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2023 Ford GT First Drive: When brute-force and beauty collide

There are few moments in life so memorable that they burn deep into every single fiber of your body. For me, one such moment came the first time my index finger pushed up against the 2023 Ford GT’s ignition start button. Two years after the GT’s shock unveil at the 2023 North American International Auto Show, the build-up of anticipation until I was behind the wheel and seated inches in front of the mid-mounted 647 horsepower, 550 lb-ft of torque twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 engine could’ve gone one of two ways. As the hardly-tamed beast roared to life, would the GT live up to its supercar promise?

To understand the new GT properly, you first have to go back. Far further into the history books than this car’s unexpected Detroit reveal, and all the way to the 1960s and the original Ford GT40. A Le Mans winning middle-finger from the American automaker to its European rivals, it earned a place in the history books, and how. Ford resurrected the name in 2004 with the first-generation GT, making just over 4,000 of a car that clung so closely to the original’s appearance that it bordered on the pastiche.

Nobody could accuse this, the second-generation GT of being retro. Sharing nothing with the first-gen car but its name and a few aesthetic cues, its inspiration isn’t so much in design or engineering as it is ethos. Just as the original GT40 was intended to coax the best of American ingenuity into a racetrack-storming Ferrari-squasher, the 2023 GT pits the pinnacle of 21st technology up against a classic nameplate for a thoroughly modern, no-compromise supercar.

Jab that milled metal starter button, and all your senses are assaulted at once. This moment for me was existential. I took a deep breath to allow everything to soak in, knowing that I’ve spent my entire career – and especially the past week – preparing for it.

Existentiality doesn’t get you far on the track, though, so the practical rushes in to replace it. Normally, I’d start with adjusting the seats but in the GT they’re fixed to the carbon fiber tub. Instead, the pedal box extends forward or back, the equivalent of wearing a suit that’s been tailored just for you. With curb weight at the forefront of their collective mind, the engineers bypassed the electric motors you’d expect to find making the adjustment in a “luxury” supercar, opting instead for a simple pull-cord mechanism.

That efficiency carries over to adjusting the steering wheel. It’s a two-step process: a lever under the steering column allows for forward and back movement, and then once it’s where you want it, a lever on the right allows for finer tilt adjustments. The bottom of the wheel itself is flat and, short of the paddle shifters, every single control – including the left and right blinkers – lives on its compact body. According to Christopher Svennson, design director for Ford Motor Company America, the whole thing was “modeled after a racing wheel,” where the primary focus is keeping the driver’s hands in place.

It’s one small detail, but it’s an example of the degree of obsessive consideration Ford paid to every aspect of the new GT’s design. Weight cuts are another instance, the engineers having considered the possibility of paring back everything they could in the chase for minimal mass, yet discovering in the end that sometimes it pays to add weight in order to maximize performance in the end. Indeed, just opting for minimal weight ironically slowed the GT down.

“The adjustable ride height adds weight to the car. It also makes the car faster,” Jamal Hameedi, Ford Performance Chief Engineer explained to me. “We studied deleting the system saving significant weight and the car was slower, so a lot of these features, while they add weight to the car, they also make it faster. This is one feature where on a system level, moving the seat is lighter than having to move the steering column that much, as well as moving the pedal box. But again, that was critical enabler to get that frontal area down.”

The most important control on the wheel is up on the left, an aluminum cog that switches through the drive modes. Each mode changes both the car’s driving dynamics, and the appearance and information shown on the fully digital instrumentation. It’s actually the 10.1-inch panel from the Lincoln Continental, but that’s where the similarities end.

“We toiled hours and hours and hours on this display,” Hameedi told me, “to the point where I got so tired showing up to these meetings, I never want to see another digital display just because we spent so much time on it.” While the engineers could have added every bell and whistle and turned it into what Hameedi refered to as a “video game”, that’s absolutely not what Ford wanted to do. Instead, they took the minimalist approach, with only the most pertinent information making it to the surface for each of the five drive modes: Normal, Wet, Sport, Track, and V-Max.

“V-Max is interesting because we came up with the mode, we never intended to have a V-Max mode,” Hameedi revealed. “I think this is kind of a nod to the engineers over a beer or two… wouldn’t it be cool to put the car in low ride height but not deploy the wing, to have the lowest drag setting. Just like the nose lift, it didn’t cost anything more, it didn’t add any weight to the car, but we’re using the tools and the features on the car to create a new configuration.”

In V-Max mode, speed is prominently placed in the center with critical temperatures and engine data on the right of the display. In track mode, there’s an oversized gear indicator for the seven-speed PowerShift dual-clutch transmission. While out on the track, though I mainly stayed in 3rd and 4th gear, I did notice that even when unwinding out of a tight turn, with my eyes focused down the straight or searching for the corner, it was nonetheless easy to see the display out of my peripheral vision. Making it even easier, Ford put gear shift notification lights into the top of the steering wheel, a row of colored LEDs that come on when you switch to manual shifting.

In Sport mode – which is more intended for road driving – the current gear remains prominent in the center, with the speedometer flanking it on the right. Finally, for Wet and Normal drive modes, current gear is pushed to the side, yielding its spotlight to the mph indicator. The overarching hockey-stick-style tach remains consistent through all the drive modes.

The rest of the cabin is near-brutalist in its simplicity. The dashboard itself is a narrow band that runs the width of the cabin, punctuated in the center with a 6.5-inch touchscreen running SYNC 3. It’s easily reached by both driver and passenger, and offers the same navigation, audio, and app suite you’d be familiar with from an Edge or Focus. Two USB ports are underneath, along with a tray roughly the width of an iPhone or Galaxy S8.

Plug in an Android device and mount it on the windshield, and Ford’s track app for the car will overlay driving and engine metrics on top of a first-person view for the camera. You’ll be able to share those results on social media, too, as if having access to a GT in the first place wasn’t bragging-rights enough.

Physical knobs control the HVAC system, again milled out of metal. However, keeping the cabin cool presented a problem, since there was virtually no room in the car to snake the ducting. Cleverly, the engineers integrated the necessary pipework directly inside the molding of the carbon fiber tub, eliminating additional parts and weight in the process.

Aerodynamics defined the shape of just about everything. The cockpit has an extreme front-to-rear taper, Svensson explained. To keep airflow adhering to the fuselage without becoming turbulent. The subsequent teardrop shape meant keeping the seats fixed – not to mention low down in the body – was the only option for maximum interior space. You’re sitting shoulder to shoulder with the person next to you.

You won’t care, just like I didn’t, because the vista ahead of you is panoramically awesome. The A-pillar is almost non-existent, unlike in the first-gen GT, and taking one tight turn is all you’ll need to immediately appreciate the meticulous care that Ford put into this design. Back then, the A-pillar was an extruded aluminum section; now, it’s part of the integrated roll cage – composed of tubular high-strength steel – which is built into the upper cockpit. It meets both FIA and global road car safety requirements.

Why, you might be asking, would Ford want an integrated roll cage? It’s another example of that perverse “adding something to remove something” strategy in the same vein as the adjustable suspension. As Hameedi explains it, the roll cage helps to cut down on redundant structure for the GT racer. Without the integrated cage, the GT racing car would have to double-up: it would get both the structure of the road car, in addition to racing safety hardware. Early on in the development process, Ford made the conscious decision to only use the FIA certified roll cage as the basis of the roof, for all GT production vehicles. “It adds a little bit of weight to the road car,” Hameedi says, “but it makes the racing car much lighter.”

The result is around 3,000 pounds, and all of it worshiping at the twin-altar of aerodynamics and suspension. They’re “the two magical things about this car,” Hameedi says, and I can’t argue with him.

“We wanted to make the air flow,” Hameedi explains, “and everything else followed after that.” It starts with a front end inspired by the “keel-suspension” design found in Formula 1 and Le Mans cars. Like those racers, the GT uses unusually-long lower control arms to move the attachment points inboard, while the springs and dampers are packaged inside the car’s body and actuated by pushrods. This leaves gaping voids on either side of the radiator to move air through the body and generate downforce.

The GT’s pushrod-actuated inboard suspension, with its primary torsion bars and secondary coil springs, is fiendishly complex in turn. What it really boils down to is that, in Track mode, the car is nearly as low as the Le Mans-winning GT racer. Normal ride height offers 120mm ground clearance, while the low ride height is 70mm; the race car dips down to as low as 57mm. Since Le Mans drivers don’t have to worry about speed bumps, the road-going GT has a very useful nose-lift feature: hit a button and, in a fraction of a second, the front of the car pops up to 170mm.

It was Track mode I selected as I took my place in the pits at Utah Motorsports Campus. The 2.2 mile course at the former Miller Motorsports Park is punctuated with a wide variety of challenging turns, an excellent foil to test the GT’s promise of extreme stickiness on the asphalt. Then you plant your right foot, and any awareness of technology, engineering prowess, or wind tunnel shaping is blown from your brain.

The Ford GT is quick, of course. Purists may have decried the decision to go with a smaller-displacement twin-turbo V6 rather than a big, naturally-aspirated V8, but frankly the latter woudn’t have fit in the car. If it comes down to choice of compromising on “tradition” or not having the GT exist at all, I know what I’m choosing. Really, though, the V6 versus V8 argument is gloriously irrelevant.

0-60 mph comes… fast. Ridiculously fast. Ford is only saying “under 3.0 seconds” and wasn’t allowing any sort of time trial equipment to be used, but acceleration like a runaway cruise missile is more than sufficient to put numbers-on-paper out of your mind. At the same time, there’s a jump-jet howl from the turbochargers behind you. The GT doesn’t roar like a V8 might, it screams like an enraged banshee. As the LEDs on the wheel tick rapidly up to the redline the Valkyrie war-cry doesn’t stint; it’s almost a relief to snap the upshift paddle and feel the gearbox snick lag-free to the next ratio.

Then you’re back on the throttle, and the whoosh of the twin-turbos as they gulp that carefully-channeled air begins all over again. Before you know it, you’re stamping hard on the brake pedal and marveling as the carbon-ceramic brakes work in tandem with the active aero – the rear wing, which can crank up on two pleasingly-beefy looking pistons, flipping upright to act as an airbrake – to shed speed. No twitching, no jitter; no bucking side to side across the lane. Ford’s achingly-refined downforce system sees the underside of the GT act as a massive vacuum, sucking the front axle to the track and sending you hurtling around corners like a particle round CERN.

Yet this is no computer-tamed version of speed and performance. Everything about the GT is communicative, and it glories in its mechanics. The steering – electromechanical, naturally – is heavily-weighted, piping details of every twist and ripple of the road back to your hands. Every spray of gravel as you risk more and more aggressive turn-in sends a staccato hiss through the cabin, the GT’s minimal acoustic insulation holding little back.

Not that you’d want to tame the GT. After my all-too-brief time with the car on the track, a ride-along with one of Ford’s racing drivers underscored just how relentless the car can be. Yet even at its gory, howling best, the GT flatters: it wants to go fast, and it wants to help you go fast, and as long as you don’t do anything stupid the two of you can drive like little else on the market.

I hope, from the deepest depths of my envious soul, that those who buy the new Ford GT don’t just leave it in their museum-garage. It may be striking to the eye, not to mention – with a final production run capped at just 1,000 cars – rarer than the Lamborghini Aventador S, McLaren 720S, and Ferrari 458 it’s been compared to, but it would be a travesty not to see the fruits of Ford’s labors prove their worth on the track. With three-quarters already accounted for, and competition likely to be fierce among those who can afford the sticker and convince Ford that they’re suitable candidates for the remaining 250, I doubt I’ll ever see one in the wild. No matter. It’s a modern-day icon, a Le Mans-winning champion, and the halo car that puts Ford Performance on the map.

Photography by Chris Davies

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2023 Bentley Continental Gt V8 First Drive Review: When Compromise Is Unforgivable

2023 Bentley Continental GT V8 First Drive Review: When compromise is unforgivable

The Bentley Continental GT W12 is the blueprint for a grand tourer. Handsome and effortlessly powerful, it’s more than enough car to have you skip the first class cabin and take your next cross-country jaunt into your own hands. What, then, to make of the 2023 Continental GT V8? If you’ve come looking for compromise then you’re on a fool’s errand: while the engine may be smaller, the experience for more enthusiastic drivers is a whole lot bigger.

It’s lighter than the W12, so you get more agile handling and a bit more sportiness. In terms of emissions and fuel economy, the V8 is naturally better. Then again, Bentley remains mum on the actual fuel economy numbers. We reckon 20 mpg or higher is not impossible for the Continental GT coupe, especially since the V8 engine comes with cylinder deactivation. Of course, the convertible model adds 350 pounds to the lightened body of the 2023 Bentley Continental GT, so it’s still heavier despite saving 175 pounds over the heavier V12 motor.

However you configure it, the Bentley Continental GT – in either coupe or convertible form – is not a lightweight car. Fully loaded, it tips the scales at more than 5,000 lbs. Still, Bentley managed to pull out all the stops to make it as light as possible without ruining the grand touring attributes of the vehicle.

The previous model had steel body panels. For the new 2023 Continental GT, Bentley decided to go with an all-aluminum body, which saves 170 pounds regardless if you choose the W12 or the V8. The carmaker increased the wheelbase as well, which allowed it to relocate the engine further back. And while the V12 engine feels right at home in this configuration, choosing the smaller and lighter V8 gave the Continental GT a somewhat different demeanor.

The V8 motor produces 542 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque, while the W12 churns out 626 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. Obviously, the latter has the higher numbers and is indeed faster than the V8, but only by 0.3 seconds in a sprint to 60 mph, while top speed is still an impressive 198 mph. Why the moderate difference? The answer is peak torque. While the W12 produces more torque, true, the V8’s peak torque arrives at under 2,000 rpm, then sticks around for a long while.

Now the W12 also achieves its peak torque at relatively low engine speeds, but the V8 still provides an energetic boost off the line because it’s lighter. Think about it this way: the W12 is predictably old-school-Bentley in the sense that it delivers power like a diesel locomotive. It feels steadily quick, for lack of a better description.

The V8-equipped Continental GT, on the other hand, reacts pretty much like a tuned muscle car if you stab the throttle. As I said, the V8 imbibes the Continental GT with a newfound sense of agility and sportiness. No doubt, the V8 feels sharper, more exuberant, and naughtier than the W12. This can also be attributed to the louder and raspier exhaust note of the V8.

Regardless of roof configuration or engine choice, the weight distribution of the GT remains at 55 percent front and 45 percent rear. The new Continental also comes with adaptive dampers and air springs, while Bentley’s optional active anti-roll bars further improve ride and handling. The latter is an innovative piece of hardware, relying on electronic actuators to disconnect the anti-roll bars at lower speeds to improve ride comfort. At faster speeds, the computer connects and stiffens the roll bars to deliver sharper handling.

Like the old Continental GT, all-wheel drive is standard. However the new GT gets to play with that more. By default, the power is split 40/60 between the front and rear wheels; shift the drive mode selector to Sport, though, and up to 83-percent of torque is pushed to the back, allowing the tail to slide out for some mid-corner action if you’re feeling so inclined. Four drive modes are on offer: Comfort, Sport, Bentley (a mashup between Comfort and Sport), and Custom, the latter allowing you to configure the suspension and driveline settings yourself.

Nobody is ever going to confuse a Bentley for a budget car, but having a smaller and lighter engine does soften the blow a little in terms of pricing. The V8 model starts at around $201,000, while the W12 commands a starting price of $217,325. Affordability is relative, but that’s around $16k with which you could sit down with Bentley’s Co-Creation team of designers and start talking about leather and wood trim, paint colors, and some of the customizations that are possible. Spoiler: if you can think of it, and pay for it, Bentley can probably do it.

Both the W12 and V8 versions of the Bentley Continental GT are undoubtedly desirable from a car lover’s point of view. You’ll need to be a fan in order to tell them apart, too: basically you’re looking out for the exhaust tips and the badging on the flanks. Two very different driving experiences await behind those minor aesthetic changes, however: as we found with the Bentayga W12 and Bentayga V8, the smaller engine makes for a far more dynamic, driver-friendly car. That’s a sweet-spot the 2023 Continental GT V8 fits into very nicely.

2023 Kia Ev6 First Drive: The New Electric Benchmark

2023 Kia EV6 First Drive: The New Electric Benchmark

The first chance that any car gets to make an impression is with its styling. Long before reviewers start trying to get rear tires to break loose, or bury themselves ten menus deep in touchscreens to surmise a car’s real capabilities, we appraise its sheet metal for a glint of insight into the design briefs or – deeper still – its true purpose. At this, the all-new 2023 Kia EV6 — the company’s first electric-only model — got me excited long before I’d slid into the driver’s seat.

Just look at it. It visually sits somewhere between a crossover and a wagon, but no matter how you appraise it, it’s stunning.

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Kia has built electric cars in the past with the EV Niro and Soul, but this is the company’s first clean-sheet design. It’s part of why the EV6 can afford to be so bold. Based on the E-GMP EV architecture shared with sister company Hyundai – and used on new Hyundai Ioniq 5 – the EV6 is not just Kia’s latest offering to electric car shoppers, it’s a statement of intent to critics, consumers, and competitors alike that they can electrify with the best of the legacy and new-wave automakers, and look good doing it.

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After I’d pulled myself away from the heckeblende tail lights and double-scalloped hood to surmise its spec sheet, it turns out the EV6 makes a solid statement on paper, too. Kia will offer it with three different drivetrains: The “Light” base model trim punches out 167 HP to solely the rear wheels, whereas the higher tier “Wind” and “GT-Line” trims can be optioned with either a single 225 HP motor driving the rear wheels, or a pair of AC synchronous motors — one at the front and one at the rear — putting out a combined 320 HP and a more-than-respectable 446 foot-pounds of torque.

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Base buyers will find themselves with a 58 kWh battery rated at 232 miles of range, while the higher-trim Wind and GT-Line are rated at up to 310 miles on a single charge of their 77.4 kWh power pack. Additionally, Kia’s fast-charging system can add over two hundred miles of range in 18 minutes assuming you can locate a 350 kW charger, which will help reduce travel times drastically when 310 miles alone just won’t quite cut it. A port at the rear offers an alternative way to use power, providing a 110V outlet capable of delivering up to 1,900 watts with an adapter, though you can’t – yet – plug the EV6 directly into a home’s breaker board to overcome outages.

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Pricing is competitive for the electric car market. Kia comes within extremely close range of nearly every competitor it hopes to put a shot across the bow of: the EV6 starts at $40,900 (plus $1,215 destination fee) for the Light trim, climbing to $55,900 for the fully-loaded twin-motor GT-Line AWD. Unlike with the Ioniq 5, Kia will sell the EV6 in all 50 states from the get-go.

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No matter which trim buyers choose, they end up with a roomy vehicle that neatly straddles the line between wagon and crossover. With 50.2 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded, and a Telluride-length wheelbase of 114.2″, it has the size of a crossover, but – with its 60.8″ height, excellent forward visibility thanks to its low hoodline, and car-like seating position – it feels like driving a wagon. Buyers also get neatly integrated, dual 12.3 inch screens that serve as the instrument cluster and the infotainment and navigation displays. CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard, albeit only with wired connectivity. Wireless charging, however, is standard from the base model up.


More impressive than comfort, though, is the suite of safety features on the EV6, which comes standard with Kia’s unobtrusive yet phenomenally helpful Drive Wise assist package. Navigation-assisted cruise that automatically slows down on sharp corners, one of the best lane keep systems on the market, and stop-and-go traffic cruise control are all standard from the base Light trim level.

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Buyers moving up to the GT-Line trim get standard blind-spot cameras that display via the instrument cluster on turn signal activation, as well as 360 degree parking cameras. In its fully-optioned form, it’s almost difficult to drive the EV6 dangerously thanks to how comprehensive and well-integrated the Drive Wise system is.

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But I’ve found that with a lot of the EV market’s current offerings it is nearly impossible to glean how a car will actually behave from the numbers on the page, or the features in the cabin. ICE cars all have some familiar traits I’ve learned — a turbocharger’s tsunami of torque when it spools, a V8’s earthmoving grunt at low RPM — but this early into the days of electrification it’s hard to surmise just how any given car will feel simply by glancing at some numbers. To help me learn just what the EV6 is made of, Kia tossed me the fobs to a pair of GT-Lines and set me loose in wine country.

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And in the AWD, fully-loaded GT Line with Sport mode engaged, acceleration is downright stunning in true EV party-trick form, with .75 maximum G’s upon launch. What’s more impressive, though, is how well-composed the EV6 stays after it pulls off the line. As I continued to push the EV6 well past where a typical crossover should stay composed, it actually felt enjoyable to drive.

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There’s hardly any body roll to speak of, and the AWD does an excellent job scrambling for maximum grip, allocating power to the corners that need it most without hesitation. The electronic power steering is sharp and, combined with the extremely strong regenerative braking, helps move the 4,600 pound wagon around like it weighs a fraction as much.

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Switching back to “Normal” or “Eco” modes, though, with their less-harsh regenerative braking mode engaged, makes it a vastly more sedate, comfortable crossover. In Eco, the acceleration becomes downright leisurely and efficient, thanks to a novel electric front motor clutch that allows the drive unit on the front axle to disengage when not needed. Additionally, despite the lack of body roll and general composure I found at the limit earlier in my drive, the suspension remains one of the most comfortable I’ve found at this price point when meandering through the hills of Northern California on the 101.

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Road and tire noise is minimal, and that comfortable, car-like seating position makes eating miles a cinch. With the driver-assist package engaged, it’s a pleasure cruise, especially ensconced in the vegan artificial leather the GT-Line is equipped with.

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Unfortunately, despite my joy at finding the EV6 had both poise and comfort in motion, I had a few gripes with the ergonomics of the interior. The 12.3″ main screen is a touch-activated unit, and while it’s integrated beautifully in the dash, it is simply too far from the driver to be easily used while driving. The center console holds the capacitive-touch panel that activates seat and steering climate controls, and while it’s easier to reach, it’s also incredibly easy to bump accidentally with the palm of your hand while trying to adjust the climate control panel directly above it.

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The Meridian sound system that the GT-Line is equipped with trails behind many other branded audio systems on the market, with a disappointing top end and minimal bass. And at a lanky 6’2″, I found my head a bit uncomfortably close to the roofline, which made the EV6 feel a lot less roomy than I’d expect for a car of this size.

Victoria Scott / SlashGear

Victoria Scott / SlashGear

As a result, the EV6 is an easily recommended must-test for a prospective EV shopper. It seamlessly combines the best attributes of a crossover and a wagon in one of the most attractive cars of the decade thus far, and does so at a price point that is extremely competitive. For Kia, it seems, the first time putting electric first is the charm.

2023 Audi S3 First Drive: The Compact Sports Sedan Gets Fiercer

2023 Audi S3 First Drive: The compact sports sedan gets fiercer

You don’t have to put the 2023 Audi S3 next to its A4 sibling to see that, in fitting Halloween style, the resemblance is spooky. Audi’s feisty little sedan has been satisfying eager drivers wanting the punch of the company’s excellent turbocharged engines with the reassurance of its quattro all-wheel drive since 2013. Now, sitting – for the moment, at least – atop a mid-cycle refresh of the whole A3 range, it’s getting a little more expensive and a lot more personality.

The A3 line is an important one for Audi. With roughly 20,000 sales in the US annually, and 30-percent share of its class, it’s the top-seller int the A segment. More importantly, arguably, is that it’s the gateway to the Audi brand: almost three-quarters of buyers come from mainstream automakers.

Of the bunch, the S3 is the most entertaining – for now, at least – though all of the models are getting a refresh for the 2023 model year. The A3 sedan has a new grille flanked by Xenon or LED headlamps (opt for the latter if you want the dynamic swooshing rear turn signals that look so good on the A4 allroad) while the s-line body package is now standard on the Premium Plus car as well the the more expensive Prestige.

Audi’s excellent 2.0-liter engine with 186 horsepower and 221 lb-ft. of torque replaces the old 1.8, and the 2023 A4 donates much of its technology. That includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay options, the chance to have Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, and a 705 watt B&O audio system. Leather seats and a panoramic sunroof are standard.

In the A3 Sportback e-tron, meanwhile, there’s new signature lighting on the fascia and unique displays on the Virtual Cockpit. You still get a gas-electric hybrid drivetrain, good for 16 miles of all-electric driving and 380 miles of total range. That’s 83 mpge city/highway, or 34 mpg on gas alone.

The real gem of the line-up, though, is the 2023 S3. As with its siblings, the changes have been moderate – it’s only three years since the car was launched, after all – but it gets the same exterior A4-inspired design improvements as the A3 sedan. LED headlights are standard, as are quad tailpipes.

Throw in 19-inch wheels and some bright new paint options, including the eye-catching yellow from the TT, and you’ve got a car that does a better job of standing out than before. That continues inside, where you now find the Virtual Cockpit rather than the old car’s analog dials – on the Prestige, at least – complete with a Sport mode view that includes lap timer functionality and other software tweaks donated from the R8.

Best, though, are the optional S Sport seats. With their oversized bolsters and diamond stitching, they look more like bodyguards in Prada catsuits than chairs, but they’re deeply comfortable and supportive, particularly with their adjustable thigh support. Combined with the smattering of extra trim on the dashboard for the 2023 car, not to mention the flat-bottomed sports wheel, and the whole interior escapes the minimalist-bordering-on-spartan feel of the old S3.

What hasn’t changed is the engine. That’s still a 2.0-liter TFSI, with 292 horsepower and 280 lb-ft. of torque. It’ll do 0-60 mph in 4.7, at least by Audi’s self-confessed conservative timings, with a 155 mph electronically-limited top speed. Transmission is still a six-speed DCT, and you of course get quattro all-wheel drive.

Indeed, it’s the quattro system where the changes have been made this time around. The S3 team raided the new TT and TTS, with fresh in-house software for the all-wheel drive system. Now, the Drive Select modes of Dynamic, Auto, Comfort, and Individual also affect how the quattro behaves: in Dynamic, for instance, more power gets pushed to the rear, and the S3 won’t be so quick to cut that power if you’re oversteering.

One of the charms of the original S3 was how usable its power was. You don’t have to be going at breakneck speeds – or fall foul of speed traps, for that matter – to coax some fun out of the car. Happily, that eagerness to please has been carried over to the 2023 S3.

In Comfort, you still get the expected smooth ride and surreptitious gear changes. Rear seat space may be less than the A4 – Audi says most A3 buyers are couples with no kids – but there’s still room for adults back there unless they’re unusually tall. In short, you get about 90-percent of the A4 experience.

I’m not going to tell you to ignore that, but I am going to suggest you save it for transporting your in-laws. The S3 is happiest in Dynamic mode, and so was I. Not only does it trigger the new quattro settings, but it automatically sets the transmission into Sport mode.

The result is a punchy little sports sedan that romps through corners and whizzes down straights. The TT and TTS’ influence is clear: the new S3 really does feel like a four-door version of Audi’s excellent coupes.

All that comes with a starting price of $42,900 for the S3 Premium Plus and $48,400 for the S3 Prestige. Maxed out, like the test car I drove, you’re looking at around $52k and change. Personally, I could live without the (excellent) B&O audio system but I’d struggle to give up the Virtual Cockpit (part of the $3k Technology package on the Premium Plus; standard on the Prestige) and the $1,450 S Sport seats. Figure on $1,500 if you want the Audi magnetic ride that’s part of the Dynamic package, and which also gets you fancier 19-inch wheels.

That’s not inexpensive, though it does undercut Mercedes’ AMG CLA45, which starts at $49,950. The Mercedes is more powerful, mind, with 375 HP.

NOW READ: 2023 Audi A4 Review

Things will change all over again come the arrival of the Audi RS3. Revealed in September, it’ll have a 2.5-liter, 5-cylinder engine paired with a 7-speed DCT and quattro all-wheel drive, and will be good for 400 HP and a 0-60 mph time of 4.1 seconds. Due in the Summer of 2023, pricing is yet to be confirmed, though it’ll undoubtedly be fairly niche and be stickered up accordingly.

Until we get to play with the RS3, is the S3 ample compensation? It certainly feels like it has moved out of the A4’s shadow and gained a personality of its own. If the old car was a capable but still fairly safe take on sporting luxury, the 2023 S3 loosens the reins some and is all the more entertaining for it.

2023 Audi Rs6 Avant First Drive Review: A Wagon Welcome In America

2023 Audi RS6 Avant First Drive Review: A wagon welcome in America

Station wagons aren’t meant to be cool these days, but nobody passed Audi Sport the memo. Then again, the 2023 Audi RS6 Avant is about as far away from the old family woodie as you can get: the German automaker may insist on branding its wagons “Avant” but that’s only the smallest of the differences between the new RS6 Avant and the unfashionable cars of old. Audi fans in North America have long watched their European counterparts enjoying several generations of a model the automaker insisted just wouldn’t sell on US shores. Now, though, Audi has relented.

It picked the perfect time for it, too. No, this isn’t the first Audi station wagon, nor the first to bear the RS logo, but it’s an unmistakable step up from what we’ve seen before. That’s something I got the full body sensorial experience of, after riding shotgun with Victor Underberg, head of technical development at Audi Sport.

The Audi RS6 Avant is indeed that fantastic to drive and the image of a station wagon be damned. “The level of power in the RS6 Avant is what will please most buyers,” Underberg suggests. “But you also get a really comfortable car and you have lots of space. Most of all, it’s quiet, we talk easily here even at a brisk pace.”

You don’t have to go excavating through the spec sheet to see what makes the 2023 RS6 Avant the most exciting station wagon to arrive in the US. That’s a magnificent 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine that not only sounds the business, but delivers power to suit.

With 591 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, I repeatedly felt how a rather large and luxurious station wagon was able to pin me in my seat as it rushed to 60 mph in roughly 3.6 seconds. Needless to say, you have to feel it for yourself. I’ve been given free reign in thrashing performance cars on both the street and track, but the RS6 Avant is truly special.

It’s the way it rotates into a corner, coupled with the immediate power delivery that really tingles the spine. The standard eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox is smooth, unobtrusive, and aggressive enough to give the RS6 Avant the driving feel of a proper sports car. Of course, it also has something to do with Audi’s Drive Select dynamic handling system which influences engine and transmission response, along with the standard Quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system.

Equipped with a mechanical center differential, the AWD system feeds power to the front and rear axle at a ratio of 40:60 to give the vehicle a rear-biased driving feel. As the system detects slip, though, it can redirect up to 70-percent of torque to the front and up to 85-percent to the rear, part of the reason why the Audi RS6 Avant handles like a much smaller car.

Indeed it does feel like a much more compact performance car than it actually is, dare I say akin to an RS3? Yes, it feels as nimble, so it’s darn close. However, the RS6 Avant is on a different level than the RS3 or even the RS5. Maybe it has something to do with the larger and wider Singleframe grille, or the flared wheel arches which extend 1.6-inches on each side at the front and rear. Maybe it’s the newly-sculpted power dome hood, and those striking lateral air inlets on each side of the front bumper. Whatever it might be, there’s a sense of purity and purpose to the RS6 Avant’s design language.

With an elongated front section and a long straight roof, the styling connotes sporty performance and a roomy interior. Speaking of the interior, there’s nothing more joyous than being 6’2″ and yet still being able to seat yourself in the driver’s seat and then – without adjusting its position – comfortable stretch out in the back, too. The rising shoulder line hints at the performance hiding underneath, where all the critical components are working together to produce one hell of a ride.

As for handling, the 2023 Audi RS6 Avant will be offered with two suspension options. As standard you get an RS adaptive air suspension system, consisting of a new air spring module with a 50-percent higher spring rate, which allows the vehicle to reach a top speed of 190 mph with the right package checked off. It also has automatic level control, that either raises or further lowers the vehicle depending on the selected driving mode.

On the other hand, the sportier option is the RS sport suspension with Dynamic Ride Control dampers. Consisting of steel springs and three-way adjustable dampers, it gives the RS6 Avant the precision of a racing car when attacking tight bends. I’ve driven both, and while the RS sport suspension is a dream, I have to say I prefer the standard air suspension mostly for its adjustable nature.

But as a performance car for everyday driving on the street, the air suspension is the way to go. “You can relax in comfort mode when driving with the family, but you can go sporty when you’re alone to better enjoy the drive,” agrees Underberg. However, my ideal setup would also include the optional dynamic rear-wheel steering system, which turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction at slow speeds to reduce the turning circle and deliver better maneuverability around town. At 60 mph and above, however, the system turns the rear wheels in the same direction as the front wheels for better stability and response as you dart across lanes.

Massive 16.5-inch front brakes with a ten-piston fixed caliper design, along with 14.6-inch discs at the rear, are standard. You can also have the optional ceramic brakes, with larger 17.3-inch discs at the front; they go best with the steel suspension for mild track duty. And yes, I know it sounds foolish to consider racing a station wagon on a proper racetrack, but you can do it with dignity in an RS6 Avant, of that I’ve no doubt.

Inside, it’s a combination of the comfortable and user-friendly cabin we’ve come to expect from Audi, with some endearing RS enhancements. RS sports seats wrapped in genuine black pearl Nappa leather and Alcantara are standard, while perforated Valcona leather seats are an option. Since we’re talking about a station wagon, you’ll also be pleased to hear that you get between 20 and 60 cubic feet of cargo space, depending on whether the rear seat is up or down, which is more than what most crossovers have to offer.

The MMI touch response system features two touchscreens with haptic and acoustic feedback. For all intents and purposes, the RS6 Avant is a proper luxury car. But, with a V8 engine and a slew of go-fast components, it’s also a German muscle car at the same time. Unlike conventional muscle cars, the RS6 Avant utilizes a 48-volt mild-hybrid assist system to help you save up to 0.8-liters of fuel per 62 miles of driving. It’s not an MHEV system that produces added torque, like Mercedes-Benz’s EQ Boost, but it does help save a little fuel in stop and go traffic along with the engine’s cylinder-on-demand system. It’s about as close as the 2023 RS6 Avant gets to having a conscience.

Audi Sport has been gradually growing its range of potent four-doors, and at some point someone is probably going to ask whether the RS6 Avant or the RS7 is the model to get. Now, that’s a tough choice to make if you’re looking to spend upwards of $110,000 on a high-performance German car. Truth be told, both cars are mechanically the same. You get the same engine, drivetrain, and even that 48-volt MHEV system.

Honestly, the 2023 RS7 Sportback tugs at my heart the hardest, and you can blame the tapering coupe-like roofline for that. But I’m a family man, and the RS6 Avant makes a lot of sense in the real world. You can put it this way: If I were to choose between a fast SUV and the RS6 Avant for a cross-country jaunt with the wife and kids in tow, I’d choose the RS6 Avant every time.

It’s a practical car that also makes driving at 9/10ths unexpectedly practical, too. And by that, I mean intentionally provoking slides at 5 degrees of slip angle, and coaxing the tires to deliver maximum friction. I’m not really that good of a driver, but Audi’s Underberg is, and the RS6 Avant is capable of reliably doing that over and over again.

It all sounds excessive, I know. But the RS6 Avant can handle it like a nobody’s business. You can’t do that all the time in a fast SUV – or perhaps you can, in the Audi RS Q8; stay tuned for our report on that later in December – no matter if you have close to a thousand horsepower under the hood.

You could argue that the 2023 RS6 Avant is a niche within a niche: a rarified sports car in a body style only enthusiasts are buying. You’d not be wrong, but I think that only underscores its charm, rather than detracting from it; if anything can win America back over to wagons, this could be the car to do it. Now I know what we’ve been missing all along, and we’ve been missing out on a lot.

Henry Ford Museum Of American Innovation

Introduction to Henry Ford Museum

The Henry Ford Museum is a remarkable treasure of American culture. The museum opened in 1929 in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan. The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation is divided into the Indoor section and the open-air Greenfield Village. All the exhibits and items displayed in the museum are arranged in different rooms. The Greenfield Village houses several restored old buildings, including Thomas Edison’s research lab and the Wright Brothers’ airplane workshop. Each show has a detailed description given by the museum guides.

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History of Henry Ford Museum

What began as a personal collection got so vast that he had to build a museum to store it. The Edison Institute, named after his idol, debuted in June 1929. It was first opened to the public in 1933 with Henry Ford Museum. The museum continues to attract Americans and now houses a vast collection of 26 million artifacts.

Exhibits in the Henry Ford Museum 1. Greenfield Village

In Greenfield Village, the organizers have divided into seven outdoor zones that consist of reconstructed and restored historic buildings from various locations across the country. They relocated nearly a hundred ancient buildings from their original sites and placed them within the “village” environment of Greenfield Village. The museum’s goal is to depict how Americans have lived and worked since the nation’s birth, and the Village contains structures from the 17th to the present day.

The various exhibits here include:

Noah Webster’s Connecticut residence functioned as a hostel for Yale scholars from 1918 until 1936, when Henry Ford purchased it and relocated it to Greenfield Village, where it was renovated.

Replica of Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park research lab:  They took inspiration from Edison’s New Jersey lab and commenced the restoration of the structures in 1928. The design of the buildings was based on precise foundation dimensions from the original site.

The Wright Brothers’ workshop: Henry Ford purchased and relocated the Wright Brothers’ workshop and residence from Dayton, Ohio, in 1937.

The Cape Cod Windmill: Also recognized as the Farris mill, the Cape Cod windmill is one of America’s oldest windmills. Before being given to Henry Ford by the Ford Dealers Association and restored in Greenfield Village in 1936, it underwent multiple relocations across Cape Cod.

2. The Indoor Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

The exhibits here include:

Driving America: Some of the oldest American cars, including the 1865 Roper and a hybrid 2002 Prius, are displayed here.

What we wore: Witness the wide range of clothing and accessories owned by Henry Ford and the exciting stories behind every clothing item.

The museum guides at the Henry Ford Museum of Innovation dress in costumes and actively engage visitors with detailed descriptions of all the exhibits. You can also watch an 1867 baseball game, drive a Model T vehicle, or register in a one-room, 1870s-style classroom within the museum.


The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation brings visitors face to face with America’s creativity and culture over the years. The Henry Ford Museum, a National Historic Landmark with an extraordinary collection of artifacts spanning 300 years of American history, is a driving force in stimulating curiosity and motivating the youth and tomorrow’s innovators.

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