Posts Tagged ‘subcompact cars’

The 2016 Mazda Miata is Finally Here

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

driving matters

Today’s the day. The fourth-generation 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata is finally here. Across the web, a flood of “first drive reviews” have been published within the last 24 hours. And, Mazda’s given us an intriguing promotional video to kick off the roadster’s career…

Lots of automakers claim that their sports car offers drivers a 50/50 weight distribution between the front and back, but few of them actually go to the trouble to prove it. How do you prove a 50/50 weight distribution, you ask? Easy – you put it on a perfectly balanced fulcrum scale to see if it stays level. And that’s exactly what Mazda did:

Wow – not only is the new Miata perfectly balanced, it’s also the lightest-weight version of the car we’ve had since the original 1990 version with a curb weight of just 2,332 lbs.

Okay, so the 2016 Mazda MX-5 is a piece of sheer engineering genius. Got that. The question is, does that mechanical prowess translate into on-road performance? Does the new generation of the most iconic sports car of the past quarter-century live up to the hype?

Short answer, yes.

Here are a few of the “first drive” reviews across the web:

Jalopnik says that “even though it has 12 fewer horsepower than the last [Miata], it’s faster. And more nimble. And more comfortable. And better. Better in every conceivable way. This is easily the best performance car you can buy for less than $30,000.”

High praises, but that’s just the beginning.

2016 Mazda MX-5 manufactured

For their part, Car and Driver were most impressed with the car’s similarity to the 1990 version of the Miata… Not just in size and weight, but in the euphoric driving experience the car offers. Throughout their review, they echo the sentiment of Jalopnik… Everything is better, from the cockpit to the engine to the design to the drive.

Yahoo Autos was the first to identify a ‘con’ in the 2016 Miata. Yep, they rightly pointed out that the car makes “all the sacrifices necessary to make it a pure driver’s machine.” But then again, Yahoo’s biggest pro for the car is that it’s “a pure driver’s machine, at a blue-collar price,” so this ‘con’ is tongue-in-cheek at best. Our favorite part of Yahoo’s review is where they list the Scion FR-S, Subaru BRZ and “the death of fun” as the car’s biggest competitors.

Are you starting to get the picture? According to all major sources, the 2016 Mazda Miata absolutely lives up to the hype… And then some.

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2010 Fiat 500

2010 Fiat 500

Although the Fiat 500 isn’t technically a roadster in the same way that the Miata is, it’s still one of the sports car’s biggest competitors currently on the road.

2010 Fiat 500 rear

It isn’t so much that the cars are in the same segment, but that they attract the same niche of drivers… Drivers who want something fun and emotional to drive, unique to look at, and budget-friendly.

2010 Fiat 500 interior

This is a 2010 model year, which would make it the third model year after the car’s 2007 revival. It’s actually in superb condition for being five years-old with an auction rating of 4.5, a total of four minor blemishes on the exterior, and an A-grade interior to boot. You can get more details from the auction sheet translation below:

2010 Fiat 500 auction sheet

“Interior A, first registered February 2010, 1.4 16V Lounge model, AT, AAC, original AWs, power steering, power windows, leather, airbag, one owner, service book, HDD navigation system with digital TV and DVD playback, reversing camera, AM 16 inch AWs, half-leather seats, electrical opening, chrome mirror covers, 2 x keyless keys, spare key, first time in auction, some service history (5 pages), official dealer RHD import, interior trim has minor scratches, wheels scratched, marks as per map”


2015 Toyota Aygo X-Cite Version Has Us Excited

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, May 30th, 2015

2015 Toyota Aygo X-Cite

Toyota is offering a new X-Cite version of their Aygo subcompact hatchback for the 2015 model year.

As you can see, arguably the most noticeable new feature in the Aygo X-Cite is the addition of the new Cyan Splash exterior color. That striking blue is accented with a Piano Black grille, Bold Black side mirror covers, and Glossy Black five-spoke 15” alloy wheels. Yeah, that’s a lot of different kinds of black. Of course, the wheels also get some fancy Cyan Splash center caps to complete the look.

Apparently, the X-Cite will also be available with a blacked out roof in some select European markets (pictured below).

2015 Toyota Aygo X-Cite Bicolor

The Cyan Splash color-scheme splashed its way into the interior as well, and we have to admit, we like it. The bright blue accents around the seats, doors, floor mats and air vents are vibrant, but not overbearing… They really seem to breathe life into the cabin. The extra color makes the car feel youthful and fun, despite a relatively minimalistic design.

2015 Toyota Aygo X-Cite interior

However, even though the cabin looks minimalistic, it will be available with more features than ever for the 2015 model year. For example, the Toyota Aygo is now available with Toyota’s trademark Safety Sense suite of active safety technologies, including Pre-Collision System, which monitors vehicles in front of the car and automatically brakes if collision is imminent, and Lane Departure Alert, which you probably don’t need an explanation for.

2015 Toyota Aygo X-Cite rear

Altruistically, Toyota recognizes that “it is only when such advanced safety systems are in widespread use that they can have a real impact on the reduction of traffic accidents and fatalities.” So, to contribute to the cause they’re going to make sure the Toyota Safety Sense add-on is available at a “highly competitive price”.

Thanks Toyota!

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2014 Toyota Auris

2014 Toyota Auris

Unfortunately, there are none of the new-generation Toyota Aygo models up for auction at the time of this writing. But, there are several of the hatchback’s big brother available – meet this 2014 Toyota Auris.

2014 Toyota Auris rear

The Toyota Auris probably doesn’t need too much explanation. It’s Toyota’s primary hatchback offering, and as a 2014 model year, this would’ve been just two years after the generational overhaul. This particular model is a JDM Toyota Auris 150X S Package, which means it runs on a 1.5L petrol that outputs 104hp and 100 lb-ft of torque… Just enough for fuel efficient city driving.

2014 Toyota Auris interior

Want more information on this Toyota Auris? Get a full rundown via the auction sheet translation below:

2014 Toyota Auris auction sheet

“Interior A, exterior B, first registered July 2014, 150X S Package model, FAT, AAC, HID headlights, pushbutton starter and keyless entry, aftermarket navigation and digital TV, fog lamp, power steering, power windows, original alloy wheels, ABS, airbag, AFS, traction control, spare key, indicator door mirrors, minor scratches and minor dents, marks as per map”


Lexus LF-SA Concept City Car Debuts in Geneva

Posted by Stephen On Friday, March 6th, 2015

2015 Lexus LF-SA Concept

One of the most innovative new concept cars on display at this week’s 2015 Geneva Motor Show is the all-new Lexus LF-SA Concept. Its name stands for Lexus Future Small Adventurer, so you can keep that in mind as you see the model in action in the video below:

Lexus tells us that the LF-SA Concept was designed by the Toyota Europe Design Development team located in Nice, France, and that it represents the newest adaptation of their ‘L-Finesse’ design language.

Looking at the exterior, it’s clear that this car’s design team intended to take L-Finesse in an aggressively futuristic direction. The ultra-compact LF-SA Concept’s entire body is only 3.45m long and 1.7m wide, standing only 1.43m tall.

Lexus LF-SA Concept profile

Despite its petite stature, the exterior is rugged and dominant, like some sort of ferocious reptile with its maw open wide. Notice the inset ridge extending out from the headlights along the top of the wheel wells, and the wide ‘V’ shape made by the body lines along the side. The core of the LF-SA’s exterior, though, is undoubtedly that enormous 3D mesh pinched grille, with huge fog light slits cut into the front fender.

2015 Lexus LF-SA Concept rear

The LF-SA Concept’s rear-end is perhaps even more strikingly sculpted than the front with a rear spoiler, then a rear taper, then two humongous bulging rear wheel wells. And of course, you can’t miss those custom chrome alloy wheels with black brushed steel between the spokes.

2015 Lexus LF-SA Concept interior

Moving inside, our glimpse into the future continues with a 2+2 cabin that’s stuffed full of space-age amenities like a hologram display, touch pad and a heads-up display for the windshield. We can also see some sort of electronic rear-view mirror, and a crystalline dashboard interface.

Also note that Lexus has structured the entire cabin around the driver, hence the special dark blue coloring of the driver’s seat. In fact, the driver’s seat is stationary… The pedals and steering wheel are adjusted to fit the driver’s body, instead of moving the seat. Meanwhile, the rear seats are accessed by pulling the front passenger’s seat forward.

2015 Lexus LF-SA Concept birds-eye view

Unfortunately, Lexus had nothing to say about the LF-SA’s powertrain, which means that we’re still probably at least one conceptual iteration away from seeing a production-ready model. To get a better idea of what a production LF-SA would look like, our suggestion is to imagine a Lexus NX without rear doors and a slightly lower ride. We’ll have to wait until later this year to know for sure.

Either way, a city car absolutely makes sense for Lexus’ lineup, especially in Europe where these three-door micro cars are a viable trend.


New Lexus LF-SA Concept Teased for Geneva Debut

Posted by Stephen On Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Yesterday Lexus leaked a teaser for a new subcompact concept that they will reportedly debut at the upcoming 2015 Geneva Motor Show. It’s called the Lexus LF-SA Concept, and this darkened teaser image and a short three-paragraph press release are the only things we have to go off of as we attempt to evaluate this new addition to the Lexus lineup.

Lexus LF-SA Concept Teaser

The press release is almost as vague as the image. Lexus describes that the LF-SA Concept as “An illustration of Lexus passion for upcoming design trends, the LF-SA concept explores unexpected territories for the brand in a bold and emotional execution.”

Looking at the teaser image, we’re inclined to agree with the premium automaker’s self-assessment of this new vehicle. We can’t see much, but what we can see hints at an extremely aggressive and sporty styling. You can clearly make out Lexus’ hallmark pinched spindle grille, which looks to be outlined in either a darkened chrome or perhaps even carbon fiber. The grille is surrounded by several different LEDs, including what we assume are turn signals on the lower fender and Jewel Eye LEDs for headlights. The few body lines we can make out in the teaser give us the impression of a highly sculpted, aggressively low-riding mini.

Turns out, our assessment isn’t too far off from what the rumors tell us to expect. The Lexus LF-SA Concept is reported to herald a future city car that would sit below the current Lexus CT 200h. The car would compete with the likes of the Audi A1 and other European mini cars like the BMW Mini and Daimler Smart ForFour.

A smaller car below the CT 200h makes perfect sense for Lexus, as the premium hatch was their best-selling car in Europe over the course of 2014. A smaller city car can only help the premium Japanese automaker’s European sales, which of course explains why they plan to reveal the LF-SA in Geneva.

Unfortunately, there’s no word on whether this car will ever make it outside of Europe… It may never make it to US shores, although we’d be a little surprised if it didn’t. Either way, we expect that Lexus will only offer the LF-SA production vehicle with a hybrid powertrain, just like they do with the Lexus CT.

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2014 Lexus CT 200h F Sport

2014 Lexus CT 200h F Sport

Here’s the bigger brother to the upcoming Lexus LF-SA city car. This is the Lexus CT we were talking about above, and as the images show, it’s actually a great looking car. It’s easy to see why it’s a best-seller in Europe.

2014 Lexus CT 200h F Sport rear

This particular Japanese car auction find is for a Lexus CT 200h F Sport. As a 2014MY, this would’ve been one of the facelifted models with those slick twin-spoke alloys and rear spoiler, along with Lexus’ pinched mesh grille (which looks a lot like the grille in the teaser above). The F Sport package also gives you an excellent interior with red leather seats and a host of interior amenities like that huge built-in navigation screen you see below.

2014 Lexus CT 200h F Sport interior

Under the hood you’ll find the same 1.8L VVT-i four-cylinder petrol that’s in the Auris and Prius. On its own it only generates 98 hp, but paired with Toyota’s hybrid drive system it can output up to 134 hp. It’s still fairly low powered, but remember this is a hatchback, so a little power goes a long ways. Plus, the hybrid engine yields a massive 57.4 mpg.

Want more details? Keep reading about this 2014 Lexus CT 200h F Sport below the auction sheet:

2014 Lexus CT 200h auction sheet

“Grade 4.5, interior B, exterior condition B, first registered March 2014, CT200h F Sport model, in-dash AT, AAC, one owner, first time in auction, original digital TV, red leather seats, seat heater, power steering, power windows, original AWs, ABS, airbag, original navigation system, original, TV, digital TV, seats scratches, door mirrors scratched, interior grime and scratches, minor scratches and minor dents, marks as per map”