Is the Four Door Sedan A Thing of the Past?

With the recent announcement that Ford will cut the Taurus, Fusion, and Fiesta from their lineup starting in 2020 to focus more on crossovers and SUV’s, the direction of the automotive industry is becoming clearer. In the last 2 to 3 years, car brands have continued to grow their crossover lineups while transitioning to emerging segments such as the gran coupe and sportback. Despite the negative feedback that Honda has received with the redesigned Accord, it’s apparent that even in failure, automakers are experimenting with new designs that maximizes overall practicality when it comes to four door sedans.

Honda’s risk taking may have been too much for their consumers, but Kia is reaping the benefits of the all new Stinger. In the few short months since its arrival to car dealerships, The Stinger outsold the Audi A5/S5 Sportback and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. This segment has continued to grow which is slowly beginning to influence car brands to start adding sportbacks to their lineups. If the all new Mercedes Benz AMG GT63S isn’t enough proof that gran coupes and sportbacks are the future of four door cars, maybe the Porsche Panamera or Audi RS5 Sportback is.

When did this all begin? It’s a question that many have begun to ask themselves, and it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact timeframe when sedans were slowly getting phased out. This goes far beyond the emergence of crossovers, as 2018 is seeing a resurgence in station wagons. The Buick Regal TourX was one vehicle that certainly raised eyebrows, as it’s the first station wagon in a GM lineup in two decades. Volvo’s V90 and V60 along with Jaguar’s XF S Sportbrake and Mercedes Benz E-Class Wagon are bringing luxury and performance to the segment, and at the same time are offering an alternative to crossovers.

Then there’s the hatchbacks. Toyota’s all new Corolla hatchback impressed many at the New York Auto Show when it was unveiled in late March. Chevrolet added a hatchback variant for the Cruze which is already in dealership’s showrooms. The Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf and GTI are hot sellers, which also offer performance trims to appeal to a younger market. These vehicles add practicality and styling, making compact sedans almost obsolete.

Lastly we have the newest trend and segment, which is the compact crossover. This includes the all new Hyundai Kona and Volvo XC40. They’re bigger than compact sedans, have more cargo room, and are more practical. When it comes to sedans they’re getting hit from all angles, not just from crossovers, so fingers can’t be pointed in one direction.

When taking a step back, it does appear that we’re seeing the slow demise of the traditional four door sedan. However, there are many car brands that haven’t made any plans to go in the same direction as Ford, at least for the time being.

Before getting too somber or overreacting to the changes we’re seeing in the automotive world, there’s been highs and lows throughout the last 30-40 years. Large American cars were replaced by small imports and German luxury vehicles in the 90’s and when the recession hit in 2008, SUV’s were dealt a difficult blow. Now with a stable economy, consumers are gravitating towards crossovers that provide practicality, but are not necessarily the most economical. Everything happens in waves and trends. Station wagons were once cool in the United States and then disappeared for a while. Sedans may be going through the same situation.

If there’s any silver lining at the end of the day, car brands are offering performance crossovers. Twenty years ago consumers would trade in their sports cars for minivans and SUVs when they started having families, which ended the days of having fun behind the wheel. With the Porsche Macan, Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrofolio and Maserati Levante, you can still be cool even at the drop off line at your children’s school.

BMW 3 Series vs BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe – Why the 4 Series Is Better

I’m never one to get caught up in the slight upgrades, face lifts, and body designs when it comes to comparing consumer vehicles, but for the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe I’ve been hooked since it’s arrival to showrooms. In an automotive segment that has seen an increase in competition, the gran coupe/sportback is without a doubt the most interesting market for 2018. BMW made the first move with the 4 Series Gran Coupe, shortly after Audi followed suit with the A5 Sportback, and then Kia comes out of nowhere with the Stinger which has taken the segment by storm, outselling their competition in a few short months.

Despite Audi’s recent unveiling of the all new RS5 Sportback at the New York Auto Show and the Kia Stinger GT which offers a twin turbo V6 engine that gets 365 hp, the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe continues to grab my attention. While it may be outperformed on the track or in a straight line by the quicker S5 Sportback and Stinger GT, the Gran Coupe provides style, luxury, and class that I can’t ignore.

When parking it next to a BMW 3 Series, the minor changes in the front facia are enough to make a big difference. It has the front end of a 4 Series coupe, and when walking around the side of the vehicle, the sloping sportback design cues makes the car look so much better. Recently, a friend received a 430i Gran Coupe loaner vehicle, and no matter what angle we were standing at, the car still looked good.

BMW 430i Gran Coupe
BMW 430i Gran Coupe

Personally, it’s not about the performance or even the style that I find appealing. It’s the fact that the 4 Series is a viable option if the 3 Series isn’t enough car for your tastes. For instance, the 330i sedan and 430i Gran Coupe overlap in price point, and if you’re willing to sacrifice a few optional features then the Gran Coupe comes into play for your next vehicle. For the same price tag, choosing the Gran Coupe will increase cargo volume and overall interior space which gives it a more than entry level luxury feel, and that’s what I believe BMW is trying to achieve here.

There’s no difference in fuel economy or engine size so you’re not sacrificing anything in terms of practicality. Optional features and packages however are a different story. The 430i Gran Coupe offers the Track Handling Package which provides Variable Sports Steering, M Sport Brakes, and Adaptive Sports Suspension, along with the ability to upgrade to 19″ wheels with all-season or performance run-flat tires. Additional safety features includes the optional side and top view cameras to aid in parking. It’s these small things that really make the Gran Coupe more appealing, especially since it’s in the same price range as the 330i. To receive any of these features on the 3 Series, you’ll have to upgrade to the 340i, and with that being said, we would then have to start looking at the 440i Gran Coupe as well.

For car enthusiasts, the 340i would probably be the better option because of the optional 6 speed manual transmission. However, the Gran Coupe would get additional points for luxury and class, and obviously consumers looking for comfort and additional size would gravitate more towards the 4 Series.

When it comes to performance, you’ll get 248 hp with the 430i and 320 hp on the 440i. Again, the Gran Coupe won’t be taking on the S5 Sportback or Stinger GT in a race, but if horsepower isn’t a priority you’ll still have fun behind the wheel of the 4 Series. One thing to remember is that for the time being, the Gran Coupe doesn’t have an M variant, whereas the 4 Series coupe and 3 Series do. BMW isn’t trying to take on Audi or Kia in this particular segment, and instead is focusing more on the comfort and driving experience for consumers.

Overall, what competitors are putting on dealerships’ lots doesn’t effect my thoughts, good or bad pertaining to the 4 Series Gran Coupe. As a daily driver, it offers everything consumers are looking for. Having driven the Audi A5 Sportback recently, I wasn’t overly impressed despite being a fan of the updated interior from a few years ago that was first present on the Q7 and A4.

From a car enthusiast’s perspective, of course there’s better options out there, and in the $50k price range the Kia Stinger GT would certainly be my pick because of what you’re getting for the price. On paper, you’re making sacrifices on both sides, but at this point it comes down to personal preference. No matter what the decision is, there will always be that one person who will say, “But for this price, you could have bought (insert competitor model)”.

At the end of the day it’s not what your gaining or losing, it’s what fits your daily lifestyle. For me, the BMW 430i Gran Coupe provides more than the 330i with additional safety and technology features, it looks great, and has unannounced and subtle performance that will allow me to enjoy my driving experience behind the wheel.

The 2018 New England International Auto Show

This past weekend was the New England International Auto Show in Boston, with this year featuring a Pagani Huayra, Porsche 918, Lamborghini Aventador SV, Bugatti Veyron, the completely re-designed Aston Martin Vantage, and the Porsche 911 GT2 RS!

Here’s the video from Thursday’s Press Day, where we got to take an exclusive look inside the GT2 RS and check out some of the brand new cars that are arriving in dealership showrooms this year!

Look forward to reviews coming this year on some of the cars in this video. The Toyota Camry XSE was very impressive, as it’s two-toned exterior and red interior certainly grabbed attention. Also the all new Buick Regal TourX made it’s Boston debut, which comes with 250 hp standard.

2018 Volvo S60 T5 Dynamic – The Perfect Daily Driver

In 2017, car buyers have plenty of options to choose from. They can purchase a sedan, crossover, full sized SUV, or hatchback, but it gets even more difficult when you narrow it down to a specific category within the automotive market. For luxury sedans, consumers can go with BMW, Audi, Mercedes Benz, Alfa Romeo, Lexus, Acura, and Jaguar, but for the person who wants a compromise between safety, luxury, and performance, the Volvo S60 is the ideal car that suits the needs of many Americans.

Monday I got to spend time with a 2018 S60 T5 Dynamic, courtesy of Volvo Village in Danvers, Massachusetts. If you’re familiar with the second generation S60, you know that over time its appearance has become more aggressive and sporty. Starting with the 2017 model year, the Dynamic trim was introduced, and with that brought a slight change as the 2018 I got to review had the 18″ Tucan Diamond Cut Black Alloy wheels that come standard.

Volvo has integrated sporty qualities to compliment the luxurious aspect on the S60 by providing sport seats standard that will literally hug you while you’re driving. Combined with the fact that they’re leather and heated, no matter what time of year or the weather, your experience behind the wheel will be an enjoyable and comfortable one. Adding on to the luxury appeal for the interior, you get a Harman/Kardon premium sound system, a navigation system, dual zone climate control, and a leather wrapped steering wheel.

Passengers in the back will be greeted with very comfortable and supportive bench seats that will keep them in place, and give them good leg room. They’ll have rear cup holders that fold down from the center seat, along with a storage compartment that can fit smartphones and other small items.

When it comes to Volvo, safety is the number one priority. Blind Spot Information System, Brake assist, Rear Park Assist Sensors, Rear Park Assist Camera, and anti-whiplash front head restraints highlight the safety features on the S60.

For performance, you’ll get a turbocharged 4 cylinder engine with 240 hp and 258 lb feet of torque. An 8 speed automatic transmission w/Geartronic comes standard, but paddle shifters are optional. When it comes to fuel economy, you can expect to receive 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Volvo also offers two drivetrain variants on the S60, FWD and AWD, with front wheel drive getting slightly better gas mileage.

The S60 I got to review was the base AWD trim with the heated front seats and steering wheel package. One of the options that Volvo offers include: the $1000 Sports Package that gets you paddle shifters, sports chassis, electric power steering personalization, and 19″ Portia Diamond Cut Alloy Wheels. The Technology and Vision packages offer additional safety features, such as Collision Warning w/ Full Auto Brake & Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, Adaptive Cruise Control w/ Queue Assist, Lane Keeping Aid, and Driver Alert Control to name a few.

Overall the 2018 Volvo S60 T5 Dynamic is a great daily driver. You get safety, luxury, and performance, along with AWD as an option. The MSRP of the S60 I reviewed is $41k, but the front wheel drive variants start around $34k. It’s reasonably priced, making the S60 a serious competitor to the BMW 3 Series and others in its class. Volvo has made strides against their German counterparts over the past few years, and with their resurgence in the luxury market, Volvo can no longer be overlooked.

This Is What Being A Car Enthusiast Is All About

The final days of summer are upon us, which means the car season up here in Boston is slowly coming to a close. There’s only a handful of weeks remaining where the weather is conducive for car meets and Cars & Coffees, as the cold and snow aren’t too far away. With the impending end to an awesome car season looming in the back of our minds, it doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun and enjoy spending time with fellow car enthusiasts. On a late Saturday afternoon, a meet was organized at the best spot in Boston to take pictures and to just get away from the crowds at car events. This meet, while short lived due to the police kicking us out, turned out to be one of the best nights this summer.

Lamborghini Huracan Between to Corvettes
Lamborghini Huracan Between to Corvettes

Near the waterfront of the Boston harbor the fog rolling in off the water, combined with the industrial buildings and loading terminals, created an atmosphere that would have been expected on the set of a Fast & Furious movie. As the sun began to set, cars started arriving, including two Lamborghini Huracans, a Porsche 911 GT3, a McLaren 570S, C6 and C7 Chevrolet Corvettes, a Maserati Gran Turismo, and small groups of BMWs, Audis, and JDM cars. Familiar faces arriving with each car made this car meet a great time to just hang out and talk with friends. That’s what the car community is all about.

Long Beach Blue BMW M2
Long Beach Blue BMW M2

Chevrolet Corvette C7

Audi Crew
Audi Crew
Lamborghini Huracan
Lamborghini Huracan

To many non-car enthusiasts, excessive revving, and doing burnouts and donuts in empty parking lots are usually what they associate with when they think of late afternoon or evening car meets. That can’t be further from the truth or reality. When you have a group of great individuals who love cars and want to share their passion with fellow car enthusiasts, meets in exclusive locations tend to be the best. For about two hours we took photos, videos, talked, and met up with friends before the meet was ultimately shut down. Despite the early end, it was a great evening nonetheless.

I’m so thankful to be part of a community with awesome people that make late summer evenings fun. This is what being a car enthusiast is all about, and why our community is so close-knit. The Boston car scene may not be as big as Los Angeles, Miami, or Texas, but it’s the car owners and people that make us the best car community in the country.

Porsche 911 GT3
Porsche 911 GT3
Nissan GTR
Nissan GTR
McLaren 570S
McLaren 570S
Porsche 911 Turbo
Porsche 911 Turbo

Upcoming Car Events and Cars & Coffees For September In Boston

Here’s the list of upcoming car events and Cars & Coffees for the month of September. If you know of any other large car events this month, comment below and I’ll add them to the list.

McLaren Boston
McLaren Boston
Herb Chambers C&C
Herb Chambers C&C
Seacoast Cars and Coffee
Seacoast Cars and Coffee

September 10th is Seacoast Cars & Coffee up in Portsmouth, NH.

For more information you can visit their website:
Seacoast Cars & Coffee Website

You can also check out their Facebook Page:
Seacoast Cars & Coffee Facebook Page

There’s three car events this month at Larz Anderson Auto Museum.

Larz Anderson Car Events September
Larz Anderson Car Events September
The Boston Cup
The Boston Cup
NorthEast Classic
NorthEast Classic

At Gilette Stadium in Foxborough, there’s Bass Pro Shops Cruise Night on Thursday nights from 4-8pm. This is a bi-weekly event that usually gets a turnout between 1000 and 2000 cars. Here are the two upcoming cruise nights.

Bass Pro Shops Cruise Night
Bass Pro Shops Cruise Night

As always, I’ll continue to update this article if any large car events pop up within the next few days and weeks.

McLaren F1, McLaren 720S, and V12 Zagato – All In One Weekend

The car season in Boston has already reached the halfway mark, and to transition into the second half of the season July 8th and 9th certainly didn’t disappoint. So far this season we’ve seen two Ferrari 488 GTBs, at least three Porsche 911Rs, and now in one weekend we got the opportunity to see the McLaren F1, the new McLaren 720S, and the Aston Martin V12 Zagato. Here are some of the photos from this past weekend.

The Spy Shots of the McLaren 720S

McLaren 720S
McLaren 720S delivered to McLaren Boston
McLaren 720S
McLaren 720S

At McLaren Boston Cars & Coffee, we were greeted by the 720S which was being delivered to the dealership at the same time as the event was coming to an end. Unfortunately, the covers weren’t taken off, but thanks to a few exposed parts of the car, this 720S is Pearl Orange. This makes it one of the first to land in the United States.

Herb Chambers’ McLaren F1

McLaren F1
McLaren F1
McLaren F1
McLaren F1
McLaren F1
McLaren F1
McLaren F1
McLaren F1

Sadly, this will be the last time we see this F1 as it will be auctioned off later this year. The good news however, is that it will be replaced by the new Mercedes Benz AMG Project One hypercar.

The 2013 Aston Martin V12 Zagato

Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Aston Martin V12 Zagato

After McLaren Boston Cars & Coffee, I had to stop by and check out the Aston Martin V12 Zagato at Aston Martin of New England. This car is very rare, as only 61 were made worldwide and about six are in the United States.

This was by far the best weekend so far this car season, and hopefully bigger and better things are to come before the winter arrives.

Upcoming Car Events and Cars & Coffees For June in Boston

Here’s the list of upcoming car events and Cars & Coffees for the month of June. If you know of any other large car events this month, comment below and I’ll add them to the list.

McLaren Boston
McLaren Boston
Herb Chambers C&C
Herb Chambers C&C
Boston Cars & Coffee
Boston Cars and Coffee at Larz Anderson

In addition to Boston Cars & Coffee at Larz Anderson, there’s special events held at the museum each weekend. Here’s the four car events at Larz for the month of June.

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 10.43.59 AM

It’s an hour drive from Boston, but up in Portsmouth, New Hampshire there’s Seacoast Cars & Coffee on June 4th

Seacoast Cars and Coffee
Seacoast Cars and Coffee

For more information you can visit their website: http://www.seacoastcarsandcoffee.com

You can also check out their Facebook Page: Seacoast Cars & Coffee Facebook Page

As always, I’ll continue to update this article if any large car events pop up within the next few days and weeks.

Upcoming Car Events and Cars & Coffees For April and May in Boston

Car season has officially begun in the Boston area! Here are the upcoming events in and around Boston for April and May!

Art of the Automobile
Art of the Automobile
McLaren Boston
McLaren Boston
Herb Chambers C&C
Herb Chambers C&C
Mercedes Benz of Burlington
Mercedes Benz of Burlington
Aston Martin of New England
Aston Martin of New England

In addition to these events, there’s also Boston Cars & Coffee held at Larz Anderson Auto Museum on May 20th!

The Larz Anderson lawn event schedule for 2017 can be found here: Larz Anderson Lawn Events 2017

Car season 2017 in Boston is going to be a great year! I’ll continue to update this article if anymore large car events pop up

Volvo S40 T5 – The Perfect Car For The Driver Who Wants A Manual

In the car community, having a car with a stick or being capable of driving a manual car, is an added bonus to show your knowledge and legitimacy as a car enthusiast. Often we discuss what car with a manual transmission would be perfect to learn and or own. The Mazda Miata is always brought up for many reasons, including the fact that it’s essentially a street legal go-kart which gives drivers the sensation of being connected to the road. There are many other candidates, but one that is never mentioned nor given credit as being a fun car is the Volvo S40 T5.

I know what you’re thinking, but much like the C30, the S40 can be fun to drive, and in fact could be the perfect car to learn how to drive a stick. Many S40 owners complain about the close proximity between the brake and gas pedals, as you’ll most likely accidentally tap on of them. This dilemma actually brings up the perfect opportunity to start heel-toeing, which will make you a better driver and help train you to shift through the gears smoother. The S40 T5 has other benefits as well, including performance and modification capabilities.

With a turbocharged 5 cylinder engine producing around 227 horsepower, you’re going to have a decent car right off the bat. It won’t beat a fully stock MazdaSpeed3 but you’ll have more horsepower than a stock Volkswagen GTI. This now leads up to modifications, and here are just a few S40s that are out there where the owners brought the Swedish sedan to the next level.

You can also go with body kits from Heico to add a more sporty appeal to the S40

volvo_new_03

Overall the S40 is a great car to start out with, whether to daily drive or learn how to drive a manual. It’s a safe car, the interior is cozy, and the seats are absolutely comfortable. Perfect for the driver who also wants to step into the entry level luxury segment. Despite not being a BMW, Audi, or Mercedes Benz, it’s definitely an alternative if you don’t want to buy a Japanese car, but with that does come costs at the repair shop.

Right now you can find S40 T5s around $5k – $6k. If you’re lucky enough to stumble upon an S40 T5 R-Design don’t pass it up. Not only are they rare to come by these days, but you get some added goodies in terms of aesthetics. They’re also holding their value slightly better and can be purchased for around $12k.

Most importantly, you’ll have a novelty car. Not many S40 T5’s are out there on the roads, let alone a modified one. It’s safe to say that at a local car meet, you’ll have the only S40, but it will be unique which just adds to the appeal and the whole package of owning one.