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2014 BMW 3-Series GT Wins AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award

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BMW_3series_wallpaper_18_612x383The 2014 BMW 3-Series GT is the highest scoring Aspirational Luxury Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Ideal Vehicle Award research. The planners at BMW have decided that a sub-niche strategy is good and have developed the “Gran Turismo” version of their venerable 3-Series.  The designers and engineers have developed a product that provides owners with 3-Series goodness combined with wagon utility.  The 3-Series GT is at the top against some very impressive aspirational luxury cars such as the Audi A5, Audi A4, Volvo XC70, BMW 1-Series, and the Hyundai Genesis.  The 2014 3-Series GT also won AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award.  Winning both awards in one confirms that the 3-Series Gran Turismo is a very special car.  George Peterson, President of AutoPacific, concludes: “BMW is sub-niching the market with different bodystyles to appeal to a narrower and narrower group of buyers.  With the 3-Series Gran Turismo they have provided a very satisfying product that hits the target buyers’ requirements precisely.”

Of the fifteen categories in the Ideal Vehicle survey, the 2014 BMW 3-Series GT leads or ties in four satisfaction categories and was within three percentage points of another three.

The top five highest ratings by 3-Series GT owners are: same exterior size, same passenger room, same tires, same wheels, and the same cargo space.  These results confirm that the Gran Turismo buyers, specifically, appreciate the spaciousness and utility the GT bodystyle gives them.

Although the 3-Series GT is at the top there are several things owners would change. Owners would like different interior lighting, have better visibility, a more snug driver seat, more or better interior storage compartments and a different information and technology center.

There is a story to be told with the information and entertainment system. BMW was one of the first to implement the Human Machine Interface (HMI) – or iDrive system. They have continually struggled with their HMI system. While iDrive has improved substantially over the years, for this year seventeen percent of 3-Series GT owners want a more advanced system while twenty-two percent want a simpler one. BMW still has a way to go with their HMI system.

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2014 BMW X5 Wins AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award

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The 2014 BMW X5 is the highest scoring Premium Luxury Crossover SUV in AutoPacific’s 2014 Ideal Vehicle Award research. BMW designers, planners and engineers understood who the X5 target buyer is and developed a vehicle that meets their requirements. The 2014 BMW X5 was at the top against some impressive vehicles including the Porsche Cayenne, Mercedes-Benz GL, Lincoln MKT, Mercedes-Benz ML, and the Infiniti QX60.  The previous generation X5 won AutoPacific’s IVA for the 2009 model year.

BMW X5 owners truly do not want their vehicle changed. Of the fifteen categories in the Ideal Vehicle questionnaire, the X5 led or tied in seven satisfaction categories and was within three percentage points of another two.

The top five highest ratings by X5 owners are: same interior lighting, same ride/handling, same exterior, same safety features, and the same passenger room as now.

Although the X5 led in its category there are several things owners would change. Owners would like more advanced technology, more interior storage, and they would like it to be easier to get in and out of the vehicle.

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2014 BMW X5 Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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The 2014 BMW X5 is the highest scoring Premium Luxury Crossover SUV in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. Just behind the X5 is the Lincoln MKT followed by the Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GL, Porsche Cayenne and the Mercedes-Benz ML.

The 2014 BMW X5 demonstrates its excellence by winning or tying in thirty-seven of fifty satisfaction attributes. The X5 also comes within one tenth of a rating point with seven other satisfaction attributes. For eighty-eight percent of the data, the X5 is at the top.

The top ten highest ratings by X5 owners are: handling and braking, brand and vehicle reputation, fun to drive, safety rating and features, overall quality, the perception of reliability and dependability, and feeling safe while driving.

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2014 BMW 3-Series GT Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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The 2014 BMW 3-Series GT is the highest scoring Aspirational Luxury Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research.  Coming in behind the 3-Series GT are some very impressive competitors; the Hyundai Genesis, BMW 4-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Volvo XC70, and the Audi A4.

The 2014 BMW 3-Series GT demonstrated  its excellence in luxury by winning or tying in twenty-one of fifty attributes.  The 3-Series GT also came within one tenth of a rating point with eleven other attributes.  For over sixty percent of the satisfaction measurements, the 3-Series GT is at the top.

The top ten highest ratings by 3-Series GT owners are: the reputation of the BMW brand and the 3-Series, the perception of reliability and durability, enjoyment of driving the vehicle, the image the vehicle puts off, ease of loading and unloading cargo, overall quality and handling, exterior size, and interior styling.

While the 3-Series GT may look ungainly to some, it leads the pack for its functionality and rear seat spaciousness.  This “almost” crossover scores in areas where other Aspirational Luxury Cars simply cannot.

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Audi S7 Beautiful, but Difficult to Drive Smoothly

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We began this year with a string of new high performance Audi sedans – S6, S7 and S8.  We have not gotten to the S8 yet, but the S6 and S7 are pretty similar cars so lets concentrate on the S7 fastback.  Think of the A7/S7 as Audi’s answer to the Mercedes CLS and the BMW 6-Series Grand Coupe.  The S7 is a four-door coupe with a very fast backlite and large rear hatch.  Opening the rear hatch reveals a huge rear cargo area.  While the S7 has a very sporty profile, its design has sacrificed ingress/egress in the front and especially rear seats.  The style limits rear seat headroom and the legroom in the rear is also down a bit from the three box S6 sedan.

Interior Par for the course, the S7’s sport interior is special with great attention to detail, great fit and finish and a very upscale ambiance.

No Fingerprints, Please Audi ‘s multi media interface (MMI) continues with controls on the center console not a touchscreen.  The Audi MMI is easy to use and somewhat intuitive once you have used it a few times, but it would fail the rental car test (unfamiliar car in a rental car lot at midnight in the driving rain).  Unlike its brethren Volkswagen and Porsche that now use touchscreens, Audi has stayed away from them because fingerprints on the screen are unsightly.

Get the Comfort Seat Package In the S7, the black and lunar silver interior is tasteful, but the seat bolsters are too aggressive for casual driving.  At this price, the seats in the S7 should have power adjustable cushion and back bolsters so you can have either a very supportive seat that you fit snugly in or a wide open seat that lets you move around however you want to.  Sure the “S cars” are sport performance models, but at $94,570 for the S7, there should be loads of comfort as well.  Recognizing this, Audi offers a comfort seat option for $1,950 that provide heating, cooling, massage and memory functions.  Unfortunately, the comfort seats are available only in black Valcona leather not the silver/white leather in the evaluation S7.

Featherlight Toe on the Accelerator But the sport seats weren’t the only thing that presented a problem.  The S-Cars are powered by a 420-horsepower 4.0L V8 with twin turbochargers and cylinder on demand.  Mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission and Audi’s great Quattro all wheel drive system, this car should be a real pleasure to drive.  Lots of horsepower and torque.  Effortless V8 with turbos!  Wow.  But it isn’t a pleasure to drive.  Tip-in the accelerator and there is a hesitation that makes you shy about merging into traffic from a stop unless you stomp on it.  Maybe it’s the performance setting in the MMI?  Comfort?  The same.  Auto?  The same.  Dynamic?  The same… even worse.  Once you get the S7 rolling, it is delightful.  The throaty rumble of the engine is joyous.  But getting up to speed takes a featherlight touch of the toe to do smoothly.

So, the S7 is really for a person who wants upscale coupe styling and a lot of power.  It’s not for a person who needs to provide rear seat space or comfort.  The S7 is a car that turns heads and likes to be driven at speed, but it is a touchy low speed cruiser.


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2012 BMW M6 Convertible: 4,508 Pounds of Rocket (Rocket Fuel Not Required)

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BMW opted to bring back their M6 Convertible for 2012, and as expected, it offers up more horsepower, better looks, and increased fuel economy.


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2011 BMW ActiveHybrid 7: Putting Performance Into Perspective

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The 2011 BMW 750Li ActiveHybrid is an intriguing vehicle and I’m about to make a claim that may surprise just about anyone.  The ActiveHybrid 7  is the best bang for your buck 7 Series.  Slotted above this hybrid is the ALPINA B7 and the 760Li V12.  On paper, both of these vehicles look like they would eat anything with a hybrid badge for lunch.  Hit the jump to see what I mean.


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2010 BMW 335d: The Polar Opposite of What You Think Diesel Is

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BMW_2009_335d_fillup.JPGWhile hybrids may be getting all of the attention when it comes to efficient motoring, the German automakers have long been preparing to show Americans a real alternative in the form of diesel engines. Because of much higher fuel prices in Europe, diesel has become the norm across the Atlantic due to their much greater fuel economy (up to 30% better than a comparable gasoline engine). In other words, the German automakers are already fully invested in diesel, and they would love to expand this technology into the U.S.
It isn’t an easy job, however. Whereas European emissions rules focus on CO2 emissions – a diesel strength since CO2 emissions are directly linked to fuel economy, American emissions rules tend to prioritize NOx and particulate emissions, which are two areas where diesels typically don’t do so well in. Furthermore, Americans associate diesels with dirty truck stops, smoky 18-wheelers, and pig-slow jalopies from the ’70s and ’80s that were unreliable and belched filth from their sooty tailpipes. On the other hand, Americans equate hybrids with high technology, clean air, and in many cases, a green future.


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2009 BMW X5 Wins AutoPacific 2009 Ideal Vehicle Award

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“BMW X5’s win of AutoPacific’s 2009 Ideal Vehicle Award shows that BMW understands what an American Luxury Crossover SUV buyer wants, and has delivered it. X5 owners rated the X5 best in class in five of fifteen categories and competitive in the remainder,” said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific, Inc. “In a product segment where buyers value image, luxury features, great ride and handling in an efficient package, X5 delivers the goods.” Top-rated X5 attributes include:
BMW_X5_IVA.jpg* Handling
* Ride
* Exterior size
* Cargo room


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Luca trumps Max: New Era in Formula One Announced

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Thumbnail image for fia-chef_max-mosley_ferrari-boss_luca-di-montezemolo.jpgIf you read our F1 post from several days ago, the world known as Formula One was on the brink of becoming CART Wars, PART II. A majority of the teams who race in the international F1 Championship were prepared (so they said), to launch a breakaway series, due in large part to their dissatisfaction with the requirements set forth by the governing body and its president, Max Mosely.


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