Fast, Fun and Affordable

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Fast, fun and affordable. Three words that have endless meaning in the car world. When my father decided to buy a new car a few years ago, I of course jumped all over the situation and found him all kinds of cars. He wanted something that was fast, fun, and of course affordable. Another requirement was a sunroof and manual transmission. In the end, the search came down to two vehicles- the Honda Civic Coupe SI or the Volkswagen GTI.

The decision was simple once we visited the Volkswagen dealership. It was instant love. The SI was out of the picture and my dad was now a proud new owner of a 2012 Volkswagen GTI.

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Purchased for about $27,000 the GTI came with a sunroof, 6-speed manual transmission, touch-screen radio, bluetooth connectivity, 18 inch alloy rims with low-profile tires and unique plaid seats. Under the hood sits a turbo-charged Audi engine that produces about 211hp (although its only marked at 200hp). The duel chrome tipped mufflers let off a soft growl as soon as the ignition is turned on. The GTI is offered in a 4-door but this model is the 2-door, which in my opinion has a meaner look. On the grille of the vehicle is the iconic red stripe with the GTI badge proudly displayed between the stripes. The GTI  badge is also shown on the trunk of the car. The VW logo stands out both in the front and rear of the vehicle, which I think it is perfectly placed. Look through those unique 18 inch alloy rims and your eye catches sexy red brake calipers.

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Open up the doors and the first thing you’ll notice are the plaid cloth seats. This is a feature that has been passed down from each generation of the GTI. For the people who aren’t into plaid, black leather is also available. Personally, I think the seats are beautiful and help give the car a distinct look. The bucket seats are very comfortable and very sporty looking. All the stitching is red which adds to the true sports car feel. The 6-speed manual transmission is simple black leather that leads up to a steel-colored shifter knob. The touch-screen radio is the same you get in any Audi. The steering wheel, which is flat bottomed is absolutely stunning. Black leather, and outlined in red stitching it is truly sexy. In fact, it is the same steering wheel that has been used in Lamborghini Gallardo’s. The backseat has plenty of room for passengers and also has the plaid seats. The added optional Bose stereo sounds pristine!

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Clutch down and turn the key. The GTI comes growling to life. A few revs even sound pretty nice. First gear is extremely powerful making for an almost immediate shift into second gear. The car weighs just over a ton so acceleration is excellent. Anyone in the car is thrown back against the seat has the FWD quickly gains traction and launches the car. The engine gets louder and louder making for a pretty good exhaust note. The driver can conquer all 6-speeds pretty quickly.

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On winding roads the GTI really shines. With sport tuned suspension the vehicle easily handles turns at speeds of 40mph+ and remains completely flat. The low profile tires are glued to the asphalt and anyone inside the car is not roughly tossed around. The cornering in this vehicle feels as if you were driving in a Porsche. No turn is too hard to handle for the GTI. My dad often loves to take out the car on winding roads and put the suspension to the test- and it never fails.

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On an open road in upstate New York, my dad and I decided to open up the GTI. Starting in 6th gear at about 65mph we floored it. With absolutely no turbo-lag the car rocketed forward and seamlessly reached about 115mph before we braked. The speedometer goes up to 180mph which is pretty impressive. The digital speedometer kept skipping numbers as the car reached higher speeds. The vehicle handled with such ease and if this had been an open-track, the GTI would have easily topped the 115mph mark. This car is completely stock, but there are many offered upgrades, some which give the vehicle 500+ horsepower!

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Today the GTI has about 10,000 miles on it. It has been driven from Long Island to Tennessee with great ease. It has handled the snow of New York, and even a crazy ice storm in Arkansas. The vehicle is reliable and has never had an issues and VW offers great maintenance deals. The GTI is the perfect car for someone looking to add some fun to their daily driver. With a price tag starting at just $25,000 the GTI is extremely affordable for all power and superb handling it gives. Credited car magazines such as MotorTrend have said that the GTI is much better value than the more expensive R version. I would highly recommend the GTI to anyone. It has quickly become one of my favorite cars to drive and be a passenger in.IMG_3700

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Review: From Sweden To The Roads of New York!

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Well here it is everybody- my daily driver! It is a 2004 Volvo S60 2.4. Now as an exotic car enthusiast this obviously is nothing to boast about. The car carries a basic 2.4 liter engine that produces 168hp. The car was purchased right off the showroom floor ten years ago and is the most basic model for the S60. Yes, I know nothing too exciting and certainly nothing to be compared with the exotics in previous posts.

Volvo, a Swedish company has always been known more for their innovative safety rather than design and performance. The company was started in 1927 and produced just a few hundred vehicles a year. Since then the company has grown and now produces many vehicle models. Volvo also builds 18-wheelers, construction vehicles, luxury busses and even sail boats. Today, Volvo sits in the entry-level luxury vehicle category although strong, and successful efforts are being made to compete with Mercedes, BMW and Audi.

My car features affluent leather seating that helps make trips of all durations pleasant. The driver seat has great electronic memory, and at a push of a button will adjust both the seats and mirrors to the drivers pre-set position. I find this very useful when I return to the driver seat after another family member has been driving. Also, the stock radio has been replaced by a simple JVC unit. This was done about a year ago, as the original tape deck in the car stopped working and would no longer accept an MP3 connection.

The installed JVC unit.

The installed JVC unit.

The car has about 138,000 miles on it, but upkeep hasn’t been too stressful. There have a been a few costly repairs, the most recent was for about $1,000 and will most definitely be the vehicles last major fix. I do find that lightbulbs seem to constantly die out; but they are a quick, cheap, do-it-yourself fix. Of course, like any 10-year old vehicle there are the average dings and dents but the car was never in any serious accidents. The S60 was purchased for just over $28,000 in 2004. Kelly Blue Book has valued the car at about $1,200 for a trade-in.

The car drives pretty well, especially in the snow. My favorite feature of the car is the “W” mode the vehicle is equipped with. What this button does is slow down the acceleration of the car making sure that the front tires (FWD) do not spin to fast on ice. I find that driving in the snow is often easy. The car does slide around on occasion but traction control swiftly corrects any issues. The car does not have any sort of rear-window wiper, which sometimes makes visibility difficult under certain conditions. I am very surprised of how well it handles the bad weather. I very rarely find myself stuck or sliding, I always feel that I am in complete control.

Notice the "W" in the top left corner. A great feature.

Notice the “W” in the top left corner. A great feature.

In dry conditions the car handles like any luxury vehicle should. The ride is pretty tranquil and outside noises are well silenced. On hot summer days, the AC works fast, cooling off the often scorching hot black leather seats. The sunroof and moonroof allow for great airflow and do not cause any unnecessary noises. In the winter, the two-level heated seats for the driver and passenger offer great warmth as does the powerful heating system. I’ve noticed that the car does have a heavy steering wheel compared to other vehicles I have driven. The car will do 0-60 MPH in a sluggish 7 seconds but I find that once the car is up to speed (about 40MPH) it swiftly responds when more power is needed. The engine even gives a nice growl as it accelerates up to speed.

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The back seats are just as opulent as the front. Leg-room is not to great, depending on the seating position up front. Although the car seats three in the back I find that it’s better off with only two people. The trunk is absolutely massive and can fit multiple suitcases, camping gear or even an inflatable kayak with ease! The headlights offer unique “mini” wipers that help keep them clean anytime windshield wiper fluid is being used.

In summary, this 2004 Volvo S60 has stood the test of time and miles. The car continues to start perfectly, and rarely has any concerning issues. The car gets decent gas milage about 18 City and 21 Highway. I would most definitely recommend a Volvo for anyone wanting a well-priced luxury vehicle. If you’re in the market for a first car, or luxurious used vehicle, I would again recommend a Volvo at any milage. The new Volvo’s are a bit more pricey at $32,000 but are very delightful and even powerful. I definitely see where Volvo is competing with top luxury brands. They offer great vehicles for often less money than other competitors! Stop by any Volvo dealer and check out their new line up; you won’t be disappointed!

Look for the wipers on the headlights.

Look for the wipers on the headlights.

A snowy drive made simple.

A snowy drive made simple.

Toyota Yaris, not too bad?

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Recently, my dad was here from Tennessee to spend the week with my sister and I. To my dissapointment his rental car from the airport was a Toyota Yaris. At first glance its nothing eye-catching, and at a longer look its still nothing eye-catching. It’s completely just an average car for your average person who most likely doesn’t  really care what they drive. After a week of being in the Yaris numerous times, I have to say this car isn’t all that bad! Yes, its nothing fancy, very basic interior with cloth seats and a very plastic, cheap looking dashboard but the ride was suprisingly good. Now don’t go thinking that you’re going to get in this car and feel like you’re riding around in a BMW or Mercedes, but for a car thats base price is $14,430 it really isn’t too bad. Another plus besides the cheap price is the 30 mpg city and 37 mpg highway so you’ll be saving up at the pump as well. The moral of the story is that if you’re someone who doesn’t need an eye catching, fast, flashy car and wants to walk away with some extra cash in your pocket than why not stop by and check out a Yaris! (and no Toyota didn’t pay me to say that)