Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Another VW Pick up concept coming up.


VW is teasing us with another cool looking pick up concept.
They now claim it could be a production model by 2020. And that is it based on their MQB platform.
It will be shown at the upcoming Brazilian Auto Show.

Sure, it already looks nice. And I really wish this cool south American product could make it over here.

 Last year, they teased us with this. The really nice looking Atlas Tanoak Concept.

Here is something I'd like to see again: the old Golf based pick up.
(With Malibu's Planet of the Apes beach in the background)

I guess the new Brazilian model would technically be a new version of this since it will be using the same platform as the current Golf.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Will we be getting the VW Tharu in the US?





VW has already said the US is not getting the T-Rock and T-Cross SUVs.

Instead, they are preparing something just for us. Or is it, like the Jetta, Atlas, and Passat, just for "Us and China".
Which means, the new compact Tharu SUV could be coming here soon.
Since it just came out in China.
As you can see, it kind of looks like a smaller Tiguan. And even more boring and old.
The interior is more modern than the exterior and actually seems more pleasant than the Tiguan.




As a reminder, here is the much, much better looking T-Roc.
A European model we are not getting here.
They claim it is too small for us. (About 5 inches shorter than a Honda HR-V)

The Tharu us about 10 inches shorter than the long Tiguan we are getting over here.
But, it is about the same size as the short wheelbase, 5 passenger Tiguan already sold in Europe.
Why not bring that over here???

VW has a long history of making wrong, weird decisions about the US market.
Looks like there is another one coming...


A few more pictures of the new 2020 VW Passat Interior










There will be some small different details, but this basically should be what we will be getting over here next year.
(This is still the new Chinese model)

It still works for me. It seems like a huge step forward when compared to the current model.
And really, not that far behind an Audi at this point...

Zombie Saab 9.3 still not 100% dead.

This is actually an all-new ad for the NEVS 9.3.
Which is an electric version of the old Saab.
NEVS has teased the automotive world for years about this car.
And it looks like it is finally coming out.

I guess the "Classic experience" part of the slogan refers to the fact that this design is now over 15 years old.
Not sure what the "extraordinary enjoyment" is all about. Except for the driving pleasure of an EV.




















Chinese Ford Escape/Kuga is getting a huge screen for 2019





It looks like the Chinese market Ford Kuga (our Escape) is getting a weird oversized screen for the new year.
Ford was able to fit this giant vertical tablet right where the smaller unit used to be. 
I guess, it somehow works? But also looks really weird.

It is also strange since an all-new Escape is due out in just a few months. So why make such a modification to the existing model? (Unless the old one will still be on sale alongside the new one in China)

This could also be a preview of what's in store for the new one...
Here is the current Escape interior.

Cadillac Escalade review coming up.

That's right. I am driving a Cadillac Escalade this week and will be reporting on it in a few days.

So far, it is, of course, very similar to the Yukon XL and Suburban. Which are basically the same car. But I think the Cadillac actually looks more modern. Even cleaner.
And inside, the Escalade dashboard is much nicer and more upscale.

As usual, I will try to answer any questions you might have about this giant car.


Monday, October 29, 2018

New "smaller than Sportage" Kia SUV coming



Just like the Ford Ecosport, the production version of the SP concept was mostly planned for the Indian market.
And just like the Eco sport, it will end up in the US as well.
Except Kia will not, unlike Ford, wait 5 years to bring it over.

The SP concept looks really nice. With a great interior.
Let's hope most of this carries over the production version.
This will actually make the Sportage look old fashion (Especially inside)

And again, just like the Ecosport, it will probably be produced in India and imported from there to the US market. 

This could even be marketed as an upscale, sportier version of the Soul (?)


Thursday, October 25, 2018

Honda Clarity Test Drive movie





There it is...

The new Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid. Driving around Mulholland drive and beautiful Malibu, California.




2019 Mazda CX-5 Turbo: It's official !



Click on these 2 pictures above to read the official info and pricing of the new 2019 Turbo versions of the Mazda CX-5.

The new engine will only be offered in the "new for 2019" Grand Touring reserve, and Grand Touring Signature versions.
(It doesn't seem to be an option on other less expensive versions.)

So the least expensive Turbo version is $34 870. Or about $3400 more than the previous top of the line Grand Touring model. 
On top of the Turbo, the Grand Touring reserve adds heated rear seats, something called "Active traffic display". Heated steering wheel and cooling front seats. And auto folding mirrors.
So you're not paying $3400 just for the Turbo.

I drove the Mazda CX-5 a while ago and loved it.
In my daily use for a week, I never needed more power. But I guess some people do.
The interior quality and road manners really compete with more expensive SUVs.
And now with 250HP, even more so. This is getting really close to the Acura RDX.
And similar, more premium models.

Mazda seems to be on a roll. 
( I cannot wait to see the new Mazda3 in person next month at the L.A Auto Show)



All new VW T-Cross





Well, that wasn't really worth such a long wait and millions of spy shots and teasers, was it...

Maybe it is the weirdo color in these pictures, but that small T-Cross SUV really doesn't look special at all. Just a clumsy amalgam of other VW design cues. 

The T-Cross is based on the Polo platform and comes in FWD only (no AWD).
The top engine is a 1.5 Liter engine with 148HP.
And it is about the same size as the Ford EcoSport. 
Sure, it does look better than the poor old Ford. But that's about it. And really, what doesn't look better than the Ecosport?

The T-Cross will be sold pretty much everywhere in the world except the US. And from these pictures, I'd say we are not missing much...

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

All new 2020 VW Passat in the wild already!







I must say, this looks really nice. 
A very nicely proportioned design that seems like it will last quite a long time. Nothing weird. 
The interior manages to feel classic and original at the same time. Good job.

I know times are tough for regular large sedans in the US, but considering, this might actually do quite well.
They just need a good marketing campaign to go with it. And a better, smoother engine than the 2.0 Liter in the Tiguan. (Or more sound insulation)




Monday, October 22, 2018

All new VW T-Cross teasers



If you think this looks pretty cute, don't get too excited. Since VW has already said it is not coming to the US.
"Too small," they say...
(Tell that to the Ford Ecosport)

The T-Cross is based on the Polo, and we don't get that either. Since VW thinks Americans won't buy anything smaller than a Golf.

Instead, they say we'll be getting something "special". Something just for us and China. 
Just like the Passat and Atlas. 
Something bigger and a bit more boring...

Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid test drive





I think the Clarity looks quite futuristic and modern. I do understand it has been met with criticism and ends up being quite polarizing.

Most of the criticism seems to target the rear fenders. Which cover the top part of the wheels, and end up making the car's rear end look a bit lumpier than it should.

But after a few days with it, I really didn't mind at all. I really like the rest of the car, and at least, it is different than the Honda Accord.
Which is a nice effort from Honda.
I just wish they had gone a little further and made the Clarity into a true hatchback.

Otherwise, the whole thing looks quite upscale and different.



The interior looks great. It has a "1970's futuristic" feel to it. 
Which I like a lot. The wood trim part of the dashboard is flat and horizontal. The various trims look great. And everything is easy to use and feel super solid and high end. 

This interior is much nicer than in many more expensive cars. And more original as well.
This is really a wonderful place to be. 




One of the coolest, and most original, part of the interior is the suede material covering the dashboard and the doors.
I think it just looks fantastic. And again, something you just don't see anymore.






The stereo doesn't have any fancy name or anything. They just basically call it "Audio System with 8 speakers". But it sounds great. Even better than some "Bose" branded units in some other cars.

The only problem is the touch screen with a lack of volume knob (That should be coming in the 2019 model year very soon. Just like any other 2019 Honda models)
So the steering wheel control unit pictured above became my best friend for the week...


The rear seat is very roomy. About the same as the Accord.

A really nice and clever touch is the little phone pouch in the back of the front seats.




The trunk is really big and folds almost flat. It also includes an additional compartment.
Which is pretty amazing, for a car with EV batteries.
(For instance, the batteries in the Fusion Hybrid eat up about half of the trunk)

Again, this huge trunk would be perfect for a hatchback design...



The Clarity is basically a great driving car. Just like the Accord.

The steering is not too light and does has a great feel. (Better than many European cars)
The suspension is always comfortable, while just firm enough.
The car is also surprisingly quiet in non-EV mode.

Of course, when the batteries are charged up, this is basically an electric Accord. Which is great.

Otherwise, when the batteries are empty, it is still a great driving hybrid. 
The transition from electric to gas is pretty invisible. And the engine doesn't rev up at strange times like it does in the Insight. 
So it just drives pretty much like a normal car. With an extra electric push at low speed.

Just like in the Insight, the "Sport" mode is actually very sporty.
You don't feel much of a difference in the steering or suspension, but the car seems to have much more power. It seems to actually rely more on the electric motor.

For a few days, I was just driving in "sport" all the time.
And I didn't really see a difference in gas mileage.




Of course, the main point of this car is to drive electric, and save gas when you don't. (Otherwise, you can get an Accord)

I was actually not able to recharge the batteries. There is only one outlet near my car where I park it. And the Honda EV cable was just too short (!) ( By about a foot or two. And I didn't have a proper extension available)
I never had that problem with any other EVs, like the Leaf, Volt or Bolt.

But I did manage to get 45 miles out of that initial charge in mix driving. Which is close to the official number of 47 miles. I am sure you can get even more in strictly city driving.


As far as MPG, the only official number I could find is "42MPG combined"
Which is quite good for such a large and roomy car anyway.

During my week of driving, I was actually able to get 55/56MPG on the freeway. Without any problem or trying hard. ( I was even averaging over 60MPG cruising down PCH)
And 52 to 54MPG driving around in the city.
I think these are quite amazing numbers. Again, this is not a small car at all.

I even got 54MPG in mixed driving for a few days, always in the Sport mode.


The Honda Clarity is quite an amazing car.

It has a great, upscale and roomy interior. It feels as solid as a tank. Has an actual EV range of at least 45 miles.  And you do get at least 54MPG using gas only.
It also really challenges everything most of us previously thought about hybrid cars being slow and noisy.

The few small things I would actually ask for are a volume knob (which is coming) A sunroof on the Touring version (That's not coming)
A slightly longer charging cable. And, at least on the Touring model, a lumbar adjustment. (Although the seats are very comfortable and that was never a problem for me)

The Touring model I was driving ends up costing a bit over $37 000. But almost $10 000 less with current incentives.
Which means the "base" model could actually cost under $24 000.
This is all pretty amazing and actually competes with the more basic versions of the Accord.
And even the Insight!

Right now, I would put the Clarity way on top of its class.  And near the top of the list for anyone looking for a mid-sized sedan.

I really don't think there is a better choice for a roomy hybrid sedan around.
And its actual price makes it competitive with non-hybrid cars.
Which is pretty amazing.