Given that we’re all living through one of the worst economic times since The Great Depression, it seems that money pinching and budget tightening has become the new fad these days.

So when the topic of purchasing a cheap car surfaces, there aren’t a lot of manufacturers that can offer more for less than the Tata Nano.

With a price tag that comes up to only $2,200 in India, including taxes and fees, the Tata Nano – not to be mistaken for the Macintosh MP3 player - is becoming the latest must-have car of the cash-strapped man.

While it doesn’t look the least bit imposing, the Nano is still less than a quarter of the next set of cheap cars you can find anywhere.

After all, when you strip down the essentials of a car, the most obvious need is for you to be able to get to Point B from Point A, which after all is what we’re all looking for, right?

Continued after the jump.

Source: NY Times
Posted on by Terence 9

We here at Top Speed have thoroughly enjoyed our run with the subcompact Toyota Yaris . Since we received the tiny five door, we have thoroughly tested the car both on highway and off. The VVT-i 1.5 Liter four cylinder works hard at higher speeds, but is able to chug along with the flow of traffic. Despite the car’s smaller footprint, the Yaris is extremely spacious on the interior, and the cloth seats were extremely comfortable on our two hour highway stint. The Yaris did quite well on the open road, the car was able to get up to speed quickly, there was minimal exterior noise in the cabin and the seating position kept the controls in easy reach while allowing you to relax for the duration of the trip.

The Yaris shines in a crowded urban environment. The way that the wheels are pushed out to the far corners, just like the original compact car the Mini, allows for many of the same benefits. There is maximum use of the interior space, weaving in and out of traffic is a breeze and finding a parking space has never been easier. For those reasons and many more, we don’t mind trading in massaging seatbacks and fancy hard drive based navigation units for a simpler, less-complicated automobile. However our favorite feature of the Yaris are all the storage compartments hidden in the dashboard.

The Toyota Yaris is not only a great first car; it is also a great second car. Save the 599 for the weekends, tell your wife that you’ll be taking the Yaris to the office today, you’ll just have to be selective about which clubs to bring to the driving range after work, because an entire golf bag definitely won’t fit in the trunk. But for around $15,000 you can’t go wrong with a Toyota Yaris, it also comes with one of the greatest guarantees in the world, it’s a Toyota.

Kia announced today prices for the 2010 Forte compact sedan . It will be available in three trim levels (LX, EX and SX) and will go on sale this summer with prices starting from $13,695 for the LX trim, from $15,795 for the EX and from $17,195 for the SX.

Forte LX and EX are powered by a 2.0-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine, that delivers 156 hp and 144 lbs-ft of torque, that features Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) and multi-port electronic fuel injection. The SX features an upgraded 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine, also with CVVT, which delivers 173 hp.

Press release after the jump.

Posted on by Terence 8

We have just received the all new 2009 Ford Focus Coupe in the Top Speed test fleet. The profile of the two-door Focus with its fastback styling immediately reminded us of the old Sierra Cosworth Cosworth , with the modern day car’s long slanted C pillar and oversized rear wing. The Focus Coupe gives the impression of being a sports car, something that is only accentuated by its Sangria Red metallic paint and the rally inspired premium dark painted wheels.

The interior of our Focus Coupe comes with Medium Stone leather seats and Ford’s Sync audio system. These are two luxuries that you won’t find in many other $20,000 new cars. It looks like Ford is targeting the youth market with the Focus Coupe, aside from the sporty exterior styling; the gauges have a very tuner style look to them, they are bright, bold and in your face. Another interesting feature that we’ve noticed is the door chime, gone is the annoying monotonous “ding” and in its place is a sound that is more reminiscent of something coming from an Atari video game.

Our Focus is powered by a 2.0 Liter Duratec 16 valve four cylinder that makes 140 HP. The blue oval guys claim that the Coupe comes with a sport tuned exhaust as well as a sport tuned suspension, two things we are looking forward to listening to and trying out. Despite the sporty nature of the Focus Coupe, Ford is already ready for the future CAFÉ standards because our car get an EPA estimated 35 MPG.

For a 360 degree view of the Focus check out the video after the jump.

After revealing their 2010 Legacy at the New York Auto Show, Subaru has just announced pricing for the all wheel drive sedan. The new generation Legacy will be offered at eight different trim levels and will be priced from $19,995 for the base 2.5i up to $27,995 for the top of the line 3.6R Limited. The base 2.5i is powered by the popular 2.5 Liter four cylinder boxer engine producing 170 HP, the Legacy GT adds a turbocharger to the flat four boosting output up to 265 HP. For those who prefer the linear powerband and added torque of a naturally aspirated engine Subaru is also offering a 3.6 Liter six cylinder making 256 HP.

Scion announced pricing for the 2010 xB that will go on sale later this month. With new Audio Head Unit, the 2010 xB is priced at $15,750 when equipped with a five-speed manual transmission, and $16,700 for the four-speed automatic with sequential shifting.

2010 xB’s standard features include: power steering, windows, door locks and mirrors; cruise control; remote keyless entry; air conditioning; four-wheel anti-lock brakes with electronic brake assist; dual front passenger airbags; front seat-mounted side airbags; front and rear side curtain airbags; and tilt steering wheel with audio controls.

Press release after the jump.

Posted on by Terence 0
Factory Five "Champ Car" 65

Not everyone can afford one of the six Shelby Daytona Coupes (if you can, one is going to auction in May .) So for those who don’t want to put a million dollars worth of hardware on the track, Factory Five Racing has a new kit.

More information after the jump.

According to Nissan, economy cars don’t have to look boring anymore. In an attempt to deliver go fast style at an affordable rate the Japanese automaker is introducing their newest edition to the Sentra family. The latest of seven available Sentra options, the SR model, combines the physical attributes of the high-performance SE-R and 200 HP Spec V models at a price only $1000 above the base model Sentra, the FE+ 2.0 that comes with 15 inch steelies and no ABS.

The car is officially known as the Nissan Sentra FE+ 2.0 SR and is scheduled to go on sale nationwide on April 17th of this year. Priced at only $17,760 the SR model costs the same at the well optioned FE+ 2.0 S that comes with a continuously variable transmission.

Nissan Sentra FE+ 2.0 SR

Pretty much everything that makes the SR special is cosmetic. The owner can choose from six colors for their SR, including those colors once reserved exclusively for the SE-R and Spec V models. Starting up front there is a Sentra SE-R styled front bumper complete with a sports inspired mesh grill and dark chrome accents surrounding the headlights. Lower side skirts borrowed from the SE-R help to close the gap between the vehicle and the pavement. Sitting on top of the trunk is a sporty looking spoiler straight from an SE-R. Differentiating the SR from ordinary Sentras are smoked taillight housings. The molded lip at the bottom of the rear bumper resembles the SE-R’s except that on the SR it is slightly raised in the middle. Finishing off the sporty looking Sentra is the proprietary SR badge on the right side of the trunk.

Press release after the jump.

Posted on by Terence 2

The Ohio based Porsche tuners at Switzer Performance have recognized the rivalry between the Porsche 997 Turbo and the Nissan GT-R , due to the cars similar on road capabilities. The question they are now asking is, are they still comparable when tuned? In order to find out the engineers at Switzer put in long hours developing a reliable GT-R that will make 626 HP at the wheels all day long. They call it the P700.

Press release after the jump.

Source: Switzer

One of the main problems with hybrid vehicles is the cost. The government does offer tax credits that help offset the price, but those are negated by the enormous premiums that the dealers are charging in addition to the MSRP; simply because the supply of these vehicles is limited and they are high in demand, Business 101. It has been concluded that the additional amount spent to purchase a hybrid instead of the traditional model will never be recuperated at the pump because the sher number of miles that a person would have to drive is tremendous.

For example, a well-optioned Toyota Prius can around $30,000. Hopefully Honda will affect this trend by introducing an affordable hybrid vehicle. The 2010 Honda Insight will go on sale March 24th for around $19,800 becoming the cheapest hybrid vehicle sold in the U.S. The five-door five-seater gas-electric hybrid follows Honda’s latest design trend and comes with a long list of standard features.

"The all-new Honda Insight brings the cost of entry for hybrid technology within closer reach of an entirely new car-shopping audience"

Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist joins a 1.3 liter 4 cylinder i-VTEC gasoline engine with a 10 kilowatt electric motor connected to a Continuously Variable Transmission. The electric motor is positioned in between the engine and transmission. This motor provides power during acceleration and through regenerative braking generates electricity during deceleration that is stored in the battery for future use. Another benefit of the IMA system is its ability to operate exclusively on electric power during low speed driving and the fuel saving idle stop feature that shuts down the 4 cylinder engine while the vehicle is standing still.

New for 2010 is the Ecological Drive Assist System, much like FIAT’s Eco Drive software that lets you record personal driving statistics on a flash drive and then have the program evaluate your economy at home on a PC. Except that with Eco Assist displays all the information in front of the driver in real time on a 3-D looking panel in front of the speedometer. Off to the left is another new feature is the ECON button, which can manipulate the throttle, control, CVT operation, idle-stop duration, air conditioning and in the slightly higher priced EX model the cruise-control operation in order to achieve maximum efficiency.

All of this technology is said to return 40 miles per gallon in city driving and 43 miles per gallon while cruising on the highway. The 10.6 gallon gas tank in the Honda hybrid should give the Insight a range of over 400 miles.

The vehicle will also be sold in an EX trim starting at $21,300 and $23,100 for navigation. Not to shabby for an affordable hybrid.

Press release after the jump.

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