Category - Speed Reads

May/June preview: SSL hits the road and track.

SSL and TTAC will be at Summit Point Motorsports Park this weekend with a Lexus IS-F and an Ford Mustang V6 Allstate Edition. Look for some track test results in the coming weeks, along with a road test of the slightly warmed over 2011 Nissan 370Z, a look at Chrysler’s refreshed Jeep Wrangler, and some comparison tests featuring the latest cross-overs from Ford and Chrysler.

Happy spring, everybody.

Speed Read: 2011 Nissan Maxima

Stock photos courtesy of Nissan USA

Nissan’s “Four-Door Sports Car” has come a long way from its humble midsize roots. It has been, at various times in its life, a great driver’s alternative to the typical family car, the single most noteworthy car in an otherwise-iffy lineup, and, for a brief time recently, something quite vanilla and unremarkable. Today, the Maxima seems to be back on track, and while it may be Nissan’s attempt to take back the 4DSC tagline, that’s really not what I found so appealing about it. If after reading this article you think that this is the next car for you, be sure to visit your local Nissan Dealer to organise a test drive!

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S:S:L Salutes David E. Davis, Jr.

When the initial rumors of David E. Davis, Jr.’s passing crept up Sunday, I remarked to some colleagues that the inevitable onslaught of Car and Driver nostalgia commentary wouldn’t be far behind. But instead of a long-winded, reflective piece detailing DEDJr.’s career, we’re simply going to take the next few days to revisit some stories that we think Mr. Davis would have appreciated. Godspeed, David. Wherever you are, I’m sure there are no boring cars.

Previous days’ “best of” pieces:

Monday: Over the river and through the cones: The 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour
Tuesday, part one: Supercar Saturday Part One: Running the R8 and Viper against the clock at MSR Houston
Tuesday, part two: Part Two: Supercar Saturday Part Two: Taking it to, um, the streets.
Wednesday: Imaginary Internet Millionaire Track Test: Ferrari F430 v Lotus Elise v Dodge Caliber SRT-4 v Ford Mustang GT500


Speed:Sport:Life SuperSized Speed Read Part 2: 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart

Photos by Byron Hurd and Nicole Gagnon. Unprofessional driver on a closed course. Don’t try this at home, but feel free to try it with NASA Mid-Atlantic Autocross.

“Are we annoyed with the SUV drivers?” That sing-songy voice is Nicole, my girlfriend, addressing me from the luxurious cabin of the M56 in my rear-view mirror. We’ve finally managed to pass a left-lane camper at whom I had been gesticulating wildly, encouraging a pass that took what seemed like hours to execute.

“Maybe just a little bit,” I reply. So glad I could amuse you. “I’m not on the bluetooth though. I gotta let you go.”  It’s easy to be amused in the front seat of the M. It’s like rolling down the highway in a 420-horsepower electronics store. Me? I’m leading our two-car caravan in the 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart. If the M is a big-box store on wheels, the Ralliart is the pre-owned section at Gamestop.

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Speed:Sport:Life SuperSized Speed Read Part 1: 2011 Infiniti M56

Stock photos courtesy of Nissan/Infiniti USA Media.

“Do you know how fast you’re going?” Her voice is coming from just about everywhere in the cabin. Or maybe just everywhere in my head.

“Uhh… yeah,” I respond, glancing around instinctively for police cars. We’re on I-95, just south of Richmond. The speed limit is 60. We’re besting that, but plenty short of VA’s reckless driving threshold.

“You’re flying,” she says again. Her lack of amusement comes through clearly on the Infiniti’s bluetooth connection. It’s at this point that I realize my phone is buried somewhere in the trunk. There doesn’t seem to be a range issue.

“OK?” I reply, not really knowing what to say. I just want to get back home. I’ve been up since around 5:00 a.m. and spent every minute of it either behind the wheel of one of our two press cars, or outside, in the twenty-something degree weather, chasing cones. It’s almost 6:00. I’m spent. January auto-crosses: the start of the season before the season.

“Just wanted to let you know.” The call ends as the Lancer behind me fades further back into traffic. Apparently, her enthusiasm for eating up the ~180 miles between us and bed doesn’t match mine. I back it off about five miles per hour and set the cruise again. Hey, at least I’m in the luxury car.

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S:S:L Speed Read — 2011 Nissan JUKE SL AWD

Photos courtesy of Nissan USA Media.

B. Hurd: Until recently, hatchbacks were pretty easily identified. They were compact, practical and efficient. Even when some of them even received sporty, up-rated engines and fancy suspensions and racy-sounding names, they remained true to the classic formula. Golf? Hatchback. GTI? Hot Hatchback, but still a hatchback. Jetta? Not a hatchback. Ford Explorer? Well, it has a hatch, and it’s in the back, but it’s not a hatchback because it’s big and it tows things. Simple, right?

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