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Archive for the ‘hatchback’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Toyota Corolla iM – Driven

Ah Scion, Toyota’s youth-market sub brand. Now in 2017, we can only reminisce about bygone days when new Scion hatchbacks, coupes, and toasters sat in showrooms waiting for eager high-school teens to arrive with daddy’s money or senior citizens to stroll in looking for something more economical than their worn-out Mercury Grand Marquis. Those days are gone though, thanks to Toyota shuttering Scion and consolidating a few of its models into the Toyota fleet. One such example is the Scion iM.

The iM was all-new for the U.S. market in 2015, launched beside the Mazda-derived Scion iA sedan. The iM was basically a Toyota Corolla Hatchback, though you’d never hear a Scion salesman pointing that to potential buyers. The car featured the same, 1.8-liter four-cylinder as the Corolla, as well as the six-speed manual or optional Continuously Variable Transmission. But, sadly, the iM and iA couldn’t save the Scion brand. Toyota ended the brand’s 13-year run in August of 2016. Fast-forward to today, and Toyota has rebadged the iA, iM, and FR-S as the Yaris iA, Corolla iM, and the 86, respectively.

I recently got to sample the Corolla iM for a week – living with it during the daily grind. My tester came equipped with the six-speed manual transmission and zero options. It’s rare to have press fleet cars come so equipped. But rather than being a buzzkill from the usual whiz-bang gadgetry and overly complicated nature of many modern cars, the iM’s basic nature proved a welcomed reprieve and rather enjoyable. Heck, my tester didn’t even have floor mats. (I’ve heard Toyota is stingy with their floor mats.)

Of course, the most noticeable feature of this iM is its color – that big, bright, green color. Oh boy. Toyota calls it “Spring Green Metallic.” I call it ugly. Yet the color helped add a particular flare to car it wouldn’t have otherwise had. It also attracted everyone’s attention. I lovingly named my tester Snot Rocket.

Continue reading for the full driven review.


PostHeaderIcon Buyer's Guide: Mazda 3 vs Honda Civic Hatchback

SUVs have the world by storm, getting a second wind after the high-priced fuel crisis of years past, and ultimately forcing automakers to rethink their whole strategy. But, SUVS aren’t the only popular models on the market, as hatchbacks are still a big-ticket item as well. There are so many to choose from – models like the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus, and even the Mini Cooper have found their way into the hearts of many, but there are two other players in this game that are worth your consideration, and those are the Honda Civic Hatchback and the Mazda3. Both offer aggressive styling, decent power output, and the ability to haul a decent amount of cargo or a few friends with ease.

The Honda Civic has been around for a long time, being introduced back in 1972. It was originally offered in a number of configurations, including three- and five-door hatchback form. The Civic itself has survived well over the years with the tenth-gen model being introduced for 2016. The Mazda3, on the other hand, is relatively a baby in comparison, being introduced just back in 2003. It saw its third generational shift for the 2014 model year and went through a minor revision for the 2017 model year. With Mazda’s latest design language and range of SkyActiv engines, the Mazda 3 is always ready to do battle with the other great hatchbacks in the world, but today we’re going to compare it directly to the Civic Hatchback and help you decide which one you should buy when it comes time to pull the trigger on your next big purchase.

With that said, let’s dive on in and take a good look at each one. Both come to the party with a lot to offer, so we’ve got our work cut out for us. Join me down the page, and we’ll get started.


PostHeaderIcon Honda Releases Industrial Strength Civic Type R Teaser: Video

Hey! You there! Auto enthusiast! Are you excited for the impending invasion of the first Type R’d Honda to ever get shipped stateside? Do you dream of wings and red badges and 20-inch wheels and triple exhaust pipes? Do you spend your days fantasizing about 300 turbocharged ponies rampaging at the dip of your right foot? Well, you’re in luck, because all that goodness will soon become a reality with the arrival of the new Civic Type R. Word has it the first units will arrive sometime this spring, so to tide you over, Honda is offering up this 1-minute teaser video.

The vid is set in an industrial park and showcases the FWD maniac amid a host of hype-building effects – reverse smoke billows, red lasers… that sort of thing. It’s a fun little clip that does a good job in highlighting the CTR’s extreme exterior styling, as well as some of the goodies equipped in the cabin. But make sure to stick around for the end, where we get about eight seconds of burbling, popping exhaust noise as the CTR speeds away at full throttle, cracking through the manual six-speed shifter in the process.

Unfortunately, the whole thing isn’t much more than a shameless teaser to stoke the flames of desire amongst fans, and no new info can be gleaned from watching it. But hey – if you’re CTR lover, ain’t nothing wrong with that.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Sport Compact Invasion – Breaking Down 5 Of The Best Pocket Rockets

Small cars can be really, really fun. Sure, it’s not uncommon to see the compact segment associated with less than thrilling prospects, such as commuter mules and plain-old boring A-to-B transport, but if you do it right, the pairing of diminutive size and low curb weight can be the right recipe to make something thrilling, something to get your juices flowing. Whether it’s attacking cones at the autocross, slinging dirt on a rally cross course, zipping between the apexes on the road course, or charging up a deserted mountain road on the weekends, a sport compact is the right fit for a wide range of speed lovers. This is the realm of the pocket rocket, a giant slayer with a mean little attitude and a whole lot of potential. If you like mixing your performance with a compact body style, there are lots of options out there. Here’s the top five.

For this comparison, we chose the following entries – the Ford Focus RS, Honda Civic Type R, Mini Cooper Hardtop John Cooper Works, Subaru WRX STI, and Volkswagen Golf R. All are turbocharged and slot in around the $35,000 mark. While there are other options available, these are some of the most popular. As such, we looked at the styling and aero, interior comfort and convenience, engine and drivetrain, chassis and handling, and of course, the price and optional equipment. We also looked at some of the more intangible characteristics of each entry.

Are you looking to get into a new sport compact? Read on for the info you need to know.

Continue reading for a breakdown of five of the best pocket rockets.


PostHeaderIcon Seven Wallet-Friendly Cars Unveiled in Geneva

The 2017 Geneva Motor Show has come to an end and it’s pretty obvious that this year’s event has been a massive success. With more than 60 vehicles on display, Geneva once again proved why its among the most important auto shows of the year.

But, while we drooled upon supercars like the Ferrari 812 Superfast, Lamborghini Huracan Performante, and McLaren 720S, Geneva also brought us quite a few cars for the average Joe. They might not be as spectacular when it comes to performance and technology, but they’re equally important to the automotive industry and deserve all the attention they can get.

Geneva may seem like an event that’s about the glitz and glamour of luxury and performance cars more than anything else, but this is mostly because we all dream of owning cars that can go fast, and keep us comfortable and connected with the latest gadgets. But, once we stop dreaming, we realize that we can’t afford a Lamborghini Huracan and that our daily driver is no-nonsense compact. When that moment comes, have a look at the cool, yet affordable cars you might have missed while rushing to find out how fast the Huracan is around the Nurburgring.

You might need a new daily driver soon. Just saying…

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon This Is How Much You'll Need To Save To Buy The Honda Civic Type R

The long wait is over. Yes, you read that right. The long wait is finally over. The Honda Civic Type R, arguably one of the most anticipated U.S.-bound performance models in a long time is set to make its arrival this summer. The hot hatch is scheduled to go on sale sometime in June or July 2017 – Honda’s press release did say “late spring” – and will carry a price tag that will be “in the mid-30k range.”

Okay so the timetable and price of the Civic Type R are not yet official, but that’s really an academic point, especially for those who have waited years for the hot hatch to make its way in U.S. soil. See, for those who aren’t familiar with the Type R’s history, the model has actually been around since 1997, spanning five different generations, including the one that was unveiled at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. In all that time, the four previous-generation Civic Type Rs never made their way to the U.S. Sure, they were sold at one point or another in places like South Africa, Malaysia, and Hong Kong, but the U.S. had always been shut out of the hot hatch despite the fact that the country remains one of Honda’s biggest markets.

None of that matters now though because the 20-year wait is finally coming to an end. The Honda Civic Type R, with its luscious 306-horsepower and 295-pound-feet of torque capabilities will be roaming American streets. It’s worth noting though that the U.S.-spec Civic Type R will carry slightly less power than the international-spec cars, which will have 315 horsepower at its disposal.

The disparity in output probably won’t matter in the long run given how long U.S. customers have waited to get their hands on the car. So while all of us wait for “late spring” to arrive, we can at least look forward to the car making an appearance at the 2017 New York Auto Show where it will be on hand together with the Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid and Honda Clarity Electric models, both of which will be making their global debuts at the event.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Hot Hatch Shakedown – Honda Civic Type R Vs. Ford Focus RS

For older stateside hot hatch fans out there, it’s probably crystal clear that we’re currently in a new golden age of performance, one that was once relegated to the realm of fantasy and bench racing. High-powered, tear-drop-shaped compacts with an odd number of doors, turbocharged power, and sports car-like handling are finally, finally finding their way to the U.S. market, and after decades of waiting and ogling from afar, U.S. buyers will soon have a chance to get behind the wheel of four-wheeled superstars previously considered forbidden fruit solely for Europe and Japan. Two of the biggest contenders in this space are the Honda Civic Type R and the Ford Focus RS, both incredible cars aimed squarely at the enthusiast buyer. But which is better?

You can’t help but put these two compact titans in a side-by-side comparison. Both are roughly the same in terms of cost, both come with turbocharged four-cylinder engines, both get manual transmissions, and both offer five-door practicality. Both also carry a long history of making speed lovers smile, and command a veritable army of zealous followers to champion their claim to hot hatch supremacy.

But there are some serious differences as well. While the Focus is an AWD hammer, boasting four corners of grip and some impressive firepower under the hood, the Civic is a FWD scalpel, packing less weight and a history of apex-hunting prowess.

Which will come out on top – the Blue Oval Drift Mode bomber, or the H Badge slice and dice katana? It’s America versus Japan in a hot hatch shakedown. Read on for our take.

Continue reading for the full comparison.


PostHeaderIcon Nissan Micra Bose Personal Edition

The Nissan Micra is a good subcompact car that Nissan has relied on to compete against the likes of the Ford Fiesta and the Honda Jazz. It’s certainly made a name for itself in its segment, but the last thing you’d probably associate with the Micra is a premium sound system company like Bose. Then again, the auto industry is a business of never-ending surprises, and we were treated to one such surprise at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. Nissan brought with it the Micra Bose Personal Edition, a special edition iteration of the subcompact car that was developed to celebrate the collaboration between Nissan and, you guessed it, Bose.

There is some initial surprise in seeing a car like the Micra get the full Bose treatment, but once that first reaction wears off, you’ll be happy to know that the Micra Bose Personal Edition is actually a pretty interesting offering. Sure, Bose is heavily involved, particularly when it comes to the car’s sound system, but the car isn’t just about Bose either. It also has a choice of unique paint colors and a wide range of added accessories courtesy of the car’s very own personalization program.

Yep, the Nissan Micra has its own version of Porsche Exclusive or McLaren Special Operations, relative, of course, to the quality and price point of its segment. Oh, and while we’re at it, the Micra Bose Limited Edition also has a trove of tech and standard equipment, all thanks to the fact that the whole run of limited edition models – 3,000 in total – are based on the range-topping Tekna trim.

As far as cars with personalities are concerned, the Nissan Micra Bose Personal Edition makes no bones about what makes it special. You can point to the fancy-schematic color scheme or the aforementioned menu of tech and equipment, but at the end of the day, this limited run version of the Micra is all about Bose.

Continue reading to learn more about the Nissan Micra Bose Personal Edition.


PostHeaderIcon Ford Focus

The Ford Focus was first launched in the European marking in 1998 but came to North America for the 2000 model year as a replacement for the Ford Escort and its cousin, the Mercury Tracer. Despite being a “cheaper” model with goofy, bubbly headlights and a somewhat lackluster interior, the Focus was a big hit. The first generation model ran until 2004 and won more than 60 awards during its lifespan. It even found itself on Car and Driver’s Ten Best List. Ford has continued to improve on the looks and overall function of the Focus, and it is currently in its third generation, with a facelift taking place for the 2015 model year.

With the current generation being six years old, it’s not all that shocking that our spy photographers have caught what we believe to be the next-generation Focus out doing some cold weather testing. Oddly, it isn’t under any camo, and it looks quite similar to the facelifted Focus that debuted in 2015. Be that as it may, there are still some significant changes to mention – some that might be hinting that this mule is sporting an old, modified body as a decoy.

While the body may very well be a decoy, we can still make some predictions about the next-gen Focus. Take a little walk with me as I talk about what we see in the photos, and what we can expect when the next-gen Focus is unveiled sometime in the future.

Update 3/15/2017: We have received a second round of spy shots that show the next-gen Focus playing in the snow and on the ice. This time around, however, it’s sporting what appears to be the official body with lots of camo and padding to throw us off. Check out the exterior section below to learn all about it.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Ford Focus.


PostHeaderIcon 2017 Toyota Yaris Demonstrates How Auto Turnover Is Speeding Up

We all know competition in the auto world is absolutely ruthless these days. The pressure to make a sale is enormous, and that means each and every update has to be as effective as possible in order to keep a model afloat. For example, take the new Toyota Yaris. While technically just a mid-life refresh, this latest model year of the Yaris ushers in a slew of tweaks, refinements, and additions, which, taken as a whole, might qualify as a whole new generation just a decade ago.

It makes sense when you consider the Japanese brand has sold over three million of these things between 2001 and 2016. That’s a lot of Yarises (Yarii?), even when spread out across numerous major markets, including Europe, Africa, North America, the Middle East, and Asia.

Clearly, this subcompact hatchback is an important model for Toyota, and as such, the company invested some 90 million euros ($95.3 million) to improve it. Many of the updates take after the Vitz, the Yaris’ Japanese equivalent, and include new styling, more equipment, improved handling, new safety features, and an updated 1.5-liter gasoline engine. There’s also an optional hybrid powerplant on the table, with 40 percent of the models sold in Europe being hybrids.

In total, the update consists of some 900 individual new parts. Read on to see how they fit together and why this is more than a simple refresh.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Nissan Micra Receives Its First Special Edition In Geneva

Nissan has launched the first special edition for the fifth-generation Micra subcompact car. It’s called the Bose Personal Edition and it features some wild color accents on the outside, an even wilder interior color scheme, and of course, an upgraded Bose sound system. Nissan is making 3,000 examples available to Europeans starting in the summer of 2017.

The Bose Personal Edition is based on the Micra’s range-topping trim, the Tekna grade. Both the turbocharged 0.9-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine and the 1.5-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel will be available. But the drivetrain options aren’t the story. Rather is the attention-grabbing color scheme and blaring radio.

The Micra comes in a choice of Enigma Black or Gunmetal Grey – both accented by the bright Energy Orange stripes and wheel inserts. The orange color is also found on the side mirrors. Special badging on the B-pillar denotes this being a Bose Personal Edition.

Inside, the black interior is heavily brightened by the fiery orange color. The seats have orange accents along the bolsters and down the backrests. The Center console gets padded leather pieces colored in the stuff. Even the center dash section burns brightly with Energy Orange. Quite honestly, the finished product isn’t terrible looking. In fact, it adds quite the personality to Nissan’s little economy car.

But the biggest news is the stereo. It only uses six speakers but maximizes sound via Bose’s latest signal processing technology. “We engineered the Bose Personal sound system to deliver unexpectedly big sound from a limited number of components,” said Marc Mansell, VP at Bose Automotive Systems. “Using just six high-performance speakers and our latest signal processing technology, the system rewards Micra owners with a superior, fully-customizable audio experience unlike anything else available today.”

Beyond the stereo, the car includes navigation, Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Recognition, Traffic Sign Recognition, High Beam Assist, and Intelligent Lane Intervention. Options include Nissan’s Around View Monitor, heated front seats, and a spare tire.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Nissan Micra Receives Its First Special Edition In Geneva

Nissan has launched the first special edition for the fifth-generation Micra subcompact car. It’s called the Bose Personal Edition and it features some wild color accents on the outside, an even wilder interior color scheme, and of course, an upgraded Bose sound system. Nissan is making 3,000 examples available to Europeans starting in the summer of 2017.

The Bose Personal Edition is based on the Micra’s range-topping trim, the Tekna grade. Both the turbocharged 0.9-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine and the 1.5-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel will be available. But the drivetrain options aren’t the story. Rather is the attention-grabbing color scheme and blaring radio.

The Micra comes in a choice of Enigma Black or Gunmetal Grey – both accented by the bright Energy Orange stripes and wheel inserts. The orange color is also found on the side mirrors. Special badging on the B-pillar denotes this being a Bose Personal Edition.

Inside, the black interior is heavily brightened by the fiery orange color. The seats have orange accents along the bolsters and down the backrests. The Center console gets padded leather pieces colored in the stuff. Even the center dash section burns brightly with Energy Orange. Quite honestly, the finished product isn’t terrible looking. In fact, it adds quite the personality to Nissan’s little economy car.

But the biggest news is the stereo. It only uses six speakers but maximizes sound via Bose’s latest signal processing technology. “We engineered the Bose Personal sound system to deliver unexpectedly big sound from a limited number of components,” said Marc Mansell, VP at Bose Automotive Systems. “Using just six high-performance speakers and our latest signal processing technology, the system rewards Micra owners with a superior, fully-customizable audio experience unlike anything else available today.”

Beyond the stereo, the car includes navigation, Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Recognition, Traffic Sign Recognition, High Beam Assist, and Intelligent Lane Intervention. Options include Nissan’s Around View Monitor, heated front seats, and a spare tire.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon The Toyota i-TRIL Concept Is Like A Four-Wheeled Reliant Robin From 2030

I’m always eager to get the full rundown when the Japanese give us a brand-new concept car. Because while the Italians usually give us concepts that are beautiful, and the Germans usually give us concepts that are clever, the Japanese concepts tend to be way off the beaten path. The Toyota i-TRIL that just debuted at the Geneva International Motor Show is one good example. I mean, just look at it – weird, right? It’s like some kind of futuristic transportation bubble out of a cartoon. I half expect it to talk and have feelings. And although it’s not quite sentient, this machine does offer a few unique ideas about the future of urban and suburban mobility, from the way it handles the road, to the way it’s controlled, to the interior layout and use of space.

It also looks pretty wild, with an open-vee exterior shape that gets narrower as you move towards the rear. The i-TRIL was built by Toyota Motors Europe, working in collaboration with designers at the ED2 studio in Nice, and it’s framed as a “more engaging” environmentally friendly alternative to traditional EVs, public transportation, and motorcycles.

Who would buy this thing? Toyota says the target consumer is a “sophisticated, single, 30 – 50 year old active female with two children and a vibrant lifestyle.” This imaginary customer also lives in a “small to medium sized town,” which means the i-TRIL should be ideal for quick trips and short errands.

Read on for the specifics and the weirdness.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon The Toyota i-TRIL Concept Is Like A Four-Wheeled Reliant Robin From 2030

I’m always eager to get the full rundown when the Japanese give us a brand-new concept car. Because while the Italians usually give us concepts that are beautiful, and the Germans usually give us concepts that are clever, the Japanese concepts tend to be way off the beaten path. The Toyota i-TRIL that just debuted at the Geneva International Motor Show is one good example. I mean, just look at it – weird, right? It’s like some kind of futuristic transportation bubble out of a cartoon. I half expect it to talk and have feelings. And although it’s not quite sentient, this machine does offer a few unique ideas about the future of urban and suburban mobility, from the way it handles the road, to the way it’s controlled, to the interior layout and use of space.

It also looks pretty wild, with an open-vee exterior shape that gets narrower as you move towards the rear. The i-TRIL was built by Toyota Motors Europe, working in collaboration with designers at the ED2 studio in Nice, and it’s framed as a “more engaging” environmentally friendly alternative to traditional EVs, public transportation, and motorcycles.

Who would buy this thing? Toyota says the target consumer is a “sophisticated, single, 30 – 50 year old active female with two children and a vibrant lifestyle.” This imaginary customer also lives in a “small to medium sized town,” which means the i-TRIL should be ideal for quick trips and short errands.

Read on for the specifics and the weirdness.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Kia Picanto Shows its New, Sporty Face in Geneva

After six years on the market, the tiny Kia Picanto was redesigned from the ground up and unveiled in January 2017. Come March, and the hatchback aimed at the Hyundai i10 and Toyota Aygo made its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show.

Upgraded to the company’s new styling language, the new Picanto sports a more youthful design with more angular features. The “tiger-nose” grille adds a bit of aggressiveness up front, while the dual exhaust and diffuser-like element around back enhances the sporty appearance. The cabin gained higher quality materials and new tech, including a seven-inch touchscreen with navigation and optional Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Kia claims that the new hatchback offers “best-in-class packaging efficiency” and more legroom and headroom than more popular rivals in the A-segment.

Under the hood, the Picanto carries over with the 1.0-liter three-cylinder and 1.25-liter four-cylinder engines from the previous model, but with upgrades for improved efficiency and driveability. The 1.0-liter cranks out 66 horsepower and 96 Nm (71 pound-feet) of torque and uses a new exhaust manifold integrated into the cylinder head and a new cooling system with shut-off valve. The 1.25-liter delivers 83 horsepower and 122 Nm (90 pound-feet) of torque. This engine was upgraded with an optimized valve timing and new cooling system with shut-off valve. Later in 2017, the Picanto will also get a turbocharged 1.0-liter engine good for 99 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of twist.

Kia also made several upgrades in the safety department. With 44 percent of the body shell cast in Advanced High Strength Steel, the car is lighter but stronger, while torsional stiffness has been improved by 32 percent. Standard features include six airbags, Vehicle Stability Management, and Electronic Stability Control.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon This Renault ZOE Concept Is as Quick as the Lamborghini Huracán!

Often slammed for producing cheap cars that do not compare with premium offerings from Germany, Renault is one of the very few automakers that actually has a solid racing program. Involved in Formula One, endurance racing, as well as several single-seat or production-based series, the French carmaker builds a few outstanding performance vehicles. When it comes to road-legal cars, the Clio and Megane are the best RenaultSport products you can buy, and a third model based on the ZOE could be underway.

Launched at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, the ZOE e-sport concept is a standard hatchback on steroids in terms of both looks and performance. It’s like Renault used everything it learned from the Clio RS to build a pocket rocket, but this concept is different from any other performance model from the brand. What sets it apart? The drivetrain is electric.

Specifically, the ZOE e-sport concept draws on Renault’s three years of success in the FIA Formula E Championship and uses a similar drivetrain. Featuring a lightweight body structure made of carbon-fiber and two electric motors that deliver close to 460 horsepower and 640 Nm (472 pound-feet) of torque, the car accelerates from standstill to 62 mph in only 3.2 seconds. As in Formula E, an air-and-water cooling system with a front-mounted radiator is used to make sure that the battery and control systems operate at the ideal temperature, while the tubular steel chassis is based on those used by RenaultSport cars competing in hill climbs and ice races. The Öhlins four-way adjustable dampers are also borrowed from motorsport and can be adjusted to suit different tracks or driving styles, similar to those offered in the Renault Megane R.S. 275 Trophy-R.

The unique drivetrain is backed by a custom exterior wrapped in a livery that matches that of the Formula E Renault e.dams team. The Satin Blue body has flashes of bright yellow on the front bumper, mirror caps, and rear diffuser. The carbon-fiber finish bumpers, lip spoiler, and air intake surrounds, and the 20-inch diamond-cut aluminum wheels in black and Shadow Chrome complete the look. The interior was also transformed to reflect the sportier nature of the concept, receiving Recaro bucket seats and a rectangular steering wheel, both wrapped in Alcantara, blue accents, and aluminum trim.

Unfortunately, Renault didn’t say how these modifications affect the car’s 250-mile range

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Toyota Yaris GRMN Takes the Hot-Hatch Market by Storm

Introduced in 1999, the Toyota Yaris evolved into a strong competitor for the supermini market, gaining popularity thanks to its affordable sticker, roomy interior given the small size, cheap maintenance, and good fuel economy. But even though the Yaris has become significantly better with each generation, Toyota received a lot of heat for not developing a higher performance version. Now, critics can finally rest as the Japanese firm introduced the Yaris GRMN at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show.

Inspired by the Yaris WRC rally car built in cooperation with Gazoo Racing, the Yaris GRMN is the Volkswagen Polo GTi and Ford Fiesta ST competitor that Toyota enthusiasts have been requesting for years. Based on the 2017 upgrade for the standard Yaris, also unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, the GRMN has a sportier exterior highlighted by a unique front grille and foglamps, a more aggressive rear bumper with a center-mounted exhaust, a tailgate spoiler, and black and red paint accents. It also rides on 17-inch, BBS wheels.

Inside, the GRMN features sports seats designed for this car by Toyota Boshoku, a leather-wrapped steering wheel taken from the GT86, and aluminum sport pedals.

But arguably the most important feature of the car is the supercharged, 1.8-liter engine. Rated at “more than 207” horsepower and mated to a six-speed manual transmission, it promises to deliver “best-in-class times both for the sprint from nought to 100 km/h and acceleration from 80 to 120 km/h in fourth gear.” Specific data is not yet available, but the GRMN needs to hit 62 mph in less than 6.5 seconds for this statement to be true.

The drivetrain is backed by a custom, reinforced chassis with additional bracing, a suspension system tuned through extensive testing at the Nurburgring track with input from Gazoo Racing, and a Torsen limited-slip differential. Shorter springs, dedicated shock absorbers developed with Sachs, a larger diameter front stabilizer bar, and performance brakes round off the package.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon The new Suzuki Swift Is Lighter and More Fuel Efficient

Although not the best looking and most practical car out there, the Suzuki Swift has been a popular choice in some European market thanks to its affordable sticker and cheap maintenance. It has fallen a bit too far behind the competition in recent years, but the new-generation Swift that just made its European debut at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show should put Suzuki back on the map in the challenging subcompact hatchback segment.

As we learned back in December 2016 when the car made its global debut in Japan, the new Swift is a big step forward in terms of styling, following in the footsteps for the similarly sized Baleno. The hatchback also rides on new underpinnings that are about 15 percent lighter and provide better driving dynamics and help improve fuel economy.

The dated styling of the previous Swift is finally gone, replaced by modern features and an overall sportier stance. The smaller headlamps, the larger grille, and the dynamic looking front bumper give the Swift a front fascia that can stand out next to any other competitor in this segment. Although simple, the rear section feels fresh and practical at the same time, with the wider tailgate providing easier access to the trunk.

The cabin is also a big improvement over the previous design. The larger infotainment screen, the round A/C vents and the sportier instrument cluster make the Swift a nice place to spend time in. Tech includes a new infotainment system with Apple CarPlay connectivity, maps, music, and USB port.

As usual, motivation is provided by small-displacement engines, starting with the 1.2-liter Dualijet rated at 89 horsepower and 89 pound-feet. The 1.0-liter, three-cylinder Boosterjet with 109 horses and 125 pound-feet is available in the more expensive trims. Just like the Baleno, the Swift uses the SHVS mild hybrid system with lower emissions. Suzuki also introduced a revised version of its AllGrip Auto four-wheel-drive system, which transfers additional torque to the rear wheels when required via a viscous coupling.

Pricing is not yet available, but the new Swift goes on sale in the U.K. on June 1st.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Smart ForFour Crosstown Edition

Am I the only one who thinks that there’s something redeemable about the Smart ForFour? The four-door compact car hasn’t been as well-received as Smart would’ve liked, but it still has some qualities about it that make it an appealing choice for urban-goers. Say what you will about the ForFour, but you can’t deny that it has enough merits to warrant a special edition model, which is exactly what we’ll be getting when Smart brings the ForFour Crosstown Edition at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show.

I get the skepticism about the car; I really do. I get it that people think that it’s still too small for their liking. I get it that it’s still hilariously underpowered. I even get it that the car hasn’t changed much since the second-generation model was launched in 2014. All fair points, but give credit to Smart for not only soldiering on with the ForFour, but for also doubling down on it with the Crosstown Edition.

As you can expect, the special edition ForFour features a wide range of enhancements and packages, all of which were added to give the ForFour an exclusive look to it that the model rarely gets. Think of the ForFour Crosstown Edition then as a Smart catalog on four wheels that’s meant to showcase a lot of the equipment and appointments that usually come as added options on standard models.

The special edition ForFour doesn’t have any engine enhancements, so don’t expect anything in that regard. But there are some notable features elsewhere around the car, and in the absence of anything exciting happening under its modest hood, Smart makes up for it with some interesting upgrades both inside and outside of the ForFour Crosstown Edition.

So give it a look. You might end up liking it.

Continue reading to learn more about the Smart ForFour Crosstown Edition


PostHeaderIcon Ford Fiesta ST

The seventh-generation Ford Fiesta was launched in the summer of 2016 and arrived in dealerships for the 2017 model year. It’s been less than a year since the new hatchback broke cover, and Ford is already launching the performance-oriented ST version. Unveiled ahead of the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, the new hot-hatch will make its public debut at the Swiss event and join both European and North American markets shortly after.

Sporting the same styling language as the standard model, the new Fiesta ST arrives with a sporty exterior package and an interior that stands out by means of badge-specific features and extra standard equipment. The ST was also redesigned under the hood, where the previous four-cylinder engine was replaced by a three-pot unit. The new ST also features three drive modes, a first for the nameplate, and various modification to the chassis.

“Our next generation Fiesta ST is true to the philosophy of delivering cutting-edge technology to enhance every facet of the responsive Ford Performance chassis and powertrain,” said Joe Bakaj, vice president, Product Development, Ford of Europe. “With selectable Drive Modes and an all-new EcoBoost engine delivering an unprecedented combination of performance and fuel-efficiency, the new model will deliver the most versatile, fun, engaging and rewarding Fiesta ST driving experience yet.”

Although Ford revealed plenty of details about the car, there’s more to come at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, so make sure you stay tuned for updates.

Continue reading to learn more about the Ford Fiesta ST.


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