Friday, December 21, 2007

Nissan 350Z Review

Nissan 350Z

The Nissan 350Z is the modern interpretation of the original Datsun 240Z. It's fast. It's fun to drive. It's pure sports car. And it's affordable, or at least attainable. The new Z is as responsive as a hungry cheetah, with racecar handling, rear-wheel drive, and thrilling acceleration performance.

The new Z is a great value for the driving enthusiast. While the previous-generation twin-turbocharged 300ZX (discontinued in 1996) delivered stellar performance, it was too expensive for most of us. The new 350Z is far more affordable, starting at just $26,269. And that's no wimpy base model with a commuter engine. All 350Zs get the same sports suspension and Nissan's superb V6 engine, which punches out 287 horsepower and strong torque. That much power, along with a six-speed gearbox, carbon-fiber driveshaft, drive-by-wire throttle, anti-lock disc brakes vented front and rear with EBD, plus convenience features like automatic temperature control and a premium stereo, do not normally come on cars below 30K.

Nissan says the 350Z was designed to be a sports car an enthusiast can live with every day. While its firm ride, abrupt throttle response, and awkward cup holders don't necessarily make it a great place to drink coffee, eat doughnuts, and make phone calls on the way to work, it is a comfortable car with usable cargo space, and getting in and out isn't impossibly awkward. Order it with the excellent five-speed automatic, and you'll have a better commuter for the daily stop-and-go.

With its bulging front fenders and fast back, the Z reminds me of a Porsche 911. Not everyone agrees with this assessment, of course. Regardless, driving the new Z draws a lot of "nice car" comments, including one from a Porsche Carrera 4 driver.

The shape of the Z suggests a mid-engine design. The engine is in fact in front of the driver, but it's behind the front axle. That's why Nissan calls it a front mid-ship placement. (In that respect, it's somewhat similar to the Mazda RX-7 design.) The Z shares its architecture with the Infiniti G35 coupe and sedan. Moving the engine rearward improves weight distribution, which improves handling balance. The new Z weighs about 3,200 pounds, split front/rear 53/47 percent. It's balanced well for accelerating out of corners.

An extremely short front overhang and a short rear overhang makes for agile handling. It also means you don't scrape driveways like you do in a Corvette. Bulging fender flares make the Z look like it's ready for the racetrack, which it is.

Its shape, besides looking really cool, allows the Z to slice through the air with a minimum of drag (0.29 on the Track model). Airflow is managed well underneath, with zero lift on the front (and zero lift on the rear of the Track model). All this math adds up to relatively low levels of wind noise and a stable sports car at high speeds.

The interior of the Nissan 350Z is a cockpit designed for driving, helping the driver quickly become one with the car. The carbon-fiber colored cloth seats are form-fitting, supportive and comfortable, made of a soft material that grips the body in the corners. The driver's seat features a mound in the center to prevent the driver from sliding forward. Aggressive side bolsters grip the waist to hold the driver in place. The leather seats in the Touring model seem a little firmer than the cloth, and are available in charcoal, burnt orange or frost. Either cloth or leather is a good choice in this case. The supportive seats and a driver's dead pedal mean you never feel like you have to hang on to the car. The seating position should be good for drivers with long legs; I felt a little close to the wheel when the seat was adjusted for my legs. It's worth noting, however, that this feeling went away the moment the key was turned in the ignition.

The interior of the Z seems to suggest a carbon-fiber racecar tub. The material surrounding the shifter and forming the center dash looks like carbon fiber. Likewise, the large expanse of gray material lining the door panels suggests carbon fiber in appearance. The quality of the materials is okay, though some of the pieces would never be allowed in an Audi. It looked austere at first, but quickly grew on us. Stylish interior touches, such as the inside door handles integrated into aerodynamic pods for the side vents, give the Nissan 350Z a racy, modern look. Passengers often grope for the door release the first time they try to get out, distracted by the big grab handles adorned with genuine aluminum and relieved by the Z's dot motif.

Stylish audio controls include a big volume knob, clearly marked buttons for channel seeking, and six station buttons that can be preset simply by holding them down. We confess we were too focused on entertaining ourselves with the car to turn it on, and we drove various models of the Z on both coasts. Below are three large knobs for the automatic climate control system, which comes standard. Nicely designed wiper and headlamp controls are mounted on short stalks. The leather-wrapped steering wheel looks and feels great, and comes with cruise controls on the right spoke. Overhead are well-designed map lights and a bin for sunglasses. Power window switches are auto-up/auto-down.

Turning the key and hearing the engine roar to life is the first indication the Nissan 350Z is no poser. Turning onto a winding road proves this beyond a shadow of doubt. Sharp steering, terrific handling, and excellent grip make this a real driver's car. This car is very fast with brilliant acceleration.

Mounted longitudinally and driving the rear wheels is Nissan's excellent VQ V6 engine. It's smooth and sounds like a big sports car engine. It generates lots of torque at low rpm, pulling smoothly from about 2000 rpm. Maximum torque of 274 pounds-feet comes at 4800 rpm, tapering off as maximum horsepower of 287 hp is reached at 6200 rpm. The engine is still pulling smoothly as the rev limiter steps in somewhere just north of 6500 rpm, but this engine is more about low-rpm torque than high-revving horsepower. Nissan's Continuously Variable Valve Timing Control System helps the V6 produce a nice, linear band of torque. Drive-by-wire technology reduces mechanical weight and complexity.

The short-throw shifter feels good and it's effective. The six-speed gearbox shifts quickly and deliberately. It's so well synchronized you almost don't need the clutch (though Nissan recommends using it). Clutch pedal effort has enough heft to remind the driver this is no Honda Accord.

The automatic transmission works great, really smooth and responsive. Driving the automatic, didn't leave me feeling like I was missing out by not having the manual. The Touring model with the automatic and 17-inch wheels felt like the perfect combination for hurtling down New York's Taconic Parkway.

The Z feels taut and well controlled. It really stuck when accelerating through fast sweepers on California's Palos Verdes Peninsula. The steering is sharp and accurate and the Nissan 350Z changes directions brilliantly in transient maneuvers, without excessive understeer turning in or sloppy oversteer coming out. Cornering is flat, without much body lean. The 17-inch tires generate lots of grip, even when driving in a rebellious manner. It's hard to imagine using it up outside a competitive event or emergency maneuver. The 17-inch wheels offer a better ride than the 18-inch wheels on the Performance model. In either case, the ride does get jouncy on bumpy roads, most noticeably when cruising slowly, but it doesn't beat you up and we expect that with a sports car like this.

The Nissan 350Z stands alone as an affordable, high-performance hardtop sports car. Its rear-wheel-drive chassis is rigid, its suspension is taut for excellent handling, and the V6 engine delivers lots of torque for strong acceleration performance.

Starting at less than $27,000, the new Nissan 350Z delivers with no-frills hardware, including a carbon fiber driveshaft. All models deliver stellar performance. Whether you opt for the six-speed manual gearbox or the five-speed automatic, there are no dogs in the lineup. The interior is the weakest link here, but it grows on you with a little time spent living with it.

Nissan Xterra Review

Nissan Xterra

The Nissan Xterra SUV is aimed at younger or more active consumers who need a midsize SUV with enhanced off-road capability. Built with stout body-on-frame construction and functional four-wheel drive, the Xterra continues to be a steady seller among those who use their SUV for outdoor recreation as well as those who want to give off that impression.

Compared to its car-based SUV competition, the Nissan Xterra's on-pavement performance is not as comfy or refined, but if serious off-roading is part of your routine then we'd recommend it as one of the better new or used sport-utilities on the market. The Xterra features solid build quality and a reliable nature, which translates into confidence-inspiring peace of mind as you head off into the wilderness of the urban - or more distant - jungle.

Current Nissan Xterra

The latest Nissan Xterra is powered by a 4.0-liter, 265-horsepower V6 driving through a five-speed automatic or six-speed manual. There are four trim levels: X, S, SE and Off-Road. The first three are offered in both rear- and four-wheel-drive versions, while the Off-Road is offered in 4WD only. The entry-level X is minimally equipped, while the S adds items like cruise control, remote keyless entry and full power accessories. The SE piles on more premium touches while the Off-Road model loses the luxe touches in favor of extra equipment that improves off-road performance.

In reviews, our editors have found that the second-generation Xterra's strengths include its powerful V6 engine and above-average off-road capability. It still doesn't deliver the sharp handling that a crossover SUV would, however. If you never plan on leaving the street, there are certainly better compact or midsize SUVs on the market.

Past Nissan Xterra Models

Nissan unveiled the rugged and functional Xterra compact SUV in 2000 against a competitive set comprised mostly of more fragile and less capable car-based competitors. While it sold well initially, early Nissan Xterras did have a few rough edges: The bare interior was constructed of hard plastic panels, the ride was harsh and the modest four-cylinder and 170-hp V6 engines barely had enough oomph to propel the truck-based SUV around town. Detail upgrades carried through to 2002 when Nissan attempted to fix these flaws in a midcycle freshening by adding a supercharged V6 to boost performance, modifying front-end styling - including a hood bulge on blown models - and refining controls, cabin trim and audio systems to help bring it up to date.

In 2003, the 3.3-liter V6 received a slight power boost, the SUV got trim and styling tweaks to further differentiate it and Nissan's VDC stability control system and head curtain airbags became available. To avoid the teething problems in 2000-'01 vehicles, shoppers may want to focus on these revised 2002-'04 models with V6s when searching for earlier, first-generation used Xterras.

In 2005 the Nissan Xterra was significantly reworked for the first time -- not sharing a single part with its predecessor yet looking vaguely familiar. The second-generation vehicle's overall length was unchanged, but the wheelbase was stretched by 2 inches. This not only resulted in a sleeker and more integrated look, but also improved ramp angles for increased off-road clearance. The Nissan Xterra now climbed more like a mad mountain goat thanks also to an all-new chassis and a powerful new 4.0-liter V6 producing 265 hp. For 2006, the big news was a new entry-level X trim level for the more budget-conscious.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Toyota RAV4 Review

Toyota RAV4

The previous generation RAV4 was the right car at the right time. Its overtly 4x4 look, funky bodyshape and excellent on-road manners, meant it was perfectly placed to pick up sales during the soft-roader boom of the mid-Nineties. Toyota stuck to the same formula for the re-launched model in 2000. The look is a little more sophisticated, it's a lot safer and there’s more kit, but the core proposition remains the same. It retains buyer appeal.

Both the VVTi units - the 1.8 and 2.0 - are willing and work well, the 123bhp 1.8 in the front-wheel-drive NV is based on the MR2 and Celica unit. It's reasonably economical, returning a Combined fuel consumption figure of 38.2mpg. It's quick for a 4x4 too - with a 0-60mph time of 12.2 seconds. But the main petrol unit is the 147bhp two-litre. It's swift (0-60mph in 10.9 seconds), but less refined than the 1.8 and fuel consumption is 32.1mpg. Diesel buyers can opt for the 2.0 D-4D, it's lively enough for most people, is quite refined and gives 39.8mpg.

The RAV4 range is made up of three and five-door estates and four trim levels: NV, NRG, GX and VX. NV has air-con, electric front windows, alarm and immobiliser (1.8 NV is two-wheel-drive; all others are four-wheel-drive). NRG is the high-spec three-door choice, with a CD player, colour-coded side panels and wheelarches and larger alloys. GX models have equipment similar to the three-door NV, plus an electric sunroof and CD player. Top-spec five-door is the VX with leather trim, a CD autochanger and colour-coded wheelarch extensions.

The high vantage point will suit drivers of most sizes and shapes and it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position. The dashboard is well laid out and all the buttons and switches look good, fall easily to hand and are simple to use. Good all-round visibility helps with parking and motorway overtaking.

The front seats are well profiled for good all-round support, but the three-door is very cramped in the rear and only suitable for two passengers. Five-door is better and is good for two adults or three children.

Old RAV4 was a paragon of reliability and the new one should be no different. It's been on sale for a while and owners report very few problems indeed.

Models that command the best money are the 1.8-litre NV three-door (it's ideal for town-only driving), 2.0-litre VX five-door (generous specification and good performance) and the 2.0 D-4D (although there are few outside the Toyota dealer network).

Friday, December 7, 2007

2007 Lexus GS 450 Hybrid Review

2007 Lexus GS 450 Hybrid

The GS 450 Hybrid is an environmentally friendly luxury sedan that also delivers exceptional performance, attractive styling and a wealth of technological comfort and safety features. However, headroom can be tight for taller riders and the hybrid powertrain adds a substantial amount to the cost. If you're in the market for a large luxury sedan, you should also consider the class-leading BMW 5-Series and the Mercedes E-Class sedans, and if you are looking for a hybrid, take a look at our list of available Hybrid Vehicles.

The 2007 Lexus GS 450 Hybrid fuses eco-friendly power and fuel economy with luxury sports sedan performance and lots of technology. Edmunds credits the GS 450 Hybrid for taking "an important step forward in the use of hybrid technology to achieve a new level of driving pleasure." The Lexus was awarded IntelliChoice "Best in Class" winner for both Lowest Fuel Costs and for Lowest Operating Costs. Forbes calls the GS 450 Hybrid "a luxury sedan with an environmental heart that powers through turns and breaks new ground at the same time."

On balance, most test drivers admire the 2007 Lexus GS 450 Hybrid for its smooth, powerful acceleration both from a stop and during highway passing, noting that the technology in the car is impressive from almost every angle. Automobile Magazine calls the GS 450 Hybrid "a technological tour de force." Auto writers from Car and Driver compliment the Hybrid's "uptown interior, user-friendly secondary controls," and delivery on the "performance-hybrid promise." "It delivers a big dose of performance, it's quiet, it's as comfortable as you would expect of a Lexus and it has all the environmentally friendly qualities for which people buy hybrids," says Kelley Blue Book, adding that "if you want the quality, luxury and prestige of a Lexus, and you want to be in front of the crowd in performance, technology and environmental awareness, the GS 450h is for you."

The Lexus adds luxury and performance in its hybrid pricing, which auto writers generally find somewhat expensive. However, BusinessWeek notes that "one of the other ways in which the GS 450h differs from most hybrids is that its sticker price is not exponentially larger than that of the fuel-injected base model," adding that " Lexus has been very clever about the way the car is priced. The GS 450h not only comes with the hybrid power plant at that price but includes a lot of gear that costs extra on the GS 430." In fact, some reviewers note that the luxury and performance found in the GS 450 Hybrid makes it a viable alternative to the V8-equipped Lexus GS 430. MSN concludes that "if you can handle the price, the new Lexus hybrid offers the best blend of GS power, performance, luxury and environmental efficiency." IntelliChoice gives the GS 450 Hybrid a value rating of "excellent" for its predicted five-year cost of ownership compared to other vehicles in its class.

Auto reviewers agree, the Lexus GS 450 Hybrid is not solely about fuel efficiency, it also delivers impressive performance and luxury, comparable to other sport and luxury sedans. "Driving the GS 450h is a joy," cites Forbes.

The 2007 Lexus GS 450 Hybrid exterior is attractive and striking. Similar in body to its sister model, the non-hybrid 2007 Lexus GS, the GS 450 Hybrid has a few notable differences. Kelley Blue Book reports that the 2007 Lexus GS Hybrid "has a smooth and sleek shape, with an arching roofline, high belt line and long hood." Continue with Full Exterior Review.

Reviewers generally agree, the GS 450 Hybrid interior is almost flawlessly designed, with comfort, tech features and attention to detail. Although the seating is noted as comfortable for four to five adults, many test drivers conclude that for taller occupants, the headroom in the front seat may be an issue, and that the back seat can be somewhat tight and restrictive.

The GS 450 Hybrid is regarded by auto writers as a safe luxury sedan, protecting drivers and passengers with a long list of advanced and sophisticated safety-enhancing systems. The Detroit News calls the Lexus "world-class" with safety features and CNET also notes its "impressive lineup of advanced safety systems.

We are still compiling data for the predicted reliability of the 2007 Lexus GS 450 Hybrid. Lexus also offers warranty coverage on all of its cars, including a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty. Continue with Full Reliability Review.
Source: usnews

2007 Lexus GS 350 Review

2007 Lexus GS 350

Lexus redesigned its GS sport sedan for 2006. For 2007, it gains a bigger 3.5-liter V-6 engine that makes 303 horsepower and necessitates a name change. The newly dubbed GS 350 also gets new high-friction brake pads to accompany its bigger engine.

All-wheel drive is available for the GS 350. Hydraulic controls in the system vary the front/rear torque split from 30/70 to 50/50 and provide what Lexus calls the performance advantages of rear-wheel drive with the confident traction of all-wheel drive. The related V-8-powered GS 430 sedan comes only with rear-wheel drive.

An option group includes adaptive laser cruise control and a pre-collision system that helps determine if a crash is imminent and takes appropriate steps if it is. Other options include Intuitive Park Assist and adaptive headlights that swivel in accord with the front wheels.

Lexus says the sedan has a futuristic look, though the vertical grille and four independent headlights are reminiscent of its predecessor. Featuring uncluttered sheet metal, the GS 350 has a long hood, a very short rear deck and wide tapered C-pillars that flow back to the rear of the car. For 2007, Lexus adds Starfire Pearl, Obsidian, Black Sapphire, Smoky Granite Mica and Verdigris Mica paint options.

Long side glass and a steep back window enhance the GS 350's performance image. The sedan is 190 inches long and 71.7 inches wide with a 112.2-inch wheelbase. Aluminum wheels hold 17-inch tires. Options include a moonroof and a power rear sunshade.

As with many other Lexus models, the GS 350 gets an updated optional navigation system for 2007 with Bluetooth, voice activation and a rearview camera. A 7-inch dashboard screen works with the navigation system and also serves as a monitor for the Intuitive Park Assist system. A 10-speaker sound system is standard, and a Mark Levinson surround-sound system with 14 speakers is optional. Trunk space totals 12.7 cubic feet.

Five occupants fit inside the GS 350, which features leather-trimmed seats. Heated front seats are standard, and fan ventilation is an option. Premium wood and both polished and leather accents round out the upscale cabin. A Smart Access keyless entry system includes new push-to-start ignition, and the new gauge cluster features aluminum faces. A variable transparency lens reduces glare on the gauges on sunny days. A power tilt/telescoping steering wheel is installed. Hidden panels to the left of the steering wheel hold infrequently used controls.

The 3.5-liter V-6 engine produces 303 hp at 6,400 rpm and 274 pounds-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm. The six-speed automatic transmission includes Power, Normal and Snow modes.

Front knee airbags, seat-mounted side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags are standard. Lexus' optional pre-collision system incorporates active braking, which can trigger the brakes automatically under certain conditions.
Source: cars

BMW X5 Short Review


In 1999 BMW introduced a "sport activity vehicle" X5 that promised to change the perception of the SUV. The X5 had set new standards in ride and handling. It’s a luxury SUV that is as pleasant to drive as a luxury sedan; it is more enjoyable for highway use than the typical SUV but still maintains its capabilities for light off-road use. The BMW X5 is definitely an all-weather vehicle rather than an all-terrain vehicle - ground clearance is limited and there is no low-range transfer case. When the X5 first went on sale, only a 4.4-liter V8 engine and five-speed automatic transmission were offered. A 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine, with five-speed manual shift standard and automatic optional, became available in spring 2000. A high-performance, 340-horsepower 4.6-liter V8 went into the 4.6is edition introduced for 2002. A 6-speed manual transmission and an increase in horsepower from 290 hp to 315 hp on the 4.4-liter V8 were added in ‘04.

BMW X5 Strengths
Rides and drives like a sedan, sharp steering, multiple drivetrain choices, top safety scores, cabin fit and finish is of a high-end.

BMW X5 Weaknesses
Not much cargo space, lousy fuel economy, expensive optional packages.

Find BMW X5 Wheels at
Site: carcasher

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Dodge Challenger SRT8 Review

Dodge Challenger SRT8
Dodge announced pricing today for the modern interpretation of the American muscle coupe. The 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 will arrive in showrooms next spring at a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $37,995 (which includes $675 destination).Due to unprecedented demand, Dodge dealers will begin taking orders on Dec. 3 for the limited-edition 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 models.

Each will feature a numbered dash plaque and a 6.1-liter HEMI® V-8 engine. 2008 Challenger SRT8 models will be available in Black, Silver and HEMI Orange. All will feature dual “carbon-fiber” hood stripes, harkening back to the original Dodge Challenger.

“The 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 offers pure American pony-car muscle,” said James Press, Vice Chairman & President – Chrysler LLC. “With styling that stays true to Challenger’s original heritage, an abundance of modern amenities and cutting-edge technology, the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 will deliver the SRT credo of benchmark performance at a tremendous value.

“The Challenger SRT8 is only the beginning of the story, as we’ll soon follow with a complete lineup of Challenger models that will offer a wide array of features and deliver outstanding value for our customers,” Press added.

Customers may begin placing orders at their Dodge dealer on Monday, Dec. 3. They can expect to take delivery of their vehicle next spring.

The all-new 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 will be built at the Chrysler Canada Assembly Plant in Brampton, Ontario, on the same assembly line with the Dodge Charger, Charger SRT8, Magnum, Magnum SRT8, Chrysler 300 and Chrysler 300 SRT8 vehicles.

Pricing for the complete all-new Dodge Challenger lineup will be announced at a later date.

SRT performance vehicles – including the Dodge Viper SRT10, Dodge Caliber SRT4, Dodge Magnum SRT8, Dodge Charger SRT8, Chrysler 300C SRT8, Jeep® Grand Cherokee SRT8, and now, the Dodge Challenger SRT8 – are engineered by Chrysler’s in-house performance organization: Street and Racing Technology.

The all-new 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 showcases the renowned, five key aspects of every SRT vehicle: exterior styling that resonates with the brand image; race-inspired interiors; world-class ride and handling characteristics across a broad range; benchmark braking; and standout powertrain. The all-new 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 will unquestionably deliver in all five areas.

With a U.S. market share of 6.4 percent, Dodge is Chrysler LLC’s best-selling brand and the fifth largest nameplate in the U.S. automotive market. In 2006, Dodge sold more than 1.3 million vehicles in the global market. In the highly competitive truck market, Dodge has a 15 percent market share.

Recently, Dodge introduced the all-new 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan with 35 new or improved features including the newest innovation, the Swivel ‘n Go seating system. Dodge is entering key European volume segments with Nitro, Caliber and Avenger. The all-new 2009 Dodge Journey will debut in 2008 calendar year, and will be available outside North America in both left- and right-hand drive in mid-2008. Also in 2008, Dodge will introduce its modern muscle car the all-new Dodge Challenger.

Brabus SLR Roadster

Brabus SLR Roadster

Is it possible to make a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Roadster even more exclusive and individual? BRABUS proves that the topless Mercedes supercar can be made even sportier and more exciting with its sophisticated customization program.

To give the two-seater even more striking looks while at the same time minimizing lift on the front axle, the BRABUS designers have developed a front spoiler that attaches to the production bumper. The spoiler is made from exposed carbon fiber and its shape was fine-tuned in the wind tunnel. It is especially lightweight and extremely tough. A corresponding BRABUS rear diffuser made from exposed carbon fiber can replace its production counterpart.

The sporty BRABUS outfit for the SLR Roadster is dominated by BRABUS Monoblock VI 20-inch wheels that fill the wheel houses perfectly. The fully polished multi-piece wheels feature six double spokes and are mounted on the sports car in size 9.5Jx20 in front and size 11.5Jx20 on the rear axle. High-performance tires in sizes 255/30 ZR 20 and 305/25 ZR 20 are supplied by BRABUS technology partners Pirelli and YOKOMAMA. This low-profile tire/wheel combination is custom-tailored for the SLR coupe and roadster and benefits not only the car’s appearance but also its handling.

Thus equipped the topless SLR is ready for some additional power provided by BRABUS engine tuning. The power tuning for the supercharged 5.5-liter (335.5 cu. in.) engine consists of special camshafts, a fuel cooling system and a high-performance exhaust. With BRABUS tuning, power output of the V8 compressor engine increases by 24 hp (23 hp SAE net) / 18 kW to 650 hp (641 hp SAE net) / 478 kW at 6,500 rpm.

BRABUS also offers a special clutch-type limited-slip differential with a locking rate of 40 percent. It further optimizes traction and improves acceleration performance of the super sports car. The tuned roadster sprints to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 3.6 seconds and reaches a top speed of 337 km/h (209 mph).

Precision handwork down to the last detail characterizes the exclusive BRABUS interior design for the two-seater. The company-own upholstery shop specializes in fulfilling just about any request from discriminating SLR owners when it comes to customizing the interior. That includes a multitude of leather types and colors as well as custom upholstery designs.

An unusual BRABUS specialty is the waffle-patterned leather carpeting in the SLR’s footwells. Some 7,800 meters (25,600 feet) of the finest thread are sewn with utmost precision for it alone.

A sporty and functional BRABUS option is the ergonomically shaped sport steering wheel that is flattened on the bottom for markedly easier entering and exiting of the vehicle. The steering wheel features integrated buttons for manual shifting of the SLR’s automatic transmission.

Sporty BRABUS carbon-fiber applications for dashboard, center console and door trim transfer the racing look of the BRABUS body components into the interior. The exposed carbon-fiber trim can be color-coordinated with the leather color of the interior.
Source: brabus

2007 BMW X5 Road Test

2007 BMW X5

Deeper sculpting, increased dimensions and compelling power define the 2007 BMW X5 4.8i; a redesigned interior, which now includes a third row seat, is also new this year. The improvements and extended handling capabilities keep the X5 among the top of the heap when it comes to premium SUV capability and performance.

Like a weightlifter showing off bigger biceps and better-defined abs, the new X5 projects a more athletic, aggressive appearance than before. It's a look very much consistent with BMW's latest sedan styling, which is eye-catching to say the least. The daring lines do a good job of concealing the vehicle's extra 188mm of length.

Settling into the driver's arena brings with it the sedan experience as well. Seats are fabulously supportive and materials within reach speak of quality and richness. The beautifully honed, electronic shift knob feels like a precision instrument contoured to perfectly match every palm draped around it.

Although BMW continues to apply its i-Drive technology to its premium rides, the controls most often adjusted, such as HVAC are also found amid the buttons and dials on the instrument panel and centre stack. It's still however necessary to bump your way through multiple i-drive screens to add a little bad-boy-bass to your boogie.

Popping up the third row seat also requires manipulation of the second row. Once this bit of second row tug and pull is complete, the split-bench third row can be sprung into place, but be warned this is not a suitable perch for large adults or extended tours of duty. Pretty much every other seat in the house is.

Last year's meeker 4.4-litre V8 is no longer available in the X5. If you want a V8, it'll displace 4.8-litres while dispatching 350 horsepower @ 6,300-rpm and 350 pound-feet of torque @ 3,400-rpm. That's sufficient power to hustle the X5 very enthusiastically thanks in part to its six-speed automatic soul mate. Thrust off-the-line is seat sucking while passing ability is confidence inspiring.

I was impressed with the compliance of the X5's sophisticated suspension setup. BMW did a lot of on-track tuning, and it's quite evident when the mid-size SUV is pushed hard into turns. Despite this luxo cruiser's ability to effectively absorb roadway bumps and bruises, it retains composure far better than most similarly sized rigs when aggressively cornered; all without subjecting the kidneys to inhumane punishment- and that's a bit of automotive magic.

Steering response is sharp, precise and instantly reactive. Plenty of feedback accompanies a twist of the wheel, and that's commendable for this class of vehicle. Keeping both hands on the thickly padded, leather-wrapped wheel was a challenge. My right hand preferred to wrap itself around the gearshift lever, with my mind preferring to shift the X5's autobox manually.

This is perhaps the best manual-mode to be found in an SUV. An electronic program quickly spins-up revs to match the selected gear when downshifting. Doing so creates some of the heartiest V8 tones in any SUV. Unlike most manufacturers, BMW got it right; upshifts occur when the lever is pulled rearward while downshifts require a forward push. To me, this pattern is far more intuitive for folks accustomed to a manual gearbox than the opposite pattern.

The X5 4.8i is an automotive amalgam of sorts. It adeptly distills the attributes of a premium-level sports sedan with those of a competent off-roader to create an SUV that can inspire drivers on the tarmac and off. Unfortunately, it's an expensive distillation- something like that of fine single malt.

Find BMW X5 Wheels at
Source: auto123

Thursday, November 29, 2007

BMW M6 Review


I’ve had a thing for the BMW 6-Series ever since “Spenser: for Hire” shared the airways with Mötley Crüe. While Robert Urich had a cool Mustang, Avery Brooks had a vehicle worthy of his icy-cold demeanor: a white BMW 635CSi. Could there ever be a better vehicle in which a man could do the right thing by any means necessary? There is now. The BMW M6 has tons of M-tuned street cred and many of the right moves. Many, but not all.

The M6’ silhouette screams greatness without saying a word. The generous space between the front wheels and firewall, its swoopy lines and perfect proportions make for a killer profile. The model's lowered stance and wikkid 19” rims add animus aplenty. Unfortunately, viewed from any other angle, Bimmer's streetwise badass looks like a short-bus dumbass. Bangled lumps and bumps and disjointed details do nothing to help the model's G-force gravitas, and much to remove it.

The M6’ love-hate theme continues within. The cockpit has the perfect amount of flair for a top-dollar German coupe. Occupants are surrounded by decadent materials, from aromatic leather to slick burled wood to brushed aluminum accents. A sumptuous pair of endlessly supportive bucket seats coddle the most demanding derriere. The M-series steering wheel is the stuff of legend; its beefy rim, intuitive buttonage and fancy trimmings are a hand magnet for the sporting pistonhead. When it comes to sybaritic helms, no other carmaker comes close.

And that's it. At a robust $104k asking price, why isn’t the dash wrapped in leather, the headliner in Alcantara and the seats cooled by fans? While we’re at it, give the carbon fiber roof its walking papers and put a power moonroof in its place; the 3900 pound M6 should be as concerned with its grand touring weight as McDonald’s is about their clientele’s clogged arteries.

From here its best to forge on with the usual complaint about iDrive; a stern taskmaster who neither listens to your voice commands nor has the kindness to let you watch the road while adjusting the stereo or HVAC. No matter how BMW spins their collective propellers over this feature, technology was never meant to enslave, especially on a high performance grand touring coupe. Mein kingdom for a rheostat!

Wishes run deep in the M6, deepest of all within the SMG trans-mishap. Farago mightily proclaimed the latest SMG to be the world’s worst transmission. Be it in grandma mode or full-tilt boy racer tuning, every torturous upshift sends the driveline thudding, clunking and wincing in pain. SMG combines the spastic behavior of a beat up automatic transmission with the teeth chattering smoothness of a fried clutch. It is, quite literally, the worst of both worlds.

One bit of Bavarian technology works as intended: the Corvette-esque heads up display puts relevant information in an honest-to-God user-friendly format. So good, in fact, it helps the driver make sense out of the SMG’s nonsensical behavior. And when you find the right stretch of tarmac, you’ll find something wonderful in this sea of darkness.

The M6 takes to curves like a teenager to MySpace. The stiff chassis, sticky rubber, poised suspension and 500hp V-10's colossal twist turns the BMW M6 into a tenacious corner carver ready to consume your soul without missing a beat. Words cannot do justice to the handling perfection that is the M6. When you push its limits, the M6 encourages you to dig deeper, surrendering yourself to the siren song of its flat cornering and near limitless torque curve, a powerband that extends all the way to a mind-numbing 8200rpm.

This is where the M6 gets a new lease on life, where the cohesive sum becomes greater than its disjointed parts. Even the SMG makes sense, putting the power down with mad F1 downshifting skills. The precisely weighted steering speaks to you like your four-wheeled soul mate. Excitement uber alles baby!

But this whip is still down for a low stress interstate jaunt. the ride quality is respectable even with rubber band thin sidewalls. Extensive sound insulation keeps the stellar thirteen speaker audio system in the forefront, Even the bustled trunk is large enough for a relaxing week in wine country. Combined with the sporty ambiance of its 2+2 coupe configuration, the BMW M6 leaves its luxo-sport competition in the weeds.

But BMW’s M6 is still a machine in dire need of an exorcist. With its attention to detail comes the devil of belabored styling and infuriating technology. Such fine road manners come at the expense of a bi-polar transmission and an engine with a lusty appetite for gas (12/18) and even oil (begging for more after 3000 miles). Even with the demons in situ, the BMW M6 is one of the finest sporting coupes on the road. Can you imagine its potential if BMW ever deigned to learn from its mistakes? carries all the BMW Wheels you need.
Source: thetruthaboutcars

Wednesday, November 28, 2007



The BMW E70 automobile platform will be the basis for the future X5 SUV. It will replace the BMW E53. It is expected that it will be released some time during 2007 and will be considerably bigger than the current E53 model, since it will be able to accommodate two extra passengers. The increase in size is due to the uncomfortably close sizes of the current generation X5 and smaller X3 model. The new E70 BMW X5 may give some information on, if possibly built, the BMW X1.

BMW has taken a conservative approach to the styling of its second-generation X5 by maintaining the basic appearance of its seven-year-old predecessor in a larger bodyshell supported by an all-new platform with some of the most advanced underpinnings the four wheel drive class has to offer. Underneath the familiar-looking sheet metal, however, the luxury SUV boasts several changes the German carmaker is convinced will help cement its reputation as the benchmark for roadholding, while providing greater levels of versatility through a new seven-seat interior layout. Inside Line sources who have driven early prototypes say the new X5 steers and handles with all the precision of the critically acclaimed first-generation X5 and despite now being fitted with run-flat tires as standard manages to improve on ride quality, too. "It's not the most comfortable in the class, but we're confident the handling is as good as, or better than, the outgoing model," says one BMW executive. The front suspension is BMW's first use of a double wishbone suspension combined with a multi-link rear suspension, with upmarket models getting rear air springs to smooth out the ride. The advantage to switching to the double wishbone front suspension allows for a stiffer suspension with the use of run-flat tires (RFT, RSC, or EMT), without adversely affecting ride comfort as well as dampening road-feel. However, BMW hasn't held back on equipping its new SUV with the kind of chassis technology used on its 5 and 7 Series cars. Among the options are the company's Adaptive Drive and Active Steering systems, the former using hydraulic stabilizer bars to suppress body roll and the latter employing an electric motor to alter the steering ratio depending upon speed, getting progressively direct at low speeds.

The majority of the X5's electronics are based on E65, with a few new innovations. Additionally, a new electronics network-system has been developed, named "Flex-Ray," which is currently only used for the Electronic Dampening Control (EDC) system. Among the engine choices at launch is a pair of 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder units developing 260 horsepower in gasoline guise and 231 hp in common-rail diesel form. Topping the range is a 355-hp 4.8-liter V8 that is claimed to propel the new BMW to 62 mph from standstill in an impressive 6.5 seconds and up to a top speed of 150 mph{fact}. Other power plants will be added to the new X5 lineup in time, including a mild hybrid using a base 3.0-liter six-cylinder gasoline engine in combination with an electric motor. Also under consideration as a rival to the newly launched Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG and Porsche Cayenne Turbo is a high-performance version of the new BMW X5 running a secret new turbocharged V8 set to make its debut on the new 7 Series due out in 2008. Power is channeled permanently to all four wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox, which is claimed to reduce shift speed by up to 50 percent through the incorporation of a new torque converter and revised software. It is operated via a new joystick-like shift lever that, like the new electronic parking brake mechanism, has been designed to take up less room on the center console than the current setup.

Hoping to build on the 580,000 first-generation X5 sales to date, BMW has made only conservative changes to the SAV's appearance. The exterior styling, in particular, draws heavily on the first-generation model, retaining the same basic proportions with subtly altered detailing more in keeping with modern BMW styling. The rear continues with a split tailgate and separately opening rear window. Its appearance may be familiar but the new X5 has grown considerably, putting on 7.5 inches in length and 2.4 inches in width. BMW sources contend that the use of lightweight materials, including a greater percentage of aluminum within the suspension, has helped keep weight down. The new base model weighs no more than the outgoing model when its increased equipment count is taken into consideration. The added length liberates space for an optional third row of seats, extending the X5's seat count to seven in a move that will see it more closely challenge the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 for outright versatility. Luggage capacity is reduced from 21.9 cubic feet to just 7.1 cubic feet when the third seat row is in use.

Find BMW X5 Wheels at
Source: wikipedia

Volkswagen Tiguan R Line

Volkswagen Tiguan R Line

After last year at the Essen Motor Show Volkswagen revealed its R Line range for Golf, Passat, Touran and Touareg this year the German automaker will reveal the R Line for its newest model, the Tiguan. The R Line allows VW customers to equip their cars with a sporty interior and exterior this being independanly from what engine the car has. More informations will soon be available after the Essen Motor Show will start this Friday.
Source: 4wheelsblog

Friday, November 23, 2007

Bugatti Veyron Sales

Bugatti Veyron

In terms of sheer speed, power and history-making levels of engineering excess, the Bugatti Veyron is a success. Bugatti's parent, Volkswagen, set out to build the fastest production car in the world, and it did. There is a photograph of it right there in the 2007 edition of "The Guinness Book of World Records," under the heading of Fastest Production Car.

But here is the problem with setting out to conquer a superlative: There is always someone lurking around the corner, drawing a target on your back. And once the bar is moved, you're a historical footnote. (Sure enough, on Oct. 9, Shelby SuperCars posted on its Web site that Guinness had certified its Ultimate Aero as the new titleholder.)

That might be why, despite a total run of only 300 cars, half of the Bugatti Veyrons scheduled for production are still unsold.

Price might be a factor, too. The Veyron retails for about $1.4 million, although sometimes the price is quoted at $1.3 million or $1.5 million, depending on the exchange rate.

As bad as this may make you feel about your own financial situation, the world has plenty of big-money car nuts with $1 million-plus to spend on a Veyron. But so far, despite fawning reviews, the market has given the car a lukewarm reception.

The problem could be that the world's most expensive car comes from the people's car company, and that the Veyron is ultimately the VW Phaeton of the supercar stage: Its engineering is beyond reproach, but its origins do not satisfy the brand snobs who have the money to buy one.

Bugatti, along with Maybach and Spyker, seems to believe that there is no statute of limitations on the brand appeal of automakers that had their glory days before World War II. Hoping that buyers will embrace a supercar because it wears a once-glorious badge is like hoping people will assume your son is a great tennis player because you named him Rod Laver.

One wonders why, since VW already owns Bentley, the Veyron does not simply wear the Flying B. What would be so wrong if the world's fastest car were a Bentley - and might it have sold better that way?

Time will tell whether the Bugatti Veyron is as successful with collectors as it is at decimating speed records. What is undebatable right now is that the select few who own (or lease) a Veyron hold the keys to the world's greatest automotive thrill ride.

Depending on your prior exposure to big-horsepower cars, the initial second of acceleration might not seem out of the ordinary - even with all-wheel-drive, a car has only so much traction off the line, and a Porsche 911 Turbo can spin all four tires out of the gate, too.

But quickly, almost too quickly for the brain to process, the Veyron speeds straight out of your frame of reference. Once the Veyron is hooked up and putting its 1,001 horsepower to the ground, there's no comparison that will help you understand it, unless you're a fighter pilot or a circus clown with extensive cannon experience.

When you floor the throttle of the Veyron on the highway, the sensation is as if every other driver slammed on the brakes. Except they didn't. They are still cruising at highway speed, but you are blurring the space between the guardrails like an antiproton in a particle collider.

In most cars, you expect a reduction in acceleration as you move up through the gears - longer gear ratios and aerodynamic drag eventually trump horsepower. But the Veyron is different. First gear is quick and violent. Second gear takes slightly longer but seems equally violent. By third gear, you're worried about your driver's license and your life, and the thrust shows no sign of relenting.

Mission control, something is wrong. The booster rockets don't seem to be dropping off.

So you hit the brakes and discover that they're excellent, but they are of the realm of mortal cars, unlike the motor. Thanks to active aerodynamics and the wonders of downforce, at higher speeds the Veyron's stopping and cornering power begin to approach the standard set by its go-power.

But by higher speeds, I definitely mean faster than I cared to drive in suburban Connecticut. For example, if you hit the brakes and look in the rearview mirror to see the spoiler extended high and angled down in air-brake mode, you had better hope there are no police officers nearby, because that trick does not come out of the bag unless you are going at least 130 miles, or 210 kilometers, an hour - just over half of top speed.

I was informed of this by none other than Pierre-Henri Raphanel, a Bugatti test driver, who was riding shotgun at the time. Raphanel, a former race-car driver, knows as much about this car as just about anyone; he also knows what a monumental headache it was to make the Veyron a reality.

The Michelin tires had to be developed specifically for this car. Engineers faced endless setbacks in dissipating the volcanic heat of the motor, which sits naked behind the passenger compartment, a W16 al fresco. The optics of the windshield require such perfection that for every 100 windshields produced, only 5 are usable.

The gist of Raphanel's spiel is that cranking out 1,001 horsepower is just the first of many challenges in building an automobile with a top speed of 253 miles an hour. In fact, even attempting such a thing is ambitious bordering on crazy.

"Ferrari would never build a car like this," he said. "They simply don't need to. They could give a car 700 horsepower and sell out a production run of 400. So why bother going to all the trouble to make it 1,000 horsepower?

"Nobody else will ever make a car like this again. This will be the high point for cars powered by an internal combustion engine."

Maybe so, but you know that at some car company, somewhere, there is a chalkboard emblazoned with a new target: 254 miles an hour. Already, you can walk into Exotic Cars at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and put your money down on a Koenigsegg CCX, which has a claimed top speed of 245-plus miles an hour. Then there is the Aero.

Bugatti has sold 150 Veyrons because the car held the record for the world's fastest production automobile. And it has not sold the other 150 because records are made to be broken.
Source: iht

Sporty VW Beetle

Sporty VW Beetle

Volkswagen is planning the next generation of the New Beetle including a Roadster version in 2012 despite recent reports that it is planning to end production of the model, Germany's Auto-motor-sport magazine reports.

The New Beetle, a retro-style version of the original Beetle "people's car" that was last produced in Germany in 1978, has been criticised as too expensive and lacking appeal.

A roadster version of the New Beetle would replace the closed Volkswagen Beetle version and convertible in 2012, the magazine reports quoting company sources.

A Volkswagen spokesperson however described the report as "speculation".

The new model is based on the two-seater "Ragster" concept VW presented at the Detroit Motor Show in 2005, displaying a lowered roofline, 19-inch wheels and a canvas top that can be lowered at the press of a button, auto-motor-sport said.

The roadster would be powered by a 3.2-litre V6 engine with an output of 206kW. It would be fitted with start-stop automatic and brake-regeneration technology to conserve fuel, according to the report.

The magazine also reports that VW in turn was mulling plans to end production of the Eos convertible that is fitted with a foldable steel roof. A VW spokesperson refused to comment.
Source: wheels24

Audi A5 Road Test

Audi A5

It's one of those classic pub conversations for car bores: if you could make one car from all your favourite bits of the best models, what would it have? Well, in a sense, the A5 is Audi's answer to that question.

Naturally, the best car in the world would have Audi build quality - a given with the A5, of course - but wouldn't you also like something that combined the looks of the TT with the practicality of the Audi A4? In other words, a car which had the looks of a coupe, space for four and a decent boot. As far as Audi are concerned, the result of just such a wishlist is the Audi A5: a bigger coupe than the 2+2 TT, but one which has some degree of practicality. The trouble is, does this combination lead to a car that's a jack of all trades and a master of none?

Well, starting with the positives, the A5 is every bit as classy as any other Audi. Step inside, and you can't help noticing the distinct whiff of high class - this is a car that feels genuinely expensive to the touch. However, for all that class, there's not a great deal of space. Anyone much over six feet tall will find their head brushing the roof in the front and, with the front seats pushed back (as they have to be with a couple of adults in them), there's precious little room in the back: legroom is tight and those eye-catching lines mean that headroom is far from great. In other words, although the huge boot does go some way to justifying the claims of practicality, despite Audi's claims, this is not really a full four-seater.

It's also not exactly a sports car. If you've come to an A5 looking for something with the same genes as a TT, then you'll be disappointed. The A5 is designed as a high-speed long-distance cruiser - a modern GT, if you like - and doesn't really hit the spot as a driver's car. There's just not enough feedback though the controls or any great sense of agility through the bends. That said, if you favour a more laid-back driving style, then the A5 could well be your kind of car. First, it's tremendously comfortable for the driver, with plenty of adjustment in the driving position, a layout that makes you feel immediately at home, and tremendous refinement. And, secondly, there's no shortage of performance from any of the engines, and no lack of grip from the tyres. On the contrary, you can cross country at serious speed in an A5 in complete safety. The drawback is that it probably won't set your heart racing. Overall, the A5 is very much a classic Audi: beautifully built and sensibly priced against its German rivals - in this case, the BMW 3 Series Coupe and Mercedes CLK - but not the most exciting to drive. If you like Audis, you'll like the A5, but if you're more of a BMW fan, this will do nothing to change your allegiance.
Source: reuters

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mazda 2 Sedan

Mazda 2Mazda 2

Mazda Motor Corporation today revealed the all-new Mazda2 (known as Mazda Demio in Japan) sedan at the 2007 Guangzhou Motor Show. This version of Mazda’s latest model has a dynamic and elegant form that was designed to capture new customers in the rapidly growing Chinese B-car segment. The all-new Mazda2 sedan is produced by Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Co., Ltd. at its Nanjing plant, and will go on sale in the first half of 2008 through the Changan Mazda Motor Sales Company’s network.

Noriaki Yamada, President and COO of Mazda Motor (China) Co., Ltd. said, “By introducing the four-door sedan and five-door hatchback to the B-car segment in China, we will have completed our product launches in the B, C and CD segments, which represent the three major Chinese vehicle classes. The new models will greatly strengthen Mazda’s product lineup in China.”

Mazda’s Senior Managing Executive Officer, Kiyoshi Ozaki, spoke about Mazda’s global growth and China business at the press conference. “In fiscal year 2007, we expect to achieve our seventh consecutive year of profit growth and fourth straight year of record profit. Going forward, we will aspire to maintain our current growth by raising our brand value and enhancing our business efficiencies under our new mid-term Mazda Advancement Plan and our long-term vision for technology development, Sustainable Zoom-Zoom. Achieving our mid-term target for China of ‘300,000 units of production and sales in 2010’ will be a key factor in our plans,” he said.

This year, Mazda completed the consolidation of its production, sales and product foundations, which it has been building in order to achieve its mid-term objectives.

President and CEO of Mazda Motor (China) Co., Ltd., Satoshi Tachikake: “We have set up a production structure that comprises three facilities: the Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Nanjing plant, which was completed in September and features Mazda’s latest production and machining technologies, the Changan Ford Mazda Automobile plant in Chongqing, and FAW Car Company in Changchun.”

Mazda is also updating its sales network in order to achieve its mid-term target. In addition to the existing FAW Mazda Motor Sales Co., Ltd. (FMSC), Changan Mazda Motor Sales Co., Ltd. (CMSC) has been newly established, and sales will commence through the two channels from January 2008.

Noriaki Yamada, who is in charge of China sales, added, “The newly established Mazda Motor (China) Beijing Office will function as the representative of Mazda Motor Corporation. It will establish a reliable sales network by developing a unified brand strategy for the two sales channels and policies that will always benefit the customer. Mazda’s core products will be progressively introduced through the two sales channels to strengthen our product lineup. We intend to continue expanding our sales network, from the current 104 dealerships to a total of 160 for both channels by January 2008, and establish over 300 dealers by 2010.”

At the 2007 Guangzhou Motor Show, Mazda will promote the Zoom-Zoom brand promise by displaying twelve vehicles from five model lines, which represent Mazda’s core products that are scheduled for launch.

The display will include the Mazda5 and Mazda3 5-door hatchback, which are due to be introduced through FMSC. The Mazda5 is a stylish global minivan that will go on sale in China from December 2007. The Mazda3 5-door hatchback is one of Mazda’s core models and supports global sales mainly in Europe, Japan and Asia. It is due to commence sales in China during the first half of 2008.

The all-new Mazda2 five-door hatchback and sedan models that will be launched through the new CMSC channel will also be showcased. The all-new Mazda2 five-door hatchback is the first of Mazda’s evolved Zoom-Zoom new generation products. It has received excellent reviews, including the prestigious 2008 RJC Car of the Year award in Japan, since its global rollout commenced this summer. Production began at Changan Ford Mazda Automobile’s Nanjing plant at the end of October, with sales to follow in January 2008.

Officially titled The 5th China (Guangzhou) International Automobile Exhibition, the press day is November 19, and public days are November 20 - 26.
Source: mazda

Saturday, November 17, 2007

2006 Lexus IS350 Review

2006 Lexus IS350

Lexus has fully understood the concept of luxury as applied to an automobile since its inception. But "sport'' has seemingly been just out of its grasp. To be sure, there have been very sporty Lexuses, especially in the form of the GS sedans, but they have always been more luxury-sport than sport-luxury. The IS300 attempted to provide more sport than luxury when it debuted here six years ago, but, while it did well enough, it never quite measured up to the competition from Munich. Lexus is nothing if not competitive, and doesn't like second place. And so the IS300 has been replaced.

The 2006 IS lineup shares virtually nothing with the IS300 besides the IS model designation. Although still basically of a front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout, it's built on a completely different chassis platform, derived from that of the larger GS. The IS is now a multi-model lineup, comprised of the IS250, all-wheel drive IS250 AWD, and IS350. Gone is the IS300's inline six-cylinder engine; all new IS models have a V6, of 2.5 liters capacity with 204 horsepower - close to the IS300's 215 - for the IS250 models, or 3.5 liters and 306 horsepower for the IS350. Transmissions are all six-speeds, with a manual standard in the IS250 and the automatic available there standard in the others.

The new IS is larger than the old, especially in width and cabin space. Its muscular looks establish an immediate kinship with the GS. Although its lines, and the tuning of its fully-independent suspension, proclaim its sports-sedan mission, it is a Lexus, and the luxury level available, especially for the top-line IS350, is limited only by budget.

I first drove an IS350 when it was introduced to the press in the mountains north of Napa, California, last summer. I'd had its benchmark German competitor as my weekly test car the previous week, so it was fresh in mind when I spent most of the day in an IS350 equipped with the optional sport suspension. I was expecting the new IS to be closer to its competition than the old model, but was surprised by how close it was. There was parity between the two, really, for use in enthusiastic everyday driving, with the choice as to which was better being strictly personal preference.

This was reinforced last week, when I had an IS350 for a week at home. Unlike the sport-equipped introduction example, this one had the standard suspension and almost all of the available luxury options. But its sport-sedan nature was undiminished by all of those comforts and conveniences. The 2006 Lexus IS350 is a true sports-luxury sedan, and can hold its own against any competitor in the compact sports-luxury class.

APPEARANCE: In overall shape, the IS is remarkably similar to its larger GS relative. But subtle differences in proportion and style give it a lighter, sportier look. Its width is accentuated by muscular wheel arches filled with high-performance, low-profile rubber. In profile a decisive wedge shape to the body, with the tail the highest point, and a near-fastback roofline give it the look of a performance coupe, not a sedan. At the front, a sculpted, bulging hood, cat-eye headlights, and flat front fascia proclaim power, while the high, squared-off tail show refinement and hints at practical storage space.
COMFORT: Despite its emphasis on sport, there is no shortage of luxury comfort and convenience in a new Lexus IS. It wouldn't be a Lexus without that, after all. All IS models use the keyless "Smart Entry'' system, which uses a transponder to allow the driver to open or lock doors and start the engine. The old IS's gimmicky chronometer-like gauge cluster has been replaced by a brightly-lit Optitron cluster, and the instrument panel styling is pure Lexus, with no attempt to copy anyone else. The front buckets offer good comfort and support; rear space is reasonable for two medium-sized adults but a high central tunnel and the cushion's contours make three less likely. Trunk space is reasonable, although the opening is a bit small. Leather is standard in the IS350, as is a power moonroof and 13-speaker premium audio system with MP3CD capability and an auxiliary jack for an external music player. But that's just a start. My test car was outfitted with most available options, which brought it up to the luxury level of a well-equipped mid-size luxury sedan. Notable items in the various packages included but were not limited to (wait! there's more!) heated and cooled front seats with perforated leather (very pleasant), adaptive (turning) HID headlights, the Lexus Pre-Collision system with radar cruise control, an excellent Mark Levinson audio system, and a very good, easy-to-use navigation system. With the nav/audio package, interior systems are controlled through the touch screen mounted at the top of the center stack, a much simpler and more intuitive system than the obscure joysticks dear to the Germans.
SAFETY: The Lexus IS350 offers a comprehensive array of passive and active safety equipment. Traction control, antilock brakes with brake assist, and the Vehicle Stability Control system not only work in their intended manners, they are tied together in the Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system for further refinement of vehicle control. The carefully-designed passenger compartment and front and rear crumple zones protect occupants, as do dual front, dual front knee, front seat-mounted side, and front and rear side-curtain air bags. The available Pre-Collision system preemptively tightens safety belts and gives extra power to the Brake Assist system if sensors deem a collision unavoidable.

RIDE AND HANDLING: Even with the stock suspension setup, the IS350 exhibits crisp, responsive handling with minimal body lean in corners. The suspension calibration is firm, for good control, but not so firm as to decrease comfort, and, with staggered-size tires (225/45 17 in front, 245/45 17 rear) it works very well on a challenging road while also providing civilized comfort around town. Use of high-strength steel and aluminum parts for its double-wishbone front, multilink rear suspension reduces unsprung weight to improve the behavior of the wheels over bumps. Technology aids the driver in the form of the VDIM system, which uses sensors to gather input about steering angle, yaw rate, deceleration, brake activation, and ties the various electronic control systems of the car together to help the car react more quickly in high-speed or emergency maneuvers. It's a next-generation stability-control system, and is transparent in operation except right at the car's limits.

PERFORMANCE: With 306 horsepower (at 6400 rpm) and 277 lb-ft of torque (at 4800 rpm) from its namesake 3.5-liter V6, the IS350 is one of the most powerful cars in its class. Architecture for both the 2.5- and 3.5-liter engines is the same, with aluminum alloy block and heads, dual overhead cams with 24 valves engine, and VVT-i variable cam phasing. Both have direct fuel injection for high power output and a low ULEV II emissions rating. Auxiliary port injection, in the 3.5-liter engine only, improves cold starting, while the direct injection allows a higher compression ratio (12:1 for the 2.5, 11.8:1 for the 3.5), benefitting efficiency. Power is strong at all engine speeds, and the engine is very flexible, able to cruise at low speeds in high gears for good gas mileage. Yet it will happily rev to redline, and if power seemed strong at 2500 rpm, well, there's plenty more up higher. The control logic for the six-speed automatic is impressive. Upshifting in automatic is quick and positive, and delayed with wider throttle openings for improved acceleration when desired. It also downshifts automatically, to provide the correct gear for a given speed, and, unlike many automatics rarely shifts in a corner (thank you VDIM!). It can be shifted manually by means of twin paddles behind the steering wheel, or by putting the shift lever in the auxiliary manual gate, but seems slower to shift in manual mode. The engine's torque spread is broad enough, and the transmission good enough, that automatic is the way to go except in extreme high-performance driving.
CONCLUSIONS: Lexus launches a major attack on Bavaria with its new IS sports sedans.

2006 Lexus IS350

Base Price $ 35,440
Price As Tested $ 46,593
Engine Type dual overhead cam, 24-valve aluminum
alloy V6
with VVT-i variable cam phasing
Engine Size 3.5 liters / 210 cu. in.
Horsepower 306 @ 6400 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) 277 @ 4800 rpm
Transmission 6-speed electronically-controlled
Wheelbase / Length 107.5 in. / 180.1 in.
Curb Weight 3,527 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower 11.5
Fuel Capacity 17.1 gal.
Fuel Requirement 91 octane unleaded premium gasoline
Tires 225/45 front, 245/45 VR 17 rear
Dunlop Sport SP
Brakes, front/rear vented disc / vented disc, ABS, EBD,
brake assist standard
Suspension, front/rear independent double wishbone
Drivetrain independent multilink

EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
city / highway / observed 21 / 28 / 22
0 to 60 mph 5.6 sec

Headlamp washers $ 100
Luxury Package - includes:
HID & adaptive front lighting system,
heated & ventilated front seats, perforated
leather seat upgrade, wood interior trim,
power tilt & telescope steering wheel,
driver & passenger memory seats,
illuminated scuff plates, power rear sunshade,
rain-sensing wipers $ 3,495
Lexus Pre-Collision system(PCS) with
dynamic radar cruise control $ 2,850
Navigation system with Mark Levinson
premium audio package $ 3,990
Cargo net $ 59
Trunk mat $ 69
Destination charge $ 590
Source: theautochannel

Lexus IS Test Drive

Lexus IS 350


The completely new Lexus IS 250 and IS 350 models are so full of technology that it might be easy to overlook how well they function as fun-to-drive sports sedans.

Lexus is eager to bust out of its role as a maker of luxurious but conservative automobiles. They want to make performance and style as much a part of the marque's appeal as finely tailored cabins and cutting-edge amenities. Therefore, the target for the new IS models is no less than the BMW 3 Series. Of course, BMW is a proclaimed target for many car makers, but Lexus and parent company Toyota are not given to idle boasts or hopeless goals, and now they want to become known as the best driving machines from anywhere, not just Asia.

With that in mind, Lexus has introduced two all-new models, the Lexus IS 250 and IS 350, featuring a choice of V6 engines and available all-wheel drive.

The new IS 250 and IS 350 are considerably larger than last year's IS 300 models and they're stuffed with creature comforts. They look sporty, with bulging muscles and a purposeful stance. Their looks are backed up with genuine sports sedan attributes: rear-wheel drive and handling and performance aspirations tuned more for driving than, say, the softer, front-drive Lexus ES 330. For the most part, the new IS models deliver on the promise. We enjoyed driving them, particularly the more powerful IS 350. It's fast, it sticks in corners and it stops with authority. The IS 350's VDIM electronic stability control steps in very early to keep the driver out of trouble. The IS 250 AWD model's all-wheel drive makes it a good sports sedan for the Snow Belt.

Model Lineup

Three models are available for 2006. The Lexus IS 250 ($29,990) is powered by a new 2.5-liter V6, which sends 204 horsepower to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. The rear-drive IS 250 is also available with a newly developed, Formula 1-inspired six-speed automatic ($31,160). The all-wheel-drive IS 250 AWD ($34,285) comes standard with the six-speed automatic. At the top of the range is the IS 350 ($35,440) with a new 3.5-liter 306-horsepower V6 coupled to the paddle-shifted automatic.

Leather is now standard on the IS 250 and IS 350; and the IS 250 AWD comes with perforated leather-trim with Bird's eye maple accents. All models come loaded with standard features: dual-zone climate control, SmartAccess keyless entry with pushbutton engine start, and a 194-watt 13-speaker stereo with a six-disc in-dash CD changer; the audio system features digital signal processing, an electronic crossover network and built-in theft deterrence. It's satellite-ready and includes a new audio input jack in the center console that accepts any external audio source (iPod, Walkman, etc.) to the AUX input.

Safety features that come standard include driver and front-passenger knee airbags. The brakes are large and effective four-wheel discs, vented at the front and clamped by aluminum four-piston calipers. Augmenting the big brakes are ABS, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, and Brake Assist. Vehicle Stability Control and traction control (TRAC) comes with every IS 250, while the IS 350 gets TRAC as well as the more sophisticated Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM).

Standard exterior items are fog lamps, projector beam headlamps, puddle lamps on the underside of the outside rearview mirrors (which are also heated), dual polished stainless steel exhaust pipes, infrared and ultraviolet reducing glass on all the windows, and a color-coordinated front airdam.

The standard running gear is 17-inch aluminum five-spoke wheels fitted with low-profile high-performance radials. The IS 250 AWD comes with 225/45R17s at all four corners. The IS 250 and IS 350 come standard with 225/45R17 tires in front and wider 245/45R17s in the rear, a staggered setup to increase grip under acceleration. Optional 18-inch wheels are available for the IS 250 and IS 350, fitted with 225/40R18 tires in front and 255/40R18s in the rear.

Options include a sports suspension, two different styles of 18-inch wheels, summer performance tires, high-intensity discharge headlamps with AFS (that automatically swivel to light up corners when the steering wheel is turned), rain-sensing wipers, sport pedals, metal scuff plates, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel with memory, 10-way power seats, heated/ventilated seats, driver and front-passenger seat memory, leather console, rear armrest storage, wood interior trim, perforated leather trim, an auto-dimming memory reverse tilt-down mirror, and other features. The Mark Levinson audio/navigation system adds an additional speaker, advanced discrete amplifier technology with 300 watts and 7.1 channel speaker architecture. Other options include the navigation system, which features voice activation, a rear backup camera (a great safety feature); Bluetooth; Park Assist; Pre-Collision System with Dynamic Radar cruise control; headlamp washers; power moonroof. Accessories include a high-performance exhaust system and a body kit and rear spoiler.

Interior Features

Lush with creature comfort, trimmed with upscale materials, and crackling with electronic wizardry, the interior environment of the new IS models is pure Lexus. Nothing escaped notice in the totally new environment. Even the front sunvisors were redesigned to help absorb noise.

The new keyless entry and pushbutton ignition is so handy we wish this system were standard on every car. It also removes a potential safety hazard, a dangling set of keys, from the steering column and eliminates one of the most abused components from any future repair orders.

A bit roomier than the outgoing model, the cabin is still more sports car than family sedan. A prominent central console clearly establishes the driver and front-passenger zones. The controls wrap around the driver with every gauge and switch within easy scrutiny or close reach. The new Optitron gauges are larger and easier to read than the previous cluster, and their light-saber indicator needles, "ignition on" meter movement and dynamic redline indication are cool modern.

Leather upholstery comes standard on the IS 250 and IS 350 with metallic accents appropriately placed around the cabin. The IS 250 AWD comes with perforated leather trim and beautifully crafted bird's-eye maple accents. Each piece is hewn from a single chunk of wood to ensure a perfect match from panel to panel.

The heated and ventilated front seats are a must have. They come standard on IS 250 AWD and are available on the other models. Like keyless entry, once you've tried these seats, there's no going back.

The new, more efficient climate control system features a sophisticated temperature calculation system called Neural-Net, a new humidity sensor, a micro dust and pollen filler and, in IS 350 models, a smog sensor that detects excessive hydrocarbons and automatically reverts to a special recirculation mode until the atmosphere clears.

Still, for all its quality materials and refinement, the interior left this writer a little cold. It wasn't a case of inferior design or materials, but the cockpit seemed to lack a signature element, such as Volvo's floating center console, that could have made the IS cockpit as distinctive to sit in as it is to watch race off into the distance.

Driving Impressions

Once underway, there's little to criticize. The new Lexus IS, in both rear- and all-wheel-drive forms, can do everything the safe and sane driver might ask of it. It's fast, pulls enough g's in the corners to make a seasoned sailor carsick, and stops with authority.

The IS 250 AWD is the best choice if winter weather invades your neck of the woods, when the all-wheel-drive system's increased grip is most welcome. The AWD model is heavier than the IS 350, but it hauled us over the San Gabriel Mountains on fabled Angeles Crest Highway without exposing any dire penalties due to its weight.

On a racing circuit, the IS 350 is the way to go. At Willow Springs International Raceway, the "fastest racetrack in the West," the IS 350's muscular torque and free-revving engine pulled the car around the hilly course with almost lackadaisical ease.

We drove several examples of the IS models at competition speeds relentlessly in temperatures that rose above 110 degrees and not one of them stumbled or misfired. Because of the hot, slippery track surface, the tires constantly fought for grip, but the advanced chassis electronics kept everyone on the pavement. The car's inherent balance made it easy to push it to the limit, causing the electronic aids to step in and dampen the thrill.

We prefer the automatic over the manual. Though our traditional side still likes clutch pedals and manual shift levers, the new generation of manual automatics is so responsive that it takes a really good manual gearbox to draw us away from the auto-shifter. The IS 250's manual six-speed doesn't quite fit that description and isn't quite good enough to make us opt for it in lieu of the optional automatic. The paddle-shifted automatic is mostly wonderful, though driver control is never complete to help protect it against damaging shifts.


The all-new Lexus IS models are a quantum leap forward for the Lexus brand in terms of cutting-edge style and higher levels of performance. But BMW still has an edge when it comes to claiming itself the ultimate driving machine.

New Car Test Drive correspondent Greg N. Brown filed this report from Southern California.
Source: nctd

Related Articles