Saturday, November 11, 2017

The best and the worst.

Jaguar XE 2016 front three-quarter.jpg

Our favorites and least favorite cars we’ve driven.


Sedan: The BMW 3-series for the longest was one of my favorite sedans but the Jaguar XE is literally out for blood. This sedan is not only as dynamically great as the 3-series it is also so much better than the 3-series at the highest end of the range. We love the turbo-diesel engine you can get with this sedan and we also love the 3-liter supercharged six-cylinder that sits at the top of the range. It’s just the best engine choice of the XE range, if you’re willing to spend the cash that is. We’ve driven several sedans over the years and well the Jaguar XE has to be far my favorite. I just wish that Jaguar improved the infotainment system it is just a complete and utter disaster, also the cabin is quite narrow too.

Wagon: The BMW 3-series touring is a real gem but the Saab 9-5 wagon is what really stole my heart. I remember when I first test drove one in 2006, which was the facelifted version. It also came equipped with the 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder pumping out 260hp. I loved this engine as it had so much torque at low revs and was also the better option compared to the BMW 5-series and Mercedes E-class. I surely wish that Saab was still around as they would be wildly popular now that automakers are shifting to turbocharged four-cylinders.

Convertible: The Mazda Miata is one of those vehicles you have to drive before you die. No seriously! It is one of the best roadsters money can buy. The engine may not have much in terms of horsepower but the Miata is lightweight which means that it doesn’t really need much horsepower to get this thing going. You can toss it around sharp corners and bends with confidence thanks to precise steering and sharp handling. I loved my time in the Miata and if I were looking for this type of vehicle I would’ve bought one in a heartbeat.

Hatchback: The GTI is the best hot hatch money can buy. It offers a thumping turbo engine rated at 210-220hp. It’s inexpensive and yet it feels classy and refined. We know you can buy a Ford Focus ST for similar money, but for some reason the GTI just felt so much more fun to drive than the Focus. Maybe because the GTI can balance it’s horsepower while remaining agile. The Focus ST did remind us of the 9-3 Viggen which had suffered from torque steer. The Focus ST isn’t as bad as the 9-3 in terms of torque steer and the chassis being overwhelmed by the amount of horsepower the engine is producing.

WMC P JAIA17 Volvo XC90 1.jpg

SUV: The best crossover we have ever driven is the Volvo XC90. The first generation of the XC90 was also a particular favorite of mine. I loved the eight-cylinder engine that Volvo offered in it for a short period of time. It was the most efficient eight-cylinder engine at the time. Secondly, the redesigned version that appeared two years ago was and still is the crème de la crème of the SUV segment. It carries the style so well. The driving position is superb and the overall quality of the new XC90 has been dramatically improved to the point it made us put it on our top list. You want something refreshingly not German well this is the best of the best here. The 2-liter turbocharged/supercharged four-cylinder pumping out 315hp is the best engine to go for in the range. The entry T5 is okay and the T8 Hybrid can get quite expensive.

Least favorites:
Sedan: The Chevy Cobalt is probably one of the worst sedans I’ve ever driven. It was cheap in every literal since of the word. The 2.2-liter four-cylinder offered decent flexibility but was bogged down by an ancient four-speed auto gearbox. The interior was just rubbish and the overall driving impressions were just ‘meh’ at best. You could quite literally go get a Toyota Corolla and have a dependable appliance that was much better to look at and easier to live with. The only reason people bought this is because it came with deep discounts, and well that’s should be the only reason you’d consider one. Everyone else please look elsewhere!

Wagon: The Suzuki Forenza Wagon was supposed to be the new vehicles from Suzuki that helped it gain more traction in the U.S. against cars like the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. However, this car didn’t gain the traction that Suzuki needed as they ended up discontinuing it. The Forenza Wagon looks like a decent buy on paper as it is cheap, plenty of space and supposedly had low running costs. However, in reality the Forenza was none of these things except for having a spacious boot. The engine was weak and running costs were particularly high for a low output engine. Maybe it was because when you drive it, majority of the time you’d be driving with your foot completely down to keep up with faster paced traffic. Suzuki no longer builds cars in the U.S. and well if you were thinking about this, we strongly suggest looking elsewhere as this one is not a vehicle you’d want to waste money on.

Convertible: The Chevy Cavalier Convertible has to be the worst convertible I had ever driven. The looks and the price alone is what made this a popular option. The Chevy Camaro was better to drive, hell even the VW Cabrio was better to drive. The only redeeming feature the Cavalier Convertible had was it had a roomier backseat. The chassis felt like it was made out of cardboard while the engines were actually gutsy and very durable. We still wonder what the hell happened when Chevy brought the Cobalt along. It would’ve been cool to see a SS version of the Cavalier, we know that it would’ve stepped on the Camaro toes, but still a SS version would’ve been awesome.

Hatchback: The Daewoo Lanos used the same platform as the Suzuki Reno. The Reno was a slightly better car to drive but that wasn’t saying much. I loathed the way the Lanos looked and it felt like a cheap car. The interior was an absolute joke in terms of quality and well the Lanos only came with a three-door version as you’d have to venture to Suzuki to get the five-door version. Daewoo was short lived here in the U.S. before it was bought out by Chevy and eventually became Chevy in Europe. I think that Daewoo could’ve survived as an automaker if they actually took the time to make their interior better and also didn’t use crappy engines. The 1.6 in the Lanos was terrible.

SUV: Saab is a special brand that was way ahead of its time. However, when the 9-7x was first launched I was truly disappointed with Saab. The styling wasn’t what made me disappointed. It was the engine choices, instead of offering the unique turbocharged four-cylinders that Saab was known for. Saab decided to go with the GM derived engines from the Trailblazer and they were god awful engines. Saab could’ve put a 2.8-turbo six-cylinder from the 9-3 at least and pumped it up to 300hp, with a twin-turbo version pumping out at least 400hp for the Aero. I don’t understand why Saab took the lazy route with this crossover. It had such potential that was just wasted away.

Saab 9-7X -- 03-19-2012.JPG

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