Cadillac. Editor-in-Chief's Note: I have praised Cadillac's "Dare Greatly" advertising campaign because it's wonderfully conceived, well-executed and effective, elevating the brand with a fresh attitude and a sense of urgency that has been lacking for a long while. But too often "high concept" campaigns of this nature come apart violently when it is applied to a retail marketing task that it was never intended for. And thus is the case of the "Dare Greatly" TV commercial that features the SRX thrown in at the end, complete with leasing numbers boldly displayed. What part of this seemed like a good idea? It has nothing to do with the soaring reach of "Dare Greatly," instead, it brings the entire efficacy of the campaign to a screeching halt. The SRX is a tired, lame-duck product that the dealers desperately need to move, I get that. But this ad execution doesn't work. At all. I can't tell you how many campaigns I've been involved with over my career that were ruined because the client insisted on shoving a particular product down consumers' throats - or to pacify itchy dealers - even though it made no sense to do so within context of the given campaign. Cadillac took three notable steps forward with "Dare Greatly," but this SRX iteration represents five steps back, at least. Ugh. -PMD
Editor-in-Chief's Note: We received a breathless press release from BMW late Tuesday stating that the German automaker had additional pictures of its 2 Series Gran Tourer! Wow. This just in: It still sucks. -PMD
Toyota has introduced the latest version of its Lexus ES at the Shanghai International Motor Show. Lexus says that the 2016 ES "features an exciting, sportier attitude, highlighted by elegant yet progressive exterior styling, an enhanced luxurious interior and the new Lexus Safety System." “Our development concept was ‘Take the ES to the next level of elegance and progressive luxury,’” said Toshio Asahi, ES Chief Engineer. “The Lexus ES is renowned for its innovative exterior and interior design." (Really? We did not know that.) "We wanted to build on that and make it more elegant, and tailor the car with the latest technology Lexus has to offer. We’re confident that the new Lexus ES will be a leader in its class and attract a lot of attention.” Editor-in-Chief's Note: Whatever. People buy the ES because they don't care about cars and they don't know the difference. And as long as that phenomenon continues, they'll no doubt sell the shit out of 'em. -PMD
Chevrolet has introduced the 2016 Corvette Z06 C7.R Edition, which it describes as "a road-going, track-capable homage to the Corvette Racing C7.R racecars." Offered on coupe and convertible models with 3LZ trim - and with the 650-horsepower supercharged LT4 engine - the Z06 C7.R Edition is available in Corvette Racing's signature Yellow Tintcoat (new for 2016) or Black, with coordinated exterior and interior accents. The machine's Z07 Performance Package includes Brembo carbon ceramic-matrix brake rotors; adjustable front and rear aero components and Michelin Pilot Super Sport Cup 2 tires. Other good stuff? A C7.R Edition graphics package; black wheels with yellow accent strip, Corvette Racing-logo center caps and yellow brake calipers; visible carbon fiber hood section and carbon fiber ground effects package; grilles and vents finished in Spectra Gray Metallic; Jet Black leather interior with suede microfiber accents on the instrument panel and doors, as well as a suede microfiber-trimmed Competition Sport Seat, steering wheel and shifter; yellow contrast stitching throughout the interior, a high-gloss carbon fiber interior trim package; Corvette Racing sill plates; a numbered C7.R Edition interior plaque showing the specially serialized build number, starting with VIN 700001; and a special indoor car cover with C7.R graphics. Only 500 examples of the C7.R Edition will be built and all will include the Z07 Performance Package with carbon ceramic brakes. They will be available later this year.
Editor-in-Chief's Note: Our "Quick Take" this week has us in a 2015 BMW M4 Coupe. Despite being in an atrocious color called "Austin Yellow" metallic (we call it "Electric Pea Soup Metallic"), the M4 was a real beast, as expected. As for the color, Mercedes-Benz did a definitive test on paint visibility way back in the 60s in order to make high speeds safer on the Autobahn, especially in poor visibility and low-light conditions (heavy fog is a huge factor over there). In that test it was determined that white was the most visible color (except in the winter), with yellow and orange coming in a close second for the most visibility. And the impact of that research spread far and wide, including heavily influencing the color of fire trucks and emergency vehicles over here. It also influenced the color palette of German high-performance vehicles - especially Porsche - in the early 70s, with white, Day-Glo yellow and orange 911s becoming a common sight ripping down the Autobahn. And some of those loud colors continue to be offered to this day. Over here, of course, it's a different story altogether. Since we live in a police state powered by radar-toting revenue cowboys who are contributing heavily to city, county and state budgets all across the country, non-visibility or stealth motoring is the key, especially if you drive a high-performance vehicle of any kind and you like to exercise it on a regular basis. So, while I get the spirit of seeing German and even some Italian high-performance cars emblazoned in loud colors, it has zero appeal to me. And I have a micro-visibility study of my own to back my opinion on color and high-performance driving. Once in a galaxy far, far away, I had a dark chocolate brown (non-metallic) 911S. At the same time I had a Day-Glo yellow Opel 1900 sedan. I drove that 911 within an inch of its life all the time, and I only got one ticket with it (I was turned in by CB radio fiends in Nevada on my way to L.A.). On the other hand, I got four tickets in the Opel, the last of which was from a young cop who imparted these words of wisdom: "If you're going to drive like that, I suggest you consider a different color. We can see you a mile away in this thing." Duly noted. But despite the unappealing color - and the equally unappealing Sonoma Beige interior color - the BMW M4 delivered all the thrills imaginable. The key factors - steering response and feel, suspension dynamics and remarkably responsive turbo power - are all present and accounted for. And it's plenty quick (but then again it should be for 80 grand), certainly as quick as its predecessor. One thing that was beyond weird about it, however, was the sound of the 425HP, twin-turbo, inline six-cylinder engine. It is electronically "enhanced" to sound like a V8 and it's disconcerting, to say the least. Having had a V8-powered M3 of my own a while back (affectionately dubbed "The Monster"), I can't say that I liked it all that much. And even though the V8-powered M3 offended certain groups of BMW aficionados, I actually prefer it over this car. It had a visceral, gut-wrenching appeal when you hammered it that was hard to beat. And the sound was spectacular. It was also much cheaper than this new M4 too. But, then again, the M4 is aimed at the BMW faithful first and foremost, and for that audience - and given the fuel economy parameters BMW is working with - they basically nailed it. -PMD
2015 BMW M4 Coupe: $83,325 ($64,200 Base Price; Austin Yellow Metallic, $550; Sonoma Beige Extended Leather, included; 3.0-liter, Direct-injected, inline 24-valve 6-cylinder BMW M TwinPower Turbo engine with 425HP and 406 lbs-ft of torque, Valvetronic and Double-VANOS variable valve control; 6-speed manual gearbox; Optimized aerodynamics including Air Curtain in front apron and Air Breather behind front fenders with integrated M side gill and M badging; M Drive and M Dynamic mode; M Compound ventilated 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) with Dynamic Brake Control (DBC); Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) including Brake Fade Compensation, Start-off Assistant, Brake Drying, Brake Stand-by features with M Dynamic Mode; Xenon Adaptive Headlights with auto-leveling, Corona headlight-rings and Cornering Lights; Power-adjustable and heated body-color side-view mirrors with automatic dimming function; 10-way power heated front M sport seats with 4-way lumbar support and driver's seat memory; M door sill finishers, M footrest and M gear shift lever; Automatic climate control; Automatic-dimming interior rear view mirror; 3-spoke, leather-wrapped, multi-function, M sport steering wheel; USB audio connection and hands free Bluetooth including Audio Streaming; iDrive system with on-board computer and touchpad controller with 8 programmable memory buttons; BMW Navigation system with high-resolution screen, Voice command and Advanced Real Time Traffic Information; AM/FM/CD/MP3 player audio system with HD radio; Harman Kardon surround sound; Highlight trim in black chrome; Carbon fiber interior trim; Shadowline exterior trim, Executive Package - Heated steering wheel, Comfort access keyless entry, Rear view camera, Retractable headlight washers, Park distance control, Head-up display, Satellite radio with one-year subscription - $4,000; Lighting Package - Adaptive full LED lights, Automatic high beams - $1,900; M Carbon Ceramic brakes, $8,150; Adaptive M suspension, $1,000; 19" Black, Light-Alloy, Double-Spoke Style, 437 M Wheels with summer performance tires, $1,200; Enhanced Bluetooth and smart phone interface, $500; Destination charge, $950)
Adherence to Brand Image: The M4 is for the hardcore BMW faithful who choose to ignore that BMW is making all of its money off of SUVs now, but nonetheless, it's an extremely desirable high-performance machine that delivers everything that's promised. -PMD