2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S Convertible

Again, sorry for the lack of interesting writing, but I have been very busy with being a new dad and my career.
Most likely from here on out these posts will be photo heavy with less writing. But when I have notes I will be sure to include them!

Like a fullback in football, heavy, planted, but quick when it needs to be; beautiful looking; got more attention than Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet; suspension settings are like polar opposites, comfort is comfortable, but sloppy, sport is still comfortable but much more responsive to inputs and road feel and is preferable to me, in full comfort mode car felt big and boaty, but in full sport mode felt more tossable and smaller; can feel the heft of the car, especially in braking and hard cornering, still handled well in sport mode, but definitely suffers from the vehicle weight; wish brakes felt better, not as responsive as I would have liked; transmission in normal D is laggy, and needs a lot of pedal pressure to become responsive, found myself in situations where i needed to use acceleration and it was way too slow for the amount needed, but transmission in sport mode was wonderfully much more responsive, kept revs higher, downshifts were much quicker and responsive, overall sport mode was preferred, plus it let you hear the engine sounds much more; LOVE the sound of the V8, sounds great, deep sound and sounds bad ass at full open throttle, especially in tunnels; paddle shifter location was annoying for normal driving, kept trying to hit those when trying to use the turn signals; seats comfortable, loved the massaging feature and the two tone interior; everything was nice to the touch, metal features, beautifully stitched leather; not a fan of the dials and knobs, felt nice to the touch, but they were tiny and required a lot of manipulating to change things for some, steering wheel dial was a little laggy when trying to change settings

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet

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I haven’t been having enough time to be able to write a full review on this car, but I’ll share with you my notes, and of course my photos!

fast; handling is great; interior quality is great; stereo sounds very good; cruising highway top down very nice, quiet, not windy with windows and air blocker up; PDK transmission is very good; engine sound behind you is magnificent; comfortable seats and seating position; visibility with top down is great; very, very expensive; hard to justify unless you have plenty of money; could be a avery fun car, but its tough because you really need to drive it hard to really enjoy the performance; breathtaking acceleration; can feel the weight in the back around turns, not a bad thing; feels like the rear is hugging you through the turns; turn in is great; steering feels is good, steering not too tight on highway, but wanders a little, but most likely from the huge rear wheels; auto start/top function is kind of funny on this car, sometimes it would turn engine off before car was stopped, also cuts power to auxiliary/cigarrette lighter causing radar detector to keep turning on and off; so many buttons and levers(2 on each side, wipers, lights, cruise, screen functions)

2015 McLaren 650s at Monticello Motor Club

While I only got to drive this car on a small autocross course, you can tell even with just the tiniest taste that this is an amazing machine. It’s fast, comfortable, and looks great. It really is amazing how McLaren was able to hone in the suspension to be so capable on the track and so comfortable on everyday roads. Their unique suspension is truly an automotive phenomenon. This car doesn’t use traditional anti-roll bars, but instead uses hydraulics to keep it stable, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that other manufacturers need to take advantage of this kind of technology. On a side note, I can’t get over how fast their professional drivers can drive. Doing a couple of hot laps in the passenger seat was amazing. I don’t think the smile on my face came off for a good hour after I got out of the car. Simply awesome!

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG

When you think of AMG you think massive engine and massive power. The Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG changes that completely. Here you have a hand-built 2.0L direct injected turbo-charged 4-cylinder engine, producing a whopping 355 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque which Mercedes claims is the world’s most powerful production 4-cylinder engine. But does that make it a car worth buying?

This car is surely going to get you into trouble. It’s quick, very quick. Plant your foot into the ground, and the next thing you know you’re creeping up on jail time speeds before you know it, and the fact that it’s red doesn’t help much either. It was hard not to press the go pedal without wanting to feel that rush of acceleration. The dual-clutch transmission is good and shifts quickly, but if you’re in manual mode, you need to time your shifts appropriately otherwise you’ll get a sharp jab from the rev-limiter, which is frighteningly harsh.

Now, here’s the fun part of having an AWD dual-clutch 355hp monster. LAUNCH CONTROL! Following a series of lever shifts and button pushes, hold the brake and press the gas pedal to the floor and the car holds the RPMS at about 4k, making the car sound like a WRC car is about to launch, which is awesome by the way. Let go of that brake pedal and you’re thrust back into your seat by that 332 lb-ft of torque and you’re on your way to 60mph in the manufacturers suggested time of 4.5 seconds. Triple digits comes up quick, so be ready to plant your foot on that brake again if you’re on any public roads, they are surely well equipped to stop you quickly and efficiently.

The CLA45 AMG is unable to be equipped with an adjustable suspension, so it only has one setting; stiff. Don’t get me wrong, the ride is beautifully smooth when you’re on smooth roads, but any undulations or bumps in the road and you and your passengers are surely going to feel them. Given the low profile tires and the fact that they are high performance summer tires, the noise on the highway is a little more than you’d expect from a Mercedes. Comfort wise, this isn’t a car you’ll be cruising around with a coffee in your hands, but if you’re looking to have a ton of fun on side roads and can live with the stiffer ride then you’re going to have a blast. The handling is very good. Steering is nice and tight, and very direct, even though it doesn’t have the traditional hydraulic system, AMG has dialed it in so well you still feel connected to the car. Push the car into the turns hard, and it stays flat as the power brings you through, but being that this is a mainly front-wheel drive based AWD system, you still get a little understeer if pushed too hard into turns though.

Now, lets talk about that hand-built 2.0L direct-injected turbocharged beast. Holy crap! What an amazing engine. So much power comes from such a small engine, it really is incredible. This engine really seems like the only reason why this car costs so much. Being pushed back into the sport seats was really the only reason I was able to look past my previous gripes about the CLA250. I mean who cares about the slightly difficult to use center controls or the high window line that gives you some blind spots. You’re hauling ass, so you shouldn’t be needing to play with those dials, and the only reason you’ll be checking your mirrors is to see who you’re leaving behind in the dust.

So if you have some expendable income, and you want an “entry-level” AMG monster, buy the CLA45 AMG, you wont be disappointed. Sure, it may lack a little soul, but that engine combined with burying your foot into that right pedal will never cease to put a smile on your face.

                                2015 Subaru WRX STI vs.                                 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR

One of the greatest debates out there among car enthusiasts resides with which car gives you the most bang for your buck. You’ll have your fanboi’s for every category, and those that are loyal, just because that’s all they know. For me, I have always been a Subaru fan, so it was hard not to have a biased opinion when it came down to this comparison, but I did my best to keep my heart at bay and test each of these cars with a clear and open mind. Keep in mind also, the 2014 Mitsubishi Evo, is technically the same car that came out as a 2008 model, so the STI already has some clear advantages right out of the gate.

Let’s start off with speed and power. The Evo comes packed with a 2.0L turbo-charged engine producing 291hp and 300lb-ft of torque and has a curb weight of almost 3700lbs. The STI is equipped with a larger displaced 2.5L turbo-charged Boxer engine churning out 305hp and 290lb-ft of torque, a carry over from the previous generation, and weighs in at about 3400lbs. The Evo carries a little bit more weight due to its dual-clutch transmission. If you opt for the 5-speed manual, it brings the weight down to around 3500lbs. Both reach their peak HP and torque around the same time. Most magazines have been achieving similar 0-60 times in the mid 4′s for both the EVO MR and the new STI. While I don’t have the necessary equipment, or legal means to test this repeatedly, I can say that they both felt equally as fast, and equally as powerful.

When you think of these kinds of cars, you dont expect to have luxury style interiors, which by no means do you get with either of them, but the interior of the Subaru is a million times nicer than that of the EVO. Subaru has done a great job in increasing the overall quality of materials that they are using in this all new STI. Soft touch dash material, higher quality plastics, comfortable, yet supportive seats. But there is one thing that really stands out in my mind, that steering wheel! The steering wheel may be my favorite thing about the interior. It’s a very nice flat-bottomed wheel, with a thickness that will rival ones you find on BMW’s M cars, and it feels wonderful in your hands. Everything else in the Subaru is all no nonsense. Gauges, instrument panel, center info display are all functional, and easy to use, something you want in a car that is all about the driving experience. Overall, the general feel of the STI’s cabin is a pleasant one, and not a bad place to be, whether you’re a driver or a passenger. The EVO on the other hand is full of hard, ugly plastics, that’s including the entire dash. Like the Subaru, all necessities are within reach, and easily accessible. The saving grace of the EVO’s interior are the Recaro seats. It’s the one thing Mitsubishi has over the Subaru interior wise. They were obviously very supportive, for both enthusiast driving, as well as normal day to day driving. Perhaps that’s where all the money went for the rest of the interior……

So which one is the best car for the pure driving enthusiast you ask? Well, that will depend on what you’re looking for. While these two cars have been competing head to head for a little over 2 decades, and in the U.S. for a little over a decade, I feel they are in two different realms now.

Here are my opinions on both:

2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X:
Right off the bat the first thing I noticed about the Evo was how cheap the interior was. The next thing I noticed once I started driving was how stiff the suspension was, and of course the very next thing I noticed was all the rattling going on due to the cheap interior and stiff suspension. Driving further down the road, I quickly realized how good this car felt in my hands. Sure, it may seem that you can feel every little bump, and that’s not how you would expect a $40,000 car to feel, but in this case its a very good thing. Everything down to the steering made me feel 100% connected to this car and the street. I could feel the suspension working, the tires rolling over the ground, every bump and rock in the road. The steering was so precise and immediately responsive, I felt that I could put this car wherever I wanted to and it it would just comply. The combination of the quick shifting dual-clutch transmission, coupled with the quick turn-in made this car very, very fun on twisty roads and hard turns. This car is made to be driven hard and when driven hard, it rewards it’s driver. I did wish it had a little bit more of a throaty exhaust note though, it would have been nice if it had been a little deeper sounding, rather than sounding like a small 4-cylinder engine with an exhaust. It makes me wonder though, as to how Mitsubishi can create something like this, a car with soul and feeling, and also create something like the new Mirage…..but more on that another time.

2015 Subaru WRX STI:
Getting into the new STI for the first time, you realize how much of a step above the Evo the interior is, as well as the previous generation STI. It is leaps and bounds better. The steering wheel and the soft touch dash is the first thing you’ll notice that is much better. Now, Subaru spent all their R&D money on making sure that this car handled amazingly, so much so that they decided they wouldn’t be able to create a hatchback version, and that money spent shows. The difference compared to the last generation is like night and day. You can feel the heft in the steering wheel immediately, and the response of the new 13.0:1 steering ratio is wonderful. The suspension feels much stiffer, but surprisingly if felt more composed than that of the WRX. Handling of the new STI was great and the engine sounds wonderful when keeping the revs high and staying in the power zone. One thing though, as much as I love the current engine in the STI, the power, the sound, the way you need to keep the revs up to feel all that power, it needs a new engine. And I say that with all the respect for that EJ, but its dated, and the other engines out there have surpassed it long ago. With as much work that Subaru did with the chassis and suspension on this car, it deserves, scratch that, it NEEDS an engine just as capable and advanced to really make the new handling shine. If this car had a combination of the low-end torque of Subaru’s new 2.0L in the WRX and the top-end power of the current engine, this car would be perfect. Maybe Subaru will squeeze out 0.5L of the new engine and this dream will happen, but who knows.

So what’s my pick? There is no clean cut answer.
If you want a car that you can drive every day and take on the track on the weekends, I think the STI is perfect for that. Its amazing when you push it hard, but livable when just scooting around town. As much as I love the way the new handling of the STI is, I can’t help but feel that EVO is the car for you if you’re able to take it on a track all the time. It is by no means worthy of being a daily driver, unless you like your back to be punished, and don’t really need to use the trunk for anything too big, as its laughable considering how large it’s rear-end looks.

So the STI beats out the EVO 2 to 1…..how is that?
The STI is a complete car. You can take it on a track everyday if you wanted to, and then get in and drive it home to pick up the groceries or kids and not suffer too much. The EVO, on the other hand I would 100% recommend for the track. It handles a little better, and gives better feedback, but your back and your passengers will thank you for not hauling them around town in it. The only limiting factor that keeps the STI from being the ultimate fun daily driver, is that you need to be pushing this car pretty hard to really enjoy the full potential, which local law enforcement might not be too happy with. For this pick, I can’t help but think of the Ford Fiesta ST, and this is coming from a guy who was dead set on buying the new STI.

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