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Automotive recap for 2010

Filed under:  Opinions-Tips
 
Comment(s): 5
 
 

I often get in this reflective mood at the end of each year and I thought it might be a good idea to get some thoughts together about what went down in the automotive industry this year.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of every detail, but more a personal observation of more basic and general things. Mostly based on opinion, some of these observations might be off fact, but as they say perception is reality.

MOST IMPRESSIVE BRAND COMEBACK.
This has to be Ford. It has obviously been in play for some years but it is beginning to be noticed by more and more people that would otherwise never pay attention to the brand, much less consider making a purchase. They took a huge gamble by not taking part in the bailouts and mortgaging their entire future (even the blue oval logo) but it is this strength of character that companies need to do more of, instead of going for a handout when they do something wrong. We all do the wrong thing from time to time, but we need to accept the consequences, and Ford did.

ford 2

Ford logo.

BRANDS THAT ARE COMING ON STRONG.
The industry is in for another shake-up, much like what Toyota, Honda and Datsun (now Nissan) did some 30 plus years ago. Now it's Korea's turn with Hyundai and Kia. Watch out. Their goods are quite impressive and we will all soon forget that these brands were at the bottom of the barrel for any type on consideration, other than "cheap".

hyundai kia logo

Hyundai and Kia logo.

BRANDS ON THE EDGE.
This is purely an opinion, but I just don't see how brands like Mitsubishi and Suzuki can continue to survive. It's pretty tough out there and they have a very high hill to climb.

suzuki mitsubishi logo

Mitsubishi and Suzuki logos.

FROM UNIQUE TO UNNECESSARY
Saab. It's hard to believe that this company, which began building airplanes in 1937 was once great, but unfortunately, everyone that has ever touched it has sucked it's soul right out of it. They've done countless stunning concepts during the last few years, from the 1985 Saab EV-1, to the 2006 Saab Aero X, to the 2008 Saab 9-X "Air" BioHybrid, and if they had just done one or two perhaps things might be different. Now it's Spyker's turn. They are new owners and I hope they make it, but I'm not sure that the 2011 Saab 9-4X will do it. Perhaps it's too little too late.

saab scania 3

Saab logo.

THE POOREST BRAND LAUNCH.
There have been countless failed efforts in the automotive industry when it comes to brand launches, but the swing GM took at Saturn was embarrassing. There was nothing in that lineup that ever offered anything really new or groundbreaking, all it ever seemed to be was an opportunity to badge engineer their other vehicles, and not very well at that. This is one I was glad to see go away.

saturn 3

Saturn logo.

BEST LINE-UP IMPROVEMENT.
For so long, the thought of even thinking of Jaguar was just simply foreign. But with the new 2010 Jaguar XF and the 2011 Jaguar XJ, it seems that they finally got their affairs organized. I only hope it continues, with more products like the 2010 Jaguar C-X75 concept. There are many who still have reservations with getting into a Jaguar due to their history of poor electronics issues, but hopefully this is in the past for them.

jaguar logo1

Jaguar logo.

MOST MISSED BRAND.
Many changes have been made in this industry of late, most of which were self-inflicted and well deserved, but I must say that while the product offering for Pontiac was dismal, i feel that the the brand that created the muscle car with the GTO, and had some very powerful history was let go too easily.

pontiac 5

Pontiac logo.

CAR IN DESPERATE NEED OF A FACELIFT.
Truthfully, It needs much more that just a facelift. While it is probably one of the best cars ever made the Porsche 911 is getting a bit old. The brand has done an outstanding job on the new 2011 Porsche Cayenne Turbo and the new 2010 Porsche Panamera, especially in the interior and now it's the halo car's turn. It needs it badly and rumor has it a new one should be here soon. I just hope it's not too evolutionary and more revolutionary. The R8 is a brutal example of how to break new ground in this category, especially by a brand that has not been on this stage before.

porsche 911 997 targa 4s a 10

2010 Porsche 911/997 Targa 4S.

CARS I WANT AND MIGHT GET.

One of the most beautiful, mature and graceful coupes out there has to be Audi's A5 line. The S5 raises the bar, but the 2010 Audi RS5 Coupe is the ultimate choice of the line-up. It's not here yet, but as confirmed by Audi, it will be in 2012 and I can't wait to try it.

While I think the new BMW 5-series is somewhat conservative, I do like it and am anxiously awaiting the M5, especially since it is rumored to possibly include a manual gearbox.

I know there is a new one coming, but I just love the current BMW M3, especially in white (and that is a huge deal for me color-wise, because I am strictly a silver guy). I've had two. A 2002 coupe and my current 2006 convertible.

bmw m3 coupe 10 00

2010 BMW M3 Coupe.

CARS I WANT BUT WON'T GET.
The 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon is a beast, in a good way. And, it comes in manual, as does the stunning 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe. I've driven the coupe and it was quite a ride. This is a great bang for the buck, but I have to say that I would still opt for an Audi RS5 or a BMW M3. I just think they are an overall better package, but it's very close.

The Audi TT RS Coupe. I have wanted this car since the first generation came on the scene back in 2002 and changed not only the Audi brand, but the industry as a whole. But, this one doesn't come in a manual. I know it's a bit old-school, but I like manuals. and, for the price, I can get a better car.

I have always wanted a GTI and more than 1.7 million buyers made the GTI to the world’s bestseller but for as much as I want one, I just can't fit it in m life. Too bad. It's a great ride at a very reasonable price.

Who doesn't love Aston Martin? Possible the most graceful product on the road today the DB9 is a dream car, but the new Aston Martin V12 Vantage has got to be the best buy of all. Unfortunately, it's in the same price range as the R8, which takes it off the list.

When you stand in front of the 2010 Aston Martin Rapide you simply think to yourself... "I can't be seeing this king of artistry and craftsmanship". Everything from its profile to the rear seats is attractive. It's what Aston does best, unlike the Sygnet (mentioned below).

The Cayman has been one of my favorites since the very beginning. And when I saw the 330hp 2012 Porsche Cayman R at the L.A. Auto Show this year I wanted it even more but with a $66,300 starting price, I just don't see me pulling the trigger on this one. Additionally, I suspect that the Boxster, Cayman and 911 lines are all going to get a very dramatic refresh very soon, especially in the interior.

Corvettes are great. And every current model has its attributes, from the 2011 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Carbon Limited Edition down to the best Corvette buy, the Grand Sport, to the basic C6, but the one missing and key feature that stops me from buying one is the interior.

The same goes for the Viper. Even thou the 2010 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR-X is a monster, it still has the poor interior every other variation has, and for my money (and I know you get alot of bang for the buck here) I want more at this price point. It's like going to a restaurant that has dirty bathrooms. There is no need to have to put up with that today. The last 2010 Dodge Viper coupe went to proud new owner D'Ann Rauh. I hope the next generation addresses this minor but important point.

The Audi R8 V10 and only because there is no god, otherwise I would be sitting in one today. This is my number one choice.

audi r8 v10 10 21

2010 Audi R8 5.2 FSIВ® quattroВ® (V10).

CLASSICS I'D LIKE TO HAVE.
This could easily be a post by itself, but I will try to not only keep it short, but also offer a few cars not usually on lists like this. I'll start with this 1985 Renault 5 Turbo 2 owned by a friend of mine. I have made every effort to talk him into letting this go (to me) but no dice. I've been a fan of this very rare bird for a long time.

Porsches are always on a list like this, and certainly it always includes an air-cooled variation like a 993, but there is one particular 993 I've always been drawn to, and that is the 1998 and 1997 Porsche 911/993 Carrera S Coupe. These are the only two years that had the rear split grill and it was unique to the Carrera S, along with a special script on the engine cover. I was in the process of trying to get this particular example, and in the process of negotiating a better deal, someone else came in via the internet and bought it, sight unseen.

I have a friend who exclusively restores BMW 2002s in Lake Forest, Illinois at a shop called The Werk Shop. To see what he can do to these cars is astonishing, and while this is not one of his, one of my favorites is this 1973 BMW 2002 Turbo.

This year, Audi showed the world a new version of the Quattro, but the original and now classic 1989 Audi Quattro is still at the top of the list for many enthusiasts.

It would be an injustice not to include the 1963 Aston Martin DB5, so out of respect, here it is. A completely unattainable goal for anyone to really have, but one can dream.

For the rarest car you've probably never heard, here is the 1967 Artes Campeador from Barcelona. Only one was produced. It was presented at the Salón de Barcelona in 1967, but due to a fire in the Zipo workshops in Barcelona, where it was being built, the project had to be abandoned in 1968.

Possibly the sexiest car ever made, and certainly on this list is the illusive 1967 Lamborghini Miura. Art on wheels. There is really nothing else to be said about this, and I don't think anyone will argue with you either.

lamborghini miura 11 67

1967 Lamborghini Miura SV.

BEST NEW SUPERCAR.
Ferrari changes the game. Again, with the 458 Italia. It almost makes you weep when you look at it. It is so beautiful. The headlights alone will do the trick. After drying off, you'll get inspired again by the gorgeous interior and knowing you can sit in it and be taken to your destination with 562hp at your command.

ferrari 458 italia 10 02

2010 Ferrari 458 Italia. (source: Ferrari)

MOST IMPRESSIVE CAR COMING OUR WAY.
The 2011 Audi A7 Sportback is a stunning vehicle. Some say it is not very photogenic, but trust me, you really have to see it in the flesh. If the exterior doesn't get you, the interior surely will. It is impressive in every way, and when the rumored S7 makes it here (if it does), it will be the one to beat and could possibly be my next car.

audi a7 sportback 3 11

2011 Audi A7 Sportback.

VEHICLE I WISH WAS STILL IMPORTED.
The Land Rover Defender has been a favorite for sometime and this special edition version of the Land Rover Defender by Dutch designer Piet Boon is even more desirable.

land rover defender pb f

2008 Land Rover Piet Boon Defender.

BEST NEW MICRO-CAR.
We all know the Mini, it's one of the most fun and successful cars out there today (I've owned two) but very soon it will have company from Fiat, (via Chrysler) with the Fiat 500 Cinquecento. While it is still only available in Europe, with plenty of special editions, like this 500 by Diesel, it will be available at the end of 2010 and followed by the Fiat 500C (cabrio) in 2011 and should do well. Even thou my choice would be the Abarth tuned 500 R3T, there should be plenty of options for the standard fare. The modern generation of the Fiat 500 was launched on July 4, 2007, and since its introduction, it sold more than 500,000 units in more than 80 countries around the world.

fiat cinquecento 11 06

2011 Fiat 500 Cinquecento.

NEW CARS THAT ARE OFF BRAND TARGET.
It's really too bad that the Aston Martin Cygnet didn't stay as a concept (although why they would bother with this is beyond me). It is nothing more that a rebadged Toyota. I guess I understand the business reason for doing this vehicle, but I just hate the idea, not the car. It's not a bad looking effort, it's just not an Aston Martin. This has been one of my very favorite cars and brands. What it stood for, what it made you feel like, how it looked, and how it performed. All of this is completely lost in this effort. It feels like a sell-out that does not fit the brand personality in any way.

The second vehicle I think is off brand is the 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4. I know very well that I am going to be proven wrong here, because I suspect that they will sell quite well, but I think Mini should stay "mini". Is that so wrong?

aston martin cygnet 1 10

2010 Aston Martin Cygnet.

VERY COOL BUT OVERPRICED.
The vehicles by Icon are fantastic. Possible the only nitch vehicle that still has craftsmanship in the scheme, but it's pretty hard to justify a stating price of 80k for a CJ.

icon cj3b 10 08.png

2010 Icon CJ3B.

COOLEST PICK-UP.
I am not a truck guy, but if I were, I'd get the 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. It looks great in pictures and even better in the flesh. I even like it in orange.

ford f 150 svt 10 1

2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor.

UGLIEST NEW CAR.
I know this is subjective, but I just can't embrace this one. The 2010 Nissan Leaf just hurts to look at.

nissan leaf 1 10

2010 Nissan Leaf.

UGLIEST SUV.
Has got to be the Infiniti QX56, down to the side air vent on the front fenders, which look like an after-market experiment gone awry. And, it starts at $57,850 and has a Gross weight of 7,496 lbs. Emphasis on "gross".

infiniti qx56.png

2011 Infiniti QX56.

DON'T DO IT.
As I mention above, I think the Aston Martin Sygnet dilutes the brand, but if they go ahead with this revival of the Aston Martin Lagonda, I'm gonna start to think some evil spirit has taken over AM.

aston martin lagonda 4 09

2009 Aston Martin Lagonda.

BIGGEST NEW CAR LETDOWN.
I hate to kick a horse when it's down but the new Chrysler 200 is simply disappointing. It is nothing more that a refreshed Sebring and if it were me, If I could not do what was shown in 2009 as the Chrysler 200C EV, I would have just not done it at all.

chrysler 200 11 12

2011 Chrysler 200.

BIGGEST DRIVE SURPRISE.
No brand, or car, has received higher press coverage than Tesla, despite their extremely low delivery numbers. To say that I was blown away by the 2011 Tesla Roadster 2.5 is an understatement. Practicality is not anywhere near the top of the list on this car, but get ready to be amazed by the torque. It really kicks you in your seat.

tesla roadster 2.5 2 11

2011 Tesla Roadster 2.5.

MOST UNDERRATED SEGMENT
Wagons and hatchbacks do not get any respect and I think it's a mistake. Europe has some amazing versions of models we have here, and it's because there is a perception that Americans won't buy them. Perhaps true, but still a shame, because Acura, Audi, BMW, Volkswagen and now Cadillac offer wagons that are probably as practical as an SUV and certainly much more attractive.

audi a6 avant 10

2010 Audi A6 Avant.

THE SEA OF SAMENESS
It's very difficult to identify vehicles today without a logo as in my observation which I call "Speed Branding". As I mention in that post, like them or not, there are some vehicles that still hold an own-able personality rich enough to determine what vehicle you just saw at a glance. Some of those include the Audi TT, Mini Cooper, The Hummer, The Porsche 911 and the Volkswagen Beetle, just to name a few.

vw beetle final edition coupe 10

2010 Volkswagen Beetle Final Edition coupe.

WORST NEW IN-CAR TECHNOLOGY.
Ford's SYNC technology is arguably the best in-car entertainment system available today. Known as My Ford Touch, and powered by Microsoft, it introduces some very cool and convenient treasures but their new feature that brings Facebook and Twitter into the vehicle environment I feel is unnessecary. At a time when we are trying to convince the new generation that paying attention while you are driving is critical, this goes against that message, despite that is is so called "hands-free", and is no less dangerous.

facebook twitter

Facebook & Twitter.

THE COOLEST HEADLIGHT FEATURE.
I'm not real sure why, but every time I see a BMW with "Angel Eyes" (also referred to as "Cat Eyes" or "Halo Lights") I can't help but stare. I just love what it does to the car, and is one of the most identifiable clues that a BMW is headed your way.

bmw angel eyes

BMW Angel eyes automotive illustration by Beau Daniels.

MOST BEAUTIFUL LOGOTYPES
One of the reasons we even exist is to showcase the typographical beauty this industry offers, but here are just a few isolated examples of typography and craftsmanship still in use today. They include Alfa Romeo, Ford and Lamborghini,

lambo alfa ford logos

Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo and Ford logos.

 
 
COMMENTS
chris2513 days ago

great review - I agree with most of your picks and observations - good job!!!

I will say there is a God and I wish I could afford an Audi R8 V10 for the styling and performance for that price is unmatched.
Audi has really turned it up with this car.

Happy New Year - look forward to your posts in the coming months!!!

Doug2512 days ago

"There was nothing in that lineup that ever offered anything really new or groundbreaking, all it ever seemed to be was an opportunity to badge engineer their other vehicles, and not very well at that."

Funny, but that has been my feeling about Pontiac for the last 25 years.

CT2511 days ago

I agree Doug, I suppose the difference is that while Pontiac was simply mismanaged, Saturn was a new effort that was suppose to offer "a new way".

Peter G2511 days ago

I may not agree entirely, but you're doing a great job! Have a Happy New Year!

Brent2509 days ago

This was a fantastic list! I agree with practically everything you said.

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