Tag Archives: BMW

First Drive – 2010 Porsche Panamera 4S

Back in the days of yore if someone suggested there would be a Porsche SUV you would be laughed out of the room but not before getting slapped in the face.  Flash forward to the current year and the best selling model in the Porsche line up is a SUV!  Whoa how did that happen?  It is simple really; a small 2 door car coupe/convertible/etc is not practical for everyone.  To build on that success Porsche figured why not build a four door “sports” car.  People seem to want to purchase a Porsche and some people care about practicality.  The two combined equals a need for more then just two door sports cars.  Now we have a new four door (it is really a five door but more on that later) Porsche sedan.  The real question I had was whether the sedan was a true Porsche or does it just wear the crest?

The exterior of the Panamera is recognizable as a Porsche without question.  The front end has styling elements that make it look like an enormous redone 911.  The two round headlights have LED strips hanging below them on the bumper.  The LED strips are day time running lights and at night the same housing has another set of lights that come on.  These act as fog lights or driving lights in a sense.  The side profile has nice sculpting from right behind the front fenders down the side.  The rear is what is truly controversial.  Let’s just get something out of the way quickly.  I like this car.  I like the way it looks.  I am apparently weird and I am ok with that.  Ok now moving on, the rear is what some call hunch backed or carrying too much baggage.  Some are saying it is droopy.  Call it what you want but I see Porsche design in it.  This car is nothing short of huge.  It is right around the size of a BMW 7 Series, Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8 to mention a few.  Technically speaking the Panamera is a five door since the rear does not have a trunk lid rather a rear hatch.  The quad exhaust peak out from the rear to remind you of the power that lurks in the engine bay both on the naturally aspirated V8 and the Twin Turbo V8.

The interior is not quite as controversial as the exterior.  It is pure sporting luxury.  The seats are comfortable and supportive.  They hug you in all the right places.  These are not barcaloungers and no they will not massage you.  They are meant to hold you in place firmly.  The center console between the driver and passenger runs the length of the car.  In the front it rises up and meets the PCM (Porsche Communication Management System).  This design cue is somewhat similar to the center stack in the Carrera GT.  That center stack houses a dizzying array of buttons though they are all clearly marked and clumped together by function.  The PCM is a touch screen along with plenty of buttons to choose from to help operate it.  This was definitely a complex system but I was able to use it without the owners manual though others in this segment have easier systems to operate.  The interior fit and finish is definitely without question up to Porsche standards if not raising the bar within the company.

The engine in this car was a 4.8 liter direct injected V8 pumping out 400 hp and 369 lb-ft to all four wheels.  Since this was a Panamera 4S all wheel drive was standard.  The one choice transmission was Porsches newer PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplung) dual clutch transmission.  Launch control is activated by pushing the sport plus button then hitting the brake and then the gas.  You get a visual confirmation launch control is activated and let go of the brake.  You will hear a noise and then suddenly all four wheels grab the pavement and launch the car.  You are thrown back into your seat as the car launches hard and fast.  (PSA – Do this on an empty road two lane road).  You can use the transmission in full automatic mode or shift yourself using the buttons (hate those things) or by moving the gear shift to the manual gate.  The 911 Turbo is getting true paddles this year so hopefully they will trickle down and replace those buttons.  The car without question handles like a true Porsche.  Yes I have driven a different Porsche recently and yes, this does handle differently.  It is a big car, but with that said, the faster you go the smaller the car seems.  It shrinks as you go around corners and off ramps.  It shrugs off speed.  Handling is very impressive.

The particular Panamera 4S I was in had quite a few option packages.  I will skip going through them all though the options rang up to a total of $17,550.  That was on top of the base price of a Panamera 4S which starts at $93,800.  When all is said and done the total sticker price out the door would be $112,325.  That is a lot of coin, but the reality of it is that the Panamera is in the thick of it with the rest of the high priced luxury cars.

The original question was whether the sedan was a true Porsche or does it just wear the crest?  This car is a true Porsche.  Sure many Porschephile’s will say this is not a true Porsche because it weighs nearly 4,300 lbs and has four doors (by the way, that is light for a car this big).  My only question to them is: have you driven one? While it will not be for everyone the reality of it is simple, higher volume selling vehicles like the Cayenne and possibly the Panamera help keep the lights on for future development of lower volume cars like the 911 and whatever the next halo car might be.


Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by a local Porsche dealership

Breaking – Toyota’s Chief Test Driver and Godfather of the LFA Dies

You read correctly, the chief test driver and essentially the godfather of the LFA died behind the wheel of a special edition LFA today.  Colliding head on with two other test drivers who were in a BMW.  The two BMW drivers are in critical condition while Hiromu Naruse (67), the driver of the LFA died behind the wheel.  The LFA is the upcoming LFA Nurburgring Edition which was recently spotted on the Nurburgring for testing.  A moment of silence please.

Video of the scene is after the jump.

Source- AutoBlog

Read More…

The First Time I Met The 2011 Fisker Karma – Thoughts And Impressions

I have read all the brochures and online materials, I have seen all the pictures – and the reality is none of that does the Fisker Karma justice.  I could sit here and list all of its specifications, but I won’t.  Mainly because that is not what this post is about.  Many of you have not had the opportunity (yet) to see the Fisker Karma in person.  When you do, you will remember it.  The lines and curves on this car are just gorgeous.

Lets back up a minute.  What the heck is a Fisker and what is the Karma?  Funny you should ask.  Fisker Automotive is a new car brand founded by Henrik Fisker, who is also the current CEO (funny how that works).  He was previously known for being the design director for Aston Martin and the president and CEO of BMW’s Designworks USA.  Maybe that does not mean much to you, but it equates to this: he is responsible for cars such as the BMW Z8 (one hot piece of metal), Aston Martin DB9 and the V8 Vantage (also both hot pieces of metal).  Needless to say, he has a sense of style when it comes to designing a car.

The Karma is the first car from Fisker Automotive.  With demo cars arriving at the end of the year, production should (if it stays on track) start in the very beginning of next year.  The car will be built overseas in Finland initially.  In fact, it will be built in the same factory as some Porsche’s and other vehicles.  In 2012 production will move to the Wilmington Assembly plant in Wilmington, Delaware.  This plant was recently purchased by Fisker from General Motors.  With the plant already up to date with tooling and a local trainable workforce, it is an ideal location.  The plant was previously producing the Saturn Sky, Pontiac Solstice and Opel GT.

One last thing before we get to the actual Karma –  If you have not seen pictures I will tell you that this the car is a saloon.  It will fit two sets of golf clubs in the trunk, but getting in and out of the rear seat isn’t exactly graceful.  Another car is coming in 2012 from Fisker, and it will be a more mainstream, higher volume vehicle.  Currently the project is code named Nina and it will be a midsize sedan.  I was informed it will be about the size of the BMW 5 Series, but with much more usable interior space (read really practical).  The Nina should come in somewhere around $45-48k.  Also coming sometime between the 2012 Nina and 2011 Karma is the Karma Sunset.  The Karma Sunset is essentially a convertible version of the Karma, featuring a retractable hard top.

Upon seeing the Karma in person, I really was stunned.  Yes, from the front it looks somewhat like the Joker from Batman.  It still looks great though.  Some of the design cues from the front translate to the rear and interior.  This gives the car an overall cohesive design.  Each rear fender has a “fuel” door.  On the passenger side is the gasoline, while on the driver side is the plug-in for the rechargeable lithium ion battery pack.  The front headlights feature LED running lights, while the rear tail lights are also LED.  The roof features a full length solar panel to help charge the car and provide cooling for the interior cabin while the car is parked.  I remember the early 2000’s Audi A8s had this as an option on their sunroof.  The wheels are 22 inches (!) and are made from a  lightweight alloy.  The brakes are the same Brembo setup used in the Cadillac CTS-V.  The door handles have a electronic push pad under each handle that you merely push and the door opens.  This is similar in concept to the Chevrolet Corvette and new Cadillac CTS Coupe.  As you can see in pictures, the exterior is just gorgeous.  Some might say breathtaking.  I do suppose some could say it is controversial but I am in the “it is definitely gorgeous camp.”

Ok, I can understand how someone might be mixed on the exterior of this car, but the interior is simply stunning.  This is a whole new take on luxury.  This interior feels so different from all the other luxury sedans out there.  When I think of high end luxury cars (we are not talking small volume cars like the Rolls Royce Phantom), I think of cars like the Audi A8, Lexus LS 460 and many others.  This car is completely different inside.  To be honest, when I got inside of the Karma I felt like I had just stepped inside one of the older Chris Craft boats.  With rich thick leather and real wood, the interior just felt so natural and polished, yet elegant.  Keep in mind this was a pre pre-production car.  The 10.2″ center touch screen, which controls most of the cars functions (A/C, Radio, etc) was stuck in a black loading screen (I’m guessing the software was not ready) and the car could not turn on, though the gauges were lit up and the windshield wipers worked (I checked).  Oh something to note, the engine in the Karma is being sourced from GM – though that is not the only thing.  I noticed both the turn signal/cruise control stalk and the windshield wiper control stalk were both parts bin GM.  In fact, I am 99% sure they are the very same stalks in the Cadillac STS.  Whether these are the exact stalks found in the production sedan is yet to be seen.  Also, the rear view mirror is GM sourced too.  The gear shift level (if you could call it that) has a button on the left that I assume starts the car due to it’s power symbol and the lack of any other power button on the console or near the steering wheel.  The right hand part of the gear shift level is actually a switch that gets flipped into different positions to select your gear (PRND).  Down the center of the interior is the battery pack, but it is packaged beautifully behind glass and leather.  The front seats are downright sporty, comfy and are terrific.  The rear is awkward to get in and out of, but once in the car, the seats are comfortable.  Leg room is acceptable but not amazing.  The roof line does cut into rear headroom.  Overall, the interior is stunning.

The power will come from a battery pack with a 50 mile range.  Beyond that 50 mile range, the 2.0 liter turbo range extender engine kicks in and produces 260 horsepower.  This motor is sourced from GM and is the same engine used in the Saturn Sky Redline and the Pontiac Solstice GXP.  The total range between the battery and the gasoline engine is 300 miles.  You can forget range anxiety –  this is a series hybrid just like the upcoming Chevrolet Volt.  That means the gas engine is in no way driving the wheels. Rather, the engine is connected to the battery which powers the two electric motors connected to the rear wheels.  We will get into all the technical stuff in another post some other time.

The cars sticker price before tax rebates is $89,000 and change.  I know there is a government tax rebate and certain states (I think Minnesota does) also has tax rebates on qualifying vehicles.  The dealership here, which is the one and only one for the state of Minnesota has pre-sold and took deposits for 3 Karmas.  I was told varying numbers for how many total cars the dealership has pre-sold, but the most common number I heard was 17.  Not bad at all.

So what are my final initial impressions?  Well, I can not wait to get my hands on a production model.  Considering I did not get to drive or start this one, and the infotainment system did not work, I cannot give a full impression post.  I can say it does not feel “kit car” in anyway.  The interior is just ridiculous (in an amazingly good way).  The exterior I love, but some will not.  This is for sure a legitimate automobile with a company that I frankly hope succeeds in many ways.  As for the Karma, I’ll see you soon!

Local Unveiling – The Fisker Karma Comes to Minneapolis

This Thursday the up coming Fisker Karma sedan will have its local unveiling.  The sedan will be shown to the public at Borton Volvo which will be the Twin Cities only Fisker dealership.

Quick run down –

WHO: Created by acclaimed Danish designer Henrik Fisker,  who also designed the BMW Z8 and the Aston Martin DB8,  the Fisker Karma combines plug-in hybrid technology with stunning design and sports car performance.

WHEN: Thursday, June 10, 2010 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

WHERE: Borton Volvo/Fisker, 905 Hampshire Ave. S., Golden Valley, MN 55426

FISKER KARMA DETAILS:

  • Combines world-class luxury and sports car-like performance with industry-leading economy and zero tailpipe emissions in electric mode.
  • With 403 hp, it can reach 60 mph in six seconds and a top speed of 125 mph.
  • Achieves more than 100 mpg.
  • Lithium-ion battery can be fully recharged in as little as eight hours from any electrical outlet.
  • A gasoline generator provides electric propulsion when the battery is low

Cars & Café – June 5, 2010

Another month means another gathering for Cars & Café out at the AutoMotorPlex in Chanhassen.  As I woke up at 5:50 am to get ready and then hop into the 300ZX, I looked out the window to see rain coming down.  I instantly decided taking the 300ZX was not happening – not this month.

By no means did this mean I was not going, rather I just did not feel like taking the 300ZX out in the rain.  I went back to bed, because the reality is if you do not plan on showing a car, getting to the AutoMotorPlex ridiculously early is not a huge deal.  After getting a little more sleep, I found myself pulling into the event at 9 am.  Things were already hopping.  There was a line of cars still flowing into the complex, although a few Porsches were actually leaving.  As I was walking down the hill, a Carver County Sheriff pulled in and asked if he could show his car (jokingly of course).  Gotta love the panther cars!

The fact that the weather was not amazing did not stop car lovers and onlookers alike from flowing in and filling up the AutoMotorPlex.  In fact, certain cars ended up being turned away to park at the top of the hill due to the sections filling up.  Notably missing (at least I did not see it) was the Scion XB with the taped on LED strips to the headlights.  I also did not see the 240SX with the zip tied body kit.  That was all fine because the first thing I saw was a black BMW Z8 and I just love that car. The license plate on the Z8 read HOUSPMT, and while I did not meet the owner the car was in great condition.

Other notable cars included a terrific looking Saab 900 (I assume a Turbo but it was debadged and the hood was not open).  I was really digging the car – until I saw the rear which has what can only be described as – you know those aftermarket lights that can go on trucks, with four squircles to make it look similar to a Corvette?  Yeah, those!  Anyways, they were um …well ugly compared to the traditional taillights or even some other aftermarket options.  The rest of the car, I lust after.  A very nice R Design Volvo C30 was in attendance with the license plate BORK.  That is just classic.  I really loved the Audi GT Coupe with great blue paint.  A very nice black 300ZX Twin Turbo was there – and while it may be fast its not Uncs Z (that story is coming someday).

A 1964 Volkswagen 1800 convertible was being shown and it was just classic.  A true Michelle Naranjo vehicle if I have ever seen one – she probably dreams of it now that I sent her a picture of it.  Another cool car I had yet to see in the flesh was a Shelby GT500 Super Snake.  Blue with a black and white interior the car was just gorgeous.  Other cool appearances included the VW Bus that been at all three Cars & Café’s so far this year.  I spoke with the owner and he mentioned a new paint job would be coming towards the of the summer.  Sad, because I actually dig the current look.

Overall, the turnout was great.  Even though it rained the lot was packed.  Good times, donuts, coffee and great people – all with a common passion.  Maybe next month we will get sunshine instead of clouds and rain.  Until next month,  heres to good motoring and safe driving.

Cars & Café – May 1, 2010

Ford GT

Another month of spring has come upon us and that means another Cars & Café gathering on a Saturday morning.  The coffee was flowing and everyone seemed very happy to see Kylee from Imola Motorsports pull in with the doughnut holes in the backseat of Kevin’s M5.  This month, rain was not in the forecast and the cars started flowing in early and fast.  By 8:30 the lot was full and people were already parking cars up on the hill.

My Father & My 300ZX

Some of the notable cars from last month made repeat appearances including the VW Bus and the Scion XB with the LED lights.  In fact, the XB parked next to our 300ZX.  On Friday night I saw a Subaru WRX that looked like it was on its way to a rally but, in fact, it was being pulled out of where it is kept for Cars and Café.  The WRX was literally kitted out and looked rally ready.  Two really nice last generation Toyota Supra’s were in attendance along with two Ford GT’s that seem to be regulars at the event.  Two Audi R8 V10’s pulled in along with two 4.2 V8 models.  Of course the myriad of Porsches, Audi’s and Mercedes were lined up.  Two BMW 8 Series made it out along with an M Coupe.  A custom 1978 Porsche 924 was revealed at the show and I must say it looked terrific.

Audi R8 V10

Custom 1978 Porsche 924

The AutoMotorPlex has been hard at work on newest build out of new buildings.  They are in the process of building out new garages currently.  As you can see in the picture, it looks like the heated floors are being laid out now (that is just a guess).

This month the organizers had something special in store. Many left the AutoMotorPlex for the first annual drag day immediately after the event.  The group traveled to Eau Claire, WI to Rock Falls Raceway.  Sadly, I could not attend due to a prior commitment though I heard it was a blast.

With more cars than last month and terrific weather, we are already off to a great start to the season.  Next month promises to be even better as the weather warms up more.


Is Saab Reaching With The New 2010 9-5 Pricing?

The all-new 2010 Saab 9-5 is almost here.  Yesterday, the pricing was announced and I was shocked at first.  The lineup will be launching with the range-topping Aero model, with a sticker price of $49,990.  That is a hefty chunk of money, and a nice increase to the Aero’s price.  Though this is a much larger and modern vehicle, the last generation 9-5 Aero started at $41,425 (not that anyone actually paid that price).  The Aero will be coming standard with the 2.8 liter turbo V6 putting out 300 horsepower via Saab’s XWD, which is an all-wheel drive system that features Haldex’s trick torque vectoring.  They mentioned it will feature a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, so apparently the Aero model (at least at launch) will not have a manual transmission.  The Aero model should go on sale in July.  The entry-level model will feature Saab’s 2.0-liter turbo and will have a base price of “under $40,000.”  That is all that was announced for the pricing on that model for now – it should be arriving soon after the Aero model.

With the increased dimensions of the new 9-5 and upgraded content (available heads up display, cooled glovebox, lane departure warning, and many others) the question is the pricing.  This is deep into midsize luxury territory.  With the 9-5 being priced right in the middle of the new Infiniti M37x, BMW 528i, Mercedes E350 and the Audi A6 3.0T, can it compete?  Is the price too high?  This car will likely have many things at that price level that the competition might not (though we have not yet seen the ordering sheet and option pricing).  Time will tell how this new vehicle fares, but without question Saab enthusiasts have been waiting for a rebirth of their brand and this might be the car to start that.

High Times For Your Car

So I was watching two live blogs of the Apple iPhone OS 4.0 preview event and Joel Johnson from Gizmodo posts this (stating that is was completely off topic)- “So anyway, I bought this stuff called “SeaFoam” for the BMW which you add to the fuel and then it causes a huge cloud of smoke but apparently that’s really good for it? It’s basically cigarettes for cars. But without the cancer. Cigarettes that remove cancer. I guess it’s marijuana for cars.”  After cracking up hysterically it dawned on me I must share this with the world.

Cars & Café – April 3, 2010

It has been four long months of winter wonderland but the sun has finally broken out and the snow is melted.  Another season of Cars & Café has come upon us and the first one of the season did not disappoint.  I was a little nervous as the weather predictions for Saturday were calling for rain, but that all changed last Friday.  I started to get hope as the prediction changed to a chilly 51 degrees and sunny.  I woke up early Saturday morning (late, I was supposed to get up at 6 but had a major alarm clock fail on my part.  I forgot to turn it on and woke up at 6:37 am) and looked outside to find the sun breaking cover.  Excited, I hopped in our 1990 300ZX and headed out to the AutoMotorPlex in Chanhassen.

Our 1990 300ZX

It was a chilly 42 degrees at 7:38 am when I rolled into the AutoMotorPlex.  Gates opened at 6:30 am and only a few tuned up Audi’s and a lonely (read awesome) BMW Z8 were there so far.  I parked in the Japanese parking area and started mingling.  Cars started pouring in around 8 am and it just never stopped.  The sun started warming things up and we reached a nice 57 degrees.  It turned into a huge turnout with couples, families and enthusiasts alike, all coming together with the passion of automobiles.

Some of the more notable (read interesting) rides included a first generation Scion XB that was white with plain steel wheels.  What made it really interesting was it was lowered, had the windows tinted, and had strips of LED lights taped (yes, taped with black duct tape) directly above the headlights.  Parked next to that was a Nissan 240SX with a broken up body kit that was held on with zip ties.  Yes, you read that right zip ties.  The 240SX was painted green with John Deer graphics.  The owner commented on how the zip ties break all the time and he replaces them constantly.

LS1 Shoved into a mid 80's Mazda RX7

All was not lost though because many really awesome cars where there as well.  There were more Corvettes from all different eras than I could count.  Some Corvettes were heavily modified some were plain stock though most were tasteful (save for a few).  A Volkswagen bus showed up and was in really good condition.  When a mid 80’s Mazda RX7 pulled in, I knew something interesting was under the hood mainly because of the sound coming out of it.  Upon further inspection the owner had shoved a LS1 engine under the hood with a custom exhaust system.  One of the most questioned cars was the original Mini Cooper but it was a stretch limo version.  The owner informed people it was originally owned by the Spice Girls and was actually signed by them on the rear.

Spice Girls Mini Cooper Limo

De Tomaso Pantera

The cars garnering the most attention were the Ford GT, Lamborghini Murcielago, De Tomaso Pantera and the Aston Martin(s).  A ton of American cars showed up and they even had their own (decent size) section.  Three Pontiac G8’s were in attendance all parked next to each other.  Two were GT’s and one was a GXP.  The GXP had a Holden badge on the rear and one GT had a custom hiding (flip down) front license plate.

The turnout was terrific. The weather held out and really ended up being beautiful.  I am not sure we could have asked for a better Cars & Café to kick off the season!  Here is looking forward to the first Saturday next month.

2010 Minneapolis Auto Show

2011 Audi A8

The Minneapolis Auto Show has finally arrived.  I must admit that I look forward to the show every year.  The show is not large compared to others and, in reality, many concept cars go to the larger shows and skip us.  The reason I like our show is it is local and I am on my own time.  I can go with my friends with no scheduled agenda.  The big shows like Chicago and Detroit are a lot of fun but this is just different having a show near home.

The show was busier then I expected.  I talked to quite a few people that noted how the attendance numbers were up from last year already on the second day of the show.  The economy is in a slightly better place and car sales are starting to pick up and the attendance at the show is reflecting it. I am guessing that Ford was a major sponsor this year as many new Taurus’s were strewn about outside of the entrances.  I overheard several consumers commenting on how they liked the look of the new Taurus and most didn’t even know what it was.

Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 Concept

Some of the highlights included the special edition Synergy Green Camaro and the Silverado ZR2 Concept truck from Chevrolet.  Though many General Motors concept cars were missing, I was surprised to see the Cadillac Converj concept at the Cadillac Stand.  Ford had the new 2011 Edge along with the new 2011 Fiesta Sedan.  The updated 2011 Shelby GT500 Mustang was on the show floor with the hood open and, although the doors were locked, it was what was under the hood that was important.  Audi had the mighty R8 5.2 in a copper brown color with carbon fiber side blades.

2010 Audi R8 5.2

Some things I noted about the show: BMW, Porsche Infiniti were all absent.  While a few talked about Porsche, I’m not sure anyone noticed Infiniti was gone and the largest complaint of the show that I heard was “Where’s BMW?”  I spoke with one of the local BMW dealerships and they said that their research indicates that they do not sell enough cars by being at the auto show to warrant the expense. This absence just gave the competition such as Audi and Mercedes-Benz a chance to have BMW owners sit in their cars.  Another anomaly was Nissan.  They found it important to have the GT-R with a base price of $80,790 but not to have a 370Z, which starts at $29,990.  I was told that the reason was, “That is what they sent us…”.  Not a terribly good answer in my opinion.

Ross Testing the Man Step

I personally think many manufactures should take notes more from Ford.  They have been building terrific booths at the shows lately.  They engage the consumers and have a lot to look at, and I am not just talking product.  There are interactive games such as foosball and driving simulators not to mention the computers filled with information.

Overall the show was better then last year.  With more manufacturers in attendance and consumer attendance up, the atmosphere was a bit more upbeat.  The Minneapolis Auto Show’s tag line is “Your License to Dream” and I believe that is exactly what this show did for many consumers this year and with the products coming in the next year, I am sure next year will be even better for consumers.