The last time we did a muscle-car comparo back in 2011, the Mustang still had the suspension of a bullock cart, the Camaro was a heavy tank with slit windows, and the Challenger was the size of the Titanic. Fast-forward to 2017, and the Mustang has now become a refined tea-sipping aristocrat; the Camaro is a lighter, smaller car with even slittier windows; and the Challenger is still the size of the Titanic, except with better everything under the skin. Time for another comparo then. Which is the best muscle car available today?
Let’s face it — if you’ve ever shopped for a three-row 4×4 as a family vehicle in the UAE, the Ford Expedition was never on your radar. The most popular choices in the mainstream full-size segment has so far been the Chevrolet Tahoe and the Nissan Armada, both very capable V8-powered SUVs that are similarly-priced and well-received. But the Ford Expedition, which has actually been gaining ground in Saudi Arabia for a while now, has undergone a major transformation of sorts for 2015, mostly under the skin, so we pitched it against its closest rivals, a friend’s leased Tahoe and another friend’s family Armada,
If you’re the aging CEO of a well-to-do company and you like to be driven around, your ride of choice has probably gravitated towards default choices like the Mercedes-Benz S350L or the BMW 740Li. If you felt adventurous, you might even look at the Audi A8 3.0T, the Lexus LS 460 or, in a particularly down year, the Hyundai Centennial. But what if you’ve made your money a bit earlier in life, and you prefer to mostly do your own driving? You also like to not appear like an aging CEO around town, so you want a bit more style in your car than the traditionally-conservative choices.
A comparo is the best way for an automotive publication to lose advertisers. That’s why you never see a clear winner in so-called comparos by local magazines, with lots of pretty photos to sell copies, no figures to back up any conclusions and three-way ties to make everybody happy. We’ve rarely picked a winner in our previous comparos either, but that’s because most of them were not proper straight-up comparos. We decided to do a serious comparison test this time though, if only to answer certain recurring questions once and for all. And the category we decided to tackle is the hotly-contested compact crossover segment.
This one was a long time coming. Sure, everybody else is busy comparing the Toyota 86 to everything from the VW Scirocco to the Hyundai Genesis Coupe. But aside from the Mazda MX-5, there was only one other car that’s similar to the 86 in recent history, and it’s the Honda S2000. It ceased production only 3 years ago, so it is still possible to buy one on the used market. And whadaya know, we actually own one in our fleet. And our car also happens to be one of the lowest-mileage S2000s in the world. This was going to be interesting.
The 2011 Ford Mustang GT, the 2010 Dodge Challenger and the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS all have three things in common. All three are retro-styled Americans, all three are V8-powered muscle cars, and all three have more than 400 horses. Each. This comparo has been a long time coming. Everyone else has already done their armchair evaluations, simply comparing manufacturer figures, snapping a few photos and calling it a day. It took us a spread of six months to be able to drive all three of these direct competitors. We have neither the time nor the resources to pull in all three cars together.
Mitsubishi held its GCC launch event for their all-new 2011 ASX sub-compact crossover at the Dubai Autodrome racetrack a couple of weeks ago. To make things interesting, they even had a few 2010 Nissan Qashqai crossovers at hand for comparison. Incidentally, the Qashqai has been facelifted for 2011, though changes are minimal.
We’ve had in our possession a 2000 BMW Z3 M Roadster since the beginning of 2008. It is as close as limited-income people like us can get to owning an exotic car without selling off kidneys and limbs. But in the past decade, the Z3 was replaced by the Z4, and then came a second-generation Z4 in 2009. So for a few days in 2010, we had in our possession a BMW Z4 sDrive30i. Ironically, the new mid-range Z4 now costs as much as the M Roadster used to cost a decade ago. So is a regular Z4 really at the same level as an M-tuned Z3 of the past?
This urban comparo is about as meaningless as it gets, but for the sake of argument, we’ll give it a go anyway. We’ve had a 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee V8 since late 2007, and this is the first time that we’ve managed to drive another Jeep vehicle since then. Our Grand Cherokee was the epitome of American 4x4s back in its day, with capable off-road and on-road performance, packed with leather, full-time 4WD and a V8. The Wrangler has always been a simplistic offroader, but the latest generation claims to be the most refined and practical Wrangler ever, with options such as four doors and Bluetooth,
The Mini started life in 1959 as a British car for the masses. Built by the company later known as Austin-Rover, the little car was so cheap that Ford dissassembled one and tried to replicate it, but couldn’t do it cost-effectively and gave up. That Mr. Bean original was in production right up till 2000, when BMW bought out the firm and redesigned the Mini as an expensive niche model. But by 2001, there were already a slew of modern affordable cars to take its place, not least of which is the Honda Jazz. Both the Mini and the Jazz are now in their second generation.
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