No. 862
August 31, 2016

Follow Autoextremist




Editors' Note: If you have a comment, please include your name or initials (AND YOUR HOMETOWN TOO, PLEASE). We do not print email addresses. If you want to read previous issues, click on "Next Entry" on the bottom of each section. Thank you.



"The highway's jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive..."

I was reading your take on the BMW 650i. Having had a nightmare of a time with a plug in hybrid, I had two rules while looking at a new car. Rule #1: Has to have a V-8. Rule #2: Has to be RWD.

Since there are only four American car choices that fit this bill, Camaro, Mustang, Challenger and Charger, I went with the Dodge Charger RT. The biggest of the bunch. I also added the Mopar performance exhaust to the car. I have to tell you after having it 3 weeks, I absolutely love it. Like you, I will take the V-8 sound over almost anything. With the 8-Speed Automatic, it's relatively quick. Rides a little stiff, but handles very wellfor a larger, heavier car. Needles to say, the government is coming after those V-8's with CAFE standards that will be impossible to meet. So f you want one, I suggest you get it now! Of course I have the FCA nervousness, i.e. quality issues, will it last?, etc. But every time I push that Start button, I love that sound! There is nothing like it. I'm thankful we can still get them. Maybe I'll record the sound, so I can play it for my nieces and nephews when they are older!

Doug Smith
Kunkletown, Pennsylvania

Editor-In-Chief's Note: I concur. Make mine a Camaro ZL1. -PMD

VW Hell.

My foray into TDI ownership has so far netted me $1000 in “goodwill” and a promise of another $2,900 in “compensation”. Driving the car was mostly a pleasure with the Golf Sport suspension not otherwise sold in the US market, but ownership wasn't… minor exhaust items, and then a $2,600 Diesel Particulate Filter cracking at 83k and “outside warranty”- there was a TSB for this… and VW paid half. Thanks guys. We fully expect major exhaust work on cars here in the US before the 100k mark. You did just make it out of the federal warranty before failure, I guess this was a win. The buyback and crush means that these cars won't be running 350k + miles with black tape on the Check Engine lights after migration to a no pollution test State, or a test pipe and rolling coal “tune”. The good impression German Engineering made on me with my BMW e46 was totally depleted by the TDi, although I'm much less likely to buy VW/Audi because of the way they treat warranty, than because of the product.

An ATS/CTS at the 20k price point - and my pristine CTS was south of that - is a lot of car for the money. You want the FE3 or FE2 packages, and RWD is a plus, not minus. The Cadillac resale issue is only a problem if you are GM or a Bank.

Casey Raskob, Esq
Croton on Hudson,  New York

Apparently, at least for now.

Speaking of Ferdinand Piech: I find it fascinating that Maximum Ferdinand's name remains entirely unattached to Dieselgate. The timeline fits, the personality and mentality fits, the engineering sense fits… Is Piech the Uber-Grandpa/National Hero that is too big to fail in the Fatherland?

R. Henry
Los Angeles, California

Irrational exuberance rules!

I'm not so bearish on Tesla, at least not yet. I'm steeped in both the automotive and tech circles, and the sheer amount of fanboy-ism surrounding St. Elon is mind-boggling. I know multiple people who have (or claim to have) put in a reservation for a Model 3, and they wear that like a badge of honor. Among this crowd, it doesn't matter what the other automakers release, “Not a Tesla” will be an instant no-sale. GM could launch the Bolt tomorrow with 500 miles of range, and they'd still wait for the Model 3.

Jim Z.

VW (and Fiat) Blues.

I have a VW, a Passat wagon. I'll hold onto it as long as it lasts, it's one of the last German-built, non-diesel but with a stick shift models sold in the US. So I'm prejudiced. I think with VW, and it is despicable, is that it may be toast in the US. But that's it. In Europe, VWs are still seen as semi-premium cars. And there are tons of Ups and Polos and Golfs running around. I don't see that ending soon--I think Marchionne was right in one regard. For years, VW used predatory pricing to gain market share. The Golf's the best-selling C segment car in Italy, for example. As for Fiat… sigh. I'm in a bubble--NYC is 500 central, along with Austin, Texas. There are tons of them here. And I drove two of them this year in Italy--they were just right for my wife and me to tool around in. Good stereo, fun around corners, great seats. I hear the Panda's even better. But they quit having a really full line--only now do they have a new C-segment, the Tipo, and the B car is so old it should be in the Casa Verdi for old-timers. In the US, his confusion is bleeping epic. To pull the 200 and Dart? No cars? Americans are really fickle. Gas prices will go up again, and then they'll be wondering what to do with that Suburban.

Anthony Paonita
New York City and Perugia, Italy

Double Threat.

Reading your comments about the BMW 650 and can't help wondering … how long until it too gets a four-cylinder engine like the 5-series and Mercedes E class? Is there any price point immune to this disgusting trend?

As much as dubious management decisions and strategies are hurting the industry, the anti-car and carbon hysteria in the regulatory realm are just as much a threat.

Tom W.
Austin, Texas

Don't forget about the Chevrolet SS.

Regarding this: “Since there are only four American car choices that fit this bill, Camaro, Mustang, Challenger and Charger” and to Mr. Smith, seems like you forgot or didn't know about the Chevy SS. Might not be your cup of tea but it has been compared favorably to the best M5 ever. I love mine and you can get a 6-speed MANUAL tranny. Just sayin'. Congrats to Chevy marketing for making sure no one knows about this car.

E. Gillman
Budd Lake, New Jersey

Editor-In-Chief's Note: The Chevrolet SS is one of our favorite cars and worth every penny, and don't forget about the Corvette. -PMD