A biweekly roundup of automotive news, good, bad and just plain weird:
BMW poised to reveal diesel-powered M
Somewhere in Bavaria, in a secret underground lair, German engineers are hard at work on a strange science experiment: a car bearing the fabled M badging, but powered by an oil-burnin' diesel motor.
Well, I say "car." The vehicle in question is the X6 which, according to BMW, is a "Sports Activity Coupe," whatever the heck that means. I like to call it "an X5 without the rear-seat headroom."
Still, there's no denying that the current X6 M is a physics-defying 555 horsepower beast, capable of getting from 0-100 kilometres per hour in less than five seconds. It also rips through the corners in a manner that would have Sir Isaac Newton pulling his hair out. However, there is the small matter of the fuel bill; you pretty much need to buy your own offshore drilling platform.
BMW has been having great success with their range of diesel engines. If you've ever driven a 335d, you'll know how impressive the torque shove can be. As such, it almost makes sense that this new X6 M that's to bow at the Geneva Motor Show in March is rumoured to have a triple-turbo diesel engine.
It'd be the first BMW wearing the M badge to be powered by a diesel engine, and I expect it to be capable of towing the moon out of orbit. Acura launching three new cars in January
It's been a bit of a struggle for Acura these past few years. Stylistically, the cuttlefish-prowed TL was a bit much for conservative buyers to absorb, the ZDX was altogether too weird and the RL was just plain too expensive for a V-6powered sedan.
On the other hand, the MDX sells like gangbusters, and while the current TSX isn't quite as much fun as the old fourcylinder one (actually a rebadged Euro-Accord), it's still a bargain.
However, if Acura's going to take on the likes of Lexus, it needs a bit of the zip it was once know for. Can anyone say NSX?
Let's not get carried away, Acura is referring to the upcoming NSX reveal as "just a concept." However, if we look at Honda/Acura's concept history of late (the only thing they change is the paint work before building them), we could be looking at the rebirth of one of the all-time great everyday supercars.
Not only that, but the upcoming ILX sports-sedan - which will be Civic-based, like the old CSX - should also allow Acura to win back the Integra and 1.7EL crowd, and a redesigned version of the RDX compact sports SUV is just in time. Hopefully the ILX is sporty enough and the RDX's fuel economy improved enough to give Honda/Acura the breathing room to bring their NSX concept into production. IIHS announces top safety picks
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is an independent body in the U.S. that evaluates safety ratings of new cars by smashing them up. They've just released their latest batch of ratings, and it's a long list.
Toyota tops the list with 15 vehicles all named Top Safety Pick, and General Motors, Ford and Volkswagen also did very well. Most improved was Honda, with the Civic, Accord and new CR-V all making the list, as well as the improved versions of the CR-Z and Insight.
All in all, 115 cars, SUVs and trucks received top honours from the IIHS, and nobody did better than Subaru: every single vehicle bearing the star-badge got a Top Safety Pick, which should make you feel pretty good about owning one, and even better if you're about to drive one into a tree.
New Nissan Pathfinder headed to Detroit
It's not long before the Detroit Auto Show throws open its doors, and unlike the past few years, Nissan is planning on being there in full force. We'll see the NV food trucks that made their bow at the L.A. Auto show, but much more importantly, there'll be a new Pathfinder there.
Now, Nissan's pitching this new model as a concept, but odds are it's going to be the exact vehicle you'll see arriving in showrooms in fall of 2012.
What to expect? With the X-Terra cannibalizing much of the tough-truck segment that the Pathfinder once stood for, and the Murano handling the mid-sized urban runabout duties, the new Pathfinder is poised to split the difference between the two, and retain its seven-seater capacity. Spy shots of camouflaged testers are hitting the web, and all signs point to a truck that's much less boxy, and a little more targeted as Toyota Highlander competition.
One thing's for sure, you can bet it'll still be powered by that ubiquitous Nissan V-6.
2013 Mercedes-Benz SL breaks cover early
Also due to unveil at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show is the newest version of Mercedes-Benz's biggest convertible, the first-class SL. For decades, SL Mercs have offered top-down motoring with a touch of class, and this latest is no exception.
Sporting the front end off the SLS AMG (this is fast becoming the new M-B design cue), the SL is more squared off than the outgoing model, and will come available with a twin-turbo V-8 capable of hauling its 1,815-kilogram curb weight to 100 km/h in a very rapid 4.5 seconds. It also features something called Magic Vision Control, whereby the windshield spray nozzles are integrated directly into the wipers. Interesting idea, very silly name.
Not silly is the effort put in to weight reduction, and the tremendous amount of available torque. Part of the reason this SL is so much faster than the outgoing model is the 516 foot-pounds of torque from that new engine: this is more than most pickup trucks.
With such a prodigious amount of grunt, the SL should be capable of some serious Autobahn-burning. And that's before the guys at AMG get a hold of it. . . .
Follow Brendan on Twitter: @brendan_mcaleer, or submit your own auto oddities to firstname.lastname@example.org.