No. 763,
September 3, 2014

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On The Table



Editor-in-Chief's Note: GM's Mark Reuss confirmed to reporters yesterday at an event that GM will build a top-line Cadillac to compete with the Audi A8, BMW 7-Series and the Mercedes-Benz S Class. Not an unexpected move by any means - the spectacular Elimiraj concept telegraphed GM's intentions - the addition of a large sedan is crucial to Cadillac for any number of reasons. Most important is the fact that in order for GM's luxury division to project itself as a global luxury player, it needs to compete in the premier luxury segment. Whether this new machine will accomplish that remains to be seen. I do know that in terms of design this new large Cadillac sedan should be a showstopper, especially if they utilize as much of the stunning Elmiraj design language as possible. It's the rest of the machine that will have to deliver on the promise of that design. Are the True Believers at GM capable of designing, engineering and building a great, full-size luxury sedan? Absolutely. Will it actually happen? It's a giant "we'll see" at this point. GM has shown that the company can do great performance cars when they unleash the full measure of the will and talent of their True Believers. But the big bucks luxury space is another game entirely. I am certain of one thing, however, and that is that this car will be the real test of the "new" General Motors that I keep hearing about. And GM has just one shot at it too. It better be good. No, it better be great. - PMD

Editor's Note: The juxstaposition of the following item against the previous item is jarring, but here goes. From the "Say It Ain't So" File comes word that Lincoln has worked with a master perfumer to create their very own showroom scent, "Essence of Lincoln." Not an original idea by any means, as other car companies have tried it, but according to Dennis Carnevale, Lincoln experience training manager, “Essence of Lincoln is a subtle, yet powerful tool for our dealers to use to help clients make an emotional connection to their store and the Lincoln brand.” Huh? "Because the sense of smell is so closely tied to memory, Essence of Lincoln reinforces Lincoln’s brand identity when a consumer encounters it again," the press release says. Right. And wait a sec - "encounters it again"? Does that mean they think I'm going to keep going back to the dealership? Don't I want to buy a car and get the hell out of there? Or maybe they are planning to bottle it and sell it so I can wear the fragrance as well? (I didn't just really type that, did I?) Lincoln desperately needs to create a connection between the brand and consumers - no argument on that point. But a fragrance? Really? We're betting this has everything to do with the push into the Chinese market, but something is getting lost in translation here, big-time. Here's a free idea: How about designing and building cars that people can form an emotional connection with? Last we checked, that was what cars were supposed to do. And I definitely don't need to have an emotional connection with my dealer, thanks anyway. But for the curious out there, Eau de WTF - I mean, Essence of Lincoln - is wafting through the air vents at a Lincoln dealer near you. -WG

The 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 will have a suggested retail price of $78,995, while the convertible model will start at $83,995. A $2,995 Carbon Fiber Ground Effects package including a functional carbon fiber front splitter, carbon fiber rocker panels and a larger rear spoiler is available. A Z07 Performance Package with Brembo carbon ceramic-matrix brake rotors,
Michelin Pilot Super Sport Cup tires and adjustable front and rear aerodynamic components and the Carbon Fiber Ground Effects Package is available for $7,995. Z06 models will be offered in 1LZ, 2LZ and 3LZ trims.

(Courtesy of GM)
The valet business is getting less fun by the minute. Not that we want car jockeys careening around in our rides with abandon, of course, but GM is seeing to it that if you have a 2015 Corvette, the likelihood of any shenanigans happening to your ride when you hand over the keys to a valet (a la Ferris Bueller) is now officially a thing of the past. GM's new Valet Mode with Performance Data Recorder on the Corvette is an industry-exclusive system that allows drivers to lock the interior storage, disable the infotainment system and record video, audio and vehicle data when the Valet Mode is active. First introduced in 2014, the Corvette Valet Mode has certainly been taken up a couple of notches so that Corvette drivers can now record HD video, in-car audio and vehicle data – including speed, engine RPM, gear position and g-force – when Valet Mode is active. The video can be viewed instantly on the Corvette’s eight-inch color touchscreen when the car is parked, or downloaded to a computer. “Performance Data Recorder was initially designed as a tool for track days, allowing drivers to record their laps and improve their driving skills,” said Harlan Charles, Corvette product manager. “We soon realized the system could have many more applications, such as recording a scenic drive up Highway 101, or recording when the Valet Mode is activated.” The Performance Data Recorder – or PDR – system was developed with Cosworth, the British motorsports-engineering company that supplies the Corvette Racing team’s data acquisition and telemetry electronics systems. The system includes three major components: A 720p, high-definition camera mounted within the windshield header trim, which records the driver’s point-of-view through the window (audio is recorded via a dedicated microphone in the cabin); a self-contained telemetry recorder (the system utilizes a dedicated GPS receiver and is hardwired into the Stingray’s Controller Area Network to access vehicle information); and a dedicated SD-card slot in the glove box for recording and transferring video and vehicle data. An 8-gigabyte card can record approximately 200 minutes of driving time. The PDR system can record video with three data overlay options including Track Mode, Sport Mode, Touring Mode and Performance Mode. Also included with the system is the “Cosworth Toolbox” software, which combines Cosworth’s professional-level motorsport data analysis with an easy-to-use graphic interface for users who want a more in-depth understanding of their performance. Valet Mode with the Performance Data Recorder will be available on all 2015 Corvette models.

Editor-in-Chief's's Note: Our "Quick Take" this week has us in a 2014 BMW 535d Sedan, the first diesel-powered car we've had around here in a while. This modern BMW diesel is torquey and seamless, with only a modicum of clatter apparent - you really have to strain to hear it - and only at start-up. I'm not going to get into the argument of diesel vs. gasoline engines here because it's tedious, but suffice to say, if diesel power is your thing, this BMW is nicely executed and performs flawlessly. The torque is indeed impressive and this BMW feels like a BMW. With one major "but" - and that is the boat anchor effect over the front wheels. The 535d feels heavy and cumbersome at low speeds, the feeling does dissipate once you get rolling, but it's enough of an annoyance to me that I would pass on this car for that specific reason. The modern German luxury-performance machines are mostly fabulous and outstanding in many, many ways, but they're uniformly heavy, too, and adding to that heft is not a good idea in my book, no matter what the mileage improvement is. The BMW 535d is finely-executed machine, and it will be perfectly satisfying for the people who are craving a diesel-powered luxury automobile. It's just not my thing.   - PMD
2014 BMW 535d Sedan: $66,425 ($56,600 Base Price; Glacier Silver Metallic, $550; Black Dakota Leather; 3.0-liter, DOHC, 24-valve, BMW Advanced Diesel inline 6-cylinder engine with
255HP and 413 lbs-ft of torque, aluminum engine block, Variable Geometry Turbo technology and latest-generation common-rail direct injection; Driving Dynamic Control with ECO PRO mode; 8-speed STEPTRONIC automatic transmission with Sport and Manual shift modes and Adaptive Transmission Control (ATC); 4-wheel ventilated disc brakes with ABS; Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), including Brake Fade Compensation, Start-off Assistant, Brake Drying and Brake Stand-by features with Dynamic Traction Control (DTC); Xenon Adaptive Headlights with dynamic auto-leveling, LED Corona headlight rings and Cornering Lights; 2-way power moon roof; AM/FM/CD/MP3 player audio system with HD radio; 3-spoke leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel; iDrive system with 10.2" screen and on-board computer; Navigation system with touchpad; BMW Apps; M Sport Package - 19" Alloy Double-spoke wheels, Aluminum Hexagon interior trim, LED Fog Lights, M steering wheel, Aerodynamic kit, Shadowline exterior trim, Anthracite headliner -  $3150; Lighting Package - Full LED Lights, Automatic High Beams - $1900; Premium Package - Power tailgate, Comfort Access keyless entry, Satellite radio with one-year subscription - $1,500; Run-flat tires; Sport automatic transmission, $500; Multi-contour seats, $1,300; Destination charge, $925)

Adherence to Brand Image:
For Diesel devotees who are also Bimmer fans, it doesn't get any better than the the 535d. Fortunately, there are plenty of desirable machines in the BMW portfolio for the rest of us. - PMD