Tuesday, July 31, 2007

VW Jetta Wagon

The US version of the new Golf Wagon.

It actually doens't look so bad on these photos.
It is amazing what good looking wheels can do to a csr.
Plus, you'll have to admit, the 2 georgeous Ford LTDs in the background help a lot!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Mitsubishi Concept CX

Looks like Mitsubishi is coming out with their own Matrix.
They need all the help they can get...

Peugeot 308 RC-Z

Just a concept. The CC convertible version of the 308 will still be a regular 4 seater.
But this one looks great....

Sunday, July 29, 2007

All new Toyota model

As I mentioned before, 2008 is the last model year for the Solara.
(that's too bad. I like it. The convertible is a really good car)

Toyota will not have a 2 door or convertible model to replace it.
Instead, they will have an all new model, also based on the Camry:
The production version of the FSC Concept from a couple of years ago. (Bottom picture)

In Japan, it might be sold as part of the Mark X lineup (Although it is based on the Camry, not the Mark X).
Here it will be marketed as some sort of a slick wagon version of the Camry.
Just like the popular sedan, it will be available with a 2.4 Liter or a 3.5 Liter V6.
I guess that's whay they kept the Highlander looking so square and boring.

This would be for families looking for something slicker and more modern looking.

More pictures soon...

Opel vacations

The good old days...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Ford Escape test drive

The original Escape came out in 2001. Back then it was marketed as the Explorer's smaller brother.
But it was based on a more carlike platform called the CD2. Itself based on the Mazda 626 architecture.
So we're talking light years ahead of the horrible Explorer.

For 2008, the Escape gets a new design and interior. As you can see, "blocky" is in.
The new shape makes the Escape look more trucky than before. The hood has been raised and now it almost looks totally flat from the driver's point of view.
I don't think that's an improvement. It is now harder to see anything up front.
And most people who really want a truck won't go for an Escape. To me, this doen't look better or more modern than the "old" design...

Same blocky, squared style inside.
But here, Blocky meets Cheap.
Not only there are almost no curves, but there is no quality materials either. I went through the whole interior and couldn't find any soft touch plastics. Except a little but od rubbery material on part of the armrests.
The whole interior screams cheap. It just looks like the only reason you bought that thing is because it was the cheapest thing around .

Here you can see the beautiful craftsmanship of the interior. Many plastic parts do not align properly. Stuff rattles in the back. Switch gear that looks like it was designed in 1983, exposed screws etc....
I have to say, this is the cheapest looking interior I have seen in years. Even worse than the Cobalt and on par with the Dakota. Although the Dodge used quite a bit of soft plastics and the whole thing felt much more solid.

But...Some people don't really care about interior plastics (Obviously), so. How does it drive?

Well. My test car had the base 2.3 Liter engine. I know, it doesn't produce that much power. (143 hp)
But I have to say, driving alone, it was actually enough most of the time.
Plus it is very quiet and refined. It is after all, a version of the Mazda engine used on the Mazda6.
But it is paired with a pretty horrible 4 speed auto. And that is too bad.
The transmission isn't very smooth at upshifting. (most new transmissions are now seamless)
And it refuses to downshift. No matter what you do. Unless you literally floor it.
So it feels like a bad CVT. No matter what you want, how fast you need to go. The transmission takes its time and refuses to follow orders.
Otherwise, the 2.3 could be a decent choice for single people or couples who don't carry much around.
I averaged almost 20 mpg in mostly city driving (about 80%).

The seats are pretty flat up front. And the back bench is about as uncomfortable as it looks.
Again, this reminds me of a 1990 Explorer.

The new Escape is much quieter than before. Around town or on the freeway. But it doesn't feel very stable past 65 mph.
Kind of floaty. The brakes are a bit hard. the steering has a bit of that fake video game feel to it, but is otherwise actually very nice.

So it seems that what works in the Escape is all the stuff that comes from Mazda. A solid frame and a very nice engine.
The Ford parts are pretty bad.
It looks and feels very cheap, the transmission is one of the worst around, and it just doesn't keep up at all with any of the competition.
It looks cheap, but is it actually cheaper?

-Ford Escape 2.3 Auto........ $20,435. (Carsdirect price: $19,030)
-Honda CRV LX....................$ 21,195 (Carsdirect price: $20,576)
-Toyota RAV4......................$ 23,035. (Carsdirect price: $21,978)
-Hyundai Santa Fe...............$ 21,815. (Carsdirect price: $19,658)
-Mitsubishi Outlander..........$ 20,615. (Carsdirect price: $19,669)

Sure. It is actually a little bit cheaper. Cheaper than other cars that are all much, much better. The Santa Fe even comes with a V6 standard.
I don't really understand who would consider the Escape as a purchase. If you're going to drive something every day, make payments on it for years, I'd want something more pleasant to be in.

Who is this car for?
For people who:

-Want to get a Ford and nothing else
-Don't know anything about cars and got lost at a Ford dealership
-Were looking at an Edge but couldn't afford it, and had to buy something that day.
-Are not aware of what year this is.
-Do not know they can buy something much better for the money.

I always say: if the car you really like is just a bit more, like $1000 or even $1500. Get it!
Over 3 or 5 years it will amount to just a few dollars more a month. And you'll be driving something you like.

You can't really go wrong in buying anything else. Sure, none of the cars mentioned above have amazing interiors, or expensive plastics everywhere. (The RAV4 interior also feels pretty cheap. But looks much better).
But they are pretty much the same price as the Ford. None of them are very expensive.

Buying this, I would really feel that I wasted my money and could have had something much better.
But that's just me...
If you love the Escape, go for it, it's your money....

Hybrid Cayenne official pictures

If it can really cruise at 75mph on electrical poer alone (like they claim), it would be pretty cool.
Not sure when this will actually be available....

Friday, July 27, 2007

Renault Twingo CC convertible

The new Twingo is barely out and Renault is already showing the upcoming (Summer 2008) convertible version.
A rather weird looking little 2 seater with a retractible hard top.

The look kind of reminds me of the old Honda Del Sol. (The good old days when Honda was actually trying out new stuff)

2008 Toyota Yaris "Sport Model"

I wonder if this is just some kind of a wheel upgrade, or a real soprt model with a more powerful engine...
we'll find out later...

2008 Avalon

Not sure how much they changed, but the front bumper looks new. Maybe the grille?

Anyway, here it is, the 2008 Toyota Avalon...

Silver Clubman pictures.

More official Mini Clubman pictures

I am surprised how little legroom there is in the back. At least on this picture.
It seems about the same as the regular model.
What is the point of a longer wheelbase, really.

We'll see....

Kia Mesa interior

So far this looks very nice.
But again, how big is the market now for these giant SUVs?

BMW 1 Coupe

Looking good in black

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Nissan Skyline GTR testing video.

Subaru Imprezza STI?????

Not sure.
But if this is real, it is even way uglier than the WRX!
This car would just be plain horrible looking.

Lifetime powertrain warranty!

That's right. Sounds pretty amazing.

Starting with cars and trucks delivered on and after July 26th.
The warranty will cover the engine, drive system and transmission. Original owner only.
And the car has to be inspected at a dealer (for free) every 5 years.

That sounds great. I know most powertrains are actually the most reliable parts . Usually problems are caused by electronics, or trims etc...
Although Chrysler has had many transmission problems in the past.

No matter what, this is a great idea.

More CTS pictures

You have to admit, this looks pretty amazing on these pictures.
I have no idea if the real thing is that great.

Starts at $32,245 for the 263hp. And $34,995 for the 304hp.
The G35 starts at $32,165 for 306hp standard.

No idea if the Cadillac comes with more stuff than the Infiniti.

Mini Clubman

Looks official. And great!

2008 CTS pictures

I think it looks great.
I love the stitching (real or fake) on the top of the dash.
And this is pretty much the best location I've seen for a navigation system. Way up there where you can see it. And folded out of the way when you don't need it.

Does this spell doom for the G35?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

No more Infiniti FX35

Well... Kind of...

It will actually be replaced by the FX 37. The all new redesigned version will use the new 3.7 Liter engine. They might even squeeze a bit more power from it than in the G37 Coupe. As much as 330hp.
That is more than a lot of V8s.
I wonder if they are going to even keep the V8 version.

The all new FX 37 will be introduced at the Geneva Auto show. (should be around February)
Infiniti is getting ready to take over Europe... (or at least, try..)

Kia Pro-cee'd

That is one stupid name.

I am not sure how new this actually is.
The 5 door was feature on this site a few months ago.
I guess the 3 door version is new.
So now they have 5, 3 doors and a wagon. Just like the Golf.

I mention the Golf because this cool looking Kia is for Europe only. (and I guess, Korea...)

The engine of the future?

Mercedes claims their new DiesOtto engine might just be that.

It blends the best of gas and diesel engines. Running on gas.
Here are some of the specs:
- 1.8 Liter
- 238hp
- 40 MPG when tested in an S Class.

It all sounds great. Although I wonder how smooth and quiet a 1.8 Liter engine can be in the S class.
We'll see it it ever makes it into production....


New and old.
Caught on the highway, in Germany.

Audi A1

It says "Audi Design Team on it....

Dos that mean it's official? A clever fake?
Who knows....

From this design, it does look pretty much like what anyone would expect. Nothing new.
Just a smaller version of the same design Audi has been using for years now.
Could it really fight against other designs with much more personality? Like the Mini or the Fiat 500...

Toyota Plug-in Hybrid

Toyota has announced the start of their road tests for a plug in hybrid car.
The prototypes are based on the current Prius.
No word when such a system will be ready for sale.
It seems too late for the next generation Prius, due out in a bout a year.

Unless they're not telling us the whole story....

Subaru Outback Sport

Looks like it's already out, somewhere.

But really, why even bother..

That silver lower paint job looks horrible.