Driven: 2015 Ford F-150

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Ford’s new aluminum-bodied wonder was met with equal parts optimism and skepticism when it was introduced at last year’s Detroit show, a roll of the full-size dice not seen in the pickup segment in some time. So far, the gamble appears to be paying off: F-series sales have remained very strong against the competition, and last month’s numbers represented the best March for the pickup in nine years, despite production limitations. The F-150 has been a long-time class stalwart, though – we’re more interested in whether there’s real substance under the creased alloy skin.

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Driven: 2015 Audi S3

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We were summarily impressed with the A3 sedan when we attended its press introduction in San Francisco a year ago. Since then, Audi dealers have had trouble keeping the little sedan on their lots as demand for the entry-entry-luxury segment ramps up. In order to broaden the A3 line, as well as go head-to-head with other small, high-performance German offerings such as the BMW M235i and Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG, Audi rolled out the S3 sedan – a more heavily pressurized and tightly suspended version of the previous 2.0 TFSI range-topper. So is this simply a Golf R in evening wear, or a legitimate successor to the performance Quattro throne? Read on to find out.

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Racer Boy: Optima Search for the Ultimate Street Car – Run What You Brung

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Photos by Saroja Raman

So you finally got yourself a little hot rod in your driveway and you have been telling everyone who will listen to you in any random Starbucks parking lot that your car is fast. You quote the zero-to-sixty times from statistics which you memorized from the internet and just like Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon, you’ve “made a few modifications” yourself to improve the car’s performance. You know deep down in your hot rodder heart that if you were given the opportunity to compete with your machine of speed you would crush all of the other fools on your favorite car forum. The Optima Search for the Ultimate Street Car is just the place for a guy like you with a fast street car to show those bench racing keyboard jockeys that your car is truly legit!

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Speed Read: 2015 Nissan Juke NISMO RS

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I generally liked the Juke NISMO when I drove it two years ago. I found it to be a plucky, and quirky, entry into a field of vehicles that are by definition fairly quirky – namely city cars like the Fiat 500, Mini Cooper and Hyundai Veloster. Though not quite up to the task of taking on high-performance hot hatches such as the Ford Focus ST or Volkswagen GTI, it does strike a unique balance as a pseudo-crossover/warm hatch. Last year, Nissan upped the ante with an RS version, bringing in more power and a sharper chassis but keeping the same pumped-up puffer fish looks and aero additions from the regular NISMO model.

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Driven: 2015 Chevy Colorado Z71

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When Chevy announced that it would bring a version of the “rest-of-world” Colorado midsize pickup to the US market in 2013, it was a move that could be labelled as either foolhardy or a no-brainer. On the foolhardy end of the scale, how would Chevrolet (and GMC) take on the juggernaut Toyota Tacoma, which has dominated the compact and midsize pickup segment so completely that all other players vacated the field long ago, save the Nissan Frontier, which soldiers on propelled only by its maker’s pride. On the other hand, the tooling for the Colorado was already done, more or less; this vehicle has been built and sold in Asia and South America for the last three years. Why not refresh it for the North American market, up the feature content, and do battle with the likes of Toyota? GM obviously went with the latter decision, and the truck that resulted is pictured here.

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