Tag: Hot Hatch

By on November 4, 2016

Ford Fiesta ST and Ford Focus RS in Bark's driveway, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

Yep, that’s my driveway. Based on my non-scientific observations and complete lack of research, I’m going to say I’m the only person in the world to have both a Ford Fiesta ST and a Ford Focus RS. Well, okay. I’m a person in the world who has a Fiesta ST and a Focus RS, which makes me uniquely qualified to compare the two.

“Hold up,” you might be saying. “Who compares a car that stickers for just over $23,000 with a car that runs $43,000 plus additional dealer markup?” (And yes, I know that you can get FiSTs for under $20,000 now. We’ll get to that.)

Well, it’s not as crazy of a comparo as you might think.

(Read More…)

By on October 5, 2016

2016 Ford Focus ST

The origins of this series focused on wheels inhabiting the dank basements of the price scale for particular models. This suggestion, then, helpfully sent in by a member of the B&B, doesn’t appear to fit that measure.

However, I and a few others consider the ST to be a model unto itself, not unlike the manner in which Volkswagen treats the almighty GTI in the Golf lineup. So, what can buyers expect in a No Frills model of the Ford Focus ST?

(Read More…)

By on August 5, 2016

dodge omni glhs (Image: Sotheby's)

The Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon twins didn’t get much respect in the 1980s, and even today’s hipsters – who’ll cling to anything avante-garde or ironic – failed to bestow them with latter-day reverence.

Well, never mind the haters. If you’re in Monterey, California on Aug. 19, and you have a hankering to spend a seemingly ludicrous amount of money on a 30-year-old econobox, your day has come.

RM Sotheby’s plans to auction a 1986 Dodge Omni GLHS, once owned by legendary tuner Carroll Shelby. This was the original hot hatch, with only 500 of the Shelby-tuned, turbocharged and intercooled Omni variants build before the model’s swan song. (Read More…)

By on August 4, 2016

Honda-Civic-Type-R-Live-05

Honda’s America-bound Civic Type R promises to be a scorching front-wheel-drive hatch with a 340-horsepower turbo 2.0-liter, according to an overseas report. Run and hide, Volkswagen Golf R.

The British publication Auto Express released exclusive information on the next-generation Type R, which is expected to bow as a 2017 model and (finally) make its way to North American shores. (Read More…)

By on April 27, 2016

1988 Ford Escort GT in California Junkyard, RH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The first-generation North American Ford Escort looked a lot like its European namesake, but was a very different machine under the skin. For the 1991 model year, the Escort moved to the same platform as the Mazda 323, so the late-’80s models are the last of the all-Ford American Escorts.

Here’s one that I spotted in a Northern California yard. (Read More…)

By on January 4, 2016

1987 Peugeot 205 GTi

As I wrapped up 2015 last week, I was reminded of my lust for French cars. My look at an inexplicably imported Citroen was the most popular piece I wrote last year, so it’s quite likely there are a few more of you masochists out there.

I also love me some hot hatches. The French know what they are doing with these cars, too, though most would think of the R5 Turbo or perhaps the 205 T16 rally replica rather than a proper front-engine, front drive commuter.

As we’ve reached another arbitrary point in our laps around the sun, we can look at importing a new batch of otherwise-unavailable cars under the 25-year rule.

(Read More…)

By on November 12, 2015

2016 Ford Focus RS

There may be a quicker one coming.

That’s if you believe what Autocar reported Thursday. According to the British publication, Ford engineers in Europe are already be whispering there could be a lighter, quicker version of the 2016 Ford Focus RS coming. Engineers are reportedly aiming for a sub-4 second 0-60 run.

The increased performance won’t come by way of a bigger engine however — the laws of thermodynamics in cramped spaces preclude a bigger bolt-on snail, apparently — but rather the ol’ Colin Chapman route: adding more lightness. (Read More…)

By on October 23, 2015

MINI Cooper S

Imagine if we’d had the internet back in the ’60s. Ignoring all other differences that fast, easy communication would have had on a pivotal time in our history, I’m most fascinated by the important stuff, like how it would have affected the way we buy cars.

Back then, one could walk into the dealership and check various boxes on an order form, specifying the exact options desired. Want a manual transmission, big-block wagon with non-assisted drums all the way around? Sure. Under-dash record player? Absolutely. But that wasn’t efficient, and eventually we got a few option packages and some dealer-installed bits.

MINI (gotta make sure we capitalize that) is one of the few mainstream OEMs that lets us relive those checkbox glory days.

(Read More…)

By on October 1, 2015

2015VolkswagenGolfR_(1_of_1)

2015 Volkswagen Golf R

2-liter DOHC I-4, turbocharged, variable intake and exhaust timing, variable
exhaust-valve lift (292 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm; 280 pounds-feet of torque @ 1,800 rpm)

6-speed DSG automatic transmission

23 city/30 highway/26 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

24 mpg on the 60/40 city/hwy, 45 percent boot-full of throttle everywhere (Observed, MPG)

Tested Options: Reflex Silver Metallic paint, Titan Black Leather interior; 6-speed DSG automatic transmission.

Base Price (Golf R):
$37,415*
As Tested Price:
$37,415*

* All prices include $820 destination fee.

Like walking in on your parents on a Saturday night, let’s take a minute to get this situation up to comfortable.

Volkswagen is in dire straits; there are no other words for it. For abusing consumer confidence and lying to the federal government, the German automaker will have to pay billions — and lose tens of billions more in repairs, buybacks, lawsuit payouts and expensive public mea culpas — before they can sniff legitimacy.

For lying and cheating their way through emissions standards with their diesel cars, anyone who has gone for a run in a metro area north of the Mason Dixon line in December for the last 10 years has a legitimate gripe against Volkswagen.

I won’t bury the lede here either: The 2015 Golf R isn’t the type of car that could forgive and forget all indiscretions, either. It’s too hard, too narrow and too expensive to be fit for mass-market consumption. It’s not the car that VW can ride through the rough stuff, mostly because it feels on the inside like it’s riding in a paint shaker.

But every atomic cloud has a silver lining.

For all that we’ve heard and read about Volkswagen over the last week, the larger picture remains: 4 out of 5 Volkswagen cars sold aren’t diesels, and as the world’s second-largest automaker (for now) there are a lot of cars that Volkswagen could talk about.

And we’re talking about the Golf R, and talk we shall. (Read More…)

By on September 1, 2015

2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-002

2016 Audi Q3 Prestige

2.0-liter, DOHC I-4, CVVT (200 horsepower @ 5,100-6,000 rpm; 207 lbs-ft @ 1,700-5,000 rpm)

6-speed Tiptronic automatic

20 city/28 highway/23 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

20.2 mpg (Observed, MPG)

Tested Options: Prestige Trim, Quattro AWD, Sport Package

Base Price:
$34,625*
As Tested:

$42,175*

* Prices include $925 destination charge.

Audi’s Q3 isn’t a new vehicle by any stretch. It was first launched in 2011 but didn’t make it to America until the 2015 model year. That’s because the Q3 plays in a segment that’s new to us — the even-smaller compact luxury crossover. This form factor isn’t new to the rest of the world, but until Land Rover brought the Range Rover Evoque to America and BMW followed up with the X1, there wasn’t a real focus on small luxury soft-roaders.

With crossovers being the latest craze and every luxury brand looking to move down-market to capture fresh young buyers, it was only a matter of time till Mercedes and Audi joined the party with the GLA and the Q3. With a “low” $33,700 starting MSRP, the baby Audi is the more practical counterpart to Audi’s sharp-looking A3 sedan. Although CamCord shoppers have to give up a great deal of room to upgrade to the A3, the Q3 has the potential to be a more sensible option.

(Read More…)

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