Team Hall & Nass Super Fun Marketing Descriptions of the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan

29 01 2010

Team Hall & Nass Super Fun Marketing Descriptions of the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan

Preview

As a wrap up to our Team Hall & Nass Cadillac Week coverage, we just couldn’t help but throw this last post in. It’s admittedly outrageous and a bit over the top, but at the very least, we think it will entertain many of you. Enjoy!

This is So Not Official GM Language

The “official” GM wording used within the pages of the 2010 Cadillac brochure describes the CTS-V Sedan as “the fastest V8 production sedan in the world.” Yes, in as few clean, sane, safe words as possible, we couldn’t agree more. It certainly is.

However, there are corporate sanitary product descriptions … and then there are the Team Hall & Nass product descriptions. We were not asked to provide language to be placed within the brochure of the 2010 CTS-V. However, if we had been, the following are examples of what we feel best describe what the true driving experience is really like albeit in a tongue in cheek sort of way. Better strap in now … this will get a bit curvy!

CTS-V Sedan – Turn Ons Delivered

We’re relatively certain that you have all witnessed the all too cleaver commercials Cadillac filmed for the launch of the second generation CTS sedan. You know the one. “When you turn your car on, does it return the favor?” In a word – priceless!

However, when the current generation CTS-V Sedan was unleashed on the world, we feel GM missed a wonderful opportunity to take one of the best brand commercials they’ve ever done to the next level. Something a bit bolder, a bit spicier, that would represent just how much hotter the V performs over the already amazing base model.

So without further adieu, here is a glimpse of what Team Hall & Nass might have done.

The Actress – A slightly younger, more attractive, voluptuous blonde behind the wheel.

The Female Narrator’s Statement(s) – “Remember when we introduced you to the seductive new CTS and simply asked, ‘when you turn your car on, does it return the favor?’ Well, if she didn’t get your attention, meet her younger, enhanced, more powerful sister, V. With a lot more umph and vavoom under her hood, she simply takes your breath away. The Cadillac CTS-V. Can you handle it?”

“Remember when we introduced you to the seductive new CTS and simply asked, ‘when you turn your car on, does it return the favor?’ Well, if she didn’t get your attention, meet her younger, enhanced, more powerful sister, V. She asks a simpler question – ‘Think you can you handle it?’ Breathtaking performance. The Cadillac CTS-V.”

CTS-V Sedan – Family Friendly Synergy

Here’s a new idea for a “new GM.” Cross-brand family oriented marketing strategies to address the changing needs of performance-oriented expecting families. Trust me, there are big numbers hidden here. How many people out there (admittedly, mostly men) have to go through the agony of selling their Corvette when a wedding or baby comes into the picture? Sure, you can sell them a Tahoe, but seriously. No self-respecting Corvette owner wants to give up driving something that fun just because of life changes. Why not put a cross-brand synergistic strategy in place to help? Create targeted CTS-V Sedan materials and place them inside of Chevrolet dealerships. Then offer the dealers a cross-brand monetary incentive program to cross-sell. Here are a couple of examples of language that could go inside a Corvette to CTS-V “family conversion” marketing piece.

“Getting married? Having kids? Own a Corvette? Not all of life’s big changes have to be so drastic. Welcome to the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan. It’s like a Z06 with a back seat. Performance you’re used to in a family-friendly package. Child seat optional.”

“Getting married? Having kids? Own a Corvette? Not all of life’s big changes have to be so drastic. Welcome to the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan. Performance you’re used to in a family-friendly package. Now, driving your family can be fun too.”

Team Hall & Nass Cadillac Week Coverage

We hope y’all have enjoyed our Team Hall & Nass Cadillac Week coverage as much as we enjoyed the privilege of being able to provide it to you. It’s truly been the “Cadillac” of weeks for us!

We would also appreciate it very much if y’all would take a moment and let us know what you thought of all this. Did you like it? Did you not? Was it worth reading? Was it detailed enough? Too wordy? Too spicy? Want more paprika? Do tell! You can let us know via comments on our blog, Tweets on Twitter (@TeamHallnNass) or email us at TeamHallnNass(at)yahoo.com. It’s your turn to talk. Team Hall & Nass is listening!

Due to new FTC guidelines, please note that GM didn’t pay us to write any of this, nor did they ask us to. (After reading some of this, they may even prefer that we hadn’t!). They simply provided dinner and access to their cars and, in turn, we had the “Cadillac” of experiences. We sincerely thank everyone at GM and Cadillac South Central Region marketing who made this possible, and all of you, our amazing fans. We couldn’t do this without you. We love you all!

This blog entry has been approved by Pirate Pig, official mascot of Team Hall & Nass. Pirate Pig offers hamthrax protection for all, and would like to remind you, “IF YOU’VE JUST BEEN PASSED, THEN YOU’RE NOT HALL & NASS!” :@)~

Advertisements




Team Hall & Nass 2010 Cadillac Week Challenge Twitter Contest

28 01 2010

Team Hall & Nass 2010 Cadillac Week Challenge Twitter Contest

As you are aware (or should be if you are reading this post), we recently attended the Cadillac Culinary Media Tour, an event for select members of the Texas automotive media to experience what life is like for the “typical” Cadillac owner. We enjoyed the experience so much that we decided to dedicate an entire week of coverage to different aspects of the event, and to the amazing Cadillac vehicles we experienced.

As a fun way to say thank you to all of our loyal Team Hall & Nass fans for your amazing support of our Cadillac Week coverage, we are conducting an exciting #CadillacWeekChallenge contest to see who is enjoying our daily #CadillacWeek content the most. The winner will receive a cool “Cadillac-related prize!”

Snapshot Review of How to Play (explained in much greater detail below)

– Follow @TeamHallnNass on Twitter so you can play along and be eligible to win!
– As soon as you see us Tweet a contest question (a Q followed by #CadillacWeekChallenge), be the first to Tweet us via @ reply only with the correct answer and you win that round!
– Remember to tell us what Q you are replying to (Q1, Q8, etc.) and place the #CadillacWeekChallenge hash in your answer (if there is room).
– Remember that ALL of the answers to all of the contest questions are either within our TeamHallnNass.wordpress.com Cadillac Week posts, within our @TeamHallnNass Cadillac Week Tweets, or within one of our four Cadillac Week YouTube.com/TeamHallnNass videos.
– If you are truly stumped, @ reply us and say “I’m Stumped” and we may Tweet out additional hints.
– Don’t stress or give up! We aren’t going to make this THAT hard.
– Have fun! That’s what Team Hall & Nass #CadillacWeek is all about!
– Remember to keep following and RTing our #CadillacWeek coverage through Friday.
– Be sure to tell all of your friends as well! We love new picking up new fans! We do all this craziness for y’all!

When the Contest Will Occur

Our Cadillac Week Challenge Twitter Contest will take place beginning on Thursday, January 28th 2010 at 8 PM EST and will conclude on Friday, January 29th 2010 at 8 PM EST. Be sure to tune in to @TeamHallnNass on Twitter during this 24 hour period as questions can occur at any time (though we may have to sleep somewhere in there too!). Most of the contest questions will occur on Friday during US daylight hours, but not all!

The winner will be announced on Twitter AND on the TeamHallnNass blog! The winner must be able to be reached via DM (which is why you have to follow @TeamHallnNass) in order to discuss shipping. Afterward, your prize will be shipped to you the following week from our super-secret Team Hall & Nass location.

How to Play (in much greater detail)

To keep things as simple as possible, we are going to ask a series of questions (via Twitter) and the first person who responds to us via Twitter with the correct answer to each question (via an @ or DM) will be acknowledged as having won that round. The person who wins the most rounds by the end of the contest week will win the “Cadillac-related prize.”

To make things easier, we’re going to be providing several hints on what areas (posts, vids or Tweets) the answers to the questions are located in. So if you’re stumped, @ or DM and say, “I’m stumped!” The more people who are stumped, the easier/more obvious we’ll make the hints and/or the questions. We want this to be fun for y’all, not work!

All contest questions Tweeted out by us will be designated with the hashtag #CadillacWeekChallenge. It is a good idea to place this hashtag along with the numerical designation of the question you are answering (i.e.: Q1, Q5, Q10, etc.) in your response along with your answer to alleviate any potential confusion on either end (ours or yours).

Example:

Us – TeamHallnNass #CadillacWeekChallenge Q1. What week are we celebrating?
You – @TeamHallnNass The Q1 answer is Cadillac Week #CadillacWeekChallenge
Us – TeamHallnNass @BIGHallnNassFan You are correct! You’ve won round Q1!

See how easy that is?

How and Where to Find ALL of the Answers

Each day this week, there has been at least one new Cadillac-related post daily on our blog. In addition, be sure to review every Cadillac-related Tweet this week (beginning on Monday, January 25th at 12:01 AM EST through Friday, January 29th at 8 PM EST, or up until the last question of the contest, whichever comes first). Last, but certainly not least, make sure you view all four segments of our CTS-V ride and drive review that will be posted on our YouTube page on Thursday, January 28th. Be sure to listen to all of the things that are said out loud within these videos.

Again, all of the answers to all of the questions in the contest can be found within our TeamHallnNass.wordpress.com Cadillac blog content, OR within our YouTube.com/TeamHallnNass page Cadillac videos, OR within our @TeamHallnNass Cadillac Tweets on Twitter. There are no ringers, no tricks, and no hidden answers. Everything is (or will be) posted in plain sight for all to see!

Plus, remember that we’re going to be providing several hints on what areas (posts, vids or Tweets) the answers to the questions are located in. So if you’re stumped, @ or DM and say, “I’m stumped!” The more people who are stumped, the easier/more obvious we’ll make the hints and/or the questions. We want this to be fun, not work!

The Prize

One lucky winner will be awarded a “Cadillac-related prize” by Team Hall & Nass. What is it exactly? Well, we don’t want to spoil the surprise, but let’s just say it’s something not very expensive, but actually pretty cool. No, it’s not a Cadillac (we wish!). But it is a Cadillac-related item, provided to us by General Motors (not for this contest, but as a personal gift to us). We just love and appreciate our fans so much that we want one of you to have a chance to win it! So play for laughs and play for fun, but answer to win!

The Rules

You MUST follow @TeamHallnNass on Twitter to be eligible to win. Don’t worry, you can always unfollow us after the contest should you choose to, but we hope you’ll stick around for our continued hijinx for the 2010 season and beyond.

The person who responds on Twitter to @TeamHallnNass (via @ reply only) with the most correct answers first (round winners) at the end of our Cadillac Week Challenge will be the winner!

Not a Twitter user? Sign up today at Twitter.com and follow @TeamHallnNass to play!

Due to only having one prize to award, there can only be one prize winner. All decisions on the contest, the rules, judgments, etc. will be determined by Team Hall & Nass, and our rulings and decisions will be deemed final.

Tie Breaker (if necessary)

In the event of a tie, those who are tied for the lead will be notified via Twitter and a playoff will be held. If necessary, the playoff will be conducted beginning at 8 PM EST on Friday, January 29th 2010. The playoff will consist of a series of bonus Cadillac Week Challenge questions will be asked one at a time until the tie is broken (by the same conventional challenge rules listed above). It will be a sudden death playoff round, so you’ll have to be at the ready to answer quickly and correctly.

Exclusions

All of our fans and followers are welcome (and encouraged) to play. However, any employee (or affiliate) of General Motors or Cadillac are (unfortunately) ineligible to win. This is only because y’all have an unfair knowledge advantage of all the questions we are going to ask within this contest!

Furthermore, Charlie and Nick from Burnout Radio are not eligible to play, win, or even to shout answers out, since they participated in this event with us. They know too much, and therefore, must die! (JUST KIDDING)!

We hope you enjoy the #CadillacWeekChallenge and wish you all the best of luck! Let the games begin!





Team Hall & Nass Review the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan

27 01 2010

Team Hall & Nass Review the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan

Preface

Team Hall & Nass recently attended the Cadillac Culinary Media Tour, an event for select members of the Texas automotive media to experience what life is like for the “typical” Cadillac owner. At the event, we got a little crazy. Alongside of our good friends Charlie and Nick from Burnout Radio (@BurnoutRadio on Twitter), we managed to get behind the wheel of a brand new 2010 CTS-V Sedan and put it though some real world driving paces. What transpired once we “commandeered” the CTS-V was most likely not typical of many Cadillac owners, especially in rush hour traffic, unless your name just happens to be Andy Pilgrim.

While the CTS-V was just one of the Cadillacs we experienced at the event, we had so much to say about our impression of driving this particular machine that simply including those thoughts in one section of our overall event blog post(s) wouldn’t do. Plus, as an added bonus, we filmed all the action of our Team Hall & Nass and Burnout Radio ride and drive critique with not one, but two cameras. We’ll circle back to that in a bit.

After you read this post, we also encourage you to read our companion two-part blog post titled “Team Hall & Nass Preview the 2010 Cadillac Lifestyle, Parts 1 & 2.” Within those posts you will learn more about the overall event, how we managed to “steal the V” and what happened when we got busted for it!

So, without further adieu, we hope you enjoy our impression of what life is like behind the wheel of the “fastest V8 production sedan in the world.”

Describing the 2010 CTS-V Sedan

There are many words I could use to describe what driving the CTS-V is like, but few would truly do the car justice. If you’re a fan of the car, then no doubt, you’ve already heard the big numbers it puts up. But just in case you haven’t, I’ll share them with you here (from memory, no less). GMs supercharged all aluminum LSA small block making 556 horsepower at the flywheel and generating 551 foot pounds of torque. Six piston Brembo calipers out front, four piston Brembos out back. A six speed manual transmission (or, in the case of our media car, a six-speed automatic). 0-60 in 3.9 seconds with a top speed of 198 miles per hour (limited to 175 miles per hour in the automatic). The list goes on and on, but those are the baseline things you need to know.

I’d love to tell you all about the amazing interior of the car, the many creature comforts, the styling, the details, and all that jazz. Truth is, due to the nature of the event, we had to grab it and go. From that point on, all I did was adjust the mirrors, the seat, the wheel and drive. I’m sure it has amazing ergonomics that I could go on and on about. We just didn’t have time to fully experience all of that. Perhaps if we’re very lucky we’ll get more hands on time with a CTS-V sometime again real soon so we can take our time and explore all of the details. I, for one, would like to explore the driver information system and get detailed on the types of real time vehicle performance and operation information available to the driver, how it is accessed and the manner in which it is displayed. But like I said, there wasn’t time for all of that. We had to grab it, take it, and just drive it. After all, isn’t how it drives what you want to know about this car anyway? Yeah, we thought so.

Driving the 2010 CTS-V Sedan

First things first. No, sadly, we didn’t get to test top end or downforce effects at sustained higher end speeds. I know, I know. However, even though we were unfortunately stuck in horrific rush hour traffic, we still managed to have some fun. This car is so viciously quick on the throttle (and the brakes) that you can drop back and then fill up the hole in the flow faster than anyone else can realize there was ever an opening to contemplate getting into. Want to break triple digits inside a long city block? This car will do it. Want to light the tires on fire? HA! As amazing as the traction control system is (truly, it’s that good), melting rubber is still easy to achieve at any speed. Just plant your right foot and hold on! Want to elicit shock, disbelief and awe from a new Porsche 911 owner (and his passenger) by merely letting him hear the sound of the engine revving? Been there, done that.

Since we did have to navigate some very heavy rush hour traffic and a few side roads in between discovering (or creating) patches of clean road to enjoy, the entire drive was treated as a rolling interview. If you’re familiar with the regular podcasts done by Burnout Radio, then you know what to expect. However, if you’re not, then know that we discussed and critiqued the car on the fly for the entire ride. It helps that both Charlie and I like the sound of our own voices as well, but hey! That’s a whole other story (way too long to post on here)!

Keeping the Power on the Pavement

Former Indy 500 winner and current Rally X driver Kenny Brack did an excellent job at the 2009 Summer X Games of reminding everyone in the racing and extreme sports world of a very simple, but long held, principle in the world of motorsports. Tire smoke and drifting a car sure looks cool, but every second your wheels are not in solid contact with the pavement, you’re not putting maximum power to the ground. Thus, you’re losing time. Remember, all the horsepower in the world doesn’t matter if you can’t make the tires put the power on the pavement.

The aforementioned traction control system is beyond amazing on the CTS-V. With 556 horsepower on tap, you would expect the car to be near impossible to drive hard without it constantly breaking the tires loose. Wrong. Even when I tried to powerslide it out of the parking lot, it held the pavement amazingly well and launched us forward. Sure, we slid a little, but not like we would have if I’d have turned the traction controls off.

It also doesn’t hurt anything that the car comes equipped with Michelin Pilot Sport tires, either. Yes, the same rubber found on the Corvette ZR1 and on any serious sports car owner’s rims that values supreme street traction over high replacement costs. They’re so sticky, they are almost like having racing tires for the street.

Driving this car is in many ways comparable to driving the 505 horsepower Chevrolet Corvette Z06. In fact, I’ve stated publicly (many times) that the CTS-V Sedan is a lot like a Z06, just with two extra doors and a back seat for ten grand less. It definitely shares that immediate rush of endless power and torque that will propel the car forward at a rate most people have never felt, and frankly, that many can’t handle.

Is it that quick? Yes. It pins you back deep into the seats as if you’ve been shot out of a cannon. The car accelerates as quickly as a big block Chevelle that can pick its front tires up off the ground. In fact, it takes off just as well from a standing start as it does rolling along at 70 mph (or greater). Just point, aim and shoot! But how does it corner? Does it feel nimble when you throw it around or does it feel like a big, heavy sedan? The answer, in every category we experienced, was you quickly forget you are in a sedan. It didn’t take me long to go into Corvette mentality.

However, a key difference between the Caddy and the Z06 Corvette is that you can put the power to the ground a lot quicker and keep it planted throughout the first three gears in the CTS-V. I’m talking wide open throttle. In a Z06, um, well, without racing tires or launch control, not so much. No matter how skilled you are, launch a Z06 at wide open throttle and most of that power goes up in tire smoke. Very expensive tire smoke. Shift and repeat, shift and repeat again. Needless to say, I strongly believe the Z06 should come from Chevrolet wearing Pilot Sports as well (ahem, if you’re listening GM, please and thank you).

Another interesting point is that while the CTS-V has 51 more horsepower than a Z06, it also weighs roughly a thousand pounds more. Those extra pounds probably help keep the rear tires planted when you dig into the throttle. Yet even with the extra weight helping with traction, you’d still expect a car with 551 foot pounds of torque to be a handful to drive. It’s not. But don’t let that lull you into comfort, either. One good stab of the throttle at the wrong time, in a curve or on wet pavement, can (and eventually will) override any traction system that’s trying to save you from yourself.

However, while the amount of “hold back” or “saving grace” of the system almost defies physics, it also lets you have enough freedom to thoroughly enjoy the massive power of the car without feeling overly restricted (at least on the street). There were clearly more engineering hours devoted to this area than the guys in the white jackets will likely ever get credit for. To all of them, we say it here. Kudos!

Key Difference in Driving a CTS-V Sedan Versus a Traditional Sports Car

With all this talk of horsepower, traction, acceleration, etc., it’s almost easy to forget what car we are talking about or why we were invited to this event. The point was to experience what life is like for a “typical” Cadillac owner. So in that spirit, I offer this explanation of (at least in my mind) what is likely the key difference most operators will experience between driving their CTS-V Sedan and driving a two-door sports car.

When you purchase a sports car of any similar performance level, you are more likely to drive it on twisty back roads or on a track than to go, say, pick up the groceries. You go into the purchase expecting it to behave like a sports car. Therefore, every time you strap into it, you mentally prepare yourself for what you are about to do behind the wheel and how you plan to do it. At least, we hope.

However, when you purchase a Cadillac, even the uber fast CTS-V Sedan, you may expect it to be fast, but you also have to keep in mind that most of these customers will probably be driving it to dinner, the airport, the opera, etc., far more often than in a competition-type setting. So, unless the owner actually understands what driving a 556 horsepower car is like (which few people really, truly do), then you don’t want them to unpleasantly “surprise” themselves too often. They aren’t going to think “race car” when they strap in each time. In fact, more often than not, they are going to think pedestrian thoughts. It’s a different approach to entering a similarly capable supercar animal.

So while on the one hand, having a 556 horsepower sedan is the coolest thing on earth, you also have to remember that Cadillac is charged with serving it up in a package that is much more civilized than a race car, enabling function to match form. This is another area where the traction control system on this car is phenomenal and key to the safety of the car. It keeps the car planted and in control in situations where cars of similar power to weight ratio would be sideways and/or all over the road, enabling you to drive your kids to school, your significant other to dinner, or even making a run to the grocery store, all without (as much) constant threat of getting sideways or taking out the guardrail. Essentially, it is as much about preventative safety and going “slow enough” as it is about putting down power and going “fast enough.”

Sometimes it’s hard to remember, but the CTS-V Sedan was not built to be a race car, per se (just don’t tell Andy Pilgrim that). It was built to be a luxurious daily driver. It is a car that most “typical” Cadillac owners, with a little bit of diligence and common sense, can probably handle driving everyday without fear. Though a little healthy fear wouldn’t hurt (just saying)!

Extreme Stealth Value

One of the key attributes that I’m fairly certain Cadillac or GM is not likely to tout (but that this car delivers buckets of) is what we like to call “stealth value.” That is, to the untrained eye (which includes roughly 98% or more of the general populace), the CTS-V Sedan blends in. Especially if you order yours in a non-flashy color (such as white, silver or charcoal). On face value alone, it looks like a typical Cadillac family sedan.

What? But why oh why would anyone want their awesome hot rod Caddy to blend in? Two words – Hamthrax evasion. You see, no one expects this car to take off like a rocket ship or to be comfortably cruising down the interstate at triple digits. Not that most of you would do that very often (yeah, riiight).

Even for those who like to drive at 20 over the limit (or so) but are always concerned about getting pinched by the Hamthrax (ahem, any color Corvette + speed = instant attention), this car offers the perfect solution. Cops aren’t looking for family sedans. They are looking for the guy in the Corvette, the Camaro, or those other high horsepower coupes that are all trying to slip under the radar … and failing miserably.

In these times of empty state coffers, the fuzz are out in force, going after the easy revenue now more than ever. But if you factor in potential savings over the life of the car by avoiding tickets and insurance rate increases, that “stealth value” could really add up to substantial savings in operating costs! Hey, Team Hall & Nass is just looking out for you! It’s what Pirate Pig, our Hamthrax-avoiding mascot, likes for us to do. Viva la Pirate Pig! :@)~

Easy to Lose Yourself In

After enjoying the CTS-V far longer than we probably should have, but not nearly as long as we’d have liked to, the moment came to return the car. A few miles before reaching our destination, the Four Season Resort in Las Colinas, I handed over the controls of the car to Charlie. He got to do a few hard launches from the lights and dove on the brakes plenty, but not much in the way of speed runs. There was too much traffic!

For the record, I do feel bad for hogging up the majority of the drive time. Feel bad for Charlie, that is. Honestly, I was enjoying driving this car so much that had he not reminded me to pull over and switch off, the thought of getting out of the car would have never occurred to me. Sorry Charlie!

The one thing Charlie got to do that was a real defining moment on our drive (and on the video) is when we pulled up at a light behind a new Porsche 911. With a little encouragement from me, Charlie put the Caddy into neutral and cleaned the throttle out a couple of times. What played out in front of us was priceless. First, the heads of both the driver and the passenger immediately jerked up and around. Then, the driver reached for his rearview mirror, adjusted it, and we could actually see his eyeballs bulge in the mirror’s reflection. That’s right, bud. That deep roar that just shook you and your Porsche to its very core? Yeah, that came out from under the hood of the Cadillac sedan parked on your rear bumper. The reaction was priceless! This is not your mother’s Cadillac. This is the big bad wolf in sheep’s clothing that is going to outrun the whole flock (and your grandmother too).

In Summary

We love the CTS-V. It’s the first sedan ever considered truly worthy of the Team Hall & Nass garage. In fact, given how we typically drive (even on a daily basis), it is probably the best overall car for us to own. It is so much more than just (as stated by Cadillac themselves) “the fastest production V8 sedan in the world.” We believe it is also “the most fun you can have in a car with four doors. Period.”

However, we’d really like to spend a full day (or a few) behind the wheel where we can explore the capabilities and characteristics of the car somewhere other than in Dallas rush hour traffic. I could spend at least a few hours just examining the interior features of the car and plenty of time under the hood as well. There is really just so much car there for the money. At $70,000 and change (very well equipped) that’s a tall order, but this is one of those rare cars that can deliver loads of performance and value for the big price tag.

It’s no secret that we hold the C6 Corvette platform up as our personal standard for what any performance car should be like. While that may seem unfair to many, in this case, it is not, as this is a true and worthy competitor to all four flavors of the current C6.

If the car is missing anything, we only have one request. Bring back the ducks on the Cadillac emblem. Only this time around, put them in a V formation. The Cadillac CTS-V. It doesn’t just quack, it honks!

In summary, the best thing we can say (other than we want one) is this: You don’t have to ask if this car will return the favor. Just save the “after smoke” for the tires.

“We’re SO Not Worthy … THANK YOU GM”

Though we said this in both parts of our Cadillac Lifestyle posts, and it certainly bears repeating again here. We’d like to publicly thank Donna McLallen (@GMTexas on Twitter), Vicki Cosgrove and everyone on the GM South Central US Team for being kind enough (and crazy enough) to invite us to this event. Without their kind, good faith invitation, we wouldn’t be able to bring you, the wonderful fans and followers of Team Hall & Nass, this incredible tale to enjoy. We owe you a big one (as well as some brake pads linings and perhaps a bit of tire tread too …)!

Team Hall & Nass Cadillac Week Coverage

We hope y’all have enjoyed our Team Hall & Nass Cadillac Week coverage thus far. Tune in tomorrow for what may be our most exciting post of the week, titled, “Team Hall & Nass and Burnout Radio CTS-V Sedan Drive – Caught on Camera(s).” It’s a post of few words … well, of the written variety. Remember the two video cameras I mentioned at the top of this post? That’s right! Better dig out your driving gloves, zip up that fire suit and tighten down those belts. You’re going with us on a wild and crazy ride!

Due to new FTC guidelines, please note that GM didn’t pay us to write any of this, nor did they ask us to. (After reading some of this, they may even prefer that we hadn’t!). They simply provided dinner and access to their cars and, in turn, we had the “Cadillac” of experiences. We sincerely thank everyone at GM and Cadillac South Central Region marketing who made this possible, and all of you, our amazing fans. We couldn’t do this without you. We love you all!

This blog entry has been approved by Pirate Pig, official mascot of Team Hall & Nass. Pirate Pig offers hamthrax protection for all, and would like to remind you, “IF YOU’VE JUST BEEN PASSED, THEN YOU’RE NOT HALL & NASS!” :@)~





Team Hall & Nass Preview the 2010 Cadillac Lifestyle, Part 2 of 2

26 01 2010

Team Hall & Nass Preview the 2010 Cadillac Lifestyle, Part 2 of 2

Working Our Way to Checkpoint Two

When Charlie said he didn’t know where we were going, he wasn’t kidding! After a series of u-turns and wrong turns, it finally occurs to me that I have a nav system in the dash in front of me. DUH! However, before I can plug in the address of the next checkpoint, Donna from GM calls my cell and tells me I am less than a block away. Sure enough, when we pull around one of the many office buildings (all there seems to be in this part of Las Colinas), we discover both a row of Cadillacs sitting there and Donna standing there shaking her head at us. Oops!

After I quickly summarize that I got “punked” by Charlie, she just laughs and escorts us inside and up to the top of the office building for our next surprise. I don’t know what the scene was when everyone else pulled into Via Real at Checkpoint One, but this was impressive!

Breathtaking Views from the Top

The “super secret” and hard to find Checkpoint Two was none other than the exclusive and private La Cima Club. Perched on top of the Williams Square building in Irving, Texas (known as host to the “world’s largest equestrian sculpture” in front of the building), the unobstructed view in all directions is unparalleled by any other building in the area. On a clear day (which it certainly was on our visit), you can see all of the skyscrapers of Dallas (10 miles to the east) and of Fort Worth (30 miles to the west) and all points in between. But the ClubCorp-owned La Cima is not just known for its breathtaking views and private membership. It’s known for its exquisite fine dining. The fine folks at GM and Cadillac did not let this “typical” Cadillac owner’s experience evade us either.

As we dined on hand-prepared lobster rolls and sipped fine, non-alcoholic sparkling cider (after all, this is a driving event!), we were entertained by a presentation from both the general manager of the club and the head sous chef, who had returned to La Cima after years of working in other equally impressive establishments. It was quite the tasty snack!

As an added bonus, Nick (Charlie’s partner in crime and the other half of Burnout Radio) had joined us for the remainder of the evening, so I knew the next leg was likely going to contain even more fun-filled hijinx and laughs. Boy howdy! If I’d only known what was coming next!

Breathtaking Views from the Valet Stand

While I can (and do) appreciate fine dining and breathtaking views of Dallas, did I happen to mention what GM and Cadillac had lined up for we, the lucky few, to climb all over, experience and drive at this event? Here is the rundown: About a dozen second generation 2010 SRX Crossovers, an all-new 2010 CTS Sport Wagon, and the coup de gras – a silver 2010 CTS-V Sedan.

When first invited to this event, I had been told there “may” be a CTS-V on hand, but no guarantees. On the day of the event, I had reached out to Donna at GM and inquired about the CTS-V again. She had said “maybe so … but who knows?” I had jokingly tweeted her that if it was going to be there, I hoped they brought an extra set of Michelin Pilot Sports and brake pads because between myself and Burnout Radio they were likely going to need replacing after, and perhaps even during, the event. Her reply, “NOT if you’d like to be invited back!”

All joking aside, I really didn’t expect to get a chance to drive the CTS-V. As I was leaving Checkpoint One, I noticed a silver CTS-V sitting there, but it was awaiting one of the Cadillac reps to drive it to the next stop after we were all gone. So I figured it was there for us to see, but not necessarily to drive. I figured I’d do well to get my hands on the CTS Sport Wagon for the run from Checkpoint Two to Three. At least then I would have a chance to find out just how well the Wagon would get away from Charlie in the SRX.

However, as I looked out over the lineup of Caddys in the valet area of the Williams Square building, there sat the silver CTS-V, quietly off to the side. So while the rest of the crowd was getting intimate with a guided tour of the SRX’s many cool interior and exterior features, I eased across the lot and began taking photos of and admiring the CTS-V up close and personal.

Contemplating Grand Theft Auto

It wasn’t the first CTS-V I’d seen, nor was it the first one I could get inside of. It was, however, the first one I may actually have an outside shot at getting behind the wheel of unsupervised with an opportunity to see what it actually would do (albeit on traffic jam-filled roads for a very short duration of time). Nonetheless, it was just too close to not try to beg, borrow, or even to come up with a strategy to “steal” a few rare moments of driving time in it, if it came down to that.

As if they could read my mind, another GM rep approached where I was standing and encouraged me to “come on over and hear all about the SRX” … but my mind was spinning on ways to get behind he wheel of the CTS-V.

After a few brief words with Charlie and Nick about how it would be nice to “snag” the CTS-V, I turned my attention to chatting up the Cadillac rep. As it turns out, Thomas D’Angelo, Cadillac’s new Regional Marketing Manager for the South Central Region, was a real joy to talk to. He had moved to Texas from Southern California and was settling into the market. We talked quite a bit about what Cadillac is doing to distinguish themselves as a brand, the exciting new lineup of cars, and all sorts of good things. Finally, I got around to asking him if there was any chance at getting some seat time in the CTS-V. He said it might be tough, but hopefully we’d get a chance at some point.

Committing Grand Theft Auto

No sooner than those words had been uttered, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Nick easing over to the CTS-V. At first he appeared to be admiring it, but then, suddenly, it happened. Nick slipped into the passenger seat of the CTS-V, their photographer Katie climbed into the back, and Charlie, suddenly standing next to the driver’s door, grinned at me, and then gave me the “come on” wave.

I quickly excused myself from the conversation and made a beeline across the parking lot. Charlie says, “Get in. QUICK!” Not being one to dally, I only paused long enough to ask, “You sure you don’t want to drive?” To which he responded, “We’ll switch out later, but I’m not going to pass up a Team Hall & Nass ride along. Now get in and let’s get out of here!” I didn’t hesitate to ask additional questions. It was go time.

A few brief moments later, with two video cameras rolling (mine filming from Nick’s lap up at me as I drove, Katie filming forward from the right rear), I pulled the CTS-V into gear and we slipped out of the parking lot and around the building. As I neared the exit onto the surface street, I made sure everyone had their seat belts securely fastened. I then tromped on the throttle and sideways we went out of the exit and through traffic in search of some open road.

CTS-V Sedan – The Caddy So Nice We Covered It Twice

There are not enough colorful words, phrases, etc. to describe what our brief time behind the wheel of the CTS-V was like. In fact, we used so many trying to that, after writing it all out, we decided it warranted its own separate blog entry. Yeah, we went on about it that much (and it was worth every letter). So be sure to check out our separate post titled “Team Hall & Nass Preview the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V” for our superfluous attempt at trying to describe what it’s like behind the wheel of this classy beast.

As an added bonus, when you read our separate blog entry all about our impression of the CTS-V from behind the wheel, you will receive instructions on where and how to view the complete Team Hall & Nass and Burnout Radio event, exactly as it happened, all on video. Believe me, you’re going to want to witness the mayhem. It’s quite the scene!

Is It Really Stealing If You Return It? – The Joy and the Guilt

As our all too brief drive of the CTS-V drew to a close, we turned into the entrance of the Four Seasons and pulled up to the front. Immediately, two things were very noticeable. One was the unmistakable smell of hot brakes and rubber emanating from the car. (Man, I’m sure glad Charlie was behind the wheel for the last leg!). The second, which was actually the first thing I noticed, was Donna from GM. She was standing there amongst others from GM with her arms folded. She didn’t look amused. In fact, she had what one could only describe as a classic “mom” look on her face. Ot oh. We were SO busted!

I figured I’d just throw myself at the mercy of the court, but before I could even get a word out, she began the conversation. It went something like this:

Donna (with stern face) – “Did you get my text?”
Me (with sheepish face) – “Um, sorry, no. We were a little busy …”
Donna – “You know, as soon as they realized the CTS-V was missing, I didn’t even have to look around for you guys. I knew where it (and you) went. There was no doubt!”
Me – “Well, we, um, kinda, sorta, um, yeah. Hey! It wasn’t all my idea!”
Donna – (still stern) “Yeah. Uh huh. Riight.”
Me (grinning) – “Well, we were here to ‘experience the Cadillac lifestyle’ and all. We just couldn’t resist! Plus, you know that we babied it. I mean, sure, we drove it, but, I swear, we behaved very well! Besides, we were in stuck in traffic most of the time. We didn’t even break XXX mph … ish (wink).”
Donna (shaking her head and perhaps suppressing a smile) – “I don’t want to know about that! I’m just glad you brought it back!”

As we walked inside to yet another exquisite treat for the palate, I quickly checked my phone. Sure enough, two missed calls and one text from none other than Donna. I took a breath and then opened the text. It read, “Hmmm hmmm. You hijacked the V. You know, they’re making me stand in the cold until you show up….”

I’ve known Donna for awhile on Twitter and have met her in person before, but I didn’t know her that well before this event. So I didn’t know for sure if we had really stepped in it, or not. I immediately found her inside of the event and apologized profusely. At that moment, I believe our friendship bonded. She couldn’t keep the stern face up any longer. She laughed and told me it was okay and that she was teasing.

Now, to this day, while I’m fairly certain that Donna was kidding me about the teasing, I secretly hope they didn’t really make her stand out in the cold and wait for those crazies she invited from the “online world” to their media event to return their $70k+ hot rod Cadillac. (Then again, she was standing out there and looked more than a bit relieved when we first pulled in …). Of course, we did return it, we drove it with reasonable care, and we praised it on Twitter live from the event. And now (finally) here on our blog and on YouTube, we are more than happy to do not only one, but two posts on the topic. The car(s), the event, and the fine folks at GM all deserve praise on all counts. There wasn’t a single thing they could have done better for us. It was more than we deserved, and we really, really appreciate it!

Checkpoint Three – The Four Seasons Las Colinas

Any feelings I had of guilt were quickly replaced with euphoria as I sampled some of the delectable treats the executive chef had prepared for us. However, the deserts were truly mind melting. Kind of like those Michelins out in the parking lot …! We were entertained by a description of the selections by the head sous chef, and given the run down of the resort and events it typically hosts by the general manager of the hotel. It was everything you expect from the Four Seasons. Good show!

Checkpoint Four – Via Real Restaurant

It was a short walk (yes, walk, not drive) outside the back of the Four Seasons over to Via Real. Back to where the evening began. Upon entry, we were treated to the option of driving any of the Cadillacs that had been brought over to the parking lot, or to begin consuming fine alcoholic beverages if we were finished experiencing the vehicles. Even though I thought about obtaining the CTS Sport Wagon for a nice drive, I also figured I’d let the tires cool off for a bit and instead enjoy the networking.

There was an interesting mix of traditional and non-traditional media present, but again, there were only a few of us in total. I met a gentleman who, upon sharing with him that we do a bit of rallying, told me how many Gumball 3000s he’d been on. I had to laugh. You just never know where fellow rally enthusiasts are going to show up.

We spent the rest of the evening chatting up the fine folks at GM, and of course, enjoying the appetizers, entrees and dessert selections Via Real had prepared for us. The dinner was amazing, the company was grand, and the event as a whole was first class all the way.

In Summary

It is my wish that no matter what your background or station in life, that at some point, if not everyday, each and every one of you reading this get to experience the “Cadillac lifestyle” as the General intended. Believe me, it is worth every penny!

Team Hall & Nass Cadillac Week Coverage

We hope y’all are enjoying our Team Hall & Nass Cadillac Week coverage. The carnage (we mean, coverage) continues tomorrow with our CTS-V ride and drive preview. Better get ready to strap yourself in and/or hold onto something tight for that one!

Due to new FTC guidelines, please note that GM didn’t pay us to write any of this, nor did they ask us to. (After reading some of this, they may even prefer that we hadn’t!). They simply provided dinner and access to their cars and, in turn, we had the “Cadillac” of experiences. We sincerely thank everyone at GM and Cadillac South Central Region marketing who made this possible, and all of you, our amazing fans. We couldn’t do this without you. We love you all!

This blog entry has been approved by Pirate Pig, official mascot of Team Hall & Nass. Pirate Pig offers hamthrax protection for all, and would like to remind you, “IF YOU’VE JUST BEEN PASSED, THEN YOU’RE NOT HALL & NASS!” :@)~





Team Hall & Nass Preview the 2010 Cadillac Lifestyle, Part 1 of 2

25 01 2010

Team Hall & Nass Preview the 2010 Cadillac Lifestyle, Part 1 of 2

Preface

What you’re about to read is not your typical Team Hall & Nass review (as if we ever do anything “typical” anyway). We’re not going to focus on one single car, one outrageous performance, or just another thrill ride shared via words by yours truly. No, this is something different. Something special. An experience that only the “new” General Motors could provide (and one we are eternally grateful for being invited to). What you are about to read is both a glimpse into what life is like for the “typical” modern-day Cadillac owner accompanied by a snapshot driving review of a few cool new cars within the 2010 Cadillac lineup, ala Team Hall & Nass style.

“We’re SO Not Worthy … THANK YOU GM”

We’d like to publicly thank Donna McLallen (@GMTexas on Twitter), Vicki Cosgrove and everyone on the GM South Central Region Team for being kind enough (and crazy enough) to invite us to this event. Without their kind, good faith invitation, we wouldn’t be able to bring you, the wonderful fans and followers of Team Hall & Nass, this incredible tale you’re about to enjoy. We owe you a big one (as well as some brake pad linings and perhaps a bit of tire tread too …)!

The Exclusive Event Invite

Officially billed as the Cadillac Culinary Media Tour, this event was an opportunity for select members of the Texas automotive media to experience what life is like for the “typical” Cadillac owner. There was a lot of fine dining, many breathtaking views, with glamour and elegance all around (and that’s not even talking about the venues we visited!). But all the fine dining and white glove treatment aside, the real attraction was the chance to get down and dirty (in a very stylish way) with select cars from the exciting new 2010 Cadillac vehicle lineup. However, the experience of the entire event is more than noteworthy, so we’ll go on (and on) here about both!

It is here that I must publicly admit to something. There was not a “we” on this adventure. When invited, it was stressed that only one of us could attend due to the limited number of seats and cars at this event. So in the spirit of full disclosure here, that means this time out, it was all Hall and no Nass. Though fear not, our faithful fans of non-traditional auto review driving! I did not play calm, cool, or collected at this event. No cars got babied (beyond the view of the parking lots, anyway). There was still the proverbial Nass that got Hall(ed) on all of the test drives! We’ll get to that in a bit …

The Experience Begins at Checkpoint One

The event began with a meeting in the parking lot of Via Real Restaurant in Las Colinas, Texas (a suburb of Dallas). We were supposed to arrive by 3:30 PM. Of course, I was running a bit late, so by the time I arrived almost everyone had already headed out toward the next “secret” location in their pick of 2010 Cadillacs. I say almost everyone because when I whipped into the lot, I saw Charlie from BurnoutRadio.com (@BurnoutRadio on Twitter) standing next to a lady I didn’t know in the parking lot. I assumed she must be part of the GM Texas team. You know what happens when you ASSUME … right?!? (more on that in a bit). As soon as I spied him in shorts & tennis shoes, I felt a sense of ease. Not only could I stop feeling badly about wearing jeans with my button down, but I also began to feel that maybe I kinda, sorta did belong at this event. Yay! I also spotted Vicki from GM (waiting patiently, I might add) for me to arrive and sign the release papers so we could all head out toward the next location on the Tour.

After signing my life and good credit away in case I destroyed the car(s) (perhaps they DO know me better than I think they do …), Vicki directed me toward a brand new second generation 2010 Cadillac SRX Crossover and explained that it was all mine to experience en route to the next destination. She said the directions of the carefully laid out driving route were in the passenger seat, to be careful and to have fun on my solo drive.

Charlie and the aforementioned lady I didn’t yet know were already belted into a 2010 CTS Sport Wagon and appeared to be getting adjusted. I pulled up next to them and made a “tactical” decision. I figured I’d just follow them so I could enjoy the drive versus worrying about trying to read the printed directions. After all, Charlie appeared to have a GM rep riding shotgun with him, so what could go wrong?

SIDE NOTE – If you think you’re going to just “follow” Charlie from Burnout Radio and all will be fine, well, you’re only half right.

As I waited on Charlie to pull out ahead of me, he put his window down, laughed, shouted something about how the seat adjustment control was smarter than he was (one of the many reasons I love Burnout Radio), and then he says to me, “What are YOU waiting for? I replied, “I’m just going to follow y’all.” He laughed and said, “That might not be the best idea, but okay! Let’s go!” After which, Charlie whips sideways out of the lot in the CTS Wagon with me on his tail … and away we went!

An Olfactory Delight

I have to stop the action here for a moment and share this bit of personal history with you. The second I sat down in the SRX, something clicked. It didn’t hit me on a conscious level immediately, but deep within the recesses of my mind, something was welling up. It didn’t take long to surface either. In fact, as soon as I started down the road, it hit me. One single, but overwhelming, thought. All I could think of was “Momma.”

You see, my mom drove Cadillacs for years. But what in the world could this 2010 crossover have in common with the Coupe deVilles, Sevilles and STSs of my family’s past? What could it be? There was only one answer – the leather. The moment I was enveloped in the smell of the gorgeous and well appointed 2010 Cadillac SRX leather interior, my brain went back to all those years of my youth spent riding shotgun alongside my mom on outings near and far around our small hometown. All of her Cadillacs had the same smell in them when they were new. Oddly enough, even over time, as the scents of Estee Lauder and V05 permeated the interiors as well, that original smell lingered until the day they were traded in on another Caddy. I vividly recall how the scent was very different from the smells you’d find inside of new Corvettes, Silverados, Tahoes, etc.

Sure, there is that famous “new car smell” that everyone talks about and loves. Such wonderful smells that usually fade away after the first year or so of daily driving duties. However, the smell of a brand new Cadillac is different not only in scent but in longevity. Trust me, there is a difference. I am as sure of that distinct smell as most people are that the Pope is Catholic or that two plus two equals four. It is the smell of my childhood. It is the smell of many morning trips to school, to grandma’s house in the summer, to the swimming pool or the movies with friends, the chaperoned drives of my first dates and to my first homecoming dance, the joyous ride to my high school graduation, the sad ride to my grandfather’s funeral, even the ride to the celebratory dinner after my college graduation. It is one of the more distinct smells of my past, my family, my life. It is uniquely Cadillac, and in its own way, a part of me.

So much for being able to be “objective” … HA! At this point, the cars I drive at this event would pretty much have to really unimpress to get a bad word spoken about them. I’m not one minute inside of the first one I drive and they are already like family to me. I feel safe and at home. I also want to call my mom.

First Impression of the Second Generation 2010 SRX

While part of me is off dreaming in my head of my family’s history with Cadillac, I’m also very much in the moment, soaking up the present day amenities of the SRX. I’ve got the massive skyroof all the way open (now THIS is a sunroof almost worthy of drop top status!) and the rather impressive stereo system blaring a Jimmy Buffett song (courtesy of Radio Margaritaville on XM Satellite Radio). While you’d think I’m relaxed and in full luxury cruise mode, lest you not forget that I am also in full pursuit of Charlie from Burnout Radio who is in the greater-powered, sport-tuned CTS Sport Wagon and currently running at full throttle down a very bumpy suburban street. Yeah, it’s time to see what this puppy will do under Team Hall & Nass “real world driving” conditions.

With little to no traffic around, my heavy right foot and faith in Cadillac engineering, I hold the pedal down while I marvel at the SRXs ability to stay planted over bumps that the city of Las Colinas and Dallas Country should be ashamed for letting pass as paved public roads. I’m sure the local speed limit is probably in the 30-45 range, but these are things I don’t typically worry about anyway, much less when I’m shaking down a vehicle.

Amazingly enough, the limits of the suspension travel in the SRX are yet to be met, even as I watch the CTS Sport Wagon show daylight under the back tires (and sometimes all four tires … at once!) while Charlie flies over the massive dips, bumps and jumps in the road. If I didn’t know better, I’d almost swear he was trying to lose me! However, even with a heavier gross vehicle weight and 39 less horsepower on tap (the SRX has a 265 HP DOHC 3.0 liter V6 versus the 304 HP 3.6 liter V6 in the CTS Sport Wagon), I find myself on the brakes more often than not trying to stay off his back bumper. With this kind of performance, I can’t wait to drive the upcoming 300 horse 2.8 liter turbo V6! Of course, that said, I bet if I were in the CTS Wagon and Charlie was in the SRX, I’d have already checked out … but that’s just speculation.

As we continue our game of cat and mouse on the streets of Las Colinas, two things begin to occur to me. 1) There is no way, no way, that Charlie knows where he is going, and 2) If that’s a GM employee riding with him, she is either a former GM performance group person or an adrenaline junkie!

Getting Punked by Burnout Radio

After about 15 minutes of chasing the CTS Sport Wagon around (without any trouble keeping up, mind you), we finally come to a stop in front of an office building. I figure something is up when I immediately notice that there are no signs of any other Cadillacs or anyone else around for that matter. When I pull up next to Charlie and roll down the window, he jumps out of the CTS and yells. “Congratulations Berry Lowman! You’ve just been on your first Burnout Radio ride and drive!” He then introduces me to Katie, his personal photographer. Yep, NOT a GM rep!

You’ve got to love Charlie. He’s just that funny. He can be serious at times, but he’s always funny! So after realizing that I’ve officially been punked on my first media event with Burnout Radio, I ask him where we’re supposed to be. His reply? “Somewhere on top of one of these office buildings around here … which one I don’t have a clue! The first thing I do on all of these media drives is throw the map out the window. We just drive around, have fun, pick a location, shoot the cars, then try to catch up to where we’re supposed to be.” Once I stop laughing, I jump out and start shooting pics of the cars as well. I figure this is just the beginning of the evening’s adventure. Little did I know it was only going to get better from here!

Team Hall & Nass Cadillac Week Coverage

We hope y’all are enjoying our Team Hall & Nass Cadillac Week coverage. The carnage (we mean, coverage) continues tomorrow with part 2 of 2 of our 2010 Cadillac Lifestyle Preview.

Due to new FTC guidelines, please note that GM didn’t pay us to write any of this, nor did they ask us to. (After reading some of this, they may even prefer that we hadn’t!). They simply provided dinner and access to their cars and, in turn, we had the “Cadillac” of experiences. We sincerely thank everyone at GM and Cadillac South Central Region marketing who made this possible, and all of you, our amazing fans. We couldn’t do this without you. We love you all!

This blog entry has been approved by Pirate Pig, official mascot of Team Hall & Nass. Pirate Pig offers hamthrax protection for all, and would like to remind you, “IF YOU’VE JUST BEEN PASSED, THEN YOU’RE NOT HALL & NASS!” :@)~





Return of the 4DSC – Team Hall & Nass Review the 2010 Nissan Maxima 3.5 S

16 11 2009

"Maxie" - Our Hertz Maxima
Return of the 4DSC – Team Hall & Nass Review the 2010 Nissan Maxima 3.5 S

We recently spent two weeks driving around Florida in a brand spanking new, fairly well equipped 2010 Nissan Maxima 3.5 S courtesy of the fine folks at Hertz. The following are our impressions of driving the car in real world conditions.

Prepping the Ride

For starters, we were both a bit excited and a little skeptical when we discovered the Winter Frost (white) Maxima sitting in our stall when we arrived at the Hertz Gold pickup in Orlando.

Excited because they had given us an obviously brand new car, something we haven’t seen a lot of from Hertz lately, especially in this down economy. The car was so new we actually spent the first ten minutes removing remaining bits of white protective wrapping still clinging to the edges of the hood, doors and trunk lid (come on Hertz!). This would be a real pain if we were in a hurry, but hey, we were embarking on a “working vacation” in Florida, and we were about to do so in a brand new ride, so you have to put it in perspective. So we instead chose to think of it as unwrapping our vacation present.

As Jimmy Buffett might say, “Where there are no hurries, there are no worries!”

The Curse of the Camry

Our initial skepticism came from a place caused by years of being forced (via lack of decent selection) to drive way to many rental fleet sedans that consistently deliver the typical, plain, vanilla, bored out of our minds to the point we feel “punished” for having to drive them experience. The best/worst illustration of this is embodied by the sedan most of America loves to love and that driving enthusiasts everywhere love to hate – the Toyota Camry.

Whilst this is NOT a Camry review, please allow this small digression/rant as illustration of a larger point. In my humble opinion, the Toyota Camry continues to be THE most boring car built on the planet. Is it reliable? Sure, I guess, but it is just plain BORING to drive! It contains absolutely no frills, inspires no chills, but yet no doubt endures plenty sippy cup spills. The fact that the Camry is so widely popular with the American public and rental fleets everywhere only serves as further reinforcement of my core belief that far too many people in this country are NOT in touch with their inner driver. In fact, I fear it proves that many do not even possess a real driving gene anywhere in their DNA at all. Yikes!

You know the people I’m speaking of. Those who are simply content to put their bland transportation-mobiles in gear and wander from point A to point B, shamefully taking their place in the never ending clog of poor drivers idling along the roads of our great land (usually in the left passing lanes nonetheless). Do these people really have such small ambitions or such bland life goals? Do they truly have no desire to ever seek automotive thrills or to have any fun? Their selection of automobile and their driving styles all suggests this to be true. To say the least, I firmly believe Camry’s typically belong to those who are not what one would call driving enthusiasts by any stretch!

To this whole rambling point I’d like to further add that the next time Hertz desires to “upgrade” us from “full size car” to another Camry (when I can clearly see other, MUCH better cars in the lot), could you please give us another choice? A Camry is certainly NOT an upgrade (unless all you have left in your fleet are Corollas, in which case, okay, maybe then it could be called an “upgrade”). Okay, rant over, back to our review.

New is Nice

The new Maxima sat there beaming like a car with only 86 miles on the odometer should. What I didn’t know at the time was that this little Nissan was about to treat us to two weeks of completely surprising automotive joy and bliss in many ways!

The first time we opened the doors to climb in, that unmistakable smell of new car wafted over us like a fine perfume. Ahhh. You know the one. It’s that wonderful smell that calls out to a true driver and says “get in here and love me like you know you want to!” We discovered a push button start, one touch windows all around (up AND down) and sunroof to match, easy to read orange backlit gauges, a decent sound system that happily accepted my iPod input, comfortable seating positions with seats that actually went back further than I needed (at 6’4”, this rarely happens), two large cup holders (something that just a few years ago couldn’t be found anywhere within a ten mile radius of a Japanese make), a leather wrapped steering wheel that just feels right with push button audio and cruise system controls in just the right place, a steering column that tilts down and telescopes out to where the wheel optimally needs to be, and an overall feel that makes you feel like you’ve just entered a real cockpit, not a standard rental sedan. All of this in just the “base” S model. So far, so good!

Then comes the all important part, I placed the key fob in the provided holding slot (a nice touch that even the current C6 Corvette is lacking), put my foot on the brake pedal and pressed the start button. What was that? I thought I heard a little growl emit from somewhere out behind us. Could it be …? Nah. So I pulled the console mounted automatic transmission lever into drive and set out for the exit booth.

As we pulled out onto the street, I eased up to the next traffic light and made some final mirror adjustments. While sitting there waiting for the green, a new Dodge Charger (not an SRT, but a standard V8 Hemi car) pulled up next to us. The Dodge driver revved his engine. What? Seriously? Was that for us? At first I laughed at the hilarity of this, but being one who never backs down from an automotive challenge, I decided it was a perfect time to see what we had to look forward to out of the 3.5 liter 290 horsepower V6 in the coming weeks. Sure she looked good, smelled new and felt great to sit in, but I didn’t really expect much going head to head from a standing start against the Dodge.

Shock and Awe…some!

The light turned green, I floored it, and two surprising things happened. The first is that the Dodge immediately began losing ground to us … and kept losing. I actually let up to see if he’d not come out of the hole or something and let him pull up to us, but he seemed to still be fully in it, so I hit it again. Same result, only this time, the pulling away was even more amplified. What?!? Then the second surprise occurred to me. In my brief moment of shock and awe, I had failed to notice that the tach was eerily sitting squarely up against the bottom edge of the redline range at 6500 RPM, and yet the Maxima hadn’t shifted. WHAT?!? Oh yeah, it’s got a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). Then, as the speedo swept past 100 and was still headed to the right in a hurry, I just shifted my eyes back and forth between the two gauges and said out loud, “WHAT THE F*&%?!?!?” I only let up (slightly) at this point because we had to brake a bit to set up for a sweeping right onto an on ramp, where I quickly discovered that not only was the acceleration of this Maxima so deceptively smooth and sudden that you don’t realize how quickly it has done so, but that it will go around a corner at speed like it is mounted on rails. This is no Maxima. At least not the Maxima we all used to know. This is basically an Infinity G35 in a Nissan wrapper!

When I looked over at my co-pilot and reported our speeds both before and through the corner, she said, “Seriously? No! Really? Then no wonder we just dusted that Dodge so badly!” I honestly felt like we’d just entered the Twilight Zone or something. This is a Nissan, a rental car, a family hauler, a (gulp) rental fleet sedan! How could this be?

As I contemplated all of this, I stood back on the throttle and a wicked grin started to spread over my face. The grin intensified when it suddenly occurred to me that even thought we had not paid extra on this trip to rent a sports car, we had just been issued a FUN rental sedan that had a bit of stealth street fighter hidden within. Now this is an “upgrade” I can drive!

If there is any downside to this car being in a rental fleet, it is that if any Camry drivers out there ever accidentally climb into one of these, they might actually die from a cardiac episode when they glance down at the speedometer after ten seconds of holding the smooth throttle pedal down and realize that they are at humming along at triple digit speeds versus the 50 or 60-something MPH they are typically comfortable tooling along at. Good thing the brakes are solid too! Then again, wouldn’t the world be better off with a few less of these folks on the road should some of them faint and/or pass on from the shock? That’s just a public safety risk I’m going to have to be willing to live with!

The Maxima continued to be a fun driver every day and did a superb job of running us around South Orlando and the Disney property the first week. In fact, I actually found myself running extra errands around town just so I could get a few more miles of driving it in! However, it wasn’t until we packed up and headed toward the coast for the beach portion of our vacation that we really started to discover and appreciate the benefits of this truly stealth sedan.

Rear View of Maxie
Flying Under the Radar

If you know us or have followed any of our previous rally, racing or just regular driving exploits, you know we don’t typically make a habit out of driving what anyone would refer to as “slow” very often, and then it is usually restricted to residential areas and school zones. You see, we always strive to drive smart, but we also drive what some might call “fast” or “a bit spirited.” Translation – when we are out on the open road, we typically only adhere to the posted limits when there is Hamthrax (also known as “police”) involved in some capacity.

In many parts of the US it is easy to get away with speeding, but in the heart of the Southeast, where they lay claim to having invented modern day cat and mouse ambush attacks with radar and other sundry forms of speed enforcement, to exceed posted limits by more than 5-9 MPH is usually taking your license and your insurance rates out of your hands and putting it all into theirs. Getting caught if you keep hauling the 20 MPH and over mail for longer distances is almost certain … or is it?

This isn’t helped by the fact that we typically fly down the highways and byways of this great land in cars the Hamthrax love to target. Two door sports cars with high horsepower, loud exhausts, bright colors, and in makes that are known for being driven fast are all things that add to the likelihood of getting busted for speeding. But since we were in a four door stealth ride, we decided to try our hand at how long can we cruise along over the century mark before we get shut down. The answer was quite surprising.

On our way from Orlando to Daytona Beach on Interstate 4 and up I-95 to St. Augustine, we discovered quite a few cops, but not a single one of them discovered the Maxima. Maybe it was the four doors. Perhaps it was the white paint. It could have also been the Valentine One working overtime. But on this stretch of road where Hamthrax run rampant and there are faster cars to play with a plenty, we discovered a few fun facts.

The Maxima is invisible to most people until after you sneak up out of nowhere and blow their doors off. We found that if you can execute a sneak and jump pass on a new Camaro SS/RS, a Mustang GT, an M5, an S-Class AMG, or even a C5 Corvette, if you can keep making bold moves through the openings in traffic to stay out front and carry your momentum, you get to enjoy many confused and frustrated looks on said owners faces in the rearview mirror as they go to work trying to run you back down for a few miles before giving up. The best part is that they are all truly shocked that they can’t seem to get back to you once you’ve pulled out far enough ahead through all of that traffic!

We maintained our rapid rate for almost an hour until we finally caught up to a cop rolling along on I-95 North in the left lane. We opted to stay a bit behind him (in the far right lane) and had to slow to maintain his 10 MPH over pace. Until then, we had only had to drop below 100 when we caught slower traffic just long enough to set up a pass and then resume. Not one car passed us, NOT ONE, but we passed them all!

In an odd twist of fate, a little four door Toyota Corolla eased up on us and the cop in the middle lane. At the time we were running a steady (and horribly slow feeling) 75 in a 65. After a few miles of flanking the cop the Corolla driver must have lost his mind. He bumped it up to 76 and passed not only us but the cop too! The lights came on immediately and onto the shoulder went the Corolla and the Hamthrax. With that, we jumped back up to the century mark and cruised on up the road. Our sincere thanks to the Toyota driver for being a brave (and ignorant) fool!

The more time we spent behind the wheel of the Maxima, the more we both enjoyed it. By the time we had reached St. Augustine, we had even given it a name – Maxie. We typically name all of the cars we own, but it is rare that we care enough to give a rental a name. In fact, this was only the second time we’ve done so. “Stickers” the Hertz ZHZ C6 Corvette we covered in sponsor decals and ran in the Dustball Rally earlier this year was the only other rental to ever earn a name. THAT was also quite the rental car experience!

In an extremely ironic twist, the last car we had fun outrunning (more like out driving) in traffic on our way to return Maxie to the Orlando airport on our last day was none other than a Hertz ZHZ Corvette. As we approached from behind, I watched the driver try (many times in vain) to pass people on the left and on the right. With a huge head of steam, his apparent lack of driving skill, and local road knowledge on our side, I took advantage of an extended exit run out lane and blew by him on the right. He spent the next several miles trying to catch up to us in bits and spurts as we continued to slowly pull away one pass at a time through rush hour traffic until we couldn’t even see him back there anymore.

As much as I am slathering on the well deserved praise of the surprising and amazing performance attributes of the Maxima, rest assured that if the guy could have driven that Vette, it would have been our first actual loss (the first car to actually pass us) in two weeks. But alas, since he could not drive, and with the Maxima giving us just enough power and handling to get away, a loss it was not. Oh the irony!

Fuel Consumption

One item many people seem to gauge personal vehicle selection on is the fuel mileage rating. However, the nasty little secret of automotive marketing in this area is that fuel mileage numbers are always part myth and part lie with enough truth sprinkled in there somewhere to get your hopes up or to fool you. Sure, if you drive your little four cylinder econobox at 35 MPH for the entire length of a fuel load on flat land with the wind at your back, you too can achieve that amazingly stated fuel mileage average! In reality though, who drives this way? This short answer is NO ONE! So, for the record, we tend to ignore manufacturer and EPA fuel ratings. They never match up anywhere near what we find out firsthand in the field. So we pay close attention, submit real world driving conditions and then call them as we experience them.

Like I said, we drive cars smart, but we typically drive them hard and fast too. Unless you happen to own a Camry, or you are inflicted with that nasty condition where your right leg can only pulse up and down and not remain still, thus constantly moving the throttle peddle (a condition that must be real and widespread because I see so many people perform this cadence on roads everywhere), then we bet you drive smooth and expeditiously too.

So when any vehicle with enough power under the hood to perform like a car should gets a real world 20-something MPG average rating after having us behind the wheel for a week or longer, we believe the manufacturer must be doing something right. More to the point, if we can get decent mileage out of a car, then you should be able to do the same.

With only six cylinders to haul two tons of weight up to speed every time we stood on the throttle (which, mind you, was often), our Maxima saw 23 MPG averages on every tank. The only time the car saw less then 20 on the instant average meter was at wide open throttle or when the needle was up well beyond the century mark (and I do mean WELL beyond). This is an impressive power to weight ratio MPG performance in our book.

So unless you like to keep it up over 140 all the time, treat every green light as if you are the next John Force, then you should see fuel mileage averages in the low to mid 20-something range and be able to have fun while achieving it. If not, then you likely need to either recheck your math or perhaps go see your doctor soon and ask him to examine you for a potential right leg pulsing condition you may not know you have!

The Verdict

The Maxima was a blast to drive on the beach, cruising down the A1A with the top open and the windows down, blasting up and down I-95 and I-4, and everywhere else we went in Florida. Yes, we were at or near sea level the whole time, and no, there weren’t any hills. But whether you live in the flatlands or the mountains, this car is quicker than most sedans, uses less gas than many lesser powered vehicles, and is a natural born sleeper.

If you like people to notice and respect you for what (rather than how) you drive, this may not be the car for you. However, if you are the type of driving enthusiast who is in need of a four-door vehicle that won’t break the bank, who desires something that cops won’t pay much attention to, but yet still has the need for street-fighter speed and handling, the new Nissan Maxima might just be the car for you. Few (if any) vehicles in the same size class and price range can deliver more while drawing less attention. Plus, it actually is a pretty car … for a sedan. Just know that most of its real beauty is where you need it – within.

In Summary

We had a blast driving Maxie. We strongly recommend getting behind the wheel of a 2010 Nissan Maxima to anyone who plans to buy, lease or rent a sedan in the coming year. With enough power and handling to please most driving enthusiasts, decent real world gas mileage, creature comforts that will not disappoint, plenty of room for four adults and lots of luggage, Nissan has finally built a sedan worthy of the 4DSC (four door sports car) moniker they placed on the Maxima long, long ago. Get ready to be surprised.





If You’ve Missed Us OR If You Are Just Tuning In …

21 10 2009

Greetings to all of our wonderful Team Hall & Nass fans! As you may have noticed, we paused our daily posting of chapters from our Dustball Rally Recap a bit ago at a transitional point in the tale. We know the pause disappointed a few of you (as some of you let us know via email & on Twitter), and bless you for caring enough to let us know! However, after 22 posts in a row, we felt y’all might have needed a little break from us going on and on about our antics. Frankly, we needed one from writing, editing and posting them too. Hey, the stats don’t lie (some of you were clearly getting tired of checking in daily)! Those number fluctuated that last week like a tachometer would if a six year old was pressing the pedal! 😉

A special note to our new readers (and to those who haven’t checked in for a bit). If you would like to catch up on the story of our 2009 Dustball 1500 Recap, or if you’d just enjoy another fast stroll down memory lane, we encourage you to CONTACT US FOR THE PASSWORDS, and then go back to our September 2009 posts and start reading from the actual beginning (Forward, Preface, Chapter 1, etc.) That way you can enjoy (or relive) all of the zany antics and dramatics of our Dustball story in full and proper effect!

However, before we simply start posting more Dustball stories, we plan to shake things up and begin sharing some other exciting things we have been up to during our blogging hiatus. There have been some hijinks going on and there are a few fun tales to be shared! So stay tuned as we begin transitioning this blog into a place where we share multiple things of interest to you, the automotive, racing and rally faithful!

Here’s a peek at some new things on the horizon …

New Category – Real World Reviews by Team Hall & Nass

As many of you know, we rent more cars than the law should allow. We also find ourselves getting behind the wheel of many new factory cars and some cool exotics on occasion too! We have been off gathering data on some of those various cool cars we’ve been driving lately and have started compiling that information into write ups we are going to post as reviews. What’s that, you say? Yawn? Oh no! Wait for it …

How many people would actually write a “review” of cars the way you think Team Hall & Nass might? That’s right. Rather than posting “traditional” automotive reviews, we are going to share stories with you of how the vehicles perform via real world driving experiences that can only be captured through using the cars as true automotive enthusiasts would. Don’t expect simple reviews based on horsepower stats, fuel mileage numbers and ergonomic interior reports.  Those elements may be covered, but not in the way you are used to reading about them. You want basic stats? Pick up the manufacturer’s brochure or read what traditional reviews (i.e. Motor Trend) have to say. We will instead focus on relaying the stories of where these cars shine and where they may have failed to perform during real “enthusiast-style” driving via that Team Hall & Nass dramatic storytelling style you’ve come to love and enjoy. The stories will be every bit as good in the reading as they were in the driving. We won’t hold back.

To truly add icing on the cake, we will be doing something even cooler. Not only will you read what Johnny thinks about the cars, but you’ll also read what Taylor has to say about them too. The female perspective in an automotive review can be quite intriguing, especially from one who can drive it as well as navigate it. So you’ll get to read what it’s like from both seats AND from both gender perspectives. Trust me, it’s already gotten interesting, as you’ll read soon enough!

Thank you all once again for taking time out of your busy lives to read and share in our experiences. We hope y’all continue to enjoy our crazy tales from behind the wheel, under the hood and out on the roads!

Johnny & Taylor

Team Hall & Nass