2017 Ford Fusion V6 Sport
Ford injects the Fusion with a serious dose of Vitamin HP
Economies of scale is a beautiful thing, isn’t it?
A curious way to begin a review, but bear with us. Economies of scale is defined as the cost advantages that companies enjoy due to size, output, or scale of operation, with cost per unit of output generally decreasing with increasing scale as fixed costs are spread out over more units of output. In the Fusion’s case, that mouthful simply means that it will get a really powerful engine from the F-150 and Edge SUV which makes Ford’s investment in its development make more sense to the bean counters. That engine is the twice turbocharged 2.7 litre V6, complete with direct injection and an ultra-tough compacted graphite iron engine clock, something you’d normally associate with racing applications.
2016 Ford F-150 4X4 King Ranch
Ford’s ritzy King Ranch helps channel your inner Texan
The King Ranch has always been a bit over the top, hasn’t it?
The King Ranch trim available on Ford’s F series pickup trucks have never been known for subtlety. Past versions have looked positively garish, with lurid two-tone color schemes and busy looking interiors. The version we drove that you see here is still loud and proud, but toned down considerably in the name good taste. Our tester came with a truckload (Ha!) of bells and whistles, but the King Ranch isn’t even the range topper of the F-150 model range; there’s a Platinum model above it, and a Limited trim level higher than that one. So the days of a $100K F-150 (depending on configuration and how much you pig out at the options buffet) are probably not too far off.
2017 Ford Focus RS
Ford knocks another one out of the park
Ford is really firing on all cylinders these days.
We’re still tingling from the Shelby GT350 we drove earlier this summer, a car that exists against all odds what with its bespoke, hand assembled flat crank jewel of an engine. Waiting in the wings are the incredible Ford GT hypercar and the beastly F150 Raptor, each featuring a turbocharged V6 cranked to differing levels of insanity. Even the new Fusion Sport sedan makes an honest 325 horsepower. If all those cars didn’t convince you that Ford is in the heady midst of a performance renaissance, the clincher has surely got to be Ford Focus RS you see here, finally plying our roadways after so many years of being exclusive to Europe. Spoiler alert: it’s insanely good. Chevy and Mopar loyalists, your resolute allegiance to your respective brands might be in jeopardy; we’ve seen more than a few die hard fans cast wonton glances at Ford showrooms as of late.
2017 Lincoln MKZ 3.0T
Lincoln makes some noise about Quiet Luxury
What exactly should a luxury car be?
Lincoln has been asking itself this very question, and after taking a look at some of the usual suspects the MKZ will do battle with, they aren’t sure the other guys have the correct answer. These days it seems that the luxury car class is suffering from an identity crisis- there’s a little too much sport creeping its way into these cars, which in turn are trying to be all things to all people. Mostly the strategy is met with mixed results- you end up with a car with sporting pretenses that doesn’t perform all that well (and usually offers an unduly harsh ride) or on the flip side, something that feels too soft, isolated and floaty. Lincoln’s current is to straddle that line while incorporating the values that made the brand what it is- focusing on “Quiet Luxury”, offering a more “human” approach to driving. The MKZ you see here is no apex slicer, and it’s just fine with that. Conversely, it doesn’t feel nautical with copious body roll and marshmallow tuned suspension, either. You might call reinvigorated Lincoln “Lincoln 2.0” which embraces the future while keeping the best from its past- the reboot is looking promising.
2016 Ford Fiesta SE
We take a closer look at the swan song of the Feista’s current generation
The automatic gearbox used to be an issue for the Fiesta. Have they made it better?
An easy way to avoid an unpalatable automatic gearbox experience is to avoid it all together and stick with three pedals and a stick. It’s more engaging, generally offers better fuel economy and there’s less complication inherently so they’re more durable (plus, in the Fiesta’s case, you’ll pocket $1,250 dollars.) But the take rate for a manual gearbox isn’t particularly high these days, so the slushbox remains the choice for the majority of buyers. The last time we drove the Fiesta a few years ago, it was hobbled by the first generation of Powershift transmissions that suffered from issues dual clutch setups tried to avoid, specifically clumsy step off and the inability to swap gears as crisply as you’d expect. They addressed this issue and now the Fiesta feels vastly better to drive, confidently moving off the line and swapping ratios with speed and smoothness. We’d still take a manual, but anyone who’s driven the older versions and came away holding their noses really ought to give the rejigged tranny a shot. It’s much, MUCH better.
2017 Jaguar F Pace 35t R-Sport
Late to the SUV party, maybe, but it still makes quite an entrance.
It sure is easy on the eyes…
Jaguar has had a few missteps in its long history (mostly of the reliability persuasion, thankfully a thing of the past nowadays) but building ugly cars hasn’t been one of them. The F Pace follows that tradition by wearing the current design language rather well- it translates pleasingly onto the proportions mandated by an SUV. You may think of it as an F Type in hiking attire, if you like. The taillights are instantly familiar as what you’ll find on the sports car’s rear end, and the front visage with its prominent mesh grille and embellishments are taken from the XF to good effect. It is certainly a handsome conveyance, and it’s one of those cars where we’re constantly cleaning fingerprints and nose smudges off the windows and sinuous body work when we arrive back to where we parked it.
2016 BMW M2
BMW’s pint-sized 2 series gets the M treatment. We like the results
No one does fender flares quite like BMW, do they?
Nope. Park an M2 next to an M235i and the difference is stark. The flares fore and aft give the M2 a needed dose of attitude without looking contrived. We’ve always liked the 2 series but when the conversation would turn to styling, we’d murmur something about it looking a bit too upright and how its butt looked awkwardly truncated. Those gripes melted away when we strode across BMW Canada’s parking lot over to our Long Beach Blue ($895) tester. It’s got the beguilingly swollen hips, yes, but its front end of gaping air inlets, trademark quad exhaust pipes out back and manhole cover sized brake rotors peeking out behind those smoked wheels add a suitably nasty degree of menace to BMW’s littlest M offering.
2016 Shelby GT350
The Mustang achieves perfection.
Hang on just a minute…didn’t you gush over the Boss 302 a few short years ago proclaiming “Best. Mustang. EVER?”
Guilty as charged- we blurted out that claim while basking in the glory of what used to be the zenith of the Mustang model range. It was an incredible car, and its greatness is still fresh in our minds as well as the collective enthusiast community and will still command an asking price remarkably close to the windshield sticker when it was new. The Boss took the Mustang’s 5.0 litre V8 and live axle rear suspension and honed both to deliver every last millimeter of performance they could offer within that framework. When the current S550 generation with its independent rear suspension dropped in 2014, we eagerly awaited to see how Ford would attempt to outdo itself. When they started to tease the GT350 in the media and slowly lifting the veil of what kind of hardware it’d be packing, we started to salivate profusely. Consider the hype not only lived up to but exceeded- they have built not just the pinnacle of the Mustang’s lineage, but something that will strike fears into a who’s-who of renowned performance machines. The engineers had iconic heavyweights in their crosshairs; namely, the BMW M4, Porsche GT3 and Camaro Z/28.
2016 BMW 750i xDrive
Take that, S-Class.
BMW wants to bring the fight to the S-Class, huh?
In the full size luxury segment where the Big 3 Germans play, BMW has uncomfortably held the role of overlooked middle child- Mercedes Benz rules the roost with the S-Class, and the Audi A8 has always been a distant third when you look at how many Canadians elected to put one in their driveway over the last few years. The folks in Munich finally decided enough is enough and when it came time to replace the 7 series for 2016; they pulled out all the stops in an attempt to dethrone the venerable S-Class.
Have they succeeded?
We’d have to say that the 7-sereies is destined to be a hit, and judged within the metrics of sales they’re clearly on the right track- the 7 has enjoyed a whopping 165% increase in vehicles sold compared to this time last year. If it’s going to truly unseat the stalwart Benz it will take more than just a few good months in the dealership space to mount a challenge to the S-Class who’s been at the top of this heap ever since it was introduced in the mid-fifteis.
2015 BMW i8
We take a spin in BMW’s time machine
OK, so there’s no flux capacitor on the rear console and you won’t be able to step back into 1955 hoping to attend the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance. Despite the lack of actual time travel ability, the i8 is indeed a glimpse into the future. It’s so loaded with cutting edge technology and it gives is an idea of what the future of performance motoring might offer while simultaneously underlining the fact that hybrids needn’t be dull transportation appliances.