Ah, the Fisker Karma. It is likely one of the most well designed and heavily debated cars available today. Some people love it and cannot get enough of it and others can’t stand it. It’s truly one of the most polarizing cars on the market and a lot of that is because of some of the issues it has run into and the massive DOE loan that Fisker took out to help produce it.
We pretty much sit right in the middle. We’ve loved its looks from the day we saw the concept model that no one believed would ever be produced. Its issues and some of the sub-par reviews, on the other hand, pushed us back toward the middle..
Well, the only way we can really find out if we truly love it or hate it is to test drive it. And that is exactly what we did, as we took a road trip to Fisker of Tampa Bay at 320 East Fletcher Ave. in Tampa, and met up with Fisker brand manager Jackie Daly and general manager Bryan Mobley for an exclusive viewing and test drive.
So, did we walk away impressed or did the Karma underwhelm?
Click past the jump to find out. Full story
Sometimes, the whole of a car is greater than the sum of the parts. Such is the case with the 2011 Volkswagen GTI. On paper, the GTI looks fairly unremarkable. The starting price is just over $24,000 for a three-door, or just over $25,000 for a five-door, which makes it slightly more expensive than its closest rival, the five-door Mazdaspeed3. Worse, it gives up a significant amount of horsepower to the Mazda: the GTI makes 200 horsepower from its 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder, while the Mazda cranks out some 263 horsepower from its 2.3-liter turbo four. If you’re looking for performance and handling, it looks to be an open and shut case for the Mazdaspeed3.
Or is it? Life doesn’t consist of an endless series of mountain roads and racetracks, and even if you hit the track every weekend, chances are that you still drive there on boring public roads. On the road, the GTI’s ride is more refined than the Mazdaspeed’s, and the Mazda’s ever-present (and occasionally puckering) torque steer is absent from the GTI. Sure, it’s not as quick as the Mazda, but the difference is less than you might expect. Volkswagen is very conservative in rating the GTI’s power, and owners who dyno their cars often find that the GTI produces about 215 horsepower at the wheels on 93 octane gas. It weighs about 240 pounds less than the Mazda, too, so the real-world advantage of the Mazda in 0 to 60 times is only a few tenths of a second. Full story
Unless you’ve been living in a cave in the wilderness for the past 12 months, it’s impossible to miss the huge strides Hyundai has gained in market share. Its Sonata mid-side sedan and Elantra compact have won numerous industry awards, and dealers can’t keep cars on their lots. In fact, Elantra supply is so short these days that dealers are selling from inventory in the pipeline, not on the showroom floor.
If you get the sense that Hyundai is doing a lot of things right these days, you’d be correct. When Hyundai announced the Genesis R-Spec last February, we’ll admit to being a bit skeptical; Hyundai had proven that they could build and sell mainstream and even luxury cars, but what did the Koreans know about building a sport sedan, long the domain of manufacturers such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz? After all, not much has been done with their sole sports car, the Genesis Coupe, since launch, which has many critics questioning how serious Hyundai is about attracting performance-oriented buyers.
Check out our full review of the 2012 Hyundai Genesis R-Spec after the jump. Full story
The car world keeps coming back to roadsters. Marketing people perennially argue “what moderns really want is an appliance.” Huh. Tell Saturn that. Roadsters are the opposite of an appliance car, yet they thrive. They are the essence of Car.
At Porsche, they never succumbed to the nonsense. They do not just sell sports cars, they also sell SUV’s that think they are sports cars and a luxury sedan that will take on the newcomer Cadillac at Nürburgring and give you time for a quick sippa joe while the CTS-V finishes. Fair enough. Porsches are exciting cars and we all know it, but a roadster? Isn’t that a little beneath them? We can buy a Miata for twenty grand and you can’t find enough options to get one out the door at more than thirty. On a Porsche’s option sheet, a little daydreaming adds enough in options alone to match the cost of a new Miata. Can Porsche build a roadster that could possibly be worth that much more than a Miata?
Uh… yes. That turns out to be the case. I’m talking about people that care about cars of course. If a car really is just an appliance to you, you can always find one. Full story
When we buy a car, we want it to make us feel special. Now that the Fiat 500C has hit our shores, it’s easy to see that this convertible has excelled in this aspect. It combines the fun of a convertible and the ease of use of a compact car. You feel so happy when driving the 500C it should be categorized as an anti depressant. With such a cheap and cheerful car, you would expect it be made of plastic and have the same cosmetic qualities as an outhouse. As soon as you peek inside and out, you are amazed.
The 2012 Fiat 500C promises all the fun and style of the Fiat 500 with a convertible drop top that lets you soak up the glorious sunshine. The amazing thing is a fully loaded 2012 Fiat 500 C is the same price as a base model MINI convertible. We just looked up thew word value in the dictionary and not surprisingly, it showed a picture of the 2012 Fiat 500C.
Details on the Fiat 500C after the jump. Full story
The luxury sedan segment is cluttered with numerous offerings spanning many different countries. Germany is the pack leader with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7-Series, and the Audi A8, while Japan counters with the Lexus LS460. Jaguar delivers with the new XJ, which is combination of elegant lines and old world grace, while American company, Cadillac, offers up the Stone Age DTS.
Each and every one of these machines has a purpose that is executed with precision and, for the most part, excellence. The new BMW 7-Series is fairly good at being a technology laden sports sedan, while the Lexus LS is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Yet, after a week in the new 2011 Audi A8, it has become clear that there is a new benchmark for the luxury sedan.
For years it was left behind by its German competitors, but now, the new world has caught up with the old world and for once, Mercedes-Benz and BMW will need to do some serious catching up in order to compete with this new A8. The “third” German car company has just taken the lead.
More details on the Audi A8 after the jump. Full story
The Volkswagen Jetta has clearly been an afterthought since the first day it went on sale. Basically, it was just a Volkswagen Golf with a trunk and a bigger backseat. Yet, it’s been one of the company’s biggest sellers in the United States for thirty years. That being said, it doesn’t come close to the sales of the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla, but it was never going to now was it.
The people who buy these Japanese economy cars aren’t like the rest of us. They care more about price than they do European driving ability and build quality. They want interior room to haul their many kids, something which the Germans never thought of when they were in the design room. But this was the old Jetta, and times have changed with their latest creation. The sixth-generation Volkswagen Jetta, like it or not, has grown fatter, gotten cheaper, and now caters to Americans like never before.
The new price of the Jetta comes in at $15,995 for the base S trim, right around the price of the Civic and the Corolla. It would seem like that good old "German quality" will be lost at this new price point, but we’ll just have to drive it to find out.
Hit the jump to keep reading. Full story
Trying to multitask might seem like a good idea at first, but although you might get things done, you might not get them done well. Watching your favorite football team or Formula One race, while studying for an exam, and typing a paper might work for a while, but you won’t know what happened in the race, you’ll fail the test, and your paper will be poor at best.
The 2010 Lexus RX450h attempts it’s own multi-tasking effort. The hybrid SUV tries to be luxurious, fuel efficient, and practical all at the same time. It manages to accomplish everything it set out to do, albeit with varying degrees of success.
The fifth-generation RX is the newest version of the best selling model in the Lexus line, but only one in five sell with a hybrid motor under the hood. So Lexus is banking on the RX450h being good at everything it attempts to do. So, how does it fair?
Hit the jump to find out. Full story
Lexus is to the hybrid world as Germany is to the Formula One racing driver scene. Toyota’s luxury brand has been in the hybrid game for some time now and they have quite the selection to choose from. Most have been successful, but nobody would dare argue that these models are the best of the hybrid world. In order to take the hybrid title, Lexus has decided to build a hybrid from the ground out, sort of Lexus’s Michael Schumacher.
Being that Lexus is directly related to Toyota, who currently produces the benchmark hybrid in the Prius, Lexus has a wealth of knowledge at its disposal, but at the same time has one tough act to follow with the new third-generation Prius. With all that in mind, one would hope that this HS 250h would be the pinnacle of what a hybrid vehicle should be.
Lexus’s attempt to create a Schumacher-type vehicle seemed within reach, but the Japanese automaker wound up with a Sebastian Vettel, which isn’t that bad if we’re honest. What Lexus has done was create a luxury Prius, something that is nearly a mirror image of the best selling hybrid and that just isn’t a benchmark in our eyes. After spending a week in the HS 250h, our minds haven’t changed.
Hit the jump to keep reading. Full story
The entry-level luxury segment doesn’t get the attention of some of the various other segments, such as the luxury sports sedan category. Yet, attention from car lovers matters about as much to sales as one cloud on a sunny day. Photos on the covers of magazines are all well and good, but sales numbers are what really count.
The reason for this is the fact that companies don’t make a whole lot of money selling a few thousand super expensive machines with plush seats, loads of technology, and a massive motor. Sort of like Rolex and Timex, as one makes a better product, but the latter is far wealthier. So, with so many different automakers trying to soak up the sales of the entry-level luxury game, one would think that sales would be spread, but they’re not. One vehicle has maintained dominance over the herd, the Lexus ES.
In the past decade, Toyota has created 600,000 of these sedans in the U.S alone, with another 650,000 in the rest of the world. What makes this even better for the Japanese automaker is the lack of incentives that go along with the ES. These things are selling straight up.
Hit the jump to read on. Full story