Editor-In-Chief's Note: For more on Sergio's "consolidation" push, read David Welch's excellent piece, "With Deal Pitch Marchionne Is Fighting History of Failed Mergers" in Bloomberg here. -PMD
Editor-In-Chief's Note: Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee." Just perfect. -PMD
BMW has announced the all-new 2016 BMW X1 Sports Activity Vehicle. After basically phoning it with the first one, BMW has made the new X1 roomier and more efficient. The BMW X1 xDrive28i will be the exclusive model in the U.S. at launch and it will be powered by a 228HP 2.0-liter TwinTurbo 4-cylinder engine from BMW’s new family of modular engines. An 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission is part of the package, as is BMW's xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system and newly developed chassis technology. The 2016 BMW X1 xDrive28i will arrive in U.S. showrooms this Fall.
Editor-in-Chief's Note: Our "Quick Take" this week has us back in an Audi, this time a 2016 Audi A7 3.0T quattro. It's no secret that we consider Audi to be one of the premier automobile companies in the world, because the level of focused consistency and excellence in execution they deliver throughout their product lineup is indeed impressive. I consider the RS 7 to be the best daily super car I have ever driven, but the goodness of the "standard" A7 is impressive in its own right, albeit for different reasons. Our heavily loaded A7 was resplendent in Ibis White, set off dramatically by its luscious Nougat Brown interior with layered walnut wood inlays. To say that the cabin in the A7 is first-rate isn't doing it justice. It is as good, if not better than anything else in the business. It is a tired cliche to say that Audi is the standard by which all other interiors are judged, but I don't ever tire of sustained excellence, and I detect no signs that Audi is resting on its laurels when it comes to interior design and execution. The A7's 333HP 3.0-liter V6 and eight-speed transmission are perfectly matched, providing seamless, responsiveness power no matter what the driving situation demands, which sounds like ho-hum stuff until you experience just how seamless it really is firsthand. This car isn't cheap by any means at $77,000+ fully loaded, but you do get what you pay for, and then some. I would, however, dispense with the Driver Assistance package because of the active lane assist feature. I found it to be so totally annoying that it really started to piss me off, because it gets in the way of driving for those people who actually like to drive as opposed to just phoning - or texting - it in. In short, I despise it. In general, I find these burgeoning driving aids - from all manufacturers - to be aimed at the lowest-common-denominator driver. And given the general declining - or just plain piss-poor - state of the average driver's skills, maybe that's a good thing. But I am personally not a fan, and I want to see these manufacturers make these driver aids individual options so that there is a modicum of choice, instead of packaging them up in various "technology" packages. Enough of about that. The Audi A7 has to be considered the state of the automotive art when it comes to desirable luxury-performance machines, or it's at least on a very short list. -PMD
2016 Audi A7 Sedan 3.0T quattro Tiptronic: $77,725 ($68,300 Base Price; Ibis White; Nougat Brown Interior; 3.0-liter TFSI V6 with 333HP and 325 lbs-ft of torque; quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system with 40:60 torque split; Eight-speed Tiptronic transmission; 19" 5-spoke V-design wheels with 255/40 all-season tires; Electronic Stability Control (ESC); Audi drive select; Ventilated disc brakes front (14") and rear (13"); Anti-lock brake system (ABS) with brake assist; Electromechanical power steering system; Energy recuperation with start-stop system; Spare tire (space saver); Power sunroof; Full LED headlights (DRLs, low/high beams, turn signals); Auto dimming, power-folding, heated exterior mirrors; Power adjustable steering column + memory; 5-passenger configuration (three rear seats); Split-folding rear seat back with pass-through (60/40); 8-way power adjustable heated front seats with four-way lumbar adjustment; Leather seating surfaces; Fine Grain Ash natural inlays; Four-zone automatic climate control; Audi advanced key; Audi side assist; Power tailgate; Audi sound system; Audi navigation with MMI touch; Audi connect (with six-month subscription); Audi music interface (two USB ports with AMI functionality); SIRIUS Satellite radio (with three-month complimentary subscription); Three-spoke multifunction steering wheel with shift paddles; Garage door opener (HomeLink); preparation for mobile phone (Bluetooth); Audi parking system plus with rear view camera; A7 Prestige model - BOSE surround sound, Front seat ventilation and passenger lumbar, Head-up display, LED interior lighting - $2,650; Driver Assistance package - Audi adaptive cruise control with stop and go, Audi pre sense plus, Audi active lane assist, Corner view camera system, High-beam assistant - $2,450; 20" Wheel package - 5-spoke W-design wheels, bi-color, All-season tires (supersedes wheels in next package) - $1,200; S line sport package - 19" 7-Double-spoke wheels, Galvano Silver, all-season tires, Sport suspension, S line exterior - $1,000; Layered Walnut Wood decorative inlays, $700; Cold Weather package - Heated rear seats, Heated steering wheel - $500; Black headliner, Front filler panel, Summer tires, Destination charge, $895)
Adherence to Brand Image: If and when you sample an A7, you'll quickly realize that you're driving a living, breathing example of what the essence of Audi is all about. Impeccable design. Near-flawless execution. Seamless performance. And palpable desirability. -PMD
Letter from L.A.
By Tom Pease
Beverly Hills. So Sergio is still trying to sell the idea that Alfa Romeo will be taking the States by storm in the next couple years? Gee, it only took Audi decades to get over the (manufactured by "60 Minutes") “unintended acceleration” fiasco to become the company it is today, and it did that by building cars that are superbly engineered, flawlessly built and with interiors so well done that even Bentley is sitting in the corner nervously smoking.
What memories is Alfa bringing? Gorgeously-bodied, fun-to-drive cars that also deliver that singular thrill of wondering “will this thing make it to the Piggly Wiggly and back without throwing a piston?”
Alfa hasn't had 30 years of product here to live that rep down. Just stating they will is sort of like me saying that this year I'll win an Emmy for best supporting actress in a musical or comedy. I can say it, but it hasn't happened yet and it's likely not going to happen anytime soon.