New Model News

BMW introduces new 2 Series Gran Coupe as an entry-level model, on sale in March

The 2 Series Gran Coupe is not a coupe, but rather a four-door sedan with a graded roof.

Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW continues to call four-door vehicles coupes and give them larger and larger grilles. That holds true for its new 2 Series Gran Coupe, a performance-focused model that anchors the German automaker's lineup.

The model will come in two variants: 228i xDrive Gran Coupe and M235i xDrive Gran Coupe. Both models come standard with all-wheel drive.

Its hood and trunk are made of aluminum and body components are made of high-strength steel. The BMW M235i xDrive get additional structural equipment including strut tower tie bar and bracing on the front axle subframe and in the tunnel area as well as an anti-roll bar mounting with high preload. It also has a sport suspension and the M Sport steering.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe The grille on the BMW is large and not particularly attractive from many angles.Photo courtesy of BMW

The car's exterior is marked not only by its large grille but also its frameless windows and a wide stance. It also has standard full-LED headlights with hexagonal tube daytime running lights. At the back are an upswept trunk and dual 90mm chrome exhaust tips.

BMW has given the 228i xDrive Gran Coupe the company's signature sport black exterior accent treatment. The M235i xDrive Gran Coupe features a Cerium Grey finish for the Mesh Kidney grille surround and raised nuggets, front air inlet surrounds, side sill inserts, mirror caps and free form tailpipe finishers.

The 228i xDrive Gran Coupe will be powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It has a zero to 60 mph time of 6.0 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph when running on all-season tires. It can get to 151 mph on performance tires.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe Out back, the car mostly has business as BMW usual.Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW has given the 228i xDrive Gran Coupe standard 17-inch multi-spoke wheels with 225/45R17 all-season runflat tires. The M235i xDrive comes standard with 18-inch M double-spoke wheels with 225/40R18 all-season runflat tires. Both models are available in a variety of 17-, 18-, or 19-inch wheel/tire combinations.

The more powerful M235i xDrive Gran Coupe gets 301 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque from its tuned 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It can nget to 60 mph from a standstill in 4.7 seconds (4.6 with optional boost functionality). The car has a top speed of 155 mph when equipped with performance tires.

M Sport brakes are available as an option on the 228i xDrive Gran Coupe and are standard on the M235i xDrive model.

BMW has given both models Comfort, Eco, and Sport modes. The more powerful model has launch control and available adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe Opting for the sportier model gets the buyer richer accents on the exterior of the vehicle.Photo courtesy of BMW

The car shares a near-actuator wheel slip limitation system with the BMW i3. The system's position under the car allows for a relay between the wheels and slip controller that is three times quicker inn detecting slip and getting the car's mechanics to intervene.

BMW has outfitted the model in premium features including a standard backlit interior trim and grain effects on the steering wheel, instrument panel, and doors and contrast seams on the dashboard. Technical Orbis graining is used on the driver's side in the cockpit area while leather-like Verona graining features on the passenger side, the two separated by contrast diagonal stitching, depending on the equipment line specified.

The car comes standard with an 8.6-inch infotainment screen. An 8.6-inch digital instrument display is standard and a 10.25 digital instrument cluster is available. The buyers select the large digital cluster, the infotainment screen is upgraded to a 10.25-incher. A full-color 9.2-inch BMW head-up display is also available.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe Ambient light options allow for a level of interior customization.Photo courtesy of BMW

Among the special personalized details available as part of the available Live Cockpit Professional system is the Welcome Scenario, which greets the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe driver when they enter their vehicle. The driver's user settings, including seat, air conditioning and radio settings are saved to a profile via vehicle key and pin code.

Drivers can interact with their system with via gesture control or the "Hey BMW" function, which allows drivers to use various vehicle functionality without having to take their hands off the wheel.

The standard BMW Stereo sound system includes ten speakers and a 205-watt amplifier. The optional Harman Kardon surround sound system enhances the audio experience with 16-speakers and 464 watts of audio power.

The German automaker has given the 2 Series nearly the same legroom as what is found in the 3 Series. It also has a 15.1 cubic foot trunk and a 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe BMW says that the 2 Series has nearly as much legroom in the second row as the 3 Series.Photo courtesy of BMW

The new BMW 2 Series Gran Coupes come standard with power Sport seats covered in standard Oyster/Black Sensatec or Black Sensatec on the 228i xDrive Gran Coupe. Dakota leather is standard on the M235i xDrive Gran Coupe in either Magma Red, Mocha, Black with Blue highlights or Oyster.

The car's standard Active Driving Assistant technology includes forward collision warning with City Collisionn Mitigation, blind spot detection, daytime pedestrian protection, and lane departure warning. Additional standard and available features include parking distance alert and back-up assist, which is able to assisting with parallel parking.

Production of the 2 Series Gran Coupe started in November and it will begin arriving at dealerships in March. Pricing has yet to be announced.

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The Continental GT Mulliner is Bentley's newest high-end offering.

Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors
The Continental GT Mulliner has been added to the Bentley stable joining other models that represent the finest the super-luxury brand has to offer. The Mulliner brand offers buyers a wider variety of customization than the traditional Bentley lineup of vehicles.

The new model features a 'Double Diamond' matrix grille at the front, complimented by matching front fender vents at the sides that feature black and silver design with chromed Mulliner branding. Satin Silver mirror caps with Mulliner Welcome Lamps beneath, and illuminated outer door sills with Mulliner text take residence on the side of the vehicle.

Bentley Continental GT Mulliner 

Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors

Bentley has given the model 22-inch Mulliner wheels with a painted and polished finish. The centre badge of each wheel is self-leveling, keeping its Bentley logo upright at all times.

The cabin of the Continental GT is already plush but the Mulliner brand touch takes the level of sophistication and refinement up a notch. The color split in the cabin is exclusive to the car, with a new combination of primary and secondary hide joined by a third color through a flowing design line.

Mulliner proposes eight different three-color combinations for order, using Bentley's palette of hides and threads to create a contrast throughout the cabin. "Diamond in Diamond" quilting to the seats, doors trims, and rear quarter panels are standard. The quilting consists of nearly 400,000 stitches with each diamond containing 712 stitches.

Each seat in the car is finished with an embroidered Mulliner logo. The floor mats are edged with micro-piping to match the rest of the color theme of the interior. The roof of the cabin is trimmed along its full length with indented hide, or smooth hide to match the seat backs if a buyer chooses the fixed glass roof instead.

The center console is made of a diamond milled technical finish that is flanked by Grand Black walnut veneer and chrome overlays. At the center is a Breitling clock. The passenger side fascia is finished with a silhouette of the car's exterior profile and the Mulliner logo.

The interior appointments can be personalized further with a range of 88 contemporary, colorized veneer finishes that can be matched to the interior or exterior of the car. Burr walnut veneer is hand sanded and polished to produce a perfectly smooth finish before painting to match the colour of the customer's choice. Once dry, the veneer is polished to achieve a mirror-like finish.

Buyers are able to choose whether their Bentley model is powered by a 6.0-liter W12 engine or a 4.0-liter V8. The 12-cylinder gets 626 brake horsepower and the V8 achieves 542 brake horsepower. Both engines come standard with 48-volt active anti-roll technology.

Orders for both coupe and convertible versions of the Continental GT Mulliner will be taken starting in October. The first deliveries begin early next year.

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The 2020 Toyota Yaris punches above its weight.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Folks are always fascinated about what I do for a living. "Oh, you drive a different car every week? That's so exciting!"

What follows is a fairly predictable set of questions. "What's your favorite car?" (Rolls-Royce Wraith). "Have you ever driven on a race track?" (Numerous times.) "What's the fastest you've driven?" (180 MPH in a Porsche Panamera on the Autobahn in Germany.)

But then I'll start asking them questions, trying to learn about what they drive and why. What car do you have and why did you buy it? What other cars did you consider? What do you look for in an automobile?

2020 Toyota Yaris The Yaris has Toyota looks up front.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

It's my own form of market research. I can't review a car if I don't understand who my reader is and how to best guide them. It's part of why I don't dive too deep into horsepower and performance figures — I've found that, performance cars excepted, most vehicles perform adequately for the everyday tasks that people buy them for.

That brings us to this week's car, which is perhaps one of the least-interesting cars I've tested — but in a very good way. The sub-$20,000 2020 Toyota Yaris Hatchback is aimed solidly at folks who want an affordable, entry-level vehicle that's safe, practical, and with just a touch of luxury-ishness.

My tester was the (slightly) fancier XLE trim, pricing out at $19,680. It's equipped with an adequate if unexciting 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine churning out a whopping 106-horsepower. The engine might be tiny, but it comes with the added bonus of 32/40/35 mpg (city/highway/combined) fuel economy. It's paired to a six-speed automatic transmission (and a real transmission too, not a continuously variable unit that some folks love to hate).

2020 Toyota Yaris The hatchback is convenient but the car also comes in a sedan variant.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

It has 16-inch wheels, a bunch of airbags, LED headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a seven-inch color touch screen complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It has push-button start, keyless entry, and power windows, locks and mirrors. Oh, and there's automatic climate control too, which I've seen missing on cars that cost way more than this.

Here's where things get a bit confusing. Toyota sells the Yaris in other markets around the world, and it's their own in-house vehicle. But the Yaris sold in America is a rebadged Mazda2 that's assembled at Mazda's facility in Salamanca, Mexico. It's related to the Toyota Yaris sedan which used to be called the Scion iA, which is also built by Mazda, but also has the Toyota brand on it.

Whatever.

2020 Toyota Yaris The Yaris rides okay, about what you’d expect for a sub-$20,000 vehicle.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

I've driven a lot of Mazdas and a lot of Toyotas, and it's obvious to me that this is a Mazda. That's not a bad thing. Mazdas vehicles have punched above their weight for a long time (I had a 2011 Mazda3 for years, and I've praised them frequently in these pages), bringing both upscale materials and design to lower-priced segments. That's true here too. The Mazda2 — I mean, Toyota Yaris Hatchback — doesn't feel like a stripped down econobox. It's small and maneuverable and the engine, though a little noisy, gets you through traffic nicely.

It's a great new car for a teenager or for someone looking to spend as little money on a new car as possible. New cars, after all, come with new car warranties and can appeal to folks who don't want to imagine what came before when buying something used.

The Yaris competes with the Honda Fit, which is a perennial favorite in this class, and it seems a little nicer and a little more polished, though with less rear-seat legroom if you anticipate carrying adults back there.

2020 Toyota Yaris Even low-cost models have an infotainment screen these days.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The front is comfortable and attractive enough, with solid buttons and knobs and dials that are all pleasing to touch and fiddle with (which isn't as common as you'd think). It seems to be a better car than it's bargain-basement price would indicate, with a solid ride, comfortable seats and two reliable names behind it.

I took it to Costco (as I have with all my COVID-era test drives) and, with the 60/40 seats folded down, was able to fill it with ease. It swallowed up toilet paper and paper towels and a case of Diet Dr. Pepper and all manner of other things. It's no Rolls-Royce Wraith, but I'd be happy to recommend the little Yaris to someone looking for a new car that won't break the bank.

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