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Re-badge has M3 lovers revved up

A biweekly roundup of automotive news, good, bad and just plain weird: BMW builds last M3 Coupe Folks, the sky is falling.

A biweekly roundup of automotive news, good, bad and just plain weird: BMW builds last M3 Coupe

Folks, the sky is falling. Well, at least that's the impression you'd get if you logged on to any BMW fan-forum or auto-enthusiast website over the past week.

BMW has officially announced their intention to re-badge two-door versions of their best-selling 3 Series range as the 4 Series, a move they've been contemplating since the mid-1990s. This brings BMW model nomenclature into line with their larger 5 Series sedan and 6 Series coupe - which is also available as a four door called the Gran Coupe . . . well, let's not pull too hard on that loose thread.

With the 4 Series con-figurator already online, and a M-spec test-car spotted running around Germany wearing vinyl camouflage, it's only a matter of time before the new M4 hits the road. BMW's hotted-up sedan will remain the M3.

Naturally, the change in badge for the two-door has a few Bimmer purists steamed. Really though, with the new car reportedly more than 90 kilograms lighter and with a torquey new turbocharged straight-six, this rose by any other name will still drive as sweetly. One hopes.

Toyota sells three million Priuses. Prii. Whatever.

A long time ago I was driving in traffic, forgot to shoulder check properly (tsk, tsk) and wound up cutting off David Suzuki, who was driving a first generation Toyota Prius. These sorts of things only happen to me - sorry Mr. Suzuki!

Toyota is celebrating quite a milestone for their groundbreaking hybrid, with the three-millionth car sold. No doubt some of the recent sales success is down to the two new models that joined the original five-door hatchback, an expanded range of small, medium, or large Priuses.

Whether or not you feel hybrid vehicles are either a snooze-fest, the saviours of the planet, or merely a stepping-stone on our way towards vehicle electrification, the fact is Toyota can look back on their 1997 launch of a quirky little sedan with some well-earned pride. With 3,000,000 out on the road, the Prius is no longer an experiment, it's a feature on the automotive landscape, and rates a full chapter in any future automotive history book.

Toronto flood claims dozens of vehicles

Thanks to the speed of communication afforded by Twitter and Instagram, the Internet has been inundated with pictures of exotic cars up to their doorhandles in Toronto's recent flooding.

You feel bad for the owners - well, except for the guy who tried to drive his Ferrari California through two feet of water. That was just dumb.

The weather back East took a turn for the worse on Monday night, with record precipitation overwhelming storm drains and causing flash flooding and power outages. Many cars were damaged, and more written off the following day when unwary owners misjudged water depths.

As Toronto dries out, a little consumer advice: While flood damage is the sort of thing that should theoretically show up through any reputable vehicle history search service, that's not always the case. Anyone purchasing a vehicle that was registered in Ontario this summer should do a little extra due diligence.

New Corvette Stingray brings efficiency bragging rights

By law, any review of Chevrolet's Corvette must include the phrase, "Giant Slayer!" or "Supercar Killer!" or possibly "Euro-trash Inconveniencer!" We get it: the 'Vette knocks high-dollar machinery on their heads for half the price.

Now Chevrolet is trumpeting something hardly any Corvette buyer really thinks about - good fuel economy. Put the new Stingray in Eco mode and it'll (supposedly) see something like 7.8 litres/100 kilometres. That's the sort of efficiency a Mini Cooper S puts out!

How does Chevy manage to get figures this low out of a car with 455 horsepower? First, that spec is only for the seven-speed manual transmission, and it'll only happen when you're cruising on the highway. What's more, Eco mode deactivates half of the all-aluminium V-8's cylinders under light engine loads, meaning that you'd be driving a four-cylinder Corvette.

Also, methinks real-world figures are going to be somewhat less rosy than these optimistic projections. I personally have seen the figure 50.1 l/100 km displayed on the instant fuel-economy readout of a 427 Corvette convertible, so odds are the Stingray isn't going to replace your four-cylinder Camry as the daily commuter.

But who cares, it's great that Chevy is managing to pay attention to all possible definitions of "performance" with what is, arguably, America's sportscar. I can't wait until these things arrive.

Pope calls for humbler cars

After the Batmobile, the Popemobile is probably the most famous car in the world. While His Holiness, Pope Francis, has a new, heavily modified Mercedes ML to carry him around on official business, he reportedly drives a Ford Focus for personal use.

Now the Pontiff is calling for the rest of the church to tone down their driving habits (get it, habits? Sorry.) by purchasing older, shabbier cars more appropriate to the vows of poverty. It's all part of Francis's push towards a humbler Catholic Church which has seen his Papal apartments exchanged for a more modest living area and the Papal throne exchanged for what looks like a folding picnic chair.

Naturally, my mind immediately turned towards the knotty problem of what might be appropriate for your average parish priest to drive. I've got it - a Dodge Spirit!