The Auto Companies. Editor-In-Chief's Note: You don't think VW is the only automaker to manipulate emissions tests, do you? I hope not, because it's too easy to do apparently and well, it's not like the automakers collectively have a glittering reputation for doing The Right Thing when it comes right down to it. But make no mistake, VW's image amongst its loyalists - TDI buyers in particular - is toast. And this will have a ripple effect throughout VW's business here in the U.S. The rest of them? Let's just say that heated, contentious meetings are underway right now to determine if anything untoward was done, and when. -PMD
Subaru. It's not as if Subaru is flying under anyone's radar any longer, after all, it is and has been one of the hottest car companies doing business here in America, on pace to sell over 550,000 vehicles here this year. It's about to get even hotter too. Subaru is going to increase the capacity of its Indiana plant by 100,000 vehicles, taking the number to 400,000 annually, which means it is nearing smokin' hot status.
This is the 2016 Volkswagen Passat, which was introduced to the automotive press at an event in Brooklyn, New York, Monday night featuring rock star Lenny Kravitz. It didn't really matter that the refreshed Passat has new exterior and heavily revised interior design treatments, a plethora of new options and is "a midsize sedan that is designed for the American lifestyle" according to VW PR minions. What mattered was that the car was introduced in the midst of the VW diesel emissions fiasco, which is now a firestorm exploding across the globe. It is so bad that the company has lost over 35 percent of its value in stock trading over the past two days, and more losses are expected. This is now a full-blown international crisis that threatens to dramatically impact the company for years to come. But the press event went on - after all, the Passat is built at VW's Chattanooga, Tenn. assembly facility - and Michael Horn, the head of the VW brand in the U.S. stepped up and said: “Our company was dishonest with the EPA, and the California Air Resources Board and with all of you. And in my German words: We have totally screwed up. We must fix the cars to prevent this from ever happening again and we have to make this right. This kind of behavior is totally inconsistent with our qualities.” Good night and good luck with that.
Buick has released this image of the 2017 LaCrosse grille to confirm that the front end is heavily influenced by the recent Avenir concept. The design was introduced on the Avenir concept, which was inspired by the 1954 Wildcat II concept. Buick PR minions suggest that this will be the new face of the brand by 2018, including a new, three-color, tri-shield insignia set on a wing-shaped element. Other details about the next-generation LaCrosse? It will have an all-new chassis that is said to be stronger yet lighter than the current model with a five-link rear suspension, aiming for a more dynamic driving experience. The 2017 LaCrosse debuts in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show. P.S. Buick’s tri-shield logo is rooted in company founder David Dunbar Buick’s Scottish family crest.
Porsche - the most creative car company in the world when it comes to extracting ever more money from its enthusiast faithful - has introduced the Rennsport Reunion Edition of the 911 Carrera GTS in honor of the fifth Rennsport Reunion® held at Laguna Seca (Mazda Raceway) over the weekend. Built by Porsche Exclusive and based on the 911 Carrera GTS, the Rennsport Reunion Edition is painted in Fashion Grey, a custom color. Other exterior touches include decorative black and red decals cover the front hood, the roof, and the rear decklid; black and red decals on the driver and passenger doors featuring the PORSCHE logotype; 20-inch Sport Classic wheels painted in high-gloss black; the lower exterior trim of the side mirrors as well as the satellite radio antenna are also finished in high-gloss black. And the LED headlights (including PDLS Plus) complete the black accents on the exterior. Inside, Carbon Fiber dashboard trim above the glove compartment as well as the illuminated door-sill guards in Carbon Fiber display the designation of the special model. 18-way Adaptive Sport Seats Plus are included as well as PASM Sport Suspension, a Bose® Audio Package, and Rear Park Assist. As part of the GTS Interior Package, the SportDesign steering wheel, the door panel trim, the dashboard trim, the floor mats, and the GTS logo on the headrests are all stitched in Carmine Red. The tach and the seat belts also feature this color. And the center compartment lid is embossed with the Rennsport Reunion V logo. The special appointments fitted by Porsche Exclusive are rounded out with a Fashion Grey painted vehicle key and a leather key pouch featuring Carmine Red accents and "911 Carrera GTS Rennsport Reunion Edition" lettering, because, well, you just can't get enough of that, apprently. The Rennsport Reunion Edition is powered by a 430 hp 3.8 liter flat-six engine and available exclusively with a manual transmission. it goes from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and has a top track speed of 190 mph. The 2016 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Rennsport Reunion Edition stickers for $148,335 (cough), not including the $995 destination charge. It is limited to 25 units worldwide and will be sold exclusively in North America.
The $64,000 Question.
Editor's Note: This week's Quick Take has us in the 2015 BMW 435i Gran Coupe, or if you prefer, The $64,225 Question, but more on that later. First off, it's a crazy world. Time was, coupe meant two doors, but for some time now the word coupe has been used on four-door sedans. With the 435i this gets confounded even more because this car looks like a four-door sedan but in fact it's a hatchback. Help. Oh never mind, how is the car? Well, a bit pricey, for one thing. Or at least our tester was. At first glance, it all looks good, with its MSRP of $45,800. That sounds decent, but then you see nearly twenty grand in options, for a gran - I mean, grand - total of $64,225. You can read about all of them in the paragraph below - suffice to say, opt for six different "packages" plus the M Sport package, and you've added 20 large in no time. (And I'm also not sure that there should be "M" items on a non-M BMW, but that's a discussion for another day.) Wow, I sound cranky this morning! Okay, let's turn to the good stuff. The 435i is every bit a BMW. It is quick and responsive and a helluva lot of fun to drive. Inside you'll find that no-frills luxury that BMW seems to specialize in - nicely done, understated, everything you need - more utilitarian than opulent (in a 64-thousand-dollar kind of way). And a lot of the things I liked about the 228i are true here - simple gauges, no jarring warning voices, etc., etc. So it's very good and all, and definitely packed with all the things that make a BMW a BMW. I'm just not sure why it exists. Maybe if you like the 3 Series but want a hatchback? You like a bit more swoopy styling? But by the time you load it up with options, it starts to bump into (and even pass) the 5 Series, not to mention the Mercedes E Class and who knows what else from Audi and Cadillac. Personally, I would choose the 3 Series all day over the 4 - and for pure driving fun, the 228i is the standout in the "bang for buck" category. -WG
Editor-In-Chief's Note: This is a great driving machine. Yes, we loved the CTS and don't apologize for loving it either, but as aggressive and pleasing as the Caddy is, this BMW is a little less ponderous and a little more pleasing. But this whole coupe-masquerading-as-sedan business has now grown to be officially tedious, with BMW parsing automotive segments like old-school English teachers going after Proust, which is beyond tedious as well. And the now obligatory German auto manufacturer option dance - a regimen Porsche created and perfected - reaches new heights of absurdity here. I agree with WG, I'd take a nicely-equipped 3 Series sedan all day long over this car, and I'd still have enough cash left over to buy one of those absurdly expensive hipster bicycles to pedal around Brooklyn with. -PMD
2015 BMW 435i Gran Coupe: $64,225 ($45,800 Base Price; Carbon Black Metallic, $550; Ivory White/Black Dakota Leather, included; 3.0-liter, 24-valve, inline 6-cylinder BMW TwinPower Turbo with high-precision direct fuel-injection, Double-VANOS and Valvetronic variable valve control, 300HP and 295lbs-ft of torque; 8-speed automatic gearbox; Auto start-stop function; Driving Dynamics control with ECO PRO, COMFORT, SPORT and SPORT+ settings; Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) including Brake Fade Compensation, Start-off Assistant, Brake Drying and Brake Stand-by features with Dynamic Traction Control (DTC); High-performance, lightweight, 4-wheel ventilated disc brakes with anti-lock braking system (ABS); Dynamic Brake Control (DBC) and Cornering Brake Control (CBC); Xenon adaptive headlights with dynamic auto leveling, Corona headlight rings and LED accent lights; Halogen free-form front foglights; Power front seats with driver's seat and mirror memory; Split fold-down through-load rear seats; AM/FM/CD/MP3 player audio system with HD radio; 3-spoke, leather-wrapped, multi-function sport steering wheel; USB audio connection and hands-free Bluetooth including Audio Streaming; iDrive system with on-board computer, 6.5-inch center screen and eight programmable memory buttons; Automatic climate control; 2-way power glass moonroof with sliding interior sunshade; Power-adjustable folding exterior mirrors with automatic-dimming function; Power tailgate; Rain-sensing windshield wipers and automatic headlight control; M Sport - Adaptive M suspension, Sport seats, Brushed aluminum trim, High-gloss black trim highlight, M steering wheel, Aerodynamic kit, Shadowline exterior trim, Anthracite headliner - $3,100; 19" M Sport Performance alloy wheels, $900; Cold Weather Package - Heated steering wheel, Heated front seats, Heated rear seats, Retractable headlight washers - $950; Driver Assistance Package - Rear-view camera, Park Distance Control - $950; Dynamic Handling Package - Variable sport steering - $1,000; Lighting Package - Adaptive full LED lights, Automatic high beams - $1,900; Premium Package - Comfort access keyless entry, Lumbar support, Satellite radio with one year subscription - $2,200; Technology Package - Navigation system, Head-up display, BMW Online and BMW Apps, Advanced RTTI, Remote services - $3,150; M Sport brakes, $650; Side and Top View cameras, $750; Harman Kardon surround sound, $875; Enhanced B/T and Spartphone In, $500; Destination charge, $950.
Adherence to Brand Image: Yes, this BMW does, in fact, drive and feel like a BMW should. Which is a very good thing. But the whole "4-door Coupe" business, which is nothing more than a blatant ploy to extract even more money out of the BMW faithful, is a huge drawback here. There are other machines in the BMW fleet that are much more attractive propositions than this one. -PMD