Tag Archives: review

The Monocle Guide To Better Living

monocle-guide-to-better-living-book

Just received this Monocle book entitled “The Monocle Guide To Better Living”.  If you’ve never read the magazine Monocle, then i would strongly advise you to pick up a copy.  For people such as me with an imagination that finds itself wondering about different places, ideas, people, and ways of living—Monocle is sort of like the ‘ultimate’ magazine of sorts.  It focuses on culture and society—but not in a way you would pick up from the news or from regular every day information outlets.  It focuses on the small details of things that really captivate and interest people such as myself.

monocle-guide-to-better-living-sample

Monocle as a magazine is a challenging, but captivating read.  I have spent a few breezy minutes flipping through this book thus far and my only description would be to say that the book continues where the magazine leaves off—but with a more concrete and themed presentation.  Beautiful old-school yellow cover and binding and lovely matte pages.  400 pages.  Wonderful for my bookshelf.  Highly recommended.

ORDER HERE

 

 

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Fitzroy Chronograph.

I do love nice watches.  These days I am less inclined to want things ‘vintage’ and more inclined to want something totally NEW—inspired by the idea of creating my own legacy and my own vintage rather than buying into somebody else’s.  More about this in a later post as well…

I was in search for a truly modern, original, and unique chronograph watch.  It had to be automatic, and it had to represent 2012, not 1972.  It’s easy to find all sorts of ‘vintage chronographs’ on eBay and to buy into some other history—but I wanted to buy a watch that, in 30 years, someone could look at and appreciate for the time it was made in.  This is a small company making low-production watches—with unique features like an ‘external’ watchband bar, chunky beautifully made case, unique dial accenting, and a simply gorgeous transparent rear housing.

Last year, I briefly remember seeing a blip about a London brand called Fitzroy launching a series of Automatic (their own, swiss made automatic movements—again, original) and a modern set of stylish watches which I found thoroughly beautiful and original.   You won’t meet anyone else wearing one of these…and furthermore, it is a low-production, interesting, and creative timepiece.  Fitzroy Automatic Chronographs start at $880.  Their standard Automatic watches start at a touch over $500.  They supposedly will have a selection of custom fit designed watchbands available for purchase—however as of yet I have not been able to procure any other bands.

I absolutely love this watch.   Appreciation of the modern is the vintage of the future.

Fitzroy Website

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video of the day. Bac Mono.

As my tastes continue to evolve into mixing vintage ethos and future technology, I have found myself moving the Bac Mono higher and higher in my list of favourite cars in the world.  For starters, the design is simply phenomenal; with massive attention to detail and advancing the otherwise ungainly track car stereotype into something which transcends its function.

The price is high when compared to other cars in the ‘track day specials’ category (75k GBP) and the production is low (50 units in 2012); but here’s hoping the company takes off and brings more cars to production.  Supposedly, distribution to the US market is also secured through a Lotus shop in San Francisco.   I get the feeling that after driving this around, everything else would simply just be boring—in any price range.

I’ll take mine in bright yellow-green OR stone cold black.

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Evo on the BRZ.

The Subaru BRZ has been a ‘mental debate’ in my mind for the past few months—–on one hand I respect the simplicity, directness, smallness, and the proposed agility and old-school sensibilities of it.  On the other hand, I am skeptical of the hype, ‘the scene’ which will accompany it, the average-to-poor styling details, and the sense of cheapness surrounding it.

That being said, my overall feelings about it are positive.  I have, however, been slightly annoyed by the gushing praise being heaped upon it by the automotive media—-who tend to flock like vultures all over the next-big-thing when it comes out.  Last year we saw the cool-but-overrated BMW 1M and this year the BRZ is the latest to reach that ranking.

This is why it is quite refreshing to see an EVO review where he doesn’t gush….he praises, but also seems a bit cynical even after driving it.  Nice to finally see a fair review!  Nice music and cinematography as well.

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video of the day. RS3.

I really love my 2012 A3 quattro….in fact, in terms of performance, usability, practicality, quality, comfort, looks, and overall balance—-i think it’s the best car i’ve ever owned.   I will be writing up a 1 year review of the car very soon, as that time is coming—That being said, there isn’t a week that goes by where i don’t find myself imagining that it is an RS3.  I’m still upset that Audi of America decided not to bring the 8P RS3 to the US market.

this video is in spanish, but doesn’t prevent enjoyment of seeing the finest hot hatch in the world in action!

 

 

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video of the day. boxster.

I really like the new Boxster—-i think it’s very aggressive looking, spiffy interior, and just a big time improvement over the prior interpretations.  In fact, it’s the first Boxster i’ve seen that actually looks the part…

Of course I still don’t really care for roadsters, however this sets everything up for the obvious future question:  How great will the next Cayman be!?

Chris Harris has reviewed the new Boxster:

 

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Why did I even bother?

As an automotive enthusiast, I am of course drawn to most things motoring or automobile related almost instantly; as if it is a part of my natural instincts.  Last month, I saw one of those ‘super deals’ on car magazine subscriptions offering 12 months of magazines for $5.  I thought to myself “$20 will get me 4 subscriptions to 4 different car magazines!” and so I jotted my name down and signed up. Car & Driver, Road & Track, Motor Trend, and Automobile Magazine.

Now it seems regular that my mailbox is filled with these rolled up American car magazines, and I am left wondering why I even wasted $20 on them.   I didn’t want to criticize the US car magazine industry, but let me just tell you:  These magazines are unimaginative, boring, ad-filled, wastes of paper!  It’s like Autoblog, but in paper form.  I can’t even figure out if any of them are better than the others, because it is impossible to distinguish which one is least crap.

For now, I will have to suffer this silly 12 month subscription; although I am currently debating canceling all of them, even if i don’t get my money back.

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PLM: Audi R8 V10 review.

Finally after hearing hype for the past several years about the legendary Audi R8, I finally was able to get an unhinged, 30 minute drive of the R8 V10 Spyder during my fantastic trip to Petit Le Mans this past weekend.

So let me be very straightforward like a bow and arrow when I say that all the hype you’ve heard about the R8 is very much true.  This was quite simply one of the greatest cars i’ve ever driven, and i’m not just saying this because it’s an Audi—–i’m saying this because this has to be the greatest combination of driveability, exclusivity, desirability, and character in a car i’ve felt in a long time.

I’m not a convertible type of person, and originally I had asked to take a Coupe out for a spin, however when I was welcomed to the area to pick up my car—it was a black V10 Spyder they had signed me up for, and hey I wasn’t complaining.  So on a day where it was 70 degrees and perfect harmony—-i was given the wheel of the R8.

Upon taking a seat in the R8, what struck me instantly is just how fantastically Audi the car was—-the mirror settings, seat settings, climate controls, steering wheel, gauge cluster—-it all felt familiar, and It felt like a direct descendant of my MK1 TT quattro and my 8P A3 quattro.  Audi make the best interiors in the business, and the R8’s was no different—–extremely well made, easy to settle into, and easy on the eyes.  I felt right at home.

The first 5 minutes of driving were taken with ease while I tried to understand WHY the R8 V10 felt so stable, comfortable, and easy to drive.  Could it really be this laid back?  Then as my shoes drove down on the accelerator pedal, I began to hear what was lurking behind me in the mid-engined glory of that 5.2L V10.  The most beautiful, symphonic V10 symphony…..slowly rising as the accelerator depressed.  It didn’t take me long to realise that I was driving a hugely powerful car with massive amounts of grip and control, and I couldn’t help myself to pounding on the accelerator a bit more.  The sound I heard bellowing out from behind me has to be one of THE great sounds i’ve heard on any drive—–the most beautiful velvet growl and organic roar.  The throttle response was instant, the grip was severe and complete with confidence never lacking.

One of the great feelings was planting my shoes into the accelerator at full throttle (to the floor) and hearing the V10 at maximum power, the power felt endless, the sound was blistering, and that’s when I understood why someone would buy a Spyder over a Coupe, because the sound that one gets from driving the Spyder is just f*cking sweetness.  On that day, in that car, I’d choose the Spyder.  And you will certainly NEVER hear me ever pick a Spyder over a Coupe in any normal state.  The brakes?  They were phenomenal.  Instant stop with big bite.  The steering was very direct, more than any other Audi i’ve driven—–besides my control-arm modified TT.  The car just felt extraordinarily balanced.

The V10 Spyder I drove had a sequential manual gearbox, which is essentially a single clutch manual transmission with sequential shifting (R-Tronic).  I thought the gearbox was going to let me down—-but it didn’t.  Each gear is shifted like a manual, and jolts the driver (even more so than a regular manual) and shifts instantly.  It feels like a race car—-and to me the R-Tronic is very impressive.  More so than I expected—–but that being said, i’m a HUGE fan of these electronic manual transmissions.  They are better than manuals and to me, just as enjoyable.

Negatives? I honestly can’t think of any.  I have been sitting here for 10 minutes trying to think of some, but the only things I can think of is that I wish the wheels were darker, and that the windshield wasn’t surrounded in silver.  Aside from those small cosmetic issues (which can easily be changed), there is nothing lacking in this car….

So all in all, the R8 is an absolute sensation.  So easy to drive, an amateur can drive it—–but so vivid and entertaining that an enthusiast can envelope themselves within it.  I was speaking with a regional Audi representative about the R8 named Paige (sp?) who told me that in a huge Northeast snowstorm last year—–she drove out into the storm, in an R8 Coupe, on an evening where nobody was on the road—she got to a restaurant to pick up some food and registered looks of shock on the faces of everyone at the restaurant.  It’s not just a sports car, it’s a car for every place and every setting.  Do I want? Yes I want.  Can I have? No, not yet.  Give it a couple of years!  I need time to gather up $150k+! Is it one of the best sports cars in the world? Easily—–is it better than a 911 Carrera or Carrera S? Easily….is it better than a 911 Turbo? I haven’t driven a 911 Turbo so i can’t say…but I can imagine it would be a good comparison.   That being said, all I know is that it’s easily the best car i’ve ever driven.

 

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IEDEI going to Petit Le Mans.

The race is this Saturday—-in Atlanta, Georgia, and IEDEI-Audiphile will be there in full force with the Audi corral in the hospitality suite starting from Friday!  This is my first attending of an endurance race, and i’m damn excited to see my favourite race car (Audi R18 TDI) battle it out with Peugeot!  Expect plenty and lots of pics on Audiphile and here on IEDEI.

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film review: “Drive”

By now you’ve probably heard all sorts of ‘hype’ surrounding the release of “DRIVE” to the cinemas.  Besides the over-ambitious title, and the blatant Steve McQueen-like imitations of Ryan Gosling in the photos and trailers leading up to the release of the film—–I feel it would be appropriate for a petrolhead perspective on the film.

For the first 15 minutes of this film, I sat in my seat in awe—–thinking that this may join the ranks of one of the greatest car films/films ever made.  My mind slowly changed over the course of the next 1 hour and 25 minutes as “Drive” entertained the hell out of me, but fell into the trap of uber-violence, as american films generally tend to do.  That being said, the classic Steve McQueen-isms and the slightly over-acted role of Ryan Gosling actually work pretty damn well.  The degree of straight up violence in this film is pretty heavy, so don’t think that watching a V8 being dismantled is what’s around the corner.  You are in for some gore.

From the perspective of actual driving and automobile references in the film—-i think there are many references to the love of actually driving, rather than the love of automobiles.  The Dodge Charger Chrysler 300c (thanks Anon) vs. Ford Mustang chase in here, which only lasts a minute or so—-is a good one, but a blatant tribute to one of the most famous car scenes ever put onto film from “Bullitt”.   Other than that, there are some decent car scenes, but i am pleased they were not drenched in absurd special effects like other hollywood car films tend to be.  The guy loves to drive though, and he’s got perforated driving gloves to back it up!  Those driving gloves (see picture) are a nice touch.   I’m not sure why they gave him an old grey Chevy Malibu to drive in the rest of the film, however the car is obviously ‘modded’ (interior and exterior).

All in all, this film is the perfect combination of “Bullitt”, “Taxi Driver” and the utterly fantastic TV series “Dexter”.  It is violent, interesting, and very well made.  The soundtrack is cool, the cinematography is cool, and the acting is good.  I enjoyed the film very much, although I think it could have been EVEN better with a bit less violence, and some better cars.

trailer:

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the failed CRX resurrection.

When i was a kid i LOVED the Honda CRX.  Maybe because it was small, maybe because it looked like a pure sports car, maybe because it came in cool bright colours, maybe because it just looked badass!  I’m not sure why the CRX was discontinued.  The car Honda released as a successor was more of a rival for the Mazda Miata—-and had sort of lost the plot of the original CRX.  The Del Sol was much different, with a weird targa roof and sort of a more california beach car look….i still liked the Del Sol when it came out, but not nearly as much as i loved the CRX.

Last year, Honda introduced the CR-Z, which is clearly a hommage to the original CRX.  I have to say i am NOT a fan—the car looks more like a Prius or an Insight rather than the original CRX.  The rear is way too high, the front is way too overstyled, and the car is just too big.  What a shame…..Honda wonders why their sales are plummeting in the US market—-it’s not hard to figure out why.  They are producing bland, Honda-by-the-numbers.   Even their attempt at an ‘interesting’ CRX-redux resulted in a weird looking hybrid that doesn’t appeal to people like us who loved the CRX growing up.

MK1 CRX:

MK2 CRX:

CR-Z:

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IEDEI buys a new car!

Apologies for not updating this Sunday, however I was too busy enjoying the hell out of my new car buying experience!

Car shopping has been a very enjoyable experience.   I must admit that I only posted  3 of my favourite cars I reviewed, however there were many others which I ended up testing but never wrote a review on. Some of the others included: Subaru WRX, Mercedes C300, VW GTI, Audi A4, BMW 135i, Audi RS6 (C5), and a few more.  I really enjoyed the Evo 10, and honestly it was the best performing car I drove amongst all of them—however I could get past the vulgarity of it, the subwoofer and battery filling up the trunk, and the poor mileage (15-20mpg).  The Audi S4 was a superbly nice car to sit in and drive, however it felt too imposing for me and too large.  I liked it, but I didn’t love it.  The BMW 335i was a decent package which sort of occupied the middle of the road here.  In my decision making process, I really started to understand why I really didn’t want any of those cars—–because they were either too big, not enough fun, OR not built well enough.

2 years ago, my wife and I had driven to an Audi dealership to drive (and buy) an Audi A3.  We both loved the car, however we couldn’t really afford to buy one new at the time.  Now, we were able to afford one, so that’s exactly what i’ve done.  The car wasn’t easy to find in the spec I wanted, as there was only ONE car in this spec arriving in the USA this month.  I found that car, and had to really do some hustling to get it before somebody else did.

2012 Audi A3 2.0T quattro: titanium sport package (sport suspension, sport seats, black trim interior/exterior, 18″ RS titanium/silver wheels), navigation with ipod integration, bluetooth, open sky (full front/rear sunroof), cold weather package (heated seats, heated mirrors, heated blah blah), S-Tronic DSG (dual-clutch transmission)

I picked up the car on saturday morning.  I have not stopped smiling every since! It is such a riot to drive, and I am so impressed by its agility, composure, handling, acceleration, and its overall build quality.  The car feels extremely well built, each door closes with a german ‘thud’, and every time i get into the special leather & perforated alcantara seats and wrap my hands around the thick perforated leather steering wheel—the car feels very special.  Audi states the mfg 0-60 times of 6.7 seconds, although it feels very quick—even quicker than that.  The quattro system keeps all the 200hp useable and you feel huge amounts of grip in the corners.  A $500 ECU ‘reflash’ adds 50hp and 100+lb/fut torque.  What a car though…..i’m enjoying every minute of it!

There were other cars I tested which were faster or more capable performers than the A3, however none of them offered the entire package of style and substance like the A3 does—–and none of them made me happy like the A3 does!  The interior of the car is just downright fantastic, and really impresses me with its final attention to detail (white stitching on dark grey leather with perforated alcantara inserts) and materials.  The layout is minimalist and very easy to use—especially since much of it was modeled after my other car, the MK1 TT.  The ‘sport’ seats are better than I expected, with nice big bolsters on the sides and on the shoulders.   I had never seen these seats in person before, but was highly pleased with them on the car.  The RNS-E updated Navigation system is very easy to use, and being someone who isn’t particularly tech savvy when it comes to connecting devices, I have found the bluetooth connectivity to my iPhone to be remarkably easy to use and intuitive.

Let me be honest by saying that NO Audi is ‘cheap’ to buy, and I spent a significant amount of money getting the car in exactly the spec I wanted to—–but I will say that after driving this since Saturday, I think the car definitely feels or exceeds its price in every way.  There is a level of build quality and thoughtfulness throughout the design which exceeds my expectations.  This 8P generation of the Audi A3 has been around for several years now, first debut’ing in the US market back in 2006.  However I think the design of the car is just wonderful, and harks back to the older days of Audi, when they were a bit more understated and boxy.  The headlights and taillights are truly a work of art, with LEDs present on both ends and bixenon headlights rolling in the front.   Notice that the Titanium sport package removes the ‘chrome’ outline around the large modern Audi single frame grille design, making the grille far more subtle and not so ‘bling’—-something i wanted as a priority on this car.  I think the blackened grille surround really adds to the appeal of the front end.

Driving wise, I am really enjoying the hell out of the car.  The S-tronic/DSG (dual clutch transmission) is unbelievable….and after years of driving manual gearboxes, I am truly amazed by the performance which can be transmitted to the road with the DSG.  While there are great amounts of satisfaction in pressing a clutch and shifting a gear on a manual transmission car–I am finding great satisfaction of having both hands on the wheel and getting an instant, race car-like shift using the paddle shifters on the back of the steering wheel.  This is not an automatic transmission, it is a truly automated manual transmission utilizing clutches (2 of them) just like a manual transmission would—-the difference is that the box is electronically controlled and you press the paddles without the use of a clutch everytime you shift.  If you haven’t tried this gearbox out, you must do so!  There is a level of control which I have never felt in all of my years in driving manuals.   The handling on the A3 quattro is superb, very sure footed and very firm with great levels of grip on the 18″ special RS titanium and silver wheels.  I have already flung the car into corners with great composure, and the stiffened sport package springs keeping everything neutral and alive.  The steering feel is among the best i’ve felt in an Audi.  I am the first to admit that the big weakness in most Audis I have driven has been steering response; in my TT I actually modified the car to with new control arms bushings to improve the response, which it did dramatically.  The A3, on the other hand, feels great right out of the box.

So there it is….my first new car!  I can’t tell you how great the feeling is of getting in the car and smelling the freshness of that ‘new car smell’….it is one of the great joys of life IMO!  To know that nobody else has owned it or driven it before.   I also can’t tell you how happy it makes me to look in my garage spot now and see the A3 and the TT sitting together, dressed in black.  Behold, the beginning of the IEDEI AUTO HAREM!

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a tribute to a fantastic car. my TT.

TOMORROW, i am picking up my new car.  After driving my 2001 Audi TT every single day as my daily driver for the last 8 years of my life, I am adding another car to my garage.  The TT now has 115k+ miles on it, miles that have been filled with life, moving, adventure, love, stress, happiness, sadness, soul, nostalgia, future, hope, satisfaction, worry, and time.  We forget how much we experience in our automobiles—and it is a special thing.  In the last 8 years I have owned the TT, i have lived in 8 different apartments.  The TT felt like more of a stable ‘home’ to me in my time of transitions.  When i got the TT in 2003, I was a medical student living in Chicago—-struggling to find my future, struggling to cope with my own stresses, unmarried, and to be honest; pretty lonely.  I have taken the TT to all settings of life, from the backroads of Brooklyn through forests in Vermonts to the sweeping race track turns of Road America.   I rarely get attached to material objects, and I rarely hold onto things more for a couple of years—-but the TT is an exception to my rules.   There isn’t a week that goes by where people don’t stop me to ask questions about the car,  every commute is accompanied by glances, staring, and admiration.  The car is still gorgeous, and unique in terms of iconic design in the modern era of plagiarism.  Most of all, every time i come home after a hard day at work—i park the car in my apartment building’s garage, lock the door, and always glance back at it in admiration of it.

My opinion of the car?  To me, the MK1 (first generation) Audi TT is one of the all-time iconic coupes.  Prior to purchasing it, i dreamt and fascinating about the car quite intensely.  Prior to owning it, I had never felt such attachment to a shape, a design, or any automobile.  In the 21st century—where cars are now churned out to be mass produced profit counters—-the TT represented a creative hurrah by duplicating the gorgeous concept car design into a production reality.  The interior of the TT is by all accounts one of the most expensive interiors ever put into a non-exotic production vehicle.   The humble beginnings off a shortened MK4 Golf chassis are nothing to be ashamed of—as the structure was reinforced, shortened, and optimized for the TT specifically.  The 1.8T engine which was placed in my 225’s bay is a uniquely reinforced engine which is like no other Audi or VW engine produced from that time.  Double intercooled, K04 (big) turbo, and beefed up internals, heads, hoses, and structures.  Easy to modify (my car is estimated at about 275hp after tuning), and easy to love driving—-adding a few simple modifications to the suspension (Koni shocks/Neuspeed springs/Neuspeed 22 inch sway bar) really make the car a total joy to drive.  I have timed my 0-60 runs between 5.0 to 5.5 seconds consistently. A borla exhaust has added a deep rumble, and the lightweight 18″ SSR Type C wheels have reduced the unsprung weight and increased the agility in handling.   The TT always puts a smile on my face, and I love the car more now than i did 8 years ago.  I have often joked with my wife that I would like to keep the TT for many many years—-and to be that old grandad who keeps a beautiful german coupe locked away in the garage—–it is looking more and more that this will be the case (hopefully!).

So long story short, I am keeping the TT tomorrow, and adding another family member. The TT will now become my ‘weekend fun car’.  This is the beginning of the “IEDEI Auto Harem”!  More details on the new car tomorrow—-but for right now I will just say that the new car is practical, handsome, very nicely appointed, and very fun to drive.  I look forward to revealing it tomorrow!

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IEDEI Car Shopping. Review #1.

Yes that’s right IEDEI is shopping for a car!  It has been 8 years since I last went ‘real’ car shopping, and how I have missed it.  Yes you have to deal with misinformed salespeople, plenty of fluff, weird business tactics, temptations on the used car lots, and pricing shock after adding a couple of choice options—-however I, for one, believe that car shopping should be the next big thing sporting event.

I want to give the TT a break and I will be keeping it.  I have had the TT for 8 years now and the car now has 115k miles.  It has done its job and I want it to relax and stay as my “fun car”.  My wife and I have plans to ‘expand the family’ in the next year or so, as well as my new job which is why I am shopping cars.

So you would think that car shopping for me would be quite easy—-as I would just head over to the nearest Audi dealer and buy up the whole facking place——however I do have budget constraints, and I do have a very open mind when it comes to buying.  The last time I went car shopping, I drove many, many cars and the whole experience was very satisfying.   That being said, my choice last time was MUCH easier because a long story short—-i was obsessed with the TT.   This time? YES there is a top contender, however it is not an obsession—-just a top contender.  More about that car at a later time.

So today I drove a 2011 BMW 335i X-drive (why can’t they just call it iX or Xi like they used to? weirdos…)

Styling

As a child, i grew up wanting an E30 M3.  As an adult, I find modern BMW styling to be more boring than watching a baby elephant drool into a lake.   I didn’t feel exactly compelled by the dated design of the aging 3-series sedan (E90), however I felt the car met several key preferences I have in a long distance commuter family sedan (AWD capabilities, sporting performance, solid, small size, preferably german).  The front of the car has sort of a “japanese” look to it—-i don’t find it very interesting, in fact i find it very scattered and haphazard.  Too many shapes with incoherence.  The rear end is far better than the front, but seems a bit “scrunched” together.  The side profile was nice, sometimes…The sculpted hood is overstyled, like a monster’s face in a cheap horror film—-and overall, the looks just don’t work for me.  There isn’t much classic about this E90.

Interior

Amongst the things I evaluate cars for, interior is amongst the highest of importance.  Why? Because as a driver, the interior is really THE interface for us when spending time with the car.  The TT has quite simply one of the finest interiors of any production car in the past 50 years—-it was also one of the most expensive production interiors and it shows.  On the downside, this has given me a very high standard to evaluate other cars’ interiors with.   In the 80s/90s, BMW had it all going right—with minimalist, functional interiors which got the job done and had bags of integrity.  In specific, i’m going to point out that terrible rubber piece located above the steering wheel like a sideways clitoris connecting the dash cluster area to the top base of the wheel.  What was that!?   The seats were pretty lousy as well—-you can see the lack of good bolster on the sides….the leather felt thick and grainy like it was taken from a dinosaur….worst of all, things felt cheaper than they should feel.  I also found the “double bubble” navigation screen area to be very awkward, although it did keep the display in level with the driver’s vision.  The MMI/iDrive system was actually pretty nice, much nicer than any of the Audis I have used with similar features.  The gauge cluster was well made and one of the high points of the interior, with one of the low points being the controls and handles on the door–which were woefully planned and placed.   All in all, a very schizophrenic interior, not a particular nice place to be.

Backseat room was very nice, and i was surprised by how much room there was for a compact sedan—-trunk size was not as nice as i’ve seen in the C-Class and the A4.

Driving.

Having driven a fair number of modern BMWs in my life—I do know one thing: that they are often much better to drive than you think they will be based on other criteria.  This was true today as well.  The engine is a 300hp Turbocharged 3.0L straight-6.  A couple of things surprised me about this engine: (A) there isn’t much turbo lag, and (B) it sounds pretty decent.  The power is instant and with a surge of turbocharged boost.  To me, this is the essence of BMW, as we often forget that BMW originally launched the first mass produced turbocharged automobile to the mass market in 1974 with the BMW 2002 Turbo. 

They didn’t have any manual transmission cars to drive, so I drove one with a ‘Steptronic” automatic transmission.  It is very dissappointing that BMW does not offer a dual-clutch optional gearbox in their non-M car lineup.  The Steptronic did not have paddle shifters, and to be honest the gearbox was slow and a bit cumbersome to use.  I felt better driving the car in fully automatic mode rather than “pseudo-manual”.  The brakes were excellent and felt good under hard braking and panic stops.

The steering is one of the major high points on most BMWs, and it felt pretty good on the 335i.  It felt accurate and communicative like a bullet fired by a sniper. Coming from a small coupe, i thought the car did feel large—however most family size sedans would feel that way.   The 335i did feel agile though, and was most definitely able to handle aggressive steering exercises with relative ease and composure.  Fortunately i had a sales person who urged me to test the car hard, which i did.  Since the 335i is RWD all the time, until it detects slip—-the car handles great in everyday normal driving—with the steering free from powertrain expenditure.

All in all, the driving experience was a good one.  The car feels solid as any BMW should, and it feels alive like a lizard who is being chased by a cat.  The car instills a sense of confidence in it as any good german car should, and I give credit to BMW for mass producing their mainstream compact executive sedan without comprimising the driving characteristics which have made them desirable.

Overall.

I like the BMW 335i “x-drive” for what it is; a solid german sedan with all-weather capabilities and RWD useability.  Do i think it is something special? NO.  Do i think it is overpriced? YES.  I sat with the salesperson and equipped the car with a ‘sports package’, leather (why in the world is leather optional on this!?), heated seats, and a couple other small things—–and the price of the car was $48k+.  Would i pay $48k for this car? NO.  Then the truth hit me—the lease price they were offering me on the car was WAY less than the finance price on the car—-together with the facts the dealer was telling me about 90% of their customer base leasing their BMWs over buying it—the car suddenly made a lot more sense.  That being said, 335i is a very good car, lacking the attention to detail which would make it special.  You can tell that this car is built for one reason; for corporate leases for corporate people climbing the ladder who want to aim for a 5-series the next time, and a 7-series after that.  I have friends who have leased 3-series sedans repeatedly one after another—-and this really does seem like the dynamic BMW are aiming for.  That’s what the car is made for.  I walked away with a little more respect for the car after driving it, however I walked away not wanting it as well.

NEXT TIME FOR REVIEW: 2011 Mitsubishi Evolution 10

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Evo/Chris Harris; reviewing the BMW 1M & Porsche Cayman R

I 100% agree with Chris about the 911R and the ‘R’ badge on Porsches—-it is a bit of novelty, but offensive to put an “R” badge on this Cayman.  Either way—-both cars are great, however i’m not really someone who cares about drifting, per se…..so much of the video where Chris is drifting isn’t my cup of tea.  I am however a fan of both of these cars; although I lust like a barbiturate loaded idiot after the 1M.  Holy grail stuff, for me at least.

either way…cool video.

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Chris Harris on the Noble M600, Porsche GT2 RS, and others…

The Noble M600 is by far and away my favourite ‘supercar’ around at the moment—-it looks amazing, and it is just epic cool from its engineering to its raw turbo madness.   Oh and there’s a F40 and an XJ220 in the video too…

Great video again, by probably the best in the business—Chris Harris.

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how do you make the ugliest car uglier? (part 2)

yes. you paint it matte black and murder out the wheels and lights on a Toyota Prius.  Message to the owner: your “car” looks like crap!

(spotted earlier this evening in Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

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the ugliest car in the world….

JUST GOT UGLIER!

my purpose for this post is a sinister one.

A) i want this photo to become the #1 google image result for the Toyota Prius

B) i want ‘prospective’ Toyota Prius buyers to come here, and understand that they look like idiots driving around in their ugly box of batteries and electronic wankery

C) i want these US buyers to consider buying a clean diesel VW Golf TDI or Jetta TDI—which get similar MPG performance—-and save  the world the horror of seeing this ugly Prius monstrosity on our streets.  Think of the children, people!!!

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new sunglasses.

I have a ‘bond’ with Dunhill sunglasses—i really enjoy all of their products.  I have broken my nose several times throughout my life, which causes most sunglasses to fit like a circle on a square.  Dunhills, however, fit quite well and since observing this, i have continued my cycle of buying their sunglasses.  This being said, i do have a pair of Persols which fit quite nicely; however those are my backup gangsta glasses I keep in the car.

I ordered these last week, and they came today—-with a lovely alcantara rimmed leather Dunhill carrying case.  Apologies for this ghetto photo, as i hate using flash, and that’s the only way i could capture the beautiful matte black finish of the frames.

 

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“SENNA”: some thoughts about the film…

This afternoon, at the uneasy time of 12:15am on a Saturday, I was joined by a couple mates (also from the automotive blogging world) to go see “Senna”, which is playing at the Village East Cinema in NYC.  We entered the theatre right on time, and joked that we were wondering who the other 15-20 people were in the theatre; and WHY they were there!  Could there be this many motorheads willing to make it to the theatre at that time on a Saturday? Apparently so.

The film was quite lovely; made like a documentary—spanning from the beginning of his career in karting til the obvious end of his career.  Touching on his youth, but showing some very rare and moving film clips with scenes I had never seen before.  As a kid growing up in Detroit, one of the events I annually attended with my father was the Detroit Grand Prix, where I remember there was a time when Senna would win every year.  The first year I went, i remember Nelson Piquet winning.  So naturally, my favourite 2 F1 drivers became Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna.

(sorry, i took these pics with a mobile phone!)

I know that Senna was a character.  He was competitive, full of personality, not afraid to speak his mind, and most of all a tremendous driver.  This film essentially covered all of his positive attributes, and showed him in the light of a tribute.  It was a fitting tribute.   I had seen many clips of his races online, and a lot of this film I had seen in some form or another; but I have never seen any clips of driver’s meetings with the FIA directors, I had never seen some of the more candid interviews and conversations—–and maybe because I was too young—I never realised how much battling and political stuff was going on between Prost & Senna.  Now it makes sense WHY i hated Prost as a kid—-because he was always batting with my favourite who was Senna.

I won’t tell you the full details of the film, because I feel you should watch it yourself.  Seeing F1 in the movie theater was a  pleasure, and although it seems like a collage of document film clips taken from many different sources; it was full of great commentary, great footage, and some truly moving moments.  All in all, a great film; I am really glad someone made it (in this case, a gentleman named Asif Kapadia)—-you should all see it.

Senna is playing at the Village East Cinema in the East Village of NYC.  (thanks to Xander for the tip!)

http://www.villageeastcinema.com/angelika_film.asp?hID=166&ID=fmj4747.79896806s137092v9.38

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obsessions. gt3.

These days, i  am utterly obsessed with the 997 GT3.  To me, it is the perfect Porsche.  Of course i love ‘older’ 911s….as the simple mechanics of vintage cars appeals to me greatly; but i also live a modern lifestyle, i drive to work in NYC all the time, i drive in the winter, i drive around aimlessly for a laugh, i like technology but not too much.  I absolutely love the GT3.

i also love the line that Chris says in this video that says “I love it when people say these don’t sound as good as the air-cooled cars, cos that is utter shit! this sounds wonderful”……BRAVO Chris…..down with the air-cooled snobs!

they’re coming down in price quickly…i see 2nd hand ones in the $80k-90k range…..996s are down in the $40-60k range.  Audi R8s are floating down to the $80k range as well……i tell you, a couple years from now….and a 997 GT3 in the $60k range, assuming all continues in my life according to plans——-WILL definitely be a frontrunner for my garage spot.

 

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