The new BMW 1 Series family photographed in the lovely Czech Republic

The new BMW 1 Series has recently been introduced across several European markets. Among those was the picturesque Czech Republic, where the latest press photos are coming from. For the Czech premiere of the new F40 generation, BMW chose two specially configured models. The first is the 120d xDrive version, featured here in a lovely M Sport package. The model is painted in the BMW Individual Storm Bay metallic color, while the sports tire are fitted on a set of 18″ M design allow wheels in bicolor appearance (code 816).

Inside, the 120d xDrive M Sport displays a dual Trigon cloth/Alcantara Black leather upholstery and the two M sports seats at the front. The car is also equipped with the BMW Live Cockpit Professional digital infotainment system.

Power for the 120d xDrive version comes from B47D20 diesel engine with an inline-four cylinder architecture. The peak output reaches 140 kW / 190 PS (187 hp) and is sent exclusively to all four wheels via the 8-speed sports automatic gearbox.

The second star of the Czech market launch is the range-topping M135i xDrive hot hatch. The model is specced in the striking Misano Blue paint finish, reserved solely for the M Sport and M Performance Bimmers, as the tradition show it.

The M135i xDrive in the press photos is fitted with an astonishing set of alloy wheels: the 19-inch M design double-spoke wheels with bicolor finish (code 552). Inside, the individualization and equipment are virtually identical to the ones on the companion 120d xDrive.

The performance version of the new 1 Series is powered by an enhanced B48 4-cylinder engine, which develops 225 kW / 306 PS (302 hp). The traction system is exclusively xDrive and the power and torque are transmitted to both axles thanks to the 8-speed sports automatic gearbox with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. The same engine also powers the X2 M35i, the all new M235i xDrive Gran Coupe and, recently, the new MINI John Cooper Works GP.

The new BMW 1 Series shines in all its beauty and glory when correctly specced, like the press models used for Czech Republic launch event. So, what do you think, was the move to a front-wheel drive beneficial?

Click below to see more photos:

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Is the BMW X3 M Competition a better M car than the M8 Coupe?

Back when I drove the BMW X3 M Competition a couple of months back, I was genuinely blown away with how much I liked it. I went into driving it with the assumption that it’d just be a fast X3. But it’s so much more than that. In fact, I even went on to say that it’s so good it negates the need for BMW to make an M3 Touring. However, could it, a two-ton SUV, actually be better than the all-new BMW M8 Coupe, a 600 hp rocket-coupe? According to Car Throttle, the answer is a surprising yes

According to this new review from CT, the BMW X3 M Competition is actually more entertaining to drive on the road than the M8. Because I haven’t driven the M8 Coupe on the road (only on track), I can’t agree wholeheartedly with that claim. However, I can say that it doesn’t surprise me much to hear.

That’s because the BMW X3 M Competition is a psychotic animal of a thing. It’s not perfect by any means but its imperfections almost add to its charm and character. For instance, its ride is bone-rattling and makes even mild bumps in the road feel like sink-holes. However, that crazy harsh ride almost adds a sort of brutish charm to it. Every time you hit a bump and feel as if your spleen was ruptured, you’re reminded that you’re driving something a bit crazy.

Then there’s the fact that it’s one of the most raucous BMW M cars in ages. Its steering is sharp, its engine delivers devastating performance and it’s surprisingly loud.

Where as the BMW M8 is actually sort of the opposite. Sure, it’s even faster than the X3 M but it goes about it in such a refined manner that it’s almost boring. Its twin-turbo V8 silky smooth that can barely feel it, even when pushing it hard. It’s almost too easy to drive quickly (although, it’s also so fast it can get you into trouble quickly if you’re not careful). And there’s not as much drama in the M8, because it’s just so competent, so capable, that unless you’re pushing it at highly illegal speeds, it’s just not that thrilling. Or at least that’s the argument Car Throttle makes and it’s one I understand completely.

While I won’t go right ahead and claim the BMW X3 M to be better than the M8 until I’ve driven the latter for a week on the road. However, I can understand the argument made by Car Throttle and do find it very interesting.

[Source: Car Throttle]

The article Is the BMW X3 M Competition a better M car than the M8 Coupe? appeared first on BMW BLOG

Meet Sabré Cook, Infiniti Engineering Academy Winner and Race Car Driver

With the 2019 Formula 1 season concluding December 1 in Abu Dhabi, the drivers, engineers, mechanics, and the rest of the thousands of people who bring the F1 circus to life every year will get a rare break. But time off is a rare commodity in motorsport, especially for the designers and engineers charged with creating the multimillion-dollar race cars that are a huge part of the series’ appeal.

Indeed, the drivers might command most of the publicity and money, but without a good car, they are essentially nothing. That’s why, with the world’s most capable, technologically advanced road-racing machines, F1 is naturally home to some of the world’s top engineering talent. For aspiring race engineers, though, its barrier to entry can be high. At the same time, Grand Prix teams are always on the lookout for fresh talent to supply their design and engineering departments with new ideas and key team members of the future.

That’s why Infiniti and its corporate sibling Renault in 2014 founded the Infiniti Engineering Academy. The program annually sifts through thousands of young applicants drawn from universities all over the world, ultimately selecting a handful of elite winners to spend a year working and training with both Infiniti on the production-car side and Renault Sport F1 at the pinnacle of motorsport.

As the F1 season draws to a close, a fresh class of aspiring engineers is just days away from this year’s final U.S. competition scheduled for December 5, near Nashville. For the winner, it will represent the beginning of a potentially career-altering journey. To mark the occasion, we caught up with Sabré Cook, last year’s American winner who was one of seven fresh faces to recently complete the program’s 2019 installment.

A native of Grand Junction, Colorado, the 25-year-old race-car driver received her degree in mechanical engineering from the Colorado School of Mines in 2017. Cook began racing karts at the age of 10, and in 2018 she competed in U.S. F2000 and F4 prior to contesting the 2019 W Series F3 championship in conjunction with her year spent in the Infiniti Engineering Academy. She gave us the lowdown on just how valuable the program can be.

Now that you’ve done it, how was the academy experience?

Sabré Cook: Yeah, this year’s been amazing. [This time] last year I was able to win the academy final in the U.S. Then I moved to the U.K. in January and from there, I started at Infiniti Technical Center for the first six months. Then I worked in the vehicle-testing department, and I mostly worked with noise-related consumer issues and concerns. I learned a lot because I’m not a sound engineer, so I definitely got to learn a few things. So that was really fun and I’ve never been in as big of a corporate environment as that, getting to experience the office life and see how a big company like that functions, which is obviously very different to motorsport. I think it was a really good, valuable experience for me to be able to take that and put it on my resume for later on.

And then you moved to the Renault Formula 1 side…

I started at Renault F1 in July. I’m currently working in composite suspension design, so really busy right now obviously, working toward the 2020 F1 car. I learn so much every day and honestly I couldn’t replace this experience with anything else; I’m around some of the best engineers. Even though they take us through this process and really make sure they get some of the best engineers [into their program], once you get there you still have to continue to work hard and continue to try to impress and try to contribute to the team, because if you don’t—obviously you want to get invited back to maybe, possibly stay [in a fulltime position]. So, the whole year has very much pushed me to grow in a lot of ways and I’m really thankful for the opportunity.

They were also very receptive of your schedule, apparently?

Yes, amazingly. They obviously knew coming into it that I raced. Especially because the weekend that I was selected [for the academy], I was also racing [at Circuit of the Americas] in F4, so they’re like, “Okay, we can probably make this happen.”

Then, I did race in the W Series [F3 cars] all this year as well, so it was extremely busy with that, but they were amazing with saying, “You need to take your holiday days. We’ve set those dates out.” I can work around that; as long as I get my work done, then it’s fine. Then not only did they do that, but they also gave me access to the Renault Sport Racing Academy, so I’ve been able to train with them a little bit and do a couple of events. I think that’s really helped me to kind of see how [Renault is] developing drivers to eventually race in its cars in the future. So overall it’s been a very blessed experience for me.

What was the first thing that went through your mind when you won the opportunity to participate in the program?

After I initially won, I was like, “Okay, this is great, but I have a race this weekend, so I need to deal with this later.” [The race] was that weekend, but then the Monday afterward I was like, “Oh my God. My life is going to completely change next year.”

It took maybe a month and a half before it really sunk in, and then I remember on the plane over for the first time, I was sitting in the seat and we were maybe half an hour into the flight, and I’m like, “Oh my God. What am I doing?” You have a little bit of a panic mode because it’s such a new experience and it is scary. You can’t pretend it’s not. You’re going to a new country, going to an amazing company, and you wonder, “How am I going to do?”

But I think I was in a place where I was trying to figure out where I was going, the correct direction to go next in my life. For this opportunity to kind of show up almost perfectly and at the time that I needed it—I’ve grown immensely in so many ways personally, intellectually as a driver over this year because of this experience. I think it’s one of the best that probably ever could’ve happened to me and I highly recommend it to anybody that is looking to go into it, obviously.

What do you think the experience gave you that no other one could have?

Living with strangers was one. Yeah, this is the first time I’ve had all male roommates. Obviously you can imagine my father when he first heard about that. You show up and you get to meet all of these new people, and I live with some from New Zealand, Mexico, and Germany. So it’s a very diverse group, but it’s a cute, little, dysfunctional family and the crazy uncle, mom and dad, and our child is Patricio who we regularly give a hard time about cleaning his room … it’s great to have that experience and get to know people from different cultures more.

How far do you think the academy advanced you in terms of where you would’ve been without it?

If I really had to put a time on it, I guess I’d put it as maybe two to three years. It gave me a way into F1, directly into where they were confident enough that I could contribute to the team and gave me certain jobs. Then they work you up until you’re actually in charge of something that’s a bit more impactful in the car.

I think to get to that point versus just trying to use my contacts that I had previously, I could’ve maybe got an internship, but I wouldn’t have been at the same kind of, looked like at the same level. Obviously I got the experience of working in Infiniti, too, so having a car manufacturer on your resume is huge. And I didn’t have any contacts here in the U.S., and the car manufacturers here. So, to be able to go through that, I think that really gave me an advantage over where I would’ve been without it.

When it comes to the work you’re assigned, it’s all real projects, yes?

Yes. I’m actually in charge of the [upper suspension wishbone] for next year’s car. So that’s currently what I’m working on. There’s so much to learn. I would love to stay at Renault because I think there are so many different areas. Just look at one piece that I’m working on; the level that you have to go through of detail just to create this one part is insane. What really was cool was, once we got to Renault, they let me go in the clean room for a few days and you actually get to make parts yourself and laminate them—and then cure them, and then take them out of the molds. So, they make sure that you understand start-to-finish how the product gets made.

I think that was really important. The same with Infiniti; you go downstairs and you work with the techs, alongside the techs, especially in my position. I would spend most of the day in a workshop, working with the techs and going through the cars. Being able to have more hands-on experience in my job was really valuable to me because I like that. I like working with my hands more, so for me I think a lot of other companies, I would probably have just sat behind a desk or something.

What’s your plan for 2020?

I’m going to finish out my contract until the end of the year, as well as [attend] the U.S. Infiniti F1 Engineering Academy final Nashville. Then going into next year, I would love to stay in England. I’m actually really enjoying it and I think it’s a great place for me to continue to grow, but I do have [a spot in the] W Series confirmed for next year. I do have other opportunities that have presented themselves to come back and race in the U.S. and try and pursue the dream of getting to IndyCar, so I’m trying to kind of decide right now which direction is the best way to go, as well as if they even have spots available or they want to keep some of us on [from the academy].

Is the Road to Indy ladder program on your radar, then?

Right now, I do have a team that would like me to run Indy Pro next year, through the full season, even though there would be two conflicts with W Series, but they’re still willing to do it. I’m not 100 percent sure, it’s not been confirmed. I hope I can confirm it by the end of the [year], but you never know what’s going to happen.

What’s your 10-year plan? Racing? Engineering?

Obviously, I love engineering. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have pursued it this far and I wouldn’t have pushed this hard to get here. For me, it’s almost a bit scary in a way for me next year if I would just focus on racing because I don’t want to give the engineering up. I feel like I’ve made good progress and I feel like I’ve got a lot of momentum going now, being in the academy. It’s hard for me to want to step away from that to try and pursue other things, but no matter what, I’ll for sure come back to engineering because you can’t race for your entire life.

Engineering is definitely part of who I am as a person. I think no matter what, I will try to stay with that. You just have to kind of adjust as you go on, but in 10 years I’d love to obviously get more experience as an engineer and work more toward being a race engineer in F1, as well as an IndyCar driver. I think I can do both dually, as I’ve done so far, anyways. They compliment each other, so it’s not like if I just go race I’m not going to learn any more about engineering. I’m glad that they both can coincide together.

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The post Meet Sabré Cook, Infiniti Engineering Academy Winner and Race Car Driver appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

This Is the Crosstrek STI Subaru Won’t Build, But It Should

We’re big enough fans of the Subaru Crosstrek. But after multiple stints behind the wheel, one of our biggest takeaways has been that it needs more power. After all, its 152-hp naturally aspirated flat-four can’t deliver more than an unimpressive 9.0-second zero-to-60-mph time. Subaru North America president Tom Doll previously said a higher-performance variant was possible, but likely wouldn’t happen until sales of the standard Crosstrek begin to slow. We can’t wait that long, so we commissioned these Crosstrek STI renderings to show Subie fans, and Subaru itself, what could be.

The current generation of Subaru’s rally-bred WRX STI has only been available as a sedan, though previous generations have been offered with hatchback and wagon body styles. It’s hard to imagine there not being a market for an STI with more cargo capacity, and the Crosstrek seems like the perfect platform on which to build it.

A standard Crosstrek boasts an impressive 8.7 inches of ground clearance which, in my eyes, makes it a much better fit for Subaru’s rally-inspired sport compacts than any standard three-box sedan. We found the regular Crosstrek plenty capable off-road but imagine how much more fun it could be with double the horsepower.

If Subaru were to make a Crosstrek STI, it would likely be powered by one of the automaker’s larger-displacement turbocharged flat-four engines. The current WRX STI makes 310 hp from a 2.5-liter turbocharged flat-four, though the next round of STIs could receive an overboosted version of the new 2.4-liter turbo flat-four that debuted in the Ascent three-row SUV and can now be had in the Legacy and Outback XT models.

The last STI we tested hit 60 mph in 5.7 seconds—an advantage of more than three seconds compared to a standard Crosstrek. Subaru, please don’t make us beg. You know a Crosstrek STI would be amazing.

Read More
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Why You Should Buy a First-Gen Mazda Miata

Richard Hart, an old friend and transplanted New Orleanian who lives in Durham, North Carolina, followed my automotive advice recently. He bought a low mile, first-gen 1990 Mazda MX-5 Miata, from a friend of a friend, an older gent who’d owned the car since new, maintaining and garaging it continuously. This was good news, essential even, since the owner lived in Queens, New York, where cars that live on the street don’t get no respect.

Richard and I have been friends since my second day of college and I knew his automotive history, a thrifty enterprise littered with older cars, sometimes ones I’d found or was passing along, the last one of these being a 1975 244 Volvo sedan, which only a few years in had become too needy, too reliably unreliable, for him and his long-suffering wife, Sally, to bear. Sorry about that, guys.

In his past, there had been Darts and Valiants and Opels and not too long ago an old Mercedes Fintail. But Richard always remembered the MGB he daily drove for a few years in the ’80s, the way he loved its sporty, rorty nature and top-down possibility, as anyone with a pulse must. But it is fair to say that he was not a dedicated gearhead, displaying no discernible bandwidth, mechanically speaking, and little of the true obsessive’s willingness to spend money on nonessential maintenance—essential/nonessential being a fine line in many old cars and an issue on which the wrong side is too easily chosen. Even with his kids grown up, another MGB, which he craved, wouldn’t do. But a Miata would. They’re cheaper to buy and for someone seeking practicality, an altogether more reasonable proposition. At least that’s what I kept telling him. When it comes to old cars, I’m not afraid to proselytize. Especially for the NA Miata, the first of the breed, which turns 30 this year. (Here’s our original review.)

So Richard bought this one, which was good, because it spared me or my son, Ike, who found it, the trouble of having to buy it ourselves. Because it was too nice to let pass by. Low miles—80,000, or less than 3000 a year—crank windows, factory hardtop. No rust, no accidents, no mods. Its original red paint still shined and its black cloth interior had no tears or serious wear; the timing belt, the only expensive maintenance item, was freshly done.

Last month, I delivered the car to Richard in Durham, driving 650 miles or so in a day, with a stop in rural Virginia to lunch with an old friend of this magazine, the veteran journalist, curator, and hot-rod authority Ken Gross. The visit reminded me that there is a reason Ken’s niceness is the stuff of legend. And after 10 hours on the road with the first Miata, I remembered why I liked it back in the day, why the MX-5 itself is a legend and an indisputable classic. It easily earns a spot on my list of 10 all-time best cars.

If you’ve never spent time with one, you ought to. Here’s why:

DRIVING FUN. Famously inspired by the Lotus Elan, the sweetest handling, most chuckable confection of the 1960s, the Miata is above all a hoot to drive. It’s a Denali XL next to an Elan (though actually only about 500 pounds heavier) but safer and less likely to shred a half-shaft coupling or snap a lightweighted wishbone mid-corner. The Miata’s steering feel is as good as it could be by 1990, and especially so when in manual, non-powered steering form like this car’s. The MX-5 was born with what I’d nominate as the most pleasant manual gearbox ever, a creamily positive, short throw, dream device with that all-useful fifth speed for highway cruising that is also one of its many best features. Handling is companionate, ride is excellent by sports-car standards, thanks to all independent suspension, with delightfully predictable roadholding, plus a pleasing willingness to slide and just enough free-revving power in its original 1.6-liter formula to get that job done.

ECONOMY. Cheap to run, cheap to repair. Mazda and an army of aftermarket suppliers make finding parts easy and when used parts will do, they’re plentiful, as we found out when the car arrived and it turned out the motor that lifted the left headlight was dead. New? $314 from the Mazda dealer (sure, not too cheap, but readily available). Perfectly good used from a guy down the street with a wrecked Miata in his backyard? $50. Twenty-nine miles per gallon at 75 mph was not going to win any economy prizes, and is worse by some meaningful percentage than a new Miata, but it wasn’t bad. And if you want to buy a new Miata instead, a still joyous machine, better but less simple, you won’t hear me object.

CONVERTIBLE TOP. First off, Miatas don’t leak, a concept that makes MG owners variously cackle or cry. Second, there hasn’t been a manual convertible top easier to erect or take down, making this one simply the best in the business. It’s long-wearing, with a zip-out rear window for breezy top-up use on a too-sunny day. And three cheers for the optional hardtops. Like Miatas themselves, they are a meaningful unit of currency—handsome, easy to remove, easy to install, and always easy to sell, say, if you ever need some of your money back but don’t want to give up the car. Also, unlike many of its historic antecedents, there’s no need to do anything with the Miata’s soft top to make the hardtop fit.

CHEAP TO BUY. NA Miatas found the bottom of the market, price-wise, several years ago and are on their way back up, but on a dollar-to-smile basis they’re still incredibly affordable. Good Miatas needing work can be had from $1500 to $4000, cars purporting not to need work from about $4000 on up. Expect to pay $1000 extra for the hardtop, and less for cars with uninspiring automatic transmissions. Go shopping with $6000 and you should be pretty certain of going home in a good car. If you don’t, it’s probably because you didn’t have someone who knew cars check it out for you. Avoid: rust, accidents.

RELIABILITY. Everything works in a Miata and if it doesn’t it is A) a rare occurrence and B) easy to set right. The plastics are hard-wearing, ditto the switches and cable-operated controls. The bodies don’t rust, except in cases where repaired bodywork has been poorly prepared. The gauges and electrics work, always, as do the wipers and a real heater and defroster. The oily bits don’t leak. The doors open and shut properly. The door locks function. Can you tell I’ve owned some old convertibles? These things concern me. As does the fact that trunk stays dry. And for those so inclined, Miatas are straightforward and easy to work on yourself. Nor too expensive for you to hire someone else to work on.

Six weeks later, Richard is still pinching himself—the Mazda hasn’t broken once. “No better, smoother, cheaper thrill than hugging a corner from a foot off the ground at 30 mph,” he writes in this morning’s e-mail.  I’ve owned a few Miatas in my day, and, though I don’t own one now, I guess I’m still crazy about them after all these years. Would I buy another, even if only to salt it away? Absolutely.

Read More
Did You Know Mazda Built a Production Miata Coupe?
Here’s the Miata 30th Anniversary Model: It’s Orange
ND Mazda Miata RF Review: Carving Canyons

The post Why You Should Buy a First-Gen Mazda Miata appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

13 Tesla Cybertruck Features You Probably Missed While Being Distracted By Its Wild Looks

Tesla’s intergalactically anticipated Cybertruck has finally poked its pointy beak through the cover it’s been hiding under, and it’s a pickup that looks like no other. In fact, the Tesla truck appears not merely to have broken cover, but to have teleported from a different solar system entirely. However, once you get past the Cybertruck’s initial visual impact—Is it a UFO? A mutant doorstop? A children’s drawing of a vehicle?—there remains several light years’ worth of details that confound and delight. Here are the top 13 things you probably missed after a first glimpse of the Cybertruck seared off your corneas. 

It Is Called Cybertruck

Yes, the Tesla pickup really is called “Cybertruck.” Not “Model” anything, like Tesla’s cars and crossovers, the Model 3, Model S, and Model X. Not The Cybertruck, or Cyber Truck, two words—just Cybertruck. While the name is something of a departure from Tesla naming convention and broader car industry naming conventions, the Cybertruck name is refreshingly literal in the same sense as the Tesla Roadster’s: Here is a truck with heavy cybernetic influence, plain and simple.

Any Color You Want . . .

Tesla’s taken a page from Ford’s century-old playbook for the original Model T and is offering Cybertruck in a single color. Well, actually, the Tesla truck is being sold in no color at all. The only available exterior finish is bare, unpainted stainless steel. (Ford’s Model T, famously, was once sold only in the color black to streamline the manufacturing process further so that more could be churned out hour-by-hour.) The stainless finish may enhance the Cybertruck’s edgy, 8-bit-video-game look, but it’s sure to turn off some buyers (those who, you know, aren’t turned off by the way it, um, looks). Those customers will be allowed to vinyl-wrap their Cybertrucks, a move that both increases the vehicles’ color and pattern possibilities and at the same time decreases environmental impacts associated with vehicle painting. Oh, and as was the case with the Model T, the single-color scheme eases manufacturing complexity for already-busy Tesla.

Badass Bed

A truck is nothing without its bed, and Tesla’s Cybertruck has an awesome one. Tesla calls it the vault, a corny move that nearly undoes the bed’s inherent coolness. Anyway, the Cybertruck’s bed is finished in the same stainless steel as the rest of the body and measures 6.5 feet long. It suffers no intrusion from the wheel wells, so it is a clean, rectangular volume. Horizontal accessory rails are positioned beneath the diagonal sail panels stretching from the tailgate to the roof peak, and Tesla promises that those panels will even boast their own storage compartments (not unlike Ram’s Rambox bedside compartments). Open the tailgate, and you will find a slide-out loading ramp that allows wheeled things to be rolled up into the bed. Both 120- and 220-volt charging outlets, as well as an air compressor, are built in, too. Oh, and the entire bed can be secured by an integrated roll-up, garage-door-style tonneau cover, which also is said to help aerodynamic efficiency.

Literally (Probably?) Bulletproof

Talk about coming out with a bang! At the Cybertruck’s flashy reveal, Tesla CEO Elon Musk showed video of 9-mm bullets being fired at the pickup’s cold-rolled-steel body panels and leaving nary more than a dent behind. Our assumption is that any rounds larger than 9 millimeters will puncture the Cybertruck’s skin. Another reason to leave an asterisk behind Tesla’s “bulletproof” claim? The truck’s so-called Armor Glass windows are supposed to be tough too, but aren’t claimed to be bulletproof. They also didn’t prove as tough as expected when, during the Cybertruck’s reveal, Tesla design boss Franz von Holzhausen heaved a metal ball at them and smeared two—when during an earlier demonstration using Armor Glass panels, the same ball bounced off of them. The lesson? You probably shouldn’t rely on the Cybertruck for trips into hails of gunfire, but for the company that developed the Ludicrous acceleration drive mode and a Biological Defense Mode, bulletproofing somehow isn’t a surprising addition.

Super Long Driving Range

Have an itch for some long-haul truckin’? Worry not, because the Tesla’s electric powertrain shouldn’t hold it back from long-distance trips. Tesla projects Cybertruck’s maximum range at over 500 miles, over a 35-percent increase over the longest-range Model S sedan currently available. An optional stacked battery pack—think of a layer cake of battery packs—is the key to the Cybertruck’s huge range number. (The standard battery provides an estimated 250 miles of range per charge.) Making recharging easier and more accessible beyond America’s coastal areas is Tesla’s planned expansion of Supercharger stations into rural areas. That’ll make long-distance drives even more viable than today’s Supercharger network already allows, and hopefully help Cybertruck’s popularity across the nation.

Built-In Light Bar

There will be no need to modify Cybertruck with a flotilla of auxiliary lights like an old Jeep for better visibility after dark or on off-road trails far from streetlamps’ glow. In addition to the LED mono-headlight spanning the width of the truck’s front end, there is a second, auxiliary light bar installed at the top of the windshield. The combination of that lamp and the headlight bar is pretty sweet, and follows the Cybertruck’s hard edges perfectly.

Seats for Six

Among the Cybertruck’s new-age features sits—pun intended—one very old-school flourish: A front bench seat. There is space for a whole work crew inside, thanks to the six-seat capacity that middle front chair creates. As in other full-size pickups, the Tesla’s front row center armrest can be flipped up to form a backrest for a sixth perch. Whoever rides there will get the best view of Cybertruck’s huge central infotainment screen.

New User Interface

Speaking of that huge infotainment touchscreen, a now-familiar centerpiece of Tesla interiors, Tesla has confirmed that the Cybertruck’s will be a 17-inch unit. That matches the size of the vertically oriented units in the Model S and Model X. (The Model 3 has a smaller, horizontally oriented screen.) More importantly, the Cybertruck’s display runs a new user interface tailored for truck use. Tesla hasn’t elaborated on what exactly that tailoring includes, but it likely involves on-screen controls for autonomous trailer hitching, various pickup bed features, and adjustments for the long-travel air suspension.

Transparent Roof

Cybertruck has a roof made from transparent Armor Glass. On any other vehicle, this would be referred to as a panoramic sunroof. But, because we’re talking the bonkers Tesla truck here, consider it a fancy viewing portal for watching Space X rockets blast into the sky from inside the cab.

Digital Mirror

Cybertruck’s shape is, um, unconventional, and we have questions about how its huge rear sail panels and yawning windshield’s supports might impact a driver’s outward visibility. To the rear, in particular, those opaque sail panels mean you can pretty much forget visual checks of your blind spots. Plus, what happens when the Cybertruck’s roll-up tonneau cover is deployed? Goodbye, whatever meager rear visibility there was to begin with! Tesla’s workaround comes in the form of a digital, camera-based rearview mirror setup, similar to what’s in some trucks already on the road, in which a live feed of what’s behind the truck is beamed to a rearview-mirror-shaped screen.

Stone Cold Trim

Tesla already offers leather-free vegan seating surfaces on its vehicles, and is turning to other sustainable resources to trim Cybertruck interiors. The dashboard is decorated with a long slab of something mimicking marble or granite, giving the interior a distinctive, organic look. We only recall seeing actual stone trim on ultra-high-end luxury cars, but it should be mentioned that this material is likely not authentic, given electric vehicles’ stringent weight targets. Plus, on trucks, any extraneous weight added is capacity subtracted from payload ratings and such.

Serious Capability

Here is a question: Can the Tesla truck? The answer is a resounding yes, if Tesla’s claims for the Cybertruck are to be believed. The single-motor, rear-wheel-drive base model is said to tow up to 7,500 pounds, a figure that is upgraded to a whopping 14,000 pounds on the triple-motor, four-wheel-drive range-topping model. Every version’s payload is set at 3,500 pounds. For comparison, the Ford F-150‘s towing capacity tops out at 13,200 pounds, while its payload maxes out at 2,309 pounds.

Electrifying Acceleration

It is by now well established that Teslas are quick—really quick, actually. Electric motors serve up strong torque from essentially zero rpm on, unlike internal-combustion engines, which typically need to spool up a little before making significant power. Tesla also dumps a ton of power into its electric motors, prioritizing effortless, head-snapping acceleration as much as efficiency and driving range. All of these characteristics will be baked into the Cybertruck. Tesla claims the two-wheel-drive model (with its motor in the rear) will zip from zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, half a second behind the 450-hp Ford F-150 Raptor. That’s respectable, we suppose, but the real action will be with the triple-motor Tesla, which is claimed to reach 60 mph in just 2.9 seconds, a tenth of a second behind the time put down by Chevrolet’s new C8 Corvette in our testing.

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My Opinion: MINI Cooper SE will be more fun than the BMW M135i

By the end of this year, the BMW Group will have to hatchbacks that shake up the status quo; the BMW M135i and the MINI Cooper SE. The former is a front-wheel drive-based hot-hatch, something BMW has never made before, and the latter is an all-electric hatch that’s mostly different from what MINI has made before (the original MINI E was more of a test-bed for future electric performance, rather than a full-on production vehicle). However, it’s actually the MINI that I think will be the more fun, more exciting car.

The all-new BMW M135i xDrive is an interesting car because it is front-wheel drive-based but its xDrive all-wheel drive system can send power to the rear wheels when needed. So it’s a grippy little hot-hatch with a very healthy 302 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. While I personally haven’t driven the M135i, because it isn’t sold in America, I have driven its mechanical twin, the M235i Gran Coupe. Surprisingly, I actually thought it was quite fun to drive and didn’t run to grab my pitchfork. It’s a car I liked quite a bit, actually. So I’m not one of those front-drive BMW haters.

Yet, despite that, I think the MINI Cooper SE is going to be the better buy and the car to get more excited about. That might sound a bit crazy, especially when you look at the specs (MINI only makes 181 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque). But hear me out.

While the BMW M135i is quick, and more fun to drive than many enthusiasts might expect, it’s only fun under the sort of circumstances that are illegal on the road. It surprises when you’re pushing it too hard for public use. However, the MINI Cooper SE will be fun and lively at normal speeds and even around-town speeds. That’s because of its electric torque and nippy handling. MINIs have always been fun to drive and, having driven the new generation of front-drive BMWs, are more fun than their Bavarian counterparts. So add electric torque and instantaneous response and you get a car that’s not only efficient but very fun.

There’s also the way both cars look. While the M135i has a bit of a pig-face and could just as well be a Hyundai hot hatch, the MINI Cooper SE is distinctly a MINI and has some very cool touches, such as its unique, EV-looking wheels.

On top of the way they look, the MINI Cooper SE is also the future. But it’s not just the future because it’s an electric car that lacks an internal combustion engine. It’s the future beacuase it’s an electric hot-hatch. It’s the sort of car enthusiasts are going to be buying in a decade. Because of that, owning the electric MINI will feel like being part of a movement, rather than just buying yet another fast hatchback.

The BMW M135i is a better car than most enthusiasts think it is. But I personally think the MINI Cooper SE is going to be the affordable hatch to get from the BMW Group. It’s not going to light your hair on fire, performance-wise, but — as with all great MINIs — that won’t matter. Instead, it’s going to be a fun, happy little hatchback that’s going to be more enjoyable to own than BMW’s own hot hatch.

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