Cars

My thoughts on certain cars

Early Dosage of Spring

This President’s Day weekend was quite a lovely surprise with the spring like weather in the Tri-State area. Warm weather prompted me to dust off the motorcycle cover, pump up the tires and fill the gas tank to the brim for a 100 mile highway cruises. Immediately you get this butterfly feeling because I haven’t been riding since 12/4/2016. The bike was marvelous as usual with it’s rumbling V-Twin. However, the roads were still salty from the snow storm a couple of weeks back so I had to take it easy. I look forward to March in finding some nice twisty roads in Sussex County, NJ going into Port Jervis NY.

 

SQImAaigTMC1ce%7hVYwgA_thumb_90ff.jpg

Advertisements

I’m Going, Going, Back To Back To Japan? 

So! Where to begin. After 318 days? Well, for one thing. There is no longer a German in my stable. GASP! I know, I know. In July of 2015 I was getting fed up with BMW’s utter lack of building an exciting car that is a non-M. And even if it is a non-M, the results do fall short of ones expectations. (Minus the near release of the BMW M2. Man is that thing sweet). It also frustrated me when you bring your car in service to only be lied to over and over again with horrendous customer service, lack of professionalism and terrible workmanship.

So, what have I strayed to? To some of you it’ll be an utter shock. The car isn’t even in Car and Driver’s top 5. Hell, maybe not even top 10 at this point. But in reality I came to realization that if a car manufacturer builds a car where on a test drive I get a joyous grin and the salesman shares that excitement with me. And for that the 2015 Infiniti Q50s does that for me in every way. From the moment you set eyes on the front end I got this feeling in my stomach and heart. The same when a dog owner meets his dog for the first time in a kennel. I know right off the bat everyone reading must be thing he’s lost his marbles. He went from a 335i to Grocery Getting 4 Door that isn’t Forced Induced!!? It has no DCT! It’s an old persons car!

Let me first begin where my car shopping began. First, to save some green which is impossible to do given how expensive cars have gotten. I began with a 328i as you may recall from my previous posts that I had one for 57 days as my 335i was getting repaired from an accident. I was repulsed by it. It’s blandness. It’s uninspiring power delivery and handling. I looked at everything in BMWs line up and said at this time, a BMW may just not be right for me. I looked for an E46 M3 04-06 with Competition Package. Oh and it had to be a manual. I have a better chance of winning the lottery than finding one of those in a decent condition.  I dreamed of the E92 M3 but they were well out of my price range. So I dabbled into other manufacturers.

My first stop was Ford. I was intrigued by the new Mustangs looks and the fact the middle model is now a turbo charged 4 cyl producing 300+ Horsepower. However, sitting in the car it felt like a boat! The hood seemed to go on for days and I took the car out for a drive in the evening. Something about the Ford’s Xenon Headlights (whether its the low intensity or something) made me really squint to see ahead. The transmission was subpar, the seats were very uncomfortable and right after the drive I had no interest in discussing numbers. I flat out wasn’t impressed. I’m sure the V8 would’ve rocked my world however at the time there were no lease incentives.

Next stop, Subaru. I company know for its enthusiast oriented WRX STI. Pricing one out seemed to be right in the mix of things. I sat in the vehicle and was very impressed with the interior. I wanted to take it for a drive since I’ve heard how harsh these things can be and given the fact most of my driving will be in the New York City region, pothole ridden roads and horrendous traffic conditions aren’t exactly Driver’s Car friendly. However, to my amazement not one Dealership in the Northern New Jersey Area will allow you to test drive their vehicles. Even with the salesman in the car and my 64 year old father in the backseat. I was flabbergasted and came to realize that a $36+ car should be allowed to be driven. It’s not a limited edition Ferrari. So I walked and never turned back.

Another alternative I looked at was the Volkswagen GTI. Car was incredibly fun but no matter what you say. Front wheel drive is Front wheel drive. With all the Torque-Vectoring Nannies the car isn’t fun when its plowing headfirst constantly or when you mash the throttle the steering gets jittery. Nonetheless I was willing the sacrifice this as this is still a Drivers car with huge potential and a massive car community. Then it came down to the numbers where the lease payments worked out to being the same at my 335i. A car that retails for $25k more. I laughed and I simply said this is not a car to lease but to simply buy used. I’m not interested in buying used at the time since I simply couldn’t see myself owning that car more than 2-3 years. Nonetheless I walked. And the same happened with the Mazda 6 when the lease payments and the negotiation process were just mentally taxing and one unpleasant experience after another. I simply hated the car buying experience at this point.

I decided to focus only Luxury car manufacturers. For leasing and the type of vehicle I was looking for (Fun, Comfortable and Looks that make you look over your shoulder as you walkaway) Luxury was the only way to go. I walked into Audi since I was impressed with VW. Drove the A3 and A4. I was very bored by the cars. (Full Disclosure: 6 Months later I ended up having my mother get an Audi A3 due to the size and the most you can get a car in that class). I went to Mercedes and I was wowed by the new C lass. It felt like a baby S class. Loads of standard features. Beautifully crafted and had a lot to offer. Sadly, the cost was creeping in to the 60k range which is well over budget and thinking back at the time there wasn’t a C400 AMG model which I would’ve definitely loved to give a go around if I was in the market.

At this point I wrote of the Germans as I couldn’t see anything in my price point and the budget sporty cars were not worth the headache of haggling. I revisited my old stomping grounds of Luxury Japanese cars. Test driving the IS350 F Sport I was thoroughly impressed. Let me stop any of the people who think Japanese luxury cars are just a souped version of their counterparts. Its not 1992 anymore people. Majority of these cars are 90% independent of their counter parts. Different platforms, engines and materials going into these vehicles. Different engineers and different customer base to tackle. I went to Acura test drove the ILX and TLX. I was extremely disappointed how Honda, once a great manufacturer for car enthusiasts has fallen so far and lost its direction. (Another full disclosure: I’ve owned a 2004 Acura TL and absolutely loved it).

Then came Infiniti. The black on black Q50s just sat there staring at me with the big aggressive grill that wasn’t overly done like the IS350 and the massive 19 inch gunmetal wheels that got me a little giddy on the inside. Something I haven’t felt in a long time. Something I haven’t felt when I laid eyes on the Imola Red ZHP. One of the biggest qualms I had with all the cars I drove was my seating position. NOTHING could match what I had in my previous BMWs. Low sitting position that made you feel in tune with the car. The Infiniti did that for me right off that bat. Gazing at the 2 massive touch screens and how it slanted and  swooped down the dash made me think how much detail when into this interior. The think chunky magnesium paddle shifters mounted to the steering column like in the GTR is a small into the performance oriented vehicle that Nissan is capable of building. And then came that throaty mechanical sounding 3.7 liter 6 Cylinder VQ engine that roared to life. Its high revving power band that won so many hearts for nearly a decade made me feel wow, as good as Forced Induction is, theres something so gratifying about a big throaty engine.

When you smash the throttle with the traction control off the car loves to hang its tail out and make you fight to wrestle it under control. Something you just don’t see anymore as everything is poised and controlled allowing unskilled drivers to even drift. It reminded me of my first car the 1993 Infiniti J30T that I learned how to drift. Put the car into sport mode and flip through the gears. Almost all of the critic s of the DAS (Direct Adaptive Steering) started to frustrate me. I simply couldn’t understand the reasoning . After driving with the DAS I simply can’t go back. The accuracy, the quickness and weighty feeling makes you almost feel like, dare I say, gokart? Yes its a big car. Yes the engine and transmission is dated. But mind you its still an award winning engine.The suspension felt tighter and much more planted than my 335i.

My biggest annoyance is with a 7 speed transmission that is not even a ZF or DCT, it can get frustrating when you want blistering quick shifts when backroad carving. Everything about its practicality, price, its manners and its brute force makes me excited to drive the any time I slide into the driver’s seat. The car is brimming with USEFUL technology with all around cameras to surprisingly smooth infotainment system. Yes, I know of the troubles with the 2014 model however I am lucky so far not to have experienced anything yet with the 2015 model. Knock on wood.

So in reality many of you may not agree with me as I write this review 9 months of me owning the car. I probably have left many details of my experiences of driving this car. I definitely have lost the snob appeal of the BMW but also shed the douchebag stigma that associated with BMW ownership. Many people ask what kind of car I drive or why did I go with an Infiniti. Its just too complicated to explain my wants and how this car delivers to my needs. I simply just say, “I just wanted something different.” To a petrolhead I’ll dive into my qualms with BMW and how the Infiniti fills the need of enthusiastic driving while not sacrificing comfort, practicality, your wallet and most of all the smile you get on your face when you fire the engine up every time.

 



 

Hit but Luckily No Run

IMG_0443

On December 17th I went to my car to grab things I always forget to bring in from the night before because I’m so overwhelmed probably from the drive I had minutes prior when I discovered this. It appears my car was a victim of a hit and run however I did luck out when I noticed he police department left a note on my windshield. Turns out the driver lost control of the steering wheel and hit my vehicle. Pretty skeptical but it seems like she was on her cell phone. Her car was so damaged it had to be towed. Turns out the accident happened 12 minutes after I arrived home. In any case at least her information was left on the police report. Now my car sits in surgery for over a month now as the body shop and her insurance company figure out the details. The damage is a little close to $6,000 plus the cost of my rental per day. The bumper, quarter panel, drivers door, wheel, bearings and control arms were badly damaged.

IMG_0444
Luckily Enterprise were able to put me in comparable car so I can complain too much but I must say I miss my 335i dearly and can’t wait to be behind the wheel again. But it looks like February 6th will be the soonest I can pick it up.