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CAR- Nucopia!
Vehicles We’re Grateful For This Holiday Season! 

By Corey Conley

Here in Nashville, the temperature has finally dipped below “blast furnace” and gourds galore are finding their way into both home decor and overpriced coffee drinks. “Round these parts, that means Thanksgiving is nigh. In the spirit of Thanksgiving’s more honorable traditions, we chose a few car-related items we’re grateful for this holiday season.

Mazda Koeru Concept
Mazda Koeru Concept

Mazda revealed their Koeru Concept at this year’s Frankfurt Auto Show, and the beautiful concept clearly portends a possible replacement for their mid-sized CX-7 suv, now discontinued. If so, Mazda appears poised for another class-leading debut, building upon the critical success of their other recent redesigns. Except for the comically large wheels, expect the final product - whatever the name - to hew closely to the sweeping lines of this gorgeous crossover concept.

Demise of the Scion xB
Demise of the Scion xB

I know schadenfreude isn’t the kindest of responses, but I couldn’t help but nod my head in approval at the news Scion will soon be axing their bloated manatee hatchback, the Scion xB.

While a competent entry when it was first introduced, it was a far cry from the quirky, lightweight first generation xB - an import designed originally for Japan but which put Scion on the map and starting the boxy hatch trend. Scion replaced the spunky xB with a model 500 pounds heavier, larger in every dimension, and tepidly styled. It was promptly lost among a sea of crossover suv competitors.  We hope the xB’s bow will free up resources for Scion and parent company Toyota to spice up Scion’s current lineup.

Tesla Model X
Tesla Model X

Can lightning strike twice? That’s the question surely running through the heads of Tesla’s top brass as they start delivery on the Tesla Model X. The X has a big act to follow in the Model S, which showed electric cars could not only compete, but exceed, their gas swilling competitors.

Lucky for them, the Tesla’s excellent engineering supplies much of the underpinnings for the Model X. The most notable difference is the “falcon wing” doors which rise from the sides to provide a clear aperture in even the tightest parking lots - a suite of expensive sensors keep the doors from dinging the ceiling or passersby. The crossover form is stylish, although it’s unlikely to stand out among other premium SUVs. Like the S, the X will be one of the quickest cars in its class, with the kind of acceleration usually reserved for cars with Italian names. The X debuts only in higher performance trims, some exceeding $140,000 in price, but as the roll-out continues lower level models will appear at a $5,000 premium over a comparably equipped Model S. Expect a bevy of cutting edge technology unavailable elsewhere at any price point.

A West Virginia University lab that uncovered Volkwagen’s emission scandal

It could be the basis for a Tom Hanks movie: a small lab in West Virginia tests emissions of the world’s number one automaker and brings that company to its knees with its discovery that these emissions exceed legal limits by astronomical amounts. That’s the outline of the firestorm started when the International Council on Clean Transportation commissioned a professor at Western Virginia University to independently test the claims of Volkswagen’s clean diesel technology. Government agencies noticed and took up the investigation from there. Now VW is embroiled in a scandal of global proportions, and faces a complex web of investigations, litigation, and public scorn. For its part, Volkswagen seems eager to make things right - something else to be thankful for.

Porsche 911 R
Porsche 911 R

With cars, unlike other technology, newer is not necessarily better. As cars become more fuel efficient and comfortable, the visceral thrills of driving enjoyment are often shunted aside. This inexorable march forward is occasionally punctuated by cars such as Porsche’s rumored 911 R - a version of Porsche’s hallowed sports car trimmed to performance essentials such as a non-turbocharged engine and a manual transmission. Leaks also suggest the R will forego the wide tires and spoiler that mark other top-shelf 911s, producing a car both slower and more primitive, but more fun to drive. / Issue 175 - September 2018
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