Category: Other

Other Reviews

Fiat, Tesla, Alfa, Alpina, Scorpio & Saleen Car Reviews
By on May 7, 2009

Why did Maybach put a speedometer in the rear of the cabin? The salesman’s line: “so you can tell the driver to slow down.” I don’t think so. Plutocrats don’t get to be plutocrats by ambling about, caring about the hired help’s driving record or hiring chauffeurs who can’t drive safely. [NB: Mohammed Al Fayed wasn’t a plutocrat.] My explanation: velocity equals distance over time. Maybach figured its patrons would want to note their speed, check the flanking clock and calculate when they’d get to where they’re going. In other other words, Maybach owners would want to know when they’re going to leave their Maybach. The roof-mounted speedo embodies the luxury limo’s underlying philosophy. Maybach. The ideal conveyance for people who’d rather be somewhere else.

Review: 2006 Maybach 57S Car Review Rating

By on April 29, 2009

Per Wikipedia, the Marxist theory of False Consciousness claims, “material processes in capitalist society are misleading to the proletariat.” Trabants aside, it’s pretty clear that the founders of Communism would love today’s Smart ForTwo. It’s the one-dimensional vehicle that denies its occupants the luxury of time, space and value. But it’ll pop eyeballs like Gisele Bündchen in a Target. It didn’t hurt that my tester had the blessings of noted Mercedes tuner, Carlsson Autotechnik. Too bad it didn’t help.

Review: 2009 Carlsson Smart ForTwo Car Review Rating

By on March 13, 2009

Walked into a HUMMER dealership lately? The poster child for everything wrong with the automotive industry went from a vibrant, stylish lounge for conspicuous consumption to a somber, museum-like tribute to modern architecture and failed business models. It’s a sad combination of soaring heights and eerie, uncomfortable silence. This also describes the Hummer H3T Alpha to the proverbial T: the brand’s failed promises of functionality and fashion for a premium price culminate into the worst product rollout of the 2009 model year.

Review: 2009 HUMMER H3T Alpha Car Review Rating

By on February 26, 2009

As the salesman retrieved the key for the demo GranTurismo, I approached the trunk of the sleek silver siren sitting on the showroom floor. Even though I was opening the Maserati’s boot rather than its bonnet, I felt like a pre-teen rifling through a copy a Playboy while the drug store owner helped Mrs. Myers with her prescription. The fact that the Maserati’s electric rear lid opened at all was heartening. And then I saw it: a blue box. Genuine Maserati parts. Fumble, fumble. Uh-oh. A trickle charger. A classy, digital battery booster, but a direct link to the most troublesome car I’d ever owned (a British two-seater named after a man called Trevor). It seems that Maserati’s latest product for the American market is still a bit… problematic. But not for the reasons you might think.

Review: 2008 Maserati GranTurismo Car Review Rating

By on February 17, 2009

“Consultant” is the new way to say “unemployed.” But, from time to time, it can be quite lucrative to consult on various vague enterprises. Such was the case a few years ago when I found myself with the urge and the ability (temporary, alas) to add something truly outrageous to my personal Island of Misfit Cars. A racing buddy of mine mentioned to me that Spyker was bringing their “demo car” through Detroit. There might be a deal or two to be had. And that’s how I found myself opposite-locking a $296k car across two lanes of Troy, Michigan’s “Big Beaver Road” at the top of second gear, idly contemplating my personal liability in any potential collision while my corporate babysitter clawed feebly at his door like a kitten kneading its mother’s stomach.

By on January 8, 2009

I had come into the turn way too fast. The tires broke free. “Oh God, no, I am going to crash this lovely little bus.” And then I found myself in a perfectly controllable four-wheel slide, drifting through the turn at 45mph, glee in my heart. It was probably 1964, and I was driving my father’s pride and joy, a type 40 Bugatti. But not one of the stogy little sedans. This was one of two subscale body prototypes for the ultimate Bugatti, the Type 57S Atalante. The recent fuss over a barn find in England brought our Bugatti fresh to mind…

By on December 24, 2008

Guys are funny: we lust for beautiful, fast cars with which we hope to impress the neighbors, the guys, and the other sex. But memories are not made of pistonheads’ wet dreams. Looking back, the memorable machines I had were more mutt than thoroughbred: the go-anywhere, never-let-you-down, unpretty, everyday companion. Like the pickup trucks you Americans love, or the iconic 2CV, Renault R4, and VW Beetles we Europeans have in our collective memories. The Fiat Panda has always been on my short list of potential cars-as-buddies: cheap, reliable, fun to drive, unpretentious. So, I was curious: is the 4×4 version of the Panda a faithful mutt, or just another automotive dog?

Review: 2008 Fiat Panda 4X4 Car Review Rating

By on November 24, 2008

“So you want to drive the speed demon, huh?” The local eco-dealership was empty save for a salesman spinning laps around electric cars and trucks in a Zap Zappy, a sort of poor man’s Segway. “You know the ZX40 won’t do more than 25 miles per hour, right?” asks the sales manager. She looks as if this revelation typically scares off twenty-somethings like myself. “Sure,” I say. How bad could it be?

2007 Miles ZX40S EV Car Review Rating

By on November 3, 2008

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

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.

Review: 2009 HUMMER H3 Car Review Rating

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