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The bottom-end received a grip of reinforcement to serve his power demands, not necessarily for reinforcement but for longevity with newer metals and fresh components. The guys at R Performance installed forged Tomei pistons and connecting rods in preparation for the ogre-esque T04R turbo. An HKS standalone computer controls the engine assembly working in conjunction with its various sensors. A five-speed R154 transmission, a direct cousin of the robust six-speed Supra V160 Getrag, was reused but upgraded with a twin-plate Ogura Racing Clutch. The rejuvenated powertrain gave the Soarer reliable and quick-spooling power with a peak of 550whp, plenty of cojones for Nakamura-san’s weekend drift events.
Specialist insurers offer stand-alone cover that will pay for damage to hire cars up to the limit of the excess. And they are cheap. On the five-day Tenerife trip mentioned above, for example, it is possible to buy stand-alone cover for less than £10. Websites such as Moneymaxim.co.uk allow you to enter your hire dates and locations, and then generate a range of quotes both for car hire and, separately, standalone insurance policies. Worldwideinsure.com would cover an economy hire car for £10.50; Carhireexcess.com for £9.95 and icarhireinsurance.com for £14.95. There is a choice of about eight providers all charging less than £20 for the period in question.
For the 2010 model year, the Avenger returned with just two powertrain options. The 173-hp four is among the least pleasing four-cylinders in the Avenger’s class, which includes the Ford Fusion and Volkswagen Jetta and the Hyundai Sonata. The smaller V-6 engine has been dropped, leaving the front-drive Avenger with its top engine choice as the 235-hp V-6. With this engine, a sport-shift six-speed automatic is the only transmission offered–and it’s got issues, with a hesitation in downshifts. Fuel economy ranges from 21 mpg city, 30 highway, with the four-cylinder to 16/27 mpg with the V-6. Handling on the R/T edition is suitably tight, but other features suffer from a bouncy ride and plenty of road and powertrain noise.
The second-generation Toyota Matrix was introduced for 2009 and ran essentially unchanged through 2013. It offered a new exterior design, more standard safety features, and more power than its predecessor. The base model continued with a 1.8–liter engine producting 132 horsepower, while new S and XRS variants featured a 158-hp, 2.4-liter engine. The most fuel-efficient model was the 1.8-liter model equipped with the standard five-speed manual, though an aging four-speed automatic was also available. The manual version returned an EPA-rated 26 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.
The Dart launch was a unmitigating disaster. Launched with manual transmissions (which only 6% of cars are sold with) and feeble engine selections. Had a dizzying array of models/options/colors/packages. Marketed with a “performance” image that it couldn’t deliver on in a market segment that buys bland. Was pricey when optioned up. To Chrysler’s credit, they moved quickly to make the Dart more appealing. They added the 2.4 L engine to almost all trim lines. Cut the models and simplified the packaging so that they are now really good values. For instance the Dart GT ($20,995) and the Dart Limited ($22,995) are REALLY well equipped for those prices. The Dart is going to be revised for the 2016 model year, when they will restyle it, add the 9-speed auto and introduce the SRT version. In the meantime, I expect to see Dart sales steadily improve, now that the super discounted Avenger and old 200 are out of the picture. I think a lot of shoppers coming in to look at the new 200, might suffer sticker shock and decide the Dart is a good value. Wish they’d bring the hatchback version here though.