Enthusiasts have long bemoaned the wider automotive market’s taste shift away from sports cars toward SUVs and crossovers as the most coveted vehicular status symbol. BMW, while well-positioned to capitalize on this trend with its broad range of sometimes line-blurring crossovers, has nevertheless felt the sales hit to its Z4 roadster line in the last few years. While I firmly count myself among the “enthusiast” camp, I realize that as much as I may try, my tastes will never mirror the wider car shopping public’s at this point. When I recently spent a week with BMW’s sole remaining two-seater, I tried to curb my enthusiasm (so to speak) and view its relevance through the lens of the typical new car shopper – one who may typically fall for a new BMW with an “X” prefix in its name rather than a “Z”.
Author - John Kucek
Introduced for 2011, the current-gen 6 is BMW’s largest, most sumptuous and most expensive convertible, and to keep it relevant against rivals, it was recently given a nip and tuck treatment for 2016. I recently spent a week with the big BeeEm to see what’s what.
The Mustang has long been Ford’s bread-and-butter performance car, the granddaddy of the pony car segment, object of desire for administrative assistants and mulleted gentlemen alike (depending on engine choice). OK, that last shot might be a bit unfair. Even this article’s distinguished author, widely known for his discerning taste, once succumbed to the Mustang’s blue-collar charms. In a moment of fitful lust I bought a brand new 2011 GT Coupe, a five-liter in screaming yellow, equipped with the Brembo brake package and a manual transmission – as it should be. That was a fantastic car, loaded with character if a bit rough around the edges, but its charm wore off quickly for me and I retreated to the import brand camp I knew and loved after 10 short months with it. Perhaps this new EcoBoost model will be able to change the minds of even the most hardened import fans like me?
The Beetle has always carried with it a sort of “love it or hate it” image, and while the newest version is less polarizing, both opponents and proponents of the love bug’s cutesy styling seem to come out of the woodwork when you’re driving around in one.
I was a pretty big supporter of the original Sonata Hybrid, mostly because in practice, it didn’t really drive like a stereotypical hybrid. It had enough power to get out of its own way, it had the silhouette of a normal sedan, and its six-speed automatic avoided any hint of CVT droniness. Hyundai’s now wrapped the Hybrid in the same new-for-2015 duds worn by its regular Sonata sedan stablemate, but they’ve also made a few worthwhile improvements under the skin in the name of fuel efficiency.
Every week is a roll of the dice in terms of what press car shows up at our Speed:Sport:Life door step. One week we’ll be in a heavy duty diesel pickup, the next a hybrid sedan. It’s rare that we receive consecutive vehicles that are direct competitors. Well, the stars must have aligned recently, because the car gods sent us two mid-size crossovers on subsequent weeks. And if we can be forgiven for secretly wishing for back-to-back Ferraris, this still afforded a unique opportunity to spot the similarities and differences between two popular crossovers – the Nissan Murano and Hyundai Santa Fe.