MINI is the most unlikely successful new brand in America. Why? Because the brand’s “tiny transportation” ethos is at odds with America’s “bigger is better” mantra. Of course, these contradictory philosophies explain why the modern MINI is nowhere near as mini as Minis used to be. Still with me? Hang on to your hats because the German owners of the iconic British brand have decided American domination hinges on making the biggest MINI yet. Enter the MINI Countryman. Or as I like to call it, the MINI Maxi.
Before 2011, if you were looking for a hot hatch but wanted something MINIer than a Cooper, your options were limited to the less than smart Smart BRABUS. With fuel costs on the rise and fuel economy targets looming, MINI and Fiat are hoping to tempt “sporty” shoppers into something smaller and more practical. This week we have the MINI answer to the question: why doesn’t MINI make a heavier John Cooper Works (JCW) without back seats? We kid, we kid. But in all seriousness, why would you buy the MINI Coupé instead of the four-seater JCW Cooper, JCW Roadster or even the sexy Italian we tested last week? Read More >
“Drives like a go-kart”. Is there a more time-worn, hackneyed cliche in automotive journalism? Although this phrase is meant to heap praise on a lightweight, nimble vehicle that offers superlative handling, I can’t think of a more damning insult to saddle a modern road car with than to liken it to a proper kart.
I currently drive a 2005 MINI Cooper S convertible. I’ve been swapping winter/summer tires for the past few years but I was thinking that this year I might get a beater car for the harsher weather months. The combination of FWD and wear and tear on the fabric roof are my main reasons for these considerations.
I live in NJ, so most of my driving is on the highway but as part of my job as a systems admin in a datacenter, I’m occasionally called into work at times when even the highways haven’t been plowed.
Do you think it’s possible to find a cheap (around $1000), preferably AWD car that would work well for winters in the northeast? Craigslist searches so far have turned up a handful of Subarus, Volvos, and Audis Quattro.
Abarth was founded in 1952 as a “one-stop-shop” for Fiat performance gear. What does that have to do with the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth? Nothing. Seriously. In 1971 Abarth was purchased by Fiat, by the 1990s the “brand” had deteriorated to a trim level on questionable hatchbacks and by 2000 it was “dead trim walking.” In 2007 Fiat decided they needed a performance brand once again and resurrected Abarth with the inexplicably named “Fiat Grande Punto Abarth” and (more importantly) a complete line of clothing and accessories. Despite the apparent soft start for the brand in the Euro-zone, Fiat tells us they held nothing back for the launch of Abarth in North America. Our own tame racing driver Jack took the Abarth for a spin on the track back in March but this time we’re pitting Italy’s hot hatch against a bigger challenge: the daily commute.
Sometime toward the end of my high school years, “fast fashion” shops like Zara and H&M set up shop in at the local malls, and became the place to shop. The clothing there wasn’t any better than the Gap or the Ralph Lauren remainders at Marshall’s, but if you paid for your own clothes, you would have been silly to shop anywhere else.
Shopping at those stores went beyond mere fashion considerations. If you spilled beer all over your shirt at a party, it wasn’t even worth sending it to the dry cleaners. Just throw it in the washing machine and hope it comes out. If that fails, pay $9.99 for another one. Eventually, people got wise to the fact that after three washes, the clothes tended to fall apart, but we willingly ignored the cheapness because we could look cool on a tight budget. Which is exactly why the Fiat 500 exists.
Even though the Vauxhall Adam is named after its German twin’s founder, the British arm of General Motors felt it necessary to steal the ailing brand’s thunder, and release photos of their new city car – as if stealing production of the Astra wasn’t enough.
Remember DC Designs? It is the same company which made the 3-door Evoque-alike. DC Designs has also developed its own supercar, India’s first and only home-made supercar. Known as the Avanti, the vehicle looks fabulous at the front, just about average at the sides and terrible at the rear. The interiors feature bucket seats, the quality seems to be below average. Read More >
“If you want a Veloster Turbo, you can buy one right now – it’s called the Genesis Coupe.”
That’s what Hyundai CEO John Krafcik told us at the launch of the Veloster last year, when asked about the possibility of a performance version of Hyundai’s distinctive-looking hatchback. Less than a year later, we have a boosted Veloster and a Genesis Coupe that’s better than ever.
History repeats itself. I repeat, History repeats…well, you see my point. Which was probably one of the reasons why my creations in Car Design College were universally panned as being “too retro”, among other things. It was a similar fate given to Lenny Kravitz, except he was very talented in his form of artistic expression. And while you can’t “sell” most design studios on the power of history, I present to you the latest Nash/AMC Rambler.
I mean Nissan Leaf. You’ll have to forgive me for seeing the similarity between the two, in spirit, historical context and on the Vellum. Read More >
Finally, the real story on the Hyundai Veloster Turbo pricing is here. $22,725 (including the $775 destination fee). A 6-speed automatic is another $1,000.
A little acceleration. A lot of plastic, and a Lilliputian’s worth of smallness.
The Fiat 500C Cabrio that had been parked on my driveway seemed like a small car’s dream gone by. There were a few chrome accents. A soft top that retracted like an old power curtain contrivance from a 1960′s James Bond movie. Power? The spec sheet showed only 101 horsepower and a mild level of torque. To be brutally blunt, I was ready to be subjected to a Corolla’s worth of acceleration with enough wind buffeting to make the experience not even worth the effort.
Then I turned the key…
In the summer of 1989, I was ten going on eleven. The fastest car I had yet ridden in was probably my dad’s 535i, clocked by the CHiP at well over the tonne, a ticket which the patriarch of the family talked himself out of with a “Not bad, right?”
It was hard to say if I really cared about cars yet: obviously they were important to my dad, and I’d already learned to drive our Series III Land Rover at walking pace on the banks of the Fraser River, but there were new Pirate sets coming from Lego, and G.I. Joe had just released a barely-disguised SR-71 Blackbird for the Cobra forces. Sean Connery had joined Harrison Ford in a quest for the Holy Grail. A friend had just gotten the new, side-scrolling Zelda Game.
The world was full of simple distractions for a young man: Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, E.T. and Ewoks, Yop bottles filled with vinegar and baking soda, Thundercats and Space Quest III.
Then, one day, in the basement of a Ladysmith home, I climbed behind the wheel of a 16-bit Porsche 959 and the whole world changed. I was exposed to the founding tenet of automotive enthusiasm.
What? The supercar? Don’t be daft, I’m talking about arguing. Read More >
As TTAC’s official reviewer of all things “emerging market cast-offs sent to Canada”, I’ll be busy again in Q4 2012, when I get my hands on a Chevrolet Trax.
Has Mini’s over-propagation of vehicles gotten so bad that we’re actually cheering when a new special isn’t a silly two-seater or pseudo-crossover? The Mini John Cooper Works GP may be overpriced, but at least it’s got its heart in the right place.