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Archive for April, 2011

Ferrari Enzo Replacement Inspired by Bugatti Veyron?

April 22nd, 2011

Ferrari Enzo

In the world of a true car enthusiast, rumors of a new supercar take precedence over anything else that might be happening that day. Pursuing a new love interest, browsing friends’ Facebook status updates, reading up on Snooki… suddenly none of it matters.

That’s especially true when we’re talking about two of the most legendary supercars: the Ferrari Enzo and the Bugatti Veyron.

The Enzo ended production in 2004, just before the Veyron captivated the world in 2005. If Autocar is to be believed, the Veyron just may set the benchmark for whatever car Ferrari is planning to replace the Enzo.

Since I know nothing you hear today will make you happier, keep reading!

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VW’s 2012 Beetle: The Triumph of Bland

April 21st, 2011

2012 Beetle, white


Nobody seems to be neutral
about the new Beetle, even though its design is about as indifferent as you can get. Kind of like the new Jetta, but with bubbly fenders and a squashed roof.

The company’s announced aim was “to essentially go after the MINI so far as market positioning and price offerings.” But this car has nothing like the MINI’s flair; maybe it will have some of its performance.

It appears to me that VW’s most important objective was to counter the image of the 1998-2010 New Beetle as a “chick car.” I owned one of these, because it had a good turbo engine and was a beautiful design. It turns out that two-thirds of the buyers of that car were women—which never caused me any embarrassment.

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Foreign Cars, General Chat

Cars Coming Soon->Turbo Suzuki Kizashi, Scion FR-S

April 21st, 2011

Scion FR-S concept

First order of business: The incredibly hot machine pictured directly above these words.

To the people visiting this week’s New York Auto Show, that gloriously sculpted red automobile is the Scion FR-S. To regular readers of this blog and fans of economical sports cars everywhere, it’s the latest concept incarnation of the infamous Toyota FT-86.

Why infamous? Because the frustratingly slow tease of this thing seems to come in a string of never-ending concepts, with no firm date for a production version. While this one looks closer to a showroom version, there are a few elements that just don’t have a chance at making it.

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Coming: New York’s New Taxi

April 20th, 2011

Karsan V1, one of the options in the running to become New York City's next cab

New York City has been having a long-running competition for a new cab design and will announce results in about a month. The Times did a big piece recently on the Ford Transit Connect, which is one of three options in the running, so we know which one they’re endorsing.

We reported a while back on the Transit Connect Electric, and it has had some success in fleets. If chosen for New York, it would be initially gas powered. The city lost its Supreme Court battle to enforce hybrids-only for its new taxis, at least for now, but one-third of the present taxi fleet (4,300 yellow cabs) is hybrid.

The other two designs in the running are: the Karsan V1 (above), built in Turkey, featuring a glass roof and wheelchair accessibility, and the Nissan NV200, built in Canton, Miss., and adapted from a commercial van. All three have lots of headroom, legroom and luggage space. Any would be an improvement over what is on the streets now.

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Car Politics, Domestic Cars, Foreign Cars, Hybrid Cars

Shanghai Motor Show Previews New Cars Destined for America

April 20th, 2011

Buick Envision concept

It’s finally safe to say that China has climbed to the top tier of auto shows. During the previous Shanghai Motor Show, in 2009, the United States was the world’s largest auto market. Since then, China has overtaken the U.S. and is now getting the auto-show attention it deserves.

World premieres at this year’s show include Volkswagen’s new retro-styled Beetle, General Motors’ new Chevrolet Malibu, and the Buick Envision concept.

The fact that these U.S.-bound cars were revealed a world away should give some insight into how important automakers believe the Chinese market has become.

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Green Update–>Lexus LF-Gh Concept: Farewell to the Stale and Stodgy

April 19th, 2011

Lexus LF-Gh front

Recent Lexus cars are absolutely forgettable: You pass them on the road or in a parking lot and don’t even see them.

One writer even thinks they may be deliberately designed that way to attract buyers who don’t want to stand out. But, he suggests, there may be a large group that refuses to buy Lexus cars “because they’re dull-looking.” We all know the GS 450h is a good car, but how many of you would be seen driving one?

Toyota is evidently tired of losing out on sales to the latter bunch. The LF-Gh concept previewing today ahead of the New York Auto Show is a gutsy and (mostly) successful attempt to take Lexus into the future with class. They have borrowed elements of the GS design and some from the LF-A, but the new car (coming late this year or in early 2012) is a beauty.

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Car Shows, Foreign Cars, Green Updates, Hybrid Cars

How To Avoid Buying a $30,000 Nissan Versa

April 19th, 2011

2010 Nissan Versa

On the surface, it would seem like any moron wandering a dealer’s lot could pick out the $30,000 Nissan Versa and, you know, not buy it.

But sadly, spotting the outrageously expensive cars on the lot isn’t as easy as looking at the window sticker. There’s a sly game of profit-maximizing happening behind the scenes of most auto dealers.

This isn’t to say that salespeople are dishonest or trying to scam you. They aren’t. The vast majority are ethical businesspeople doing what they do best: trying to make money.

Whether you’re buying new or used, your job as a consumer is to give dealers as little money as possible. If you let them win, your sub-$20K Versa suddenly costs a lot more.

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German Luxury Car Sales Booming

April 18th, 2011
2011 BMW 535i

2011 BMW 535i

The German Big Three are moving lots of high-priced iron these days. And you know who’s buying? China, of course—and those in the U.S. no longer embarrassed to be seen driving a Deutsch land-yacht during a time of economic dislocation.

Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen/Audi all reported new sales records for the first quarter of 2011. Selling 165,842 cars, BMW had its best-ever three-month period with growth of 21.3 percent.

Audi had the best quarter in its history, with sales of 312,600 cars, an 18.4 percent jump. Daimler reported 280,500 Mercedes-Benz cars sold (a 12.7 percent gain). And, lo and behold, Smart cars are selling, too: 25,000 in the first quarter, a 9.8 percent gain.

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Do Rising Gas Prices Make People Stupid? Here’s How To Protect Yourself

April 18th, 2011

Feeling stupid? Blame the gas prices.

As gas prices increase, the collective brain power of the driving public decreases. Or, to say that more simply:

High gas prices might make you stupid.

Maybe that’s not a proven fact, but drivers are looking for ways to fight against cash-sucking gas pumps and, perhaps in desperation, are increasingly making decisions that don’t make any sense.

For proof that human brains cease to function after paying $4 per gallon, keep reading.

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McLaren MP4-12C: Best Sports Car in the World?

April 15th, 2011

There have been a number of blog pieces comparing the MP4-12C to the Ferrari 458 Italia, including this one, and most give the edge to the McLaren. A lot depends on who’s doing the comparing, of course.

McLaren gave the car to some media folks to drive at the great Autodromo circuit in Portugal, and we’ll show you the video after the break. Interesting to watch their facial expressions. Jenson Button, a great F1 driver, also demonstrates.

We’ve written a lot (here and here) about the McLaren, because it’s a car with enormous potential and a great developmental history. It’s also going to be sold in the U.S. at the end of this summer for a sticker price of $231,400, which makes it a clear bargain in the rarefied world of highest-performing sportscars.

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