Super Street Network

Due to the EU’s Global Data Protection Regulation, our website is currently unavailable to visitors from most European countries. We apologize for this inconvenience and encourage you to visit www.motortrend.com for the latest on new cars, car reviews and news, concept cars and auto show coverage, awards and much more.MOTORTREND.COM
 |   |   |  Four One One
Subscribe to the Free
Newsletter

Four One One

Mar 14, 2004
0403_impp_01_z+fouroneone+nissan_titan Photo 1/1   |   Four One One

Hyundai: Ready, Set, Blow Up
The year: 1986. Hyundai rules the cheap-is-good scene with the penalty-box Excel. Madonna rules your hormones. Pretty soon, both scenarios collapse in an ugly nightmare of warranty costs and girl-on-girl-on-Vanilla-Ice action.

Now with a whole new century, Hyundai is reinventing itself-and looking to the next few years to totally smack down the rest of Asia and become the fifth-largest car company in the world. That's right, the fifth largest, like Iraq's former army and Brazil's landmass minus outlying islands. How are they going to rock that out?

A steady stream of new wheels that could be as tasty as the Tiburon and at least as functional as an Ikea-made personal love toy.

The next step in Korean world domination-step aside, Kim Jong Il-is the Tucson, a saucy little crossover ute coming your way at the Detroit auto show sketched out here, the real deal will use four-cylinder engines and front-drive in its base, $15,000 or so version. Further up the ladder, the Tucsons with all-wheel drive will share their 3.5-liter V-6 with the existing Santa Fe.

After that, Hyundai gets seriously busy. In 2005, they open a factory in Alabama, a favored home for foreign carmakers and previously related couples. The next-generation Sonata four-door will be the first car to shoot out of that delivery room. A new XG (Korea's own Buick LeSabre) and a big minivan are coming in 2006, along with a new Accent and Elantra. Finally, in 2007, Hyundai will take a relative breather by introducing a new Tiburon and an Explorer-sized SUV.

More New Japanese Cars-More Recalls
In a trend sure to be scaring the bejesus (beBuddha?) out of Japanese carmakers, big recalls are becoming more common as they spread their product lines and production sites. For example, Nissan said in November that it would recall 2.55 million vehicles because of an engine defect. In the affected cars - among them the 350Z - the engines have a defective sensor that could lead to a short circuit that can stop the engine. At Mitsubishi, defective front-wheel suspension joints in about 140,000 Mitsubishi Galants, and 270,000 other Mitsubishis sold in Japan have been recalled. And Honda has recalled 235,000 CR-V, Integra, and two non-U.S. models for a loose power steering unit. Honda also has recently recalled almost 700,000 vehicles in the U.S. for bum parking-gear units.

Toyota Takes Over Number Two
By the time you read this, Toyota might be the second-biggest carmaker in the world. Up until now, Japan's biggest carmaker has been number three, but with a bullet. Meanwhile, Ford Motor Company, the current number two with pockmarks all over its product lineup in the States and in Europe, has been sinking. Now Reuters tells us that for the first six months of 2003, Toyota outsold Ford if you include all its sales around the world, including trucks from Hino and cars from Daihatsu and all of Ford's luxury brands. Detroiters crow that new products will be coming in droves in 2004 and 2005, but for now their turf is up for grabs.

Honda Heading into Trucks?
Is there a Honda pickup being birthed somewhere in Tokyo-or in Lincoln, Alabama? The rumor mill in Detroit and L.A. says Honda will show a concept for a light-duty truck at the Detroit auto show, developed off the platform that Honda uses for the Odyssey minivan and Acura MDX sport-ute. No competitor for the uber-butch Nissan Titan or domestic full-sizers, the truck concept is more like a multi-purpose vehicle with a bed that wouldn't sell but 50,000 units a year. Honda reportedly is green-lighting the project and will build the truck either in its plant in Canada or alongside the Odyssey in Lincoln, Ala., east of Birmingham. Both Acura and Honda would get a version of the truck, though the Acura would be styled and equipped to fit its luxury brand image.

Safety First, Sportscars Last
Before Honda gives us a new sportscar to replace the NSX, they're going to pacify moms and dads everywhere by making some newfangled safety stuff standard on all their sedans, minivans and SUVs. Question their priorities if you will, but Honda plans on making front side airbags, side curtain airbags, and ABS brakes standard on everything except the S2000 and NSX by the end of calendar-year 2006. On top of that, Honda will add stability control to all their vans and sport-utes, along with rollover sensors for the side curtain airbags. Honda says they're also going to worry more about what happens to their car bodies in a crash and pedestrian bodies when they collide with Honda vehicles. The next NSX, meanwhile, isn't even expected before 2006.

NHTSA: Belts More Popular
A new report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finds that drivers in 40 states are buckling up more often than in the last survey. The NHTSA found that while in five states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, New Mexico, and Vermont) seatbelt usage fell. But in most of the rest of the U.S., seatbelt use rose. In Washington state, almost 95 percent of drivers buckled up; in New Hampshire, where there are no belt laws, the rate was just under 50 percent. The NHTSA data was released as part of a new push to increase belt usage and to pass primary seatbelt laws (which enable police to pull over vehicles solely because of seatbelt use) in some 30 states that do not have them.

Civic Hybrid: Sport-Compact Beano of the Future?
One uses less gas, one produces less. Both lead to a better world with bluer skies, cleaner air and fewer noxious emissions to deal with from the tailpipe. But in nearly every other respect, Honda's incognito Civic Hybrid and Beano take different approaches to de-polluting the earth.

Beano chemically interrupts the production of gas in your intestines. Honda's Civic Hybrid takes a much more circuitous route, using a battery panel wedged behind the rear seatbacks to act as a sort of amplifier for the puny gas engine tucked under the hood. You'll still be producing emissions-but with the gas-electric team, Honda says, you'll be consuming less gas and emitting fewer hydrocarbons than with a pure internal-combustion powerplant.

A lot of the smarty-pants technology in the Civic Hybrid comes right from Honda's truly wacky two-seat Insight-the car I piloted from Atlanta to New York on two tanks of gas and an iron grip on the steering wheel, since its skinny tires like to hula along in the wake provided by kind truckers. The Civic's powertrain is a combination of a small gasoline engine teamed to a battery pack and electric motor. The 85-hp 1.3-liter four-cylinder goes lean on the fuel mixture and has twin spark plugs in each cylinder, timed slightly apart, to keep the cylinders banging along. Honda's VTEC variable valve timing, low-friction pistons, thin-sleeve cylinder walls, and a plastic intake manifold are all on board, too.

On the Energizer tip is the battery pack, electric motor and a controller, all together called Integrated Motor Assist (IMA). It twists out 10 kilowatts of power added on top of the engine's 87 hp, and stores energy in its nickel-metal-hydride batteries. The batteries get charged by the gas engine and also by deceleration and braking.

This is the appropriate point for the dose of reality. The short, earnest history of hybrids-"Step aside, we're here to save the world!"-has been knocked a peg or two by the fact that most testers haven't gotten anything near the gas mileage promised by EPA fuel-econ figures. The Civic Hybrid, for example, promises 48 mpg city, 47 highway. Our unbroken-in vehicle average about 33 mpg in strictly city use-not much more than you'd get from a stock Civic that's roughly $5000 cheaper. However, other drives in '03 models bore out 40-mpg runs.

As you might expect from the 14-inch tires, sub-100-hp readings, the Civic Hybrid doesn't pose any threat to a nitrous-charged Civic Si. It's more than 10 seconds to get to 60 mph with either the stock manual five-speed or the continuously variable transmission. Handling is predictable but uninspiring. It's totally all over a Vespa though, in acceleration and in the fact you don't have to be a cigarette-smoking Italian to look good on it.

As for looks, it's a standard-issue four-door. You can tell it's a hybrid outside by its flush grille, clear taillamps, a small spoiler and the high-mounted antenna. Inside you'll find special metallic-looking trim around the sound system and climate control, and a battery-capacity gauge on the dash. Otherwise there's little to distinguish its high-mileage capability.

The compelling act of the Hybrid is invisible economy-silent, but deadly to oil barons worldwide. You'll get better gas mileage and not give up much in terms of performance. Of course, the overdose of electronics and batteries makes it unlikely you'll be doing any chip work or street mods under the hood. But just maybe you'll feel better about Mother Earth for driving one.

Infiniti's Seriously Big-Ass QX56
Debate the bigger-is-better on your own time. We just know this new Infiniti SUV is larger than some trailer homes and better for living in, especially when it comes tornado time. The QX56 will be the first Infiniti built in the U.S., and we're showing it to you not because it runs quarter-mile times in the low 13s, but because you could tow two blown Miatas to races with it and still have enough power from its 305-hp 5.6-liter V-8 to pass Kias on the interstate. Choose between rear- or all-wheel drive, but the leather and navigation systems are standard, all for about $33,000.

2004 Toyota Corolla XRS
At last November's SEMA extravaganza, Toyota showed that at least it's been paying attention to the Corolla with the introduction of the new Corolla XRS which transplants the 1.8-liter, DOHC, VVTL-i 2ZZ four and its accompanying six-speed manual transmission from the Celica GT-S into the Corolla.

The 2ZZ mutates somewhat during its move over to the Corolla. Instead of the 180 hp and 130 lb-ft of peak torque it makes in the Celica, it'll be rated at 170 hp and 127 lb-ft in the Corolla. That's because, says Toyota, it has retuned the engine for much better mid- and low-range power production, willingly sacrificing high-rpm zing in the bargain.

Naturally, to go along with the new powerplant, the XRS also gets a more taut suspension, 16-inch wheels and tires, some sports seats, revised interior trim and fresh decoration on the outside. All XRSs will be built at Toyota's plant in Cambridge, Ontario, with sales projected at just 5,000 cars for the first year.

Just Driven:
2004 Mitsubishi Evolution RS
There are people who get a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII and use it for commuting. Sure, they like the acceleration and handling, but they love the air conditioning, stereo and how the rear windshield wiper clears off the morning dew. The word for those people: wimps.

For those of us who find comfort just a distraction, Mitsu has now conjured up the Evolution RS; an EVO shorn of niceties and about 146 pounds. Gone are the rear wing, rear wiper, ABS, A/C, power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, the trunk trim, the leather wrap around the parking brake lever, the sound system, map lights, most of the sound deadening, some bucks off the sticker price and a good chunk of the commuter friendliness.

What gets added is a bar spanning the rear strut towers, a limited-slip front differential and a set of halogen headlamps to replace HIDs used in the VIII. Bye bye, civility; hello ferocity-at least, theoretically.

It's not surprising the ABS was deleted with the addition of the helical LSD up front. After all, making ABS work along with three limited-slip differentials is a neat engineering trick that, so far, can only be accomplished with an active center diff. But deletion of the ABS probably also let Mitsu drop enough cost out of the RS to be able to pay for the new diff and still knock the total MSRP down under $27K.

Otherwise, the 3,175-pound RS is like any other EVO VIII; the 4G63 2.0-liter, DOHC, 16-valve turbocharged still makes 271 hp and it still feeds a five-speed manual transmission and then an all-wheel-drive system twisting 17-inch Enkei wheels and Yokohama P235/45R-17 Advan tires. In short, blistering.

The RS isn't an ABS kind of car anyhow. On the big track at Willow Springs Raceway, driving VIIIs and RSs back-to-back, it takes a finely tuned hinny and a dozen or so laps to note much difference between them. The RS is more receptive to mudslide driving tactics as it passes its adhesion limits and rotates much more confidently than the standard VIII. It was far more receptive to direction changes through left-foot braking and more predictable in the execution of maneuvers. ABS is great in everyday driving, but anyone adept at threshold braking will find the RS's four discs easy and effective tools.

The omission of the rear wing didn't show up until the car was screaming through Willow's Turns Eight and Nine at about 115 to 120 mph, where the standard VIII's butt stayed planted more securely. If you're a regular down at the track (and your track is a long one with some high-speed sweepers), get the non-RS VIII or opt for an effective aftermarket wing on the RS.

The lack of sound deadening doesn't make the RS unlivable, but no A/C? For God's sake, we don't want to sweat. Thankfully, the RS is also available with an "Urban Jungle" package that adds A/C, power windows, power locks, power mirrors and the keyless entry system back in the car. Since radios are cheap at Circuit City, an RS equipped for the urban jungle may just be the EVO to have.

The RS goes on sale in January.

For 2004, the standard EVO will receive an optional 315-watt, seven-speaker Infiniti sound system. Also new for 2004 are leather-wrapped Recaros. Last year's sunroof option remains.

EVO with carbon-fiber spoiler 3,263 lbs
EVO with sunroof, {{{Infiniti}}} sound system and leather interior 3,331 lbs
EVO RS 3,175 lbs
EVO RS with Urban Jungle package 3,197 lbs

Skateboarding King Bucky Lasek Ramps up with Meguiar's
Meguiar's Inc., known for their snazzy car care products, recently announced that Bucky Lasek, the world's #1 "vert" skateboarder and multiple gold-medal winner at the X Games and Gravity Games, has been selected as its ambassador for the next generation of car enthusiasts. Lasek is one of the top boarders out there competing in the extreme sport of "vert" skateboarding and he has agreed to help promote the company's new lineup of "NXT" Generation car care products The spokesperson for Meguiar's said the company looks at Lasek as being at the center of his craft and considers him to be abound with creativity, technical innovation and passion. The car detailing and waxing mogul hopes to rope in the trust of Gen. Next-ers everywhere with their new image. Lasek considers himself a car enthusiast and touts that he uses Meguiar's line on his own vehicles-a match made in, well, car care heaven.

This "NXT" line incorporates engineered synthetic polymers (ESPs) and features a new, vibrant "extreme" packaging design. The lineup consists of a car wash, spray wax, tech protectant and tech wax. Meguiar's tech guys have been consistently dedicated to working with automotive paint manufacturers around the world in order to create the finest line available. This car washing empire has even gone so far as to create a weekly TV show, seen on the SPEED Channel national cable network, given the moniker of "Car Crazy Television." If that weren't enough, the suits at corporate even thought of a radio show called (what else?) "Car Crazy Radio" which airs weekly as a segment of Car and Driver Radio.

BROWSE CARS BY MARKET

MORE FEATURES

The Civic Type R Sport Line is designed for someone more mature that doesn’t want too much attention, but still wants to enjoy the performance of a Type R.
Sam DuFeb 21, 2020
Todd Grant is a part of a unique group of builders that have quietly been working on long-term builds that often go unnoticed, builds that focus on painstaking details that most would never catch
RodrezFeb 21, 2020
You hear it every year from drivers, usually right after the Daytona 500: “The NASCAR Cup Series season really begins next week. Daytona really isn’t representative …” Especially, you hear this from drivers who had a lousy Daytona 500, which this year opened the NASCAR Cup Series season on Feb. 18—after rain forced officials to
Steven Cole SmithFeb 20, 2020
A 521 mini truck whose staggered wheel setup makes it look like a fendered Formula 1 car with a bed.
Bob HernandezFeb 20, 2020
Are you a sim racer who plays racing games on Xbox, PlayStation, or PC? If so, then you definitely want to have a look at the Fanatec Direct Drive Podium Wheelbase.
Ceso BagayFeb 20, 2020
Sponsored Links

SEARCH ARTICLES BY MAKE/MODEL

Search
CLOSE X
BUYER'S GUIDE
SEE THE ALL NEW
NEWS, REVIEWS & SPECS
TO TOP