What’s The Drive Driving? Week of Nov. 6, 2015
Subways are overrated. Let’s take the Ferrari.
Wherein we show you what our writers and editors are pushing around the block—or around the world.
2016 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 AWD
What do you want from a new luxury sedan? Leather is a given. A 12-way adjustable driver’s seat, of course. Dashboard trim pieces that aren’t set abuzz by low stereo frequencies. Malleable vehicle dynamics: Sport mode when all but the driver’s seat is empty; Comfort mode when you’re chomping on roadway expansion joints; Eco mode when Earth Crisis (or Pete Seeger) is on the hi-fi. Gadgetry that is actually useful, and not just a mixed bag of balky party tricks. Rear legroom. Trunk space. Power. Panache. Maybe even a dash of soul.
Few would expect a Hyundai to deliver on many, let alone all of these criteria, but on a damp, leaf-strewn Catskills byway, with downright Bavarian notes of agitation leaving the engine bay and suspension soaking up the ancient frost heaves, the Genesis stopped being “nice for a Hyundai” and became simply “nice.” Make that “really, really nice.”
It plays in a sedan segment populated by the milquetoast Acura RLX, Lexus ES, Infiniti Q50 and Lincoln MKZ, but don’t ding it for the company it keeps. The Genesis is the dark horse of Dealership Row. It’s not cheap, at $55,000 as tested, but the money nets rich features—my favorite being the stage-curtain-like retracting cover for the gargantuan moonroof.
Think for a minute about the most advanced, spatially aware cars on the road, notwithstanding Google’s prototypes or this. A Mercedes-Benz S-Class is on the short list, ditto Volvo’s XC90. Add a Hyundai. The Genesis 3.8’s adaptive cruise control, accessed via a simple button mounted on the steering wheel, couldn’t be easier to use, and works admirably even in stop-and-go city traffic. More than a few times, my wife looked on incredulously (and with justifiable concern) as I swung my right leg fore and aft, the car accelerating and braking on its own accord. Like I said, useful gadgetry.
It’s enough to make you wonder why Hyundai doesn’t reward the Genesis with its own sub-brand. Oh wait.—Jonathan Schultz, deputy editor
The TT has always been a unique beast. A high-concept automobile, it was like a piece of couture. Either you loved the styling, or you thought it a bit absurd. The all-new TT is less idiosyncratic looking, and more of a straight-forward sports car in appearance. For some that’ll be a bad thing, but not for me. I find it gorgeous.
Step inside, and you’ve got the usual Audi panache at your fingertips. Even the air-conditioning blowers are cool as shit. Throw the car in gear, and you can hurl this two-seater around like it’s a toy. The 2-liter turbo I4 puts out only 220 horsepower, but because the car is so small, it feels more like 300. Base price: $46,400. Our test drive had the tech package ($3,250), the sport seat ($1,600), and the 19-inch wheels ($1,000), all recommended.
If you’re in the market for a roadster and have the kale to get in something a couple rungs above the Mazda MX-5 Miata, you’ve got a decision ahead of you: BMW Z4 (just a tad more expensive) or the TT? Hmmm… tough one, but a very agreeable quandary to have.—A.J. Baime, editor-at-large
2015 Kawazaki Z1000
The Z1000 is everything a naked bike should be: fast, light and overall pretty pissed off. I decided to go up the Palisades Parkway for the classic Bear Mountain and Seven Lakes drives. Beautiful fall day with all the leaves turning, luckily very few on the actual pavement. The power curve starts early, is very smooth… but gives and gives and gives. I found myself shifting up after strong accelerations and with still 4,000-5,000 rpms to the redline.
1,043 cc and almost 130 horsepower for a 462-lb bike. You do the math: zero to 60 mph in a Veyron-like 2.5 seconds—and this much fun for only $11,999.—Edouard Portelette, vice president of business operations, advertising
2016 Nissan Titan XD Platinum Reserve
Among he-man pickup trucks, the Nissan Titan has been odd man out, barely rippling a field that begins with Ford and Chevy, segues to Ram and makes grudging space for the Toyota Tundra.
With its Bautista-like brawn, glittering maw and standard Cummins V8 diesel engine, the new 2016 Titan finally signals its willingness to play with the giants. Now we’ll see if enough buyers care to play along.
The 5-liter diesel, with 310 horses and 555 pound-feet of torque, replaces a larger gasoline V8, though Nissan has a V6 version on the horizon. With no stumps in my Brooklyn neighborhood that need yanking, I satisfy myself with carrying groceries in the cavernous, well-equipped interior of the Platinum Crew Cab edition. That Crew Cab diesel feels like a tweener, aiming for the capability of heavy-duty pickups, including the ability to tow more than 12,000 lbs and more than a half-ton in its bed.
In that vein, ride quality is decent, but closer to the jiggly heavy-duty vibe than the almost car-like ease of the Ram (with its unique coil-spring rear suspension) or new Ford F-150. The Cummins diesel also tends to fill the cabin with diesel fumes in low-speed traffic, even with no belching bus or Volkswagen within miles. Turning the HVAC system to recirculating air mitigates the problem.
The enormous Titan might seem a tuna-out-of-water on Manhattan streets, but aside from tricky parallel parking, it’s the opposite: Typically aggressive New Yorkers turn into timid saints, granting the Titan wide berth every time I change lanes or make a turn. Yep, the tonnage laws still apply.—Lawrence Ulrich, chief auto critic
2015 Nissan Wingroad
I'm tooling around the Japanese countryside this week with my boyfriend and another couple doing your typical shrine and nudist-hot-springs tourism. So, though we wanted to rent an adorable kei car, we needed something larger than a suitcase to haul around our collective suitcases. This spiffy blue Nissan wagon, underpinned by what we believe is the Sentra platform, did the job—though it did so while providing exactly no driving pleasure. (The Japanese road signs were far more entertaining, especially the one with the angry cartoon cliff spitting landslide boulders at a terrified car.) Also, Japanese navigation systems function by programming in the destination's phone number. And it works.—Brett Berk, writer-at-large
1989 Lancia Delta Integrale
Steeped in heritage, hallowed in the rally racing record books. Outside, this four-door box-fender'd brick does a decent MK1 Volkswagen GTI impression. But this thing just stinks of special. It's so much better. More here.—Jon Harper, social media editor
2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4X4 double cab
Does your pickup come in Blazing Blue Pearl with graphite flecks and a hood scoop that looks like a fascist threat? I doubt it. God bless the Taco Supreme—the best that $38,290 can buy.—Mike Guy, editor