• 2015 Subaru Impreza gets new option package

    February 11, 2015
    Subaru has introduced a new option package that is exclusively available on the 2015 Impreza 2.0i Sport Premium hatchback.
    Called simply Option Package 16 (OP16), the package bundles popular optional features like a power tilt/sliding moonroof, a seven-inch color touch screen that runs the latest generation of Subaru’s StarLink infotainment system and a full suite of electronic driving aids called EyeSight Driver Assist Technology.

    Subaru’s well-regarded EyeSight technology is centered around a pair of stereoscopic cameras that are integrated into the rear-view mirror. The system enables functions like adaptive cruise control, lane departure and sway warning and pre-collision braking.

    The package does not bring any mechanical modifications. The Impreza 2.0i Sport Premium is powered by a 2.0-liter flat-four engine that generates 148 horsepower and 145 lb-ft. of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels via a five-speed manual transmission and Subaru’s famed symmetrical all-wheel drive system.

    Gas mileage checks in at 24 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, though buyers looking for better mileage can order the optional continuously variable transmission (CVT).

    The Option Package 16 will be available in the coming weeks. It will retail for $2,295, bumping the total price of the 2015 Impreza 2.0i Sport Premium to $24,290.

  • Mazda reviving the RX-7 for 2020 launch?

    February 11, 2015
    Mazda is reportedly preparing to resurrect the iconic RX-7 nameplate before the end of the decade.
    The company is said to be using the new MX-5 Miata platform, outfitted with a rotary engine. It will likely remain a two-seat roadster, rather than stretching to accommodate two rear-seat passengers, according to an Autocar report.

    The two-seat layout is expected to be the reasoning for reviving the RX-7 name, or potentially RX-6, as the term RX-9 could be conceived as the same size as the four-door RX-8.

    Mazda’s European research-and-development VP, Kenichiro Saruwatari, has confirmed that the company maintains dozens of engineers dedicated to rotary-engine development. Progress is said to have been made through partnerships with Japanese universities and NASA, which has helped pick a suitable material for the wear-prone rotor tips.

    The report suggests Mazda is confident that it has made significant improvements to rotary-engine technology. Previous reports suggest the naturally-aspirated engine will be capable of producing more than 300 horsepower.

    The automaker is said to be eyeing a 2020 launch to coincide with its 100th anniversary.

  • BMW working on i5/i7 based on 5-Series platform?

    February 11, 2015
    BMW is reportedly pushing forward with development of its next i-Series model, likely named the i5 or i7, to serve as a direct rival to the Tesla Model S.
    Referred to internally by the monicker F18, the plug-in hybrid vehicle is expected to be based on a long-wheelbase version of the next-generation 5-Series platform, unnamed sources have told Car.

    The external design is said to blend elements of the existing 6-Series Gran Coupe and the next-generation 7-Series sedan, though the aesthetics have yet to be finalized.

    The powertrain is reportedly adapted from the i8, pairing batteries with an internal-combustion range extender. Separate electric motors are expected to deliver 204 horsepower to the front wheels and 95 ponies to the rear, while the four-cylinder engine would produce around 245 horsepower. Electric-only operation is said to be good for 80 miles.

    The company’s plans for third i-Series model have been the subject of several seemingly contradictory rumors. Previous reports have suggested that the i5 will actually be a Prius-style hatchback, or all-electric with a 200-mile range, or even hydrogen powered.

    If the latest report proves accurate, the i5 or i7 could be revealed as early as September at the Frankfurt auto show.

  • Chicago preview: 2016 Ford Police Interceptor Utility [Video]

    February 11, 2015
    Ford has introduced the 2016 Police Interceptor Utility ahead of its debut at tomorrow’s Chicago Motor Show.
    The 2016 Police Interceptor is based on the 2016 Explorer that was introduced last November at the Los Angeles Motor Show. Like the Explorer, the Police Interceptor gets a new front fascia characterized by redesigned radiator grille, sharper headlights and a new lower bumper. The middle section of the SUV remains essentially unchanged while the rear end gets revamped tail lamps and a new spoiler.

    The Police Interceptor stand out from its family-focused counterpart thanks to ballistic shields built to Level III specifications integrated into the front doors, a heavy-duty suspension system with larger springs, upgraded brakes, 18-inch steel wheels and 25 available lighting patterns.

    The Interceptor can be ordered with an optional Surveillance Mode that warns the driver when someone approaches the rear end of the vehicle and automatically locks all of the doors and raises the driver’s window. Ford has also added a liftgate release switch that allows the front occupants to unlock the trunk for 45 seconds.

    Power for the Police Interceptor Utility comes from a 3.7-liter V6 engine that makes 304 horsepower and 279 lb-ft. of torque. Police departments looking to reduce their gasoline budget can opt for a 3.5-liter EcoBoost mill rated at 365 horsepower and 350 lb-ft. of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission with a built-in Pursuit Mode and all-wheel drive come standard regardless of which six-cylinder is chosen.

    Built in Chicago, the 2016 Ford Police Interceptor will go on sale next summer, meaning you can expect to see it appear in your rear-view mirror shortly after.

  • Geneva preview: 2015 BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer

    February 11, 2015
    BMW has introduced the 2015 2 Series Gran Tourer, a seven-seater variant of the 2 Series Active Tourer. The Munich-based automaker’s latest people-mover is scheduled to make its debut next month at the Geneva Motor Show.
    Stretching 179 inches long, 70 inches wide and 63 inches tall, the 2 Series Gran Tourer rides on the same front-wheel drive UKL platform as the aforementioned Active Tourer, the MINI Hardtop and the next X1 crossover. As expected, the Gran Tourer looks similar to its five-seater sibling from the tip of the front bumper to the B-pillar. Beyond that, it gains a stretched wheelbase and a noticeably longer rear overhang that frees up additional space in the cockpit.

    In Germany, the Gran Tourer inaugurates an application called myKIDIO that keeps kids entertained on-the-go by providing age-appropriate content such as movies, TV shows and audio books. The application is designed for tablets such as iPads but it can be controlled by the front passengers using the iDrive Controlled and the Control Display. Additionally, myKIDIO features a BMW Kids Cockpit that provides information such as the outside temperature and the speed in a simple and fun way. Notably, Kids Cockpit puts an end to the age-old “are we there yet?” question by providing youngsters with the time and the estimated time of arrival.

    Trunk space checks in at 22 cubic feet with five occupants on board. Sliding the rear bench forward bumps that figure up to 28, and folding the bench flat into the floor clear up 67 cubic feet. Gran Tourers equipped with the optional third row of seats boast a respectable 19.7 cubic feet of cargo space while carrying seven passengers.

    Mechanically, the Gran Tourer is nearly identical to the Active Tourer. It is available with five downsized engines including both gas- and diesel-burning variants of BMW’s ubiquitous 1.5-liter three-cylinder, a 2.0-liter turbo four rated at 192 horsepower and a 150-horsepower 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-banger. Both the 220i and the 220d can reach 62 mph from a stop in 7.6 seconds, while the fuel efficiency champ of the lineup is the 216d that returns over 56 mpg in a mixed European cycle.

    Power is sent to the front wheels via a standard six-speed manual transmission regardless of which engine is chosen. The three-cylinder engines can be linked to a six-speed Steptronic gearbox at an extra cost, and the four-cylinders can be ordered with an optional eight-speed automatic. Similarly, the top-spec 190-horsepower turbodiesel engine is paired BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system.

    After greeting the show-going public in Geneva, the 2015 BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer will go on sale across Europe next fall. Whether or not the people-mover will be sold in the United States is up in the air.