Car Reviews

Posted on by Nico DeMattia  

Caterham is just one of many car manufactures that have built replicas or continuation cars based on the iconic Lotus Seven. That said, Caterham is the only one that has become notorious for its Seven continuation cars and its numerous iterations. Ranging from the lightest and cheapest Caterham Seven Caterham Seven 160 to the powerful and expensive Seven 620 R, the Caterham line of Sevens is nothing short of impressive. Caterham cars remain rather scarce in the States, but for 2015, the automaker is growing its lineup in America with the addition of the Seven 480.

We live in the golden age for performance cars. Most old-school enthusiasts will say that the 70’s were the golden years because big, bad muscle cars and a "No replacement for displacement" attitude. I respectfully disagree, because while old school muscle cars are cool, they never really got any power out of those huge engines. Nowadays, car makers can get huge performance numbers out of engines with the same displacement as a container of milk. A perfect example of this is Caterham . A small British car company, who hangs its hat on making small, ultra lightweight performance cars. People might snicker at a purpose built track car that only has 237 horsepower, but when it flies past you on the track, that snicker will quickly fade. While Caterhams are wonderful cars, they’ve been absent in America. Now, however, Caterham here, in the good ole U.S. of A.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Caterham Seven 480.

Launched in 2014 in Europe, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is the company’s first front-wheel-drive vehicle. Mainly aimed at the Mercedes-Benz B-Class , the Active Tourer is powered by three different engines. A 1.5-liter, inline-three delivers 136 horsepower, while a 2.0-liter four-banger cranks out 231 ponies. On the diesel side, BMW offers a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder rated at 150 horses and 243 pound-feet of torque. Although U.S. availability for the 2 Series Active Tourer has yet to be announced as of August 2014, the Germans are already working on expanding the lineup, with a plug-in hybrid model is set to arrive in 2015. As we’re moving closer to the year the regular model is likely to hit U.S. shores, BMW has been caught testing a seven-seat version of the Active Tourer.

If you thought BMW went bananas by launching an MPV-like, front-wheel-drive vehicle, then be prepared to meet the Active Tourer’s bigger brother. Is BMW creating another niche? Well, it’s longer and it can carry up to seven people. Guess it’s different enough to survive on its own.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 BMW 2 Series Active Tourer

Audi appears to be readying the next version of the popular A4 sedan. Our spy photographer captured these images in Europe as the driver had seemingly stepped away. Though the outside still looks like the current-generation A4, this is certainly an Audi test mule. The hood appears to be secured by latches, there are odd caps over the center of the wheels, and the interior is loaded with testing equipment and black coverings.

Lucky for us, the driver apparently forgot to drape the covers over the dashboard, giving an open view to the camera. The most noticeable difference is the placement of the infotainment screen. No longer is it housed within the dash, but is perched atop the dash like the current A6 . It also appears the vents within the center console have grown larger.

What’s more, the center display in the gauge cluster shows an overview of the car, or what really looks to be an A4 Avant. Perhaps this is what the next A4 Avant will look like? Another clue is that 6,000-rpm redline on the tachometer, suggesting the current 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four is under the hood. Audi’s battery of tests also appears to include some light towing as the A4 is complete with a hitch sprouting from under its bumper.

It will likely be late 2015 before Audi releases the updated A4 as a 2016 model, so we have a while to wait. Then again, if Audi engineers keep leaving test mules uncovered and unattended, we may get a sneak peak long before then.

Click past the jump to read more about 2016 Audi A4

BMW introduced the 1 Series compact in 2004. Initially available only as a five-door hatchback , the 1 Series gained a three-door version and two-door coupe and convertible iterations in 2007. While the first-gen hatchback was redesigned in 2011, the coupe and convertible models remained in dealerships until 2013 and 2014, respectively. In 2011, BMW launched the second-gen five-door hatchback, while the three-door version followed in 2012. Three 3.0-liter, inline-six powertrains were offered in the United States. The entry-level 128i model came with 230 horsepower and 200 pound-feet, the mid-range 135i had 300 horsepower and pound-feet, while the 135is cranked out 320 ponies and 317 pound-feet. As we move closer to the 2015 model year, BMW is readying a mid-life refresh for the second-generation 1 Series.

Expected to debut at the 2014 Paris Motor Show in October, the facelifted 1 Series receives updated front and rear fascias, a slightly revised interior and mild upgrades under the hood. Our spy photographers have already spotted a test vehicle on the road with less than two months before its debut.

Click past the jump to read more about the BMW 1 Series

The Scion FR-S and its corporate cousins the Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT86 are still relatively new to the sports car scene, having been launched in 2012. The cars represent an interesting alliance between Subaru and Toyota , two Japanese automakers, with Toyota taking care of the design work and Subaru handling the greasy bits underneath.

Though the cars have been well received by journalist and enthusiast the world over, it seems sales, at least in the U.S., arn’t living up to the hype with just over 40,000 FR-S units moved since 2012 and roughly 18,000 BRZs sold. That’s an oddity considering just how well the cars fulfill the sport car checklist.

I recently spent a week behind the wheel of a Scion FR-S getting to know its personality. My tester came equipped with nothing more than optional six-speed automatic transmission. No navigation or SiriusXM; just an honest sports coupe with a willing powerplant and skinny tires that made driving anywhere an exciting event.

Click past the jump for the full rundown of the 2014 Scion FR-S

The Corvette hit showrooms in 1953 with a petite six-pot under its hood and a sluggish 10-plus-second 0-to-60-mph time. Sure, it was slow and rather un-Corvette-like, but it was the model that launched the greatness that is the Corvette. The C1 Corvette was also the last time we saw a production model without pop-up headlights before the C6 generation debuted in 2005. In 2014, the C7 hit the market with heavily revised styling. Following that up was the Z06 in 2015 that made all the Euro supercars stand up and take notice and now we have a convertible version of the mighty Z06..

The big deal about it is that this is the first factory-built Corvette Z06 Convertible since 1963, when Chevy introduced the said package as a performance update for endurance racing. It was actually called "RPO Z06" and included a larger-diameter front anti-roll bar, a vacuum brake booster, a dual master cylinder, larger shocks and stiffer springs.

Because it also came with a gas tank that was nearly double the size of standard 20-gallon tank, the package was only available on coupe models at first. However, the manufacturer says that one convertible was fitted with the Z06 bundle that year.

Getting back to the newly-revealed model, Chevrolet claims the Z06 Convertible represents "the culmination of more than four years developing an all-new, all-aluminum structure." You see, because the new structure is much more stiffer than the previous Z06, the drop-top sports car needed no structural reinforcements, which means its curb weight won’t be affected by missing a fixed roof.

Update 8/22/2014: GM has revealed the Corvette Z06 Convertible’s base price of $83,995. See all of the details after the jump.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Convertible.

The Corvette hit showrooms in 1953 with a 150-cubic-inch six-pot under its hood and a 10-plus-second 0-to-60-mph time. It was no speed demon, but it was the foundation that the greatness that is the Corvette was build upon. The C1 Corvette was also the last time we saw a production model without pop-up headlights before the C6 generation debuted in 2005. In 2014, the C7 and its wild, European styling hit the market, giving Ferrari and other premium brands a reason to check out what’s going on in America. Following that up was the Z06 in 2015 that made all the Euro supercars stand up and take notice.

With the new 2014 Corvette Stingray already in showrooms, we all knew that we were going to soon see a more powerful version. And now that has become a reality, as Chevrolet revealed the potent 2015 Corvette Z06 at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show.

The Corvette Z06 will keep enthusiasts happy until the the new ZR1 model hits the market, if it ever finds its way onto the market.

Just like the previous Z06 , the 2015 model, will be offered with a more aggressive exterior look, a more powerful engine, sport suspension and a new, high-performance brake system. General Motors is also offering an optional Z07 kit that will transform the new Corvette Z06 will deliver unprecedented levels of aerodynamic downforce - in fact the best in any GM model ever.

Update 8/22/2014: GM has revealed the Corvette Z06’s base price of $78,995. See all of the details after the jump.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06.

Have you noticed how more and more pickup trucks have come to match regular cars in terms of fancy, luxurious convenience features and technology ? Gone are the days when trucks used to feature a simple dash, a vinyl-wrapped bench, and roll-down windows. Nowadays, truck drivers travel in comfy leather seats and benefit from infotainment systems and other electronic gadgets. Heck, the 2015 Ford F-150 can even be had with massaging seats. The trend isn’t exactly new, however. Back in the 1970s, Detroit began offering visual features initially available on muscle cars on its trucks too. The second-gen Chevy C/K, for instance, was offered with the same Rally wheels and stripes that could be ordered on the Camaro . And it looked downright cool, too. Fast forward to 2015, Chevrolet is expanding the Silverado lineup with a Rally Edition model.

Although unrelated to the aforementioned C/K, the Silverado Rally Edition is only about enhanced visuals. The two distinct packages, available on 1500 Double Cab and Crew Cab pickups, add a tad of fancy to Chevy’s bread-and-butter truck without meddling with its drivetrain. Read on to find out what makes this special-edition Silverado special.

Click past the jump to read more about the Chevrolet Silverado Rally Edition

Mopar, AMG , SVT, and TRD – all names synonymous with factory performance with balanced characteristics and an intact vehicle warranty. Yet with these great names in manufacturer-approved performance parts, one automaker was suspiciously absent from the scene despite having a huge aftermarket following: Honda .

That’s about to change with Honda’s new Honda Performance Development, or HPD division. Roll out will be quite slow, however, as the division builds a name for itself within the Honda brand. HPD’s first project is the slow-selling Honda CR-Z hybrid .

Owners of manual-transmission CR-Zs can now have Honda install a 200,000 rpm Rotrex centrifugal traction-drive supercharger mated to a Griffiths air-to-air intercooler. A respectable 67-horsepower increase is expected, bringing total horsepower to 197 ponies and roughly 170 pound-feet of torque, while fuel consumption remains at 42 mpg. Other modifications to the CR-Z includes a performance exhaust, suspension upgrades, a wheel and tire package, and a big brake kit. Not bad for a hybrid. The supercharger kit runs $5,495 plus installation.

Philip LaPointe, manager of HPD Street Performance, told Automotive News in an interview that, “We’re sticking our first toe in the water. We didn’t want to start with too high volume. We need to know who’s going to build the parts and distribute them. We need to get our dealers and logistics up to speed."

LaPointe continued saying the performance parts for other Honda models would go on sale over the next few years. Buys will likely be waiting till the all-new 2016 Civic rolls out before a full-on HPD kit would be available from the dealer showroom, however. “The dream scenario is to have performance parts available at [new-product] launch,” he said.

Honda will allow buyers to retain the balance of their factory warranty even with the supercharger kit installed.

Updated 8/21/2014: Honda has finally unveiled the final specifications and cost for the supercharger kit from HPD. Not only is it more powerful that we expected, but it also is cheaper than expected and the full warranty remains intact.

Click past the jump for more on the Honda CR-Z by HPD

Discontinued in 2012 as Saab was filing for bankruptcy, the 9-3 sedan made a surprising return in 2013, when the brand was revived under National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) ownership. But instead of launching the third-generation model that was in the works before Saab went bankrupt, NEVS started building second-gen cars at the company’s Trollhattan production plant. Identical to the 2012 model, the "new" sedan arrived in dealerships without the trademark griffin logos and with a turbocharged, 2.0-liter, four-banger under the hood.While NEVS is undoubtedly working on a modern replacement for the 9-3 , the next-generation vehicle won’t be launched for at least two more years. Instead, the Swedes are reportedly looking to reintroduce the 9-3 SportCombi and have already confirmed plans to offer an electric iteration of the current sedan.

The EV is still not ready to go into production, but NEVS has just unveiled the prototype that will become an actual Saab product in the near future.

Click past the jump to read more about the Saab 9-3 EV Prototype


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