Monday, January 31, 2022

New Lincoln Zephyr: in the flesh...

The new Lincon Zephyr was unveiled just a few weeks ago. But these are real-life pictures of the new sedan. Which seems to be a really nice-looking car.
I still think that a PHEV version of this with a good EV range could have been a nice offering for the North American market.
But who knows... It seems only full-electric cars have a fighting chance as sedans these days.

The interior is a bit much for my taste. A giant flat dash multiple screens isn't really an example of great design. It's just kind of lazy. And that's not even mentioning how distracting a full-width light show like this could be distracting at night.


2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6: new pix...

Every time we get a new photo of the upcoming 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6, we discover a bit more about the new electric car design.

Today we get a better look at the rear of the new Hyundai, and it almost raises more questions.
I can't really see the final shape of the trunk opening. I guess from under the rear window all the way down to that thick line in the bumper?
That huge wing under the window could still look really odd, awkward and a bit tacked on. 
And there's another smaller built-in spoiler below it. 
I mean, it could end up looking great when we see the final thing, but who knows. 
No matter what, it will be another case of "why isn't this a hatchback???"

Or maybe it's a cleverly camouflaged one?

No matter what the Ioniq 6 ends up looking like, it won't be as amazing as the Prophecy concept that inspired it.
 Not sure why they ditched the vertical lights on the production model.
And the wing actually looks OK there. The whole thing looks so refined. The prototype pictured above looks quite crude by comparison.

The prophecy also appeared to be a proper hatch. 



2023 Acura Integra Vs.2022 Honda Civic interior design : better pix...

The similarities (and differences) between the upcoming 2023 Acura Integra and the 2022 Honda Civic are even more obvious in these better photos of the future model.

You can tell where they tried to make the interior a bit more "Acura-like". At least on this A-Spec model, the seats look different from the Honda. And they do look more like what you'd find in an Acura.

The center console is basically the same as in the Civic 6 speed (the automatic has a different center armrest). Except for the piano black finish.

Only the top of the door panels has been redesigned for the Acura. Although still using the exact same door handles.

The dashboard is new, although using the exact same screen and AC control panel. And the steering wheel is exactly the same in both cars. Except for the contrasting stitching in the A-Spec model.

So speakers housings in the A-pillar are also exactly the same. 

Will these changes be enough to push buyers to spend a few thousand more for the Acura? As far as we've heard so far, they will both use the 1.5 Liter Turbo. It looks like the 2.0 Liter Turbo will not be available. And the same 6-speed manual transmission. A big improvement for Acura would be to ditch the CVT. But if they couldn't find the cash to redesign the steering wheel and AC controls, I seriously doubt they would spend the money on a new automatic...

Although, who knows? Maybe that's where all the budget went. Under the hood.

As I mentioned in a previous post, this is very unlike previous Integra/RSX models where everything you could see, inside and out, was different.


Sunday, January 30, 2022

Integra Vs.Civic: back in 2005...

After seeing early photos of the new 2023 Acura Integra interior, many were quite disappointed.
While others correctly pointed out the 2 cars were always very similar. Since the Integra/RSX was always an Acura version of the Honda Civic.

Still, they always had very different designs and interiors. The new Integra will have a different exterior design from the current Civic. But as we have seen, a lot of its interior will be the same as the Honda version.
Which was never the case before.
As an example, I dug out photos of the 2005 Civic and RSX above.
It's actually very hard to see any similarity. With the Acura looking very different and more upscale.
Just like it should be...


Saturday, January 29, 2022

2023 Acura Integra: a look inside...

It looks like the 2023 Acura Integra interior could be a letdown if you expected a brand new design. Or a nice surprise if you expected the Civic interior in an Acura body.

As it is a bit of a mix. In some ways it is different, but many parts are the same.

After my test drive of the hatchback version last week, I was expected the Acura to at least have a different, wider, and lower screen. Like other Acura models. From these new photos, it looks like it will use the exact same screen as the Honda. Same for the steering wheel.

The doors are also mostly the same. Even the door handles. The AC controls also look like they are just carried over from the Civic. The best news is that at least they will offer another interior color than "all black".

The Acura version will start at around $30 000, which is the price of a loaded Civic hatch Sport Touring. Not sure what will come standard in the Acura, but we've already seen that it won't offer a panoramic roof like other Acuras. Whatever stereo they put in there won't be that much better than the great 12 speaker Bose system in the Honda. The exact same drive train and a lot of similar interior bits.

I really love the idea of a new Integra. A "compact" 4 door hatch is so refreshing. I am just not sure it will be worth the extra over the already very good Honda...


Friday, January 28, 2022

New Subaru WRX wagon: not for us...

Subaru will be selling a wagon version of the all-new WRX sedan in Australia, and maybe some other markets.
But of course, not in the US.
If the "new" wagon looks familiar, it's because we've all seen it before (HERE)
It is basically the Japanese market 2021 Levorg.
You can really tell in the 4th photo these 2 cars are the same.

The interiors are also exactly the same. The bottom pic is the Levorg while the one above it is our US WRX.
Which means it would be quite easy to offer it here.

I think Subaru needs to give the Outback/Crosstrek treatment to this thing and bring it over.
Sure, it will be tacky and covered in cheapo looking black plastic trim all over. But at least, it'll be a cool wagon in-between the Crosstrek and Outback.
And just like these two, they can call it a crossover or even an SUV if they want to. Who cares.
The new WRX sedan already has tons of that plastic cladding. A little more on the wagon won't be that much worse...

I say: why not!


20?? Tesla Cybertruck: new spy shots...

This looks like the same prototype we saw a few days ago HERE

And it could be the only Cybertruck we see for a while. Since Elon has announced that Tesla will not release any new models in the year 2022. All these people who spent money reserving one will just have to wait even longer. Or get something with a real steering wheel, like a Ford F-150 EV, Rivian, or the Silverado EV.

That announcement also means no Semi this year either. (reservations for the Semi were $20 000!) Even though companies like Walmart and many others will have to wait. Or lose all that money.

But it is all very logical. Tesla has tons of orders for Model Y and 3 to fill out. These cars do need to be built and the new factories in Texas and Germany will help. But there is no room for anything else for a while. The smaller "Compact Tesla" is also on hold. That thing will be on the back burner for a long time. A big market in Europe that could be lost to many other manufacturers soon.

Once the Model Y and 3 are everywhere, (which is already the case in many places) will they still be something special? Will a $60 000 electric car with so so built quality and below-average interior be enough to keep tesla successful. Especially once almost all cars are EVs?

But no matter how long the Cybertruck is delayed, it will still look weird and futuristic when it finally comes out...


2023/34 Mitsubishi ASX: new teaser...

Remember the Mitsubishi ASX? Me neither...

The only new Mitsubishi we've seen in the past few years is the new Outlander. Apparently, this next-generation ASX will be based on  Renault platforms. Like all upcoming Mitsubishi models sold in Europe. 

Not sure yet if this will come over here as a replacement for the current ASX. (Which came out back in 2010!)

So far, it looks quite modern on this new teaser. But also, quite different from the Outlander design language. Actually quite the opposite of the super square and overdone look of its larger brother.

We'll see...


Thursday, January 27, 2022

2023/24 Nissan Micra: teasers...

After 6 years of the current generation, Nissan is showing us teaser photos of its replacement. (Which might or might not be called "Micra")
It will use Renault's new small EV platform that will be shared with the new R5 EV.
While the design is done in Japan. And the car will be produced in England.

Apparently, that new platform will be launched in 2024. So the car pictured above is still at least 2 years away.
It will be Nissan's cheapest SUV. Since we never had the Micra in the US, I doubt we will be getting this one.
In Europe, it looks like its main competition will be the upcoming small sub-compact VW EV based on the ID. Life concept we saw last year.


2023 VW ID.Buzz: a look inside...

These new pix almost show us the whole interior of the new VW.ID Buzz EV. Except for the dashboard. 
It will use the same screens as other ID models. But the rest of the interior is all-new.
And it looks like a lot of fun!
The roomy interior and flat floor could create a whole new generation of camper vans. 
The model pictured here is the shorter wheelbase 5 seat version. So far, the US is only scheduled to get the longer 3 rows model.
Which, I think, is another big mistake from VW...

More on this very soon.

2023/24 Hyundai Kona: new spy photos...

I had almost forgotten about the Hyundai Kona. And, of course, there will be a new generation coming soon.

I test drove the gas (HERE) and EV versions (HERE) a few years ago and was pretty impressed.
It is a nice little car and drives really well. Although the current interior is light years behind what Hyundai and Kia have been doing lately.
I have no doubt the next generation will fix that.

We don't know anything about the next Kona yet, but it's expected to use the same platform as the current one. Just like the 2023 Kia Niro does.
Specs will probably be improved. The current EV model is a great deal. Offering a 258 Miles range for $34 000. Basically taking over the Chevrolet Bolt market these days.

If they can lower the price a little bit more and even add range, the next generation could be quite a hit for Hyundai. Which will have to compete with the upcoming $30 000 Chevrolet Equinox EV soon.


ORA: Sticking it to VW...

It sure is taking a long time for VW to bring back the Beetle. Despite what they say, you know they will. 
And of course, it will be in a long while. And it will be electric. 
They will probably tease us with various concepts for many years before finally unveiling the real thing. 
Around 2035. Just like they did with the ID. Buzz.

For those of us who can't wait that long, there is an answer. From China.
We have seen this car before (HERE). But it seems these are photos of the real production model.
Which ends up looking like a distorted 4 door version of the original VW Bug.

Although, I really think it's not that bad. Sure, the headlights should really be round. (last year's concept did have round headlights) But the rest of the car would actually make a decent retro Beetle.

This is from a new brand called Ora. Wich is GreatWalls electric sub-brand. So this is obviously an EV.

We can't see much of the interior but it already looks way toned down from the concept as well.

I am sure VW would spend billions to make sure this is never sold here or in Europe. But I say bring it!
They had their chance! 
There has to be a market here for a cool inexpensive 4 door hatchback EV that looks like an old Beetle.


Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Morgan 3 wheeler: it lives!

While Morgan currently doesn't offer the 3 wheeler any more, it isn't dead yet.

They have just announced an all-new generation will be unveiled on February 24th. So far we only know power will come for a small Ford 3 cylinder engine. Which would be great.

From the official teaser above, it looks like it will retain its classic look. A fantastically weird car. One that was almost a featured character in Blake Edward's The Party in 1964:

2023 KIA Niro: US version caught on video...

The all-new generation 2023 Kia Niro was just caught testing in the US.
Not sure which version this is. The current model is offered as a Hybrid, PHEV, or pure EV.
All versions have been confirmed for the 2023 model.

All we know so far is about the Hybrid model Which will come with a 139 1.6 Liter engine. Which is the same as the current one. Although MPG should improve.

Let's hope both the PHEV and EV have improved specs. The current PHEV version only has 26 miles of electric range.
While the pure EV gets 239 miles> which would be OK if it wasn't priced at $40 000.
The price of the 2023 EV version should be much lower...

I think the new Niro looks really good in the video below. Sure, that C-pillar isn't for everyone. But I think the whole thing works and gives it tons of personality.

Thanks to a reader (Mike. S) for this!

Honda Civic Hatchback: test drive...

The new hatchback version of the 2022 Honda Civic is, in my opinion, the best-looking Honda in many years. At least in the US. While the sedan looks like a smaller Accord, this just looks like a new car.

The top of the line Sport Touring version I was driving comes with great-looking 18-inch wheels. Looking darker or lighter depending on the surrounding light.
The Sonic Grey is also a fantastic-looking color on the car.

As expected, the interior is the exact same as the sedan. Which means it is very roomy front and back.
With a great-looking "kind of retro" dashboard. 
Although git still lacks lumbar adjustments for the front seats and rear vents.
And the screen still doesn't belong to the rest of the interior design and looks like an afterthought.

But everything works well and feels nicely put together and very solid. The whole car does feel more expensive than it is. And that 12 speaker Bose sound system is the best I have heard for under $30 000.

Of course, the good-looking hatchback creates a large and convenient cargo area. Some people will even be able to camp and sleep inside the car. (if you are under 5"11)

I posted more details about the hatchback and cargo area HERE.

After driving the Touring Sedan equipped with the standard CVT I had serious issues with the transmission. It was hard to tell if the 1.5 Liter Turbo was to blame for some of the rough behavior or not. After spending almost a week with the 6-speed manual, I am happy to report the Turbo engine is just fine. The CVT is, of course, the main culprit.

With the manual, the new Civic is a much-improved car. The engine is almost always super smooth and quiet. It is quick with no delays. And the 6 speed is a joy to use. 
I do understand the vast majority of buyers are not even interested in driving a manual. But if you are OK with it, you will really enjoy the Civic at its full potential...
It is just too bad Honda doesn't offer a good automatic option on this car.

The 6 speed is available as a no-cost option on the Sport and Sport Touring models. While the LX and EX-L models only come with the CVT. (EX is only available with the sedan)

Besides the obvious difference in transmission, the driving experience is, of course, very similar to the sedan. 
Although, for some odd reason, I found the Sport Touring Hatchback a bit more comfortable.
I drove both cars on the same roads (including a road trip to Joshua Tree National Park) and thought the hatch version was a bit smoother and quieter. Maybe it was just because I was expecting more road noise or a harsher ride than I had experienced with the sedan?

The car was just very comfortable and road noise was never a problem. Except on some really noisy part of the horrible 10 freeway between L.A and Palm Springs. But that's with any car...

The Civic 1.5 Liter Hatch 6 speed is rated at 28/37 MPG.
My best number around town was 27. Or about the same as the CVT sedan I drove earlier.
But I easily got 48MPG on the freeway. Which is just a little bit less than the CVT.
Although both are much better than the official numbers. (For some odd reason?)

At $29 850 before destination, the 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring is easily one of the best cars you can get for the money.
If you like the way it looks, you will be hard-pressed to find anything wrong with it.
It drives great, feels as solid as a "compact" tank, and gets fantastic gas mileage. It is also about as convenient as a small crossover while looking and driving much better.

The only problem I had was a USB plug under the dash that didn't seem to work. 

 I would also miss the lack of interior color choice. At least in the Sport Touring that is only available with a leather black interior (not my favorite...)
I also wish for a larger sunroof. Especially in 2022.

This loaded version of the Civic actually made me think of the upcoming 2023 Acura Integra.
It will have the 1.5 Liter Turbo/6 speed combo standard. With a more upscale interior (And maybe a better-integrated screen?). 
And will start at under $30 000. It will be interesting to see if the Acura will be worth the few $1000s extra over the loaded Civic Hatch.
And let's hope the Integra offers a real automatic instead of the CVT.

For now, the new Honda Civic Hatchback is really one of the best choices out there. If you can find one...