Saturday, January 30, 2016

Something you don't see every day...

A good old little Mitsubishi Space Gear, in Malibu.

A right hand drive model with Canadian plates (?)
A a diesel engine.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Chevrolet Spark Test Drive

 I did drive the previous Spark before. I think about 3 years ago. And I did like it.
At the time, my test car was a manual, which added to the fun.

This time, I got the all new version with an Automatic CVT.

As far as the new design is concern, I am not a huge fan.
Sure, it is still cute. But not as much as the original. It is also much more mainstream. More generic looking.
And that big front grille doesn't really belong on this cute tiny thing.

 Inside, it is also less original.
But more upscale, and grown up. Everything feels better and a step above the previous version.

The main feature, for me, was Apple Carplay. Which I have been eager to try for a while.
It mostly works well. Except for a few small things.
At first, it had trouble matching playlists from my iPhone6. But that resolved itself quickly.

It is also supposed to read your text messages. A great/safe feature, so you don't (and can't) get distracted by reading them on the center screen.
But the only choice it would give me (most of the time) was to answer to a text I had just received. Without reading the original one first.
Which was useless.

And, for some reason, the stereo system had a lot less bass when the songs went through Carplay.
It sounded much better when read through the regular MyLink system.
Otherwise, it is great to be able to use the Map you are already used to on your phone.

So a few bugs, but nothing bad. I would still really be interested in getting this in a car.

 My test car had the sunroof option, and it was great.
A really large one, set ahead of the driver so you can really enjoy it.
(Unlike so many other cars where the sunroof is so far back it is useless for the front passengers)

Of course, being a tiny car, rear leg room isn't fantastic. But it is really fine.

 Same thing for the trunk. There is room for some stuff back there. Even with the rear seat up.

The Spark is surprisingly refined and quiet.
Much more so than most other subcompacts on the market.
The engine is always quiet and very smooth. And the car feels pretty light but solid while driving.
(Although the doors have that tiny sound when you close them...)

Poer is just fine. I actually never excepted or needed more. It even felt quite zippy around town.
And with 3 adults on board, things were even fine on the freeway.
The CVT does a good job at being smooth and responsive enough. It is after all a 98HP car...

It is rated at 31City and 41Hwy. During my week I observed 35 in the city and over 42 on the freeway.
I really liked driving the Spark.

Nice features, like the availability of a sunroof and CarPlay, are a plus.
It drives very nicely and is quieter than most cars in its price range.

The design is, as they say, a matter of taste.
But I do miss that previous version look...

2017 Buick Verano

Well, at least the one for the Chinese market.

Not sure yet if GM will pull a "2016 Cruze" on us and design a specific car for the US.
At least, the grille should be different, since our new Lacrosse has a new design. One that matches the Opel grille better. (So it's now even easier than ever to sell Opels as Buicks in the US)

The interior looks like a small 2017 Lacrosse. And its fine. 
It looks quite upscale in a smaller car actually.

The Verano doesn't compete with amazing stuff here. Mostly the Acura ILX, with its so so interior.
And the Audi A3, with an also average interior. (But with a much better luxury car image)

 Still, the current Verano is a very nice driving car. The next one should be even better.

Since it's not a super hot seller in the US, I suspect this is pretty much what we're getting here later this year.
At least it might be built here, right? Right?

Here are the 2 Cruzes.
The white one is the Chinese model.

Amazing how different they are, really. Makes you even wonder why...

2017 Fiat Punto

So it looks like Marchionne is not killing Fiat. (Just Chrysler and Dodge...)

There is finally a new Punto coming up. The current model (The green one) has been out since 2005!
And still looks fine. (That's what a good, simple Italian design does: it lasts)

The interesting thing in these pictures? They were taken in the US.
(Obviously, with the new Chevrolet Spark on the same train)

So, does it mean the next Punto will be added to Fiat's US line up?
It doesn't have the 500 round headlights, so they can't call it "500 Something".

I think it would be nice to see more Fiat models in the US.
Why not.

But let's just hope it doesn't mean killing Chrysler. Or selling it off to a Chinese company...

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Is Sergio Marchionne killing Chrysler?

I like Fiat.
I really like Chrysler. (Poor old Chrysler. You have to feel bad.)
After a string of dead beat owners, they now have this guy...

His recent comment sound like bad news to me.

First, he's been trying to force some stupid alliance with GM. Over and over.
Even after they said "no way" repeatedly .

Then, just a few days ago, he blamed the designers (The designers!!!) for the Chrysler 200 inability to get a "recommended" rating from Consumer Reports.
By saying :"The Sonata has a similar problem (rear seat entry), we copied the entry point of the rear seat, dummies"
Therefore insulting both Chrysler and Hyundai designers.
So I guess he, the big boss, had nothing to say about it while it was being designed, tested, re-tested.  Checked, re-checked.... He just wasn't around...

Now he is also "realigning" the North American production capacity.
Which means more (only?) pick ups and SUVs, and killing the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200.

The Dart has been poorly received since it came out.
But not the 200.
He also keeps saying crazy stuff, like he's going to find a "partner" to produce these 2 models. (The ones he is canceling??) Where? Who?
Does that mean we will be getting Darts and 200s from China soon?
(The assembly line where the 200 is built will soon being converted to built pick up trucks.)

So basically, he is giving up on cars all together. Since we hear nothing about a new Chrysler 300.
And he is killing the 200 and won't be replacing it.
Soon Chrysler will only have one model: The new pacifica Minivan.
And Dodge will basically have nothing.

Amazing how pretty much everyone else has now figured out how to generate money from successful compact and mid sized sedans .The market is far from dead.
(Camry, Accord, Fusion, Sonata, Optima, Civic, Corolla, Focus, Elantra etc...)

It looks like he is trying to kill both Chrysler and Dodge and put everything into Jeep and Ram trucks.
Which is really sad...

As for the "always late' Alfa Romeo return to the US?
After all these promises of an all new full line up, now we get more bad news.
Although the Giulia will go in production in a couple of months (I guess it was too late to kill it), it won't be joined by the larger sedan they were talking about any time soon.
Instead, we'll get even more SUVs. One in 2017. And more later.

So basically, Chrysler's future is trucks, trucks, trucks. And probably NO Chrysler.

Sorry about the rant.
Marchionne might actually be a nice guy to have a beer with. But his short term vision for this great old company is a disaster.

Claiming that low fuel prices are "permanent" is idiotic.
He also uses the word "permanent" to describe the "shift towards SUVs and pick-ups".
If there is one thing car companies need to learn from the past, is that trends do not last forever.
Putting ALL your eggs in the same basket is a huge mistake.

Someone with such short sighted thinking should never run a car company.
Or anything else.

One more time, Chrysler is on the verge of death.... Because of one guy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Opel GT Concept

From the teaser video we saw just a few days ago, I was expecting "Opel is reinventing itself". And "don't miss what happens next".
Well, that GT Concept is not happening next, I can tell you that much.

There are some interesting things here, for sure. Like the colored windows on the outside, the way the door opens .
But red tires? Really? And that grille where there shouldn't be one.

This is pretty disappointing. Not because it is not a cool design. But because it's pretty much a goofball of a car. Something we will never ever see.
And I can't really imagine this inspiring any future models for Opel.

2017 Porsche 718 Boxster

 For the new year, Porsche is replacing the Boxster convertible with a new model called the "718 Boxster".
It is not an all new car, as you can see (The current model is in blue. The new one on top)
It now just looks a little bit sharper, and still great.

 Same thing from the back. I really liked the rear view of the current Boxster with that cool line going across from one light to the other.
But I also like the new one. At least on these pictures.
I think it does give a much more modern look to the car.
Really well done...

Not that much has changed inside, but it's all for the best.
The new trim seems more upscale. And the round vents and new steering wheel look much nicer.

The car itself has new engines. Flat 4 cylinder turbos for all.
One 2.0 liter with 300HP for the Boxster.
While the Boxster S gets a larger 2.5 Liter with 350HP.

And a 6 speed manual is still standard.

The new 718 Boxster comes out late April in Europe and June in the US.
It will start at $56 000. Or about $4000 more than the outgoing "Regular" Boxster

Better pictures of the Cadillac CT6?

Some reviews are already in (mostly really good)
And with them, come new pictures of the large Cadillac sedan for 2016.

I must say, it does look better in dark. With the light interior. And that more convincing wood on the dash and console.

The car I sat in at the Los Angeles Auto Show was ll white. And the interior was pretty horrible.
But it had that weird "carbon fiber wannabe" finish.

So I have to admit, this is so much better.
But it still starts at around $54 000. Which, in their mind I guess, means you get a larger car for E Class money.
The problem is, you're not getting any of the prestige.

I think its main competition might very well be coming from the new Genesis G90.
Which will have similar pricing and lack of prestige.

This might be a great car, I'm not saying.
It's just weirdly sized and priced (In between E and S class)

Monday, January 25, 2016

Mazda CX-4

Which might also be called the CX-6 or CX-7.

Although I have heard it is mostly based on the Mazda3. So CX-4 would make more sense.
And, who really cares what it is called anyway.

It just looks like another great looking Mazda on the way.

Volvo S90L

Because, China.
Where long wheelbase versions of sedans (and pretty much everything else) are very popular.
So, of course, there will be a long version of the new S90. About 4 inches longer.

Not sure if we will se this here or not. But it's not impossible.
Since we are already getting the long version of the S60.
Which is the only Volvo sold in the US that is made in China.
It would be the same thing with the S90L.

So the poor Cadillac CT6 Hybrid wouldn't be the only Chinese made large sedan in the US...

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Something you don't see every day...

At least not yet.

Saw my first Model X last week and I thought: "Why don't I take a picture of that and put it on my  car site?".

So there. Why not?

Nissan Maxima Test Drive

 First, let me say that I am a fan of the new Maxima Design. It is not for everyone (but what is...)
And I do like that. It is good to see someone taking a few chances here and there.

I guess Nissan figured they could grab a few buyers who want something a bit different and more daring in a 4 door sedan.
And I think it works. The new Maxima looks great in person.
And, it does look more upscale than the Altima. Which is the point, since both cars are about the same size.
Which does put the Maxima in that weird position it has been ever since the Altima grew into a larger car, years ago.

 Same thing inside, it is much more upscale than the Altima. Everything seems thicker and heavier.
Even the doors.

The model I drove for a week was a loaded Platinum version.
Which included pretty much everything you can possibly want in a car.

The seats look a feel great. (Although the front headrests are placed a bit too far back for long trips)
The Bose stereo sounded very good. If not very loud (A common issue with Bose car systems)

I do think they could have toned down the stitching on the dash. There is just too much of it.
(Something I also noticed at the Auto show with another Nissan product:the new Infiniti QX30)
 And the wood trim isn't very convincing. It also has a weird crosshatch shape built into it.
Not sure whose bright idea that was... But it looks pretty bad. And cheesy. (Even if, I guess, it is supposed to match the "Diamond Quilted leather inserts" of the seats)
 The Around View monitor is always an amazing feature. Now available in every Nissan models.
It is still one of the very best systems around.
 The Maxima is a great driving car.

It feels solid and heavy (in  good way). And really fast. Faster than most people will ever need, really.
I never felt any problem associated with torque steer, unlike Maximas from a few generations ago...

It is quiet, but not "Lexus Quiet". It is more on the sporty side of the spectrum.
Which is just fine since there are plenty of soft/super quiet sedans around.
Again, this is a bit different.

The suspension is comfortable, and slightly firm. The steering is much better than other Nissan models. And the Sport mode really does make a difference. Mostly with the steering which becomes quite a bit firmer.

The Maxima is rated at 22City and 30HWY.
I did get 22 in the city and topped around 34/35 on the freeway.
Which is really good for a 300HP car with a large 3.5 Liter V6.

The CVT works great. Much  more responsive than most "regular" automatics out there.
A rush of power is practically instant when you call for it.
It really works great. (All the internet 12 year old trolls who hate CVTs in the Maxima have obviously never driven one.)

I would really recommend the Maxima. For those who want a little more fun when driving a large sedan.
My test car was $39 860. Fully loaded. (It starts at $ 33 345  for a "base" model, which still has the great V6)

It is not cheap, but really not that bad when compared to other large sedans:

-A loaded Acura TLX is $40 315.
-A loaded Chevrolet Impala is $40 130
-A loaded Hyundai Azera is $40 195
-A Toyota Avalon Limited is $41 285

So all these large FWD sedans are priced around the same when loaded.
But is it different enough from a loaded Altima? (Which would be around $35 000)

Well, it is. Both cars rare about the same size and use the same V6.
But the Maxima does have a real premium feel the Altima doesn't.
Especially inside. It feels and looks more like a premium sporty sedan than a family car.

But I guess, Nissan could still make both cars more different.
A luxury hatch like the Audi A7 would be great.

But I really think a full EV would be the best. Something that gets around 250 miles per charge and would cost around $40 000 after incentives would be the perfect way to separate the Maxima from the Altima.
It would be larger than the Tesla Model III but a bit smaller than the S.

I think it would be the perfect 21st Century Maxima.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


These are pictures of a Japanese version of the all new 2016 Toyota Prius.
So I am not sure if this particular color is available in the US or not.

Still... Just look at this mess.

I have to say, I am not anti Prius. At all. I actually liked the design of the previous version.
(And I like colors. It's actually sad to see our streets filled with grey/black/white cars.)
I also have many friends who drive them, and, good for them, are very happy.
( I must say that all these people have one thing in common: they all hate driving)

The problem is how ugly the new one is. And it always surprises me when I see new pix.
Above all, that horrible color does nothing to help. It's almost a joke at this point.
A really bad joke from hell.

As I mentioned before, I actually sat in it. And it is even worse in person. Since the plastics are all pretty hard and cheap.
(For a car that isn't that cheap)

There are no excuses, in 2016, for a main stream car design to look like this.