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Detroit Auto Show prankster 'damages' hundreds of thousands of dollars in cars

  • Detroit Auto Show prankster 'damages' hundreds of thousands of dollars in cars
  • 2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk [w/video]
  • 2017 Jaguar XE
  • Ford reveals new F-150 Raptor packs 450 horsepower

Matt Davis

2015 Ferrari LaFerrari [w/video]

Posted Jun 12th 2014 12:59PM

2015 Ferrari LaFerrari

What a year it's been for enthusiasts who love high-performance, higher-dollar automobiles. The past twelve months or so have been consumed with the three horsemonsters of today's hybrid hypercar enlightenment: the Porsche 918 Spyder, the McLaren P1 and the Ferrari LaFerrari. Getting into just two of the three would be better than a lump of coal in one's stocking come holiday time, but for me, it'd still leave things feeling sadly incomplete, gnawing from within 'til the end of days.

Getting the call from Maranello, therefore, was even more fortunate and satisfying. The 918 Spyder – the only seriously green hybrid of the trio – shook me up with its sophisticated menu of technologies. The McLaren P1 remains more of a true hypercar than the Porsche, what with its e-motor designed to boost the lightweight beast to supernatural speeds above any terrestrial concerns like fuel efficiency. And now it's time for the Italian with the funny name, LaFerrari. No mistake about it: I've been waiting all year for this car a little more than I've been waiting for the other two.

This run of hypercars built up over the year like a famous three-part opera: The enthralling start of the drama sitting in the Porsche 918, tear-assing the heavier green dart around a track in Spain; then on to the UK with the lightness and quick heart of the biturbo V8 in McLaren's track-inspired P1, and it was all to be topped-off at Fiorano with the LaFerrari, fit for a Wagnerian finish.

Now having had seat time in all three cars, it's my contention that the 918 Spyder, sensational as it is, feels like a stand-alone proposition in its own right. The full-on hardcore hyperdrive combat will be between the 903-horsepower P1 and the 950-bhp LaFerrari. It's going to be interesting as hell, too. Maybe throw in a Pagani Huayra and a Koenigsegg Agera just for kicks.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Roberto Carrer / AOL

2015 McLaren 650S Spider [w/video]

Posted Apr 10th 2014 11:57AM

McLaren's New Volume Seller Makes Evolution Look Sexy

2015 McLaren 650S Spider

It seems like only yesterday that we enjoyed a mad dash in McLaren's wild P1 hybrid wallet-breaker. Now here we are, already back with the Brits, this time in on the great roads of southern Spain and at Ascari Race Resort as McLaren launches what has already become its most important seller, the 650S. Available as both a US$265,500 coupe and as a US$280,225 roadster, we will focus hard here on the Spider since it's the greater conversation piece and will account for nearly ninety per cent of North American deliveries. The car's very first North American customers are taking delivery as you read this.

Though the 650S essentially takes what was offered in the original MP4-12C, pumps it all up and refines it nicely, this new member of the McLaren clan looks more like a P1, albeit one costing over three-quarters of a million dollars less than the real deal. Truth be told, 12C production ceased in January to allow 650S production to ramp up, and the new car will therefore serve as McLaren's entry-level model until its rumored Porsche 911- and Aston Martin V8 Vantage-rival comes along.

There were a handful of key things we hoped for in this new 650S: more power and torque than the 12C, a more finely tuned ride and handling balance no matter the H (handling) and P (powertrain) setting selected, more character from the bi-turbo V8's exhaust and a flashier, less banal design.

We're pleased to report that all of these issues have been addressed.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Matt Davis / McLaren / AOL

2014 Audi S3 Cabriolet

Posted Apr 1st 2014 12:00PM

2014 Audi S3 Cabriolet

Drivers are either droptop people or they're not. As most usually aren't – at least as far as the willingness to buy one is concerned – all convertibles tend to remain strictly niche lifestyle cars. Thus, automakers must ask a noticeably higher price for them.

The 2014 Audi S3 Cabriolet is about as niche as you can get in the open daylight of mainstream automaking. Of course, the S3 cab doesn't really need to sell in big volumes; it exists because it's an easy and not too costly bit of flair for the company. In Canada, this model would probably base out at around $50,000 if it were to join our current Audi line-up, which is problematic, as I'll soon explore.

In what may be a sign that Audi is essentially okay with all this, it had me up to central Sweden to twist around on the snow and ice in the open S3. The grounds ended up offering precious little ice and snow, so I drove the two-door ragtop on dusty, thawing Scandinavian roads. This was a blessing really, since ice driving in a cabrio – even a Quattro one – doesn't really reveal much of anything about such a car in its typical day-to-day life... READ FULL REVIEW

2015 Audi S3 Convertible - Snow Drifting

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Tobias Sagmeister / AOL

2014 Audi S1 Quattro [w/video]

Posted Mar 21st 2014 11:59AM

2014 Audi S1 Quattro

Audi may only now be fully committing to the Canadian compact car market with a full range of new A3 models on the way, but it's got far more small car expertise than most of us realize, and its offerings get even tinier, too. Back in 2010, Audi leapt into the subcompact premium fray – in all markets except for Canada, the United States and China – with its A1. The A1 family has sold all right, but not quite as well as was expected, likely due to its price when optioned up. (It also doesn't help that the closely related Volkswagen Polo is a great car on the same architecture and costs much less.)

But Audi seems compelled to make high-buck S trims of everything nowadays, so right on schedule, I've scored seat time in its new 2014 Audi S1 Quattro. Under its gumdrop green-coloured hood is the very popular 2.0-litre TFSI motor. In this trim, it's good for 228 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque between 1,600 and 3,000 rpm. That's quite a lot of gumption for this hot little hatchback – enough power to hit 0-100km/h in just 5.8 seconds... READ FULL REVIEW

Related GalleryAudi S1 Official Images
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2014 Audi S1 Sportback Quattro Preview

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Matt Davis / Tobias Sagmeister / AOL

2015 McLaren P1 [w/video]

Posted Mar 14th 2014 11:57AM

Sampling Woking's Next-Level Hypercar On Jeremy Clarkson's Turf

2015 McLaren P1

We have already raved about the Porsche 918 Spyder, and all indications suggest we'll be moved to dispense flowery Italian prose about the upcoming Ferrari LaFerrari (even if the name does sound like a skip on a 45-rpm record). In between these two hypercars comes this British mind-boggle better known as the McLaren P1.

As a pure driver's exoticar, the P1 outshines the Porsche in dynamics and nimbleness, while the 918 engineers the miracle of potentially exceptional mileage combined with face-flattening speed that equals the Big Mac. Both cost around $1 million with the Porsche sitting just below a million and the McLaren sitting a few hundred thousand above a million – at this level, what's a few hundred-thousand dollars among friends?), and both get most normal humans as close to experiencing Formula One for the street without driving something that looks like a single-seat, open-wheel car.

You can imagine my excitement as I was ushered over to Dunsfold Airfield south of London to have my cherished laps in McLaren P1 validation prototype No. 5. I have never experienced good weather here, but I was thankfully blessed with tepid air and brilliant late winter sunshine for this drive. This means that there wasn't the usual standing rainwater on the scrappy Top Gear test track. As I arrived at the McLaren bunker alongside the makeshift circuit, the mellow, flame-yellow P1 I was to drive was already going through motions in a client's hands.

This client and his charming wife were just finishing up several laps of their own, including some absolutely scorching rounds with McLaren chief test pilot Chris Goodwin, as well as with McLaren GT3 driver Duncan Tappy. The couple was as giddy as teenagers when I talked with them, smiling from ear to ear. And they were not from Dubai, not from Moscow, not from Singapore, and not from Beverly Hills. They were from Ohio, so leave your rich people stereotypes at the door.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Matt Davis / AOL

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic [w/video]

Posted Feb 19th 2014 11:57AM

At The Crossroads In Daimler's Compact Model Lineup

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250

We all knew that Mercedes-Benz couldn't afford to resist the small SUV or crossover segment for much longer. After all, it seems to be the fastest-growing segment in the galaxy, and in particular, it's the premium niche of that class – led by the hugely successful Land Rover Evoque and BMW X1 – that is making these smaller vehicles more viable and attractive. Off we go, then, in this spanking-new 2015 GLA250 4Matic, Mercedes' take on this still somewhat amorphous genre.

Click here for the full story and review on the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Matt Davis / AOL / Mercedes-Benz

2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E [w/video]

Posted Jan 22nd 2014 11:57AM

The Swedes Bend Sixes And Fives Into Fours

2015 Volvo S60 Drive-E

With government agency pressures mounting, the auto industry's latest engine and powertrain trends invariably include the cobbling of heretofore eight-cylinder models into charged (either turbo- or super-) six-cylinder models, six-cylinders into charged four-cylinders and so on. And then there's the mating of these downsized engines to fuel-saving automatic transmissions with ratio counts previously reserved for bicycles and semi trucks. Volvo can at last follow suit with the best of Germany and Japan thanks in great part to an $11-billion (USD) multi-year investment by its Chinese owners, Geely.

A few short months ago while covering the Frankfurt Motor Show marathon of news and new car debuts (chief among said bits being the stunning Volvo Concept Coupe), we were escorted by the Swedish automaker to the far less frenetic air of southern France to explore the most significant step yet in the company's new life. Volvo's entire movement of new tech is referred to as Drive-E, and it includes these all-new four-cylinder engines we just tested, a new modular architecture called Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) that will first be found under the next-generation XC90, along with a host of other onboard advancements. Think of it as a Scandinavian version of Mazda Skyactiv, a total-systems approach to developing more efficient yet more sporting new models.

Image Credit: Copyright 2013 Matt Davis / AOL

2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe [w/video]

Posted Jan 16th 2014 11:58AM

2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe

This is it. This is the nasty cat we've been hankering for most. Whereas the Jaguar F-Type convertible remains the company's purest expression of lifestyle fun and expendable income, it's this coupe version that originally stole our eyeballs and never gave them back when it debuted as the C-X16 Concept way back at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. And now we've had an early turn at driving the most potent variant, the Jaguar F-Type R Coupe.

This F-Type Coupe design is so utterly visually stunning that, even if something dynamically or functionally was not really to our liking, we would still want to have the wherewithal to buy one and garage it, if only to stare at it – not unlike our reaction to the 2007-2009 Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione coupe, then. Whether such beauty needs to be in the form of this US$99,000 (Canadian pricing to follow but expect it to be well-north of 100k) mondo 542-horsepower R version or the more attainable six-cylinder trim is an open question.

In case you need reminding, that's 542 horses maxing out at 6,500 rpm, along with 502 pound-feet of torque on tap between 2,500 and 5,500 revs. There is no indicator yet as to whether Jaguar will eventually come out with an R version beyond the 488-hp V8 S for the convertible, either, so this may well be our only shot at such hair-brained antics in this small Jag. Small and not quite light, we should add – despite its all-aluminum goodness – the F Coupe rings in at 1,650 kilograms (3,638 pounds). That sort of heft is one thing on the street, but it's quite another on a twisty roadcourse, and we aimed to figure out if the coupe's 80-per cent greater bend and twist resistance versus the open F-Type (along with its higher attendant spring rates) were enough to make a big difference.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Matt Davis / Mark Fagelson / AOL

2013 Audi RS Q3

Posted Dec 19th 2013 11:57AM

2014 Audi RS Q3

The year 1994 was a really good year for German performance fans, because it was that year when Audi released its very first official RS model (for "RennSport," or racing sport), the RS2 Avant. Recently, I was invited to participate in a three-day leg of the Audi Land of Quattro Alpen Tour, a blatant flaunting over hill and dale of the company's current lineup of RS models. We hit Austria, Switzerland and Italy – the roads were epic and the weather held for this exquisite boondoggle.

Our chief focus on this tour, which included the RS6 Avant and RS7, was the newcomer RS Q3 small crossover that will absolutely never be coming to North America, but which starts deliveries in November of this year. This no-North America policy is because we still don't have enough customers who see the thrill or sense in a US$52,000 all-wheel-drive baby sport utility that gets to 60 miles per hour (96 km/h) from a stop in under five seconds. Meanwhile, in crazy, drunken Europe, orders for this ridiculous, wondrous set of wheels have, to quote Quattro head of technical development Stephan Reil, "far outstripped the limited production numbers of the business case." Those silly Europeans, don't they know that an RS Q3 makes no sense at all? Sheesh.

Image Credit: Copyright 2013 Matt Davis / AOL, Audi