Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Interesting 2012 Beetle wheel designs

The 17 inch "Circle" and 18 inch "Disc" design both bring a bit of a retro touch to the redesigned Beetle.
(especially the smaller Circle ones)

Interesting choices for those who truly want to drive a car that reminds them of the original model.

I saw the Disc models on the convertible I saw last year, and they really look quite original, with the center part being chrome.

2013 Ford Taurus.

Wait, what? 2013???

Not sure why they would release this so early. What happened to 2012?

The changes don't really improve the car.
I test drove the Taurus last year and wasn't very impressed at all in the 1st place.
The car didn't feel as fast as it should, and it felt pretty cheap in many places. the doors especially felt like I was driving a $12000 car.
The Buick LaCrosse is superior in every way.

Not the SHO version has a weird open gap of a mouth that doesn't look good at all.

The big news is the availability of the 2.0 Liter Turbo as an option. Which could help MPG numbers.


Citroen DS5 Video

What a production car can look like in the 21st Century...

Subaru should take a clue from these guys.

Infiniti JX

Infiniti is basically getting ready to compete with the Audi Q7.
This all new Crossover will be able to seat 7.
Not sure yet what it is based on ( A good bet is the G sedan, like most of their cars).
But it might come with engines ranging from 2.0 Liters to 3.0 Liters.
(From names they have already trademarked earlier).
Which means, it wouldn't be that large.

We'll see a concept version within days, and the production model this fall.

Subaru XV Concept

take away the few Concept bits, and what you've got here is the Outback version of the next Impreza Hatchback.

Which is a bit sad, really.

The sedan they showed us a few days ago is very boring. And this, while being a bit better, doesn't seem to be able to blend the general blockiness of the car with the more rounded shape of a hatchback.

Quite a mess.

The interior seems light years away from the super cheap looking one in the current version though...

2012 Nissan Versa/Tiida

With its new design, we can finally welcome the Versa to the 21st Century.
Some markets will get the 188 engine from the Juke.
Not sure yet what the US Versa will be getting under the hood. But it should be similar to the familiar 108hp it is getting now.

This makes the Sentra look even older.

Monday, April 18, 2011

2012 Honda Civic arrives at dealers

I really can't see the improvement over the previous model.
No matter how many pictures I see of the new one.

A blocky, cheaper looking version of the 2011 model is all I can see.

Maybe it just looks amazing in person. Who knows....

Volvo Concept Universe

It does look quite disturbing at first.
Especially from the front.

Which could be a good thing. At least it looks different.

The rest of the car seems to be flowing much better.

Some people at Volvo would like to see a large sedan competing with the S Class and 7 series. Mainly the Chinese owners.
While the new CEO has denied such a car is coming soon.

We'll see who wins....
Inside, it offers nothing new besides the usual "everything looks like it's floating" concept interiors.

2013 Chevrolet Malibu

After all this time, we finally get to see the whole thing.
Looking pretty nice, but I still like the design of the current car better. Like I said before.

The interior does seem much more upscale and modern. Although I am never a fan of wood trim, and these pictures show too much of it.
Maybe other versions (This seems like the LTZ) do without the cheezy stuff.

This looks ready to compete with the best.
But new Accord and especially Camry are around the corner.

Here are some of the official words from GM:

"All-new exterior designed to stand out around the world

All-new, dual-cockpit interior with more room, more quietness, more premium materials and content, and greater craftsmanship

All-new, fuel-efficient, 2.5L four-cylinder Ecotec engine with next-generation six-speed automatic powertrain

All-new ride and handling package engineered for best-in-class performance

An all-new Ecotec 2.5L dual overhead cam, four-cylinder engine with direct injection leads Malibu's engine lineup in North America. It is expected to be one of the most efficient of its size in the market. New features include enhanced authority continuously variable valve timing, variable-displacement oil pump and electronic thermostat that save fuel, while delivering V-6-like performance. It is estimated the engine will be SAE-certified at more than 190 horsepower (141 kW) and 180 lb.-ft. of torque (245 Nm). The new engine has noise-reducing features such as a cast exhaust manifold, steel crank, low-noise timing chain and direct mount accessories that contribute to a quiet-cabin experience."

2012 Kia Rio Sedan

Shown here just a bit ahead of its official reveal from the Shanghai auto show.
And again, it doesn't look related to the 5 door hatch that came out in Europe a few weeks ago.

Not sure why. Or maybe this is an exclusive model to the Chinese market.
Who knows...

Buick Envision Concept

This is obviously a pure concept we'll never see on the road.
But the general shape is supposed to preview an upcoming smaller Buick Crossover.
Which could turn out looking pretty nice. Depending on how much they tone down the design.

2012 Citroen DS5

Quite a pretty dramatic deign.
Maybe overdone for some.

But after all, this is a Citroen, so it should be a bit crazy.

Just like Subaru should....

2012 VW Beetle.

It's finally here and looking really good.
Different enough from the current model, and still a Beetle.

I think VW did a great job updating the retro futuristic design.
Something Chrysler never had the guts (or the money) to do with the PT cruiser.

It will be available with a Diesel engine as well as the 2.0 Turbo.
Base engine for the US should be the usual 2.5 Liter with 170hp used in the 2011 Jetta.

More very soon...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

2012 Nissan Versa

Caught during a photo shoot in China.

Looks like it's all grown up, and quite nice looking.
At least this version. For that particular market.

The car looks really good on the bottom picture.
The rest of that picture, is very disturbing...

Cadillac CTS-V Wagon test drive .


I always thought the CTS was a good looking car. Although I still think the previous generation was much more of a breakthrough than the current sedan.
The wagon looks even better. So much, that, in my opinion, it makes the rest of the car a little old.
The front end is just not as modern as the rear of the car.
And from the back, it almost looks futuristic.

I think the V.s revised front is actually worse than the base car.
The new grille is fine, but the whole new bumper has too many shapes and lines.
It's a bit of a mess. Especially when compared to the rest of the design.

The interior is familiar to those of us who have been driving the CTS before.
My test car had the Recaro seats. Similar to the ones in the V6 sedan I had driven a few weeks ago.
And even in the $62 000 CTS-V, they are still a $$3400 option (!)
I really think they should be standard equipment in the V.

Like I said before, they do feel great, but I'm not sure they feel $3400 great...

As you can see, the painted silver finish on the console is replaced by a much nicer looking "piano black" finish.
This also should be on other models.
And the wood grain is also much darker.

The "Suede steering wheel and shifter" is a $300 option.

It does feel great. But I am not sure if it holds up as well as leather over time.



The CTS V comes with "magnetic ride control".
In the regular position, it is quite amazing. The sport setting firms things up a bit too much.

But the regular setting provides a perfect balance between great handling and excellent ride.
It is sporty, yet always comfortable. The whole car has a heavy, reassuring and expensive feel to it.
It makes cars like the Infiniti G series feel lightweight and a bit cheap.
And it is much more comfortable than the M56.

Steering feels really good and is very accurate.
But it felt a little light at first.
It could be a bit firmer.

This is the main part of the CTS-V.
A 6.2 liter supercharged V8 with 556hp. Which makes it one of the most powerful production cars available.
And it is pretty amazing.

It sounds fantastic at any speed. Like a very refined muscle car.
It is not as quiet as the Infiniti M56 I drove a few weeks ago.

But at the same time, it didn't feel as quick as the Infiniti.
Sure, there is never any doubt you're driving a very powerful car.

The M56 had "only" 420hp. But was also 370 pounds lighter.
Maybe that's the answer...

One thing I expected, was terrible mileage, and I wasn't disappointed.

The official numbers are 14City/19Hwy.
During a whole week of driving, I could only get between 10 and 11MPG in the city.
But I did achieve 18 to 20 in the freeway.
Both numbers are terrible. Especially compared to 14 City and almost 30 Hwy for the M56. (In the available "eco" mode)

But boy, is it fun to drive. Especially with the 6 speed manual.
Shifts are always crisp and accurate.

One thing I have to mention, is that the CTS-V is one of these cars that comes with an Electronic Parking Brake system.
Which is usually fine. Unless you drive a stick shift.
Then, it positivelly sucks!

Not to be able to use the parking brake while parking on a hill is not a fun experience. Since the system disengages as soon as you use the accelerator.
It is really bad.


Of course I would recomand the CTS-V wagon.
It is one of these cars that put a smile on my face every single time I drove it.

But back in the real world, I have to admit it makes little sense to drive around in 2011 with a car that only gets 10MPG .
There are more modern ways to provide fun to drive entertainment.
It is an old fashion car, where more power is the answer to everything. At any cost.

This could be the last of its kind. I'm really not sure that GM will be using such a thirsty set up in the next generation.
But for now, this is really a very rare car. Almost nobody else offers a manual with such a powerful wagon.

For those who can afford to buy that much gas at $4.50 a gallon (Premium required), knock yourselves out!

They're out in the sun!

Just saw 3 brand new Camaro convertibles in one day yesterday.

I guess that what temperatures well into the 90s will do.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

2013 Chevrolet Malibu

Another new picture from GM.
And I am pretty sure now that I like the current car much better.

There is something a bit different, even special about the current generation Malibu.
Not sure what it is, but it's gone from this one.
The one on sale now has a simpler, more mature design. This one is just more generic, trying a bit too hard.

Or something....

We'll see...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Volvo Concept Universe

A pretty big name.

Looks like it could be anything, from the various sketches and silhouettes shown in this teaser video.

It might be a preview of a large S90 sedan they claim isn't coming yet.

Who knows...