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By on June 25, 2019

As part of BMW’s big #NEXTGen event, the Vision M Next concept shows what the future of “The Ultimate Driving Machine” will look like. This comes in conjunction with an announcement that the targeted 25 electrified models are being pulled ahead by 2 years, to 2023.

BMW Group’s latest innovations in areas of design, autonomous driving, connectivity, electrification, and services are being showcased at the #NEXTGen event. According to Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design, “the BMW Vision M NEXT demonstrates how state-of-the-art technology can also make the experience of driving yourself purer and more emotionally engaging.” Read More >

By on June 25, 2019

BMW has announced a successor to the popular M235i and M240i Racing models in the form of the M2 Competition. While the first cars are slated for delivery in the second quarter of 2020, they will see their first public race test during round 5 of the VLN Endurance Championship at the Nürburgring on August 3rd, 2019.

The “M235i Racing” customer racing model proved to be highly successful in Europe and the U.S. Introduced to the U.S. in 2016, Toby Grahovec drove his Classic BMW M235iR to the Pirelli World Challenge TC class championship that year. Customer orders were fulfilled in the second half of 2016 and I personally raced one in 2017 for Rooster Hall Racing, securing Rookie of the Year honors that season. Now in their 4th year in the U.S., the SRO TC America class is dominated by the M235iR and M240iR models. In the opening round, 14 of the 17 entrants were in the BMWs. Read More >

By on June 25, 2019

A report surfaced today from Muscle Cars and Trucks, suggesting that the Camaro will not live on to see a seventh generation. Having been sold continuously for the last 10 years, the iconic pony car is not planned to transition to the new A2XX platform. Current product plans forecast production to 2023, but nothing further.

The current sixth-generation Camaro is built on the Alpha platform that was utilized by the outgoing ATC and CTS. The new CT4 and CT5 models are built on an updated version of that platform, dubbed A2XX. While all 3 models will be built alongside each other at the Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant, the Camaro is not slated to receive a redesign to transition onto the newer chassis. Read More >

By on June 25, 2019

Nissan’s planned corporate governance reforms were teetering on the brink of disaster after alliance partner Renault indicated it might abstain from voting on them. The French automaker’s concerns were varied, focusing primarily on a lack of representation from Europe. But some believed Renault was feeling vengeful after Nissan failed to support a merger proposal with Fiat Chrysler and found the Japanese brand’s push for autonomy unsavory. Fortunately, for Nissan, Renault played ball and the reforms passed.

Hiroto Saikawa will likewise retain his position as CEO, despite previous indications that he would step down and claims that he might be too close to Carlos Ghosn to hold the job. Ultimately, Nissan shareholders voted for his reappointment and he promised to carry them boldly into the future while taking some responsibility for the brand’s recent bout of industrial scandals. However Saikawa’s time with the company may be short lived, as he’s already discussing his replacement.
Read More >

By on June 25, 2019

In conjunction with the 24 Hours of Nürburgring this past weekend, Mini presented a lightly-disguised John Cooper Works GP well before its scheduled on-sale date in 2020. With more than 300 horsepower on tap, the new JCW GP is almost half a minute faster than its predecessor around the Nordschleife.

While development tuning is still in process, the JCW GP lapped the “Green Hell” in less than 8 minutes. While that is impressive for any front-wheel-drive hot hatch, it will inevitably be compared to the 7:43.80 that was set by the Civic Type R. Whether it reaches that figure or not, it shares outlandish design style and boy-racer looks with the Type R. Read More >

By on June 25, 2019

2019 Buick Envision front quarter

Around these digital pages, Buick gets a bad rap. Some have negative connotations of Buick as an old person’s car (disclaimer, my paternal grandfather was a Buick man) or hold grudges simply because the brand was continued while Oldsmobile and Pontiac were killed off during the Great Recession (disclaimer, my father was an Oldsmobile man), seems few have good things to say about the division from Flint.

Disclaimer: I hate the theme music from Buick’s TV commercials.

Let’s make a deal, then. Let’s try and ignore the badges on this 2019 Buick Envision for a few minutes. Let’s evaluate this entry-level luxury crossover against the competition, rather than against whatever demons lurk within our collective subconscious.

Read More >

By on June 25, 2019

2018 Suzuki DRZ400sM 2005 Lexus LS430 - Image: © Timothy Cain

You needn’t be an automotive writer to know that when a key is tossed in your direction, you catch it. If it’s the key to a winter-garaged, low-mileage, 2005 Lexus LS430, you grab the key and run.

I rode to a work two weeks ago on the new Suzuki DR-Z400SM with which I replaced my 2013 Scion FR-S. It’s something I do a few times per week. The bike’s fun. It’s a riot. It’s a rip-roaring good time. But it is a process. Want to meet the fam for a hastily arranged early lunch? Once I’m all geared up, I head outside and wait for the carbureted Suzuki to rediscover a happy idle. Gloves on. Cuffs straightened. Helmet cinched. Leg heaved over the lofty supermoto. Many minutes later, I’m finally on my way.

So much for the early lunch.

Two Tuesdays past, however, my good friend Jeff heard me heading out and said, “Hey, take the Lexus.” His dad’s Lexus, that is, and formerly his grandfather’s Lexus. In this moment, I not only entered deeper into the vehicular recesses of an infamous Island clan, I set up an impromptu comparison test the likes of which may never again occur. Read More >

By on June 25, 2019

Italian design house Zagato was featured here recently, when Rare Rides took a look at a reworked Ferrari 348 from 1990. Opinions were mixed, but most found the effort dated and overworked. Today we have a look at another polarizing Zagato Ferrari, this time from the sixties. It’s a 330 GTC from 1967, and it’s quite a looker.

Read More >

By on June 25, 2019

America’s truck wars are in full swing, with torque ratings going though the ceiling and the level of manufacturer braggadocio reaching a fever pitch. Where one goes, the other attempts to stomp.

That level of competition was on full display at last week’s drive event of the new Chevy Silverado HD. With Ram having snatched the torque crown to the tune of 1000lb-ft, The General was quick to point out their trucks accelerated faster despite the difference in twist. Ram, predictably, was quick to clap back.

Read More >

By on June 24, 2019

Mini Cooper 5-door production line Oxford - Image: BMW UK

Like most brands focused on smaller vehicles, Mini is not faring particularly well in the United States and dealers have grown annoyed. Some have even decided to take BMW to court over its handling of the brand, including one owned by former Mini dealer council chair David Peterson.

The allegations? BMW of North America breached its dealership agreement by failing to effectively promote and develop the Mini brand as promised.

Deciding whether or not BMW is truly at fault should prove exceedingly difficult. But Mini is clearly struggling. Over a third of its annual volume goes to the Countryman — its only crossover model. The rest of its sales are broken up between the numerous variations of its iconic small car, which isn’t occupying the “hot segment” at present. With a not-so-diverse lineup and MSRPs better suited to larger vehicles, Mini’s annual sales have been dwindling since 2013 and failed to surpass 45,000 U.S. deliveries in 2018. Unfortunately, 2019 is already on track to be markedly worse. Read More >

By on June 24, 2019

Following rumors that Audi’s E-Tron would have to be delayed due to issues with battery supplier LG Chem and some unforeseen “software development” problems, Volkswagen Group’s plan to build 330,000 electric vehicles per year in Zwickau, Germany, by 2021 appeared to possess a plot hole the size of the Grand Canyon.

The EV problem is not unique to Volkswagen. Other manufacturers hoping to build electric cars have also been struggling with factory retooling, high development costs, and in-demand battery suppliers that are more than willing to change their prices. However VW claims to have solved some of these issues, at least for a while, citing new investments in China and multiple partnerships with battery concerns. Read More >

By on June 24, 2019

2019 Chevrolet Blazer front quarter

As I’ve been reviewing cars for this venerable publication for nearly three years, I’ve noticed how easy it is to become jaded about new cars. While I’m not like some journalists, getting handed keys to six figure exotics every week, I am rather lucky to experience cars on a regular basis that frequently cost more than I’d likely ever spend with my own money.

I’m reminded of this most often when something unusual graces my driveway, and a neighbor strikes up a conversation — or when I’m walking back to the car from the supermarket and someone is waiting to ask about the car. It doesn’t happen often — but this new 2019 Chevrolet Blazer RS seemingly compels conversation.

Plan your trips accordingly.

Read More >

By on June 24, 2019

It’s a question that I often joked about in relation to racing in LeMons competition. The joke being that small fires are normal for $500 crap cans and don’t necessarily warrant a pit stop (this is not actually true). As I stopped the not-a-crapcan GT350 in the pits to have grass cleared from the grille openings, I heard someone yell, “Fire!”

Knowing the probable source of the combustion, there was just one thing to do… drive. Read More >

By on June 24, 2019

1988 Toyota Tercel 4WD wagon in Colorado wrecking yard, RH view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Toyota Tercel 4WD Station Wagon, known in its homeland as the Sprinter Carib, sold very well in Colorado, where I live, and tended to be both reliable and well-loved by owners. I still see them in wrecking yards here, so many that I don’t photograph any but the most interesting. This one in a Denver yard had an impressive-even-by-Toyota-standards odometer reading, so it made the cut for a Junkyard Find. Read More >

By on June 24, 2019

Image: Subaru

Subaru was one of the few automakers experiencing growth going into the Great Recession. When the financial crisis struck in earnest, Subaru’s volume briefly dipped to pre-recession levels before resuming its climb. Thanks largely to an enviable public image and desirable lineup, Subaru’s annual deliveries tripled between 2009 and 2018 inside the United States.

However Subaru’s quality rankings have lapsed in its quest to meet elevated demand. There has been a surge in recalls for the brand and some unsavory claims coming from the factory. According to internal documents seen by Automotive News, one of the primary reasons for this was due to rampant supply chain issues. The papers indicate that nearly half of Subaru’s suppliers were recently operating at quality levels below the company’s internal targets. Subaru is currently overhauling its own production processes and working with suppliers to improve quality and avoid developing a poor reputation with customers.  Read More >

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