sobota, 14 maja 2011

Official: VW celebrates GTI anniversary with 232-hp Edition 35

The Volkswagen GTI is the king of the hot hatches. Sure, there are more powerful, better-driving cars in the segment, but Volkswagen's hot Golf kicked off this niche of flingable sport compacts back in the mid-1970s, and it's quickly grown to become one of our favorite vehicle classes. When it comes to fun per dollar, you just can't beat a hot hatch.

To celebrate the 35th birthday of the Golf GTI, Volkswagen has created this, the 35 Edition, which goes on sale in Germany this week. Visually, the 35 Edition is set apart by a unique front bumper, special wheels, and '35' badging on the door sills and seats. The most important upgrade, however, is the substantial boost in power over the normal GTI – 25 horsepower – for a grand total of 235 hp.

Volkswagen hasn't said a word about availability here in the United States just yet, but we're keeping our fingers crossed. The Golf GTI 35 Edition makes its official debut at the infamous GTI Meet in Wörthersee, Germany, on June 1st.

Official: PSA: Audi to unveil A6 Avant in live video event.

The last time we heard anything about the upcoming A6 Avant, our spy photographers were braving brutal winter cold to snag a few heavily camouflaged photos of the luxury long roof. Now Audi has confirmed that it will pull the sheets off of the vehicle during a live television broadcast that will also be streamed on the interwebs for all to enjoy. The event will take place on Wednesday, May 18 at 8 p.m. CEST at the Humboldt Box in Berlin, though something tells us that you'll need to know a guy who knows a guy to get an invite.

The rest of us plebes can sit back and take in the whole affair from the comfort of our keyboard by watching the live stream here. Apple fans can also watch the unveil on their iPhone by using the AudiMedia App. Hit the jump for the press blast.

First Drive: 2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe

Enthusiasts, BMW has your car.

After painfully watching for years as the automaker's beloved M lineup ballooned in both size and weight – even adding sport utility vehicles – the German's have delivered us a new little jewel. It's not another derivative of the race-bred M3, the highly anticipated next-generation M5 or a sneak preview of the future M6. Instead, this little shot of driving ecstasy comes in the guise of the lowly 1 Series – the entry-level BMW.

BMW invited us to its headquarters in New Jersey for our first driving impressions. Instead of death-by-PowerPoint, the traditional manner of new vehicle introduction, they immediately handed us the key fob to a brand-new 1 Series M Coupe along with a paper map. Our assignment was to drive the back roads for the next two hours to Monticello Motorsports Park, the private racing circuit outside New York City. After extended hot laps followed by lunch, we'd polish the marbles off the tire treads with a drive back to Montvale before a six-hour flight back home.

It reportedly took BMW M GmbH engineers two years to develop the new 1 Series M Coupe. While the basic platform is an E82 1 Series, the 1M Coupe boasts a full complement of tuned E92 M3 componentry, including major suspension components, brake rotors, brake calipers, alloy wheels, tire size, exterior mirrors and the M Variable Differential Lock. The borrowed underpinnings from the slightly larger M3 didn't exactly fit within the constraints of the compact 1 Series body, so the engineers flared the fenders on all four corners (the 1M Coupe is 2.1 inches wider than the standard 135i Coupe). Those fat flares look plenty aggressive, but they also kill the vehicle's aerodynamic signature (bringing it up to .37 Cd.). To help reduce drag, BMW has fitted its Air Curtain System to the lower front fascia to channel smooth air around the front wheels. It helps only slightly.

The cockpit is configured with M Sport Seats (with adjustable side and thigh bolsters), a meaty M3 leather steering wheel, Boston leather upholstery and Alcantara trim with contrasting orange stitching and an anthracite headliner. There is no moonroof offered – the sliding glass was replaced with a solid steel roof to save weight (a reported 35 pounds) and lower the center of gravity with the added benefit of offering front seat occupants more head/helmet room.

BMW is keeping things simple by only offering black leather upholstery inside one of three exterior colors: Valencia Orange Metallic, Black Sapphire Metallic and Alpine White. There are just two option packages. The optional Convenience Package adds alarm, comfort access, parking sensors and navigation. The Premium Package adds auto-dimming mirrors, power front seats, lumbar support, ambiance lighting, BMW Assist, Bluetooth phone connectivity and iPod/USB adaptor. Stand-alone options include heated front seats, satellite radio and an upgraded Harmon Kardon audio package.