With this in mind the ordinary family saloon buyer looking to cut costs may consider the Exeo a wise choice. Indeed, the 2.0 TDI PS Sport we tested costs £19,230 whereas the equivalent Audi A4 TDI retails at £23,425 - over £4,000 more expensive.
This car, however, is based on the previous-generation A4, first built in 2001. It's not a cynical rebadging exercise, though: Seat has taken the trouble of changing 30% of the parts.
It's not a direct rival to the current A4 anyway - it's taking on the likes of the Ford Mondeo and the Vauxhall Insignia, and it's hard not to be seduced by the thought that you are getting Audi quality for Seat money. Prices start at £17,735 for the generously equipped entry-level Exeo and that's pretty competitive when you compare it the base-spec Mondeo which starts at just over £17,390. It's here the Exeo starts to make sense.
The Exeo uses the new generation of Volkswagen engines so it's not been short-changed. The old noisy, lethargic and unrefined pumpe duse diesel engines makes way for a torquey 2.0-litre common-rail engine and there's also a smooth-revving 2.0-litre in the line-up. So are you really getting Audi quality at Mondeo money? Read on to find out.
The mechanicals and exterior quality should stand the test of time if customer satisfaction surveys are a guide. In the 2008 JD Power Survey the A4 finished 20th out of 100 models - not bad- but Seat finished 21st out of 28 brands - not particularly good. Still, we think the A4 result gives a more accurate picture for the Exeo.
We tested the 140bhp diesel and came away extremely impressed with the low-down pull - the maximum torque of 236lb-ft is delivered as low as 1,750rpm, ideal for A-road cruising and more than adequate for town driving. It will take you from 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds and then all the way up to a top speed of 133mph and that's on par with a similar powered Ford Mondeo and even a BMW 3-Series.
The 170bhp does 0-60mph in 8.4 seconds with a top speed of 142mph and the petrol will complete the benchmark sprint in 7.3 seconds and top out at 149mph.
Handling-wise the Exeo is pretty predictable: dynamically it's not in the same league as the Mondeo and 3-Series, but it's acceptable and you'd have to be a picky travelling salesman to start complaining to the fleet manager about it. Turn in and the car will respond nicely - it's not prone to too much body lean because the springs are rather firm. But it feels safe and secure and it's only when you are charging into a corner that you'll start to experience any levels of understeer.
The old A4's steering didn't feel particularly precise but the new Servotronic power has helped things on the Exeo. There's a bit more weight now to give you more confidence behind the wheel.
The brakes have a nice progressive feel but the gearchange is fractionally notchy at times, particularly if you are going down from third to second.
Stability control with electronic brake assist is standard as are front, side, and passenger airbags. Front active head restraints are also standard-fit.
An alarm and immobiliser are also included on the Seat Exeo's standard equipment list.
Insurance will be affordable since the diesel models in groups 12 and 13. A group 14 rating for the high-powered petrol version should keep premiums low.
You won't pay a king's ransom if you choose the Exeo as a company car: Benefit-in-Kind rates are pegged at 19 % for the 140bhp diesel, 21% for the 170bhp diesel and a very affordable 23% for the petrol model.
Fire up the Exeo and there's a slight sense of disappointment. The common rail diesel engine is noisy and rumbly, which is especially tiresome when you're pootling around town. It does settle down once you get up to motorway speeds, though.
The ride, although fidgety at times, is compliant and nicely balanced to give you reasonable comfort levels when cruising. The driving position is a little low but the seats are comfy and there's plenty of legroom and headroom available in the front and the back. Wind and road noise is well contained.
You can fold the rear seats down to get more space from the 460-litre boot. We stuck three golf bags in there with no problem with two rear seats folded down.
Base models get stability control, cruise control, electric windows and mirrors, split-folding rear seats, CD player and climate control.
The 140bhp 2.0-litre diesel will be the pick of the bunch and we expect it to retain between 38-40% of its original value after three years/36,000 miles. That trumps the 2.0-litre diesel Ford Mondeo's 35% residual value.
The new 3.0-litre diesel is the pick of the Jaguar XF range. How can it not be? It's relatively low on emissions, it'll return 42mpg and the 271bhp version sprints from 0 to 62mph in just 6.4 seconds and then all the way up to a limited 155mph.
So why bother with a thirsty V8? The new £49,900 5.0-litre is also limited to 155mph, only beats the diesel to the 62mph benchmark by only 0.6s but can't come close to matching the 3.0-litre's fuel consumption managing a distinctly unimpressive 25.2mpg.
Factor in an additional £5,700 premium and the 380bhp 5.0 looks like an unnecessary luxury - until you consider the price of the XFR. At £10k less than the high performance XF, the 5.0-litre offers a lot of bang for your bucks.
I'm quite certain that somewhere right now, emotionally shattered BMW technicians are gathering in a church basement for a support group, huddled around the cookies and the coffee urn, their hands fairly vibrating with frustration. For as well deserved as is the title Ultimate Driving Machine, BMWs also have earned the reputation as the Ultimate Hangar Queen, taking up residence in dealership service bays and sending mechanics over the crumbling edge of insanity. Hello -- sob! -- my name is Dieter and I'm a BMW tech . . . . Hello, Dieter, keep comin' back. . . .
Yes, BMWs have middling initial quality and distinctly less-than-middling reliability -- so sayeth J.D. Power -- but people still buy them and adore them, because they are inarguably spectacular cars. Even the BMWs that I loathe are great cars. The new 135i is uglier than a Radcliffe glee club, but it's also fierce, fervid, delicious, a bottle of Bollinger that's lost its cork.
And then there's this car, the 2009 BMW 750Li, the flagship of BMW's starfleet, which might be -- one hates to draw lines in this particular sand -- the best luxury sedan in the world. Oh, sure, it could be better. It could run on the tears of disgraced CEOs or cure warts of the keister. But as an executive saloon, as a synthesis of power and grace and ease and prestige, the new 7-series demands that we reset our calipers, raise our ceilings and throw out our measuring sticks. There is now a new standard.
And yet, the 750Li boldly/daringly/foolishly leverages its greatness on the fulcrum of one of the company's perennial weaknesses: electronics. This car comprises a blazing amour fou of control modules, sensors, microcontrollers, solenoids and mechatronic actuators, all wired together with the CAN-bus network from hell.
Our fully optioned $110,170 test car provides an acute example. Among the systems: night vision display with enhanced pedestrian detection; active blind-spot detection; lane-departure warning; park-distance control; head-up display; adaptive headlights with high-beam "assistant"; three high-resolution cameras on the rear deck lid and front fenders.
Of course, there's an 80-gigabyte, hard-drive-based navigation system, satellite radio and premium audio system; and a completely redesigned version of the multifunction iDrive controller (the previous system was nicknamed "iQuit").
My favorite? The integral active steering system, which is to say, rear-wheel steering. Below 40 miles per hour, the rear wheels can turn as much as 3 degrees opposite the direction of the front wheels, thereby reducing the big car's turning radius. Great for parking and tight city traffic. Above 40 mph, the wheels turn in phase with the front wheels to increase handling responsiveness, cornering and agility.
Does integral active steering perform as advertised? Has Hasselhoff had work? This car runs like mighty winged Pegasus, carving mountain roads and dicing switchbacks as if it were an M3 with a pituitary problem. No big car has ever had so much rail-to-rail slaloming agility, such effortless composure at the limit. It's uncanny, it's eerie, it's surreal.
Indeed, the effect of all these electronics is to knit together a kind of digitized meta-reality where the surly bonds of physics have slipped a bit, a place where this enormous, heavy sedan can dance like a sports car. Think of it like the world of "The Matrix," inside of which Keanu Reeves can fly, or act.
And so we arrive at the truest portrait of the 750Li: half machine, half machine code; a kinetic sculpture, partly aluminum and steel, partly a stream of zeros and ones. Wonderful, epic, historic.
But can you trust it?
I really don't know. On the one hand, I'm utterly smitten by the technology. I love piloting a leather-lined spaceship with a 20-way adjustable captain's chair with heating/cooling and massage function.
There are moments on the interstate at night -- when the ghostly thermal-imaging night-vision display is on, the head-up display is reading out navigation messages, the lane-departure warning system is gently reminding me to use my turn signals, and all is bathed in serene LED cabin light -- that the 750Li really feels like something that comes after the Automobile.
Still, I'm nagged by doubt. All of these exotic systems, such as the head-up display (Nippon Seiki), lane-change warning (Hella) and night vision (Autoliv) come from suppliers in Japan, Germany and Sweden, respectively. The 750Li is practically the U.N. of Tier 1 suppliers. Considering the state of global comity, a question occurs to me: Can they all get along?
Bear in mind, all of this gear is overlaid on the car's, the brand's already fraught electronics: the e-throttle-equipped 4.4-liter, 400-horsepower, twin-turbocharged V8 with variable valve timing on intake and exhaust cams; the adaptive six-speed ZF transmission; the adaptive dynamics system, which itself has four distinct modes (Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport+), which ratchet up performance thresholds for the engine, transmission, brakes, steering and stability control. The braking module governs anti-lock, traction and stability control, brake "drying," brake-fade compensation. . . . It just goes on and on.
What few buyers appreciate is how difficult systems integration is on a car like this. For the BMW 750Li to work, every system and subsystem has to mind-meld with the others in a cold chatter of instant, endless algorithms, faultlessly, every time, forever and ever, amen. No wonder they go buggy.
So when I say the 750Li is the best luxury sedan in the world, imagine a weather-balloon-size asterisk. I guess, as long as it starts, it is.
Advantage, suffering along with the rest of the sector from the weak economy and tight credit, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December. The company, which posted 2008 revenue of $146 million, has 20 locations, down from 140 at its peak.
Hertz hasn't been immune from those issues, having swung to a big fourth-quarter loss on charges. Revenue also fell 16% to $1.78 billion in the quarter. Just this week, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services lowered Hertz's long-term corporate credit rating two notches deeper into junk.
The car-rental industry has suffered as everyone cuts back on travel. The weak economy and credit crunch also have made it harder for rental-car companies to find buyers for their used automobiles and to secure financing to buy new ones. The industry is lobbying Congress to allow car-rental companies to use Troubled Asset Relief Program funds to finance new auto purchases.
Still, Hertz gains a brand aimed at price-sensitive customers in U.S. leisure destinations, showing how the recession has made it easier for bigger, stronger players to pick up distressed competitors.
The bankruptcy court will hold a hearing Friday, with Hertz expecting a close next Wednesday.
Hertz shares were unchanged in after-hours trading. They ended the regular session up 7.4% at $4.22.
"We probably won't come (to Maui) until June, if we can get a car over there," said John Farmer, of Portland, Ore., who visits Maui five times a year.
Farmer was planning a March visit but said cars were sold out at his usual rental agency, Alamo Rent A Car. He also couldn't find cars at National Car Rental and Avis Rent A Car. Hertz Rent A Car was offering a rental at $500 a week, which Farmer said was too much to pay so he canceled his trip.
Oahu resident John Naughton and his wife were trying to find a rental car on Maui in February so they could attend a special ceremony in Hana to remember the crew members of the Sarah Joe, a lost boat from Hana that Naughton found years later on a remote atoll.
"Several of us were trying to get over there and get cars. My wife and I had a big problem: We couldn't find cars anywhere," he said.
Naughton said his wife, who works in the travel business, called Hawaiian Airlines, which helped them get a rental from a national chain.
"I never had a problem before," he said.
Terryl Vencl, executive director of the Maui Visitors Bureau, said bureau officials are aware of the rental car shortage and are working on the problem.
"Obviously, visitors need a car in a destination such as Maui.We are hoping that the situation is remedied soon and always stand ready to assist if we can," she said.
Apparently, Maui isn't the only place where the rental car pool has shrunk. Rental car chains said it's also a trend elsewhere.
Alice Pereira, a spokeswoman for Avis and Budget Car Rental, said in an e-mail that, in response to lower demand, the companies have also decreased their fleets "everywhere, not just Maui."
"There's no secret that the economy has had a dramatic impact on tourism to the islands," said Chris Payne, senior manager of corporate communications for the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group. "With fewer vacationers, we've had no choice but to cut fleet in order to remain profitable and be able to serve customers to the area."
In an e-mail, Payne said Dollar Rent A Car Systems and Thrifty Car Rental decreased their fleets on Maui by a double-digit percentage, but he said he couldn't be more specific because such information is proprietary.
Adjustments to the fleet began in the second quarter of 2008, following and as a direct result of last year's shutdowns of Aloha Airlines and ATA, he said.
Payne compared the drop in business with falling hotel occupancy rates. But unlike hotels that can't "unload" rooms, car rental companies can lower their inventories and are fortunate to be able to make such "nimble adjustments," Payne said.
"If we had not cut fleet consistent with decreased traffic, we would have had to dramatically cut pricing to the point that it would have a negative impact on our business," he wrote.
"Our fleet size is continually adjusted to correlate to customer demand," wrote Laura Bryant, a spokeswoman for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which also owns National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car. "In addition, we are positioned for - and committed to - future growth in Maui."
Alamo plans to launch service on Molokai in June and hire locally for the operation, said Alamo Vice President and General Manager Paul Kopel.
A Hertz official did not respond to an inquiry last week.
Kim Schauman of Oahu received rides from friends and borrowed cars after she couldn't find a rental car on Maui over the President's Day weekend in February.
"I was really surprised to not be able to find a car to rent on Maui, especially since all reports pointed to lower-than-usual hotel occupancy rates," she said via e-mail.
She said she tried Hotwire.com and searched for cars on Dollar, Hertz and Alamo Web sites, but found nothing. A smaller rental car company, Word of Mouth Rent-A-Car, was also booked, she said.
Schauman found a flight-and-car package with Hawaiian Airlines, but it would cost her $158 plus tax to rent a car for a day. That was too expensive, she said.
Schauman, who is with the nonprofit group Hawai'i Council for the Humanities, was heading to Maui to attend the opening of the exhibit "Key Ingredients: America by Food" at Maui Community College.
"If I had just wanted to travel to Maui for vacation, I probably would have canceled my plans when I couldn't find a car to rent," she said.
Farmer warns that the lack of rental cars could be another hit for Maui's visitor industry, which is already suffering.
"People won't come over if they can't get a car," he said.
Congress is developing legislation that would provide vouchers to consumers who trade in their gas guzzlers and buy more fuel-efficient vehicles. Modeled after successful programs in Europe, the bills before both chambers of Congress are designed to get more gas-sipping cars on the road and boost auto sales, which dropped more than 40 percent among the Big Three carmakers in March.
While used-car buyers are eligible for vouchers under some versions of the proposal, other versions exclude them.
"More people will be able to participate in the program, more jobs will be saved, and more fuel-efficient vehicles will end up on the road by including used vehicles," Tom Folliard, the company's chief executive, said in a news release.
CarMax said its inventory currently includes more than 12,500 vehicles with more than 24 miles per gallon on the highway, which meets the fuel efficiency targets in the some of the legislative proposals.
Congressional leaders have signaled support for some type of car scrappage program and lawmakers are trying to develop a compromise that could win approval in both chambers.
With General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC surviving on billions in government aid and few takers at car dealerships, lawmakers have been trying to develop incentives to help the auto industry and respond to environmental groups that want better fuel efficiency in the vehicle fleet.
Analysts have estimated it could boost car sales by 750,000 to 1 million vehicles a year.
But in a recent note Credit Suisse analyst Gary Balter said while he doesn't see a recovery in car sales, either new or used, in the foreseeable future, the proposed legislation could eat into CarMax's sales.
In the Senate, Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Schumer want to give consumers a voucher for $2,500 to $4,500 to buy a new vehicle with better fuel efficiency. The older vehicle eligible for scrapping would need to get less than 18 miles per gallon.
The Senate version, which would apply to automobiles built around the globe, would also provide vouchers of up to $3,000 for used vehicles or credits of up to $3,000 for transit fares.
In the House, Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, wants to give car shoppers $3,000 to $5,000 when they turn in a vehicle for something more efficient. The program would be limited to cars built in North America and require the new car to get at least 27 miles per gallon.
(14.04.2009 Munich) BMW is extending its range of security vehicles by an additional model in a new protection class.
The BMW X5 Security Plus complies with the requirements of bullet resistance class 6 (APR 2006), bringing versatile mobility and comprehensive protection against criminal assault into line with each other.
It is the first vehicle produced by a high-volume manufacturer to offer a security concept aimed at lessening the danger of attacks using the world's most widely used handgun of the type AK 47.
The vehicle, which was developed on the basis of the successful BMW X5 Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV), offers room for up to four persons inside an exceptionally well-protected passenger cabin.
Moreover, its superior drive and suspension technology also allows the driver to cope effortlessly with demanding situations, both on the road and on rough terrain. With the BMW X5 Security Plus, BMW is defining a new benchmark in protection against crime on the road.
The security concept for the BMW X5 Security Plus focuses on its armoured passenger cabin. It guarantees excellent protection, including the use of high-performance steel moulded components and panels.
The body features sealed joints, which also provide protection in critical areas – e.g. between doors and frames as well as between side panels and pillars – thus preventing bullet or fragment penetration, as well as security glass conceived exclusively for this bullet resistance class. Furthermore, the windows resist attack using clubs, crowbars etc. and feature a polycarbonate coating that protects the interior from glass shatter.
BMW X5 Security Plus: Premiere for a new benchmark in security.
The BMW X5 Security Plus was tested in compliance with the BRV 1999 guideline for bullet-resistant vehicles and offers protection according to VPAM – APR 2006 in the bullet resistance class 6.
The professional protection concept for the new BMW X5 Security Plus is, inter alia, designed to combat criminal threats such as robbery, abduction or carjacking, however, additionally for employment in hot spots in which the AK 47 has become a typical firearm used by assailants.
The BMW X5 Security Plus offers comprehensive protection against these kind of attacks. Its security features were devised exclusively for this model and thoroughly tested within the framework of product development. The integration of the protective components was effected parallel to the series development of the BMW X5.
Effective protection as standard, perfectly tuned to the Sports Activity Vehicle.
Therefore, like all other BMW security vehicles, the BMW X5 Security Plus also offers comprehensive protection as standard. As opposed to retrofitted armour plating, BMW security vehicle assembly guarantees that all components are perfectly adapted to each specific model and, in addition, correspond the stringent BMW quality assurance guidelines.
Assembly of the BMW X5 Security Plus is effected parallel to the production vehicle at the Spartanburg plant in South Carolina/USA. The installation of protective features is performed in accordance with BMW processes at the Toluca plant (Mexico).
BMW's more than 30 years of experience in security vehicle construction is apparent both in the development and the production of the BMW X5 Security Plus.
The standard security features of the BMW X5 Security Plus include, in addition to the effective armour plating, distinctive technical attributes that provide assistance in dealing with hazardous situations. An intercom system facilitates communication with persons outside the vehicle, without having to open doors or windows. The hold-up alarm ensures that windows and doors lock automatically.
Furthermore, acoustic and visual alarm signals are emitted. The system's control elements are located behind a panel on the centre console. Optional features include a rear view camera which transmits its images to the control display of the iDrive operating system located on the dashboard, providing assistance during reversing.
The camera of the side view system integrated into the front bumper offers a detailed overview of what is going on in front of the vehicle. For example, when leaving a multi-storey car park or driving through narrow gateways, it is possible to identify cross traffic in good time.
Furthermore, the standard features of the BMW X5 Security Plus also include bi-xenon headlights with adaptive cornering light. These ensure optimum visibility thanks to a light beam that follows the course of the bend. In addition, this cornering light function ensures premature illumination of the road ahead when changing direction at road junctions or driveways.
Agile and safe on any terrain.
Over and above the outstanding level of security, the BMW X5 Security Plus also impresses with the highest degree of comfort, first-class handling and extremely sporty road performance.
Thanks to its generous interior, its powerful eight-cylinder engine and intelligent four-wheel drive BMW xDrive, it is adequately equipped both for everyday traffic as well as for situations requiring fast and flexible response.
The 4.8-litre V8 power unit of the BMW X5 Security Plus delivers an output of 261 kW/355 bhp and a maximum torque of 475 Nm achieved at an engine speed of 3,400 rpm. The BMW X5 Security Plus accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.2 seconds and top speed is electronically limited to 180 km/h.
Thanks to its intelligent four-wheel drive system xDrive, the BMW X5 Security Plus is not restricted to driving on tarmac alone, but can also cope confidently with problematic off-road terrain.
The cross-linking of the four-wheel drive with the stability control system DSC within the Integrated Chassis Management system (ICM) facilitates distribution of power that is optimally and precisely adapted to each driving situation. Taking into consideration the data supplied by the DSC sensors, iDrive transfers power at lightning speed to the wheels with the best traction.
The suspension featured by the BMW X5 Security Plus is perfectly adapted to the increased weight. For this purpose, specific suspension components such as springs and dampers have been employed and the software for suspension management has been adapted to the unique characteristics of a security vehicle.
In order to further enhance superiority in demanding situations, the BMW X5 Security Plus features as standard a high-performance brake system, speed-dependent Active Steering and the Adaptive Drive system, comprising active anti-roll control and variable damper adjustment.
In addition, the BMW X5 Security Plus boasts tyres with emergency running properties. This ensures that the tyres remain functional even after a total loss of pressure, e.g. after being shot at or after running over sharp or pointed objects. When the vehicle is partially loaded, they permit safe driving over a distance of around 150 kilometres at a speed of up to 80 km/h.
A further advantage of the protection concept available ex factory is the neutrally designed integration of all security components. Even to the practiced eye, security vehicles built by BMW can hardly be distinguished from corresponding production models.
This does justice to customer demands for discretion and also provides passengers with a higher level of security.
At the same time BMW offers its customers comprehensive global support. This ranges from discreet consulting and all-round service to the supply of spare parts. All security vehicles are designed to facilitate maintenance and repair at regular BMW garages. The service also includes a company-owned pool comprising security and high-security vehicles.
Moreover, BMW provides special security vehicle driver training. These courses, which BMW has conducted for more than 20 years now, are offered at various grades, depending on the participants' previous knowledge, and are held at several different locations worldwide.
These training courses are conducted by highly qualified experts. The contents range from comprehensive theoretical tuition and practical vehicle handling to instruction on tactical behaviour.
● SLK55 AMG
● SL63 AMG
SL63 AMG，输出525马力，百公里加速4.6秒，最快时速可达250公里。虽然SL63 AMG一直没有引进，但我们对它并不陌生：它是世界上唯一能走在一级方式赛车前面的车，既2008赛季后，2009赛季SL63 AMG还将继续担任F1的安全车。4月17日-19号上海站结束之后，在紧接其后的20号车展上会不会来一个近距离接触也未尝可知，但非常有可能。
● C63 AMG
C63 AMG上海车展后很快就会引入中国市场。一旦引入，输出457马力，百公里加速4.5秒，最快时速可达250公里的C63 AMG 将成为M3的有力竞争对手。