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Quick Spin: 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI SE

The GTI shouldn’t need an introduction. Even its model name, despite being used on many other cars, can only be related to one vehicle without further specification. In the decades that the GTI has been around it remained shockingly true to its roots – a hot-hatch version of the Volkswagen Golf.

For 2018, the evolution of the recipe continues and remains amazingly simple: a turbocharged 220hp (@4700rpm) and 258lb.-ft. (@1500rpm) four-cylinder engine, a choice of a proper manual or dual-clutch (automatic-ish) transmissions, plaid cloth or leather seats, and some other minor options available across three model trims. The functional and fun-to-drive GTI is topped off with a reasonable price, too.  

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Mystery Car

Kamil Kaluski July 9, 2018 Mystery Car

This Mystery Car thing isn’t easy. If I put up something that’s almost common someone will say “I remember when Mystery Car was good…” Put up something obscure and someone will say “I’m not even trying anymore! I can’t identify car with a total production of three by its gas cap!” And then, three minutes later, someone not only identifies the car but says who owns it, where it is currently located, and what TV show it made an appearance at.

Without further bitching on my part, please identify today’s mystery car. Make and model, please. I’ll even give a hint – despite the panel gaps and the cool door handles, this is not a Tesla. Click below to see what last week’s Mystery Car was and congratulate , as he is now The Person of the Moment!!

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Spy Shots! 2019 Porsche 911 (992) Turbo (with a capital T)

The new generation of the Porsche 911 is right around the corner. If we have learned anything about the 911 is that it will look slightly different but otherwise will be similar to the outgoing model. Yet, it will be a lot better in every measurable way. It’s a Porsche thing, you wouldn’t, and you shouldn’t try to, understand. 

The Turbo model used to be the king of 911s. Until the Turbo S came around. Then that was the king. Until the GT2 came around. The GT2 lived a short but happy life until the GT2 RS came about. I won’t even mention the Turbo S Exclusive Series. Needless to say, the 911 Turbo is sort of a mid-pack model now days. Think about the Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited – once the top, now a mid-pack model – kind of like that.

Here is where it gets more tricky. All the Porsche 911s are turbocharged now, except for the GT3 and/or GT3 RS. So calling the Turbo model Turbo is a bit redundant. It’s basically a trim model name now, the fastest standard 911, as in a civilized 911, as opposed to the not-so-standard uncivilized GT2s and GT3 versions. The Turbo is also typically available as a Cabrio model, whereas the GTs are not. 

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Review: 2018 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring

It seems that almost every week someone asks me about three-row SUVs. People want them because they appreciate the extra space as well as the functionality of the third row seats for when they have to transport their kids and their kids’ friends. The questions are pretty much the same. As are my answers. But it wasn’t until recently that someone asked which three-row SUV is the best handling?

Hmm. The likely answer would the BMW X5 or the Audi Q7. But those are so-called premium vehicles, priced out of the range of the typical peasants stuck in 9-to-5-and-all-other-times-because-of-cell-phone-technology jobs. The person who asked the question was curious about the common vehicles such as Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, or Ford Explorer.

I had to really think about this, not realizing that the answer was so obvious. The truth is that none of these vehicles are particularly good handlers. Except one. And it’s the one that’s often overlooked and frequently underrated – the Mazda CX-9.

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Roadtrip 2018 – Northern Italy, part 1: Renting the right car

My life was so much different before my kids were born. We used to travel a lot, all over the world. Even weekends spent home were not spent at home. Year round I’d find somewhere new to go, something new to see, near and far.

Over the last ten years I feel like I have lost that. Young kids require routines and schedules. To go somewhere, anywhere with them is a mission. They require stuff, lots of stuff. They’re on an eating, sleeping, and pooping schedule. They get bored of everything very quickly. I love my kids but admittedly traveling with them wasn’t always easy.

Time goes by fast. It seems to go by much faster as we get older, which is quite scary. Insert your choice a proverb about life being short here. My kids are older now, six and ten years old. They are easier to deal with, sometimes. They don’t get bored as quickly. They’re less scheduled. Therefore my wife and I concluded that we should hit the road.

This year’s trip is Italy. Specifically Rome and points north of Rome. She found cheap airfare. I’ve booked an AirBnB in Rome, near the Spanish Steps. Now we need a vehicle for time after we leave Rome.

I’m going to write a series of articles about the preparations for this trip. What I need to bring with me, where we need to go, where I want to go. I really haven’t figured out any of this it yet, so read along and perhaps help me out.

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Mystery Car

Kamil Kaluski June 29, 2018 Mystery Car

There are two kinds of people in this world: those that knew right away what last week’s mystery car was and those who haven’t had a slightest clue. Big congratulations go to the mysterious commenter , who not only knew what car it was but also the fact that it belonged to my cousin Darek. RP, you are The Person of the Moment! Congrats.

If you want to read, or re-read, the story of that Polonez, clicky here. I should also note that Darek has since sold the Polonez because he needed something that, you know, ran most of the time. And had some power. And was actually fun to drive. And that women wouldn’t be afraid of. He bought a MINI Clubman, the previous gen from current.  

Since summer is now in full swing, at least north of equator, today’s mystery car would be a sweet little toy to drive around this weekend. Make and model, or as close you can get, please. The giant among people who correctly identifies this beast will get the elusive title of The Person of the Moment! Good luck! The answer next week, same place but not necessarily same time. 

Photo credit: Peter Ciani

Quick Spin: 2019 Acura RDX

In 2007, based on the sales successes of the Honda CR-V, Acura launched the RDX. In the days when automakers tried to shoehorn the biggest V6 into the smallest CUVs (see ‘05-‘12 Toyota RAV4), the smaller sibling to the MDX came with a very different engine – a turbocharged four-cylinder. Annual sales were not very strong, peaking at around 15,000 units, roughly a tenth of the CR-V sales.

At the time, the turbo-four seemed an odd choice for such a vehicle. The media complained that it had the power of a four-cylinder and the economy of a V6. In 2013, Acura ended up dropping the four-banger in favorite of its corporate V6 workhorse. The vehicle gained some love and sales more than doubled in the life of the second generation model.

It’s now 2018. Engine downsizing and turbocharging is the thing. In the last decade that technology has made huge leaps forward. Even much bigger three-row SUVs dropped the V6 in favor of turbocharged fours. The new turbo-fours are quite amazing, with my favorite being versions I sampled on the BMW 530i and the Honda Accord.

For the 2019 model year the RDX is back and now all new. It’s gone back to the turbo-four using a version of the new Honda corporate big engine. But there’s a lot more going on than just that.

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Mystery Car

Kamil Kaluski June 22, 2018 Mystery Car

This week, the summer of 2018 has officially began. This also means that most of the winter potholes have been repaired. You can now truly enjoy that top-down drive in your roadster that only comes out for a few days per year, if you have such a vehicle. Go ahead, take it up to buck-thirty like the driver of today’s Mystery Car did. Knowing what make and model of a vehicle he or she was driving is the important part for now.

Regarding last week’s Mystery Car, those who guessed Alfa Romeo were right.  But no one really got the model name right, which was really more of a guessing game than anything. Regardless,  is The Person of the Moment!

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Quick Spin: 2018 BMW X2 xDrive28i

In 2016 I drove the then new BMW X1. I liked it perhaps more than I should have. It wasn’t even until I opened the hood that I realized that this was the first Bimmer that I’ve driven with a transversely mounted engine. Earlier this year I drove the MINI Cooper Countryman, a base version with a manual transmission. It was a surprisingly fun little ‘ute despite being kind of slow.

So when the new X2 appeared at my house I sort of knew what to expect. At least I thought I knew. … Continue Reading

Mystery Car

Kamil Kaluski June 15, 2018 Mystery Car

On June 17th we celebrate Bunker Hill Day, which is the anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill. “This battle, which occurred in 1775, was part of the Siege of Boston. This siege took place during the American Revolutionary War, which is also known as the American War of Independence” (). The Charlestown section of Boston celebrates it with a parade down Bunker Hill Avenue. There are cook-outs (don’t call them barbecues), prizes for kids, and towing of illegally parked cars. It’s all fun and games and someone always gets arrested. 

It would therefore make sense that today’s Mystery Car be British. But it isn’t. We’ve had too many British Mystery Cars lately. Make and model, please. This one should be relatively easy, I give it an hour.

Last week’s Mystery Car, a GAZ Chaika M13, was solved by , so please bow to him as he’s the Person of the Moment!®©

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