Review: 2015 Lexus RC350 2DR Coupe

Tuesday May 19th, 2015 at 11:55 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2015 Lexus RC350 2DR Coupe

By David Colman

Hypes: Arresting Looks, Finely Tuned Chassis
Gripes: Hard Backseat Access, Obnoxious Grill

Short of a tech session at the dealership, there are few better ways to learn the secrets of your vehicle than to wash and dry it yourself. The all new Lexus RC350 provided just such an opportunity for driveway therapy, The complexity of this coupe’s shape defies easy description. Every facet of its voluptuous body is so thoroughly sculpted that there are no flat surfaces anywhere. Running your hands over its sinuous flanks helps you understand what a sleek facade Lexus stylists have devised to cheat the wind. In many ways, this coupe pays homage to the outrageously sleek $400,000 LF-A supercar Lexus produced in very limited numbers several years ago. If your RC350 happens to be painted Molten Pearl (metallic orange), like our test vehicle, you will have such a show stopper on your hands that slower cars will pull over to let you pass, after taking one amazed look in their rear view mirror. Although the RC’s double trapezoid “spindle” grill is overly fussy, the rest of the design brief is stunningly effective.

2015 Lexus RC350 2DR Coupe

The RC tested here is the V6 model, which retails for a base price of just $42,790, and an all inclusive price of $53,140. The extra ten thousand goes for such niceties as an “F Sport Package” ($3,985) a Navigation System ($1,530), a Moonroof ($1,100) and a very pricey Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS, $1,900). You can probably live without VGRS, but the F Sport group is essential to defining the coupe’s character. From a performance standpoint, the F Sport’s most important inclusions are Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), and fat wheels with sticky tires. Up front, you get 8 x 19 inch F Sport rims with 235/40R19 Dunlop SP Sport tires, while rear rims measure 9 x 19 inches and carry 265/35R19 Dunlops. Clearly, Lexus is going after potential BMW and Audi buyers with this F Sport Package, which transforms a good handling coupe into a premium back road weapon. The package also includes heavily side bolstered, extremely supportive front seats that are both heated and ventilated. A multi-function steering wheel, electrically adjustable for height and reach, completes the F group upgrade.

2015 Lexus RC350 2DR Coupe

If there’s a chink in this coupe’s armor, it lies under the hood, where a 3.5 liter V6 makes just 306hp and 277lb.-ft. of torque. Coupled to a sweet, paddle-shifted 8 speed automatic transmission, the V6 provides excellent throttle response in 1st, 2nd and 3rd gears, but once you shift into the taller ratios of 4th through 8th, the moderately powerful engine has a tough time matching the vivid acceleration on tap in the lower gears. If you’re after true supercar poke, opt for the 467hp V8 available in the RC F, a BMW M4 eater which retails for a cool 20 grand more than the base price of our RC350. As you would expect in a coupe with the refinement of the F Sport Package, handling is excellent. But in order to coax maximum proficiency out of the car, you must first learn the secret handshake to configure it to your needs. A large, knurled knob on the center console allows you to tailor the Adaptive Variable Suspension to your taste, by rotating the knob through 4 stages ranging from “Eco” to “Sport+” Even when you slot into “Sport+,” however, you will find that Lexus provides an overly assertive nanny that constantly corrects your enthusiasm by killing the engine at inappropriate junctures or applying the brakes when it judges you need them. To avoid these intrusions, you need to disengage “Traction Control” by depressing a button located just aft of the AVS knob. Although the Owner’s Manual states that a notation will appear on the TFT screen reading “Expert,” we never elicited this display. Regardless, once you’ve gone through all these pre-configuration measures, the RC350 is good to go, and go fast. With all systems maximized for instant gratification, this coupe becomes extremely responsive. The expensive VGRS steering option buttons down steering control, immediate throttle response kicks in, and the suspension vectors itself into closer proximity to the pavement. This Kabuki flyer will never be shamed by any German sedan on any back road. The downside is that you have to reconfigure the RC for maximum performance every time you re-start it. The upside is that this exotic looking BMW slayer puts you in the driver’s seat for thousands less than you’ll pay for a similar Bimmer.

2015 Lexus RC350 2DR Coupe

2015 Lexus RC350 2DR Coupe

  • Engine: 3.5 liter V6, 24 Valve DOHC, Direct and Port Injection, Variable Valve Timing
  • Horsepower: 306hp
  • Torque: 277lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 19 MPG City/28 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $53,140
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2014 BMW 435i xDRIVE Coupe

Monday August 4th, 2014 at 10:88 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2014 BMW 435i xDRIVE Coupe

By David Colman

Hypes: Hyper Flashy Interior. 166mph Top Speed
Gripes: For $63K, They Could Put A Screwdriver in the Toolkit

BMW has introduced two new 4 Series coupes for 2014. What differentiates them is choice of engine. The 428i uses a turbo four cylinder engine, while the 435i offers a turbo six cylinder motor. Both are available in either rear wheel drive form or all-wheel-drive trim (which BMW calls xDRIVE). The top version of the 4 Series coupe is the 435i with xDRIVE, and this is the model we spent the last week exercising. Get a tight hold on the reins because it’s a mighty quick stallion. The 435 would is definitely the hot ticket for speed lovers. Its 3.0 liter turbo makes 300hp and 300lb-ft of torque. The 3,621 pound 435i, with its superior power-to-weight ratio of 12.07lb/hp, covers the Standing Start quarter mile in 13.7 seconds at 105mph, while posting a 0-60 run of 5.2 seconds.

Though the 428i and the 435i look much the same and share virtually identical structures, they are vastly different vehicles in feel and performance. For comparison purposes, you would do well to think of these two coupes in human terms. They represent the same person at different stages of the life cycle. The 428 is the youthful rebel, rambunctious, ready to party, a real back road butt kicker. But once the 428 gains a few years and a few pounds, it matures into the 435, graying slightly at the temples, a little thicker in the waist and thinner in the reflexes. These BMW coupes reinterpret BMW’s “ultimate driving machine” adage from different perspectives. The 428i is ultimate if you’re seeking hot laps with your tail and your tongue hung out. The 435i offers ultimate satisfaction if you aim to cover vast distance at a canter rather than a gallop.

2014 BMW 435i xDRIVE Coupe

The Coral Red Dakota Leather interior of our 435ix looks positively opulent. Just the thing for the mature swinger who still boogies to the Latin beat of Xavier Cugat. While purists might dismiss this kind of visual flamboyance in such a serious sporting BMW, the red and black combo really knocks your socks off. The heavily pebble grained seat leather adds another dimension to the gripping support afforded by these special seats that are part of the coupe’s $3,100 optional M Package. The 435ix carries a reasonable base price of $48,000, but posts a whopping bottom line of $63,725 due to the following additions: the aforementioned M Sport ($3,100), Cold Weather Package ($700), Driver Assistance Package ($950), Dynamic Handling Package ($1,000), Lighting Package ($1,900), Premium Package ($2,200), Technology Package ($3,150), M Sport Brakes (650), Concierge Services ($250) and Destination Charges ($925). I don’t know about you, but if I’m paying an extra $250 for “Concierge Services,” I expect a warm croissant and a cafe au lait be delivered to my Coupe every morning.

2014 BMW 435i xDRIVE Coupe

But these many additions do bring multiple benefits, such as a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, retractable headlight washers (Cold Weather Package); adaptive full LED lights, automatic high beams (Lighting Package); comfort access keyless entry, lumbar support, satellite radio with 1 Yr. subscription (Premium Package); navigation system with touchpad, Head-up display, remote services, BMW apps, enhanced smart phone (Technology Package). The heated steering wheel is a particularly welcome addition on chilly mornings, a most worthy substitute for that missing concierge. The graphics of the navigation system maps are spectacular, showing 3D topographical details that will take your breath away. The Head-up display, on the other hand, is something of a mixed bag. It plays your speed on the windshield, right under your nose. So there’s no excuse for pretending you didn’t know how fast you were going when the officer arrives to hear your tall tale. It also keeps you apprised of your cruise control setting, and instantly notes any changes to your prescribed speed. Unfortunately, the mirror face of the Head-up unit reflects itself in the windshield during sunny conditions, so you get a helping of glare with your order of info.

2014 BMW 435i xDRIVE Coupe

Although the 435i is slightly heavier, taller and more front weighted than its cheaper sibling, our test coupe had one big ace in the hole that was missing from the 428′s arsenal: all-wheel-drive. California State Route 175 connects the rural outposts of Hopland and Lakeport with 18 miles of the best driving roads you’ve ever traversed. On a midweek day, there was virtually no traffic in either direction to distract me from pushing the big BMW as hard as I dared. While it never seemed as light or agile as the 428i, it felt more planted and predictable than the four cylinder model when pushed to the limit. With the 19 inch Bridgestone run flat S001 tires (225/45R19 front, 255/40R19 rear) generating significant side bite, the 435ix refused to lose its tenacious grip on the pavement, no matter how hard I tried to conjure drift angles. While it may be lacking in drift challenge showboat potential, the 435ix is the BMW 4 Series coupe I’d chose for a cross country trip with bad weather in the forecast.

2014 BMW 435i xDRIVE Coupe

  • Engine: 3.0 Liter inline 6, Turbocharged and Intercooled
  • Horsepower: 3000hp
  • Torque: 300lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 20MPG City/30MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $63,725
  • Star Rating: 9.5 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2014 BMW 428i Coupe

Monday June 9th, 2014 at 1:66 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2014 BMW 428i Coupe

By David Colman

Hypes: Extra Sensory Handling, Primo Front Seats, To Die For Looks
Gripes: Needs Rear Wiper, Chintzy Manual Steering Wheel Adjuster

Q: When is a 3 a 4? A: When a 1 becomes a 2.

Inside BMW’s perplexing name lab, Bavarian linguists have labored mightily to concoct a brave new numbering system sure to confuse and baffle its customer base. This year, the former 1 Series morphs into the new 2 Series, while the coupe and convertible offerings of the former 3 Series have now become 4 Series products. All this from a company once forthright enough to label its 1600cc sedan as a “BMW 1600.”

Call the new 4 Series what you will, there’s no mistaking its sporting excellence. Not surprisingly, the new 4 covers the dimensions of the existing 3 like a blanket. Overall length remains at 183 inches, as does wheelbase at 111 inches. Thanks to the coupe’s svelte roofline, height drops from 56 to 54 inches, while flared fenders cause the width to increase from 71 to 72 inches. Weight drops by 15 pounds, from 3,485 pounds to 3,470 pounds.

2014 BMW 428i Coupe

Take advantage of the coupe’s wider stance by maximizing rim size. You can do so by opting for the $3,500 “M Sport” package, which confers, among other benefits, a set of double-five spoke, 18 inch diameter M Sport performance alloys that stretch rim width to 8 inches front and 9 inches rear. These rims amply support premium Bridgestone S001 RFT (Run Flat) rubber measuring 225/45R18 front and 255/40R18 rear. Another dividend of the M Sport group is Adaptive M Suspension, a center console controlled system that allows you to select the shock setup you desire by sliding the “Driving Experience Switch” through 4 detents (Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport+). These options cover the range from green peace to racetrack, and the differences are immediately obvious in terms of steering feedback and bump damping.

Visually, the M Package will also win you over with revamped body panels that channel wind over the coupe’s exterior surfaces most efficiently. To that end a revised front fascia eliminates the standard lower fog lamps in favor of increased radiator cooling grills. Normally convex rocker panels acquire intricate concave flutes that help shed boundary layer air currents. If these external clues are so subtle as to provide insufficient gratification, you can always derive satisfaction from plentiful M notations festooning your key fob, dead pedal, threshold plates, and lower steering wheel spoke.

2014 BMW 428i Coupe

The most beneficial contribution of the M Sport group is a pair of stellar front sport seats that will grab your torso faster than Velcro. These supremely enveloping twin buckets offer more lateral support than anything short of a full race DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft)throne. The most telling point of support is their vise grip on your mid-back area. The retention of this vice can be altered by easing off the “Backrest Width” control located alongside the outboard lower cushion. You’ll also discover controls for lumbar support, height, backrest tilt, seat tilt, plus a manual slide for thigh support. The front seats leave absolutely nothing on the table in terms of adjustability, conformity or comfort. We spent 9 hours in the cockpit of this coupe during a prolonged foray from the Bay Area to the Sierra foothills without registering a single complaint about cockpit fit.

2014 BMW 428i Coupe

On that same trip we also managed to record 33.5 MPG on a prolonged freeway stint while averaging 75mph. The EPA suggests that the 4 cylinder turbocharged 428i will return 35MPG on such highway drives, and this figure is undoubtedly attainable by reducing speed to 65mph. Overall gas consumption is EPA rated at 26MPG, with 22MPG on tap in city conditions. The intercooled 4 cylinder engine utilizes a pair of small diameter turbochargers to boost performance while maintaining parsimonious fuel burn. You will never find yourself at a loss for forward bite with this coupe. Flooring the throttle launches the 428i on an impressive trajectory that achieves 60mph from a standing start in 5.3 seconds, the quarter mile in 14.1 seconds at 99mph, and a top speed of 158mph. That top speed is attainable in M Sport equipped coupes where normal top speed limitations are eliminated.

In a world where the meanest, least expensive Korean import coddles you with standard niceties like heated seats and navigation, it comes as a bit of a rude shock not to find BMW follow suit. For example, the steering wheel, albeit M-grip thick, must be manually dropped, elevated and telescoped. If you desire heated seats, they can be yours, providing you ante up an extra $635 for the Cold Weather Package. Likewise, BMW will gladly provide a navigation system as long as you check off the $2,885 Technology Package on your order form. All these enhancements we’ve come to expect as standard items on much less expensive cars will cost you dearly at BMW. But no amount of free inclusions can ever compensate you for an inferior driving experience. If you’re after the consummate stint behind the wheel, there is nothing like this BMW.

2014 BMW 428i Coupe

2014 BMW 428i Coupe

  • Engine: 2.0 Liter inline DOHC 16 Valve 4, Turbocharged and Intercooled
  • Horsepower: 240hp @ 6000rpm
  • Torque: 255lb.-ft. @ 1250rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 22MPG City/35MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $48,075
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

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2013 Honda Accord Coupe

Monday April 15th, 2013 at 12:44 PM
Posted by: Francois

Hypes: Dynamic driving experience, Honda Goes Green with “ Earth Dreams Technology”
Gripes: Sheeps clothing will disuade the ideal driver for this car

This car is fast. One could call it a BMW or INfiniti and the person behind the wheel will not be disappointed. It is just an exhilirating drivng experience in an unexpected package. The power and flexibility of this engine is impressive and the chassis can handle it. So color us impressed.

I spent most of my week in the new Accord driving around like a demented octogenarian with my right turn signal perpetually blinking to indicate a turn I never took. What, you may ask, prompted this bit of imbecility? Honda’s new feature called LaneWatch. If you flick your right turn signal on, an incredibly clear, continuous picture of the road adjacent and behind your Accord displays itself in full color on an 8 inch i-MID (Intelligent Multi Information Display) screen on the dash. The LaneWatch camera, mounted beneath the passenger side exterior rear view mirror, affords a mesmerizing view of the world gone by. It’s like watching a newsreel of your travel unfold at the instant it’s happening. Of course, Honda provides it, not as entertainment, but rather as a useful safety device to keep you informed of traffic patterns and help you avoid collisions when changing lanes.

What I didn’t realize until after my week in the Accord was nearly up: you can simply depress a button on the end of the turn signal stalk to activate LaneWatch without signaling for a right turn. I’m not sure why there was no provision for a left side LaneWatch, but as it stands the right side only monitor is one of the most udeful safety advances devised in the last decade. But it’s just one hors d’oervre in the tasty feast that Honda has whipped up for the 2013 Accord banquet. For a base price of $25,405, the EX offers a lot of family sedan for the money.

Starting under the hood, you’ll find a willing performer in the gas miser 2.4 liter inline four. Direct Injection is new for 2013, an improvement that ups horsepower to 185hp (from last year’s 178), and torque to 181 lb.-ft. (from 161). Even when saddled with the vagaries of the belted CVT automatic gearbox, the Accord jumps smartly to attention when prodded with the accelerator. If you select Sport Mode from the floor mounted CVT lever, the Accord picks up an instant 1000rpm which eases passing anxiety considerably. This velocity increase is unfortunately accompanied by a hellish racket from the intake and exhaust systems that underlines just how hard the four banger is straining to get the job done. You will be thrilled at the mileage, however, which pays off with an overall combined rating of 30MPG.

For a family sedan with four full-size doors, and a spacious and comfortable back seat, backroad handling is beyond respectable. Throw the EX into a series of bends, and you’ll be amazed at just how well balanced and competent the twin anti-roll bar equipped suspension system is. The new Accord corners flat. Information passed through the steering wheel is accurate and encyclopedic. To look at the wheel and tire fitment – which consists of 7.5” x 17” alloys rims mounting all-season Michelin MXMV4 215/55R17 tires – you wouldn’t give the EX much of a chance of success on a twisty road. The truth, however, is just the opposite. On a light traffic, mid-week run from Mill Valley to Point Reyes Station, this Honda proved itself to be agile, quick and confidence-inspiring. The steering wheel could do with a thicker rim, and the front seats are deficient in side bolstering. But the chassis dynamics are spot-on.

This is the 9th version of the Accord that Honda has offered in the 30 years they’ve been building this model in the USA. While it may look little different from version 8, it is deceptively improved. Lighter and dimensionally smaller on the outside, the new EX is inexplicably more spacious in terms of headroom and shoulder room on the inside. If you’re looking for a sedan in the mid-$20K range, you need to consider this latest Honda before making any final decision.

VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 2-door coupe
PRICE AS TESTED: $33,140 (base price: $31,140)
ENGINE TYPE: SOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection
Displacement: 212 cu in, 3471 cc
Power: 278 hp @ 6200 rpm
Torque: 252 lb-ft @ 4900 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual
Wheelbase: 107.3 in
Length: 189.2 in
Width: 72.8 in Height: 56.5 in
Curb weight: 3399 lb
Zero to 60 mph: 5.6 sec

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2013 Infiniti G Coupe IPL Review

Sunday January 13th, 2013 at 8:11 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Bahnstormer for the Mature
Gripes: Cheesy Belt Retractors, Shift Lever Jiggles At Idle

Let’s say you’re a born again racer who’s outgrown the trappings of the street pose down. You still like to drive hard and fast, but you no longer need to let the world in on your little secret. So you start scanning test reports with an eye for the understated rather than the obvious performance package. You’ve got some serious cash to spend on your acquisition, but you’re not quite ready for a full scale German pocket vacuuming. Well, in that case, I’ve got the perfect sports coupe for you. At a base price of $50,500, the Infiniti G Coupe undercuts the price of most anything from Bavaria, and better yet, outperforms many BMWs, Audis and Porsches costing up to twice as much.

The reason for this apparent discrepancy in the price/performance ratio? The G is really a revamped Nissan 370Z, devoid of the Z’s boy racer proclivity to overstate its case. You won’t find any of the Z’s rough edges, harsh ride, or buzzy exhaust in the grown up version Infiniti sells. But by the same token, you’ll give nothing away to the Z in terms of raw performance. If anything, the G Coupe in IPL trim, is easier to drive hard than the Z because it’s smoother, quieter and less demanding on you.

The IPL specification is a must if your G Coupe is going to compete with the best from Europe in handling dexterity and straight line acceleration. IPL tweaks output of the standard G37’s 3.7 liter V-6 from 330hp to 348hp. The package also includes a close ratio 6-speed transmission which feeds power to the rear wheels through a standard Viscous Limited Slip Differential (VLSD). The VSLD insures that power is meted to the rear wheel with the best grip, so you never experience power loss through wheelspin. Infiniti beefs up the brakes on IPL cars with sport calibrated 4-piston front and 2-piston rear calipers on oversized discs. Finally, the steering ratio is quicker than that of a stock G37 at 14.7:1. There’s never a need to crank the steering wheel from lock to lock in this coupe because the quicker steering ratio requires less lock for directional change.

The G Coupe’s planted stance is due to Infiniti’s choice of premium rubber at each corner. The standard graphite finished 7-spoke aluminum alloy wheels mount Bridgestone Potenza RE 050A tires measuring 225/45R19 front and 245/40R19 rear. Combined with IPL sports tuned shocks and springs, the G Coupe carves corners like a 370Z on steroids.

Yet none of the borderline cheap looking 370Z interior appointments are evident in this Infiniti. The interior is plush, padded and perfectly inviting. The driver’s seat is 12-way adjustable, with lovely under-thigh support that extends and retracts, coupled to fat side bolsters that can be configured as tightly or loosely as needed. The passenger’s seat is somewhat less adjustable, but both feature heating and nifty embroidered “IPL” logos in their headrests. The back seat is suitable only for small children, and its accessibility is suspect thanks to small doors openings and seatbelt interference.

This Infiniti is solidly constructed, with a smattering of real brushed aluminum trim across the dash and center console. There isn’t an abundance of room in the cockpit, but you do at least enjoy a usable glove box plus small storage pockets in both doors. The cumbersome front seat belt valets are molded in ivory to match the color of the headliner. But they look cheap and out-of-place in this otherwise simple Zen interior.

For the money, it’s hard to match this sports sedan in terms of finish, performance or luxury. In fact, the G Coupe in IPL trim is one of the best driving cars on the market regardless of price.

2013 Infiniti G Coupe IPL

  • Engine: 3.7 Liter DOHC 24 Valve V-6
  • Horsepower: 348hp
  • Torque: 276 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 17 MPG City/25 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $51,395
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

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2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE Review

Saturday January 12th, 2013 at 8:11 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Good Looks Flatter You
Gripes: Good Looks Flatter to Deceive

Easy on the eye, easy on the wallet, the coupe version of the Elantra dishes out a pretty good trip down easy street. Hyundai hasn’t done an Elantra coupe before, so if you wanted a personalized two-door from this Korean maker, their Genesis coupe was the only model available. But opting for a Genesis meant spending more ($24,250 – $34,250), fueling more (21 MPG City/30 MPG Highway), and giving up front-wheel-drive traction for rear wheel-drive fun. The new Elantra two-door checks in at a base price of $20,745 ($23,965 loaded with $2,350 woth of Navigation), posts significantly better mileage figures than the Genesis (27 MPG City/37 MPG Highway), and powers the front wheels rather than the rears. And despite the fact that it offers only 2 doors, they open wide enough to make access to the back seat easy. Since that back seat folds flat, this diminutive, 2,661 lb. coupe totes baggage as well as 4 passengers.

The SE shares many of the same facial features as the redesigned Genesis coupe. The smile of the grill, the sparkle of the headlight jewelry, the rising character line from front to rear are Hyundai-specific styling cues that distinguish the brand. The Elantra is handsome in a fresh-faced, breezy Abercrombie sort of way. It will appeal to style-conscious first time buyers who want to look sporty without paying a price in ride discomfort or lack of practicality. Given the coupe’s modest power output of 148hp, however, you’ll soon discover that the SE looks a lot more sporty than it behaves.

Our test car’s standard 6-speed automatic SHIFTRONIC gearbox offers fully automated shifting, plus manual gear selection through the console-mounted stick. Hyundai does not provide steering wheel paddles for this chore. The manual shift provision is useful only to a point: no matter what gear you’ve selected, the SHIFTRONIC will automatically upshift to the next higher gear at 5,500rpm. It does so despite the fact that engine redline begins at 6,700rpm. Even so, you’ll want to avail yourself of manual gearbox operation to extract maximum oomph from the 1.8 liter inline 4. The premium suspension and tire fitment beg for more engine vitality. Hyundai has selected sporting spring and swaybar dimensions for the coupe, and fitted 215/45R17 Hankook Optimo tires on striking split spoke alloy wheels. But you’ll rarely put this vibrant combination to the test due to power limitations under the hood.

Inside the roomy cabin, the coupe looks more expensive than competitors’ products like the Honda Civic and Nissan Sentra. The perforated seating surfaces are made from leather and standard fitment. The front passenger seat is ingeniously designed to slide and tilt forward when a latch on its back is released. This enhances back seat entry/exit. A B-pillar mounted front seatbelt retainer folds out of the way as well. Hyundai engineers have clearly devoted themselves to the human dynamics of loading and unloading this coupe’s back seat. The low roofline, however, limits rear occupants to 5’8” in height.

You would expect to find a few rough edges in a car of this price class, and the SE doesn’t disappoint in this regard. The multi-function steering wheel includes spoke-mounted buttons to control voice activation of the standard 360 watt Infotainment system plus cruise control. The inner edges of these buttons are so sharp they will snag your hand when touched. Likewise, the tail lamps on the rear fascia harbor knifelike edges when the trunk is open. An examination under the trunk mat reveals an aerosol flat fix bottle but no spare tire.

Despite these minor sins of omission and quality, the Elantra coupe is a solid bargain in this price range, and would make an excellent first car for a anyone leery of spending much time at a gas station.

2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE

  • Engine: 1.8 liter DOHC, 16 valve inline 4
  • Horsepower: 148hp
  • Torque: 130 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 27 MPG City/37 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $23,965
  • Star Rating: 7.5 out of 10 Stars

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2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe Review

Wednesday October 10th, 2012 at 8:1010 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Spacious, Glassy, Classy
Gripes: Pricey, Fixed Moonroof

Five years have elapsed since BMW introduced their stunning 4-door “CL” coupe study at the Shanghai auto show in 2007. The hallmarks of that China show design by Adrian van Hooydonk, which paid tribute to BMW’s treasured CL coupes of the Seventies, were its expansive glass area, six foot width, and exceptionally large wheels and tires. All of those design features have found their way into the production version, the 2013 640i Gran Coupe. The roofline of the new coupe resembles the back of a turtle, with vast front and rear window glass sloping away from a domed roof that itself contains a huge pane of tinted glass. Just like its show car CL predecessor, the Gran Coupe is more than six feet wide excluding the outside mirrors. And completing the key points of van Hooydonk’s original vision, 20 inch tall wheels with super skinny sidewall Dunlop tires define the exaggerated wheel well arches.

From a historical standpoint, the term coupe defines a 2-door car with 2 + 2 seating. BMW has redefined the classic coupe concept by adding an extra pair of rear doors to facilitate rear seat usage. Thanks to the car’s six foot width, there’s even room and belts for a baby size fifth passenger in the center of the rear seat. Indeed, there’s nothing + 2 about the rear seat accommodations. The 640 GC offers posh seating for 4, with possible occupancy by 5. Call it a 4+ 1 coupe. But make no mistake, the 640, despite its stealthy profile and attractive silhouette, is a sizeable vehicle. It’s 197.2 inch length is just 2 inches short of a 7 Series limo, and 4 inches longer than a 5 Series sedan.

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2012 BMW 650i Coupe Review

Monday July 16th, 2012 at 3:77 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

For: Do-It-All Nature, Space, Grace, Pace
Against: Exterior Rear View Mirrors Too Small

If you need a sportscar and a high performance sedan, look no further than Bimmer’s 650i. Granted, it’s a tad pricey at $101,675. But if you perceive it as 2 cars in 1, you’re on the right reasoning track. If you’re willing to alot $50,000 for each purpose the 650i fulfills, then you’ve saved yourself from buying an extra car. Let’s examine this genteel beast from the sportscar perspective first. Are 400hp and 450 lb.-ft. of torque enough to slake your thirst for V8 twin turbo power? They should be, considering the 650i will turn 107mph in 13.4 seconds through the quarter mile, and post a 0-60mph time of 5.1 seconds on its way to an electronically limited top speed of 150mph. If that isn’t serious sportscar territory, than nothing is.

But what about the handling? In a word, superb. BMW’s Driving Dynamics Control (DDC) system, which is standard on this car, allows you to dial up just the right amount of steering feedback, suspension control, throttle response and traction control permissiveness you need when pushing the performance envelope. An easily accessible button on the standard “Fine Line Oak Wood” center console allows you to bump the default DDC setting from Comfort to Performance or Performance+. If you hold the button down for 10 seconds in the Performance+ setting, you disable Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), putting your enthusiasm and talent in control of the situation. You’ll want to be exceptionally careful in this DSC-deleted Performance+ mode, because many of the safety net override systems are disabled, making it possible to lose control of this heavy and powerful vehicle if you don’t know what you’re doing.

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Pebble Beach Concours – 2012 MINI Cooper Coupe

Tuesday August 23rd, 2011 at 11:88 AM
Posted by: AKramer

2012 MINI Cooper S Coupe

On display at the MINI booth at this year’s Concours d’Elegance is the 2012 MINI Cooper Coupe, MINI’s new 2-seater that looks to inject even more driving fun into the MINI line-up. The Coupe becomes the fastest MINI available and purports to offer even more agile handling than the already nimble Cooper.

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2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe

Tuesday March 22nd, 2011 at 9:33 AM
Posted by: aquadog

2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG CoupeMercedes-Benz unveiled the all new 2012 C63 AMG coupe, set to debut at the New York International Auto Show in April.

Similar to the C63 AMG sedan, the C63 AMG coupe features a 6.2-liter, V8, 451-horsepower engine, 443 lb-feet of torque, a 7-speed MCT (Multi-Clutch Transmission) with Controlled Efficiency mode, a 0-60 time of 4.4 seconds, and a limited top speed of 155 mph. An optional AMG Development Package brings the AMG coupe up to 481-horsepower, a 0-60 time of 4.3 seconds and a controlled top speed of 174 mph.

The new coupe variant benefits from all the technology updates that have been adopted on the C63 AMG sedan models. Fuel economy is improved with the AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT (multi-clutch transmission) 7-speed sports transmission with “Controlled Efficiency” mode as standard and a new power steering pump.

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