Friday, January 31, 2014

Stuff we don't get: Chevrolet Cruze wagon

Yes, Chevrolet offers a wagon version of the Cruze in many other markets.
But not in the US.
Even though GM suits claim they wish they had a wagon here.

I think it looks fine, and would do great against the VW Jetta Sportwagen. Especially with the diesel.

Since Chevrolet won't be selling cars in Europe anymore, and the Cruze is due for a redesign next year, maybe we'll get the next generation here.

What do you think?

"All new" BMW 4 series Grand Coupe

Things are getting pretty bizarre at BMW.
1st they rename the 3 series coupe the 4 series. Now they have a sedan version of that coupe.
But it's NOT a 3 series. Still a 4.
No matter what they call it, it is Not a coupe. Since it has 4 doors.
It basically a better looking 3 series sedan. What the new 3 should have been all along. For a price premium...

Audi does much better with the A 5 4 door hatchback in Europe. Which after years, still looks better than any of the newer versions of the 3 and 4 series.
Now the "regular" 3 sedan looks really old and conservative next to the new model.

Dodge Journey Crossroad

Chrysler feels they need to give Dodge "something" for the upcoming Chicago Auto show.
Since there are no new models coming up any time soon, they came up with an off road look option for the aging Journey.
It doesn't look too bad. Although I think they should have done even more. Like something around the wheel arches.
And black wheels are always a bad idea. (In my opinion)

This will start at $25 000. But the V6 is still an option.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mercedes V-Class

Basically, a new version of the old Viano.
Which has been used in Europe as a cargo van as well as V.I.P/hotel/airport shuttle.

The new one (Now called V-Class) seems to be pushing the luxury card even more.

It looks just OK. Without the Mercedes grille, it could be anything. From a few years ago.
But the interior looks really good. A lot like the new C-Class.

Not sure yet is Mercedes will sell this in the US or not.

What do you think/ Would they be a market for a luxury "not-so-mini-Van" over here?

Buick Cascada?

buick cascada opel 2014 2015 prototype spy shot
Not sure but this looks like it could deb a Buick version of the Opel Cascada.
I was told the picture was taken in the US.

A Buick version of the Cascada convertible makes total sense to me.
The Chrysler 200 is pretty much alone in that segment. And it is old and basically a rental model only now.
Not sure if Chrysler is working on a replacement or not, but since we haven't seen any prototypes around, if would still be years away.
This is ready to go now.

There must be a market for a roomy, good looking 4 seater convertible that isn't a $50 000 BMW or Audi.

All new 2015 Subaru Legacy coming up

 This is the 1st official teaser for he new Legacy.
And it does look quite nice. I remember dismissing the concept we saw a while ago as "just another design they'll never produce". But it looks like I was wrong.
(Which only happens once every 38 years)
 This is sit concept. Sure the production car above is a bit toned down, but not too much.

And this is the current one.
Looking really old and tall next to what is coming up.

Subaru has been on a sale growth lately. Selling over 336 000 units in 2012, about 400 000 in 2013.
And hopping for 500 000 for 2015.

Making good cars might not be enough anymore.
A good looking mid sized sedan will help a lot.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Kia K900 price

The big luxury K900 will start at $60 400 in the US.
A $6000 VIP package is also available.
This price is for the 420hp V8 model. The cheaper V6 will be priced at a later date.

Quite a bold move for Kia to release the more expensive model first.
I know that's what most luxury manufacturers will do. But Kia is not there yet.

I guess they really believe they have something here.

After sitting in the car myself, I was actually impressed.
Although not sure if I was $60 000 impressed.

The main problem, to me, is that it looks too much like the smaller/cheaper Cadenza.
(Or is it really a problem since everyone else seems to be doing it...)

Not sure what exactly they see as competition. Since BMW and Mercedes buyers will never consider anything else.
And the Audi A8 has a great luxury image Kia can't touch.

Is this the new Town Car? And why can't Lincoln make something like that?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

2015 Lexus NX

This is what they were showing on a big screen behind Toyota's CEO Jim Lentz during a presentation.

It obviously is NOT the nightmarish LF-NX Concept we saw before. (That one is the bottom pic)
It does look like a production version of it. And much, much better than the concept.

Will be powered by an all new 2.0 Liter Turbo engine.

GM Mule testing. Next Buick Lacrosse?

I say GM because there seems to be a lot of Insignia/Regal in here. But not quite.
It seems longer. And a bit different.

My best guess is an early prototype for the next LaCrosse.

Any other ideas???

Buick Regal GS AWD Automatic Test Drive

 I have driven the Regal GS last year.
And was very impressed by it.
This time, I got to spend a few days with an AWD version. And this one was also was an automatic.
(Which I assume is a more popular choice.)

I think the Regal/Opel Insignia is a great design. It still looks modern and fresh to me.
(actually as good or better than the new Chrysler 200)

 Most of the interior is still the same. Most changes are around the console area. And it is now even better than before.
The fit and finish is as good as it gets. Everything is super solid and material used everywhere are of high quality.
The Bose stereo of my test car sounds great. The seats are super comfortable and very supportive.
Quite a high quality place to spend some time.

Although the back seat isn't as roomy as other mid sized sedans out there. A problem it shared with the pre-2014 Malibu.

The 2.0 Liter engine is, as always, super smooth and powerful. (VW should take a lesson on how to make a smooth 2.0 Liter Turbo engine. With more power.)
It is rated at 19/27 MPG.
I did get 19 in the city, (but you have to drive it like a Prius.)
And I had no problem getting 31 HWY.

The steering feels very good, and a bit firm. As it should be in a sportier version.
But I must say, still not as perfect as the Fusion 2.0 Liter.

There is still a Sport button on top of the console.
As just like before, it doesn't change a thing. It is really weird that they even offer it.
Suspension, steering and transmission behave exactly the same either way...

There was almost zero torque steer with the FWD model I drove last year. And of course, there is none whatsoever with tis AWD model.
The car always feels very secure and safe to drive.

Now for the 6 speed auto.
 It is mostly very smooth. And a perfect companion for HWY driving.

 But it does always reach for the higher gear. Which becomes annoying in fun canyon roads. Where you have to push it into downshifting most of the time.
Sure, you can use the "fake manual" which actually works really well and fixes the problem.
But I just wished they had a simple S mode that could hold the gears a little longer.
And paddle shifts are missing. (For once they could be really useful)

Otherwise, I think the Regal is a fantastic car.
the last one I drove had a weird USB problem where it couldn't recognize most playlists on my phone.
GM's new IntelliLink is as good as it can be. And there are no problems to report.

The Regal is a great driving car. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a really good upscale sedan with German road manners.

But it isn't cheap.
It starts at around $30 600. The GS model at $37 800.
My test car had about every single option and was $44 275.
Which seems pretty high.
Until I priced an Audi A4 with similar equipment, at above $48 000.

The main problem might still be Buick's image. Which is not in the same league as Audi's.
(The Regal name doesn't help either).

I will try to get a "regular", non GS model to drive soon. As I think it might be a batter deal. Since both cars use the same engine.
I hope more and more people keep an open mind and give the Regal a chance.
As it is truly a great car.

Superbowl ads.

I really like the Kia900 one.
I think it is a clever way to make a point. The exact point they need to make.

On the other hand, the VW one is actually pretty gutsy. Advertising reliability for a brand known to be quite unreliable...

2014 VW Polo

 The current generation is almost 5 years old. And VW has decided to offer a few changes for 2014, not an all new car.
The current car still looks really good, and the new front and slightly revised interior might just do fine for the next couple of years.

Someone at VW US had mentioned last year that we would be getting the "next one" here.
This year's changes mean an all new Polo is now at least 2 years away...

This is the current model. As you can see, not much is new for 2014.
A pretty lazy job after 5 years...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Some more pictures of the new Honda Vezel

Or the new "Fit SUV".

I think it looks better than the new Fit actually. But still... (What doesn't)

Look at this. Way too many lines. Everywhere.

If it looks like a Chinese design, it's because China is now everybody's largest market.
And Honda's new priority. Not the US anymore.

So get ready for many more Chinese looking Hondas. And others....

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fiat 500X

 The X is an SUV looking version of the 500.
And just like the 500L, this is not really a true Fiat 500.
It is based on a different, larger platform. All it gets from the 500 is that front end with the round headlights.

But, this one could be interesting.
As I do like the idea of a larger 500 like the L. I think the L's proportions are quite ungainly in real life. It's trying too hard. Wheels to small etc...

This already looks much better. And also could prove quite popular in our market.
It looks ready to me.
I guess they will show it at the Geneva Auto Show very soon.

Here, it will compete mostly with the Nissan Juke and Buick Encore.
At prices comparable to the Juke.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

VW Tiguan Test Drive

 I have been interested in trying out the Tiguan for a while. And I finally got one last week.
The new(ish) R version.

The 1st thing I noticed was how good it looks. It came out almost 7 years ago! (with a refresh for 2012)
Which is quite amazing.
I think it still looks better than many other small Crossovers (especially the sad/cheap looking Mazda CX-5...)

The big 19 inch wheels of the R version add some aggressiveness to the cute shape.
 Inside, the 7 year old design is also still holding up quite well. Things are simple and attractive. And almost every plastic surface is covered in soft touch, expensive looking material.
No "new Jetta cost cutting" here...

 The back seat is pretty roomy. Especially considering the car is almost a foot shorter than the Jetta.
 One of the best features, that some of the competition still doesn't offer, is the panoramic roof. The front section does open all the way too.
 It wouldn't be a VW without some weird stuff. Like this row of fake buttons. You know, the ones that remind you that you didn't get all the options (even at over $37 000!)
 There is very little space for storage under the armrest. Like most VWs.
 The truck is surprisingly big.
If you read this site, you might know that I am really not aran of VW's 2.0 Liter Turbo engine.
And the Tiguan didn't make me change my mind.

Just like other VW models with the same engine,  you are welcomed by that rattly diesel sound. Except, this is NOT a diesel.

I've heard the excuse about it being a "Direct Injection" engine.
Which is pure BS since GM and Ford (among others) offer super smooth 2.0 Liter Turbo engines, also with DI.
But, also as usual, I did get used to it over time. After a while, you kind of give up.
And realize that it is very fast and fun to drive.

The steering is much too light. (although precise) With almost zero feeling. In a weird un-German way.
The suspension on the R model is too hard. (Which, is really not a good combo with the light steering.)

Once you get going, things are really quiet inside.
As I said, it handles well and the engine has plenty of power, all the time.

It is rated at 21/26 City/Hwy
I got around 22 in the city. But had no problem averaging 30MPG on the highway.

So basically, I would recommend the Tiguan.
It looks good and is fun to drive. Sure the steering could be better. But most small SUVs suck in that department anyway....

But stay away from the grossly overpriced R version.
You can basically get the same car, minus the big wheels, sport suspension  and other details for $5000 less.
Which makes it still expensive, but pretty much in line with loaded versions of the CRV or RAV4 crowd.

2014 VW Beetle 1.8Turbo price

Looks like the Beetle is the last VW US model to get the new 1.8 Liter.
It has already replaced the 2.5 Liter in the Jetta and Passat.

The 5 speed manual will start at $20 295. While the 6 speed auto is $1100 more.
That base price is pretty much BS since it is basically impossible to find a manual Beetle anywhere.
(I've tried for a friend, who ended up ordering one)

The convertible starts at $25 170. (automatic only)

VW is quick to mention that these are the same prices as the "old" 2.5 Liter model.
(But they had already bumped the price up for the 2014 model by $300 a few months ago...)

City mileage improves from 22 to 25. Hwy from 29 to 33. (All models with the new engine also get a new electric power steering.)
Which is nice, but not amazing (although normal driving usually gets better number with VWs)

I will be driving a Jetta with this new engine in a few weeks.
Everyone seems to praise the new 1.8Turbo. Even suggesting it might be the best choice for the Beetle.

We'll see...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

More pictures of the 2015 Lincoln Navigator

As you can see, it is hardly new. Basically the same body it has had for so long now.

With a new front end and interior every few years. This time it is getting a new engine as well.
A 3.5 Lier V6 Turbo with 365HP. (About 55 less than the 2015 Escalade)
Of course, MPG should be better than the Escalade.
But do people who buy these things really care? I don't think so.

Interior is also a rehash of the same theme. So even if it is, it doesn't feel new.
Look at the little door lock switch at the left of the interior pic. It's been a while since I've seen this.
Especially for this price.

I am not sure who this is for, really. There is nothing here that would make Escalade owners switch.
And if you don't like or want a giant truck based SUV, this isn't going to change your mind.

I guess they didn't invest too much in this, so maybe they're not expecting much...