2014 BMW M235i

BMW has long considered themselves as the Ultimate Driving Machine, and they have a ton of support from their loyal drivers, enthusiasts, and journalists. More recently however, it seems that they have taken up more of a stance of “Let’s see how much we can get our customers to pay for our ‘Ultimate Driving Machines.’” Having not driven a ton of BMW’s before, and of course seeing the normal BMW drivers mentality on the road, I have always often wondered why these drivers act like they own the road, and the 2014 BMW M235i has given me somewhat of an answer.

It’s very fun; quick; handles great; ride is comfortable when you want it to be; suspension feels really well sorted; one of the best BMWs of recent that I’ve driven; pricey at $46,575, but comes with no NAV, back-up camera, or blind spot detection; engine sounds nice when in sport mode, but starts to drone at highway speeds, engine sound pumping through speakers gets annoying, comfort mode is much better to live with while cruising; for most fun keep it in sport and transmission in sport mode; shifts are very quick for an automatic, one of the best ones I’ve driven, even better than CLA45′s dual clutch, shifts seem faster too; worried about the durability of the automatic though, seems that if you push the car hard for an extended period of time, it will eventually have problems, still wish this one had a manual, but its a no-cost option, which makes me feel like you should be given an extra set of rims if you choose that, I remember when the automatic was a $1500 option, now its standard, give me back my manual and option of an automatic, i’ll gladly take that $1500 back; seats are very comfortable; no non-sense interior, aside from iDrive, which is a lot better than older generations, but still a little cumbersome until you’re used to it; some neat features like cruise control indicators, if shifter is in manual mode and you press park button, it moves it over automatically; lots of M badges; now I understand why BMW drivers get such a bad rap about driving aggressively and not using turn signals, this car makes you feel you can drive aggressively due to the confidence and handling it provides, and the turn signal stalks are annoying to use, press it all the way down and it stays on, but it moves back up, so sometimes you end up clicking it the opposite way to turn it off, making you look like a jackass; after a week of rain, I still couldn’t figure out how to get the intermittent wipers to work, it was either fast, faster, automatic(which sometimes didn’t want to come on until you’re literally blinded by rain), or manual, I ended up preferring manual; is it a true M car, no, but its pretty good for what it is, definitely at the top of my most fun cars list.

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.

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