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Test Drive: Turning It up to ‘11’

In “This Is Spinal Tap,” a character brags that their amplifiers go to “11” instead of just 10. That same philosophy applies to cars when automakers take performance to the next level.

Test Drive: Honda Civic Type R

(Photo: Honda)

If you’re going to drive a small high-performance car, outlandish spoilers and bulbous bodywork just go with the territory. Such is the case with the Honda Civic Type R.

This top-of-the-line variant of the familiar Civic hatchback has what may be the biggest, most convoluted rear wing ever put on a production car. Which strikes me as somehow fitting, as with a 306-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder motor under the hood, this baby can really fly.

Acceleration is abundant in any of the six-speed manual transmission’s gears (sorry, not sorry: no automatic is offered), and faster speeds arrive almost without effort. Steering is precise, and the powerful red Brembo disc brakes produce “right now” stopping power.

One other thing you may expect from a performance-oriented model is rough ride quality – and you’ll get it in Sport mode. Flip the console-mounted switch to Comfort, however, and the Type R becomes a livable daily driver. Handling is always above reproach.

Test Drive: Toyota GR Supra

In this life, things are not always what they seem. Sometimes, like in the case of the all-new Toyota GR Supra, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

You see, this fifth-generation of Toyota’s super coupe is actually a Japanese re-engineered version of BMW’s latest Z4 convertible. That means lots of German hardware, including its gutsy 382-horsepower, turbocharged 3.0-liter engine (a new base model for 2021 comes with a 255-horsepower turbo 2.0-liter four cylinder).

One downside to this technology transfer is the slightly confounding iDrive infotainment system that uses a large console-mounted knob to control everything from navigation to the radio station.

This car is both uniquely handsome and deceptively quick. The top model’s adaptive suspension delivers a smooth ride that contributes to this effect, as does the spot-on steering.

Add a high-quality interior and the latest tech features and you have a very modern muscle car.

Looking for a new ride? Check out more car reviews at

  • Robert A.

    You missed a comparably priced car with better acceleration and handling characteristics: Tesla’s Model X. Along with its sister SUV, the Model Y, these vehicles offer all that gasoline powered cars do, with (much) lower maintenance and fuel costs. And low or no emissions depending on your power source. After 50 years of owning (and working on) BMWs and Volvos, I welcome you to take all those pistons, gear shifts and fumes to the junkyard, where they belong; none of it is cool, or necessary, any more.


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