AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Made in Germany ... Except Not
Cultural stereotypes aside, Germany is known for its advanced technology, engineering prowess and top-quality manufacturing. The land of beer, bratwurst and BMW is especially famed for its automobiles, which are renowned the world over for their driving dynamics and Autobahn-proven performance.
Denver will become the 10th North American city with car2go service on June 8 when the Daimler subsidiary begins offering its car sharing service there.
Affordable and Practical
When it comes to the most affordable hatchback, there’s quite a few options out there. Unlike the Honda GEAR concept pictured above (which could preview a new affordable subcompact for the Japanese brand) all the cars on this list are easily attainable, and are competitively priced. Our top ten is seperated by a slim $4,000 margin from cheapest to most expensive. Check out the whole list, and see which cheap hatchback is the right choice for you!
Because Creativity is Overrated
What’s the most important step a manufacturer undertakes when creating a new car? Building a great chassis? Getting the interior ergonomics right? Providing the perfect drivetrain to complement the new product? Nope. All wrong. The really, really important factor for any new car is getting the name right.
All joking aside, a vehicle’s name is very important. Slap a clever name on a car and it can help boost sales. Conversely, choose a bad name for a vehicle, like Probe or Dictator, and it can hurt sales. Manufacturers spend a lot of time and money analyzing potential model names.
Well, that’s usually what happens, but sometimes, the creativity well runs dry. Every now and then a new vehicle receives a name that leaves us all wondering: “Really? That’s all they could think of?” Not to get confused with naming conventions that are just lazy, like Mazda’s numbered sequence or Mercedes-Benz’s lettered sequence. No, we are referring to model names that give the perception maybe the marketing team forgot to show up one day and the engineers were left in charge of naming the new ride. “We are pleased to announce the latest from Hyonbaru Motors, ‘The Car!” Don’t laugh, some the following models are even worse.
10. Mazda2: 1.5L (1498 cc)
The motors in these vehicles don’t pack much power, or torque, and are all aimed to use the least amount of fuel. These cars are all ranked in order, right down to the cubic centimeter from most displacement, to least, so take a look below, to see the list of smallest engines available today.
The subcompact Mazda2 is the first on our list, with the biggest engine here. Thanks to its 1498cc four-cylinder engine, the Mazda2 makes 100-hp at 6000 rpm. Of course, that’s not much but what else do you need in a 2300-lb city car? The Mazda2 starts at $14,530 which isn’t too much for a car that gets 29/35 mpg city/highway with the manual or 28/34 mpg city/highway with the auto.
How much bird crap does it take to crush a Smart car? Thanks to one snarky blogger, the company crunched some numbers to find out.
Heading to Germany’s Smart dealerships in October is a limited edition ForTwo Iceshine model, priced at around $18,300 (€14,490).
According to Smart, the ForTwo Edition Iceshine “combines a fresh, cheeky look with chic equipment details.” The model can currently be preordered in white or exclusive azure blue boasting a retro double three-spoke wheel design finished in white. The tridion safety cell also comes in white and the special edition model can be ordered in either coupe or convertible form.
The color trend continues on the inside, with all Iceshine models coming with exclusive leather-effect seats with a white insert on the backrests and white stitching. The steering wheel also comes in a three-spoke, leather design while the ring rounds on the dash are also in white.
The Iceshine Edition ForTwo will be limited to just 1,800 units and is based on the Passion Equipment Line model.
GALLERY: Smart ForTwo Edition Iceshine
Smart will debut a Brabus Fortwo EV and electric bike at the Geneva Motor Show, which is just around the corner now. The special edition Fortwo EV from Brabus will sport 17-inch wheels, Brabus styling accessories, and an “electric green” interior.
Smart also announced that they will have the Brabus variant of their electric Fortwo in 12 countries by the end of the year, packing around 80-hp. Unfortunately the German automaker still hasn’t announced its range on a single charge.
The e-bike will pack an electric motor with 500 watts of power and can hit a top speed of 25-mph and will also be available at Smart dealerships by the end of the year. You can pick up a Smart e-bike for around $3,700, but no pricing has been announced yet for the Brabus Fortwo EV; we can probably expect it when the car gets closer to the dealership lots.
GALLERY: Brabus Smart Fortwo EV and e-Bike
Making its way to the upcoming 2012 Geneva Motor Show will be Rinspeed’s Dock + Go creation, an innovative yet strange concept that will leave some scratching their heads.
The Swiss-based tuner is marketing the Dock + Go as a backpack on wheels but is also a detachable range-extender for electric cars. The product essentially adds a third axle to the vehicle, adding an extra pair of wheels to a compact electric car – in this case, a Smart Fortwo Electric Drive. Essentially it’s a mini-trailer that can also serve as a range-extender, but its versatility is what leaves the possibilities endless for what it can be used for.
In its demo photos, for example, Rinspeed shows off its Dock + Go aiding in a pizza delivery company, camping, golfing, skiing, and more. We could definitely see these things being a hit out at tailgating parties in the US.
Rinspeed didn’t release exact figures as to how long the extended range is with the Dock + Go.
GALLERY: Rinspeed Dock + Go
The facelifted Smart ForTwo has some minor exterior changes with a new front bumper that comes equipped with a new mesh grille and air intakes and a redesigned front-upper grille while the rear bumper also gets some tweaks. Engine choices, at least out in Europe, will still be the 1.0L three-cylinder powerplant either naturally aspirated, turbocharged or diesel. The naturally aspirated engine has 61-hp while the turbocharged powerplant pushes out 102-hp. The diesel is equipped with 54-hp.
After its scheduled debut in March at the Geneva Motor Show, the refreshed Smart ForTwo will be available at dealerships all across Europe.
GALLERY: Refreshed Smart ForTwo
In 1989, Rick Moranis played a nerdy dad who accidentally downsized his children to an insect scale in Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. He probably wouldn’t have believed it if someone told him that 23 years later automakers would be doing the same thing to their cars.
For those of us living in the North American 2012, there are increasingly large swarms of little cars buzzing around the streets. The din their tiny engines makes isn’t overwhelming yet, but just wait.
General Motors’ German subsidiary, Opel, is planning to release a micro car they’re calling the Allegra (or, tentatively, Junior). No, not the allergy medication, though the thing is small enough to be mistaken for a bee in ragweed season, at least compared to the standard American palate. When the Allegra hits Europe in 2013 it will probably stand to compete against cars like the Volkswagen Up, MINI Cooper and Fiat 500.
In fact, it’s a solid 3.3 feet longer than the Mercedes-Benz spawned Smart ForTwo, which looks like a cross between a golf cart and an alien space pod. Our spies caught the Opel Allegra on camera during winter testing, but what’s the big deal? Opel cars aren’t sold in North America, right?
Well, not necessarily. Rumors are floating around that the not-so-smallish micro car might make it overseas rebadged as a Buick. (Why not? It’s not the first Buick to come from Opel). And with the recent launch of the Fiat 500 and the Scion iQ on our shores, the market for mini-cars is growing.
Of course, the name will likely change to keep big pharma happy.
GALLERY: Opel Allegra/Junion Spy Photos
10. Toyota Yaris 3-Door: $14,115
You can sound polite and say “inexpensive” but if you’re strapped for cash, the most important question when shopping for a new car is: what’s the cheapest car on the market? AutoGuide has got the answer, along with the nine runners up.
Toyota‘s warmed-over Yaris makes the 10th spot on our list with a base price of $14,115 for the 3-door model. The pricier 5-door will run you $15,150.
Using a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder like many of its counterparts the Yaris makes 106-hp and is rated at 38-mpg on the highway making it one of the most efficient models in its class, but not the most efficient. Growing three inches overall, Toyota claims the new car has 68 percent more cargo room than the outgoing model, which it shares a near-identical resemblance with. Standard on all models is air conditioning, nine airbags and power windows.
The Smart fortwo might be the butt of jokes Stateside, but the city car has managed to move 500,000 copies worldwide after launching in its second generation four years ago.
Sales this year are up 6.6 percent, and an electric version is due to launch in the spring of 2012. While other version of the Smart, such as the ill-fated forfour fourseater, haven’t fared well, Smart is looking to expand their horizons by launching products like an electric bicycle in the coming years.
The Smart car has sold reasonably well around the world, but it has hardly been the sales success its maker wishes it was. To keep the interest of car buyers, every now and then, it comes up with a special edition model.
At this years Frankfurt Auto Show, Smart will show a model that it has developed with the street fashion brand WeSC. This special “Tailor Made” model is being prepared by Mercedes-tuner Brabus and will feature a special gold paint that is gloss in some areas and matte in others. Special jet black wheels and custom leather interior also sets this fortwo cabrio model apart from the regular smart.
The people at Smart also designed a new set of headphones, which will be sold through WeSC shops and Concept Stores around the world.
This special Smart with a 100-hp turbocharged motor will be on display starting September 13 at the Frankfurt Motor Show alongside the new Forvision concept. Look for live photos from AutoGuide’s coverage here.
GALLERY: Smart WeSC
Watch the video after the jump: