smaller, The Better? Don’t go to the grocery store when you’re starving. Why? Because you’ll probably end up with mountains of junk food. Despite most people’s best intentions to diet and eat consciously, obesity now plagues more than one-third of U.S. adults. Unfortunately, the “more is better” motto has also latched onto automakers and their new vehicles. Text by Jun Chen // Images Courtesy of Ford Motor Company When it comes to cars, it seems like there’s no reason to hold back. Who doesn’t want more power, more room and an impressive list of standard features? However, in a…

At the LA Auto Show in November 2013, Subaru unveiled its new and improved WRX. Its new exterior, turbocharged FA20 engine, six-speed driveline and active torque vectoring worked well with the stiffer chassis to deliver a fun driving experience. As Subaru fans would expect, when a new WRX is released, an STI is sure to follow. At the Detroit Auto Show in January, that highly anticipated STI made its grand entrance. Text by Richard Fong and Magnus Ohlaker // Impressions by Magnus Ohlaker // Photos by Richard Fong and Subaru of America Rally-inspired Subaru Tecnica International (STI), the motorsports division…

To be the star at one auto show is commendable. To be the star at two in one year is a feat. For Subaru, the 2013 auto show season kicked off in late March with the unveiling of the WRX concept at the New York Auto Show. For the rest of the year, Subaru fans and enthusiasts were abuzz in anticipation of the new WRX. Rumors circulated about a two-liter turbocharged engine, along with a number of improvements, to go with the all-new design, and as the Los Angeles Auto Show approached, the buzz got louder when Subaru announced it…