Archive for the ‘Foreign Cars’ Category

Volkswagen Scandal Deepens, New Offer Made to Owners

November 10th, 2015


Things aren’t getting any easier for Volkswagen.

When the diesel emissions scandal broke in September, the problem was limited to 11 million vehicles equipped with the company’s 2.0-liter TDI engine. That alone was a crippling blow to the company that some estimates said could top $18 billion in damages.

The situation hasn’t improved in the weeks since.

Volkswagen, at least publicly, has done very little to let customers know how it will proceed in fixing the affected vehicles. In the meantime, the U.S. government has accused VW of cheating on additional vehicles, and Volkswagen itself has found another 800,000 cars that are probably affected.

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Too Late for Hyundai’s Genesis Brand?

November 9th, 2015


I have vague memories of the first time I heard the word “Lexus.” I wondered if a new car brand created by Toyota and given a funny name could actually compete with established juggernauts.

We all know how that turned out. Today Lexus is one the top-selling luxury brands in America and has established itself as a benchmark toward which other automakers strive.

It’s been 26 years since the birth of Lexus and now another new luxury nameplate will launch. Genesis, a brand to be launched by Hyundai, brings some of the same questions today that were asked of Lexus almost three decades ago: Can a mass-market automaker create a luxury brand able to successfully compete with the established companies?

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Unlikely Classics: More Than $20,000 for That Thing?

November 6th, 2015
$21,000 of fun?

$21,000 of fun?

Nirvana has become classic rock.

While scanning through my programmed radio stations this week, I came across “Come As You Are” and turned up the volume. I was surprised when the song ended and the station identifier came on and said, “Your classic rock station.”

How could this be? The classic rock station plays CCR and Led Zeppelin, not Nirvana. Then it occurred to me that Nirvana debuted a good quarter-century ago, which I suppose would indeed qualify its music as “classic rock.”

That hurt a little.

It reminded me of the changing face of classic cars as we cruise toward the year 2020. Classics aren’t the typical old ’66 Mustangs and ’67 Chevelles anymore—they include some vehicles I never thought I’d see on a classic car list.

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Honda Civic Type R Coming to the United States… Eventually

November 5th, 2015
2016 Honda Civic Type R

2016 Honda Civic Type R

Today we have good news and bad news for you.

Here’s the bad:

If you live in the United States, you can’t buy the 2016 Honda Civic Type R. That’s bad news because the Type R is more than just a spiffed-up Civic. It’s a turbocharged 2.0-liter direct-injected VTEC 4-cylinder speed demon that spits out 310 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque at just 2,500 rpm. It comes only with a 6-speed manual and can rocket from 0 to 62 in 5.7 seconds while on its way to a top speed of 167 mph.

The car is based on the European Civic, which differs from the U.S. version, so there’s no chance it will be sold here.

But here’s the good news:

The 2018 version will.

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Detroit Electric: Exported to… Europe?

November 3rd, 2015


Detroit Electric.

If you don’t know anything else about the company, you might think it could be a local utility that provides electricity to Detroit homes. It could also be an electrical repair company that serves residential and commercial needs in the Detroit area…or it could even be a Detroit startup electric automaker.

With a name like that we certainly assume we know at least one thing about the company: That it does its bidding in the great city of Detroit.

Except in this case, it doesn’t. Believe it or not, electric carmaker Detroit Electric doesn’t even do business in the United States of America.

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Can Alfa Romeo Finally Take On BMW?

November 2nd, 2015

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Alfa Romeo is the unicorn of the United States automotive market. For years we’ve heard rumors of its existence, but very few people here have ever actually seen one.

That has started to change with the arrival of the 4C, but it’s still a rare beast that most people won’t ever see, much less own.

A rare car isn’t a great platform to build a comeback on, so the Italian automaker wants to introduce a slew of performance vehicles overseas and hopefully in the U.S. to try and turn Alfa from a rare unicorn to a ubiquitous presence. Is there room for another competitor to BMW and Mercedes-Benz?

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What’s Your Favorite Utilitarian Car?

October 30th, 2015


There was a time when people bought cars for a specific reason. Sometimes it was for simple transportation, sometimes it was for moving stuff, and sometimes it was for traveling to remote locations.

Cars were built specifically for a purpose. People didn’t drive the Ford F-100 to the theater, they took the Buick Regal into town and left the Ford on the ranch for hauling hay.

Today’s cars have become multi-purpose vehicles and serve as family haulers, date night chariots, moving trucks, and off-road adventurers all rolled into one attractive wrapping.

Does anyone else miss the days of simple, utilitarian vehicles? Keep reading for a few examples of the best utilitarian vehicles ever available in the United States.

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Mazda RX-Vision: Reality or Illusion?

October 29th, 2015

Mazda RX-Vision concept

What happens when a Mazda RX-8 falls into a cotton candy machine?

You’ve seen how those machines stretch and pull the candy until it finally wraps itself around the cardboard stick. The new Mazda RX-Vision concept, pictured above, is the car-equivalent to stretched cotton candy.

And it’s gorgeous.

How did this wonder of automotive design happen? Will it actually come into existence? Will regular people like you and me be able to buy one? And most of all, if it does happen, how will it be powered?

The answer to that last question is perhaps even more exciting than the sleek shape you see in the photo before you.

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The Best Used Luxury Car You Can Buy

October 28th, 2015

2005 Volkswagen Phaeton

Do you remember the Volkswagen Phaeton?

This is the car that proved very few people in the U.S. were interested in a $75,000 Volkswagen. The Phaeton was introduced for the 2004 model year and was gone by 2006…so for two short years, American auto buyers had the chance to buy the nicest, most expensive Volkswagen ever sold.

An Audi-sourced 4.2-liter V8 was the *small* entry-level motor, while a massive 6.0-liter W12 was the up-level choice. Both engines were, and still are, magnificent.

The Phaeton was built in the same plant that created the Bentley Continental and Flying Spur. From the inside, one might never guess he or she is in a Volkswagen. From the outside, no one would ever think the Phaeton is anything more than a larger version of the Passat.

That’s where the Phaeton failed. Now, a good 10 years later, it’s time to look at the Phaeton again.

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Electric Cars That Don’t Look Like Electric Cars

October 27th, 2015


“Why do electric cars have to look like that?” she asked.

My wife referenced a parked BMW i3, a vehicle that certainly qualifies as eye-catching if not attractive.

I answered her question with some pre-programmed babble that included a perceived need by automakers to make their EVs stand out from the crowd, and a desire by EV owners to tell the world what they are driving.

Electric vehicles like the i3, i8, and Nissan Leaf are designed to invoke immediate recognition, but I questioned the logic as I spoke.

Why DO electric cars look like that? If we want them to be incorporated into the mainstream, they need to look like mainstream cars. Tesla understands that, but will other automakers evolve their EVs to suite the tastes of a mass audience?

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