Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nissan Juke Test Drive

I did drive the Juke before and remember liking it quite a bit.

The version I was driving last week as called “Midnight Edition”. Which, in my opinion, makes it one of the most vulgar looking car I have seen in years.  The Juke’s design isn’t for everyone. I actually like it.
But the Gold (not Champagne, Gold like in Gold bar), black wheels and spoiler combo isn’t’ for me. At all.

The interior is pretty much the same as before. Except now, at least on my SL version, there is an armrest option. ($245)
Which is a good idea, since it is actually quite roomy. But its design doesn’t match at all the rest of the interior. It looks like something you got at Pep Boys, and feels pretty flimsy.

No soft plastics here. Anywhere. Which is OK I guess for s small SUV starting at under $20 000.

The stereo sounds really good, the seats are fine. The rear legroom is of the “it depends who’s driving” type. It can be pretty tight back there.

The steering is still way too light to be sporty. 

And the smooth and quiet 1.6 Liter engine still suffers from massive turbo lag. There is pretty much nothing available under 2500/3000 RPM. And then a rush of power that can take you by surprise.
Really not a good thing, at all. And quite dangerous at intersections.

The CVT doesn’t help either. Huge turbo lag and CVT has to be one of the worst combos ever.
As I said previously, the 6-speed manual is a much better fit for this car.

But Nissan seems to be on the warpath with manual transmissions these days. Either they bundle them in overpriced “Sport package’ options. Or just kill them altogether…
Last year I test-drove an SL model with 6 speeds, which is no longer available.

The car is rated at 25/30MPG. I never got 25, as my best number in the city was about 22. But for some reason, had no problem reaching 34MPG on the freeway.

Not sure if the tires are different this year, of just different for this “Midnight edition”, but the ride is horrible. It doesn’t absorb anything. The whole thing feels jittery all the time. Again, this is not sporty at all. Just uncomfortable and crude.

The loaded SL 6 speed I drove last year was a bit under $25 000. Which, I thought, was fine for a fun looking loaded little SUV. But this version costs $29 065.
Which I think is way too much for what it is. Sure, there is plenty of power, but it is delivered in such a crude way, it is very hard to manage.
The Mini Countryman S isn’t that much more expensive. As it starts at around $27 000.
And about $4000 more if you load it up like the Juke SL AWD I drove. The Mini has an upscale look and feel that the Juke cannot even dream of.

I still like the Juke. Just not for almost $30 000. 

I knew it reminded me of something, you just wasn’t sure what...

2015/16/17/18/19??? Alfa-Romeo SUV

Who knows when Alfa will really come back to the US. The C4 is supposed to land here before the end of the year.
After that, no one really knows. There are even recent rumors about Alfa switching everything to RWD. Which would take some time...

But... Their small SUV might still be on track. As it is supposed to be based on the same platform as the new Cherokee.
So there might be some hope.

Although it would be sad if this ends up being the 1st popular Alfa in the US (The C4 will be pretty limited) An SUV....

2015 Hyundai Sonata

At first, it looks like a slightly modified version of the current one.
With chrome around the windows.

But that front end is very different. Very much like the next Genesis.
And, the current model came out in 2009. So in about a year, it'll be time for an all new one. Not just a small refresh.

No matter what, it looks like another good looking mid sized sedan coming our way.

Cadillac ATS-V?

Seems that now, Cadillac does offer a new "Vsport" model in the 2014 XTS and the new CTS.
Which is not a proper "V" model, since it doesn't come with a V8, but the new V6 turbo instead.

So this picture might be an ATS Vsport. Who knows.

I am actually not sure why they would even offer a big V8 in the ATS. Since the new V6 Turbo is already producing over 400hp.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cadillac ATS Coupe?

Who knows. It could just be one of many studies they did.

But the upcoming ATS Coupe will be the only non electric 2 door model from Cadillac for a while.
As there will be no new version of the CTS Coupe, which is too bad.

Monday, July 29, 2013

2014/15 Nissan Versa?

This is what the Versa will look like for the next year. In China, where they call it Sunny.

Not sure if the new face will come over to the US or not.
But it's not really an improvement... 

2015 Toyota Prius

A new Prius is on its way. Sometime next year.

And his illustration looks pretty realistic. Toyota won't come up with anything too different from the super popular current design.

Expect better mileage, more power etc... You know, the usual...

2014 BMW i3 interior

What a blend of retro and futuristic. I never expected so much style from BMW.
But there it is.

The future is today...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

BMW i3 Video

Looking good to me.

Finally, something futuristic from BMW.
I think it's a really goos idea. And so far, priced right. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Unsafe cars in Latin America

Most cars sold by Nissan, Renault, GM etc... sold in latin America countries are actually based on older 90's models.
Like the local Nissan Tsuru, which is based on a Sentra from a few generations ago.
These cars are also sold without airbags.
Although from these crash test videos, it looks like airbags wouldn't be enough to make these cars safe.

This is the result published by Latin NCAP a few days ago.
Pretty scary for a car sold in 2013. These all get 0 star.

Compared to the Seat Leon which gets 5 stars. Same results as in European tests.
So it can be done. You CAN sell a safe car in South America and make a profit.

What a shameful way for Nissan, Suzuki and GM to save a buck....

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mini Vision Concept: Not the next Mini

Not even close.

From what we've seen in the spy shots published around the web just a few weeks ago, the next Mini is quite different.
The rear lights, rear hatch/bumper, hidden C-pillar, front grille and bumper etc... All these concept elements are not in the production car.
As for the interior, it is 100% concept.
Although you would think that after 3 generations of the "new" Mini, it would look at least that modern by now.
But no... It won't. At all.

I am not sure what they chose to show a concept that has nothing, or almost, to do with their production model that is just around the corner.


Great news for the 2014 Chevrolet Impala

It got excellent scores in recent crash tests.

And an amazing review from Consumer Report.
Sure, I ofter don't agree with them. And car site readers love to hate Consumer Report...

But in this case, I do agree.
The new Impala IS an excellent car.

Mystery car

Something else I cannot figure out. (Besides how to get back on

This looks to be taken in the US. Looks like an SUV, but quite sporty and low.
Any ideas???

Not all Hondas have to be ugly: Honda Jade

This is almost weird. A Honda designed for the Chinese market, that looks pretty good.
And it really looks like it would make a great Civic Wagon over here!

After the Chinese looking 2014 Fit, this is quite a surprise.

I remember back when the Civic used to come in many interesting flavors. Hatchback, wagon, CRX, Del Sol etc...
Now all we get is a super boring sedan and an "almost as boring" 2 door coupe...

2014 Toyota Harrier.

Toyota is getting the Harrier back. In Japan only.

The Harrier used to be sold in the US as the Lexus RX. But the RX became a Lexus only product for the 3rd and current generation. So the Harrier disappeared in 2009.

From these pictures, it looks like Toyota has decided to come up with a Toyota version of the current RX after all...
Which means, no 4th generation RX for a while...

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

2014 VW Taigun

 These are patent designs from the production version of VW's upcoming Up! based crossover.
Apparently, VW has decided this would be too small for us, so the US won't get it.
Instead, we are getting a new model, larger but still smaller than the Tiguan, based on the next Polo.

Here is the concept we saw a while ago. The patent design seems to be almost the same.

Upcoming Compact Hyundai/Kia SUV?

Just another pic of the sub Santa Fe SUV.
Still, from the roofline, it looks more like a Kia than a Hyundai to me.

Chevrolet Impala 2.5 Liter Test Drive

 The new Impala is a great looking car in person. For some reason, many pictures do not reflect how good looking this car is in real life.
It is quite large, and isn’t trying to look any smaller.
The 19-inch wheels on my test car looked great (Part of a $1140 Premium audio & Sport wheels package)

It has plenty of personality and a strong presence. 
Until… You walk around to the back.
Where things look really generic. Which is just too bad. I think all Chevrolet cars should have round taillights anyway, and in this case, I think it would really help.

 The interior looks as good as the exterior. The doors feel very solid and heavy, like everything based on that platform (Lacrosse, Malibu, Regal)

Every plastic used is of high quality. (Almost no hard plastic here.)

The MyLink stereo & GPS system worked great, all the time. None of the frustration of the VW system. I had no problem playing anything from my phone.
The optional 11-speaker Bose stereo sounded great.

And the GPS requires only one line to type an address. A small detail, but it does make a difference. (As it is much more natural and intuitive.)

 While I am really not a fan of fake wood trim, it was actually almost OK in my test car. The trim was dark and looked fine in the black interior.

 The seats are some of the most comfortable I’ve tested in a long time. And they look really good.
The headrests especially, are some of the best around, with plenty of adjustment.

 The interior is full of very nice and interesting details. The brown stitching looks great everywhere it is used.
The hidden compartment behind the screen is actually large and very useful.

It is just a great place to spend time on the road.

 The back seat is huge. But visibility from the rear window is pretty bad. So the rear camera is a must. And it works great.

 The trunk, of course is pretty giant. And the rear seats fold down.

 The first thing I noticed while driving the Impala for the 1st time was how quiet it is.
I did test-drive the 4 Cylinder Lacrosse a couple of years ago, and though it was a bit busy at times.

But this newer 2.5 Liter version is amazingly smooth and quiet. At all times.
While 196hp is plenty for a 2.5 Liter engine, it doesn’t seem much for such a large car.
But in real life, it is just fine. There was always enough power for most needs.

 And the great 6-speed auto is always willing to downshift whenever you need. What a change from VWs DSG I was driving last week. Which seemed to just lock itself in 6th once you get on the freeway. And required a led foot to downshift.
This is never a problem in the Impala. And while the engine revs up, it is still smooth and quiet.

Sure, it is no V6. But you can still get one if you’d like for a bit over $1000 extra.

The steering also feels really nice and precise.

The suspension is a bit firm but always super smooth and comfortable. I think it strikes a perfect balance for this type of car.

While it is rated at 21 City and 31 Highway. I was never able to get 21 in the city.
My best number was 19. But I did get 32 on the freeway.

I really enjoyed spending a week with the new Impala. The car looks good inside and out. It has a reassuring quality feel to it.
It drives great and gets very good mileage.

As for the smaller engine. It is amazingly smooth and quiet and will fit the need of most buyers just fine.
But, it is only about $1000 less than the V6, which isn’t such a big difference. And from the official numbers, the penalty for the V6 is only 3MPG.
So you are actually not saving that much.

I guess I will just have to drive the V6 version soon and report on the difference…