No. 853
June 29, 2016

About The Autoextremist@PeterMDeLorenzo Author, commentator, influencer. "The Consigliere." Editor-in-Chief of

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On The Table


JUNE 15, 2016

Audi has opened Audi City Paris on the Place du Marché Saint Honoré in the heart of the French capital, with the famous Place Vendôme and Rue Saint Honoré in the direct vicinity. This is the fifth site worldwide for the brand’s fully digital showrooms. Guests at the new flagship store can experience the complete Audi product portfolio fully digitally, including all optional extras and customization features. Audi opened its first Audi City in London in 2012. Additional locations followed in Beijing, Berlin and Istanbul. Ever wonder where the idea for Cadillac House originated? Since Johan de Nysschen is hell-bent on his quest to reinvent Cadillac in the likeness of Audi - and Cadillac has already announced plans to add more Cadillac House facilities around the globe - now you know.

Editor-In-Chief's Note:
The BMW Group has presented two world debuts to mark the opening of its exhibition and event platform, “Iconic Impulses. The BMW Group Future Experience.” Or, as we like to call it, "BMW Officially Goes Bat-Shit Crazy." The BMW Vision Next 100 (2nd from left) we've seen, as it was unveiled at the Munich Centenary Event on March 7th. But the two latest interpretations of future mobility come from MINI - the MINI Vision Next 100 - and Rolls-Royce  - the Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100 - and were presented at the Roundhouse in London on June 16th. Harald Krüger, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, is standing next to the cars wondering, "why?" we hope. I'm all for design future think, but the futuristic Roller looks like it was sketched in a high school design class; and the futuristic MINI is an eloquent and compelling argument for putting the brand to pasture, and soon. BMW will unveil an fourth "Vision" vehicle - by BMW Motorrad - on October 16th in Los Angeles. We shudder to think what that will look like. And so it goes. -PMD

FCA has announced that its Mopar Custom Shop will offer a new Mopar ’16 Ram Rebel, the first limited-edition Mopar-modified vehicle designed for truck segment. Upgrades include 17-inch satin black wheels, black front bumper skid plate, wheel flares, serialized badge, special Mopar graphics and more. Customers who want more can get a cat-back exhaust and cold air intake among additional dealer-installed products available to take personalization to next level. Only 500 Mopar ’16 Ram Rebel vehicles will be produced. Each vehicle will include a custom owner’s kit with Mopar ’16 merchandise, brochure and unique metal birth certificate. Wow, really?

(Mercedes-Benz images)
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz G550 4x4² will join the Mercedes-Benz family of SUVs in the United States. The 4x4² is the most capable G-Class ever, boasting innovative portal axles, three locking differentials, a ground clearance of more than 17" and a 4.0-Liter Biturbo V8. Since development of the G-Class began in 1972, the military-turned-passenger-vehicle has been hand-built in Graz, Austria. The name Gelaendewagen translates literally to "off road vehicle." Since 1979, more than 250,000 vehicles have been delivered to customers around the globe. The G550 4x4² joins the G-Class lineup here in the U.S., which features the 416HP G550, the 563HP AMG G63, and the 621HP AMG G65, notably featuring a monster 6.0-liter V12 Biturbo engine producing a massive 738 lb-ft of torque. Taking cues from the wild AMG G63 6x6 (not available in the U.S. market), the G550 4x4² utilizes the series-model G-Class platform as the starting point for an advanced, ultra-aggressive off-road machine. The G550 4x4² will be available in U.S. dealerships beginning in early 2017.

(Lamborghini photos)
The Lamborghini Museum, opened in 2001, has been completely renovated to create an authentic experience, which takes visitors on a journey from the past to the future of Lamborghini. The new concept - featuring white floors and gray tones on the walls to bring out the colors of the vehicles and other displays - was inspired by the brightest colors in Lamborghini's history.


Electrified State.

A little over a year ago, our "Quick Take" had us in a 2015 BMW X5 M. This is what I had to say about it: "What can possibly be said about this 5,100+ lb. monster? Despite all of its M accoutrements, its 567HP rippin' V8 (and make no mistake, it's a magnificent engine, I mean, wow, but it would be even more sensational in a vehicle weighing 2,000 pounds less) and its beautifully turned-out interior, to say that this is a ridiculous conveyance is the understatement of this or any year. The fact that BMW product planners sat around a conference table and said, in unison, 'Yah, this is exactly what we need to do!' is mildly horrifying. This thing is as out of place driving around in the urban slog as Ndamukong Suh would be in a ballet class. It's so ponderous at slow speeds, you can literally feel the fuel being slurped down as you watch the gas needle scamper to 'empty.' Yes, once you get it rolling it's absolutely astounding what that kind of horsepower can do with that kind of mass, because this thing will smash you back in your seat in almost shocking fashion, but, really? The collective brain trust at BMW thought this and the equally ridiculous X6 M are absolutely essential for the BMW brand? That some of these manufacturers need a big bowl of 'What the fuck are you guys thinking?' from someone with the cojones to actually speak their mind and throw a hand grenade of rational thought into the proceedings goes without saying. Somebody along the way with the power to do so should have said, 'You know what? This thing is so stupid it makes my teeth hurt. Let's walk away before we make complete fools of ourselves.' And all of that is before I even get to the price. $115,450 stinkin' dollars? And for what, exactly? So you can look like the biggest tool in the shed? Look, I get it. We live in a country where we have the freedom to pretty much buy what we want when it comes to cars and trucks, and that's a beautiful thing. Not everyone can be expected to get off on the same kinds of things, auto or otherwise, because that would be beyond boring, right? But this? It's the new quintessential definition of stupid money, folks. Let's see, for that amount of cash I could buy a Porsche Cayman GTS and a quite decent AWD beater for the winter. Or a brand new Corvette Z06 and have some change left over for a smoke and a pancake. Or a new Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe. Or two new Camaros. Or a big fat deposit on a BMW i8 or a Ford GT. Or pay cash for three BMW i3s. I could go on, but feel free to plug in your own vehicle combos, because for that kind of money you could actually get something worth desiring. When BMW does these kinds of things it is completely infuriating. Why? Because if they're that tone-deaf about their own brand and they're that hell-bent about chasing every possible niche - both real and imagined - because they're deathly afraid that they'll miss a pile of money buried under a mattress somewhere that was specially earmarked for them, then I pity these fools. If BMW wants to cover the crossover and SUV market with a brace of vehicles, more power to 'em. But leave the M designation out of it, please. At least then they could retain a modicum of dignity." Well, this week, our "Quick Take" has us in the 2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e. A more realistic assessment of the X5 itself is easier to do with this machine without all of the Sturm und Drang associated with the "M" version. And, yes, I like just about everything the X5 does in the urban slog and on the highway. It just feels right. As for the "e" part of it, you get 19 miles of electric range with it, which is, let's face it, damn near nothing. That has much to do with the weight of this hulking SUV - a staggering 5,220 pounds - as anything but still, the "e" part of it seems to be much ado about not so much. And if you lack 220-volt charging capacity, it's like waiting for Godot to get the thing fully charged again. For 19 frickin' miles. Ugh. But, generally, the X5 itself is a pretty nice piece. I would like to drive the X5 xDrive35i - which weighs 500 pounds less - just to see how much more I'd like it, because I have a hunch I'd like it a lot. At any rate, if you must have something hybrid, and you must have a larger crossover, and it must be a BMW, well this is your car. -PMD

2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e: $73,770 ($62,100 Base Price; Sparkling Brown Metallic, $550; Ivory White/Black Dakota Leather; 2.0-liter, BMW M TwinPower Turbo 16-valve 4-cylinder engine with variable valve control (Double-VANOS and Valvetronic), high-precision direct injection and eDrive 111HP electric motor; Total power output of 308HP; 8-speed STEPTRONIC Automatic transmission with Sport and Manual shift modes and Adaptive Transmission Control (ATC), Driving Dynamics Control with ECO PRO mode; eDrive button with AUTO eDrive, MAX eDrive, and SAVE Battery modes; Auto Start-Stop function; xDrive all-wheel-drive system; Ventilated, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS); Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) including Brake Fade Compensation, Start-off Assistant, Brake Drying, Brake Stand-by features with Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) and Dynamic Brake Control; Xenon Adaptive Headlights with dynamic auto-leveling, Corona headlight-rings and Cornering Lights; LED foglights; 14-way power, heated seats with 4-way lumbar support and driver's seat memory; 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats; Panoramic moonroof; Power tailgate; Power tailgate; Park distance control, front and rear; Cold Weather Package - Heated steering wheel, Heated rear seats, Retractable headlight washers - $550; Premium Package - Comfort Access keyless entry, Four zone climate control, Satellite radio with one year subscription - $2,550; XLine Package - 20" light alloy wheels, Roof rails in Satin Aluminum, Aluminum line exterior trim - $2,000; Rear-View camera, $400; Leather dashboard, $1,200; Ceramic controls, $650; Surround View, $700; Smartphone integration, $200; Harmon Kardon surround sound, $875; Sport leather steering wheel; Destination charge, $995)

Adherence to Brand Image: As I said last week in my annual Brand Image Meter column, "It’s time to stop looking at BMW as a distinct, luxury-performance car brand and start looking at it for what it really is: a dolled-up, mainstream automaker that manages to build a few desirable cars." So, which category does the BMW X5 xDrive40e fall under? On the one hand, it's beautifully executed inside and out. On the other, it definitely has more to do with the now-obligatory - and strangely vanilla - mainstream BMW, meaning it has nothing to do with the historical legacy of BMW at all. But the market has spoken, apparently, and to the sales vultures at BMW headquarters it doesn't matter. Since the whole world has gone crossover/SUV crazy, if you look at this X5 in context with what's going on in the rest of the market, it fits the BMW idiom all the way. That is if your knowledge of BMW began back around 2008. -PMD

Editor's Note: Ford has just released "The Road to Le Mans" and "The Driver's Perspective" - the fourth and fifth (final) chapters in “The Return,” which is a long-form documentary that follows the development of both the street car and race car versions of the Ford GT from the decision to build the cars to the return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Watch chapter one, "The Decision," here, chapter two, "The Cutting Edge," here and chapter three,   "Let's Race," here. (FYI: The Autoextremist makes a cameo appearance in chapters one, four and five.) -WG