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2017 Volkswagen Jetta GLI: The Jalopnik Review

I’ll go straight out and say this: the current Volkswagen Jetta GLI has one big problem, and it’s called the Golf GTI.


Like the black sheep in the family, Volkswagen’s compact sports sedan only wishes it was as competent and versatile as its beloved hatchback sister. But with solid new contenders from Honda and even Hyundai now, compact sport sedans seem to be doing alright at the moment! As long as automakers can convince people to buy them amid all this crossover mania.

Sporty little Jetta, now’s the time to show the entire world that you still got it.


(Full disclosure: Volkswagen Canada dusted off a GLI it had lying in its garage, washed it, filled her up with gas and threw me the keys for a week.)

What Is It?

Originally introduced as a sedan alternative to the Golf, aimed specifically at North Americans who love cars with trunks, the Jetta grew rather successfully alongside the Golf over six generations, and in some cases, even outselling its hatchback brethren.

But just before this current generation Jetta was launched way back in 2012, Volkswagen had proclaimed that it was aiming at becoming the world’s largest automaker. To achieve this, it meant cutting back on production costs for their little sedan in order to better compete against the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, and Nissan Sentra. The Jetta suffered from this—the multi-link rear suspension was replaced with a torsion beam setup, which significantly impacted the car’s handling.

Volkswagen learned a viable lesson with the Jetta: don’t take the VW faithful for granted. After many complaints from both customers and automotive journalists that the car had lost its nerve, Volkswagen urgently face-lifted the Jetta in 2015 by throwing the Golf’s independent rear suspension back into it, reworking its interior and exterior, and developing an all-new 1.4-liter turbo specifically for the car.



It’s still old, though. The current Jetta doesn’t yet use Volkswagen’s magic carpet new MQB platform, the one that also underpins several Audi vehicles as well as the current Golf.

Luckily the GLI always had the better performance parts, notably an independent rear suspension. It also got the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four as in the GTI, as well as Volkwagen’s Porsche-like six-speed dual-clutch automatic.

Since the current Golf GTI is arguably the best hot hatch currently available, it would only make sense for the GLI to be an impeccable sports sedan as well.

Why Does It Matter?

There are plenty of small fun cars to choose from now. There’s the new Hyundai Elantra Sport. The Ford Fiesta and Focus ST are still around and kicking ass, and Nissan now sells a hardcore version of its lamentable Sentra, the Nismo.

Also, Honda’s about to elbow-drop the entire segment with an all-new Civic Si coupe and sedan.

You may think the Golf GTI would be enough to take them all on. It kinda is. But America prefers sedans over hatchbacks unless those hatchbacks get a couple inches of ride height and are called “crossovers.” We still bought 142,061 Jettas last year. So if there’s a small car in Volkswagen’s lineup that deserves a hot version, it’s definitely the Jetta.



And, just between you and me, in a world of soul-sucking crossover domination, the simple fact that Volkswagen offers not one, but two pocket rockets in its lineup of cars is seriously cool. I’m not complaining.

Solid Performance

To be fair, the GLI’s performance proposition is still attractive. Power is claimed at 210 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque, 51 lb-ft less than the hot Golf though. Volkswagen claims a 0-60 time of 6.6 seconds, significantly slower than its sister, but still in the same ballpark as the Elantra Sport, Sentra Nismo, and Focus ST.

Your GLI can either be equipped with a six-speed manual, or Volkswagen’s excellent six-speed dual-clutch (DSG) automatic.


Unlike the GTI, however, which gets an optional Performance package that adds more power and a fancy electronic limited slip differential, the GLI gets none of that stuff. While the GTI is qualified as a separate vehicle from the Golf in Volkswagen’s lineup, the GLI is the Jetta’s top trim level. So there’s only one GLI available, and it’s the one you see here.

To distinguish a GLI from a standard Jetta, Volkswagen adds a set of very pretty 18-inch Mallory wheels, a reworked front fascia with the signature GLI red grille trim, a more aggressive front bumper, darkened headlights, a subtle decklid spoiler, GLI badging, and a slightly lowered, sportier stance.

My tester was painted in the White Silver paint job, which has a subtle shade of baby blue in it. I gotta say, the standard ho-hum Jetta isn’t much of a looker. But dressed up this way, the GLI is very attractive, properly German and also well stanced, looking almost like an Audi. It’s a clean and understated car the GLI, just the way I like my sport compact cars.

GTI Sedan?

Volkswagen went through great lengths to make this feels like a GTI, even if it doesn’t share the same platform. And it works, mostly. If you don’t spend a lot of time driving a lot of different cars, except for maybe a noticeable drop in torque, you might even have a hard time finding an appreciable difference between the two.



One thing that remains constant between each car is the excellent 2.0-liter turbo. It’s a punchy and silky smooth little mill, one which offers a solid wave of torque all the way to redline once boost is kicking hard. The lower torque figures in the GLI do make it feel somewhat slower. It simply takes more work to get the Jetta to actually get up and go, you sorta need to manhandle it.

But that doesn’t stop the GLI from being immensely fun. Stomp the accelerator from a standstill, and thanks to a traction control system that can be completely turned off now, those front tires instantly start spinning as you grasp the steering wheel to control torque steer. Fun? Damn right. Efficient? Not exactly.

That’s the first indication this isn’t the same wonderfully tuned chassis as in the Golf, or that the GLI’s suspension wasn’t developed by a Porsche engineer. The GTI would have spun its wheels alright, but would also have tugged forward while doing so. The GLI just squats there and spins when giving it too much power upon takeoff.

Granted, my GLI had winters on. But so did the GTI when I reviewed it. Trust me when I say this: the GTI handles its power much better than the GLI does.


As for the DSG gearbox, it remains quick, precise, and, well fun to operate. You can either leave it in automatic and let it do all the work for you or go ahead and shift for yourself using the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Unfortunately, the system in the GLI is geared more toward efficiency than the GTI’s, so shifting speed feels somewhat diluted in comparison. It is, however, excellent for daily driving.

But frankly, you’ll be happier if you get your GLI with a stick.


The fake Soundaktor engine sound remains one of my biggest gripes with recent Volkswagen performance vehicles. But in the GLI, it’s the weirdest one I’ve experienced so far. They’ve tried to tone it down for the Jetta, to make it sound more mature – I guess – but it ends up sounding like a Subaru Boxer engine humping Volkswagen’s five-cylinder.



Urgh, this car sounds totally wrong.

Then there’s the fact that although Volkswagen completely overhauled the Jetta’s interior during the last update, material quality is still not quite up there compared to the Golf. Door inserts and some dashboard components are still plastic intensive.

Also, tire roll and wind noise are considerably louder in the GLI compared to its overachieving sister. Finally, the entire car remains Volkswagen rock solid, but you do sense that this is an aging platform with occasional unwanted chassis quibbles when driving over the hard stuff. In some cases, I actually missed that Hyundai Elantra Sport.

Casual Driving

On the road, the GLI remains compliant, comfortable, and buttoned down. The DSG automatic gearbox proves to be a charm when left on its own to do all the shifting when stuck in heavy traffic, and those leather seats remain one of the most comfortable in the class.

This Jetta also comes standard with enjoyable creature comforts such as heated seats, a sunroof, Android Auto/Apple Carplay compatibility, and a dual-zone automatic climate control. It’s a compact sedan, meaning the rear seat and trunk space are acceptable for the occasional family-haulin’ duties. My only two gripes for daily driving are a somewhat cramped rear seat compared to the Elantra, and the fact that the GLI requires premium gas to achieve its claimed power and torque figures.

Aggressive Driving

It really is a driver’s car, this racy Jetta, much more than the Elantra Sport, but it still lacks some of the GTI’s near perfect poise and balance over changing surfaces. It’s a bit of a mouthful sometimes, but for an aging platform though, it’s still up to the task.



Volkswagen gave the GLI softer front springs and dampers and a substantially firmer rear to adapt to the Jetta’s 2.9-inch longer wheelbase and added heft. The end result is noticeably more body roll in the twisties, and less feedback from the front. The lack of an LSD differential does mean the GLI will tug forward when power is applied upon corner exit, unlike the GTI which somehow soaks it all up. But this is still far more manageable than in the Elantra Sport.

The car simply doesn’t give enough feedback to the driver, so you’re never as confident as in a GTI. This is the inevitable outcome of almost an entire decade in chassis development.

Overall though, you can still drive the GLI like a hero. The steering is perfectly weighted for an electric system, and there’s still the usual sense of a rock-solid German construction overall. That being said, everything feels somewhat dialed back and diluted in the Jetta compared to the Golf, but maybe this was done on purpose by VW to give it a more Grand Tourer feel?


The Jetta GLI’s Achilles heel really is its price. Somehow, it kicks off at $2,000 more than a five-door GTI, and unfortunately doesn’t feel any superior. It’s also far less practical, being a sedan.


Luckily, it does come totally loaded at $27,895, with Volkswagen’s latest semi-autonomous tech such as adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and a collision mitigation system. But since these features can be had in a Honda Civic for far cheaper now, it’s not enough to justify the somewhat high sales price.

The GLI is also uncomfortably close to a Mercedes-Benz CLA and Audi A3 in terms of pricing, two cars that both look and feel far more premium than the hot Jetta, and offer an all-wheel drive option.


Finally, after sampling that solid Elantra Sport, it’s hard to justify paying almost $7,000 extra for the VW. Here in Canada there’s a $10k difference between the two, which doesn’t really make sense. The Jetta GLI is a great little sports sedan alright, don’t get me wrong, but unfortunately, it’s too expensive for a car built on a decade old chassis. You also get a hell of a lot more, from power to all-wheel drive, in a Subaru WRX for about the same amount of money.


As far as delivering a GTI sedan, Volkswagen has sorta hit the mark considering what they had to work with for the GLI. Most people will never really notice the difference between the two, because at the end of the day they do feel very close in the areas that matter.


But if we were to really dig deeper, we’d quickly realize how much better the GTI really is in every category, and not really that much more expensive. Finally, the arrival of equally competent small sedans that offer a lot of performance and athleticism for far more affordable prices, such as the Elantra Sport, Focus ST or the upcoming Civic Si, which definitely looks promising if we base ourselves on the solid Civic LX, Volkswagen’s hot sedan is somewhat outplayed by the segment at the moment.

Let’s hope the next Jetta, expected early next year, and presumably built on the same platform as the Golf, will stop being the black sheep of the VW family and finally shine over its sister.

William Clavey is an automotive journalist from Montréal, Québec, Canada. He runs

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New Audi R8 LMS GT4 race car is one serious looker

Audi’s big news at the New York Auto Show was the introduction of its Audi Sport brand, but the company had one other surprise up its sleeve.

Audi used the backdrop of New York to unveil its latest race car, the Audi R8 LMS GT4. It’s meant for production-based racing, which means this car is directly related to the Audi R8 you’ll see out on the road.

Audi R8 LMS GT4Enlarge Image

The more canards, the merrier.


It’s not just a lookalike atop a completely bespoke race chassis, although, obviously, it’s been heavily modified for racing. Audi says approximately 60 percent of the R8 LMS GT4′s parts come from the road-legal R8, which the automaker claims will help keep its purchase price from getting out of control.

GT4 isn’t a series with a high cost of entry, and that’s intentional. Whereas other classes like GT3 are for full-time racing teams with big budgets, GT4 is largely for privateers — folks with money who want to become race car drivers.

It appears that the GT4 sports the regular R8′s 5.2-liter V10, although power is down due to series regulations, from 602 horsepower to a maximum of 495 hp.

It’ll compete alongside other factory GT4 cars from Porsche, McLaren, Aston Martin and Chevrolet. It should hit the track later this year, about the same time deliveries are scheduled to begin.

Audi R8 LMS GT4

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2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon: An 840-HP Monster!

For years, the Big Three have been selling parts-counter specials that are purpose built for drag racing: Cobra Jet Mustangs, COPO Camaros, and Drag Pak Challengers missing VINs that you order like an oil filter. These are cars only in the sense that they have four wheels. You can’t legally drive one to the corner store for milk or bait teenagers on Woodward Avenue any more than you could in an IndyCar racer. But Dodge is changing that with the Challenger SRT Demon.

Born to Drag

SRT head honcho Tim Kuniskis admits that the company wanted to go in a different direction than the Challenger’s obvious competition. Ford and Chevrolet clearly targeted the road-course demographic with their ultimate pony cars, the Camaro ZL1 1LE and the Shelby Mustang GT350R. To be different, SRT zeroed in on a target 1320 feet long—a quarter-mile—and packed this Hellcat-cum-Demon with legit drag-racing technology normally reserved for purpose-built trailer queens.


By fixating on a single goal, Kuniskis and company claim to have destroyed not only crosstown rivals, but all competition, in quarter-mile races—including the Porsche 918 (the quickest production car we’ve ever tested)—with a 9.65-second elapsed time at a blistering 140 mph. That’s quick enough that the NHRA says “no, thank you” unless the Demon’s owner installs a roll cage.

A nine-second production car that we expect will cost one-tenth the price of a new 918. Let that sink in.

So how did SRT do it? Details have been released in a form of Chinese water torture over the last three months. First we learned of all the weight SRT cut to get the Demon as trim as possible, most notably by stripping out every seat save the driver’s (the front passenger seat and the three-place rear bench can be optioned back in for $1 each). Then there was a mysterious box full of parts and tools, a glimpse at the hood scoop, the wrinkled-sidewall drag radials, some suspension details and transmission specs, and on and on. Thirteen teasers in total, which included more than a half-dozen cryptic hints that Chrysler has finally decoded. The campaign nearly caused our interest to wane. All we wanted to know was how fast and how much power.

Eight hundred and forty horsepower regained our attention. However, that comes with a caveat: Showroom Demons make 808 ponies on premium fuel, an increase of 101 over the Hellcat. To unlock 840 in the Demon, buyers must also purchase the Demon Crate. Cost is TBD, but Kuniskis hopes it also will cost $1. In the crate are some skinny front wheels, all the Snap-on tools needed to change tires at the track, a new engine ECU, a new air filter, a low-temperature thermostat, a cover plate to facilitate removing the passenger-side mirror, and a new HVAC switch module with an extra button on it. That button, a gas-pump silhouette with “HO” in the middle, activates a high-octane engine map (hence the ECU and air filter), increasing power to 840 hp and torque to 770 lb-ft at 4500 rpm, up from 717. Kuniskis says the Demon is emissions compliant no matter what mode it’s running. All the tools and the “runners,” as the skinny wheels are called, fit in a molded piece of foam that stows nicely in the trunk and is easily removed in the paddock.

Demons ship with four Nitto NT05R drag radials in size 315/40R-18 tucked under blistered fenders that widen the car by 3.5 inches. The idea is that, with all the crate bits installed, one can drive to a drag strip on the barely legal street rubber and, with the runners in place, have two sets of rear tires at one’s disposal.

At the Strip

Making that kind of torque is one thing; delivering it to asphalt is another, which is why SRT turned to drag-racing tools. The Demon’s launch control is unlike anything previously seen in a road car. It uses technology that’s commonplace at the Winternationals. A Demon driver and the car itself must go through the following processes to unleash a most hellacious quarter-mile run:

Engage line lock, which locks the front brakes, to warm up the Nittos in the burnout box before approaching staging. Roll to the starting line and activate launch control, at which point a number of things are happening. First, the Demon has, essentially, air conditioning for its intake air. It superchills the intercooler’s coolant by as much as 45 degrees versus ambient conditions to help pack as many oxygen molecules into the intake charge as possible. Next, the transmission engages its own brake. A trans brake locks the transmission in both first and reverse gears simultaneously. This removes any chance the car will move off the line when hitting the throttle to reach launch rpm. Finally, the Demon’s two-stage ignition kicks in. Here, the engine cuts spark and fuel to half the cylinders but keeps all valves operating. This allows the 2.7-liter supercharger (up from 2.4 in the standard Hellcat) to keep its bypass valve closed and generate maximum boost (because a belt-driven supercharger’s boost is directly tied to engine rpm), without generating maximum power. Now the torque converter, an upgraded unit with a higher stall speed and 2:1 torque multiplication, keeps all the launch torque from eating the transmission’s innards. Flick either shift paddle, and the Demon launches. You’ll want to keep the car pointed straight.

Free Wheelie

There is some trial and error to this. Launch rpm and tire pressure, both of which are set by the driver, are the two biggest variables in generating the kind of hole shot that will lift the front wheels into the air. That’s right: The Demon will wheelie.

Achieving a wheelie, or any great launch, comes down to load transfer. The Demon’s suspension is set up specifically for quarter-mile passes. The type of setup needed to transfer a lot of load to the rear axle for maximum grip can make a car somewhat scary on public roads. Ever see a drag car get into a speed wobble? To avoid that situation when the starting lights wink green, the adaptive dampers will quickly revert to a tamer setup—with compression and rebound characteristics intended to improve stability—as soon as the driver lifts off the throttle.

The Uconnect system’s SRT Performance Pages function in the Demon has a special display dedicated to intake temperature, and the car will tell you exactly how long you need to wait between runs to generate max power during every pass.

But, like the power, that 9.65-second ET comes with a caveat. Dodge’s quarter-mile time was achieved at a drag strip. We test on surfaces with much less grip, so we expect to be off SRT’s pace. Once we get our hands on a Demon, we expect to burn a quarter-mile in 9.8 seconds on 100-octane fuel, or 10 flat when running premium unleaded. A zero-to-60-mph time on the street should be in the 2.3-to-2.6-second range.

The Demon hits showrooms this fall with an estimated base price of $85,000, but we suspect transaction prices will be higher due to demand. Dodge will produce 3000 Demons for the 2018 model year, plus 300 for customers in Canada. There is no word whether a second model year is in the Demon’s future, but it certainly will be remembered for many years to come.

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Volkswagen Corrado VR6 Gets The Regular Car Reviews Treatment

The fate of the Volkswagen Corrado is both tragic and, depending on who you ask, it was also predictable. Originally conceived as a Scirroco succesor, the 2+2 liftback never sold well. As per Volkswagen, less than 100,000 units were manufactured from 1988 to 1995. In the United States, less than 10,000 examples were sold.

Why the Corrado failed is simple. It was too strange for the time. Both the styling and the funky VR6 engine under the hood were viewed with skepticism by the public, even though auto journos waxed lyrical about the damn thing with positive road tests and reviews. In hindsight, the Corrado was a car ahead of its time.

The active rear spoiler, for example, is designed to raise automatically when speed exceeds 45 mph in the U.S.-spec model’s case. There’s a switch in the cabin that allows the driver to manually control the spoiler, a feature that spells “personal affirmation now loading.” Narcissistic it may be, but the said system paved the way for the go-faster cars the Volkswagen Group produces today, including the Audi TT and Porsche Panamera.

When all is said and done, it’s the VR6 engine that defines the Corrado best. Over in North America, it displaces 2.8 liters and develops 179 horsepower. Zero to 60 mph is doable in just 6.4 seconds, which is pretty quick even by modern-day standards.

As Mr. Regular puts it in his newest video, the VR6 somehow sounds like a well-tuned inline-4. It’s also positioned in such a way so that the front isn’t too heavy, thus improving the handling characteristics of the much-missed and increasingly rare Corrado. For more on that, press play and let Mr. Regular take you down Nostalgia Road.

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2017 Lamborghini Aventador S first drive: Next-level Lambo

We’ve never complained that the Lamborghini Aventador is too slow. It produces 690 hp and hits 62 mph in 2.9 seconds. Not bad. The new Aventador S, at 730 hp, is more powerful and, Lamborghini says, no heavier, but there are also no stated improvements to acceleration times — even the 217-mph top end is static. But that’s not what you take away from driving the Aventador S. Instead, it’s the newfound agility that puts a gulf between the two: A new rear-wheel-steering system is key here.

Rear-wheel steering has been around for decades — 1980s Honda Preludes and R32 Skyline GT-Rs ran it — but it’s back in vogue, notably with the Porsche 911 and the Ferrari F12tdf. Similar in concept to those cars, the Aventador S’ version turns the rear wheels opposite the fronts up to 3 degrees below 81 mph, virtually shortening the wheelbase and adding agility. Above 81 mph, the wheels turn up to 1.5 degrees in the same direction to effectively elongate the wheelbase, increasing stability. Lambo claims lower-speed steering inputs are reduced 30 percent with a variable-rate steering system.

To underline the point, Lamborghini let us drive an Aventador back to back with the new S on a slalom at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Spain. The original Aventador never did fulfill its dynamic potential—it feels dim-witted and cumbersome, veering from left to right through the cones. In comparison, the S jinks and shimmies, feeling lighter and more energetic, and you sense the tires on tiptoes, hungry to change direction. You’re also more aware of the weight of that mid-mounted V12 shifting around behind you.

Here's the difference between your base Aventador and SV

Of course, the Aventador fundamentals remain. You can see the carbon-fiber monocoque when you swing up the extravagant doors; there’s still a riotous, naturally aspirated 6.5-liter V12 behind your head; and there’s carbon-ceramic brakes and exotic push-rod suspension at each corner. The bat-costume body and fighter-jet cockpit looks unchanged at a glance, though exterior modifications evoke poisonous fangs, add 130 percent more front downforce and increase cooling in line with the extra power. A new TFT display morphs to match the driving mode but always looks like you’re playing a retro arcade game. In a good way.

Crucially, though, adding rear-wheel steering necessitated completely redesigning the chassis. There’s new hardware to account for the turning rear wheels, the springs are 20 percent stiffer and the magnetorheological dampers have been recalibrated. The Pirelli P Zeros are new, and the AWD system has been reprogrammed to shift more torque rearward. A new brain — Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Attiva — makes sense of it all. It’s why those monster 355/25ZR-21 rears get up to 90 percent of the torque in sport mode. There are also strada (street) and corsa (race) modes, while the new ego mode allows you to mix and match the other settings.

I choose sport to chase Lamborghini test driver Mario Fasanetto onto the track. The acceleration is mind-bendingly rapid. The V12 is now just 10 hp down on the 740-hp SV halo model Fasanetto is driving, thanks to a variable-valve system updated for extra overlap and a new airbox design. The two engines’ targets differ slightly, however, with more torque the goal for the S. So while both models produce 507 lb-ft at 5,500 rpm, the effective size of the S’ new airbox is manipulated by four driveby-wire throttles — more throttles for maximum air and performance, fewer for extra low-down torque.

We’re not using torque right now. The V12 yelps, yowls and crackles. It doesn’t yield full power until 100 rpm off the 8,500-rpm rev limit. An automated manual transmission, now said to offer smoother low-speed shifts, still selects the gears, but it remains light years behind the Ferrari F12’s more refined dual-clutch. At high rpm, though, the shifts engage like clicked fingers, a physical urgency stopping just short of brutishness.

Trying to keep pace with Fasanetto, we notice the same lightning turn-in from the slalom, but also how the AWD claws unbelievable traction from the surface and only understeers when we’re too early on the throttle. This car doesn’t tolerate fools, be warned, as there’s still a lot of movement to manage—go in too deep on the excellent brakes and the heavyweight V12 starts to swing the back end round like a mallet tossed handle first; the sharper steering and turning rears probably exacerbate the trait. Even off-throttle in sport mode through a tighter turn, you might need to add steering correction.

That just adds to a really unique supercar’s intensity –  the Lambo has no comparable rivals. When we pull into the pits to a thumbs-up from Fasanetto, it’s hard to imagine a similar experience with anything else.

The SV is still more white-hot crazy, but the Aventador is now the car we always thought it should be—old school and as deeply physical as ever, now with added finesse thanks to that S.

This article first appeared in the March 30 issue of Autoweek magazine. Get your subscription here.

By Ben Barry

On Sale: Now

Base Price: $421,350

Drivetrain: 6.5-liter V12, AWD, 7-speed automated manual

Output: 730 hp, 507 lb-ft torque

Curb Weight: 3,472 lb

0-60 MPH: 2.9 sec

Pros: No longer just a brute, it’s a balanced handler now too

Cons: Getting pretty close to half a million bucks

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EV startup builds Porsche 910 racecars as street-legal EVs – CNET

Kreisel Electric builds some interesting electric vehicles. First, they tripled the range of the Volkswagen e-Golf. Then, they teamed up with Arnold Schwarzenegger to create an all-electric Mercedes G-Class. Now, they’ve turned their attention to something a bit older.

The Kreisel EVEX 910e is a collaborative effort between vehicle manufacturer EVEX and the EV-minded startup. EVEX started reproducing street legal versions of the Porsche 910 racecar from 1967, with a 320-horsepower gas engine under the hood. Kriesel takes the EVEX 910 and converts that into a battery-electric vehicle with plenty of performance.

Kreisel EVEX 910eEnlarge Image

EV or not, it’s a beautiful car.

Kreisel Electric

Under the body lies a 53-kWh lithium-ion battery, which is capable of receiving charge up to 100 kW. With 490 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque on tap from its electric motors, it’s more powerful than EVEX’s gas version. A two-speed transmission helps it achieve a 0-to-62-mph time of just 2.5 seconds, which is hypercar territory. It’ll top out close to 200 mph, too.

The electrics do add some weight, though, EVEX’s 910 recreation weighs just 1,720 pounds, but the Kreisel variant bumps that up to 2,425 pounds. You can thank the battery and two electric motors for that additional weight. The higher power output more than makes up for that extra weight, though.

Since it’s a small creation from a company with limited manpower and resources, it’s going to cost a pretty penny to put the Kreisel EVEX 910e on your driveway. Kreisel estimates the cost at €1 million ($1.06 million), so perhaps that extended-range e-Golf might be more up your alley.

The original Porsche 910 was produced specifically for racing. It featured center-locking wheels and tires from Formula 1, with either a six- or eight-cylinder engine mounted mid-ship. It didn’t have the domination factor of other Porsche racecars, doing okay at Le Mans, but faring much better during hillclimb events.

Kreisel EVEX 910e

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Audi TTS Coupe v Porsche 718 Cayman comparison review

Head-to-head: Audi TTS Coupe v Porsche 718 Cayman. Photo: Stephen Ottley


Audi: The TTS starts at just over $100k which makes it $10,717 cheaper than the Porsche, lending it a significant price advantage to start this contest. Standard gear on the Audi includes 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive suspension, keyless entry and ignition, LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, Audi’s fully digital dashboard ‘Virtual Cockpit’, a five-speaker sound system with USB input, digital radio and Bluetooth.

Standard safety features are limited to airbag protection for the front seat occupants, a reversing camera and active lane keeping assistance. If you want other active safety features you have to pay extra but even then items like autonomous emergency braking aren’t available.

Porsche: The new 718 Cayman range starts at $110,000 for the manual model but thanks to a break in the luxury car tax for efficient cars the more frugal automatic option is only $1572 extra, instead of the usual $4990. Even so, the Cayman is significantly more than its rival here.

Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, navigation, leather trim and a multimedia system with sat nav, digital radio and Bluetooth/Wifi connectivity.

Safety includes airbags for both occupants but no active safety features.

But, as with most Porsches, there are plenty of options to tick that significantly increase the price. Our test car totalled $143,270 thanks to extras including $4990 Sports Chrono Package, $4840 20-inch wheels, $3190 Porsche Torque Vectoring, $2710 Porsche Active Suspension Management and $1690 for the parking package that includes sensors and reversing camera.

Winner: Audi

Audi: The four-ring brand has long been a leader in interior design, and the latest TT is a particular high point. The cabin is focused around the driver with all the controls angled towards the driver’s seat. There is no infotainment screen in the centre of the dashboard, instead all that is displayed on the Virtual Cockpit.

The details are what impress, even the air-conditioning controls looks great with the temperature displayed in the centre of dial that is housed inside a beautiful turbine-style air vent.

Audi puts a pair of token rear seats in the back but they are so small and the backrest is so vertical that they can only be used in desperate times.

2016 Audi TTS Coupe

Porsche: The new 718 Cayman follows the same design style as the rest of the Porsche range, so in many ways it looks like a scaled down version of the 911. For example, the basic layout is the same and the centre console that runs between the seats is the modern Porsche style with the same switchgear as the rest of the range. It looks simple by stylish which makes it user friendly.

While it misses out on the digital display, the Porsche’s old-school dials look great and perfectly suit the character of the car.

While both present well, the Audi’s superior design gives it the edge in this contest.

718 Cayman S 2017 Porsche 718 Cayman S.

Winner: Audi


Audi: The TTS is powered by turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and mated to a six-speed dual-clutch transmission (there is no manual option available). It produces a healthy 210kW of power and 380Nm of torque. If that sounds familiar that’s because it’s the same drivetrain you’ll find in the S3 hot hatch.

It provides the TTS with enough performance to make it feel like a proper sports car, with good response from low down in the rev range and strong pulling power through the middle.

The dual-clutch transmission has the traditional low speed hesitations, but on the move its quick shifts add to the sporty and responsive character of the TTS.

Porsche: The 718 introduces turbochargers to the Cayman for the first time. In this model it is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo – while in the Cayman S you get a larger 2.5-litre unit.

It has a slight power advantage over the Audi with 228kW but torque is a match. While Porsche has kept its trademark boxer style cylinder configuration the soundtrack is very different in this new generation Cayman. There’s more of a guttural growl to it than the crisp bark of the old flat-six.

But the performance is improved, and that’s the important thing for Porsche, with noticeably stronger performance from lower in the rev range.

Porsche’s ‘PDK’ dual-clutch remains the best in the business, with smoother response at low speeds and intuitive shifting.

One negative for both cars is the claimed fuel use was a lot lower than what we achieved in the real world. In the case of the Cayman the move to turbocharging was meant to help reduce emissions but we didn’t come close to hitting its official number.

But it’s performance advantages, from both the engine and gearbox, are enough to give it the win in this round.

Winner: Porsche

How it drives

Audi: While previous TT models could be accused of being a dressed-up Volkswagen Golf, this latest generation feels more like a proper sports car rather than a hot hatch.

The selectable drive modes allow you to alter the responsiveness of the engine, transmission and steering as well as changing the magnetic dampers. But regardless what mode you put it in (Normal, Comfort and Sport are the options) it always feels sporty.

The Achilles’ heel of the TTS is its suspension that is always firm, even in comfort mode. It seems to transmit every bump in the road through the cabin and crashes very hard over over big bumps.

The all-wheel drive transmission is a permanent system, primarily focused on the front wheels and only shuffling power to the rears when circumstances demand, giving it good grip in the bends and traction out of the corners.

The 2016 Audi TTS Coupe blends speed and style.

Porsche: The Cayman has always been a sweet handling machine. With its engine mounted in the middle it is arguably a better car to drive than the 911 at times. Nothing has changed in that department with new Cayman as it is still an utterly engaging machine to drive.

The steering is excellent, the ride is comfortable and responsive and the chassis feels perfectly balanced.

However, we must make note that our test car did have optional suspension, larger wheels, torque vectoring and the Sports Chrono package which makes a huge difference to its driving character.

Despite that, we have to give this win to the Cayman because, options or not, it is more comfortable to drive in everyday situations and a genuine sports car when driven enthusiastically.

Porsche 718 Cayman

Winner: Porsche

Kerb appeal

Audi: Buying a two-door sports car is often about making a statement. The TTS certainly has great road presence, and the design looks sharp from every angle. But lined up alongside the Porsche it looks taller, narrower and less dynamic.

Porsche: While it still lacks the level of street cred generated by its big brother, the 911, the 718 continues to evolve the Cayman’s style and give it more on-road presence. This latest generation looks sleek, sporty and premium even when standing still.

Winner: Porsche


Audi: The TT continues to be a style leader for Audi but the TTS brings some substance in terms of performance and dynamics. Despite its better value and more impressive cabin it can’t topple the Porsche in this contest.

Porsche: The 718 Cayman is the better sports car, there’s simply no argument. But it does come at a significantly higher cost. If you can afford the extras you are rewarded with a great sports car. However, even if you can’t the standard 718 Cayman is still a thoroughly impressive machine.

Winner: Porsche

Head-to-head: Audi TTS Coupe v Porsche 718 Cayman.

2017 Audi TTS Coupe price and specifications

Price: $100,855 plus on-road costs

Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol

Power: 210kW at 5300-6200rpm

Torque: 380Nm at 1800-5200rpm

Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch automatic, all-wheel drive

Fuel use: 7.0L/100km

2017 Porsche 718 Cayman price and specifications

Price: $111,572 plus on-road costs

Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol

Power: 220kW at 6500rpm

Torque: 380Nm at 1950-4500rpm

Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, rear-wheel drive

Fuel use: 6.9L/100km

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Review: La dolce vita: Life’s sweet sensations in Alfa’s 4C Cars is your go-to resource for coverage of local car news, events, and reviews. In the market for a car or truck? Check out our new car specials and used car specials curated by our local dealer network.

Today we throw away any talk about cookie-cutter automotive design. You know, the prevalent lament that “today’s cars all look the same.”

We also employ a real estate analogy about buying the least expensive house in a nice neighborhood. This review is all about buying a super car for about one third of the normal price of entry into that category.

A few other bromides apply, namely, “It doesn’t get any better than this” and “It’s not for everybody.”

The subject of all this wisdom is the spectacular-looking 2017 Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe, a treat to our senses.

Fire up the 4C’s engine and the exhaust note takes care of sound.

Rub your hand over the strong carbon-fiber body and you understand another reason why the Italian designers had the right touch.

WELCOME: Leather and microfiber seats, dashboard, and steering wheel give a luxury touch to the mostly minimalist Alfa Romeo 4C sports car. —Bill Griffith

What about smell?

You can experience that in several ways. One is to get inside (no easy feat; more about that later) and experience the olfactory treats of fine leather and new-car smell.

The other is to drive this mid-engine rocket hard and then smell the hot oil and rubber scents through the vents alongside the rear window-hatch and rear cargo compartment.

However, the one sense the 4C doesn’t treat is common sense.

This vehicle certainly isn’t for everyone. That’s not its intention. Nor is it for everyday driving. Let us count just 10 of the ways.

  1. No power steering. Parking and maneuvering in tight spaces is tedious and time-consuming, also partly because …
  2. …Rear visibility is negligible. There’s no rearview camera, not even as an option, and the view out the rear hatch is minimal. Rear parking sensors help…a bit.
  3. There aren’t any storage places inside, including a spot to put your cellphone. The small rear cargo area (right behind the engine) means the few items you put there are subject to extreme heat.
  4. Getting in is a job for the very flexible; otherwise, you turn around, aim your posterior at the seat, and fall inside. Flexible knees help a lot.
  5. Getting out is a bit harder and pretty much impossible to do gracefully. You extricate your legs, then either push off the extra-wide sill or pull yourself by the doorframe. Another option: Get a hand from one of the admirers the car seems to attract wherever you park.
  6. The pedals. Instead of hanging from above, the brake pedal is hinged on the floor. It’s a strange feeling the first time you sit in the 4C, but you quickly get used to it.
  7. The 4C is fairly wide, but the seats themselves are on the narrow side, positioned down between those wide sills that actually are part of the weight-saving, strength-giving, carbon-fiber monocoque chassis.
  8. For those who are concerned with seat comfort, there’s virtually no adjustment on these sport seats. A bit of back-and-forth travel is it. The seatback is fixed and extremely upright—actually my preferred position. So I found it pretty comfortable even when an anticipated 45-minute drive turned out to be an hour longer. I emerged no worse for wear.
  9. The stiff suspension. On the plus side, the 4C corners as if it’s on a rail. On the negative side, you feel every bump. Back on the plus side, we were driving it in Florida where the roads are pretty smooth so the stiff suspension was a joy.
  10. The lightweight 4C (2,465 pounds) doesn’t have a lot of sound insulation to cancel road noise, the engine adds noise (it’s right behind the seats), and the exhaust note, pleasing in the short run, can be a bit much over the long haul.

Some might think of those as negatives; others, those for whom the 4C is designed, consider it the price to pay to drive something that performs like a Ferrari, Lamborghini, or McLaren and turns the same number of heads, for a fraction of the price.

Speaking of the price, the 4C checks in at a base price of $57,495 (including destination).

Our fully optioned test vehicle—remember the “it doesn’t get any better than this”—was as good as it can get in the 4C world. Options included racing leather-microfiber seats ($2,000); convenience group with alarm, cruise control, and rear parking sensors ($1,400); carbon fiber trim group ($2,000); track package with carbon fiber rear spoiler, leather-microfiber steering wheel, and race-tuned suspension ($2,300); car cover ($400); carbon fiber Italian flag side mirrors ($300); bi-xenon headlamps ($1,000); carbon fiber roof ($2,500), sport-tuned exhaust ($500); Alpine audio system ($900); optional 18-inch front, 19-inch rear wheels ($2,500), battery charger ($150), leather-trimmed interior ($2,000), and Black signature Brembo brake calipers ($300).

Bottom line: $75,745.

Judging from the gearheads who marveled at it, sat in it, watched us drive it, there’s a big group of 4C aficionados.

And that group grew as casual observers heard the 1.75-liter turbocharged engine bark, sounding as if it were eager to discharge all of its 237 horses and 258 lb.-ft. of torque.

We say farewell as the 4C heads off in the distance with a lucky driver enjoying a sense-ational ride.

Bill Griffith can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MrAutoWriter

2017 Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe


Price, base/as tested (with destination): $57,495/$75,745. Fuel economy, EPA estimated: 24 city/34 highway. Fuel economy, Globe observed: 29.6. Drivetrain: 1.75-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder mid-engine, 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive. Body: Carbon fiber and aluminum monocoque 2-seat sports car. 


Horsepower: 237. Torque: 258 lb.-ft. Overall length: 157 in. Wheelbase: 93.7 in. Height: 46.6 in. Width: 73.5 in. Curb weight: 2,456 in.


Looks, handling, performance.


Driving drawbacks: no power steering or rearview camera; lack of creature comforts.


A great looking car with the performance to back it up.


These somewhat similar vehicles: Audi TTS, BMW M3, Chevrolet Corvette (used), Dodge Viper, Ford Shelby Mustang, Lotus Evora, Porsche Boxster and Caym

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2017 Porsche 911 Targa 4S First Test Review: Full Circle

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I have the Porsche 911 Targa to thank for my love of cars. My dad shared his passion of cars with me before I could even walk, but I think it was my grandfather’s—my Papa’s—1980 Porsche 911SC Targa that cemented my love of all things on wheels. My Papa only had his 911 Targa for the first eight years of my life, but those years proved formative. As a toddler, I remember sneaking into my grandparent’s Silver Spring, Maryland, garage to peek at his silver Targa, and when I was big and brave enough, I’d hop in the driver’s seat and imagine what it was like to drive. I never did get the chance to drive Papa’s 911—he sold it back in 1997—so when the chance to test the new 991.2-series 2017 Porsche 911 Targa 4S came up, I jumped at the opportunity to get a little taste of what I missed out on.

Unlike the three generations of Targas that graced the Porsche lineup between Papa’s 911SC and my 991.2-series tester, the current 911 Targa is a faithful tribute to the original. Whereas the two earlier generations of Targas were little more than 911 Carreras with large glass sunroofs, the 991-series Targa nails the look and feel of the original—it sports a cloth top and the iconic targa bar and teardrop-shaped rear glass. The new 911 Targa is true to the look of the original but perhaps not the simplicity. All it took to remove the cloth top on an old 911 Targa like my Papa’s was to yank a couple latches and pins, pull the cloth top off, and stow it in the frunk. Simple.

2017 Porsche 911 Targa 4S front side

2017 Porsche 911 Targa 4S front side

Stowing the new 911 Targa’s top can be done from the comfort of the driver’s seat, but Porsche has made the world’s simplest soft top infinitely more complex. Essentially a hybrid between the hardtop 911 Carrera and Cabriolet, the 911 Targa uses the Cabriolet’s power folding top mechanism to stow the cloth top from the comfort of the driver’s seat. Press the same switch you’d use to put down the top on a 911 Cabriolet, and the Targa’s clamshell rear hatch opens up and back to form a Z shape, two flaps on the sides of the Targa bar shoot open, and the top folds back to stow behind the rear seats underneath the glass for all to see. The Targa bar flaps then close as the clamshell comes back down to earth. The whole process is incredibly complex and takes about 20 seconds while stationary to complete.

Technology marches forward under the hood of the 911 Targa, too. My 2017 911 Targa 4S tester sports the same displacement, cylinder count, and configuration as my Papa’s old air-cooled 911SC, but that’s about where all the similarities end. The 991.2 911 Targa 4S is powered by a water-cooled 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged flat-six producing 420 hp and 368 lb-ft of torque—that’s 248 more horsepower and 179 more lb-ft of torque than the old 911SC. The Targa also has more gear ratios and more driven wheels than the rear-drive 911SC with a five-speed manual; our tester is equipped with the PDK seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (a seven-speed manual is standard) and all-wheel drive, which is currently the only available drivetrain option on the Targa.

Like all current 911s, this one is a performer, but let’s take a quick look at its predecessor first. Although we never tested a 911SC Targa, we did test a 1983 911SC Cabriolet that accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, the quickest time we ever recorded with a 911SC. Thanks to modern technology, launch control, and all-wheel drive, our 2017 911 Targa 4S sprints from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.3 seconds. By the time it takes the old 911SC to hit 60 mph, the 911 Targa 4S has already nearly hit 90 mph. A little more than 5 seconds later—at 11.7 seconds, to be exact—the 911 Targa 4S blows through the quarter mile at 117.8 mph. Were it lined up with its modern counterpart at the strip, the 911SC Cabriolet follows 3.2 seconds later at 91.1 mph.

This Targa can stop and turn, too. With modern ABS and summer tires, our Targa 4S tester completed the 60–0 panic stop in an impressive 97 feet and averaged 1.04 g on the skidpad—a 47-foot shorter stop and 0.22 g more grip than its predecessor. We didn’t do figure-eight testing back in the ’80s, but it’s safe to say the old car couldn’t touch the 911 Targa 4S’ 23.8-second lap, averaging 0.85 g.

I recall one of my first rides in my Papa’s old 911 when I was about 5 years old. I can’t exactly say why Papa decided to take me for a ride that day, but I can vividly remember how content I felt with the warm summer air flowing through the cabin and that flat-six singing behind us as he worked through the old Porsche’s five-speed gearbox. That day wasn’t particularly notable otherwise, but I never forgot what it was like to be in a good sports car on a gorgeous summer day.

I think I would’ve been even more impressed with the current 911 Targa 4S and its remarkable ability to combine daily drivability with supercar levels of performance. In the hustle and bustle of the Los Angeles grind, the 911 Targa is an exceptional commuter. The 911’s new turbocharged engine works seamlessly with the transmission to always have enough torque on tap to plug a gap in traffic or pass a Prius in the left lane all while still returning an indicated 18.7 mpg over nearly 900 miles of mixed testing. The EPA rates it at 21/27/24 mpg city/highway/combined. Ride quality for the Porsche is also excellent over some of L.A.’s more poorly maintained roads, and unlike many convertibles, outward visibility is excellent, thanks to the wrap-around bubble rear glass.

2017 Porsche 911 Targa 4S side top down

2017 Porsche 911 Targa 4S side top down

The 911 is even better on a good back road in its sport modes. Sport mode is the less aggressive of the two sport modes on the 911 Targa. It loosens traction control restrictions, firms up steering, keeps the Porsche’s flat-six in a lower gear than it would normally, and most importantly adds a healthy dose of crackles and pops from the optional sport exhaust system on overrun. Sport+ is better still and is what I opted for more often than not on canyon roads. It firms up the suspension, shifts more aggressively to maximize the engine’s output, and sharpens steering even more. Even with the extra 300 pounds or so of weight the Targa 4S carries versus a 911 Carrera 4S, it isn’t noticeable on back roads; the Porsche still remains as eager to please as ever, rocketing from corner to corner with sharp, direct steering, great feedback from the road, and a torquey engine that loves to rev.

Although the 2017 Porsche 911 Targa 4S might be a great everyday driver, there’s no denying it doesn’t have an everyman price. With prices starting at $123,650 for a Targa 4S, our lightly equipped tester rolls off dealer lots for $149,970. Just to bring things full circle, a brand-new 1980 911 SC Targa started at around $30,000, or around $88,690 in 2017 dollars. The cheapest 911 you can get today, a 911 Carrera, starts at $92,150. Inflation is something, isn’t it?

Some might be turned off by the 2017 911 Targa 4S’ high cost of entry, but people don’t buy 911s—or sports cars, period—for practical reasons. I recently asked my Papa, someone I’ve known my entire life to be an incredibly practical man, why he bought his Targa back in 1989. He told me that after providing for his family his whole life and having retired from a long career at IBM, he wanted to reward himself with a fast European sports car. It was an emotional decision, not a practical one, and in a life where we’re all attempting to make practicalities supreme, sometimes you just have to do something that makes you feel good. With that top stowed, that twin-turbocharged flat-six singing, and a good road in front of you, the new 911 Targa 4S fits the bill just as nicely today as it did for my Papa and those like him 28 years ago.

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Macan shines in snow or sun

I rarely succumb to envy. On a journalist’s salary, it’s better not to.

I lust not for the Range Rovers, the BMW X5s, or the Audi Q5s driven by parents at my fifth grader’s fancy-pants private school. When my daughter, my wife, and I drive up to Lake Tahoe from Berkeley, Calif. – as we do nearly every weekend in the winter – it’s in our solid, practical, low-cost Subaru Forester.

Those luxury SUVs? Ungainly vehicles that drive less like cars, more like trucks. Snow handling’s no better than in my Subaru. Cushy, yes. But worth twice the price? Not for me.

Then there’s the Porsche Macan.

When the Macan hit showrooms three years ago, I was intrigued. The reviews were near-unanimous: a luxury all-wheel-drive hatchback with enough space to be considered a compact sport-utility vehicle but designed to provide a pure Porsche sports-car ride. (Few such accolades are directed at the Porsche Cayenne, whose larger size creates some trucklike characteristics.)

But how well would the Macan do in the snow? This was the year to find out.

The Sierra Nevada have gotten socked with 30 feet of snow in 2017 so far.

I borrowed a silver Macan GTS for a week in February – the season’s heaviest snow week in a year.

We were unable to extract full joy out of the 3.0-liter V-6 twin turbocharged, 360-horsepower engine, especially around the curves, given that the car was, necessarily, fitted with snow tires. But playing giddy-up on the dry sections of I-80 before we hit the mountains provided plenty of rush.

The snowfall was thick as we traversed the mountains, the wipers going full blast, barely able to keep up. A few cars had pulled to the roadside to put on chains or wait it out. I wasn’t pushing it, speed-wise, but the Macan handled the storm as sure-footedly as any vehicle I’ve ever driven.

The real test was the driveway at the rental house – a steep ascent around a tight curve. Some vehicles, even all-wheel-drive vehicles, have problems here, especially on fresh snow before the plow guy arrives.

My Forester has had no problems. Neither did the Macan. It scampered right up, never mind several inches of powder and a frozen layer underneath.

Just as different engines sport different characteristics, so do all-wheel-drive technologies. High-end versions now use sensors and software to monitor conditions and distribute power among the wheels accordingly.

Some do it better than others. Reviewers have praised the Macan’s AWD performance generally. I can attest that it works great for those who need it in heavy snow.

But would I pay the $89,000 required to own the Macan GTS I drove? (The base price is $69,000, but the options add up fast.)

Absolutely, if I had the money. It’s a sports car with a little extra room. It drives like a dream, even in bad weather. It corners better than any SUV I’ve driven or ridden in. Horsepower and other technical details aside, the powertrain provides physical and emotional sensations that might cause it to be outlawed if it was a drug. The sportily elegant interior is inviting enough to be called womblike, if wombs were equipped with buttons, dials, and a gearshift.

The Forester does the job it’s meant to do, and does it well. I own the XT version, with sport mode and turbo. I like it fine; I’d even recommend it highly. Compared with the Macan, though, it’s a box on wheels.

Does the Macan have any downsides? Only one: the size. Although the small proportions allow for an agile and exciting ride, there’s a price to be paid in interior dimensions: just 17.7 cubic feet in the back with the seats up. Enough to handle two adults and a kid and our gear, but barely. The front seats had plenty of stretch room, but the backseat is usable for adults only in a pinch.

Still, I’d tell snow-sport parents with two kids or fewer to consider mounting a cargo bin on top and snow tires on the bottom for ski and snowboard season, and get your thrills on high-performance tires the nine other months of the year.

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