Philippe Daix

More often behind his keyboard than on the road, you can still catch him on the auto show floor, harassing engineers to understand what lies beneath the pretty body work.

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Best flashlight for auto enthusiast : Fenix HL60R

Best flashlight for auto enthusiast : Fenix HL60R

High output, Rechargeable LED flashlight for your zombie apocalypse toolbox

Today we are talking about my favorite portable light source, the Fenix HL60R headlamp. It is powerful, light, rechargeable, pretty, practical, essential and so-so affordable but still the best flashlight you will ever own.

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SUPER RACING GT : DRAG PRO

SUPER RACING GT : DRAG PRO

2013 - 2015 Scion FR-S

2013 - 2015 Scion FR-S

For all of the press and hype surrounding the Toyota GT 86 and the Subaru BRZ, not a lot of people know or have given love to the third model of the bunch, the Scion FR-S.

All that’s about to change because the Scion FR-S has arrived. For those that have shed rivers of tears when they found out that neither the GT 86 nor the BRZ were headed Stateside, news that the FR-S will arrive in America is tantamount to a post Thanksgiving blessing.

Now, we’ve actually seen a concept version of the FR-S - called the FR-S Concept - at the New York Auto Show, so it really didn’t come as a surprise to a lot of us that the sports coupe was coming to the US, but seeing the concept and seeing the production version are two different things.

It doesn’t even matter that we’re not getting the GT 86 and the BRZ. We have the FR-S, and just like a child that comes to us, we’re going to shower it with as much love as we can possibly give.

Updated 05/15/2015: Scion today announced prices and updates for the 2015 FR-S sports car set to go on sale just in time for summer. Updates for the 2015 model year include: a more rigid front suspension and re-tuning of the rear shock absorbers, larger exhaust tips and for the interior an updated panel with a carbon fiber look. The model will also get auto on/off headlights. Prices for the 2015 FR-S will start from $24,900 for the six-speed manual version and $26,000 for the six-speed automatic one.

Find out more about the Scion FR-S after the jump.

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SKID CARS

SKID CARS

1.3333|1
Drag Racer V3

Drag Racer V3

Earn To Die

Earn To Die

Renegade Racing

Renegade Racing

Rocket Robin by TopGear

Rocket Robin by TopGear

Bum's Rush

Bum’s Rush

Drifting championship

Drifting championship

Gas Mania

Gas Mania

Ice racer

Ice racer

Ownage Burst

Ownage Burst

Vector Runner

Vector Runner

The Heist

The Heist

Create a Ride

Create a Ride

Grand Prix Go 2

Grand Prix Go 2

Highway Police

Highway Police

Micro Racer 2

Micro Racer 2

1.9|6
Retro Rally

Retro Rally

Rural Racer

Rural Racer

Van

Van

Mobil 1 Track Challenge

Mobil 1 Track Challenge

VXR

VXR

Freeway Fury

Freeway Fury

Meteoro Speed

Meteoro Speed

Customize Your Ride

Customize Your Ride

Park A Lot

Park A Lot

Hot Rod Racing

Hot Rod Racing

Nitro Sprint Club

Nitro Sprint Club

Reach The Goal

Reach The Goal

Octane Racing

Octane Racing

Stunt Dirt Bike

Stunt Dirt Bike

Diesel and death

Diesel and death

Cyclo Maniacs

Cyclo Maniacs

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 - First Open-Top Drive Video

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 - First Open-Top Drive Video

The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray hysteria is just reaching full steam, so please avert your eyes if you are already bored to tears with the legendary Vette.

But part of the hoopla is genuine excitement that Chevy has produced such a vastly-improved sports car. After a few different drives by the TopSpeed team, the similarities in what we observed in these two different C7 models are remarkable.

Two guys who were traditionally more anti-Corvette would be hard to find. So the shared observations about the handling, power, cabin and - especially - theC7’s vastly improved structural rigidity are a resounding vote of confidence in the new Corvette.

For skeptics, all we can say is try it out before you flock to Porsche or BMW for classy driving thrills.

My drive was up near Chicago in a blue C7, whereas TopSpeed’s founder Philippe was lucky enough to take a top-off cruise around Miami in a white example.

With palm trees flying by the windows and the blue sky visible above Phil’s curly hair, the Miami Vice jokes are on the tip of my tongue. I will refrain, however, as my first Stingray review already ruffled some feathers among the Vette faithful.

But the red leather of Phil’s Stingray Z51 really looks right so close to the ocean and all the glamor of South Beach.

Click past the jump to enjoy this detailed TopSpeed First-Drive Video of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51, one of the first media outlets to sample the Vette with its targa top panel stowed in the giant trunk.

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2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited

2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited

At the 2010 New York Auto Show, Hyundai unveiled the Sonata Hybrid, and the 2014 model that we got our hands on its nearly identical to the debut model.

Regardless of its age — about 40 years old in car years — the Sonata Hybrid still looks pretty modern, with its distinctive front fascia that shows off LED-trimmed headlamps and a wavy front grill. The LED taillights and aerodynamic rims are the only details that scream "hybrid." Though it remains relatively up to date, we do expect Hyundai to reveal a redesigned Sonata line for 2015, including the hybrid model.

The interior is very well-appointed, and only LCD gauges and "Blue Efficiency" button on the steering wheel clue you in that this is indeed a hybrid model. A quick press of this "Blue Efficiency" button, and the Sonata Hybrid awakens from its efficient — boring — mode. The hybrid system is attached to a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that pumps out 159 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque. The hybrid system chimes in with an extra 47 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. In all, this system puts down a respectable 200 horsepower, but don’t expect the mid-3,000-pound, midsize cruiser to pin you to your seat.

After some seat time in the Lexus ES Hybrid, we are a little spoiled, but we have to remind you that you get what you pay for. The Sonata checks in around $30,000, and it delivers a premium look and feel. Taking into consideration that hybrid cars tend receive a 20 to 30 percent premium over their gasoline counterparts, the Sonata Hybrid is a relative bargain.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited

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2014 Nissan Sentra SR

2014 Nissan Sentra SR

With every passing year, compact cars seem to get better and better, so it’s no surprise that the the Sentra is not the same entry-level, cheapo Nissan it used to be. Our Sentra tester is fitted with the SR trim package, which adds in plenty of bells and whistles that you would expect from a more expensive vehicle, including keyless entry, push-button start and navigation. The best part is the price; at $21,550 as tested, the Sentra SR offers plenty of bang for your buck.

The Sentra SR’s exterior is very well appointed with LED headlight surrounds, sport front and rear bumpers, and side skirts that look like they belong in "The Fast and the Furious" series. Even the alloy wheels look pretty good for the price.

What really pulls the whole exterior together is that Electric Metallic Blue paint that we last saw on the 370Z a few years back. Sure, it’s not a Ferrari, but there’s a lot to take in for the price point.

The interior is a not quite as satisfying as the outside, but the push-button start and navigation system for under $22k, we’re not complaining.

The seats are cloth, but they look good for the class, and the dash is padded with the more expensive, soft plastic. Add to that trimming that doesn’t feel like it was stamped in the same Chinese factory as your iPhone case, and the overall interior package is fairly attractive. Top that with good rear leg room, nice visibility all around and folding rear seats, and you have a flexible product with very little compromises.

On the road, the Sentra drives okay, but with a CVT driving the front wheels, it is not an overly exhilarating experience. The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels better than a lot of more expensive cars, and the CVT does a good job at limiting torque steer and unwanted movement in the steering wheel.

The suspension is comfortable for daily use, but it also allows you to take corners with confidence. We even caught ourselves taking a few corners fast enough to get a little feedback from the tires, which added a some extra fun to the drive. Is it Porsche fun? No, but it is above average for the econo-box class.

Overall The Nissan Sentra SR gives you a lot for your money. On the outside, it looks good enough to prevent your buddies from chuckling at you when you roll up in it, and inside, you have plenty of premium features to keep you happy for years to come.

Of course, with the 2014 Toyota Corolla debuting a sporty look, your choice of entry-level sedans is getting harder.

Toyota Corolla
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2014 Toyota Tundra Test Drive

2014 Toyota Tundra Test Drive

The 2014 truck season is in full swing, and some of the main manufacturers are launching all-new variants of their resident pickups. Chevrolet already released its new 2014 Silverado, and Ford is set to reveal its all-new 2015 F150 that will be based on the 2013 Atlas Concept.

Even SUVs are off to a good start, with the debut of the 2014 X5 and 2014 Range Rover Sport. Toyota has been waiting patiently for the pickup market to come back, and its is now set to launch the 2014 Tundra with "Truck Of The Year" aspirations.

The Tundra looks quite similar to last year’s model but if you look closer, you’ll find that it is loaded with improvements.

Toyota invited us to the woods of Georgia to test drive it and see how it does on and off the road, as well as with a trailer hitched to the back end.

Click past the jump to read what we think of it.

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2014 Subaru Impreza WRX STi

2014 Subaru Impreza WRX STi

The 2014 STI risks getting lost in the shuffle of the next-gen WRX’s launch at this fall’s Los Angeles auto show. As is customary for Subaru when upgrading the Impreza-based models, the next-gen STI will follow the regular WRX as a projected 2016 model year intro.

That is more than enough time to fall in love again with the current model’s brash styling, forceful turbocharged power delivery, and better tech integration in the cockpit than ever before. 305 horsepower and a 4.7-second sprint to 60 mph means the WRX STI is still a favorite here in the TopSpeed Garage.

Introduced for 2011, the current STI’s strength as a Subaru performance flagship is fully intact. As a low-volume model, its boxer rumble casts a performance glow over even the base $18,000 Impreza sedan. No changes to the STI for 2014, aside from the audio system now offering integration of Aha’s music app.

First-hand driving impressions of this track toy are included, as are comparisons with the WRX STI’s potent competition from the BMW 135i and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.

Click past the jump for the full TopSpeed Garage review of the 2014 Subaru WRX STI, still a game-changer with wild turbo boost and AWD traction to make every corner seem like a straightaway.

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2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

The Grand Cherokee SRT is Jeep’s real hero car, and the only one to compete effectively with the super-SUV benchmark from Porsche. The Jeep’s drastic SRT makeover is arguably the most effective across the Chrysler range by blending the huge Hemi V-8’s torque with the sure-footed and quite advanced Grand Cherokee platform.

A change across the board from “SRT8” to “SRT” for all the performance trims prepares the range for its next generation of super and turbocharged SRT models - with forced induction making the SRT6, SRT4 etc cylinder counts much less meaningful.

The SRT conversion makes the Grand Cherokee one of the most entertaining models out of Auburn Hills, with all the track attitude and road muscle of the Viper but far fewer tradeoffs in daily driving.

As almost a totally distinct model from the Grand Cherokee range, the SRT version is new for 2014 with the latest interior tech upgrades, a new eight-speed auto transmission, and the tasteful headlight LED accents that were new this year on the base models.

Combined with the menacing nose graphic of the Grand Cherokee SRT, the additional LED lights update the nose appearance nicely. A black lower bumper shroud makes the SRT seem mean even with the lights off, with its 20-inch wheels and giant tires looking very prominent from all angles.

The real news with this latest Jeep is new launch control programming for the cutting-edge autobox that should offer an even quicker sprint than the last model’s 5.1-second rush to 60 mph. Smoothness, economy, and tow ratings are also all up across the board, making this Grand Cherokee SRT quite an appealing prospect for hot-rod SUV shoppers.

Will the loss of the "8" on the badge hurt its street cred versus the Range Rover Sport? Is the price premium and five-seat layout a problem versus the Ford Explorer Sport?

Click past the jump for all the latest images and details of the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT.

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Geneva Auto Show

Geneva Auto Show

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Lamborghini Ramping up 50th Anniversary with Aventador Roadster Launch in Miami

Lamborghini Ramping up 50th Anniversary with Aventador Roadster Launch in Miami

It’s no secret that Lambo has huge plans for its 50th anniversary and that the Aventador is due to lose its top in the U.S. market… officially. The Italian automaker decided why not just kick them both off at the same time, which it did today in Miami and we were there to witness it all.

The day kicked off at noon today in Miami, and began with a press conference across from the Breakwater Hotel and a 40-car parade down Collins Avenue. During the press conference, Lambo unveiled the much-anticipated Aventador LP700-4 Roadster to us media folk and it was definitely worth the wait. Have a look at our collection of images and you can see just how sexy the car really is.

On top of the official unveiling of the drop-top supercar, Lambo also satisfied our appetite for some speed. It accomplished this feat by closing off a runway at the Miami International Airport – the first time MIA has ever close a runway for an automotive event – to allow 12 Aventadors to run wild down the long straight stretch, peaking out at over 180 mph.

What a phenomenal showing by Lambo.

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BFGoodrich Rival - Extreme Performance Tire Test

BFGoodrich Rival - Extreme Performance Tire Test

BFGoodrich is coming up with a new extreme-performance tire, the Rival. That category of tire is the last street-legal step before you go to the dark side with race-only tires. If you are looking for mind-blowing performance, you owe it to yourself to shop in that category. The usual suspects are the Hankook RS3, Toyo R1R, Yokohama AD08, Kumho XS and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup.

Until now, BFG’s most extreme street tire was the Comp-2. Launched in 2012, the Comp-2 tire received first place on TireRack’s ultra-high-performance tire survey, not bad.

Michelin acquired BFGoodrich in 1988, so while BFG tires are solely manufactured in the USA, BFG benefits from all the research and development Michelin can offer. Think about it, all the goodies at a lesser price and made in the USA!

The Rival offers a couple of very distinctive features that make BFG hope it will be the next big thing. To prove its worth, they invited us for a full day of torture testing against the competition. Keep reading for our impressions first hand.

UPDATE: BFG posted two new videos to promote their new Rival tire, check them out after the jump.

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2013 Porsche 911 S - Sport Design Package

2013 Porsche 911 S - Sport Design Package

After a patent leak about an upcoming bodykit for the 991, we’ve finally captured our first images of the 2013 Porsche 911 Sport Design Package at the 2012 Miami Auto Show. The famous Porsche duck tail from the 1970’s is back, along with a more aggressive front bumper. The $5,366 option is a must have for all tuning enthusiasts willing to embellish their 991 with a bodykit, which so far was only available on the limited edition 991 Club Coupe. On this gorgeous guard red model, the wheel option is adding a whopping $7,482. The 20 inch rims add to the overall look, but the price is outrageous for wheels that most likely are not any lighter than the base OEM. For that kind of money we’d rather go buy ourselves a set of ultralight HRE or CCW wheels. Nevertheless, Porsche came up with a very good looking body kit, for those too busy to look into the aftermarket or the devoted Porsche OEM fanboys. On a last note, we can’t wait to see the new 2014 Porsche 991 GT3 body kit, Stuttgart’s designers still have it!

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2013 Dodge Dart Slingshot

2013 Dodge Dart Slingshot

Just like almost every other automaker, Chrysler has headed into Las Vegas with guns a blazin’. Between Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Fiat, and Ram, there are more custom Chrysler products than you can shake a camshaft at. Another one to just come to light is the Dodge Dart Slingshot — not to be confused with the Dodge Slingshot Concept.

The details on it are still a little scarce, but they are starting to make their way out, along with some images. The Slingshot is no question a hat tip to the SCCA-style racers in Dodge’s fan base. It’s exterior is very near stock, boasting only a Mopar carbon-fiber hood and a set of 17-inch black alloy wheels to help reduce its weight a little. The exterior is, of course, covered in full Mopar livery along with a white base coat and a black grille.

Inside the Dart Slingshot is where its SSCA soul comes out. As required by the racing circuit, the Slingshot features a competition-spec roll cage, racing seats, and six-point harnesses to keep the riders strapped in place.

Under the hood, it appears as if Mopar left the engine as-is. Then again, the 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine that Dodge borrowed from Fiat is rather impressive itself, as it pumps out 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The only modification to the driveline is an aftermarket exhaust system that is more show and sound than it is performance.

Mopar did install a performance suspension system, but we are still awaiting confirmation on what makes up this performance setup.

Stay tuned for more information.

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DIY - Changing Only Your Oil Filter

DIY - Changing Only Your Oil Filter

If you drive your car hard, then chances are you are worried about your engine more than most drivers. Forums are filled with horror stories that will transform the biggest fanboy into a doubter at the drop of a hat. Most of us change our oil on a regular basis, some people waste their time with 3,000-mile oil changes, but I prefer to inspect my oil filter very often, and especially after each track day.

If your engine is constantly nearing its redline, then it will like shed bits of various metal components, which is actually fairly normal. Though this is a normal thing to happen, these contaminants can get caught up in the filter and restrict the oil flow just enough to cause damage at higher rpm.

Few racers know that you can actually change the filter without doing a complete oil change. So you can keep all but about a half-quart of the good oil in the engine and get a fresh filter — I prefer Purolator — in there to keep it all flowing as it’s supposed to.

Click past the jump to see how it’s done.

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First contact with Subaru BRZ at Fort Lauderdale Auto Show

While we were polishing our photography skills at the 2012 Fort-Lauderdale Auto Show, we had our first contact with the new 2013 Subaru BRZ. The Subaru/Toyota love child exceeded our expectations in all aspects. At first glimpse it looks very low to the ground, which is a good thing considering both manufacturer wanted this vehicle to have the lowest center of gravity in this market segment, even lower than the Porsche Cayman. All exterior design elements such as headlights, tail lights, wings and bumper look very high quality and all body panel fit nice and tight. After waiting our turn behind a long line of enthusiasts, we jumped inside and again bulls eye. The seating position is sporty and low to the ground as we hoped. Knobs and other controls are made out of high quality material and you would not think the car will cost in the mid to high $20k.

The overall feel is very close to the mazda miata, a little tight but exactly what we needed to go to the track on the cheap.

Keep in mind the Subaru BRZ is the high end model and the Toyota GT86 or Scion FR-S will be a little cheaper.

We overheard that the production will be limited, sales pitch or not, and the delivery will take approximately 10 weeks, if you act fast. The convertible versionS should reach our shore in the fall of 2012.

Check out the video and the picture gallery but if you remotely want to buy one, you better hurry to place your order because it was definitely the star of the show. So many people wanted to sit in it, the Subaru people had to lock it up after only 2 hours of public display!

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TopSpeed is giving away Abarth scorpions

Fiat is promoting their new 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth with a scorpion hunt/giveaway. Find eight Scorpion (symbol of Abarth) scattered around the web and you will enter to win one for yourself!

To show your investigative skills, you need to go to the Abarth Facebook giveaway page, and you will be provided with clues to find your lethal friends. The clues are tough to crack, but if you read this, you are in luck because TopSpeed is giving away one of the 8 scorpions. Check out our homepage and you should be able to grab that one easily. Be fast or they will be gone by March 4th 2012.

Happy scorpion hunting !

Update: Some of you asked us why they could not see the scorpion on our homepage. The Abarth scorpions are only showing their menacing logo if you are connected to internet from the USA.

If you are using ad blocker, you will need to disable those to see the scorpion. Here is a link to how it should look like

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Super bowl commerical - it’s Halftime in America

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Chrysler is coming up with their own tagline for the 2012 Super Bowl, ’it’s halftime in America’. Instead of going for the usually funny commercial, they take a much stronger stance with a serious celebrity to replace Eminem. We like the patriotic spirit behind the commercial, and Chrysler is the perfect spokesperson to say that America is coming back. We need more commercials like these, especially during the Super Bowl. Good move Chrysler!.

UPDATE: It looks like the video has been removed because of some Copyrights claims from the NFL. Chrysler must have overlooked how picky the NFL is about their licensing fees. Too bad it was a good one.

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Super Bowl Ad: Toyota Camry Super Bowl commercial reinvents everything!

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You have to give credit to Toyota for bringing to the market another good looking Toyota Camry; The new model look sportier than ever. To celebrate the new car, Toyota is releasing a trendy Superbowl commercial featuring some good fun. The best selling sedan, known for its bullet proof reliability is turning cops into massage therapist and couch into supermodel wearing bikinis. We would’ve liked to see a bit more of the car itself but check it out and tweet away on the special #reinvented hashtag, made specially for the new Camry’s rejuvenated, or shall we say, reinvented campaign.

Check out after the jump our favorite Camry commercial, praising the muscle power coming out of their V6.

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Super Bowl Ad: Hyundai commercial, All for one, Rocks Rocky theme song acapella

Super Bowl Ad: Hyundai commercial, All for one, Rocks Rocky theme song acapella

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Hyundai is putting their whole factory personnel back at the promotional work in this new Superbowl commercial. If you remember they already had a quite successful factory commercial back in 2010, see that one after the jump. In this new attempt, Hyundai combines the latest trend/frenzy of acapella singing with the very patriotic Rocky theme song. In order to grasp the full idea behind the commercial, you have to understand that Hyundai produce most of their US vehicles in their ultra modern factory located in Montgomery Alabama...in the USA. So this is a little reminder that Hyundai is building their car in the USA and in good American spirit nonetheless. We are not sure about the tag line coming along the commercial, "There’s always a way. That’s just our way", but we like the commercial.

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Free iPad App for motorheads: Christophorus Porsche magazine

Free iPad App for motorheads: Christophorus Porsche magazine

While the Apple Ipad offers all major motorhead magazines in their "Newsstand", they are not cheap. In fact they cost as much as the paper version, unless you get into the subscription thing. Anyways, life on itunes is not easy when you are broke. Porsche, of all brands, is bringing the smile back on the penny pincher’s face with a free Ipad app worth downloading. It is called Christophorus, and you can download it directly from this link. Don’t ask me why it is called Christophorasarus, I have no clue.

The app is like many magazine apps out there, but while it is free, Porsche has not cheapened out on the merchandise. You will find plenty of interactive content. While the app itself is a little slow to respond from one feature to another, once loaded, the pages slide and flow nicely . It is all about enjoying cool animations and sharp pictures from Porsche’s marketing team.

In the edition 352, I particularly enjoyed the sliding layers showing the evolution of the 911 over time. Or unveiling the cover on the new 991 with my fingertip.

If you are a Porsche fan, and who isn’t, you have to download this one. Did I mention it is free?

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The Purr of the Big Cat: Jaguar's Lineup is both Elegant and Sporty

The Purr of the Big Cat: Jaguar’s Lineup is both Elegant and Sporty

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Jaguar is known for a lot of things with the words "luxurious," "classy," "elegant," and "powerful" being thrown around most often. Their full lineup of vehicles exude power and class, and have done so since 1949 when the XK 120 was born. They have followed the bigger and better trend over the years, but their elegance and sport have always been a staple in their production.

Their new lineup continues this trend with the XJ, XK, XF models glistening in the light of Jaguar’s success, and offering even more sparkle for the future. This is the face of Jaguar and might we add, it’s something that a lot of us have always dreamed of.

More videos highlighting Jaguar’s Lineup can be found after the jump.

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Adam Frucci "Unboxes" the 2012 Toyota Yaris

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It seems that people are always out looking for something bigger and better in every aspect of their lives, even in their cars. If someone goes out and buys a vehicle with a navigation system, the next person ups the ante by purchasing a vehicle that has a navigation system and parking assist. It’s a battle of one upsmanship and throughout the war, the only thing we lose out on is the beauty of the vehicle’s simplistic, yet amazing design. Toyota is addressing this with the "unboxing" of the 2012 Toyota Yaris.

In this video, Adam Frucci (a writer and performer in Brooklyn) takes on the task of opening up a specially designed box to reveal the brand new 2012 Toyota Yaris. The bells and whistles of this vehicle are simple: round wheels, a honkable horn, a glove box the size of a veggie burrito, and windows that go up and down. These are some of things that have been downplayed in most vehicles nowadays and Toyota is choosing to celebrate them in their 2012 Toyota Yaris.

The new Toyota Yaris will be offered in both three and five-door body styles versions with a choice of three engines: a 1.0 liter petrol engine, a 1.33 liter petrol unit, or a 1.4-liter D-4D turbo diesel. The three-cylinder 1.0-liter VVT-i petrol engine delivers a total of 68 HP and 68 lbs-ft. Fuel economy now sits at 58.9mpg. The 1.33-liter Dual VVT-i engine is also light and compact, generating 98 HP and 92 lbs-ft. When matched to the new Multidrive S transmission, fuel economy is 56.5mpg. Finally, the 1.4-litre D-4D engine is fitted as standard with a diesel particulate filter (DPF) and delivers a total of 89 HP and 151 lbs-ft. When mated to a six-speed manual transmission the engine delivers a fuel economy of 72.4mpg.

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Senna the movie

Senna the movie

We had the chance to watch the Ayrton Senna documentary yesterday, thanks to a special screening organized in Miami by trackweekend.com and we have to say that we loved it. This is a must seen for all of you who watched the Senna / Prost battle in the late 80s and early 90s. If you are too young to have witnessed the battle yourself, additional footage from the driver’s meeting and behind the scene will help you feel what was at stake. I remember watching the F1 championship myself at the time and I think this documentary adds another dimension to the fight that both driver were having on and off the track. The movie itself is well made and entertained my wife who is not even remotely a racing fan.

Go watch the Senna documentary on the big screen while you can. You deserve to watch those on board camera footage on a 50 feet screen!

Hit the jump to watch the youtube trailer

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Lamborghini Gallardo supperlegera twin turbo cruising Miami streets - without rear bumper

Lamborghini Gallardo supperlegera twin turbo cruising Miami streets - without rear bumper

When we caught this Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera driving in Miami without rear bumper, we felt for the poor owner and his damaged toy. But as we were getting closer, we realized that the missing rear bumper was in fact a pretty cool way to show off its bi-turbo chromed internals.

The car was pretty driving slowly and we soon realized that it was on its way to a car show, but still pretty cool way to show of your Gallardo turbos.

Check the video for a taste of the turbocharged engine.

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Video: Insane Jump by a Buick Le Sabre

Video: Insane Jump by a Buick Le Sabre

We don’t think a day goes by when we don’t hear about a super car crashing here or a stupid driver carelessly swerving there, but it is a rare opportunity when a stunt actually goes as planned. Maybe it’s because drivers just don’t have the skills needed to succeed at the task at hand or maybe cars just aren’t made like they used to be. Either way, we’re more likely to see the disastrous end of a gnarly machine then see it go for the gold in any of the tricks set before it.

This is why we are ecstatic to present this 30-year-old piece of junk - aka a Buick LeSabre - that has enough gusto to jump as high as four feet at 100mph gaining a huge amount of respect from us, not for the naive driver at the wheel, but for his lucky ride that is dead set on working overtime.

And for the crash hungry that can’t seem to get enough of compressed sheet metal, shimmy on down past the jump to check out a brand new Camaro as it demonstrates how not to make the jump.

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testte

testte

tsett

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test 2

test 2

tst I am trying to edit this thingy

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2010 Chevrolet E-Rod Pickup

2010 Chevrolet E-Rod Pickup

Sometimes the old ways are just the best and, in terms of truck design, this would be one of those times. This old school Chevrolet truck harks back to the old days when you actually used these machines for work, not for driving the kids to school or heading down to the Home Depot for a few supplies.

What we have here is something special and it really stood out at this year’s SEMA show. We know it’s over now and the past is the past, but this E-Rod pickup is just way too cool to leave for the history books. Although, that green paint scheme probably should have been left in the past.

We have some fresh new photos of the truck to share and some new information on the what’s living underneath the bonnet. Needless to say, it’s a rocket that has been tamed back for the environment.

Hit the jump to find out.

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BMW M3 - deutschgasm video

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Space Blaze

Space Blaze

2011 Subaru WRX STi Sedan caught in the wild

2011 Subaru WRX STi Sedan caught in the wild

Thanks to one of our addicted reader, we just received the first shot of the 2011 Subaru WRX Sti sedan in the wild. Looks like the car is parked in a warehouse, most likely awaiting the delivery truck that will bring her rightful owner. This is a big news for all Subaru fans out there, who are still wondering what happened to their beloved 4 door sedan Sti. Let’s hope this is the return of the ultra aggressive Subaru’s as we used to love them back in the days, before the Mitsubishi Evo came to bring down the king of AWD sports cars.

Keep in mind that the glorious return of the STi sedan in 2010 comes with a big push for the wide body. Indeed, all the WRX, even without the STi mojo under the hood will all come with the extra body kit. Too bad as we were BIIIG fans of the regular narrow body / stealth 2009 WRX. At least, we hope that Subaru will not stab in the back the left foot heavy who are spending the extra $ on the real Sti, by selling the STi badge as a $5 option on the WRX model!

Thanks to Robbie Tigan for the tip.

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2011 Fiat 500 caught testing in the USA

2011 Fiat 500 caught testing in the USA

Our readers are always on the lookout for cool cars even very early in the morning. James, just caught 2 Fiat 500s testing in Charlotte, MI. Both cars are tagged in Michigan with manufacturer plates, so no doubt those are official testers. Aside of the two tone white and black matte paint, both cars seems to be ready for the US launch later this year. The Fiat 500 will very likely be the first Fiat to be introduced to the US market. Keep in mind that the Italian car maker only took over Chrysler last year. Will they actually be able to launch this Fiat in 2010, that remain to be seen.

Anyways, back on the pictures, the only visible difference between those two seems to be the front bumper trim, one chrome and one painted and as you can see there is a piece of tape on the corner, may be for some park assist system testing. Let us know if you can find others!


On the back you can see that the rear hatch still got the wide European plate enclosure, so we expect this gap to be filled with some ’bumperette’ similar to the one seen on the rear bumper of Porsche 911’s. As for the parking sensor speculation, we can only see a backup camera but no sensor in the bumpers.


Our reader was daring enough to get closer and take a snap of the interior. The cars were equipped with a computer system on the passenger side for data collection, but aside of that, everything seems to be ready for production and without any camouflage at all. The first car was a manual, the other appeared to be an automatic.

Thanks James for the tip.

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Porsche's IMS recall announcement

Porsche’s IMS recall announcement

Quoted from the famous Porsche enthusiast forum, Rennlist: "Porsche has announced that it will reimburse or repair any and all IMS issues that have occurred with their 996, 997, and 987 models due to an improper engine design culminating in perhaps the largest recall in automotive history. Porsche decided that this would be the only way to avoid a massive class action suit, and will honor any IMS claims that have caused catastrophic engine failures.

Repairs by Independent shops and Porsche factory trained franchises will need verification and actual receipts in order to to qualify for a full refund from the factory. Regardless of whether you are the original owner or a successive owner, this action will be across the board regarding coverage.
New Porsche management have decided to take this unprecedented measure in order to foster and protect Porsche’s good name and reputation in the automotive industry. Please contact your nearest dealer for additional information and schedule an appointment for your IMS reimbursement."

Update: April’s Fool !

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2011 Hyundai Sonata

2011 Hyundai Sonata

After the Hyundai Genesis bagged awards left and right for Hyundai, it’s fair to say that the expectations for the burgeoning Korean brand is now at an all-time high. Both the Genesis Coupe and the Genesis Sedan were so far ahead of the game that it became apparent that the onus was now on Hyundai to release a car that could meet – or even exceed – the expectations set by the Genesis.

Now, Hyundai has that car in the form of the 2011 Sonata.

Thanks in large part to the economic crisis and the continued rise in oil prices, car brands have become more inclined in producing fuel efficient vehicles and veering away from the conventional market segment and tapping into the younger and more out-going market. If there were skeptics that initially doubted Hyundai’s new direction, the Genesis certainly did its part to quell all those doubts. And now that the 2011 Sonata, which is one of seven new models Hyundai is planning to launch within the next two years, is on the horizon, Hyundai is hell-bent on keeping its momentum going.

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2011 Hyundai Sonata unaired Superbowl commercial

2011 Hyundai Sonata unaired Superbowl commercial

Hyundai has launched a massive advertising campaign for the new 2011 Sonata, in fact it is the biggest so far, with a budget of $160 Million ensuring that we see Sonatas everywhere we look on TV. Lately they made out like bandits during the 2010 Superbowl, airing no less than 8 different commercials. However the Korean automaker has one more spot up their sleeves, but are unsure if they should air it or not, judge for yourself.

Continued after the jump.

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this is a test

this is a test

another text test.

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Subaru Impreza WRX STi sedan should return in 2011

Subaru Impreza WRX STi sedan should return in 2011

Our chat with Subaru left us sensing that the Japanese automaker is moving their lineup in a much more luxurious direction than it has in current years, now there is nothing wrong with this approach to selling cars, in fact it is a pretty smart one, but what about the boy racer in all of us that lusted after owning the same blue and gold car that Colin McRae raced to multi WRC championships. One of our concerns with the automotive arm of Fuji Heavy Industries withdrawing from the World Rally Championship is that their cars could lose that competitive performance edge, but the entry level Impreza has been replaced by the more spacious Legacy as Subaru’s GT300 competitor in the Super GT championship and a much more mundane version is currently being campaigned in the Koni Challenge Series here in the U.S. which makes sense because even the old WRC car was a Legacy. So with all this attention being paid to the larger vehicles in their lineup what is going to happen to the STi?

When I told the Subaru representative that my favorite of all time is the mighty 22B STi, he knew exactly what myself, and most WRX enthusiasts, were looking for in the next version of the best bargain sports car on the market. The 22B was built back in 1998 to celebrate the automaker’s 40th anniversary and by that point, multiple World Rally Championships. This special edition Impreza started out as a lightweight WRX RA coupe shell and then had a set of much wider rear arches to match the boxed front fenders that housed special gold BBS wheels, which widened the Subaru’s track and made it look just as bad as the WRC car.

Update 04.01.2010: Official release the new 2010 WRX Sti is introduced at the 2010 New York Auto Show.

Update 04.27.2010: We just receive the first picture of the 2011 Sedan WRX STi caught in the wild, Thanks to Robbie Tigan for the tip!

Continued after the jump.

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2010 Mazda3

2010 Mazda3

The automaker from Hiroshima dropped a bomb on the automotive market when they came up with the new Mazda3, styled heavily with Nagare inspired lines and bulges this was truly an economy car that you would aspire to own. The exterior of the Mazda3 is interesting to say the least, made up of a multitude of complex curves and detailed lines evidence that the Japanese design team put a good amount of their own blood, sweat and tears into the economy car car’s design. Starting at just under $16,000 for a sedan and closer to $20,000 for the hatchback, the Mazda3 packs a whole lot of car into an affordable package. If you upgrade the sadden to the touring model, not only do you get wave mesh grills, Bi-Xenon headlamps and sporty front and rear bumpers complete with a lip spoiler, but you also get the wonderful 2.5 Liter four cylinder that makes 167 HP and 168 lb-ft of torque to go along with your beautifully sculpted people mover.

The exterior is highlighted by a sense of depth added by the hollow emblem on the front bumper and our car’s Crystal White Pearl Mica paint covered the wide wheel arches that housed a set of stylish 17 inch rims. The Mazda screams style, filled with playful bodylines. When compared to another automobile that we recently tested based on the same platform. We liked the Focus Coupe, and it reminded us of a serious Ford of the past, but the Focus is as plain Jane as sporty can try to be, but the Ford’s exterior was just flat. There was no depth like the Mazda, whereas the Focus is definitely for the person who wants the most car for their buck, while the 3 screams fun for a few dollars more.

Continued after the jump.

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Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca safety cars: Mazda6, CX-7 and RX-8

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca safety cars: Mazda6, CX-7 and RX-8

Here at Top Speed we love anything and everything that goes fast, so during our weekend on the Monterey peninsula we had to make a stop at the legendary Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the MotoGP Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix. Once there we were pleasantly surprised when the track staff offered us the opportunity to take a ride around the prestigious racing circuit aboard one of Mazda’s modified safety cars. The lineup of matte black and white pace cars included an RX-8 four door sports coupe, a CX-7 crossover and the all new Mazda 6.

At first we were a little disappointed not to see a Miata wearing the pace car livery, equipped with the fancy amber light bar and beefier tires allowing the trio of Mazdas to corner like champions and stay ahead of the two wheeled racers. However, after a quick trip in the CX-7 and Mazda 6, we were absolutely convinced that the Miata’s fun to drive DNA runs rich throughout the entire automaker’s lineup.

When the track marshall told me to get into the CX-7, our thoughts were limited to, “what a bummer, we come all the way to California and we get stuck riding in the cow of the group", boy were we wrong. Inside the crossover everything was stock except for a circuit board to control the flashing lights and a roll bar that gave the bright blue Scroth 4 point racing harnesses a place to secure themselves to while we were strapped in tight to the leather wrapped seat. The only modification to the drive train of the Euro-spec CX-7 were a set of Brembo brakes and a set of plus sized forged TE-37 wheels from Volk Racing wrapped in sticky rubber.

Nevertheless, it seems that these basic modifications were enough to turn the CX-7 into a track day special. It was amazing how well the sports inspired crossover handled on the track. We were instantaneously blown away by how fast this little Sport-Utility could lap the circuit, and especially the way that the driver was able to tame the infamous corkscrew. We were surprised to find ourselves on the heels of the other safety cars, the driver was really hammering it. Truning in sharply, pumping the steering wheel like mad, clipping the apexes, pushing the CX-7 to its limit. The car did an amazing job of staying on track. Mazda has truly figured out a way to incorporate their zoom-zoom high performance attitude into even the most unlikely of products.

Check the gallery for more photos and details about each of the cars.

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Yamaha Pit Stop at Mazda Raceways

Yamaha Pit Stop at Mazda Raceways

Before the MotoGP race at Mazda Raceways, and our lucky pre-grid visit. Yamaha gave us the opportunity to walk right in their secret garages (team Fiat and team Monster).

Located in the back of the garage, the storage area is packed with expensive supplies, all stored in travel cases that probably cost more than any street bikes. Tires are cooking on aluminum racks, and precious suspension bits are piled as if it was Christmas. In between the storage and the pit garage, a narrow engineering room offers just enough space to pack 5 or 6 engineers and their laptops. Behind all that you ’finally’ enter the dream garage, with only two bikes and not one bit of mess anywhere to be found. The floor is carpeted to the team colors and all tool boxes are shinning as if they were just getting out of the show room.

It certainly take more mess for anyone to change their oil than it takes those mechanics to change every single part on those bikes altogether. Simply amazing!

Also check out the Autoblog article made by our friend Drew Philips. He took some great shots during the same visit.

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2009 MotoGP Race Report: Pedrosa wins at Laguna Seca

2009 MotoGP Race Report: Pedrosa wins at Laguna Seca

Dani Pedrosa obtained a well-deserved victory at Mazda Raceways Laguna Seca this weekend, after more than a year away from the highest position of the podium. He managed to keep Valentino Rossi behind while ’the doctor’ was about to pass him on the last straight. A few more laps and Rossi could have take the win. A fantastic race for Pedrosa.

See the race results after the break.

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MotoGP Grid gallery at Mazda Raceways

MotoGP Grid gallery at Mazda Raceways

Lucky us, a few minutes before the MotoGP race at Mazda Raceways Laguna Seca, we just got a hold of the precious full access pass to enter the pre-grid. Finally, we could get up close and personal with all the riders. Even Valentino Rossi could not run from our lens. The atmosphere on the grid was crazy. Imagine, a hundred photographers trying to get the money shot and TV hosts from all around the world fighting for the last words from our favorite champions. The riders are real pros, keeping their cool as if nothing was about to happen.

Enjoy the gallery.

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Cannery row meet in Monterey

Cannery row meet in Monterey

After today’s qualification for the MotoGP at Mazda Raceways Laguna Seca, we headed toward downtown Monterey to see the traditional Cannery row meet. Lot’s of bikes and among them a some very interesting custom and exotics such as the rare Honda RC45, Bimota 3D or a cool Kawa Turbo. The ambiance is typical of South California meets, bring family and friends of all ages.


Check the out the gallery, and now that you know where to go after the qualification laps, see you in Monterey next year.


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TopSpeed with Top Chef's Fabio

TopSpeed with Top Chef’s Fabio

We ran into Top Chef’s Fabio Viviani at the Red Bull Grand Prix in Mazda Raceways at Laguna Seca. Although Fabio was deeply focused on the track, he still took time for a pose. Fabio was cheering for the Italian Team, while climbing up the hill toward the best spot on the track, the famous ’Corkscrew’. At the end of the qualifying session Valentino Rossi, the fastest Italian on two wheels ended up at the 2 position.

Valentino rossi
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2010 Ducati 848 Hayden Edition

2010 Ducati 848 Hayden Edition

Ducati presented at Mazda Raceways Laguna Seca a new version of their middleweight supersport model. The 848 Nicky Hayden Edition was unveiled by the Ducati Star itself and it will be produced in a limited number of 100 units and sold only in the USA.

What sets this bike apart from the standard model is the special Hayden paintjob and the pilot’s autograph on the gas tank, but also the $14,495 price tag (only $500 more than what you would pay for the regular version).

This bike is the first Ducati to receive an official racing paint job as far as we can remember. It does look very good, but we prefer our Ducati plain red, away from the busy Japanese paint jobs.

Enjoy the gallery.

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Drifting Ebisu

Drifting is more than a pastime in Japan. It is a way of life. Thanks to the folks at Speedhunters.com, we can share this look into the world of drifting from one of the most infamous circuits in Japan. Built by Team Orange founder Nobushige Kumakubo, Ebisu is the ultimate destination for enthusiasts of the sideways sport from around the world. Here these drifters are not competing for medals or other tangible prizes, instead aspiring for something much more important, respect.

Video sourced from Speedhunters.com

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2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart

2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart

Someday the real world calls us all. No longer can a car just be purely fun; it now has to keep up some appearance of civility. While the Mitsubishi Evolution X makes rides to the grocery store as fun as a lap around a rally circuit; it’s loud exhaust and harsh ride will turn any date into deaf, stiff-walking old lady. Also the Evos appearance only gains respect from underlings in the corporate parking lot.

Enter the Lancer Ralliart. Where the Mitsubishi’s Evo X competes with rally uber-sedans like the Subaru Impreza WRX STI, this one competes with cars like the plain ‘ol WRX, Volkswagen R32 and Mazdaspeed 3. Compared to the Evo X, the ride in the Ralliart is less harsh, there is more noise dampening material, the bodykit is less dramatic, there is less power, and the base price is about $6,500 less. The Ralliart is not a soft Evo X; it’s just softer.

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2009 Mercedes GL 550

2009 Mercedes GL 550

The Mercedes GL-Class is aimed directly at big car lovers, which means North America is a key demographic. It’s large, luxurious and fast; so we had no trouble adding it to our fleet.

Until 2006 Mercedes SUV line topped out (at least size-wise) with the G-Class. While there is nothing wrong with the G-Wagons, it had two fundamental flaws for the growing SUV market. First, G-Class was originally developed for military use. While Mercedes has done a good job of adapting the off-road vehicle for on-road duty over the last thirty years, it needed to start with a fresh design so that the G-Class would not compromise its loyal fan base of deep-pocked off-roaders. Second is size. There are families that need space for more than five people. The GL-Class is over a foot longer than the G-Class, which means a third row of seating is possible.

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Inflate your tire with WD-40

Inflate your tire with WD-40

Have you ever been stuck in middle of nowhere, miles from a service station and in need of a tire changer? In this situation car guys have to get resourceful, like this off-roader who uses a can of WD-40 and a match to get the loose tire back on the rim.

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2009 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster

2009 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster

There are certain car companies that absolutely understand what it means to be a driver. Aston Martin is one of them. When Aston decided that it needed to branch out into SUVs for customers who live where the roads are not paved, it reintroduced the Lagonda brand rather than pollute the Aston name.

Aston Martin only builds sports cars, and it builds them by hand.

The V8 Vantage Roadster that arrived on our doorstep came with a $154,035 price tag (base for a is $134K). For that price we instantly become a member of an exclusive club that mixes rich racing history with modern graceful styling.

Like any good group of enthusiasts, we all had trouble containing our excitement for this car. But one we got the fleet rotation down, it was time to figure out how the smallest Aston stacked up against the competition.

Photography by Thomas Carter
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BMW Z4, ’An Expression of Joy’

The new 2009 BMW Z4 is about to hit the showroom, so for those of you who missed the Z4 promotional stunt, here is how Robin Rhode decided to showcases the new BMW Z4...as a giant paint brush.

The German automaker also released an iPhone app that lets you be the artist.

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2009 Jeep Compass Limited

2009 Jeep Compass Limited

Jeep has an image, and it’s time to exploit it. The company had an amazing seventeen-year run with the Cherokee because people wanted a vehicle that could do the work of a wagon, but didn’t look like one. Sure it was a capable go-anywhere off-roader, but many of them never left the pavement. This is what helped start the SUV craze.

No matter how much Jeep builds a car to take the tough stuff, there will always be customers who only use its ability to park on lawns. That’s why the Compass exists. It has all the image of a normal rough-and-ready Jeep, but in a package that on-road customers want. Jeep isn’t selling out its heritage (anyone remember the original Jeepster?) There are plenty of other companies making crossover vehicles out there. Jeep is just giving its loyalists a vehicle they can drive when their commute is reduced to paved roads.

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2009 Chevrolet Aveo 5

2009 Chevrolet Aveo 5

Value is the current buzzword in car buying. As belts are tightening, we are going to take a long look at our economy cars like our Chevrolet Aveo5.

Purchasing an economy car has three distinct benefits. First good gas mileage means that not only are they inexpensive to buy but also inexpensive to run. The second advantage is the warranty that comes with a new car. Another advantage is being the first owner of a vehicle – there may be larger, slightly used vehicles at the same price point, but the owners are unknown.

Economy cars have a social standing that sometimes have people convinced that those who buy one made their decision on price only. They can sometimes be viewed as basic transportation, which gives them little social stature. So the idea with an ideal economy car is not only to spend as little as possible, but also have the appearance that it cost a lot more. That’s how value is measured in an economy car, and that’s how we equipped our Chevrolet Aveo5.

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2009 Toyota RAV4

2009 Toyota RAV4

The RAV4 has been in the Toyota family for about thirteen years, and it has staying power for a reason: adaptability. The first generation was built on the idea of giving people the small size of about a Jeep Wrangler, but with more creature comforts and better on-road handling. This was a fun machine that had dual sunroofs in the two-door model and then eventually a convertible model.

While the RAV4 was selling well, Toyota was discovering that the people who wanted a small SUV with on-road manners also wanted room to carry all their weekend warrior gear. The original RAV4 was about the size of the current Scion xB, and Toyota knew it had to grow to stay competitive. So the second generation appeared with larger engines (including an optional V6) as well as a full back seat. Now that the RAV4 is in its third generation, it gained an optional third row of seating and has closed the size gap with the Highlander. This extra size has made the RAV4 more versatile without losing the small/nimble feeling of the original.

The RAV4 has now become a good option for young professionals and small families. These people are usually looking for plenty of car at a low price, so we equipped our $24,740 test car accordingly. To stay on budget we minimized the options, and maximized value for little money.

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2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4x4 (diesel)

2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4x4 (diesel)

The diesel engine’s frugal nature and the fuel’s lower price (in some markets) make it popular choice in Europe. With the rest of the world pinching our pennies, we’re going to start seeing a lot more diesel engines in the U.S.

Unfortunately for the companies bringing these new diesel cars, it may take a little education to get the U.S. to understand the new definition of a diesel engine. Gone are the days of black smoke and high-polluting; in its place is the best fuel economy going. Also gone is the loud rumbling engine; leaving almost no noise in its place. What remains from the old diesel image is the toughness. Diesel engines have fewer moving parts, operate at lower RPMs, and are historically the most reliable kind of engine out there.

One of the great places to have these torque-happy engines are trucks and SUVs. That’s why we’re taking a look at a Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4x4 with a 3.0-liter diesel engine.

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2009 Ford Mustang GT

2009 Ford Mustang GT

It may be a little puzzling why we would do a review on a car that we know is already on the way out, but we really wanted one last look at the 2009 Ford Mustang. We already know the specs on the 2010 Mustang, so we’re making sure we have the outgoing model fresh on our minds when the new one arrives on our doorstep.

To give this generation of the Mustang a proper sendoff, we made sure we got the specs right. We have a GT model with options including the 4.6-liter 300 hp V8 engine, 45th Anniversary package and glass roof.

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2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 Convertible

2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 Convertible

Lookie what we got here. The Dodge boys decided to drop off their ultimate pavement pounder on our doorstep. They must have really liked our review of the Challenger SRT8 for us to deserve this reward.

When the Dodge Viper first showed up in 1992, it was the meanest thing around. It looked mean and sounded mean, so it was trivial why many people were surprised when the Viper had a mean attitude.

The original car was meant to be out in the elements. The car had side curtains and a fabric roof that was only meant for temporary duty, just like the open top versions Lamborghini Murcielago and Bugatti Veryon.

The Viper wasn’t ashamed of what it was, the American roadster. The Viper was designed to be the spiritual successor to the Shelby Cobra, but the public decided that modern cars needed modern conveniences. So over the 17 years Dodge has kept its snake in production there has been a little softening. But don’t think this is a compromised car. This is a pure sports car, which means we have no complaints.

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2009 Land Rover LR2 HSE

2009 Land Rover LR2 HSE

Land Rover sells cars more on its image that ability. These SUVs are great off-roaders, but rarely do you catch their owners forging a stream or survey open land. Instead, owners demand luxury and handsome looks.

Land Rover first tried to give the U.S. a small SUV by adapting the Europe-only Freelander for North America. By the time the car first appeared here in 2002 it was already six years old and showing its age. Sales were slow, and Land Rover learned ts lesson.

Starting in 2007, Land Rover had a new Freelander they renamed LR2 for North America. This had much better materials, more features, and looked a lot more like the up-market Range Rover.

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2009 Mercedes S550

2009 Mercedes S550

We have high expectations when we get behind the wheel of a car that costs $100,000. If a sedan costs as much as a house, or at least a good down payment, then it has to be a cut above. In fact, if a sedan costs four or five times more than a regular sedan shouldn’t we expect it to be at least four or five times greater in every way?

At this price point we expect no compromises. We want to be pampered in luxury while not losing any feel of the road. We want to look smart arriving at social occasions, but not be so flashy that we get nervous parking on the street. Mercedes has specialized in this type of car for over fifty years. Our expectations are high.

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2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8 (part 2)

2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8 (part 2)

The 2009 Dodge Challenger left a lasting impression on us. It’s been a few weeks since we gave it back, but it still was one of our early favorites when deciding our top ten cars for 2008.

This is a continuation of the first part of our time with the Challenger. Before that featured the interior and exterior in depth. Now we get the part we like the best, the test drive.

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2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8

2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8

Retro cars are held to a higher standard at TopSpeed. When a designer doesn’t have to spend as much time working on how a car looks, we expect more time spent on performance. This was the standard applied to the 2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8 when it showed up on our doorstep. Then again, it wasn’t going to be too hard for us to love a car with a 425 horsepower, 6.1-liter Hemi V8.

We got a little excited about this car. We got a lot of double-takes from people we passed on the street, and the exhaust note is an enthusiast’s dream. As a result, we had a little more footage of the Challenger than we usually do. So here is our review and opinion of the retro exterior and interior. The test drive will be posted in a few days.

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2009 Mercury Sable

2009 Mercury Sable

I learned to drive on the interstate at age 14 in a first generation Mercury Sable. It belonged to my grandparents, and it was the three of us on a trip from Louisiana to Florida. Within a few hours my grandfather decided it would something special for both of us to share my first highway driving experience. He was right, I’ll never forget the car not because it was an exceptional automobile, but because of what I got to do with it.

That’s the kind of legacy that the Mercury Sable leaves. It’s not meant to be a driver’s car, but instead an affordable and usable car where the memories are made from what families are able to do with the car.

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2009 Subaru Impreza WRX

2009 Subaru Impreza WRX

Take this simple quiz:

Which is more important?

a. leather seats b. 95 more horsepower

Which do you prefer on an open road?

a. automatic transmission b. manual transmission

What is a Sunday drive?

a. antiquing b. ditching the family to go to the mountain road that the cops don’t know about

For the few who actually answered “a”, we’re sorry for interrupting your search for Cat Fancy Online - please keep surfing because the following does not apply to you.

For the rest of us who actually like to use cars not just as an appliance but also as a source of entertainment, here’s some obvious news: Subaru likes to make cars for real drivers.

The Subaru Impreza WRX is a favorite of many enthusiasts because the formula works well. Take a standard Impreza sedan that already has an impressive all-wheel drive system, and then add 95 more horsepower, racing seats, performance suspension and bigger tires. The result is an everyday rally car at a bargain price.

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2009 Hyundai Sonata Limited

2009 Hyundai Sonata Limited

The Hyundai Sonata used to have an easy job for three generations it was the top-of-the-line car for Hyundai. All it had to do was be a little bigger and better than the model under it to fit in the line up. But that changed mid-way through the thierd generation with the introduction of the XG in 2001. Suddenly the Sonata not only had to be the next level up from the Elantra, but it had to be a transition car for the XG. Now in its fourth generation (debuted in 2006), the Sonata is the exact middle sedan for Hyundai. It is the transition car that takes people from the budget-minded Accent and Elantra, and get them ready for the more luxury-minded Azura and Genesis.

Hyundais are getting more respect in our fleet. They are not performance cars or luxury cars, but they are beginning to show that they are decent cars for the money. The Sonata-based Santa Fe SUV we had in our fleet was a solid performer that made its most friends when it came down to the price point. The exact same feelings came back in our Sonata.

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Miami Auto Show

Miami Auto Show

We know the Miami Auto Show is not one of the big ones on the circuit yet, but it’s TopSpeed’s home turf. We take many of our resources that would go to other big shows like SEMA and instead focus on this show. This includes being judges for SAMA’s (Souther Automotive Media Association) "Star of the Show" — it was the Hyundai Genesis, thanks for asking.

There are no surprises at Miami this year. With the affluent/celebrity nature of the local population and the growing importance of the Latin American market, we believe Miami will grow into an important show to key manufacturers. Until then, if you want to see a few shiny example of premium production cars, we’ve got a good fifteen minutes for you.

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2009 Jaguar XF

2009 Jaguar XF

Jaguar is the company that won’t die, and the XF is the proof. The company has been on death’s door multiple times and at one time earned a reputation for cars that only started when they felt like it. Yet this cat has had its share of nine live for one reason: style.

The XF represents the first truly original sedan from Jaguar in quite some time. The old S-Type, which this car replaces, was the modern interpretation of a Mark 1 and 2 Jaguars of the 50s and 60s. When we had the XKR in our fleet, it was mentioned that the XK series was supposed to lead the way for Jaguar design, and that is shown in the XF. Which in some ways makes the XF the kind of sedan that is for sports car lovers who need a real back seat.

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2008 Ford Focus SES

2008 Ford Focus SES

When the Ford Focus first appeared in 2000, it was Ford’s modern attempt at a real “world car” (the mid-90s Contour/Mystique wasn’t built for the world, it was an attempt at getting the U.S. to buy the second generation Mondeo.) The Focus was a vast improvement over the Escort, but the problem was that since it was built for multiple continents, it had multiple compromises.

The original Focus needed to be both a full hatchback for Europe and a full sedan for North America. While the resulting car was successful, the look was somewhat odd. Now that Ford makes two separate Focus lines (one for U.S. and Canada as well as a separate one for the rest of the world,) Ford can now focus on a traditional shape for the sedan and for the first time offer a true coupe.

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