Tag - bmw

Driven: 2016 Lexus RC 200t

It’s reassuring to see Japanese automakers taking a renewed interest in driving dynamics for mainstream models, and nowhere is that more evident than in the latest Lexus IS. The company’s original IS300 was a moonshot at the near-luxury segment behemoth, the BMW 3-series, and what the Lexus lacked in credentials it made up for with polished driving dynamics, edgy looks and peerless build quality. Compact, lithe, and powered by a lusty, naturally-aspirated straight-six driving the rear wheels, it pulled all of its most important moves directly from the BMW playbook. It also helped establish Lexus as a builder of something other than discounted, more reliable Mercedes-Benzes – it finally became a builder of sports sedans.

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Speed Read: 2016 Lexus ES350

Lexus’s comfort-oriented, near-luxury cruiser – the ES – has passed through my hands on more than one occasion. In fact, I’ve sampled its every iteration – although to be fair, there are really only two: the ES350 and its hybridized sister, the ES300h. Refreshed for 2016 with a sharpened maw and more equipment, the ES350 nevertheless remains true to its principles of low-key, fuss-free transportation.

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Driven: 2015 BMW Z4

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 Audi S3

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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