We reviewed the BMW M3 Coupe with a manual transmission and the full load of cabin tech back in April, but we couldn't pass up the opportunity to test out another one, this time the 2008 BMW M3 Convertible with the new double-clutch transmission. Although our convertible M3 lacked the cabin tech options, not even having the programmable M button on the steering wheel, it still proved a remarkable car to drive with all the performance capabilities of the loaded version. And we didn't think it possible to improve on the M3's performance, but the double-clutch transmission … Read more
Except for its price, the 2008 BMW 128i Convertible may be the least BMW-like car from the automaker. Oh, it does have all the cutting-edge tech found in BMW's other models, including a pop-up LCD that is surprisingly immune to glare. But where its turbo-charged brother, the 135i, feels glued to the road, the 128i Convertible's wheels seem to stretch away from the car in the corners. And where the 135i leaps forward with smooth and hard acceleration, the 128i Convertible's power delivery feels uneven.
The 2008 Acura MDX remains largely unchanged from the 2007 model, when we reviewed the then-new redesign and found it chock-full of tech options inherited from Acura's sedans, and with improved handling courtesy of similarly upgraded four-wheel-drive management. Back in 2006, the first-generation MDX had some unfinished first-generation electronics, but nonetheless impressed us with the breadth of its tech offerings.
Some minor feature additions are present on the 2008 model, which improve the overall tech experience, and its solid driving dynamics are still intact. But other luxury SUVs offer better performance, and we're ready to see Acura's … Read more
Maybe we've been driving too many very nice cars lately, but the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL550 didn't excite us much when it arrived in the garage. It's hard to follow acts like the Maserati GranTurismo and the BMW M6, and we tend to like shorter, more nimble sports cars. But the SL550 won us over with its handling on winding mountain roads and its striking looks with the sun blazing overhead and a nice ocean-scape in the background.
We were also prepared to be disappointed in the car's cabin electronics when we saw the old-style Mercedes-Benz interface, … Read more
Let's face it: the Honda Pilot has always looked like a brick on wheels. The new-for-2009 Pilot, with its CR-V-inspired grille, looks even worse. It doesn't get much better on the inside, with a dash dominated by cheap plastics and questionable material choices. As much as we dislike the Pilot's aesthetics, we can say that the SUV feels solid, as though it were machined out of a solid piece of metal. The ride is supple without being floaty, and the cabin is among the quietest in its class.
After spending time with the top-of-the-line 2008 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring, we found much that we liked; however, we also found almost every positive thing we had to say about the SUV came with a caveat.
Inside, the CX-9's leather seats and ambient lighting give the appearance of luxury, but the materials feel cheap compared with a true luxury vehicle. The spec sheet touts an impressive amount of cabin tech, but the components don't work well together, creating a confusing experience. Overall, we formed a positive impression of the CX-9, but the vehicle lacks the final bit of … Read more
As in other current M models from BMW, the 2008 BMW M6 is afflicted with a dual personality. It masquerades as a big luxury coupe around town, but when the roads open up, the M6 can transform into a superhero. At a push of the M button on the steering wheel, the suspension tightens and the throttle response becomes more acute. Where a superhero might where a cape, the M6 gets a carbon fiber roof, lowering its center of gravity. But while the big, long coupe shows a lot of brawn in its styling, the high trunk lid makes it … Read more
Mercedes-Benz's smallest U.S. sedan, the C-class, continues to impress us, this time with the sport-tuned 2009 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG version. We previously reviewed the C300, and found that its updated electronics put to shame the tech in more expensive models from Mercedes-Benz. With the AMG version we have a car that competes with the BMW M3, not only in cabin tech, but in sheer performance and the exhilarating drive it offers.
The cabin electronics in the C63 are the same as in the C300, with the latest version of Mercedes-Benz's navigation and phone system. The sound produced … Read more
Driving the 2008 Maserati GranTurismo is like dating an Italian supermodel: her beauty gets you a lot of attention in public and being with her just makes you feel good. Actually, having never even met an Italian supermodel, we're going with a stereotype here, but in many ways the graceful Pininfarina-designed GranTurismo fits it. Her mouth might be a little big and toothy, but that's where we've pushed the comparison too far. The big toothy grille on the car looks great, but wouldn't work so well on a person.
As for the cabin electronics, our supermodel'… Read more
Bang & Olufsen, a provider of high-quality audio and video products, has signed an agreement with Mercedes-Benz Cars to develop a premium sound system for Mercedes' AMG performance division. This would make Mercedes AMG the third major automaker, behind Audi and Aston Martin, to partner with the audio components provider.
A few weeks ago, we saw (or rather, heard) what Bang & Olufsen can bring to a vehicle's audio experience when we test drove the Audi A8 L W12. We also heard the kind of sounds Mercedes AMG is making under the hood of its vehicles when we judged … Read more