Friday, September 30, 2005

2006 Nissan Wingroad

The Wingroad has never been sold in the US, so a new one isn't huge news for us.
But it has been sold in many countries, for a long time.
The old one was using engines up to 2.0 Liter in size. So I don't think it's a very large car.
The new one seems to use a similar roofline than the Us Armada. Which looks kind of strange on this wagon.

If Nissan decided they want to sell a wagon in the US, maybe we'll get this some day.
The Versa was a total surprise to me, so why not this. Between the Sentra and Altima?
It does look much better than the Versa.

I also noticed that, just like the Euroepan Civic, the rear lower part of the ear hatch becomes part of the bumper.
That design makes no sense to me...

Here is the "old" wingroad. Still popular in many countries.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

What should have been the small Nissan

Well, the Cube, of course.
That would have been great. A true original. Inexpensive and roomy.
There were many rumors about the next generation coming to the US.
I guess not...

Hey! even the new Note would have been more modern than the Versa.
Too bad...

Seems like lots of people reading this site don't like the Versa. I must say I like the idea more than the car.
And the sedan is just horrific. Korean car makers don't even dare offering that kind of backward design in the US anymore.

That model is in trouble once the first Chinese car appears over here...

Zhonghua, from China

Just curious. For around $20 000 with a 2.4 Liter engine. Would you actually consider it for your next car?
Do you think the Chinese have a chance in the US market (the Zhonghua is, so far, for Europe only)?

I think a lot of car makers are shaking right now.

Crazy Suzuki Concept #2. The LC

This rear engine concept also looks like a lot of fun.
A blend of old European designs, with a bit of 60's Hondas and a sprinkle of Columbo's car.

That's the kind of car that makes your day when you see one on the road. Imagine driving it...

Subaru B5 (Concept)

I am just posting this as a sad reminder that some concept cars still look really, really bad.
It actually looks like the worse concepts from the 70's and early 80's.
A mix of shapes and textures that don't go together.
And Subaru usally has great interiors! This one looks both vulgar and cheap.

A horrible mess...

This is the one that should have made it to production!
The B11 Concept from a couple of years ago.

Crazy Suzuki Concept #1. The PX

This is just a concept. But it looks really cool, and, I think, not too far fetch for production. Something like this would really put the Suzuki brand on the map in the US.
Great competition to the PT Cruiser and the HHR.
It has 3 rows of seats, and the design is said to be inspired by the old Airstream trailers.

Wouldn't it be so cool to drive this around???

Chrysler Akino (concept)

Nothing much to say about this.
Just another tease they'll never, ever build.
Something too cool that makes their production models look ugly and old fashion...
I just hope they could use the rear design on their next Minivans. But I'm dreaming.

And it's not that amazing anyway. The great conceptual designer Syd Mead use to design that kind of thing over 30 years ago...

This is the illustration they released a couple of weeks ago about the concept. The thing is, it doesn't look at all like tha actual car!!

What the hell is wrong over at Chrysler?
Why even bother sending these out?????

2007 VW Marrakesch

Behind these two happy suits, lies the upcoming Golf based Marrakesch SUV.

Can you guess anything new?

Ford Explorer Sport Trac.

It's about time they come up with a new one.
And this looks pretty much like the "concept" from last year.
I don't think the Explorer is good (at all) as a family car, but as a 4 door pick up truck, this one should be great.
It looks nice, has a much improved interior and is probably more refined than most other pick ups.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

2007 Nissan Versa

A few months ago, I posted a few pictures of a new Nissan called the Tilda.
Well.. The Tilda is coming to America. It will be built in Mexico, and renamed the Versa.

That is the "sub-Sentra" model they've been talking about for a while. I was hoping to see the Nisssan Cube over here instead.
The Versa is kind of nice, and kind of wierd looking at the same time. The exterior looks like a Renault design (from 4 or 5 years ago). But the interior looks more like US Nissans. A cross between the Altima and the Murano.
I think it is based on a Renault platform but not sure which one. The Megane platform is supposed to be used for the 2007 Sentra.

The Versa will be available in the Summer of 2006. The 3rd world looking sedan version will be on sale in the fall of 2006.

Now for the good news:
-It will start at $12000.
-Has a standard 1.8 Liter engine with 120hp and the automatic is a CVT!
-That combo is expected to get 38MPG combined!

A small but super roomy car that gets 38MPG can only be good news.
Nissan is the 1st Japanese brand to offer that kind of car in the US. Honda will introduce the Fit in a few months.
The Toyota Echo hasn't been doing to well over here. And it is, well., small outside and inside.

Even though the car doesn't look great, I am pretty exited about this. Nissan is doing a good thing.

But with such a roomy small car, it looks like the 2007 Sentra will have to move up in size. And what about the 2007 Altima??
Is everything going to get bigger???

Mitsubishi 380 (more)

More pictures of the Australian Galant.

Let's hope this is our 2007 Galant. The interior, although almost the same, is much more upscale and classy.
With this and the new Lancer, they should be selling cars, right?

What's wrong with these guys????

Mitsubishi Evo X/Lancer

After last month's hatchback concept shown in Europe, this one is very close to what we'llget over here as the new Lancer, and the Evo X models.
They did a great job. It almost looks as good as the hatch. And as you see, it is another (the 3rd in 2 years) front end design for Mitsubishi cars! Closer, this time, to the new Raider pick up.
Whatever... It looks nice.
It it seems that the compact car segment is really improving, with this, the Mazda 3 etc....
I can't wait to see the next Sentra and Corolla.

And don't forget to click on the sponsors. It is car payment time soon....

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Ford Equator

Do not know what to make of this, yet.
This concept will be shown in Japan next month. From what it looks like, it could very well be a preview of what the next Escape (or will they call it Equator now?) will be.

If you put more formal headlights on that front end, it looks pretty good to me.
Let's hope that's it...
I'll get some pictures as they come out.

Mitsubishi 380

These two look pretty exited, don't they.
And that car looks familiar doesn't it?
That's because it is our good old (almost ignored) Galant.
It was new last year, and I almost never see one ...

This new version is for the Australian market, and it could be similar to a revised Galant we might get as early as next year. The front end looks like the already revised Lancer.
Seems like that split grille they put on everything was short lived. They are now redesigning all their models to get rid of it.

I saw some spy shots of the interior which looked unchanged from the current US version, except some trims. Like, more wood...

2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser

Just another shot of the interior.
It looks pretty cool to me. A bit more interesting than the Element. Or maybe I'm just too used to the Element...

Looks rugged without being too macho, or ridiculous.
The biggest drawback to me is the lack of a smaller engine. A big 4.0 V6 isn't what most people want in a compact, fun looking SUV right now.
But the good news is a sub $20 000 price.(supposedly) Even with the standard V6.

New Scion XB

Also from Japan.
You can see they are sticking with the cube shape. A good thing. And let's hope it's not getting much larger either.

The new XB is based on the new Yaris platform.
That's pretty much all we know for now. All they should do is make the interior much more modern (the new Yaris is), and add a little bit more power.

Not sure when this is coming out. The current Xb gor minor revisions for 2006. So that would make the new one a 2008?

2007 Lexus LS

This Japanese illustration is the 1st realistic look at the next lexus LS.
While a regular 5.0 Liter V8 with 390hp should be available. The big news are about the new Hybrid version.
It should make over 500hp and still return a combined 30mpg!
Quite an amazing acomplishement.
While poor old Mercedes and BMW have recently introduced concept hybrids of their cars, Lexus is going ahead with production within a year!
It is actually a much better set up for the US. I don't think they can sell many of these in Europe, where diesel is king, and Luxury cars already get 30mpg.

A coupe version of this car has alreaady been spied testing in Germany. And they are talking about a long wheelbase version that could come a year or 2 after introduction.

2007 Toyota Corolla

It's about time for a new Corolla. The current one was already dated when it came out. At least the ugly one we get in the US.
At least that quality was much better than the Civic.
But this new picture from Japan shows a design that looks like a cross between the current Euro Corolla and the all new Yaris.
We, in the US, will get as usual, the uglier trunk added version of this. Just like we do with the Civic.

But it it looks decent, and keeps the quality up. It might be a much better choice than the cheap looking 2006 Civic.

2008 VW Scirocco

This German illustration doesn't even try to be realistic...

The old Scirocco was just a good looking coupe version of the old Golf.
This one should be based on the next Golf. So it will share its engines, like the all new 1.4 Liter with 170hp from the new Golf GT. (not for the US of course). The rumor even implies that the original designer, Giugiaro, might be involve in the new one.
I am not sure VW needs a sporty coupe. Seems like even Toyota has given up with the Celica. And almost no one else is selling sporty hatchback coupes.

Shouldn't they sepnd their money into improving quality. Or giving cars like the Jetta more personability, so people don't mistake it for a generic Japanese sedan???

Monday, September 26, 2005

Saab 9.6

From Europe we get this picture/illustration of the upcomig Saab 9.6
The 9.6 will be Saab's first car based SUV.

It is actually based on the new Subaru Tribeca. So expect Subaru engines. Unless GM decidde to finally spend some real money into Saab...
Not sure what the final product will look like, but you can bet it will be better than the horrible Chevy based 9.7!
No Saab should ever be based on a truck frame.
And let's hope they'll do a better job than with the poor Subaru based 9.2 as well.

Please, no more Saab noses on Subarus. It doesn't make a Saab...

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Bentley Continental GTC (not for us mortals)

Here it is: the convertible version of the Continental GT.
No big surprises here, they've been working on it for a while.
After the sedan, this one completes the family.
It is a regular soft top convertible. And I'm sure the V12 engine is pretty much the same as the rest of the line.
Of course it's good looking, it's a Bentley Convertible!

Really, still not as perfect as the coupe. But that goes for about any convertible...

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Nissan Maxima SE Test Drive.

The new Maxima is one of my favorite sedan.
I think it is one of the best looking and modern car out there, with an interior that makes almost anything else look old fashioned.

But how does it drive???

The very first impression I had in the car was about the seat. I guess, that's just because it's the 1st thing you encounter
You sit pretty high. Even at the lowest setting, the seat was much higher than what I'm used to in most cars. That and the fact that the dashboard is very, very low. I made me feel like a giant. And the seat has, to me, a weird kind of over padding in the back, that makes you feel like it's pushing you forward.
That made it very hard to find a good position. Especially for a car labeled as a sport sedan, where you want to feel more "integrated" into the seat.

Inside, it is modern. But kind of cold. Maybe the light gray color didn't help. And maybe the LE's wood trim here and there does. Or the leather option. About that. Even it you order leather, the door panels are still covered in the same material as the cloth interior. Usually they use a matching vinyl on doors in cars with leather.
Overall, the interior quality isn't better than the "redesigned for 2005" new Altima interior. So there is no step up really, from a cheaper and almost as roomy, lesser model.
For not that much more, the Acura TL interior is much more upscale. And still very modern.

I had heard complains about the SE "sport" suspension being too harsh. I didn't experience that at all. It seems to be always smooth. Firm but pretty smooth. The LE's smaller 17 inch wheels should be even more comfortable.

The steering felt much nicer than the Altima's. The Altima has a weird "video game steering" feel. I see that more and more in modern cars. The Maxima still has it a bit, but it is much less pronounced. But it is very, very light. Almost like an old fashion American cars from years ago. Except more precise. But it doesn't "turn on a dime" that's for sure...It's quite a large car with 18inch wheels, and you do realize it everytime you try to maneuver in small spaces...

I could feel quite a bit of vibrations through the steering wheels when driving over bad roads. (or getting out of driveways). Even some disturbing shakes when the road gets worse. Nothing like a European sport sedan. And frankly, a bit disappointing in any modern car.
In fact, the car doesn't feel as solid as most other new cars I've driven. Including Nissan's own Altima. I'm not sure why but I guess the structure isn't that strong. That's how the whole thing feels. As a matter of fact, the latest side impact crash test have been pretty bad news for the Maxima. I think there might be a connection there...

The engine has to be one of the best at any price. This is where Japanese cars shine. If it's good enough for a $45 000 Infinity, it is great in the sub $30 000 Maxima. It is a real treat.
You almost never hear it. But feel it's power all the time. The transmission is also pretty invisible. But still a bit slow to react when you really want to push it. Like most automatics these days...

Gas mileage is nothing to write home about. In a very relaxed driving, I could only average around 18 to 19 mpg. With a bout 40% freeway dring.Strictly around town I could never get over 16 mpg. At $3 a gallon for gas, it does get pretty scary.
(although it should get better. My car was brand new).

Another thing.. Car magazines always complain about "torque steer" on this car. They claim that when you really push it, you have to fight the steering because too much power goes to the front wheels.
Well... I've driven the car for a week, on back roads, streets, freeways etc...
And I never encountered that problem.
But maybe that's because I drive like a normal human being, not an F1 race car driver.
Car magazines always test these cars on the track. I don't care about the track. All I care about is how the car perform in normal conditions. Where people actually drive when they go to work, take their kids to school etc...

What I like:

-The great engine and transmission combo.
-The comfortable, yet firm, suspension.
-The almost futuristic interior.
-The very modern design

What I don't like:

-The seating position.
-The armrest which is to short in the low position, and rattles in the up position.
-The less than upscale ambiance. (That might change in the LE model)
-The almost useless double glass roof . The glass part is way too small to provide any real "glass roof" feel.
A nice idea, but it needs to be much larger.
-The "dead" steering feel.
-The shaky, sometimes rattly feeling of the body when driving on anything but super smooth roads.
-The radio/climate control buttons. All the same size, right next to each others. And LOTS of them!

I must say I was a bit disappointed by the Maxima.
The shaky feel of it being my main concern. I just drove a bunch of cars including the Mazda6, and even the Dodge Dakota. And both of these felt like a solid peace of rock next to the Nissan.
Maybe they just stretched the platform out too much from the Altima? Who knows...

It is still a pretty well made, roomy, quiet, comfortable, easy to drive and very powerful car for most people. But I would advise to keep the price well under $30 000. If you get past that, you might consider the Acura TL. Which is almost as roomy, but feels much more upscale than the Nissan. And it has a 4 year warranty.

In a lower price range, I would check out the Ford 500 and the 2006 Chevrolet Impala. Both seem well made and at least as roomy as the Maxima.

The whole car isn't really that much of a step up from the Altima. Like the Avalon is from the Camry.
The next one needs to be "something else" to survive.

It's time to rethink the whole thing.