Auto blogFri, 15 Aug 2014 20:00:00 EST
Most people don't have two, open spots in their garage to fit a practical daily driver and a fire-breathing performance car for the weekends. That's what makes vehicles like the latest Volkswagen Golf R and BMW M235i just about perfect for the average person. Both of these Germans can lope around as a commuter 90 percent of the time and be perfectly comfortable. However, when you want to walk in the door with a big smile on your face, you can take the back roads home and get a real thrill from them.
In his latest short video, Chris Harris from Drive tests these surprisingly comparable German performance cars. Both of them offer buyers in the neighborhood of 300 horsepower, with the BMW winning out with 320 hp. However, the Golf R gets standard all-wheel drive, which is now an option on the M235i. Harris has quite positive things to say about these Europeans, but you're going to have to watch the video to hear just what he thinks.
What's a sure-fire way to make a vehicle better? Well, you can add power or make it more exclusive. BMW has done both, just in time to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the legendary M5 sedan.
Only 300 examples of the car you see above, the M5 30th Anniversary Edition, will be sold to the public, and those lucky owners will enjoy the most exclusive, most powerful M5 ever made. Power continues to flow from the standard M5's twin-turbocharged, 4.4-liter V8, which has had its wick turned up to 600 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The sprint to 60 now happens in just 3.7 seconds, which is still a scarcely fathomable speed among sports cars, let alone comfortable, finely upholstered sedans.
Speaking of that upholstery, Alcantara and leather seats and an Alcantara steering wheel identify the exclusive M5, while special sill plates further call out the car's unique spec. Outside, the standard Competition Package adds 20-inch wheels and black chrome badges, while 30th Anniversary Editions wear BMW's Frozen Dark Silver matte paint.
The new, one-of-a-kind BMW i8 Concours d'Elegance Edition made a ritzy debut last night at BMW's private villa, giving the media its first chance to look at the ultra-exclusive hybrid.
As we said in our previous post, the most notable feature of the Concours d'Elegance i8 is its matte grey paint, known as Frozen Grey Metallic in BMW parlance. This isn't the first time we've seen this shade on an exclusive BMW, as it was last used for the Frozen Grey M3 from 2010.
Contrasting quite nicely with the i8's flat paint are its blue and white accents, and its Dalbergia Brown leather upholstery. Blue contrast stitching complements the interior aesthetic, as do the embossed BMW roundels in the headrests.
One of the best innovations in car buying in recent years is the rise of no-cost scheduled maintenance programs. Many people feel really anxious about taking their car in for service, and these deals help mitigate that somewhat. Obviously, it's not free for automakers to implement the offers, and now BMW is altering the way its four-year, 50,000-mile Maintenance Program works for some owners. "To keep such an offer sustainable we had to make a change," said Kenn Sparks, Manager of Business Communications at BMW North America, to Autoblog via email.
The original person to buy or lease the model isn't going to see any difference, but the program is no longer transferable to a second owner, unless that person is in the owners household. Those people include includes parents, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren, in addition to someone like a spouse or children. The original owner just has to advise BMW of new user. "The program change will affect 2nd owners and for them BMW is introducing an optional full-maintenance product that covers the vehicle up to 100,000 miles," said Sparks. Scroll down to read the entire announcement.
If you want to be among the first owners in the United States of the new BMW i8, the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance will be the place to be next Saturday. That's where Gooding & Company will auction off this one-of-a-kind hybrid supercar.
The BMW i8 Concours d'Elegance Edition was previously slated to be the very first i8 in North America, but has now apparently been downgraded to the guarantee of being among the firsts. In any event, it packs a series of special touches to make it unique. For starters, it's decked out in matte grey with unique brown leather upholstery, blue accents and Pure Impulse Tera World trim, with BMW i8 logos embossed into the headrests, special treat plates and the signatures of several key BMW personnel on the rear parcel shelf.
Pending government approval, it's set to be the first vehicle in the US fitted with laser headlights, and comes equipped with a special key, Louis Vuitton luggage and a "professional edition" BMW Charging Station. Scope out all the details in the press release below and take a closer look in the gallery above.
It's easy to look at racing video games as just a time waster or a hobby. In reality, though, they're often powerful tools for aspiring racers to learn tracks, race craft and how to set up a car in an easily accessible, risk-free environment. We aren't just talking about proper computer-based sims, like iRacing. Console-based racers like Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo provide a test bed for racers of all sorts.
For Mario Bonfante, Jr., a former motorcycle racer that was involved in a brutal accident that left him in a wheelchair with only limited use of his arms, Forza is a bit more. It allows him to perfect the setup of his personal racecar, a heavily modified E46 BMW M3, complete with hand controls.
Check out Mario's inspiring story.
BMW is putting a lot of its chips on the success of its forthcoming front-wheel drive models, and it's making a big bet on the company's future in hoping that customers will accept them. Its front-driving UKL platform is underpinning not just the current crop of Minis but a host of BMW vehicles too. The rollout starts with the 2 Series Active Tourer in Europe later this year. But the Bavarian brand confirms to Automotive News Europe that the next one is the X1 crossover, slated to come to Europe next June. It will also be joined by the X2 next summer, confirming earlier rumors about the fashionable CUV's existence.
As the previous spy photos suggest, the X1 is even smaller than the current model, and it supposedly uses the same crop of turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder and 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines as Mini. But according to Automotive News Europe, the little guy is getting an extended, three-row version for the US, Russia and China. Like with the X4 or X6, the X2 shares most of the mechanical parts with its more conventional-looking sibling but features sleeker styling.
To make all of these UKL-based models possible, BMW is sharing development among them as much as is practical. According to Automotive News Europe, the next generations of the Mini Countryman, Clubman, X1 and X2 share the same electrical systems, drivetrains and more. Adding in the Active Tourer and still mysterious Family Active Sports Tourer to the mix, and the result is a big gamble that needs to go Bimmer's way.
The Nürburgring Nordschleife has the reputation as one of the most difficult tracks in the world to master - deservedly so. With 14 miles of roadway and about 160 corners over a massive amount of elevation change, the amount of grip can change from turn to turn. As the driver of the famous BMW Ring Taxi learned this weekend after a shunt into the barricades, the 'Ring can bite unsuspecting pros just as easily as amateurs.
The video of the incident below shows the M5 oversteering right into the wall as a phalanx of Porsche models arrive behind it. According to Bridge to Gantry, a website that specializes in news about the 'Ring, the taxi's passengers were picked up by another Ring Taxi and driven off with a fantastic story to tell their friends back home. "The accident happened at low speed, there were two passengers in the car, but no one had at any injuries," said BMW spokesperson Cypselus von Frankenberg to Autoblog via email.
The crash also closed track for over an hour to clean up and to haul the stricken BMW away. When a driver making a living from driving lap after lap at the Nordschleife has a crash even as seemingly minor as this one, it just goes to show why the course has the nickname 'The Green Hell.'
BMW seems willing to exploit every automotive niche it can find with creations like the four-door, 'crossover coupe' X4 and X6. Of course, these designs come with a compromise. That svelte fastback means that they just can't haul as much cargo as a more traditional, boxier hatchback. Fortunately, students at Clemson University's International Center for Automotive Research might have a novel solution: the engineering graduate program has turned the crossover into a unique pickup.
Dubbed Deep Orange 4 concept, this functional prototype has an enclosed cargo area with a sliding glass panel that opens up to expose a pickup bed if more room is needed. Think of it as the GMC Envoy XUV of German crossovers. This isn't just an X4 with its roof hacked off, though. The students actually started with an X3 and grafted on this top later in addition to the two barn doors for access to the bed.
To make this project even more impressive, this pickup-crossover could conceivably be produced. The graduate students conducted an in-plant analysis of BMW's manufacturing abilities and went back to the university to create a plan for a low-volume vehicle that could actually be built. "The students working on this phase of the project did an excellent job of keeping costs down while finding optimal integration opportunities," said Rich Morris, vice president of assembly at BMW Manufacturing, in the university's release.
The stream of segment-busting BMW variants is showing no signs of letting up, and with the latest addition now upon us, questions have been circulating as to whether the Bavarian automaker would do an M version of the new X4 crossover. The jury may still be out on that proposition, but the latest intel suggests that, while a full-on X4 M may not be in the cards, a next-best-thing X4 M40i is in the works. And that appears to be what we're looking at in this fresh batch of spy shots.
Spotted for the first time undergoing testing in Germany, this X4 is tipped to be the next addition to the M Performance line that's already given us near-boiling models like the M135i and M235i on the one hand and the diesel-powered M550d, X5 M50d and X6 M50d on the other. Power in this case is tipped to come from the same 3.0-liter turbo six as the upcoming M2, producing between 360 and 380 horsepower.
Unlike the current top-of-that-specific-line X4 35i, which has two tailpipes on one side, this partially-camouflaged prototype has one pipe protruding from each corner of the rear bumper, but looks like it could easily accommodate twin pipes on both sides. Expect commensurate suspension, brake, rolling stock, aero and trim upgrades to come as part of the package, though they likely won't be quite as substantial as those applied to the X5 M and X6 M.