Wednesday, January 30, 2013

2014 BMW M3 photos by Car Magazine? Just some renderings

Latest issue of UK publication CAR Magazine features the 2014 BMW M3 on their cover. The British folks claim that this is the real deal but knowing their track record, we’re almost certain these are just some really well executed renderings based on tips from insiders, spy photos and….common sense.
With the 3 Series GT launch scheduled for GenevaAuto Show, we’re wondering if the Bavarians will try to steal the show with the new M3 or simply let the Gran Turismo draw all the attention at their stand. Regardless, the F80 M3 will make its debut in the fall at Frankfurt, but it remains to be seen if in a concept or production ready form.
The renderings below show the F80 M3 having its front-end heavily influenced by the new M6, with two large air intakes, air curtains and extremely aggressive, road-focused look.
When coming to market in 2014, the F80 BMW M3 will be powered by an inline-six engine. The engine of choice is a newly developed unit that is said to be rated at around 450 horsepower. The new M3 is expected to be slightly faster than the current E90 generation thanks to a lower weight.
The engine is mated to a double-clutch transmission 7-speed transmission, but we expect to see amanual transmission for U.S. customers.
More on the M3 in the upcoming weeks!

Monday, January 21, 2013

BMW i seals global partnership deal for customer-friendly electric mobility

BMW i continues to forge ahead with its strategy for customer-friendly electric mobility, which has now led to it striking a far-reaching partnership with Schneider Electric and the electric mobility service provider The Mobility House (TMH).
The partnership agreement includes checking the electrical installation in customers’ homes, supplying and assembling the wallbox charging point, as well as maintenance and other services. This will allow future owners of a BMW i3 or BMW i8 to hook up theirvehicle safely and quickly recharge it while at home or in the office.
The partnership arrangements help fulfil the overriding objective of providing customer-friendly andefficient charging facilities by the time the BMW i3 is launched that will allow for recharging in the comfort of the customer’s own garage. The BMW i3 will be the first electric vehicle on the market to be purpose-designed as such from the outset, and is slated for launch in late 2013.
As Alexander Efthimiou, Head of Product Management for Electric Powertrain Modular Systems and After-Sales, is keen to explain: “With BMW i, we are adopting an all-embracing approach to electric mobility, meaning that we will be offering more than just the purchase of the BMW i3. Over the course of the numerous pilot tests we staged worldwide with electric vehicles, we listened to our customers very carefully, and will be able to offer them a ‘360° Electric’ concept as soon as the i3 is launched, comprising solutions that cater to all the requirements of future electric motorists. We see the professional installation of the wallbox for charging the BMW i3 and i8 as one of the key factors for the successful marketing of electric vehicles. We are delighted to have Schneider Electric and The Mobility House, the two most internationally experienced partners in the field of electric mobility, on board to help implement our strategy.”
“This alliance will see Schneider Electric offering BMW customers an efficient, customer-friendly and lasting infrastructure for charging,” says Philippe Delorme, Executive Vice President, Partner Business at Schneider Electric. “BMW and Schneider Electric share the same vision for electric mobility, and we are certain that our collaboration together points the way ahead for the future.”
Thomas Raffeiner, CEO and founder of The Mobility House, is similarly convinced: “BMW i is turning electric mobility into a serious alternative for customers around the world. The systematic pursuit of an all-embracing approach when it comes to electric mobility will provide some much-needed stimulus in Germany and beyond, and will further increase the technology’s acceptance. With BMW as our partner, we are implementing this objective in the various markets and offering the customer a one-stop shop for tailor-made electric mobility solutions.”

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

U.S Debut – BMW 320i

The 1 series is not the entry into the BMW brand in North America. Rather, it is a niche vehicle, not unlike the Z4, meant to bring in a segment of the enthusiast market that wasn’t serviced by the rest of the lineup.
The entry into the BMW brand in the US has always been the 3 series, and as the 3 series has grown in size, power and features, it’s affordability has declined. BMW has recognized this and has introduced the 320i (let’s think of it as the successor to the 318i). This is the car that a younger buyer can stretch the budget to get. It will deliver the essence of the Ultimate Driving Machine at a price that makes sense.
So what do you give up when you decide on a 320i as opposed to a 328i? Well, a bit of horsepower. The 320i makes do with 180 HP using a turbo and gasoline direct injection. You don’t however have to make do with a four speed automatic, it comes with the same eight speed gearbox offered in other BMWs.You don’t have to give up the wonderful driving dynamics that are the hallmark of BMW.
One feature that will attract buyers is the frugality that the 320i will deliver – it will offergreat gas mileage and also, thanks to EfficientDynamics also very low emissions. And the 320i offers, as standard, the ability to take advantage of LTE mobile internet.
There is a new generation of buyers attracted to premium automobiles and the BMW 320i will offer them an opportunity to enjoy the essence of BMW’s driving experience. BMW hopes that they’ll go on and reward the brand with future purchases. Who knows, the 20 something 320i buyer, may become a 50 something 7er buyer. At least that’s the hope.
Base price comes in at $32,500 and of course that climbs as soon as you start checking boxes on the order sheet for options. It will also be available with xDrive. One very near competitor, the Mercedes-Benz C250 has a base price of $35,350 offering a 201 HP 1.8L turbo engine mated to a seven speed automatic gearbox driving the rear wheels (like the 320i). Audi offers it’s A4 with a 2.0L turbo engine but couples it with a CVT in a front wheel drive configuration.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2014 Mitsubishi Outlander and Outlander Sport Limited Edition unveiled in L.A. [video]

Outlander will be critical to the company's success in America

Mitsubishi has unveiled the Outlander and Outlander Sport Limited Edition at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
First up, the 2014 Outlander has an evolutionary design with a distinctive front fascia that incorporates a slender grille and angular headlights. There's also upward sweeping character lines, clear taillights and a tailgate-mounted spoiler.
The entry-level ES comes nicely equipped with air conditioning, power windows / locks and a six-speaker audio system. Moving up to the SE adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, a rearview camera and a premium audio system with a 6-inch touchscreen display. Lastly, the range-topping GT variant is equipped with HID headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers and faux wood trim.
Under the hood, two engines are available. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder produces 166 bhp (124 kW) and 162 lb-ft (219 Nm) of torque, while the 3.0-liter V6 churns out 224 bhp (167 kW) and 215 lb-ft (291 Nm) of torque. The four-cylinder engine is connected to a continuously variable transmission, while the V6 is paired to a six-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is optional.
On the other hand, the Outlander Sport Limited Edition celebrates Mitsubishi's 30th anniversary in North America. It has a unique exterior with special alloy wheels and black accents on the mirrors, front bumper and wheel arches. Interior changes are limited, but customers can order two-tone Dove Grey and Black leather seats.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Spied: 2014 BMW i8

Next year BMW will introduce their first hybrid sportscar but in the meantime testing of several prototypes continue in Europe.
Dubbed BMW i8, the sporty two-door model uses two different drive systems – an electric motor and an internal combustion engine. The electric motor is not a secondary power source, but rather an equal partner of the internal 1.5 liter three cylinder petrol engine. The engine is mounted at the rear and drives via a dual-clutch gearbox.
The car’s minimized weight, low center of gravity and finely judged balance, coupled with a combined system output of up to 354 horsepower.
A 0-100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration time comes under five seconds, with a combined fuel consumption in the European test cycle of less than 3 liters/100 km (78 MPG) and average real fuel consumption of between five and seven liters (33 – 47 MPG).
Design wise, the BMW i8 makes use of the layering technique that allows BMW designer to fluently combine different exterior parts, giving the car an equally futuristic and dynamic look. (Here is our interview with the designs of the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Concept).
BMW design chief Adrian van Hooydonk says “layered surfacing” creates a more cohesive and harmonious appearance while also optimizing air flow. Complementing the i8′s futuristic exterior design with its “bird wings doors,” the interior of the car has a flowing instrument panel and unique seating arrangement.
BMW i8 will go to market in 2014 and we anticipate a base price point around $160,000.

Friday, January 4, 2013


2013 Mercedes-Benz GL450 vs. 2012 Mercedes-Benz E350 4Matic Wagon

Battle of the Seven-Seat Benzes

Sometime around the mid-2000s, Mercedes-Benz decided Americans needed not just one, but two luxurious seven-seat family-haulers. First on the scene was the wedge-shaped R-Class that Benz described as a "Grand Sports Tourer," though it was widely derided as a minivan with an identity crisis. Next up was the boxy GL, which is the best-selling three-row luxury SUV in the United States. In fact, we just crowned the new GL as our 2013 SUV of the Year, marking the second time the big Benz has won the award (the first-gen GL took it back in 2007.) As senior features editor Jonny Lieberman summed up, "Mercedes has built an SUV that's better than the rest. Not just in its competitive class: The new, second-generation GL is the best new SUV on the market, period, and the winner of our prize."

While the R-Class didn't fare as well (it was pulled from the American market), we're putting the spotlight on another three-row Benz that's been around much longer than the GL or the R: the E-Class wagon. Most buyers won't cross-shop the GL and the E-Class wagon, but to discover what GL buyers are missing, we spent quality time with both all-wheel-drive three-row Benzes.

Starting from the Back -- Advantage: 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL450

 Many kids grow up with minivans and sedans, but the lucky ones spend time riding in the third-row jump seat of an E-Class wagon. The seats, which are located in the cargo area and face backward, provide a cocoon-like environment where the rear hatch window gives a unique outside view. With headroom and legroom limited, the seats are truly meant for kids. And with passengers in the back, there's very little room left for cargo. Gear for soccer or baseball practice may fit fine, but necessities for a day at the beach might be pushing it. (A roof-mounted storage box would be a possible workaround.) On the upside, there's a respectable 29.0 cubic feet of space behind the second row when the third-row jump seat is stowed, and 57.4 cubic feet when all rear seats are folded away. On the other hand, the GL's more conventional third row seems spacious and welcoming enough for passengers as tall as Big Bird. Better yet, the seats fold and unfold at the push of a button, and there's space for a few items in the cargo area, albeit just 19 cubic feet. Folding the third-row seats down provides 49.4 cubic feet, while stashing away both rows opens up a cavernous 93.8 cubic feet. Sure, the wagon's third row may be a fun place to be if you're a kid, but the GL is simply more comfortable and practical, and therefore wins this round.

Handling - Advantage: Mercedes-Benz E350 wagon

 As expected, both Benzes are comfortable and smooth cruisers out on the normal roads. The bigger Benz, however, surprised us on our figure-eight course by achieving a time of 28.5 seconds at 0.56 g average, though we should note that our GL450 tester was equipped with a long (and pricey) list of high-tech suspension goodies including active dampers, air springs, and an Active Roll Cornering System. But the E350 wagon posted a quicker time of 26.6 seconds at 0.67 g average and did so without much of the GL's suspension magic. And while the GL450 provides a higher seating position, visibility is slightly better in the E350 wagon, making it much easier to maneuver around texting tweens in a mall parking lot or to stay within SoCal's narrow freeway lanes. The GL450's heft and monster engine means it's thirstier than the E350 wagon's EPA-rated 19/27 mpg, though the diesel-powered GL350 is rated at 19/26 mpg.

Performance -- Advantage: Mercedes-Benz GL450

 On paper, a 0-to-60 mph drag race between the GL450 and E350 wagon seems like an even match. The GL weighs a whopping 5876 pounds, but has a strong and efficient 4.7-liter, twin-turbo V-8 churning out 362 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. The E350's 3.5-liter V-6, rated at 302 hp and 273 lb-ft, is down two cylinders (and two turbos) but lugs around 1517 fewer pounds than the GL, thanks to the wagon's relatively svelte 4359-pound curb weight. On the track, the GL450 reached 60 mph in 6 seconds flat, barely beating the E wagon by 0.2 seconds. Not only is the GL surprisingly fast, but it sounds quite good, too -- drive with the windows and sunroof open and the combination of the deep exhaust growl and faint turbo whine provides a strangely entertaining sense that you're driving a refined city bus. The E350's V-6, which may be tweaked in an upcoming E-Class refresh, is quiet in most situations, but doesn't sound so great when pushed hard.

Looks and Luxury -- Advantage: Mercedes-Benz E350 wagon

 If Bentley ever makes a three-row SUV, the interior might look something like our GL450 tester, which was equipped with a special Mercedes Designo Package. Indeed, it's a pricey option, but you get what you pay for: suede-like headliner, leather-wrapped dashboard and door panels, and seating surfaces wrapped in premium white leather with black diamond-patterned contrast stitching. Even without the Designo Package, the GL's interior design and build quality are noticeably better than the first-gen model. Exterior changes are subtle. It retains the outgoing model's solid and boxy look, but sports a few tweaks including a bigger grille and more chrome-like accents.
  If the GL is big and flashy, then the E350 wagon is comforting and familiar. Details like the analog clock occupying the left side of the instrument panel and the hood-mounted three-pointed star ornament visible from the driver's seat are longtime Benz hallmarks not found on the GL. Buttons and switch gear are purposefully arranged, while the diagonal stitching on the door panels and ambient light provide just enough character and luxury. Exterior styling on this lower-volume vehicle is handsome, and if past Benz wagons are any indication, there's no doubt this model will still look great decades from now. We're not sure how gracefully the GL will age, so we're giving this round to the E350.

Value - Tie

 In base form, the E and GL provide the typical niceties one would expect in a Benz -- dual climate control, sunroof, power tailgate, heated front seats, rearview camera, etc. Both also offer similar option packages and a la carte items such as navigation, panoramic sunroof, and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system. Between the two, the E-Class carries the lowest starting price, at $58,605. Price of entry for the GL450 is $64,805. It'd be easy to declare the E350 wagon as the winner of this round since it's the cheapest, but some families truly need room for seven adult-sized passengers and the ability to tow a boat or traverse rocky roads, and for them the GL's premium is worth it. Owners whose third-row seats will usually be occupied by small children might be better served with the less expensive E350 wagon.


These two seven-seat Benzes each have their strengths. While the SUOTY-winning GL is the sales leader, we think the E350 wagon deserves more consideration. Though we'd like to crown the E350 wagon as the winner, its not-quite-as-functional third-row seat gives an edge to the bulkier but impressive GL. Still, we're thankful that Benz hasn't attempted to do anything funky to its wagon, like the hunchbacked hatch BMW 5 Series GT or the pseudo off-road treatment on the Audi Allroad and Volvo XC70. Although the E and GL serve in completely different segments, the bottom line is that Mercedes-Benz has two solid and distinct family-haulers that rear passengers can look forward (or backward) to riding in.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2012 BMW M6 Convertible review notes

Better looks to go with all the power
2012 BMW M6 convertible
From the outside, this generation of BMW's big M6 is much prettier than the last one. And it's not just because the last one might have been the ugliest car that BMW has ever sold. No, this is a genuinely good looking car. It's bulgy and aggressive in a way that its competitors are not, and I like it. It's not wild or anything, just exciting enough to make the price point seem slightly less ridiculous. Like all convertibles with coupe origins, the overall appearance suffers from the lack of a roofline. In person, if not on-screen, the look of the M6 coupe grows on you. I'm afraid I'm still not old enough to like convertibles.
Inside, BMW has the leather thing down pat. The leather is soft, supple and almost rubbery. The stuff could be made into a great pair of hot pants.
This generation of iDrive is far from intuitive, but BMW will tell you that if all you drive are BMWs, you'll start to find it intuitive. Which is obviously not what “intuitive” is.
Still, once you learn it, it works for the most part, which among driver/technology interfaces puts iDrive near the top of the heap. It's also a huge improvement over previous generations.
The process by which a driver puts the car in park is so hard to intuit that I actually had to look it up in the manual the first time I drove it. Doing it wrong will result in the ringing of countless bells and the flashing of warning lights, with little graphics that tell you you're doing it wrong but without instructions on how to do it right. And, as crazy as it is to say this in 2012, you're going to have to dedicate some time to learning how to operate this thing. In that sense, it's a little antiquated. But I'd imagine that most of the people who buy it will expect to have to learn how to use it.
And that's kind of a theme with the M6. Mechanically and visually, it's a wonderful grand tourer, but the electronics are mostly useless or obtrusive or both.
Over the course of the last few years, the Germans have been building increasingly powerful and fast cars. Which means that, in the wrong hands, they can be dangerous. So, rather than let rich people kill themselves, they leave the important stuff up to the car. Get used to it. You want 560 hp? Be ready to put the robots in charge of using it responsibly.
But the robots are only about 99 percent perfect. For example, with the traction control in its default setting, the M6 almost killed me. I was pulling into traffic on a damp city street and, when I hit the gas, the car lurched into the intersection. As traffic bore down on me from either direction, the rear wheels slipped and power was cut automatically, leaving me nearly stationary in the intersection. I hastily turned into a parking lot.
If you want to love this car, you need to make peace with your mechanical overlords.
You'll also have to understand that it's a GT and not a sports car. The first thing the driver notices is how heavy it seems. The M6 weighs 900 pounds more than a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee. So, while BMW spent a lot of time and money making it feel agile -- and it does -- it's heavy. It's really heavy. No matter how agile or capable it is, it is still huge so it will not feel like a sports car. The engine is magnificent, but it's sterilized by its automatic transmission.
But most of it's OK in the end. It's not a track car. It's a crosser of continents, built to make long distances seem shorter. And that's exactly what it does.
In the tradition of other great GTs, it makes sustaining big speed effortless. It has power to spare and a great big gas tank. It looks good and has room for two people and some luggage. In my mind, it's the second- or third-best big GT car on the market.
It's very good, great even, but it's not quite a hero.
NEWS EDITOR GREG MIGLIORE: The 2012 M6 convertible is a brilliant machine that exudes a muscular demeanor with its appearance and drive character. It strikes the proper feelings deep inside me because this is precisely the breed of car I like: large, powerful, rear-wheel drive and confident. It has a presence on the road without being arrogant. The power is strong, but civilized. The seven-speed is a smooth, calming partner for the monster V8. The chassis feels sporty, and the steering has a proper, athletic weight when the big car is pushed; still, the ride is almost always comfortable and seldom perturbed by road imperfections.
The engine has plenty of punch and emits a raw, intoxicating sound. The quad pipes in back are snazzy, and most would say the M6 looks and feels like an athlete. It's a stocky one perhaps, but in shape nevertheless.
The cabin is appointed in dark, almost sinister fashion. The materials look and feel cool and classy to me. Everything is within reach, and it feels like a cockpit. I loved this steering wheel. Large and leather-clad, it felt slightly old-school, interactive and sporty. Drop the top, and on a commute with temperatures in the 60s, it's a cathartic cruiser.