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2018 Volkswagen Golf R: The Best Premium Hot Hatch You Can Buy In North America?

You would think that a car like the Volkswagen Golf R (which, TL;DR I liked a lot), would lend itself to an easy review.  But it does not.  In fact, this is something like the sixth go at crafting something I’m willing to let see the light of day.

The reason for this is the fact that in the premium hot hatch market there are some great choices; Golf R, Ford Focus RS, and the Honda Civic Type R. It’s not that one car is better than the other, it really boils down to what fit’s your personality best.

Hear me out.

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First Drive 2019 Volkswagen Jetta: Mainstream American Family Sedan

When Volkswagen moved the Jetta down market with the sixth generation model, specifically designed and built for the North American market, there were more than a few enthusiasts who were disappointed as previous Jetta’s especially in GLI trim, gave you a bit of that BMW M driving experience at half the cost. The thing is, the move down market greatly increased sales, and at the end of the day, that is what a car company needs to do.

Now comes the all-new 2019 Jetta built on the MQB platform, though still specifically tailored for the North American market. Not that long ago the compact sedan segment was one of the main battlegrounds for all volume manufactures. Now with the market moving to CUV’s and SUV’s while the segment is still important, it’s not quite as critical, but that doesn’t mean OEM’s can slack off on quality, content, and pricing.

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We have questions for Jamal Hameedi Of Ford Performance

You might’ve noticed that Ford announced a few things during the Detroit Auto Show last week.  For most of you who frequent this site, it’s highly likely that the Bullitt Mustang was the highlight. Seeing the original movie car in totally unrestored condition was pretty choice.  The Ranger was expected and we will see that on the road in about 9-12 months as they finish changing over the Wayne Assembly plant from Focus to Ranger and then the future Bronco.  Speaking of the Bronc, it will be shown at the Detroit show next year and then go into production for 2020.  Amongst all of that awesome there was that somewhat of a head-scratcher in the Edge ST.

The Edge is a fine crossover but why do an ST version?  In case you haven’t noticed, crossovers greatly outsell sedans and hatchback. To dive into this and a few other items regarding Ford and the Detroit Auto Show, we sat down with Jamal Hameedi to have a bit of a chat.

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First Drive: Smart Electric Cabriolet
A funny thing happened on the way to my preconceptions

2018 smart Electric Cabrio

First and foremost, if you live outside a major metroplex or a resort area this car probably won’t work for you. If you do, then the Smart Electric may be something you need to look at. Hear me out.

Smart brought us to San Diego to have a go with the 2018 Smart Electric Cabrio. To explore the car, we had to explore the city by way of a scavenger hunt. Being San Diego, the weather was board of tourism perfect. That means 80ºF and sunshine all day. No roof required.

We were given three hours to dash in and around the city to find 19 different spots. Then we had to shoot photos in some of these and check in at others. Most people had a second person with them, I did not, so thankfully all the spots were programmed into the nav which made things much easier. As a side note, I finished third, even having missed one spot because I was running short on time.

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Perfecting Perfection: 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF

2017 Mazda MX-5 RF

The answer is always Miata (MX-5). At least that’s the stock answer when you ask an automotive enthusiast what car you should buy.

  • You have St Bernard you need to haul around? The answer is Miata and pull out the passenger seat.
  • You need to go to Home Depot or Lowes for lumber? The answer is Miata. Drop the top and bring some tie-downs.
  • Want a good winter beater? A Miata with winter tires and you’ll be fine.
  • Do you have a black tie formal event to attend with your special someone? Get them an Uber and take yourself in the Miata.

Having spent a week recently with the Olive Garden MX-5, otherwise known as the Fiat 124 Spider Abarth, I was swayed a bit in thinking the different styling and turbo motor may have had some advantage over the standard MX-5. A week in the MX-5 RF, however, had reminded me why you should stick with the original. Even if I’m still not the biggest fan of the styling with the RF, I concede that it may be the version to get over the standard soft top

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Epilogue: When Auto Journos Don’t Heed Their Own Damn Advice

It was just over a year ago I had to replace my daily because of a catastrophic failure, the frame around the right rear suspension had rusted away. As detailed in a post about (buying a German car out of warranty without a PPI) I acquired a 2007 Mercedes E350 4Matic wagon which had a few issues I found out after the fact.

For the last twelve months, I’ve driven the wagon with almost no issues, a flat tire and I had to replace the front brakes. Other than that it had been mint. I’d taken it on several trips over 500 miles and it was fantastic. The car was quiet, comfortable for those long trips, and it returned 24mpg on the highway. It hauled my Mastiff around, swallowed all kinds of items from Home Depot, in other words, it was exactly the vehicle I had hoped it to be.

Then, it all went pear-shaped.

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2017 Bathurst 1000 Preview

Eric Trytko October 6, 2017 Bathurst, Motorsports

The end of September and beginning of October are circled on Australian racing fans calendars, like Memorial Day weekend for Indy Car fans and mid-June for sports car fans. Memorial Day is the Indy 500, mid-June, the 24 hours of LeMans, the end of September is an equally historic and important race, it’s the Bathurst 1000 at Mt. Panorama.

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The False Neutral Episode #71 Pete’s Back And The AIMExpo

Pete is back for this episode!  We catch up with him and his adventure to the recent AIMExpo in Columbus, OH, he saw a lot of interesting things there so we talk about that, catch up on his project bikes.

Photo’s for most of the items we talk about are after the break.


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A Week With The Rugged Ridge Mango Jeep

Back in June, I took a trip down to the Atlanta area to visit Omix-ADA/Rugged Ridge.  While down there with a number of other journalists we toured their warehouse and museum and got to take several of their historic Jeeps for a drive around the industrial park in which the offices resides.  We also took several modified JK Jeeps out to drive offroad through some North Georgia trails and through a few water crossings.

One of the Jeeps that we drove on the trail, the one they called Mango, was shipped up to Detroit and put in the local press fleet.  For whatever reason, most pubs didn’t so much as get the rig dirty.  When I was ed to see if I’d like to review the Mango Jeep, I said SURE and in doing so was determined to drive it in the environment it was designed for, as well as see how it did the daily grind.

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Jaguar Shows off E-PACE And Sportbrake in Detroit

As part of Jaguar’s Art Of Performance Tour, the company made a stop in Detroit and invited the media to hear Chief Designer Ian Callum talk about the new E-PACE and Sportbrake and the transformation of Jaguar over the last five years.

The E-PACE is set to take on the Mercedes GLC, BMW X3, Lexus NX and Alfa Romeo Stelvio, and when you look at that competitive class, the new Jag does seem to be a nice balance of all the above.

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