Real Wheels Live

Nov 13, 2015

The Washington Post cars columnist Warren Brown and guest Lou Ann Hammond discussed what they're seeing in the auto industry. Plus, they gave purchase advice to readers.

Good Morning Warren and Friends,

Next week is the Los Angeles auto show. If you want me to ask any questions or take pictures of certain cars let me know. 

I have put up some pictures I took from the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show of MINI, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, BMW, Audi and other pictures on 

This week I drove the 2106 Audi TT Roadster 2.0 turbo quattro S tronic. Yes, gasoline, not diesel. 

Out the door the car I drove was $54,125 and starting price is $46,400 
MPG: Up to 23 city, 30 highwaysays 

BMW Z4 and Mercedes-Benz SLK are the competitiors
MPG: 22 city, 34 highway
The 2016 BMW Z4 prices start at:
sDrive28i Automatic and manual  $49,700

sDrive35i                                       $57,500
sDrive35is                                     $66,350

2016 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class
MPG:  25 city, 32 highway

SLK300                                        $47,000
SLK350                                        $59,200

Let's chat about cars 

download and list your car for free on and it goes to Facebook and Twitter instantly.

I recently looked at the line-up of Mercedes vehicles sold in the US for 2016 and found that no SUV or CUV comes with a diesel engine. In fact, the only model line sold with the BlueTec diesel in the US is the E class. Do you know the reasons behind this pullback? Blowback from VW? Shortage of diesel engines? Lack of demand for BlueTec models in previous years? Other?

California Air Resources Board (CARB) said they will be looking at all manufacturers and especially all Volkswagen Group brands. I have not heard that Mercedes has any problems. I do know that CARB send a letter to VW group saying the 2.0-liter and the 3.0-liter in all Volkswagen groups (that includes Porsche and Audi) had some issues and VW and CARB need to sit down again.

Last time out you recommended my daughter use her employer affiliated discount to buy a Hyundai Accent vice the Velociter. What she did was take the Hyundai offer and had Mazda make an equally great counter offer on a 3i. Pretty smart for a first time car buyer! V/R, Proud Dad

Did you know that

1. women have outnumbered men in the United States for the last 45 years

2. women are the breadwinner in four out of ten families,

3. women receive more college and graduate degrees than men

4. women make only 79 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 21 percent. 

You have every right to be proud and hopefully she will be one of those women that get equal pay for equal work. 

Thank you for seeing your daughter as an equal. 

Have you seen Fiat's version of the new Miata? Any news about specs, release, etc.?

No specs from me yet. I just want to see how Fiat is going to sell it.

Hi Warren, you've stated that car companies are staffed by humans and as such, humans make moral mistakes and engineering errors. But what VW did amounts to outright lying and I was mislead into purchasing a car that's great at polluting and is now underwater as it's value continues to plummet in the marketplace. What are the proper steps VW should take to compensate VW TDi owners for the mess they've created?

Apologize, as they have done. Fix the lie with something that actually works. Offer some sort of payment.

The converging narratives of a popular car magazine suggest the VW diesel scandal comprises 10-to-20 engineers and managers gaming an expensive mandate, which is considered "sport" for competition-focused German automotive engineers. I say US fines or leniency depend on the technical solution and financial restitution for the owners. The question is should whether the cost bankrupts VW and causes the spin-off of Porsche, Lamborghini, Bentley and Audi? Maybe.

The German government would never let that happen, just like our government didn't let General Motors or Chrysler (even though they are owned by another country/company) fail. 

There are too many jobs dependent on it, and Europe produces too much diesel. It would take the whole country with it. There will be fines, there will be a fix, but the horrible part is the brain drain on the Volkswagen group when it was a dozen or so guys that couldn't stand up to the boss and say we can't do this and meet the carb emissions. 

Warren, I read your column in which you said that because most people can't afford expensive luxury cars, you've decided to concentrate on reviewing cars that everyone can afford. Please, please keep in mind that even though most of us can't afford luxury cars, we can dream. We LIKE to read about beautiful, super-powered, lavish, expensive hunks of metal that we will never be able to own. For the same reason, your newspaper has a reporter who covers fashion shows in Paris and Milan and London -- describing clothes that her readers will never, ever even try on. It's fun! It's a look at how the other half lives! So please don't completely abandon reviewing more expensive luxury models. We might not be rich enough to buy them, but we like to know about them.

Two columns annually for dreaming are enough. It makes no sense to habitually write about super-expensive, high-horsepower cars.

Lou Ann here"

Which cars do you consider expensive? Like the Ferrari type or the BMW 7-Series type? Because there a lot of people that drive the MBZ, BMW and Lexus here and a lot that consider those expensive. 

How's he doing?

Stretch just shakes his head at the fact that you guys remember him every week. 

He says he is good - we are driving a Volvo S60 and he said to tell you he fits in the Volvo - he doesn't hit his head  on it. 

Plenty of legroom in the Audi TT, didn't hit his head, loved the quattro and the drive. 

He is still flying his homebuilt Thorp T-18 every weekend, playing his piano every night and loving me. We will both be at the Los Angeles auto show next week. Should I take a picture of him there for you? ;) 

Thanks for asking 


Why should someone use it instead of, Carmax, Craigslist, etc?

I'll let Lou Ann answer that one.

Lou Ann here: 

because it's free to list your used car and it goes on Facebook and twitter automatically if you use the app to list your used car for sale 

download and list your car for free on and it goes to and instantly 

Bought a new car earlier this year and recently received a JD Power survey that could be done on line. Fine, have some spare time so started to do it. First thing they state it will take 35 minutes - yikes who has THAT kind of time? And then turns out it was all about tires, both on the care I bought and any tires I've had exposure to in my life. Is the automotive industry relying on these things to give them insight, make decisions? Can't believe their response rate justifies their development/implementation costs. But hey - if I completed it, I was entered in a drawing for $100K :)

You're asking someone who would never do a survey unless I was paid to do it. 

I think most surveys are skewed to the information they want to give to the public about one product being better than another. I know - conspiracy theory (starring Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts -watch it ) 

Let me know if you win that 100K. 

Hi, Lou Ann and Warren: I'm with Warren on reviewing expensive cars. I skip most reviews of superluxury rides, something I'don't never consider buying. BTW, loved your review of the Ford Escape Titanium last weekend, Warren. That's what I'do like for my next car after wasting so much money on my old 2002 BMW 325 I that cost $120,000 for the 10 years I tracked all my costs. It needed at least $5,000 work earlier this year when I unloaded it for 500 bucks. No thanks! Taking the bus for now. Garey, Ottawa

Thanks. The industry has a problem. Average new-vehicle transaction price is $33,566. Folks in the high-income D.C. area maybe can afford that. People in lower-income areas have to struggle--7-year loans--to get cars with transaction prices of $17,000-$20,000. Who exactly are we serving writing about cars $150,000 and higher?

Not a question, just a plea: I drive the length of I-270 every day, and the road is littered with deer carcasses. They are everywhere right now, and the only good protection is to slow down and be vigilant.

I live in the country and 5-6 deer pass through my yard everyday. I drive the country road and we never see a dead deer on the side of the road out here. Why? 

Because we know the deer are out there. Because we slow down and look for them.

Have a little common sense, slow down. It's that time of the year where the deer are out more than before.

Maybe they didn't get the daylight savings time memo :) 

The really useless surveys are the ones that the manufacturers send out to see how their dealers are doing. I guess these mean a lot to the dealers because they go out of their way to request that you give them a perfect score and that if you aren't going to give them a perfect score they ask you to tell them so they can bribe you. Surely the manufacturers know what's going on and know that these surveys are useless in terms of evaluating anything. As a consumer the whole process just offends me.

The dealers get big awards and rewards for doing well on those surveys. Just like the car companies sell more cars for getting high marks on consumer reports and north american car and truck of the year award. 

Warren and Lou Ann, Every so often you're asked to recommend a non-SUV wagon, don't forget the Acura TSX Wagon. In other parts of the world it's known as the Accord wagon. Had one for 3+ years now, it's been great. Only a few of us around.

I"ll put that one on my list. 

Thanks for reminding me. 

I agree on limiting reviews of superluxe cars, but luxury is definitely fair game. It's interesting to see what's available. Features that start as luxury features move downstream. Plus, the unaffordable luxury car today might be a nice used car for me in five years. There's no need to say that a Hyundai can get you there at the same time for half the price; with heavy traffic, who cares is you can go fast; etc. It's almost like Limbaugh's dittos at this point.

You are absolutely right - Features that start as luxury features move downstream. 

The BMW 7-Series has self-parking that is already being used in Europe. When the laws change here, BMW will allow you to self-park your 7-Series through technology. 

They can only put that technology on expensive cars because the technology is expensive. Once it is accepted and able to be mass-produced and amortized then it can go to the lower luxury cars 

Looking to buy a new small sporty car in the next few months. Must have manual transmission so Acura ILX is out sadly. I'd love to buy an Acura Integra, Honda Prelude or Toyota Celica if they still made those, but, alas, those models have been discontinued. I'm interested in the Subaru BRZ. What other cars should I be looking at?

Mazda Miata, MINI Cooper, bmw m235i, scion fr-s, focus st or fiesta st, nissan 370z

Just remember they do more damage to your lungs etc than gas powered vehicles and more damage to the environment. Its not the NOX and CO but the very fine particularist that diesels emit if with the best and future technology. This fine particles cause cancer something CO and NOX dont do. Diesels are not the Green answer.

Which is why CARB is saying that by 2030 almost all vehicles sold in California will have to be near zero or zero emission vehicles. This deceit by Volkswagen is just another feather in their cap to prove a point 

If you cant park your vehicle you shouldn't be allowed to drive it on the road. Modern day cars and trucks are a breeze to park. Try parking a 70 Caddy. Clifton, VA

some people don't want to park their car in the cold and rain. They'd rather tell the app to park their car. 

Welcome to the new world

If anyone wants certain information about the Los Angeles auto show post it in the comments section for today's show. I will watch and will take pictures for next week. 

Stay well everyone, that includes you Warbro. 

Thanks Gene for the production, and Stretch for my constant amusement. 

And remember - 

Never drive faster than your Angel can fly 

much love, 


In This Chat
Warren Brown
Warren Brown has covered the cars industry for The Washington Post since 1982.

On Wheels Archive

Real Wheels Live Q&A Archive
Lou Ann Hammond
Lou Ann Hammond is the founder and owner of the first privately owned automobile website Recently Lou Ann has developed an automotive and energy issues related website,, that covers a broader range of subjects than solely the automotive or the energy industry.
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