By on March 28, 2017

Kia Stinger Detroit Auto Show, Image KIA Motors

It was jarring, when the 2018 Kia Stinger debuted, to see the automaker’s corporate badge prominently displayed on a desirable, rear-drive sports sedan. In spite of the sales gloom that surrounds the traditional passenger car market, some of us have wondered whether the badge alone might cause performance-minded premium car buyers to overlook the model when it appears on dealer lots.

In Korea, however, no one will be able to blame the model’s success or failure on the presence of a “Kia” badge. That’s because it won’t have one. (Read More…)

By on March 27, 2017

2017 Honda Civic Coupe Si – Image: Honda

Honda isn’t one to dish details on a new product miles ahead of a debut, but information has a way of springing leaks.

An email sent to Honda aficionados from the automaker has ended up on the CivicX forum, and its description of the upcoming Civic Si’s torque rating is apparently legit. However, those fans wish it wasn’t, as the number isn’t exactly that of a performance monster. (Read More…)

By on March 24, 2017

t-roc teaser

There’s a Terminator-like CGI image floating around that purports to show the upcoming Volkswagen T-Roc compact crossover. If it is VW’s new sub-Tiguan utility vehicle, and you’ve already seen the flashy T-Roc concept, prepare to be underwhelmed.

As we reported earlier this week, the T-Roc — which might adopt a new moniker in the U.S. — was reportedly green-lit for the American market after dealers gave it their seal of approval. VW needs utility vehicles, and a youthful, sporty little ride that encourages owners to drop their tops seems like just the ticket to stimulate interest in the brand. However, it seems the targa-top, pillarless two-door will lose all of those unique features before appearing on dealer lots.

If this image is indeed the T-Roc, well, those reports didn’t lie. (Read More…)

By on March 23, 2017

2017 BMW 340i manual shifter – Image: BMW USA

The manual transmission isn’t dead. But it appears to be dying. Now Munich is making sure everybody knows BMW has a hand in the demise of the third pedal.

At the traditional core of BMW’s U.S. lineup, the manual transmission 7 Series disappeared three decades ago. So foreign is a manual shifter to buyers in the full-size luxury limo category, this seems entirely natural.

M models aside, the U.S. market lost BMW 5 Series manual transmission availability after the 2014 model year.

What’s next?

“Across the world, virtually all of our 3 Series models and above already have automatic transmissions,” BMW sales boss Ian Robertson tells Car And Driver.

“We will certainly see fewer and fewer manual transmissions being offered,” says Robertson.

Ultimate Driving Machine? (Read More…)

By on March 21, 2017

AstonMartinRapide

We’re all used to driving curvaceous V12 sedans, right? Now, how would you react to news that your luxury automaker of choice planned to strip all fossil fuel-related hardware from it just to satisfy some squares with exceptionally strong regulatory powers?

That’s the situation for fans of the Rapide S, which Aston Martin claims is — in AMR guise — the world’s fastest four-door vehicle. Aston claims it just can’t keep building all of these 12-cylinder beauties in Europe’s regulatory environment. For some vehicles, gas has to go. And guess which model takes the first hit? (Read More…)

By on March 20, 2017

Tesla Model 3 Unveil, Image: Tesla Motors

After deciding that its analytic tools are top-notch and will tell it everything it needs to know, Tesla is skipping the “beta” phase of the Model 3’s development cycle.

In a conference call to investors last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the automaker doesn’t need to bother with that crop of pre-production models. Early release model 3s built on the company’s production assembly line — not specialty one-offs built in a corner of the shop — should be rolling by this week or next, he said. (Read More…)

By on March 20, 2017

2017 BMW 4 Series Convertible – Image: BMW

Choice is good for car buyers. But in the never-ending quest to produce incremental volume gains, the planet’s largest premium auto brands agree that certain niches are quickly becoming untenable.

Known for questioning in 2014 whether the global sports car market would ever recover from its post-recession collapse, BMW sales boss Ian Robertson told Car And Driver earlier this month that “some body styles will be removed in the future.”

Meanwhile, the head of Mercedes-Benz Dieter Zetsche said at the Geneva auto show that the lack of Chinese uptake for specialty cars “makes the business case for these vehicles less easy.”

Yet long before a model cull returns us to the days of tidy luxury lineups — 3 Series, 5 Series, 7 Series, and 8 Series as the 1990s intended! — premium German marques will first introduce a slew of new models. And the body styles destined for removal? Likely not the silly four-door coupes and impractical SUVs you love to hate. (Read More…)

By on March 20, 2017

Volkswagen-T-ROC-Concept

Desperate for more utility vehicles in the U.S. market, Volkswagen has reportedly green-lit a sporty crossover concept that has made the auto show rounds since 2014.

The T-Roc, which shares the same MQB platform as the Golf, debuted as a two-door compact crossover with a targa-like removable roof and pillarless side glass. Just don’t expect the T-Roc to drop its top when it appears in the U.S. in 2019. Oh, and the two-door thing? Don’t expect that, either. (Read More…)

By on March 20, 2017

2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Exterior Front 3/4, Image: © 2017 Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars

It’s never easy trying to whip up an air of exclusivity through your daily driver, and nowhere in the U.S. is this truer than in southern California. Whether it’s ultra exotics driven by the Beautiful People or rust-free rarities carefully maintained with end-of-week savings, chances are your neighbor, friend or coworker’s ride makes your commuter car — premium or not — look as banal as dry toast.

How does a car buyer turn heads, ideally while projecting an all-caps message about their chosen lifestyle, without breaking the bank or A-Teaming a tired sedan into some sort of grotesque absurdity? Honda has the answer.

For now — and Honda accountants would prefer that the “rarity” period remains a short one — driving a leased Clarity Fuel Cell sedan puts you in a very exclusive club. By month’s end, Honda expects the number of next-generation, hydrogen-powered five-seaters plying the roadways of the Golden State to top the three-figure mark. Huge numbers, for sure.

Next thing you know, the person you hired to walk your dogs might pull up in one. (Read More…)

By on March 18, 2017

2016 Lexus GS350 red

When the second-generation Lexus GS 400 arrived in North America in late 1997, the automaker paired the introduction with a can’t-miss-it ad campaign. “Something wicked this way comes,” the glossy advertisements warned of the looming V8 model.

Well, that ominous late-90s tagline would soon be a lie, as rumor states that the 2018 model year could be the last for Lexus’ sporty midsize luxury sedan. There just might not be room in the lineup for this once-boastworthy rear-driver. (Read More…)

By on March 13, 2017

Apple iOS in a Car + Ferrari California

Several months late to the annual Airing of the Grievances, Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne recently took the opportunity to mildly trash one of his company’s products.

The outspoken CEO, who donned the title last year, apparently takes offence to the company’s California T, complaining to reporters at the Geneva Motor Show that the droptop grand tourer just doesn’t feel like it belongs in the stable. (Read More…)

By on March 13, 2017

2016 Volkswagen Tiguan

You’ll have a choice of Tiguans after the newly enlarged 2018 model goes on sale. As it desperately seeks ways of diversifying its utility vehicle lineup in the U.S., Volkswagen will have the old compact crossover soldier alongside its updated, three-row successor.

The company has listed SUVs as the central pillar of its new American product strategy, but coming up with new models isn’t easy for a car-centric company that’s low on cash. Satisfying the  public’s seemingly insatiable demand for mobile cargo space requires a solid plan, and VW thinks it has one. (Read More…)

By on March 11, 2017

volkswagen i.d. buzz concept

If your life goals for the near future include recreating the Summer of Love, there’s some far-out news arriving from Volkswagen. Public reaction to the automaker’s electric I.D. Buzz concept proved positive enough to give executives confidence in European and American demand for the reborn Microbus.

Unfortunately for latter-day hippies and retirement-age flower children, their enthusiasm for this out-of-sight green machine won’t be enough for VW to start production. It seems that the model’s future hinges not on the Counter Culture Revolution, but the Cultural Revolution. (Read More…)

By on March 11, 2017

2017-toyota-860-special-edition-101-876x535

With so much online page space taken up by the RAV4, Corolla, Camry, Tacoma and other practical, high-volume Toyota products, it’s often easy to forget that the staid and sensible automaker sells an entry-level, rear-drive sports car.

February marked a significant milestone for the Toyota 86 (née Scion FR-S), sibling to the Subaru BRZ, in that it was the first month since 2013 that didn’t see a year-over-year sales decline. That year was also the high water mark for sales.

No doubt aware of the rebranded coupe’s lagging fortunes, Toyota has adopted a time-honored method of drawing eyes back to its 86. Offer a slightly enhanced version, raise the price, and cap production numbers. (Read More…)

By on March 10, 2017

Mercedes-Benz Concept X-CLASS

Not unless it’s a big, honking full-sizer, that is.

After giving serious thought to introducing its X-Class pickup in the U.S., Mercedes-Benz has decided to stay away from the American market. Why? The midsize field probably isn’t a good place to make money with a luxurious pickup. (Read More…)

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