Note: This is a European only car at this point.
This 2006 Porsche 911 Carrera is a recent trade-in that caught my eye when it first pulled into the lot. It wasn’t just the color that got my attention. This is one of those cars that I’ve always wanted to drive. In fact, I considered buying a 1960’s Porsche 912 at one point but it didn’t work out.
I haven’t taken it out on the road yet. But I have driven it around the building a couple of times. It’s a six-speed with a rear engine that growls pleasantly behind you all day long. According to Edmunds.com it comes with a “3.6-liter flat six rated at 325 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque.” That’s a lot of power for such a small car! Wouldn’t this be fun to take home for the weekend?
The interior of this car is fairly nice for a sports car. It has a nice audio system with supportive seats. The first thing I noticed was that the ignition key was on the left side of the steering wheel. That’s not usual for most cars I have driven. The other thing I noticed was how simple the interior was. Mercedes-Benz cars have luxurious interiors. This Porsche was designed with simplicity in mind. And that’s okay.
I may take it for another drive next week. We’ll see.
Let’s begin with this. I like the looks of the new Mercedes-Benz CLA250. It looks like a baby CLS-Class. As you may recall, the CLS-Class is the four-door coupe with the design that makes you look whether you want to or not. The sloping roof and long hood have always caught my attention. Mercedes-Benz decided to capitalize on those aspects of the CLS-Class and made the small and “affordable” CLA-Class. Before seeing the car in the flesh, I was concerned about the interior size. How would a 6′ 3″ middle-aged man fit in a tiny car like this? Surprisingly, I fit in the car very easily. The power seat controls let me lower the seat and put it back far enough for me to feel comfortable. And the manually adjusted steering wheel telescopes far enough to work comfortably with my arms. I was pleasantly surprised. Now, don’t get the idea that this car is big enough to hold a basketball team. Remember that the sloping roof line will keep most basketball players in the front seat. But the front seats work very well.
The interior is nice. With a starting MSRP under $30,000, you wouldn’t expect the same refinement as an E-Class, but this is still a Mercedes-Benz. You can tell by looking over the car that this is also an affordable Mercedes-Benz. For instance, the ISO-FIX latches in the back seat are right out in the open. That looks a bit cheap. But the rest of the interior looks pretty good. I especially like the front air vents which look as if they came out of an aircraft. They really did a good job on those. Other reviewers have talked down the display screen which sits atop the dashboard. They say it looks like an after thought. I don’t think it looks bad. It seems to fit with the sporty nature of the car and works well with the audio/navigation/telephone system. The front seats are comfortable and look good. At first, I found the lower portion of the seat to be uncomfortable, but once I adjusted the power lumbar support it felt fine. Those familiar with the Mercedes-Benz interior layout will feel comfortable in the CLA-Class. The power features are located in the normal places. It uses the same COMAND type controller to access radio, navigation, and telephone features.
My first driving impression was that this car drives and handles well. The turning ratio at low speeds is very good and the car turns into tight spots very easily. Most of my test drive was on roads with a 35 mph speed limit, so I won’t say much about the acceleration. In city traffic, it drives like a normal car and never lags behind. I never felt as if the car lacked power even up steep hills. But one thing caught my attention at my first stop sign. The engine made a stutter of sorts. At the next stop sign, it did the same thing. I made a mental note to ask the general manager about this but then saw the work ECO at the bottom of the speedometer. Ahhh! This car comes with the 2.0L turbo charged 4 cylinder with the ECO start/stop feature. To save fuel, this engine stops running at stop signs or stop lights. The ideas is to conserve fuel while you wait for the traffic light to change. It’s really not a problem if you know what’s going on. As soon as you press the accelerator, the engine starts up and you move forward almost immediately. Contrary to what you may expect, the four cylinder is mated to a front wheel drive transmission. That’s especially good as there are currently no AWD models available.
My first impression of the CLA250 is a good one. I like the looks of the car inside and out. As long as you understand what it is, this is a great car. It is not an E-Class or S-Class. But it’s not meant to be a luxurious yacht. Instead, it provides a zippy alternative to those who can afford something in the $30-35,000 range. That means that the CLA250 will most likely appeal to customer who like the Audi A3, Acura ILX, BMW 1-Series, Infiniti G25, Lexus CT 200h, SAAB 9-3, and Volvo S60 T5. But this car could also pull in customers who are currently considering the Buick Regal, Chevy Impala, Chrysler 200, Honda Accord, MINI Cooper, and VW Jetta. That makes things a little more interesting. Mercedes-Benz has made a daring but good move. And now that the car is out, we shall see if that move has paid off. I, for one, think it will.
Click here to see our current Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class inventory here.
My lunch time motto is “If you’re going to drive a company car to lunch, be sure to take something interest and always take pictures.” Well … maybe that’s not really my motto but this car fits into the interesting part. I’ve taken this 2012 Volvo C30 to lunch several times in the last week or so just because it is a fun car to drive. This model is actually one of our demo models left over from last year’s inventory. It has about 5,900 miles on it and still looks like a new car (despite the bird bombing that recently took place). But what makes this car interesting enough to take to lunch repeatedly?
- The Volvo C30 has a unique design.
- The Volvo C30 has a peppy turbo-charged engine.
- The Volvo C30 has a decent amount of room in the hatch.
Almost every time I see a C30, at the dealership or on the road, I smile. I started selling Volvos during the summer of 2008. The C30 was the newest design from Volvo at the time and was a breath of fresh air. It was a fun car from Volvo which finally threw away the boxy, safety image and made people sit up and notice. Volvo now has a car that looks as good as it is safe. The best part of the design was the rear end. Everything from the glass hatch to the curvy lines makes you want to look again. This is definitely a unique car.
The C30 doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the engine output. The 2.5L inline five cylinder engine puts out 227 hp and 236 lb/ft of torque. Mated to a 5-speed Geartronic transmission, the C30 is good for a 0-60 mph sprint in just 6.6 seconds (6.2 seconds with the manual). It’s perfect for the driver who wants instantaneous acceleration in town or on the highway. When you press the pedal, it moves … quickly. In fact, on my way back from Jersey Mike’s in Willoughby, I saw a 5.0L Mustang parked alongside the road and wondered if I could take him. Probably not … but the turbo made me think I could.
At least that’s the impression I had when comparing the C30 to the MINI Cooper I drove a few weeks ago. Remember the incident with the new lawnmower? A new MINI Cooper S has 5.7 ft3 of storage space behind the rear seats and 23 ft3 with them folded down. That’s not very impressive. Obviously, the C30 has more space than that, right? Well, I certainly thought so. And then I didn’t think so. And then I thought so again. The problem was that Volvo didn’t communicate the dimensions very well. On one site, the space behind the rear seats was listed as 12.9 ft3 and website reviews listed the cargo space as 20.2 ft3 with the seats folded down. That didn’t sound quite right. Larry Matteo, one of our salesmen, came to my rescue with VCC’s official data. The correct data is 15.3 ft.3 with the rear seats up and 33.4 ft.3 with the rear seats down. You won’t be hauling a canoe in the back, but that’s not too bad for a little hatchback. Maybe I could get two lawnmowers next time?
So, is this the car for you? I would conclude that it’s probably not a good replacement for a pickup truck, station wagon, or SUV. And a family of five won’t fit in this as it has only 4 seats. But what serious minded person ever bought a hatchback with the idea of hauling lumber, household appliances, and the local Boy Scout troop? The Volvo C30 is a comfortable car built for the customer who wants a fun hatchback that drives well and keeps a smile on his face. So, make your choice. If you need a school bus then buy one. If you need a delivery truck then buy a Sprinter. But if you want a fun car with limited cargo space, then buy this one. Furthermore, if you would like to save some money on a 2012 Volvo C30, let me know.
*For some reason, Volvo doesn’t publish the cargo capacity with the seats folded down on their specs page.
If you have ever wondered why the MINI is so named, please visit Leikin Motor Companies for a test drive. I took the opportunity to take a recently acquired 2009 MINI Cooper S to lunch last week. Thanks to the adjustable seat and steering wheel, there was plenty of room for my 6′ 3″ body. I’m not sure if there would be room for someone behind me, though. This car is rather small. How small is it? Well… after eating a Big Kahuna at Jersey Mike’s (the best sandwich they make), I crossed the street and purchased a lawnmower from Lowe’s Hardware. As I rolled the large cardboard box to the back of the MINI, I suddenly realized my mistake. Not only is there little room behind the back seats (enough for 2 pencils and an eraser if turned sideways) there wasn’t much more with the back seats folded down! I actually had to fold the front passenger seat forward to get the box in with the hatch closed. Again, I should have known.
While the MINI Cooper S is no SAAB 900 when it comes to hauling washing machines, filing cabinets, and anything larger than a push mower, it does have some get up and go for such a small car. The 1.6L turbo 4 produces 172 hp. While that may not seem like much compared to other performance machines you have driven, how many of them are this small? Small can be good after all. And this MINI can scoot to 60 mph in just 6.7 seconds. That’s a lot of fun especially with the 6-speed manual transmission. Steering is also very responsive. When you turn the wheel, there is no hesitation, and you will quickly find yourself in the next lane if you’re not careful.
Despite the size of the car, I find myself choosing to take this one on errands or to lunch as often as I can. It’s a fun drive that would take the “boring” out of your daily commute. See this and other interesting cars at www.LeikinMotor.com.