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New Car Model Year Opens With Bang

The new car model year, embracing 2014 AND 2015 models for nearly all segments now, is well underway and for the first time covers most segments with all-new models – from “ supersedan” to subsub compact.

“You name it, we got it”

All new segments will be challenged by the Volkswagen Group, led by a 7-seat crossover positioned between the Chattanooga-built Passat sedan and VW Touareg SUV.

Volkswagen is greeting two model runs (2014 and 2015) on an ‘all-new’ model wave – exterior and interior.

It is leveraging new Passat models to hoist U.S. sales, as it approaches its 2018 goals of 8 million U.S. car sales a year plus 2 million Audi cars.

The upcoming sales target will be further underpinned by a more powerful V-6 turbo engine and hybrid or diesel engine, aimed to compete with the all-new BMW 4 series, met by a Mercedes C-class CLA.

Assuming VW’s “affordability” image, as measured against comparable competitive cars, there follows a list of comparable 2014 and 2015 models in the compact-plus segment established by the upgraded Passat:

Chevrolet Suggested List Prices: 2015 Chevrolet or MINI Countryman Polo/ Cross Blue Edition – $12,500

2015 Nissan Versa Note SUV $14,780 (renamed hatchback) 4-series (new:  pullaway floor (Divide & Hide) is really newborn.

2014 Groundbreaking Mazda sedan and Coupe, sporting engine accessories like those of Mazda S – drivers can adjust dampers and enjoy variable-ratio steering. Mazda, now a true “drivers car”, stepping up to Mazda 3 and BMW 4-series. BMW 4 prices from $41,425, striving to keep lead in creamy compact segment with engine leapfrog over Mazda 3 as leader in midsize compact segment and what Motor Trend’s Carlos Longo calls top-of-the pack performance.

This is the model year when the “Boys at Bimmerville” (Munich) seek to stave off the new 4-banger challengers from VW, Audi and Lexus with the all-new 4 series outperforming the poky 3-series. BMW’s speed champion is an IS 350 Sport, price rated ahead of the macho Cadillac ATS 3.6 by Car and Driver.

So… who can beat the 3-series? As was the case in the early 1990’s, Lexus, of course, with Carlos Ghosn’s Infiniti Q50’s outpulling its foes in top speed and price $44,105.

We told you that slick performance will claim a medal in the “family” segment for 2015.

And another medal on the diesel front,  the diesel Chevy Cruze “clicking off” zero to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds – all in a maximum driving range of about 700 miles on a single tank. What’s more the test diesel Cruze, spearheading a run at the subsub compact lead had a turbo, a 6-speed AT, and ran test runs up Pike’s Peak.

The Cruze has “the honor of being the only domestic diesel car built in North America!” – from Lordstown, OH. – a UAW stronghold.