Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2013 Smart ForTwo


After 5 years and shrinking sale numbers, you would think it's time for an all new model.
Well, it is. But an all new Smart isn't ready yet.
So for the next coupe of years, we'll be getting this.New lights and bumpers, basically.
Which is really not enough. Especially now that the more modern iQ is sold in the US through Scion.

Good luck...

Monday, January 30, 2012

2013 Viper


Not much to see yet.
Just the 1st teaser shot of what could be many more.
Until we see the real thing in a couple of months.

2014 Mini Cooper?


Could be...

The "regular" Mini will be redesigned next year for the 2014 Model year.
Not sure yet if the Clubman will return with the new design, but if it does, it should be out a year later.

There are rumors of a 4 door version also. Not like the "wannabe SUV" Countryman, but a 4 door version of the regular 2 door Mini.

We'll see if that one ever comes true...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chevrolet Corvette test drive coming up


That's right.
I have a corvette hardtop for a week and will be reporting on it soon.
So feel free to ask me anything about it...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe



The next Santa Fe seems to be one of the very last Hyundai model to be redesigned.
No big surprises here, as it adopts the latest design cues already seen. In an SUV package.

Still, this should end up being quite a contender when it comes out.

Unlike the Sonata, the new Santa Fe is still expected to offer a V6 as an option.

Monday, January 23, 2012

VW Up 4 door



This will probably turn out to be the most popular version of VW's new basic little car.
Engine choices are similar to the 2 door.

It will start at about $700 more than the 2 door version.

And, again, it is not for us....

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Nissan Titan Test Drive


-HOW IT LOOKS.
Even though it came out in 2004, I think the Titan pick-up still looks pretty good.
They did try to make it look more modern that the competition.
Most other trucks have been redesigned since, but the Titan still seems pretty modern.



-HOW IT IS INSIDE.
My test truck didn't have running boards, which made it pretty difficult to get in for most people.
Once inside, the interior is, like the exterior, still pretty modern.
Although maybe a bit too simple looking for most truck buyers. There is no chrome trim, or fake wood anywhere.

While the Armada got a new dash a while ago, the Titan didn't. But it still looks good.
Everything feels very solid and well put together.
Most plastics are pretty hard to the touch, but it seems just fine in a truck.

The front seats are firm and comfortable.
In my test unit, there are covered in a very durable looking cloth.

The stereo sounded just fine, but not amazing. And there is no USB plug.



I must say, I am used to drive cars mostly, not full size trucks.
One of the drawbacks is the horrendous visibility out back. You just can never tell how close you are to the car behind you.
The Rear Sonar system is a big help, and a must have.

Another pain in daily city driving are the over sized mirrors.
They stick out so much that I actually almost hit someone with them.

You do get used to the size of the truck itself, but constantly have to watch out for the mirrors.
Which can be quite a chore. Especially if you are not towing anything and don't need them in the 1st place.

A smaller annoyance is the placement of the front armrest. Right in the way of the seatbelt latch.
Not that bad, but it just makes you wonder why nobody really noticed this before it went into production.
And why no one fixed it in almost 7 years...

-HOW IT DRIVES.

.Ride and steering

It does ride like an old fashion truck.
It constantly moves around. Except when the road is glassy smooth. (which isn't often around here)
So I guess most people would call it "trucky" and put up with it if they do need a truck.
But if you are coming from driving cars, this feels pretty medieval.

The closest thing to this I drove lately was the Tahoe, where the ride felt much more civilized.

The steering was pretty nice, with decent feel. And not too light.
This was a nice surprise.

.Engine.
The big 5.6 Liter V8 might be putting out 317hp, it still feels pretty slow.
And gets really noisy.

It is rated at 12/17 MPG.
I did get about 12 in the city, but got about 21 on the HWY.

The transmission is pretty smooth, but very reluctant to downshift. Which is a part of why the whole thing feels so slow.

_SO???

I have to say, I am really not someone who would even consider buying a full sized pick-up truck for my daily driving.
This thing is so bi that it becomes a chore to park it anywhere if you live in the city.

Plus the constant rough ride really doesn't inspire confidence in most driving situations.
And my test unit was priced at $40 025. Not cheap. Especially for something without a sunroof, leather or navigation.

But, if you are in a market for such a truck, this one feels very solid and well built. And still looks pretty modern.
My "Red Alert" 4X4 Pro-4X got plenty of looks. (Mostly in Burbank, not "cool" Los Feliz...)

It is actually not that popular in general. Only about 22000 were sold last year. Which is a fraction of that Ford and GM sell.
It seems that most truck buyers do want to buy domestic. Which puts Nissan (and Toyota) in a tough spot.

The Titan will be all new next year. So will the GM trucks.
There is nothing like good competition to improve a product.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: Lifetime warranty on batteries


Hyundai has just decided to offer a lifetime warranty on the batteries for the Sonata Hybrid.
Of course it's a good thing.
Especially for the used car market.
But...

It is rated at 35MPG city and 40MPG Hwy.
Not really great numbers when compared to the competition:
-Camry Hybrid: 43/39
-2013 FusionHybrid: 47/45 (expected)
-2013 Jetta Hybrid: 45 Combined (expected)
And there is an all new Altima Hybrid around the corner...

As for price, the Hyundai starts at $25 850.
While the new Camry Hybrid is $ 26 600.
Not much of a difference.

The battery warranty isn't the problem.
It seems that the Sonata Hybrid is already outdated compared to the competition.
Remember, this isn't the regular mid sized sedan market.
This is the Hybrid market, where one thing counts more than any other: MPG.
That's why people buy them.

2013/14 Renault 5?


Renault seems to be getting an all new version of the old Renault 5 , or LeCar as it was known here, ready soon.
They might even show a concept version this fall.
The new model would be based on the next generation Clio, due out next year.

It would obviously compete with other retro futuristic designs like the Mini, 500 and Beetle.
Why not? It seems to be working great for the other guys.

Another car we will never see as Renault has announced a few days ago they are not planning a return to the US.

2013 VW Up! 5 door



No surprises here as VW has already shown a concept of this last year.
Looking maybe better than the 3 door version currently on sale in Europe.

Not sure we'll be getting this, ever. I do think a $12 000 VW in the US would be a good idea.
And this looks to be a perfect car to get an all electric version.

This is last year's concept.
As you can see, the production version pictured in the black and white pictures will be very close.

2013 Volvo S80


A few years old and still a very nice looking car.
The big S80 will see a few changes for the new year.
Mainly a new front.
Which, on this picture at least, doesn't seem to include new headlights.

But still looking good. With a new grill that could be the new face for other models as well.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

2013/14 Infiniti G Coupe


We all know the G is the next Infiniti due for a redesign.
And it should be taking some cues from recent concepts.

Which might or might not be a good thing...

We'll see next year if the real car is going to look like this or not.
It wouldn't be too bad if it did...

Nissan Titan Test Drive coming up.


I know.
This is not something I would usually be driving.
But why not. I have this for a week and will report on it soon, and answer any questions you might have.

So far, it's everything you'd expect.
Big, trucky and thirsty.

Friday, January 13, 2012

More pictures of the new 2013 Kia Ceed




Looking really good.

This is pretty much a hatchback version of our next Kia Forte. So it might end up over here as well.
Closely related to the popular Elantra.

Stay tuned for pics of the interior next...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

2013 MG 5




Still nothing official, but it looks like MG's competition to the Golf/Focus crowd is pretty much ready.

Sure, to most people in the US, these "new" MG cars are a far cry from the cool stuff the brand used to sell here in the 60's and 70's.
Another story in Europe. Where later in the 80's and 90's they were selling cars like the Metro, Maestro and Montego.
Rather boring small cars that really had nothing to do with the cool MGBs of the past.

These "new" models are actually more interesting.

2013 Porsche Boxster






What a great looking car.
We could already tell from the spy shots.

The 2 models return, Boxster and Boxster S.

2.7 Liter 6 with 264hp and 3.4 Liter with 315hp.
6 speed manual on both.
$49 500 and $60 900.

I guess the rumors of a base 4 cylinder Turbo were wrong. At least for the 1st year maybe?

I cannot wait to see these in the streets next summer.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Long wheelbase BMW 3 series




Longer wheelbase cars are very popular in China.
BMW does offer a longer version of the 5 series, and will soon sell a longer 3 series to compete with the extended Audi A4 sold over there.
Interesting...

2013 Audi A3



This is the 3 door model. Which we will not be getting.
The US will see the return of the familiar 5 door hatchback as well as an all new 4 door sedan.

Looks like a nice update outside. But especially inside.
The interior is a big step up from the current version.

2013 Kia Ceed


The Ceed is a Euro only Kia.
Our next Forte model is supposed to share its platform.

The redesigned Ceed will be presented at the Geneva auto show in March.
Not much else in known so far. But it does look like another good design from Kia.

And maybe they'll decide to bring it over as a hatch version of our next Forte. Who knows.
Would be good competition to the Focus and Cruze hatchback by then.

2013 Buick Encore





This actually seems very nice.
Not sure if looks or seems like a Buick though.
It could just be a bit too small.

Powered by GM's 1.4 Liter Turbo. (Which seems to be found in everything these days...)

We won't be seeing this for a while as it is expected to reach dealers in "the 1st quarter of 2013".

Honda Accord Coupe Concept



Just like last time, they are actually showing us the production version of the car early.
Adding a few chrome bits here and there and calling it a concept.

Looks like they were afraid to redesign it. And mostly added some character lines.
Let's hope they changed the sedan a bit more. (Make that a lot more...)
They claim the sedan will be smaller than the outgoing model.

For 2013 the new base engine will be a 2.4 Liter with direct injection and 181hp.
A 6 speed manual will still be offered, while the automatic will now be a CVT.

A V6 will still be an option. Which will soon be an oddity for a mis sized sedan. (The Camry seems to be the only other one offering a V6 option)

And a Hybrid version will return. Now a plug-in type matted with a 2.0 Liter engine and capable of 10 to 15 miles of electric driving alone.
Not bad at all, if they can keep the price down.

2013 Toyoa Prius C




Looking pretty much the same as the Japanese version we saw late last year.

Still with what seems like plenty of hard plastic inside, and a rather bare bone looking interior.

But, Toyota announced 2 important numbers:
-53MPG City.
-Under $19 000 to start.

Which will make the "C" a huge hit for them.
Great MGP is why people buy hybrids. Which is what Honda did not understand with the CR-Z and Insight.
As Toyota puts it, "the highest dated city fuel economy of any vehicle without a plug".

On sale in March.