Automotive manufacturers are continually trying to make their cars appealing to the masses and one popular way of doing this is by offering programs which allow customers to individualize their cars to not only make them more valuable, but to also make them perfectly suited to whatever paces the owners plan to put them through.
High end cars can be optioned with different kinds of leathers, carpets, and even stereo systems, but we’ve yet to see custom instrument panels being offered, until now. As part of the BMW 5-series ’ fairly large update released recently, the German brand is offering an option where all 5-series cars can be optioned out with a 10.25-inch LCD coming standard with Black Panel technology to make it as real as possible, by adding super-deep and crisp blacks.
The action however, kicks off as the driver can choose out of four different displays, where the information on the instrument panel changes as does the color, such as those backing the speedometer and tachometer.
The familiar BMW set-up comes standard, while the three remaining options are dubbed Comfort, Eco Pro, and Sport and each have their own customized functions with the Eco Pro set up displaying how efficiently the car is being driven, similar to other instrument panels fitted to hybrid and electric cars.
In a similar vein, while in Sport mode, the speed and gear selected in the car are featured prominently to help minimize the time the driver’s eyes are looking down, by displaying them through large numeric figures.
No details have been released about how much this optional extra will set prospecting buyers back, but $1000 - $2000 wouldn’t be out of the question.
The popularity of driving simulators has literally increased 10 fold with the ever-changing and advances in technology over the past few years and no, we’re not talking about your generic simulators such as Forza and Gran Turismo. We are actually referring to full-on simulators which offer you the best possible experience you can get this side of actually driving a car.
There are literally dozens of these systems offered in the market, and the vast majority of them simply feature a seat, pedals, steering wheel and a gearstick with a standard flat-screen television. However, if Motion Simulation and the masterminds at Ariel have their way, the face of racing simulators is set to change for the better, and we’re over the moon by the prospect.
In the brand new system offered by the pairing, you get a complete capsule to best replicate the feeling of driving a true sports car, such as the Ariel Atom and features three high-definition projectors offering a screen no less than 2 meters wide and home to seven million pixels. All up, this new system offers an unmatched 180 degree driving experience and can also be used for a variety of other compatible gaming uses.
Hit the jump to read more about the Ariel Atom simulator.
We all know about Google’s fleet of self-driving Prius’s, but there are few automakers actually close to creating a self-driving car. Well, that was until now. Cadillac has been steadily testing its self-driving car system and has remained somewhat tight lipped about it all. Just recently, Cadillac finally released some information, along with several videos.
According to Cadillac, this system, dubbed “Super Cruise,” is not complete self-driving, but more of a situational self-driving car. It uses features that are already included in the existing XTS and ATS vehicles and tweaks them to allow Super Cruise to drive the vehicle without any driver intervention on the interstate.
It uses features like rear automated braking, adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, blind spot alert, and automatic collision preparation in combination with the vehicle’s GPS system and electric power steering to actually keep the car driving at safe speeds and in its lane. It is set by simply picking the lane and speed you want to drive in, then clicking the “Cruise” button.
Once activated, this system senses other traffic all around it, as well as the lane the vehicle is traveling in, and makes mild adjustments as needed. It even will take the vehicle through turns on the highway without the driver touching the steering wheel.
A sweet feature on Cadillac’s Super Cruise is that it uses the front collision detection system to measure the speed of the car in front of you. It then adjusts its speed to remain the prescribed two seconds behind that car. It will even bring the car to a complete stop and re-accelerate to the set speed, or the speed of traffic, all by itself, which makes it awesome for traffic jams.
There’s only one issue, it is not fully autonomous, but some drivers may treat it like such. You cannot just kick back and read the paper, as your Caddy drives you to work. It’s still a good start anyways.
GM expects to start rolling out versions of Super Cruise “In the coming years.”
Not all of us are quite privileged enough to be able to lump down enough money to import a 2012 BMW M5 into the U.S., nor are we all patient enough to await the 2013 release of the new M5. This means we are stuck with videos from people like the fine folks over at Bimmerpost.
One of the new features on the 2012 M5 , which will likely be a part of the M5 when it hits U.S. showrooms for the 2013 model year, is the Active Sound system. This is a system that is integrated with the stereo system and pipes engine notes through the stereo’s speakers.
So, here is our dilemma… Is this new feature a cool trick or simply a useless gimmick that BMW is slapping on this ride to make it seem cooler? The folks at Bimmerpost saved the day again by providing us automotive nerds with audio of the 2012 M5 with the AS system active, then with it deactivated, which involves yanking a fuse that also disables the entire stereo system and the rear parking assistant.
After listening to the two audio clips, which you can do in the above video, we can certainly tell the difference between the actual engine sound and the digitized engine sound. While BMW did go to great lengths to help match the digi-engine with the real engine, it is really a disappointment. To some people it might be a cool feature, but real auto buffs want to hear the engine itself.
BMW could help us all out by putting an “On/Off” switch on this feature, without having to disable the entire audio system by pulling the fuse. This rings even more true with folks that add in aftermarket components to this already high-performance sedan. They want to hear the modified turbo whistle, blow-off valve, and exhaust note, not some synthesized version of the stock engine.
We call this a useless gimmick for now. Let us know how you feel in the comments section below!
When Chrysler first unveiled the all-new 2013 Dodge Dart , it was met by a lot of industry and enthusiast grumbling, as it paid zero homage to its original rendition. As more details come out on the 2013 Dart, we are all starting to come around to this little Italian Dodge . The latest release is that the 2013 Dart will be the first vehicle ever to feature a cell phone charging pad as a factory option.
This 8.27-inch by 9.5-inch by 3.25-inch charging compartment is below the center stack and directly in front of the center console, which puts it in a place that most people would set their cell phone anyways. Basically, you place almost any smartphone in the special case, which comes with the optional charger, and set the case and phone in the charging compartment. Voila, no wires, no plugging things in and your phone starts charging.
This is especially convenient with those Darts with a manual transmission, as nothing puts a kink in your speed shifting like a cell phone charger wire wrapped around the shifter. The question is how much someone would pay for this option. Well, Chrysler has determined that this convenience is worth $199.99, plus dealer installation. The price may seem a little bit steep upon first glance, but think about how many times you have forgotten your car charger at home and desperately needed it or about how many of those universal charges you have bought that broke just a few weeks later. You have likely spent more than the fee for this component replacing broken chargers and buying chargers in desperation.
Let’s just add another positive to the 2013 Dart and Dodge’s 2013 lineup altogether, which is becoming more and more advanced seemingly every day.
When considering motorcycles, Suzuki is likely a brand that comes to mind. Their cars, on the other hand, nearly go unnoticed unless you are looking for specifically cheap transportation. They typically only account for a fraction of a percent of U.S. auto sales, but that fraction is a tight and very loyal market. Well, it looks like they are trying to dig themselves out of obscurity by adding high-end features to their vehicles.
Starting in the 2013 model year, nearly every Suzuki car, truck, and SUV will include a Garmin stereo system that will also include Pandora radio. With the internet taking over everything nowadays, it’s only expected that internet radio would make its way into more cars – heck, some cars now have a hard drive bigger than my desktop PC, seriously…
Pandora works a lot like satellite radio, as it is not broadcasted from terrestrial towers, but rather streamed through the internet. You can personalize your own station too, so there is no need to swap the station every time something you can’t stand comes blasting through the speakers.
There is no receiver or anything like that for Pandora radio, so this is really not costing Suzuki much, meaning the cost to you would be minimal, if anything. The Garmin radio connects to an iPhone, per Pandora, and the iPhone in turn receives the Pandora signal, broadcasting it through the radio. It makes us curious because Pandora radio also has an Android app, which means nearly any phone on the market can receive its signal. However, Pandora specifically mentions just the iPhone in its press release.
We are starting to wonder if iPhone and Garmin are maybe up to something, or did the Pandora rep just misspeak. For the sake of all Suzuki buyers that choose to use this service, we hope the latter is the truth. From our research, it looks like Garmin and Suzuki have apps for both Android and iPhone, so it was likely a mistake to just say “iPhone.”
Regardless of its connectivity, this is a step in the right direction towards Suzuki reeling in its direct competitors, Hyundai and Kia .
Hit the jump to read Pandora’s official press release.
With the 2012 London Olympics a little over three months away, the time has come for the Olympic torch to make its customary long journey on its way to the host site. On its way to London, the torch will pass through a plethora of environmental conditions so to ensure that the flame doesn’t get extinguished, BMW, a main sponsor of the 2012 Olympics, decided to lend its wind tunnel facility to test the toughness of the torch.
The BMW Energy and Environmental Test Center is located in Munich, Germany and is as high-tech a facility as they come. It features three wind tunnels and two climatic test rooms that can simulate temperatures from a freezing -4F all the way up to a scorching 131F. On top of the temperature simulation, the facility can also replicate weather conditions the torch could potentially face in certain locations. Be it wind speeds of up to 174 mph, pouring rain, or snowy conditions, BMW’s Energy and Environmental Test Centre has it covered.
So how did the Olympic torch manage when it was tested in the BMW facility? The UK’s ITV1 dedicated a segment to show the entire testing procedure, which you can watch after the jump.
More than any other day in the calendar year, April 1st requires a lot of us to be on our p’s and q’s to differentiate the legitimate news events from the ones that have, shall we say, mischief written all over them.
This one appears to be the latter.
Peugeot UK has come out with a video highlighting their latest revolutionary concept: "mood paint." Described as a reactive paint that changes its color depending on your emotions, the mood paint was developed by Peugeot technicians who used psychochromatic coating to alter the molecular structure of the paint to emit light at varying wavelengths. From there, heat sensors were put on the Peugeot RCZ’ s steering wheel, which then reads the driver’s body temperature and pulse rate to change the car’s body color.
According to Vince Clisham, Peugeot’s project manager, the mood paint is a "world first for motoring."
"To have developed a paint that accurately reflects the emotion of the driver, will no doubt have our competitors green with envy," he adds.
Check out the video of Peugeot’s mood paint demonstration and tell us if this is legit or an April Fools prank from the French automaker.
Of the few lucky and skilled enough to compete in motor racing, the feeling of getting your juices up during a race is something that very few things in this world can replicate. But for the rest of us that can’t handle a race car, watching races live or on television poses as the next best thing.
And then there’s GoPro , a company that wants to redefine the way we watch races. In these videos, GoPro attaches their tiny little HD Hero2 cameras on the ALMS race cars piloted by Gunnar Jeannette and Ken Dobson, showing us what kind of high-action racing we all should be watching on our screens.
The camera angles are amazing, for lack of a better way to describe it. The multitude of camera angles give us a totally new way of appreciating the thrills of racing, right down to the angle experienced by the pit lane mechanics.
Check out the videos GoPro released and there’s a good chance, you’ll start clamoring for these kind of up-close views on the next televised races you watch.
Riding in the backseat of a vehicle for mile after monotonous mile can be very boring, and we all know the feeling. Maybe it was when you were a child going on family vacations. Maybe it was this morning in the carpool lane. Maybe your children have now been passed the boredom torch. Well, now, General Motors is looking to change all that.
GM’s newest project, Windows of Opportunity(WOO), is a revolutionary new concept being worked on by students and researchers at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Israel. The goal is to give the backseat passengers something to do by making the rear windows virtually touchscreen computers using "smart glass" technology. Imagine driving through a long stretch of unchanging desert and being able to change the scenery to, say, New York City. Or maybe you would prefer playing an interactive game with passing vehicles. Maybe you just want to draw pictures on the window, in color! GM is hoping this will all be possible one day through a series of apps accessed by the touchscreen rear window.
WOO was inspired by studies suggesting that rear seat passengers feel disconnected from their environment. GM has no immediate plans to implement this technology into vehicles, but, for us, it can’t come quick enough. Some of us have little ones in the backseat and DVDs only work for so long! This, we think, would be a much welcomed feature in future vehicles.
Check out the video above and let us know what you think of WOO.