June 21, 2005

Best of the Best

The Ferrari F430 was chosen as the top sports car for the 2005 Robb Report 17th annual Best of the Best special edition.

Ferrari's new F430, a mid-engine sports car powered by a 490-horsepower 4.3-liter V8 engine, was top choice in the Sports Car category. Paul Dean, Robb Report editor-at-large, described the F430 as "the finest Ferrari ever built, and maybe the world's best sports car ever."

The Aston Martin DB9 was named the Robb Report's 2005 Car of the Year, and was chosen as "Best of the Best" in the GTs and Coupes category. According to Dean the DB9 is "the finest of the new Aston Martins built to whisper of past glories without displaying an obsession with them."

"Best of the Best" in the sedan category was the Merecedes-Benz CLS55 AMG, the high-performance AMG version of the new sedan with a coupe-like profile, powered by a 469-horsepower supercharged 5.4-liter V8 engine. Brett Anderson, Robb Report senior vice president of editorial, summarized the CLS55 as the "perfect amalgamation of style, strength, subtlety and pure mind-numbing fun."

In the Sport-Utility Vehicles category, the new Land Rover Range Rover Sport was the top choice—the first Land Rover with an emphasis on handling and on-road performance. Range Rover Sport's off-road capability "remains an industry standard," according to Dean, "and the on-road performance is designed to match and maybe even surpass that of BMW's X5, Porsche's Cayenne Turbo and any member of Mercedes' M-Class."

06:08 AM in BMW, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, News, Porsche | Permalink

April 28, 2005

MINI Is Most-Improved Brand In Customer Satisfaction

UK motorists rate MINI the most-improved brand in the J.D. Power and Associates/What Car? magazine 2005 Car Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) StudySM released today, and luxury Japanese brand Lexus tops the overall rankings for the fifth consecutive year.

MINI, which is included in the study for only the second year, is the most-improved brand with an increase of 19 index points in its total score, taking it to sixth place in the overall rankings. Owners of the MINI, built in Oxford, report substantial improvements in the brand’s quality and reliability. MINI is one of five British-built cars in the Top 20, matching the number of Japanese-built models ranked at the top of the study.


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06:29 AM in BMW, MINI | Permalink

March 25, 2005

BMW Z4 3.0I

The word “strange” comes instantly to mind when you look at the BMW Z4. What else could anyone think of the odd collection of lines, bumps, and creases woven throughout the body of this roadster? It’s not pretty, nor is it ugly.

BMW did a complete redo of its simple Z3 roadster in 2003. Along with the sheetmetal changes came a new multilink rear suspension from the 3-series that made the sports car a much nimbler handler in the corners than the skittish Z3 it replaced. We decided a long-term test would be a good way to see if the Z4, unlike the retro Z3, was a true premium sports car, and if we might grow fonder of its unconventionally designed exterior.


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06:06 AM in BMW | Permalink

March 10, 2005

2005 BMW X5

The X5 represents BMW's first foray into the popular sport-utility-vehicle marketplace. Billed as a "Sports Activity Vehicle" by its maker, the X5 is designed to handle like a true BMW. The X5 was unveiled in Detroit at the 1999 North American International Auto Show. By the end of its second model year, the X5 became BMW's second best selling series.
New for 2005
Automatic climate control and Dark Poplar wood trim are both now standard on the X5 3.0i, with Light Poplar and Maple Anthracite optional at no additional cost. Park Distance Control is now standard on the X5 4.4i.
Engines 3.0L 225 hp I6
4.4L 315 hp V8
4.8L 355 hp V8
Transmissions 5-Speed Automatic Overdrive
6-Speed Manual Overdrive

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06:01 AM in BMW | Permalink

February 14, 2005

2006 BMW 3-Series

BMW will move the 3-Series into its fifth generation next spring with its world debut in Geneva, followed by its North American debut at the New York Auto Show.

Two inline 6-cylinder engines will be available, the larger 3.0-liter version producing 255 horsepower—an increase of 30 horses over the current generation. This engine is also the first 6-cylinder to use BMW VALVETRONIC. With infinitely variable valve lift in place of the traditional throttle butterfly, this system improves both throttle response and fuel efficiency. Like previous BMW VALVETRONIC engines, the gains in both horsepower and fuel economy are impressive. In the case of the 330i, horsepower increases by 13 percent, while fuel consumption decreases by 12 percent.

Both models will be offered with a choice of a standard 6-speed manual transmission or optional 6-speed automatic transmission. Also availble is BMW’s unique Active Steering system. This provides a more direct steering ratio at low speeds for greater maneuverability with a progressively less direct ratio as vehicle speed increases.

The new 3-Series is larger than its predecessor, and it has been designed for greater stiffness, leading to improved comfort and safety. A new joint and crossbar concept for the car's load-bearing structure increases body stiffness by 25 percent without increasing the car's weight.

BMW's controversial I-Drive will be an available option on the new 3-Series.

06:04 AM in BMW | Permalink

January 12, 2005

The City of Angels has officially kicked off the auto-show season

As the first major auto show of the year, L.A. gives us a glimpse of what we can expect from the new year. And from what’s been unveiled in L.A., 2005 looks like it’ll be an excellent auto-show year. New and exciting vehicle introductions include the world debuts of the Ford Mustang Convertible, the Bentley Arnage Drophead Coupe, the Pontiac G6 Convertible, and the Volkswagen Jetta, as well as notable North American debuts including the Audi A3 Sportback, the BMW M3 Competition Package, the Mazdaspeed 6, and the Mercedes-Benz CLS55 AMG.


06:11 AM in Audi, BMW, News | Permalink

January 11, 2005

Top Luxury Cars

The Acura TL takes over the top spot as the most popular luxury car among shoppers on MSN Autos.

The most popular luxury cars on MSN Autos, based on visits to the site's vehicle pages during the third quarter of 2004.

The Acura TL topped the list of the luxury cars most popular with MSN shoppers for the third quarter of 2004, taking the top position away from the BMW 3-Series. The Infiniti G35, which was new for 2003, rounded out the top three.

BMW placed three cars on the list with the redesigned 5-Series and the flagship 7-Series also making the cut.

The list of the top ten luxury cars on MSN Autos is based on total visits to the site's vehicle research pages during the third quarter of 2004. Here is the complete list:

1. Acura TL
The TL sport sedan was completely new for 2004, with updated styling, a refined chassis and a 3.2-liter 270-horsepower V6 engine teamed with an available 6-speed manual transmission. A DVD-Audio surround sound audio system and Bluetooth wireless phone connectivity are standard.

2. BMW 3-Series
Descendant of the mid-'60s 1600, the BMW 3-Series is considered by automotive enthusiasts to be the first compact sedan offering sports car performance. For 2004, 3-Series coupes and convertibles feature new front and rear styling and a 6-speed manual transmission replaces the 5-speed on 330 trims. A 6-speed Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG) is available on all rear-wheel-drive trims. Look for an all-new 3-Series arriving sometime next year.

3. Infiniti G35
A new addition to the Infiniti lineup for the 2003 model year, the G35 Sport Sedan went on sale in March 2002. The four-passenger G35 Sport Coupe joined the lineup later that year. Both the coupe and sedan are front-engine/rear-wheel-drive platforms with fresh, crisp designs and advanced technology aimed at driving enthusiasts. The 3.5-liter V6 produces 260 horsepower in the sedan and 280 horsepower in the coupe.

4. BMW 5-Series
The 5-Series was completely redesigned for 2004 with unique exterior styling that draws from the 7-Series, as well as the controversial I-Drive system. The new 5-Series is larger but lighter than the previous generation due to extensive use of aluminum. The 545i is powered by a 325-horsepower V8, with the 525i and 530i powered by inline 6-cylinder powerplants. Available technology includes active steering, which varies the steering ratio based on vehicle speed, steering angle and other factors.

5. Bentley Continental GT
The Continental GT is the first model to come out of Bentley Motor Cars, Ltd., the new company that was formed on September 17, 2002, ending a 70-year partnership with Rolls-Royce. Priced around $150,000 (inexpensive for a Bentley), the Continental GT is a stunning 2-door, 4-seat coupe. The first Bentley to offer all-wheel drive, this high-performance coupe boasts a 552-horsepower engine and a claimed top speed close to 200 mph.

6. Maybach
Maybachs were originally built for high society and were the most expensive models of their time, selling 1,800 units between 1921 and 1941. In 2004, Mercedes-Benz brought back the Maybach name on this ultra-luxury car that the company refers to as "a business jet on wheels." Seats recline with integrated footrests; a panorama roof can electronically go from transparent to opaque; and champagne can be stored in the chilled compartment between the rear seats.

06:11 AM in Acura, BMW, Luxury Cars | Permalink

January 06, 2005

BMW 1 Series Gets 360-Degree Vision

All BMW 1 Series models can be specified with Park Distance Control to ensure ease of parking and manoeuvrability. For added peace of mind, owners can now opt for a rear view camera for true 360-degree visibility.

Activated when reverse gear is selected, the wide-angle lens camera is mounted in the rear bumper giving a clear view of the area behind the car. For cars specified with iDrive, images are displayed in the on-board monitor and those without iDrive use an additional monitor in place of a central air vent. Pricing for a car with iDrive is £339 (excluding fitment) and for those without, the price is £638.

06:07 AM in BMW | Permalink

December 14, 2004

BMW sales keep on rising

German carmaker BMW has posted its 10th consecutive month of rising group car sales in November, helped by demand for new models like the compact 1-Series, remaining a nose ahead of arch-rival Mercedes in 2004.

BMW group car deliveries increased 7.3 percent versus the year-earlier month to 104,425 units, while sales for the first 11 months totalled 1.09 million vehicles, up 8.6 percent from a year ago and nearly matching its total for all of 2003.

"With these figures, our goal for the year of increasing our sales by a high-single-digit percentage at group level is now within our reach," sales and marketing chief Michael Ganal said in a statement.

Shares in BMW rose 2.3 percent in morning trade on Wednesday making it the second biggest gainer in the DJ Stoxx European autos index after Porsche, which added 3.2 percent after it reported higher sales for four months.

Sales of the sleek and muscular core BMW brand models rose 7 percent to 89,715 units, while deliveries of its urban chic Mini brand compacts increased 9.4 percent to 14,630.


06:09 AM in BMW | Permalink

December 03, 2004

Sweet MINI Chariot

On Monday 22 November, MINI’s rock-solid desirability increased seven-fold. At a London charity event commemorating England’s Rugby World Cup victory a red MINI Cooper was auctioned for a staggering £90,000, over seven times its list price. The event to celebrate the anniversary was attended by the England rugby squad and over 20 players signed the St George’s flag roof, contributing in a small way to the increased valuation!

The evening was organised by ex-England players Kyran Bracken and Paul Grayson to raise funds for their chosen charities and testimonial season.

MINI dealership Specialist Cars Ltd in Stevenage provided the MINI. Dealer Principal, Clive Fletcher, said: "We have had a relationship with Kyran’s club, Saracens, for over 10 years and were pleased to be able to help with his fund-raising. Equally, it was great to have a MINI celebration of England’s superb performance in winning the World Cup."

The new owner of the autographed MINI Cooper is a supporter of the Northampton Saints rugby team where Paul Grayson has recently taken on a new role as coach after playing for the club for many years.

The auction raised over £200,000 and the MINI was the highest bid of the evening. With all the autographs protected from the elements (and the odd carwash) by a clear lacquer, its residual value is expected to remain intact.

Two charities that will benefit from the evening are the Wooden Spoon Society, rugby’s own charity that supports disadvantaged children and the Saints Benevolent Fund.

06:05 AM in BMW, MINI | Permalink