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Monday
Jul212014

2014 Honda Civic

2014 Honda Civic EX Coupe

1.8L 4 Cylinder 148 HP with 5 Speed Manual Transmission

Dyno Blue Pearl with Charcoal Cloth Interior

The photo gallery/slide show of the Civic...click

Last time we experienced a Civic was almost 2 years ago. We were anxious to spend a few days with the restyled Civic again.

Yes, its the best selling car in Canada for countless years now, in a very competitive segment. The message is clear this car is loved by Canadians.

The Civic does everything well in a discreet fashion, and you would not expect anything else.

The styling is discreet with a subdued street presence which still conveys the message that its a Honda. The fastback roof line conveys a sporty appearance, the black accented alloy wheels reinforce the sport styling of the car. The restyled front fascia ads a touch of boldness.

The cloth interior is well crafted with attention to all the details. The digital instrument panel is refreshingly different with the center mounted tachometer. The screen in the center of the dash is the correct size, the sound system augments your level of enjoyment. The right hand side Blind Spot camera is an appreciated feature, in addition to the back up camera.

The front seats are comfortable and supportive, with a wide range of manual adjustments. Obvious that the rear seat is for occasional use only.

You can configure your own Civic here.

Its a car that pleases such a wide spectrum of buyers, and drives in a competent, assured fashion.

Our tester had a 5 speed manual transmission. You have to wonder why not a 6 speed? There is a good level of power, the shifter is smooth, the performance is middle of the road. The steering is on center, the brakes are up to the task. 

Its not a car that will encourage you to get exhuberant, but it does reassure by its middle of the road competence. 

If you are seeking a car in this segment be it a sedan or a coupe. The Civic surely appeared on your radar, or was suggested to you. Make it a point to experience the version that you are seeking.

The quick review

 

 

Wednesday
May282014

2014 Ford Fiesta ST

2014 Ford Fiesta ST

1.6L 4 cylinder 197 HP Ecoboost with 6 Speed Manual Transmission

Molten Orange with Charcoal / Orange Interior

The photo gallery/slide show of the Fiesta...Click

This Fiesta ST is small with a strong fun factor to make it an interesting car. In addition to having all the styling cues that augment its street presence, while setting it apart. 

The Fiesta captured our attention a few years ago, and we still think its a cool car. 

The ST version raises the coolness, and exhuberance factor to another level.

The street presence of our tester n Molten Orange is bold, forceful, unique, augmented by an authoritative exhaust sound from the dual pipes.  The ST styling accents from the black grille to the rear spoiler are subtle, distinctive, youthful. Instantly conveying the message there is something special about this car.

The Recaro seats reinforce the uniqueness of this car, they are bold, comfortable, while holding you securely in place. While raising the cool factor to the next level, and capturing the attention of the entire Strada Crew. The interior is appealing, while the materials are in line with the price segment of the car. 

The controls are intuitive, the center screen is easy to navigate, yes...automatic climate control in a small car. The sound system is good too, the rear seat is acceptable for adults considering the size of the car. The rear hatch and fold down rear seat enhance the versatility when having to carry oversize items.

You can configure your Fiesta...here.

How does it drive?

The folks at Ford sweated details that make it a pocket performance car. The car immediately communictes a sense that its purpose is to generate a hogher fun factor. Its has a good level of power considering the size of the engine. The transmission is a joy to shift up or down, the electric power steering is direct and precise, the brakes are strong.

Torque steer is almost non existant with the included Torque Vectoring Control.

Yes this car is small, nimble, and encourages exhuberant driving. The sport tuned suspension, which makes the ride a little hard is a joy in situations where you want to get a little aggressive.

This version of the Fiesta inspires a high level of confidence and competence, be it in cornering situations, highway cruising, and navigating surface streets. Its always ready to perform.

There are many choices of small performance cars, and if you are considering one, the Fiesta ST will impress you by the attention Ford applied to the details that make it a well designed and thought. Make it a point to experience the Fiesta ST for yourself...you will be impressed.

The quick review:

 

 

 

Tuesday
Mar252014

2014 Infiniti Q50

2014 Infiniti Q50 S

3.7L V6 328 HP with 7 Speed Automatic Transmission

Platinum Ice Metallic with Graphite Leather

The photo gallery/slide show of the Q50...click.

We have had memorable times with the various Infinitis we experienced. Needless to mention we were anxious to see how the new Q50 would compare. 

As expected we were pleasantly surprised.

The fastback sedan styling is discreet, refined, with flowing lines, and authoritative exhaust pipes, while clearly communicating that its an Infiniti. 

The interior is well executed, with excellent materials, and attention to detail. The front seats are supremely comfortable with the adjustable cushion lenght as a bonus.

The rear seat provides good leg room for adults, in addition to easy access.

The center of the dash with the double screens is striking by its simplicity, and intuitive use. In addtion to all the expected features, be it navigation, a superior sound system, climate control. This tester had a drive mode display with several choices...a totally cool feature.

You can configure your own Q50 here.

How does it drive? The previous G versions had a distinctive Infiniti personality, and we expected this to carry over into the Q50. 

The 3.7L V6 upholds the Infiniti growl, delivering abundant levels of power. Throttling up the Q50 is a pleasant experience appealing to the senses. 

The S version has a finely tuned suspension which is as expected a little on the stiff side. Its winter, the pavement is cold, the car has winter tires. During a few moments of better road conditions, the brilliance of the suspension, the advantage of an adjustable steering feel emerge into a Wow moment .

Infiniti calls it "Direct Adaptive Steering" (steer by wire), if you wondered for a moment why anyone would go the length of developing a steer by wire system. Driving this Q50, selecting the various driving modes which alter the steering modes...its a cool experience. Negotiating 90 degree turns with little more than the flick of the wrists is also very cool.

The lingering thought "This car must be exhuberant in on/off ramps, pity its winter".

From our perspective the Q50 upholds the tradition established by the G, and the S version of the Q50 ads an additional sporting aspect. Its truly a luxury sport sedan with a heightened fun factor.

In a busy and competitive segment with a myriad of choices from worthy manufacturers. Why should you consider a Q50?

This car has an undeniable sporting nature in its DNA, always did, and still does. If you are seeking a luxury sedan with an empahasis on sport, fun, a lively engine, great brakes, superlative steering. Make it a point to experience the Q50.

 

The quick review

 

 

Tuesday
Feb182014

2014 Toyota Corolla - Its Efficient

2014 Toyota Corolla S

1.8L 4 Cylinder 132 HP with CVT Transmission

Barcelona Red Metallic with Black SoftTex Leather Interior

The photo gallery/slide show of the Corolla...click.

Must be the TV advertising that prompted us to experience the new Corolla, and during our time with the car we also experienced an appreciable snow fall...its all good.

The styling of this newest version breathes life into the established conservative image of the Corolla. The car is different enough to set it apart, make it stand out, have a street presence that resonates. While still keeping the iconic Toyota styling cues that immediately communicate its identity.

The interior is impressive for a car in this segment and price range. It catches your attention with the detail stitching on the dash and door panels, the contrasting piping on the seats, and the SoftTex leather. In this tester the power seat is power adjustable too.

The seats are comfortable, with adequate shoulder room for the front passenger, while the rear seat is good for adults with acceptable leg and head room. 

The center of the dash touch screen is bigger than expected, the back up camera is a cool feature, the 6 speaker sound system is good, the heated front seats are an appreciated feature. Yes...automatic climate control...totally cool and surprising in this segment.

You can configure and price your own Corolla.

How does it drive? 

Agreed the engine coupled to the CVT in Eco mode is a little buzzy, although one gets quickly accustomed to the sound. At the same time the CVT is great and reassuring in heavy snow transmitting smooth power for maximum traction. The CVT in Sport mode is a revelation, emulating shifts, and tighter aggressive ratios...very cool.

This car is competent on surface streets, with a precise steering feel, and goos brakes, and surprisingly quiet at highway speeds. Obvious it facilitates navigating parking lots, aided by the back up camera and unemcumbered visibility. Its expected from a Toyota...this new Corolla does not dissapoint in being competent and reassuring,

Before we forget...the headlamps are phenomenal.

At a time when many are resorting to CUV's, this car is a genuine revelation in serious snow, with impeccable traction for a FWD car...yes the car had winter tires.

Our initial reservations towards the CVT were quickly subdued when we selected sport mode and the personality of the car immediately acquired several levels of aggressivity. The ratios in the CVT are altered, the transmission now behaves as of its actually shifting gears, with an appreciable elevation in the performance that 132 HP can deliver.

In a segment with many established competitors, Toyota has done their due diligence with the feature content of this car, and its starting price point of $ 19,215. its a lot of car for the money.

 

The quick revue

 

 

Tuesday
Jan072014

2014 Cadillac CTS - Impressive

2014 Cadillac CTS 4

3.6L V6 321 HP with 6 Speed Automatic Transmission

Phantom Grey Metallic with Jet Black Leather

The photo gallery/slide show of the CTS...click.

The opportunity to spend a few days with a CTS appeared from nowhere, and yes...we jumped. Suddenly its cold, its snowing, its not the ideal time, or perhaps it is since this tester is an AWD car.

Needless to mention that scheduling the photo shoot was interesting.

Our expectations for the CTS are high and unforgiving. Especially that Cadillac has been renewing itself for a few years now. 

This car is truly impressive, and world class. If you remember the historical line "Standard of the World" its refreshing to see Cadillac uphold the tradition. 

The styling is genuine Cadillac, with softer, refined angles. Accompanied by a bolder grille, and Cadillac insignia. Yes...including the fastback sedan look for which we have an appreciation. The front LED lights make for an unmistakable street presence. At the rear the rectangular exhaust outlets, the subtle spoiler enhance the presence. Everyone immediately knows that its a luxury car, and a Cadillac.

The interior is meticulously crafted, with detail stitching, perforated leather, carbon fiber paneling, and leather that smells and feels like leather. The front seats are snug, comfortable, with an adjustable lenght seat cushion, lumbar support. The rear seat leg room is excellent.

We are not going to list all the features, in a luxury car we expect a superior sound system, the 13 speaker Bose Surround Sound is up to the task. We expect above avarage technology, the Rear Cross Traffic Alert aiding the back up camera is totally cool especially dealing with parking lots during the holiday rush.

The Adaptive Cruise Control is a revelation, in highway and congestion (typical in the GTA) this car literally controls its own speed, accelerates, brakes by itself...it captures the imagination.

Obvious all the other features from heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seat, side blind spot, automatic seat belt tightening, panorama roof, heated steering wheel. to name a few are all present. As well as CUE which we find easy and intuitive to use.

In the segment of luxury cars this CTS is a serious contender with the very best when it comes to features, technology, and interior finishing.

The engine compartment is striking by how well its finished, and reinforces that the folks at Cadillac exerted an extra effort.

You can configure your own CTS...here.

How does it drive?

You absolutely do not expect this car to drive and perform in such a competent, confidence inspiring fashion. Its a luxury sport sedan...we repeat its a luxury sport sedan. Although we had snow most of the time, the dry pavement moments were revealing, good power, responsive transmission algorithm, precise steering, superior Brembo brakes. 

This CTS encourages exhuberance, while telegraphing that you should get even more exhuberant...this car quickly becomes intoxicating. Augmented by an authoritative growl from the engine, abundant passing power reinforced by a quick acting transmission. We need to mention that on/off ramps are a treat...a genuine Wow moment in an all wheel drive car.

The snow fall provided an opportunity to experience the all wheel drive, which is seamless, and confidence inspiring, even if our tester had 19 inch all season tires. Yes...we preferred to be cautious on snow.

Its not inexpensive, we have come to understand that all premium cars are priced in the higher margins, the CTS is no exception...it costs every manufacturer more money to build a premium car.

If you are considering a luxury sedan why should you consider a CTS compared to other well established brands. They are all good cars, but the CTS is a really good car...it will reset your expectations. 

The quick review.