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Another Look- 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar

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A couple of months ago, we Road Tested Volvo’s hottest offering du jour, the S60 Polestar. We enjoyed the experience quite a bit but were left wanting somewhat. As good as the sedan was, we couldn’t help but wonder why anyone would choose it over its significantly better looking and more practical wagon stable mate you see here, the drool-worthy V60 Polestar.

We auto scribes have never been shy about professing a deep love for wagons, but it seems that these warm feelings are slowly permeating mainstream tastes- more and more manufacturers are coming around to the fact that some folks don’t need the sky-high ground clearance, frivolous weight and ghastly fuel economy of an SUV. Slap on some go-fast chassis bits, up the horsepower and slather it in Rebel Blue paint and instantly you’ve got a compelling choice in the premium wagon marketplace that is anything but crowded- other than the certifiably bonkers Mercedes Benz E63 wagon you aren’t going to be spoiled for choice. Although the ballistic German will trounce the Polestar in every measureable performance measuring stick, it still demands a soaring premium over Gothenburg’s finest.

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2014 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD

Mom would approve.

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The Volvo XC60 is the vehicular equivalent to eating granola or running that extra mile- you feel good about driving it. During our time with the turbocharged CUV we kept arriving at the same conclusion- the XC60 is good for the soul.

For starters, it’s pretty darn comfortable. We’ve gone on and on about the sinful comfort of the thrones in Volvo cars, and the XC does not differ from that path. It’s also quiet, nicely refined and reassuringly solid. A cornerstone of Volvo’s reputation is founded upon safety, and you get the feeling that they sweated the details in keeping you and your passengers as secure as possible.

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2014 Ford Focus SE

All the Focus you’ll ever need.

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It wasn’t that long ago when auto scribes lashed out at Ford for not supplying North America with the light-years better Focus they’d been enjoying in Europe for years. In 2011, Ford provided us the keys to the first “world” Focus (the same kind whether you’re in Kapuskasing or Kuala Lumpur) to get us to stop complaining. The strategy worked; we, along with the small car market took notice and gleefully embraced Ford’s compact offering as best in class- an honor it wholly deserved. Nowadays it would just feel weird complaining. Keep reading…

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2014 Jaguar F-Type Coupe V6 S and V8 R 

Two delightfully different doses of delicious insanity.

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Yeah, it’s big.

DSC01804When we tested Infiniti’s jumbo SUV back in 2009, it was called the QX56 and it was, in a word, huge. Fast forward to 2014 and the proceedings are still massively proportioned although the name has changed, adopting the QX80 moniker. If you think (like most people may be inclined to) that they’ve enlarged the already substantial V8 to 8.0 litres, you’d be wrong- this is just another ridiculous example of Infiniti’s wisdom when they decided to name every car in their range after a watch battery.

So it isn’t an 8.0 litre monster, but 5.6 litres of displacement doesn’t mean it’s a pip squeak. The engine delivers a robust 400 horsepower and 413 pounds feet of torque and makes some pretty good noises doing so- if NASCAR ever moves from pushrods to overhead cams, this is what they’re going to sound like. It has enough muscle to tow almost 4,000 kilos making it one of the few monster SUV’s that allow you to take the boat with you. All these facts translate into prodigious thirst, but I was still a bit shocked that despite my week of all-city driving the QX could only yield a paltry 18.2L/100km. The 7-speed transmission tries to upshift as early as possible and operates transparently in the background, but perhaps some taller gearing might help stave off the insatiable, but unsurprising appetite for petroleum.

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CarPicIf you haven’t already prepared your vehicle for winter driving, you’d better hurry since many parts of the country could be even colder and snowier this time around than they were a year ago.

Towards the end of last winter’s relentless bouts of sleet, hail and snow, it hardly would have seemed possible for the weather to wind up being even worse a year later. But the Old Farmer’s Almanac has predicted just that – tear-inducing thermometer readings and road-clogging piles of snow that threaten to overshadow the horrendous conditions of last winter. And central Canada? That part of the country will likely get the brunt of the wintery onslaught, according to the almanac. Keep reading…

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Victoria Beckham Approved.

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The Range Rover Evoque is an exceedingly rare example of a concept car whose stylish duds didn’t get lost in translation when producing a mass produced vehicle. I mean, look at it; it’s probably the most dramatically styled crossover there is and still looks incredibly sharp even after a few years since it’s debut.

Inside is more of the same. When you feast at the option buffet as the person who ordered our tester did with reckless abandon, you’ll end up with headrest video monitors, a powerful Meridian stereo and a tastefully executed mix of stain finish aluminum and piano black trim. The leather covering most of the surfaces is properly supple, and the stitching running across the dash is meticulous. Though this is an entry level Landie, it certainly feels premium.

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We discover huge joy in Ford’s smallest offering

DSC01604There’s nothing quite like reveling in the unexpected joys of life. Finding money in one’s pocket, for example. Light traffic and a constant flow of green lights on the morning commute. Arguing with your telecom company about some suspect charges on your bill only to be offered an upgrade to your services for less money (OK, that last one is rare.)

After driving Ford’s Fiesta SE 1.0L EcoBoost, I’m happy to report that it’s an unalloyed delight to drive, even if our enthusiasm was a bit unexpected.

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Scandinavia’s Sports Car.

DSC01566One of my favourite off ramps begins with a sharply decreasing radius right turn, followed by the road abruptly straightening out before gently bending to the right again. This is an ideal set of curves to glimpse into the composure (or lack thereof) that so called sports car manufacturers claim to have engineered into their products. We indulged in this set of corners recently as we always do, hitting apexes with micrometer precision and rocketing out the curves on a stout wave of turbocharged torque- this, in a Volvo S60.

Wait…How’d that happen?

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Just about perfect.

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I’m prone to bouts of extreme laziness, so I don’t mind telling you that I thought about writing the review for Volkswagens Mark 7 GTI like so:

The Volkswagen GTI is the best front wheel drive car there is, period. You should buy it.

Aside from the boss chewing me out for an epic lack of effort, that statement, er, road test, is completely accurate.

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2015 BMW M3 Sedan & M4 Coupe

Car Reviews & Road Tests

Is the magic still there? OK, we admit it – we’re big fans of BMW M cars. In order to minimize the risk of endless gushing throughout this review, we attempt to answer your most pressing questions surrounding these performance car icons:

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2014 BMW X4 xDrive35i SAV

Car Reviews & Road Tests

Finding BMW’s X6 too big? You’ve gotta see this! When I picked up the keys to BMW’s new X4, one of their public relations staff told me that like the bigger X6, the little smaller X4 is “quite a polarizing car.” Turns out he was right. Throughout my time with BMW’s newest model, reactions were [...]

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2014 Toyota Corolla S CVT Review

Car Reviews & Road Tests

A Corolla? Oh yes. Sporty? Um… With more than 1.3 million examples parked in driveways across Canada, the Toyota Corolla has enjoyed the kind of sales success many manufacturers dream about. Over the years it has solidified its reputation as a durable, loyal method of transporting its owners, many of whom appreciate its thrifty pricing [...]

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2014 Lexus CT200H F-Sport Review

Car Reviews & Road Tests

Lexus builds a spiffier Prius, but falls short on Sport. The Lexus CT200H has a number of things going for it. It’s nicely appointed. It skips across city streets in hushed comfort while returning stellar fuel economy. It even looks pretty cool, a sort of Japanese take on the Volkswagen GTI. In F-sport trim as [...]

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2014 Scion FR-S Monogram Edition Review

Car Reviews & Road Tests

Short time, but still sweet. There are certain things in life that are just too irresistible to turn down, like free money and the keys to exciting sports cars. No offers for cold hard cash materialized recently, but Toyota did offer a scant few days in Scion’s mildly updated funster, the FR-S, and we quickly [...]

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2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser Trial Teams Edition Review

Car Reviews & Road Tests

It had a good run. This Road Test can be considered a eulogy. That’s because after model year 2014, Toyota’s FJ Cruiser will be relegated to the pages of history, another vehicle marched into irrelevance. I’m just not sure that’s a fair way to sum up the FJ’s life.

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