By Chris Haak
In a very candid assessment of his brand’s 2011 performance, Acura’s general manager Jeff Conrad told assembled journalists in Detroit that the best thing about 2012 was “that it was not 2011.” While he claimed that his brand lost its momentum until the end of the year due to the Japanese earthquake/tsunami and Thailand flooding, the fact is, Acura hasn’t seemed to have much going for it for the past half decade.
By Carl Malek
Customers in the United States who wanted an SUV offering from Audi were limited to two choices when visiting their local Audi dealer. Either the bulbous and Leviathan Q7, or the slightly smaller but still portly Q5. Customers who wanted something smaller had little choice but to go to Audi’s rivals BMW or Mercedes to downsize their purchase. Not anymore. In an announcement earlier today on the show floor of the North American International Auto Show, Audi announced that it plans to bring the pint-sized Q3 CUV to the North American market place. To further demonstrate its commitment regarding the Q3, the company even brought out the show car you see here the Q3 Vail Concept.
By Chris Haak
What’s in a name? A name can be powerful, both in good ways and bad. There are some names that no automaker would dare use again. Can you imagine a press conference for the 2013 Chevrolet Vega? There are others that have been besmirched by sub-par products years ago, yet the original holders of those names generate such strong positive, nostalgic feelings that sins of the Malaise Era may nearly be forgiven. The Dodge Charger falls into the latter category, and so does the Dodge Dart.
By Kevin Miller
The letter R used to carry a lot of weight at Volvo. The designator for Volvo’s highest performance cars, the R line reached its apogee in model years 2004-2007, when the S60R and V70R were 300 HP, AWD Volvos with Volvo’s first electronically-damped 4C suspension, available manual transmissions, large Brembo brakes, blue-faced instruments, full-leather upholstered seats in custom-colored interiors. Envisioned as halo cars, the R series were the most powerful Volvos ever produced, but they never sold in large numbers, and the erstwhile performance moniker was quietly shelved when the vehicles on which they were based ceased production.
By Roger Boylan
Last year I tested the 2011 Yaris, and liked it. This year I spent a week with the redesigned 2012 Yaris, and liked it even more. Why? Because, as Toyota tells us in its advertising slogan for the new Yaris: “” Say what?
Sometimes, given the ubiquity of Toyotas in the U.S., it’s hard to remember that the company is, after all, Japanese, and that Japan is the birthplace of joyously nonsensical pseudo-English that, in the realm of car names alone, has given us gems such as the . See, this is what you get when you don’t hire gaijin proofreaders to check your English, Toyoda-san! Perhaps “it’s a car!” has a deep, emotional resonance in Japanese, but a quick phone call to a native speaker Stateside might have obviated considerable silliness.