16 Jan, 2018
Hyundai Veloster and Veloster N

Hyundai's odd 2-plus-1-door coupe, Veloster, has been renewed. It retains the old car's shape, with all dimensions hardly altered (same wheelbase and height, 20mm longer and 10mm wider). The less sloping roof line improves rear headroom by 15mm. Styling becomes less funky but more sporty. In the mechanical side, the base model adopts the Elantra's 2.0 Atkinson-cycle engine with 147hp / 132 lbft, while the Turbo model retains the existing 1.6GDT engine with 201hp / 195 lbft. Transmissions are 6-speed manual or 7-speed DCT. Worth noting is that the Turbo employs multi-link rear axle instead of the base model's torsion beam axle.

However, the headline this time around should be the introduction of Veloster N, the second product of the N performance sub-brand following i30N. It shares a lot with the latter, such as the 275hp / 260 lbft 2.0GDT engine, compulsory 6-speed manual, LSD, sport-tuned suspension (multi-link rear, of course), adaptive dampers, larger brakes and even the 235/35R19 Pirelli P-Zero rubbers. Moreover, its ride and handling is also tuned in Nurburgring. Unlike the i30N, it is available to the US market.

16 Jan, 2018
Kia Forte

The new generation Kia Forte looks more upmarket and stylish, although the claims that it takes design cues from Stinger is unfound. To me, it has the Volkswagen Jetta beaten.

As expected, the car shares platform with Hyundai Elantra, as is the sole engine of 2.0 Atkinson-cycle four with 147hp and 132 lbft (also the same as Veloster), which is mated with either a 6-speed manual or an inhouse-built CVT.

The car is significantly bigger than before - 80mm longer, 18mm wider and 5mm taller, but most of its extra length seems to come from the longer rear overhang, which enables a bigger trunk. By using 54 percent high-strength steel, the monocoque is 16 percent stiffer than before.

15 Jan, 2018
Ford Mustang Bullitt

The Bullitt name returns to Mustang. Again it is a special edition with some cosmetic changes but relatively minor mechanical updates. Outside, the chief differences are black mesh grille, classic black alloy wheels and special dark green paint. Under the bonnet, the 5.0 V8 has been given a freer flowing new intake manifold, larger throttle bodies and "open air" induction system, lifting horsepower by 15hp to 475hp, while peak torque is unchanged. The car's regulated top speed is also lifted from 155 to 163 mph. Manual gearbox is mandatory.

15 Jan, 2018
Mercedes-AMG CLS53

AMG has unveiled its first series of "53" models, the CLS53, E53 Coupe and Cabriolet. All of them share the new 3-liter straight-six with an electric charger, a single big turbo and a 48V mild-hybrid system for a total of 435hp and 383 lbft, which is identical to the recently updated Mercedes S500. The rear-biased, RWD-mode-available 4matic+ system are fitted standard. They are all good for 168 mph and 0-60 mph in 4.3 seconds - except that the slightly lighter E53 Coupe takes a tenth less.

Sadly, these are going to be the flagship models of their ranges. In other words, the CLS, E Coupe and Cabriolet won't have true, "63" AMG models.

15 Jan, 2018
Toyota Avalon

Toyota has renewed its American designed, engineered and built Avalon large sedan. Again the car is built on the Camry platform (now based on TNGA platform) and produced alongside its sibling in Kentucky. Compared with the old car, it is marginally longer and wider. Wheelbase is stretched by 50mm to 2870mm, but the car is 25mm lower, along with lower bonnet and trunk lid to enable a sleeker, lighter appearance like the new Camry and Lexus LS. As for styling, the massive front grille is agressive.

The car rides on struts up front and multi-link rear. AVS adaptive dampers are offered for the first time. In addition to the lower stance and slightly wider tracks, ride and handling should be improved. Power comes from the same engines as Camry, i.e. 3.5-liter DI V6 or, for hybrid model, 2.5-liter DI four plus electric motors.

15 Jan, 2018
Volkswagen Jetta

The last generation Jetta went cheap and unloved in an attempt to sell at competitive prices in US and China. Now it is finally replaced, but signs of cheapness remain. Although the car opt for a crisper, edgier design theme like other Volkswagen group cars, it is not exactly beautiful, especially the nose. The car is larger than the old car in all dimensions. In particular, wheelbase is grown by 35mm to 2685mm, so the cabin should be more spacious. Good news is the interior looks much more modern, although build quality needs close inspection to tell.

The Jetta is finally built on the MQB platform, but unlike Golf, all models employs the cheaper torsion-beam rear suspension. The US-bounded model employs 1.4TSI engine good for 147hp and 184lbft, mated with either 6-speed manual or a new 8-speed auto (no DSG).

15 Jan, 2018
Industrial News

NACOTY: Honda Accord

Just as I predicted in November, Honda Accord has won the North American Car of The Year award, beating Toyota Camry and Kia Stinger.

2017 sales results

The first round of 2017 sales results has been released. Read the following links:

- Alfa Romeo
- Aston Martin
- Daimler (Mercedes-Benz)
- McLaren
- Porsche
- Tesla

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