Tuesday, August 22, 2017

VW ID BUZZ, FROM CONCEPT TO PRODUCTION?



Volkswagen is committing itself to building a new version of the Microbus. Bumper2Bumpertv has more on the plan to put the ID BUzz on the road.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The 2018 Acura TLX, gets some needed upgrades



Acura has put some edge into the 2018 version of the TLX. Bumper2Bumpertv checks out what some of those changes in the Sport Sedan are.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Kia Forte



THE AUTO PAGE
By John Heilig


  • MODEL: 2017 Kia Forte5 SX 
  •  ENGINE: 1.6-liter turbocharged I-4 
  • TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automatic
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE 201 hp @ 6,000 rpm/195 lb.-ft. @ 1,500-4,500 rpm  
  • WHEELBASE: 106.5 in. 
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 171.3 x 70.1 x 57.1 in. 
  • TIRES: P225/40R18  
  • CARGO: 23.2/56.4 cu. ft. (rear seats up/down)  
  • ECONOMY: 25 mpg city/30 mpg highway/31.3 mpg test 
  • FUEL TANK: 13.2 gal 
  • TOWING CAPACITY: Not recommended 
  • CURB WEIGHT: 3,017 lbs  #/HP: 15.0  
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Nissan Sentra 
  • STICKER: $28,420 (includes $895 delivery, $3,725 options) 
  • BOTTOM LINE: The Kia Forte 5-door is a surprisingly comfortable for what is essentially a compact car. In addition, it has great cargo capacity.


          The calendar called for an extended rip to Virginia to see grandchildren (and children). The ride of the week was a Kia Forte 5-door, which is essentially a compact car in mid-size clothing. Meaning? It’s rated as a mid-size due to dimensions, but I thought it was a compact.
          Surprise! The Forte5 (there’s a sedan version as well) offered good ride quality with a minimum of road noise. Road noise was dependent on road surface. On concrete a significant amount of road noise entered the cabin, making enjoyment of the audio system and basic conversation difficult. However, on smoother road surfaces, the ride is essentially quiet. Therefore, engine noise is relatively non-existent, despite there being an inline four under the hood. 
          That engine has good power, thanks to a turbocharger on the 1.6-liter engine. A 2.0-liter engine is on non-SX trim levels. Total horsepower is 201, powering the front wheels through a 7-speed automatic transmission. Interstate operation is good. We could keep up with just about anything on the road. And for a change, my economy readings actually exceeded the EPA highway estimates.
          Handling is good on both straight and winding roads. We had our share of Interstate miles, but we also enjoyed a significant number of back country roads that were paved with gravel and dirt. 
          It seems that whenever we visit the children, we are carrying stuff back and forth. This weekend was no exception. Besides our luggage and golf clubs, we brought food down and used clothes up. We reached a point setting up for our homebound trip when I was looking for more stuff to load, which is very uncharacteristic of me. The advantage of the hatchback design is utility. It makes the Forte almost like a small SUV with a sedan personality.
          Front seats are comfortable. They were upholstered in black with red stripes on the sides. They offered good side support. In addition, they were heated and cooled. Despite driving in summer weather, I enjoyed the heat on my tired back. The HVAC system accommodated us well in the outside heat.
          The audio system was confusing. Among the sparse choices were AM, FM and Apple Play, but sometimes it was difficult to get my phone’s music files to work. And often when I shut the car off I had to go through the entire start-up procedure again. However, once I got everything up and running, tone quality was great. Also, phone conversations were clear, with the caller’s name and number displayed on the infotainment screen. 
          Blind spot detection was fairly standard with lights on the outside mirrors. The BSD beeps at you if you put your turn signal on when there is a vehicle there, and it’s very sensitive. Another good feature is that the outside mirrors fold when you lock the car. Our tester was also equipped with a rear cross traffic alert. 
          Besides the large cargo volume, there is a cubby at the base of the center stack that has USB, AUX and two 12-volt plugs. The center console/arm rest is small. There is room for water bottles in all four doors, plus three assist handles to aid in entry and egress.
          Rear legroom is tight, but there is a low center hump that might make riding in the middle position more comfortable. 
          The overall feeling is that the Forte5 is a comfortable car to drive and ride in. It offers a quality ride that is surprising in a small car.

(c) 2017 The Auto Page Syndicate 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Fiat 124 Spider



THE AUTO PAGE 
By John Heilig


  • MODEL: 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth
  • ENGINE: 1.4-liter I-4 
  • TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual  
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 164 hp @ 5,500 rpm/184 lb.-ft. @ 3,200 rpm 
  • WHEELBASE: 90.9 in 
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 159.6 x 68.5 x 48.5 in. 
  • TIRES: P205/45VR17 
  • CARGO CAPACITY: 4.9 cu. ft. 
  • ECONOMY: 26 mpg city/35 mpg highway/23.9 mpg test 
  • FUEL TANK: 11.9 gal.
  • CURB WEIGHT: 2,477 lbs.     LBS/HP: 15.1
  • TOWING CAPACITY: Not recommended
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Mazda Miata, BMW X4
  • STICKER: $33,184 (includes $995 delivery, $3,995 options)
  • BOTTOM LINE: The Fiat 124 Spider is true to the definition of a sports car; fun for two people with exhilarating performance. It is hampered by too much ambient noise with the top down, but why have a Spider if you don’t drive it with the top down?
  •  


          The first sports car I ever drove was a Fiat Abarth 500 with a Zagato double bubble top. It was during a car show at the old Roosevelt Raceway on Long Island and I was smitten that a car of that size could produce so much fun without going ridiculously fast. Constant readers will note that the first sports car I owned was an MGA roadster that engendered much of the same response as the Fiat, even though its was bigger and had a bigger engine. 
          Well, Fiat stopped selling cars in the US for a while, and MG is no longer a viable marque. 
          But Fiat is back, and their latest venture into sports cars is the 124 Spider. Now, I remember a Fiat 124 from “back in the day.” It was a 2+2 open-top sporty car and it was the first car I ever earned a perfect score in during a rally. Sadly, my navigator never actually registered us, so we missed out on a great prize, as I remember.
          This latest version of the 124 harks back to the old days of sports cars. It is a two-seater, slightly cramped, fun to drive and noisy. The Abarth exhaust system definitely has some influence on the exhaust note, which isn’t bad. 
          When I first saw the 124, I was reminded of the BMW X4. There’s also a strong hint of Mazda Miata in it, and there should be. The 124 is built by Mazda in Japan, with an Italian engine and just about everything else from Japan. I found the styling of the 124 more dramatic than the Miata, but Miata styling has become almost old hat by now. There are some significant differences between the two cars that gives the 124 its own character.
          The 124 uses a double wishbone front suspension and a multi-link rear. Handling is very good, and I enjoyed testing my nerve seeing how quickly I could go around corners without hitting the brakes. 
          Like true sports cars, it isn’t the power - 164 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque - but how you use it. The fun is in the handling. The suspension is firm, but the memories of sports cars past made it seem normal. The engine does get up to 6,000 rpm quickly. With the large center-mounted tachometer it is easy to see what you’re doing. The analog speedometer is a smaller dial off to the right. With its size and with the top down, it’s hard to read the speedo in sunlight, so behave.
          The transmission offers crisp shifts among well-chosen gears. The 124 can be driven “normally,” or as a true sports car with brisk acceleration.  
          As a Spider (or convertible), it’s critical that the top lower and raise easily. It can be accomplished with one hand and even from outside the car. With the top up, there is minimal wind noise. With it down, however, it is difficult to hold a normal conversation thanks to the combination of wind and exhaust noise. Consequently, we usually drove without talking or listening to the radio.
          The audio system is good and with a clear infotainment screen. However, in audio it’s easy to push the central controller and/or the volume with your arm if you’re holding on to the gear lever.
          Front seats are comfortable deep buckets that could be a challenge to a larger person. They are heated and in our tester had red inserts. There’s no glove box, but there is a small center console/arm rest between the seats. In the rear, again between the seats, is the “glove box.” This compartment holds the owner’s manual and an ersatz cupholder that fits in a slot on the transmission hump. The transmission hump has an extension of sorts on the right side that compromises passenger foot room somewhat. 
          Based on our sports car experiences of the past, my wife was happy to note that there was no hair messing during top-down drives. The seat backs are taller than we remembered and that provided a buffer. In addition, there is a wind diffuser panel between the seats.
          I welcome the Fiat 124 Spider back to America. True, it isn’t a true Italian sports car any more, but this Japanese-Italian hybrid still does the job well.

(c) 2017 The Auto Page Syndicate
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