Tag: 2010

By on August 18, 2010

Most cars today avoid doing anything terribly well so as to avoid doing anything terribly badly. Then there are Mazdas.  I love my Protege5. The agile chassis is a joy around town, BUT refinement and rust prevention were clearly not on the engineers’ to-do list. I love the RX-8 even more. Outstanding handling, surprising utility for a sports car, BUT the rotary is torque free and can drink a Corvette under the table. And then we have the MazdaSpeed3. You already know what I’m going to say about the MazdaSpeed3. But I’m going to say it anyway.

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By on August 13, 2010

With its 2011 redesign the BMW 5-Series is now much more closely related to the 7-Series. It’s smoother, quieter, and–both for better and for worse–has the feel of a larger car. So, why would someone spend roughly $18,000 more for the 7?  (Add another $3,900 for the extended wheelbase Li, and another $3,000 for AWD.) To find out, I took a 750Li xDrive for a spin after driving the new 550i.

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By on August 11, 2010

The China Association of Auto Manufacturers (CAAM) is confident that  total auto sales in China may reach up to 16 million units, says Global Times. They seem to be unfazed by the recent cooling-off. (Read More…)

By on July 30, 2010

When Subaru introduced the 2005 Legacy GT wagon with a turbocharged flat four, all-wheel-drive, and a manual transmission, it went straight to the short list of cars I’d buy…if I was buying a car. But I wasn’t buying a car. Apparently there were too many like me, for Subaru discontinued the manual transmission the following year, then dropped the Legacy wagon altogether with the 2008s. With the 2010 redesign of the Legacy, Subaru appears to be giving the GT incarnation one last shot. While other Legacies and Outbacks are powered by naturally aspirated fours and sixes, the GT retains the turbo four—and is available only with a six-speed manual transmission. Clearly it was developed for enthusiasts. But will enough enthusiasts return the favor? Should they?

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By on July 28, 2010

There’s a great playground in Berkeley, near the Rose Garden, that has a two-story tall twisted and banked concrete slide down the side of a hill, of the sort that cities would never build again in our modern liability-freaked danger-averse era. Blissfully unaware of this, the local kids use torn-up cardboard boxes to reduce their friction and go even faster. While I watched, one kid went sailing off the end, landing flat on his back. He stood up and did a high-five with one of his friends, grinning from ear to ear. “That was hella cool!”
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By on July 16, 2010

Reviving a legendary nameplate inevitably invites comparisons. As is often the case, those for the new 2010 Ford Taurus SHO have not been favorable. Judging from reviews, forum postings, and (I’ll predict) the comments below, the 2010 lacks whatever made the original legendary. Well, I drove the original SHO back in 1989. And now I’ve driven the 2010 for a week. For better or worse, the similarities outweigh the differences. So, what’s missing in the SHO’s revival?

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By on July 14, 2010

A wise old man once told me: “you can’t just own a Jaguar, you have to have a love affair with one.” The reasons for this were several, the sexy rooflines hampered head room and visibility, trunk space was non-existent, and then there are those reliability woes. Although my 2000 XJ8 has (no kidding) been the definition of a reliable car for the past 120,000 miles, the mantra applied. When Jaguar came out with a new S-Type, the restrained classic styling screamed “this is your father’s Jaguar.” When Jaguar created performance models like the XJR and S-Type R, they were just fast fat cats, not really holding their own against the Germans. But that wasn’t their goal at the time, the goal was to propel an English gentleman’s club on wheels with “swift progress” to quote the XFR’s owners guide. Jaguar styling was the definition of restrained classic elegance. Everyone who saw a Jaguar would gush about how gorgeous they looked in the parking lot. Consumers loved the look in someone else’s parking lot, but put a BMW in their driveway. Like the box of abandoned kittens at the PetCo front door, nobody really wanted to take the kitty home, and that’s a pity.

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By on July 7, 2010

Pity Acura. Honda gambled in creating the first Asian luxury brand, and enjoyed four years in the spotlight when this bet paid off, only to then be completely overshadowed by Lexus. Acura has spent the last two decades trying to regain car buyers’ attention. The logical solution: offer cars that look and drive like no others. But what is distinctive it not necessarily desirable. And so we have the Acura TL SH-AWD.

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By on July 2, 2010

These six sedans are the fleshy part of the American car market. Big-name D-segment sedans sell like crazy, and pretty much made Honda and Toyota what they are today. Their dominance of this segment, often called “Camccord” after their two best-sellers, remains unchecked as each has spent three months on top of the chart. But there’s danger down below. Hyundai’s Sonata has been making steady progress all year (June excepted), and the Malibu has enjoyed more modest, but equally steady growth. Altima all but matched Camry in February, and gave Accord a scare in March. There’s still a tight pack of four nipping at the heels of the big dogs. Time to start coming up with a new nickname for the D-Segment?

By on June 24, 2010

Since the start of the World Cup, chief sponsor Hyundai has already miffed the Catholics, and one of its ads accidentally caused British viewers to miss England’s first World Cup goal. So, to get things back on track they’ve apparently decided to sponsor… a giant vuvuzela? “Annoying” and “mildly offensive” were probably not the brand values Hyundai was looking to promote when they decided to sponsor the event. But hey, at least they’re not throwing competitors in jail.

By on June 23, 2010

The MDX was the first luxury brand crossover to offer three rows of seating, and Acura was rewarded accordingly. For its tenth model year the second-generation MDX has received a refresh. But is there enough here to maintain Acura’s position in an increasingly crowded segment?

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By on June 19, 2010

Wuchtig. I’m sitting, panting, trying to catch my breath on the side of a tiny two-lane road running through the vineyards of California’s Napa Valley. I’m in an American car. I haven’t spoken German regularly since I was 18. Adrenalin has chased everything resembling a coherent thought from my mind. And yet, strangely, the only thing left banging around my speed-addled skull is a single German adjective for which the English language has no translation: wuchtig.
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By on June 18, 2010

In the first nine months of the current fiscal year Porsche sold slighty fewer cars than in the same period of the previous year. But they made more money: They are looking at operating profits of €0.6b  on sales of €5.2b. That’s a double digit operating profit, ladies and gentlemen, and none of the put and call hanky-panky is included. Now what do you think is the catalyst for the wunderbar numbers? Are you sitting down? (Read More…)

By on May 26, 2010

Nobody in possession of his or her faculties doubts that China will remain the world’s largest auto market for this year and years to come. In 2009, Chinese bought 13.6m vehicles, up 45 percent. In the U.S.A. 10.4m units changed hands in 2009, down 21.2 percent. This year, the U.S. A. is expected to recover, but not by much: J.D. Power forecasts 11.2m units sold in the U.S. for 2010. How many will be driven off dealers’ lots in China this year? (Read More…)

By on May 14, 2010

Many cars look and drive much like any number of other cars. They’re simply not special in any way. You might as well toss a coin to choose among them. The EX35 is not one of these cars. Infiniti’s compact crossover is unlike anything else in the U.S. market. And you’re either going to love it or, more likely, hate it.

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