Competition is the name of the game for 2014.
by James T. Hurst
The 2014 model year is here, and new auto sales are surging from where they were a few years ago. Today, the auto industry offers more choices—from electric luxury coupes and hybrid sedans to diesel four wheel drive and utilitarian trucks. Consumers have more choices and options to fit a variety of lifestyles and economic situations. Here are a few choices that caught our eyes.
BMW has officially moved into the realm of electric vehicles (EV) with the release of the first-ever electric BMWi. This EV has an extremely strong yet lightweight Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) body, which is made of renewable materials. The electric motor delivers 170hp with a torque of 184 lb.-ft., producing 0–60 mph in approximately 7.0 seconds. In the standard yet sporty Comfort mode, the range of the BMWi is 80–100 electric miles on a single charge, depending on individual driving style, traffic conditions, and topographical features of your route. The range can be extended by up to 12 percent if the Eco PRO mode is selected. In addition, the best range would be achieved in the Eco PRO+ mode, which (compared to the Comfort mode) may increase the range by up to 24 percent. The BMWi uses a lithium-ion high-voltage battery that can be fully charged in approximately three hours.
Cadillac introduces the ELR Coupe for 2014, which is a feast for the eyes. Engineered to enhance aerodynamics, the ELR starts with sloping vertical headlights and graceful long arches leading to incredible jeweled tail lamps. The all-new ELR Coupe features an advanced electric drive system that uses an on-board generator powered by gas to charge the drive system. The electric drive system provides instant torque with smooth, shiftless acceleration of the electric drive. This is not your grandparents’ Cadillac, and I promise you’ve never seen such a sexy electric drive.
Chevrolet re-introduces the classic V-8 rear-drive sedan for 2014 in the form of the Chevrolet SS, built in Elizabeth, South Australia. Power comes from a 6.2 liter, L83 V-8 producing 415 hp and 415 lb.-ft. of torque. The Chevrolet SS accelerates from 0–60 in approximately 5.0 seconds through a six-speed transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddles for manual shifting. The SS is loaded with standard features and only has two options—the sunroof and a full-size spare. This is a welcome return to the American high-performance sedan.
Porsche introduces a new compact crossover known as the Macan, which is the Indonesian word for tiger. The vehicle shares a platform with the Audi Q5. It will be available in two versions, S and Turbo, both powered by twin-turbocharged engines paired to a seven-speed automated manual transmission with paddle shifters. The Macan S is the base model offering a 3.0 liter V6, generating 340 hp and 339 lb.-ft. of torque. The Turbo ups this to a 3.6 liter, 400 hp V6 and 406 lb.-ft. of torque. The Porsche Macan is designed to fill a niche for a small, performance-based luxury crossover vehicle.
Kia introduces a new rear-drive K900 flagship for 2014. This model is targeted at the full-size luxury sedan market, which often costs upwards of $25,000 more while the K900 costs thousands less. The K900 comes standard with a 311 hp 3.8 liter V6, but may be ordered with 420 hp 5.0 liter V8. The interior is designed to compete with the large array of luxury sedans in the market, offering all the amenities that buyers currently expect. Prices start at about $50,000 for V6 power and go to $65,000 for the V8-powered version.
If you are thinking about a great fun-to-drive, roof up or down convertible with a reasonable price and value, then the 2014 Mini Cooper S Convertible is your choice. The Cooper S comes with a turbo-charged 1.6 liter that will do 0–60 mph in 7.3 seconds. Options vary from custom graphics and wheels, performance parts, carbon fiber dashboard to an upgraded stereo system, HD radio and navigation system. The Mini Cooper S starts at $28,150 and offers a firm ride in combination with nicely weighted steering to make your trip to Galveston even more fun.