Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Early Saturn commercials: The good old days...




That last commercial is ironic to watch now...
"We're still here".

Not really...

R.I.P: Saturn


Penske Automotive Group was supposed to take over the Saturn brand this week.
But apparently, Penske was unable to strike a deal with the foreign company he was working with to provide him cars for the US market.
It was rumored to be Renault/Samsung from Korea.

So instead of looking for someone else, he walked away.
And GM decided to just kill the brand. The Aura and Outlook were supposed to be still available for a couple of years under Penske's ownership.

This is just too bad...Saturn does have really good cars right now...

2012 Hyundai Accent


It seems that the smooth coupe like look of the new Sonata will make it into pretty much all new Hyundai sedans.
After seeing pictures of the new Elantra, it is clear they are adopting a similar roofline for all these upcoming sedans.

At least it'll make them look a bit different than the competition.
Rumored engine for the next Accent is a direct injection 1.6 Liter with 140hp.

More Honda CRZ news


-1.5 Liter (Instead of 1.3 Liter used in the Insight)
-6 speed manual

More at MyCRZ.com

Honda CR-Z




The modern version of the CRX is her.. Almost.
They still call this one a concept. But just like the Concept Insight they were showing a few months before the real thing, this is about 99% production.
A nice looking car. I especially like the interior.
Let's hope they can keep the price down on this one.

As you can see, the concept from a while back still looks better. Especially in the back where the production version got a bit heavy for some reason...

Subaru Hybrid Tourer Concept




This might just be the best looking Subaru of all time.

I really like Subaru, but their latest designs are pretty horrible. Especially the 2010 Outback.
They need something like this, or even something that looks 10% as good as this.
And finally, a front end that is pretty original and works on the rest of the design.
Something they haven't done in years.

So there is a bit of hope...

2010 Nissan Altima






I think the Altima is a pretty good looking car, and didn't really need these "adjustments" to its design.
In my recent test drive of the coupe, I noticed a couple of cheap interior bits around the console, and from what I saw on other pics, they are still there.
The only change to the interior seems to be the new stereo unit.
I also hope they offer some kind of new light color interior. The old being/brown combo most japanese manufacturers still use just doesn't cut it anymore.

The weirdest thing seems to be the pricing .
On the Coupe, you can get a 6 speed manual with the 2.5 Liter engine for $22 500.
But the V6 with a stick now starts at $29 600!!! That's about $2500 than the 2009 model I drove!
And about $2300 more than the CVT model for 2010.
Looks like Nissan really does NOT want people to get the 6 speed manual. Why even offer it then???

It's a shame really, that transmission is one of the best I've driven lately.

Here is the official PR BS, as well as all the prices:



-Altima Sedan 2.5 S 2.5L CVT $19,900 USD
-Altima Sedan 2.5 S 2.5L CVT $21,840 USD
-Altima Sedan 3.5 SR 3.5L V6 CVT $24,520 USD


-Altima Coupe 2.5 S 2.5L 6MT $22,440 USD
-Altima Coupe 2.5 S 2.5L CVT $22,940 USD
-Altima Coupe 3.5 SR 3.5L V6 CVT $27,270 USD
-Altima Coupe 3.5 SR 3.5 V6 6MT $29,600 USD

2010 Altima Hybrid $26 780

..........

"Among the many changes for all 2010 Altimas are a restyled hood, grille and front bumper, new wheel designs, standard Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) on all models, revised interior fabric and finishers, new exterior colors and revised option package content. In addition, the previous Altima 3.5 SE designation has been renamed the 3.5 SR.

Along with the exhilaration provided by the driver-oriented cockpit and high levels of Altima performance, the "entertainment factor" of Altima's interior has been upgraded with new available premium audio packages that include a Bose® AM/FM audio system with nine speakers, 4.3-inch color display, USB port with iPod® connectivity, Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System, MP3/WMA CD-ROM playback, XM® Satellite Radio (XM® subscription required, sold separately) and RearView Monitor."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Citroen 90 ans!


A really cool video to Celebrate 90 years of Citroen.
You can even see Mr. Citroen himself 59 seconds into the video.

Mitsubishi CX?


Mistubishi is hard at work on a production version of the cool looking small Comcept c-X.
Although this will be mostly for the European market, I think it would work over here too.
They've got nothing to loose, really. Who is buying Mitsubishis in the US anyway? Almost nobody.
They need to get a personality, and that personality should be performance.
I really enjoyed my week with the Lancer Ralliart (Do a search in the site). They should use that engine in everything they make.
This kind of brutal power delivery isn't for everyone, but it is a lot of fun to drive.
They can't be Toyota or Honda.


Let's hope they don't water down the design too much.
Something different, aggressive and sporty sis what they need.
And not just in Europe.

New Nissan Sunny Neo


The old versions of the Sunny used to be sold here under the name B210,and later, the Sentra.
Our current Sentra is now a different design.

So this new one won't be sold in the US.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Nissan Mid-engine sports car?



Back in the mid 80's Toyota made news by offering a mid engine sports car, that people could actually afford.
And the MR2 became a hit.
So much so, than Nissan thought about coming up with one of their own.
This is one of the designs they were thinking about.

Over the years, there has been many rumors about a new small Nissan RWD sports car. maybe to compete with the Miata. More recently, there were thoughts of a new small RWD coupe.
Nothing ever happened.

I just wonder if it ever will...

2011 Hyundai Sonata. No more V6.


Apparently, Hyundai is considering skipping the V6 for the new Sonata in the US.
They already won't offer it in its home market.

With the V6 only getting 15% of the sales in the US, it does make sense for Hyundai not to offer one.
Apparently, the revised 2.4 Liter will get close to 200hp. Which is more than enough for a family car.
Korea gets a smaller 2.0 Liter with 165hp as standard equipment.

If they need more power, I'm sure they could ad a turbo to the 2.4 Liter.

I'm actually glad to see a major manufacturer take a chance by not following the stupid "more horsepower/larger engine" trend.
It's about time.
This is almost 2010, and we should be able to get more than enough power in a mid size family car without using larger, and larger V6 engines.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

2011 VW Sharan


The Sharan is VW's Europe only minivan. Smaller than out Chrysler based Routan.
It is finally due for a redesign next year. The current model is over 12 years old...

I think VW might be more successful by selling the Sharan in the US instead of the larger Chrysler clone.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

2011 Ford Focus?


Just another illustration.
But it'll probably look close to that. A big Fiesta...

2011 Land Rover LRX



The Top picture is new from Land Rover.
The production version looks almost exactly like the concept from a couple of years ago (Bottom pic).
It's quite amazing. It hasn't been watered down.

It's good to see some people can do it.

Here is the official word from Land Rover about it:

"Land Rover has confirmed today a production version of its exciting LRX concept car will be built. The new car will debut next year and join the Range Rover line-up in 2011.

Designed and engineered at Land Rover's state of the art Gaydon facility, the new Range Rover will be the smallest, lightest and most efficient vehicle the company has ever produced.

The new car will be built at the multi award-winning plant in Halewood, on Merseyside, subject to quality and productivity agreements and will be sold in over 100 countries around the world.

Phil Popham, managing director of Land Rover said: "The production of a small Range Rover model is excellent news for our employees, dealers and customers. It is a demonstration of our commitment to investing for the future, to continue to deliver relevant vehicles for our customers, with the outstanding breadth of capability for which we are world-renowned."

"Feedback from our customer research also fully supports our belief that a production version of the LRX Concept would further raise the desirability of our brand and absolutely meet their expectations." Phil added.

Gerry McGovern, Land Rover design director said "The new vehicle will be a natural extension to the Range Rover line-up, complementing the existing models and helping to define a new segment. It will be true to the concept and have many recognisable Range Rover design cues including the signature clamshell bonnet, the floating roof and the solid 'wheel-at-each-corner' stance."

Honda U3-X



This all new Honda concept has only one wheel.
And is intended to compete mostly with the Segway.

This is the result of Honda's many years of research in robots.
Yes, one day, there will be as many robots around as cars. And Honda will be making a lot of money.....

Here is how it works:

2010 Saab 9-5 Video


Looks like a very nice car. Much better on video than on pictures.
Especially the interior.

I can't wait to see the wagon version.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Chrysler above Cadillac???





That's what the new CEO is now claiming. Now they want their brand to be above Cadillac.
Good luck with that. That means they'll have to start new.

Right now, they pretty much have nothing. And nothing from Fiat , Alfa or Lancia can be turned into something that would make a "Better than Cadillac" Chrysler.

But if they want to move fast, here is an idea: Why don't they just start producing some of the great looking concepts they've showed us in the past 20 years.
The ones that made such a statement. At least they will look different than anything else out there.

The Chronos sedan alone could put them back on the map....

2010 Nissan Altima


The usual (and not necessary) mid-cycle refresh.
A new bumper, with a new grille. And slightly revised headlights.
Shuffle the options a bit, colors too. Add a few things like bluetooth and here you go.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Buick small car concepts





GM just released these pictures of some some car ideas for Buick. Including a 2+2 Coupe.

I guess it shows they really want to push the brand. And cover almost every market with it, including a compact car.
But so far, the only compact we'll be getting from Buick will be a rebadged Opel Astra with a Buick grille.
Like they're getting in China next year.
So these illustrations are pretty much just designers dreams....

2012 Ford Focus Coupe???


That would be nice, wouldn't it.
And why not.

A coupe is supposed to be launched after the hatchback, so that about 2 years away.
It will compete with the upcoming Astra Coupe.

Here, this will give serious competition to the Civic coupe. Which would be all new by then as well.

Monday, September 21, 2009

2010 Fiat Grande Punto and the Chrysler dilemma...



The Grande Punto has just been revised in Europe. Mostly a new front and and nicer interior.
This would make a nice offering in the US. But how much would it be?
It could just be priced too high, like the Astra was for Saturn.

And this is what Fiat is facing now that they are running Chrysler.
Apparently, they just found out (!) what everybody else knew. There isn't much in the pipeline . Chrysler and Dodge have almost no new models coming up. Except a new 300/Charger.
How are they going to keep these brand alive with nothing new?
The easiest thing would be to just rebadge some Fiats, but even that would take over a full year.

And this week, they just announced they want to turn Chrysler into a Cadillac competitor. Really?!?!
That's been what Chrysler has been trying to do for decades. And they always failed.

I just don't know how Fiat will ever revive Chrysler and Dodge.
I personally don't know anyone who would actually buy one (Except the Challenger).

What do you think?

2012/13 VW Golf




There is still time.
The "new one" isn't even out in the US yet, an they are already testing mules for the next generation in Europe.
The lower picture comes from VW's design dept, and the car could be the next Golf. Hard to say, they all look so similar...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

2010 Nissan Altima Coupe


Looks like the grille might be similar to the new sedan design.
Not sure why they would want to make the coupe more conservative than it is now...

Doesn't look like a worthwhile update. At least from this far away blurry shot.
We'll see the whole thing real soon, stay tuned.

Nissan Altima Coupe test drive





-HOW IT LOOKS.

I have to say, I usually like coupe better than sedans. It has nothing to do about how they drive, but a two door car usually looks better to me...

Plus, they don't make as many. The Altima sedan is a very popular car, and they are everywhere. Not so the coupe.

The car I had for a week had the larger 18 inch wheels. And I think it helps a lot. It just doesn't look as good with the smaller 17 inch.
Maybe the 2010 model will bring new and more attractive wheel designs. It needs it.

Otherwise, I like the design. It's not the best looking coupe out there, but it does look good.





-HOW IT IS INSIDE.

The interior is very similar to the sedan. The dashboard is exactly the same. Which is fine. It is attractive and uses nice soft plastics.
The console isn't so lucky. It is made of hard and cheap looking plastics with visible edges .
Not great.

My car had a black interior with leather. The other choice is the beige/brown dash combo. Something out of the 90's that most Japanese car makers still offer.
This car would look so much better with a cream/black interior. Like some German models...

The seats are great, the driving position is fine, and the Bose stereo sounded really good. It included an iPod plug. Which I hear will be replaced by a USB connection and streaming stereo Bluetooth for the 2010 model.

Like in most coupes, the back seats are OK. But not great.
If you really need more room back there, get the sedan.






-HOW IT DRIVES.

-Ride.
The ride is firm, but always comfortable.

I do have a problem with all the Nissan models based on the D platform, like the Murano.
These cars feel OK, but never super solid for some reason. Unlike the bank vault like feeling you get driving Infiniti models based on another platform.
The Nissan platform just feels a bit light. I guess most people wouldn't notice it, but I do every time.
Small bumps seem to have trouble being absorbed. You feel most small ripples on the road at low speed.
Sure, it could be called "sporty". But to me, it just feels a bit unrefined.
Plus it created a couple of small rattles inside the cabin.

One thing I need to mention is the horrible visibility problem from the driver's seat when looking to your left.
Trying to see if someone is in the next lane.
The interior padding of the pillar behind the door is very thick. So you just "can't see shit" when you turn your head.
You would think someone would have noticed that...

-Steering.
The steering is light, yet precise. But it is too light.
Especially for a car that is supposed to be a bit sportier than the sedan.
I wouldn't mind a bit more effort dialed into it.

Especially considering I was driving the sportiest combo available, with the 3.5 Liter V6 and 6 speed manual.

-Engine.
Once again, the Nissan V6 is a pleasure to drive. This is one of the best engines out there.
It also makes for quite a luxurious feel on the highway. The car is very quiet.

My best mileage was 32MPG on the freeway. While my weekly average turned out to be 21.5 MPG with mostly city driving.
I thought it was really good for a car with plenty of power from a "big" 3.5 Liter V6.

-Transmission.
The 6 speed manual is one of the smoothest I have ever used.
It is very easy to get into any gear, and the clutch is pretty light and forgiving.

A pleasure to drive, every time.


-SO???

I really enjoyed my week with the Altima coupe.
The engine and smooth 6 speed make this car a joy to just pick up and go.
This version starts at $27 000 (Carsdirect has them for about $24 000)
My car's premium package adds about $3000.

Sure, there are a few things like a few cheap interior bits, a couple of rattles. So it's not perfect.
But it's also a good looking coupe for $24 000 with one of the best engine in the business.
There is always a compromise somewhere.

A smile on your face every time I drive is worth a few of these compromises. At least to me...