As in other current M models from BMW, the 2008 BMW M6 is afflicted with a dual personality. It masquerades as a big luxury coupe around town, but when the roads open up, the M6 can transform into a superhero. At a push of the M button on the steering wheel, the suspension tightens and the throttle response becomes more acute. Where a superhero might where a cape, the M6 gets a carbon fiber roof, lowering its center of gravity. But while the big, long coupe shows a lot of brawn in its styling, the high trunk lid makes it … Read more
Mercedes-Benz's smallest U.S. sedan, the C-class, continues to impress us, this time with the sport-tuned 2009 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG version. We previously reviewed the C300, and found that its updated electronics put to shame the tech in more expensive models from Mercedes-Benz. With the AMG version we have a car that competes with the BMW M3, not only in cabin tech, but in sheer performance and the exhilarating drive it offers.
The cabin electronics in the C63 are the same as in the C300, with the latest version of Mercedes-Benz's navigation and phone system. The sound produced … Read more
Driving the 2008 Maserati GranTurismo is like dating an Italian supermodel: her beauty gets you a lot of attention in public and being with her just makes you feel good. Actually, having never even met an Italian supermodel, we're going with a stereotype here, but in many ways the graceful Pininfarina-designed GranTurismo fits it. Her mouth might be a little big and toothy, but that's where we've pushed the comparison too far. The big toothy grille on the car looks great, but wouldn't work so well on a person.
As for the cabin electronics, our supermodel'… Read more
Bang & Olufsen, a provider of high-quality audio and video products, has signed an agreement with Mercedes-Benz Cars to develop a premium sound system for Mercedes' AMG performance division. This would make Mercedes AMG the third major automaker, behind Audi and Aston Martin, to partner with the audio components provider.
A few weeks ago, we saw (or rather, heard) what Bang & Olufsen can bring to a vehicle's audio experience when we test drove the Audi A8 L W12. We also heard the kind of sounds Mercedes AMG is making under the hood of its vehicles when we judged … Read more
On first getting into the 2009 Jaguar XF, the car seems like the ultimate in automotive tech. A red backlight on the engine start button pulses with a heartbeat cadence. Push it, and panels over the air vents open up while the shift dial rises from the console. That's right, a shift dial. Recognizing that most automatic transmissions are electronically controlled, the XF does away with a big legacy shifter, opting for a big dial that you turn to the different drive modes. The touch-screen interface uses a nicely designed set of menus, reminiscent of the LCARS computer interface … Read more
The 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe is the second model we've seen from Hyundai with a navigation system, reinforcing the fact that the company is seriously upping its tech game. But unlike the 2009 Sonata, the tech in the Santa Fe is more of an add-on, forcing the buyer to make some trade-offs. While we aren't surprised that Bluetooth cell phone integration isn't available, the lack of even an auxiliary input for the stereo is a big disappointment.
Stylewise, the Santa Fe fits in with the general run of small SUVs, competing with the Honda CR-V, Toyota Rav-4, … Read more
The 2008 Audi A8 L W12 rests in a premier echelon of cars that combines extreme luxury with exceptional driving performance; these cars make it difficult to decide whether you'd rather be reclining in the back seat while a chauffeur drives, or up there where the action is, with your hands on the wheel. The back seats tempt with a DVD-entertainment system, power adjustment, and a refrigerator. The driver's seat offers control over the 6-liter 12-cylinder engine and superb all-wheel-drive handling for such a large car. All seats get treated to stellar sound from the Bang & Olufsen … Read more
Even after driving the 2008 BMW X6 for a week, we're still not sure what to make of it. BMW's marketing campaign calls it the coupe's evil twin, but with the 3-liter twin-turbo inline six-cylinder in our xDrive35i model, it doesn't feel particularly diabolical. It seems more like the coupe's fatter twin, although it might refer to itself as merely big-boned. But it does handle like a BMW, which is to say, excellently, and certainly doesn't look like an SUV, so you don't have to live with that stigma. The front seats are … Read more
With a 6-liter V-8 and brawny styling, the 2008 Pontiac G8 GT looks like the return of American muscle, only, it's not. The new G8, an example of International brand engineering, actually comes from Australia, where it's called a Holden VE Commodore. These origins explain some odd styling around the cockpit, such as window and mirror controls mounted on the console and a big red display showing battery charge and oil pressure.
The central point of the G8 seems to be the big engine, not really the best peg to hang your hat on these days. The car … Read more
Because of its solid and comfortable everyday driver demeanor, buyers of the new 2009 Acura TSX will probably opt for the five-speed automatic transmission, for ease of driving in traffic and urban settings. And that's unfortunate, because to appreciate Honda's capability to build truly efficient engines that deliver both economy and power, you just need to get the six-speed manual transmission.
Our TSX came with the manual transmission, and it made driving the car a joyful experience. Of course, the many cabin electronics didn't hurt either, if we discount the mass of buttons on the instrument panel … Read more