Archive | December 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, 2008 LA Auto Show highlights

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!  It’s been awhile since I last wrote here.  I hope all of you are doing well.

This blog entry is a few weeks late but I thought I’d share some of the vehicles I really liked at this year’s Los Angeles International Auto Show.

Mazda MAZDA3

Some people hate that the new MAZDA3 looks like it’s smilling.  I love it!  I’m still not too keen on the plastic above the fog lights, but that may grow on me.The new 3 will hit Mazda showrooms this spring in sedan and hatchback form.  That said, I still highly recommend the current MAZDA3 as the best compact car one can get right now (if all-wheel drive is not needed).

Honda Insight

Seeing the Honda Insight Concept in person made me think, “I wouldn’t mind being seen in that.”  Honda’s upcoming Toyota Prius-fighter looks cool and maybe even fun-to-drive.  Shortly after the LA Auto Show, photos of the production version Insight were released.

To stay informed about Honda’s new hybrid, make sure you check out Inside Line‘s Honda Insight Buzz Station page.

Five Axis Lexus GS 460

The more I see flat (i.e., not glossy) paint on vehicles, the more I like it.  This Lexus GS 460 modified by Five Axis looks great.  But I think what Five Axis did to a Lexus IS F last year looks even better.

2010 Ford Mustang

Meh.  As far as pony cars go, here’s what I think.

Chevrolet Camaro > Dodge Challenger > Ford Mustang

2009 Porsche Boxster and Cayman

Very nice!  I’ve got a feeling Devoted Dan, my 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX Sedan, won’t be able to keep up with these on the track.  Also new for MY2009 is Porsche’s dual-clutch automated manual transmission called Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe, or PDK for short.  Reviews of Porsche’s new gearbox have been positive except that the tranny’s interface via steering wheel-mounted buttons or the shift lever are counter-intuitive.

Ferrari 430 Scuderia

Wow!  Forget the Ferrari California shown below.  The 430 Scuderia was my favorite Ferrari at this year’s show.

Aston Martin DBS

Absolutely beautiful.  However, I think Aston Martins look best in Silver or British Racing Green.

Lotus Evora

I like Lotus’ new 2+2 more than the Elise and Exige.  In fact, I like it so much that I went and got one…in Gran Turismo 5 Prologue for the PLAYSTATION3 (PS3).

Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Race Car

I think the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI is a pretty neat car.  So does, which currently has one in its long-term vehicle fleet.  What many of you may not know is that there is a Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup racing series here in North America.  The above car is an example of a Jetta TDI Cup race car.  The use of Audi R8 front brake calipers is interesting and a little funny, too.

MINI John Cooper Works

I’ve never driven a MINI Cooper.  Hopefully, I’ll take one for a spin sooner than later.  Rowing through the gears of this MINI John Cooper Works (JCW) Hardtop impressed me because of the shift lever’s positive feel through the gates and short throw.  I wish all BMW manual transmissions, which tend to have long shift throws, felt like this.

These are the cars I really like during my brief time at this year’s Los Angeles International Auto Show.  I hope you all enjoyed my highlights.

As 2009 approaches, I think it would be nice to leave you all with one of my favorite moments of 2008.  My trip to Buttonwillow Raceway in March resulted in a 0.470 second improvement over my previous best lap time of 2:12.215 on Buttonwillow’s Configuration #13 clockwise.  My lap of 2:11.745 is the first lap shown in the YouTube video clip below.

The sting of bling

At this year’s Los Angeles International Auto Show, there were some factory-modified vehicles that some brands prominently displayed.  Hear are a few of the atrocities my eyes (and camera) couldn’t resist.

2009 Ford Focus Coupe

Now, let’s compare the Focus above with the 2009 Ford Focus RS hatchback available in Europe.

2009 Toyota Venza

The 2009 Toyota Venza is Toyota’s all-new wagon/crossover born with an identity crisis.  For the most part, it’s basically a Camry Wagon.  On the other hand, it also shares components with the Highlander.  The sad thing is “dubs” (20-inch or larger diameter wheels) come standard on factory stock V6-powered Venzas.

Here’s what I think of all of these:

Next week, I’ll share some of my favorite vehicles featured at this year’s LA Auto Show.