The NCAA Tournament for car guys is brought to you by CarBuzz, the #1 application for automotive news. Words by Phillip Harbor.
BUZZ Car Madness, the automotive-nerd edition of NCAA March Madness, is rolling along with the bottom half of the Mid-Major Bracket. Consisting of economy and pedestrian production cars, there are a couple performance rides that didn't quite make the grade in the Powerhouse Bracket and were thrown in here as well to compete against the pack. Winners yesterday included #1 Touring Superleggera Disco Volante, #4 Jaguar XF Sportbrake, #5 2013 Porsche Boxster and #8 MINI JCW Countryman.
Mid-Major Bracket - Game 5: #6 Seed ItalDesign Brivido vs. #11 Seed Chevrolet Cruze Station Wagon The stunning ItalDesign Brivido runs on a hybrid system featuring a 3-liter 6-cylinder gasoline engine paired to an electric motor good for a total output of 360hp. The all-new design takes on the Chevy Cruze Wagon, a new variant which features the family's entire lineup of 5 powerplants. The Cruze Wagon features 1,500-liters of space, all of which won't make it to the U.S. as this model is destined for foreign markets only.
The Cruze front-end with a generic wagon rear doesn't come close to the Brivido's gull-wing door design and its futuristic interior and rear. Winner: #6 Seed ItalDesign Brivido
Mid-Major Bracket - Game 6: #3 Seed Maserati GranTurismo Sport vs. #14 2012 Hyundai i20 Facelift In the NCAA West bracket, #3 Marquette beat #14 BYU 88-68. Much like Marquette, the Maserati GranTurismo Sport just has too many weapons for the Hyundai i20 Facelift. We are talking a 4.7-liter V8 which develops 453hp and 383lb-ft of torque for a 0-62mph sprint of 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 186mph. The redesigned i20 hatch boasts a 90hp 1.4-liter U-II diesel engine. The blowout is on and the Maserati GranTurismo Sport heads into round two against the ItalDesign Brivido. Winner: #3 Seed Maserati GranTurismo
Mid-Major Bracket - Game 7: #7 Seed Audi A3 Hatch vs. #10 Seed Ford Fiesta ST Game #7 features a battle of hatches, one from Audi and a hot one from Ford. The Ford Fiesta ST's rear lip spoiler and distinct character line on the side equal out the Audi A3's excellently-aggressive front-end and its slick, powerful profile. The ST's interior features a pair of racing seats, gripped pedals and a high-tech center console and display. The A3 stays a bit more conservative on the interior but Audi's leather wrap, pop-up display screen and the wireless phone-charging "Audi Phone Box" are nice touches.
The A3 utilizes three engines, the top of the line motor being the 180hp 1.8-liter TFSI with pricing around $30,000 (£19,000). The Fiesta ST packs a 1.6-liter EcoBoost four pot with 180hp and 177lb-ft of torque and should be priced between $13,200-17,500. The latter is cheaper, just as fun and looks just as good. The Fiesta ST pulls a Xavier over Audi's Notre Dame. Winner: #10 Seed Ford Fiesta ST
Mid-Major Bracket - Game 8: #2 Seed Mercedes-Benz A-Class Hatchback vs. #15 Seed SsangYong Actyon Sport The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is an aggressive five-door hatch built to rival the BMW 1-Series and give the three-pointed star brand a luxury hatchback in their lineup. The FWD configured model makes 208hp out of its top-end 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. Two more gasoline engines and two more diesels are also available. The SsangYong Actyon Sport is production-ready and runs on a 155hp e-XDi active diesel engine with 265lb-ft of torque.
The pick-up features heated leather seats, a mesh radiator grille, restyled front fascia and a large bed. The A-Class hatch has made waves all throughout the world and should be a fun ride with a big price tag, but it boasts luxury and a driving experience that the Actyon Sport just doesn't. Winner: #2 Seed Mercedes-Benz A-Class Hatchback Stay tuned for the Sweet 16 of the 2012 BUZZ Car Madness.