2017 MINI Cooper S Countryman All4

 

George Gray was in the studio (on the right) to look over the Mini Cooper with me at Pirate Radio 104.7FM.  See what we thought:

Island blue paint – Heated chesterfield brown leather buckets – 5 passenger seating – 8” touchscreen – Weighs 3,629 lbs. – Premium stereo – 2.0 liter four – 189 horsepower / torque is 207 lb. ft. – Panoramic moonroof – LED headlights and cornering lighting – Eight speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive – Backup camera and navigation – $38,430.00 Window Sticker – 31 MPG on the highway – 26 MPG combined rating – 22 MPG city.  16.1 gallon tank – Made in Born, Netherlands

2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI “S” Hatchback

The GTI was driven to Pirate Radio for an analysis by Matt “Big Kahuna” Arguello and George “Elvis” Gray.  Listen in:

Front Wheel Drive – Tornado Red paint/Titan black and Clark plaid interior – 5 passenger – 168” long like a Beetle or Chevy Sonic – Heated front bucket seats – 5  Star NHTSA Safety rating – weighs 3,031 lbs. – XM radio and  premium 8 speaker stereo  – 6.5” Touchscreen with backup camera – 2.0 liter turbo four with 210 horsepower, torque is 258 lbs. ft. – 6  Speed Tiptronic Automatic transmission –  3 driving modes – Paddle shifters – 18”  aluminum alloy wheels and 225/40R18 summer radials – $27,515.00  list price – 27 MPG combined mileage, 24 in city and 32 on highway – 13.2 gallon tank – Built in Puebla, Mexico

2017 Fiat 124 Spider Roadster

THEN

As a little boy, my brothers and I (yes, the Wright brothers) got tiny plastic cars for Christmas one year with the make of car embossed over the back window.  They were about the size of a spool of thread, and we thought one of them was a “FLAT”.  The word Fiat, stamped on the toy, was foreign to us little guys and besides, no such cars were to be seen near Fullerton, Nebraska.  We learned much later that we had been playing with a Fiat 500 replica.

Italian automaker Fiat built automobiles in New York prior to World War II, and at the start of the conflict production in this country ceased.  They re-appeared in the U.S. in the 1950’s and sourced the backronym “Fix It Again, Tony” as a reference to rust and reliability problems.  In fact, I bought a 1968 Fiat roadster that was riddled with rust and after a trip to the bodyshop, drove it for several years during my Air Force assignment in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

I enjoyed the little red Fiat and had a dream of trading for the bigger 124 Spider, but marriage terminated my sports car ownership days and I replaced the Fiat with a Datsun sedan.

NOW

I was thrilled in 2014 when I heard that Fiat was going to resurrect the venerable 124 Spider, and as it turned out they built it on Mazda’s MX-5 Miata platform in a joint venture project.  A 2017 model was loaned to me for a week recently and I was able to give it a rather thorough analysis.

It had an M.S.R.P. of $27,285.00, and that price included a technology package with a 7″ display, XM radio, backup camera, and proximity keyless entry.  Drivetrain is a 1.4 liter, 160 horsepower turbo-4 and transmission is a pleasing 6-speed manual.  The vehicle is rear-wheel drive, handles like a dream and the top is a snap to put up and down (manually).  This 124 is a big step forward for Fiat Chrysler.

 

2017 Toyota Camry XSE FWD 4-Door Sedan

The Toyota Camry XSE was driven to Pirate Radio (104.7 FM) to get an analysis by the DJ’s – George Gray and Matt Arguello:

Blue Streak metallic – Charcoal gray leather-trimmed ultra suede heated buckets – 5 passenger seating – 7” touchscreen with navigation – Radar cruise control – Keyless entry and backup camera – LED daytime running lights, LED taillights – Power moonroof and remote engine start – JBL premium sound stereo w/ 10 speakers – Blind spot monitor and lane departure warning system – 268 horsepower 3.5 liter V-6 – 248 lb. ft. of torque – 6 speed automatic transmission, paddle shifters, and front-wheel drive –  $35,903.00 – EPA rating is 21 MPG city , 24 MPG combined rating and 30 MPG highway

2017 Mazda 3 Grand Touring 4-Door Sedan

20170228_114055The Mazda was driven to the radio station (KELS-FM 104.7) for an analysis by the “Morning Show” DJ’s, George Gray and Matt Arguello:

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Eternal Blue Mica metallic – Parchment leather heated buckets – Technology Package with Navigation system (7” touchscreen) – Radar cruise control – Power moonroof  LED headlights, daytime running lights, fog lights – Bose 9 speaker centerpoint surround sound stereo – Backup camera – 185 horsepower, 2.5 liter four cylinder SkyActiv engine  – 6 Speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive – $26,880.00 – Built in Hofu, Japan – 34 MPG on the highway, 29 MPG combined – Car and Driver TenBest winner20170228_114020_hdr