There’s a clip from Top Gear from a few years ago, where Jeremy Clarkson talks about a hot hatch being able to haul a chest of drawers while still being an absolute hoot to drive. By that definition, the Volvo XC70 Polestar is a hot hatch.
The three-hour charge time is downright reasonable when compared to a Volt or Leaf, which can take anywhere from nine to 13 hours to recharge (based on our experience). And like the Volt, there’s absolutely no sense of range anxiety, as once the battery is drained, the car becomes a standard, fuel-sipping Prius hybrid.
Regardless of history or tradition, this is not a convertible in the classic sense. It’s more of a targa top. Now, there’s nothing really wrong with that, but it shouldn’t be sold and marketed as a convertible. Call it a 500T. Don’t get my hopes up and then crush them via a glorified cloth sunroof.
Two things about this vehicle set me off. For one, I really am not a fan of this 3.0-liter V-6/six-speed-automatic powertrain. Sure, this vehicle is faster than the last four-cylinder Terrain I drove, but only marginally. Off-the-line and high-end power are lacking, although mid-range punch isn’t bad. I will say that it doesn’t sound particularly inspiring. This V-6 just didn’t feel fast enough to warrant ordering it over the four-cylinder, especially when that model is $1500 cheaper and nets considerably better mileage.
If you’ve read our Quick Drive of the 2011 Kia Soul, you’ll know that we like this boxy little vehicle, except for a few issues. Of course, a month after we publish that piece, Kia sent us its new-and-improved 2012 Soul, and addresses some of our baser concerns with the otherwise competent Kia.
As ever, the Mazda3 has got to be seen as almost the default compact car choice for any driver that a) cares about handling and good driving dynamics, or b) wants a sizeable hatchback that still offers great fuel economy.
The Mitsubishi Outlander, when driving it, felt pretty average to me, which isn’t bad considering its low starting price of just under $22,500 (1K more for all-wheel drive), with our tester starting below $28K. It’s also a vehicle that has sort of grown on me as I ponder it after our week-long loan. First of all, it provides a good amount of space, and can haul a lot of people or cargo comfortably. Its grip is pretty remarkable, and the dial in our tester that lets you select between “Tarmac,” “Snow,” and “Lock” makes choosing the right mode a simple choice, and proves the Outlander capable. I also enjoy the big magnesium paddle shifters mounted on the steering column. They’re fun to use, and are really easy to grab regardless of where you’re pointing the steering wheel.
The Tig has good size, is nice looking (the redesign was a good piece of work for VW), is easily maneuverable in the suburban sprawl, with confidence-inspiring AWD that will never need to prove itself on anything rougher than an icy street. The powertrain is, as is mentioned above, somewhere between “adequate” and “sort of fun” on the enthusiast spectrum, which puts it in the top-half of the crossover segment, at least.
The 550 is sort of in the sweet spot of the S-Class lineup. All the other ones are either smart on their fuel consumption, or are insanely powerful. If you’re a meat-and-potatoes kind of person, this is the model for you. It has plenty of power, but it feels perfectly relaxed and effortless under normal driving.