Test Drive

Threading the Needle

It's Friday, almost 5pm. So chill out and go for a ride through the hills of Monte Carlo

Think you could be a World Rally driver? For most people, the answer to that would be to think again. Think long and hard. Not only do you need serious driving talent, but your fitness must be A1, your reactions must be at the top of their game and your guts have to be huge. Imagine threading a Mitsubishi Lancer rally car through roads wide enough only for one car, with cars and people on the side of the road and sheer drops every now and then. That's what it's like to be a World Rally Driver. Take a look as rally legend Tommi Makkinen goes for a Sunday driver in his Lancer.

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PopSci Goes Inside the Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe

Drive under the stars with your roof up! 1,600 lights are individually sewn into the roof of the car to simulate the night sky.

When Rolls Royce releases a car, you know it’s not going to be the run-of-the-mill vehicles most of us sit in each day. The Phantom Coupe is completely hand built, weighs 2.5 tonnes, and is powered by a 6.75 litre V12 engine.

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Dot-to-Dot Programming

Ditch that Arduino for an even easier way to build a microcontroller project

OK, you don't have to actually throw away your Arduino, but you might wish to consider this slick alternative the next time you're going to build a temperature-sensing microcontroller project. Or, for that matter, a light-sensing project, or a proximity-sensing project, or a capacitance-sensing project.

This "alternative" is a relatively new kid on the embedded design block called PSoC® FirstTouch, from Cypress Semiconductor Corporation. The Cypress PSoC is better known as a programmable mixed signal array or Programmable System-on-Chip (PSoC). While sporting an 8-bit microcontroller clocking in at a maximum 24MHz and supporting 512 bytes of SRAM, 8KB flash, these rather lackluster specs are offset by four analog and four digital customizable advanced peripheral building blocks (known as PSoC Blocks), and the ability to build a crazy-small microcontroller project.

How small, you ask?

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Test Drive: 2009 BMW M6

A $130,000 gas-guzzling V10 monster in the land of the ding-ding bicycles

California’s Central Valley, that blistering flatland of artichoke fields criss-crossed by the occasional four-mile straightaway, would seem the perfect place to open up a big engine. But as I arrived in Davis, California, on the day my parents moved there from Seattle, I was hit with the sudden realization that I had, in fact, chosen the perfectly wrong trip on which to test BMW’s monstrous M6.

Davis, it turns out, is possibly the bike-friendliest town in the nation.

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A $40,000 Hyundai? Luxuriating in the 2009 Genesis Sedan

Hyundai undercuts Lexus, Infiniti and Mercedes with a luxury car that'll give car buyers another reason to forget the Korean carmaker's checkered past

The world has turned upside-down. The US government is the hottest ticket on Wall Street, Cadillac builds European sports sedans, Saab markets SUVs, and now Hyundai makes a $42,000 luxury car. Someone e-mail the Bizarro Justice League, stat.

The 2009 Hyundai Genesis has been a long time coming for the South Korean automaker. Years ago, Hyundai introduced to the American market an ignoble range of economy cars that, unadjusted for inflation, cost the equivalent of pocket lint. It's a different company now. To mangle a Pink Floyd lyric, 20 odd years may have gotten behind Hyundai Motor America, but it didn't miss the starting gun.

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2009 Honda Fit: A Little Economy Car Grows Up, a Little

Honda updates its smallest, most economical US model with more space, new features and increased refinement. Does that mean it's over the hill?

The first Japanese hatchback I ever loved was a borrowed, battered 1978 Honda Accord CVCC. It was punchy and raw, light as a laundry basket and it loved to be tossed into a dusty bend and coaxed back out. It was just the thing for a teenaged-hack Stig Blomqvist with more hormones than money, and I returned it reluctantly, a changed not-quite man.

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Driving The 2009 Corvette ZR1: Detroit's Mild-Mannered Supercar

Chevrolet's latest sports car pairs supercar horsepower with driving comfort. Yes, we're sure it's a Corvette.

Chevrolet's 2009 Corvette ZR1 is the best thing to come out of Detroit since Dearborn-style pistachio baklawa. I don't say that lightly; pistachio baklawa is spectacular.

Leading with a headline-grabbing horsepower figure, the ZR1 delivers sharp, predictable handling, unjarring road feel and performance as barmy on pavement as on paper, all without artifice or intimidation. Yes, it’s a Corvette, and while that may confound anyone who assumes the badge signifies rough trade, the ZR1’s excellence won’t surprise anyone whose watched GM’s Corvette program evolve over the past decade.

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Iguanas, Tigers and SUVs - Oh My!

We take the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan for a test drive to see if it really is the GTI of sport utilities

Sometimes car marketers really earn their shrimp cocktail. Saddled with an unfavorable Euros-to-dollars conversion, Volkswagen North America needed a sales hook to take the edge off the slight premium buyers would pay for its German-built 2009 Tiguan. The answer was to hail the new compact model as "The GTI of SUVs." That tagline implies the Tiguan packs the driving entertainment of the company's sports hatchback, with extra room for lawn chairs, soccer balls and a 72-pack of Mott's.

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Poise and Luxury on the Track

The freshened 2009 Audi A4 brings smart tuning and luxury touches to the table to compete with genre stalwarts BMW and Lexus

Audi A4 '09 On the Track:  Audi
The business of cars, like that of pop music, is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately proposition. Take Audi, which has moved scores of A4s since the mid-1990s. Like any other automotive hitmaker, every so often it must turn out a fresh one that reads like a John Grisham novel, a force multiplier that reacts to trends and keeps things moving forward. This can get tricky, as Ford found out when it tried to update the popular Taurus in 1996 and wound up, as Britney Spears did with Britney (the one where she tried to write her own songs), on the losing end of a pivotal moment.

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Racing the Nissan GT-R: In Any Other Car, You'd Be Dead Now

PopSci’s new automotive guru flogs one of the year’s most anticipated sports cars—the 2009 Nissan GT-R

digg_url = 'http://digg.com/autos/Racing_The_2009_Nissan_GT_R';
This is the first post by PopSci's new Contributing Editor and automotive blogger, Mike Spinelli. An automotive-focused writer, blogger, and Sirius radio host, Mike left a career in technology market research to become founding editor of New York-based automotive website Jalopnik.com in 2004. Check back each day for his blog posts on PopSci.com, and watch for his byline in the magazine as well. —Eds.

Get on the brakes right here, says the voice in my head. Move to the inside and let the car drift outward to the right. Then cut in hard and itll set you up for this next tight bit. Now get right on the speed again. The voice was that of New Zealander Steve Millen, veteran race driver and instructor of journalists gathered to sample the 2009 Nissan GT-R. Earlier, with Millen at the wheel, wed shot through the same section of Nevadas Reno-Fernley raceway -- a 200-degree banked left called the Horse Shoe followed by a quick right that opens into a nearly straight run -- while he narrated the action as casually as if over a pot of Earl Grey. Now I was doing it solo and, I might add, astonishingly well.

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Test Drive: 2008 Mercedes C300 Sport Sedan

An intrepid editor pits Benz's new entry-level luxury car against the elements. Find out which wins

Maybe this would have been a good weekend to test a Land Rover. Im staring at a grille-high wall of snow, plowed overnight across the end of the icy Adirondack driveway. On the other side is a snowy country lane, and maybe oncoming traffic—I can only see straight ahead because of the mountainous snowdrifts piled on all sides. Im pretty sure the locals are breaking out the snowmobiles today. I try the safe, slow approach and end up stuck atop an icy little barrier. Fortunately, this 2008 Mercedes C300 sport sedan, which Im driving for my weekend in the country, crawls out easily in reverse. After confirming that I can ram out into the road without hitting anything, I get a running start, plow through the snowdrift, turn hard to the left and brake, skidding onto the road; I can feel the gentle percussion of the antilock brakes as we glide to a soft, abrupt stop.

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