While many auto journalists will tell you they’re just trying to scratch a living out of whatever they can, it’s an undisputed fact that the job has some definite perks. Although we can’t live the life of the rich and famous every day, we do occasionally get invited to drive the cars we cover. For a couple of beautiful days in October, Monticello Motor Club—one of the most exclusive and impressive automotive country clubs in America—opens its doors for the International Motor Press Association‘s (IMPA) Test Days, where schlubs like us get asked to drive some of the best new cars in the world on both a technical race track and the back roads of the Catskill Mountains.
Toyota is one of the world’s largest automakers, but at least one of its coolest cars is the result of a partnership with another automaker.
Automotive partnerships don’t always work. One failure that comes to mind immediately is the Chrysler TC by Maserati.
I guess “failure” might be a little harsh, because the car does have its own club and plenty of fans. Those people see the car as misunderstood and elegant, while the rest of the world sees a Chrysler K-car with a spit-shine.
The TC lasted only three model years and cost close to $40,000 when new. That high price bought a Maserati body with a Chrysler engine, pretty much the worst from each partner at the time.
Toyota seems to have the partnership thing figured out, though, with at least three marriages to other major automakers. Will they fare better than the Chrysler-Maserati tie-up?
Scion is dead.
Long live Scion.
Toyota’s experiment of creating a lower priced car for young people has seen limited success. The biggest impact it’s had on the auto industry so far is starting the whole box-car craze.
Scion sales in recent years have been anemic, and its model lineup has failed to generate anything more than mediocre reviews. With the exception of the FR-S, Scion has been near flatline. The options?
Give up on the brand, or give it another shot of adrenaline.
I remember the old era well. I remember when things were different, a time when the concept of having fun while driving was reserved for people with super-expensive cars or for mechanically inclined tuners who liked to turn econoboxes into home-built racers.
The cars have been an enormous success, which means just one thing:
There will be imitators.
My favorite cars have rear-wheel drive and a manual transmission. Can anything be better for weight distribution and complete control around corners than the ultimate combination of power-delivering perfection?
I’d take that combo in any car over a hatchback with 300 hp and front-wheel drive.
Unfortunately for people like me, a pretty good case has been made that says rear-wheel drive (RWD) is heading out the door, probably even before the manual transmission bites the dust.
Anyone can give out a Car of the Year award these days. In fact, the list of COTY awards seems to grow every year. There’s the old stalwart, the Motor Trend Car of the Year, but there’s also the North American Car and Truck of the Year, the World Car of the Year, and now the Popular Mechanics Car of the Year. Perhaps there should be an equally prestigious “tgriffith Car of the Year.”
Maybe there will be.
With such a wide variety of awards, it’s pretty hard to label the one true Car of the Year. In this era of “everyone’s a winner,” every car has some chance of winning some kind of award.
Motor Trend, though, seems to have nailed this year’s choice.
Some car brands have certain models that define them. For Scion, that model is the xB. No question, when people think of Scion, they think of college kids driving around in this box-shaped vehicle. The edgy brand and odd looks of the car combined to create a hit with Generation Y.
Of course, Scion sells other vehicles, too. The tC is a mostly lame attempt at a sports coupe, and the xD is, well, I can’t think of anyone who has ever liked the little hatch. The tC, at least, still sells well enough to justify its existence, but the xB and xD seem to have hit the end of the road.
Starting somewhere in early 2009, the auto industry lost its mojo.
I probably don’t need to go into how bleak things were, but words and phrases like “bankruptcy,” “recalls,” “rising gas prices,” and “sinking sales” dominated headlines for many of the last 36 months. There were bright spots, of course, but now that we’re well into 2012 it seems that things have finally turned the corner.
Keep reading for a few of the best most recent signs that car passion has returned.
How can the automaker top its efforts on the $375,000, 202-mph, 552-hp, 4.8-liter V10-powered scream machine? Honestly, I wouldn’t have thought it would be possible without striving for Bugatti Veyron-type numbers. Which, it turns out, could be a possibility. The rumor mill is churning with “leaked information” that Toyota isn’t satisfied with the LFA’s performance and wants a car that’s faster, more powerful and priced at close to a million bucks.
This is the type of story I’d take with a hefty dose of the proverbial salt, but the thought sure is enticing. It’s also a bit more believable considering the recent efforts Toyota has made at building sporty cars. In addition to the untouchable LFA, the Scion FR-S will arrive shortly, and the Lexus LF-LC concept looks hot.
Disneyland for the price of a state fair.
Las Vegas for the cost of an Indian casino.
5th Avenue for the price of Target.
When the right value proposition is dangled in front of us, we’d be crazy not to buy. Sports-car fanatics, at least the ones on a budget, look for the most amount of fun stuffed into the least expensive package. They want a Porsche for the price of a Scion.
Which could be exactly what the new Scion FR-S delivers.