As a follow-up to my fellow analyst Joseph Choi’s post, “So Many Cars, So Little Time: A Day at the WAPA 2013 Rally” published last week, I wanted to highlight a few more vehicles of which we had the opportunity to get behind the wheel and test out. As Joseph mentioned previously, there were over 30 vehicles on hand and only a couple hours of actual seat time available to us, meaning we had to pick and choose our testers carefully to ensure we had the opportunity to sample the hottest new vehicles on the block. Since Joseph already brought you up to speed on his three favorites of the day, I’d like to take a moment and highlight a few of my top picks as well.
The 2014 GMC Sierra
While it wasn’t the most glamorous vehicle at the rally, my top choice for the day was the entirely all-new 2014 GMC Sierra full-size pickup truck. The model on hand was a fully suited-and-booted fire red crew cab version of the Sierra 1500, which was absolutely gigantic compared to everything else at the rally. Because of this it spent most of the day parked as many fellow reviewers were a bit too timid to navigate the beast around the cramped parking lot and narrow, wet, winding roads that made up the vast majority of the test course.
Joseph and I on the other hand enjoy a good challenge, plus this was the first time that either of us had the opportunity to actually drive one of these all-new trucks in a real world setting, and I’m glad we did. When first climbing into the driver’s seat my expectations were actually very low as I was dreading copious amounts of rear wheel spin and a fight to keep the truck on the road similar to what I experienced with the outgoing generation on wet roadways. Boy, was I ever wrong! The 2014 Sierra performed like it was carving up bone dry roads and never skipped a beat. Power delivery was well managed through the traction and stability control system, never once stepping out of line.
While the exterior may look very similar to the previous generation Sierra that first debuted back in 2007, the interior is next level and can finally compete with the Ford and Ram brands. Needless to say, this redesign was long overdue, but definitely worth the wait.
2014 Audi Q5 TDI
Another vehicle that I was thoroughly impressed with was Audi’s Q5 TDI. If the Q5 had to be summarized in one word it would have to be torque, of which it had tons; so much that Joseph was able to engage in a mini four wheel power slide because of the damp roads. For those of you unfamiliar with the power plant, the small SUV is powered by a turbocharged V6 diesel that boasts 240 horsepower and 428 lb-ft of torque, and able to deliver city and highway fuel ratings of 24 and 31 mpg.
Audi reps said that performance is comparable to 2.0T equipped models, meaning 0-60 mph runs should come in around seven seconds. The Q5’s 428 lb-ft of torque definitely make the small SUV feel even quicker than it actually is, but its performance and fuel economy are still very impressive nonetheless.
The exterior and interior design is clean and sporty, but doesn’t really have attributes that jump out and wow me. With that said, $50,000 is a pretty big chunk of change for this Q5, but if I had money lying around, one would be in my garage.
2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG is final vehicle on my list, and one that I’ve had the opportunity to drive a few times at other events over the course of the past month in different settings. Each time it finds a way to impress me more and more. At the WAPA 2013 Rally I had the opportunity to put the four door sports coupe through its paces in what felt like a mini-monsoon, during which the traction and stability systems helped keep things under control even in the worst of hydroplaning situations.
For those of you unfamiliar with the CLA45 AMG, its essentially a hopped-up pocket rocket version of the newly introduced CLA250, boasting 355 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque through a 4MATIC all-wheel drive system. Joseph and I dubbed it the baby CLS because of the four door coupe body style. While the CLA250 has been available for a few months now, the CLA45 AMG goes on sale at dealers across the US sometime in November.
Despite the heavy rain, the WAPA 2013 Rally was still a great event to attend and a good environment to test a number of different cars in real world situations. Joseph and I can’t wait for the next WAPA event, and look forward to the opportunity to drive all the models we missed out on this time around.