Did you ever have a friend who is a lot of fun in small doses, but after an extended period, their presence starts to wear on you? That’s kind of how I usually feel about small, underpowered cars. I enjoy the maneuverability and economy of them, and feel that it’s something of a novelty to drive something as small as a Scion iQ or a Fiat 500. Yet, I often find myself requesting small cars to evaluate. So, despite owning a nearly two ton, 304 horsepower sedan as my daily driver, this is the third Fiat 500 I’ve borrowed for a week. (First, I had the Fiat 500C, then I had the Fiat 500 Sport. And now, the Fiat 500 ABARTH.) It was fun to spend a week using the ABARTH, but I could never live with a car this small as a daily driver.
If you live in Manhattan and own a car larger than, say, a Lotus Elan, you become the urban equivalent of That Guy with a Pickup Truck Down the Street. Your weekends, once set aside for relaxing with a cup of coffee at a neighborhood cafe, are suddenly filled by new friends’ moving and hauling tasks. And as much as you fight the urge, you suddenly find yourself ready, willing, and able to do favors at a moment’s notice. Could the car-based, 2012 Mazda CX-9 stand up to the task?
As I was perusing the autoblogosphere this afternoon, a photo caught my eye – yes, it’s the photo at the top of this article. To me, there are few things that are more awesome than marrying a brand new, classic body to a modern chassis and mechanicals. And there are few companies that are better at this than ICON. The company already produces very faithful reproductions of the original Ford Bronco, Jeep CJ, and Toyota FJ.
My dad has always been kind of a small block guy, despite his recent tendency to choose the biggest engine available in whatever vehicle he buys. I think this goes back to his drag racing days in the 60s, when he was able to enjoy the advantages of a small, power-dense engine in a lightweight car (in his case, it was a ’67 Chevy II Nova SS with a 327, fitted with the cam from the 350-horsepower version of that engine). On the other hand, I’ve always been a fan of the big block. Well, as we all know, the small block has the last laugh (big block production ended in December 2009). Too, small block displacements have grown to meet or exceed legendary big block displacements (the Z06’s “427” (really 428) cubic inch small block tops the 396, 402, and 427 big blocks).
I have mentioned several times over the years about how the opportunity to drive high-horsepower cars has jaded me. The seat of my pants is now calibrated so that 400 horsepower is the baseline, 500 horsepower is fast, and 600 horsepower is nuts. In other words, my expectations are probably about 150 horsepower higher than they should be. Two hundred fifty horsepower is still plenty of power to move almost any car. Heck, the 1985 Corvette that I borrowed to go to my senior prom had 230 horsepower. With that being said, I think I have discovered that 580 horsepower is just as nuts as 600. Say hello to the Camaro ZL1.
Remember when Cadillacs rode on bespoke platforms with Cadillac-exclusive engines and set the benchmark for luxury cars? Yeah, neither do I, mainly because I was born just one year before the (gasp) Nova-based Seville made its 1976 debut. While the CTS is the only vehicle that rides on its Sigma rear wheel drive-based platform, and the new ATS sedan rides on a bespoke platform, that’s not the case for this XTS. This big boy, the closest thing to a “traditional buyer’s” Cadillac in execution, rides on the same platform as the Chevrolet Impala. And the Malibu. And the Buick Regal and LaCrosse.
Following three years of hard work and development with the engineers at Bosch as well as several smaller institutes, Audi has unveiled the final product of this joint project, the Audi F12 e Performance prototype. The car showcases new materials and EV technology that could trickle down into full production in the near future.
If you’re like Techshake writers, you’re pretty intrigued by the Scion iQ’s tiny footprint and impressive utilization of space. However, the iQ, like the Smart ForTwo and Chevrolet Spark, struggled to hit the magic 40-mpg mark — despite its size and weight. For 2013, Scion has a solution to appease consumers looking for a microcar with the frugality to match.