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Archive for the ‘Foreign Cars’ Category

Which of These Electric Cars Couldn’t Go Up a Hill?

September 26th, 2014
Hint: It wasn't this one

Hint: It wasn’t this one

There are some things all cars should be able to do:

  1. Go
  2. Stop
  3. Make it up a hill

Pretty basic, right? The only car I’ve ever driven that struggled to make it up a hill was a 1987 Subaru GL. That car, for whatever reason, barely had enough power to drive over the added elevation of stripes in a parking lot.

I mention this because last weekend I attended an electric car show and managed to take an up close and personal look at some of the EVs currently on American roads. All were impressive.

One couldn’t make it up a hill.

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The Cadillac of Big Sedans Isn’t a Cadillac… Yet

September 24th, 2014
Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

There are two great ironies in this world.

The Cadillac name, throughout the ages of its existence, has survived as a stand-in for luxury, even as the cars themselves have lost much of their cachet over the years.

Today we see and hear “the Cadillac of such-and-such,” over and over, as the name stands for the highest attainable levels of quality.

That’s great irony number one. Today’s Cadillac models, while fine cars, aren’t associated with the best of the best.

Great irony number two is this:

There’s isn’t currently a “Cadillac of Cadillacs.”

However, that is about to change.

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Should Toyota Build This Juke Rival?

September 23rd, 2014

Toyota C-HR

Toyota shouldn’t bother with the frivolous or deal with matters too far outside of mainstream acceptance.

The Toyota brand is about status quo. It’s about creating the cars that respectable middle-class suburbanites drive to their corporate jobs and to weekend retreats at friends’ lake places.

Toyota doesn’t do wild and crazy, because the people who own them don’t do wild and crazy. Yes, sometimes Toyota steps out and tries something a little more exciting, but at least in the United States, those crazy moments are disguised by a Lexus or Scion badge.

If shoppers want something really crazy, they know they can look to Nissan. But what if Toyota doesn’t want people turning away from the brand when they want to stand out?

Enter the C-HR Concept.

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2015 Ford Mustang: Better Than a Scion FR-S?

September 19th, 2014

2015 Ford Mustang

I think it’s safe to say that Top Gear is a respected and trusted source of automotive news and opinion. When the television hosts or blog writers give an opinion, the world tends to listen.

When I saw the headline that the British blokes had driven the upcoming 2015 Mustang, I prepared myself to read about Ford’s still-inferior performance, interior, steering, yada, yada, yada.

Instead what I read was an absolutely glowing take on the pony car that has taken 50 years to finally arrive on UK shores. That’s great for them, but what will it mean to Mustang purists here in the United States?

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Cars on Autopilot: Self-Driving or Drive Yourself?

September 18th, 2014

volvo_autopilot

The first autopilot system in an airplane was developed in 1912, just as car technology was in its infancy. In the 102 years since, airplane technology has evolved so aircraft can virtually fly from point A to point B by themselves.

The human pilots are there to monitor progress, handle takeoffs and landings, and be prepared for emergencies.

We all accept the fact that planes fly themselves, but transfer the technology to cars and widespread panic sets in.

The terms “self-driving” and “autonomous” are thrown around by automakers, and perhaps most famously by Google, to describe their efforts to create a car that drives with limited human interaction. Some automakers are embracing the technology, but now at least one has put the focus back where it belongs: on the driver.

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Celebrating 60 Years of Ferrari Design

September 17th, 2014
2014 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta

2014 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta

In 1954, America changed forever.

This wasn’t because of a traumatic event or even something that seemed all that significant when it happened. The impact, though, has spread across six decades and left a trail of inspiration and breathlessness, along with plenty of burned rubber and lofty aspirations.

It was in 1954 that Ferrari formed an alliance with the North American Racing Team and began selling cars in the United States. Over the next 60 years, Ferrari won countless races and produced some of the most exhilarating and beautiful automobiles to ever scorch the pavement.

With a 60-year anniversary car debuting next month, let’s take a moment and look back at some of the most influential Ferrari designs in U.S. history.

First, though, I want to share what little info there is about this 60th anniversary car. AutoEvolution says,

In all likelihood, it is expected that this car will be based on the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, and it will add an exclusive exterior and interior design to account for the price jump of almost $3 million; a standard 2014 F12 Berlinetta starts at $318,888. Among the upgrades include a distinctive blue paint scheme with white stripes acting as a throwback to the Ferraris raced by the North American Racing Team (NART) from the 1960s through the 1980s. Big changes are also expected inside this car.

For $3 million, it had better be special! Not that it matters, because word is that only 10 vehicles will be produced and all are already sold. With that in mind, here are my favorite Ferrari designs from each decade:

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Can’t Wait for the Mid-Engine Corvette? Buy One of These!

September 12th, 2014

Corvette Zora ZR1 C8

There has never been a mid-engine Corvette and, most people believe, Chevrolet will never build one.

A Corvette with power coming from behind the driver just isn’t American. We like our cars with ferocious small block V8 engines taking up the space between our feet and the horizon and we like those engines covered by hoods long enough to land a Boeing 747.

That’s why news of a potential mid-engine C8 Corvette, currently dubbed the “Zora,” is staggering.

Car and Driver Magazine has a large feature on the development of the car, which is being covered by blogs everywhere. One of them says:

Little is known about this car, and given that the Z06 chucks out 650 bhp and costs just south of $80,000; anything turned up to 11 should cause quite a scene. The revisions to the chassis will not be updates to the C7, but major changes to be realized in the C8. For this highly tuned version, the price may start around $150,000 and production numbers will be limited to C6 ZR1 levels, somewhere around 1,500 copies.

If this is true, Chevy isn’t building a Corvette, it’s building a Ferrari.

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The Opposite Ends of Mercedes-Benz

September 10th, 2014

Mercedes AMG GT

Should You Buy a Used Unimog?

What’s a Unimog, you ask? Well, if we look to the reliable and almost-always-accurate Wikipedia, we’ll learn that Unimog is a range of multi-purpose 4-wheel-drive trucks produced by Mercedes-Benz.

With diesel power, high ground clearance, a flexible frame and a powerful off-road ability, Unimogs can be found in places where other motor vehicles dare not go.

That includes the freeways of Los Angeles, where one very famous Unimog once lived.

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The Jaguar XE’s Biggest Competition: A Used BMW?

September 9th, 2014

2015 Jaguar XE

With great fanfare and media attention, Jaguar has released official images, specs and pricing of its new XE. This is a huge deal, because the XE is a car set to compete against the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.

There’s one caveat to the above statement, though: So far specs and pricing are specific to the European market.

The info is enough to infer that the new “baby Jag” will be nothing like its predecessor, the X-Type. It’ll be lighter, faster, more fuel efficient and, to some people, better looking.

That, however, is debatable, and I wonder if the price of entry will send shoppers right back into the arms of the Germans.

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Can New Technology End Distracted and Drowsy Driving?

September 8th, 2014

driving while tired

How far should an automaker go to make sure the drivers of its cars stay safe by limiting the amount of distractions behind the wheel?

The latest news on battling distracted driving falls under the category of either creepy or cool, depending on your take on in-car technology. After my experience this weekend, though, I wouldn’t just call it cool, I’d call it potentially life-saving.

Lexus was one of the first to use technology to sound an alarm when it sensed a driver was not paying attention.

GM plans to step up the technology in a big way.

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