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Review: 2014 Seat Ibiza FR 140; Poetry in Auto Emoción?

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Appearing at Millbrook where I spent a day at,
Was this little red hatchback manufactured by SEAT,
This motoring journalist lark that I play at,
Was an excuse to take it for a spin.

From it’s antecedent some thirty years back,
The Ibiza’s evolved to a meal from a snack.
Let us check its development, is it on the right track?
Take the jump, there are more words within.

… Continue Reading

Quick Spin – Checking Out The Smoking Tire’s DeLorean DMC-12

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It’s an uncanny feeling of a circle closing. The very first Hooniverse piece I wrote was a post about a DeLorean DMC-12 residing not far from where I live on the west coast of Finland. Now, after a couple years and a few hundred Hooniverse posts, I was on the west coast of the United States, looking at another DeLorean.

But like two cars ending up on the opposite sides of the planet, they had grown far from each other. The other one, the first DMC-12 I had ever laid eyes on let alone touched or sat in, was a considerably more tired example with black leather and automatic along with the original 133-horsepower setup. The car I saw last week was the flawless pride and joy of Matt Farah of The Smoking Tire fame: a manual car with a light interior, a late build car with only a couple thousand miles on the clock. And the powertrain had been updated to brisker standards, the perceived sluggishness far gone. “This is the best car in the world”, Matt said. I didn’t doubt him.

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Quick Spin: 2014 BMW 328d xDrive
Giving Enthusiasts the D

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Sometime ago a lifestyle website called Jalopnik proclaimed that the entry-level rear-wheel-drive BMW 320i with a manual transmission and a sport package is something-something official sport sedan, yaddy, yadda. To quote:

That’s a sporty, RWD sedan with 50/50 weight distribution, a manual transmission, 36 mpg on the highway, and a turbocharged engine.

Is there anything new that beats that?

Well, as a matter of fact, as mentioned in this Podcast, yes there is. It is called the 328d.

Allow me to explain. The problem with BMW’s 320i and 328i is the four-cylinder turbo engine. That engine, like many others recently downsized and force-fed offerings from many manufactures, seems great in theory but is not so great in daily driving. Those engines lack in low-end power and have a good amount of turbo lag.

These engines are great when pushed hard; it’s what makes them fun in a Miata or hot-hatch sort of way, especially when coupled to a slick manual transmission. Unfortunately we don’t push our cars hard while driving from Starbucks to the Vet’s office, and that’s where lag delay is most noticeable, and it can be frustrating. Same goes for highway passing power, it’s there but it needs to be exhumed.

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Quick Spin: 2014 Fiat 500L- The Fat Fiat

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They say go big or go home, and considering the largest consumer offering Fiat shipped over to the States in its waning days was the 131/Brava, perhaps it’s no surprise they abruptly closed up shop back in the ’80s. Today, the company is back, and have brought along something honkin’ big – the Fiat Ducato-based Dodge Pro Master – which you can eyeball after the jump. The Italian company has also brought over the big guns of its 500 lineup, the 5-door L. I took a lengthy spin in one, and am here to tell you whether or not it was worth the trip.

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First Ride: 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 [w/Video]
A finely honed track weapon

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I don’t really care for the Chevrolet Camaro.

If you’re a regular reader of Hooniverse, you’ve heard me say that before. Sure, the older ones are definitely cool, but I have no love for the modern version. The Camaro ZL1 is certainly a blast thanks to its delightful amount of horsepower and noise. Folks who have driven the 1LE rave about its handling prowess. But other than those two (and one aftermarket tuned example), I’ve never enjoyed my time with the Camaro.

I’m telling you this so you fully understand just how impressed I am by the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28. General Motors flew a handful of folks to Michigan so we could get a closer look at the latest machine to wear a very important badge. No, I didn’t get to drive the car, but I ride shotgun…

…and it was enough to blow me away.

… Continue Reading

Quick Spin: 2014 Volkswagen Jetta SE 1.8T
The Jetta is back

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If you are an ardent advocate of the maxim of less equating to more then the introduction of the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta should have caused you great internal debate. That’s because while the model offered far more room than before at a much lower entry price, the things taken away to provide that smaller hit to your bank account were what many an enthusiast holds near and dear. After the fact, Volkswagen’s decision to compete with the more mundane competition seemed to be the right one as sales of the Jetta increased nearly twofold with the new model. Still, missing pieces such as disc brakes and an independent suspension for the back end on all but the top model, as well as a downgrading of its interior materials, didn’t sit well with the marque’s fans, and induced a vociferous drum beat that the Jetta had lost its way.

For 2014, Volkswagen wants you to know that it’s found the way back.

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Quick Spin: Cruze-ing the Pacific Coast Highway

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“Marcal, we’re on our anniversary trip! Quit taking pictures of the rental car.” “I know; I’ll just be a minute.”

I hadn’t intended to do a photo shoot of our 2013 Chevrolet Cruze in the rain, but we drove from Seattle to Depoe Bay, Oregon down 101 in the middle of September; sunny weather is long gone. Between the fog, mist, road spray, drizzle, and a good old downpour one night, the car was wet almost the whole weekend. Still, the weather wasn’t bad on Saturday, and I was impressed enough with the car that I wanted to get a few pictures and share my thoughts with you. For more of both, please take jump and enjoy. … Continue Reading

On Driving a Manual Transmission Ferrari V12

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Ferrari is no longer in the business of selling cars with manual transmissions. Primarily, this is because they’re in the business of selling cars, and hardly any supercar buyer these days seems to give a crap about the appeal of a close-ratio six -speed and the three-pedal waltz. Not that you can’t still buy a very fast car with a manual transmission, but when Lamborghini and even Porsche both kiss-off the stick in their track-focused models, we can hardly be surprised. The last Fezza to be offered with a self-shifter was the California, and just three were sold. I sorta hate the California and all its showy. too-tall extravagance, but that’s still sad.

Like the manually-operated ignition advance or the crank-starter, the row-your-own gearbox is rapidly approaching relic status. Yes, it can make a dull car fun, but when you’ve got the best engines and best chassis in the world, it’s like trying to run your BlueRay player down a tin-can telephone line. Sticking a manual in an F12berlinetta  would be like installing a rotary dial on your iPad – it’s old technology, so untie the onion from your belt Grandpa, and get with the program.

And so, a car like this with its leg-press clutch-pedal and railway-switch gearshift gets outclassed, out-dated and overshadowed. It depreciates to a quarter of its original value and fades from the spotlight, caught in a trough between the skyrocketing prices of the classics and the nouveau-riche razzle-dazzle of thrusting modernity. It is a dinosaur.

Yep, it’s a dinosaur all right. What kind of idiot wouldn’t want to ride a dinosaur? … Continue Reading

Quick Spin: 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel

2014 Chevy Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel Engine

It is pretty amazing, but General Motor’s past experiences with diesel-powered cars still remain a punch line of many jokes. It’s no surprise then that it has taken them decades to very carefully come out with a new diesel offering. That new diesel, a 2-liter, four cylinder was installed under the hood of the midsized Chevy Cruze, a significantly more conservative choice than the company’s diesel models of the past.

Chevy makes no secrets that the Cruze is aimed directly at the hot-selling Jetta TDi. Chevy will quickly point out their car is more powerful, with 151hp and 250lb-ft, more efficient, and less expensive when comparably equipped (MSPR: $25,695). If Volkswagen was here to defend themselves, they would say that their car has a lower starting price and is available with a manual transmission, which has a very high take.

… Continue Reading

Quick Drive: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland

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The current WK2 generation of the Grand Cherokee has been around for a few years. In that time it has won a number of awards and satisfied many customers, a lot of them repeat buyers. For 2014, Jeep has made the first meaningful visual and functional changes to the Grand Cherokee. Those changes, aside from differentiating the 2014 from earlier models, are meant to increase economy, comfort, and looks.

Let’s see what’s what…

… Continue Reading

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