The Best All-Wheel-Drive coupes to survive Canadian winters

Now that winter is officially upon us, you may think that your days of piloting a sporty two door coupe are over. Typically, coupes are banished into a garage or parkade till the clear spring time weather arrives, nary a threat of snow or ice.

These days, increasing number of luxury auto manufacturers are offering their formerly rear-wheel-drive only coupes with all-wheel-drive variants.

No longer does owning a sports coupe have to be an oxymoron to the word “winter”. Just swap out the all-season or summer tires for a set of good snow tires, and you are set to go!

Here are a few examples of all-wheel-drive two door luxury coupes with different price points to suit your budget.

Infiniti Q60 coupe

The 2015 Infiniti Q60 AWD coupe

The 2015 Infiniti Q60 AWD coupe. Photo courtesy of Infiniti Canada.

The Q60 is a well-appointed coupe that combines the Infiniti brand’s blend of value, performance, and luxury. It’s powered by a 330-hp 3.7-litre V6 engine and available with a seven-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed downshift rev matching manual transmission.

Infiniti’s Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive system can adapt to the changing conditions by constantly monitoring wheelspin, throttle position and vehicle speed. In dry conditions, the system is able to send 100 per cent of the power to the rear wheels for more responsive road performance. However it can automatically divert up to 50 per cent of the available power to the front wheels to enhance traction and control in adverse conditions.

Price for the Q60 AWD coupe starts at $51,800

Shop the New Infiniti Q60 at OpenRoad

Audi A5/S5/RS5

The 2015 Audi A5 Quattro. Photo courtesy of Audi Canada.

Audi was the company who pioneered all-wheel-drive in a road going car for performance reasons. For many years, they were the only choice on the market if you wanted a coupe with the year round safety and security of all-wheel-drive.

Unlike some of the vehicles in this article, the Audi A5 coupe (and its higher performance S5 and RS5 variants) is solely available with Audi’s famed Quattro all-wheel-drive system; two-wheel-drive versions are not available in Canada.
With standard Quattro all-wheel drive, the A5 coupe is a comfortable and stylish car that will perform well on pavement or in rain and snow.

Shop the New Audi A5 at OpenRoad

BMW 228i xDrive Coupe and M235i xDrive Coupe

The 2015 BMW M235i xDrive Coupe and the 1968 BMW 2002. Photo courtesy of BMW Canada.

In the late 1960’s, the BMW 2002, spiritual forerunner to the BMW 2 Series Coupe, set new standards in dynamics and design and established the BMW tradition of sporty coupes.

Today, the BMW 2 Series Coupe combines exciting dynamics and a design with reminiscences of the legendary 2002 coupe in BMW history. However unlike the rear-wheel-drive only 2002, the 2 Series is now available with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system for the 2015 model year.

Available with a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission, the 2-series is a sporty coupe with tons of charm and fun.

Price for the 228i xDrive coupe starts at $39,750, and $48,750 for the M235i xDrive coupe.

Shop New BMW 2 Series at OpenRoad

Lexus RC350 AWD

The 2015 Lexus RC350 AWD. Photo courtesy of Lexus Canada.

The all-new Lexus coupe aims to bring back a blend of styling and performance that has been unseen in many of Lexus’ product offerings until recently.

The RC350 is equipped with a 306-hp 3.5-litre V6. When equipped with the optional all-wheel-drive system, it’s paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Price for this all-new Lexus coupe starts at $54,000.

Shop New Lexus RC at OpenRoad

Jaguar F-Type with AWD

The 2016 Jaguar F-Type R AWD. Photo courtesy of Jaguar Canada.

For model year 2016, the beautifully-styled Jaguar F-Type coupe receives substantial upgrades, including the addition of the company’s Instinctive All-Wheel-Drive system.

This system is engineered to maintain the rear-drive character that is important to Jaguar sports car DNA while offering even greater dynamic capability.

Operating on the torque-on-demand principle, Jaguar Instinctive All-Wheel-Drive has been programmed to send 100 per cent of the engine’s output to the rear wheels under normal driving conditions. However in slippery conditions, the system can transfer up to 50 per cent of the engine’s torque to the front axle to mitigate the loss of traction.

Instinctive All-Wheel-Drive will be optional on all F-type S models (with a 380-hp supercharged V6), and standard on all V8 R Coupes (now upgraded from 495-hp to 550hp).

Prices have not yet been announced but are expected to start at above $85,000 for the F-type S with AWD.

Shop New Jaguar F-TYPE at OpenRoad


Porsche 911 Carrera 4 / Turbo

The 2015 Porsche Carrera 4. Photo courtesy of Porsche Canada.

Over the course of its 50 year life cycle to date, the iconic 911 has retained its unmistakable look and design while being constantly updated with the latest technology. To many, the 911 is one of the best sports cars available.

While all of the 911s still maintain their signature rear-engine configuration, a sophisticated active-all-wheel-drive system is available on Carrera and Carerra S models, and standard on all 911 Turbos.

This system distributes engine power between the permanently driven rear axle and the front axle by means of an electronically variable multi-plate clutch. Porsche Stability Management and enhanced Porsche Traction Management work together to ensure the optimum distribution of drive power for maximum traction depending on the driving and road conditions.

Price of the Carrera 4 starts at $103,900.

Shop Porsche 911 AWD at OpenRoad

Audi Twin Cup victory for OpenRoad technician

Weee are the champions! The 2014 Audi Twin Cup Service World Championship wrapped up last month in Munich, with Canadian representative Aaron Berghoffer sharing first place honours in the competition’s Technology Cup.

A technician at OpenRoad Audi, Berghoffer travelled to Germany with service consultant and fellow co-worker Dragos Paduraru who also participated in the competition that featured 219 entrants from 38 countries. Over two days, the pair worked with other Canadian teammates in their respective categories before coming together on the last day to vie for the championship.

“The Twin Cup is completed as a team — three people from a technology background and three from a service background. The service group completes two 45-minute tests and the technology group completes two 45-minute tests at the same time. We then complete a one-hour test together as a team,” says Berghoffer, adding his trio’s evaluation included measuring and adjusting a rear differential, and diagnosing and repairing an air suspension system.

“The technology cup is awarded to the technology team with the highest score.”

Berghoffer says he found the most challenging tasks to be managing his time wisely and overcoming the pressure to finish accurately. While he and his tech teammates won their category, Canada finishing sixth in the overall competition. This year marked the tenth anniversary of the annual event.

Do you drive an out of warranty Audi?

Spring into a convertible with the Roadster, MX-5 or R8 Spyder

The fine line between the end of winter and the start of spring is often blurred. It still rains more often than not, and you just can’t get yourself to pack away the jackets quite yet. And with summer approaching quickly, you start to notice the faint smell of barbecue wafting in your window, and then the first firm sign appears — convertibles of all shapes and colours begin flooding the streets.

For the 2014 model year, there is no shortage of new drop tops offered by manufacturers ranging from mild to wild. Here are a few favourite picks to hit the open road with this start of the warm season.

Mini Cooper Roadster

MINI Cooper Roadster

With great handling due to its short wheelbase, cute looks and the choice of three powerplants, there’s a lot to like about the MINI Cooper Roadster. Starting at MSRP $28,900, it’s available in standard trim with 121 horsepower, the more powerful Cooper S with 181 hp, and my personal favourite, the John Cooper Works edition with 208 hp and 192 pound-feet of torque. All models still get great gas mileage as well with the latter rated at 7.7 L/100 km in the city and 5.6 L/100 km on the highway.

2014 Audi R8 Spyder

Audi R8 Convertible

On the other end of the spectrum, the Audi R8 Spyder Convertible is made to impress. For an MSRP of $148,000, you get a 4.2-litre eight-cylinder engine producing 430 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque, 19-inch wheels and a six-speed manual transmission. Or, step up to the $182,000 V10 model for a horsepower and torque bump up to 525 and 430 lb-ft, respectively. New for 2014 is an optional S tronic seven-speed automatic gearbox that will launch the V10 from 0 to 100 km/h in under 3.5 seconds.

2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Mazda MX-5

Time is winding down for consumers to pick up the third generation of arguably the most popular roadster in history: the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Introduced in 1989, the first iteration alone sold over 400,000 units. The modern version retains much of that classic two-seater sports car feel with a rear-wheel drive layout, a high-revving 167-hp engine and an available six-speed transmission. Enthusiasts should be on the lookout for a new Miata based on a completely redesigned chassis coming soon.

Besides these examples, there are plenty of other open-air options available. Visit for a complete list.

Best in Canada: OpenRoad Audi staff headed to Twin Cup world championship

Open Road Audi service advisor Dragos Paduraru
Service Advisor Dragos Paduraru is part of the OpenRoad Audi team vying for the 2014 Twin Cup championship. Photos by Benjamin Yong.

Like the Olympic Games of the automotive world, the Audi Twin Cup world championship is the ultimate destination for service and technician staff of the other well-known brand symbolized by rings. Held this year in Munich, Germany, teams of six — three from each department — will be competing from 40 nations for the recognition of being the best in their field.

Dragos Paduraru has been a Service Advisor with OpenRoad Audi in Vancouver for seven years, and knows a thing or two about the topic having been part of the Canadian team that finished fifth overall at the 2013 event. He will be reprising his role as ambassador, along with technician and fellow co-worker Aaron Berghoffer, following victories in their respective categories at the nationals in early April. Staff technician Peter Cheung also competed making it to the semi-finals.

Paduraru says he originally joined the competition to challenge himself.

“I wanted to see how well I’m prepared. I know I can do very well in terms of service processes, and also I’m familiar with the parts as well and also the shop a little bit,” he says.

OpenRoad_Audi service entrance

To qualify, anyone working in the appropriate areas within the Audi dealer network can throw their names in the hat. The first hurdle is at the local level where entrants must undergo two rounds of general knowledge testing on the computer.

“The questions vary from very technical ones that are car related, to extremely customer-oriented ones that have nothing to do with the car itself,” says Paduraru, originally from Romania.

The next step is the national stage at the Audi Canada corporate headquarters in Ajax, Ontario where the testing is split into customer or mechanical expertise, such as identifying a car part by blindly putting your hand into a box of items. From there, the top six get the honour of representing Canada at the Audi Twin Cup. Whereas previously entrants competed as individuals, at the worlds they must learn to function as a team.

OpenRoad Audi service department

“Why it’s named the Twin Cup is basically because the service consultants and technicians should work together like a team, like twins. Even the Sedins in hockey, they know all their moves and all their processes. It’s exactly what they want to see at the world stage, a really good performance from both sides.”

As a technician at OpenRoad Audi since 2010, Cheung says the competition offers a unique chance to network with others in his field, and also see how he measures up to them.

“I had the opportunity to see how I stand up against other Audi technicians in Canada and possibly the world.”

Two OpenRoad Audi techs at work: Peter Cheung (left) and Aaron Berghoffer


Berghoffer joined the company over a year ago and while he is “very excited,” acknowledges that it won’t be easy to dethrone the current champions from South Korea.

The 2014 Audi Twin cup takes place in Munich from July 16 to 19.

Top 3 Supercar picks for the 2014 Vancouver International Auto Show

The Vancouver International Auto Show is returning into town this week and I’ve managed to my hands on the advance media preview vehicle list. Here are my top 3 supercar unveilings that I am most excited for at this year’s show!

Audi S8

There’s just something that I love about an uber fast large luxury super sports sedan, and Audi is an expert in this category.

The 520hp 2015 Audi S8 makes its regional debut at this year’s autoshow. Like the more pedestrian A8, it receives some stylistic nips and tucks to both the exterior and interior, along with the expected technology upgrades. Pay particular attention to its amazing new Matrix LED headlights!

BMW i8

Unveiled at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, the much anticipated plug-in hybrid supercar has finally made its way (in production form) to Vancouver!

This car was first introduced as the BMW Concept Vision EfficientDynamics, and made its silver screen debut in Mission Impossible 4 (part of which was filmed in Vancouver) with Tom Cruise.

With a 7.1 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and an expected all-electric range of 37 kms, BMW conservatively estimates a 0-100 km/hr time of 4.4 seconds. A 3-cylinder 1.5-litre BMW TwinPower Turbo range extender engine eliminates pure electric car range anxiety. When combined with the eDrive technology the system produces a whopping 362hp and 420 ft-lbs of torque.

The everyday driving range of the i8 with a full tank of gas and a full charged battery is expected to be more than 500 kms in COMFORT mode.

McLaren 650S

Now this is something ultra-special and I’ve saved the best for last. McLaren has chosen this year’s Vancouver International Auto Show as the place for its North American unveiling of their latest model, the 650S.

Sandwiched in between the 12C and the ridiculously awesome hybrid super supercar P1, the all-new McLaren 650S is not exactly your average middle child.

This midrange model from the British exotic car manufacturer is the brand’s latest bid to compete with Porsche, Lamborghini, and Ferrari at the top of the supercar league.

While the 650S also has a carbon-fibre MonoCell backbone like the 12C, it has been tweaked to shave some extra weight. The 650S’s additional changes and improvements required fitting 25% new components versus the 12C.

With the 641hp/500 ft-lbs of torque from its 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 able to catapult the car from 0-60mph in less than 3 seconds, this latest British supercar is something that you will not want to miss at this year’s show!

The Vancouver International Auto Show opens to the public from Tuesday noon on March 25th, 2014 till Sunday March 30th.

Stay tuned for more of auto show top picks (in different categories) over the next couple of days!