Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Chevrolet Volt. Part four.

Today was time to return the Volt.

This car was a lot of fun, and I must say, one of my favorite car to drive.

And fun to be in as well.
It is a very nice, modern and well finished interior.
And I do like the 2 bucket seats in the back. As most cars never carry 3 people on the back seat anyway.

The convenience of a hatchback is an added bonus too.

I am really sold on this car. Although I would not buy one. But I would definitely lease one.
The Volt technology will be constantly improving. (They are talking of a better EV range for 2014)
Leasing makes the most sense for this kind of car.

I don't really see it as a competitor to the Prius.
The 40 miles on pure electric make all the difference. It IS an electric car and drives like one.
The Prius does not.

It is quite sporty and quick as well. The opposite of the Prius.

Basically, I think everyone who wants to drive something special should give the Volt a try.
It is very comfortable, has a big convenient hatchback, drives great and gets the best mileage available.

I highly recommend a test drive. It is quite an experience...
One I will not forget.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

2014 Cadillac Escalade?

Who knows.
This looks a bit radical to me.
The next Escalade will still be based on the Chevy Pick up truck. And this looks more like some car base thing.
Or not?

Either way, we will see an all new Escalade sometime next year.

But I really don't think, and hope, it will be as popular as the current model has been .
The market seems to have changed so much in the past years...

2013 Toyota Auris

The current Auris was never sold in the US. It is what Europe gets instead of the ultra bland Corolla.

This all new model doesn't really look that much modern than the current one.
So it looks like they might follow the same recipe with the next Corolla.
"All new but the same".

And the Auris has always been the much more modern one of the two....

This could be a tough sale in Europe against much better looking competition. Including the new Hyundai i30 and Kia Ceed.
This new Auris looks like a mess compared to these 2...

2013 Chevrolet Cruze wagon

Let's start the day with something we are not getting: the new wagon version of the Cruze.

Which is ridiculous.
We are getting the diesel next year, so why not the wagon. And the hatchback too.

The Cruze is one of the best cars in its segment and GM should do whatever they can to push it.
Bringing the diesel over here is a great idea to compete with the Jetta in the US.
A diesel wagon would be another good idea. The Jetta wagon is very popular with its diesel.

Go figure...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Chevrolet Volt. Part three.

Went to Malibu today, and was able to charge the Volt for a while.
But not the full 4 hrs required to fully charge the car.
So I got only 24 miles on it.
Which was fine. I can charge it again tomorrow at work.

Most people buying this car wouldn't have this problem, as they could charge it at home or work.
Living in an apartment, and the 3 day week end forced me to drive it around with an empty battery since friday.

Which I enjoyed. The suspension of the car is firm and very comfortable.
Much more so than the Prius.
The steering doesn't have the video game feeling of the one in the Prius.
And it is much quieter when you accelerate. Again, the engine sounds more like a compressor than an engine.
It is also much quicker than the Prius.

I drove the Prius many times, and my conclusion is that it is the perfect car for people who don't like driving.

On the other hand, the Volt drives great. Like a very good car. Electric, or not.
There is a huge difference. For those who enjoy driving.

Of these 91 miles, only 24 were done with the battery alone.
So the 83MPG average is pretty amazing. Something the Prius could never do.
Plus, again, the Volt was fun to drive in the canyons.

It would also be scary in a Leaf, or Focus electric. Not being 100% sure to make it back home...

I understand the need to push aerodynamics on this car more than most others.
But that front skirt is so low, it scrapes the ground in every single driveways...

A small thing, but I thought I'd mention it....

Sunday, May 27, 2012

New Cadillac Coupe coming up?

We know there is a Volt based ELR coming out next year.
But Cadillac is also working on a new range toper model.
Something RWD, above the new XTS.

And there are rumors about this new car being a coupe.
Which the car pictured here could be.

This is not the first time we see a big Cadillac coupe idea recently . Just a few years ago, I remember a few spy shots of a clay model from GM's design studio.
A very large coupe that never actually came out. Even as a concept.

So this one might be the real thing.

Or is it just the next CTS Coupe?

Chevrolet Volt. Day two.

Still not charged up, and still a blast to drive.
A few online forums listed The ArcLight Cinema in Hollywood as having a couple of charging stations in the parking lot.
Unfortunately, I found out they have been taken out about a year ago...
So no charging today.

The Volt drives great no matter what. The car being powered by the electric motor, you always have that gliding feel even with empty batteries.
When the engine comes on, it sounds more like a generator. (Which is basically what it is)
So there is no transition feel or shutter like on Hybrid cars. You only hear a distant hum, and feel a slight vibration in the steering wheel.
Again, like if a compressor went on.

My average gas mileage is now at a bit under 40MPG. For about 80 miles of driving mostly in the city.
With only about 12 miles done with the batteries.
Which, I think, is really good.

I hear LACMA has a charging station.
So maybe tomorrow will be a museum day....

Another day, another Chinese copy...

This one is from DongFen.
Which usually builds cars for Nissan.

This one uses the design of the previous Kia Sorento with a Cadillac SRX front end. Go figure...

The engine is a 2.0 Liter from Nissan.

The whole thing is supposedly priced at around $12 000.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Chevrolet Volt. Day one.

I finally was able to get a Volt, late yesterday.
It came to me with about 12 miles left on the charge. And I really do not have a way to plug it in until after the week end.
Which is too bad.
The pure electric drive is quite an amazing experience. The car does feel heavy, which I like.
And quick enough. The sport mode does a good job and the car does feel quicker.

Otherwise, it is quite and refined all the time. It is really hard to tell when the engine is on or not.
I assume it is since the battery is now empty. The ride is very comfortable.

So far I have averages between 40 and 43MPG in mix driving, with the battery on empty.
Which is really good.
This is such a much better drive than the Prius. The difference is quite amazing.

I will try to do a quick report every day. And answer questions you might have.

So far, I love driving it.

VW Beetle Turbo. Wrapping up...

I returned the Bug yesterday.

As I said, I think the 2.5 Liter with a 5 speed is the one to get.
The lag of the turbo and the DSG zapped all the fun.

Plus the 2.5 is quieter and smoother. Which fits the luxury ride much better.

There are still things I am not crazy about the design. Like trying to squeeze the squared off front end into a round design.
But, at least, they didn't kill the car and the Bug is still around. People must have felt the same when the Super Beetle came out in the 70's.

The new model is more grown up. A more premium version of the previous model.
Which is just fine.

It is less special, but still a Beetle. Which we should always have around.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Peugeot 301

Looks like it is based on the new 208.
A boring "trunk added" version of the cool 208.

It does have that "emerging market" look to it. Even though it will be built in Spain, it is not, so far, intended for western Europe.
Its main market will be Latin America, Africa, The Middle East and eastern Europe.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

VW Beetle Turbo. Day four.

I am still enjoying the Beetle very much every day.
I realized, and mentioned before, than all of the electrical problems I have had are due to a previously disconnected battery.

I have been using the regular D setting more today. And found out it's just fine for when you just want to cruse around.
I then got about 25MPG in the city.
Using the more satisfying "fake manual" my average dropped to about 21.
More fun has a price, as usual...

I also enjoy the solid and well finished feel of the car. With subtle little details around the cabin.
And again, no chrome in sight.

I really like the retro looking 2nd glove box designed into the dashboard. A nice touch.

So far really, it just drives like a stylish 2 door version of the new Jetta.
Which is pretty much what it is.

2014/15 Passat Coupe?

The European Passat got a few changes for the 2012 model year, but it is not an all new model like the one we have here in the US.
So a brand new Passat for Europe is due in a couple of years.

And there is yet another rumor of a coupe version.
This is an illustration of that a next generation Euro Passat coupe could look like.

Let's hope not....

Monday, May 21, 2012

VW Beetle Turbo. Day three.

The interior is where this new Bug is obviously more upscale than the New Beetle was.
It almost feels like an Audi version of the Beetle.

Even the hard plastics have a good texture. And there is no chrome whatsoever. Every metal trim has a much classier matt finish.

But, a friend of mine sitting in the back seat noticed this.
The handle attached on the B pillar seems to be a bit broken.

Not sure what happened there before I got the car...

I thought I had the weird window behavior fixed. Until the auto up function on the driver side stopped working again.

The drive is still great. And I did get used to the light steering. Which is really precise.

I know leave the DSG in "auto manual" all the time. It does help a bit with the turbo lag.
And gives me more power when I need it.

I also realized that the strange brake behavior I reported on yesterday was due to the DSG's abrupt downshifting pattern.
In both D and S modes.
Using the Auto Manual mode seems to fix that as well.

This car would be so much better with a proper manual...

2012 Toyoa Axio=2013 Corolla?

As you can see, so far the Axio as been really close to our Corolla. Except for the front and rear ends.
Interiors are the same, and profiles are almost identical.
(Axio is on top)

So feast your eyes on this all new Axio now coming out in Japan.
Again, front and rear designs will be different on our Corolla. But this might be the horror we end up with next year.
Looking like a 1980's eastern European car, or a Chinese knock off.

The interior will probably, just like in the current models, will be the same for Axio and Corolla.
And it does look like a weird cross between the 2012 Camry and the new Yaris...

In a market populated with cars like the Elantra, Focus, Jetta, Cruze and the upcoming all new Kia Forte, this makes the redesigned Civic look like Marilyn Monroe.

Good luck.

Renault Alpine Concept

Renault will finally introduce a new concept inspired by the old Alpine sports car.
They have been talking for many years about a new model.

The original Alpine came out in 1955, but the most famous model, the A108/110 came out in 1958.
Later models became larger, more and more luxurious, fancy and expensive. The usual sad story of most sports cars...

We'll see if the production model goes back to its affordable roots.
Which doesn't seem likely from this super fancy and expensive looking concept...

Here is the one most people think of when they think of the Alpine: the A110.
A classic Michelotti design that still looks great today.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

VW Beetle Turbo. Day two.

Thanks to one of you, I was able to reset the auto up and down window feature. They now work properly. (so it was not a VW electric bug after all)
But I was still unable to do the same for the sunroof, which still opens only half way.

Drove the car a lot more today, and got about 33MPG on the Highway in the standard D mode.
And 30 on the S.

The difference is due to the fact that the D doesn't use the 6th gear. Therefore the engine runs at about 3000RPM when cruising at 65. Instead of 2000RPM in the regular D mode.

But... The regular D mode feels like a bad CVT. I say bad because there are now very good and responsive CVTs around.
This DSG is just really, really bad in the regular automatic setting.
The transmission usually refuses to downshift unless you floor it. It always feels it is one or two gears higher than it should be.
It almost sounds and feels like it's going to stall at times.

The S mode is what the regular D should have been. It is much less aggressive than in the GTI. So easier to drive.
Still not great, because of the bad turbo lag, but better.

Just like in the GTI, the "fake manual" mode is actually the best.
But it's still not nearly as much fun as a real stick shift...

The brakes also seem to have a lag. Not much happens when you first press the pedal, and then it just becomes really aggressive all of a sudden. Which makes it really hard to stop or slow down smoothly.
You do get used to it after a while, but why???

I hate to say, but I am not a big fan of the 2.0 Liter Turbo either.
It does sound like a diesel most of the time. A good quiet sound, for a diesel.
But still. Weird for a gas engine.
The 2.0 Turbo in the new Escape for instance, is much, much smoother and quieter. So is the GM 2.0 Liter unit.
And at only 200hp, it lags behind everyone else in the business.

I will try to get a 2.5 Liter version to drive soon. Which should be a much better combo. Since it doesn't come with the DSG either.

A few small things are missing too, especially for $29 000. Like an auto dimming rear view mirror. Or a back up camera...

On the other hand, the ride is amazing. The steering is very precise if still a bit light. The car is very quiet, once the engine gets going.
Turning radius is excellent. And it does feel super solid.

More tomorrow.