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2020 BMW X7 - Driven

2020 BMW X7 - Driven

BMW’s flagship SUV landed at TopSpeed HQ - here’s what we thought about it

The BMW X7 is one of the newest models in Bimmer’s lineup, and it serves a noble purpose as the brand’s flagship SUV (or Sports Activity Vehicle, if you listen to BMW’s “we-need-to-be-different” nonsense.) It was announced back in 2014, and shown off in concept form (the BMW X7 iPerformance Concept) in 2017, but wasn’t available at dealers until March 2019. Since then, we’ve been itching to get behind the wheel of one, and BMW was happy to oblige.

As you might expect from a flagship model, the X7 is about as luxurious as you can get without dipping your toes in the six-figure range. It comes close, with the X7 XDrive50i commanding an MSRP of $92,600, but it won’t cross that big mark unless you start checking off option boxes. Even the M50i falls just shy of six figures at $99,600. Under the hood of our xDrive50i sat a 4.4-liter V-8 (the same one that may be discontinued soon enough,) and it was good for 456 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. The sprint to 60 mph was rated at 5.2, but we got there in just a hair over 5 seconds, mighty impressive for a vehicle that weighs 5,617 pounds.

Interior space of the X7 was great, but what really caught our attention was the air suspension that would raise or lower as needed. Loading something into the rear? No problem, the suspension will drop to make it easier for you. Going over rough roads? Raise it up a notch. Spirited driving? The suspension will help keep things level. It’s like there’s nothing it can’t do. Comfort was on par with what you would expect, while materials and fit and finish were top notch.

We’re busy writing out in-depth review and driving impression of the 2020 BMW X7 right now, but until we’re done, we’ve posted our awesome photo gallery in the slider above and further down the page – be sure to check it out.

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2019 Volkswagen Golf GTi - Driven

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTi - Driven

The Volkswagen Golf GTi is a prime competitor in the hot hatch segment and shouldn’t be overlooked!

We have been itching to get behind the wheel of the 2020 Volkswagen Golf Mk. 8 and would really love to try out the yet-to-be-released Mk. 8 Golf GTi, but we’ve been told we still have to wait a while. To make things good, however, and hold us over, Volkswagen decided to send out an MK. 7 2019 Golf GTi and, while it wasn’t exactly what we wanted, we have to admit that the week we spent with it was beyond memorable.

As you can see from the photo gallery organized into the slider above and the page below, the Golf GTi, even in its older design, is quite the looker. It’s attractive from all angles, and the interior really gives you the feeling that you’re sitting in a proper hot hatch. The flat-bottom steering wheel and eight-inch infotainment displayed helped in the regard, but the overall fitment of the seats and materials put together one hell of a package.

The 2.0-liter turbo-four under the hood isn’t the most powerful four-cylinder on the block – the title is reserved for the Mercedes-AMG A45S – but it’s powerful enough to keep just about any enthusiast happy at 228 ponies and 258 pound-feet of torque. Volkswagen claims that’s good for a 5.7-second sprint to 60 mph, but we actually got there around one-tenth faster. More impressive than that is the fact that this baby is as nimble as can be. The 35.8-foot turning circle means it can turn on a dime (this is much better than both the Focus ST and i30 N that it competes with) while the 5.1-inch ride height feels like the sweet spot in terms of dealing with typical road conditions.

All told, our week with the Golf GTi isn’t one that we’ll forget, and we can’t wait to try out the MK.8 to see just how Volkswagen will manage to improve. Until that happens, though, you can enjoy our massive photo gallery. We’re busy putting together an in-depth review on the 2019 golf GTi, so be sure to check back in with us soon to learn the finer details!

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2020 Lincoln Aviator - Driven

2020 Lincoln Aviator - Driven

A new, heavyweight contender in the midsize luxury SUV segement!

The Aviator name was revived back in 2019 as a replacement for the Lincoln MKT. Ever since, we’ve been dying to get our hands on one to see just how well it actually represents Lincoln as a brand and if it can actually handle the stiff competition in the premium SUV segment. Well, our requests were finally answered and a Lincoln Aviator showed up at TopSpeed HQ with full tank of gas and the paperwork that said we could drive it for a week. And, drive it we did.

Any negative preconceptions we had about the Lincoln brand or the Aviator in general were axed the second we stepped inside. The cabin, for the most part, feels highly premium and the layout was very spacious. We didn’t have the hybrid model, so all our power came from the 3.0-liter V-6 that was good for 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque, two figures that proved themselves to be more than enough for a vehicle this caliber.

We were equally impressed with the amount of available cargo room (up to 77.t cubic-feet with all the seats folder flat, and the technology inside felt really upscale compared to what we expected based on previous experience with Lincoln models. Our model started out at $51,100, but our tester was fitted with a couple of options that made it a little more expensive. We’re busy putting together an in-depth buyer’s guide for this very vehicle, so until then check out the full, high-resolution photo gallery that we’ve added to the slider above or the body of the page below.

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2020 Audi TT-RS - Driven

2020 Audi TT-RS - Driven

Forget the Audi RS7 - we’ll take a new Audi TT-RS any day!

Audi updated the TT-RS for the 2019 model year, and after just a year on the market, we finally managed to get our hands on one. To our surprise, we found that the updated front and rear designs actually give the TT-RS a more dynamic, yet aggressive look. That is thanks to, at least in part, the new honeycomb grille up front that’s paired with the contrasted front spoiler lip.

Further emphasizing the sporty appearance of our TT-RS tester were the black mirror caps, the black accents on the rear spoiler, and the black diffuser-like elements in the rear fascia. Most people wouldn’t recognize some of the smaller bits, but those black legs for the spoiler, for instance, really stand out with the black accents on the rear decklid and the taillights.

The interior design of the TT-RS just screams performance and, at times, we almost felt like we were driving a Porsche. Maybe it’s the honeycomb inserts on the seats, the low seating position, or the material on the flat-bottom steering wheel. Honestly, it was probably a combination of all three, but we were so mesmerized by the crispness of the Audi virtual cockpit it was hard to look away.

Under the hood sits Audi’s classic 2.5-liter inline-five with 400 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. We really wish we had a six-speed manual, but unfortunately, the best we could ask for was the seven-speed automatic. The AWD was nice and, despite Audi’s claims of a 3.7-second sprint to 60 mph, we actually clocked the same run somewhere in the high-3.5 to low-3.6 range on multiple occasions. If we had tried a top speed run, we would have been limited to 155 mph (we didn’t break the highway speed limit, though) however, if you’re willing to pay for it, you could get that limit raised to 174 mph. Pricing for our tester, as you see it here, was $77,490.

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2019 BMW M340i - Driven

2019 BMW M340i - Driven

BMW Introduced the seventh-generation G20 3 Series for the 2019 model year and with it came a new design language, update engines, and some features from models like the 5 Series and X5, among others. To top all this off, it’s also just a bit larger and more aggressive than the seven-year-old F30 3 Series that it replaced. We didn’t get a chance to run the new 3 Series prototype around the track on the original pre-release test days, so we’ve been itching to see just how much better new the 3 Series is and whether or not all that new technology and new driving dynamics live up to the hype. So, we started reaching out in hopes of getting our hands on a new 3 Series tester, and BMW delivered. In fact, it delivered so well, that we got to spend a week with none other than the new 2020 BMW M340i – the best model you can get without going full-on M.

So, is the M340i really a poor man’s M3? Does it really compete against the Mercedes-AMG CLA45 or the Audi S5 Sportback? Does the M340i really deserve its time in the limelight? Well, after a week of a weird, love-hate affair with the 2020 BMW M340i, we have answers to all these questions and more. Here’s our experience….

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2019 Peugeot 208 - Driven

2019 Peugeot 208 - Driven

Peugeot’s new 208 comes to the party with high ambitions, but is it any good?

We don’t have to tell you that Europe’s supermini segment is one of the toughest, cutthroat arenas in the car world, despite the fact that crossovers based the said superminis are poaching clients at a fast rate, just like they did with the sedan segment. In this context, Peugeot launched the new 208. No, it didn’t change its name to 209 as we would have expected, and that’s because Peugeot thinks the previous 208 had so much success that the same nameplate should stay for the new generation, too.

The French carmaker is adamant that the 208 is primarily a city car and, in accordance to that creed, Sochaux took all the measures it saw fit to make its new hatchback as appealing as possible. The fact that it will have to do battle against the likes of VW Polo, Renault Clio, Ford Fiesta, Opel/Vauxhall Corsa, and Dacia Sandero counted a lot in the general direction Peugeot led the new 208. We had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the sleek-looking hatch during a first-contact test drive, so here’s what we can report.

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2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - Driven

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - Driven

An exotic car competing against everyday luxury SUVs

“An Alfa Romeo SUV?” asked the older man parked beside me. “What does it cost to get into an Alfa Romeo SUV?”

“The base price is around $40,000,” I replied.

The man whistled, an automatic response to the stratospheric sum he’d clearly been imagining. Then he paused as the true figure sank in. He looked at his Toyota RAV4, a similarly sized crossover that approaches $40,000 with all the options. Then he looked again at this 2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio. “That’s actually not bad.”

It definitely isn’t......

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2020 Nissan Rogue - Driven

2020 Nissan Rogue - Driven

This aging compact crossover still has the goods

It’s far too easy for car aficionados to dismiss an aging vehicle. “Just look at that dashboard — straight out of 2014. And that hopelessly uncompetitive engine, ugh; to keep up, it needs at least 11% more horsepower. Junk!”

Now, we’d never suggest that cars never fall behind the curve. Quite the contrary, it happens all the time in today’s fast-paced marketplace. But when a vehicle gets the important stuff right from the start, especially if it also benefits from updates over the years, it can still be a great choice in its segment throughout its lifespan. And that’s precisely the case we’re finding with the 2020 Nissan Rogue compact crossover, one of America’s best-selling vehicles. The Rogue still brings a handsome face, a pleasant driving experience, great gas mileage, and a spacious cabin. And it’s now laden with advanced driver-assistance technology, even on the base model.

True, the Rogue hasn’t changed much since its current generation debuted as a 2014 model. Yes, its interior still has the sort of humdrum plastics and plain shapes that most newer competitors have moved away from. And its 170 horsepower is undoubtedly on the low side for the segment these days. The Rogue isn’t one of the compact crossovers that brings a high degree of luxury, sporty performance, or overall pizzazz. But we’d challenge its critics to spend a week in one, study how it compares to its competitors, and still write it off as a tired relic. We found the Rogue to be a solid family vehicle at compelling prices, and we were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed our time with it — and with the glowing praise it received from passengers. Prices start at $26,39, including destination charge.

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2019 Audi A7 - Driven

2019 Audi A7 - Driven

We took the Audi A7 for a spin to see if four-door coupes are still hip

In the past 20 to 25 years, automotive executives have been looking at ways to activate new areas of the public by coming up with weird niches, some more successful than others. The Audi A7 is a proud flag-bearer of the four-door coupe segment that’s managed to keep its head above the water as consumers flock to buy the latest crossover SUV. Get behind the wheel of Audi’s sleek answer to the Mercedes-Benz CLS and it’s easy to see why as this might just be one of the best models Audi currently sales Stateside.

Introduced back in 2017, the second-generation Audi A7 set about fixing just about everything that was wrong with the original luxury four-door coupe from Ingolstadt. Broadly speaking, the Germans have managed to tick all the boxes while also improving in areas that didn’t really need improving such as the design - one of Audi’s undeniable strengths despite what you may consider as an overly aggressive brand recognition strategy that ended up making all of Audi’s products look alike. Still, the A7 manages to stand out from the crowd with the single-piece rear light cluster and it looks sportier than ever, the muscular vibe given by the exterior being bolstered by its handling and performance. While not new on the market, we jumped at the opportunity of driving the A7 right away to see if there’s any wind left in the sails of this quirky niche.

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2019 Nissan Rogue - Driven

2019 Nissan Rogue - Driven

In a world where SUVs and crossovers constantly evolve, the Nissan Rogue falls in the middle

The Nissan Rogue is in its second generation, but it has been soldiering on since it was introduced in 2014 with only a mild facelift in 2017 and a safety equipment update in 2018. With all of the wide selection of compact SUVs on the market, we thought it would be a good idea to see how the aging Rogue holds up on an oh-so-competitive market. Does the Rogue’s appearance, interior comfort, safety systems, and technology hold up against the ever-growing crop of small crossovers or is Nissan in dire need of majorly updating the Rogue? Well, we found that out for ourselves and more – this is our experience with the 2020 Nissan Rogue.

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2019 Fiat 500 Abarth Driven

2019 Fiat 500 Abarth Driven

One last go in Fiat’s fun and spirited city car

The reborn, retro-chic, Fiat 500 first graced North American shores back in 2011 and now, eight years down the line, we got behind the wheel of the peppy Abarth version to get one final sting from the scorpion as the entire 500 range is being discontinued by Fiat-Chrysler. Prepare for some top-down driving as we assess whether we’ll miss the 500 for what it is or for its vibe akin to an endless summer holiday in the rolling hills of Tuscany.

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2020 Chevrolet Traverse - Driven

2020 Chevrolet Traverse - Driven

The Chevy Traverse had an identity complex during its first 8 years of life, with the first-gen model being a weird blend of crossover and minivan with GM’s old, not-so-attractive styling inside and out. Fortunately, the 2018 model year became the host of the second-gen Traverse, and it came with a true SUV appearance that doesn’t require the hardcore (and heavy) full-size truck DNA under the metal. As the roomiest three-row SUV on the market without those full-size truck underpinnings, we’ve been wondering how the second-gen Traverse really holds up against competitors like the Ford Explorer and Mazda CX-9. Finally, after two years on the market, we finally got the chance to get behind the wheel to find out for ourselves. This is our experience with the 2020 Chevy Traverse.

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2019 BMW i3 - Driven

2019 BMW i3 - Driven

BMW’s first EV still holds its own but not for long

There aren’t too many models out there that can legitimately lay claim to being funkier than the Nissan Juke, but the BMW i3 is one of them. It was introduced in 2013 as BMW’s first step into the electric market with a single purpose in mind – to see if people would actually be interested in an electric BMW. Well, the i3 has served its purpose very well and actually received a lot of attention. Whether that attention was received because of its funky minivan-like hatchback appearance or because it was an electric BMW is up for debate, but after 6 years on the market BMW has no choice but to dig into the electric car segment even more, so you can write the i3 off as a success either way.

That success, however, doesn’t come without a price, and in this case, the BMW i3 is paying the ultimate price – it will eventually die off as BMW focuses on other electric vehicles. With the i3’s time on the Earth limited to the next few years as BMW runs out parts inventory, we decided it would be a great time to test out the i3 before it fades off into oblivion. After all, it’s the last of its kind and, therefore, is probably as good as it will ever get. This is our story of a week well spent with the soon-to-be-extinct BMW i3.

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2019 Cadillac XT4 - Driven

2019 Cadillac XT4 - Driven

A hard-core premium competitor or living outside of its element?

Back in 2018, Cadillac finally decided that it was tired of missing out on sales in the compact SUV market and launched the XT4. This compact crossover was designed to compete against the best in the market, including the BMW X1, Mercedes GLC, Infiniti QX50, and Lexus NX, among others. Now that the XT4 has been on the market for well over a year, we decided it was time to get behind the wheel and see how it really holds up. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really seem to hold water against models from BMW, Mercedes, or Audi, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t compete in the market at all. This means there are a lot of questions to answer: How does the Cadillac XT4 drive, does it have enough passenger space, and what about cargo room? What models does the XT4 actually compete against? Well, we spent a week with the XT4, and we’re here to answer all those questions and more . This is what we’ve learned after spending a week with Cadillac’s latest compact crossover.

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2019 Infiniti QX50 - Driven

2019 Infiniti QX50 - Driven

A decidedly ordinary replacement for a quirky luxury crossover

Infiniti was early to what has become one of the industry’s hottest market segments: the compact luxury crossover. The 2008 EX35 was much more of a car than an SUV, a slightly elevated, slightly roomier version of the acclaimed G35 sports sedan. Infiniti bet big that buyers would sacrifice utility for performance — and it bet wrong. Despite beating most competitors to the market, and even after numerous upgrades over the years (including a longer wheelbase and a name change to QX50), it never made a splash. Later arrivals were able to emulate the more successful compact luxury crossovers and avoid Infiniti’s mistakes.

So not surprisingly, for its first full redesign in more than a decade, the 2019 Infiniti QX50 similarly gravitates toward the class norm. It became taller and wider, adopting more SUV-like proportions. It switched from a V6 engine and a rear-wheel-drive platform to a turbocharged four-cylinder and front-wheel-drive (still with optional all-wheel-drive). All of that mirrors such top rivals as the Acura RDX, Lexus NX, and Cadillac XT4, though a few other competitors still have rear-wheel-drive roots.

But beyond being merely typical, the QX50 is decidedly ordinary as well. It checks general boxes for the luxury crossover class without managing to dazzle. It neither fun and sporty nor vault-like in its serenity. Its infotainment isn’t cutting-edge. It has advanced engineering behind its variable-compression engine, but the real-world effect is less notable.

To be sure, calling a luxury car “ordinary” compared to its peers is no great insult. That means it’s meeting the high standards of its class, even if it doesn’t exceed them. So if you’re looking for a comfortable, quiet, respectably spacious, and generally easy-to-drive small luxury crossover, the QX50 is one of many potentially attractive choices. Prices start at $37,645 including destination change.

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2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - Driven

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - Driven

The Chrysler Pacifica was introduced in 2016 as a replacement for the Chrysler Town & Country, but it wasn’t until 2017 that the Pacifica Hybrid was launched. As a model that only has a couple of years under its belt, the Pacifica is still relatively fresh on the market and is one of the few minivans that are still in production for the U.S. Market. What’s even more interesting is the fact that Chrysler has managed to create its own little niche of sorts, as the Pacifica Hybrid – the model you see here – is the only hybrid minivan on the market. That means it doesn’t have any prerequisite standard to live up to and is responsible for setting its own standard. With it competing against non-hybrid minivans we have actually been very curious about how well it stacks up against the less-sophisticated competition.

Is the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid really worth buying in terms of fuel economy, comfort, and value? Is it a worth competitor for the new Honda Odyssey or nearly decade-old Toyota Sienna? Well, we managed to score a week with the Pacific Hybrid, and we set out to answer these questions and more. Here’s what we learned after spending a week with the market’s only hybrid minivan.

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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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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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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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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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