It’s Friday once again, which means it’s time for another round of my Five For Friday: Five Thoughts about the Auto Industry for February 14, 2014. BMW’s branding confusion, a fleet of unsold Bugatti Veyrons, a manual Legacy lifeline, a sinkhole’s reign of terror, and Audi’s TT crossover - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
01. BMW 2 Series Active Tourer Will Be Front-Wheel Drive, Have Four Doors
Just when you thought you had a handle on BMW’s recently re-arranged vehicle naming scheme comes a spanner from out of the blue sky: not only with the new BMW 2 Series be the first front-wheel drive car from the German automaker to be offered in North America, but it’s also going to have four doors. Yes, we all thought that 2 Series models would consist exclusively of coupes and convertibles – after all, wasn’t that the reason the 1 Series and 3 Series were split across even and off numbers? It turns out that we were wrong, and that no amount of logic can save us from the inexorable machinations of marketing. Oh, and the Active Tourer is also the first BMW mini-minivan, which for many fans of the brand is a concept too horrifying to contemplate.
02. Can I Interest You In 40 Bugatti Veyrons?
Selling supercars usually isn’t as hard as it sounds. These ostentatious examples of automotive excellence typically move out of showrooms – when new – at a brisk pace, tempting the avarice of multi-millionaires intent on taking care of an itch that only a jaunt above 200 miles per hour can scratch. Bloomberg is reporting, however, that the king of all supercars, the Bugatti Veyron, is facing a bit of a wall when it comes to clearing out its inventory. Some 40 surplus Veyrons in total have been built, but have yet to find customers, which works out to roughly $85 million in exotic metal that’s certainly not appreciating in a warehouse somewhere.
It would seem that there’s a glut of Veyrons out there, with 400 having been sold so far, and in order to try to tempt a huge amount of money out of the pockets of the remaining few billionaires who don’t already own at least one, Bugatti will be running a special tour through the United States. Called the ‘Dynamic Drive Experience,’ it will allow individuals to have their minds blown by the Veyron’s performance prior to shelling out for their own example.
03. Want A Manual Subaru Legacy? Move To Canada
When the 2015 Subaru Legacy sedan was unveiled in Chicago last week, I mentioned that there were a number of enthusiasts who were upset that the mid-size car was no longer available with a manual transmission. A continuously-variable automatic gearbox is now standard with both base four-cylinder and top-tier six-cylinder editions of the Legacy – but only in the United States. For buyers brave enough to cross the northern border, opportunity awaits: Canadian Legacy models will be offered with a six-speed manual transmission when ordering the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine. Importing one might void your warranty – so it’s probably a better idea to immigrate to Canada and start a new life from behind the wheel of your Subaru, rowing your own gears to your heart’s content (and making ample use of the car’s heated seats).
04. Sinkhole Swallows Several Corvettes At National Corvette Museum
No one ever suspects that a sinkhole might be lurking underneath their prized collection of sports cars, which is what makes a sinkhole attack so effect: it combines the element of surprise with the unstoppable weapon of simply removing the ground beneath everything in its path. This is exactly what happened earlier this week when eight Corvettes disappeared into the bowels of the earth early in the morning prior to the facility opening its doors. The damaged models include a 1993 ZR-1 Spyder, a 1962 Corvette, a 2009 ZR1 Blue Devil, and the millionth and 1.5 millionth ‘Vettes sold. An 84 Pace Car was also gobbled up by the sinkhole, but it seems best if that particular victim remains in its new subterranean home to appease whatever dark forces elected to tear through into our fragile peace.
05. Audi Considers TT Crossover
While BMW might still be muddying the waters with its unusual ‘active touring’ strategy, Audi has been able to carve out solid identities for each of its crossovers, dating back to the very first Allroad. News from Top Gear that the Audi TT might be next in line for the crossover treatment continues this trend. The current TT coupe and convertible are roughly the right size to produce a competitor to the BMW X1 and the MINI Countryman, with the advantage of Audi’s quattro brand equity and potential sloped-roof styling that is all the rage amongst the small set these days. We’ve already seen the Allroad Shooting Brake in Detroit just last month, which points very strongly at what a TT crossover could resemble in brought into production. Subtract that concept’s electric drivetrain, and the possibility of a small, nimble crossover from Audi looms appealingly on the horizon.