Category Archives: Sports Car

The Lexus LC500h is a Supercar that is Eco Friendly and available to the Masses*.

The Lexus LC500h
Lexus LC500 Coupe
*If the Masses have a hundred grand to spend.

Don’t tell anyone that the LC500h saves trees and drops panties at the same time!

 

 

 

Chef Matt in the Navigators Seat of the Lexus LC500h
Chef Matt in the Navigators Seat of the Lexus LC500h

Lexus provided us a pre-production 2018 LC500h for a weekend in early September to attend the Radnor Concours d’Elegance and drive in their fundraising road rally for Thorncroft Equestrian Center. A drive that took us on 90 miles of bucolic Chester County roads, not only a picturesque Pennsylvania countryside, it was an opportunity to test out this “High-Performance Lexus.” Myself and co-driver Chef Matt enjoyed every moment behind the wheel.

Lexus LC500H Hybrid badge.Surprises were many, mostly the attention this coupe got where ever we went, especially women. Women coohed over it, and when offered an opportunity to get the driver’s seat they practically leaped at the chance to get in and caress the soft interior surfaces. Never have I driven a car that so enthralled women of all ages. I kept kidding my co-driver, a single guy, that this was his big chance! We would catch glimpses of people photographing the car where ever we went. Yes, a Lexus can bring that much attention.

 

Stock photo of the Lexus LC500H from the Lexus media site.
Stock photo of the Lexus LC500H from the Lexus media site.

The attention started when my original co-driver found out a wedding conflicted with the rally and he could not join me. I posted a stock photo of the Lexus LC500h on my Facebook Page, asking if any of my friends were interested in spending the day driving around Philadelphia’s fox hunting country. One buddy responded, “If that is the car, count me in, I want to go.”  Though his idea of a Rally was speeding across back roads at breakneck speed, like, so many internet videos show.  I assured him it would be a relaxing and fun ride in the countryside, and We would get a meal out of the deal. “Any meal I don’t have to cook is one I will enjoy.” The classic line of anyone who spends their days in a kitchen for a living.

 

 

The two of us met up with about 125 other participants at the Radnor Hunt Club. A wide range of cars from classic Rolls, compete with the mustard to old farts in Aston Martins (who kept getting in our way but won the Rally.)  Even another Lexus, and a bright RED Infiniti G series, whose owners we became friends with during the weekend.

 

The Lexus LC500H an Aston Martin and Infiniti all lined up and ready for the Radnor Concours Road Rally.
The Lexus LC500H an Aston Martin and Infiniti all lined up and ready for the Radnor Concours Road Rally.

It did not take long before we quickly found that our car was both adored and somewhat sneered at. “That is some High-Performance Lexus,” said one upper-crust passer-by. A hybrid called High Performance, well shows what great styling can do! Chef Matt also quickly found out that the LC was a chick magnet. Watching an introvert struggling to talk to pretty girls was painful, and sometimes more so when you could see the ladies were more interested in the beautiful road machine he was driving, than the man with incredible culinary talents.

First of all  How it Looks.

Lexus 500H Rear view, lots of shapely lines.
Lexus 500H Rear view, lots of shapely lines.

This two-door coupe has muscular lines from the front fenders to the rear haunches. It seems like an oxymoron to hear the word muscle when the car has hybrid badging.

While guys, from tatted and bearded Harley riders to conservative mainline types gave it thumbs up, and as we found out, it really seduced the ladies. And once inside they really connected to the Alcantara suede door panels and heated and cooled leather seats. Lexus has always known that marketing to the fairer sex is a smart business decision, and this car will have a lot of women becoming owners of their vehicles.

Inside

The very clean dash on the Lexus LC500H
The very clean dash on the Lexus LC500H

OK, this is a two-seat coupe, and yes it has four seats. And in those seats, you felt in control of the vehicle as a driver and enveloped as a front seat passenger.  Do not expect people to sit in the rear seats, as no adult of any proportion is going to fit back there, or even contort themselves to get into and out of the rear seats. But that is entirely OK! The front seats contoured the body like an elegant glove, holding you in comfort as well as style.

 

The LC500's Trunk is not especially big in the first place, and the hybrids battery takes up additional room.
The LC500’s Trunk is not especially big in the first place, and the hybrid’s battery takes up additional room.

Luggage, who needs a lot of baggage? The boot is limited to a couple of overnighters and a suit bag. No golf club bags, and honestly I had to lay a half gallon of scotch down on its side because it was too tall.

Powertrain & Driveability

While you can get this model in a V8. The one we enjoyed was a 3.5-litre V6 with multistage hybrid technology attached. This power plant may not be what you think of when you think of when you think of the other products in Toyota’s family of hybrids. Lexus was one of the first to put the hybrid engine in a vehicle other than a four-door sedan, with the RX. Now it makes perfect sense to put it in this luxury sports coupe. We experienced plenty of power, and excellent fuel mileage to boot.

With this LC500H you have all the options to make whatever noise you want, or NOT! A hybrid powerplant makes that sound, which you sometimes hear in this vehicle in eco and comfort mode (I call it chewing up logs with a dull blade.) Put the LC500h in one of the two sports mode and step on it, and it takes off like a bat out of Gehenna. Or just put it in EV mode and quietly move it out of the driveway. As sometimes you want to make an elegant exit without anyone hearing the exhaust growl of a performance car.

Lexus LC500H Center Console includes an integrated assistance handle for the passenger.
Lexus LC500H Center Console includes an integrated assistance handle for the passenger.

Fuel Mileage, this is a Hybrid, set it in eco mode and get top fuel mileage, like in the mid-30’s. Set it in Sport Plus and it is all power, and still, you will not be draining the tank!  All the while looking amazing and returning fuel consumption numbers that were impressive.

The classic Hold on for your life handles in this car, aka the O’Crap Handles are there for the front seat passenger.who is hardly forgotten. And since Lexus takes performance and handling seriously, the driver has control of the comfortable steering wheel and the shift paddles and fed constant updates from a well-balanced display screen as well as aided by the touchpad controlled display topping the center stack.

 

Speaking of screens:

 

We could have watched the transition on the dash display time and time again, as the image moved aside bringing more information forward. While the center display controls everything from HVAC to Audio to monitoring the performance of the Hybrid system. And when you want it to display a more extensive map, or set up the seats for heating and cooling, it is a touch of the screen away. We experienced a few lapses in the GPS display on our suburban Philadelphia adventure, with sometimes not displaying the roads we were on, this we chalked up to the car being a pre-production model. While it could have been operator error, and probably was, it would be nice for it to pop back after some time and tell you, hey, I have stopped working at your request.

Chef Matt and the Lexus LC500H
Chef Matt and the Lexus LC500H

Think Sports Car for those who want a supercar, but may not want to spend the several hundred grand. While this puppy tops out at that $100K mark it is still well priced when you consider what you are buying. A lot of technology in a very, very attractive package. One of the most beautiful Lexus body styles we have ever seen. While you may look at competing brands, this one has a vast dealer network as well as a strong history of brand dependability that comes with it.

Author William West Hopper with the 2018 Lexus LC500H.
Author William West Hopper with the 2018 Lexus LC500H.

Words and photos by William West Hopper.

We were given the use of the Lexus LC500H for a week to use at the Radnor Concours. No other compensation was provided, and all event, travel, and other fees were paid out of our own pocket.
For more information or to test drive for yourself the Lexus LC500H or any of their other vehicles, please visit your local Lexus dealership.
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Summer Calls for a Topless Supercar, McLaren 570S Spider to the Rescue.

McLaren 570S Spider top down on the open road.
McLaren 570S Spider top down on the open road.

The new McLaren 570S Spider combines the exceptional dynamics and the refinement of the 570S Coupé with the extra exhilaration of open-air motoring.  Hand-assembled in the United Kingdom, the 570S Spider is the most attainable McLaren Spider ever.

 

McLaren 570S Spider Retractable TopThe carbon-fiber, mid-engine, two-seat, rear-wheel drive 570S Spider is the third body style in McLaren’s Sports Series. McLaren’s integrated, two-piece retractable hardtop that when lowered delivers an even more immersive and exhilarating driving experience for the 570S Spider.

 

Supercar Performance
The 570S Spider is a luxury sports convertible with supercar acceleration from standstill to 100km/h (62mph) in 3.2 seconds and to 200km/h (124mph) in just 9.6 seconds. The combination of lightweight carbon fiber construction and an incredibly potent 3.8-litre, twin-turbocharged McLaren V8 engine, means that the 570S Spider has an impressive power-to-weight ratio and is more powerful and lighter than the competition.

McLaren 570S Spider transmission selector and launch control.
McLaren 570S Spider transmission selector and launch control.

McLaren’s twin-turbocharged M838TE engine positioned mid-chassis produces 570PS at 7,400rpm and torque of 600Nm between 5,000rpm and 6,500rpm.  In combination with a rapid yet smooth seven-speed seamless-shift gearbox featuring Launch Control technology.  Top speed is 328km/h (204mph) with the roof in place – identical to the 570S Coupé – and even with the roof lowered.

Exceptional Body Control
McLaren employs racecar-style, double-wishbone suspension all-round, with steel springs, twin-valve adaptive dampers and anti-roll bars calibrated to the same exacting specification as the 570S Coupé.  Body control is exceptional and the overall drive incredibly pure and rewarding, while retaining impressive comfort. Accessing the Active Dynamics Panel adds another level of personal choice, allowing the driver to choose from Normal, Sport or Track modes, for progressively softer or firmer suspension.  This versatility ensures that the Spider is as at ease in everyday use as it is on a race track.

 

McLaren 570S Spider
McLaren 570S Spider

Electro-hydraulically assisted power steering, Carbon-ceramic brakes, and Pirelli P ZERO™ CORSA tires are standard, while the latest chassis software both enhances the driving experience and increases safety.  Developed originally for Formula 1™, Brake Steer aids cornering and reduces understeer by subtly applying braking force to the inside rear wheel as the driver turns into a corner.   Performance Traction Control calibrated by McLaren provides precise control in extreme situations, while the ESC (Electronic Stability Control) system includes a ‘Dynamic’ mode with reduced intervention and increased ‘driftability’, allowing drivers to enjoy the 570S Spider’s dynamic potential with confidence.

 

 

McLaren's entry Level Supercar the 570S Spider A Cabriolet
McLaren’s entry Level Supercar the 570S Spider A Cabriolet

Topless Style, Elegant as the Coupe’
Electrically operated from the driver’s seat using one simple control, the roof folds effortlessly to stow beneath a beautifully crafted tonneau cover that rises automatically to accommodate the lowered panels and returns to its closed position with the assistance of soft-close technology.   The roof can be opened or closed in just 15 seconds, at vehicle speeds of up to 40km/h (25mph

 

McLaren 570S Spider Technical Specifications

Engine configuration M838TE engine, 3.8 litre twin-turbo V8, 3,799cc
Drivetrain layout Longitudinal mid-engined, RWD
Power PS (bhp/kW @ rpm 570 (562/419) @ 7,500
Torque Nm (lbs ft) @ rpm 600 (443) @ 5,000-6,500
Transmission 7-Speed seamless-shift gearbox (SSG)
Suspension Independent adaptive dampers, dual wishbones with Normal, Sport and Track modes
Steering Electro-hydraulic; power-assisted
Brakes Carbon Ceramic Discs (F: 394mm R: 380mm) with aluminium brake calipers (6-piston front; 4-piston rear)
Wheels (inches) Front: 8J x 19; Rear: 10J x 20
Tyres F: 225/35 R19   R: 285/35 R20
Length, mm (inches) 4,530 (178.3)
Wheelbase, mm (inches) 2,670 (105)
Height, mm (inches) 1,202 (47.3)
Width, with mirrors, mm (inches) 2,095 (82.5)
Width, mirrors folded, mm (inches) 2,045 (80.5)
Width, without mirrors, mm (inches) 1,930 (76)
Track (to contact patch centre), mm (inches) Front: 1,673 (65.9); Rear: 1,618 (63.7) 
Lightest dry weight, kg (lbs) 1,359 (2,895)
DIN Kerb weight, kg (lbs) [fluids + 90% fuel] 1,498 (3,302.5)
Luggage capacity (litres) Front: 150 l; Tonneau: 52 l


Performance Data

ACCELERATION
0 -60mph 3.1 seconds
0-100 km/h (0-62mph) 3.2 seconds
0-200 km/h (0-124mph) 9.6 seconds
0-400 m / ¼ mile 11.0 seconds
Maximum speed (roof raised/roof lowered) 328 km/h (204 mph)/ 315 km/h (196 mph)
200 – 0 km/h (124mph – 0) braking 5.3 seconds/130 metres
100 – 0 km/h (62mph – 0) braking 3.2 seconds/32 metres

 

Customizing the McLaren

McLaren 570S Spider's cockpit is clean focusing the driver on driving.
McLaren 570S Spider’s cockpit is clean focusing the driver on driving.

Customers can choose from standard six-way-adjustable or optional eight-way adjustable electric memory seats, with luxurious Nappa leather or performance-oriented Alcantara® trim available at additional cost. Lightweight carbon-fiber-shelled sports seats, the same as those fitted to the McLaren P1™, can also be specified.

Three new exterior colors celebrate the Spider’s introduction, with Curacao Blue, Vega Blue, and Sicilian Yellow joining the existing Sports Series palette and giving Spider customers a choice of 20 colors in total.  The new hues dramatically showcase the complex forms of the aluminum bodywork and unique-in-class dihedral doors, particularly when combined with added visual impact with an optional Dark Palladium grey contrast finish on the roof, windscreen pillars and rear buttresses.

An all-new, 10-spoke lightweight forged alloy wheel design (19-inch front, 20-inch rear) has been crafted as an option for the new 570S Spider. For further differentiation, a new brake caliper color, Liquid Black, is also available.

  

Summer 2017 Availablity
The new McLaren 570S Spider will make its public debut on 29th June at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, West Sussex, UK. The 570S is available to order now from more than 80 McLaren retailers worldwide, and the first cars are scheduled to be delivered to customers in August. Each 570S Spider is hand-assembled at the McLaren Production Centre in Woking, England.

 

McLaren 570S Spider, a two-seater supercar.
McLaren 570S Spider, a two-seater supercar.

About McLaren Automotive:
McLaren Automotive is a British manufacturer of luxury, high-performance sports, and supercars, located in Woking, Surrey. For the past 30 years, McLaren has pioneered the use of carbon fiber in vehicle production,

and since introducing a carbon chassis into racing and road cars with the 1981 McLaren MP4/1 and 1993 McLaren F1 respectively, McLaren has not built a car without a carbon fiber chassis.

McLaren Automotive Partners             
To support the development, engineering, and manufacture of its range of innovative and highly acclaimed sports cars, McLaren Automotive has partnered with world leading companies to provide specialist expertise and technology including, AkzoNobel, Kenwood, Pirelli, Richard Mille and SAP.

Visit cars.mclaren.com for more details.

McLaren's entry level 570S Spider.
McLaren’s entry level 570S Spider.

This post has been generated from the McLaren Press Release using their photographs.

Side Notes:

  • All the high-performance dynamic attributes and refinement of 570S Coupé with the added exhilaration of open-air driving
  • Third body style in McLaren’s Sports Series product family, alongside Coupé and GT
  • World debut at Goodwood Festival of Speed, UK, June 29 – July 2, 2017
  • Retractable hardtop using technology is proven in McLaren 650S and 675LT Spiders
  • Just 46kg weight premium over 570S Coupé and structural rigidity unchanged
  • Roof takes just 15 seconds to open or close, at vehicle speeds of up to 40km/h (25mph)
  • Electrically operated, glazed rear window/wind deflector
  • Unique-in-class combination of carbon fiber construction, mid-engined drivetrain layout, and McLaren dihedral doors
  • Extended rear spoiler is 12mm higher than Coupé’s to compensate change in body shape
  • 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged McLaren V8 engine with seven-speed, seamless-shift gearbox produces a class-leading 570PS and 600Nm
  • Acceleration from 0-100km/h (0-62mph) in 3.2 seconds and 328km/h (204mph) top speed are identical to 570S Coupé. Top speed with roof down is 315km/h (196mph)
  • First 400 Spiders built will be launch edition models, following success of 720S launch edition
  • Available to order now, priced from £164,750 (UK)

    Take to the open road with the McLaren 570S Spider, orders being taken Summer 2017.
    Take to the open road with the McLaren 570S Spider, orders being taken Summer 2017.

Jaguar Redefines Marketing, A Movie Featuring You As The Star Along With The Car

Jaguar offers a full line of vehicles from sports cars to sedans to an SUV.
Jaguar offers a full line of vehicles from sports cars to sedans to an SUV.

Jaguar is taking to a big stage to let consumers know that their brand, an iconic heritage one, offers a modern line of cars that are very different from just a few years ago. This stage is not one of repetitive prime-time television ads, nor is it annoying pop up ads on your digital device. What Jaguar has done is put you in charge of their promotion, using the digital magic of the social share of a short video.

 

Jaguar features the iconic "The Leaper" mascot of the brand since 1938,
Jaguar features the iconic “The Leaper” mascot of the brand since 1938,

And here is where Jaguar got smart, they know that since this movie features you, you will share it on your social media channels. You become a star of a classic British Spy film, the talented British spy, the only thing you have to do is prove that you can drive. And what better to drive, then the iconic British Automobile, the Jaguar, in this case their new XE.

 

Jaguar worked with Facebook in partnership where you can make one of the scenes your personal Facebook Profile photo, a first for both companies. Jaguar is sure you will share it to your friends. And 85% of those that attend the Art of the Performance Tour do make the video and then share it via their social channels.

The Story Board for Jaguar's short film about you the British Spy and the perfect car.
The Story Board for Jaguar’s short film about you the British Spy and the perfect car.

Automobile companies have used ride and drive events as a way to showcase their cars, once you leave, all you have are memories, and a trinket. Any selfie images would be self-produced, and would not be as compelling as what #TheAudition creates with both you and the Jaguar. The process is simple, you review the story board, the script, practice facial expressions you will use in the scenes, head over to hair and makeup (yes you get made up like a movie star) and then head onto the sound stage where the director gives you the cues and gets you on camera. With rave reviews from the staff, like any star would expect!

Jaguar XE models ready to be taken out on the autocross course.
Jaguar XE models ready to be taken out on the autocross course.

Off you go to drive the cars on the street and an autocross course while they create the film. Stitching you into an already edited film, and you never end up on the cutting room floor. In just a few minutes you receive an email with a link to your film, and of course the Jaguar.com website.

 

Jaguar gives each attendee a key chain with the Jaguar mascot as a memento of The Art of Performance Tour.
Jaguar gives each attendee a key chain with the Jaguar mascot as a memento of The Art of Performance Tour.
Jaguar uses an RFID bracelet to identify visitors for their movie production.
Jaguar uses an RFID bracelet to identify visitors for their movie production.

Take a moment in the lounge to view your film on your own device and enjoy some cucumber sandwiches and proper English tea. While there you have a chance to access the Jaguar.com build site and talk with products specialists who are available to answer questions. One last digital moment is a photo with “the Leaper” Jaguar’s mascot, a Jaguar has taken the simple mass market demonstration event to the next level with the use of technology, what you do not see is the technology that makes it all happen. It starts with an RFID bracelet that you wear throughout the event. This tag identifies you and is attached to everything you do from each of your film scenes, your actual drive experience, to your memento photo and exit survey. This is what makes sure your digital content always has you in it.

 

Jaguar's Sports Car the F-Type and X-E Sedan.
Jaguar’s Sports Car the F-Type and X-E Sedan.

In talking with Kim McCullough Vice President, Marketing for Jaguar land Rover North America LLC, she spoke of how compelling this program has become bringing an event focused younger consumer to the brand with a very good return on investment. Jaguar had doubled their under 35 audience, as well as brought in many buyers new to the brand, looking for vehicles different from the traditional luxury and status cars that have become the mass-market norm. The Audition has exposed 92 million people via social sharing of this personal video where they co-star with the Jaguar in an action packed short film that is classically British, and ends in “Feed My Cat” which is a metaphor for the consumer to connect to the Jaguar brand.  And it turns

 

William West Hopper with the Jaguar Mascot
William West Hopper with the Jaguar Mascot.

Words and Images by William West Hopper

Note: This review was done during the open consumer days of Jaguar’s Art of Performance Tour. Mr. Hopper had the opportunity to spend time with Jaguar employees during this visit and was not given anything that was not available to the general public who attended.

A Tale of Two Sporty Cars Under $30K

 

2016 Subaru BRZ Hyper Blue Edition
2016 Subaru BRZ HyperBlue Edition

As the summer came to a close, both a Hyundai Veloster RSpec and a Subaru BRZ Hyper-Blue Series were delivered back-to-back, giving me a chance to compare these two under $30K 6-Speed Manual 4-cylinder powered sports cars. Each very different vehicles, both aimed at the younger enthusiast oriented driver, and quite available to folks of an older age.

The 2016 Hyundai Veloster R-Spec in Pacific Blue. A lot of fun for very little dough!
The 2016 Hyundai Veloster RSpec.

While both were blue in color, each one was as different as their azure color. Both have plenty of power from 4-cylinder engines. The BRZ has a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter premium fueled Boxer Engine that Subaru is so well known for, the Veloster a smaller 1.6 dual-spool turbo (axis) that runs on regular fuel. Both 4-seaters, the BRZ a classic 2-door with a trunk, and the Veloster an unconventional 3-door hatchback. Both share limited rear passenger headroom, the Veloster offers leg room for the rear seat passengers, where in the BRZ to provide back seat legroom involves taking it from those in the front.

 

Onboard technology; the Veloster has a multi-display dash easily controllable from the steering wheel, and a 7” center stack screen that provides information on vehicle operation as well as the audio system.  The BRZ is very driver-centric, with the tachometer being front and center, and the speedometer off to the side, but also shown digitally so you know, that you are exceeding the speed limit. The BRZ provided basic info, mileage, mpg’s, but not a complete suite of information like the Veloster’s cluster did, which provided on both the dash and center display. Both vehicles featured all the latest from side-curtain airbags, backup camera, and very visible LED lighting.

 

Interior design, both used materials that were nice to the touch, with a layout that was focused on the driver, and bolstered sports seats. In layout and design, the BRZ was more race-car inspired, while the Veloster is more mainstream as a sporty vehicle. Both cars have touch screens in the center stack, the Veloster required less distraction from the road to use it, mostly due to the having the controls on the steering wheel, while the 2016 BRZ did not have controls on the steering wheel, the 2017 model does. I find having those controls located on the steering wheel helped the driver keep their eyes on the road.

So where is the difference in the two BLUE Sports Cars? Design, Price, and Drivability, would be the answer. Design: BRZ is the more classic sports car with the long hood, with an interior that favors the driver and front seat passenger with small cargo space. While the Veloster design is like a drop of water in the wind, with interior space for driver and all passengers and cargo area that can be expanded by putting the rear seats down. The BRZ wins for a sexy sleek design, while the Veloster wins for functionality.

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Drive Train: Veloster RSpec features a 1.6 turbo that runs on regular fuel, which gives it plenty of pep to a six speed transmission which gives it plenty of control, and front wheel drive, which can be a bit temperamental, (tire spin). The BRZ has a powerful 2.0 Boxer premium fueled engine, that shifts through the 6 speed manual with ease. The rear wheel drive is more of a conventional enthusiast sports car.  While I liked both cars for performance, I felt more exhilarated by the Veloster in performance.

On-board Technology: Both feature center mounted touch screens, the BRZ’s 6.2” provides basic infotainment information and connects to your phone for Bluetooth operation, while the Veloster’s 7” provides infotainment and vehicle operation, as well as Bluetooth telephony. Both dashboard clusters feature analog gauges, the Veloster’s info screens give more info than you need. The BRZ features a basic digital speed display, odometer, fuel economy, nothing fancy.

Price: Veloster is the lower priced of the two with a delivered price of $22425. BRZ HyperBlue Series at $28,485. Both have lesser and higher cost options, depending on how you equip the vehicle. Long term value, insurance value, and deprecation have not been considered, but for just the numbers, the Veloster wins this by rolling off the dealer’s lot six-thousand dollars cheaper.

Drivability:  While neither would be a choice for a long road trip, due to their tight sports suspension and race-style bucket seats. Both are a lot of fun to drive with the 6 speed, and even with 4-cylinder engines have plenty of power band for routine driving. The BRZ has a noisier cabin, with road and gear noise from the mechanicals. The Veloster was a bit smoother ride with a quieter cabin. My choice here would be the Veloster, even though the driver’s seat was uncomfortably tight on my derriere’.

Flash and Noticeability, the BRZ in the Hyper-Blue Series trim with black spoke wheels drew plenty of attention where ever it went. The Veloster slipped by with a bit more obscurity. BRZ for the win here.

Over all, both are a lot of fun to drive. If you are a tight-wad like I am, the Veloster is my choice. But the BRZ has a lot to offer, though at a higher cost.

Words and images by William West Hopper

Subaru BRZ, A Driver’s Sports Car for Under $30K.

 

2016 Subaru BRZ Hyper Blue Edition
2016 Subaru BRZ Hyper-Blue Edition

Pulling into a driveway with the 2016 Hyper-Blue Edition Subaru BRZ  the first response was, “That’s a pretty car, what is it?”  I said, “A Subaru!”  “I thought Subaru’s are for trekking in the woods” was the surprised response.

While we Americans have long had an image of the Subaru brand as being one that is utilitarian, sturdy, and dependable with its Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, and boxy design, many are not aware that the brand is so much more, and this 2016 Hyper-Blue Series Subaru BRZ is a great example that not all Subies are set for rough roads.

 

Subaru SVX, one of the early sports cars of the brand.
Subaru SVX, one of the early sports cars of the brand. (photo credit, unknown)

 

While you may not think of Subaru as high-performance muscle cars, it has a long history of sporty cars, and even “sport trucks,” think the original Brat from the 1970’s or the SVX of the 1990’s, not to mention the ever popular rally and autocross favorite the WRX, which is often seen modified and street racing.

 

 

Fraternal Twins, Scion FRS & Subaru BRZ.
Fraternal Twins, Scion FRS & Subaru BRZ. (photo credit Sofyan Bey, Redline Reveiws)

The BRZ shares a platform and design with the Toyota 86 (previously known as the Scion FRS,) in a classic sports car shape. These are the collaboration by two automakers, bringing the best of each brand to the build. Subaru’s legendary Boxer Engine, Toyota’s long history of sports cars, combined into a sporty riding and handling coupe,

 

 

 

 

Subaru BRZ Hyper Blue Edition features stitching on the steering wheel, and seats that match the exterior paint.
Subaru BRZ Hyper Blue Edition features stitching on the steering wheel, and seats that match the exterior paint.

The BRZ is a young auto enthusiast’s car, it could be considered pretty lean for most modern auto consumers. While it has plenty of standard features, this car is a driver’s car, and really nothing more, creature comforts are basic. The BRZ is noisy, you hear not only the road, and what sounds like a number of the mechanicals from the engine and transmission, though in a good way, almost to the level of a decades earlier import mini-pickup truck noisy.

 

 

Subaru BRZ touch screen info center is not as intuitive as it could be.
Subaru BRZ touch screen info center is not as intuitive as it could be.

While most American driver’s will just turn up the radio to drown out any unwanted sounds, the BRZ’s radio is not an audio enthusiasts dream, and the touch screen controls were hard to use, and required you to take your eyes off the road. This has been changed with the 2017 model by putting audio controls on the steering wheel.

Subaru BRZ rear seats are in name only, leg room is not optimal.
Subaru BRZ rear seats are in name only, leg room is not optimal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the BRZ has seats for four, but best fits two, a driver and a passenger, as the back seats have almost no legroom, fine for packages, but little else.

Subaru BRZ trunk space can be enlarged by putting the rear seat down.
Subaru BRZ trunk space can be enlarged by putting the rear seat down.

 

 

Trunk space is small though adequate for a simple over night trip,  don’t plan on using it to load up at the big box store, that is what the Outback or Forester is for.

 

 

 

 

 

Agility is a big part of the fun of the BRZ, steering inputs are immediate and put you exactly where you aim the wheel.

Subaru BRZ has a short throw 6-speed manual shift, though an automatic is an option.
Subaru BRZ has a short throw 6-speed manual shift, an automatic is an option.

With short shifts, that are very solid and intentional, it did take a while to learn where each of the six-manual-speed shifts were located.  Revving the 2 liter normally aspirated Boxer engine was not a problem when you missed a shift, (it sounded great) and was very forgiving. This street racer was quite secure on the road, and provided an economical 29 mpg on premium (91 or higher fuel) after a week of driving on both straight line highway and twisty country roads.

 

Subaru BRZ Hyper Blue Edition featured very nice black wheels, a Brembo Brake caliper option is also available.
Subaru BRZ Hyper-Blue Edition featured very nice black wheels, a Brembo Brake caliper option is also available.

Do not think this car is going to let you slip by unnoticed, the attention factor is high, especially in this Hyper-Blue (a bright powder blue) color with shiny black wheels. I found that this car got attention from everyone from young boys, to the highway patrol, which means you have to be careful how you drive it.

 

It is indeed a driver’s car, and for under $30K, it is a car that you will enjoy if you enjoy spirited driving. It is not a car where you set the cruise control and get to your destination without thought. This is a car that is all about the road, as the fun is in the driving, and the destination is just where you end up.

 

Words and Photographs (other than where noted) by William West Hopper.

wwh-in-brz-tux
William West Hopper in the Subaru BRZ Hyper- Blue Edition prior to attending the Radnor Concours d’ Elegance Black Tie Dinner.

Fun to Drive, Easy to Own, The Hyundai Veloster R-Spec is Both a Performance and and Economy Car.

The Hyundai Veloster R spec, a hot hatch at an economy car price.
The Hyundai Veloster R-Spec, a hot hatch at an economy car price.

This little 6 speed took me back to my 20’s, which made it the perfect car on the eve of my 59th birthday. Driving it, I found myself instinctively down shifting into stops, and apexing around the cloverleaf’s on the highway exits. What better way to start the celebration of almost six decades, than to have a fun sports car to drive, which is exactly what the Hyundai Veloster  is, and not what I was expecting!

Veloster Turbo has a Six Speed with a B&M Racng Sport Shifter.
The Hyundai Veloster Turbo has a Six Speed with a B&M Racng Sport Shifter.

 

 

 

 

Before this summer, I never put much thought into the Hyundai product line, thinking they were uninteresting, cheap, disposable, transportation, for people who did not enjoy driving. That all changed when I got to try out the Elantra during the introduction of the sport line to local journalists in July, and definitely changed after spending a week in the R-Spec Veloster.

 

 

Hyundai Veloster has a 7 inch touch screen in the center stack.
Hyundai Veloster has a 7 inch touch screen in the center stack.

First and foremost, I am impressed by the fit and finish as well as the materials used on the inside of Hyundai’s cars. What we often see on lower priced cars, and some pricier ones, is the use low cost materials, i.e. “cheap plastic.”  Not Hyundai, the Veloster’s dash and door trim were well designed with a hint reminiscing of carbon fiber, and felt like something that should be on a higher-end vehicle. The center display screen for the radio is not only large at seven inches, it is full color, and a touch screen, with adult sized touch points. The screen is a true provider of infotainment, feeding you plenty of information, from the rear view camera, to the Blue Max app showing how fuel efficient a driver you are. The 450 watt Dimension Premium Audio, with 8 speakers provides high end sound through any of the radio channels and the XM Sirius satellite service, and easily connected to an iPod or phone. Steering wheel mounted audio controls make changing the volume or channels effortless.

 

Studded chrome sport pedals are some of the many extras in the Hyundai Veloster R-Spec, a lot of sports car, for very little money.
Studded chrome sport pedals are some of the many extras in the Hyundai Veloster R-Spec, is a lot of sports car, for very little money.

Who would have thought this little Hyundai, would also be a performance car? The Veloster features fancy rubber studded pedals,bolstered front sport seats with matching sporty red seat belts, and a tight B&M Racing® Sport Shifter. And when you release the clutch and hit the gas the twin-scroll turbocharger hitched to the 1.6 dual continuously variable valve timed engine kicks it providing plenty of power, (201 HP with 195 lbs of torque @6k rpms,) mated to the 6-speed manual gearbox, there was an immediate response to getting off the line at any stop light. It is quite clear that the throaty growl of the exhaust is not just piped in performance driving music. Though I do have to admit I stalled it a couple of times, thinking that I was driving an economy car, instead of getting on it, like I would in a performance car. The Veloster wanted me to power it up!

2 doors on the right, 1 on the left, and a hatch in the back. Hyundai Veloster has doors where you will use them.
The Hyundai Veloster R-Spec, a hot hatch at an economy car price.

It is an economy car! Just one that makes you feel like you are driving a HOT Sports hatch.There is the question, is the Veloster a coupe or a sedan? With it’s water drop in the wind shape, with a .32 coefficient of drag, it has an odd configuration of three passenger doors. The Veloster has doors where you need them, two on the right, (sedan-like), one on the left, (coupe-like.) Let’s just call it a sports car, a economy minded performance hatchback.

 

 

Veloster features plenty of trunk space in the lift over hatch, put the rear sets down and you have a cargo hauler.
Veloster features plenty of trunk space in the lift over hatch, put the rear sets down and you have a cargo hauler.
Plenty of leg room, but not headroom, for two rear passengers in the Hyundai Veloster.
Plenty of leg room, but not headroom, for two rear passengers in the Hyundai Veloster.

Inside the Veloster is spacious, not at all claustrophobic, the front has plenty of room for the driver and passenger,  and there is leg room for two passengers in the back seats, though head room is limited. And when the rear seats are not in use, they can easily be put down to extend the already spacious deep trunk. Plenty of safety with  front, front side impact and curtain airbags. A concern I heard was the driver’s visibility out of the rear window, I did not experience any rear visibility issues, and setting the exterior side mirrors correctly, blind spots were minimized.

The rear window in the hatch of the Hyundai Veloster gives a clear view of what is behind you.
The rear window in the hatch of the Hyundai Veloster gives a clear view of what is behind you.

 

Hyundai Veloster R-Spec with a 6 speed manual comes at a $22,425 delivered price, and runs on regular fuel. A Performance Car for economy car money.

 

Hyundai Veloster R-Spec boasts a 1.6 twin scroll Turbo GDI puts out 201 horsepower and 195 lbs of torque.
Hyundai Veloster R-Spec boasts a 1.6 twin scroll Turbo GDI puts out 201 horsepower and 195 lbs of torque.

The base Veloster starts at $18,000 and the top-of-the-line Turbo model with an automatic transmission tops out at $23,800, not including any discounts you may be eligible for. Only two option packages are available, each cost $2,100: Technology, (more gadgets,) and Style (includes a sunroof and more goo-gahs.) There are a number of dealer installed accessories you may want to add to make one your own.

 

 

Sirus XM Radio is just one of the audio options on the Hyundai Veloster R-Spec.
Sirus XM Radio is just one of the audio options on the Hyundai Veloster R-Spec.

 

You will not be in a boring transportation appliance, between enough power and G-forces to push you back into your seat, and a raspy exhaust note, all in a car that drinks regular grade gasoline, and gives you 27 mpg, as we experienced.

 

Red leather bolstered seats & door inserts, and matching seat belts give the Hyundai Veloster R-Spec an sporty look and feel.
Red leather bolstered seats & door inserts, and matching seat belts give the Hyundai Veloster R-Spec an sporty look and feel.

The Veloster will make you feel like a kid again, it did for me! And at a price that takes away any guilt about buying a play toy to make driving fun again. While it will not impress those in their Ferrari’s, McLarens, or AMG’s, you will not be paying the costs for to keep up with that level of ego either. Then when the teen driver in the family is ready, you can let them drive it, and then you will be the coolest Uncle ever!

 

 

Where the real story is for this little sports car is the price tag for the R-Spec we tested, $22,425 delivered (not including tax tags etc), which includes $825 freight and handling

William West Hopper with the fun to drive 2016 Hyundai Veloster R-Spec, that is also inexpensive to own.

William West Hopper with the fun to drive 2016 Hyundai Veloster R-Spec, that is also inexpensive to own and to operate.

Words and photos by William West Hopper

 

Thanks to Hyundai USA for providing us the R-Spec Veloster to test out for a week.