What’s The Drive Driving? Week of Nov. 13, 2015
Subways are overrated. Let’s take the Lamborghini.
Wherein we show you what our writers and editors are pushing around the block—or around the world.
1969 Lamborghini Miura P400 S
I spent the week schlepping around New York in a $25,000, matte pistachio Subaru XV Crosstrek, the automotive equivalent of mom jeans or a 12-step program: It works if you work it. Fortunately, the week ended with a visit to the garage housing the goods for the Keno Brothers upcoming auction, including this all-original, unrestored 1969 Miura S, the up-powered version of Lamborghini's— if not the world's—most beautiful car. The exotic noise of the omnipotent V12 sucking air just aft of my medula, the sharding shred of the metal shifter clacking against the metal shift gates, and the feel of the slick steering wheel between my knees (yes, between my knees) light as the one in a children's amusement park racer, will now forever be in reserve whenever waves of deadlines, the ravages of war, Republicans, or Manhattan street slush attempt to vanquish my joy. The speedometer starts at 40 km/h. A flying start, indeed. -Brett Berk, writer-at-large
2016 Kia Optima LX Turbo
Once as disposable as Pampers, but more prone to leakage, the cars of Kia have engineered a remarkable turnaround. The all-new Optima is still blue-light affordable, starting around $23,000, but it’s no Kmart special. Like its Korean cousin the Hyundai Sonata, the Optima has become a stand-in for the family sedans you used to expect from Detroit: Pleasant, straightforward and just stylish enough to make an owner see the upside of that 6 a.m. alarm. Now that the Optima has made it, the once-distinctive exterior blends back into the sedan crowd. (The Sonata took an even sharper turn to Dullsville). But this Optima is quieter, creamier-riding and fully matured inside. That attractive cabin is money well spent, including Apple Car Play, Android Auto and a mighty UVO infotainment system that could give ease-of-use lessons to several luxury brands. My LX Turbo’s 1.6-liter engine, with 178 horsepower, demanded regular prodding to keep pace, especially in a poorly arranged marriage with a seven-speed automatic transmission. Why Kia bothered with a fancy dual-clutch tranny, only to make it shift like a goopy Christopher Cross ballad, is beyond understanding. An optional 2.0-liter, 274-hp turbo adds needed hustle, or there’s a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four. As with the Sonata, the Optima’s idea of “sport” might be tiddlywinks with the Toyota Camry, but most family buyers don’t give a damn. Struck over the head by a model like the LX Turbo, out-the-door for around $27,500, they’ll forget everything they thought they knew about Kia. - Lawrence Ulrich, chief auto critic
2010 Nissan GT-R
Driving the Nissan GT-R Black Edition is a unique experience. With one of the smartest AWD system’s I’ve ever driven, you really get the sense a lot is happening behind the scenes. The car compensates for ham-fisted inputs with ease and could easily convince a regular Joe that he’s the next Senna in a hot minute. With brakes the size of wheels that came on mid-eightys econoboxes, one can haul the thing down from speed with impunity. Triple digit speeds arrive at alarming rates, and the overall stability leaves you constantly traveling 10-20 mph quicker than you realized. - Jon Harper, Social Media Editor
2014 Trek X-Caliber 9
After four hours on a soft tail mountain bike (ie, not full suspension) on challenging terrain, you need a cold beer, not to drink but to ice down your coccyx bone. But it’s worth it.
Trek’s X-Caliber series is like a base Mustang of the mountain bike world. It’s affordable for a good bike (about $1,200, and for that you get Shimano hydraulic brakes and drivetrain, RockShox Recon Silver front fork, and 29-inch wheels.). It’ll kick ass but there’s nothing too special about it. It’s all about what you do with it, whether you can wrench all the performance you can out of the thing, without braking your neck. Pictured here: the bike at Kirkwood in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Sadly, the Trek gets put away this time of year. Happily, it’s time to wax up the skis. —A.J. Baime, editor at large