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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.

 

 

 

Wednesday
Dec182013

2014 Buick Encore - Its Cute

2014 Buick Encore AWD

1.4 L Turbocharged 4 Cylinder 138 HP with 6 Speed Automatic Transmission

Deep Espresso Brown Metallic with Saddle Leather Appointed Interior

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

Last time we were in Oshawa we caught a glimpse of the Buick Encore, first thought..."its a good looking small CUV". We were anxious to finally spend a few days with the Encore.

Although styling is a personal preference, we find the Encore appealing, the size, the lines, the fact that its a Buick its all cool. The Encore is part of the emerging small CUV segment which is rapidly gaining popularity in Canada.

Buick is in a unique niche of the small CUV segment.

The comment "Its a cute little truck" was mentioned on several occasions by various folks. The Espresso Brown exterior with the Gun Metal wheels added to the distinctiveness of ths tester.

The interior is stylish with the two tone finish, and contrasting stitching which augments the sense of opulence. All the features that you would expect, from partial power seats, heated seats, heated steering wheel, satellite radio, back up camera to name a few are present. In addition to a good Bose sound system. The seats are comfortable and supportive. The side blind zone alert in the exterior rear view mirrors is very useful.

Lets not forget the automatic climate control.

The rear seat provides adequate room for adults. With the folding feature augmenting the cargo area, the front passenger seat also folds flat to allow truly bulky items in the cargo area.

The traditional higher seating position of a utility vehicle in a smaller package is interesting, it makes comparable small vehicles look even smaller.

You can configure the Buick Encore to your own requirements, and budget.

The fuel economy rating is 8.9L City and 6.7L Highway per 100 kilometers for the AWD version.

Yes...4 cylinder, all wheel drive, 138 HP raises a level of apprehension, even if the vehicle is small.

We were pleasantly surprised, the performance is dramatically better than the specifications would indicate. The shift algorithm on the smooth 6 speed automatic is well calibrated to the capacity of the engine. Our tester never indicated that it was lacking in power especially on the highway (from the perspective of a small CUV with a small 4 cylinder). 

Its quiet, with a refined ride augmented by taunt handling. Its a Buick and you would expect it to be smooth, the Encore does not disappoint. At the same time, it feels like a bigger vehicle.

Its quiet, its smooth, which you expect it from a Buick. But its also sporty with a taunt suspension, a precise steering, solid on broken pavement, competent in on/off ramps, with truly impressive brakes for a CUV.

The drive and ride is more than we expected, and provided several wow moments with the usual "It drives really nice, and its very quiet".

If you are considering a small CUV, and probably did not think about Buick. We urge you to experience the Encore for yourself, from its well appointed interior, its superior driving qualities, and touches of luxury. You will be impressed.

The quick review.

 

 

 

Saturday
Nov302013

2013 Acura TSX

2013 Acura TSX

2.4L 4 Cylinder 201 HP with 6 Speed Close Ratio Manual Transmission

White Pearl with Ebony Leather

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

We had the unique opportunity to experience an outgoing model for a few days. We were left with the impression that it remains a cool car. Yes...we know the TSX is replaced by the ILX.

We also know that through the years there have been a myriad of comments and opinions directed at the TSX.

As expected the styling is middle of the road Acura conservative, with the iconic grille shield, and a discreet street presence. Upholding the tradition of Acura sedans in having conservative styling, with a subtle street presence. 

The interior is surprisingly well finished, with higher quality leather, and many soft touches. Compared to numerous cars in the segment where you wonder where the leather came from, and accompanied by hard surfaces. The TSX is a pleasant surprise.

The controls are easy, intuitive, with a conservative dash layout. Great sound system, useful back up camera, easy to use power seats, yes the centre dash screen could be a little bigger. The rear seat has reasonable leg room to accomodate adults for short trips.

How does it drive?

First impression is that Acura understands how to mate a close ratio 6 speed transmission to its 4 cylinder engine. This car is fun to drive, the engine comes alive in the upper revolution range, the shifter is precise and easy...its a great combination.

The level of power is subdued, while the fun factor is elevated.

The steering is precise, the brakes are authoritative, and while most cars are solid on broken pavement this TSX is extra solid and confidence inspiring. Yes...the car inspires a level of exuberance.

Overall its a pleasant surprise to experience a competent car, with a high level of fit and finish, and a genuine sporting chracter with a responsive engine and a precise manual transmission.

The quick review