The Q to Love

2014 Infiniti Q50S
2014 Infiniti Q50S. All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2014 Infiniti Q50

Next year will mark Infiniti’s quarter-century of existence.

Nissan’s luxury brand made some inroads in the premium car game. Some might say it had not done enough in terms of sales and memorable vehicles during its 25 years. Let me prove you wrong. If you noticed that on two of the most competitive cars on the Formula 1 circuit that a certain logo and corporate color appears on them.

In 1990, we were not entirely prepared for the Q45 flagship. It provoked debate while it revved up its powerful V8 engine. Years later, it serves as a reminder of what Infiniti was intending to do in this marketplace – to provoke consumers.

This is why the new Q50 sports sedan is an important vehicle for Infiniti. Though it was supposed to replace the G sedan (to be rechristened the Q40 for 2015), the new car was positioned to compete hard with the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, Lexus IS and Cadillac ATS. However, this Infiniti has a twist – sounds like the original Q45 in a sense.

You see, the Q50 might be the most original Infiniti in a very long time. Here is why…

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A Morning at the Races

Muscle Car Weekend at BIR
All Photos by Randy Stern

Here is something that will make you fall out of your seat: I have never been to a race before.

Let me translate this: I have never been a motorsports event at any venue.

Still puzzled? You would think I lived in a cave for half-a-century only watching these events on television. Not a cave, but your thoughts are valid.

Since this has been a year of firsts, I took the opportunity to drive up to Brainerd International Raceway over Labor Day Weekend to check out the Pirelli World Challenge Championships and Trans Am racing on their road course. Since I need to ease into this, I attended Saturday’s practice and qualifying sessions.

Why those and not the actual races? Continue reading

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Commentary: About This Summer of Carmmunity

Madfurther 2
Photo by Randy Stern

This was a summer full of carmmunity.

Actually, it began in the spring. Since April, I was able to visit a plethora of car meets, cruises and other car-related activities. They ranged from the 10,000 Lakes Concours d’Elegance to impromptu casual meets at any given parking lot. The result is seeing a varying array of vehicles, owners, fans and venues that fuel the passion for the automobile.

Young and old – both in human age and model year – they have found carmmunity. You could point to genres attracting certain generations and income levels, but you will find crossover. It is perfectly OK for an older person to enjoy a sports tuner, as it would a young person with his classic or antique.

In fact, we should encourage the latter…but this is not exactly what this commentary is about.

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Quickies: Ghibli

2014 Maserati Ghibli Q4
2014 Maserati Ghibli Q4. All Photos by Randy Stern

The name still stirs the soul.

It is not just any name. It is one that evokes greatness at a time when car design was in a revolutionary phase. Curves were being shifted onto elegant lines. The call of the modern car was powerful, as were the mechanics underneath.

Behind the name is a story. In the late 1960s, the pen of Giorgetto Giugiaro framed a modern sports car. Inside the carrozzeria of Ghia, Giugiaro shaped a two-plus-two grand touring coupe with 4.7liter V8 underneath its long hood. It would be a masterpiece.

The original Ghibli trumpeted a new era for the grand tourer. The hood alone gave it presence, while its delicate mechanicals were unleashed with an astounding 0-60 time of 6.8 seconds – quick for 1967. Velocity topped out at 154MPH, again a feat of glory outside of North America.

If you remember the original Ghibli, then you are probably questioning the name’s presence on Maserati’s new executive sedan. Question no more. The name evokes power, performance and stunning looks. Sounds familiar, if you already know your Maseratis.

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What Makes a Legend?

2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack
2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack. All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2015 Dodge Challenger

The Dodge Challenger is a legend.

It is a car that melds the past, the present and the future in one high performance coupe. They remind us of an era where horsepower mattered – an era that has returned with a vengeance.

As legends go, there is a story. I did not expect to review this car for probably another several months. I figured that I would be low on the totem pole to even touch it at some event – which I did. It is a car I always had been a fan of – one that challenges my journalism integrity at times. We have our favorites and we sometime espouse of which ones they are. You get it – it is not bias that we fight, but rather balancing the petrolhead in most of us with working with our subjects.

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Historiography: The Chally – Then

P6025518
All Photos by Randy Stern

No other car has captured the imagination of today’s enthusiasts than the Dodge Challenger.

The modern Chally could be seen as a retro design exercise on a shortened LX platform. At the concept stage, it was. Since 2009, it has been an image car for the Dodge brand – a modern muscle car with a look back at when they were king. It was never intended to be a huge seller, but Dodge sold over 51,000 units in 2013. My review in 2010 revealed a superb coupe that gets looks anywhere it shows up – even if it only has a V6.

However, before we even consider the modern Challenger, we must look back at the car that was the inspiration for it.

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The Next Connection

OnStar 4G LTE
All Photos by Randy Stern

What is this thing they call “4G LTE?”

I have been hearing about this for a year now. As I understand it, it is the fastest current speed your smart phone could connect to. This speed will allow your texts, your dirty laundry on Facebook, and your ability to become the greatest Candy Crush player in the neighborhood quicker than usual.

Big deal…

Actually, it was. Continue reading

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Quickies: The Seventh Sign

2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI - Photo courtesy of Volkswagen of America

2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Photo courtesy of Volkswagen of America

Seven. It is a lucky number, by rule of thumb.

Since 1975, we have been graced with seven generations of the Volkswagen Golf. In the USA, we called two of those generations the Rabbit. No matter what you called it, this was VW’s best answer to continue the legacy of the original Beetle.

The front-engine, transverse-mounted, water-cooled compact remained a mainstay in the VW lineup for North America. Though eclipsed by the Jetta in terms of sales, the Golf reminds us of how the breed has evolved. Yet, it also serves as the platform of one of the most beloved hot hatches of all time – the GTI.

After reading about it from Europe, the GTI was finally introduced in the USA in 1982. Continue reading

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Advancing the Minivan

2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite
2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite. All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2014 Honda Odyssey

Minivans.

I know what you are thinking: Why do we need to talk about them? Are they now dinosaurs in the marketplace. Who really buys these things?

First off, minivans are still an essential part of family transportation. Why? Have you been in a three-row crossover and try to fit more than five adults in one and have them sit comfortably for a long journey? The larger ones could do this well, but only a few others could, too.

This is where the minivan comes into play. However, some minivans are not made equal. Some are even more comfortable than others. Some offer more amenities than others. Some even offer a fun feature that would be worth buying the entire vehicle.

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Historiography: The “Ugly” Subcompacts of the 1970s

AMC Gremlin
AMC Gremlin. Photo by Randy Stern

Were these cars considered “subcompacts” or “compacts?”

That is a 44-year old question that has scratched the heads of those of us who lament and laugh of these cars. In particular, how do we map the advent of a new class of American car to today’s automobiles?

History has a relative position as the needle is adjusted. What we consider a subcompact today might be considered a “minicar” in the early 1970s. Yet, it is hard to calculate positioning the lineage of the Ford Pinto to today’s Ford Fiesta. Then, maybe, it was correct.

What baffles me was the designation of what were “compacts,” “mid-sizes” and “full-sizes” of three or four decades ago were larger than what we consider them today. It is as we shrunk the Big Mac to slider size and called it a “medium” car.

For the purpose of this discussion, the focus is on three of the biggest laughs in American car history – the AMC Gremlin, Chevrolet Vega and Ford Pinto.

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