Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category
With a base price of $51,995, the new Stingray coupe comes with a $1,400 price increase over the outgoing car — but Chevy can argue it more than makes up for the extra cost in improvements. The Corvette has traditionally sported a far longer menu of options than other GM models, such as a $5,000 choice for a customized VIN on the 2013 model. And unlike most model changeovers and price increases, the 2014 Vette Stingray features enough radical changes from its eight-year-old predecessor that direct comparisons of pricing become difficult.
The convertible Stingray will start at $56,995, $1,000 more than the outgoing droptop. Base equipment for both models includes the new 6.2-liter, 450-hp V-8, a seven-speed manual and the upgraded interior long sought by Vette fans. The options include the $2,800 Z51 performance package with bigger wheels, brakes and more advanced software controls, a $1,995 carbon-fiber roof, the $1,795 magnetic ride suspension, suede interior bits ($995) and dual exhausts ($1,195) among others. To build a Stingray like the one shown on the wall at the Detroit auto show will cost $73,360 — once again, an increase of about $2,000 over a fully optioned LT4 model, with the highest-priced option the 3LT interior package at $8,005.
By Corvette standards, the new prices look on target with what Vette fans expected, and perhaps even slightly less. By world sports car standards, the Corvette Stingray still seems like a bargain; the Porsche 911 starts at $82,100, and with a few checked boxes quickly passes six figures. For many Vette fans, this will be the green flag to start counting pennies.
Bugatti has been in and out of the news recently, for both good and bad. Firstly, the brand was stripped of its title as the”world’s fastest production car” after deactivating the restrictor that limits the car’s top speed during its record run. Bugatti rebounded from that knock by announcing yesterday that its Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse secured the record as the “world’s fastest convertible,” managing a speed of 254 mph. Keeping with the good news, Guinness World Records announced today that it has in fact now reinstated the Veyron Super Sport as the “fastest production car in the world,” returning the 1,200 hp hypercar to its rightful spot as number one.
Let’s recap what happened here. This is Guinness’s original statement declaring the stripping:
“It has come to the attention of Guinness World Records that there was an oversight in its adjudication of the ‘Fastest production car’ which was set in 2010 by the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport. As the car’s speed limiter was deactivated, this modification was against the official guidelines. Consequently, the vehicle’s record set at 431.072 km/h is no longer valid. As we are now reviewing this category with expert external consultants there is no current record holder.”
This latest announcement from Guinness, received today, backtracks somewhat from their original statement, claiming that the deactivation was not as problematic as they initially believed:
“Following a thorough review conducted with a number of external experts, Guinness World Records is pleased to announce the confirmation of Bugatti’s record of Fastest production car achieved by the Veyron 16.4 Super Sport. The focus of the review was with respect to what may constitute a modification to a car’s standard specification. Having evaluated all the necessary information, Guinness World Records is now satisfied that a change to the speed limiter does not alter the fundamental design of the car or its engine.”
So there you have it, the Veyron stands as number one. Again. And if we’re honest, a restrictor that limits the car by a mere 9.8 mph to protect crazy customers attempting to surpass 258 mph is not much of reason to lose it in the first place. Not having that restriction, allowing drivers to potentially surpass what is deemed a “safe” speed for tires to withstand, remains even crazier.
As we’ve heard a lot recently, Hennessey Performance claim its Venom GT remains “the fastest production car available to the public” at 265.7 mph. But who cares? In the eyes of Guinness, the 267.8 mph Veyron remains king.
Despite modern advancements in sneaker technology, walking remains a slow way to go. Running, however, achieves acceptable velocity, but even with a smoothie made by Lance Armstrong, we tire quickly. The Segway never truly caught on for those not on government payrolls and, let’s face it, skateboards went out of fashion shortly after the first “Back to the Future.”
Hyundai decided it’s time to change all this, and at the Seoul Motor Show, its engineers unveiled a moveable egg concept that promises speeds faster than a Segway, and a strange helmet that makes you look far cooler than any skateboarder could ever dream.
The egg is entitled the E4U – standing for Egg, Evolution, Electricity and Eco-friendliness. The result of an annual invention contest among Hyundai engineers in South Korea, the odd-egg was designed as a potential future of personal mobility: It can travel up to speeds just shy of 20 mph, weighs 176 lbs. (sounds mobile to me), and boasts a 24V battery attached to a 500W electric motor.
The steering appears to be controlled somewhat akin to the Segway, with an abundance of tilting, pivoting, and other unnatural behaviors required to induce motion. According to tech site Nikkei Tech-On, who witnessed a demonstration in Seoul, the E4U stands on semispherical balls. The driver (rider?) must tilt the egg to move, but it appears to be in a rather counterintuitive way: you move forward by putting weight on your left foot, backwards by transferring the weight to your right foot, and left and right by tilting backwards and forwards respectively. Tech-On mentioned the driver stated, “Without some practice, it does not move in the desired direction.”
Hyundai make a point of emphasizing the streamlined stance of the E4U, because, you know, aerodynamics play a large role at speeds as high as 18 mph. Perhaps the best feature is the helmet, however. It appears to be your regular bicycle helmet with a clear plastic screen draped over the driver’s face; presumably to prevent bug splatter while maximizing operator shame.
While I appreciate the sentiment in trying to make personal mobility easier, I can’t imagine nipping to the shops aboard an E4U; my legs may be inferior to the propulsion generated by the world’s largest egg, but the humility of wearing that helmet would be too much to bear. What was wrong with the bicycle, again?
Automobile Magazine selected the most promising production cars slated for release in the next two years, as part of its annual sneak peak issue.
Why: Acura needs a performance halo car–even more so now than when the original NSX debuted back in 1990.
As the crucial halo car for Honda’s premium brand, the mid-engine Acura NSX will combine the magic of the original, aluminum-bodied NSX sports car with the technology of a hybrid whose electric motors power the front wheels and provide for torque vectoring, as well. Think Porsche 918 Spyder at one-seventh the price. The NSX is expected in showrooms by 2015 and will look much like the 2012 concept, which was updated with a sumptuous two-seat interior for the 2013 Detroit show. United States-based designers and engineers are leading development of the sports car, which Acura will assemble in Ohio. The ’15 NSX is expected to have a 3.7-liter V-6, two electric motors for the front wheels, and a rear motor providing a combined 480 hp fed through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. A 370-hp, 3.5-liter version of this powertrain is found in the all-wheel-drive iteration of the Acura RLX luxury sedan. Late last year, American Honda’s president, Tetsuo Iwamura, hinted that since the RLX is also available in nonhybrid form with front-wheel drive, it’s possible that we could see a nonhybrid NSX with rear-wheel drive only. True, it would have less power, but it would be lighter and, thus, very true to the original NSX.
When: 2014 (coupe, sedan), early 2015 (convertible)
Why: The M3 is an icon for BMW, which makes the name change for the two-doors tricky business.
Know the code
Whereas the 3 Series is known internally (and among BMW fanboys) as the F30, the M3 takes the development code F80 and the M4 is the F82.
Ever since the arrival of the new BMW 3-series sedan (and maybe even before), those who worship the blue-and-white roundel have been waiting for the next M3-and M4, as it turns out. With the standard two-door’s change in designation from 3-series to 4-series, the two-door M versions will follow suit: the coupe (illustrated below by a spy artist) and convertible will be called M4; the sedan will remain M3. It’s a risky move for a model designation that is held in such esteem, but the car to which the badge is affixed ought to satisfy the faithful.
The upcoming M3/M4 is slated to switch from the current normally aspirated 4.0-liter V-8 back to a straight six, albeit one bolstered by twin turbos. Displacing 3.0 liters, its output of approximately 420 hp will be slightly higher than the current 414 hp, but M is not gunning for ultimate bragging rights in this department (leaving that to Mercedes-AMG). Instead, it has focused on reducing weight and improving overall performance-as well as fuel economy. “It needs to be lighter; it needs to be more powerful,” M division executives acknowledge. It also needs to have a manual transmission, because the North American market (in particular) demands it-although we don’t demand it as much as we used to. On the E46-chassis M3, manuals accounted for 50 percent of sales; for the current-generation E90, it’s more like 20 to 25 percent. Still, that’s enough to keep it in the mix. “As long as there is demand for a manual,” said the division’s bosses in a recent interview, “then we [will do] the right thing by offering it.” Ergo, we will see a six-speed stick along with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic, which supplants the current seven-speed. Aluminum (door skins) and carbon fiber (roof, hood, trunk lid, and brake discs) serve the cause of weight reduction. The goal is to bring the weight below 3300 pounds, down from 3700 today. What about an über-M4, akin to AMG’s Black Series line of cars? BMW would point out that it has had the M3 GTS/CRT models, but those cars were never sold in the United States. Expect that situation to change next time.
Why: Because no luxury brand can resist the siren’s call of the SUV.
Plans for Bentley’s first-ever SUV hit a bump in the road when the EXP 9 F preview concept suffered cripplingly bad public reaction, but the project has been merely delayed, not derailed. The exterior is being redone by Luc Donckerwolke, Bentley’s recently installed chief designer, so what you see here is the concept’s interior, which is likely to remain intact as the vehicle transitions to production. The Bentley SUV will share a platform with the next-generation Volkswagen Touareg,Audi Q7, and Porsche Cayenne. Conveniently, Bentley’s current head of engineering, Rolf Frech, comes from Porsche, where he was director of engineering during initial development of the Cayenne. Frech recently spoke with us about his role at Bentley and the new SUV.
What do you bring to Bentley?
“I bring the experience from a company [Porsche] that grew from two car lines to three, to four, and then to five, as you see today. Of course, I bring the experience of the SUV to Bentley. That’s essential to Bentley at this time.”
What are the differences between developing a new Bentley versus a Porsche?
“The value of the Bentley brand is luxury performance. If we are bringing a Bentley SUV, it has to fulfill brand value and be the most ‘luxury performance’ SUV on the road. From the engine to the interior, we need to be the pinnacle of the segment. The Cayenne Turbo S is a fabulous SUV, but we want the Bentley to be above that in areas like interior execution. We want to be above the Porsche with a twelve-cylinder engine, with the interior, with everything.”
Is off-road ability important?
“We have to show that it is possible. It’s like a 911 and the racetrack. How many customers are really going on the racetrack? The key is they know that, if they want to, they can.”
Any interest in diesel?
“I think it makes the most sense for the SUV. We are looking at this and at a plug-in hybrid.”
Why is an SUV appropriate for the brand?
“Looking at our customers, many of them already own an SUV. Why should it be a Range Rover or a Cayenne? It should be a Bentley.”
When: Late 2015
Why: Buick needs a flagship to solidify its premium-brand credentials, and the name Riviera still has cachet.
Flashback: The seminal ’63-’65 Riviera was a design icon.
The Enclave is currently Buick’s most expensive offering and the LaCrosse its biggest sedan, but neither is a proper halo model for the brand. When General Motors reregistered the Grand National and GNX names, rumors erupted that a hot-rod Buick would return. GM has reregistered the Riviera name, too, and it’s this car that would best serve as a halo Buick. Folks in the know tell us that the new-age Riviera is a larger four-door coupe–perhaps much like our illustration–in the mold of the Mercedes-Benz CLS-class, BMW 6-series Gran Coupe, and Audi A7, although considerably cheaper. Overall length will be in the 195-to-200-inch range, placing it in the same full-size category as the Chrysler 300, for example. We expect the venerable 3.6-liter gasoline direct-injected V-6 to be the only engine. A Riviera GNX could be the division’s riff on the Cadillac V-series, but it would likely have a turbocharged 3.6-liter V-6 instead of a small-block V-8.
The question is which rear-wheel-drive GM platform the Riv would ride on. GM’s flexible Alpha architecture already underpins the Cadillac ATS and will support the next Chevrolet Camaro and Cadillac CTS with its longer-wheelbase iteration. But even in that form, it might be too small. The Chevy SS’s Holden Zeta platform is larger, but its long-term future is uncertain. Cadillac’s Omega platform for the upcoming S-class fighter makes the most sense. That may sound expensive for a Buick, but the added volume would bring down its per-unit cost, and it would recall top-of-the-line Buicks from the time of the early Roadmaster to the 1963-1977 Riviera, which were only a half notch below Cadillac in prestige.
Why: Ford can’t afford to let the F-series franchise grow stale.
Ford’s next F-150 faces quite a balancing act. It must maintain supremacy as the nation’s best-selling vehicle without diminishing the kind of profit margins that come from cheap-to-produce body-on-frame construction. That’s good reason to question rumors that the new F-150, as previewed by the Atlas concept, will be made mostly of aluminum. The hood and maybe the door panels, sure, but whole bodies and frames? Seems unlikely.
We do expect the 2015 F-150 to grab design cues from the Atlas, such as its profile, huge grille, and LED head- and taillamps. A next-generation EcoBoost engine powers the concept, and although Ford won’t elaborate on what that means, stop/start technology will be part of the package. The six-speed automatic in the Atlas suggests that Ford won’t follow the new Ram with an eight-speed.
Features such as active grille shutters, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, blind-spot warning, lane-keeping assist, trailer-backup assist, power-deployable running boards, and an electronic parking brake are more likely. The concept’s active wheel shutters and drop-down front chin spoiler wouldn’t help a tall vehicle with so much extra space around the tires.
The Atlas concept’s 150-inch wheelbase is 5.5 inches longer than the current (and most comparable) short-bed F-150 SuperCrew’s and would take advantage of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy “footprint” rule. Even with the longer wheelbase, the concept’s overall length and height are similar to today’s F-150, although it is even wider than a Raptor. To get a better idea of how the next F-150 will look when it goes on sale about mid-2014, imagine the concept about eight inches narrower.
When: Early 2014
Why: Fifty years after the Mustang’s blockbuster debut, expect Ford to set off some fireworks around the 2015 model.
The most certain thing we know about the 2015 Ford Mustang is that it will premiere at the New York auto show on April 16 or 17, 2014. April 17 will be fifty years to the day that the original Mustang made its world debut in that city. That car had a base price of $2368. (How about $23,680 for the base ’15 Mustang?)
We’re also reasonably certain that the new Mustang will edge away from the current car’s heavily retro appearance and possibly look like our spy illustration below. Our sources tell us that the new pony will be slightly smaller and lighter and will come close to retaining the current car’s muscularity. Several years ago, Ford separated North American designers who would work on U.S.-focused models such as the Mustang and the F-series from Euro-centric One Ford designers. However, Ford will sell the all-American Mustang in other markets, including Western Europe.
The ’15 Mustang will be trim enough that the current Shelby GT500‘s supercharged 5.8-liter V-8 won’t fit. The big engine for low-volume, high-performance ‘Stangs is tipped to be a 5.0-liter turbocharged V-8, the “EcoBoost Coyote,” with a normally aspirated Coyote for versions like the Boss 302. From there on down, mainstream Mustangs are expected to come with Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, the normally aspirated 3.7-liter V-6, and the EcoBoost 2.0-liter four-cylinder. In other applications, those engines make 365 hp, 305 hp, and 240 hp, respectively, so they’ll cover a wide variety of Mustang variants, including performance versions. The new Mustang finally gets an independent rear suspension, too. This opens the door for a much-needed rear-wheel-drive Lincoln flagship sedan built on the same platform, although we know of no plans for one yet.
Jaguar F-type coupe
Why: Jaguar’s new sports car would miss half the market without a hardtop, which should be an even more focused driver’s car.
Jaguar has big plans for the F-type as it tries to follow the much-envied Porsche 911 approach by spinning out a plethora of high-profit variants. The 2011 concept that previewed the F-type was a hardtop, and it’s easy to see how well that roofline works with the production F-type. So, with the roadster hitting showrooms this summer, the coupe will be the next model. The production coupe will debut at the Frankfurt show in September–probably looking a lot like this illustration–and roll into dealerships several months later. Expect it to offer the same supercharged engines as the roadster: a 3.0-liter V-6 (340 hp or 380 hp) and a 5.0-liter V-8 (495 hp). The latter should bring the 0-to-60-mph time down close to 4.0 seconds. The coupe will likely follow current Jaguar practice by being a bit more affordable than the roadster, whose base price range extends from $69,875 to $92,875. Jaguar, however, will be eager to bring out costlier temptations, offering all-wheel drive, hotter R iterations, and even an ultraextreme GT street racer. As the F-type lineup fleshes out, watch for the next-generation XK to edge away from sport and toward luxury–and to also move up in price.
When: Late 2013
Why: Maserati needs a sedan in this volume segment if it’s ever to become more than a bit player among luxury brands.
Second Act: This is actually the second time Maserati has resurrected the Ghibli name. The first was in the early 1990s on an evolution of the much-unloved Biturbo.
As the new Maserati Quattroporte has increased in size to better match up against the Mercedes-Benz S-class and friends, it opens up room for the Ghibli, a second Maserati sedan that will compete in the heart of the luxury-sedan market against Mercedes’ E-class and the like. The Ghibli could resemble the spy illustration above.
Although the name was first used on the classic late-1960s GT, the modern Ghibli is exclusively a four-door based on the same platform as the new Quattroporte (the next GranTurismo coupe will also use that platform). That means its chassis employs a control-arm front suspension and a multi-link rear. For European markets, the Ghibli is expected to be powered by Maserati’s first-ever diesel, a 270-hp, 3.0-liter V-6. For America, though, the Ghibli will have a direct-injected, 3.0-liter V-6 bolstered by twin turbos. The 60-degree V-6 has an aluminum block and cylinder heads and will appear first as the base offering in the new Quattroporte, where it is expected to produce 404 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque, which flows to the rear wheels through ZF’s familiar eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive will be optional. A plug-in hybrid powertrain is also expected, along with a so-called efficiency pack that includes auto stop/start, brake-energy regeneration, a coasting mode, and on-demand auxiliaries.
Maserati hopes that the Ghibli will sell in volumes of more than 20,000 units per year, as it’s the key player in the company’s planned march to 50,000 units per annum–from only 6300 in 2012.
Mercedes-Benz SLC AMG
When: Late 2014
Why: Like so many others, Mercedes-Benz wants a Porsche 911 competitor, and neither the SLnor the SLS hits that target.
The SLS was the first car wholly developed by AMG, and it won’t be the last. The next product of the busy complex at Affalterbach will be the SLC AMG. Although it steps in as the SLS departs, the SLC is not a direct replacement. Instead, it will be less expensive (starting just north of $100,000) and will have conventional doors and, for now at least, coupe-only bodywork (like the illustration at left). The 3400-pound SLC is the first AMG model to use the new 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8. The 90-degree V-8 should be good for 480 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque, which will flow to a rear transaxle. Oh, and if that’s not enough, there are rumors of a Black Series that would put out roughly 575 hp and 550 lb-ft.
Porsche 918 Spyder
When: Late 2013
Why: The dream of a latter-day Carrera GT was too strong to deny.
What’s in a number?
918 isn’t just the model designation, it’s also the production start date (9/18/2013) and the build quantity: 918 units.
Porsche’s new supercar, the 918 Spyder, is nearing production readiness, but are buyers ready for it? The concept car was first revealed at the 2010 Geneva auto show. Three years later the idea is intact: an ultra-high-performance successor to the 2004-2006 Carrera GT that uses a hybrid powertrain rather than a V-10, bringing the supercar firmly into the modern idiom.
The hybrid powertrain marries a mid-mounted 4.6-liter V-8, alone good for 570 hp, with two electric motors, bringing the total output to 795 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic handles the shifting. Top speed is said to exceed 202 mph, and the electric motors can push the car beyond 90 mph by themselves. Porsche is estimating a fifteen-mile electric-vehicle range (although presumably not at 90 mph). There is a plug-in charger and an optional fast charger; brake-energy regeneration also recharges the batteries.
The high-revving V-8 (redlined at 9000 rpm) utilizes dry-sump lubrication and an aluminum block, heads, and crankcase. It drives the rear wheels on its own or together with one electric motor. The second electric motor can drive the front wheels, creating on-demand all-wheel drive and torque vectoring. The front motor is the primary power source in EV mode, but the rear motor can kick in, too. That means the 918 Spyder can be rear-wheel drive, front-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive, depending on the circumstances.
A steering-wheel-mounted joystick allows the driver to choose from several operating modes: E-Power, Hybrid, Sport Hybrid, and Race Hybrid. Additionally, a Hot Lap button taps the full power output of the batteries to supplement the gasoline engine.
Riding on a 107.5-inch wheelbase, the same as the Carrera GT, the new two-seater is 1.2 inches longer and 0.8 inch wider than its exotic predecessor. A carbon-fiber monocoque, a two-piece lift-off roof, (optional) magnesium wheels, and body panels of carbon fiber, magnesium, and aluminum are all employed to help keep mass in check. With the 330-pound battery pack and electric motors, total weight is expected to be 3750 pounds (which is still some 600 pounds more than the Carrera GT); 57 percent of the weight is over the rear wheels.
The 918 Spyder will use four-wheel steering, which makes its debut on the 911 GT3. The rear wheels countersteer at low speeds to aid maneuverability and turn in sync with the front wheels at high speeds for improved stability. Porsche has stated that the 918 Spyder will lap the Nürburgring in 7 minutes, 14 seconds (handily beating the Carrera GT’s 7:32).
For all that, the question is whether the faithful are waving their checkbooks for a chance at this pinnacle of Porsche engineering. Not according to what we’re hearing. Word is that supercar buyers are unconvinced by the hybrid concept and put off by the pricing, which starts at $845,000 and doesn’t include extras like the fast charger and fancy metallic paint. Perhaps it will take a test drive to convince Porsche-philes to open their wallets, or maybe Porsche will find that the air is just too thin at this lofty altitude.
Lotuses are being used for all sorts of things nowadays; Hennessey utilizes one for the Venom GT — a machine they claim stands as the fastest production car in the world — and now Detroit Electric reveals its SP:01, stated as the fastest pure-electric sports car in the world. And with a 0-62 mph time of just 3.7 seconds, complimenting its top speed of 155 mph, if it does indeed see the light of day, the Detroit Electric SP:01 could provide further proof of a resurgent Motor City.
No doubt the SP:01′s stats are impressive, but it’s not power that makes the electric sports car so rapid, it’s the weight; the SP:01 tips the scales at just 2,354 lbs. Power derives from an air-cooled, asynchronous AC electric motor, delivering 201 hp and 166 lb. ft. of instantaneous torque. Those figures, even mixed with the lightweight carbon-fiber body, make the speed statistics seem quite a stretch; I suppose it showcases the power of instant torque.
The manual gearbox seen on the Lotus remains, but the 5th and 6th gears are blocked off (5th can be reinstalled at a price). Changing gear promises to be seldom, however, as the taller ratios are only needed when achieving top speeds. Having multiple ratios makes a lot of sense in an electric car, as the drive ratio is often so long it diminishes the rewards offered by the instant torque. Having recently driven the Mercedes SLS Electric Drive (currently the fastest production EV in the world), which maintained that long gear, the initial power, while impressive, didn’t match expectations. Perhaps this could be the answer?
With a power rating of 37 kWh, the lithium polymer batteries provide a range of 180 miles with a charge time of around four hours (when using a 240V charge point). A patented bi-directional charge feature enables the car to power your house, too. Cooling is controlled by an in-house system, with a thermal management pack fitted to keep the batteries and motor running at an optimum temperature.
At $135,000, the SP:01 will not be an electric sports car for the masses. And despite this announcement, Detroit Electric has a long road ahead to get its promised output of 999 cars into production, let alone sell any to stay afloat. The concept, on paper, sounds great. But as we’ve seen before, promises like this are increasingly difficult to fulfill.
Answering the pleas of many an Internet commenter, BMW has confirmed that it will introduce for the U.S. market a low-price M5 wagon powered by a massaged version of the automaker’s 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline six-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission.
The 2014 BMW M5 Sports Wagon xDrive35d is designed to appeal specifically to BMW’s enthusiast base, a group the automaker has long been accused of abandoning as it pushes for higher volume in North America.
“With its diesel engine, six-speed manual and M-tuned all-wheel-drive, the M5 Sport Wagon xDrive35d is the ultimate enthusiast’s driving machine,” said BMW M diesel division chief Garth von Falkenhausen, the adopted American grandson of legendary BMW engineer Baron Alexander von Fankenhausen. The elder von Falkenhausen is credited with spearheading the four-cylinder engine line that eventually spawned the automaker’s first “cult car,” the 1968 BMW 2002, so it is appropriate that his Iowa-born grandson has developed an enthusiast car for the 21st century.
The 2014 M5 Sports Wagon xDrive35d, which will compete against wagon versions of the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG and the Cadillac CTS-V, is powered by a 325 horsepower, 563 lb-ft. of torque 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder. A six-speed manual gearbox is the only transmission on offer. Notably, BMW has abandoned its drive-by-wire system for the new wagon, instead relying on conventional cables and hydraulic power steering.
Underneath, the M5 Sports Wagon xDrive35d will use an M-tuned version of the company’s all-wheel-drive. A performance menu in the car’s iDrive system offers 367 M preset driving modes that vary everything from ride firmness and steering heft to the brightness of the dome lights.
All M5 Sports Wagon xDrive35ds will be swathed in a single metallic brown paint scheme tailored specifically for the new car: Fanthusiast Brown. Inside, carbon fiber trim contrasts with acres of synthetic suede for a thoroughly track-oriented feel.
Since the new wagon was tested on the Nurburgring before the track went bankrupt, a ‘ring sticker will be included on the car’s tailgate. A fitted ///M hat sized to the new owner’s cranium is the only option aside from a block heater.
Reflecting its low volume status, each M5 Sports Wagon xDrive35d engine will be hand-built in the M Division’s factory by the same engineer, who has been told he cannot take any sick or vacation days until all nine engines the automaker expects to deliver with U.S. specifications are built.
Of those nine, eight have been pre-sold. Six will be destroyed as press fleet vehicles by voracious wagon-loving media members, one has been reserved as a corporate errand car at BMW’s North American headquarters and one is headed to its South Carolina museum to be preserved for posterity. That leaves just a single 2014 BMW M5 Sports Wagon xDrive35d set to be offered to the public – a sales challenge that even BMW admits will be tough to overcome.
“Most of the surveys we have offered to visitors of our website’s new car configurator have indicated interest in a diesel M5 wagon with a stick and all-wheel-drive,” said William Loman, the automaker’s newly-appointed chief of M Wagon sales. ”However, enthusiasts are generally more interested in haggling on $1,500 Craigslist cars,” Loman conceded.
To leap over that hurdle, BMW says that another diesel-powered M variant tailored more to mainstream American buyers is on the way. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a BMW engineer hinted to Leftlane that an automatic-only 2015 BMW M5 GT xDrive35d has been green-lighted for high volume production. Stay tuned.
Back in February, we talked about the new McLaren P1. Only 375 of these spectacular cars were slated to be produced, and now we find out who one of the lucky owners may be.
One might say Los Angeles Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson has it all. After a long stint playing for the Texas Rangers ending with his first All-Star game, Wilson signed a five-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels during the offseason worth a reported $77.5 million. Over the past several years, as his success in the major leagues has enriched him, Wilson has indulged in his passion outside of baseball: buying race cars, racing them himself and starting his own race team. He also purchased some of the most exclusive vehicles on the market, and he stands as one of a few 31-year-olds in the world who can afford the upcoming $1.15 million, 903-hp McLaren P1 hypercar. But first, he had to make a pitch to prove he was worthy.
The McLaren P1 will never become a common sight around the world: the British sports car maker says it will build only 375 P1s, which it touts as the fastest road car in the world, capable of hitting 62 mph in under three seconds. As the eligible customers worldwide far outnumber the available machines, and McLaren wants to keep the cars out of speculators’ hands, it’s impossible to just wander into a McLaren dealer and sign on the dotted line. To qualify, one needs a list of previously owned cars worthy of Jerry Seinfeld, a wallet deeper than Jay Leno’s chin, and a dedication to the brand akin to Lewis Hamilton (before he jumped ship to Mercedes, of course). None of which guarantees a spot.
Wilson tells me cars have always been his passion. Over his years in the major leagues, he’s owned enough Porsches to start a dealership – including numerous 911 GT3 RSs and a Carrera GT. After his collection outgrew his garage, Wilson had an epiphany: “I only have one butt and two hands — how am I supposed to drive all these cars,” he joked. “What am I doing with all these things? This is so stupid.” Wilson decided it was time to sell up and purchase an actual race car. “If I crash it, it’s a race car, who cares? You fix it and keep going.”
After selling many of his prized gems, Wilson bought a Mazda MX-5 Cup car – a racing version of the machine auto enthusiasts know to be the greatest affordable roadster on the planet. He then began to race the MX-5 and even started his own race team, gifting young racers the opportunity to prove their skills and use the race team as a promotional tool for his charity work. Despite his rapidly emptying garage, Wilson kept his prized Carrera GT. He also decided to save space for a Ferrari, but acquiring one became his first introduction to the velvet ropes of the super car club.
“I did eventually own a used Ferrari 599, but I got dissatisfied by the Ferrari ownership thing almost immediately,” Wilson recalled. “It was like, ‘you have to buy a used Maserati, then you can buy a new Ferrari.’ It was an exhausting process with so many hoops to jump through. I originally wanted a new Ferrari 360 but they wouldn’t sell it me, despite having the cash to drop there and then. After the 599, I vowed never to own a Ferrari again. Although Wilson’s love for the Italian brand was tainted, he had a similar affection for the British Formula One team and car builder founded by Bruce McLaren.
“I’ve always been a McLaren fan boy, ever since the (Ayrton) Senna days,” states Wilson. “The road car I looked up to as a kid was the McLaren F1. It was completely mind-blowing. I thought that was the best thing ever. It became my focus as a child to one day own that car. The problem is, they cost about $4 million today, and they only made 100 of them. You can’t buy one. You just can’t.”
Wilson decided to purchase the next best thing — the McLaren MP4-12C supercar. While not a hypercar variant like the F1, the 12C ranks as a capable Ferrari 458 fighter that boasts 593 hp and surpasses 200 mph, which Wilson, in true car guy form, drives the wheels off of. “I use that car almost everyday,” Wilson tells me. “I’ve amassed over 7,000 miles already, which is a lot for a supercar in such a short time.”
Wilson was astutely aware that a successor to his adored F1 was imminent — so much so that he began lobbying earlier than most for a slot on the list. “When the rumblings began, I called up my guy at McLaren and said, ‘I don’t care what it costs, I want that car,’” said Wilson. “This was about two years ago, and at that point, they hadn’t even come up with a name yet. ‘I want the new F1,’ I said. I practically begged the guy. I was the first person in the country that asked to be on the list.” “McLaren directed me to produce a catalog of cars I’ve owned. I listed the Porsches, Ferrari, and McLaren 12C but was concerned, after my Ferrari experience, that at 31 years old, I might not maintain the diversity of cool cars needed to be eligible. But they replied saying it was plenty and I was officially on the list.”
A while later, Wilson was invited to a preview event in Beverly Hills to mingle with a group of wealthy and famous individuals who were also on the sought-after list. “I wondered why I was there,” he confessed. “I was by far the youngest in the room.” By this point, Wilson had already dropped a sizable 10 percent deposit on a car he hadn’t even seen and knew nothing about. But that night in Beverly Hills, the sheets came off and Wilson saw the car he had already committed to buy. It did not disappoint.
“It looked like a spaceship,” Wilson explained. “I really liked the flow and the smoothness and I think it’ll age really well. I was so excited to put my foot into 903 hp. I have no idea what that will be like.”
He’ll find out early next year. The P1 should be available in late 2013, but all owners must fly to England for a custom driver’s seat; with cornering forces sustained at over 2g, McLaren treats the final delivery process like fitting one of their Formula One drivers. Due to Wilson’s baseball commitments, he probably won’t be capable of flying to McLaren’s factory until November, making a deliver date of his P1 likely to be in the spring of 2014.
How much will he drive it? “I’ll take it out to southern California on a weekend and rip off like 400 miles,” he says. “It won’t be my daily driver, of course, but I’ll definitely put some miles on it. I grew up with humble roots and I just can’t imagine it sitting in the garage. This will be the gnarliest car ever.”The purchase of a McLaren P1 hypercar is the fulfillment of Wilson’s childhood dreams. It might not be the F1 from his bedroom wall, but the P1 appears to be every bit its 21st-century successor. Come next spring, Wilson will truly have it all. “I’ve been waiting my whole life,” Wilson says, “to own a car like this.”
NEW YORK (AP) – BMW is giving fans of its 3-Series more room and better gas mileage in two important variations of the small luxury sports sedan that it’s rolling out at the New York International Auto Show last week.
The German automaker will formally unveil a new 3 Series Gran Turismo, which has a bigger distance between the front and rear wheels to create more rear-seat legroom and cargo space in the trunk. The company also will unveil the 328d in the U.S., a 3-Series equipped with a diesel enginethat should get more than 40 miles per gallon on the highway.
The 3-Series is the top-selling luxury car in the U.S. BMW sold almost 99,000 3-Series sedans, coupes, and wagons last year, up more than 6 percent from 2011. Luxury automakers overall sold more than 1 million cars in the U.S. last year, an increase of almost 12 percent over 2011.
The Gran Turismo will be available in the fall at U.S. dealers, while the 328d will arrive at showrooms later this year.
Here are the highlights of the two vehicles:
UNDER THE HOOD: The Gran Turismo has the same engines and transmissions as the standard 3-Series: a 2-liter four-cylinder engine or a 3-liter inline 6-cylinder. All-wheel-drive is standard. The 328d will have a four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine that puts out 180 horsepower. BMW says the car can go from zero to 60 in about 7.2 seconds.
OUTSIDE: The Gran Turismo has a sloped back and tailgate, and is 4.3 inches longer between the front and rear wheels than a standard 3-Series sedan. The 328d looks the same as the standard 3-Series except for a diesel badge.
INSIDE: The 328d’s interior will look similar to the standard 3-Series, while the five-passenger Gran Turismo will have a little more back-seat legroom and a trunk that’s one cubic foot larger than the regular 3-Series.
GAS MILEAGE: BMW says preliminary estimates show the diesel model gets 45 mpg on the highway. City mileage estimates weren’t available. The Gran Turismo should get about what a standard 3-series gets: up to 36 mpg on the highway with a manual transmission and a four-cylinder engine and 33 mpg on the highway with the six cylinder motor and automatic transmission.
PRICE: About $40,000 to start for the diesel. The Gran Turismo 328i starts at just over $42,300. A 320i now starts at just under $33,000, while a 335i begins at just over $45,000.
CHEERS: The 328d brings great gas mileage and performance to the 3-Series, which already was strong in both categories. The Gran Turismo 328i promises a more comfortable ride for passengers on longer trips.
JEERS: The diesel and the Gran Turismo are pricey compared to some of the standard models.
But the big news at the press event was a high-performance Camaro Z/28, created with a singular focus on track driving. The sense of excitement during the unveiling was overwhelming as the car roared onstage to hoots and applause.
The new Z/28 is part of General Motors’ big push to create closer ties between motorsports and production vehicles, a strategy implemented by Mark Reuss, president of General Motors North America and an avid racing fan and car enthusiast. The Camaro Z/28 extends GM’s focus beyond IndyCar and NASCAR to both amateur and professional road-racing series, such as those offered by the Sports Car Club of America, Grand-Am and the American LeMans Series (the latter two will merge in 2014 and be called United SportsCar Racing).
For 2014, the Range Rover Sport follows the track set forth by its big brother – the Range Rover. Switching to an all-aluminum unibody, shedding 800 lbs., provides the fastest, most fuel efficient Sport yet, and it debuted last night during a glitzy premier in New York City, being driven by James Bond himself.
Daniel Craig piloted the machine down a closed street in downtown New York, right onto the event floor, where he promptly got out (to ear-popping cheers and flashbulbs), straightened his collar, and left – without saying a word – leaving the Range Rover Sport to absorb all the glory.
The 2013 Range Rover, which went on sale late last year, boasted similar weight-loss figures to the new Sport, taking the driving dynamics and capability to new heights. Visually, the Sport appears a blur between the larger Range Rover and the smaller Evoque; the front-end screams Range whereas the rear portrays Evoque. It seems to have lost a little identity, and while still looking good, perhaps misses the sportiness its nametag suggests.
Under the hood, its business as usual, but the lightweight aluminum body ensures speeds akin to a Jaguar rather than Land Rover. The supercharged V-8 still delivers 510 hp but sprints to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds, close to a second faster than the outgoing model. The V-6, conversely, reduces horsepower from 375 to 340, but despite that, 0-60 occurs 0.3 seconds faster at 6.9 seconds.
While exact fuel economy numbers have not been provided, expect both engines – especially the V-6 – to show sizeable improvements, somewhere in the range of 24 percent. Adding to the quest for mpgs, the Sport’s hydraulic power steering has been replaced by a variable assisted electric method, and a Start Stop system comes standard. Additionally, the SUV’s new sleek shape cuts 8-percent off the drag figures, complimenting the aggressive weight shedding.
Unsurprisingly, the 2014 Range Rover Sport will be loaded with the latest technologies, such as Terrain Response 2, Dynamic Response and (a Land Rover first) Torque Vectoring. It’ll also sport optional third row seating, although by Land Rover’s own admission, that option should be considered only for “temporary” use. It does, however, not breach upon cargo space, which shows improvement over the outgoing model.
Pricing starts at $63,495 for the V-6 SE model, $68,495 for the V-6 HSE, $79,995 for the V-8 Supercharged and $93,295 for the fully loaded V-8 Autobiography model. While Range Rovers are not “cheap” by nature, they do offer unsurpassed driving capabilities justifying its cost. The 2014 Range Rover Sport appears to be no exception at stirring without shaking.
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