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Friday
May222015

Fiat’s Premium Cost Cutter

By Christopher A. Sawyer

 This week, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) introduced the Aegea Project, a compact sedan designed in Italy and built in Turkey on Fiat’s small wide platform; the same platform underpinning the Jeep Renegade, Fiat 500X and 500L. The sedan, which will be named later this summer, will be followed by a hatchback and wagon, and compete against low-priced vehicles in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Affordable small sedans are a hot commodity in these markets, and the new little Fiat aims to be the “premium” player in this segment. Stretching 177 inches on a 104-in. wheelbase, the Aegea Project sedan is 58.3 in. tall, 70.1 in. wide, and has an 18 ft.3 trunk. It is fitted with FCA’s Uconnect infotainment system with a five-inch color touchscreen, Bluetooth calling with audio streaming, SMS text reader with voice recognition, AUX and USB ports with iPod integration, steering wheel controls, and the options of TomTom navigation and a rear parking camera.

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Friday
May222015

Hunting Mustangs: 2016 Chevrolet Camaro

By Christopher A. Sawyer 

Under the skin of the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro rests a Cadillac ATS. A modified ATS, but an ATS nonetheless. The lightweight sport sedan, which also provides the platform used by the current Caddy CTS, has been pulled, prodded and modified to create a formidable challenger for the new Ford Mustang. 

Compared to the 2015 model, the new Camaro has a claimed 28% greater structural rigidity, though it’s not clear if that’s in bending, torsion or both. Like the body-in-white’s 133 lb. drop in weight, that’s not hard to imagine as the ATS platform makes use of high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel, aluminum, and savvy engineering to keep weight low and rigidity high. Nevertheless, Chevy claims 70% of the “architectural components” are unique to Camaro, though we believe that number to be based on quantity, which would include all of the brackets, etc. necessary to accommodate any changes made to the platform for the Camaro. 

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Friday
May222015

Toyota Sienna Premium vs. Ford Transit Connect Titanium

By Christopher A. Sawyer 

Fate brought the Toyota Sienna and long wheelbase Ford Transit Connect wagon to our offices recently, and gave us the opportunity to study minivans located at opposite ends of the spectrum. The Toyota is the minivan evolved; a large vehicle of style and power with luxurious appointments. The Ford, on the other hand, is the minivan in its original form; a smaller vehicle with an enormous interior, flat load floor, and four-cylinder engine under the hood. The two were very different yet surprisingly similar. 

Toyota Sienna SE Premium 

When the latest Sienna was introduced, Toyota referred to it as the “Swagger Wagon” in an attempt to make owning a minivan seem cool. (See sidebar.) It even tasked the advertising folks to produce a rap-style music video to drive home the point in an self-consciously ironic way:

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Friday
May222015

How to Drive the Nurburgring in 43 Minutes

The title might be a bit deceiving in that this is not a tutorial on how to lap Germany’s famously infamous Nurburgring at a snail’s pace. Rather it describes the length of the video Per Einarsson created to walk the viewer through a successful lap in a classic car. Using a helmet-mounted video camera, Einarsson cuts the Nurburgring up into bite-sized sections full of smart tips and insider knowledge of one of the world’s most challenging natural terrain road courses. From behind the wheel of his Alfa Romeo, he shows you just what you need to know to keep your car on the track and out of the weeds, and does so in traffic as other ‘Ring users pass him or are passed by him. It’s a unique perspective, and one that is punctuated by onscreen graphics that point out important landmarks, the correct line, hidden dangers and more. In addition, Einarsson uses Google Maps to create an overhead view of the track, and uses this to show you the track sections in context. Also, once he has run a segment with commentary, he reruns it at normal speed without commentary so you can see just how quick the section is, and how it flows. No matter whether you make it to the Nurburgring with your classic or not, this is an invaluable tool for ‘Ring novice and expert alike. — CAS