The Truth About Cars » BMW http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 28 Jul 2015 21:00:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » BMW http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Chart Of The Day: BMW 4-Series Is Selling Almost As Often As The 3-Series http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-bmw-4-series-selling-almost-often-3-series/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-bmw-4-series-selling-almost-often-3-series/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 13:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1118073 In June 2015, BMW USA finally began providing a breakdown in their monthly sales report for the 3-Series and 4-Series. We’re grateful. You’ll recall that in prior generations, the 4-Series was the 3-Series. The 3-Series was the 3-Series, too, but the 4-Series cars were versions of the 3-Series with two doors. The story is still […]

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bmw usa sales chart

In June 2015, BMW USA finally began providing a breakdown in their monthly sales report for the 3-Series and 4-Series. We’re grateful.

You’ll recall that in prior generations, the 4-Series was the 3-Series. The 3-Series was the 3-Series, too, but the 4-Series cars were versions of the 3-Series with two doors.

The story is still the same, except now you can get a version of the 4-Series with four doors and a hatch. You can get a 3-Series with four doors and a hatch, too, except it’s ugly. The 4-Series with four doors and a hatch is a decent looker.

They call it the Gran Coupe — coupe meaning a two-door car with a fixed roof. True, the 4-Series Gran Coupe has four doors, but the 4-Series nomenclature indicates the presence of two doors. So they run with it, just like they do with the 6-Series Gran Coupe in the interest of consistency, which is a four-door car with a trunk, not a hatch, to make sure consistency doesn’t run rampant.

2012 BMW 3-Series sedan

Forgive the digression. BMW’s naming scheme creates a need for background. Regardless, June presented BMW with 6,891 sales of the 3-Series (sedan, Gran Turismo, and wagon) and nearly that many copies of the 4-Series (coupe, convertible, and Gran Coupe). 4-Series sales jumped 69 percent to 6,625 units, just 266 sales shy of the 3-Series, sales of which slid 10 percent.

40 percent of BMW brand volume in the United States is generated by these two model lines. Throughout the first half of 2015, their sales figures weren’t nearly so similar, as the above chart attests. But the U.S. market isn’t the only one where the figures for the 4-Series are beginning to approach those of the 3-Series. In Canada, after outselling the 4-Series by 75 percent through the first five months of 2015, the 3-Series was only 36-percent more popular in June, a gap of only 224 sales.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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BMW M Customers Surrender ‘Save The Manuals’ War http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/save-manuals-give-bmw-m-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/save-manuals-give-bmw-m-cars/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 22:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1124809 If the fight to save manuals is going to continue for much longer, it had better make gains in one of its historically important battlegrounds. Only around 1 in 4 new BMW M3 models have a manual transmission, according to the manufacturer. That’s a steep drop from the reported 53 percent of buyers who opted to row […]

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The new BMW M5. (09/2011)

If the fight to save manuals is going to continue for much longer, it had better make gains in one of its historically important battlegrounds.

Only around 1 in 4 new BMW M3 models have a manual transmission, according to the manufacturer. That’s a steep drop from the reported 53 percent of buyers who opted to row their own in the last-generation M3 sedan — and the news for the manual M4 doesn’t get much better.

Buyers are opting for a manual transmission in the hardtop M4 only about 17 percent of the time, according to BMW. That’s down from 40 percent of the previous generation’s M3 Coupe buyers, according to reports.

BMW won’t comment specifically on the production numbers and the transmission splits, which have circulated on forums in two different forms. Last year, Road and Track reported that 45 percent of every last-generation M3 was a manual.

Thomas Plucinsky, who is manager of BMW’s corporate communications in the United States, said the production totals “sounded right,” but wouldn’t specify if the transmission splits were correct and added that the automaker wouldn’t correct reports — even if they were wrong.

A BMW spokesman added further that the overall mix for the U.S. for the last-generation M3 was closer to 25 or 30 percent.

The final production mix according to the outside reports is closer to 44 percent before production of the convertible M3 ended.

The purported numbers by other outlets, which come from two different sources, represent a substantial decline for one of the few remaining bastions of manual transmissions: European sportscars.

Earlier this month, head of BMW’s M division Frank van Meel said that the future for manual M cars from BMW “doesn’t look bright.

“The DCT and auto ’boxes are faster and they have better fuel consumption,” he told Autocar.

In the United States, only roughly 1 in 10 M4 Convertibles are fitted with the six-speed manual gearboxes. Toward the end of its lifecycle, nearly half of the last generation of M3 Convertibles were fitted with manual transmissions.

“We have a very enthusiastic following for our brand, the reality of it is we make manual transmissions for this market. We see that our customers want manuals, we’re willing to fight for manuals for this market — as long as there’s a good business case we’ll make them,” Plucinsky said.

When asked if the number of manual transmissions sold today represented a good business case, Plucinsky added: “Today, yes it is.”

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The Small Luxury Convertible Is Probably Dead http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/the-small-luxury-convertible-is-probably-dead/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/the-small-luxury-convertible-is-probably-dead/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 12:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1123801 I think the time has come to wave goodbye to one of the auto industry’s most fickle segments: the small luxury convertible. Once formerly strong and full of life, the segment now consists of a bunch of cars that leave people asking: Do they still make that? Allow me to explain what I mean. Back […]

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I think the time has come to wave goodbye to one of the auto industry’s most fickle segments: the small luxury convertible. Once formerly strong and full of life, the segment now consists of a bunch of cars that leave people asking: Do they still make that?

Allow me to explain what I mean. Back in 1989, Mazda came out with the Miata and taught everyone that maybe the two-seater convertible wasn’t quite dead yet. So all the luxury automakers decided they wanted a piece of that sweet droptop action, and they all scrambled to the drawing board to make expensive Miatas with steering wheel volume control buttons.

They all came out right in a row. First there was the BMW Z3, which went on sale for the 1996 model year and starred in a James Bond movie soon after. I remember how cool this thing was, because I remember how much of a departure it was for BMW to build it in the first place. Here’s an automaker who has only offered sedans and one slow-selling large coupe for the last few decades, and now they’re coming out with a fun looking, two-seat convertible that’s kind of affordable? THIS IS SO COOL! Eight-year-old me had a model Z3 sitting on a shelf in my room.

Then there was the Porsche Boxster. Oh, the Boxster, an enormous sales success when it first came out; the car that made Porsche realize that maybe, just maybe, they can continue in the business of selling cars without going into the business of declaring bankruptcy. The first Boxster models came out in 1997, and the first few years were their best-selling of all-time.

Then there was Mercedes. The first-generation Mercedes SLK came out for the 1998 model year with a totally new idea: a retractable hardtop. A retractable hardtop on a small Mercedes convertible, while the brand’s flagship SL-Class still had to make do with a normal old folding cloth top and a removable hardtop that was about as easy to move as a Great Dane who’s asleep on the remote control.

Like the Z3, the SLK was also so damn cool when it came out. The retractable roof was in all the ads. It was the first time anyone had ever seen such a thing outside the Mitsubishi 3000GT, which sold approximately 11 total units. And most importantly, it was a strong competitor to the brand-new rivals from BMW and Porsche. Back then, this segment was heating up like the compact crossover segment is today.

And then, yet another challenger emerged: the Audi TT. Originally on sale for the 2000 model year, the front- or all-wheel drive TT caused quite a stir when it debuted by being the first Audi ever not to completely suck. And then the stage was set: Audi had the TT. Mercedes had the SLK. BMW had the Z3. Porsche had the Boxster. And then the redesigns came.

First the Z3 was redesigned in 2004 to become the far more aggressive, bolder, sharper looking Z4. Next, the SLK and Boxster were updated in 2005, both with more modern appearances. Clearly, the automakers thought this segment still had some legs. And finally, the Audi TT got a full redesign for the 2008 model year, bringing everyone back into close competition once again. And then…

Half-heartedly, most of these models have since been redesigned once again. The Z4 lost its flame surfacing and gained sort of a “me, too” appearance designed to offend precisely nobody, and inspire the same number. The SLK received another redesign, though nobody knows this outside of spouses of Mercedes dealers. The Boxster, admittedly, earned an excellent redesign — though its price point has taken it well beyond the level of the original 2-seat roadster. And Audi’s hemming and hawing about a potential TT redesign has been one of the most reluctant things I’ve seen from the auto industry in decades.

The reason for all this is that this segment has completely died out, and nobody wants these cars anymore. Back in the ‘90s, convertibles were all the rage, and people loved the idea of hopping in a BMW roadster and going for a spin. Now, sedans are back. We want functional. We want practical. And we don’t want to pay fifty grand for an SLK250 with something called the “Airscarf.”

For proof, some numbers. Back in 2005, with its last redesign, the SLK hit nearly 12,000 units in America. With its most recent redesign in 2012, it didn’t even manage to reach 5,000 sales. The Z4 did almost 20,000 U.S. units in 2003. Last year, just barely 2,000. And the poor Audi TT has dropped from more than 10,000 sales in its first year to just over 1,000 last year. Even the Boxster is down from well over 10,000 U.S. sales in the late 1990s to just over 4,500 after its most recent redesign.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, I’m currently predicting the death of the luxury roadster segment. When it happens officially, remember that you heard it here first. Even James Bond can’t save it now.

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J.D. Power Ranks Porsche Most Appealing for 11th-straight Year http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/j-d-power-ranks-porsche-appealing-11th-straight-year/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/j-d-power-ranks-porsche-appealing-11th-straight-year/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 16:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1123049 For the 11th-consecutive year, Porsche topped J.D. Power and Associate’s Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) study, which measures owners’ satisfaction with their new car. The study surveyed 84,000 new car owners 90 days after their purchase to determine their satisfaction with their purchase. Porsche topped the list, just ahead of Jaguar, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi […]

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Cayenne Turbo S

For the 11th-consecutive year, Porsche topped J.D. Power and Associate’s Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) study, which measures owners’ satisfaction with their new car.

The study surveyed 84,000 new car owners 90 days after their purchase to determine their satisfaction with their purchase. Porsche topped the list, just ahead of Jaguar, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Land Rover.

So in other words, “Owners Pumped About Paying A Lot for Really Nice Cars.”

2015 JD Power APEAL results

Click to enlarge.

The annual study found that added safety technology was a major contributor to overall satisfaction. According to the study, 36 percent of new car buyers added blind-spot monitoring to their cars (up 7 percent from last year), nearly half of new car buyers purchased vehicles with parking assist or backup warnings (up 4 percentage points), and nearly two-thirds of those buyers said they used the safety features every time they drove the car.

One in five buyers reported buying a car with lane-departure warning systems and one in four reported buying a car with collision avoidance systems, up from last year.

According to the study, buyers are willing to pay up to $750 more for cars with added safety features.

The industry average crept up four points over last year and Mini was the highest-ranked non-premium brand on the list. Smart was the lowest-ranked brand in the survey.

Chevrolet had three segment leaders (Corvette, Sonic and Colorado), same with Ford (C-Max, Expedition and F-150). Dodge had two leaders (Challenger and Charger) while overall-winner Porsche had three segment leaders (Cayenne, Cayman and Macan).

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Historic Acuras, Future BMWs Heading To Monterey http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/historic-acuras-future-bmws-heading-to-monterey/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/historic-acuras-future-bmws-heading-to-monterey/#comments Sat, 18 Jul 2015 19:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1119369 Acura and BMW are heading to Monterey Automotive Week with vehicular examples old and new. Both automakers will show vehicles at several events during the week, including The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, Gordan McCall’s Motorworks Revival, and Carmel-By-The-Sea. BMW will reveal two world premieres at its annual press conference at the […]

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Comptech Racing Spice Acura GTP Lights Race Car

Acura and BMW are heading to Monterey Automotive Week with vehicular examples old and new.

Both automakers will show vehicles at several events during the week, including The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, Gordan McCall’s Motorworks Revival, and Carmel-By-The-Sea.

BMW Concept Teaser for Monterey Car Week

BMW will reveal two world premieres at its annual press conference at the BMW Villa in Pebble Beach. The unnamed vehicles will be shown to the public later at The Quail, A Motorsport Gathering, Legends of the Autobahn Concours d’Elegance, Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion and Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Acura will have a much more involved presence at this year’s events as the premier automotive sponsor for The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering. At The Quail, Acura will showcase the new NSX along with examples of the first-generation supercar.

The Comptech Racing Spice Acura GTP Lights race car, pictured at top, will make its inaugural run at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. Also at the event, Gil de Ferran’s 2009 Acura LMP1 race car and the new NSX will also be on display.

HondaJet will sponsor Gordon McCall’s Motorworks Revival, featuring the new NSX and a replica of the 2015 McLaren-Honda MP4-30 Formula 1 car.

At Carmel-By-The Sea Concours on the Avenue, Acura will be the event’s exclusive sponsor, showcasing — surprise, surprise — first- and current-generation NSXs.

The events start August 10 and run to August 16.

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Fiat Chrysler Tops Annual ‘Total Quality’ Survey http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fiat-chrysler-tops-annual-total-quality-survey/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fiat-chrysler-tops-annual-total-quality-survey/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 16:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1118545 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles earned the top spot overall in an annual survey of new car quality. Strategic Vision, a San Diego-based research firm, ranked FCA No. 1 for the first time since the company began measuring customer satisfaction in 1995. Last year, Kia earned top honors. FCA had six cars that topped their respective segments, […]

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FCA US HQ

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles earned the top spot overall in an annual survey of new car quality.

Strategic Vision, a San Diego-based research firm, ranked FCA No. 1 for the first time since the company began measuring customer satisfaction in 1995. Last year, Kia earned top honors.

FCA had six cars that topped their respective segments, including the Fiat 500 and 500e; Dodge Charger, Challenger and Durango; and, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.

While FCA took the top spot this year, General Motors and Volkswagen followed closely behind, tying for second place, one point behind FCA on a 1,000-point scale.

According to Strategic Vision, 46,000 consumer responses were used for the study, which rated consumer satisfaction along with problems in each vehicle. The Mini Cooper Roadster earned the highest score among new cars. Land Rover was tops among luxury automakers, Ram was first among non-luxury automakers.

BMW had six segment winners including the i3, 3-Series Wagon, X4 and X5; Mini Cooper Roadster and Countryman.

According to the Detroit News, the Total Quality Index study comes out less than a week before the annual J.D. Power Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout survey that last year ranked all FCA brands below industry average.

Of course, TTAC has never really been a big fan of the report anyway.

 

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2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4MATIC: Lookin’ for Love http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-mercedes-benz-gla250-4matic-lookin-for-love/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-mercedes-benz-gla250-4matic-lookin-for-love/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 15:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1117377 The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 lives within the margins. The compact — which shares more in common with a hatchback than an SUV — has a life thanks to America’s all-things-crossover obsession. It dodges definition, shirks consistent fuel-economy ratings and even has me guessing on my own feelings toward it. For sure, I can’t find a […]

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GLAProof-1-3

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 lives within the margins.

The compact — which shares more in common with a hatchback than an SUV — has a life thanks to America’s all-things-crossover obsession. It dodges definition, shirks consistent fuel-economy ratings and even has me guessing on my own feelings toward it. For sure, I can’t find a single offensive thing about the GLA. Even more, I can’t find a single thing to love.


The Tester

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250

Engine: 2.0-liter inline, turbocharged 4-cylinder (208 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm; 258 pound-feet @ 1,250-4,000)

Transmission: 7-speed DCT transmission with paddle shifters

Fuel Economy (rating): 24 mpg city/32 mpg highway/27 mpg combined
Fuel Economy (observed): 25.3 mpg according to trip computer in 60/40-split city/highway driving.

Options: Cocoa brown exterior paint; Satin light brown poplar wood trim; Blind-spot assist; Bi-xenon headlamps; 19-inch wheels; Premium package (satellite radio, heated front seats, harman/kardon audio, dual-zone climate control); Multimedia package (navigation, 7-inch high-resolution display, DVD player, traffic information).

Base price: $33,300
Price as tested: $41,950


Exterior
From beak to butt, the GLA looks like adolescent hatchback growing into its tall frame.

That’s not an indictment on the GLA’s overall looks. The GLA’s stretched sheet metal from front to back look downright futuristic compared to the BMW X1 and Lexus NX. Maybe not as classically handsome as the Range Rover Evoque and a coin-flip compared to the Audi Q3, but there is nothing about the GLA that outwardly screams “half-baked.” It’s clear that German engineers set out to build a handsome crossover that happened to be a Mercedes, and not a Mercedes crossover that happened to be handsome. In my opinion, the GLA is too busy to look “classic” Mercedes.

2015MercedesBenzGLA250-2

Even the tail, which has the unenviable task of tying together the multiple body lines and profile curves, looks solidly modern and scrutinized. If I had to nitpick — and I think I have to — the bulbous tail lamps have a whisper of ugly.

2015MercedesBenzGLA250-1

Up front, however, the GLA’s nose and grille present a compelling argument. The car, which starts at just over $34,000, looks more expensive from the front. It’s a case of Mercedes putting a better foot forward for entry buyers. I prefer the GLA’s nose over, say, the boxy approach of the GLK, but the GLA’s face is much less polarizing.

The thick C-pillar visually lengthens the GLA’s abrupt end and gives the car a longer approach than its 179-inch measurement would indicate. From all approaches, the GLA looks bigger outside than it actually is, and that’s not a bad thing.

Shod with our optional 19-inch wheels the GLA sits tall and muscular without being gaudy. If the Subaru Forester had a Y chromosome, it’d look like a Mercedes-Benz GLA.

2015MercedesBenzGLA250-3

Interior
If intention was everything, the GLA’s interior would shine as a paragon for what luxury crossovers should be. Unfortunately, execution factors into the final result so we have to look at these things as they are — not as they could be.

2015MercedesBenzGLA250-4

First, the familiar: the Mercedes-Benz three-spoke wheel in the GLA is an exceptional touch. The wheel feels solid and confident, and its steering wheel controls and paddle shifters are among the best in the business right now.

Additionally, Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND system (its infotainment interface) is clear and fabulously unfussy. Pairing a smartphone or dictating an address is a breeze, and the 7-inch high-resolution display is seamlessly integrated into the GLA (albeit for $2,480 extra) without looking like a 80-inch HDTV in a trailer home.

The GLA even looks the part too. The ballyhooed cross-hair air vents are impressive, and even the beige faux-leather seats would have me second-guessing shelling out $1,700 for the privilege of more hides between the doors.

But it doesn’t take long for impressions to settle into reality.

The three-spoke wheel hides the stalk and makes setting cruise control nearly impossible. The controls for the COMAND system are awkwardly placed somewhere between my elbow and my wrist, and the dash sounds unsettlingly too hollow.

2015MercedesBenzGLA250-5

Even the comfortable-looking MB-Tex seats started to flatten the longer I was in the car and after 2 hours in a hot car driving through the city, I found myself itching to get out.

If I can use a small example: the GLA’s electric-adjustable seat controls are in the doors, like every other new Mercedes-Benz. Unlike some of them, the GLA doesn’t have electrically adjustable headrests, but there’s still a piece of fixed-molded plastic where that slider would go. In short, the GLA has all the look inside that a Mercedes should have, but it’s just not as special.

(Spring for the leather seats and you get a MB-Tex-stitched dash upper, which could kill two birds with one stone.)

The rear seats are comfortable for adults on short to moderate trips. My 6-foot-2-inch frame could fold into the back behind the driver, but not with someone my size driving up front.

Infotainment
As a $2,480 option on a $33,300 car, Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND system is no minor detail. The big, bright 7-inch high-resolution display rises prominently from the middle of the dash and is distinctly an added extra — there’s no hiding that the GLA was built first without it.

However, the COMAND system is thoughtfully integrated and wasn’t much of a distraction for me. I’m incredibly familiar with the layout and controls, so it’s hard for me to comment on the system’s learning curve. However, I can report that after teaching passengers how the small-ish knob placed near the cup holders could slide AND rotate, very few people had trouble learning the system.

The good: The radio controls mimic a tuner, and the system is detailed without needing too much attention.

The bad: Adding a phone, then adding that same phone as a Bluetooth streaming device is a head scratcher.

The ugly: The control knob is far-too small for my big mitts.

In the new C-Class, the COMAND system is nearly impossible to beat. In the GLA, it’s very good.

2015MercedesBenzGLA250-7

Drivetrain

The GLA250 sports a 2.0-liter turbo four that makes an entirely approachable 208 hp. According to the manufacturer, the GLA250 runs up to 60 mph in around 7 seconds, which may not be blinding, but may not be the engine’s fault. The 7-speed DCT transmission does its very best to keep the GLA in low-rev, fuel-saving territory on the tach and it’s apparent. More than a few times, I guessed I was in third gear by the other side of the intersection, and the GLA’s long legs are built for wringing every last mile from its 15-gallon tank.

Unfortunately, it’s a losing attempt.

Despite my best efforts on long highway jaunts, I couldn’t approach 30 mpg consistently, and the GLA may be thirstier than its 27 mpg combined rating would indicate.

In combined driving, over nearly 200 miles, I managed only just over 25 mpg without over-taxing the GLA or touching the paddle shifters.

The GLA is offered in front- or all-wheel drive, which Mercedes calls 4MATIC, configurations. Our tester was the latter, but without much snow or mountain driving to be found over the past week, it’s hard to report whether the all-wheel drive is necessary. We’ll blame El Nino. Or something.

2015MercedesBenzGLA250-8

Drive
Despite being one of the least expensive cars that Mercedes-Benz offers, the GLA is surprisingly confident and nimble on the road. Its grippy, direct steering was surprising for a car that weighs nearly 3,500 pounds and forces all its energy through the front wheels under normal circumstances. I could coax the GLA250 into a push, but not without plenty of drama from the wheels first. (And that’s the way it should be.)

The GLA is easy to park and remarkably maneuverable around an Ikea parking lot (if you’re wondering what I did with it instead of driving into the Rockies.)

There are some niggles, however. The GLA is far from quiet inside. A considerable amount of road noise comes through into the cabin and it feels like Mercedes just skipped some of the sound deadening material in the final checklist.

Also, Mercedes’ collision prevention assist system isn’t any more advanced than anyone else’s, which means that it’s entirely too intrusive. In stop-and-go traffic, the system tripped a few times and warned of a low-speed collision that wasn’t going to happen anyway.

And if I could coax the transmission into shorter shifts at the risk of less impressive fuel economy (on paper), I would. Mash your right foot, count to three and then the GLA clambers forward. There’s too much time between action and reaction for a car that costs more than $40,000.

But there’s nothing wholly unsatisfactory about the GLA. It looks impressive and delivers a product that’s nearly better than anyone else’s. It’s better looking than the NX, more modern than the X1 with more interior potential than the MKC at a price that’s on target for what I’d expect from the three-star folks.

It’s just, coming from the company that recently made an extremely good C-Class car, the only thing I could define about the GLA was my extremely high expectations before I drove it. And maybe that’s just not fair.

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BMW To Customer: Aftermarket Parts Cause Fires, Airbag Deployments http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/bmw-rep-customer-aftermarket-parts-cause-fires-unwanted-airbag-deployments/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/bmw-rep-customer-aftermarket-parts-cause-fires-unwanted-airbag-deployments/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 12:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1114961 Last month, I shared the story of an unexpected double front airbag deployment in a BMW X5. In the twenty days since then, that car’s owner has been working with BMW NA, which conducted an independent examination of the car while it was in dealership custody. Yesterday he heard from a BMW consumer service representative, […]

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Last month, I shared the story of an unexpected double front airbag deployment in a BMW X5. In the twenty days since then, that car’s owner has been working with BMW NA, which conducted an independent examination of the car while it was in dealership custody. Yesterday he heard from a BMW consumer service representative, who told him that BMW has determined the reason for the deployment.

If this was Upworthy, or if we used the Upworthy Generator to create headlines, we’d have to title the article “What This BMW Representative Told A Father About His Airbag Deployment Will Break Your Heart. The Worst Part Is At 4:23 In The Call Record.”

But seriously, if you have a BMW you might want to click the jump, because there’s a good chance that BMW’s reason for the deployment applies to you as well.

The X5 owner shared a recording of his call with me. In the call, the BMW rep assigns the blame for the airbag deployment to the only non-OEM part in the affected chain: the battery.

“You had an aftermarket battery that was not installed properly,” she tells him. “The positive cable had a loose nut. This caused thermal events… thermal damage to the cable. There were several faults stored prior to the deployment. The airbag light was on in your vehicle prior to the deployment.”

The owner states for the record that he never saw an airbag light and that, had he seen one, he’d have acted.

“The battery wasn’t installed correctly,” the rep states later on in the call, “which caused a short. The battery cable began to melt. There are two scenarios that could happen. Number one is your vehicle catches fire. Number two is there will be an airbag deployment. There was melted plastic throughout the cable.”

I try not to wear too thick of a tinfoil hat nowadays, so my first impulse is to believe that BMW did, in fact, discover a loose nut connected to a non-OEM battery in this X5. What’s confusing me is:

  • Would a non-OEM battery with a tight nut also be a problem?
  • Would an OEM battery with a loose nut also be a problem?
  • Why would a loose nut cause the cable to melt?
  • Why would a melted cable cause an airbag deployment?

It turns out that there are two battery cables on the positive side of a BMW airbag. One of them has an explosive charge mounted on it. Supposedly, when the airbags deploy, this device “blows the connection” between the battery and the rest of the car to protect first responders. You can see pictures of this device on E90Post.

So, it’s easy to see the intended chain of events there and not so easy to see how the charge cable might cause an airbag deployment. Perhaps we have a BMW tech in the B&B who can elaborate further. In the meantime, if you own a BMW that was manufactured some time in the past twenty years, you might want to consider having the battery, and cable, evaluated by your dealership. Loose battery terminals are as common in a parking lot full of old cars as empty cigarette cartons, so the news that having one could lead to an airbag deployment is worrisome, to say the least.

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Future BMW M Cars May Not Have Manuals http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/future-bmw-m-cars-may-not-manuals/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/future-bmw-m-cars-may-not-manuals/#comments Mon, 06 Jul 2015 18:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1108369 New BMW M boss Frank van Meel says buyers may still have a choice between two transmissions, just between two types of automatics. Talking to Autocar, van Meel said: “From a technical standpoint, the future doesn’t look bright for manual gearboxes.” So goes another nail into the coffin. Van Meel makes the same argument engineers have been […]

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New BMW M boss Frank van Meel says buyers may still have a choice between two transmissions, just between two types of automatics.

Talking to Autocar, van Meel said: “From a technical standpoint, the future doesn’t look bright for manual gearboxes.”

So goes another nail into the coffin.

Van Meel makes the same argument engineers have been making for a decade or more.

“The DCT and auto ’boxes are faster and they have better fuel consumption,” he said.

Van Meel doesn’t directly kill the manual, however. He told Autocar BMW would still offer manual versions if buyers demanded it. The last generation M3’s manual take rate was around 45 percent. We’ve reached out to BMW to see how many new M car buyers opt to row their own.

As an interesting side note, the online configurator for BMW automatically selects the dual-clutch automatic transmission, a $2,900 option, for M cars with an available manual. Only the X6 M and X5 M do not have an available manual transmission in the U.S.

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Why Are These BMW Cars Camo’d If We’ve Seen Them Already? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/bmw-cars-camod-weve-seen-already/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/bmw-cars-camod-weve-seen-already/#comments Mon, 06 Jul 2015 17:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1108225 Over the weekend, I spotted a completely camouflaged BMW ActiveTourer heading into the mountains of Colorado. At the same time half a world away, a TTAC reader on vacation in Germany spotted a completely camo’d 7 Series on the streets of Munich. What gives, BMW? We’ve already seen these cars before. Turns out the story is less exciting than […]

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Over the weekend, I spotted a completely camouflaged BMW ActiveTourer heading into the mountains of Colorado. At the same time half a world away, a TTAC reader on vacation in Germany spotted a completely camo’d 7 Series on the streets of Munich.

What gives, BMW? We’ve already seen these cars before.

Turns out the story is less exciting than what I had for breakfast.

Well, in the case of the 7 Series, the car hasn’t been revealed to the public yet. Case closed.

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IMG_3261But our mystery 2 Series Active Tourer driving around the U.S. is a little more interesting. Spy photographer Brian Williams — who didn’t take the 7 Series shots — clears it up for us:

“In June every year BMW brings about 50-60 cars into Death Valley. From there they disperse across the US doing all kinds of different testing. The reason that prototype is still camo’d is probably because it’s just more work to take the wrap off. It’s just a lot easier for them to leave the camo on.”

This must be the first instance in recorded history of a German automaker being accused of laziness.

But it’s spy season in Colorado, however. Several manufacturers send cars up Mt. Evans — the highest road in North America — for high-altitude testing. By the time they trek up the 14,000-foot mountain, many of the cars are fairly close to production and lightly camouflaged — if at all.

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Junkyard Find: 1992 BMW 750iL http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/junkyard-find-1992-bmw-750il/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/junkyard-find-1992-bmw-750il/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 11:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1106737 When you spend as much time in fast-turnover self-service wrecking yards as I do, you get this lesson over and over: Nothing depreciates like high-end German luxury cars. Once the interior gets a little rough, or the cutting-edge elaborate electrical system gets a bit confused, or the next generation of engine makes an additional 50 […]

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10 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

When you spend as much time in fast-turnover self-service wrecking yards as I do, you get this lesson over and over: Nothing depreciates like high-end German luxury cars. Once the interior gets a little rough, or the cutting-edge elaborate electrical system gets a bit confused, or the next generation of engine makes an additional 50 horses… well, your big A8 or 7-series or S-class passes through a sequence of increasingly budget-challenged owners, and then there’s another $700 repair needed, and here comes the tow-truck to take it to U-Wrench-It. Mostly I don’t pay much attention to these cars, because the yards are paved with German luxury, but the numbers of discarded V12 E32s peaked about 5 years ago and they’re getting harder to find now. Here’s one that I saw yesterday in a Denver-area yard.
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Because you can get running V12 BMWs for scrap value or less, 24 Hours of LeMons racers have run a few of them. Here’s Speedycop’s 1963 Ford Thunderbird with a 750iL engine (equipped with an extremely janky ammo-can-plenum carburetor conversion).

15 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

How much did this car cost in 1992? Well, the answer is just about as depressing as looking up horsepower figures for Malaise Era Detroit cars: $76,500 MSRP, and a lot more with all the options a proper 7-series owner must have. That’s about $130,000 in inflation-adjusted 2015 bucks.

06 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

V12s are inherently cool. All of us need to start rescuing these engines and swapping them into Edsels and New Yorkers. This one made 296 horsepower, which is 28 more than the 3.5-liter V6 in the ’15 Camry.

14 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Yessir, that’s a built-in analog car-phone transceiver in the trunk.

27 men in Munich began a project that became a quest that became a car.

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Consumer Reports Reveals New Cars’ Dirty Secret http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/consumer-reports-reveals-new-cars-dirty-secret/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/consumer-reports-reveals-new-cars-dirty-secret/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 20:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1106329 Engines burn oil, but how much oil burn is normal is at the heart of a Consumer Reports study that examined nearly 500,000 new cars for how much oil they have to replace in their new car’s engine. It’s a dirty, dirty business. The report defined excessive oil consumption as adding more than one quart between recommended […]

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Engines burn oil, but how much oil burn is normal is at the heart of a Consumer Reports study that examined nearly 500,000 new cars for how much oil they have to replace in their new car’s engine.

It’s a dirty, dirty business.

The report defined excessive oil consumption as adding more than one quart between recommended oil changes. The biggest offenders: BMW’s 4.8-liter and 4.4-liter twin turbocharged V8’s, Audi’s 2.0-liter turbo four and 3.0-liter V6. The report also said Subaru’s 2.0- and 2.5-liter fours and 3.6-liter flat six were lesser offenders.

According to Consumer Reports, the engines comprise only 2 percent of vehicles on the road, but that small sliver of the segment accounted for nearly 1.5 million cars. The offenders were particularly heinous in their oil consumption, as well — a new BMW 5-Series was 27 times more likely to need oil than an average new car.

Many new cars shouldn’t need additional oil between oil changes, the consumer group said, and oil consumption on vehicles with fewer than 100,000 miles should be the exception — not the rule.

Nonetheless, representatives from manufacturers such as BMW and Subaru said oil consumption for their engines isn’t out of the ordinary and could be dependent on temperature, driving style and transmission type.

The report highlighted the experience of one New York woman who said Subaru offered her $500 to offset the cost of new oil after she complained that her 2012 Impreza was burning too much.

Subaru’s Director of Communications Michael McHale said in a emailed statement that Subaru “doesn’t have a program in place but we do review each case on an individual basis.”

Out of court, some manufacturers have authorized repairing or even replacing an engine if it’s burning too much oil. In court, both Audi and Subaru are defendants in class-action suits regarding the problem.

Representatives from BMW did not immediately return requests for comment.

In some cases, automakers have settled the suits or extended powertrain warranties to cover any excessive oil consumption. In California, as part of a settlement, Toyota extended its powertrain warranties in some Camrys and Corollas to cover 10 years or 150,000 miles. Honda extended its warranty to 8 years on some of its 6-cylinder cars in 2013, after settling a class-action suit where hundreds complained about oil consumption.

BMW spokesman Hector Arellano-Belloc is quoted in the Consumer Reports story saying:

“BMW vehicles have long intervals between oil changes (10,000 miles). BMW engines (excluding the BMW M) may consume up to one quart of engine oil per 750 miles under certain driving conditions.”

Which sucks for me because my own personal 3 Series’ oil capacity is around 7 quarts — or about bone-dry halfway between regularly scheduled changes.

The report also underscores a small, but not insignificant, problem that manufacturers must do everything they can to combat the perception that cars are inefficient, environmentally irresponsible machines. Constantly pumping a car full of dead dinosaur juice may not help.

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Bark’s Bites: The (Imaginary) National Automakers Association Draft, Part One http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/barks-bites-imaginary-national-automakers-association-draft-part-one/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/barks-bites-imaginary-national-automakers-association-draft-part-one/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 12:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1100193 Warning: What you are about to read is NOT REAL. It is the product of the warped mind of your friendly neighborhood editorialist, Bark M., who wonders: What if automakers had to “draft” new products, just like the NBA does?  Talking Head #1: Greetings, and welcome to Detroit, the host city for the 2015 National Automakers […]

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Warning: What you are about to read is NOT REAL. It is the product of the warped mind of your friendly neighborhood editorialist, Bark M., who wonders: What if automakers had to “draft” new products, just like the NBA does? 

Talking Head #1: Greetings, and welcome to Detroit, the host city for the 2015 National Automakers Association Draft! Tonight, we’ll see the future of automakers unfold, as they get the chance to select a new model for their existing lineup.

Talking Head #2: That’s right, and the excitement has been building ever since the end of last model year. Some big questions will be answered this evening: What will Subaru do with their pick? Will Ford finally have a full-sized sedan worth talking about? And will FCA’s Sergio Marchionne finally find a trade partner for their spot in the draft?

TH1: Word has it that Sergio has been burning up the phone lines trying to find somebody to help him move out of the first round, but my sources say that he hasn’t had any takers so far. As you know, though, there’s invariably a surprise or two on NAA Draft Night!

TH2: That there is! As always, the automakers will be drafting in reverse order of current U.S. market share. That means that first up on the clock is a fan favorite, Mazda.

TH1: Well, Mazda has a good, quality lineup, full of young star players, but for some reason they’ve had a hard time breaking through in America. Will this be the pick that finally gets them over the hump and positions them as a real player in the U.S. market?

TH2: We’re about to find out, as it looks like we are getting this 2015 NAA Draft underway! Here comes the commissioner to the podium with the card. Let’s listen.

Commissioner: With the first pick in the 2015 NAA draft, Mazda selects… a New CX-9, from Hiroshima, Japan!

TH1: Well, we can’t be too surprised with this one, can we?

TH2: No, not at all. The CX-9 has been getting long in the tooth and Mazda needed something new and fresh to be competitive in this segment. The Mazda fans have got to be happy with this selection.

TH1: Indeed, they are. While some fans here were hoping for a new Mazda 2 to be brought to the U.S., it’s hard to ignore that Mazda is missing out on a key segment with the current CX-9. Great pick.

TH2: All right, that was a solid, if not necessary climactic beginning to our evening. Next up is one of the more glamorous names in our industry: Mercedes-Benz. What have you been hearing about Mercedes?

TH1: It’s hard to know exactly which direction Mercedes might go in here. Their fans are still a little confused about the recent shakeup of their lineup – there are a lot of familiar faces with new names. Plus, they’ve had a few recent refreshes of their biggest sellers – the C Class is selling better than ever, and they’ve already signed a new E-Class for 2016.

TH2: We’ll know soon enough – here’s the commish!

Commissioner: With the second pick in the 2015 NAA draft, Mercedes-Benz selects…the W246 B Class, from Stuttgart, Germany!

TH1: I think it’s safe to say that we’ve had our first surprise of the evening!

TH2: No question. The B Class has been a solid performer in both the EU and in Japan since it launched back in 2011, but I’ve gotta say, I’m surprised that they’re trying it in America. However, with the growth that MINI is seeing in America this year, perhaps Mercedes thinks there’s an opportunity for a luxury entry into the subcompact market.

TH1: It’s all part of the excitement that we’ve come to expect from the NAA Draft! Next on the clock with the third pick is another German automaker, BMW.

TH2: BMW has sort of lost their…

TH1: Whoa, whoa, whoa, I have to blow the whistle on you there, partner. I’m sure you weren’t about to say that they’ve “lost their way,” like every other talking head hack, were you?

TH1: Um, no. Not at all. I was about to say that they’ve lost their…okay, fine. You got me.

TH2: Considering that BMW is up about 7 percent in sales year over year, I think they’re doing just fine. But there is one segment where they’ve lost some market share, and that’s the small luxury SUV segment.

TH1: Let’s see if they address that tonight. Over to you, Commissioner!

Commissioner: With the third pick in the 2015 NAA draft, BMW selects…a new X3, from Spartanburg, South Carolina!

TH1: That’s the obvious choice here, isn’t it?

TH2: Certainly is. The X4…well, I mean, what the heck is the X4, anyway? It’s not selling in any great numbers, and the X3 has been down big time as of late. A new model seems to be just what Herr Doctor ordered.

TH1: Subaru is next up on the clock, partner. There’s been a lot of discussion lately about Subaru’s recent success in the American market, but how will that impact their draft pick tonight?

TH2: That’s a great question. They’re missing a lot of the key segments for American market success in their lineup – mid-sized SUV, subcompact – and the Impreza is sold in numbers that don’t impress anybody. But can they take on more capacity right now?

TH1: Let’s see what they decide to do. Here’s the commissioner with the pick.

Commissioner: Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a trade. Subaru has traded their pick to Toyota, along with all remaining BRZs on dealer lots, for cash considerations and a car to be named later. With the fourth pick in the 2015 NAA draft, Toyota selects…an Avalon replacement, from Georgetown, Kentucky!

TH2: Not a huge surprise here, is it?

TH1: No, not particularly. I think Subaru did the right thing – they’re already at maximum capacity at most of their plants, and adding more models would just make it even worse. Also, killing the BRZ makes a ton of sense. They barely sell, and they are occupying floorplan space that could be used for other, more profitable models.

TH2: And Toyota needed a new full-sized sedan. The whole segment is dying quickly, yes, but maybe Toyota sees that as an opportunity to seize some market share from their aging competitors. Perhaps they can use the platform to update the Lexus ES, too.

TH1: This evening is moving along quickly, as we move to the fifth pick, which belongs to Volkswagen Auto Group. VW and Audi have a few holes to fill in their American lineup, to say the least.

TH2: Truer words were never spoken, my friend. The Jetta, the Passat, the A4…all of them are aging and relatively unpopular in their segments. The lights are flickering a bit at VW stores. Can tonight’s pick help keep them on?

TH1: The pick is in, so let’s turn things over to the commissioner.

Commissioner: With the fifth pick in the NAA draft, Volkswagen Auto Group selects…a Jetta with actual content, from Wolfsburg, Germany!

TH2: I think they didn’t really have much of a choice here. The Jetta is losing market share faster than any other compact car – they had to get competitive.

TH1: I don’t know…the Passat isn’t doing any better, and that’s a bigger segment, overall.

TH2: Yes, but the Jetta name still means something in America. The Jetta is the top-selling VW model of all time. I think VW knows that they’re climbing an uphill battle in the mid-sized segment with the Passat – maybe they figure it’s better to fight a battle that they actually have a shot at winning. And they’ve proven that they can make an excellent small car with the Golf and its performance derivatives.

TH1: Good point. VW fans have to be pleased with this pick.

TH2: Well, we’ve got Hyundai/Kia up next. Is there a faster rising team in the league than these guys?

TH1: I don’t think so, my friend. While the current Sonata hasn’t been everything that they hoped it would be, they’ve got some real hits on their hands with their crossover lineup. And the new Sedona is doing quite well, too. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t trouble spots.

TH2: You’re absolutely right. The Rio is falling well behind the competition in the Subcompact category, and even the Soul isn’t selling like it once was. What inside scoop do you have about H&K’s next move?

TH1: I don’t think there’s any question that they’d like to have a real, legitimate sporting car in their lineup. But can they justify it?

TH2: Well, the pick is in, so let’s go to the commissioner.

Commissioner: With the sixth pick in the NAA draft, Hyundai/Kia selects…an all-new, 5.0 liter Hyundai Genesis Coupe, from Seoul, South Korea!

TH1&2 (simultaneously): WHOOOOOOA!

TH1: That’s a big swing.

TH2: Is it ever! The Genesis Coupe has been tired for a while. Not only are they revamping it, they’re shoving in the big V8 from the sedan. Do you like it?

TH1: I love it! They’ve already got, in my opinion, the best RWD sedan for the money on the market. Now, they’re taking aim at the Mustang and Camaro. It’s bold, it’s brash – great pick!

TH2: Don’t go anywhere, folks! When we come back from commercial (tomorrow –Bark), we’ll find out what the big boys from Nissan, Honda, Toyota, FCA, Ford, and GM have in store for us.

All right, have at it, B&B – what would you have “drafted” for these manufacturers?

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Renault-Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn Banks $16M In 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/renault-nissans-carlos-ghosn-banks-16m-in-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/renault-nissans-carlos-ghosn-banks-16m-in-2014/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 16:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1097801 Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn did well for himself in 2014, banking around $16 million in compensation compared to the salaries of other automotive CEOs. Breaking down the numbers, Nissan paid Ghosn ¥1.035 billion ($8.39 million USD) during 2014, Reuters says, up 4 percent from what he made in 2013. On the Renault side, Ghosn took […]

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Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn did well for himself in 2014, banking around $16 million in compensation compared to the salaries of other automotive CEOs.

Breaking down the numbers, Nissan paid Ghosn ¥1.035 billion ($8.39 million USD) during 2014, Reuters says, up 4 percent from what he made in 2013. On the Renault side, Ghosn took home €7.2 million ($8.17 million), bringing total compensation to $16.56 million.

Ghosn’s combined paycheck is in line with compensation paid to two of the Detroit Three’s CEOs, where both Ford CEO Mark Fields and General Motors CEO Mary Barra made $16.8 million and $16.2 million respectively at the end of their first year helming their companies. Meanwhile, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne’s compensation paints a complex portrait, with figures ranging between $8 million and $72 million depending on the source.

Among the rest of the ToHoSan Zaibatsu, Toyota’s Akio Toyoda made ¥229 million ($1.84 million) in 2014, while Honda’s Takanobu Ito brought home ¥150 million ($1.21 million).

In Germany, the Teutonic Trinity’s CEOs took home €6.57 million ($7.35 million – Audi’s Rupert Stadler), €7.25 million ($8.11 million – BMW’s Norbert Reithofer) and €9.35 ($10.5 million – Mercedes’ Dieter Zetsche).

Finally, under the remaining stripes of the Tricolore Français, PSA Peugeot Citroën CEO Carlos Tavares received €2.75 million ($3.07 million).

(Photo credit: Nissan)

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Why Did The Airbags In This BMW X5 Deploy Without Warning? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/airbags-bmw-x5-deploy-without-warning/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/airbags-bmw-x5-deploy-without-warning/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 12:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1096281 “I was pulling into a parking lot and I stopped so I could back into a spot. I had a friend of mine in the passenger seat. I backed into the spot, and was in a stopped position. I was in neutral (the vehicle is a manual 5 speed). My friend got out of the […]

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“I was pulling into a parking lot and I stopped so I could back into a spot. I had a friend of mine in the passenger seat. I backed into the spot, and was in a stopped position. I was in neutral (the vehicle is a manual 5 speed). My friend got out of the car, I had my door open as well. As my friend got out of the passenger side and was closing the door both airbags deployed.”

Not exactly what you’d expect, right?


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Over the weekend, I got a tip about a BMW X5 that experienced an unintended double airbag deployment. I reached out to the owner to get more details. It’s a 2002 X5 3.0i with the rare manual transmission. He bought it with 76,000 miles and a clean CarFax; in the past three years he’s taken it all the way to 155,000 on the odometer.

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He’s not the only person to experience this kind of issue: I was quickly able to find an instance of another no-impact deployment. Turns out, however, that it was a 2006 X5, which is the second generation of the model.

It’s easy to imagine any number of scenarios where a deployment like this could cause a major safety hazard; it’s a good thing it never happened when the X5 was testing at the Nurburgring, right? So far, BMW NA’s response has been to offer a free inspection. We’ll keep you posted on what happens next. In the meantime, if you have an X5, particularly one that is close to, or past, its tenth birthday, you might want to have the bags checked.

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BMW i8 PHEV Unit Wins 2015 International Engine of the Year Award http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/bmw-i8-phev-unit-wins-2015-international-engine-of-the-year-award/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/bmw-i8-phev-unit-wins-2015-international-engine-of-the-year-award/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 16:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1095217 The BMW i8’s 1.5-liter 3-cylinder PHEV unit is the winner of this year’s International Engine of the Year award, beating out Ford by seven points in voting. In addition to taking the overall prize, the 1.5-liter also took home the top prizes in the New Engine and 1.4-Litre to 1.8-Litre categories, while falling short of […]

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2015 BMW i8

The BMW i8’s 1.5-liter 3-cylinder PHEV unit is the winner of this year’s International Engine of the Year award, beating out Ford by seven points in voting.

In addition to taking the overall prize, the 1.5-liter also took home the top prizes in the New Engine and 1.4-Litre to 1.8-Litre categories, while falling short of beating Tesla for the Green Engine category. BMW also took home the top prize in the 2.5-Litre to 3-Litre category with the 3.0-liter twin-turbo six under the bonnets of the M3 and M4.

Other winners include Ford’s 999cc turbo-three (Sub 1-Litre), PSA Peugeot Citroen’s 1.2-liter turbo-three (1-Litre to 1.4-Litre), the Mercedes-AMG 2.0-litre in the CLA45/GLA45 (1.8-Litre to 2-Litre), Audi’s 2.5-liter turbo-five (2-Litre to 2.5-Litre), McLaren’s 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 (3-Litre to 4-Litre), and the Ferrari 4.5-liter V8 (Above 4-Litre, Performance Engine).

Among the American manufacturers, Tesla also placed sixth in the overall category, while Ford scored fifth, third and fifth respectively in the 1.4-Litre to 1.8-Litre, 2-Litre to 2.5-Litre, and Green Engine categories. FCA took home sixth in both Above 4-Litre and Performance Engine categories with its 6.2-liter Hellcat V8s, as well as fifth in the Sub 1-Litre category (GM’s Opel took second), and sixth in the 1.4-Litre to 1.8-Litre category.

(Photo credit: domantasm./Flickr/CC BY 2.0)

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BMW Z2 MX-5 Fighter Dubbed ‘Inessential,’ Cancelled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/bmw-z2-mx-5-fighter-dubbed-inessential-cancelled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/bmw-z2-mx-5-fighter-dubbed-inessential-cancelled/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 17:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1093377 Despite models like the i8 and Z4, BMW is more interested in SUVs and crossovers than sports cars these days. Case in point: The Z2 has been cancelled. The Z2 would have gone toe-to-toe with the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Fiat’s Spyder beginning in 2016, Car reports, but was deemed “inessential” in the face of […]

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2013 BMW Z3

Despite models like the i8 and Z4, BMW is more interested in SUVs and crossovers than sports cars these days. Case in point: The Z2 has been cancelled.

The Z2 would have gone toe-to-toe with the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Fiat’s Spyder beginning in 2016, Car reports, but was deemed “inessential” in the face of both booming SUV sales and a sluggish sports car market by chairman Harald Krüger and R&D boss Klaus Fröhlich, a move in line with sales boss Ian Robertson’s belief the sports car market may never recover.

The roadster would have slotted under the Z4, come with a £20,000 ($31,000 USD) starting price tag, and been limited to three- and four-cylinder engine options delivering their power to the front wheels.

The aforementioned FWD setup would have been the result of the Z2 sharing a platform with the MINI, BMW 1 Series, and the front-driven models in the BMW 2 Series, a setup also shared by the still-alive MINI Superleggera roadster.

[Photo credit: BMW]

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Volvo Markets Simplified Identity Against Teutonic Complexities http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/volvo-markets-simplified-identity-against-teutonic-complexities/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/volvo-markets-simplified-identity-against-teutonic-complexities/#comments Fri, 12 Jun 2015 19:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1091833 Whereas the Teutonic Trinity of Audi, BMW and Mercedes go for complexity in their offerings, Volvo aims to attract luxury consumers through simplicity. At the 2015 Automotive News Europe Congress in Birmingham, England, Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson pointed out the number of buttons the XC90 had compared to two new models from two of the […]

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163787_Volvo_XC90_at_the_Swedish_Royal_Wedding

Whereas the Teutonic Trinity of Audi, BMW and Mercedes go for complexity in their offerings, Volvo aims to attract luxury consumers through simplicity.

At the 2015 Automotive News Europe Congress in Birmingham, England, Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson pointed out the number of buttons the XC90 had compared to two new models from two of the trinity as far as handling the main controls go, Automotive News Europe notes. While the Germans opted for 55 and 37 buttons respectively, Samuelsson stated Volvo only needed eight to get the point across.

Samuelsson’s point behind the button count was to declare his company would not match feature for feature against the Teutonic Trinity, proclaiming “no one wants to buy a copy. They buy the original.” The proclamation was followed by a presentation of an app which would grant one-time access to a given Volvo model to those delivering groceries, dry cleaning, and other items, followed by a text alerting the owner the delivery occurred.

Both examples are meant to demonstrate Volvo’s reinvention following its purchase from Ford by Geely in 2010. Then, the automaker had little product, and relied upon Ford’s platforms and engine offerings to see everything through.

Samuelsson said his company would pursue consumers more concerned about their families and the environment as part of its new strategy, than those looking to destroy ‘Ring times. Said pursuit is expected to be aggressive, as Volvo aims to increase global sales from a targeted 500,000 in 2015, to 800,000 by 2020 via a product offensive which will see all platforms and engines as being 100 percent Volvo starting this summer.

[Photo credit: Volvo]

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BMW Rumored To Be Working On US-Built Tesla Model X Rival http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/bmw-rumored-to-be-working-on-us-built-tesla-model-x-rival/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/bmw-rumored-to-be-working-on-us-built-tesla-model-x-rival/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 15:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1088137 Should rumors of BMW’s latest plans be true, there will soon be another electric SUV rival to the Tesla Model X on the market. According to a report from German newspaper WirtschaftsWoche, BMW is looking to enter the electric SUV/crossover game with a rival to the upcoming Model X, Automotive News says. The entrant would […]

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2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e

Should rumors of BMW’s latest plans be true, there will soon be another electric SUV rival to the Tesla Model X on the market.

According to a report from German newspaper WirtschaftsWoche, BMW is looking to enter the electric SUV/crossover game with a rival to the upcoming Model X, Automotive News says. The entrant would be assembled in Spartanburg, S.C., home of the X Series line of crossovers and SUVs, pending board approval.

However, said SUV would not be an X waiting to give it to the Model X, but a new member of the i Series, forming a triad with the i3 city car and i8 PHEV sports car; the latter two are assembled in Leipzig, Germany.

When asked by Automotive News if the report was true, a BMW representative said it was all “speculation.” If the story does hold up, though, don’t expect to see the new entry right away. According to Evercore ISI global automotive research chief Arndt Ellinghorst, the earliest such a vehicle would hit showrooms would be in 2018.

The i Series SUV would also be the second possible rival to Tesla’s offering, with Audi entering the game in 2018 with its own all-electric SUV; said SUV is set to arrive in concept form at this year’s Frankfurt Auto Show.

[Photo credit: BMW]

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Sixth-Gen BMW 7-Series Image Leaked Via Online Configurator http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/sixth-gen-bmw-7-series-image-leaked-via-online-configurator/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/sixth-gen-bmw-7-series-image-leaked-via-online-configurator/#comments Sun, 07 Jun 2015 12:41:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1086401 The image might be grainy making it difficult to see the details with clarity, this is the sixth-generation BMW 7-Series. Autocar was able to snap a screenshot of the new full-size luxury sedan as it popped up on one of BMW’s online configurators. According to the official teaser video, we should expect the new 7-Series […]

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bmw-7-series-leak

The image might be grainy making it difficult to see the details with clarity, this is the sixth-generation BMW 7-Series. Autocar was able to snap a screenshot of the new full-size luxury sedan as it popped up on one of BMW’s online configurators.

According to the official teaser video, we should expect the new 7-Series to drop on June 10th – this coming Wednesday – equipped with BMW Laserlight technology (but not for America) and powered by a selection of gasoline engines ranging from a 3.0L I6 and 4.0L V8 to a 6.0L V12. A couple of turbodiesels –2.0L I4 and 3.0L I6 – are also expected.

Underpinned by a modified version of the platform doing duty in the 3- and 4-Series, the next 7-Series will additionally make extensive use of aluminum, magnesium, high-strength steel and carbon-fibre reinforced plastic in order to save weight.

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While You Were Sleeping: BMW M3 Touring Render, Ferrari Dino Returning and Takata’s Quality Chief Gets More Power http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/while-you-were-sleeping-bmw-m3-touring-render-ferrari-dino-returning-and-takatas-quality-chief-gets-more-power/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/while-you-were-sleeping-bmw-m3-touring-render-ferrari-dino-returning-and-takatas-quality-chief-gets-more-power/#comments Fri, 05 Jun 2015 13:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1085281 As rumors swirl about the eventual release of the BMW M3 Touring, Theophilus Chin has put a couple of renders together of Bavaria’s hot D-pillared automobile. Here’s what happened overnight (and stories we’ve missed over the last few days). BMW M3 Touring (Theophilus Chin) Knowng Theophilus’ wonderful insight, it wouldn’t surprise me if the M3 Touring […]

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BMW M3 Touring Render

As rumors swirl about the eventual release of the BMW M3 Touring, Theophilus Chin has put a couple of renders together of Bavaria’s hot D-pillared automobile.

Here’s what happened overnight (and stories we’ve missed over the last few days).

BMW M3 Touring RenderBMW M3 Touring (Theophilus Chin)
Knowng Theophilus’ wonderful insight, it wouldn’t surprise me if the M3 Touring looks exactly like this when the sheet is pulled off in Frankfurt.

Ferrari DinoFerrari might bring back the Dino, says Sergio (AutoBlog)
…but it likely won’t be marketed as a Ferrari. Instead, Sergio is keen to build a sub-brand around the idea of a resurrected Dino. So far, that’s worked in Sergio’s favor.

1Takata will give quality chief more authority with board role (Automotive News)
Takata will put their quality chief on the board of directors, effectively giving him a louder voice within the company. It only took them seven years.

pst1002-100k-1_23394248Motor Mouth: Why no one drives like a saint all the time (Driving.ca)
“There’s a good reason nobody drives like a saint all-year round: it’s not practical.”

1282948112939395876You Probably Want To Watch Chris Harris Drive The Ferrari 488 GTB (Jalopnik)
I think the 488 GTB is an ugly ducking that grew up to be an ugly duck. But whatever. Here’s Chris Harris getting it sideways.

15TDI_StarlinkKiosk002-300x204Subaru Starlink services priced, packaged (Technology Tell)
It’s kind of like OnStar, but for people who have a higher chance of driving off a cliff near Kings Canyon.

Speedhunters_Keith_Charvonia_Hilux-2Minitruckin’ All Grown Up (Speedhunters)
This is not your grandfather’s Hilux. Actually, this is your grandfather’s Hilux.

Lotus-Elise-frontJaguar Designer Planning Super Lotus Elise (GTspirit)
Jaaaaaag designer Julian Thomson, responsible for the Series 1 Elise, wants to build this “Super” Elise.

car-wash-girls-china-1a-660x546Underdressed Chinese Girls open a Car Wash in Urumqi (CarNewsChina)
Chinese auto show models have resorted to washing cars to make a living, maybe.

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2016 BMW X1 Hitting US Showrooms This Fall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2016-bmw-x1-hitting-us-showrooms-this-fall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2016-bmw-x1-hitting-us-showrooms-this-fall/#comments Wed, 03 Jun 2015 19:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1083697 Coming to showrooms this fall, the 2016 BMW X1 aims to build upon the success of the outgoing first-gen crossover. The sole model available at launch in the U.S. market will be the X1 xDrive28i, with power to come from a 2.0-liter twin-turbo I4 good for 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque for all […]

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2016 BMW X1 01

Coming to showrooms this fall, the 2016 BMW X1 aims to build upon the success of the outgoing first-gen crossover.

The sole model available at launch in the U.S. market will be the X1 xDrive28i, with power to come from a 2.0-liter twin-turbo I4 good for 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque for all corners. An eight-speed Steptronic automatic from Aisin will help move the five-passenger crossover from nil to 60 in 6.3 seconds on its standard 18-inch run-flat all-seasons or optional 19-inch run-flat performance tires, with speed topping out between 130 mph and 143 mph.

Inside, occupants will be greeted more head and legroom, with rear legroom gaining a 1.5-inch increase in its standard setup, 2.6-inches with optional adjustable rear seating. The rear seats can also be split 40/20/40 for increased cargo room, with storage pockets and compartments throughout the crossover augmenting capacity.

Up front, the driver and front passenger has access to the X1’s ConnectedDrive connected-vehicle system via standard 6.5-inch and optional 8.8-inch touchscreens, while the driver can know what’s going on during the journey via the HUD system.

Occupant safety is handled by BMW’s Driver Assistance Plus package, which includes: lane-departure warning; automatic high beams; front collision warning with pedestrian and city features; active cruise control; assisted parking; and rear-view camera.

Two packages will be available with the X1: The Premium Package adds an optional panoramic moonroof and full LED headlamps, while the M Sport Package — set to arrive later in 2015 — brings quicker shifting, sports seats and sport suspension to the crossover. Standard features include: front fog-lamps; alarm system; heated and electronically adjustable mirrors; headlamp rain sensor; and BMW’s Dynamic Cruise Control.

Price of admission and EPA ratings will be announced closer to launch, with its public debut set for the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show in September.

2016 BMW X1 01 2016 BMW X1 02 2016 BMW X1 05 2016 BMW X1 03 2016 BMW X1 04 2016 BMW X1 07 2016 BMW X1 09 2016 BMW X1 10 2016 BMW X1 06 2016 BMW X1 08 2016 BMW X1 11

[Photo credit: BMW]

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2016 BMW 7 Series Teased Ahead Of June 10 Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2016-bmw-7-series-teased-ahead-of-june-10-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2016-bmw-7-series-teased-ahead-of-june-10-debut/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 14:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1081985 Next week, the 2016 BMW 7 Series will make its debut. For now, however, fans will need to make do with a teaser. The new 7 Series appears in a new teaser video, AutoGuide reports, with the 750Li variant the star of the video. The June 10 world debut is the result of numerous reported […]

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BMW 750d XDRIVE

Next week, the 2016 BMW 7 Series will make its debut. For now, however, fans will need to make do with a teaser.

The new 7 Series appears in a new teaser video, AutoGuide reports, with the 750Li variant the star of the video.

The June 10 world debut is the result of numerous reported leaks to the Internet from private viewings BMW held with its higher-profile consumers, pushing the debut up from September during the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show as originally planned.

While exterior design is expected to be a small evolution, the new 7 Series will have a new platform with BMW’s Core Carbon carbon fiber and steel construction. Available features include remote control parking, laser headlamps, and gesture controls.

[Photo credit: BMW]

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2015 BMW M235i Review (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-bmw-m235i-review-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-bmw-m235i-review-video/#comments Mon, 01 Jun 2015 11:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1076194 We’ve talked about BMW’s portfolio expanding faster than an American on a midwest diet before, but I’m going to do it again because it’s the key to understanding the 2-series in general and the M235i in particular. The M235i is not an M2, it is not a 235i M Sport, and it is more than […]

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2015 BMW M235i Exterior1

We’ve talked about BMW’s portfolio expanding faster than an American on a midwest diet before, but I’m going to do it again because it’s the key to understanding the 2-series in general and the M235i in particular.

The M235i is not an M2, it is not a 235i M Sport, and it is more than the former 135is. Are you confused yet? The M235i is the first of BMW’s “M Performance” vehicles which are not to be confused with “M Sport.”

Here’s how BMW’s new four-tier system works:

Things start with M Sport which is a “looks fast/handles well” package, then we get “is” which adds a dollop of performance, followed by the new M Performance where we put M in front of a three digit model number (M235i) denoting increased power, improved handling, improved braking and suspension tweaks, before going full-on-M.

In theory, the full treatment includes body modifications like wheel well enlargements, carbon fiber bits and a dual-clutch transmission. If you’re not totally confused yet, continue reading.

OK, so we have an M that’s not an M, but there’s more you should know. The only “35” version of the 2-Series is the M235i. While the other sport variants exist in BMW’s lineup, they don’t all exist in the same model, so there is no 235i M Sport and no 235is. The other thing to know is the 2-Series is very closely related to the current generation BMW 3-Series and 4-Series, sharing crash structures, large portions of the engine bay, suspension design themes and even interior components. In some ways you could even say BMW now has two different coupé and two different convertible versions of the 3-Series. That last part is important because the M235i weighs 3,535 pounds, just 100 pounds less than the 435i. More amazing is the four-door 335i is just 60 pounds heavier.

2015 BMW M235i Exterior-005

The Competition
The 2-Series lacks natural competition, but this time it’s not part of BMW’s diabolical plan. By shrinking the 3-Series and removing two doors, the 2-Series is the only RWD entry in a sea of European front drivers. While that’s not too much of a problem if you are buying a car for weekend wine tasting, it is a big differentiator when we’re talking performance metal. Therefore, I put the CLA45 AMG, Audi S3 and Euro-only RS3 in a different category. The forthcoming Mercedes C-Class coupé will compete with the 4-Series and the Porsche Cayman and Cayman S lack rear seats. If you want a small RWD luxury coupé with a back seat, this is it.

If you don’t like my re-categorization of the CLA45, ponder this: it’s the same size as the Volvo S60 Polestar, delivers similar horsepower and is based on a FWD vehicle just like the Volvo. Would you stick the S60 in the M235i mash-up? I thought not.

2015 BMW M235i Exterior.CR2-003

Exterior
Although related to the 335i and weighing about the same, the M235i is notably more compact. At 175.9 inches long, our tester was nearly eight inches shorter than a 3-Series sedan or 4-Series coupé. Think of the 2-Series as the modern 318i. The lower, wider, longer look of the 2-Series certainly looks more elegant and refined than the older 1-Series, but I always thought the cartoonish proportions of the 1 were part of the charm.

Like the 318i, the 2-Series is the discount entry point for traditional BMW shoppers. We have the familiar kidney grille up front and the classic BMW side profile with a long hood and a perky trunk. The biggest clue to the 228i’s low starting price is out back where we get one-piece tail lamps that are part of the body instead of the split design where half of the lamp is on the trunk. This design change reduces costs while simultaneously reducing the dimensions of the trunk opening.

2015 BMW M235i Interior-001

Interior
At $32,100, the 2-Series is one of the least expensive BMWs in the USA, so you shouldn’t be surprised that it also has one of the least luxurious BMW interiors. That said, the 2-Series’ interior is closer to the 4-Series than you’d think in overall materials quality and fit-and-finish despite being $8,200 less expensive. (What does that say about the 4-Seires?) Compared to your average mass market vehicle around $30,000, the 2-Series’ interior looks better put together, but the luxury move toward pleather in base models still strikes me as a false economy.

M235i models get BMW’s comfortable sport seats as standard with power adjustable side bolsters, 4-way lumbar and a manually extending thigh cushion for both the driver and front passenger. Taller drivers will want to consider deleting the sunroof as seat comfort is epic but headroom is limited. Surprisingly, there’s almost as much space in the back seat as you’ll find in the 4-Series despite the wheelbase shrinking a few inches vs its bigger cousin. In fact, the 435i’s spec sheet claims just 7/10ths of an inch more room. Although the size difference between the 2 and the 4 can be explained by the smaller trunk, it’s only about one cube smaller leaving me to wonder where the eight-inch-stretch goes.

If the 2 and 4 are similarly sized inside, why get the 4? It’s all about features. BMW doesn’t offer heads up displays, blind spot monitoring, lane keeping systems or radar cruise control on the M235i for any price. 2-Series models also lack the range of color and trim options and the optional all-around camera you find on the 4. Also, while BMW describes the leather the same way on both models, the leather on a dealer provided 428i felt softer.

2015 BMW M235i Interior-005

Infotainment
The 2-Series gets essentially the same infotainment options as the 3-series and 4-series. Like the 3 and 4, basic Bluetooth and USB/iDevice support is standard. For $500 BMW adds the ability to pair two phones at the same time, browse your Bluetooth media library, voice command contacts and music, and use the BMW Mobile Office software. (Calendars, voice memos, emails, tasks, etc.) This “Enhanced USB” package used to be bundled with BMW’s navigation software, but not for 2015. If you want all that functionality and navigation, add that to the $2,150 navigation package that also adds smartphone app integration. The current app suite allows you to Facebook, tweet and stream internet radio from your iPhone to the car’s radio. Although iDrive is the most expensive infotainment system in this small segment, the tasteful high-res graphics, fast interface and superior phone integration also make this the system to beat – if you can afford it.

Because of the 2-Series’ entry-level position in the BMW line-up, the up-level sound system delivers 360-watts and 12-speakers instead of 600-watts and 16 speakers as in the 4-Series.

2015 BMW M235i Engine.CR2-001

Drivetrain
228i models use BMW’s familiar 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder tuned to 240 horsepower and 255 lb-ft while M235i models get a tweaked version of BMW’s single-turbo inline six. The 320 horsepower is the same as the outgoing 135is while torque bumps up to 330 lb-ft. If you opt for rear wheel drive, both engines are mated to your choice of a 6-speed manual transmission or a ZF 8-speed automatic. Sadly, selecting BMW’s xDrive system nixes the manual.

The availability of xDrive in M Performance models can be seen as a way to placate all-wheel drive fans while keeping “true” M models pure. Purity aside, driving all four wheels is the fastest way to speed with the M235i xDrive scooting to 60 mph 2/10ths faster than the RWD model. Purists will likely want to wait for the M2 which should be tuned to between 360 and 370 ponies.

2015 BMW M235i Exterior.CR2-002

Drive
The M235i offers an interesting dilemma for the driving enthusiast. If you want the fastest model, that’s the one with an automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The slowest is the rear wheel drive model with the manual. My how times have changed. What hasn’t changed is the most fun is had in the row-it-yourself rear driver. Our tester scooted to 60 in 5.0 seconds, which is a hair behind BMW’s quoted 4.8 seconds, mainly because traction is an issue and I wasn’t as willing to roast the clutch as some. Get the 8-speed auto and the sprint drops to 4.6 seconds. The AWD M235i xDrive will accomplish the task in 4.4. That’s faster than the S3 and, depending on the transmission, a hair faster than Mercedes’ CLA45 AMG. Thanks to the 200 pounds gained compared to the outgoing 135is, the M235i’s extra twist doesn’t compensate and it’ll be a hair slower. Want a Cayman that fast? Be prepared to shell out for a Cayman S, GTS or GT4.

Although the M235i weighs about the same as the 335i and the 435i, BMW manages to make it feel different out on the road. The quick steering rack, slightly shorter wheelbase and tweaked suspension design make the M235i feel more nimble. You’ll notice I said feel. If you put the same rubber on a 435i that our M235i wore, it’d likely post identical skidpad numbers. Anyway you slice it, the old 1M will out-handle the M235i. The combination of electric power steering and BMW’s variable gear ratio steering rack (dubbed Variable Sport Steering) can make the M235i twitchy and a hair lifeless at highway speeds. That said, the RWD M235i has more steering feedback and better poise than the front-heavy CLA45 or S3 can ever hope for. Adding AWD to the M235i doesn’t make it feel like a CLA45 or S3. The CLA45 and S3 have to keep the center coupling locked most of the time in order to avoid FWD dynamics, while the M235i xDrive keeps the power to the rear unless its needed up front.

2015 BMW M235i Shifter

All M235i models get BMW’s adaptive M suspension tuned more towards the daily driver side of things than I expected. Drop the suspension into Sport mode and things firm up, but no mode in this suspension will make it as hard as the M4, something I’m grateful for. While this also means a hair more tip, dive and body roll than a “true M car,” it means the M235i xDrive is a 4.4 second daily driver – rain or shine.

Because BMW has been slowly morphing into the new Mercedes, none of what I have said so far surprised me. What did surprise me was the M235i’s price tag. Priced between $43,100 for a base RWD model with either transmission and $55,825 for a fully loaded AWD model, the BMW seriously undercuts the spendy CLA45 AMG and is just $2,000 more than the slower Audi S3. The Porsche Cayman is almost as different from the M235i as the CLA45 AMG is, but be prepared to spend at least $20,000 more on a Cayman if you want similar performance figures.

2015 BMW M235i Exterior

BMW has created one of the best performance buys around with the M235i. But, if you’re looking for a light, “chuckable” BMW, you will need to keep waiting. The M235i is a hoot, but like most modern BMWs, it’s more grand tourer than sports car.

After a week with the M235i, one thought came to my mind: this is the perfect Mercedes SLK. It’s faster and more fun than an SLK 350, significantly less expensive without feeling that much cheaper, and has a usable back seat. This isn’t the raw and direct coupé BMW enthusiasts are longing for, and that’s exactly why I like it. As much as I appreciated my time with the 6-speed rear wheel drive M235i, I have to admit if my money were on the line I would buy the M235i xDrive. I still think that the myriad of BMW performance trims is insane and confusing, yet I have to wonder what a 500 horsepower M550i xDrive would be like.

BMW provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.3 Seconds

0-60: 5.0 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 13.8 Seconds @ 106 MPH

2015 BMW M235i Cargo Pass Thru 2015 BMW M235i Engine.CR2 2015 BMW M235i Engine.CR2-001 2015 BMW M235i Engine.CR2-002 2015 BMW M235i Exterior.CR2 2015 BMW M235i Exterior.CR2-001 2015 BMW M235i Exterior.CR2-002 2015 BMW M235i Exterior.CR2-003 2015 BMW M235i Exterior 2015 BMW M235i Exterior-001 2015 BMW M235i Exterior1 2015 BMW M235i Exterior-002 2015 BMW M235i Exterior-003 + 2015 BMW M235i Exterior-005 2015 BMW M235i Gauges 2015 BMW M235i Gauges-001 2015 BMW M235i Interior.CR2-001 2015 BMW M235i Interior 2015 BMW M235i Interior-001 2015 BMW M235i Interior-002 2015 BMW M235i Interior-003 2015 BMW M235i Interior-005 2015 BMW M235i Shifter 2015 BMW M235i Trunk 2015 BMW M235i Trunk-001

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Crapwagon Outtake: 2000 BMW M Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/crapwagon-outtake-2000-bmw-m-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/crapwagon-outtake-2000-bmw-m-coupe/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 16:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1078050 As should be quite clear from my previous Crapwagon ramblings, I like weird cars. My current garage, however, is quite boring, with a domestic minvan and SUV, and a rusty/immobile Miata. For the last four years, my automotive wanderlust has been mostly sated by writing for Bring A Trailer. I’ve been able to stave my […]

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BMW M Coupe

As should be quite clear from my previous Crapwagon ramblings, I like weird cars. My current garage, however, is quite boring, with a domestic minvan and SUV, and a rusty/immobile Miata. For the last four years, my automotive wanderlust has been mostly sated by writing for Bring A Trailer. I’ve been able to stave my funky automotive cravings by writing about the cars rather than inviting a call from a divorce attorney.

There are a few cars that make me consider that tradeoff. Near the top of the list: an E36/8 Clownshoe, otherwise known as the M Coupe. Those massive flares, the short wheelbase, and the MGB GT-aping hatch make me feel all tingly. I followed a trailered, caged M Coupe last weekend for a while (I’m assuming it was headed to a trackday at Mid Ohio) and it gave me rather dirty thoughts.

This one is in Estoril Blue, my second favorite (behind Technoviolet) BMW hue of all. It has less than 60,000 miles on the odometer and is basically stock. The limited production numbers seem to be driving prices up, sadly out of reach of my meager wallet. I doubt these will reach 1M levels of insanity, but I can see $45,000 for a clean, low-mileage example like this one in about five years.

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