Friends, let me tell you about the promised land, because I’ve been there. The rental car promised land, that is. Imagine gleaming rows of current year luxury models and sports cars, from Mercedes E550s to BMW 335is to Toyota GT86s, even the occasional premium model like an M3 or 911. Impossible, short of a fly-by-night Las Vegas exotic rental outfit, right? Nay. The promised land exists, and perhaps unsurprisingly to most car enthusiasts, it’s in Germany. Germany, the land of greatness and the home of Mietwagen Kreta where I rented this beast for the week!
Author - John Kucek
If there’s one criticism that’s been consistently levelled at the pretty Audi 2+2 known as the TT, it’s that its genetic lineage isn’t as honed as that of its similarly priced competition. While that may sound harsh, or perhaps even a bit elitist, it’s true: the TT’s underpinnings are essentially shared with that of the humble VW Golf. A great econobox in its own right, but an econobox nonetheless. So how did that affect my enjoyment of the TTS pictured here?
I consider myself lucky to have driven a number of high-dollar sports cars during my relatively short time on this rock. I don’t say this to brag, even humbly, but merely to frame the forthcoming review as one hopefully grounded in reality. And when I say “high dollar”, I mean those in the $60,000 to $100,000 range. Which is certainly high dollar to me, and at two to three times the average new car transaction price, for most of the buying public, as well. But in the sports car world, it’s merely mid-range. Deep into six-figure territory (and beyond) lies nearly the entire Porsche 911 range, plus the McLarens, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis that are the stuff of car guy dreams. But there’s still a lot to be had in this middle ground of the merely expensive – witness the Corvette, M3/M4, Z4, Boxster/Cayman, Jaguar F-Type and Audi TTS (which I’ll be reviewing in a couple of weeks). And of course, the SLC43 seen here.
You’ve got to give it to Fiat – it takes chutzpah to take on the entry-level sports car segment, one fraught with dwindling historical sales and fickle buyers that tend to chase the latest shiny new metal. Perhaps it was this bleak category outlook that prompted them to reach out to Mazda with a partnership idea. The 124 Spider that you see before you is the product that resulted, and it’s quite special.
The Wrangler, in a world chock-a-block with homogenized product offerings, still stands out as one of those love-it-or-hate-it affairs. The hokey slogan “It’s a Jeep thing, you wouldn’t understand”, so commonly emblazoned across the windshields of these trucks, actually rings true when you’re behind the wheel. The driving experience that at first seems so appallingly outdated really does grow on you as the miles go by; it becomes quaint, even endearing. My first full week with a Wrangler left me with pangs of despair when the keys were taken away. But that was a hardcore Rubicon – would the tamer Sahara elicit the same feelings?
Though the current-generation Durango has made multiple appearances at the Speed/Sport/Life Florida offices (aka my driveway), it’s still a welcome visitor. Why’s that? Well, to start, name another rear-wheel drive, V8-equipped, three-row crossover attainable by most middle-class families. Go ahead – I’ll give you a sec.