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Vigo
Vigo Dork
12/5/10 11:23 p.m.

I realize many of you arent yet on my facebook, so im gonna CTRL+V my post about MT's COTY issue i just got.

Lots to like in this months Motor Trend car of the year issue. Of course, people with no skill for writing, insight, or marketing love to hate car mags, so maybe this isnt for them.

Unsolicited thoughts, GOOOO!

First of all, the Mazda2. This is a prime example of exactly what all the size queens write in about every month in the letters section. The entire page about the Mazda2 was filled with praise about its SUBJECTIVE qualities: "tossable", "confidence inspiring", "fun to drive","intuitive". Here's one, "the Mazda2 has a character that conveys sincerity."

Ohh, i can hear it now. All the people whose internal dialogue is about as sexy as a math problem are thinking MT uses a lot of words to tell them nothing, and that bit about sincerity just made a loud WHOOSH as it flew right over their heads.

I loved that page. It tells me exactly what i want to know. These guys who get to drive everything on the planet (including the Veyron SuperSport in the same issue with 1200hp, exactly 12 times the power of the Mazda), unlike the lust-addled and baselessly jaded horsepower gazers on the internet, are giving me perspective about QUALITIES, not quantities. I have fast cars i dont like to drive much. I also have slow cars that make me smile. I have fun cranking my ~60hp honda hatchback around, for some of the same reasons they listed about the Mazda.


The Honda CR-Z. Ive been a staunch internet defender of the CR-Z. Not defending its merits, which i have some thoughts about. Ive mostly been defending it from the horribly ill-fitting contexts people keep trying to box it up in.

Sure, it ...should be faster. No argument here. Sure, its almost embarrassing as a hybrid. Sure, its being marketed the wrong way. All that is true. But what's NOT true is that it is a terrible car. It is NOT a terrible car. Another case of the baselessly jaded internet size queens saying that anything that doesnt appeal to them from 50 miles away isnt going to appeal to anyone who actually gets up and tries it. The CR-Z still inhabits a rare spot on the style spectrum. There arent a lot of options these days for sub-3k-lb rakish hatchbacks with sporty seats and angular styling. A GTI doesnt even come close, and it doesn't get 37mpg either.

Think about this: Nissan just released the Juke, which noone expected to be fast and yet runs low 15s while looking ridiculous. Honda just released the CR-Z which people expected to be faster, but looks pretty good. I dunno about you, but id rather have the CR-Z. I can fix slow. Its a lot harder to fix ugly. Id rather have the Honda's seats, dash, and steering wheel than try to make the Juke's center console look more like a center console than a fiberglass subwoofer enclosure.


Kia Optima: This is the first ive seen of this one.

The big thing: I LOVE the dash layout. Simple, attractive, driver-oriented, and not overwrought. It almost looks like a throwback to a time when it was more important for dashboards to be f...unctional than to display a contiguous styling theme from each door panel.

The styling. I see where the Forte was leading to now, and i like it. It looks a lot more honest on the Optima than the Forte, which looks too much like a blatant Civic rip-off.

The performance. This is weird. MT usually gets great numbers out of everything, but the Optima's 1/4 mile is 7 tenths and 4 mph down from its platform-mate sonata with the same engine, tranny, weight, and driver.. What gives?


Toyota Sienna. Adam's MOST WANTED NEW CAR. Im a van freak, and this van is sweeeet.

For one thing, its quick and semi-sporty. It runs MT's figure eight test in the same ET and avg G as the 2500 lb CR-Z. It runs 15.4 in the 1/4. It LOOKS ...sporty. I like the dashboard. Gets decent MPG. The rear rows can even be semi-sporty with black bucket-ish seats that you can actually detect some contouring on.

I really like it. Id love to own one.


The VOLT. Winner of car of the year 2010. It appeals to me more on a tech-geek level than as something i want to drive.

But it IS amazing. It IS a game-changer. The haters really aren't getting it on this one. Its an incredible accomplishment and one of the only things a domestic manufacturer can really be proud of right now (i consider some of Fiat's technology to be another ). I dont know what Vette fans would have to say about it but i think THIS is GM's halo car, by a mile.

In the hybrid game, Toyota started first and best and made incremental technological progress and vast progress in winning acceptance. Honda set the MPG bar and then dropped the ball for a decade straight. Ford is really getting into the game with hybrids. Korea is off to a decent start. But GM, having gotten NOWHERE near the credit they deserve for the two-mode truck hybrids, and having been embarrassingly absent from the car-hybrid game for 13 years now just after making fools of themselves with the EV1 debacle, JUST LEAPFROGGED THEM ALL. The Volt is better than stuff from Toyota that hasnt even hit the showrooms yet!

Bravo.

That said, Im still waiting for the Fit Hybrid. Sure, the Volt is amazing, but that doesnt mean it's for everyone. The Fit still has a great balance of attributes that i think would make it a more attractive car overall (to me), IF it drives right and puts up the mpg numbers im hearing.


What y'all think?

triumph5
triumph5 HalfDork
12/5/10 11:33 p.m.

"The Volt is better than stuff from Toyota that hasnt even hit the showrooms yet! "

Details?

One of the more informative issues they've published in a long, long time.

Vigo
Vigo Dork
12/6/10 2:31 a.m.

Eh, im just referring to the plug-in Prius, which doesnt have near the battery capacity.

Also, as far as i know the plug-in prius still uses the same PDS trans setup, which is minorly inferior to the way Volt does it.

I guess it stands to reason to compare the Volt to the Leaf as well, but i dont put them in the same league since you really cant go more than 70 miles at a time in it. There are lots of times i put 200+ miles a day on my old Insight and if i had a Leaf i couldnt use it for about 50% of the driving i do (120+miles/day).

bravenrace
bravenrace SuperDork
12/6/10 6:41 a.m.

Bought.

aeronca65t
aeronca65t Dork
12/6/10 7:55 a.m.

I had no idea what "COTY" stood for.....until I Googled it.

car39
car39 Reader
12/6/10 9:34 a.m.

MT COTY used to be directly tied to the advertising budget. This explains the Renault Alliance as "COTY" I wonder how much $$ Government Motors spent

dsycks
dsycks Reader
12/6/10 9:48 a.m.

Bias much?

car39 wrote: MT COTY used to be directly tied to the advertising budget. This explains the Renault Alliance as "COTY" I wonder how much $$ Government Motors spent
Vigo
Vigo Dork
12/6/10 10:56 a.m.

GM spends a lot of $$$ in motor trend, probably more than any other automaker. But realistically i dont think that changes anything when the Volt could win on its own merit to begin with.

I didnt start reading motor trend until the early-mid 90s. Ive never noticed anything bad enough to turn me away from it, although the letters people write in frustrate me often.

Vigo
Vigo Dork
12/6/10 11:00 a.m.

Where, on the other hand, i DID stop reading Hot Rod after many years. They were definitely the best of their type when i quit reading it, but i really couldnt stand their sporadic floozy issues. Everything would be perfectly fine for many months at a time, and then all of a sudden they would print an issue full of women posing with cars.

Its like if you had a friend who was perfectly normal most of the time, but would randomly say "Hey, i know i havent done anything sexist lately, but you still know im a man, right? Look, my dick is right here! Look at it!". That's pretty much what it came down to. Every time they printed that issue people would write in saying how it was unnecessary and pointless, turned a lot of people away, etc, and the editors' response to those letters was always derogatory and disrespectful.

That pissed me off enough to cut my subscription. MT has never pissed me off that much.

triumph5
triumph5 HalfDork
12/6/10 11:03 a.m.

In the 60s, 70, and most of the 80s, the COTY award was heavily influenced by prior ad revenue. Nothing unknown about that. In the 90s, editorial, surprisingly, flexed a bit of muscle (Car and Driver competition) and got away from almost all of that influence. Today, there's more integrity to the award than in the past.

triumph5
triumph5 HalfDork
12/6/10 11:11 a.m.

In reply to Vigo:RE: Hot Rod wacko issues

Patersen Publishing was trying to emulate the success of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue circulation jump. After about three years of trying, and an editor change, they stopped.

Thread jump aside: You own a Plymouth Arrow Truck. I know the Arrow, don't know the truck. Or is this home-brewed?

ReverendDexter
ReverendDexter SuperDork
12/6/10 11:43 a.m.

I'm really curious about the CR-Z... especially after seeing the turbo CR-Zs at the 25 and getting to drive my friend's new Civic Si (I really dig the over-and-under dash layout with the digital speedo).

If Honda makes a CR-Z Si, I might just be sold.

Vigo
Vigo Dork
12/6/10 4:39 p.m.
Thread jump aside: You own a Plymouth Arrow Truck. I know the Arrow, don't know the truck. Or is this home-brewed?

Its the same thing as a Ram 50, only sold under plymouth. Only made for 3 years iirc.

Dexter, i do agree about the CR-Z Si. I think it will be neat when (no much if) it gets here.

RexSeven
RexSeven Dork
12/6/10 5:19 p.m.
ReverendDexter wrote: I'm really curious about the CR-Z... especially after seeing the turbo CR-Zs at the 25 and getting to drive my friend's new Civic Si (I really dig the over-and-under dash layout with the digital speedo). If Honda makes a CR-Z Si, I might just be sold.

I'm intrigued by the CR-Z as well, but I have some reservations. It doesn't get great gas mileage for a hybrid and when the juice runs out of the batteries after some vigorous driving, you're left with the Honda Fit motor trying to lug around 2700lb. of weight. I don't blame Honda for trying to get driving enthusiasts to switch to hybrids but most reviewers have found the CR-Z underwhelming.

I second the Reverend' and Vigo's motion for an Si variant and will go further to say that maybe Honda can bring back the old CRX trim levels if the Si returns: CR-Z HF for the base model with the best fuel economy, CR-Z DX for the base model with extra content (like an infotainment system similar to the Ford Sync. Gotta get us young'uns into the car somehow!), and the CR-Z Si with a bigger engine (say a 1.8L or 2.0L) connected to the hybrid system. That way in Sport mode the hybrid system can act like a booster and when the juice runs out the engine will be better able to deal with the extra weight.

HiTempguy
HiTempguy HalfDork
12/6/10 5:35 p.m.

You know what I don't get about the CRZ? The fact that (IMO) its mediocre. Yes, its a "good" car. Most cars these days are good cars, you can't build "E36 M3ty" cars anymore. Hell, $10k Hyundai's are AMAZING (again, IMO). But the CRZ isn't anything special. So whats the point? I feel people are trying to convince me its "awesome" when its not.

This kind of gets me thinking of Subaru's "mediocrity" advertising. "We have a car that does nothing well and everything ok!"

Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 HalfDork
12/6/10 5:53 p.m.

Not sure I agree with the Volt hysteria. Not that you are hysterical about it, but the rest of the country seems to be. Would it be wrong to say that the Volt is an electric car with a generator for backup? I'm not sure that is a very big step forward.

In "gas only" mode (generator charging batteries to power motor) it makes 37 MPG with a 75hp engine? I'm an old non-practicing ME who has trouble abiding combining the inefficiencies of the electric motor (~.70), gasoline engine (~.20), and generator (~.75) for a total efficiency, (not counting battery storage or other "transfer costs"), of 10.5%. So during gas assist operation, you've managed to make a 20% efficient gas engine half as efficient.

I'm no major naysayer on environmental technologies, but I don't think that this type of hybrid is the way forward. What they've really created is the fail-safe for those who aren't sure about pure electric cars who might be pushing the range. What does excite me is the technology being developed by MIT engineers to make electrons more "slippery" and dramatically reduce battery charging times (think gas station fill up).
http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2009/03/12/mit_scientists_charged_up/

Did some more reading- apparently the volt can be parallel, series, or ev. Interesting, but awfully complex for a 60mpg combined car. Nope, there aren't others that are making that, but again, just not sure all the complexity is worth it (and how much gas are you going to save to make up for the 2x cost of the car compared a an equivalent non-hybrid sedan?). Still stinks of a "look at me, I'm green" car rather than a real-world solution.

RexSeven
RexSeven Dork
12/6/10 6:22 p.m.

On the CR-Z: A turbo 1.6L would work, provided this is true and Honda has the good sense to bring it here to the states:

http://www.autocar.co.uk/News/NewsArticle.aspx?AR=254419

HiTempguy
HiTempguy HalfDork
12/6/10 7:24 p.m.
RexSeven wrote: On the CR-Z: A turbo 1.6L would work, provided this is true and Honda has the good sense to bring it here to the states: http://www.autocar.co.uk/News/NewsArticle.aspx?AR=254419

I'd buy it in a heartbeat, no questions asked. Even if it was $35kcdn for a stripper, I'd consider it next year

FlightService
FlightService Reader
12/6/10 9:02 p.m.

What is the mpg rating of the Fiat Twin Air powered 500?

Vigo
Vigo Dork
12/7/10 1:51 a.m.
after some vigorous driving, you're left with the Honda Fit motor trying to lug around 2700lb. of weight.

Which to be fair, is a Fit with precisely one extra person in it. Except the CR-Z is lower, wider, and looks cooler.

I feel people are trying to convince me its "awesome" when its not.

I certainly dont think it's awesome. But i think its a promising platform and a perfectly decent car on its own merits. Just like the 2.0/auto 2004 Mazda3 i used to own was a promising platform and perfectly decent in its own right. Sure, it became the black sheep of the family when the MS3 arrived, but the only thing about the MS3 that was different is nuts and bolts. The majority of the goodness comes from the platform itself.

Would it be wrong to say that the Volt is an electric car with a generator for backup? I'm not sure that is a very big step forward.

Not wrong at all. But it IS a big step forward. Why? Because for once an electric vehicle gives you peace of mind of 500mile range, enough battery capacity to be operated as a pure EV in 'normal' conditions, and fully integrated (important!) systems that let you believe its just like any other car, if thats what you want to do.

In "gas only" mode (generator charging batteries to power motor) it makes 37 MPG with a 75hp engine? I'm an old non-practicing ME who has trouble abiding combining the inefficiencies of the electric motor (~.70), gasoline engine (~.20), and generator (~.75) for a total efficiency, (not counting battery storage or other "transfer costs"), of 10.5%. So during gas assist operation, you've managed to make a 20% efficient gas engine half as efficient.

Pretty amazing that it can move 2 tons to 110 mph with only 15hp (10% of 150), and that must only be like 10hp to the wheels because drivetrain loss is always 1/3rd, right? As George W. Bush (a man renowned for his genious) would say, my opponent is using Fuzzy Math!

As an ME, tell me this. Look at the way the Volt (and the prius for that matter) transmits power from the engine and motors to the wheels (basically, the transmission). There is no way you can look at that and tell me it isnt MILES and MILES better than the ubiquitous planetary-based auto trans most cars run around with right now? Hell, its even miles better than a regular old manual gearbox, let alone a twin clutch, sequential, or anything else. Bottom line is it is simpler, more elegant, and much less 'lossy' than any other trans on the road that i can think of.

Interesting, but awfully complex for a 60mpg combined car

A 60mpg 3700 Lb car? Really? I mean, dont get me wrong, i drive a 2001 insight every day and get 50-60mpg. But you know what it weighs? HALF that (1800). Its about 2 seconds and 10 mph slower in the 1/4 mile, runs out of battery charge constantly, holds half as many people and 1/3rd the cargo, cant use EV-only propulsion, is horribly integrated, uses crude IMA hybrid technology, and will kill me 3 times over for the same wreck i would survive in a Volt.

Sure, the Fiat 500 twin air is going to be rated at ~70 avg (there you go, flightservice), and there's a Mazda2 and a less complicated Fit hybrid coming that will do the same mpg.

But NONE of them comes close to the Volt's weight (and subsequent safety/space/ride etc) or has the ability for EV-only travel which equates to ~105mpg for 40 miles. Also, its worth pointing out that MT avg'd their 300-mile test drive mpg (including energy content of electricity and gas used converted to gas cost) as 72mpg.

Believe me, im not being a fanboi. Like i said, i like it better as a tech-geek than i probably would as a driver or shopper. But it needs to be taken for what it is, no more or less.

dsycks
dsycks Reader
12/7/10 5:26 a.m.

The hybrid I am most geeked about its the porsche with the gas powered rear wheels and electric front wheels that uses regenerative braking to spin up a flywheel to store energy long enough to recycle it and let the front wheels pull the car through the apex and up the next straight.

Now THAT is a gear heads hybrid and a future COTY in my book! In all honesty a system of that sort could be used with good effect on a more pedestrian automobile with much less lofty performance goals but as thats not really my demographic I care not.

Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 HalfDork
12/7/10 8:29 a.m.

In reply to Vigo: I don't know how to do all the quotes Vigo- you make some good points.

I do take issue with the "fuzzy math" bit though. If a normal car engine is 20% efficient, and the "system" in a volt is 10% efficient with the generator/battery/motor transition, it would make it 1/2 as efficient as the gas engine. That would give it 75 horses rather than the 15 you stated. Let's not get crazy here.

I think the system is more complex than that, so generalizing this efficiency brings with it many pitfalls as well- the car can run in parallel, series, or ev, so deriving an overall efficiency might be pretty difficult.

Here's the transmission: http://image.automobilemag.com/f/30819661+w750+st0/2011-chevrolet-volt-transmission-cutaway.jpg

If you look closely you'll see the planetary gears inside the electric motor. The rest of the case is interesting, but looks similar to other transmissions I've seen. I'm sure there is much more to it though, and you've got my interest piqued, so I'm going to check it out some more.

Also- agreed with dsycks- the Porsche flywheel hybrid seems a pretty interesting idea.

Vigo
Vigo Dork
12/7/10 12:42 p.m.

Here's the basic concept of how both the prius and volt trannies work. They are basically CVTs that instead of using all the complicated components of common CVTs, simply hook variable speed (and direction for the electrics) motors to each of a planetary gearsets elements (sun gear, planet carrier, ring gear). http://eahart.com/prius/psd/ So by messing with the tool at the bottom there you can see that the the prius basically has a CVT that uses 1 planetary gearset to achieve a wide range of road speeds and can have elements operating at different speeds and loads (including regen) to get the same road speed (to a point).

The volt uses the same basic concept but hooks the gas motor to a different element of the planetary and i think it might have clutch elements that can lock the motor input at 0 rpm or something like that. I rebuilt trannies for almost 2 years as a job, but i cant see enough of whats going on in that pic to say for sure that this is what's going on, its just what ive read.

FlightService
FlightService Reader
12/8/10 7:36 a.m.

Yeah I do not see the Volt being anything more than a U.S. government Prius.

As long as there is a direct link between the engine and the wheels it is just a Prius or a Civis Hybrid. (Depending on if the engine is connected to the motor or the transmission first.)

The promise of a an electric car with a generator back up is not yet realized by a major manufacturer. That is what the Volt was supposed to be. That is not what the Volt ended up being. I believe the Leaf with an on-board generator is the closest to achieving this, maybe Nissan will come up with that option.

I am just happy they aren't pimping the green side of it. Given the pollution of the process in the battery and motor manufacture, electric cars aren't "green". You are just swaping on form of pollution for another.

Found the answer to my own question Fiat 500 Twin Air review

0-62: 11 seconds

Top Speed: 108 mph

MPG combined cycle - 68.9

What is so impressive about the Volt?

alfadriver
alfadriver SuperDork
12/8/10 8:18 a.m.
FlightService wrote: Yeah I do not see the Volt being anything more than a U.S. government Prius.

I didn't want to get involved, but when I read this kind of crap, I think "why the hell do people say this?"

The Volt was started WELL before bankrupcy, and the 2011 target was defined WELL before bankrupcy. Besides the fact that this car was not killed- there's probably little involvement that the government had with this or any other GM product.

For some reason people precieve that there was this massive govenment take over of GM, and while there was some major purging at the top ranks- so that they would tell reality to each other, there's no F'ing way that the government had anything to do with any of the cars GM makes.

It's too bad that people feel that they need to disparage GM and our govermnet. You'll note two things- GM is a US company, and the goverment IS us (or US).

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