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Auto blogThu, 16 May 2013
Before we know it, the BMW 1 Series will be no more in the United States. Well, sort of. The current six-year-old coupe and convertible will be replaced by the fancy new 2 Series you see here, spotted completely uncovered during a photo shoot, with the 1 Series nomenclature being reserved for the hatchback and GT models that might not ever make it Stateside.
The roofline of the new 2 Series doesn't appear to have to changed all that much from the current 1 Series coupe, but the front and rear fascias have indeed been smoothed out. (Truth time: As much as your author adores the 1 Series, he's always found its rear end to be, well, weird.) It looks good, seen here in M235i guise, with large wheels, slimmer headlamps and large air intakes on either side of the front fascia.
The 2 Series is expected to come to the States, likely in M235i and 228i variants, though rumors suggest that we won't get a non-M 235i model. The M235i is expected to be powered by the N55 turbocharged inline-six that we currently enjoy in the 335i sedan, producing something like 320 horsepower. The 228i, unsurprisingly, should use the 2.0-liter turbo-four from the 328i, making around 240 hp. Both engines will almost certainly employ eight-speed automatic transmissions and six-speed manuals.
Wed, 16 Oct 2013
The National Highway Traffic Administration is considering the use of ignition interlocks in vehicles that would require the seatbelts of occupied seats to be fastened in order to drive the car, Automotive News reports, four decades after Congress moved to prevent manufacturers from installing them in cars sold in the US market. Following a transportation bill passed last year that lift some of the restrictions on seatbelt interlocks, automakers such as BMW are considering the benefits of using them in future cars. Now, before you go crying about your lost freedom, keep reading.
BMW said in an October 2012 petition that the use of seatbelt interlocks would allow the company to make lighter and more spacious vehicles, if the devices could be used in lieu of unbelted crash tests. The crash test has required the addition of bulky safety features, such as knee bolsters, that aren't as necessary when occupants are buckled up, especially when considering the dizzyng list of safety features that come standard on today's cars. Europe, which has a higher rate of seatbelt use than in the US, doesn't perform unbelted crash tests on cars sold there.
Our friends at Popular Mechanics have announced the winners of their 2013 Breakthrough Awards, which honor innovations and new technologies in a variety of fields, ranging from medicine to electronics to space travel. Among the winners were a pair of automakers.
The BMW i3 was named one of PM's product breakthroughs, and while the diminutive city car has a range comparable to other electrics, Popular Mechanics was impressed the i3's use of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, which allows the i3 to tip the scales at just 2,800 pounds. But the i3's space-age materials wouldn't have been such a smash if it were priced beyond what the general public could afford. BMW's ability to offer a vehicle with such an advanced construction for around $42,000 (nearly half the price of the Cadillac ELR and only about $7,000 more than a Chevrolet Volt or Ford Focus Electric) is wildly impressive and speaks volumes about the future of ultra-light composites in the auto industry.
The other big winner comes from General Motors, which was named an Innovator this year for its semi-autonomous Super Cruise technology that's currently being tested on a Cadillac SRX. The technology, which we've reported on before, combines adaptive cruise control and lane centering into a super system that will allow hands-free driving under certain conditions.