Tag Archives: automotive reviews

2013 Ford Focus ST2 Review

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Disclaimer: The interior pictures featured in this article are that of a 2015 Ford Focus ST, not the actual car that is depicted in this review. The 2015 version will appear later in a separate photo shoot article. 

You might be asking yourself, “Is that a bright yellow Ford Focus I see? And why does it look like it came out of a Fast and Furious movie?” Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to the Ford Focus ST. After reviewing a 2012 Focus sedan, I was impressed at how far Ford had come. With sharp styling, enjoyable handling, decent levels of equipment, I can see why the Ford Focus was a hit with the consumers. It all started when Ford finally consolidated its global models and started producing the same models for every market. Here in America, Ford previously concentrated its efforts on its sport utility vehicles and its trucks and neglected its passenger cars. Meanwhile in Europe, Ford’s lineup was of high quality and class-leading passenger cars. Europeans got a better Focus and Mondeo (European equivalent to Taurus/Fusion) than we Americans did. After the recession hit, Ford decided to combine its global portfolio and produce the same cars for every market. What this means is that we finally get the good cars that Europeans get which brings me to my point. In Europe, there is a very popular segment of hot hatches: sporty hatchbacks that deliver the thrills and performance of a sporty car while providing the versatility and comfort of a family hatchback. Ford did attempt this here in the U.S with the 2001-2004 Focus SVT, but as a two-door/four-door hatchback that was hard to live with on a daily basis, it never really caught the attention of most consumers except hardcore enthusiasts. There was also a 2004-2007 ST version of the sedan, but it was really a half-baked attempt to inject sportiness in the sedan when in reality it was just a top-of-the-line version with a manual transmission. Ford Europe introduced the first Focus ST in 2005, a sporty version of the Focus with 225 horsepower and a top speed of 152 mph.  For the 2013 model year, a Focus ST version was added to the Focus lineup globally. Little backstory behind this car. This car is owned by one of my good friends, and we both are car enthusiasts as well as manual transmission aficionados. The owner named the ST, “Pikachu.” Let’s see if Pikachu is as exciting as its Tangerine Scream paint and rear spoiler suggests.

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2004 BMW 330xi Photoshoot

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Hello all! Here is the first post of 2016! I hope everybody had a good 2015 and are hoping for a good year. I know I am! To start off this year (I am a bit late I know), I am posting pictures that I did for a friend of mine. He drives a 2004 BMW 33oxi. Since I have already reviewed this car, I sought to make it a photo shoot and not a review. My thoughts mirror that of the 2001, although I prefer this refreshed’s styling better. It is a dream to drive, and the inline six is a gem. The interior is well built despite its age. I did review this generation with a manual transmission, a 328i, and I can concur that this 330xi would be a quintessential car made better with a proper manual transmission. I hope you enjoy the pictures! Yes, we really did take a BMW 3-Series “mudding”.

 

 

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2016 Acura ILX Review

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Once upon a time, there was a little sedan and coupe pairing called the Acura Integra that was born in 1986. When Acura debuted in the U.S as a brand, the Legend, a midsize luxury sedan, and the Integra, an upscale entry level compact comprised its lineup. As Acura was Honda’s luxury division with its models based off Honda’s existing models, the Integra was nothing more than a luxurious and pricier Civic. But the strange thing is that despite this, the Integra was vastly popular. With sporty handling, typical Japanese reliability, and value for the money, not to mention its huge aftermarket support, the Integra brought performance credibility to the Acura brand. The Integra was so popular with the tuning crowd that it is hard to find an Integra manual version that is not modded or “riced”. Then in 2001, the Integra coupe became the RSX coupe and the sedan was replaced by the TSX sedan in 2004.The TSX was never the direct replacement for the Integra sedan, but since it occupied the Integra sedan’s former place as the entry level compact, many have dubbed the TSX as the Integra sedan’s replacement. While the RSX and TSX did their fair share of upping the performance credibility of the Acura brand, they could not match the fame that the Integra garnered in the 1990s. The RSX was discontinued in 2006, and the TSX was redesigned for the 2009 model year. As it grew bigger in size, Acura saw fit to introduce a smaller entry level sedan to take the place of the first generation TSX and the Integra. This model would be called the ILX, based off the ninth generation Honda Civic. The ILX debuted in 2012 as a 2013 model. I reviewed a 2013 ILX 2.4 which comes with the Honda Civic’s Si high revving engine and a six speed manual transmission. While that was not a true Integra replacement, much to Acura enthusiasts’ dismay, I found that the ILX delivered a decent driving experience and fuel efficiency in a nice size. I will say this though, that particular ILX stickered around 35k. Thirty five thousand dollars. Granted it had about five grand in options, but that is a lot of money for a gussied up Civic. As much as I like Honda/Acura, the ILX simply is not worth that much money, and even the basic models such as the 2.0 and the Hybrid are upwards of $25,000 with slightly nicer interiors and slightly more updated equipment lists. Apparently, consumers felt the same way as sales of the ILX never really took off. For the 2016 model year, Acura extensively refreshed the ILX, giving it a new 2.4 liter four cylinder combined with a fancy eight speed dual clutch transmission standard across the lineup. Unfortunately, the manual transmission was ditched for the refresh, but the 2016 ILX is claimed to be more like a luxury sedan and less like a Honda Civic. For this review, we have my friend’s aforementioned Acura ILX 2.4 6 speed on hand in addition to the 2016 ILX, so it is not like there was any bias towards the manual model or anything (sarcasm). Seriously though, the question remains: Is the ILX now a proper luxury car? Continue reading

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2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Review

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If you think I do too many reviews of the fifth generation Mustang, you may be right. So far, I have done a 2012 Mustang V6, 2014 Mustang 5.0 GT, and a 2005 Mustang V6 (all manual transmission coupes of course.) Well, now I have an additional manual coupe to add to the list: the 2013 Mustang Boss 302. The history with the Mustang harks back to the 1960s, or more specifically 1964 when Lee Iocacca came up with the idea for a sporty and practical vehicle for the masses. Equipped in many body styles as well as numerous powertrain configurations to suit the American tastes, Mustang sales skyrocketed. In just 18 months after it debuted, the Mustang sold over a million units. For six generations, the Mustang has successfully cultivated its heritage while morphing into a household name. The Mustang also introduced several notable special editions such as the Shelby Mustangs, Bullitt, and the Boss 302. Due to the success of the first Mustang, Chevrolet scrambled to develop a worthy adversary which would become the Camaro. Boasting small and big box V8 engines, the Camaro proved its advantages over the Mustang which featured smaller engines. The original Boss 302 was Ford’s answer to the Camaro. The 302 name is derived from its 302 cubic inch engine. This car was developed in secret, so if anybody asked what car this was, the employees in charge of this car always referred to it as the “Boss’ car”, hence the Boss designation. It was also developed for a racing homologation series, hence the mechanical modifications. The first Boss 302 was sold in 1969-1970, and it was revived in 2012 with production ending in 2013. Think of the Boss 302 as a Mustang 5.0 liter V8 GT with mechanical and visual tweaks. If you want to go for a more extreme version, there was a Boss 302 Laguna Seca edition available. It featured more extreme suspension tweaks, the deletion of the rear seats for a brace to enhance structural rigidity, and it came in four colors with a red roof and red accents. With that said, as soon as the opportunity to review a Boss presented itself, I just knew I had to do it.  Continue reading

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1995 Volvo 960 Review

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Just like manual transmissions, station wagons are a dying breed in the U.S. Unfortunately, they are being cannibalized by the market’s trend towards SUVs. The image and the lofty driving position that an SUV provides are proving to be irresistible to consumers. Even the Subaru Outback, long a poster vehicle for “outdoorsy” wagons is now being labeled as a “crossover SUV” on Subaru’s website, and the latest generation is as tall as a compact crossover. The emerging SUV market has caused station wagons’ (or in Europe speak: estates) relevance to decrease significantly. The Audi A4 wagon is now a puesdo-SUV thingy called Allroad in which they took a regular Avant (Audi language for wagon) and put cladding and raised the height as to reinforce the Allroad’s appeal as an SUV. Volvo, long associated with boxy station wagons, now features more SUVs than wagons in its lineup. Speaking of Volvo, one of the boxy station wagons it is known for is the 960. Part of the 900 series of flagship rear wheel drive cars in Volvo’s lineup, the 940 and 960 models were introduced in 1990 to replace the preceding 700 series. This is a bit confusing, but what I gathered from research is that the 940 and 960 are actually the same car. Apparently, the 940 denotes four cylinder engines, and the 960 denotes six cylinder engines. In 1994, the 960 received a freshening, and  for the 1997 model year, the sedan and wagon were renamed S90 and V90. In 1998, the S90/V90 were replaced by the S80. Having the chance to review an actual proper station wagon, I knew I just had to review this 960.  Continue reading

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2007 Volkswagen Eos Base Review

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Whenever you think of a Volkswagen and a convertible in the same sentence, the association”chick car” comes to mind. Like for example, if you see a Volkswagen Beetle convertible on the street, you automatically assume that it is driven by a girl. Talk about sexism. Volkswagen’s second convertible offering (up till 2014), the Eos was also subject to the chick car syndrome. I wouldn’t drive a Volkswagen Beetle or an Eos but that’s not because of the stereotype. I just dislike convertibles in general. I also dislike Starbucks and Nutella, so I have pretty popular opinions. Right? Anyhoo, the Eos debuted in 2007 in North America, and it boasted a metal hardtop roof, earning it the title of the cheapest metal hardtop convertible on sale at the time. Right now, here we have a 2007 Volkswagen Eos. Considering its reputation as a chick car, you would assume that it is driven by a girl. You are right: it is driven by my first prom date. She was a cheerleader in high school, she is pretty, and I assume she likes shopping. So she fits the stereotypes of a girl who drives a chick car ( I am assuming). But there is one caveat. This Volkswagen Eos is a stick shift. That’s right, I converted my prom date to manual as she initially wanted an automatic for her first car. The stick shift is also the reason why I wanted to review an Eos even though I have already reviewed a 2012 Eos. With the automatic equipped refreshed Eos in mind, how does the pre refresh manual equipped Eos compare?  Continue reading

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