2010 Imports: Something for everyone
by Jim Corbran
Well, maybe not everyone. I’m sure there’s a United Auto Worker member or two out there who wouldn’t touch an imported car with a 10-foot-pole, but for everyone else there’s a lot of exciting stuff out there…starting with the answer to the question no one asked—the Porsche Panamera.
When the German sportscar maker came out with the Cayenne SUV a few years back, Porsche purists had a mass case of the vapors. But it turned out the folks in Stuttgart knew exactly what they were doing, as the Cayenne is turning out to be the marque’s top-seller here in North America. What’s a Panamera? A four-door sedan Porsche which comes in three models, starting with the S, for those of you who dwell at the bottom of the totem pole. It comes standard with a 400-horsepower, 4.8-liter V-8, as well as such niceties as a dual-tone horn, backup lights, and a variable door stop—all for only $89,800! (See the full list of standard features—a bit longer than mine—at porsche.com/usa/models/panamera.) For those of you with a bit more coin jingling in your pocket, there’s also the 4S ($93,800) and the Turbo ($132,600). Yes, the Panamera does look a bit like a 911 that’s been badly Photoshopped, but from everything I’ve heard and read, I wouldn’t mind being in one for a nice long drive to—oh, anywhere I guess! With a top speed of 175 miles per hour (186 for the Turbo), it won’t take long to get there.
At the other end of the four-door sedan market there’s the new Kia Forte, which not only replaces the Spectra, but should make Kia fans forget all about it. The new Forte is just another rung on the ladder of respectability for the South Korean automaker. (As I type that, I ask myself: Is there such a thing as a North Korean automaker? Or is Dear Leader content to be driven around in decades-old Soviet ZILS?) The Forte should be good competition for the likes of the Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3. The well-equipped base model has a sticker price of a mere $14,390 and I’d guess that, based on looks and Kia’s 10-year/100,000-mile warranty, you’ll be seeing a lot of them on the road.
Acura is introducing a new TSX sedan, and as good as these cars are, I can’t get past the new corporate look seen throughout the Acura line. That front grille just looks to me like some goofy, grinning cartoon character. And as if it doesn’t look goofy enough on the new TSX, check out the new ZDX car/SUV/crossover, which should hit showrooms in November. What are they thinking? Too bad the new ZDX wasn’t available for the filming of the last Batman movie; it would have made a great car for the Joker to drive around in. I’m not sure anymore how to classify cars like the ZDX. It’s kind of like a tall car that someone decided would be better off without the useful, large rear cargo area of a crossover, but hey, let’s not put in a traditional trunk, either. Acura calls the ZDX a “provocative four-door sports coupe,” totally ignoring the fact that, by definition a coupe is a two-door. What’s next, an “invigorating fixed-roof convertible?”
What else is new, quickly? Subaru has revamped the Legacy, and in the great American tradition of new car makeovers, it’s larger in every dimension. Passengers probably won’t mind, as the interior now has more room, but does everybody really need more room? Suzuki will be introducing a new mid-sized sedan later this year called the Kizashi. Apparently they’ve hired someone in marketing who did time in the breakfast cereal business. This name is almost as bad as the Nissan Qashqai which so far, much to the delight of spellcheckers across the continent, isn’t yet available in North America.
And on that note…’til next time.
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