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Trans-Canada Highway

Reporting on the automotive industry, including recalls and other news, motorsports and blog posts

Listed: Six cars that replace the Toyota Matrix

JEREMY CATO

Last year the Toyota Matrix was the 10th best-selling model in Canada’s most important segment, compact cars – 10,689 sold. That was good, but at its peak back in 2005, the Matrix was the runabout darling of 24,048 Canadians.

We can all understand the Matrix decline. While the Matrix has always been exceptionally reliable, over the past few years, the competition has passed it in space, comfort, power and refinement. Toyota let the design and its execution grow old and stale for more many reasons, of course, but perhaps the biggest one was this: Americans don’t really like small hatchbacks and don’t buy them in great numbers.

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Today's small cars have nothing in common with the Geo Metro

JEREMY CATO

Almost 20 years ago, in late 1996, I tested an $11,495 Geo Metro powered by a very sorry engine. Its three-cylinders churned up a wheezy 55 horsepower and 58 pounds-feet of torque. Usain Bolt does the 100 faster than that three-door hatchback ever could.

Its handling was clumsy and it was ugly. I remember a friend pointing at the Metro and laughing. Embarrassing, he said. “Put a bag over your head. You don’t want to be seen in that.”

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Manchester United’s Chevy-sponsored uniform unveiled

DARREN McGEE

The World Cup has kicked soccer fever into overdrive and Chevrolet has jumped on the wave, finally unveiling the kit that Manchester United players will wear as part of the auto maker’s $560-million (U.S.), seven-year sponsorship deal with the iconic sports franchise.

Chevy replaces Aon as jersey sponsor. The shirts will be game worn for the first time on July 23 when Man U plays an exhibition game against the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Chevrolet is also sponsoring the Red Devils’ Aug. 2 friendly versus Real Madrid at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. And, of course, Chevy’s trademark bowtie will be front and centre when Man U opens its English Premier League season against Swansea City on Aug. 16 at Old Trafford.

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Toyota and Nissan tops in fleet value awards

Globe staff

Nissan and Toyota emerged as the big winners in the best fleet value in Canada awards, as judged by Vincentric.

A Michigan-based consulting company, Vincentic said its third annual awards were based on analysis of more than 1,900 vehicle configurations in 24 life-cycle cost scenarios, using data from the 10 provinces. The measurements included depreciation, fees and taxes, financing, fuel, insurance, maintenance, opportunity cost, and repairs.

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Internet award hails Mercedes-Benz S-Class as Europe’s best car

DARREN McGEE

Just when you thought the car kudos season was over and done with until at least late autumn, along comes the Internet Auto Award.

And winner is ... the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Yes, Merc’s stunning coupe was named best car in Europe by 191,363 online voters from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland.

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Acura prices its new TLX sedan at $34,990

DARREN McGEE

Acura, Honda’s premium brand, says the base price of its 2015 TLX sedan will be $34,990 when it goes on sale in August.

For that price, the vehicle features a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine making 206 horsepower mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Further up the TLX spectrum, a 3.5-litre V-6 with 290 horses mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission and with all-wheel drive, lists for $39,990. Adding in a technology package boosts the cost to $43,890 and an elite package tops it out at $47,490.

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Detroit man reunited with stolen Corvette – 33 years later

DARREN McGEE

The last time George Talley saw his 1979 Chevy Corvette, it was parked on Detroit’s Jefferson Avenue.

That was 1981. Three weeks ago, Talley, got a telephone call from motor club AAA to tell him that his prized silver belle had been found – in Hattiesburg, Miss. And on July 1, outside General Motors’ headquarters in Detroit, he slid into the driver’s seat and started it up for the first time in 33 years.

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Mom or dad: who would you rather go on the road with?

DARREN McGEE

Summer’s here and it’s time to hit the open road. But who would you rather take a road trip with – mom or dad?

The answer, according to a new survey, is mom. Dad may be a better driver, say 63 per cent of respondents, but mom is the preferred choice of 54 per cent.

And why is mom No. 1? Survey respondents said mom keeps the car neater (64 per cent), chooses better music (60 per cent) and, at rest breaks, would rather sit down to eat (63 per cent).

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eBay refuses to auction Nazi car

DARREN McGEE

Online auction site eBay has refused a Florida car restoration company’s bid to sell a 1941 Mercedes Benz 540K Cabriolet that was custom-built for Hitler henchman Hermann Goering.

“eBay has policies that prohibit the sale of offensive materials and content, including Nazi-related items,” eBay spokesman Ryan Moore told the Sun-Sentinal in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

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Ford named the 'greenest' company on the planet

JEREMY CATO

What a difference a decade makes.

Ford Motor Co., not so long ago the target of angry and disappointed environmentalists, is now the “greenest” company on the planet, according to Interbrand’s annual list of the 50 Best Global Green Brands.

No one dreamed of such a development back in 2004, when the environmental movement collectively rose up to decry the failures of its great automotive hope, Sierra Club member Bill Ford Jr., then chairman and CEO of Ford Motor Co.

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First drive: Alfa Romeo 4C teases and pleases

DARREN McGEE

It was short date. Too short. But, oh boy, it sure was sweet.

I took the new 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C for a quick spin – for one minute and 29 seconds over 1.127 kilometres, to be exact – around the twisting, turning autocross track at Chrysler’s Chelsea proving grounds this morning.

This pretty little package sits low, its spectacularly sexy lines gleaming in the bright sunshine – and stepping down into the sleek, black spartan cockpit, it was a tight fit. There’s plenty of legroom but it isn’t exactly ideal for uh, wide bodies.

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Nissan brings Gran Turismo video game car to life

DANIELLE BOUDREAU

Originally a “dream project” for young designers at Nissan, and then a virtual model for the PlayStation video game Gran Turismo 6, the 2020 Vision Gran Turismo supercar has now come to life.

Designers from Nissan Design Europe have turned the “perfect supercar” into a real concept car with engineering help from the company’s team in Japan, said the company in a press release.

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Ford launches all-new global Edge crossover

DARREN McGEE

Ford unveiled an all-new 2015 Edge crossover sport utility vehicle on Thursday as part of its plan to expand its global footprint – especially in Western Europe and China.

The new Edge, launched with simultaneous showings here and in Europe, has been overhauled inside and out and is based on the auto maker’s global mid-size vehicle platform, the same platform used by the Ford Fusion sedan.

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Calling all crimefighters: Green Hornet’s Black Beauty up for auction

DARREN McGEE

Black Beauty, the car actor Seth Rogen used to fight crime in the 2011 superhero action flick The Green Hornet, is up for auction.

Massachusetts-based RR Auction put the 1965 Chrysler Imperial – outfitted with machine guns and missiles – on the block Thursday and, as of Friday morning, had attracted three online offers, the top one for $12,100. The auction closes June 26.

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Canadians are demanding when it comes to small cars

JEREMY CATO

Canadians are a tough sell when it comes to small cars – price-sensitive, style-conscious, brand-loyal, demanding of features and unforgiving of mistakes.

And so it is, after a promising start in 2013, Chevrolet’s Sonic subcompact and Spark mini-car have stalled. Sonic sales for the first third of 2014 are down 11.2 per cent, while the Spark is off 18.9 per cent. General Motors’ imports from Korea did well in 2013 – Sonic sales were up 4.9 per cent, with sales of the new-for-2013 Spark up 528 per cent, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.

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Canadian drivers’ No. 1 pet peeve: cellphone use at the wheel

DARREN McGEE

I drive a lot. Between commuting to work from the boonies and ferrying two sons to football, soccer and music practice, it seems that I am forever in my car.

Accordingly, there are habits of other drivers that get under my skin. No. 1 among these is the rude dude who fails to wave appreciatively after I graciously get him out of a jam by yielding to allow him to cut in ahead of me.

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Battle of the sexes: who is better at car care?

DARREN McGEE

A new survey says women are generally less proficient than men when it comes to basic car care such as changing a flat tire or checking the vehicle’s oil level.

Insurance.com, a car insurance comparison website, surveyed 2,000 married American men and women with children in April and found that 88 per cent of men have changed a tire compared to only 47 per cent of women. One-third of women say they don’t know how to do it, nor do 6 per cent of men.

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Chrysler announces Alfa Romeo pricing

DARREN McGEE

Twelve days after trumpeting the Alfa Romeo’s return to Canada with an unveiling at the Montreal Grand Prix, Chrysler Canada has announced pricing for the exotic sports car.

The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C coupe – featuring a 237-horsepower, 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine and a dynamic twin-clutch transmission – will retail for $61,995. Additionally, a special limited version of the car – the Alfa Romeo 4C Launch Edition, of which only 500 will be made – will sell for $75,995. The Launch Edition will be in showrooms this summer while the regular 4C arrives in the fall.

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Deadmau5 puts kitty-branded Ferrari up for sale

JOSH McCONNELL

Canadian house-music producer and performer Deadmau5 put his kitty-branded 2013 Ferrari 458 Spider (F1 edition) on Craiglist Monday (listing with photos here while it lasts) for $380,000.

According to the listing, any amount received above the asking price will be donated to the Toronto Humane Society. The car also includes an iPod “full of nyancat songs” and an invitation to film a final Coffee Run YouTube segment in the vehicle if the buyer is in Toronto. Deadmau5 has previously featured celebrities such as Pharrell and Russell Peters.

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Dutch superfan drives 21,000 km to watch World Cup

DARREN McGEE

Soccer fans are legendary for how far they will go to support their team during the World Cup – but one hardcore Dutch supporter has taken it to a whole new level.

Ben Oude Kamphuis, 52, drove his 1955 Chevrolet 235 pickup truck – nicknamed “Nellie” – 21,000 kilometres from San Francisco to Salvador, Brazil, just to see Netherlands play Spain on Friday, according to Sports Illustrated.

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Jeremy Cato

In 25 years of covering the auto industry, Jeremy Cato has won more than two-dozen awards, including three times being named automotive journalist of the year.

Follow Jeremy on Twitter @catocarguy

Darren McGee

Darren McGee is an editor and writer for Globe Drive.

Follow Darren on Twitter @WoodyMcGee