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In a few years, we might not have much of a domestic car industry anymore. And I’ll be grumpy, because despite all the stupid General Motors made out over the years, from crappy products (Equinox) to crappily built products (everything from 1972 to 2002), they really had some cars that were fascinating to car lovers. And that’s part of why they’re going out of business: they made interesting cars with mediocrity. They should have stuck to Toyota’s business plan and made extremely boring cars very well. In Europe, though, that’s what GM did. I’ve just driven the Vauxhall Zafira, and I can tell you that if GM had it in America they’d be trillionaires. Because it’s the most boring car I’ve ever driven.
Review: 2009 Vauxhall Zafira Car Review Rating
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.
Review: 2009 HUMMER H3 Car Review Rating
Ten Best Nominations Are Now Closed
The truth hurts. But not always. Sometimes the truth about cars is the key to genuine insight and automotive ecstasy. This is one of those times, when TTAC's Best and Brightest select their annual Ten Best automobiles. In other words, this is your chance to help the wider world discover genuine automotive excellence, and reward those who produce it with a much-deserved hat tip. The name of this collective endeavor changes, but the rules remain the same: you nominate the cars, our writers narrow your selection to 20, then you get the final say on the Ten Best [more details below]. But before we get stuck in, here's a recap of last year's winners…
Will someone knock the king off of the hill?
Before Black Tuesday, the autoblogosphere was abuzz with news of Fiat's return to the U.S. market. Details have been sparse and shifty, but the message is clear: American Alfisti will finally get their hands on the automotive brand renowned for Italian passion and style. Maybe. Eventually. Of course, when Alfa retreated from the eastern seaboard to the Amalfi Coast some 14 years ago, their cars were also known for Communist Bloc reliability. Assuming Alfa's got that sorted (deep breath), I've tracked down an Alfa Romeo Spider Graduate to see what the fuss was– and perhaps will be– all about.
1986 Alfa Romeo Spider Graduate Review Car Review Rating
I love European "people's" cars. The Renault R4, the Fiat Uno and Punto, Peugeots 205 to 207, the early Golfs– they were all affordable and fun to drive with more character than Marcello Mastroianni. By the same token, I hate what Lee Iacocca called PODS. Lido was referring to Chryslers, but plenty of manufacturers have built cars for Poor Old Dumb Shits. PODS-mobiles are often Russian; Lada leading the pack. More recently, they hail from Korea or Malaysia. They're cheap to buy, miserable to operate and not at all economical to own (as CityRover owners found out). When considering Europe's cheapest car– the Romanian-built Dacia Logan– you have to wonder if the penalty box tradition continues.
2008 Dacia Logan MCV 1.5 dCi Review Car Review Rating
According to GM Car Czar Bob Lutz, “The electrification of the automobile is inevitable.” Inevitability also applies to the sun going cold. But with rising gas prices, some of us old timers are getting impatient (having had our youthful appetite whetted by GM’s Electrovair way back in 1966). The Li-ion-powered Tesla Roadster is simultaneously sold out and yet not in production. Dozens of other miraculous EV’s are just a $5k deposit and an infinitely adjustable (and not so inevitable) delivery date away. Meanwhile, down at your local Zap dealer, the banner proclaims: “saving the planet, one vehicle at a time.” And their Xebra is all charged-up and ready to roll.
2008 Zap Xebra Review Car Review Rating
I’m sitting in an Alfa 147, about to fire her up. I cast my mind back to the Alfasud: a beautiful, mellifluous, affordable vehicle that introduced a generation of drivers to the joys of performance motoring. I remember summer evenings in an open Spider, a peerless pre-Miata combination of boulevardier and Lotus-like lane pilot; a car whose zingy note merged happily with the sound of estival insects. I also conjure-up a trip to France in a sonorous, serious, quick-steering Giulia, where I felt like a character in a Truffaut movie. So, will the 147 be another driver’s Alfa that rasps, bites and feels alive?
Alfa Romeo 147 1.6-liter Twin Spark Review Car Review Rating
GM Global Product Maven Maximum Bob Lutz claims that satisfying new U.S. federal fuel economy regulations will cost the consumer an additional $6k per car, on average. That seems a bit of a strange statement, as there are already plenty of cars capable of besting the freshly-minted mandate. From Japan to Jerusalem, from Mumbai to Milan, the world is filled, and filling, with suitably fuel efficient passenger cars. The real question is whether or not America is ready– make that “willing”– to buy the same sort of frugal machines that the rest of the world has been driving for years. Take the Fiat Grande Punto. Please.
2008 Fiat Grande Punto Review Car Review Rating
Test driving a vehicle on India’s rugged roads requires a different set of priorities. Put it this way: after two weeks and over 4000kms in the ‘all-new' Mahindra & Mahindra Scorpio, no part of my body was crying out for chiropractic manipulation. This proves two things. First, the Scorpio is an extremely comfortable long-distance cruiser over tortured tarmac. And second, I'm not getting signs of early arthritis; I’ve just been driving the wrong car.
Before I write another word, let’s get one thing straight: the Saleen S331 Supercharged Sport Truck is a RIDICULOUS MACHINE. Climbing into its cab is like boarding the Space Shuttle. The S331’s engine fires-up with all the subtlety of the shuttle’s SRB’s. After the small voice in your head counts down to zero, the truck launches with all the fury of… Well, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here. Suffice it to say, you don’t have to be a Three Stooges Fan to know that something completely ridiculous can also make you laugh with delight.
Saleen S331 Supercharged Sport Truck Review Car Review Rating
You heeded our call. You nominated the cars you considered the best of the best. Without fear or favor, TTAC’s tenacious tribe of telic keyboard tappers selected twenty vehicles from your list of over a hundred superlative automobiles. You voted for 10 of them, creating our first annual Ten Best Automobiles. The voting was often extremely close, but the end result was never in doubt: a selection of ten automobiles that any self-respecting motorist would be proud to own, and delighted to drive. Ladies and gentlemen, raise your tea mugs as I present to you: TTAC’s Ten Best for 2007.
I admire AMG. The German uber-tuners are the world’s largest purveyor of $100k+ automobiles, and deservedly so. Meanwhile, Alpina has been tweaking BMW’s in a similarly monstrous fashion since 1961. Unlike AMG, Alpina remains independent from the corporate mothership upon which it depends (although it builds its models at Bimmer’s factories). Hence Merc sells 25 AMG cars for every Alpina and brings AMG’s to market in strict cadence with their “normal” siblings. Hence Alpina sells Americans their B7, an M7 in all but name, only when they’re good and ready to do so. So now they’re ready. Are we?
Tesla Motors says it's taken 350 deposits for their Lotus Elise-based, lithium ion-propelled, $92k Roadster. Despite this success, Tesla's hyper-exotic may offer more hype than hope. The company won't allow expert evaluation of their product until it's "ready for market." Even before they've delivered a single Roadster, they're promising two additional, mass market electric vehicles– whose enabling technology is, at best, under-developed. Meanwhile, they've raised $60m in venture capital and secured $20m in state subsidies to build a New Mexican factory. To find out if the Tesla Roadster is keeping it real for planet Earth, or DeLorean/Tucker redux, we sent our man Shoemaker to Tesla for a "test drive."
When GM suddenly decided it needed a convincing small car for the US market, Car Czar Bob Lutz scanned his European operations and fixed his once-steely gaze on the next gen Opel Astra. Unfortunately, GM’s bean counters confirmed what common sense suggested: labor costs, transportation costs, unfavorable exchange rates and competitive pricing preclude the possibility of profit. Maximum Bob was undeterred, claiming GM will build the “Saturn Astra” in the US if it succeeds (i.e. loses them lots of money). All of which raises an important question: does the Astra have what it takes to sell stateside?