Review coming soon!
Aunty Helen became my babysitter when I was 7 months old. She is also a part of our family and eventually influenced the person that I grew into. Even though we moved a couple years ago to a different state, she still visits us every year, and this summer she went with us on a family trip to Sri Lanka. She is one of the most important people in my life as I regard her as my third parent, and she says that I am her one of her favorite grandsons. It is also because of her that I am affiliated with Buicks. When my parents first met her, she was driving a 1991 blue Buick Skylark. Then she graduated to a light brown 1997 Buick Skylark, then a 2003 Buick LeSabre Custom, and now a 2011 Buick LaCrosse. I remember the day that I got off the school bus, and Aunty Helen was waiting for me with a huge grin on her face. I asked her, “Aunty Helen, why are you so happy to see me?” She said, “Honey, I got a new car.” She motioned to a shiny and sparkling black Buick LeSabre parked on the street. Aunty Helen was beaming with pride, and my sister and I were amazed at how huge the car was. Even though the LeSabre is a bland and unexciting car, it will always be in my memories because that was Aunty Helen’s car. Replacing both the Rendezvous and the Rainer SUVs in 2008, the Enclave was Buick’s first attempt at redefining Buick as a brand. The Enclave is one of quadruplets, the other three being the Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, and the discontinued Saturn Outlook. These four SUVs are built on the Lambda chassis, GM’s platform for large crossovers with three rows of seating. Even though I have reviewed a 2014 Chevrolet Traverse (The Buick, Chevrolet, and GMC were refreshed in 2012), I was curious to see what a Buick SUV would be like, given my personal history with the brand. Continue reading
You are probably confused and wondering why I am reviewing another E90 (2006-2011 generation) 3 Series if I have already reviewed both a 328i Sedan and a convertible. Well those were the 328i versions, and this is a 335i version. For those of you who know, my sister now drives the Pilot, and so I drive my father’s 2010 BMW 328i. One of my friends has a 2011 335i, and it is exactly the same color and the same generation as mine, so I thought, why not just do a review on his BMW? It may be another E90, but it is a 335i. The 335i is the top dog version with a turbocharged inline six cylinder engine whereas the lesser 328i versions make do with a normally aspirated inline six cylinder engine. The first 3 Series started with the E21 in 1975. At this time, BMW was cementing a reputation as a purveyor of “ultimate driving machines,” a strategy that culminated in the making of some very fine driving machines until recently. After the E21 came the 1982-1991 E30 which launched the first ever M3, then came the 1993-1998, then the 1999-2005 E46, then the 2006-2011 E90. Funny thing is that even as the BMW 3 Series slowly grew in size and status, it remained the undisputed compact luxury sedan in terms of prestige, sales, and driving enjoyment. No matter what other competitors threw at it, the BMW reigned supreme. After reviewing an E30 M3, E36 325i convertible, E46 330i, and two E90s, I can attest to that. I would not include the present generation F30 as one of the all time BMW driving greats because it is part of BMW’s new comfort oriented philosophy. The older the generation, the better driving characteristics they possess, but they are all fantastic to drive except the 2012-present F30 (which actually has started losing comparisons in automotive publications due to its worse handling). Since I drive a 328i, I was curious to see whether the twin turbocharged engine makes the 335i a better car than the 328i. Continue reading
Traditionally, Acura and its parent company, Honda, have always been conservative and staid automotive manufacturers. That changed in around 2009 when Acura decided to debut its new grille design, the so called “beak” which consists of a very pronounced chrome design. This new grille design sparked a new design revolution at Acura. All of sudden, its cars were designed to be less angular and more curvy, yet more futuristic looking. This new design strategy also led to the ZDX. Designed by Christine Michelesen and based off Acura’s MDX, the ZDX is meant to blur the lines of a coupe and an SUV, akin to the BMW X6. Breaking from the Acura’s norm of producing conventionally styled vehicles, the ZDX was all about design and not function. When it debuted in 2009, Acura was thought to have gone off the deep end. Here is a vehicle that is based on the MDX SUV, yet it is less impractical, can only carry five people, and commands about 10 grand more. Sadly, these flaws counted against it, and it never really sold enough to become a common sight on streets. In its last year of production, the ZDX sold only 362 units (according to Wikipedia.com) in 2013, truly making it a rare sight in America. The owner of this car (check out his blog) was able to get this car in the fully loaded Advance version for a fraction of the price to buy as brand new. Naturally, I wanted to review a ZDX and see what the SUV/coupe/SUV-ish coupe/coupe-ish SUV was all about. Continue reading
When I was little, I got my first car game to play on the computer, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit. Remember the Need For Speed series? How I miss the days of NFS Underground, Hot Pursuit, etc. In the Hot Pursuit game, one of the cars featured was an E39 M5 (BMW cars are classified by their generations so the 1996-2003 5 Series is the E39), and I became enamored with its power (in the game) and its styling. I never have and probably never will own a brand new luxury sedan, but if I had to go used, the only luxury sedans I would consider buying is the first generation Infiniti M or an E39 5 Series with a manual transmission. The first M vehicle for the 5 Series was the 1980 M535i although it was not badged as an actual M brand vehicle, but it came with performance and visual upgrades. The first actual M5 came with the second 5 Series generation (E28 1981-1988) in 1985-1988 which was only available with a manual transmission and sold in “Jet Black” color only. The next 5 Series generation (E34) brought along another M5 version that was sold from 1989-1995. The E28 and E34 were the last M5 models to be hand built before the E39 arrived. When the E39 M5 debuted in 1998, it took the world by storm. People raved about its 394 horsepower V8 engine, its butch looks, and its overall image as M’s flagship sports sedan. This M5 reviewed here is a Dinan edition; Dinan is a company that produces both mechanical and cosmetic aftermarket products for BMW vehicles. They also have a long standing relationship with BMW as Dinan modified BMWs are able to retain their factory warranties. Even though this is not the regular M5, I could not resist the opportunity to be able to review one of my favorite cars in the entire world. How desperate was I to review an E39 M5? So desperate that I saw this car in a parking lot and left a note on the windshield asking the owner if I can review the car. Fortunately the owner obliged. Continue reading
When I found out I would get the opportunity to review the first ever M3 ever produced, I was giddy with happiness and anxiety. Just to clarify how much of a coup this is, only 4,996 of these were sold in North America during its six year run. BMW’s M (called Motorsport GmbH then) was created in 1975 to aid BMW’s presence in motor racing in the 1960s-1970s. However, they started to add mechanical and cosmetic upgrades to BMW’s existing lineup to sell to the market. The first M-branded car launched was the 1979 M1, but BMW’s M division’s prominence did not emerge until they made an M version of the 5-series sedan, M535i, in 1979. The first actual separate M model debuted in 1985 for the M5, a version of the 5-Series. A M version of the E30 3-Series followed (BMW vehicles are classified by chassis numbers, so this generation is the E30) in 1986. Initially, the M3 was built to fulfill motor racing requirements. The World Touring Car Championship requires that the car be commercially produced in order for it to compete which is why the M3 was limited to just 5,000 units. However, the M3’s success was unprecedented, so production was expanded to almost 18,000 worldwide (including both convertible and coupe models). With the first M3 and M5, BMW and its M division cemented a reputation for itself in the automotive industry as a maker of the “ultimate driving machine” which was its slogan until recently. Sadly, as the luxury market has progressed in technology and power, BMW’s “M” cars have gotten a bit of an unflattering reputation. Once a division that pertained to strict principles of just manual transmissions, rear wheel drive, normally aspirated engines, the latest M cars are turbocharged, mostly automatics, and all wheel drive (at least for the SUVs and arriving soon for the M5). Not only that, and excuse my language, but the latest M cars have attracted a certain “douchebag” reputation. The general stereotype of the latest M cars is that they are driven by showoffs who could care less about the performance and handling capabilities and are focused on the cachet the M brand brings. However, this stereotype only pertains to the M cars manufactured around 5 years ago. This M3 reviewed here is the very first showcase of the M brand’s pure driving philosophy, and I was giddy with excitement as I got to review this gem. Continue reading