Design

A connection between BMW, Sea Ray, and Harley Earl has lead to a new boat debut

The Sundancer 370 Outboard is the product of a partnerhsip between BMW and Sea Ray.

Photo courtesy of Sea Ray

BMW Group hasn't just teamed up with Sea Ray to develop new design language for the boat company, they've also played a part in creating a new model, the Sea Ray Sundancer 370 Outboard. Designworks, a BMW Group company, took the lead in working with Sea Ray.

The result of the partnership is the new Sundancer 370 Outboard with debuted this week in conjunction with the 45th anniversary of the Sundancer series. It was created to relaunch the Sundancer family and provide a compelling path forward for the historic brand name. HGTV personalities Tarek El Moussa and Heather Rae Young helped launch the boat with a preview video.

"Sea Ray has a rich history as a leading boat manufacturer for more than 60 years," said Johannes Lampela, Director of Industrial Design at Designworks. "The Sea Ray look is very recognizable, and our goal working together was to further strengthen that design DNA by bringing forward the most iconic features through a modern design execution. What emerged is a modern yet classic aesthetic that is being used to inspire the next generation of Sea Ray boats."

Sea Ray Sundancer 370 Outboard Premierewww.youtube.com

According to Sea Ray, the design of the new boat combines the characteristics of a cruiser, bowrider, and coupe.

"Our goal was to define the foundation for bold and pure design expression," said Charlie Foss, Sea Ray Design Director. "Working together with Designworks, we were able to produce a fresh set of design principles that pay homage to our brand's past while indicating the future, resulting in a look that is undeniably Sea Ray. An output of the collaboration was the definition of four key design characteristics to inform Sea Ray models moving forward: sleek, confident, athletic, and distinctive."

The two companies imbued traditional automotive design elements into the the craft where it appropriately intersected with modern boat design. There is al long, lean s-sheer line that flows from bow to stern, much like a belt line on a car. The strong character jaw line (thankfully) does not incorporate oversized air or water intakes. The characteristic Sea Ray hull-side emblem and center line has been created to draw the eye in and create a feeling of speed.

"Automotive-inspired design is part of the Sea Ray history, dating back to collaboration with Harley Earl Associates in the early 1960s. It was important that we partnered with a group that has a comprehensive understanding of future mobility and the ability to develop concepts with a view to future contexts," said Foss.

Storage on the boat has been optimized to 66 cubic feet, a little more than the 2021 BMW X3 with the rear seats folded. There is custom transom Stow and Go Fender Storage and a port-side walkthrough. Buyers can upgrade their Sundancer to include an electrically actuated opening glass hardtop with black panoramic sunroof and extended sunshade.

There is a U-shaped cockpit in the craft that plays home to a wet bar, flameless Keyon grill, and optional refrigerator and teak tables. There is seating for up to five adults. The bow can be transformed from a table to a sun lounge with the available filler cushion.

The three-position convertible transom seat transitions from a hard-back surface when underway to an aft-facing seat or sunpad when at rest.

"We sought to create an interior cabin space in the Sundancer 370 Outboard that's a bright, warm and modern home away from home," said Paul Olvera, Sea Ray industrial designer. "We wanted people aboard to feel welcome to sit and relax with a sense of sophistication as they're surrounded by rich textures inspired by nature that aren't loud or overbearing. Calmness and confidence were key; nothing is cold or too bright and loud, and neither is anything too dark or moody. The tones are especially catered to their respective areas so that everything is 'just right.'"

Below deck, there is a cabin that welcomes light via Hull-side windows and skylight. The head is equipped with a shower with modern spa-like finishes and a forward V-berth lounge features an L-shaped couch and smart TV. The galley has space for an added-on microwave, refrigerator, solid surface countertops, trash receptacle, and cabinetry with lower storage.

The couch can be converted into the master bed with fill-in cushions to form a queen-sized sleeping area.

Power comes from the boat's triple Mercury Verado 300 outboard engines with Joystick Piloting for Outboards. Active Trim (automatic engine trim system) is standard while Dynamic Running Surface is available.

The helm features a dual digital dashboard. Buyers can add NSO evo3s 16-inch Simrad touchscreen displays that work with Mercury VesselView Mobile. Other highlights include CZone digital switching with the Simrad Command interface providing full lighting control, RGB-W accent lighting, and thru-hull underwater lighting. The options list also includes a Seakeeper 3 gyroscope and a Fusion audio system with Apollo RA770 touchscreen display, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, and Digital Signal Processing (DSP).

The Sundancer 370 Outboard is available for order in North America, with international availability timing to follow.

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The IIHS may increase the speeds it uses to test advanced driver aids.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently announced that it is considering changing the speeds it uses to test vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention systems. The agency currently tests the systems at 12 and 25 mph, but says that the speeds don't accurately represent the types of crashes the safety tech is meant to prevent.

Front crash preventionwww.youtube.com

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is designed to notify of a possible collision and help respond with automatic application of braking. Just like a human using the brake pedal, it can stop the car, but higher speeds make it difficult to stop in time. The new tests would be conducted at 35 to 45 mph, which is the range where a large number of rear-end crashes occur. As Automotive News noted, an IIHS study showed 43 percent of rear-end crashes occur at speeds of 45 mph or less, so it's important to have a test that shows how well the tech performs at those levels.

A whopping 85 percent of 2022 vehicles earned a "Superior" rating in the current testing regime, so the IIHS will remove it from 2023 testing and Top Safety Pick award evaluations. Their view is that, since the majority of vehicles meet the criteria, it's no longer an accurate way of evaluating performance. In its place, the agency introduced a night test for automatic emergency braking systems that will begin next year.

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The Supra finally gets a manual transmission for 2023.

Toyota

After an almost nonstop chorus of enthusiasts and journalists asking for a manual transmission in the new Supra, Toyota has gone and done it. The car will get an available six-speed manual transmission that will be available on both variants of the GR Supra 3.0, plus a limited-edition model on the U.S. market next year.

2023 Toyota Supra 3.0 MTToyota had to modify the car's interior for the new gearbox. Toyota

The A91-MT Edition Supra will be limited to 500 units, and gets two exterior colors with an exclusive Cognac leather interior. All 2023 Supras come with a 3.0-liter straight-six engine that makes 382 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque. Toyota says the six-speed manual has been specially tuned to work with the car's engine, and notes that it modified an existing transmission housing to come up with the design. The gearbox's final drive ratio is shortened to improve response and take-off.

Toyota had to modify the car's interior to accommodate a gearshift lever, so the iDrive controller and other buttons had to be relocated. The automaker says that it focused on the feeling of shifting, from the weight of the knob to the ergonomics and location of the component.

2023 Toyota Supra 3.0 MTThe limited-edition A91-MT trim gets an exclusive cognac leather interior.Toyota

A Supra with a manual gearbox is reason to celebrate, but availability is limited to the top Supra 3.0. The "base" Supra 2.0 won't get the transmission. Toyota says pricing and other information will be available later this year.

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