Tag Archives: cars

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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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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2 Year Anniversary!

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Hello RNR Automotive Blog Readers! Two years ago on this date, this blog was created. I know that this year, I have been less frequent in publishing reviews, and I wanted to apologize for that. School keeps me busy, and so does work, and unfortunately, that has left me little time to do anything else, let alone write reviews for my blog. However, I haven’t forgot about you guys, so I will try my best to work harder at bringing you these reviews for you to read! I have great cars for you read about. I’ll let the cat out of the bag just so you can know what to expect in upcoming reviews: Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, E60 BMW 550i manual, 2015 Scion TC manual, 2015 Lexus IS250, 2015 Mercedes-Benz C300, 2015 Ford Focus ST manual, 2013 Subaru Impreza WRX manual, 1965 Ford Mustang, 1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R manual, and many more.  My schedule next semester will be much easier and will allow for more free time, so hang in there! In the meantime, I will do my best to get these reviews underway. With that said, I just want to thank you guys for another great year for the blog. Without your support, the blog would not be with it is today. I want to thank my family and friends for their support. I personally want to thank my friend Miranda for always helping me out as my unofficial editor of the blog. Without her input, my blog would probably be filled with numerous grammar errors. With that out of the way, for last year’s anniversary, I did a review of my 2004 Honda Pilot. This year, I will post pictures from Fall Break that I enjoyed with a couple of friends. Update: Neela (that’s her name) just hit 182,000 miles! And she is still running. 🙂 (Hope I didn’t jinx it). I hope you enjoy the pictures. Thanks again for your support! Here’s to another great year!  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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2010 Lexus IS250 Photoshoot

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Howdy! I just wanted to apologize for being inactive for nearly two months. Life has been hectic with school and work and such, don’t worry, I am back on track with the blog! Now that summer is here, expect to see new and exciting car reviews! As always, thanks for being loyal to rnrautoblog.com! I had my mom’s car one night, and the sunset was just perfect, and I had time to kill before doing a car review (Hint: expect to see a 2015 Scion TC 6 speed manual review soon), so I thought why not? Let me know what you think of these pictures!

Thanks,

RNR

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2013 Hyundai Veloster Base Review

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Rewind to ten years ago, and you would be forgiven for thinking that Hyundai cars are boring and staid. Hyundais of the past endured an unflattering reputation. Jeremy Clarkson, formerly one of the hosts of Top Gear UK, once said that if you are driving a Hyundai Accent diesel, you have failed at life. My friend asked me for advice on what to get as his first car and I suggested an old Hyundai Sonata. His response? “Dude, I want to succeed in high school, not commit social suicide.” Yes, he actually said that.  In the last five or so years, Hyundai underwent a transformation. All of a sudden, Hyundais were no longer boring and built to resemble appliances. The latest Elantra and 2010-2014 Sonata are examples of Hyundai’s latest curvy and bold designs. Showcasing Hyundai’s “Fluidic Sculpture” styling, Hyundai cars became more appealing inside and out. This combined with their excellent value for the money and fuel efficiency propelled Hyundais to the top of the sales charts. I reviewed a 2011 Sonata, and while there is room for improvement in the handling department, I was impressed with the Sonata’s blend of style and value. In 2007, Hyundai released the HND-3 Concept, which became the Veloster in 2011. In 2011, the Veloster went on sale as a three door coupe. Its party trick? It has one door on the driver’s side, and two doors on the passenger side. Confusing eh? The thought behind these three doors was to make the Veloster unique, but also to aid practicality. By having the door on the right side, children can get out on the curb. My mother texted me one day saying that her coworker has a Veloster that I can review. Naturally, I asked her if it was a manual. My mother said no, but I reviewed it anyways because I was keen to see if the Veloster really could drive like its sporty styling suggested.

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2008 Buick Enclave CXL Review

buick 9  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

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2011 BMW 335i Review

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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

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