Tag Archives: BMW

Top Gear Series 21 Begins February 2

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Top Gear, the world’s most popular motoring show, will return this Sunday, February 2, with its 21st season. The series will be only be available in the UK on BBC 2, but it should debut on BBC America in a few weeks. Top Gear has posted photos  and a video (below) previewing the upcoming season. From the previews, we see the Stig in a Caterham, James May in a Caterham, Richard Hammond driving an Alfa Romeo 4C, Jeremy Clarkson in a McLaren P1, and the three doing God knows what with a crane in Myanmar. Top Gear is known for its wit and creativity, and it appears season 21 will not disappoint.

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24 Hours of Daytona Begins Today

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The debut of the new Tudor United Sports Car Championship begins today at 2:10 pm ET with the 52nd Rolex 24 at Daytona. You can follow the action on various TV channels throughout the 24 hour event or watch online. This year’s 24 Hours of Daytona begins a new era in sports car racing as the Grand Am Series and American Le Mans Series combined to form one united series. With 65 entries, this will be one of the largest 24 Hours of Daytona ever.

The new series is comprised is four classes of cars:

Prototype (P): The prototypes are the top tier teams from both the Grand Am and American LeMans Series. Some of the cars in this class include the Nissan DeltaWing, Ford EcoBoost, and the Corvette Daytona Prototype.

Prototype Challenge (PC): PC is a spec class that is a carry over from the American Le Mans Series. The series features cars built by Oreca with engines supplied by Chevrolet and tires from Continental.

GT Le Mans (GTLM): This GT LeMans class is a direct carry over from the American Le Mans Series. Cars in this class include the Corvette C7.R, Ferrari 458, SRT Viper, Porsche 911, and BMW Z4. All cars in this class must follow the Automobile Club de l’Ouest’s GTE specification.

GT Daytona (GTD): The GTD class combines the Grand-Am GT & GX classes with the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars from the American Le Mans GTC class.  GTD is by far the largest class and features 29 cars.

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I am looking forward to the new series as it allows the best teams of both series to compete against each other for the same championship. For a full run down of all 65 entries, I highly recommend the article posted by RennSport which describes the new series and includes images of each car. You can also follow live scoring here.

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Detroit Auto Show: Production Vehicles

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The 2013 North American International Auto Show is well underway and all the latest models and concepts have been unveiled. Unlike last year, auto makers had relatively few concept vehicles. This year the focus was on production vehicles for the 2014 model year. The highlight of the show has been the 2014 Corvette Stingray, but there are plenty of other important new models. Check them all out in the gallery below. Please note: all links will take you to the full article by Autoblog.

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The Lincoln Motor Company

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What is going on with Ford Motor Company’s Lincoln The Lincoln Motor Company? Ford says the brand is going strong and even gave it a new name at the beginning of this year. But much of the automotive press has dismissed Lincoln and some have even predicted its death. Nevertheless, they continue introduce new models, but we have to wonder what Ford’s plans are for the “new” Lincoln Motor Company. To better understand what Lincoln’s future may hold, we need to take a look at its competition and its newest products.

Competition

Lincoln's new MKZ is too much like Ford's Fusion

Lincoln’s new MKZ is too much like Ford’s Fusion

Lincoln has long been the luxury brand of Ford. That is to say, Lincolns have simply been nicer versions of Ford vehicles. However, the automotive world is changing, and Ford has been leading the charge with its global platforms. But Lincoln seems to have been left behind and lost its character. What does Lincoln do that is different from Ford? Not much really. So, who are Lincoln’s top competitors?

Lexus? Yes and no. Lexus has been much like Lincoln in that it has only sold rebadged versions of Toyota, but Lexus has really stepped it up. New Lexus models such as the GS and the soon to be released IS prove that Lexus has a new target: Germany. Lexus is going after BMW and Mercedes by building rear wheel drive cars with a fair amount of power and competitive handling. Lincoln makes front wheel drive cars with very little power. Not Lexus models are sporty, so Lincoln could compete with the luxury and styling elements of these models, but even here Lincoln falls a little short.

Infiniti? Yes and no. Like Lexus, Infiniti is reinventing itself by creating models that offer sportiness and luxury. But again, Lincoln falls short.

Cadillac? No. The ATS, CTS, and XTS are all rear wheel drive and have a decent amount of power (when properly equipped, but is for another post). Again, Cadillac is gunning for the Germans, and by all accounts, the all new ATS has brought them close. But Lincoln’s current offerings cannot compete with the power and handling these cars offer.

BMW and Mercedes? Hell no.

Buick? Finally a competitor for Lincoln. But Buick is about it. Much like Lincoln and Ford, Buick sells rebadged versions of Chevrolet vehicles (much like all GM’s brands, but again, that is for another day). They are all front wheel drive and are primarily sold to…more mature Americans. This accurately describes Lincoln.

So what does Lincoln need to do? Clearly they cannot keep selling rebadged Fords and compete only with Buick. Mercury was axed because the cars were only rebranding Fords, but so does Lincoln. So why did Ford keep Lincoln? Perhaps we are beginning to see why. There has been a lot of talk lately about Lincoln developing a rear wheel drive platform based on the current Mustang’s platform. Could this be used to take on the Germans and Japanese luxury carmakers? Can Lincoln pull off what Lexus has done over the past several years. I believe it can, but it is going to take some fresh ideas and fair amount of resources to do so.

Welcome the MKC

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Yesterday, Lincoln unveiled the MKC, the new SUV concept it is bringing to the Detroit Auto Show. Based on Ford’s new Escape, the MKC does not look like a Ford. Some suggest it looks like an Infiniti or a Range Rover Evoque, but the important thing is that it has a design unique to Lincoln.

When I first saw the MKC this morning, I wondered why it was not a Ford. It would sell better as a Ford, and it would look great with Ford’s new Aston Martin-like styling. But the more I thought about it, this really needed to be a Lincoln. Lincoln needs a vehicle that has styling that differs from the Ford that shares its platform. This model is the first step for The Lincoln Motor Company to separate itself from Ford.

As I look at the MKC’s beautiful body and luxurious interior, there is one question nagging me. How will it drive? The Escape has been well reviewed, but the Lincoln MKC needs to be different. It needs to offer something more. As I discussed above with the cars, Lincoln’s SUVs need a new target. Land Rover seems like a good target for Lincoln. Like a Land Rover, the MKC offers great looks and a luxurious interior, but will the MKC perform off-road? We will have to wait to find out. There are already a wide variety of luxury SUVs on the market today but there are only two companies, that I can think of, that sell nicely equipped off-road capable SUVs: Land Rover and Jeep. These companies should be Lincoln’s target with all future SUV offerings.

We do not know much about the new MKC, or about the new Lincoln Motor Company’s future plans, and we may find out more about both over the next few days. But if the “new” Lincoln Motor Company wants to compete on global scale like Ford, they will need all new models with new goals. Rear wheel drive luxury cars and an off-road capable luxury SUVs would set Lincoln apart from Ford and could save the company.

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Saab Update: 7 Buyers Interested

SaabsUnited reports that during today’s weekly press conference, the bankruptcy administrators reported that 7 serious bidders have lined up to purchase Saab. This is certainly more interest than had been previously reported. Mahindra and Youngman have been widely covered in the news, but this has allowed other companies to quietly place bids.

The press conference suggested that one of the bidders was a European based car company. While that leaves the possibilities wide open. They let slip that the company was based in Munich, Germany. That, of course, only leaves one option…BMW.

The administrators have expressed that the higgest bidder may not necessarily win. In this case, the creditors have to agree and they will only consider a company that could continue Saab using a non-GM platform. This would certainly bode well for BMW.

I really have mixed feelings about BMW taking over Saab. Saab, a Swedish company, has always been viewed as an alternative to the German cars that have taken over the European market. However, this would allow BMW to incorporate their technology into Saab. If the pricing remains as it was for the 2011 models, the future BMW backed Saabs could compete with Lincoln, Lexus, Infiniti, and, most importantly, Buick. GM does not want Saab to survive simply because of the competition. With BMW backing, Saab would only be better equipped to compete with GM and the other mid-level luxury car makers.

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Detroit Auto Show: Production Car Roundup

The North American International Auto Show kicked off this week with major product unveils from Ford, General Motors, and Toyota. This post, a first in a two part series, will explore the production models that were unveiled in Detroit this week.

The Sunday before the Auto Show, Dodge and Cadillac announced their much anticipated new models. Dodge unveiled the 2013 Dodge Dart with its Alfa Romeo platform and economic engine options. Cadillac, on the other hand, announced the 2013 Cadillac ATS, a car it hopes will compete head on with the BMW 3-Series. This is a lofty goal as the 3-Series is hailed as the ultimate sports sedan.

2013 Ford Fusion

Ford began Monday morning’s show with the all new 2013 Ford Fusion. Ford surprised the crowd by announcing that the Fusion would be available in 3 models: standard gasoline (with three engine options), hybrid, and electric. The design of the Fusion incorporates Ford’s new,  agressive, grille and the Fusion is a major part of the current “One Ford” strategy. This car is my favorite from the show and is likely to shake up the mid-sized car segment with its range of engine options and its impressive technology packages.

Other production models unveiled at the show included the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLDodge Charger Redline, 2013 Chevrolet Sonic RS, 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet, 2013 Lexus LX 570, 2013 Acura RDX, 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo, 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Bentley Continental GT V8, 2013 Mini Roadster, Audi A4 Allroad, Volvo XC60 Plug-In HybridBuick EncoreToyota Prius C, and the 50th Anniversary Edition Shelby Mustangs.

Unfortunately, I do not have the space to give my impressions of all of the models, but I will highlight a few. The major unveils from list include the all new Buick Encore. A small SUV from Buick (who wants that?!). In addition, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe received a facelift and a series of new engines, but it is still not powerful enough to compete with Mustang or Camaro. The Toyota Prius C is expected to cost less than $19,000, being the cheapest hybrid on the market.

From the production models, however, we see that the auto industry is, once again, very healthy. Tomorrow I will post an article on the concept models from Detroit.

If you get a chance to visit the Detroit Auto Show, the show will be open to the public through January 22. If not, check out the reviews of each car listed above by clicking the link (will take you to Autoblog). Also, be sure to check out the gallery below.

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Detroit Auto Show Begins Tomorrow!

Tomorrow begins the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. The show is being hosted by the COBO Center and will run from January 9 – 22. If you are in the area, you should really check it out. One day passes are only $12 for adults.

Throughout the upcoming week, automakers from around the world will unveil their latest models and concepts. Sure to be favorites at this year’s show will be the 2013 Ford Mustang, 2013 Ford Fusion, 2013 Dodge Dart, 2013 Cadillac ATS, and the 2013 Bentley Continental GT / GTC V8. All the major auto manufacturers from around the world (that sell cars in the United States) are expected to attend. Expect entries from Toyota, BMW, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Aston Martin, and just about everyone else!

I love the Detroit Auto Show for its concepts and upcoming model reveals. I will try to keep up with the major unveils on the blog, or perhaps I will review each day with the major models added with a photo gallery. Nevertheless, Monday is back to school for me, so my time may be limited, but I will certainly provide all the coverage I can.

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