Tag Archives: Model

This SE model is not the VW Jetta you’re looking for

I’ve driven some gorgeous rides and some hideous ones, but this is probably the most boring-looking car that I’ve reviewed all year. Call it “understated” or “timeless” all that you want, Volkswagen, but even in Tornado Red, the the slab-sided VW Jetta just looks like a lump on wheels with headlamps.

I’m of a similar mind when it comes to this 2014 Volkswagen Jetta SE’s performance: it’s not bad, it’s not great. It’s just competent. If the SE were a flavor of ice cream, it would be vanilla. Most people don’t really get excited about vanilla ice cream, but it’s still ice cream, so it’s not like anyone complains much, either.

As a lover of both cars and ice cream, I was determined not to judge this scoop by its plain flavor — after all, vanilla can be downright delicious when done right. However, after living with the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta SE with Connectivity for a bit, I’m convinced that there are more flavorful trim levels to be found farther up the Jetta’s line.

Basic techOur SE model doesn’t feature navigation or advanced infotainment, just a single-line, monochrome RCD 310 standard audio system. Audio from its six speakers sounded merely OK. A-pillar-mounted tweeters give this system better clarity than the four-speaker rigs that you’ll find in many vehicles in this price range, but only just so. If you really care about what the music coming out of the stereo sounds like, you’ll want to look upmarket. VW’s own amazing Fender audio system, for … [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Tesla Model S: Now the No. 1 car of the (West Coast) wealthy

The choice of the conscious wealthy.

(Credit: Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)

You know what a Porsche says about you? It says you don’t care.

You know what a Mercedes says about you? It says you believe that if the world ran out of gazelles, it would be just fine.

What drives me to such draconian extrapolations? A piece of fascinating analysis performed by Edmunds.com.

It attempted to discover whether the Tesla Model S was popular beyond the chest-beating, organic sackcloth-wearing confines of Silicon Valley.

Stunningly, the numbers show that in 8 of the top 25 most expensive ZIP codes in the US, the Tesla was the No. 1 registered vehicle of 2013. And it was No. 1 in more of the top 25 than any other vehicle.

Yes, America’s wealthy are rallying round to save the Earth. Or, at least, to buy the same rather attractive car.

More Technically Incorrect

Tesla puts Model S fire into perspective

A burning Tesla Model S was captured on video by a passerby.

(Credit: Screenshot by Wayne Cunningham/CNET)

This week’s YouTube video of a burning Model S prompted the upstart electric carmaker to post an in-depth explanation of the accident that lead to the fire, along with statistics about fires in internal combustion engine cars.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk noted in the post that “you are five times more likely to experience a fire in a conventional gasoline car than a Tesla!”

According to Musk, a large piece of curved metal fell off a tractor-trailer rig. The Model S overran the object, causing it to lever up into the bottom of the car with a force of 25 tons.

The metal object created a 3-inch hole in protective plating underneath the car, breaching one of the 16 battery compartments in the chassis. The intrusion caused the battery pack to catch fire, although firewalls between the battery modules and in the structure of the car prevented the flames from moving into the passenger compartment.

Musk points out that internal combustion cars have much less protection in the chassis than does the Model S, so this type of acc… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Tesla developing self-driving for Model S

The Model S will benefit from autonomous car technologies being developed by Tesla.

(Credit: Wayne Cunningham/CNET)

When the Model S launched last year, it was missing one feature-set commonly found among its luxury competitors: driver assistance features such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, or lane departure warning. The company appears to be addressing that lack, according to a recent statement by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

As reported by Reuters, Musk says that Tesla is developing auto-pilot technology for the Model S, and it should be ready in three years.

The technology will allow the Model S to perform 90 percent of driving tasks. Fully autonomous driving will follow on at a future date. Tesla has a position open for an autonomous driving engineer, and Musk said the company would develop the technology in house, as opposed to working with Silicon Valley neighbor Google.

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BMW reinvents the car with i8 model

The i8 shows off what may be a new trend in mass-produced carbon fiber vehicles.

(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)

In the upper reaches of automotive performance, the hybrid sports car is becoming a real thing. Witness the Ferrari LaFerrari, Porsche 918 Spyder, and McLaren P1. Those examples seem like efforts to maintain the relevance of high-end performance in an oil-starved world.

But BMW may just be cracking the code with its i8.

2015 BMW i8 looks like a future classic (pictures)

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Tesla announces partial recall on Model S vehicles

(Credit: Tesla)

Some Tesla Model S vehicles may contain a defect, the electric car maker announced Wednesday.

According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Model S vehicles produced between May 10 and June 8 of this year could contain an issue with the mounting bracket on the left-hand latch of the second row seat. Musk specifically said that the mounting bracket could be “weaker than intended.”

Related stories

“This reduces our confidence that the left hand seat back will be properly retained in the event of a crash,” Musk wrote in a blog post Wednesday.

Musk was quick to p… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Tesla guarantees resale value of Model S

Tesla sets up a financing plan for the Model S with Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank.

(Credit: Wayne Cunningham/CNET)

Last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted of an upcoming big announcement. Despite product-oriented speculation, the details that came out today lay out a new financing plan for the Model S.

The plan could bring net payments down to $ 500 a month according to Tesla, after taking into account the savings from purchasing electricity over gasoline and other factors.

Tesla’s announcement says it developed the plan with Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank, each of which will offer loans for a 10 percent initial down payment on a Model S. That loan could be paid off with federal and state incentives to purchase electric vehicles, according to the Tesla press release.

As an addition to the plan, Tesla will guarantee a resale value of the Model S after 36 months as a percentage of the original purchase price. That percentage will be based on the resale value of the Mercedes-Benz S-class.

[Read more]

Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Tesla kills 40 kWh battery for Model S over ‘lack of demand’

(Credit: Tesla)

The 40 kWh battery option that was offered to Tesla Model S customers won’t be put into production, after all.

Tesla announced the news yesterday, saying that its decision was made after it witnessed a “lack of demand” for the 40 kWh battery. Just 4 percent of those who ordered the Tesla S asked for the smaller battery pack.

Related stories

Tesla, an electric car maker, said that customers who ordered the 40 kWh option will get a 60 kWh pack, instead. However, to keep the price down to the same level as the 40 kWh option, the better battery p… [Read more]

Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Can the Tesla Model S unkill the electric car? CNET On Cars, Episode 3

Can the Tesla Model S unkill the electric car? CNET On Cars, Episode 3

A Tesla Model S is a very hard car for reviewers to get significant time with. The company has exactly 2 press cars for the globe, prioritizing all other production to deliver to patient buyers. So it was with no small pleasure when Tesla’s Shanna Hendriks let me know she had an S ready for me to play with for a full day (which turned out to be more like a day and a half). I hope you’ll find my take a little refreshing as this car has been talked about and bloviated over like nothing this side of the Chevy Volt – and much more positively than that unfairly maligned carrier of the death watch beetle.

We shot this episode amidst the staggering collection of a good friend of CNET On Cars in northern California. Almost as interesting as the vintage cars is his collection of vintage ephemera from along the highways and boulevards of America’s car culture. If you’re from the S.F. Bay Area, see if you can spot the Doggie Diner head in the background of one shot.

The research team at State Farm brought us up to speed on auto theft: Down, but still a remarkably common crime given how many technologies now purport to secure your car. We run you down on t… [Read more]
Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET