techshake

New York Auto Show:  One Last Look
Apr06

New York Auto Show: One Last Look

By Brendan Moore

Press days at the show were over four days ago, but due to technical difficulties, the site was quarantined from new posts, and so my apologies for the lateness of this piece.

Of course, the show is still going on for the public, and will be, until April 11. So, we’re only a little late as far as the wrap-ups done by media.

As I noted in my post from the first day, it was immediately obvious that there were a lot more media people at the show this year compared to last year, and, everyone seemed to be in much better spirits. And, I mean everyone, including the people from the manufacturers, the other exhibitors, the staff at the Javits Center, and assorted media types from all over the world.

Last year was somber, no, scratch that, it was depressing.

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New York Auto Show:  2011 Mazda 2
Apr06

New York Auto Show: 2011 Mazda 2

By Brendan Moore

The subcompact Mazda 2 will go on sale here in the U.S. this summer, and Mazda finally has released some specifications for the car here at the New York Auto Show, after showing the car in Los Angeles last year, but providing no technical specifications.

The diminutive Mazda 2 is a distant cousin to the 2011 Ford Fiesta subcompact in that much of the platform is the same since both cars had their gestation while Ford still had Mazda in their corporate family. But you would be hard-pressed to find much else of substance shared between the two cars.

The car comes with a 100 hp, four-cylinder engine for the North American market, which will drive through either a five-speed manual transmission or a rather basic four-speed automatic transmission. The manual transmission will get you 28 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. The automatic gives you 28 mpg and 34 mpg, respectively.

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New York Auto Show:  Interview with Victor Muller of Spyker and Saab
Apr05

New York Auto Show: Interview with Victor Muller of Spyker and Saab

By Brendan Moore

During press days of the New York Auto Show, I got the opportunity to sit down with Victor Muller, CEO of Spyker, Saab’s new owner, for a moment.

The interview occurred during an evening cocktail reception for Saab senior executives the first night of the show, in a lovely classic car gallery in Greenwich Village in New York City. A few people from Saab, including Mr. Muller, made brief remarks at one point during the evening, as is the custom during these things, and I was able to speak with Muller one-on-one towards the end of the party.

After the usual introductions, we started talking, and the transcript of the interview follows:

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New York Auto Show: Swedish Cool

By Brendan Moore

Just a short note while I’m going back and forth on the floor here at the New York Auto Show during the second press day: I couldn’t help but notice as I passed by the Saab stand that everyone there seemed so, well, unusually calm.

So I stopped in, and the effect on me was the same, my blood pressure went down almost immediately. It was a bit like sitting in your favorite cafe.

After being put through the wringer over the last six months as different parties went back and forth over the continued existence, you might think (understandably) that Saab as a living entity might be pretty stressed out. Yes, they got a new owner and their short-term future is now assured, but the task ahead of them is daunting.

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New York Auto Show:  2011 Kia Lineup
Apr01

New York Auto Show: 2011 Kia Lineup

By Kevin Gordon

Kia recently finished their press conference at the 2011 New York Auto Show and they had an impressive array of cars to show to the media. On stage were four models, two of them debuting to the world for the first time. Even more impressive than four new cars to show is that Kia has launched eight new models in the past year. Kia didn’t brag about having the “youngest” lineup in the segment, but they are releasing new cars so quickly I would be worried if I was a Japanese auto executive.

To start, Kia showed the 2011 Sorento SX. For some reason they launched this compact SUV at the Atlanta Auto Show, but since few media outlets cover Atlanta (yet it’s in the backyard of the Sorento’s assembly plant), this was the SX’s coming out party. The SX is essentially a sportier model of the already-attractive Sorento that has been lowered an inch, been given dual-flow damper shock absorbers, unique 18″ wheels, chrome accents, stainless steal skid plates, and French seam stitching. All of this adds to visual appeal of the Sorento without being to garish or gaudy and should improve handling while maintaining ride quality. We look forward to seeing non-SX Sorento in the Techshake garage next week.

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New York Auto Show:  2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Turbo
Apr01

New York Auto Show: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Turbo

By Chris Haak

At the New York Auto Show, Hyundai pulled the wraps off of two impressive new additions to its midsize Sonata lineup. The 2011 Sonata is already on the market, but for the time being only includes a 2.4 liter direct injection four cylinder. Though Hyundai announced at the 2011 Sonata’s launch that a hybrid and turbocharged variant would be coming later, we weren’t told the specifics of what the power output, fuel economy, and pricing of these new variants would be. We now have some answers.

Though the base engine boasts the best fuel economy and some of the best output figures in its segment, some questioned whether Hyundai’s “no V6” strategy for the Sonata was the right move, given that most competitors – Ford, Chevrolet, Honda, Toyota, and Mazda – all offer optional V6 engines in their mid-market models. But the volume of the segment is absolutely in the four-cylinders, so Hyundai decided to skip the V6 and go for the efficiency of an all-four lineup, but adding a twin-scroll turbocharger to boost power and responsiveness.

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New York Auto Show:  2011 Hyundai Equus
Apr01

New York Auto Show: 2011 Hyundai Equus

By Chris Haak

Surprising nobody, Hyundai formally announced that it would launch its full-size rear wheel drive luxury sedan, the Equus, in the US in this fall. Hyundai had previously shown the Equus at last year’s New York Auto Show, and said at the time that it was considering whether to offer its Korean domestic market flagship in the US. Having trotted out the Equus at various auto shows during the current season as well, and seeing a generally positive reaction to the car from the media and potential buyers, the company decided to launch the car in the US.

Intended to compete with much more expensive luxury sedans – such as the Lexus LS460 and Mercedes-Benz S550 – but at a much lower price point, the Equus takes Hyundai’s value-for-the-money formula and applies it to the luxury market. On paper, the Equus tops the two above-named competitors in most areas (after all, Hyundai specifically cited those two as their competition), and particularly compared to the Lexus LS, which with it probably most closely competes.

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26,000 Green Leaves for the Nissan LEAF in the U.S.
Apr01

26,000 Green Leaves for the Nissan LEAF in the U.S.

By George Straton

Nissan has announced a base price of $32,780 for its 2011 LEAF plug-in EV. With available tax credits of $7500, assuming the buyer owes more than $7500 in annual income tax, that drops the price to a rather palatable price of $25,280. State income tax credits, which vary, can further lower the final realized price. Nissan expects monthly leasing plans to start at $349, less any available income tax incentives.

The Leaf SV model – taking its trim line name from the Nissan Maxima – will include an advanced navigation system and Internet/smart phone connectivity to the vehicle, which enables pre-heat/pre-cool and charging control and LED headlamps, in addition to Bluetooth, Intelligent Key functionality. Safety amenities feature six airbags, VDC, and traction control. The SL trim level at $940 will notably add a solar panel spoiler reduce battery draw for the pre-heat/ pre-cool system.

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