Tag Archives: hatchback

2017 Lexus CT200h – Test Drive, Review, Ratings, Specs


An Entry-Level Lexus Gone Hybrid

The CT200h is the cheapest ticket that will buy you into the entry level Lexus Luxury club. While sporting flashy looks, its impressive fuel economy is where the CT200h really shines. And that’s thanked by renowned hybrid powertrain directly derived from the Prius, which has been tested down to its bones. The CT200h is no by no means a thing of new however. Its window price sticker stacks up against the Mercedes GLA, Audi A3 minus the gasoline-electric options though.

2016 Ford Focus – Test Drive, Review, Ratings, Spec


Getting the Job Done with the Ford Focus

With its carbon footprints dating as far back as 1998, it was perhaps the Ford Focus that helped shape the insights and ideas of what a proper 5-door hatchback should be. As of today, the Ford Focus has become so popular and mainstream that everyone including your neighbor’s dog probably knows of the infamous Ford Focus.

2015 Nissan Micra – Test Drive, Specs, Rating, Price


A Functional Car Slapped Together from the Blue Bin

If there ain’t nothing wrong with it, why change it? After all, most people don’t need all that flashy gadgetetry that ultimately drive up cost when it comes to buying a car. With that being said, props to Nissan for introducing the Nissan Micra – essentially a time machine of the nostalgic 90′s where interior cabin space was ugly, all door handles had to be pulled to ensure they were locked, and windows had to be rolled down.

2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0L EcoBoost, Test Drive, Specs, Rating, Price

2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0LIt’s got a small engine, but with a big heart.

Squeezing out mileage by compacting engine displacement and reducing cylinders is an obvious feat.  The real problem creeps in when trying to make a car drive well with an engine that underwent liposuction.  And that is exactly where the Ford Fiesta 1L EcoBoost shines.  Despite its miniature single liter 3 cylinder engine, the Ford Fiesta 1L still manages to hit the spots where it means most.  The 2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0L EcoBoost is a well executed fun and forgiving 5 door hatchback that offers sports-like handling, good fuel economy, and a generally easy and practical car for everyday use.

Infiniti gives first look at Q30 hatchback

Infiniti Q30 Concept

FRANKFURT — Five years after crossover vehicles came out in droves, the auto industry is all abuzz over compact SUVs. Similar to a crossover, a compact SUV fits well into the urban environment while offering owners convenient utility.

Infiniti plans to enter this space in 2015 with the Q30 model.

On its way to the production model, Infiniti revealed a concept for the Q30 here at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt. Infiniti writes in a press release that the Q30 concept defies categorization, sitting somewhere between a “coupe, hatch, and crossover.”

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Giving it the Q30 name, rather than QX30, suggests that Infiniti does not want the vehicle classified with its larger crossovers, the EX and FX, which are undergoing a name change. Currently, the Infiniti’s Q models are all sedans. The Q30 would add variety to that end of the lineup.

Sitting up on 20-inch wheels and with its high sides, it looks taller than a typical hatchback, so would seem to fit the compact SUV category.

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Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Mazda 2 Review

It’s astonishing how much innovation and technology automakers cram into their vehicles every year.  For the case of the Mazda 2, all the high-tech bells and whistles gets a slap across the face.  While the rest of the automakers out there are racing off to come up with the best ideas to win customers, Mazda took a step back with the Mazda 2 and focused their design efforts driven by a single criteria – simpler is better.

By simpler, we mean a car that fulfills all your daily basic tasks and does a good job at it.  It’s kind of like shopping for a smartphone.  Most of them on the shelf today can surf the web, find the nearest pizzeria, or even measure your heart beat, but all you really want is to make phone calls.

Apparently popular on demand, our Mazda 2 press vehicle was delivered to us in a “party rock” green tone.  As a matter of fact, the popularity was more like a norm.  We’ve spotted multiple Mazda 2′s on the road in which all were the same color.  Not that we’re suggesting you have to fit in with the norm if this is the car you want to buy.  Fortunately, the Mazda 2 does come in five more subtle shades of color to better fit your taste.

The overall size of the Mazda 2 is small, but functional.  It’s narrow and tall chassis fits 2 full grown adults in the front seats and two teenagers or mid size adults with no issues.  The compact size also makes it very easy to park and maneuver in tight spaces.  At a short wheel base length of 2.48 meters, you do suffer from limited trunk space.  Fortunately, the rear seats do fold back to increase cargo space.  The materials used through out the cabin area is again, nothing exciting.  We were pleased to see audio control on the steering wheel, but the clothe material used on the seats gave us a very cheap impression and even susceptible to lint build up and tearing with repetitive use.

While we do appreciate the efforts made to keep all features minimalistic in the 2, but ultimate simplicity takes a toll on convenience.  For starters, there is only one key lock on the driver’s door and there is a single power lock button located in the lower center console.  This cascaded effect requires opening the drivers door and reaching for the power lock button to unlock any other door.  The vehicle also has to be unlocked before the trunk door button will open.

The 2 is powered by a moped on steroids.  Since the engine is actually a 1.5 liter 4 cylinder engine, this statement doesn’t completely hold true, but it certainly does feel like one.  Stomping on the throttle will reveal the 2′s unpleasant and loud engine scream and with so much sudden jolt and power increase, we thought the car was going to explode.  The four speed automatic transmission also accounts for the lack of smooth power transition in throttle response. However; when driven casually on city streets or even highways, the vehicle behaves relatively well composed.  The excessive body roll at low speeds tricks you into thinking you’re a road track rock star.  The steering is also fairly light and has good positive response, making the 2 an eager and in some cases, aggressive Miata-like handling on windy roads.

Mazda has proven a point where simplicity can also be functional.  Small, functional and fun to drive.  At an MSRP of only 14,450$, it really is tough to beat a competitor out there that can live up to the features the Mazda 2 offers.

With Nismo, the Nissan Juke becomes a hot hatchback

With its squat body, bulbous fenders, and round headlights, Nissan’s Juke looks like a frog, but there’s an athletic prince hiding under its funky exterior. Since the Juke’s launch, a rogue group of Nissanites in the European division revealed that hidden prince with the Juke-R, an amalgam of this odd little hatchback and the budget supercar GT-R.

Nissan HQ took note of the enthusiasm, making the 2013 Nissan Juke Nismo more widely available than the custom-order Juke-R.

Nismo, Nissan’s in-house tuner group, may have fallen short of the Juke-R’s performance, but it did manage to create a wildly fun sports car ready to go up against any hot hatchback, especially at its $ 22,990 base price.

Unfortunately, Nismo could not overcome the Juke’s biggest compromise, that its all-wheel-drive version can only be had with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). A manual transmission with all-wheel drive and the Nismo treatment could have given the Juke the kind of rally cred owned by the Subaru STI and Mitsubishi Evo.

The cabin tech, another low point, suffers from Nissan’s current state of schizophrenia, but I’ll get to that shortly.

Nismo gives Nissan Juke a performance edge (pictures)

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2013 Toyota Matrix First Drive

It’s been over a decade since the initial debut of the Toyota Matrix.  Through iterative production and design cycles, the Matrix has proven itself to be a sporty and reliable 4 door hatchback backed by Toyota’s trademark reliability.  There is no doubt the 2013 Matrix still bonds tight with its treasured qualities, but other competitors have caught on and improved on the trend.

Based on the trusted Corolla platform, the Toyota Matrix offers a roomy interior cabin space with the added bonus of front flat-folding seats.  In addition, the overall acceleration is sharp and peppy in low speeds.  Consumers also have the option to configure the power-train with Toyota’s AWD sysem.  In terms of engine size, the Matrix is available with a 1.8 liter engine four cylinder engine, or the more powerful 2.4 liter engine available in the ‘S’ model.

The Matrix was a major hit during its golden years, but with its stale design platform inherent to its architecture has forced Toyota into a cat and mouse game with stiff competition.  For example, the new Ford Focus hatchback with its European inspired design has caught major attention.  Even the Mazda 3 hatchback is capable of delivering smoother acceleration and sharper handling, something the Matrix prides itself in.

Despite the dated design, there is no  real inherent flaw with the Matrix.  It’s still a great car for its intended purpose.

Trim Levels and Purchase Options

Some vehicle models have an overwhelming list of purchase options that can drive consumers crazy.  Fortunately, the Toyota Matrix trim level and purchase options are as basic as it gets.  The Toyota Matrix can be purchased in the Standard model, or the upgraded S model.

The basic Standard model comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, heated mirrors, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, a fold-flat front passenger seat, cruise control, full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and iPod/USB interface.

The upscale S model  level includes foglights, higher quality cloth upholstery, a 60/40-split-folding rear seats, metallic interior trim and a premium audio system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

The L series can be upgraded with a  sports package that includes front and rear spoilers and foglights. An S Sport package bundles the spoilers with 17-inch alloy wheels. A sunroof is also available as an option.

Powertrain and Performance

Consumers have the option to purchase the Toyota Matrix in front wheel or all wheel drive.  The standard base model comes with a 1.8 liter four cylinder engine producing 132 horse power, and 128 ft-lbs of torque.  Consumers have the option to purcahse this package with either a standard 5-speed transmission, or an automatic 4 speed gearbox.  EPA fuel economy scores the 2013 Toyota matrix with a 25 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg combined with the automatic transmission. The manual transmission bumps up these numbers slightly with 26/32/29.

The higher S model equipped engine comes in the form of a 2.4 liter four cylinder engine producing 158 horsepower and 162 ft-lbs of torque.  The front wheel drive option offers both flavors of either manual or automatic transmission while the AWD system (only available in the S model) only comes in a 4-speed automatic transmission.  The front wheel drive system in the the Matrix S scores an EPA-estimated 21/29/24 with the automatic transmission and 21/28/24 with the manual transmission. With the all-wheel drive system, these numbers fall slightly to 20/26/22.

Considering the fuel economy of other hatch-backs such as the Ford Focus, Mazda 3, these numbers are fall short of expectation.  As a matter of fact, it is worth mentioning that these numbers are equivalent to some larger cross-over 7-seater SUV’s such as the Mazda CX-9.

Interior Cabin Space and Design Features

The overall cabin space of the Toyota Matrix is homogeneous throughout.  Although not the most comfortable, the interior space provides adequate room but the ergonomics can be improved.  The seat-belts are over-sensitive, often ratcheting too soon when pulled and the clothe material feel cheap.

Taller individuals will enjoy the front seats thanks to its deep foot wells, but the back seats may be cramped for some.  The rear seats can be folded down easily yielding 49 cubic feet space.  The overall interior space can be expanded thanks to its conveniently flat fold front seats.

Driving Impressions

Having only test-driven the the S model equipped with AWD, our overall impressions are positive.  The acceleration is surprisingly responsive, and the handling is descent.  However, at just medium speeds, acceleration begins to saturate.  That said, the acceleration lacks the refinement and smoothness compared to other competitors.