Auto blogMon, 10 Mar 2014 08:01:00 EST
BMW has some considerable racing prowess to crow about, and draws on those credentials to create models like the new M4. But it's not about to rest on the laurels it's won at the end of innumerable races past and present. Mere months after the release of its latest performance coupe, BMW has already revealed a new M4 touring car for the DTM series, and has now unveiled its new M4 safety car for the MotoGP motorcycle championship.
Revealed on the BMW M Facebook page and set to debut at the front of the grid at the season opener in Qatar a couple weeks from now, the new M4 safety car is just the latest in a long string of official vehicles it has provided to the MotoGP series. Previous examples have included everything from the 1M Coupe to the M6 and the X6 M.
Like its predecessors, the M4 safety car features emergency lighting, special equipment and of course BMW's trademark white livery with red, navy and light blue stripes that, in this arrangement, give the new Williams Martini Racing livery a run for its money. Logos promote the BMW M Performance Parts you can buy to bring your own Bimmer up to spec, which on this car isn't likely have changed much from stock.
Contrary to popular belief, it seems that Mini's growth plans do have a limit both in size and number of models. During the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, it unveiled the six-door Clubman concept (pictured above) that was 4.4-inches longer and about two-inches wider than even the current Countryman crossover. Mini design chief Anders Warming says that this is the new size limit for its models, and the BMW subsidiary isn't building a larger, seven-passenger vehicle above the current Countryman.
"We won't build anything bigger than the Countryman, not at this moment. You should be able to park a Mini in a city, so a Countryman or this new Clubman is as big as it should be," said Warming to Auto Express in Geneva. Rumors going back to last November, pegged the Mini as developing an even larger vehicle to take on mainstream CUVs.
While Warming is ruling out a bigger Minis for now, a smaller one like the Rocketman concept still might be in the cards. He said that the project has been warmly received but still had to be investigated because "it's a numbers game." So if bigger Minis aren't coming, there still might be a slim chance for a smaller one.
To say the 2014 Geneva Motor Show was packed full of news is an understatement as big as the show's home at the Palexpo convention center. Despite everything that we were able to cover during this year's show, there's still more coming out of Switzerland, including the announcement of the finalists for the 2014 World Car of the Year Awards.
We reported on the original list of finalists over three weeks ago, and now, that initial list has been pared down to three finalists for each of the five awards. The finalists were announced at a press conference by frequent Autoblog contributor and co-chair of the awards, Matt Davis (above).
The finalists for the overall title of 2014 World Car of the Year are the Audi A3, the BMW 4 Series and the Mazda3. The World Luxury Car of the Year will be either the Bentley Flying Spur, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class or the Land Rover Range Rover Sport, while the Performance Car of the Year will be awarded to the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, the Ferrari 458 Speciale or the Porsche 911 GT3 (which, um, yeah...).
Audi and BMW have long been enemies on both the road and the track, with their respective M and S/RS lines duking it out to the delight of auto enthusiasts everywhere. In this video from Evo, two of the rivalry's newest combatants take to the track - the Audi S3 and the BMW M135i.
The new Audi S3, which is finally coming to America, throws down with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder. 290 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque are deployed to a Quattro all-wheel-drive system via a six-speed, S-Tronic dual-clutch transmission, allowing the five-door Audi to scamper to 60 in under five seconds.
The BMW, which Americans will know as a long-roof version of the new M235i Coupe, comes to the track with 320 ponies and 331 lb-ft of torque. That's a good bit more than the Audi, but the M135i has only two wheels to send its power to, an eight-speed single-clutch automatic (a six-speed manual is available) and a slightly higher curb weight.
If BMW has shown us anything, it's a knack for creating niches and expanding its product portfolio. Go back to the early '90s and it had essentially four models: the 3 Series, 5 Series, 6 Series and 7 Series. End of list. Since then, the Bavarian automaker has not only taken on Mini and Rolls-Royce, but has expanded its own range of models exponentially. You can chalk a big part of that up to crossovers, and another sizable chunk to giving existing models a different roofline and calling it something new. What we have here is a prime example of both.
Previewed in concept form the better part of a year ago at the Shanghai Motor Show, the slantback version of the X3 (and the baby brother to the X6) is now here in full production guise. Mechanically it's essentially the same as the new X3 on which it's based, but amps up the "sport" at the expense of the "utility" part of the SUV equation.
BMW will undoubtedly offer a wide range of powertrain configurations in markets around the world, but back in the United States it'll be offered in two specs: the X4 xDrive28i, packing a 2.0-liter inline-four with 240 horsepower and a $45,625 sticker price (including destination), or the X4 xDrive35i with the 300hp 3.0-liter six and a $48,925 MSRP. Either way, you're getting an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive.
Anyone remember the Hamann Mirror? Need a refresher? The Mirror is German tuning company Hamann's idea of a BMW M6. It was shown at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show as an M6 Gran Coupe, sporting a ridiculous paint job and some meaty, multi-spoke 21-inch wheels.
Consider this car the Mirror Mark 2. Based on the M6 Coupe, Hamann has applied a similar visual theme, using the same 21-inch wheels from 2013. Whereas the Gran Coupe rode around with a stock powertrain, though, there's been no such restraint with the two-door Mirror. A fine 620 horsepower is available from the 4.4-liter, biturbocharged V8, an increase of 60 horsepower. Torque is up as well, from 501 pound-feet to a whopping 560, meaning this M6 has speed to match its looks. Hamann claims the Mirror's newfound grunt allows it to hit 62 miles per hour faster than the standard M6 (we'd certainly hope so), although it won't mention a specific number.
The suspension, meanwhile, has been dropped 1.37 inches, or about a third of an inch lower than the Frankfurt Mirror. That drop is complemented by the Mirror's bodywork, including the exposed, carbon fiber hood and the flared fenders, which can now accommodate the enormous 305/25 rear rubber. Hamann has also paid some attention to the front and rear aerodynamics.
If you're in the market for a high-performance BMW and you live in Europe, you've typically had two range of options at your disposal: you could go for one of BMW's own M models, or turn to Alpina. Though technically independent of BMW, Alpina is about as close to the manufacturer as a tuner can get, and many of its models are offered through BMW's own dealer network.
That's overseas, but in the North American market, BMW has typically taken a different approach, offering just one Alpina model - the B7 - to fill in for a lack of M7 performance sedan. That all changes, however, with the debut of the BMW Alpina B6 xDrive Gran Coupe.
Slotting in alongside the M6 Gran Coupe, the Alpina B6 xDrive Gran Coupe is marginally more expensive and slightly less powerful, but makes up for those relative (and negligible) shortcomings in spades. Both are based on the 6 Series Gran Coupe and both pack a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8, but with key differences. Where the M6 produces 560 horsepower, the Alpina offers 'only' 540. But where the M6 channels 500 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the Alpina drives 540 lb-ft to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic.
The second-generation BMW X3 launched in late 2010, and while it's never really wowed us, it's still a solid offering in a highly competitive class. In an effort to keep things fresh, BMW has given its X3 a nip/tuck for the 2015 model year, but perhaps the biggest news (for the US market, anyway) involves what's found underhood.
In addition to the 2.0-liter turbo-four and 3.0-liter turbo-six, BMW will now offer an X3 xDrive28d, fitted with - you guessed it - the 2.0-liter turbodiesel inline four-cylinder engine found in the 328d sedan. Output for this engine is rated at 180 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, and BMW says this oil-burning mill will help the X3 reach 60 miles per hour in just under eight seconds. The automaker hasn't released any information about real or predicted fuel economy figures for the diesel X3, as yet.
What's more, BMW will once again offer a two-wheel-drive X3 in the States - the sDrive28i. Pricing for the refreshed 2013 X3 starts at $39,325, not including $925 for destination. Opting for that diesel will set you back $42,825. Scroll down for the official press release, and check out a new brace of shots live from the soft-roader's Geneva Motor Show debut.
We know what you might be thinking: here comes another BMW with yet another kind of roofline. Only this isn't just another BMW. It's the first front-drive BMW, and the first time we've ever seen it in person.
That model, of course, is the new 2 Series Active Tourer, debuting here in Geneva as the production version of the Concept Active Tourer and the beefier Concept Active Tourer Outdoor that followed. It shares about as much with the 2 Series Coupe as a jelly donut, but takes BMW into a new market segment - that of the high-roofed hatchback (or micro-minivan, depending on your perspective) occupied by the likes of the Mercedes-Benz B-Class and Volkswagen Golf Sportsvan.
Power comes from a choice of 1.5-liter turbo three, 2.0-liter turbo four or 2.0-liter turbodiesel - but aside from the forced-induction engines what they all the versions have in common is what makes the 2 Series Active Tourer newsworthy: they all sit up front, driving the front wheels. It's an idea BMW purists might not appreciate, but one we'd all better get used to just the same.
BMW sure seems to take pleasure in confusing the hell out of us. It used to be pretty simple: if you wanted a compact Bimmer, you had to look no further than the 3 Series. Then it was just a matter of which bodystyle you wanted. But the smaller end of BMW's lineup has gotten more complicated lately. Never mind the 1 Series and 2 Series (in their various iterations) that have slotted in below it - now the 3 Series has been split in two: Want a four-door, get the new 3 Series. Want a two-door, the 4 Series is your address. Right?
Almost. Because now there's a 4 Series Gran Coupe that keeps the two-door's roofline (or some approximation of it) but adds an extra set of doors in the back, thereby bridging the gap between the 3 Series sedan and 4 Series coupe. And it's just made its public debut here at the Geneva Motor Show.
The difference between this and the two-door 4 Series is plain to see: it's got two extra doors. But what's the difference between this and the 3 Series sedan? About two or three grand, to start with - depending on which version (428i Gran Coupe or 435i Gran Coupe) you choose. But it's also sleeker, more muscular and altogether that extra bit sexier. Which is a good trait, as you can see from our gallery of live shots above, to have in your European sports sedan, coupe, or whatever you want to call it.