Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Autoblog is reporting that Motor Trend is reporting that the sedan version of Mitsubishi's pint-sized Mirage will indeed be coming to North America, although the link to the Motor Trend on Autoblog appears to be borked at the moment.
As you can see by last month's subcompact sales, the Mirage is selling quite well and is allegedly beating the Japanese automaker's projections. So if a Mirage hatch is good, why not add to the lineup?
The car is already sold in other markets as the Mirage G4, as evidenced on the Mitsubishi Motors Philippines site. I assume it'll retain the 74 horsepower 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine and choice of five-speed manual or CVT.
We should hope the version shown here makes it to North America, as it arguably looks better than the hatchback. Hey, those side skirts and front fascia make quite a difference; the alloy wheels don't hurt, either. Overall, the lines aren't as cartoonish and the shape isn't as awkward—unusual for a subcompact sedan. It will also likely be bargain-basement priced.
Our Mitsubishi Mirage review proved this tiny car was Spartan and felt as if it was developed for emerging markets. It's not that it didn't have its plusses, such as a decent ride and good fuel economy, but it felt like a car much older than it was. However, the proof is in the pudding, and when the pudding is auto sales, the Mirage is quite tasty for a Mitsubishi. Tasty Mirage pudding ... soon to be with a trunk.
Monday, November 24, 2014
Road Race Motorsports took its Fiat 500 Abarth Tallini Competizione to Miller Motorsports Park for last month's United States Touring Car Championship (USTCC). They also got some cool in-car footage while doing so.
I love the Fiat 500 Abarth, but RRM's Tallini Competizione is truly badass. Those flares. That sound. That spoiler. Molto bello! Someday I will have an Abarth. And you know RRM has a bunch of parts for them to make them sound better, look cooler, and go faster!
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
There are certain defining moments when you are a teenager: getting your driver's license, going to prom, making a varsity sports team. For me it was the first time yanking up on the e-brake in a front-wheel drive car and have the ass-end come around—drift king-style. As a 16 year old in Minnesota, I'll never forget this moment.
It was just after school on a snowy winter afternoon. I had driven my 1992 Mitsubishi Expo LRV down to my friend Paul's house to meet several friends. Paul lived at the base of a sweeping downhill corner on a street in Woodbury, Minnesota; a suburb of St. Paul. There was a good 2–4 inches of unplowed snow on the roads and it was still snowing. I pulled up to the curb to park my tall wagon, when a friend came running over to the car and said, "Don't park on the street. Park in the driveway." I asked why, but he said, "Just do it."
I pulled into the driveway and got out. As I shut the door to the car, I heard the sound of an engine at higher RPM. I look up the hill to my right to witness my friend Jake in his "custom painted" diesel-powered late 1970s Volkswagen Rabbit at full-on boogie sliding sideways down the sweeping corner holding a perfect line. The car, aka the "Phat Rabbit," was belching black soot and making a noise that I remember to be something akin to a diesel-powered food processor. He slid to a stop, pulled a U-turn, and stopped in front of the driveway. We were all wearing shit-eating grins. I'm sure the neighbors were enthralled with our antics. However, what I had witnessed was awesome. I also now knew why they didn't want me parking on the street.
|The car that changed it all: The "Phat Rabbit" circa spring 1996 in Minnesota.|
That's it? That's all? Simply grab the e-brake? So simple, yet with such awesome results.
Much to the neighbors' dismay, Jake took the Rabbit back to the top of the hill for another slide. I watched with pure joy.
After a couple more times down the hill, Jake pulled up to the curb, got out, and said, "I'm done; the e-brake cable broke." It wasn't too surprising. After spending decades in road-salt-strewn Minnesota, it's incredible the brake cable lasted this long (let alone other parts of the car).
Needless to say, seeing that Rabbit sliding sideways that day changed my life forever. Hooning a front-drive car was now orders of magnitude more fun. I had the benefit of front-wheel drive for snowy traction when I needed it, and now, the ability to be a rally car driver when I wanted to.
Suffice to say, the Expo LRV, with its short wheelbase, was great for sliding around. I managed to never hit anything (or anyone, thank God), and empty unplowed parking lots became an endless source of vehicular entertainment. No longer was my winter hooning limited to doing donuts in reverse. The all-mighty e-brake slide was here and I've never been the same since.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Despite gas prices being down in the U.S., small cars sales in October 2014 subcompact sales were actually not too bad. The big winner (although, artificially, since the car was release in small number at this time last year) is the Mitsubishi Mirage. In reality, the biggest winner was the Honda Fit, which was up 83.4% vs. October, 2013. (Then again, the Mirage outsold the Toyota Yaris by more than 2:1 and has sold more units than the Yaris year-to-date.) The MINI Cooper S Hardtop had a decent month, despite many saying the brand is in a sales slump, which if you look at YTD sales of the MINI models, does look to be accurate.
Speaking of a sales slump, the biggest loser was actually a MINI—The Clubman, to be exact—which was down 98.4% vs. October 2013. Year-to-date sales are down 41%, too. This is likely due to a lack of availability, since only 15 (yes, 15) were sold. The MINI Coupe and Roaster were also at the bottom, although they are very niche vehicles.
Of note, Chevy Spark sales are over 33,000 now, which still proves people will buy a practical A-segment vehicle. Also of note, the colossal sales figures by the Nissan Versa and Kia Soul, both of which are over 121,000 with two months of sales to go. And while these are two of the larger cars on the board, their sales is impressive nonetheless. By the way, I love the word "nonetheless." It's like three words in one. Anyway, here's the chart.
PS: Sorry for posting this rather late and also sorry for not posting September's results. I actually got an e-mail from a reader asking if I was going to post them. I guess you do like the sales reports!
|Make/Model||% Oct. '14 vs. Oct. '13||Units Oct. '14||% YTD '14 vs. '13||Units YTD|
|MINI Cooper /S Hardtop||63.6||2747||-28.9||15799|
|Toyota Prius c||5.2||3192||-3.9||34756|
|MINI Cooper /S Convertible||-19.8||227||-21.4||3102|
|Mazda MX-5 Miata||-23.6||288||-19.8||4143|
|MINI Cooper /S Clubman||-98.4||15||-41.1||2604|
Thursday, November 13, 2014
This Tercel picture made me think of a host of other cars that I hadn't seen on the road in years, but contrary to popular belief, were actually in pristine condition rolling off the showroom floor at one point. See if you remember some of these cars. I haven't seen any of them in person in quite some time. Are there some you remember but haven't seen an a while? Post them up in the comments.
Pontiac Le Mans
Nissan Pulsar NX
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
We like the compact Subaru XV Crosstrek for a host of reasons. First, it's a great size; not too small but not too big, either. Secondly, you can get it with AWD and a manual transmission. Finally, it's ultra practical and quite attractive ... in a lifted hatchback kind of way. In fact, we were going to buy one until we decided to splurge and get our turbocharged WRX instead. That being said, the Crosstrek would be on our short list if we needed to replace the WRX, say if it got hit by a falling tree. (I'm currently writing this during the biggest wind storm Portland has experienced in nearly a decade!)
For 2014 Subaru added a variation to the XV Crosstrek: A hybrid—the company's first. Our tester, which came in an appropriate shade of Plasma Green Pearl, could be the poster child for cars in Oregon and Washington. I mean really, a green Subaru Hybrid? Does it get any more Pacific Northwest than that? So does its green color live up to its "green" hybrid moniker?
Saturday, November 8, 2014
|The Jeep Renegade "Riptide" was located in the Mopar booth and featured roof racks, surfboards, black wheels and more.|
Posted by Andy Lilienthal at 11:50 AM
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Somewhat amazingly, Toyota almost always seems to have a Yaris at the SEMA Show, and this year is no different (I even have a couple of Yaris t-shirts from their booth). Toyota has turned to DUB magazine to trick out the refreshed 2015 Yaris. And in true DUB fashion, they've gone all out— whether you like the look or not.
Most obviously, the car rides on enormous (for a Yaris) 20" Dropstars wheels and massive 245/30/20 Nitto Invo tires. No ordinary Yaris could possibly accommodate such rolling stock, so the liftback has been given the widebody treatment. The car wears a custom matte pearl white and gloss black paintjob, which I dig; I'm a sucker for both matte and pearl white, by the way. Also of note, I love the center-exit exhaust. This is something I'd love for my Yaris.
There's no real specs on the suspension other than the press release says "custom." The car does have StopTech brake calipers and a TRD big brake kit, however.
Inside the Yaris are a pair of Sparco racing seats, carbon fiber accents, a black ultra-suede headliner, red accents, and a custom pearl white rollbar. And no DUB-Edition vehicle would be complete without a killer sound system. This Toyota has three amps, two 10" subwoofers, new speakers, an iPad, and custom fiberglass and leather enclosures.
I know this is over the top. However, you must remember that this is a DUB-created SEMA vehicle, so anything else would be unexpected. I'll try to snap some photos of this baby ballermobile at the show next week. Stay tuned.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
The VW Beetle’s familiar shape has been around for decades. It is an iconic car that is instantly recognized, no matter if it’s the old-school Herbie the Love Bug runabout or the aggressively-styled larger version of today. I drove VW’s latest Bug, the 2014 Beetle R-Line Turbo. And what exactly is an R-Line? It's VW's Beetle Turbo with a new name.
Monday, October 27, 2014
"What would you do with a Nissan Versa Note?"
Ask that question on social media, and you're bound to have some smartass respond with "Push it off a cliff." Well, frankly, that's sort of what Nissan has just done.
Nissan Europe has taken a Versa Note, put it into a Zorb (e.g. giant inflatable bubble that gets pushed down a hill, usually with a human inside), and, well, pushed it down a hill. Why? To showcase its safety, I suppose. I've never been zorbing (is that even a verb?), but it looks pretty fun if not slightly vomit inducing. I think I'll leave the Zorbing to the Versa Note.