DRIVE!: Drivers seat

Reality TV star (and gay gearhead) Drew Ginsburg stays in the family business — and has two rides to show for it

TWO RIDES ARE BETTER THAN ONE  |  Drew Ginsburg divides his road time between two cars sold at his family’s dealerships: A VW Beetle, left, and an Audi A6.  (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

TWO RIDES ARE BETTER THAN ONE | Drew Ginsburg divides his road time between two cars sold at his family’s dealerships: A VW Beetle, left, and an Audi A6. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

As the lone gay member of the cast of the recently ended reality show Most Eligible Dallas, Drew Ginsburg had to be both fabulous and a gearhead — not exactly the stereotype of the gay man. But his love affair with cars has left him admittedly (if justifiably) snobby about autos — his family does, after all, own a number of car dealerships, and working in the family business means knowing a whole lot about them.
Oh, and don’t ever call him A-list.

— Rich Lopez

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Name and age:  Drew Ginsburg, 30.

Occupation:  I handle marketing for the Boardwalk Auto Group, including Boardwalk Audi in Plano and Park Cities Volkswagen on Lemmon Avenue. We’re the longest continuously owned and operated dealer in Texas and we feature Volkswagen, Audi, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Porsche.

What do you drive?  I’m open to driving multiple cars but they all belong to the dealership. Right now, I drive either a VW Beetle or an Audi A6.

That’s variety. How do you choose?  It just depends on what’s going on, but usually if it’s business, I drive the Audi; the Beetle is for casual stuff.

Do you have a permanent car?  I’m still waiting for my Porsche to come in. It’s the new Porsche 911 Carrera in white with black interior. It will be here in January. It’s a very sad time right now without a Porsche. I have no sports cars to drive.Your taste in cars is very A-list (zing!):  But I’m not A-list, far from it. I don’t think so, anyway. Are you talking about the show?

Umm … No? So, how are A-list vehicles compared to yours?  They all drive Hondas and BMWs, but I don’t think they know anything about them.

What’s the sexiest thing about a ride?  Usually it’s the acceleration and sometimes, just the design.

Speed driver or grandpa?  I’m a speedy driver. My driving style has been described as sex.

Hmmm… can you pick me up at work today?  [Silence.]

What was your first car?  It was a two-door Chevy Tahoe. I got it when I was 16.

Favorite road trip story?  Once I drove from Dallas to Newfoundland with a college buddy and then back to our home in Vermont. It’s my favorite because I was just this young college guy having a new experience.

Two guys, one vehicle: Nice. What are the rules of your car?  That depends. I was out with a Lamborghini and my roommate got mad that I wouldn’t go to Starbucks for him to get a drink.

Where is your fantasy drive?  I’d like to conquer the Autobahn again. It’s all about driving in Europe. I’d love to drive around Spain and take a trip to the California coast.

What’s in your music player?  It’s loaded up with either Spotify or Pandora, but I’ve been listening to Rihanna’s “We Found Love” a lot and David Guetta’s “Titanium.”

Where do you park when you go to Wal-Mart?  [Laughs] I just park at the end of the lot.

Are you a car snob?  Yes I am, but not about the price tag. I am when it comes to the design and makeup of the car. There are great cars for less than $30,000 and not so great ones for more than $120,000. Some people just buy for the emblem.

Like $30K millionaires?  Exactly! They wanna buy a luxury car but can’t afford it. It’s just for brand.

What should everyone know about cars?  Well, if you buy yourself a Saab, you’re retarded — it’s phasing out. And paying cash doesn’t necessarily mean the best deal. And most dealers don’t rely on the Kelley Blue Book because we’re using real-time market insight. Every car has idiosyncrasies and we have to look at those.

What’s it like being famous now?  It’s been a fun experience and I’m just taking it in as it happens. I don’t think of myself like that, but I’ve gotten to meet more people. It’s been a fun ride.
Pun intended?  Sure.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 11, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

EurAsian excellence

Korean-born but European-bred, Kia’s Optima EX has luxury and speed at a bargain price

CASEY WILLIAMS  | Auto Reviewer
crwauto@aol.com

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’11 OPTIMA EX
Kia. 200 horsepower, 2.4 liter Inline-4 24/34-MPG city/hwy. As-tested price: $27,440

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The low point of Kia design was not the Sephia or Spectra — it was the Amati, which looked like some Saturday morning cartoon thought it would be cool to get a TownCar to cohabitate with an Accord and act out their affection upon America. It was a good car, but for prayer’s sake, somebody needed to get Kia’s design department drawing in the right direction.

That person turned out to be Peter Schreyer, who became chief design officer in 2006. Schreyer’s resume includes some stunners, including the 1996 Audi A3, the 1998 Audi TT, the 1998 Audi A6 and the 2006 VW Eos. That’s just what he gets credit for before landing at Kia. Since then, his team sculpted the beautiful 2010 Forte, 2010 Sportage, and this Optima. Who says good design has to be expensive? Like Michael Graves for Target, Schreyer graced masterful styling upon the masses while teaching Kia to speak with a European accent.

You can tell an expertly designed car by the attention to detail. The Optima’s design starts with a fairly conservative sedan with arched roofline, but designers spent considerable time sculpting the ridges on either side of the hood and fitting in a cool chrome band that runs from the base of the A-pillar, through the roof and into the top edge of the C-pillar.

INSIDE AND OUT | Kia’s signature pinched grille, top, remains intact, but the stylishly redesigned interior, above, harkens to the finest and most user-friendly of Euro roadsters, like the Saab.

Kia’s trademark pinched grille dominates the front, but makes friends with angled headlamps that give the car an aggressive face. A strong shoulderline anchors the bottom half of the car and helps break up the tall body. Tail lamps have dimension and resemble those on the new VW Passat.

I admire the exterior, but the inside is even better. A Saab-style wrap-around dashboard puts controls readily at hand and is enhanced with stitched sections on either side of the instrument cluster. No other mid-size sedan has a more perfectly-sized heated leather-wrapped steering wheel that also contains the Bluetooth phone controls. Heated and cooled leather front buckets are all-day comfortable; outboard rear passengers soak in the heat.

Nobody makes an easier-to-use touchscreen for the navigation, XM Satellite radio and USB-connected MP3 player. A panoramic sunroof only makes it easier to see the elegant bluish woodgrain on the doors and console. Schreyer apparently remembered the perfectly weighted gear selector from his Audi days, because the Optima gets its own.

So, what happens when an international designer meets world-class engineers? They create cars that not only look European, but drive that way, too. In fact, the front-drive Optima behaves like the last Saab 9-5, a personal favorite. Steering is nicely weighted and precise while the suspension is compliant, but firm. The chassis two-steps over rough pavement with nary a shudder, absorbing potholes without going weepy, while settling down for a long, quiet drive. You can feel the steering purring in your hands, telling you what the car’s thinking. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes, traction control, electronic stability control, and hill-start assist control aid the driver with his or her duties.

I thumped the Optima hard on a one-day road trip of more than 600 miles. Kia’s 200-HP 2.4-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine, connected to a 6-speed Sportmatic transmission, is pretty sweet. The torquey little lump of motivation feels mightier than its sword suggests. Step on it at 80 mph, and the six-speed transmission clips down a couple of cogs, sending the car off to wherever you point it.

Running at least 10 mph over the legal limit most of the way, it returned nearly 33-MPG. (The EPA claims 24/34-MPG city/hwy.) There are some just re-designed competitors from big-name automakers that would die to have this powertrain. Kia owners will barely notice the fuel bill or any noise from under the hood.

It used to be that people bought Kias because they apparently liked being jokes of the neighborhood. Those days left to the heap of old school thinking like respect for Charlie Sheen. The Ashton Kutcher era brings us an entire line of Kias that you’ll choose because you fall in love with them, like Korean Volkswagens. This, come to think of it, might be exactly Schreyer’s point.

Not that the Optima needs it, but it comes standard with Kia’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Sans NAV, panoramic roof, and all of the heating and cooling for seats and steering wheels, the Optima EX starts at just $22,495. As equipped as a Swedish treat, expect to pay $27,440 -— a freakin’ steal for this dreamy ride. You’ll just have to wrench the keys from my warm knurled fingers. Speaking European won’t help your cause.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

DRIVE! 2010 • Gay adoption

Cross-cultural automaking combines American and foreign sensibilities for these mixed-parentage rides

CASEY WILLIAMS  | Auto Reviewer

PUSH BUTTON MIRACLE | GM almost nixed Saab, but when Spyker took over, they gave it a miraculous rebirth with this 9-5. The makers replaced the key insert with a push-button starter making the rest of the car all uphill.

My partner and I are planning to adopt a baby. For sure, there will be teething pains. As our lives go through Heavens and Hells, so too will those automakers that adopted domestic cast-offs. Time will tell if their adoptions are mired in poo or are truly gay.

These are the babies with the highest IQs. Gay parents adopting children from different cultures can cause moments of discomfort and domestic unrest. However, if these brands are loved and nurtured by their parents, happy world-changing children are ahead.

Saab 9-5

Saab aficionados, who are still puling GM’s parenting the past two decades, should love its latest 9-5 offspring. Over the years, the Swedish automaker has seemed more like a foster child than a truly loved son, but it is now in the crib of Dutch supercar builder Spyker. The multi-ethnic Swede has more than a little German DNA.

Designers cut a wide swath through IKEA and built a custom nursery for the new 9-5. Scandinavian luxury centers on plush leather seats, Saab’s traditional wrap-around cockpit, green instrument lighting, and a push button start button where God intended a key in the center console. A heads-up display continues the “Born from Jets” theme with Harman/Kardon audio and rear seat entertainment providing a respite from carriage duty.

Sharing genes with the German-engineered Buick Lacrosse and Regal, but looking suavely Saab, the sedan will rival the Audi A6 and Lincoln MKS. At birth, the car will scream with a 300-HP 2.8-liter turbo V6 and AWD. A 220-HP four-cylinder pops later. Very intelligent, DriveSense adjusts the suspension and throttle settings to give drivers very different dynamics on a whim. There’s still a lot of GM in there, but it’s all great stuff.
New parents Spyker and potential customers should rejoice at this big bundle of joy. Given how close GM came to liquidating Saab, it is truly a miracle baby. A more premium Saab eats $47,565 at once.

Volvo S60
OVERTHINKER | The Volvo S60 can adjust driving mode into comfort, sport or advanced suspensions while also detecting pedestrians with a full auto brake.

Volvo S60

Volvo was adopted in 1999 by Ford Motor Company and re-gifted to China’s Geely earlier this year. Geely had been preparing its nursery for Volvo for years, hoping upon hope that Ford would condone the adoption.

It would be hard to imagine Geely getting a better kid than the new S60 sedan. Its curvy rump, roof and fenders are beautiful with a family resemblance in the strong shoulders. Interior design is based on the S80 sedan, including a thin center controls stack, plush seats, and sporty steering wheel. Woodgrain blends with brushed aluminum and light colors. Bluetooth connectivity and voice control for audio and phone keep the middle child hip.

Being a Volvo, the S60’s pants are loaded with creamy tech. Power comes from a 300-HP 3.0-liter six cylinder engine with optional AWD. When equipped with the Four-C Active Chassis system, drivers can adjust the suspension through “comfort,” “sport” or “advanced” modes.

Safety, a Volvo hallmark, is enhanced by a pedestrian detection system with full auto brake that identifies people and stops the car from up to 22 mph. Adaptive cruise control, City Safe collision warning with full auto brake, distance alert and lane departure warning systems exploit the car’s radar system. Fees cost $37,700 plus toys.

Jaguar XJ75
OLDER IS BETTER | India’s Tata picked up where Ford left off with Jaguar. Commemorating its 75th anniversary, the Jaguar XJ75 has upgrade written all over it with voice activated controls and LCD virtual instruments.

Jaguar XJ (75th)

Whether you think beauty, or the ugliest bug since Capone busted the womb, the Jaguar XJ will not be ignored. Most design and engineering was completed under Ford custody, but that will not stop India’s Tata, which adopted Jaguar and Land Rover during 2008, from raising the new Jags into proper millennial gentlemen.

The XJ flaunts a flowing body with blacked-out C-pillars and optional panoramic roof that echoes the little brother XF. Bodies are constructed almost entirely of aluminum around a sumptuous cabin that is futuristic while outfitted with the finest leathers, carpets, and mirror-cut wood. An available 510-HP supercharged V8 toddles over a constantly-adapting suspension. Voice-activated controls, lights that illuminate with the wave of a hand, LCD “virtual instruments” and 1200-watt Bowers & Wilkins audio beguile passengers. $72,500 is but a start.

To commemorate Jaguar’s 75th anniversary, the company showed the XJ75 Platinum Concept. White paint, 22-in. wheels, diamond stitch suede seat inserts and softgrain leather are divine. A bespoke clock designed by Bremont Watch Company and 1,200-watt Bowers & Wilkins surround audio cuddle passengers.

This article appeared in Dallas Voice’s DRIVE! Supplement November 5, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens