The News for May 9th, 2014

30yearM5lead Welcome to the Hooniverse News! As always, this is a weekly recap of some of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. I just throw in a little opinion of mine because I can. This week:  

  • BMW celebrates 30 years of the M5 with proper special edition

  • Audi celebrates illegal laser high beam technology with a special edition R8

  • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles reveals ambitious five-year plan with a lot headed our way

  • Maserati to bring gorgeous Alfieri concept to production

30th Anniversary Edition BMW M5

30yearM5_1 BMW is celebrating 30 years of the legendary M5 super sports sedan with – you wouldn’t believe it – a limited edition M5 built exclusively for the occasion. The “30 Jahre M5”, or 30 year M5 to us yanks, will be built in limited numbers with just 300 worldwide, of which 30 will come to America. Like many other special edition BMWs as of late, the 30 Jahre M5 features their lovable “frozen” matte paint as one of the only things to visually distinguish it. But unlike other special edition BMWs, this one gets a boost in performance to mark the occasion. A substantial one. The 30 Jahre M5 will still use the same 4.4-liter TwinPower Turbo V8 as the normal one, but through more aggressive ECU tuning and more boost it now produces nearly 600 horsepower and 516 lb.-ft. of torque. Compare that to the 560 horsepower from the base model and 575 horsepower from the Competition Package which the 30 Jahre M5 is built on, and that’s not a bad power bump at all. This boost in power conveniently makes this the most powerful M5 ever sold and maybe the most powerful road-going BMW ever sold.30yearM5_2 To help cope with that extra power, the seven-speed M Dual Clutch Transmission (automatic) receives new software as well with more aggressive mapping. That fancy computer stuff clearly works wonders, as 0-60 mph takes just 3.7 seconds. The aforementioned Competition Package is included with this car, which adds a lower and more purposeful suspension, quicker steering, and a dedicated setting for the Active M Differential which all make it more suitable for spirited driving. A sport exhaust system and those wheels are also included with the Competition Package and carbon ceramic brakes are available on every M5. Now for the predictable part. Each 30 Jahre M5 will roll off the line with “frozen” dark silver paint and special dark chrome “30 Jahre M5” badging. If you want to grab one of the 29 “30 Jahre M5s” (the 30th one will be kept by BMW North America), you’ll need to call the BMW Customer Relations hotline at 1PM Eastern sharp on Wednesday, May 21. The first 29 callers who give financial info over the phone will get to privilege of buying one. Those that get a spot will also get the chance to experience the BMW M Driving School at The Thermal Club in Palm Springs, CA. Those that call in will also need to be prepared to drop $138,275 for one of these. [Source: BMW]

Audi R8 LMX

Audi R8 LMX We move on from BMW’s special edition model to Audi’s special edition model. The Audi R8 LMX features a few cosmetic touches, a little more power, and what Audi calls the “world’s first production car with laser high beams”, because that’s a thing and BMW’s laser headlights don’t count. So it’s basically your generic special edition car from Germany but with fancy high beams that make it illegal in the U.S. Audi will only ever build 99 of these, each with attractive Ara Blue paint, carbon accents, exclusive “designer” wheels over red brake calipers, and black Nappa leather inside with contrasting blue stitching and seat backs. The Lamborghini-sourced V10 gets a ten horsepower bump up to 570.Audi R8 LMX The part that Audi talks about the most though is the laser technology in those high beams. First introduced on the R18 E-tron Quattro LMP1 race car, this incredible German technology involves a tiny laser module thing in each headlight featuring four high-power laser diodes which emit blue laser light. A phosphor converter turns the blue light into white light at a temperature of 5,500 Kelvin. The result is a brilliant white field of vision that reaches further down the road than any other high beam on the market. This fancy high beam will be put to the test at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year and on European roads starting this summer. Pricing starts at about $289,000. [Source: Audi]

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Five Year Plan

chysler200 FCA, the newly formed Senate Committee automotive company consisting of all of Fiat and Chrysler under one name, held a big investor meeting earlier in the week to rally the people with money behind the company but also get the public excited about the future of the new brand. While discussing boring investor stuff, they also revealed their five year plan to show how they’re going to revamp the brand and get people to buy their stuff. Our friends at Autoweek were there to provide us with a look at what’s coming. From Jeep you can expect a new Wrangler and Grand Cherokee in 2017, a replacement for the Compass which nobody will miss in 2016, and a Grand Wagoneer – a premium three-row behemoth – in 2018. They also took the time to explain that the Jeep Renegade and other smaller Jeeps will help the brand sell well in overseas markets and comply with CAFE standards. For Chrysler, it gets a bit interesting. FCA is looking to make Chrysler the biggest brand in the company with the highest volume by introducing a new 100 Sedan which launches a year after the 200 Sedan does in 2015, which is the first of Chrysler’s new incoming offerings. After that, a full-size crossover will launch in 2017, a plug-in hybrid Town and Country in 2016, a midsize crossover in 2018, and a new 300 Sedan in 2018. Dodge’s family grows too, starting with SRT which will once again be united under the Dodge name as it was before they were broken off into their own sub-brand. This works well with FCA’s new strategy of making Dodge the performance brand. It helps too that Dodge will be ditching the Avenger by year’s end and the Grand Caravan (making Chrysler the only minivan choice in FCA). Word is that SRT will have their hands on the Dart somewhat soon as well… Ram trucks, unlike SRT, will continue to operate as a separate entity building Fiat-based commercial vans, updated light-duty trucks 2015 and a redesigned one in 2017, and updated heavy-duty trucks in 2016 and again in 2018. They also expressed their intentions of increasing volume by 34% over the next five years or a total of 620,000 trucks by the end of 2018. Alfa4CSpider2 Alfa Romeo is finally selling cars in America again with the 4C and 4C Spider, but that’s only just the beginning. A total of eight Alfas will join the current lineup to add everything from compacts to crossovers which will also debut a variety of new engines. Something particularly special will be arriving in showrooms by 2015 as well, but they won’t say what. Maserati had some exciting and not so exciting news to share. The good: Maserati’s breathtaking Alfieri concept is headed to production in 2016 and will be joined by a cabriolet version the following year – more of that below. The not so good: Maserati confirmed an SUV is headed to production first and is called the Levante. Between now and 2018, Maserati will also add a few new engine options which are mostly six-cylinders and diesels. All-wheel-drive options will be added to several existing cars as well. Finally, Ferrari was there to say they’d sell exactly as many cars in 2018 as they will this year. While perhaps not the kind of thing to say to investors, that does mean they’re keeping Ferrari exclusive and not in a scramble to sell whatever they can to whoever they can (cough BMW cough). They did however say a new model will be revealed every year until 2018, each with a four-year life cycle and an “M version”. The last M I can recall seeing on a Ferrari was the F430 Scuderia 16M, so that could mean M is the new super special performance edition moniker for them. Unless that other BMW M puts a stop to it. So to wrap up this long-winded look into the future that FCA hopes to achieve, what, if anything, excites you the most about the next five years of our newest automobile corporation? [Source: Autoweek 1, 2]

Maserati Alfieri confirmed for production

alfieri The one announcement from FCA’s investor meeting thing that got the internet excited the most was Maserati’s announcement that the breathtaking Alfieri concept we saw at the Geneva motor show this year will be headed to production. Along with the initial announcement they also dropped some early info on it to get us even more excited for it. The very Italian 2+2 will feature a Ferrari-sourced V6 of some sort and the option of rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. In a not very Italian manner, the RWD Alfieri will be the least powerful at 410 horsepower while the AWD Alfieri will have 450 horsepower or 520 horsepower depending on the engine of choice. By 2018, only a handful of high-powered versions of the bigger cars will be left with V8s, including the GranTurismo (which the Alfieri will not replace), Quattroporte, Ghibli, and that SUV thing. I think most enthusiasts can live with a V6 in their Alfieri, but the preliminary decision to give the AWD model the better engines might piss off some fans. alfieri2 If it looks anything like the concept though, it should still be one of the prettiest cars on the road when it emerges in 2016. A cabriolet Alfieri will follow in 2017. [Source: Maserati via Autoweek]  

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