The iconic Volkswagen GTI was arguably the first "hot hatch" when VW made a small hatchback fun to drive, now in its sixth generation, the GTI still lives up to the original's sporting intentions.
The GTI is available as a four-door, with a 210-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and the choice of a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed Direct Shift Gearbox, (DSG), which allows the driver to shift sequentially, without doing the clutch work, via paddles on the steering wheel or the shift lever itself. An extensive list of standard equipment is included, features such as well-bolstered cloth sport seats with plaid inserts, halogen fog lamps, alloy pedals, SIRIUS satellite radio, 18-inch performance tires on alloy wheels, sport suspension, six airbags, tire pressure monitoring, an 8-speaker touch-screen audio system, Bluetooth and a multi-function leather steering wheel.
For 2014, the GTI overall is unchanged. The Wolfsburg Edition and Drivers Edition are the only two trims available.
What’s new in the 2012 MKT? Its highly desirable 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine is now essentially free. Compared to last year it is, with the base price of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 and all-wheel-drive powertrain now the same $46,295 as the non-EcoBoost 3.7-liter from last year (the 3.7 awd combination has been dropped, leaving the naturally aspirated V-6 available only with fwd). Mechanically, the MKT is unchanged for 2012, a safe status for this well-equipped luxury crossover. Third-row seating is standard, with your choice of three-across seating or two captain’s chairs in the second row. Based on Ford Flex architecture, the MKT is a surprisingly agile and precise driver that compares favorably to some of Lincoln’s sedans.
There's a special feel in the Continental, from the moment you open the heavy door and get your first nose full of that leather interior. Keep in mind that, in a Bentley, we're not just talking "seating surfaces." This is leather everywhere, including the dash, the pillars, the headliner, everything. The front thrones are about what you'd expect, but the well being of the back-seat passengers is completely dependent on the generosity of those up front to scoot their seats forward.
The Continental has used a twelve-cylinder engine from the get-go; it's a large, 6.0-liter unit with its cylinders arranged not in a V but in a W shape. Spin the W-12 to life and it settles into a deep bass rumble. 567 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque are waiting to be unleashed by your right foot. More recently, Bentley added the (lower-cost) option of a turbocharged V-8. Although its 500 hp and 487 lb-ft are shaded by the W-12, it's amazing how similar in character the two engines are. The V-8 accelerates the Continental GT from 0 to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds; the W-12 accomplishes the same feat in 4.4 seconds.
Any version of the Continental GT or GTC is impressive underway. This is a heavy car and yet it accelerates and changes direction with alacrity. The steering is neither overboosted nor too heavy, and it is commendably precise. Also notable is the beautifully matched calibration of the throttle and brake -- neither jumpy nor grabby; both have a long travel that is nicely progressive.
Decent sized, fun, do-everything, utilitarian—that in a nutshell is Mitsubishi's Outlander. Utilizing the same aggressive front styling as the Lancer, the Outlander can be outfitted with Super All Wheel Control, which manages torque to each of the four driven wheels through differential and brake control. This sporty system helps the Outlander feel quite agile, as if it's smaller than it reallty is, while also ensuring sure-footedness in tough conditions. Aside from the base ES model, the Outlander can seat seven, although full-size folks may not enjoy the ride in the far back. The 2-piece tailgate is a clamshell design, with the lower door folding down into the bumper, creating a low lift-over height.
The fun to drive compact German hatchback returned to the North American market in 2010 to replace the Rabbit, a name that was revived in North America back in 2006 for the then new MkV hatchback version of the Jetta.
The MkVI Golf is available as a four-door body-style and can be powered by either a 170-hp 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder gas engine, or a 140-hp 2.0-liter TDI clean-diesel engine. Buyers that go with the gas engine receive the six-speed Tiptronic automatic; while TDI buyers select from either a six-speed manual transmission, or a six-speed DSG auto with Tiptronic. Standard safety features on all models include, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, tire pressure monitoring and six airbags. TDI models are extra equipped with features such as sport suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels/tires, leather steering wheel and shift knob, touch-screen 6-disc audio system with SIRIUS and floor mats.