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One Lap of the Web: Small cars, thrifty cars and AWESOME cars

Tue, 25 Mar 2014

-- In Mexico, Chevrolet launched a special version of the Spark called the Dot Edition. It has dots on the hood, roof, and bumper. That says it all, really. If you live in Mexico, this video might whet your appetite for inexpensive ($176,500 pesos, or $13,338) Korean-built runabouts with the dot-addled allure of a mid-'90s tech-company logo.

-- Meanwhile, in Europe, Peugeot has given buyers a 308 hatchback with a 1.2-liter gasoline engine that is so fuel efficient, Peugeot testers drove 1,124.7 miles on a single tank and returned 99.1 mpg (big British Imperial mpg, mind you), a new range record. Imagine driving across the country with that kind of range. If you left LA for New York, you'd have to fill up somewhere around Amarillo, Texas, and then bum gas money from your friends as soon as you entered Dayton, Ohio. Then it'd only be 607 miles to Second Avenue Deli, and then another 600 miles to burn while looking for a parking spot.

-- Frank Markus once interned at the Chrysler Sterling Heights, Mich., plant, a fate I wouldn't even wish upon a death note of terrible landlords. It's better now, he says. Honest. Back in his day -- 1987, where his character was played by Michael Keaton -- "pack-an-hour-smoking Neanderthals ruled by intimidation" as they built Sundances, Shadows, and LeBarons, those legendary bastions of reliability. Now, SHAP is gearing up for the 200 and it looks like the clean room at SpaceX. More robots! More sensors! The managers swear less at SHAP now, Markus is happy to report.

-- Japanese Nostalgic Car dug up a book, published by Nissan in 1978, explaining the "AWESOME" Datsun 280ZX and how it was awesomely developed by awesome engineers who were constantly shifting into awesome. What's the secret for controlling the new Turbo-ZX? Controlling yourself -- because you know you're awesome. Sadly this book predates both Major Motion…From Nissan and the Black Gold 280ZX, known to industry insiders as "Pablo Escobar on wheels."

-- Are you spending nearly $9,000 every year on your car? That's what a new survey by AAA says, tallying gas, insurance, registration, license fees, tires, maintenance, and those Little Tree air fresheners that consume the largest part of any modern motorist's budget. Some of these costs are inevitable. But here are some ways you can avoid spending the equivalent of a 1982 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz on your milquetoast Camry: ditch the "DILBERT" vanity plate, stop paying for insurance, drive with just three wheels (save the cost of a tire), turn your engine off whenever you go down a parking garage ramp and start picking up hitchhikers and charging them with moonshine currency. Actually, don't do any of these things.

Image via Flickr.

By Blake Z. Rong