The Truth About Cars » twin turbo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:30:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 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 » twin turbo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Stroke Of Midnight http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/the-stroke-of-midnight/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/the-stroke-of-midnight/#comments Tue, 31 Dec 2013 12:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=690098 Supra

At the stroke of midnight, a new millennium would begin and the whole world was supposed to come unhinged. Religious leaders were telling us that we needed to be afraid because Jesus Christ, aka the “Prince of Peace,” was coming back to wreak holy vengeance upon us all, cosmologists hinted that that an ominous planetary alignment was going to totally screw up our Feng Shui and computer experts were saying that the silicon chips that they had been relentlessly incorporating into everything since the late 1980s were going to suddenly freak out. It was this last thing that got most people’s panties in a twist. When the computers stopped, we were told, power grids would fail and modern society would grind to a halt. Anything that had an internal clock, they said, would simply stop working.

By the dawn of that fateful New Year’s Eve, I was firmly established in my new life as an English conversation teacher in Japan. My move to the Land of the Rising Sun was a jump made of the sort of desperation that only poverty can induce, but my change of scenery had done little to improve my situation. Where my previous hell had been my childhood bedroom at my mom’s house, it was now a tiny, virtually uninsulated, one-room “mansion” in the Kyoto area where I slept fully clothed under a few thin blankets atop a lumpy futon spread out on the floor over an electric carpet while the winter wind, right off the Siberian steppes, whistled and wailed as it forced its way into the shabby little room through a million small openings. Although I ran the heater almost constantly, I had given up hope of actually trying to warm the space and now the cold added just one more layer of misery. The world was a shitty place, I had decided and it t really didn’t matter to me if it ended. In fact, thanks to the sudden resurgence in popularity of “1999” by Prince, I was looking forward to it.

There is a certain mindset that comes with grinding, persistent poverty. Managing your money becomes an all-consuming thing and you pick and choose your luxuries. For me, someone who has always loved vehicles, my own personal mobility took priority over some of the other luxuries I might have enjoyed and, over the 9 months I had been in-country I had managed to acquire two reliable, but beat-down vehicles of my own, a Honda motorcycle and a Toyota Supra. Now, as Y2K bore down upon me the weight of what those computer experts had been saying was beginning to hit home. Both of my vehicles, I knew, had chips in them and, as they were both old, there was a chance they might actually be affected by the software glitch. Would they start on the day after? Could I fix them if they didn’t? I wondered.

cbr

As the fateful day approached, my girlfriend decided that we needed to ring in the New Year with a trip to Lake Biwa. Japan doesn’t really have any mighty rivers, no inland seas or anything even remotely like the Great Lakes, but given the small size of the country, at 39 miles long and 14 miles wide, Biwako does a pretty good impersonation. Set in Shiga prefecture, just across the prefectural boundary from Kyoto, the lake is a scenic attraction and its shores are lined with industry, hotels and entertainment complexes. One of these hotels was planning a celebratory fireworks show to ring in the New Year and, I was told, we would be going.

We headed out early in the evening, wending our way through the busy holiday traffic and through the center of the city of Kyoto before turning east through the small mountain pass that separated the city from the lake. Traffic intensified as we neared the shore and we eventually found a parking place in a crowded hotel garage an hour before the event was set to start. As we left the car and moved towards the viewing stands, I noticed a row of gasoline powered high intensity work lights, the kind that are often used during night time road construction, along the edge of the garage and it suddenly struck me why they were there. At the stroke of midnight, should the power fail, these would be fired up to provide the light that people would need to get back to their cars. Someone was taking this pretty seriously, I thought, it was an ominous sign.

Despite all the hype, until that moment I hadn’t thought of the Y2K problem outside of my own little miserable bubble. Now, it hit me with a real force. If the doomsayers were actually right, I realized, I was out on a limb. I would be trapped in a foreign country on the other side of the planet from my own personal support network and if things really came unglued, I would be irrevocably on my own. I felt a touch of fear rise up but just as quickly as it emerged, I shoved it back into its place. The threat of disaster doesn’t equal the real thing, I reasoned, and I wasn’t about to let it ruin my night. If poverty had taught me anything it had been to focus on the here and now. Tomorrow, for better or worse, would arrive soon enough.

My girlfriend and I climbed the stairs, found our places in the viewing stands and had a great night. As the seconds ticked down the lights dimmed and then went out as the fireworks show began. It was so engrossing that the possibility of disaster didn’t even cross my mind again until the show was over and the hotel lights came back up. As we walked back to the garage, I noticed the overhead lights burned as brightly as ever and that the line of generators stood silent and alone, sentinels against a darkness that did not come. I found my Supra safe in its parking place and smiled to myself as the engine snapped to life at the turn of the key. The world would continue, technology had triumphed and fear had been banished.

I pulled into the lane and joined a long line of cars making their way out of the facility. One by one the line of cars moved towards the street and then slipped away into the night, each vehicle whisking its occupants away into their own individual futures. When my own turn came I turned onto the street and pressed the accelerator. As the revs came up, the twin turbos on my 14 year old Supra sang their own special song and pushed the car forward with a sense of urgency and purpose. The new millenium was upon us.

Toyota Supra

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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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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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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Review: 2012 BMW X5M http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/review-2012-bmw-x5m/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/review-2012-bmw-x5m/#comments Mon, 28 Nov 2011 18:14:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=418112

If you ask a certain segment of the automotive press, it seems that BMW is rapidly losing the plot. While I agree that BMW’s latest wares are bigger, heavier and more leather-clad than ever before, I can’t say thing is a bad thing in my mind. I upset a few people when I reviewed the then-new 335is by saying “BMW is the new Mercedes”. I’m not sure why noses were “rankled”, but there seems to be a large segment of TTAC’s readership that believe BMW has abandoned “sport” for “luxury”. Maybe they are right; the M3 and M5 have been gaining weight an alarming pace and now we have the X5M and X6M, a pair of 5,400lb SUVs wearing full-on M badges. The burning question at TTAC is: should the guy responsible for designing it be committed? Or should the vehicle be put in a straight-jacket for being a totally insane machine?

From the outside the X5M looks less “M” compared to its donor model than do the M sedans. Sure there are enlarged grilles on the front, unique bumpers, and quad exhaust tips out back, but the overall form doesn’t scream “something wicked this way comes” like an M3. Helping the X5M blend into the urban jungle is the 2” hitch receiver, a first on M vehicles as is the tow rating of a healthy 6600lbs. Closer inspection however reveals the subtle tweaks to this urban assault vehicle include some seriously wide 315-series rubber out back, ginormous brakes and a plethora of radiators visible behind the large mesh grill openings.

On the inside of the X5 it will take very observant passenger to tell the difference between the go-fast model and the plebian people movers. Of course there are bespoke X5M gauges greeting the driver and the thick rimmed M steering wheel is also along for the ride. Aside from the driver’s controls however the majority of the X5M’s interior is lifted directly from the lower models. Fit and finish was excellent in our tester (as you would expect at this price) but I have to admit I was somewhat disappointed by the so-called “carbon fiber” leather trim which appears to just be black leather embossed with a carbon fiber pattern. I think some dark stained wood or brushed aluminum would be been more befitting of the X5M’s target market, but what do I know? The only toll on the interior taken by the M conversion that we observed was the loss of the third-row-seat option. If you’re a family of seven with a need for speed, you might have to wait and see if Mercedes will sell you a 7-seat ML AMG.

By now the suspense is likely killing you, after all we haven’t even mentioned the new M engine under the hood of the X5M so here we go: Turbo lovers rejoice! Squeezed under the bulging hood of the X5M beats a 4.4L twin-turbo V8 engine cranking out 555HP and a mind numbing 500 lb-ft of torque. While this engine is quite similar to the X5 xDrive50i’s 4.4L twin turbo V8, there are some significant differences, most notably the broader torque curve. The “pedestrian” 4.4L engine delivers 450lb-ft from 1750-4500RPM while the X5M’s mill broadens the torque plateau to 1500-5650 and the difference is marked behind the wheel. Power is routed to all four wheels via a heavy-duty ZF 6-speed automatic transmission, BMW’s full-tine AWD system and of course, a torque vectoring rear differential. I have seen complaints by the forum fan-boys whining that BMW didn’t put their dual-clutch M transmission under the hood of the X5M, but to me at least, the softer (and more “normal” feeling) shifts of the ZF transmission are more suitable for SUV use.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Some years ago when I heard the first rumors about the X5M, I was concerned that BMW would make their first sports SUV rear wheel drive only. I’m sure a RWD SUV would have pleased the BMW purists in the crowd, however, the X5M may just be the sports car for the rest of us. How so? It’s all about applying the power for me. While Jaguar XFR and last generation M5 I tested were a blast to drive, both spent considerable amounts of time at the starting gates spinning their wheels. 0-60 testing a two-wheel drive high-output vehicle takes a certain amount of time and finesse to get the best possible numbers out of the vehicle. The X5M just requires a heavy right foot. The same can be said for the fun-factor of the X5M when on a windy mountain road: just mash the go pedal and hang on.

The X5M is not the best handling car I have ever driven, but it is quite possibly the most confidant. The torque vectoring rear differential helps the X5M feel like a much lighter vehicle on windy roads and the permanent AWD system means it’s easy to stomp on the throttle at just about any moment without everything going pear-shaped. For those of us that aren’t Jack Baruth, this much power needs four powered-wheels. Back to the handling; while the X5M is not a 911 on the track, it is (no kidding at all) at the top end of the handling scale in general. While on a twisty road I frequent, I let a brand new Porsche Cayman S pass (because I thought I’d slow the fun down), just to see how I’d do, I tried to keep up with the light-weight Porsche. To my surprise the X5M picked up its lederhosen and danced. While the Cayman was more nimble in the tight corners common to any coastal California road, the X5M’s massive thrust more than compensated in the short straightaways. With the right driver, on a closed course, I have little doubt the 5,400lb SUV would have spanked the bantam weight Porsche.

While the X5M weighs nearly 2400lbs more than a Cayman S PDK, our 0-60 tests revealed the BMW to be faster than all but the fastest of Stuttgart’s wares. BMW’s website quotes an official 4.5 seconds to 60, but our first run on a cool 50 degree morning yielded an eye-popping 4.05 second run. Amazed, disturbed, and incredulous we spent the next 30 minutes verifying and re-verifying our numbers. After a morning where we consumed about 15-gallons of premium dinosaur we arrived at two conclusions: The first is that the X5M has a “problem” with heat soak despite the mammoth intercoolers, and the second is that BMW is totally honest about the 4.5 second 0-60 time. What do I mean? Let’s talk numbers, our first run clocked at 4.05, our next was 4.1 and by the time we had done our 25th back-to-back run our times had “ballooned” to 4.51 seconds which represents a variance of about 12%. What should you get out of our experimentation? Unless you are really pounding the snot out of the twin-turbo V8, you’ll pretty much always beat that guy in the Carrera 4S next to you. Need some crazier numbers? The old M5 needed 4.4 seconds to achieve the same speed (as does the M3 in manual form), making the X5M not only the fastest car we’ve tested from BMW so far, but perhaps the fastest car TTAC has tested period.

Because the concept of “launch control” on a nearly three-ton SUV with a regular-old slush-box is about as insane as the SUV itself is, we must go over the feature as it did make a 1/10th of a second difference in the 0-60 time. Here’s how you activate it: With the vehicle stopped, you put your foot on the brake pedal, slide the shifter over to M/S mode and then use the paddle shifter to out the transmission into M1. You then need to put the stability control into MDM mode, select the sport program from for the M Engine dynamics control (these two actions can be linked to the M button on the steering wheel). You then floor the car and a little checkered flag appears in the cluster. You then let your foot off the brake pedal and the X5M takes off like a daemon possessed Chucky doll cranking out crispy shifts like a Gatling gun (as long as you don’t lift). As if common sense wasn’t enough, the manual reminds you to not use launch control while towing a trailer. We tested the X5M with a 5,000lb trailer and trust us, launch control was not required.

Competition to the X5M can of course be found from all the usual suspects: the Range Rover Sport Supercharged, the ML63 AMG, and of course the Cayenne Turbo. The Range Rover retains some of its off-roading ability making it far less capable on-road than the BMW (and not quite the same creature). By all appearances, Mercedes decided not to tackle the X5M head on with the ML63 as it’s down on power, torque and needs almost a full second more to get to freeway speeds. This leaves the Cayenne Turbo the sole competition for the X5M if you care about handling and speed. Strangely enough however, even with the brief 30 minute test drive I was able to finagle in a Cayman Turbo it was obvious the Porsche is more of a luxury SUV than a sports SUV with a more supple, less connected ride,  a transmission more willing to upshift (and gear-hunt) and a considerably larger price tag. While the Porsche represents a more refined SUV without question, the BMW is by far the performance winner. It’s also the maddest in the bunch and if the X5M was a person it would be bound in a straight-jacket and locked in a padded cell.

OK, so it’s an insane vehicle that’s crazy fast and crazy fun, but who’s it for? This is twisted logic, so stay with me here: If you are the kind of middle-class guy that has a Porsche Cayman for the daily commute, a trailer for weekend camping which, because we’re Americans and we cannot possibly tow a 1,200lb “toy hauler” with our car, also meant buying a pick-up truck, you should save yourself the garage space and buy the X5M instead. It’s a far better sports car than a Cayman, and oddly enough the 555HP and 500lbft of torque make it one of the best tow vehicles this side of a diesel F-250. The price of this joy? $95,000. Still, that’s cheaper than a Cayman and an F-250. I’ll take my straight jacket in blue please.

 

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

Statistics as tested

0-30: 1.35 Seconds

0-60: 4.05 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 12.6 Seconds @ 111.2 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 15.2 MPG over 483 miles

2012 BMW X5M Front Right IMG_4701 IMG_4702 IMG_4703 IMG_4704 IMG_4706 IMG_4707 IMG_4710 IMG_4712 IMG_4713 IMG_4714 IMG_4715 IMG_4716 IMG_4718 X5M Twin Turbo V8 IMG_4725 IMG_4726 IMG_4728 Driver Side Interior IMG_4731 IMG_4734 IMG_4735 IMG_4737 IMG_4738 IMG_4740 IMG_4741 IMG_4746 IMG_4747 IMG_4751 IMG_4753 M Instrument Cluster IMG_4755 IMG_4757 IMG_4758 IMG_4759 IMG_4761 X5M Cargo Area IMG_4765 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Review: 2012 BMW 650i Convertible http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/review-2012-bmw-650i-convertible/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/review-2012-bmw-650i-convertible/#comments Fri, 11 Nov 2011 21:10:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=417454

Full-size high-end luxury convertibles that don’t have budget origins are not as common as you might think (or like). E-Class Cabrio? Too cheap. A5 Cabrio? Same problem. So if you’ve $90,000+ burning a hole in your pocket for a topless two-door what should you get?  Obviously Astons and Bentleys are out of your price range in this down economy (we all must economize after all), and you have trouble justifying the stretch to the Maserati GranTurismo Convertible’s $132,000 base price, that leaves BMW and Jaguar to battle in this broom-closet sized market. Whatever is the almost-wealthy shopper to do? Let’s find out

On the outside, the old 6-series wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but the new model seems to be a universally good looking car according to my usual band of “Joe six-packs”. Up front the 6 wears BMW’s new corporate pedestrian friendly schnoz easily identified by the dual large grills, and overall high and flat leading surface. Continuing along the side we find sharper lines and new sheet metal give the new 6 a lower, wider look (without actually being much lower than the outgoing model) that is accentuated when the convertible top is lowered. Speaking of that top, the 6-series continues to sport a folding canvas top instead of the trendy folding hard tops. Supposedly the decision was several fold: the canvas top is lighter, changes the weight balance of the car less when it is down, it’s faster to lower/raise and can be done at speeds up to 25MPH (and of course, it’s cheaper). Of course, Jag’s XK convertible looks like sex, so on the looks front despite the BMW being very attractive; my vote is for the XK.

BMW has taken great strides with the new 6-series interior in both style and finish. The cockpit is far more “driver oriented” than the previous generation convertible and the parts all scream high-rent. The new large, high-resolution iDrive screen is the dominant feature on the dash, perched high and just about in your line of sight (in a good way). While other iDrive displays have been positioned in dedicated binacle or well-integrated into the dash, the 6’s iDrive gives the appearance of a pop-up screen without the pop. The look is well executed and makes the dash seem less “bulky” than other BMW products. This reduced bulk is needed as the high belt line and overall large proportions conspire to make average sized men feel small behind the wheel. I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually like feeling small. The $1,500 optional stitched dashboard (as our tester was equipped) visually puts the 650i’s interior in the same class as the Jaguar XKR and Aston Martin’s “budget” coupés.

Luxury cars are all about the gizmos, the 6-series continues to wear it’s crown as the reigning gadget king. The aforementioned wide-screen 10.2 inch iDrive display is as close to perfection as I have seen. People complain about iDrive being hard to use, but I find it fairly intuitive. If you are a person familiar with technology at all, you will acclimate to iDrive quickly. If however you’re trading in your old 1970s S-class convertible as part of your new life in a Floridian retirement home, you might want to bring a 14-year old with you when you need to change the AM radio station. For the rest of us, iDrive is far more elegant in look and function than Mercedes COMMAND, more feature rich than Infiniti’s setup, a decade more modern than Lexus’s nav software, more reliable than SYNC, and easier to use than Audi’s MMI. Aston Martin? They’re still stuck in the last century. Jaguar’s system is more agreeable to my tastes than COMMAND, but still a step behind Audi’s MMI and iDrive until Jaguar decides to put the XJ’s new touch screen in the smaller kitty.

New on the scene for iDrive is the new iPhone/smartphone app. I’m not entirely sure why you would need to tweet or Facebook post while you are driving, but iDrive does make it easy to accomplish both, while blasting down the freeway topless. The system will not only read your posts to you, but it will even pull information from iDrive’s phone history, navigation system and even the car’s thermometer to generate slightly personalized canned posts like “It is 65 degrees and I am driving my BMW” or “Headed to 123 Main Street” or “Spoke with Jane Doe on the phone”. While Facebook is a novelty, the web radio app is the feature that makes the $250 option worth considering. The radio app allows you to select from RadioTime.com’s list of streaming internet radio stations (Pandora lovers look elsewhere). The radio streaming worked surprisingly well even over the maligned AT&T network on my iPhone 4. The only complaint I have about the way BMW’s app works is that [on the iPhone at least] the app must be loaded and the active app in order for the car to sync, so while you can Facebook post while driving, you have to leave the app to read your text messages or control anything on the phone. For that last mile, BMW’s app allows you to continue navigating to your destination if you’ve had to park several blocks away and you can glance at your last known fuel level and distance to empty numbers.

Other than the overtly “techy” gadgets, the list of safety features and optional gadgets on the 6 is extensive. The pricey option list includes goodies like a $2,600 night vision system, $3,700 “Drive Assistance Package” which gives you a plethora of cameras, a new full-color heads up display, lane departure warning and the very trendy self-parallel-parking feature, a $1,500 seat enhancement package that gives you active seats and seat ventilation, $650 to replace the plastic knobs with ceramic, and a whopping $3,700 for the Bang & Olufsen sound system. Strangely enough BMW has not decided to create a side impact airbag system ala Volvo’s C70, a shame when the rich seem usually prepared to spend big on features to save their backside (or brain in this case).

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. While there is a hair of turbo lag, thanks to the twin hairdryers torque gets to the boil by 1,750 RPM and stays on strong all the way to 4500 RPM where it tapers off gradually. The new engine sends power to the rear (or all four wheels with the optional AWD) via a new 8-Speed ZF transmission. The combination of the turbos, increased oomph, and extra cogs results in the 0-60 time dropping from a quoted 5.4 to a quoted 4.9 putting the 650i in the same class as a few BMW M products I could mention and 0.4 seconds faster than the 385HP Jaguar XK’s quoted time. Of course with BMW quoted times aren’t worth much and the 650i is no different clocking in a cool 4.69 second 0-60 sprint time after time. Despite a not-insignificant weight gain due to the loss of the aluminum front end the 2011 sported, 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 Jaguar XK or XKR’s  5.0L V8 and this is likely due to the turbos in the exhaust stream. While the 4.4L turbo is powerful, the 650i seems to lack the urgency of some new Mercedes products with their new twin-turbo V8. Fear not speed lovers, an M6 is on the way which will surely put those fears to rest.

Out on the road the 650i convertible is a heavy car and it shows, not in the handling but the feel. The 650 just doesn’t feel as connected to the road as the Jaguar XK, likely due as much to the electric power steering as the 4,531lb curb weight. While come may complain about this, I can’t say I expect my over-two-ton convertible to be a corner carver, the 6-series is very much a GT and in this role it shines. The optional sport package (as our tester was equipped) includes active suspension, active anti-roll bars, and some seriously wide 275-width rubber out back (the fronts remain 245s). Still despite the added tech, the XKR is still the better driver’s car. The Jag is (and feels) considerably lighter on the road, the 6-speed ZF transmission is far more eager to do your bidding and the steering is far more connected and direct, not to mention the XKR’s 5.0L V8 plays one of the most amazing sound tracks available on our shores. Our readers know I’m an AWD fan and even if the 650i wasn’t loaded with all my favorite gadgets, I’d buy it over an XKR for the AWD’s year round drivability.

When it comes time to buy your fourth car (BMW tells us most 6 series buyers have at least 3-4 cars in their stable), what should you buy? This depends on what you’re after. If you care about modern gadgets and technology in your topless GT, the 650i is the hands-down winner. The 650i also slots neatly between the slightly slower Jaguar XK and the considerably faster XJR in terms of performance and price (depending on options). If however you’re after the a more engaging drive, better exhaust note and exquisite exterior style, the Jaguar XKR is the ride for you, it just won’t tweet your friends about it.

 

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

Statistics as tested

0-30: 1.72 Seconds

0-60: 4.69 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 13 Seconds @ 109.8 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 17.2 MPG over 383 miles

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Capsule Review: 1993 Mazda RX-7 and The Finest In Men’s… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/capsule-review-1993-mazda-rx-7-and-the-finest-in-mens/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/capsule-review-1993-mazda-rx-7-and-the-finest-in-mens/#comments Thu, 07 Oct 2010 13:30:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=367807

More than a few of you had a simple question (or statement) regarding my Infiniti G20 Capsule Review, namely,

“Why didn’t you check the mileage of the dealer trade?”

The answer is simple: I wasn’t even permitted to call other dealerships, much less arrange trades. At that particular shop, salespeople weren’t even permitted to see the final numbers at deals. We were intended to be “product specialists”, not wheeler-dealers.

In fact, our rather idealistic general manager believed in specifically hiring people with no experience in the industry. His boss, the dealer group manager, had deep roots in the buy-here-pay-here biz. The conflict between these two philosophies occasionally led to trouble…

“AND ANOTHER THING,” the group manager boomed in our monthly meeting. “NOBODY, AND I MEAN NOBODY, DRIVES THAT F***ING MAZDA RX-7 WITHOUT MY APPROVAL. YOU F***ING CALL ME IF YOU HAVE AN UP ON IT!!!! NOBODY DRIVES IT!!! YOU IDIOTS WILL WRECK IT!!!” What was he talking about? I was always half-asleep on Saturday mornings. We had an RX-7? I walked out to the lot afterwards and sure enough, it was up on a metal display ramp: a 1993 RX-7 Twin Turbo, dark green, 8,900 miles.

Where did it come from? Nobody seemed to know. The other salespeople gathered around the car. We were: two recent liberal arts graduates, one middle-aged former trophy wife and one twentysomething current trophy wife who would later on both become representatives for the local upscale homebuilder, a former yacht salesman, and a trim, impeccably preppy African-American fellow who had just arrived from the only Brioni retailer in Columbus, Ohio. The group manager hated our guts and loved screaming at us about how we were suburban candy-assed homosexuals.

Everything we did was wrong in this dude’s opinion, so he prevented us from doing anything. We weren’t permitted to truly work deals. We were not allowed to quote any price to the customer but MSRP. We couldn’t make dealer trades, we couldn’t even book cars into the detailing shop without manager approval. The store had two sales managers, a general manager, and this “group manager” who worked in Louisville but made a monthly trip up Route 71 to scream at us. They “did the work”. We were expected to be like the shoji screens around the cars: upper-middle-class set dressing.

I was ambivalent about the job, to put it mildly, so the moment I saw this RX-7 I started out figuring out how I was going to get behind the wheel. In terms of raw acceleration, it would be the fastest car I’d yet driven, not that much slower in the quarter-mile than my tired old Ninja 600R. It was sexy. Years later, Jeremy Clarkson would call it the “Japanese E-Type”, and that’s a fair description.

After some thought, I decided on the simplest approach. Since everybody knew that death and fury awaited anyone who drove the car without permission, it followed naturally that anybody seen taking the car off the rack would be assumed to have permission. I therefore went back to the key box, grabbed the appropriate tag, and ten minutes later I was beeping the horn at my house as my seventeen-year-old brother ran out the door towards me.

“Dude,” I said, “let’s thrash this bitch”. For half an hour, we zipped around our square-mile subdivision like crazy men. I floored the throttle and the brake on entry to each corner, as I had read was the practice of the late great Mark Donohue, and exited each one sideways and smoking. Sure, we were doing fifty miles per hour at the most, but it was awesome fun. Then my brother had an idea.

“I should drive.”

“Why not?” I replied. After all, he had six months’ of experience driving a 1993 Jetta. After a few false starts and one very slow-speed bump up a rounded-off curb, he had the hang of it and was going crazy. We were looking at somebody’s lawn through the windshield, totally crossed-up, the tach bouncing wildly around, beeping, buzzing, when BANG! something went wrong. The Mazda coasted to a halt, smoking.

“That’s gotta be bad,” he said. We swapped places and I started the car. It ran, but it was slower than my 1990 Fox and it was smoking copiously. I dropped him off and considered my options. Nobody had actually seen me take the car off the rack. It was possible that nobody would see me put it back on. It was even more possible that nobody would see me pull it into the detail shop. I called Chauncey over.

“Hey man, a bird shit all over this thing.” Chauncey looked at it.

“Where?”

“How should I know? Group manager says clean it, I didn’t look.” That was enough for Chauncey, who cleaned an already clean car and drove it slowly up the ramp. If anybody saw him doing it, they didn’t seem to care. We were not encouraged to take an interest in the operation of the dealership.

I walked up to the front desk in what I believed to be an extremely nonchalant fashion. Our new salesperson was industriously composing a letter to be sent to his contact list of over 600 Columbus bigwigs. He’d created this list one whale at a time as he humbly measured our city’s bankers, judges, and newspaper owners for their 52S three-pieces. It was a killer contact list, believe me. Not a single five-figure loser on it. He walked away to answer the call of nature and I looked at the screen.

Dear [NAME],

My name is (blah blah) and I have recently left (name of clothing shop) to work at (name of Infiniti dealer). As you are aware, I have been associated with the finest in men’s clothing for over a decade and have now chosen to bring my unique perspective to the world of luxury automobiles….

Quick as thought, I replaced “clothing” with “pimping” and stood back to admire my handiwork. Wait ’till he saw this! This was so good, I decided to retreat to a nearby couch and watch as he walked up, scanned the letter…

…and hit PRINT. Six hundred letters, all on creamy paper stock chosen for the occasion, started to roll off the printer. Well, to misquote Harry Chapin, another man might have been sorry, and another man might have been regretful, but another man wouldn’t have replaced “clothing” with “pimping”. I hopped on my Ninja and went out for the second lunch of the day.

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