« Blog Notes | Main | [Blog Notes].01 »

Friday, 27 March 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Agreed about the VW. You sure that Mazda is stock?

"You sure that Mazda is stock?"

Yup. The pic is from the Mazda USA sales site. That's the new Mazda 3, Mazda's mainstream Civic / Focus / Corolla fighter.

I ordinarily like Mazda styling, too.

It was a car I wanted to covet and not afford, too. Now I'm not going to covet it, so I won't even have to worry about not being able to afford it. [g]



That is terrible. We thought of buying one of those as well as a VW rabbit. We settled on a Honda Fit which is quirky but I will drive it till it dies. It's like a micro mini-van. Sport model with stick shift of course.

Sorry Mazda

Cheshire Cat Mazda 3... cannot stop laughing and have a meeting in three minutes...

I think this one will stay with me whenever I see Mazda 3

Who buys a new car these days? I like a car with some personality driven into it. Also, some of the market value slide driven out of it.

At least the consolation is that you can't see the front of the car when you're driving.

I like it that the Japanese makers don't give a damn about styling. If the new Mazda3 combines performance and practicality the way the Mazda3 has in the past, I'm going to wish I had one. Toyota recently started fussing about styling and hiring NASCAR announcers to promote their vehicles, and what happened? Their QC went all to hell (by their standards -- by Chrysler's standards they're doing great) and they had their first losing quarter ever.

You want style? Buy an Italian car. Heck, it'll probably even start 50% of the time.

What I want from the designers that is all but impossible to buy now is a car that I can see out of. I spend a lot more time looking out of my car than I do looking at it.

Cars with pretentions of gravitas or performance shouldn't have smiley faces. The front end should have neutral or frowney front ends.

The worst offender is the new Acura TL. A smiley face and a smiley rear end. I have one of those "What were they thinking?" moments every time I see one.

Of course, if styling were a significant factor when buying a new car, the world wouldn't be full of Toyotas and Hondas.

It is finally nice to be surprised by car news since it seems every car magazine has the same news as all the others. I had not seen anything about a Tesla sedan before and it is pretty- looks like a Maserati, which has gorgeous designs. Hopefully they have their gear box issues worked out. I'm a little sad the S isn't based on something from Lotus since I think Lotus needs the help and I still think all cars could use a LOT more light-weight. (Can you have a lot more of less of something?)

The head of FIAT (I think) recently said that he thought the world could only support a few car makers and that major consolidation was forthcoming. I hope Tesla proves him very wrong and that they thrive. It may take new companies to push major design changes through. It shows that maybe there's hope for my car design ideas of mesh seats to save weight and space and solar panels to run fans or the a/c when parked in the sun. I sweat a LOT in the summer and mesh seats and solar powered fans or a/c would be my savior! No more soaked shirt backs for me!

Speaking of car consolidation, when is VW going to make a SEAT CC and a Skoda CC to cannibalize more car sales from themselves? Speaking of SEAT, I saw one on the highway here in North Carolina the other day. What was THAT doing here?

Mike - Technically, coupe and sedan were originally used to specifiy how big the interior of the car was; A coupe (with any number of doors) was smaller than a sedan. Over the years they morphed into their current 2-door vs. 4-door definitions.

The Society of Automotive Engineers still uses the terms to refer to interior volume I think. So maybe VW is too? Doesn't make it less stupid in my opinion, but might explain it.

Normally I'd agree on buying used over new -but man, the deals they're offering these days on some of the new cars...wow. I bought new two years ago (got a deal then) but plan on keeping it until it dies. I bought too many cars with 'personalities' that kind of clashed with my primary need for the car: reliable transportation. :-)

When I first saw that image of the normally stylish Mazda3 a few months ago, I cringed.

Hopefully VW will do the right thing and put a diesel in the CC. Think 40 to 50 mpg, 236 ft-lb torgue. Unfortunately, with gas at prices not seen in a decade thats probably unlikley. Until then, get a Jetta TDI. FYI, I saw some crazy lease prices on a CC advertized. ch

"What I want from the designers that is all but impossible to buy now is a car that I can see out of. I spend a lot more time looking out of my car than I do looking at it."

I know what you mean. I still love the old BMW 2002 Tii. That was a greenhouse.

Try one of the new "Micro Vans," Nissan Versa, Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris. Even the Scion xB. They have pretty good visibility, like the old "upright" sedans.


Yes, that Mazda front end can't help but provoke a laugh, but isn't that a relief from all those massive grilles that are designed to be intimidating, and cars with names like "Avenger" and "Challenger"? Do we get behind the wheel to do battle? Hmm...that would explain a lot. But on the other hand, maybe there's something just a bit maniacal in that grin. Joker, anyone?

"Speaking of pretty cars, the Volkwagen CC is an unusually beautiful automotive design for a current car."

It's not like they didn't have good precedents in Aston Martin. Such Aston Martins have been on the road for several years now.

OTOH, this Opel Insignia is kinda the same design as the Volkswagen.

OTTH, http://www.clandestineart.com/photo/car_3.html, the first photo on the page - Maseratti Quatroporte. Now, that's a pretty car. And its cool index is way cooler than a Volkswagen. :-) The Opel mid-page is also pretty, but it's still an Opel, just like Insignia.

Apologies in advance for being a bit snarky here :-) Yesterday you said this is officially a still photography blog and you don't care about SLRs offering video and today we are reading a post here about cars. What is up with that?

Semi-random car thoughts: I think Aston Martins are some of the most beautiful cars on the planet but I can't figure out what they were trying to do with the new Lagonda. Ugh. I'm fond of the VW CC, too. Love the Porsche Cayman, especially the rear. The new Prius manages to be even more of an eyesore than the previous one. Lamborhini Gallardo, good; Ferrari California not so good. And I'm very fond of the new Mini, especially the first-generation R53, which I own. I like the new Fiat 500 a lot, especially the Abarth version.

"...what were the people at Mazda thinking?"

Those 'designers' were thinking the same as thousands of others--ugly has been in for decades. I agree with you about the VW; too bad about their pizza-sized CHROMED emblems.

That Mazda looks just like one of the toy cars the Chevron sells at their gas stations! (Used to sell?) Maybe the designer was helping their kid clean up their toys right before hitting the drafting table. (Computer?)

The Mazda looks like one of the cartoonish characters from Disney's animated movie Cars ;-)

Charley H,

I love the TDi's too! But with these brain dead US emissions standards choking them up they're closer to 34mpg now. Also, with diesel fuel at a 30% premium over gasoline there's another loss and don't forget there's the extra $1500 for the diesel motor..............

I've said it for a long time, bin the US emissions standards, do away with the useless SMOG certification and adopt the British style MOT. Then open the floodgates and bring in all those really cool European cars you see over there (just drop the .com and add .co.uk to your favorite manufacturer to view).

Got to love places like California, they have these asinine requirements on new cars and at the same time some of the most dangerous clunkers you'll ever see using the same roads - bring on the MOT!

Take a look at http://www.volkswagen.co.uk/ then do the math on the fuel consumption and compare to the US versions (the few we have) you'll be shocked - US emissions are BS. Also take note of the smaller engines in Europe and THE SMALLER ENGINED YARIS IN UK FLIES compared to the *emissions restricted larger engined US version.* We would need better gasoline here in the US though, my Dodge Sprinter (re-badged Mercedes Sprinter) calls for a minimum octane of 95 (min. 91).

Don't even get me started on the Prius or that Tesla. Got any heat in that Tesla? How's that effect the range.........

Anyone out there do the math on the Prius & Tesla, actually worked out the carbon footprint on that one (all those batteries)!

"Also from Jalopnik: the 2010 Toyota Prius gets 26.2 miles per gallon...at 102 miles per hour."

Big Deal - that's about what a C6 Chevrolet Corvette with 400 HP gets too. My average from Dallas to San Diego last year at 80 mph was 30.6.

"Also from Jalopnik: the 2010 Toyota Prius gets 26.2 miles per gallon...at 102 miles per hour."

Big Deal - that's about what a C6 Chevrolet Corvette with 400 HP gets too. My average from Dallas to San Diego last year at 80 mph was 30.6.
I think that's the point Joel, driven hard the prius is a poor performer. I think Top Gear once did a test driving a prius as fast as possable around their track while being followed by a bmw 535, the bmw used less fuel!

I've driven a Prius, and I wouldn't drive one at 102 miles an hour if I were suffering arterial bleeding and had to get to a hospital. Ever look at the tires on those things? Looks like they took them off a hand cart.

"Big Deal - that's about what a C6 Chevrolet Corvette with 400 HP gets too. My average from Dallas to San Diego last year at 80 mph was 30.6."

Yeah, but that's downhill (overall.)

I saw a picture yesterday of the battery for the Tesla Roadster. It weighs a thousand pounds and costs $30,000.

IMHO, the best looking non-custom car now made is the Audi A5, and the upcoming convertible version is even better looking.

In Israel, for a time, and perhaps still, only commercial vehicles were allowed to use diesel. This meant low taxes for commercial activities and vehicles, and *very* high taxes for non-commercial uses. And they made it hard to cheat. That had the effect of not curtailing business, while at the same time, strongly encouraging people to use buses, and also, to downsize their personal cars. The average Israeli drives a car that's probably a third the size of the average American's. I drove a Kia there through the mountains, and we had to turn off the air-conditioning on uphills to keep it from overheating (and the mountains are not high...) The benefit of this is that if you wished to drive a BMW 745, that was fine, but you paid screamingly high gas taxes and import fees. So you'd see a big black sedan plowing through the three-mile-an-hour Jaffa traffic, and you had two reactions: "that guy must be really rich," and "that guy must be an idiot."


Chris Gibbs --
another little factoid of which not much mention is made is that the Prius weighs 3700 lbs as opposed to 2700 lbs for a like-sized gas-motor-only sedan (i.e. the Echo, which was essentially the same platform sans the electrics). How is this more efficient? Like having 4-250 lb Bubbas in the back seat that never leave.
The Hybrid vehicle thing is nothing more than a marketing exercise, just like everything else. This one designed to make you feel all "green" inside about paying for another flippin' car to be built, which is truly the worst ecological sin one can commit these days.
Who on earth needs 20,000,000+ MORE cars built EVERY SINGLE YEAR.....?

I sometimes use "ekstetic", referring to Ansel Adams talking about how a calendar publisher had told him not to make his photos "too ekstetic".

Chris Gibbs,

You should know that comparable cars in the UK get better mileage because their gallons are bigger than ours (4.5 vs 3.8l), and their test is easier (less stopping and going, no AC).
They also use a different method for measuring octane ratings, which makes their numbers about 5 points higher than ours.
Next I will explain why their grass only appears to be greener because of refraction.

(long sigh...) Mike, Mike, up to now I really believed you had good taste. Now I think maybe you just write very well about good taste. I can't find words strong enough to express my disgust at the VW CC. Actually, though I've owned over a dozen VW-Audi cars, nothing in their current US showrooms appeals to me now (except the no-longer-New Beetle, which still looks like the one I drive).

The past generation of VWs, roughly from '98 till '06, were some of the best-looking cars on the road. The Golf was probably the handsomest, with the Passat a close second. They featured short overhangs, with fenders wrapped just over the wheels in a purposeful crouch. They were streamlined, but still had plenty of glass. The lines were simple, with no chrome doo-dads. Geometry was the theme, bauhaus-style, not decoration.

That was the late, lamented time before bling. The CC is just the opposite of that era of understated elegance. From the chrome on the lip of its double chin all the way back along its Mercedes-like flame-sculpted sides, it shouts "Hey, look at me!" Just what a cool dude doesn't do, IMO.

And that chopped, severely streamlined roofline restricts outward vision severely. Don't you, as a visual artist, want to clearly see the country you're driving through? A CC windshield is the automotive equivalent of a P&S viewfinder. All that flat glass is open to the sun, though, which will beat down and cook the interior down in the hot half of the country.

You write that the CC, "doesn't resort to gee-whiz gimmicks or trendy excrescehnces or swoopy boy-racer faux-Jessica-Rabbit curvaceousness..." Sorry I don't know Jessica, but any Rabbit or Golf looks better to me. Trendy and swoopy are exactly the words I'd use to describe VW's current styling, especially with the new CC.

The sleek designs that excite young designers and delight wind tunnel testers are less than practical, and far from comfortable. I think that's one reason folks love their SUVs and pickups- they provide better accommodations and visibility than cars shaped like wingless airplanes.

I could live with the Happy Mazda. At least it's a clear execution of a single clear concept. But you're right, it is a little over the top.

That's Volkswagen design for you. All VW's are beautiful, elegant cars. Even the New Beetle has its charm. the VW owned Audi also never disappoints.

There's a nice Audi in this video for JC, but you should really look out for the Lancia Delta :-)


standard run of the mill driving that I do, which is the same speed as everyone around me, I get 4.1L per 100km from a Prius. That's 57mpg and yes i use the stereo, heater and AC.
Why is it every argument on this comes down to some design area that has little to do with what Prius was designed for? A rangefinder aint so good for telephoto lenses either but does what it has to very well.
You want carbon footprint, figure out what a few warships cost in carbon footprint as they help keep the oil supply safe.

Chris Gibbs,
Lord, they really run cars at speed through streets lined with people like that?!? It's amazing they don't kill spectators by the dozen.


VW is quite late to to party in this. It sure looks like a direct ripoff of the Mercedes CLS, which came out in Europe 2004, US in 2005, It is pricey, 70k regular or 96k for AMG model.

Also read the blurb on wikipedia FWIW:

I was a Benz tech for 25 years. Probably one of the few with an MFA. I don't care about cars anymore. They are all just machines that are in the process of breaking and the car companies are just in the business of moving product. If you believe anything else you're just naive and a marketers dream come true. Mine is bigger that yours!
Really, something (internal combustion engine) that is only thirty percent efficient, crap, if my computer or DSLR were that bad I wouldn't own it.
I love photography and art. Always have.

I drive a 07 Rabbit so I like VW but when I first saw the CC my first thought was it looks Japanese, like an Acura.

In my mind all German cars should resemble a BMW 2002.

When you referred to the BMW 2002tii, you meant the round-taillight version, right? The '74 model with the rectangular taillights just doesn't look right to me. Gotta love those funky floor-mounted pedals, too!


Glad to see that your taste in brumm-brumms is not entirely wanting. Your recent paean to (older) Rolls Royces had me worried. It may just be that we Brits get bitter about stuff we build yet can't afford, but over here the marque has always been considered pure bling: the motor for the man who's got enough cash to buy one but not enough taste to go for the Bristol instead. Love that Tesla, by the way, even if it's named after an audio tube.

That VW is their take on Mercedes' CLS, which got there first years ago:

Mercedes CLS

> It will have a range of 225 miles and a pricetag around $60k. American made. Available only to Hollywood movie stars.

So ... after 225 miles, do they just buy a new one?

Yes, it's true, the VW CC is a poor man's Mercedes CLS.

I hope it does better than the Phaeton, which was a poor man's Bentley!


I don't know about you guys in the states but to my Irish eyes that VW has 'Sales Man' written all over it.

"Lord, they really run cars at speed through streets lined with people like that?!? It's amazing they don't kill spectators by the dozen." Mike

Group B was amazing, basically super developed hot rods that only bore a passing resemblance to the cars they were based on. They were designed to do one thing, go fast on a rally course. Lada, the Russian car manufacturer was even involved at one stage even.

I saw some of the last Group B racing before they killed it off. And if I am correct, more drivers have been killed than spectators in recent years during rallies, and that's not many. The drivers are too good.

And Chris, I had "access" to a Delta Integrale S4 briefly. A friend bought one, amazing car, truly amazing. Could corner at speeds that left me white with fear, and I have done some sports car racing in my time. He sold it when he came close to losing his license ........ I lived in New Zealand at the time, and two or three speeding tickets could result in a six month plus ban. He got two in the first week if I recall correctly. It was a hard car to drive slowly :-)

I fondly recall the days of Group B, though I never had the privilege of seeing a Group B car run. One of the British magazines did a comparison test of hot hatches recently and the Integrale did rather well against more modern machinery. I've always loved that car. And, while on the topic of good-looking rally cars which happen to be Lancias, the Stratos deserves a mention.

Also, no discussion of automotive aesthetics would be complete without a few words about the insanely beautiful Jaguar E-Type. So there.

And you think the Mazda is ugly:

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007