The Ford Focus is the top-selling nameplate in the world, says Ford; therefore, other automakers should fall in line and emulate the product because of untold riches and bragging rights â€” right? If this is your line of thinking, immediately head on down to your neighborhood Ford dealer, where the 2015 Focus has been on sale since late last year. But Toyota declares its direct competitor, Corolla, is also the best-selling nameplate in the world. So depending on whose bookkeeping you believe, you might have to stop by the Toyota store after seeing the Ford show floor.Toyota taking entirely different cuts at the compact car. The Focus’ handling prowess is flaunted, embraced, and long considered a major part of the nameplate’s equity. Then, of course, Ford sought to improve the 2015 model’s road feel. The electric power steering software was revised — the 14.7:1 ratio and 2.6 turns lock-to-lock carry over from 2014 — so your hands’ … [Read more...] about 2015 Ford Focus First Drive
Car shakes when driving
With the notable exception of Dan Neil's work at the LA Times, the vast majority of newspaper car reviews are written to fill the spaces between automotive advertisements while sucking-up to the dealers and manufacturers who provide the ad revenue. When I caught sight of Tom Keane's take on the new Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid in the San Francisco Chronicle, I decided to see if the paper that fired TTAC's founder for his infamous Subaru Tribeca B9 "flying vagina" review had any teeth left in its automotive editorial coverage. In a word, no.Keane didn't just imbibe the GM Kool-Aid, he cut-and-pasted it. The scribe went straight for the official press release to "explain the design" as having "a strong stance and bold proportions" and "a visually lower, yet longer, greenhouse and shorter deck [to] suggest motion and agility." It features an "aggressive, stable stance and rear-profile with Corvette cues that connects to Chevrolet's rich performance heritage."Hey, at least Keane admitted the … [Read more...] about The Truth About Newspaper Car Reviews
An affordable sports car almost sounds like an oxymoron, like fast traffic or entry-level luxury. Behind those zero-to-60-mph time and skidpad ratings, there’s an equally body-shaking reversal that takes place over just a few years: the cost to buy that same sports car. In some cases, the market value of a no-holds-barred daily driver can decline almost 80 percent in just four years. I always tell folks that speed can be hazardous to your health and your wealth. But sometimes that’s not quite true. When the smoke clears, and the depreciation curve flattens out to a slow-dipping straightaway, that’s when you can aim straight for what I call the sports-car sweet spot.It’s an amazing period, between the time a car sells new and when its second owner takes over, when the operating cost declines to just nickels and dimes. Depreciation is not unique to sports cars. A new-in-the-wrapper Audi A8L cost about $84,000 in 2011. That didn’t include all the options … [Read more...] about On Depreciation: Where’s Your Sports-Car Sweet Spot?
Our intention this month was to run a feature called "How to Conduct a Super-Boffo 30-Minute Road Test That Doesn't Frighten the Salesman into Having You Arrested." Thirty minutes, we figured, was probably the max that a new-car dealer would allow. But first we needed to know if that premise was correct. So we interviewed a dozen salesmen and general managers to find out what the current test-drive rules are. We'll discuss later what to do when you're finally behind the wheel. For now, the trick is getting your butt into the car in the first place. It's not as easy as we thought. The first thing you should know is that test-drive rules are unique to each dealership. We visited a Volvo store where a salesman said, "If I believe you're a serious customer, I'll let you take a car home for a night with unlimited miles." Then we visited a Honda dealership where the general manager said, "Our test drives are restricted to less than five miles, with the salesman driving half … [Read more...] about How to Get That New-Car Test Drive
If you were to stroll through the Mazda 3 assembly plant in Hofu, Japan, it wouldn’t be unusual to find a bamboo-and-paper shoji door in an engineer’s locker. “It opens and slides without much effort,” explains Hirotaka Takaya, doors development engineer. Nor should you be surprised to find a drawing of the anatomy of a human arm. “We determined which muscles are used to operate [the shift lever],” explains Takao Kijima, former MX-5 Miata program manager, “to balance the amount of strength needed.” Kijima further suggests, “When the car and driver are in harmony, driving is fun.” “Harmony,” as it happens, is not a bad descriptor for the Mazda 3. In this car, no single element overwhelms its essential character. It feels substantial, yet quick-witted. Its subassemblies all shake each others’ hands. It responds to fingertip control. It is a car that assists its pilot in smooth driving. Assembly … [Read more...] about 2016 10Best Cars: Mazda 3
It’s just a car. That’s what I keep telling myself. It’s my first car. A 1997 Mazda Miata. British Racing Green with tan leather. A rip in one of the seats. Torsen LSD, Bilstein coilovers, a roll bar. Needs a new 02 sensor. Otherwise in great condition. In the last year, it’s needed a new alternator, new brakes. Body is good, paint is only so-so. Someone made me an offer I’d be stupid to refuse. I am usually responsible with my finances. No debt to my name. Rarely carry a balance on my credit card. Roughly a quarter of each paycheque goes into a dedicated savings account. I’d be an idiot not to sell it. My self-control is failing me. It’s just a car.That money, plus the money I’ve set aside in savings from my meager auto journalists salary will give me enough for a down payment on a home of my own. No more renting. A chance to get in to Toronto’s booming real estate market before I get priced out by foreign investors buying … [Read more...] about It’s Not Just A Car – It’s My First Car
Near the end of their racing careers, a Ford and a Chevrolet made a pact. The first one to reach racing heaven would let the other know if heaven even had car racing. As luck would have it, the Chevrolet was demolished in a fiery wreck. A few days later, it revealed itself to the Ford in a vision. "I have some good news and some bad news," the Chevy told the Ford. "The good news is that heaven is crazy about auto racing. They have everything here--NASCAR, Indy cars, Formula 1, you name it." "So what's the bad news?" the Ford asked the deceased Chevrolet. "The bad news is that you've won the pole position for next Saturday's race." A motorist runs a red light and is photographed by an automated police camera. In the mail a short time later, he receives a photo of his car committing the infraction and a citation for $60. Instead of paying the fine, the motorist mails the police department a photograph of three 20-dollar bills. Several days later, he gets a … [Read more...] about 2000 10Best Car Jokes
It doesn’t matter how young or old you are—if you frequent this space, it’s more probable than not that bizarre and highly technical Lego projects get you excited. Considering the bulk of C/D’s staff consists of man-children of questionable maturity, you can bet that we almost fell over ourselves with giddiness when we saw this ridiculously awesome life-size Lego car that actually drives on—where else?—YouTube. Assembled by a group operating under the fitting banner “Super Awesome Micro Project,” the car features full Lego bodywork, seating for two, and an air-powered Lego radial engine.According to the Super Awesome Micro Project website, the car’s development began with a tweet from an Australian entrepreneur requesting funds for something “awesome.” That blip apparently snowballed into a rather-successful crowd-sourced funding campaign. Money in hand, the Australian backed a guy in Romania, who assembled the car from … [Read more...] about You Ain’t Cool Unless You Drive a Life-Size, Air-Powered Lego Hot Rod
Along with the faux cop car 1972 Ford Galaxie Custom 500 that I reviewed a few weeks back, my department has saved two other examples of police cars once used on patrol. I can personally vouch that these two G- rides are the real deal, because they were both in service in 1997 when I started my career.First up we have a 1991 Ford LTD Crown Victoria. I’ve never liked the “box” style Panthers. When I was going through the police academy, I had the misfortune to be stuck using one of these when we went through our pursuit and emergency driving training courses. Most of my classmates were lucky enough to have been assigned newer ’92- ’94 Crown Vics. The instructors insisted that there was no difference and that the two different models handled the same.They lied. Other than being RWD four door sedans that are painted refrigerator white, the two models have nothing in common, particularly when it comes to handling. The design soldiered on basically … [Read more...] about Cop Drives Classic Cop Car: 1991 Ford LTD Crown Victoria and 1996 Crown Victoria
To paraphrase former editor of GOOD, Cord Jefferson, we Millennials are cold-blooded killers. Whether it’s due to lack of income or interest, few industries have been unaffected by our non-traditional spending habits. The auto industry has been especially vulnerable; I have attended academic conferences and read countless thinkpieces theorizing ways to motivate Millennials to fall in love with automobiles like their parents did. Finding buyers for all of these future cars will be tricky, but there’s a greater problem: If nobody in my generation cares for cars, who will do the work to design them?Even more bleak are the prospects for students who are actually passionate about automobiles. One current transportation design student told me it is easier to get picked for NFL draft than it is to get a job designing cars for a major automaker. In the past, two schools dominated auto design education in America: Detroit’s College for Creative Studies and … [Read more...] about Who Will Design the Cars of the Future?