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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Mon, Mar 3, 2008

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

HOT WIRES For hot and tender news wires on the car culture, see LA Car's Hot Wires Extreme Hybrid Synergy: Italdesign Giugiaro's Quaranta New Effects: Infiniti's 2009 FX Smug Alert: Study Finds Hybrid Owners More Creative and Less Dogmatic Volkswagen Introduces the New Scirocco Mexico Bans Imported Used Cars Older and Newer than 1998

Italdesign Giugiaro's Quaranta

NAKANO: BACK SEAT DRIVING EXTREME HYBRID SYNERGY Italdesign Giugiaro's Quaranta Of all the new concepts introduced at the recent Geneva International Motor Show, the wildest may have been the Quaranta by Italdesign Giugiaro. The "Quaranta" project is a concept car designed to celebrate Italdesign Giugiaro's 40 years of business in styling and technological research at the service of the automotive sector. The design studio describes it as a synthesis of Italdesign Giugiaro's experience of automotive design: from city cars to super sports-cars, from MPVs to medium-engined saloons up to and including luxury flagships and environment-friendly SUV, not to mention light/heavy duty commercial vehicles, in complete cooperation with leading manufacturers all over the world.

The Quaranta is appropriately described as an "extreme" product, an environment-friendly, 4WD super sports-car which incorporates a series of innovative aspects: its styling, but also its drive technology, which combines a Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive engine with solar energy, and its internal layout which, despite its mid-mounted rear engine, can accommodate three adults and a child, also providing a generous luggage compartment. According to Italdesign Giugiaro, the idea which inspired the Quaranta project is that of the first single-volume concept car with central engine and drive. The original reference is to the 1968 Bizzarrini Manta which, at that time, represented a major breakthrough in styling, now adapted to state-of-the-art technology and enriched with Italdesign Giugiaro's forty years experience of research.

Your Back Seat Driving comments can be sent to: Letter to the Editor

2009 Infiniti FX

NAKANO: BACK SEAT DRIVING NEW EFFECTS Infiniti's 2009 FX Crossover SUV The first-generation FX has been an enormous success for Infiniti. Not wanting to rest on its laurels, the carmaker has announced an all-new 2009 Infiniti FX crossover SUV. First shown at the Geneva Motor Show, the second-generation FX will be offered in three models, including a new 5.0-liter V8-equipped Infiniti FX50. The 2009 FX is scheduled to go on sale at Infiniti dealers in the United States and Canada in June 2008. The new FX's world debut in Geneva was hosted by Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. President and CEO Carlos Ghosn, who also announced details of Infiniti's plans to enter the Western European market in the last quarter of 2008. The second-generation Infiniti FX features a extensive list of available equipment and technology - including a new 390-horsepower 5.0-liter 32-valve DOHC V8 or advanced V6 engine, 7-speed automatic transmission with Adaptive Shift Control and available Intelligent All-Wheel Drive. Also available are a number of safety features, such as Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA), which provides forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, Lane Departure Warning/Lane Departure Prevention system, which help keep the vehicle in its travel lane, Intelligent Cruise Control (Full Speed Range), maintains a pre-set distance with the vehicle ahead at speeds between 0-90 mph, and the industry's first application of Distance Control Assist (DCA), which helps reduce the stress of driving in heavy traffic by intuitively helping to release the throttle and apply the brakes to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead.

The 2009 Infiniti FX's performance characteristics are enhanced with an improved four-wheel independent suspension and larger four-wheel disc brakes with available opposed-piston brake calipers. A new, available FX Sport Package includes a Continuous Damping Control (CDC) suspension, Rear-Active Steer and 21-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. Inside, the new FX interior is highlighted by a driver-oriented cockpit with available sport seating and advanced audio, navigation and entertainment systems - including an 11-speaker Bose audio system, Infiniti Intelligent Key and Around View Monitor system.

Your Back Seat Driving comments can be sent to: Letter to the Editor

Comedy Central's South Park lampooned smug hybrid owners

NAKANO: BACK SEAT DRIVING SMUG ALERT AGAIN Study Finds People Who Drive Hybrid Cars Are More Creative and Less Dogmatic Here we go again. The Los Angeles Times wrote an editorial a while back about how annoying they can be. South Park did a brilliant, semi-tongue-in-cheek episode about them in Season 10 (Smug Alert!). These are the hybrid owners that keep patting themselves on the back about what a noble car-buying decision they made. In the South Park lampoon, hybrid owners are so pleased with themselves that they start to like the smell of their own farts. Smug pollution has replaced smog pollution among some hybrid owners. Many hybrid owners -- and in particular, Prius owners -- have a way of interjecting their hybrid ownership into any given conversation. They're sort of like Texans who always manage to mention their home state into the conversation. With gas prices heading toward four dollars a gallon, it's just more fodder for the smug ones. And as if hybrid owners weren't smug enough, a company called Mindset Media released a Mindset Profile(TM) of hybrid car drivers, which the company generated from a recent study conducted using Nielsen Online. According to the study, people who drive hybrid cars are 78 percent more likely than the general population to be highly creative or, in Mindset Media parlance, "Creativity 5s." Hybrid drivers are also far more likely to be more liberal than the general population ("Dogmatism 1s"), and the study found hybrid owners to be more open-minded, more spontaneous, and more assured of their ability to lead others. Mindset Media defines Creativity 5s as inventive and imaginative people. Creativity 5s also tend to be emotionally sensitive and intellectually curious. "A Mindset Buy(TM) of any of these 'hybrid Mindsets' will reach millions of people with the 'wiring' to love hybrids," said Sarah Welch, COO and co-founder of Mindset Media. "A Mindset Buy will extend the target reach of any hybrid plan simply and efficiently." The MM study coincides with the release of findings by Consumers Union about the true cost of car ownership. Factoring in depreciation and resale value, refueling costs, and repair and maintenance costs, Consumers Union found that a cheaper car can sometimes cost an owner more in the long run than a more expensive alternative. "At about $17,500, a Mitsubishi Lander could cost $5,000 less than a Mini Cooper to drive home. But considering the total costs of ownership for each car, the Lancer could cost you around $3,000 more over five years," says CU. So after surveying the cars for sale in the USA, Consumers Union determined that the hybrid electric Toyota Prius has the lowest projected ownership costs of any family sedan. If that's not enough to send the smug alert to new levels, Consumers Union also finds that Toyota Prius owners have the highest owner satisfaction quotients of any car owners. In response to the question, "would you buy this car again?," Prius owners answered in the affirmative more than any other (Porsche Boxster owners are runners-up in the owner satisfaction quotient). Both findings are reported in the April issue of Consumer Reports (a publication of Consumers Union), which just hit the newsstands. About Mindset Media: Mindset Media is an internet ad network for brands. Using what it calls its psychographic standard, Mindset Media purports to enable brand advertisers to target millions of people with the personality traits that fit their brands in online media buys. The company works in partnership with Nielsen Online to develop consumer profiles that help brand marketers specify their psychographic targets. Editor's note: The author of this Back Seat Driver piece is a Prius owner Your Back Seat Driving comments can be sent to: Letter to the Editor

The new Scirocco

NAKANO: BACK SEAT DRIVING THE NEW SCIROCCO Volkswagen Debuts the New Scirocco in Geneva Welcome back to the future: 34 years after the first Scirocco was unveiled to a waiting world at the Geneva Motor Show, Volkswagen is presenting a new Scirocco at the same venue. Now as then, the essence of the Scirocco is a marriage high technology and low running costs, dynamic performance, and a sporty design. "What we have done with the Scirocco is to put the kind of sports car in our showrooms that people have dreamed of owning, says Volkswagen Group's Chairman of the Board of Management, Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn. "A dream that a good deal of motorists - in spite of all the high-end engineering we have integrated - can actually afford."

The Scirocco will be launched Europe-wide in late summer with prices in Germany starting at 21,750 euros; other countries will follow over the course of the next year. In other news, Volkswagen will intro its Golf TDI Hybrid in Geneva as well. This new car combines a high-tech diesel engine, an electric motor and 7-speed DSG technology. On show for the first time in the world at the Geneva Motor Show, the concept car consumes no more than 3.4 litres of diesel fuel per 100 kilometres. The full-hybrid Golf TDI Hybrid can be run either in internal-combustion mode only or in mixed operation - the powerful yet thrifty combination of TDI and electric motor. The car is also designed to run on emissions-free electric power only. Power transmission to the front axle is managed by a 7-speed DSG gearbox. In city traffic, the automatic stop-start system will even switch off the turbo-diesel when the vehicle is stationary. The Passat Estate TSI EcoFuel being premiered in Geneva marks the beginning of a new era for natural-gas-fuelled automobiles. Until now, passenger cars powered by eco-friendly, low-consumption natural gas have tended to be "mild mannered". The Passat changes that once and for all with its 110-kW / 150-PS TSI engine. And yet the direct-injection turbo engine in the Passat, specifically designed to run on natural gas, consumes no more than 5.2 kilograms of gas per 100 kilometres. The Passat and the Passat Estate TSI EcoFuel are due to be launched on the market around year-end.

Your Back Seat Driving comments can be sent to: Letter to the Editor

Got a 1998 car for sale?

NAKANO: BACK SEAT DRIVING SUDDENLY, IT'S 1998 IN MEXICO Mexico Bans Imported Used Cars Older and Newer Than 1998 Maybe I should have held onto that 1998 Passat. For those of us living on the southern border states, 1998 has become the de jure model year of choice for export into Mexico. Beginning March 3, 2008, only cars built in 1998 can be legally imported that country. "Until now, used cars 10 to 15 years old were scooped up at auction by South Texas used car dealers and rapidly sold to Mexicans hungry for affordable transportation and la novedad - or novelty - of unfamiliar makes and models," says Christopher Sherman of the Associated Press. "Mexico's new car dealers who say vehiculos chatarra, or jalopies, undercut their sales." That means that next year, 1999 will be the model year of choice. Up until now, cars newer than that were banned from imports as unwelcome competition for Mexican car dealers. Anything more than 15 years old was seen as a potential environmental and safety hazard. The Mexican Association of Automobile Distributors, which pushed for the change, says the change was needed to "stop the accelerated conversion of our country into the world's biggest automotive garbage dump." "With the sudden change in demand, such 1998 models are appreciating for the first time since they rolled off the lot, their prices rising by $500 to $800, while dealers cut prices on slightly older models in a frantic effort to move them out before Monday's deadline," according to Sherman. The new law actually allows only 10-year-old used cars to be legally imported. That means that next year, 1999 will be the model year of choice. So, have you been thinking about replacing your 1999 model? Wait a year. Your Back Seat Driving comments can be sent to: Letter to the Editor


LA Car

That was LA Car's subtitle when it started back in 1997. It's original website address was about five times the size of Since then, La Car became LA Car. Its subtitle became Reporting From Car Culture Ground Zero, then From The Heart of Car Culture, to today's The Cars and Culture of Southern California. At all times, however, we aimed to chronicle the Southland's automotive spirit - much like one's own journal or diary. LA Car has always been a great source to come back to from week-to-week, to see what articles and reviews have been added to our rather staggering database. With Back Seat Driving, a.k.a. BSD (note the similarity to two well-worn abbreviations, BS and BFD) and Live Wires - Hot & Tender News From the Car Culture (co-located with Back Seat Driving, and updated at least daily), we give you some reasons to come back more often (all opinions, by the way, are those of the respective author). So, go ahead and bookmark We'll be sure to always provide a link to Live Wires and the latest Back Seat Driving blog entry. In the meantime, welcome to the journal and journey from the heart of the car culture. - Roy Nakano

For past Blog entries, click the following: February 2008 January 2008 December 2007 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 July 2007 June 2007 May 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 August 2006 July 2006 June 2006 May 2006 April 2006 March 2006 February 2006 January 2006 December 2005 November 2005 October 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 June 2005 May 2005 April 2005 March 2005 February 2005 January 2005 December 2004 November 2004 October 2004 September 2004 August 2004 July 2004 June 2004 May 2004 April 2004

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