Friday, December 31, 2010

Cadillac CTS Sedan test drive



-LOOKS.
I always liked the design of the new CTS . Sure, it isn't as original as the previous generation.
Kind of like a chromed out grown up version of that first design.
But it's not cheap, and I think the 2nd generation looks more the part of a luxury car.

It has a great presence on the road, and looks good from about every angle.
Although I do think the front end is a bit busy. And seem to age more than the rest of the car...



-INSIDE.
The interior is pretty impressive in many ways. The stitches on the dash look great.
Everything feels very solid and well put together.
The back seat is roomy and comfortable.

My car came with the Recaro seat option.
A very expensive option at $2 800. They do feel great, but I could never adjust the lumbar support properly.
It always felt like there was a bar across my lower back.
I can't really imagine the standard seats being bad enough to order $2800 worth of "better seats".

To my taste, the center console is a little too bright and busy. With too many textures and colors.
Switches should all be black not dark grey.
And it might just be time to retire the "all covered in plastic silver trim console" look.
Cadillac isn't the only one doing it. And they do a better job at it than most.

Still... How about some of the black finish from the CTS V.



And there is a bit too much plastic chrome surrounding everything. Again, a bit too bright and flashy.
Not as classy as the new BMW 5 series interior for example.

But I realize these are details, and a matter of taste.



_THE DRIVE.

.Ride.

The ride is about as good as it gets. For me anyway. It is sporty firm, yet always smooth.
Even with the 19" Summer Tire Performance Package fitted to my car.

The car feels heavy and very, very solid. Much more so than the Infiniti G37 for instance.
And also much more stable on the freeway.


.Steering.

The steering is sportier than the old Cadillac image would let you think.
And it has a great feeling at any speed.

.Engine.
The 3.6 Liter was always smooth, yet sounded sportier than in other cars it is used. Like in the Malibu.

There is always plenty of power, but its not neck snapping. Again, quite a heavy car.

It is rated at 18 City/27 HWY.
Best I got in the city, driving pretty slow, was 16. And about 26 HWY.
Not very good numbers.

I guess that's what we get for 300hp in a heavy sedan.





-SO???

The CTS sedan is a wonderful car to drive.
But its interior, although nice, lacks the high end feel of some of the competition.
It is more upscale than the G35, but not as good as a 5 series.

I do mention the 5 series because my test car came up to over $52 000. Including very expensive options, like the $2800 seats, the $2100 tire package and the $3300 Performance Luxury package.
Yet no sunroof...

The new 5 series starts at about $45 000.

I think the CTS does better when compared to less expensive cars, like the G37.
And you can get a very well equipped CTS sedan for much closer to $40 000.

But it is also threatened by the really good and roomier Buick Lacrosse.




The Cadillac CTS deserves a serious look for anyone considering a sport sedan. It IS a sporty rewarding drive.

US Ford Focus ST



Looks like the US version will be getting different tail lights.
Still, for once, it is really hard to tell the difference between a European Ford and a US one.

And the US lights do seem a bit more interesting.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2012 Fiat 500 5 door


Fiat did mention that a 5 door version of the small 500 was in the works.
It would most certainly become the most popular 500 in the US.

This illustration looks pretty realistic, showing us what 2 more doors would look like.
It still looks nice and cute.

Chinese BAIC BC 301Z: no shame.




This new car from BAIC is such a blatant copy of the current Mercedes B Class.
It is almost ridiculous. It's like a car from a sister planet where everything is "almost" the same. But not quite.

If China really wants to be considered a player in the car market, they need to stop insulting other car makers by copying their designs.



Here is the real thing.
Again, not 100% the same.

But really....

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2012 BMW 3 series?


Let's just hope this is another lame illustration of the next 3 series.
That BMW will not get that lazy for their next model.

The 5 series is a great looking car in person, but the new 3 should be more than a shrunk 5. At least a little more.

We'll get to see the real thing pretty soon .

Monday, December 27, 2010

2012 Audi A3


just an illustration, but it does look pretty nice.

Lately, Audi seems to be designing better looking hatchbacks than sedans. Like the A7 and A5 Hatch.
So the A3 should turn out really nice.
And their interiors have gone from boring to really interesting lately.

I can't wait to see the real thing...

Cadillac CTS Test drive. Coming soon....

Cadillac CTS Sedan test drive from Vince Burlapp on Vimeo.


Few have guessed it.
But I have been driving the CTS sedan for a week.
And will be reporting on it very soon...

All new Fiat Freemont?



Weird rumor from Europe about Fiat getting a version of the revised 2011 Dodge Journey.

This is a bit strange for a few reasons.
The Journey doesn't look like anything Fiat would design in the 1st place.
Plus, it is really big by European standards. Longer than a BMW X5 or even a Range Rover Sport.

And the name. Freemont?

The whole thing sounds just out of place.
There seem to be a stronger connection between Chrysler and Lancia, than between Dodge and Fiat.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

2011 VW Jetta 2.5 SEL Test Drive




-LOOK.
I already drove the base model of the new Jetta a little while ago, so my thoughts are the same about the SEL.
I think it looks very good in person.
Sure, there is nothing new. But there is an upscale feel to it. Especially with the SEL larger wheels and brushed aluminum trim at the base of the side windows.
It looks a million times better than the Corolla. But really not as modern as the new Hyundai Elantra, or 2012 Focus sedan.

So I guess, it is for a different crowd.
German cars are anyway.



-Inside.

Same story inside. A conservative, kind of upscale look is what you get.
It is actually very nice, and again, won't appeal to the ones who seek a super modern/futuristic interior.
But it does have a simple and elegant feel to it.

Again, the new plastics are still hard on the dash and top of the doors. But really, pretty much everything else is now.
Including offering from Toyota and Honda. So although it's not as good as the previous Jetta or current Golf, it's not worse than most of the competition. Except the Mazda3. Which now has the best quality interior in the class.

The back seat is still super roomy. More than many mid sized cars.
Some quick notes about the interior:

.My loaded SEL came with navigation, but somehow, no rear camera.
.The stereo was fine but not great.
.The vinyl seats do look as good as many leather seats I've seen. So why not.
.The armrest does not adjust.
.Bluetooth was hard to figure out without the manual
.The menu on the touch screen is not intuitive
.GPS lacked a few features, and got frustrating at times. And you cannot scroll the map with your fingers. I guess the touchscreen doesn't work on Navigation mode. Or something...



-THE DRIVE.

-Ride.
The new Jetta has an excellent ride. No matter what model.
It does drive like a much more expensive car. It feels very solid and smooth, yet never too soft.

-Steering.

Just like in the Golf, the steering is surprisingly light at first. But you do get used to it.
It is accurate but still felt a bit numb at the center.
They should give it a bit more feel.

-Engine.

I knew the 2.5 was going to be better than the rather lame old 2.0 Liter engine.
But I was still surprised by how super quiet and smooth it is.
Much more so than in the previous Jetta. And it also sounded different than in the New Beetle. Again, much quieter and smoother.
Not sure what they did to it, but whatever it is it works great.
There is always enough power, and it sounds great when you push it too.I was surprised to only get a 5 speed manual, not 6.
But the manual is a joy to use. Smooth, and a perfect match for the engine.
And it is actually refreshing to see a manual offered on the top of the line model. It is only available on the base 2012 Focus for example.
Most manufacturers are making automatic standard equipment on everything but the base versions.I think it's is nice to still have a choice.

The car is rated at 23 City and 33 Hwy.
I got 25 in the city (without even trying hard) and about 35 on the HWY. So I didn't really miss a 6th gear.



-SO???

At $23000, the VW Jetta SEL is a really good choice. It is now priced like its competition.
Has a more upscale look than most, a roomier back seat than all.

For the price, it is a really compelling choice in a crowded segment of the market.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Karl Lagerfeld sells VWs


The famous designer is somehow the new spokesman for VW in Europe. Or at least in Germany.

In this one, he seems to play a complete idiot who thinks he's in Paris instead of a studio in Germany.
Because these cars look so damn good. he thought he was in a Paris fashion show...

Weird...

New Ford Territory.


The "new" Ford Territory doesn't seem that new when compared to the current model.
The main change is up front, with some new tail lights in the rear.
Maybe a new interior.
The current model came out in 2004, and is based on the RWD Falcon, so it is not related to anything we have in the US. Even though it does look like a cross between the previous Explorer and Taurus X wagon.

2004. That's a while, for just a new front end...

Here is what the current model looks like.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

New Nissan Sunny/Versa





More pictures of the small Nissan Sedan.
This will, most likely, become the next Versa for the US market.

And it does fit what a Versa is known to be. It's all here:
-Awkward proportions
-Tiny wheels
-Too tall
-Too narrow
-Looks like a 10 year old design
-Roomy and cheap.

2012 VW Cabriolet


Still just another illustration. But VW has announced a while ago there will be a convertible version of the current Golf coming soon.
Not sure if it will be much cheaper than the 2012 Beetle Convertible (It should be, otherwise, what's the point)

And not even sure if it's coming to the US or not.

It seems that in its attempt to take over the world, VW is trying to fill every single market possible.

Except, we still won't get the Scirocco....

2012 Hyundai Accent/Verna Hatchback



These are official pictures of the new small hatchback from Hyundai.

Not bad looking, considering the price.

Engines offered in China will include a 1.6 Liter with 124hp. Similar to what we should see here next year.

On a related note, Hyundai is planning to build up to 1 million cars a year in China alone by 2012.
Pretty amazing number....

Kia KV7 Concept


Besides the crazy doors and the concept bits all over, especially inside.
This is supposed to give us hints of a future Kia Crossover.

Not bad at all. This, or something close, would make a great "Next Sorento".

Fiat 500 in New York


Looking good in the US.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What am I driving this week?

Nissan 370 Z test drive




-LOOKS.

Although I still think the previous generation was a better and more original design, the current Z is quite a good looking car.
With a really strong presence on the road.
It does look the part of the sports car that it is.

My test car had the Sports package which include a set of gorgeous 19 Inch "Ray Forged Wheels".




_INSIDE.

The interior is an improvement in quality and looks over the previous generation.
The car I had for a week did not include navigation. So the space where it would fit was actually a quite convenient storage area.

The seats are very comfortable and supportive. Visibility is OK up front, even with the long hood.
But the sides can be pretty claustrophobic.

The base stereo has "only" 4 speakers, but sounded really good.
I guess it doesn't take that much to fill up a small 2 seater cockpit.

But I did miss the bluetooth, which is standard in much cheaper other Nissan models.



And, as you can see on these 2 pictures, visibility is pretty bad when you turn around to look behind you.
The side windows behind the doors are 100% useless.
I guess you do get used to it, and other sporty cars don't even have these windows (Like the Miata).

-THE DRIVE.

-Steering.

The steering is sports car tough. Which is good. Accurate and very strong, but can bee twitchy at times.
It's a car you need to drive and be aware of when you do.
Which is good.

-Engine.

The familiar Nissan V6 feels powerful. But with 302hp I was expecting more from a stop.
The Hyundai Genesis Coupe I drove a few months ago felt quicker.

The Z is rated at 18 City and 26 HWY. I got 17City and 29HWY.
Which is actually pretty decent for such a powerful car. And similar to what I got with the Genesis.

-Ride.
The ride is... Very firm. As it should be for this car. Especially with the 19 inch wheels.
But the structure is very solid and it never felt too harsh for me.
Again, similar to the Genesis Coupe.





-SO???
The 370 Z is a great sports car.

But its main problem right now is the Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8L V6.

The Z I test drove was $34 605. Which includes the $3000 sports package.
A similar Genesis Coupe V6 track is about $31 000.
But, the Hyundai includes everything. That means a high end stereo (with bluetooth), sunroof, leather seats and navigation.
Plus, the Hyundai has 2 more seats.

Personally, I think the Genesis coupe looks at least as good as the Z.
It is as fun to drive, a little bit more comfortable, has a better warranty.
And costs about $10 000 less than a loaded Z with sports package and navigation.

The Nissan 370 Z is a great car.
But I would go with the Genesis coupe myself.

And save a lot of money ...