In the first part of the article we presented the Volkswagen Golf GTI, the Porsche Boxster / Cayman, Mazda 3, Mazda Miata and the Cadillac CTS / CTS-V. In the second part we will be reviewing the remaining five cars from our top. We start with the Ford Fusion Hybrid and see where the rest of the top takes us.
Ford Fusion Hybrid
Ford Fusion Hybrid
Although it might come as a surprise for many of you, the Fusion Hybrid from Ford is by far the most advanced car in our top 10. With the electric power engaged, the car is able to reach a respectable to speed of 47 mph. The powertrain of this hybrid is not only compact but very refined, you can barely hear it. As far as the in-car entertainment is concerned, the Fusion Hybrid is packed with the Sirius Travel Link that offers info regarding traffic, sports, and weather and movie times. The car was designed in order to keep the distraction level of the driver to a minimum as all the computer functions are voice controlled. The car is great fun to drive and something new in comparison to what you are accustomed to. The handling, the ride are all strong points of the Ford. The car is equipped with a 2.5-liter inline-4 DOHC 16-valve conventional engine that is capable of producing 156 hp and 136 lb-ft. Being a hybrid; it also features a AC permanent-magnet synchronous electric motor that offers 106 hp and 166 lb-ft. The transmission of the Fusion Hybrid is a continuously variable automatic type. The base price for the car is $28,350. According to the EPA ratings, the car will do 41 mpg city / 36 mpg highway, one of the best in its class as far as fuel efficiency.
Honda Accord Sedan
Honda Accord Coupe
The 2.4-liter standard engine of the Accord is surprisingly very quick, offering plenty of performance for a car from this class. The automatic gearbox never draws attention to itself and works just as you might expected. If you don’t like the sedan version, maybe the coupe draws your attention with its sleek exterior looks and the powerful V6 engine capable of producing 271 hp, more than enough for most of us. With this engine, the Accord Coupe is able to do the 0-60 mph sprint in 5.6 seconds. The base price of the sedan version is $21,765 while the coupe can be yours for $30,015 with the entry-level trim. The transmissions available for the Accord include the 5 or 6-speed manual and the modern 5-speed automatic gearbox. According to the EPA ratings, the car will do 17-22 mpg city / 25-31 mpg highway.
Why another Honda? The Fit is very fun to drive, quite affordable and the cockpit will invade you with high quality materials that you will only find in more expensive cars of the upper segment. Not only it has a very reasonable price, but also it is very cheap to operate, making it a very wise decision for budget-minded drivers. The 117 hp 1.5-liter power unit isn’t something to brag about, but it is quite enough for the Fit. If you want a car from the upper segment and cannot afford it, the Honda Fit is the perfect “imitation” of a more expensive car. The 117 hp power unit can be fitted with the following transmissions: standard 5-speed manual, 5-speed automatic with manumatic shifting and 5-speed automatic for a more relaxing drive. According to the EPA ratings, the Honda Fit does 27-28 mpg city / 33-35 mpg highway.
A top without at least one car from Germany would not be fair, wouldn’t it? When it was first introduced in 2004, the Audi S4 was equipped with a V8 engine, but for the 2010 model, it lost 2 cylinders, however this does not mean that the car is underpowered. On the contrary, the supercharged V6 packs 333 hp which is only 7 hp less in comparison to the V8 power unit. If you want extreme driving pleasures, go for the $1100 torque-vectoring rear differential, which makes the Audi S4 an oversteering titan. In a recent test, the Audi S4 performed better than the BMW 335i, although it weighs about 400 pounds more and offers just about the same performance figures. The engine of the car is linked to a 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual or a standard 6-speed manual gearbox. The base price for the 2010 Audi S4 is $46,725. According to the EPA ratings, the S4 will do 18 mpg city / 27-28 mpg highway.
BMW 3-Series / M3
Another German car, this time the BMW 3-Series / M3. You can go for the 328i model that packs 230 hp and will do 30+ mpg on the highway or for the more powerful M3 variant, a car that is equipped with a remarkable V8 engine that is capable of outputting 414 hp @ 8400 rpm. The M3 needs only about 4 seconds to do the 0-60 mph sprint. The 3-Series is a very comprehensive range, the car is offered with a coupe, sedan, wagon, four-door M3 configuration plus a folding-hardtop convertible for summer days. The base price for the 3-Series is $33,675 while the M3 has a starting price of $69,025. The engines can be fitted with one of the following transmissions: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic with manumatic shifting and a modern 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual gearbox. According to the EPA ratings, the BMW 3-Series will do 13-23 mpg city / 20-36 mpg highway.
Other cars that didn’t made it into our top include the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the beautiful Nissan 370Z, Chevrolet Camaro, Porsche 911 Carrera, Hyundai Genesis Coupe and the Lexus IS Convertible.
Picking out any of these cars from our top is a good idea as they all combine the most important ingredients of a car: fun to drive, comfy interior, a bundle of safety features and more than decent powertrains, especially for the sportier cars like the M3 or the S4.
You’ve most certainly seen the new BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo (GT) version, which aims at delivering an unconventional design aimed at luxury customers who want the supreme comfort of a grand tourer in their BMW.
It has definitely sparked a lot of controversy in terms of design, but it seems that BMW will stay true to the new philosophy. The company has announced that a Gran Turismo version of the 3 Series will also be launched in 2011, aiming at the market currently occupied by Audi’s A4 Avant model. Based on the 335i version of the current 3 Series, this new edition will presumably come in a four and five-seat editions, both sporting the unusual two-stage tailgate. Expect more details in the near future about this new model.
According to Inside Line, BMW is considering adding a four-cylinder engine to its engine range for the United States. To be honest, that’s not a big surprise, considering that Mercedes already announced that, starting with 2010, a four-cylinder diesel will be available. Plus that the 167 hp engine on the 320i and 120i sells very good in Europe, managing to get great fuel economy figures.
BMW project director Oliver Friedmann told Inside Line that bringing the four-cylinder engine to the US “would have a desirable effect on many fronts”. However, he added that North America is not ready for the diesel version of the 2.0 liter engine, which is one of the best engines in the BMW range.
The M3 is one of the best new sports sedans out there, being launched at the beginning of this year. It has really been a commercial success, but that hasn’t stopped BMW from bringing the facelift from the regular 3-series to this top of the line version. No doubt BMW’s customer service will have a hard time with with clients who have already purchased the now old model.
On the outside it has benefited from the changes of the regular 3-series, receiveing brand new tail-lights, inspired from the new 7-series and the trunk lid is now a bit more pronounced. The changes are a bit more numerous on the inside, a redrawn air grille captures the attention in the center console, plus new trim options and a new armrest are available now. The new version of the iDrive, with new controllers and buttons and fitted to a new 8.8 inch display, is also available on this model. Engine wise, there are no changes, the 4 litre V8 being left untouched by the german engineers.
More photos after the jump.
The BMW 3 Series is selling pretty good but, facing strong competition from the Mercedes Benz C Class and the new Audi A4 (both being launched after the 3 Series), BMW felt it was time for the car to get a makeover. The 2009 3 Series received fresh front and rear styling and will debut at the Paris Motor Show in October.
The redesign features a new bumper, newly contoured hood and revised headlamps, plus a new grille the chrome “eyebrows”. The 3 Series also has redesigned side mirror casings, new talilights and newly shaped trunk lid and bumper.
The interior was pretty much left untouched, except for the revised armrest, new trim combos, a new high-resolution 8.8 inch display along with an updated version of BMW’s iDrive controller and a new optional 80-gigabyte harddisk.
Under the bonnet there are no changes, BMW offering the 3 Series with the same engines as before. The only change in the engine lineup is that the 3.0-liter twin-turbo engine, that develops 265 hp, will now be available in the United States too.
Overall, a pretty cool mid-life upgrade which will keep the BMW 3 Series up and going until the new generation arrives, don’t you think?
A complete photo gallery after the jump.
Back in September, we’ve showed you the AC Schnitzer GP3.10, which was a gas powered concept from AC Schnitzer, based on the new BMW 3 Series Coupe. When they presented it, the AC Schnitzer dudes claimed this was the fastest gas powered car in the world and now they’ve managed to prove that too, because they took the GP3.10 to the Nardo track in Italy, where the car was clocked at an impressive 197 mph (318.1 km/h).
And in case you’re too lazy to follow the link to our previous article, we remind you that the GP3.10 concept is powered by a heavy modified version of BMW M5′s 552 hp engine, which was adapted for the LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) fuel. The car goes from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 4.6 seconds and to 124 mph (200 km/h) in 13.6 seconds. AC Schnitzer valued this concept which they’ll never go into series production at about 196,000 Euro, however they say that some of the components might be used in the future. Enjoy the video!
Scheduled to be released sometime next year, probably third of fourth quarter, the 2008 BMW 3-Series Touring Wagon was spied while being tested on the streets in Germany. As we can see from the photos, the car will get new headlights and tail-lights, new bumpers and new air intakes.
The 3-Series Touring customers will be able to choose between a 268 hp 3.5 liter V6, mated with a seven-speed automatic transmission and a 228 hp 3.0 liter V6 engine (mated to a six-speed manual transmission). But things aren’t easy for BMW, because with Mercedes-Benz C-Class Wagon almost out and Audi preparing the S-Line for the A4 Avant, they are facing some pretty tough competition in this market.
After a few days ago we presented the AC Schnitzer GP3.10 here’s another cool tuning program for the BMW 3 Series Coupe, the Hamann Thunder.
Presented at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the coupe is powered by a modified 5.0 liter V10 engine, that develops 552hp (411kW), sprints from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.3 seconds and reaches a top speed of 335 km/h (208 mph). Transmission is made via a seven-speed SMG transmission and the engine’s extra power comes from a new high-flow exhaust system and ECU upgrade.
The car also got a more aggressive body-kit featuring carbon roof, front spoiler and rear diffuser. Hamann engineers fitted the coupe with huge 405mm two slotted and ventilated brake disks and 20 inch forged wheels. View a full photo gallery after the jump.
German tuner AC Schnitzer got us used with some pretty nice tuning kits for BMW, like the Z4 M Coupe or the 3 Series Cabrio. Now they have an even more impressive tuning kit, this time designed for the 3 Series Coupe. Called GP3.10 (the GP letters come from Gas Powered), the high-performance coupe is powered by an LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) engine. Liquified Petroleum Gas is an alternative to regular petrol, which is both economically and ecologically. And what’s the best part is that, after a conversion, the fuel can be burned in almost any petrol engine and it produces around 15 percent less CO2 from the exhaust.
Powered by a 552 hp V10 engine based on the current M5/M6 engines, the Coupe sprints from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in only 4.5 seconds, to 200 km/h (125 mph) in 13.9 seconds, only to stop at 320 km/h (200 mph). Handling is improved with AC Schnitzer racing suspension.
The body kit is impressive, with the mineral green special paintwork featuring characteristic air intakes on the front wings, with chrome ribs, rear skirt with integral diffuser, the rear roof wing with carbon center part, a cool sports grille on the front skirt, all covered in a mineral green special paintwork. But what I really like is the interior, with a 2 tone leather covering the whole inside of the car. That’s awesome. But here’s the bad news, no pricing is available for this car, because it is an unique creation, valued at around 200,000 Euro, that’s about $276,000.
Facing the tough competition of the excellent Mercedes C-Class and the upcoming Audi A4, BMW has started work on a facelift for the current 3 Series. Here are some spy shots presented by E90Post and we can see that the sedan will get a sportier look, with a more angular front bumper, a more rounded grille, a more sculptured hood, a sharper side skirt and a revised rear bumper with a different diffuser lip. We can see camouflage on the front bumper tail lights, so we can also expect some changes there.
Click ‘Read More’ to see more spy shots. (more…)
The German tuner Hamann presented their modified version of the recently introduced BMW 3 Series Cabrio. Modifications include an aerodynamic body kit, engine upgrade and interior mods. The exterior modifications give the new 3 Series Cabrio a more aggressive look with a new HAMANN front spoiler, new side sills, HAMANN 4-pipe sport muffler plus 18, 19 and 20 inch wheels.
The 4-cylinder engine available for the BMW 320i got a power boost of 10 HP / 7 kW and 10 Nm torque, that takes the car to 233 km/h (5 more than the standard 228 km/h). The 6-cylinder gas engines on the BMW 325i and on the BMW 330i got an increase of 13 HP / 10 kW and 17 HP/ 12 kW and both about 25 Nm torque as well. Top speed goes to 250 and 265 km/h . An interesting feature is the 250km/h speed restriction deactivation included for the 330i. Most impressive is the BMW 335i which got a 37 HP power boost that speeds the car up to 279 km/h top speed. For the current diesel model 330d customers can expect a significant power boost of 272 HP/ 200 kW making possible a top speed of 256 km/h (standard: 245) and 600 Nm at 2000 rpm/min.
Of course, HAMANN customizes every 3-Series to individual customer requests. For example, luxurious leather upholsteries in a variety of colors are possible, as are extensive multimedia conversions featuring DVD player, TV or Playstation. Overall, the 3 Series Cabrio got a pretty impressive tuning package from Hamann.
Lumma Design has released some renderings of its upcoming performance pack for BMWâ€™s E92 Coupe. Lummaâ€™s previous works, the CLR 600 and the CLR 500 RS were both based on M models, so this kit’s probably been designed specifically for the new M3 and it seems that the first production version will debut at Frankfurt in September, at the same time BMW will release the new M3.
The car will be powered by BMWâ€™s new high-rev 4.0L V8 engine featuring probably some performance upgrades that should lift the engineâ€™s output well beyond the 420hp figure of the M V8. From these renderings, we can see the BMW E92 Coupe by Lumma look very aggressive and will feature new front and rear bumpers, the latter integrating a custom diffuser and quad exhaust pipes, plus a carbon-fiber hood and 20″ wheels.
Click to see one more pic. (more…)
AC Schnitzer presented their modified version of the BMW 3 Series Cabrio, the AC Schnitzer S3 Cabrio. The convertible is powered by a 3.0 diesel engine that produces 195 kW / 265 HP and a maximum torque of 550 Nm. The body kit includes a more sporty front skirt, which also increases downforce, side skirts and a rear skirt, plus Type II and Type III alloys and racing rims in various sizes from 17″ to maximum 20″.
For the interior of the AC Schnitzer S3 Cabrio, an extensive range of high-quality accessories is available, like carbon steering wheel trim in silver Exclusive, AC Schnitzer speedometer display up to 300 km/h, footrests and pedals of aluminiumm, plus a carbon interior trim in silver Exclusive. The aluminium gear knob, handbrake handle and cover for the BMW “i-Drive System” are available in silver or black anodized finish. Velours foot mats complete the range. (more…)