BMW i4 Poses For The Camera In New Spy Photos

By: Anthony Karr - Moror1

It may look almost ready for production but it won't come before 2021.

It was April this year when we last saw BMW testing the i4 all-electric sedan and the four-door vehicle is now back again in a new batch of spy photos. Unfortunately, these shots don’t provide a better look at the car but it’s always interesting to see what a manufacturer is doing while developing a new model for the market.

The only easily visible change compared to the previous spy photo sessions is the lack of winter tires. The grippy Dunlop SP Winter Sport rubber from the winter testing phase is now gone and in place BMW puts a set of wider and quieter summer tires, which probably have significantly lower rolling resistance.

Everything else seems to be unchanged, at least on the surface, which means the familiar shape is visible but not completely uncovered. It’s probably safe to say the i4 will look a lot like the current 4 Series Gran Coupe, at least in terms of the overall profile, but the nose and the roofline will obviously be different.

BMW’s highly adaptable CLAR platform will form the foundation of the all-electric sedan, thanks to its flexible design that allows the integration of gasoline, diesel, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric powertrains. Reports from earlier this year suggest the production model will be available in two variants, with 60- or 80-kilowatt-hour battery packs.

Also, AWD and RWD versions will be available, depending on the powertrain layout (one or two electric motors). The most powerful i4 should be able to hit 62 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour) in approximately four seconds. The range between two chargers will likely be below 300 miles (483 kilometers).

While this prototype looks close to the model’s final production design, the i4 is actually nowhere near ready. Preliminary details suggest we’ll see the car in full at the 2021 Frankfurt Motor Show and maybe a concept previewing it could arrive sometime next year.

Photos: CarPix

BMW Vision M Next Concept Debuts Stunning Shape, 600 Horsepower

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BY: JEFF PEREZ, Senior Editor

Could this concept preview a more-powerful i8 successor? We hope.

The i8 amplified BMW's EV cred when it debuted in 2014 (as did the i3 when it debuted the year prior). But both of these EVs are aging, and with newer, more advanced alternatives on the market, BMW needs to up its game. Enter the Vision M Next Concept coupe: a new, electrified two-door that previews the future of BMW’s battery-powered tomorrow. 

It Might Just Happen:

Production BMW Vision M Next Could Happen With Enough Interest

Debuting at BMW's NextGen conference in Munich, the Vision M Next Concept shares a lot of its styling details with the i8. But the latest BMW concept introduces what the company calls its "D+ACES" building blocks of the future. That initialism consists of five key points: design and autonomous driving, connectivity, electrification, and services. Dig a little deeper, and those unusual details set this stunning coupe concept apart from its production sibling.

The BMW Vision M Next Concept distinguishes itself visually from the i8 (and anything, really) with unique color blocking at both ends. The front and rear portions of the vehicle, finished in a matte neon Thrilling Orange paint job, pop against the rest of the concept’s silk-matte Cast Silver metallic paintwork. The wheels are notable, too. The front rims wear a traditional silver-and-black two-tone finish, while the rear sets use the same spoke design, but now with Thrilling Orange inserts to match the body.

Of course, the iconic dual kidney grille carries over. And as with most modern BMWs, it takes up a significant portion of the front fascia. In this case, it also hides Thrilling Orange inserts behind it. But the M Next Concept also marks the debut application of innovative Laser Wire light technology. BMW describes the new light technology as, "a single wafer-thin glass fiber that produces an abstract ECG trace of a heartbeat fashioned with pin-sharp precision."

Power for the M Next Concept comes courtesy of a four-cylinder gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain producing a total output of 600 horsepower (441 kilowatts). All that power gives it a blistering zero to 62 mile-per-hour (100 kilometers per hour) time of 3.0 seconds, and a top speed of 186 mph (300 kmh); an available "BOOST+" function adds extra oomph at the push of a button. All the while, the M Next Concept still manages up to 62 miles (100 kilometers) of pure electric driving.

The M Next Concept’s interior is as radically styled as its exterior suggests. Facial recognition opens the gullwing doors with simply a glance. Once inside, an augmented reality head-up display, curved glass center display, and sleek digital dashboard display information in real time.

"The BMW Vision M Next provides a glimpse into the future of sporty driving," says Adrian van Hooydonk, senior vice president of BMW Group Design. "Where the BMW Vision iNEXT illustrated how autonomous driving is set to transform life on board our vehicles, the BMW Vision M NEXT demonstrates how state-of-the-art technology can also make the experience of driving yourself purer and more emotionally engaging."

HERE'S HOW THE 2020 BMW M8 STACKS UP AGAINST ITS PREDECESSOR

By: Wesley Wren - Autoweek

Comparing the facts and figures of the BMW M6 and the new M8

The team at BMW finally showed off the road-going version of the M8, which finally rounds out the legendary M-line of cars. Naturally, we had to dig through the archives to see how the latest and greatest stacks up with what it’s replacing: the M6. Since these BMW bruisers are separated by a handful of technologically important years, we’re going to focus on the things that matter most: horsepower, torque and size.

Just on exterior dimensions, the M6 and the M8 are not too far apart. As far as total length, the 2020 M8 comes in at an impressive 191.61 inches. That might seem odd to those with photographic memories of BMW spec sheets, as the departed M6 Competition was actually longer at 193.00 inches. The Gran Coupe was longer still, at a solid 197.50 inches. As for width, the new M8 is wider than the M6 by a scant 0.27 inch. The folks at BMW did make the new M8 lower than the M6, with the M8 rising to 53.62 inches and the M6 reporting 54.10 inches.

Now that we have those shell numbers out of the way, how does the M6 Competition stack up with the current M8 under the hood? Well, pretty well actually. The 2020 M8 makes 600 hp out of its 4.4-liter turbocharged V8, with the M6 making 600 bhp out of the essentially the same engine. The M8 Competition pushes those figures further to 617 hp, tipping the scales in the new Bimmer’s favor.

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The engine’s torque, on the other hand, gets a significant boost from technological advances. The new M8 makes 553 lb-ft of twist across the curve, with the M6 making only 516 lb-ft. All this power helps move about the same weight: The M8 hits the scales at 4,295 and the M6 reports in at 4,250. That weight penalty does include an all-wheel-drive system for the M8.

The transmission is another place where time appears to favor the M8. The 2020 model features an eight-speed automatic whereas the M6 stuffed only seven gears inside of its case. It should be noted that the M8 will feature a more traditional torque converter automatic behind its engine, with the M6 using a sportier double-clutch style automatic. The transmission switch and other engine technologies to make the 4.4-liter V8 more efficient also manages to squeeze more miles out of a gallon of fuel. If the wholly accurate online converter rings true, the M8 reportedly sips a gallon of fuel every 22 miles in combined use on the Euro cycle, with the M6 burning that same gallon in only 16 miles. Note, however, the M8 will likely receive slightly different figures for fuel economy once it’s finally certified by the fine folks at the EPA.

All this boils down to the M8 being the spiritual and literal successor of the M6. That means devotees of the large and in charge Bimmer won’t have much to complain about when they replace their six with an eight. The M8 might be only a few years removed from the M6, and the numbers kind of show that -- but the performance figures and fuel economy point toward the benefits of technology.

Microsoft & BMW partner for a productive virtual assistant

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By Nicole - MobileGeeks

Microsoft & BMW partner for a productive virtual assistant (Demo)

A few months ago at CES, BMW launched a personal assistant for its cars, today that assistant gets smarter with the help of Microsoft’s virtual assistant. BMW has partnered with Microsoft to build a virtual assistant for their cars, the automaker already has already begun optimizing their assistant to control their cars, Microsoft’s will become apart of offering a higher level of productivity to its drivers.

Currently, BMW’s assistant is focused on car, BMW Intelligent Personal  Assistant, it’s focused on things like adjusting the temperature and changing the music. Microsoft is stepping in with a whole new focus, one that aims to make your time in the car more productive.

BMW and Microsoft’s partnership will pair the productive nature of Microsoft’s platform with the vehicle. Let’s say you want to call into a meeting while you’re in the car, without a partnership the car might leave the windows open and the music volume up when it made the call. To be truly useful to the driver the car needs to respond to the requests as well.

At BUILD I got a demo of the Microsoft’s Virtual Assitant Solution Accelerator, for this demo they named it Joy, in action, the demo was real-time running on LTE in the cloud. There was some latency which is normal for the show floor environment and the guys from Microsoft showed to do lists and calendars updating real time with new entries. Joy, the virtual assistant was even updated to greet Nicole from Mobile Geeks! There are plans to eventually move some of the functionality directly on to the edge to increase stability and speed.

In the demo in addition to the use of natural language with responses to questions like “Sure” or “That sounds good” you can see Microsoft’s graph in action when he asks Joy to call Alex. Joy suggests an Alex that you might want to reach. Why this is interesting is because Joy was able to identify which Alex you were trying to reach based on Microsoft’s Graph. It securely maps the relationships between people, information and activities within the context of an organization to show connection points and insights to improve the ways people work and work together. Joy was able to figure out which was the right Alex based on your current connections.

It’s one thing for your car to have access to your email, tasks and calendar but it’s another to be able to make changes to them from the car. In the past, I’ve noticed a few manufacturers have only been able to roll out read-only access to these things and didn’t have the ability to make changes. We truly appreciated being able to see the elements on the tablet update real time.

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When it comes to email integration in the car you’ll be able to access Microsoft email services as well as Google’s services. In case you were worried you might have to switch back to Hotmail to take advantage.

BMW is aiming to have a flexible platform as they are also partnered with Amazon Alexa. Speaking with Philipp-Peter Altmann, from BMW’s Conversational AI Platform he viewed multiple voice assistants as a value add for the consumer.

“People know which assistants are right for what task based on how they might use them in the rest of their lives”. Alexa is suited for shopping and making purchases where Microsoft has a productivity focus. BMW isn’t an expert in these areas, they are mobility experts who are partnering with other platforms to offer the most complete set of services they can to their customers.

Personally, we’re suspicious of Amazon’s entry into the automotive space, it’s giving the services platform entry into the car. Sure, it seems innocent enough to put in your grocery order on your drive to work, but car manufacturers need to transition into service providers. Car ownership models are changing and shopping through your car’s virtual assistant will be an important revenue stream in the future. Having said that, this is the same in that Microsoft is getting with BMW using the Azure platform to run the assistant from. Microsoft will be able to use their AI services to determine what types of behavior drivers are exhibiting in the car and suggest what services BMW should look at building out. For example, if people are ordering a lot of coffee in the morning getting Starbucks on board to place coffee orders natively through the virtual assistant would be recommended.

However, this issue isn’t exclusive to BMW, all manufacturers are partnering with tech companies to fill the knowledge gap.

Microsoft has been entering into the automotive space over the last year and we’re starting to see signs of what they have been working on. We’re excited to see in-vehicle assistance get any additional boost in intelligence. As cars work towards autonomous drive the industry needs to work towards increasing the productivity of the people who will ride in them. The major benefit of self-driving cars in making the roads safer, but I often hear that this will give me more time to relax and watch Netflix. Binge watching a series should be much lower on the list of things that I’ll be able to do when my car is driving me home. This Microsoft’s virtual assistant is a step in the right direction.

All-New 2019 BMW X4 is meshing of coupe-crossover

By John Stein / Stein ProContent

The BMW X4 gives us a new feel for 2019 with even sportier proportions, a wider track, and the latest generation suspension settings, according the BMW. A profile of the X4 flaunts a lower center of gravity and the obvious nod to extreme aerodynamics.

I was not a fan of the previous generation X4. To me, it looked like it wanted to be an SUV, but just couldn’t find that sports coupe common ground (if there really is any). This 2019 model with its trademark fastback look meshes the two variants much more seamlessly with a handsome and athletic-looking exterior design.

Cabin

The cabin of the new X4 is roomier and even more accommodating than the outgoing model. Gauges and controls are in clear sightlines and bold enough to enjoy without being obnoxious. According to BMW, the low instrument panel and the slightly raised seating position afford drivers a great view of the road ahead. I’d have to agree, it felt very easy to see and operate everything from the driver’s seat.

BMW says the redesigned sports seats with boldly contoured side bolsters provide outstanding lateral support even in extreme handling situations. Premium-level materials, precise build quality and a host of well-crafted details set the tone for the elite character of the X4. A choice of six colors allows you to set the interior mood (I never quite found my perfect mood, or color, but it was fun playing).

Performance

Two engine configurations are available, with the base powerplant, fitted to the model designated X4 xDrive30i, is a twin-turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder good for 248 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque.

I had the pleasure of testing out an X4 M40i variant, which features a turbocharged 3.0-L inline six-cylinder with 355 horsepower and 365 lb.-ft. torque. Both available engines drive all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission.

The M40i’s electrically assisted variable sports steering system is tuned for three distinct drive settings. The normal Comfort driving mode requires the most effort with noticeable changes getting lighter as you move to Sport and Sport+. It might seem like you would just put it in Sport and forget about ever changing it, but trust me, you need to change it up, even over the course of just one week of testing. Adding effort to the steering doesn’t really enhance my feel for the road, and the Sport setting was the best for me, with the Comfort mode best on a long road trip.

The M40i has standard M Sport brakes featuring a larger master cylinder and really cool, blue-painted calipers that let it be known you are driving something with a lot of capability. With the higher seating position, the X4 doesn’t ever seem to completely slip into a sedan setting, but from the performance side – it’s a homerun.

While most people would drive happily ever after with the 2.0-L engine, the X4 M40i’s more aggressive character does introduce an added element of entertainment that is both tactile and auditory. This is a BMW and you will get up and go on demand, however, the sound is equally performance-oriented.

In my opinion, the engine is the biggest part of the equation for the 2019 M40i’s dynamic personality. Perhaps the bigger brakes, adaptive suspension system, and BMW’s famous M Sport differential directing power to improve cornering, makes driving this X4 a real pleasure.

The BMW X4 xDrive30i starts at $50,450, while my X4 M40i tester had a launching point of $60,450. The X4 underscores its individual character with significantly enhanced driving dynamics, standout exterior design accentuating the car’s sporting instincts, a refined premium ambience in the interior, state-of-the-art driver assistance systems and leading-edge connectivity technologies.

If you like to drive fast, or just feel like you could if you wanted to, then you will relish sitting behind the wheel of this BMW coupe-crossover-SUV.

This auto review was researched and written by SteinPro Content Services and provided to the Sun-Times for publication

2019 BMW X7 FIRST DRIVE: THE BIGGEST BIMMER

By: Collin Woodard - Motor Trend

At first glance, introducing the X7 is an obvious move for BMW. Cadillac has successfully sold the Escalade for the last two decades, and as consumer preference continues to shift toward SUVs, what automaker wouldn't want to add a full-size model to its lineup?

And yet, as BMW will tell you, deciding to offer something larger than the X5 wasn't as obvious a decision as you might think. The X5 is already pretty big, and it did technically have an optional third-row. But most importantly, BMW still sees itself as a sporty brand. It wants every vehicle it sells to be one of the more fun-to-drive options in the segment. The problem is, as vehicles get larger and heavier, it becomes more difficult to make them go around corners.

Ultimately, though, worldwide customer demand for a bigger BMW won out, and the X7 is here. It's also undeniably large. Walk past one in the parking lot, and there's no mistaking it for an X5. The X7 is clearly a BMW from every angle, but the designers did an impressive job of using a familiar design language in a way that emphasizes the X7's size.

Much like the recently updated 7 Series, the X7 also looks better in person than it does in some photos. That said, it still comes up short of looking attractive or even handsome. Mostly, it just looks big and BMW-y. The same can also be said about the massive grille that's attracted so much attention. Despite being as tall as my forearm is long (and yes, I did actually check that), it's been integrated into the design of the car better than photos suggest. But if you want a full-size SUV that's truly stylish, the X7 probably isn't for you.

It's also possible I'm being hard on BMW here because the general public is much more interested in the X7 than I expected. You'd think a big, comfortable family hauler would be more or less anonymous, but the X7 earned a shocking number of stares, thumbs ups, and questions from various people we ran into. As a 30-year-old married guy with no kids, the X7's look may not be my cup of tea, but clearly, there's some real interest here.

Climb inside, and it's immediately clear there's a lot of 7 Series in the X7's cabin. As the 7 Series of SUVs, that makes sense. And even though we've been critical of BMW for not matching the Mercedes-Benz S-Class' luxurious feel inside the 7 Series, the look fits with the character of a large luxury crossover better for some reason.

If you start poking around, it's possible to find places where BMW used cheap plastic, but it's not easy. Almost every single surface is covered with nicely stitched leather. Seat comfort is truly excellent, and even though most people who buy the X7 will probably fly to their vacation destination instead of take a road trip, a family of five or six would be able to do so without many complaints. BMW offers six- and seven-passenger layouts, and the third-row seats have enough legroom that they're not penalty boxes unless you're a larger adult. There are enough rear entertainment options to keep the kids entertained, and optional five-zone climate control should put a stop to conflicting complaints of, "I'm too hot," and, "I'm too cold!"

If you plan to road trip the X7 with anyone in the third row, though, go ahead and buy a roof box. With the third row folded, there's plenty of luggage space, but with it up, there's really only room for two carry-ons. Also, although the X7 comes with six USB ports, there's only one USB-A port, and it's located up front in the center console. The rest are all USB-C, which should be a benefit if you plan to keep your X7 for more than a few years, but right now, it will probably require many owners to invest in dongles.

Under the hood, you get your choice of an I-6 or a V-8. The X7 xDrive40i's 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six makes 335 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque, while upgrading to the xDrive50i gives you a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 making 456 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. Both use an eight-speed automatic and come standard with all-wheel drive. With power being sent to all four wheels, BMW claims a 0 to 60 time of 5.8 seconds for the I-6 and 5.2 seconds for the V-8.

Considering the X7 weighs more than 5,000 lbs, that's not bad. Neither version feels outright quick, but both provide plenty of passing power. And even though the X7 xDrive50i has more power, the more noticeable difference between the two engines is their character. The I-6 is nice and smooth, but if you want torque and that rumbling exhaust note, the V-8 is the engine to pick.

On the road, the ride quality is as impressive as the seriously comfortable seats would suggest. That's probably partly due to the fact that the X7 is built on the same flexible architecture as the 7 Series, but the real credit goes to the standard two-axle air suspension with adaptive dampers. Switch from Comfort mode to Sport, Adaptive, or Eco Pro, and you'll notice a marked difference in how the X7 feels. We also appreciate the fact that BMW included a Sport Individual option that allowed us to put the suspension in Comfort mode and everything else on Sport for more enjoyable highway cruising.

But even though putting the suspension in Sport mode firms it up and reduces body roll, there's only so much that even the best engineers in the world can do about mass. As one particularly long stretch of winding road proved, the X7 might be slightly better suited for the job than some of its competitors, corner carving is not its strong suit.

Since we're talking about a full-size luxury SUV, that's probably to be expected. But what I didn't expect was for the steering assist that's optional on the 40i and standard on the 50i to be able to handle such sharp turns. As recently as a few years ago, BMW's driver-assist features lagged behind some of its competitors, but at least on the X7, it's been massively improved.

In its most aggressive setting, the steering assist is almost too sensitive, which results in near-constant "corrections" that ping-pong the car between the lane markers. But if you adjust the sensitivity, it works much better and not just on straight highways, either. Basically, as long as the turn isn't so sharp that the car can't see around it, the steering assist does just fine.

A driver-monitoring camera and steering wheel sensor force you to pay attention and keep your hand on the wheel if you want to use the steering assist, but on long trips, it can really take the stress out of highway driving. And at low speeds, the driver-assist package also includes a traffic jam assist feature that lets you take your hand off the steering wheel as long as you're paying attention to the road and not driving faster than 37 mph.

With some cutting-edge technology, a stand-out design, and an incredibly luxurious interior, the X7 lives up to its designation as the 7 Series of SUVs. In fact, we wouldn't be surprised to see X7 sales outpace its sedan counterpart within a matter of months. You don't have to wait to give the X7 a test drive, either. It's just gone on sale with the xDrive40i starting at $74,895 including destination and the xDrive50i costing at least $93,595.

NEXT-GEN BMW M3 WILL REPORTEDLY GET ALL-WHEEL DRIVE

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by: Collin Woodard - Motor Trend

We've already seen spy shots of what we believe are new BMW M3 prototypes, and we've heard a few rumors about performance, but so far, BMW has kept most of the official details to itself. But according to a report from Evo, Carsten Pries, the M division's head of product planning, recently spilled some juicy M3 secrets.

Specifically, Evo says Pries confirmed that the next-gen M3 will use the 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six found in the BMW X3 M. And if it's tuned like the X3 M, the regular M3 should make 473 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque, while the M3 Competition's power output gets boosted to 503 hp. Expect the M3 to drop its manual transmission altogether and instead get the X3 M's eight-speed dual-clutch.

Assuming this report is accurate, BMW's decision to eliminate the M3's clutch pedal would be a big deal. But in an even more drastic departure from tradition, Evo says the new M3 will get all-wheel drive. Unlike the system found in the X3 M, though, the M3 will reportedly offer the same rear-wheel-drive mode that you find in the larger M5. So even though the system will add weight and complexity, the new M3 should be much quicker in a straight line and still be able to drift.

Supposedly, other tech from the M5 will trickle down, too. That includes an updated version of its electric steering system and its active dampers. The M3 will also likely get a carbon-ceramic brake option not found on the X3 M.

Interestingly, Evo suggests that there's a good chance BMW will eventually offer an M3 CS that comes with a manual transmission and rear-wheel drive. Its engine may be tuned to make less torque to preserve the gearbox, but the M3 CS should also be lighter and quicker than the more pedestrian M3 Competition.

2020 BMW M3 Spied In Munich; September Reveal Expected

By Christopher Smith - Motor1

We're counting the days to the M3's revival.

It’s been a few months since we caught BMW testing the next-generation M3. The latest shots out of Munich still feature a fully wrapped prototype, but we’re getting closer to a reveal because some of the wrap has come off. The front is still obscured but it’s wearing production-ready headlight lenses, and for the first time we’re shown the taillights as well. There could still be some work to do on the rear fascia, as the exposed exhaust isn’t as attractive as, say, a cool diffuser.

We’re also hearing some definitive news on M3 statistics, albeit on an unofficial level. The car should pack 480 horsepower (358 kilowatts) from a 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline six cylinder, and it will deliver that power to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic. An xDrive model powering all four wheels will also be available, though it’s said to have a two-wheel-drive mode similar to what BMW offers on the M5. Furthermore, the new M3 is expected to be a touch lighter than the previous model, despite the new 3 Series growing in pretty much every dimension.

With stats like this, the new M3 should be exceptionally quick. However, if the prospect of an all-wheel-drive M3 with an automatic transmission sounds like an affront to the storied nameplate (we wouldn’t blame you if you did), BMW is also expected to offer a version called Pure. In short, this will be a somewhat stripped-down model available with three pedals and a proper six-speed manual gearbox, turning just the rear wheels. The downside is that BMW will also reduce engine output to 460 hp (343 kW) for reasons we don’t yet understand.

There’s one other bit of information to share. Earlier we said a reveal is getting closer, and our sources are now saying BMW is shooting for a September celebration. The plan is to pull the wrap off the M3 at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, where we suspect the much-anticipated sports sedan will enjoy a rousing homecoming.

BMW M850i xDrive review: what kind of car is it trying to be?

By Ollie Kew - Top Gear

What exactly is a BMW M850i xDrive?

A monster. A big, brash, flashy coupe booted up the road by a 4.4-litre V8 mated to a pair of turbos. A 1,965kg multiplex of screens, speakers and leather chairs, that just happens to have four-wheel drive and do 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds.

That all sounds jolly lovely, if you ask me.

Appealing recipe, isn’t it? This isn’t the full yobbo M version either – there’ll be an M8 later in 2019 with over 600bhp for some reason. So for now, the M850i is both top of the range, and has a dollop of reverse-snobbery factor going for it.

Sure, there’ll be a faster, louder one later. But you don’t need it. You’ll make do with 530bhp.

Great. Top of the class, thank you next.

Hold your horses. There is a quibble to be had here.

This is the flagship BMW. Forget the 7 Series and X7 (with those hideous new pig snouts, we wish we could. Eternal sunshine of the X7-free mind, and all that). Forget even the beautiful, clever but slow-selling i8. The 8 Series is BMW’s flagship, its flaming chariot of bestness. Its ultimate Ultimate Driving Machine.

Of course it is. Otherwise, it’d just be the new 6 Series, instead of resurrecting a name from an uber-cool 90s classic. With pop-up headlights. And a V12.

And this is where the new 8 Series starts to wobble. It’s now a £100,000 car, competing with some very serious machinery with very desirable badges and heritage. Psychologically, you’re expecting a big ol’ leap from the 6 Series to the 8 Series. And well, it just isn’t there. This £100,000, 530 horsepower capsule of ambient lighting and speed just doesn’t feel that special to sit in, or to drive

‘Specialness’ is subjective. Is it a good car?

Oh yes, in plenty of ways. Here are some.

I’m not sure I’ve ever driven a car on such fat tyres that generates so little tyre noise. At 75mph, or maybe a little more, it cruises in uncanny, anechoic chamber silence. Like several many modern BMWs, it’s also got fabulous seats – finding that sweet spot of support, multi-hour comfort, a decent low-set position and ample adjustment. In Comfort mode, the ride soothes your backside. The whole car soothes your weary brow.

So, it’s a great GT car, you think. Except, BMW has insisted this is a much more sporting bit of kit than, say, a Mercedes S550 Coupe – which does not remind you of a car half its size and price inside (more on that later).

Yep, BMW reckons the 8 can mince a Lexus LC500 and harry the new Porsche 911. As it should, for a hundred grand.

To that end, it’s got Sport and Sport Plus modes. You can stiffen the suspension, weighten the steering, and uncork anger from the V8 and its exhausts (which are horrid, four pipes into two outlets just looks crap, BMW). There’s four-wheel steering to make this 5 Series-sized barge flit through direction changes like a badminton player.

Lots of cars have modes, what’s the problem here?

To fiddle with the M850i is to spoil it. Ramp up the gearbox change speed and, as per the M3 and M5, it comes as standard with a surging shunt, engineered into the change, so you get a nudge in the back when the paddle is pulled. A seamless gearbox becomes jerkier.

The V8 grows horns and barks a tune at last. Most of the time it’s a distant rumbler but now, it’s cackling and roaring. Yes, it’s being assisted with backing vocals through the speakers. It sounds reasonably authentic, but not a patch on what Lexus or particularly AMG can do with a V8. A V8 which lives not just in the S-Class, but also in Aston’s DB11. And there’ll be a V8 Bentley Conti GT soon too.

Exhaust crackles are hilariously over-synthesised, which is embarrassing in town when people are already viewing those h-u-g-e grilles, all the M-ness and making assumptions about your personality. “Yes”, you see them thinking, “you never take your oversized wristwatch off at airports, causing queues at security.”

BMW driver in social pariah shocker…

Right, the handling. Set the chassis to defcon Schport and the damping gets crashy. You notice the sheer size of the 20-inch wheels, thudding across cracks in the road. And the steering doesn’t so much get heavy as start tramlining. Why bother? Leave that sensation to the aggressive lane-assist.

The irony is that on a decent road, the 8 actually drives with some verve. It shrinks around you more than its rivals. The steering’s numb and that’ll unnerve you on turn in, but trust the grip is there and it’ll carry huge speed. It’s relatively agile – more than an S-Class Coupe – but not altogether involving. There’s huge traction, but little sense of delicacy, of true handling balance. It just feels like a big set of numbers being lobbed at a problem, and somewhere in the middle, you get though the corner without crashing. Impressive, but hardly addictive.

So, it’s a sporting car, but not a particularly gratifying one. It’s complicated, but the sweet spot is definitely in the cosseting side of the Venn diagram. And here the 8 Series finds itself up against cars that feel a lot more special, particularly inside. As m’colleague Paul Horrell explained on the car’s international launch, all of the interfaces and accoutrements inside are pinched from a top-spec 3 Series.

Hey, if the cabin actually works, I don’t mind some parts sharing.

Agreed. So why has BMW, for so long a standard-bearer of logic inside a cabin, lost its mind with the 8?

The digital dials are barely readable, they’re so fussy, but also completely lack the configurability of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, or Mercedes’ MBUX. Getting the info you prefer in your eyeline isn’t tailored to what you want – it’s either BMW’s choice, or forget it. iDrive pathetically pleads at you to use the pointless gesture control or touch-sensitive screen, when the click-wheel remains the best way of navigating around the interface on the move. Or it was, until BMW made all the buttons flush, shiny clickers that are impossible to use without looking.

Big car, this. It might shrink around you but I swear it inflates in town, the extremities are so tricky to judge. In such a mighty footprint, you’d expect useable back seats. Forget it. A 911’s are roomier. This is a two-seater with a luggage shelf.

I bet I could learn to like it.

Sure, but inherently excellent cars don’t take time to acclimatise to – they tend to feel right, sound right, go right, without an existential crisis. The 8 Series is great at a few things and good at plenty, but it can’t outrun a £100,000 price (before you spec pointless oddities like a ghastly crystal-effect gearlever, or carbon roof). I only spotted the latter while pausing at a petrol station to sate the 19mpg thirst…

After two days and 300 miles in it, I simply couldn’t work out what it’s for, and who it’s aimed at, besides the slither of BMW-ites who really want a top-of-the-tree Beemer. Why is it not just a new 6? Why is it so expensive?

What M Division does with the M8 will be really interesting. It’ll be faster – the last thing it needs – but whether or not any delicacy can be unlocked (while adding even more modes and hardware) will be fascinating.

Even then, there’ll be those that couldn’t possibly consider an 8 Series because its badge is also worn by a diesel hatchback, which isn’t something you can scorn a Bentley GT or Aston DB11 with. You can level that at an S-Class Coupe or AMG GT 4dr, but they both constantly feel palpably bespoke and endearing, in a way this clinical BMW manages briefly. Weird.

2020 BMW M3 Pure Allegedly Planned With RWD, 6-Speed Manual

BY: ADRIAN PADEANU - Motor1

It will be joined by an AWD version with an M5-derived RWD mode.

With BMW introducing the warm 2020 M340i in both rear- and all-wheel-drive M Performance flavors, we are now slowly but surely turning our attention towards the cream of the crop – the M3. A new report published by U.K.’s Car Magazine tries to shed some light about the sports sedan scheduled to arrive as early as next year.

To please both worlds, BMW will allegedly offer the M3 in RWD and xDrive versions, with the former tentatively called “Pure.” The tail-happy variant is labeled as being the entry-level version of the M3 family and will come exclusively in RWD form with a six-speed manual gearbox and an electronically controlled differential lock. As far as power is concerned, the twin-turbo 3.0-liter straight-six engine is expected to get an M4 GTS-derived water injection system and push out 454 horsepower, which would be exactly the same as what you get in the limited-run M3 CS.

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For those with more money to spend, there will reportedly be a high-end M3 with an xDrive system featuring a RWD mode in the same vein as the latest M5. It will eschew the manual gearbox for an eight-speed automatic transmission responsible with the task of sending 474 hp to both axles, so an additional 20 ponies than the so-called Pure version.

Interestingly, the report goes on to mention BMW will further separate the two versions by adopting different styling. The Pure variant will boast unique front and rear aprons, a bespoke alloy wheel design, and its own paint job. Inside, a special type of fabric + Alcantara upholstery will be reserved for this variant, along with the graphics of the instrument cluster dials and a different look for the cabin trim.

The M4 in coupe and soft-top cabrio iterations will also spawn these two versions, plus a hotter Competition coupe derivative due in 2021 with as much as 503 hp. Eventually, BMW is expected to come out with M3 CS and even an M3 CSL featuring more of everything, including extra power as the former will be taken to 530 hp and the latter to an impressive 550 hp.

There is some bad news to share as the latest intel via an undisclosed “source from the BMW M department” says there won’t be an M3 Touring after all. The silver lining is that an M4 Gran Coupe is in the works as a more practical take on the M3 also scheduled to come out in 2020.

The 2020 BMW 7 Series is here, and, wow, that is some grille

But don't let that face distract you from the luxury sedan's other features!

by ALEX REID -Driving

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BMW dropped photos of a refreshed 7 Series mid-January, showing off its flagship luxury sedan’s new face and features.

Following in the footsteps of the X7, the 7 Series sees huge nostrils adorn the snout of its facade—a fancy way to say it’s got a huge nose.

BMW is quite proud of the new grille, though it’s really merely a distraction from what makes the new 7 great.

Engine options for the new 7 have grown: you can still get the 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, and the 6.6-litre V12, but the latest engine to the party is a six-cylinder coupled to a hybrid system.

In 745e trim, it makes a combined system output of 394 hp, and can drive up to 50 to 60 km on pure electric power, depending if select four-wheel-drive or not. The V8 gets an 80 horsepower boost up to 530, while the V12 remains at 585.

BMW has managed to make the interior of the 7 Series even quieter thanks to a couple tweaks around the wheel arches, B-pillars and seatbelt outlet covers. Yeah, properly nerdy stuff.

The interior looks like the most comfortable place to sit in the world: quilted leather is everywhere in this car, it’s even available on the new steering wheel.

Tech has also been upgraded. BMW Live Cockpit Professional is now a standard feature, and that means a 12.3-inch touchscreen instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch widescreen display in the centre console.

Pricing and availability have not been announced yet.

BMW M850i Flexes Its Muscles In Acceleration Test

BY: JACOB OLIVA - Motor1

The spec sheets did lie after all – but in a good way.

In mid-2018, BMW revived the 8 Series in an effort to bring back all the glory to the svelte yet muscular Bavarian coupe. It has been more than six months since the German marque launched the second-generation model, but we have yet to see a real-world acceleration that could prove its boastful numbers on paper, particularly the M850i xDrive.

Well, that ends today. AutoTopNL has just released its own acceleration test of the M850i xDrive, complete with its own GPS device and app that records the acceleration rate of the car. With a 0-62 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour) rating of 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 155 miles per hour (250 kilometers per hour, we know for sure that it's going to be a solid run.

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However, it looks like the numbers on the initial spec sheet of the M850i xDrive are lying, but that's a good thing. In AutoTopNL's test, the all-wheel-drive coupe was able to beat what BMW said about its acceleration test and was able to do a 0-62 mph (100 kph) in just 3.66 seconds. 0-124 mph (200 kph) run was done in 12.36 seconds.

Moreover, the M850i xDrive was also able to beat its announced top speed of 155 mph (250 mph) and clocked in 161.5 mph (260 kph). 

With these numbers and real-world acceleration test put into place, it makes us wonder how its performance version, the upcoming M8, would go in a straight-line run. BMW is currently on its testing phase of the hotter version of the 8 Series, and it's only a matter of tie before it launches the unworldly coupe into the wild.

The Manual Transmission Will Be Around For Another Decade, BMW Says

It appears the M4 will be the only model to carry the manual transmission torch for the brand into its final days.

BY ROB STUMPF - The Drive

BMW has been one of the most driver-focused brands on the market for some time now, and building an enthusiast's car for the businessman and giving it a proper manual gearbox has been a staple for the automaker's diehard following. With the unveiling of BMW's upcoming G20 platform, BMW has shown that the manual transmission has become less of a priority for the future of its brand, which according to Road and Track its engineers say shouldn't worry those buying M cars for at least the next decade.

Klaus Frohlich, BMW's development chief, sat down at the Los Angeles Auto Show to discuss the bittersweet future of the manual transmission with regards to BMW M cars. The BMW-veteran brings good news to enthusiasts, announcing that the Germans will continue to stuff BMW's current six-speed manual transmission into the next generation M4, which Frohlich considers to be the "fortress" of the automaker's manual transmission.

"Honestly, the pure engineering answer is, you're much faster with paddles and an automatic transmission," Frohlich told Road and Track at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. "They're very precise and sporty. Especially on the Nurburgring, you are much better in control when you're not taking one hand away [to shift]. I think, in the overall portfolio, manuals will disappear. But I think M4 should be the fortress of manual. So the last manual transmission which will die, it should die in an M4, as late as possible. That's my view."

Though Frohlich concedes that a flappy-paddle automatic gearbox is quicker 'round the track, he acknowledges the niche market that BMW has built around a very specific platform that all but defines the legacy of the M3 and M4: a front-engine, inline-six with a manual gearbox that puts the power down to the rear wheels. Because of this, he confirms that the next generation M4, which will likely be produced until 2027 or 2028, will feature the same manual transmission with a rear-wheel-drive drivetrain available. We had hoped this was the case, as BMW affectionately coined the next M4 the "drift machine."

Unfortunately, BMW isn't investing in a new manual transmission at this time. With a limited amount of people buying three-pedal M cars that output gobs of torque, building a reliable manual transmission for the desired power output would simply cost too much. The automaker says that it simply isn't able to turn a profit when considering the research and development costs that go into designing a new transmission.

"Honestly, you have a problem with manuals," Frohlich continued later in the conversation. "Because we have these turbocharged engines with 600 N-m of torque, to develop such a high-torque manual transmission for such a small volume isn't profitable at all. So I tried to prolong the lifetime of the manuals, but we can't invest in developing a new manual transmission. No transmission partner will do that with us. So we are evolving our existing manuals as long as possible."

Frohlich has a reputation for being a no-nonsense kind of guy. Last month, he made the news after telling journalists that he no longer wanted to hear about how the E46 was the last "real" BMW the automaker produced. He is also the silent voice behind keeping both the manual transmission and rear-wheel-drive platforms alive for so long in favor of automatic and all-wheel-drive. But after the next generation M4, both coveted features may disappear and simply represent Frohlich's legacy at BMW.

Rumored: BMW to Sell AWD M3 Alongside Nerfed RWD M3

Bimmerfest.com Member - Sebastien Bell 

Enthusiasts will have to suffer to buy a RWD or manual G80 M3, according to a report from BMW Blog.

The report cites an unnamed source who alleges that the M3 will be available in both xDrive AWD and sDrive RWD configurations. According to the source, though, the xDrive M3 will not be available with a manual transmission.

The good news is that the RWD M3 will be offered with a manual transmission. The bad news is that the BMW Blog alleges that the RWD M3 will come with less power than the AWD M3. 

No figures are quoted, but the result of less power and fewer driven wheels should be a RWD M3 that’s considerably slower to accelerate than the AWD M3.

If we were to pull out our crystal ball and look into the future, we would predict that the twin siren calls of more power and faster 0-60 times will lead to fewer sales of the manual RWD M3, which will in time be used to justify its discontinuation.

While such a decision (if it’s even being made) could be born of necessity (maybe BMW doesn’t have easy access to the hardware that would allow a manual to handle the M3's full measure of power), but we can’t help but feel a little disappointed by this rumor. The silver lining, though, is that if the rumor is true, BMW hasn’t already killed the manual M3.


REFRESHING OR REVOLTING: 2019 BMW 3 SERIES

By: Kelly Pleskot - Motor Trend

BMW rarely makes big design changes to its vehicles all at once. Some may complain about that, but in a way it's a credit to the automaker. The design of the 3 Series, for instance, undergoes only gradual changes from generation to generation, and unlike other rivals, it hasn't needed to reinvent itself. Once again, the seventh-generation BMW 3 Series makes small changes to the existing look, though some of the updates are more significant than you might expect. Let's take a look at some of the styling updates.

Up front, BMW reinterprets the double kidney grilles. The two grilles are now connected, and they each have much thicker frames. The new headlights continue the bolder look. BMW reshaped these lights, making them connect more snugly to the grille similar to the 5 Series and 7 Series. Straying slightly from the lamps' traditional shape, BMW cut a notch into each of the units. The lower vent is larger and is flanked by new lighting cutouts.

Despite being BMW's entry-level sedan, the 3 Series grows once again for the new generation. It's 2.9 inches longer, 0.6 inch wider, and 0.5 inch taller than its predecessor, with a wheelbase that's 1.6 inches longer. Other than the slightly larger proportions, the 3 Series hasn't changed much from the side profile. You can still see it has a long hood and short overhangs. Character lines running across the doors have changed, but only in a subtle way. There is a newly designed Hofmeister kink incorporated into the C-pillar.

In the rear, BMW has streamlined the taillights. They're less chunky than before, and they feature a new L-shaped lighting signature. They spread out low and wide across the rear, which helps to give the 3 Series a more planted look. Some models have additional T-shaped lighting elements in the rear that complement those up front. BMW also changed up the rear bumper for the new model year.

An automaker's exterior design may endure for many years, but time can be less kind to vehicle interiors. Fortunately, BMW has made some big updates here, with a more condensed center stack. There are new touchscreens: a standard 8.8-inch unit or an optional 10.25-inch unit. There is also a new digital instrument cluster display that allows you to view an excerpt from the navigation map. BMW has redesigned the shifter and nearby buttons. The iDrive control knob is bigger, and it's now located just to the right of the shifter rather than behind it and to the right.

2019 BMW X5 first drive review: The Trojan horse of tech

by Chris Paukert - CNET

To look at it, you could be forgiven for not immediately realizing that this 2019 BMW X5 is new. Unless you're an automotive enthusiast, you might not have spotted its upsized kidney grilles with drag-reducing active shutters, its more elaborate headlamps, or noticed its front bumper's air guide slots that route the passing atmosphere around the wheels to curb drag.  

Indeed, while the 2019 X5's exterior changes are subtle, much of what's under the skin is actually quite revolutionary for the brand. There's a new underlying modular platform, CLAR, that's shared with the forthcoming 3 Series. And yes, there's also a new electronic architecture that enables the fitment of next-generation iDrive infotainment. Plus, there's a spate of new advanced driver assist systems, all of which combine to help futureproof BMW's most important vehicle for increasing levels of electrification and automation.

Oh, yes. I did just call the X5 BMW's Most Important Vehicle. If isn't already, it almost certainly will be within this fourth-generation's lifespan. While that mantle has arguably been held by the automaker's 3 Series range since the early '80s, today's new-car market is tilting ever more toward crossover SUVs. To that end, the X5 isn't just the paterfamilias of all BMW utility vehicles, it's the become the nexus of a brand historically best-known for sporty driving. While BMW won't say it, the X5 is very likely the company's biggest profit center -- if not worldwide, certainly in the US and Canada. BMW has sold 2.2 million X5 SUVs since the model's 1999 inception, making it a cornerstone of the Roundel's global business.

Understandably, then, the Germans have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at the 2019 X5. At first blush, after a day's drive around greater Atlanta -- including tackling a surprisingly technical off-road course -- this new generation shows great appeal and a broader array of talents. From comfortable freeway cruising to scrambling up muddy, root-strewn forest slopes to digging into its sophisticated new infotainment system, the X5 has something for everyone.

(Slightly) bigger britches

While the new X5 looks similar to its predecessor, it spans 1.1 inches longer, stands an inch taller and wears shoulders that are 2.6 inches broader than before. Despite the dimensional increases, the new X5 is still firmly in the pocket of the midsize premium SUV segment, where it competes with a murderer's row of talent, from the Audi Q7 to the Mercedes-Benz GLE, along with strong but less-traditional picks like the Acura MDX, Land Rover Range Rover Sport and Volvo XC90.

Nor does this enlarged X5 feel less nimble than before. I sampled the xDrive40i, Bavarian-alphabet-soup-speak for an all-wheel-drive model fitted with the 3.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged inline six-cylinder giving 335 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. Whether negotiating dense Atlanta traffic or picking its way along a narrow forested two-track, it never felt unwieldy or underpowered. 

At least initially, in North America, all X5 models will be AWD, with power coming via an updated eight-speed automatic transmission featuring new software, a broader ratio spread and redesigned torsion dampers for improved efficiency and smoother gear changes.

This is hardly revolutionary powertrain hardware, but it needn't be -- the outgoing X5 was a willing co-conspirator in everything from the Costco run to serenely blitzing down the Autobahn at triple-digit speeds, and these changes should do nothing to endanger that reputation. BMW quotes 0-60 miles per hour in 5.3 seconds for the xDrive40i, which is plenty quick.

If you're a performance glutton, there will also be a turbo V8 model available when the 2019 X5 launches on November 10, and it conjures up 456 horsepower and 479 pound-feet to reach 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds, metrics that should slake the power hungry until the inevitable X5 M performance model arrives.

A new plug-in hybrid version with significantly more all-electric range is on the horizon, too, though other markets will see it well before North America.

BMW has yet to detail the 2019 X5's fuel economy figures, but if anything, they're likely to be a skosh better than last year's models. (For reference, the 2018 xDrive35i netted 18 miles per gallon city, 24 highway and 20 combined).

Strong first impression

My on-road time was rather limited for this early X5 drive opportunity, but there was very little to complain about dynamically. I found noise isolation to be very good on the region's generally smooth (if sometimes coarsely grained) surfaces, with velvety power delivery, a compliant ride -- even on my tester's optional 21-inch wheels -- and accurate, well-weighted steering. In some X5 models of the past, the latter could be unnecessarily heavy, but BMW has wisely resisted that temptation here.

I'll need more time on more demanding roads to find out how well the South Carolina-built X5 performs when it's really being pushed, as a tight launch event schedule prevented me from finding a properly twisty route. In truth, however, most owners never work their SUVs very hard, so it's questionable whether they'll really take advantage of the 4,800-pound X5's newly standard electronically controlled dampers (which offer both sport and comfort modes).

I suspect the base steering and suspension setups will satisfy most buyers' needs, but I likewise foresee a good percentage of folks loading their X5s up with optional four-wheel air suspension and the newly available Integral Active Steering (IAS). The latter is an electromechanical four-wheel system that turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction at low speeds to improve agility, and cocks them slightly same-phase at high speeds to aid stability.

IAS is a standalone option ($1,150), but for full effect, buyers may want to pair it with the X5's Adaptive M Suspension option, which includes swivel motors that act on the anti-roll bars to flatten the chassis in cornering.

Surprisingly willing to play dirty

Among the 2019 X5's updates to its running gear, its new Off-Road Pack may be the most unexpected. Even US BMW officials I spoke with said they didn't know if X5 many customers have been asking for augmented rough-and-tumble abilities, but for 2019, buyers will have the option to fit a new Off-Road Package ($3,950) that includes an electronically controlled rear limited-slip M Sport differential, two-axle air suspension, four off-road drive modes (xSand, xSnow, xRocks and xGravel) and front and rear skid plates. The air suspension itself offers up to 3.2 inches more ground clearance than the base setup. 

While it's debatable whether X5 customers will find the Off-Road Package enticing, in my experience on a slippery and unexpectedly demanding forest course (some of which was marked with signs from a Land Rover club), the X5 was nothing less than shockingly competent -- even on street-oriented Pirelli P Zero summer rubber. 

Among myriad new technologies, the X5 features a 360-degree camera suite (with remote view) that helps the driver expertly place the vehicle on the trail between objects, trees and rocks, working with the radar sensors to call out objects of immediate concern. In what is very likely a technological first, the X5's "touchdown detection" can even detect when it has become high-centered on an object like a log or boulder. It cleverly does so by leveraging its existing network of sensors. The air suspension looks at expected load versus actual load and ride height on a corner-by-corner basis. Combined with wheel-slip sensors, the vehicle can determine if it's hung up on an object underneath and temporarily raise its air suspension to surmount it.

The X5 may not be as inherently capable off-road as something from Land Rover, but it isn't as far off as you might expect, either.

All the screens, all the tech

The 2019 X5's cabin is at once all new and immediately familiar, and that's a good thing. Fresh touches like available crystal switchgear ($650), heated/cooled cupholders and additional open-pore wood choices up the luxury quotient, yet current X5 owners will feel right at home.

The success of the new X5 may well come down to how comfortable new owners get with iDrive 7 infotainment, which is radically revamped. While the old system's functionality relied overwhelmingly on its rotary knob, this new system will likely have users tapping and swiping on its 12.3-inch touchscreen as often as they use the multi controller. Whereas the old iDrive screen was divided among six panels (three of which were visible at any given time), the new setup uses a left-side menu bar with shortcuts and the driver's choice of three different pane layouts. In fact, the driver can define up to 10 pages of widgets to suit their preferences, including things like weather, news and online search via the 4G LTE hotspot.

There's also a new reconfigurable digital gauge cluster that BMW calls Live Cockpit, and an impressively huge and crisp optional head-up display to relay even more information.


Being faced with all of those screens and all of those choices at once probably sounds daunting, but in my brief experience with iDrive 7, it all felt quite intuitive. The system smartly allows for the driver to use their preferred interface method, be that via touchscreen, steering wheel switchgear, cloud-based speech recognition or even gesture control. (A word about the latter: It's still overwhelmingly gimmicky. Twirling your finger in the air to turn up the stereo remains a crowd-pleasing novelty, but little more).

The main map screen can become overly crowded with information, but it's possible to pare back things like points of interest to make it clearer. And if BMW's interface doesn't do it for you, Apple CarPlay is included (as a subscription service -- the first year is free, but then it's $80/year thereafter), and the Bavarians still aren't on speaking terms with Android Auto. Juicing up your devices should be easy, though, with available wireless charging as well as USB-A and USB-C ports.

Cloud connected

There's quite a bit of personalization possible with iDrive 7, which is why it's nice that BMW Connected Drive's can match driver preferences to a cloud-based profile that can be carried from vehicle to vehicle by key or smartphone. With this tech, you don't have to set up your presets and shortcuts from scratch every time you get into a new BMW. (The Germans are clearly prepping for a future that involves car-sharing and subscription services). 

BMW's Open Mobility Cloud also facilitates connecting the X5 to the driver's other smart devices, including Google Home, Alexa-enabled devices and smartwatches like the latest Apple Watch.


Safety first, second and third

The other linchpin of the new X5 is its massive suite of available advanced driver assist systems. The 2019 X5 can be loaded up with enough gear to negotiate low-speed freeway traffic in hands-off fashion provided certain road conditions are met. When activated at speeds up to 37 mph, an X5 equipped with Extended Traffic Jam Assistant will keep itself centered in its lane and negotiate stop-and-go traffic on its own, using radar and a forward-facing camera to find its way. 

ETJA includes a driver monitor camera to make sure the individual at the wheel hasn't nodded off or become engrossed in a round of HQ Trivia on their phone. The system also adjusts for posted speeds and other traffic conditions using traffic sign recognition and map data. If a driver fails to retake manual control from ETJA even after a series of warnings, the vehicle can automatically pull itself over to a stop with its hazard lights blinking and use the onboard telematics to place an emergency call. 

Like a Tesla, the X5 can also execute automated lane changes when the driver calls for one by activating the turn signal stalk.

Overall, BMW spokespeople consider this to be a "strong Level 2 system," and in this regard, it seems roughly as capable as the new US-bound Audi A6, A7 and A8 models (though the Bimmer doesn't have onboard lidar). Functionally, it feels more robust than the Autopilot system on Tesla's current range.

Even if you don't splurge on Extended Traffic Jam Assistant, every X5 still comes with blind-spot detection, front and rear pre-collision warning, lane-departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert, among other features. 

One other noteworthy new feature? Back-Up Assistant, which automatically memorizes the final 165 feet of travel before you park your X5. Like a virtual popcorn trail, the system will automatically back you out of tight spaces by retracing the steps you used to park in the first place. Back-Up Assistant handles the steering, you man the accelerator and brake pedal. For those with tight or technical driveways and parking garages, this tech could be a game-changer.

You can keep the lane-keep, BMW

If there's a fly in the X5's ADAS ointment, it's that its lane-keep assist is a bit hyperactive and in need of further calibration. Like an annoying backseat driver, it proved simultaneously overly vigilant and occasionally heavy-handed in its machinations on my drive. If the driver drifted a little too close to a solid painted line on the road, it tugged at the steering and its new by-wire braking, abruptly pulling the vehicle back in line -- even when there was no real reason to be concerned. 

This wasn't just my experience -- my co-driver noted the same phenomenon, as did other reviewers on our program. 

Tiptoe through the options list

If the X5's long list of available features have you picturing a dizzyingly expensive SUV, remember, it all comes down to how disciplined you are when ordering. The well-equipped base 2019 X5 starts at $60,700 plus $995 delivery, but my comprehensively accoutered tester cost over $81,000 as tested. If you can avoid the option list's myriad nice-to-have-but-ultimately-unnecessary extras like the Off-Road Package and Integral Active Steering, this new X5 can actually come across as quite fairly priced.

And don't worry -- if for some reason you want more space and more lux than what's possible in this X5, help is on the way -- a larger, range-topping X7 will soon arrive brandishing more of everything. 

For 2019, BMW wisely hasn't radicalized the X5's appearance or feel, risking the franchise in the bargain. Instead, the company has fashioned a familiar look in order to Trojan Horse much of its near-term technological future in an nonthreatening shell.

The stakes couldn't be higher. Back in 1999, the first X5 was a major gamble. Today, this SUV is the unexpected heart of its company's fortunes. 

While not perfect, the 2019 X5 seems well placed to bridge the BMW of today and the increasingly autonomous, electrified BMW of tomorrow. 

2019 BMW 3 Series Prototype first drive review: Building a better benchmark

How BMW plans to put the 3 Series back at the top of the very class it created.

By: Steven Ewing - CNET

It wasn't the track time that sold me. Don't get me wrong, I had a heck of a time flinging a camouflaged 2019 BMW 330i prototype around the Nürburgring, smiling for the spy photographers camped out at various corners. But where BMW's brand-new 3 Series really sealed the deal was on the roads outside of Nürburg.

These hilly, winding stretches of pavement are superb in their own right, drizzled across the German Rhineland, connecting the dots between sleepy towns. But more importantly, they're imperfect, and a great place to really fine-tune the luxury/sport balance cars like the 3 Series are known for. Smooth, twisty and engaging, then suddenly rough and ragged, it was out there that the new 3's improvements were most obvious.

Back to basics

Let's face it, the 3 Series ain't what she used to be. The car that served as the benchmark by which all other sport sedans were measured sort of lost its way in its most recent F30 generation, largely due to vague steering and chassis characteristics -- a deficit in the communication enthusiasts had come to expect from Germany's compact icon.

The seventh-generation 3 Series -- G20, for you chassis code nerds -- is a complete, ground-up redesign. Yet it doesn't change the overall formula of BMW's all-important luxury/sport sedan. Instead, it's a back-to-basics approach, focusing on getting the car's core attributes right, right from the start. BMW engineers say they want this new 3er to be nothing less than "the best sport sedan in the world."

It all starts with the body in white. The core structure of the 3 Series is designed to work toward a perfectly balanced 50:50 weight distribution, one that doesn't shift when the rest of the vehicle's components are bolted on. There's a 25-percent improvement in torsional rigidity compared to the F30, with individual stiffness improvements at various points where the chassis meets the body; the front strut mounts, for example, are 50 percent stiffer than before. The finished product is said to be some 120 pounds lighter than its predecessor, as well.

Given the test car's still-camouflaged state, it's hard to discern exactly how much the 3 Series has grown for this new generation. All I know is that BMW says the G20 is "very close" to the current model; the front and rear tracks are 30 millimeters (about an inch) wider than before, and the car sits 10 millimeters closer to the ground.

Familiar power

Right now, BMW can only confirm the existence of 330i and 340i models for the US, though surely, more are in the cards. The current 3 Series, for example, is available in entry-level 320i spec and as a 330e plug-in hybrid. Rumors suggest a higher-output M340i might come our way, too.

BMW only had 330i prototypes available for testing in Germany, with rear-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The 330i uses an updated version of the current model's 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 engine, with 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque -- increases of 7 and 37, respectively, over today's 330i. However, BMW won't confirm official output numbers until the 3's official debut later this year, so while the 255/295 numbers certainly sound right, don't shoot me if they end up being a smidge off in either direction.

The 2.0-liter engine is perfectly adequate in the current 3, and it doesn't feel discernibly different in the G20 330i. Power builds progressively, with ample torque available at low rpms. The throttle is easy to modulate, and the transmission executes smooth, well-timed shifts in the default Comfort driving mode. Switch the 330i to Sport and it'll quickly downshift upon braking, or use the steering wheel-mounted paddles for crisp, responsive gear-changes. This isn't a dual-clutch automatic, but it certainly shifts like one.

Beautifully balanced

The 2.0-liter engine was never really an issue, so the fact that it hasn't been heavily reworked for the G20 generation is totally logical. Instead, the new car shows its biggest improvements in overall ride and handling characteristics. That new chassis underpinning this 330i is really, really good.

BMW will offer three chassis tunes: a base suspension, a sport setup with 24 percent stiffer spring rates and an adjustable Adaptive M option. The 330i prototype I drove had the sport option, which lowers the car by an additional 10 millimeters. Really, this feels like the one I'd want every day.

Right from the beginning, I could feel a stronger connection to the road. Engineers lowered the tolerances for friction in the steering column, resulting in a 15 percent increase in mechanical feedback through the wheel. That means you get a better sense of exactly what's happening at road level, even if the action of the wheel itself is still a little too springy for my liking -- more on that in a minute.

Regardless of suspension spec, every new 3 Series will use a completely new hydraulic damping system. Unlike traditional springs, with bump stops that redirect energy back down for rebound, the hydraulic setup absorbs impact energy, so the reaction is more natural. In other words, the rebound force you normally experience to quickly unload a shock is instead dissolved, which allows the 3 Series to more smoothly recover from abrupt road-surface jolts.

Said another way, coming into a fast left-hand turn, the road dips on the left side suddenly. But when the left wheels hit the dip, instead of the rebound energy forcing the wheel back down and possibly upsetting the balance of the car, the initial action is met with gentler reaction. You can handle rough patches like this with better balance, and therefore more confidence.

The hydraulic setup doesn't result in a floaty or disconnected feeling at speed, either. Because the hydraulic compressors are only absorbing energy at the higher range of suspension travel, the dampers are still plenty firm under normal load conditions. Thanks to the added road feel through the steering column and perfectly taut chassis, the 330i felt totally composed and stable at 155 miles per hour on an unrestricted section of autobahn.

A sport pack adds the stiffer suspension settings, variable-ratio steering, staggered tires, larger brakes and an optional rear differential lock.

BMW engineers said these test cars were about 85-percent complete at the time of my drive in June, and the suspension validation had been just about locked in. I wouldn't change a thing. On a variety of road surfaces -- and during a few hot laps of the wicked Nürburgring Nordschleife -- I never wanted for firmer or softer damping. Grip was plentiful at all times, too, thanks to the test cars' limited-slip differential and 19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires.

If I could make any tweaks, it'd be to the variable-ratio steering, part of a sport pack that includes the aforementioned stiffer springs, along with staggered tires, larger M Sport brakes and an optional rear diff lock. (Base 3 Series models will use a fixed steering ratio.) On one hand, you have the added feedback through the wheel, which is a welcome change of pace. But the often springy response on turn-in leaves a lot to be desired, both at slow speed around town and when entering one of the 'Ring's seemingly endless corners. It's better than the current car, but still not perfect -- at least, not for me, anyway.

In another 330i prototype, a steering engineer rode along with a laptop and adjusted things like torque buildup and electric assist on the fly. Driving my personal preferences back to back with the standard setup, I'll admit, it's close. A little less boost on turn-in and a smidge more weight overall, and I'd be thrilled. That said, this is a car that has to be engineered for hundreds of thousands of different customers worldwide, and everyone's personal preferences and driving styles will no doubt dictate unique preferences. The production-spec steering tune hadn't been decided at the time of my test, so I'll be eager to see if the final car feels noticeably different.

The new 3's interior feels plenty spacious and features a new digital instrument cluster. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait a few months to see all the details.

A promising first look

There's a lot more to discuss with the upcoming 3 Series, namely, what's behind all those black cloth panels inside the cabin. A quick word on the interior, since, you know, I sat in the thing: It feels about the same as the current 3 from a head- and legroom perspective. The 3 Series also gets the same fancy digital instrument cluster we first saw in the 8 Series, set behind a steering wheel that, in M Sport spec, is still too wide in diameter for my liking.

The G20 3 Series will officially bow at the 2018 Paris Motor Show in October, with the first US customer deliveries taking place next spring. We'll get the 330i first, as a 2019 model, and the 340i will arrive a few months later as a 2020. Look for pricing and fuel economy information to be released early next year, as well.

Will the 3 Series once again be the benchmark for the compact luxury/sport class? It's much too early to say. But one thing's for sure: the current car's sore spots have largely been addressed, and as far as ride and handling balance is concerned, BMW may very well reclaim its spot as the enthusiast's choice in the segment.

 

 

2019 BMW X5 Priced from $61,695

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The next-gen BMW X5 may not look much different than its predecessor, but its changes are more than skin deep. The midsize crossover sits on a new architecture, runs on updated engines, and receives a new off-road package. Prices have also increased, with the xDrive40i model starting at $61,695.

That’s up $1,200 from the previous V-6 model with all-wheel drive. The previous-generation entry-level 35i model packed a 3.0-liter turbo inline-six with 302 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. But the new xDrive40i gets 335 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque.

For more power, buyers can upgrade to the 50i xDrive, which starts at $76,745, up from $75,045. The model receives a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 with 456 hp, an increase from 445 hp, and the same 479 lb-ft of torque.

Standard features on the 2019 BMW X5 include two 12.3-inch digital displays, adaptive full LED headlamps, a panoramic glass sunroof, active blind spot detection, frontal collision warning with city collision mitigation, and the latest generation BMW iDrive operating system. Also available are laser lights, remote engine start, heated steering wheel and armrests, and heated and cooled cupholders. A new off-road package brings along an air suspension and mechanical rear locking differential.

Expect other versions of the X5 down the line. BMW is expected to introduce a four-cylinder engine, a diesel variant, and an M version. A plug-in hybrid model will arrive for the 2020 model year.

Here’s your first look at the next BMW X5

By Vijay Pattni - Top Gear

This isn’t the new, fourth-generation BMW X5 SUV. It is a prototype version of the new, fourth-generation BMW X5 SUV, which is set to be revealed later on this year.

And, as you can see, it likes to jump around. BMW has released a set of images showcasing the gruelling training regime its new SUV is undertaking to make sure it’s fighting fit. Yeah, we’re gonna need a montage.

Apparently, the next X5 will feature “new suspension and chassis systems” that allow the SUV to adapt to whatever terrain you throw at it, “be it snow, sand, rocks or gravel roads”. Should also work exceedingly well on that other terrain of ‘massively-potholed-and-congested-road-to-my-child’s-school’.

We’re told the new X5 has tested at BMW’s winter centre in Sweden, on gravel tracks in South Africa and in America’s deserts. It’s even been on a high-speed circuit in Talladega and at that Other Scary Racetrack in Germany. Name escapes us.

Those last couple of places give an insight into just how important pointiness is to the new BMW SUV. Indeed, BMW says adaptive M suspension and ‘integral active steering’ will be offered for the first time on the X5 with the new generation.

The very first X5 of course, kind of set a standard for how a big, heavy SUV can bend physics to its will, with many other carmakers following suit. These days everyone’s going on about sporting ability in their 4x4s.

Stay tuned for more…

BMW unveils the most powerful M5 super sedan ever

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By Benjamin Zhang - Business Insider

BMW's legendary M5 sports sedan just got even better. On Tuesday, the Bavarian automaker unveiled the new 2019 BMW M5 Competition Sedan.

With a 617 horsepower, 4.4-liter, turbocharged V8 under the hood, it's the most powerful M5 ever produced. According to BMW, the Competition Sedan can hit 60 mph in a brisk 3.1 seconds while the sprint to 124 mph from a standstill happens in just 10.8 seconds. The Bimmer will eventually reach an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. However, an optional M Driver's package can raise that top speed to 189 mph.

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The M5 puts its power to the pavement through an eight-speed M Steptronic automatic transmission and a rear-wheel-biased intelligent all-wheel-drive.

The M5 Competition Sedan along with the recently introduced M2 Competition Coupe will form a new sub-segment of uber-hot performance machines within BMW's vaunted M division.

As a result, the M5 Competition Sedan gets 17 more horsepower from the 4.4-liter V8 and can do 60 mph in 0.1 seconds quicker than the standard M5.

In addition, the Competition Sedan receives a modified high-flow exhaust system, firmer engine mounts, lower ride height, redesigned anti-roll bar mounts, lightweight alloy wheels, and optional carbon ceramic brakes.

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The M5 Competition will also receive exclusive design features like black high-gloss finishes on the door handles and M5 badging. The interior gets new seat belts and floor mats with BMW M logos. There's also an M Competition graphic that pops up on the instrument cluster at startup.

The 2019 BMW M5 Competition Sedan enters production this July and will carry a starting price of $110,995. For comparison, the standard 2018 BMW M5 starts at $102, 600.