By on October 25, 2021

1978 Fiat 131 Brava in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhile an ever-increasing number Americans in the second half of the 1970s felt comfortable buying sporty German and Japanese sedans, the idea of relying on an Italian sedan for everyday transportation made sense to a much more exclusive group. For those Americans who craved a commute packed with Italian passion and artistry but needed something with rear-wheel-drive (ruling out the 128 and the Lancia Beta sedan) and cheaper than the Alfa Romeo Sport Sedan, Fiat offered the 131 on these shores for the 1976 through 1981 model years (changing its name to the Brava starting in 1978). As you’d expect, these cars are about as tough to find in junkyards today as Mitsubishi Tredias or Rover 3500s, but I ran across this ’78 in a Denver yard last week. (Read More…)

By on May 28, 2020

acura

Teased nearly to death in the run-up to its online debut, the 2021 Acura TLX revealed on Thursday lives up to the brand’s boastful pronouncements, at least on paper.

Athletic in stance and aggressive in design, the next-generation TLX arrives with a dedicated platform, double wishbone front suspension and turbocharged V6 in tow, ready to tempt premium import sedan buyers who can’t bring themselves go the safe-and-steady Lexus ES route. (Read More…)

By on April 16, 2020

Acura is trying to get its act together by placing a stronger emphasis on performance in the years ahead. We’ve seen the physical manifestation of that strategy in the Type S Concept. While not intended for production, it foreshadows the next-generation TLX — which is presumed to offer improved powertrain options (as well as returning all-wheel drive) and a sporting variant bearing formerly defunct Type-S badging.

While Acura hasn’t exactly been secretive about its plans regarding performance models, the company has avoided confirming anything for production. But we’re getting closer to that moment. An application filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the name “TLX Type S” on March 25th indicates Honda is readying its luxury division for something special.  (Read More…)

By on March 26, 2020

2019 BMW M340i front quarter

Do you consider yourself a responsible, wholesome driver? Are you a driver who maintains control in all driving situations? Or are you tempted to leave each stoplight in a snarl of revs and a haze of vaporized Michelin?

At the moment, BMW does not offer its flagship sports sedan, the M3. We are left with this, the 2020 BMW M340i. While the M3 – when it comes – will likely offer a batshit crazy amount of horsepower, I’m reminded when I drive this sensibly-powered M340i of Lord Acton’s chestnut: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

I’d like to think that I’m a decent, incorruptible fellow, thus 382 horsepower is enough for me. It’s probably enough for you, too.

(Read More…)

By on August 8, 2019

2019 BMW M2 Competition front quarter

Water always finds a way. Our land masses are shaped by the movement of glaciers over millennia. Our geopolitical lines are often defined by bodies of water, be it a lake, river, or ocean. Importantly to this audience, many of our greatest roads owe little to a civil engineer and all to the meander of a mountain stream.

Water finds a way, trickling from the hillside to create a damp path across one of those roadways, just over a blind ridge beyond which a sextet of motorcyclists have stopped in the middle of a narrow roadway to discuss something most certainly of incredible importance.

Turns out other liquids find a way, too, as a wee bit of wee might have leaked as I engaged any number of acronym-laden safety mechanisms designed in Bavaria to prevent headlines such as “Journalist Slaughters Six.” With the slightest sideways step, the 2019 BMW M2 Competition heeled and heeded my commands upon the two leftmost pedals, and after a few minutes to reset my blood pressure and mutter contempt for the idiot bikers, I proceeded to enjoy the rest of my drive with a massive grin.

(Read More…)

By on June 19, 2019

2019 Honda Accord Sport front quarter

It’s back, baby! Enthusiasts cried in 2001 when, amid The Fast and the Furious fever, Honda pulled the plug on their bigger sports coupe offering, the Prelude. It wasn’t selling well, as the Civic had grown to fit American tastes, and the beloved Acura Integra had just been supplanted by the more powerful RSX. Still, there are enthusiasts who lament the loss of the beloved coupe.

While I detest the “four-door coupe” moniker being applied to sedans with a steeply raked backlight, it doesn’t take a big stretch of imagination to see a coupe atop this page if you squint. Thus, I’m calling it – this 2019 Honda Accord 2.0T Sport is the return of the Prelude. The postlude, perhaps.

(Read More…)

By on April 30, 2019

2019 Genesis G70 front quarter

Take a good look at the state of the sports sedan. Once defined as four doors, compact dimensions, rear-wheel drive, and a manual transmission, there are precious few new cars sold today that fit that narrow criteria. The German manufacturers who made their names in this segment have abandoned the third pedal.

The only choice left is this 2019 Genesis G70 Sport – fitted with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, a six-speed manual transmission, and rear wheel drive. Does it win by default as the last car standing in a shrinking market, or is it worthy of accolades on its own merits?

(Read More…)

By on October 19, 2018

Kia has done a remarkable job at building a brand here in the U.S., and has done so without treading the well-worn path of appealing to enthusiasts. No, the Kia brand is built on solid small cars and utilities, with price and a great warranty being top of mind. Not squealing tires.

You knew that had to change. There is plenty of money in Kia’s corporate warchest to move away from the meat-and-potatoes commuter appliances to a nice, exciting cake or pie. Thus, the 2018 Kia Stinger GT — a tasty treat for the eyes and the butt dyno. But does it satisfy?

(Read More…)

By on July 19, 2017

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti black front quarter

There’s a series of curves on my route home that can be an absolute joy when traffic is minimal. Beyond a left-hand kink over a slight rise, the road drops away at least fifty feet in a sweeping right curve and flicks back left at the bottom of the hill to cross a river. It’s not much – maybe a quarter of a mile – but for a few moments, I forget the last nine hours spent driving a desk.

While my usual vehicle for this road is my trusty minivan, a proper driver’s car makes the route much more rewarding. Beyond making me disregard the stress of a day at the office, a good drive can make me briefly ignore the various quirks and idiosyncrasies of the car beneath me.

Quirks and idiosyncrasies — in roughly equal measure with solid driving dynamics —  have been the hallmarks of virtually every Alfa Romeo since at least the Truman administration, meaning the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti has plenty of heritage to live up to. Now that Chrysler is once again part of the Alfa Romeo parentage, will the Imported From Detroit vibe reflect in this imported sports sedan? Or will the Giulia remain, for better or worse, a proper Italian?

(Read More…)

By on April 5, 2017

2016 Chevrolet SS - Image: GM

The Chevrolet SS is not what you’d call common. Since launching more than three years ago, only around 9,000 SSs had been sold through the end of February 2017.

There’s always been a righteous hankering for the Chevrolet SS among those in the know. Sure, the bland styling does it no favours. And at nearly $50,000, it lacks any semblance of a premium badge. But there’s a stonking great 415-horsepower 6.2-liter V8, rear-wheel drive, and manual transmission availability. It’s a BMW M5 at half the price.

Yet the Chevrolet SS has never managed to enter the public consciousness, and even in its best-ever month (April 2016) the Chevrolet SS was outsold by low-volume cars such as the Lexus GS, Volvo S60, BMW i3, Lexus RC, Nissan Leaf, Scion FR-S, and yes, even the Lincoln MKS.

Now, however, the Chevrolet SS has come to the end of its run. The chance to snap up an SS is fleeting. Naturally then, U.S. sales of the Chevrolet SS exploded in March 2017. (Read More…)

By on January 8, 2017

2018 Kia Stinger

Kia uses the more accurate and less offensive term “fastback sports sedan” to describe the new Stinger, unveiled tonight ahead of the 2017 North American International Auto Show. Kia will offer the rear-drive, coupe-like 2018 Stinger liftback with turbocharged four-cylinder and V6 powerplants, and optional all-wheel drive.

(Read More…)

By on November 29, 2016

2018 Kia GT

A photo of what looks like a pre-production Kia GT was leaked to the interwebs today, revealing the upcoming premium midsize tapped to carry the brand’s performance torch.

Bowing next year as a 2018 model, Kia’s rear-wheel-drive sports sedan faces an uphill battle against a well-established competition, changing consumer preferences, and itself. (Read More…)

By on March 10, 2016

2016 Cadillac CTS-V Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Bradley Iger/The Truth About Cars

It’s been almost two decades since BMW unleashed the E39 M5 on the motoring public, and the sport sedan segment has chased its ghost ever since. Not long after the BMW was crowned mythic perfection, Cadillac made a substantial shift in its development focus to court younger, more performance-minded buyers.

Since then, Cadillac has generously pilfered the Corvette program parts bin to move the brand away from the retirement home and onto America’s non-existent Autobahn. In the meantime, BMW’s M Division has set its playbook on fire and begun heaping content onto its performance models.

When the second generation CTS-V broke the production sedan lap record at the Nurburgring in 2008, it became clear that the conversation was really starting to change.

(Read More…)

By on June 23, 2015

is7

I usually have more fun with $5,000 cars than with $55,000 cars.

It’s not because I’m cheap. Well, let me rephrase that. I love investing in a quality vehicle, but in the world that is wholesale auctions, I rarely get to see them. You can find nearly anything at the auctions that has been traded-in, repossessed or not picked up at the end of it’s lease. What you can’t find are the keepers.

Toyota imported only a bit over 5,000 of these IS F sports sedans from 2008 thru 2014. The number brought to auction so far in 2015? 35. Annualized, that’s less than a 1.5% turnover rate in a business where anywhere from 20% to 60% of late model vehicles will revisit ‘wholesale heaven’ before getting shucked back into a retail dealership.

After a week and change behind the wheel of this 2014 Lexus IS F, I finally figured out why you see so few of these vehicles at the auctions. It’s the one missing ingredient that nearly every enthusiast publication glosses over when they review any high-end sports car.

The real world ownership experience.

(Read More…)

By on March 20, 2015

550x365x2015-Mercedes-Benz-C-Class-550x365.jpg.pagespeed.ic.snBz3nrGwwTrivia time: which cars combined to sell less than half as often in the United States in the first two months of 2015 as the BMW 3-Series and its 4-Series two-door (and four-door) offshoot?

The Audi A4 and Cadillac ATS. Or a number of other pairings listed in the chart below. Take your pick. (Read More…)

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