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Peter Couture, Times/tbt* Staff Writer

Peter Couture

Peter Couture grew up in St. Petersburg and is a graduate of the University of South Florida. He has worked for the Tampa Bay Times full-time since graduating from USF in 1989. He was a member of the startup team for the daily edition of tbt*, where he is the editor of the weekly Rides, Office and Cuisine sections. He also edits the daily SportsTalk page. He co-writes the weekly auto review column, the Daily Drivers.

Phone: (727) 892-2938

Email: pcouture@tampabay.com

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  1. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Nissan GT-R Premium

    Autos

    We've had the opportunity to drive Nissan's GT-R a handful of times since its introduction, and Nissan's supercar has always been a singular experience for us. The 2016 GT-R Premium we drove only confirms our feelings about the car. Fans looking for wholesale updates of "Godzilla" will have to wait a few years.

    Appearance: One thing is for certain: The GT-R will never be mistaken for an Italian exotic; its lines are mostly hard angles that Peter once called "Transformers-ish." (Nissan says the body creases help create downforce.) Either way, the car is basically unchanged for '16, with the exception of new 20-spoke, 20-inch wheels. Flared front fenders accommodate the rubber, and behind them are "gills" to help the air move around the wheels. In the front is a black grille with sleek triangular headlights sweeping up to near the apex of the fenders. In the rear, a simple spoiler wing sits on the deck lid....

    Among the gauges are the tach in the dead center, with a speedometer on the left. Digital readabout can show the range as well the speed.
  2. NHL goalies need their alone time

    Cam Talbot's locker sits next to Henrik Lundqvist's and, as an unspoken sign of courtesy between the New York Rangers goalies, Talbot leaves the room before a game to give Lundqvist space to stretch.

    Talbot and Lundqvist have been teammates for about two years, and Talbot has never watched Lundqvist's routine. He is unaware that Lundqvist often retreats to a back room, where it is roomier and free from distractions....

    Getty 
Images
  3. What is BASE jumping and wingsuiting, and do these extreme athletes have a death wish?

    The video shows a tiny, dark figure leaning off the side of Idaho's Perrine Bridge. The Snake River rumbles some 500 feet below. The figure, 73-year-old BASE jumper James E. Hickey, leaps from the bridge and his parachute bursts into flame.

    "What the hell?" a spectator behind the camera says, half shocked, half chuckling. But as the fireball plummets toward the river, it's clear something isn't right. The laughter dies....

    This 2013 photo shows the late Hungarian Victor Kovats jumping in China. His parachute failed to deploy. AFP/Getty Images
  4. The Daily Drivers: a second look at Highlander Hybrid, Toyota Tundra

    Autos

    2015 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

    The Highlander was redesigned for 2014, making the reliable family hauler look sharper than ever. We recently drove the hybrid model, which gets an estimated MPG of 27 city and 28 highway. That's not bad for a large SUV that can haul seven passengers. But as with many hybrids, the bottom line is price. In the case of the Highlander, the hybrid — there's only one model and it's the top Limited trim — is pushing $50,000. Compare that with the nonhybrid base model that sells for less than $30,000. The Highlander has shed its boxy past and now looks more athletic despite its minivan proportions. It now carries the distinctive gaping grille of other Toyota models and has handsome accents that include bright 19-inch Chromtec alloy wheels. ...

    The ventilated leather seats have quilted stitching.
  5. Alex Morgan, U.S. soccer star and media presence

    Soccer

    Alex Morgan was a bright-eyed University of California graduate for her first World Cup back in 2011 and instantly became a star. Now she's a savvy vet, handling her fame with aplomb as she prepares for her World Cup sequel.

    Morgan's star rose quickly following her performance in Germany four years ago. As the youngest player on the U.S. World Cup team she became a super sub with a goal and an assist in the final against Japan. ...

    Morgan is all smiles as teammates celebrate her goal in a friendly against France in East Hartford, Conn.
  6. The Daily Drivers: 2015 Audi RS 5 Cabriolet

    Autos

    We recently drove Audi's RS 5 Cabriolet, which shares the somewhat conservative looks of the model its based on, the A5 coupe. But don't let the looks fool you. This is no top-down luxury cruiser. For all intents and purposes, the RS 5 is a German muscle car.

    Appearance: The RS 5 does get some slight exterior tweaks from its A5 and S5 siblings that include the front end and fascia, as well as a "wide-body design." The RS also has a single-frame grille with honeycomb mesh insert. Large air intakes with horizontal slats sit beneath the grille, which also is flanked by adaptive xenon-plus headlights with LED daytime running lights. In the rear, it sports LED taillights, RS oval exhaust outlets and a spoiler lip on the trunk lid. When the top is down, it tucks behind the rear seats. Our tester's Daytona Gray Pearl paint was set off by optional five-arm rotor-design wheels (titanium finish) that show this car means business. Peeking out from those 20-inch wheels: bright-red brake calipers....

    2015 Audi RS 5 Cabriolet
  7. BALLS!

    If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'. • The credit for that old saying generally goes to NASCAR legend Richard Petty, inset photo left, though it just as easily could have come from Tom Brady, Gaylord Perry or pretty much any of the millions who have thrown, pitched or hit a ball since people started playing sports. • Blurring the line between legal and illegal, then figuring out how to get away with it, is as old as keeping score. • But what two New England Patriots employees did when they executed a plan to deflate footballs to Brady's liking — according to an NFL-commissioned report by lawyer Ted Wells — was a direct violation of a well-defined rule about equipment that didn't leave room for shades of gray. • And despite America finding out there will be a harsh penalty for Brady's violation (story, Page 37), the idea of taking liberties with playing equipment is hardly a new one. • A quick examination of the way bats, balls, rackets, clubs and other equipment has been manipulated over the years. ...

    FILE - In this February 1981 file photo, Richard Petty sits by his car at a NASCAR auto race. If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'. The credit for that old saying generally goes to NASCAR legend Petty, though it just as easily could've come from Tom Brady, Gaylord Perry or pretty much any of the millions who have thrown, pitched or hit a ball since people started playing sports. Blurring the line between legal and illegal, then figuring out how to get away with it, is as old as keeping score. (AP Photo, File) NY117
  8. Jimbo produces the NFL's future stars and understudies

    Marketing has never been something I've been particularly interested in, but I believe I have come up with three excellent recruiting slogans for Jimbo Fisher.

    You ready?

    1. Florida State: The place where we turn high school recruits into NFL draft picks.

    2. FSU: Football Seasoning Unprecedented.

    3. NFL hopes in limbo? Then come see Jimbo!

    In recent years, nobody in college football has beget more pros than Fisher, who watched 11 of his players selected in last week's NFL draft and has had 29 players drafted since 2013 — an unprecedented three-year stretch that set a modern-day NFL record....

    Under Jimbo Fisher, FSU is a gateway to the NFL. Andy Lyons/Getty Images
  9. The Daily Drivers: 2015 Volkswagen Eos Final Edition

    Autos



    We finally got to drive the Volkswagen Eos, just in time to see it go away. The car that's named after the Greek goddess of Dawn is driving off into the sunset. VW is stopping production this year, partly because of lagging sales. Our tester was the aptly named Final Edition.

    Appearance: There's certainly nothing striking about the Eos, which looks similar to the VW Jetta. The highlight is the convertible hard top, which features a unique built-in retractable sunroof. With the top down, it's an attractive droptop with a clean rear look. (The top folds flat into the trunk.) The Final Edition trim brings bi-xenon headlights with adaptive front lighting, LED running lights and 18-inch alloy wheels. Our tester had the elegant and bronzelike Black Oak Brown Metallic exterior paint. ...

    The gauges are simple. The Bluetooth phone connection is on the driver screen in the instrument cluster.
  10. The Daily Drivers: Jaguar F-Type R Coupe is one cool cat

    Autos

    Jaguar rolled out a coupe version of its F-Type — the spiritual successor to the iconic E-type — last year, following the introduction of the roadster version. The result is an even more striking car, especially in the performance F-Type R that we drove.

    Appearance: Classic proportions. The coupe's long hood flows into an arching roofline. The short rear haunches are wide and muscular. Up front, the appearance is equally aggressive; even the headlamps, which have Jaguar's "J-Blade" LED running lights, look predatory as they flank the clamshell hood. From the rear, there are design nods to the E-Type: a liftback hatch and quad tailpipes. A retractable spoiler lifts out at higher speeds. Our F-Type rode on 20-inch double-spoke alloy wheels. The red brake calipers were a sharp contrast against our tester's Polaris White finish, which shone nicely under the sun. Overall, the coupe's look seems to mimic Jaguar's "Leaper" logo; this car is ready to pounce....

    When the A/C is off, the dash is flat.
  11. The Daily Drivers Updates: 2016 Kia Sorento SXL V-6 AWD and 2015 Lexus LS460 F Sport

    Autos

    2016 Kia Sorento SXL V-6 AWD

    Price: base, $24,900, as tested, $46,695

    For 2016, Kia has redesigned the Sorento, giving the midsize SUV a sleeker and more chiseled look while extending its wheelbase. Our tester was the top-of-the-line SXL model. One telling new detail that's symbolic of this new upscale Sorento: The integrated foglights are now jewellike LEDs like those seen in some high-end cars. Our tester had the optional Soft White Premium Pearl paint and the 19-inch chrome-finished alloy wheels that made the Sorento's overall appearance even more sophisticated. Inside, the first thing you notice is the luxuriousness of the two-tone cabin. Is this really a Kia? It's spacious, with plenty of amenities in the SXL trim. It's well appointed, with comfortable Nappa leather seats that are heated and ventilated. The driver's seat comes with a 14-way power adjustment. The second row has good legroom with seats — outboard ones can be heated — that slide and fold to allow access to the third row, which is best suited for small passengers. Kia is one of the automakers that seems to get what we need in our electronic-gadget age; besides its excellent UVO infotainment system, there are plenty of plug-in points: two USB, one 110-volt power inverter and four 12-volt outlets. The 8-inch touchscreen has a crisp resolution and can show real-time traffic conditions, which long-commuter Lyra found convenient during Tampa Bay rush hours. There's up to 113 cubic feet of cargo space for your hauling needs, with a Smart Power Liftgate that opens automatically when you're standing nearby with a key fob. Especially in its upper trim lines, this newer Sorento is an impressive blend of luxury, amenities and performance. Under the hood of our tester was the optional 3.0-liter direct-injection V-6, which is standard on the third-row models in the midsize-but-larger SUV. (There are two different 4-cylinder engines available in the lower trims.) The V-6 makes 290 horsepower and is paired with an electronically controlled 6-speed automatic. There are three driving modes: Eco, Sport and Normal. The ride is stable, thanks to the Dynamax full-time AWD, which we found keeps the Sorento planted even on rain-slick roads. Our tester was loaded with safety features that included a rear camera, blind-spot detection, forward-collision system and surround view....

    The angled touchscreen and vents are surrounded by a metallic trim.
  12. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600

    Autos

    Remember the Maybach, that titan of Teutonic luxury? It was so expensive that Jay-Z and Kanye trashed one in an act of conspicuous destruction for a music video. Sales of the Maybach, however, weren't titanic, so parent Mercedes retired the brand a few years ago. Now it's back as a "sub-brand" — the Mercedes-Maybach S600 — with a lower price but higher expectations given that it's now the German automaker's flagship sedan. It goes on sale this month. ...

    The speakers for the Burmester sound system are chrome-plated.
  13. A Daily Drivers SUV update: Mitsubishi, Subaru, Mazda, Infiniti

    Autos

    2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE $19,595 base, $28,545 as tested

    The compact crossover is now a bit more powerful with the optional 2.4-liter MIVEC 4-cylinder engine that gets 20 more horses than the smaller 2.0. Our tester had the smaller powerplant, but the additional horsepower over the 148 for this car would be welcome. The Outlander Sport is a carryover from last year, still offering a reasonable entry point for SUV shoppers at $19,595 as its base price. It's better on pavement than off-road and best as a city ride. The lack of power is more evident on the highway. The CVT is loud, but it helps to get a decent estimated fuel mileage of 25 city, 32 highway. It handles well for an SUV, but unlike the "Sport" in its name, the ride isn't sporty. The interior has been slightly improved, with one of the most expansive sunroofs and available leather seats, but the quality still lags some of its competition. ...

    2015 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring FWD
  14. The Daily Drivers: 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE

    Autos

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    We liked Toyota's 2015 model redesign of its popular-but-bland Camry that finally gave the exterior a bold look while further refining the cabin. This time, we trade the V-6 for a hybrid, which makes the midsize sedan even more sensible.

    Appearance: The refresh injected attitude into the Camry with a more aggressive grille and an athletic look. The hybrid's exterior is pretty much the same as the regular Camry. Ours was the SE, the more sporty of the Camry hybrid's three trims (the base is the LE and the top-of-the-line version is the XLE). The black mesh grille gives it a more racy look, as does a deck-lid spoiler and 17-inch alloy wheels with graphite finish. Our tester had sharp Blue Crush Metallic paint....

    The gauges are easy to read with a prominent power-usage gauge on the left.
  15. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Mazda6 Grand Touring

    Autos

    Here's a question we're often asked: "What family sedan is your favorite?" For both of us, the answer comes quickly: the Mazda6. We think it's the best-looking midsize car on the market, is engaging to drive and has a well-appointed interior. For 2016, it gets a refresh and is even better.

    Appearance: The 6, all muscular front fenders and creases that accentuate its flowing lines, invites adjectives such as sleek and sinuous — even sexy. That might seem like hyperbole, but in an era of indistinguishable cars, the 6 stands out. For '16, the exterior changes are few but well done: Our Grand Touring tester gets a slightly restyled grille and new LED headlights. In the rear, LED taillights now echo the front lights' menacing look. Our tester rolled on twin-spoke 19-inch alloy wheels....

    The air conditioning controls have dials for temperature and buttons for other functions, shown on a small display.