Warning: include(/home/content/a/d/a/adamkazmeta/html/wp-content/plugins/wp-super-cache/wp-cache-base.php) [function.include]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/content/21/6196721/html/wp-content/plugins/wp-super-cache/wp-cache.php on line 65

Warning: include() [function.include]: Failed opening '/home/content/a/d/a/adamkazmeta/html/wp-content/plugins/wp-super-cache/wp-cache-base.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/local/php5/lib/php') in /home/content/21/6196721/html/wp-content/plugins/wp-super-cache/wp-cache.php on line 65

Warning: include_once(/home/content/a/d/a/adamkazmeta/html/wp-content/plugins/wp-super-cache/ossdl-cdn.php) [function.include-once]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/content/21/6196721/html/wp-content/plugins/wp-super-cache/wp-cache.php on line 82

Warning: include_once() [function.include]: Failed opening '/home/content/a/d/a/adamkazmeta/html/wp-content/plugins/wp-super-cache/ossdl-cdn.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/local/php5/lib/php') in /home/content/21/6196721/html/wp-content/plugins/wp-super-cache/wp-cache.php on line 82
Reviews Archives - DrivingScene

Archive | Reviews

The Pocket Rocket CLA AMG

Tags: , , , , ,

The Pocket Rocket CLA AMG

Posted on 11 August 2014 by Adam Kaslikowski

Red 2014 Mercedes CLA AMG

I think I finally agree that size isn’t everything. The CLA AMG taught me that. This little pocket rocket has more than enough oomph to make up for its diminutive dimensions. How much oomph (being the technical term)? Try 355hp. Try 332lb-ft. And while you’re at it, try 0-60 in 4.4 seconds. With all that in mind, tell me again why you need a monster V-17 engine planted amidships of your hyper exotic Italian thoroughbred.

The CLA is Merc’s latest attempt to create an entry-level vehicle that will get “the youths” interested in buying their cars. And its working – the CLA has proven to be a bit hit for them both commercially and image-wise. With the CLA flying off the shelves, it was only natural that a more potent, more upscale, and more expensive version would follow it up. Enter this AMG that I am flogging around the congested streets and scenic canyons of Los Angeles. This is the CLA lineup’s top dog, at least until the mental patients running AMG come out with a CLA Black…

There is very little to differentiate the looks of a standard CLA to its AMG big brother. A spoiler here, a winglet there, and some chrome badging. And that’s a real shame, because I want to be noticed in this car. It’s the top-of-the-line CLA, and only the driver ever knows that. But perhaps that is enough for less ego-driven individuals than I.

One difference the AMG does have going for it, and one that never failed to elicit stares and attention, is its fantastic primal exhaust bark on upshifts. I got it all worked out during my time with this car: throw the driving mode into Sport, plant your foot, and listen in awe as it shoots off absolutely addictive spurts of sonic joy. Every time you get to redline, you are rewarded for your childish irresponsibility with a little sample of hell and brimstone. Love it.

In fact, one of my major complaints about the CLA AMG is that this hedonistic orchestra is not more available. I want to hear these outbursts of noise and fire all over the place, not just when I’m going full throttle on any stretch of deserted asphalt I can find. Yes, I want to be spoiled with this noise at any time I wish. Other than that, its a fantastic little ride. The seats were fairly firm and grew tiresome after several hours of driving around town, but these are sports seats for a sports car. The interior oozes Mercedes quality (and quirks), and the ride was decently complaint and comfortable. My gas mileage was pretty bad, but that was my fault as I was always chasing after those upshift barks. I’ll happily take the blame for that one. The AMG does even come with an ECO driving mode, but I could never last more than 20min in that before my inner 10 year old took over and started racing between lights.

And that is what this car is all about. The CLA AMG is about dominating the city streets. It is about crushing your enemies, seeing them driven before you, and hearing the lamentations of their women. It is also about having an absolute rocket that you can still get a prime front spot from the local restaurant valet. This is indeed an all-rounder, and if you have the means I highly recommend it.

Comments (0)

Moonshot – The 2015 Audi A3

Tags: , , , ,

Moonshot – The 2015 Audi A3

Posted on 17 March 2014 by Adam Kaslikowski

Red 2015 Audi A3 Sedan Front

The old Audi A3 was a solid car, in fact we drove the 2014 A3 TDI and liked it quite a lot. But the luxury A-segment is different now, the Mercedes CLA has seen to that. Luxury automakers are moving away from “entry-level” models that skimp on the features to get new buyers into the brand. Instead, they are responding to the public demand for smaller yet still luxurious cars from the top marques. Audi has heard this demand loud and clear – as well as the CLA breathing down their necks – and launched a comprehensive redesign of the A3 in an effort to win this “space race” of capturing the small luxury market. And like the real space race, while the CLA pulled a Sputnik and got up there first, the A3 has loftier ambitions than just orbit.

Audi has been able to thoroughly reconceptualize the 2015 A3 by starting from scratch. Gone is the entry-level feel, gone is the inoffensive styling, and gone is the hatchback design. In their place we find acres of leather and premium materials, an aggressive new look, and a traditional (if rakish) sedan format. In reality, this all-new A3 isn’t an A3 at all, it’s a pint-sized A6. Every surface and driving characteristic transmits the sensations belonging to a much pricier ride. Your only clues as to its, shall we say “limited” price point are the shrunken cabin space and sporty ride characteristics

This is not a vehicle I would necessarily relish a cross-country blast in – the ride is far too harsh for that. But that is not what the 2015 Audi A3 was built for. It was build for the young and well-to-do. The tech CEO or engineer. The marketing manager or sales all star. This A3 was built for an increasingly urban demographic, and it shows. The ride isn’t plush, but it sure is sporty. Zipping in and out of lanes, around buses or cyclists, and scoring the smallest parking spots is what this car is all about.

The A3 is also all about cutting a stylish line with it’s new body. Gone are the flat slabs of the outgoing model, and in their place we find impossibly sharp creases and folds that would not be out of place on a Lamborghini. Every design element on this vehicle has been focused to portray a natural and animalistic athleticism. The side creases, particularly with the darker shades of paint, grab your eye and force it backward towards the prominent rear wheel while also angling the entire car forward as if it is about to pounce.

This 2015 Audi A3 is certainly a different breed from its predecessors. More luxurious, more refined, and thoroughly more polished. Is it enough to capture the momentum away from the CLA? Only sales will tell, but they are thoroughly different cars and anyone cross-shopping between these two will decide their camp based on that dichotomy. The CLA is all fashion and of the now, while the A3 is more timeless style and slow burning. I highly suspect that this new A3 will do quite well for Audi, and of course for those lucky enough to buy one.

Comments (0)

Don’t Turn Off the BMW i3 While You’re Driving It

Tags: , , , ,

Don’t Turn Off the BMW i3 While You’re Driving It

Posted on 13 February 2014 by Adam Kaslikowski

Orange 2014 BMW i3 Exterior

If you ever find yourself in a BMW i3 learn from my mistake and don’t suddenly turn it off while you’re in the middle of a busy street. Now, I’m not an idiot – okay, I probably am but try and remember that you’re on my side here – I didn’t know I was turning it off. Let me spin you the story:

BMW was kind enough to host a driving event for their new i3 in the heart of Las Vegas recently. Unlike most of the journosaurs who were assembled, the DrivingScene crew chose to forgo the cargo shorts and leather sandals look. Perhaps that’s why our careers have suffered so unjustly.  We ignored veiled attempts at small talk from people named Daren, quickly grabbed the key fob for a sunburst orange tester, and jumped in. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in the i3 (you can read our full i3 review on our sister site FactoryTwoFour) but that doesn’t mean that we almost didn’t break it. In fact, whenever the team here enjoys a new vehicle it usually winds up broken.

Within the first two miles of the driving loop BMW had put us on, I had already started pushing as many buttons in the cabin as I possibly could with these fat sausage fingers. Radio, check. Climate control, check. Storage compartments, check. Stop/Start? Now that’s got to go. I hate stop/start tech, especially on a limited test drive. Now, the smarter of you will quickly whisper confusingly to your screen, “but electric cars don’t need stop/start…” Congrats, you’re smart! Smarter than me! In my defense, I jump in and out of so many new test cars that they all kind of blend together.

Regardless, I’m in the middle of traffic a few streets over from the strip and I jab the Start/Stop labelled button so violently that you’d be sure it insulted my lineage. IMMEDIATELY the i3 starts shuttering and jolting forward, all while making the wost possible combination of groan and whine you can imagine. After a few seconds of riding a bucking BMW, I’m stopped dead in the middle of the street with a line of cars piling up behind me. HIT THE BUTTON AGAIN screams through my brain milliseconds after I realize the button is the exact same one the BMW handler had told me to press to start the car when we first got in. I told you, you’re smarter than me.

Now, I’m from LA so as the cars stack up behind me I’m mentally preparing to ignore the symphony of horns that should soon begin blaring at me. And to the credit of Las Vegas residents, not a single horn was sounded that day. Perhaps they knew I already felt and knew I was/am a complete ass.

Ass or not, the Start/Stop button isn’t working and I’m loosing my mind. Park! The i3 needs to be back in Park before I can turn it on! Okay, so now the challenge is to remember where the hell the gear selector is. I grabbed the turkey leg-like selector jutting out of the steering column and selected Park by basically giving a repeated thumbs-up to the silver tab that serves as the button for such things. In Park, I again try the Stop/Start button and wait what feels like 30 years for the startup sequence of lights and sounds to complete before I again flick the selector towards me now and get this damn tub into Drive.

Still no honks. Miraculous. Perhaps I’m all wrong about Vegas and it’s actually the friendliest place on earth… I’m under motion now and the trail of tears I have produced is dissolving as we all move forward. I swear to you when I looked in my rearview mirror I saw a smile on the lady behind me. And not a “oh good” smile, no it was definitely a “I think I’m following a mentally disabled person, perhaps I should give him a wide berth” smile.

If you don’t want to see that smile for yourself, learn from me. Leave the Stop/Start button alone while you’re driving. And who says this site isn’t educational?

Comments (0)

Introducing The Wolf, DrivingScene’s Custom Cafe Racer

Tags: , , , ,

Introducing The Wolf, DrivingScene’s Custom Cafe Racer

Posted on 02 December 2013 by Adam Kaslikowski

Wolf Cleveland Misfit Cafe

The motorcycle world is all about hierarchies. Scooter and mopeds are on the bottom, small displacement bikes are next up, followed by crotch rockets and finally big interstate cruisers on top. At least that’s the hierarchy by a majority of the population here in the states. And while a massive fully chromed Harley may not be for everyone, woe be to the rider who opts for any displacement below 500cc. You do that, and you’ve gotten yourself a “learner bike” or better yet, a child’s motorcycle.

But some of us riders are tired of the big is best attitude. We don’t need to tackle 200 miles at a time or have enough power to tow a small yacht. Those of us who see through the fog of displacement can attest to the nimbleness and ease of driving a smaller motor machine. The city is no friend to cruiser bikes. Amongst traffic and blind corners, you need a fully toss-able machine that will instantly respond to your inputs. And don’t think for a moment that these are the same engines as they were in the 80’s. Advancements in engine design now mean that even 250’s have plenty of getup to tear away at the lights and make it up any hill you feel like throwing it after.

Thus we arrive at Cleveland Cyclewerks, and their Misfit. And while the proper name of their bike is “Tha Misfit,” I steadfastly refuse to cooperate with the company’s assault on the English language, and thus “Tha” shall never again be repeated in this piece. I feel I can make this kind of stand because not only have I ridden this particular Misfit, I’m the owner.

Harleys and Vulcans have never held much sway with me, and my parents are still married so an overcompensating sport bike was out as well. Like many other young urbanites, however, I was drawn to the lightweight, minimalist, and do-it-yourself attitude of café racers. So much so that I bought an old Kawasaki KZ650 and stripped it down to its bare essentials and café’d it out.

Alas, The Bastard as it came to be known never spent much time on the road. A victim of both its advanced age and my own fat-fingered attempts at engine repair, she eventually moved off to a more competent owner. This left a café-shaped hole in my heart and life. After not too long I began searching for a not a replacement per se, for nothing could replace The Bastard, but a new bike. I diligently scoured through Craigslist cafes, but nothing was as good as what was envisioned in my mind. I tested out the requisite Triumph Thruxton and T100 and found them too heavy and ponderous. While the power on tap was excellent for straight point-and-squirt shots, it was overkill for the three-mile commute I wanted it for.
So I test-drove a Cleveland Cyclewerks Misfit. Now here was a machine for a city commute. Nimble, plenty of passing power, and narrow enough to navigate through tight situations. I was sold. I placed a call to Vegas Cyclewerks, arguably the best Cleveland dealer in the country, and placed my order for a 2014 Misfit.

Now as I said before, I had a vision. I knew the bike I wanted, and the stock Misfit was just a starting point.  233 Customs, which has extensive and well-received experience customizing Cleveland bikes was tipped to manifest my vision in metal and leather.
The build started with a veritable Christmas list of performance parts from the Cleveland SpeedShop: 38 tooth rear sprocket for a higher top speed, cone air filter, a Weaver Rides racing carburetor, EK chain, and best of all the Weaver Rides upgraded head with new valves and springs. All these were to be installed as soon as the bike was delivered and while the tins were across the country getting painted.

Old Skool Kustom Painting was ever the only choice considered for painting duties. This Ohio shop takes care of all of Cleveland Cyclewerks in-house custom builds, and no one is more qualified or experienced on these bikes. They received a care package of all the bike’s tins soon after it arrived at 233 Customs and immediately set to work stripping them down and marking the layout. For safety’s sake we picked up a now-out-of-production Nolan café helmet and had that painted to match the tins.

While Old Skool busied itself with color pallets, what remained of the bike was fitted with a spare fuel tank and carted off to Las Vegas DynoTech. Here the enlarged carbs were tuned and a custom trumpet exhaust was fitted. After the dyno experts were done the Misfit saw a 25% increase in horsepower and a 20% increase in torque, as well as flatter power curve.

To showcase the added oomph, 233 Customs fitted a slew of cosmetic upgrades including the requisite clubman bars, exhaust wrap, and a lithium-ion battery that is roughly one-quarter the size of a standard bike battery. This allowed us to relocate the battery and electronics into a small cubby directly below the seat and open up the center of the bike. Even without tins, this thing was starting to look true café now.

To finish off the look, Liberty Customs carved the original seat down to a flatter profile and Vegas Croc wrapped the whole affair in new upgraded black leather. Around the time the electronics were relocated and bike tuned, the tins were polished up and shipped back for final assembly. Once the bike was all within the same zip code again, it took a scant hour to reassemble the beast and fire her up.

The build was complete and the work was done.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to The Wolf

She is a fast, loud, and nimble café tailor made to carve up the LA concrete jungle. While it is still a small bike and I’d never wish a cross-state run with it upon my worst enemy, with the engine upgrades and tuning this one-cylinder is not wanting for power. I’m blowing off cars and even bigger bikes at the lights, and everyone left behind is generally quite deafened. This exhaust is seriously loud. Setting off car alarms, waking the neighbors, angering cyclists kind of loud. Enemies have already been made, and that makes me smile.

Beyond staying ahead of traffic, The Wolf really lives to blast through corners. This thing weighs less than a Chihuahua, so momentum or sway never disrupt your line. Look through the corner, lean the bike, and she goes right were you wanted. No extra input, no adjustments, just right the first time. Let the bigger bikes roar along the canyon straights then frantically paw at their brakes in anticipation of the corners. The Wolf doesn’t even need to brake. Let off the throttle, roll into the turn, then bring that engine back to life and pass the Triumph boys by.

The Wolf was built to cut and weave, to get me around LA as quickly and stylishly as possible. In all that, it performs with aplomb. I’d like to thank everyone who helped make this bike a reality, including Cleveland Cyclewerks, Vegas Cyclewerks, 233 Customs, Old Skool Kustom Painting, Vegas DynoTech, Liberty Customs, Vegas Croc, and Julie Bergonz.

See you all on the road.


– Adam Kaslikowski

Comments (0)

This Was the First Car in Hip Hop

Tags: , , , , ,

This Was the First Car in Hip Hop

Posted on 12 November 2013 by Adam Kaslikowski

first car in hip hop

Bugatti, Bentley, and Ferrari are the toast of the hip-hop world. Jay-Z is partial to Maybachs, while Nicki Minaj is rather fond of her hot-pink Lamborghini Aventador. High-ticket rides go hand in hand with the bigger-than-life personas that rap stars cultivate for themselves. And while braggadocio has been with hip hop from the very beginning, the cars featured were not always so exotic.

When rap first transitioned from underground parties to recorded music in the late 70’s, America was knee-deep in malaise era cars. Times were tough if you were an aspiring rhymer, and you couldn’t just pick up a new Porsche. Not that a sissy German car would have done to represent your flow on the streets. No, the first rappers needed something with style, bling, and above all, presence.

In 1979, it was hard to find something with more presence than Detroit iron. Masses of chrome, corduroy bench seats, and hoods longer than some modern cars – these rides had all an MC would ever need. And while Cadillac and Chrysler certainly had cars with class, it was the Lincoln Continental that was the first to be dropped in a hip hop record.

The year is 1979, Sugarhill Gang is the group, and Rapper’s Delight is the 7” single. While not the first recorded rap song, and certainly not the first ever performed, Rapper’s Delight was the first to brag about cars on a record. In fact, Big Bank Hank couldn’t wait to spit out his love of the big Conti in his first verse  – “I got a Lincoln Continental and a sunroofed Cadillac.” Obviously, Cadillac didn’t have to wait long to get into the rap game – a scant three words after the Continental.

It’s not hard to see why the Lincoln was the first car in rap. When new, the Continental was nicer than my current apartment, and handled almost as well. Miles of sheetmetal, steering like a cruise ship, and suspension that acted more like a waterbed – these 1970’s land yachts were end-all-be-all in American luxury. Today, Lincoln’s are still peppered into rap lyrics by Frank Ocean, Macklemore, Kanye and more. Whether this is out of a sincere love of boat-like Detroit steel or if they are simply keeping the tradition alive is not for me to say…


– Adam Kaslikowski

Comments (0)

The Jaguar F-Type V8S Is An Apex Predator

Tags: , , , , ,

The Jaguar F-Type V8S Is An Apex Predator

Posted on 08 October 2013 by Adam Kaslikowski

Silver Jaguar F-Type V6 Driving

This has never happened before. I’ve been in some epic cars. I’ve been in fast cars. I’ve been in nice cars. And I’ve certainly been in loud cars. The Mercedes C63 AMG, the SRT Viper, a Shelby 427 Cobra replica. But I have never, NEVER, driven a ride so ferocious and loud that the sound echoes off nearby hills and mountains. The Jaguar F-Type V8S is just such a vehicle. Hit the jump to continue reading… Continue Reading

Comments (0)

DrivingScene Movie Review: Rush

Tags: , , , , , ,

DrivingScene Movie Review: Rush

Posted on 19 September 2013 by Adam Kaslikowski

Rush Review

Ron Howard’s Rush isn’t out till this weekend, but we’ve grabbed an early premier so that we could tell you – our gentle and attractive readers – whether it is worth your time. Was the famed director capable of truly capturing the intense rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda? Did filming with the actual 1970’s F1 cars make the movie better? Is there life-affirming nudity? We’ll get to all that…

Rush was Ron Howard’s pet project to showcase what the “golden era” of F1 was all about. Loud cars, fast parties, and spectacular crashes were all a part of the racing scene then, and are heavily featured here. Those of us who have only ever seen the perfectly manicured and polished modern version of F1 are unused to imaging racing drivers publicly drinking before a race, routinely talking smack during a press conference, or going up in balls of flames. Oh yeah, that was another huge part of F1 in those days. The cars were basically bombs on wheels, made of thin aluminum and with regard given to driver safety. This fact plays a crucial part in our story as any student of F1 history knows. We won’t ruin anything for you here if you don’t the historical story yet, but suffice to say you really didn’t want to be a driver back then.

So enough stalling – here’s the review:

It was good.

Oh, you want more? If you insist… It’s not as historical as Senna, or gives you as good of an idea of all the players and their personalities. But much like Senna, Rush revolves around the rivalry between 2 men at the top of their performance. Howard does a great job of showcasing the different styles and private lives of Lauda and Hunt, and details what drove each man to risk his life racing around in circles. It was not a great film, or even a great racing film, but a solid one worth seeing for any gearhead who wants to fill in their F1 history a bit. Also, there’s boobies and Chris Hemsworth’s naked butt in the film so whatever your proclivities you should be covered.

Go see it, you’ll enjoy it.


-Adam Kaslikowski

Comments (0)