We were very lucky with the California weather when we had this 2014 Nissan 370Z Convertible on loan. We had plenty of opportunity to drive it with the top down, on local roads and even on the freeways. This version had an automatic gearbox with the option of using the flippers for gear change mounted behind the steering wheel. Continue reading
Former BMW Head of Design Chris Bangle discusses how to design innovative cars in time where where all automobiles look the same. This is illustrated with examples from his daring career as a chief designer at BMW whose work has provoked endless discussion.
The top of the line Hyundai Equus and Azera are really good cars, with distinctive styling, excellent quality and performance. They’re just… still ‘only’ a Hyundai.. Well, for people who were pondering this question, how to own something this good looking and with this status, but reluctant to buy foreign, Korean, or Hyundai, Chevrolet has the answer for you: The 2014 Chevrolet Impala.
It was unfortunate for this new Mitsubishi Outlander that I had just come off of a week experiencing the Kia Cadenza. The new Mitsubishi was actually $2,000 more expensive than the Kia, albeit in a totally different category of course. But thanks to that unfortunate coincidence it really brought to the front what is wrong with Mitsubishi at the moment. Continue reading
The 2014 Cadillac ATS is very comparable to the Lexus IS350 we recently evaluated. It has a similar size, similar audience and similar sticker price. The design of this ATS falls very much in line with the current design language of Cadillac, as we’ve seen in both the El Miraj concept and the XTS4 we also reviewed recently.
Text and photos by Cor Steenstra
As you could read in the previous article on this Camaro, we had our fair share of impressions from driving it around. It was so ‘in your face’ that people never held back in sharing their opinion on it, mostly in awe, and only from the other owners critique on the facelift of the rear.
All in all, it is clear that the front end facelift of this Camaro is a success. It fits well within the design theme of the car, is less retro, clearly more modern, but still clearly in line with the overall design theme. It was also very recognizable as a new face, which means it will lead people to the showroom. That is very good.
The lower rear bumper did an excellent job of hiding the underbody of the car, something the previous version was sadly lacking. That looked like underpants that were pulled up too high on a less than nice buttocks. Nothing sexy about that. This is well resolved here. The rear deck lid had issues. I don’t know if it was just our test car, or if it was due to that rear spoiler mounted too tightly, but in the center of the rear deck was definite dip, something that does not belong on a $49,900 car.
After publishing an iBook on the new Chevrolet Corvette StingRay in early February, with this book it is the intention to make full use of the available technologies for iBook publishing. That means that aside from supplying all available information on the SRT Viper and its history, the iBook will feature HD videos plus interactive 3D models of the car.
This requires quite a substantial amount of work, and to get it just right some advance funding is needed. Specifically to create the interactive 3D content for the book, an accurate and up to date detailed model of the SRT Viper in its various guises for street and track usage, I am commissioning a 3D modeler, who is an expert in this. It will take him 2 weeks to get the model done in the variations I want, and have them converted to iBook configuration.
Meanwhile I have been and am gathering and creating text, imagery and video content, but I do that on my own accord.
I expect the project to be finished well before the Christmas shopping starts, so that people who donate can get the rewards in time for their gift giving.
There is no risk involved. As the previous publications prove, it can be done within the set time frame, and the return on investment is naturally a copy of the actual book, as well as the previous published iBooks, depending on level choice of participation.
Oh my… I have been driving the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro SS around.. Pheeewww…
OK.. To start off with.. A bright yellow car, looking like it is racing even when standing still, and with a very deep, very aggressive exhaust note, is bound to attract the attention of every police officer anywhere. So driving this, you have to clearly stay under any speed limit, since you already look like you’re going faster than you are. That kind of limits the fun you can have with the car to just plain accelerating at the entrance of a freeway, until you reach the speed limit. There is no law yet against fast acceleration if it is done safely.
Then, driving it to various shooting locations, you have enthusiastic children, as young as 5, running up to the car screaming “Bumblebee!!!!!” Of course their parents follow and of course they have to impress their kids and start a conversation with the guy who drives Bumblebee, so they can be cool when they bring their kids to bed that night. Clearly, that marketing campaign through the Transformers movie franchise is paying off. It is a very recognizable product.
Then I took it to. Cars & Coffee in Irvine on Saturday morning. The crowd there is car nuts, so don’t even try to tell them anything.. There were of course plenty of people just looking at it, asking if it was the latest 2013 version, and when they found out it was newer than that they were impressed. There were also plenty of other Camaro drivers there, with either their classic Camaros or their more recent ones. Nobody had the 2014 when I was there, so they all came to look and talk, and judge.. Among that specific crowd they all agreed that the front end was much better, much more aggressive, more modern, just a real big improvement.
The rear though could not find approval with them at all. With Chevrolet having created that distinctive rear light unit before, this more neutral, simple rectangle block with just a hint of the two squares from the original, was just too slicked off. The fact that the rear bumper now does cover the nasty bits underneath the car was a plus, but did nothing to convince them that the back end was better than theirs.
From what I heard, I would not be surprised to see quite a few of the current owners put the new front end on their cars, but leave the rear as it is.
The most shocking experience with the bumblebee was when I picked my daughter up from Middle School. The car drew so much attention from the nosy and the male parents there, that when she came to the car, she was totally embarrassed. She literally had to push her way to the trunk to put her stuff in, and then answer questions from boys that normally never talk to her. Your dad has a cool car, can I take a picture of the car? Move aside then.. LOL.. Oh my.. The perils of a twelve year old…
Text and photos by Cor Steenstra
A long time ago I was designer at Mercedes-Benz in Germany. During that time we were working on the W220 project, which, to us, had to set new standards in quality and design. Not only did we want to get away from that bulk and bland current S-Klasse, we wanted it to have an excellent fit and finish, better than we had seen before on a Mercedes production car.
Of course the engineers were vehemently stating that what was currently there was the best possible, and that nothing could ever be done to improve on that. German engineers being German engineers, everyone believed them, even though in our hearts we knew better. How can you doubt a German engineer? How can you change his mind? How can you prove him wrong?
Enter the first generation Lexus LS!!!! It had tight shut lines that we could only dream of, surfacing quality as in a dream, and the ride and road holding were simply beyond par. We used and abused that Lexus LS in order to convince management that changes were possible, that engineering had not tried hard enough, and we got our way.
I hope something similar is going on at Lexus, in this case about design and creating a design identity. I hope they are dragging in this Kia Cadenza and other more recent Kia’s as examples of how to do that. If they have not, if they snubbed their noses at it, they are so wrong.
Kia has managed to create not only a complete series of cars with quality levels that can hold their own against the best, they have also completely changed their design identity. They went from stale anonymous to recognizable, sporty, dynamic, elegant and desirable within a few short years. Hats off to Kia. What Lexus has been struggling with since its inception, and in particular the last few models, Kia achieved rather easily.
This Kia Cadenza as we had it was clearly not a new Lexus IS350, and clearly not a Cadillac ATS. The Cadenza did not have leather on the IP nor did it have a sporty suspension set up. The Cadenza however, was much more spacious than both of them, had a very smooth and sultry 6 cylinder engine, had an excellent ride, had a build quality that was fully on par with the Lexus and Cadillac and, oh yeah, it was about $16,000 less expensive.
Design wise the exterior was a very well designed, well balanced, dynamic looking luxury sedan, with a face that easily stood out in the crowd, but was not vulgar, nor did it attempt to conjure up false images of cultural connections. It was simply good, very good. The Cadenza is not a head turner, nor was it intended to be, and neither were the ATS nor the IS350.
I finally was able to go and see the long awaited and much hailed Ron Howard Formula 1 epic about the rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt, culminating in the fight for the 1976 Formula 1 world championship.
This was very dear to my heart, since back in 1976 I was following Formula 1 very intensely. From the 1973 Dutch a Grand Prix, in which Roger Williamson so tragically lost his life, I was getting more and more involved with it. I started building the Tamiya 1/12 scale models, which were so accurate that I could actually measure them down, in exacting detail, to draw them myself, and based on that information started to design my own Formula 1 cars from chassis, suspension through to engine, gearbox, aerodynamics.
It was a very exciting time, since everything was still so in its infancy, and innovations were relatively easy to come up with. I loved that pioneering era, and it had a profound influence on me and my career. Niki Lauda, and his analytical approach, his drive for perfection, his skill to work through problems and come out victorious, also were guiding lights for me.
So it might be obvious that I was really looking forward to this movie. Having been skeptical about Hollywood being able to capture F1, unless some really passionate people were involved like way back when in the movie Grand Prix, and knowing maybe a little too much about the specific era, I held my breath as I saw all the previews heralding James Hunt as the playboy ‘wunderkind’ full of pure talent, able to beat the best, the man he never was. Continue reading