Crossovers have changed in the recent past; you no longer have to trade in your testicles and driving sense to drive one. Even the haters (car nuts) have been proven wrong now that more horses, better driving dynamics and sleeker silhouettes have shown up in performance-focused crossovers. Here are five that break hard from the pack of mediocre crossovers still stuck in the driver’s ed parking lot.
Affordable Ways to Your Fuel-Lovin' Heart
Your buddy’s Rosso Corsa Red Ferrari makes your blood boil with envy. Unfortunately, your better half won’t let you mortgage the house so you can buy one yourself. Though they may not have the prancing horse on the grille or elicit gazes from the bold and the beautiful, these 10 affordable driver’s cars still delight with great driving dynamics and the kind of motoring spirit that makes you feel like a kid again.
To drive or ogle? That is the question.
The beauty of classic automotive design is often in direct struggle with modern safety and fuel economy standards, not to mention the latest in technology. But there are still a number of shining examples around today, ones that echo the past and ones that break new ground but don’t break the rules of good taste. These ten prove that less is more and that automotive design is not on the rocks.
It's the little things that count
A car is certainly more than the sum of its parts, but sometimes it’s the little details that make an otherwise good car iconic. These details can be subtle as the Mona Lisa’s smile or bold as the LED spire on the new Freedom Tower, or, more often, somewhere in between. We’ve assembled a list of some of the best automotive features — both innovative and artistic, groundbreaking and evolutionary — to ever see the light of day.
When more is way too much
Nissan’s third generation Murano bowed at the New York Auto Show this spring. The reason you didn’t see it in our Ten Best list from the show is because I hate it the way my architect wife hates attached garages and vinyl siding. Car design is trending toward overbearing, thanks in no small part to the tastes of drivers. But there’s still hope out there.
Today in Gear we covet Filson photo bags, a laser-powered Audi, Bang and Olufsen’s moving TV and more
Not your neighbor's crossover
Perhaps the most enjoyable car to drive in 2014 is one you wouldn’t even stop to admire in a parking lot. The 2014 Audi SQ5 ($59,400) doesn’t have ostentatious styling; its idling engine wouldn’t wake a sleeping babe; it can seat a family of four comfortably with room for luggage. Yet it’s an absolute powerhouse.
A new car, or just a smaller one?
Is Audi’s first entry-level sedan created specifically for Americans truly a new car, or just a smaller version of the status quo?
An Empire State of Rides
Sandwiched between the Geneva Motor Show and the Beijing Auto Show, the New York International Auto Show usually misses out on the biggest reveals of the year, but it still has plenty to offer. This year’s show had its fair share of new designs and vehicles along with loads of improved sheetmetal. We’ve chosen ten standouts from our time on the ground that we’ll be looking to drive in 2015.
Concept cars, by definition, push the limits of automotive invention. But even in a field of enigmas and paradigm shifters there can be standouts, vehicles that make competitors look like toys. This is the realm of the new Audi Quattro Concept Mini, which calls to mind an R8 V10 Spyder designed by a Lilliputian Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s whole-heartedly future-thinking in its indoctrination of a new and entirely untapped target market. Watch the video for our review.
10 Concepts We're Praying Find their Way to Production
Watching concept cars bow at international auto shows is like watching the festivities at Paris Fashion Week: displays are daring, beautiful and sometimes just downright petrifying. The world gets to see bold, shocking statements or captivating ones that might just make it to market. The best examples are fuel for dreams of what may come. This year, the Geneva Motor Show proved to be fertile ground. From a student-submitted sports car to a practical van, here are our 10 favorite concept cars from the show.
From Pocket Rockets to Black Vented Tanks, We're in Love
The Geneva Motor show is where carmakers like to come out and play. The absence of a major Swiss automaker provides both a level playing field for all manufacturers and a platform for car designers to go a bit crazy, often with radical concept cars. But there is a different class of vehicles, the ones that will see production, fulfilling our petrol-filled dreams by bringing speed, power and ingenuity to the road. These are our ten favorite production cars from the show.
Big guns for those haulin' runs
It’s no longer enough for a big SUV to transport seven; it has to look good and feel good (for both driver and passengers) while doing it. Our intrepid Octane crew drove five of the best seven-passenger SUVs out there and found a flavor for just about anyone. While none of these five SUVs are perfect, each is grand in its own right by virtue of style, quality and utility.
Tapered tail, savage sport
We hopped a flight to the deserts of Las Vegas, where early one morning we had our pick of 10 shiny new 2014 Audi RS 7s ($104,900). Over its short tenure, Audi’s A7 Sportback has garnered endless praise and multiple awards, and the sportier S7 has impressed wholeheartedly with its ramped up athleticism and rakish looks. But we were righteously eager that morning in particular because the maniacal RS 7 takes both and soundly trounces them to smithereens.
Today in Gear, we find a good fowl vodka, an Audi for dealing with death threats, a blinged-out Nike FuelBand and much more.
A Taste of Things to Come
Concept cars are the stuff of dreams, representing the wondrous “could be” situations that make us salivate. Every year various auto shows pull the veil off auto industry pageants every year, and every year our collective pulses race to see what car companies have wrought in the way of wild designs, impressive technology and a foreshadowing of what might come in the not-too-distant future. Detroit has delivered ten of the most eye-catching concepts of 2014, and we’ve jumped in with a gusto. See which ones we love and why, here.
The Lebron James of luxury sedans
If the 2014 Audi S8 ($112,000) were a person, he’d be the CEO of a tech conglomerate who lives in Manhattan, competes in triathlons, dates supermodels and always finds himself surrounded at the coolest who’s who parties. The S8 has daily driver looks with supercar stats, making it arguably the perfect car for those who can drop $112k. Lucky for us, we didn’t have to sell our Apple stock to get some wheel time in this 520-horsepower German statement.
The gifts that keep on giving
Just about every morning, before our cup of joe, we slap ourselves as a reminder of how lucky we are to drive some of the best cars in the world and get paid for it. 2013 was another year of stupendous privileges, with wheel time in Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Land Rovers, Bentleys, Rolls-Royces, Porsches, Jaguars, Mercedes-Benzes, Audis, BMWs, Aston Martins and more. We’ve been the beneficiaries of a huge upswing in the automotive marketplace in terms of style, quality and driving excitement through virtually all segments. And you know what that means: 2014 should prove to be even better.
Here are the cars we most covet for the new year, each one a standout in its segment by virtue of its quality, technology, design, driving experience or all of the above. In a stellar field, these are the ones that stir the petrol in our veins the most. As we embark on a new year, here’s a toast to what should be an incredible 2014 on the digital pages of Octane.
Fall for all of them
The end of the summer doesn’t mean that the best driving months are behind us. With the arrival of fall comes cooler temperatures, the rainbow of foliage colors and fewer vacationers on the open roads — all reasons to open up the throttle. But all leaf-scatterers are not created equal. Some have drop-tops for feeling the crisp air zip by your ears and others want to blast snaking backroads; still others will get you, your gear and your family to the annual fall camping spot. These ten cars — our favorites for taking fall driving to the next level — can do it all. If you’re lucky enough to drive one, your winter doldrums just got put on hold.
Ze cream of ze crop
There was another huge auto show this year in Frankfurt, Germany. Spread out across a dozen exhibition halls covering a mile of real estate, the 65th IAA show featured wares from virtually every automaker on the planet. It is at Frankfurt, for instance, where you can learn about cutting-edge technology like heated armrests (no, we’re not kidding) and then walk around the corner and sample the same technology in a 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. If the question is asked, “Wasn’t that car shown at Frankfurt?” chances are, at least for now, the answer is “yes”. Ditto on whether said car saw extensive press coverage. With that, here’s a rundown of the best of Frankfurt — not just the big names, but the ones that made us take notice.
Four doors. Four stars. Five cars.
Germany, how we love thee — especially when it comes to cars. Fast, tractable and built like bank vaults, all our favorite Deutsch sports sedans feature a lordly level of detail. No surprise, then, that while the Japanese and Americans continue to ramp up in the genre, the Germans’ standing is just about engraved in granite. Helming one of these schöne Autos simply makes you feel like a real driver, and the practicality doesn’t hurt, either. We drove five truly great Teutonic four-doors and came away with lots of grins and plenty of notes.
Super is an understatement
Supercars are easily the Kate Uptons of the automotive world: stunning to behold, unobtainable by the average human and wicked in all the right ways. Even in an age of high fuel costs and environmentalism, they still get our attention. Exotic materials, radical designs, pavement rippling performance lead to stratospheric prices, which ensure that for most men, these cars will remain a fantasy. We got to drive a handful of supercars that made us happy to be alive and gave us good reason to change our underwear.
When perfect is not enough
In 2008 Audi introduced the R8, a mid-engine V8 somewhat inspired by their highly successful R8 Le Mans Prototype race car, and blew the world away, winning both the World Performance Car and World Design Car of year awards. It’s undergone only minor changes — until this year. The 2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus ($171,000) gets one of the best upgrades yet, a smooth-as-glass and lightning fast seven speed dual clutch S Tronic transmission. We drove it.
Audi Sport Quattro Concept It’s been 30 years since Audi introduced the Sport Quattro homologation special to qualify for Group B rallying, and the world has been missing the hell out of it. A plug-in hybrid system combines with a twin turbo V8 to churn out a shocking 700 horsepower — over twice that of…
5-Doors to your heart
The venerable station is no longer what it was: a dowdy people hauler that oftentimes “sported” less than favorable designs (faux wood paneling, anyone?). And though the American populace now prefers cross-overs, station wagons still survive in the domestic automotive landscape. With lower centers of gravity, sleeker profiles and (typically) better driving dynamics than their SUV counterparts, there’s plenty of reasons to love them. We certainly do.
It’s for all of the aforementioned reasons that wagons sell in much bigger numbers in Europe. With the hope of bringing the States around to how truly great they are, we give you five of the best wagons (and, sadly, some of the only ones left for sale here). Let’s just hope they never completely disappear.
Starpower trumps horsepower
Weeding through Hollywood’s entire crop of iconic movie cars in the hopes of arriving at an agreed upon best of list is like trying to choose the sexiest Victoria’s Secret model — it can be grueling work, but the research isn’t exactly painful. Car guys are a picky lot, especially when looking to the silver screen: Some go weak in the knees when they hear an American V8 rumble to life slightly out of frame, while others are gaga for the svelte silhouette of a European exotic on a twisty backdrop. A select few believe the essential chase scene is the deciding factor, while yet another breed is only happy when the director has chosen an “appropriate” vehicle for the character driving, regardless of whether the movie was even watchable.
The GP Team’s collection of petrolheads put all of these variables into play, entered into
deep philosophical debate and eventually agreed to disagree so we could present you with our picks for the best movie cars ever. Gentlemen, start your arguing engines!
Breitling Emergency II The built-in personal locator beacon in the Emergency II uses a dual frequency transmitter to communicate with satellites, making your watch (and everything attached to it) easy to track down in case of an emergency. A rechargeable battery means you can explore corners of the Earth unfettered by Radio Shacks and without…
Time to meet the winners
Imagine spending years designing, redesigning, engineering and finally building a car — only to have public opinion weigh in on your baby. No pressure, right? Well, at this year’s New York International Auto Show, plenty of brands did a damn good job. We were tantalized by some of what’s to come: cars that will certainly hit production in some form or another (and thank goodness for that). From track beasts to practical and attractive sedans, we rounded up the cream of the crop, in our humble opinion. Take a look at the 10 best in show.
S is for Sexy
We want everything — always. That’s the American way. We want our gourmet burger with egg, parmesan crust and arugula, our clothes to fit well, be cheap and last forever; we want to marry the veritable hot girl who drinks beer… craft beer… at a football game. Audi’s answer to this consumer desire to have it all(ish) is the S7 ($79,000+). Despite the A7′s success, rumor has it (thanks, Adele) the performance division of Audi wasn’t satisfied yet — so they snuck into the garage one fateful night and replaced the standard 310 hp V6 turbo with a 420 hp 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. The S7 emerged.
Mash the throttle, hold on and smile
As happy as we are to see a smorgasbord of automotive selections at the Detroit Auto Show this year, our pulses raced especially fast for sports cars. But even the definition of a sports car has changed. They don’t always have two doors anymore, and they may never even set tire on a track. But some things never change; what they still can do (at least the good ones) is perform and put a crick in your neck from looking too hard. Here are some of our favorites from NAIAS 2013.