“All engines are mated to the standard 6-speed S tronic transmission,” Audi buries in the press release for the new A3 and S3 sedans, before going on to plug that S tronic gearbox for its dynamism and smoothness. Reading this in the Car and Driver offices, hearts sunk. Torches were lit. Pitchforks brandished. If there was a town square, we’d have flooded it—along with a hay-wagon’s worth of people for whom “no stick, no buy” is a fifth gospel.
At the reveal event for the A3, held in New York the night before the auto show opened to the press, we grabbed an affable Audi exec to talk about this grave gear-changing oversight. “There’s no business case for it,” he said, smothering our faint hopes of a stick making an appearance in a yet-to-be-announced gasoline version of the A3 hatchback. The best chance for the A3, we learned, had been the hot 300-hp S3. “We lobbied hard for a stick in the S3,” the exec said, “but in the end the numbers just didn’t add up.”
We’ve heard the business-case line before, and it’s really not just a line in some pejorative “get-off-my-case” way. The fact is, even something as simple as offering a manual transmission requires EPA and other government certification—and it costs millions of dollars. (Plugging in diesel engines is way more costly—and we are getting one of those for the A3, after all.) Beyond that, dealers become hesitant to take cars with manual gearboxes into inventory, fearing that they’ll sit for months, unsellable, and that no fanatical stick shoppers will happen to darken the doorway. Delivering the enthusiast requests becomes a balancing act: Audi gave us the Audi TT RS without so much as the option of an automatic transmission, because that’s a car purely for car geeks—and rich ones, at that—but other times, the stick is a feature too far.
It would be easy to take cheap pot shots at the Chery J3, one of the most recent Chinese-made vehicles to enter the Australian market.
It may be an understatement to say Chinese brands are continuing to find their way on the quality and safety front.
But while it would be a gross exaggeration to suggest this Corolla-sized hatchback signals the start of a four-wheeled ‘invasion’ of top-notch models from the world’s most populous nation, the Chery J3 is a landmark car, a learning curve, and also a surprise.
The J3’s external dimensions measure up slightly beyond that of the 11th-generation Toyota Corolla that recently launched at $ 19,990 plus on road costs, or about $ 23,000 driveaway.
It isn’t as well packaged as the ‘big T’ product, but the Chery J3 costs $ 12,990 driveaway – or about 33 per cent less. That’s also around the same price as the significantly smaller Suzuki Alto, Mitsubishi Mirage, Nissan Micra and Holden Barina Spark.
For that sub-light price the Australian importer of Chery products, Ateco Automotive, says it has ticked every box available to bring a single-specification, regular-small-sized J3 to our market.
The choice of subcompact cars on the market has never been better.
Not just better in terms of numbers either, but in quality, reliability, safety, equipment and every other factor the average buyer looks for in a car.
Gas mileage isn’t bad either, even if it doesn’t match some of the paper-thin Hondas and Geos of a few decades ago–which didn’t have to meet today’s much tougher safety standards.
But if you’re in the market for a subcompact, which should you go for?
Is a shiny new subcompact fresh on the market any better than some of the cars that have roamed the roads for a few years now?
The Honda Fit, for example, has been on sale in largely the same format since the 2009 model year. The Mazda2 launched in 2011, as did the Ford Fiesta.
Kia pulled the wraps off its all-new Forte five-door hatchback at this year’s Chicago Auto Show. Taking very heavily from Kia’s efforts abroad in Europe, the new Forte is wholly representative of the brand’s incoming design language.
“We received very positive feedback after the all-new Forte sedan made its debut at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show, and we expect the all-new Kia Forte 5-door will build upon that success,” Kia’s vice president of marketing and communications Michael Sprague said in the press release. “The combination of a useful hatchback for carrying cargo and the sportiness of the turbocharged SX trim make the all-new Forte 5-door a dual threat in the segment.”
Two different trim levels are available, which separate the packaging on an already fairly option-standard car: EX and SX. The EX is powered by a 2.0L direct-injected four-banger good for 173hp and 154 lb-ft of torque, channeled through a six-speed automatic. The SX is the performance oriented model with a 1.6L turbocharged four-banger good for 201hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. Buyers can have a choice of either a six-speed manual or automatic for the SX.
For full details, check out the press release after the jump.
Kia Motors America (KMA) ignited the 2013 Chicago Auto Show when the all-new, ultra-hot Kia Forte 5-door rolled on-stage. The all-new Forte 5-door SX’s eye-catching European-inspired hatchback design is complimented by an all-new 1.6-liter gasoline direct-injected (GDI) turbocharged four-cylinder engine putting out 201 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque, making the all-new Kia Forte 5-door SX the most powerful Forte from KMA to date. The Forte 5-door is expected to go on sale in the third quarter of 2013, and pricing will be announced closer to launch.
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Chicago 2013: Kia unveils Superman-inspired Optima Hybrid in Chicago to raise awareness for famine in Africa
In a 10-month agreement with DC Entertainment and Super Street magazine, Kia unveiled their latest rendition of superhero-themed cars at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show: the new Superman-inspired Kia Optima Hybrid.
The collaboration between Super Street, DC Entertainment, and Kia exists to raise awareness for DC Entertainment’s “We Can Be Heroes” campaign, which is set as a charitable relief effort to aid those affected by drought and famine in the Horn of Africa.
“As the most recognized Super Hero in the world, Superman is a symbol of strength and integrity, making him the perfect character to join forces with Kia’s first-ever hybrid to create a customized ride powered by a robust and efficient powertrain,” said Michael Sprague, Kia’s executive vice president of marketing and communications. “Each of our Justice League-inspired vehicles are remarkable collaborations between the automotive and comic book worlds, and all for a worthy cause. To that, Kia is very proud to be partnering with DC Entertainment to raise awareness for the ‘We Can Be Heroes’ campaign.”
Superman’s influence is undoubtedly present throughout this special edition Optima Hybrid, thanks to its obvious vibrant metallic blue and red paint scheming that exists on both the interior and exterior. Additionally, the Optima Hybrid Superman edition gets the full treatment, including a body kit, flared fenders, 22-inch allow kickers and a height adjustable suspension.
For more info, check out the press release after the jump.
Kia passed a new car ad our way in the midst of the Super Bowl XLVII game earlier today, featuring former Miss USA Alyssa Campanella and the new 2014 Kia Forte sedan. The spot has been labeled “Respect the Tech,” and was entertaining enough to slap a smirk on my face…or perhaps that could’ve just been from Miss Campanella’s cameo appearance.
The Super Bowl’s audience of more than 100 million people has served as the perfect platform for launching many of Kia’s most memorable ad campaigns over the past three years, resulting in higher consumer awareness for our brand and record-setting sales,” said Michael Sprague in the press release, Kia’s executive vice president of marketing & communications. “Everyone can relate to ‘kicking the tires’ at an auto show or in a showroom, and ‘Hotbots’ is sure to bring a smile to the faces of youthful car buyers seeking the technologies, connectivity and premium features found on the all-new 2014 Forte.”
Check out the ad and the press release after the jump.
FORMER MISS USA ALYSSA CAMPANELLA STARS AS A FUTURISTIC ROBOT IN LATEST SUPER BOWL AD FROM KIA MOTORS TO INTRODUCE THE ALL-NEW 2014 KIA FORTE COMPACT SEDAN
With an all-new Toyota Corolla launched with a $ 19,990 price tag, we find out which is the best entry-level small car for the money, putting the world’s best selling small car up against the Ford Focus, Hyundai i30 and Mazda3. Words: Daniel DeGasperi. Photos: Easton Chang.
Comparison tests don’t come more relevant than this. One in five Australian new-car buyers choose a small sedan or hatchback. And out of the 29 class contenders in the sub-$ 40,000 small car segment, more than half buy a Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai i30 or Ford Focus (in that order). Quite simply, we’ve rounded up the newest (Corolla and i30), most popular (Mazda3), and best-driving (Focus) small cars that Australians actually buy.
A few years ago the Mazda3 surpassed the Corolla as the number one selling small car. Last year, the Hiroshima-built contender performed a swift overtaking manoeuvre on the Holden Commodore to move into position as this country’s best-selling car overall – the locally built Lion had held firm in the right lane since 1997.
But the 3 is now three years old, and there’s a brand new Corolla on the grid wanting pole position in both the class and country. Toyota dropped a bombshell with this 11th-generation model by reducing the entry sticker by $ 1K, so the base Ascent manual now sits at the mid-1990s throwback price of $ 19,990. Hopefully another switch back to the era of Nike pumps and Discmans will see a return of the Corolla fun factor. Yes, Toyota claims the new Corolla is “more fun to drive” but it kinda does that with every generation. What we want to see, even in this base, hubcap-equipped Ascent, is a return to the spirit of the 1980s 100kW SX, as showcased spectacularly well by the 86 coupe.
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