By on September 29, 2015


This past Sunday night, I wandered over to my local movie theater to catch Black Mass. Although I’m suffering from a bit of Joel-Edgerton-related-ennui lately and I never really got over the idea of Hey, that’s Johnny Depp in makeup, I had to admit that overall, it was a tightly plotted and thoroughly entertaining film. More importantly, it had an absolutely killer lineup of Malaise-era automobiles, including an utterly stunning ’78 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight with a white leather interior. In fact, until the moment that a 1980 Citation makes an unexpected and rather violent appearance on the scene, it’s nothing but wall-to-wall Seventies sedans. Just the way I like it.

I remember that as a child my grandparents complained about the squared-off, generic appearance of pretty much everything for sale in the post-Nixon era. I can sympathize a bit because although every car sold in the Fifties also looked just like every other car for sale, the general template of the Bel Air/Fairlane/et al was appealing and colorful and optimistic. But even if you don’t care for the ’74 Malibu Classic or the ’79 Granada, at least they had proportions that emphasized width over height. The worst of them had a certain dignity.

Not so with today’s rolling toaster ovens. We’re rapidly approaching the era where every single car for sale will be some variant on the almighty CR-V. The latest sales data from Porsche and MINI simply hammer that home, with a uniquely depressing twist.

(Read More…)

By on September 23, 2015


Buick announced Wednesday that its first convertible-only model in the U.S. for 25 years will start at $34,915, including $925 destination, when it goes on sale early next year. The Cascada Premium model, which adds front and rear park assist and other safety features, will start at $37,915.

The front-wheel drive, 2+2 convertible will come standard with 20-inch wheels, remote start, backup camera, heated seats and LED headlights.

The Cascada will line up against the Audi A3 Cabriolet, which starts at $37,525, including $925 destination, and the Mini Cooper Convertible, which starts at $26,550, including $850 destination, for coveted upper middle-class divorcee money.

(Read More…)

By on September 16, 2015

2016 Mini Clubman

Mini unveiled its newest Clubman this week and the car, which is one foot longer and nearly 5 inches wider than the outgoing model, is now longer than a Jeep Wrangler.

The 14-foot-long four door will be four-inches shorter than a Mazda CX-3 and will sport the Hardtop’s duo of engines for Clubman and Clubman S models. The turbocharged I-3 will produce 134 horsepower in the Clubman, while the turbo four will bump up to 189 horsepower for the Clubman S. According to Mini, the Clubman S will sprint up to 60 mph in 7 seconds.

The Clubman is 10.9 inches longer than the 5-door Hardtop, with a 4-inch longer wheelbase and is nearly 3 inches wider. Rear passengers in the Clubman will get 2 more inches of legroom over the five-door Mini (34.3 vs. 32.3).

(And the five-door Hardtop exists, why?)

(Read More…)

By on August 26, 2015

Mini Countryman sales chart TTAC 3A rising tide lifts all boats?

Not in the Mini Countryman’s case.

One of the oldest models on the block, the Countryman, is suffering from a sharp decline in U.S. sales even as consumers develop greater interest in subcompact crossovers. (Read More…)

By on August 25, 2015

manual characteristics

J.D. Power and Associates on Tuesday released its study of in-car technology that showed many new car buyers either don’t use features available on their car or aren’t aware they exist.

According to the study, at least 20 percent of buyers haven’t used 16 of 33 features targeted by the study, including in-vehicle concierge services such as OnStar (43 percent); mobile Internet connectivity (38 percent); automatic parking aids (35 percent); heads-up displays (33 percent); and apps (32 percent).

Owners said their smartphones probably do all those things better, and who has time to learn systems when you have to text and drive anyway?

(Read More…)

By on July 17, 2015


Fiat Chrysler Automobiles earned the top spot overall in an annual survey of new car quality.

Strategic Vision, a San Diego-based research firm, ranked FCA No. 1 for the first time since the company began measuring customer satisfaction in 1995. Last year, Kia earned top honors.

FCA had six cars that topped their respective segments, including the Fiat 500 and 500e; Dodge Charger, Challenger and Durango; and, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.

(Read More…)

By on June 24, 2015


Ahead of the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show, official images of the 2016 MINI Clubman escaped onto the Internet for all the world to see [now updated with info from the official press release – CA].

(Read More…)

By on April 8, 2015

2015 Mini Cooper 4-DoorWith one of the most detailed monthly sales reports of any auto brand competing in the United States, Mini revealed their March 2015 sales in a breakdown that included door counts.

Not since Volvo’s monthly report divvied up the V60’s sales by regular and Cross Country variants has a numbers addict been so pleased.

Excluding the 540 leftover niche versions of the second-gen BMW Mini – Convertible, Roadster, Clubman, and Coupe – and 1654 sales of the high-riding Countryman and Paceman, Mini’s core Hardtop model was up 429% to 3635 units in March 2015; up 319% to 8224 units in the first-quarter of 2015. (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2015


In our first installment, we focused on Daimler, Mazda, and the Volkswagen Group. Today, we’ll focus on BMW/Mini, Subaru, and Hyundai/Kia. But first, let me address a couple of the comments about the cars the B&B said I got wrong:

  • I stand by my comments about the Golf. One commenter said the Golf was just the “GTI with less power, and less handling ability.” Well, duh. That’s like saying the Focus and Fiesta are the same cars as the FoST and the FiST, but with less power, and less handling ability. The power and the handling ability are what make the GTI special. Granted, the VW dealer network is wretched, so one can excuse the poor sales numbers of the Golf overall, but the Golf is actually outsold by the GTI. I can’t think of another example of a higher-cost, performance variant of a car outselling the base model—even the base Impreza, which I virtually never notice out in the wild, outsells the WRX and STI 2:1.
  • I don’t think the C-Class is a bad car at all—I just think it’s fighting an uphill battle against the 3-Series. That being said, I definitely need to get some seat time in the new C-Class, as Mercedes has yet to deliver a press vehicle to my front door. Any readers who have one and would like to have it reviewed, let us know and I’ll get to you.

That being said, I continue to welcome your comments and dissenting opinions. Now, let’s move on.

(Read More…)

By on March 18, 2015

The UK’s CAR magazine is reporting that the Mini Superleggera roadster, first shown as a concept at last year’s Villa d’Este concours in Italy, has been given the go-ahead for production by BMW management, slated to begin in early 2018. The news isn’t much of a surprise. The concept car was a joint project of BMW and the Touring Superleggera design and coachbuilding firm. When it was introduced, BMW board member Peter Schwarzenbauer, who is in charge of Mini, Rolls-Royce and BMW motorcycles, indicated that the Mini marque, seen by some as carrying brand extension to the point diminishing returns with their proliferation of niche vehicles, would instead be concentrating on a handful of what he called “super heroes” and that the Superleggera had the potential to be one of those models going forward. (Read More…)

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