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BMW and Toyota Are Boring. Or How I Got Banned From Their Press Fleets.

by Peter Dushenski

I’m banned!

I dared to take risks. I dared to have a different perspective. I dared to challenge the convention of what a car review should tell you.

And now BMW and Toyota have banned me from their press fleets.

And I couldn’t be happier.

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Battle Of Da G-Wagons: A CarEnvy MegaFair™ Comparison Test

 

Welcome back to anova glue-huffin’ addition of da CarEnvy MegaFair™ Comparison Test!

In dis mega-masha’ smackdown, two 5-door wagons vie for street supremacy. It be kinda like da Bloods vs. da Crips, but wit’ way mo’ at stake. Da Countryman be Mini’s first 5-door and da most biggest vehicle in da company’s history. Dis has given lots o’ peeps lots to chatter about, but none of dem has looked at its bad ass G-ness. CarEnvy be changin’ dat by pitting it against da new tech-poppin’, rock-slingin’ Ford Focus. And we ain’t talking about da kind of rocks dat David slung at Goliath oh no, we be talkin’ about da kinds of rocks you smoke, baby. Cuz da Focus plays for keeps!

Now, deez two might be seemin‘ like a pair of mild-mannered hatchbacks marketed and designed for da young urban professionals who be wearin’ thick-rimmed glasses and practicin’ Anusara yogaz, but dat ain’t da whole truth. Sure, dey both be upmarket whips that be eager to differentiate demselves from da pack with a slammin’ combo of panache and practicality, but don’t let dat costume fool you da way it has so many others! Deez two only wear cardigans during da day to fool dey oblivious bosses, but by night, y’all better believe that dey be some of the baddest motherf*ckers dis side of East Hastings. So which one of these two G-Units has da walk to back up da talk?

As usual, we has devised 5 devastatingly difficult tests to find out. Respek!

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Fiat 500 vs. Honda CR-Z: Imagining Replacements for our Protege5

Let’s put our special hats on – y’know, the ones with the ostrich feathers and Swarovksi sparkles all dipped in yellow gold – and play “what if”.

Car enthusiasts play this game with alarming frequency, but rarely in public. The internal machinations usually happen in the wee hours of a weekend evening, on eBay and Kijiji and after a half-glass of scotch, as we rationalize, justify, and otherwise attempt to coerce ourselves and our significant others into successively wilder purchases. But cower in darkness no more! For it’s high time that we openly share our most bizarre (and reasonable) replacements for our current transports! Ok, as you’ve probably gleaned from the title, our imaginations haven’t led us too far astray, but that’s because these are cars we’d actually buy, not just ones we’d plunk down for if we accidentally inherited the Daryl Katz fortune. And it’s not like we’re in brow-furrowing contemplation between the Corolla and the Matrix here, the 500 and CR-Z are genuinely appealing cars, at least for hatchback-loving urbanites like us.

Regardless of budget (and in fantasyland, the budgets can get pretty wacky), we all have priorities that lean us one way or another, as well as allegiances to certain brands that inadvertently blind us to huge swathes of the marketplace. Personally, we’re proponents of buying used cars so that the most aggressive years of depreciation are allowed to pass harmlessly by. That new car smell? Doesn’t smell as good as saved money smell. Since we’re looking at the used market, it’s also worth mentioning that we’re staunch advocates of mechanical and electrical reliability. No one likes unnecessary trips to the stealer dealer less than we do, so we avoid it at all costs. As such, we personally like to steer away from German cars (an air-cooled 911 is the only car with any chance of breaking that rule of thumb), most American cars, and steer towards Japanese cars. Granted, the newer domestics, particularly Fords, have come a long way in terms of quality and reliability, but none of their current offering quite have the sparkle we’d put in our garage for good. Maybe the Focus ST will change that. The Germans, on the other hand, have almost no hope of changing our perceptions at this point. There is literally nothing scarier than a 5-year-old BMW without warranty.

Since there’s not much out there in the desirable 4-5 year old bracket (unless you’ve got one?) that meets our exacting criteria for fun, reliability, fuel economy, and attractive design, we’re going to have to make do with looking a few years down the road to replace our aging Mazda Protege5. So let’s take a look at what’s on sale today that we’ll want to pick up a good deal on in a couple years.

This series of hurdles pretty much leaves us with the Fiat 500, the adorable Mexican-built city car with character in picche (that’s “spades” in Italian), and the Honda CR-Z, the sportiest hybrid around. Both of these choices are perfectly sized for urban use, fun(ish) to drive, sip fuel like a Starbucks latte, and should prove more reliable than average. But which one should we choose?

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Double Controversy: Guggenheim Bilbao and MINI Countryman

by Peter Dushenski

Controversy equalizes fools and wise men – and the fools know it. -Oliver Wendell Holmes

Take US Politics, the closest thing America has to a Mexican telenovela, where one person’s ignorance is just as valuable as another person’s knowledge. Both parties, both heads of the same lobby-fueled dragon, revel in the afterglow of a suitably stirring controversy – anything to undermine their opponents rather than fight for the electorate on their own merit.

Sidenote: If you’re interested in listening to some rather unapologetic debate, try The Brothers Dushenski podcast featuring your humble author. It’s a weekly look at this crazy world we live in, including technology, world affairs, global politics, sports, and other things of interest.

The scene above, taken last month in Bilbao, Spain outside the Teatro Arriaga, was a similar hub of dispute. Hundreds, if not thousands, gathered to voice their discontent at the EU, international banks, and the country’s political parties. These micro-revolutions have been sprouting up all over Spain, and are spreading to other parts of Europe as well, most notably in Greece. They are as controversial for their initial presence as they are for their staying power and civility, even in the face of brutality. The problem was that they didn’t have anything resembling a unified message. Instead of banding together in something resembling a civilized organization, the whole discontented movement floundered in its own self-pity. It was controversy, but whether they were fools or wise men still isn’t clear, though the dust has settled.

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Mini In A Winter Wonderland

Designed by Sir Alec Issigonis and first produced 51 years ago, the Mini was a revolutionary front-engined front-driver that maximized occupant capacity like no car before it.

Throw some maple syrup on there and you’ve got yourself a Cabane à Sucre.

[96dpi/flikr via tumblr]

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BMW: Is That You, Zero?

bmw-0-series-

Rumous have been circulating of a subcompact front wheel drive hot hatch with the BMW name plate called the 0-series. While the Mini brand has done well for BMW spawning a convertible, the Clubman, the ‘Coupe’, and soon to be SUV, it’s still not good enough for some people in that it doesn’t have the BMW badge. Some people just want a BMW in the driveway to show off to the neighbours, don’t you know.

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FWD BMW 0-series in the works?

mini_cooper1Ever wish your MINI was a BMW?  I’m not sure how many peoples’ minds this thought actually crosses, but apparently enough that BMW is reportedly considering a model slotted beneath the 1-series.

Touted as the “0-series”, it will be based on the MINI platform, which naturally means that it will be front-wheel drive. Yes, you read that right. A BMW that will be front wheel drive.

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MINI Coupe Concept Revealed: Steals Citroen DS3′s Roof

P90047079Fifty years ago today, the original MINI made its public debut to the world. To celebrate this milestone, MINI has just revealed their MINI Coupe Concept. Based on the same R56 platform as the regular MINI, the Coupe still differs in several important ways.

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