Wednesday, June 08, 2005

NEWS: Hyundai’s Entourage

By Michael Banovsky

Much like DCX stamped out competitors in the 80s by offering the super-popular Caravan, I think Hyundai will score big with its new minivan, the Entourage. Poised to offer class-leading power and a competitive price, Hyundai’s entry comes when some manufacturers are downsizing (Mazda5) or scrapping (Ford’s Freestyle) their minivan offerings. It should be an interesting fight.

From Hyundai Canada:

“Hyundai has announced that it will introduce an all-new minivan in the spring of 2006 as a 2007 model.

Called the “Entourage”, the new offering will extend Hyundai’s product range into the highly-competitive minivan segment for the first time.

Strengthening the Hyundai product portfolio, the new Entourage minivan will be offered only as a long-wheelbase version and will be powered by the sophisticated 3.8-liter V6 engine that will also be found in the 2006 Hyundai Azera premium sedan.

“The Entourage will be yet another milestone vehicle for Hyundai in Canada,” said Stephen F. Kelleher, President and C.E.O. of Hyundai Auto Canada. “We are extremely excited to be entering this market segment and, like other new Hyundai offerings, the all-new Entourage will offer buyers outstanding levels of quality, spaciousness, safety and standard features while reflecting and retaining traditional Hyundai value.””

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

NEWS: The Gender Split

By Michael Banovsky

Unfortunately, we don't yet know if this survey was done among 12-year-olds. If so, the men all like cars they can't afford - and the top 10 cars for girls must be what the "hot guy" drives at their school. (Which would explain all the budget motors.) Prices are all in US dollars, in case you thought there was some sort of sale going on. From

Top 10 cars for men

1. Porsche 911 coupe, $70,095 - $193,765
2. Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, $28,504 - $35,274
3. Ford GT, $143,345
4. Volkswagen Phaeton, $68,905 - $104,455
5. BMW 6-series convertible, $76,900
6. Jaguar XK8 coupe, $69,830
7. Maserati Spyder, $92,302 - $96,465
8. Mercedes CL, $96,720 - $132,320
9. BMW 6-series coupe, $69,900
10. Porsche 911 convertible, $79,895 - $141,995

Top 10 cars for women

1. Pontiac G6 convertible, (Not yet available)
2. Suzuki Forenza, $13,994 - $18,494
3. Volkswagen New Beetle convertible, $22,940 - $27,100
4. Volkswagen New Beetle, $17,185 - $27,100
5. Pontiac Sunfire coupe, $11,460 - $15,770
6. Volvo XC70, $36,080
7. Mitsubishi Eclipse convertible, $25,744 - $31,544
8. Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible, $20,045 - $29,120
9. Kia Rio sedan, $10,535 - $13,065
10. Kia Optima, $16,585 - $20,585

Monday, June 06, 2005

GAME: Configuroto

By Michael Banovsky

A few days ago, during a lull in the world of automotive news, I decided to configure some cars on the Internet. Not because I was going to buy one, mind you – but just to see how fat I could load up a few cars with options…

Pretty soon the bug spread, and Mark Atkinson was configuring a long-wheelbase Ford panel van. Other guys in the office were convinced they could spec out a Buick so it rang in at over $50,000. Then, like a Cold War-era arms race, we were all competing to configure the most over-the-top model.

Configuroto was born.

Here's the game:
Configure a car on the Internet, and add every conceivable option (the car must be on-sale in Canada). Take the total MSRP (options included), and divide it by the number of options you put onto the car. The winner is the person with the lowest overall total after three cars.

For example, on, a 2005 Focus ZX5 SES retails for $21,755. Options are a 4-speed automatic ($1,200), leather seats ($860), side impact airbags ($500), power moonroof ($1,000), and a perimeter alarm system ($250).

The total is $26,535, divided by the five options, for a total score of 5307.

The player with the lowest total of three configured models added together is the winner. Don't forget to email your results to your friends - the best way is to put simply: "Ford Focus - 5307", so that your optioning skills are kept secret. Feel free to post your lowest scores using our handy-dandy comment system.

Note: No prizes will be given, except for the immense gratitude and admiration your fellow motorheads will bestow upon you.

Good luck!

NEWS: Passat Wagon

By Michael Banovsky
Photos courtesy Volkswagen Germany

In some look what we'll be getting in a few years news, these are the first official photos of the redesigned Volkswagen Passat Wagon.

Although VW is currently pushing its redesigned Jetta, we'll be getting the new Passat next year - and the wagon most likely six months after that. Expect the range of engines to include the 200 horsepower 2.0L FSi, the 255 horsepower 3.2L FSi V6, 150 horsepower 2.0L TDi diesel, and (maybe) a range-topping W8.

I suppose that Ikea shopping spree will have to wait...

NEWS: Another high noon duel?

By Michael Banovsky
Photo courtesy McMaster University

Austin, Texas has seen many midday duels under the scorching sun. This year, the competitors won’t be using wild west-style revolvers, but solar cars.

Team members of the McMaster Solar Car Project have just unveiled one of Canada's entries into the first-ever North American Solar Car Challenge. Named Phoenix, the solar car features a redesigned aerodynamic shell, a three-wheel chassis system for reduced road resistance, a more efficient solar array with 479 solar cells, and new suspension, steering and braking systems for improved performance and handling.

"We've engineered Phoenix based on what we've learned from our previous two cars, Fireball 1 and Fireball 2," explains Avery Yuen, Project Manager, McMaster Solar Car Project. "We've found better ways to tap the sun's energy and overcome earth's natural resistances to make Phoenix travel faster over a longer period of time while making it easier to drive."

The first-ever North American Solar Challenge is a special edition of the biannual American Solar Car Challenge and will run from July 17 to 27. More than 30 teams from across North America will race on a highway route that starts in Austin, Texas, crosses the Canadian border into Manitoba and finishes in Calgary, Alberta.

Cars will reach speeds of over 100 km/h while using the equivalent electrical output of a toaster.

"Engineering a solar car lets us put into practice what we've learned," said Karleen Dudeck, Business Manager, McMaster Solar Car Project. "It also lets us explore engineering solutions in areas such as alternative energy and environmental protection."

The team has spent the last 12 months working on designing, manufacturing and fundraising for Phoenix. More than 50 local organizations and individuals have contributed to the development of the car, which is valued at over $300,000.

The project can be found at