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By on August 30, 2016

2016 Ford Focus RS

Alex writes:

Hi Bark,

The lease on my BMW M235i runs out next summer and I’m looking at options for my next car. I’m mostly considering the Ford Focus RS, Honda Civic Type R, and Volkswagen Golf R, but also the Ford Fiesta ST (since you’ve praised your FiST so much) and Ford Mustang GT (because it’s a Mustang?).

I don’t really like the Golf R because it’s the only car on this list that doesn’t have Recaro seats and, well, it looks almost identical to the much cheaper, baseline Golf.

I contacted my local Ford dealer about the RS and they urged me to put down a $2,000 deposit since they don’t get many units and they’re selling fast.

My hesitation: I’ve never really driven a manual car outside of iRacing (online racing simulator) and an hour I had with a Corolla with 170,000 km on the clock, so I’m not sure that I’d like to drive a manual every day.

What do you think would be my best course of action?

Sincerely,
Alex

Alex, my friend, sit down. We need to talk.

(Read More…)

By on August 30, 2016

Winterkorn, Piech, Piech - Picture courtesy Volkswagen

Former Volkswagen chairman Ferdinand Piëch resigned his position a month after questioning and failing to get answers from ex-CEO Martin Winterkorn about the company’s defeat devices, an internal probe revealed.

The finding from the investigation by U.S. law firm Jones Day was published in the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, Bloomberg reports, shedding light on the power struggle that preceded the diesel emissions scandal. (Read More…)

By on August 30, 2016

I could live with this car … under a couple of conditions. Air conditioning is a must have, and I may have told you about the need for an aftermarket shifter solution. But GM Canada’s $9,995 2016 Chevrolet Spark LS, which lacks A/C and a tolerable shifter, is nevertheless an acceptable place to spend time. Though it drives […]

By on August 29, 2016

 

President for the union representing Detroit Three autoworkers north of the border says he has learned from past contract battles, and won’t make the same mistake this time.

Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, promises that no contract deal will be ratified without firm product commitments, including at General Motors’ endangered Oshawa assembly plant. If GM intends to shut that operation down, a Canada-wide strike is virtually guaranteed. (Read More…)

By on August 29, 2016

Instrument panel with Vojta "driving" the Tesla Model S 85D, Image: © 2016 David Marek/The Truth About Cars

Earlier this summer, headlines flew fast and furious around Tesla’s semi-autonomous Autopilot driving system, and the often hazy crashes associated with it.

Now, the electric automaker plans to tweak the system to cut down on driver misuse, according to a report in Elektrek. (Read More…)

By on August 29, 2016

2017 Ford F-450 Super Duty Platinum Crew Cab 4x4

Ford Motor Company clearly wasn’t secure in knowing that its new 3.5-liter Ecoboost engine will give the F-150 the most V6 power in its class, or that the 2017 Super Duty will have the most torque in its class. And never mind that a looming diesel variant of the F-150 will likely get the best fuel economy in its class.

Ford wanted the gold medal in the fuel tank capacity race, and it just won by a mile. Actually, many miles. (Read More…)

By on August 29, 2016

Car shoppers who need to carry more than four people should buy vans. Full stop. The minivan form factor is superior in nearly every manner to the SUV; from passenger comfort, to cargo room, to flexibility, the van wins. Yet American shoppers have largely abandoned the symbol of Eighties momness for the three-row crossover, this […]

By on August 29, 2016

traffic (Michael Gil/Flickr)

Passenger vehicles have never been safer, with a bevy of high-tech aids available to keep nervous motorists safe, and feeling safe.

For the most part, we enjoy these handy driver’s aids. After all, who wants to end up in hospital, or have their insurance company come collecting for an arm, a leg, and a few other pounds of flesh? However, one safety feature, found on an increasing number of new vehicles, has all the popularity of Chrysler’s grating Electronic Voice Alert of the 1980s. (Read More…)

By on August 29, 2016

2016 BMW 7 Series

The sixth-generation BMW 7 Series didn’t go over exactly as the automaker might have hoped, so it’s planning to ditch two doors and hope for the best.

Sources close to the company’s plans tell Bloomberg that a coupe version of the flagship sedan is in development as BMW tries to catch up to the more successful Mercedes-Benz S-Class. (Read More…)

By on August 29, 2016

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback

Not since the sixth-generation Honda Civic of 1996-2000 has American Honda made a hatchback available as a conventional part of the Civic lineup.

Yes, there was the British-built Civic hatchback of 2002-2005, but it was an Si-only model with limited appeal and little connection to the broader Civic lineup.

The new 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback that’s now reaching North American shores — it’s built at the same Swindon, England, plant as the aforementioned Civic Si — is another thing altogether. It’s not merely a two-door hatchback entry into the Civic fold, as the Civic hatch so often was in the distant past. Nor is the new Civic Hatchback exclusively meant to be a performance-oriented hot hatch, though it will form the foundation of North America’s first-ever Civic Type R.

No, the new, turbo-only, four-door Civic Hatchback closely mirrors the upper-trim levels of the established tenth-generation Civic lineup. Presumably, then, the new Civic Hatchback, with all of its flexibility and practicality and tailgate possibilities, will steal sales from the regular Honda Civic sedan and coupe?

Honda says no. (Read More…)

By on August 29, 2016

Spark Power Lock Math

We told you — yea, we even showed you — that the most basic 2016 Chevrolet Spark you can buy has manual locks, but also a power lock.

Fascinated? We were. After driving around in a car with manual locks that automatically locked its driver’s door at 8 miles per hour and unlocked its driver’s door when the key was removed from ignition, we were spooked and amazed and perplexed. We asked GM for comment but initially did not hear back.

Now we have. (Read More…)

By on August 29, 2016

1996 Nissan Maxima GXE in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Maxima has been with us since the 1981 Datsun 810 Maxima, which became the Datsun Maxima, then the Datsun Maxima by Nissan, and finally the Nissan Maxima.

Starting out as a Z-car-based sporty sedan, it grew into an electronic-gadget-packed luxury sedan, then became bigger, more powerful, and less crazy with each successive generation until we arrived at the current competent-but-not-particularly-exciting Maxima.

The fifth-generation Maxima, made for the 1994 through 1999 model years, seems to be the last for which the manual-transmission option was selected by a significant minority of buyers; you could get one after 1999, but I never see anything but automatics in my junkyard travels.

Here’s a mean-looking ’96 that I spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on August 28, 2016

0530unifor

Canadian autoworkers represented by Unifor have authorized strike action against all Detroit Three automakers “if a fair and reasonable settlement is not reached before the September 19th deadline,” announced Unifor Sunday night.

“With this clear mandate our members have demonstrated they are in full support of their bargaining committees, and our direction in this set of negotiations. The bargaining committee will not accept a deal without a commitment to investment in Canada’s auto sector,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

(Read More…)

By on August 28, 2016

1974 Volkswagen Beetle and Camper, Image Source: YouTube

In 2016, if you towed a camping trailer with anything other than a heavy-duty pickup, Mike Rowe and Denis Leary would take you out back and shoot you repeatedly with Blue Oval masculine marketing tripe.

But in 1974, if you were the proud owner of a Volkswagen Beetle, you could head off into the wilds confident in knowing that you and your loved ones would be safe sleeping in this fifth-wheel-style camper attached to the Teutonic compact’s roof.

It’s ingenious, and it needs to make a comeback.

(Read More…)

By on August 28, 2016

Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen introduces the Cadillac CT6 luxury sedan Wednesday, April 1, 2015 at the New York International Auto Show in New York, New York, Image: Steve Fecht for Cadillac

You don’t mess with the Johan.

Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen isn’t known for sitting back and letting armchair analysts pontificate on General Motors’ luxury brand.

In reply to The Detroit Bureau’s August 25th piece about Cadillac’s future product plans — which includes details on Cadillac’s aboutface on a planned flagship sedan — de Nysschen jumped into the comments and set the record straight.

(Read More…)

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