Last month we headed to San Francisco to drive the Mk7 GTI in and around the city and found it to be carrying on the legacy of fun VW hot hatches quite competently. Today we’re taking an in-depth look at the new GTI from top to bottom, and then we’ll be hitting the streets once again to see how this sporty Golf handles the roads around Michigan.
The seventh generation Golf GTI, denoted as “Mk7”, has been racing around the streets of Europe for over a year now, but we here in the U.S. have had to sit idly by, waiting our turn for a go in VW’s newest iteration of the car that put the hot hatch segment on the map. Now, that wait is finally over. The new GTI sees a number of changes over its predecessor, including a more spacious cabin, a direct-injected engine boasting both additional power and improved fuel economy, and a new, lighter platform. But does it ultimately add up to a better car?
First, it’s important to temper expectations regarding the Sonic RS. It is not an SS. That fact was made abundantly clear in our tech briefing before we drove. It’s also not some willy-nilly styling package, like RS models of old (or new, if you count the RS packs on the Cruze and Camaro). Instead, this Sonic occupies a little-used middle ground in the Chevrolet lineup, bridging the gap between a regular Sonic hatch and something…else (possibly a Sonic SS that the Chevrolet PR people denied ad infinitum).
All 83 pound-feet of torque are available at 4200 rpm, meaning this is a car with zero low-end grunt. Patience is rewarded though, as the climbing revs gave us more and more to work with, until we were zipping about at a surprisingly brisk pace. All along the way, we were accompanied by a burly, rorty exhaust note that had no business coming from a 1.2-liter engine. It’s like this thing runs on minced bulldog; it just has a growl that is so pure and enjoyable. We’d recommend it for this quality alone.
The BMW i initiative—the same venture that created the i3 and i8 electric and hybrid electric cars—has set its sights on alleviating two of the biggest challenges that come with big city driving. Through partnerships with several California-based companies, BMW is rolling out two new programs in the San Francisco area called ParkNow and DriveNow. ParkNow assists drivers in locating and reserving parking spaces, while DriveNow is a streamlined car-sharing program that uses BMW’s ActiveE all-electric 1-Series.
You can expect to hear a lot more about the Escape in the months to come, as Ford continues to build awareness for the name through advertisements, product placement, and the like. You may have already seen the NBC program, Escape Routes, wherein teams compete in various challenges to win prizes and a 2013 Ford Escape. If not, don’t worry, Ford has you in its sights, and it thinks its new compact crossover is worthy of your attention. Here’s why.
With the iQ, Scion is launching one of the few really different cars that we’ll see for 2012. Having spent time driving it on the streets of San Francisco and the highways and winding roads of Marin County, we can report that the iQ is very nearly brilliant in its concept and execution. We can also forecast that 99 percent of you will see the iQ as a curiosity or a bore, not as a real alternative to the 499 other models on the market. The remaining 1 percent, on the other hand, will find the iQ close to ideal, though it takes some mental effort to fully appreciate Scion’s philosophy.
I’m kind of the oddball in the Michigan office of Winding Road—among other reasons, my colleagues would argue—in that I’m not as fond of convertibles as the rest of the team. I almost always prefer the coupe version to the droptop, if available. Heck, if they made an MX-5 coupe, and it was my money, I’d definitely consider choosing that over the convertible. Similarly, I don’t particularly care for sunroofs. I’m just not a big fan of the sun. It hurts my eyes, makes me itchy, and sometimes triggers a migraine. Perhaps my vampiric photophobia stems from growing up in the rainy, shady Pacific Northwest. Or maybe I’m just a freak.
The Honda CR-Z arrives at dealers this week, which seemed a fitting time to give another perspective on this interesting car. Having driven the CR-Z in and around San Francisco, we opted this time to try it in the Midwest on the flatter and more pockmarked roads between Chicago and central Wisconsin (the American Le Mans series was visiting Road America, so we chose that as a suitable destination).
Don’t say “Spor-taah-je” like “fromage.” It’s pronounced straight American, “Sport-age.” The folks from Kia say it that way probably because the third-generation compact crossover is about as American as you can get.
10,000 people celebrating something, is a pretty big deal. 10,000 people gathering to celebrate a car, is an even bigger deal. And that’s exactly what will happen August 13-15, with a nationwide celebration of all things Mini.
In the realm of Greenformance vehicles, the all-electric Tesla Roadster might be our first place choice. It’s a Lotus-chasing, battery-powererd beast, and only a small handful of the world’s population will ever have the chance to drive one. But if you have a knack for writing and are willing to test your skills for a chance to drive a Tesla (the new Roadster Sport), our friends at The Car Connection have quite an offer for you.