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In a previous episode we talked to Albo Agunday, a film-maker based out of Japan, about his automotive background. However after our conversation we thought it would be great to connect again and talk about the value of a car. In the past 2 years the values of cars have significantly increased across the globe, so what better time than to talk about the price of Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) cars.
The nostalgic effect makes people buy their dream cars. The popularity of both Gran Tursimo and the Fast & Furious franchise escalated the demand for Japanese performance vehicles. These memories bring drivers back to their youth in the blink of an eye when they get behind the wheel. Japanese sports cars also offer a more analogue experience on the road compared to the computer-aided vehicles today. This has meant that demand grows by the day pushing the market price up for these vintage vehicles.
Few cars deliver driving thrills at an affordable price quite like the Mazda MX-5 Miata. What can I say about the Mazda MX-5 Miata that I haven’t said in my previous reviews? It is the best-selling two-seat sports car in the history of the world. It has even been called the answer to everything, Miata Is Always The Answer. Mazda introduced the current, fourth-generation model for the 2016 model year and it issued a mid-cycle refresh with more power and a higher redline for 2019.
The 2021 Miata pushes 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels. The Miata’s engine revs eagerly (peak horsepower arrives at 7,000 rpm) and is powerful enough to deliver stirring acceleration and pushes you to explore the engine’s high-revving personality. It is a super fun four-cylinder paired with either an automatic or a six-speed manual. However Mazda has eliminated the six-speed automatic transmission from most of the MX-5 Miata’s trims for 2022, making it available only on the Grand Touring where it is a $500 option on the convertible and a $550 option on the RF. It is well known that the Miata’s handling is eager and playful, which makes encountering twisty roads a joyful experience. But Mazda has incorporated a new feature called Kinematic Posture Control that sharpens handling by applying small amounts of brake pressure on the inner rear wheel during cornering. Mazda says this reduces body roll and improves stability. The handling is eager, and the Miata changes direction promptly, the light, tactile steering responds immediately and keeps the driver informed of what the tires are doing.
Going with the Club trim (our test vehicle) on the Miata RF adds the wonderful Brembo BBS Recaro package that includes Brembo brakes, BBS wheels, and Recaro seats. The mid-range Club trim strikes the best balance of features and performance with its limited-slip differential, Bilstein suspension, front shock-tower brace, Brembo brakes and 205/45-series Bridgestone Potenza summer tires, heated seats, and a nine-speaker Bose stereo system. The Club’s firmer shocks and springs return the stiffest ride of the lineup, although we have yet to find a Miata that rides poorly.
You have the option of either a manual soft-top, or a power folding top on the RF model. If you want a quieter ride, look at the MX-5 Miata RF. The Club trim starts at $31,285 including $995 for destination, and a base MX-5 Sport costs $27,825.
Inside the Miata’s interior is snug but equipped, with infotainment features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard across all trims. As to driving aids Lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring are the only driver-assistance systems offered, and they are rather sensitive. When it comes to space in the rear, if you pack light, the car can accommodate a weekend’s worth of stuff for two, or 4.5 cubic feet of space. In comparison the Subaru BRZ and the Toyota GR 86 twins surpass the Miata when it comes to cargo space with their folding rear seats.
This is a fun car, plain and simple. Sure, the back end will step out every now and then, but it is all in good fun and a quick flick of the steering wheel fixes any playful slide. The Mazda MX-5 Miata provides a joyously distilled sports car experience, if it’s pure driving pleasure you want, in terms of smiles per dollar, it’s hard to beat the MX-5.
Zac Mertens from Hoonigan Racing has always found a means of creating value for others through the things which he is passionate about. Over the years he has had the privilege of working on projects with Ken Block that have taken him across the globe. However it all started with “GNARPM” automotive content before a switch to Hoonigan. He is a thrill seeker, an adrenaline junkie and curiosity has led him down many paths that has forged an ability to adapt and overcome any obstacle, sometimes by jumping a vehicle over it.
The Toyota Camry is America’s best-selling sedan and is now in its eighth generation. The 2022 Toyota Camry TRD shares a nameplate with the cars that came before, however the aggressive styling and performance focus make it almost unrecognizable from those vehicles of the past. The reason for this is purely because the Camry TRD is arguably the most compelling version ever released.
The TRD model is only available with the 3.5-liter V6 paired with an eight-speed transmission, the engine makes 301 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. The V6 provides seamless and linear power delivery, while throttle response is snappy. Gear changes are well-timed and there’s zero hesitation to go down a cog or two when you need to get moving. If you want to use the big steering wheel-mounted paddles to control the shifting, they are responsive to the drivers commands.
In addition to its racing inspired body kit—complete with a discrete rear spoiler and a pair of prominent exhaust tips. Other performance-enhancing features include larger front brake rotors, the 12.9-inch discs are almost an inch larger than standard, and dual-piston calipers replace the regular single-piston version. Lastly 19″ matte black wheels are half an inch wider and can be had with all-season or summer tires the whole thing works well with the Midnight Black roof for an impactful two-tone appearance.
Inside, the TRD exclusives keep coming and include black SofTex-trimmed seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, red contrast stitching, a TRD shift knob, TRD gauges, red seat belts, TRD floor mats and aluminum pedals. However the biggest changes come in the chassis department. Thicker underbody and aforementioned rear seat bracing increases the sedan’s torsional rigidity. A suspension overhaul brings different shock absorbers, stiffer springs, a half-inch lower ride height and bigger anti roll bars.
The upgrades make the Camry TRD more engaging and enjoyable to drive than the rest of the lineup, even if the exhaust system doesn’t sound as thrilling as its many racing inspired add-ons suggest. Naturally the trade-off to the firmer chassis is a small decrease in ride comfort, which we were willing to forgive. Impacts from bumps are felt more than a standard Camry, but are in no way violent or uncomfortable. The development team did an incredible job balancing performance and ride quality here.
In regards to looking at everything else the interior is on par with everything in the midsize sedan class and the materials are nice and well finished. Passenger space in both rows is generous and there are numerous slots and cubbies to stash stuff up front. Trunk space measures in at a roomy 15.1 cubic feet but carrying longer items in the TRD is difficult since the second-row seat backs do not fold down because of a V-brace installed behind for added body stiffening.
Like every 2021 Camry, the TRD receives a new floating touchscreen infotainment display that puts the controls a tad closer to passengers, and helps decrease glare on the relatively small 7-inch screen. Buttons and knobs flanking the screen enable easy access to the commonly used menus and stereo adjustments, while the touchscreen’s layout is easy to navigate. Standard features include a six-speed sound system, satellite radio, Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hotspot and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. If you would like a little more audio quality, you can option out your Camry TRD with a nine-speaker JBL audio system for an additional $1,585.
Toyota has made driver-assistance technology standard on all Camry models. The TRD gains standard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert for 2021 in addition to an improved Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 Plus package. Forward-collision warning can now pick up bicyclists and is better at detecting pedestrians in low-light situations. Adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and road sign assist are also included.
The Camry TRD starts at $33,285, including $1,025 for destination. I would make a few additions however I fell for the two-tone paint and I think it is worth the $500 upcharge. Since I also enjoy listening to music when tootling around town, I would also opt for the $1,585 JBL audio system. That’s more than my test vehicle ($34,312), but I strongly feel the extras are worth it.
Compared to the base car, the Camry TRD is unquestionably a sharper specimen. However we would have liked to see more options to further increase the niceties inside the cabin like the XSE. But in the end the body kit looks great and the improved handling provides an engaging driver experience that is much more fun resulting in a Camry a cut above the rest.
Justin Bell has over 20 years as a professional racing driver, winning the 1997 Le Mans 24 Hour race and the 1998 GT2 FIA World Championship. However there came a time when he realized that maybe he could talk faster than he drove, and so a successful TV and web hosting career followed with Speed and then Fox Sports.
Winslow Bent is the Founder of Legacy Classic Trucks, a Full-Service Auto Restoration Facility located just outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Legacy Classic Trucks has grown to be one of the premier truck restoration facilities in the United States. Legacy builds several lines of vehicles, including the Legacy Power Wagon Conversion, the Legacy Scrambler Conversion, and the Legacy Napco. They also take on custom jobs and specialize in rare and special trucks, such as Diamond T, Mack, Studebaker, and Hudson.
Bent’s latest project is This Old Truck on YouTube which came about when he was driving around and meeting people with interesting pieces of machinery and he felt an obligation to document it all. He saw his job as a historian, collecting these stories while there’s still time to do it. Bent sees the stories of these trucks as the story of the Old West. After the cowboy, the horse, and the wagon, there was the truck, and the truck did everything.
Matt Field thrives off every form of racing. However not only is Matt a talented driver, Matt is also a technician, fabricator, engine builder, driver & team owner. Matt has accelerated his drift career as a pro driver and business owner as in 2013, he opened the garage doors to The Drift Cave a motorsports/fabrication shop located in Silicon Valley – San Jose, CA.
When he first got behind the wheel he competed in grassroots events and gained his Formula Drift license through the Just Drift series in ’09. Since then Matt has been a proud supporter of the sport; giving back to local organizations, and offering driving instruction, event judging and car setup advice to other drivers.
The Toyota Prius remains a remarkably efficient hatchback, the 2022 Toyota Prius Prime hybrid hatchback knows where its strengths lie, and it leans into them heavily. Some buyers just want to get to and from work without a fuss, to keep costs down while they do so that they can spend money on things that really matter. However sticking to a budget does not mean settling for low quality. Many will likely ask if the Toyota Prius Prime is really worth the extra $4k. It shares almost all the same infrastructure with its sibling, including powertrain, as well as similar infotainment and safety features. But what sets it apart is its plug-in nature. Without relying on regenerative brakes, the Prime can run purely on electric power between recharges, for up to 25 miles.
The wedge-shaped design aims to maximize fuel economy. Due to its semi-electric nature, there is no need for a large grille, so it gets a solid front fascia instead. The slim headlights sweep up the hood in a series of LED clusters. The rear is more angular, with a hatch framed by brake light strips. The cabin isn’t on the cramped side, those up front have no reason to complain, while the back row is technically designed to seat three, that is only applicable in the case of small children. The sloping roof of the hatch cuts into headroom, and legroom is at a premium if those in the front do not pull forward a bit. When all is said and done, though, a family of four should fit comfortably in the midsize without too much fuss. Although it may look like a sedan, the Prius Prime is a hatchback and it offers a fair amount of trunk space that boasts a capacity of 19.8 cubic feet. Furthermore, the rear seats can be folded down in a 60/40 split to make even more room for bulkier cargo. Another good feature is Toyota provides complimentary maintenance for two years or 25,000 miles which is better than most in this segment.
Regardless of trim, the Toyota Prius draws its power from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gas engine, a lithium-ion battery, and a pair of electric motors. The gas engine produces 95 hp and 105 lb-ft of torque on its own. Together, this plug-in-hybrid powertrain produces 121 horsepower. This is paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). On the plus side, this CVT is innocuous when compared to many on rival machines, and it helps to keep acceleration smooth, if not quick. The electric motors supply instant torque, helping this car launch quickly from a stop and acceleration is smooth at low speeds. Performance is not a word readily associated with the Prius, this is not a car meant to get you excited about driving. Instead, the joy comes at the end of the month, when you realize just how much you saved at the bowser on your monthly traveling expenses. But, if your commute to and from the office is less than 25 miles, you won’t even need to put the combustion engine to work at all.
Steering is light, as you would expect from a town car, making for easy maneuvering on the street or in the parking lots. The suspension does a relatively good job of dulling most minor bumps and abrasions. The 2022 Prius Prime gets an EPA estimated combined city/highway rating of 54 mpg and 133 MPG-equivalent and this vehicle also has an all-electric range of 25 miles. When you add all these numbers together, and take into account the 11.4-gallon tank, the Toyota can travel for up to 640 miles before making a pit stop. With a 120-volt household-style power outlet, it takes around 5.5 hours to recharge this Toyota. Upgrading to a 240-volt outlet charges it in roughly half that time (around two hours and 10 minutes).
The top-of-the-line Limited (our test vehicle) starts at $34,000. Like most semi-electric autos, the Limited comes outfitted with an impressive array of technology, right from the get-go. You get a multi-information display, but it is the driver-assistance features that stand out the most, as the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite includes lane departure alert, lane tracing assist, and pre-collision avoidance. Additions include a heated steering wheel, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, a head-up display, front and rear parking sensors, park assist, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. There are soft-touch surfaces on the panels and dashboard, overall, everything has a premium feel. In our Limited model the 11.6-inch touch screen infotainment features HD Radio, a 10-speaker JBL stereo, navigation, and wireless device charging. However standard features include proximity keyless entry and push-button start, Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hot spot, three USB ports and compatibility with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa.
Where the hybrid may fail to dazzle on a number of fronts like performance, gas mileage is certainly not one of them. The Toyota Prius Prime is one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles in the hybrid and electric car class, but that’s not where its appeal ends. This plug-in hybrid provides 25 miles of all-electric range, a smooth ride, poised handling, and plenty of cargo space and it’s loaded with safety features too.
Our latest guest is Ron Zaras, Senior Brand Director for Hoonigan. However to hear his story in detail about how he came to Hoonigan you can listen to this earlier episode here. Today we are talking about a passion we both share and that is the World Rally Championship. After Ron’s recent trip to Germany which you can watch in the Hoonigan Carcaine Abroad series, we talked about our love for Group A cars and the idea for a podcast came together. The Group A era was between 1987 and 1997 and included both Rally and Touring cars, and some might say one of the best era’s of rallying.
NoBraking is an international collective of creative individuals, who came together to celebrate their shared love for machines. Established in 2011, NoBraking was created to provide an online magazine for automotive enthusiasts.