By on September 18, 2017

2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser Turbo in California wrecking yard, RH view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The quantity of Chrysler PT Cruisers in the high-turnover self-service wrecking yards remained close to zero for the first decade after the car’s 2001 model year debut (while the Cruiser’s Neon cousins showed up in large quantities starting at about age five). For the first few years of our current decade, I’d see a sprinkling of discarded PT Cruisers… and then the floodgates burst in about 2014, with seemingly every U-Wrench-It yard in the country packed wall-to-wall with the things.

I have ignored them, but the minivan version of the SRT4 Neon seemed worth photographing. (Read More…)

By on July 16, 2015

GLAProof-1-3

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 lives within the margins.

The compact — which shares more in common with a hatchback than an SUV — has a life thanks to America’s all-things-crossover obsession. It dodges definition, shirks consistent fuel-economy ratings and even has me guessing on my own feelings toward it. For sure, I can’t find a single offensive thing about the GLA. Even more, I can’t find a single thing to love.

(Read More…)

By on July 1, 2015

2016 Mazda MX-5

First it was the Toyobaru triplets. Now it’s the MX-5.

Nobuhiro Yamamoto, program manager for the Mazda MX-5 Miata, has crushed the dreams of those looking for more factory horsepower from the fourth-generation roadster. In short, if you want to “get hung up on numbers,” look elsewhere.

(Read More…)

By on August 7, 2014

big_electric-supercharger-5-psi-vortex_ff184e8c0545dd8f299e7e2cc429699eBack in the heyday of import tuner magazines, there was an ever-reliable advertisement for some kind of “electric turbocharger”, generally the kind seen above. Much like the “10x pheromones”, one couldn’t help but wonder who was buying enough of them that buying ad space was worthwhile.

(Read More…)

By on February 19, 2014

The Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge was one of the more underwhelming concepts at NAIAS. Apparently we’ll find out what’s under the hood at the Geneva Auto Show. The video above shows off the concept’s engine sounds, and it has a distinct exhaust note that certainly doesn’t sound like a V8 engine. What’s most striking are the very audible wastegate sounds, confirming that it is a turbocharged engine. In the Baby Boomer era, the V8 rumble was the audible manifestation of speed and horsepower. For the new generation, it’s the wooosh and psshhhtt of turbochargers and blow-off valves.

By on October 4, 2013

Volkswagen Polo

While Americans are still asking whether it’s even wise to buy small turbocharged engines instead of larger naturally aspirated ones, we in Europe are slowly losing our ability to even choose a car without a turbocharged engine. Volkswagen has recently announced that it is going turbo only – but in our market, the transition is nearly complete. Except for base engines in Polo supermini and Up! city car, basically everything else has a turbo slapped on it – and it looks much the same with other VAG brands. Others are following closely – Ford eliminated most of its naturally aspirated engines, except for the base 1.6 in Focus and small engines in Fiesta. Renault is coming with new tiny turbo plants to replace small four cylinder NA motors – and is even introducing them to its low-cost brand Dacia. PSA, Fiat, Opel and others are heading this direction as well.

But, why is that? Is it that Europeans are more forward thinking, more interested in economy an environment than polar bear killing ‘murricans with their massive V6s and V8s? Is it the European driving style and road network, requiring smaller and lighter cars?

(Read More…)

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