BMW’s New Toy…

 

They call it the “i8 Concept Spyder”, and it’s looks are impressive. I’m not going to bore you with the eco-hype that has been “built-in” to this car, because it’s a concept, and concepts almost never see production… At least not in the same form as the concept itself. Sure, some technology moves into production, but most of the hyper-futuristic whatnot gets cut in favor of cheaper solutions.

The imagery of the car is stunning in a lot of ways, except that weird indented backside. I think that kind of destroys the look in the rear.

The interior features some interesting choices, and not all of them are good ones. I’m not sure where the idea to put shift-knobs in the way of screens came from, but that person should be shot. There is no reason why it has to be so scrunched up like that. Move it back  and fill that giant swoosh through the middle, this way the climate control can be managed by a driver, even when there’s no passenger in the vehicle.

I am not sure whether I like the guages and displays or not. On the one hand, they are very gadgety, which I like. on the other, the gauges seem oddly shaped, and the other screens are just in odd positions. It appears that the colors can either be changed, or turn orange after you reach a certain speed.

 

Overall, I like it… Wouldn’t buy one though.

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Driving on public roads…

There must be a full moon, or something! For the last two days I have had cars behaving extremely stupid around me. I’m not sure if the fumes from the mill are starting to drain the motor-skills out of people around here, or if it’s just some vast conspiracy to try and destroy my car.

A Big Mac combo meal with French fries and Coc...

How can people eat all this?

The best one was in front of the McDonald’s. I was travelling north, and signaled that I would be turning in, I needed my coffee fix. There was a guy (in a purple Chrysler Town & Country mini-van) sitting at the exit to the McDonald’s to my left who LOOKED RIGHT AT ME, then proceeded to dart out into the road like I wasn’t even there. If I had not slammed on my brakes, he would have speared me into oblivion.

In almost every crime of monumental idiocy, it was a douche in a mini-van that committed it. Maybe the Mini-Van-Mafia is resorting to extreme measures to maintain it’s memberships… Now they just want to destroy every car that isn’t a mini-van.

Foreign companies' cell phones, such as Motoro...

Really, the world will not end if you miss one damned text!

The rest were just random other types of vehicles, this makes me wonder if people are just too busy focusing on their cell-phones. Cells are now held in much the same way a criminal would hold a gun while driving down the road, passing a cop they don’t want to alert. Below the window line, but still in hand, and requiring constant visual confirmation that it hasn’t somehow fallen apart. The state banned cell-phones while driving, and PEOPLE ACTUALLY DRIVE WORSE!

Sunday Stupidity…

I think these pictures speak for themselves! I really don’t understand what kind of parenting brings you to do this to something you spent your hard-earned (or ill-earned) money on… Maybe it’s the exhaust fumes.

I wonder if they think that actually makes the car any quieter.

Image

I really, I mean REALLY, hope this is a Photoshop job.

I actually laughed! Would it even be possible to get any more pointless?

Cars in the Cloud!

Mercedes ©

Mercedes “mbrace 2”

Mercedes-Benz Apps

Creating a truly networked vehicle, mbrace2 offers not only open internet access, but special versions of popular apps — including Facebook, Yelp and Google Local Search — designed specifically for in-vehicle use. And because it connects the car and the “cloud”, the system can be upgraded whenever new software and applications become available.

Do we really need this? A “nag-screen” popping up about some advertised food-chain, while we’re trying to navigate 6 lanes of traffic… In the snow…. While we’re talking on the cell phone… And arguing with the kid in the back seat!!

Have we taken this whole cloud idea and gone too far? I say yes. We can no longer escape it. With government bills that could potentially censor the internet (S.O.P.A.) coming at us faster than we can keep up, and the constant need to have some kind of a screen in front of our faces 24/7. No, the robots aren’t going to ever rise up and take the planet from us, because we will die of boredom, and stupidity long before that can happen.

English: UK flagship McDonald's restaurant.

Those of us who don’t die in a fireball will get so sick of seeing the same 10 “targeted” Google ads EVERYWHERE we go, that we’ll destroy our electronics and opt for a life living off what’s left of nature. When the screen pops up to tell you about a restaurant, it won’t be for some new Chinese place, it’ll be for the McDonald’s that you know was there since 1973. Why? Because McDonald’s will pay to make sure you see their nag screen before Sho’s China Wok.

Google’s ads don’t work the way they’re supposed to anyway. Back in October, all I saw were ads for games I already owned, or had already pre-ordered. Can you guess what I see now? Sony Vaio ads. Not just any Vaio though, but the very same model I bought. The same laptop I did a review on. Does Google think I need two of them?

Combine that with a smaller internet experience due to YouTube and Flickr being shut down over copyright crap with the usual suspects, and we will ALWAYS see the same results in our searches. Search for laptops, get info on the one you already bought, from the manufacturer’s website. No independent reviews, because that could be construed as infringement, or at least called as such because the company didn’t like what you had to say.

Person using cell phone while driving.

We are driving ourselves off the electronic cliff people. Wake up and smell the real roses. There are times when you SHOULDN’T have internet access, and one of those times is when you’re driving down the road!

Picture all the rich teenage girls; driving down the road, and one of their friends makes a Facebook post to the tune of: “OMG!!! Bobby kissed Tina!!” How do you think that is going to end when she’s driving 80-mph on the loop?

Detroit Auto-Show: GM Surprise.

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As you can see above, there is a new player in the Cadillac lineup. Now, you may be wondering why I focused on this car first with all the other things unveiled in Detroit. To that I say; we don’t need ANOTHER Porsche 911, Acura lost it’s edge a long time ago and it’s perhaps too late to recover, and the Bently Continental is still ugly. I will feature some other vehicles in another post, but this model in particular deserves a feature.

The Cadillac ATS (no idea what that means, but one could correctly surmise that it’s a small version of a CTS) is the herald of a new era in American automotive design, a direction we needed to take long, long, LONG ago. In the 70’s there was a rather unexciting BMW introduced. It was small, not very bold looking, and only looked good in silver or black. The 3 series came to America and took Yuppies by storm. In the decades since we have seen this, once lack-luster, model grow up and become the powerhouse behind BMW’s growth. The X-factor was the idea that a car should be fun to drive, rather than large and imposing. BMW devotes countless man-hours engineering the way the 3 series drives.

Many manufacturers, including Cadillac, have tried to capture some of the 3-series market, and most have fallen on their proverbial faces. They failed to see the X-factor. They built small cars, large cars, tall cars, short cars, convertibles, coupes, sedans, and everything else you can think of. They marketed all of them as competition for the 3-series, and their lies were painfully obvious. Why could none of these manufacturers see that it was about having fun? Behind all the wood, and fancy body panels, the BMW is about fun. Maybe it’s because “we” see driving as a chore. Something we have to do to get to work, not something to do just for the sake of doing it. If this were so true, then why is there such a market for these small and sporty Mercedes, BMW, and Lexus sedans? The obvious answer is that they are bought by people who can’t afford the bigger versions (5-series for one.) This may be true for some, but I think most buyers in this entry-level luxury class are looking for a driving experience. If not, they could have saved some money and bought a boring Lincoln.

Many people ask me why I drive a Saab. My answer, every time, is “it’s fun.” I have driven many many cars since I bought my Saab, and none have made me actually consider selling my Saab to get one. At least, none except BMW, and Mercedes… I think a lot of that comes from the fact that the Saab is front-wheel-drive. Despite the responsive turbo, and superior mid-range acceleration, It limits it’s own driving potential with the heavy front end, and slight understeer.

The ATS design was influenced by what makes almost all European cars more fun to drive. They shortened the car, shaved loads of weight, and actually spent time on a suspension system that could be responsive. This is bright news for people like me, people who enjoy going on a drive, just “to go for a drive.” People who have a passion that is often shunned in America. It is seen as “unusual” to actually want to get off the Interstates, and choose the back roads of Pennsylvania, Tennessee, or western Colorado. The twisting, winding, rising, falling, wonderland that most people in America see as annoying, and time-consuming. I find a long drive on the Interstate to be about as fun as pulling out my own teeth, with a jack-hammer.

I can honestly say that I look forward to seeing this car at a dealership near me, so I can get my hands on one, and see if all the hype is well deserved.

Here’s the highlights on the new ATS:

Suspension:
GM developed an all-new Five-link independent rear suspension, just for this car; which will become the “scale-able” base for RWD platforms GM will produce in the future. There are two suspension options for drivers to enjoy. The “FE2” and “FE3″ will be terms that come up often in the GM future, I predict. The FE2 package comes standard with 17” wheels surrounded by all-season tires, though you can get the “sport package” which changes to 18″ wheels, all-season tires, and Brembo premium brakes. The FE3 option comes standard with 18″ wheels (though, only summer-tires) Brembo premium brakes, and MR variable dampers (Touring, and Sport modes.) The FE3 will also feature wider tires in the rear, which will be something to remember when going to buy the all-season, or winter tires you didn’t get from the factory. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that the FE3 was tuned on the Nürburgring. For those who don’t already know, the Nürburgring is the world’s longest track, boasting over 140 corners, and is the place where the likes of Aston Martin, BMW, Mercedes, and Lexus, test their new sporting models. It is literally a “ring” around the area of Nürburg, Germany.

Three engine options:
1) 200 horsepower 2.5-liter Non-Turbo 4-cylinder
2) 270 horsepower 2.0-liter Turbocharged 4-cylinder
3) 318 horsepower 3.6-liter V-6.
For now it looks as if only the Turbo-4 will get the all-new “Tremec” six-speed manual. The other two will have GM’s 6L45E six-speed auto transmission, and gets paddle-shift if you opt for that FE3 suspension I mentioned above. There was going to be an 8-speed version of the automatic, but that has been pushed back due to bankruptcy delays. There is talk of a Diesel option, so let’s hope that comes true as well.

Chassis:
The ATS is significantly shorter than the CTS (8 inches) and has been engineered for 50/50 weight distribution. Front to rear weight distribution is 50/50 in the turbo manual; 51/49 in the automatic models; and 52/48 in the AWD models (yes, there will be an AWD version!). Only the FE3 suspension will receive a Limited-Slip Differential, which help reduce tire-spin and maintain traction under acceleration and/or cornering. All this is built on an aluminum frame which helps keep the weight under 3,400 pounds.

Boring stuff:
Of course, it wouldn’t be a luxury car without a billion options to check off… Bose sound, satellite navigation, “Cadillac User Experience” (or “CUE”) infotainment center, “Adaptive” cruise control, brake assist, lane departure warning system, and more.

Design:
Overall, I think Cadillac is making a proper gamble on the design of this new brute. Rather than trying to emulate the rest of the world, they chose to keep their own identity. the sharp lines, and aggressive edges make this a car for the person who doesn’t want the “same old luxury sedan.” Some will see this as a mistake, but I see it as capturing a rebellious crowd who may not want to appear so “normal” in the corporate parking lot. This modern edgy-ness continues into the interior in fine style. Provided the materials are on par with BMW, or at least Audi, buyers will not feel “left out” in the luxury department. It is a very appealing design (something new for GM) that doesn’t leave you with that feeling of “what’s missing?”. The Corvette is a prime example of this all too common GM blunder. You can actually get a better looking, higher quality, interior in a Kia than in most previous Cadillacs.

The ATS launches as a Sedan, but expect to see: a Coupe, Convertible, and even a Wagon version. I, for one, hope that the term “Wagon” actually means “Hatch” because many people would love to see a luxury “Hot-Hatch” in the states. The Hatch market is largely ignored here. Something to compete with the forthcoming Ford Focus ST would be nice.

I will wait until this car comes to market to make any final judgement, but at first look, the ATS seems to be a winner. I may actually have to change my tune about GM soon.

I have to remember though… Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

All Cadillac ATS, and CUE images used with permission, and are © GM Company.