Posts Tagged BMW

2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost

The new Rolls-Royce Ghost combines latest technology and Rolls-Royce’s signature design trend. The Rolls-Royce is known for its performance and craftsmanship in automobile industry and a brand for the rich and famous. The Ghost was launched after Rolls-Royce’s success with the phantom, it is smaller, more powerful and more affordable ultra-luxury sedan. The Ghost is 17.1 inches shorter, 3.3 inches lower and 1.6 inches narrower than the Rolls-Royce Phantom. Each of the Ghosts are custom made according to the buyers choice, each ghost (mostly hand made) takes 20 days to built.

The Ghost share about 20 percent of its components with BMW‘s 7-Series, but they are totally different car when it comes to design and luxury. Components such as suspension anti-roll stabilization, dynamic and cornering brake control, dynamic stability and traction control systems have all been adapted, redesigned or tuned to work seamlessly with the powerful Ghost.

List of features in Rolls-Royce Ghost is unmatchable which includes a very detailed and long list of custom options like Silver Satin finish for the aluminum hood, larger 20-inch alloy wheels — chromed or not — and a camera system etc.

Optional driving and safety systems include a clear and effective heads-up display, a lane-departure warning system, an infrared Night Vision camera, high-beam assistance that automatically dips the bright xenon lights for oncoming traffic and an active cruise-control system.

Category › Car Reviews

Title › 2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost

The Rolls-Royce Ghost is powered by a 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12 engine with direct injection that produces 563 horsepower and 575 lb-ft of torque. This new engine is derived from the 6.0-liter V12 found in the 7-Series but uses larger pistons from the 4.4-liter V8 to bring displacement up by 0.6 liter. This 6.6-liter engine is paired with a new, slick-shifting 8-speed automatic gearbox. It can accelerates from zero to sixty in just 4.8 seconds and can reach up-to maximum speed of 155 mph. Fuel-economy is around 20mpg combined.

Being a super-luxury car the Rolls-Royce Ghost it provides lots of space and the ultimate comfort. Both rows of seats are cushy and provides good lateral support. The multi-way adjustable seates (seats adjustments are stored in memory) adds to the comfort. The most recognizable interior feature shared with BMW 7-Series is the clear control screen at the center of the instrument panel which displays menus arranged according to Rolls-Royce’s interpretation of BMW’s latest iDrive system.

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2011 BMW 5-Series

The BMW 5-Series is a four door five passenger mid-size premium performance luxury sport sedan, and wagon loaded with technology. Fifth generation of the BMW 5 series has been one of the best automobile available in terms of luxury, performance and reliability. The BMW 5 Trim-levels are grouped as ‘Sedan’ and ‘gran turismo’.

The BMW 5 series base 528i features a 3.0-liter engine producing 230horsepower and 230lb-ft of torque. The 535i gets a turbocharged 3.0liter inline-6 producing 300 horsepower and 300lb-ft of torque. The 550i comes eqquipped with a 4.4liter twin-turbo V8 that producing 400hp and 450lb-ft of torque. Each model comes standard with rear-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission. An eight-speed automatic is optional. BMW xDrive all-wheel drive is optional on the 535i and 550i.


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The 5 Series is equipped with standard features that include 12-speaker CD audio system with HD radio, dual-zone automatic climate control, the iDrive control interface, a power tilt-telescoping steering wheel, a sunroof, power seats and Bluetooth. Upgrade options include night-vision camera, active cruise control, 14-way front seats, parking sensors, navigation, an automatic parallel parking system, ventilated front seats and adaptive xenon headlights.

Standard safety equipment in BMW 5 series includes front-seat side airbags, stability and traction control, night-vision system, antilock disc brakes, blind-spot monitor, lane-departure warning system, side curtain airbags, active front head restraints and the BMW Assist emergency communications system. When equipped with active cruise control, the 5 Series also comes with a pre-collision warning system.

Category › Car Reviews

Title › 2011 BMW 5-Series

Inside the cabin BMW 5 Series is very comfortable for drive and front passenger with good amount of head and leg room. The backseats are also specious and cofortable for two adults. The adjustability of the seats adds to the comfort. The overall look of the dash is clean and eliminated with standard iDrive interface. The trunk can hold upto 14 cubic feet of load, which is decent enough for a sedan.

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2010 MINI Clubman

Like its counterparts at MINI, the Clubman is offered in the now-familiar Cooper and Cooper S trims.

2010 mini clubman 2010 mini clubman

2010 mini clubman

The primary difference between the two is that the former is powered by a naturally-aspirated 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine, while the S gets a turbocharged version. The most fundamental difference between the Clubman and other MINI models is a 9.45-inch gain in overall body length, on a wheelbase stretched 3.15 inches. The increase creates a substantial improvement in rear legroom, while the longer body and near-square shape in the back yield a larger cargo bay.

The Cooper S engine produces 172 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque. The standard Overboost mode pushes the torque peak to 192 lb-ft briefly under full acceleration. Short-shifting made city driving much more pleasant.


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The Cooper Clubman produces 118 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 114 lb-ft of torque at 4250 rpm. The milder Cooper also does better at the pump, with EPA city/hwy ratings of 28/37 mpg, while the Cooper S nets 26/34 mpg. Both engines require premium fuel. The manual box is quick, slick and precise, aided by a light clutch pedal with nicely progressive engagement.

The bucket seats in the Cooper are almost a match in overall support for the sport seats in the Cooper S.

Category › Car Reviews

Title › 2010 MINI Clubman

Dashboard design is stylish, with its gigantic, center-mounted speedometer and myriad toggle switches. Controls for the audio and cruise control, mounted on a nicely shaped and textured sport steering wheel, are superbly effective on both models.

Clubman models provides much better legroom, the rear seats are easier to access. When you need more space, you can flip down both seatbacks. Clubman models provide equal lateral crash resistance on both sides of the car. The Clubman shares the usual complement of airbags – two frontal, two mounted on the sides of the front seats and a pair of curtain airbags that extend farther back than in hatchback models.

2010 mini clubman

2010 mini clubman

The new MINI is all about perfectly unique styling, unmistakable driving fun and slick design. Solid and safe for such small cars, the new Clubman versions definitely have their place in the MINI line. The rear seat is much more useful and the additional cargo volume will come in handy.

2010 mini clubman

2010 mini clubman

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2011 BMW 3-Series

BMW fans can only be thankful that BMW didn’t botch the styling of its new, early 2006 3-Series sedan by

2011 bmw 3 series 2011 bmw 3 series

2011 bmw 3 series

tacking on a bulky rear end and adding bizarre styling touches that it has given new-generation models in the past few years. The compact, iconic 3-Series 4-door replaces the 1999-2005 version. The 3-Series long has been the automaker’s top seller


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and is widely considered the standard for small sporty sedans, although models such as the new Audi A3 are a definite threat.

The long-awaited new sedan is the fifth generation 3-Series model. Some folks won’t be jazzed by its heftier appearance, but it’s faster, larger and roomier, with more standard features and prices that remain reasonable.

The heritage of the 3-Series goes back to the small, sporty 1600 and 2002 four-seaters that arrived herein the late 1960s. The first 3-Series was sent to America in 1977, and when it comes to sportiness or prestige, nothing has been able to touch a 3-Series sedan.

The 3-Series currently is sold only as a rear-wheel-drive sedan. A station wagon version arrives this fall with all-wheel drive—a feature that also will be offered for the sedan. Coupe and convertible 3-Series versions debut next year as 2007 models and carry their current design until then.

Category › Car Reviews

Title › 2011 BMW 3-Series

A sizzling hot rod M3 version will be offered in 2007.

The new 3-Series sedan technically remains a compact car, although it’s 2.2 inches longer, 3 inches wider and nearly an inch taller, with a wider track and a wheelbase increased by 1.4 inches.

The redesigned model is more tightly built than its predecessor, which was pretty good in that regard. The main benefit of the 2006 up sizing is more rear leg room. Two tall adults fit comfortably in back, which was never the case with earlier 3-Series cars. However, the center of the rear seat is stiff, so it’s best to fold down the center rear armrest and use the cup-holders that pop from its leading edge.

2011 bmw 3 series Road Test

2011 bmw 3 series

The front seat area offers decent room for tall occupants, but there isn’t much space to spare up there. Front doors have storage pockets, but the glove compartment is a joke and the center console cargo bin doesn’t hold much.

The new sedan is up to 88 pounds heavier, but horsepower of its butter-smooth new 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine has been upped from 184 to 215 in the base $30,300 trim level and from 225 to 255 in the higher-line 330i version, which lists at $36,300. The new sedan is fast with either engine, which delivers an estimated 20-21 mpg in the city and 29-30 on the highway.

For instance, starting my test car’s engine called for inserting a small plastic fob in a dashboard slot and pushing a button to start the engine. I also had to push the button to stop the engine and then pull out the fob.

2011 bmw 3 series Review

2011 bmw 3 series

Why not just start and stop the engine by turning a regular ignition key? If memory serves, you started the engines of really old Fords with a dashboard button. The standard transmission is a slick 6-speed manual, which allows the most driving fun—or at least the most driving involvement.

The new car has nearly perfect 50-50 weight distribution and was a kick to drive even without the manual gearbox. All that thanks to a superb chassis and BMW’s legendary intuitive steering which was rather heavy, but not objectionably so. The ride occasionally got choppy even on fairly smooth freeways, despite the improved standard suspension. It might have been worse with the Sport Package’s firmer suspension and wider tires, which have narrower sidewalls that don’t absorb road shocks very well.

BMW’s infamous, overly complicated iDrive system is too much of a pain to use when driving. The new 3-Series sedan is clearly better than its predecessor. It continues to provide one of the best small sedan driving experiences, but no longer has a stranglehold on the small sports sedan market.

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2011 Audi A4

The release of the A4 in 1996 marked an important change for Audi. Better-looking and sportier than the Audi 90

2011 audi a4 2011 audi a4

2011 audi a4

it replaced, the A4 was a worthy competitor for the BMW 3-Series. More importantly, it began to draw a larger audience for what had been a struggling brand. For 2009, Audi redesigns the A4, making it larger, improving balance and


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offering an efficient new engine. The more appealing A4 will almost certainly continue to draw even more customers to Audi.

Standard equipment on 2.0T trims includes leather upholstery, automatic climate control, a tilt/telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, cruise control, the usual power accessories, an 8-way power front seat, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, a sunroof, an 180-watt AM/FM/stereo with 10 speakers, an auxiliary input jack, Sirius Satellite Radio, fog lights and P225/50R17 tires on alloy wheels. Wagons also have roof rails for a rack or other cargo carrier.

Category › Car Reviews

Title › 2011 Audi A4

Audi A4 3.2 trims add heated front seats, memory for the driver’s seat and mirrors, a 6-disc CD changer, an iPod adapter, a Bluetooth wireless cell phone link, a trip computer, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights and P245/45R17 tires.

A Premium Plus package is offered for the 2.0T. It includes much of the 3.2 equipment, plus 3-zone climate control, heated front seats and xenon headlights. A Prestige package for both trims adds keyless access and starting, 18-inch wheels, Audi’s Blind Spot Alert system and a 505-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system with 14 speakers.

The redesigned A4 is offered with two engines and a choice of front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), which Audi calls quattro. While the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that Audi offered in 2008 was powerful and fuel-efficient, Audi has redesigned it for 2009. This version uses a timing chain instead of a timing belt and is both more powerful and more fuel-efficient. It produces 211 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, compared with the 2008 version’s 200 ponies and 207 lb-ft of torque. FWD versions come with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), while quattro models use a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic with Audi’s Tiptronic manual shift capability. Environmental Protection Agency fuel-economy ratings are 23/30 mpg (city/hwy) for the FWD sedan with the CVT, 22/30 for the quattro sedan with the manual, and 21/27 for the sedan or wagon with the automatic.

Audi A4 3.2 trims have a 3.2-liter V6 engine that makes 265 horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque. It comes only with the 6-speed automatic transmission and quattro, and EPA fuel-economy estimates are 17/26.

Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system is rear-biased. Under normal conditions, it sends 60 percent of the power to the rear wheels and 40 percent to the front. When slip is detected, an automatic locking center differential can send most of the power to the axle with traction.

2011 audi a4

2011 audi a4 road test

Audi has been the industry standard for interior quality for years, and the 2009 A4’s cockpit is better than ever. In my opinion, the dashboard is one of the most attractive available today. The only hard plastic is the trim piece that surrounds the instrument cluster. The dash is made of a solid, soft-touch material, the armrests and center console are padded, and the trim is either aluminum or wood. The electroluminescent gauges are easy to see and read, and red lighting around the controls makes them easy to find at night.

True to its sport sedan intentions, the A4 has supportive seats that keep drivers in place during aggressive cornering. The optional sport seats provide even more support. A standard tilt/telescoping steering wheel, plenty of seat controls and good headroom and legroom make it easy to find a tailored driving position.

The 2009 A4’s increased length benefits back-seat space, which has been a problem for the A4 in the past. Two adults can fit back there unless the front-seat passengers push their seats all the way back, and three children will fit as well. Headroom is good for all but the very tall, and there is plenty of toe space under the front seats.

2011 audi a4

2011 audi a4 review

The A4’s premium qualities extend to its ride and handling characteristics. The 2009 model is 4.6 inches longer overall and 6.5 inches longer in wheelbase. Audi says the extra length allowed engineers to move the front axle 6.1 inches forward and the engine back toward the center of gravity. In addition, the new model has a 1.8-inch wider track. These changes give the A4 some much-needed stability at high speeds and better turn-in response. It feels smaller than its size and is nimble in quick changes of direction. While it still isn’t a match for the BMW 3-Series on twisty roads or a racetrack, the difference is negligible on the street.

The A4’s base engine is also its best engine. The 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder provides maximum torque as low as 1500 rpm. That means the A4 2.0T is sprightly from a stop and has willing passing response. Zero to 60 mph takes only 6.5 seconds with the easy-shifting manual transmission, and as little as 6.7 seconds with the smooth and responsive automatic.

The 3.2-liter V6 comes only with the automatic transmission, and it propels the A4 to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds. While that’s faster than the 2.0T, it’s not much faster, and the added price and reduced fuel economy conspire to make the V6 an unwise buy. On top of that, the 3.2 is far outperformed by BMW’s twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6.

Kirk Bell

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2010 MINI Cooper

It may be hard to tell, but BMW’s highly acclaimed remake of the MINI Cooper is now in its second

2010 mini cooper 2010 mini cooper

2010 mini cooper

generation, and the convertible version is finally here as well. The roofless version of the nimble compact was a smash hit in its last generation, having sold 164,000 units worldwide. Now based on the slightly sleeker body and stiffer chassis


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of the latest MINI Cooper, the new convertible is aiming to be just as successful.

Model Lineup

Like every Cooper since its reintroduction in 2001, the new convertible is available in two primary trim levels: the basic Cooper Convertible and the more powerful Cooper S Convertible. Although both have taut suspension and a good chassis, the Cooper S is far and away the performer, thanks to its punchy turbocharged engine. Aside from proprietary badging, the Cooper S can easily be recognized from its hood scoop and center-exit exhaust pipes.

Both convertible trims offer plenty of features, with many former options now standard equipment. They are available with dozens of additional options, accessories and packages, including a navigation system and a $1,500 Sport Package

Category › Car Reviews

Title › 2010 MINI Cooper

consisting of a traction-control system, 17-inch wheels, hood stripes, fog lights and sport seats, but not the “Sport Suspension” option, oddly enough.

Under the Hood

The engine in the 2009 Cooper Convertible is the same unit found in the solid-roofed Cooper: a 1.6-liter four cylinder capable of 118 horsepower at 6000 rpm, with 114 lb-ft of torque at 4250 rpm. While the convertible does add weight, the engine is still sufficient to get around town and enjoy the breeze. For those looking for a bit more kick, the Cooper S Convertible offers the same turbocharged engine found in the Cooper S. With direct injection and a twin-scroll turbocharger, this one produces 172 horses at 5500 rpm, and 177 lb-ft of torque in a flat plateau starting at just 1600 rpm and lasting until 5000 rpm. Additionally, there is a momentary “overboost” function that increases torque by 15 lb-ft from 1700 to 4500 rpm.

Both trims are offered with either the new 6-speed paddle-shift automatic or a traditional manual transmission, also with six gears. Most would agree that a car like this is best enjoyed with a traditional clutch and shifter, though as automatics go, this one offers crisp shifts and gear ratios that make the most of the available torque.

Inner Space

The easy-to-read tachometer is still a plus, and hints at the car’s sporty personality. The large, center-mounted speedometer flies in the face of BMW’s typical “eyes up” driver theme, but there’s a digital readout in the tachometer. One of the most interesting features of the new car is the “Openometer,” a gauge to the left of the tachometer, designed solely to log the hours spent driving with the top down. Sure, it’s technically a gimmick, but it’s bound to be fun for owners, and is the kind of purely playful idea that only MINI would have the guts to realize.

2010 mini cooper review

2010 mini cooper

The four seats are comfortable and supportive, and even the base black/gray leatherette feels surprisingly nice to the touch. Carbon Black cloth is an option, and leather is available in different colors. Additional color accent and trim options are available as well. Like the exterior, there is no shortage of interior color combinations from which to choose.

On the Road

For a front-wheel-drive compact car, we found the MINI Cooper S Convertible hard to beat for sheer fun. While it’s possible to feel the weight increase from the additional chassis reinforcements and bracing, the MINI convertibles don’t suffer like most cars originally designed with a roof do that’s now lopped off. MINI says that the suspension is tuned specifically for the convertible, but the nimble handling owes itself to simple physics — the cars are diminutive.

2010 mini cooper

2010 mini cooper

Turn-in is quick and responsive, and there’s ample grip from the 195-width tires. A little more weight and feedback in the steering wheel would be welcome during hard cornering, though, and experienced drivers seeking to push the MINI to its limits may wish to keep the stability control (DSC) turned off, since its intervention can be a nuisance. The brake pedal communicates nicely, and the brakes themselves offer sufficient stopping power and feature a plethora of electronic aids including ABS, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Cornering Brake Control.

MINI claims a zero to 60 mph time of 8.9 seconds for the manual-transmission Cooper Convertible, and 7 seconds flat for the S. In driving both the Cooper and the Cooper S, we’re left wondering if the ideal engine would be somewhere between the two. The regular Cooper Convertible just isn’t powerful enough to have any real fun, while the Cooper S Convertible is plenty fast, with instant turbo boost almost always on tap.

James Tate

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2011 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

The redesigned, fourth-generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan is better able to compete with small luxury sedans from automakers such as BMW,Infiniti and Lexus.

2011 mercedes benz c class 2011 mercedes benz c class

2011 mercedes benz c class

And the new model will surely trump some rivals just because it has the Mercedes nameplate.


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The 2008 C-Class has Mercedes’ new corporate look, an edgy interplay of taut lines and wide, rounded surfaces. It’s larger than the lastgeneration model, being nearly 4 inches longer, about 2 inches wider, with a wheelbase lengthened nearly 2 inches.

The new car is heavier and thus a bit slower with its holdover engines, but is still fast. All versions were introduced with rear-wheel drive, but a new all-wheel-drive system soon becomes available for the C300 Sport and C300 Luxury automatic transmission trim levels.

New Equipment

New standard equipment includes a power sunroof, 8-way power front seats, 2-zone automatic climate controls, 17-inch wheels and a Bluetooth feature that allows a phone in a pocket or purse to be used through the audio system.

Category › Car Reviews

Title › 2011 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

A central controller works with a 7-inch display screen that can be read quickly and stows out of sight in the upper dashboardwhen not used.

Revised steering and suspension make the car more agile, although the precise steering’s general heaviness and the suspension’s firmness give the impression that this is mainly a secure high-speed cruiser, although it’s easy to maneuver in the city.

Handling is secure at all speeds, and the supple ride smoothes out roads. However the brake pedal in my early-production test car was touchy. Stopping distances were short in normal driving.

Old Engineering Dominance

That S-Class was arguably the last Mercedes designed by the automaker’s engineers without cost-cutting or interference from the marketing department, with items that even included double-glazed glass like that found in living rooms.

But that S-Class was criticized for being too large, heavy and “socially irresponsible” for the modern world. It was replaced for 2000 by a more efficient S-Class, and yet another redesigned—and more complicated—S-Class, which arrived for the 2007 model year.

Perhaps the new C-Class shows that Mercedes engineers have gotten more influence again. That would be a welcome development, as long as Mercedes doesn’t go over-the-top with complicated gizmos that have led to lower customer satisfaction ratings.

Mercedes says the new C-Class interior is roomier, but there’s still no surplus of rear legroom for a 6-footer behind a driver who has moved his seat only halfway back.

Obvious Faults

The revised cabin has supportive front seats, but some obvious faults: For instance, the analog gauges have markings too small to read at a glance. The notchy headlight control switch feels cheap, and turn signal and speed control stalks are too close and thus can be easily confused.

However, most controls are OK, although I missed Mercedes’ traditional, handy door-mounted power seat controls, which have been replaced by controls at the bottom side of the seats.

An electronic controller on the console acts like a computer mouse to provide operation of functions that once required lots of buttons and switches. Cupholders are nicely placed on the console, and rear windows roll all the way down.

2011 mercedes benz c class

2011 mercedes benz c class

Large Trunk

The large trunk is slightly roomier and has a low, wide opening. It has a padded interior lid to hold down cabin noise in this extremely quiet car.

Mercedes says the new C-Class puts more emphasis on agility, comfort, safety and sport, although it’s not as sporty as the rival BMW 3-Series.

The two C300 versions have a smooth 3.0-liter 228-horsepower engine, while the C350 Sport’s V6 generates 268 horsepower and more torque. The 3.0-liter versions do 0-60 in 7.1 seconds, while the 3.5-liter C-Class hits 60 in 6.3 seconds.

The automatic transmission has seven speeds and shifts smoothly, although it exhibits some indecisiveness under light throttle at lower speeds.

A 6-speed manual transmission is offered for the C300 Sport, but isn’t offered for the higher-horsepower C350. That may seem curious until one realizes that most C350s will be bought by those who want the most luxurious new C-Class—and that an AMG version is surely coming.

2011 mercedes benz c class

2011 mercedes benz c class

Unique Sport Version Appearance

The C-Class Sport trim levels are identified by Mercedes’ iconic three-pointed star emblem in the grille, a design cue usually reserved for the automaker’s coupes and convertibles. These trim levels also look sportier, with body add-ons inspired by AMG models. These additions include deeper front and rear aprons, along with under-door rocker panels.

Moreover, the Sport versions sit a little lower and have twin-spoke 17-inch wheels of staggered width, sport shocks, springs and stabilizer bars that deliver crisper handling.

The Luxury trim level has a traditional thee-pointed-star emblem on the hood, four-spoke steering wheel and burl walnut trim. Sport versions have three-spoke wheels and either aluminum (C300) or black Birdseye maple (C350) trim. The Luxury trim level has a richer looking interior.

It’s doubtful that Mercedes will ever bring back another mass-market car like that 1990s S-Class, but new models such as the 2008 C-Class make up for it in a much-changed world.

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2011 Lexus IS

Lexus is known for quiet, powerful, refined cars, so one can be blamed for being a bit skeptical when it

2011 lexus is 2011 lexus is

2011 lexus is

brings out a car to tromp BMW’s iconic 3-series sedan. Lexus attempted to do just that with its brash, first-generation IS compact sedan, which arrived in America as a 2001 model called the IS 300. By then, that car had


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been sold for a few years in Japan with a smaller engine as a Toyota. (Lexus is Toyota’s upscale division.)

What was Lexus thinking? There was no way it could seriously challenge the 3-Series with such a car.

However, the trim IS 300 has been the most fun-to-drive Lexus and has gained it experience in the entry luxury sports sedan market. More importantly for Lexus, it’s captured a young audience because the median buyer age of an IS 300 is only 29.

Higher Sales Expected

Lexus hopes the newly revamped compact IS, which is more refined and more liberally equipped than its predecessor, will retain the younger crowd and grab older buyers to boost annual IS sales in

Category › Car Reviews

Title › 2011 Lexus IS

America to 40,000 cars.

The IS 300 attracted only 9,972 buyers in this country in 2004. The 3-Series—also sold as coupe and convertible versions—found 106,549 buyers in 2004, making it BMW’s top-selling auto series in this country.

Larger and More Stylish

The more stylish, high-waisted 2006 IS resembles the BMW 3-Series sedan, which was revamped for 2006. The new Lexus is as solid and smooth as that BMW and is a big improvement over the IS 300.

The new IS looks sleeker and more muscular than its predecessor and is partly derived from the redesigned new Lexus midsize GS sedan. The IS wheelbase is up 2.4 inches to a fairly long 107.5 inches, and the car is 3.5 inches longer overall, 3 inches wider and nearly an inch higher.

The new rear-wheel-drive IS is less edgy than the rear-wheel-drive IS 300 but is far more of a 3-Series sedan rival. Car and Driver magazine’s October 2005 issue compared eight respected entry-level sports sedans, including the top-line IS 350 and BMW 3-Series, and said the IS finished a close second to the winning 3-Series.

One criticism of the IS 300 was its cramped rear-seat area. One might think that the larger dimensions of the new IS would give it more rear-seat space. But no dice—it’s still too tight back there, especially for long-legged adults, and narrow door openings impede entry and exit.

However, there’s good room up front in the quiet, upscale, nicely designed interior, which has good materials, supportive bucket seats and easily read Optitron gauges with needles that appear to float.

The trunk is roomy, but the car’s racy styling causes its opening to be rather small.

Hot Rod Version

The IS 350 is the hot rod, with an engine that outpowers all others in its class. It does 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds. The IS 250 is no slouch, though, despite having less power and torque. It reaches 60 mph in 7.9 seconds with rear-wheel drive and in 8.3 seconds in heavier all-wheel-drive form.

The IS 350′s engine will make this version hard to pass up, but Lexus says most buyers of the new IS will choose the IS 250, if only because of its lower price. Lexus also says a good percentage of buyers in northern states will order the all-wheel-drive version.

2011 lexus is

2011 lexus is

Nice Roadability

The electric power steering was quick but heavy in an all-wheel-drive IS 250 I tested. New front and rear suspension components and powerful new anti-lock brakes provide sharp handling and sure stops—although the brake pedal action is a bit grabby. The supple suspension shrugs off most road imperfections, but is firm enough to occasionally cause a jerky ride on freeways.

The IS 250 versions have traction control and a Vehicle Stability Control system. The IS 350 gets a more sophisticated Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system. Both help keep the car on the road under trying conditions.

An optional performance package with 18-inch (vs. standard 17-inch) wheels and lowered sport suspension isn’t really needed unless one is a genuine car buff.

2011 lexus is

2011 lexus is

Well Equipped

All IS trim levels have a long list of standard comfort and convenience features, including a 13-speaker audio system. Safety items include a wide array of airbags.

Options include a sunroof, heated-ventilated front seats, leather upholstery, wood interior trim, easily operated navigation system with a rear TV camera, more upscale audio system, steering-linked headlights and a collision avoidance system with radar cruise control.

Lexus has proved that it knows a thing or two about building highly competitive cars. If I were BMW, the IS would make me a little nervous.

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