First Drives

  • BMW M2 vs. Focus RS

    Being low man on the totem pole isn't always so bad. Two of our finalists for the Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2017 award, the 2016 BMW M2 and 2016 Ford Focus RS, started life at or near the bottom of their respective lineups. The Ford Focus’ platform dates back to 2011. It’s a front-wheel-drive compact built mainly for economy buyers--though with its firm, responsive tuning, we've always liked the way the Focus handles. The BMW 2-Series is the German company's entry-level product here. Its rear-wheel-drive layout gives it a stronger basis for a more sporty character, but it's...

  • 2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE
    2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE first drive review: More than a track package

    I’m in the base model, on a pencil-straight desert road, and I already love this car. Even with the V-6 engine you can get in an Impala, the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE has already wormed its way into my heart. The immediate steering response, the feel of the suede-covered steering wheel, and...

  • 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
    2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio first drive review

    Cracking off shifts of the ZF 8-speed automatic with the column-mounted aluminum paddle shifters, the 505-horsepower turbocharged 2.9-liter V-6 snarling like a staked pitbull, and railing up the fast, heavy g-loading of Turn 1 at Sonoma, the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio tucks in and rotates...

  • 2017 Lincoln Continental
    2017 Lincoln Continental first drive review

    It must be tough to be Lincoln. As the brand has learned, time and again, there is a difference between image and reputation. The most tired trope among those who care about cars is to anticipate the reemergence of the world-beating American luxury brand, which has moved quietly to the sidelines...

  • 2016 Ford Focus RS
    2016 Ford Focus RS first drive review: the hottest of the hatches

    Ford couldn't have released the Focus RS at a better time. The Mitsubishi Evo is officially dead, and the Subaru WRX STI is getting long in the tooth. The most recent generation of the STI is only offered as a sedan, and an Evo hatchback was never offered in the U.S. While other automakers are...

  • 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster S, white
    2017 Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman first drive review: don't play it by ear

    The Porsche Boxster and Cayman are brilliant sports cars, but they're not so different as the names might suggest — they’re basically the same car, aside from that minor roof thing. So why different names? Indeed. This year, Porsche's debugging that situation by adding a new prefix...

  • 2017 Infiniti Q60

    The 2017 Infiniti Q60 tells no lies. In top trim, Q60 Red Sport 400, the Q60 delivers on every one of its promises: It’s one better than the Q50 (from which its related); there is in fact, a red S (which is also part of Infiniti’s even more confusing nomenclature now); and every bit of its claimed 400 horsepower is believable. Its exterior pulls no punches either. Just below the enlarged grille, the lines from its lower front fascia ascend through the Infiniti badge and converge at a pinched point of sheet metal just above the arrow. Bookended by angry squinting eyes that double...

  • 2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
    2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo first drive review

    Faulkner famously told us the past isn't dead; it isn't even past. We can't prove it, but we think he had the Nissan Sentra SE-R in mind. The 1991-1994 SE-R set the cheap-car benchmark for a generation: a flyweight car with feathery controls and a lamprey lock on the pavement. Think ersatz M3 with...

  • 2017 Mercedes-AMG E43 first drive
    2017 Mercedes-AMG E43 first drive review

    Big Gulps. Animal Style. Smothered, covered, chopped, and chunked. America's shameless and torrid affair with the over-the-top isn't limited to food. When it comes to luxury and performance cars, we like them big and brawny, too. Alpha-numeric sequences like CTS-V and E63 and M5 activate overworked...

  • 2017 Mercedes-Benz E400 Wagon first drive
    2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon first drive review

    An icon since its introduction at the Frankfurt auto show in 1977, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon enters the 2017 model year with a new model: the E400. Tons of new tech, a new engine option, and some of the best semi-autonomous driving features around make the new 2017 Mercedes-Benz E400 Wagon...

  • 2017 Ford Fusion Sport
    2017 Ford Fusion Sport first drive review: Mainstream goes premium

    A couple of premium automakers have tried tossing pedestrian engines in their premium cars, and the results were disastrous. Acura shoved a 150-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder in the ILX, and buyers stayed away in droves. Cadillac plopped the Malibu's 202-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder in the ATS...

  • 2016 Ferrari 488 GTB
    2016 Ferrari 488 GTB first drive review: mid-engine magic

    Quiet hands. A race instructor friend of mine harps on them all the time. If you want to go fast around a track, you need smooth, steady steering inputs to keep the suspension settled and keep the car on its intended path. Saw at the wheel and you are losing precious time. If you are driving the...

  • 2017 BMW Alpina B7 xDrive

    BMW’s flagship sedan, the 7-Series, has never received the M performance treatment. That’s OK, though—Alpina is here to help. In fact, the small BMW-exclusive tuner company does such a good job of building what is, in effect, an M7 that we doubt BMW could top it. Alpina is a company of 230 employees that started out 51 years ago by offering a carburetor performance upgrade for the New Series 1500 sedan. The company has worked closely with BMW ever since, and their relationship took the next step in 2002 when BMW began offering an Alpina version of the Z8 roadster. Two years...

  • 2017 Porsche 911 Turbo First Drive
    2017 Porsche 911 Turbo first drive review

    The more the 2017 Porsche 911 Turbo talks, the more it sounds like the end. In many ways, it's coarse and gruff—the way a 911 Turbo should sound. Noise from the turbochargers force-feeding a 3.8-liter flat-6 to within an inch of its life howl through the straights, rear tires wail from...

  • 2017 Genesis G90
    2017 Genesis G90 first drive review: A luxurious beginning

    In the beginning, Honda created Acura. Toyota and Nissan looked upon it and saw it was good, and they begat Lexus and Infiniti. Many years later, Hyundai looked upon these luxury makes, saw they were good, and begat the Genesis coupe and sedan followed by the Equus sedan. Hyundai looked upon the...

  • 2017 Aston Martin DB11 First Drive
    2017 Aston Martin DB11 first drive review

    Aston Martin turned out garage rock and roll for decades. Of course, the small British carbuilder got some big help from deep-pocketed benefactors who tried every way to Sunday to turn a profit. They failed. But the sound from the factory at Gaydon has always been raw, reckless, and—excuse...

  • 2017 Porsche Panamera, Technical Backgrounder, July 2016
    2017 Porsche Panamera Turbo first ride

    The 2017 Porsche Panamera Turbo may not hit the streets until next January, but we've already had the opportunity to go for a spin. And what a spin it was! Porsche gave journalists rides at the Lausitzring (also called Eurospeedway Lausitz) road course near Dresden, Germany. Much like the infield...

  • 2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, red
    2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport first drive review

    The Corvette is the king of American sports cars, but which one reigns supreme? If smashmouth acceleration and take-no-prisoners grip are your thing, the only Corvette on the menu is the Z06. Check, please. If you favor a subtler approach--maybe just a roundhouse to the jaw, with a donkey-kick...

  • 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang

    We've already driven the Ford Shelby Mustang GT350, and spent most of our time in its natural habitat: the road course at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (to be fair, any track will do). But this past week I've had the opportunity to drive the GT350 at home in Chicago, like I would any other commuter car. My test car is chassis number G0017, so I assume it is the 17th car built. Painted Deep Impact Blue with black rims, it looks sinister but doesn't have any obvious GT350 graphics to let the uninitiated know just how serious this car really is. The car has only two options, a $475 "Over-The-Top"...

  • 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class Coupe (GLC300 Coupe 4Matic)
    2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC300 4Matic Coupe first drive review

    You know that thing where we're calling things coupes, when they're not? Lay that at the feet of Mercedes-Benz. Back in 2006, Benz started the "four-door coupe" trend with the original CLS-Class sedan. Things quickly got out of hand. All sorts of brands, from Land Rover to Mazda, started using...

  • 2017 Subaru BRZ
    2017 Subaru BRZ first drive review

    Remember when fun-to-drive cars were rear-wheel drive? When neutral handling trumped tricked-out suspensions with variable-ratio everything? When manual gearboxes weren't just available, but standard? The Subaru BRZ is trying to save sports cars with headsmackingly simple counterprogramming. It's...

  • 2018 Audi S5 and A5
    2018 Audi A5 and S5 first drive review: Sibling rivalry renewed

    Audi's A4 brings home the bacon for its U.S. sales arm, but there's no denying the stylish spin-offs that give the compact-car family its panache: the Audi A5 and S5. These Audi twins vie for attention at the dinner table. Between bites, the sleek A5 catches up on the #RichKidsOfInstagram hashtag...

  • 2018 Volvo V90 (Euro-spec prototype)  -  First Drive, June 2016
    2018 Volvo V90 first drive review

    Wagons have been staged for a comeback for more than a decade. Yet time after time, seemingly splendid, sporty wagons have fizzled in the American market. Is Volvo being hopelessly optimistic in bringing the V90 wagon to the U.S., where wagon sales barely break a one-percent market share year after...

  • 2016 McLaren 570S
    The $187,400 McLaren 570S is Ferrari's rude wake-up call: first drive review

    Say you just sold your first mobile app, or your company just got acquired by some search-engine giant. What’s a car-crazed geek to do? Real estate? Retirement plan? We’d do something totally logical like this--the 570S, the first car in McLaren's more attainable Sports Series. Logical...

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