Category - Speed:Sport:Life Original Content

Driven: 2015 BMW Z4

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Enthusiasts have long bemoaned the wider automotive market’s taste shift away from sports cars toward SUVs and crossovers as the most coveted vehicular status symbol. BMW, while well-positioned to capitalize on this trend with its broad range of sometimes line-blurring crossovers, has nevertheless felt the sales hit to its Z4 roadster line in the last few years. While I firmly count myself among the “enthusiast” camp, I realize that as much as I may try, my tastes will never mirror the wider car shopping public’s at this point. When I recently spent a week with BMW’s sole remaining two-seater, I tried to curb my enthusiasm (so to speak) and view its relevance through the lens of the typical new car shopper – one who may typically fall for a new BMW with an “X” prefix in its name rather than a “Z”.

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Driven: 2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost

The Mustang has long been Ford’s bread-and-butter performance car, the granddaddy of the pony car segment, object of desire for administrative assistants and mulleted gentlemen alike (depending on engine choice). OK, that last shot might be a bit unfair. Even this article’s distinguished author, widely known for his discerning taste, once succumbed to the Mustang’s blue-collar charms. In a moment of fitful lust I bought a brand new 2011 GT Coupe, a five-liter in screaming yellow, equipped with the Brembo brake package and a manual transmission – as it should be. That was a fantastic car, loaded with character if a bit rough around the edges, but its charm wore off quickly for me and I retreated to the import brand camp I knew and loved after 10 short months with it. Perhaps this new EcoBoost model will be able to change the minds of even the most hardened import fans like me?

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Racer Boy: Run a Hillclimb… and Cheat Death

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It is one of the oldest organized motorsports events around: Hillclimb. The premise is extremely simple: one car, one windy road, fastest time to the top wins. The two things that get one car to the top faster than the others: horsepower and guts. The extreme elevation change requires lots of horsepower while the trees, rocks, and cliffs you narrowly miss as you race up the mountain require lots of bravery and guts. It also helps to be a bit delusional. Just keep telling yourself, “I won’t be the one who totals my car while falling down the mountain.”

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Driven: 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

I was a pretty big supporter of the original Sonata Hybrid, mostly because in practice, it didn’t really drive like a stereotypical hybrid. It had enough power to get out of its own way, it had the silhouette of a normal sedan, and its six-speed automatic avoided any hint of CVT droniness. Hyundai’s now wrapped the Hybrid in the same new-for-2015 duds worn by its regular Sonata sedan stablemate, but they’ve also made a few worthwhile improvements under the skin in the name of fuel efficiency.

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