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. Sun, 30 Aug 2015 15:30:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 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 BMW Didn’t Receive “Save The Manuals” Christmas Card for MY2016, Retaliates [UPDATE] http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/bmw-didnt-receive-save-the-manuals-christmas-card-for-my2016-retaliates/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/bmw-didnt-receive-save-the-manuals-christmas-card-for-my2016-retaliates/#comments Sun, 30 Aug 2015 15:30:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1155962 UPDATE: According to commenter krhodes1 and Facebook commenter Michael Smith, the 228i manual (order code 162A) is still available and there is a bug in the configurator. Which reminds me, you should like The Truth About Cars on Facebook. Jalopnik is reporting that a number of BMW models — namely the 228i, 328i, and 428i […]

The post BMW Didn’t Receive “Save The Manuals” Christmas Card for MY2016, Retaliates [UPDATE] appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
bmw-228-track-7-1

UPDATE: According to commenter krhodes1 and Facebook commenter Michael Smith, the 228i manual (order code 162A) is still available and there is a bug in the configurator. Which reminds me, you should like The Truth About Cars on Facebook.

Jalopnik is reporting that a number of BMW models — namely the 228i, 328i, and 428i — have lost their manual options for 2016. BMW’s online configurator for the 2016 model year shows the cars as automatic-only options, effectively making the manual transmission a premium option by forcing manual-loving customers into higher trims.

Does this mean the end of the manual transmission as we know it? Probably not. (Yet.)

The models relieved of their manual transmission options represent the base models in their respective ranges, with the exception of the 320i. The base model 3-Series will still be available with a manual gearbox. Aside from the 320i, the 235i, 340i, and 435i are the new entry models for the row-your-own set.

This should come as no surprise considering more and more BMW customers are opting for the automatic, even those who purchase M cars such as the M3 and M4.

What is surprising is that these models have already been engineered and tested with manual transmissions and BMW is opting not to offer them even though the costs have already been incurred. Automakers typically wait for a generational change before dropping stick shift options, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with BMW.

The post BMW Didn’t Receive “Save The Manuals” Christmas Card for MY2016, Retaliates [UPDATE] appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/bmw-didnt-receive-save-the-manuals-christmas-card-for-my2016-retaliates/feed/ 60
Just How Bad Are the Automakers Taking a Beating in the Stock Market? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/just-bad-automakers-taking-beating-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/just-bad-automakers-taking-beating-market/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 17:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1151441 Markets around the world are down, down, down, down and down. At the time of this writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down roughly 650 points on Monday, which is more than 1,500 points off of where we were at the beginning of August. A lot of the run is fueled by fears that China […]

The post Just How Bad Are the Automakers Taking a Beating in the Stock Market? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Come on Carlos, let’s hit up the Limeys for some money. Picture courtesy of motortrend.com

Markets around the world are down, down, down, down and down.

At the time of this writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down roughly 650 points on Monday, which is more than 1,500 points off of where we were at the beginning of August. A lot of the run is fueled by fears that China is tapering off its growth (or they’ve been making it up for a while) and that Europe is tinkering on the brink of sinking into another recession.

There are plenty of financial sectors that are taking a beating. Automotive companies are no different. Here’s a rundown of publicly traded automakers and how much they’ve lost from their July 31 close to mid-day trading today.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest droppers are those with more exposure to China (Especially Toyota, whose production has been hampered by a blast in Tianjinand Tesla, whose second stock offering could be diluting shares in addition to the larger, global shock.

Tata Motors (TTM) — 29.66-23.01, -22.4 percent
Tesla Motors (TSLA) — 266.15-219.46, -17.5 percent
Toyota Motor Corp (TM) — 133.71-110.87, -17 percent
BMW (BMW.DE) — 91.30-77.88, -13.5 percent
Daimler (DDAIF) — 89.19-77.59, -13 percent
Nissan Motor Company (NSANY) — 19.34-16.90, -12.6 percent
Honda Motor Company (HMC) — 33.96-29.70, -12.5 percent
Ford Motor Company (F) — 15.18-13.21, -12.9 percent
General Motors (GM) — 32.08-28.22, -12 percent
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCAU) — 15.80-14.02, -11.2 percent
Volkswagen AG (VLKAY) — 40.35-36.56, -9.3 percent

Earlier this month, General Motors issued a statement before the massive stock sell off to ensure investors that it would endure a devalued Chinese currency. It’s “natural hedge,” or locally sourced suppliers, would help insulate it from massive market fluctuations, but not entirely. Last month, GM announced it would invest $5 billion in a joint venture with SAIC motors in China to locally build smaller cars.

On Monday, Daimler said it would press on further in China, despite worries that the market for luxury vehicles could be drying up, according to Automotive News.

Losing this much steam in China will undoubtedly have a ripple effect in the rest of the automotive world, that much is clear. The size of the wave has yet to be determined.

The post Just How Bad Are the Automakers Taking a Beating in the Stock Market? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/just-bad-automakers-taking-beating-market/feed/ 9
2015 Ford Mustang GT Review – No Longer A One-Trick Pony (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-ford-mustang-gt-review-no-longer-one-trick-pony-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-ford-mustang-gt-review-no-longer-one-trick-pony-video/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 16:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1149057 2015 Ford Mustang GT Premium 5.0-liter, DOHC V-8, CVVT (435 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm; 400 lbs-ft @ 4,240 rpm) 6-speed Getrag MT82 manual 15 city/25 highway/19 combined (EPA Rating, MPG) 18.2 mpg (Observed, MPG) Tested Options: GT Premium Trim, Ruby Red Paint, 401A Package, Performance Package, Adaptive Cruise Control, Navigation, Recaro Seats Base Price: $30,875* As Tested: $45,470* * All prices include $900 destination charge. Ford’s Mustang is […]

The post 2015 Ford Mustang GT Review – No Longer A One-Trick Pony (With Video) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-010

2015 Ford Mustang GT Premium

5.0-liter, DOHC V-8, CVVT (435 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm; 400 lbs-ft @ 4,240 rpm)

6-speed Getrag MT82 manual

15 city/25 highway/19 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

18.2 mpg (Observed, MPG)

Tested Options: GT Premium Trim, Ruby Red Paint, 401A Package, Performance Package, Adaptive Cruise Control, Navigation, Recaro Seats

Base Price:
$30,875*
As Tested:

$45,470*

* All prices include $900 destination charge.

Ford’s Mustang is as American as the hot dog and KFC Double Down, but for 2015 it received an internationally-focused makeover. Since 1964, the Mustang has been the place to find a large V8, a manual transmission and a solid rear axle. That solid axle has been a point of contention for foreign auto journalists who frequently compared the Ford’s handling to a pickup truck, and decried the GT as a one-trick pony: the car that was excellent in a straight line at a drag strip — and that was about it. That’s a problem when Ford’s new mission is greater harmony in their lineup worldwide.

While 2015 retains the large V8 engine, manual transmission and rear wheel drive we’ve all come to know and love, it brings the first completely independent suspension to every Mustang in over 50 years. Also big news for 2015 is the resurrection of a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, something we haven’t seen since the Fox body Mustang of the early 1990s. In a nod to our friends in Old Blighty, a factory-made right hand drive model is also in the works. All of these changes are because this Mustang is suddenly thrust into a much bigger pool of competitors.

Can Ford teach this pony some new tricks to compensate?


Exterior
The first thing you’ll notice about the new Mustang is the Aston Martin meets Fusion meets Mustang styling. The sheetmetal looks more elegant and more intentional than before. While the 2014 looked cartoonish from some angles, the 6th generation ‘Stang doesn’t seem to have a bad angle to be found. It’s clear Ford not only spent more time styling their new 2-door, but is also spending more on stamping the metal as we have more curves and angles providing visual interest. The front quarter panel for instance rises up, then curves back down to meet the hood panel, giving the front of the Mustang something of a “proto-fin.” We’re hyped that 2016 will bring back turn signals integrated into the hood vents (visible to the driver) in certain trims.

2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-014

All Mustang models now come standard with HID headlamps, a nice touch in a segment that generally lacks modern lighting. Out back, the sequential turn signals are now made from LED strips inside large vertical plastic housings with deep recesses between the lamp modules. The look is striking, but proved more effort to clean than I had considered.

The sleek profile belies the sixth generation’s shrinkage of about two inches versus the out outgoing model. The loss in length helps the Mustang slightly in international markets where the Ford is considered a large two-door. In terms of comparisons, the Mustang is nearly a foot longer than the BMW M235i we recently reviewed, about the same size as a 435i, and a foot shorter than a Dodge Challenger. The main reason for the long body, of course, is the massive engine bay designed to longitudinally accommodate large engines.

There was a great deal of speculation about Ford’s right-sizing program. Would a weight reduction be part of the package? The answer is no, the Mustang has actually gained a little weight in this generation. Contrary to the earlier rampant “weightgate” speculation, curb weight is up just 20 to 80 pounds, depending on how you compare a 2014 trim to a 2015 trim.

2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-004

Interior
The one area that didn’t receive as much attention is the interior. The style is fresh and instantly recognizable as a Mustang, but we only get an incremental improvement in the feel of the parts. There are still plenty of hard plastics lower in the interior including the center console and areas where your knee and leg are likely to rest. (Remember that the Mustang starts under $24,000.) The new steering wheel is loaded with buttons, but thankfully I found the layout intuitive. Lovers of thick-rimmed steering wheels will be disappointed to find that the tiller is no thicker than the Ford Edge we recently tested.

When looking at the Mustang parked next to a BMW 2-Series, you might assume the Ford would be larger inside. You would be wrong. The Mustang and the 2016 Camaro have about the same amount of front and rear seat legroom as the baby Bimmer, with the Mustang actually being slightly smaller inside. This mainly has to do with the position of the engine in the Mustang and the size of the engine bay which makes the nose longer to give it a proportion similar to a British sports coupé. Meanwhile, BMW pushes the engine a little further back making the overall packaging more compact. On the upside, the Mustang has more footwell room making it more comfortable for folks with larger feet.

2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-011

Our tester had the nearly $1,600 optional Recaro seat package. If you track your car regularly, and need the aggressive bolstering, and are about my size or smaller, get them. Everyone else should avoid them entirely. The standard seats are softer and more comfortable, they offer more lumbar support and the Premium trim of the Mustang would normally get memory-linked power seats, adjustable lumbar support as well as heating and ventilation. All of those features are given up for the Recago logo, and it’s just not a good trade. A quick spin in a dealer provided GT without the Recaro seats, but with the Performance Package, confirmed that the firmer suspension is also easier to live with if you get the base seats. The difference is more pronounced when you consider the Mustang comes with very comfortable seats in every other version, beating the current Camaro and Challenger easily, and are actually quite competitive with the standard seats in the 2-Series, 4-Series and Lexus RC.

Hop in the back and you are reminded the Mustang is best described as a “2+2 coupé” where the last digit is a little smaller than the first. While not as tight as a Jaguar XK, the back seat should be reserved for small children or your legless friends. With the driver’s seat adjusted comfortably for my 6-foot frame, there was a 3-inch gap between my seat back and the rear seat bottom cushion. (I prefer an upright position when driving a manual.) Convertible shoppers will be pleased to know that rear headroom actually increases if you chose the rag top. At 13.5 cubic feet, the Mustang’s trunk is also similar in size to the BMW 2-Series, but Ford thankfully uses hidden hinges to make the most out of the trunk. You should know that the optional ShakerPro speaker package consumes just over a cubic foot of space.

2015 Mustang My Ford Touch

Infotainment
Our pony car had Ford’s optional MyFord Touch infotainment system. This software is due to be replaced in 2016 by Ford’s completely redesigned SYNC3 system. MFT is one of the most maligned infotainment systems on the market, but it is also one of the most fully featured. Even in 2015, there are still mainline brands that don’t offer voice command of your USB-connected music library. At this point, Ford has addressed most of the major issues that plagued MFT, except for the speed. Interacting with the touchscreen requires patience as screen changes are considerably slower than the Hyundai, Chrysler and GM alternatives. SYNC includes an integrated telematics system that emails vehicle health reports, allows you to call a concierge, request emergency assistance and knows when your airbags have gone off. On the downside, this system is dependant on a paired Bluetooth phone to actually make the calls — so if you’ve forgotten your phone and you get in an accident, the car can’t dial for help.

Our tester included the optional navigation software and the up-level ShakerPro branded speaker system. The 12-speaker system uses a trunk mounted subwoofer, a dash-mounted center channel speaker and a 550-watt 9-channel amp. The system is certainly tuned with a significant bass punch, but overall it is still well balanced. It had no problems rocking my Vanilla Ice album all the way to A1A Beachfront Avenue.

2015 Forg Mustang GT Engine-003

Drivetrain
The big engine news for 2015 isn’t that the 3.7-liter V-6 lost a few ponies, or even that Vanilla’s five-point-oh is still available; it’s that we have the first four-cylinder Mustang in quite some time. To make room for the new EcoBoost mill, Ford de-tuned the V6 slightly to 300 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 280 lb-ft of twist at 4,000. That means that unlike the Camaro, the four-cylinder is an upgrade, not the base engine. Checking the EcoBoost box gives you 310 horsepower at a lower 5,500 rpm and a whopping 320 lb-ft at a low 3,000 rpm. But I’m here to talk about what separates this American from the European and Asian options. Five. Point. Oh. Revving up to 7,000 rpm and featuring twin independent variable valve timing, the Coyote V-8’s only modern omission is direct-injection. Power comes in at 435 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 400 lb-ft at 4,250 rpm. (The recently announced 5.2-liter V-8 Shelby is a perfect example of naturally aspirated engine designs vs turbo engine design. The 2016 Shelby GT350 will bump power by 91 horsepower but torque by only 29 lb-ft. Compared to the twin-turbo German V8s, the horsepower is similar but torque is notably lower.)

Unusual in 2015, even in performance cars, is your choice of manual or automatic transmissions on all models (in 2016, the Shelby will be manual only) and your choice doesn’t interfere with the options packages. That means you can get the GT and EcoBoost Mustangs with radar cruise control, all the goodies and still get the 6-speed stick. (There have been some complaints about the Getrag MT82 manual transmission but I didn’t experience an unusual shift feel during my week. Be sure to let us know if you’ve had a problem with yours in the comment section below. There has been quite a bit of forum buzz regarding “clunks and thunks”.) Also a little unusual these days is the option of multiple rear axle ratios. For those that are unfamiliar, axle ratios are the final “link” in the chain for your drivetrain. The transmission’s 3.65:1 first gear ratio is multiplied by the rear axle you chose — 3.31, 3.55 or 3.73 — to get the effective total ratio of 12:1, 12.9:1, or 13.6:1. (All three ratios are available in the EcoBoost model but just the 3.55 and 3.73 are offered in the GT). That has a big impact on acceleration and fuel economy since the 6th gear ratios have the same variance. The available axle ratios are why fuel economy has dropped in the V-6’s EPA test, as Ford is no longer offering the 2.73:1 rear axle in the V-6 like they did in 2014. This means the base V-6 in 2015 is much peppier, but the MPGs drop two steps. This is where the EcoBoost model steps in with 31 or 32 mpg combined (depending on the transmission) despite giving you more power, more torque and a more aggressive rear axle ratio than the base 2014 V-6. On the downside, power and economy figures for the 5.0 and 2.3 are based on premium unleaded.

2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-001

Drive
Over twenty years ago, I was learning to drive on my neighbor’s 1988 2.3-liter four-cylinder Mustang LX with a shot clutch. My how times have changed. Back then 300 horsepower was a pipe dream, the GT’s 6.3 second 0-60 time was rad to the max and a 32 mpg Mustang was as likely as a blue unicorn. Even ten years ago, the thought that the Mustang would be serious competition to the imports was wishful thinking, but the sixth-generation pony offers 300 horses standard, the mid-range model gets over 30 mpg on the highway, and every version is faster to 60 than it was in 1988. Combined with a more refined and capable suspension, this is that unicorn.

The 2014 Mustang’s rear end got upset on broken pavement and felt heavy in the corners. The 2015 feels composed and significantly lighter in comparison, despite actually being heavier. The GT still feels slightly front heavy in the corners, no surprise with a large V8 under the hood, but the EcoBoost model feels much better balanced. Thanks to the gearing and tire selection, all versions are tail happy when prodded. Next year brings us a new Camaro with a Cadillac ATS-derived chassis and suspension, something that bodes very well for the bowtie brand as well. However, this is 2015 and the current Camaro is a notch behind the outgoing Mustang. Absolute handling is obviously a factor of your tire choice, and ours was equipped with the optional Pirelli PZero summer rubber in a staggered 255/40R19 front, 275/40R19 rear setup. In an interesting twist, the suspension is quite firm but there’s more body roll than you’d expect.

2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-007

If you’re a traditionalist, fear not. The Mustang, especially our GT tester, is still about well-priced straight-line performance. The V-6 will sprint to 60 in 5.8 seconds, the turbo will do it in 5.6, and our GT in a swift 4.6 seconds with launch control enabled and the 6-speed manual. A nice touch: Unlike many cars out there with launch control, Ford keeps it crazy simple. Once enabled in the LCD between the speedo and tach. it stays on. Period. That means you don’t have to worry about fiddling with menus; you just floor it, release the clutch and let the nannies do their thing. The car retains the setting even through ignition cycles. You can improve things further by double-tapping the traction control button and enabling sport mode which allows a little more action in the rear. (Note: Ford says that both systems should be used on the track only. Sure…) Of course, you’ve probably also heard about Ford’s nifty line lock feature that allows perfect burnouts every time without wearing your rear brake pads.

The GT’s 7,000 rpm redline means that the ‘Stang sings like a high-revving European sports coupé more than a Camaro or Challenger. Since all the ponies come to a trot at 6,500 rpm, you’ll spend a great deal of time at those lofty heights. The good news is thanks to the throttle mapping and general character of the 2015, it revs easily, happily and sounds great while doing it.

2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-009

Thanks to electric power steering, the Mustang’s wheel is as numb as most of the competition, although BMW and Nissan manage to transmit more road feel in the M235i and 370Z. Skipping the Performance Package makes the GT more driveable on a daily basis in terms of suspension tuning, and in that form the body roll seems well-balanced with the spring firmness. The downside of skipping the pack is the reduced grip. If I were shopping in this segment I’d probably skip the package and use the cash to swap in some sticky rubber. If you do get the package, I suggest some stiffer sway bars.

Ford set the base price for 2015 low — very low. At $23,800, the Mustang undercuts the Camaro and Genesis Coupé by $3,000 and the 370Z by nearly $6,000. That means that for the price of the base 2.0-liter, 275-horsepower 2016 Camaro, or the Genesis Coupé V-6, you could get a 2.3-liter EcoBoost ‘Stang with an option or two. A base Z will cost you more than a well-equipped V-6 Ford or only about $2,500 less than a Mustang GT. At $32,850, the BMW 228i is a whopping $7,550 more than the more powerful EcoBoost model, and the M235i is $11,850 more than a Mustang GT. Why all this focus on the M235i? Because the Mustang actually reminded me a great deal of the small BMW. The Mustang finally feels light and nimble, and at the same time the M235i feels far more substantial than small BMWs of the past. While the BMW does feel more refined, the delta has never been smaller. With previous generations, one could have argued that the BMW’s greater refinement was worth $10,000. With this generation, I wouldn’t pay more than $1,000 for the extra feel in the BMW. That’s a problem because in order for the M235i to be as fast as our $45,470 tester, you would need to add the 8-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, both of which would make it less fun. Better in the rain, but less fun. The added hardware also makes the M235i xDrive tip the scales at 3,695 pounds, just 10 pounds lighter than the Ford, and still considerably more expensive. Although the BMW’s suspension is better sorted and more settled, if you shod them with identical tires, the Mustang will be right on the 2-Series’ bumper.

Is the Mustang perfect? No. I wish the interior was a little more comfortable and the automatic transmission needs a few more gears in order to match the competition. Hyundai, BMW, GM and Chrysler have gone 8-speed and even Nissan is one cog higher at 7 in the 370Z. That means there is still a toll to be paid for selecting the automatic, while the competition’s slushboxes promise improved fuel economy and improved acceleration. Still, the Ford holds true to what the Mustang has always promised: performance at a reasonable price. The big news is that those reasonable prices come with surprisingly few compromises and it’s entirely possible to consider the Mustang as a value alternative to a German coupé. Comparing a Pony Car to a compact German coupé used to be ridiculous, but this pony is a blue unicorn that’s learned a few tricks.

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

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.0 Seconds

0-60: 4.6 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 13 Seconds @ 112 MPH

2015 Ford Mustang Exterior 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-001 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-002 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-003 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-004 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-005 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-006 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-007 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-008 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-009 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-010 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-011 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-012 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-013 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-014 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-001 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-002 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-003 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-004 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-005 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-006 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-007 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-008 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-009 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-010 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-011 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-012 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-013 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-014 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-015 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-016 2015 Ford Mustang Trunk 2015 Ford Mustang Trunk-001 2015 Ford Mustang Trunk-002 2015 Forg Mustang GT Engine 2015 Forg Mustang GT Engine-001 2015 Forg Mustang GT Engine-002 2015 Forg Mustang GT Engine-003

The post 2015 Ford Mustang GT Review – No Longer A One-Trick Pony (With Video) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-ford-mustang-gt-review-no-longer-one-trick-pony-video/feed/ 64
2017 Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe Officially Official http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2017-mercedes-amg-c63-coupe-officially-official/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2017-mercedes-amg-c63-coupe-officially-official/#comments Thu, 20 Aug 2015 17:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1148289 Mercedes-AMG took the wrapper off its dual-flavored C63 AMG Coupe on Wednesday — and to quote the great Denny Green: “They are who we thought they were.” The Affalterbach duo was shown online after weeks of teases and official photo “leaks” two days ago. The only surprise left were the official specs of the coupes, […]

The post 2017 Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe Officially Official appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé (C 205) 2015

Mercedes-AMG took the wrapper off its dual-flavored C63 AMG Coupe on Wednesday — and to quote the great Denny Green: “They are who we thought they were.”

The Affalterbach duo was shown online after weeks of teases and official photo “leaks” two days ago. The only surprise left were the official specs of the coupes, which were close to what many people predicted.

The C63 “normal” will boast 476 horsepower and 479 pounds-feet of torque, while the C63 S will bump up to 510 hp and 516 pounds-feet of twist. Earlier estimates, based on the C63 sedan, were pegged 6 and 7 horsepower fewer, respectively. And curb weight, provided you’re a 150-pound human, with 15 pounds of cargo and nearly a full tank of fuel (I love how specific Mercedes can be) is 3,968 pounds for the C63 and 3,935 for the C63 S. (Unladen, the C63 and C63 S is 3,802 pounds and 3,769 pounds, respectively.)According to Mercedes-AMG, the C63 will run up to 62 mph [or 100 km/h!!! -Mark] in 4 seconds (C63 S is 3.9 seconds), which is nearly identical to the BMW M4, despite the two cars being separated by roughly 50 horsepower and 200 pounds. But unlike the M4, the C63 only comes with one (not manual) 7-speed transmission choice.

The hood of the C63 is 2.3 inches longer than a regular C-Class coupe, and the performance coupe will be shod with 255 millimeter tires up front, and impossibly wide 285s in back.

Mercedes-AMG says the C63 will manage 26 mpg in combined fuel economy and will be available for purchase in March 2016. The car will be shown to the public next month at the Frankfurt Auto Show.

Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé (C 205) 2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé (C 205) 2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé (C 205) 2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé (C 205) 2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé (C 205) 2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé (C 205) 2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé (C 205) 2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé (C 205) 2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé (C 205) 2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé (C 205) 2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé (C 205) 2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé (C 205) 2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé (C 205) 2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé (C 205) 2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé (C 205) 2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé (C 205) 2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé (C 205) 2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé (C 205) 2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé (C 205) 2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé (C 205) 2015

The post 2017 Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe Officially Official appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2017-mercedes-amg-c63-coupe-officially-official/feed/ 5
Report: Next-gen BMW M3 Will Be All-Wheel Drive Plug-in Hybrid http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/report-next-gen-bmw-m3-will-plug-hybrid/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/report-next-gen-bmw-m3-will-plug-hybrid/#comments Fri, 14 Aug 2015 17:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1142001 TheDetroitBureau’s Paul Eisenstein has a fine piece of reporting that the next-generation of BMW’s iconic M3 will have a hybrid, plug-in powertrain — a first for the performance sub-brand. Eisenstein says internal sources provided the information. According to the report, the rear wheels would be driven by the gasoline engine, which could be the M3’s current […]

The post Report: Next-gen BMW M3 Will Be All-Wheel Drive Plug-in Hybrid appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
BMW M3

TheDetroitBureau’s Paul Eisenstein has a fine piece of reporting that the next-generation of BMW’s iconic M3 will have a hybrid, plug-in powertrain — a first for the performance sub-brand. Eisenstein says internal sources provided the information.

According to the report, the rear wheels would be driven by the gasoline engine, which could be the M3’s current boosted six — or even perhaps an ultra-potent four. Up front, one or two electric motors could power the forward wheels. Eisenstein’s story points out that by using tandem electric motors, the M3 would have baked-in torque vectoring that engineers could exploit for handling performance.

If the report is true, that E36 M3 you passed up on Craigslist eight years ago will soon be worth eleventy billion dollars.A plug-in hybrid M3 would be a seismic shift for the German automaker.

Already, supercar makers such as McLaren and Ferrari have used similar technology for cars that cost more than $1 million, and BMW’s system could use a kinetic energy recovery system, although it’s unclear in the report how it would be used.

Porsche’s Panamera S E-Hybrid already uses a plug-in hybrid powertrain, although that car is in a much different segment than the M3.

The report says engineers initially balked at the additional weight a plug-in powertrain would add, but lightweight materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum found in the i8 could help offset those losses.

A plug-in hybrid could also make the future for BMW’s sub-brand “i” less clear. A few days ago, BMW CEO Harald Kruger said the “i” brand could have more cars in its lineup, but it’s clear that some of the technologies such as electrification and lightweight materials appear to be bleeding into the mainstream lineup.

And a plug-in hybrid system seriously casts a shadow of the future of manuals for BMW’s M division.

The post Report: Next-gen BMW M3 Will Be All-Wheel Drive Plug-in Hybrid appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/report-next-gen-bmw-m3-will-plug-hybrid/feed/ 39
Would Today’s Porsche & BMW Buyers Drive a 356B or 2002? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/todays-porsche-bmw-buyers-drive-356b-2002/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/todays-porsche-bmw-buyers-drive-356b-2002/#comments Thu, 13 Aug 2015 14:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1140258 They were sitting right next to each other at the auction preview — probably happenstance, a mere coincidence that they were adjacent, but seeing a Porsche 356B and a BMW 2002 just a few feet apart I couldn’t help but wonder if most of the people who buy Porsches and BMWs today would be happy […]

The post Would Today’s Porsche & BMW Buyers Drive a 356B or 2002? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
IMG_0174

They were sitting right next to each other at the auction preview — probably happenstance, a mere coincidence that they were adjacent, but seeing a Porsche 356B and a BMW 2002 just a few feet apart I couldn’t help but wonder if most of the people who buy Porsches and BMWs today would be happy with those cars.

IMG_0148

The analogy isn’t perfect but both of those cars hold similar places in their manufacturers’ histories. They both put their makers on the map as far as car enthusiasts were concerned and established them as serious players in the North American automobile market.

As essential to Porsche’s image as the 911 is today, it must be remembered that the 911 was introduced in the mid 1960s, a decade and a half after Ferry Porsche cobbled together some VW Beetle parts to make the first Porsche branded car in 1948. It gave Porsche their first class victory at LeMans and established them as an automaker. Legendary importer Max Hoffman started bringing them into the United States. The first car was designated the 356, to be followed by A, B and finally C versions of the design, each iteration being less Volkswagen and more Porsche, and with more performance, too. Had it not been for the 356, there would be no Cayenne, Panamera, or Macan, and the 919 hybrid would not have won at LeMans this year.

IMG_0162a

Likewise, the BMW 2002 is arguably the seminal car in modern BMW history. It was the ultimate derivative of the 1500 “New Class” BMW, which, in time, became the 1600 and then the 2000. It was BMW’s first postwar car that was a real sedan and not a microcar, and the New Class cars saved the company financially. The 2000 introduced a 2-liter version of the M10 four-cylinder engine. The lighter, stiffer two door version — the 2002 — became popular with enthusiasts and was the basis of Bob Lutz’s fabulously successful “Ultimate Driving Machine” marketing campaign that still resonates. The 2002 was the car that established BMW’s reputation as a maker of sporting sedans, particularly in North America and it is seen by many as the spiritual ancestor of the 3-Series, a major part of BMW’s brand identity.

The 2002’s success, both in the marketplace and in terms of its embrace by enthusiasts (and enthusiast publications, no small factor in the 2002’s success) laid the groundwork for BMW to become the full line luxury car maker they are today.

IMG_0154

Today, though, BMW sells a lot more different types of vehicles than 2 door sport sedans and Porsche’s lineup today includes two trucklets and a four door sedan, in addition to their 911 and Boxster sports car variants. Can you see someone contemplating the purchase of a BMW X6 with an audiophile sound system and heated and cooled ventilated leather seats being happy with that 2002 as a daily driver? It doesn’t even have a radio, let alone air conditioning.

BMW 2002 interior

BMW 2002 interior

The 356B is even more spartan that the 2002, and I’m betting that your average Cayenne driver would find it lacking in creature comforts and performance as well. Someone used to a modern turbocharged Cayenne or one of the Macans is not likely to be happy with just 80 horsepower. Actually, someone driving a four-cylinder econobox is not likely to be happy with the 356B’s performance. They were slow by mid-1960s standards. Why do you think they came out with the six cylinder 911? Also, by the time the 356B came out, most of the components were Porsche specific, not VW Type I parts. Meanwhile, it’s impossible to hide the plebeian origins of the 356, something today’s Veblen consumers of Porsches might find a bit déclassé.

Porsche 356B interior

Porsche 356B interior

It’s possible that these vintage cars aren’t even on the radar screen of modern day BMW and Porsche owners. E30 3-series cars are what plenty of people today consider an old BMW. In the Porsche community, the demarcation line between vintage and late model is probably between the air-cooled 993s and the water-cooled 996s of the late 1990s, not between the 356 and the first 911/912 in the early 1960s. Come to think of it, today’s 911 buyers might not be happy with an early 911, let alone a 356.

Opening up the engine hatch on the 356B reveals its VW Beetle origins, though by 1963 VW and Porsche engines shared few parts.

Opening up the engine hatch on the 356B reveals its VW Beetle origins, though by 1963 VW and Porsche engines shared few parts.

Oh, I’m sure that quite of few of the true believing purists that today make up a minority of the folks who drive German performance cars would still treasure a chance to drive either one of these cars. The sort of person who is willing to pay more to Porsche for a lighter, less-luxuriously equipped, more track focused GT3 or the like, probably has some knowledge of the brand’s history and can likely appreciate that 356, but then I’m willing to guess that they’re also not daily driving that GT3. Commuting in the 356 might get old much faster than it would in a modern Porsche track car.

So what sayest thou? Do you think today’s Porsche and BMW owners could be happy with 40 or 50 year old examples of their favorite marque? If you own a car from either of those two brands, whether modern or vintage, I’m particularly interested in hearing your opinions.

Photos by the author. Full photo galleries can be found here (BMW) and here (Porsche).

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

The post Would Today’s Porsche & BMW Buyers Drive a 356B or 2002? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/todays-porsche-bmw-buyers-drive-356b-2002/feed/ 62
Cadillac Slowing its Plans to Sell Cars in Europe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/cadillac-slowing-plans-sell-cars-europe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/cadillac-slowing-plans-sell-cars-europe/#comments Wed, 12 Aug 2015 22:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1140154 Cadillac likely won’t push to sell more cars in Europe before 2020, the company’s CEO Johan de Nysschen told analysts on Tuesday. “We’ll go to that market when we have the right powertrains and the right cars,” he said Tuesday, according to the Detroit News. Previously, Cadillac had planned some right-hand drive models and diesel powertrains […]

The post Cadillac Slowing its Plans to Sell Cars in Europe appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
004-2016-cadillac-ct6-1

Cadillac likely won’t push to sell more cars in Europe before 2020, the company’s CEO Johan de Nysschen told analysts on Tuesday.

“We’ll go to that market when we have the right powertrains and the right cars,” he said Tuesday, according to the Detroit News.

Previously, Cadillac had planned some right-hand drive models and diesel powertrains to help it gain a foothold in European markets. According to the report, Cadillac has sold only 838 cars in Europe so far this year. Cadillac wants to sell 500,000 cars globally by 2020, de Nysschen said.

Instead of Europe, de Nysschen told J.P. Morgan Auto Conference attendees (we guess our invitation just got lost in the mail, or something) that Cadillac would focus on strengthening its position in China, Russia and the Middle East.

The report didn’t detail how Cadillac would combat crumbling or slowing economies in China or Russia, but it’s clear that Cadillac is going to wait until its portfolio is much, much stronger before it attempts to seriously compete with the Germans in their own backyard.

Global sales of Cadillacs are up 1.5 percent, led by a 7.4-percent rise in China, and despite a 2.4-percent slowdown in America.

The post Cadillac Slowing its Plans to Sell Cars in Europe appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/cadillac-slowing-plans-sell-cars-europe/feed/ 47
2015 BMW X6 M Review – Paid in Full http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-bmw-x6-m-paid-full/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-bmw-x6-m-paid-full/#comments Wed, 12 Aug 2015 15:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1138914 2015 BMW X6 M 4.4-liter, twin turbocharged V-8 with direct injection and variable valve control (567 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 553 pounds-feet of torque @ 2,000-5,500 rpm)8-speed M Sport automatic 14 city/19 highway/16 combined (EPA Rating, MPG) 16.8 mpg combined, 60 percent highway, 40 percent asshat (Observed, MPG) Tested Options: Driver Assistance Plus – $1,900; Executive […]

The post 2015 BMW X6 M Review – Paid in Full appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015BMWX6M-1

2015 BMW X6 M
4.4-liter, twin turbocharged V-8 with direct injection and variable valve control (567 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 553 pounds-feet of torque @ 2,000-5,500 rpm)8-speed M Sport automatic

14 city/19 highway/16 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

16.8 mpg combined, 60 percent highway, 40 percent asshat (Observed, MPG)

Tested Options: Driver Assistance Plus – $1,900; Executive Package – $4,500; Enhanced Bluetooth and smartphone – $500.

Base Price:
$103,050 w/ $950 destination charge
As Tested Price:
$109,950 w/ $950 destination charge

For most people who find themselves burdened with the choice between fast and big: Salud, you’ve made it somewhere. For the small number of people who scoff at those physical encumbrances: pay your taxes, please. You’re using the road more than the rest of us. 

Imagine, if you can, a Venn diagram of two relatively equal circles representing a traditional buyer’s decision between two cars that, everything else being equal, represent the physical problem of mass and its direct effect on velocity. Two unrelated sets of realities — speed and size — very rarely converge in the physical world, unless those sets are colored Castrol red, Bavarian blue and of course, purple, I guess.

I’m making this point because the BMW X6 M seems, well, kind of pointless. On paper, the big SUV doesn’t scream that it wants to be taken off road (and dent those 21-inch wheels?!) nor does it seem like it wants to go that fast. After all, 5,185 pounds is large enough to have its own weather system.

The curve toward the speed of light, Albert Einstein taught us, gets exponentially steeper toward the top because moving any mass closer to the speed of light requires infinitely greater energy, but I’m not sure that Einstein ever gazed at BMW’s 4.4-liter, twin-scrolling turbocharged V-8 lump under the hood of the X6 M.

2015BMWX6M-7

Powertrain
The mill, which is new despite having the same displacement as the old engine, outputs 567 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque, up 12 horsepower and 53 pound-feet from the last generation. The subdued symphony of turbos and pounding pistons rockets the two-and-a-half ton machine up to 60 mph in about four seconds. Yikes.

Married to a traditional 8-speed automatic, the X6 M swaps cogs fast enough to keep up with its angry motor. The decision to use a normal torque converter instead of a dual-clutch box makes sense for two reasons: first, takeoff is much smoother in the traditional automatic; and second, there’s virtually no benefit to shaving milliseconds in a car that has no business at the track anyway.

Yes, yes, I’ve seen and heard the “can,” but astride the X6 M’s massive shoes and hulking 5,000-pound mass, one really ponders “should.” Chewing through the X6 M’s wide, 325-millimeter rubbers in the rear is no pleasure; you’re defying physics to catch up with the pack, not mastering the machinery.

Since BMW started applying its M badges — and presumably M mechanicals — to SUVs in the States in 2009, more than 20,000 examples have rolled off the lots and on to the streets. That’s hardly commonplace, but it is brisk for a series of cars that cost six figures to start — the X6 M starts at $103,050. The X6 M has company too: Porsche’s Cayenne Turbo, Range Rover’s coming SVR, Maserati’s upcoming unnamed SUV, and Jeep’s Grand Cherokee SRT8 (and likely Trackhawk) all play in the super-sized performance SUV category for near-to-makes-no-difference $100,000.

The X6 M will play ball with them all, if only because its engine qualifies as one of the engineering marvels of the known universe.

2015BMWX6M-2

Exterior
All of those new competitors forced BMW’s hand to remake the X6 M a little faster than it would have liked, I’m guessing.

You could be forgiven for confusing the second generation from looking pretty similar to the first. This year’s car is barely longer, wider or higher than the outgoing generation, and the 115.5-inch wheelbase is the same. From the side, the two cars are nearly identical — except for the larger wheels, which were 20-inch shoes last time around. This year’s X6 M sports an updated front fascia with a classier grille and sharper snout. Around back, the rear haunches have been overemphasized and it’s squat, quad pipes in the back relay the engine’s quiet riot to the outside world. The wider arches, deeper chin and shouty pipes hint for bystanders at what the impossibly wide tires confirm: the X6 M is a wholly different beast altogether.

If you’re looking for something practical, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for something that looks completely different on the road — well, here’s your steed.

If you asked me what was different from the last generation without much time to prepare, I’d say the rear quarter is the only thing new on the surface. A week later, I still feel the same way. Oh yeah, and the grille, I guess.

2015BMWX6M-9

Interior
Inside the X6 M is the best of what BMW’s upper echelon cars can provide. Soft leathers, comfortable seating and power everything is what we’d expect from a German luxury carmaker, but oh my goodness is it expensive. As a BMW owner, the diverging materials the company is using in their cars sadden me, but I understand why it’s happening.

Not long ago, the parentage was unmistakable in an entry-level BMW and its most expensive model. Nowadays, the difference between an entry-level 320i and this X6 M is the difference between the Four Seasons and an air mattress in your grandmother’s garage. The interior of the X6 M is gorgeous, and it absolutely needs to be.

Rear legroom and headroom is down slightly from the last generation, but anyone who’s buying the X6 M looking for practicality should be scissor-kicked by reality: its rear cargo room is comically small and there’s people you could afford to hire to haul your kids, go to the grocery store and pick up your dry cleaning. If you must: rear legroom is down to 35.6 inches and cargo area is rated at 26.6 cubic feet.

Our tester added ventilated seats, which didn’t work, a connected smartphone harness, which was too small, and a touch-sensitive navigation pad for the infotainment system, which couldn’t read my childish handwriting.

Have I mentioned how god-like the powertrain is?

2015BMWX6M-10

Infotainment
Have I mentioned how god-like the powertrain is?

(In reality, BMW’s 10.2-inch high resolution screen is infinitely sharp and responsive. I prefer Mercedes’ menu navigation and Audi’s newly found compartmentalized approach to infotainment, but BMW’s system is no slouch. The redundant buttons around its clickwheel are easy to memorize and helpful when you’re pushing the car into a mountain corner at 60 mph.)

2015BMWX6M-3

Drive
Behind the wheel, the X6 M is an incremental improvement over the last generation’s car. BMW says a half second was shaved from its 0-60 time and the stopping power has been increased by platter-sized rotors with more stopping power than morning breath, but that’s a minor detail. The X6 M’s biggest improvement, to me, is in its comfortability — or you know, when there are other people in the car.

The three transmission modes, three steering modes, three throttle modes and three damping modes all feature an “easy there, pal” setting that settles the car into a normal routine. That’s useful for when you want to pass a gas station without stopping at it (we observed 16 mpg in hard driving, 19 mpg when we eased off), and when you have kids in the car.

Get it on an open road and dial the car past “easy” and you’ll see how savage it can be. The X6 M is every bit as fun to drive as you’d imagine commanding more than 550 horsepower would be. Rocketing up to speed and maneuvering the car around twisty stuff is more fun than picking on your younger brother, and the X6 M is flatter in the corners than a Kansas accent. You can’t not love this car.

But you can’t test it very well. Despite its ability to hide its weight, the BMW X6 M always surpasses your ability and will never reveal its secret. And it’s secret is that it is fast, but it is very big and can bite back in a big way.

I love that the X6 M exists; I only need fast or big in alternating turns, but I recognize that some of you need both at the same time, to which I say, for nearly $110,000 as tested, you’re more than welcome. You’re just fine right there in the middle.

2015BMWX6M-12 2015BMWX6M-1 2015BMWX6M-2 2015BMWX6M-3 2015BMWX6M-4 2015BMWX6M-5 2015BMWX6M-6 2015BMWX6M-7 2015BMWX6M-8 2015BMWX6M-9 2015BMWX6M-10 2015BMWX6M-11

The post 2015 BMW X6 M Review – Paid in Full appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-bmw-x6-m-paid-full/feed/ 52
Golf Clubs Win, New BMW 4 Series May Be Soft-top Only http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/golf-clubs-win-new-bmw-4-series-may-soft-top/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/golf-clubs-win-new-bmw-4-series-may-soft-top/#comments Mon, 10 Aug 2015 22:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1137770 Finally, BMW got my letter that the folding hardtop in its 4 Series convertible didn’t leave enough room for my tour bag and comically gigantic TaylorMade R15s, so they’re ditching the whole thing, German site Bimmertoday is reporting (via Road and Track and Automobile). The convertible hard top can weigh roughly 500 pounds, Automobile reports. Cutting back to […]

The post Golf Clubs Win, New BMW 4 Series May Be Soft-top Only appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2014 BMW 4 Series Convertible 03

Finally, BMW got my letter that the folding hardtop in its 4 Series convertible didn’t leave enough room for my tour bag and comically gigantic TaylorMade R15s, so they’re ditching the whole thing, German site Bimmertoday is reporting (via Road and Track and Automobile).

The convertible hard top can weigh roughly 500 pounds, Automobile reports. Cutting back to a soft top could shed some of that weight and spare space in the the trunk.

The German report also says that BMW’s Z4, co-developed with Toyota, will also have a fabric top instead of a folding roof.

The new 4 Series should arrive around 2021, after the all-new 3 Series hits the streets in 2019.

Already, the BMW 2 Series and 6 Series have soft-top roofs.

The post Golf Clubs Win, New BMW 4 Series May Be Soft-top Only appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/golf-clubs-win-new-bmw-4-series-may-soft-top/feed/ 36
2015 Mercedes S550 4Matic Review – The Luxury “Tweener” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-mercedes-s550-4matic-review-luxury-tweener/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-mercedes-s550-4matic-review-luxury-tweener/#comments Mon, 10 Aug 2015 14:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1130945 Luxury shoppers have an interesting “problem.” If you want something spendier and more unique than a Lexus LS, but aren’t ready for a baby-Bentley or Roller, you have but one option: the Mercedes S-Class. Trouble is the last generation S-Class lagged behind more plebian options in both gadgets and luxury. That was a serious problem since the price […]

The post 2015 Mercedes S550 4Matic Review – The Luxury “Tweener” appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
IMG_0734

Luxury shoppers have an interesting “problem.” If you want something spendier and more unique than a Lexus LS, but aren’t ready for a baby-Bentley or Roller, you have but one option: the Mercedes S-Class. Trouble is the last generation S-Class lagged behind more plebian options in both gadgets and luxury. That was a serious problem since the price tag on the S spans from just under $100,000 to nearly a quarter of a million. Like the new C-Class, the redesigned S-Class is restoring my faith in the premiere German luxury brand.


Exterior
The S-Class has been the pinnacle of the Mercedes line since 1972. There have been long ones, short ones, coupés, sedans and limos. Regardless of the shape, the S-Class has long been the standard by which full-size luxury cars are judged. That was a little bit of a problem for the previous generation Merc which had a somewhat dowdy exterior with a plain profile, small grille and headlamps that looked like Shrinky Dinks that had spent too long in the oven.

The new S-Class receives Mercedes’ latest exterior design cues from the CLS and CLA with a bolder grille and angry headlamps blended with the quaintness of a tri-star hood ornament. As you’d expect from a car destined to chauffeur diplomats, royalty and heads of state, the side profile is upright and traditional, and the greenhouse bends slightly rearward to allow your royal personage a better view of your subjects.

IMG_0746

At rear, Mercedes blended the corporate style-book with classic S-Class cues we’ve seen since 1991, such as tail lamps that won’t wrap onto the trunk lid. This particular style choice has a notable downside: the trunk opening is smaller than many of the other luxury sedans.

Although the new S-Class may look like a re-skinned W220 S-Class, the W222 is an entirely new animal. The biggest change is a new body that is nearly half aluminum. Rather than going all-in on Alcoa like Jaguar and Audi, Mercedes took the more cautious approach by strategically using aluminum to adjust the car’s weight balance as well as shed a few pounds. The result is an S550 that tips the scales at 4,600 pounds and has a weight balance closer to 50/50 than ever before (a hair better than 52/48 we’re told.)

IMG_0789

Interior
Mercedes is a conservative company when it comes to interior style, so this generation doesn’t bring any massive design departures. Although restrained, everything is undeniably premium and this interior escapes the “upscale Buick” vibe the last generation gave off. Our tester has a nearly $6,000 optional leather package which undoubtedly helps. The option consists of premium two-tone hides and contrasting piping throughout the cabin, from the dashboard to the door panels. Even the portions of the door panels that are hidden when the doors close are perfectly stitched cow-hide. Laser cut metal speaker grilles are scattered throughout the cabin, a look that is also featured in the new C-class at more affordable prices.

European shoppers will likely be confused by this statement: Legroom is excellent but not epic in the S550. While the S-Class is ginormous by European standards, it is only 3.6-inches longer than a Ford Taurus and less than one inch longer than a Lincoln MKS. As a result, the 41.4 inches of front leg room is actually slightly lower than some large American sedans. Rear legroom is generous, but not much more than the large sedans by GM, Ford and Chrysler. The back seat is unquestionably comfortable, especially in our tester which came with the reclining rear seat option. However, folks taller than 6-foot-2 won’t be able to stretch completely out on the foot rest. (Your writer’s modest 6-foot frame fit like a glove.) Disappointed? Consider that the XJ, A8 and 7-Series are all available in two lengths and their long-wheelbase models are equivalent to the base S-Class in rear accommodation. Need more room? For a cool $189,350 you can get the S600 Maybach which stretches the S-Class by 8 inches, improving both leg and headroom in the process. Sadly, however, the champagne refrigerator and comfy rear thrones also eat into the trunk space, dropping the S500’s trunk down to a slim 12.3. Tell Jeeves to pack light.

IMG_0844

Mercedes-Maybach
Maybach was to be the German answer to the soaring popularity of Rolls Royce and Bentley. Unfortunately, Mercedes tried competing head-on with a previous generation S-Class stretched to an insane 244 inches that wore a price tag stretched even further to nearly $400,000. It’s no wonder the Maybach 57 and 62 failed to light the sales charts on fire. As of 2013, Maybach as a brand ceased to exist and a new strategy was born. Since the old Maybach was instantly recognizable as a stretched S-Class, they applied the Maybach label to the longest S available and thus the Mercedes-Maybach S600 was born. With a stretch of a more modest 8 inches (versus the three feet that was added to make the Maybach 62) and a similarly more modest price tag, think of the Mercedes-Maybach as a limo version of the S-Class. Oddly enough, the Maybach is not the most expensive S — that’s where the S65 AMG comes in starting at a cool $220,000.

IMG_0835

Infotainment & Gadgets
No luxury car would be complete without a bevy of gadgets and gizmos to entertain and protect (and brag about).

The first thing you notice when you get inside are the twin 12.3-inch LCDs spanning from the center of the car to the driver’s door. The right LCD runs the latest Mercedes COMAND infotainment software while the left handles the gauges and night vision display.

Although the software interface looks familiar, it has been significantly updated for the W222 with a faster processor and more features. The speed difference and smoothness of the graphic transitions is easily noticeable when you compare the S-Class to the E-Class sitting next to it on the dealer lot. Mercedes has improved the voice recognition system in this generation and voice commanding specific tracks on your USB/iDevice is easier and more reliable. Sadly, the online functionality is not as “fully baked” as iDrive or MMI at this point. There is Google Earth driven satellite imagery, but it’s not integrated into the default navigation screen. Likewise, the streaming radio and Yelp location finder apps could be better integrated. Also on the gripe list: there is no dedicated track forward/backward button which makes changing tracks more complicated than other vehicles.

IMG_0836

I am often disappointed by LCD instrument clusters. They offer so much theoretical potential, yet no manufacturer has fully exploited this yet. So far, Cadillac is the only brand whose LCD cluster allows limited customization from a selection of different gauge layouts, colors and themes. The Mercedes display, like essentially everyone else, shows you two views. One with and one without the night vision camera display.

On the gadget front, Mercedes has packed in everything but the kitchen sink. We have an optional split-view screen (right side LCD only) so the passenger can watch a movie while in motion, and a rear seat entertainment system for the rear passengers that can display an airline-esque slideshow of your location, the elevation profile of your journey and the weather at your destination. The front seats massage, the rear seats recline, the shades are all powered and even the rear folks get 3-position seat memory. Sound systems start at impressive and head to “do you really need that?” with a 24-speaker system pumping out 1,940 watts (because 2,000 was too opulent).

More radar sensors than Frankfurt Airport, a bevy of ultrasonic sensors, all around cameras, a separate stereo camera system for forward 3D imaging, and an infrared night vision camera all combine to give the S-Class a bionic view of the road. The radar sensors allow adaptive cruise control functionality, tell you about cross traffic and prepare safety systems for impact when the car behind you decides not to stop. The S-Class will parallel park itself, detect pedestrians and brake to keep from hitting them, and highlight deer and select other animals in the night vision system. Magic Body Control will scan the road ahead and program the suspension to handle a road imperfection before you encounter it. Sadly the snazzy multi-beam LED headlamps don’t make it to the USA because of some silly headlamp regulations on our shores, but the system that automatically injects air freshener into the HVAC system is America bound.

2014-S-CLASS-SEDAN-001-MCFO

Drivetrain
Instead of making the hybrid a range-topping model like you see with the Lexus LS 600hL, Mercedes continues to view the S550 plug-in hybrid as more of a volume option. For the same price, shoppers can choose a 449-horsepower, 4.7-liter twin-turbo V8, or a 436-horsepower hybrid system built around a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6. (The turbo six makes 329 horsepower on its own.) The 449 ponies and 516 lb-ft of torque in the V8 model combined with Mercedes’ latest 7-speed automatic transmission and optional 4MATIC AWD allowed out tester to scoot to 60 in an impressive 4.6 seconds.

If you need to get to The Hamptons faster, the S600’s twin-turbo V12 spools up 523 horsepower and 612 lb-ft, but sadly can’t be had with AWD. The S63 AMG gets a 5.5-liter, twin-turbo V8 making 577 horsepower and 664 lb-ft and, thanks to standard AWD, will get the German tank to highway speed in under 4 seconds. The range topping S65 AMG makes the most oomph at 621 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque (88 more twists than a Dodge Hellcat) but because AWD is not offered, it’ll take slightly longer to run to 60 than the S63. Even if you can’t afford the top-end trims, all S class owners can bask in the opulence of a transmission that has two speeds in reverse. Why? Just because.

IMG_0857

Drive
I was a bit skeptical about the Magic Body Control system and, as it turns out, I was right to be. The system uses a stereo camera system to scan the road ahead, but aside from damping speed bumps to the point where it feels like running over a garden hose, I didn’t notice much difference in a dealer provided car. The system seemed to have little or no effect out on the rough highways or potholed streets in the Bay Area. Some of this has to do with the way the system detects the road (it is camera based), but most has to do with the standard air suspension already being very compliant.

Although the S550 has lost weight, it is still one of the heavier options in this segment. The contrast with the Jaguar XJ is sharp. At 3,854 lbs, the English entry is the lightest, beating even the aluminum A8 by 511 pounds. Jaguar ditched their four-corner air suspension in the latest XJ model (the rear has load leveling still) which, combined with the light curb weight, makes it by far the most athletic entry in this segment. However, the XJ isn’t just light for this segment, it’s also 147 pounds lighter than an E350. The S550 on the other hand offers a more traditional large luxury attitude. The air suspension creates a ride that’s like a pillow floating on a cloud.

IMG_0742

Funny thing about clouds: If you pay attention, you realise they’re moving pretty darn fast. Seemingly in defiance of physics, the S550 scoots to 60 mph as fast as a BMW M235i and, thanks to some serious rubber at all four corners, matches a run-of-the-mill 335i in the skidpad. Keep the pedal down too long and you’ll hit the 1/4 mile in 12.8 seconds while doing 110 mph. In silence. In a 17-foot long sedan. The cabin of the S550 is eerily quiet at all times.

The steering is isolated but surprisingly accurate, the body tips, dives and rolls with the best of the luxury set but never feels upset or uncomposed. Thanks to the all-wheel drive system and a near 50/50 weight balance, the S550 is extremely neutral and confident on practically every road surface. A statement like that wouldn’t be surprising when talking about a compact luxury coupé, but we’re talking about a nearly two and a half ton sedan.

IMG_0765

Pricing – Why is it a “tweener”?
I’ve touched on this already, but the most unique thing about the S-Class is the fact that it sits almost in a segment of its own. The 2015 S550 starts at $94,400, which is about $20,000 higher than a base 2015 BMW 7-Series, Lexus LS 460, Jaguar XJ or Audi A8. (For 2016, the 7-Series and A8 rise to just over $80,000 and we should expect a slight increase from Mercedes keeping the distance around 15-large.) A lightly configured S550 can easily sticker for $115,000 and our tester (which lacked a number of options) came in at a cool $137,500. Keeping in mind this is simply where the S550 starts. The sticker on our S-Class with the base engine was already higher than possible for most of the competition.

The next step up is the $141,450 S63, which is about as expensive as an A8 gets. Want a 12-cylinder engine? That’s at least $166,900, about a loaded Honda Accord more than an A8 W12. The Maybach stretch is $189,350, and if you want one of the most powerful 12-cylinder engines made, that’ll be $220,000. The only other vehicle with this kind of price range is the Porsche Panamera. The Porsche has a slightly more premium interior but it’s mission is quite different. The Panamera is more direct, more engaging, but less comfortable, less roomy and I’m told by the old guard in Atherton that it’s too flashy as well. Looking for something spendier? The S65 AMG ends around where Bentley starts.

IMG_0728

The new S-Class has restored my faith in the Mercedes brand. Is it the best value in the luxury car segment? No. But that’s an asset in this category. (If you don’t like that statement, then you’re not the S-Class demographic.) If you want a “value luxury sedan” this size, check out the $60,000 Kia K900.

The S550 4Matic is exactly what I want out of a big luxury sedan. I want it to be big and bold but avoid brash by a hair. I want it to be impossibly quiet, perfectly smooth, insanely powerful, able to stop on a dime (okay, so that part is a little lacking), handle like a sports coupé and get silent nods from the folks at the country club. You can get some of those things in the competition, but this big Merc succeeds at all of them in a way no other sedan does.

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

0-30: 1.99 Seconds

0-60: 4.6 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 12.8 Seconds @ 110 MPH

Fuel Economy: 18.2 MPG over 782 Miles

IMG_0706 IMG_0708 IMG_0710 IMG_0711 IMG_0728 IMG_0730 IMG_0731 IMG_0733 IMG_0734 IMG_0738 IMG_0739 IMG_0740 IMG_0742 IMG_0745 IMG_0746 IMG_0748 IMG_0749 IMG_0750 IMG_0752 IMG_0758 IMG_0759 IMG_0760 IMG_0762 IMG_0764 IMG_0765 IMG_0768 IMG_0772 IMG_0774 IMG_0777 IMG_0778 IMG_0779 IMG_0782 IMG_0784 IMG_0786 IMG_0789 IMG_0791 IMG_0793 IMG_0795 IMG_0796 IMG_0832 IMG_0835 IMG_0836 IMG_0844 IMG_0846 IMG_0856 IMG_0857 IMG_0860 IMG_0862

The post 2015 Mercedes S550 4Matic Review – The Luxury “Tweener” appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-mercedes-s550-4matic-review-luxury-tweener/feed/ 41
BMW CEO Confirms There Are Numbers Between 3 and 8 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/bmw-ceo-confirms-numbers-3-8/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/bmw-ceo-confirms-numbers-3-8/#comments Fri, 07 Aug 2015 18:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1136250 In addition to the battery-powered (or is it a hybrid?) i3 and i8 cars, BMW may build an electrified X3-sized crossover, 5-series sedan and perhaps a larger Tesla Model X-sized SUV in its “i” car range, The Detroit Bureau is reporting. The speculation comes from BMW chief Harald Krueger who said there was room in […]

The post BMW CEO Confirms There Are Numbers Between 3 and 8 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015 BMW i3 orange

In addition to the battery-powered (or is it a hybrid?) i3 and i8 cars, BMW may build an electrified X3-sized crossover, 5-series sedan and perhaps a larger Tesla Model X-sized SUV in its “i” car range, The Detroit Bureau is reporting.

The speculation comes from BMW chief Harald Krueger who said there was room in the “i” range for something else.

“Between the i3 and the i8, there is space if you look at it from the number point of view,” Harald Krueger said in an interview with the German newspaper F.A.S.

Precisely four numbers are between 3 and 8. Let’s speculate!

Perhaps it was a foregone conclusion that BMW would expand its “i” range of cars with other models, such as an electrified SUV or crossover. The Model X goes on sale next month and other German automakers are already preparing for plug-in or electric versions of their cars.

The Detroit Bureau says the X3-sized electric crossover i5 (or maybe it’ll be a 5 Series-sized sedan?) will go on sale in 2017, and there may be more to come.

Of course, BMW could just fold up the “i” brand and assimilate their tech into the current naming convention and then we’d all have less to talk about. Maybe.

The post BMW CEO Confirms There Are Numbers Between 3 and 8 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/bmw-ceo-confirms-numbers-3-8/feed/ 7
NHTSA Investigating Harman Kardon for Hacking Vulnerabilities http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/nhtsa-investigating-harman-kardon-hacking-vulnerabilities/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/nhtsa-investigating-harman-kardon-hacking-vulnerabilities/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 20:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1132601 Fresh from the recent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles infotainment-hacking flap, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced last week that it would look further into supplier Harman Kardon for possible vulnerabilities in other cars, the Associated Press reports (via Autoblog). Harman Kardon produces radios for automakers such as BMW, Subaru, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, in addition to FCA. […]

The post NHTSA Investigating Harman Kardon for Hacking Vulnerabilities appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Harman Kardon Speaker

Fresh from the recent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles infotainment-hacking flap, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced last week that it would look further into supplier Harman Kardon for possible vulnerabilities in other cars, the Associated Press reports (via Autoblog).

Harman Kardon produces radios for automakers such as BMW, Subaru, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, in addition to FCA.

Last month, FCA recalled 1.4 million cars after a vulnerability in its system was detailed by Wired, which allowed hackers to control critical functions in a Jeep Cherokee, including throttle, brakes and steering.

The automaker said the recall would fix a loophole in the 8.4-inch Uconnect systems that permitted the intrusion by hackers.

Last week, Wired detailed another hack that could reportedly open doors on an OnStar-equipped car made by General Motors and start its engine. GM said it patched that vulnerability without recalling its cars.

The post NHTSA Investigating Harman Kardon for Hacking Vulnerabilities appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/nhtsa-investigating-harman-kardon-hacking-vulnerabilities/feed/ 2
German Automakers Buy Mapmaker, Maybe for Robot Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/german-automakers-buy-mapmaker-maybe-robot-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/german-automakers-buy-mapmaker-maybe-robot-cars/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 18:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1132577 Audi, BMW and Daimler have joined forces to buy map-making company Here from phone-maker Nokia for an undisclosed amount, the automakers announced Monday. The purchase of the company, which provides cloud-based maps and location services to more than 200 countries, could help the automakers develop further technology for autonomous cars that use the crowd-sourced maps instead of unreliable […]

The post German Automakers Buy Mapmaker, Maybe for Robot Cars appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Old Map

Audi, BMW and Daimler have joined forces to buy map-making company Here from phone-maker Nokia for an undisclosed amount, the automakers announced Monday.

The purchase of the company, which provides cloud-based maps and location services to more than 200 countries, could help the automakers develop further technology for autonomous cars that use the crowd-sourced maps instead of unreliable and outdated humans to steer.

In a statement announcing the purchase, the automakers said the company would be jointly held by all three automakers and would operate independently from the consortium. Pending approval, the sale would become final early next year.

The automakers hinted that the mapmaking company and the cars could work together by relaying traffic or road conditions from each car to a centralized server that could redistribute the information to other cars. So-called “swarm technology” would help other drivers avoid accidents or icy roads.

”HERE will be able to offer users a continuously improving product, bringing highly automated driving and location based services a step further. As the volume of anonymized data from the vehicles increases, services will become more convenient, more connected and further tailored to the users’ individual requirements,” the automakers said in the statement.

The post German Automakers Buy Mapmaker, Maybe for Robot Cars appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/german-automakers-buy-mapmaker-maybe-robot-cars/feed/ 18
Oh, Hello There Previously Unseen Jaguar F-Pace http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/oh-hello-previously-unseen-jaguar-f-pace/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/oh-hello-previously-unseen-jaguar-f-pace/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 16:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1127873 Jaguar’s coming crossover, dubbed F-Pace, was sent all over the world to test in various climates, and the automaker is sharing its photo album from the trip. The F-Pace pictured here is only slightly camouflaged ahead of its official unveiling in Frankfurt later this year. The pictures show a crossover that’s expected to take on […]

The post Oh, Hello There Previously Unseen Jaguar F-Pace appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Jag_FPACE_Cold_Test_Image_290715_02_LowRes

Jaguar’s coming crossover, dubbed F-Pace, was sent all over the world to test in various climates, and the automaker is sharing its photo album from the trip.

The F-Pace pictured here is only slightly camouflaged ahead of its official unveiling in Frankfurt later this year. The pictures show a crossover that’s expected to take on the likes of the BMW X4 and Porsche Macan when it goes on sale next year — if the automaker is to be taken seriously.

The body in the photos closely resembles the C-X17 concept that Jaguar showed off a couple years ago, and spy shots that have been circulating for a while.

While it appears that the rear tail lamps will likely be different on the production version, the concept’s aggressive hood lines and sloping roof line have remained the same. Even from the front, the Jaguar looks, well, almost Jaguar-ish.

The statement from the automaker didn’t reveal any details about what could be stuffed under the hood. Everything from a six- to eight-cylinder engine could make its way in there, forced induction or not. We’ll learn more when the crossover concept becomes a reality in Frankfurt.

The Frankfurt Motor Show begins Sept. 15.

Jag_FPACE_Hot_Test_Image_290715_03_LowRes Jag_FPACE_Cold_Test_Image_290715_02_LowRes Jag_FPACE_Cold_Test_Image_290715_01_LowRes Jag_FPACE_Cold_Test_Image_290715_03_LowRes Jag_FPACE_Cold_Test_Image_290715_05_LowRes

The post Oh, Hello There Previously Unseen Jaguar F-Pace appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/oh-hello-previously-unseen-jaguar-f-pace/feed/ 24
QOTD: What Manual Transmission is Worth Saving? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/qotd-manual-transmission-worth-saving/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/qotd-manual-transmission-worth-saving/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 11:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1127601 BMW may be coy about it, but there’s no denying that manual transmissions are dying a fairly ignominious death in most cars. It’s a shame. Manuals are more often found as slushboxes in econo-drones with cloth everything paired to a remedial engine. Cheap manual transmissions aren’t worth saving. In 20 years, when everything except your […]

The post QOTD: What Manual Transmission is Worth Saving? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
x5manual

BMW may be coy about it, but there’s no denying that manual transmissions are dying a fairly ignominious death in most cars. It’s a shame. Manuals are more often found as slushboxes in econo-drones with cloth everything paired to a remedial engine.

Cheap manual transmissions aren’t worth saving. In 20 years, when everything except your mountain bike comes with an automatic transmission, will you look fondly on the Chevy Cobalt’s 5-speed guessing game? Probably not.

A good manual transmission feels as sharp and precise as a bolt-action rifle. Slotting in a gear in a Corvette feels wholly different than grabbing a cog in the Subaru XV Crosstrek that I just drove 500 miles across Wyoming. I’ll miss Porsche’s manual. I won’t miss Nissan’s.

As the debate swirls around “Will the manual transmission fade away?” the question is better posed as “Why keep it around anyway?” Less than one in 5 new BMW M4 buyers opts to row their own for good reason — the dual-clutch transmission in that car is very good. Owners recognize that BMW’s M-DCT isn’t merely an automatic, it’s an automated manual and it’s incredibly precise at confidently swapping cogs. Ditto for Porsche’s PDK. Ferrari is even on board. The list goes on.

So B&B, what manual in particular is worth saving?

The post QOTD: What Manual Transmission is Worth Saving? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/qotd-manual-transmission-worth-saving/feed/ 141
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 […]

The post Chart Of The Day: BMW 4-Series Is Selling Almost As Often As The 3-Series appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
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.

The post Chart Of The Day: BMW 4-Series Is Selling Almost As Often As The 3-Series appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-bmw-4-series-selling-almost-often-3-series/feed/ 20
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 […]

The post BMW M Customers Surrender ‘Save The Manuals’ War appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
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.”

The post BMW M Customers Surrender ‘Save The Manuals’ War appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/save-manuals-give-bmw-m-cars/feed/ 76
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 […]

The post The Small Luxury Convertible Is Probably Dead appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

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.

The post The Small Luxury Convertible Is Probably Dead appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/the-small-luxury-convertible-is-probably-dead/feed/ 54
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 […]

The post J.D. Power Ranks Porsche Most Appealing for 11th-straight Year appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
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).

The post J.D. Power Ranks Porsche Most Appealing for 11th-straight Year appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/j-d-power-ranks-porsche-appealing-11th-straight-year/feed/ 21
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 […]

The post Historic Acuras, Future BMWs Heading To Monterey appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
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.

The post Historic Acuras, Future BMWs Heading To Monterey appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/historic-acuras-future-bmws-heading-to-monterey/feed/ 5
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, […]

The post Fiat Chrysler Tops Annual ‘Total Quality’ Survey appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
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.

 

The post Fiat Chrysler Tops Annual ‘Total Quality’ Survey appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fiat-chrysler-tops-annual-total-quality-survey/feed/ 62
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 […]

The post 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4MATIC: Lookin’ for Love appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
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.

The post 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4MATIC: Lookin’ for Love appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-mercedes-benz-gla250-4matic-lookin-for-love/feed/ 47
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, […]

The post BMW To Customer: Aftermarket Parts Cause Fires, Airbag Deployments appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
original_bmw_battery

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.

The post BMW To Customer: Aftermarket Parts Cause Fires, Airbag Deployments appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/bmw-rep-customer-aftermarket-parts-cause-fires-unwanted-airbag-deployments/feed/ 125
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 […]

The post Future BMW M Cars May Not Have Manuals appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015-BMW-M3-M4-Main-Art

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.

The post Future BMW M Cars May Not Have Manuals appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/future-bmw-m-cars-may-not-manuals/feed/ 66
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 […]

The post Why Are These BMW Cars Camo’d If We’ve Seen Them Already? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
IMG_20150705_205557

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.

IMG_20150705_205649

IMG_20150705_205625

IMG_20150705_205557

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.

The post Why Are These BMW Cars Camo’d If We’ve Seen Them Already? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/bmw-cars-camod-weve-seen-already/feed/ 21