Compact 228i gives BMW a true entry-level model …
Back in the day, less than 20 years ago, BMW was known for its 3 Series compact sport sedans and coupes. They were cute, taut, models that were meant to introduce enthusiast drivers to the Bavarian automaker’s wares.
The 3 Series was an entry-level sportster that with some budget stretching, maybe selling some of your favorite vinyl or the kid’s Cabbage Patch dolls (but not one of your kidneys), you could afford.
Things change and cars always grow. So now the 3 Series is less compact and less affordable. But not to fret, BMW now has the 2 Series, which is what the 3 Series was as recently as the mid-2000s. The 2 is compact, riding on a 105.1-inch wheelbase, is just 178.5 inches long and starts at a modest (for BMW) $36,295 for the coupe. Continue reading 2020 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe
Edge’s new turbo and tranny provide crossover zip …
Ford revamps and upgrades its popular Edge mid-size crossover for 2019, discarding its V6 for a twin-turbo I4 and a new 8-speed automatic transmission.
The result is a fairly peppy crossover that will easily haul five adults with oodles of rear seat legroom and equally expansive cargo area. Continue reading 2019 Ford Edge Titanium AWD
BMW’s M550i a hot, but sophisticated, rocket! …
BMW 5 Series sedans still rock.
I know I about drooled myself silly praising the BMW 530e xDrive I tested about six weeks ago. I lauded it as epitomizing BMW’s motto of The Ultimate Driving Machine, and I still believe that. But …
Along comes its sister sport sedan, the M550i xDrive, and well, my lather has returned. That’s because in place of the silky smooth plug-in hybrid system of the 530e, with its 248-horse twin-turbo I4 and electric hybrid system, the 550 drops in a throbbing V8. Yes, this one has a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 that creates — hold on — 456 horsepower. Continue reading 2018 BMW M550i xDrive
BMW 530e hybrid defines ‘ultimate driving machine’ …
The 530e sedan defines why BMW can justifiably lay claim to building the “ultimate driving machine.”
This plug-in hybrid exudes everything one would want from a luxury car, with the added benefit of a hybrid system. Continue reading 2018 BMW 530e xDrive iPerformance
MINI’s Countryman is bigger, not necessarily better …
The new MINI Cooper Countryman goes too far, but maybe that’s what U.S. buyers want.
It’s the biggest MINI yet. I know that sounds contradictory for the small British-born make now made by BMW. But it’s true. This is MINI’s version of a crossover or small sport-ute with a longer and wider body, plus ALL4, its all-wheel-drive system is available.
It also appears to be less MINI in styling as it looks more bulky than cute. Think of that cute guy/girl in high school that packed on a few pounds by the 10-year reunion. In fact, the Countryman is just short of 500 lbs. heavier than the MINI Clubman that I enjoyed last year.
To put it nicely, the Countryman feels more substantial than earlier models and obviously is designed to accommodate larger U.S. passengers. The Countryman gains four inches of rear seat legroom compared to its predecessor and being a 4-door it’s easy to load five people aboard. I did it on a lunch run and one of the riders was a 6-footer.
So while the MINI-ness of the Countryman seems a bit of a stretch (pun intended), the usefulness of it should make it more attractive to folks who intend to actually haul a family in it on a trip. Another family plus? The rear seats fold down flat in a 40/20/40 split to expand the generous 17.6 cubic feet of cargo space, but allow rear seat riders. Likewise the seats will recline slightly and the entire rear seat will slide forward a couple inches if you’re simply carrying cargo, not rear seat passengers. Continue reading 2017 MINI Cooper S Countryman All4
Pikes Peak rally car a sexy winged warrior …
I have to admit that European rally cars, the little high-powered mini racers with big engines and wings to match, fascinate me visually. They look tough and aggressive and fast and fun.
Now Autoart releases a sharp all black 1/18 scale version of the Peugeot 208 T16 that was raced up Pikes Peak here in the U.S. in 2013. It looks like it rocks with a giant wing on an equally giant pedestal and with tires so fat they look like they’d hold on to any road even if the car were upside down.
This is a beautiful little beast! Here’s the story on it.
Rally superstar Sebastien Loeb (9 titles) was chosen to run this custom built Peugeot up Colorado’s Pikes Peak in 2013 to challenge the record time of 9:46.164 set a year earlier by Rhys Millen. Loeb crushed it, making the 19.9 km run in 8:13.878.
The French Peugeot had to straighten 156 corners while climbing to Pikes Peak’s summit. The video is amazing (insert it), as there is no guard rail along the route that the likes of Bobby Unser and most of the other Unser clan have proven themselves champions through the years. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart’s 2013 Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak
Genesis has it all, but the panache and name …
When Toyota launched Lexus in 1989, its first sedans impersonated Mercedes-Benz models, but cost a lot less. Now Hyundai has launched its impressive new Genesis luxury car lineup with two models and the top-level G90 looks like a Bentley. Even its logo resembles that of the British make.
Again the formula is to create a car that visually screams luxury while undercutting the original by thousands of dollars. To be sure the new G90 competes mostly with the large Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Lexus and Cadillac sedans. But if you could convince your neighbors you were driving a Bentley, yet only spent $70 grand or so, well, you just might try.
That’s what Hyundai is betting on, just as Lexus did before it.
Certainly the G90 is impressive and dressed in Caspian Black, a metallic black paint job, the tested rear-drive Ultimate model turned heads. People asked what it was. Genesis didn’t ring any bells.
But it may soon. Along with this 5.0-liter, 420-horse, V6-powered G90 Genesis offers the G80 with a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 that creates a substantial 365 horsepower. Both models are rear-wheel drive, but offer all-wheel-drive versions too. Continue reading 2017 Genesis G90 RWD 5.0 Ultimate
New Q60 emphasizes performance, but ride suffers …
Driving similar cars back to back puts both into perspective, an unfortunate turn for the sporty Infiniti Q60.
I’d driven the Mercedes-Benz C300 coupe with 4Matic, its all-wheel-drive system, the week before I slipped behind the wheel of the new Q60, which replaces the fine G37 in Infiniti’s lineup.
The Benz and Infiniti are nearly identical in profile, length and wheelbase. But the Infiniti’s ride, no matter the Drive Mode, was inferior, and by that I mean harsh. The Infiniti felt like I was driving on square tires from time to time when the road surfaces turned crumbly. If you live in a southern clime, or California, where smooth blacktop is prevalent, this wouldn’t be an issue. In the Midwest it’s an issue.
Like the Mercedes, the Infiniti is strong on power and handling. This is a luxury sport coupe with the emphasis on sport, so it actually feels sportier than the Benz. It packs more punch with its 3.0-liter V6 with twin turbos. It’ll crank 300 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. It feels powerful from the get-go and will zip away from a stoplight with help from its 7-speed automatic that allows for rev-matching manual downshifts. The Infiniti is fun from a performance aspect.
Handling likewise is fairly firm in all modes and precise so the driver feels in total control. There’s even an all-wheel-drive system on the Premium model I drove, or you can go with the standard rear-drive. This AWD system did not seem to keep the car from spinning its wheels under heavy power on wet pavement as well as the C300 though. Continue reading 2017 Infiniti Q60 Premium AWD
CTS Vsport kicks butt on the sport luxury sedan front
Cadillac is beyond just being back, it’s now about kickin’ butt and takin’ numbers.
First, unlike most sporty luxury brands, Cadillacs now exude style. The new CTS is the beauty queen of luxury sport sedans leaving others only to compete for Miss Congeniality.
CTS’s well chiseled profile with long, wide hood and big mouthy grille give it some panache. But those vertical taillights that carry over from previous models, some dating back to the 1960s, plus the big headlights that extend back into the slender fenders give it an athletic presence – think pro athlete in a fitted Ralph Lauren suit.
Beyond the edgy styling that catches a potential buyer’s eye, Cadillac continues to deliver performance and luxury in equal doses.
The tested CTS Vsport, the top-level model, now boasts a 420-horse twin-turbo V6. The 3.6-liter unit earns a torque rating of 430 that reportedly pushes the rear-drive sedan to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. Power is readily available and smoothly delivered with Caddy’s first 8-speed automatic, which offers a manual mode and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
Ride is comfortable too with GM’s magnetic ride control and a performance suspension that provides a firm, well-controlled ride. Plus CTS offers four driving modes, selected via a switch on the console between the front seats. Touring is for everyday driving and smoothes the ride while offering responsive steering. This would do for most of us 90-95% of the time. Continue reading 2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport
A Volvo wagon (crossover) with style, luxury? YES!
Volvo has been a master of wagons for decades, its sturdy boxy 240s setting the standard for boring (yet safe) upscale suburban transport.
So it’s no surprise when its tall wagons, the XC crossover vehicles push that bar higher and give the Lexus RX 350 a run for its money. It may surprise you though, that the XC models do so with a good deal of style and luxury. Adios boxy!
The tested XC60’s shoulders are broad and well sculpted and the taillights tall and balanced above sensuously curved rear haunches. This is more Venus in ivory than corrugated box, and a welcome styling change. Continue reading 2013 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD