All posts in “BMW”

2021 BMW iX3 Review

I’ll be honest, I am not a fan of electric cars. Having experienced battery powered offerings ranging from the Renault Zoe to the Porsche Taycan Turbo S, I can categorically say that I am not ready to drop my addiction to fossil juice for the volt life. That being said, there are a few applications in which I can picture myself driving an electric car – short, mundane and preplanned journeys. I have suffered from the stress and anguish of range anxiety on road Trips on which I’ve spent more time staring at the battery percentage and range than I did enjoying the views or fabulous roads.

The BMW iX3 is not intended to be used for cross country cruises or for blasting up mountain passes. This is a car for the school run, weekly shop and the odd trip to visit friends and family on the weekends. That is not to say it cannot cross continents, it can but there are other X3s better suited to such applications. This is the first BMW model to be available with petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid or full EV powertrains to choose from.

With ‘the power of choice’ in mind, I hit the road in the iX3 to see what this 286 horsepower ‘Sport Activity Vehicle’ with a claimed WLTP range of 460 kilometres felt like. I tried to be sensible and drive in a fashion I imagine a buyer of such a car would, but as with all electric cars, I immediately engaged sport mode and floored it. The instant torque was amusing, the way that 2.2 tonnes shifted was impressive and the accompanying, configurable ‘drive sound’ added some character. 0-100km/h is dispatched in a respectable 6.8 seconds with the top speed capped at 180.

After a few accelerations the novelty wore off and I set about driving the car the way it was intended to be. I turned my attention to the braking regeneration options starting with ‘one-pedal’ driving. This was surprisingly good fun, I challenged myself to not use the brake pedal at all, it took some focus but was achievable after a few minutes of experimentation. I could not get comfortable with was the ‘adaptive’ mode where the braking force would automatically adjust itself using the navigation system to bring the car to a standstill without using the brakes. The level two autonomous systems worked brilliantly, only requiring assistance at traffic lights, roundabouts and coming to a stop with no car ahead of you on the road. I found myself trusting the systems almost immediately. The steering was accurate and did not have iX3 bouncing between the white lines.

When the twisty roads between towns presented themselves, I took control and engaged sport mode with maximum regeneration and found myself having much more fun than expected. Yes, the inherent feel and feedback in minimal, but the steering is quick and sharp and when applying max power out of bends there were noticeable rear-wheel-drive characteristics to be felt. Back to real world testing – the iX3 handled its weight with grace, the ride was firm in sport but the adaptive dampers meant this could easily be remedied. Being electric meant that wind and road noise could be intrusive at higher autobahn speeds, but not to uncomfortable levels. The cabin was well appointed and the usual BMW iDrive goodies are all you could want from an infotainment system. You could never tell this is a BMW that had been built in China. There was almost as much space as in a conventionally powered X3, the only difference was the marginally shallower boot as the electric motors hid beneath the boot floor.

As mentioned in the opening of this review, I can see the application and allure of having an electric car and this 150kW offering which can be charged from 0-80% in 34 minutes on an IONITY fast charger, certainly makes a case for itself. It is as comfortable and capable as I hoped with an added sense of humour. If you’re in the market for an electric family car that can take care of your simple commutes this may well be the car for you!

2020 BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupé Review

Size matters – but does 200mm make a difference? This seemingly small measure is what differentiates the 2020 BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupé from the M8, minus the GC nomenclature. However, 200mm means this M8 can accommodate an extra pair of doors and seating for five. With four in the back things are habitable. Headroom is not great, but if you wiggle them around a bit, two 6-foot adults could handle a long journey back there. You can try and shoehorn a fifth in, but they have to straddle the central armrest and make everything a little too cosy in the back seats.

Enough of the practicalities, this is an M car and all I care about is how this massive twin-turbo V8 powered 625bhp brute performs. With xDrive 553lb ft, and 0-100 banished in a supercar worthy 3.2 seconds, the numbers look good near identical to the two-door, making it BMW’s equal-fastest production model.

The xDrive means the power can be utilised, even on the road and in almost any conditions. However, weighing in at 2,055 kilograms means that this is a car which you have to consider the laws of physics in. The way speed builds is borderline scary and you’ll swear that the speedometer is making things up as the numbers rapidly approach and fly past legal limits. With a bewildering number of settings for the steering, engine, suspension and exhaust, you’ll have to find what suits you. With everything in the most aggressive settings things are a handful and the car bounces up and over bumps. Knock the suspension back into comfort and leave everything in full attack mode with the traction control in M Dynamic Mode and you’ll be having a fabulous time. The traction control system in MDM means you can apply proper slip angles on the throttle and let the xDrive system display a true sense of humour. You can, of course go to fourth base and engage rear-wheel-drive mode, but with the weight and all of that power I was not brave enough to explore this on a wet British country road, there is no way to have 100% of the power being sent to the rear with any assistance systems engaged, you are on your own.

The M8 Competition Gran Coupé does handle surprisingly well for a car of this size, I would argue that it is a viable alternative to the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-door which is worthy praise, indeed. There is a surprising amount of feedback in a car this size, but do not expect it to be as engaging as a BMW M2 CS, this is still designed to be a comfortable daily driver. This is where the M8 Competition Gran Coupé excels. The way it can be transformed from a taught speed freak into a sedate city cruiser with undeniable presence is astonishing and impressive in equal measure.

As great as a cruiser/daily driver the M8 Competition Gran Coupé is, it cannot disguise its large dimensions. The M8 coupe felt like a big car with a surprisingly small cabin and the M8 Competition Gran Coupé is not much different. On the road is looks large, I caught a glimpse of the reflection of myself in a shop window and laughed at how gargantuan the car looked. I also noticed that the car is a very good looking thing, to my eye anyway. The interior is a fantastic place to soak up the miles with all of the latest tech you could come to expect from a car priced at more than €130,000.

I would strongly recommend the M8 Competition Gran Coupé. It offers supercar performance, saloon car usability and a compelling breadth of ability. The biggest problem with the M8 Competition Gran Coupé is the BMW M5 Competition. It fulfils the same philosophy at a much lesser price. If I had the choice and did not have to consider price, the striking design and imposing face of the M8 Competition Gran Coupé would have my vote, but both would be a pleasure to own.

The Aston Martin DBS Superleggera leads this month’s list of discounts

The average price of a new car in America last year was $35,932. This month, the biggest discount off the retail price of a new car in America is awfully close to that figure at $34,001. For those keeping track (as we do every month with a post like this one), that’s by far the largest discount we’ve seen so far this year, and it means buyers of the 2020 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera are paying an average transaction price of $273,819.

The British automaker calls the DBS “the ultimate production Aston Martin.” With a 715-horsepower V12 engine pulsating underhood, sufficient to push this grand touring coupe from 0-60 in a skosh over 3 seconds and on to a top speed of 211 miles per hour, who are we to argue?

If that’s too rich for your blood — and let’s be honest, it’s still a whole heck of a lotta money — the next biggest discount might be at least a little more attractive. According to data provided by TrueCar, buyers of the 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT are seeing discounts of $23,103 off the car’s average sticker price of $159,995. That’s a heck of a lot of car for $136,892, though admittedly still expensive. But at 14.4% off retail, it’s a better deal than the $132,122 average transaction price of the 2020 BMW M8. The BMW’s $16,497 discount equals 11.1% off the M8‘s $148,619 sticker.

For a look at the best new car deals in America based on the percentage discount off their suggested asking prices, check out our monthly recap here. And when you’re ready to buy, click here for the Autoblog Smart Buy program, which brings you a hassle-free buying experience with over 9,000 Certified Dealers nationwide.

Radical BMW M3 and BMW M4 Officially Revealed

The new BMW M3 and BMW M4 have officially debuted. They must be the most talked about models in BMW’s history, owing to BMW’s new grille design.

Looking past that controversy though, there is plenty to like about the next-generation BMW M3 and BMW M4.

BMW M3 and BMW M4: Highlights

2021 BMW M3 and M4

– Powered by a 3.0 litre six-cylinder engine, producing 480 hp or 510 hp for the Competition model.
– Kidney grille allows improved air flow
– Carbon fibre roof and flared wheel arches
– Adaptive suspension and electronic dampers
– BMW Live Cockpit Professional
– Optional M Carbon Bucket Seats

BMW M3 and BMW M4: Engine and Chassis

2021 BMW M4 Exhaust Tips

Both cars are powered by a 3.0 litre, six-cylinder engine which comes in two flavours; a standard model and a Competition model. The former produces 480 hp, the latter, 510 hp.

In the BMW M3 Sedan, the 100 km/h sprint times are 4.2 seconds and 3.9 seconds respectively. The M4 Coupe manages the same statistics.

Customers will have the choice of either a six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed M Steptronic transmission. BMW plan to release a version which uses the xDrive all-wheel-drive system in summer 2021.

xDrive models will get an Active M Differential, rear-wheel-biased setup, with three selectable modes: 4WD, 4WD Sport and 2WD.

The suspension is adaptive with electronically controlled shock absorbers and M Servotronic steering. There is a new integrated braking system with two settings for pedal feel and response. M Compound brakes come as standard, with M Carbon ceramic brakes optional.

Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) includes an M Dynamic Mode and, for the first time, integrated wheel slip limitation and M Traction Control adjustable through ten stages.

BMW M3 and BMW M4: Design

Green 2021 BMW M3

Both models get distinct designs. To start with the most obvious feature, the new frameless kidney grille. It gets horizontal bars, as opposed to the traditional vertical versions.

Typical BMW wheel arch flares give both cars the M-car look, alongside M gills, side sill extensions and new front and rear aprons.

Both BMW M3 and BMW M4 get a carbon-fibre roof with aerodynamically optimised fins. There is a small rear spoiler and a familiar quad tailpipe. BMW offer a range of new, exclusive exterior paint finishes and M Carbon exterior package and BMW M Performance Parts available as options.

BMW M3 and BMW M4: Interior

2021 BMW M4 Seats

BMW’s interior is an improved version of the 4-Series interior we saw a few months ago. Both cars get BMW Live Cockpit Professional with fully digital display grouping, BMW Maps navigation system and BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant as standard.

There is a significantly expanded selection of driver assistance systems. Park Distance Control, Front Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Speed Limit Info are fitted as standard. Options include Driving Assistant Professional with Steering and Lane Control Assistant, Active Navigation, Emergency Lane Assistant, Parking Assistant with Reversing Assistant, BMW Drive Recorder and BMW Head-Up Display with M-specific displays.

There are M-specific control/operating concept with Setup button for direct access to the settings for the engine, chassis, steering and braking system. The two steering-wheel mounted M buttons return.

There is a choice of seat designs too. They include a newly developed M sport seat with fine-grain Merino leather trim and an impressive new M Carbon bucket seat, shown here in the BMW M4.

BMW M4 Photo Gallery

BMW M3 Photo Gallery

What’s hiding beneath this mystery BMW M8 mule?

Spy photos of a mystery BMW M8 mule being tested at the Nürburgring could be our first glance at BMW’s rumored 600-horsepower plug-in hybrid. The demise of BMW’s mid-engine i8 plug-in hybrid with no news of a direct replacement led us to wonder what BMW really has in store for the future of the formula, but if this early prototype is anything to go on, it may be alive and well. We’re not sure what BMW plans to call its next round of all-electric and plug-in variants, but whatever it ends up being called, the prospect is certainly fascinating. 

Let’s start with what we’re looking at. At first glance, this appears to be a fairly run-of-the-mill BMW M8 with some camouflage over the front and rear, which is about what you’d expect to see from a company that is likely developing alternative bodywork for a mid-cycle update or a new appearance package. Looking more closely, however, we see the strategic tinting of the rear window glass along with very obvious air intake vents where the rear side windows should be. Translation? There’s something back there that 1) needs air flow and 2) BMW doesn’t want us to see. 

To further grease the skids, our spies tell us that the engine in this car did not sound anything like the V8 found under the hood of either the BMW M8 or its racing variant, the M8 GTE, which carries over the former’s front-engine layout. In fact, the spy even referred to the sound as “unusual,” which could just be good salesmanship, but the fact of the matter remains that whatever is under there, it’s not from an M8, or any other 8 Series derivative currently known to us. 

Conveniently, all of the things that make this an unlikely M8 variant, from the mid-engine layout to the unconventional exhaust note, make a compelling case for it as a revival of BMW’s plug-in flagship. Even the wheels appear strikingly similar to those on the BMW Vision M Next concept the company showed at Frankfurt last year, which was said to be a plug-in hybrid with a turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine making 600 horsepower. BMW claimed it could do 0-62 mph in 3.0 seconds with a top speed of 186 mph and boasting 62 miles of all-electric range. 

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BMW Begins Development of M3 Touring… due in 2022

It’s been a bone of contention with BMW fans for many years. It’s possible to get a Sedan and Coupe variant of the M3 (or M4 as the Coupe is now known), why is can’t BMW produce a BMW M3 Touring?

It appears BMW have been listening. Yesterday, it released a teaser image, confirming that a prototype had left the factory to begin its testing phase.

BMW’s estate-bodied M-cars are among its most sought after. The combination of power, space and practicality magnetises petrol-heads like nothing else.

BMW M3 Touring Render

Since BMW’s E61 M5 Touring, there has been a hole in the market. BMW has finally decided to fill this with a new BMW M3 Touring, the first in the long history of the M3 brand.

A press release asks “How about an extra-large and highly variable luggage compartment in a high-performance sports car?”

Specifications for the BMW M3 are all but revealed. Early prototype drives confirm that the 3.0 litre inline-6 will be tuned to produce up to 510 hp in Competition trim.

The all-new BMW M4 Coupe and the new BMW M3 Sedan will be celebrating its world premiere in September. The M4 Convertible will follow next year. The M3 Touring will follow in 2022.

BMW iX3: Full Electric BMW X3 Revealed

BMW pioneered many electric car segments. Yet it’s not until now that it reveals a competitor for the most popular. The BMW iX3 marks BMW’s first attempt at an all-electric SUV.

It is also the first time BMW has applied BMW I technology in a model from the BMW core brand. Of course, the BMW iX3 is a variety of BMW’s X3 model range. As such, the X3 is now available with a petrol or diesel engine, plug-in hybrid drive system or all-electric drive system.

The BMW iX3 is the first BMW to be produced for export at its Shenyang manufacturing facility in China. The majority of BMW’s X3 range is built elsewhere at its Spartanburg plant in South Carolina, United States.

The BMW iX3 benefits from progress with BMW’s core electric systems. Power density is increased by 30 per cent over the BMW Group’s existing fully electric vehicles. Operating range, weight, installation space requirement and flexibility are all improved.

BMW has worked on packaging of its parts. Electric motor, power electronics and transmission are all arranged in a central housing for the first time.

The electronic motors produce 286 hp and 400 Nm of torque. It hits 100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.8 seconds with an electronically limited top speed of 180 km/h (112 mph). The majority of the power is routed to the rear for a proper BMW experience.

The batteries carry the iX3 a respectable 460 kilometres (285 miles) in the statutory new WLTP test cycle (up to 520 kilometres (323 miles) in the NEDC test cycle).

2021 BMW iX3 Rear

It uses Active Recuperation too, alongside Brake Energy Regeneration. At the suspension end, Adaptive suspension comes as standard.

BMW has opted to install a sound generator, named BMW IconicSounds Electric. The press release claims it has been developed in collaboration with Hans Zimmer. It will be interesting to see hear what this sounds like.

Thankfully, the BMW iX3 also gets a more conventional look than some of BMW’s other contemporary models. Key features include a new grille, re-designed front facia, blue accents and a re-designed rear apron.

Otherwise, the BMW iX3 contains all of the usual interior refinements. BMW Live Cockpit Professional with BMW Maps cloud-based navigation system and BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, all standard.

Acura NSX, a pair of 2 Series Gran Coupes and a time machine | Autoblog Podcast #628

In this week’s Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by West Coast Editor James Riswick and Road Test Editor Zac Palmer. This week, they’re driving a 2020 Acura NSX, two versions of the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe (M235i and 228i) and the updated 2020 Honda Civic Si. Then, the gang gets to talking about what they’d drive in 1975 and 1985, along with plenty of other tangents. Finally, they wrap it up with news about the upcoming 2021 Acura TLX Type S and the fate of this year’s Woodward Dream Cruise.

Autoblog Podcast #628

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2021 BMW iX3: Full Electric SUV Leaked Online

Pictures of the upcoming BMW iX3 have surfaced online. The full-electric SUV is set to go head-to-head with the established Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes-Benz EQC. The exact launch date remains to be seen as the coronavirus pandemic messes with the schedules of car manufacturers around the globe. Until then the leaked give a first glimpse at the first full-electric BMW SUV.

The photos leaked without any additional info but rumours suggest the iX3 will have a battery capacity of over 70 kWh and a range of approximately 400 km. By comparison, an I-Pace promises 470 km of range and the EQC 445 km.

The photos show an X3 with a number of key changes. BMW’s kidney grille has been covered with smaller air intakes made possible through the reduced cooling requirements of the electric drivetrain. The front bumper gets verticle air intakes and brake cooling ducts.

The wheel design looks bespoke to the BMW iX3. It likely carries an aerodynamic advantage over a more conventional version. Blue accents feature lower down the iX3 with blue trim elements placed where the exhaust might normally be found.

We have already seen a concept version of the BMW iX3 at the Beijing Motor Show 2018 which is fairly similar to the concept unveiled today. Following the unveiling of the Beijing concept car, BMW moved to trademark iX1 through to iX9, indicating that it was considering an entire range of electric models.

BMW was the first German manufacturer to launch electric and plug-in hybrid mass market models nearly 8 years ago. The 2013 i3 and 2014 i8 sported a very bold design which did not meet all expectations. The new iX3 is much more conventional in design and a close relative to the X3 both in design as well as in concept. SUVs remain hot so it will be interesting to see how well the iX3 fares compared to its combustion counterparts.

2020 Lamborghini Huracan Evo has the biggest price discount in America

Right now, buyers of the 2020 Lamborghini Huracan Evo are paying an average of $248,000 to drive the brand-new supercar off the dealer lot. That’s a hefty chunk of change, but it represents $16,269 off the car’s average $264,969 retail price, according to data provided to Autoblog by Truecar. That’s the largest discount in America on a new vehicle for the month of April, 2020 when judged by the dollar amount in savings off the sticker.

It’s not all that uncommon to see a lot of money taken off the sticker price of expensive luxury cars. This month, right behind the Lamborghini sits the 2019 BMW 8 Series with a few bucks shy of $11,000 in savings, which is hardly surprising. Though it’s a very sleek and entertaining car in some of its various incarnations, it hasn’t exactly proven to be a hot seller for the German automaker. The fact that there are a total of 15 (!) possible configurations probably doesn’t help. Two other BMWs, the 2020 7 Series ($10,164 in savings) and the 2019 i8 ($10,145) are also on the top 10 biggest discounts list.

In between that BMW sandwich are the 2019 and 2020 editions of the Acura NSX. It doesn’t really matter which one a buyer chooses to drive off the lot, either way lopping off more than $10,000 off the sticker price means the electrified supercar will cost just under $150k.

For a look at the best new car deals in America based on the percentage discount off their suggested asking prices, check out our monthly recap here. And when you’re ready to buy, click here for the Autoblog Smart Buy program, which brings you a hassle-free buying experience with over 9,000 Certified Dealers nationwide.

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BMW Concept i4: Full Electric 4-Door Coupe Previewed

BMW’s bug release yesterday was the BMW Concept i4. The German giant presented a near-production concept version of what many expect to be the next addition to BMW’s growing ‘i’ range. BMW’s i3 and i8 models were trailblazers for the electric car segment. The i4 is, on the other hand, catching up with the competition.

BMW fans are sure to be upset by the addition of the controversial vertical grilles which we know are also coming to the BMW 4 Series. It seems clear that BMW are looking to pursue this design feature. Applying the grille to both the 4 Series and the i4.

Whatever your thoughts on the BMW Concept i4’s styling, there is no denying that it is an impressive machine. With a range of up to 600 km and an equivalent 530 hp, it should arrive with blistering pace. 100 km/h is dispatched in 4.0 seconds with a top speed in excess of 200 km/h.

The exterior paint is an interesting shade of Frozen Light Copper. The colour is also applied to the BMW Vision iNEXT. On the Concept i4, blue elements accent the front end, flanks and rear.

The kidney grille is blanked-off, there is little need for cooling in this electric car. Instead, it serves as an “intelligence panel” housing various sensors.

The Concept i4 also presents BMW’s new look logo for the first time. The two-dimensional and transparent badge on the BMW Concept i4 is completely redesigned. It isn’t yet clear whether this will filter down to the rest of the range or whether it will be the preserve of the BMW ‘i’ cars.

BMW Concept i4 Rear Side

Inside, the BMW Curved Display blends the driver’s display with the infotainment screen. This exact display will be used in the production versions of the BMW iNEXT and BMW i4. Almost all of the functions are incorporated into it, such that BMW does away with conventional buttons. A central control panel replaces the gear lever with a toggle shifter.

The design of the interior blends accent strips in warm Gold Bronze with chrome. The surfaces are finished in microfibre and natural leather, tanned using olive leaf.

Three different modes define the user experience within the cockpit. “Core”, “Sport” and “Efficient” span everything from how the user experiences the display and graphics to how the interior is presented. Ambient lighting in the dashboard, doors and below the display indicate the technical adjustments. Hans Zimmer worked with BMW’s sound designer to develop the acoustic flavour of the BMW Concept i4.

Production of the new BMW i4 will begin in 2021 at the BMW Group’s main plant in Munich.


New BMW X5 M Competition Review

As the first M Powered SUV, and one of the very first modern high-performance SUV’s, the BMW X5 M is a familiar model within BMW’s range. Now in its third generation, we recently had the opportunity to sample what the M badge means to the X5 in its latest generation.

You need only look at how BMW produces the X5 these days, to realise where the bulk of its sales derive. The X5 is produced at BMW’s massive Spartanburg plant, over on the east coast of the US. Of the 12,842 second-generation X5 M’s, BMW sold a massive 30% in the US, twice as much as its second-biggest market, China, which took a 15% share.

It follows that BMW’s X5 M is not expected to sell in big numbers over the pond in Europe. With increasing emissions regulation and an established move towards hybridisation, BMW is likely to limit supplies in its home market.

The picture is entirely different in the US. Emissions regulations are less strict here, luxury is underlined with a V8 and hybrids are the new kid on the block. The X5 looks relatively refined alongside other performance SUV’s available on the US market.

BMW stuck with its big 4.4 litre V8 for its latest SUV. Carried over from the outstanding BMW M5, the X5 M gets the same two power options too; a standard model, and the Competition model. The former gets 600 hp, while the latter gets 625 hp. Torque in both models is 750 Nm. The X5 M does without any hybrid assistance, the power is instead achieved through boost from two turbochargers.

The power is routed through BMW’s eight-speed M Steptronic gearbox. Anyone familiar with the way this transmission works will recognise the M lever behind the steering wheel which allows a favoured setting to be stored in the system memory. This allows access to your favourite settings at the touch of a button.

Those settings include four individual settings. The feel of customisation is more personal than in most performance models. BMW allows individual changes in four key areas, steering, suspension, braking and drivetrain. Instead of simply shifting between generic ‘sport’ and ‘comfort’ modes, the M buttons allow the driver to pre-program favoured settings. This level of customisation is welcome.

The various modes work perfectly for the BMW X5 M. One criticism, which isn’t unique to the X5 M, is that the suspension rides stiff over bumps. The stiffness works to the X5 M’s advantage through the curves, on a cruise through town or on the school run, the crash of the suspension is made obvious. We wonder whether any of BMW’s customers will care, after all, a non-M model corrects that problem.

The location for our drive, Phoenix, is one of the driest places in the US. It rains here, on average 33 times a year. With 299 days of sunshine, it’s a close as possible to a guarantee that we would get to test the X5 M’s performance in optimal conditions. And the X5 M has plenty of performance! 100 km/h is dispatched in 3.8 seconds, 200 km/h in just 13.5 seconds. An optional M Driver’s Package increases top speed to 290 km/h.

Walking up to our test car, it is clear BMW have added their traditional sporting extras. A new front bumper and spoiler, the former opening up more space for the air intakes, the later increasing downforce on the front end. A new front grille conforms to what we expect of M powered models. At the rear, a new rear apron surrounds quad tailpipes and a rear spoiler for increased downforce.

BMW’s test models include an attractive deep blue Competition model and a white version. Our preference was for the Tanzanite Blue example.

BMW X5 M Review

Step into the cabin and the BMW X5 M feels a little like a training shoe. Whereas an Audi (for example) relies on an uncluttered dash, the BMW gets a variety of lines, levels and angles which make it feel more sporty than its competition. The now-traditional combination of a digital dash and large central infotainment screen dominate the dashboard.

Depress the starter button and a healthy V8 roar announces imminent departure. It might be the wider roadways, but the X5 M seems to fill its lane nicely. Moving from the parking lot to the side street, the highway to the interstate, it never feels unnecessarily large.

To get to the sort of roads that might test the X5 M required a significant amount of highway miles. Travelling through the baron desert, the power of the V8 made mile crunching miles extremely easy. Overtakes dispatched with ease, cruise control taking care of business, it works well as a tourer.

Yet the desert roads were just a warm-up. Prescott National Forest is where the BMW X5 M would really stretch its legs. We imagine that most customers make the decision to purchase an X5 M to own something practical, but with the ability to excite on occasion. It is important for its existence that the X5 M delivers on this front.

Deliver it does. Shifting into dynamic settings, the exhaust gets noticeably louder and the suspension stiffens further. The steering feels accurate, near perfect. The brakes, plenty strong enough to stop the heavy SUV. It corners flat and grips hard. It is a decent steer.

BMW X5 M Review

What’s missing is the advanced chassis technology of its rivals. The X5 M does without a 48-volt system, without a dynamic anti-roll bar and without all-wheel-steering. Journalists often sing the praises of these systems, yet their absence from the X5 M was not all that noticeable. The X5 M handles beautifully without them.

The problem for BMW is that competition is plentiful in this sector. The BMW X5 M has rivals from all the major manufacturers. Mercedes-AMG produces the (recently revamped) GLE 63 S, Audi recently announced the (recently released) RS Q8 and Jaguar have the F-Pace SVR.

Objectively, there is little wrong with the X5M. It handles as well as any 2-tonne SUV should. It has plenty of power. Above all, it is comfortable. This will endear it to the casual petrolhead, perhaps less so to the environmentally conscious. Will customers flock to it in preference to the above? That becomes a question for the individual customer. Brand loyalties will play a big part in this decision.

Overall, the X5 M feels like a healthy dose of analogue in an increasingly digital era. For many, that’s the appeal. With the X5 M, there is no complicated hybrid drive system, It is just you, the car and one of the greatest V8’s to date.


2020 BMW M235i Gran Coupe Review

The BMW M235i Gran Coupe is a little difficult to wrap your head around if you’re a traditionalist. For one, it is not very closely related to the outgoing, and soon to be replaced, M240i which is a coupe driven by its rear wheels and a 3-litre 6 cylinder engine. Instead, it’s more of a stretched M135i sharing the same 2-litre 4 cylinder engine and front wheel drive biased all wheel drive system (boo hiss). There will be a new M240i Coupe that will feature a 6 cylinder engine and will have the correct number of doors to wear the coupe name. Gran Coupe seems to skew more than just the number of doors in this instance.

The M235i and other 2 Series Gran Coupe models are, obviously, the result of the successes of the Audi A3 Saloon and Mercedes-Benz CLA models. Mercedes-Benz seem to have an appetite for niches and recently added an A Class Saloon to the range that makes no sense in my mind given that it looks like a slightly podgy CLA with no significant space gains. I’m sure the researchers at MB have their justifications…

Visually BMW were quick to flash up profile images of the, to my eyes, gorgeous 8 Series Gran Coupe overlaying sketches of the 2 Series Gran Coupe at the evenings press presentation. Again, to my eyes, one of these cars looks taught, sharp and rather tasty. Unfortunately the scaled down 2 Series doesn’t seem to wear the lines so well, they aren’t striking and melt away into the large and aesthetically heavy rear end.

Maybe it is a peach to drive? Well, the 1 Series is not available in China or the United States of America so it is up to the 2 Series Gran Coupe to whet the appetite of American and Chinese buyers. As a result, this is not just a stretched 1 Series. The suspension set up is softer to better accommodate poorer surfaces. The road route set up by BMW features a variety of road surfaces which the M235i I am piloting takes in its stride.

Make no mistake, the car is very good for doing the tasks that the vast majority of buyers will use their cars for, daily commutes and school runs. It is relatively spacious inside, comfortable, features tech that you would find in a 7 Series and it even feels plenty quick off the line with all wheel drive traction. 0-100 is done in 4.9 and accomplished courtesy of 306 horsepower and 450Nm.

My gripes relate to feedback and feel: there is, literally, none. Yes, the steering rack is quick and BMW have fitted a Torsen limited-slip differential in addition to the BMW Performance Control which ‘intelligently applies the brakes at the wheels on the inside of the bend before the slip threshold has been reached’ a bit like a McLaren does. As great as this sounds, the M235i GC is not engaging or particularly exciting to chuck into the bends.

Understeer still plagues the driving experience and when the front end is not pushing on, the car remains neutral and does not have you lusting to explore your favourite twisty roads with zeal. The M badge typically denotes more dynamic, and adrenaline fuelled drives. The synthesised exhaust noise is very clearly fake, more so than in other BMW models.

By no means does this mean that the 2020 M235i Gran Coupe is a bad car. If you are looking for a car to ferry your family around on short city journeys in comfort with great connectivity and convenience, this could well be the car for you. The M235i variant looks more imposing that lesser models and is well equipped. But if you’re looking for something with a little more zing, the Golf R is more dynamic and the Mercedes CLA 35 AMG is equally well appointed and feels more alive.


BMW M boss gets closer to confirming a standalone M flagship

We’re leaning ever closer to official confirmation of a standalone screamer from BMW’s M division. Auto Express spoke to brand boss Markus Flasch during the L.A. Auto Show, the German saying, “I can think of doing standalone M-cars – I like the idea, and I think we’re going to do something in this direction.” Under further questioning, specifically about whether M might have an SUV in mind for the putative offering, Flasch replied, “I don’t know. … Well I do know, but I’m not saying yet!” Other sources inside the Munich automaker apparently told Auto Express “a new car could be seen by 2021″ and bring some sort of electrification with it.

This represents noteworthy movement from BMW’s position in June, when Flasch told Australian outlet Car Sales,  “We are investigating M variants that may also be standalone, that don’t have a predecessor.” At the time, a company insider said everything was in “a very early stage” of examining body styles, and Flasch said qualified the push by saying a potential model may be a product of M division, as opposed to based on a BMW offering.

The 2021 dates carries significance because 2022 marks the M division’s 50th anniversary as an independent company. If M plans to debut something roadworthy and with production intent before the end of 2021, prototypes are no more than a year away. That means BMW has decided on the fundamentals and will be sorting out how to make them work together. The plug-in hybrid Vision M Next sounds like a long shot, though, even if BMW design chief Damagoj Dukec would like the 600-horsepower show car to get the nod, saying, “We have a heritage of bringing art cars and race cars together with M. I am convinced that this [Vision M Next] is the right way.” Flasch, however, explained that the halo “doesn’t necessarily have to be a mid-engined supercar,” only that “it has to stand out from the crowd.”

Closer to production reality, Flasch also said an electrified M car is “not too far away.” At the same time, he cautioned that adding electric aids is no panacea; “electrification is not rocket science, and it’s not the game changer [in] that people think it’s an easy answer to every question.”

BMW M2 CS Officially Unveiled

Small, high-performance BMW’s have always sold well. The BMW M2 CS will be hoping to join the long list of coveted compact two-door coupes, BMW has gained a reputation for. The standard versions of the M2 have always received glowing reviews, we expect that the newly released BMW M2 CS will be no different!


In terms of what BMW has added, the M2 CS gets a new front splitter, gurney spoiler lip for the boot lid and a redesigned rear diffuser. The parts increase downforce and improve cooling.

The bonnet gets a carbon fibre-reinforced plastic replacement with a central air vent for improved cooling. It also has the benefit of slashing the weight in half.

The M2 CS finally gets the BMW M trademark carbon fibre roof. The roof bows and insulation have been removed to save weight, which also reduces the centre of gravity.

To finish things off, the mirrors are new carbon-fibre units and the exhaust is redesigned, constructed from stainless steel. The Misano Blue metallic paint finish is unique to the CS.


The M2 CS sticks with the 3.0-litre inline-six. Power is boosted to 450 hp and 550 Nm of torque. Those figures are a 40 hp boost over the M2 Competition.

The CS now sprints to 100 km/h in just 4.0 seconds and on to a 280 km/h top speed.

The power is routed through a choice of either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed M double-clutch box. The former is standard, the latter an optional extra.


As standard, the M2 CS uses Adaptive M suspension with three modes. Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes do exactly what you would expect. The electric power steering has been fine-tuned for the CS.

The standard braking system consists of a set of 400 mm diameter front brake discs, smaller 380 mm discs are fitted to the rear. The discs are stopped by six-piston callipers and four-piston callipers at the back. Options include M carbon-ceramic brakes, Active M differential and M dynamic mode.

The M2 CS carries over the carbon strut brace found in the M2 Competition.

At the tarmac, a new Y-spoke forged wheel is shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. The finish is gloss black as standard or matt gold as an option.


Inside, the M2 CS retains the four-seater setup. The upholstery is a blend of carbon fibre, merino leather and Alcantara. The door pulls and panel trim is carbon fibre, for maximum sporting looks. The components save as much as 50% weight over conventional parts.

The door jumps include a sill plate with M2 CS badging and a set of lightweight M Sport seats lifted from the M4 CS. An M Sport steering wheel is an option, covered in Alcantara.


Red Porsche 718 Cayman GT4

In terms of competition, the M2 is difficult to match to a direct competitor. With its rear-wheel drive, small coupe setup, options are limited.

Those that look at the C 63 are more likely to consider the M4 as the natural competitor. Competitors on the other end of the scale might stretch to the Toyota Supra or the Apline A110. Neither have the same hardcore focus.

Cars like the Porsche Cayman GT4 might appeal if you are willing to sacrifice the rear seats for a similarly hardcore experience (with a heavier price tag). The Audi TT RS might also look attractive at this price point.


The BMW M2 CS will also form the basis for the BMW M Motorsport’s new amateur racing program for the 2020 season. The BMW M2 CS will be available at €95,000.



BMW X6 M50i Review

BMW created a market for the mid-size luxury crossover with the original BMW X6. When it launched, back in 2008, it was the only SUV of its kind. A sleeker, sportier version of the BMW X5, it compromised boot space and practicality for a dose of sportiness. As unique as it was aesthetically challenging, the X6 divided opinions, yet sold remarkably well.

Now in its third generation, the BMW X6 has a significant amount of competition. It blazed a trail for cars like the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe, Range Rover Velar, Porsche Cayenne Coupe and the Audi Q8. The second generation was a simple facelift. This third-generation uses a completely new platform, shared with the recently released BMW X5.

The X6 uses BMW’s latest Cluster Architecture (CLAR) platform for the first time. It underpins cars like the 7 Series and the 5 Series, with the capacity to accept fully electric drivetrains, alongside plug-in hybrid and conventional drivetrains.

The new BMW X6 measures 26 mm longer, 15 mm wider, and 6 mm lower than the outgoing model. It uses double-wishbone front suspension and a five-link rear suspension.

Dynamic dampers are a standard feature with two settings to switch the experience from comfort to sport. An Adaptive M suspension Professional system adds active roll stabilisation and Integral Active Steering. The former attaches electric motors to the roll bars while the later adds rear-wheel steering. Other optional suspension programs include air suspension which is capable of raising or lowering the ride height by 40 millimetres.

The engine also receives some work. Those who care little for the technical details, feel free to skip a paragraph or two…

The N63 4.4 litre TwinPower Turbo V8 continues to use BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive combined with an M Sport electronic differential, M Sport exhaust system and model-specific suspension tuning.

In terms of the gritty detail, it is much the same as we saw in the X5 recently. BMW engineers have utilised a stronger aluminium alloy for the engine block, wire-arc sprayed iron coatings for the cylinder walls, grafal-coated pistons and a viscous damper on the crankshaft. The changes are geared towards enhancing the smooth running of the engine.

The X6 M50i puts out 530 hp and 750 Nm of torque through an eight-speed sport automatic transmission. It hits 100 km/h in 4.3 seconds and a top speed, electronically limited to 250 km/h.

On the de-restricted sections of the autobahn, we had the X6 M50i up to 250 km/h. At that speed, it felt as though the front end was beginning to lift a little. Most owners will never push these limits though. On the twisty stuff, it feels wide. It’s not a car you could confidently place into a corner without some practice! The suspension also feels hard, even with air suspension all round. We suspect this will be less obvious in more mundane models.

If the full-blooded X6 M50i is not your cup of tea, BMW offers one other petrol model and a choice of two diesels. The BMW X6 xDrive40i uses a six-cylinder 3.0-litre engine with an output of 340 hp and 450 Nm of torque. An M50d and xDrive 30d both use a six-cylinder diesel until with 400 hp and 760 Nm of torque and 265 hp and 620 Nm of torque respectively.

Of course, if the M50i isn’t quick enough for you, BMW recently announced a new X6M. If you want ultimate performance, that’s probably the one to have. That said, the X6 M50i performs well enough that you won’t feel shortchanged. In the round, it is a well rounded package with the types of compromise you expect from a vehicle of its size.

On the outside, the design looks less shocking post-4 Series revelations. The kidney grille is the dominant feature, similar in size to the X5. BMW debuts a new concept with the X6. The illuminated kidney grille. Lights shine down from the top bars of the grille, highlighting its size. Most owners will care more about the kerb appeal than anything else, the illuminated grille is clearly designed to appeal to them.

A new set of angular headlights sit either side with a sharper front bumper. A new set of front and rear fender vents lead to broad-shouldered wheel arches. At the rear, the hatch looks similar to that of the X4. The bootlid spoiler has become an M car characteristic of late.

All in, the X6 is an evolution rather than revolution. If you liked the outgoing version then you are likely to love the updates.

Inside, the changes are similar to those found in the new X5. The dash display is fully digital. Our test model had a head-up display and the centre console featuring a large 12.3-inch display. The combination of BMW’s Operating System 7.0 and Live Cockpit Professional brings the X6 bang up to date. The system allows for remote software updates too.

The X6 was always criticised as having cramped rear seats. While the exterior proportions have grown, the interior remains cramped somewhat. Rear passengers gain a small amount of additional space, although we didn’t spend a great deal of time exploring whether the new design makes a practical difference.

An interesting feature is the BMW Display Key. Due to the short amount of time we had with the X6, it wasn’t possible to get to the bottom of its features. However, it works like a smartphone, using Near Field Communication and an integrated display to offer options that a conventional key simply will not.

From a pragmatic point of view, the X6 shouldn’t work. It is an unholy compromise between the practicality of an SUV and the sporting prowess of a coupe. That said, the demand for luxury crossover SUV’s is strong at the moment, with plenty of competition. BMW has seen huge success with previous generations of X6 and this latest version is likely to appeal to its established customer base. If it is what the people want, who are we to complain?