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Honda has taken a beating from critics over its new 2012 Civic model, but the buying public could just as easily shrug off the elitists views of a few buff books were the level-headed and notoriously impartial heads at Consumer Reports to anoint the Japanese compact car with a Recommended rating. But they didn’t.
In the latest issue of Consumer Reports, the Civic is tested alongside the new Focus and the Kia Forte, both of which earn a “Very Good” rating. The Civic, however, scored too low to rank on the Recommended list. Dropped 17 points from the previous generation car, the new model gets just 61 points, dropping from “Very Good” to “Mediocre”. In fact, the only compact car to score worse was the unanimously panned Volkswagen Jetta.
The reason for the low score, according to CR, include a lower interior quality, a choppy ride, long braking distances and “pronounced road noise.” It’s not all bad, they insist, listing positives like decent rear seat room and a 30-mpg average rating in their test (the second best).
“While other models like the Hyundai Elantra have gotten better after being redesigned, the Civic has dropped so much that now it ranks near the bottom of its category,” said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center in East Haddam, CT.
Typically, a product is reviewed and rated by a publication, whose staff, after testing and evaluating, will give their opinion on it. However, some might consider this opinion biased, either due to the writer’s personal taste or due to advertising dollars.
Nissan‘s luxury division Infiniti is now taking a different approach to the norm, becoming the first company to let consumers rate and review its products. Visitors to www.InfinitiUSA.com can currently read over 900 reviews posted by Infiniti customers on its seven different vehicles, and the number of reviews will only grow with time.
“The Infiniti ownership experience extends well beyond the driving experience of our owners and into their lifestyle, which includes peer-to-peer and social media channels,” said Ben Poore, vice president, Infiniti Business Unit. He adds that this “sharing of experience” will benefit those who are considering buying an Infiniti.
Bazaarvoice, a social commerce solutions service, will be working with Infiniti in developing content for their new site. So if you want to listen to what Infiniti customers actually have to say about their car, check out the new site.
To win them over, Infiniti is offering a new special version of the EX30d (yup, a diesel Infiniti) called the Black Premium Edition. Based on its diesel powered variant, the Black Premium Edition gets metallic malbec paint with a graphite interior. In other words, it’s black on black. You also get shiny 19-inch alloy wheels and shiny roof rails. Plus the usual sunroof and Bose audio system.
But wait there’s more. Buyers of this particular version will get to enjoy a night of fine dining for two at any of the hundreds of luxury hotels from the Relais and Chateau group. You will also get membership to the swanky Club 5C.
Only 500 of these special editions will be offered to customers across Europe at a premium of $5000 over the regular version. In America, the only version we get is the petrol powered EX35 and prices start at $34,150.
With Infiniti’s parent company (Nissan) have made it clear that it would not display at the LA Auto Show due to budget concerns, the automaker is preparing to use the event to its advantage by showing the all new 2011 Infiniti M37 and M56 at a private event the evening prior to the show.
Infiniti has already teased us with a few CGI images, but not the real thing. What we do know is that, as the names suggest, the M37 will be powered by a 3.7-liter V6, much like in the G37, with an expected 330-hp. And as for the M56, well, it will boast a massive 5.6-liter V8 with more than 400-hp!
AutoGuide will be on hand with live coverage of the Infiniti unveilings starting December 1st.
GALLERY: 2011 Infiniti M
Officially unveiled as the Mazda MPS at the Geneva Auto Show earlier this month, the U.S.-spec MazdaSpeed3 will make it’s North American debut at the New York Auto Show on April 9th.
We don’t expect much to change from the Euro version, so don’t plan on any more power from the direct-injection 2.3-liter turbo-four. Power is rated at 260ps (256hp) and 280 ft-lbs of torque. Thankfully, the MazdaSpeed3 doesn’t need more power.
This is enough for a 0-62 mph run of 6.1 seconds, so the run to 60 might be able to get under the 6.0-second mark.
The engine does get some advancements though. For starters, emissions are reduced thanks to a new single-nanotechnology catalytic converter. As well, the 2.3-liter engine gets 0.5 liters/100km (0.1 mpg) better fuel economy.
In terms of technological advancements, the MAzdaSpeed3 has plenty of them. For starters the new engine features an advanced boost controller that reduces peaks for a more linear power delivery. The left and right drive shafts have been modified to reduce torque steer. The six-speed manual transmission now has wider ratios than before and the tranny uses a low-viscosity fluid to reduce shift effort.
With the new body and chassis, the 2010 MazdaSpeed3 is naturally better, however, it also gets large stabilizer bars, stiffer springs and shocks. As well, it now features 18-inch wheels with big brakes – 12.6-inches up front and 11-inches in the rear.
We’ll bring you full details in our New york Auto Show coverage starting April 8th.
Full Euro-spec details after the jump: