This Week in Motoring: Cadillac tries to stem the tide, the making of the Hellcat, a China-only McLaren, Audi gets the driverless nod and much more.
Old School and Off Road
Steep slopes, muddy trails, river crossings and scree slopes turn a garden variety trip into a journey. Adrenaline junkies, take note: off-road excursions are just as exciting as transcontinental road trips, if not more so. Set yourselves up with any of these great vintage off-road adventure cars and you’ll see why.
Clean, Torquey and Efficient -- What's Not to Love?
The only problem with hybrids is how boring they can be to drive. Diesel cars, on the other hand, offer outstanding torque with hybrid-like fuel economy. We take five great ones out for a spin.
A battle of torque, efficiency, and German luxury
The Germans are all over the diesel car market. Which makes complete sense: those Europeans are passionate about the practicality that diesel-powered cars provide, not to mention the kind of torque that can pull Tyrannosaur teeth from their sockets. If you want a capable German diesel that nets both solid mileage numbers, good driving dynamics and the aesthetics and comfort a stylish German sedan affords, then look to Audi and BMW at the two ends of the price spectrum.
A case study in the downsides of the CUV
The BMW X6 been around since 2007 and has found shockingly good sales success for BMW, even earning a refresh this year: all this, despite its inferior specs, a small interior, and the fact that it looks like it’s been whacked with the same ugly stick as the Pontiac Aztek. So how does the X6 manage to draw buyers?
What's New, Now
Today in Gear: Denon adds Dolby Atmos to its receivers, the Nvidia Shield is perfect for gamers on the go, Laphroaig’s newest release and more.
Some MMasterful, All MMagnificent
Over the decades, BMW’s iconic M3 has only grown in power, performance (and in most cases, weight), going from niche sports sedans to one of the most popular performance-focused automobiles in the industry. The best part? There are five generations of them, all with scintillating, unique details and the underlying similarities of greatness.
Odds and Evens Make A Great Whole
The slightly slick track at Wisconsin’s Road America has me wondering just how little effort it would take to spin the 425 hp German monster I’m driving. The truth is that the M4 I’m helming isn’t working nearly as hard as it can with its 425 hp (and more importantly) its 406 lb-ft of torque and shaved corpulence. 174 pounds. That’s the equivalent weight of two average male German Shepherds drooling on your fine leather sport seats and the same amount of poundage the new 2-door M4 has dropped over the M3 Coupe it replaces. But the all-new BMW M3 and M4 are so much more than more power and less fat.
No Compromise, Plenty of Style
If you think the only thing about hybrids that’s advanced in the past decade or so is technology, think again. No longer the ugly stepchild of the automotive world, many hybrids have also arrived in the department of style and even take the kind of risks manufacturers wouldn’t dare impute to their gas-powered children. We’ve helmed three stylish hybrids that run the range of prices and designs. They’re all pleasing to the eye as well as to the environment and give us hope for the future: one without hybrids that look like lozenges on wheels.
What's New, Now
Today in Gear we’re looking at better sounds from your BMW, the internet of things, an omnipotent wax, ginger bourbon and more.
BMW's best driver's car
As good as BMWs typically are, they’ve lost some of their deft and agile performance in recent years. The 135i and the 1 M, released in 2008 and 2011, respectively, certainly did their share to make amends for past wrongs. But the new M235i does more than just try to make peace with the former BMW faithful. It’s a whole new step in the right direction.
It's the little things that count
A car is certainly more than the sum of its parts, but sometimes it’s the little details that make an otherwise good car iconic. These details can be subtle as the Mona Lisa’s smile or bold as the LED spire on the new Freedom Tower, or, more often, somewhere in between. We’ve assembled a list of some of the best automotive features — both innovative and artistic, groundbreaking and evolutionary — to ever see the light of day.
Today in Gear we covet BMW’s most powerful car ever, the perfect pencil, fast lenses and more.
Don't Judge a Beast by its Cover
It would be a dream come true to own a flaming red Ferrari, but sometimes it’s best not draw attention (jealousy, ire, the eyes of law enforcement) to your vehicle. Those who want the power and speed without the notoriety can look to “sleepers”, cars almost intentionally built to escape notice while still secretly packing heaping loads of power and punch — and chips on their shoulders.
A small group of concepts deliver big production dreams
Though the New York International Auto Show isn’t a haven for many concept cars, there are always a handful of them to get your attention and whet your appetite for what might come. This year, there were four that we could count, and they’re all worthy of your dollars should they make it to production in some form.
An Empire State of Rides
Sandwiched between the Geneva Motor Show and the Beijing Auto Show, the New York International Auto Show usually misses out on the biggest reveals of the year, but it still has plenty to offer. This year’s show had its fair share of new designs and vehicles along with loads of improved sheetmetal. We’ve chosen ten standouts from our time on the ground that we’ll be looking to drive in 2015.
IS is it
BMW has spent the past several years making its cars more luxurious and better appointed for its upmarket customers. While BMW was upping the luxury, Lexus was moving in the opposite direction, not by making their cars any less luxurious, but instead placing a stronger emphasis — maybe even a bull’s-eye target — on sportiness. The result? For now, the BMW 3 has to get off the gilded chair and let the new kid have the scepter of power.
Old-School Looks, Meet Modern Power
Some modern motorcycle manufacturers — some of the best, in fact — have designed and built bikes that harken back to timeless style. Though we don’t recommend that you get out there with a flimsy leather helmet and goggles, we do strongly urge you to invest in the right gear and then hit the road on any of these five fantastic vintage-style motorcycles, looking damn good while you do it.
Making Detroit Shine
The North American International Auto Show is one of our favorite events of the year. It’s a time when just about every carmaker descends on Detroit, and the moment is a golden one. Picture it with us: gleaming steeds — SUVs, sports cars, sedans, pickups and more — as far as the eye can see, a field that’s tough to whittle down to our favorites. But we’ve done just that with these ten beauties, the best of NAIAS.
The gifts that keep on giving
Just about every morning, before our cup of joe, we slap ourselves as a reminder of how lucky we are to drive some of the best cars in the world and get paid for it. 2013 was another year of stupendous privileges, with wheel time in Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Land Rovers, Bentleys, Rolls-Royces, Porsches, Jaguars, Mercedes-Benzes, Audis, BMWs, Aston Martins and more. We’ve been the beneficiaries of a huge upswing in the automotive marketplace in terms of style, quality and driving excitement through virtually all segments. And you know what that means: 2014 should prove to be even better.
Here are the cars we most covet for the new year, each one a standout in its segment by virtue of its quality, technology, design, driving experience or all of the above. In a stellar field, these are the ones that stir the petrol in our veins the most. As we embark on a new year, here’s a toast to what should be an incredible 2014 on the digital pages of Octane.
Recon Instruments Snow2 HUD Used to be you tied some flat sticks to your feet and slid down a mountain, desperately avoiding trees. These days, kids — with their gadgets and gizmos and rap music — get all the thrill of skiing and then some. Snow2 is a small HUD unit that fits inside the…
Convoy Goods Convoy Goods saddle stitches all of their leather goods by hand, creating hardier, handsomer EDC. Check out unique items like the proximity card sleeve and custom-made minimalist stud bracelets and pick up a wallet or card holder. You probably need a new one, and it might as well look great. convoygoods.com BMW i…
Ze cream of ze crop
There was another huge auto show this year in Frankfurt, Germany. Spread out across a dozen exhibition halls covering a mile of real estate, the 65th IAA show featured wares from virtually every automaker on the planet. It is at Frankfurt, for instance, where you can learn about cutting-edge technology like heated armrests (no, we’re not kidding) and then walk around the corner and sample the same technology in a 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. If the question is asked, “Wasn’t that car shown at Frankfurt?” chances are, at least for now, the answer is “yes”. Ditto on whether said car saw extensive press coverage. With that, here’s a rundown of the best of Frankfurt — not just the big names, but the ones that made us take notice.
252 made. Get one if you can.
Trace some of the best modern cars back to their origins and you’ll be surprised how much design language and heritage have been passed forward, in some cases for decades. BMW is no exception. The pioneering Z3, the unique Z8, today’s Z4 — the BMW 507 is the granddaddy of them all. It’s only fitting to look back to the origins of the BMW convertible and pay our respects to the iconic 507, a car that nearly bankrupted BMW, but provided an immense wealth of legacy.
Four doors. Four stars. Five cars.
Germany, how we love thee — especially when it comes to cars. Fast, tractable and built like bank vaults, all our favorite Deutsch sports sedans feature a lordly level of detail. No surprise, then, that while the Japanese and Americans continue to ramp up in the genre, the Germans’ standing is just about engraved in granite. Helming one of these schöne Autos simply makes you feel like a real driver, and the practicality doesn’t hurt, either. We drove five truly great Teutonic four-doors and came away with lots of grins and plenty of notes.
50 ways to ride like the wind
They are equal parts simple and complex, a mechanical interpretation of form meeting function with attitude to spare. Whether it’s chrome glimmering in the sun, the artful engineering behind a single-sided swingarm or their ability to outrun just about anything, motorcycles are more than just simple transportation. They strangle attention. Ride one down the street and watch as babies point and smile mid-whimper, dogs chase joyfully, angsty teens fight the curling in the corners of their mouths, old biker types in leather nod with supreme comprehension. There are countless combinations of weapons-grade speed, sex, beauty, design and freedom found between two tires, sure — but these fifty, specifically, are the icons hand-picked by Gear Patrol as our favorites of all time.
Respect Your Elders
The BMW M3 easily shows up in the top 10 performance cars on just about every critic’s list. With the new M3 just on the horizon, it’s time to pay homage to the original: the BMW E30 M3. It’s a classic that still looks good, like Sean Connery in the Hunt for Red October — handsome, tough and no-nonsense. All the first M3 did was cement the German sports coupe/sedan category in the annals of automotive history.
Capture Pro Camera Clip v2 The “gear-up” montage is an action movie cornerstone: quick cuts of the hero strapping on body armor, loading pistols, hooking magazines to a bandolier — each motion accompanied by a meaty click. If you’re a camera slinger you can bring the montage to life with this all-aluminum clip, the second…
A weekend track-attack in orange
BMW has a history of using racetrack names for their paint colors: Marrakesh Brown, Laguna Seca Blue and Dakar Yellow. But the 2013 BMW M3 Lime Rock Park Edition ($80,000, as tested) is the first time they’ve used one on a car itself and the first time the iconic track has lent its name to…
Germany's first supercar
The prospect of a German supercar in the 1970s had the tenor of something that simply shouldn’t be done, like the Italians producing a mass-market station wagon for the states. But BMW went out on an automotive limb and put just such a car in the works — the glorious and rare BMW M1. While BMW faithful await its second coming with bated breath, we delve into the story of the original icon.