Sports Cars: Dead or Coming Out of Hibernation?

November 12th, 2014

porsche-911-gt3

There are a couple of quotes we need to address today. The first is from Automotive News:

“The sports car market is roughly half of what it used to be,” Ian Robertson, BMW’s head of sales, said in an interview at the manufacturer’s headquarters in Munich. “Post-2008, it just collapsed. I’m not so sure it’ll ever fully recover.”

In Europe and North America, the car’s role as a status symbol has diminished, with SUVs and crossovers becoming ever more popular.

The second quote expands on the first, and comes to us by way of The Truth About Cars:

Increased congestion, urbanization and a demonization of speeding (backed by harsh, if not draconian penalties) has made the notion of a sports car an outmoded one for many people. Even the latest 991 Porsche 911 GT3 has abandoned the manual transmission.

Do we, the sports car fans of the world, have something to worry about?

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Toyota and BMW Will Partner on New Car

November 11th, 2014

Toyota FT-1 concept

Toyota teamed up with Subaru to build a sports car, and it ended up with the FT-86, known here in the States as the Scion FR-S.

The car is significant because it’s the first time in many years that Toyota has injected some rear-wheel-drive fun into its lineup. The only problem is that the car is a bit underpowered. The FR-S is fun to drive because it’s perfectly balanced and handles beautifully. It won’t, however, win a lot of speed races and isn’t very refined or comfortable.

The other mistake I think Toyota made was badging this car as a Scion. It would have been better for the car’s image had it worn a Toyota badge.

Toyota’s next partnership, now confirmed, will result in something just a little faster and, we hope, all Toyota.

Buckle up, friends, because BMW and Toyota have announced that they are moving forward with the joint development of a sports car.

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The Perfect Car for a Picky Driver

November 10th, 2014

2015_audi_a3

The requirements weren’t easy to meet:

  1. Fuel efficient
  2. Fun to drive
  3. Easy to zip through traffic
  4. Not a 2-door, but not a lot of extra room for too many passengers
  5. Not a sports car
  6. Not a Honda, Toyota, Hyundai or Kia
  7. Must be new and available for lease
  8. Relatively inexpensive
  9. Not an electric car
  10. Reliable

A dear friend is moving from Washington to Los Angeles and needs a car better suited for SoCal than her current Hyundai Santa Fe. Things can get pretty snowy and cold up here in Washington, so all-wheel drive was a requirement, but front-wheel or rear-wheel drive will be preferred down south.

I set my mind loose to think up suggestions, but had a tougher time than I expected.

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For Veterans Day, Our 10 Favorite Automotive Veterans

November 7th, 2014

2006 Hummer H1 Alpha

The eleventh day of the eleventh month marks Veterans Day, the time of year we honor and remember the veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces and our allies. We want to take this time not only to reflect on the people who have served, but also to mention some of the vehicles that assisted the military throughout the years. These vehicles have served soldiers in combat and noncombat situations in times of war and peace. Some were born in the military, and some adapted to combat well after their creation.

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SEMA 2014: Cars From the Weirdest Show in the Industry

November 7th, 2014
2015 Lexus RC 350 F Sport

2015 Lexus RC 350 F Sport

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show could only be held in Las Vegas. SEMA is North America’s annual trade show for the tuning and customization market, and it’s traditionally packed with weird displays from everyone including the major manufacturers to independent tuning shops.

This year the Las Vegas Convention Center has been packed with more crazy creations than ever, including a dragster disguised as a boring sedan.

Here are the highlights of SEMA 2014.

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Get Your Car Fixed, Get a Free Starbucks!

November 6th, 2014
Free coffee must be more convincing than a death risk

Free coffee must be more convincing than a death risk

General Motors’ ignition-switch recall debacle just won’t go away.

With over a million recalled but unfixed vehicles still on the road and pressure on GM to fix the cars as quickly as possible, the company has come up with an interesting proposition.

Since the risk of death hasn’t convinced those million-plus car owners to visit their dealership, GM hopes $25 worth of coffee will.

The recall, which was announced in February, included 2.6 million cars and involves a faulty ignition switch that could shift into the accessory position while driving, shutting down important functions like brakes, steering and airbags while the car is running.

At least 30 people have been killed because of this defect, but that risk apparently isn’t enough for owners to take action and have the free repair made.

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Buying Used Luxury? Think Twice

November 5th, 2014
How much are those rings worth to you?

How much are those rings worth to you?

Driving a luxury car for the price of a Honda is an appealing proposition.

I’ve advocated for it on these very pages. Why would someone spend $25,000 on a new Accord or CR-V when they could have a used Audi A6 or Q7?

The benefits make it seem like a no-brainer. For the same money you get more luxury, more brand panache, better performance, and an all-around cooler vehicle. Everything’s great, up until your new luxury car needs some basic maintenance and repairs.

I’d like to share my personal story, so you might avoid the fate that has fallen upon me.

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Who Recommends the Cars You Buy?

November 4th, 2014

Mercedes-Benz M-Class

Who would buy a car that doesn’t come recommended?

Most car buyers get their recommendation from family or friends. Advertising inspires some, and others need no recommendation beyond their own research and experience.

Plenty of car shoppers use a combination of all the recommendations they can get, but few are more influential than the “recommended” status as given by Consumer Reports.

The stalwart of consumer protection and advice has a coveted list of cars it recommends to subscribers. Automakers love being on the list, because it gives their vehicles more credibility. Falling off that list, though, can mean trouble.

Just ask the 2012 Honda Civic, which failed to receive the publication’s recommendation for being underpowered and having too much road noise and a cheap-feeling interior. That led to a redesign for 2013 and a much better car for consumers.

This year, some surprising vehicles have lost their recommended status.

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Exploding Airbags: Who Has the Right Fix?

November 3rd, 2014

airbag-explosion

Ten automakers have recalled a total of 8 million cars because the airbags in them can explode.

While it’s true that airbags are, by design, supposed to explode out of the car in case of an accident, these airbags explode with so much force that they actually send shrapnel into the air. An airbag with shrapnel is worse than no airbag at all. Right?

All the defective airbags were manufactured by a company called Takata, which doesn’t have enough product on hand to repair all 8 million vehicles. Automakers are taking very different routes to address this issue, with at least one recommending that the affected airbag be turned off completely.

Toyota has recalled almost 900,000 cars, but doesn’t have enough airbags to fix all of them. While it waits for Takata to deliver more, the company said that it plans to disable defective airbags once it runs out of replacements.

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Selling Your Car? Don’t Do This

October 31st, 2014

upside-down car

If reading yesterday’s post on trunk-or-treating made you want to sell your car and go buy a Ferrari FF to use for tonight’s Halloween festivities, you’re not alone.

Or maybe you’ve finally decided it’s time to give up on your Civic and buy one of the most beautiful cars on sale today.

In anticipation of people inundating the CarGurus used listings to post their cars for sale in search of something a little more rewarding, it’s important that we take the time to remember what not to do when trying to sell a car.

Whatever you do, don’t make one of these horrendous mistakes that’ll keep buyers looking elsewhere.

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