Posts from ‘BMW’
In an age in which the heroes of auto racing are often backed by big money and equally big egos, LeMons racers are backed by pocket change and a flair for the absurd.
By the way, don’t in any way confuse “LeMons” (as in lemons) with “Le Mans” (as in the famed road race in France), though that’s of course the play on words the organizers intended. Whereas teams spend millions of dollars to field a Le Mans car, teams are supposed to spend no more than $500 to field a LeMons car.
Yep; you read that right: $500. The rules state that you can deduct any parts sold off a donor car to arrive at that figure (such as interior pieces and windows you don’t need), and in time-honored racing tradition, there’s probably some cheating in this regard. But for the most part, the cars start out as bona fide beaters.
Now, that $500 doesn’t include safety equipment, which the rules regard as tires, brakes, and the mandatory roll cage and fire extinguisher. Nor does it include the encouraged “cosmetics,” which can run the gamut from sloppy paint schemes to outrageous costumes. And yes, we mean for the cars.
Through their logos, many automakers have created a dazzling world of wonder. In logo land, you’ll discover roman gods, prancing horses, and mystical beasts—as well as religious themes such as the Holy Trinity and the Christian Crusades. It’s a universe of stars and planets, ships and rockets, diamonds and domination. One emblem, which is simply a crooked letter, symbolizes a trustworthy handshake.
Disappointingly, such companies as Volkswagen (whose symbol is VW) and Ford (Ford) have refused to join in the fun. But many of the other logos have fascinating meanings. Let’s explore. . . .
The Acura logo plays with our minds a little. Most observers think the logo is a stylized letter A, for Acura, just like Honda’s logo is a stylized H for Honda. But according to Honda (Acura’s parent company), the image is a caliper, a design instrument used for measuring thickness.
The Alfa Romeo badge pays tribute to its home city, Milan, Italy. It features the city’s coat of arms, which symbolizes Milan’s two ruling families during medieval times. On the left is a red cross, a Christian symbol of heraldry that represents the right of a person to bear arms. On the right, a serpent devours a human being, interpreted by some as a Muslim—that is, the enemy of the Christians during the Crusades.
The well-optioned 2013 BMW M5 test car we just had through the Consumer Guide test fleet carried a sticker price of $103,995. Even for a 560-horsepower super-sedan, that’s a lot of coin. For that money, there had better be some special styling features inside and out to distinguish an M5 from a “garden-variety” 550i. The legendary GM stylist Harley Earl referred to exclusive design touches like these as a “visual receipt” for the purchase price of a vehicle.
BMW has done a nice job on this front with the M5. Check it out in the pics below:
There was a long period where the words sexy and sedan simply didn’t belong in the same sentence. Some might argue that the pair can describe classic-era Cords and Duesenbergs, but wouldn’t you still rather have the 2-door version?
Today, there are any number of sedans, even popularly priced ones, whose styling can be considered “sexy”—popping instantly to mind is the current Kia Optima. But that’s been a relatively recent transformation, and following are some of the cars that strike me as having paved the way.
If you weren’t car cognizant in the mid-1980s, you may not understand the revelation that was the Ford Taurus. Splashing into a sea of squared-off sedans, it introduced the “jellybean” profile quickly adopted by almost every other manufacturer. Although it was nice-looking and certainly trendsetting, “sexy” it wasn’t—at least not in base form. But that accolade could be given to the first high-performance SHO version, which, like the BMW 5-Series of a decade earlier, helped realign people’s stance on sedans.
In the last five years, many cars, trucks, SUVs, and minivans have come and gone in the U.S. retail landscape. Many made indelible impressions. Others slipped softly from our consciousness. It’s the latter that I wish to celebrate. Here are five vehicles from the last five years that you either forgot were sold in the U.S. or never knew existed.
2009-2011 BMW 335d
This entry from BMW kept its talents hidden very well. On the outside, it looked like any other 3-Series sedan. Under the hood, though, was a rocket ship waiting to be unleashed. The 335d employed a 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder turbodiesel engine producing 265 horsepower and a massive 425 pound-feet of torque. For comparison, the V8 engine found in the BMW M3 manages “just” 295 pound-feet at a much higher engine speed, 3900 rpm versus the 335d’s comparatively paltry 1750. We put that power to good use during our test drives, yet the cars returned nearly 33 mpg. Though no hard data is available, it’s been said that BMW sold fewer than 2,000 of the 335d during its brief run. A diesel 3-Series will return to the U.S. for the 2014 model year: a 4-cylinder with a less-impressive, but still meaty, 180 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque.
Shortly after obtaining my driver’s license in the early 1970s, I rushed out and bought a ’64 Olds Cutlass coupe (for $50), at least in part so that I wouldn’t have to tool around in my Dad’s grandpa-green F85 sedan. Back then, driving a 4-door (or—heaven forbid—a station wagon) meant you were borrowing your parents’ car, and that was decidedly uncool. Absolutely no teenaged car guy I knew ever bought a 4-door with his own money.
Today, that’s no longer the case. Some of the hottest cars embraced by the younger generation are sedans (witness the Subaru WRX and Mitsu Evo), and there’s seemingly no stigma attached to having four convenient doors.
I’ve often wondered when that transformation took place. It was probably gradual, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it began with the BMW 530i introduced in 1975. In those dark and dismal days, this BMW made its mark by being a comparatively strong performer, and it quickly became the darling of the motoring mags. The fact that it was a sedan only added to its “Q-ship” mystique. And I begrudgingly had to admit that it was a pretty nice-looking car. At least for a (wince) 4-door.
I just spent the weekend in BMW’s awesome 2013 M5. I say awesome because the car accelerates about as rapidly as anything I have ever driven and is capable of reaching absurd speeds, space permitting.
So what’s the problem? The problem is that I really didn’t enjoy driving the car. And, after careful consideration, I blame my ambivalence on the M5’s outsized performance potential—or more correctly, the compromises made to achieve that potential.
Our 6-speed manual-transmission test car suffers from finicky clutch engagement, which complicates low-speed driving. Additionally, throttle response is less than precise, possibly a result of turbo lag. But be it lag or just temperamental German throttle mapping, the result is a car that is only rewarding to drive in full-throttle bursts—and those are complicated by the car’s obnoxious and overbearing traction-control system.
The other stuff that should be great is great. The brakes feel capable of stopping a locomotive if needed, and the steering is amazingly sharp. Likewise, few cars feel this planted and purposeful on the highway. Still, this car is missing something.
With new-car prices ever on the rise, the average new-car buyer might find it nigh on impossible to enter the luxury market. Hold on to that dream, dear readers, because here are five vehicles you can buy right now that allow you to have that premium feel without too much of a hit to your bank accounts.
While some examples in this list are from mainstream brands, their ambiance and driving experiences are decidedly more upscale. As such, we at Consumer Guide place them into our “Premium” categories. The only other “rule” is that these vehicles must carry a sticker price of less than $40,000, including destination fee. The figures listed here do not include options, but several of these vehicles can be equipped with extra-cost items and still come in under the above-mentioned threshold.
Acura TL Base
Its look remains polarizing, but under its skin is a premium-midsize sedan that’s powerful, has a solid ride/handling balance, and comes with a lot of features for the money. While I would have loved to use the sportier TL SH-AWD model, its price creeps just past our self-imposed $40,000 barrier. Still, the Base model is no slouch, thanks to its 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine and slick 6-speed automatic transmission. As a final bonus, TL benefits from parent company Honda’s reputation for reliability and strong resale value.
Three BMW vehicles are making their first appearances in the United States at the 2013 New York Auto Show. The company is also announcing some major updates to its ConnectedDrive telematics suite.
The trio of vehicles includes one concept and two production cars. The “pie in the sky” vehicle is the Concept Active Tourer. This small wagon pairs a plug-in electric motor with a 3-cylinder gasoline engine that BMW says will achieve a combined 95 mpg. The roof is made of a composite glass panel that allows users to darken or lighten its tinting with the push of a button. It’s a similar concept to the MAGIC SKY roof found on the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class and SLK-Class convertibles.
Those interested in more “realistic” vehicles can check out the 2014 BMW 3-Series Gran Turismo. This 4-door fastback has a longer wheelbase than its sedan counterpart, which allows for more passenger and cargo room. Think of this car as a shrunken version of the brand’s 5-Series Gran Turismo. Powertrains will come from the 3-Series sedan and include a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder and 3.0-liter turbocharged inline 6-cylinder. Though not specifically mentioned, we would expect this car to offer the choice of rear-wheel drive or BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive. The 2014 BMW 3-Series Gran Turismo goes on sale in late summer, with pricing to be announced closer to that time.
In an effort to make its most popular car more affordable, BMW unveiled an entry-level version of its 3-Series Sedan at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. Also on display was a preview of the company’s next-generation compact coupe, dubbed the Concept 4-Series.
The 2013 BMW 320i becomes the new gateway to the company’s sedan lineup. It has the same 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine as the more costly 328i, but the 320i outputs 60 fewer horses (180 vs. 240). The 320i will be available with rear-wheel drive or BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive. All versions include an 8-speed automatic transmission. A 6-speed manual is optional on the rear-drive 320i.
Though it has less power than the 328i, BMW estimates that the rear-drive 320i will do 0-60 mph in 7.1 seconds, regardless of transmission. Though final EPA numbers were not available at the time of this writing, BMW projects that rear-drive models will achieve ratings of 22 mpg city/34 mpg highway with the manual transmission and 23/33 with the automatic. The AWD 320i could see a 22/33 score.