Saturday, May 11, 2013

More pictures of the all new Maserati Quattroporte S Q4

It sure looks good, although maybe not better than the previous model...

The interior is, of course, very nice and plush. But again, not really an improvement.
Especially the tiny sunroof that starts behind the driver's head. Which makes it pretty useless.

The V8 model is supposed to start at around $135 000.
For that much money, I don't think the interior is that special, really. A new S Class is coming out really soon, and THAT has quite a stunning interior.

Also,  I really hate to compare an Infiniti to a Maserati. But a while ago I did drive a loaded M56 V8 costing about $75000. With an amazing V8 producing 420HP. I have to say the Infiniti's interior looked really good when compared to these pictures...

But, sure.... Infiniti is no Maserati....

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Nissan Altima test drive.

I do like the design of the new Altima. I have to admit I was suspicious when I saw the 1st spy shots. But in real life, I really like the car. It has a nice upscale look to it. For a car that starts at about $22 000.
It really makes life very tough for the $37 000 Loaded maxima. As a loaded V6 Altima is about $5000 less.
The model I drove for a week was the 2.5 SV with Convenience package, for a total of $27 005.

 The interior is also a very nice place to be. My car did not have leather. But a very nice looking tan cloth interior. Which is actually refreshing, as I am not such a big fan of leather. The top of the dash and doors are black, which gives it a nice upscale look.

And, no fake wood! At least in my car...

A few nice details make the interior quite interesting too. This is such a better place to be than the Passat I was driving the week before.

The seats are comfortable, everything feels solid and the stereo sounds really nice.
The back seat is pretty much in between the Malibu and the Passat. There is plenty of room for most people, front and back.

I just wish the doors didn’t sound so tiny when you close them. This is really too bad. Especially since the new Sentra does much better in that area. It is a small thing but it just doesn’t give the sense of quality you’d expect…

 The steering is firmer than many other family sedans out there. Even though it still feels pretty artificial.

At least it is better than most on long freeway trips. As most new cars these days have such light steering feel.

 The suspension is fine. Nothing special. The car does feel a bit light in general. So it doesn’t have this “heavy” reassuring feel I like in European cars.
But it does a fine job. There is a bit of road noise at some freeway speed, but cruising is mostly quiet.

The engine has enough power for most uses. But nothing more.

It gets quite a bit noisy and rough when pushed. This is not, from far, the smoothest operator around. 

As I mentioned before, the worst part is the really bad vibration you hear and feel at around 1500 RPM. Which is apparently due to the calibration of the CVT.
 It just feels like there is something wrong with the car.

Mileage is a big selling point for Nissan with the new Altima. It is rated at 27/38.
I was never able to get close to 27 in the city. No matter how slow I was driving. The best I got was 23.
But on the freeway, I was able to get over 40 without any problem. 

The new Altima is a good choice for an affordable, roomy family car.
You could do much worse. It is not nearly as engaging as the Buick Regal (and the Malibu Turbo) to drive. But, at least to me, looks much better, inside and out, than the Camry or the Accord.

The CVT vibration being its main problem.  (Although some people here have mentioned that Nissan dealers can fix this)

Sunday, May 05, 2013

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo

Legendary car. The 911 Turbo, really.

And it's all new for 2014. Available in "regular" Turbo or Turbo S.
With 520hp or 560hp. Quite amazing from a 3.8 liter engine.

Now with a 7 speed automatic. Only!
The "PDK" they call it.

I call it an automatic dictatorship on a sports car legend.
Otherwise known as blasphemy. They should at least give a choice...

Top of the line 2014 Chevy Silverado High Country

Apparently, this will be around $45 000. The GMC Sierra Denali clone costs a bit over $47 000.

It comes with a 5.2 Liter V8 with 355HP. Good for 23MPG on the freeway.

You get Special brown leather seats, Bose speakers and more chrome!
What you also get is the 1950's column shifter. Something that should have been retired decades ago, and has no place in a "Luxury truck".

And the cheap 80's looking dash. Even now it looks like it's covered in stitched leather-like material.
(Just like a $25 000 Malibu)

Looks like this will be a big profit machine for GM....

Saturday, May 04, 2013

2014 Mercedes S-Class video.

Looks like someone hangs out pretty close to the factory.

Here are a bunch of the new 2014 S-Class .
Still with various degree of camouflage. Most lights are still partially covered.
We this gives us a good idea.

Friday, May 03, 2013

2014 Nissan Qashqai/Rogue

I hear the European Qashqai and US Rogue are supposed to share the same design for the next generation due out late this year.
This illustration supposedly shows the European model.

Which is not bad at all. Quite modern..

2014 Kia Sedona. Yes, 2014....

If it looks like the 2012 model, that's because it is.

For some weird reason, Kia chose to take a year off and sell the same minivan again for 2014.
Just when you though it would return with an all new design.
Go figure...

Here is some of  the official PR BS:

  • New lighting and grille highlight the latest version of Kia’s 7-passenger minivan
  • Premium touches added to Sedona’s fun and functional design 

The "not quite 2014" new VW Turbo engine.

It now replaces the "old" 2.0 Turbo in the Beetle and Jetta GLI.
It makes just 10hp more. Uses about 8% less gas.

Let's hope it's also a lot smoother and quieter than the current engine. Which sounds too much like a diesel.
Many blame Direct Injection for this. But GM and Ford also have 2.0 Liter turbo engines with direct injection. And they are always very smooth and quiet.

Here is a  list of the changes to the engine:

 Engine weight has been reduced by eight pounds, to 290 pounds overall. Among the improvements on this engine are: a thinwall crankcase casting; exhaust headers that are integrated into the cylinder head; smaller diameter main bearings; roller bearings for the twin balancer shafts; and a crankshaft that has four counterweights instead of eight.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Mystery Mercedes prototype

This picture was taken at a Mercedes facility, as a 2014 S-Class prototype was coming back from a test drive.

The left car in the background is another 2014 S-Class prototype.
But what is the car next to it?
At first it does look like another S-Class. But the headlights are higher. Side windows more angled.
And why is it still fully covered?

Anyone care to guess what this is?

Jaguar F-Type Coupe

 We all knew it was just a matter of time. The "non-convertible" version of the new F-Type is on its way.
And looking almost exactly like the C-X16 Concept from 2011. Which was expected.
Also expected is the new 2.0 Liter Turbo as a base engine. Available with a manual transmission.

What was not expected was the $69 000 starting price. (When a Porsche Boxster starts at $50 000...)
Here is the concept from 2011. Pretty much the same car.

Nissan Altima 2.5 SV test drive coming up...

Just got this for a week and already planning a long drive with it.

It is a really nice looking car in person.

So far:
-MPG seems to exceed official numbers.
-Engine is not the most refined. But CVT keeps things under 2000RPM most of the time.
-Enough power
-Steering is quite firm.
-Nice interior with interesting details. Quality is fine, not the best. But 100 times better than the Passat.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

VW Passat TDI test Drive

The current Passat is quite a good-looking car, in a very conservative way.

It looks big and pretty impressive in person. It has a classic German look with a bit of really modern, simple design touches up front.
It is not as slick as the new Ford Fusion or Kia Optima. But it looks more upscale and is a much more mature design than the Accord or Camry. 

The interior is another story…

Sure, it looks and feels a bit more upscale than the Jetta, but not by much. There are still too much cheap plastics in to many places. And the whole design is really depressing. Especially in grey. With that cheap looking metal trim everywhere…

It might be the worse looking interior in its class. There is not one interesting shape, design element around. The rear view mirror looks like it came from Pep Boys. And the dials for the air conditioning look and feel cheaper than most cars out there.
(At least the standard stereo sounds really good)

It is actually much worse than the previous Passat’s interior. The one that came out 2005!

But it is big. The back seat is one of the roomiest around. You would have to get a full sized model to get that much room. 

The 1st time I started the car, it sounded pretty loud. Louder than other VW diesel models like the Jetta and the Golf.
Not sure if it got quieter of if I got used to it, but I didn’t seem to notice it that much other times.

The engine is a pleasure to drive, as usual. With lots of power all the time. 
The 6-speed manual is really nice. Although, like with other VW 6 speed transmissions, shifting into 1st can be a bit rough at times.
While it is nice of VW to offer a manual in the Passat, it is restricted to the base or SE models. Which means no leather, GPS or sunroof. It’s like being punished for enjoying shifting your own gears…

Steering is a bit too light for my taste. Even if it feels pretty accurate on the freeway. It still isn’t as tight as you would expect from a German car.

The suspension is always very comfortable and the car feels solid. Although not as much as the new Malibu or the Buick Regal.

The TDI is rated at 31City and 43Hwy. (the automatic TDI is rated at 30/40).
I did match the city rating. But as usual, I got much more on the freeway. During my trip to the desert, I averaged 51MPG. Quite an amazing number for such a large and roomy car. And the ride was one of the quietest I have experienced in a long time.

With the new Passat, VW has succeeded in making an American car. A car built in the US and not sold in Europe.

They have taken most of the German character that people want when they are getting a VW. Which is really weird. 
The ride is comfortable but a bit too soft. The steering is too light. The doors don’t make that super solid sound when you close them. The interior is cheap.

The Malibu I drove the week before felt much more like a European car than the Passat. And so does the Buick Regal.

Although I am a big fan of VW's 2.0 Liter Diesel engine, it is competing with many other sedans getting almost 40MPG these days. Using much cheaper regular gas.
Besides a better range, I don’t think there is a financial advantage to the TDI in the US.

The model I drove was the TDI SE. Without any options. At $26 225. Or about $2000 more than the regular 2.5L SE.

The only thing the Passat offers is a larger back seat than the competition. I am not sure it will be enough to keep it competitive in the next 4 years or so…

Production version of the VW Taigun?

Not really sure. I cannot see any differences with the concept (color pic).
Except for the added LEDs under the headlights. Even the wheels are the same. And the "concept seats".

I guess we'll have to wait and see.

What do you think?

WV Passat TDI drive to the Salton Sea...

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

2014/15 Mercedes C-Class

Now that the S Class is almost out, the next one for MErcedes is the redesigned C Class.
This illustration shows what it could look like.
And it is probably close to the real thing. Since it looks like a small S Class...

the new C Class will be a bit larger than the current model. A new Diesel model will be available in the US. As the redesigned Coupe and an all new convertible model.

2014 Mercedes S-Class

Finally the 1st official picture of the exterior of the all new S Class.
And that's it for now.....

Sunday, April 28, 2013

What happened to this guy???

This fram was taken from a CBS piece on GM, back in 2009!

At the time, people speculated it was the clay model for a "smaller than Enclave" Buick SUV.
It does look like a Buick. But it's not the small Encore that just came out.

I just wonder if it is something that has ben dropped entirely. Or still not out yet....

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Just when you thought it couldn't get uglier: 2014 Toyota 4 Runner

 I mean really. Look at the front end!
It looks like a bad photoshop from a 12 year old. I don't really know what to say. It's quite amazing.
Inside it looks like the cheapo fake metal trim was replaced by glossy black plastic. Which is an improvement. Let's hope this is a new trend at Toyota/Lexus.
Otherwise, no changes.

This is what the current one looks like.
I always thought it was really ugly until today...