Monday, May 31, 2010

Another Astra coupe illustration

No matter what, it will be a good looking car.
The previous one still is.

I still think this would work better here as a Buick than a Saturn.

The previous Astra was a failure in the US as a Saturn.
It was sold by a brand that had made its name by building "american" products to compete with imports.
A German Opel built in Belgium didn't really fit that bill.
And I guess GM was a bit reluctant to advertise the European origins of the car.

On top of it, they barely advertised it at all.
Nobody knew that car was out there....

All new Citroen C4

This is an important model for Citroen. Competing with German power houses in the European market like the VW GOlf and the new Ford Focus.
It does look a bit more upscale the the current model, but at the same time, not as original.
It also has a strong family resemblance to the larger C5, which is a stunning car in the flesh.
So we'll see...

For those of us who have never seen one, this is the current C4 which came out in 2004.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ford to finally kill Mercury???


The same rumor for years now.

After claiming they have new products coming out, now we hear Mercury might be gone soon.
That means no new "small car based on the new Focus".

Would you miss Mercury?
Would you buy one if they had new models ?

VW Polo Sedan

Still looking pretty close to the spy pictures we've seen recently of the new US Jetta.
It seems that the 2 cars might be very closely related, with the Jetta getting a different rear end and no 3rd side window.

There are even rumors about the US model getting the small 1.4 Liter turbo to replace the 2.5 Liter engine currently used.

A smaller more efficient Jetta might be a good idea. Going back to what made it successful in the 1st place.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Opel Astra Coupe

Still just an illustration, but it does match recent spy shots.

Just like always, the coupe should be the best looking one of the Astra line.
With the sedan version coming over here as a small Buick, I just wonder if this coupe will end up in the US as well.
It would be great competition to the Civic Coupe.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

2012 VW Passat?

Or is it the new "US only" sedan that will actually replace the Passat over here?

It does match the sketch VW released last year. The one of the US sedan.
But I'm sure both the new model and the Passat will end up looking very similar anyway.

All VW do these days...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Buick Regal GS approved for production

No big surprise here, but still really good news.
And a great step forward for Buick.

The concept had a 255hp 2.0 Liter turbo engine. ( although a few years ago the Solstice had a 260hp version...)
Combine with AWD , 20 inch wheels and a 6 speed manual.

It seems really nice, but I just wonder why GM chose not to use the more powerful V6 Turbo from the Opel Insignia...

2012 Buick compact sedan

After the regal, Buick will be offering this even smaller model in the US next year.
These pictures are of the Chinese Buick Excelle GT .

But just like the Regal, Chinese and US versions will be pretty much the same.
And both are sedans versions of the Opel Astra.
The hatchback is also sold in China, but won't be coming to the US. At least in the near future.

(GM is actually considering the hatch version of the Regal/Insignia for the US)

It will have a new name when it ends up over here...

2011 Porsche Cayenne US price

The all new Cayenne will start at just over $46 000 in the US.
And it's not bad.
I just saw the Cayenne in person yesterday for the first time, and it looks really good.
But better and more upscale than the current model.

$46 000 isn't much more than a Grand Cherokee. And the "base" engine still produces 300hp.

The 380hp Hyprid has a crazy pricetag of over $67 000.

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

New pictures of the all new, top of the line Jeep model.
Now we know it starts at about $31 000 for the base RWD model.
The Limited will be around $40 000.
Not cheap.
The interior still reminds me of the current Hyundai Santa Fe.
Sure, everyone is saying how much better it is than the current Grand Cherokee. But that's not really saying much.

I think the competition now offers more compelling choices for the price.
Making this attractive mostly to the ever shrinking pool o Jeep fans...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Nissan Rogue S "360" test drive.

I always thought the Rogue never looked as good as it's European cousin, the Kashkai.
And I still do.
But somehow, I have gotten used to its design and I actually quite like it.
As most people I was talking to.
It does have a mini Murano look, without looking too small.
And it is almost as roomy as its larger brother.

The version I drove this time was a more basic S FWD with the "360" option package.
The "360" package includes, among other things, a chrome grille. Which I think, does a lot do improve the car's front end.
I usually don't like chrome, but in this case, it does help a lot.

I always liked the Rogue's interior, so no changes here.

Most plastics are of high quality. And many of them have a nice soft touch, which is getting to be quite rare, at any price.
Sure, it doesn't have the leather of the more expensive model I drove last year, but the cloth is comfortable and seems durable.

The first thing I noticed (and remembered from my previous encounter with the Rogue), is the high seating position.
I know, that's what most SUV/Crossover drivers want. But there is no way for the seat to be adjusted lower.
It just took me a while to get used to it.
The seats themselves are very comfortable.
The car is roomy, front and back.

The best feature included in the 360 package is the In-Mirror rear view monitor.
It is just a great feature. A small screen appears in the rear view mirror when you put the car in reverse. A great, simple feature that does not require the expensive purchase of a GPS option.
All cars should have it.

One thing all cars should have it too is Bluetooth.
My basic S model didn't have it...

And the base stereo is just OK. An upgrade is a good idea.

The ride is always very quiet and very smooth.
The car feels solid.
It is just a very pleasant car to drive around and be in.

The steering is what you expect. Nothing special or memorable.
It is light and pretty precise. It fits perfectly the car's mission.

The engine is really smooth, and almost always very quiet.
I am not sure if Nissan has done any improvements, but I really felt the car was quieter than the one I test drove last year.

Power is never a problem either.

The Rogue, like all automatic Nissans in the US, comes with a CVT transmission.
I remember not liking it much last year when I drove the SL AWD version. ( Even though the CVT works extremely well on all Nissans with the V6)
But I had a different experience this time.
Again, not sure if Nissan did some modifications. Or maybe it just works better with FWD...

I found the CVT to be working very well. It is responsive most of the time. Around town, the car feels very quick.
The only small problem would be getting up to speed on the freeway with a loaded car. But pushing it a bit does work and the car responds quite quickly.
And really, that would be the problem for most other car that size with a smaller 4 cylinder...

In a world of slower and slower "regular" automatics, the Rogue's CVT is not worse, and better than most.
It is miles ahead of the horrible one in the Mitsubishi Outlander.

Plus, I manages to get a bit over 30mpg on the FWY. (rated at 27)
And had no problem getting the 22 MPG rating in the city.


I would really recommend the Rogue to anyone looking for a solid a roomy compact crossover.
It is very well made, has a quality feel to it, and gets really good mileage.
The luxury car ride is also a plus.
If you don't mind the high seating position that is...

At $22 300, my test car was also priced right. And is also a good and more practical alternative to a basic mid sized sedan.

A loaded SL FWD will top over $27 000, which becomes quite pricey. (ALthough you could actually get them for at least $2000 less).

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lexus CT 200h Video

Just like what we saw a few weeks ago with the Audi A1, this is another case of car makers pretending to be Hollywood film makers.

But the result always seems to be a few steps further in the cheesiness.
Most big budget Hollywood blockbusters are pretty bad.
But these new "Hollywood car shorts" are even worse.

And we rarely see any of the car....

Another bad case of WTF.


After the cool new MG6 hatchback, the newly Chinese own british brand will be going after smaller cars like the Fiesta.

The MG6 will be built in England and sold in Europe.
Not sure if the smaller MG3 will also be sold outside of China.
But so far, the "New MG" seems to be one of China's most attractive brand...

2012 Ford Explorer

Just a very small teaser so far. 
We've actually already seen much more from recent spy pictures.

The good news is that the Explorer will be based on the Flex/Taurus platform.
So basically a 5 seater Flex, with better off rad capabilities.
Which means much better mileage than the current prehistorical model.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

2011/12 Hyundai Accent hatchback

Hyundai is already testing a hatchback version of its recently introduced all new Verna. Which is known to us as the Accent.
No surprises here, there always has been a hatch version of the small Hyundai.

This will compete very nicely with cars like the Toyota Yaris over here.
But with more style.

2012 Buick Compact sedan

It looks ready to go.

Buick will not use the name "Excelle" already used in China. So we'll see what they call it when it comes over here next year.
It should be going on sale in China this summer.
So we'll see plenty of it before it is released in the US.

What should they call it?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

2012 Fiat 600

I am sure the real thing would look better than this ill proportion illustration.
But Fiat is working on a 5 door version of the 500, especially for the US market.
But it would of course also end up in Europe.

This would give them an instant advantage over the Mini and the 2012 Beetle.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hyundai Sonata Coupe?

The all new Sonata seems to be a very popular car.
And there have been rumors of more versions. Like a coupe, but even a convertible and a wagon.
Not sure what this is, but it does look like a "Sonata with 2 doors".
Unless it is something else. Maybe the new Kia Optima coupe...

Thanks to reader Milos for this.

2011 Volvo S60 price: Expensive.

It starts at "just" over $38 000.
Which I think is pretty crazy if you ask me.

Sure, this is the top of the line AWD Turbo model. But they should have a cheaper FWD model at launch as well. Otherwise the car will just get a reputation for being grossly overpriced.
Most people will pick a BMW or Mercedes at that price.
Because most don't want AWD in the 1st place, and they will pick a RWD BMW over this.
For less money.

Plus, look at all these options.

I think they need a $32 000 non-turbo, non AWD version ASAP if they want to sell any cars in significant volume.

Here is what they have to say for themselves:

The all-new Volvo S60 pricing and options

Despite the all-new S60 sport sedan being exceedingly well equipped right out of the gate, there are a number of attractive option packages and single options available.

2011 Volvo S60 T6 AWD - $37,700

Destination charges - $850

-Premium Package - $1,500

Power glass moonroof

Power passenger seat

Dual Xenon gas discharge headlights with Active Bending Light (ABL)

-Climate Package - $800

Heated front seat

Heated windshield washer nozzles

Headlight washers

Rainsensor wipers

Interior Air Quality System (IAQS)

-Multimedia Package - $2,700

Premium Multimedia Sound System with MultEQ XT by Audyssey,

Dolby Pro Logic II, 650 watts, 12 premium loudspeakers

Rear park assist camera

Navigation system with real time traffic updates

Map Care with two complimentary navigation updates

-Technology Package - $2,100

Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Queue Assist

Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake

Distance Alert

Lane Departure Warning

-Single Options

Metallic paint - $550

Premium Electric Silver paint - $675

Urbane Wood inlays - $300

Front and rear Park Assist - $500

Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) - $700

Personal Car Communicator (PCC) - $550

Touring chassis - N/C option

FOUR-C (Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept) Active Chassis - $750

17-inch "Njord" alloy wheels - N/C option

17-inch "Njord" alloy wheels with self supporting tires - $500

2013 VW Golf illustration

It does seem to match pictures of clay models we saw earlier. The ones taken in the VW design studio.
As you can see, VW is relentlessly pursuing the slow evolution of the original design.

Somehow, it always does look pretty good.
And always manage to be a best seller in Europe, no matter what.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Infiniti G37 Convertible test drive.

The G37 coupe is already a great looking car, and the convertible version is one of the best looking convertible out there.
I realise that looks are a matter of taste. But during my week drive, the car's design was praised by everyone who saw it.
It is also one of the rare hard top convertible that doesn't look awkward with the top up.

-The interior is very familiar to anyone who has been inside any versions of the G35/37 from Infiniti.
Which is very nice, but not great.
There isn't a feeling of anything special. Which could be OK for about $35 000. But my test car was almost $52 000, and I think at that price, it deserves something even better.

The back seat is roomy enough for this kind of car. And it's actually not too bad back there.
The leather is of good quality everywhere. And once closed, the inside of the car feels more like a coupe than a convertible.
The Bose system in my test car was excellent. Even including speakers designed into the front seats.

The biggest disappointment in the design of the car was the trunk. Or lack of it.
Sure, most hard top convertibles don't have much left once the top is down.
But the G37 hits a new low.
With the top down, there is less room left in the trunk than any car I've ever driven.
Cars like the Pontiac G6, VW Eos and Volvo C70 have much more space left after the top has folded inside the trunk.
Even the Solstice had much more room back there.
This is pretty ridiculous.

And the top seems to take forever to open and close...

The ride is very firm. Sometimes even a bit too harsh.. Mine was the S model, so it might not be the case for all.
But it was really unforgiving an many roads, and made the car a bit too sensitive to road irregularities...

The worst thing I noticed was how much the top rattled when in the up position.
And it did it even on smooth roads. There is almost always a creak or a moan to be heard.

It is really annoying and gives the whole car a cheap feeling that it really shouldn't have. Especially at $52 000.

With the top down, the car feels pretty solid. Although I noticed a bit of shake in the windshield.

Just like in other G series models, the steering has an excellent feel.
Pretty light, but always very precise at the same time. It does add a lot to the driving pleasure.

Again, the 3.7 Liter V6 is always great. Smooth yet very sporty.
Mileage wasn't horrible during my week.
The best I could do in pure city driving was about 16MPG. Which is what most V6 engines of that size get.
But I reached 28mpg on the freeway. Which is really good for this car.

The 7 speed is very smooth. But, again, not very willing to downshift. Unless you really push it.
Which makes any versions of the G37 less responsive than cars like the Maxima which use the same engine, but a much more responsive CVT.
The V6 with CVT combo from Nissan is one of the very best around.

The G37 convertible is quite a stunning looking car.
But the drive is a bit of a mixed bag.
It has a great engine, but I would stay away from the S package and its hard suspension.

The interior is fine, but maybe not upscale enough for the price.

The worse for me was the almost constant rattles from the top when up.
Even the $32000 Pontiac G6 convertible's top I drove a couple of years ago felt much more solid.
And the Saab 9-3 convertible I tested was roomier, and also more solid, even with an old fashion soft top. Which gives it a full trunk.

The base G37 convertible starts at $45 000.
But many packages can quickly push the $50 000 barrier.

It's main competition, the BMW 3 series convertible, starts at around the same price. And so does the Lexus IS 350C. (Where is the real competition in all this similar pricing???)

I would make sure too drive the competition before settling on the Infiniti.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

2012 Audi A2?

Audi is getting a new A1 based A2 for next year.
This illustration shows us what it could look like.

The previous A2 from a few years ago, was a pretty expensive car to produce.
Basing the new one on the A1 will make it much more affordable. For Audi...

And just like the previous A2 or the A1, we're not supposed to be getting it.