Whether it’s a long weekend in the mountains with friends and family or an afternoon blast through wooded sweepers and switchbacks, not all cars are created equal. Get your hands on one of these seven prime choices, and your September, October and early November should be much more memorable.
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.
Feel The (Clean) Burn
Diesels have come a long way since the days of smoke spewing trucks and roaring German sedans. New advances in diesel tech have made the fuel a more viable option for passenger cars, and they may have some serious benefits over their gasoline counterparts.
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.
Back and better than ever...or is it?
Longer, wider, lighter and with brand new tech, the Mk VII Golf GTI goes head to head…with past versions of itself.
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.
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.
Beach trips can be as much about getting there as what you do when you arrive. Mom’s minivan might be practical, but it might also eviscerate every ounce of road style you’ve ever had. If you’re at the beach on a regular basis (or you just dream of being there 24/7) it might make sense to upgrade your beach ride to one of these sandy shore, white wave seekers.
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.
A small group of concepts deliver big production dreams
Though the New York International Auto Show isn’t a haven for many concept cars, there are always a handful of them to get your attention and whet your appetite for what might come. This year, there were four that we could count, and they’re all worthy of your dollars should they make it to production in some form.
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.
Mittens, check. Shovel, check. Big balls, check and check
The Volkswagen Polar Expedition Amarok was specially built to promote the 2014 Winter Olympics by completing the trans-Russia Amarok Polar Expedition, a trip that can’t be made by any ordinary vehicle. We’re talking about 16,000 miles from Moscow to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on the far southeastern Kamchatka peninsula across snowy Russian terrain, often in the complete absence of roads. We break down the snow beast.
More crossovers than Iverson
Crossovers are the hottest segment in the automotive industry today thanks to solid fuel economy, practicality and bad-weather driving security. And while that popularity means the field is downright dizzying, there are quite a few excellent options from all corners of the earth. GP’s Octane crew drove five solid examples and came away with loads of insight on what the CUV market has to offer.
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.
Making Detroit Shine
The North American International Auto Show is one of our favorite events of the year. It’s a time when just about every carmaker descends on Detroit, and the moment is a golden one. Picture it with us: gleaming steeds — SUVs, sports cars, sedans, pickups and more — as far as the eye can see, a field that’s tough to whittle down to our favorites. But we’ve done just that with these ten beauties, the best of NAIAS.
Power For The People
Volkswagen is making some driver-friendly improvements to their 2014 model line. Good: they’re replacing the somewhat disappointing 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine option in the Jetta and Passat with a torquey (for its size) 1.8-liter, direct-injection turbo four. Better: five models will be given VW’s hot rod R-Line treatment for the 2014 model year. Best: we got to drive them all.
Die Zukunft, Now
No longer the red-headed stepchildren of the car world, hybrids are quickly improving in both design and efficiency. Now, with the introduction of the remarkable Volkswagen XL1 ($TBA), the world’s first hyper-efficient supercar has arrived. The culmination of eleven years of research and development, the XL1 combines elite materials with environmental consciousness to buck precedent and set the bar for the next generation of vehicles. With a carbon fiber reinforced plastic monocoque, a slippery body and pre-eminent hybrid power, the XL1 is the world’s ultimate eco-conscious car.
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.
In the current automotive landscape, true environmental halo cars don’t exist. Volkswagen, however, has produced their own version of a hippie halo car. It’s no V12 powerhouse, nor does it even come close to resembling anything supercar-ish in appearance. But what the VW XL1 definitely does is make a bold statement about what an ultra-efficient, super-small displacement hybrid can be. Our recent trip to VW HQ in Wolfsburg, Germany gave us a prime opportunity to evaluate the XL1 from all angles, including the view from behind the wheel.
We dream up our road trip fantasy rides
When it’s time to make tracks — whether you’re escaping the daily grind or heading to the next adventure — few things will make or break your time on the open road more than the vehicle you’re piloting. Sometimes it’s best to tailor your ride to the destination; sometimes, the car itself should play more of a starring role in your road trip story than your map waypoints do. Why not go all out? From fun-to-fling to made-to-cruise to needs-to-be-seen, we dreamed up our ten fantasy road trip cars, one ideal for every getaway.
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.
If ever there was a hot-hatch-segment-defining car, the VW GTI would most likely be it. And perhaps aside from the heavy and globule-like Mk4, each one has been coveted in its field. The 2015 Volkswagen GTI, the seventh generation of the German pocket rocket, will ratchet things up once more.
The Beetle gets wings
VW’s 2014 Beetle GSR is a resurrection of a badder bug — and proudly sports a 210 horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo. This isn’t the chick car of past years.
Fun Per Gallon
If a hybrid vehicle is what you seek, there are two ends of the spectrum. On the left: the Toyota Prius, sipping fuel at 51mpg through an uninspiring 98 hp engine for $24K. On the right: the Porsche Panamera S Hybrid, which will run you close to $100k, with an “is-this-really-a-hybrid” 22mpg due to its…
Blue in Green
Some concepts barely qualify as concepts because they’re so close to what appears to be a production version. You can tell by the absence of both tiny side mirrors and manhole-cover-sized wheels. And that’s exactly what we find in the handsome new Volkswagen Crossblue Concept. Intended for families, it slots above the Touareg with three-row…
Its worst emission? Burnt rubber
The second coming of the very popular and virtually unpronounceable Volkswagen Touareg (“Too-a-regg”) now comes in Hybrid form, which actually makes more sense than hybridizing a compact car that already gets better gas mileage than its larger automotive counterparts. And though its 20/24 city/highway mileage numbers don’t truly impress (the Touareg TDI gets better fuel…
Though it isn’t the hot hatch GTI version — which will no doubt show itself very soon — the 2014 Volkswagen Golf gives us a nice glimpse into the future of faster hatches from the German automaker. The new design isn’t radically different from its predecessor, but the changes are a welcome improvement. Fresh off…
Baby Got Back
At first glance, the Doubleback looks like your average VW Transporter van. Pushing a single button, however, completely transforms the popular European passenger carrier into a home away from home in just under a minute. Thanks to the extra room provided by the extendable pod, the central cabin serves as a fully functioning kitchen, complete…
Highest Common Denominator
Taking a step back — a good one — VW returns to its roots of making stellar vehicles at earthly prices, and the result is the 2012 Volkswagen Passat, now made right here in America. Remarkably better than its predecessor yet refreshingly light on the wallet (prices start under $20 grand) the 2012 Passat is…