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Car bore post, February 2010

Saturday, 12 February, 2011

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.

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3 Comments
  1. Graeme permalink
    Tuesday, 15 February, 2011 15:35

    I will be interested to see what happens with the Fiat, too. I have heard women coo over it, but we’ll see if they actually part with the money for one.

    It’s going to be one hell of a transition for Chrysler, and I will love it. Their stupid macho bullshit styling just screamed desperation to me. Fine. I get it. Your station wagon has a muscular ass. No, I don’t want a sniff. I am not a dog, and, the longer I bond with my cats, the less inclined I am to ever own one.

    I am still pissed we didn’t buy a couple thousand shares of F when it was under $2. It’s going to haunt me until my fucking dying day.

    In other news that will probably be of interest to you, we are heading to NYC at the end of March. One of my primary objectives for the trip is to check out Shake Shack. I simply have to know whether or not it lives up to the hype.

    We tried a new burger place that’s in the middle of nowhere here in CA. It’s along our route to get to Kirkwood, where we have our ski passes. It’s called Webster’s, and it’s in an old A&W structure. The A&W bear still adorns some of the signs & other flourishes. It was mediocre, but everything was fresh & the young woman working the walk-up window was genuinely nice. How refreshing to deal with a teen who isn’t reflexively surly! (Would that I could get over that same impulse even now.) There were also chickens pecking in the grass on either side of the place: http://www.yelp.com/biz/websters-country-burger-drive-in-rstrnt-clements

    It is no competition for the 88 Giant Burger, where a small fry feeds both of us with about 1/3 left over. And they’re GOOD steak fries! http://www.yelp.com/biz/88-giant-burger-to-go-pine-grove

    Next trip we’re going to try this place:
    http://maps.google.com/maps/place?cid=476148102640018193&q=Sequoia+Drive-In&hl=en&cd=1&cad=src:ppiwlink,view:smartmaps&ei=4fBaTbaDGYawpQTU57S4Cg&dtab=2

    It looks, based on the new sign, like they changed their name to Mr. Beefy’s. Tell me that’s not promising!

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  2. Graeme permalink
    Wednesday, 16 February, 2011 12:15

    I forgot to mention we were a little surprised to learn Honda is discontinuing our Element. Sells like hotcakes in SF. It’s the perfect vehicle for us, as it has AWD, it’s flexible as hell inside with tons of room, yet it’s still easy to park in a city that’s not easy to find parking in!

    But I understand there is more competition in this space. I see the Cubes, etc. Oh well. Ours is paid for, and it should last us quite some time at the pace we put the mileage on. The dealer is begging us to buy tires & accelerating the maintenance schedule (we were at 29k when we got the 36k service). Heh!

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    • Wednesday, 16 February, 2011 15:29

      Shake Shack? Shake Shack! Oh lordy. Yes, please. I’m imagining Five Guys with pretention rather than peanuts and potatoes. Only the objectivity of a HD-style review can determine for sure.

      So much drama in Detroit and Europe, I missed the cancelation of the Element. Austin was also positively crawling with them in the first few years. In Soichiro’s day there would have been a new one by 2009, but I suppose Honda is simply abandoning that space. Somebody should make such a vehicle intended for the folks north of thirty who actually buy them despite the light-up speakers. Then again, the Louisville-built C-max will be here soon.

      Because its a Honda, and because you live in the land rust forgot, you may drive it until it is retro and a desired collectable.

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