Sunday, November 30, 2008

Nissan Altima Hybrid review


I was really curious to drive a real hybrid. Not something like the Saturn Vue Hybrid I drove a few weeks ago. Where you pay about $3500 for a 1mpg gain.
I drove the Prius before and I am must say I'm not a big fan. It feels to me like driving a washing machine.
The Altima (and the Camry hybrid) are geared toward people who want a more "normal" driving experience.

-HOW DOES IT LOOK?
Well, it just looks exactly like a regular Altima. Just like the Camry hybrid does look like a regular Camry. These are not show off cars.
They don't make a statement. Or maybe the one that you "don't want to make a statement". You just want to save gas.
It's kind of like giving to charity anonymously.
I think the Altima is a really good looking car no matter what version.


_HOW IS IT INSIDE?
Again, pretty much like all other Altimas. Except for the video screen, telling you what's going on under the hood.
The interior of all Altimas is very nicely designed. Although it doesn't have as much personality as the Malibu's interior.
It is pretty bland, but materials are all of very good quality and everything fits very nicely.
The back seat is also very roomy.
The version I tested was loaded with every single options. But it still didn't have memory settings for the seats.


-HOW DOES IT DRIVE?
-Ride.
The ride is very smooth without ever being too soft. Again, very similar to the other versions.

-Steering.
I thought the steering was a bit on the luxury/over boosted side. But it was still precise.
And for a car you're not supposed to drive like a sports car, I guess it's OK.

-Engine.
This is the heart of the car. The gas engine is so smooth and quiet that it is very hard to tell when it switches from electric to gas. Or when it turns itself on and off. It seems to be a perfect match for the electric motor.
I was able to drive up to about 37MPH on electric alone!
Sure, as soon as you push it just a little bit, the gas engine starts.
But still, it is a lot of fun, cruising at 30MPH in total silence. It really feel futuristic.

-Transmission.
I am usually not a fan of CVTs. But this is the 2nd Nissan CVT I drive and it is, again, excellent.
If you really want to punch it, you will still miss the feel of downshifting, but this is not at all what this car is about.
There is enough power for almost any use, and the CVT is more than up to the task in this car.
A perfect match to the engine.

-SO???
Well. The loaded Altima Hybrid I drove was about $34 000. Very expensive for a mainstream midsized sedan.
The equivalent SL model, with the 2.5 Liter engine will cost about $30 000. So that is a $4000 difference.
In today's market, you can get the Hybrid for $2000 under MSRP, and the SL for $3000 under.
So in real life, the difference is more like $5000.

Is it worth it???

The Hybrid is rated at 35 MPG city and 33MPG HWY.
During a whole week of driving, including about 40% Hwy, I averaged 40MPG. Yes, 40.
So at 40MPG I would say this is a real advantage over almost any car that size.

Is it still worth $4000? I'm not sure. And that all depends on how fast gas will get back to $4 a gallon or more..

But the Altima Hybrid is a really good family car no matter what. And a pleasure to drive.
Plus, it does start at under $27 000, for a hybrid with real advantages over the gas version.
Unlike the Aura....

Final Expedition from Michigan


It's not the last Expedition produced.
The Kentucky Truck Plant will take care of that now.
But this is the last Expedition coming out of the Michigan Truck Plant. A.K.A the old Wayne Station Wagon plant.
It will be retooling to produce all new 2011 "Euro Ford" models.

The Mexican plant at Cuautitlan, now producing the F150 is also preparing for the production of the new Fiesta for 2010.
And a year later, the Louisville plant, now making Explorers, will also be producing yet another model based on the C-car platform.

Sounds like Ford is doing everything they can...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ford Ranger Max Concept


From the Thailand auto show.
I think that finally replacing the Ranger in the US with a small, fuel efficient modern looking pick up truck would be a great idea.
Many people still need or want a pick up.
They just don't need something as big as an F150. And most won't deal with a 10/12 MPG life style...

I say put the Fusion Hybrid powertrain in this and send it over.

Friday, November 28, 2008

One of GM's many problems


Cars that shouldn't even be produced....

Just look a this ad. Who in their right mind would pay over $3500 to save 1MPG?

The Aura is a really good car. One of my favorite midsized sedan.
But they shouldn't even produce the hybrid version.

Next generation BMW 5 series interior???




It could be. (Top photol)
And it's looking much nicer than the current model (Bottom) . At least it isn't as flat looking.
With a "GPS hump" integrated into the dash.

And it also looks so much better than the new mercedes E Class interior....

New Mini Convertible video

GM finally dropping brands?


Apparently, they're going back in Washington on Dec 5th with some kind of proposal in order to get money.
In order to show they are serious about their survival, they could consider dropping a few brands.
These rumors include Saturn, Saab and Pontiac.
-Saturn. I thought they were on their way to success... Sure, they do need major advertising money, but they do have good cars.
It's just that nobody knows about them.
-Saab. Their whole line up is supposed to be new within a couple of years. Why drop them now?
-Pontiac. The G6 and Solstice are popular. The G8 is a really good car. They were on their way to make it the Sporty brand (Before the G3 that is...)

I think if they want to get rid of something, they should be thinking of GMC first. Then maybe Buick.

Other rumors:
The Chinese could buy Buick.
And the Swedish government could nationalize Saab.

What do you think???

All new Mini Cooper Cabrio




Finally. The new one is based on the redesigned Mini. The one that came out over a year ago.
So it gets the new engines,interior etc...
This one also gets rid of the fixed roll bar behind the seat. Offering a much better visibility.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Peugeot 3008


I must say, from that angle, it does look really, really weird...

VW Golf Hybrid concept


They did show a Golf Hybrid concept last year. But this improved version is based on the new design.

Its about time. Seems like everyone is chasing Toyota. The new Prius next month will be their 3rd generation of a production hybrid.
And a giant car maker like VW can only announce a production version of this for the 2012 model year.
It uses a small 1.2 Liter diesel with an electric motor. And it is a plug in.
It is supposed to be able to run on electric alone for about 35 miles. And top speed (electric alone) could be about 75MPH.

It will still be 2 years behind GM and Toyota.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Auto show thoughts: Kia Soul




The Soul does look great in person. And still quite a bit larger than the old Scion.
But the interior does look and feel really cheap.
The design of the dash is very nice and pleasant. Much more so than the Scion. But again, it's mostly cheap and hard plastic.
Same thing with the doors.
It does remind me of the finish we used to find in the cheapest Japanese cars around 1983.

I hope they price this one way below the Scion.

Auto show thoughts: Ford Mustang




I must say I was a bit disappointed.
The exterior does look better than I thought. More different than I thought from the pictures.

But the interior still has plenty of cheap plastic bits, especially on the console and especially the doors.
It's just like the current model where the top part of the door looks and feel real hard and cheap.

Too bad...

Auto show thoughts: Dodge Challenger


Another great looking car.
I have only seen 2 on the road since they came out.
What a shame.

This car looks striking in many subtle ways. Sure, the interior isn't as original as the new Camaro, but the quality is there.
Good plastics well put together everywhere.
And the view through the smallish windshield is definitely retro.

Auto show thoughts: Chevrolet Camaro


This car looks amazing in person.
It does look like a concept car. I was surprised they kept the roof so low. Almost as low as on the concept version.
It looks wide too.

A great looking car that is well worth the wait.

Auto show thoughts: Lexus RX


I thought this looked bad in pictures, until I saw the real thing.
it looks much worse in person. The front end just looks plain weird.
And there is so much chrome everywhere.
Luxury in a vulgar looking way.

Auto show thoughts: Infiniti G37 Convertible




That is a really good looking car. Nothing at all like the Lexus SC some people compare it too.
It does look very upscale and powerful.

Auto show thoughts: Mazda3




I liked it from the pictures and I wasn't disappointed when I actually sat in it.
A very nice and upscale looking small car. The interior is great, with lots of soft plastics everywhere.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Next VW Polo


VW will have a new Polo next year (This is still just an illustration).
They said before that the new model would make it in the US as a cheaper and smaller car than the Rabbit.
But I haven't heard anything about it for a while.
I wonder if they changed their mind...

All new Mazda3 Hatchback




And looking good.

Not as original as the first one, but they didn't ruin it.
This car with the new larger 2.5 Liter engine should be an amazing choice among compacts in the US.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Porsche Panamera video

2009 Nissan Z price


The all new Z will start at $29 930 for the base 370Z.

It goes on sale in January. Followed a few months later by the 2010 Z Roadster convertible.

2010 Nissan Cube video


And now for the US version...

More pictures of the 2010 Nissan Cube







But beware. All these are photo of the japanese version.

We get bucket seats and a console instead of the bench. A more boring wheel design.
And no sunroof for us either...

Volvo S60 Concept




Sure. A "concept".
But just like they did with the XC60, this is pretty much what the new production version of the S60 will look like.

I hear the car is larger than the current model. To distance itself from the S40.
But wouldn't that make it closer to the S80?

We'll see....

All new VW GTI


Well.. As new as the "new" Golf.
Which is a heavily revised version of the previous one.

I think the new front end looks great and as aggressive as can be.
The new Golf has been getting great reviews in the European press. And I just saw it in person a few days ago and can say it does look more upscale than the current one. Except for the rear lights, that are too big and don't match the rest of the design at all.

Both the Rabbit and GTI will go on sale in the US next fall. I guess that's also when we'll see the revised Jetta as well.

Peugeot 3008



Unlike the Mitsubishi Outlander based 4007, this will be a real Peugeot.
Actually, more like a crossover type high wagon than an SUV. But that might just be what the market wants right now.

Interior is also light years ahead of the Outlander.

We'll never see it here.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saab 9.3 X



These pictures are not all new, but I just finished driving a Saab 9.3 AWD wagon for a week and liked it very much.
I think this new addition to the line is great.

Next is an all new Opel Insignia based 9.5.
The new 9.1 and a slightly smaller all new 9.3 based on the next Opel Astra.

Kia Amanti replacement


Still very covered. But it's looking pretty good so far.
The current Amanti is one of the worse looking car on the market. It was when it came out,and the years don't help.

I guess this is based on the Hyundai Azera. So I'm not sure how they will appeal to a different audience.
The current Amanti appeals to those who want to drive something really ugly.

But it looks like they will loose that market with the new one...

2010 Toyota Prius Commercial/Teaser


Not sure why the picture is all cramped. It needs to be stretched back.
But it gives us a really good idea of the upcoming all new Prius.

I'm sure this will be another huge hit for Toyota.
A "trunk" Lexus version comes out next year.

New Ford Fiesta


Experienced in person by Mr.Burlapp himself....

All I can tell you is that it looks great in person. Even better than the pictures.
It's kind of funny that this one was parked right in front of the previous model.

It is a very modern and fun looking car, and I really hope it is a hit in the US when it comes over here.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Porsche Panamera




Well, I think it looks really good.
It does look like a Porsche, and it looks fast and expensive.
What more can you want...

Engines will be:
-3.6 Liter V6 with 300hp.
-4.8 liter V8 with 400hp.
-4.8 Liter V8 Twin Turbo with 500hp.
-V6 Hybrid with 350hp.