December 14, 2006

Cars You Can't Have Wrap-up: Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi, Scion, Mercedes

I'm cleaning out the to-post folder here at DTHQ, and there are a few more cars you can't have, plus one I can [HAH!]:

First off, the new Scion xB, called the Toyota bB in Japan, is just pimpy enough, I might have to buy up a few of the old ones and sock them away. I'll start vacuuming the change out of the sofa cushions.

The I may be unsearchable on Google, but it sure stands out in the otherwise crappy-looking lineup on Mitsubishi's website. It's basically the Pontiac Solstice of the company, a 4-door Smart knock-off [1] that makes you wonder where it came from, but I think I works. I works. Get it??


The Honda Stream looks great enough to turn my head after a week of sightings. Parking it next to an over-the-top Hong Kong wedding being documented by three professional camera crews, and juxtaposing it with a pink and purple Rolls Royce covered with plastic flowers--all under a freeway overpass--also helps:


Alright, so this picture of the Nissan El Grand, or as I call it, the Nissan Manvan, is from last summer in Tokyo, but they're still all over the place. Japanese mooks can customize everything from grill to the tailpipes on their Darth Vadermobiles. If this van's a rockin', don't come a knockin'. Or they'll cut your pinky off, too.


And last but not least, the car that started it all: the Mercedes B-class. I saw one on the first, camera-less morning on the ground in Kyoto, but I didn't get a clean shot at one until Hong Kong. It's bigger than I thought [I guess I'm an A-class lover at heart], but it still rocks. Never mind that it costs 3-4 Scion Units to get one in Canada.

I searched around, and ultimately found one to rent in France next week from Sixt, the Hertz of Germany. Booking through the US reservations line as a United frequent flyer gave us a phenomenally low rate, no mileage restrictions, and no additional driver fees. Look for a full report when we get back. One down, 29 to go.


[1] thanks to SF for noting below that Mitsubishi and DamilerChrysler developed the ForFour smart car together, and that MMC is now supplying engines for the next-gen smart car. So the I isn't so much a knock-off as a cousin. I'm a smart fan, so even though I meant it in a good way, I was wrong.


I can't resist replying to a Japan post or car post from you so this one was calling to me like a crack rock to a junkie... :)

When I was in Japan and say the new bB, I thought it looked stupid... like Batman's toaster. I sensed that Toyota never planned on importing it stateside, and a quick Google confirmed that the Scion xB is due for a US-only second version that's basically more of the same. Literally. They're just making a bigger version of the same vehicle. (Um, Toyota, GM called, they want their 90s-era Astrovan blueprints back...)

As for the Mercedes... leasing on it is sweet, so it was tempting to pick one up as a "company" car... or was, until I saw "An Inconvenient Truth" in-flight on the way to Japan and got an immense rush of guilt for considering to buy anything that's not a bio-diesel/electric/moped hybrid or whatever Al Gore would have us drive. I guess I'll stick with the Matrix my car sharing co-op has parked a block away for now... :)

(My other urban wagon fantasy was a now-outgoing 2006 Mitsubishi Outlander... basically a less dorky looking wagon version of the Lancer that you can actually get with a manual transmission.)

{whether it's a Batman's toaster or "bread truck for 8-foot sandwiches," it all comes back to bread. interesting. Damn Al Gore is keeping me out of a lot of cars that get

Sixt is, by far, the best car rental agency to use in Paris. Great cars. Great deals. Just make sure you book and confirm EVERYTHING from the U.S. The rates are much better.

One extremely important warning though...Be sure to read all the fine print regarding insurance (collision, liability, and damages.) You are not completely protected by your U.S. credit card. When you're in France, Sixt has a deductible that can get fairly high. I got screwed once by them before. Learn from my mistakes, my friend.

And don't forget to check if the bar at the Plaza Athenee has a diaper-changing table in the men's room! Sacre bleu!

[ah, but we're heading to Marseilles, the opposite of Paris, and driving up to Provence, where they change their kids on the cold, rough stones of the place -ed.]

The I is not a Smart rip-off. Much of the platform and drivetrain develpment was overseen by Mitsubishi and is being "ripped off" for the next generation Smart. Most people do not know that Mitsubishi was one of the development partners for the Smart (DCX used to own a big chunk), and even fewer know that there is a JDM MMC Smart.

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