Posts By: Samir Syed

By on December 15, 2008

Need for Speed Prostreet is a huge departure from the NFS series, featuring only legal racing. That’s right; the ultimate “I don’t wanna grow up” game has grown up. By banishing typical NFS staples – illegality, police chases and near-invincibility – EA Sports has made a serious racing game. Unfortunately, that places ProStreet squarely in the crosshairs of established franchises like Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport, who’ve cornered the market on “serious racing.” Against this lethal competition, ProStreet falls far short of establishing a beachhead.

By on November 17, 2008

“Factory rice” rides are always a conundrum. On the one hand, they’re rife with unabashed cheesiness: grotesque rims, offensive exhaust notes, a prominent wing and assorted cladding. Yet they’re too expensive for the teen tuners at which they seem targeted. So who’s buying these augmented econoboxes? Guys like me: 28-year-olds torn between adolescent rebellion and conformist careerism. So, can Mitsubishi’s entry in this semi-nihilist Nipponese niche, the Lancer Ralliart, fulfill the existentially-challenged man-child’s need for wheels?

By on November 15, 2008

When the leaders of the G20 meet this weekend, they’ll look to Canada’s conservative but durable banking model as a template for the rest of the world. Since the Liberal reign of Paul Martin as Canada’s Finance Minister, Canada’s been the “Wealthy Barber” of the developed world, deploying bland but solid fiscal policy to great effect. And now, more sense from the current Canadian Finance Minister, Conservative Jim Flaherty. CTVNews reports that Jim isn’t too keen on giving the ailing Canadian auto industry the US-style bailout that’s currently being debated in Washington. Why not? Well sometimes, the story just tells itself: “Nobody wants to see taxpayers’ money taken — and then in effect wasted — where a company is not going to survive … we want to see the plan for survivability,” he said. In order words, before the FinMin spends one cent of taxpayer dollars propping up Canadian production, he wants to see a turnaround plan. You know – the same kind of plan GM has failed to publish ever since it first bled red under its current CEO Rick Wagoner. Don’t hold your breath, Jim.

By on November 13, 2008

Last year, Premier Jean Charest’s fellow Québécois faced the worst winter the Province had seen in over five decades. So he directed his government to make winter radial tires mandatory. From December 15 until March 15, snow shoes for you, eh? Two weeks ago, I spoke to a mechanic in Nashua, New Hampshire who lamented a shortage of winter tires. New Hampshire being almost Canada, I should have twigged. Then, two days ago, a Montreal tire shop was burned to the ground in what the Montreal Gazette called a “supicious tire fire.” Still didn’t click. Finally, the Canadian press put two and two together for me, declaring that Quebec’s winter tire law is causing a shortage and, c’est vrai, a tire war in the province. This being the first year such a law has been in place for any Canadian province, the demand for tires in Quebec has inevitably led to shortages in neighboring provinces and bordering U.S. states. In case anyone in the Northeast needs winter tires for a Ford Mustang, I happen to have a pair that I’d part with for, say, $20b dollars. U.S.

By on October 29, 2008
CTV News reports that Ontario’s ailing automobile sector is becoming another casualty of the U.S. credit crisis. Despite a Canadian dollar that’s free-fallen to $0.77, U.S. carmakers’ cash flow problems are taking their toll. Thanks to the tightening credit noose, these corporate customers can no longer finance the cost of buying Canadian parts at the volume to which the suppliers have grown accustomed. Jayson Myers, the head of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, says several Canadian companies dependent on exports to the U.S. automakers are in danger of going Tango Uniform. Canadian Minister of Industry Jim Prentice agrees, noting in typical political non-committal language that “What we have heard from the auto parts folks over the last several days relates to liquidity issues.” Myers, along with Ontario’s government, are now calling for the federal government to step in. They want federal loans guarantees for American/Canadian automakers. Like any good working girl, Myers doesn’t waste time naming his price. An immediate, short-term loan of $1b for Canadian parts makers. As a patriotic Canadian, I look forward to the day when my tax money is used to prop-up poor Frank Stronach’s crumbling empire.
By on October 25, 2008
There are few certainties in life: Death, Taxes. That’s it. Well, I’m proposing we expand this iconic couplet. As a frequent visitor to Autoblog (when all their scripting doesn’t cause my browser to crash), I’ve come to expect daily content on the Ford Mustang. Forgive me if I get all “meta” on you, but if Death Watches are TTAC’s signature blogs, Autoblog’s Mustang-mania best exemplifies the AOL-owned website’s gestalt. All things Mustang must be reported: Updates. Special editions. 2010 Teaser shots. More special editions. And so on. It’s gotten so ludicrous that even Autoblog’s commentators occasionally pause the food fights to laugh at Autoblog. But on a day where Autoblog already blogged about a special edition Mustang, the AB’s Drew Philips posted the epitome of self-parody. Philips’ latest work, “Ode to the 2005-2009 Ford Mustang,” contains about 80 links to other autoblog posts about… well… Mustangs, listing every special edition Autoblog has reported on since the S197’s inception. Which makes it a blog entry about other blog entries. And, yes, this post is a blog entry about a blog entry about other blog entries. But rest assured, no metaphysical vortex opens above your head for reading it. At least until Car News Article scrapes our content. For them, a black hole isn’t good enough.
By on October 24, 2008

On June 23, 2008, GM announced it was hiring Citigroup to help it in a strategic review of the HUMMER brand. After being inflicted with a base H3 for a week, I’d suggest the venerable the General skip to the denouement and sell off the brand to anyone who wants it. By offering vehicles like the base H3, GM demonstrates it is/was unwilling and/or unable to nurture what is/was the most focused brand in its bloated portfolio.

By on October 23, 2008

One day, we’ll look back fondly on the rivalry between Xbox and Playstation. Inevitably, we’ll discuss the competing pairs of game that these consoles offered, genre by genre, sequel by sequel. We’ll debate Final Fantasy vs. Oblivion, Halo vs. Resistance, and ,of course, Gran Turismo (“GT”) vs. Forza Motorsport. And everyone will pick the Playstation(s)’s GT series. That said, Xbox owners need not lament as the Xbox’s own flagship racer is a solid game indeed and one of the most intuitive, purest racing games available today.

By on September 3, 2008
An old buddy of mine, who became an organizer for Liberal Party of Canada, once told me “nothings smells like elections more than asphalt.” The pre-election release of the purse strings is a tradition as old as democracy itself. Machiavellian and cynical? Damn straight. It now appears that Canada’s federal government is ready to take the cynicism to a whole ‘nother level by promising old money before an election. It’s not new money, it’s only a reiteration of something that’s been known for months. The Globe and Mail reports that Canadian PM Stephen Harper will travel to the heart of Canada’s rust belt to announce $200 million in pork for Ontario’s ailing automotive sector. That Ontario hold over 100 of the parliament’s 308 seats has absolutely nothing – nothing, I swear – to do with the announcement. Neither does the fact that Harper is expected to dissolve the government by Friday in preparation for the third federal election since 2003. Or that Harper`s government has been repeatedly taken to task by Ontario’s provincial government over its constant refusals to “invest” (i.e., give money) to Ontario’s automotive sector. The fact is, the announcement of this money dates back to Finance Minister’s last budget. It’s such old news that I asked Buzz Hargrove about it back on July 29th. What did Buzz say? “It’s peanuts”.
By on September 3, 2008

Evaluating the Canadian-designed, built and sold Acura CSX without mentioning the Honda Civic is no easy task. (See?) Comparisons are so tempting, namely because the latter is an excellent car in its own right. The feeling’s mutual. Honda of Japan loved the Acura CSX so much that it served as a template for the JDM Civic. And why not? The CSX delivers an excellent compact luxury package without the reliability issues bedeviling certain (cough German cough) imports. Said otherwise, the CSX is the penny-pinching—I mean, thinking man’s luxury compact.

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