The AMC Gremlin – An American Automotive Classic

1973 AMC Gremlin

1973 AMC Gremlin

The AMC Gremlin is definitely a late bloomer as it wasn’t as popular as it is today back when it was released in 1970. And even though it will probably never achieve a reputation as high and as prized as the 1966 Mustang, the AMC Gremlin will definitely remain a valuable piece of automobile history as it was once one of the most efficient hunchback cars back in the day.

The Gremlin’s performance is that of a very fast and an efficient car, as it would reach speeds of 60 MPH in only 8 seconds as it did with it’s first model. And although of course there are many cars out there today that can outperform the AMC Gremlin, this car is definitely a keeper if you manage to find one as it is considered an antique and can sell for a hefty price.

Gremlin Ornament

Gremlin Ornament

The Gremlin’s design was also one of the most recognized designs in all of the automobile world. It’s influence is felt even today as most of Toyota’s and Honda’s hatchback models greatly resemble the classic Gremlin.

The Gremlin was quickly released by AMC to beat Ford and General Motors to the subcompact punch, so to speak. To do so, AMC essentially chopped the back off the Hornet. Earning the designer Richard Teague and his Gremlin at spot on Time Magazine’s 50 Worst Cars List.

The Gremlin had even beat Ford and GM with their first model as the first model of the Gremlin was released in 1970 whereas Ford and GM’s model hatchbacks were released a year later.

The Gremlin has set the standard of how hatchback cars should perform and look like which is clearly evident even today as many modern hunchback models still continue to bear a striking resemblance to the AMC Gremlin.

Does The 2015 Toyota Tacoma Measure Up?

2015 Toyota Tacoma Boston Massachusetts

Does the 2015 Toyota Tacoma Still Measure Up?

There is no question that the Toyota Tacoma is the undisputed, reigning heavy weight champion of the mid-size pickup truck market. They have made a reliable, heavily-tested pickup that has stood the test of time and they have sold a lot of them.

Toyota Motor Sales reported total 2014 sales of 2,373,771 an increase of 6.2% year over year and the brand is clearly in drivers seat of the mid-size pickup. Toyota Tacoma has been the number one selling mid-size pickup for many years in a row but is the golden crown getting a little thorny?

With the release of the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado, GM certainly thinks so. The all-new Chevy Colorado is the first Colorado released since 2012 and it stacks up favorable against the 2015 Toyota Tacoma.

2015 Chevy Colorado MA

The All-New Chevy Colorado

Looking at the trucks head to head in terms of fuel-economy, engine output, and technology, the Colorado really embarrasses the Tacoma which is in serious need of an upgrade.  When you get behind the wheel of the Tacoma the suspension is wanting, the cabin is filled with engine and road noise, the fuel economy is lacking, the hydraulic steering is old-school,  and the Tacoma just feels nostalgic.

The inadequacy of the Tacoma has been hammered home even more these days with the Malcolm Butler Chevy Colorado award thanks to a selfless Tom Brady who is, at times, messianic himself.  By tying itself into the most watched American TV program of all-time, the execs at Chevrolet have given their new mid-size pickup an incredible boost.

Tom Brady Jesus

Tom Brady Looking Messianic

Now, Toyota will be the first to point out that the battle of the 2015 Chevy Colorado vs the 2015 Toyota Tacoma is not the appropriate matchup. Well, then what is the correct matchup? The Chevy Spark vs the Tundra? The Cruze vs the Land Cruiser?

Nope, according to Toyota the appropriate matchup will be the un-relased, un-manufactured, un-done 2016 Toyota Tacoma, ummmmm, ok.  The 2016 Tacoma Tacoma will have a new more fuel-efficient 3.5L V6 workhorse engine that produces more torque and horsepower than the current iteration. The interior will also receive upgrades to bring it more in line with the class of the Colorado.

But, in the interests of fairness, I think that the manufacturers capabilities and visions should be judged on a model-year to model-year comparison of vehicles that actually exist and are available for purchase.  And, right now, the 2015 Chevy Colorado has dethroned the 2015 Toyota Tacoma and is the king of mid-size pickups.

2014 Toyota Camry Boston Is Outgunned By Chevy Malibu

2014 Toyota Camry Massachusetts

2014 Toyota Camry v. 2014 Chevy Malibu

I will start this post with a moment of full disclosure so that there is complete clarity of perspective and no need for the reader to meticulously probe between the lines in an attempt to find a potential bias. I. Hate. Toyota.

That being said I still think that any logical individual, when presented with the facts in 2014 Toyota Camry v. 2014 Chevy Malibu will come to the conclusion that Camry Goliath has been courageously defeated by the David that is the Chevy Malibu.

Toyota Boston MA

2014 Toyota Camry Has Been Eclipsed By Chevy

In fact, the contest is not even close. In all of the important categories the Malibu outguns the Camry. The Malibu has better fuel economy than the Camry, it has a longer overall range than the Camry,  it is a much safer vehicle, the exterior is certainly more stylish, the interior is more modern and comfortable, and the ride is much smoother.

When presented with the facts, pared down to the basics it is very clear which car is better. Now I said better, not cheaper. If you want a cheaper car, go buy the Camry. It might save you $15 bucks a month. But is it worth it?

The main reason that Toyota has faltered in this battle of mid-size sedans, numbers and logic aside, is because the thrill is gone. The thrill is gone from the interior, the thrill is gone from the handling, the thrill is gone from the suspension, and the thrill has definitely gone from the design.

I am not the first person to come to the conclusion that the 2014 Toyota Camry Boston is beat out by the Malibu. Others have clearly felt this same passion.

Sitting in my morning commute, I look around and I don’t understand why 80+% of drivers chose the car that they chose. Why do so many people drive these Toyotas? Is it just about price? If that is all driving is about then go buy yourself a Prius and enjoy one of the worst driving experiences to come into existence since the 1987 Yugo.

soapbox

I am not saying that the 2014 Chevy Malibu is the best car on the road, I am just saying that drivers should consider alternatives to the staples that are on the road and consider trying different experiences in life.  Ok, I will step down from my digital soapbox now.

 

British Automaker David Brown Unveils Speedback GT

Speedback GT

Yesterday,  in London, David Brown finally unveiled his latest work of art, the Speedback GT, to high praise. The unique handcrafted Speedback GT is the product of 18 months of hard work by the British automaker.

According to Brown, “The launch of Speedback is the realization of a dream for me, and is the result of skilful and dedicated work by a team of highly talented designers, engineers and craftsmen. I am delighted at the reaction of the media, our suppliers, potential customers and friends, and I look forward to presenting the car to the public in Monaco.”

Aston Martin DB5

Aston Martin DB5

The seductive Speedback GT is the takes its cues from a long line of classic sports cars such as the Aston Martin DB5 and GTs such as the 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso.

Speedback

The Finely Crafted GT

In addition to the seductive lines, the Speedback GT also has impressive performance. The Speedback is built on the Jaguar XKR platform and is powered by a supercharged V8 paired with a 6 speed automatic gear box that goes from 0 to 62 MPH in just 4.8 seconds.

Speedback Interior

The New Speedback Interior

David Brown has a long background in automotive engineering but is actually of no relation to Aston Martin’s Sir David Brown.  According to Mr. Brown, “This car will appeal to anybody who desires a truly individual sports car, which can boast a fine British pedigree”

 

News From Geneva: The New 2015 Ferrari California T

2015 Ferrari California T

Turbocharged Ferrari California T

It’s official, Ferrari has, once again, been turbocharged. The first time since the classic F40, the Italian automaker has placed a turbocharged engine under the hood of one of its vehicles. The 2015 Ferrari California T comes with a 552 HP turbocharged V-8 engine.

Ferrari California T

552 HP Ferrari California

The 2015 Ferrari California T‘s twin-turbocharged V-8 produces an impressive 557 lb-ft of torque, an increase of 69-horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque over the previous California.  According to Ferrari,  the turbocharged California T can accelerate from 0-62 mph in just 3.6 seconds, and hit a top speed of 196 mph.

2015 Ferrari California T

Turbocharged California Interior

In addition to the engine upgrades, the 2015 Ferrari California T gets a new steering box, springs, and suspension. The new California is expected to carry a price tag of approximately $200,000.

 

Porsche Boxster & Cayman Get GTS Upgrades In 2014

Boxster GTS

The New Porsche Boxster GTS

In 2014 both the Porsche Boxster and Cayman will receive a Gran Turismo Sport (GTS) trim upgrade. The new GTS incarnations of these popular models are set to be unveiled at the New York Auto Show in April.

The sportier GTS trim levels will feature a more powerful drive train, cabin upgrades, and new styling treatments. The GTS badge has found its way onto many Porsche models over the years including the 924, 928 and 911 and now the Boxster and Cayman.

2014 Porsche Cayman GTS

2014 Porsche Cayman GTS

The Cayman GTS and Boxster GTS will both feature a 3.4L V6 powerplant that delivers an additional 15 HP and 7 ft lbs of torque. That increase in power places the Cayman at 340 HP and 280 lb-ft of torque and the Boxster at 330 HP and 273 lb-ft of torque.

Porsche Cayman GTS Interior 2014

The upgraded GTS interior.

The new Porsche GTS models can be easily differentiated from their counterparts by their stylish upgrades including darker 20″ wheels, xenon headlights, sport exhaust with black lettering and interior additions of sport seats and Alcantara accents.

Pricing for the Boxster GTS is set at $74,495, and comes in at $76,195 for the Cayman GTS. Both prices include a $995 destination charge.

Best Electric Vehicles & Hybrid Vehicles of 2014

Here at New England Automotive news we are excited with the rapid advances in the electric realm.  Manufacturers are releasing electric, diesel and plug-in hybrids at a break neck pace.   In this article we explore a some the best electric vehicles and best hybrid vehicles in this, increasingly competitive, segment.

1. Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X One of the Best Electric Vehicles of 2014

One of the most exciting electric releases of 2014 is the 2014 Tesla Model X. Based on the Model S platform, the 2014 Tesla Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV) is slated for release by the year’s end.

According to Tesla designers, the concept behind the Model X was to create a vehicle more stylish than a minivan yet more functional than an SUV.  The innovative minds at Tesla Motor Co. have certainly accomplished that feat.

The 2014 Model X can accelerate from 0 to 60 MPH in a mere 4.4 seconds. There may never be a minivan that can match that level of torque.  In fact, that is faster that the Porsche 911 Carrera.

In terms of the style, the Model X is sleek with stylish yet functional falcon-wing doors that are sure to turn heads. With pricing expected to be  in the $60,000 to $80,000 Tesla will likely have the edge over competitors such as Audi, whose Q8 e-tron is expected to carry a stick of $130,000.

2.  BMW i3

BMW i3 2014

2014 BMW i3 – Best Electric Vehicles

The Ultimate Driving Machine goes electric with the release of the 2014 BMW i3. The exciting new release from Bayerische Motern Werke will carry a price tag of $42,275 and a range of 125 miles, according to the German manufacturer.

The i3 is manufactured from a carbon fiber body which makes the vehicle light, the ride very firm, and the electric range substantial.  In fact, the new BMW is actually lighter than the Nissan Leaf.

The interior of the BMW EV is quite spacious and modern with larger information screens, funky trim materials, and a minimalist feel.  However, quirky gear selector and scissor doors seem to be unnecessary, if not poor, design decisions.

Overall strong handling, a comfortable cabin, a firm sports car feel make the i3 a must drive for customers in the electric vehicle market.

3. Ford Fusion Energi (plug-in hybrid)

Best Electric Vehicles of 2014

The New Ford Fusion Plug-In Hybrid

In 2013 Ford released the Fusion Energi and its companion vehicle the C-MAX Energi to much industry acclaim. The new Fusion Energi combines stylish Aston-Martinesque looks with a fuel efficient engine and modern interior amenities earning it a spot on our list.

The 2014 Fusion Energi is a plug-in hybrid that utilizes a lithium ion battery in conjunction with gasoline to produce 100MPGe combined.

The new Fusion comes equipped with the advanced SYNC infotainment system, adaptive cruise control, and active park assist that make driving this vehicle a pleasure.

With a price tag under $40k with tax credits and incentives, the Fusion Energi presents and affordable option for consumers looking to combine luxury and fuel economy.

4.  Volkswagen e-Golf

Best Electric Vehicles of 2014

The Volkswagen e-golf available in late 2014

One of the most popular selling cars in the world, the Volkswagen Golf, has gone electric with its release of the e-Golf that will be hitting American dealerships by late 2014.

The e-Golf is a stylish, compact, and efficient release by Volkswagen. It runs on a Lithium Ion battery that provides a 93 mile range and acceleration from 0-60 MPH in approximately 11.8 seconds.

One advantage the Volkswagen e-Golf has over its competitors is cargo room. The designers at VW wisely placed the lithium battery beneath the seating, leaving ample trunk space for longer trips and errands around town.

The new VW e-car is one the best electric vehicles on the market and can fully charge in about 4 hours or charge to 80% in about 30 minutes on a DC unit. In terms of pricing, the e-Golf will compete with the Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus.

Honorable Mentions:

5. Cadillac ELR

6. Porsche Panamera Plug-in S E-Hybrid

7. Kia Soul EV

2017 Ford Focus Coming Soon

New Ford Focus 2017

It’s hard to believe but the best selling nameplate on the market is the Ford Focus. Ford has sold an impressive 12 million units since it launched in 1998. The Dearborn automaker will be fully redesigning one of its best selling vehicles, the Ford Focus.  The new Ford Focus is slated for release in 2017.

The Ford Focus just underwent a refresh for 2015 (picture below) bringing the style in sync with the current Fusion and Fiesta models. In addition to a style upgrade, the new Ford Focus received an updated suspension and a new 3 cylinder EcoBoost engine, improving fuel economy.

2015 Ford Focus

Refresh of the Ford Focus for 2015

The new Ford Focus redesign was leaked by Ford’s Vice President of Global Production, Raj Nair, who declined to release too many details but did note that the Focus’s current sleek look will remain. Buyers should look to the new Ford Mustang for design cues on new 2017 Ford Focus. 

Ford Focus drivers have traditionally characterized as practical drivers who seek value and stronger fuel economy. But, according the Nair, “Design is still critical. Owners talk about rational reasons for purchase but a fair percentage buy for emotional reasons like styling.”

Here at New England Automotive News we look forward to the release of the fourth generation Focus.