Sport Coupe Comparison: War of the Sports Car Worlds

Sport Coupe Comparison: War of the Sports Car Worlds
Sport Coupe Comparison - 2010 Lotus Evora, 2011 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, 2009 Porsche 911 Carrera S, 2011 Nissan GTR - Automobile Magazine
The United States, Japan, Germany, and Great Britain may play nice with each other when it comes to diplomacy and economics, but in the sports car arena, it’s an all-out war.

Once upon a time, before globalism became a favorite buzzword, cars really said something about the countries that produced them. The frugality and reliability of a Honda subcompact spoke to the ingenuity and determination of post-war Japan. The power and size of a tail-finned Cadillac convertible embodied American swagger. And so on. The automobile used to be as much an expression of culture as a country’s art or food.

Photo Gallery: Sport Coupe Comparison – 2010 Lotus Evora, 2011 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, 2009 Porsche 911 Carrera S, 2011 Nissan GTR – Automobile Magazine

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2010 Aston Martin Rapide

2010 Aston Martin Rapide
2010 Aston Martin Rapide - Editor's Notebook - Automobile Magazine
There is no argument that this is the most fetching four-door on the planet.

The Aston Martin Rapide will instantly draw comparisons to the Porsche Panamera Turbo sedan, but these two are as different as asparagus and ice cream. Even though the automakers tell us that the Panamera is only 44 pounds heavier, the Aston feels so much lighter. The Aston delivers excellent steering and sharp turn-in for a sense of compact agility that can lead you to quickly forget that there are two doors behind you. The V-12 experience lives up to its 470-hp output, but Aston’s been a bit too conservative with the exhaust tuning. The six-speed automated manual in the Rapide also isn’t as refined as the seven-speed dual-clutch in the Panamera, particularly when it comes to low-speed driving.

Photo Gallery: 2010 Aston Martin Rapide – Editor’s Notebook – Automobile Magazine

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2010 Acura ZDX – Four Seasons Introduction

2010 Acura ZDX – Four Seasons Introduction
2010 Acura ZDX - Four Seasons Long Term Review, August 2010 - Automobile Magazine
Banging its head against a glass ceiling.

As Acura approaches its twenty-fifth year of existence, it finds itself looking up at a glass ceiling. The brand has grown well beyond its “Honda plus” roots, and yet it still trails competitors such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Lexus in both sales and prestige.

Photo Gallery: 2010 Acura ZDX – Four Seasons Long Term Review, August 2010 – Automobile Magazine

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2010 BMW 335i Coupe

2010 BMW 335i Coupe
2010 BMW 335i Coupe - Editor's Notebook - Automobile Magazine
This is about as close to driving nirvana as semi-affordable cars venture.

This is about as close to driving nirvana as semi-affordable cars venture. The powertrain, chassis, and operator interfaces are honed to near perfection. The 2+2 accommodations are functionally useful, the trunk is amply sized and well proportioned. Searching diligently, I did find a trivial flaw: the left-front floor mat that had torn free of its attachments to foul the clutch pedal at the bottom of its travel. As a service to my fellow critics, I repaired that fault with an expeditious driveway correction. Nevertheless, as much as I respect this and most other BMWs, I’d give serious thought to Cadillac’s new CTS coupe before I spent $40,000 for a 335i.

Photo Gallery: 2010 BMW 335i Coupe – Editor’s Notebook – Automobile Magazine

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2010 Mazda3 S Sport 5-Door – Four Seasons Update – June 2010

2010 Mazda3 S Sport 5-Door – Four Seasons Update – June 2010
2010 Mazda3 S Sport 5-Door - Four Seasons Update - June 2010 - Automobile Magazine
During its twelve months with us, the Mazda 3 has shown faultless reliability and has aged gracefully.

As our Four Seasons Mazda 3 prepares to pull out of our garage one last time, the odometer has rolled over the 26,000-mile mark. During its twelve months with us, the Mazda 3 has shown faultless reliability and has aged gracefully. Other than regular maintenance stops at 7500-mile intervals, our red Mazda was always ready to go.

Photo Gallery: 2010 Mazda3 S Sport 5-Door – Four Seasons Update – June 2010 – Automobile Magazine

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Driven: 2011 Mazda2

Driven: 2011 Mazda2
Driven: 2011 Mazda2 - Automobile Magazine
Meet the Fiesta’s Older Sibling

If you have a pulse and access to the Internet these days (the latter doesn’t always require the former), you’ve probably been exposed quite a bit to the Ford Fiesta. The little Ford has been all over Youtube, Twitter, and (shameless plug alert) our own web site. But the Fiesta isn’t the only hot subcompact launching this summer. No, we’re also being introduced to its cute older sibling, the Mazda 2. Back in 2007, Mazda introduced its slick-looking, youth-friendly hatchback on the same B-segment platform that would spawn the Fiesta. It proved a huge hit in Europe, surpassing 100,000 sales in its first year on the market, and was named World Car of the Year for 2008. We liked it enough to conduct a rare European Four Seasons test on one, and called it a “great car for tough times.” But until recently, there were no plans for the car to make it to our market, despite the steadily growing demand for budget-friendly subcompacts. Now Mazda, all but cut off from its sugar daddy in Dearborn (Ford still retains an 13.8 percent share), has decided to crash the Fiesta’s party by launching the 2 here this summer.

Photo Gallery: Driven: 2011 Mazda2 – Automobile Magazine

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2011 Kia Sportage

2011 Kia Sportage
2011 Kia Sportage - Automobile Magazine
Putting the Sport back in Sport Utility.

Image is everything. Fifteen years ago, the Sportage was one of the first products imported to the U.S. by a relatively unknown Korean automaker. That five-door cute-ute not only launched the Kia brand but helped establish it as a manufacturer of basic, affordable transportation.

Photo Gallery: 2011 Kia Sportage – Automobile Magazine

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2011 Honda Pilot Touring

2011 Honda Pilot Touring
2011 Honda Pilot Touring - Automobile Magazine
Pilot has become one of the most sought after vehicles in the suburbs.

The Honda Pilot is one of those vehicles that you know are popular but that you never really notice. Its mission is one of practicality, not flashiness, and as such it’s been very successful for Honda. (In fact, in the month of May, the Pilot outsold the entire Acura division.) Its boxy exterior is anything but eye-catching, and its interior is pleasant but not overly fussy and is filled with lots of useful storage bins. There are other vehicles in this segment – such as the Mazda CX-9 — that are more attractively styled and are more powerful, but the Pilot manages to outsell the CX-9 more than four to one. The Pilot capitalizes on its reputation for reliability, on the cachet of the Honda name, and, most important, on the fact that it is a very usable vehicle that makes sense for lots of consumers.
Amy Skogstrom

Photo Gallery: 2011 Honda Pilot Touring – Automobile Magazine

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2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost

2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost
2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost - Editor's Notebook - Automobile Magazine
The quickest model on the Rolls menu impresses with its effortless speed and amazing grace.

The Rolls-Royce Ghost is a driver’s car. You know, the type of driver who is paid to wear a suit, always be early, and smile even on his worst of days. As such, the ride is so supple that you might imagine the massive twenty-inch wheels dancing around potholes rather than just soaking up the impacts. The twin-turbocharged V-12’s 563 hp and 575 lb-ft of torque are massaged for gentle yet firm delivery through the eight-speed automatic. The engine never feels aggressive, yet there’s always jet-like thrust at the ready.

Photo Gallery: 2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost – Editor’s Notebook – Automobile Magazine

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