Wednesday, September 17, 2014

2015/2016 Ford C-Max



Just like the Focus, the C-Max gets a few revisions for the new year.
Which is 2015 in Europe, and could be for the 2016 model year in the US.

The front end looks a lot cleaner than before. It's actually quite an improvement, I think.

Inside things are a bit simpler too, less Klingon looking....

Here is the current one.

Monday, September 15, 2014

All new Fiat 500X

Here is the 1st picture of the real thing.

The small SUV/Crossover based on the 500L platform.

And it does look really good.
I think, unlike the weird looking 500L, this is the potential to be really big in the US.

More very soon...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

More pictures of the new Mazda Miata



Still in red. With black wheels.
(Which, in my opinion, make any car look quite vulgar.)

The interior seems fine. A bit more upscale than before. But nothing very stylish or inspired.

But I do like how sculpted the door panels are. This looks really cool...


All new BMW 2 series convertible





Replacing the previous 1 series convertible.

And looking about as good as the slightly roomier and bigger 4 series convertible.
So now you can get that great BMW image ("aggressive asshole driver and guy-who-parks-across-2-parking-spaces") for less money.

Since the current Z4 has jumped so high in price with the last redesign, this is now the cheapest BMW convertible.

I have seen a few of the 2 series coupe, and they do look quite nice.
About as nice as the 4 series. And they both have the same engines.

2016 Mercedes AMG GT




This is crazy good looking!

Sorry, but I actually don't care that much about the specs. (Since most buyers will never drive this as fast as it can go.)
But it does have a 4.0 Liter V8 Turbo with 456HP or 503HP for the "S" version.

Not sure about pricing either, yet.
But it was mentioned previously that it would be competing with the Porsche 911.
So that would put it at around $100 000, I would guess.

I can't wait to see one of these in the streets!

Subaru Viziv production version?

 It does look like a production version of the Viziv concept, doesn't it...

Except the new Subaru grille isn't really there. Which is kind of weird.
And the side mirrors are still pretty small for a production car.

So I'm not really sure this is real. I mean, it would be nice if Subaru actually had one interesting design in their line up.


This is the latest concept version. (They had another one before)
Where you see the new grille. Similar to the one in the new Legacy.
And the more angular look they are using now.
Something like this would be really nice.

The "patent drawing" on tope looks pretty soft...

Monday, September 08, 2014

More pix of the all new 2016 Jaguar XE




Still needs to see the regular version.
Red interior is just pretty horrible.

And it doesn't seem that upscale, at least on the pix. There is something cheap looking about the door trim...

And also. That great looking sunroof! It's actually useless for the driver and front passenger.
Look how far back it starts. Why?? Why?????

And now we know that it won't even come to the us before 2016!
Again, why????

2016 Jaguar XE



I hate to say, but after all this waiting, I'm a bit disappointed.
It just looks like a small XF. Something that could have been out 5 years ago...
(It even has a bit of Acura ILX feel in the middle pic)

But, I also realize these are pretty bad pictures.
I always think it's a mistake to release pictures of the "Sport version" first.
Which means, "no chrome and horrible interior color combo".

In this case, no chrome is really bad on a Jaguar. (You can see where the chrome part would get thicker around the rear door, giving the car a bit of personality)
As for the interior, even if I imagine it in black, or cream, it still looks fairly generic.
Plus, the design of the dash doesn't match the doors at all. It seems to be resting on the door trim,  in a weird way.

I guess this is a case of "wait and see".
As in "wait for better pix and better colors"....


Saturday, September 06, 2014

Car films: "Week end" 1967 by Jean-Luc Godard

OK, first. A warning. This is NOT a film for everyone. (Especially kids.)

But I am watching this for the 1st time, although I've heard about it for years.
I am usually not a fan of Godard films. But this is so great in some ways.

And many scenes are beautiful displays of 60's European cars.
Any car lovers would at least enjoy that part of this otherwise very strange film.
(It is after all pretty much communist and very much anti-American...)

There is a long scene of a traffic jam in a country road that has so many cool cars in it.

Well. I'm going back to it.
I'm watching it on Hulu (Criterion collection)

Just though I mentioned it....

Friday, September 05, 2014

Nissan Note Test Drive


 I did drive the Note before. But since Nissan sent me another one. I thought, why not?
See what I think of it now.

I still really like the design. Which I think is so much nicer looking than the new 2015 Honda Fit abomination.

With "real" alloy wheels, it would even be better. Much better.

 The interior is really roomy. And that's about all for the good news.
Otherwise, there is no soft plastic anywhere. Even on the door armrests.
The seating position is too high. Even in the lowest setting.

The stereo sounds pretty basic. (polite for "bad")

 The engine is surprisingly quiet and smooth. Pretty much at al time.
Which is really nice.
That is until you try to push it. Then it gets quite noisy. With no result.
As the combination of "CVT and no power" pretty much dictates how fast you are going.

This is one of the only cars where I actually floored the accelerator to merge on the freeway.
With little result.

The ride is much firmer than I remember. (Almost too hard at times.)
Mileage is supposed to be 31/40.
I was able to squeeze about 27 around town, trying very, very hard. There is no way anyone is ever getting 31MPG.
But I was able to get at least 42 on the freeway.

The morel I test last year had a much nicer light colored interior.
Black isn't helping and makes the whole thing look even cheaper.

My test car was a bit over $17 000. Which actually seems expensive to me.
This should be the base model. ( I still had a few options) A car like this shouldn't be more than $13 000.
It is just too bad. It wouldn't take much to make the Note a much nicer car.
With the Cube gone soon, this is their main small hatchback offering.
A better engine and nicer interior bits would go a long way.
(A nicer interior is available in Europe. Also a glass roof option)


In case you were wondering, this is the interior of the 2015 model. (Not sure why Nissan still had a 2014 car to send me...)
The only change I see is the top of the console.
Not sure if the plastics are better or not...

They also have a new SR model. SR sounds sporty doesn't it?
Well, it's not. It uses the same CVT/engine combo.

But you get suede covered seats, piano black console, alloy wheels and other nicer bits. Which makes its $17 500 price pretty attractive. Considering my hubcaps equipped test car costs the same amount...


All new Kia K4



Just when you thought the US market was conservative.
This is Kia's mid size sedan for the Chinese market. One of their most boring designs in years!

It just looks like a small Cadenza.
Look at that rear end! It might be humanly impossible to come up with anything less inspired.

And that interior looks closer to the new Sonata than anything from Kia.

For once, the good news is: this is NOT for us.

And by the way, the redesigned Optima is actually already looking quite nice, from the spy pix I've seen of it.
Nothing like this.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport




Gone is the LR2.
Now we have the Discovery Sport. (A "regular" and larger Discovery is coming up later)

I know the purist will miss the old fashion blocky look of past Land Rovers, but I think this one looks great.
(It is after all, the 21st century.)

It is powered by a 240HP 2.0 Liter Turbo, with a 9 speed Auto.

Not sure if the reliability has improved or not, but Range Rover/Land Rover has come up with some great looking models lately...

2016 Mazda Miata



So here it is. The all new Miata.

I've been waiting so long for a new model that I'm not quite sure what to think of it.
First, I do hate black wheels. So it's hard to tell, at least for me.
And the black trim around the windshield doesn't help either.

So far it looks more rounded, yet more masculine than before.
It does look a bit cartoony from some angles.

Maybe it's one of these cars that actually looks fantastic in real life.
And I'm sure things are much better with "normal" wheels.

No specs yet. Except it is lighter, lower and shorter (!) than before.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

VW Jetta TDI test drive


 I have driven the Jetta TDI before.
It was a 6 speed manual version. And I quite liked it.
Great mileage, quiet diesel, comfortable, and a really nice manual transmission.

I also drove a recent 1.8 Turbo version, also with the manual. And I liked that too.

Last week I got this Automatic version. With the DSG. That I usually hate.
So let's see how it works in the Jetta Diesel.

 There is noting new inside. Still classic and roomy. Roomier than many more expensive cars, especially in the back.

 The only "new" detail I could notice was the metal trim. Which is now darker than before.
It also looks more like metal. Still not sure if it is or not...
 The version I drove was a loaded "Premium & Nav" model.
Which included a sunroof, GPS and the always great Fender Audio system.
 No leather. Just "leatherette". (Fancy for vinyl) Which is actually fine by me.
Since I'm not especially crazy about killing animals to cover my car seats. Plastic will do just fine...
 VW does make great diesels. But they are still Diesels.

They are still noisier than regular gas engines. (No matter what some other reviewers are saying)
It's obvious when cold. Even after a while, lower the windows at a red light when idling, and you know you're driving a diesel.
Things become quiet when driving. It just settles into a "different" sound. Which  is is fine.

It also still smells a little bit. Not bad like the old diesels. But there is a smell.
Again, nothing you know while driving...

Overall, the Jetta is a fine driving car. But it doesn't have that "heavy, solid" German car feel it used to have .
(Same with the current Passat actually)
There is nothing wrong, it's just not that special anymore.
Like most new VWs, the steering is fine, if a bit light. It is still better than most. (Like the dead Nissan feel)

Now for the DSG.
It has to be the worst automatic transmission I have experience.
But it seems to vary. The Beetle 2.0 Liter I drove a while ago seemed a bit better. (Or maybe I just got used to it)

In this car, it is really bad.
Mostly while the car is in first.
Between the DSG and the Turbo lag from the engine, a smooth take off is almost impossible.
(There is nothing, then a rush of power.)
Same thing in reverse when slowing down to a stop.

It is just really weird and always feels like there is something wrong.
Things are fine once you get in 2nd gear. But shifting really doesn't seem any faster than a regular automatic.
Speaking of "regular" automatics, what is wrong with them???
This thing doesn't shift any faster and I don't see any fuel saving from it.

It is rated at 30/42MPG.
I did reach about 30 in the city (A bit less than with the manual)
But , got much more than the official number on the Highway, with 51MPG.
Again, a bit less than with the 6 speed manual.

Another thing: I have no idea why the official HWY numbers on every single VW TDI models are always way off. Way under what people are actually getting.
Why????
Most people seem to be OK with the DSG. I have never really seen anyone complaining about it as much as I do. 
But I do have this problem in every single one I drive. It does vary a bit, but it's always bad.
I guess people don't really care...

Otherwise, the Jetta TDI is a fine car.

But its main competition is actually the "regular" Jetta with the new 1.8 Liter engine.
That new engine is rated at 26/36. But I actually got 28/43 in actual driving.
Which is getting pretty close to the Diesel version. For about $2000 less.
The new 1.8 Liter Turbo also uses cheaper Regular Gas.

And on the other side, the Hybrid version is actually great. The 7 speed DSG works much better when helped by an electric motor. And it does actually get 45 in both city and highway.

But if I was in the market for a Jetta, the 1.8 Liter is the one I would get.
It does have a nice Turbo rush. It is quick, quieter than the diesel. Cheaper to run and buy.
And around town, uses about the same amount of gas.

Here are a couple of pix of the revised 2015 Model.

Besides bumpers and headlights, the exterior is pretty much the same.
Inside it is still the same thing too. Except for some piano black trim and the steering wheel from the new Golf.

But the Diesel does come with a new engine. Still a 2.0 Liter. But is has more power and even better MPG. Which could factually get about 55MPG in real life driving.

Something I'll have to try soon...