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2020 Subaru WRX Series.White Review: Snow dancer

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When all of the dreary, everyday driving is taken off the agenda, which keys do you reach for first? The 2020 Subaru WRX Series.White makes a solid argument for the return of some old-school values, taking what has long been a car to flatter enthusiasts and giving it a cold-as-ice revamp that doesn’t break the bank.

Subaru has refresh plans for the WRX next year, but that’s not to say it has finished playing with the current-gen model now. Latest in a series of special editions is the Series.White, which pair a spec’d out 2020 WRX and WRX STI with exclusive paint, fancy wheels, and some exclusivity.

The WRX STI Series.White is faster and more powerful, but I think the regular WRX version is the sweet spot. Its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine isn’t excessive: with 268 horsepower it may be the most potent of the WRX family, but that number is no longer outlandish. What that means, though, is a car you can feel you’re driving properly without instantly breaking every law in the book.

Would there be better cars to pick with a wide-open racetrack available to you? Sure, but the combination of that whining turbo pulling hard and Subaru’s sturdy and predictable six-speed makes for a playful escape from the lights without instantly throwing you into license-losing territory. Come the corners, meanwhile, and the sports suspension – with Bilstein dampers for the front inverted struts and rear double-wishbones – justifies its noticeable firmness.

Neat, and nimble, and fun. It’s a straightforward recipe, which makes you wonder why so many automakers have apparently forgotten it. The WRX Series.White’s handling is precise and agile; as communicative of the road as you could hope for. Standard all-wheel drive and torque vectoring flatter keen drivers and rescue the nervous.

Unlike the STI, the regular WRX escapes the adjustable center differential and other drive mode complexity. I’m sure there’s a certain audience out there who loves that ability to tinker, but it always just leaves me paranoid that I’ve foolishly overlooked the “perfect” settings I should’ve switched to. Better, then, to have the WRX’s like-it-or-lump-it singularity of purpose. It drives the way it drives, and that’s all you’re getting.

The Series.White car gets keyless entry and push-button start, LED fog lights, and steering responsive headlights. That’s nice for a WRX, though everyone else would be forgiven for just assuming every new car had them. The matte bronze 18-inch wheels offset the Ceramic White paint well, too, though I wish the WRX got the silver Brembo calipers of the WRX STI Series.White rather than the red. Then again, I prefer the smaller, subtler spoiler on the non-STI car, so I’ll accept the compromise.

There are the usual WRX foibles (to put it generously). Cabin quality and design feel a little last-generation, with plenty of hard plastics, and it’s hardly a quiet car: road noise and wind noise are more noticeable than you’d expect. The ultrasuede-trimmed Recaro seats are pleasant, and there’s lots of space in the cabin and trunk, but even with the red accents the interior feels dark. The fact that the standard Performance Package deletes the sunroof among its changes doesn’t help there.

Usually around about now is the time that I’d mention the WRX Series.White demands a few concessions to everyday life, or that its manual transmission might get a little frustrating on the typical commute, or that its stiffer suspension isn’t going to deliver the sort of supple ride passengers might appreciate. “Everyday life,” though, is pretty darn weird at the moment.

Living in a time of pandemic – social isolating in such a time – has left me feeling a little differently about cars, and I wouldn’t be surprised if others are feeling the same way. Suddenly “commuter friendly” seems less important when increasing numbers of people are working from home. Ride comfort starts to take a distant back seat to something that, on the rarer times that you actually do drive it, delivers a more engaging experience overall.

Look, I know we’re not going to be self-quarantining forever. Eventually the mundane A-to-B trips will resume; we’ll stop thinking about a run to the grocery store as a once-a-week-treat. Nonetheless, is it too much to think that we might end up with an appetite for something more interesting afterwards?

If so, we may need to act fast. “Enthusiast” cars – ones which truly leave you feeling connected to the drivetrain, as you do in the WRX Series.White – seems to be getting rarer. The Miata has stuck around, but not everyone can squeeze their regular lives into a two-seater. Sports crossovers are a growing category, but there are some times when only a nimble sedan will do.

At $33,995 (plus $900 destination) the 2020 WRX Series.White is less than the average new car purchase in the US last year. It’s also – with only 500 being made – going to be fairly rare. Subaru has no shortage of limited-editions in its back catalog, mind, so I’m not sure that will do anything for longer-term residuals.

There I go again, though, being all sensible about it. At the end of the day, you pay your money and you make your choice. Do you want a car that can put a smile on your face, one which positively encourages you to take it for a spin, or do you want another appliance in your life?

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2023 Cadillac Escalade V-Series confirmed: What we know of this Super SUV

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Cadillac’s most lavish model is about to get a sports upgrade, with the 2023 Escalade V-Series marking the first time the SUV has worn the badge. While already notorious for its scale, luxury cabin, and general excess, the V-Series flavor of Escalade will add performance to that mix.

Source: Cadillac

Full details of the 2023 Escalade V-Series won’t be shared until spring of this year, Cadillac has warned. These newly-released photos, meanwhile, show the pre-production form of the SUV. Still, it gives us plenty to go on, as does the trajectory of the V-Series line in general.

For Cadillac, V-Series is more than just speed

You can’t accuse Cadillac of underplaying just what a V-badged model can do. “With nearly two decades of racing-inspired prowess,” the automaker promises, “the V-Series designation is reserved for vehicles that encompass the peak of Cadillac performance, bold, distinguished design, and innovative technology.”

The route from V-Series’ founding in 2003 to today has seen a few big changes along the way. Initially intended as a way for Cadillac to compete with Mercedes-AMG and BMW’s M division, it debuted with the 2004 Cadillac CTS-V sports sedan. That managed to score a role in the original Matrix movie series, (specifically The Matrix Reloaded, released in 2003), helping secure the green-light for the second-generation V Series in 2009.

Cadillac stuck with a familiar strategy: big, high-horsepower V8 engines, paired with its Magnetic Ride Control system for a sedan that could flick from luxury cruiser to track hero at the push of a button. By the time the ATS-V arrived in 2015, however, the criteria had expanded. Smaller and more affordable than the third-generation CTS-V – which got the Corvette C7’s 6.2-liter LT4 V8 to play with – the ATS-V packed a twin-turbo V6.

Beyond that, Cadillac attempted to replicate what BMW and Mercedes had achieved, expanding “V” as a broader badge to indicate a more sporting – though not necessarily the most sporting – iteration of a regular model. It tried, and abandoned, the V-Sport trim, and has most recently settled on “V” badged models as being entry-level performance options. The CT5-V and CT4-V are the current examples of that.

Source: DW Burnett / Cadillac

Meanwhile, a new Blackwing designation flags the most extreme examples of V-Series performance. Initially referring to Cadillac’s new Blackwing engine, but since expanded, the trim has so far appeared on the CT4-V Blackwing and CT5-V Blackwing, each produced in limited number.

What we expect from the 2023 Cadillac Escalade V-Series

For the 2023 Escalade V-Series, the expectation is an evolution in performance rather than the outright leap that Blackwing badging would indicate. The current Escalade – now in its fifth-generation – already features a V8 engine as standard. That’s 6.2-liters in size and offers 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. A 10-speed automatic is standard.

2023 Cadillac Escalade V-Series

Source: Cadillac

They’re not small numbers, but then again the Escalade is not a small SUV. One possibility for an upgrade is the V8 from the CT5-V Blackwing, supercharged and with upwards of 600 horsepower on tap. Cadillac would obviously need to upgrade other components such as the brakes to balance that uptick in power, though Magnetic Ride suspension is already available on the SUV in its current form.

2023 Cadillac Escalade V-Series

Source: Cadillac

To better distinguish the V-Series truck visually, Cadillac has given it a moody makeover. The grille switches to black mesh, and most of the chrome has been deleted in favor of gloss-black trim. The bumpers front and rear, and the side sills, have been tweaked, and of course there are vast blacked-out wheels, too.

2023 Cadillac Escalade V-Series

Source: Cadillac

For the inside, Cadillac is playing it even more coy. A single image previews the “V” badging on the steering wheel, though we’d expect a fair amount of carbon fiber and Alcantara to feature, based on the other V-Series cars. The Escalade already offers a huge, curved dashboard display and plenty of space across three rows, not to mention a whole host of toys to play with.

2023 Cadillac Escalade V-Series

Source: Cadillac

As for 2023 Escalade V-Series pricing, there too Cadillac is saving full details. The current model spirals up to over $109k for the standard-length 4WD Sport Platinum trim, and that’s before you head into the options list. A six-figure V-Series is basically guaranteed, then, as Cadillac takes on well-esteemed (and well-equipped) performance SUVs from its German rivals.

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Brabus 800 Adventure XLP Superblack is taking it to the extreme

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Renowned Mercedes-Benz tuning house Brabus has unleashed its latest creation based on the Mercedes-AMG G63 sport-luxury SUV. It’s the newest variant of the 800 Adventure XLP Superblack, a go-anywhere pickup truck hiding a mighty powerful V8 engine under the hood.

Images: Brabus GmbH
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This Airstream eStream concept is an electric camper with an innovative twist

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Thor Industries, maker of the Airstream and other popular RVs, recently unveiled the eStream electric camper concept. It’s essentially a hi-tech Airstream travel trailer with some nifty innovations hiding underneath.

Images: Thor Industries
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