Archive for October 2016

Mazda ‘s Celebration of the Millionth MX-5 in Canada

I was glad and lucky enough to be among about 250 Canadian auto fans, who could attend this special event and sign on the hood of the millionth Mazda MX-5 during its world tour.

Our signatures (hopefully) live well into the distant future and will be part of the Mazda history.
At the same time, as the proud owner of a Mazda 3 (not fortunate enough to own an Mx-5, at least for know) I share with you the article published by below:

For 27 years, the Mazda MX-5, otherwise known as the Miata, has changed the way we think of cars, and garnered a cult following in the process.

It all started with a sketch from Bob Hall, then General Manager of Product Planning and Tom Matano, the former Vice President of Design who put together a design for Mazda of a small, low-to-the-ground, lightweight sports car. The two-seat roadster was simply about driving fun—a concept that preached “less is more.”

The MX-5 would grow to be more than just a cult following, but a global sensation as the best-selling two-seat, rear-drive roadster. It’s now into its fourth generation with a lighter package and bold looks, yet more in line with some of the basic philosophies found in the original Miata, code-name NA.

Millionth MX-5 Miata Celebration Tour
Back in April 2016, Mazda produced the one-millionth MX-5 and to celebrate that achievement, they created a global tour for that special car. The tour began on April 22, 2016 on home soil in Japan, with multiple stops made in Europe and the United States, before heading to Canada for its only stop at Mazda Canada headquarters in Richmond Hill, Ontario.

The tour provided a chance for owners and fans to come together and celebrate the joys of the MX-5 and their personal stories along the way. The parking lot was full of old and new MX-5s—almost as if it was its own museum exhibit. It was fascinating to see the differences between the tricked-out custom MX-5s and the pure classic NAs and NBs which hadn’t been toyed with. On a rainy day, some MX-5 owners couldn’t resist keeping their tops down and enjoying the breeze come across their face.


In total, close to 250 people joined the celebration with 10 of the 18 Canadian MX-5 clubs present, thanks to some travel assistance from Mazda Canada. On hand were giveaway t-shirts, hats, customized miniature license plates and cake, but the one thing everyone had their sights on was the right-hand drive, millionth-edition MX-5 with a soft top.

As an added bonus, they all had the chance to put their mark on the millionth edition with a signature in one of the over 13,500 dedicated spots that surround the exterior of the roadster. It was a special moment, especially for MX-5 owners who truly feel a part of the roadster’s success, and now thanks to Mazda, they can literally be a part of history.

The hidden secret underneath
Signing the MX-5 on its own felt surreal, but then we were tipped off about some secret signatures that were hidden underneath the hood. A hush came over the crowd as the hood was lifted to unveil an abundance of signatures from designers, engineers and everyone who has worked on the MX-5 since its humble beginnings in 1989. To the “oohs” and “aahs” that were heard in the building, it felt as if we uncovered a hidden chest of gold. And that’s exactly what it was to these loyal customers; a special scene indeed.

After the one-day stop in Toronto, the Millionth MX-5 will be on display at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show in November, followed by stops in Australia and New Zealand before eventually resting in the Mazda Museum in Hiroshima.”

The original of this article can be found at:
Pictures: Varol McKars

Ford Fusion Hybrid vs. Energi

2017 Ford Fusion 2.0L Hybrid


2017 Ford Fusion Energi Platinum


We had two back-to-back test drives with two “green” version of Ford Fusion: The 2.0 liter gas-electric hybrid and plug-in hybrid.

Fusion, Ford’s midsize sedan is a sucess story in a hugely competitive market dominated by Japanese like Camry, Accord and Altima. It was the best-selling car in its class in Canada in four of the past six years, and a close second in the other two. Reliability data with the much-respected Consumer Reports is also good.

For 2017 model year, Ford Fusion comes with some updates. The optical changes are not immediately recognizable. On the exterior, The “Aston Martinish” front grill is now wider giving a lower look. The taillights are now dressed up with a chrome line. New front led-lights are standard in Platinum model we tested. In the interior,  the most important change is a new rotary shift dial that saves some space in the centre console newly configured and bigger cup holders. The new design also enables a deep slot for phone storage.

The new infotainment system, Synch 3 has an 8-inch  screen and vastly superior to the old model.



2017 Ford Fusion Energi Platinum


The 2.0L iCVT, Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder hybrid-electric engine delivers a net 188 horsepower Gas -engine torque is 129 lb-ft.  The total power includes the 88kW electric motor. It is mated to an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (eCVT). Ford reports impressive average consumption values of 5.5/5.7 liter (highway/city). The average consumption I reached was 6 liters and was surprisingly close to the theoretical values.

I also tested the maximum eV only speed of 135 km/h and came very close to it.

The green leaf-plant graphic in the instrument cluster screen may make you a bit obsessive to save fuel. The switch between gasoline and electric power is seamless. The regenerative braking charges the battery. A softer touch on the brake pedal improves your performance and at the end of your trip, you may read a congratulations message in your dashboard. The switch between gasoline and electric motor is seamless, and the operation is very quiet.

The placement of the battery remains as a disappointment. It reduces the trunk space from 453 to 340 liters and reveals the fact that the current Fusion is not designed with a hybrid or plug in version in mind. If you change to Energi (plug-in hybrid), you have to live with a further reduction to 232 liters.

Ford should be planning this for the next and entirely new generation of Fusion approximately three years from now.


Slightly more expensive than the Hybrid, the Energi (with the same engine combination), offers and EV only range of 34 km. Depending on the location and range of your daily commute, you can enjoy the electric-only mode without visiting the gas station for a long time.  Our average consumption with the Energi was 4.7 liter, thus remarkably better than the Hybrid.

2017 Ford Fusion Energi Platinum

2017 Ford Fusion Energi Platinum


Our first test vehicle, Fusion Hybrid Titanium, with the second highest trim level. The base price is $34,988. With options totalling to $7,500 and the destination charge of $1,650, the MSRP for the test vehicle reaches $44,138

The second vehicle of the series, Fusion Energi Platinum, in the top trim level. The base price is $45,0988. With significantly less options (since this was already the Platinum version) totalling to only $850 and the destination charge of $1,650, the MSRP for the test vehicle reaches $47,588


Ford is working hard on the electric front by offering all types of powertrains (pure-electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid) and gathering millions of kilometers of customer experience. These powerplant options spread across several models and you can expect that those combinations will get a better share of the market as we distance from purely fossil-fuel driven cars.

Article: Varol McKars 

Pictures: Varol McKars, Burak McKars

Test vehicle was provided by Ford Canada via BHG Media

For the most up-to-date and more detailed information, visit:

All rights reserved. This article cannot be copied entirely or partially without the prior written consent of the author. Links to the website ( are allowed.

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2017 Ford Mustang Convertible Eco



Driving Impressions

It was a memorable experience to drive a convertible Mustang in the Halton Region of Ontario. The weather was exceptionally beautiful, sunny and around 20 degrees. The crystal clear, blue sky was accompanying the fall foliage. And the blue Mustang fit well to this colour combination.

Unlike the discontinued Thunderbird, the Mustang, with its stylish retro-design keeps alive the memories of 1960’s and remains in Ford’s product portfolio. However, the outlook is not rosy.

In the US, Mustang sales declined 32 per cent and by the time of our test drive, Ford decided to halt the production in its Flatrock, MI factory for one week.

2017 Ford Mustang Eco

In its second (retro) generation, Mustang is more enjoyable to drive, thanks in part to its independent rear suspension. I felt the difference with a 2012 Mustang Convertible, I tested four years ago.

My test vehicle had the optional 310-hp, 2.3-liter turbo four-cylinder engine. With its six-speed manual transmission, I revisited the joy of a bygone era. (We do not have stick in our family cars since 2005).


2017 Ford Mustang Eco








I was lucky enough to drive the car topless most of the time thanks to the beautiful fall weather in Ontario. It is easy to open and close the soft top. Not everybody will like the manual latch to secure the top. It was probably necessary to keep the manufacturing costs under control.

The wind noise up to the speeds of 90 km/h is tolerable. I would prefer to drive it more in the countryside than on the highway. Navigating Toronto streets at summer nights would also be fun.

The Mustang drives well. With its balanced handling and the firm ride, it is a sports car you can drive everyday. For me, personally it is not an ideal choice. Getting in and out maybe a bit difficult with its low seating position and long doors, particularly in tight parking spots.

The dashboard houses the Sync 3 infotainment system which replaced the older and more problematic MyFord Touch.

As with most convertibles, the rear seats are for kids and no more.

I recorded an average consumption of 12 liters in a mixed driving mode.


If you are a baby boomer and had some sweet memories with the original Mustang, this is a perfect opportunity to revisit your youth. (Unless you already have a classic Mustang in your garage)

Dan Gunay, from AutoAndRoad team also drove the car and here are his comments:

“The Mustang drives well, however, I did not like much the brake and clutch.

Brake pedal feeling could be smoother and the clutch gives you a synthetic feel.

The consumption is a bit too high, due to the weight of the car. It is understandable. This Mustang is 200 kg heavier than the previous model. You must drive very smoothly to reach single-digit consumption values. The turbo lag in low revolutions is almost non-existent. And if you rev up to north of 5500, the torque goes down remarkably. Clues that the Mustang has a relatively small turbo. It is fun to rev the engine in middle ranges.”

2017 Ford Mustang Eco

The Specifications

Type of vehicle Sports car convertible
Power 2.3, 4-cylinder Ecoboost engine, 310 hp with 320 lb-ft of torque
Transmission Six-speed manual
Brakes Four-wheel disc with ABS
Price: base/as tested $40,448 / $50,448
Destination charge $1,650
Natural Resources Canada fuel economy (L/100 km)  city, highway
Standard features AdvanceTrac with electronic stability control, tire pressure monitoring, ABS (anti-lock brakes), hill start assist, power mirrors with integrated blind spot mirrors,
Options Adaptive speed control: $1600, Ecoboost Performance Package: $3,000, Premier Trim Package: $500, Navigation Sytem: $800

Article: Varol McKars with Dan Gunay

Pictures: Varol McKars, Burak McKars

Test vehicle was provided by Ford Canada via BHG Media

For the most up-to-date and more detailed information, visit:

All rights reserved. This article cannot be copied entirely or partially without the prior written consent of the author. Links to the website ( are allowed.

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LINCOLN MKZ With Two Engine Options


2017 Lincoln MKZ


Ford had a very successful transformation under the leadership of Allan Mulally which started late 2006, well before the global financial crisis. The product portfolio was completely renewed and became much more competitive in price and quality.

However, even in this transformative period Lincoln, Ford’s luxury brand, did not get the attention it deserved. It was only until very recently that FoMoCo takes the luxury business more seriously.

Do you remember Ford’s Premier Automotive Group (PAG) formed by then-CEO Jacques Nasser in 1999?

The aim of PAG was to gather under one roof and manage all premium brands Ford owned or acquired in these years. In 2004 Ford had paid about 17 billion for the acquisition of several luxury or premium brands. This was no ordinary portfolio consisting of big names like Lincoln, Mercury, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo.

When Alan Mulally became Ford’s President and CEO in 2006, he started dissolving the PAG Group, killed the Mercury brand and sold all other brands in the group. The tragic story of PAG deserves a dedicated article.

The Two Faces of the MKZ

Back to today: Lincoln is now the only luxury brand in Ford’s hands (if we exclude the upscale Vignale line as a sub brand under Ford in Europe) and there is no more room for error.

To gain a fresh idea about the Ford’s Luxury business, I had the opportunity to test drive to versions of Lincoln MKZ, the brand’s midsize sedan based on the successful and mainstream Ford Fusion.

For the 2017 model year, the MKZ had a comprehensive mid-cycle upgrade (I would not call it just make-up).

The new front grill, inspired by the brand-new flagship Continental, is the boldest message of this upgrade. The car now looks much more mature and signals a more refined built quality. To me, this is also a revelation that the design language is still evolving and the brand is still in search of a new identity.


Inside, the dashboard not only has better materials and craftsmanship, but also has better design and functionality with real buttons and knobs instead of “touch-and-drag controls”. The plastic centre console has been replaced with brushed aluminum, and the wood trim complements well the upscale interior. When it comes to learning lessons from mistakes, Lincoln may be ahead of Cadillac.

2017 Lincoln MKZ 3.0L

The new Synch system is a big improvement. It is easier to use, has a new interface and more responsive. Nothing falls short of a feature in a luxury brand. The new capacitive touchscreen works well. However, I am not a fun of touchscreen controls that also leave an army of fingerprints in no time.


There is some evidence to be found that the MKZ is a Fusion derivative such as the floating centre console. However, with shift buttons on the dashboard, you have more space in the centre console compared to a Fusion.

The leather seats in both versions are very comfortable. The legroom in the rear is very good for this class. The headroom would be an issue for people taller than 180 cm, especially if you have the optional Panoramic Roof. However, the cabin feel is lovely under this huge glass.

The Versions, One MKZ

2017 Lincoln MKZ Ecoboost 2.0L

For two weeks (back-to-back) I tested two different versions of the MKZ.

First, the 2.0L version with the 245 horsepower, 2.0L, 4-cylinder Ecoboost engine, a powerplant used also across the Ford line and mated to a 6-speed auto. It delivers 275 lb-ft of torque, sufficient for an enjoyable drive and “effortless acceleration.” The base price for the MKZ is $46,000.

And for an additional $4,500, you get the more powerful 400 horsepower, 3.0L, twin-turbocharged V6 engine. This engine is exclusively for Lincoln. With 400 lb-ft of torque the 1,905 kg, all-wheel drive vehicle wouldn’t be an embarrassment on track.

I can tell you one thing, right away: In the daily commute, the 2.0L engine is powerful enough, (in my humble opinion). It provides effortless acceleration and a good amount of driving pleasure. We are not in Germany with some 13,000 kilometers of highway without speed limit. We are in Canada with an effective maximum speed of 120 km/h.

Our average consumption with both versions was just under 12 liters. With a mixed use and speeds up to the legal limit, this is normal. The combined average as per Lincoln is 10.3 liters for the 2.0L, and 11.8 liters for the 3.0L. For more economically conscious buyers, there is also a Hybrid version as before.

2017 Lincoln MKZ Ecoboost 2.0L



Both our test cars were fully loaded with almost every option available.

The 2.0L version has a MSRP of $61, 825. This price includes $13,925 of options such as panoramic roof for $3,450, Technology Package of $2,450 and Luxury Package of $5,500.

The 3.0L V6 version has a MSRP of $62,900. This price includes $15,000 of options such as panoramic roof for $3,450, Technology Package of $2,450 and Revell Premium Audio System of $1,100. The surcharge for the 3.0L V6 engine is $4,500.

Prices north of 60K is a challenge for Lincoln. These numbers touch the BMW territory without having the same perception.

2017 Lincoln MKZ Ecoboost 2.0L

2017 Lincoln MKZ Ecoboost 2.0LConclusion

Lincoln is on a growth path. As a September, in the USA, they achieved a 9 per cent growth in the luxury car market, that dropped 0.5 per cent.

They invest in better customer service where customers can have their cars maintained without leaving home.

It will be expensive, but necessary to build the brand.

Despite the criticism, Lincoln is obviously on the right track to become an established plyer in the luxury car segment. This brand has built great cars for decades, hosted several presidents and has a rich history. And Ford, the mother company took very costly lessons about how NOT to treat luxury brands under its ownership. Now it is almost time for a series of achievements with some fine tuning in pricing policy.

At least, it is a proof that Ford is serious in the luxury game.

Article: Varol McKars

Pictures: Varol McKars, Basak McKars, Burak McKars

Test vehicle was provided by Ford Canada (via BHG Media Fleet)

For the most up-to-date and more detailed information, visit:

All rights reserved. This article cannot be copied entirely or partially without the prior written consent of the author. Links to the website ( are allowed.

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