Road Test Review – 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE 6-Speed Manual – By Carl Malek

When it comes to the venerable Toyota Corolla, the iconic compact sedan has developed a very loyal following during its several decade production run, and it has managed to even block the challenge to its sales supremacy that has been cast into stone by a growing field of CUV competitors. But while the Corolla has managed to check all the other boxes that car buyers think in their minds when they purchase one, the lone item that has been missing in recent years is excitement. So when Toyota revealed that it planned to release a five-door version of its econobox, …

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2020 Toyota Corolla SE 6-Speed Manual Sedan – Review by Ben Lewis

If I tell you there’s a 4-door compact sedan that’s got hot styling, some real attitude, and is lots of fun to drive thanks to a 6-speed manual transmission, what would you say? Civic? Mazda 3, Elantra? How about a Toyota Corolla? Yes, the Corolla. Okay, we can’t blame you if it didn’t pop in your mind. Although there have been the occasional performance versions including the hot-hatch 1988 Corolla FX16, and the 2005 Corolla XRS sedan (8,000 rpm redline!), most of the model’s reputation has been built on solid, sensible and reliable transportation over flash. And it’s been a …

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2019 Honda Civic Sport 2.0L 4-Door Manual – Review by Ben Lewis

Ok, we’re going out on a ledge here. But we bet this Civic may become a collectible. Yes, we get that the Civic Type R (or CTR for those in the know) will be a legend. And the current Civic Si is continuing a long line of sweet-performing Si’s. But the Civic Sport seems to go even deeper than that. More to the core of what has always made a Honda a Honda – or a Civic a Civic – for that matter. There’s a simplicity here.  A purity of purpose that typifies the man and the brand. 20-30 years …

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2019 Hyundai Elantra Sport 6MT 2

2019 Hyundai Elantra Sport 6MT – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Recently, I was picking up a press car, and they asked me – in all sincerity – if I drive a stick. Really? Yes, it’s come to this. Manuals are getting so rare that some auto scribes don’t know how to drive one. Please don’t tell Hyundai. Because recently we drove the 2019 Elantra Sport, with 6-speed manual trans, and it was a delight. A Meaner Mugshot All ’19 Elantras get a crisp new look, with a restyled hood, front fascia, grille and headlights that look more aggressive and squintier, including LED headlights and a special grille on our Sport …

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2018 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro Manual – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Classic. What makes a car a classic? Often times, it takes years, or even decades to bestow a title like that. Or an ad on Craigslist for some clapped-out conveyance you should never consider buying. Let’s ignore the latter, and concentrate on the former. And we’re here to tell you that the 2018 Audi A4 is a classic. Classical Elegance Even though the A4 was all-new last year, you might not have noticed. Audi is a founding member of the Evolution, not Revolution design club. And besides, the previous model was pretty sweet. The new model looks a little crisper, …

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2017 Honda Civic Si Sedan – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Honda’s redesigned Civic is a big hit. And they’ve been clever, rolling out the vehicles over a period of time. Sedans, then hatchbacks, (long missing from the Civic lineup), then Civic Coupe.  Then a turbo, (a first for a Civic in the U.S) and then an aggressive-looking Civic Sport model. And each model has been a tasty treat, but we’ve always known there might be something better in the wings. Well now we have the new Civic Si – long-time top of the line for the Civics sold here in the states. The new Si is tantalizing different from models …

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2017 VW Golf R 6-Speed Manual – HD Road Test Review

How does the Golf R’s halo/hero status match up with reality in your garage? Well, it scores huge with 5-second sprints and a $36,475 price right off the bat.  Then you get Golf R into its race mode and HANG ON for its throaty brummm up redline/supralegal speed. It’s been a thrilling few months of hot hatch and performance car reviews around here – so we feel well-placed to judge this hot hatch king.  Focus RS will be the main competitor for comparisons, but also feedback on how Audi S3 differs too.  Longtime Subaru WRX fan/owner helps to appreciate Golf …

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2017 VW Jetta GLI 2.0T 6MT – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Crave the delectable deliciousness of a German Sport Sedan, but don’t have the coin for an Audi, BMW or Benz? We’ve got a solution for you. The Jetta GLI sedan. Yes, a Jetta. With all the heavy-duty incentive, low-low financing, come-on-down-to-your friendly V-Dub dealer ads for garden variety Jettas, you might have forgotten VW’s love letter to the Sport Sedan. And it’s a tough world for sedans these days. With the heat for crossovers and the newfound interest in hatchbacks, the pickings for the discerning sedan driver on a budget are few. In the spectrum of things, there’s the hard-edged …

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2016 Mazda MX-5 Club 6MT 3

Road Test Review – 2016 Mazda MX-5 Club 6MT – By Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman

  In the spring of 1971, I was almost finished with my freshman year at the University of Iowa, and it was time for me to get my first new car.  My father and I were to split the cost.  His idea of the perfect car for me was a low mileage, 1969 Chevrolet Impala, 4-door.  And my idea was a 1971 MGB rag top.  While my friends were into muscle cars of the time like Mustangs, Camaros, Chargers and Barracudas, I was more interested in small British cars that, while not fast, were known for handling prowess, rather than …

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Double Drive Review! 2016 MINI Cooper S CLUBMAN – 8sp Automatic versus 6sp Stick

  For years now, the number of manual transmissions has been dropping in favor of the automatic transmissions. True car enthusiasts have bemoaned the loss of the stick while automakers pander to growing consumer demand for automatics (plus, many drivers can’t drive a manual). However, with the Mini Cooper Clubman, the manual vs. automatic debate is at the heart of the car. Is a Mini Cooper, well, a Mini Cooper without a stick? Nope. A few weeks ago, I reviewed a 2016 MINI Cooper Clubman S manual and enjoyed all of its quirkiness including the thrill of getting off the …

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2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S 21

3.7s, 206MPH 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Updates Tech, Adds 7-Speed Stickshift Option

The Aston V12 Vantage S has future-classic writ large all over it.  Aston Martin’s smallest, lightest platform paired with their largest engine.  What could be better!? A stickshift option, that’s what! The 2017 model introduces a new seven-speed manual transmission choice to go along with the paddle-shifted variety.  New infotainment units across the board for all 2017 Astons will bring the V12 Vantage S bang up to date on the tech integration front too. Performance is shared across the six-speed automatic or the new stickshift: 3.9-seconds to 62-mph and a 206-mph top end. The slick new stick has a dogleg …

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Track Drive Review – 2016 Buick Regal GS – Flypaper Handling Is Now $3k Cheaper!

Autobahn Country Club might be my “Happy Place.” Recalling this track’s frisky bends, howling tires and full-throttle straightaways brings a smile instantly. Buick invited us to flog their performance flagship, the 2016 Regal GS, around the Illinois track and autocross to show off the machine’s latest updates: new colors and a price that is much more approachable. How approachable!?  A cool $3,300 off the base price for the GS takes the entry level to $35k versus near $38k before.  Three drivetrains continue for 2016: FWD auto, FWD manual and AWD automatic. The GS AWD we tested out still comes in …

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HD Road Test Review – 2015 Nissan JUKE Nismo RS Manual

Imagine a core group of Nissan GT-R engineers, drivers and designers set loose on the Nissan Juke NISMO. Task? Take the quickest and most performance-focused crossover, and make it truly track-tight in every way. That is how the Juke Nismo RS came into this world — with astounding results. The speed, style and drive experience of the Nismo RS is absolutely incredible versus its $28k competitors — and even versus pricier cars like the AMG GLA45, WRX or Mustang EcoBoost. The Juke Nismo RS is incredibly focused from first sitting in its racing Recaro hard-back bucket seats. A pair of …

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2015 Honda S660 31

2015 Honda S660 Is JDM Mid-Engine Targa With Turbo Triple Engine + 6-Speed Manual

Honda’s renaissance in sporty cars might be topped by the NSX supercar, but the effects of a sporty focus runs up and down the range. This K-car is a very positive step forward for Honda, even if it is primarily aimed at the Japanese Domestic Market. With style and LEDs like much pricier and more powerful sports cars, the S660 is the most affordable way into a mid-engine, open-top thrills. Weight distribution is 45-percent front, 55-percent rear, promising much of the light nose and nimble thrills of the Porsche Boxster for perhaps a quarter of the price. Power comes from …

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