Behind the Wheel

Sharing my experience behind the wheel of a new car each week. Also exclusive access at auto shows and press events.

It’s hard not to fall in love with the TTRS!

We met on a winters day, with a cool breeze coming off of the ocean and the roar of a 5-cylinder Audi engine in the background. It may sound like a love story, and that is because it is.

The Audi TT was always a good car. Small, nimble, and German traditionally made its defining characteristics. But the TTRS is a whole new beast! It is like Audi’s Quattro Motorsport team has injected a super human serum into the gas tank.

The TTRS is bold, louder, and quicker than ever before. Behind the grill is a 20-valve dual overhead cam 2.5L 5-cylinder turbo-charged engine that produces 400 horsepower and 350 pounds of torque. That may not seem like an insane amount, but for this tiny car, but the TTRS weighs only 3,300 pounds and it has got a dual-clutch gearbox. That allows it to sling shot from 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. In comparison, the current generation Porsche 911 S with a PDK transmission goes 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds. So the 911 is slower and it costs $40,000 more to buy.

I will admit, the TTRS does feel a little claustrophobic when you first get in it, but you quickly get use to it and eventually start to appreciate it. The small stature of the TTRS when combined with standard adjustable magnetic suspension and Quattro all-Wheel-drive make the vehicle feel like a go-kart. It brings pure joy to the driver and leaves you grinning from ear to ear as you power slide through a corner.

On long boring stretches of highway, the driver is still fully entertained. Front and center is a large virtual cockpit that displays all of your key instruments, as well as, your navigation, audio, and backup camera. This means you can just casually glance down for everything. Without a center screen, the passengers’ viewpoint is pretty bare. This can be great for them if they want to enjoy the scenery, but troublesome for the driver if the passenger is the one imputing navigation information due to the only screen being on the driver’s side. On the plus side, the driver the only who gets to control the music!

The seats in the TTRS felt very special. In additional to the futuristic and sporty shape, thick red stitching and dressed them for a unique look. The design is very Super Car / GT Car like. The backseat felt cramped for an average size adult, but it is way more usable than a 911.

With a starting price of $64,900, the Audi TTRS seems like the deal of the century! It doesn’t have the racing pedigree of the Porsche 911, Corvette (Grand Sport), or Jaguar F-Type, but on paper, it is faster than all of them and cheaper… so what is not to love?

Visit your local Audi dealer or click here to learn more about the 2018 Audi TTRS.

P.S. Remember to get it like it’s hot, because the first Audi TTRS was limited production.

The BMW i8 Is A Marvel Of Engineering & Design

The term “exotic” isn’t used lightly in the automotive world. But that is the best way to describe the BMW i8. When it first came out in 2014, it appeared to be a car sent from the future, and it still does today. Its unique design, complete with a flying buttress, and scissor door makes your jaw drop every time your approach the car. By the way if you don’t know what a flying buttress does, it is a design element on the rear of the car that allows for air flow moving through the body to create downforce at high speeds – essentially allowing you keep the car on the ground without the need for a rear wing or spoiler.

A combination of both gasoline and electric motors propels the BMW i8 from a dead stop to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. That is not supercar status, but it is a respectable time for a sports car – It is on par with a Porsche 911. But thanks to its hybrid drivetrain you can get 76 MPGe if you start out with a full tank of gas + a full charge. The i8 allows to drive the vehicle as an electric vehicle, traditional gasoline vehicle or a combination of both. The combination delivers optimal performance, while the all electric mode offers the best energy economy. I found driving the car in all electric mode to be very handy for around town. The car is nearly as quite as a Rolls Royce in electric mode and it cost virtually nothing to operate.

The fun of driving an exotic like the BMW i8 is when you are at speed. On a private road, I got to the car through its paces. And I have to say, it sticks to the road quite well. The car felt firmly planted and well balanced when going through a corner. BMW has always been known for producing great handling cars, but since the i8 is a hybrid with heavy batteries, I was expecting to feel significant weight transfer. I didn’t because BMW used advanced building materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum to keep the weight down to under 3500 pounds. That makes this car almost 250 pounds lighter than the Audi R8.

The interior of the BMW i8 also has a modern design. Everything from the seat shape to the dash makes you feel as if you are living in the future. You can tell very easily that BMW put a lot of thought into this vehicle. The only challenge is getting into the BMW i8. The extremely wide door sill means that you have twist and turn to get in and out of the car. Guys will need to work on their arm muscles in order to lift yourself out and girls will have to hold their skirts so they don’t flash the mob of people that take notice in your car.

With a starting price of $143,000, you are paying for the future. The BMW i8 doesn’t stack up well to the competition on paper. You can get a lot faster cars for a lot less money, but you are not paying for performance with this car – you are paying for engineering. It is a car that is driving the automotive industry forward with its design, drivetrain, and carbon fiber construction.

Visit your local BMW dealer for more information on the i8 or click here.

The All-New Chevy Traverse Is Perfect For Family Road Trips!

When going on a cross-country road trip with the family for the holidays, what is most important to you? Comfort, cargo room, safety, fuel economy, or entertainment for the kids? Chevrolet conducted a survey to find out what mattered most and to further their quest to make the perfect road trip vehicle.

FLORIDAINFOGRAPHIC_111517Their study found that kids are not the most stressful part of the family road trip. Keeping the kids entertained and hearing the ever-present “Are we there yet?” ranked lower than traffic, packing and cost when it comes to the top stressors on family road trips.

Luckily for my recent road trip, I had the pleasure of driving the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse. This mid-size SUV ticks all of boxes for the perfect family road trip car. To start, it holds up to 8 passengers. Even though I wasn’t planning to have 8 people in the vehicle, I am glad everyone had room to stretch out and sit comfortably. And since I had multiple people riding with me, I needed plenty of room for luggage, which wasn’t a problem. With 98 cubic feet of cargo space, the Chevrolet Traverse actually has best in class cargo capacity.

Since fuel economy and driving distance between fill ups are always a major concern when taking the family on vacation. With a 19 gallon tank and 27 MPG on the highway, you can get over 500 miles on one tank of gas. That means you can get from Orlando to Atlanta one tank – very impressive for an 8 passenger SUV.

There are 14 advanced safety features, such as forward collision alert and lane keep assist. And if playing iSPY or the license play game isn’t enough for the kids, there are over five USB ports for charging mobile devices the wifi builtin the vehicle.

The Bolt… It’s Electric!

2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV

There is no doubt that electric cars are taking over. Tesla started the modern day electric war, but GM is the first to give us an everyday affordable EV – one that you could theoretically use as one an only car.

I want to stress affordable and only car in previous statement, because yes the Nissan Leaf is affordable, but its range is poor. The Leaf will go only go 124 miles per charge. BMW’s and Smart’s options are not any better. The Chevy Bolt on the other hand will go 238 miles per charge. Tesla’s model S will go 335 miles on a charge, but the Tesla costs over twice as much the Bolt: $82,000 versus $36,000.

The Bolt’s range is key to me for being a one car household. The 200+ mile range means that you can drive all over town or to the next town over without having to worry about mobile charging stations. With the Leaf and BMW electric vehicles I tested, I felt range anxiety. Versus with the Bolt, I was able to drive it all week on one charge – and I drive a lot!

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Some may argue the Bolt looks too sci-fi for their tastes, even more so than a Tesla, but shouldn’t a car from the future look high tech. I enjoyed the minimalist design and the use of recycled plastics – it made me feel as if I was doing my part to help the environment. It has that Silicon Valley California vibe, which is a good thing. I could get use to the look…

The only thing I couldn’t get use to was ultra power saving mode. In this mode, you use the accelerator pedal (the gas pedal) to speed up the car by pressing it down as well as slow down the car significantly by lifting off the pedal. In this mode, the regenerative brakes are applied to charge the battery whenever possible – ie when you are not adding accelerating. Luckily you can turn this feature off and drive the Bolt like a normal car with the use both an accelerator pedal and brake pedal.

Visit your local Chevrolet dealer to test a Bolt out yourself or learn more about this all electric vehicle on Chevy’s website.

Cadillac Is Back With The CT6

I was a kid of the 80’s and 90’s. Back then, when you said the name Cadillac, people envisioned a big luxury car. The brand repositioned itself in the 2000s to become modern sports saloons. The transition was vital to keeping the brand alive and getting younger buyers to take notice in the brand, but Cadillac lost the lazyboy experience you got while driving a big beautiful Cadillac. Don’t get me wrong, I love sports cars and sports sedans, but Cadillac neglected a market segment of distinguished buyers who don’t care about sport.

Big luxury cars fans can rejoice now because the new CT6 was designed from the ground up for comfort. Cadillac went back to the drawing board with this one to give us a vehicle that not only looks sharp from the outside, glides over the road like an airline.

The Cadillac CT6’s cabin is spacious with large plus seats and a wide armrest so you don’t elbow your neighbor. Interior surfaces were dressed in leather, wood, carbon fiber, and premium plastics. The infotainment center is definitely the start of the show. It is controlled using a touch screen display or a touchpad on the center console. I am a big fan of this combo and I hope GM uses this setup for future projects because it can get annoying holding your arm up for extended periods of time to flip though radio stations. Speaking of music, the Cadillac CT6 is available with a 36 speaker surround sound system. Yes, 36 speakers of pure joy from Bose. This is by far the best of the best when it comes to audio from Bose. I was very impressed.

If you are a passenger, you also get to enjoy video entertainment from two large screens in the back – they pop out of the front passengers’ seats while driving.

This is the type of car you want to be chauffeur in, luckily you can… well almost. The CT6 I tested feature Supercruise technology which allows the car to drive semi-autonomously. It isn’t like Kit where you can tell him to take you to the grocery store, but the CT6 will stay in it’s lane on the highway and stop if the car in front of you stops. It is “the first true handsfree driving system.” Unfortunately it is a bit complicated to activate and it only works on limited freeways, but it is very impressive. As with all current semi-autonomous driving technology, you shouldn’t read the paper while the car guides you, you still need to be alert, but Supercruise certainly makes long commutes more enjoyable.

So whether you are being chauffeured in the back seat or front seat of the CT6 you will be living in style and comfort.

Contact your local Cadillac dealer for more information on the 2018 CT6 with Supercruise or click here to visit Cadillac’s website.

The 2018 Lamborghini Aventador S hits the apex every time.

Lamborghini Aventador S (99)

The new Lamborghini Aventador S may look very similar to its predecessor, but there is a lot more bite to its bark. The Aventador S is the Hurican’s bigger brother. The proportions are wide and longer, but it also get 2 more cylinders, for a total of 12. This monstrous V12 engine is able to produce a mind boggling 740 horsepower, and rocket the car from 0 to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds. Off the line starts are instant with virtually no wheel spin because the new Aventador S has all-wheel-drive.

Lamborghini Aventador S (15)

As both an automotive journalist and avid track day enthusiast, what I found most remarkable about the Aventador S was how nimble the car feels for its size and weight. There is no getting around the fact that it is a big car. It is almost a foot longer than the 911 GT3 RS that I tested earlier this year, but the Aventador S felt much better balanced, and as a result more nimble. The mid-engine design of the Aventador S helps give it a 43/57 weight distribution. Also contributing to its agility is Lamborghini’s all-new four-wheel steering system. When going around a corner at high speeds, the rear wheels turn in addition to the front wheels in order to help bring you closer to the apex every time. The experience of having the rear wheels turn is unnerving at first, because all of the sudden you feel the rear end slide out and you are not controlling it – the onboard computer is doing it. This is presumably a much safer option than throttle-steer or trail-braking for novice drivers, and there is no doubt that I felt faster on the track with four-wheel steering vs two-wheel steering. If you are the type of person who wants to go as fast as possible as easily as possible and as safe as possible, then skip driving school and buy a car with four-wheel steering. If you like to work hard for your speed, then four-wheel steering will feel like cheating on an exam.

The interior of the Lamborghini Aventador S is just as bold as the exterior. The cabin is littered in with jet fighter like buttons and switches. The engine start/stop button has a cover reminiscent of a missile launcher or Jame’s Bond’s ejector seat switch. The seats and dash, doors, and headliner was dressed in leather and sporty alcantara. The instrument cluster was in the form of a digital display, which enhanced the high tech ultra-high performance experience of driving the Aventador S.

Lamborghini Aventador S (160)

Another signal that you are drive a jet fighter for the street is the triangle exhaust tips that make you wonder if flames really do shoot out the back when you stomp on the gas pedal. The rear end is thing of beauty and a marvel of engineering because their is nothing else like it on the market.

But the experience starts way before you even step in to the car. There was something mythical about approaching the Lamborghini Aventador S. It wasn’t just the usual scissors doors, it is a culmination of things that instantly makes you feel special    about being near the car. Each Aventador S appears to be individualized because of the complex level of interior and exterior color pallets options. Also because of the rarity (in certain markets) of the Aventador, the vehicle really does say something about the driver. Are you a CEO driving through country roads in your Nero Nemesis Black Aventador S with yellow stitching on the way to your winter estate? Or are you a celebrity driving to the premier of your new movie with a Verde Mantis Green Aventador S? Either way, the Lamborghini Aventador S will make you feel like an F1 Driver with exhilarating acceleration, nimble handling, GQ level styling.

Visit your local Lamborghini dealer for more information about the Aventador S or click here to configure our own Italian bull.

The Dodge Charger Daytona Is One Mean Machine

In my book, there is really only one true American muscle car left on the market… and that is the Dodge Charger (4-door)/Challenger (2-door). Both the Mustang and Camaro are technically pony cars, and both are getting closer and closer to high-performance sport coupes. While the Charger still offers a true muscle car experience with a snarling V8 motor under the hood that makes you want to drag race one stop light to the next.

The vehicle comes in a number of different variants, but most of the trim levels deliver a HEMI engine under the hood. The Legendary engine dates back to the 1950s, but obviously it has been modernized over the years.

The Dodge Charger Daytona I had the pleasure of driving came with a naturally aspirated 5.7L V8 Hemi, which produces 370hp. You can get the same engine in the R/T trim level, but then you don’t get the performance exhaust or the cool Dayton graphics on the exterior or interior.

The Daytona seats feel extra special because the alcantara center inserts and the “Daytona” embroidery.

The contrast Daytona package graphics don’t actually make you go and any faster, but they do add about 50 “visual” horsepower. It makes to car go from cool to bad***.

Visit your local dealer for more information about the 2017 Dodge Charger Daytona or click here to visit Dodge’s website.

The Subaru BRZ has still got it!


The Subaru BRZ has been around since 2012, so I have driven the car a number of time. Each time, I am still surprised by how much fun the BRZ is to drive. The same goes for the Toyota FRS because it is basic the same car. The vehicle was manufactured as a joint venture between the two companies – taking the best of Subaru and the best of Toyota engineering.

The car hasn’t changed much in terms of performance or overall design, with the exception of the BRZ getting a few small visual enhancements and new color options. I consider this a good thing! I can’t count on my fingers or toes how many times I have seen a manufacture produce a stunning car, but ruin the ascetics because they want to give people something new to buy. A great example: Nissan gave us the Datsun 240Z in 1969, a lightweight sports coupe that handles great. The car instantly became an icon with its timeless design and high revving (Prince) engine. A few years later, Nissan gave us the 260Z and then the 280X. Each generation gained a few pounds and got bigger. Thankfully, Subaru/Toyota has stayed true to the original design… a lightweight sports coupe that handles great. I hope the next generation of the BRZ/FRS adheres to this same philosophy. We need more true sports cars in the world.


So back to the current generation Subaru BRZ. As I said before not much has change, or has it? They say clothes make the man, so some would argue that paint color makes the car. Maybe not… But I am still in awe by the 2017 BRZ I tested. The special edition Yellow BRZ series makes my toes tingle just by looking at it. I love the color, especially when paired to the black wheels and red brake calibers. It excites you before you even get into the car!


Once you get inside, the car feels even more special with yellow accents and thick yellow stitching. These two items really dress up the car. Otherwise it is the usual BRZ trim and interior. Although that is not a bad thing, because the BRZ’s interior gives you a true sports car feel – right down to the alcantara sports bucket seats.


My driving impression of the car is still the same… this little Subaru / Toyota love child was made to hit twisty canyon road and the track. From the moment you hit slide the 6-Speed manual transmission into first gear and hit the gas, you feel as if you are driving a race car. It is a special sensation that you don’t get anymore with most street cars.

For more information about the Subaru BRZ, contact your local dealer or click here to visit Subaru’s website.


When Mercedes-Benz puts the AMG badge on a car, you know it means business! Yes, the C43 AMG doesn’t have a legendary bi-turbo V8, but it has AMG power, prestiege, exhilaration for a relatively cheap price.

Traditionally when you see an AMG badge on a Mercedes, you can nearly double the price tag. But that is not the C43 AMG. It is starting price is only $12,000 more than the base C coupe… and it is worth every penny. AMG transformed a boring compact coupe into an addictive sports coupe that begs you to smash the accelerator. The car goes 0-60mph in 4.6 seconds, which doesn’t make it a rocket, but it is plenty fast for around town or on the highway. The addictivness comes is variable sports exhaust, which with the press of a button, makes the car go from quite estate car to super car like sound. In addition to upgraded exhaust with the C43 AMG, you also get a sports tuned suspension, a torque vectoring system, and bigger brakes for added performance.


The vehicle I tested, had a fully optioned interior with alcantra sports seats and real aluminum trim. Thick red contrast stitching on the seats and doors accented the sportiness of the vehicle.

While some may say that the C43 AMG is “just a sports package” or “that it is just for people who want the prestige of an AMG, but can’t afford the real thing,” I strongly disagree. The C43 AMG offers a true AMG experience while also delivering decent fuel economy (27mph Highway). Who doesn’t want better gas mileage from their daily driver?

Visit your local Mercedes dealer for more information or click here to visit the Mercedes-Benz website.

The New Sonata is on a whole new level!


I usually don’t get excited about cars that get a refresh. But the new Hyundai Sonata has peeked my interest. While it visually looks similar very similar, it is not. Hyundai has reworked almost every exterior element on the front of the car. It has new grill with sleeker lines that remind me of an unnamed luxury car. It’s stance is more aggressive, and it is complimented with a reworked rear end. It has got an all-new trunk, bumper and tail lights.

The interior although they say it is new, you can’t tell the difference unless you are comparing the two vehicles side by side. But what is noticeable different is the driving dynamics. The feel of the vehicle is enhanced by new steering and suspension systems that give the driver more feedback while also delivering a smoother ride. Another impressive item related to the car is a new transmission. Even though you will never (don’t quote me) see a Hyundai Sonata on the drag strip, you still want to have fun with it. The transmission has been reworked to deliver quicker shifts when you hit the gas pedal hard, but still offer smooth transitions between gears when cruising casually. I also noticed less lag between shifts while manually selecting a gear using the paddle shifters.


For those concerned about fuel economy, both models of the Hyundai Sonata I tested got over 30mpg. If you are interested in performance, you have your choice of a 1.6L twin-turbo 4-cylinder that produces 178hp, a 2.4L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder that produces 185hp, or a 2.0L twin-turbo that produces a respectiable 245hp.

Overall, Hyundai did a fantastic job of enhancing an already great product. Even though a well equipped Hyundai Sonata is priced at under $25,000, it still offers premium luxury features. A 7 inch touchscreen infotainment system, power and heated front seats, automatic headlights, and blind-spot detection are all standard features on the SEL trim. If you want to add the $1,000 Tech Package to your options list, the car can nearly drive itself… you get automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, and adaptive cruise control. 

For more information about the new Hyundai Sonata, visit your local dealer or click here to visit Hyundai’s website.