No. 761,
August 20, 2014

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On The Table


Sunday
Aug032014

ON THE TABLE - AUGUST 6, 2014

 

Editor-in-Chief's Note: The biggest worry among the world's auto manufacturers right now, beyond the overdependence on incentives (thanks to Sergio's ham-fisted minions), the onslaught of more government intervention (thanks to the never-ending GM ignition recall fiasco and the relentless pressure from Congress), and the looming specter of "the biz really can't stay this hot forever" hand-wringing (thanks to everyone in the business who has been through it before)? Toyota. The first quarter numbers for the newly reinvigorated, "we're well and truly back" Japanese Juggernaut? Global sales rose by 9,426 vehicles to 2.24 million vehicles. Consolidated net revenues rose to 6.39 trillion yen ($62.6 billion). Operating income increased to 692.7 billion yen ($6.79 billion). Net income jumped to 587.7 billion yen ($5.76 billion). This is what Toyota had to say: "Led by strong sales in North America, cost reductions, favorable currency exchange rates and a gain due to valuation gains/losses from interest-rate swaps, Toyota’s global net income jumped 4.6 percent during the first quarter (April 1 – June 30, 2014) of the 2015 fiscal year." At least they had the cojones to acknowledge the favorable currency exchange rates, which is the key to all of it. The size of Toyota's war chest right now is staggering, way beyond anything even imaginable to the domestic-based manufacturers put together. If Toyota wanted to, they could upend the U.S. market with massive incentives and bury its competition once and for all. Do you want to know what's keeping the top auto executives in this business awake nights? The looming competitive threat of Toyota. - PMD

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Acura. Editor-in-Chief's Note:
The fact that Acura continues down its path of self delusion is simply shocking. They keep cramming technology into their vehicles - their latest attempt to make hay in the market right now is to tout the addition of AWD to its TLX and RLX - as if that's going to make a difference. That's playing catch-up. In fact, playing catch-up is what they do best. As I've said many, many times before, Acura supposedly represents the very best of Honda. Really? All signs point to the contrary. The powers that be at Honda's so-called "luxury" division need to face reality, and reality suggests that their piss-poor "design language" - if you can call it that - is absolutely killing them in the market. How can a manufacturer with the reputation of Honda keep launching vehicles into the market that look five years old before they even hit the ground? They seem to want to make the point that design simply doesn't matter, that the inherent goodness within their vehicles is all that people should need. Well, I'm sorry, but it doesn't work that way. Acura needs a complete re-think from top to bottom. And if they can't muster the design firepower - other than the upcoming NSX, which is a smorgasboard of everyone else's design ideas when you really study it - then they ought to just give up. This just in: A complete lack of vision and a tepid level of "excitement" is no way to run a car company. This should be Acura's new ad tagline: "A continual waste of time, talent and energy, but we're worth a look!" Pathetic. - PMD

(GM)
Chevrolet has announced suggested retail prices for the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado. The extended-cab pickup will start at $20,995, including an $895 dealer freight charge.
The Colorado LT crew cab with 2WD and the 5-foot box has a starting price, including dealer freight, of $27,985. The Colorado Z71 crew cab 4x4 with the 5-foot box starts at $34,990. Standard features will include a 200-horsepower 2.5L four-cylinder engine with direct fuel injection and continuously variable valve timing; a 6-speed manual transmission; power windows with express up for the driver; a rear-vision camera with dynamic guide lines; and a locking tailgate. Available options will include a 305-horsepower 3.6L V-6, also with direct fuel injection and variable valve timing; a 6-speed automatic transmission; 4G LTE with a built-in WiFi hotspot; Forward Collision Alert and Land Departure Warning; and the GearOn™ accessory system, a comprehensive solution for organizing and carrying bikes, paddle boards and other equipment. Colorado customers can chose from two cab configurations, extended-cab and crew-cab. Crew-cab Colorados will offer a choice of 5- or 6-foot boxes; extended-cab models come with the 6-foot box. The Colorado will be available in Chevrolet dealerships nationwide in the fall of 2014.

(GM)
The all-new 2015 GMC Canyon mid-size pickup will start at $21,880, including a $925 dealer freight charge. Canyon customers will have multiple cab and bed configurations to choose from, including extended-cab models with a 6-foot 2-inch box, or crew cab models with either the 6-foot 2-inch or a 5-foot 2-inch box. Every 2015 Canyon comes with Pro Grade Protection, which, in addition to a five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, includes two years or 24,000 miles – whichever comes first – of standard scheduled maintenance. The new Canyon will also arrive in dealerships this fall.

(Images courtesy of BMW)
BMW will unveil its Vision Future Luxury on the concept car lawn at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, marking its North American premiere. Offering a glimpse into the long-term view of modern luxury for the BMW brand (read 8 Series), BMW says that the "BMW Vision Future Luxury stands for a forward-looking fusion of exclusivity and innovation as well as a driving experience that is at once emotional and exclusive." Well alrighty then, we can hardly wait! “Innovative technology and modern luxury have always been an important part of BMW’s brand DNA,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design. “We use visionary concept vehicles like the BMW Vision Future Luxury to show where we may be going with these themes in the future, and to give us new inspiration and motivation. The BMW Vision Future Luxury – with its innovative technologies and with meticulous precision and quality in every detail – takes our thinking on modern luxury a logical stage further.”
We're all pleased and proud.


(Images courtesy of Audi)
Audi has released pricing for its new Q3 SUV. The Audi Q3 features a standard 200 horsepower 2.0 liter TFSI® engine with a six-speed Tiptronic® transmission. Audi xenon plus and LED daytime running headlamps as well as LED taillights are standard. The optional Sport package includes sport seats, shift paddles and Audi drive select. The quattro® all-wheel drive system is of course available.

The Audi Q3 seats five passengers (allegedly), has 60/40 split folding rear seats (with 48.2 cu-ft of cargo volume when folded down), standard dual-zone automatic climate control, with available power tailgate and interior LED lighting. The available MMI® Navigation Plus with voice control utilizes a 7.0 inch display and adds a color display to the driver information system located in the instrument cluster. The MMI Navigation Plus features the Audi connect® infotainment system (standard in the Prestige model), which includes in-vehicle Wi-Fi connectivity for up to eight wireless devices for passengers. Audi connect also provides Google Earth™ maps for a true aerial view of roads and the surrounding area. A 14-speaker, 465 watt Bose Surround Sound System is also part of the Prestige model.

Audi Q3 MSRP* excluding transportation, taxes, title are as follows: Audi Q3 Premium Plus, FWD, $32,500. Audi Q3 Premium Plus, quattro, $34,600. Audi Q3 Prestige, FWD, $36,400. Audi Q3 Prestige, quattro, $38,500. *Transportation charge is $925.00

Editor-in-Chief's's Note: In yet another very brief drive, our "Quick Take" had us in a 2015 VW Golf GTI over the weekend. I had a GTI back in '84 so I have very fond memories of the car, and over the years each iteration of it has pleased me even more. This new seventh-generation GTI, which is slightly larger, but lighter, faster and notably more fuel-efficient, is the best one yet by far. I won't bore you with things you've already read about the car, but I can safely say that if I could only have one car for the foreseeable future, one that has to be able to live through the vagaries of the everyday urban slog yet has to provide enough fun on demand to make driving at least somewhat interesting, then the GTI would be it. It does everything exceptionally well and without exaggeration it delivers a fun-to-drive quotient that's wonderfully engaging and hard to beat. The GTI is what a compact, fun-to-drive car should look and feel like. And for less than $30,000? It's simply one of the great deals in the market today. - PMD

2015 VW Golf GTI S: $28,305 ($24,995 Base Price; Tornado Red; Black Interior with "Clark" plaid inserts; 2.0-liter TSI 4-cylinder with 220HP and 258 lbs-ft of torque; Six-speed manual gearbox; front-wheel drive; Lighting package, $995; GTI Performance Package - Electronically-controlled torque-sensing limited-slip differential, bigger brakes, etc. - $1,495; Destination charge, $895) NOTE: A sticker didn't accompany this vehicle, so the specs are obviously incomplete.

Adherence to Brand Image: The VW GTI adheres to the VW GTI brand image perfectly. It doesn't necessarily align with the overall VW brand image in this country, because the VW image is so blurred and fractured that it's hard to determine what that image is. But the GTI? It's exactly what it needs to be. - PMD