Auto blogSat, 18 Oct 2014 19:05:00 EST
Autocar wants to find Britain's best driver's car, and it's challenging a murderers' row of some of the world's best performance vehicles to find out, including the latest Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. All of them were therefore assembled at the Castle Combe Circuit to find a winner.
If it wants to take the crown from this pack of mostly European competitors, the 'Vette has to beat some steep competition. Its challengers include monsters like the Ferrari 458 Speciale, Ariel Atom 3.5R and Jaguar F-Type Coupe. As a further hurdle for the winner to clear, Autocar also has last year's champ among the fighters - the Porsche 911 GT3.
Even if you're not at all interested in the C7, there's still something here for practically any fan of fast cars. The competitors include relative oddities among the pack like the Renault Mégane RS Trophy and Alfa Romeo 4C. Plus, Autocar has some well-positioned microphones that let you hear the Atom wailing like a banshee and the roar of the 458 Speciale. Check out the video to see which one of these all-stars takes home the award this year.
A hot compress felt wonderful on my sore back. The methodical kneading of my shoulder blades loosened the knots that formed over several hours of driving. The Swedish-style pulses firing into my lumbar region released more tension.
I wasn't getting a much-needed massage following a recent road trip. I was getting it during the road trip.
I grew up riding in the back seat of a 1976 Chevy Nova. But once you use these lux features, it's easy to go soft.
Carbon fiber has been utilized for decades to build racecars, as a means to cut weight while maintaining strength. But until recently, the space-age material has been largely absent from the street on anything but supercars because of the expense to use it. Recently, BMW signaled a major shift in that trend when it starting using carbon fiber reinforced plastic panels on the i3 and i8. This relatively small scale start might be just the beginning; the German company believes that a breakthrough to inexpensively manufacture the lightweight stuff is just on the horizon.
MAI Carbon Cluster Management GmbH counts BMW, Audi, Airbus, the German government and many other organizations as supporters, and it's researching how to make carbon fiber cheaper to produce, according to Automotive News Europe. The company thinks it can reduce costs by 90 percent in the near future. "We've certainly reached a halfway point on our cost-cutting target for suitable carbon-fiber parts," said project head Klaus Drechsler to Automotive News Europe.
Unfortunately, it isn't entirely clear just what MAI Carbon is doing to make such a huge leap possible. However, a recent post on the company's website talks about a new form a carbon fiber using a thermoplastic matrix that could be cured in less than three minutes. That's compared to about 90 minutes in the traditional process with an autoclave.
More high-quality documentaries about the history of motorsports are always welcome. When thinking about racing, we generally focus on moving forward to go a little faster or shave a tenth of a second off a lap. There's not much time to look backward. It's too bad, because there are so many fantastic stories from the sport's history. Thankfully, an upcoming doc is taking on the challenge of telling some of these tales, and it looks like a movie not to miss, especially for BMW fans.
Adrenalin - The BMW Touring Car Story mixes high-quality, vintage footage with new interviews from many of the drivers of these machines to craft what looks like a fantastic experience. Covering the period from the '60s to the modern DTM era, just the trailer shows racing from the 2002, 3.0 CSL and of course the E30 chassis M3 of the '80s. You also get to hear from legends behind the wheel like Hans-Joachim Stuck, Johnny Cecotto and Joachim Winkelhock telling their stories.
Adrenalin comes out in November on DVD, Blu-Ray and on-demand. Check out its trailer above for a taste at what it's aiming for. The documentary definitely looks like one to watch.
Most everyone would agree that BMW offers a range of very attractive and well-proportioned coupes, sedans, crossovers and wagons. Yet there is one member of its family that has always struck us as a bit odd: the X6.
Proudly coined "The world's first Sports Activity Coupe" by its German maker, the X6 features a wedge-shaped body with a characteristic sloping roofline that appears to squash the heads of its second-row occupants. The crossover rides high off the ground, with a pronounced gap between its chassis and oversized wheel/tire package, capped by short overhangs on both ends. Although curious to the eyes, its overall styling is masculine, and its stance aggressive.
Whether you consider the X6 to be attractive or an eyesore - opinions seem about equally divided - there is nobody at BMW questioning its business model. As of today, the automaker has sold more than 260,000 copies of its five-door crossover, which is why it has flown us to Spartanburg, SC, to sample its second-generation 2015 BMW X6.
The BMW i3 has been hailed in some quarters as the future of electric mobility, what with its innovative carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic body and commitment to sustainable materials wherever possible. The modernist little hatch is even available with a 650cc two-cylinder gas engine with 34 horsepower to act as a range-extender for those who want it. However, that optional engine might have a drawback - at least for the moment.
Consumer Reports brought the problem to light when one of its drivers was behind the wheel of an i3 using the range-extender. When the driver attempted to pass another vehicle on a rolling, two-lane road, the BMW suddenly had no power to accelerate - a scary situation. CR started examining the car and found something pretty shocking: After driving at a constant speed for a while without any regenerative braking in range-extended mode, acceleration to 60 miles per hour plummeted from about 9 seconds normally to a staggering 27 to 40 seconds in their testing.
A BMW spokesperson told CR that it knows about the problem and has a fix coming next spring that also works on current models. The upgrade includes a state of charge indicator, a warning about loss of power and uses the car's navigation to boost the battery before driving on rolling terrain. It is not clear if the severe power deficiency will also eventually result in a recall.
The last time I roped a coworker into an automotive debate, I lost. Resoundingly, I might add. Still, 2,385 voters chose to cast their lots for the Fiat 500 Abarth, as opposed to 5,273 choosing the Ford Fiesta ST, and so I can rest easy in the knowledge that at least 30 percent of you, dear readers, see things my way. I still like to think we have more fun, too.
My loss in the first round of our This or That series, in which two Autoblog editors pick sides on any given topic and then attempt to explain why the other is completely wrong, didn't stop me from picking another good-natured fight, this time with Senior Editor Seyth Miersma. Last time, our chosen sides were eerily similar in design, albeit quite different in actual execution. This time, our vehicular peculiarities couldn't seemingly fall any further from one another: A 1980 Oldsmobile 442 wouldn't seem to match up in comparison to a 1989 BMW 635CSi.
How did we come up with such disparate contenders? Simple, really. Seyth and I mutually agreed to choose a car that's currently for sale online. It had to be built and sold in the 1980s, and it had to be a coupe. The price cap was set at $10,000. The fruits of our searching labors will henceforth be disputed, with Seyth on the side of the Germans, and myself arguing in favor of the Rocket Olds. Am I setting myself up for another lopsided loss?
There's going to be a little bit more Prancing Horse in some future BMWs because the Bavarian brand is hiring Ferrari chief engineer Roberto Fedeli to join the company in November. Fedeli's new position is still somewhat of a mystery though, and he reportedly might be lending his talents to the high performance M division or possibly even Rolls-Royce. When asked by Automotive News Europe, BMW said that it "currently can't say what his role will be."
Regardless of his new job, Fedeli was a big get for BMW because of his strong résumé. He has been with Ferrari since 1988 and led the engineering for the famous Italian automaker's vehicles since 2007. Fedeli tendered his resignation in September at around the same time that chairman Luca di Montezemolo announced his decision to leave the company. However, Ferrari told ANE that there was no connection between the two events.
Say what you will about the BMW X6 - odd and ugly as it may be, it's actually been sort of successful for the German automaker. BMW has now sold some 250,000 examples of the X6 since its launch, and the company's fastback-crossover-coupe-whatever-thing gets a host of meaningful updates for the 2015 model year while not straying from its original mission.
Aside from its revised styling, most noticeably set apart by its larger, X5-inspired headlamps, the biggest update for the US-spec X6 is the addition of a rear-wheel-drive model, the sDrive35i. This trim joins the all-wheel-drive xDrive35i and xDrive50i, and since you should all be capable of decoding BMW's weird naming structure by now, you know this means the X6 will be offered with a choice of 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder and twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 engines. Fuel economy figures have not been released yet, but BMW says the new powertrains are more efficient than before, mated exclusively to an eight-speed automatic transmission regardless of cylinder count.
Look for the updated X6 to hit US showrooms this fall, following its debut this week in Paris. Expect pricing to be revealed closer to the model's on-sale date. Have a look below for all of the details.
Early next year, BMW will offer droptop versions of its entry-level 2 Series. Available in both 228i and M235i guise, the 2 Series Cabriolet will no doubt take everything we already like (and don't like) about the Twoer and add that wind-in-your-hair experience. Of course, taking in all the extra sun comes at a price - $37,900 for the 228i and $47,700 for the M235i, not including $950 for destination. Those prices represent increases of $5,800 and $4,600, respectively.
Powertrain specs are identical to the coupes, with the 228i powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four good for 240 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. The more potent M235i gets BMW's turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline-six, with 320 hp and 330 lb-ft of push, and can hit 60 miles per hour in 4.8 seconds. That's with the eight-speed automatic transmission, which is available with either engine. And for those who prefer to row their own, BMW will thankfully offer a six-speed manual gearbox with both powerplants, as well.
Following the Paris Motor Show unveiling, the pair will be shown in the US at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November before hitting dealers a few months later. Have a look at the new droptop in our fresh batch of images live from the Porte de Versailles exhibition center, and read BMW's lengthy press blast, below, for all of the official information.