BMW MINI GoPro camera app

You know it had to happen, this week BMW and MINI were the first to announce a down-loadable app that allows you to control your GoPro Camera through your vehicle infotainment interface.

In correctly optioned BMW and MINI models, you GoPro camera can now be configured and controlled either BMW’s iDrive MINI’s Connected joystick controller.

For use with WiFi enabled GoPro cameras, the app communicates with the GoPro App on the driver’s iPhone 4 or later connected to the car by cable.

You can then access the control menu through your car’s infotainment controls and large center screen. BMW and GoPro worked together to create on-board operating menu to streamline the camera’s operation.

That can be either a very good or a very bad thing as both companies haven’t been known for intuitive menus on their own respective products.

We’ll have to wait and see when we try it for ourselves very soon. The new App is now available for free in the iTunes Store.

Feature: Alfa Romeo franchises awarded to 86 dealers in U.S. and Canada

The Alfa Romeo 4C is one step closer to being on the ground here in the U.S. Chrysler announced some 86 new dealerships awarded the brand franchise this week.

Alfa Romeo’s return to our shores starts with the highly anticipated 4C sports-car which has already been lauded as the sub-$100,000 Ferrari.

Inspired by the 1967 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale, the 4C has exotic touches like exposed carbon fiber structure, and a low slung cockpit with flat-bottom steering wheel.

Built in Modena, Italy, the new carbon fiber bodied 4C mid-engined sports-car comes with a high revving 1.7 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 237 horsepower.

That may not sound like a lot, but with that power going through a six-speed sequential dual-clutch transmission and pushing a relatively light car, it promises a lot of fun behind the wheel.

The curb-weight of the new 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C is expected to be just under 2,500 lbs which should make it a standout for performance and handling.

The initial pool of 86 Alfa Romeo dealers are spread out across the U.S. and Canada, with the California, Florida, Texas getting the most outlets.

Leading EV market Portland becomes test bed for Nissan e-NV200 electric commercial vehicle

Nissan who began production on the first mass-produced all-electric cargo van this spring is now flirting with the United States for their e-NV200.

With gasoline NV300’s on sale here already, the company is doing a six-week trial with Portland General Electric to determine viability of the zero-emission version on our shores.

The Portland utility provider will use the e-NV200 with their underground crews, replacing a larger diesel-powered van during the trial to see what challenges and benefits it brings to the job.

Nissan is also working with FedEx California, Georgia, Oregon and Washington, D.C. to determine how business could use the all-electric cargo van.

With a range of up to 110 miles on a full charge, the e-NV200 is built in both a cargo van as well as a passenger model.
The Nissan e-NV200 goes on sale this summer in Europe and Japan, but no news yet on a launch date for the States.

Test drives:

This week in test drives we reviewed the 2014 Toyota Highlander XLE, the heart and soul of the company’s family vehicle line.

Our highlander was a well optioned all-wheel drive model which we determined is best suited for family excursions like trips to school, the movies, shopping and road trips.

The Highlander proved comfortable for long periods of time, offered up lots of storage and creature comforts, and has dramatic new styling for 2014.

Best yet the Highlander can seat up to eight passengers this year which makes it a stand-out for versatility and capability.

We’re currently testing the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid this week and will have a full review soon both from the fuel economy angle, but we plan to see how fun it can be to drive.

All these test drives and more can be found on TestDriven.TV or on our YouTube channel.

Ford lowers EPA fuel economy ratings on key vehicles

Ford owners are getting a reality check this week, in the mail in fact ranging from $150 to over $1000 as good will payments as it lowers fuel economy ratings on several cars.

Already having been stung by incorrectly labeling their 2013 C-Max hybrid last year, Ford has made another round of lowering EPA certified mpg on now several models.

The Ford Fusion Hybrid and Energi Plug-In Hybrid got docked up to 6 mpg highway, with owners getting as much as $775 back for their heartache.

C-Max customers get their second round of mpg lowering, losing an additional 3 mpg over last year’s changing of the rating. They will receive up to $475.

Other models receiving a downgrade in published EPA ratings include the Lincoln MKZ and the 2014 Ford Fiesta with the new 1.0 liter EcoBoost 3-cylinder engine.

Heralded for getting up to 45 mpg highway, the Fiesta EcoBoost gets its hair cut back to 43 mpg. Other Fiesta models also got lowered, with owners receiving up to $450 depending on which they own.

Ford blames the errors on flawed computer models used in their testing procedure, and offered up a plausible technical outline of how this happened to go with its apology and sending of cash to customers.

While significant explanations have been given on how this accidental mistake happened and will never happen again, it’s a rather a striking coincidence it only occurred on cars Ford trumpeted from the mountain tops as having best in class mileage and sold as such.