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2020 Mazda 3 - Driven Review

2020 Mazda 3 - Driven Review

How well does the Mazda 3 carry over to the 2020 model year?

Flying in to Newark International Airport last month, I arrived at the Budget Rent a Car counter and received the keys to a familiar staple of rental fleets: a 2019 Nissan Sentra wearing scratched-up Ignore Me Silver paint. Plenty of travelers would likely ask if, pretty please, anything else was available. This previous-generation Sentra (the car was fully redesigned for 2020) is generally reviled by anyone who appreciates a fine automobile. It’s underpowered, it lacks handling poise, and it’s drab-looking inside and out. And yet, it was just what my family of three needed for a three-hour drive home to Maryland. The Sentra’s plus-sized rear backseat was perfect for our rear-facing child seat, and its big trunk swallowed our suitcases and stroller with ease. Its generously sized windows offered excellent outward visibility, and it could go 41.3 miles before burning a gallon of gasoline. And, keeping our rental rate in check, the Sentra provided plenty of features at low prices.

This brings us to the subject of today’s review: the 2020 Mazda3. Like the Sentra, it belongs to the compact economy car market segment. But that’s pretty much where the similarities stop. For two cars in the same segment, it’s hard to get more dissimilar than our tested Mazda3 and our rental Sentra — for better and for worse.

The Mazda3 is basically a luxury sports sedan (or, like in our test car, a five-door hatchback). It’s beautifully styled, elegantly finished, laden with features, and — although it’s not as energetically zippy as it once was — a pleasure to drive. It even offers all-wheel-drive, just like an Audi or BMW. Yet like a luxury car, it’s also more expensive, has a cramped rear seat and tight cargo hold, has slits for windows, isn’t cheap for its class, and gets lousy gas mileage. It would have been absolutely the wrong choice for a family road trip, even for our small family. But if you appreciate something finer than a Sentra and won’t often carry more than one extra passenger, the Mazda3 brings a high-end experience at relatively affordable prices — starting from $21,500.

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2020 Audi RS6-R Avant by ABT

2020 Audi RS6-R Avant by ABT

When you need a family hauler and a mighty powerful beast in one package

The Audi RS6 Avant is arguably one of the hottest wagons on sale today. This powerful family hauler seems to be every tuner’s wet dream these days. One such aftermarket company is the Kempten-based ABT. ABT is known to give a twist to almost all the Volkswagen Group cars.

Recently, it revealed its version of the RS6 Avant itself, but it looks like that wasn’t enough. ABT decided to work on this wagon again by equipping it with the Power R performance upgrade and calling it the ABT RS6-R. Amongst all the other cosmetic upgrades and carbon fiber treatments, the wagon also benefits from 50 extra horses over the ABT RS6. Do we like it all the more now? Hell yeah!

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2020 Ford F-150 by Mil-Spec

2020 Ford F-150 by Mil-Spec

An off-road-oriented truck that is way wider and taller than the Raptor

Ford F-150 is the hot favorite pickup truck for tuners and here’s another proof. Michigan-based Mil-Spec Automotive has laid its hands on this truck and transformed into a complete beast. Although a lot of tuners and aftermarket companies are customizing the F-150 in their own ways, this example actually stands out. Mil-Spec has made cosmetic upgrades on the outside, some plush changes on the inside, and a whole lot of changes to the mechanicals and drivetrain of the truck. From our initial impressions, this is one of the better modded-F-150s we’ve seen in recent times.

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2020 BMW M5 Hurricane RS by G-Power

2020 BMW M5 Hurricane RS by G-Power

German tuner gives current-generation M5 some serious grunt

With a 4.4-liter turbocharged V-8 engine producing 591 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque, the BMW F90 M5 packs a mean punch. The performance sedan is capable of sprinting from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.4 seconds. It’s also capable of maxing out at 155 mph, though if you take the limiter off, the M5 can blitz its way to a top speed of 186 mph. All these numbers paint a clear picture of the M5’s performance capabilities, and, at least on the surface, the numbers are impressive. Then again, the F90 M5 is still teeming with untapped potential, and when there’s room for improvement, a tuner like G-Power is there to answer the bell. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the orange metallic body wrap-wearing BMW F90 M5 Hurricane RS by G-Power, and it is a monster in every sense of the word.

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2021 BMW R 18

2021 BMW R 18

The much-anticipated R18 has the largest boxer engine BMW has ever put in a production bike

BMW finally resolves the curiosity it has been cultivating over the last year with the online (due to coronavirus concerns) unveiling of its boss new cruiser, the R 18. This model wants a chunk of the retro-cruiser market with a faux rigid rear end and old-school geometry, but it ain’t all about the looks. This machine carries the largest boxer-twin engine that Beemer has ever mounted in a bike frame. In spite of its simple, clean look, there is plenty of ride-control wizardry under the hood.

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Everything You Didn't Know About The Jeep Comanche

Everything You Didn’t Know About The Jeep Comanche

It was Jeep’s last truck before the Gladiator came in 2019

The Jeep Comanche was a compact pickup truck that American Motors Corporation (AMC) introduced in 1985. Based on the XJ-generation Cherokee, the Comanche was produced until 1992. Production of the small pickup truck moved under the Chrysler Corporation in 1987, when the giant purchased AMC.

A spiritual successor to the Jeep Scrambler, the Comanche was the brand’s last pickup truck until the Gladiator was revived in 2019. Despite not being as iconic as other Jeep models, the Comanche is slowly but surely becoming a classic. Prices have gone up in recent years as this compact truck is as rare as a Ferrari. Here’s a few things you did not know about the Jeep Comanche.

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2020 Hyundai Kona - Driven

2020 Hyundai Kona - Driven

It really is the baby Hyundai that could - as long as you have the turbo engine

The Hyundai Kona is a strong competitor in the subcompact SUV market, and it’s made itself known in the two short years it’s been on the market. The Toyota C-HR and Honda HR-V both claim their own fame as being top contenders, so we decided to see just how well the Kona can hold up now that it has actually established itself on the market. So, we decided to ask for a test car, and next thing we knew, the Kona was rolling up to Topspeed HQ with its gray paint finish and silver highlights. This is our experience and thoughts after spending a whole week with the Hyundai Kona.

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2022 BMW iNext Electric SUV

2022 BMW iNext Electric SUV

The iNext is touted to be BMW’s flagship product in the EV segment

When BMW launched the Vision iNext concept at the 2018 Los Angeles Motor Show, it took the world by surprise. It was supposed to be the next big thing to come out of the company’s stable, but all people could talk about was that gaudy grille that eclipsed everything else.

The crossover with the Bavarian DNA is designed to combine advanced autonomous systems, connectivity, and electrification blended into one recipe that is touted to be the company’s flagship electric product. The model sits on a new platform and will provide the building blocks for the automaker moving forward. Is this a preview of what we can expect from BMW 10 years down the line?

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Novitec Transforms The Maserati Levante Trofeo Into World's Fastest SUV

Novitec Transforms The Maserati Levante Trofeo Into World’s Fastest SUV

With extra power and a lowered body stance, the SUV is now faster than the Bentley Bentayga!

The Maserati Levante Trofeo has the genes of a Ferrari. That itself says a lot. And, until the Ferrari Purosangue arrives, this is the closest thing we have to a Ferrari SUV. The Levante Trofeo is an exotic SUV that looks stunning on the outside, reeks of luxury on the inside, and has the engine that makes it one of the fastest SUVs on sale today.

Now, imagine everything being raised by a notch. Aftermarket tuner Novitec has laid its hands on Maserati’s latest SUV, the Levante Trofeo and gave it a twist inside out. Called the Levante Esteso V2, it comes with over 600 horses and is now the world’s fastest SUV, beating the mighty Bentley Bentayga.

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2020 Mazda RX-Vision GT3 Concept

2020 Mazda RX-Vision GT3 Concept

May 25 can’t come soon enough...for more reasons than one

A year after announcing that it had become an official video game partner for Gran Turismo Sport, Mazda has unveiled its new digital ride for the game. Called the RX-Vision GT3 Concept, the GT3-class racer is as enthralling and as captivating as you expect it would be.

That’s not a surprise given that the racer pilfers some of its design cues from the obnoxiously raunchy RX-Vision Concept that Mazda unveiled at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show. The low-riding, slinky racer is the creation of Ikuo Maeda, Mazda’s global design boss. The Mazda RX-Vision GT3 Concept isn’t available in Gran Turismo Sport, at least not until May 25, when it arrives as part of an online update. It will join the Atenza Gr.3 as the second GT3-class Mazda in the game.

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2020 KTM 890 Duke R

2020 KTM 890 Duke R

KTM unleashes its "Super Scapel" on North America

KTM added to its mid-range naked-sportbike bracket with the 890 Duke R, now available in North America. Essentially, the factory took its proven 790 Duke and buffed it with fully-adjustable suspension, racier ergos, and better anchors. An all-new powerplant gives a boost in power and torque along with a handful of rider aids to add an element of control over the ride characteristics.

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2020 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series

2020 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series

A more powerful AMG GT R? Yes please!

Introduced in 2014, the Mercedes-AMG GT is no longer the company’s flagship sports car, but a full lineup of vehicles. In three years, AMG not only developed a Roadster but also launched a higher performance coupe and a beefed-up convertible too. Oh, and it also created two different race cars based on the GT. In all, the AMG GT includes seven members, which is darn impressive. But Mercedes-AMG won’t stop here. Although rumors of a Black Series model have yet to be confirmed, recent spy shots suggest that such a version is indeed underway. And we might just see it in the metal in early 2019.

With the GT R in showrooms, a Black Series model might not make much sense, but Mercedes has plenty of room to either slot it between the GT S and GT R or place it above everything else as a range-topping model. The latter scenario is more likely, so we could get an AMG GT with close to 600 horsepower and built in a very limited run. We should find out more later this year, so make sure you stick around for updates. Meanwhile, have a look at my speculative review below.

Update 3/24/2020: The Mercedes-AMG Black Series is about ready for production and we just got a fresh look. Check out the Spy Shots section below to see the latest pictures and learn what has changed!

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2020 Ford Ranger Prorunner By APG

2020 Ford Ranger Prorunner By APG

A pretty good alternative to the yet-to-arrive Ford Ranger Raptor here in the States

Ford is denying us the pleasure of owning a Ranger Raptor in the U.S., but aftermarket companies are cashing in on this opportunity. One such company is South California-based aftermarket tuner Automotive Performance Group, who’s offering a conversion package for the Ranger that may not make it a Raptor, but surely fills the void to a certain extent.

Called the Prorunner Series 1 Package, it comes with a new body kit, carbon fiber fenders, axle shafts, and a lot more stuff. With this package equipped, you can finally take your Ranger to bash the dunes, or through treacherous paths that were close to impossible to tackle with the stock Ranger.

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2020 Infiniti QX50 Impressions - What's Changed from 2019?

2020 Infiniti QX50 Impressions - What’s Changed from 2019?

If you already liked it, it’s now a little better

When we reviewed the redesigned 2019 Infiniti QX50 in October, we called the Japanese luxury brand’s newest model “decidedly ordinary.” As we explained, this premium compact crossover wasn’t a bad car, but unless its voluptuous styling hit the spot for you, it merely got the job done without making a splash — all while a series of small annoyances, such as an awkward throttle calibration and some downscale interior bits, wore away at even this theme of general competence. So did Infiniti resolve these issues for the 2020 model year?

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2020 Morgan Plus Four

2020 Morgan Plus Four

The two-seat roadster sees its first redesign in 15 years

The 2020 Morgan Plus Four is a neo-retro roadster produced by British coachbuilder Morgan. The 2020 Plus Four replaces the old Plus 4, a roadster that Morgan produced without any updates from 2005 to 2020. While the nameplate carries over unchanged, the word "Four" replaces the numeral "4" for better differentiation between the two cars. The 2020 Plus Four is underpinned by the CX-Generation, bonded aluminum platform that Morgan debuted in the 2019 Plus Six. Although it looks virtually the same on the outside, the 2020 Plus Four features a more modern interior, while the old naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine was replaced with a turbo-four from BMW.

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2021 Chevrolet Traverse

2021 Chevrolet Traverse

Chevy is finally getting back on track in terms of design after a momentary lapse

Chevy’s SUV lineup is going through a lot of hustle and bustle lately. In December last year, the American automaker revealed the all-new Tahoe and Suburban. A month later, they reincarnated the Trailblazer moniker to add a seventh SUV/Crossover in the lineup.

Now, they have refreshed the Traverse. The Traverse wasn’t a good-looking vehicle until 2018 when it went through a rejig. The SUV is a bit more attractive now and that resulted in sales going up. In 2019, the Traverse recorded its best sales figures since its inception, and Chevrolet decided to keep the upward trend going by refreshing it again for the 2021 model.

The 2021 Chevy Traverse hasn’t gone through a lot of changes, but it is different from what we’ve been seeing in the last two years. This new model now looks meaner, sharper, and a lot more aggressive. The biggest difference comes in the form of new safety tech that Chevy seems to be introducing on all its refreshed models. The previous big change worked like a charm for the Traverse, but can this refresh replicate the same?

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2020 Mercedes-AMG GT R Roadster - Driven Review and Impressions

2020 Mercedes-AMG GT R Roadster - Driven Review and Impressions

The drop-top track-bred GT R Roadster is not a vehicle you should take lightly

The Mercedes-AMG GT R is a real looker with its long nose and swooped back cabin. Just looking at it evokes all the feelings you’d expect from a precision-built, six-figure machine that bears both the AMG and Mercedes logo. It’s an impressive car, to say the least, but what happens when you get behind the wheel of one of the 750 GT R Roadsters that will be produced? Does it still evoke that same high-end sports car feeling? Does it still feel like it’s ready for the track from the moment you sit down in the seat? Does it drive any different compared to the coupe it is based on? Well, we spent a week with the AMG GT R, and we’ve set out to answer all those questions and more.

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2021 Porsche Cayman 718 GT4 RS

2021 Porsche Cayman 718 GT4 RS

The most extreme Cayman ever built is on its way for 2020!

The 2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS is an upcoming high-performance variant of the 982-generation Cayman that’s rumored to debut in 2020. Essentially a more aggressive and powerful version of the existing 718 Cayman GT4, the 2021 will be the first of its kind and the first modern 718 to feature the "RS" badge. This car has been in the rumor mill ever since the first Cayman GT4 was introduced in 2015, but it took Porsche around four years to turn it into reality. Better late than never, I guess.

The 2021 718 Cayman GT4 RS is more than just a rumor now. The car has already been spotted on public roads with some camouflage on its body, but also with a beefed-up exterior. It features bigger vents in the front, a big rear wing, and many small details that set it apart from the already familiar GT4. Just like the latter, the 2021 718 Cayman GT4 RS will feature the 911’s 4.0-liter flat-six under the hood, but in a more powerful setup. Let’s find out more about it in the review below.

Update 3/18/2020: The Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS has been spotted doing some cold-weather testing and there are a few subtle changes that you need to know about. Check it out in our “Spy Shots” section below!

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2020 Skoda Octavia vRS iV

2020 Skoda Octavia vRS iV

Skoda’s range-topping liftback goes hybrid, packs a solid punch

The 2020 Skoda Octavia vRS is the high-performance version of the fourth-generation liftback sedan. Available in both sedan and wagon body styles, the 2020 Octavia vRS boasts the sportier, more angular design of the latest Octavia, but the really big news is that it features a hybrid drivetrain. This isn’t surprising given that it shares underpinnings with the latest Volkswagen Golf,, but it’s the first vRS model to sport a form of electrification. The 2020 Octavia vRS iV is the first performance Skoda model with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. It also joins other electrified Octavia models like two mild hybrids and a less powerful plug-in. Let’s find out more about this performance four-door in the review below.

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2020 Audi RS Q8

2020 Audi RS Q8

Lambo spirit, German refinement

The 2020 Audi RS Q8 is the high-performance version of the Audi Q8. The latter was introduced as a competitor for the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe, so the 2020 RS Q8 competes against the BMW X6 M and Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 Coupe. The 2020 Audi RS Q8 also goes against the Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe,, which is built around similar underpinnings. The 2020 RS Q8 stands out in this segment thanks to its unique design, but the engine is another highlight. That’s because the 2020 Audi RS Q8 is powered by a mildly detuned version of the 4.0-liter V-8 found in the Lamborghini Urus. With almost 600 horsepower at its disposal, the 2020 Audi RS Q8 is one of the quickest SUVs in this niche. Let’s find out more about that in the comprehensive review below.

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