All posts by Chris Szczypala

The All-Wheel Drive BMW M4 Is a Stroke of Genius

By Chris Perkens

A Grey BMW M4 racing on trackThe idea of an all-wheel drive M3 and M4 seemed like another sign of BMW losing its touch. It’s something we, and others, have accused the brand of for some time, and somehow, the combination of the M3/M4’s, erm, controversial styling with a driven front axle was yet more evidence. The only problem is that the M4 Competition xDrive is a fabulous car, and all the better for having four driven wheels.

BMW M’s unique all-wheel drive system debuted with the current M5 in 2017, and it’s impressively flexible. An electronically controlled clutch pack sends torque to the front axle very quickly, as needed. The normal 4WD setting most judiciously engages those front wheels—though it remains rear biased—while 4WD Sport allows for a bit more oversteer without ditching the safety net. There’s also a 2WD mode, which is convenient when theoretically, it starts raining, the track goes cold, you notice a big empty skid pad, and figure it’s just as easy to stay dry in an M4 as it is a paddock building.

The M4’s ability to decouple the front axle is amusing, but what it does when all four wheels receive power from its 503-hp twin-turbo ‘six is impressive. Few all-wheel drive cars are so well sorted on track. Whether in 4WD or 4WD Sport, the system is totally seamless, with no push on entry or in mid-corner, and incredible traction on corner exit. Easy speed is the name of the game here, and on the Monticello Motor Club’s North circuit during our 2022… CONTINUE READING

Toyota’s GR 86 is NO JOKE!

By Richard Williams

Revving up for a fresh ride? You’ve visited the right lifestyle site. We here at stupidDOPE crave the road’s grip just like the rest of you speed freaks. We couldn’t have been more hyped to touch down in upstate New York to kick it with Toyota to rip up the track at Monticello Motor Club in the all new 2022 GR86 Premium.

Speeding off the track for 2022, the cult classic 86 proudly adorns the coveted GR badge after improvements and stringent track testing by the Toyota Gazoo Racing team. The GR 86 touts it’s agile handling and low center of gravity, making it a purist’s sports car that is redesigned with a race-inspired interior and driver-centric amenities that make it readily revved for both the track and beyond. Simply put, the GR 86 is a purpose-built vehicle with a coupe mentality that offers everyday drivability to the masses. Let’s do a deeper dive on the features of this badass ride.

Two grades are available, the GR 86 and GR 86 Premium in choice of manual or automatic transmission. Continue reading

High Octane and a Stick Shift: Standout Cars as an Era Starts to End

Hitting the road and track with Cadillac’s roaring Blackwings, a Porsche 911 GTS and the rare BMW M2 CS.

By Lawrence Ulrich

For speed demons — or demons wedded to hellacious fossil-fuel power — the Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing checks off quite a list. A supercharged, 668-horsepower V-8. A top speed above 200 miles an hour. All-day track thrills that would leave any E.V. depleted and gasping, as demonstrated on my endorphin-rushing test laps at Virginia International Raceway.

Another feature pushed the Blackwing into too-good-to-be-true territory: a manual transmission. That optional six-speed puts these supersedans (there’s also a smaller Blackwing, the CT4-V) in rare company. Fewer than 1 percent of American cars are sold with a stick.

The Blackwings are also among models that have a gasoline engine and manual transmission…Continue reading.

Auto review: 2022 Toyota GR 86 is a truly fun sports car. But is it really a Toyota?

By Larry Printz

MONTICELLO, N.Y. — Having just taken the top two spots at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last month, Toyota’s Gazoo Racing team has much to be proud of. It’s taken years to achieve, and it’s a testament to Toyota’s engineering and manufacturing acumen. Knowing that, it’s quite remarkable that the company doesn’t design or manufacture its own sports cars. Mazda, a car company a fraction of Toyota’s size, can afford to do so. So can Nissan. Yet Toyota’s sports cars are actually designed and manufactured by other automakers. The question remains: Why?

Toyota will say it’s hard to be profitable given the market’s small size. And so it has turned to Subaru, which engineers and manufactures their BRZ sports coupe for use as the 2022 Toyota GR 86. Toyota supplies the design and tweaks to the chassis here and there. So, Toyota does have a hand in its development. Continue reading.

Test drive: The Toyota GR 86 is a sports car survivor

By Gary Gastelu

The Toyota GR 86 is an unlikely survivor of a dying breed and all the better for it.

It’s the latest version of a model that was first launched in 2013 as the Scion FR-S and became the Toyota 86 in 2017 when the Scion brand was discontinued.

It’s never been a big seller, but has persevered in part because Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda is a performance car fanatic who understands the value of having cars like it and the rebooted GR Supra in the lineup. Continue reading.

Toyota’s New GR86 Is an Affordable Sports Car For Enthusiasts by Enthusiasts

This evolution of the GT86 keeps what customers enjoyed but improves on its weak points.

By Matt Crisara

The Takeaway

Toyota’s new GR86 is a reminder that low-powered sports cars are incredibly fun to drive. Its slightly bigger 2.4-liter four-cylinder boxer engine provides excellent mid-range torque where the previous GT86’s 2.0-liter engine would bog down. Still, it has the versatility to be a daily driver during the week when it’s not barnstorming the track on the weekend. Continue reading

The Toyota GR 86 Is Stick-Shifted Salvation

The latest Toyota sports coupe doubles down on a winning formula.

2022 Toyota GR 86 Reminds Us That Affordable Fun Exists

While it’s not entirely new, the GR 86’s larger engine and revised chassis are more than enough to keep us happy.

By David Beard

A car like the Toyota GR 86 isn’t supposed to happen in this age of SUVs and electrification. Small and affordable coupes like the rear-drive GR 86 are pretty much dead. And yet Toyota has just refreshed its almost one-of-a-kind sports car, and it isn’t just good, it’s great.

We adore high-powered coupes such as the 760-hp Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, but more than often their massive outputs make exploiting their capabilities on the street a lawyer-on-retainer task. In a car such as the 228-hp GR 86, there isn’t a big engine to make up for your cornering mistakes. What you do get is a sensation of speed that runs through the car’s chassis and controls. Continue reading.

2022 Toyota GR 86 First Drive Review: The Same Cheap RWD Shenanigans, Only Better

With a bigger engine, more power, and a welcome dab of refinement, the Toyobaru’s second round is a victory lap.

“Designed by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts.” That’s how Toyota’s marketing people talk about the 2022 Toyota GR 86, and I can’t think of a more apt description. It takes a lot—or at least a CEO who really, really thinks cars should be fun to drive—to drop a brand-new, affordable, naturally aspirated, manual-equipped, rear-wheel-drive sports car in 2021 when the whole market is dominated by… well, everything but that stuff.

If you ask people at Toyota, this wouldn’t have happened if the top guy, I’d-rather-be-at-the-track-than-the-boardroom CEO Akio Toyoda, hadn’t pushed for it. That hype is real. Continue reading.

Embracing Vintage Cars in the Catskills

A garage turned coffee shop and a restaurant fixing up Mustangs in the basement: The car scene is expanding beyond a high-end racetrack country club.

By Brett Berk

The driving season in the Catskills is quite short, abbreviated by snow and salt in the long winters and a spring rainy season that can sometimes feel endless.

But now that it’s the heart of summer, and people can mingle again, Jared Lamanna wants to provide a place for them to gather — and bring their cars.

His coffee-shop-slash-garage-slash-vintage-dealership, Churchill Classics Coffee, is intended to be that, with colorful indoor and outdoor seating, a food truck in the side yard and a half-dozen cars for sale in the showroom. Down the line, Mr. Lamanna plans a weekend rental business for vintage trucks, outfitted for overlanding — rugged backcountry camping — and featuring downloadable guides to take advantage of the area’s bounteous trails and growing restaurant and performance scene .Continue reading.

Artist Heidi Mraz Recreates a Porsche 906 from Pieces of Its History

By Brett Berk

The car—chassis number 906-134—is owned by the co-founder of the Monticello Motor Club, where the 906 and the four-by-six foot portrait now live.

Test drive: The 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 is a V8-powered king of the hill

Mother Nature had better get some ear muffs.

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 is the first V8 Wrangler ever and the most powerful. Needless to say, it’s a rowdy one.

It borrows its 392 cubic-inch engine from the Dodge Challenger RT Scat Pack, Grand Cherokee SRT, etc., and sends 470 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque to all four of the Wrangler’s wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission as it screams through a dual-mode exhaust that allows drivers to crank up the volume.

The Wrangler performs just fine with its selection of V6 and turbocharged four-cylinder engines, but plenty of customers have been swapping in their own monster motors, so Jeep decided to get in on the fun and throw in a warranty. Unlike the street-focused Grand Cherokee SRT, Jeep decided to pair it with the Wrangler’s most off-road capable Rubicon trim. READ MORE

The Subaru Outback Wilderness Doubles Down on the Outback Formula

In retrospect, the Subaru Outback Wilderness seems like the sort of idea that we should have all thought up a long time ago.

After all, the basic idea behind the Outback that proved so revolutionary a couple decades ago — take an all-wheel-drive station wagon and add ground clearance so it can go off-road — clearly proved a mighty success; that basic idea transformed Subaru from a second-tier Japanese carmaker in America to a near-omnipresent feature of the country’s roadways. That basic idea — applied more broadly to not just the Outback, but also the Forester and Crosstrek — helped fuel years upon years of sustained growth for the brand in the U.S. Given that, the idea of doubling down on the traits that have brought the brand fame and fortune seems like an obvious play. READ MORE

The High-Performance ‘Country Club’ Memberships We’re After

Spoiler alert: We’re not talking about golf.

During this unprecedented time, travel’s been limited. We’re itching to get out of town, get behind the wheel, and set our sights on the open road. Better yet, we’re looking at the closed roads. Track clubs have become the new country clubs—more high-octane, to be sure, and way more fun. No speed limits, no construction zones, and although we can’t guarantee you won’t hit some light traffic—things like that tend to happen in pit lane—these are the best track clubs across the country to join right now. READ MORE

2020 Audi Q5 55 Hybrid Review: Who Needs Gas, Anyway?

By Patrick George

In the time it takes you to finish reading this sentence, Audi will sell approximately 246 Q5 crossovers to American buyers. Okay, fine, it may be closer to 244. Math has never been my strong suit. But any way you want to look at it, the Q5 is a bonafide hit for Audi. Even four years into the current model’s life, it remains the brand’s top-selling model by a wide margin. And the 2020 Audi Q5 55 TFSI e quattro takes that success story and makes it a plug-in hybrid.

Last year, even with pandemic-related production challenges, Audi still moved 50,000 of these things—nearly twice as much as the runner-up Q3. It sold more than…



Is a Safari B5 Audi RS4 Avant the Perfect Daily Driver?

By Nico DeMattia

The B5 Audi RS4 Avant has a loyal following among Audi enthusiasts. As the original RS4 Avant, it gets a ton of love for being the car that made the segment famous. Which is why heavily modifying B5 RS4s can upset its fanbase. However, this modified “Safari” B5 Audi RS4 Avant should instead be celebrated.

In the latest episode of Modified, from Hagerty, we get to see an owner’s lifted, wrapped, and, well, modified RS4. Host Matt Farah, known from The Smoking Tire YouTube channel, takes the lifted RS4 to the Monticello Motor Club to drive it on a snow-covered track.

What is a safari car, you ask?  READ MORE


Fast as lightning, stable when wet

By Lawrence Ulrich

Among modern sports cars, there’s fast, and then there’s the Porsche 911 Turbo. I’ve driven many generations of this Autobahn brawler, but I still wasn’t quite prepared for what Porsche could do with 477 kilowatts—640 horsepower.

I tested the all-new 911 Turbo S at my “neighborhood” track, the Monticello Motor Club in the Catskills region of New York. On Monticello’s 4.1-mile tangle of curves, the Porsche showed how 46 years of engineering evolution have transformed a car whose 1975 original was known as the Widowmaker for its twitchy handling. This Turbo dances so lightly around a racetrack, imparting such immediate confidence and security, that I was tempted to fiddle with its Burmester audio system at triple-digit speeds, with more than 1.1 gs of lateral handling grip. Continue reading.


The Aston Martin Vantage Roadster Is a Snow-Drift Machine

By Chris Perkins

Confidence can be a dangerous thing. I was feeling pretty good about myself out on the snow-covered road course of the Monticello Motor Club road course, pulling big yaw angles with the Aston Martin Vantage Roadster, making it look nice for the camera just as the snow was giving way to ice. You see where this is going: carrying too much speed down a particularly slick part of the track and into a snowbank, pushing in the mesh grille and cracking the carbon-fiber splitter. Oops.


SCG Boot Review: A 650-HP, Street-Legal Baja Racer Is One of the Most Entertaining Cars on Earth

By Roger Garbow

aunching off the top of the hill, there’s a brief sensation of weightlessness. A flashback to those youthful days of hitting jumps on a light, two-stroke dirt bike, floating through the air and then landing with a blast of dirt from the rear wheel. In a blink, that memory was replaced with a harsh reality: I’m no longer 17, and this is going to hurt. 5,500 pounds of steel falling through space tends to make a hell of an impact, after all.

Wishing there had been a bit more yanking on the shoulder belts, I clench my orifices and braced for a spine-crushing hit. Which never comes. Instead, 37-inch tires and 18 inches of suspension travel catch me in a cosseting embrace, like a fluffy kitten falling into a down comforter. Quite the juxtaposition for something that looks like a post-apocalyptic dune buggy, I know. But this is quite the machine.