I’ve got this friend, let’s call him Chris. Chris is a car guy. He is actually the editor of one of my favorite automotive websites. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of modern cars as well as ones stretching back to at least the 1960s. He drives a 2008 Cadillac CTS with the upgraded 3.6 liter DI V6, providing 304 HP to move the rear-wheel drive sport sedan. I knew Chris would be shopping for an all-season tire to replace worn OEM tires. Still, I was surprised when I recently read a post on his Facebook wall stating that he was going to choose replacement tires based on a Consumer Reports ranking of tires. The magazine which ranks household appliances and their automotive equivalents is a fine choice for selecting transportation appliances and tires for them, but is hardly the place to start when shopping for enthusiast products of any type.
Lexus automobiles have a [deserved] reputation for being tuned for comfort and isolation than for performance, sport, or even fun. They are typically among the quietest on the road, and they’re able to gobble up mile after mile of highway driving, coddling their driver and passengers in buttery-soft leather, numb steering, and soft brakes. There are many people for whom that description holds appeal.
For the subset of the general population repulsed at the idea of experiencing complete isolation in one’s luxury automobile, Lexus has begun to branch out a bit from its softness. There’s the IS-F (a car we love), IS 350 F Sport, LFA supercar, and now the GS 350 F Sport.
I seldom read the press releases anymore that automakers and their media consultants dump into my inbox by the hundreds each week. Time is too scarce for me to spend absorbing all the minutae of sales figures, new trim levels, and strategic social media partnerships that fill my Autosavant inbox. That said, when I saw the subject line reading “2013 BMW ALPINA B7 super-high performance luxury sedan…” I had to open the message. Continue Reading →
Way back in 2009, I was fortunate to spend a week in the then-new Jaguar XF sedan. The XF broke new stylistic ground for Jaguar, pulling the company out of a rut of quad-headlamp sedan sameness that they’d been in, literally, for decades. Back then, I thought the XF looked awesome and drove even better.
By Kevin Miller
The letter R used to carry a lot of weight at Volvo. The designator for Volvo’s highest performance cars, the R line reached its apogee in model years 2004-2007, when the S60R and V70R were 300 HP, AWD Volvos with Volvo’s first electronically-damped 4C suspension, available manual transmissions, large Brembo brakes, blue-faced instruments, full-leather upholstered seats in custom-colored interiors. Envisioned as halo cars, the R series were the most powerful Volvos ever produced, but they never sold in large numbers, and the erstwhile performance moniker was quietly shelved when the vehicles on which they were based ceased production.
By Kevin Miller
I am no stranger to 300 HP, midsized Volvos. As the original owner of a 2004 Volvo V70R, I’ve watched the development of the S60’s second generation with great interest. As the original S60 remained in production long past its sell-by date, Volvo needed a replacement that could continue the original car’s’s style, while improving on rear seat room and the original S60’s now-antiquated in-car electronics.
Volvo has launched the S60 with a marketing campaign referring to the car as the Naughty Volvo. While the new S60 T6 AWD does not carry the R moniker, it probably could. Rated 300 HP, with a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transaxle, the car does a much better job of smoothly transferring power to the ground than the R-series cars ever did, and Volvo’s latest-generation AWD system makes the car feel less front-heavy than one would be expect, given the car’s front-drive-based foundation. Unfortunately, neither a manual transmission nor the V60 wagon version of the vehicle are destined for the US market.
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