Head of the European office
The automatic channel
It seems like a century ago that I tested Chevrolet’s excellent Blazer. Stylists tried their hand in Detroit, therefore, the Blazer looks really clean and fresh. When colleagues describe a 2-liter engine as sufficient, they are politically correct.
The word sucks. With 5 people and ski gear the driver would spend hours in the inside lane behind these huge trucks and overtaking would be very unlikely.
Enter the V6 in sportier RS form and suddenly it becomes an entirely different kettle of fish.
Ride is good, finish is good. The only issue these days is fuel mileage at 19 miles per gallon. With prices hovering around $6 a gallon, filling up could be an expensive proposition.
The same of course applies to all gasoline powered cars and trucks. A recent and quite horrific event has occurred in the Bay Area and I dare say elsewhere as well. Activists decided that SUVs were killing the planet, so to make their point they dropped the tires and stabbed them with a knife. Imagine if they had an accident but the doctor couldn’t reach them because his SUV‘s tires were flat. Mindless is the only polite word that comes to mind. Luckily, that didn’t happen to “my” Blazer.
I found the $44,000 very competitively priced, although cheaper versions are available just above $30,000. Unlike most German cars where you need an engineering degree, the controls are easy to find and use. Well done GM. 70 thousand sold in 2021 is a pretty decent number!
What’s really interesting is that GM has decided to take on Tesla with its new Blazer EV. The most powerful version will have 550 horsepower and be good for around 320 miles. I only have one issue with the Blazer and it’s probably related to my age. The most powerful will be known as the Blazer SS which I find very offensive. I know the Tik-Tok generation probably wouldn’t know there was a WWII, let alone a WW1, but for those who lost loved ones in the Battle of the Bulge, leading all the others atrocities aside, I find that really, really offensive.
I took the KIA Stinger to the very successful Automotive Journalists of the West test day in Half Moon Bay. A very successful and well organized event next to an English pub which came in handy after the drive. The Stinger never really took off – unlike the rest of the KIA lineup and to make way for brighter EVs the Stinger will be discontinued in December 2022. Perfectly nice but I found it a bit but overpriced at £53 thousand dollars. Chances are there will be some massive bargains as it goes out of production, so if you’re in the market for the 3.3-liter V6 turbo, I’d suggest waiting until November. 53 could be 40 by then. And in fairness to the Stinger, it’s not a car that will appreciate over the years. It sits low, much like a sports car, and is therefore quite difficult to get in and out of. If you’re a KIA junkie, grab the exceptional Telluride or one of their brilliant EV6s.
Having spent part of the summer in Europe, I was lucky enough to rent a Peugeot. Failed in the United States several times, it is still going strong there. I have ridden over a thousand miles and it has never missed a beat.
Even more interesting was driving Ferrari’s new 296.
The plot is simple…on the first of June I arrive at the gates for about 25 years. Joanne Marshall, the company’s very popular PR, arrives and gives me the keys. See you at 6 o’clock, she said, and that’s the end of the formalities.
Getting in and not crashing into the huge gates is still a challenge, but so far so good. Luckily I had a travel buddy and we headed into the mountains. The road to Abetone is quite exciting, with lots of twists and turns, but reaching the main square is still fun. There’s a cute and seriously antique restaurant at the top that’s mostly frequented by hikers.
What about the car I hear. Well, for me the most exciting thing was the new hybrid engine. This means that for the first 20 kilometers or so you travel in complete silence listening to the birds instead of chasing them. Some people think it’s heresy, others like me embrace the idea. Once you put the pedal to the metal, the 296 is an entirely different proposition.
The company has just launched a convertible version, definitely the one for you, you’re looking at around 300,000 and of course there’s a waiting list. Also, if this is your first Ferrari, you’re in trouble. Yes, you can buy a Ferrari tomorrow morning but it will have to be used. To buy new ones from dealers, you have to climb a ladder. I won’t bore you with the details, basically if you’re looking for the latest 2 million special you need to show a history of all previous purchases dating back to California or even earlier. Expensive Ferraris are seen as an alternative to buying an array or cases of expensive French Burgundies.
As I am just a humble journalist, I can only point out that in an economy that is falling like a rock, you may have to sell your crown jewel for much less than you paid.