sports car

BMW debuts X4 compact crossover

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SO you want the BMW X6 but think it’s too big for you? Well, the German carmaker has the perfect solution: Put the midsize crossover under a shrink ray to produce the X4 compact crossover.

At 4,671mm long, the X4 is just 14mm longer than the X3 but, at 1,624mm high, is 36mm lower to the ground “and cuts a dynamic profile with its perfectly balanced proportions and distinctive sporting character.”

Although the X4 is based on the same platform as the X3, it does have a character of its own. The large air intakes on the front corners, for example, not only give the vehicle a muscular and agile appearance, but also lower the car’s center of gravity visually. In addition, the coupe-like roofline reaches its apex over the front seats, supposedly reflecting BMW’s traditional driver focus on its vehicles, before it drops toward the boot lid.

Inside, the X4’s driver-focused cabin has electroplated accents, high-gloss black panels, and aluminum strip in the wood paneling to give it a luxurious ambience.

The X4 will be made available with three gasoline engines and three diesel powerplants, all Euro 6-compliant, including the X4 xDrive20d’s new-generation 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engine, paired with an eight-speed Steptronic transmission.  Delivery of the BMW X4 to global dealerships will begin in July this year.

Ford Mustang Goes Hi-Tech

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Ford Motor Co. has packed the redesigned Mustang with new technologies to boost its global appeal.

The 2015 model is equipped with a standard backup camera and push-button ignition; cross-traffic alert, which warns drivers of oncoming traffic when backing out of parallel and perpendicular parking spaces; forward collision warning; and adaptive cruise control.

Drivers also will be able to individually monitor the pressure of each tire on the cluster for the first time, and toggle through four selectable driving modes that fit them best.

To top it off, the Mustang will be the first Ford vehicle available with the next generation of the AppLink smart phone connectivity system.

The 2015 Mustang goes on sale in the fall.

But even with a plethora of new gadgets to give it a global shine, Ford made sure the Mustang retained its essence, Scott Lindstrom, Ford’s driver assist technologies manager, said during a Mustang tech briefing today.

“Mustang has always been a great car, always had a big V-8, always been fun to drive, but as we looked to make it a truly global sports car we recognized we really had to add some technology,” Lindstrom said. “Right now, it’s definitely the most technologically advanced Mustang we ever made.”

Steve Ling, Ford car marketing manager, said the technology on the new Mustang is all driver-focused.

The Track Apps feature, a set of applications in the instrument cluster that collects performance data, has been given a global touch. The system, available since 2013, now has a metric system translator. Track Apps comes standard in the Mustang EcoBoost and GT.

Jon Ohland, a Ford electrical systems engineer, said Track Apps “provides an indication to the driver of how the vehicle is performing, and it also can give an indication of when the vehicle performance is degrading or improving.” (Vince Bond Jr./ Automotive News)

Volvo Gets Serious On Driver Sensing Tech

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Volvo has always been known for its stance on car safety. Whether that’s through headrests, airbags or seatbelts, or simply building cars tougher than the objects they’re likely to smash into, it’s given Volvo one of the safest reputations in the industry.

Modern safety thinking is a lot more high-tech, and concentrates as much on preventing accidents as surviving them. Ensuring the driver is alert is a big part of that, and Volvo’s latest technology allows the car to sense when the driver is tired or not paying attention. The system bathes the driver in infrared light, undetectable by the driver but enough for infrared sensors to pick up the driver’s position and eye movements.

Start to drift off to sleep, and the car will spot your inattentiveness, the periods with your eyes closed, perhaps your body position changing–and prevent you falling asleep entirely. Even if you’re just not paying attention–maybe you’re adjusting the radio, or arguing with a passenger–the system will notice and alert you, perhaps encouraging you to keep your eyes on the road. In the meantime, the car’s other safety systems can prevent you straying from your lane or getting too close to the car in front.

But there’s more to it than that. Driver sensing also has other, less safety-orientated benefits. By recognizing the person sitting behind the wheel, the car could feasibly organize the car’s various adjustable features–seat, wheel, mirrors–to that particular driver. Okay, so plenty of cars do the same with a mere button press, but that’s not very 21st-century, is it? More unique is the ability to adjust the car’s exterior lighting in the direction the driver is looking–taking adaptive lighting to a whole new level.

Volvo notes that these systems aren’t capable of photographing the driver, nor do they have a “surveillance” function–so even if your car recognizes you, it’s only appreciating your good looks. Volvo has already installed the various systems in test vehicles, so it may not be far from reality. More pertinent still, the technology could eventually serve a purpose in autonomous cars–determining whether a driver is ready to take the wheel again before the autonomous functions cede control. (Anthony Ingram/Motor Authority)