Tag: 3WTP

By on May 22, 2012

I should go on vacation more often. No, really. Last time I took some time off, I accidentally caught a parade of BMW prototypes descending the Sellajoch in Italy’s Dolomite Alps. Then, just weeks ago when I was in Los Angeles with Bertel, I was driving along towards Venice when I caught a glimpse of the tell-tale camouflage that makes every auto enthusiast’s heart skip a beat. And then I noticed that it had no tailpipe…

Of course, the vehicle I caught wasn’t anything earth-shattering, just a prototype of Toyota’s first-ever EV for the American market. And here in California, where electric RAV4s have been running around since 1997, this prototype didn’t exactly bring traffic to a halt. Still, it’s a reminder that even EV skeptics like Toyota are already dipping a toe in the battery-powered market… if only as a “compliance exercise.” Plus, it’s more evidence that my employers should give me more time to get away from the computer and drive around unfamiliar places. Obviously these prototypes want me to find them…

By on January 8, 2012

Maruti Suzuki’s big news at the Delhi Auto Show was the debut of its production compact MPV, the Ertiga. But it wasn’t all staid family-carriers at the Suzuki stand, as the Japanese-Indian automaker also debuted its XA Alpha concept, described in this dramatically-narrated (to put it mildly) video as “The Small God For The Big Future.” Remember the Suzuki Samurai (our global readers will certainly remember the Jimny)? It’s getting ready for its 21st Century makeover…
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By on January 8, 2012

Ever since the ill-fated Contour experiment, Ford has maintained a strict separation in its global midsized offerings: Fusion for the Americas and Mondeo for Europe (let’s ignore, for the moment, Australia’s Falcon as the doomed atavism it is). But under the global “One Ford” strategy, a fusion (ahem) of The Blue Oval’s midsized offerings was inevitable, and Ford has signaled for some time that the Fusion and Mondeo are on the verge of becoming one. And here, courtesy of the autoforum.cz, is the first leaked image of Ford’s unified, world-wide midsized contender: though the Fusion and Mondeo names will continue to be used in their respective markets, this car will carry both badges. But are we looking at a revolution in the oft-troubled “world car” game, or a repeat of the Contour’s compromises? Only time will tell…

By on December 22, 2011

Editor’s Note: The image above is from Autobild (and is posted elsewhere in the German media), and is not labeled as a rendering, a spy shot or an official image. An anonymous tipster who has seen the upcoming Buick “Encore” (which GM has shown to select fans and journos under embargo for years now) says the vehicle shown here is “basically the same design” as the Encore. 

At first glance, it’s fairly obvious that there’s something not quite right with this picture. Better than most photoshops or renderings, but not quite convincing as a real picture, this car seems trapped in the Uncanny Valley, as if it were photographed undergoing winter testing on the set of the film The Polar Express. In any case, this little Corsa-based CUV (allegedly to be named “Mokka”) will debut at the Geneva Auto Show, and will take on such B-segment crossovers as the Nissan Juke, Suzuki SX4 and Ford’s forthcoming new Ecosport.

Meanwhile, GM’s American-market interpretation of a B-segment CUV is likely to be quite different from these little rough-and-ready softroaders [Ed: Or, not]. Buick is slow-strip-teasing its forthcoming Encore on Facebook, and it’s already looking like the Baby Enclave rumors were well-founded in terms of its exterior design. On the other hand, this isn’t a wildly detailed photo, so who knows? Either way, both the Mokka and the Encore are based on a jacked-up version of the Gamma II subcompact platform, and based on a video of what appears to be some relatively early chassis testing, the short-wheelbase and tall suspension took a little taming. Hit the jump to see for yourself…
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By on December 20, 2011

My two weeks in Europe has drawn to a close, and I’m back at my familiar desk, in front of my familiar computer, catching up on all the automotive happenings I missed, contemplating my transition out of TTAC’s day-to-day leadership, and reflecting on all I saw over my whirlwind two weeks. And though you haven’t heard from me much in the last two weeks, rest assured that I have  not forgotten TTAC, nor have I missed any opportunities to accumulate impressions from the automotive landscape of modern Europe.

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By on December 1, 2011

TTAC has long been bearish on the Scion brand, and in a lot of ways, Toyota’s global tri-branding strategy with its new “86″ sportscar (Toyota, Subaru and Scion versions are being sold) highlights how Toyota has lost its branding focus. On the other hand, the FR-S, Scion’s version of the 86, is by far the most compelling product that brand has offered… well, possibly ever (OK, since the Mk1 xB). If I were king of Toyota, I’d probably still kill off Scion and sell the 86 as a Celica in the US… after all, how much sense does it make to have two sporty coupes at Scion and none for the Toyota brand? But if Scion follows the FR-S up with a new truly compact pickup co-developed with Daihatsu, as has been rumored, I’d be willing to concede that Scion has a place in the market. After all, truly unique, funky vehicles justified Scion’s existence in the first place, before a watered-down second generation of products killed that positioning (and Scion’s sales). With the FR-S, Scion seems to be heading back towards focused and freaky niche confections… let’s hope it continues to return to those roots.

By on November 30, 2011

If there’s a word to describe VW’s future plans in the US, it’s “big.” There is still no specific plan to bring subcompact Polos to the US, and likely only an EV version of the new Up! city car. Even Audi is shying away from bringing more small products to the US, nixing the A1 and only supporting exports of the A2 in EV form. And according to Automotive News [sub] the next big thing for VW’s US portfolio could be a midsized CUV, built at its new Chattanooga plant and slotting between the Tiguan and Touareg. But this concept is not that CUV. According to VW, this CrossCoupe Concept is an exploration of alternative bodystyles for the compact CUV platform, more akin to a Range Rover Evoque than a mass market model… think “Tiguan CC” and you’ll be getting the idea. So, will it be built? VW sources tell Automotive News [sub] that

We won’t rule out the possibility of adding a sportier SUV to the Volkswagen lineup at some time. But the main message with the Cross Coupe is its styling, which stands for the future of SUV design at Volkswagen

You can see the evolution of VW’s new three-slat grille, further integrating the new cue into the headlights for a more cohesive fascia design. But does it work? We’ll let you be the judge of that…

 

By on November 29, 2011

Blue car but no blue oval.

Wintertime is coming, mama, the windows are filled with frost. So I went over to the nearby strip mall to get some thermal underwear. That doesn’t rhyme even half as well as Dylan’s most forced rhymes, but it’s really what happened. There’s a C.W. Price store in the mall. It used to be a location of the A.J. Wright chain that went under, and from the looks of things, all they needed to change were the signs. C.W. Price carries pretty much the same overstocked and distressed merchandise as A.J. Wright. Not quite as depressing as shopping at Big Lots but definitely not the Somerset Collection. While I was at the store of course I had to check out the cheap R/C cars that they had on sale for $6.99 and $7.99 with the other Christmas toys. At first glance they looked like Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Bugattis and Ford GTs. Actually, at second and third glance they still looked like those cars, scale models accurate down to the Veyron’s distinctive black hood, horseshoe Bugatti grille and exposed mid-mounted W16 engine.

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By on November 27, 2011

Which European automaker is working on this compact, front-drive MPV? It might look like a VW or Opel, but in fact it’s coming from the Roundel itself. BMW will release this five-seat, start-stop-equipped van sometime in 2014, giving its Euro-market customers an alternative to Mercedes’s B-Class van. But because this is still a BMW, a two liter turbo engine option will be offered, giving this otherwise humble little MPV a 245 HP kick. Still, this will be the most prosaic offering from a firm built around rear drive and six-cylinder engines. And though Mercedes is bringing at least one front-drive model to the US market, expect BMW to maintain its premium positioning here by keeping this MPV in the European market, where such efficient vehicles are not seen as being incompatible with a luxury brand.

 

By on November 24, 2011

With luxury brands from Bentley to Maserati building “on-road SUVs” in search of ever-greater profits, Jaguar’s decision to build a traditional station wagon is something of a Connolly leather glove’d slap in the face of the luxury game. That’s right, this isn’t some wobbly, lozenge-shaped crossover, or some garish, blinged-out SUV; it’s just a clean, simple Jag-wagon.  Or “XF Sportbrake,” as Auto Motor und Sport insists on calling it. And though it may not be the most practical wagon, with its cargo area apparently styled for slim looks rather than capacity, it will be available with AWD, along with the rest of the XF line. Oh yeah, and a 510 HP XFR wagon should be an option as well… you know, for the journalists. All of which sounds like news to be very thankful for this Thanksgiving. Remember: this could have been a crossover!

 

By on November 19, 2011

Lincoln’s updated look doesn’t seem to have won over too many of the skeptics, but before you make up your mind entirely, do check out these live shots from the LA Auto Show floor. Our man on the ground, Alex Dykes, notes

The interior refinements are welcome, especially as Cadillac has made some improvements to their interiors lately. Lincolns My Touch systems do seem considerably snappier than the previous versions, but we won’t be sure about the reliability until someone at TTAC has one for a week.

By on November 19, 2011

So you want to go green. The problem is a Prius isn’t green enough for you, what’s a green shopper to do? Go all in with all-electric. So far we have the Leaf and the newly announced Focus Electric both with ranges under 100 miles and charge times that can get a little long even at 240V (the Leaf takes 7 hours). In step the new breed of auto makers: Tesla, Fisker and Coda (just to name a few). Coda is a new all-electric car made in China (assembled in California). The first thing that strikes you about the Coda sedan is how plain the design is. The second thing is how the parts don’t come from any parts bin I’ve ever seen with all the window switches and knobs having a unique look. Good or bad? Depends on how reliable the parts are. Coda touts fast charging times with the 6.6KW charger (2x the speed of the Leaf) and a battery pack that’s another 33% larger than the Nissan as well. The shorter charging time and larger battery pack mean an advertised (but not verified) longer range and shorter charging time than the Leaf. The trade off? A cheaper interior. Pricing is expected to be slightly higher than the Leaf at just under $40,000 less the usual tax incentives. On our short spin in the Coda on the roads around the LA Auto Show, the prototype vehicle had too many rough edges that are due to be polished to posit a firm opinion of the car. Stay tuned for a review of the production model in 2012.

By on November 18, 2011

Are you familiar with the Fridolin? If so, hit the jump. If not, here’s the brief version of its history. Unhappy with its adorable but inadequate, two-cylinder Goggomobil Transporters, the German Postal Service approached Volkswagen and Westfalia in the early 60s, looking for a new interpretation of what it was looking for, namely “arbeitspsychologisch optimaler Ausstattung zu einem günstigen Anschaffungspreis.” This is a tough phrase to translate, but essentially it means “equipment optimized for the workplace psychology, at an affordable price,” and in 1963 that’s what the VW-Westalia team delivered. A mixture of Type 1 (Beetle), Type 2 (Bus) and Type 3 (Fastback/Squareback), the Type 147 was first shown to the German Post in 1963, and was quickly nicknamed “Fridolin” (an uncommon German boy’s name) apparently because workers said “it looks like a Fridolin.” Only 6,126 were built between 1964 and 1973, and they continue to enjoy a strong collector’s cachet (primarily as slammed campers, apparently). And now, Volkswagen wants to re-create the classic… for the future. 

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By on November 18, 2011

The Mastretta MXT is not very well-known outside of Top Gear buffs who recall Jeremy Clarkson giving the MXT an incredibly hard time for its Mexican heritage. Of course we all know Jeremy is a shock jock more than a motor head these days, so his opinion aside the MXT slots in right behind the Doking as one the more interesting cars on display in Los Angeles. The MXT is the first sports car designed and built-in Mexico, but rather than trying to dethrone Corvette or Mustang, Mastretta is going for the niche market of small, light kit cars. Yes, kit cars. At least north of the border…

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By on November 18, 2011

Volvo has been very quiet about new products since Ford sold the only Swedish car maker still afloat. With little fanfare Volvo has updated the S80 and XC70′s interior with a new dash and new infotainment system and this is the first time TTAC has seen them in person. The 7-inch color screen is the same as the system used in the new S60. Compared to iDrive and Audi’s MMI the system is just as slick-looking but the smallish screen size just lacks the wow factor the Germans get when passengers slip in the car. Along with the new screen Volvo has added pedestrian detection to the S80, XC70 and XC60 as well as a new adaptive cruise control system that will take your Volvo to a complete stop and hold you there until traffic resumes. Of course all this is secondary to the sexy new stitched pleather dash the S80 on the LA Auto Show floor was sporting. Sadly Volvo tells us they don’t anticipate putting these revised Volvos in the hands of the press for reviews, probably spending this precious cash to devise new and better nannies to save our bacon in the future.

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