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Dec 172009
 

Daniel Lewis

As the year of 2009 nears its end, there are a number of  cars to look forward to next year. The cars below are some of the cars that are likely to excite both automotive consumers and those who are in the automotive industry. Which new cars in 2010 are you waiting to hear about?

Sports Coupe: 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe

2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe
The Cadillac CTS Coupe was officially unveiled on November 23rd, 2009. In 2008, the Cadillac CTS was supposed to be the model to uplift the Cadillac brand. It looks like Cadillac is on the ball again, launching their next two-door vehicle since 2002. The only parts that the CTS coupe shares with the sedan are the instrument panel, console, headlamps, front fenders and grill. Another thing that makes this generation’s CTS apart from others is the optional between RWD and AWD. This will definitely be a Cadillac to check out.

Hybrid/Electric Car: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
With the current mid-sized hybrid sedan market ruled by Toyota and Honda, it is always refreshing to see how other manufacturers answer back. So what you ask did Hyundai do, to take their Sonata one step further? Current hybrids use nickel metal hydride batteries, where as the Sonata will use lithium polymer batteries. Hyundai states that the lithium batteries weigh 30% less, have a 50% less volume, and are 10% more efficient. It will be interesting to see how this new battery, from LG Chem, will hold up against nickel batteries.

Compact Car: 2011 Mazda 2

2011 Mazda2
In 2008, the Mazda 2 was awarded World Car of the Year. Why do most of us not know/remember this? Well, apparently, World Car of the Year, was not good enough for sale in the U.S., mostly because Mazda thought that such a small car would not offer much profitability. Well, with the boom in sales from Nissan’s Versa, and Honda’s Fit (and also partially due to the economy and rising gas prices), Mazda was definitely pounding their foreheads on that decision. It makes one wonder, is Mazda 2 late?

Exotic Car: 2011 McLaren MP4-12C

2011 McLaren MP4-12C
When McLaren teamed up with Mercedes to build supercars, they awed us all with the McLaren F1 and the SLR. That was the past, and the future will be without Mercedes-Benz. McLaren is now their own automotive division. So what does the McLaren MP4-12C offer that the Ferrari 458 Italia or Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 doesn’t? The entire frame is one piece, which makes it lighter and more rigid. We can’t wait to see how the McLaren will compete against Ferrari and Lamborghini.

Luxury Car: 2011 Hyundai Equus

2011 Hyundai Equus
Hyundai did great things with the Genesis sedan, which went after the Lexus GS and Mercedes E-Class. We are hopeful to once again be surprised by Hyundai’s quality, that will excel the Equus above the Lexus LS, Mercedes S-Class, and the rest of its competitors. Hyundai may have to bring back that commercial of different “manufacturer executives” yelling the name Hyundai.

SUV: 2011 Land Rover LRX

2011 Land Rover LRX
With India’s Tata Motors recently purchasing Land Rover and Jaguar, it will be interesting to see Tata’s future plans for these automotive brands. Apparently, the 2011 Land Rover LRX will be Land Rover’s first more fuel efficient Land Rover.

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Sep 132009
 

feature_by_johnchoi

versa01

Introduction

With so much talk about the environment, the recent “cash for clunkers” program and the health of the car industry in general, the products themselves get lost in the brouhaha. The focus on function and overall value for money is getting lost in the flood of talk about prices and rebates. With that being said, some cars are worth a deeper look for their intended purposes. The Nissan Versa happens to be such a vehicle.

Let’s just get this out of the way. The Versa isn’t going to win any beauty contests and it isn’t going to set hearts aflutter with excitement. Rest assured, however, that Nissan offers other models which will do exactly that – the 370Z and GT-R, to name a couple. But what may be lacking in the excitement department is made up for in the utility department, with a deceptively spacious cabin and a hard-working 1.8L 4-cylinder engine that delivers good fuel economy.

Positives

versa_at_speed

  • The CVT (constantly variable transmission) works well and always seems to be in the right gear at the right time
  • Although the 4-banger produces only 122bhp & 127lb-ft of torque, it FELT faster on freeway on-ramps and getting away from stoplights than vehicles with more power

versa02

  • The interior is spacious, able to hold four 6′ adults with ease
  • Options added to our tester included XM satellite radio, Bluetooth hands-free calling and keyless entry / ignition; all added up to a level of civility that we normally expect from higher priced vehicles
  • Crash safety is addressed through airbags all around, including side curtain airbags for rear passengers
  • Standard tire pressure monitoring system takes all the guesswork out of wondering if the tires are up to proper pressure
  • EPA fuel economy is stated at 27mpg city / 33mgh highway, we achieved a solid 29mpg with lots of stop-and-go city driving thrown in for good measure

Negatives

  • Under full throttle, the engine and tranny seemed to groan & strain, with an accompanying level of noise; the Honda Fit’s engine / tranny combination feels smoother and quieter in comparison
  • Our SL trim level tester starts off at $16,333 and comes in at $19,110 as equipped, including destination & handling charges, which is higher than what we’d normally pay for a vehicle in this class
  • Fit and finish compared to the Honda counterpart doesn’t seem up to par
  • Yes, there is a trunk / cargo area but it’s not really big enough to hold a week’s worth of groceries
  • There’s decent on-center feel in the steering but overall steering feel is a bit lazy

Overall, we feel the Nissan Versa makes a good commuter or a first time car. We must point out, however, the premium one must pay for the SL trim seems high, especially when comparing it to a comparably equipped Honda Fit – and at $18,000, the Honda comes equipped with a navigation system. If you opt to take a look at the Versa, we recommend the S trim level. Sure, it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of its more expensive brother – the 15″ alloy wheels, for example – but it comes with the same 1.8L engine, same 6 airbag safety system and a 6-speed manual transmission (the 4-speed automatic is optional) for $13,110. If you want an even  more economical alternative, then the Versa sedan is worth a look (starts at $9,910), although we feel the price premium for the hatchback is well worth it from an aesthetic standpoint.

Sourcebox

Nissan North America
P.O. Box 685003
Franklin TN 37068-5003
(800) NISSAN-1

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