We are all in a tizzy, rather more than normal right now. In the auto industry, we are still trying to figure out the thinking and application behind the government attempt to increase taxation (levy, cost, whatever) to the vehicles we want and need. It’s not that we don’t see the need to address traffic issues (if that’s what is trying to be accomplished) or the need to increase the ability to spend money on infrastructure (if that is at all able to be done effectively) but it does seem that everything is rather haphazard. Just like the whole plan to avoid cellular telephone use while driving. It comes from a good idea, but the fact that there was so much confusion even past the day of implementation does say something. The fact that we were with government spokesmen the day before implementation and they themselves clearly couldn’t answer questions is something we are unfortunately used to.
On a more positive note, the cars continue to get better. There is more usable power produced from smaller engines than ever, and it is produced more pleasantly. The whole journey is (or can be, for those that are lagging behind) much smoother thanks to improved transmission systems that are actually now contributing more to fuel efficiency and emissions control than the engines are, according to the engineers. Plus, as we showed before with examples of crash-testing the Mitsubishi Mirage, the fact that designs can be based on smaller space needed up front means that architecture and crush zones and structural protection can now be more efficient than ever. So yes, the luxury cars are going to be way more expensive but on the other hand, look how good the other cars have become. Europe developed the hot hatch culture for very good reasons.
We do love hatches done well. Even just looking at the lines of the new Rio, you see the fact that the form is more fast Euro than plain Jane Asian. You get the feeling of Italian or German, maybe. This is one of those right time, right car moments perhaps. With all of the economy (and economic growth and development) now in question because of some rather unclear policies plus the fact that smaller engines are getting increasingly better and small cars increasingly more comfortable, these vehicles are getting a much better shot at being assessed more properly and appropriately. It is great to have another addition to a market that is not only growing but also growing smarter.
But sometimes smart takes a back seat to fun. Elsewhere in this issue, we have three tuned EVOs, a Mustang Shelby GT350, and the new Mazda Miata in targa form. Plus we go back to two-wheeled school at least three times, reminding us why we did so enjoy our often-sideways youth