In a week filled with tragedy, much more happened outside the automotive sphere than in it. But things did happen, mostly in Shanghai, China, where the Shanghai Motor Show is kicking off this week. It wasn’t too long ago when China was thought of as a country that drove around in smog-emitting, old-tech cars with no safety regulations. That’s mostly still true.
However, with the country becoming ever-more-mobile and its GDP rising, automakers have learned that China matters, and it’s about time to start featuring some of the world’s best and most exciting new vehicles in a market that’s still growing. Between that and a few other stories, we had a pretty full week to cover.
Monday, April 15
The Mitsubishi G4 concept looks like a dumpy subcompact sedan–mostly because it is. It’s also part of a last-ditch effort to buoy the brand in the U.S., as it will be a car that ought to offer plenty of space and thrift on the cheap. Essentially a 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage sedan, the G4 will share that car’s 1.2-liter four-cylinder, likely carrying the same 74-horsepower rating–and 44 mpg highway fuel economy rating. Even though the Mirage hatch isn’t yet out, that was the highest number for a non-hybrid up until this week (see Thursday). There’s a chance that cheap and cheerful won’t be too bad when it reaches showrooms. There’s also a chance of a snow storm in Los Angeles this weekend.
Tuesday, April 16
Subaru insisted that the 2015 WRX would greatly differ from the Impreza on which it’s based. Then, the company showed off the lustworthy WRX Concept at the New York Auto Show last month. We were beyond giddy after seeing that. And then we saw spy shots of the production version of the car lapping Germany’s Nurburgring this week and were so saddened by its conservative styling that we cried in the office for a good half-hour before our eyes cleared. When they did, we looked at our monitors, saw it again, and cried some more. Outside of a new nose and a big spoiler and big wheels, it looks like an Impreza, which isn’t a bad car. But it isn’t what we were shown in New York. Why do you do these things to us, Subaru?
Wednesday, April 17
Supposed to be introduced on Thursday, we got a bit of a treat when an outlet somewhere out there on the internet accidentally dropped information about the Mercedes-Benz GLA Concept a day early. Because of the way these things go, pretty soon the news was everywhere; the tiny crossover will be headed to production with much the same underneath its curvy sheetmetal as the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA. Perhaps the coolest thing about it is something that won’t be making it to showrooms: Laser headlights. The lights can even make pictures on the ground, signalling to pedestrians and bikers which way the car is headed to make life easier. If you’re a little more selfish, they can act as movie projectors, too.
Thursday, April 18
You know that 44-mpg 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage we were talking about? You know why it’s not the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid in the U.S. anymore? Because the also not-yet-for-sale 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel. That’s why. Chevrolet released official numbers for the Cruze Diesel this week, a whopping 46 mpg on the highway. That’s 4 mpg more than the Volkswagen Jetta TDI with a diesel engine and automatic transmission. The Cruze Diesel will come one way–loaded–and with one transmission option–an automatic–in hopes that it can revive diesel sales in the U.S. We think it’ll all depend on how GM markets it.
Friday, April 19
While the Lexus ES has shared many of its parts with the Toyota Camry since it was introduced in 1989, it has always been produced in Japan, even when the bulk of Camry production shifted to the U.S. That’s about to change. Toyota has announced that starting for the 2015 model year, the Lexus ES will be produced in Kentucky alongside the Camry, at least as far as our market is concerned, boosting production in the plant from 500,000 to 550,000 vehicles annually. Toyota says the move will add 750 workers to the plant. If you’re one of those people who has to have your Japanese car built overseas, fear not, though. While the Lexus ES 350 will be built in America, the ES 300h is going to stay at its plant in Japan alongside the Camry Hybrid.