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Posts Tagged ‘2009 new York auto show’

First Look: 2010 Volkswagen Golf

Pulling a non-rabbit out of its Mütze.

by on Apr.11, 2009

Six generations later, Golf remains VW's best seller.

Six generations later, Golf remains VW's best seller.

It takes a certain confidence to use the word “momentum” if you’re an automaker these days. However, that’s precisely what Stefan Jacoby, CEO of VW of America, did as he introduced the Golf, aka Rabbit, aka Golf, aka Rabbit, in New York. In his view, Volkswagen Group’s record sales and $1.8 billion in profits in 2008 makes “momentum” appropriate, even if sales went down in the loss-making U.S. to 223,128 total units, a decrease of 3.2% versus 2007.

The year 2009, when the sixth generation Golf appears, will be an entirely different matter. VW Group is projecting a loss for the first quarter and thinks even with the new compact that debuted at Paris last fall – its most popular selling car globally – production will decline 10%. The U.S. market is running at a 10 million annual rate, reflecting the worst economic collapse in a generation, and where VW has struggled for decades against higher quality Japanese makes. It’s telling about attitudes in the parent company that the new Golf debuts first in Europe,  Africa,  Asia and Australia before finally arriving here this autumn.

The Golf, though, is a bright spot, even though it is again suffering from VW’s latest reinvention of a reinvention of itself in the U.S. While Rabbit is an appropriate marketing moniker for easy going ‘mericans, it won’t do for the rest of the world where an auto purchase is a more serious financial matter. And apparently it won’t do in the U.S. — once again — as VW’s stated goal to “outperform” the industry as a whole and to gain additional share globally is hinged on universal marketing names.

As a relatively fuel efficient two- and four-door hatchback offered with an extremely efficient, if unfashionable, 2-liter turbocharged diesel engine that’s capable of 30 mpg in city driving, the Golf is the right car at the right time. The turbocharged, 200 horsepower GTI performance version comes with a six-speed manual transmission or on optional six-speed dual-clutch automatic. It provides some advertising sizzle, if not some high sales numbers. (more…)

Sneak Peak: Hyundai Nuvis Concept

Forget the show car looks, underneath is a Korean plan to top Japanese hybrid technology.

by on Apr.10, 2009


The innards of Nuvis contain a hybrid powertrain system that the company has big plans for in its quest to surpass the reputation of Japanese automakers as the proven Oriental innovators.

Eleven and counting. That’s how Hyundai bills its Nuvis concept that debuted at the 2009 New York International Auto Show. That is, Nuvis is the eleventh concept vehicle that was designed at the company’s California Design Center in Irvine. While the exterior and interior styling cues are, perhaps, indicators of the Korean brand’s next crossover vehicle, what really counts is what’s underneath all the show car hype and glitz. 

The innards of Nuvis contain a hybrid powertrain system that the company has big plans for in its quest to surpass the Japanese as the proven Oriental innovators. Hyundai has said it will best all competing automakers in North American fuel economy by 2015, a bold statement from what was once a company that purveyed older, discarded Japanese designs. (But then who thought Hyundai could ever overcome its well deserved reputation for poor quality from its first generation of U.S. compact offerings that debuted back in the 1980s?) Still, a Toyota Prius with 50 mpg on the EPA window sticker when it debuts next month is an ambitious, critics would say, unobtainable target. 

So this quest comes down to Hyundai’s “all-new,” Korean designed “Hybrid Blue Drive architecture” that will really define the Nuvis as a successful concept or just another quickly forgotten helping of Asian fast food. Unfortunately little of the technical detail needed to judge whether Hyundai’s rear-drive parallel hybrid drive system is sophisticated enough to run with the proven, pacesetting Toyota technology. 

What is known is encouraging, but it hardly stands as a breakthrough: a relatively fuel-efficient 2.4-liter engine is combined with a 6-speed automatic transmission and a 30kW (205 N-m) electric motor to maximize fuel economy. Hybrid Blue Drive has an all-electric mode and a parallel drive mode, meaning that the wheels are turned by power coming directly from the gasoline engine, or the electric motor, or both together, as conditions demand. This parallel hybrid setup will be foundation for future Hyundai hybrid drive vehicles, starting with the next-generation Sonata in the United States.  (more…)

First Look: 2010 Subaru Outback

The Australian with the big knife is gone, but the Outback lives on...and on...and on.

by on Apr.09, 2009

Though the guy with the big knife and the crocodile boots is gone, the Subaru Outback remains.

Though the guy with the big knife and the crocodile boots is gone, the Subaru Outback remains.

The Australian with the crocodile boots and the big knife may be gone, but after 15 years, Subaru’s Outback is back in an entirely new skin for the 2010 model-year, making its debut at the New York International Auto Show.

The Outback has much in common with the larger and better-equipped Subaru Legacy, also making its Big Apple debut, though they’re “not quite twin brothers,” according to Subaru of America marketing chief Tim Mahoney.

Arguably the car that helped Subaru transform itself from a struggling niche contender into a serious player in the American market, Outback has captured a surprisingly loyal fan base among off-road enthusiasts and other niche audiences.