Car bore post, February 2010
Today I saw a Chevrolet Cruize in the wild. That is, such a car without manufacturer’s plates and that probably wasn’t on a test drive or anything. Oddly, I’ve seen its sibling Volt in the wild before it was supposed to be on sale. Each remain the only one I’ve seen, however.
You can’t say Marchionne isn’t trying. Getting rid of the curious styling decisions of the old Chrysler is to be applauded. It’s only a start. He fixed Fiat. We’ll have to wait and see how the mechanical differentiation works out. I’m hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst. If I can find the time, and I won’t, I would like to head out to the Fiat dealer and see what they’re up to and smell the Cinquecento for the first time.
Have they even opened yet? Fiat of Austin intends to open on March 1st.
I really don’t know how Cinquecento going to do in America. I suspect it will be the chick Mini in short order, which isn’t fair. I’ve already heard “Fee Yacht”. Please, pronounce it as in fiat lux. If they tool up for a Panda variant of the platform, I hope it becomes available under either Chrysler or Dodge. I still like the names Chrysler Metropolitan and Dodge Dart.
Ford is kicking ass. They’re the new default brand following Toyota’s woes. We’ll see if they can keep it up. I still can’t believe they’re letting the Ranger go away without a direct replacement; no the Transit Connect isn’t it. Look at that Fusion. Or rather, look at that Fusion sell. I’ve only seen a couple of Fiestas in the wild in the several months its been available. I suspect the cynics, and not me, were right about that one.
About the current American trim levels: They no longer list, at a bargain price, a vehicle kitted in a way a car dealer would never, ever order it. I like base-level cars. I like as little BS as can be provided. There is not what I would consider a base-level Chevrolet Cruize, for instance. I don’t know how they are going to move those to fleets, or is the plan to move fleets to the smaller cars? That might not be a terrible idea. When I deluded myself into thinking I was willing to part with the money for an authentically new car the Ford Fusion S was an entry on my list. For all points and purposes, that model may as well not be available.
I am enjoying my tough and spirited 2004 Corolla. I like that the engine cannot transmit excessive torque to the front wheels, because of the nature of the torque converter. I still like the ergonomics and relatively sparse equipment level. I like the unrefined nature of the ZZ engine including how it lets me know it is there. Until I’m looking for it in the grocer’s parking lot, I like how anonymous it is. Aside from the noise created by the monocoque over 50 miles-per-hour, which is very nearly intolerable in long stretches, I am actually enjoying my little puddle jumper.
That phrase may have to be moved to even smaller cars as the C-segment becomes, as predicted in these pages, the dominant vehicle segment even in North America. The Cruize and whatever replaces the Caliber are critical. The question to ask in development is: How can these cars be both “better” and a better value proposition than Corolla, Civic and Elantra.
Yes, I said it. Hyundai has brand integrity among common non-car-bore Americans unimaginable five years ago. They got a hell of a team over there and We have to beat them.