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Auto blogMon, 24 Mar 2014 14:16:00 EST
Sales of salt are skyrocketing following the latest rumor of the planned joint-venture sports car from Toyota and BMW. The whisperings indicate that project will spawn both a replacement for the BMW Z4 and a long-awaited Toyota Supra successor based on the FT-1 Concept shown above. Word is that the new cars will feature front-engine, all-wheel-drive layouts with plug-in hybrid technology. This news would appear to run somewhat counter to earlier reports that BMW and Toyota are teaming for a six-figure hybrid supercar.
According to Autocar, the project will benefit from the experience Toyota gained with the TS030, its hybridized Le Mans prototype. The evidence for this is, of all things, a Toyota Yaris - in particular, the Yaris Hybrid R that was shown at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show last September. That car used a 300-horsepower, 1.6-liter gas engine, while a pair of 60-horsepower electric motors provided all-wheel-drive push (an additional motor also sent additional juice to the front axle). The 414-system-horsepower drivetrain used supercapacitors in place of the traditional lithium-ion batteries of traditional hybrids.
For the production sports cars, Autocar claims that the Yaris Hybrid R's setup will serve as the basis for the new powertrain, although it won't be a direct carryover. Instead, a 2.0-liter BMW engine will be paired with Toyota-designed, BMW-built motors.
Alpina has been lovingly modifying BMWs for half a century, but as we learned during a tour of the company's HQ in Buchloe, Germany, Alpina has been in the wine distribution business for nearly as long. The company has an estimated million bottles on reserve in two warehouses and a beautiful wine cellar/tasting room on property in western Bavaria, just yards from where its 1,500 hand-crafted automobiles per year are produced.
What does that have to do with the new B6 Gran Coupe? Well, it may help make sense of the overall character of Alpina's automobiles, especially vis-à-vis the similarly priced, similarly powerful M Cars that BMW sells in far greater numbers. Alpinas are built by wine connoisseurs for wine connoisseurs, or wine connoisseur types; they are not rip-snortin' racecars for the road - that's M's domain. Alpinas are esoteric, rich in character and nuanced. But make no mistake: they are very, very fast.
Our brief first drive of the B6 Gran Coupe - the only 6 Series-based Alpina we'll get in the US for 2015 - took place on German autobahns and Austrian alpine roads, where the car is more at home than anywhere in the world, both literally and figuratively. With 540 horsepower and 540 pound-feet of torque on tap from its twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 and xDrive all-wheel drive, the B6 is said to be able to hit 60 miles per hour in 3.7 seconds on its way to a top speed of 198 mph, a massive 43 mph faster than the M6, which is electronically limited to 155 mph. Yet even at insane speeds - we saw an indicated 190 mph on one particularly lonely stretch of Autobahn - the B6 feels more luxurious than sporty, taking the countenance of a low-slung Bentley Continental GT or an Aston Martin Rapide S, not a knife-edged supercar. It doesn't feel scintillating like a Porsche 911 GT2; rather it feels rock steady, like the 4,780-pound luxury sedan it is.
Don't speed. Don't drive recklessly. Don't try to break the unofficial record for a lap of Manhattan. And if you go against this reasonable advice, do not, under any circumstances, record it and post the video on YouTube. If you do, you'll end up like Christopher Adam Tang - under arrest and facing a bevy of charges relating to the video.
Tang posted the video, which showed him lapping Manhattan in 24 minutes last Wednesday, and it quickly went viral. Now Tang, who went by the online moniker AfroDuck, is in cuffs. According to a local CBS affiliate, he was picked up at his home on Wednesday evening by police, who also seized the car used in the video, a 2006 BMW Z4.
What isn't clear is how Tang was caught. His video seems carefully done in that there are no outwardly visible signs that point to him, while the video itself is clearly sped up. While the NYPD hasn't come out and said that Tang was caught due to its extensive surveillance systems around the city, police commissioner Ray Kelly did point out that the new systems "will assist in this type of investigation." Let that serve as a warning to anyone that tries to break the 24-minute barrier. Scroll down to watch the full video.