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2009 BMW M3 convertible

Automotive — Sidiov @ July 30, 2009

Finally I get a chance to drive the new BMW M3 convertible. The M3 is not a “new” car, being in it’s second model year already, but in any case, I still consider it one of the most excellent driving experiences on the road. The biggest problem with BMW in southern California is that even the M models are commonplace. The new M3 coupes and convertibles are popping up all over very quickly.
The convertible is a bit heavier than the coupe at 3,989 pounds (not a light car), but the 414 bhp engine does a great job giving the beast all the grunt you could want. BMW likes to keep torque low on its engines, but gives it to you at a low rpm so you have the power to burn rubber. This ideal still holds true, with a max of 295 ft lb available at 3,900 rpm, and a large range redlining at 8,400 rpm. I’ve heard claims you can get to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds in the cv, but I was unable to match that, taking 5.4 in 4 of 5 tests in my manual equipped model.

The interior of this convertible is very nice.  The leather is comfortable and classy, and with the hard top up it is quiet enough to be a passable coupe on the highway.  The new i-drive system is good, with a useful GPS, and the enhanced sound is very powerful although a $400 ipod adaptor is beyond ridiculous.  You’d think BMW would make that charge somewhat more realistic now that we are out of the early century, but apparently every sucker still orders it at full price.  however everything in the front looks and feels good, and fits snugly.

Of course, BMW M series have always been known for their handling, and this model is no different.  While a bit more flex is noticable from the coupe, this car can still go around corners like a bat out of hell.  Most cars loose out in the twisties against the new M3, with the exception of the GT-R and some sort of go-kart like the Elise.  You can order an M3 for sub-$68,000 base price and get a decked out model available around $79,000 plus add $3,295 for the BMW Maintenance program extension (worth it) and if you dont want a manual (you dont?!?!?) add another $3,000 for the double-clutch trans.  I’d say it’s worth it if you have that sort of money.  The versitility of a hard top is worth a hefty premium in my book, and I would take this cv over the coupe, and potentially even over a GT-R.

2009 Lotus Elise Purist

Automotive — Sidiov @ May 16, 2009

Lotus has released the Elise “Purist Edition”, a “low cost” version of the fun roadster.  Low cost meaning $43,995, which is actually only $3,500 less than a base model Elise.  However, this edition comes with a lot of features included in the price, and a few removals.  The Sport pack is included in this price, as well as the Trouing pack sans iPod interface, and transmission and door insert leather coverings.  A MOMO steering wheel, 4 speaker CD/mp3 player, A/C, leather seats, a fully independent suspension system, Brembo braking systems, 175/55-16 front and 225/45-17 rear tires round out the setup on this pocket rocket.
It looks like it wont be possible to order options on this model, so no hardtop for you.  No LSD either, although that is hardly necessary on an Elise. Colors are also limited to only red, white and yellow at this time.

All in all its an awesome toy car, at a great price, a steal compared to the normal base model Elise.  I wish they had been able to make the number a nice $39,999 however.  I think a sub-40s Elise would have rocked the mid life crises bunch right in the junk.

2010 Ford Mustang

Automotive — Sidiov @ April 11, 2009

The Mustang has been a pretty powerful sales performer for Ford since the mid 60’s.  It is the iconic symbol that created the term “pony car.”  Apart from a few bad eras, most of the cars have been a good bang for the buck deal for anyone wanting some power and flair, although quite honestly, in my opinion, the Mustang always quickly outlives it’s interest, as 5 days after the new model releases I see 85,000 of them on California roads and get sick of them.

Mustang has never departed, and has maintained a comfortable position of authority in the cheap muscle car area. However, with the new Dodge Challenger and Chevy Camaro being released, the Mustang is going to have to step it up a notch to stay ahead of the pack.  Unfortunatley, it does not do that in either the power or comfort department.

The new model is quieter and handles more crisply on the roads than the outgoing model, but the Camaro feels a bit more solid on the ground, and frankly, it doesn’t feel like that much of an upgrade.  The V8 GT model now offers functional ram-air induction and to offset some of the new quieter ride, Ford engineers have added a “sound induction tube” that sends some of the engine resonance back into the cabin during acceleration.  The V8 itself adds a few horsepowers to 315 and 325tq.  This keeps the V6 Camaro away, but not the monster SS.  The V6 is still way underpowered at only 210hp and 240 tq.

The interior of the new Mustang has been streamlined a bit, and actually looks pretty good.  A one peice, soft touch dash looks pretty classy and the center stack is organized in a much better way now.  The bucket seats in the front are also much more comfortable and supportive than the outgoing trim.  As in most cars there are a bunch of useless options like nav that I wont bother mentioning this time.

The exterior of the freshened Mustang looks pretty good now.  It looks far classier than the current retro changeover and gives the appearence of being pricier than it is.  Of course, after 8 million of these flood the roads next summer it will start to look like a rotten pumpkin.  But for the price, this will be one tough coupe and convertible to beat.  The base model starts around $22,000, and a fully loaded GT will come in at around $32,000 with a convertible adding a $5,000 premium across the line.

In all actuality if you want a coupe, the Camaro is going to be more fun and more comfortable, and probably retain its value and appeal longer than the Mustang.  But either way, its good if you care about power and don’t have much money to spend. (In which case, why are you looking at new cars?!?!)

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