Review coming soon!
I never understood why Americans are against hatchbacks. My family and I travel often to other countries, and in Asia and Europe, hatchbacks are the norm. Even in Australia and New Zealand, hatchbacks generally sell more than sedans. So why does America have an adverse reaction to hatchbacks? I have no clue. One time, in a store parking lot. I pointed out a nice Audi A3 hatchback, and I said to my sister, “Look at that A3, isn’t that a sweet ride?” Her reply? “Ew. It’s a hatchback.” I am baffled. Logic dictates that we should prefer hatchbacks over sedans because they provide better cargo space and more versatility and in some cases, they tend to look better than their sedan counterparts. Such is the case with the second generation Mazda3. Replacing the Protege (called the Familia overseas), the 2004 Mazda3 was the start of a new era for Mazda. No longer a company of humdrum and ordinary vehicles, Mazda placed emphasis on sporty driving experiences and styling which started with the first 3. The first generation Mazda3 was a blistering success, and it was the car that pulled Mazda out of obscurity. It was renowned for its blend of enjoyable handling, quick performance, excellent fuel economy, and its design. I reviewed two first generation 3s, the high performance hatchback, Mazdaspeed3 and a sedan. I was impressed as they provided the driving experience of a BMW but for half the price. In 2009, the second generation debuted as a 2010 model. I also had the opportunity to review one, but it was an automatic transmission sedan. However, this car is a hatchback with a manual transmission. Which begs the question; would I like the hatchback configuration better than the sedan? Continue reading
The Volkswagen Passat has always been one of Volkswagen’s most successful models. While it may be sensible, Volkswagen felt there was a need for a more exciting alternative to its family sedan. After watching the success of the Mercedes-Benz CLS, Volkswagen saw an opportunity to produce a mainstream four door coupe. Volkswagen launched the Passat CC (Comfort Coupe) in 2008. The Passat CC intended to give buyers a German, stylish, and affordable sedan. Even though the Passat CC sold lower than Volkswagen’s expectations, the Passat CC influenced the family sedan market. Other family sedans such as the Hyundai Sonata and Ford Fusion started adopting the swoopy roofline and a sportier look. Refreshed for 2012, the Passat CC underwent a name change to CC as well as exterior and interior updates.
“If a car’s not worth driving, it’s not worth building” This motto completely describes Mazda as a company. Mazda prides itself on driving enjoyment, as reflected by the availability of the manual transmission on all its cars including the 5 minivan, CX9 excepted and its focus on sheer driving enjoyment. Mazda strayed from its ordinary mainstream image as soon as it adopted a numerical naming scheme for its cars. The Mazda3 replaced the mundane looking but somewhat fun to drive Protege, while the 6 replaced the forgettable 626. Ford and Mazda shared an operating agreement that Ford would use Mazda’s engines and chassis, while Mazda would get Ford’s facilities. The deal fell through a year or two ago. There were reports that Mazda would go under. Mazda is a small company that builds cars in Japan, which is less than ideal due to the yen and the cost of transporting the cars across the sea. Mazda came through. How? Two words: KODOS, and SKYACTIV. These two terms represent Mazda’s comeback. Mazda adopted a new design language and new fuel efficient engines and transmissions, which has propelled Mazda to the spotlight in terms of design, engineering, and driving performance. The CX5, 6, and the newly launched 3 are examples of this company’s rejuvenation. Continue reading
Disclaimer: The Focus I drove was a Ford Focus SEL Hatchback, not this exact car. Driving experience may vary.
Introduced in Europe in 1998, and North America in 1999, the original Focus surprised the world with its’ combination of avant garde styling (hatchback version), unbeatable dynamics, practicality, and affordability. Replacing the Escort, the Focus represented a new era for Ford, in terms of design and handling. It was given a rear independent suspension which was very expensive and rare for a car of this cost and class, but it gave the Focus unsurpassed dynamic excellence that left its rivals struggling to catch up. Ten years later, the U.S specific Focus has morphed into an outdated and boring compact sedan. Meanwhile in Europe, the Focus was thriving. See, Ford in Europe has a much better reputation as a car manufacturer because they produced substantially better cars such as the Mondeo instead of the Fusion, Kuga instead of the Escape, and so on. They produced a different Focus while we got the same Focus from 1999, albeit “restyled” in 2008. In America during 2005-2011, Ford’s lineup was hampered by its fuel-thirsty SUVs and uncompetitive cars. During the recession of 2008, Ford realized it needed a solution to save its company. They started a globalization strategy, which meant we would get the same cars as Europe did. They started bringing the subcompact Fiesta over here, which quickly became a hot-seller, and the latest Focus that you see here. The Focus has been selling well, abiding to the same principles that made the original Focus such a worldwide success. Continue reading