Archive for the ‘NYC’ Category
By HOLLY REICH
Special to Bumper to Bumper
People always ask me what my favorite car is. And I always answer tactfully, “Whatever I am driving this week.” If pushed, I concede to the one vehicle I’d have in Manhattan, the MINI S.
Why? It will park anywhere, gets great gas mileage and has enough power to move ahead of traffic on the New Jersey turnpike. And I’m taken by the MINI’s retro look.
My latest MINI experience was driving the 2013 MINI S hardtop (4 seats and 2 doors) in pepper white paint with green bonnet stripes, carbon black checkered cloth seats, a leather wheel, 16” black wheels, a rear spoiler and a Harman/Kardon sound system.
Our destination: Long Beach Island, New Jersey. “The Jersey Shore.”
The drive: The S stands for supercharge and the MINI S packs plenty of power for a little guy. At its heart is a 1.6-liter turbo-charged engine (181 hp and 177 pound ft. of torque) with a 0-60 of 6.7 seconds for the automatic version. One can either use the sport mode or Formula 1 inspired paddle shifters for a stiffer drive. Basically, it was difficult keeping this baby to the speed limit on the New Jersey Turnpike.
All said—the steering, brakes and drive are responsive and flexible. The only drawback —the MINI is bumpy on cranky city streets. But sex appeal wins over all. The mpg for our automatic was 26-city/34 highway.
The look: The 2013 MINI S stays true to its original 50’s form with a happy face flanked by large circular headlights, a contrasting roof and go-kart proportions with wheels placed at the four corners.
Inside: The cabin centerpiece is a huge speedometer—the MINI trademark— where the 6.5-inch infotainment display is located. Between the two front sport seats there are two large sized cup holders and a streamlined center covered compartment to hold cell phones and keys. Bluetooth, USB and an iPod adapter come standard.
What I love about the MINI is the deco-inspired interior – the way that the outside paint repeats on the inside, the comforting round shapes of the dials, the toggle switches and adjustable vent controls. The front has plenty of room for adults; the six way adjustable seats get you in the perfect position for driving. The anatomically correct headrests took some getting used to, but I got the knack of it quickly and my neck felt so comfortable. As for the back seat—OK, you can get a big person to sit there for a short bit but it would be the best fit for mini kids.
Talking about space: So how much stuff can one actually get into a 4 person MINI? The answer is plenty. With the back seats flipped down (24 cubic feet) we easily fit a bike, a couple of soft suitcases and a few bags of wine and groceries. With the seats up you have 5.7 cubic feet.
Options: MINI can be configured in a variety of materials that include natural woods, hand-sewn leathers, chrome surrounds and ambient illumination. There are over 10 million potential customization combos, with 100’s of accessories so customers can trick out their wheels in numerous fashions.
Honorable mentions: This summer MINI USA partnered with Miles Ahead to launch the MINI Performance Motoring School at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Miles Ahead is the only driving school in the 104-year history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway licensed to conduct driver training on its grounds. The school consists of performance driving instruction from internationally accomplished professional race car driver, and offers the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a 2013 high-performance MINI John Cooper Works Hardtop.
For more details about the MINI Performance Motoring School or to reserve a spot in one of the summer sessions, go to the Miles Ahead website at www.BeMilesAhead.net.
Vehicle pricing starts at $23,300. Our version cost $29,000 including destination.
Bottom line: A small footprint with lots of sparkle!
A NYC test drive in the 2013 Malibu Turbo
A recent drive in Manhattan in a Hyundai Sonata Hybrid with my buddy Sekou. At SimplyRides.com!
By HOLLY REICH
Special to Bumper to Bumper
In 2007, the first smart electric drive pilot project used 100 cars that were tested in downtown London. It was the perfect place to try out this miniature vehicle. London has tons of traffic, limited parking, lots of noise and pollution. The pilot cars were equipped with high-temperature sodium-nickel-chloride batteries that work at about 600°F degrees, providing a range of about 60 miles. The batteries required pre-heating, and were housed in insulated cases similar to large double-wall thermos bottles.
The next generation, which started in 2009, expanded to 2,000 cars in 18 markets around the world. That included 250 electric drive vehicles for the United States. These cars used lithium-ion batteries, which were more efficient and operated at normal temperatures, with a range of about 63 miles on a full charge.
For 2013 the game has changed—considerably! While the smart has stayed the same size and shape (five feet tall and wide and a smidgen under nine feet long) the view has improved. The coupe has an expansive panoramic see-through panel of high-strength polycarbonate; the cabriolet has an automatic soft top that can be opened to any position and at any speed. Plus, the cabriolet has a heated glass rear window.
The third generation smart electric drive’s 55-kilowatt electric motor provides 35 kilowatts of continuous power (130 Nm of torque). Essentially, it boils down to this: the power provides acceleration from zero to 60 mph in less than 12 seconds, and a top speed of more than 78 mph. In other words it zooms…but quietly!
And charging is a no-brainer. The electric smart can be charged from any 110-volt household wall socket with the provided standard cable or a 240-volt socket (like the ones used for electric clothes dryers and kitchen ranges). Charging time can run as little as 3 ½ hours to charge from 20 to 80 percent and six hours to reach full charge from a depleted battery.
As for the cabin, because of its impressive headroom, sloping windshield, floating dash and open roof, even people well over six feet don’t feel cramped. Yes, it’s true! I drove with a tall Texan a few years back and he fit just fine.
There’s an offering of over 6,000 combos for customizing the smart with everything from personalized wraps and brilliant paint choices to AMG cladding or bespoke tailored interiors.
As to be expected, the smart electric drive is techno savvy. The vehicle can communicate with the smart vehicle homepage whenever the car is being charged. Real-time data provides information to owners about usage patterns, power draw and vehicle performance.
There is also a smart phone app that gives the user charging information, charge time remaining and expected completion time. When you are driving, the app’s map also highlights nearby charging connections with estimated distance.
Mercedes-Benz took over smart in July of 2011 and has added new muscle to the marketing campaigns. Expect to see more quirky ads on everything from twitter to TV. More importantly, it’s working. Tracey Matura, smart General Manager, explained, “The company has been riding high since last year. Sales have increased 120% month over month, and 95% year to date.”
And as for those rumors of a smartforfour? Matura quipped, “Stay tuned!”
PRICING: The 2013 smart electric drive will retail at $25,000. The cabriolet model will retail at $28,000 when both vehicles hit the U.S. market in the spring of 2013.
Customers may also be eligible for federal tax credits (which run up to $7,500) or state/local tax credits, further reducing the cost. Plus, some states offer a 50% parking discount.
~ holly reich
BMW i Ventures moves to NYC to create an incubator for new ideas in urban mobility