Photos by Doug Berger
Portland, Oregon ? Each year one of the automotive writer?s groups I belong to, the Northwest Automotive Press Association (NWAPA), has an event we call ?Run to the Sun.? This year the members who organized the program out-did themselves by signing up 25 outstanding cars, with a total value of $2.3 million, for the drive program.
The first day of the drive started in Portland and went through the Cascade Mountain forests and lava fields to spend the night in the western-themed town of Sisters, Oregon on the east side of the Cascades. The second day the drive went further east into Oregon?s expansive high desert area stopping in places like Shaniko and Maupin before returning down the Columbia River Gorge to Portland.
Each automotive journalist drove each car about 15 to 20 miles before stopping and switching to the next one in the rotation, before finally driving all 25 cars. Here?s the basic information and pricing on each car in alphabetical order, along with a quick observation about each:
2014 Fiat 500C Abarth Cabrio
1.4-liter MultiAir turbocharged four-cylinder, 160-hp, 170-lb.ft. of torque, five-speed manual transmission, front-wheel drive. 0 to 60 mph 6.7 seconds. 28/34 mpg.
Base price $26,095 plus $800 destination charge. This car had seven options including premium audio, TomTom navigation and forged 17-inch wheels. Price as tested $31,704.
The Fiat 500C Abarth Cabrio is in a class by itself compared to this group. As the smallest car in the drive, it was also one of the most entertaining to drive because it has good acceleration and it goes around corners like it is running on rails. One of the best sensations is the Abarth exhaust system which makes it sound even faster. The convertible top can be opened or closed at speed up to 60 mph.
2014 Ford Fiesta ST Hatchback
1.6-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder, 197-hp, 202-lb.ft. of torque, six-speed manual transmission, front-wheel drive. 0 to 60 6.7 seconds. 26/35 mpg.
Base price is $21,400 with $795 destination charge. Paint (Molten Orange Metallic), Recaro seats, navigation and wheels took the price as tested to $29,955.
Barb and I did a full review on this car a few weeks ago. You can read it at https://ourautoexpert.com/2014-ford-fiesta-st-test-drive/. As we wrote in the review, we were expecting it to be a cute little economy car but were surprised to find a car that drove more like a rally car.
2014 Honda Civic Si Coupe
2.4-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder, 205-hp, 174-lb.ft. of torque, six-speed manual transmission, front-wheel drive. 0 to 60 mph 6.5 seconds. 22/31 mpg.
Base price $22,990 plus $790 destination charge. No options, other than color. Price as tested $23,780.
It had been some time since I?d last driven a Civic Si and I had forgotten what an entertaining car it is to drive. The Honda i-VTEC technology gives it that extra boost at higher engine RPMs and it has one of the industries nicest shifting transmissions. The car is perfectly balanced and is exciting to drive as any of rear drive sports cars.
2015 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 Sedan
3.8-liter V-6, 311-hp, 293-lb.ft. of torque, eight-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive (it?s also available with all-wheel drive as a $2,500 option). 0 to 60 mph 5.9 seconds, 18/29 mpg.
Base price $38,000 plus $950 destination charge. No options. Price as tested $38,950. Hyundai does offer three option packages, which combined add $11,300, to this already well equipped model. The three add an astonishing array of comfort and technology features.
The Hyundai Genesis sedan is one of those cars that continues to amaze me. If you blocked out the name most drivers would think it was built by one of the big-name German brands. The build quality is first rate, as is styling, performance and handling. Barbara and I recently reviewed the Genesis at?https://ourautoexpert.com/hyundai-genesis-3-8-test-drive/.
2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe
5.0-liter supercharged V-8 engine, 550-horsepower, 502-lb.ft. of torque, eight-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive. 0 to 60 mph 3.8 seconds. 16/23 mpg.
Base price $99,000 plus $925 destination charge. Four options, including a glass roof and Vision Package took the price as tested to $103,975.
Jaguar is again building some of the best sports cars in the world and the F-Type is a perfect example. From its racing heritage to its impeccable pedigree the two-passenger F-Type is what a high performance sports car should be. Read my full review of the F-Type at https://ourautoexpert.com/2015-jaguar-f-type-coupe-my-first-drive/.
2015 Kia K900 Sedan
5.0-liter V-8, 420-hp and 376-lb.ft. of torque, eight-speed automatic transmission and, rear-wheel drive. 0 to 60 mph 5.5 seconds. 18/27 mpg.
Base price $59,500 plus $900 destination charge. Options included the VIP Package of Smart Cruise Control, Advanced Vehicle Safety Management, Power latches, 12.3-inch instrument cluster, head-up display, surround view monitor, rear seat power enhancements and several other features for $6,000. The price as tested was $66,400.
The Kia K900 has nearly the same features, comfort, performance and styling as the famous and very expensive luxury sedans for $15,000 to $30,000 less. I think of the K900 as a thinking man?s (or woman?s) luxury sedan ? or someone that isn?t enamored with brand names. Barbara and I will have a full review of the Kia K900 available at www.iVeho.com in a couple of weeks.
Lexus IS-F Sedan
5.0-liter V-8, 416-hp, 371-lb.ft. of torque, eight-speed automatic transmission, Brembo brakes and rear-wheel drive. 0 to 60 mph 4.7 seconds. 16/23 mpg.
Base price $63,350 plus $910 destination charge. Options on the event car included a hard disk drive navigation system, with backup camera, Lexus Enform, a variety of entertainment and concierge services and an intuitive park assist with front and rear sensors. The price as tested was $67,419.
The Lexus IS-F is one of those high performance cars that seems to get lost in the crowd of German muscle cars. But like Lexus did with the luxury models, I expect them to carve out a well-deserved performance niche. The IS-F is a sophisticated sport sedan that offers the driver a high level of performance and road handling ability along with a refined demeanor and a great sounding exhaust note.
2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring Roadster
2.0-liter, 167-hp, 140-lb.ft. of torque, six-speed manual transmission and rear-wheel drive. 0 to 60 mph 6.6 seconds. 21/28 mpg.
Base price $29,450 plus $795 destination charge. Our event car had the power retractable hard top ? a cloth top is standard on some models. Options included theSuspension Premium and Appearance packages. Price as tested was $32,935.
Mazda?s roadster is celebrating its silver (25th) anniversary this year, and even with that long run it?s still the top rated affordable sports car in the world. It also happens to be the World?s Best Selling Roadster according the Guinness records. Surprisingly, even with our outstanding fleet of Run to the Sun vehicles, the MX-5 Miata was one of the most talked about vehicles at the event because of its excellent handling. It might be nice to have a bunch more horsepower, but the character of this car is perfect. Barbara and I reviewed it a short time ago at https://ourautoexpert.com/mazda-mx-5-miata-test-drive/.
2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 Sedan
3.0-liter bi-turbo V-6, 329-hp, 354-lb.ft. of torque, seven-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. 0 to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds. 21/29 mpg.
Base price $48,590 plus $925 destination charge. The C400 Monroney included 10 options which added a special color, Parktronic, panoramic sunroof, air suspension package, along with interior, lighting, multimedia, hands-free access and driver assist package. The price as tested was $63,705.
The Mercedes C-Class is all new for 2015 and it?s obviously moved up in size, elegance and sophistication from the previous model, and to distance itself from the new entry-level Mercedes CLA. The result is an exceptional sport sedan which includes many traits from the amazing S550 but in a compact package. I especially like the beautiful new dash.
Check www.iveho.com for Run to the Sun ? Part 3