2016 Volkswagen Beetle R-Line SEL

20160517_150234I remember the first time I laid eyes on a Volkswagen Beetle, in Grant, Nebraska in about 1963.  A young man in town named Charlie Brixius had purchased a used one (perhaps a 1959), and made quite a splash driving it up and down Main Street over and over.  We all did that back then – gas was cheap, the pace was leisurely, and that was the place to be seen.  The U-turns were made at the same intersections on the north and south end of this town of 1,000 population, and some of the guys out cruising were lucky enough to have a girl sitting in the middle of the front seat for the ride.  20160517_150306

Charlie never had a girl sitting in the middle of his front seat, because the “bug” had two bucket seats in the front of the four-passenger, rear-engined, rear-wheel drive VW.  Neither did I, as I rode a Honda 50 scooter/cycle.

Volkswagen Beetles were built from 1938 to 2003, and  over 20 million have been manufactured and sold worldwide since the inception of the car in Germany.  A man named Porsche designed the car, and along with the rear engine placement, the car was air cooled, without coolant or a radiator.

What is commonly called a “New Beetle” with coolant, a front engine, and front-wheel drive, has been marketed on and off since 1997.  Such a car is what was brought to me a week ago for testing, a 2016 Turbocharged Tornado red unit with “R-Line” equipment specified, including a spoiler, “twister” alloy wheels, extra gauges, aluminum pedal covers, and special badging.

Power for my test car was supplied by a 2.0 liter, 210 horsepower (207 lb. ft. of torque) four cylinder gas engine with an EPA mileage rating of 23/city, 31/highway, 26 combined MPG.  The transmission on hand was a six-speed manual, and it seemed sturdy and somewhat enjoyable.  For having a turbocharger, the engine had a definite grumble to it, belying the high RPM turbo operating in the power department.  Turbochargers whir at about 150,000 revolutions per minute – roughly 30 times as fast as the engine.  They are nice in Colorado, spinning faster at our altitude and mitigating power loss that can be associated with naturally-aspirated (i.e. fuel injected) engines.

Inside the Volkswagen, a Fender premium stereo was on hand as well as sunroof, heated leather buckets, Bluetooth connections, navigation, pushbutton starter and satellite radio.  The theme inside was two-toned black and gray and somewhat kicky.  Styling was great with ten spoke polished alloys and attractive black trim work low on the outside.

Acceleration of the VW was great fun, road manners were on target, and handling/guidance were similar.  It’s a pretty quiet sedan and visibility is fine.  List price was $32,270.00 for the 2016 that I drove and that included freight.  It has a niche market and doesn’t sell over 400,000 per year (in the U.S.!) like the old days, but still has a nice following and a fan in this reviewer.


2016 Scion iA 4-Door FWD Sedan

20151212_092205My most recent road test was of the Scion iA,, the new-for-2015 compact that is essentially a Mazda2 (the Mazda2 is not sold in America).  Scion is the division of Toyota that has marketed affordable smaller cars since 2002 with the goal of selling them to millennials.  The i in its name stands of individualism and the A is emblematic of accommodation, referencing the ample luggage space in the trunk, which is 13.5 cubic feet.  Interior space is 85.9 cubic feet (five people).

I drove my test iA (2016) to Pirate Radio in Greeley, which is 104.7 on the FM dial.  The DJ’s at the Pirate, George Gray and Matt Arguello, looked over the Scion and sat inside for a feel for the car.  Their impression was favorable, and they commented that the vehicle was the least expensive of any offering that I had showed to them.  We talked about the car on “Stu’s Reviews” at 7:30 am on December 11th, and the positive remarks were voiced on-air that morning.

The M.S.R.P. of my Scion was $17,570.00, including freight of $770.00.  Standard equipment on the car included an air conditioner, AM/FM radio with 6 speakers, 7″ audio touchscreen display, tilt/telescope steering column, push button starter, keyless entry, Bluetooth connectivity, backup camera, cruise control, and power windows/locks.  Up front were black cloth bucket seats and the rear 60/40 bench seat folded flat for additional cargo capacity.

I drove the Scion iA for a week and the performance was satisfactory in all respects. The power for the car is supplied by a 4-cylinder, 1.5 liter, dual overhead cam, 16-valve engine.  Horsepower is 106 @ 6,000 rpm and torque rating is 103 lb. ft. @ 4,000 rpm.  EPA ratings have been computed at 42 mpg-highway, 33 mpg-city, and 37 mpg-combined, and my result was 40.6 mpg for the week.  Fuel tank capacity is 11.6 gallons, so range is quite good.  Zero to 60 acceleration for the iA is reportedly between 8 and 9 seconds.

With Mazda putting together the styling of the iA, you can expect a good-looking car, which the iA is.  I have my reservations about the grill, but must say that onlookers at my radio station visit seemed OK with it.  It is not a hatchback, just a conventional sedan with trunk, and looks pretty nice with the Pulse red paint and ten spoke alloy wheels (not plastic hub caps).  The car is 171.1″ long and weighs 2,400 lbs.

The Scion iA is good, basic, inexpensive transportation and I enjoyed having it in my possession for a week.  An entry-level automobile shopper would be doing themselves a favor dropping by the dealership to test drive the iA.


2016 Mazda3 “S” 5-Door Grand Touring Hatchback

20151202_161511The first Mazda3 that could be purchased was the 2004 model, and the 2016 recently was introduced in a third generation configuration.  The Mazda3 was loaned to me for testing recently by Greeley Mazda, and it came in Soul red metallic paint with a black and almond leather interior.

At the same time as the Mazda arrived, the January, 2016 issue of Car and Driver magazine arrived, and in it was the Mazda3 designated as a “10 Best Cars for 2016” selection.  The test car that I received was the top-of-the-line Grand Touring S edition with an M.S.R.P. of $30,270.00.  The base price was $26,495.00, and to it was added several options that totaled $2,955.00, most notable among them being an appearance package for $1,750.00.  In the package was a grouping of spoilers and side sill extenders that actually added nicely to the appearance of the car.

As a Grand Touring Mazda3, my loaner had a moon roof, heated front seats, power driver seat, navigation/rear camera setup with 7” touch screen, 20151202_162227and a Bose 9-speaker surround sound stereo. Additionally, the Mazda was equipped with XM radio, a console-mounted command control for the infotainment system, blind spot monitor, proximity keyless entry, and power windows/locks/outside mirrors. A genuine “hand brake” and push button (plus remote) starter, always positives for me, were on hand in the attractive Mazda interior.  Also, the Grand Touring model features auto on/off bi-xenon adaptive headlights, LED combination taillights, LED daytime running lights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink®, and perforated leather-trimmed seats.

Power for the Mazda3 S is supplied by a 2.5 liter, four-cylinder, 184 horsepower (@ 5,700 rpm), 185 lb. ft. torque rating (@3,250 rpm) engine coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission with floor shift and paddles on the steering column. Reportedly, zero to 60 timing for the 3 is 7.4 seconds.  Fuel economy ratings are 27/city – 37/highway, and 31/combined miles per gallon. Mazda equips this drive train with what is called SkyActiv technology, a combination, among other things, of 13 to 1 compression ratio and direct, multi-hole fuel injectors. Therefore the EPA highway readings are excellent, with my observation coming in at above the 31 mpg combined number.

20151202_162141Styling of the Mazda3 Grand Touring S, introduced in 2014, features a longer hood and elevated trunk lid with aerodynamic spoiler attached. All four windows roll down out of sight, and the windshield has an impressive rake to it. Wheels are ten-spoke dark gray alloys fitted with P215/45R18 all-season radials, and the new grill has a more menacing, blacked-out customized look.  I gave high marks for the ride, handling, and guidance of the car, and adjusting the sound system and navigation is easy with the right hand on the command control arrangement.

The Mazda3’s handling is improved by virtue of the electric-assist power steering, MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension (a rarity in this class). The car is 180.3” in overall length, with a wheelbase of 106.3” and weight of 2,848 lbs. The fuel tank holds 13.2 gallons and the trunk holds 12.4 cubic feet.
I liked the 2016 Mazda3 five-door hatchback, and could anticipate recommending a purchase to a prospective compact hatchback shopper.  And the new Car and Driver magazine editors agree with me.



2016 Scion tC 3-Door Liftback

20151124_161413Scion automobiles are a product of Toyota (the Scion name means descendant of a family or heir), and were developed for the American market starting in 2002.  Last month I tested a Scion tC 3-door lift back that was delivered to me by Rocky Mountain Redline out of Dacono, Colorado.  Originally, the Scion lineup included the xA hatchback and xB wagon, and in 2004 they introduced the compact tC sports coupe like I drove, and the tC is now in its thirteenth year of production.  The paint was Blue Streak metallic blue, with black cloth bucket seats and five passenger seating.  It is an attractive sport coupe with extensive re-styling that took place two years ago.20151123_124926

My test tC had a 106.3” wheelbase and a chassis that was derived from the European-market Avensis sedan as well as the Lexus HS-250h.  Acceleration (0-60 in 7.5 sec.) is provided by the 2.5 liter, 4 cylinder, DOHC, dual variable valve-timed, in-line powerplant.  Horsepower is 179 and the torque comes in at 171 ft.-lbs.  Fuel economy of the tC with the 6-speed manual transmission computes at 23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined, with a 14.5 gallon fuel tank.  The front MacPherson strut and double-wishbone rear suspension gave me a sporty ride and smooth handling, and visibility and road noise are fine for a twenty-thousand dollar automobile.

Speaking of which, M.S.R.P. of the Scion was precisely $20,180.00, including all standard equipment and freight of $795.00.  Standard equipment included a glass tilt/slide moon roof, 8-speaker stereo with Bluetooth connectivity, pushbutton starter, power windows/locks, tilt/telescope steering 20151123_124706column, remote keyless entry, and cruise control.  The glass that runs the entire span of the roof presents a striking appearance, as it is a hatchback design without a package tray in the rear (you can peek in the 14.7 cubic ft. cargo area from outside).

Turning radius on the Scion is 18.7 ft., and the length is 176.6 in., making the handling and parking of this vehicle quite manageable.  Whenever I took the tC around the community, a lot of looks and questions were presented to me because of the car’s top-notch styling.  Males seemed to pay particular attention, which is good for Toyota because they are striving for 60% male purchasers.  The tC features 18-inch ten-spoke alloy wheels surrounded with 225/45R18 Yokohama all season radials.  Looks are enhanced with the bulging rear wheel-wells and the front grill that has a Lexus look to it, and on balance, the car is a solid alternative for the compact sporty car shopper.

2015 Infiniti Q50S 3.7 RWD Sedan

SAM_4142Ruth and I travelled to Alabama in October for the Camping World 500 at Talladega, Alabama, and while there tested a Hagane blue Infiniti Q50S.  Unlike the race, our trip and test ended pleasurably with a drive to Atlanta for the flight to Colorado.  Our stay was on Lake Martin in central Alabama, where in a lakeside cabin Hank Williams wrote “Kaw-Liga” – a reference to a lovesick cigar store wooden Indian – in 1952.  The number was included in Williams’ final recording session, and was placed on the flip side of “Your Cheatin’ Heart”, with both songs reaching Billboard’s number one position.  Hank Williams died January 1st, 1953, at age 29.

20151025_174521We enjoyed going through the Hank Williams museum in Montgomery, Alabama, but also had a good time for the first 500 miles of racing at Talladega on a temperate, overcast Sunday afternoon.  Nascar officials flubbed up the ending of the race, but by that time we had thoroughly enjoyed watching the proceedings and eating Alabama bar-b-que.  It was my third trip to the Talladega race, and the paddock arrangement behind pit road was great – we were there for nine hours.

I have tested several Infinitis in the past, and this one seemed particularly suited to my taste – a high performance luxury Q50S sedan.  Its M.S.R.P. was $47,755.00, including freight, and that price included the following options – navigation package ($1,400.00) and performance wheel package ($1,800.00)  Thus, the car carried a base price of $43,650.00 and freight came in at $905.00.  The interior was sumptuous, and included a suede headliner, semi-aniline leather trim, Bose 14-speaker surround20151029_163210 sound stereo with satellite radio, tilt/telescope, navigation system, backup camera, moon roof, and heated front bucket seats.  The Stone (off-white) upholstery was striking with “Infiniti” stitching in the front buckets and soft double-stitched speedometer/tach hood.

20151023_155757The Q50S is a high performance car, with 328 horsepower and 269 lb. lb. of torque – it is a 3.7 liter V-6 with dual overhead cams.  It’s rear-wheel drive, the preferred architecture for a luxury performance sedan in this category.  The transmission is a seven-speed automatic (like the Infiniti V-8s have) with manual shift mode and paddles.  The driver selects from four driving modes with a console-mounted button – sport, standard, eco, and snow.  The eco mode maximizes fuel economy, and this car’s ratings are 20 city and 29 highway.  I observed 22.8 mpg during the time spent with the Q50S and that matches up with the EPA combined rating of 23.

The Q50S styling features chrome door handles, exhaust tips, and Infiniti signature grill.  The paint was “Hagane” (Japanese for steel) blue metallic, and actually looked best in sunlight.  The 19” alloy (RAYS branded) ten-spoke dark gray forged wheels were surrounded with P245/40R19 (front) and P265/35R19 (rear) summer radials.  Staggered tire sizes – that’s when the car owner knows that he has a performance machine.SAM_4147

The Infiniti was great to have possession of during the week of racing fun.  The Alabama roads are smooth, winding, and secluded in the tall timber.  This reviewer had fun with the Q50S, and it comes with my recommendation.



2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited

20151005_133532The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid has been on sale in America for about four and half years, and shares its drive train and some design elements with the KIA Optima Hybrid.  The two cars combine to occupy second place (in America) in hybrid sales to Toyota’s Prius.  The Hyundai has more conventional styling than a Prius, and in fact is an attractive sedan.  I received one for testing last week; a Starlight Silver unit with a gray leather interior.

The M.S.R.P. for my 2016 test unit was $35,765.00, freight included, and it was the top-of-the-line Limited model.  The options on the loaded Limited were a panoramic sunroof package ($4,500.00), carpeted floor mats ($125.00), and first aid kit/floor mats/wheel locks ($215.00).  Standard equipment on this model included heated front and rear seats, the leather (seating, steering wheel, and shift knob), 400-watt Infinity 8-speaker stereo, backup camera, navigation with 8” screen, power driver’s seat and eco-spoke alloy wheels.  Also on hand was tilt/telescope steering column, satellite radio, radar cruise control, power windows/locks/mirrors, pushbutton starter, keyless entry, Bluetooth/USB connectivity, navigation system, blind spot monitor, and heated mirrors with lighted signal stripes.

20151008_074546The hybrid power setup in the Sonata starts with a 2.0 liter, four cylinder gas engine and adds a permanent-magnet AC electric motor (total system power is 193 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm).  The car accelerates from zero to 60 in 8.4 seconds.  A six speed automatic transmission with a manual mode delivers power to the front wheel drive sedan.  EPA mileage ratings for the Sonata are 39 city/43 highway, 41 overall, and the fuel tank holds 15.85 gallons of regular gasoline.

As I mentioned, the Limited Hyundai is rather good-looking, with bold chrome strips on all four sides, chrome door handles, racy lighting on all corners, and two-toned “eco-spoke” gray alloy 17” wheels fitted with P215/55R17  Kumho Solus KH25 all season radials.  The Starlight Silver paint had some metallic in the finish, and the panoramic sun roof was evident from outside the car.

I spent a lot of time driving the Sonata around northern Colorado, and the ride was great.  Wind noise was minimal, and passing and accelerating from a light was a snap.  One thing that was quite balky was the gas gauge, which barely moved in a downward direction.

Weight of the Sonata is 3,560 lbs., not much for a hybrid.  The company uses a 270 volt lithium-polymer battery pack (warrantied for life), something normally found employed in a plug-in vehicle.  Thus, it is in the trunk, yet the trunk holds 13.3 cubic feet of luggage.  Wheelbase of the car is 110.4”, length is 191.1”, width is 73.4”, and the height is 57.9”.  With the battery in the trunk, the passenger volume is maintained at 106.1 cubic feet, like the Hyundai gas-powered sedan.

At the asking price of $35,765.00, I feel the Sonata Hybrid deserves a hard look from a perspective hybrid car shopper.  It’s attractive, roomy, fuel efficient, and well-appointed.

2015 Chrysler 300S AWD Sedan

20150907_063728The Chrysler 300S, a full-size luxury offering from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, was introduced in early 2011 at the New York International Auto Show as a second-generation iteration.

The updated 2015 300 represents a nice improvement over its predecessor in terms of styling and technology.  The car is 198.6” long, weighs 4,029 lbs., and is intended to compete with popular cars like Chevrolet’s Impala, Toyota’s Avalon, and Ford’s Taurus.

I recently tested a 300S “Sport” model with Jazz Blue pearl coat paint and black leather bolstered seating.  The “S” is third from the top in the line of 300’s, and this particular model had all-wheel drive.  Power was supplied by a 3.6 liter V-6 coupled with Chrysler’s proprietary 8-speed transmission.  The car exuded a throaty exhaust note and reportedly, the acceleration is zero to sixty in under six seconds.

Relative to its technology, the 300S that I tested had the navigation and BeatsAudio sound group, including a programmable driver dash cluster and 8.4” touchscreen display in the center stack. Chrysler calls its infotainment system UConnect, and with it the driver can command by voice the navigation route request, radio settings, text message(s), telephone calls, and recorded voice memos.  Hands-free responses to incoming text messages can be pre-defined by the driver (perhaps “I’m on my way.”), and the smart system technology can be trained to better recognize the driver’s voice in three languages, if desired.  Chrysler likes to say that their UConnect system takes non-distracted driving very seriously.SAM_0769

Driving the 300S was pleasurable, with handling, ride, road noise and guidance all impressive.  A blind spot monitor, cross path detection, and backup camera system all made driving easier, as did the comfort group with its heated steering wheel and seats.  A rotary E-shift gear selector was nice, and it’s something that I have come to look forward to when I encounter it in the test cars that I analyze.

Chrysler has a hit on its hands with the 300 series sedan, have sold more than 53,000 in 2014.  I can see why it is so popular, and really enjoyed my week driving the “S” model.

2015 Chrysler 300S specs

MSRP: $39,560.00, including freight and; customer preferred package -UConnect 8.4” screen, navigation, and HD radio ($995.00).

Power: 3.6 liter (217 c.i.d.) V-6 with 300 horsepower and 264 lb. ft. of torque. 8-speed automatic transmission with E-shift plus steering wheel paddles.  All-wheel drive.

Capacities: Fuel 18.5 gallons, cargo 16.3 cu. ft., passengers 5

EPA ratings: 18 mpg-city, 27 mpg-highway, 21 mpg-combined

2015 Infiniti Q70L 3.7 Sedan


Infiniti is the luxury automobile division of Nissan Motor Company, and has been selling cars and light trucks in North America since 1989.  The history of the company goes all the way back to 1914, when the first “Datsun” was produced in Tokyo.  The Datsun name was subsequently changed to “Nissan”, and the company sells over 5 million vehicles each year, worldwide. The Infiniti models were rolled out concurrently with Honda’s Acura and Toyota’s Lexus lineup;  Japanese government-imposed export restraints at that time made it more profitable for auto manufacturers to send us more expensive cars.

Although at the turn of the century Infiniti nearly became extinct, the lineup has been rejuvenated and today their cars are highly thought of, one of the models SAM_4111being the 2015 Q70L, a high performance, rear-wheel drive four door sedan with V-6 power.  A Liquid Platinum silver Q70L was waiting for Ruth and I at Chicago’s O’Hare International airport recently and I had the pleasure of wringing it out for a few days in western Illinois.  Inside it had sumptuous Graphite leather seating and Japanese white ash (real) wood trim accents.  It’s a five passenger car with terrific (heated and air conditioned) bucket seats and room for three in the back – heated seating, as well.  All the occupants can be comfortable because as an “L” offering, the car has 6″ additional interior space, specifically in the rear passenger compartment.  As a loaded car it contains the things you would expect as such; heated/tilting/telescoping steering wheel, ten way power buckets, all-around parking/blind spot monitor, power moon roof, push button ignition, dual zone climate setup, Bose 2-channel, 10 speaker audio, 8” VGA color touch-screen navigation display, radar cruise control, and USB/Ipod connections.   M.S.R.P. for the Q70L that I drove was $60,605.00, which included the base car ($51,350.00), deluxe touring package ($3,900.00), technology package ($3,300.00) 20” alloy wheel package ($1,150.00), and freight of $905.00. 20150724_192608

20150727_061626 After looking over the Q70L at the airport, my wife and I headed for Galena, Illinois for the weekend.  I wanted to take U.S. 20 to check out the 330 horsepower (270 lb.ft. of torque) V-6 and seven speed automatic with manual shift mode. What a ride!  This machine has some giddyup and is a treat out on the road.  Also, when crossing rails or tar strips the car feels like a block of steel – no shudder, creaking, or shake.  Zero to 60  time is six seconds (3,957 lb. car) and the top speed, reportedly, is governor limited at about 135 mph.  Fuel mileage estimates are 18/city and 26/highway (20 gallon tank), and I averaged about 21 mpg running around northwestern Illinois.  Handling and ride are firm and compliant with real nice steering feel.  Bridgestone RE97as Potenza 245/40R20 radials are wrapped around the ten spoke polished alloys and chrome is on hand both at the lower rocker molding area and on the door handles.  It’s a good looking car.

Once again, I have fallen in love with a car and have failed to register a complaint in the review.  So before I let the big Q go, I’ll mention that the ample space in the rear passenger compartment was so enticing to my mother-in-law that it became necessary to ride all over the countryside with her on board.



2015 Lexus RC-F RWD 2-Door Coupe

20150608_185153In late 2014, Lexus brought out their high-performance version of the RC Coupe, the RC-F, as a 2015 model offering.  The RC-300h and RC-350, the original V-6 coupes, were upgraded to a V-8 in this new car, a 5.0 liter, 90 degree, four-cam power plant.  The RC-F is essentially a blend of three prior Lexus models – GS and IS sedans and the IS-C convertible.  What the amalgamation resulted in was what I called a “supercar” all week long during my testing of the RC-F.

In a pleasant turn of events, on several occasions nearby motorists, upon blowing their horn, were seen giving me and Ruth a “thumbs up”, as opposed to the customary shaking fist.  They must have agreed with me as far as the “supercar” characterization goes, and admittedly the Infrared paint and terrific styling makes getting around in obscurity quite difficult.  Lexus likes to say “you’ll turn heads” with the RC-F, and indeed we did.

M.S.R.P. of my test Lexus came in at a total of $74,560.00, including freight.  The base price ($62,400.00) had as options the following: 19″ hand polished alloy wheels ($1,500.00), leather interior ($800.00), navigation package ($2,840.00), the paint ($595.00), premium package ($4,400.00), and moonroof ($1,100.00).  Thus the four passenger RC-F was equipped with pretty much every imaginable interior amenity including the Mark Levinson rock-crushing, 835-watt, 17-speaker surround sound audio system.


The RC-F has a fairly smooth drag coefficient of .33, and reportedly has a top speed of 168 mph.  On the dashboard is situated a tennis-ball sized, 200 mpg speedometer and a rather large 9,000 rpm tachometer.  A rating of 467 horsepower from the throaty V-8 is at an impressive 7,100 rpm, and the torque rating is 389 lb. ft. at 4,800 rpm.   Four driving modes are available on the console-mounted knob of this car –  Sport S mode alters the powertrain for more dynamic throttle response, Sport S+ mode adds steering enhancements to help provide a higher level of responsiveness, normal mode provides the optimal balance of fuel efficiency and engine performance, and ECO mode moderates the throttle response, engine power output and climate settings for increased fuel efficiency.  My favorite was, of course, the Sport S+ mode, and even Ruth urged me to make the selection when we rode around together.  Part of the reason for our desire to drive in that mode was the active sound control that Lexus installs – at engine speeds up to 3,000 rpm, the system issues a steady tone of low and deep sounds.  And as the engine speed increases, the tone transforms into a higher-pitched note that blends with the engine’s mechanical sounds, and it really honks above 6,000 rpm.20150611_05594520150614_090048

The RC-F transmission is an eight-speed sport direct shift automatic that is smooth operating in normal and Eco modes, and more abrupt in the two sport modes.  Paddle shifters are on hand and the two-door coupe has rear wheel drive with a Torsen limited-slip differential.  Zero to sixty acceleration is reportedly 4.5 seconds. Wheelbase of the RC-F is 107.5″, overall length is 185.2″, the trunk holds 10.1 cubic feet of luggage, and the weight is 3,958 lbs.  It is the same size as Ford’s Mustang and about 200 lbs. heavier.20150614_090119

I averaged 20.3 miles per gallon with the Lexus, and provided it with its called-for premium gasoline.  The tank holds 17.4 gallons, and the EPA ratings are 16-city, 25-highway, and 19-combined miles per gallon.  Purchasers of the Lexus RC-F don’t care about the information in this paragraph, but do care about the rocket-ship performance and dynamite styling of it.  This reviewer could recommend a long look at the RC-F if that is the twin desires of their purchase.   20150611_060048





2015 Subaru BRZ Series.Blue RWD

SAM_4073Subaru and Toyota joined forces a few years ago to produce a rear-wheel drive sports car and in 2013 they introduced what Subaru named the BRZ.  Subaru provided the engine for the unit and even landed the job of producing the car for both companies.  The Subaru name (BRZ) denotes boxer engine (B), rear-wheel drive (R), and Zenith (Z), which means a point in time when something is most powerful and successful.  Toyota put out their sports car with a Scion nameplate and named it the FR-S.

I found a 2015 BRZ Series.Blue in my driveway last week courtesy of Rocky Mountain Redline, and the driver came to the door with the keys.  Actually, I didn’t need the keys in my hand when I left the neighborhood because the Subaru has “keyless access and start”, allowing you to enter and drive with the keys in your pocket.  This BRZ had the big red “STI” starter button because of its designation as a Series.Blue, a limited production model (limit, 1,000), with a lot of other special equipment on hand, as well.SAM_4065

Subaru has built 500 of these WR Blue Pearl metallic BRZ’s (they are done), and 500 Crystal White Pearl ones.  All of them have as upgrades the following items:      black STI front, side, and side-rear under spoilers for keeping the BRZ well-grounded at high speeds, red-finish brake calipers that can be seen between the spokes of the wheels, special 15-spoke black painted STI wheels, and the special red illuminated engine start/stop button.  Also, the car sports leather and Alcantara upholstery featuring blue leather seat bolsters and head restraints. The unique color continues with Blue stitching accents on the seats and the blue and black leather-wrapped steering wheel, as well as the shift lever boot and leather-wrapped parking brake handle.

Interior appointments of the Subaru included audio/navigation system, cruise control, heated front seats and mirrors, power windows, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and AM/FM/XM/CD radio.  Ruth and I drove to Denver and back in the car and the seats did not annoy, the guidance on the highway was great, and road noise was suitable for such a car.SAM_4064

The BRZ, trimmed-out as nicely as it was, still shines brightest on the road.  It is powered by a 2.0 liter, four cylinder boxer aluminum engine that provides 200 horsepower (@ 7,000 rpm) and 151 lb.-ft. of torque (@ 6,400 rpm).  The punch-counterpunch action of the boxer pistons in the Subaru cancel each other out and provide a smooth delivery of power.  Also, the horizontally opposed engine results in a lower center of gravity in the vehicle (18”), aiding the handling and cornering characteristics.  Porsche and Subaru are pretty much it when it comes to boxer automobile engines, and the design is found in some BMW and Honda motorcycles.  The motor was patented by Germany’s Karl Benz in 1896.  Fuel economy ratings on the BRZ are 22-city, 30-highway, and 25-combined miles per gallon.  The car burns premium unleaded gasoline, and the tank holds 13.2 gallons.SAM_4078

My test BRZ had a six-speed manual transmission, and what a pleasure it was to operate with a snick-snick short-throw shifter/linkage setup.  A sport-tuned suspension is installed along with a Torsen limited-slip rear differential and 4-wheel disc (11.5″) brakes.  Reportedly, the 2,800 lb. BRZ travels from zero to 60 in SAM_40636.4 seconds.  The black wheels are 17″ in diameter and are fitted with P215/45R17 Michelin Primacy HP summer radials.

M.S.R.P. for the Subaru was based at $27,695.00.  Freight and the Series.Blue package ($1,795.00) brought the total to $30,285.00.  Shoppers looking for a 2 + 2 sports car for around $30,000 with terrific styling and performance would be well-advised to look at the 2015 Subaru BRZ Series.Blue, if they can find one.