Tag Archives: automotive review

2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible Review

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Before this review, the 2012 Nissan GT-R that I reviewed had the most horsepower of any car I have reviewed. That is not the case anymore. Another car has claimed the title of having the most horsepower of any car that I have reviewed, and that is the 2013 Chevrolet ZL1. 580 horsepower mated to a six speed manual transmission. Before I get into the review itself, I should start with the expected introduction about what exactly is the ZL1 model and how it differentiates itself from other Camaros. Alongside the regular Camaro, the ZL1 originated in late 1960’s, 1969 to be exact. This is a little complicated, so do not take my word on the history of the ZL1. It is my understanding that the ZL1 came to fruition because Chevrolet dealers wanted bigger engines available for the Camaros. 69 models were made in 1969. Its exclusivity and performance made it a rare and coveted Camaro for car collectors (Do not take my word on the history of the ZL1). In 2012, the ZL1 was revitalized as a performance version of the Camaro. Even though I have already reviewed a Camaro, a SS version, I was keen on trying out the ZL1. As mentioned, the 580 horsepower engine makes for one memorable Camaro. The question is, is the ZL1 worth it?  Continue reading

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2015 Roush Mustang Stage 1 Review

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Even though this is my 5th Mustang review, I am going to say again that this is not your typical Mustang. In fact, it is not just a Ford Mustang. Rather, it is a Roush Mustang. I should explain. Roush is a separate tuning division that specializes in Ford vehicles, namely Mustangs and F-150s. Jack Roush, a famous automotive figure in motorsports racing, worked as an engineer for Ford. Possessing a passion for hot rods and NASCAR as well as Mustangs, Roush sought to make a car that combined all three. In 1988, Roush presented Ford with the first Roush Mustang which featured a 400 horsepower twin turbo engine. Unfortunately, this car did not take off as costs of mass producing the Roush Mustang was too high for Ford. Roush started his own company, Roush Performance Products. Initially, it consisted of fitting aftermarket packages to Mustangs. The first actual Roush Mustang with the complete Roush package inside and out was born in 1998. Roush sought to narrow the gap between street and track, and as such the Roush Mustangs are fitted with performance and exterior modifications. This is not your ordinary Mustang. The objective behind the Roush Mustang was to give the Mustang the driving dynamics and looks of a racer. The Roush treatment has also been applied to the F-150 truck. As I mentioned earlier, this is my 5th Mustang review. However, I have not reviewed the latest Mustang which came out in 2015. The current third generation Roush Mustang comes in four flavors: RS, Stage 1 (RS1), Stage 2 (RS2), and Stage 3 (RS3). The Mustang in this review is the Stage 1, which comes with the turbo four. Don’t worry, I made sure it was a manual transmission! I was a bit nervous about testing the new Mustang as it looks like a completely different car inside and out.  The latest Mustang is now a global car, so Ford developed the car in line with other markets’ preferences. What that does to the Mustang, I will have to find out. Continue reading

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1999 BMW 328i Review

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Just from judging from the title of this review, you guys are probably thinking that I have an obsession with the 3-Series. That can be justified considering that I have reviewed a 1990 M3, 1994 325i, 2001 330i, 2009 328i, 2010 328i, 2011 335i, and a 2013 328i, and now I can add the 1999 328i to the mix. What makes this car so special? Well for starters, it is a manual transmission model of the coveted E46 generation. I say coveted because to this day, many car enthusiasts still regard the E46 generation (1999-2005) as one of the finest 3 Series ever produced. As with most nameplates, the 3-Series grew in size and comfort with every iteration, but this E46 represents a fine balance of what the 3 Series used to be: handling and poise in a right-sized package. Now for the traditional history lesson, the 3-Series debuted during the oil crisis. Replacing the 2002, the first 3 Series, the E21 (1975-1981) generation, was sold only in a two door format as a coupe or convertible. Known for its memorable driving dynamics and perky engines combined with its tidy size, the E21 cemented BMW’s reputation as a maker of ultimate driving machines. Five generations succeeded the E21, and with the exception of the latest 3-Series, the successive generations have all upheld the BMW tradition of providing excellent handling and performance in a luxurious package. The generation in review is the E46 which debuted in the United States in 1999. Whereas the previous generation (E36) didn’t deliver the driving experience as expected of a BMW (but it still drove quite well), this generation set a new performance benchmark for its class. This was the car that made other luxury brands take notice, and it is not hard to see why. In 2002, more than 560,000 units were sold worldwide, an impressive achievement for a luxury car. Even though I have already reviewed a 330i some time ago, I wanted to try out the less powerful variant, a 328i, especially with the manual transmission.  Continue reading

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2007 Volvo XC90 3.2 and 2014 Volvo XC90 3.2 Premier Plus Review

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Over Christmas Break, we had a gathering in which I encountered a family friend. Amid a discussion, I learned that this person and his family currently own three Volvos, two of which are XC90s. Inevitably, I jumped at the chance to review the Volvos. Much to my dismay, I learned that the XC90s are in fact essentially the same car with the same engine choice, albeit with slight cosmetic and trim differences. I thought why not just combine these two cars into a review? With the SUV boom taking over the market in the early 2000s, safety innovator Volvo found itself without a suitable SUV to capitalize on this newly emerging trend. As a result, the XC90 debuted in 2002 as a 2003 model. The XC90 was designed with safety and versatility in mind, two traits that appealed to families. It quickly became Volvo’s best selling vehicle worldwide (in 2005), and it garnered the North American Car of the Year Award in 2003. I remember reading one of Jeremy Clarkson’s books (A former Top Gear host), and when the Volvo XC90 was brought up, it was noted that he’s had three of them. I remember that he said, “The Volvo XC90 seems like it was designed by engineers who actually have children, not just read about them in books.” I thought, if Jeremy Clarkson, one of the most critical and irrational people on the planet likes the Volvo XC90, then it must be good. Let’s see if I feel the same one about these XC90s.  Continue reading

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2014 Mazda6 Grand Touring Review

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Believe it or not, making a sports car is a cake walk compared to making a family sedan. As the number one most competitive car market in the US, the family car competition is hotly contested with contenders from every mainstream manufacturer. For decades, Honda and Toyota have reigned supreme, although in the last few years, their title as best sellers has been lessened. One of the reasons for this is Mazda’s midsize sedan, the 6. As a replacement for the aging and uninspiring 626, the 2003 Mazda6 ushered Mazda into a new era (as did the smaller 3 sedan/hatch the following year). Prior to 2002, Mazda was a very different manufacturer. Instead of prioritizing style and driving enjoyment, its approach was very similar to Kia and Hyundai at the time: affordable and basic transportation. Unfortunately, this approach meant that Mazdas were humdrum (with the exception of the Miata and RX-7). With this in mind, Mazda started completely renovating its entire lineup with sportiness in mind. The first generation Mazda6 debuted in 2003, and it was praised highly by critics alike. Accolades were given to its youthful styling, spirited performance, excellent handling, and the availability of manual transmissions with every engine. Truth be told, it was perceived as a sedan version of the Miata. However, this did not translate into sales success. It sold well, but it couldn’t hold a candle to the Toyota Camry or the Honda Accord. The reason being? It was simply too small and narrow for American tastes, which is not surprising considering the first generation 6 was very popular in Europe (where smaller cars are more welcomed). The 2008-2012 second generation remedied the size issue, but in the process, it lost the handling in exchange for more space. Even with this approach, it still did not sell well (relatively). In 2013, Mazda redesigned the 6 sedan with an emphasis on driving enjoyment, fuel efficiency, and style.  Continue reading

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2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Review

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When foreigners judge Americans in terms of cars, the first thing that pops to mind are pickup trucks. Which makes sense considering that a Ford F-Series truck has been our best selling automobile for the past 32 years (according to Wikipedia). However, there is one other thing we are also known for: our muscle cars. America has a long history of shoving big horsepower engines into sporty cars, a craze that started back in the Roaring Sixties. When the economy was booming, American manufacturers wanted to add fun to their lineups. Ford was the first to jump start this idea with the 1964 Mustang. Then Chevrolet, a division of General Motors, created the Camaro three years later. So did Dodge two years later with the Challenger. The three of these muscle cars coined the term “pony muscle car.” The Camaro also spawned a twin, the Pontiac Firebird. The Chevrolet Camaro lasted for four generations until Chevrolet discontinued it in 2002. By the time the fourth generation arrived, the Camaro and its twin, the Pontiac Firebird became more like big sporty coupes rather than sports cars. Due to lackluster sales and the market’s decreasing appetite for sporty coupes, General Motors discontinued the Camaro and the Firebird. However, in 2006, Chevrolet showcased the Camaro Concept at the 2006 Detroit Auto Show to unexpected levels of acclaim and praise from spectators worldwide. The Camaro became more prominent, especially in its role as Bumblebee in the Transformers series. The overwhelming demand for the Camaro was too much for Chevrolet to ignore, so they made the decision to produce the Camaro as a 2009 model. The release date got pushed to spring 2009 to produce the Camaro as a 2010 model. The Camaro was designed and engineered by GM’s Australian division, Holden, and it was built off the “Zeta” architecture that underpinned many Holden vehicles. After reviewing a Mustang, and a Challenger, I was anxious to review a Camaro. However, you may remember that I will refuse to review a car unless it is in the proper specification. That’s right, I told myself I would review Camaros only with a manual transmission. Problem is that this is America. Luckily, the opportunity presented itself soon enough, and it was not just any version of the Camaro, it was the top of the line version, the SS!  Continue reading

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2000 Saturn SL Review

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My friend was puzzled when I asked him if I could review his beat up Saturn five speed. Many of you readers are probably wondering why I am reviewing this car, especially when the cars I have reviewed in the past include a Nissan GT-R, several Mercedes-Benzs, and BMWs. My reason being is that it is a manual, and also because it is a Saturn SL. Before we bought our 2002 Toyota Camry, we had a 1993 Saturn SL (see picture below). Saturn was a division of General Motors, and the idea of Saturn was conceived around 1982-1983. At this time period, American compact cars were considered obsolete in the face of Japanese competition. Honda and Toyota provided superior reliability, quality, and fuel efficiency that American cars failed to match. My dad bought his 1988 Honda Civic in 1988 because it provided the best reliability and value for the money compared to domestic rivals. The idea behind Saturn was that it would provide American vehicles that could provide Japanese quality and reliability but at cheaper prices. Saturn also implemented no-haggle pricing to aid customers in the buying process. Another Saturn feature was that Saturn cars came with dent resistant plastic body panels. The first Saturn vehicle were the 1991-2002 S-Series which consisted of a coupe (SC), sedan (SL), and a wagon (SW). The first SL sold well, and was met with praise by reviewers. My dad, a loyal Honda buyer, ditched his Honda Civic, and bought a SL, and we loved that car for nine years. In nine years, it racked up 130,000 miles without any reliability issues. The S-Series was redesigned in 1996, and then again in 2000, although it was more of a face-lift than redesign.  Continue reading

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