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Tested: 2014 Corvette Stingray Z51 Convertible

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I can say with all honesty that I’ve never been a huge Corvette fan. I know that’s heresy coming from a so-called “car guy”, but I’ll endure the fallout. Save for the C4-generation ZR-1, there’s been not a single one that has aroused my passion. Every generation has had its foibles and fame, but for me the Corvette as a brand only truly crystalized when I witnessed the C7 rolling across Chevy’s debut stage at last year’s Detroit show. Here was a car that not only looked fantastic on the outside, but finally had an interior to match. As ever, powertrain and chassis accommodations were not found to be lacking – 460 horsepower and a torque figure to match in a car weighing less than 3,500 pounds are enough to set any driver’s loins afire. Quality on preproduction show cars is hard to judge, though, so I waited until I had a real life example to see if my initial excitement was justified.

Turns out, it was.

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New car review: 2015 Audi A3 Sedan

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In a car industry flush with new luxury categories, the one that seems to present the most room for growth is the one at the small end of the spectrum – the “Premium A-segment”, filled with cars like the A3 seen here, the Mercedes-Benz CLA, and the BMW 1-/2-series. Audi of America’s President, Scott Keogh, told the group of journalists gathered in northern California for the press introduction of the A3 1.8 and 2.0T sedans that he saw 400% growth potential in the segment over the next few years. That’s serious headroom, and if these first new A3 models to hit our shores are any indication, a place where torrid competition will be taking place among manufacturers.

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Driven: 2015 Subaru WRX Limited CVT

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Few cars these days, even the fun ones, wear their hearts on their sleeves quite as triumphantly as the Subaru WRX. To wit – the ride on our World Rally Blue Pearl example is starched to such an extent that few beverage sips will go without spillage. Why? All the better to flatten out body roll, thereby imparting such immediate turn-in (aided by a new, quicker electric steering rack) that a few extra jostles are a small price to pay for handling precision, Subaru figures.

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Driven: 2014 VW Tiguan SE

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VW’s first major foray into the US’s highly competitive (and highly important) small SUV marketplace was with the Tiguan back in 2008. The SE model pictured here is now six model years old, but largely unchanged. Has the Tiguan blossomed for the brand, or been left to wither on the vine?

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Driven: 2014 BMW 640i xDrive Convertible

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We’ve all experienced relationships in life that despite our best intentions, are based largely on physical attraction. There’s usually an angel on our shoulder the whole time, suggesting we seek a partnership more stable, more collaborative, and more psychologically sound – but despite all that, the attraction remains. Sure, there are safer options – a partner that’s not interested in shouting your baser instincts to the world. But those certainly aren’t as fun. The BMW 6 series is that temptress we should all know better than to tango with; but then, the heart wants what it wants.

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Driven: 2014 Lexus LX570

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It’s not often I find myself daydreaming of rising to political prominence in a third-world banana republic somewhere; in fact, that’s never run through my mind. But after a few days of rolling around in a Lexus LX570 (aka the “Lexus Land Cruiser”), mindsets tend to change.

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Driven: 2014 Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet

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As an enormous fan of the original 2010 W212 generation E-class, I was more than a little worried when the introduction of a 2014 facelift was first announced during last year’s Detroit auto show. After all, the W212 was considered, by many in addition to me, to be perhaps the best-looking Benz sedan of the modern era. Why mess with success? As it turns out, I needn’t have worried. Because while the rectangular quad headlights and the sedan’s throwback ponton-style rear fender flares are now gone, an extremely cohesive and simply handsome car remains in place.

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Driven: 2014 Chevy Silverado 1500 LTZ 4WD

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The current truck market is hot – the combined competence of my recent spate of pickup loaners can attest to that. You can also tell from the significant efforts (and development dollars) truck makers have been throwing at these “cash cows” over just the last year. The GM twins, the Chevy version of which you see before you, were brand new for 2014. Ford recently introduced an all-new 2015 F-series at the Detroit show, photos of which can be seen further down our front page. The RAM models received a light freshening, and a six-cylinder diesel was introduced for the light-duty 1500 model – a combination capable of achieving 28 mpg on the highway, a feat considered decent even by small sedan standards not so long ago. The Toyota Tundra, which I sampled a few months ago, also benefited from a significant revamp for 2014, and to take on the stalwart Tacoma ‘tweener, GM is bringing the like-sized Colorado and Canyon twins back from the dead for 2015. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to see that the pickup market is back with a vengeance, and there’s plenty of room for manufacturers to line their shareholders’ pockets. Nothing wrong with that.

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Wagon Love: 2014 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited vs. Impreza 2.0i Sport Limited

 

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 Top: Impreza Sport; Bottom: Outback 

After receiving two Subaru loaners within three weeks, I felt it prudent to do a little comparison and contrast between the two most typifying members of the Subaru brand’s persona – practical, sensible all-wheel-drive station wagons.

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2014 North American International Auto Show: My Top Five of the Show

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Article Photos by John Kucek, Gallery Photos by Zerin Dube

As usual, 2014’s Detroit show was full of both winners and losers, good press conferences and bad, but the overwhelming theme was one of moderation – perhaps not in the sense of design, but in purpose and presentation. The show’s most important vehicle by far, the 2015 F-Series, was introduced with a whimper rather than a bang, eclipsed by the Atlas concept truck’s flashy debut in 2013. Likewise the Corvette Z06, which perhaps suffered most from feeling rather familiar after the C7 Stingray’s blockbuster intro last year. Thus, neither made my top five list of introductions at this year’s NAIAS. Nor, sadly, did anything from VW or Audi – despite strong showings from new production models (the new GTI and Golf R are both really sharp looking, and who in their right mind would badmouth a new S8?), their concepts fell flat. The TT in drag Allroad Shooting Brake concept wasn’t bad, but perhaps presages a new TT that is a little more derivative than we were all hoping for. And the Beetle Dune was exactly what it sounded like – a jacked up Beetle – thus failing to stir my soul.

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