By on June 14, 2017

2018 BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo - Image: BMWIt was rare enough that you may have only seen the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo in pictures. You’re all the better off if you weren’t forced to feast your eyes on the crime against automotive design that was the sixth-generation 5 Series’ hatchback.

With the new seventh-generation 5 Series, there is no Gran Turismo, at least not yet. But after suspending the coupe from the more expensive 6 Series range, BMW is once again expanding the 6 Series lineup with, that’s right, a Gran Turismo. Oddly, the 6 Series that’s least deserving of a GT tag now wears the badge, but fortunately this new BMW GT isn’t as offensive as the last.

Where is the 6 Series Gran Turismo positioned in the BMW hierarchy? Imagine, if you will, a buyer who wants more space than a regular BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe (which is actually a sedan) but wants greater cargo flexibility than the BMW 7 Series affords; a buyer who doesn’t want a full-blown family friendly X5 “SAV” but requires a liftgate of some sort; a buyer who finds the X6 too tall. BMW now has a car for that buyer.

In America in the fall of 2017, that car will be the $68,895 BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo, propelled by a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six. (Read More…)

By on May 30, 2017

2017 Lexus CT200h - Image: LexusThe current 2017 model year will be the last for the Lexus CT200h.

An indirect successor to the Lexus HS250h sedan, the Lexus CT200h will end a seven-year model run in the United States that resulted in more than 90,000 sales.

Imported from Miyawaka, Japan, the Lexus CT has seen its average U.S. monthly output fall 58 percent over the last three years. Never a tremendously popular entry-level luxury car, the hybrid-only Lexus was forced to compete against very successful luxury sedans from Mercedes-Benz and Audi — CLA and A3, respectively — in the latter portion of its tenure.

The Lexus couldn’t compete. (Read More…)

By on May 5, 2017

2017 Porsche Panamera Volcano Grey - Image: Porsche

The first second-generation Porsche Panamera I ever spotted was missing its front end. It was still distinctly more attractive than the first-generation Porsche Panamera ever was.

My house is near the CN Autoport in Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia. Dozens of stevedores drive mostly European-built new vehicles off Wallenius Wilhelmsen ships to parking lots near a main road, incidentally known as Main Road. Typically, if I time my drives past just right, I see long lines of new cars, such as the British-built Honda Civic Hatchback or the Volvo V90, weeks before a single one arrives at your local dealer.

Ever so slightly closer to my home than the Autoport itself is a smaller building where the damaged vehicles go. Today, there’s a Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, sans rear bumper, parked outside. A few months ago, mere seconds before feasting my eyes upon a line of second-gen Porsche Panameras, I saw the aforementioned damaged Panamera. “Maaaaaan, that car is pretty.”

And then I remembered the old Panamera, vomiting a bit in my throat at the thought. And then I saw Porsche’s April 2017 U.S. sales figures. Scroll down, scroll down, there it is: Panamera. 1,098 sales.

Double its typical monthly output. 26-percent better than its previous best. Triple April 2016’s volume.

And proof people prefer pretty. (Read More…)

By on May 1, 2017

1974 Cadillac Fleetwood in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

1974 was a rough year to be an American, but the Cadillac Division wasn’t about to give up on selling opulent two-and-a-half-ton highway dreadnaughts to the plutocracy (that came later).

Here’s a well-banged-up Fleetwood Sixty Special Brougham, spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard last month. (Read More…)

By on January 31, 2017

2017 Cadillac CT6 Stellar Black - Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

Whether the 2017 Cadillac CT6 is the Cadillac you want, surely the CT6 is what you want Cadillac to be.

It’s not unreasonable to consider yourself a candidate for the Cadillac you can most easily afford: the ATS. But what does the ATS say about Cadillac; what image does it present?

Odds are the SRX-replacing Cadillac XT5 is the Cadillac you’re most likely to buy, the Cadillac that will earn more than one-third of the brand’s U.S. sales, but the XT5 is already popular enough to be decidedly mainstream. Cadillac sold more XT5s in the final six weeks of 2016 than the CT6 managed in nine months.

There’s always the Escalade, the upper-echelon Cadillac that’s far more likely in this SUV-crazed world to capture the well-heeled Cadillac buyer’s attention — but shouldn’t a big Cadillac have a properly big back seat? Shouldn’t it be properly long, low, and wide? Shouldn’t it have the streetside presence of a much more costly car, rather than the silhouette of its $49,000 Chevrolet sibling? And don’t you want to have a barrel of fun hustling your big Cadillac down your favourite Nürburgring-impersonating road?

There’s the rub, of course. You may not want, need, or expect your 17-foot-long Cadillac sedan to be enjoyable to drive — not just to be in, but to drive. Moreover, even if that’s what you want, it may not be possible for the CT6’s endearing on-road behavior to counteract a number of Cadillac idiosyncrasies. (Read More…)

By on December 20, 2016

2016 BMW X1 and 340i - Image: BMW USA

BMW continues to spend industry-leading levels of money to lure luxury car buyers in the United States. Yet November was the twelfth consecutive month in which sales at the BMW Group declined, year-over-year, in the U.S..

Through the first 11 months of 2016, sales at BMW are down 10 percent compared with the same period in 2015; Mini volume is off 11 percent.

According to TrueCar, however, no automaker is spending more in incentives, on a per vehicle basis, than BMW of North America. November 2016 incentives at the BMW Group jumped 25 percent compared with November 2015 yet sales fell 16 percent.

How much cash on the hood do American luxury car buyers want? (Read More…)

By on December 8, 2016

2017 Lincoln Continental - Image: Ford

There remains a select group of American car buyers who are actually buyers of cars. In fact, there are still American car buyers who want American cars. Indeed, there are still a number of American car buyers who want American luxury cars.

As an example, consider the all-new Lincoln Continental.

It’s not a hot seller — at least not in the conventional sense of the word. The new Lincoln Continental isn’t topping the sales charts. Indeed, given the fact, in November, the Continental was America’s 17th-best-selling premium brand car, it may not even be a warm seller.

But there are a couple of indicators that suggest the 2017 Lincoln Continental is over-performing; that it’s exceeding Ford Motor Company’s expectations. That’s not bad news for America’s remaining handful of American luxury car aficionados, especially with the measure of success being enjoyed by a cross-town Continental rival. (Read More…)

By on October 31, 2016

2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 4Matic Rainbow Haven

Style is subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You believe the Mini Paceman is the ugliest of Minis; I say it’s the best. You believe the X6 is BMW at its masculine and modern best; I believe the X6 stands in stark and unfortunate contrast to the beautiful delicacy of the BMW 2002tii.

We disagree. And that’s okay.

Therefore, when we approach the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class — supplied here by Mercedes-Benz Canada in E300 4Matic form — we may differ on the merits and demerits of the new midsize sedan’s design. But surely on this we can concur: the E-Class is now less distinguishable from its baby C-Class brother than ever before.

Is that a good thing? Perhaps not. But on the other hand, the new E-Class is now less distinguishable from its big S-Class brother than ever before.

Regardless of the image it presents to the world, the fifth-generation E-Class is much more Benz than the C-Class, and very nearly as much Benz as the S-Class. (Read More…)

By on October 19, 2016

2017-2014 BMW 5-Series profile_128

The new 2017 BMW 5 Series, BMW’s seventh in a long line of revered midsize sedans, looks exactly like the outgoing BMW 5 Series.

Chip off the proverbial old block. Spitting image. Germany’s vehicular Dolly The Sheep.

If the new 5 Series, codename G30 in Bimmerphile parlance, were nothing more than a facelift of the departing F10 5 Series that will shortly end its 2011-2016 run, we would all surely consider the facelift to be an insufficient attempt at spicing things up.

But the new 5 Series isn’t just a mid-cycle refresh, it’s not merely a freshening of a tired old dog, it’s not the standard Munich riposte to a Stuttgart incursion.

This is the all-new BMW 5 Series. Or rather, one of these cars is the all-new BMW 5 Series. Can you say for sure which one it is? (Read More…)

By on September 9, 2016

2017 Audi A4 Technik QuattroIt’s the new version of an always desirable German luxury sports sedan.

Shocker: it’s good.

Though the 2017 Audi A4 looks like a carbon copy of the 2016 model, it’s a new car with a new platform, new dimensions, new interior, and a revamped powertrain.

The A4’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is more powerful than before. Horsepower is up from 220 to 252. Torque jumps by 15 pounds-feet to 273, and it all comes on strong at 1,600 rpm. The new car is about an inch longer than before and nearly an inch wider. U.S. pricing for Quattro models begins at $40,350. Equipped similarly to our Audi Canada-supplied model ($60,285 in heavily optioned Technik trim north of the border), the 2017 Audi A4 Quattro Prestige would be $54,025, a 33-percent leap beyond the basic A4 Quattro’s price.

Yup, it’s good. At $54,025 it oughta be. Audi will tell you it how good it is. So too will your Audi dealer’s sales consultant. In fact, potential Audi A4 buyer that you are, you are able to tell yourself how good the 2017 A4 is.

I can join in the fun. But as TTAC’s own Bark. M explained yesterday, that’s easy. (Read More…)

By on July 15, 2016

2016 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic Coupe

While it’s true that TTAC’s managing editor spent last week in an $11,595 2016 Chevrolet Spark, auto writers living on the east coast of Canada are rather more accustomed to receiving highly optioned cars from the press fleet.

There was the 2016 Mazda CX-9 Platinum priced, in Mazda USA speak, at $45,215. A couple of weeks before, the new Honda Civic Coupe arrived in Touring trim — not Si, not Type R — at a U.S. market price of $26,960. Toyota Highlander? Make it a Limited Hybrid at $51,445.

So what a pleasure it was to see a 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe pull into my driveway and see no AMG badges, the basic 2.0-liter turbo/all-wheel-drive combo, and only $7,540 in options. A mere scintilla of options. Scarcely a soupçon of selections from the lengthy list of Mercedes-Benz choices.

Thus, with shockwaves reverberating around GCBC Towers, a 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe arrived as a successor to our 2016 Lexus RC tester, a direct C-Class Coupe competitor, with $6,000 of savings in hand.

Yes, as-tested, the Benz was $6,000 less than its Lexus rival. And yes, the Benz is the better car. (Read More…)

By on May 16, 2016

2016 BMW 340i

America’s record-breaking new vehicle sales volume in calendar year 2015 was powered in part by better-than-average growth from premium automakers.

Yet after BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Acura, and Cadillac all failed to match the rate of industry-wide expansion in 2015, the first four months of 2016 have revealed that even more top-level premium brands are fading as the market for new vehicles continues to expand. U.S. auto sales are up 3.4 percent in 2016. Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, BMW (the three top-ranked premium auto brands), Acura, Cadillac, and Infiniti posted declining sales in the first-third of 2016.

Largely at fault are the passenger car divisions at each brand, but a number of high-volume SUVs/crossovers that are failing to match last year’s first-third sales pace, as well. (Read More…)

By on April 29, 2016

acura30

Acura is turning 30, and to celebrate, it’s turning its attention away from the yuppy Gen-Xers who first discovered the brand to the hopeful, car-buying Millennials of today.

It’s not pandering for vehicle sales, it’s a relationship, see?

Honda’s luxury marque just launched a marketing campaign that seems perfectly designed to lure in the largest-growing segment of car buyers. Called “30 Years Young,” the ad plays up Acura’s status as the leading luxury brand of this age demographic, while stroking the ego of the Millennial buyer. (Read More…)

By on April 27, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Cruze rear 3/4

Based on internal platform codes, sources are telling us Cadillac is working on a Delta-based Mercedes CLA rival.

General Motors has spent significant time and effort refining the Delta platform – as noted in our Cruze review, this platform is well worthy of premiums above the Cruze’s $17, 495 MSRP.

Based on what sources are sending our way, it looks like General Motors is planning exactly that, a premium vehicle based on the new D2XX platform. (Read More…)

By on April 25, 2016

Restyled Lexus IS

The refreshed Lexus IS bowed today at the Beijing Motor Show, presenting an even hungrier face than before.

Lexus kept the well-defined proportions of the entry-level sedan intact, but went to town on the front end. The corporate spindle grille now sports a higher cinch point and spacetime-bending three-dimensional mesh. (Read More…)

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