Car torque: BMW’s new x-strategy
Despite having huge success with its x-branded crossover vehicles, BMW New Zealand has never felt confident taking the plunge into all-wheel drive versions of its conventional sedans and wagons – despite the Munich maker offering a huge range of xDrive 3 and 5 Series models in Europe.
Four-wheel drive cars have always been more of an Audi thing. A little bigger and bolder following its defeat of Audi to become No 1 luxury brand in New Zealand for 2012, BMW is introducing the 3 Series Touring (wagon) with xDrive this month.
Final pricing and specification won’t be released until late February but the 3 Series xDrive is expected to mirror the sedan’s lineup of TwinPower petrol and diesel engines, as well as its Sport, Modern, Luxury and M Sport option packages.
Collaboration tests the water
Mercedes-Benz, Ford and the Nissan-Renault alliance have signed a three-way agreement to accelerate the commercialisation of fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) technology.
The goal of the project, which carries equal investment from each company, is to launch affordable FCEVs as early as 2017.
The companies believe working together will also be the catalyst for increased development of the infrastructure required to run FCEVs, including hydrogen refuelling stations.
FCEVs are powered by a fuel cell “stack”, which generates electricity through a chemical reaction between hydrogen (stored on board the vehicle in a high-pressure tank) and oxygen. The only byproducts of the process are water vapour and heat.
Asian market crash
The Southeast Asian branch of the New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) opened for business this month.
ASEAN NCAP has a purpose-built crash-test facility in Malaysia capable of crash-testing vehicles to the same standards (if not scope) as its sister programmes in Australia and Europe.
Phase one of ASEAN NCAP involved a frontal offset crash test. Phase two, which will commence later this year, will include a side-impact test.
After its first round of testing, the news is good for the cars with an international profile and not so good for some of the local product.
The Ford Fiesta and Honda City both scored five stars but three models from Malaysia makers fared less well: three stars for the Perodua Myvi and Proton Saga dual-airbag model and just one star for the same Saga with one airbag.
Alfa Romeo MX-5 confirmed
Mazda and Fiat Group have signed a final agreement for the Japanese company to produce a roadster for Alfa Romeo at its Hiroshima plant, starting in 2015.
The new car will be based on the platform of the next-generation Mazda MX-5 and produced for global markets.
The agreement stipulates that each brand’s cars be distinctly different, with unique styling and proprietary engines.