Review: FIAT Toro Compact Pickup

By Jean-Philippe Launberg, and in partnership with Escopo Automotivo.

Despite a severe market downturn, there are 3 products doing really well in the Brazilian market nowadays. Two ― the Honda HR-V and the Jeep Renegade ―  are “no brainers”: Small Crossover sales are increasing (as in every other major market) despite an overall market drop of roughly 50% over the last two years. The third, FIAT’s Toro (Bull, in Italian), is more of a surprise.

The Toro is FIAT’s first modern Pickup, and it was launched in Brazil early this year. It’s the brand’s largest and most expensive locally-made vehicle. It is also a kind of “tweener”: a Crossover Pickup.

Fiat Toro pick-up

The Toro’s design manages to be both sleek and muscular, and is a strong selling-point.

Fiat Toro pick-up rearContinue Reading …

Review: Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle

After publishing a few critical articles about hydrogen mobility on this site last year, both by myself and a guest author, most notably about the technology when compared to “traditional” Battery Electric Vehicles, I was given the chance to be among the first to drive a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle in Europe: the Hyundai ix35 FCEV. You would’ve seen the pictures yesterday if you followed me on Twitter. In the meantime, the technology has made progress and looks ever more promising, although there’s still a long way to go before hydrogen becomes a viable alternative to gasoline or diesel for a private car buyer.

Hyundai_ix35-Hydrogen-Fuel_Cell_Vehicles-Rotterdam

While Honda has had a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle available for lease in California since 2008, the FCX Clarity has never been able to reach mass production, with less than 100 cars delivered to customers. Other hydrogen test cars from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and General Motors never made it past the prototype phase. This makes Hyundai the first automaker to start mass production of a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle, when it started production of 10.000 Hyundai ix35 FCEV early this year. The South-Koreans beat Toyota to the honor, as the Japanese brand only recently started taking orders for its Mirai FCEV.

Hyundai_ix35-Hydrogen-Fuel_Cell_Vehicle-badgeThis means the ix35 FCEV is a huge image booster for Hyundai, in the same way the Prius hybrid was for Toyota, helping the brand establish itself as a technology leader and a “green” automaker. Driving the car on public roads in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, the ix35 Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle has convinced me that the technology for this type of vehicle is indeed ready, which solves the chicken-or-egg problem with this new technology. … Continue Reading …

Review Ford Fiesta Ecoboost 1.0T Powershift

Ford-Fiesta-Ecoboost-1.0-Powershift-TitaniumThe sixth generation Ford Fiesta has been Europe’s best selling subcompact car from 2009 onwards, except for a second place in 2011. Over 3,5 million Fiesta’s have been sold in our continent in the past 10 years , more than any other B-segment car. The top-of-the-line Fiesta ST is universally considered the best hot hatch of the moment, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the line-up are just a bunch of boring city cars.

Well, city cars they are, but not at all boring. Even with an automatic transmission this is not your average “grandma’s car”. That’s because the new Powershift double-clutch automatic gearbox is coupled with the highly acclaimed 1-liter three-cylinder Ecoboost turbo engine. As the relatively new segment of small MPV’s has tempted elderly buyers to prefer the Ford B-Max because of its higher entry and seating position, this has created room for the Fiesta to appeal more to the younger generation. And it does, with its cool Aston Martin-like front-end, absolutely brilliant driving dynamics and the advanced technology and connectivity features.

The one I’ve driven was fully equipped with just about anything you can get on a Fiesta, which means the price was close to that of the aforementioned ST, or even a base Ford Mondeo. But that’s an unfair comparison, as this Fiesta is a great choice if you live in or near the city and want an economical yet fun car that’s easy to park, but you still want all the comfort and amenities that a large car offers.… Continue Reading …