Those of you familiar with this site probably know that my family recently purchased Volkswagen’s new Jetta Hybrid. So far we have loved everything about the car, and it has proven capable of delivering on VW’s MPG claims. I have even seen as high as 53mpg average on some trips, and that means VW has managed to out-do the Toyota Prius. I say that because the Jetta is also an extremely competent performing car in all other respects aside from gas mileage. They’ve used a turbocharged engine in it, so it has enough squirt to get out of its own way. The Jetta Hybrid also happens to handle extremely well because it has the same suspension architecture as the Jetta GLI. Where most hybrids tend to be extremely compromised in all aspects besides fuel economy, the Jetta Hybrid manages to be extremely well rounded while also seeing the same sort of MPG as the hybrid pimp-daddy, the Prius. So now I have to wonder, what could VW do if they really decided to focus a car on fuel economy to the same degree Toyota has done?
It just so happens that VW already has all of the tools it would need to create the ultimate economy car. The answer is a painfully obvious one, yet it the bean counters have been avoiding it because it may upset their current marketing scheme. I am talking about VW making a diesel hybrid.
Consumer Reports is great resource if you want to buy a washing machine or a TV. They aren’t, however, as good at giving relevant car advice. Their automotive incompetence was one of the factors that led me to work on my own rating system. The fact is that CR’s system would rate a bicycle higher than any car in production today. There is no concern for context, or relevancy in their ratings, and now it is evident that the same is true of their tests. Today they have claimed that small turbo engines are “not delivering on the promises” (link at bottom).
CR ran tests for observed MPG and 0-60mph on various cars, both turbo and naturally aspirated (N/A). Most cars tested were front wheel drive family sedans. From their tests they claim that cars with smaller turbo engines are less efficient and slower than similar naturally aspirated cars. After looking through the test myself I can tell you that CR’s findings are overly simplistic, and that the tests themselves were not comprehensive enough to make the bold claim that small turbo engines “don’t deliver”.
My reactions and issues with their findings are as follows:
This was my first time driving a Prius of any sort, although I have driven other hybrids. The Prius is special though because society has made into the poster child for the green car movement. The Prius C is the newest, smallest member of the Prius family, and it is selling like hotcakes right now. Like many car guys, I have always had a good deal of contempt for the Prius over the years for various reasons, but I figured it would be a good idea to at least go try one out for myself before closing the book on the car for good. What lay ahead tuned out to be an interesting experience. Read the rest of this entry »
That is a silly title, I know, but it does beg the question as to why I would put those three specific cars together at all? The answer lies in how they all have a similar reason for their existence, to be a number. Each was meant to achieve some specific measure of performance that would define the car to the world. While all three have been successful in achieving their tangible goals they have all wound up becoming relics of a more regimented and boring existence. They all cater to an increasingly soulless and superficial world where people judge everything from a bunch of numbers on sheet of paper or a computer screen, and not so much from actual experiences. Read the rest of this entry »
Cruise control has been around since the Sixties, but it has evolved as the car around it has evolved. It’s useful for long, punishing drives, such as one I took just yesterday from northern New Jersey to Long Beach Island. That said, there are some times when it’s useful, and others when it should be avoided. Read the rest of this entry »
Anyone knows that saving gas saves money. Of course, those of us who have hybrids are occasionally so obsessed with it that they will do whatever is necessary to keep their MPG up and their costs down. Here’s a couple of ways to bring up your gas mileage without a lot of extra work. Read the rest of this entry »
The Countryman is a big Mini, their entry into the emerging small crossover market. Honestly, for this new segment of SUV hot hatches, the Countryman is pretty much the poster child. I would be very disappointed in Mini if they didn’t have a car in this segment because it seems like it is literally tailor-made for them. All of the haters who say it is too big are comparing it to the Cooper, which is stupid because they don’t take part in the same market segment at all. Read the rest of this entry »
This is one I have been waiting to do for a while now, the much hyped Volt from Chevy. I knew of course that the Volt was a new sort of hybrid car and I knew that its design was far superior to that of other hybrids already on sale, like the Prius. However, the way it drove surprised the hell out of me. What I expected was a mushy, slow econobox, what I got was totally different. Read the rest of this entry »