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 March 28, 2014. The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer M Sport fixes its hairy eyeball on our trembling world, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari pitch in to win one for the home team, Nissan handles a significant airbag recall, only 144 payments and this Aston Martin can be yours, and Porsche looks to its four-cylinder past to plot its high performance future - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
01. The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer M Sport Is A Thing That Is Real
We may not be getting the upcoming BMW 2 Series Active Tourer minivan anytime soon, but when it does eventually make its appearance on American shores it will be bringing with it the Second Horseman of the Apocalypse: the Active Tourer M Sport edition. Yes, the front-wheel drive compact van will feature an M Sport body kit, M Sport rims, a stiffer suspension, and revamped interior trim in order to appeal to…those who feel like the Dodge Grand Caravan R/T or Toyota Sienna SE don’t go far enough, I guess. No word on cost, but you can be the M Sport model will lurk near the top of the Active Tourer’s price list.
02. Alfa Romeo And Ferrari To Team Up For Future Performance Cars
In more heartening sports car news, it would seem that Alfa Romeo is planning to introduce a new range of performance sport-utility vehicles and sedans that will tap corporate sibling Ferrari for help in the engine compartment. The Automotive News is reporting that Alfa Romeo is looking to make a dramatic about-face in terms of branding, eliminating the hatchbacks that currently account for all but one percent of its sales in favor of a premium approach that would be distributed around the world through the Jeep dealer network. Alfa Romeo has seen its market share plunge in recent years, prompting this emergency resuscitation attempt on the part of Fiat. Four new sedans and two new suvs would hit the streets between now and 2020 to help expand Alfa Romeo’s reach outside of its current European focus.
03. Airbag Software Glitch Leads To Nearly 1 Million Nissans Recalled
In a vehicle designed to deploy an airbag in the event of an accident, failure to do so often results in serious injuries to occupants due to the fact that other crash protection systems are built around the assumption that the airbag will always come through when needed. A software issue affecting just under 1 million Nissan vehicles, including the 2014 Infiniti Q50, the 2014 Infiniti QX60, the 2014 Nissan Altima, and the 2013 and 2014 editions of the Nissan Pathfinder, Nissan Sentra, Nissan Leaf, has put the Japanese brand at the center of exactly this type of serious safety problem. Specifically, these models can on occasion fail to identify that a passenger is sitting in the right front seat, which then leads to the airbag being deactivated while driving. No incidents related to the glitch have been reported as of yet.
04. Rent-To-Own Craze Hits Aston Martin
A brand new vehicle is one of the largest purchases most people will ever make, so it only stands to reason that finding the kind of financing that best fits your personal situation is key to a successful buying experience. A recent story published by the Automotive News illustrates perhaps the most extreme case of ‘rent-to-own’-style financing ever to have been made public: a new $300,000 Aston Martin was sold this past winter to a gentleman who decided to pay the car off over the course of a 12 year period. That’s 144 equal payments, a number so large even the Shamwow guy probably couldn’t have said it to the camera with a straight face. The next time you feel a bit down about having a few more years to go before you current vehicle is paid off, just think of this portrait of upward mobility and your spirits will instantly pick up.
05. Four-Cylinder Porsches To Make A Comeback
It’s been quite a few years since the Porsche 924, 944, and 968 wowed us with some of the largest displacement four-cylinder engines ever produced. Though these cars have been largely passed over by collectors due to their relative ubiquity in their day, there’s no denying the strong following in the performance and track world for these pocket Porsches and their balanced handling character. Porsche has announced that it will be returning to its four-cylinder roots (don’t forget that there was also the 912, the 356, and the 914) in order to add a little more spice to its Boxster and Cayman lineups. The horizontally-opposed four-cylinder turbo design is predicted to produce just under 400 horsepower in its most potent form, which, in combination with its reduced weight, will no doubt push each car into the stratosphere when it eventually becomes available.