The Truth About Cars » New Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 11 Sep 2014 17:31:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » New Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/new-cars/ Rental Review: 2014 Hyundai Accent http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/rental-review-2014-hyundai-accent/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/rental-review-2014-hyundai-accent/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 15:24:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874785   Renting a subcompact car is usually a good way to get a free upgrade to a “Toyota Corolla or Similar”, but in this case, it was the last car left on the lot. I had no other choice. On the way home from a trip to Indianapolis (where my ear drums were variously stimulated […]

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Renting a subcompact car is usually a good way to get a free upgrade to a “Toyota Corolla or Similar”, but in this case, it was the last car left on the lot. I had no other choice.

On the way home from a trip to Indianapolis (where my ear drums were variously stimulated and assaulted by the Tudor Sports Car entrants, especially the new Camaro Z/28R), I was stuck in a regional airport nearly 125 miles from home. I had to be back the next day, and a quick evaluation of my options panned out like this

  1. I could stay overnight in a hotel, catch a cab to and from the airport and fly home on a puddle-jumper the next day. Estimated cost: $175.
  2. Take the train. Estimated cost: $110 and 3 hours of my time.
  3. Rent a car, one way. Write about it for TTAC. Estimated cost: $160 and just under 2 hours of my time, assuming weather and traffic are favorable (as it turned out, they weren’t).

Option 3 was the easy choice.

With the mass cancellation of numerous flights, everyone rushed the rental desk, and all that was left was a lonely Accent GL 5-door. Once upon a time, you could get a three-door Accent GL in Canada for under $10,000 – of course, it offered no A/C, a 5-speed manual transmission and all the refined NVH characteristics of a minecart.

What a difference a generation makes. The latest Accent has transformed itself from a nasty penalty box into a subcompact that can be recommended on merit, as well as price.

Unlike a number of too-tall competitors, the Accent has proper 5-door hatchback proportions, similar to its big brother, the Elantra GT. For a subcompact car, it feels as if it’s an entire size class larger. The rear cargo area easily swallowed my large suitcase and backpack, while the rest of the cabin feels airy and spacious.

Feature content was similarly generous. In addition to the usual suite of power operated accessories, the Accent had Bluetooth, USB ports abound, an easy to operate media system (I was able to navigate it on the first try while driving – no easy feat in any modern car) and heated seats (which I didn’t use, but are a godsend in colder climates).

With a 138 horsepower 1.6L engine, the Accent won’t win be setting the ET board alight at your local drag strip, but the engine is far gutsier than the Fiesta’s wheezy base 1.6L engine or the similarly sized mill in the Nissan Micra (the Accent’s chief competition in Canada). Hyundai’s 6-speed automatic isn’t the most refined, but it keeps the revs down on the highway – an all important characteristic in a world where em pee gees and muffled NVH are high on buyer’s list of wants. Unlike some of its competitors, the Accent gets disc brakes all-around, and even on this rental example, they felt strong without being overly grabby.

On the few highway ramps available, I was similarly impressed with the car’s driving dynamics. The steering gives ample feedback and avoids the “tie-rods through a Cool Whip container” feel that many have come to expect from Korean cars. The chassis feels fairly planted, but the worn all-season tires didn’t let me push the car terribly hard. Not that it matters, since few pensioners or first time drivers are going to be pushing this thing to the 11/10th on their local road course. The whole driving experience reminded me of a Honda Civic from the double wishbone era, albeit with the rough edges filed off – hardly a black mark against a car that is intended to be affordable, basic transportation.

By the time I was starting to get a feel for the Accent, my journey with it was over. I ended up using $10 in gas (roughly 3 gallons) to drive 125 miles, and at no time did I ever feel as if I was burdened with some unsafe, miserable leftover rental car. At this point, the Accent is one of the older cars in its class, but in no way does it feel outdated or behind the curve. In Canada, it’s possible to pick them up far below this example’s $17,522 MSRP – small wonder it’s the #1 selling subcompact in this country.

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Toyota Next To Join Mexican Assembly Fiesta http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/toyota-next-join-mexican-assembly-fiesta/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/toyota-next-join-mexican-assembly-fiesta/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 15:01:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910737 Although Toyota has previously looked to maximize capacity at its existing North American plants, a report by Bloomberg suggests that the company will depart from this policy and look to establish a manufacturing facility in Mexico, following the lead of Honda, Mazda and Nissan in the Japanese auto industry’s drive to localize production. Currently, Toyota […]

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Although Toyota has previously looked to maximize capacity at its existing North American plants, a report by Bloomberg suggests that the company will depart from this policy and look to establish a manufacturing facility in Mexico, following the lead of Honda, Mazda and Nissan in the Japanese auto industry’s drive to localize production.

Currently, Toyota has a small facility in Tijuana that produces the Tacoma pickup from CKD kits, and has signed an agreement with Mazda for the automaker to build a subcompact car that will likely be branded as a Scion. But they are without a full-scale factory of their own, at a time when virtually every other auto maker is expanding into Mexico.

The Mexican expansion is seen as a necessary move for many auto makers, allowing them to expand capacity in the NAFTA zone while taking advantage of far lower labor costs and generous tax incentives. This has led to a boom in auto manufacturing in Mexico, with relatively little investment in traditional locations like the Midwest and Canada.

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Ford Debuting Self-Unparking Technology In 2015 Edge http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ford-debuting-self-unparking-technology-2015-edge/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ford-debuting-self-unparking-technology-2015-edge/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 11:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910658 Though Ford, Lincoln, BMW and others have mastered the art of parallel parking in tight spaces for their customers, it turns out the systems used do it too well, prompting Ford to give “unparking” a go. Automotive News reports the 2015 Edge will include an improved automated parking system that will not only allow the […]

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Though Ford, Lincoln, BMW and others have mastered the art of parallel parking in tight spaces for their customers, it turns out the systems used do it too well, prompting Ford to give “unparking” a go.

Automotive News reports the 2015 Edge will include an improved automated parking system that will not only allow the crossover to parallel-park in those tight spaces, but be able to pull itself out. The system can also do perpendicular parking, such as the sort found at your nearest supermarket. An array of sensors — four up front, six in back — use echolocation to find objects and obstacles, allowing the crossover to calculate how best to get itself out of a rock and a hard place.

In addition, the Edge will have lane-keeping technology and adaptive cruise control, both using a combination of cameras and radar to safely guide the crossover from the house to the office and back.

All of the above will be available to consumers when the new Edge arrives in showrooms next March.

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Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Coast to Coast 2014 – Washington DC http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/best-selling-cars-around-globe-coast-coast-2014-washington-dc/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/best-selling-cars-around-globe-coast-coast-2014-washington-dc/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 19:21:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910202  Toyota Corolla in Washington DC (these are from Maryland for illustration purposes) After managing to drive through Manhattan and escape unscathed, we are now travelling 250 miles Southwest to the country’s capital city, Washington DC. But first, I’ll answer a few of the questions you asked in my first article: I did parallel park my 236 inch […]

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1. Toyota Corolla Washington Toyota Corolla in Washington DC (these are from Maryland for illustration purposes)

After managing to drive through Manhattan and escape unscathed, we are now travelling 250 miles Southwest to the country’s capital city, Washington DC. But first, I’ll answer a few of the questions you asked in my first article:

  • I did parallel park my 236 inch long Ram pick-up in Manhattan on a crowded West Village street  and felt very proud.
  • With French being my mother tongue I never can get quite used to the American convention of calling my truck (or any vehicle) as a “she”. In French, a truck is a masculine word, so my Ram will be referred to as Albert from now on
  • As a lot of you have noticed, it is the Tradesman level, a trim that normally doesn’t get lent to the press.

Dodge Durango Lincoln MKZ WashingtonDodge Durango and Lincoln MKZ in Washington DC

The Ram 1500 crew cab 4×4 I am driving has a US$35,805 base price. Add-in the Tradesman package, including carpet flooring and satellite radio, 8-speed automatic transmission, 3.0-Liter V6 EcoDiesel engine and destination charge to arrive at US$40,495. Depending on the rebate you can negotiate with your dealer, you can potentially get that back down to the base price or below. A lot of you have rightly asked about fuel economy. A road trip across the US in a pick-up truck immediately conjures up images of an endless flow of dollar bills being sunk into overly thirsty fuel tanks. Not so here.

Ram 1500 WashingtonAlbert proudly posing before the Capitol in Washington DC

Aware of the lengthy trip I was embarking in, Chrysler smartly lent me an EcoDiesel, launched only last February and one of the main reasons behind the nameplate’s sales surge in 2014. Back in February the EcoDiesel trucks set a new Ram record with the initial allocation of 8,000 units filled by dealers in just 3 days. Over that period the EcoDiesel variants represented half of all Ram 1500 pick-up orders and overall Ram expects EcoDiesel models to account for 15% of 1500 Series orders this year. So my Albert is quite the popular new kid on the block.

VW Jetta WashingtonVW Jetta in Washington DC

The reason behind this success? The EcoDiesel delivers 28 mpg highway, currently the best fuel economy for a full-size pick-up truck, compared to 24 mpg for the Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra and 23 mpg for the current Ford F-Series. The 4×4 variant I have gives up one mpg to sit at 27 mpg. Ford launched a challenge to Ram’s mpg crown with its new generation aluminium-built F-Series which will start deliveries in February 2015, however at an estimated 27 mpg for the all-new 2.7-Liter Ecoboost V6, it doesn’t quite match the RAM EcoDiesel yet.

Chevrolet Silverado WashingtonChevrolet Silverado in Washington DC

I won’t reset the mpg average at all during the entire trip, which should provide me with an all-trip average assuming Chrysler reset it before lending the truck to me. After 3 days and about 500 miles the mpg average stands at 25.3  mpg, keeping in mind there were 3 hours of virtual standstill in Manhattan – and therefore atrocious mpg – to begin with. So we are in line with a best-in-class score so far, and Albert is turning out to be not so thirsty after all.

Buick Enclave WashingtonBuick Enclave in Washington DC

Back to Washington DC, and this being a very small and touristy state, please bear in mind that my observations may not be limited to cars registered within Washington DC even though I tried to discard cars not registered here. As always this is not an exact science, rather a feel for the changing vehicle landscape as I traverse the country. State by state data published by Business Insider indicates that DC is the only State in the country to crown the Toyota Corolla as its favorite car. And as it was the case in New York City, I am pleased to announce that street observations match sales data which is always a great validation. The new generation Corolla has already taken charge of Washington traffic: I saw more of them in the few hours I was in the (relatively small) town than I saw in New York in 3 days!

Toyota Prius C WashingtonToyota Prius C in Washington DC

Overall my impression is that passenger cars are smaller than they were in New York City with less Toyota Camry and Honda Accord and more Nissan Sentra, Versa, Hyundai Elantra and VW Jetta – and of course Corolla as described above. Case in point: I saw my first two Toyota Prius C of the trip here. Hyundai also seems to be enjoying very strong sales here: I spotted a few new generation Sonatas. Nissan is as solid as it was in New York with numerous Altima spotted but less Maxima – in line with the smaller car preferences.

2002 Saturn Ion Washington2002 Saturn Ion in Washington DC

I would like to be able to tell you that I saw more pick-ups here but this is only marginally the case and we are still frankly in sedan and SUV territory. The Toyota RAV4 did come across more frequently, both as taxis and private cars. A couple of more Washington observations: the most popular and almost only Jeep seems to be the Wrangler, the current generation Buick Enclave is a success as is the Tesla Model S and the Washington region has a love for the defunct Saturn brand: whereas I had not picked one up yet during the trip before, I spotted three 2002 Saturn Ion in the space of a few blocks!

Next we will be driving through Virginia, North and South Carolina to Charleston. Stay tuned!

Matt Gasnier is based in Sydney, Australia and writes a blog dedicated to tracking car sales around the globe: BestSellingCarsBlog

Chevrolet Suburban Impala WashingtonChevrolet Suburban and Impala in Washington DC 

Toyota RAV4 WashingtonToyota RAV4 in Washington DC

Ford Fusion WashingtonFord Fusion in Washington DC

Hyundai Sonata WashingtonHyundai Sonata in Washington DC

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Ferrari Boss Steps Down As Marchionne Takes Control http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ferrari-boss-steps-marchionne-takes-control/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ferrari-boss-steps-marchionne-takes-control/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 15:30:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910106 Luca di Montezemolo, who has headed up Ferrari for over two decades and presided over record profits, has stepped down amid in-fighting with Fiat head Sergio Marchionne. After joining Ferrari in the early 1990′s, di Montezemolo led a campaign to revitalize Ferrari, bringing in a lineup of vastly improved products and putting their Formula 1 […]

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Luca di Montezemolo, who has headed up Ferrari for over two decades and presided over record profits, has stepped down amid in-fighting with Fiat head Sergio Marchionne.

After joining Ferrari in the early 1990′s, di Montezemolo led a campaign to revitalize Ferrari, bringing in a lineup of vastly improved products and putting their Formula 1 team back on the road to success. Under his stewardship, Ferrari dominated the latter half of the 1990′s and early 2000′s, with Michael Schumacher, Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne and other motorsports all-stars working as one of the most dominant Formula 1 outfits in history.

In addition to their on-track success, Ferrari also found great financial success in the now ubiquitous merchandise licensing deals that were spearheaded by di Montezemolo, which has allowed Ferrari to maintain a lucrative revenue stream despite capping production of the cars at 7,000 units annually.

But that wasn’t enough for Marchionne, who publicly criticized di Montezemolo’s performance in Formula 1 this past week. Speculation is rife that Marchionne wants to expand Ferrari’s production volumes to help it compete with Lamborghini, which many fear would dilute the brand’s exclusivity.

On the other hand, the departure of di Montezemolo, who is credited with introducing milestone vehicles like the 355 (which replaced the dreadful 348), is being seen as a turning point in the brand’s history. Marchionne has never had experience running any premium brands, and Ferrari is one of FCA’s few profit centers. But many fear that this delicate balance will be permanently disrupted.

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Kuniskis: Dealers Must Prove Themselves Worthy Of Selling Hellcat Challenger http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/kuniskis-dealers-must-prove-worthy-selling-hellcat-challenger/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/kuniskis-dealers-must-prove-worthy-selling-hellcat-challenger/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 13:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910074 Dodge dealers wanting to help their customers destroy wannabes with the 2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat will themselves need to prove their worth to the brand before a single car leaves the carrier. Automotive News reports allocations of the 707-horsepower war machine will be based on the total number of all Dodges sold during the past […]

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2015 Dodge Challenger SRT with the HEMI® Hellcat

Dodge dealers wanting to help their customers destroy wannabes with the 2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat will themselves need to prove their worth to the brand before a single car leaves the carrier.

Automotive News reports allocations of the 707-horsepower war machine will be based on the total number of all Dodges sold during the past 180 days, according to brand chief Tim Kuniskis, with a second allocation in December will focus on the previous 90 days of such sales and the traditional 30-day inventory turn.

Further, Dodge will measure how many days each Hellcat remains on the lot after the initial allocation, with the goal of moving them off the lot as quickly as possible if more are to be delivered later on. Kuniskis acknowledges this may be a headache for those who opt to make a market adjustment similar to the one performed at a recent Los Angeles Chevrolet dealership, where a Camaro Z/28 was priced to move at $106,165:

If you want to market-adjust the car, that’s your right. But if your days-on-lot goes above what the other guys that are selling them at MSRP is, they will end up earning the allocation because their days-on-lot will be lower. Some dealers are going to have heartburn with that.

Kuniskis adds that he wants to see each Hellcat out there on the road for all to enjoy instead of sitting in a showroom “with a rope around it” like the Viper, and that his brand “worked hard” to price the beast at an attainable $60,990 with shipping included.

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California Dominates US Plug-In Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/california-dominates-us-plug-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/california-dominates-us-plug-market/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 12:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910058 A shock that may come to no one among the B&B, California leads the way in sales of plug-ins with just over 100,000 units sold in the past four years. Bloomberg reports the figures, accounting for 40 percent of the plug-in market, were compiled by the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative from data gathered between […]

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2013 Ford C-MAX Energi Plug-In Hybrid, Exterior, Charging Plug, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

A shock that may come to no one among the B&B, California leads the way in sales of plug-ins with just over 100,000 units sold in the past four years.

Bloomberg reports the figures, accounting for 40 percent of the plug-in market, were compiled by the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative from data gathered between December 2010 and August 2014 by the California Air Resources Board, Hybridcars.com and Baum & Associates. Baum also reported overall U.S. sales checked-in at around 250,000 units over the same period.

Though California has 40 percent of the plug-in market covered — thanks in part to legislation pushing automakers to bring more ZEVs to market — the milestone is a long way from the goal of 1.5 million plug-in vehicles by 2025, let alone the Obama administration’s target of 1 million such units by the end of 2015.

As for the present, Baum & Associates founder Alan Baum — who says 300,000 total units will hit the road by the end of this year — believes California’s stake in the market will likely shrink “as certain mass-market models that were initially sold only in state are introduced more broadly across the country.”

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Paris 2014: BMW 2 Series Convertible Entering Showrooms Early 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/paris-2014-bmw-2-series-convertible-entering-showrooms-early-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/paris-2014-bmw-2-series-convertible-entering-showrooms-early-2015/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 10:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909906 Set to make its global debut at the 2014 Paris Auto Show in October, the 2015 BMW 2 Series Convertible will enter showrooms in early 2015. Automotive News reports the convertible will arrive in the United States as the 228i, 228i xDrive and M235i, with the M235i xDrive model to arrive later in 2015. Price […]

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Set to make its global debut at the 2014 Paris Auto Show in October, the 2015 BMW 2 Series Convertible will enter showrooms in early 2015.

Automotive News reports the convertible will arrive in the United States as the 228i, 228i xDrive and M235i, with the M235i xDrive model to arrive later in 2015. Price of admission begins at $38,850 for the base 228i, $40,650 for the base 228i xDrive, and $48,650 for the base M235i; the price for the M235i xDrive has yet to be announced.

Powering the 228i will be a 2-liter turbo-four driving 240 horsepower to the back through an eight-speed automatic while providing greater fuel efficiency than the outgoing 1 Series convertible’s 18/22/27 mpg rating.

Aboard the M235i, the M Performance Package brings a 3-liter turbo-six to the front, sending its 320 horses through the rear via either eight-speed auto or six-speed manual.

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A Look At Western Europe’s Most Popular Brands From 25 Years Ago http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/look-western-europes-popular-brands-25-years-ago/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/look-western-europes-popular-brands-25-years-ago/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 21:22:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=904681   From The Machine That Changed The World and the Financial Times: a companion to our article showing a breakdown of the most popular brands in Europe today. While Volkswagen is still dominante, Both of PSAs nameplates have fallen from their former glory to be also-ran brands on the continent. Fiat, while strong regionally, has weakened significantly. […]

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From The Machine That Changed The World and the Financial Times: a companion to our article showing a breakdown of the most popular brands in Europe today.

While Volkswagen is still dominante, Both of PSAs nameplates have fallen from their former glory to be also-ran brands on the continent. Fiat, while strong regionally, has weakened significantly. Rover no longer exists. Volvo is practically a non-entity.

On the other hand, the Japanese can no longer be lumped into a singular entity (Nissan is particularly strong in Europe, with the Qashqai and Juke), and the Koreans are wholly absent from this chart. Meanwhile, Hyundai and Kia are challenging some established European brands in their home markets?

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Mercedes-Benz Reveals Their 911-Fighter http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/mercedes-benz-reveals-911-fighter/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/mercedes-benz-reveals-911-fighter/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 19:17:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909466   Mercedes-Benz launched the replacement for their SLS AMG sports car, dubbed the AMG GT. Out go the gullwing doors and naturally aspirated 6.2L V8, with a new turbocharged 4.0L V8 and a 7-speed DCT backing it up. The base GT (if you can call it that) puts down 456 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque […]

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Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014Mercedes-Benz launched the replacement for their SLS AMG sports car, dubbed the AMG GT. Out go the gullwing doors and naturally aspirated 6.2L V8, with a new turbocharged 4.0L V8 and a 7-speed DCT backing it up.

The base GT (if you can call it that) puts down 456 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque (good for a 3.9 second sprint to 60 mph and a 189 mph top speed) , with the top-spec GT-S making 503 hp and 479 lb-ft and shaving .2 seconds of the 60 mph dash and a top speed pf 193 mph.

The GT-S also adds a variable exhaust, electronic dampers and an electronic LSD (the base car gets a mechanical unit) and variable engine and transmission mounts that can stiffen or flex depending on driving conditions. The higher spec model also gets 15.2 inch brakes all around.

The base GT will start at around $130,000 USD in Europe, but pricing and content for North America have yet to be announced. Expect the new 4.0L V8 to show up in the new AMG C63 (and likely in both trims, with a higher power S model following as well). Hopefully some of the GT’s styling migrates to the rest of the range as well.

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456 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque or 503 hp and 479 lb-ft 

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Ram de Mexico Will Get Fiat Strada Based Small Truck http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ram-de-mexico-will-get-fiat-strada-based-small-truck/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ram-de-mexico-will-get-fiat-strada-based-small-truck/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 17:23:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909386   Speculation about a Ram small truck based on the Fiat Strada has been rampant recently, and it looks like Ram is getting ready to move in that direction for the Mexican market. A Brazilian outlet is reporting that the Strada will be sold in Mexico as the Ram 750. The 750 will be offered […]

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Speculation about a Ram small truck based on the Fiat Strada has been rampant recently, and it looks like Ram is getting ready to move in that direction for the Mexican market.

A Brazilian outlet is reporting that the Strada will be sold in Mexico as the Ram 750. The 750 will be offered in both single and double cab configurations and powered by small 4-cylinder engines.

Perhaps these were the Strada mules being tested around Detroit, and there were never any plans to bring a small truck to the United States. With UNECE rules and a totally different set of market conditions (as well as no chicken tax), Mexico is a much better place to import a small, front-drive car-based pickup than the United States. Or maybe FCA will surprise us all?

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Jaguar XE Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/jaguar-xe-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/jaguar-xe-revealed/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 19:15:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=908777 Despite all the hype around the Jaguar XE and its new lineup of ultra-efficient 4-cylinder engines, Jaguar has chosen to reveal their new 3-Series fighter with only the most sporting trim level. Revealed today in London, the XE-S packs the base F-Type’s 340 horsepower supercharged 3.0L V6. 60 mph will come up in 4.9 seconds, and […]

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Jaguar XE World Premier

Despite all the hype around the Jaguar XE and its new lineup of ultra-efficient 4-cylinder engines, Jaguar has chosen to reveal their new 3-Series fighter with only the most sporting trim level.

Revealed today in London, the XE-S packs the base F-Type’s 340 horsepower supercharged 3.0L V6. 60 mph will come up in 4.9 seconds, and power is sent to the wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. Aside from that, details were scant.

_JAGUAR_XE_INT_08 JAGUAR_XE_S_01 JAGUAR_XE_S_02 JAGUAR_XE_S_03 JAGUAR_XE_S_05 JAGUAR_XE_S_06 JAGUAR_XE_S_07 JAGUAR_XE_S_DETAIL_01 JAGUAR_XE_S_DETAIL_02 JAGUAR_XE_S_DETAIL_03 JAGUAR_XE_S_DETAIL_04 JAGUAR_XE_S_DETAIL_05 JAGUAR_XE_S_DYNAMIC_01 JAGUAR_XE_S_DYNAMIC_02 JAGUAR_XE_S_DYNAMIC_03 JAGUAR_XE_S_INT_01 JAGUAR_XE_S_INT_02 JAGUAR_XE_S_INT_03 JAGUAR_XE_S_INT_04 JAGUAR_XE_S_INT_05 JAGUAR_XE_S_INT_06 JAGUAR_XE_S_INT_07 JAGUAR_XE_S_LONDON_01 JAGUAR_XE_S_LONDON_02 Jaguar XE World Premier Jaguar XE World Premier Jag_XE_Helicopter_Image_080914_04 Jag_XE_Landing_Craft_Image_080914_01 Jag_XE_Landing_Craft_Image_080914_02 Jag_XE_Landing_Craft_Image_080914_03 Jag_XE_Landing_Craft_Image_080914_04 Jag_XE_Landing_Craft_Image_080914_05

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Mazda MX-5 Turbo Video Was Just A Teaser http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/mazda-mx-5-turbo-video-just-teaser/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/mazda-mx-5-turbo-video-just-teaser/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 18:30:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909049 The now-famous teaser video that had the whole world wondering about a possible turbo on the 2016 Mazda MX-5 turned out to be a red herring. According to our source, the vehicle used for the teaser video is actually a modified NB Miata with an aftermarket turbo kit, hence the audible woosh of a turbocharger. […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

The now-famous teaser video that had the whole world wondering about a possible turbo on the 2016 Mazda MX-5 turned out to be a red herring.

According to our source, the vehicle used for the teaser video is actually a modified NB Miata with an aftermarket turbo kit, hence the audible woosh of a turbocharger. Over at Jalopnik, there’s a picture of the engine taken by Travis Okulski, which appears to show no turbocharger present. If I were a betting man, I’d wager that the next MX-5 will be naturally aspirated.

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Just A Reminder That You Don’t Need To Wait For A Swoopy Miata http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/just-reminder-dont-need-wait-swoopy-miata/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/just-reminder-dont-need-wait-swoopy-miata/#comments Sun, 07 Sep 2014 12:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=908401 Two and a half years ago, I asked an important question, to wit: “If a guy in a shed can make the Miata pretty, why can’t Mazda do it?” Well, I think Mazda’s finally done it. The new Miata is, at the very least, striking. Simpson Design hasn’t stood still in the past thirty months, […]

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Two and a half years ago, I asked an important question, to wit: “If a guy in a shed can make the Miata pretty, why can’t Mazda do it?” Well, I think Mazda’s finally done it. The new Miata is, at the very least, striking.

Simpson Design hasn’t stood still in the past thirty months, however: my favorite restyling company in the world has now come up with a variety of restyles for the NB second-generation Miata, and although they aren’t cheap, they are lovely.

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Simpson currently offers four kits for the NB Miata, all of them takes on the original round-recessed-headlight “Italia” restyle of the NA Miata. The convertible is the cheapest, costing under $20,000 on an NB that you provide.

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The interior restyle is slightly more convincing than it was on the first-gen cars:

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There’s a subtle and delightful reverse-curved-window coupe available:

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Most of these cars cost $29,900 with an NB that you provide. Here’s a low mileage car that probably sold for seven grand or thereabouts so you’re looking at $40,000 by the time you do everything and get the car all the way up to snuff. You could buy a car with major cosmetic issues or some crash damage for less.

So why pay forty grand for a Miata that looks vaguely like an old Ferrari? Well, you won’t see yourself coming and going in it, it’s a great conversation piece no matter where you go, and it retains most of the Miata virtues. Think of it as a modern Fiat Spider or something. Not the weird slashy-looking Chris Bangle Fiat Spider, but the old Pinifariana 124.

Or you could spend forty grand and buy a two-year-old Vette droptop and smoke the Italia’s four-cylinder ass from here to Atlantic City.

Your choice.

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2016 Mazda MX-5 Packing Tons Of Tech http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2016-mazda-mx-5-packing-tons-tech/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2016-mazda-mx-5-packing-tons-tech/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 19:06:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=907321   The current generation Mazda MX-5 is pretty light on tech gizmos – the current car doesn’t even have Bluetooth, let alone navigation or a USB port. But the upcoming ND MX-5 will reverse that, with a generous suite of the latest in technology and safety features. After getting a closer look at a Japanese-spec […]

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The current generation Mazda MX-5 is pretty light on tech gizmos – the current car doesn’t even have Bluetooth, let alone navigation or a USB port. But the upcoming ND MX-5 will reverse that, with a generous suite of the latest in technology and safety features.

After getting a closer look at a Japanese-spec prototype, it appears that the new MX-5 will have an Adaptive Front-Lighting System Blind Spot Monitoring a Lane Departure Warning System and even a start-stop system. Whether these make it to America is unknown – I’d wager that start-stop will likely stay in world markets and not make it over here, but we could see the other features on higher end trim levels.

Also on board is a DVD-based navigation system, as well as multiple slots for USB, SD and MicroSD ports. The DVD slot is located behind the armrest, which also holds a storage compartment in lieu of a glovebox.

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That Green Car: Winning And Losing At Your Own Auction http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/green-car-winning-losing-auction/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/green-car-winning-losing-auction/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 18:27:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=906721 Jack Baruth has a very thoughtful post on selling his green stick, apparently an Audi. (See No Fixed Above: Stick it to ‘em.) Here I delve into his logic as a devil’s advocate. A key observation throughout his post is that most (newish) used cars move through dealerships, and for many there is an auction […]

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Jack Baruth has a very thoughtful post on selling his green stick, apparently an Audi. (See No Fixed Above: Stick it to ‘em.) Here I delve into his logic as a devil’s advocate.

A key observation throughout his post is that most (newish) used cars move through dealerships, and for many there is an auction through a Mannheim or Adesa in between the trade-in and the used car lot. The same is true in Japan: the graphic above is of a car auction in Osaka, though on-site buyers sit at computers with a huge display of the two virtual “lanes” with no audible action. (For more see my post on a June 2014 visit at Auto Auctions, Japanese Style.)

1. Now you and I may want a stand-out color, but I think if Jack talked to marketing people, this blandness comes from careful study of what color choices consumers make – not from dealers and auctions. After all, there remain regional differences in color preferences across the US, and particularly for high-end cars there’s a significant bespoke demand. Dealers only see a small and potentially unrepresentative slice of the market. Furthermore, color decisions have to be made well before the start of production, long before dealers get a chance to order. Things can and do go wrong in paint shops (I’ve been through BMW Spartanburg with PPG as guide, gloating over a problem their rival BASF was having). Things get tested in advance. Color choices must be made on a predictive basis.

As it happens, there’s a good history of the professionization of colorists, of how such predictions are made: Regina Lee Blaszczyk’s book, The Color Revolution, MIT 2012. She spoke at the Business History Conference a few years back at the Hagley Museum outside Wilmington; DuPont was central to mass-market cars being available in color, and their museum has some wonderful examples. Be warned, though: a lot of her book is about the fashion industry and about the technical side of developing color systems and color cards, and on experimental psychology with color perception, and not just the impact of wartime camouflage experts bringing their skills to Earl Harley’s design studios where they could play with DuPont’s new Duco paints.

2. Back to used cars. I think Jack argues that the variance of niche markets is high. Jack was fortunate in that he got a “high” draw, finding that match with someone else who really wanted a stick shift in a green package. High variance means that when you may have the opposite experience when you try to sell your pink Cadillac – wasn’t that a Mary Kay cosmetics thing? – and you may get a bad draw. Indeed, the only pink Caddy I know is used purely for its decorative value, such as that is, parked outside the Pink Cadillac cafe in Fancy Hill, Virginia. That use surely reflects a low market value, not a high one – be warned!

3. Jack is very correct in noting that dealerships need to turn their inventory. What he fails to point out is that he personally bore the same costs. So let’s detail those:

  • Jack surely continued to insure his car,
  • he accumulated (pro-rated) property tax and paid various annual registration fees,
  • he lost the use of the part of his garage in which it sat,
  • he lost the opportunity of having that new drive he wanted today rather than months from now,
  • he continued to face the slow but inexorable depreciation from which all cars suffer, and
  • he had to personally put in time first marketing his car and then acting as his own salesman.

Now personally Jack may have had fun being a used car salesman, and playing with Craigslist and similar services, so those weren’t costs, they were benefits. Would that be true for you? Particularly if it takes 6 months to sell your Pink Cadillac? And if you can’t sell your old wheels immediately, the other costs add up: the longer you wait, the lower the net price you are actually charging.

A dealer sitting on an inventory of 200 cars can’t ignore such costs. You shouldn’t ignore them either, and you may not be so lucky in making a good match.

4. Indeed, I suspect the buyer of Jack’s car must have had money to burn: if you are lusting after a lime green car, why would you tell the seller that? Instead you’ll make a lowball bid: when markets are thin, the buy-sell (ask-offer) spread is high. You can find a bargain if you’re patient as a buyer, and are good at bluffing when you’re holding a losing hand. You can lose a lot if you’re impatient as a seller, and not a good horse trader.

5. Conclusion: Jack offered one anecdote of coming out well in a thin market. Here’s mine of doing not so well, shopping for a vehicle with niche specs on a Chevy Cruze early this year.

Sticks aren’t popular, and for a daily drive in DC they were less popular than dealers had hoped – I know why, having made a day trip from the mountains of Virginia into stop-and-go traffic in my Cruze. My guess is that the dealer may well have accepted them as part of their allotment (standard factory “push” marketing, where dealers must accept unpopular combinations of features). So even though we made it clear that a stick was what we wanted, we also made it clear that we weren’t going to hang around if they tried to get a premium from us. We got what appeared to be a very good price, I spent quite a bit of internet time checking things out. Our hand was weakened a little when we didn’t want black, not many in inventory, but we were OK with a couple different colors [green and blue but not dark blue] and there were enough around. So we didn’t have to give back anything at that point.

When we went to pick up the vehicle and saw the actual interior, it was clear from our faces that it was no go. Black. Not just black, but some sort of textured “cloth” surface. And all the cars they had were that same black. All our negotiating power disappeared: instead of getting a better price than with an automatic, we ended up handing back a chunk of the margin, though we still paid less that what any of the other dealers we visited asked for. (They had to make a dealer trade, so out of pocket costs may have eaten up that difference.)

So thin markets are thin markets, patience and negotiating skills matter.  But those niche cars are out there. You don’t have to pay to be bland, but it does carry risk.

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Dispatches do Brazil: Ethanol Levels in Gasoline, Car Killer or Life Saver? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/dispatches-brazil-ethanol-levels-gasoline-car-killer-life-saver/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/dispatches-brazil-ethanol-levels-gasoline-car-killer-life-saver/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 16:34:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=907209 The Senate of Brazil has just approved the law permitting that an additional 2.5% of anhydrous ethanol be put into what is sold as gasoline in this country. After an increase in 2013 from the previous 20% limit to 25, now cars will have to adjust to the new limit of 27.5%. Now, gasoline cars, […]

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The Senate of Brazil has just approved the law permitting that an additional 2.5% of anhydrous ethanol be put into what is sold as gasoline in this country. After an increase in 2013 from the previous 20% limit to 25, now cars will have to adjust to the new limit of 27.5%. Now, gasoline cars, made to run on fuels with much less ethanol content, will now have to perform with as much as 30% of ethanol in their fuel.

This time around, the National Association of Autopropelled Vehicle Makers (Anfavea, which encompasses most car manufacturers present in Brazil) openly criticized the measure. According to Anfavea’s president, Luiz Moan, the government asked for the association’s input and they conducted a study that came back with some rather alarming info,

“Our engineers point out that there will be a 20% increase of aldehyde pollutants emissions and 75% of NOx emissions. We are very worried, because this will reduce clients’ levels of satisfaction and will be a negative for the environment.”

Besides this, Mr. Moan highlighted that even though flex fuel cars are not affected, gasoline only powered cars, which make up 38% of this country’s fleet, estimated at 14.4 million, will have firing issues, corrosion problems in metallic parts in contact with the new fuel and that rubber parts should also suffer and face durability issues. Finally, even flex fuel cars will pay for this at the pump as global consumption for all kinds of cars will increase between 2.5 and 3%.

Seeking some confirmation on this, I called my mechanic. He rubbed his hands and said gasoline powered cars will have all sorts of engine problems as more ethanol would affect metallic parts. People will have to change sparkplugs earlier, fuel pumps, especially electric ones, should start failing forthwith and exhaust pipes will be corroded and in need of changing. As to flex fuel cars he said the newer the better, but even some of them could present problems. According to him, even if more resistant to corrosion, flex fuel car parts also face more problems, especially those related to start up and detonation as these parts do tend to go sooner on cars that use ethanol. However, he did point out that, in general, ethanol is burned more efficiently so problems with sludge formation are minimized. Asked what he recommends he said, “Gasoline always”.

However, more acclaimed engineers and professors disagree. Renato Romio, head of the Motors and Vehicles Division of the respected Brazilian research center Insituto de Tecnologia Mauá said that certainly flex fuel vehicle will handle the increased ethanol content without any problem whatsoever, but that for cars built to run on gasoline, things are not so clear. According to him, there are tolerances built into Brazilian cars for ethanol, but that these have varied over time. He stresses that, “roughly-speaking, there should be no problems”, but he does agree that cars built in the 90s, with electronic injection, could present some functioning problems as well as pollute more on a case by case basis.

Franciso Nigro, considered one of the “fathers” of the ethanol powered car, and today a professor at the renowned Escola Politécnica of the University of São Paulo is even more confident of the capacity of even gasoline cars to run well even with the increased ethanol content. He declares that though the buyer will be buying less energy, this should represent only a 1% drop in consumption levels and that there will be no unwarranted wear on the engines,

“Car makers use materials made to be ethanol resistant and we {Brazilian car makers} have been doing this for a long time. The differences are small and the engines make up for it. Increased consumption is almost imperceptible.”

Echoing the experts’ words, the Sugarcane Industry Union (UNICA, which congregates the whole sugarcane industry chain sector) that proposed the measure to the Ministry of Agriculture back in April, 2014, is all for it. Its president, Elizabeth Farina, seeking sympathy for their cause, appealed to consumers’ wallet,

“Any increase in the mix of ethanol into gasoline means the substitution of a component, pure gasoline that costs R$2.4 per liter at the refinery, by another, anhydrous ethanol sold by the producer for around R$1.5. This difference allows for, potentially, a reduction in the final price of gasoline at the pump.”

According to Ms. Farina, raising the mix to 27.5% is a question of coherence, since the government has been controlling and keeping gasoline prices low at the refinery level (a state company, Petrobras, refines almost all the gasoline in Brazil) and causing the sugarcane sector enormous problems. Always according to UNICA’s president, the increase will end up benefitting Petrobras itself as the artificial squashing of internal gasoline prices under production or importation levels has led to an explosion in gasoline consumption. More ethanol in gasoline would not only help Petrobras control its bottom line, it would also be good for the country of Brazil itself since the country’s trade balance would be helped along staying in the black as there would be no need to spend foreign currency reserves on gasoline.

UNICA claims ethanol’s advantages over gasoline in environmental terms are “widely known and profound”. It points to a University of São Paulo study showing that the better air quality obtained with more ethanol usage leads to less hospitalizations for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, less deaths and costs for public health care. Besides that, the use of ethanol would reduce up to 90% the emissions of climatic change causing gases. UNICA even throws in the EPA into their defense, saying that that number has led the American agency to classify Brazilian biofuel as “advanced” and that Brazilian ethanol is the only worldwide large-scale production operation to earn that grade.

Disputing Anfavea’s numbers, UNICA has their own. According to them aldehyde pollutant emissions will increase by only 15% and 20% in the case of NOx emissions. The sugarcane industry entity argues that any damage from that is far outweighed by ethanol burning cars producing much less of other kinds of pollutants, like sulfur oxides and carcinogenic hydrocarbons like benzene (in direct proportion to the rise in ethanol usage), not to mention carbonic gases, carbon monoxides, different organic hydrocarbons and particulate matter. Finally, UNICA claims cars should experience in consumption of only 1%.

As to the government, the official proponent of the rise, the Ministry of Agriculture, cites the need to balance ethanol production and consumption and the need to continue incentivizing the sugarcane sector because of the creation of technology, jobs, protection of the environment, among other factors. Of course, naysayers affirm this measure contemplates other interests, like the need for the government to control inflation, most especially in an election year.

Depending now just on the authorization of the Minister of Mines and Energy, Brazilians will soon be using more ethanol in their cars, unsure of what the final impact of this decision will be on them directly. Dependent as always on the currents and countercurrents of the big boys’ games, they feel like so much flotsam on a dirty beach.

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2016 Mazda MX-5 Live Shots, Technical Details http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2016-mazda-mx-5-live-shots-technical-details/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2016-mazda-mx-5-live-shots-technical-details/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 11:31:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=906073 Mazda’s newest MX-5 appeared live at an event in California, and although Mazda was stingy with details, we managed to get a few. As mentioned in an earlier post, the new car, dubbed ND, should weigh an incredible 2280 lbs. It will also be 154 inches in length, 4 inches shorter than the current car. […]

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Mazda’s newest MX-5 appeared live at an event in California, and although Mazda was stingy with details, we managed to get a few.

As mentioned in an earlier post, the new car, dubbed ND, should weigh an incredible 2280 lbs. It will also be 154 inches in length, 4 inches shorter than the current car. The base wheels will be 16″ with 195/50 Yokohama Advans while the larger wheels will use 205/40/17 Bridgestone RE050′s, the same grippy, 140 treadwear rated tires as used on the Ford Fiesta ST. Rims will have 4 bolts, leading to speculation that they will be 4×100 and able to use old Miata rims.

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2015 Mazda3 To Get 2.5L/6-Speed Manual Combination http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2015-mazda3-get-2-5l6-speed-manual-combination/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2015-mazda3-get-2-5l6-speed-manual-combination/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 11:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=906097 Our biggest complaint surrounding the 2014 Mazda3 was the lack of a stick shift option in the 2.5L, 184-horsepower 4-cylinder engine. We felt that the 155-horsepower 2.0L engine was just too limp for the car’s otherwise excellent chassis, but the lack of a manual with the big motor was a disappointment. No longer. A Mazda […]

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Our biggest complaint surrounding the 2014 Mazda3 was the lack of a stick shift option in the 2.5L, 184-horsepower 4-cylinder engine. We felt that the 155-horsepower 2.0L engine was just too limp for the car’s otherwise excellent chassis, but the lack of a manual with the big motor was a disappointment. No longer.

A Mazda source tells us that 2015 Mazda3′s will be available with both the big motor and the 6-speed manual. While this is good news for manual fans, there’s one big issue: the Skyactiv 6AT box is really good. I even think it’s the better of the two gearboxes. But I’d still pick the manual for myself, even if it’s not what I’d recommend to everyone else.

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Canada Gets Another Exclusive Product http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/canada-gets-another-exclusive-product/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/canada-gets-another-exclusive-product/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 04:45:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=906225 Fans of the Mazda5 may not be able to buy one in the United States anymore, but Canadian buyers will continue to be able to purchase Mazda’s microvan for the foreseeable future. A Mazda source told us that the Mazda5 will soldier on in Canada, which also gets the Canada-exclusive Kia Rondo and Chevrolet Orlando. […]

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Fans of the Mazda5 may not be able to buy one in the United States anymore, but Canadian buyers will continue to be able to purchase Mazda’s microvan for the foreseeable future.

A Mazda source told us that the Mazda5 will soldier on in Canada, which also gets the Canada-exclusive Kia Rondo and Chevrolet Orlando. Apparently, volumes (though declining) are sufficient to keep importing the small minivan – for now. The biggest challenge is the sub-$20,000 Dodge Caravan, though Mazda is apparently able to maintain market leadership in the sub-segment of buyers who desire a smaller van that is not a Caravan. In space-constrained ubran centers, this can be an advantage, though many Canadians prefer the Caravan for one simple reason: it is the cheapest way to haul two kids and their hockey bags.

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Capsule Review: Ford Fiesta 1.0L Ecoboost http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-ford-fiesta-1-0l-ecoboost/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-ford-fiesta-1-0l-ecoboost/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 12:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=904473 No alloy wheels. No automatic transmission. No fancy infotainment system. From the perspective of the Ford Fiesta 1.0L Ecoboost really doesn’t have a lot going for it – at least that’s what Kamil Kaluski thought when he tested a 4-door sedan earlier this summer. The three-cylinder Fiesta is certainly an odd duck. That’s part of […]

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No alloy wheels. No automatic transmission. No fancy infotainment system. From the perspective of the Ford Fiesta 1.0L Ecoboost really doesn’t have a lot going for it – at least that’s what Kamil Kaluski thought when he tested a 4-door sedan earlier this summer. The three-cylinder Fiesta is certainly an odd duck. That’s part of its charm.

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Due to scheduling circumstances, we spent just 36 hours with the newest Fiesta, but it was enough to get a general idea of what this car is all about.

In late 2012, Ford held media previews for the 1.0L Fiesta with European-spec cars, but it took nearly 2 years for the car to hit showrooms in North America. In between those two events, we learned that a 1.0L Fiesta with the 6-speed Powershift automatic gearbox was canned by Ford for failing to meet NVH and driveability targets. Ford was similarly vague about sales targets, refusing to give an exact number for the 1.0L.

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Our powers of deduction indicate that a major product planning shift was required for the change to a manual-only 1.0L car. Cognizant of the fact that a three-pedal configuration would restrict sales of the car to a certain demographic, Ford was subsequently unable to amortize the cost of the engine’s certification over a greater volume of sales. The apparent solution was for the 1.0L to be a lower trim “SFE” package with the increased cost of the 1.0L engine offset by the lower equipment levels.

Aside from the missing automatic transmission, the 1.0L does not have alloy wheels or the revised Fiesta’s MyFord Touch system, which might be missed on a subcompact car that costs $18,285 (less a $750 dealer incentive that is available in many markets). The upshot for Ford? Bragging rights. At 43 mpg on the highway, the 1.0L Fiesta is the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid vehicle on the market. For enthusiasts, it gives them an interesting and quirky alternative to the usual slate of subcompacts.

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The centerpiece of the SFE is the 1.0L Ecoboost, a turbocharged triple making 123 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque, a gain of three ponies and 13 lb-ft over the standard 1.6L naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine. Even so, this isn’t any kind of performance oriented option package, though it does accelerate quicker than the lethargic 1.6L mill. While the Ecoboost engine in the Fiesta ST gives you the grunt to accelerate even when you’re one gear higher than you ought to be in, the SFE requires constantly shifting to maximize the tiny turbo mill’s low-end torque. Your reward is a reserve of real, usable shove that can be called upon to shoot through gaps in traffic, while merging and overtaking on the highway no longer you to cross your fingers and hope for the best. The 5-speed transmission is neither vague nor particularly engaging, with long throws and a shift quality typical of most transverse gearboxes. The abundance of torque at low rpms and the clutch’s high engagement point make it an ideal candidate for someone to learn how to drive a manual transmission on – whether that’s a friend, family member or someone buying their first stick shift car.

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The SFE’s handling characteristics involve a similar set of tradeoffs. The electric power steering is sharp, speedy and direct, though the chassis is marked by excessive bodyroll, a soft suspension and tires that are as sporting as the captain of the Mathletes. One can only wonder how the SFE would fare with some lighter alloys, halfway decent rubber and the Ford Racing Handling Pack. Even so, it’s hard not to be charmed by the off-beat three-cylinder thrum, pointy steering and a performance envelope that is entirely within the grasp of the average driver (and the limits of the law).

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Lacking the MyFord Touch system available in other Fiestas, the SFE makes do with the basic SYNC system, which was tougher to master than one would expect. The regular SYNC unit is a maze of buttons, knobs and menus that never quite makes itself transparent. Previously, the MyFord Touch system was the lesser of two evils, but a series of improvements to its response time has made it the preferred choice on Blue Oval products. Unfortunately, the SFE doesn’t really give you a choice.

Understanding the value proposition for the 1.0L Fiesta is a bit puzzling. As Kamil noted, the lack of an automatic transmission or a rock-bottom sticker price will alienate the vast majority of North American subcompact buyers. But that may not be the best way to look at the three-cylinder Fiesta. Instead, think of it as a taste of the small-displacement economy cars that were once restricted to the other side of the Atlantic, and a test bed for future applications of boosted three-cylinder engines. The efficiency, character and quirkiness are just bonuses.

Ford provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gasoline for this review. We didn’t use very much gas.

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Bartsch: Infiniti On Track Despite Key Departures http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/bartsch-infiniti-track-despite-key-departures/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/bartsch-infiniti-track-despite-key-departures/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 12:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=905681 Though the departures of Johan de Nysschen and Andy Palmer from Infiniti and Nissan respectively may be setbacks in the premium brand’s overall trek toward becoming a proper player in the luxury game, Infiniti Americas VP Michael Bartsch believes the brand will stay the course in the end. According to Ward’s Auto, Bartsch says Infiniti’s […]

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Though the departures of Johan de Nysschen and Andy Palmer from Infiniti and Nissan respectively may be setbacks in the premium brand’s overall trek toward becoming a proper player in the luxury game, Infiniti Americas VP Michael Bartsch believes the brand will stay the course in the end.

According to Ward’s Auto, Bartsch says Infiniti’s roadmap, as designed by de Nysschen and endorsed by both Palmer and Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, is “locked in.” Further, the plan, and by extension, Infiniti, is greater than the people behind it, with a “collective stewardship of the mission and the vision” in place.

The plan calls for Infiniti to go up against the likes of BMW, Mercedes and Audi by expanding its offerings over the next few years, meeting them in 85 percent to 86 percent of the segments where the German brands currently do battle:

The reality of it is the German brands have fractured the market more than we’ve ever seen. The challenge for Infiniti at the moment is not whether we can build cars for the segment. I think our record shows very clearly we can. It’s not what we currently have, the challenge is what we don’t have. To be an effective player in (the luxury sector), you have to have range. You have to have the bandwidth.

The expansion will begin when the Q30 arrives in showrooms throughout 2015, and will feature redesigns of current vehicles, as well as possibilities for a flagship and a sports car down the line.

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Los Angeles Chevrolet Dealer Charging Six-Figures For 2014 Camaro Z/28 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/los-angeles-chevrolet-dealer-charging-six-figures-2014-camaro-z28/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/los-angeles-chevrolet-dealer-charging-six-figures-2014-camaro-z28/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 11:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=905657 A 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 would set you back at least $75,000 MSRP were you to head over to your nearest dealership. One Los Angeles dealership, however, is charging a steeper price of admission for the honor of destroying everyone at Willow Springs and Irwindale. Jalopnik subsidiary Car Buying says Felix Chevrolet has a black-on-black […]

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A 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 would set you back at least $75,000 MSRP were you to head over to your nearest dealership. One Los Angeles dealership, however, is charging a steeper price of admission for the honor of destroying everyone at Willow Springs and Irwindale.

Jalopnik subsidiary Car Buying says Felix Chevrolet has a black-on-black 2014 model for the reasonable price of $106,165, a markup of just over $30,000. Though someone in Beverly Hills — or Justin Bieber — may be more than willing to pay that particular toll, the blog found a dealership 40 minutes away in Santa Ana charging $76,645 for a black-on-black Z/28 on its floor. Since Disneyland is nearby, the lucky owner can used the $30,000 they would have spent in L.A. to buy quite a few passes and souvenirs.

Other dealerships whose prices are in the five-figures include Good Chevrolet near Seattle ($86,150); Schumacher Chevrolet near New York ($74,995); and — with the lowest price of all dealerships in the United States — Lorenzo Bomnin Chevrolet in Miami ($66,999).

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Discovery, We Hardly Knew Ye http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/discovery-hardly-knew-ye/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/discovery-hardly-knew-ye/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 01:34:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=905201 The uproar over the Ford Explorer’s move to a unibody, car-based platform was deafening, largely led by a chorus of internet know-it-alls who found it convenient to be outraged when it meant the opportunity for clicks (and were otherwise contemptuous of anything with a raised ride height and two box shape). No such outrage has […]

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The uproar over the Ford Explorer’s move to a unibody, car-based platform was deafening, largely led by a chorus of internet know-it-alls who found it convenient to be outraged when it meant the opportunity for clicks (and were otherwise contemptuous of anything with a raised ride height and two box shape). No such outrage has been present for the new Land Rover Discovery’s err, crossing over.

I never cared much for the Disco, the LR3 or LR4, as they came to be known. Former EIC Baruth adored his ’97 5-speed Discovery, but where I grew up, they were little more than glorified carpool taxi, never seeing terrain more rugged than a gravel driveway.

The move to a unibody platform makes sense, no matter how hard the Land Rover faithful (or non-buying purists) might protest. Land Rover, like many great marques, has come a lifestyle brand, albeit with far less merchandising than some other premium nameplates. The newest Disco is a great accoutrement, and probably a very nice vehicle, if JLR’s latest crop of cars is anything to go by.

Its biggest flaws will be that

  • A crop of non-buying know-it-alls finds it unsatisfactory due to its lack of off-road chops
  • For many self-conscious buyers, it won’t be the most expensive Land Rover products, thus making it a shameful “poverty spec” alternative to the Range Rover lineup

Ironically, the very point of the Discovery range (as it will now be called) is to fulfill both of those mandates. No matter – since the Explorer moved to a more car-like unibody design, sales have increased each year JLR will sell plenty of Discos too.

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Subaru Reviving The WRX Hatchback? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/subaru-reviving-wrx-hatchback/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/subaru-reviving-wrx-hatchback/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 19:33:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=904969 When the latest Subaru WRX was released, the enthusiast fan base was forced to suffer the indignity of a sedan-only lineup. Subaru’s company line was that there weren’t sufficient resources to develop a hatchback model as well. But that might be changing. A hatchback WRX mule was spied undergoing hot weather testing, with a WRX […]

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When the latest Subaru WRX was released, the enthusiast fan base was forced to suffer the indignity of a sedan-only lineup. Subaru’s company line was that there weren’t sufficient resources to develop a hatchback model as well. But that might be changing.

A hatchback WRX mule was spied undergoing hot weather testing, with a WRX front end grafted onto an Impreza hatchback bodyshell. Given the popularity of hatchbacks in both world markets, and the WRX hatch’s fanbase stateside (where it accounted for about 45 percent of WRX sales), there’s a good case for its return.

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