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Friday
May202016

2016 Chrysler 200 LX Touring: Time to Deal?

By Christopher A. Sawyer

I’ve driven a lot of vehicles in the past 30 years, but none has been more perplexing than the Chrysler 200. Sleek, but bordering on too subtle, Chrysler’s mid-size sedan has not set the sales charts on fire since its 2015 launch. Then in January, the 200 took a broadside from Fiat Chrysler Automobile (FCA) CEO Sergio Marchionne when he said both it and its smaller Dodge Dart sister would be killed off and replaced by more desirable crossovers with higher profit margins. This led to a dramatic drop is sales for both models. It also led to weeks of Marchionne trying to extricate himself from the minefield he’d created with ruminations about having another car company build the next 200 and Dart, and admitting that it would be a couple of years before the planned crossovers replaced the 200 at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Michigan.

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Friday
May202016

The New 2s

For 2017, BMW’s 2 Series cars are getting its latest TwinPower Turbo inline four- and six-cylinder engines. Which  means, of course, that they will be getting new numbers that reflect the change. The four-cylinder cars will be called 230i Coupe and 230i Convertible, while the six-cylinder versions will get the M 240i designation.

The 2.0-liter four produces 248 hp and 258 lb.-ft., up eight horsepower and three lb.-ft. of torque. However, it is the six-cylinder that sees the biggest changes with 15 more horsepower and a substantial 39 lb.-ft. increase in torque. This gives it a power rating of 335 hp at 5,500 rpm and 369 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,520 to 4,500 rpm. This cuts the 0-60 mph time by 0.2 seconds for the Coupe and 0.3 seconds for the Convertible. With the rev-matching, no-cost option six-speed manual gearbox, the 2017 M Series 240i Coupe takes 4.6 seconds to hit the mark, but only 4.4 seconds with the standard eight-speed automatic transmission. (Some of this advantage comes from the automatic’s standard launch control.) The drop top, on the other hand, hits the same speed in 4.4 and 4.2 seconds, respectively. Add the available all-wheel drive, and the 0-60 run takes 4.4 seconds. All-wheel drive, however, requires the automatic transmission.

The M 240i comes standard with a 10-mm (0.4-in.) lower M Sport suspension, 18-in. M wheels with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, an M Sport braking system with fixed multi-piston calipers, variable sport steering, exterior mirror caps painted Ferric Gray metallic, and a model-specific aerodynamic package. — CAS

Friday
May202016

Modular, Just Like Ikea Furniture

By Christopher A. Sawyer

Volvo's 40.1 crossover is built on CMA modular platform, and powered by...Volvo’s 40 Series concepts give an idea of how the V40 and XC40 will look once they reach production in 2017. However, the bigger news is the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) upon which these vehicles will be built, and the powertrains that will propel them.

The CMA is said to be as flexible and modular as its larger SPA brother (found under the new XC90 crossover and S90 sedan), but optimized for smaller, lighter vehicles. It can accommodate both front- and all-wheel drive, and — with less expensive components — will provide the base for a number of new vehicles to be built by Volvo’s parent, Geely.

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Friday
May202016

Genesis, Another Name for Bentley?

Hyundai has poached designer SangYup Lee from Bentley, and named him Vice President of Styling at Hyundai Design Center. He begins his new assignment in June.

Lee, a graduate of Hongik University’s Department of Sculpture and Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design, began his career at Pininfarina before moving to the Porsche Design Center. In 1999, Lee joined GM Design, where he was responsible for the Camaro Concept and Corvette Concept vehicles used in the Transformers movie. In 2009, he moved to Volkswagen of America as Chief Designer overseeing the VW, Audi, Porsche and Lamborghini brands. Three years later, he was named Head of Exterior and Advanced Design at Bentley.

Lee came to Bentley about the same time as Luc Donckerwolke, who will be his boss at Hyundai. The two worked together at VW where the Belgian headed the German company’s advanced design group, and was responsible for the design of the Lamborghini Murciélago and Gallardo. Donckerwolke departed abruptly in 2015, just three years after taking over as chief designer for Bentley. Lee succeeded him in that position.

With Donckerwolke set to replace Hyundai-Kia design chief Peter Schreyer when the latter retires in 2018, the addition of Lee to the staff allows for an orderly transition from Schreyer to Donckerwolke, and gives the former Bentley duo the opportunity to work together on the design of five new vehicles for Hyundai’s Genesis brand. These include the G70 near-luxury and G80 mid-luxury sedans scheduled for launch by 2017, and a mid- and near-luxury SUV and near-luxury sport coupe that will launch no later than 2020. The Genesis New York concept sedan, shown at this year’s New York Auto Show, was penned by Donckerwolke. Lee will be tasked with developing design strategies, directions and design innovations for exterior and interior design, color and materials for both the Hyundai and Genesis brands. — CAS