Aug 312012
 

Every so often a car comes around that totally changes the direction of the future landscape in car styling. We recently saw this with the introduction of the 2011 Hyundai Sonata. It totally changed how we look at the $20k sedan and put the other car makers on alert that edgy styling and family sedans can be synonymous. This week’s Car of the Week is also one of these cars. For this week’s choice, I decided to take a look back at the sport touring coupes available in the 2003 model year. 2003 first sticks out for me because of my 2003 Acura CL Type-S, but if  you look at a slide show of all the coupes available in that model year, you notice that one coupe in particular stands out. This week’s Car of the Week is:

2003 Infiniti G35 Coupe

Why?

Image courtesy of CarandDriver.com

The introduction of the Infiniti G35 Coupe meant the introduction of a sport touring coupe that departed from the “long” coupe styling that we had long been accustomed to (Oops, did I do that?!) You know the styling I’m talking about, long wheelbase, long doors and a long trunk. Then came the G35. Once you took a look at it, you thought you were looking at a straight up sports car (or was that only me?) The move to the shorter body length, which Nissan calls its “Front Midship” platform, changed how the engine and other components would be located within the car. With all of this done it still has usable rear seats and some trunk room. The trunk is compromised a bit when compared with a “long” coupe at 7.8 cu. ft. vs. the Acura CL’s 13.6 cu. ft., but I’ll make that sacrifice any day for the sleek styling of the G35.

About the Car

The 2003 Infiniti G35 Coupe was available with only engine, the legendary, music-to-our-ears Nissan VQ35. There are different versions of the VQ35 offered among the various Nissan/Infiniti models, but the one used in the G35 generates 280 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. The G35 Coupe was available in either automatic or manual transmission and only in a rear wheel drive configuration. The “Front Midship” platform provided for improved handling through better front to back weight distribution.

The 2003 Infiniti G35 Coupe clearly changed how coupes were going to be styled going forward. Cars like the Audi A5 and Honda Accord Coupe have clearly followed suit. It took years for these and other car makers to catch up. Unfortunately, still others got left in the dust (like the Acura CL and Toyota Solara.)

Other Resources

Edmunds.com Features and Specifications page
Wikipedia – Infiniti G-series (to be taken with a grain of salt, of course)
G35club.org owners club
Road & Track road test of the G35 coupe 

Chuck can be followed on Twitter @ChuckWhatTheF where he tweets about cars and other things “dudebros” are talking about.

Some photos in this article are freely sourced from Google. If you take issue with the usage of any image, please contact us and we will remove it.

Jun 292012
 

There are cars that are brought to market that eventually doom a brand. The Pontiac Aztek is an example of this unfortunate scenario (R.I.P. Pontiac.) On the flip side there are cars that revive a brand, perhaps so much so that they bring a brand back from near extinction. The 2002 Nissan Altima is an example of this more positive outcome. This week’s Car of the Week celebrates another such example:

1996 Audi A4

Why?

The Audi brand was quickly being forgotten as we entered the 1990s. The Car and Driver “10-Best” winning brand of the 1980s (namely the Audi 5000) became a dated brand in the early 90s. This was compounded with the unintended acceleration issues and lawsuits overshadowing the Audi name. Audi had not come up with anything for years to preserve its place as a prominent German luxury brand. It looked like time was standing still for the German automaker.

This all changed with the arrival of the 1996 Audi A4. Honorable mention goes to the 1995 Audi A6, which is the first Audi model released with the “A” model naming scheme. In reality though, the A4 deserves all the credit for bringing Audi back from the death bed.

The ’96 A4 brought modern euro compact styling and performance that was able to go head to head with BMW’s 3-series sedan. Because of this, Audi experienced a nice bump in sales and returned Audi to relevance in the German luxury car market. The Audis we see today are due all in part to this first generation A4.

About the Car

Audi first introduced the A4 to the world in 1994 as a 1995 model. The 1996 A4, which was its first year in the U.S., was only available as a sedan. Later years saw the introduction of a convertible (2003) and then the introduction of the A5 coupe (2008). In ’96 the A4 was available with only the 2.8 L V6. (The 1.8 L Turbocharged I4 was introduced in ’97.) All models were available with manual or automatic, and either FWD or Audi’s Quattro™ AWD.

The A4 received a significant visual and mechanical update in 2001 and then again in in 2005 and again in 2008. Though the current generation is considered a little long in the tooth, it remains the mainstay of the Audi range and is a popular alternative to BMW’s perennial 3-series.

Other Resources

Wikipedia: Audi A4 (to be taken with a grain of salt, of course)
Audiforums.com (Enthusiast community for all Audis)
Autos on MSN: Audi A4

Chuck can be followed on Twitter @ChuckWhatTheF where he tweets about cars and other things “dudebros” are talking about.

Some photos in this article are freely sourced from Google. If you take issue with usage of any image, please contact us and we will remove it.

Jun 222012
 

To know me is to know that I am an Acura enthusiast. How could I not be? I am the happy and extremely proud owner of the 2003 Acura CL Type-S covered in a recent Car of the Week article (in case you missed it, read about it here). That CL is now sporting 257,000 miles and continues to be a strong cruiser and daily driver.

When I look at how I got to acquiring the CL in the first place, I find that I justified it both by staying true to my price range and by trying to satisfy my lasting desire to own one of its predecessors (part of me still wants a late model Legend in a slick 6-speed). With all of this being said, this week’s Car of the Week pays tribute to the car that started it all for the CL, and more importantly for Acura:

1986 Acura Legend

Why?

The 1986 Acura Legend was the flagship model for the newly debuted Acura brand. This Legend gave birth to the Japanese luxury car industry and started pushing the luxury car envelope about four years before Toyota and Nissan introduced their answers with Lexus and Infiniti respectively. Their response was so slow it appeared that they didn’t hit the drawing board until this Legend was released.

The ’86 Legend declared a war against German and American luxury automakers that were producing less inspired, lower quality cars (of course this war continues today). It satisfied emerging consumer requirements for reliability, styling and quality that couldn’t be met by German or American offerings.

The ’86 Legend gave car buyers and enthusiasts a taste of what Honda had been cooking up in the kitchen. We saw many Honda firsts with this car, most notably the introduction of a V6 and four wheel double-wishbone suspension. This made for a ride that was quick (at the time) and handling that was tight and predictable. Coupled with Honda’s well known track record, this was a competent, long lasting daily driver and family hauler for a new breed of buyers.  Many first generation Legends are still driving around to this day.

About the Car

The 1986 Acura Legend was offered with one engine, a 2.5 L V6, good for 151 hp. In ’86 that was more powerful than the BMW 528 and the Audi 5000 non-turbo, and comparable to the Audi 5000 turbo. The ’86 Legend was available with only one option choice: manual or automatic transmission. Limited options was, and continues to be, the way Acura builds and sells their vehicles, which likely helps them keep costs under better control compared to the competition.

The 1986 Acura Legend set a new standard for what we could expect from a luxury car. It is truly Legend-ary.

Other Resources

Wikipedia: Acura Legend (to be taken with a grain of salt, of course)
Acura-Legend forum
Hemmings Blog “Class of ’86″ feature on the Integra and Legend

Chuck can be followed on Twitter @ChuckWhatTheF where he tweets about cars and other things important to the average “dudebro.”

Some photos in this article were freely sourced from Google. If you take issue with usage of any image, please contact us and we will remove it.