Much like its sister company, Hyundai, Kia has been designing cars that not only offer its customers low-cost options to higher-priced brands, but also cars that offer high-quality workmanship and stylish appearances. We all knew that the Kia Forte is going to be up for a significant redesign when its 2014 model year debuts at the 2012 LA Auto Show, but we were not too sure what direction Kia would take it.
But now that the covers have been officially pulled and we have our answer.
We want to say that the Forte blew us away, but that just wouldn’t be fair to it. Sure, there are things about it that we like, but some elements of the car still leaves a lot to be desired. Then again, a car like the Forte, or any other in this segment for that matter, isn’t subject to an all-or-noting affection level.
There are things about it we liked. There are things we didn’t like. At the end though, the Forte received good marks from us because the things we liked outweighed the things we didn’t like.
Not by much. But hey, that’s still worth some salt to us.
Updated 03/21/2013: Kia announced that the 2014 Forte sedan will arrive at dealerships at a starting price of $15,900 - or lowest starting MSRP in the compact segment.
Find out what we think of the new 2014 Kia Forte after the jump
We have already seen the standard Volkswagen Golf VII and now Volkswagen is further expanding the lineup with the addition of the new generation Golf Variant. The station wagon version is enjoying a great success on the European market so is no wonder why the seventh generation brings significant updates.
When compared to the model it replaces, the new Golf Variant is about 105 kg (232 lbs) lighter, but in the same time it has grown in sizes and offers increased cargo area.
Also, as a first for the station wagon model, the seventh generation Golf Variant is being offered in an extremely fuel-efficient TDI BlueMotion version that delivers a combined fuel consumption of just 3.3 l/100 km (71.3 mpg). All the other engines and transmissions have been carried over from the hatchback version.
Updated 03/05/2013: This review has been updated with the official details, images and specs.
Hit the jump to read more about the seventh generation Golf Variant.
Before the 2013 model year, the top trim level of the Passat in the UK was the SE trim, which was relatively decked out, but lacked some of the extras that most premium sedans came with. In 2013, VW plans to change that by offering up a replacement for the outgoing SE trim level, the Passat Highline. Not only does the “Highline” name sound more luxurious than “SE,” but it also boasts an array of standard features that the SE did not.
This new addition affects both the Passat Saloon and the Passat Estate, which are a sedan and wagon, respectively. This gives the Passat lineup three trim levels in each body style, starting with the base-level S, the mid-grade BlueMotion, and capping off with the Highline. The real test is whether the additions to the top-level trim on the Passat really warrant the price the VW will place on it.
Click past the jump to read the full list of features and more.
Last week we brought you the first spy shots of the BMW 1-Series GT in its production form. Today we are doing that one better by bringing you our own rendering of the future Bimmer 1-Series Gran Turismo, which is set to hit the market in 2014.
As previously reported, the 1-Series GT was previewed by the Concept Active Hybrid and this is where our rendering began. We spiced it up a little by adding some extra goodies to it, including: a chrome-outlined front grille, lower-grille-mounted fog lamps and gloss-black side-view mirror stalks. In another words we made it cooler – well, at least we think it is.
For those of you who do not know just yet, the 1-Series GT will be built on BMW’s new UKL platform and will be offered with a choice of three engines: a standard 3-cylinder engine, a 4-cylinder petrol engine and a 3-cylinder hybrid powertrain that will combined a 1.5-liter petrol engine driving the front wheels with an electric motor for the rear axle.
The new 1-Series GT will make its official debut in the summer of 2013 with sales to beginning later in 2014.
Brabus is likely one of the most famous and successful Mercedes-Benz tuners on the planet, and there is really no questioning that. They likely play No. 2 fiddle only to AMG, in building kits that make relatively timid Mercedes into extreme machines.
One of the latest Mercedes-Benz cars to roll out with a new look and feel is the 2013 A-Class, which we have yet to see in the U.S. This hot hatchback comes in eight trim levels with small variances between each one. The engines in this lineup range from the timid and fuel-sipping 1.8-liter CDI engine to the wilder 2.0-liter 4-cylinder unit.
With the newly redesigned A-Class just rolling off of the showroom floor, it was only a matter of time before Brabus got its expert hands on it. And at the 2012 Essen Motor Show, which kicks off on December 1st, Brabus plans to unveil its modifications for the A-Class. However, in preparation for this launch, Brabus has issued a soft release of just some of the upgrades that it will offer for this new compact Benz.
Click past the jump to read all about the Mercedes-Benz A-Class by Brabus.
Hyundai has certainly tossed plenty of examples into the ring at the 2012 SEMA show and it has just unveiled another concept car. This new custom car sits on the base of a 2013 Hyundai Veloster, but Hyundai brought in famed car tuner, John Pangilinan, to help tweak it just a little bit.
The majority of the work done to this Veloster was to the body, interior, and sound system, which is pretty standard for SEMA. However, this is not to say that John P. and Hyundai just left the Veloster bone stock in the performance realm. This compact 4-door hatchback (three man doors and one hatch) received just enough engine modification to make it stand out and a tiny bit of suspension work to sure of the often-complained-about handling of the otherwise sporty Veloster.
At SEMA, the Veloster is up against the best of the best, however, so let’s have a look to see how Hyundai did with this project.
Click past the jump to read all about the Veloster JP Edition.
Wow, VW hit SEMA really hard this year, especially with the Beetle. Pretty much every model of Beetle that was heading to SEMA – Rotiform Beetle, Beach-Battle Cruiser Beetle, and the Super Beetle – were all readily available with images, but the Chopped Beetle by Gaplin Auto Sports was not, for some reason.
Well, GAS has just released an image of this chop-top Beetle and some extra information. It is based on the 2013 VW Beetle Turbo, which means it features a 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and a 6-speed transmission. There’s no mention of any additions to the engine, so we assume that it remains bone stock.
On the outside, GAS doused it with an Onyx Black base coat and accented the sides with Candy Apple Red metal-flake paint, giving it an awesome look. GAS then took to the top of the Beetle, hacking 5.5 inches off of the A-pillar and 2.5 inches off of the B-pillar, giving it that classic chop-top look, while retaining the classic humped roofline.
Adding to its bespoke look, GAS deleted the rear windows and added in rear air scoops in their place. If you have seen rodded beetles that retain their rear-mounted engines, this is a very common modification to get a little more airflow to the engine. Given this is a front-mounted engine, it’s just there for show.
Adding to its style is a set of 20-inch, 3-piece Forgiattos handmade rims. GAS them topped off the outside by adding tint to the headlights and taillights, giving this already sinister- and vintage-looking Beetle a little more darkness.
On the inside, the vintage treatment continued, as GAS tossed in vintage-style black leather that features red accent stitching. The headliner is dyed to match the vintage cow hide on the rest of the interior. Wrapping the inside and outside together, GAS painted the interior trim panels and dashboard with the same Candy Apple Red metal flake that sets off the exterior. We are still awaiting images of the interior and we will get them to you ASAP.
Overall, we think this was well worth the delay in getting the images, we just wish it had a little something extra under the hood.
Volkswagen has been really busy with its compact European hatchback, the Polo, as of late. First Vee-Dub released the Polo R-Line, then it teased us with the Polo WRC Street, and the latest was the high-performance Polo R. As per usual, none of those models are making it to the U.S. – sigh – but our U.K. friends get to tell us all about them.
VW is at it again by giving our Euro readers yet another version of the Polo to whip around. This time, however, this one is a hybrid of sorts. No, not an electric-gas hybrid, but rather a nice mixture of performance and fuel economy – kinda like eating fat- and sugar-free ice cream, but it still actually tastes like ice cream.
So how tasty is this Ben and Jerry’s sans the fat and sugar? Does it still have the tasty peanut butter-filled pretzels and chucks of chocolate in it, or is more like what you really get when you buy “healthy” ice cream: tasteless frozen skim milk with chunks of strange, chewy mess obviously sweetened with saccharine?
Click past the jump to read our review and find out.
We admit to not being all that intrigued by the Fiat Bravo. Sure, it’s an affordable hatchback that looks pretty decent and has the corresponding performance qualifications to make it a nice, everyday ride, but for all the positive vibes of the Bravo, there’s very little about it that really jumps off the page. Well, except if Fiat decides to green light a production version of the just-introduced Bravo Xtreme Concept.
Looking the part of a Ford Focus ST conqueror, the Bravo Xtreme Concept is what we believe the Bravo should’ve looked like a long time ago. The aggressive body kit adds a level of attitude to the vehicle, particularly with the use of a new front bumper with its own large grille, as well as a pair of side vents, each with its own built-in LED. Over at the back, the Bravo Xtreme Concept also received some upgrades, particularly the use of a new bumper, its own LED taillights, the presence of two exhaust pipes, a pair of roof spoilers and diffuser, and a new set of two-tone alloy wheels.
Sound impressive, but the Bravo Xtreme Concept also has its fair share of interior digs, including a four individual seats, an updated dashboard, a new center console with screens integrated into the front seats’ headrests, and a new audio system from ASK.
Under its hood, the Bravo Xtreme Concept also received a rather interesting - and more powerful - engine: a 1.4-liter 16V T-Jet engine that produces an impressive 253 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 245 lb/ft of torque at 5,000 rpm.
It’s not just not shabby in our books, it’s pretty downright impressive if you ask us.
With the new generation Golf already on the market, Volkswagen is undoubtedly finishing up the execution of the rest of the model’s variants. We’ve already seen the GTI version get previewed by the concept car at the 2012 Paris Auto Show, so now it’s time to check out what the new convertible will look like.
The Volkswagen Golf Convertible will be among the latest variants to be added to the new generation Golf line-up. It will feature the same design elements launched with the standard Golf VII, but will retain the usual soft top seen in the previous generation Golf Cabriolet.
Under the hood, the convertible version will keep the same engine line-up as the hatchback version. This means customers will have the possibility to choose between four engines: two petrol - a 85 HP 1.2-liter TSI and a 140 HP 1.4-liter TSI - and two diesel - a 105 HP 1.6-liter unit and a 150 HP 2.0-liter unit.
Expect the seventh generation Volkswagen Golf Cabrio to be launched sometime in 2014.