First Drive

2016 Audi TT/TTS Review

2016 Audi TT/TTS Review

The first time I saw the Audi TT, I can remember saying to myself, “wow - what a great looking car - I can't wait to grow up and buy one.” I was 21 when Audi first introduced the original TT in 1995; now, 20 years later and in it's third generation, it’s still a great looking car. Technology doesn’t stand still, however, and so the latest TT is more refined and technologically advanced both inside and out. Question is, has two decades been generous to the TT or just put it firmly into middle-age.

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2016 Honda Accord First Drive – Coupe, Sedan, and Sport

2016 Honda Accord First Drive – Coupe, Sedan, and Sport

Scale is important, and so when it came to refreshing the best-selling 2016 Accord, it's no surprise that Honda took no chances. Volume seller in the company's line-up, both the sedan and the coupe body-styles needed bringing up to speed with the latest technology like Android Auto and CarPlay, but with minimal damage to the sticker price along the way. Refinement on a budget isn't easy, so the question remains: does Honda still make the car for the everyman?

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2016 Cadillac CTS-V First Drive – 640 all-American horses

2016 Cadillac CTS-V First Drive – 640 all-American horses

There's a moment, just after you start up the 2016 Cadillac CTS-V, when the seat belt gently contracts around you, almost like the 640 horsepower super-sedan is giving you a hug. It's a reassuring gesture, though a little at odds with the near-simultaneous gurgle from the engine as the exhaust valves flutter. "Sure, I'm 16.5 feet long, weigh more than four thousand pounds, and will catapult to sixty miles per hour in 3.7 seconds and then run all the way to 200 mph," the Caddy is saying, "but I don't want to kill you in the process."

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2016 Mazda CX-3 First Drive – Crossover style, Miata spirit

2016 Mazda CX-3 First Drive – Crossover style, Miata spirit

Mazda wants to make a compact crossover that isn't boringly earnest, and the 2016 CX-3 is the striking result. Taking on the Honda HR-V, Fiat's 500X, and Jeep's Renegade among the other smaller SUVs that have proliferated among city streets in recent months, the CX-3's promise is that you needn't sacrifice fun simply because an MX-5 Miata won't fit all your friends or family. Turns out, they're actually on to something, though it helps if you tick the right options.

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2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata First Drive – Roadster Reborn

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata First Drive – Roadster Reborn

It's close to being a miracle that the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata exists. As the cars around it get bigger, more luxurious, and more insulated from the road beneath them, and as semi-autonomous technologies become more and more mainstream, a tiny, purist roadster seems all the more an outlier. Surely Mazda's accountants and its "brand strategists" will weigh in and, for this fourth-generation, dilute the MX-5 with demands for practicality? Read on, because I have good news.

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2017 Audi R8 First Drive – All supercar, no compromises

2017 Audi R8 First Drive – All supercar, no compromises

There’s driving, and then there’s driving a car that thinks it’s a racer. Thing is, the Audi R8 has the credentials to back that up, born from an unmistakably noble family of champions and given the same name as a Le Mans winning sports car. For the 2017 R8, Audi turned to the same engineering team that developed the Nurburgring 24 Hours-winning R8 LMS race car, including half a shared parts bucket. It’s something I found hard to forget when Audi invited SlashGear to Portugal, to be among the first to try the new R8 on the track.

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2016 Scion iM first-drive – Goodbye xB, hello maturity

2016 Scion iM first-drive – Goodbye xB, hello maturity

Scion made its name with a bizarre hatchback, the xB, and is hoping to revive its fortunes with the 2016 iM. Targeting fun-seeking but cash-poor Millennials with a sub-$20k sticker price and lashings of standard kit, the iM not only courts those who might covet a Golf or a Mazda 3, but drivers that might otherwise be looking to a four-year-old used car instead of something new off the forecourt. Times are tough, though, and so rather than cook up a new car from scratch, Scion has followed the same approach that netted the perky FR-S roadster for its range and based the iM on an existing design.

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2016 Scion iA first-drive – Slack-jawed sedan with Mazda zoom

2016 Scion iA first-drive – Slack-jawed sedan with Mazda zoom

Scion has decided the 18-35 demographic it’s desperate to attract to is in need of an aspirational sports sedan, and the 2016 Scion iA is the result. Mouth of a guppy, mechanics of a Mazda, and price tag of something several years old and with at least one other owners’ name on the title, the iA isn’t lacking in ambition, certainly, and neither has it spared the spec-sheet. All the same, the controversial looks and dinky engine could spoil the show, though Scion has reached high for things like safety tech.

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2016 Audi TT/TTS and Q7 Virtual Cockpit First-Drive

2016 Audi TT/TTS and Q7 Virtual Cockpit First-Drive

I’m not going to lie, I feel pretty damn lucky to be one of a handful of American press with the privilege of experiencing Audi's Virtual Cockpit in the new TT/TTS and Q7. The opportunity to drive the TTS around Ascari racetrack was nothing short of exhilarating - especially with Virtual Cockpit getting me ready me for turns far in advance. Then, after experiencing Audi’s technology on the track, Audi invited me over to Verbier, Switzerland to test the all-new 2016 Q7, also equipped with Virtual Cockpit, in the way that most drivers will experience it.

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2016 Volvo XC90 first-drive – Scandinavia on wheels

2016 Volvo XC90 first-drive – Scandinavia on wheels

Nordic noir has invaded our television and our bookshelves, and now Volvo wants to do the same for luxury SUVs with the all-new 2016 XC90. As many companies, automotive and otherwise have discovered, throwing money at a problem isn’t necessarily the best way to fix it. Nonetheless, it helps to have deep pockets when you’re tasked with completely reinventing your line-up, and Volvo has spent over $11bn since it was sold to Geely in 2010 and began to rebuild its range from the ground up. Now, we’re getting a taste of what that money bought, and like moody Scandinavian detectives, it turns out to be complicated.

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2016 Camaro first-drive – Look out, Mustang

2016 Camaro first-drive – Look out, Mustang

Don’t underestimate the 2016 Camaro, or indeed how important it is. The chunky Transformers styling may border on the caricature from some angles, but the Camaro is deadly serious when it comes to winning new converts to GM: a full 63-percent of the outgoing model were General Motors virgins. So, when Chevrolet asked if I wanted to take the current engineering prototype out on the track, it seemed rude to say no.

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