Thursday, September 04, 2014

2016 Mazda Miata



So here it is. The all new Miata.

I've been waiting so long for a new model that I'm not quite sure what to think of it.
First, I do hate black wheels. So it's hard to tell, at least for me.
And the black trim around the windshield doesn't help either.

So far it looks more rounded, yet more masculine than before.
It does look a bit cartoony from some angles.

Maybe it's one of these cars that actually looks fantastic in real life.
And I'm sure things are much better with "normal" wheels.

No specs yet. Except it is lighter, lower and shorter (!) than before.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

VW Jetta TDI test drive


 I have driven the Jetta TDI before.
It was a 6 speed manual version. And I quite liked it.
Great mileage, quiet diesel, comfortable, and a really nice manual transmission.

I also drove a recent 1.8 Turbo version, also with the manual. And I liked that too.

Last week I got this Automatic version. With the DSG. That I usually hate.
So let's see how it works in the Jetta Diesel.

 There is noting new inside. Still classic and roomy. Roomier than many more expensive cars, especially in the back.

 The only "new" detail I could notice was the metal trim. Which is now darker than before.
It also looks more like metal. Still not sure if it is or not...
 The version I drove was a loaded "Premium & Nav" model.
Which included a sunroof, GPS and the always great Fender Audio system.
 No leather. Just "leatherette". (Fancy for vinyl) Which is actually fine by me.
Since I'm not especially crazy about killing animals to cover my car seats. Plastic will do just fine...
 VW does make great diesels. But they are still Diesels.

They are still noisier than regular gas engines. (No matter what some other reviewers are saying)
It's obvious when cold. Even after a while, lower the windows at a red light when idling, and you know you're driving a diesel.
Things become quiet when driving. It just settles into a "different" sound. Which  is is fine.

It also still smells a little bit. Not bad like the old diesels. But there is a smell.
Again, nothing you know while driving...

Overall, the Jetta is a fine driving car. But it doesn't have that "heavy, solid" German car feel it used to have .
(Same with the current Passat actually)
There is nothing wrong, it's just not that special anymore.
Like most new VWs, the steering is fine, if a bit light. It is still better than most. (Like the dead Nissan feel)

Now for the DSG.
It has to be the worst automatic transmission I have experience.
But it seems to vary. The Beetle 2.0 Liter I drove a while ago seemed a bit better. (Or maybe I just got used to it)

In this car, it is really bad.
Mostly while the car is in first.
Between the DSG and the Turbo lag from the engine, a smooth take off is almost impossible.
(There is nothing, then a rush of power.)
Same thing in reverse when slowing down to a stop.

It is just really weird and always feels like there is something wrong.
Things are fine once you get in 2nd gear. But shifting really doesn't seem any faster than a regular automatic.
Speaking of "regular" automatics, what is wrong with them???
This thing doesn't shift any faster and I don't see any fuel saving from it.

It is rated at 30/42MPG.
I did reach about 30 in the city (A bit less than with the manual)
But , got much more than the official number on the Highway, with 51MPG.
Again, a bit less than with the 6 speed manual.

Another thing: I have no idea why the official HWY numbers on every single VW TDI models are always way off. Way under what people are actually getting.
Why????
Most people seem to be OK with the DSG. I have never really seen anyone complaining about it as much as I do. 
But I do have this problem in every single one I drive. It does vary a bit, but it's always bad.
I guess people don't really care...

Otherwise, the Jetta TDI is a fine car.

But its main competition is actually the "regular" Jetta with the new 1.8 Liter engine.
That new engine is rated at 26/36. But I actually got 28/43 in actual driving.
Which is getting pretty close to the Diesel version. For about $2000 less.
The new 1.8 Liter Turbo also uses cheaper Regular Gas.

And on the other side, the Hybrid version is actually great. The 7 speed DSG works much better when helped by an electric motor. And it does actually get 45 in both city and highway.

But if I was in the market for a Jetta, the 1.8 Liter is the one I would get.
It does have a nice Turbo rush. It is quick, quieter than the diesel. Cheaper to run and buy.
And around town, uses about the same amount of gas.

Here are a couple of pix of the revised 2015 Model.

Besides bumpers and headlights, the exterior is pretty much the same.
Inside it is still the same thing too. Except for some piano black trim and the steering wheel from the new Golf.

But the Diesel does come with a new engine. Still a 2.0 Liter. But is has more power and even better MPG. Which could factually get about 55MPG in real life driving.

Something I'll have to try soon...

Sunday, August 31, 2014

VW Saveiro Pick-up





You guessed it, not for us.
Just like other interesting cars VW has in other countries, like the Up and Scirocco.
(The US market seems to just be an afterthought to them, really.)

This is for the Brazilian market, and just got updated. Mostly a new front end that looks like the new Golf.
Sure it is small, sure it is probably slow (With a small 1.6 Liter with 110hp), and sure it has a cheap interior.
Who cares! It's a cool small pick-up like the Subaru Baja used to be.

VW needs something cool. Anything.

And cheap!
It starts at around $14 000 in Brazil

I am sure there is a market for a small, sub $20 000 pick-up here in the US.
And whoever will be the 1st to offer one will just create a new market. (Or re-create one)

All we need is a little bit of good old fashion guts. From anyone....


Friday, August 29, 2014

Where do you live?


It's that time again.
I've done it before, I know.

But I am always interested in knowing where my readers are from.
Of course, I assume most of you read this from the US. But many of you don't.
These websites, no matter how small, can reach so far into the planet.

I do have a bit of a similar experience with other things I do. (One of them is working on TV shows)
Where you meet people from far away who know your work.
It always feel really special....

PS: So sorry about the previous pic. I didn't realize it was missing so many flags.
So here is an updated one. I hope you all find your country!

More pictures of the Buick Envision




Looking exactly like what you'd expect. A smaller Enclave.
From the back, it could be from anyone. It has that generic?kinda pleasant shape that almost all SUVs have these days.
Interior has a lot of wood trim that looks really fake (At least on that pic)

As I mentioned before, I think the new Lincoln MKC looks much better than this, inside and out.

I guess that's what happens when a brand (Buick) becomes more popular in China than its own country.
It caters to the (bad) taste of the new market...

More pictures of the new 2015 Kia Sorento





Kia is hoping to sell over 270 000 a year of these, worldwide.
So it's better be good.

It does look quite nice. More upscale than the previous version.
Also more "family" like. Dare I say more "minivan" like? (Why not...I just said it)

The 3.3 Liter V6 returns. And the 2.4 Liter also , in some countries. As well as a diesel, but that, of course, is not fur us.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Something you don't see every day...

Saw this inside a small upholstery shop in Burbank. (AKA "Beautiful Burbank")

Looked to be in great condition. Owner actually drives it once in a while.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

2015 Datsun mi-DO



A new Datsun, yes. After the on-DO sedan, here is the mi-DO hatchback version.

These are for "emerging" market only.
So these new Datsun models will not make it to Europe or the US.

As you can see, this is a very cheap car. Which is fine.
What is not fine, and actually laughable and ridiculous, is the way Nissan officially describes it:

"The Datsun mi-DO is a practical yet sporty five-door hatchback with a strong masculine appearance: modern, robust and confident".
I haven't read that much PR BS in a long time.

The description should stop right after "practical".
Sporty, masculine, confident, modern etc... have no place here. Someone should look up the actual meaning of these words. (In what country does a car like this qualifies as "masculine" or "sporty"???)
This reads like an article from "The Onion".

Now about these names. mi-DO and on-DO....

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

2015 Volvo XC90




Well... It's been 11 years.
For something that doesn't look that great.

I mean, they've been teasing us with 3 great looking concept this past years. I mean great designs inside and out.
Telling us "The next XC90 will look like that! Yes it will!"
No it doesn't.

You could put any grille on that thing and it could be any luxury SUV. From anyone.

And the interior has nothing in commun (nothing) with any of the recent concepts.

I guess this is the "Jetta of luxury SUVs". Boring but not ugly.
It will start at about $49 000 in the US. Which is almost $10 000 more than the current model.
So they obviously think it is great.

So great that they will offer a "first edition" model at launch. And that one will be $66 000!
Sure, getting 316hp from a 4 cylinder is pretty cool.
But $66 000....

The T6 model will be a 2.0 Liter Turbo while the T8 will be a hybrid with 400hp.

So engines are quite modern.
Too bad the design isn't.

This is fine, but it could have been great...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

VW Jetta TDI Test Drive coming up.

I just got a Jetta TDI for the week.
So I will be reporting on it soon.

Last time I drove one, it was a 6 speed manual. And it was great.
This time I am stuck with the DSG. Which is.... "not that great". At all.

More soon.

2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport

Or at least a toy version.
Which gives us quite a good idea of what the real thing will look like.

This is supposed to replace the Freelander/LR2 model.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Citroen DS 6WR





This one is not coming over here.
It's not even coming to Europe!

This new Crossover from Citroen is, so far, for China only.
It is about 3 inches shorter than an Audi Q5 and is powered by 1.6 Liter engines ranging from 163HP to 200HP.
A 1.8 Liter Diesel with 140HP is also available.

It doesn't look bad. And I am sure it could find some buyers in Europe...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

All new Jaguar XE



This is it.
The all new compact sedan from Jaguar.

This picture was taken from the video posted above. Basically what you would see on the screen of your dashboard when you start the car.

So far it looks fine. The video also shows bits of the interior. (In a weird Tron-like computer animation.)

That's all we've got until next month, when they will show us the whole thing.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Toyota FCV/Mirai


There is a rumor about "Mirai" being the actual name for the upcoming Hydrogen Toyota car.
Why not...

As you can see from the top pic, the real thing looks exactly the same as the one we saw just a few months ago (blue car)

Not sure about pricing yet. But over 400 miles range and 3 mn refill sounds pretty interesting.
And, as I was checking the map, it looks like we have many hydrogen stations in California. Where I live. ( I even saw one on Santa Monica Blvd the other day)

This could be quite interesting for some people.

Land Rover Discovery Sport


This new model will replace the LR2 in the US.
So it's not big.

So far they are only showing us the interior. Looking modern. (I guess this video wants to make us feel like an astronaut...)
Range Rovers have been really good looking in the past years. This is promising...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Buick Envision Interior






From what we saw earlier, the new Envision seems pretty conservative and quite generic outside.
At least on these pictures, the interior seems a bit more original.

These are actually pretty bad photos, so it is hard to say. (Also that red/black combo isn't for everyone)
It could be a case of "trying too hard".
Not sure about pricing, but being cheaper than the $36 500 Enclave, it could be competing with the new $34 000 Lincoln MKC. (Which is really, really nice in person...)