AD #1141 – Ex-Fisker CEO Teams With Penske, Nissan to Build Mercedes, Chevy’s New Oil-Burner

May 24th, 2013 at 11:49am

Runtime: 7:37

Former Chrysler and Fisker CEO teams up with racing icon Roger Penske. Nissan will build an entry-level Mercedes at its plant in Mexico. After getting to put some miles on the car, Autoline offers its quick impressions of the Chevy Cruze Diesel. All that and more, plus fill-in host Frank Markus of Motor Trend shares his thoughts of his test drive of Porsche’s supercar, the 918 Spyder.

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Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily. I’m Frank Markus from Motor Trend filling in for John today. In a little bit, I’ll share my thoughts on my test drive of the Porsche 918 Spyder but first let’s get to today’s top stories.

LASORDA & PENSKE TEAM UP
Former Chrysler and Fisker CEO, Tom LaSorda, is teaming up with racing icon Roger Penske. According to Bloomberg, the two are setting up a venture capital fund, called IncWell, to invest in new technology. The fund is targeting companies focused on clean energy, medical, health-care, transportation and information applications and will provide between $50,000 and $250,000 for each start-up it invests in.

NISSAN TO BUILD CLA IN MEXICO
A few years back, Daimler and Renault-Nissan teamed up to share engines and produce a small-car platform. And now we have new details on another project they are working on. WardsAuto reports that Nissan will build the entry-level Mercedes CLA at its plant in Mexico, as well as a new Infiniti model based on that platform, starting in 2017. A crossover vehicle for both Mercedes and Infiniti will be built on that platform as well. The CLA, which hits dealerships this fall in the U.S., is currently being built at Daimler’s assembly plant in Hungary.

CHEVY’S NEW OIL-BURNER
Yesterday the Autoline crew got a chance to put some miles on the new Chevy Cruze Diesel. They were impressed with how quiet it was inside the cabin and really only noticed the diesel with the windows rolled down. And the Diesel’s retuned suspension easily handled all kinds of road conditions. A well-equipped Cruze diesel costs just under $27,000 and is on sale right now in select dealerships. Autoline will have a more in-depth look at the Cruze Diesel in upcoming shows, but if you can’t wait that long, check out last night’s Autoline After Hours with Mike Siegrist, the Assistant Chief Engineer of the the car.

NEW MAZDA3 IMAGE LEAKED
The eagle-eye staff over at my publication, Motor Trend, spotted what appears to be the new 2014 Mazda3 in Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s annual “Car Wars” analysis. The leaked image shows the hatchback will carry over Mazda’s Kodo design language, with long swooping lines met by hard edges and a front grille that is similar to the 6. But we’ll have to wait for more info about the 3.

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS: PORSCHE 918 SPYDER
Hybrid gas-electric supercars with pricetags bracketing a million bucks made a lot of news at this year’s Geneva motor show. The redundantly named Ferrari LaFerrari topped the list, with a $1.2 million dollar pricetag and a combined horsepower rating of 950. Priced almost as near, the McLaren P1’s engine and motor will reportedly produce 903 horsepower. The car that started this trend, Porsche’s 918 Spyder, starts at “just” $845,000 dollars and produces 887 hp and 940 lb-ft. Porsche will be first to market, with production starting on September 18 (get it?), and I recently got the chance to be one of the first 18 non-Porsche employees ever to drive the 918.

Porsche says its big 6.8-kilowatt-hour plug-in battery and two electric motors differentiate the 918 from its competitors, providing up to 18 miles of electric range with a Tron-like whirring sound and all-wheel-drive acceleration to 60 mph in what feels like less than the claimed 7 seconds. And on the European combined fuel economy cycle, it’s reportedly registering over 70 mpg!

But toe into the throttle past about 70 percent and the flat-plane-crank V-8 roars to life, with its exhaust barking out the top of the engine just two feet back from your ears. Now you’re in Hybrid mode, which still optimizes for fuel economy. The Sport and Race modes keep the engine on for maximum performance—like 0-60 in 2.8 seconds. Race mode works harder to keep the battery full, and a “hot lap” button temporarily allows the system to discharge the battery deeper than usual to deliver maximum thrust.

What struck me most during my brief lapping session was how easily this all-wheel-drive supercar delivers its stunning performance. The brake pedal feels firm and linear, with no hint of a handoff from regenerative to carbon-ceramic braking. The thrust from two motors and that LeMans-derived V-8 is otherworldly, and despite full-throttle acceleration out of every turn, my more careful braking into the turns left the battery with more energy than at the beginning of my session. If you’ve got the $845K to spend, get your order in quick—half of the planned nine-hundred and eighteen copies are already spoken for…

Coming up next, a look at how automakers need lighter materials, to meet stricter fuel economy standards.

Over the next decade automakers must achieve tougher fuel economy standards. One way to do that is to cut weight from the car and that’s the topic on Autoline This Week. In the following clip, Carla Bailo, the head of R&D at Nissan in the U.S. explains just how much weight needs to be cut from vehicles for automakers to meet the standards.

(Clip from Autoline This Week about weight reduction can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)

Also joining John for that show is Frank Macher from CSP Plastics and Rose Ryntz from IAC. You can watch that entire show right now at Autoline.tv or check your local public television listings to see if Autoline airs in your area.

And that brings us to the end of today’s show, but a quick programming note. The Autoline crew is taking Monday off to honor Memorial Day in the U.S. so that means no new Autoline Daily. And with that, I’m Frank Markus from Motor Trend, thanks for watching and have a great weekend.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog and WardsAuto.com

92 Comments to “AD #1141 – Ex-Fisker CEO Teams With Penske, Nissan to Build Mercedes, Chevy’s New Oil-Burner”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    From yesterday, I know this is not a political forum at all, but Kit wrote about China yesterday and let me remind everyone that China supports our enemies like N Korea and Iran and it’s the enemy of allies like Japan and Taiwan. We build there cause of cheap labor and cheap land, hence more profits for greedy companies who could give 3 flying F’s about our country. And yes I was born somewhere else but I have been an American for most of my life.

  2. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I’m thinking that GM will have a winner on their hands with the Cruze diesel,and I think it’s priced pretty damn good too.Best of luck…

  3. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ my friend Pedro: and I am the son of a first gen immigrant on my fathers side,and Mohawk on my mothers side.You are as American as I am ;}>

  4. Carl Says:

    #1 I don’t think all companies can be painted by the same broad brush. Many companies build there because that is where the customers are and the economics require manufacturing as close to the market as possible. Also, most governments require local content or the company must pay high tariffs.

  5. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Commenting on reduced vehicle weight: while reducing vehicle weight will contribute significantly in city (stop and go) mileage, once that weight gets ‘up to speed’, the law of inertia will keep that weight moving with a less significant contribution to mileage. Some gains will be had for highway, but except for a little less tire loading, there just won’t be extravagant gains. That’s my take; I’m certainly not an engineer so correct me if I’m wrong.

  6. Kit Gerhart Says:

    1,
    I have mixed feelings about GM, or any other “western” company doing business in China, for the reasons you mention, but it seems that doing business there is part of today’s world, for everyone.

    Also, I’d rather companies like Apple, and most other electronics companies made their stuff somewhere else, but I guess making more money is the name of the game in that business. Oh well. There isn’t much we can do about it. If we don’t want stuff from China, we are pretty limited in what we can buy.

  7. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Agreeing with G.A. (on the Cruze); while the price is above the regular Cruze (LTZ, loaded model), the diesel comes very well equipped (and has only about a thousand dollar premium, which can very likely be recouped via fuel mileage fairly easily). Watch last nights AAH; quite good and numbers are revealed (some anyway).

  8. Kit Gerhart Says:

    4,
    The more efficiently regenerative braking can recover energy, the less car weight matters. Increasing energy recovery efficiency of hybrids is a parallel effort with reducing weight.

  9. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Hmmm……where have I heard this before?

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/italy-to-fiat-please-please-please-dont-go-im-beggin-you-to-stay-i-love-you-so/#more-489485

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    It’s a vicious cycle, we want our cheap stuff, because life’s basic necessities have gotten so expensive, food, fuel, housing, insurance. So we look for cheap toasters and TV’s to make up for that and that’s why they get made in cheap labor countries, I’d rather pay double for a quality, American made toaster than a cheap, disposable Chinese one. But there is none to be found.

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Cruze diesel has a better EPA highway rating than a Jetta TDI, but a worse city rating. Maybe the worse city rating is because the Cruze has a torque converter automatic, vs the Jetta’s DSG or manual.

    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=33578&id=32716&id=32717

    I look forward to CR’s fuel economy tests on the Cruze, and any other serious fuel economy tests anyone might do, comparing the Cruze diesel with other high mpg cars.

  12. HtG Says:

    I think I’ve hit a wall. Mercedes having Nissan make CLA cars in Mexico violates my sense of the Merc brand. One thing it means is that there aren’t enough upscaling consumers to buy the cars. First Joke; what does Mercedes call CLA buyers? Prospective Mercedes customers.
    —-
    If you weren’t going to be watching the Monte Carlo race this weekend maybe you’d like to see Jackie Stewart give some instruction about how to drive the circuit. With his shirt off.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-jAk-i5A_s

  13. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ HtG: it sure does make a statement about the world economy doesn’t it.’Bargin bin Mercs’…..whoda thunk it..

  14. HtG Says:

    Will buyers of CLA be so smitten by the Tristar badge that they’ll be convinced they’re buying a Mercedes? Nissan derived engine? FWD? You guys will have to monitor the telewaves for me to see how this imposter gets flogged on ‘Ellen’

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    13,
    MBUSA won’t bring us the C-Class wagon, or the E wagon, except with 4WD, but they are bringing us their version of a Hyundai Sonata, from Mexico. I suppose the CLA will make money, but it will certainly dilute the brand, at least to me.

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    They should sell the CLA as a Smart. The Smart dealers could really use something else to sell.

  17. Broge Says:

    30% reduction in weight = a car 25% smaller in size.

  18. M360 Says:

    I think Frank did a great job in John’s place today. Thanks, Frank.

  19. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Broge: But it seems every model gets bigger AND heavier.Weight reduction so they can gain weight.Sounds about right for corporate thinking ;}>

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    The Nissan lady and others speak of the need for lighter cars, but in actuality, they’re all getting heavier and bigger, when are we gonna start seeing these so-called “lighter” vehicles?

  21. Brett Says:

    re: Monaco / Monte Carlo

    Did anybody else reading this get involved with the racing sim “Grand Prix Legends” back in the early 2000s? It wasn’t successful because it wasn’t an arcade racing game, but a darned difficult to master simulation of the 1967 Formula One season.

    From my own deep involvement with it, I get this weird faux-nostalgia sensation when I see races at the old tracks. It is particularly strong when I watch the movie “Grand Prix”. I have a very genuine sense of experiential nostalgia for the tracks, cars, and racers even though I’ve never actually been to any of them in person, let alone raced a Formula one car at them.

    Just thought I’d share this. It was one heckova great sim in its day and, IMO, still is. I’m thinking about building a new computer just to reload it and hook up with some of my old friends.

  22. Chuck @ GM Says:

    Kit @10
    Looking for a favorable review for an American company from CR? I have to admit I don’t read many because the ones I have read are generally negative towards US OEMs. No question we deserved it at one time, but not today, at least today’s OEM’s.

  23. ColoradoKid Says:

    HtG ….. 11 & 13 …. Agreed …. unfortunately . I knew this was coming ( MBOCUSA ) I’m still in shock ( though Renault in the EU also builds M-B’s minivan ) and more than a bit appalled .

    Isn’t it bad enough we’ve got Audi badged VW’s … Cadillac badged Chevy’s Holdens and OPEL’s … Acura badged name your Acura …. Lexus badged Toyota’s … not to mention Infiniti badged Nissans ?

    As to your question on 11 …. let me say … all the MBOC forums are alight with anger over this … almost to a number . As TTAC said so well … this could be the downfall of Benz .

    Though …. thinking about the discernment capabilities of the average automotive consumer ( especially in the US ) What’ll you bet they snap em up like funnel cakes at the county fair …. unfortunately

    We truly live in an era where if Ferrari were to wrap dung in gold leaf with a Prancing Horsey stuck on it ….. they wouldn’t be able to make them fast enough … guaranteed

  24. pedro fernandez Says:

    This Nissan deal with MB will hurt traditional buyers of the brand, they will question how “Mercedes” their sought-after new Mercedes vehicle really is.

  25. T. Bejma Says:

    “Cadillac badged Chevy’s Holdens and OPEL’s”

    What the hell are you talking about?

    ATS/CTS – Alpha Platform
    XTS – Epsilon Platform

    Opel – Absolutely ZERO rear wheel drive cars and no Epsilons

    Holden RWD – Zeta Platform, shared with the Camaro and nothing else

    Stick to sound/music CK and let the automotive professionals inform…

  26. ColoradoKid Says:

    Henrik Fisker in the news – Now he’s teaming up with some Korean investors because …… cough ….. he wants’ his’ company back . Sorry Henrik . Its ours ( US tax payers ) until that is Lutz gives it away to the Chinese .

    —–

    And now for some good news … from Monte Carlo no less …. Renaults 21st century R5 Turbo ( concept ) …. albeit with a V6 now amidships …. yeah baby ! Build it . Send em here n’ sign me up ..

    http://www.evo.co.uk/news/evonews/289636/renault_twinrun_v6_hot_hatch_concept.html

    Memories of driving that original R5 Turbo up Trailridge road at full tilt back in the 80′s coming to the fore .

    Beep Beep zip Bang …. Mr 911 driver …. ;-)

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    CR has the only real fuel economy data for comparing cars sold in the U.S., other than the EPA numbers. Generally, the CR numbers relate more closely to real world mileage than the EPA numbers.

    As far as CR’s car reviews, I think they are mostly objective. They evaluate cars as appliances, and rate them accordingly. If you read the entire reports, and look at their data, you can learn what they like, and don’t like about a vehicle, and decide what matters to you.

    No, I don’t buy cars based on the “overall score” CR gives, but they perform a valuable service, especially in measuring fuel economy.

  28. ColoradoKid Says:

    24 – Of course they are son . Of course they are … you just keep believing that …. and maybe Santy Paws and the Easter Bunny’ll pay you a visit this summer as well ;-)

    ( methinks from here on in I’ll just humor the poor dear )

  29. HtG Says:

    22 I expect MB knows their customers. Remember the BMW X3 was made by Magna and the Boxster made in Finland under contract? But something snapped here with the CLA, even though I think it’s pretty good looking in the flesh. (Years ago a friend was touring a coat factory in the PNW, and watched them sew different premium brand labels on products coming out of the same workshop)And hasn’t Subaru been making Camrys, NUMI making Corollas and Matrixes? It’s just the Mercedes feels like it must be authentic; ‘echt’ in German, not ‘ersatz.’ They’re keen on the real deal.

  30. ColoradoKid Says:

    HtG – Agreed on all counts . Till these recent moves ( including that Renault minivan thats been getting deservedly panned left and right in the EU press ) …

    ……BMW and Mercedes were the last of their kind e.g. What it says on the hood is what it is underneath .

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It seems that, in times past, MB’s slogan “the best or nothing” didn’t apply across the board. The first “Baby Benz” 190 that preceded the C-Class was truly underwhelming, and cost way too much. Now, though, the C-Class, is a very nice, well rounded car that is “a real Mercedes-Benz,” but the CLA just doesn’t seem to fit the mold. I guess time will tell. Maybe it will have virtues that will set it apart from the other Mexican front-drive sedans, and we will all be proven wrong in our skepticism.

  32. Kit Gerhart Says:

    27,
    What do you objectively dispute about what I said? Lets have some details.

    Who else makes any serious attempt to test a large number of cars for fuel economy, under the same conditions, in a way that can be used for comparison? Yes, that’s right. No one.

    They even like most of the Benzes, except some of them don’t come out so well in the reliability surveys.

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    31, disregard. Post numbers have shuffled.

  34. MJB Says:

    @19

    … When American’s stop demanding 21 airbags, run-flat tires, lane-departure and other misc. warning systems, parking assist, 5-star crash test ratings across the board, stability control for vehicles that pose no threat of rolling over even in a 50mph cornering manuever, and every other sort of over-wrought safety precaution for which anybody with decent driving skills has no real need., but add vehicle weight.

  35. ColoradoKid Says:

    Kit ! Did I type the wrong number ????….. No … I’ve got 24 which was Bejma …. not you good sir .. Phew … thought I was gonna have ta offer up another mea culpa …. this’ns on you though I’m afraid Kit !

    Oh wait … methinks you meant somebody else on your 31 !

    Oh well … its Friday … You’ll get it sussed out …. :o

  36. ColoradoKid Says:

    32 – Gotcha ;-) No worries …

  37. T. Bejma Says:

    #31

    Kit – I think he was commenting on my post. Sometimes the numbers get mixed up.

    CK thinks that if he says something is true, and someone questions it, he makes some general response with NO facts, figures, links… uh… SUBSTANCE, and that makes him right. Watch his MO. It is really quite humorous…

  38. ColoradoKid Says:

    36 – Of course I do son . Of course I do . Funny thing is …. Lance Armstrong said almost the very same thing to me back in the 90s .. and errr …. look how that worked out ;-)

  39. ColoradoKid Says:

    Toodles and a good Memorial Day / long weekend to all … see ya on the flip side ( Tuesday ) ….and do take a moment to remember those who gave their all so’s we could have discussions like this …

    ” The USA … Its a screwed up mess for certain … but its still the best screwed up mess there is … in the World “

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    36,
    Yep. I think so. I thought he was commenting on mine. Maybe I got the number wrong, or maybe the post numbers shuffled.

  41. T. Bejma Says:

    ATS sales doing very well this year…

    http://wardsauto.com/sales-amp-marketing/ats-winning-respect-cadillac-brand-director-says

  42. pedro fernandez Says:

    TB I’m seeing a lot of Sparks at areas where seniors live, do you have any data on the number of older folks buying these cars? seems the same thing happened with the youth-oriented Scions back when they came out.

  43. Kit Gerhart Says:

    42,
    TB, this is mainly for you.

    it seems to me that Chevy is losing a lot of sales to “seniors” in my area, which is near the intersection of Florida states roads 520 and A1A. Check the location on a map.

    I’m in a condo, having many retirees as residents. Most of those retirees are older than this retiree, and don’t go as far from home. There are a lot of KIAs and Toyotas in the parking lot, but not many Chevy’s, except for 3 or 4 Impalas that were bought before the people moved there. A likely reason that there are so many KIAs is this. There is a KIA dealer about 2 miles, and 3 stop lights away, in a very convenient location. The Toyota dealer is only slightly farther. Meanwhile, the Chevy dealer is about 10 miles away, and that 10 miles includes lot of stop lights, and the most dense traffic you find in the immediate area. You have to want a Chevy to go there, but you go past the KIA and Toyota stores on the way to the nearby Walmart. I’m pretty sure having a conveniently located dealer makes a difference with these older car buyers. If there were a Chevy store next door to the KIA store, some of these Souls and Sportages would be Sparks, Sonics and Equinoxes.

  44. cwolf Says:

    It is one thing to believe in your stated beliefs as facts, but another when they come across as though one is expected to share the same beliefs as though a new messiah has come upon us! Ain’t gunna happen!!
    I think many of you are right to think all the over regulated crap and unwanted toys is a first good step to reduce weight. If a car becomes 1000 lbs. lighter, just think how crappy it will ride and how it will be more effected by stronger winds. Even with todays heavier cars, semi’s tend to blow you off the road at times.

  45. cwolf Says:

    One more thought: Could it be we have become brain-washed into thinking that establishing a global economy, esp with the likes of China, would be good for all of us? Did the renduring of our technology create more jobs and enrich the average citizen anywhere equal to the more affluent? And to maintain the “lead” through new and developing technologies, have we been provided the skills and education needed to make them possible to maintain that lead before it was freely given to countries, like China, for the sole sake of profit? So I ask, during the time the US lead the world after WWII, were we not ALL prosperous enough without a world economy, without giving our secrets away as though they were disposable diapers?

  46. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ cwolf: It seems to me that every way they find (oems) to shed the lbs,new regs put it back on.Hey,maybe I’m wrong there but that’s the way it looks to me.Mammoth size A-pillars are the norm now,and damn hard to see around,so in comes the new electronics and cameras etc.More weight.And the beat goes on….

    “for the sole sake of profit”..yeah.Doing business with ardent corrupt communist countries.I personally despise it.I’m glad I’m old and damaged so I don’t have to see where this whole thing goes.

  47. T. Bejma Says:

    #42

    Don’t have any actual demographic data, but I am also seeing the same thing as you here in Michigan. I believe that the seniors are drawn to the low price of the Spark ($13K) with lots of features (standard air and power windows) and probably some of them may be GM retirees or related to them.

    #43

    That is too bad about the location of the Chevy dealer Kit. I would drive a long way to go to a dealer I wanted to do business with, but I understand that the retirees do not want the inconvenience. One thing we can not do is get to the point where we were before bankruptcy when the dealer network was just too large. If I was that dealer that is near you, I would set a ride and drive event and then offer to deliver the car right to their doorstep. That would probably give me an advantage over the Kia guys.

    Thanks for the feedback guys!

  48. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #47,
    I hate to suggest it, given the China discussion, but maybe the Chevy dealer should set up a ride and drive in the Walmart parking lot, if they could work it out. It happens to be next door to the KIA dealership. Better yet, they should set up a “branch” of their dealership on Merritt Island, near the KIA, Toyota, Chrysler, and Lincoln/Jaguar/Land Rover dealerships.

    I suspect Ford is losing sales for the same reason as Chevy. Their dealership is west of US 1, and, like the Chevy dealer, not convenient for Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral residents.

  49. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I just drove my ’89 Caravan, refreshing my memory regarding progress, or lack thereof, over the last 25 or so years. For those who don’t know, the first generation Chrysler minivans ran from ’84 to ’90 model years, so my ’89, except for the turbo 5-speed power train which they used only in ’89 and ’90, is the same as an ’84 Caravan/Voyager.

    My van would obviously not be very crashworthy compared to today’s vehicles. It has no air bags, and weighs less than some of today’s “compact” cars. Also, it is noisy compared to almost everything on the market now. On the other hand, it actually drives ok. The handling isn’t much worse than a lot of today’s SUV’s, and the ride is surprisingly good on the highway at 70 mph, especially given the leaf springs on the back. The bottom line is, I’d rather be in a crash with almost any of today’s cars, but as far as the ride and drive, it ain’t bad for a 30 year old design.

  50. pedro fernandez Says:

    Perhaps these are the same seniors who used to buy Buicks and now because of the ever decreasing buying powers of Americans, they still wasnt new cars for the sense of security and not having break downs, but can only afford entry level cars like the Spark.

  51. cwolf Says:

    Did you ever look or sit inside a Spark and say, a lil’Fiat 500? Surprisingly, the Spark seemed roomy. The taller height may have something to do with the sense of roominess. A lady at work said the Spark got her where she wanted to go and was inexpensive.

  52. craig Says:

    You say Mercedes, I used to think high end excellence. But now that they are having Nissan build their cars (?) in Mexico (not Germany) I think of Mercedes as the McDonald’s of the auto industry. Who in there right mind is going to pay top dollar for that?! Oh how the mighty have fallen. Too bad, so sad.

  53. cwolf Says:

    My uncle’s new car started to wander all over the road and didn’t even have 500 miles on the dial. The dealer had to replace the whole front end, just like the one the dealer did the week before. Oh yeh, Uncle Dempsey has a 2013 Cad. XTS.

  54. Kit Gerhart Says:

    51,
    The Spark is especially roomy in the back seat for such a small car. It is the same length as my MINI which has a totally useless back seat, but I can actually sit in the back of the Spark ok, at least for short trips. Yeah, the Spark’s being 6 inches taller than the MINI, and a little taller than the 500 really helps with the packaging of passengers. Another thing I like about the Spark, is the colorful interiors, rather than the usual black, grey, or tan.

    The real downside of the Spark, other than the way it looks on the outside, is that it is REALLY SLOW, at least with the automatic. I suppose the Spark is a little quicker than the older Jetta diesel I had, but a Prius is a hot rod in comparison.

  55. cwolf Says:

    I forgot about the colorful interiors of the Spark. It’s nice to see something different for a change. And you are right, again, about it being slow. But wait a couple years and it will grow to Cruz size and come with a 6 cyl. Isn’t this the way it goes?

  56. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ 52: Had to replace the whole front end? Can you elaborate?

  57. cwolf Says:

    @55 Sorry G.A., I can’t at least at this time. From what I was told, it was more than something being loose. According to him, much what lies behind the wheel assembly was replaced. I don’t know why this would be unless to remove all doubts to correct any defect/problem and satisfy the customer. To be honest, my uncle may not know much about cars and, well…..?

  58. cwolf Says:

    #56 cont.-
    My wife and I rode in the back seat to/from a funeral. I must say,from my observations, the insided was well laid out, comfortable, quiet and checked all the boxes for a lux. car. The over-all fit and finish was top notch. It’s a very good looking car, to say the least.

  59. cwolf Says:

    There are a couple of JD Power surveys(Europe) posted in “AUTOCAR”. I believe the sample size skews the validity a good deal,but at least indicates the direction of customer satisfaction. Anyway, the survey shows Chevy is last and the Spark taking last spot, as well. No real surprise considering….., but last?

  60. pedro fernandez Says:

    Cwolf as much as GM tries to hide it, it is still a Daewoo, they call is GM Korea, whatever! only time will tell, but most reviewers prefer the Versa, same price and more “substantial” car, only missing is all the electronic goodies packed into the Spark, honestly it would be last on my list of cars to buy in the segment, only better than the Smart,

  61. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It’s not surprising that Chevy would rate in Europe, Their “high volume” cars are Spark and Aveo.

    Spark’s most direct competitor in the U.S. is Scion iQ, and the Spark is a better car than the iQ, as far as how it works. I’d expect the Scion to be more reliable, though.

  62. cwolf Says:

    I’ll agree with you, pedro,up to a point. The Versa is better looking, but more substantial? The Spark hasn’t been out that long, yet sales are growing steady. For the same price, the Spark has more equiptment,options and comfort. For the Versa to have what is standard on the Spark, the cost of the Versa would be pricier by a good amount. For this type of car I would be more concerned about reliability/dependability than where its made. SO… it’s too early to tell.

  63. pedro fernandez Says:

    cwolf I meant more car for the money, much larger inside, bigger outside which translates to a safer car to get hit, specially from behind, I trust Nissa products a lot more than Daewoo.

  64. cwolf Says:

    pedro, if’n only for a city car, I’d rather have a Sonic or Fiesta. They are much more entertaining to drive, ride better and don’t cost much more.

  65. pedro fernandez Says:

    cwolf in Europe cars like the Versa are considered family sedans, due to their higher fuel costs , narrower streets and shorter distances, where here they’re just compacts.

  66. cwolf Says:

    I knew there was a reason why I didn’t want to move to Europe! :>)

  67. pedro fernandez Says:

    I suppose Europeans are also skinnier, otherwise they could not get into some of those cars! BTW having Nissan build the CLA for Mercedes in Mexico or anywhere is a really bad idea, I still hear MB techs telling people NOT to buy used 190E’s cause they’re really not true Mercedes, I wonder what they’re gonna say of the CLA years from now?

  68. cwolf Says:

    Because things cost more in the EU, like England, I can see how the English may be skinnier, but this has been so way before the Euro was accepted. Why, back then, I hear the most desired hookers were on the slim side because their clients had to buy them by the “Pound!!” Yuk-Yuk!!!

  69. pedro fernandez Says:

    “A skinny hooker? Book her” LOL

  70. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I wouldn’t put too much stock in anything that the EU jd powers has to say…especially about an American product(s).I’m totally burned out on this ‘perceived (lack of)quality’ thing that the eu likes to hold against all American cars.With all the $h!tboxes vw/audi and others put out they should concentrate on their own stuff.I’ll compare the fit and finish of my nox to anything in that same price range,and zero problems in going on 2 years.

  71. pedro fernandez Says:

    #69 100% true, just watch Top Gear and for them anything German, Jaguar and Land Rover are the pinnacle of auto perfection while everything made in the US and Asia is absolute rubbish.

  72. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It would be hard to objectively evaluate American cars in Europe, because basically, there aren’t any sold in Europe. In the UK, they are an extreme case of “niche” products, as there aren’t any American cars even remotely intended for that market, in being made in right hand drive versions.

  73. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Top Gear is a show I will not watch.In fact,any show that takes every opportunity to slam the USA isn’t worth watching.

    Jag,land rover etc,all automotive jokes on the public.Snotbagmobiles for low to no information cretins that have more money then sense.Whatever those tools have to say is not worth listening to.

  74. T. Bejma Says:

    #62

    Versa doesn’t actually get that good of a safety rating…

    http://www.cars.com/nissan/versa/2012/safety-ratings/

    Sonic get’s much better scores (search at the same site, if I use more than one link, it delays the post)

    Of course the Versa is bigger than the Spark, the Versa is a B-Segment and the Spark is an A-Segment vehicle. The only A-Segment vehicles in the US are the Spark, Fiat 500, Smart Fortwo and Scion iQ.

  75. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It seems that the main thing the Versa sedan has going for it is being roomy for its price. Even CR which, according to some people here, hates domestics and loves imports, rated the Sonic sedan much higher than the Versa sedan. Also, a bit telling, is that Versa received a very low “I would by it again” rating in CR’s survey.

  76. pedro fernandez Says:

    The previous Versa seems to have tested better than the new one, seems that in order to save money, they skimped on certain things, while actually making it larger inside.

  77. HtG Says:

    Versa. I’ve driven it for 5 yrs.

    You want an appliance? You want value? You want great visibility and perfect perception of where the car is? You want amazingly comfy seats for hours in the saddle? You want reliable? You want a company that’s falling over itself to please you in the service department? You want excellent cornering grip?(shocking how planted this thing is) Can you put up with numb steering and an electronic throttle? This is your peach.

  78. Kit Gerhart Says:

    75, 76
    As Pedro says, most reviewers like the previous Versa better than the current one. It sounds like you have the good one, HtG.

    All I’m going on is what I’ve read, though. I haven’t even ridden in a Versa. The closest thing would be a Sentra taxi in Guadalajara, Mexico, and that Sentra probably would have been two generations ago. There will soon be a new Sentra hatch called “Note.” It will be interesting to see how the reviews of that one turn out.

  79. Kit Gerhart Says:

    77, I meant Verso Note, not Sentra.

  80. HtG Says:

    2008 Versa hatchback is merely a competent car. It serves functions. If it has any character, it’s in being comfortable, from it’s high seating position to its weird ECU that keeps the car rolling even if you lift. I’ve driven it comfortably for hundreds of miles. Just a light car with great visibility and creature comforts. For people who don’t depend on the brand to let strangers know they’re the bees knees. (there are faults, like the steering wheel doesn’t go up/down, if you want to change direction quickly the high ride height will forced you to wait for the mass to change directions) It’s not for nothing that this car is sold all over the globe.

  81. ColoradoKid Says:

    G.A.

    Whats gotten up your pants of late ol’ friend ? Sheesh …. from your posts this weekend its sounding like you’re morphing into a bonafide insular xenophobic ‘ Ugly American ‘ Which is to say you’re beginning to resemble a Vermonter …. which aint good at all ol’ pal

    And … in Top Gear UK’s defense …. you do need to realize our cars absolutely DO NOT work in the EU/UK …. so for their roads … our cars are utter crap . Errr….. not to mention … other than Ford of late …. every car built by a US manufacture is a good five years behind the times technology wise ;-)

    ( five- four – three- two …. counting down till Bejma’s company line GM Platitudes & Attitudes rebuttal ……….. one and a half – one and a quarter ………. )

  82. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Wakey wakey…..today’s a new(s)day ;}>

  83. pedro fernandez Says:

    CR had nothing but nice things to say about the Impala, actually saying that it rides better than the new Avalon, you see, CR is not biased against US cars, just biased against crap, wherever it may come from!

  84. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Morning CK: What I said about top gear I’ve said before.In short,I am really tired of America being bashed,especially by people who have benefited from us one way or another.I don’t understand what you mean by our cars don’t work in the uk.I’m completely at a loss as to why not.

  85. pedro fernandez Says:

    #83 as if British cars are so great!! I’ve really begun to despise this Jeremy dude, can’t watch the show anymore due to his biased opinions. Don’t like US Top Gear either, I need a new show, maybe Jay Leno will do something car related once he leaves NBC

  86. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Mornin’ Pedro:US top gear,I only tried to watch it once,and it seemed more like a lame game show.Needless to say I haven’t tried again and won’t waste my time with it.British cars,now there’s a real joke ;}>

  87. HtG Says:

    Someone I know(me) just watched the episode of TG where Hammond goes to Nascar. While the little guy(the show’s secret american) is pro US, the other two comedians have no trouble getting laughs out of the crowd at our expense.

    It takes a while to get over losing your empire to a reasonable man. ‘Go on Jezza, we take your best shot.’ (Whoop, sorry, forgot about Gibralter and Brunei. Have a nice day)

  88. T. Bejma Says:

    Tuesday, May 28, 7:26 AM ET
    Shares of Fiat (FIATY.PK) are up over 4.5% in trading today in Europe to put them at 20-month highs as more Italian newspapers report that negotiations are in a decisive phase over Fiat’s plans to buy the 41.5% of Chrysler it doesn’t own.

  89. Kit Gerhart Says:

    80, 83,
    The main reason U.S. cars don’t work in the UK, is that they are all left hand drive. I drove a left hand drive car (VW Beetle) in Scotland about 40 years ago, and you need to have a passenger, and one you really trust, to tell when it is safe to overtake. If you pull to the the right far enough to see around the vehicle ahead, you are all lined up for a headon crash. Not good.

  90. Kit Gerhart Says:

    My British car is doing just fine. I certainly wouldn’t have bought it, though, if it were available only with right hand drive.

  91. Kit Gerhart Says:

    80,
    ….and what is Ford’s great technology? Turbo direct injection engines that are thirstier than larger displacement, non-turbo counterparts making the same amount of power, or controls that are unsafe to use while driving a car? I can do without Ford’s technology that is “5 years ahead” of the other U.S. companies.

    I like some Fords, though, such as the Focus hatch, except for the “technology for technology’s sake” features.

  92. Brett Says:

    I like the Spark, except that I think it looks like it’s about to sneeze when you look at it straight-on.

    The Sonic is very appealing as well.

    If I could snap my fingers and have a new car this instant, it would either be a new Mitsu i-MiEV, or a Nissan Leaf.

    Our 2006 Mitsubishi Outlander LE is still a terrific highway car for road trips. I don’t need 300 mile range from an electric. I could drive an i-MiEV from Monday through Thursday commuting and not have to charge it.