Editor-in-Chief's Note: From the "They Don't Call 'Em Marketing Geniuses For Nothin'" File, Bloomberg is reporting that BMW AG has decided that Mini has gotten too big and will shrink the compact brand's lineup to five models from eight. Wow, this passes for a revelation? Oh, but they didn't just stop with renewing their interest in marketing common sense, oh no. Because now Mini will, according to its brand honcho, Peter Schwarzenbauer, focus on "superhero" vehicles including the three- and five-door versions of the basic hatchback, the Countryman crossover and the Clubman wagon, which will be revamped next year. "Like a superhero, each of these cars has its own personality and unique capabilities," said Schwarzenbauer in a speech prepared for an event near BMW's Munich headquarters, as Bloomberg reported. "It is important to find the right balance between growth, on the one hand, and profitability, on the other." Really? This is yet another revelation? Beyond pathetic. - PMD
Infiniti won the first-ever People’s Choice Award as part of the 11th annual Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge with SYNAPTIQ, the company's answer to this year’s theme of “Sensing the Future: How Will Cars Interact With Us In 2029?” Infiniti designers from its San Diego studio looked toward the future in which augmented reality, 3D hologram and wearable technologies may be a part of the everyday driving experience, creating a seamless interaction between man and machine. Then, to demonstrate exactly how these futuristic technologies could be used to make driving even more interactive, "the Infiniti Design team imagined a vehicle triathlon called the A.R.C.," according to Infiniti, which is made up of air, rally and circuit competitions. For each of the three races, "the SYNAPTIQ design provides a universal fuselage for the driver to control each of the different air, rally and circuit vehicles." Well, that's all well and good, but GM's Chaparral concept was much more riveting to look at.
Editor's Note: The 2014 RS 7 that we had this summer was Peter's favorite car of this driving year, so when the 2015 version arrived, it was my turn. The S6 we had last week was wonderful in its own right, but I'm confining my comments to the much hotter RS 7. Monday afternoon I drove - no, make that flew - to Ann Arbor in the Audi supercar. My lead foot was more than sufficiently rewarded by the 560hp V8. When you choose to engage it, this machine is a beast, there's no other way to say it. But in normal driving around town, it is perfectly tame and demure, except, of course, for that delicious engine growl, which signals the RS 7's impatience to be unleashed. That's probably what I like most about this car. It's an "ordinary" luxury car, but it becomes extraordinary with a tap of the foot. And then suddenly you're on a different level altogether. Inside is another amazing Audi interior (the consistency across models is truly mind-boggling), although I would have liked some of the controls to be a bit more intuitive (I have zero patience for trying to figure that stuff out). I've decided to give a stranger at Zingerman's in Ann Arbor the last word here. As I was getting into the RS 7, a voice behind me called out, "That car is awesome! I'm not shittin' you - that thing is bad ass!!!" Enough said. -WG
2015 Audi RS 7 4.0T quattro Tiptronic: $122,625 ($106,500 Base Price; Nardo Gray; Black Interior; 4.0-liter TFSI V8 with 560HP and 516 lbs-ft of torque; quattro all-wheel-drive system with sports rear differential; Eight-speed Tiptronic transmission; 20" forged 7-twin-spoke-RS-design wheels with 275/35 summer performance tires; Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Anti-lock brake system (ABS); Ventilated disc brakes front and rear; Electromechanical speed-sensitive power steering; Energy recuperation without start-stop system; Tire mobility kit (without spare tire); Power sunroof; Full LED headlights (DRLs, low/high beams, turn signals); Auto dimming, power folding, heated exterior mirrors; 12-way power adjustable sport front seats including lumbar adjustment; Heated front seats; Four-zone automatic climate control; Head up display; Audi advanced key; Audi side assist; Audi navigation plus with MMI touch; Audi connect with six month subscription; SIRIUS Satellite radio with three-month complimentary subscription; Three-spoke multifunction steering wheel with shift paddles; BOSE Surround Sound System; Garage door opener (HomeLink); Preparation for mobile phone (Bluetooth); Audi parking system plus with rear view camera; Dynamic Package - Sport suspension with Dynamic Ride Control, Dynamic steering, Red brake calipers, front and rear, Sport exhaust with black finishers - $5,500; Carbon Optic Package - High Gloss Black package, Front spoiler and rear diffuser in carbon, Exterior mirror housings in body color - $4,000; Driver Assistance Package - Audi adaptive cruise control with stop & go, Audi pre sense plus, Audi active lane assist, Corner view camera system - $2,800; Extended Carbon Package - Exterior mirrors in carbon, Carbon accents on engine cover - $1,900; 21" 5-spoke Blade-design wheels with gloss black finish and summer performance tires, $1,000; Front filler panel; Destination charge, $925)
Adherence to Brand Image: Last summer, Peter described the RS 7 as an "everyday supercar," and I concur. It is Audi through and through, a technological marvel and a stunning representative of the brand. -WG
2015 Audi S6 4.0T quattro S tronic: $81, 675 ($75,500 Base Price; Sepang Blue Pearl Effect, $550; Black Interior; 4.0-liter TFSI V8 with 420HP and 406 lbs-ft of torque; quattro all-wheel-drive system with sports rear differential; Seven-speed S tronic transmission; 19" 5-parallel-spoke-S-design wheels with 255/40 summer performance tires; Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Anti-lock brake system (ABS); Ventilated disc brakes front and rear; Electromechanical speed-sensitive power steering; TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system); Temporary compact spare tire; Power sunroof; Full LED headlights (DRLs, low/high beams, turn signals); Auto dimming, power folding, heated exterior mirrors; 12-way power adjustable S sport front seats including lumbar adjustment; Heated front seats; Valcona leather seats; Four-zone automatic climate control; Head up display; Audi navigation plus with MMI touch; SIRIUS Satellite radio with three-month complimentary subscription; BOSE Surround Sound System; Audi connect with six month subscription; Three-spoke leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel with shift paddles; Audi side assist; Garage door opener (HomeLink); Preparation for mobile phone (Bluetooth); Audi parking system plus with rear view camera; Driver Assistance Package - Audi adaptive cruise control with stop & go, Audi pre sense plus, Audi active lane assist, Top view camera system - $2,800; 20" Wheel Package - 5-parallel-spoke S-design wheels with summer performance tires - $1,000; Layered Aluminum/Black wood inlays, $900; Black headliner, Front filler panel; Destination charge, $925)