All posts in “BMW”

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Design

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.

Drivetrain

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.

Suspension

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.

Interior

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.

Competition

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.

Availability

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.

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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?

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BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe – BMW Reveals Front-Wheel-Drive Sedan

BMW has today announced that it will offer a BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe for the first time. The Gran Coupe model follows from the recent release of the BMW 1 Series. Interestingly, it precedes the expected release of an updated BMW 2 Series Coupe.

The 2 Series Gran Coupe is also the first front-wheel-drive BMW sedan in recent memory (aside from a 1 Series Sedan – sold exclusively in China). With the development of BMW’s xDrive platform permeating higher up in BMW’s model range, traditionalists might want to look away now!

Design

We’ve seen BMW’s Gran Coupe concept time and time before. The format is similar for the 2 Series Gran Coupe. BMW stretches the silhouette of the BMW 1 series, adding four-doors with frameless side windows and full-LED headlights as standard.

The side taper of the C-pillar is clear, accentuating the shoulders of the car. Other design elements include the contoured kidney grille bars with a different mesh design for the flagship M235i xDrive. The rear lights are completely new too, stretching further into the back until they reach a gloss black band.

The Gran Coupe measures 4.5 metres in length, 1.8 metres in width and 1.4 metres in height. Interior space has been a driving factor behind the project, BMW claims a 430-litre load space, 40 litres more than the Coupe version.

Drivetrain & Performance

The 2 Series Gran Coupe uses the FAAR platform which debuted this year in the 1 Series. The Gran Coupe is front-wheel drive predominantly; the first BMW sedan to use this configuration. Performance versions use the xDrive system in preference to BMW’s usually preferred rear-wheel-drive setup.

The 2 Series Gran Coupe also carried over the near-actuator wheel slip limitation system. A slip controller is positioned in the engine control unit rather than in the DSC system. It works together with the DSC system, to reduce the time it takes to relay information, operating ten times faster than a conventional system. Additional bracing in the engine bay and struts linking the rear sub-frame to the body improve stability.

One diesel engine and two petrol engines will be available straight away. The BMW 218i uses a three-cylinder petrol engine with 140 hp, a four-cylinder model, with 190 hp, will be available in the BMW 220d. Finally, the range-topping BMW M235i xDrive will use a 306 hp, four-cylinder engine. The US market will get an additional 231 hp BMW 228i xDrive model with the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine.

In terms of performance, the 218i hits 100 km/h in 8.7 seconds, the M235i xDrive in 4.9 seconds and the 220d in 7.5 seconds.

The power is relayed with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is an option while the eight-speed transmission is reserved for the diesel and the M235i xDrive.

The BMW M235i xDrive adds a mechanical Torsen limited-slip differential, M Sport steering and M Sport brakes. Three different suspension setups are on offer, tailored to each model. M Sport suspension reduces the ride height by 10 mm while the Adaptive suspension option includes variable damper controls.

All models will be available with a Lane Departure Warning, active lane return and collision and pedestrian warning with city braking function. Active Cruise Control, the Driving Assistant including Lane Change Warning, rear collision warning and crossing traffic warning, plus the reversing assistant are all available as options. 

Interior

Five trim levels are available; Basic, Advantage, Sport Line, Luxury Line and M Sport. Six colours will be available from launch.

Space is generous too. the 2 Series Gran Coupe offers 33 mm of extra legroom over the existing 2 Series Coupe with a seating position 12 mm higher. The rear seats split 40/20/40 to add more space.

The BMW Operating System 7.0 is installed onto the two large screens. The BMW Live Cockpit Professional increases the size of the centre screen to 10.25 inches with the further option of a 9.2-inch head-up display.

As always, iDrive Controller, touch, vice and gesture options combine for easy input of information into the infotainment system.

Competition

The BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe slots into the marketplace alongside the 1 Series. The 2 Series badge has always been reserved for a coupe version of the 1 Series, the Gran Coupe adds a Sedan body-style to the lower end of the range. BMW’s target is the young professional, clearly.

This makes BMW’s competition, the likes of the Mercedes-Benz CLA Class and the Audi A3 Sedan. Both fill niches but have sold well, marketed towards younger buyers who want something small, practical, but with a certain amount of style.

Whether you prefer one to the other likely comes down to personal choice. In terms of the 2 Series Gran Coupe’s defining features, it carries less luggage than the Mercedes-Benz but more than the A3 Sedan. Infotainment is also likely to factor in any buying decision.

Availability

The 2 Series Gran Coupe will make its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show 2019 which takes place towards the end of November.

Afterwards, expect a market launch in March 2020 with sales to begin soon after

Pricing in Germany will start at €31.950 for the BMW 218i, with the range-topping BMW M235i xDrive commanding €51,900.

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BMW 530 MLE Fully Restored: First M Model Unofficially

At the start of the year, we brought you a story about how BMW South Africa had located one of 110 Type 1 530 MLE. The MLE is an important part of BMW Motorsport history. Built to homologate a BMW race car, it was the first road-going BMW built by BMW Motorsport and the first ‘M-car’.

The restoration is finally complete with the restored BMW 530 MLE unveiled at the “Home of BMW Legends”, BMW Group Plant Rosslyn. The grand unveiling of the MLE took place in front of four BMW Group South Africa employees who were on hand to build the original more than four decades ago.

The BMW 530 Motorsport Limited Edition was produced on the southern tip of Africa as part of a limited production run. BMW were keen to compete in the flagship Modified Production Series in South Africa. Starting in 1976, BMW South Africa ran a car in the Series, achieving fifteen wins from 15 consecutive starts and 3 championship titles in three consecutive years. BMW eventually retired the 530 MLE in 1985 as the most successful racing BMW 5 Series in history.

In order to compete in the series, it was necessary for BMW to homologate the 530 MLE. 110 units of the Type 1 530 MLE were produced in 1976, with a further 117 versions of the Type 2 530 MLE built on the production line at the BMW Group Plant, Rosslyn in 1977. Very few of these cars are still on the road.

The car is quite special in its own right. It has a 3.0 litre straight six which originally produced around 197 bhp together with 277 Nm of torque, a 208 km/h top speed and a 0 – 100 km/h sprint time of 9.3 seconds. In the context of modern performance, this might not seem a huge amount of pace, in the mid-1970’s it would have been class-leading! The BMW 530 Motorsport Limited Edition also featured weight-reduction measures that included bodywork and pedals drilled by hand, manual windows with no air conditioning, and Mahle wheels.

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2019 BMW M8 Competition Coupe and Convertible Review

The BMW M8 Competition is a difficult car to place. The replacement of the M6 is tagged by BMW as being a luxury GT car, but one that packs 625 horsepower and 750Nm of torque. Those aren’t numbers that are used to waft from the country estate to the golf course, something I learnt when I went to The Algarve to put the most powerful series production M car in BMW’s history to the test.

After an evening of being inundated with stats and filled with the finest prawns I’ve ever eaten, it was time to see how the figures felt in the real world. Exploiting 625 horsepower on the street isn’t exactly easy, the infamous Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, colloquially referred to as Portimao, had been booked out for us to put the M8 Competition through its paces (the base M8 was not on offer to test on this occasion). Boy, oh boy there was pace. BMW claims 0-100km/h in 3.3 and it feels every bit as fast. 3.3 isn’t a number typically attributable to a wafty GT car, and neither is the way the M8 Competition handles itself around what is one of the most testing tracks in Europe. Stability and control were a focus for the M division and can be directly linked to three innovations that have been created with sharp handling characteristics in mind: M xDrive, Active M Differential and M-specific Adaptive suspension. They each do what they say on the tin and each element takes the poise of the M850i and turns it up a notch to far more serious, track usable levels.

Yes, the car still feels all of two tonnes when you really start to hustle it into bends and quick direction changes, but you’ve got to be forcing it into such a scenario. I suspect 98%, if not more, of owners will never venture onto a track with their M8, but it’s spectacular to know how capable the car can be. The xDrive system deserves a special mention as it allows you to apply power extremely early after an apex, you feel it dragging the car out with terrific grip and speed. That’s not to say that there isn’t fun to be had, with the traction and stability systems in MDM, the rear end comes in to play and is easily adjustable on the throttle.

The 4.4-litre V8 revs to 7,200 but peak power is done at 6,000. The 750Nms come courtesy of two turbochargers that are nestled between the two cylinder banks for a sharper response and less lag. This unit teams up with an eight-speed M Steptronic transmission which is as good as any dual clutch setup on sale today, you are never left helplessly tugging at paddles for downshifts multiple times before they are delivered.

Braking performance is often a point of criticism on BMW M cars, even the carbon ceramic setups of the past have been known to find themselves in a spot of smokey bother after a couple of intense laps on track, not in the M8. Thanks to cutting-edge technology, the brake activation, brake booster and braking control functions are brought together within a compact module. The brake pressure required is triggered by an electric actuator, which means it can be generated more dynamically, pedal feel is optimised and the interventions from the stability control system are significantly faster and more precise. The driver can choose between two pedal feel settings: one more comfort-oriented and the other a particularly direct, instantaneous setting. I can report that the feel remains remarkably consistent even after a pounding on the track.

As I said, I can never imagine myself seeing an M8 on track except for in special circumstances such as a motoGP safety car. The road is where M8s will be used and that’s where the real world consumer testing needs to be done.

Weighing in at 2.1 tonnes, the convertible M8 Competition is around 100 kilograms more than the Coupe and is the variant assigned for the road testing element of the test. It is 0.1 seconds slower to 100 (3.4 seconds) but with the roof retracted the sensation of speed is heightened.

With every new car review I write, I seem to drone on and on about the crippling OPF that has restrained the exhaust noises that enthusiasts so crave. The story is the same here and the soundtrack is not what you would traditionally associate with a 4.4 V8. That being said, M have worked hard to give the M8 some serious bass. It’s not great, it’s acceptable.

On the billiard table smooth tarmac of the track the steering felt numb, there is more weight in the sportier modes, but the feel is absent. The same can be said for the steering on the road. So not very good then? Hold your horses, the M8 really surprised me on the deserted, tight and twisty roads away from the circuit. The coupe was great on track, the convertible continued to exceed expectations on the street. The xDrive system means you can use the power and mammoth torque without fearing for your life, the systems mentioned before, particularly the suspension and diff shine and come together to make the M8 not only savagely fast, but also very easy to drive at speed.

Then you slow down to admire the scenery and stick everything into comfort and the character of the car completely changes – it demonstrates an impressive breadth of ability. The cabin is comfortable, the seats could be a little more supportive but are well suited to long drives. The back seats are usable for adults too, perhaps not for longer journeys but certainly suitable for children. The infotainment system remains one of the best in the business and there are new M displays to separate this from the rest of the 8 family. Gone is the questionable crystal gear selector from lesser 8 series models.

This brings me back to my opening statement: the M8 is a difficult car to place. Is it a 911 competitor? I feel it’s not sporty enough and lacks feel in comparison to the Porsche. Maybe the Bentley Continental GT or DB11? I feel the M8 is not premium enough. The Aston Martin Vantage or AMG GT could be in the sights of the M8, but neither of those can demonstrate the soft, supple cruising abilities of the M8 Competition. Regardless, the M8 Competition stands tall and proud as the current head of the BMW M table with the ability to cruise quietly or attack a road with seemingly endless torque and power. A mighty fine M car.

GTSPIRIT NEWSLETTER

450hp Manual: Details Leaked on 2020 BMW M2 CS

Details on the BMW M2 CS are beginning to emerge. Alleged leaks apparently confirm key aspects of the hardcore 2 Series model. The details allegedly arrive through attendees of a private event in Belgium last week.

The Bimmerpost insider confirmed that BMW’s 3.0 litre straight six engine will get a boost up to 450 hp. The power will be fed to the rear wheels through a manual gearbox with the automatic DKG gearbox an option.

BMW will also fit active suspension And updated sports brakes with red calipers. Carbon ceramic brakes will be optional. The M2 CS will be offered with 763 M wheels in gold or black, with regular or sport cup tires.

Plenty of carbon fibre components will complement the looks. A new hood, roof, outside mirror covers, trunk lip spoiler, front spoiler lip, rear diffuser, central console and door handle will all feature carbon fibre elements. The M2 CS badge is apparently finished in chrome and Alcantara also features heavily in the door and seat design.

The seats are lifted straight from the M4 Competition seats and feature red stitching. The back seats are now fixed so cannot be folded. BMW are expected to offer just 4 colours for the M2 CS; Alpine White, Misano Blue, Hockenheim Silver and Saphire Black.

We are expecting to see the BMW M2 CS very soon with production of the 2,200 models to begin in April.

GTSPIRIT NEWSLETTER

BMW X6 Painted in Vantablack: Blackest Black Paint in the World

BMW will have a new paint concept on display at the Frankfurt Motor Show 2019 later this year. The car in question is a relatively mundane BMW X6. The unique aspect to it is a Vantablack light absorbing paint.

The paint is a material developed by British company NanoSystems. It is among the darkest shades available and absorbs up to 99.96% of visible light. As a result, the design lines of the BMW X6 are almost completely lost. BMW describe it as “a rather unsuitable vehicle paint finish”.

To give it its true name, the car is covered in Vantablack VBx2 nanostructure paint. It is the first (and likely last) time that the paint has been used on a car. The idea behind its application to the X6 is to highlight the butch silhouette and key design features such as the kidney grille.

As BMW point out, the Vantablack paint would be useless as a real-world option. It uses carbon nanotubes with a length of 14 to 50 micrometres, and a diameter of 20 nanometres – around 5,000 times thinner than a human hair. Around a billion of these vertically aligned carbon nanotubes fit into one square centimetre. Any light striking this surface is almost completely absorbed rather than reflected, and effectively converted into heat.

Vantablack is more normally applied to telescopes and military resources, having excellent thermal camouflage properties and the ability to trap unwanted light.

GTSPIRIT NEWSLETTER

Krautmotors Custom Made a BMW F 850 GS Motorcycle in Honor of the 100th Anniversary of Bauhaus

This year is the 100th anniversary of the Staatliches Bauhaus, aka Bauhaus, aka one of the most influential art schools and design movements of all time. In order to celebrate that influential centenary, Krautmotors custom-built…

10 Cool Cars From the 2000s Sure to Become Future Classics

Automotive nostalgia for the Nineties is having a moment. (Call it the Radwood effect.) After all, fawning over rad Japanese tuner cars from those days is more fun than reconciling ourselves with the fact that it’s been 25 years since Weezer’s self-titled blue album came out.

But all this enthusiasm for the 1990s had us wondering: Could the 2000s be next? Prices for cars from that era are still reasonable. And the defining features of many fun cars of the era — manual transmissions, naturally aspirated engines, not being crossovers — should age well moving forward.

Here, then, are 10 future classics for your consideration (and potential investment in).

BMW M3 (2000-2006)

There are the uber-purists who believe BMW lost its way in the early 1990s. For everyone else, the early 2000s were the halcyon days for BMW, with that era’s cars being a perfect fusion of modern engineering, classic BMW driving dynamics, and somewhat-conservative styling.

The E46-generation M3 may be, simply, the best car BMW has ever built. It packed the S54 3.2-liter naturally aspirated inline-six engine, with 338 horsepower and an 8,000 rpm redline. Whether it would come with a six-speed manual was a question one need not bother asking.

Honda S2000 (1999-2009)

The Honda S2000 may be the ultimate purists’ roadster. The original version had a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter VTEC putting out 247 hp — an impressive 123 hp per liter. It (only) had a six-speed manual, 50/50 weight distribution, and rear-wheel drive. With a 9,000 rpm redline and a power curve that topped out right near that limit, it was built to be driven hard. It’s also not bad to look at, whether it’s from before or after the 2004 facelift.

Audi TT (1998-2006)

The Audi TT was one of the most stunning, innovative concept cars ever — and it made it to production with its sleek Bauhaus look intact. The TT Mk1 was far more of a cruiser than a track car; the first models had to be recalled for dangerous handling at high speed. But a 225-hp engine, a smooth Audi six-speed stick, and baseball-stitched leather made it a fun car for most drivers. The best testament to the TT may be how many owners have pushed them past 150,000 miles.

Dodge Viper (1996-2002)

The Dodge Viper was the proud antithesis of the modern sports car. It had a stupidly large engine, a manual transmission, and no driving aids whatsoever. (Look out for trees.) The second-generation SR II had an 8.0-liter V10 putting out 450 hp and a six-speed manual. It kept the distinctive styling and stripped-down feel of the original, but in addition to a power upgrade, the later model added features like airbags, standard AC, and anti-lock brakes — things any sane driver would want.

Ford Mustang (2005-2014)

With the S197 — better known as the fifth-generation model — Ford decided the Mustang should look like the Mustang again. The company emulated the boxier style of the first generation and produced its best-looking Mustang since the original. It was not a mind-blowing performance upgrade over the fourth-gen, but it held true to Ford’s initial vision for a car that looked awesome, made a lot of noise and came at a price nearly everyone could afford. Indeed, it may have been too affordable: Ford opted to axe an independent rear suspension that would have improved the ride significantly but made it much more expensive.

Jaguar XK (2007-2014)

The Jaguar XK was Jaguar’s 2+2 grand tourer. Famed designer Ian Callum penned the second generation, and it was one of the cars that helped reestablish Jaguar as a sporty, sexy car manufacturer. There was no manual option, only a six-speed ZF automatic, but the XK makes up for it by offering three variants: naturally aspirated V8, supercharged V8, and even beefier supercharged V8. This wasn’t a Bond car, but it’s a car that can make you feel like James Bond on a budget: Even well-kept performance XKR versions with low mileage gavel for less than $30,000 on Bring a Trailer.

Volkswagen Golf R32 (2004)

The R32 is among the standouts from the Volkswagen Golf line. It was VW’s halo Golf for the Mk4 generation, and only sold in the U.S. for the 2004 model year. The R32 had every option and a massive (for a hot hatch) 3.2-liter VR6 engine putting out 238 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. It also came with two excellent transmission options, a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual clutch transmission — the first to appear in a production car.

Saab 9-5 Aero (2000-2009)

Saabs were quirky, comfortable and Swedish — before the fallout of the GM bankruptcy made the brand all but defunct in the early 2010s. The 9-5 Aero was a performance version of the 9-5 executive sedan. It was a Saab that could haul ass — to a degree. The torque-heavy 2.3-liter turbo four’s output figures of 250 hp and 258 lb-ft were reportedly significantly understated. It could also be fitted with a five-speed manual.

Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG (2003-2006)

The second-generation Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG was the precursor to the E63 AMG. It came as both a sedan and a wagon, and its supercharged 5.4-liter V8 produced 469 hp and 516 lb-ft. When new, it was the fastest four-door vehicle in the world: It accelerated from 0-100 mph in less than 10 seconds, more than a second quicker than the Audi RS6 and faster than a Corvette Z06. It only offered a five-speed automatic, because Mercedes’ seven-speed at that time could not handle the torque.

Pontiac Solstice GXP (2007-2009)

GM gave the Pontiac brand the boot during its restructuring — sadly, just as it was producing fun, intriguing cars. The Solstice was a classic two-seater, available as a coupe or a convertible. The GXP version had a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four putting out 260 hp and 260 lb-ft (though it could be tuned beyond that at the dealer) and an available five-speed manual. It weighed less than 3,000 pounds, and accelerated from 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds. The car’s production also included some period-perfect GM cost-cutting measures, but we won’t hold that against it.

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1 of 1 BMW X7 Pick-up Revealed

BMW recently revealed photos of a one-off BMW X7 Pick-up. Developed by trainees at the BMW Munich plant, the German company has no plans to put it into production. Instead, it was built to support the company’s BMW Motorrad Days.

The project was realised alongside BMW’s Concept Vehicle Construction and Model Technology divisions. The X7 gets bodywork 10 cm longer than the standard model. CFRP on roof components, rear doors and the rear lid helps shed 200 kg over the standard X7 model.

The loading compartment gets a fine-polished wood finish, a height-adjustable two-level air suspension. The combination of honey-coloured teakwood and the BMW Individual colour Tanzanite Blue metallic works perfectly.

The BMW X7 Pick-up is based on the platform of the BMW X7 xDrive40i. This means that it receives the 3.0 litre inline 6 cylinder engine, rated to 340 hp and 450 Nm of torque.

The work was completed by twelve trainees from the occupational sectors body and vehicle mechanics (m/f/x), vehicle mechatronics (m/f/x) and technical model construction (m/f/x) departments. It took 10 months of work to realise the project with the trainees given free-reign.

BMW Trainees Converted an X7 into a One-Off Pick-Up Truck

The BMW X7 is certainly a capable vehicle when it comes to hauling the family, a weekend worth of stuff and maybe even some bikes on the back. But what if you want to haul…

2020 BMW X6: 3rd Generation X6 Revealed

BMW has unveiled a brand new version of the BMW X6. The original, niche-filling SUV receives a complete redesign for its third generation. The design and engine changes are of paramount importance now that BMW has strong competition in the form of the Porsche Cayenne Coupe and the Audi Q8.

BMW’s X6 completes a series of redesigned BMW SUV’s which include the X5 and X7. The design is not far removed from the outgoing X6, it does not need to be. It is 26 mm longer, with a 42 mm longer wheelbase and 15 mm of additional track. Boot capacity remains the same though, presumably occupants benefit from the increase in proportions.

A key feature of the design is the kidney grilled which are massive, in line with the modifications made the X5 last year. Elsewhere, there are new headlights (LED’s as standard with Laserlight as an option), a broader body and a sharper kind to the rear. BMW have added venting to the rear arches, a near front arch vent and a tail spoiler. There are a few interesting options too, including an illumintated kidney grille.

The new range will include two petrol engines, the xDrive40i and the M50i with its 4.4 litre V8 and 530 hp. Two diesel options will also be offered in select markets in the form of an xDrive30d and M50d with a 400 hour, six cylinder engine. All are coupled to an eight-speed steptronic transmission.

At the chassis side of things, air suspension is an optional extra with automatic self-leveling. Dynamic Damper Control is included as standard, the Adaptive M suspension Professional with active roll stabilisation and Integral Active Steering are all optional extras.

Inside, BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional and Intelligent Personal Assistant are available as standard. This consists of two 12.3 inch displays, one replacing the dahsboard dials, the other in the centre console. Standard sports seats are included together with Vernasca leather. Options include wireless charging and Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System.

The BMW M5 Competition Is the Sports Sedan Supercar

The True Ultimate Driving Machine

The 2020 BMW M5 Competition is a special car. It takes the attractive but not ridiculously sporty looking 5-Series as a base for the car and then turns the dials up to 11. The car comes with 617 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque and that power gets sent to all four wheels via a slick 8-speed dual clutch transmission. That makes for a 0-60 mph time of just 3.1 seconds and a 10.9-second quarter-mile time.

The car is even more hardcore than the standard M5. Its minor power bump is complimented by 10 percent stiffer dampers. The anti-roll bars are also stiffer, and the car rides .28 inches lower. Instead of rubber mounts for the toe links, this car gets ball joints. All told the M5 is a sharper, stiffer, and even more performance-oriented M5. It should have no trouble competing with Mercedes-AMG E 63 S, and the Audi RS7 Performance. 

BMW M5 CompetitionBMW M5 Competition
Image from BMW

Autoblog was able to take the M5 Competition to a racetrack in Monticello, New York, and came away from the experience seemingly in love with the car. Here’s a bit of what Lawrence Ulrich said in his review: 

So is the BMW fun on track? Yes, in a mildly silly, tiger-shark-out-of-water fashion. But it’s twice as fun on the street, where the M5 Competition underscores its Autobahn-style ferocity and magisterial handling. Mopar fans may howl, but in most street situations, the M5 Competition will easily smoke even a Dodge Challenger Hellcat from a stoplight – minus the smoke. Where even skilled drivers can struggle to launch the rear-driven Hellcat without the tires lighting up like Cheech and Chong, the BMW sends every molecule of rubber and scrap of torque to the pavement.

That’s high praise for any car, and you have to give it to BMW. It sounds like they have a real winner on their hands. The 2020 BMW M5 Competition starts at $110,995. The car that Ulrich of Autoblog tested came with the carbon-ceramic brakes and that made the price rise to $132,095. Pricey, but we think this is one BMW that’s worth the price. 

BMW Vision M NEXT Concept

Every automaker is at least thinking about an autonomous driving future, even if they’re not doing anything about it. BMW’s Vision NEXT concepts have addressed that, but now they’ve made a driver’s concept car for…

BMW Vision M NEXT Revealed with 600hp Hybrid Engine

BMW M has this morning set out its vision for the immediate future. The BMW Vision M Next Concept previews what BMW considers to be its future, past the ageing BMW i8. The i8 has been a game changer in many respects, however, it now faces stiff competition with most manufacturers keen to muscle in on its eco-performance niche.

The BMW Vision M Next Concept uses a traditional petrol engine coupled with an electronic motor to produce power. The petrol unit is turbocharged and four-cylinders. Combined with the electric motors, it produces an impressive 600 hp. This, BMW states, is enough for a 300 km/h (186 mph) top speed and a 3 second 100 km/h sprint time. That power is not available all the time though. It is accessed through a BOOST+ mode, although it is not clear how long the boost is provided. It should do 100 km on battery power alone.

The looks are very similar to those of the existing i8. The BMW Vision M Next Concept remains a two-seater with a low slung, supercar type shape. It uses carbon fibre bodywork and a throwback exterior design. Looking closely at the concept, the rear view is heavily inspired by the BMW M1. Inside, things are very futuristic with a curved driver display and a dragster style steering wheel.

The replacement for the BMW i8 is expected debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show 2019 in September. The i8 is part of a wider BMW program called ‘Strategy One Next’ which aims for up to 25 electrified BMW models to be on sale by 2025.