It’s said that driving a slow car fast is one of the greatest automotive thrills, especially when it’s a lightweight, rear-wheel-drive roadster with a rigid chassis, slick manual transmission, phenomenal balance and perfectly-weighted steering — a car like the Mazda Miata. With the latest generation just released, it’s about time we explored the past, present and future of the world’s most popular roadster.
The cult of the Miata lives
Who would’ve imagined that a small, underpowered roadster like the Mazda MX-5 Miata would become the darling of the roadster world? Gear Patrol traveled to the challenging Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca, where every version of the iconic Japanese roadster took to the tarmac recently to celebrate the cult of Miata.
Yes, you still have to do the driving
Staying connected to your information — whether that means access to music, social media, restaurant reviews, or navigation — is essential, even when you’re on the road. These are some of the best connected cars on the market today; they range from an affordable hatchback to a racy new minivan and all the way to one of the most luxurious rides on the planet.
The Best of the IIHS's Top Rated
When purchasing a new car, crash safety ratings tend to fall below other priorities like style, fuel economy, performance, amenities, cost and even brand loyalty. That’s unfortunate, since more than a handful of cars will consistently fail to perform well in the one situation we all hope to avoid: a serious accident. If you’re smart, and especially if you have kids in tow, you’ll take the time to bone up on which vehicles are the safest. Of the 22 cars that received the highest safety rating from the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), these are the absolute best.
This Week's News on Wheels
This Week in Motoring: Chrysler surges ahead in sales, the skinny on Singer Porsche, missing pickup tailgates, North Korean grand theft auto and much more.
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.
Don't Judge a Beast by its Cover
It would be a dream come true to own a flaming red Ferrari, but sometimes it’s best not draw attention (jealousy, ire, the eyes of law enforcement) to your vehicle. Those who want the power and speed without the notoriety can look to “sleepers”, cars almost intentionally built to escape notice while still secretly packing heaping loads of power and punch — and chips on their shoulders.
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.
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.
Rising Stars from the Rising Sun
Japanese cars have long been the epitome of reliability and trustworthiness, but they haven’t always been beautiful to look at. Things have changed with the current generation of Japanese cars, which boast great design and more personality than ever, along with driving dynamics that can rival (and even best) the Germans in some cases. Their bombproof reliability hasn’t been altered through the generations, either. Here are the ten best rising cars from the land of the rising sun.
Purity in Motion
2013 has been a great year in our motoring lives. We’ve hit the tarmac and the dirt track, tossed around Ferraris and Lambos, captured the ultimate camera car and two-wheeled it through the streets of London and Los Angeles. That’s a hell of a lot of burnt rubber — and we relished every moment.
We loved ‘em all, sure, but it’s high time we selected Gear Patrol’s Best New Car of the year, a tough task amid the fierce competition of some of the best vehicles we’ve seen in a long time. That field is packed full of cars from diverse manufacturers, each deserving of vehicular accolades of the highest order. But there can be only one winner — and to us, that winner is clear. The best car of the year is the 2014 Porsche Cayman S. But before we wax poetic (and we surely will), there are plenty of counterarguments to be made and bridesmaids to applaud.
Midsized, but far from the middle of the pack
The war of midsize family sedans is a brutal one, with combatants from the likes of Honda, Toyota, Ford, Nissan and GM upping their game year after year. The 2014 Mazda6 ($20,990) has made mincemeat of the competition through its combination of head-turning looks, a capacious cabin and the best driving dynamics in the challenging segment. The 184 horsepower direct-inject 16-valve 2.5-liter SkyActiv gasoline engine is peppy, backed by the best steering and handling in the segment. It’s an excellent family car that’s worthy in every respect.
The eighth installment of our Staff Favorites series features Mr. Jonathan Gallegos. Jonathan has been described as a “strange bird” among the GP crew — though we mean it in the most affectionate sense. He certainly has an eclectic skill set: a Masters Degree in taxation paved the way for his full-time job as a tax accountant, but before all that this numbers man also figured out how to deftly craft copy, all the while bussing tables, running a “debt-laden” eBay store and toweling off tennis pros. His passions run wide and deep. Photography, cars, sports, arguing the finer points of Shiner Bock and his other favorite beers — none are spared his attention. All of these things are firmly rooted in his sometimes obscene, always diabolically funny sense of humor. He might not always be entirely tasteful, but he’s got a damn good taste in gear.
It's hot to hatch
In the States, we know that size still matters. And just like dinner portions, Americans love their bigger cars and trucks. But times, they are a changin’, and the current crop of hatchbacks just goes to show that manufacturers are putting in a lot more thought, time and money into developing small cars that work big. Driving a hatchback no longer makes you look like you were holding the door when they were handing out real cars. The combination of solid styling, creature comforts and great fuel economy (and, sometimes. wickedly good performance) has young and old alike turning to 5-doors options. We drove five of the best for a month and came away with a new appreciation for the hot hatch.
Tops be droppin'
Summer isn’t nearly as enjoyable without top-down driving. As much as we’re fans of hardtop automotive design and the way a sweeping roofline catches the eye, we have to admit that the clear growl of an engine and the wind in your hair makes the warmer months that much better. Even a drive up Pacific Coast Highway in a cream-hued 1995 Chrysler Sebring Convertible can be a pleasure (as long as no one actually sees you). Bully for you, convertibles are better than ever — gone are the fussy tops, the anemic engines, and silhouettes that would make Quasimodo cringe. The crop of current convertibles range from modern nostalgia to supercar power players, but one thing they all do is make your motoring pleasure good for all the world to see.
The 10 That Got Away
Some concept cars are the stuff of dreams, and some make a justified beeline for the crusher. But then there are the truly glorious ones: the concepts built just for show, never meant to be anything more than the Paris runway model of the automotive world, or those lucky few that see their design elements actually influence production cars, even if they themselves never make it to the street. Tragically, for many of the best, somewhere between an auto show debut and the fevered, hopeful dreams of auto enthusiasts, some kind of childhood-hating shutdown switch gets flicked by faceless bean counters. In honor of the fallen, we take a look at 10 of the best concept cars that only ever got to lay rubber on the auto show floor.
A new generation of four-doors
Family sedans tend to be the automotive equivalent of Valium (minivans are horse tranquilizers, in case you were wondering), but times have changed. Family men no longer need to sacrifice
too much in the way of driving excitement and looks in order to transport tykes and trikes. We get it. You’d rather be doing some tire ripping, engine-snorting performance runs on your way to drop off your son at school. Still, we’ve compiled our list of “family sedans” that take let you perform your dad duties with aplomb while still allowing you more than a modicum of manly fun.
The midsize car wars wage on, making up nearly 20% of the total market share of consumer automobiles. And there are more players than ever, so if you want to compete, you’d better not bring your knife to a gun fight. We love the current Mazda6, but the
The one, the only
The MX-5 is the quintessential roadster. Balanced, tractable and compliant, it’s a true driving purist’s car. And Mazda churns out special editions of their venerable little roadster like the Alien Mother pops out face huggers. Perhaps the most significant permutation of the MX-5 is the Mazda MX-5 Super20, a one-of-a-kind version that first bowed at…
The 2010 Paris Motor Show had landed and it wouldn’t be unreasonable to for a man to assume an amplitude of impossibly sexy cars, leggy models, and enough bespoke suits to make the men of Positano blush. Well, if this year’s display of supercar prowess is anything more than a declaration that the recession is…
Last month, Gear Patrol was invited to be amongst the very first folks in North America to get keys to the brand new 2011 Mazda2. Naturally, we were keen to accept the offer where we sojourned to Montreal to get our hands, feet, and butts-in-seat on Mazda’s forthcoming compact – an award-winning vehicle that’s garnered…
Zoom-Zoom For Real
There’s no doubt that smaller cars are hot right now (finally). With the Geneva Auto Show around the corner, Mazda has thrown out a few teasers to the Mazdaspeed3, a devilish vehicle powered by a 263 horsepower 2.3 liter DISI turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Sure, it might not qualify as the best method of transportation for…
[click on image to enlarge] Suffice it to say, these days aren’t exactly ideal for car ownership. But giving up some of your monthly car payment allowance doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice image, quality or performance (and efficiency). Mazda’s laid a pretty impressive punch to the automarket with its 2009 Mazda6. The Mazda6, aestheticlaly,…