Driver’s Cars for the Real World

The 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1: one step closer to owning your own C7.R racecar.
On November 12th, General Motors broke the Internet with the official world premiere of the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 at the Dubai Auto Show. This fourth iteration of the iconic ZR1 nameplate (since 1970 with the C3 3rd generation Corvette) builds upon the monstrous Z06 supercharged C7 Corvette; a track-focused driver’s car that features the latest and greatest sport performance technology General Motors has to offer. In their relentless efforts to compete against—and overtake—the world’s top elite high-performance Sports Cars, General Motors’ Corvette Racing Team has engineered this new ZR1 to not only unseat the previous ZR1 (last seen in 2013) as the fastest production Corvette in history, but to also become the world’s greatest Sports Car ever made. At the time of this writing, not much is known about the exact solid number performance specs of the 2019 ZR1, but it brandishes an all-new supercharged 6.2L Generation 5 small block V8 capable of churning out a hellacious 745 horsepower and 715 lb. ft. of torque VIA a new Eaton supercharger that is 52% larger than the one currently utilized by the Corvette Z06, Cadillac CTS-V, and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. The 2019 Corvette ZR1 will also employ enhanced aero, cooling, handling and suspension modifications based on the Camaro ZL1 as well as a revised Z07 track option and a brand new ZTK performance pack that adds even greater handling capabilities on top of the already-impressive base setup.

 

The ultimate midlife crisis-mobile. More practical than plastic surgery, hairplugs, and ED treatment.
Pricing for the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 is expected to start at $120,000. That’s quite a bit of coin, especially when the base Corvette Stingray—a powerful and capable performance car in its own right—begins at $55,000. That’s far less than what people spend for the typical full-size SUV. Of course, not everybody has an extra $120,000 in their back pockets or stuck underneath the couch cushions among the lost pens and long-forgotten, now-petrified Cheetos. However, when you consider the next comparable selections with this amount of power and these levels of performance capabilities, you’ve got to move all the way up to the Pagani Huayra, the Lamborghini Aventador SV, or the Ferrari F12berlinetta. If you have to ask how much these things cost, you definitely can’t afford them. That $120,000 price tag doesn’t sound so steep anymore, now does it?

But for the rest of us driving enthusiasts who don’t live in fantasy land and actually have to wake up and go to work every day, there do exist cars in the automotive landscape that serve up genuine excitement without requiring a second (or third, or fourth) mortgage. In our previous entry, we covered the highly-anticipated North American release of the FK8 Honda Civic Type R; an entertaining and relatively-inexpensive piece of driving enjoyment. Let’s now take a deeper look at some of the auto industry’s biggest performance car bargains with these budget-friendly driver’s cars.

 

Your friends will laugh at you for buying it, but they all secretly want to drive it.
MAZDA MX-5 MIATA

From $24,915

Depending on who you ask, the Mazda MX-5 Miata is famous for two very distinct, albeit, very contrasting reasons. One, is that it’s always been regarded as a “girl’s car”. It’s a stigma that’s been passed down through generation-after-generation ever since the NA Miata’s introduction in 1989. The second, is that in spite of its modest power output and petite proportions, the MX-5 Miata is one of, if not, the finest fun-per-dollar driver’s cars ever made. The original NA MX-5 Miata took inspiration from classic English sports roadsters like the 1953 Austin-Healy 100, 1961 AC Ace, and the original 1962 Lotus Elan. Now in its 4th generation, the ND MX-5 Miata continues the tradition of pure motoring enjoyment without any unnecessary gimmickry to detract from the driving experience. The MX-5 Miata is purpose-built to tackle hairpin turns, tricky bends, and sweeping curves. It excels at handling and maneuverability versus full-blown speed; a lightweight chassis—one of the lightest in the industry—now boasting an even greater application of aluminum in its fully-adjustable double-wishbone suspension rewards good driving skills with remarkable handling prowess comparable to European GT cars costing several times more. Not bad for a little “girl’s car”.

 

Looks fast.  Isn't.
TOYOTA GT86/SUBARU BRZ

From $26,255 ($25,495 for the Subaru)

A collaborative joint-effort by Toyota and Subaru, the Toyota GT86 (formerly known as the Scion FR-S) and Subaru BRZ are small 2+2 Sports Cars that recall the classic 1967 Toyota 2000GT made famous in the James Bond movie, ‘You Only Live Twice’ and the compact rear-wheel drive Toyota AE86 platform of the early 1980s. Outside of a few cosmetic differences and varying levels of comfort amenities, the Toyobaru twins are virtually identical in almost every aspect. Both feature a Subaru “boxer” engine, but with a lukewarm 200 horsepower and 151 lb. ft. of torque, don’t expect to be exorcising any Dodge Challenger SRT Demons at the dragstrip. But unlike the Dodge, the GT86/BRZ can actually make practical use of all of its available engine output in real world driving environments. Plus, it can stop and take a turn, two important facets of driving that Chrysler can’t ever seem to get right. Both the Toyota and the Subaru come equipped with a Torsen limited-slip rear differential, both are available in your choice of a 6-speed manual or 6-speed torque-converted automatic that can mimic the characteristics of a dual-clutch paddle-shift gearbox, and both deliver the same amount of corner-carving, tail-happy SLIDEways fun. It’s up to you to decide which Japanese marque you like better: the one that’s known for dull, lifeless economy cars or the one that’s known for dull, lifeless economy cars for dog owners.

 

Backwards hat and vape pen not included.
NISSAN 370Z

From $29,990

The original 1969 Nissan Z-car (known in its homeland as the Fairlady Z and as the Datsun 240Z in international markets) was Nissan’s first attempt to help distance themselves from the public’s perception as a maker of stodgy econoboxes. Serving as a halo car for the brand, the Nissan Z-car was created in the vein of European 2-seater sporty coupes from Jaguar, BMW, Porsche, and Alfa Romeo. The Z-car’s success forced other Japanese manufacturers to respond by building sports coupes of their own in the late 70s and early 80s such as the Mitsubishi Starion, the Mazda RX-7, and the Toyota Supra. Today, only the Z-car remains while its contemporaries and former rivals languish in purgatory between the junkyard and those sketchy “cash only” ads on Craigslist. The 6th generation of the Nissan Z-car, the Nissan 370Z, features extensive aluminum bodywork, chassis, and suspension components including forged aluminum double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear suspension with forged aluminum control arms, radius rods, and wheel carrier assemblies. Under the hood of the 370Z sits Nissan’s VQ37VHR engine which produces a surprising 332 horsepower (in base form) WITHOUT the use of forced-induction. With a base price that’s just under $30,000, the standard 370Z is an excellent value for bargain discount performance. Conversely, for the additional $16,000 premium that Nissan wants you to shell out for the NISMO Tech, you can do betterA WHOLE. LOT. BETTER.

 

KIA aims to build a better BMW than BMW can.
KIA STINGER/GENESIS G70

Estimated $31,000 to $33,000

No other automaker has done more to reinvent themselves and totally revamp their entire product lineup than Hyundai has in the years following the 2008 auto industry crisis. Much of this success comes from the recent additions of former BMW M-Sport division president Albert Biermann, former Bentley design director Luc Donckerwolke and chief exterior designer Sang Yup Lee, former Lamborghini brand director Manfred Fitzgerald, and former Audi chief designer Peter Schreyer. Hyundai literally took the best of the very best in the automotive world and allowed them to work their collective magic. The result is a complete 180 of corporate identity and public perception; previously considered as the reason why lemon laws exist to now being regarded as one of the most reliable and trusted brands in the market today, joining Buick and Lexus. Spring 2018 will see the arrival of two new compact sport entries from the Kia and Genesis sub-brands, the Stinger sportback and G70 compact Executive Luxury Car, respectively. Both cars will incorporate chassis and suspension schematics that were born from years of testing on the notorious Nürburgring Nordschleife. There will be a choice of either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive layouts coupled to one of two optional turbocharged powerplants, and both cars will apply their own interpretations of modern performance and luxury accoutrements to rival the best offerings from IngolstadtMunich, and Stuttgart. Pricing for the Kia Stinger and Genesis G70 is expected to start around the $31,000 to $33,000 range. That’s within striking distance of the base level Audi A3 and BMW 3 Series and also pits the Kia/Genesis duo as serious competition against the significantly pricier Mercedes Benz C-Class.

 

Unlike the X-Type, this cat does not have feline leukemia.
JAGUAR XE

From $34,900

While under majority ownership of the Ford Motor Company during the early 2000s, storied English luxury automaker Jaguar joined the entry-level compact Luxury Car market with the much maligned X-Type. This transverse engine insult to the legendary Jaguar name was, for all intents and purposes, a tarted-up inbred relative of the proletarian Ford Mondeo MKIII. The X-Type showcased such bespoke luxury features as random short circuits, unsolvable electrical gremlins, spontaneous premature transmission death, undersized brakes that would often result in surprise rollaways as if it were playing a cruel joke on the owner, and a multitude of mysterious fluid leaks emanating from any number of unidentified source locations. After a 6-year hiatus and a change of corporate ownership from Ford to India’s Tata Motors, the global auto megaconglomerate that’s 40 years behind in technological advancement, Jaguar returned to the compact Executive Luxury Car market in 2015 with the XE sport saloon. Featuring the most use of aluminium in its class, the Jaguar XE bridges the gap between opulence and sporting dynamics in a focused, lightweight driver-friendly package that’s designed to coddle the occupants as it cleaves its way through corners and straightaways. Go from mild to wild with your choice of turbocharged diesel or petrol inline 4-cylinder engines or a 250 kilowatt (do the math) 3.0 litre supercharged V6 sourced from the Jaguar F-Type. Even the volatile 5.0 litre supercharged AJ series V8 derived from the previous Jaguar XKR-S will be present, but only for an extremely-limited 300 units for the upcoming 2018 XE SV Project 8. As with any premium European import, performance varies greatly with price but the base XE makes a strong case for itself with its competent lightweight aluminium chassis and an optimised sport-tuned suspension setup for sure-footed handling and control.

 

Nothing says 'America' like a Muscle Car made in Australia.
CHEVROLET SS

From $46,625 (minus HUGE closeout discounts)

With an MSRP just shy of $47,000, the most expensive entry in this lineup can be had with steep manufacturer discounts and incentives for up to 25% off. That is, if you can still find one. 2017 marks the final year of production for the Holden VF Commodore, the Australian-made full-size sport sedan sold here in the United States as the Chevrolet SS. It’s okay if you haven’t seen one before. General Motors, in their infinite wisdom, did very little to advertise, market, or even acknowledge the existence of the Chevrolet SS, like when you try to ignore a fart in a crowded elevator even though you’re the one who committed the act. Plus, coupled with an extremely-limited, select regional dealership allocation of 12,953 total units spread across 4 model years (from 2014 to 2017), it’s not as though these cars were a dime a dozen. It’s completely understandable if you haven’t seen one before, let alone, even know what it is. Long story short, it’s the second coming of the late, great Pontiac G8 (itself, badge-engineered from the VF’s predecessor, the VE). The SS picks up where the G8 left off by taking advantage of design and structural upgrades to the rear-wheel drive Zeta platform. The front MacPherson strut/rear multi-link suspension setup has been likened to that of the beloved E39 BMW M5 and its driving dynamics and characteristics also evoke a familiar feel; something BMW themselves haven’t been able to replicate in over a decade. Year-to-year revisions that helped the SS recreate the magic of the E39 M5 include the additions of 4-piston Brembo brake calipers at the rear (the 2014 only had Brembo 4-pots up front), Magnetic Ride Control real-time adaptive suspension control with selectable presets, active performance exhaust, and the option of an available Tremec 6060 6-speed manual transmission lifted from the Dodge Viper. And let’s not forget to check under the hood: a 6.2L LS3 small block V8 that’s good for an even rating of 415 for both horsepower and torque motivates the near 2-ton Grand Tourer to 60 MPH in 4.7 seconds. This is the ultimate performance car bargain. If you’re in the market for a full-size, rear-wheel drive, V8 sedan with over 400 horsepower and a manual gearbox, the closest competitor would be the G30 BMW M5. Yes, the BMW is faster and more powerful—but it’s also twice as expensive and some will even contend that it doesn’t drive nearly as well as SS. If the topic of discussion is value, there might not be a better value for performance than the Chevrolet SS.

Review: 2018 Honda Civic Type R

After 2 decades, the 2018 Honda Civic Type R is FINALLY on American shores.
Well, boys and girls, it’s finally here. The new Honda Civic Type R, which was first revealed at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, has finally hit dealer showrooms and is on sale now in the U.S. of A. 2017 marks the 5th generation of the Type R variant of the Honda Civic and the 10th generation overall for the Civic, which has been in continuous production since 1972.

 

The 1973 Honda Civic epitomized the practical, affordable, environmentally-conscious, and budget-friendly economy car. Driving it was just as fun and engaging as walking or taking the bus.
A LITTLE HISTORY LESSON…

The original Honda Civic made its debut on July 11th, 1972 (as a 1973 model), replacing the N600 as the subcompact economy entry in Honda’s vehicle lineup. It was an immediate hit right out of the box in its native Japan, overtaking its domestic rivals from Nissan and Toyota. The Civic also achieved international success in both England and the United States as it specifically catered to motorists who were affected by the 1973 Oil Crisis and had grown jaded of the increasing banality of traditional, full-sized land barges. The Civic’s mass appeal as an inexpensive, fuel-friendly, and reliable (albeit, boring and uninspired) commuter car, combined with Honda’s growing reputation for hardiness, legions of Civic aficionados and Honda brand loyalists were formed as a result. In 1997, Honda’s famed Type R performance treatment was finally applied to the Civic, granting the little economy car to oin the legendary NSX supercarDC2 and DC5 Integra, and CH/CL Accord in the Honda Type R stable of high-performance vehicles. The Honda Civic Type R remained unavailable in the North American market since its initial release but now, just in time for the first Civic Type R’s 20th anniversary, the newest iteration of the Civic Type R has finally made its way to American shores to do battle against other performance-oriented “hot hatches” such as the Volkswagen Golf R and the Ford Focus RS.

 

This instant rice cooks in just 5.9 seconds.
SO, WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?

The Type R badge indicates the ultimate level of Honda-bred factory performance. Akin to BMW’s M-SportMercedes-AMG, the Lexus F Sport brand, and (to a lesser degree) Cadillac V-Series and the Chevrolet SS designation, Honda’s Type R incorporates advanced factory modifications to production cars in the name of performance. Optimal engine tuning and suspension setup, weight reduction, and enhanced braking and handling capabilities are the ingredients that go into breeding a Honda car that’s worthy enough to wear the exclusive red Honda H emblem. The Honda Civic Type R was already long available in the Japanese Domestic (JDM) and European markets, but was always restricted from entering the North American market. Reasons for this include the differences in structural architecture for North American-spec and the Japanese/European versions, US government-imposed crash safety, emissions, and fuel-economy regulations, and possibly an effort by Honda themselves to eliminate any potential product overlap with their own Acura brand. To compensate for their own refusal to sell the Civic Type R in North America, Honda positioned the Si (Sport Injected) trim level (which began with the 1985 Civic CRX) over time to incorporate an increasing blend of performance and comfort amenities, but not to Acura-esque levels. That’s not to say that the Sis were Zonk prizes. Sis have went on to amass their own devoted following across the worldwide Tuner landscape. But for the JDM enthusiast in America, the Civic Type R remained an unattainable treasure, much like the Australian-only duo of the FPV GT-F and HSV GTSR for Muscle Car fans.

 
My, my. We certainly have come a long way, haven't we?
Unlike Honda Civics of the past, the current 10th generation now utilizes a single globalized platform on which it is built. The term ‘globalized platform’ means that a specific model (or models) built in multiple factories across the world use the same architecture as opposed to separate, regionalized constructs. In the case of the Honda Civic, they’ll all have the same bones, regardless of whether they come from Canada, the US, or the UK. The Honda of the UK Manufacturing plant in Swindon, Wiltshire is the birthplace of the new Type R, as well as all 10th generation Civic hatchbacks and the Civic-based CR-V compact crossover SUV.

Appearance-wise, the 10th generation Honda Civic (also known as FC/FK) is a polarizing vehicle. It’s one of those ‘love it or hate it’-type designs that attracts as strongly as it repels; a stark contrast to the comparatively sedate and almost-comatose styling of the 8th and 9th generations from 2005 to 2016. Depending on your point of view, the Type R either builds upon or grossly exaggerates Honda’s current design philosophy which is clearly inspired by the reborn NSX. The chrome brightwork found on the base model’s grille and window trim is replaced with solid black accents. REAL carbon fibre—not the fake stuff that can be bought in THAT AISLE at THAT STORE—can be found as it makes up the side skirts, front splitter, and that cartoonishly ridiculous-looking rear spoiler that, according to Honda, actually serves an aerodynamic purpose. There’s even a finned row of vortex generators on the roof that smooths airflow coming out the back, a functional inlet scoop on the new aluminum hood to extract engine bay heat while adding front downforce, functional front bumper air curtains and front side fender vents, new widened fender flares that coincide with the larger 20” black alloy wheels, and topped off with a questionable triple tailpipe exhaust (more on that one, later). The interior is typical FC/FK Honda Civic fare, save for all-new racing-style front bucket seats, Alcantara faux suede inserts along the interior touchpoint, and the juvenile red accents and carbon fibre-look trim that’s all part of the trademark Type R look. Exterior paint colors include Crystal Black Pearl, Rallye Red, Aegean Blue Metallic, Polished Metal Metallic, and Championship White; a Honda hallmark since 1992. And, of course, that iconic red Honda H badge.

 

More than just decals and stick-on plastic bits and bobs.
We’ve discussed this skin. Now, let’s talk about the guts. This is what separates the Type R from lesser Civic models. In addition to the structural improvements Honda incorporated into the FC/FK Civic in the name of smooth airflow and chassis rigidity, the Type R replaces the entire front end suspension with extensive use of lightweight aluminum and a new system called Dual-Axis. Like GM’s HiPer Strut and Ford’s RevoKnuckle, the Dual-Axis front suspension is designed to help quell the bane of wrong-wheel drive vehicles: torque steer. Front-end twist is suppressed while fortifying ability and steering feel. Out back, the multi-link rear suspension that replaces the previous torsion beam (dead axle) improves ride quality and at-speed stability. 20” black alloy wheels with 245 width tires grip the road while the bespoke Brembo high-performance brake setup brings it all to a dead stop. Integrated brake ducts from the front end to the wheel wells prevent the Brembos from overheating. The standard Civic’s electric power steering has been retuned and revised with a new variable ratio to deliver a more direct steering feel and response. An electronic adaptive suspension features G-sensors and four-wheel continuously variable electromagnetic dampers while Honda’s optimized Agile Handling Assist stability program keeps the Civic Type R planted in high-speed turns, plus adds selectable driving modes to suit the driver’s preference. Under the hood resides the heart of the Type R; the 2.0L VTEC TURBO K-series engine named K20C1, the first Honda Type R engine to be built in America. Churning out an unbelievable 306 horsepower and 295 pound feet of torque, this little 4-cylinder—with the help of a massive turbocharger and other assorted engine programming hocus pocus—makes more power than many V6 engines and some V8s from not too long ago. An air-to-air intercooler, 2-piece water-cooled cylinder head manifold, and internal cooling channels in the engine block keep rising temperatures in check. Power is delivered VIA a 6-speed manual transmission featuring a helical limited slip front differential and an auxiliary transmission oil cooler. A lightened flywheel and special gear ratio optimized for performance connects the driver to the machine with greater throttle response and speed control. Spent gasses are sent through the previously-mentioned custom triple-exit exhaust that terminates at the rear of the vehicle and placed within the center of the rear diffuser. The two main pipes expel exhaust fumes while the smaller center pipe controls the tone and volume of the exhaust. It works in a similar fashion to cutouts and the active butterfly valves, only using exhaust gas pressure versus electronically-controlled solenoids.

That red 'H' emblem lets 'em all know that YOU MEAN BUSINESS! Unless, of course, the car next to you is wearing an M-Sport, AMG, GT3, GT-R NISMO, F Sport, V, Z06, SS, 1LE, Shelby, or SRT badge. Oh, Well. If it's any consolation to you, at least you paid less and get better gas mileage.
Together, this formula of new sheetmetal, new bones, new guts, and new brain(s) is what gives the Honda Civic Type R the credentials to sit atop the Type R ladder as the most powerful model in all of the marque’s storied history.

 

With a Nordschleife lap time of 7:43.80, the 2018 Honda Civic Type R is officially the World's Quickest Grocery Getter.
WHO CARES?

By now, most auto rags and every fanboy on the Internet has waxed poetic about the Civic Type R’s record-setting lap time of 7:43.80 at the Nürburgring Nordschleife. That’s faster than some of the world’s most decorated entries in the upper echelon of performance, including the Porsche 911 GT3Audi R8Pagani Zonda SFerrari 599, and the Lamborghini Murciélago LP640. Perhaps, most shocking of all, is that this feat was accomplished through the front wheels which, typically, is not an ideal drivetrain layout for true performance cars. Some of the world’s greatest supercars were beaten by a daily beater on the grandest stage of them all, the “Green Hell” of Germany’s Nürburgring Nordschleife. But what does that mean in the real world of daily commuting to and from work, going to the grocery store to pick up milk and eggs, or driving across state lines to spend a weekend with the relatives? Absolutely nothing. Sure, the stats all look good on paper and you’re bound to stir up some kind of pointless argument in the comments section of any car video on YouTube, but in all reality, it means nothing.

 

I'll bet you dollars to yen that this thing will never see track time and is destined to spend its entire life hardparked outside of Starbucks.
Remember: this is a still just a daily commuter, not a full-blown race car. It’s purpose is to live everyday life, not to compete against GTS Aston Martins, GT Le Mans Ferraris, and Daytona Prototypes on the banks and infield twisties of the Daytona International Speedway sports course. The 2018 Honda Civic Type R stickers for around $35,000. That is, of course, after you eliminate all those greedy, dishonest, bloodsucking dealerships who have the gall to charge up to an 80% premium over the MSRP.

$35,000 can buy you one of the most highly-anticipated new car releases in the past 10 years and a long-desired model that was never-before offered for sale in the United States. In comparison, the base Civic sedan starts at $18,840. The coupe, oddly enough, commands a 2.17% increase over the sedan for a base price of $19,250. The hatchback tops the Honda Civic hierarchy for a starting price of $19,900. Start adding options and moving up the list of available options packages and the price balloons up into the neighborhood of over $30,000. $5,000 more nets you the Type R. That’s quite a bit of coin for what is, at its very core, a basic front-wheel drive economy car. If looking at price alone, $35,000 can let you drive home in your choice of a new, 2018 base model Audi A3BMW 3-SeriesMercedes-Benz CLA-ClassCadillac ATS, or Infiniti Q50—all of which carry higher brand prestige and curb appeal than the lowly Honda Civic. On the other hand, absolutely NONE of them offer anywhere near the amount of raw power as the Civic Type R. None of them boast the same blend of performance and practicality as the Civic Type R, and none of them will be as cheap and inexpensive to maintain as the Civic Type R.

 

Against the AWD Ford, VW, and Subaru, the Civic Type R is the proverbial knife in a gunfight. But with 306 horsepower, it's quite a big knife that should be handled very carefully.
If you’re cross-shopping the direct competition, the top-dog Ford Focus RS commands a $2,000 upcharge against the Civic Type R. Hefty, but what you’re getting for the money is best-in-class power in an overall superior performing machine that, depending on your personal preferences, might be just a bit too extreme and downright violent for the everyday commute. The 2017 Volkswagen Golf R asks for only $600 over the Civic Type R, but offers legendary German chassis engineering and and the only dual-clutch DSG transmission of the lot while the current Subaru WRX STi (only $200 more than the Civic Type R) carries Subaru’s reputation for diehard reliability and is also the only competitor to feature the unique flat “boxer” engine design. The Focus RS, Golf R, and WRX STi all come standard with all-wheel-drive while the Civic Type R has to make due with putting its power through the same set of wheels that also steer the car. Ford and Volkswagen have available two lesser variants of their high-performance hatchbacks that also compete in the same segment as their beefier brethren; the Focus ST and Golf GTI, respectively. Both models are significantly less pricier than the Honda Civic Type R, nearly $10,000 less, but are also far less capable than the Honda and, at this point, probably far less desirable.

 

Granny shiftin' not double clutchin' like you should.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you, to decide what’s right for you and what you’re in the market to buy. Not your friends, not the musings of some self-absorbed writer in an overblown manufacturer-sponsored advertisement in any of the big name car magazines, not what the anonymous basement dwellers and social media trolls comment and post about on the Internet. It’s up to you, the shopper. The Honda Civic Type R is an automotive engineering marvel; a marriage made in Heaven between Japanese engineering and English-style sport driving dynamics, and a gift to the JDM Honda fans who kept the faith for so long while others across the globe got to enjoy what was never before accessible until now. Try one out for yourself and you be the judge. Tanoshinde kudasai, mates!

Kia adds a Turbo to its 2017 Soul lineup

2017 Soul Turbo

The internet is buzzing today with the news of a new Kia Soul model. Ok maybe not buzzing. You might be saying “It’s just a Kia Soul” which is completely reasonable however anytime you add a turbo to something people start to pay attention. The 2017 Kia Soul Exclaim is boasting 201 horsepower from a 1.6L 4 cylinder engine. What’s more is that Kia is claiming slightly better fuel efficiency than its base model engines. Mated to a 7 speed dual clutch transmission the Soul is shaping up to be a very fun and nimble little daily driver.

It will be interesting to see if Kia has made improvements to their 7 speed dual clutch after owner complaints about the similar unit in the Hyundai Tucson. Tucson owners have complained about dead spots in the cars acceleration that have come close to being dangerous. Many state that poor drivability ruins and otherwise excellent vehicle. Hopefully Hyundai and Kia can get that worked out before the new Soul Exclaim gets released.

Aside from performance updates the Exclaim model comes decked out with 18 inch wheels, unique badges, dual chrome exhaust tips, body trim enhancements and some mild interior tweaks. No specific release dates have been announced, but expect it to hit dealers soon as a 2017 model.   

Loan amounts and payments hit all time high!

carloan_412133_600

We all know prices of new cars are not going down so obviously loan amounts are going up, but the thing that hurts is how much. Most of us need a car to get back and forth to work. I’m not saying that we need a new car but sometimes there is no other option and some deals are to hard to pass up.

The average amount financed for a new vehicle is $28,381 and that was a record setter for the fourth quarter of 2014. This was an increase of $950 from the year earlier quarter and a rise of $582. The rise in transaction prices parallels that in amount financed. In December light vehicle transaction prices rose nearly 3 percent year-over-year to $34,367, making December the highest month on record for average transaction prices.

Experian’s data showed that the average new vehicle payment also hit a record in the fourth quarter, reaching $482, up from $471 in the year-earlier period. The average used-vehicle loan rose to $18,411 in the fourth quarter but this was not a record setter.

With these loans and payments hitting all time highs I have to wonder how most average people can afford a new car. Most baseline smaller cars are in the $20,000 range but once you start getting to your four wheel drive crossover/SUV territory prices start to sky rocket. Up here in New England it is almost needed to have an all wheel or 4 wheel drive car, especially this winter.

Get Ready North America, Fiat is here!

I’m personally undecided about how well Fiat may or may not do coming back to the US. I look at the Fiat 500 and think for me at 6’2, it would appear a little small. On the other hand I’m really interested in the performance of the car. The car only packs 100hp but the car itself weighs half the of a mid 90’s honda civic which had only a few pony’s more.

Lets face it, the US needs efficient small cars. It needs to be OK for people to drive them instead of massive SUV’s. The status level of these compacts needs to get away from embarrassing and get more towards acceptable. I think so far Fiat is on the right track in changing the compact car image. They’ve launched a really well done music video called “Get Ready” to promote the car. Check it out below!