The Truth About Cars » german car http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 02 Aug 2014 03:20:50 +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 » german car http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Mercedes-Benz Leaks First S-Class Picture http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/mercedes-benz-leaks-first-s-class-picture/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/mercedes-benz-leaks-first-s-class-picture/#comments Wed, 01 May 2013 12:54:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=486932 Apparently somebody “accidentally” uploaded this photo to Mercedes-Benz’s Austrian website. In this day and age of the internet, “leaks” are always suspect, but the next S-Class was slated to be introduced in two weeks time anyways. Here it is in all its glory. Explosive refrigerant not shown, of course.

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Apparently somebody “accidentally” uploaded this photo to Mercedes-Benz’s Austrian website. In this day and age of the internet, “leaks” are always suspect, but the next S-Class was slated to be introduced in two weeks time anyways. Here it is in all its glory. Explosive refrigerant not shown, of course.

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Capsule Review: 2013 Porsche Panamera GTS http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/465054/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/465054/#comments Fri, 26 Oct 2012 14:52:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=465054 Twenty years ago, the first Porsche limousine rolled off the assembly line at Stuttgart; four doors, 8 cylinders, wide fenders, big brakes and a period correct Alpine stereo system. It was built in small quantities, by hand. To those who knew, it was distinguishable at a distance, but to the man on the street, it was invisible. […]

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Twenty years ago, the first Porsche limousine rolled off the assembly line at Stuttgart; four doors, 8 cylinders, wide fenders, big brakes and a period correct Alpine stereo system. It was built in small quantities, by hand. To those who knew, it was distinguishable at a distance, but to the man on the street, it was invisible. Truly a car for the one percent – in terms of both means and taste.

You won’t find it in any of the Porsche catalogs of the era. It was called the Mercedes-Benz 500E. And it wasn’t an AMG anything. Back then, AMG was an independently-owned speed shop, a Roush Performance with a stern accent.

Today, AMG has ceased to be a speed shop. It’s not even really the zenith of Mercedes-Benz performance cars; it is now another trim level of SUV for affluent mothers. You’ll find more C63s parked outside beauty salons than at Mosport. They are bought not for their performance characteristics, but simply because it is the most expensive trim level of a given model line, and the AMG badge lets everyone know that. The badge matters now.

A car like the original W124 500E would be dead on arrival today. In an era of conspicious consumption, a $160,000 Porsche-engineered sedan that’s barely distinguishable from an E550 has a slightly worse chance of success than an anti-global warming film does at the Oscars. Enter the Panamera. It is a Porsche, not a Mercedes. If we’re being diplomatic, it is distinct looking, and is designed expressly to inform everyone that you have arrived. One look at the old 500E and the new Panamera is strong evidence that vehicular vulgarity has risen in proportion to income inequality.

Once you’re inside the Panamera, the ungainly looks become less of a concern. The interior is a cavalcade of buttons that overwhelms at first, but their functionality and ease of use beats the knob-and-touchscreen systems that Mercedes et al now employ. Nobody would ever accuse to Panamera’s interior of being simple, but like that of the W124, it is elegant. The view out of the hood is decidedly old school as well; you can actually see over the hood, so that the corners of the fenders are visible. Most modern cars seem to have a hood that disappears off the metaphorical cliff. This little touch makes the 16 foot long Panamera markedly easier to maneuver in urban traffic, a small benefit that isn’t readily apparent but goes a long way with its intended client base of upper class working stiffs who need to weave their way in and out of construction zones and clogged lanes.

The blogger brigade that breathlessly reported on this car’s debut last year was perhaps over-eager to use Porsche’s own PR copy describing this car as some sort of track ready Panamera. Let’s get serious. It’s got 30 horsepower more than the standard Panamera 4S, as well as suspension and brake bits from the Turbo, but the only time that one of these will see track time is at a Porsche-sponsored lapping day for owners. The lawyers, accountants and finance executives mentioned above don’t usually have the time or inclination for an HPDE day. That doesn’t mean they can’t get their kicks elsewhere.

Porsche probably knows this, and I’d bet that’s why the  GTS excels at the Stop Light Grand Prix.  Between the all-wheel drive system and the 7-Speed PDK gearbox, there is no way you will lose any sort of unsanctioned speed contest to anything short of a Nissan GT-R. The GTS posts an identical 0-30 time (1.4 seconds) to the Panamera Turbo S, despite a 120 horsepower deficit. As the speeds increase, a gap develops, but when will you find an open quarter-mile in the financial district? Rest assured that the view below is what every other driver will be seeing of you.

I’m not philosophically opposed to this car like certain brand purists are, but one has to wonder: what’s the point of the Panamera? The argument is this: Car companies exist to make a profit, and Porsche needs to diversify beyond impractical sports cars to ensure its survival in the future. A sedan is a natural extension of the brand after the Cayenne, and a good way to use up capacity at the Leipzig plant.

But I don’t want my Porsches to be practical, nor do I want my luxury sedans to feel like a Porsche. A hard ride and a noisy exhaust in a 911 are undeniable facts of life. In this car, they are a simulacrum, a consolation prize given to you by Porsche because your wife wouldn’t let you by a 911.

And that’s ultimately what’s wrong with this car; it is neither fish nor fowl. It is dynamically brilliant but forever a mutt, stuck somewhere between supercar and sedan, with the worst attributes of both. If you want to make a statement, you can buy the Jaguar XJ, which can be had with a stupendously powerful V8 engine, in your choice of two wheelbases and multiple equipment configurations. It makes the same kind of statement as the Panamera, but it’s infinitely more elegant. If you want something more German, than the Audi A8 is peerless and has yet to suffer from the same kind of terminal prole drift as the S-Class or the 7-Series.

But if you really must have the Porsche — if you really must have a Porsche sedan — you can buy a 500E and have enough left over for something air-cooled. Both of those choices have more claim to Stuttgart than the Panamera, and they won’t make you look like a hen-pecked corporate servant either.

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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 […]

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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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Volkswagen Passat Sales Up 25,000 Percent During VW’s Best Year Since 1973 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/volkswagen-passat-sales-up-25000-percent-during-vws-best-year-since-1973/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/volkswagen-passat-sales-up-25000-percent-during-vws-best-year-since-1973/#comments Thu, 05 Jul 2012 18:08:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=451435 Volkswagen is on track to have their best year in America since 1973 – and all it took was a revamped product lineup that got largely negative reviews from the automotive press. Sales for the first half of 2012 are up 35 percent versus the same time-frame in 2011. June sales were up 34 percent […]

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Volkswagen is on track to have their best year in America since 1973 – and all it took was a revamped product lineup that got largely negative reviews from the automotive press.

Sales for the first half of 2012 are up 35 percent versus the same time-frame in 2011. June sales were up 34 percent versus 12 months ago. Sales of the Passat are at an all-time high, with the TDI accounting for 21 percent of the mix. Dealers apparently can’t get enough TDIs to fill demand, and VW is hoping to bring more of the engines from their plant in Poland to the Chattanooga, Tennessee factory. Year to date, sales of the Passat are up nearly 25,000% according to independent analyst Timothy Cain. Sales of the Jetta are also strong, capturing the 14th best-selling car spot in America so far, ahead of the Kia Optima and Chrysler 200. So much for being one of the biggest flops of 2011.

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Mercedes-Benz GL63 Fires Opening Salvo In The Suburban Status War http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/mercedes-benz-gl63-fires-opening-salvo-in-the-suburban-status-war/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/mercedes-benz-gl63-fires-opening-salvo-in-the-suburban-status-war/#comments Thu, 31 May 2012 13:55:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=446987 Any notion that AMG and M cars have become merely totems of wealth for the uninformed has just been further cast in stone, with the introduction of the Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG. How is this any different from the ML63, G63 or R63 AMG crossovers/SUVs? It’s not. But the GL lineup, until now, lacked an AMG […]

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Any notion that AMG and M cars have become merely totems of wealth for the uninformed has just been further cast in stone, with the introduction of the Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG.

How is this any different from the ML63, G63 or R63 AMG crossovers/SUVs? It’s not. But the GL lineup, until now, lacked an AMG version, topping out with the GL550. The AMG two-box lineup exists more as fiduciary summit for wealthy MB customers looking for the most expensive vehicle in the range, rather than for performance-minded SUV or crossover buyers. Now that the GL63 is here, we just have further confirmation of that.

Underneath the skin, the GL63 gets the ubiquitous 5.5L AMG twin-turbo V8 with 550 horsepower and 560 lb-ft of torque. Notably, the GL63 looks less belligerent than the G63 or ML63, to the point where it apes the very stealthy R63 AMG pseudo-van. On the other hand, it looks brawny enough for suburban rubes to pony up the estimated six-figure price tag to buy this thing.

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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 […]

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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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Review: BMW 335i 6MT Sport Line http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/review-bmw-335i-6mt-sport-line/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/review-bmw-335i-6mt-sport-line/#comments Sun, 29 Apr 2012 21:45:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=442004 Last month we reviewed the 2012 BMW 328i and found it less than ultimate as driving machines go. But the reviewed car was a “Luxury Line” sedan with an automatic transmission. For driving enthusiasts, BMW offers the new F30 with different options, among them a larger engine, a six-speed manual transmission, a “Sport Line” trim […]

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Last month we reviewed the 2012 BMW 328i and found it less than ultimate as driving machines go. But the reviewed car was a “Luxury Line” sedan with an automatic transmission. For driving enthusiasts, BMW offers the new F30 with different options, among them a larger engine, a six-speed manual transmission, a “Sport Line” trim level, adaptive dampers, and staggered 19-inch summer tires. Check all of these boxes, and the next M3 might seem superfluous. Or not.

Red paint, blacked-out trim, and larger, five-spoke alloys dependably make a car appear sportier. It is somewhat shocking that 19-inch wheels now seem the appropriate size, aesthetically, for a 3-Series. Shod with them, the new car appears as compact as 3s used to be. The previous generation E90 looked good with mere 18s. The next M3 will likely wear dubs. Ever since reading a reader comment on Sajeev’s design critique, I cannot stop noticing the cut line at the leading edge of the hood. BMW’s previous practice of extending the hood all the way to the grille and headlights yielded a much cleaner nose.

Inside, the Sport Line is available with black, gray, or red seats, aluminum or black trim, and coral (more red) or black accents. Whoever ordered the press car went with the most conservative options, so we have classic black leather (that doesn’t look or feel much different from the standard leatherette) with bright red stitching to lend some visual interest. The aluminum trim on the center console was already knicked in a couple of places, suggesting either that it won’t hold up well or that journalists badly abuse the machinery. The Sport Line includes front bucket seats with bolsters that are both larger and (unlike on the current F10 5-Series) power-adjustable. For anyone who’ll be taking turns at speed, these are a must-have. As in the 328i, both the rear seat and trunk are much roomier than in past 3s. For those willing to forego these for a smaller, lighter, more agile car, it’s time for a four-door 1-Series.

Despite kicking out 60 more horsepower than the 328i’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four, the 335i’s 300-horsepower turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six does not feel much stronger. BMW’s official test track numbers back up this impression. Pair both engines with a manual transmission, and the six is only 0.3 seconds quicker to sixty, 5.4 vs. 5.7. What gives? Through the mid-range the 50-percent-larger engine is only about 15 percent more powerful, and this is partially offset by an additional 165 pounds of mass. Peak torque is 300 pound-feet with the six, 260 with the four. Only once over 5,000 rpm is the big engine significantly more powerful. Audi’s supercharged “3.0T” feels torquier. It’s time for a new BMW six that’s as power dense as the new four.

The six of course sounds smoother, but its soundtrack is all exhaust (no whirring mechanical bits) and almost generic. BMW has offered sweeter-sounding sixes in the past. When cruising the exhaust drones a bit much. The four’s much more varied repertoire is arguably inappropriate for a $40,000+ car, but is also more interesting.

The EPA ratings suggest that the six isn’t significantly less efficient than the four. Figures for the latter paired with the automatic transmission have been revised downward from 24 city, 36 highway to 23/33. The six with the same transmission? Also 23/33. And the heavier, all-wheel-drive 528i xDrive…would you believe 22/32? Me neither. Something ain’t right. I suspect only one powertrain was retested. You take a hit with the manual transmission. In the 335i it’s rated 20 city, 30 highway. In my driving, the trip computer reported numbers from five to ten miles-per-gallon lower with the 335i 6MT than with the 328i 8AT. While I was able to “Eco Pro” the latter over 40, it proved a challenge to nudge the former over 30. In typical suburban driving, the trip computer reported low-to-mid 20s in the 335i and high 20s to low 30s in the 328i. The harder you are on the gas, the smaller the difference between the two. Count on a sizeable difference on the highway with the manual transmission: it has a shorter top gear (0.85 vs. 0.67) AND a shorter final drive ratio (3.23 vs. 3.15).

Given the manual’s lesser efficiency and equal purchase price, is there a point to it? If you have to ask this question, then no, there isn’t. (I only asked it out of journalistic obligation.) My only issue with the manual other than the fuel economy hit is that second gear can be difficult to find on a quick downshift, a byproduct of locating the lockout-free reverse to the left of first.

With the Sport Line’s sport suspension and the “M Adaptive Suspension” set to “Sport”, the new 3 does feel tighter than the Luxury Line car, but still looser than I’ve come to expect from a BMW. In turns, especially those with imperfect pavement or where you’re being a little too aggressive with the accelerator, the rear end can bobble about a bit. Somehow the car’s line isn’t disturbed, only the driver’s confidence – and not by much. The bond with the F30 isn’t as immediate as with past 3s, but one learns that, when driven with a modicum of sanity, the 335i will go precisely where you want it to go. The misbehavior some people (who clearly don’t know what they’re talking about) refer to as ”snap oversteer”? There’s none of that. Get on the go pedal in a turn and the rear end slides out progressively. Left entirely on, the stability control will cut in too soon. There’s no need to deactivate it; the Sport+ setting puts the threshold about where it ought to be. The electric power steering is no more communicative here than in other recent BMWs. Perhaps BMW reasons that, since the car virtually reads your mind, there’s no need for it to converse. I’m not sure I’d drive the 335i better with more communicative steering, but I would enjoy the experience more. EPS notwithstanding, the 335i becomes enjoyable if you can really push it, the problem being that this is rarely a legal possibility in populated areas. During my week with the 335i I constantly felt like I had to back off just as the fun was starting. I didn’t drive the 328i and 335i with the same suspension, but as best as I can tell, the car feels heavier and less agile with the six, a typical consequence of adding 165 pounds over the front wheels.

One option not on the tested car: the $300 “variable sport steering.” This isn’t the complex active steering offered in the previous 3-Steries. Instead, the steering ratio quickens more rapidly as the wheel is turned. On center, the standard steering is 15:1, the VSS 14.5:1. By the time the wheel has been turned 100 degrees (roughly the amount needed to turn at a typical intersection) the standard steering has quickened to 10.1:1, but the VSS has reduced to an ultra-quick 7.7:1. Intrigued, I dropped by a dealer to sample a car with this option. As the specs suggest, the optional system doesn’t feel much different on-center or in medium-to-large radius curves. Only in tight curves does the steering feel noticeably different, and even then, it’s only really apparent after hopping back into the car without it. The largest difference will be felt in parking lots, where fewer turns are needed to maneuver into a space. Unlike with active steering, the character of the car isn’t dramatically affected. But since VSS is only another $300, I’d opt for it.

The upside of the F30’s less sporty sport suspension? The car rides more smoothly than previous sport-suspension equipped 3ers. I could live with the suspension set to “Sport” all the time, a good thing, as the car can bounce about far too much when set to “Comfort.” (Yes, you’ll need to switch it every time you start the car.) Given the underdamped nature of the default setting, the Sport Line’s standard suspension is probably the way to go. This will also save you $900. To save another $900, stick with the Sport Line’s standard 18-inch wheels. They look and handle about as good and ride significantly better. The 19s don’t ride harshly much of the time, but hit even a small pothole and it sounds like you’ve taken out a wheel. Non-run-flat tires would likely do better, but BMW does not offer them.

Equipped with most but not all options, the tested 335i lists for $55,745. Seem like a lot for a compact sport sedan? As just noted, you can save $1,800 by doing without the 19s and adaptive dampers. If you can live without nav and a head-up display (which would be more useful if it included a tach), then you’ll remove another $2,550. Keep cutting the non-essentials, add the optional steering, and you’ll arrive at a mere $47,195.

Still too steep for a vinyl-upholstered compact sedan? Well, there’s a good way to save another $3,700. The 328i is nearly as quick, is considerably more fuel efficient (despite similar EPA ratings), and handles better. Overall, even with the various sport options the new 3-Series feels a little soft and uninvolving for my taste. BMW focused on providing a very well-rounded car, and clearly left room for a future “is” or “M Sport.” Among the current offerings, the 328i Sport Line is the one to get.

BMW provided the tested car with insurance and a tank of gas. Erhard BMW of Farmington Hills, MI, provided the car with VSS.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online source of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.

335i engine, photo courtesy Michael Karesh 335i front quarter, photo courtesy Michael Karesh 335i front, photo courtesy Michael Karesh 335i instrument panel, photo courtesy Michael Karesh 335i interior, photo courtesy Michael Karesh 335i rear quarter, photo courtesy Michael Karesh 335i side, photo courtesy Michael Karesh Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Audi RS Q3 Is Macan The Baby Porsche SUV Redundant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/audi-q3-rs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/audi-q3-rs/#comments Thu, 19 Apr 2012 14:36:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=440846 What could be more China-centric than a high-performance Audi RS Q3 concept? Not much. The RS Q3 may have an awkward name, but the TT-RS drivetrain (turbocharged 2.5L 5-cylinder, 360 horsepower and a DSG gearbox) should liven things up for Audi’s baby SUV. 60 mph comes up in 5.2 seconds, and if you look closely, […]

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What could be more China-centric than a high-performance Audi RS Q3 concept? Not much.

The RS Q3 may have an awkward name, but the TT-RS drivetrain (turbocharged 2.5L 5-cylinder, 360 horsepower and a DSG gearbox) should liven things up for Audi’s baby SUV. 60 mph comes up in 5.2 seconds, and if you look closely, you’ll see that the tachometer has Chinese characters rather than numbers.

Although it’s officially a concept designed for Audi’s stand at the Beijing Auto Show, there’s no reason it couldn’t be produced. It almost makes the Porsche Macan seem even more redundant.

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Audi RS Q3 Concept. Photo courtesy Audi. Audi-Q3-RS-front Audi-Q3-RS-rear Audi-Q3-RS-dashboard Audi-Q3-RS-seats

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Audi Designs Special “Extra Loud” Horns For Indian Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/audi-designs-special-extra-loud-horns-for-indian-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/audi-designs-special-extra-loud-horns-for-indian-market/#comments Tue, 27 Mar 2012 18:22:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=436707 Horns are a fixture of Indian driving. Rather than being used to signal anger like in the United States, horns are used for almost everything on Indian roads – one study found that major intersections in Calcutta have one horn honk every three seconds. Just like Audi’s Chinese cars come with longer wheelbases, Indian Audis […]

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Horns are a fixture of Indian driving. Rather than being used to signal anger like in the United States, horns are used for almost everything on Indian roads – one study found that major intersections in Calcutta have one horn honk every three seconds.

Just like Audi’s Chinese cars come with longer wheelbases, Indian Audis have loud horns. Really loud horns. Audi India head Michael Perschke told a conference of luxury retailers that the company actually designs louder horns for the Indian market. According to a report in The Globe and Mail

“Obviously for India, the horn is a category in itself,” he told the Indian financial newspaper Mint. “You take a European horn and it will be gone in a week or two. With the amount of honking in Mumbai, we do on a daily basis what an average German does on an annual basis.”

Perschke said that the horns are blown continuously for two weeks to test their strength. India supposedly has decibel level laws design to eliminate this problem, but like many other regulations in the country, they are flouted with little regard for the law. Traffic wardens and other residents of major cities are experiencing a hearing-loss epidemic, which is being blamed partially on the sheer noise of motor vehicles.  Taking a cue from Chinese vehicles, Audi also said that their future Indian products will focus more on rear-seat comfort, since most well-to-do Indians have a driver.

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BMW X1 Finally Coming To United States In “Summer 2012″ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/bmw-x1-finally-coming-to-united-states-in-summer-2012/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/bmw-x1-finally-coming-to-united-states-in-summer-2012/#comments Sun, 25 Mar 2012 17:20:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=436432 The BMW X1′s launch in the United States was “postponed indefinitely” due to high demand in Europe, but now, BMW has inadvertently confirmed a launch date for the United States. BMW’s New York Auto Show press release states that the car “…will be available in U.S. showrooms in summer 2012.” No specs have been announced, but in […]

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The BMW X1′s launch in the United States was “postponed indefinitely” due to high demand in Europe, but now, BMW has inadvertently confirmed a launch date for the United States.

BMW’s New York Auto Show press release states that the car “…will be available in U.S. showrooms in summer 2012.” No specs have been announced, but in Canada, the X1 is available with the 240 horsepower turbo 4-cylinder and 8-speed automatic like the F30 BMW 328i. And yes, a review is in the works, for all you Americans wondering about BMW’s baby crossover.

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2013 Audi A3 To Only Come In Sedan Form For U.S Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/2013-audi-a3-to-only-come-in-sedan-form-for-u-s-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/2013-audi-a3-to-only-come-in-sedan-form-for-u-s-market/#comments Thu, 08 Mar 2012 19:57:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=434393 “We decided not to take it,” said Audi of America CEO Johan de Nysschen, regarding the Audi A3 hatchback. The Detroit Bureau quotes Audi’s head man in the USA stating that not only will we not get an A3 hatch, the sedan version won’t share a single body panel with the Euro two-box version. Our […]

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“We decided not to take it,” said Audi of America CEO Johan de Nysschen, regarding the Audi A3 hatchback. The Detroit Bureau quotes Audi’s head man in the USA stating that not only will we not get an A3 hatch, the sedan version won’t share a single body panel with the Euro two-box version.

Our A3 will likely be along the lines of the B5 A4, which arguably pulled Audi out of the “unintended acceleration” era and into the “coveted aspirational brand” phase in America. de Nysschen thinks that sales of the A3 will triple, to 30,000 annually, once the sedan launches. If you must have a hatchback, the current model will be in production till 2013. World markets will supposedly get the A3 sedan as well now that everything has been finalized. But wagon fans in the U.S. are out of luck once again.

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Audi A3 e-Tron Gets U.S. Pilot Program – But You Can’t Sign Up http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/audi-a3-e-tron-gets-u-s-pilot-program-but-you-cant-sign-up/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/audi-a3-e-tron-gets-u-s-pilot-program-but-you-cant-sign-up/#comments Thu, 01 Mar 2012 20:11:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=433419 Audi fanboys who want emissions-free motoring will be sorely disappointed; the pilot program to try out an A3 E-Tron, will be limited to Audi personnel in Denver, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and San Francisco. For between 12 and 18 months, employees will evaluate the A3 e-tron, before an electric A3, based on the next-generation car, debuts in […]

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Audi fanboys who want emissions-free motoring will be sorely disappointed; the pilot program to try out an A3 E-Tron, will be limited to Audi personnel in Denver, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and San Francisco.

For between 12 and 18 months, employees will evaluate the A3 e-tron, before an electric A3, based on the next-generation car, debuts in 2014. Unlike BMW and Mini, customers won’t be providing data to Audi to help develop the car, like with the test programs involving the Mini E and BMW 1ActiveE.

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BMW Planning “Neuer Elektro-Van” Prius V Competitor http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/bmw-planning-neuer-elektro-van-prius-v-competitor/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/bmw-planning-neuer-elektro-van-prius-v-competitor/#comments Fri, 27 Jan 2012 19:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=428305 BMW is said to be planning a new minivan-esque competitor to the Toyota Prius V, dubbed the i5. We like the name given to it in the original Autobild story; Neuer Elektro-Van. Given the gap between the diminutive i3 city car and the i8 sports car, the i5 seems like a logical bride between the […]

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BMW is said to be planning a new minivan-esque competitor to the Toyota Prius V, dubbed the i5. We like the name given to it in the original Autobild story; Neuer Elektro-Van.

Given the gap between the diminutive i3 city car and the i8 sports car, the i5 seems like a logical bride between the two. Autobild’s rendering suggests that it won’t be a stodgy, van like vehicle, but a slightly enlarged 1-Series hatchback as far as looks go. The i5 should seat 5, and offer a 170 horsepower electric drivetrain. A 3-cylinder gasoline range extender is also said to be in the works.

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For Sale: Bullet-Proof 2000 BMW 750iL http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/for-sale-2000-bmw-750il-protection/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/for-sale-2000-bmw-750il-protection/#comments Wed, 04 Jan 2012 21:16:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=424303 When friends and colleagues ask our counsel on whether or not to buy an older V12 BMW (it happened more than once) the standard answer is always an emphatic “no”. Most people cannot handle the idea of two ECUs (for twice the complexity and repair bills), and for the average Joe looking for a prestigious […]

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When friends and colleagues ask our counsel on whether or not to buy an older V12 BMW (it happened more than once) the standard answer is always an emphatic “no”. Most people cannot handle the idea of two ECUs (for twice the complexity and repair bills), and for the average Joe looking for a prestigious ride on the cheap (an oxymoron if there ever was one), a V12 BMW is bankruptcy on four wheels.

But when an ad for a car proudly touts the ability to withstand “.357 MAG., 9MM AND .44 MAGNUM AND EQUIVALENT HANDGUN AND LIGHT SUBMACHINE GUN BALLISTICS“, suddenly it becomes very hard to ignore.

Towards the turn of the millenium, BMW offered its own factory armored 7-Series, known as the Protection series. Built between 2000 and 2001, most of them appear to be the big V12 variety but a V8-powered 740i variant was also offered. Now, Bring A Trailer is bringing you the chance to own your very own armored 7-Series, after digging up this Craigslist ad out of Houston, Texas.

In armored car parlance, the ability to stop this level of small arms fire is known as “B4″ protection. A car like the 750iL protection is mainly meant to protect against violent crime like robberies and car jackings. At the time of production, this was conceivably what most private citizens in dangerous locales would need. Nowadays, armored cars are more ubiquitous in dangerous locales, but so is the level of firepower and the severity of incidents. Mexican criminal elements (among other actors) now have access to military grade assault weapons, not to mention grenades and other weapons, and a B4 vehicle could be woefully inadequate. BMW offers a current model 760iL that can stop multiple rounds from an AK-47 or M4 type rifle – a sign of just how far things have come.

According to the ad, the 750iL comes with heated front and rear seats, a nav system, park distance control and of course, special wheels for the run-flat tires. The windows look suitably thick, a morbid reminder of just what this car is built for. At $36,500, the car is on the high side for a 12 year old BMW 7-Series, but the vendor is also willing to trade for a boat or an RV.

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