The Truth About Cars » Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:30:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 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 is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Review: 2014 Honda Civic Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/review-2014-honda-civic-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/review-2014-honda-civic-coupe/#comments Wed, 04 Jun 2014 13:46:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=836401 2014-Honda-Civic-Coupe-12-of-29-550x366

Once upon a time, the Honda Civic was like McDonalds: its wide-ranging menu had something to offer for everyone, in an easily-digestible and economical format. There was even a time when the Japanese compact was offered as a sedan, coupe, and a hatchback (and for a brief spell, it even offered some British go-fast goodness!).

The Civic used to be a fantastic thing.

Unfortunately, the ninth-generation Civic was a bad hamburger. When Honda served it up in 2012, they were treated to numerous complaints about the cheap interior, inexcusable road noise, and incompetent suspension. The outcry was so loud that Honda did something they’d never done before.

“Let us reheat that for you,” they said.

I’ll make one thing clear from the get-go: I didn’t get a chance to drive the Honda Civic Coupe in ’12 or ’13. Not that I’m overly sad about it. From the multitude of reviews available, it looks like I didn’t miss much.

However, I did own one of the last sporty-ish, mildly-hot Civics sold on our shores.

My 2000 Honda Civic Coupe, in Canadian Si trim (EX to you Yanks), was certainly no sports car. Yet, with a real trunk, upon which rested a fairly sharp spoiler, and a sleek-yet-subdued body, my silver Civic at least looked the part without being pretentious or trying too hard. Its SOHC VTEC-equipped 1.6-litre D-series four-cylinder gave a somewhat exciting growl above 6,000 revs. The shifter, too, felt very mechanical, providing a certain notchiness when throwing the lever into each gate.

Most of all, I felt connected with my old coupe. It got me back and forth to work each day before doing double-duty as an evening pizza delivery car. We spent a lot of time together and shared many great memories.

Unfortunately for me, and maybe Honda as well, I crawled into the new ninth-generation coupe with some possibly misplaced nostalgia.

2014 Honda Civic Coupe (15 of 29)

My tester was a mid-level EX trimmed coupe with only a single option – the continuously variable transmission, which is new for this year and replaces Honda’s venerable 5-speed automatic transmission. The gearless transmission, along with a big, green ECON button to the left of the steering wheel, dashed all hopes of connecting with the latest Civic.

2014 Honda Civic Coupe (11 of 29)

Powered by a 1.8-litre SOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder engine, the Civic is still motivated by aspirations of driving something faster on your way to the dragstrip. The engine has been slightly improved and now produces 143 hp and 129 lb-ft of torque (up from 140 hp and 128 lb-ft the year before), but you can still do better in the compact coupe segment. The Hyundai Elantra Coupe and Kia Forte Koup, equipped with identical 2.0-litre mills, get 173 hp and 154 lb-ft. If you desire more power, you may want to look across the street.

2014 Honda Civic Coupe (28 of 29)

The new fangled continuously variable transmission may keep engine revs at the peak of the power band, but it’s far from exciting, especially with ECON mode engaged. Fuel economy was the main reason for introducing the CVT, though a real-world average of 29 MPG is far from the official mixed EPA rating of 33 MPG. The difference means you’d pay an extra $184 per year at today’s US average regular gas price of $3.67 per gallon if you drive 12,000 miles per year.

Fuel economy aside, the CVT’s paddle shifters provide some entertainment for the Gran Turismo set, and even some fairly quick ‘shifts’, but those of us familiar with clutch pedals or traditional automatic paddles will be disappointed.

mark

In fact, the only connection made between myself and the Civic Coupe was with the headliner and my skull each time I sat in the car. The EX model tester came equipped with a power sunroof that takes away a serious amount of headroom for a 6’1″ human being. Even with the driver’s seat height adjustment all the way to the floor, my head made frequent contact with the Civic’s ceiling. My only way out of this situation was to go into “gangsta lean” mode, which, now that I think about it, explains the driving position of so many Civic Coupe drivers.

Elsewhere inside, the two-door did provide acceptable ergonomics. Materials were, again, acceptable, but the design did nothing for me in comparison to the knockout interiors in the Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla. Infotainment wise, Honda is still well behind the curve, and that applies to more than just the Civic. Even the Acura MDX, lauded in some circles, has a horribly designed headunit.

2014 Honda Civic Coupe (23 of 29)

It wasn’t all bad, however, as the Civc did provide a good balance between ride and handling. Not all cars need to be sprung like race cars (I’m looking at you Hyundai and Kia) and, gladly, none of my head-on-ceiling contact in the Civic was suspension induced. Steering was slightly vague, though not bad by any margin.

Outside, the Civic Coupe still isn’t going to win any awards for earth-shattering design. While the emergency refresh available this year is certainly an improvement over the launch model, it’s still too close to the eighth-generation model to really be considered all-new. The painted pocket 16-inch wheels are a try-hard move to catch up to the Koreans, while the the overall shape screams “I’m mildly edgy!”

2014 Honda Civic Coupe (14 of 29)

Overall, it seems like Honda is now fully content with resting on their laurels, bringing in repeat customers who’ll never cross shop. Considering this version of the Civic is built solely for North America, maybe Honda just doesn’t want to drop a ton of money into a vehicle with limited marketability. Hell, the Civic isn’t even sold in Japan anymore; Europe gets their own version that’s actually appealing with a nice selection of engines.

However, back on our shores, the 2014 Honda Civic Coupe is a bad hamburger, slightly warmed over.

Mark Stevenson is a freelance automotive journalist based in Nova Scotia, Canada with a certain penchant for dead brands, on both two and four wheels. He’s a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), former member of Texas Automotive Writers Association (NAMBLA), and the human pet of two dogs – Nismo and Maloo

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No Replacements For MINI Coupe, Paceman, Roadster http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/no-replacements-for-mini-coupe-paceman-roadster/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/no-replacements-for-mini-coupe-paceman-roadster/#comments Tue, 18 Mar 2014 12:38:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=774977 2012 Mini Coupe

BMW’s MINI may not replace the Coupe, Paceman or Roadster when their day comes, opting to focus on three “pillar” models that allow the brand to be “more relevant to more people,” according to MINI head of product management Oliver Friedmann.

Automotive News Europe reports Friedmann’s first priority for MINI “is to roll out a portfolio that has strong pillars,” with each pillar being clear in what it means to the overall brand. With the original hatchback and Countryman identified as the first two pillars, a potential third pillar could come in the form of a compact model based upon the Clubman concept shown in Geneva.

As for the Coupe, Paceman and Roadster, Friedmann says the trio aren’t a priority to the brand at this time, with the possibility all three may end up in the crusher of history in the near future.

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Lexus Reveals RC Coupe, LF-NX Concept http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/lexus-reveals-rc-coupe-lf-nx-concept/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/lexus-reveals-rc-coupe-lf-nx-concept/#comments Mon, 04 Nov 2013 17:20:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=641737 2013.10.29 LPMPD

Two of the newest Lexus products got an early reveal prior to their Tokyo Motor Show debut. The Lexus RC (above) is a coupe version of the new IS, with the IS350′s 3.5L V6 carrying over. World markets will get a hybrid version, dubbed the RC300h. Also debuting is the LF-NX concept, expected to preview a sub-RX sized crossover.

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Review: 2014 Scion tC (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/review-2014-scion-tc-with-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/review-2014-scion-tc-with-video/#comments Tue, 17 Sep 2013 16:23:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=517425 2014 Scion tC Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Many assumed that with the new FR-S hitting the dealers, it would only be a matter of time before the front-wheel-drive tC was sent out to pasture. However with an average buyer age of 28, the tC is isn’t just the youngest Toyota, it’s the youngest car in America. With demographics like that, product planners would be fools to kill off the tC and so the “two coupé strategy” was born. The last time we looked at the tC, the FR-S had yet to be born, this time the tC has been refreshed in the FR-S’ image. Which two door is right for you? Click past the jump, the answer might surprise you.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

Let’s start with the nitty-gritty. Starting at $19,695 and barely climbing to $20,965, the tC is 25% cheaper than an FR-S. This pricing delta is why (in my mind) the tC’s sales numbers haven’t fallen since the FR-S was released with 2012 slightly above 2011. If you think of the tC as the budget FR-S alternative, the two-coupé strategy starts to make more sense. From dealers I have spoken with it seems to be working. Prospective buyers that can’t quite afford an FR-S or are having troubles justifying the cost to themselves have been looking at the less expensive tC.

With strategy in mind, Scion decided to remake the front-driver in the FR-S’ image. Wise choice since the FR-S is one of the best looking modern Toyota designs. Because hard points remain the same on this refresh, tweaks are limited to new bumper covers, headlamps, tail lamps and wheels. I think the tC’s new nose suits the coupé surprisingly well since most nose jobs range from peculiar to downright Frankenstein. Similarly, the new rear bumper cover fixed the 2013′s tall and flat rear bumper cover by breaking it up with a black panel and a non-functional triangular red lens. What’s the lens for? That’s anyone’s guess.  To see how the two Scions stack up, check out my 5-second Photoshop mash-ups.

tC vs FR-S Front  tC vs FR-S Back

While some found the new clear tail lamps too “boy racer,” I think they work better on the tC and with the tC’s target demographic than the old units. As is obvious by the photos,the FR-S is quite low to the ground with a low slung cabin creating the low center of gravity it is known for. The tC on the other hand is mainstream economy coupé.

Since this is just a refresh, the tC’s major styling problem is still with us: the ginormous C-pillar and small rear window. Aside from my personal belief that the look is awkward, the shape has a serious impact on visibility creating large blindspots for the driver and not permitting rear passengers to see the scenery. The new tC’s new looks should be enough to get FR-S shoppers short on cash to give the tC a once-over before cross-shopping. Mission accomplished. Compared to the other FWD competition I rank the tC second, below the new Kia Forte Koup and above the somewhat bland Honda Civic.

2014 Scion tC Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Interior

Once inside the tC, FR-S shoppers are likely to be disappointed as there is very little FR-S inside Scion’s FWD coupé. Hard plastics in a mixture of black and charcoal hues continue to dominate the cabin, something I was OK with in 2011 because the competition was coated in hard polymer as well. Nearly three years later, the competition has upped the game with the 2013 Civic bringing soft injection molded dash parts to the segment followed by the 2014 Forte’s stylish new interior. It’s also worth noting that Scion continues to offer the tC in one interior color: black. Sticking with Scion’s model of streamlined inventory, all tCs have a standard dual-pane glass sunroof which is an interesting touch but I think I would trade it for upgraded materials.

Front seat comfort is strictly average in the tC.  Front seats offer limited adjustibility and little lumbar support (the seats do not have an adjustable lumbar support feature). tC drivers sit in a more upright fashion than in the FR-S thanks to the tC’s overall taller proportions but thanks to that large C-pillar, visibility is worse than the low-slung FR-S. The tC’s rear seats are a different matter. At 34.5 inches, the tC sports nearly two inches more rear legroom than the Forte Koup (2013 numbers), four more than the Civic and five more than the FR-S. Combined with a surprising amount of headroom, it is possible to put four 6-foot tall adults in the tC for a reasonable amount of time. Thanks to the hatch back design and a trunk that’s 50% larger than the Civic and more than 110% larger than the FR-S, you can jam luggage for four in the back of the tC as well.

2014 Scion tC Interior, BeSpoke Autio System, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Infotainment & Gadgets

The only major change inside the tC is a new Pioneer head-unit. Instead of borrowing radios from Toyota, Scion has generally gone for consumer branded units that are designed for Scion but share nothing with the Toyota parts bin. The notable exception was the old Toyota derived navigation unit which was found in a few Scion models with an eye watering $2,250 price tag. For 2014 Scion is using a new Pioneer made system featuring 8-speakers, HD Radio, iDevice/USB integration and an integrated CD player. The software looks like a blend of Pioneer’s interface and something from Toyota’s new Entune systems. The over all look is less elegant and far more “aftermarket” than the well-integrated systems from Kia or even Honda’s funky dual-level system in the Civic. Sound quality however was excellent in the tC with well matched speakers and moderately high limits.

Should you feel particularly spendy, you can pay Scion $1,200 to add the “BeSpoke Premium Audio System” which is a fancy way of saying navigation software and smartphone app integration. Take my advice, spend your $1,200 on something else. The tC’s lack of infotainment bling is troubling since Scion positions themselves as a brand for the young. At 33 I’m still in the vicinity of the tCs target market (average age 28) and even to my elderly eyes, the entire Scion brand lags in this area. Yes, the idea is: buy an aftermarket radio and have it installed, but I can’t be the only one that wants a super-slick system with a large touchscreen, navigation and smartphone apps as the standard system. Anyone at Scion listening?

On the gadget front, the tC and the Civic are well matched but Kia’s new Forte is rumored to offer goodies like a backup camera, color LCD in the gauge cluster, dual-zone climate controls, push-button start, keyless entry, HID headlamps, power seats, etc. That leaves the Scion in an odd position having no factory options at all and competing only with relatively base models of the competition.

2014 Scion tC Engine, 2.5L Four Cylinder, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Drivetrain & Drive

The tC uses the same four-cylinder engine found under the hood of the Camry and RAV4. The 2.5L mill has lost 1 horsepower and 1 lb-ft for 2014 (for no apparent reason) dropping to 179HP at 6,000 RPM and 172 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 RPM. Sending power to the front wheels is a standard 6-speed close ratio manual transmission and an optional revised 6-speed automatic that now features throttle matched down-shifts. If those numbers sound healthy, they should. I have a preference toward engines “symmetrical” power numbers (HP and tq are nearly equal) as they usually provide a well-rounded driving experience. That is certainly true of the tC, especially when you compare it to the 2.0L engine in the FR-S.

Boo! Hiss! I know, it’s sacrilege to say anything less than positive about a direct-injection boxer engine, but let’s look at the fine print. The FR-S’ 200 ponies don’t start galloping until 7,000RPM, a grand higher than the Camry-sourced 2.5, but the real problem is the torque. The FR-S has only 151 lb-ft to play with and you have to wait until 6,600 RPM for them to arrive. That’s 2,600 RPM higher than the 2.5. This has a direct impact on the driveability and the character of the two coupés. The FR-S needs to be wound up to the stratosphere to make the most of the engine while the tC performs well at “normal” engine RPMs. Hill climbing and passing are the two areas where the difference in character is most obvious. The FR-S needs to drop a few gears in order to climb or pass while the tC can often stay in 6th. Sure, the FR-S sounds great when singing at 7-grand, but you’re not always on a majestic mountain highway, sometimes you’re just on the freeway in rush hour. Thanks to a lower curb weight and gearing differences, the FR-S ran to 60 in 6.7 seconds last time we tested it, 9/10ths faster than the tC.

2014 Scion tC Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Don’t mistake me, the FR-S has higher limits than the tC pulling more Gs in the corners and having a very neutral handling RWD nature while the tC plows like a John Deere in the corners. What might surprise you however is that despite the nose-heavy FWD nature of the tC, in stock form, at 8/10ths on a winding track, the FR-S is likely to pull away. Some of that has to do with the tC’s improved suspension and chassis for 2014, but plenty has to do with the stock rubber choice on the FR-S. Scion fits low-rolling-resistance tired to the RWD coupé in order to improve fuel economy AND to make the FR-S capable of tail-happy fun with only 151lb-ft of twist. When it comes to the hard numbers we don’t have a skidpad in the Northern California TTAC testing grounds so I’m going to have to refer to “Publication X’s” numbers: FR-S 0.87g, tC 0.84g. Say what? Yep. regardless of the publication the tC scores shockingly close to the FR-S in road holding. Surprised? I was. More on that later.

How about the competition? Let’s dive in. The Civic Si is a bit more hard-core. Available only with a manual transmission, a wide demographic has to be removed from the comparison. However those that like to row their own will find a FWD 6-speed manual transaxle that is, dare i say it, better than many RWD transmissions. The shift feel and clutch pedal are near perfection and the limited slip front differential helps the Civic on the track. In the real world there’s less daylight between the two however with essentially the same curb weight, equal torque numbers and only a 20HP lead by the Honda. The result is a Civic that ties in my mind with a better interior and better road manners but higher price tag ($22,515) and a loss of practicality when it comes to cargo and people hauling.

2014 Scion tC Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

I’m going to gloss over the Golf because, as I learned on Sesame Street, one of these things is not like the other. How about the Hyundai Elantra Coupe? It’s considerably down on power (148 HP / 131 lb-ft), has a cheaper interior and handles like a damp noodle. If you’re wondering why the Elantra GT had to get its bones stiffened, the Elantra Coupé is why. How about the GT? Like the Golf, it’s not quite the same animal. Altima? Dead. Eclipse? Ditto. The Genesis plays with the FR-S and the other bigger boys which brings us to the oddly spelled Kia Forte Koup.

The 2014 Koup has yet to be driven, but based on our experiences with the 2013 Koup and the 2014 Forte 4-door sedan, I expect great things. Kia has announced the Koup will land with an optional 1.6L turbo engine good for 201 ponies and 195 lb-ft of twist. I expect the chassis and manual transmission to still be a step behind the Honda Civic Si, but the interior and gadget count on the Koup look class leading. Unless Kia gets the Koup all wrong, I expect it to slot in around 20-23K. I also expect it to lead my list.

2014 Scion tC Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

That brings us full circle to the tCs fiercest competitor: its stable mate the FR-S. No matter how you slice it, the tC isn’t as good-looking. It may seat four with relative ease, but the interior isn’t as nice as the FR-S either. It delivers good fuel economy and is plenty of fun on the road, but the appeal of the tC is more pragmatic than emotional. Still, when the numbers are added up the tC delivers 75% of the FR-S’ looks, 85% of the handling and 90% of the performance for 78% of the price. Being the deal hound I am, that makes the tC the better Scion.

 

Hit it or Quit It?

Hit it

  • Well priced
  • Excellent handling (for a FWD car)

Quit it

  • Cheap plastics inside continue
  • The steering isn’t as precise as the Civic Si.
  • Lack of premium or tech options young buyers demand

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

Specifications as Tested

0-30: 2.8 Seconds

0-60: 7.6 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.8 Seconds @ 89 MPH

Cabin Noise: 76db @ 50 MPH

Average Observed Fuel Economy: 29.6 MPG over 459 miles

 

2014 Scion tC Engine 2014 Scion tC Engine, 2.5L Four Cylinder, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Scion tC Exterior 2014 Scion tC Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Scion tC Exterior-002 2014 Scion tC Exterior-003 2014 Scion tC Exterior-004 2014 Scion tC Exterior-005 2014 Scion tC Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Scion tC Exterior-007 2014 Scion tC Exterior-008 2014 Scion tC Exterior-009 2014 Scion tC Exterior-010 2014 Scion tC Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Scion tC Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Scion tC Interior 2014 Scion tC Interior-001 2014 Scion tC Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Scion tC Interior-003 2014 Scion tC Interior-004 2014 Scion tC Interior-005 2014 Scion tC Interior, BeSpoke Autio System, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Scion tC Interior-009 2014 Scion tC Interior-010 2014 Scion tC Interior-011 ]]>
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BMW 3, We Hardly Knew Ye http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/bmw-3-we-hardly-knew-ye/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/bmw-3-we-hardly-knew-ye/#comments Fri, 14 Jun 2013 18:37:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=492178 006-2014-bmw-4-series-coupe-leak

I don’t think I’ll ever get used to calling it a “428i xDrive”, but I’m also not buying one. In any case, here it is, the BMW 4-Series, official photos.

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Review: 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/review-2013-bmw-640i-gran-coupe-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/review-2013-bmw-640i-gran-coupe-video/#comments Thu, 08 Nov 2012 14:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=465269

What do you get when you add two doors to a 6-Series coupé? Last year the answer was: a 7-Series. Of course that was last year, now BMW has an all-new answer: the Gran Coupe. Of course, calling your latest sexy sedan a “coupé” is nothing new (Mercedes has done it since 2004), what is new is the process by which this “coupé” arrived. Normally manufacturers introduce a new sedan, then within a year they delete two doors, lop off some trunk, give it a sporty grille and launch it as a coupé and convertible. The 6-Series Gran Coupe (GC) on the other hand is what happens when you take a an expensive coupé and add doors. In BMW speak, this process created a four-door coupé. Confused yet? Allow me to explain: apparently all you have to do to create a coupé is remove the sashes from the windows. (This means that Subaru buyers have driven coupés all these years and didn’t know it.) Can the sexy 6-Series beat Mercedes at their own CLS game? Let’s find out.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

BMW’s engineers started with the 6-Series coupé and stretched the body 4.4 inches and the wheelbase by 4.5 inches. They kept all the stretching work in the middle of the 6 meaning the bumper covers are interchangeable and the parts that were changed stay true to the sleek 6-Series profile. Of course, BMW’s 5, 6 and 7 are all brothers from the same mother, and logically the 6 is the middle child in many ways. The GC’s curb weight and exterior dimensions certainly slot between the 5 and 7, but 6 is all about the sexy profile.

Quibbles about door counts and naming conventions aside, there’s something about the proportions and low-slung style that set my loins on fire. I had feared the 6′s perfect two-door dimensions would be destroyed by the additional entry points, but I was wrong. After mulling the GC over for a while, I came to the conclusion that while it isn’t as sexy as a “real” coupé, it is more elegant and certainly better looking than the 5 or the 7.

Interior

While the 6-series’ imposing dashboard and low seating position (shared with the coupé and convertible) made me feel “small” (at 6-feet tall and 200lbs this is no easy task), it also serves to highlight BMW’s impeccable attention detail. I have a sneaking suspicion that the only reason BMW designed the dashboard and center console to meet the way they do is to show off their french seam precision. BMW borrowed the 10.2-inch iDrive screen from the 7 series, but instead of placing it in a binnacle of its own (as in the 5 and 7), the high-resolution LCD gets perched high on the dashboard in a prominent satin-nickel frame. This is easily the most luxurious and elegant cockpit BMW has ever made, and that includes the new 7-Series.

Our tester came with optional 24-way front thrones which contort in more ways than a Cirque du Soliel artist. Upgrading from the 10-way seats opens the door to ventilated anti-fatigue cushions which use air bladders to cut road-trip butt-fatigue. They work as advertised but the feeling of having your backside slowly groped takes some getting used to. Should faux-suede and snazzier leather be your thing, BMW would be happy to slather the ceiling in acres of Alcantara, broaden your hide palate by an extra 6 colors and toss in more exclusive wood for the princely sum of $8,300. It’s good to be king.

Rear seat room is the reason to buy a GC over the regular 6, but it’s also the reason to buy a 7. Of course the 6 and 7 have different missions with the 7 targeted as much to those that drive as those that are driven. In the GC there is no question the driver’s seat is for the guy that owns the car. That being said, rear seat room in the GC is surprising good compared with the CLS but, rear legroom lags behind the Audi. All three can swallow four adults in comfort, but the GC with its optional four-zone climate control and attention to detail in the back will make your rear passengers feel more special. What sets the GC apart is the middle rear seat. Yes, it’s a joke for adults with nowhere to put your legs and the hump is so exaggerated your shoulders hit the ceiling, but child seats fit perfectly and thanks to the wide body, it was possible (but not comfortable) to fit one child seat and two adults in the rear. Try that in a CLS or A7.

Infotainment & Gadgets

Like the coupé and convertible, the GC can be had with more gadgets than a Best Buy checkout isle. The gizmos range from radar cruise control, lane departure warning, self-parking and pre-collision warning systems that are becoming commonplace to the unique full-color heads up display and FLIR (Forward Looking InfraRed) camera system with pedestrian detection. Of course they are expensive, so if you love gadgets and can’t afford a six-figure car, don’t stop at the BMW dealer.

iDrive has come a long way since its introduction, and although complicated at times, it’s still the ultimate in-car attraction for my inner nerd. For some reason the latest version of the system (found in the new 3-Series) hasn’t found its way to the 6 yet. The key differences are improved integration with the heads up display and a media button on the iDrive controller reflecting the relative importance of CDs and media devices in this century. iDrive still offers one of the better iPod/USB device integration systems in the luxury market although no iDrive version sports voice commanding your iDevice music library ala Cadilla’s CUE or Lincoln’s SYNC. Like the rest of the BMW portfolio, you can add the $250 apps package to your GC allowing you to Tweet, Facebook, Wikipedia and SMS message while you drive. (For our in-depth look at iDrive, check out the video review above.) Compared to Audi’s MMI, iDrive lacks the Google satellite view mapping but the system is more responsive, more intuitive and more polished than MMI. I’d like to compare it to Mercedes’ COMAND system but that woud be like comparing the GC to the Model T.

Drivetrain

Until BMW introduces an M version of the GC, there are two engines on offer. Both mills were both borrowed from the 7-Series rather than the 5-Series to help set the GC apart. The 640i GC uses BMW’s new “N55HP” 3.0L twin-scroll turbo inline-6 that has been tweaked from the “N55″ engine in the 535i to deliver 315HP at 5,800RPM and 330lb-ft of twist from 1,200 to 5,000RPM, an increase of 15HP and 30lb-ft. Meanwhile, the 650i GC brings BMW’s 4.4L twin-turbo V8 to the party. Of course, as with the I6, the V8 has also had its power bumped to deliver 445HP and 480lb-ft of twist, an increase of 45HP and 30lb-ft over the 550i. Both engines are bolted to ZF’s 8-speed automatic and the 650i can be equipped with an optional $3,000 AWD system to help apply those 480 torques to the tarmac. If you opt for the fire-breathing V8, you’ll want that AWD option. Trust me. The ZF 8-speed is as up-shift happy in the GC as it is in the other BMW models and this does take a toll on spirited driving. On the up-side the 640i GC manages an EPA 20/30MPG score while the more powerful 650i GC somehow eeks out a 17/25MPG rating. During our week with the 640i GC we averaged the same 24MPG that BMW claims for the EPA combined MPG figure.

Drive

The last time I had a 535i on the track I was disappointed. In the relentless pursuit of creating the perfect Mercedes, the BMW felt nose heavy and lethargic, especially when driven back-to-back with the Lexus GS and the current Mercedes E350. Despite being heavier than the 535i and being closely related, the 640i GC was surprisingly neutral in the bends with a pleasant and predictable tail when your right foot gets happy. Of course expectation management is important, so you need to keep in mind the 6-Seies in any flavor is a quintessential GT car with grippy rubber, a heavy nose, soft suspension and plenty of shove. Because the GC leans more toward relaxed driving, the light and numb steering didn’t bother me much. Of course with electric power steering being all the rage among the luxury car set, everyone is this numb. The BMW however has two tricks up its svelte sleeve that compensate for the lack of feel in my mind: a self-parking system that will parallel-park your ride automagically and suspension tuning that can make this 4,200lb whale dance. In sport mode.

The GC proved a faithful companion in most driving situations with a glassy-smooth ride on the highway and roll-free corner carving in the mountains. If you want even more roll reduction BMW would be happy to sell 650i shoppers an active rear roll bar for $2,500. Into each life a little rain must fall and so it was with our week and the Gran Coupe. Driving in suburbia brings a questionable active suspension tuning choice to light: the rear suspension bottoms out easily in the softer “comfort” and “normal” modes. Driving at 20MPH over “road humps” or  “undulations” (not speed bumps) caused the suspension in the GC to bottom out, even when I was the only cargo on board. The 6-Series coupé suffers from this problem as well to a degree, but it required 4 passengers and some cargo before it is obvious. The GC however exhibited this unfortunate tendency across a wider variety of road types and situations. While not exactly a solution, simply putting the adaptive suspension system into “Sport” mode solved the complaint. (Admittedly sticking to the 15 MPH speed recommendation worked as well, but no other car I have tested in the last 2 years has had this problem.)

Suspension complaints will likely subside when you plant your foot on the throttle. 315HP motivating 4,200lbs may sound like a leisurely activity, but the 640i GC scooted to 60 in an impressive 5.3 seconds (1/10th faster than the A7) thanks to the torque plateau and the fast-shifting ZF transmission. If that’s not fast enough for you, the 650i burnt rubber while taking 4.4 seconds and the AWD 650i xDrive pounded out the same task in an eye-popping (and drama free) 4.1 (2/10ths faster than the CLS and very close to the CLS 63 AMG). Because our love/hate relationship continues with Porsche, a Panamera was unavailable for direct testing but based on some quick tests with dealer-provided Panameras, the 640i and 650i are a few tenths faster than the Panamera and Panamera S while the Panamera Turbo and Turbo S win awards for the most insane four-door coupés.

Why all this talk of Porsches? It would be easy to think BMW had the A7 and CLS in their sights when crafting the Gran Coupe. Until you see the price tag. The 640i starts at $76,000, $18,000 more than an A7. If that’s not sticker shock, consider that adding $32,000 of options takes surprisingly little effort. If you’re looking at the CLS 4MATIC or the Audi S7, then the 650i xDrive is a quasi-competitor but starting at $86,500 and ending north of $123,000, it’ll set you back $14,500-$32,000 more than a comparable CLS and $10,700-$34,000 more than an S7. With prices like this and one of the best interiors this side of Aston Martin it’s obvious that BMW had different competition in mind: the Panamera and beyond. For only $2,000 more, the Panamera delivers a nicer interior, a brand with more sporting pedigree and the option of even more powerful engines at the expense of looks. Seriously, saying the Panamera is less attractive from some angles is being kind. While it may sound crazy to call a BMW fitting competition for a Maserati or even the budget alternative to the Aston Martin Rapide, this is the new Mercedes we’re talking about. Just don’t call it a sedan.

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

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.2 Seconds

0-60: 5.3 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 13.75 Seconds @ 103 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 24.1 MPG

 

2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Exterior, Rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Exterior, rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Gran Coupe Logo, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Exterior, LED headlamps, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Exterior, LED headlamps, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Engine, 3.0L Turbo, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Engine, 3.0L Turbo, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Engine, 3.0L Turbo, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Exterior, active grille shutters, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Interior, cargo room, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Interior, rear seats folded, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Interior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Interior, doors, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Interior, 24-Way seat controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Interior, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Interior, driver's side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Interior, center console, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Interior, iDrive controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Interior, iDrive Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Interior, iDrive Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Interior, Leather Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Interior, Leather Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Capsule Review: 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/capsule-review-2012-cadillac-cts-v-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/capsule-review-2012-cadillac-cts-v-coupe/#comments Thu, 25 Oct 2012 10:01:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=464860
Upon graduation from Belfast Teacher’s Training College in the late ’60s, my father found himself summoned into the headmaster’s office. A heavy oaken drawer was opened and an object placed upon the green baize of the blotting pad: “Ye’ll be needin’ this.”

“This” was the strap, thick leather symbol of martial law in the classroom. Dad left it lying where it was, left behind the tobacco-scented claustrophobia of that small office, left behind the small-minded bigotry of that blood-soaked island, and built himself a new home in the wilds of British Columbia.

From my birth, this has been my template for the masculine ideal: resolve, courage, intelligence, compassion. In the latter stages of his career, my father – long an administrator – could walk in and quell any classroom by his mere physical presence. And so, I’ve endeavoured to emulate him. To refrain from roarin’ an’ shoutin’. To be calm, yet firm of purpose. To be a man.

Of course, five minutes behind the wheel of this thing and it’s, COME AT ME BRO!


Don’t get me wrong, I’m awfully fond of the CTS-V, particularly in wagon form. It’s just not particularly subtle.

While I won’t go into an involved discussion of the design (read Sajeev Mehta’s thorough critique here instead), it’s sort of a visual caps-lock. You get the sense that they’d have built the entire thing out of grille if they’d have been able to get away with it.

When I remarked that going from a black/black FR-S to the ‘V felt like Robin-to-Batman, Jack B dubbed it the “Batbro,” and I can’t do better than that. If your utility belt is filled with hair-gel capsules and cocaine, then this is the sled for you.

Moving into the interior with some difficulty, due to the fiddly ‘Vette-style door latches, one finds a surprisingly high seating arrangement and a colour-combination clearly put together by a Boston Bruins fan. The details are fairly nice though.

Not as nice as the interior of a high-trim ATS however – the upcoming CTS update should fix things up a little, but this design has been around a while. Also, and I’m kicking myself for not snapping a quick shot of it, there’s a three-inch piece of fake carbon-fibre trim to the right of the steering wheel, and it’s stuck on at about fifteen degrees off the correct angle. Shoddy.


This centre-stack will doubtless soon be supplanted by the CUE system and all its haptic-touch trickery. I sort of prefer the buttons, myself, but the retractable navigation screen wobbles quite a bit when you go over bumps.

Two really great things to note: first, the Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel is excellent, and great at wicking away moisture from sweaty palms. Second, they’ve put the traction-control toggle right on the steering wheel.

Which brings us around to the question of performance.


Yes, the CTS-V is a bit of an automotive tribal tattoo – Conan the Vulgarian. On the other hand, great googly-moogly does it back up those looks with volcanic power levels.


The supercharged 6.2L LSA is nearly imbecilic in its ferocity, howling and bellowing out those twin centre-mounted exhausts. Flick off the overworked traction control so that it can go off and have a therapy session, and the blown V8 scorches the tires and rams repeatedly into the rev-limiter with a noise like a T-Rex choking on Jeff Goldblum.

I know, I know. Mr. Hyperbole’s come to tea again.

I assure you, this car both looks like Brock Lesnar and punches things in the face like Brock Lesnar. It’s not an alternative to an M3, it’s an alternative to PCP.

While a six-speed manual is also on offer, the higher take rate will surely be this, the paddle-shifted six-speed automatic. It works quite well, although there’s so much power, you could probably hook the LSA up to a two-speed Powerglide and it’d still be fine.

Cadillac/GM’s magnetic-ride suspension is here too, and the widened track and lowered height of the coupe certainly makes this ‘V much nimbler than the last one I drove (a wagon). I don’t think you’d call it a sportscar though.

Leave the traction-control sensibly on, and the CTS-V is quite a nice street car, apart from the mail-slot visibility. The Brembos scrub speed just fine for street-applications, and the zero-delay power-delivery is endlessly entertaining. And expensive.

Here’s the thing though. This car might be perfectly capable of smacking around some of the normally-aspirated German stuff, but like Mr. Lesnar, it’s gotten a bit old for the ring. It’s not in MMA competitions any more, it’s more like a member of the WWE.

Herein lieth some redemption: even with the clock-cleaning Shelby out there and ridiculous twin-turbo Teutons on the rise, the ‘V is still a character-filled car. It’s entertaining and burly and something of a self-parody.

But look out – that guy’s got a folding metal chair!

Cadillac supplied the car and insurance. I supplied the fuel, more fool me.

Picture Courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture Courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture Courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture Courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture Courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture Courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture Courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture Courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture Courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture Courtesy Brendan McAleer Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Next-Gen Mustang Confirmed For Ecoboost, IRS http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/next-gen-mustang-confirmed-for-ecoboost-irs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/next-gen-mustang-confirmed-for-ecoboost-irs/#comments Fri, 24 Aug 2012 15:24:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=457782

Few cars are subject to such intense rumor-mongering as the Ford Mustang. Luckily, an Automotive News report has confirmed two nuggets of information that will mark some of the biggest changes to Ford’s pony car.

AN reports

Ford brass have confirmed that an Eco-Boost engine will be added to the future portfolio. A smaller-displacement, high-output V6 (code-named Nano) would provide ample grunt while likely improving efficiency.

V6 Mustangs still carry a bit of a stigma with the muscle car faithful, but an Ecoboost Mustang would be a bit like a modern day SVO Mustang. The Buick Grand National substituted a turbo for a couple of cylinders, and it never lost any credibility or performance to its V8 brethren.

Also on deck for the next-generation Mustang is that

Ford will finally eschew the live rear axle in favor of an independent rear suspension, likely adding a bit of modern refinement to the occasionally raw (though energetic) feel of the contemporary car, which swings out easily from the tail

Again, we’ve seen an IRS setup on the venerated ’03 Cobra, though the independent-versus-live rear setup is still a subject of debate for Mustang enthusiasts. Ford seems to be looking at marketing the Mustang overseas, and these changes, along with more modern styling, are likely necessary to turn the Mustang into a “world car”/

 

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Review: 2012 BMW M6 Convertible http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/review-2012-bmw-m6-convertible/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/review-2012-bmw-m6-convertible/#comments Thu, 23 Aug 2012 13:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=456668

When the “F01″ 7-Series arrived in 2008 followed by the “F10″ 5-Series in 2009, I saw the writing on the wall; BMW is the new Mercedes. My theory was “proved” after a week with the 2011 335is and 2012 X5M. BMW fans decried my prophesy as blasphemy. I repeated my statement with the 2012 328i and caught the eye of egmCarTech. A Mercedes fan tried to run me over in a parking lot. My colleagues in the press thought I lost my mind. BMW’s media watchers were eerily silent. A month later I was told that BMW would allow me a week in the all-new 2012 M6 Convertible. Would the most expensive M car change my mind or prove the point once and for all?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

The previous 6 suffered from Chris Bangle’s posterior, a design that was either loved or hated. The new 6 replaces the awkward trunk with curves and creases that seem to please everyone. Despite being lower and wider than a 650i with plenty of unique sheetmetal, the casual observer was unable to tell just how much was altered to create the M6. Who knew the M6 would be a sleeper?

BMW continues to employ a soft top with “classic” 6-Series buttresses on either side of the rear glass, bucking the retractable hardtop trend that’s sweeping the three-pointed star. Aside from the weight benefits, the canvas lid maximizes trunk space, has less impacted on weight balance when the top is down, and most importantly: it operates at speeds up to 25MPH. Compared to the Jaguar XK-R, the M6 is larger and more aggressive. Thankfully, as aggressive as the M6 looks, the profile and details are more elegant than the Mercedes SL63 whose hood vents and trunk spoiler look overdone.

Interior

Inside the changes to the 650i donor car are less dramatic and limited to trim tweaks, lightly restyled seats, new steering wheel, and M-themed shifter. Despite sharing heavily with the plebeian 640i, the cabin is completely at home in a $120,000 luxury coupe with perfect stitched dashboard seams and soft leather everywhere. The only problem I found is the steering column shared with the lesser models. The M6′s airbag is considerably smaller, perfectly round and in the center of a thin three-spoke tiller making the rectangular plastic steering column extremely visible.

During my week with the M6 I acted as a quasi-pace-car driver for a 40-mile charity walk. Four of us spent two 10-hour days driving from one stop to another and hours in the seats getting sunburnt waiting for the walkers to arrive at the next stop. Normally four people jammed into a luxury convertible would be a trying experience, but  the M6 was surprisingly comfortable with a useable back seat and supportive front seats. In comparison, the XK’s rear seats are more of a joke than an actual feature, the Mercedes SL doesn’t have any back seats and the Maserati GranCabrio has a similar amount of legroom but awkwardly angled seat backs.

Infotainment & Gadgets

As with most modern BMW products, the M6 comes with BMW’s standard 10.2-inch iDrive system. Unfortunately the minor tweaks made to the new 3-series have not made it to the 6-Series meaning you still have a CD button rather than a media button and the head-up display won’t show you infotainment info. If you want to know more about iDrive, checkout our video on the 2012 650i or click on over to the 650i Coupe and 650i Convertible reviews.

For some reason, BMW’s excellent radar cruise control is not available on the M6, but the rest of the 6-Series’ gadgetry can be added. Our M6 was equipped with the $4,900 “Executive Package” which included full LED headlamps, a heated steering wheel, satellite radio, anti-fatigue front seats, soft-closing doors and BMW’s “apps” package for iDrive. Should your gadget-love know no budget; lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, all-around video camera and electronic speed limit info can be had for $1,900. Ventilated front seats are a $500 stand alone option, as is the $2,600 night vision system with pedestrian detection. The essential option is the $3,700 Bang & Olufsen sound system. The standard 12-speaker BMW audio system is balanced strangely toward the bright side of normal. If you’re throwing down six figures on your topless weekend car, checking this option box won’t hurt.

iDrive alone puts the M6 at the top of the gadget lover’s list, but let’s compare anyway. With a starting price over $30,000 higher than the M6, the SL63 brings active lane keep assist and radar cruise control to the party but lacks BMW’s night vision, all-around camera, anti-fatigue seats, LED headlamps and, let’s face it, COMAND should be sent out to pasture. The XKR-S looses this battle as well with a $20,000 premium, Jaguar’s aggravating infotainment system, and no gadgets to speak of.

Drivetrain

With CAFE regulations looming, twin-turbo engines are the latest craze for luxury marques and even BMW’s mighty M division has caved. The result is a step backwards and forwards with the bespoke V10 replaced by a modified version of BMW’s 400HP 4.4L twin-turbo V8 (N63). The same basic engine (S63) first debuted under the hood of the 555HP X5M and X6M. For M5 and M6 duty, BMW tweaked the engine by adding Valvetronic, increasing the compression ratio from 9.3:1 to 10:1 and bumping peak boost. The result is a minor increase in horsepower to 560 and a flattening of the power curve from a peak at 6,000RPM, to a plateau from  5,750-7,000. Torque remains steady at a stump-pulling 500lb-ft but broadens to 1,500-5,750RPM. BMW revised the 7-speed “M-DCT” dual clutch transmission from the last M5/M6 and tossed in a new electronic rear differential. While not strictly a drivetrain change, BMW swapped the floating rear subframe for a fixed unit to improve handling and power delivery.

In comparison, the Jaguar XKR-S delivers 550HP and 502lb-ft of twist from its blown 5.0L V8 and the all-new Mercedes SL63 offers your choice of 530HP/557lb-ft or 590HP/664lb-ft from AMG’s new 5.5L twin-turbo V8. Jaguar has continues to stick to the tried-and-true ZF 6-speed automatic while Mercedes continues their love affair with their 7-speed automatic sans torque converter. While each of these transmission types has an advantage, BMW claims their M-DCT transmission shifts in half the time of the competition.

Drive

It often takes a week for me to decide how I like a car. With the M6 it took 50 miles. Why? Because of how well BMW has blended savage acceleration with a soft luxurious ride and comfy seats. The M6 has turned into the ultimate road trip convertible.

Don’t get me wrong, the M6 is a serious performance contender. Bury the throttle and 60 passes in 3.75 seconds followed shortly by a blistering 11.89 second 1/4 mile at an eye popping 123MPH. These numbers are without launch control which, strangely enough, elevated our times by about 3/10ths. Just let the nannies do their thing. The numbers below show the M6 “suffers” slight turbo lag from 0-30. From 30-60, the M6 is a beast taking 0.70 fewer seconds than the XKR-S. By 120MPH the lighter weight of the Jaguar helps it stay right on the heels of the BMW. By the end of the 1/4 mile, the BMW finishes ahead by a car length. My seat time in the SL63 was limited and we weren’t able to get it out on the track, but don’t expect it to be much faster to 60. Despite the serious power advantage, the rear tires are skinnier than the Jag or BMW and traction is king.

2012 Jaguar XKR-S           2012 BMW M6 Convertible

0-30: 1.18 Seconds                 1.8 (Thank the turbos for that)

0-60: 3.83 Seconds                 3.75 (It’s all about the torque curve baby)

0-120: 11.84 Seconds             11.80 (curb weight means something)

1/4 mile: 12.0 @ 122 MPH       11.89 @ 123 MPH

A word about 0-60 numbers. With high horsepower cars, traction is the limiting factor. Because road surfaces, tires, etc. vary greatly. Our track times cannot be directly compared to other publications as they are not performed on the same surface – nevertheless, we’re all in the same ballpark. We use a 10Hz GPS meter for our testing. According to the manufacturer,accuracy is  +/-0.2MPH on 0-60 runs and +/-0.4MPH on 1/4 mile tests. According to our drag-strip verification, the system is within +/-0.3MPH over a 1/4 mile.

Out on the track, the XKR-S and M6 are well matched. While the XKR-S is a bit heavier in the nose and has narrower tires up front, the rear seems to find grip more easily and the steering is more direct and responsive. The English competitor is also 429lb lighter with a firmer suspension, less body roll and an absolutely savage 0-30 time. The M6 counters with lightning fast dual-clutch shifts and seemingly endless mid-range power. For 2012, BMW polished M-DCT’s software and the result is one of the smoothest “robotic manuals” I have ever driven. I’d like to compare it to the Mercedes SPEEDSHIFT transmission in the SL63, but I still have harsh-shift related whiplash from my test drive.

On the broken roads of Northern California, it’s a different story. BMW’s adaptive suspension makes the M6 more composed than the SL or XKR-S on broken pavement, even at higher speeds. It’s not that the Jag or Merc are unrefined by any measure, its that the M6 rides like a 7-Series while it handles like an overweight M3. Thank you modern technology.

The softer ride and number steering mean the M6 is less engaging in the bends. On the flip side, the M6 is a car you can drive every day while the SL63 and XKR-S exact some practical compromises. The M6 is the more comfortable car, it seats four and the monstrous trunk can hold luggage for 3 easily. What the BMW can’t counter is the visceral roar produced by Jag’s 5.0L V8. The M6 in comparison is quiet, some might even say demure.

 

If you want the best track car, get a GT-R. It will “out everything” the M6 on the track. If you want the best sounding V8 engine, get the XKR-S. If you want the sexiest coupe, get a Maserati. If you want the best all-around sports luxury coupe, look no further than the BMW M6. I admit that after a week with the most expensive M, I am smitten. But have I fallen for the M6 for all the “wrong” reasons? I value the M6′s perfect interior, comfortable seats, electronic do-dads and LED headlamps over straight-line or corner performance. In other-words, I elevate all the values I was raised to associate with Mercedes-Benz. But here in front of me is a BMW that embodies all the luxury I demand yet sacrifices only a smidgin of track performance in the process. I will leave the discussions of branding to more qualified writers, but I will say that nobody I met felt the Mercedes SL brought any more cachet than the M6, despite its price tag. Mercedes has been put on notice. BMW’s M6 reigns alone as the king of the German luxury coupe. AMG: you have been found wanting. (You know, except for that whole SLS thing.)

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

Specifications as tested:

0-30: 1.8 Seconds

0-60: 3.75 Seconds

1/4 Mile:  11.89 Seconds @ 123 MPH

Average fuel economy: 16.1 MPG over 825 miles

2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, side, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, front, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, front, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, backup camera, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, exhaust, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, rear, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, rear, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, side, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, wheels, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, headlamp, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, side, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, front, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, front, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, BMW logo, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, M6 logo, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, engine, 4.4L twin turbo, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, engine, 4.4L twin turbo, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, window switches, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, steering wheel controls, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, steering wheel controls, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, shifter, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, iDrive controller, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, dashboard, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, dashboard, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes2012 BMW M6 Convertible-023 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, start/stop button, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, seat controls, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, back seat, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, aerial view, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, head up display, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, Heads up display, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, gauges, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, iDrive, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, iDrive, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, iDrive, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, iDrive, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, door sill, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, shifter and key, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, steering wheel, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, dashboard, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Monroney Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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2013 SRT Viper Banking On 90′s Nostalgia http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/2013-srt-viper-banking-on-90s-nostalgia/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/2013-srt-viper-banking-on-90s-nostalgia/#comments Fri, 17 Aug 2012 15:05:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=457225

A few days ago, I heard Nirvana’s “Come as you are” on a classic rock station. It’s hard to think of a grune song as qualifying for “classic” status, but we are creeping up on nearly 20 years of Nirvana. On the car front, there’s already been a re-issue of the Mustang 5.0, and now the Mopar folks are taking a similar path.

The 2013 SRT Viper looks a hell of a lot like the first Viper GTS Coupe, launched back in 1996. I doubt that this is a mere coincidence. The blue/white paint is basically the only thing separating this car from the standard Vipers. Somewhere deep inside, my inner 8 year old can barely contain himself.

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Review: 2012 and 2013 MINI John Cooper Works (JCW) Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/review-2012-and-2013-mini-john-cooper-works-jcw-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/review-2012-and-2013-mini-john-cooper-works-jcw-coupe/#comments Sun, 29 Jul 2012 16:38:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=453630

Before 2011, if you were looking for a hot hatch but wanted something MINIer than a Cooper, your options were limited to the less than smart Smart BRABUS. With fuel costs on the rise and fuel economy targets looming, MINI and Fiat are hoping to tempt “sporty” shoppers into something smaller and more practical. This week we have the MINI answer to the question: why doesn’t MINI make a heavier John Cooper Works (JCW) without back seats? We kid, we kid. But in all seriousness, why would you buy the MINI Coupé instead of the four-seater JCW Cooper, JCW Roadster or even the sexy Italian we tested last week?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

The modular car strategy has been around for some time, but few auto makers take the “one sausage, different lengths” school of design to these heights. The MINI Coupé is instantly familiar with its large headlights, hood scoop and perky side view mirrors. To “coupify” the basic building blocks of the MINI brand, the engineers raked the windshield back, lowered the roof, ditched the hatchback for a “liftback” with a faux-trunk and added the infamous ” backwards baseball cap” spoiler. MINI prefers to call this design cue a “helmet,” but to my eye it’s just funky. And not in the groovy kinda way. Completing the look is a spoiler that deploys from the faux-trunk at 50MPH and retracts at 40 MPH. My bottom line: if you wan an attractive 2-seat MINI, just buy the Roadster.

While this may be splitting hairs, MINI tells us the Coupé is based on the Roadster which is based on the Cabriolet which is ultimately based on the Cooper. This game of semantics lineage is important because while the Coupé rides on the same 97.1-inch wheelbase as the Cooper, it inherits all the chassis stiffening from the Cabriolet and the Roadster, then adds the rigidity imparted by a solid top. Oh, and it ditches the Cooper’s rear seats.

Interior

All MINI models share more than just their design DNA – the interior bits are shared across the range, too. This is by no means a dig against MINI, as on the whole MINI’s parts bin is a nice place to be. As with every other MINI, the interior greets you with a ginormous round speedometer front-and-center and more chrome toggle switches than you can imagine. As always, the speedometer’s location means it’s more of a styling exercise than a useful gauge and thankfully MINI continues to provide a digital speed readout in the tachometer on the steering column. If you were hoping the MINI Coupé would improve on the few problem areas of the modern MINI, you’ll be disappointed. The same blend of first-rate stitched leather and bargain-basement headliners still exist.

The relative roominess of the Cooper gives way to a cabin that feels cozy, bordering on “tight.” The raked exterior design required moving the driver’s seat rearward which yields a seating (position relative to the wheels) that is similar to many RWD coupés. Headroom is still fairly good despite the lowered roof thanks to the novel way the headliner is molded with “divots” above the driver and passenger. Although this is unlikely to be a feature tested regularly, these “head wells” mean the MINI Coupé is one of the few cars I have tested recently where you can sit in a comfortable driving position wearing a helmet and not have it constantly hitting the ceiling.

Infotainment

The infotainment system on the JCW Coupé is a basic, 6-speaker AM/FM/XM/HD Radio/CD unit. That’s right, iDevice  integration and a Bluetooth interface are $500 extra. If you’re a gadget hound like I am, be ready to open your wallet because the options list is extensive, full featured and high-priced. An extra $500 (or $250 if you planned to get the armrest anyway) gets you the MINI Connected system (without navigation). MINI Connected is essentially BMW’s iDrive (circa 2011) with a rounded LCD and a more minimalist control interface. Like iDrive, Connected provides an elegant, snappy interface for browsing your tunes along with iPhone app integration. As with BMW’s iPhone app, you can Tweet, Facebook, stream internet radio, Google, and view some additional “sport” themed instrumentation on the LCD.

MINI takes the app thing to a new level with their “Dynamic Music” and “Mission Control” apps. Dynamic Music plays digitized, beat-heavy, music that changes as you drive. Speed up and the tempo increases while the system adds more instruments. Flip your turn signal on and cymbals start ringing out of the speaker on the side that you’re indicating. Mission Control plays canned phrases in stereotypical British accents in response to driver inputs. Floor the MINI and the system says “fulllll throttle!” Press the Sport button and several canned voices have a conversation about sporty driving. While it is entertaining for a day or two, I can’t imagine owners using this option daily.

Like a gateway drug, once you have MINI Connected, it’s hard to say no to the $750 nav. Once you have the nav, it’s easy to up-sell the $750 Harman/Kardon speaker system. After all that’s been added, your MINI sales rep will tell you “if you select the Technology Package you can add the parking sensors for half price” ($250.) Total up-sell: $2,750 and we have only just begun. The JCW Coupé has a base MSRP of $31,900 ($32,050 for 2013), but if you’re buying “off the lot,” expect to pay around $38,000 according to our survey of 4 local MINI dealers. Our tester rang in at $38,450 and included metallic paint, the Connected system with navigation, chrome accents, black headlamps, sport stripes, white turn signals, chrome mirror caps and the up-level speaker system. This represents a nearly $2,000 premium over a similarly equipped four-seat JCW hatchback.

Drivetrain

Powering the JCW Coupé is the same 1.6L four-cylinder engine shared with every MINI model (as well as select BMW, Citroën and Peugeot models), only this one’s had a twin-scroll turbo and direct-injection bolted on. New for 2013 is a variable valve event system based on BMW’s Valvetronic technology to reduce emissions (power output remains the same.) The JCW tuning increases power to 208HP at a lofty 6,000RPM and torque jumps to 192-lbft from 1,850-5,600RPM. MINI incorporates an “over-boost” function to bump torque to 207 lb-ft (2,000-5,200RPM) automatically under the right conditions. A six-speed manual is the only cog-swapper on JCW models in 2012, but for 2013 MINI has announced you’ll be able to have the car shift for you. MINI has yet to release official pricing on 2013 options, but expect the Aisin six-speed automatic to add around $1,250.

Drive

Before our week-long stint in the JCW, I had an opportunity to drive a similarly equipped JCW Coupé on Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca. The impression that resulted is a classic problem in our business. The JCW Coupé impressed with impeccable track manners, incredible grip, perfect poise in the corkscrew, moderate steering feel and a feeling of confidence. Note that I didn’t say “fast.” Sorry MINI fans, with only 208 horses motivating 2,811lbs, the power to weight ratio ends up around 13.5:1 (lbs:HP.) This means the JCW Coupé scoots to 60 in 6.6 seconds, notably slower than the Volvo XC60 R-Design we had last month (5.6 seconds) or even a V6 Camry (6 seconds).

Back to the problem with testing a road car on a track. First and most obvious, the only place you’ll find perfect pavement in California is on a track. The rest of us must contend with potholes, loose pavement, stop-light races, off camber corners, and parking lots. The “glued to the ground” handling feel the JCW exhibited on the track was replaced by a vehicle that felt decidedly unsettled over corners with broken pavement. The increased chassis rigidity, stiffer springs  and run-flat tires that made the JCW Coupé a delight on the track also make it a back killer on Highway 101. The road noise that wasn’t a problem when you were wearing a helmet was a problem when you’re trying to have a hands-free conversation on the speakerphone. On the track you’re looking forward, on the road, the roof design and B pillars cause enormous blind spots while the seating position and small rear window make rearward visibility poor with the spoiler down and nearly non-existent with the spoiler deployed. Keep in mind, these trade-offs are nothing new, many manufacturers follow exactly the same formula to create performance versions, especially those with low curb weights.

There is little practical reason to buy the JCW Coupé over the regular hatchback JCW Cooper, unless you live in an area with three-person HOV lanes and your carpool is a dynamic duo.The regular JCW Cooper delivers 99% of the fun for nearly $2,000 less, has two extra seats, more cargo room and is far more attractive. If money is no object MINI has an even better solution for you: the MINI JCW Roadster. The drop-top MINI two-seater solves all the aesthetic issues of the Coupé and goes topless to boot. The problem? The price. A roadster is $3,300 more than the Coupé in 2012 and $4,350 more for 2013.

Because of how great the JCW Coupé felt on the track, I spent an entire week trying to find a compelling reason to buy one over the regular JCW Cooper hatchback. I’m still searching. Likewise the MINI Coupé seems to be the answer to a question few have asked. If you are one of the few people I met that liked the way the Coupé looked, or you just want one of the rarest MINIs around, then the JCW Coupé is for you. Everyone else should stop at the Fiat dealer and check out an Abarth on their way to buy the JCW Cooper hatchback.

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

Specifications as tested:

0-30: 2.8 Seconds

0-60: 6.6 Seconds (I’m sure a professional driver could eek out a 6.4)

1/4 Mile: 15.0 Seconds @ 98MPH

Average fuel economy: 25.6MPG over 754 miles

 

2012 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Exterior, side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Exterior, side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Exterior, side 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Exterior, wheels, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Exterior, spoiler, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Exterior, front , Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Exterior, exhaust tips,  Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Exterior, rear, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Interior, dashboard, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Interior, dashboard, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Interior, dashboard, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Interior, Steering wheel, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Interior, cargo area, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Interior, cargo area, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Interior, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Interior, seats, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Interior, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Interior, center console, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Interior, steering wheel, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Infotainment, MINI connected nav, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Infotainment, MINI connected LCD, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Infotainment, MINI connected LCD, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Infotainment, MINI connected LCD, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Infotainment, MINI connected mission control, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Infotainment, MINI connected LCD, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Infotainment, MINI connected LCD, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Infotainment, MINI connected controls, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Engine, 1.6L turbo, 211HP, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Engine, 1.6L turbo, 211HP, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Engine, 1.6L turbo, 211HP, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, Engine, 1.6L turbo, 211HP, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI JCW Coupe Monroney Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

 

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Coming Soon: Not Your Father’s Third Wife’s Lexus SC430 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/coming-soon-not-your-fathers-third-wifes-lexus-sc430/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/coming-soon-not-your-fathers-third-wifes-lexus-sc430/#comments Mon, 16 Jul 2012 13:24:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=452913

Back in November at the launch of the Lexus GS, a product planner who shall remain nameless turned the tables on me; when I started asking him questions about future products, like the possibility of a Lexus GS-F, he began to grill me about competitive product.

One car that seemed to have captured his interest was the Audi S5. We spoke about how beautiful it was and how even if it wasn’t as fast or dynamic as a BMW M3, it still managed to capture the attention of enthusiasts and the general public. I asked him point-blank whether Lexus was going in this direction, but he only said that the absence of the SC430 left a void in the Lexus lineup.

The SC430, of course, was better at carrying golf clubs and tall lattes than doing any kind of real driving. The new coupe will apparently resemble the LF-LC concept coupe revealed earlier this year, and use a 2+2 seating configuration with a hybrid powertrain. According to a report by Automotive News, pricing and positioning would be closer to the Porsche 911 Turbo and Aston Martin Vantage – a potentially tough feat for the brand, given that it’s never sought such lofty heights before (notwithstanding the LFA).

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Review: 2012 Audi TT RS http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/review-2012-audi-tt-rs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/review-2012-audi-tt-rs/#comments Mon, 16 Jul 2012 13:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=452753

Anyone who’s been paying attention knows that the Audi TT is based on the VW Golf, which can be had for under $18,000. And it can seem silly when people buy an econobox then pour multiples of the purchase price into mods. When Audi does the same to create the $57,725 TT RS, how can we take the end result seriously?

Audiphiles will notice the subtle changes Audi has made to distinguish the RS from other TTs, and approve. The rest of us will see an Audi TT with a tasteful, non-retractable wing spoiler and gorgeous five-spoke alloy wheels. We might notice the enlarged intakes beneath the headlamps. There’s nothing to proclaim to those not in the know that they’re in the presence of a 360-horsepower bullet. Aside the big grille that started them all, outrageous styling details just aren’t the Audi way. The TT itself remains as iconic and beautiful as the day it sent car designers around the world racing back to their sketch pads. The car’s shape authentically communicates its front-engine, all-wheel-drive layout.

Little of the extra money over the $39,175 base TT went into the RS’s interior. The nappa seats (with faux suede center panels and contrasting stitching) and door panel inserts pass muster, but much of the rest looks and feels suited to a car half the TT RS’s price. Such is the danger with any special performance model where over $16,000 goes towards upgraded hardware. This said, little seems cheap, just purposeful (though the clicky buttons on the base audio system wouldn’t make the cut at Hyundai). Amenities are limited; a universal garage door opener, rain-sensing wipers, and heated power front seats are standard, but keyless ignition and driver seat memory aren’t even available. One owner commented that a sunroof would have been nice to let some light into the dark interior. Also, Audi’s latest infotech hasn’t yet made it to the TT. A note for all auto makers: metal has no place on top of a manual shift knob. You’ll want driving gloves on hot, sunny days.

The front seats are very supportive and moderately comfortable (as is often the case with my particular back, no position of the four-way lumbar felt quite right). The back seat is headroom-limited to preteens and height-challenged adults, and these only if the people up front are willing and able to shunt forward a few inches (we had two kids in back for one short trip, not something we’d want to do daily). But there is at least a back seat for those who sometimes need one, and it folds in two sections to nearly double the 13 cubic foot cargo area. The TT’s windows aren’t large, but they all start low enough and the pillars are thin enough that you can easily see all around the car from the driver’s seat, in sharp contrast to a 370Z (the predecessor of which lifted more than a little styling inspiration from the TT). The forward position of the windshield header can obstruct traffic signals, but this lesser crime doesn’t crimp confidence once underway.

Make that rapidly underway. Volkswagen’s rarely praised long-stroke 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine has been boosted and heavily modified to yield 360 horsepower (at 5,500 rpm) and 343 pound-feet of torque (at 1,650), a healthy 95-horsepower bump over the already quick four-cylinder TTS. Ford’s EcoBoost V6 produces similar numbers at a higher torque peak—with an extra liter of displacement. I’ve driven plenty of highly pressurized engines that feel much less torquey at low rpm than their specs suggest they ought to. A torque peak south of 2,000 rpm often doesn’t mean much in practice. This isn’t such a case. The TT RS mill explodes out of even the tightest corners. Wind it out, and the shove only grows more forceful, with a throaty burr from the exhaust once over 3,500. The sound isn’t that of sophisticated machinery, but it’s also far from agricultural and clearly not that of an inline four. Hit the Sport button to open up the dual mode exhaust sooner (it still doesn’t drone when cruising). The information center suggests that boost builds gradually, but there’s never a sensation of lag, only a tsunami-class surge.

In other TTs a clutch is no longer available. In the TT RS, it’s mandatory. Clutch and shifter efforts are fairly high, but their action is so fluid and precise that this meatiness energizes rather than tires. The slop-free electro-mechanical steering has a similar character, with a more direct feel and more nuanced feedback than I’ve experienced in any other recent Audi. Pushing the car hard through turns, your fingertips and the seat of your pants know exactly which direction the front tires are pointing and how much they’re slipping. At highway speeds, the steering becomes very firm and virtually locked on center (with sport mode bumping it up another notch). Oddly, the one car I’ve driven in the past year with similar steering was a Cadillac, albeit the much-praised CTS-V.

Unlike with the CTS-V, fuel economy surprises in a positive direction. The trip computer reported an average of 8.5 miles per gallon for a few hot laps around my favorite handling loop, but I’ve observed as low as five in some other cars.The EPA rates the TT RS at 18 city, 25 highway. The car’s trip computer routinely reported much better numbers: low-to-mid 20s in the suburbs, and high 20s to low 30s on the highway. Doubting its veracity, I asked a man who owns one. He measured low 20s in aggressive mountain road driving. A MazdaSpeed3, with nearly 100 fewer horses and front-wheel drive, has the same EPA ratings.

All-wheel drive ensures a drama-free transfer of the turbo-five’s prodigious power to the road, even when exiting sharp curves with your foot planted. Others report reaching sixty in a little over four seconds. On the other hand, all-wheel drive combined with the very nose-heavy 60/40 distribution of the car’s 3,300 pounds (only 153 more than a base 211-horsepower TT) means that the TT RS isn’t going to handle like a conventional sports car. But until you approach the tires’ high (but not quite Boxster S-high) limits, the Audi doesn’t understeer substantially (a change from the less graceful first-gen TT). Instead, it feels like a solid chunk of machinery that simply goes where it’s pointed with little if any untoward drama. With a smooth hand on the wheel and a steady foot on the throttle, the rear tires initially slip about the same time as the fronts, defying physics. Extreme measures withstanding, oversteer isn’t happening, even with the stability control disabled. I tried to provoke some in a large, empty parking lot, and failed. Nail the brake with the steering wheel turned, and you just scrub the hell out of the outside front tire. The tight chassis nevertheless engages, even titillates. The weight distribution extracts the largest penalty from braking. Hit the pedal hard at speed and the front tires are much more easily overloaded than in a more balanced car. A 2013 Boxster (no new Cayman until next year) should prove more playful on a road twisty enough to exercise it and open enough to wind out its peaky flat six. But I’ve never driven a four-second-to-sixty car that is remotely as easy to flog around my off-track “track” as the TT RS. Yet it’s also a blast, literally and figuratively. In the cut-and-thrust of suburban driving the Porsche does its best to mimic the livability of a Toyota while the Audi continues to entertain. Not for a moment in the latter car will you forget what you’re driving.

And the Audi’s livability? Not bad, actually. The ride is firm, but unless you engage sport mode it’s rarely harsh. The lightning-quick adaptive dampers earn their keep. Restrict their range with sport mode, and the car jostles more on imperfect roads and rhythmically bounces down a concrete highway much like a late model STI or Z. The difference with the TT RS is that this bouncing is avoidable. A Jetta GLI reacts more sharply to broken pavement and generally seems less refined. (At less than half the price, it better.) An Evo is considerably more brutal, and a non-NISMO 370Z rides much like the Audi does in sport mode, while a 2013 Boxster (when fitted with its own trick shocks) is modestly easier on the teeth. Noise levels inside the TT RS are moderately high on concrete highways—if you need quiet, get a bigger Audi—but a Z or Corvette is much harder on the ears. One nit: if you lower the windows at highway speeds, there’s buffeting. But if you’ve lived with any other high-performance sports car on a daily basis, you can easily live with this one.

The tested TT RS included a $2,700 bundle of “titanium” (i.e. metallic gray) wheels, “titanium” grille, and sport exhaust (which allegedly deepens the tone a bit). For rear obstacle detection, steering-linked headlights, nav, and a Bose upgrade from the marginal base audio you need the $3,500 Tech Package. Or not. Neither package seems a good value unless you absolutely must have their contents.

Not twins, a.k.a. under the influence

At the TT RS’s price there are plenty of other contenders. Among sports cars without drop tops, the Nissan 370Z NISMO is over $16,000 less before adjusting for feature differences and about $11,000 less afterwards (based on TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool), but it’s much harder to see out of, much trickier to handle, and generally much harder to live with. A Chevrolet Corvette 3LT with adaptive shocks costs about the same as the Audi. The more brutal Corvette weighs less, but feels larger, partly because it is ten inches longer but also because GM has yet to get the car’s steering quite right (we’re all hopeful for the C7). If you can’t instantly choose between these two cars, you don’t know what you’re looking for. Do without any options, and the recently superseded 2012 Porsche Cayman S listed for “only” $5,000 more than a TT RS. But check enough boxes to equip the Porsche roughly the same, and it flew another $12,000 out of the ballpark. Of course, if you happen to need either a limited-utility rear seat or all-wheel-drive, then the TT RS becomes your only option in the bunch.

Beyond the back seat and all-wheel drive, the TT is simply a different animal than the others. As much as I’ve sung the praises of rear-wheel-drive dynamics, I find myself drawn to this highly charismatic, chuckable chunk of an Audi. Perhaps this is because I’ve also long had a thing for hot hatches. I own a Protege5, greatly enjoy the MazdaSpeed3, and am very much looking forward to the Ford Focus ST. Take that class of car, with its inherently safer handling yet often more lively “point and shoot” disposition at legal speeds, dial the engine and chassis up to 11 while lowering the driving position, tune these bits and pieces to form an unusually coherent firm-but-not-stiff whole, and you essentially have the Audi TT RS. Yes, there’s a Golf under there somewhere, but for anyone who has loved a hot hatch this could well prove a deal maker rather than a deal killer.

Audi provided the TT RS with insurance and a tank of gas.

Scott Vollink of Suburban Porsche in Farmington Hills, MI, provided a 2013 Boxster S so I could compare the two cars. His dealership also sells Audis. Scott can be reached at 248-741-7980.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online source of car reliability and pricing information.

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How To Buy A New(er) B13 Nissan Sentra SE-R For $2,887 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/how-to-buy-a-newer-b13-nissan-sentra-se-r-for-2887/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/how-to-buy-a-newer-b13-nissan-sentra-se-r-for-2887/#comments Wed, 11 Jul 2012 16:50:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=452207

In response to a comment regarding Nissan’s social media plans for product development, and the revival of the B13 Sentra SE-R, I felt that I should share this nugget of gold with any readers adventurous enough to go marauding in Mexico in pursuit of a well-preserved sport compact.

Once upon a time, a friend of mine was dating a Mexican national, and had planned to bring back a mint air-cooled Beetle to turn into some kind of Baja off-road racer. I had always been interested in the Mexican version of the B13 Nissan Sentra, known as the Tsuru after reading Sport Compact Car’s infamous “Nissan Tsuru Review”  (perhaps one of the formative pieces that made me want to write about cars)

A little digging around online (and my poor High School-level Spanish) led me to find that the Sentra SE-R had continued on years after its 1991 demise. The Tsuru GSR-2000 was essentially the legendary B13 SE-R with a funny name. They tended to be in the $3,000-$5,000 range a couple years back, but the end of my friend’s relationship put my plans to rest before logistical issues could torpedo them for good.

Today’s comment led me to Google search again, and prices haven’t moved much at all. SE-R’s of any stripe are impossible to find in the snowbelt (save for the impostor, QR25 powered versions) and the rest seem to have been turned into race cars. If I had some time, a trailer and no semblance of financial responsibility, I’d be tempted to head down and bring one back with me. You can’t even get a decent Civic for 38,500 pesos!

 

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Subaru BRZ Already Comes With Cash On The Hood http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/subaru-brz-already-comes-with-cash-on-the-hood/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/subaru-brz-already-comes-with-cash-on-the-hood/#comments Tue, 10 Jul 2012 16:43:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=452009

While the Scion FR-S is performing well in its initial months of sales, the lower volume Subaru BRZ already has some cash on the hood, to the tune of $400.

While the BRZ was never intended to be the volume seller, the slightly pricier BRZ moved 818 units in June, compared to 2,684 examples of the FR-S. Data from TrueCar, provided to USA Today, shows a $400 incentive for the BRZ, which seems fairly early for a brand new, well-hyped sports car so early on in its life.

One area where the BRZ has the FR-S beat is transaction price. While the BRZ carries a price premium of $1,315 over the FR-S (which stickers for $24,930 for the manual, or $26,030 for the automatic), the BRZ’s average transaction price is a fair bit higher; $29,085 for BRZ, versus $25,653 for the FR-S. The Scion only comes with one trim level and a few options, while the BRZ is available in two trim levels, with both models featuring more equipment than their Scion sibling. Given the respective demographics of Scion and Subaru, the transaction price discrepancy isn’t so shocking. Though some of our xB owning readers will surely beg to differ, the odds of an FR-S owner working at McDonalds to pay the car note is far higher than that of someone buying a BRZ.

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Scion FR-S Sells Well, But It’s Early http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/scion-fr-s-sells-well-but-its-early/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/scion-fr-s-sells-well-but-its-early/#comments Fri, 06 Jul 2012 16:55:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=451602

So often we hear analysts and fans excuse a car’s poor initial sales performance with a phrase like, “But it’s early.” Oddly, the very same phrase is legitimately used when discussing a new car’s surprisingly successful first month. In just its second month on sale, in just its first full month on sale, the Scion FR-S did not sell poorly.

Rarely has a car generated such an avid fan base before any independent testing had been completed. In a market that’s been starved by the disappearance of the Toyota Celica, Acura Integra, Honda Prelude, and Mazda RX-8; insulted by the long hiatus of Ford’s performance-oriented Focus; and offended by the weight gain of Mitsubishi’s Eclipse, a lightweight rear-wheel-drive sports car is a gift at $25,000.

Not that they’re direct rivals, but so-called sports sedans like the Volvo S60, Lexus IS, Acura TSX did not sell as frequently as the Scion last month. Mini’s best-selling variant, the Cooper and Cooper S hardtop, sold 2601 times in June. Volkswagen sold 1508 GTI hatchbacks plus 447 copies of the Golf R. Subaru Impreza WRX sales jumped 72% to 1138. Scion tC sales climbed 4% to 2128. The rear-wheel drive BMW 1-Series found 701 buyers. Sales of the Mazda MX-5 Miata improved 30% to 659. Honda CR-Z sales slid 58% to 409 units. Besides the American muscle car trio, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe (numbers for which are folded into the Genesis’s 3374-unit total), and the curious Hyundai Veloster, 3232 of which were sold in June, the FR-S fared better than other sporting cars.

As the best-selling Scion in June, FR-S sales reached 2684 units. That’s 32% of Scion’s U.S. total. Incidentally, in its first Canadian sales month, the FR-S delivered 51% of Scion’s volume.

Would a potential FR-S buyer consider acquiring a Mustang instead? Regardless, sales of the Ford pony car surged to 10,263 in June. Chevrolet Camaro sales rose to 9123. Dodge sold 4009 Challengers, marking that car’s best ever June.

One car we know to be a direct rival of the FR-S is the virtually identical Subaru BRZ. 271 BRZs left dealers in May, another 818 in June. Subaru never intended the BRZ to be the comparatively high-volume car that Scion’s FR-S now clearly is.

But it’s early. And to quote another painful analyst phrase, “Only time will tell.”

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Hyundai Gen Why Intramural League, Third Place: 2012 Elantra Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/hyundai-gen-why-intramural-league-third-place-2012-elantra-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/hyundai-gen-why-intramural-league-third-place-2012-elantra-coupe/#comments Fri, 22 Jun 2012 14:30:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=449627

This is the first installment of a three-part series on Hyundai’s three newest offerings, the Elantra Coupe, Elantra GT and Veloster Turbo.

As I casually sauntered over to the gunmetal Elantra GT, I my mind began to ponder Jack’s piece on the Lamborghini and the politics of masculinity, until a Hyundai PR rep stopped me in mid-daydream. “Oh, you guys are driving the Elantra Coupe this morning.”

How fitting. The compact coupe. The chick car par excellence. Favored by grade school administrators and recent divorcees, with a rich lineage dating back to the Mercury Cougar (the front-drive version), the third-generation Mitsubishi Eclipse and the Nissan 240SX (yes, it skewed predominantly female in the pre-drifting era).

The Elantra Coupe finishes third not because it’s a bad car, but because it’s just less desirable and less fun than the other two cars here.  While Mercedes made the coupe version of the S-Class (the CL) look extremely elegant and attractive, Hyundai’s coupe looks like a shortened Elantra – not a bad thing, since the Elantra is already a pretty attractive car.

Under the skin, it’s the same thing, too. Same chassis, same 148 horsepower 1.8L 4-cylinder engine, though there are a couple unique bits, such as a revised electric power steering system and a unique rear suspension setup with an integrated swaybar. Interior dimensions remain largely the same, save for a bit of a reduction in rear headroom.

Our drive route took place along mostly arterial roads, with a few twisties thrown in to help us get a taste of the Elantra Coupe’s capabilities. There’s a reason for the heavy bias towards normal driving; the Coupe ain’t sporty. There’s a fair amount of body roll, the steering is heavier but doesn’t really provide much feedback and whatever responsiveness that’s built into the engine is sacrificed at the altar of fuel efficiency – tall gearing helps it get that coveted 40 mpg highway rating. The clutch and shifter are nothing to write home about either. To its credit, the Elantra Coupe has a lot of well thought out elements, but none of them have to do with driving. Things like Bluetooth, and heated seats are standard. The center console is very intuitive, with Hyundai avoiding the “button explosion” issue that plagues cars like the Chevrolet Cruze. There are cup holders and storage compartments everywhere. And that’s all on the $17,745 GS trim level, which serves as the base model. At $23,095 fully loaded with Navigation and automatic transmission, the Elantra Coupe Technology Package has all the “premium” features one might ever want.

Hyundai is honest about the Elantra’s mission as a mainstream, rather than a performance car, but their positioning may need to be tweaked. Ostensibly aimed at Gen Y customers, the Elantra Coupe will likely fall into the same trap that snared the Scion xB and Honda Element (and apparently, the Veloster, which has its fair share of buyers that could be the parents of Generation Y customers). They will be snapped up by a more mature crowd, looking for a swoopy, youthful two-door that’s easy to get in and out of, won’t beat them up on the way to work and most of all but has neither the boy-racer stigma nor the inherent compromises of a real sporty 2-door. According to Hyundai, they are considering a performance-oriented version of this car. They said it wouldn’t happen with the Veloster, but a year later, they did introduce a turbo version. Right now though, think of this car as a Celica GT or a Saturn Ion Coupe for the second decade of the 21st century.

Gen Y on the other hand, doesn’t have such a favorable view of coupes. A 3-Series or a Mustang gets a pass, but for many of us, sedans can have their own prestige too. We may not have grown up riding in Dad’s “personal luxury coupe” – our contemporary, well-to-do father figure likely had some kind of 4-door Japanese sedan that coddled its passengers and let the driver have some fun as well. Look at the demise of the Monte Carlo and Impala-dominated lowrider movement and the birth of the “VIP car” scene if you need further proof. An Elantra sedan may very well be an acceptable vehicle to Gen Y’s sensibilities, since 4-doors don’t carry that kind of stigma. If anything, the two-doors might be viewed as a try-hard, perpetual-bachelor type of vehicle, if memories of the Ford Probe and third-generation Mitsubishi Eclipse still linger.

The Elantra Coupe will be a very appealing product for an undeserved but prominent market segment, that still likes the idea of owning a 2-door car, but wants some comfort, convenience and efficiency. They may be underwhelmed with their Civic Coupe, looking to get rid of their aging Celica GT or hoping to downsize from their Altima. They won’t be in my cohort.

Hyundai provided flight, accomodations, meals and press vehicles. Thanks to Morgan Segal for augmenting my own crappy photos with his stock photography.

Hyundai Hyundai Hyundai Hyundai Hyundai Hyundai Hyundai MY13_ElantraCoupe_29 MY13_ElantraCoupe_30 MY13_ElantraCoupe_31 MY13_ElantraCoupe_32 MY13_ElantraCoupe_33 Hyundai Hyundai Hyundai Hyundai MY13_ElantraCoupe_38 MY13_ElantraCoupe_04 MY13_ElantraCoupe_05 MY13_ElantraCoupe_06 MY13_ElantraCoupe_07 MY13_ElantraCoupe_08 MY13_ElantraCoupe_09 MY13_ElantraCoupe_10 MY13_ElantraCoupe_11 MY13_ElantraCoupe_12 MY13_ElantraCoupe_13 MY13_ElantraCoupe_14 MY13_ElantraCoupe_15 MY13_ElantraCoupe_16 Hyundai Hyundai Hyundai Hyundai Hyundai 002 003 004 005 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

 

 

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BMW 135is, Because We Can’t Have The 1M Anymore http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/bmw-135is-because-we-cant-have-the-1m-anymore/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/bmw-135is-because-we-cant-have-the-1m-anymore/#comments Tue, 15 May 2012 18:59:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=444533

Even though the BMW 1 Series M Coupe is gone forever, performance-minded 1-Series customers must  have a high-end performance model, even if a lot of them don’t even know if the car is front-drive or rear-drive.

With a 320 horsepower 3.0L twin-turbo six making 317 lb-ft or torque (versus 300/300 for the regular car), the 135is can be had with either a 6-speed stick or a 7-speed dual clutch gearbox. A coupe will cost you $44,195 while a ragtop will run $44,895.  Whether the extra 20 horsepower, 17 lb-ft and cosmetic tweaks justifies the price premium ($1,895 for the coupe, $795 for the convertible) is up to the buyer.

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Pre-Production Review: 2013 Scion FR-S http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/pre-production-review-2013-scion-fr-s/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/pre-production-review-2013-scion-fr-s/#comments Wed, 09 May 2012 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=443221

Scion has had a sordid past. Originally, Scion was Toyota’s solution to a lack of 18-25 year old shoppers. Over the past 9 years however Scion has lost their way and lost their youth. Their median buyer just turned 42. The tC coupe, which started out as a car for college kids, now has a median buyer of around 30. Scion claims the FR-S is a halo car – to me, that means the FR-S will be bought by older drivers (who can actually afford it), attracting younger buyers to their showrooms. Despite being out of the target demographic, Scion flew me to Vegas to sample the FR-S’s sexy lines to find out.

The rear-drive layout, boxer engine and low center of gravity all play out in the car’s distinctive exterior. Toyota claims it was meant to pay homage to classic Toyotas of the past, but if Porsche and Lotus were charged with penning a Scion, this is what it would look like. Our time with the FR-S was limited to a 100 mile drive and about 6 hours of SCCA style autocross and road course track time in a pre-production FR-S. Jack will be flogging a production FR-S on track sometime this summer, assuming the stars align.

Inside, Scion opted for snazzy faux-suede instead of the coarse fabric of the base Subaru BRZ (the BRZ is available with  leather/faux-suede seating in the Limited model). Scion also swapped out the silver dash trim for something that looks like it might be imitating carbon fiber but is actually a motif based on the letter “T.”

Click here to view the embedded video.

Like all Scion models, the standard radio is a Pioneer unit with standard Bluetooth and iPod/USB interfaces. Instead of bringing Toyota’s Entune system to the Scion brand, Pioneer was engaged to bring their “App Radio” into what appears to be its first OEM use. Unlike traditional nav systems, the “BeSpoke” system (as Scion is calling it) is essentially just an iPhone app. The app runs solely on your phone and the head unit merely controls the app and displays the video generated by the phone. This means an iPhone is required for it work (Android phones are not supported.) It also means navigating eats up your data plan and you must be in a cellular service area for it to work. The system is expected to cost under $90 and since it’s an App on your phone, it’s never out of date. Much like iDrive, BeSpoke will also offer Facebook, Twitter and internet radio integration.

Under the lies the fruit of the Subaru/Toyota marriage: a 2.0L direct-injection boxer engine. Although it’s based on Subaru’s Impreza engine, it has been re-engineered to incorporate Toyota’s “D4S” direct-injection tech. The addition of GDI boosts power by 52HP to 200HP. Since the engine is naturally aspirated, the torque improvement is a more modest 6lb-ft bringing the total 151 at a lofty 6,600 RPM, while peak horsepower comes in at seven grand. Despite the online rumors, Scion Vice President Jack Hollis indicated there will be no turbo FR-S.

Since the FR-S is intended to be “baby’s first track car,” Scion’s event was held at the Spring Mountain Motor Resort in Pahrump, Nevada. Out on the track, the FR-S isn’t as slow as an early Miata, but it’s not especially quick either. However, the low center of gravity and light curb weight make the FR-S fairly adept in the corners, whether you’re on track or on an autocross course. The lack of torque is the one major blight, whether on or off track. This deficiency was made more obvious by my trip landing in the middle of a week with Hyundai’s 2013 Genesis 2.0T which delivers more power at far more accessible RPMs, despite its porkier stature.

Unlike most “sporty” RWD cars, the FR-S is tuned toward neutral/oversteer characteristics. When combined with the standard Michelin Primacy HP tires, the FR-S is far more tail happy on the track than the V6 Mustang or Genesis 2.0T. The lively handling is undoubtedly more fun, but inexperienced drivers beware:  getting sideways can be hazardous to your health, not to mention your insurance premiums. Without empirical numbers, I cannot say if the FR-S will out-handle the Genesis 2.0T on the track, however the Genesis feels more composed and less likely to kill you, thanks to a chassis tuned towards understeer and staggered 225/245 series tires (front/rear.) Contrary to the web-rumors, the FR-S is not shod with “Prius tires” as we would know them. The Primacy HP is a “grand touring summer tire” with “lower rolling resistance” tech added. The tire is used on certain Lexus GS, Mercedes E-Class, Audi A6 models and a JDM market only Prius “with performance pack.” Still, the tire isn’t as “grippy” as the FR-S deserves, so buyers should plan on swapping them for stickier rubber ASAP.

Scion’s “single-price with dealer installed options” philosophy continues. Starting at $24,930, the only options are: $1,100 for the automatic transmission, around $900 for the BeSpoke radio and a variety of wheels, spoilers and other appearance accessories. That’s about $1,295 less than the BRZ, although the gap narrows to almost nothing when you add the BRZ’s standard navigation system and HID headlamps. The nicer standard upholstery, more controlled pricing and a plethora of manufacturer supported (and warrantied) accessories make the FR-S a compelling choice vs the BRZ, but speed daemons will want to drive past the Scion dealer and test drive the Genesis 2.oT. If you want an FR-S, be prepared to wait as Scion expects supplies to be somewhat limited starting June 1st.

 Scion flew me out to Vegas, put me up in a smoky casino and provided the vehicle, insurance, gasoline, track time and admission to the state park for the photography.

 Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.6 Seconds

0-60: 6.7 Seconds

Fuel Economy: 22MPG average over mixed roads (track time not included)

 

2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, Front, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, side 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, Rear, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, Front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, Front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, Front grille, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, Front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, Scion logo, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, FR-S logo, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Exterior, Boxer Engine Logo, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, on the track, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, on the track, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, on the track, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, on the track, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, on the track, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Scion FR-S, Interior, dashboard, Photography Courtesy of Toyota Motors 2013 Scion FR-S, Interior, seats and dash, Photography Courtesy of Toyota Motors 2013 Scion FR-S, Interior, center console, Photography Courtesy of Toyota Motors 2013 Scion FR-S, Interior, seats, Photography Courtesy of Toyota Motors 2013 Scion FR-S, 2.0L boxer engine, Photography Courtesy of Toyota Motors Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

 

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Vellum Venom: 1989 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme SL http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/vellum-venom-1989-oldsmobile-cutlass-supreme-sl/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/vellum-venom-1989-oldsmobile-cutlass-supreme-sl/#comments Wed, 25 Apr 2012 10:50:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=441522 A funny thing happened while reading the comments on Monday’s CTS-V coupe design study: I recalled that car design students are brands unto themselves, complete with perception gaps.  I was certainly a Yugo, no “gap” needed.  Others were solid BMWs, most of the time.  We had a few Ferraris, even if they performed like every other Corvette in class. And there’s the rub: just because a “Ferrari” makes something great looking, did they make the best concept in the class?  Is a flashy rendering really that great, if it will never make production without a truckload of compromise?

With that in mind, walk about 100 yards with me from our last case study. Behold: another radical GM coupe on the same lot.

As much as we all like the CTS-V coupe for merely existing, it is sorely lacking in ATD. (Attention To Detail)  If you want to rally around the General for making a coupe with brass balls and brilliant ATD, well, you could do much worse than the 1989 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.

 

Boring or beautiful? That’s really in the eye of the beholder, but the remarkable level of ATD is impossible to question. While the CTS-V’s headlights are fancy and cutting edge, these projectors were practically state of the art for the time.  They are so tiny, but they (barely?) pass Federal regulations!  The classic Oldsmobile twin grille is similarly small, but logically extends from the headlights.  And the hood?  That dent (and the ensuing insurance claim) is the only problem: look how few cutlines convey this shape!

Yes, this design is truly boring by today’s standards. There are far too many parallel and horizontal lines for people outside of the Bauhaus.  But look at the time and effort needed to get such harmony to market!  The hood stamping alone is a bean counter’s nightmare. And when a bean counter fails, a designer wins.  ATD FTW.

 

Obvious irony of the adjacent Buick notwithstanding, look at the Cutlass’ sleek and integrated design. The 1980s were big on minimalism–which is always popular in design circles–and the Cutlass does what we expect from this era: it makes sense from any angle. Every line sings in harmony with the other. And the ribbed bodyside molding (Detroit’s collective hat-tip to Mercedes) adds the necessary tension to keep the Cutlass from looking like an amorphous blob from the side. While it will never flex its muscles like a modern coupe (consuming whatever hormones they fed Barry Bonds), you can’t call this rig a fat and bloated beast.

More items to mention: the greenhouse is tall and free of black plastic triangles. Compared to the CTS coupe, wheel arches are in a far superior ratio to the rest of the body. Badging is present and obvious, but doesn’t demand your attention.  And those A-pillars are stupid, stupid thin: no way that bit of minimalism will ever come back!

And where are the door handles?  Their integration into the body is rather CTS-like in attitude and GM-game-changing in persona.  The execution is pure brilliance…but I am getting ahead of myself.

 

How I long for a day when new cars have badges that actually mean something. Perhaps a car with a real name doesn’t need huge badging, as name recognition alone demands a subtle, soft promotion! The hard sell belongs elsewhere, like on every non-Navigator Lincoln.

 

 

Heaven help me.  After seeing the truly awful execution of the CTS coupe’s door pulls, these B-pillar mounted levers are a sight for sore eyes. Sure, these things were magnets for scratching, but this design is packed with ATD.

Attention to detail is tough to execute, but the designers of the GM-10 platform certainly had a blank check to make this happen. With the CTS coupe in the same place?  Not likely.

Your opinion of their functionality is right no matter what, but the sheer number of brass balls needed to get this item green lighted into production is what we all need to appreciate.

 

OH MY DAMN…SON!

There’s an invisible C-pillar. There’s the right ratio of glass to body.  I’ve been in one of these coupes, and the visibility is outstanding.  If you hate spaceship-themed cars, I am cool with that.  But if you can’t appreciate the amount of ATD present between engineering and design departments in this photo, do me a favor and stop reading this blog post.

Seriously, everyone responsible for making this happen deserves a pat on the back.  And a free drink, on me.

What did it take to get this into production? Brass balls perhaps?  Yes and no.  GM probably wanted this quite badly after seeing the success of the original Mercury Sable.  But still, someone please bring this trend back: I want rearward visibility again!

Pretty please?

 

Is this still a boring car to you?  The sheer volume of line/crease integration presented here will always bowl me over.  My favorite element is the license plate: the Cutlass was seemingly designed around it!  This was no afterthought, and the final touch was tucking the plate under and behind all the supporting lines around it.  Modesty: it’s a good thing.

And while the tail lights are a minimalist tribute to Oldsmobiles from decades past, while the backup lights are almost invisible while remaining gigantic, this coupe is just as ballsy as that CTS-V coupe.

 

Matter of fact, even after 23 years on the road, this Cutlass is still ballsy, brilliantly executed and brand honest.

And though I wish the CTS-V Coupe had this Oldsmobile’s level of ATD, I know Cadillac’s “Art and Science” design will have plenty of followers in the year 2035. Flash sells, even if a design school “Ferrari” made it, hoping for the best come implementation time. Not that I know who made the CTS-V coupe, it just takes me back to certain evenings in the design studio.

Sometimes the memories are enough to get the mind wondering. And wandering.

Kudos to the GM-10 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupe: this vehicle embodies everything I like about GM when they want to make a statement, and have the balls to incorporate ATD in the final product.

 

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2012 Beijing Auto Show Preview: Ni Hao From China’s Capital http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/2012-beijing-auto-show-preview-ni-hao-from-chinas-capital/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/2012-beijing-auto-show-preview-ni-hao-from-chinas-capital/#comments Mon, 23 Apr 2012 12:30:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=441140

Our man Bertel Schmitt is en route, all set to cover the Beijing Auto Show for the next two days. By our count, there are over 70 debuts, with many of them being Chinese market products; concept cars, older vehicles re-issued and manufactured in Chinese JV factories and obscure concept cars. A complete list, with a brief description can be read at just-auto.com for anyone really interested in the Brilliance Jinbei Large Sea Lion Camper or the HaiMa Yao.

Audi: Audi has two big debuts. The RS Q3 muscle-crossover (which is not an obscure genre of pornography) and the A6L, a favorite of Chinese government officials.

BMW: A topless version of the i8 electric supercar will be revealed, but the big news is the 3-Series long wheelbase. These long wheelbase sedans are essential for China, where having a driver is a mark of status.

Brilliance: Chinese automaker Brilliance debuts their Jinbei Large Sea Lion Camper concept. I have no idea what this is, but it is already my pick of the show.

Citroën: The beautiful DS Numero 9 is unveiled.

Eterniti: Remember this? The mysterious SUV upstart will show off a production-ready product.

Fiat: The Dodge Dart based Viaggio will be revealed, while we anxiously await for a puerile, pun-infested headline from Jalopnik that will be borderline misogynistic.

Geely: Chinese automaker Geely will show a revised version of the Gleagle McCar, which sounds vaguely like a reference to McDonalds and the Ku Klux Klan.

Lamborghini: Lamborghini will debut their new SUV, said to be named the “Urus”. Observers are suggesting that this may set in motion the opening of the seven seals as prophesised in the Book of Revelations, bringing about an apocalyptic event said to occur at the Urus long lead launch at the Hotel-Du-Cap-Eden-Roc. Others say that it just means that Lamborghini is looking for more customers in emerging markets.

Mercedes-Benz: The CLA Concept Style Coupe will preview the look of a sub C-Class model, confusingly dubbed the CLA. The G63 and G65 AMG will also debut, just in time for Kim Kardashian to drive one on the newest season of her nebulous reality show.

Porsche: With 420 horsepower and a lowered stance, the Cayenne GTS really is just another minutely different special edition of an existing product.

SEAT: The Ibiza Cupra is a small, performance-oriented hatchback with a 178-horsepower 1.4L engine. It ticks all of our boxes and will never come to North America.

 

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Vellum Venom: 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/vellum-venom-2012-cadillac-cts-v-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/vellum-venom-2012-cadillac-cts-v-coupe/#comments Mon, 23 Apr 2012 10:49:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=441164 A few years after I left Detroit, doing my best to forget my heart-wrenching decision to give up on car design, a similarly disheartened automaker named Saturn made something called an Ion.  I saw it at the Houston Auto Show circa 2002.  Wounds from Detroit still fresh on my mind, I had absolutely no problem with the Saturn Ion shown behind a velvet rope.  I honestly thought it was a design study commissioned by Playskool, not a production ready vehicle from General Motors.

I mean, it was that awful. So imagine my surprise when the General’s peeps come up with something nearly as ugly…and this time it’s a Cadillac.

 

But this ain’t no Saturn Ion.  It’s better in many ways and even more of a shameful waste of sheet metal in others.  That said, the nose is pretty cool if you avoid the detailing.  Well, the grille is quite handsome, even if I wish the badge was about 30% smaller.

 

Do badges really need to dominate a design?  This part of the CTS-V Coupe does quite well by itself.  Nobody’s gonna mistake it for a Honda, so chill out already!

 

The cyborg headlights are cool enough to let me fixate on other horrible elements on this form, namely the dumpy afterthought headlight washers.  I expected flush mount/pop up cleaners for a car wearing the Cadillac name.  Because this brand used to represent the best of the best, not a cheaper alternative to an uber-zoot German machine. Did someone benchmark a BMW M-series outside of the Nurburgring?

 

I love power-dome hoods, except when I don’t.  This is a Caddy!  Make that bulge start at the grille and flare out from there!  The ghosts of a million pimp-daddy DeVilles demands it! This looks like a cheap afterthought!

 

The Terminator was a great movie.  So was the sequel.  But whatever the hell this is, it belongs in a movie, not on a Caddy.  Plus, the choice of black plastic makes it look like an extra in a low-budget B-movie.  Totally not Caddy worthy.

 

The details do blend a little better from a few feet away.  But still, Cadillac is trying too hard to shed an image that was actually quite appealing.  This is the Pontiac Grand Prix of luxury performance coupes.  Believe it or not, I meant that as a compliment.  If Pontiac still existed.

 

This is one of the worst fender-to-A-pillar-to-door parties ever.  While I adore the strong edge from the fender’s vent to the beginning of the A-pillar, the muscular wedge that goes to the door is too big…or the vent is too small.  Not to mention the character line from the hood to the bottom of the A-pillar feels like an afterthought.

M.C. Escher, eat your heart out.

 

I despised this badge when it first hit the scene. That awful color palette in jarring, rhombus-like containers isn’t befitting of a top dollar, world-beating, Grand Tourer.  I admit it has aged well, so maybe branding conquers all.

 

Deplorable fitment aside, the sheer number of parts making this door handle is depressing.  The almost square thing above the door release is the biggest offender. It shouldn’t exist: why not make it integral to the rest of the quarter panel’s sheet metal? Inexcusable for a Cadillac and just un-frickin-believable in general.

 

 

But at least the quarter window is mighty faaaast!  The CTS-V coupe is certainly a…coupe!

 

Or is it a hatchback?  I wonder if the late-70s Buick Century Aero Coupe was ever considered during the CTS coupe’s initial renderings. Nah, that Buick was never this contrived by design. Not so with the Caddy, it’s obviously suffering from ADHD.

Details aside, this is pure BUFFALO BUTT. And that’s never pretty.

 

This is what happens when an AMC AMX gets beaten by Pablo Picasso’s Ugly Stick.

Marinate on that.

 

Let’s be clear, Cubism is a wonderful thing.  But this monstrosity of a machine is not. If your tail light extends to the rear glass, you made a crime against the natural order of luxury-performance vehicles. Epic fail.

 

The sheer volume of non-functional red CHMSL plastic shown makes me choke on my morning coffee.  Combine it with the fact that this part will turn chalky after a few years of buffing and oxidation, and you have a shameful interpretation of Cadillac style. Don’t believe me? Find a 1999 Mustang that’s had a less-than-charmed life and tell me how that CHMSL looks.

 

I will admit this is a seriously cool angle.  But I only like the decklid when you crop out the majority of bulk, or every line (cough, taillights) that fights the pointy beak presented here.

Then again, is a pointy posterior a good thing? Maybe someone in Detroit has a thing for the Porsche 928 in reverse.

 

The central exhausts are wicked cool, the round forms play well with the strong centralized character line.  Too bad the CTS-V Coupe’s ass is too tall and massive, you must squat down to actually appreciate this.

 

More shameful cheapness here.  Note to Cadillac: if you want an invite to AMG and M’s house parties, don’t break the ice with a Tupperware party at your crib.  You’ll get the Corvette, muscle car and LSX-FTW loyalists instead. Which isn’t a bad thing…as those peeps do buy cars.

Their money is still green!

 

On to some abhorrent detailing: the character line from the quarter window needs more definition, and more depth. This gives the illusion that the CTS-V isn’t as tall as a CUV, and has the fender flares of a car worthy of such impressive underpinnings. Instead we get bulk and flab. How I miss the days of fuselage inspired Cadillac quarter panels!

 

 

Next abhorrent detail: if you have to smear a round gas cap over an obscure fender slope, your design needs a re-think.  Or maybe I need some slimy, sloppy eggs to go with the coffee I recently choked on.

 

 

I know, I know…I already complained about the door handle. But look at how the B-pillar mates with the rest of the design!  Can someone trim the door to match this absolutely crucial hard point on the body?  How much is this car again?

Long live the Ghost of the Saturn Ion. On to you, Best and Brightest.

 

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Maserati Builds Another Alfa Romeo Sports Car http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/maserati-builds-another-alfa-romeo-sports-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/maserati-builds-another-alfa-romeo-sports-car/#comments Fri, 13 Apr 2012 18:19:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=439831

Maserati will be lending a hand to baby bro Alfa Romeo when the brand launches its 4C sports car in 2013. Having previously been tasked with production of the ultra-low volume 8C, Maserati will handle the annual assembly of the 2,500 4C coupes, that will supposedly serve as a halo for Alfa’s U.S. re-launch (stop me if you’ve heard this one before).

Automotive News reports that the 4C will retail for 50,000 euro, or roughly $66,000 on the continent. A U.S. price point hasn’t been decided on. The 4C is expected to weigh a mere 1873 lbs, and use a 4 cylinder turbocharged motor displacing 1.8L with direct injection. The 8C used a 4.7L Maserati V8. 1000 units, split evenly between a coupe and a roadster version, were built from 2007 to 2007. A small number were sent to the United States, but they were sold through Ferrari and Maserati outlets, price between $250,000-$300,000.

 

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Dealers Begin Subaru BRZ Price Gouging http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/dealers-begin-subaru-brz-price-gouging/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/dealers-begin-subaru-brz-price-gouging/#comments Thu, 12 Apr 2012 15:22:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=439567

Well, we knew it would happen. Some dealers are already starting to ask for markups on the Subaru BRZ. And some people are dumb enough to pay them.

According to an email received by Inside Line, a dealer is asking for a $5,000 “non-negotiable” markup on their BRZs. Apparently, their allocation is small (gee, wonder why!) and many of the cars have been pre-ordered. Hopefully, nobody is dumb enough to indulge this dealer. These cars are going to be readily available in a few months, once all the early adopters have flooded the forums with endless shots of stock BRZs and poorly photographed Monroney stickers. I wonder how Scion dealers will get around their “no haggle” pricing policy? Lots of dealer accessories and rust proofing, no doubt.

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Review: 2012 BMW 650i Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/review-2012-bmw-650i-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/review-2012-bmw-650i-coupe/#comments Thu, 08 Mar 2012 16:25:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=433461

In an unusual twist, BMW decided to release the redesigned 650i coupé after the drop-top version we snagged last November. The reason for the coupé’s late arrival is simple; BMW tells us it accounts for only about 30% of 6-series sales. Two-door luxury cars usually drive better than their chop-top sisters, but if you have the cash to burn and care about driving, should you still go topless?

Like it’s convertible twin, the 650i coupé has lost the “Bangle-butt” the previous generation wore , opting for clean, simple lines, a resurrection of chrome accents and more LEDs than the Home Depot lighting isle. While the convertible strikes it’s best poses topless (due to the awkward “buttressed” look caused by the vertical rear window) the coupé looks lean and mean from every angle. Like the 6-series convertible, the 650i coupé can be had with LED headlamps. While they are not notably “better” than HIDs, they sound much cooler when you tell your friends.

BMW may not have Jaguar’s way with style, but the 650′s cabin is exquisitely assembled. From the stitched leather dash (optional, but every 6-series on the lot at my local dealer was so equipped), to the perfect wood trim,  the attention to detail is second to none. Gone are the awkward oval shapes from the 2010 650i, and in their place is a tall dashboard dominated by the ginormous, high-resolution, 10.2-inch, widescreen iDrive display. Jumping up from the 640i to the 650i brings BMW’s 24-way front seats (20 of the ways are powered and the last four are manual headrest adjustments) instead of the plebeian 10-way variety. This upgrade also opens the door to ventilated anti-fatigue thrones which use air bladders to cut road-trip butt-fatigue. While they work as advertised, the feeling of having your backside slowly groped takes some getting used to. Should faux-suede and snazzier leather be your thing, BMW would be happy to slather the headliner in acres of Alcantara and broaden your hide palate with an additional 5 colors for the princely sum of $7,700.

iDrive has come a long way since it’s introduction, and while it can still be unintuitive and overly complicated at times, it is quite simply the ultimate in-car attraction for my inner nerd. Rather than taking Jaguar’s performance-minimalism attitude to technology, the 6-series can be had with everything from radar cruise control, lane departure warning, self-parking and pre-collision warning systems that are becoming commonplace to the truly unique full-color heads up display and FLIR (Forward Looking InfraRed) camera system with pedestrian detection. Unlike Volvo’s system that will stop the car to prevent an impact, the 650i will let you know pedestrians are in the roadway, but it’s up to you to act on the information. I’m still unsure whether I’d rather my car took action to prevent a collision without telling me beforehand, or if I’d like my car to tell me but not take any other action at all. Sound off in the comment section and let us know what you think.

Our 650 tester was equipped with the optional iPhone dock (available for the iPhone 4, 4S and select Blackberry devices) which charges the iPhone as well as allowing an all-new feature to be used: Apple’s “video out”. While this feature is in its infancy, it may allow greater functionality in the future and here’s why: the interface you see in iDrive while in this mode is actually generated by your iPhone, not the car. Sorry Droid fans, because just about every Droid phone is different BMW doesn’t make a dock for your smartphone right now. At the moment while the dock is nice it doesn’t allow the use of your iPhone’s case and instrument cluster display isn’t capable of displaying track and playlist information while in this mode. Checkout the video link below to see “video out”  in action.

Click here to view the embedded video.

At 400HP and 450 lb-ft, the 650i’s new 4.4L twin-turbo engine is up 40HP and 90 lb-ft compared to the outgoing 4.8L naturally aspirated engine from last year. Thanks to the hairdryers, torque gets to the boil by 1,750 RPM and stays on strong all the way to 4500 RPM, which is quite a departure from both the previous 650i and the Jaguar XK8 and their peaky power curves. The benefit of the broad powerband and all-new 8-speed ZF automatic is obvious when you take a look at the 0-60 time, which we clocked at 4.23 seconds. This is not only 0.46 seconds faster than the convertible 650i we tested (it had skinnier tires), but also notably faster than the lighter XK8 and about equal to the 510HP XKR (wheel spin is the XKR’s enemy). The new 6 is one seriously fast beast. The only downside to the turbo charged nature of the 650i seems to be the exhaust note, the 650i just doesn’t sound as nice as the Jag’s 5.0L V8. While the new Jaguar XKR-S and BMW M6 will duke out the high-end of the turbo vs supercharger war with their 550 and 560 horsepower engines, the real performance secret is the 650i AWD which ran to 60 in 4.22 seconds due to the enhanced grip, and will post similar numbers rain or shine with very little drama. The M6 on the other hand is likely to behave similarly to the XKR-S (a review of which will be posted in the coming weeks) with 3.8-3.9 second runs to 60 amid severe traction control intervention and only on perfect road surfaces.

The 650i is a heavy car at 4,233lbs and thanks to the electric power steering, it feels like it on the twisties. While not as numb as Mercedes’ CL550 4Matic, the XK8 is by far the driver’s car, due as much to its 500lb lower curb weight as its hydraulic power steering. Despite the lack of feel, the 650i handles very well and is extremely confident in the corners. Performance-enhancing options include a “rear tire bump” from the stock 245-width rubber to 275s, an upgrade worth getting if you’re buying the RWD 650i as the extra rubber helps apply the power. Regardless of the rear tire sizing, the fronts stay 245s and as a result the 650i can occasionally feels like it’s heading for the bushes when pushed hard. The 8-speed transmission is certainly geared more toward economy than sport and the feeling becomes obvious when you slip behind the wheel of an XK with ZF’s 6-speed. Even in sport mode where the 8-speed all but locks out gears 7 and 8, the older 6-speed is far more eager to do your bidding, and Jaguar tunes the ZF transmission for fast, crisp shifts.

Our 650i started with a “reasonable” $83,000 base MSRP (the XK8 starts at $84,500 and the CL at $114,100) to which was added the following: a no-charge “fine line oak” trim, $750 cold weather package (heated seats and steering wheel), $2,900 full-LED package with 20″ wheels, $3,700 “driver assistance” package (heads-up display, blind spot warning, all-around-view cameras, self parking, and lane departure warning), $5,500 Bang & Olufsen sound system (with iPod/USB adapter and satellite radio), $2,600 night vision, $1,750 four-wheel active steering and $1,500 for the leather dashboard. After options, our total out-the-door MSRP ballooned to an eye-popping $102,845. It’s good to be king. While it’s not possible to comparably equip an XK8 due to the lack of gadgetry, de-contenting the 650i reveals a pricing structure roughly in-line with the Jag, and considerably less than the Mercedes CL550 we looked at last September.

It seems that every review of the 6-series I have read bemoans the ever-increasing weight and dimensions of BMW’s premium two-door. This reviewer however sees absolutely no problem with the portly nature of the 6-series. The two-ton-plus curb weight and long wheelbase give the 6-series a compliant ride on even the most broken pavement and the active suspension does an admirable job of adjusting the damping enough for some tail-wagging fun if required. Most importantly however; with the twin-turbo fire-breather under the hood, this nearly 4,300lb whale can dance. For the past 20 years BMW has been gradually becoming the new Mercedes, a transition which I applaud. With enough gadgets to keep Bill Gates happy and an interior that is as perfect as anything this side of Aston Martin, the 650i may just be the ultimate luxury GT, except I would never buy it. Why? Because BMW makes an AWD drop-top 650i.

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

Specifications as tested

0-30: 1.81 Seconds

0-60: 4.23 Seconds

0-100: 10.56 Seconds

1/4 mile: 12.7 Seconds @ 110.2MPH

2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, shifter, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, front, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, side, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, LED headlamps, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, LED headlamps, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, LED foglamps, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, side, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, side, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, rear, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, gauges, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, gauges, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, safety systems, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, Bang & Olufsen speakers, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Engine, 4.4L twin-turbo V8, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Engine, 4.4L twin-turbo V8, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Engine, 4.4L twin-turbo V8, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Engine, intercooler, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, gauges, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, panoramic cameras, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, front cameras, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, iDrive apps, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, iDrive apps, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, iDrive apps, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, media dock, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, media dock, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, iDrive controller, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, center console, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, steering wheel controls, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, steering wheel controls, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Trunk, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Engine, 4.4L twin-turbo V8, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Engine, 4.4L twin-turbo V8, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, Bang & Olufsen speakers, Photography by Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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