We've gotten our hands on a ton of new cars for the 2018 model year. Here's a roundup of all the reviews, road tests, and first drives we've done so far.
On the road you'll immediately notice one thing: This car talks to you. I don't mean that it literally says words. I also don't mean that the steering is communicative by modern standards. I mean it talks. The hydraulic rack is inch-precise and relays information quickly and accurately. It's not darty or nervous. An action by your hands produces an immediate, expected reaction from the front end.
That might not sound like a monumental achievement or even something worth celebrating, but consider the moment: There are currently so few new cars on the road that are both immediate and communicative, this deserves applause. And it's not only the steering. The brakes, the gearbox, the clutch, they all have the same desire to tell you what they're up to, like a platoon giving key information to a lieutenant.
Check out the rest of our Evora GT430 test here.
Half the point of an M5 is the ability to A) run 150 mph all day long with no pain or undue stress, B) fit car seats or two grown adults in the back, C) look like you’re a respectable citizen, and D) feel like you’re driving around in a quiet supercar. The other half is some slidey-funky-schnitzel drifts. With the nannies off, this car does that. It even does tidy little side-slips in all-wheel-drive Sport mode, with stability control on. You just grab the car by the scruff, and goofy things happen.
You have to wonder how many customers will take advantage of that. The truth, of course, is that it barely matters. Cars like this sell on possibility and fantasy. What normal person finds the limits of a 600-hp sedan with 10.5-inch-wide rear tires? What normal person even goes looking? If you track an F90 M5, you are a rare dude. If you track the car and slide it enough to catch bugs on the side windows, you’re even more rare. And good for you. Good for BMW for making this happen.
Read our entire M5 first drive right over here.
Here's how badly the Bugatti Chiron messes with your mind: I just did 217mph on an ordinary Portuguese highway in daytime traffic and came home slightly disappointed that I didn't go faster.
We could have done 236mph if we'd waited until the next off-ramp, no question. That's the car's electronically limited top speed in its normal driving setup. Insert a second key down between the driver's seat and the rocker panel and the ride height and spoilers reconfigure themselves in a low drag mode that subs stability for the ability to slip through the air, and the speed limiter is raised to 261mph (420kmh). What'll it do without that limiter? We'll have to wait until next year to find out when Bugatti conducts a maximum attack run at VW's Ehra Lessien test track, but at least 280mph seems likely.
Check out the rest of our Chiron drive right here.
The Huracan was a big step in the right direction. It looks like a greatest-hits album of every great mid-engined Lambo to date, it handles urban traffic as well as a BMW M3, and it performs at a very high level both in a straight line and around a road course. Many autowriters, your humble author included, prefer it to the Ferrari 488GTB, particularly in LP580-2 RWD form. Still, there’s some room for improvement in two critical areas: raw racetrack speed and sheer outrageousness.
Enter the Huracan Performante. Ten seconds spent looking at the thing will confirm that it’s got a full Miura SV’s worth of mojo. The base Huracan’s sleek and clean shape has been over-festooned with Super Trofeo-style aero hardware rendered in “Forged Composites,” a kinda-new material best understood as carbon fiber that has been sliced, diced, suspended in resin, then pressure-stamped. Of particular interest is the rear wing, which as part of the ALA computer-aero system is capable of applying uneven aerodynamic pressure to the car to help it get through high-speed corners.
Continue reading our thoughts on the Performante right here.
There’s more deliberate atavism on offer here than just a clutch pedal. On track, this GT3 exhibits much of the old bobbing-nose, loaded-tail behavior that characterized fast air-cooled Nine Elevens but which was largely smothered in the early 991-generation cars. It was the only one of our test cars to feel genuinely nervous on NCM Motorsports Park’s back straight and it was the only one that would occasionally hunt the front wheels around under braking. These are behaviors straight out of the greatest-hits catalog and they reinforce the idea that the manual GT3 is aimed at people who have considerable pre-existing experience with the Porsche brand.
See here for our entire review of the manual-transmission GT3.
How it drives is the most striking part of the Panamera. You expect it to be good. You don't expect it to be this good. This Panamera Turbo, which has no hybrid tech on board whatsoever, weighs in at approximately 4,400 pounds. That is not light. It's the sort of weight that'd make you expect the Panamera to be relaxing on the highway but floaty and unresponsive in corners.
As expected, it is relaxing on the highway; the ideal GT car. You can gobble up hours at high speed effortlessly. A road with corners is where you need to drive it, because it masks its heft so well that it defies physics. This is something Porsche knows how to hide thanks to supercar projects like the 918 Spyder.
Read the rest of our first drive review for the Panamera Turbo over here.
The ZL1 1LE combines the freight-train power of the old ZL1 with the track-focused running gear of the Z/28. The 300-pound-lighter Alpha platform displays its racetrack pedigree unashamedly whether it’s underpinning a rental-rat V6 Camaro or an F-117-folded-sheetmetal ATS-V. Add in the gloss-black wings-and-splitter aero package that made our white test example look like an anime Stormtrooper, and the result is a car that attacks NCM Motorsports Park with enough ferocious ability to make you think that the “C” in “NCM” stands for “Camaro,” not “Corvette."
Truth is, the 650-horsepower, 6.2-liter pushrod V8 finds a much happier home here than it does in the Corvette Z06. The Camaro may have to cut a much larger hole in the wind, even with the so-called “flowtie” hollow Chevy emblem in the gaping grille, but the same bluff front that costs the ZL1 several MPH down the main straight of our test track also makes cooling the engine a much simpler matter.
Check out our entire write-up on the ZL1 1LE right here.
The annoying dual-screen solution of previous Accords disappears in favor of a bright tablet-style central screen with real moving buttons on both sides for major functions and knobs for both volume and tuning. Thankfully, the HVAC controls remain separate. Sound quality from the multi-speaker infotainment system is better than adequate, although this is one area where Honda is clearing a deliberate gap between the Accord and the recently revamped TLX.
Grab the oversized plastichrome door handle and take a seat; you’ll be greeted by a charming combination of analog speedometer needle and full TFT-screen instrumentation. There’s no attempt to blow the buyer’s mind with elaborate startup screens or animations, but the information is presented in a clear and usable manner that matches the old double-barrel analog setup for visibility, even under conditions of direct sun.
Head on over here to dive into our full in-depth review of the newest Accord.
Who'd have believed, even 15 years ago, that a supercar this powerful could be so forgiving? Driving the 720 hard feels entirely natural from the first corner as you push to the front tire's limits, feel the wheel lighten as you brush the brakes, then ease back on the gas to gently load up the rear tires. The balance is delicious, the way you can tease it by massaging the gas pedal, absolutely intuitive. It has that purity in its agility that you only get from being ruthless about mass.
Head on over here to read our full first drive review of the 720S.
The GT R changes the game, which was one of the reasons we invited it to compete in this year’s PCOTY test. It would be an understatement to say that we were not disappointed. This is the first variant of the slimmed-down second-generation AMG coupe to truly channel the spirit of its gonzo gullwing predecessor, the almighty SLS Black Series. The new Panamericana slotted grille, flared fenders, and massive aero appendages might not quite equal the turret-topped visual drama of that old naturally-aspirated super-Benz, but it’s not that far off–and did we mention that the base price of $157,995 is about a hundred grand less?
This is what you lose with a GT R compared to an SLS Black: gullwing doors, a certain insane street presence, the massive charm of the AMG “6.3” in its most extreme state of prep and tune. This is what you do not lose: raw pace on a racetrack. The matte-green missile sets a new bar for that, trust us.
Check out the rest of our thoughts on the GT R right here.
Easing out into the narrow, sinewy streets of Lucerne, Switzerland, the Rolls is poised and competent. This is a sizeable machine—nearly 19 feet end-to-end (and nine inches longer if you spring for the extended wheelbase) and wide enough to shade the lane lines on tight bends. But with the benefit of rear-wheel steering, the big Rolls pivots nicely, never feeling ponderous.
Out on the highway, the Phantom rolls along with bullet-train smoothness. The steering wheel is huge and thin-rimmed, pizza-crust dimensions cribbed from the days when a large-diameter wheel meant less arm fatigue for your chauffeur. The theory still works. You guide the Phantom along with tiny wrist and elbow adjustments, the variable-ratio steering light, precise and surprisingly feelsome.
Take a look at our full in-depth review of the new Phantom here.
It's the sense of control that comes through the clearest on the M550i. That's due in large part to the revamped ZF 8-speed Steptronic transmission, which, in this application, feels better to the dual-clutch gearboxes, matched with the V8. Launching from a stop delivers a boost of controllable but fierce acceleration, with shifts banged off both quickly and disturbingly smoothly. Puttering through small towns and villages, the M550i feels like any other 5. But as soon as the last house whizzes by, a drop of the throttle in third gear elicits a wave of torque starting at 1,800 RPM and pulling hard past five grand. The engine is a peach, revving freely up to 7k and providing plenty of motivation for the 4,400-pound sedan, but it's the set-it-and-forget-it transmission that's shockingly impressive. There are paddles, and it takes less than one hand to count the number of times I used them.
Take a look at our full first drive review here.
This h-but-not-pillowy ride suits the rest of the V90 Cross Country's character really well. I always thought the XC90 and S90 were harsher than they needed to be, given that they're not sporty, and the Cross Country addresses this.
The V90 Cross Country handled itself well on windy dirt roads not too far from Phoenix as well. These roads weren't anything that a Subaru Outback couldn't handle, but the soft suspension was very much welcome when the surface got rocky. Come to think of it, the Outback is an interesting comparison for the V90 Cross Country–really, the Volvo is just a much more luxurious version of the Subaru.
Go here to read our entire Cross Country off-road adventure.
The whole ensemble is ridiculous. Even without a compound-warming burnout, those fat sticky tires grab every pebble and piece of roadway grit, flinging it all against the underside of the un-upholstered trunk to clatter like marbles in a coffee can. You leave twin gray streaks on the pavement with every 40 roll, supercharger whooping the world's angriest slide-whistle solo as you rocket into the next time zone. The exhaust note roars just a few decibels beyond aggressive, resonating through the cabin unimpeded by the missing rear seat. You can see why Dodge sells this as a quarter-mile car—driven any further, you'd risk massive fatigue, mostly in your smile muscles.
Continue reading our entire first drive review of the the Demon here.
Controlled and agile, with huge reserves of front-end grip from its 19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires, the rear-wheel-drive Stinger GT didn’t feel remotely out of its depth at the Ring. Only the worst of the Nordschleife’s horrific dips that cause extreme compression in every car’s suspension system questioned the Stinger’s resolve and body control. The steering feels natural, and the long, 114.4-inch wheelbase, coupled with a rear-driver’s limited-slip differential, makes neat little tail slides easy to hold.
Read how the Stinger handled the Nurburgring in our first drive here.
Next to the GT350’s flat-plane 5.2 liter V-8, the GT’s cross-plane 5.0 is an altogether mellower engine. From idle to redline there’s never any harshness, just the familiar rumbles and murmurs of a traditional V-8. A new active exhaust system is optional ($895) and has four settings to tailor its personality to your mood. In Quiet mode the exhaust still belts out the hits, but from behind the wheel you hear the engine up front more so than behind. Each successive step from Normal to Sport to Track twists the volume knob and makes the 5.0 more obnoxious or delightful depending on your point of view. Ford has even put in a Quiet Start feature that keeps the engine from waking the neighborhood when you fire up your Mustang up at 6 AM.
Read about all our thoughts from behind the wheel of the newly refreshed Mustang over here.
Toggling between Sport and the occasional Sport Plus, I send the TT surging along the back roads. Even on winter tires, this is a car with a lot of grip. I see how you'd soon come to rely on that traction. Little surprise that this front-engine car doesn't pivot at the hips like the mid-engine Porsche Cayman, its obvious competitor, but the Audi intoxicates with sound and grip. The steering is also very good. The previous generation's variable steering, even in Sport, left the wheel featherlight in switchback turns. This time the strategy is different. When switched into Sport, the 14.0:1 ratio is reduced to 12.0:1 but otherwise remains constant. So every steering wheel input feels exactly like the last. Wonderful.
We did an in-depth review of the new TT, which you can read here.
Jeep quotes a 3.5-second zero to 60 time for the Trackhawk, a figure that puts the 5350-lb five-seat SUV neck and neck with a Dodge Viper. I get the feeling Jeep's official number is a touch conservative—on multiple acceleration runs using Launch Control, I was able to cut a 3.3-second sprint to 60 (as measured by the car's Performance Pages dashboard app). Conditions were textbook ideal: The ambient temperature was cool and I was running on the brand-new pavement of Club Motorsport's long straightaway. But there was no magic touch, no delicate finesse required: Just mash the brake and pin the throttle as Launch Control instructs, then drop the brake and let the all-wheel drive system find the traction for you.
Read six things we learned driving the new Trackhawk right here.
If the regular Panamera Turbo has a twin-turbocharged freight train under the hood, then this thing gets a warp drive. The internal combustion part is the same: a 4.0L twin-turbo V8 with square bore and stroke that redlines at 6800 rpm. It produces 550 hp from 5750-6000 rpm, and 568 lb-ft of torque from 1960-4500 rpm.
Now add in a jolt of electricity. The electric motor, powered by a 14 kWh lithium-ion battery, cranks out 136 hp at 2800 rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque from 100-2300 rpm. Total power output is a 680 hp at just below 6000 rpm, and 626 lb-ft from 1400-5500 rpm.
Head on over here to check out our track test of the new top-range Porsche four-door.
Despite an uninspired powertrain, the S5 Sportback delivers. The electronic dampers are well-judged, even in the sportiest setting. Audi’s venerated quattro all-wheel drive system, employing a 40/60 front-rear power split via mechanical center differential, comes standard. On-throttle stability is excellent mid-corner, and the 245-section summer performance front tires, courtesy of Continental, offer huge turn-in bite. The steering isn’t much for feedback, but it’s direct enough and, mercifully, leaves off the silly artificial weight common to modern German racks.
Also, the brakes are tremendous. Audi estimates the S5 Sportback’s 60-0 mph stopping distance is “sub-110 feet,” on par with the last Porsche 911 Carrera 4S this magazine tested. That seems believable, and the robust front hardware (six-piston fixed calipers, 13.8-inch vented rotors) held up to repeated, back-to-back panic stops and considerable backroad pounding. These stoppers are circuit-ready.
Check out our thoughts on the first US-bound Sportback right here.
The E400 doesn't ask much of you. You might think this is a bad thing, but it isn't. Remember, the E400 isn't an AMG of any sort, you aren't bombing backroads or 'winning' the track day, not even close. You're wafting along in comfort, Yacht Rock playing on the stereo both literally and figuratively.
Steering is light and power delivery from the 3.0, twin-turbo, 329 horsepower V6 is Michael McDonald-era Doobie Brothers levels of smooth. The suspension is shockingly well tuned, with a level of ride comfort that you'd expect from something costing twice as much... like the S-Class coupe. It's also well controlled, so you aren't going to be bouncing like you would in a Town Car with blown shocks.
We take the E-Class Coupe through a drive of NYC. Read our full first drive here.
The engine is the star of the show, obviously. If the GT3 makes you work for shove, nothing below 6500 rpm or so, the GT2 has grunt always. Explosively. Everywhere. It madhouses its way to the horizon, finds it, and then madhouses its way wherever the hell else you point it.
Or at least, it feels that way for the first few laps. Then you realize that the engine really needs to be revved to go from Quick as Hell to Obscenely, Outlandishly Fast. So you start revving it more, maybe a gear lower here and there. At which point the back tires move around on exit throttle, little dabby slides. No straight is ever long enough, as with most supercars. None of what happens is freakish or surprising. There’s a noticeable, if modest amount of turbo lag in the bottom third of the tach, but there’s so much torque off-boost, it’s hard to care. The torque hit is addictive, just a wall of instant smack aimed at the small of your back. Compounding, instant, smack.
Check out all of our thoughts on Porsche's newest most powerful 911 here.
The brakes, carbon-ceramics from Brembo, lack initial bite but work like a parachute when stomped; braking distance from 62 mph is a claimed 104 feet, besting the last 911 GT3 RS this magazine tested. As ever, Ferrari’s magnetic dampers are forgiving, particularly in the dedicated rough road setting. The gearbox, seamless around town, turns feral in more aggressive drive modes. It changes up 30 percent faster, and down 40 percent faster, than in the F12. Think: nailgun.
That much is clear on the road. Around Fiorano, the chassis defies logic, reason, physics. Nothing this big should be this agile, or turn this well. The wider front tire, now 275-section, and stiffer spring rates, inherited from the special-edition F12 tdf, help nudge cornering speeds into hypercar territory. That pace makes you think twice about turning traction control off. But the Superfast rotates so sweetly, so progressively, that third-gear slides seem manageable.
Take a look at our entire write-up of the Superfast over here.
Everything pivots off the rear axle. Proper weight transfer is still a key to getting the best out of a 911, even the GTS, which feels less obviously rear engined. You have to get weight on the nose and manage it to make it turn. On corner exit, tromp on the throttle, send the weight to the rear, and power out. When you figure it out, it's still magic and has a bucketload of pace over a back road.
It also responds to you if you aren't going flat out. The crackles of the exhaust and the feel of the steering don't change if you're going the speed limit or double the speed limit. You still feel the road, you still notice it pivoting behind you, the front end still feels light if the nose isn't loaded.
Read up on the gem of the turbocharged 911 range right here.
Like all AMG GTs, the GT C uses a super-quick hydraulic steering rack that offers a nice amount of information about surface changes and mid-corner bumps. That said, it isn't the most feelsome rack in existence. I found that it's a little vague off-center too, and the wheel doesn't want to self-center. Believe me, you get used to this, and the steering feel gets better the faster you go.
But that speaks to my main issue with the GT C—like the GT R, the car really only starts to come alive once you're going blindingly fast. Now don't get me wrong, the GT C's engine, transmission, and crisp handling are enjoyable at any speed, but you get the sense that the car is only starting to have fun when you're really working it. This problem isn't as pronounced as it is with the GT R, but you notice it. If you owned a GT C, you'd have to either take it to a track, or live in Germany to see what it can do legally.
Continue reading our road test of the GT C here.
On the road, the ZR2 doesn’t drive like a truck. Really. Despite the Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac off-road tires, jacked-up ride height and live rear axle with leaf springs, there’s no indication from behind the wheel this thing is an honest-to-goodness body-on-frame vehicle. There’s no significant wind noise, no shudder when you hit big bumps, and the steering is impressively car-like. A lot of that has to do with the ZR2's super-advanced Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve dampers (or DSSV). Built by Multimatic, the Canadian motorsports outfit that constructs the Ford GT, the DSSV dampers mechanically alter the flow of the hydraulic fluid within them to adapt the compression and rebound damping on the fly. (This type of damper design has been used in Formula 1, Le Mans, and CART race cars, along with the Aston Martin One-77, Ford GT and Chevy Camaro ZL1 1LE.) On the ZR2, the DSSV units offers six different damping curves on the front axle, and four at the rear, rather than just one damping profile all-around like a traditional damper. They also look frickin’ sweet.
Continue reading our rally off-road test of the ZR2 here.
After more than 100 laps of the two tracks, the brake pads were less than half worn and the tires looked ready for a cross-country drive. This isn’t a cheap car to buy—you'll need to bring close to $120,000 if you want all the good stuff—but it is frugal to operate over the long haul. It’s also a sensual and aesthetic pleasure, the likes of which we haven’t really seen in the sports-car game since Porsche took the aircooled 911 out behind the shed at Weissach and shot it. Everything you touch feels first-rate; there’s little to improve in the way it goes down the road. Or the track.
Continue reading our torture test of the Evora 400 here.
That weird stick-axle shiver? Gone. The queasy body roll? Eliminated. Where the last-gen Rubicon was punishing on rough pavement, the new one is admirably compliant. The steering, a recirculating-ball setup with electro-hydraulic assist, is purposefully mushy at small angles, to cushion the dartiness out of this short-wheelbase barn at highway speed. At anything beyond a lane change, though, the wheel is firm and communicative. You still have to steer your way through panic braking—the nose pitches so far down, you'll worry about scraping the paint off the front bumper—and you wouldn't want to slalom the Rubicon. But this is the first off-road Wrangler that feels perfectly happy bounding down a winding country highway.
Continue reading about our first drive of the Wrangler here.
If you're looking for a midsize SUV that prioritizes performance above and beyond everything else, nothing touches the Stelvio Quadrifoglio. Alfa brought along a Porsche Macan Turbo, the closest German rival, to the launch event. Compared to the Alfa, every one of the Porsche's controls feels like it's filtered through 50 gallons of pudding. Even in its most aggressive drivetrain and chassis settings, the Macan Turbo was quieter, softer-sprung, and slower to accelerate than the Quadrifoglio. Its paddle shifters hide behind the steering wheel spokes like they're bashful; you can hurtle down the highway zig-zagging the wheel like a 1950s TV actor without changing the car's direction.
Continue reading our track test of the 505-horsepower Stelvio here.
The engine isn't the big part here–with 360 horsepower, it's right between the Macan S and Turbo–it's the chassis. With standard PASM and air suspension, it's about a half inch lower and a bit firmer than the regular car. Throw in the torque vectoring, and the GTS become the sportiest pick of the Macan range with neutral handling, actual steering feel (for an SUV), and the ability to more than keep up with anything on a back road.
The regular Macan seems like you bought a Porsche because you just wanted the badge. The Macan Turbo seems like you're showing off. But the Macan GTS seems like the version for someone who can only have one car and needs it to do everything.
Keep reading about the Macan GTS here.