Irons: Hot New Picks for 2014
What new irons are getting the most buzz early in 2014, and which ones are testing the best at fitters around the world?
You don’t have to poke around too long in our forums to find out what irons golfers are excited about, and which ones are getting cricket treatment. It’s still too early to tell what will be the winners of our 2014 Editors Choice awards, because some manufacturers still haven’t stocked retailers with heads or full shaft offerings.
That being said, there are some early reports about this year’s performers. Here is a short list of what is hot, and some early recommendations if you’re on the lookout for a new set of irons for 2014.
Ping S55 Irons
Ping found a way to squeeze a little extra forgiveness and distance out of the new S55 irons. They look almost identical to the S56 irons — we think that’s a good thing — that have over 30 professional victories since fall of 2011. They’re still cast, but many golfers will tell you that these irons feel much better than previous models. Expect the S55 to be a top choice for many, and a contender for Editors’ Choice Iron of the Year.
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Titleist 714 AP1 and AP2 Irons
Titleist engineers had a very difficult task: improve what many golfers believed to be the leaders in their respective segments. The AP1’s build on their strengths with the game-improvement crowd, giving golfers a set of irons with more distance, forgiveness and a cleaner look. And the changes to new AP2’s set the bar even higher for what just might be the best forged cavity-back irons in golf.
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Callaway Apex Pro Irons
The Apex Pro irons are forged from the same 1020 carbon steel as Callaway’s 2013 X Forged irons, but their multi-material construction and new 37WV grooves bring modernity to the former one-piece design. In the long irons, Callaway engineers added high-density tungsten to the soles, which lowers the center of gravity (CG). That accentuates the irons’ CG height progression, a weighting scheme that gives the long irons a lower CG that launches the ball higher, and the short irons a higher CG that launches the ball lower.
[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/147878/tech-talk-callaway-apex-pro-irons/”]Read More[/button]
Ping i25 Irons
According to Marty Jertson, director of product development for Ping, the biggest challenge most golfers face is hitting their long irons high enough. That’s why Ping’s new i25 long irons are designed more like to the company’s G-Series irons: they have longer blade lengths, wider soles and more offset, which helps golfers hit them higher, farther and closer to the target line on mishits. The irons also have thinner, more narrowly spaced stability bars in their cavities that make their faces livelier than their predecessors.
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TaylorMade SpeedBlade Irons
At address, SpeedBlades are an absolute confidence booster with a thin(ish) top line. They have a great trampoline-like feel when flushed, and mishits won’t punish your joints. The ball flight with the long irons can look down right majestic. These irons are currently testing through the roof for distance and accuracy.
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Spotted: Luke Donald’s new Odyssey Versa 12 CS putter
Luke Donald has been using a center-shafted Odyssey #7 putter for a very, very long time. Recently Luke decided that he wanted to change it up and try some new putters, according to Joe Toulon, Callaway’s PGA Tour manager.
The new putter is an Odyssey Versa Twelve CS mallet, center-shafted, of course. Odyssey’s Versa high contrast alignment system debuted in 2013 and brought back this year with a full line of head shapes. The Twelve CS is a high MOI mallet with a raised center section and “wings” on the sides. The head is finished in black and then a large white rectangle runs down the center of the putter to aid in aligning the putter towards the target. There is also a short site line on the top, right next to where the shaft attached to the head.
Odyssey’s famous White Hot insert is a two-part urethane formula that offers a soft feel and consistent distance control. The sole features two weights that are interchangeable to dial in the desired head weight and feel. The Versa Twelve CS usually comes with Odyssey’s Stroke Lab counterbalanced graphite shaft but Luke looks to have gone with a traditional steel shaft and a Super Stroke Claw 2.0 Zenergy grip in Red and White.
Our own Andrew Tursky asked Joe Toulon about the type of player who gravitates towards a center-shafted putter:
“Since it’s easy to manipulate the face angle with something center shafted, probably someone with good hands. If you’re a good chipper you may like the face control that a center shafted putter offers.”
Check out more photos of the Odyssey Versa Twelve CS Putter.
7 takeaways from an AWESOME equipment talk with Padraig Harrington
Fans of golf equipment have long known that Padraig Harrington is one of us. Throughout his career, Harrington has been willing to test new products, make changes from week to week, and play with a bag of mixed equipment brands.
What equipment fans may not know, however, is just how brilliant of an equipment mind Harrington truly has.
Ahead of the 2023 Valero Texas Open, I caught up with Harrington to pick his brain about what clubs are currently in his bag, and why. The conversation turned into Harrington discussing topics such as the broader equipment landscape, brand deals in 2023, his driver testing process, why he still uses a TaylorMade ZTP wedge from 2008, square grooves vs. V-grooves, and using a knockoff set of Ping Eye 1 irons as a junior.
Padraig Harrington’s 2023 WITB
Below are my 7 major takeaways from the extensive gear talk with Harrington.
1) Padraig’s stance on equipment contracts, and why he prefers Wilson
Harrington is a longtime Wilson staffer, and although he supports the brand and uses their equipment, he doesn’t use a full bag of Wilson clubs. He finds Wilson’s understanding of a player’s need for flexibility to be beneficial to the player, and it’s attracting more and more professional players to the company (such as Kevin Kisner and Trey Mullinax).
“Wilson wants me to play whatever I’m comfortable with. It’s very important. They’re not a manufacturer that says, ‘We want you to play 14 clubs.’ There’s always a club you don’t like. That’s just the way it is. So Wilson is like, ‘We want you playing well and playing the best clubs for you.’
“I am very comfortable with their irons. I’m very comfortable with their wedges, as you can see. They have an old hybrid 4 iron that I love. They have a new hybrid 4-iron that is too powerful. I put it in the bag last week and I had to take it out. The thing is, I use a 4-iron and a 5-wood. My 4-iron has to go somewhat relative to my 5-iron, and then I have to bridge that gap between 4-iron and 5-wood, so it has to do both. The new 4-iron was going 230 yards. My 4-iron goes about 215-235, maybe 240 on a warm day. And my 5-wood is like a warm-day 265 in the air, but I have no problem hitting it 235, so I can cross it over. But this 4-iron, the new version, it just went. I couldn’t hit the 215 shot with it; it’s just too powerful. That’s why I have the old 4-iron in the bag, but it does the job to bridge the gap…
“As players get more money, they’re less dependent on manufacturers. They need the service of a manufacturer – because, like I need to be on that truck and get things checked. But you’re seeing more players see Wilson as an attractive option because you don’t have to use 14 clubs. If you’re not happy this week with the putter; you know, Wilson has the putters, they have everything, but if you want to chase something else for a moment…remember, there’s two things you’re chasing. If you’re a free agent, it’s not good to be changing a lot. That is a distraction. But it’s nice to have the option that if somebody…like I feel Titleist has come out with a great driver. And I’m able to work my way straight into Titleist and say, ‘Hey, gimmie a go with that. Oh, this is a great driver, I’m going to use this.’ Wilson is aware of that. They want their players to be happy and playing well. Like it’s still 10 clubs, but it’s just not 14 and the ball.
“The irons are great, there’s no doubt about that. They’ve won the most majors. They make a gambit of irons. If you want to use a blade, they have the blade. If you want to use my iron, which is just a good tour composite, it has a bit of a cavity-back, you can do that. If you want to use the D irons that have rockets going off there, you can have them. Like the 4 iron, the one they gave me, it was a rocket! And guys are happy to carry driving irons like that, but mine has to match in with the 5-iron. It was just too high and too fast.
“So yeah, I think you’re going to see manufacturers go more of that way. Our players want to be independent, but the problem is that full independence is not great. You don’t want a situation where you’re turning up – as you see kids who make it into their first tournament, and the manufacturers start giving them stuff, and they’re changing. You don’t want to be the guy changing too much.”
2) The dangers of a 64-degree wedge
Although Harrington himself uses a Wilson Staff High Toe 64-degree wedge, he seldom practices with it. Here’s why he warns against it:
“The big key with a 64 wedge is DO NOT use it. No, seriously, do not use it. It’s a terrible wedge for your technique. That club is in the bag and it gets used on the golf course, and it gets used when it’s needed, but you don’t practice with it, because it’s awful. So much loft will get you leading too much, and you’re going to deloft it. Hit one or two shots with it, then put it away. You’re better off practicing with a pitching wedge and adding loft to be a good chipper instead of practicing with a lob wedge and taking loft off. A 64-degree wedge is accentuating that problem. It’s a dangerous club. It does a great job at times, but it certainly can do harm.
“It’s not bad having it in the bag for a certain shot, but it’s a terrible club to practice with. I literally hit one or two full shots with it, a couple chips with it, and that’s it. I know if I spend too long with it, I’ll start de-lofting.”
3) The interchangeable faces on TaylorMade’s ZTP wedges from 2008 were Padraig’s idea?!
I couldn’t believe it myself, but Harrington says that the idea for TaylorMade to offer interchangeable face technology on its ZTP wedges in 2008 was originally his idea…
“The TaylorMade is obviously attracting a lot of attention, but that was my idea! Myself and a consultant for Wilson, I got him to build changeable faces and he sold that to TaylorMade…that’s fully my idea. He sold that then to TaylorMade, and TaylorMade produced them, which I was happy about. But TaylorMade couldn’t sell them. You can’t get people to clean the grooves, so they weren’t going to buy a new face. Why have 400 faces at home? So I went out and bought these faces to make sure I had them for life. And I was home chipping a while ago, and I have a nice 58. I like the grind on that wedge, and the fact I can just replace the face and have a fresh face every three weeks, it’s just easy, so that’s why that’s in there.”
4) Driver testing isn’t all about speed
“The driver companies know I’m a free agent when it comes to drivers, so every time a new driver comes out, they’ll come to me and say, ‘Hey, would you have a look at this?’
“I will test everything, yeah, but it has to beat what I have in the bag. And Wilson’s new driver is the same. They brought out a new driver and it’s great, but I love the driver I’m using. So I say, ‘Look, guys, not only do you have to be as good as the incumbent, you have to be better, because I already know this and I’m familiar with it.’
“Wilson has built a very, very good driver. There’s know doubt about it. But I love the driver I’m using. And none of these manufacturers can build me a driver that’s better.
“Ball speed gets a driver into the conversation, and then you bring it to the golf course. So the driver has to be going as good as my current driver, and then I bring it to the course and see if I can hit the thing straight. I have gone down the road [of prioritizing speed]…I used a driver in 2014, and it never worked weekends. But it was fast. I used it for about six weeks I’d say – six tournaments – and I missed six straight cuts. It never worked the weekend. It was really fast on the range, but it just wasn’t good on the course.”
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5) Playing with knockoff irons as a junior
“I played as a junior for Ireland, under 18’s, and I owned half a set of golf clubs, and they were imitation Ping Eye 1’s. I borrowed the other half set off my brother. We had a half set each. I had the evens, he had the odds. In that tournament, there was a guy playing with Ping Berylliums with graphite shafts. They cost 1,900 pounds. Mine cost 100 pounds, and they were knockoffs. So I played, for my country, with a set of knockoffs. Before I used those knockoff clubs, I used a mixed bag of clubs. As in, I picked up whatever club they had. The 6-iron might go farther than the 5-iron. The 5-iron might go with a fade and the 7-iron might go with a hook, but I knew what my clubs did. Each club had a purpose.”
6) Using square grooves and V-grooves simultaneously
Square grooves – or “box grooves” – were outlawed by the USGA in 2010 because they were said to help golfers spin the ball too much. V grooves are said to provide less of an advantage because they restrict the sharp edges of the grooves, thus reducing the amount of friction imparted on the golf ball. Prior to the rule change, however, Harrington actually used both V grooves and box grooves, and he’d adjust his setup depending on the golf course.
“What’s interesting is, when the box grooves were around – very few people know this – I carried two sets of clubs at all times. I carried a V groove and a box groove.
“Yeah, see, the box grooves were unbelievable out of the rough, spin wise, but if the rough got to a certain level, the ball would come out so low and with spin that it wouldn’t go very far. Your 7-iron coming out of this rough would only go like 140 yards and it wouldn’t get over any trees because it would come out so low. What I was doing was, if I got to a golf course with this sort of a rough, I’d put in a box groove 7-iron and a V-groove 8-iron. If I got in the rough and I had 170 yards, I’d hit an 8 iron and get a flyer, because the 7 iron wouldn’t get there depending on the lie. And I couldn’t get it over things. So if there were trees, you needed the V groove to get over the trees. A box groove wouldn’t get up in the air.
“No one else was doing it. I played with the box groove for a couple years before I realized that in certain rough, you need the V groove to get there. Hale Irwin played a U.S. Open seemingly with no grooves. Off the fairway it’s meant to make no difference. I would disagree, but that’s what the officials would say. But out of the rough you needed the flyers to get to the green. The V grooves were doing that for me. You get your flyer to get of the rough to get the ball there, but then if it was the first cut of rough, or light rough, or Bermuda rough, or chip shots, it would come out so low and spinny that you’d have no problem.
“I can’t believe that people didn’t realize that I was doing this two-groove thing all the time. I swear to you, you could stand here, you would not launch a 7-iron over that fence there if it was box grooves out of light rough, and V groove would launch over it. The launch characteristics were massively different.”
7) Blame the person, not the putter
Interestingly, Harrington, for all his tinkering, has only used a handful of putters. It turns out, there’s a good reason for that — although he’d like his current model to be a few millimeters taller.
“I used a 2-ball when it came out. Then I used a 2-ball blade, which I won my majors with. I always had a hook in my putts, so not long after I won my majors, I went to face-balanced putter because it helps reduce the left-to-right spin. I started putting really badly in 2013 and 2014 – I had some issues. And then come 2016-2017, I just said, look, I putted well with this putter. If I use this putter, I can’t go back and say it’s the putter’s problem. It’s gotta be me. So I went back to the face-balanced 2-ball blade because I’ve had good times with it. I may have only used 5 or 6 putters in my career.
“I’m really happy that I’ve got a putter that I know I’ve putted well with, and I don’t blame the putter. I can’t say that anymore. I don’t blame my tools, I blame myself if I miss a putt. So it comes down to…I know the putter works, then it’s me. Me, me, me.
“You know, I’ve toyed with using other shafts in the putter, and I will look at other putters, but things are askew to me when I look down. So I can’t have a putter with a line on it. It doesn’t look square to the face. I’ve never putted with a putter that has a line on it for that reason. I line up by feel. I know that putter works, I know it suits me, so that’s why I go with that…
“I prefer a deeper putter (a taller face). The one issue I have is I hit the ball too high on the face, but they won’t remodel the whole system to make me a deeper putter. I’ve tried some optical illusions to try and get it where I hit the ball more in the center, but I hit it high. It seems to be going in the hole so I’m not going to worry about it too much. But in an ideal world, if someone came along and said they could make the putter 3-4 millimeters higher, I’d be happy with that.”
See more photos of Padraig Harrington’s 2023 WITB here
TaylorMade survey on ball rollback finds everyday golfers massively against introduction of Model Local Rule
In response to the USGA and R&A’s recent announcement that they plan on rolling back the golf ball for the professional game, TaylorMade Golf issued a survey asking everyday golfers to voice their opinion regarding the topic of golf ball bifurcation. Today, they are sharing the results.
Almost 45,000 golfers across more than 100 countries spanning a variety of ages, abilities and participation levels took the time to complete the survey and have their voice heard, with some of the major findings shown below:
- To the best of your knowledge, do you agree with the proposed golf ball rule?
- 81% No
- 19% Yes
- Do you think average hitting distances in professional golf need to be reduced?
- 77% No
- 23% Yes
- Are you for or against bifurcation in the game of golf (i.e., different rule(s) for professional golfers versus amateurs)?
- 81% Against
- 19% For
- How important is it for you to play with the same equipment professional golfers use?
- 48% Extremely important
- 35% Moderately important
- 17% Not important
- If the proposed golf ball rule were to go into effect, would it have an impact on your interest in professional golf?
- 45% Less interested
- 49% No impact
- 6% More Interested
The results also show that 57 percent of golfers aged 18-34 years old would be less interested in the pro game should the rule come into effect, while five percent said they would be more interested.
“The goal of our survey was to give golfers the opportunity to voice their opinion on this proposed ruling as we absorb the MLR and its potential effects on the everyday golfer. We are grateful that nearly 45,000 golfers across the world felt the need for their voice to be heard. The overwhelming amount of responses show the passion, knowledge and care for the game our audience possesses. Each response and data point is being reviewed as we will utilize this feedback in our preparation to provide a response to the USGA and R&A.” – David Abeles, TaylorMade Golf President & CEO
You can check out the survey results in full here.
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May 18, 2015 at 12:59 pm
if you want the best feeling irons order a set of raven forged iron with aeortech shafts and you will have the best feeling golf club you ever hit
Jun 9, 2014 at 11:21 am
Funny how it is always the same old ones.
Feb 25, 2014 at 1:18 pm
what about the Minzuno jpxz forged blade its awesome!!!
Feb 17, 2014 at 9:56 am
Best new club is Miura mb-001’s. Buttery and oh so long.
Mar 20, 2014 at 11:29 am
This article is about cavity backs not blades.
Feb 11, 2014 at 11:18 am
anyone got any comparisons between the Titleist AP2s and the PING s55?
Which is more forgiving?
Mar 29, 2014 at 10:53 pm
Today I hit both the AP2 714 and the S55 today. They were both similar in terms of forgiveness. However, the key factor I noticed was that the S55 although not forged but felt really soft like forged irons. The AP2’s felt soft but not as much as the S55, I was quite surprised? I currently play the. I currently play the Mizuno MP33 and the feel between the S55 and my MP33 were similar. If you want a combination of soft feel and forgiveness, try the Callaway Apex Pro. I was blown away by the performance. I will be replacing my Mizunos with the Apex Pro’s. Hope this helps.
Jan 29, 2014 at 12:21 pm
I’ve hit just about every iron (2013/2014) and it came down to two finalists: Callaway Apex Pro and Ping S55. I hit the MP-4, MP-54, all the TaylorMade’s, AP2/AP1, i20/i25, S56, MP-64…
This is very personal and one guy’s favorite might be very different than mine. I chose the S55 in the end and I’m happy that I did, because it’s the best iron I’ve ever hit. It’s a lot longer than I thought it was (longer than S56) and it was amazingly forgiving…while at the same time keeping the smaller profile that I like.
I’m blown away by the S55’s ability to be a club that you can move any direction…while somehow providing enough forgiveness and length.
I didn’t care for the MP-54 (it was chunky and not as forgiving) but somebody else might love it. I spoke to a Mini-Tour player who loves Mizuno (plays MP-64) and he said he’d never consider the MP-4 because it makes no sense to play a club with a sweet spot that small when other clubs were available that were just as easy to move and more forgiving. That’s why he plays MP-64. His view was that the MP-4 was an ego club but the person playing it would be better served with another stick. Again, one player’s opinion.
In the end, it’s best to hit every club and keep an open mind. Personally, I’d play any club manufacturer if I believed it was the best for me. I’m not loyal to anyone, I just want the sticks that I can play the best golf…for me.
Jan 28, 2014 at 5:10 pm
Read the first and second paragraph’s guy’s.
Jan 23, 2014 at 1:45 am
I’m not agree on SpeedBlade. I use Ping i20 and then switch to RocketBladez and then speedBlade. Now I go back to Ping i20. SpeedBlade is not much different from previous model. Just new color.
Always a Fan!!
Jan 16, 2014 at 10:48 pm
Mizuno deserves credit… MP4’s are the 2014 offering no matter what date they were released… Good god… Blatant commercialism.
Jan 15, 2014 at 10:01 pm
Got the big 4 covered
titleist, Callaway, ping, tm
Jan 15, 2014 at 11:47 pm
They peg it. I work at a top 5 fitter in the USA and we are seeing the same thing plus the new Cobra Pros. All in the LM numbers.
Jan 15, 2014 at 7:17 pm
Lets face it. Golfwrx is paid off by the big names to push their products. Everything is made in china and is assembled in the states. Show me something thats forged in pittsburg by a guy named joe and then i might buy your product. Till then, ill stick to my VIPs!
Jan 15, 2014 at 11:44 pm
That is rubbish. Their sponsors are also Tour Edge, KZG, Fourteen Golf and Scratch golf. I dont see them mentioned. GolfWRX uses top fitters as their source if you did any reading or asked around. Read how they vote in the footer and go talk to them.
Jan 15, 2014 at 11:23 am
You have the SpeedBlade but not the CB or MC? And what about the other Apex? X2Hot and X2Hot Pro? And the Adams XTD irons? This list is ridiculous.
Jan 15, 2014 at 11:13 am
Why isn’t the FG M3 Wilson Staff shown?
Jan 15, 2014 at 11:07 am
Good comment Rich!
I notice that ping has been getting more exposure when they appear to be going to a walmart looking club.The colors are cheap & weak looking.
TM is still searching because they keep changing colors .Can anyone tell me what TM’s primary color is? And TT you are right on the ball, prices fall tech doesn’t really change just appearences so wait and buy later.
Feb 24, 2014 at 2:47 am
Does it really matter what colour? It won’t make the ball or you perform any better!
Mar 4, 2014 at 12:11 pm
If you’ve seen the PING S55s in hand, there is no way you could classify them as a Walmart club. They are the best looking clubs I’ve seen, the finish is amazing. I love Titleist and Mizuno, but when I saw the S55s I just said ‘wow’. And they play amazingly, too.
Jan 15, 2014 at 8:54 am
Even though the MP 4’s and MP 54’s were released in 2013, I truly would like to see them on this list. They have a great combination of looks and feel.
Jan 15, 2014 at 2:41 pm
Best blade and forged cavity on the market IMO of course.
Jan 14, 2014 at 9:31 pm
I scrolled up and down twice. Where is MP4?
Jan 14, 2014 at 10:06 pm
and VR pro combo.
Jan 15, 2014 at 12:02 am
MP-4 has been out for a while now, so it’s considered 2013 and a half? I thought the MP-54 would be on here too but it isn’t. And what about the Wilsons?
Jan 14, 2014 at 9:18 pm
I have the new Titleist AP1. And i love them. They are about the only company left that doesn’t release new clubs every 2 months. I think it is stupid for companys to come out with new clubs every 4 months. I have a Taylormade R1 white driver and they have already came out with 3 new drivers.
Jan 14, 2014 at 9:33 pm
Since when are more product choices for consumers a bad thing? Also, if I am in the market for new clubs and eyeing a particular club (or set of clubs), I know if I am willing to wait a few more months I can likely get them at a lower price?
Jan 14, 2014 at 11:48 pm
TT, good point
Six months is wonderful timing for price changes. I usually purchase last years models when they drop a lot in price. Even though the look of a cub line might change a little I think R&D rotates on a 2 to 3 year cycle on irons.
Jan 15, 2014 at 6:41 am
Since it makes a joke of the club industry. TMAG don’t give 2 hoots about what’s good for the game. They only care about what’s good for the bottom line and the shareholders hip pockets. Maybe I should buy some TMAG shares and get in on the rort……….
May 26, 2014 at 1:46 am
It’s called Capitalism. If you want limited choices and companies that can only release certain products at certain predicated times, move to a communist nation. What do you think is the driving force behind innovation? It is competition, plain and simple. What essentially is competition in a Capitalist system? It is multiple companies vying for marketshare. How do they accomplish this? They constantly develop new technologies, no matter how small the change may be, so that at any given time, a company’s product might be considered more advanced and of better quality than a competitor’s.
Jan 15, 2014 at 6:40 am
Sorry man, it’s actually 4. R1 Black, SLDR 460, SLDR 430 and Jetspeed. TMAG are ridiculous………
Mar 5, 2014 at 3:10 pm
Actually R1 black is an extension of the r1 so it’s not “new.” And the sldr and the sldr 430 are the same technology in a smaller package. So taylormade has actually only come out with 2 new clubs. Sldr and jetspeed.
Jan 15, 2014 at 12:07 pm
hmmm Titleist the only manufacture that does releases every 2 years? when was the last ping i series released? I’m also pretty sure that Mizuno has a 2 year cycle as well?
Jan 15, 2014 at 4:15 pm
Ping i20’s were out two years ago, and yes you are right. Mizuno do employ a two year cycle for their clubs.
Jan 16, 2014 at 5:29 am
Yeah that’s right the I20 irons were released 2 years ago however Ping had the I25’s ready 6 months ago but were told by their distribution network to hold their horses. It’s good to see that they listened to the guys on the street as from first impressions the 25’s aren’t a radical upgrade which 6 months ago may well have been viewed as a cosmetic blow over, given the extra time they will now attract genuine interest even from I20 owners.
Feb 19, 2014 at 2:35 pm
As an I 20 owner, I have tried the new stuff, and don’t care. I20 looks better to.