2016 Audi RS3 Sportback
It’s yet to be determined whether Canada will be getting the “Sportback” (a.k.a. wagon) model I drove in Austria this summer, but we are getting the RS3 in sedan form, and that is a very good thing. Powered by the same 2.5L five-cylinder turbo as the TT RS, and developing 367 horsepower and 343 lb-ft of torque, the RS3 pulls hard and sounds like the business. Quattro all-wheel drive, Audi’s S tronic seven-speed transmission and a kick-ass sporty interior with superbly bolstered seats means this is a driver’s car through and through. Like the Golf R variant, be sure to call out Audi Canada on bringing the wagon over so you can have your cake and eat it too.
2016 VW Golf Alltrack
Most vehicles couldn’t make it up this road, and most people wouldn’t even think of it, let alone call it one. But there we were, edging ever higher on an unmarked logging road on the side of a mountain in rural Germany, testing the off-road capabilities of the 2016 VW Golf Alltrack. Live up to its name it has, and come to Canada it will in fall 2016 as a 2017 model year. An homage to the Golf Country of the early ’90s, this modern spiritual successor boasts a 170-horsepower 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder, all-wheel drive, 20 millimetres of extra ground clearance and hill descent control. If there ever were a go-anywhere Golf, this is it.
2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Its trunk could probably swallow a Fiat 500, and it has two more doors and 306 litres more passenger volume than its Challenger SRT Hellcat stablemate. It has more horsepower and torque than the Viper SRT (707 hp/650 lb-ft versus 645/600), and gets from 0-100 km/h almost as fast (four versus 3.5 seconds). The eight-speed automatic is quick and smooth, and the Charger SRT Hellcat is just as capable of turning cold Pirellis into fire and brimstone as anything else on the market. Its bark is loud and bite is hard, and though it can turn on you like a cornered animal, even the most powerful production sedan in the world can putter around like grandma or grandpa on a Sunday morning after church. On the want meter, it’s a solid 7.5.
2015 Infiniti Q50 Limited
Infinitis continue to surprise me even though they shouldn’t since I’ve driven so many of them over the years. Yet, their high levels of sophistication and refinement, plus their superlative road manners and sleeper-esque performance win me over time and again. The 2015 Q50 Limited is no exception. Its smooth 3.7L V6 delivers 328 horses to the ATESSA E-TS all-wheel drive system through a seven-speed automatic with manual and downshift rev-matching modes. It coolly and calmly delivered a respectable 10.1 L/100 km over my 170-kilometre test, and the optional deluxe touring and technology package made sure the kitchen sink was along for the ride, too.
2015 Infiniti QX60 3.5 AWD
It was completely and hopelessly covered in dead bugs following the drive to Montreal for the 2015 Canadian Grand Prix, but that didn’t stop this utility vehicle from being any less luxurious. The rear entertainment system kept my young son smiling at the sights and sounds of Lightning McQueen and Minions for hours while the Bose premium sound system kept the wife and I happy up front. Quiet, comfortable, smooth and efficient, the QX60’s 265-hp 3.5L V6 delivered an impressive 10.9 L/100 km over the course of the 1,200-km road trip. Even the electronically-controlled CVT impressed along with the around view monitor with moving object detection and sonar system.