Sunday, September 29, 2013

All new engines for the redesigned 2014 Mini Cooper

Which is great news.
I always liked the Mini, but never really liked the engines. At leas the base one.
It never sounded sporty to me, just rough.

There is an all new Mini coming up soon, and they have released details about the engines.
-all new 1.5 Liter 3 cylinder engine with 134hp
-all new 2.0 Liter turbo with 189hp for the Cooper S.

We should see the whole thing really soon.

Friday, September 27, 2013

All new JDM Honda Odyssey




Looks like there is an all new Odyssey for the japanese market.

We all remember the very 1st generation that was sold here . It was a "smaller than minivan" van. With regular car doors.
But eventually Honda decided the US needed something much larger for the second generation.
In Japan, the local Odyssey kept being redesigned, keeping the car doors and the smaller size.

This new one seems to be a bit larger. And it now has regular minivan sliding doors.
And it's not pretty. It has the usual tortured lines of recent Honda designs. And too much chrome.

It just looks quite vulgar...
This is the current generation of the JDM Odyssey. It came out in 2008.
Still with regular doors.

Lexus IS-F Coupe


Another monster coming up from Lexus.
I just saw the new IS sedan driving around a few days ago, and it's not pretty.

This is a complete mess. Although this is just an illustration, I wouldn't put it past Lexus to add all these vents, skirts and wings.
I am sure the base model would look much better.

Last' year's LF-CC Concept wasn't the greatest thing ever, but so much better than the production designs they've been coming up with since...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Porsche 911 Targa

 Porsche has been testing a Targa version of the new 911 for a while now.
And this (kind of weird) illustration shows us what it could look like.

Which is really a blend of retro and futuristic. The Targa style is so familiar to the 911.
It will be really nice to see the new version, as the current 911 is such a gorgeous car.
Here is one of the ancestors...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Qoros3 Sedan gets 5 star in EuroNCAP Crashtest


And by doing so, becomes the 1st Chinese car to get a 5 star rating in the European crash test.

Quite amazing, compared to the 0 or 1 star ratings Chines cars used to get just a few years ago.
The new Compact sedan is schedule for European release in 2014


Here is the actual footage of the test.  Which is quite impressive.


Especially compared to this!
The Chinese Brilliance sedan crash test from 2007.

VW Beetle Convertible TDI tst drive.


I was really interested in spending some time with the Diesel version of the redesigned Beetle convertible.
Since I had only driven the 2.0 Liter version of the car before.

Outside, the only difference with the "regular" non-turbo model seems to be the 17 inch wheel design. And the TDI badge on the trunk.

Otherwise, it is the same great design.


Same thing inside.
Being a Turbo, it has the same stupid additional gauges on top of the dashboard.

I never liked them. I have no idea who would ever have the need for this.
The space is much better used as as a flat storage area, like in the base model.
Or how about an iPhone dock over there. Or anything people might have a use for...

Otherwise, the interior is the same. With high quality plastics, and everything feels really solid.

The Fender stereo on my test car was a great as usual.
The only problem was the cable used to plug in the iPhone. It is not a regular USB cable but some VW proprietary unit. And just like in any other VW model, that cable was always loose and would never keep my iPhone plugged in. (I had to use a rubber band to keep it from disconnecting all the time)
Which is a really weird defect that all recent VWs seem to have...
The drive is a bit softer than the Turbo. Sometime, a bit too much. But this also makes for a smoother ride. Although it get a bit more unsettled on rough pavement.
This is mostly due to the TDI's torsion beam suspension. The independent set up in the Turbo model is more refined. But this is actually OK.

The steering is light and precise.

Now for that Diesel.
I am generally a big fan of VW's TDI. Although it does vary a bit. It is great in the Jetta, but seems rougher and louder in the Passat.
In the Beetle, it is just great. Most people will never know this is a diesel. It doesn't really sound louder, just different.

While I did match the 31 MPG rating in the city. My highway mileage was much better than the official  rating of 41MPG. As I had no problem getting 47!
Which is quite amazing for a car that never feels slow, and is so much fun to drive.

The downside is the DSG, as always. The more I drive cars equipped with it, the more I get used to it. But still.
You have to deal with the weird low speed behavior. Slowing down and getting to a stop feels weird. As does backing up up hill.
It is just never as good as a "regular" 6 speed auto.
they do offer a 6 speed manual, which is great. If you can find one!  (A friend of mine had to wait 4 month for her Manual Beetle...)



I really liked the Diesel version of the Beetle Convertible. So far , this is my favorite version of that car.

Although, in a few months, the Beetle is getting the new 1.8 Liter Turbo as its standard engine.
Which gets much better mileage than the old 2.5 Liter. So it will be closing the gap, while using much cheaper regular gas.

But wait, there's more. Later in the 2014 model year, a new version of the 2.0 Liter Diesel with 150HP will appear. With even better gas mileage. (They are talking of 10 to 15% improvement, which would mean about 53MPG on the HWY?)

Just something to think about if you are in the market for one...




Hyundai iX25


This all new Hyundai model is rumored to be based on the Kia Soul platform.
We've seen some of these prototypes before, and they actually do look a bit like the Soul.

Not sure this will make it to the US or not. It will be smaller than the Tucson, known as the iX35 in Europe.

Monday, September 23, 2013

2015 Cadillac Escalade Teaser

The teaser is the B&W picture at the bottom. the top is the new 2015 Suburban.
You can tell that the next Escalade will, again, just be a Chevy clone.

Even though GM's BS department is telling us that now it'll be more special, different.
No it won't. Just like the current generation, it will have a redesigned front end, rear lights and dashboard. And more chrome. That's about it.

You would think for the money they charge it could be a little more special.
I guess as long as people are buying them, why bother...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Chang-An A301




Another day, another Chinese copy.

This ones reminds me of a lot of cars. Including the Yaris and the Sonic.
I am not even sure the black part of the top is actually a sunroof. I can't see any cut lines, so it could just be black paint?

What does this remind you of?


Saturday, September 21, 2013

2014 Mercedes S Class


I know, the new S Class is already out. So why is it still testing, camouflaged, in Los Angeles?

Unless this is the next C-Class?

What do you think?

(Thanks to Jon for this)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Kia K900 coming to the US




The all new Kia K900 luxury car will be available in the US early next year. It is the same car known as the K9 in Korea.

It is based on the same platform as the Hyundai Equus. But, unlike the Hyundai, it does look quite modern.
Many say it looks too much like a BMW. Which could turn out to be a good thing for Kia, since they claim the car is "a 7 series value for a 5 series price".
We'll have to see about that, as for now, the Equus is really not equal to a 7 series.
But again, many people might not care.

They only plan to sell 5000 units a year in the US.
Which seems realistic since the Equus sold almost 4000 units last year.

It will include a 290 hpV6 and a 420hp V8.
Price is expected to be between $50 000 and $70 000. Which would be under the Equus.
The Hyundai doesn't offer the V6 in the US either.

I actually saw the car briefly last year. And it does look very impressive in person. It actually reminded me more of a Maserati than a BMW in real life.

It won't compete with BMW or Mercedes since most of their buyers won't even consider anything else.
But for people looking at a large Cadillac, or lamenting the demise of the Town Car, it could be a good alternative.

They should be able to move 5000 a year without any problem.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fiat Viaggio Hatchback

Still testing in China.
Where the sister car to our Dodge Dart will be offered as a hatchback.

I hope Chrysler is considering this for the US as well, where the Dart seems to need help.

They need to ditch the DSG type transmission people are complaining about and replace it with a proper automatic.
And offer the hatchback. The decade old excuse "Americans don't buy hatchback" doesn't work anymore. Our street are populated with hathback versions of the Focus, Fiseta, Mazda3, Elantra, Rio, Forte etc... 

More Qoros models coming up.



 Looks like Qoros has big plans for the future. the compact Qoros 3 sedan isn't on sale yet, and they have already shown hatchback and wagon versions.
Now this. Some rather strange Minivan looking thing, and what looks like a larger luxury sedan.
Seems that they are also planning much more, from the picture above.

Chinese car companies have made big claims before. Tons of new models, European sales etc...
As far as I am concerned, I don't believe any of this...




Qoros is a joint venture between Chinese company Chery and Israel Corporations. 

The Qoros 3 sedan pictured above is supposed to come out before the end of the year in China, and a few months later in Europe.
It is just an inch shorter than a Jetta and power comes from 1.6 Liter engine with 126HP.
A Turbo version is rated at 156hp.

It doesn't look bad. Inside and out it could actually be a Jetta... 

SAAB restarts production.

So far, only a few pre-production "not for sale" units are being produced under new owner NEVS.

These few cars are just being produce to calibrate the assembly line. And look pretty much the same as before. Except for the new Logo. As NEVS didn't acquire the rights to use the previous badge as part of the deal.

No official word of what engine the gas powered version will use.
An electric version with a new front end should start official production in 2014.
The gas powered car should start regular production before the end of this year.

NEVS plans to build 120 000 units a year by 2016. Which sounds pretty amazing.
Europe and China will get the cars first, while the US is being considered as well.

They are also working on a car based on the all new Poenix architecture. Mainly working on removing the 20% content. So they can actually use it for the next 9-3.

This all sounds good, and quite an amazing achievement.
Saab might be back from the dead....

Monday, September 16, 2013

VW Beetle TDI Convertible test drive coming up.

Something really rare in the US: a diesel convertible.
I have it for a week and will answer questions and report on it soon.

So far, it is quiet and refined. And the gas mileage, as usual with TDIs,  exceeds official numbers.
As I got 47MPG on a day trip a couple of days ago.

More rumors about the Opel Cascada heading to the US







Which is great news!

The Cascada is one of the best looking convertible out there.
Sure, it was not engineered for US regulations. But apparently, GM is working on that as we speak.
As everyone realizes this would make a great Buick model.
A great looking, 4 seater with a large trunk would look really good in Buick showrooms.

As you can see, inside, the Cascada is a blend of Astra (Verano) and Insignia (Regal).
If priced right, I can see this selling quite well in the US.

it's almost begging to be a Buick.
And maybe they could bring back the "Riviera" name....

Sunday, September 15, 2013

2015 Maxima. NOT Mustang...

I meant to post this a while ago.

A few weeks ago I posted this picture of a prototype taken in Death Valley this summer.
Which is the 2015 Nissan Maxima.
But somehow, many thought it was the next Mustang. Which is weird. Since the Mustang is a 2 door RWD car with a much shorter wheelbase. And completely different proportions.

So I put this together, showing the car caught in Death Valley. The upcoming Maxima concept.
And the 2015 Mustang, testing somewhere.

What do you think?

Buick Verano Turbo test drive




The Buick Verano is basically our version of the Opel Astra.
I drove the “regular” model a while ago, and was curious to see if the Turbo was much.

It is a fine looking car. But pretty invisible. No one would ever notice it in a sea of semi compact looking sedans out there.
It’s quite generic. Much more so than the Regal.





Inside, it is pure Opel. Things are nicely put together and everything feels solid. But again, not as much as in the Regal.
The back seat is not roomy. At all. The front seats are fine. But not great.
There is no lumbar adjustment. At least on my car. And they are not fully powered either. The passenger seat is even fully manual.

My car had the Bose stereo option. Which sounded fine, but not great. Which is a problem with many Bose car units these days. Most of the time, they just don’t sound that great. 






I am not a fan of wood trim, and this one doesn’t look too good either. At least, its use is pretty limited throughout the cabin.



There are still a few cheap looking bits here and there. Even though most plastics are soft and of high quality.



The worst part of the interior, and the car in general, is GM’s entertainment system used in my test car. It is one of the worst ever.
I had the same experience with the 2013 Malibu and Regal GS. It is very slow and worst of all, won’t read iPhone playlists correctly.
To be fair, this system has been replaced by an all-new one for 2014. I used it in the 2014 Impala a few weeks ago and that one is one of the best. I know the new one is available in the 2014 Regal and Lacrosse. Not sure about the Verano…(Which by the way, doesn’t even get upgraded to the newer 2.5 Liter engine for 2014…)




On the road, the car is great to drive. The steering is light but precise.
The suspension is always comfortable. And the 2.0 Turbo is a gem.
And what a rare pleasure to be able to drive the car with a 6-speed manual.
It is always very quiet and refined.



The Verano Turbo I was testing had only one option, an Audio System with navigation for $795. For a total of $29 900. A sunroof seems to be the only other option on top of that.
There are a few things missing for this price. Like a full power seat.  At least give us one.
Rear seat vents for the climate control. An audio system that actually works.

A similar Regal is just a few thousands more. Which to me is worth it. It looks and feels better than the Verano Turbo. And has the same great engine.

I think the Verano is a great 1st try as a compact car from Buick. It’s almost there.
With a few details fixed, it could be great.

In Europe, this car mostly competes with models like the Golf and Focus. Buick is trying to sell it here as a small luxury car, which is a bit of a stretch.




This is the European version. The Opel Astra sedan. 
As usual in Europe, most Astras are hatchbacks, and the sedan is actually quite rare.