Week In Review: Spy Shots, Volvo Trains, and Hot-Selling Hybrids
Memorial Day may have shortened the week for most folks, but not for us. After the barbeques and races (congrats to Dario Franchitti at the Indy 500), the rest of the world got back to work on Tuesday, and that means more in the world of cars. We drove the new BMW 640i Gran Coupe, and speaking of luxury cars, we speculate on the possibility of a four-cylinder version of the popular Lexus RX crossover. Plus, we got our first look at the next-generation Honda Accord. What else? Take a look. Monday, May 28 Jacob Brown took a spin in the all-new 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe. Don't let the name (or the nomenclature) fool you: While it's styled to look similar to the BMW 6 Series two-door, the Gran Coupe is actually a four-door sedan. Whatever it's called though, it's beautiful to behold, and sumptuous inside. In fact, about the only thing better than just looking at it and sitting in it is driving it. But at a premium that's thousands higher than its Mercedes-Benz and Audi competition, is BMW's coupe-like sedan worth the extra money? Take a look and find out. Tuesday, May 29 Lexus invented the whole concept of the luxury crossover when it introduced the RX 300 nearly 15 years ago. Today, it's still one of the strongest sellers in its segment, but that doesn't mean there's room for improvement. In Australia, there's a four-cylinder version, the RX 270. Could it come to the U.S.? Lexus isn't saying, but considering there are four-cylinder powered models from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz either here or coming soon, there's a pretty good business case to be made, even if it's simply a move to stay competitive with the Germans. Wednesday, May 30 There's a lot of talk these days about autonomous cars. We've heard about the experimental vehicles from Google, we've seen prototypes from Cadillac and automotive supplier Continental, and it seems as though self-driving vehicles are the Next Big Thing. Volvo takes a slightly philosophical look at the whole thing, literally, with its SARTRE system. The Safe Road Trains for the Environment turns the lead vehicle into an "engine," if you will, and the following cars essentially take their cues from the lead vehicle thanks to wireless communications. Volvo demonstrated its system, successfully, this week. What is it all about? You'll have to read to find out. Thursday, May 31 While sports cars may get the headlines, the reality is that when it comes to new-car anticipation, it doesn't get any higher than the 2013 Honda Accord. This bread-and-butter sedan from Honda is one of the leaders in its segment year after year, but in recent years, the Accord has lost some of its luster. This is mainly due to high-styled competitors from Korea, and high-value competitors from the U.S. So there's a lot on the line for the 2013 Accord when it debuts this fall. But the biggest question is: What will it look like? Expect evolution, not revolution, if these spy shots are any indication. Check out our full analysis, plus a link to a full gallery, to see if you should buy now, or wait a few more months. Friday, June 1 The first of each month is when automakers release their sales figures. It's a busy time, as we get to find out what's hot, and what's not, on the showroom floor. There are few surprises, most times, but one statistic stood out to us, and made everyone take notice: The Toyota Prius, in all its variations, has become the third best-selling vehicle in the world. Think about that for a second. Just a decade ago, the Prius was a newfangled contraption, and simply explaining exactly what a hybrid was took up a lot of time. Now, spread over four different vehicles (which, honestly, is cheating a bit), the Prius has achieved a sales success that few ever thought it would.
BMW's M division, like James Bond's Q, exists solely to make things better: faster, more aggressive, and...