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Test-drive stories by NITISH S. RELE –

2021 Genesis Think of midsize luxury sedans and a Benz, Audi or BMW may come to mind. But you are making a huge mistake if you pass on the Genesis G80, which for 2021 has been totally redesigned inside out. The previous 3.3-liter power train now comes with a bigger and better engine that is also in its SUV sibling, GV80.

Our rear-wheel-drive G80 came with a 3.5.-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine blasting off 375 horsepower @ 5800 rpm and 391 pounds-feet of torque @ 5800 rpm. A smooth 8-speed auto transmission provides smooth upshifts and speedy downshifts. Drive modes included comfort, eco, sport and custom. Acceleration is swift and fast from any speed with the sedan steadily absorbing bumps on the road.

Similar to its SUV big brother, the extended hood of the G80 meets a massive crest grille with a winged Genesis insignia atop, surrounded by quad LED auto headlights. Step inside and you will discover a large 14.5-inch split screen HD display for phone, nav and audio that can be controlled via a knob. Need to shift into park? The rotary dial selector is a nice touch. So is the suede headliner. The interior is lush with reassuring seats and logical controls. The driver and occupants are further pampered with tri-zone auto a/c, 12-way front heated/cooled leather seats, power tilt/telescopic steering column and tilt-and-slide sunroof, 12.3-inch digital cluster, matte finish wood on center console, dash, doors; Lexicon sound system with 21 speakers; power rear window sunshades; and much more.

Standard safety features include a front center airbag (located between the driver’s seat and center console, a first in its segment), dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, driver knee airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, electronic stability and traction control system, front/rear parking sensors, smart cruise control, rearview camera, blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning/lane keep and forward collision avoid assists, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.

Since its introduction 11 years ago, the nimble G80 sedan has been received with accolades by the automotive press, including us. Indeed, it is an impeccably balanced package of extravagance, tech and performance. And at a more convenient price than its rivals in the midsize luxury sedan segment.



2021 LEXUS LX570So, you fancy going off the beaten path but you want to do it in style and luxury? There aren’t a whole lot of choices on the road but the 2021 Lexus LX570 comes to mind. And don’t for a minute believe that the 6,000-pound-weight is a drag on this body-on-frame SUV. Zero to 60 is an impressive 7.3 seconds as you take a seat amid opulence. Indeed, it is a blast to drive, responding with quickness in any driving situation while packed with extravagant treats. Drive modes include eco, comfort, sport and sport+. To top it all, you can tow up to 7,000 pounds.

Under the hood of the full-time four-wheel-drive SUV resides a 5.7-liter V-8 engine blasting off 383 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm and 403-pounds-feet of torque at 3600 rpm. It is mated to a standard 8-speed auto gearbox. Showing off a muscular posture, the LX570 sports a massive spindle chromed grille flanked by triple-beam LED headlights and daytime running lights. As soon as we stepped into the airy and well-appointed cabin, we noticed the spacious power-sliding, second-row seat while the 50/50 third-row seat folds flat via the touch of a button. A TFT LCD screen displays rounded analog speedometer, tachometer, and smaller fuel and temp gauges. Some fine goodies include four-zone auto a/c, 14-way power driver and 12-way front-passenger seats, power tilt/telescopic steering column, and moon roof. Ample splashes of wood on the dashboard, instrument panel and doors convey a cool appearance. The mouse-like Remote Touch can be used to toggle navigation, climate, audio and phone controls on the 12.3-inch screen. And there is a CD player to boot, whether you use it or not!

Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, driver knee airbag, front-passenger cushion airbag, blind-spot monitor with rear-cross traffic alert, side-impact door beams, four-wheel antilock brakes, electronic brake distribution and brake assist, vehicle stability and traction control, intuitive park assist, trailer sway control, backup camera, push-button start, three-point seatbelts with pretensioners, and front/rear crumple zones. These are complemented by a pre-collision system that detects pedestrians and bicyclists, lane center and departure assist and dynamic cruise control, all part of the no-cost Lexus Safety Sense+.

If in the market for a full-size rugged but luxury SUV that can tackle the tough landscape (thanks to multi-terrain select and crawl control) with confidence, the LX570 fits the bill. You won’t be disappointed as long as the steep price tag (topping $100,000 and over) is within your reach!



2021 MAZDA MIATA MX-5 GTTop-down motoring enthusiasts are ardent fans of this cool, engaging sports car. And that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. The rear-wheel-drive Mazda MX-5 Miata, which is in its 32nd year, continues to reign over the opposition. Thanks to added power and torque, standard tilt/telescoping steering column and rearview camera two years ago, the 2021 Miata continues without any significant changes.

Power for our Grand Touring trim comes from a Skyactiv-G 2.0-liter DOHC inline-4 cylinder engine, which puts out 181 horsepower at 7000 rpm and 151 pounds-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. The direct-injection Skyactiv uses a torque boost via a high compression ratio to increase fuel economy. It is mated to a 6-speed auto gearbox though a 6-speed manual also is offered. The sport-tuned suspension, which uses Bilstein shock absorbers, is skillfully controlled by a double wishbone front and multilink rear system. Guiding the lively convertible, with its manual z-shaped folding cloth top, is a double-pinion power-assist steering.

Probing inward LED headlights flank the familiar Mazda insignia as eyes gaze up to a long hood with a pushed-back windshield and short roof. The interior is elegant, lavish and expensive-looking. Take leather on the tilt/telescopic steering column, shifter, hand brake, and of course the comfy seats. Other eases include push button ignition, 7-inch navigation, phone and audio touch screen, heated front seats, Bose audio with 9 speakers, auto a/c, piano black seatback bar trim, mesh aero board, and power door locks and windows. The only minus is the tiny trunk, which is understandable.

Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, four-wheel antilock brakes with stability and traction control, three-point seatbelts with pretensioners and force limiters, rearview camera, blind spot monitor, rear-cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, side impact door beams, anti-theft engine immobilizer and tire pressure monitoring system.

Indeed, the MX-5 is a thrill of a ride. Open-air motoring buffs will have a blast on the highway or tackling the rigors of daily driving, thanks to the convertible’s swift and nimble character. And at just $31,770 ($33,310 price as tested), it’s a bargain. May the world’s best-selling roadster bring smiles and pleasure for another 32 years … and more!

MX-5 (GT)

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