Opinion

2019 Toyota Prius - Driven

2019 Toyota Prius - Driven

The iconic hybrid still stands out from the pack

Every morning when I get to work, I wind my way up to the roof of a six-story parking garage. And every evening, I wind my way back down. It’s a good half-mile round trip at plodding speeds. In a normal car, I watch the trip computer’s fuel economy readout tick down as I circle round and round through the garage. But in the 2019 Toyota Prius, I can go all of the way down and even most of the way up using purely electric power — burning no gas at all.

That’s the beauty of a well-executed hybrid: It often uses the least gas in circumstances where normal cars would use the most: Bumper-to-bumper traffic, neighborhoods with a four-way stop at every corner, or crowded parking lots. As long as you keep a gentle touch on the throttle — and in these conditions, there’s no reason not to — you can watch your mileage rise rather than fall. And this isn’t a plug-in hybrid that costs more and requires charging infrastructure; the Prius’s battery recharges as you drive normally, capturing energy from the gasoline engine and braking friction.

To be sure, the Prius hatchback is hardly the only hybrid on the market on which such technology achieves similar results. The Hyundai Ioniq hatchback, Kia Niro wagon/crossover, and the Honda Insight sedan are all newer designs than the current Prius, which dates back to 2016. There’s even an all-new 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid, which puts the Prius mechanicals in the body of a brand-new sedan. All these models rival or even beat the Prius’s EPA fuel economy ratings, and they all cost a little less; the 2019 Prius starts at $24,725. But the Prius still has the best blend of real-world utility and efficiency. It’s impressively spacious, and it’s more willing to putter around with its gasoline engine shut off than the Honda, Hyundai or Kia are.

Toyota has added another unique strength for 2019: a class-exclusive all-wheel-drive system, which is optional equipment on certain Prius trim levels. The car’s controversial exterior design also got a makeover this year, though its equally contentious interior design (and aging infotainment system) did not. Nor did it get a horsepower boost to address complaints about leisurely acceleration. Let’s go through the full rundown on how the iconic hybrid fares in today’s marketplace.

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2020 Ferrari F8 Spider - Quirks and Facts

2020 Ferrari F8 Spider - Quirks and Facts

The Ferrari F8 Spider Is Almost As Quick As The 488 Spider Pista

Although somewhat overshadowed by the reveal of the last front-engined V-12 Ferrari convertible - the 812 GTS - the new Ferrari F8 Spider still enchanted the right people. Largely favorable reactions to its exterior appearance demonstrate that Ferrari Design Studio knows a thing or two about design even without the help from Pininfarina. Interestingly enough, neither the 812 nor the F8 Spider wore the trademark Rosso Corsa color at their reveal, but they have still picked up a lot of publicity.

The F8 Spider, despite gorgeous, isn’t exactly a lot different compared to the F8 Tributo. The only notable change is, of course, the removable hardtop that stows under the rear tonneau cover in 14 seconds. It needs the same time to fold like the one in the Ferrari 812 GTS.

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Here's a List of Cool Cars You Can Get for the Price of the $33,000 Baby Bugatti II

Here’s a List of Cool Cars You Can Get for the Price of the $33,000 Baby Bugatti II

With the Bugatti Baby II, Millionaire Kids Have Something To Hope For

As a special 110th anniversary gift to itself and its customers, Bugatti revealed the super-cool Bugatti Baby II. It is a small kids’ toy that also honors the past and the birth of the first Bugatti Baby, produced back in 1926.

The new one is, however, a bit more than a toy. Based on top of the design of the Bugatti Type 35 from the 1920s, the Baby II is a modern, three-quarter-size interpretation of the most successful racing car in history. Bugatti needed three weeks to sell all the build slots and allocations for the Baby II, because that is the world we live in. I mean, if you have the Chiron, it is only reasonable to have a $33,000 official Bugatti toy as well. Interestingly enough, the 500 units of the Bugatti Baby II cost almost as much as one Bugatti La Voiture Noire.

All in all, this ghastly expensive toy gave me something to think about - I wonder just what kind of real, cool cars you can buy for the price of one Bugatti Baby II. Here’s the list.

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2019 Ford Mustang GT

2019 Ford Mustang GT

A few reasons why you still need a V8.

The Ford Mustang has a rich history that dates all the way back to the 1962 Ford Mustang I two-seater concept. It wasn’t until mid-1964 that it was introduced in production form (just two weeks after Plymouth introduced the first Barracuda) and has been in production ever since, with the sixth-generation model, the model you see here, being introduced in 2015. For one reason or another, we haven’t had a chance to get our hands on a sixth-gen model, but all that has changed now, and we happened to be graced with the 2019 Ford Mustang GT Convertible. With the bright green pony car sitting in our parking lot, we couldn’t wait to drive it. And, despite the fact that we had a whole week to get acquainted, we got right to putting the GT Convertible, and its 5.0-liter V-8 to the test.

Does it compete well with the Chevy Camaro Convertible? What about, on the other end of the spectrum, the BMW 4 Series Cabriolet? Well, this is our experience and what we thought about it. Strap in folks, this is going to be one long ride.

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Cool Quirks About The New Ferrari 812 GTS

Cool Quirks About The New Ferrari 812 GTS

Ferrari 812 GTS Is Probably The Last V-12-only Open-Top Car Ferrari Will Ever Produce

Just a day after the first Ferrari F1 Scuderia win at Monza since 2010, the Maranello-based car producer revealed two astonishing open-top cars. The elite of the world got a chance to buy, or the hope they’ll be able to buy the V-12 powered 812 GTS and the F8 Spider. Interestingly enough, the F8, as a mid-engine, V-8 powered Spider captures the essence of Ferrari’s future.

On the other hand, the 812 GTS, as the first production V-12 powered, front-engined open-top Ferrari in almost fifty years, is the one that wholeheartedly captures the essence of the brand. With an overpowered V-12 that develops 790 horsepower, rear-wheel drive, and a roof that opens in 14 seconds, the 812 GTS is a swan song. The Ferrari 812 GTS may well be the last new V-12 powered open-top car we ever see. This alone makes it far more appealing than any other open-top car on the market.

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2019 Peugeot 508 Allure 2.0 BlueHDi 180 S&S EAT8 Driven

2019 Peugeot 508 Allure 2.0 BlueHDi 180 S&S EAT8 Driven

New Peugeot 508 is a fantastic saloon with french charm and the right cards to play the Germans

It was 2010 when the rules changed after two Peugeot models were killed off: the 607, which was almost completely based on the 605 model from 1989, and the 407, which seemed like it was roaming between segments in an attempt to get into the wallets of two social strata. It wasn’t like Peugeot roamed around wearing blindfolds, though. This was more of an attempt at creating a global trend founded on personal identity; however, Peugeot couldn’t find its ground when it came to cars whose length was more than 4,5 meters (177 inches).

Mind you, Peugeot wasn’t the only one, as similar strategies were employed by Volvo, Renault, and even Ford. And then they were back with another attempt – one car that would be interesting to those in need of a spacious family car, but also those who were in search for a business saloon or the second best thing at least. As the wheelbase for the 607 was 2.800 mm (110.23 in), and 2.725 mm (107.28 in) for the 407, Peugeot found itself in uncharted territories in 2010 given that its 508 (albeit shorter than the 607), had a wheelbase of 2.817 mm.

So, the two generations of the 508 model found its way to more than 400,000 buyers in Europe alone. Despite steadily declining sales figures, Peugeot wasn’t ready to euthanize the model. Instead, the company decided to cut the administrative costs, and adequately entice its designers and engineers. They came up with a new product and Peugeot revealed it in March 2018 at the Geneva International Auto Show as the new 508.

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Porsche Taycan Quirks and Features

Porsche Taycan Quirks and Features

Nine facts and much more you have to know about the new Porsche Taycan

The problem with small craft beer companies isn’t about the quality of their products or the innovation behind it. It is about the scale. When the demand picks up, they cannot deliver - the quality goes down, and waiting time goes up. That is why not many alcohol drink representatives want to work with small scale craft beer producers. I am telling you this because we have something similar in the car world as well. When the demand picked up for the Tesla-produced cars, the company could not meet the expectations. No matter what it did. So, when a car like the Porsche Taycan comes to the market, it is a whole different story. It has Porsche and the entire Volkswagen Group behind it. These people do meet expectations, and these are all the quirks and features you need to know about the Taycan to believe it.

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2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 220 AMG Line - Driven

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 220 AMG Line - Driven

Second-gen CLA ups the comfort and style, but is it still fun to drive?

Mercedes has really improved the CLA sedan in its second generation. It looks better, it’s considerably more comfortable and it packs even more tech than before too. It’s not quite perfect, but given how sleek and fancy it looks, you won’t have troubles forgiving the few flaws that it does have.

You’ll definitely notice the all-new interior, which is basically the same as in all current compact Mercedes models. It’s such a big improvement over the so-so interior of its predecessor and higher-spec examples now feel properly posh inside - this was never the case with the first generation CLA, whose interior was lackluster by Mercedes standards, whichever way you specced it.

However, while the exterior and interior pack quite a visual punch, what’s happened under the CLA’s skin is equally significant - whereas the previous model had a jarring ride and may have felt overly-sharp to some drivers, this new CLA has a softer, slightly more relaxed edge to it. It still feels sporty, but it doesn’t punish you for it like the old car did.

My tester was a 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA 220 with the AMG Line pack and it felt really special to be in. Sure, maybe the €15,000 worth of extras it had on it helped seal the deal, but I was able to channel them out and focus on the core experience - and it was still good, still compelling and overall a solid car, even while ignoring the bells and whistles.

Photography by Andrei Nedelea

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2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport - Driven

2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport - Driven

The automaker has certainly upped the ante with this wholesome package

Despite offering one of the most premium cabins in its SUVs, Land Rover is still not recalled as a luxurious brand. It is, however, synonymous with reliable, tough off-roaders. But, if you have spent some time with any of the latest models, you will realize that the brand has come a long way in terms of spoiling and pampering the customer. It can give the big three Germans a tough fight in this aspect. And the Land Rover Range Rover Sport further strengthens this faith. Just like any other model in its lineup, the Range Rover Sport will definitely age gracefully and blend well with the upcoming new crop of EVs that look like they belong to another planet. But is the Range Rover Sport all about the aesthetics and luxuriousness? We laid our hands on it and our answer is...of course not!

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2019 Mercedes V300d - Driven

2019 Mercedes V300d - Driven

Mercedes V300d is the posh shuttle that beckons a chauffeur

Mercedes pitches the V-Class (known as the Metris in North America) as a cavernous van that can cater for both people and cargo carrying duties. And because it is a Mercedes, the passenger versions can be specced up to an almost unbelievable level, with comfort and luxury features you’d normally associate with the brand’s flagship S-Class sedan, or one of their other top-tier models.

The V-Class was recently lightly facelifted, but the refresh is so light that it’s clear Mercedes thought it was already quite good as it was. On the outside, the facelift only changed the front bumpers you can have on your V, depending on which version you opt for, as well as four all-new wheel designs that range in size from 17 to 19 inches - that’s it.

But Mercedes wasn’t sloppy in its effort to improve the V-Class (which in its third and current generation was introduced in 2014) and it mainly concentrated on improving its interior. For Europe, Mercedes swapped out the older 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel available in several states of tune, replacing it with a new (and better) 2.0-liter that is just better in every single way.

My tester was a V300d, motivated by the new four-pot oil-burner in its most powerful guise, in Avantgarde trim and with the AMG Line pack fitted on. The latter transforms the look of the big V, especially since it swaps out the front bumper for a sportier looking one that is as aggressive as on any other AMG pack-equipped Mercedes. Essentially, it adds an AMG pack-specific grille and AMG pack-specific rims (in this case seven-twin-spoke 19-inch rims that have a silver-black two-tone finish and they really match the vehicle’s silver paint).

Photography by Andrei Nedelea

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2019 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster - Driven

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster - Driven

An iron fist in a velvet glove

When you see one on the street, you can’t stop staring. The long hood, the aggressive nose with the classic-looking grille, the big wheels hiding sizeable brakes and the short tail. It’s got all the ingredients of a Gran Turismo built by the book and, in Roadster trim, it offers limitless headroom for those endless summer days.

The AMG GT is everything the SLS was plus some more and the AMG GT C Roadster is the most powerful and fastest AMG GT with a drop-top that you can get Stateside for now, as no GT S Roadster is offered for the 2019 model year. Still, with 550 horsepower and a top speed that comes perilously close to 200 mph, it’s hard to see why you’d want more. The good news is that, in spite of all of the muscle, the AMG GT C Roadster still offers all the refinement you’d expect coming from a product of the Mercedes house.

If you want to enjoy the best that Affalterbach’s got to offer, you can’t go wrong with the Mercedes-AMG GT, the two-door sports car from the brand with the three-pointed star that’s ready to take on all of the GTs on the market, including the 911, the Corvette, and the Audi R8 - and do it with an added dose of style. Yes, the gullwing doors that made the SLS feel extra special are no more but let’s not forget Lamborghini isn’t offering scissor doors on all its models either - and you can hardly complain when behind the wheel of one. The chassis is on point, as is the paddle-controlled automatic transmission that helps you get from naught to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds. We tested one to see if the $34,150 price gap between the standard AMG GT Roadster and the C version is worth it. Read on to find out.

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2020 Bugatti Centodieci Quirks and Features

2020 Bugatti Centodieci Quirks and Features

Bugatti Centodieci was designed in six months thanks entirely to a new design method that does not require building a clay model

After the no-compromise racing machine called Divo and the ultimate expression of exclusivity known as the La Voiture Noire, Bugatti revealed yet another special vehicle - the Centodieci. Crafted to catch the imagination of the most enthusiastic Bugatti connoisseur, the Centodieci comes to match the uncompromised performance of the Divo, with style reminiscent of the well-known Bugatti from the nineties - the EB110. Not only did Bugatti imagine the car to celebrate the 110th anniversary of the company, but it also walked a path that honors a supercar that was at the pinnacle of car design in the nineties. These are cool facts and features you simply have to know about the Bugatti Centodieci.

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