Kia recently brought us out to beautiful Aspen, Colorado to test drive the all-new 2016 Kia Optima on some stunning mountain roads. This sunny landscape with the lovely fall leaves was a perfect setting for Kia to introduce the redesigned version of the most important vehicle in the Kia lineup. The Optima has been a big hit for Kia and sales continued to increase nicely this past year. Naturally, Kia’s goal is to build on the success of this sharp yet practical mid-size sedan which has become one of the staples in a crowded segment.
Mazda prides itself on building cars that are fun to drive, and the Mazda MX-5 roadster, also known as the Mazda Miata, has been the purest expression of that principle for several decades. The original MX-5 was a huge hit when it was first released in 1989, and now Mazda has completely redesigned the roadster using the original version as an inspiration.
I had the opportunity to drive the all-new 2016 MX-5 on some incredible mountain roads just north of Los Angeles as Mazda introduced the new vehicle to the press, and it was by far one of the most enjoyable driving experiences I’ve had in the past several years. I had a smile planted on my face all day as I pushed the MX-5 through challenging turns through the scenic mountain roads. The MX-5 is a fine-tuned machine that will impress anyone who still appreciates the driving experience.
Browse through the photos of the new MX-5 and you’ll see design that matches the impressive driving experience. After years of making incremental changes, the look of the MX-5 had grown a bit stale. It looked adequate but hardly inspiring.
Mazda went back to the drawing board and came up with a beautiful, modern design featuring sharp lines and curves worthy of this iconic roadster. I particularly liked the red Miata we tested with the black wheels.
Mazda designers created a lower and sleeker profile, giving the impression of a vehicle gripping the road, which perfectly represents the sensation you feel when driving the MX-5.
As Scion introduced its new iA and iM models in Santa Monica, I was thrilled to be back in my SoCal stomping grounds to test these new vehicles on the beautiful mountain and canyon roads around the Malibu area. The winding roads and climbs would offer a perfect setting for our test drive, and we started off on a beautiful summer day by making our way North up PCH with spectacular views of the Pacific to our left.
The drive started with the all-new 2016 iA, the first sedan model ever offered by Scion. The iA grabs your attention right away with a bold and pronounced front grille. The sporty and aggressive lines of the front end of this entry-level compact sedan gives the impression of a more expensive model and will certainly appeal to buyers looking for a distinctive design.
I’ve been waiting for this one for a while. Several decades ago the Nissan Maxima was one of the few sedans you would think of apart from the German cars when someone mentioned they really wanted a sport sedan. Fortunately for other car brands that has changed in the years since, but for Nissan it puts more pressure to get the new Maxima right in today’s more competitive environment.
The most recent generation Maximas weren’t bad but there wasn’t much that made the vehicles stand out. With the all-new 2016 Maxima we now have the eighth generation and Nissan appears to have another winner on its hands.
It all starts with the exterior design, which you can see from the photos is impressive from all angles. I was curious as to what Nissan would do with the front grille of the Maxima after seeing the more cautious designs for the front of the Altima and the Sentra. Instead we see a more distinctive, unique and ambitious “V-Motion” front grille that’s similar to what we saw with the Rogue. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked it, but as our day went on it started to grow on me. It works with the rest of the vehicle which is beautifully designed and it fits the more aggressive image of the Maxima.
SAN DIEGO – The high-powered, low-volume 2015 Volkswagen Golf R could play a big role in getting the German automaker’s U.S. sales back on the good foot. That would mean more VWs rolling out of showroom doors.
Here’s the deal: the VW Golf recently was named Car of the Year by two very prestigious organizations. Now, the Volkswagen Golf R helps to fill out a lineup that includes the regular Golf, a performance version of that compact car, a diesel powered Golf and an electric Golf. A station wagon is on the way, but we came here to test drive the Golf R. It is the high-powered version of this car.
By the numbers, this Golf R has a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the hood that makes292 horsepower and 280 pound feet of torque. It’s mated to a direct sequential gearing, read six-speed dual clutch, automatic transmission branded (DSG). This version goes on sale in the spring. It will be joined by a six-speed manual Golf R this summer that will be sold as a 2016 model; it will about $1,000 less than the automatic.
With the fast-shifting DSG, the Golf R can get to 60 mph from a standing start in a blistering 4.9 seconds and it has a top track speed of 155 mph. Because of low sales for the two-door Golf R in the past, the 2015 version will only be sold in this market as a four-door. Mileage is expected to be 23 mpg in the city, more than 30 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combined.