AD #1548 – Ford Shows New Focus RS, Nissan Maxima’s Fresh Face, Qoros Hires Former GM Exec.

February 3rd, 2015 at 11:59am

Runtime: 8:31

- Ford’s First Global RS Model
- Nissan Reveals Fresh-Faced Maxima
- Kia Picanto Goes Under the Knife
- GM Makes Progress w/ Ignition Switch Fiasco
- Qoros Hires Former GM Exec.
- 2014 China Sales by Brand
- Most Powerful Golf to Hit U.S. Shores

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58 Comments to “AD #1548 – Ford Shows New Focus RS, Nissan Maxima’s Fresh Face, Qoros Hires Former GM Exec.”

  1. Brett Says:

    Kia should offer the Picanto here.

  2. Chuck Grenci Says:

    I’m seeing some Mazda in that new Maxima. Granted it’s different (from the previous ‘Max’).

  3. pedro fernandez Says:

    #1 I wish, but they won’t even though you got cars like the Fiat 500 and Spark here, I suppose they feel the market is not large enough to accommodate more tiny cars. Toyota,Nissan and Honda also have little cars they sell in Europe, but not here.

  4. Lex Says:

    On the latest AAH Gary and his guests were speaking to the question: “What is wrong with VW?”. I can sum it up in one word “BORING”! The styling of these cars is boring and their CUV & SUV are over priced.
    I would like to see the Scirocco rather than the Golf R Spec cruising US Streets. Even the new Audi CUV and SUV have no styling. To quote Jason Vines “They got hit with an ugly stick”.

  5. pedro fernandez Says:

    I think that if VW improved their quality, they would sell many more samples in the US, they do have excellent driving dynamics and in the case of the new Golf, it has the serene ride and quietness of a Camry with the handling of a sports sedan.

  6. Kit Gerhart Says:

    4, 5 Improve quality, or quality reputation as the case may be, and like I’ve said too many times already, expand their dealer network. You don’t become a mainstream brand with a luxury brand-like dealer network. That’s luxury brand-like in numbers, not customer experience. From my experience, VW dealers are, at best, equal to Toyota or Chevy dealers in customer experience.

    As far as products, VW has some good ones. Drive a Golf or Passat and you find that they driver very well compared to the competition. Yeah, the styling could be called “boring,” but couldn’t that be said about Camry and Accord, both of which sell quite well?

    Yeah, they need competitively priced CUV’s for the American market, since those are the hot item now. Both Tiguan and Touareg are nice enough vehicles, but they cost too much.

  7. JDay Says:

    #2 that’s exactly the first thing I thought when I seen the new maxima, mazdas new “kodo” styling is all over the front of the that thing. Looks good tho and I like it as I like the new mazdas too. As for v dub it doesn’t make any sense to me, they say vw is doing very well and selling a lot of vehicles but I rarely see there new stuff on the road. Just driving around observing vehicles on the road I’d guess they are failing as a company but the numbers say otherwise. Ware are people hiding all there VWs lol maybe there so boring I just don’t notice them.

  8. pedro fernandez Says:

    So Kit, are you saying that if VW increased their dealer network in the states they would sell more vehicles, despite their crummy reputation? I also remember there were very few SAAB stores in NJ, but they sold a lot of them back in the 80′s. You just had to drive out of your way to buy one.

  9. HtG Says:

    Kinda makes you wonder what VW’s secret sauce is in China. (No puns intended)

    For RS

    one thing I have trouble with is torque vectoring in a performance car. Why do hotshots want the car to steer for them? I see it in Porsches, BMWs, the Fiesta ST etc. It’s not like this stuff is even permitted in some race categories. (Others maybe) Isn’t getting a car to turn a skill?

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    HtG I supposed compared to the rotten home brewed vehicles over there, the VDubs must look like 1990′s Hondas over here!

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    7 I think they’d sell more, especially truly mainstream cars like Jetta and Passat. Also, if more people had a convenient place to even look at the VW products, a certain number might like what they see.

    VW still has a poor reputation for quality, even though the actual quality has probably improved.

    People go out of their way to buy something a little unique, as I did with my MINI, and a few people do with Golf, but to get mainstream buyers, people want convenience. I even see it with less extreme cases than VW. At my condo at the border of Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach, I see a lot of newer Kia’s, and not so many newer Hondas or Hyundais. I suspect that is, at least partly, because the Kia store is about 3 miles and 2 stop lights away, while the Honda and Hyundai stores are about 12 miles and 15 stop lights away. Yeah, that should have much bearing on buying a car every few years, but it seems to.

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    8, 9 When I was in China about 20 years ago, nearly all of the taxis in Shanghai were VW Santanas, which were about like the generation of Passat called Quantum in the U.S. I think VW got into joint venture car making car in China on the ground floor, and they’ve kept their lead.

  13. Drew Says:

    VWs are often heaviest in class. They also often rely on premium fuel to make enough power to get the lead moving. And many of the trim levels that give me the features I want also come with plastic seats. I don’t care if it’s called leatherette or MB Tex or simply vinyl, I won’t buy a junk material from the 1970s.

    Other brands take note – I want cloth seats! You are forcing me to forego all the tech upgrades (many of which I desire) because I also don’t want leather “seating surfaces”.

    A future ALD report about seat covering trends, technologies, and customer preferences/satisfaction could be very interesting. I’d bet many customers are forced into leather or vinyl when they’d prefer a high quality cloth (not mouse fur).

  14. Bradley Says:

    What is the magic VW has in China?

  15. Bradley Says:

    A 1992 Nissan Maxima SE w/automatic transmission made me a car guy.

    The current Maxima doesn’t stand out of a crowd like they did back then. Not so much because of styling, but with reliability, luxury and quietness.

    At a time when the average four door car had just over 100hp, the Maxima was delivering nearly double. Granted it cost about double the average car back then, but it was very apparent as to why.

  16. pedro fernandez Says:

    My buddy and I reviewed the new Golf and he fell heads over heels for it, actually told me that would be his next vehicle, now he changed his mind due to the poor VW record, specially new models made in Mexico, so he may wait a year or 2 so they de-bug the car.

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    12 VW’s 1.8 turbo, the standard engine in most car models, uses regular gas, but yeah, most other non-diesel VW’s need premium, not good for “mainstream” cars.

    I’m with you on cloth seats. I like them. Even the “mouse fur” stuff seems to last forever, though I don’t like the way it looks. The idea of vinyl being standard in a $55K E-class or 5 series seems crazy, but that’s the way it is. At least today’s vinyl seems to hold up a lot better than the stuff used in the ’60′s and ’70′s.

  18. John McElroy Says:

    Here’s why VW’s don’t sell well in the US market. Go to TrueCar or any other car-shopping site and take a look at their lease rates.

    I just priced out a 4-door Golf S automatic with a price of $23,120
    36-month lease = $249/month with $5,881 down.

    Compare that to a 4-door Honda Civic EX-L automatic with navigation priced at $23,745. 36-month lease = $199/month with $3,814 down.

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It sounds like the Civic is a much better lease deal. John, do you know what percentage of Civics and Golfs are leased, rather than purchased?

    You remind me once again, that I just don’t see cars the same as most Americans. If I were in the market for a “primary” car, the Golf would be high on my shopping list, but the Civic would not. Yeah, I’m one of a handful of Americans who like car-height hatches and wagons.

  20. HtG Says:

    18 John, I get different numbers on the Civic. The site says for a $24,340 car, 35mos, will be $302 with no money down and 12K/y miles. Do people really drop 3800+ on a lease?

    Jeez, I want a new Civic now. ;)

  21. HtG Says:

    19 Kit, the NADA presentation I saw had Jetta leases at 45%.

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    21 Thanks, that’s a lot more than I would have thought.

  23. Pete Says:

    An observation from yesterday’s AD 1547. The Pontiac Aztek was the “ugly duckling” of the 2000s decade. The Nissan Juke could hold the same title for the 2010s decade.

  24. Mike Says:

    Baked into any lease is a “look forward” guess at the residual value at the end of the lease. I could imagine that the difference between the VW and the Honda lease cost is the higher valuation for the Honda at 30 or 36 months. VW/BMW/Audi/Mercedes can be frustrating for all of the little things wrong with them at trade in. It takes time, MONEY, and Patience to fix all those gadgets and gadget lights.

  25. XA351GT Says:

    Oh come on Ford get with the program The RS should be a 3 door.

  26. pedro fernandez Says:

    #18 VW thinks they’re really a “premium” brand, so-called affordable German engineering compared to the others Deutche brands, so they price their cars accordingly even though they’re worthless after the warranty expires. (Diesel excluded)

  27. HtG Says:

    Isn’t this the dirty truth about VW? They’ve burned too many people in the US with their quality and reliability? And now they’re a rental company? The thought of running a VW makes my guts turn. Why would I do that? Just get the Civic, dummy. No one is impressed by your ‘German engineered’ car.

  28. Henry Leach Says:

    I can’t quite figure out why you chose to split GM into two product lines while all of the other auto makers are identified by their corporate name. GM places second when Buick and Chevy are combined. Do all of the other manufactures sell only one vehicle line that also happens to be the same name as the company?

  29. pedro fernandez Says:

    German engineered, Mexican built, imagine if they did the same with German beer, Deutchland ingredients, brewed in Mexico with local water, YUK!

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Current VW’s drive well, have attractive interiors, and with the 1.8 turbo replacing that crappy 2.5 liter 5 cylinder, get competitive gas mileage. The TDI’s get great mpg, but with diesel often costing 20% more than regular, it takes a lot of driving for them to be cost effective.

    Still, even if the reliability improves, as seems to be the case, it will be years before the perception of poor reliability subsides. Heck, there are still people who won’t buy a GM car because their 1971 Vega was a POS.

  31. pedro fernandez Says:

    BTW TTAC has an article on a company renting Audi A4′s only called Silvercar, I hope they have a very good towing service.

  32. Kit Gerhart Says:

    27 But Honda won’t sell we Americans Civic hatchbacks any more. Yeah, I realize that not many Americans would want Civic hatches, and they come sort of close to offering one with the Fit.

  33. pedro fernandez Says:

    I just wonder if there’s any truth to those who claim that the German built VW’s sold there are superior to the US samples, built in Mexico and the US?

  34. HtG Says:

    29 I thought the interior of the new Golf was great. The Golf I drove some years ago was super on the highway.

    But what’s going on? Do Americans abuse VWs? Why the horror stories?

    And I know about those Honda Odyssey automatic transmissions and mid 00 Civic motors. Still, I’d buy a Fit if I needed a new car, but a Golf? Huh? I keep cars a long time.

  35. HtG Says:

    What’s going to happen with all these technical marvel cars as they age and get into the hands of people with less money?

  36. pedro fernandez Says:

    Civic used to be available here as a 3 door hatch and a little tall wagon thingy as well as the 4 door sedan, 2 door coupe and Del Sol models. Civic was like a whole car class within Honda

  37. pedro fernandez Says:

    I suppose they will drive with no speedometer, no radio, no navi, They will have to replace the factory radio with an aftermarket one (if the on-board computer allows it) Even opening the trunk/hatch will require some innovative after market tinkling with the electronics.

  38. HtG Says:

    33 To be honest, I adore the Golf. For its shape and meaning. But dammit, make a good car, VW. I’m not impressed by what junketeer journalists think about a product they don’t have to live with and pay to maintain.

  39. HtG Says:

    35 That two door hatch is the one I really wanted, Pedro. It was perfect. But when the time came to buy, (Accord totaled thanks to a hydroplaning Crown Vic) I could only get the Civic coupe. Its looks have only now grown on me.

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    30 I don’t know what to think about Audi reliability. CR’s surveys show decent reliability for most Audis, including the A4. You’d think the Audis would be less reliable than the VW’s, since they tend to be more complex, with more gadgets. Maybe most likely, is that VW doesn’t know how to run car factories in Mexico, where a lot of US-bound VW’s come from.

    It almost seems that VW needs to consult GM, Ford, and Chrysler about how to run car plants in Mexico. The US based companies seem to have a history of getting decent quality from their Mexican facilities.

  41. HtG Says:

    Maybe we should be mega impressed by what the Toyotas and Hondas can achieve in this market. (not going to leave out the Yen assist that keeps the prices down, but lots of those cars are made here)

  42. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yep, most of the high volume US market Toyotas and Hondas are made in the US. The only Toyotas I’ve had were from Japan.

  43. Kit Gerhart Says:

    25 The Fiesta ST should be a 3-door too. It is a 3-door, everywhere in the world except th US, and probably Canada.

  44. pedro fernandez Says:

    I just don’t see very many older Audis around these parts, perhaps they have gotten better during the first few years of ownership. but as the years and miles pile up, it could be a whole different story. #41 during the 90′s, the US built Camry and Accords were even better than their Japanese siblings.

  45. pedro fernandez Says:

    TTAC reports that the new Corolla was the best selling car in the US, No wonder I see them all over the place, I have been saying that it is stealing sales away from its larger stablemate, Camry.

  46. Kit Gerhart Says:

    44 Yep, it is stealing sales from Camry, and if they sold it as a hatchback in the US, it would steal sales from Prius.

  47. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit, but the Corolla can’t touch the Prius’ MPG numbers.

  48. Kit Gerhart Says:

    46 If the Corolla hatch cost $4K less, it could be a serious alternative for those who don’t drive a lot of miles. Also, it would have an appeal to those who “keep cars forever” that a Prius might not. Still, a Prius is not a bad choice, even for those who don’t drive a huge amount. It costs barely more than the most comparable non-hybrid hatchbacks, like Focus and Golf, and may hold value better.

  49. Todd T Says:

    #18, Hi John, not sure why you’d price compare a Golf and a Civic, when the Jetta is VW’s volume car where the spend to support the lease, and is more comparable to Civic. There’s a national lease offer on the Jetta, of $159 a month/36 month with $1,999 down.

    #14, Kit hit the nail on the head in #12, VW’s success in China is because they were first in. VW Shanghai was a joint venture plant that began production in 1985. FAW-VW was a joint venture that began in 1991. Just about every Taxi in Shanghai is a VW.

  50. Kit Gerhart Says:

    14, 48
    The thing I remember about riding in those VW Santana taxis, is how the drivers must have been trained. The cars had 4 speed manual transmissions, and the drivers drove smoothly, and for fuel economy. They shifted early, and matched revs well. I appreciated it, because that is how I normally drive manual transmission cars.

  51. C-Tech Says:

    @ #33 HtG I don’t think VW U.S. owners are more abusive of their cars cars than other countries. Headlamps that fail, oil leaks, nav radios which fail just out of warranty are not items which are abused. The previous generation Beetle is also somewhat fragile.

  52. C-Tech Says:

    Reading the book “The Machine That Changed The World” and I understand better how Toyota and the Japanese system of close cooperation of OEM’s and suppliers works better than the western systems mass production and lowest bidder contracts.

  53. Anthony Says:

    HtG -

    Look how many people are attending performance driving schools? Not nearly enough for to compare to the performance cars sold.

    Why do so-called purist constantly complain about the electronics that help the average driver get into the ballpark with professional racing drivers and OEM track testers (sometimes one in the same)?

    I see nothing wrong with helping the driver and this is not giving everybody a trophy so I wouldn’t concern myself with it.

  54. HtG Says:

    52 You’re exactly right.

    I’ve said the same things, Anthony. I don’t like to keep bringing up the driving courses I took, but I did conclude that the experience required an interest, lots of money(the best money I’ve ever spent on cars), and an aptitude. I think driver aids, whether for safety or fun are the correct path for the government and industry to take. But it does make me feel like a silly purist, and I’m feeling ever more detached from cars emotionally. What I wonder is how involved other people will remain; we see today that its the infotainment/connectivity gizmos which customers desire even over handling. Why not also simulate driving ability if it pleases the customer?

    I hope I don’t sound defensive, because I agree with the decision making of the industry.

  55. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’m all for driver aids, like ESC and various crash avoidance systems. I’ve never driven a car with adaptive cruise control, so I don’t know what I’d think about that.

    The thing I don’t like, is the driver distraction technology that all of the car companies are installing. Some is worse than other, but until there are truly autonomous vehicles, the controls should be simple and intuitive, suitable for use while, you know, driving a car.

  56. HtG Says:

    Bring ‘em on. One of the most important things I learned is not to fantasize about driving ability. Taking a course or doing a track day isn’t any reason at all to boast or be confident. The ability to take instruction and change what you’re doing, that’s a key trait. What we see pro drivers doing, like only turning left?, that’s magical.

  57. pedro fernandez Says:

    The main reason Toyota had such great quality was that I remember reading back in the day that raw material went in at one of of Toyota City and at the other end a finished product would come out, most major components were built in-house.

  58. C-Tech Says:

    @ #56 Actually that approach was at Ford (Rouge River) and GM (Flint)well before Toyota. The change Toyota made, because they realized early after WW2 they could not compete with Ford and GM that way, was to involve suppliers in the design and production of their vehicles. This is what improved their quality and reduced waste.