Monthly Archives: July 2014

2008 Honda S2000 CR Review

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Disclaimer: This car is not stock. This car has numerous mechanical and cosmetic upgrades. Driving experience may differ.

After decades of building economy cars, Honda sought to add excitement to its lineup. In the late 1980s-1990s, Honda started launching affordable sporty cars like the Del Sol, Prelude, Integra, and the not so affordable NSX . Even though the Prelude and Integra were popular, Honda still felt the need to add a rear wheel drive sports car that would be smaller and cheaper than the NSX. In 1995, Honda unveiled the SSM (Sport Study Model) concept at the Tokyo Auto Show. After this, Honda pushed forward with putting the SSM into production, and the S2000 was launched in April 1999 to commemorate Honda’s 50 year anniversary. Honda denoted the 2 in the S2000 name to denote a 2.0 liter four cylinder engine (In 2004, the S2000 received a 2.2 liter four cylinder), a tradition that heralds back to S500, S600, and S800 1960s roadsters which inspired the creation of the S2000. As a no frills sports car with a price just over 30 grand, the S2000 garnered praise from several publications worldwide due to its blend of high performance and typical Honda reliability. For 2004, the S2000 received a refresh and became the AP2 (the 1999-2003 was called the Ap1). It received a track ready Club Racer version in 2008 with more focus on less weight and better handling without a bump in horsepower. Sound deadening was removed to save weight, and the radio and air conditioning system became options. An aluminum hardtop was fitted, and the softop on non CR versions was removed to save weight as well as make room for a large additional chassis brace. The CR version was intended as a farewell gift to Honda engineer Shigeru Uehara as well as turning the S2000 into a track ready car that could be tracked on the weekend and driven to work on Monday.  Only 699 CRs were produced worldwide in the two years it was offered. Even when I was young, I have always coveted the S2000. I remember reading all the car magazines rave about this car, and having grown up with Hondas all my life, I knew that someday I needed to drive one. Continue reading

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2013 Nissan X-Trail ST Review

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During the beginning of the 21st century, the SUV rose to prominence in the automotive industry internationally. SUVs used to be big and heavy vehicles and out of reach for most consumers, but many automakers found ways to bring SUVs more affordable while retaining the appeal of an SUV. Nissan’s contender for the midsize market was the X-Trail which debuted in 2001. With the Xterra and Patrol as well as the Pathfinder, Nissan was famed for its lineup featuring off road worthy SUVs, and the X-Trail was no exception. The appeal of the X-Trail was that it did not sacrifice its ruggedness for more car-like characteristics like the Honda CR-V and Toyota Rav4 did. Nissan targeted the X-Trail towards an outdoorsy audience. Based off a platform shared with the Nissan Almera and Primera family sedans, the first generation of the X-Trail achieved success in Japan and Europe due to its combination of reliability and affordability as well as its go-anywhere ability. In just six years, Nissan sold almost a million X-Trails worldwide.  A second generation followed in 2007, and the X-Trail refined its virtues while remaining similar to the first. It was redesigned in 2014, and it follows the trend of carlike SUVs. It is the same as the Rogue we get in the States. Having the opportunity to visit Australia, I had to find out what the X-Trail was all about, and whether we Americans missed out. Continue reading

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2013 Tesla Model S Review

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Founded in California, Tesla’s first product was the 2008 all-electric Roadster derived from the Lotus Elise. Due to its high asking price and its compromised driveability, the Roadster was not the success that Tesla hoped for. In 2012, The Model S was launched. In contrast to the Roadster’s two seat configuration, the Model S is an electric sedan built from the ground up. Instead of using a conventional gasoline engine, the Model S relies on a battery accompanied by a motor. Tesla did not just innovate the modern sedan, it also changed the buying experience. Instead of buying from franchised dealers, consumers are able to test and order their Teslas from dedicated showrooms (think Apple Stores). Initially, I did not warm up to the idea of the electric car as I found the idea of a car running purely on electricity alien to me. But when given the opportunity to review my very first electric car, I could not say no. Continue reading

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