Tag archives for BMW
Attention all college grads with an engineering degree (and a slight interest in cars): add the Renault-Nissan Alliance to your job hunting list of automotive companies that have been actively seeking and hiring talent to fill engineering and technology jobs. The group announced that in a few weeks it will open its doors to a new research office in Silicon Valley, which is home to a number of high-tech giants.
According to a prepared statement yesterday, the new Northern California office will play an important role in ensuring the group stays “ahead of trends that are reshaping the way people interact with their cars.” The office will research and develop upcoming in-car tech including advanced display interfaces and Internet connectivity. And as one the most prominent manufacturers of electric vehicles, Nissan will use the office to advance its influence in green technology.
Speaking yesterday at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), Carlos Ghosn, CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, said, “The Alliance is at the vanguard of the auto industry’s shift to sustainable transportation. Having a greater footprint in one of the world’s headquarters for clean tech research will extend our lead further.” Ghosn also stated that green-tech research is having a positive impact on the economy as well as the job market in the auto industry.
Last year, more than 32,000 jobs were created in the industry including thousands of engineering positions. At the 2011 Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress held last month, more than 10,000 attendees had the opportunity to check out and seek possible employment from 35 companies in the engineering field, including Chyrsler, Ford and General Motors. Back in March, we reported that the Detroit three were recruiting newly minted engineering grads for new tech jobs. Attracting graduates to apply has been a challenge, however, mainly due to the low starting wages in Detroit, especially when compared to similar positions Silicon Valley.
In addition to Renault-Nissan’s new office, a number of automakers also have a presence in the high-tech hotspot. BMW’s Technology Office in Palo Alto, California, for example, opened over a decade ago and played a big role in the inception and subsequent revisions to the automaker’s iDrive interface system. Mercedes-Benz has a Silicon Valley-based Group and Advanced Engineering office, which recently developed the smart drive app for the iPhone and has been involved in the testing of fuel-cell vehicles. The Volkswagen Group recently opened an Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) in Belmont, California, which will develop future infotainment platforms and driver assistance systems. Lastly, Tesla Motors, makers of the all-electric roadster and the upcoming Tesla S sedan, is headquartered in Northern California, and took over the GM/Toyota NUMMI joint-venture assembly plant in Fremont.
Is the future of the U.S. car industry moving away from Detroit to high-tech areas like Silicon Valley?
Source: Nissan, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Tesla
In which we bring you motoring news from around the Web:
• Under scrutiny for bypassing a traditional, dealership-oriented retail model in favor of manufacturer-owned stores, Elon Musk, chairman of Tesla Motors, defended his company’s strategy in a blog post on Monday. Mr. Musk said Tesla products would be undermined in the setting of a traditional dealership, where a salesperson would be unable “to explain the advantages of going electric without simultaneously undermining their traditional business.” Mr. Musk said two lawsuits asserting Tesla circumvented state laws aimed at protecting franchisees were baseless because Tesla has not granted any franchises. (Tesla Motors)
• Facing a crisis of overcapacity at its plants in Europe and a projected loss of more than $1 billion in the region this year, Ford has called a meeting for Wednesday with union leaders to discuss the status of its plant in Genk, Belgium. Some media outlets, including the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, have reported that Ford intended to close the plant outright. (Bloomberg)
• On Monday, the eve of the São Paulo auto show, BMW announced its intention to build a production plant in the southern state of Santa Catarina, Brazil. Plans for the facility are subject to government approval, but BMW has aggressive targets, saying it would inaugurate the plant in 2014 with capacity to produce 30,000 vehicles annually. (BMW)
• Chevrolet said it would introduce the next generation of the Silverado 1500 full-size pickup truck on Dec. 13, a month ahead of the 2013 Detroit auto show. The automaker has not disclosed pricing or powertrain information for the truck, but emphasized it would have progressive design elements, including “jewel-like, projector beam headlamps.” (General Motors)
Attention F10 BMW M5 owners: feeling a bit inadequate now that an electric-powered new kid on the block can beat you from 0-60 mph? Then Switzer might have a remedy. With just a few tweaks, the Ohio-based tuner has boosted the M5’s power figures from the factory-rated 560 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque to nearly 700 hp and 640 lb-ft (at the crank). Switzer is calling it the “M5 BMW should have built!”
The list of modifications is relatively short. A new engine control unit squeezes more boost from the twin turbos in the M5’s 4.4-liter V-8. Next, a Switzer exhaust and high-flow air filter round off the P700 package. The tuner didn’t provide any acceleration times, but we’re guessing it should shave off a couple tenths from the 3.7-second 0-60 mph run we recently achieved in an M5 (with the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox). Better yet, Switzer says the new exhaust provides an aural benefit, with just enough punch to enter the cabin naturally, which means owners could theoretically disconnect the artificial engine noise currently produced through the M5’s stereo speakers.
The upgrade package is priced at $6995. Switzer will release more M5-specific items this summer, including wheels and carbon-nano brake pads. The P700 BMW M5 sounds promising and we’re eager to see how it performs against its German rivals and the surprisingly quick Tesla Model S.
It’s Car of the Year time again! Over the past two weeks we’ve been teasing new 2013 Car of the Year contenders every day. With the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year announcement coming Monday, November 12 at 6:30 p.m. EST, we thought it’d be fun to ask which contender you think will take home the golden calipers.
But since we get this question at each Of The Year event, we’d like to provide a friendly reminder that Car of the Year is only open to new or significantly updated vehicles that cost $120,000 or less. That means that the 2013 Ford Fusion is eligible for Car of the Year because it’s a full update, while the 2013 Ford Focus ST isn’t, since only one trim level is new, not the whole car. With that cleared up, let’s take a look at the contenders.
Acura ILX – We Like: Available swift-shifting manual and Honda Civic Si drivetrain. We Don’t Like: Questionable value in certain trims.
BMW 3 Series – We Like: The developed and mature feel of the car; “amazing” handling. We Don’t Like: A bit softer than previous 3 Series cars
Cadillac ATS – We Like: Excellent steering, firm chassis and impressive dynamics. We Don’t Like: Balky manual transmission.
Cadillac XTS – We Like: Exceptionally smooth ride; rock solid at triple-digit speeds. We Don’t Like: 3.6-liter V-6 could use a bit more refinement.
Chevrolet Malibu – We Like: We generally liked the Malibu’s interior design. We Don’t Like: We found the backseat too cramped for adults.
Chevrolet Spark – We Like: Surprisingly fun to toss around; well-appointed interior. We Don’t Like: Low handling limits.
Coda EV Sedan – We Like: It’s a cheap and cheerful electric car, with a long range. We Don’t Like: Subpar interior, bland design.
Dodge Dart – We Like: Pleasant styling, excellent value. We Don’t Like: “Dead” steering feel.
Ford C-Max—We Like: Ease of electric-only driving, the fact that it’s a fun-to-drive hybrid. We Don’t Like: Tires lack the grip to live up to the chassis.
Ford Fusion – We Like: Excellent steering feedback on 1.6 EcoBoost model; vast array of engine, transmission, and drivetrain options. We Don’t Like: Not as fun to drive as the outgoing Fusion.
Honda Accord – We Like: Crisp handling, and buttoned-down interior. We Don’t Like: Surge-y, on-off throttle response at low speed with the CVT.
Hyundai Azera – We Like: Comfortable, roomy cabin with huge trunk. We Don’t Like: Polarizing styling.
Lexus ES – We Like: High-quality interior and roomy backseat. We Don’t Like: Hybrid suffered from a sloppy transition between regenerative and mechanical braking.
Lexus GS – We Like: Whole lineup was fun to drive – even the Hybrid; high-caliber interior design and materials. We Don’t Like: The haptic, mouse-like controller that operates the infotainment system.
Lexus LS – We Like: Comfortable and quiet ride; V-8 grunt. We Don’t Like: Not as much of a game-changer as the original LS.
Mercedes-Benz SL-Class – We Like: An excellent Grand Tourer; felt unflappable at high speeds. We Don’t Like: More horsepower than handling prowess.
Nissan Altima – We Like: Beautiful interior and comfortable seats. We Don’t Like: Could benefit from retuned steering.
Nissan Sentra – We Like: Baby Altima styling, and genuinely roomy interior. We Don’t Like: CVT and engine moan.
Porsche 911 – We Like: An incredibly usable supercar. We Don’t Like: Too obvious that Porsche spent more time developing the PDK than the manual.
Porsche Boxster – We Like: Exceptional build quality, beautiful balance. We Don’t Like: Poor value.
Scion FR-S – We Like: Incredibly fun to drive and an excellent value. We Don’t Like: Cheap-feeling interior.
Subaru BRZ – We Like: Terrific chassis; superb balance, and steering. We Don’t Like: We want more power.
Tesla Model S – We Like: Long range combined with excellent performance. We Don’t Like: Styling a bit safe.
Toyota Avalon – We Like: Great ride and handling; nicely appointed interior. We Don’t Like: A face only a mother could love.
Toyota Prius C – We Like: Cheap and cheerful appeal. We Don’t Like: This car is no fun.
Which contender do you think will take home the Golden Calipers as our 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year? Sound off in the poll and in the comments below.
To compete for the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year title, contenders must be all new or significantly revised 2013-model-year cars or 2012-model-year cars that went on sale too late for 2012 COTY consideration. All eligible vehicles are invited to compete. Check back to MotorTrend.com on November 12 at 3:30 p.m. PST / 6:30 p.m. EST to discover what will become the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year!
The New Year promises to bring lots of automotive cheer and new sheet metal to Motor Trend’s garage. Below is a list of more than a dozen new vehicles slated to hit the market in 2012, which should be more than enough to keep us busy with drives, tests, and reviews. The Motor Trend staff was tasked with the difficult job of picking their top three cars from the list below that they can’t wait to drive in 2012, and from there we tallied up the Top 5 vote getters. Do you agree with the winners? Sound off below.
2012 BMW M5
2013 Cadillac ATS
2013 Chevy Sonic RS
2013 Dodge Dart
2013 Ford Focus ST
2013 Ford Shelby GT500
2013 Mini Countryman JCW
2013 Porsche 911 Turbo
2013 SRT Viper
2013 Subaru BRZ/ Scion FR-S
2013 Subaru WRX/STI
2013 Tesla Model S
2013 Volkswagen Golf R
1. 2013 Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Toyota and Subaru have been hard at work jointly developing an affordable and fun-to-drive, rear-wheel drive sports car for the masses. And if you’ve been visiting www.motortrend.com, you’ve probably noticed both companies teasing us with sketches, specs, show cars, camouflaged cars, and on and on and on for years now. Well, 2012 is the year to find out if all the hard work and teasing has been worth the wait. And from our initial drives thus far, the BRZ and FR-S look very promising.
First Drive: 2013 Scion FR-S
First Drive: 2013 Subaru BRZ
2. 2013 SRT Viper
After a years-long hiatus, the Viper is coming back with its snake eyes set on the Corvette and Porsche 911. Expect many changes to the iconic American sports car, especially with Fiat now at the helm of Chrysler. We’ve heard the Italians, who know a little bit about sports cars, have been involved in the new Viper’s development. In addition, the 2013 Viper will be sold under the newly formed SRT brand, s0 it’s more critical than ever that the new Viper will be a world-class performer both on and off the track. As MT’s digital director Mike Floyd states, the 2013 SRT Viper is the “halo car SRT/Chrysler desperately needs if it’s going to be taken seriously as a true global performance brand.” And just to reiterate, “the pressure on this one is massive,” says editor-in-chief Ed Loh. “Looking forward to the return of the beast.”
3. Tied: 2012 BMW M5 and 2013 Cadillac ATS
2012 BMW M5
How will a turbocharged, eight-cylinder M5 perform on the road and on the track? That’s exactly what MT staffers are eager to find out. Road test editor Scott Mortara was among the first bunch of lucky journalists to drive the new M5 and he seemed to like it. “Without a doubt, the new 2012 BMW M5 is better than its predecessor in every way,” Mortara wrote in his first drive review of the 2012 M5. “Some say they’ll miss the high-rpm V-10 screaming under the hood. Not me. I’ll take this subtle torque monster any day. Much like a purveyor of fine spirits, when an automaker starts with quality components, and adds time, insight, and desire, it’s possible to create something amazing — a vintage that can truly be savored. With the new M5, BMW has done just that.”
2013 Cadillac ATS
“Every few years some car maker declares they’ve cracked the 3 Series code,” said senior features editor Jonny Lieberman. “None succeed. However, Caddy actually went to Germany, Bimmer’s home turf. So, maybe.”
Just maybe. So what is Lieberman talking about exactly? Well, as former editor-in-chief Angus MacKenzie adds, “the engineering team picked the delightful E46 3 Series as its dynamic benchmark for the new baby Caddy.” And as we’ve seen from the countless videos Cadillac has produced, the development team has spent countless hours and laps around the famed Nurburgring for testing. Given what we’ve seen so far, it’s hard to imagine what else General Motors could’ve done to develop its new 3 Series fighter. MacKenzie continues, “I can’t wait to find out if Detroit can really out-BMW BMW.” Neither can we.
4. Three-Way Tie: Ford Focus ST, Volkswagen Golf R, and Tesla Model S
2013 Ford Focus ST
With past generations of the Focus, we Americans have always lamented that the sportiest Focus models over the years were sadly out of our reach, available only in Europe and elsewhere. That all changes with the 2013 Focus ST. The 2012 Ford Focus has proven itself as having good bones; with the additional performance of the ST model, Ford may again have a real hot hatch competitor in the U.S. — if it’s not priced out of the market. So what are we looking forward to exactly? Basically, it’s the 2.0-liter, 250-hp, turbocharged, Ecoboost four banger wrapped around sleek sheetmetal. “After years of watered-down, rental-fleet Foci, Ford finally brings us a real contender in the ST,” said news director Ed Sanchez. “The VW GTI and Mazdaspeed 3 will have to make room in the sandbox for the new kid from Dearborn.”
2012 Volkswagen Golf R
We liked the first-gen Volkswagen R32, which was armed with the burbling 250-hp,VR6 engine and a manual transmission, and all-wheel-drive. The VR6 carried over in the second-gen R32, but it was only offered with the DSG transmission, which wasn’t a bad thing — unless you, like most of us in the office, are diehard fans of the third pedal. The 2013 Golf R is coming to America in manual transmission-form only and will be powered by a new 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder making 260-hp, and fitted with VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. Will we miss the VR6? Stay tuned to find out.
2012 Tesla Model S
Following the incredibly fast Tesla Roadster comes the Model S, the electric car for every (well off) man. Tesla recently confirmed a base price of $49,900, which includes a 40kWh battery and a range of 160 miles, which should be good enough for most Americans. “Sexy styling, cutting-edge tech. What’s not to like,” asks Sanchez. “Granted, Tesla has its share of skeptics and haters, but this could be the breakthrough car for the still-struggling electric upstart.”
5. Tied: 2013 Dodge Dart and 2013 Porsche 911 Turbo
2013 Dodge Dart
It’s been awhile since Dodge has produced a remotely memorable compact car (Dodge Neon anyone?). The 2013 Dodge Dart should change that. “As the Caliber retires, we might soon see an Elantra-like transformation here for Dodge in the compact car segment,” opined copy editor Zach Gale. “I can’t wait to discover whether that nine-speed automatic transmission performs smoothly or constantly hunts for gears.”
2013 Porsche 911 Turbo
Executive editor Ron Kiino recently had some wheel time behind the new 991 Porsche 911 and expects it to continue on as a sports car benchmark. “When we want to say just how quick a car is, or how well it handles, or how amazing its steering is, well, there’s one reference we turn to, Kiino wrote in his first drive of the 2012 Porsche 911. ‘”The new Evo corners as well as a 911!’ ‘This ‘Vette is even quicker than a 911!’ ‘The GT-R is so fast it can hang with a 911 Turbo!’ You get the point.” And like always, Porsche will keep things interesting with a number of variants such as the turbo. “The old 911 Turbo was Veyron-lite; delivering staggering acceleration and a swaggering sense of invincibility on the road,” said MacKenzie. “My wheeltime in the new Carrera S suggests this latest 911 is the best ever. If the new 911 Turbo delivers the same step-change, it’s going to be a helluva car.”
Motor Trend Car of the Year, 2013 Honda Civic, 2014 Ford Mustang, Global Ford Ranger wins award
Episode #308 of the Autoblog Podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Zach Bowman and Jeff Ross talk about the Tesla Model S being named Motor Trend Car of the Year, the 2013 Honda Civic and the new hybrid systems and Micro Commuter concept also coming out of Honda, the 2014 Ford Mustang and the departure of the Boss 302, and the global Ford Ranger winning an International Truck award. For those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. Keep reading for our Q&A module for you to scroll through and follow along, too. Thanks for listening!
Autoblog Podcast #308:
- 2013 Honda Civic, plus new hybrid systems and Micro Commuter concept
- Rest-of-World Ford Ranger wins International Truck award
- Motor Trend Car of the Year
- 2014 Ford Mustang details and the departure of the Boss 302
In the Autoblog Garage:
2013 Volvo S80 T6 AWD Inscription
2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe
2013 Infiniti FX37
Hosts: Dan Roth, Zach Bowman, Jeff Ross
Get the podcast
[UStream] Listen live on Mondays at 10PM Eastern at UStream
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Email: Podcast at Autoblog dot com
Review the show in iTunes
By Dan Roth
Popular Science has named the winners in its Best of What’s New awards, the victors coming in the categories of aerospace, automotive, engineering, entertainment, gadgets, green, hardware, health, home, recreation, security and software. The automotive category did not go wanting for lauded advancements:
- Tesla Model S: the Grand Award winner for being “the standard by which all future electric vehicles will be measured.”
- BMW 328i: it’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gets called out for being more powerful and frugal than the six-cylinder it replaces.
- Ferrari F12 Berlinetta: towering power, towering top speed, 30 percent more fuel efficient than the 599 Fiorano it replaces.
- Toyota RAV4 EV: the all-electric SUV accelerates better than many conventional SUVs, goes 100 mph and actually beats EPA mileage estimates.
- Porsche Cayenne Diesel: 406 pound-feet of torque, 33 highway mpg, up to 800 miles from a single tank and Cayenne style, give ‘em a trophy.
- 2013 Ford Fusion: its three flavors – standard, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid – “are the most efficient models in their classes,” that latter one expected to outdo the Chevrolet Volt’s EPA mileage rating.
- The DeltaWing: gets kudos for being “the most efficient racecar in history.”
- Mercedes-Benz Magic Vision Control: a holistic solution to keeping your windshield clean and clear year-round.
- General Motors’ MyLink: takes the in-car computer out of the car, puts it in the driver’s smartphone.
- Infiniti Back-Up Collision Intervention: rear-mounted radar and sonar keep track of what’s behind you and brake automatically if an obstacle is detected so you don’t hit things when you back that Infiniti up.
The automotive category tied with categories like aerospace and health for the number of awards. Congratulations to all the winners, head on over to PopSci for the full details on each of them.
Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive
Happy Automobile of the Year week! With just days to go before we release the identity of the 2013 Automobile of the Year, we thought it would be best to catch you up on the proceedings and let you know a little bit more about what went down earlier this month.
We took 28 of the best and brightest cars that were new for the 2012/2013 model years to our favorite western Michigan hideaway, Gingerman Raceway in South Haven. Over the course of three days (two driving just on public roads, one driving just on Gingerman’s 2.1-mile road course), editors had the chance to drive each and every one of them and name a winner.
To make our jobs (slightly) easier, we also decided to name a “shortlist,” 10 finalists that went from merely being nominated for 2013 Automobile of the Year to being on the final ballot when we chose a winner. We’ve revealed the final ten in the following pages, and provided a little bit of real-time insight as our editors climbed out of each car, snapped photos on Instagram, and tapped out quick responses on Twitter.
By Ben Timmins
Are electric cars always slow, planet-saving vehicles? Not necessarily. Contributor Ezra Dyer recently pitted a Tesla Model S electric sedan against one of Germany’s hottest performance four-doors — the 2013 BMW M5 — in an impromptu drag race, and the result was closer than anyone expected.
Dyer subjected the two luxury sedans to a 0-to-100-mph drag race at Gingerman Raceway in western Michigan. While we won’t spoil the result, it’s worth looking at how the two cars compare on paper. The 2013 BMW M5 has a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 engine with 560 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission directs that power to the rear wheels. The EPA says the car swills gas at a rate of 14/20 mpg (city/highway).
The 2013 Tesla Model S Performance uses a rear-mounted electric motor rated for 416 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. That’s less grunt than the BMW, but the key is that the motor produces all of its torque instantly, whereas the M5′s torque band peaks at 1500 rpm. The Tesla’s electric motor is backed up by an 85-kWh lithium-ion battery that the company claims will allow for a driving range of about 300 miles per charge.
When it comes to price and weight, there’s little difference between the two. The BMW M5 seen here wears an as-tested sticker of $106,695 (after destination) and weighs 4387 lbs, while the Tesla Model S Performance costs $102,270 and tips the scales at 4640 lbs.
So, which will take the drag-racing crown: a twin-turbocharged gasoline performance sedan, or a futuristic electric luxury car? Watch the video below to find out.
By Jake Holmes
And just like that, we’re closing the book on 2012 and preparing to start 2013. Motor Trend staffers were lucky enough to drive a wide assortment of fantastic cars, with everything from the 74-hp Volkswagen Up! to the 691-hp Lamborghini Aventador passing through our garage. Of the hundreds of cars we’ve driven this year, these are the cars that stood out most to our editors in 2012, for better and for worse.
Erick Ayapana, Associate Online Editor:
Best: 2013 Porsche Boxster S
I only needed a few minutes in the 2013 Porsche Boxster S before feeling completely comfortable driving the car at its limits. No other car I’ve driven this year has felt as perfect or as fun to drive as the Boxster. And how about that back side? The Boxster’s spoiler (and how it blends into the taillight units) is hands down the sexiest automotive design feature I’ve seen all year.
Worst: 2012 Volkswagen Routan
The VW logo on the steering wheels said I was driving a Volkswagen, but it sure didn’t feel like it. Again, this is nothing more than a rebadged Chrysler Town & Country and nothing about the minivan feels remotely German. Case in point: we all know that German carmakers treat cup holders like the plague, yet the Routan’s Getränkehalter (cup holder) count totals 15.
Mike Febbo, Associate Editor:
Best: Porsche 911 Carrera S
I proclaimed the beginning of the end when the 996 replaced the air-cooled 993, but became a believer again after first driving the 997. As for the 991, the car has restored my faith in Porsche as the best sports car builder on the planet. From driving position, to steering, to the new PDK gearbox, everything about the 991 is exceptional.
Worst: BMW e39 M5 at the Nurburgring
While the e39 M5 is one of the best sedans ever built, this particular car was on its factory tires — the tires fitted when it was built. After a few years of hard use and then being put into storage, these near slick chunks of carbon offered just slightly more grip than the wheels they were mounted on. On a rain-soaked track in just over freezing temperatures, this was one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve had as a journalist.
Mike Floyd, Senior Digital Content Director:
Best: Cadillac ATS
Other than our esteemed 2013 Car of the Year — the out-of-this-world Tesla Model S — the car I was most impressed with in 2012 was the Cadillac ATS. Anyone who thinks General Motors can’t build world-class cars needs to beat feet down to a Cadillac dealer and get behind the wheel of the ATS. Both the turbo-four and V-6 powertrains are impressive, and while we had some issues with the manual (they assure us it’s being adjusted), the fact that they offer one at all was a huge bonus point in any enthusiast’s book — and mine as well. It looks good, handles great, moves out with authority and while a little fussy at times, its CUE telematics system is among the most impressive of its type out there. Bravo Cadillac, a sport sedan that truly has what it takes to compete with all comers.
Worst: Chevrolet Malibu
Conversely, the Chevrolet Malibu also shows how far GM has to go in some segments. At this year’s Car of the Year event, we had some of the heaviest hitters in the midsize sedan category out for evaluation, and the Malibu was literally crushed by the weight of new Accord, Fusion, and Altima. Its engine/transmission was underpowered and lazy, its steering was vague and suspension unsettled and its interior (at least the car we had at the event) was no match for its competitors. To put it bluntly, it simply cannot compete with the best the segment has to offer. We hear now that Chevrolet is rushing changes to the Malibu much as Honda did with the Civic. Let’s hope it helps, because the present Malibu is going to need all the massaging it can get to stay off the rental car lots.
Zach Gale, Online News Director:
Best: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG coupe
The Aston Martin DBS is more attractive than the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, but at least the German car doesn’t have a small, folding Garmin navigation screen at the top of its otherwise pleasing cabin. What excites me about the SLS AMG is its engine note. No modern supercar can be fully exploited safely on open-to-the-public winding roads, so I especially appreciate the SLS AMG’s engine sound and the wild appeal provided by the long hood and gullwing doors. My honorable mention might go to the Lexus GS 350, with its surprisingly good interior and decent driving dynamics.
Worst: Coda EV sedan
It must be a tough time to be a small electric-automaker, competing with well-funded entries from companies like Nissan and Chevrolet, but that doesn’t mean we can overlook the Coda EV sedan’s shortcomings. Though I love an underdog, this electric sedan has too many impossible-to-ignore shortcomings. Despite the bold five-spoke wheels, there’s the dated exterior styling and the interior’s center stack that’s simply not up to the class standard, with an ultra-low-mounted central screen and a general feeling that’s more “economy car” than “special electric sedan.” We want to like the Coda but, at least for me, I found it difficult to get past the packaging that helps keep costs down.
Jonny Lieberman, Senior Features Editor:
Best: Porsche 911 Carrera S
Yeah, the car that won the 2012 Best Drivers Car also won my heart. Other cars are faster, flashier, more practical, etc., but no car is as fun to throw around on your favorite mountain road. A huge improvement over what I thought was already nearly perfect (the old 997), the new 991 is a revelation. I can’t even imagine what the follow-up versions (Turbo, GT3, 50th Anniversary edition, etc.) will be like, but I can imagine how much I’ll like them. Runners up this year include the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Black Series Coupe, Mercedes-Benz CL65, Tesla Model S, Cadillac ATS 3.6, Toyota Avalon, and Morgan 3-Wheeler.
Worst: Chevrolet Malibu
Really GM? You knock one out of the park with the Caddy ATS and then revert back to your bad old ways with this… well, you can’t call it a car so much as a collection of bad things people associate with rental cars. Slow, bad brakes, clueless transmission, an engine that sounds like a vacuum cleaner sucking up a T-shirt, poor suspension, tight back seat, poor NVH, etc. I refer to the new Malibu around the office as “Dumpster Fire.” It’s that bad. Don’t believe me? GM is rushing the refresh. Runners up: Dodge Dart, Toyota Prius C, Lexus ES 350.
Ed Loh, Editor-in-Chief:
Best: Tesla Model S
Obviously our COTY! Everyone who has driven it comes away impressed; I have yet to find anyone who has not been “converted.” It also ranks as the most surprising for me. I remember flying to Las Vegas for the third long-distance test we did and feeling the weight of expectation as I approached it in the parking garage of the Aria casino. I remember feeling somewhat confused and lost when the valet handed me the key, because I had been so busy up until that moment of truth, I hadn’t paid much attention to the testing we had done, the feedback from colleagues Kim, Frank, Jessi, and Benson — in fact, I had no idea about how to open the car door or start it up, save the verbal instructions I had received the day before. And to my surprise – everything worked as promised. The door handle popped out when I pushed on it, the car magically came to life when I got it inside, and a minute later, as I pulled out of the darkness of the garage and into the bright daylight of Las Vegas, I forgot I was in an electric car. It was that seamless and smooth. Shocking really.
Worst/Most Disappointing: BMW M5
I was probably most disappointed by the BMW M5. Fast yes, but so much of the purity, of what made that car special, seems to have disappeared. It’s still fast, but its feels artificially enhanced and unnatural. On an industry level, I’m really sad to see Suzuki exit the U.S. market; they have a great sedan here (Kizashi) but that clearly wasn’t enough. Would have loved to see Swift and Jimny here, but those are fringe products; Suzuki went after mainstream volume and failed. Hyundai’s 40 MPG debacle is also incredibly disappointing, but only stands to highlight how important fuel economy is right now and will continue to be in the future.
Frank Markus, Technical Director:
Most Memorable: Lamborghini Aventador
To be clear, the best car I drove this year was Elon Musk’s personal Tesla Model S, which conveyed myself and Jessi Lang from L.A. to Vegas with no extension cord. But my most memorable drive of 2012 was a 2107-kilometer (1310 mile) trek from Sant’Agata Bolonese, Italy to Zaragoza Spain in Lamborghini’s new Aventador for a visit to the very bullring where its namesake, an 1118-pound toro bravo fought so bravely in 1993. Scaling the spectacularly scenic Col de la Bonnette in the Maritime Alps, and the Col d’Aspin in the Pyrenees was almost as memorable as threading the seemingly 9-foot wide spaceship through tourist-choked medieval cart-paths of Monte Carlo, Nice, and Arles. Watching the descendants of the Gallardo line of fighting bulls charge this orange missile and then using the Aventador to charge matador Tomas Luna on the very same Albero sand where the brave bull perished are permanently etched in my automotive memory banks.
Worst: Coda EV sedan
This is really a case of inopportune time-shifting. The Coda is a 1990s car trying to compete in 2012, and as such it doesn’t stand a chance. The Chinese, bless their hearts, cannot design a new car to save their lives. (Yet.) So they engage in their own brand of R & D (receive and duplicate) or, as in the case of Hafei, start with ancient hand-me-down Mitsubishi architecture and pass the design-cost savings along. Getting the car itself for super-cheap was understandably important to Coda, which planned to stuff it full of 20 or 30 grand’s worth of batteries. The result is a stiff riding, tinny sounding, poorly appointed, noisy, mean conveyance that does—on the upside—offer plenty of get-up-n-go and reasonable range. Just try super hard to avoid the sort of wrecks that NHTSA and others subject cars to, as the Coda performs like an ancient Mitsubishi in such tests.
Alex Nishimoto, Associate Online Editor:
Best: McLaren 12C
During our 2012 Best Driver’s Car competition, I had the good fortune to take home the McLaren for a night. Needless to say, it was a good night. The racy exterior design, low-H-point seating position, and 592-hp twin-turbo V-8 all contributed to a VIP-like driving experience. Though it sometimes took multiple finger swipes of the touch sensors to open the handle-less scissor doors, there are few things I can think of that impart swagger better than getting in or out of a $200,000-plus supercar.
Most Disappointing: Mitsubishi Lancer GT
Going into my test of the Lancer GT, I was actually excited to see what the sporty-looking compact had to offer. On paper, the GT trim level looks like a decent sport compact for budget-minded enthusiasts. But a poorly appointed cabin (especially for our $25,000 as-tested price), nasal-sounding engine note, and un-engaging paddle-shifted CVT held the car back from being anything other than basic transportation.
Kirill Ougarov, Production Manager:
Best: Mercedes-Benz G550
We had one hell of a year when it comes to Benzes, what with getting every AMG extant and every S-Class, but my favorite was easy the red G550 for the simple reason it was a G-Wagen, and thus awesome. There’s also that whole thing about us Russians loving G-Wagens. Honorary mention to the matte-white E63 AMG. Now to combine the two and get my hands on a G63…
Worst: Ford Taurus
There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with the car itself, but I’m putting it down here because MyFord Touch froze up on me while I was trying to switch audio sources and wouldn’t reset until the car power-cycled once I parked it at my destination, which happened to be some 45 miles away. Merely turning it off then back on, on the side of the freeway didn’t do the trick. As a result, I had limited controls over the audio, no ability to control the climate control, and no navigation during the whole drive.
Kim Reynolds, Testing Director:
Best: Tesla Model S
This pick sounds a bit obvious now, but before anyone had a chance to drive the Tesla there were lots of reasons to be apprehensive. It was their first from-the-ground-up design. They had zero experience in building a complete car. And after the Volt battery-fire incident, also good reason to worry about its enormous lithium-ion battery. So the Model S’ subsequent competence is just short of miraculous. By comparison, we still see cars from very established, highly experienced car companies that contain absolutely remarkable mistakes. Such as my Worst pick of the year.
Worst: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
Understand, this isn’t my worst car of the year, but rather the one that most surprised me (in a negative way) compared to my expectations. The SLS AMG’s limit handling is very difficult for me to comprehend from a company with this experience. Defeat its stability nannies and its rear can slip away like a squeezed pumpkin seed and is about as easy to wrangle back behind you as a frightened rabbit. Driven with abandon, the SLS AMG can quickly make you look like a complete idiot.
Christian Seabaugh, Associate Online Editor:
Best: Subaru BRZ
I drove a lot of fantastic (and expensive) cars and trucks this year including the Tesla Model S and the Porsche Boxster S, but the car I keep coming back to is the Subaru BRZ. I can’t get enough of this car. Every time I get out of it I want nothing more than to go back out and have another go. It’s just such a rewarding car to drive, with so much personality; the engine is rev-happy, the gearbox is a delight, the pedals are perfectly spaced, and the handling is some of the best I’ve experienced this side of a Ferrari 458 Italia. I simply adore this thing. Honorable mentions: Chevrolet Spark, Ford Raptor, Mazda Miata Super 20, Porsche 911 Carrera, Tesla Model S.
Worst: Chevrolet Malibu
I never thought I’d more miserable driving than I was earlier this year trying to get 40 mpg out of our old long-term Hyundai Elantra. Then I drove the Chevrolet Malibu. The Malibu is just such a disappointing car to drive, especially compared to the new Honda Accord and Ford Fusion. From the transmission constantly hunting for gears, to the underpowered, drone-y engine, to the complete disconnect between the wheels and the road – the Malibu just disappointed on all fronts. I can honestly say that I’ve never been so eager to stop driving than I was in the Malibu. Here’s hoping GM can step its game up with the next one. Dishonorable mentions: BMW 528i, Cadillac Escalade, Dodge Dart, Nissan Sentra, Toyota Camry, Toyota Prius C
Melissa Spiering, Online Editor, Truck Trend:
Best: XPLORE Adventure Series’ 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
I got to take XPLORE‘s custom built Adventure Series’ 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon off-roading in Johnson Valley, California, to watch the Sixth Annual Griffin King of the Hammers off-road race. It had the right modifications mechanically and visually to stand out in the crowd without looking over done. The all-new 3.6-liter V-6 Pentastar was a blast to drive on the trails and hillsides to get to the best viewpoints for the race.
Worst: 2013 Jeep Compass Latitude 4X4
Is it dead yet? Two weeks in the 2013 Jeep Compass Latitude and I couldn’t get one staffer to trade me vehicles. The noisy CVT was nerve wrecking and the 2.4-liter engine was gutless. The most heartbreaking thing about the Compass is that it poses itself to be a real Jeep but sadly lacks the true heart and soul of what the Jeep brand is. My dog enjoyed the ride though – she was able to hold her balance in the back seat due to the lack of torque.
Jason Udy, Associate Online Editor:
Best: Nissan GT-R Black Edition
After putting more than 1700 miles on our long-term Nissan GT-R Black Edition in four days, including onramp blasts for the enjoyment of 30 friends and family members, I came away impressed by Godzilla’s ride quality, fuel mileage, and sheer acceleration. In fact, my 60-year-old aunt who traveled with me commented that it was the most enjoyable road trip she had ever made. Points for the Recaro seats and suspension’s comfort mode. Overall the GT-R returned 19.1 mpg (19.9 mpg not including the tank of fuel used for onramp runs) at an average of 10 mph above posted speeds. Let’s not forget the as-tested 2.8-second 0-60 mph time.
Worst: Coda EV sedan
While the Coda may not be the most disappointing car I drove in 2012 (my expectations were too low for disappointment), it was by far the worst car I drove all year. The interior is cheap and handling is downright scary. Part of what makes the Coda feel cheap are its Chinese economy car roots – basically a modified and rebadged Hafei Saibao that has been on the market for years.
What were the best and worst cars you’ve driven in 2012?