Behind the Wheel

Sharing my experience behind the wheel of a new car each week. Also exclusive access at auto shows and press events.

The BMW M3 is a powerhouse!

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The 2015 BMW M3 is a compact luxury on steroids; every thing gets enhanced over the 3-Series: A more powerful engine with nearly 250 more horsepower, bigger brakes, stiffer suspension, and a louder exhaust.

One thing you will also notice right away, is that the new BMW M3 is a sedan. Traditionally (prior to 2014) the M3 was a four passenger coupe. In 2014 BMW transitioned its model system: Odd numbers are sedans / wagons and even numbers are coupes / convertibles (both two-doors and four-doors). Adding M performance to the new 3-series sedan was a really smart decision. It offers buyers who want a true sports car, but need a backseat and four doors. The only other four door sports car that comes to mind is the Porsche Panamera, but its longer wheelbase and weight means that it wouldn’t be as agile as the M3 on the racetrack.

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Under the hood of the 2015 BMW M3 is twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six that makes 425 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. It is also an update over the previous generation. Prior M3s offered a 4.0L V8 that produced 414 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. This new six-cylinder may be smaller, but it is a lot faster! 2015 BMW M3 goes 0 to 60 in just 3.9 seconds. That is faster than the current Audi R8, Porsche 911 and Alfa Romeo 4C. But lets not forget, this is a four-passenger with four doors.

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The 2015 BMW M3 I tested had all of the performance bells and whistles, including BMW’s M Carbon-Ceramic Brakes. The package improves brake performance under high temperatures and reduces the overall vehicle weight by 42 pounds; it’s exactly what you need for the racetrack. The M3 with the M Carbon-Ceramic Brakes package delivers incredible stopping power when it is dry – it is the quickest stopping vehicle I have ever driven – but be really careful in the rain. On the fifth day of testing the M3, a nice rain shower came through town and I quickly realized that stopping performance went from amazing to poor. It wasn’t the tires, the rain had cooled the rotors and pads, which reduced the effectiveness of the brakes. It also caused them to squeal often… but as soon as the rain passed, the brakes went back to normal and delivered impressive performance.

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“Lift is too short to drive boring cars.” I don’t remember who said it, but they were right. The joy of driving the 2015 BMW M3 is enhanced if you get the 6-speed manual – In my opinion, it is one of the best modern day manual transmissions you can buy. The gearbox shifts easily and the clutch is stiff enough so you easily know when it catches, but not so stiff that it wears your foot out. The best part of BMW’s new manual transmission is active rev-matching. No more heal-to-toe downshifting! As soon as you place the car into gear, the RPMs will rise to the appropriate speed. So all you have to do is let the clutch out.

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It was really hard to say good bye to the 2015 BMW M3. It was fun to drive, super quick, very nimble, and it comfortably fit myself and three friends… It is the perfect four-door sports car.

BMW_logoFor more information on the 2015 BMW M3, contact your local dealer or click here to visit BMW’s website.

 

The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C is one of the best cars I have ever driven.

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The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C is striking… It has got seductive Italian curves and a Ferrari-like exhaust note. I drove the car everyday for a week, and every time I got behind the wheel, I had someone ask me about the car. Six out of the seven days with the car, I had fellow motorist roll down their window and compliment me on the car. Most admirers hadn’t seen the car before, but knew the brand. One admirer thought it was a Ferrari, which isn’t that far off… The Alfa Romeo 4C comes from the Fiat-Chrystler family, which includes Ferrari.

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Alfa Romeo comes from a long tradition of using cutting edge technology to achieve engineering excellence. The 4C is no exception. It’s mid-engine design give it a perfect 50/50 balance. It’s light weight carbon-fiber tub places drivers low to the ground and lowers the vehicle’s center of gravity. Very few vehicles can match the handling of the Porsche Boxster GTS and the new Mazda Miata, but the Alfa Romeo 4C could run circles around them.

The Alfa Romeo 4C comes with robust powertrain, a 237hp twin-turbo 4-cylinder motor paired with a super responsive dual-clutch transmission. But the real kicker is that this little monster weighs less than 2,500 pounds. All this combined, gives the 4C a 0 to 60 time of 4.1 seconds. Wow! Fun Fact: The US version is nearly 350 pounds heavier than its European counterpart, due to US safety regulations. In terms of a stock sports car, this is probably one of the safest cars you can buy. The carbon fiber tub acts like a 360-degree shield to protect occupants, and the vehicle offers a concealed roll bar (just in case you flip it over).

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When the first reviews of the Alfa Romeo 4C came out, many journalists criticized the 4C’s interior or lack there of. I don’t know which trim level they were driving, but the vehicle I tested was nice really. The center console was made of hard plastic, but the other premium materials more than made up for it: a smooth leather dash, microfiber seat inserts, and beautiful red stitching on the seats, doors and dash. The exposed carbon fiber tub reminds drivers that you are behind the wheel of a car that is engineered for performance. Fair warning: the seats are super thin and a little uncomfortable. The car also doesn’t have power steering. But that is a good thing, because it keeps the weight down.

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With its heritage, radical design, and mid-engine layout, most passer-by-ers would think you are driving a $200,000 super car – it even has a engine preview window like on the Ferrari 458 Italia and on most Lamborghini’s – but the 4C isn’t a $200,000 car, its not even a $100,000 car! The Alfa Romeo 4C starts at $53,000. You get the thrill and attention of a Ferrari for a 1/5 of the price. Finally an Italian exotic that doesn’t break the bank!

I love everything about this car. The way it looks, the way it sounds, and most importantly, the way it drives. It drives like a proper sports car should. It is low to the ground, rough riding and you can feel every bump. The Alfa Romeo 4C is one of the best cars I have ever driven.

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For more information on the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C, visit your local dealer or click here to visit the Alfa Romeo website.

Soak up the sun in the Audi S5 Cabriolet.


The 2015 Audi S5 Cabriolet is the ideal convertible: it is super fun to drive, sexy, sophisticated, sumptuous, and sporty.

The S5 is an A5 on steroids. It comes equipped with a 333 horsepower super-charged V6 engine, a 7-speed dual clutch transmission, and a sports-tuned suspension. The extra 113 horsepower and quicker shifting gearbox make a huge difference. The optional sports differential greatly improves its agility… This car was built for increased performance.  (more…)

The GMC Sierra 1500 Denali is the ultimate pickup truck.

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I am not a construction worker, I don’t own a farm and I am not handy around house… But I could picture myself driving a luxury pickup truck everyday. The 2015 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali turns the workman’s pickup truck into a vehicle that is equipped to lure executives from boring sedans and SUVs. The outside features a muscular grill and 20″ polished aluminum wheels, as well as, chrome doorhandles, mirrors and side moldings. The looks make you feel powerful.

The GMC Sierra 1500 Denali isn’t just a pretty face. It is powered by a 6.2L V8 engine that produces 420 horsepower and 460 pounds of torque. That is powerful enough to pull a 7,200 pound trailer. The truck also features GM’s next generation magnetic ride control, which allows to improved handling or a comfortable ride.

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A look inside and you will find that the cabin offers a spacious interior, both front and back. With heated and cooled large leather seats, the driver and front passenger will be ridding in first class. The rear passengers will enjoy an extreme amount of legroom – more legroom than S-Class Mercedes. I also noticed that the GMC Sierra 1500 Denali offer an unusually quite ride, for a pickup truck.

This vehicle is loaded with tech… It comes standard with a large touchscreen display, bluetooth connectivity and a natural voice command system. The GMC Sierra Denali also comes with 4G LTE connectivity from OnStar – This allows you to turn the truck into a wifi-hotspot. If your mobile devices are running low on power, I spotted 4 usb outlets, two 12V sockets (cigarette lighter) and an AC power outlet.

While I wasn’t hauling lumber or moving furniture, I was able to appreciate having a full-size in my driveway. It was comfortable for everyday use and I looked really cool driving it! General Motors recently did a study comparing men who drive trucks and sedans…. Can you guess which guys were more attractive to women?

Trucks won obviously! While the GMC Sierra 1500 Denali technically didn’t make me a better looking guy, I confident behind the wheel. My whole attitude changed and I looked forward to driving around town.

For more information on the GMC Sierra 1500 Denali, visit your local GMC dealer or click here to visit the GMC website.

The Scion TC is the perfect car for new drivers.

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If you are buying your son or daughter their first car, you want them to be driving something reliable, safe and not too expensive. But you also want something they will enjoy and be proud to show their friends. The 2015 Scion TC may suite the bill:  (more…)

The Jeep Renegade Latitude Was Built For the Urban Explorer

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15 minutes behind the wheel and you will clearly see that this isn’t your average Jeep… The Renegade was built for the urban explorer. This is the perfect car for getting around town. It easy to drive and easy to park, plus you look cool driving it! The signature Jeep grill along with other key design elements are striking. There is no questioning that this is built on tradition.  (more…)

You can’t go wrong with the 2015 Subaru Legacy Limited

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When I think of luxury vehicles, I think of premium features such as heated leather seats, laser guided cruise control and an all-wheel-drive system. Does the $26,000 to $30,000 Subaru Legacy Limited have that? Check, check and check. This vehicle is packed with luxury amenities, technology and safety at a non-luxury price.  (more…)

The Mercedes-Benz S550 Coupe is enchanting!

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Picture the best car you have ever driven and times that by two. Now describe the car… Mercedes-Benz S550 Coupe represents what every car should be. It is the pinnacle of German engineering: It is one of the most luxurious cars on the road, it is one of the most well crafted cars on the road, and it is fun to drive!  (more…)

The Chrysler 200S packs a punch!

The Chrysler 200 from the start is a great car. It features a number of best-in-class features, such a 9-speed automatica transmission. But, the sport version of the Chrysler 200 turns this vehicle from an average everyday driver into a performance sedan.

Upgrades include a powerful 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine that delivers Best-in-Class 295 horsepower and 262 ibs-torque. When compared to other vehicles, the Pentastar engine deliver both impress performance and fuel economy – 32 mpg on the highway. To top off the performance aspect, the sports tuned suspension and all-wheel-drive allow you to handle corners like a pro.  (more…)

Introducing the new Ford Edge

Ford invited me to experience the all new Ford Edge in Pheonix, Arizona. The 2015 EDGE boasts an all new platform, exterior and interior.

With increase performance and handling on the Sport model, it answers a calling for a performance oriented mid-sized SUV under 50k. The vehicle corners like a sedan and offers less body roll than you would expect for a vehicle in this segment.  (more…)