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Tesla Introduces Cybertruck

22nd November 2019

Tesla introduced its Cybertruck on Thursday, to mixed reviews.

Tesla has a cadre of fanboys and girls that will fall over themselves over anything the company does. Its products thus far (the original Roadster, Model S, Model X, Model 3) have great features and (mostly) attractive packages. The upcoming Model Y seems to continue this. Further ahead, Tesla will (someday, one can presume) begin producing and selling the new Roadster and the Semi. Every one of these products has an attractive, distinctive design inside and out, long-range batteries, amazing acceleration and have garnered a cult-like following. A version of the Model 3 is the most efficient vehicle you can buy in the United States, getting a rating of 141 MPGe from the US EPA. Clearly, the company has a lot going for it.

Thursday, Tesla seemed to consciously put all of that on the line with the introduction of the Cybertruck. With a design that can be generously described as “unique”, Tesla seemed to say, “Let’s see how ugly we can make a vehicle and have people still fawn all over it.” This seemed like a joke. One might be excused if they were waiting for the punchline at the end. Surely, they would show the real Cybertruck soon, right? Nope. If there is a punchline, it wasn’t revealed yet.

The design is made up of entirely flat panels – there are no compound curves, no rounded surfaces. Frankly, I think an 8-year old drew this in art class, and Musk decided to make it as a joke. Besides being a (cough…cough) distinctive design, the only good reason to design a vehicle like this is to save tooling cost. When a typical exterior panel has the kind of surfaces you’re used to seeing, the part must go through multiple steps of stamping. The different tools required to do this are quite expensive and can really add up to many millions of dollars. This design requires none of that multi-step process and is certainly a big part in keeping the starting price less than $40,000.

One “feature” in particular has made a lot of news: the supposed armored glass windows. Musk described them as being like a transparent steel. To demonstrate this, well, just watch:

So much for “unbreakable” glass!

What do you think? Will this be a success? Do you like it? Am I being too harsh? I’d love to hear your opinions!

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“Any Crash at That Sort of Speed Is Likely to Hurt”

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2019 Chopping Block

26th December 2018

This is the time of year when some automotive publications tell us about all the vehicles that are on the chopping block, that are either done with production or about to be done.

USA Today has just published a list (see this link). In some cases, the list reeks of missed opportunity, where the car in question was a truly good/great car but was in the wrong place at the wrong time or was a victim of gross negligence on the part of its owner/steward.

Their Time was Up
Ford Taurus – Ford lost its way with Taurus when it made it a bigger car in order to use an existing Volvo platform. Classic case of trying to hammer a square peg into that damn round hole. Taurus’s days were numbered for years.

Chevy Impala – similar to the Taurus, but Impala was more just a victim of changing tastes in the market. Customers just aren’t buying cars, especially big cars, anymore.

VW Beetle – the Beetle was a fashion play from the beginning of its resurrection and fashions simply don’t last. I’m surprised it lasted this long, frankly.

Cadillac XTS – see Chevy Impala. Same deal here.

Who Gives a Shit? (or, “They Still Sell That?”)
VW Touareg – this vehicle, from the day it went on sale, violated Marketing 101 by having a name that NOBODY can pronounce. It’s hard to want a product that you can’t say. How do you ask for it? VW has been particularly guilty of this over the years. Full disclosure: I do know how to pronounce it, but it took a lot of practice to get it right.

Hyundai Azera – nobody really wanted a luxury Hyundai, and eventually Hyundai agreed when they introduced their new Genesis brand

Honda CR-Z – I actually liked this car a lot, but I learned a long time ago that my taste is NOT representative of most Americans’. This was a sporty hybrid with an available manual tranny! Yeah, nobody else knew that either.

Nissan Juke – this was the fugliest car since the Pontiac Aztec, and that’s saying a lot. It was quirky just for the sake of being quirky. Never a good idea.

Just a Victim of Circumstance
Ford Focus, Chevy Cruze, Chevy Volt, Ford C-Max, Toyota Prius V – all of these are victims of the trend “You can sell anything in this market, as long as it’s an SUV”. The subtitle of the trend is “If its main reason for being is that it gets good fuel economy, Americans don’t want it!” These are all good/great cars, but with fuel an an inflation-adjusted price of almost zero, Americans have reverted back to “bigger is better, and it better be an SUV”.

Bad Management
Cadillac CT6 & ATS – both of these 2 are truly great/world class cars, and part of their demise is that they are cars (see above). However, there are still plenty of cars out there that are NOT being cancelled, so the fact that Cadillac can’t sell them is more an indictment of Cadillac management than of the cars themselves.

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2017 Detroit Auto Show

14th January 2017

As I sat down to write my usual report for the Detroit Auto Show, I realized that I wouldn’t have a lot to say this year. Nothing really stands out. Sure, there are many nice cars this year, including some world premieres. The overall desirability of cars, trucks, and utilities has never been better. Better fuel economy, better looking, better technology (some of which won’t kill you). The downside of all this excellence is that it’s tougher to stand out. And nothing did.

What really didn’t help this year was the absence of several of the high-end sports and luxury makers. Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Tesla, McLaren, Land Rover, and Jaguar were all MIA.

Here a brief rundown of some of the notable cars, in no particular order:

  • Roush P-51 Mustang. Rousch slaps a supercharger onto the Ford 5.0 V8, giving it 727 horsepower! 🙂
  • Ford GT: not new, but if you can walk by the GT on the Ford stand without drooling all over yourself, you need to check your pulse.
  • 2018 GMC Terrain: all-new; smaller, loses 400 pounds, gets a more refined look, maybe too refined. Powertrain lineup is all-new: 1.5L or 2.0L turbo 4 gas or 1.6L turbo Diesel.
  • VW Atlas: new SUV designed especially for the US market. And they did such a great job, the result of their efforts looks amazingly like the quintessential American SUV, the Jeep Grand Cherokee. No kidding – if you squint, you can barely tell the difference.
  • Toyota Prius Prime: this is the 2nd generation plug-in Prius, now with a new name. It’s just as…quirkey…as the “regular” Prius. Lots of people buy the Prius, but I think it is (and always has been) a weird-looking car that drives like a tin can on wheels. Sorry, but it’s true.
  • Kia Stinger: brand new entry 4-door hatchback RWD/AWD optional. 2.0L turbo (255 hp / 260 torque) or 3.3L twin-turbo V6 (365/376).
  • VW ID Buzz: yet another in a long line of micro bus concepts from our Diesel-impaired friends. VW’s electric offensive is clearly partly an attempt to deflect the stare of government regulators and partly a peace offering to environmentalists they’ve offended with Diesel emissions trouble.
  • 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA: they said it’s new, but who can tell?
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe moves to the new platform already adopted by the sedan
  • 2018 F-150 – freshened (very slightly), with new engines, including a Diesel for the first time
  • 2018 Chevy Traverse looks very much like a larger scale model of the recently-introduced new Equinox
  • Audi Q8 Concept – a more emotional, coupe-like version of the Q7. Plug-in hybrid. Was introduced during the preview, but was gone on the first public day of the show.
  • Nissan Rogue Sport – a new entry for Nissan in the small SUV segment. It’s not a new car, though; it’s already sold in other markets as Qashqai
  • 2018 Honda Odyssey: honestly, it’s a minivan. Ho-hum. It’s good-looking as minvans go, and Honda has finally integrated the sliding door track into the gap between the body and the rear window. Chrysler did this a million years ago, and Ford did it more than a decade ago.
  • 2018 Toyota Camry: some will tell you that it’s an exciting new aggressive design. Maybe for a Camry. I’ll tell you it’s mildly more expressive, but stakes no new ground.
  • Nissan Vmotion 2.0 concept: winner of the Eyes on Design best concept car. It’s very good looking.
  • 2018 Lexus LS 500: newest version of the Lexus that started the brand back at the 1989 Detroit Auto Show. Has a twin-turbo V6, 415 horsepower and 442 pound feet of torque, 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds, 10-speed auto tranny.
  • Volvo V90: this is an S90 wagon, and brings to 3 models that have Volvo’s new design language, including and especially the gorgeous interior.
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio: an all-new utility on the same platform as the recently introduced Giulia (still can’t buy it, though). Like the Giulia, Stelvio will be available with either a 2.0L I4 with 280hp & 306 torque on the base model. Upgrade to the Quadrifoglio and you get a 2.9L twin turbo with 505hp & 443 torque. Score!
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Ford announced that they are including a new safety feature on the 2017 Ford Fusion. It’s called “Return to Park” and as the names implies, it will put the car in Park if you forget. See video below. The primary benefit of this is to prevent rollaways. According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study published in August, 360 people were killed in accidents involving unattended vehicles with no driver control between 2012 and 2014. In an average year, about 2,000 people are injured in similar incidents.

So, how does this work? If the car detects the driver’s intent to exit the car, it will automatically shift the transmission into Park. You might ask, “How does the car detect my intent?” Here’s how:

  • You turn the vehicle off
  • You open the driver’s door with your safety belt unlatched and the vehicle is stationary
  • Your safety belt is unlatched with the driver’s door open and the vehicle is stationary

This and other recent electronic safety innovations are a mixed blessing. On one hand, anything that makes cars safer is a good thing. On the other, each of these “improvements” takes the actual operation of the car out of our hands (in some cases, literally), and causes us to be worse in the actual skill of driving. They give, potentially, a false sense of security. Consider, for example, rear cameras, which are mandated on all cars and light trucks by May, 2018. There is a strong inclination to depend on what you see on the screen as you back up, without the “old” way of actually looking around. The camera is not designed to work alone; it is a supplement to the mirrors and your actual eyes. Depending on it as the sole source of what’s going on around the car is dangerous and could, ironically, increase injuries.

The point is that these innovations are great, as long as they are used to supplement the existing features the car has and the driving skills we have.

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It occurred to me that my comments in the Detroit Auto Show report about the GMC Acadia might need some explanation.

Automotive planners are constantly looking for “white space” for new products. If you could graph all products on the market, and place a dot where they reside in terms of size, power, economy, seating, etc, then anywhere without a dot it white space. Simple, right? In theory, yes. Actually finding the white space and a feasible product to put into it is another answer all together. When you find true whitespace, it’s like finding gold. Think 1984 Chrysler minivans, 1965 Mustang, 1953 Corvette. That’s real white space – new segments. Other types of white space are a certain niche within a segment, like the Ford Taurus SHO, Ford Transit or Ram SRT10 pickup. These products filled a need that was not being met within an existing segment.

So what does this have to do with GMC moving its Acadia large crossover to the midsize segment? The Acadia (and its GM siblings: Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave) is a large crossover. There are very few large crossovers in the US market – besides the GM triplets, there are 2 (non-luxury) others: Ford Flex and Mazda CX-9. A crossover is an SUV that is built on a car body and generally rides lower and more like a car than a “true” SUV. A large or full-size crossover is generally one that is about 200” (5000 mm) or longer. So while the large crossover segment is not really whitespace (anymore), it is only a light shade of grey. GM has been able to sell many of these since they were introduced in 2006, reaching a record 278,419 in the US in 2015.

In my opinion, GM is getting a bit cocky with the move of the Acadia to the midsize segment (around 190”/4800 mm – 200”/5000 mm). Yes, the midsize segment has more sales than the large segment, so why shouldn’t GM go after those sales? 2 reasons:

  • The segment includes some of the best-selling vehicles in the US market (Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Jeep Grand Cherokee, among others). This is the opposite of white space.
  • The new Acadia is also very close in size to GMC’s own Terrain, which at 187.8” is less than 6” shorter than the new Acadia.

Of course, all of this is without knowledge of the General’s product plans that they haven’t announced. Maybe there are other plans in the works that make this make sense. Maybe. Call me skeptical.

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2016 Detroit Auto Show

16th January 2016

2016 Detroit Auto Show

Welcome to Detroit, where we should be proud enough these days to actually call our auto show The Detroit Auto Show again (it’s been called “North American” since 1989). Then again, if he keeps buying properties in the city, we might have to rename the city “Gilbert”, or maybe “Dan” so we can keep calling it “The D”.

General Motors

  • 2017 Chevy Cruze Hatchback It’s the new Cruze with a backpack. On sale this fall, the hatch will not be available in the lower versions, L & LS. Only available on the LT and Premier versions. It’s quite good looking, maybe the sleeper of the show. If it were to be available with a more powerful engine (2.0L Turbo, mayhaps?), Slandy might very well be interested. Not a big fan of the spoiler; I would delete it if it’s an option to do so.

The 2017 Cruze Hatch offers the design, engineering and technolo

  • 2017 Bolt EV As promised, Chevy introduced the production version of the concept shown last year. Details are sparse, but Chevy claims “more than 200 miles of range on a full charge” and that it will go on sale by the end of 2016.


  • 2017 GMC Acadia the big crossover shrunk in the wash and is now a midsize. It will be more than 7 inches shorter, 3.5 inches narrower and 700 pounds lighter than its predecessor. It’s on a new version of the same Lambda platform. GM is mum on whether Acadia’s siblings (Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave) will also downsize when they are redesigned. Standard engine is a 2.5L, and a new 3.6L V6 is optional. While this new Acadia is certainly good looking, intentionally moving it to compete directly with some of the biggest sellers in SUV-dom is a mistake. Yes, Acadia is moving to a larger segment, but that larger segment also has many very good competitors already in it. GMC is a fringe brand, and I think this move will ultimately hurt sales.


  • Buick Avista Concept quite the stunner – both the car itself and the fact that Buick might very well have the best concept car in the show for the 2nd year in a row (“that’s not a Buick..”). It’s a RWD coupe, vaguely reminds me of the dearly departed Toyota Solara and of the Honda Accord Coupe. The grille/logo look like it was lifted off a Chrysler dealer’s lot. There’s a lot of buzz about it. Will Buick make it? Buick is coy, saying only that “if the customers want it…”. One thing is clear, though. If they DO make it, it damn well better be named Riviera.



  • Buick Envision Buick needed a midsize crossover to slot in between the large Enclave and the minute Encore. Instead of spending many $ designing a new vehicle, Buick will import the Envision basically off-the-shelf from China. It will be the first vehicle imported from China to be sold in the US market. Will customers care? Will they even know? Likely not, on both questions. Envision is a little bigger than a Ford Escape and comes with a 2.0L Turbo 4 with 252 hp and a 6-speed auto tranny. All-wheel drive is standard. Goes on sale in the 2nd quarter.

2016 Buick Envision


  • Cadillac CT6 is Caddy’s new big sedan. Think of it as an XL-size CTS (which is, in turn, a size L ATS).

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  • Cadillac XT5 is essentially a new SRX, but conforming to Cadillac’s new drug-induced naming scheme. It’s really good looking, with some cool features, like the ability to switch the rear-view mirror to camera mode. This shows the rear view based on what the camera sees, and projects it onto the mirror. No blind spots from the car or from passengers’ heads, etc. It seems very intuitive, but you’d have to see it for yourself to fully get it.

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  • 2017 Ford Fusion Fusion gets a mild freshening on the exterior and some other major improvements elsewhere, including a rotary shift knob for the transmission (like Chrysler has had for a few years) and the addition of the Fusion V6 Sport – a performance sedan unlike anything in the segment with a twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 delivering a projected 325 horsepower and 350 torques. There are also improvements to the 2 hybrid versions and the addition of a new top-of-the-line Platinum model.
  • Ford F-150 is not new, but has a really cool new feature called Pro Trailer Backup Assist. which uses a dial on the dash to steer the truck while backing up with a trailer. There’s a demo if you go to the show. Really worth it to check out this new innovative feature. If you can’t, go to YouTube to see a demo there. The new F-150 Raptor SuperCrew is also launched.
  • 2017 Ford Super Duty will be all-new in 2017, following the lead of F-150 with an aluminum alloy body on top of a steel frame

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  • 2017 Lincoln Continental really nice looking overall, but unlike other Ford/Lincoln products, the design is unoriginal and cobbled together from elements of other cars. To wit: the headlamps from Audi, grille from Jaguar, rear-end is vaguely Hyundai. Cool features: controls on the right rear door move the front passenger seat forward to create even more room for a chauffeured owner to stretch out, button-activated “e-latch” door handles integrated into the chrome beltline, From the inside, the doors open via a button instead of a handle, Lincoln-exclusive 3.0-liter turbo V-6 produces 400 hp and 400 pounds-feet of torque, front-wheel drive is standard, AWD is available.

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Continental Door Handle

  • Ford Escape gets a mild freshening for 2017. New grille, headlamps and taillamps. No big deal, but definitely looks nicer.

Fiat Chrysler

  • 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is a complete makeover of Chrysler’s minivan. Why they changed the name is beyond me. The typical BS answer when asked this question is that the old name had “baggage”. In this case, there is no baggage with Town & Country. Any baggage in with the segment itself. {rant over} It has the 200’s front-end and a rear-end that looks a little like the Kia Soul. It will be available as a plug-in hybrid that can run 30 miles on a charge before the V-6 engine takes over. Gasoline-powered models can be ordered with all-wheel drive. The Stow ‘n Go rear seating system has been re-engineered and now is far simpler to use (according to Chrysler, but a demo was not available). It will also include KeySense, Chrysler’s version of the Ford MyKey and GM’s Teen Driver, in which the key fob can be programmed with speed limits, audio-volume limits and a lock-out that prevents the disabling of safety systems.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica

2017 Chrysler Pacifica

  • Fiat 124 Spider is a Mazda Miata with a different powertrain and styling. Looks awesome, and I want 1 (maybe 2).

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  • Fiat 500 Stormtrooper I’m not sure that’s what they called it, but it’s likely close enough. Just a fun little car just sitting there with all the other cars. No signs or other attempts at attention.

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  • Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio You don’t think the 276 hp in the Giulia is enough? How about 505 from a bi-turbo 2.9L V6?

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  • 2017 Lexus LC500 (World Debut) Absolute stunner. Really nice design…

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…until you get to the GRILLE


Honestly Lexus, Toyota, or whoever is responsible for this, there’s a time to put down your pencil and call it done. The only thing I can say positive about the GRILLE is it’s distinctive.

  • Lexus LF-FC Concept is a really nice concept – appears to be much bigger than any current Lexus. It’s a fuel cell car (hence the “FC” part of the name)


  • Scion C-HR concept Scion seems to be trying to “out Nissan” Nissan. The only way to describe this that came to mind is a Nissan Juke on an acid trip.


  • Toyota FCV Plus is just weird



  • BMW M2 is the car we’ve all been waiting for! As other BMWs have become bloated monsters that are the antithesis of The Ultimate Driving Machine, the 2 has been a breath of fresh air from Munich. Comes with a 3.0L I6 engine with 362 horsepower and 343 torques. 0-60 flies by in 4.1 seconds. Starts at $51,700. Get in line…behind me!

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  • Nissan IDS Concept


  • TITAN Warrior Concept (apparently, you have to capitalize TITAN) this is an off-road performance version of the new TITAN


  • Infiniti Q60 is a great-looking sports coupe that comes with either a 2.0L turbo or a 3.0L turbo



  • 2017 Honda Ridgeline on sale this spring, it’s a Honda Pilot with a bed, shares platform with Pilot/Odyssey, 6-speed, front or AWD, cargo under rear seat, an audio system in the bed that works, not with speakers that can be easily damaged by the elements or by cargo, but with an advanced system that makes sound by exciting the bedliner material. There’s cargo under the pickup bed, but it’s at the expense of the depth of the cargo area (see photo below). Speaking of the pickup bed, the tailgate opens both ways (“country AND western…”). It opens down, like other pickups, and from the side, to give better access to what’s in the bed (see photos). All that said, this is a WAY better-looking truck than the last Ridgeline.

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  • Acura Precision concept: Acura says the car is going to shape the direction of all future Acuras and that the design language will transfer to smaller cars such as the ILX. It’s quite to looker. Acura will do itself good by using this look on future models.

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  • 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class goes on sale this summer. It’s been redesigned and now includes a standard 4 cylinder engine for the first time. It has less horsepower, with 241 hp (and 273 torques), but is also lighter. Further model variants will be added after launch.
  • Mercedes-AMG SLC this is the newest sports car from Mercedes. It’s a freshened and renamed SLK. The base version comes with a 2.0L turbo four-cylinder engine with 241 hp. The AMG version comes with a 3.0-liter, V-6 engine with 362 hp.


  • Mercedes-AMG S63 4MATIC Cabriolet “Edition 130” (World Debut): celebrates the 130 years since Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler invented the automobile. Special paint, cabrio top color, special leather, badges, a car cover, and key ring. Only 130 will be made.


  • Genesis brand Hyundai is taking its 2 most expensive cars, Genesis and Equus, and putting them into a new luxury brand called Genesis. Also giving the 2 cars new names.
  • Genesis G90 is the car formerly known as the Hyundai Equus
  • Genesis G80 is the old Hyundai Genesis
  • Kia Telluride Concept Kia says this is purely a concept, but these things are typically more than that, even if they’re not. It’s almost the same size as a Ford Explorer, which is not likely a coincidence.

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  • VW Tiguan GTE Active Concept previews the design of the long-wheelbase Tiguan arriving in the US in 2017 (no word on whether a Diesel will be available). Its headlights, grille, hood, front fenders and rear taillights will all appear on the U.S. Tiguan. The concept has bigger wheels and off-road tires, additional ground clearance, tougher body panels and VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system (and a goofy panel on the roof). The new concept is based on the five-passenger Tiguan that recently went on sale in Europe, while U.S. models will get an extra 3.5 inches of wheelbase.

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  • Audi h-tron quattro concept



  • VLF Automotive Force 1 V10: take a Dodge Viper, give it a carbon fiber body, add dozens of ducts and vents, and a luxurious interior. That’s the Force 1. The combination of Henrik Fisker and Bob Lutz is all you really need to know about this…except the 8.4-liter V10 engine with 745 horsepower. Price starts at $268,500. The Force 1 has 21-inch wheels and super-thin slit-like headlights. The car can reach a top speed of 218 mph and can go from 0-60 mph in 3 seconds. Wow – if that can’t put a smile on your face, check your pulse. You might not have one.


  • Volvo XC90 and S90 These 2 cars are simply gorgeous inside and out. XC90 won North American Truck of the Year. I group them together because they seem to share the same interior and some exterior elements, including the portrait-oriented touchscreen shown below. Wood is employed very judiciously and it’s beautiful. Not with many layers of polish; it appears to be raw wood. You can feel the grain as you rub your hand across it, which you WILL do. It’s impossible to not do it. The interior has a wow factor that no other car I can think of has.


  • Mazda CX-9 is the one actually large vehicle from Mazda. They’ve incorporated their SkyActiv system on this large crossover, making it light and responsive (for a big crossover, that is).


  • Falcon F7 is a sports car made in Holly, Michigan powered by a mid-mounted GM 7.0-liter LS7 V-8 modified to 620 hp and 600 torques. A new Falcon F7 costs approximately $295,000 for the standard 620hp model and $395,000 for the twin-turbo 1100hp (yes, eleven-hundred horsepower) version.



The 2016 Slandy Awards®

Slandy Best in Show Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

SBIS Honorable Mention Honda Civic, Acura Precision concept, Chevrolet Cruze Hatch, Chrysler Pacifica, Lexus LC500, VLF Force 1 V10, Volvo  XC90

WATT BMW once again has no manuals on display. As said in this space before, “WATT?” I know that modern dual-clutch transmissions can be faster than a conventional manual, but I guess they don’t want to be “The Ultimate Driving Machine” anymore. Save the Manuals!

Display Most True to Its Home Market Volvo’s display easily is the most distinctive, but for an unexpected reason. In a space in which other brands would cram 8-10 cars, Volvo has…3. The space is open and airy, with an attractive wood floor. It just seems so…Swedish. Perfect.


Only in Detroit Award Only in Detroit will you find more people examining the underbody display of the new Lexus LC500…


than you will checking out the actual car!


Full disclosure: these were taken during “Industry Preview” when all the engineers from the auto companies and their suppliers come in and measure everything.

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Nissan began the advertising of its new Titan XD pickup last night during the college football National Championship game with an ad called “Shoulders of Giants”. It was a Super Bowl-like image ad, very much in the way of the recent Super Bowl ads from Fiat Chrysler. This is no coincidence, as Nissan’s Fred Diaz, Nissan’s sales VP until recently (now in charge of trucks and commercial vehicles), was the head of Fiat Chrysler’s Ram Truck brand before moving to Nissan a few years ago.

The ad (click below to watch), elicits images of heroes from firefighters to astronauts to moms and dads – the giants on whose shoulders we stand to reach new heights. Nissan draws a parallel from these heroes to the giants of the pickup market, “Chevy…Ford…Dodge”. Of course, the ad shows very old models of each brand that it is honoring. It would never show their latest models, partially because the styling of the new Titan has been criticized as a weird hybrid of styling of those 3 competitors (the “Nissan F-Ramverado”).

To me, the most interesting part of the ad is in one particular choice of wording. According to Nissan’s Diaz, “We ached and pained over every word, comma, and pause in this ad because we didn’t want our competitors looking at it and thinking we’re trying to give them a backhanded compliment. That’s not the case. We’re not doing this to be shallow. Our thank-you is sincere.” Maybe, but Diaz was instrumental in the rebranding of Dodge trucks into Ram Trucks several years ago. It is beyond belief that referring to his former employer’s truck brand by its old name was a mistake or an oversight. I’m sure some Nissan PR person would tell you that using Dodge vs. Ram was meant to refer to the history of the trucks, but I think it was the subtlest of digs at his friends in Auburn Hills.

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2015 Detroit Auto Show

18th January 2015

Welcome to the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, where we once again have a mayor who’s actually in charge (it’s the little things…). Here’s a rundown of the major introductions and other cars & trucks to make sure you don’t miss.


2016 Volt: 50 miles on a charge, up from 38. New styling inside and out. Looks great, but also like a Honda Civic.

Bolt Concept: pure electric concept car. Said to have range of 200 miles and a price of under $30K. Since when do concepts have a price? That’s just stupid. To imagine what it looks like, imagine the offspring of a Chevy Sonic (for size), any random Honda (for styling) and a Ram ProMaster (for headlight placement). Now that’s a 3-way!


Cascada: a premium 4-passenger convertible, which Buick obviously stole from Opel (just look at the grille), the Cascada is powered (if you can call it that) by a 1.6L turbo with 200HP. Speaking of 3-ways, this one gets VW’s lamps/front end, the Opel grille and the overall look and backend of a Chrysler Sebring/200.

Avenir: this is a stunner. It borrows a little from the Porsche Panamera in the rear, but mostly it’s a clean-sheet styling exercise that really works. It’s a big 2+2 configuration with beautiful lines. I hope that build it.


2016 Titan: all-new pickup. The current Titan has never caught on in the US, at least partly due to the lack of customization options which pickup buyers want. Nissan addresses this with 3 available engines (including its first V6 and a 5.0L V8 Cummins Diesel option), the 3 normal cab configurations (regular, extended, crew) and 3 bed lengths (5.5 feet, 6.5 feet and 8 feet). It will be the largest Diesel in a light-duty truck. Nissan claims the Titan XD bridges a gap between light-duty pickups and heavy-duty pickups. XD means “eXtra Duty” and includes a beefed up frame and suspension. It will be available with the Diesel or V8 gas engine. The base Titan will be available with either gas engine. The new Titan certainly looks the part. Time will tell if US buyers will take the bait. On sale late 2015.

Alfa Romeo

4C Spider: the topless version of the 4C. Stunning good looks, great power. Like a “cheap” Ferrari. If by cheap you mean $70K (Slandy estimate). Has a turbo 1.75L engine with 237HP. Doesn’t sound like much until you realize that those horsies are only pushing around less than 2500 lbs. Sweet!


GT: the return of the iconic sports car from last decade. This new iteration is dramatically more extroverted. Powered by a V6 EcoBoost engine making more than 600HP. Extensive use of lightweight materials, including carbon fiber, will give the GT “one of the best power-to-weight ratios of any production car.” Goes into production in 2016…we have to wait a year for this? Ford, you’re such a tease. Optional equipment will include drool cups and bibs.

Mustang Shelby GT350R: the most track-ready Mustang ever. A new 5.2L V8 with a flat-plane crankshaft, which allows the engine the breathe better at high speeds, produces “more than 500HP” making it the most powerful naturally-aspirated production engine ever from Ford. To go with the track intentions, it has aggressive aerodynamics and liberal use of carbon fiber. To further reduce weight, Ford removed the air conditioner, stereo, rear seats, among others. This is a serious track package, not a Hertz special.

2017 F-150 SVT Raptor: the off-road special adopts the new aluminum body of the regular F-150, drops the 6.2L V8 for a 3.5L EcoBoost and picks up a 10-speed transmission (you read that right). This is 1 badass truck! Not on sale until Fall, 2016. L

Edge: not yet available, but already introduced. The new Edge borrows some styling from the Fusion and has a new powertrain lineup. It has a new 2.0L EcoBoost (not to be confused with the old 2.0L EcoBoost), a 3.5L V6 which carries over from the current Edge and a new 2.7L V6 EcoBoost, which it shares with the F-150 and Lincoln MKX.


F 015 Research Vehicle: really pushes the styling envelope. As its name implies, this vehicle is not intended for sale. It is meant to explore autonomous driving, and Mercedes-Benz’s vision of autonomous driving is more than merely transport. It’s a mobile living space, and that’s reflected in the dramatically radical interior. Check it out. It’s not like anything you’ve seen before.

GLE-class: this new model will replace the M-Class in Mercedes’ lineup. It’s the same body type as the BMW X6, Toyota Venza and the Honda Crosstour. In other words, I hate it. This body-style can trace its roots to the much-maligned Pontiac Aztec (may it rest in peace). It’s not quite a car, not quite an SUV. It’s a shape in search of a segment, and it failed.


Cross Coupe GTE Concept: though a “concept” this is a preview of the new 3-row crossover that is in VW’s near future. It’s quite good looking, in that typical VW way. Looks solid, tight. Not overly expressive, nor bland. It walks the line in the middle. Nobody will be offended or bored by it. The overall shape and the rear (tail lamps in particular) seem to be channeling the Jeep Grand Cherokee a bit. OK, maybe a lot.


New 2016 6-series (coupe, convertible, Gran Coupe): a mild facelift for the 3 flavors of the BMW 6. It was already a great-looking car, so they got out the comb, Fonzie-style, and decided that they already looked so good – why bother changing anything?


911 Targa GTS: the Targa introduced last year, with more power. Because they can, that’s why.

Cayenne Turbo S: ditto


NSX: it’s finally here (yawn). Acura has teased us so much over the past decade that the actual intro doesn’t seem so exciting (Ed: it’s only been 4 years. Really? Seems longer.). And that’s a shame, because this is a really cool car, with great styling and great power. Also working against it is the unfortunate timing of the intro: 2½ hours AFTER Ford introduced its GT. Oops. Somebody got their thunder stolen.


2016 Q7: Audi’s flagship SUV gets a total makeover. More wagon-like stance and revised front end, and with an aluminum-intensive structure, Audi claims the Q7 has lost over 700 pounds. This will translate into improved fuel econ and better performance. Powering the Q7 are 2 3.0L engines: a supercharged gas V6 (333HP) and a turbo Diesel V6 (272HP). Later, the Q7 will add a plug-in Diesel hybrid (373HP), which Audi claims will achieve 138MPG and go 38 miles on a charge. The Q7 was also awarded “Best Designed Interior” by EyesOn Design at the show.

Q3: is finally coming to the US market, refreshed and ready to go. In this market, it will only include the 2.0L gas engine. Like all Audis, this is a really good-looking car. Front wheel drive is standard, but Quattro is optional, of course. Prices start at $32,500.


2016 Tacoma: all new truck, but you wouldn’t really know it by looking at it. The engines include a 4 cyl and a V6. The 3.5L V6 has both direct and port injection, which is rare. The V6 can also be had with either a 6-speed manual (yeah!) or 6-speed auto. Has a really nice interior. New for 2016 is a TRD off-road version.

Mirai: this is a fuel cell vehicle, coming late this year. If you don’t know what a fuel cell is, you’re not alone. Most people don’t. It’s an electric car, but the electricity is not stored in a battery, like electrics you can buy today. It uses hydrogen gas and air to generate the electricity. The only exhaust is water. Many automakers are working on these. Mirai price is $57,500, but you’ll be able to lease it for $499/month with $3649 down – but only in California to California residents who live near a hydrogen fueling station. So, like 3 people. It has 153 HP/247 torques, gets up to 300 miles on a fill. It only takes 5 minutes to fill with hydrogen (take THAT Nissan Leaf & Tesla). Also qualifies for the HOV lanes in California and is zero emission. So, how does it look? Maybe a little quirky, but pretty nice.


John Cooper Works: the most extroverted of the MINI family of extroverts is back. I love the idea and the powertrain is hot, but the styling is something only a 15 year old could love.

Superleggera: this concept is striking in its combination of the MINI personality with an Italian roadster. The Union Jack tail lamps are a great touch.


The SUV has a name, and it is…Bentayga. “Fastest, most luxurious, most exclusive SUV in the world. In other words, it’s going to be the Bentley of SUVs.” On sale in 2016. Get your home equity line of credit pre-approval now! Oh, and it’s not at the show. The name was all there was.


Santa Cruz Concept truck: an interesting concept, it’s a unibody pickup truck. Think Subaru Brat or (for you old-timers) Chevy El Camino.

Sonata plug-in hybrid: 22 electric miles, combined 93 MPG. Nothing new to look at though.


S60 Inscription: the Inscription is an upscale version of the S60 sedan with premium materials and increased rear seat legroom (Volvo claims best-in-class legroom).

S60 Cross Country: Volvo brings its Cross Country capability and stance to the S60 sedan. Volvo says it’s the sole contender in the luxury crossover sedan segment. I guess if you can’t compete in your segment, make up a new one.

Local Motors

3D printed car: you totally have to check out the car being “printed”. It’s really cool.


Q60 Coupe concept: explores where the Q60 coupe could go in the future, giving it a sleeker, more menacing look. Very nice – if they actually make it.


GS F: not to be confused with the GS F-Sport, this is a true sport edition of the GS. 5.0L V8 with 467HP (but only 389 torques), this GS certainly looks the part. Its looks, however, are spoiled by an overly dramatic version of Lexus’ spindle grille. On other cars, it’s not quite so bad, but on this (and the RC F as well), it’s fugly. Being bold, dramatic and different is sometimes good, but not always.


Ram Rebel: this is Ram’s answer to Ford’s Raptor. Bold, expressive styling; big, meaty tires; increased ride height (thanks to the air suspension already optional on the Ram 1500); and unique interior accents (including Rebel stitching on the seats, red accents throughout the interior and a tire-tread pattern on the front seats). Like the Raptor, this is one badass truck!


CTS-V: supercharged 6.2L V8 making 640HP/630 torques, top speed of 200MPH, 0-60 in 3.7 seconds. Really, what else is there to say? MPG? If you have to ask, this car isn’t for you. The negative is that the only tranny is an 8-speed auto. On sale late summer.

ATS-V: already introduced in LA last fall, the ATS-V makes its first appearance in Detroit. Take the already superb ATS chassis and add a 3.6L twin-turbo V6 (455HP/445 torques), you get a 0-60 time in 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 185+ MPH. You can have either the 6-speed manual with Active Rev Match, no-lift shifting and launch control or an 8-speed auto with paddle shift, launch control and Performance Algorithm Shift (whatever that means). Pricing isn’t available yet, but you’ll have to get behind me to buy it anyway.


MKX: this is a gorgeous car, make no mistake. That said, it looks WAY too much like the smaller, recently introduced MKC. Under the hood, things get different. The standard engine is the 3.7L V6. No change there. The optional engine is a 2.7L twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 (330+HP/ 370+torques). It also has 2 new Black Label editions to really dress things up and Ford’s new adaptive steering system, which changes the steering ratio depending on speed. On sale this fall.


HR-V: already introduced in L.A., the HR-V enters the growing compact SUV market. Like the NSX, the HR-V has been shown several times in various concept forms. This time, it’s for real. Power comes from a 1.8L engine with 138HP and 127 torques. Comes with either a CVT or a 6-speed manual (2WD models only for the stick). Nice-looking and exactly what you might expect from Honda in this segment.

The 2015 Slandy Awards®

Slandy Best in Show: Ford GT (duh)

SBIS Honorable Mention: Jaguar F-Type (not new, but now with 50% more pedals!), Cadillac CTS-V, Toyota Mirai, Mazda Miata, Buick Avenir

WATT*: Acura NSX announcement. They teased us for YEARS, only to lose the spotlight completely to the Ford GT.

Best feature you never heard of: instead of detents to stop the car door at certain spots, the BMW 750 has hydraulic door actuators that replace the normal part with the detents. The hydraulic part allows the door to stop in its tracks at any point along the travel of the door. This is especially useful when you have limited space, and the next detent will cause your door to hit something (a wall or another car). It may sound trivial, but this is a very impressive piece of engineering. I’ve never seen this on another vehicle (though maybe somebody else has it). I’m very impressed.

Brand Identity Crisis: Bentley. It occurred to me as I was sitting in the purple Continental GT Speed that this brand thinks of itself as a mix/combination of Rolls Royce and MINI. It really wants to be taken seriously as a high-end luxury brand, but then it wants to be a “fun” brand. I think they’re making it work, but it’s slightly schizophrenic.

*In case you’ve never read The Slandy Report and you’re not familiar with this award – what the heck is wrong with you? Read The Slandy Report! It’s awesome! Anyway, WATT is the What Are They Thinking award.

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2014 Detroit Auto Show

18th January 2014

{cue the Sanford & Son theme song} Welcome to Detroit, where everything is for sale! Belle Isle…already sold to the state! Priceless art at the Detroit Institute of Arts…make an offer! You want a building downtown? Sorry, they’ve all been sold to Dan Gilbert! Oh, you want a car? Well, we’ve got those too! Thousands of them, just waiting to be adopted by a nice family…or you. Read on for the bios of the best of these lovely children just looking for a good home (or yours).

2015 F-150: new look with LED lamps, bold new grille. New engine 2.7L EcoBoost with start/stop. HP and torque are TBD officially, but expect about 325 horsepower and 350 torques. New features: 360-degree camera view, Integrated loading ramps, Remote tailgate, 8-inch LCD “productivity screen”, inflatable seatbelts for rear passengers, curve control, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping and blind spot warning. A first in the segment, F-150 will now have an aluminum body. Seeking to cutoff criticism of aluminum at the knees, Ford calls it “High-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloys – already used in aerospace, commercial transportation, energy and many other rugged industries”

2015 Mustang: first in-person look at the new Pony car, revealed late last year. The new ‘stang is instantly recognizable as a Mustang, but it’s all new at the same time. This is exactly what Ford needed to do with an icon like Mustang. The design is no longer retro, except for some of the switches inside. The 3.7L V6 and the 5.0L V8 carry on and are now joined by a 2.3L EcoBoost making over 300HP and 300 torques.

Ford Edge Concept: previewing the next-generation Edge, this crossover is larger than the current model, and really nice looking. It’s full of advanced technology, but who knows how much of it will make it to production?

2015 Lincoln MKC: we saw the concept last year. Now it’s time for the real deal. Maybe not quite as striking as the concept (but then when are any cars?), the MKC is still quite the looker. Available this summer.

Transit Connect: this homely commercial van is homely no longer. It’s actually downright beautiful compared to its predecessor. It’s also more powerful. Also new for 2014 is a passenger version. Ford is back in the minivan segment.

FT-1 Concept: this concept’s “audacious” styling is very aggressive and a far cry from Toyota’s usual offerings. It is, however, a concept. While no specs are given, other than “front engine, rear drive”, if you squint, the shape evokes the Scion FR-S. Did the FT-1 start out like as the Scion? Not sure, but it certainly looks like it might have. Either way, it’s very cool and worth a look.

2015 Lexus RC F: high-performance version of the RC Coupe, already shown at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show late last year. The base RC, a rear-drive 4-passenger coupe, is based on the GS platform, and will come with either a 3.5L V6 (RC 350) or a 2.5L Hybrid powertrain (RC 300h). The “F” ups the ante with a 5.0L 32-valve V8, making “more than 450” hp and “more than 383” torques. Its styling is also amped up, giving it a much more aggressive look than its tamer sibling.

Toyota FCV Concept: really cool looking car, and it runs on hydrogen. Don’t look for it at a dealer anytime soon, as fuel cells are still a ways off from being commercially viable. The research continues though, and it’s nice to look at.

Chrysler 200: redesigned inside and out. LED lamps (especially in the back) give the new 200 an Audi-esque look, and that’s a good thing. This is quite an upgrade from the present 200. Better in every way. Looks great inside and out. It has carryover engines, though now matched with a segment-first 9-speed tranny. The dirty parts are derived from the same place as the Dodge Dart. If you know what to look for, the 200 shares some styling / parts with the Dart. AWD is a new addition, and it completely disconnects from the rear wheels when not in use to save gas. Strange that in the unveiling, Chrysler brand CEO Al Gardner called the 200 Chrysler’s flagship. Don’t tell the 300. It might get angry, and you wouldn’t like it when it’s angry.

Corvette Z06: menacing new looks with improved aerodynamics and “unprecedented” downforce, supercharged 6.2L V8, with 625 horsepower and 635 torques. Automatic tranny will be available, meaning that the 3-pedal-challenged among you can attain stupid speeds and risk your lives too. Three cheers for equality!

2015 GMC Canyon: the GMC twin of the Chevy Colorado already seen. Looks like a Sierra that shrunk in the wash. Available in extended cab and crew cab, 2 box lengths and 2 engines (2.5L I4 and 3.6L V6) at launch. A 2.8L Diesel engine will be available for 2016.

2015 ATS Coupe: looks pretty much exactly as you would expect, which is very good. The 2.5L I4 base engine from the sedan is not available with the coupe, making the excellent 2.0L Turbo (272HP / 295 torques) the base engine. The 3.6L V6 (321 / 275) is optional. A true, 3-pedal manual is available, but only with the turbo. The truly big news here is that the 2015 ATS Coupe will be the first appearance of Cadillac’s new…wait for it…badge! Honestly, if you make that big of a deal about a badge, you need more to do. And frankly, we don’t need no stinking badges.

2015 C-Class: redesigned for 2015, the C moves up in size and price to make sure the CLA (See below) has room to maneuver. The C300 sports a 235 HP, 273-torques 2.0-liter turbo. The C400 has a 329 HP, 354-torques 3.0-liter turbo. AWD will be standard, though RWD is expected later. Much better looking inside and out. Production moves to the U.S. for this new model.

S-Class Coupe: why an S-Class Coupe? Why not? Mercedes, like its friends at BMW and Audi, continues to explore and fill niches that we never knew existed (and neither did they).

CLA: see niche comment above. New smaller sedan, starting at $30,000. Inexpensive is not the problem. The problem is that the CLA looks and feels cheap. That might fly in Europe, where M-B product spans a much wider range. Here in the U.S., they are taking a big risk with this product. The AMG model is way better and nicer.

GLA: see niche comment above. This is a small crossover version of the CLA. Only the AMG version is shown.

2015 Genesis: engines are the same, but that’s about all. The new Genesis moves up in styling and luxury, gets a new ZF 8-Speed tranny and AWD is now available.

Kia GT4 Stinger Concept: very stylish 2+2 coupe. The general shape seems to be channeling the Jaguar E-Type. Powered by a 2L turbo with 315HP.

Kia K900: Kia’s first entry in the large premium segment, following cousin Hyundai Equus. The K900 will be available early next year.

Kia Soul: minor update to the best-selling subcompact. Already on sale.

2015 Fit: fairly major freshening. It’s smaller on the outside and roomier on the inside. More power and better fuel economy (estimated to be 33 city / 41 city). Goes into production next month at a new plant in Mexico, marking the first time the Fit will be made in North America.

2015 Acura TLX: TLX replaces the TL and TSX in Acura’s lineup, and it goes on sale mid year. The TLX is a nice-looking car, despite retaining the ugly, guillotine grille that all Acuras have had for the last few years. 2 powertrains will be offered: a 2.4L I4 with an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission and Precision All-Wheel Steer™ (P-AWS) or a 3.5L V6 with a 9-speed auto and either P-AWS or Super-Handling All Wheel Drive™ (SH-AWD™). I feel like a broken record, but Acura really needs to fire Wylie Coyote from their marketing department.

Sport Sedan Concept: really cool looking car, stupid name. Maybe Nissan can hire Wylie Coyote? Though it looks more like Volvo’s current design language, this car is beautiful and Nissan says they expect to build it. Maybe the next-gen Maxima or Altima?

Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge Concept: a high performance version of the new Q50 sedan. I’ve never heard words like this used for a car introduction, “If we built this car I would expect it to feature over 500hp and 600 lb-ft torque.” Anyway, it looks great, but maybe Infiniti needs to hire Wylie Coyote too? He likely would have consulted before deciding on the name.

Infiniti Q30 Concept: already shown in LA, the Q30 shows where Infiniti is headed next – into the compact luxury utility segment, along with…well…everybody.

M3 & M4: the new M is here…the new M is here!! 425 HP/406 torques, 3.0L twin-turbo I6, 0-60 in 3.9 seconds. What’s not to love?

2-Series: continues BMW’s new model designations, which move the coupes and convertibles to even numbers and leaves the sedans as odd numbers. The 2-Series is larger than the 1-Series coupe it replaces, and will offered as a 228i ($33,025 base price) and M235i ($44,025). On sale any minute now.

2014 Mini Cooper: the Mini Hardtop is new inside and out (but you wouldn’t notice it unless you really know what to look for). The base model now comes with a turbo 3-cylinder engine that makes more HP than the prior 4-cylinder engine (134 vs. 121). The Cooper S engine is bumped up from 1.6L to 2.0L, increasing power to 189 from 181. Mini expects 25% improvement in fuel economy from the base, which would make its combined number 36-37. Fuel economy on the Cooper S is TBD, but considering its displacement increase only results in 8 HP and a LOSS of 33 torques, fuel econ should be going up significantly as well.

Audi A8/S8: mild freshening of Audi’s flagship sedan. Revised front and rear design, new technology and more horsepower for the 4.0L V8 (435 from 420). On sale this summer.

Audi allroad shooting brake Concept: a look at the upcoming 2015 TT? This looks like the offspring of an Audi TT and a Volvo C30 coupe, and foreshadows the design of the new TT, though the TT will not be a shooting brake/crossover/electric. Take the front design and the rear design and give it the old TT’s middle, and there you have the new TT. Capisce?

2015 Audi A3/S3: already shown in LA, the new A3 family includes the A3 sedan, S3 sedan, A3 cabriolet and A3 Sportback e-tron® gasoline electric plug-in hybrid. The A3 looks very much like a small, premium sedan – inside and out. Engines include 1.8L turbo, 2.0L turbo, 2.0L Diesel, 1.4L Turbo with the plug-in and a high output 2.0L turbo on the S3. Sales begin in the spring.

Porsche 911 Targa: just like legendary 911 Targa of yore, the new models feature the distinctive Targa roof bar, a movable front roof section, and a wraparound rear window. But unlike those classics, the roof segment can be opened and closed at the push of a button. The fully automatic roof system stows the Targa top behind the rear seats. Cool, yes? The Targa will be offered only as AWD models: Targa 4 and Targa 4S. The 911 Targa 4 will have an MSRP of $101,600, while the 911 Targa 4S model will have an MSRP of $116,200.

Porsche Macan: introduced at the LA Auto Show in November, the Macan is the “mini-me” to the Cayenne SUV. The Macan S comes with a 3.0L twin turbo V6, making 340HP / 339 torques and a 7-speed PDK transmission. 0-60 is achieved in 5.2 seconds. It has a base price of $49,900. The Macan Turbo has a 3.6L twin turbo with the same tranny. It makes 400 / 406, goes to 60 in 4.4 seconds and costs $72,300. While these stats are certainly awesome, and Porsche is likely to sell many of these, at what point does Porsche go too far with its product line breadth? When will customers forget what “Porsche” means and why it is so desirable? In other words, when will Porsche cease being Porsche? I’m not smart enough to know the answers to these questions. I just hope that Porsche management is asking them.

Mazda3: introduced last summer and already on sale, the Mazda3 goes all SKYACTIV on us. It has SKYACTIV manufacturing, SKYACTIV engines and SKYACTIV transmissions. I’ve said it before, SKYACTIV might be the greatest thing since sliced roast beef, but it means nothing to customers. It’s just a word (sort of) that only confuses. Just give us the performance and fuel economy and leave it at that. All that said, the new 3 is a really nice car: it has great looks (like a smaller CX-5), performance and economy.

2015 Subaru WRX STI: the hot car from Subaru gets an update to a new platform, which promises even better handling for its 305HP. AWD helps too.

Volvo XC Coupe Concept: winner of the Eyes on Design award for best concept car, the XC looks a bit like a stretched C30 coupe, but with a radically different front end.

Jaguar C-X17: Jaguar keeps threatening to make a SUV or crossover, and now maybe they will. The C-X17 (great name, BTW) bears more than a passing resemblance to the Land Rover Evoque. This is not likely a coincidence, as they are part of the same company. Damn gorgeous though!

Jaguar F-Type Coupe: hardtop version of the beautiful F-Type. Already shown in Tokyo and LA, the coupe shares all of its mechanicals with its topless friend.

The 2014 Slandy Awards®

Slandy Best in Show: Corvette Stingray Z06
SBIS Honorable Mention: F-150, Mustang, Chrysler 200, Hyundai genesis, Nissan Sport Sedan Concept, BMW M3/M4, Jaguar C-X17
WATT: Mercedes-Benz CLA. Inexpensive is fine; cheap is not.
Bet the Farm: Ford F-150. The F-150 pays all the bills in Dearborn, so any large change better be right.
Oops!: CLA (see above)
Uh-Oh!: Kia K900. Kia enters yet another new segment, causing executives on several continents to up their dose of Mylanta.
Most Annoying Trend: the touchy-feely, pointless naming on some brands/cars. These are internal initiatives for these companies. They are not the type of thing that should be branded on the cars. Some MBAs needed more to do. These include the following, along with the companies’ own definitions of these initiatives in parenthesis:
• Mazda’s “SKYACTIV Technology” (SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY is a blanket term for Mazda’s innovative new-generation technologies that are being developed under the company’s long-term vision for technology development, Sustainable Zoom-Zoom. The SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY name is intended to reflect Mazda’s desire to provide driving pleasure as well as outstanding environmental and safety performance in its vehicles. To achieve this goal, Mazda has implemented an internal Building Block Strategy to be completed by 2015. This ambitious strategy involves the comprehensive optimization of Mazda’s base technologies, which determine the core performance of its vehicles, and the progressive introduction of electric devices such as regenerative braking and a hybrid system. All the technologies that are developed based on the Building Block Strategy will fall under the SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY umbrella)
• Honda’s “Earth Dreams Technology” (“Earth Dreams Technology” is a next generation set of technological advancements which greatly enhance both driving performance and fuel efficiency at a high level, using as its base advanced environmental technologies to pursue the joy of driving unique to Honda. It is a series of measures in which efficiency of internal combustion components including engine, and transmission, as well as electric-powered motor technology, is further improved)
• Nissan’s “Pure Drive” (“PURE DRIVE” is our action to improve fuel economy of engine-powered vehicles. A combination of advanced technology measures are prepared, from the comprehensive energy loss reduction from within the power train, the reduction of needless energy usage through idling stop, to the recovering of the wasted energy using hybrid vehicles. All of this advanced technology is being prepared in order to provide all our customers with good fuel economy vehicles)

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