2012 Ford Focus ST

The 2012 Ford Focus ST is a new high performance hatchback that takes aim at other sporty powerful compact hatches such as the Subaru Impreza WRX, Mazda MazdaSpeed3, and Volkswagen GTI.

The Focus ST has not previously been available in North America but the Focus SVT was a higher performance version of the model that was last offered in the U.S. for the 2004 model. The Focus SVT had a 2.0-liter 170 horsepower engine.

Engine and Power

The Focus was all-new for 2011 so there are otherwise few changes for the 2012 model year. The Focus ST features Ford’s lightweight, all-aluminum 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost® engine, which is also seen in the 2012 Ford Explorer.

In the Focus ST, the engine produces an estimated 247 horsepower and 250 pound feet of torque. In comparison, the Impreza WRX has 265 horsepower, the MazdaSpeed3 has 263 horsepower, and the VW GTI has 200 horsepower. Expect a Focus ST 0-60 time of under 6 seconds.

Features and Options

The Focus ST has a sporty design, distinctive from other Focus trim lines. The model has unique 18” Y-shaped alloy wheels and front and rear upsized disc brakes for quicker stops. Optional features include partial leather Recaro® seats, heated seats, eight-way adjustable seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and bi-xenon headlights.

The model has uprated shock absorbers and springs that lower its chassis by one centimeter. This gives the car a lower center of gravity and better handling than other Focus trim.

Fuel Economy

Fuel economy has not yet been announced but the Focus ST comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission. The model uses high-pressure direct injection, twin-independent variable cam timing, and a low-inertia turbocharger to conserve fuel. The Focus ST is front-wheel drive but has a torque steer compensation system that counteracts the effects of torque steer feel for the driver.

Coming in 2012

The Focus ST its global debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show. It goes on sale in the U.S. in calendar year 2012. The model brings back more competition in the sport hatchback market as the Chevrolet Cobalt SS and Dodge Caliber SRT-4 were both discontinued.

The Focus ST will be available in more than 40 markets and an ST Wagon will be sold in Europe. Buyers in six continents can enjoy the performance, agility, sound quality, and driving dynamics of this car.

Pricing has not been announced but expect a starting MSRP of about $25,000 making the Focus ST one of the cheapest performance cars you can buy.

Originally posted 2011-09-24 19:24:22. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle is a new generation model that will go on sale this fall. It is the first significant redesign of the model since it was re-introduced for the 1998 model year. The new design is a subtle change but there are noticeable differences with a less bulbous shape, flatter roof, narrowed windows, and a sharp crease along the side.

Volkswagen (VW) seems to be going more for sport for the new model also known as the “Bug”, rather the cute, positioning it to better compete with models such as the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500. The company hopes the changes will allow new Beetle to have more appeal with men, which would help Volkswagen improve its sales and make strides toward meeting its goal of tripling sales in the next decade.

The 2012 VW Beetle will be more upscale. It will have more luxurious materials, a significantly larger trunk, and an optional navigation system, which is not offered in the 2011 Beetle.

The 2012 Beetle will have a base engine derived from the current 150-horsepower, 2.5-liter, inline five-cylinder gas engine. The Beetle will also offer a sportier 200-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a fuel-efficient diesel engine, which will get about 40-mpg highway. The return of the turbocharged engine to the Beetle is another indication of an attempt to bring in more male buyers. There are no current plans to offer an electric or hybrid engine for the Beetle.

The New Beetle is an important model for Volkswagen. Sales of the Beetle have dwindled in recent years. The model has remained largely unchanged for more than a decade, which combined with an economic recession, lead to low sales. The model reached its sales peak in 2003 with 93,000 units sold when the convertible was introduced. In 2010, the Beetle sold only about 16,500 units. The Mini Cooper outsold the Beetle almost 3-1.

The small car landscape has changed dramatically since the Beetle was reintroduced in 1998. There are many new compelling models and the Beetle’s distinctive, funky design competes against other models such as the Kia Soul, Scion xB, and Nissan Cube, in addition to the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500. However, high gas prices do lead to increases in the sales of smaller cars.

The 2012 Beetle has several barriers to overcome. The 2011 Beetle base model has an MSRP of $18,690, which is more than $3,000 higher than competitors such as the Kia Soul and Nissan Cube, or compact cars such as the Toyota Corolla. The New Beetle does not offer a highly fuel-efficient gas engine. Its base engine actually has quite poor fuel economy compared to its competitors.

The 2011 Beetle base 2.5L model has EPA rated fuel economy of 20-mpg city and 29-mpg highway. This compares to the Mini Cooper, which has a smaller engine that returns 29-mpg city and 37-mpg highway. Fuel economy figures and starting retail price are not yet known for the 2012 Beetle.

Originally posted 2011-04-19 05:25:38. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Most Reliable Small Cars

J.D. Power and Associates has released their 2011 Vehicle Dependability Study. The study researched the number of problems vehicle owners reported on their particular make and model. J.D. Power and Associates ranked vehicle makes and models based on owner vehicle problems per 100 units basis, requiring a sufficient sample size to make an assessment. This study provides information about which are the most reliable small cars.

In the study, J.D. Power polled 43,700 original owners on problems experienced during the past 12 months on 2008 model-year vehicles after three years of ownership. This research provides good information about how car makes and models are performing overall after two to three years in use.

According to the study, the most reliable subcompact car was the Honda Fit, with the Toyota Yaris and Hyundai Accent in the top three. Although the Fit is typically a little more expensive that many other subcompacts, it offers spacious cargo room for its size and tops many small car-rating lists. In the compact car class, the highest rated model for reliability was the Toyota Prius with the Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Matrix making the top three.

In the compact sporty-car class, the Mazda MX-5 Miata was found to be most reliable followed by the Scion tC. In the compact multi-purpose vehicle class the Scion xB was the highest ranked model followed by the Chrysler PT Cruiser.

Overall among automotive brands, the most reliable car company was Lincoln, which may surprise some. This was the first time in its history that Lincoln has taken the top sport. Lincoln owners reported an industry best 101 problems per 100 vehicles. Lexus at 109, Jaguar at 112, and Porsche at 114 followed Lincoln. Toyota, the only non-luxury brand in the top 5 most reliable 2011 car brands, was next at 122.

On the other end, the study found that the least reliable car company was Mini. Mini owners reported 221 problems per 100 vehicles. Mini, the British auto company that is owned by BMW, makes the Cooper, Clubman, and Countryman models. BMW finished mid-pack with a score of 164 but did have the highest ranked “Entry Premium Crossover/SUV” with the X3. Jeep, Land Rover, and Dodge followed Mini as the companies with the worst reliability with scores of 214, 212, and 206, respectively.

On a positive note for Mini, J.D. Power and Associates has released the results of its 2011 customer satisfaction survey, officially known as the U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) StudySM, and Mini finished first for greatest customer satisfaction for dealer service among mass-market brands. Lexus finished first among luxury brands. Suzuki ranked lowest in customer satisfaction with dealer service among mass-market brands while Land Rover finished lowest among luxury makes. This seems to indicate that while Minis have reliability issues, when Mini owners are at the dealer, they have a positive experience.

While the data in the dependability study does not reflect the state of 2011 models, this information can help consumer predict the durability of a model for a new or used car purchase. This information about the most reliable small cars can really help new and used car buyers, as reliability is very important for a car.

Originally posted 2011-03-22 16:12:26. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Mini Roadster

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is a clear choice if you are looking for an affordable two-seat convertible. It is the cheapest two-seat convertible you can buy as a 2012 model with a starting price under $25,000 and has been highly regarded since it debuted more than 20 years ago for the driving experience it provides.

After the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky ended their brief runs after the 2009 model year, the MX-5 Miata was the only model of this type available in its price range. It has no direct competition. However, this is about to change as the Mini Roadster will go on sale in North America in mid-2012.

A True Convertible

Mini already offers a convertible offering for the four-seat Cooper. It is a fully automatic soft-top that retracts in just 15 seconds. The soft-top also has a built in sun roof. The Cooper convertible starts at an MSRP of $25,650 offering Mini’s 1.6-liter 121 horsepower base engine.

The convertible is also available in the Cooper S trim,with the turbocharged 181 horsepower engine, and the John Cooper Works trim, which gets 208 horsepower out of its turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

What separates the new Mini Roadster is that it is a true two-seat convertible. The concept of the model was first shown at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show and the model is set to make its formal debut at the January 2012 Detroit auto show.

MINI auf der IAA 2009
Creative Commons License photo credit: Jürgen Stemper // Bloemche

Engine and Power

The Mini Roadster will feature the same engines as the Cooper. The base model with the 121 horsepower engine is expected to start at about $24,000, which is comparable to the MX-5 Miata. However, the Mazda offers a 2.0-liter 167 horsepower engine and a 0-60 time of about 7 seconds. The base Mini Roadster will be significantly slower but should offer very crisp, agile handling.

To have superior acceleration, buyers will need to step up the Mini Roadster S or Mini Roadster John Cooper Works. However, the Roadster S will likely start at a price near $30,000.

Differences Between the Cooper Convertible

Mini began offering the Mini Coupe for the 2012 model year. It is a two-seater with a trunk, unlike other Cooper models that have a hatchback. The Roadster will essentially be the convertible version of the Coupe. The Roadster will have stainless-steel rollover bars, a more steeply raked windshield, and have a roof height 0.9 inches lower than the Cooper convertible.

The Roadster will also have a manual soft-top, with a center-mounted latch on the windshield header. However, raising the roof is made easier by a push button that activates pneumatic springs to hasten the time it takes to put the roof in place. Unlike the Cooper convertible, which comes in three different colors and racing stripes, the Roadster will only be offered with a black top.

MINI Cooper Cabrio * MIautumn
Creative Commons License photo credit: jiazi

Advantages and Disadvantages the MX-5 Miata

The Mini Roadster has several advantages over the MX-5 Miata. One clear edge is in trunk space. The Roadster has 8.5 cubic feet compared to just 5.3 cubic feet for the Mazda. It also offers an optional six-speed automatic transmission whereas the Mazda has just a five-speed automatic transmission.

While fuel economy has not yet been announced, the Mini Coupe S has EPA-estimated fuel economy of 27-mpg city and 35-mpg highway, which is about 20% better than the Mazda. The 2012 MX-5 Miata has EPA-estimated fuel economy of 21-mpg city and 28-mpg highway.

The Roadster’s disadvantages to the MX-5 Miata are topped by the fact that it offers significantly less power at a comparable price. It also does not offer a power top, unlike the MX-5 Miata, which has retractable top trim lines. Learn more about affordable new convertibles in our Cheap Convertibles article.

Originally posted 2011-10-31 22:53:12. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Volkswagen Up!

A production version of Volkswagen’s new subcompact model, the up! has made its debut in advance of its formal debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show in September. The three-door Up! is smaller than the Volkswagen Polo, which is sold in overseas markets. At just 11.6 feet long, the model is smaller in length than the Mini Cooper.

The up! Is another example of the growth in the subcompact class. It is expected to be one of several new small cars from the German automaker, as people around the world want affordable, fuel-efficient transportation, with a hint of fun and smart use of interior passenger space.

The Up! Is nearly as tall as it is wide, which affords for more passenger and cargo room than many other subcompact models. It has 33.6 cubic feet with the rear seats folded, which is larger than the Mini Cooper Clubman.

The up! Should have tremendous fuel economy. It is being offered with both a 1.0-liter that produces 59 and 74 horsepower in different three-cylinder gas engines. Electric and natural gas engines are in development.

The up! boasts a host of new innovations that help make the car safer. For example, the up! is the first small car with optional City Emergency Braking that automatically activates the cars brakes at speeds under 18 mpg when its laser sensors detect an imminent collision.

The up! Is scheduled to go on sale in Europe in December 2011. It will be offered in three trim lines: the basic take up!, the mid-level move up!, and the top end high up!. The naming conventions are similar to the Kia Soul, which uses the “!”and “+” symbols in its trim lines.

The up! is being manufactured in Bratislava, Slovakia. Volkswagen hopes its small car expansion boosts sales as the company has aggressive growth targets. In a sense, the affordable up! returns the company to its roots, as Volkswagen in German literally means the “people’s car”.

A decision on whether or not to sell the up! in America has not been made. However, the up! was conceived primarily with markets in Europe and Asia in mind.

Originally posted 2011-08-21 22:07:58. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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