This Months Letter From Europe - Real Super Cars In Monaco, In Smoky CA: Super Cadillac CT5-V, Super Subaru Wilderness and Super Kia Carnival
By Andrew Frankl
European Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
There might be floods, there might be revolutions there might be fires in the Sierras but there is one place in the World where you would know never know there is anything wrong with the World. Ever. That place of course in Monaco, the tiny Principality on the Med.
There is of curse the famous Grand Prix but even when there is isn’t a race the place is still buzzing. On a recent whislestop tour I found two Bugatti Veyrons from Dubai and a Rolls from Russia.
There were too many Ferrari's to count and there were more Porsche's than VWs. 7 times World Champion’s new Pagani caused a bit of a stir but with all this exotica it was just another supercar.
Coming back to Earth I had a perfectly lovely time in Cadillac’s CT5-V. Very nicely finished and with an excellent speed gearbox it was and is a worthy competitor to BMW, Mercedes and Audi.
Just as I finished the road test came the bombshell announcement: Caddy are releasing a 668 horsepower rocket with a manual gearbox! Having recently had the best time in Caddy’s Corvette which stopped the traffic where ever I went this new Caddy shows that the company are very aware of the competition and are doing something about it.
AMG and M series are what the boys in Detroit have been testing before releasing this automobile. I am sure there is already a waiting list the length of the Mulsanne straight so you’d better hurry up if you would like to get one. Probably the most desirable Caddy with four seats ever. But you’d better practice your stick shift, I am astonished how few youngsters are familiar with it. This Caddy is for big boys and big girls only.
Nothing could be more different from the quick Caddy than Subaru’s recent offering called the Wilderness. Or to give it’s full name the Subaru Outback Wilderness. But before I talk about the Wilderness I have to pay tribute to Subaru for being a very grown-up company. I gave them a pretty hard time recently but instead of stopping me from having test cars they agreed to let me have the Wilderness.
The Outback goes back to 1994 but has improved considerably since. For a start it has a 9.3 inch ground clearance which helps off road considerably. I was also very impressed by the safety features. My personal bugbear the reflection in the mirror has been fixed and something else I very much approved of. Instead of tiny little warning signs inside the mirror the Wilderness now has a solid yellow warning light-impossible to miss. The Yokohama tries were specially designed to cope with off road conditions, consequently I found them floating on the recently resurfaced I-280. Nothing dramatic but noticeable.
The 11.6 inch infotainment center is not too brilliant, truth be told I‘ve yet to find a perfect one.
The price of the Wilderness is exceptional valued at 36 thousand dollars, highly recommended.
Just as I was writing about Subaru came an e mail from the company’s Product Public Relations Manager Todd Hill to say that the much criticized Forester Sport vents have been revised to black. Made my day, good to know that if criticism is valid companies react. Good of Todd to let me know.
KIA’s Carnival is an oddity. It is trying to be all things to all people and in a funny way it succeeds. You want your Mother in Law to sleep in the back you just press a button and hey presto you have a fully reclining bed in row 2. You want quiet children? You drop off Mum in Law at home, pop in the kids who will be totally silent as they will be watching videos on the installed tablets.
The price range is from 32 thousand dollars up and it has some amazing features. The KIA blind sport monitor is quite unique and must have saved hundreds of lives I am talking about cyclist who always come off worse.
The 12.3 inch navigation system is one of the better ones but still has some way to go although to be fair it does offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which you integrate. I love the fact that the Carnival has 9 USB charging ports to avoid loud rows between kids, when one child is charging so another one can’t.
290 horsepower is all right although fully laden-and there is a lot of room-something around 350 would have been nice to have.
What always blows my socks off with KIA is their supreme confidence by offering a 10-year 100,000 mile warranty. An industry best without doubt. As the price range goes from 32 to 46 thou do go to a dealer to see what it is that you need and what it is what you don’t. 14 thousand dollars is a lot to pay for things you won’t need. An excellent product, well worth a trip to the local dealer.
Thats it for this months letter from Europe...stay well stay safe.