By Chris Haak
Just as GM tried to attract younger, Generation Y buyers to the Chevrolet brand with the Code 130R concept, it rolled out a similarly-targeted, but very differently executed coupe concept called the Tru 140S.
Though the company received feedback from young potential buyers for both cars, and they both have similar horsepower numbers, there is a key difference. The Code 130R is built on a small rear wheel drive platform, which is obviously great for at-the-limit handling – and has excessively conservative looks.
By Charles Krome
Most gearheads know that Chrysler’s first go-round as a government-funded entity—for all the gnashing of teeth it caused—actually led to a number of very important product innovations that completely changed the course of the auto industry: The introduction of wide-scale platform sharing and the debut of the modern-day minivan. True, Chrysler wasn’t the very first to begin using the former or selling the latter, but it was the company that proved both could be successful in mass-market applications here in the U.S.
By Kevin Gordon
If you have ever watched the BBC’s Top Gear you have probably heard the presenters discuss how much they respect Ford’s cars. In fact, the Ford Mondeo is one of the very rare cars that all three presenters agree is a great car. I have always found this to be a bit odd considering the general ribbing that those pecky and hilarious Brits continuously give the stereotypical American. How can Ford’s products can garner such respect with the most stringent of automotive critics? If you listen closely their love of Fords cars come from the way that they drive, much the way the American auto magazines endlessly gush about BMWs. Here again was a point of confusion for me. I have driven a lot of Fords, including living in a family that owned a number of 1990s era Tauruses (SP?). Few of these cars ever caught my attention as being great to drive. Even their much-loved Mondeo was a commercial flop in the states when it came here as the Contour/Mystique. Sure the SVT version was a nice car, but what did they sell… 31 of them?
Back to the point. When the 2012 Ford Focus ended up in the Autosavant parking lot for a week, I was expecting to spend my time focusing on economy, practicality, and other things that auto journalists have to do in order to have the chance to spend time in exotics and supercars. As it turns out I wasn’t in for such a boring week.
By James Wong
Sometimes too much power can be overwhelming. This sounds a bit impossible to those accustomed with the mantra ‘power is better’. Sit behind the wheel of some cars though, and a certain something in you cowers in fear, secretly hoping that you didn’t have the responsibility of driving it. You just wouldn’t make full use of the power, not on the public road, because the car just doesn’t inspire the confidence for all-out driving. Not so for the Twingo 133 Cup, which cleanly falls into the category of cars that you just want to wring out to within an inch of its life. You know the type – a revvy, naturally aspirated engine with just enough muscle to fling a lightweight body to the horizon. The Japanese Domestic Make (JDM) Civic Type-R captures this description to the highest degree, but the 133 Cup is a distilled version, although no less diluted.
The 133 Cup is the cheapest entry into Renaultsport ownership and it shows in some ways. Take the door panels, which are covered in hollow, hard plastics. There is nothing much soft to touch in the interior save for what’s important – the supple and supportive Recaro seats, the leather-wrapped steering wheel with the yellow centre indicator and the ergonomic short-shifting leather and metallic gear lever. The gearbox also features 5 gears which is a bit archaic in this day and age. The rear Twingo logo on the bootlid is also printed, unlike the metal badges that we’re so used to. But, for the money it is reasonable considering that the car retains Twingo practicalities, such as a ridiculously spacious interior with comfortable seating for 4 adults. Coupled with the fact that it is a full-blown Renaultsport product and the car does start to appear like a bargain.
By Chris Haak
GM’s down-under subsidiary, Holden, is seemingly populated by car guys who get it. Not only did they create the excellent Zeta large rear wheel drive platform that underpins the Commodore, Caprice, Calais, Chinese Park Avenue, and even (in modified form) the Cadillac CTS and STS, but the crew in Australia has concocted some outrageous derivatives. The HSV-modified W427 comes to mind; it’s basically a heavily modified Pontiac G8 with the Corvette Z06′s 427 428 cubic inch 500-horsepower V8 under its hood, plus body, interior, and suspension modifications.
Granted, Holden proper didn’t concoct the W427, but you get the idea. So my ears perked up when I read an article (on LeftLaneNews, via Australia’s GoAuto) that noted how Holden was working on a higher-performance Cruze flagship, to be called the Cruze SS. SS carries similar weight in the mind of both Americans and Australians, though, so it’s not entirely clear that the rumored 1.6 liter turbo would be enough of a performance upgrade to warrant the designation. The volume engine in the US Cruze is a 1.4 liter turbo, good for just 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque, and that’s just barely enough to move the car with anything approaching alacrity.