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Win A 2015 Ford Mustang GT Designed By Chip Foose

What else do you really need to know?

[gallery ids="542247,542243,542244,542246,542248,542249,542250,542251,542252,542253,542254,542255"] For your chance to win: http://www.americanmuscle.com/mmd-foose-2015-mustang-giveaway.html
June 26, 2015 at 01:22 PM

2015 Lexus NX 200t | Reviewed

The perfect car for the Williamsburg yupster.

[gallery ids="542239,542236,542237,542238,542240"] Story by Will Sabel Courtney If you needed any further proof that the days of the big-box SUV are behind us, feast your eyes on the Lexus NX 200t. When the time came to toss their hat into the booming small-yet-stylish-sport-utility-vehicle category, Lexus management apparently served their designers a big plate of ‘shrooms and told them to go buck wild. And amazingly enough, the result came out looking pretty good. Lexus’s hourglass front grille seems just right on the NX’s face, and the creased edges Lexus’s designers favor these days look far more at home on the compact, upright NX then they do on the brand’s sedans or bulkier sport-utes. The whole look makes the NX 200t look like some sort of bionic boar. (In the best way.) The NX 200t also marks Lexus’s first (American) use of a turbocharged motor. It was probably inevitable, given how turbo fours are in vogue these days; thankfully, the effort produced a solid performer, serving up plenty of power with minimal lag. It did deliver a surprising amount of torque steer, though—rather odd, considering the NX I drove had all-wheel-drive. Speaking of driveline oddities—it’s time for Lexus to ditch the NX 200t’s six-speed automatic. Sure, it works fine, but seven or eight speeds have become the standard in the luxury-car classes. Six forward cogs seems dangerously outdated, especially in a brand-new car. It’s not like you don’t have an eight-speed lying around, Lexus—it’s sitting between the engine and the wheels in the RC F and the LS. Chrysler sells a $17,000 car with a nine-speed automatic. Your $35,000 one should at least try to keep up. The shift mode controller that toggles between “Eco,” “Normal” and “Sport” mode comes in handier than most similar gizmos: Sport does a solid job of keeping the engine closer to the turbo’s boost when driving, uh, vigorously; Eco smooths out the stop-and-go traffic herky-jerky; and Normal mode works quite nicely for, y’know, normal driving. If there’s a bug in the actual driving experience, it’s the passive-aggressive e-brake, which automatically activates when the car shifts into park. Ohhhh, it looks like you forgot to turn on the parking brake…I’ll just take care of that for you. No, NX. I just don’t want it on. The driving experience, all told, is as unremarkable as the exterior is futuristic—which is probably just what the average NX buyer’s looking for. What he/she does want, though, is comfort and technology—and like every Lexus, the NX is jammed full of both. The interior packs the usual new-era Lexus combination of modern, slightly busy design and a complex center console stretching from the dashboard to the armrest. (The shifter is also mounted unusually high, which may give fond memories to former seventh-gen Honda Civic Si and Porsche Carrera GT owners.) (Not that there are probably many people moving from a Carrera GT to a Lexus NX.) The NX also comes with the latest version of the infotainment control, which involves a laptop trackpad and a crosshair cursor. It remains frustrating; luckily, there are big buttons and physical switches for most of the major functions, such as the radio and the climate control. Still, when the nicest thing you can say about an infotainment system is “you don’t have to use it too often,” it may be time to switch things up. Odds are good NX owners will make extensive use of the trucklet’s surprisingly roomy interior, though. The acutely angled rear hatch cuts into the rear cargo bay a little harshly, but the remaining space is still more than enough to hold two couples’ bags for a week’s vacation. And both front and rear rows are roomy enough for a pair of yupsters. (Yuppie hipsters.) And that’s just who the NX is for: yupsters. It’s perfect for stylish urbanites who want all-weather ability, empowering ride height, and a luxury nameplate, but also need something small enough to maneuver into tight parking spaces and won’t guzzle gas the way Donald Trump goes through hairspray. I’m already seeing them popping up around Brooklyn with surprising frequency. The Lexus NX, really, is a car for the Williamsburg of 2015—it’s edgy, tech-centric, pricey, and perfect for the kinds of folks who like to stay on top of the latest trends without straying too far from the mainstream. Considering how quickly Williamsburg is growing…I can’t say Lexus has the wrong idea. Price as Tested: 44,148 0-60: 7.2 secs. (FWD model) Power: 235 hp, 258 lb.-ft. Gas Cash: 22 city, 28 hwy Miles Driven: 40
June 25, 2015 at 01:10 PM

2016 Chevrolet Camaro Photos Leak

Up briefly on Chevy's website the images have since been removed ahead of the official launch.

[gallery ids="542230,542231,542232,542233"] [Via Camaro6]
June 22, 2015 at 06:04 PM

2015 Ford Mustang GT Performance | Reviewed

A stick makes the ‘Stang even sweeter.

[gallery ids="542224,542225,542226,542227,542223"] Story and Exterior Photography by: Will Sabel Courtney Before you leave this page and start clicking through pages of back content—no, you’re not crazy, we already did a review of the 2015 Ford Mustang GT. It was ruby red, there were a whole bunch of pictures of it in the snow, and you can read the whole review here if you want. So why is there another new Mustang GT review popping up on 0-60? Well, two reasons: Performance Package, and stick shift. The former is a comprehensive package of performance goodies, all bundled together—additional braces and structural enhancements, harder-edged chassis tuning and suspension, high-performance tuning for the electronic safety systems, a 3.73 rear axle, 19-inch summer rubber on black-painted wheels, additional interior gauges, so on and so forth. (There’s a similar package for EcoBoost Mustangs, in case you’re too wimpy to handle a V8.) Ford bundles the whole group together and sells it for $2,499, which makes it the best bargain since the $2 Miller High Life’s at Freddy’s in Brooklyn. (Which may or may not be where I’m writing this.) (Don’t worry, I didn’t drive here.) Those two-and-a-half grand of upgrades transform the 2015 Mustang from a traditional muscle machine into an honest-to-God sports car. They bring out the platform’s natural balance; with the package, the Mustang reveals itself as a spectacular dance partner. You can dial in drift down to single degrees, or toss it around corners and feel it stick and grip like a spider worried about falling off a cliff. The Performance Package can’t make the Mustang any smaller, though. It may be the tiniest of the muscle cars, but it’s still a big hunk of metal—and with its basketball court-sized hood and tall, pedestrian impact-“friendly” hood, placing the front wheels becomes more a matter of faith than it does in many other sports cars. That said, no traditional sports car in the Mustang’s price class comes close to matching the grunt and glee of the ‘Stang’s 4,951cc V8. Which brings up reason number two why we’re talking about the Mustang GT again: the manual gearbox. The last Mustang reviewed here was saddled (ba-dump-bump) with a six-speed automatic. It was a fine transmission—it shifted smoothly when cruising but quickly and firmly when hauling ass, and it came with a manual mode and paddle shifters that held gears up to the redline—but it was still a torque-converter automatic transmission, subject to the same flaws and irritations as any slush box. It upshifted at the first opportunity, took a second to drop cogs under acceleration, and generally added an extra layer of insulation between the car and driver. Fine in a sedan, fine in an SUV. But not what a performance car deserves. Luckily, the stick shift takes care of that problem. It reminds you why manual transmissions are worth keeping around—the immediacy of the shifts, the feeling of control over the car, the sense of mastering a skill. The stick forces you to learn the car, to learn what speeds the engine likes to turn, to become familiar with its power and its eccentricities. The stick shift accentuates the V8’s high-revving character; you can ride the engine all the way to 7,000 rpm before it bounces off the limiter. The power builds and builds almost all the way there, making max hp right around 6,500; it pays to wind out the engine if you want to haul ass. The first five gears are tightly spaced—fifth gear is a direct drive ratio—but sixth gear is a true highway mile-crushing overdrive at 0.65:1. It’s a handy setup—so long as you remember how tall sixth is and don’t drop into it during a hot blast down the road. Those high-revving tendencies mean the 5.0 lacks in super-low-end grunt when compared to its Motown rivals; the torque curve isn’t quite a plateau, but more of a shield volcano, gingerly beginning to rise around 2,000 rpm and peaking between 4,000 and 5,000. But while this was way too apparent in the automatic model—its tendency to upshift early and often in order to keep the engine speed below 2,000 rpm left the GT feeling underpowered—the stick shift suffers from no such issue, since you can keep the revs right in the meat of the power band. In terms of style, well, all 2015 Mustangs look pretty much the same—which is no bad thing, considering the new body style is one of the baddest fastbacks on the planet. The biggest difference between this ‘Stang and the one reviewed here a couple months ago are the Performance Pack’s wheels, 20-spoke forged aluminum rims painted the color of Baaken Shale crude. Well, those wheels…and the banana-yellow triple-layer paint. Ford calls it “Triple Yellow,” although “Triple-Take Yellow” would be just as apt, considering the reactions it prompted. A truck driver yelled out complements as I passed him on the West Side Highway. A kid in Bed-Stuy bent down and kissed the hood at a stop light. And one friend of mine just started laughing when he saw it. Don’t plan on using this car as a getaway vehicle. Witnesses will be able to ID you. The best thing about the Mustang GT, though, is a number: 37,290. That’s how much it costs (in dollars, duh) for a 2015 Mustang GT with the Performance Package and the Recaro seats. At that price, it won’t have leather, it won’t have a touchscreen infotainment system, and it won’t have the fancy ambient lighting package that lets you choose between a ridiculous number of interior illumination colors. But it will have a 435 horsepower V8 and a six-speed manual gearbox. It will rip from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, do the quarter in 13 flat at 113 mph, pull 0.95 g on the skidpad. It will drift and burn rubber and tear up road and track alike. And it will look and sound the tits. Even if you load it up like my big banana [Phrasing! —Ed.], you still can’t crack the $50K barrier. But there’s no reason to spend even that much. If you love driving (and since you’re reading 0-60, I know you do), all the Mustang you’ll ever want is just $37,290 away. Price as Tested: $46,380 0-60: 4.5 secs. Power: 435 hp, 400 lb.-ft. Gas Cash: 15 city, 35 hwy Miles Driven: 200
June 18, 2015 at 02:35 PM

2015 Mercedes-Benz C300 4MATIC | Reviewed

“C” ain’t for cookie, but it’s good enough for me.

[gallery ids="542216,542218,542220,542217,542219"] *European Model Shown* Story By: Will Sabel Courtney Pop quiz, hot shot: What does the “C” in C-Class stand for? If you guessed “compact,” well, you’re wrong, but you might as well be right. The C-Class serves as Mercedes-Benz’s small sedan—and from its 1993 introduction until 2013, when the CLA-Class came rolling along, it also served as Mercedes’s entry-level model in the United States. But now that the CLA/A/GLA/B-Classes are holding down the bottom level of the Mercedes lineup, the C-Class is free to step onto higher rungs of the luxury latter. So for the all-new 2015 model, Mercedes didn’t hold back on piling on the bougie. And as a result, the new C-Class has turned out to be one hell of a li’l luxury car. Rolling up to my doorstep in C300 4MATIC Sport form (translated from Mercedes-ese: turbocharged four-cylinder, all-wheel-drive, sport suspension and more aggressive styling), the C-Class revealed itself to be a luxo-car jack of all trades. Stylish, but not flashy. Expensive, but not ostentatious. Sporty, but not hard-edged; comfortable, but not floaty. Quick, but not brutal. Efficient, but not pretentious. Advanced, but not futuristic. Oh, and a little pricey. My C300 rang in at $53,720. Dat’s a lotta scratch for a compact car. Especially one without even a V6. Of course, that’s with option after option…after option. If you can do without the self-steering radar-guided cruise control or the all-wheel-drive or the AMG sport suspension or the Burmeister sound system or the leather upholstery or any other option on the order form, you can drive out of the Mercedes-Benz dealership with a C-Class that costs less than $40,000. But remarkably, now matter how much you spend, every C-Class comes with the same gorgeous interior that looks every bit worth a pile of five hundred Benjamins. It’s sleek beyond belief, Art Deco-meets-Bauhaus rendered in leather and aluminum and black plastic. Dressed up in two-tone leather like my tester, it looks every bit the kind of guts that reestablish Mercedes-Benz as a world standard in luxury. Audi—you’re on notice. Even the display for the infotainment system, which looks a bit like a fungal growth in pictures, seems coherent and attractive in person—it frees up more dashboard space for controls and vents without compromising screen size, or pushing the dashboard into a convoluted, bloated shape. The organic-looking display isn’t the only new thing about the C-Class’s infotainment setup, though. As one of M-B’s newest models, the C-Class benefits from its latest generation of electronic goodies. The latest version of COMAND comes with redundant controls - a touch-sensitive trackpad stretching out, visor-like, over the now-familiar whirly-knob. I couldn’t figure out the purpose of having both—they seemed to accomplish the exact same tasks, as far as I could tell. Maybe Mercedes is just prepping us for the removal of the COMAND knob altogether. The latest user interface for COMAND, though, is a definite improvement; crystal-clear graphics make using it a snap, and there’s plenty of negative space on the screen to keep it from being eye-catchingly distracting. Outside, the C-Class looks every inch a Mercedes. In fact, it can be hard to tell just how many inches of Mercedes it is; spot one without other cars nearby to provide a sense of perspective, and it’s easy to mistake the C-Class for the larger S-Class. If anything, the C’s tidier proportions give it a more aggressive look than the Town Car-sized S—especially with the AMG styling package. The AMG-branded Sport package isn’t just a bigger three-pointed star and edgier front and rear fascia, though—the brakes and suspension both score upgrades as well. The sportier suspension sets a near-perfect balance between ride comfort and handling—it’s firm and planted in the turns, but soaks up bumps and imperfections like the shock absorbers were filled with spongecake. It’d probably be too soft for the track, but exactly zero people are going to be buying C300s for track use. That’s what the new C63 AMG is for, what with its choice of twin-turbo V8s making 469 or 503 horsepower, its dual-clutch transmission, its electronic limited-slip diff and all-around erection-inducing awesomeness. (The Sport package also includes several other cosmetic enhancements, including a really kicks flat-bottomed steering wheel. Just wanted to mention that. Hey, it’s my review, I’ll say what I want.) That said, while there may be AMG badging on the carpets, this ain’t an AMG. Nobody’s likely to confuse the turbo four under the hood for the rip-roarin’ one Affalterbach makes for the CLA45. That said, the C300 does go harder than its base-level slot in the C-Class lineup would make you think. The engine cranks out 241 horses and 274 lb-ft., which may not sound like much in an era of 707 horsepower muscle cars, but it’s enough to punch the C300 down the road with eyebrow-elevating intensity. And it turns in surprisingly good gas mileage; my C300 turned in an indicated 30.1 mpg over 900-plus miles of NYC gridlock, backroad hustling, and 75-plus mph highway hauling. The 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system proved itself completely unobtrusive—not surprising, considering I drove the car almost entirely in dry, summer weather. The only time it ever even manifested itself was to keep the car pointed straight during a wee bit of dirt road derbying. Still, while AWD is no excuse for snow tires in winter weather, it’s a nice perk for anyone who deals with crappy weather on a regular basis—and probably saves a few drivers’ bacon every year without them even knowing it. And since there doesn’t seem to be much of a fuel economy penalty (at least in this case), what the hell. But if the AWD aids the car’s agility just a little bit, the C-Class’s compact dimensions help out a ton. The car feels wonderfully-sized on the road—small enough to dart and dodge through traffic, but large enough to be taken seriously by everyone else. Or maybe that’s just the Mercedes-Benz badge. And—well, to be honest, there’s quite a bit of room inside. Certainly more than I expected, based on the car’s tidy size. Nobody’s going to confuse the C-Class for either of its big brothers in terms of interior volume, I grant you—that said, I was able to fit four adults inside pretty comfortably. It involved moving the driver’s seat closer to the wheel than I normally like it, but it wasn’t unpleasant. I know. I was shocked. So, bottom line: The C300 is one hell of a starter luxury car. Nicely sized, good-looking inside and out, packed with technology (some you need and some you don’t, IMHO), and made by one of the best brands in the biz working at the top of their game. If you came to me and asked for a recommendation for a $50,000 car, the C-Class would be the first name out of my mouth. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go try and beg Mercedes to let me drive the C63. Price as Tested: $53,720 0-60: 6.4 secs. Power: 241 hp, 273 lb.-ft. Gas Cash: 24 city, 31 hwy Miles Driven: 900
June 15, 2015 at 04:20 PM

2016 Nissan Maxima SR | Reviewed

The Nissan Maxima doesn't do “conventional."

[gallery ids="542210,542208,542209,542211,542212"] Story By: Will Sabel Courtney Never has, never will (unless Nissan’s product planners take a nasty wallop on the head and undergo a serious personality shift)—and the 2016 Nissan Maxima keeps that trend going. It’s a family sedan—with styling straight out of Pacific Rim! It’s a sports sedan—with front-wheel-drive and a CVT! It’s an entry-level luxury sedan—made by the same people who build the Versa! Okay, the last one was a cheap shot. Part of the reason Nissan can get away with making such an unconventional sedan is that they already make so many other vehicles—often times doubling down in a category, with one conventional choice and one unusual one. Want a midsize SUV? There’s the manga-spec Murano or the Peoria-ready Pathfinder. Prefer a smaller SUV? There’s the regular Rogue or the jazzy Juke. And if you want a sedan that can carry four people with ease, there’s the average Altima or the madcap Maxima. At least, that’s the way it used to be. Nowadays, the Maxima sits a good half-segment above the Altima—mostly in price and content, but slightly in size, too. Nissan claims the Acura TLX is the Maxima’s most direct competitor; the Maxima’s really more like a fun version of the Toyota Avalon, but the TLX comparison isn’t out of line. Both cars are Japanese, priced around $40,000, aimed at people who have enough money to dip their toes into the luxury car market but not necessarily bound to the conventional luxury brands. They’d happily sacrifice a fancy badge for a little more room, a little more power and a lot more style. And style is what separates the Maxima from pretty much everything else on the market. Nissan’s designers went down to Pensacola, Florida to find inspiration from the Blue Angels’ F/A-18 fighters; apparently, the designers have never heard of Pinterest. but I digress. The 2016 Maxima may not be able to pull six G’s, but with its low-slung floating roof, wide rear haunches, and angry, air-sucking front end, it does look like it could hold its own in a dogfight with a MiG-29 for a few seconds longer than the average four-door sedan. Bottom line, you’re not gonna mistake this thing for an Accord in a parking lot. Dive beneath the skin, and the changes are a little less comprehensive than the Blade Runner skin might suggest—but Nissan still made changed plenty. The chassis is 25 percent stiffer than the previous-gem Maxima. The engine’s output is only up a few horses, but 61 percent of the engine is new. And yeah, that engine is still connected to the front wheels through a continuously-variable transmission—but the CVT’s been reworked with a new set of shift programming designed to keep you from hating it. Feather the throttle, and it acts like any old CVT, constantly maneuvering the ratio to find the ideal level of efficiency; push the throttle more than 38 percent down (don’t ask me how Nissan chose that number), though, and it turns into a synthetic eight-speed automatic with predefined fake gears. It seems like a gimmick, but it works like a charm. This is coming from a die-hard CVT hater, too; the Maxima’s Xtronic tranny slurs imperceptibly between ratios while loafing through city traffic, yet slams between faux gears in sporty driving as though ZF’s name were on the transmission case. It’s the first time I’ve driven a car with a CVT and not found myself wishing I could rip out the gearbox and jam something else in there. The front-wheel-drive layout—for decades, the kiss of death for any car with performance on its mind—doesn’t hold the Maxima back, either. There’s still a dash of torque steer at the car’s limits, but it’s negligible. Credit the car’s size, perhaps, or just Nissan’s (or the automotive industry as a whole’s) advances in lassoing the torque steer bronco, but Maxima drivers no longer need to fear having the steering wheel yanked from their hands when they introduce the accelerator to the carpet. Sports cars—whether they have two doors or four—are as much about turning as going, though. At the car’s launch, Nissan offered journalists a choice of all five trim levels (the Maxima doesn’t offer options anymore, just different trims); I responded by being That Guy and dashing over to claim the Maxima SR, the one with the sportier suspension tuning and specially-designed 19-inch tires. They’re gonna call it a four-door sports car, I’m gonna take the sportiest one. Spoiler alert: Nobody’s going to confuse the 2016 Maxima with a 911 GT3 from behind the wheel. (Or from any other perspective, I hope.) But the SR-trimmed Maxima holds a line just fine on twisty roads, staying balanced and planted even along pavement that had my co-driver reaching for the grab handle. I didn’t have a chance to push the car beyond six-tenths—Nissan only gave us enough time to touch Westchester County before turning back for downtown Manhattan, so there wasn’t a chance to hit the really fun roads—but odds are good that’s a tenth beyond where the average Maxima driver will push his or her car. But while the average Maximator probably won’t spend much time driving like they’re lapping the ‘Ring, they will be spending a ton of time in the driver’s seat—and Nissan’s given the car’s interior an update as dramatic as the one they applied to the outside. Two-tone upholstery (complete with contrasting Alcantara upholstery on the flat-bottomed steering wheel), contrasting stitching on the upholstery, diamond-quilted leather seats with NASA-spec memory foam inside, even an iDrive-like infotainment controller called “Display Commander” that looks straight out of a horology catalog—the 2016 Maxima’s guts are packed with standard and optional interior features that make it a comfy place to pass the miles. The entire center console is canted towards the driver (purportedly another inspiration from the designers’ day in Pensacola), and the gauge cluster comes with a tilting visor straight out of the 370Z. The whole interior comes across as a nice combination of luxury and sportiness—pretty much what you’d expect from the Maxima. Obviously, your features may vary, depending on which level of Maxima you choose. Even the basic S-level Maxima (starting at $32,410, tell your friends!) comes with navigation and keyless push-button start; the next-step SV adds on sonar and leather seats; then the SL adds a Bose stereo, smart cruise control (and a suite of assorted safety nannies), and a dual-pane moonroof. From there, the Maxima hierarchy splits; the SR adds on the aforementioned sport suspension and tires, along with a bougie interior, paddle shifters and a dynamics-control system for switching between shift modes and the like, while the top-trim Platinum forsakes the sporty stuff for a 360-degree camera system and powered memory seats, steering wheel, and mirrors. For what it’s worth, I’m glad I grabbed the SR. And if you’re thinking about a Maxima, I suggest you do the same. Price as Tested: $38,495 0-60: Pretty zippy Power: 300hp, 261 lb-ft Gas Cash: 22 city, 30 hwy Miles Driven: 40
June 08, 2015 at 05:44 PM

Gumball 3000 European Adventure

Experience the Gumball 3000 from inside the rally with Team AsianDate and AnastasiaDate.

[gallery ids="542201,542194,542199,542197,542196,542198,542202,542200,542195,542203"] Story By: Jonathan Millstein A street in Stockholm is filled with some of the most unique and colorful cars in the world. Walking amongst them is their drivers who share the same attributes; this is the starting grid to the Gumball 3000. It’s a sight thousands turn up to witness and hundreds of thousands are exposed to simply through #Gumball3000 before the green flag even drops on the annual rally. And while the rally has grown into an event known worldwide in its 17-year existence, and more recently through social media, it continues to cultivate intrigue as a brotherhood most will never have the means to join. As a journalist I’ve positioned myself squarely in the category of, “never having the means to join,” but was fortunate enough to receive a call to take part in the rally with the AsianDate and AnastasiaDate team. After retrieving this voicemail for the very first time I debated not returning the call. What could two dating sites I’ve never heard of have to do with the Gumball and were they really inviting me out of the blue? It all seemed too good to be true. Thankfully, I did return the call and while I was still unsure at the time as to why these sites were interested in the rally they were legitimately interested in having me join them, which I wasn’t going to pass up. I met up with the AsianDate and AnastasiaDate teams and their pair of ’69 Z/28 Chevrolet Camaros in Oslo, Norway, the first stop on the European leg. It was that evening at dinner that I learned our crew was running around 15 journalists and 30 support staff, our own little rally within the rally. While I was just joining the rest of the team already had a night or two, depending, and a day of driving together and the camaraderie was already clear. This sense of family is one that would engulf everyone on the rally; we were no longer spectators, but “Gumballers.” The next morning we would be traveling from Oslo to Copenhangen, Denmark and mark my first real chance to witness the whole rally. Riding four deep, primarily in Volvo SUV support cars, we met up with the pair of Camaros at the starting grid. Surrounded by spectators the Gumball entries would slowly roll out one by one giving the hoards of fans an extra rev here and there. We joined in a caravan with our Camaros and with Oslo in our rear view mirrors we were off, as quick as you enter a city on the Gumball you’re gone. Along the Norwegian countryside every overpass was filled with spectators waiting to see the cars, take photos and wave their home nation’s flag. It was this first portion of the drive I truly began to understand how much more depth there was to the rally than just “cool cars.” These people were fans, but of what? Sure a few celebs were taking part, but for the most part these were just people with nice cars or in our case journalists in rented Volvos. Yet at every bridge through an entire country people stood and waited and every time it gave me chills because in that moment we were a bit of a celebrity, a feeling that can't be replicated on a whim. This driving day brought us into Sweden en route to Denmark where we stopped at the Koenigsegg factory for lunch and a factory tour. However, it was immediately off the highway exiting for the factory I saw my first sign of police, for lack of a better word, harassment. A checkpoint on a slow curving exit in the middle of the afternoon provided no apparent cause for existence other than a show of force. As we made our way toward the factory which sits at the edge of a working private airport we were guided to the parking lot by fans walking that direction to get a look at the parking lot or, rather, makeshift car show that sprung up under a light drizzle. It was truly amazing how the fans always knew where we would be when I as a participant didn’t even know half the time. With only a half day under my belt my world was already all Gumball. My social media feeds were being flooded with images from the friends I’d already made along the way and my recommendations continued to suggest new friends on the rally. The appeal of the rally to online dating came into focus; Gumball participants and fans are incredibly Internet savvy. Additionally, the rally routinely spans numerous countries and continents so the idea of dating sites that connect people across those same borders makes perfect sense. That afternoon we crossed a border of our own and rolled into beautiful Copenhagen and it was immediately off to AnastasiaDate and AsianDate team family dinner; the Gumball doesn’t allow for time to rest. Seated at a long table of an Italian restaurant we swapped tales of the rally: casual encounters, car problems, arrests and tickets. The Gumball rally is like nothing I’ve experienced in that it is measured by its failures as much as it by its successes; it is at the end of the day an extreme sport that pushes the limits of cars and man. With a 12 hour driving day ahead of us we left dinner and headed to the official Gumball party that night, #GumballLife. "Gumballers" filled the Copenhagen club that could have been any club anywhere if not for the mass amounts of Gumball gear. Gumball attire was worn proudly at all times, a sort of varsity letter jacket that one earned. Additionally, the attire meant you made it. To your left or right at any given time could be a prince or multi-millionaire or Tony Hawk, but you were there so you were one of them. In an attempt to be semi-responsible it was a fairly short night, but one not short on laughs, champagne showers and Matthew Pritchard dancing on the bar. On very little sleep it was off to Amsterdam a drive which would include a 45 minute ferry ride to Germany just an hour in which was a welcome break from sitting in the car. In Germany the Gumball cars were forced into caravans of eight cars plus one German pace car to keep them in line since Germany doesn’t allow car rallies, a reasonable compromise it would seem. That is until about an hour down the road German authorities would shutdown the entire highway forcing all cars to exit through a rest stop. To be clear, a German police car was parked perpendicular across the two-lane highway creating bumper-to-bumper traffic and forcing Gumballers and civilians alike to exit. It was here they were checking all of the rally participant’s documents, a move I still can’t figure out why they didn’t do when they split off the cars into their groups at the border an hour earlier. Burnt out from the longest driving day of my life it was straight to the hotel for a quick rest, shower and back out to meet up with the team at the hotel restaurant before the final party. The venue was the entire covered courtyard of the Conservatorium hotel in an upscale neighborhood of Amsterdam. More spread out than the previous evenings event this had more of a cocktail party feel until Afrojack took to the stage and was joined by Martin Garrix. However, as quick as it felt like it got going it was over, but this is the Gumball, if people want to party they will party. With that the remaining revelers moved to one of the hotel bars and kept going for more drinks and more Pritchard dancing on tables. The following day most would board Gumball Air to finish the rally in the U.S., but for me that would be where I’d regrettably have to part ways with my Gumball family. As I returned to my room and drew the curtains closed I looked out and saw the sun rising on my first Gumball, #GumballLife.
June 03, 2015 at 02:16 PM

2015 Mini Cooper S Hardtop Four Door | Reviewed

Four-door fun!

[gallery ids="542187,542188,542189,542190"] Story and Photos By: Evan ‘Evo’ Yates Exterior: Call me crazy, but I actually like the looks of the four-door better than the coupe. Maybe it was the Moonwalk Gray Metallic hue which has a nice hint of blue and green, the black bonnet stripes or even the 17-inch Roulette spoke wheels but I honestly couldn’t get enough of this MINI’s shell. And the fact that those two extra doors and 6.3 inches make this vehicle practical for a person like myself to own (I always have more than one passenger) is just icing on the cake. The ‘halo’ style headlights and ram-air style hood were also appreciated. Honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing on the exterior of this fine little ride. Interior: The sports seats wrapped in Satellite Gray leather are comfortable and supportive while still being worthy of a daily driver. The panoramic sunroof was a pleasure and made the vehicle seem even bigger inside. The dash and door panels are signature MINI boasting fun and creativity. The rear seating area is actually quite accommodating as I actually had the opportunity to have an adult in the rear and (at least sitting behind the passenger seat) he was quite cozy. A/V: Although I’m not entirely sold on the massive circular display, I do enjoy the LED lighting that surrounds it, reconfiguring for various changes in the temperature, driving style or other fun adjustments. The harman/kardon premium audio system itself wasn’t exactly meant for all music types but it does have a sweet spot where its acoustic output is stellar. Performance: The MINI Cooper S is flat-out a fun car to drive. The 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder powerplant is quite impressive especially mated to the 6-speed Getrag manual transmission. There’s plenty of low-end torque to snap you through the gears while remaining pleasant when it needs to be. MINI refers to the handling and braking as “Go-Kart” and it certainly deserves the title as this attractive little four-door shines around the curves and brakes effortlessly on command. Floss Factor: If smaller vehicles are your thing, then this bad little beast may be the hottest thing smokin’. You can’t beat the curb appeal and attitude it possesses while delivering the practicality of four doors. Damage: $34,350.00 Power: 189 hp, 207 lb-ft 0-60: 6.8 sec Gas Cash: 27 MPG (combined)
June 01, 2015 at 05:18 PM
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