2016 Vauxhall Insignia – new spy shots

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These are the latest images of the next-generation Vauxhall Insignia, testing of which has been ramped up in preparation for the car’s launch in 2016. The focus with the new version of Vauxhall’s Mondeo rival is on making the car larger, lighter and more efficient.




The next Insignia will be a global car, and will be sold under theVauxhall, Opel and Buick badges across Europe, the United States and China.


It is thought that the next Insignia is around 12 to 15 months away from making its public debut – meaning that it could appear at the Paris motor show next autumn or, potentially, the Geneva motor show in March 2017. The biggest change for what will be the second-generation Insignia is expected to be a small stretch in the car’s wheelbase.


The latest spy shots suggest the new Insignia will get an evolutionary look, with only minor styling changes. Among them is a new swooping roofline which is higher at the rear, and a wider rear end.


As well as increasing rear space and making it easier to access the rear cabin (thanks to the taller door apertures), the Mk2 Insignia will get a bigger and more user-friendly boot. A new tailgate design with redesigned taillight clusters should help to ensure that the car has a deeper, wider and taller boot than before, as well as matching the 565-litre capacity of the Skoda Superb.




Under the skin, the Insignia is based on a moderately updated version of GM’s familiar Epsilon 2 architecture. In European markets, the most important engine upgrades will be the debut of the new 1.6-litre CDTi diesel in the Insignia, which will replace today’s 2.0-litre CDTi unit.


With a newly engineered installation, General Motors will be targeting best-in-class refinement for the diesel Insignias. The new 1.6-litre CDTi engine will be offered in a range of outputs, starting at 136bhp and rising to around 170bhp.


Today’s Insignia is already available with GM’s new 1.6-litre SIDI turbocharged petrol engine in 168bhp form. This engine will also be offered in two lower-powered versions.


The Insignia will be offered with a new eight-speed automatic transmission, which is expected to improve overall fuel economy by around 3% compared with the six-speed manual versions.





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2016 Chevy Camaro SS first drive: Finishing school

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Sixth-gen Camaro gets nipped and tucked, learns some manners



The sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro is lighter, faster, quieter and smarter than all that came before. It’s better put-together, now rides on Cadillac underpinnings and, for the first time, has a better power-to-weight ratio (8.09 pounds per horse) than its mortal enemy, the Ford Mustang (8.51).

The historically heavy and brutish pony car is dangerously close to being called sophisticated. Why?

For starters, Chevy trimmed a lot of fat. In fact, the V6 model is 294 pounds lighter than last year’s car, the V8 223 pounds less and the new turbo four 390 pounds lighter than the last V6. General Motors did this using aluminum where possible, and the car sits on the Cadillac ATS’ rear-drive chassis, making the Chevy’s body-in-white 20 percent lighter than when it sat on the old Zeta platform. No part was left unchecked: The wheels are a half-inch wider but 6 ounces lighter, and extra threads were trimmed off long bolts.

The exterior loses some visual mass. The headlights and grille are narrower, the air intake is more pronounced and sleek, and LEDs replace the old-school fog lights. In back, the bumper protrudes a bit more while the taillights tilt upward. The new Camaro is now tailored into a slim-fit suit—it’s cut close around the thighs and midsection, but makes you feel tall, lean and good-looking.


More-modern engines are available under the power-domed hood. The base model’s four has an aluminum head, direct injection and turbocharging to make 275 hp and 295 lb-ft. The dual-overhead cam V6 delivers 335 hp and 284 lb-ft, up 13 hp and 6 lb-ft over last year’s.

Finally, the hot SS trim, having worked with slightly detuned Corvette engines most of its life, now lays down 455 hp and 455 lb-ft, only a few ticks behind America’s favorite sports car—the last SS arrived with 426 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. All are offered with a Tremec six-speed manual. Those putting money down on an automatic get GM’s new high-tech eight-speed.

Historically, pony cars haven’t been the best handlers; they didn’t “go around corners” quite right. The SS aims to end that talk with double lower ball joints, MacPherson struts and an antiroll bar in front, and an independent five-link in back.

GM’s Magnetic Ride Control is optional on the SS—thankfully, it was installed on our tester. “Oh, your Ferrari has iron particle-filled adjustable shocks? So does my Camaro.”

The SS is quiet when cruising, restrained even. In sixth gear, there is little muffler noise; even at 120 mph, you can have an easy conversation with the well-dressed passenger next to you. Now, we’re not saying you should, but you could.

As good as Magnetic Ride Control is on the track, the street is where the optional suspension ($1,695) really shows its worth. Many of the curvy roads in mid-Michigan are also wavy, giving each corner a chance to bound and rebound independently. Even on the gas, at least with the wheels pointed straight, everything feels stuck to the road.

Compared to the old Camaro, gen six seems light and fleet of foot. Steering is quicker, more responsive. It certainly doesn’t hurt that this SS weighs 3,685 pounds (the old car was 3,908).


Since this is such an important car for GM, we decided that a standard road test wouldn’t be enough. Accordingly, we took the Camaro to Michigan International Speedway to shake it down at high speeds and hard angles on a beautiful, sunny fall day.

On the track, the SS puts down 45.1-mph runs in consistent, well-balanced fashion through our tight, 490-foot slalom course. The traction control kicks in a little too much when fully on, but a double tap of the button sends it into competitive mode, which allows help only when the car gets too sideways.

Steering weight is medium in sport. That, the throttle, shift patterns and the shocks all adjust with the drive modes. There is no under-steer really, just buttery smooth, predictable tail-wagging, becoming more fun as the tires warm up.

At no point do we feel like the car wants to go all the way around. It just takes a little steering correction and maybe a tiny lift off the gas pedal. On the 200-foot skidpad, we pull 0.87 g, but we sense that the car is capable of pushing even further.

Power comes on smooth and linear like the Corvette and, without boost, stays that way to the 6,000-rpm peak. Chevy claims a quarter-mile time of 12.5 seconds; we got close, logging our best run in 12.7 seconds at 112.8 mph. The dual-mode exhaust ($895) opens up at about 3,500 rpm and gets loud—the only time the car acts uncivilized for us. Clutch effort is just about right, but the catch point is a little broader than we’d like. The new stick shift and linkage are great, a full step ahead of the outgoing car’s setup. Throws are short and crisp, with no flex. The cupholders are offset, so a couple 20-ounce pop bottles won’t intrude on your shifting.


The SS starts at $37,295, including destination. The V6 is $28,490 and the turbo four $26,695, making it competitive with the Blue Oval. Unlike the Mustang, though, the four-banger is the base engine, and the V6 is the upgrade. The eight-speed automatic will set you back $1,495, if you’re interested in that type of thing.

Sophistication is borne on the inside. That means a new set of clothes isn’t enough. But when a car’s guts are as buttoned up and as smoothed out as the exterior, then we have something to talk about.

In the ’16 Camaro, we can talk about it at 120 mph.




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Wheeling a Lamborghini Huracan at Accademia Intensivo

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Accademia Intensivo gets owners comfortable with Italian power




Lamborghini isn’t in the business of selling supercars that are instantly crashed, despite the infamy that comes from leading headlines at It wants owners to not only enjoy their cars, but to use them to their full capability.


That’s why it created Lamborghini Accademia Intensivo, a driving school that gives owners a chance to practice high-speed driving in someone else’s car. And that’s really the dream of all enthusiasts.


We took a trip to the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, to get a taste of what’s in store for the already admittedly lucky. This was a one-day event, and for customers it costs about $6,000. For that you get one day of driving, plus insurance, welcome drinks and dinner, trackside hospitality, pictures, a welcome gift and two nights at the hotel. Don’t drink too much that first night, Lamborghini reminded us, because you’ll be in the car early and stomach full of brown liquor and hot laps with pros just don’t mix.


The morning started with a quick safety briefing before hitting the track for a selection of different driving exercises. We started on the autocross with a spankin’ new Huracan coupe.


The 600-hp V10 kept a tight trajectory on the curving, double hairpin cone course. We kept it in automatic mode, not wanting to shift while navigating the esses. Anywhere else, we’d be paddling through the gears, but because we needed to learn the course, and were going for time, we didn’t touch them.




The Huracan felt surprisingly loose on the short, 20-second-or-so pop-up track. Though it’s all-wheel drive, the sport mode setting cheats power to the rear for more traditional sports car handling. A little too much gas sent the rear end out and we had to lift just a smidge to get it back in line. In street mode, or the track-oriented corsa mode, the car and its driven front wheels would do that for you. It shot down the small back straight through about a gear and a half before we had to stomp on the clampers to slow for the next turn. The best practice seemed to be keeping the tires squeaking around the hairpin, and then getting back on the gas to work the esses.


This was the first event, and many of the drivers were surprisingly timid, having never really driven a car in anger before. It didn’t take long for them to get in the swing of things.


Next up were lead-follow laps — us in the Huracan and one of our instructors in an Aventador. Lamborghini thoughtfully had us wear helmets with radios, so we were in constant contact with the lead driver.


After watching a few F1 races we were a little nervous about COTA. It was our first time at the track and it has several difficult sections including the esses, three near hairpins and a back straight that lets Formula One drivers hit 300 kph without breaking a sweat.




Turn one is the most intimidating. The front straight rises more than 100 feet and approaches one of the slowest turns on the track. After hitting somewhere in the mid-100-mph range you have to get on the brakes late and hard. It’s more difficult than it sounds: you see the lead driver brake, you start closing, but you don’t want to hit your brakes until you reach the braking point yourself.


After that is the downhill section leading to the S-curves, and if you don’t get that right, forget your time because the lap is blown. Just get yourself back on the racing line and try again next time. (We learned that helpful hint after watching videos of ourselves during another teaching portion of the school, which showed just how off the line we actually were.)


After the esses is another hairpin leading to the back straight. That corner is a matter of shifting down to second and pulling it around, but technically, it’s the most important curve on the track since it leads into the longest straight. We cracked about 165 mph on the back half of the track with constant, non-boosted power and quick shifts from the dual-clutch transmission. The Huracan danced a little when braking hard to make the hairpin, but only got out of whack far enough to scare us once.


The brake discs and pads hung tough all day, and these cars were getting beat on lap after lap by inexperienced drivers. We were surprised, but in retrospect, we shouldn’t have been — that’s what you should get when you drop $241,945 on a thoroughly modern all-wheel drive Italian supercar.


We jumped in the Aventador for the next — the company would like to sell you another — and were instantly transported back to our SV drive earlier this year in Spain. Lambo’s halo car is fast and scary, just as we remembered. Gear changes from the independent shift rod (ISR) transmission are too slow in street mode, and a little too hard in track mode. You’d think the middling sport mode would be best, but its not. We kept it in track. We hit about the same speeds in the Aventador, but its transmission setup makes it harder to bang off shifts in corners. We’d much prefer one of the many ultra-smooth dual-clutch units. And overall, if it were our money, we’d opt for the more stable Huracan.




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Dodge Viper to cease production in 2017, labor agreement reveals

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No apparent replacement in the pipeline for all-American sports car



The Viper, Dodge’s all-American exotic sports car launched nearly a quarter-century ago to much acclaim, will end production in 2017, according to details contained in Fiat Chrysler’s new contract with the UAW.


The product plan is included in the agreement that will be voted on by UAW members next week. It also indicates that FCA will upgrade its eight-speed automatic transmission.


The original Viper went into production in 1992. It was updated in 1996, 2003 and 2008, before Chrysler’s bankruptcy ended its run in 2010. A redesigned version debuted in 2013, but a big price increase and improved competitors hurt sales.


The 650-hp sports coupe is built at FCA’s Conner Avenue assembly plant in Detroit. The company’s $5.3 billion product plan indicates no replacement vehicle for the small factory where Vipers are built by hand by about 80 employees.


FCA has struggled to sell the Viper since its relaunch. Through September, just 503 Vipers were sold in the United States, down 7.9 percent from the same period a year before. Dodge sold just 760 Vipers in all of 2014.



In addition to other product changes first reported by Automotive News in September — such as Ram 1500 production moving from Warren Assembly in suburban Detroit to Sterling Heights Assembly 10 miles away — the plan also shows that FCA plans to squeeze more efficiency out of its current eight-speed automatic.


The transmission — used in almost all of FCA’s rear-wheel-drive based cars, crossovers and SUVs — will switch from a current “Gen1” to “Gen2,” according to details given UAW members about FCA’s Kokomo, Ind., transmission complex.


No timeframe was provided for the transmission upgrade, however.


The eight-speed was designed by ZF Friedrichshafen and licensed to FCA. In its current configuration, the eight-speed provides a 9 percent boost in fuel economy over a six-speed automatic, according to FCA’s securities filings.




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2016 Honda Civic sedan first drive

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The epic Civic for the world





This Honda marks the transition from high-revving, naturally aspirated tradition to factory turbocharging. It isn’t likely to go back, so it’s pretty critical that Honda gets it right.


Instead of trying to build a car intended specifically to excel in North America, Honda went with a global platform. Benchmarks were set at the level of European luxury sedans from BMWAudi and Mercedes-Benz. Admittedly, that’s a pretty lofty goal. We didn’t expect Mercedes-grade comfort and performance, but we did expect a reliable, comfortable and cost-efficient car that has a ton of utility. Basically, that’s what you’d always expect from a Civic. And while long-term reliability remains unknown, for the most part, things haven’t changed.


For 2016, Civic sedans get two engine options: either a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter I4 making 158 hp or a turbocharged 1.5-liter I4 pumping out a healthy 175 hp at 5,500 rpm. The engine options are determined at the trim level, with the LX and EXs powered by the 2.0-liter, while the LX-T, EX-T and Touring editions come equipped with the 1.5-liter engine. The 2.0-liter engine with a manual transmission is able to sip fuel at the rate of 27 mpg city, 40 mpg highway for combined fuel economy of 31 mpg. The turbocharged 1.5 with the CVT does even a little better with 31 mpg city, 42 mpg highway and a combined 35 mpg.



The interior on the base LX feels a little cheap considering Honda’s promise of premium appointments at entry-level pricing. The materials chosen for the dash, assorted interior trim pieces, arm rests and the center console all feel like they were designed for a car that costs less than $20K, which is fine — this car will sell for under $20K — but it’s a far cry from European Luxury.


On the other hand, the top-tier Touring model does live up to the hype: It feels as nice as any Acura sedan. The interior is clad with soft-touch materials throughout. Honda also did away with a traditional emergency brake, replacing it with an electronic unit that seems to work just as well while also allowing for a massive center console. But of course, no handbrake means no handbrake turns. Bummer.



The passenger compartment is surprisingly quiet. Honda went overkill on the sound-deadening and weather-stripping materials to seal this car up like a luxury sedan.

Honda says this Civic is the safest yet — thanks to the use of high-strength steel and specially engineered crumple zones, this Civic is both rigid and capable of safely crumpling on impact. By weakening certain areas of the high-strength steel structure with a heat-treating process, Honda managed to use mostly high-strength steel for the structure of the car, without being forced to use mild steel in crumple areas. This should allow for maximum structural rigidity, as well as somewhat predictable deformation on collisions. At least that’s what Honda says.


What’s it like to drive?


The torque converter-equipped CVT provides smooth, linear acceleration. Hell, we’ll be frank — this thing hustles. The CVT manages to keep the inline-four at near-peak boost under hard acceleration, and it’s out of its own way in a hurry. The 2.0-liter isn’t as exciting to drive, but it also feels more powerful than 158 hp sounds on paper. The big advantage of the 2.0-liter engine is that it is available with a manual transmission, whereas the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine is not — yet. We’re speculating that certain coupe models might have a manual transmission version –- but only time will tell. When cornering, the Civic is fairly stiff and predictable, better than most drivers will ever need an entry-level sedan to be.

The different trim levels steer, stop and handle just about the same — because they’re all equipped with the same suspension, steering, and braking components.

Honda chose to use an electric dual-pinion rack with a variable steering ratio to provide more road feel. Lock-to-lock takes two and a quarter turns, but the Civic sedan manages a good 35.7-foot turning radius.

Stopping power is provided by discs all the way around, and the car stops well. The brake pedal feels a little spongy, but the pedal stroke is relatively short.



There isn’t a ton of turbo noise with the 1.5-liter engine. No shh-pssh when you get out of boost and no spooling whine. So don’t expect to strike fear into the hearts of street racers. Hopefully, we’ll get a little bit of noise out of the Si and Type-R.

The suspension carries some serious improvements over previous generations but has been a point of contention with Honda enthusiasts who are still mourning the death of Honda’s double-wishbone suspensions. A MacPherson strut suspension system does duty up front, and a redesigned multi-link suspensions takes care of the rear. Civic enthusiasts don’t seem excited about another era of MacPherson strut front suspension, but they shouldn’t be too upset — the Civic handles well. The lack of negative camber from the MacPherson struts shouldn’t be an issue on the street, and the new Civic is pretty stiff in the corners. Despite being stiff, the Civic is also smooth and comfortable when you’re just trying to commute. Honda claims that this is because of new hydraulic bushing technology, and it seems to work well.

Visibility is not an issue in the new Civic sedan. A quarter window behind the rear doors helps when looking over your shoulders. And with the standard backup and blind-spot camera, blind spots are not an issue.

The gauge cluster is digital and, on startup, flashes the Honda logo, then the speedometer sweeps it away — it’s pretty “Tron,” but we like it. On turbocharged models, there is a boost gauge inside of the speedometer, which isn’t really necessary on a car like this — but it still looks cool. Like the rest of the Honda fleet, there are lights in the cluster telling you how efficiently you’re driving — they light up green when you’re getting optimum fuel economy and white when you’re sucking gas.

The infotainment system hasn’t changed much on the user side of things, besides the inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Android and Apple skins come standard on all trim levels besides the base LX and were implemented really well. We didn’t have an Android phone, so we could only test the CarPlay option, which booted quickly and didn’t lag.


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Cadillac chills ATS-V and CTS-V with Crystal White Frost Editions

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The paint is still drying on Cadillac’s ATS-V and CTS-V sports cars and the company is already releasing a special version of both called the Crystal White Frost Edition. Only 99 will be built; 29 will be CTS-V sedans, 39 will be ATS-V coupes and the rest will be ATS-V sedans.

The package on the ATS includes Cadillac’s Crystal White Frost matte-finish paint, polished forged-aluminum wheels, carbon fiber front splitter, hood vent, rear diffuser, black rocker extensions and a body-color rear spoiler.

The CWF ATS-V also comes with the “luxury package,” though items like an enhanced version of CUE, sport alloy pedals, a universal home remote, HID headlights, split-folding seats and a 110-volt power point don’t seem particularly upscale to us considering the car’s $70k+ starting price. Convenient, just not upscale.


The CTS-V gets 19-inch wheels, as opposed to 18s on the ATS and the same carbon fiber upgrades. The luxury stuff looks a little more…luxurious, with tri-zone climate control, heated rear seats and a power rear sunshade.

According to Cadillac a few additional options can be installed, depending on dealer. They include Recaro performance seats, a performance data recorder, the ultra-view sunroof and painted brake calipers.

Cadillac also notes that “Crystal White Frost paint is engineered to be as durable as normal paint but requires special attention for cleaning.” Special care and cleaning instructions can be found here.

The ATS-V Frost Editions start at $71,640 for the sedan and $73,660 for the coupe, including destination. The CTS-V is priced at $94,990. They’ll be at dealers by the end of this month. Buyers can call Cadillac Customer Support at (800) 333-4223 to find a dealer.



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Check the recall status of your diesel Volkswagen by its VIN

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Volkswagen launches VIN lookup tool on its diesel information website


Volkswagen has added a VIN lookup tool on its diesel recall information website that allows owners to check if their cars possess the emissions-cheating software and will require a fix, the details of which have yet to be announced. You can check whether your vehicle will be part of a recall here.

The automaker had already added similar features to its German and British websites, in addition to publishing a list of the vehicle models and model years thought to be affected by the software, which include:

VW Jetta TDI (2009 — 2015)
VW Jetta SportWagen TDI (2009 — 2014)
VW Golf TDI (2010 –2015)
VW Golf SportWagen TDI (2015 only)
VW Beetle TDI and VW Beetle Convertible TDI (2012 — 2015)
VW Passat TDI (2012 — 2015)

Volkswagen stresses that the cars are safe to drive and that owners do not need to take any action at this point in time. The automaker plans to inform owners of a recall schedule once its fix for the software is approved by regulators in the U.S. You will note that this list does not include the Audi A3 that also has this engine (though it should) and it does not include the diesel Touareg, which is not believed to be part of any upcoming recalls since it uses the 3.0-liter V6.

VW’s Canadian diesel information site does not have a similar VIN tool yet, and it refers to affected models as being all 2.0-liter diesel models from the 2009 model year onwards. Volkswagen’s Canadian lineup is a little different from the U.S., though the cars from that market will also face a recall. The Canadian website, however, lists the Audi A3 from the 2010 through the 2013 model year, as well as the 2015 model year as being affected, though the U.S. site makes no mention of Audi at all.

The site contains a curious Q&A section that, much like its U.S. counterpart, attempts to allay the fears of current owners of affected vehicles. But some of the questions and answers are pretty telling. Here’s one:

“Are there no processes in place to prevent something like this happening?” a question on the info site asks.

“The discrepancies resulted from software installed at the time of manufacture and could not be detected by the quality and regulatory compliance testing that was undertaken at the time,” VW states, asserting that its current quality control processes could not have detected the presence of the emissions-cheating software. This suggests that VW did not test the diesel models the old-fashioned way — in real-world conditions with sensors in the tailpipe, and that it did not carry out testing on diesel emissions outside of a laboratory environment.

During VW U.S. CEO Michael Horn’s testimony on Capitol Hill a week and half ago it was also revealed that 2016 model year diesel-engined cars that were scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. contained another type of emission control device that has yet to be evaluated by the EPA, one that the EPA classifies as an “auxiliary emission control device.” The EPA indicated that it has yet to evaluate the legality of this second device, which is stated to be part of a catalyst “warmup strategy,” helping it reach an optimal operating temperature sooner.

Volkswagen has withdrawn its 2016 diesel models from certification in the U.S. until it develops a fix for the all of the affected cars, which are thought to number 482,000 in the U.S. alone.


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BMW all-wheel drive is older than you think

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It all started with a 3-Series sedan at the 1985 Frankfurt motor show




When we think German all-wheel drive systems from the 1980s, it is inevitably Audi’s Quattro system that springs to mind. But Volkswagen AG’s competitors were also converts to the all-wheel drive philosophy, even though it took them a little longer to really get going.


This fall BMW is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the date when the Munich-based automaker allowed for the possibility that there could be something more awesome than rear-wheel drive… in those rare instances you had to drive on ice or snow. It was at the 1985 Frankfurt motor show that BMW unveiled the 325i “Allrad” sedan, a 3-Series of the E30 generation.




The system wasn’t named xDrive at that point and it was not as sophisticated as it is today, but it immediately gained praise from the automotive press. BMW’s all-wheel drive system sent 63 percent of the power to the rear wheels and 37 percent to the front, with visco locks in the rear differential and in the transfer case sorting out the differences in speed, assuring that the all-wheel drive system felt as much as a rear-wheel drive setup as possible.


The first model to feature the new all-wheel drive system was the 325iX, with the wagon arriving for the 1988 model year. North America only received the sedan version of the 325iX, having been shut out of the wagons, but the all-wheel drive sedan was still a bit of a novelty on our shores. The next model to receive all-wheel drive was the 525iX of 1991 — the E34-generation model already halfway through its product cycle. The all-wheel drive system in the larger sedan was now electronically controlled, with multi-plate clutches splitting the power 36:64 front to rear in accordance with signals from the ABS system.


Until relatively recently — 1999, to be precise (OK, that was a while ago) — all-wheel drive goodness was confined to the 3- and the 5-Series cars. That’s when the X5 Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV), or SUV as everyone else called it, arrived using a planetary gear system to split the power 38 to 62 percent in favor of the rear wheels, adding such systems as DSC (Dynamic Stability Control), hill descent control and an automatic differential brake.




An all-new reengineered xDrive system arrived four years later, in 2004, to replace the older all-wheel drive system. Debuting in the X3 and in the X5 at the same time, xDrive had the ability to send 100 percent of the power to the front or rear axle, using Dynamic Stability Control data such as accelerator position, steering angle and lateral acceleration to continuously adjust the drive power split.


It’s hard to find a BMW model now that does not offer all-wheel drive — one third of all cars BMW sells are xDrive models, over than a hundred in all — more in some markets than in others. But it all started with the smallest sedan in the range at a time when all the various models from Munich could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Now that’s a long time ago.





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2016 Volkswagen Passat starts at $23,260; no diesel offered

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New midsize VW sedan gets fresh tech, safety features … gasoline engines


Volkswagen, when it’s not battling #dieselgate, is still building and marketing cars like the new Passat, which unfortunately launched just as the diesel scandal broke. We told you all about the Passat here, and now VW says pricing starts at $23,260, including destination, for the S model with an automatic transmission. That’s the same price as the outgoing model, but VW claims the new Passat has $1,315 in additional content.


Two engines will be offered: a 1.8-liter turbocharged I4 making 170 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, as well as a 3.6-liter VR6, which makes 282 hp and 258 lb-ft. A diesel powertrain would normally slot right between those two, but there’s no word on if or when VW will release a new TDI Passat.


Touchscreens will proliferate throughout the range with the company’s second-generation “modular infotainment platform,” known as MIB II. It uses capacitive touch sensors, similar to those found on cellphones, to enable swiping, pinching to zoom and other features. Response time is improved as well, according to VW. It also works with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink.


The base S model comes with 16-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, rearview camera and automatic post-collision braking, which means that if the car senses you’re in an accident, it holds the brakes to prevent any further drama.


The R-Line, with unique rocker panels, a new front bumper with black accents, bigger wheels and a modified rear diffuser, starts at $24,795. The SE adds a sunroof, satellite radio, a second USB port, a bigger screen and a bunch of safety features for $27,100. Adding the tech package lumps on $2,130 for a grand total of $29,230.


The 1.8-liter SEL starts at $31,315; the SEL Premium goes up to $35,540. The V6 SEL Premium is at the top of the range and starts at $37,655.


The 2016 Passat goes on sale before the end of this year.




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