2016 BMW M6 Coupe
The Ultimate Gentleperson’s Express
You don’t have to be an enthusiast to know the BMW M6 Coupe is fast. I mean, look at it- that slinky shape, huge wheels and ginormous brakes peeking out from behind suggest speed at every angle. A glance at the spec sheet shows it’s putting out an honest-to-goodness 600 horsepower and despite a prodigious curb weight, this thing really moves.
Get into the throttle hard in first and second gears and hold on as the M6 rockets forward in a way that just feels obscene for such a big, heavy car. You think, “Well, this is certainly fast.” The ferocity in which this Competition Package equipped (more on that later) example accelerates won’t really surprise you that much until you shift to third and you realize that the M6 is still blitzing the horizon with the same penchant for velocity as it did in the first two gears. Ditto the same result in fourth gear and beyond and unless you’re on a race track with a long straightaway or have access to an airport runway, you’ll be travelling at a rate of speed that is WAY too fast for street driving. That’s when it dawns on you just what kind of performance this is thing capable of. The 4.4 litre, twin turbo V8 is a tantalizing engine, able to punt you forward in almost violent fashion and equally at home pootling around town.
PROS: Breathtakingly fast, sumptuous interior, capable of some heroic moves for such a big car.
If you can’t imagine going anywhere without taking your dog, be sure to do what it takes to make the trip safer and more pleasant for your pet.
Allowing your dog to sit on your lap, poke its head out the window or meander around the vehicle while you’re driving simply won’t cut it. The potential dangers — not to mention the possible distracted driving charges — mean that it’s important to exercise good judgement.
“The laws right across North America are tightening down severely on distracted driving,” said Dr. Chip Coombs, chief veterinary officer for Pets Plus Us. “The police will hand out tickets to a driver who is distracted by a dog in the car….I’ve seen numerous times where a dog is sitting on the driver’s lap with its head out the window, and that would be a very significant ticket.”
According to Dr. Coombs, there are lots of mistakes that some drivers make when taking their dogs on trips, but fortunately it is possible to keep man’s or woman’s best friend safe and sound — with little or no stress to either you or your pet — by simply keeping a few things in mind.
2015 BMW 228i xDrive Cabriolet
Dropping the top on BMW’s playful 2 series
Let’s make one thing clear straight away: convertibles don’t make good sports cars. Yes, you can buy Ferraris, Porsches and Lamborghinis in convertible form and they hardly suffer any penalty in terms of sharpness and precision, but when you pony up north of $200,000 for a car you’re darn tootin’ you should have your cake and eat it too. The fact remains that removing a major structural component like a roof has a detrimental effect on handling and feel. Even cars that have been designed from the outset to become drop tops have to deal with some degree of compromise, and the BMW 228i Cabriolet you see here is not immune to this affliction.
We’ve sampled the 2-series in various iterations and have consistently come away with the prevailing feeling that it’s the sweetheart of the entire BMW product lineup. It’s perfectly sized and similar in dimensions to the E46 versions of yesterday, and comes closest to offering access to the lush garden of dynamic delights BMW used to be so famous for.
PROS: Excellent chassis, less-is-more powertrain, convertible top lowers quickly and doesn’t leave you without space to put your stuff.
2015 BMW X6 xDrive50i
Let’s just not mention the styling, OK?
I doubt there has ever been a Road Test where the author didn’t dwell on the BMW X6’s styling. Whether or not they find it painfully awkward, (most of them) or they are smitten by it (a vast minority) doesn’t matter, because BMW has never determined if a product is a home run over the buzz generated by jaded auto journalists but rather how much cash they send into the company coffers. By that measure, the X6 is a smashing success.
Just ask the 897 Canadian households who bought an X6 last year, or the nearly 250,000 worldwide that have been sold since the cars introduction in 2009. Surely that many people can’t have been blinded to the compromises the X6 demands you live with every day because clearly, they aren’t put off by the aesthetics. I admit that it’s hard for me to wrap my head around the concept of a vehicle based on the popular X5 that is more expensive, and has less cargo space and poorer outward visibility. If you think this is a short lived phenomenon, think again; Mercedes Benz have recently announced they are bringing a GLC Coupe based on the brisk selling former ML class that is a dead ringer for BMW’s X6. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, BMW had better be blushing a deep shade of red. It should surprise exactly no one that Audi has recently thrown its hat into the mix with its own take on the Armadillo inspired SAV, rumoured to be called the Q6.
PROS: Impeccable engine, intelligent transmission, opulent interior.
2015 BMW X5M and X6M Road Test
We test a pair of BMW Super ‘utes.
Photo by Better Car.
In the mid-1980’s, the lights remained on well into the night at BMW’s Munich headquarters. More specifically, the guys and gals who worked in the racing inspired high-performance skunkworks (in what would later become the M sub-brand’s mother ship) were burning the candle at both ends. The reason? They were honing the design of one of the most prolific sports cars of all time- the E30 BMW M3. Birthdays were missed and school recital attendances were cancelled so that each chassis bit could be harmoniously integrated with one another, ensuring a special 4-cylinder engine and bespoke suspension delivered the goods and that basically created a new genre in the process.
Imagine Doc Brown lent you his DeLorean and back in time you went to see this amazing process unfold; that’d be pretty cool, wouldn’t it? If you wanted to really mess with both the space/time continuum as well as those dedicated engineers minds, drop a little tidbit in your conversation about BMW of the Future’s decision to build SUV’s (er, SAV for Sports Activity Vehicle in Bimmer parlance) about a decade into the future. Before any jaws can be lifted off the floor as a result of this bombshell, go ahead and tell them there will be an M version of the vehicle. Instead of the exchange of incredulous looks, you might get treated to an outburst of raucous laughter. Yet here we are in 2015 with what is now the second generation of these M-massaged ‘utes.
PROS: Insane power, incredibly high limits, everyday useability.
The Other Ones: We Test Ford’s V6 and EcoBoost Mustangs
Why should the V8 hog the spotlight?
Unless you’ve been living off the grid in the middle of nowhere, you have in some way come into contact with the current Sixth Generation Mustang. It doesn’t matter if it was hearing a radio ad, reading coverage online or receiving information via social media; Ford made plenty sure that every corner of the globe where the Mustang is sold would hear about it.
Even though it’s been on sale for a while, a large share of the attention still gets lavished on the V8 powered GT model, meant to placate a large group (including your author) who snobbishly maintain that a ‘real’ Mustang can only be powered by a big engine coupled to a manual gearbox.
Ford engineers know that not every Mustang shopper ends up with range-topping power plant and wisely ignored the purist riff-raff, deciding to offer two alternative engine choices to compliment the howling Coyote V8. We get a V6 that basically carries over from the previous model, and an all-new, turbocharged four cylinder known as the Ecoboost. By now Ford’s massive promotional efforts ensure that you know these flavours of Mustang inside and out where the spec sheet is concerned, but what it’s like to live with them? Read on to find out our impressions after spending a week in each.
Michael Palmer, his wife and their three children
With close to 900,000 kilometres of roadway, Canada offers an abundance of options for people who love nothing more than to get behind the steering wheel for some adventure.
As the self-appointed CEO of family travel and fun for his household, Michael Palmer (no relation) has the road trip routine down pat. Palmer, in fact, went on a 17,000-km, 63-day road trip two summers ago with his wife and their three young children, and tales of their adventures could, quite literally, fill a book. So it’s not at all surprising that Palmer, a Calgarian who works in the oil and gas industry, is the author of No Tranquilizers! 17,000 kms, 63 Days, 3 Kids, 1 Van, a book that is due out in early 2016. Keep reading…
2015 Ford C-Max Hybrid SEL
Still the biggest threat to Prius domination.
This isn’t our first go-around in Ford’s C-Max Hybrid- we had one in the Carpages Garage a few years ago shortly after it made its Canadian debut. Since then, not much has changed. It’s still based on the sprightly Focus platform, it still packs the same hybrid drivetrain and it still represents a compelling alternative to the Toyota Prius. Folks who need more space than your typical compact but still require a hybrid setup seem to have noticed the many virtues of the C-Max- as of 2014, Ford had moved 1,411 C-Max units with Toyota holding down a slim lead with 1,819 Prii. That the Ford has closed a considerable gap between itself and the hybrid that started it all in a few short years is not something to be taken lightly.
PROS: Excellent to drive, terrific value, roomy and well-equipped.
CONS: Droning CVT transmission, MyFord Touch, can be difficult to attain lofty fuel consumption claims.
2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE Luxury
Disco makes a comeback.
It’s a universally accepted truth among automotive marketing types that it is best not to associate anything so profoundly negative with your product, especially if you plan on reviving a nameplate from the past whose mere mention causes people to wrinkle their noses in disgust. So it’s probably a safe assumption that Chevrolet won’t be reviving the Vega nameplate anytime soon, and Ford will probably elect not to breathe new life into the Pinto brand. With that in mind, Land Rover is defying convention and bringing back the Discovery name for another go around. A decade has elapsed since the Discovery was sold here, and Land Rover is betting that is enough time to erase memories of deplorable reliability; so much so that a few owners were choosing horses instead for their transportation needs- not as glamorous or comfortable, but certainly more reliable.
Gross hyperbole notwithstanding, the old Discovery was such a fragile vehicle that it ushered in a new naming era for Land Rovers- think LR2 (nee Freelander) and LR3/LR4 (Discovery.)
How does this experiment in marketing counter-thinking fare? Like any sequel, it improves on the original in many ways but falls short in others.
PROS: Attractive styling, cosseting ride, Land Rover capability.
2015 Ford Fiesta ST
Ford’s little pocket-rocket is a huge delight.
I took Ford’s Fiesta ST to a local Cars and Coffee event recently and something unexpected took place- amongst a gaggle of Porsche 911’s, AMG tuned Mercedes Benz and Corvettes the little Fiesta garnered a lot of attention. Yes, parked amongst a who’s-who of automotive titans the diminutive Feista ST drew an impressive crowd. You might think that would be because of the can’t-miss Molten Orange paint ($400) with matching trim inside, all topped off with accompanying racing stripes ($495). Extroverted add-ons notwithstanding, the real reason it stole the show is because of what it can do.
Those not familiar with the Fiesta ST should know it starts out life as Ford’s humble but inspiring econobox. We’ve driven the least spicy version powered by a 1.0 litre 3-cylinder, and even that one is a hoot in its own way. For full-on ST duty, Ford Performance adds a bunch of habaneros to the recipe- an ST specific engine, revamped suspension and upgrades inside and out are a comprehensive summary of what happens to the Fiesta when it goes under the knife. When it rolls off the assembly line, it’s suitably beefed up and looks seriously more badass than pedestrian Fiestas.
PROS: Enthralling to drive in any situation, frugal when you want it to be, by far and away the most fun you can have for less than $30K.