Want a cheap fun car? Consider Nissan’s heavily updated Sentra in new 2017 SR Turbo trim. Yes, a Sentra that’s fun! It’s been a while, but this 188-hp turbocharged imp boasts LED headlights, an…

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo Road Test

If you'd asked me last year to name the Canadian small car market's most and least entertaining cars, I'd have put Nissan's subcompact Micra city car and compact Sentra sedan on the respective lists. For 2017 the Micra remains a personal favourite in the cheap performer entry-level category, and much to my delight Nissan has elevated the larger Sentra's fun factor times ten.

It wasn't too long ago that Nissan's Sentra SE-R was a highly respected sport compact, and while this once revered model is no more, the four-door-only Sentra can now be had in as-tested SR Turbo guise as well as top-line Nismo trim. I'll leave the Nismo for a future road test review, because the SR Turbo is the car I most recently spent time with.

Before delving into this all-new 2017 trim, Nissan gave the entire Sentra line a thorough mid-cycle refresh for the 2016 model year that pulls its much more agreeable styling cues from other models within the Japanese brand's lineup, particularly the Read Full Story
Porsche builds its 718 Cayman on the same Zuffenhausen assembly line as its legendary 911, and uses many of the iconic rear-engine sports car’s components. The smaller two-seat coupe is a mid-engine…

2017 Porsche 718 Cayman Road Test

718? Well that's different. Or at least it will be to all but ardent Porschephiles. If it were any other luxury brand I might be grimacing right now. After all, normally when a premium brand changes its model-naming scheme from creatively written monikers to alphanumeric drivel (like Mazda, Acura, Cadillac, and Lincoln did years ago-the latter brand just starting to embrace its past again with the Continental) I'm not in favour, but Porsche received a smiling thumbs up from yours truly when introducing 718 as the new model prefix for the 2017 Boxster and Cayman.

You see, Porsche has long used a mix of integers, letters and words in its naming process, sometimes only referring to numbers like the original 356, the 901 that followed, the 911, 912, 914, 924, 928, 944, 959, 968, and so forth. These three-digit number sets were actually internal codes, with those noted being the most common way for we the people to refer to each model as well. Others, like the Boxster (codes 986, Read Full Story
No sports car brand is more respected than Porsche, and no model in the entire industry more revered than the mighty 911. It’s been in constant production for more than 50 years, having celebrated quinquagenarian…

Porsche celebrates one-millionth 911 milestone

2017 Porsche 911 Carrera S
Dr. Wolfgang Porsche poses with the one-millionth 911, a special Carrera S that will soon begin a world tour. (Photo: Porsche)
No sports car brand is more respected than Porsche, and no model in the entire industry more revered than the mighty 911. It’s been in constant production for more than 50 years, having celebrated quinquagenarian status in 2013. Now just four years later it has achieved yet another milestone, the production of its one-millionth car. On May 11, 2017, Porsche rolled a special Irish Green coloured 911 Carrera S Coupe off of its Zuffenhausen plant assembly line as part of its million-unit celebration, the car featuring exclusive details in homage of the 1963 original. While no longer the bestselling vehicle in the German brand’s lineup, the 911 remains its most popular car as well as its most important model due to its heritage and performance credentials. The 911 is “key in helping Porsche maintain its position as one of the most prestigious car manufacturers in the world,” said Porsche in an associated press release.
2017 Porsche 911 Carrera S
This unique 911 Carrera S Coupe boasts Irish Green paint, gold emblems and 20-inch alloys. (Photo: Porsche)
Unlike the 911’s competitors, many of which have come and gone since 1963, the 911 is a car that can be driven comfortably and reliably each and every day, no matter the weather conditions, quality of road surface, traffic congestion, or any other external circumstance, yet despite its daily ease of use it can be taken to the track on the weekend and put through its paces without any modification. In fact, more 911s have won races than any other roadworthy sports car, by professionals and amateurs alike. What’s more, Porsche credits the 911 with more than half of its own race wins, which says a lot when considering the many formidable models the brand has contested over the past five and a half decades, many of which were designed purely for motorsport.
2017 Porsche 911 Carrera S
Porsche should consider offering a “Classic” model like VW does with its Beetle, as the gold emblems are beautiful. (Photo: Porsche)
Performance in mind, Porsche has never deviated from the original 911 concept, although according to Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG, “…. we have continued to enhance the technology of the 911, refining and perfecting the sports car. That’s why it remains a state-of-the-art and technically innovative vehicle. We have also been able to expand the model line very successfully through derivatives.” Today, Canadian sports car enthusiasts can purchase a 911 in three separate body styles and no less than 22 unique variants, the former including the Coupe, Cabriolet and Targa, while the latter is replete with names like Carrera, Carrera 4, S, GTS, Turbo, Turbo S, Exclusive Series, GT3, GT2 RS, and various permutations of each.
2017 Porsche 911 Carrera S
Only one Porsche will ever wear this “911 Nr. 1000000” plaque. (Photo: Porsche)
One of the reasons Porsche is able to build so many different 911s is its advanced production facility in Zuffenhausen, which has been the home of 911 assembly since day one. Now the storied factory incorporates all two-door Porsche models, including the 718 Cayman and 718 Boxster, which are all built on the same line “thanks to a sophisticated production approach” that includes workers who “are experts in up to 200 different tasks,” says Porsche. “I cannot imagine the success story of the 911 without our unique Porsche employees,” said Uwe Hück, Chair of the Group Works Council of Porsche. “Today, we have the one-millionth 911. The good thing about it is that our colleagues still make them with the same devotion as the first car. The construction of the Mission E at the Zuffenhausen site is ringing in a new era at Porsche. And it is clear that if we are to make it a success, we will need our highly qualified and motivated employees. They will make sure that the Mission E is an emotional experience just like our 911 has always been – and always will be.”
2017 Porsche 911 Carrera S
Porsche’s Zuffenhausen plant has been home to the 911 since day one. (Photo: Porsche)
On hand for the one-millionth line-off celebration was Dr. Wolfgang Porsche, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Porsche AG, who has been a part of the development of the 911 since job one (or rather job 901). “54 years ago, I was able to take my first trips over the Grossglockner High Alpine Road with my father,” said Dr. Porsche. “The feeling of being in a 911 is just as enjoyable now as it was then. That’s because the 911 has ensured that the core values of our brand are as visionary today as they were in the first Porsche 356/1 from 1948.” To call Porsche’s 911 a success would be an understatement of major proportion, and the car’s popularity is hardly slowing down. Last year Porsche delivered 32,365 911s worldwide, which resulted in the model’s best annual sales tally ever. Still, while it enjoys strong sales for a premium sports car, the 911 remains relatively exclusive and therefore holds its value very well. In fact, many 911 models have become coveted collector’s cars, with values that have escalated far higher than their original list prices.
1964 Porsche 911
The original 911 is a sought after collectible worth many times more now than it was 54 years ago. (Photo: Porsche)
Also impressive, over 70 percent of all Porsche cars ever produced are still on the road. One of the key reasons for their longevity is dependable operation, Porsche consistently found on top of third-party quality rankings, including J.D. Power’s Initial Quality and Vehicle Dependability studies. If you were thinking of purchasing the one-millionth 911, consider one-million-and-one as this milestone car won’t be up for sale. You may be able to see it in person, however, as Porsche will soon be sending it on a world tour of road trips to include the Scottish Highlands, Germany’s famed Nürburgring, the U.S., China, and beyond. Alternatively you can visit your local Porsche retailer and order a 2017 911 Carrera S in custom Irish Green with gold painted “PORSCHE” and “911” emblems, satin-silver mirror caps, 20-inch Carrera Sport alloy wheels, circular tailpipes, a leather interior with Sport-Tex seat centres in black and dark silver, a special plaque with your car’s build number, etcetera. No matter how you decide to have it built, a car collection is not complete without a Porsche 911.
If you want a compact SUV make Honda your first or last stop, as they don’t come any better than the CR-V. The world’s bestselling SUV is new from the ground up for 2017, with standard features including…

2017 Honda CR-V Touring Road Test

Can you guess the question I get asked most often? Sure I get plenty of queries about best supercars ever driven and safest cars for university-aged daughters, but more often than not people want to know which compact SUV they should buy. Whether I'm at home in Canada, across the Pacific at my second home in the Philippines, or traveling somewhere else, the theme never changes. Compact SUVs are popular everywhere, and making life easier the answer given most often is found on every continent too, Honda's CR-V.

The CR-V was the most popular SUV in the world last year, selling a total of 752,670 units compared to 711,571 in 2015, which represented growth of 5.8 percent and a new all-time high for the SUV sector.

Of course, as good as the CR-V is I'm not going to recommend it to an off-road enthusiast, Jeep's Cherokee (good for 295,081 global sales last year) a better bet within the directly competitive mainstream volume sector (hardcore Wrangler fans don't need to ask-they Read Full Story
Kia Soul fans rejoice! The Kia Soul, which was introduced to the market as a 2009 model, now has an optional turbocharged engine. The new Soul has a 1.6-litre turbocharged inline four engine paired with…

2017 Kia Soul Turbo SX

The Kia Soul Turbo looks awesome in its Wild Orange paint
Kia Soul fans rejoice! The Kia Soul, which was introduced to the market as a 2009 model, now has an optional turbocharged engine. The new Soul has a 1.6-litre turbocharged inline four engine paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with manual shifting. The new turbocharged Kia Soul now develops 201 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 195 lb-ft of torque at 1,500 rpm. The Soul will reach 100 kph in 7.5 seconds (est) from a standstill and will keep on going to a claimed top speed of 200 kph. Interestingly the engine in the new Kia Soul Turbo is the same engine found in the Kia Forte Koup, Kia Optima, Hyundai Elantra Sport, Hyundai Sonata, Hyundai Tucson and the Hyundai Veloster Turbo. The Kia Soul sells extremely well in the small car, tall hatchbacks & crossover vehicle segment in Canada. In 2016 it led the market segment with 12,672 units sold. The closest competitor to the Kia Soul in this segment was the new Honda HR-V. In 2016 the Honda HR-V sold 12,371 units.
A VW GTI-esque red stripe nicely compliments the athletic looking Kia Soul Turbo.
To distinguish the turbo model from the base model there have been several visual refinements. A Volkswagen GTI inspired red accent line just below the door runs along the rocker panel. The piano black grille is sharper and also sports a red accent line near the bottom of the fascia. Our test vehicle also included 18-inch sport alloy wheels with P235/45R18 tires, upgraded fog lights, dual exhaust tips, a front skid plate and distinguishing Turbo badges.
The Wild Orange coloured stitching looks great on the sport shaped steering wheel and the sport seats.
Inside, you will find comfortable, high quality black cloth sport seats with leather bolsters trimmed in “Wild Orange” stitching. Both front seats are six-way power adjustable and heated however, only the drivers’ seat has lumbar support. The Kia also has a heated sport steering wheel (shaped like a downwards facing “D”) wrapped in leather and also trimmed to match the seats. The automatic gearshift is wrapped in leather and accented nicely with more stitching and a black and orange plastic knob.  
The control knob for the footwell lighting can be set to respond to the music or apparently even your mood.
Underneath and to the left of the steering wheel there is a control knob for the foot well lighting which you can set to react to mood or music. It worked extremely well for music however stayed permanently blue while on mood, which I thought was weird because I couldn’t resist smiling the entire time. The tester also came with a beautiful panoramic sunroof that made the already spacious car feel even more so. Speaking of space, the cargo capacity for the Kia Soul Turbo is 532-litres which climbs to 1,402-litres once the rear seats go down. The trunk also comes with a clever hidden floor panel, which can be used to store valuables.
The eight-inch multimedia interface comes with voice activated navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
On the Soul Turbo the Tech package option adds $3,000 making the Kia $31,000. The option package includes dual USB charge points, eight speakers, Harman Kardon premium audio system, eight-inch multimedia interface with voice-activated navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, LED cabin lighting and a cargo cover with luggage net. There is so a lot more to delve into when it comes to the Kia Soul Turbo so make sure to come back and read our full road test review. I’m excited to tell you what it’s been like to drive, how comfortable it is, its livability, the fuel efficiency and why it’s worth the extra money for the Turbo.
I don’t know why I still call this little car the Tercel. I worked for a Toyota dealer way back in ‘87 and the Tercel was one of the most popular cars we sold at the time. That was already the third-generation…

2017 Toyota Yaris SE Hatchback

2017 Toyota Yaris SE Hatchback
The 2017 Yaris Hatchback looks pretty sporty in SE trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
I don’t know why I still call this little car the Tercel. I worked for a Toyota dealer way back in ‘87 and the Tercel was one of the most popular cars we sold at the time. That was already the third-generation Tercel, which was replaced by the Echo in 1999. This oddly styled yet undeniably practical subcompact was one of my first-ever manufacturer-supplied weeklong test cars (thank you F. David Stone) when I entered the professional journalist fray in 2000, and one I’d still love to get my hands on in five-speed manual Hatchback RS guise. I first drove that little number at a press launch in Niagara, Ontario during the fall of 2003, but it was another such launch program in autumn of 2005 that saw a redesigned version of the same car debut, and with it the odd yet catchy Yaris name.
2017 Toyota Yaris SE Hatchback
The machine-finished 16-inch alloy wheels with black painted pockets and rooftop spoiler are part of the SE upgrade. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Interestingly, the Echo was actually a rebadged Yaris, but most of us don’t pay attention to European nameplates here in North America. I didn’t even realize both cars were also shared with the Vitz, Platz and Vios in Asian markets, four-door sedans of which are my regular rides while taxiing around my second home of greater Manila (there are millions of these things throughout the Philippines). I had already experienced just how much fun the Yaris was to drive with that aforementioned Echo Hatch RS, but it was during the second launch event that I first autocrossed one. The car has only improved over time, although I must say this latest version isn’t as capable of sneaking past the constabulary is it once was. At least this top-line Yaris SE looks a lot subtler in Magnetic Grey Metallic than Absolutely Red, or even more jaw-dropping Ruby Flare Pearl with Black Sand pillars and rooftop, the latter two hues making the car’s massive black maw pull eyeballs as if one of Gazoo Racing’s WRC rally cars was nonchalantly passing by (ok, that race-only car has a lot more white in its livery, but you get my point).
2017 Toyota Yaris SE Hatchback
Toyota improves the SE’s interior with soft-touch surfaces and sportier trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
I only wish Toyota had shaved $1,000 off my tester’s bottom line by forgoing the rather pedestrian four-speed automatic, the much more engaging standard five-speed manual a lot more in keeping with the Yaris SE’s hot hatch styling. Yes, the Yaris is one of the only cars still sold in North America with a four-speed autobox, most of its peers having gravitated over to a continuously variable transmission or a much more fun to drive dual-clutch sequential gearbox. The Yaris’ automatic doesn’t even include a sequential manual mode, but rather a gated shifter that lets you manually select all of its lower gears—I suppose that’s better than nothing. I love that Toyota raises the excitement bar by calling it a four-speed “Super ECT with Overdrive,” as if its SLAM overdrive-equipped Class 0.5 jerry-rigged Isu-Sim SSP05 hyperdrive-enhanced Girodyne SRB42 sublight engines can whisk the little YT-1300 to 1,050 km/h in atmosphere or 3,000 G in space.
2017 Toyota Yaris SE Hatchback
Not a bad looking little economy car, don’t you think? (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Before you start thinking that I’m ripping too hard on this cheap little hatch (it’s less than $20k as tested), appreciate that its four-speed auto drives better than many newer CVTs, but I’ve already said too much as this is seat-of-the-pants info for my upcoming road test review—stay tuned. I’ll mention a thing or two about the Yaris’ sole 106-horsepower 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine with 103 lb-ft of torque in the review as well (which is actually two horsepower and two pound-feet less formidable than the Echo hatch noted earlier), along with the usual comments regarding drivability, overall comfort, interior quality, refinement and equipment usability, but I might as well cover its base and optional features now.
2017 Toyota Yaris SE Hatchback
This leather-clad gated shifter hides a four-speed automatic, but don’t worry performance fans as a five-speed manual comes standard. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
For just $18,510 plus freight and fees, the 2017 Yaris Hatchback SE hits the road running with machine-finished 16-inch alloy wheels on 195/50 all-seasons, signature LED driving lights within the halogen projector headlamp clusters, fog lights, a unique black mesh grille (the base car’s is horizontally ribbed), blackened front trim (normally chrome), a body-colour rear rooftop spoiler, powered locks with remote access, powered windows, a contrast stitched leather-wrapped tilt (non-telescopic) multifunctional sport steering wheel, a leather-clad shift knob, a soft-touch synthetic instrument panel, soft door inserts, power-adjustable heated side mirrors, a trip computer, cruise control, air conditioning, a 6.1-inch colour infotainment touchscreen incorporating a backup camera, six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio with aux and USB ports, Bluetooth, front sport seats with contrast-stitched ribbed premium cloth upholstery, a 60/40-split folding rear bench seat that expands on the already sizeable 433-litre (15.3 cubic foot) cargo area, and most impressive of all (especially because it’s even standard with the $15,475 base Yaris), Toyota’s Safety Sense C combo that boasts auto high beams (seriously!), a pre-collision system, and lane departure alert.
2017 Toyota Yaris SE Hatchback
These ribbed and contrast stitched grey cloth sport seats are part of the SE upgrade. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Of course, the Yaris also comes standard with the usual active and passive safety gear like ABS-enhanced four-wheel disc brakes (the SE is upgraded over the usual rear drums) with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, traction and stability control, all the usual airbags including one for the driver’s knees, etcetera. People normally buy into this class because they’re not required to spend much initially or ongoing, with even this sportier Yaris capable of a claimed 7.8 L/100km city, 6.5 highway and 7.2 combined fuel economy rating. The Yaris is renowned for its reliability, just like the Echo, Tercel, and Starlet before.
2017 Toyota Yaris SE Hatchback
The rear seats aren’t as fancy, but plenty serviceable. Come back to find out if they’re comfortable and roomy too. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
My tester was pretty well loaded, although a person could spend extra for paint, the aforementioned two-tone colours costing an extra $540. The cargo liner in back was an add-on too, this from the accessories catalogue at a mere $90 and change. Ask nicely and your dealer might even throw in all-season floor mats, these only setting them back $165, while a cargo net is just over $130. You can get a block heater for just under $210, and the usual paint protection, hood deflector, and body side mouldings too, but the coolest dealer-added accessories include the $465 Bongiovi Acoustics DPS radio upgrade that really improves audio quality, and the (rather pricey) $1,123 navigation system that adds detailed mapping and real-time routing to the stock display, plus SMS text message/email read and reply, “one shot” voice commands, “Playmore Like This” and Gracenotes apps, plus more. The Yaris is about to be updated with an even more aggressive look for 2018, so if you like what you see you may want to grab a 2017 while you can. I’ll be back soon with my full review and a considerably larger, much more detailed photo gallery, so until then enjoy the small batch of photos supplied…
Sporty looking and plenty quick with 194 hybrid horsepower, its standard AWD is conventionally powered up front and a battery sourced at the rear. The result is best-in-class fuel economy of 7.4 L/100km…

2017 Lexus NX 300h Executive Road Test

Amazingly, Lexus went from having nothing in the compact luxury SUV segment throughout most of 2014 and prior, to being one of the top-three players by the end of 2016. The story is even better in the U.S. where the new NX is now number one in the entire class.

That, of course, makes it top dog in the northernmost North American jurisdictions by default, with combined U.S./Canadian sales of 61,179 units compared to 60,048 Acura RDX deliveries. Where were Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi? The four-ringed brand was third with 57,863 Q5 sales (that being the old first-generation model that's since been replaced), Mercedes' new GLC fourth with 52,562 units, and BMW's X3 fifth with a total of 49,613 buyers.

How the mighty Germans have fallen, not that Lexus is particularly weak and feeble. The Japanese luxury brand is a powerhouse in the crossover sport utility sector where its RX has been the bestselling mid-size luxury SUV in both Canada and the U.S. (by a long shot) for as Read Full Story
BMW’s 7 Series has always played second fiddle to the S-Class for luxury, but not so anymore. With the advent of the 6th-gen 7, always admirable large car driving dynamics are joined by a level of available…

2017 BMW 750Li xDrive Executive Road Test

Ever since Lexus entered the luxury fray, pundits, including yours truly, have claimed that premium brands require a V8-powered full-size flagship sedan within their ranks in order to be taken seriously.

Hyundai Motor Company's new Genesis brand appears to concur, bravely launching its new two-model luxury division with just a mid-size and full-size sedan at a time when compact D-segment cars and all manner of SUVs dominate the luxury sales charts, and a quick look at the highfalutin sector's top-selling brands will show that Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Lexus rule the roost in Canada (just switch those last two around for the U.S. market), all of which offer large four-door flagships.

Of course, success may have a lot more to do with three-quarters of these sales leaders being traditional German brands with long, rich histories, all epitomizing luxury and therefore appealing to those trying to set themselves apart from the unwashed masses, the latter Japanese building Read Full Story