Posts

BMW tech will make your phone into a key for any car

BMW digital key

BMW has announced plans to further develop smart device capabilities for its cars – and those of others. It wants to advance beyond its existing BMW Connected application, which can already lock, unlock and start a car via a smartphone.

BMW joined the Car Connectivity Consortium in 2017, pursuing the standardisation of technologies and car security across the car industry. Its vision? Something like an app that has all of your cars in, which you select as if playing a computer game, with each car controlled in exactly the same way.

At least, that’s what a ‘standardised ecosystem for vehicle access that will enable new functions across multiple devices and different manufacturers’ sounds like to us.

BMW digital key

To achieve this ultimate digital key, BMW says there needs to be compatibility across all varieties of mobile device, including smart watches, and among all car manufacturers. 

“Our customers want cross-vendor interoperability,” said Dr Olaf Müller, head of development for digital access systems at BMW.

“Standardisation is the only way to achieve this; proprietary solutions are no longer beneficial.”

The next generation of digital key

BMW digital key

BMW will launch the second iteration of the digital key soon. It will feature a physical chip that means your car can unlock even if your phone is switched off.

Future developments of this will mean the car and device will be better able to communicate with each other. That means you won’t have to hold your phone up to the door handle. The technology to enable this is already being deployed in current and upcoming smartphones.

Does this end the scourge of keyless car theft? There is obviously the question of this technology being hacked. However, security is apparently a top priority for the Car Connectivity Consortium. 

New BMW M2 CS – and the coolest classic M cars

BMW M2 CS

The first production road car developed by BMW’s M division was the M1 of 1978, but the company has a history dating back to 1972 and the founding of BMW Motorsport GmbH. Later it became known as BMW M GmbH: a company responsible for developing some of the most iconic performance cars of all-time, as well as some capable but controversial SUVs.

Happily, the latest offering from BMW M is as old-school ‘M’ as they come. The new M2 CS is a feisty 450hp run-out special, and leads our list of 25 of the greatest M cars of all time.

BMW M2 CSBMW M2 CS

The M2 and subsequent M2 Competition were already firecrackers. The new CS takes things up a notch, before this compact coupe is discontinued. It loses weight and gains 40hp, plus a stunning Misano Blue paint colour.

Carbon fibre parts, such as the front splitter, boot spoiler and rear diffuser, help the CS cut kilos. The vented carbon bonnet is half the weight of a standard steel item, and extracts hot air while adding front-end downforce. The carbon roof needs fewer seals, so saves on sound-deadening. And those new 19-inch forged wheels save significant unsprung weight.

There’s a general feeling that performance cars like the M2 aren’t long for this world, and with the CS being a run-out model, the end seems nigh. For now, we’re just grateful for this tyre-smoking tearaway. Now, back to where it all began…

BMW E26 M1Are these the best BMW M cars of all-time?

Commercial disaster it might have been, but the M1 holds a special place in motoring history as BMW’s first and only supercar, not to mention one of Giorgetto Giugiaro’s finest creations.

Quite why BMW felt it needed to build a supercar is still unknown, but it turned to Lamborghini for help with the chassis and production. But with the Italians falling behind schedule, BMW took the project in house and even created its own ProCar race series to help promote its new supercar.

BMW M635CSi/M6Are these the best BMW M cars of all-time?

The 3.5-litre straight-six engine of the BMW M1 found a new home in the M635CSi, known as the M6 in Japan and North America. The ultimate version of the E24 6 Series was developed by BMW Motorsport and featured a revised chassis and a number of cosmetic upgrades.

In 1989, when the M635CSi was in the twilight of its life, it cost an eye-watering £46,000 – a massive £9,000 more than the regular 635CSi. That meant it was battling with the likes of the Ferrari Mondial, Lamborghini Jalpa and Porsche 911. BMW obviously had one eye on the future when it developed the M1…

BMW E28 M5Are these the best BMW M cars of all-time?

The E28 M5 was one of the original Q-cars, but its discreet appearance was no accident. BMW knew that this handbuilt and costly super-saloon would appeal to buyers in their 40s and 50s, many of whom wouldn’t be turned on by big spoilers, wide arches and associated trinkets.

Even the rear spoiler was an option, while buyers could choose to delete the M5 badge from the boot lid. At launch, the E28 M5 was the fastest production saloon car in the world, with a 0-60mph time of 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 153mph. A legend was born.

BMW E30 M3Are these the best BMW M cars of all-time?

In common with the E28 M5, the development of the E30 M3 was driven by a desire to mess with the head of Mercedes-Benz, both on the track and on the road. By the time it was unveiled at the 1985 Frankfurt Motor Show, BMW was already playing catch-up, with the 190E 2.3-16 unveiled a year earlier.

Within 12 months, BMW had exceeded the 5,000 units required for Group A homologation – it was clear that it had a hit on its hands. As the M3’s racing career developed, so did the need to create more homologation specials, which resulted in the Evolution and Evolution II special editions. A convertible version signalled a shift from pure racing to a luxury product.

BMW E36 M3 EvoAre these the best BMW M cars of all-time?

The second generation E36 M3 highlights this move upmarket, presenting a more refined take on the performance saloon model. That it was built on standard production lines and not at BMW’s M GmbH plant only serves to highlight this point. All of which means the E36 M3 shouldn’t register on a list of all-time greats, right? Well, no, not exactly.

Contemporary reviews were quick to point out that the saloon felt sharper than the coupe, while special editions only served to enhance the E36’s reputation. And in the more powerful M3 Evo, with its larger 3.2-litre engine, the E36 evolved into a highly accomplished all-rounder.

BMW E46 M3Are these the best BMW M cars of all-time?

If the jury is out on the E36, there can be no such doubts when it comes to the E46 M3. This felt like a return to form for the M3, complete with ‘phat’ arches and 343hp from its 3.2-litre straight-six engine. The 0-60mph time dropped to a smidgen over five seconds. Properly quick, then.

In so many ways, the E46 could be classed as the definitive M3. It has the looks, the pedigree, the performance and – perhaps crucially – the soundtrack. The engine and exhaust combine to deliver a symphony for the ears, ranging from a rasp to a wail. Hard to beat?

BMW E46 M3 CSLAre these the best BMW M cars of all-time?

Yes, it is possible to improve on perfection, and it comes in the form of the CSL. It speaks volumes that the current M2 – widely considered to be one of the greatest M cars of all-time – has been compared to the E46 M3 CSL. Stripped of all but the bare essentials, the CSL was 110kg lighter than the regular M3, creating a more hardcore driving experience.

CSL stands for ‘Coupe Sport Lightweight’, a reference to the hugely successful 3.0 CSL of 1972. If any car was fit to wear the legendary badge, this was it. We’ll also give a special mention to the M3 CS, a kind of halfway house between the M3 and the CSL.

BMW 1 Series M CoupeAre these the best BMW M cars of all-time?

The BMW 1 Series M Coupe – or 1 M Coupe – was an unlikely hero. Created using bits from the M3 and the Z4, BMW turned the junior exec into a senior performance player. It might not be an M car in the truest sense – there’s no bespoke engine to be found here – but it deserves its place alongside the Bavarian thoroughbreds.

BMW squeezed 340hp from 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine, with a maximum 369lb ft of torque available on overboost. If you were fortunate enough to buy one new, you’re sitting on a little goldmine. Price then: £39,995. Price now: upwards of £40,000, but as much as £65,000.

BMW E39 M5Are these the best BMW M cars of all-time?

The all-time greats just keep on coming. If the E46 M3 CSL is the ‘A Day in the Life’ of the M world, the E39 M5 is probably ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. In fact, the E39 is a far better all-rounder – as at home on the commute as it is on the track.

Power is sourced from a normally aspirated 4.9-litre V8 engine producing 400hp at 6,600rpm and 369lb ft of torque at 3,800rpm. But the E39 M5 was more than just a terrific engine. BMW’s M division tweaked the suspension, lowered the ride height, sharpened the steering and added a limited-slip diff to create one of the greatest performance saloons of all-time.

BMW E34 M5Are these the best BMW M cars of all-time?

Back in 1990 the E34 M5 was the fastest saloon car in the world, which is why Car magazine chose to pit against the Ferrari Testarossa. Perhaps predictably, the Testarossa won the day, with the magazine claiming that the M5 was “massively competent, but not really fun to drive”.

Retrospectively, Evo magazine concluded that “it takes time to uncover this precise adjustability… but it’s worth the effort. It’s a car you could spend a great deal of time with and never get bored. Phwoar.” That’ll do for us.

BMW E90/E92 M3Are these the best BMW M cars of all-time?

The introduction of the E92 – the fourth generation M3 – is the point at which the performance 3 Series jumped from six to eight cylinders. The E92 M3 coupe came first, swiftly followed by the E90 saloon, both of which were powered by a 4.0-litre V8 engine producing 420hp.

Sure, the shift from straight-six to vee-eight might have upset the purists, but the E90/E92 soon won people over thanks to its devastating performance. Another contender for the greatest all-rounder, the E90/E92 featured a ‘M’ button, unlocking the M3’s true potential.

BMW E90 M3 CRTAre these the best BMW M cars of all-time?

The E90/E92 spawned a number of special editions, including the M3 Coupe Edition, M3 GTS and the last-of-the-line M Performance Edition. Picking the best is a highly subjective opinion and – with a limitless amount of cash – we’d opt for the super-expensive M3 CRT. The CRT stands for Carbon Racing Technology, previewing new body panels set to appear on the i3 and i8.

The CRT also received uprated brakes, adjustable coilovers, titanium mufflers and less sound deadening for a more hardcore driving experience. All were finished in Frozen Polar Silver paint, but none came to the UK. Shame.

BMW F13 M6Are these the best BMW M cars of all-time?

Aside from the ludicrously vulgar X5 M and X6 M, the M6 Coupe is the most expensive current M car in the BMW range. The M6 Coupe starts at £95,580, while the M6 Convertible manages to break into six figures. There’s also an M6 Gran Coupe in the middle, but our money – nobody mention depreciation – would be on the Coupe.

Power is sourced from a 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine developing a huge 560hp and 516lb ft of torque. Remove the rev limiter and this super-svelte M car will top 189mph, sprinting to 62mph in just 3.9 seconds. We’d add the £9,000 Competition Package for good measure. Well, if you’re going to drop the best part of £100k on a new car, you might as well do it in style.

BMW F82 M4 GTSAre these the best BMW M cars of all-time?

As the fastest production BMW ever built, the M4 GTS demands attention. Some will be unable to see beyond the slightly ‘aftermarket’ styling or the £120,000+ price tag BMW is demanding for the pleasure of owning this Top Trumps winner. But a 190mph top speed and 0-62mph time of 3.8 seconds might shift the balance in its favour.

It is, of course, at home on the track, where the GTS can make the most of its 69hp and 39lb ft gains over the standard M4. Production is limited to 700 worldwide, with a mere 30 coming to the UK. Expect the majority of these to be squirrelled away for investment purposes.

BMW Z3 M CoupeAre these the best BMW M cars of all-time?

A controversial choice, perhaps, but you only need to look at the prices being asked for the Z3 M Coupe to appreciate the greatness of BMW’s ‘breadvan’. You could understand the desire to create a Z3 M Roadster, but the Coupe required a greater leap of faith for BMW bosses.

The 3.2-litre six-cylinder engine developed between 321hp and 325hp, depending on the engine, with the 0-62mph sitting at just over five seconds. The looks might be an acquired taste, but exclusivity and the M badge will ensure classic status.

BMW E60 M5Are these the best BMW M cars of all-time?

If you want pedigree, the BMW E60 M5 has it by the bucketload. This was the first production saloon car to be powered by a V10 petrol engine, while the SMG transmission was a result of BMW’s involvement with the Sauber F1 team. Yet again, the M5 took the mantle of world’s fastest four-door saloon, with an unlimited top speed of 200mph.

The full force of 507 horses kicks in at 7,750rpm, which simply encourages you to explore the upper reaches of the rev range. And yet, the E60 M5 will happily spend its entire time on the autobahn, barely breaking sweat as it soothes away the miles. But it’s not the best all-rounder of the E60 generation…

BMW E61 M5 TouringAre these the best BMW M cars of all-time?

Because that accolade belongs to the E61 M5 Touring: the first M5 wagon to be officially sold in the UK. Everyone loves a performance wagon, right, while the M5 Touring also managed to smooth away the controversial Chris Bangle styling of the E60 saloon.

Seriously, where are the drawbacks? The performance figures are identical, and yet the Touring offers 1,650 litres of luggage capacity. BMW hasn’t built another M5 Touring, making this the last of the breed. We had a look on Auto Trader for inspiration (well you would, wouldn’t you?) where we found just two for sale, both available for less than £30,000.

BMW Z4 M CoupeAre these the best BMW M cars of all-time?

If the styling of the BMW Z3 M Coupe was a tad divisive, the Z4 M Coupe was a more sombre affair. Power is sourced from a 3.2-litre straight-six engine developing 343hp and 269lb ft of torque.

Purists rejoice, because the Z4 M Coupe and its Roadster sibling were only offered with a six-speed manual transmission, with a 0-62mph time sneaking below five seconds. Chris Bangle’s ‘flame surfacing’ has aged remarkably well, while prices start from around £15,000. Bargain.

BMW M550d xDriveAre these the best BMW M cars of all-time?

A diesel M car: whatever next? But before the purists choke on their V-Power, we should remember that the M550d xDrive features a quad-turbocharged diesel engine producing 400hp and 561lb ft of torque.

Sure, it’s a BMW M Performance product rather than a proper M car, but these are different times. Besides, a 0-62mph time of 4.4 seconds for the saloon and 4.6 seconds for the Touring will have this diesel upstart nipping at the heels of any genuine M car.

BMW G30 M5

M cars BMW

The new M5 takes the difficult-to-love F10 formula and very nearly perfects it, with the sharpened looks of the G30 combining with a great new automatic gearbox, a livelier updated engine and switchable four-wheel-drive.

It’s a 600hp stonker jack-of-all-trades car that the F10 tried but never quite managed to be. The current Mercedes E63 has a similar weapons-grade capability with switchable all-wheel-drive. The next Audi RS 6 has got a real fight on its hands.

BMW E31 850CSi (M8)Are these the best BMW M cars of all-time?

The best M car that never was? The E31 850CSi was developed by BMW Motorsport and featured a 5.6-litre V12 engine developing 385hp and 406lb ft of torque. It was, if you like, a BMW M8 in all but name.

A true M8 was planned – with a lightweight body and a 550hp V12 engine – but BMW pulled the plug. The new M8 is due out this year.

BMW E63 M6Are these the best BMW M cars of all-time?

In many ways, the E63 M6 was a two-door M5, powered by the same 5.0-litre V10 engine. And yet the coupe featured a carbon fibre roof and new dashboard, making it 80kg lighter than the super-saloon.

When new it was criticised for being more expensive and less practical than the M5, but a decade on that hardly seems to matter. Best of all: prices start from around £15,000.

BMW E9 3.0 CSLAre these the best BMW M cars of all-time?

Without the E9 3.0 CSL there might not be a BMW M division. It is, if you like, the godfather of the M badge: the very genesis of the brand.

BMW’s Motorsport division developed and raced the ‘Batmobile’, laying the foundations for the future of performance gems.

BMW E12 M535iAre these the best BMW M cars of all-time?

Again, the M535i isn’t a true M car, but as the forerunner to the M5 it warrants a place on our list. The only M car prior to the M535i was the M1, which makes this saloon the first car to be developed with everyday customers in mind.

We’ll give a special mention to the E12 530 MLE (Motorsport Limited Edition): a homologation special developed by BMW of South Africa and BMW Motorsport GmbH.

New £75,320 BMW M2 CS could be the FINAL classic M car

BMW M2 CS

After leaking online yesterday, the BMW M2 CS has now been revealed in full. It’s a good old-fashioned run-out special, with more power, a sharper chassis and extra equipment.

The 450hp CS boosts the muscle of the 3.0-litre straight-six by 40hp, although maximum torque stays the same. The gains come from freer-flowing exhausts with a new dual-branch design.

Adaptive M suspension with Comfort, Sport and Sport+ settings is standard. M Sport brakes are also included, with 400mm discs and six-pot calipers at the front, plus 380mm discs with four-pots behind. Buyers can choose from six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch auto transmissions.

BMW M2 CS: saving weight

BMW M2 CS

Just because there’s no ‘L’ for ‘Light’ on the end of the CS badge, it doesn’t mean BMW hasn’t cut kilos. The CS adds a vented carbon bonnet that weighs half as much and increases front-axle downforce.

The carbon roof also saves weight, partly because there are no joins, which means less need for soundproofing. It also adds rigidity and lowers the centre of gravity.

Forged 19-inch wheels reduce the unsprung rotating mass, too. They’re optionally available in gold (pictured).

BMW M2 CS: going faster

BMW M2 CS

How about performance? The raw numbers are 0-62mph in 4.0 seconds for the dual-clutch auto, or 4.2 seconds for the manual. That’s 0.2 seconds quicker than the current M2 Competition.

Top speed, should you opt for the Driver’s Package, is 174mph. You get Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres if you upgrade, too, although Super Sports are a no-cost option for more everyday usability.

BMW M2 CS

What tells you that you’ve bought the ultimate M2, though? Those big wheels are a start, along with carbon flourishes on the boot lip, wing mirrors, diffuser, splitter and, of course, the roof. More aggressive exhaust tips complete the exterior package.

On the inside, there are swathes of Alcantara trim and ‘CS’ is stitched into the dashboard. M Sport seats from the M4 CS are fitted, too.

BMW M2 CS: how much?

BMW M2 CS

It’s easy to get confused by BMW’s incrementally increasing badges: Competition, CS, CSL, GTS, and so on. The M2 CS, however, has a genuine motorsport connection. A new club racing series featuring the car kicks off in 2020.

How much will the road car cost? Safe to say, it’s a reasonably expensive set of upgrades, at £75,320 on the road. You do get an awful lot as standard, though. Adaptive LED lights and the Harman/Kardon sound system are included, alongside the upgrades.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ultra-rare classic BMW restored after 43 years

BMW SA 530 MLE

True BMW geeks know that some of the marque’s coolest performance cars never wore an ‘M’ badge.

Following in the footsteps of the 3.0-litre CSL and 2002 Turbo, this is the South Africa-only 530 Motorsport Limited Edition (MLE). This car, chassis number 100, has just undergone a meticulous restoration.

What is the BMW 530 MLE?

BMW SA 530 MLE

The MLE is a homologation special in the purest sense, designed purely to permit racers to compete in the Modified Production Series in 1976. And compete they did, winning 15 out of 15 races. When it retired in 1985, the 530 MLE’s three consecutive titles made it the most successful racing 5 Series ever. 

To be homologated, there needed to be a minimum of 100 road cars. The South African model lasted from 1976 to 1977, with 217 made in total. It featured extra power from its 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine, hand-drilled bodywork and pedals, manual windows, no air conditioning and special Mahle wheels. All work was done at the Rosslyn BMW plant – the first outside of Germany.

This car was previously owned by race driver and team manager, Peter Kaye-Eddie.

BMW SA 530 MLE

“The BMW 530 MLE at the time demonstrated how competitive sporting events were the ideal setting to impress the motoring public with the performance of new vehicles,” said Tim Abbott, CEO of BMW Group South Africa.

“The success of the 530 MLE was a pure example of ‘What wins on Saturday sells on Monday’, and it paved the way for BMW South Africa as a sporty brand and a serious motorsport contender in the country. To this day, M remains the most powerful letter in the world!”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

‘Remarkable’ BMW 1 Series M Coupe heads to auction

Delivery mileage BMW 1 Series M Coupe

The BMW 1 Series M Coupe – or BMW 1 M Coupe – is a modern classic. Values started to rise before production of the 450 cars had even finished.

Used cars start from around £40,000, but you’ll pay as much as £60,000 for the very best cars in the country. New, you’d have paid £39,995 to own one of BMW’s greatest performance cars of the decade.

If you thought you’d missed your chance to own a ‘new’ BMW 1 Series M Coupe, think again, because one example has been in underground storage for the past eight years. 

Delivered new to BMW Park Lane, it’s believed that this particular 1 M Coupe was used to launch the model at the London showroom. Today, it has just 90 miles on the clock.

‘Quite remarkable car’

BMW 1 Series M Coupe rear

Gary Dunne of Classic Car Auctions (CCA), the auction house tasked with selling the BMW this weekend, believes it is a one-off opportunity:

“This is quite a remarkable car. Owned by one family, they bought the car and then stored it in an underground facility which has kept the car away from the elements for the last eight years.”

It passed its first MOT last month, and predictably there were no advisories. CCA expects it to fetch £60,000 to £70,000 when it goes under the hammer in Warwickshire.

BMW 1 Series M Coupe dials

It’s one of the headline acts of a packed auction, which includes another BMW 1 Series M Coupe. This example has 49,300 miles on the clock but is expected to sell for a more affordable £30,000 to £35,000.

Alternatively, a BMW Z3 M Coupe has a pre-auction estimate of £8,000 to £10,000, while a ‘real timewarp’ BMW 328i with 11,000 miles on the clock could achieve up to £7,000.

But all eyes will be on the 1 Series M Coupe to see if it will reach the top end of its pre-auction estimate. If you fancy placing a bid, the CCA sale takes place at the Warwickshire Event Centre this coming Saturday. Viewing is a day earlier on Friday 4 October 2019.

BMW Concept 4 Frankfurt 2019

Looks that grille: divisive BMW concept previews next 4 Series

BMW Concept 4 Frankfurt 2019BMW has revealed a startling new concept car at the 2019 Frankfurr Motor Show. The Concept 4 is a less-than-subtle hint about how the next 4 Series will look.

Although only a show car, the Concept 4 is said to be an accurate representation of the finished 2020 4 Series. 

Intended to combine futuristic technology with traditional BMW design, there is likely to be one major talking point in Frankfurt

Expect to be grilled

BMW Concept 4 Frankfurt 2019Although we have seen the giant BMW kidney grille applied to SUVs and saloons, this is the first time it has made an appearance on a coupe. 

The gaping mouth of the Concept 4 is unashamedly vast. BMW says the vertical grille is inspired by the classic 328 sports car, or the 3.0 CS coupe from the 1970s. 

In creating the grille, BMW has incorporated special horizontal trim details. The grates inside it, and the air intakes, are formed from an array of tiny ‘number 4’ structures. 

BMW Concept 4 Frankfurt 2019According to Domagoj Dukec, head of BMW design, the kidney grille has “always been a signature feature of BMW cars. The BMW Concept 4 presents a confident and classy take on this iconic feature. At the same time, the BMW Concept 4 offers a look ahead to the expressive face of the 4 Series range.”

Just as dramatic are the LED headlights which, unusually, feature no cover over the lighting elements. This makes them more prominent, although don’t expect the production version to follow suit. 

The shape of the kidney grille also feeds into the heavily sculpted bonnet, flowing into the flanks of the Concept 4.

“Perfect proportions, clear precise design”

BMW Concept 4 Frankfurt 2019Viewed from the side, the Concept 4 demonstrates classic BMW coupe proportions. A long nose extends into a sweeping roofline, ending at a truncated tail. 

Adrian van Hooydonk, senior vice president of BMW design, said: “Concept 4 embodies the aesthetic essence of the BMW brand. It combines perfect proportions with a clear and precise design”. 

The fancy Forbidden Red paintwork is used to highlight styling features, while the 21-inch alloy wheels feature an intricate internal pattern. Other highlights include the side mirrors, which seem to emerge from the aluminium window surround and feature tiny BMW logos.

BMW Concept 4 Frankfurt 2019The rear looks similar to the recent flagship 8 Series coupe. BMW has used LED taillights to create its L-shape ‘light signature’, with the actual pattern said to resemble a heartbeat.

Intended solely to show off exterior styling, BMW has not released details of interior or engine options for the next 4 Series. However, we can expect to see the same range of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid powertrains as the current 3 Series saloon. 

BMW will launch the production 4 Series in the middle of 2020.

BMW i8 signs off with ‘Ultimate Sophisto Edition’

BMW i8 Ultimate Sophisto Edition

It seems like only yesterday the BMW i8 was launched, looking every inch a vision of the future. Six years on, it’s signing off with the ‘Ultimate Sophisto Edition’ the last of the i8 line.

Announcing the run of 200 cars, BMW confirmed the i8 will cease production in April 2020. In the company’s own words: ‘the Ultimate Sophisto Edition will escort the world’s most successful plug-in hybrid sports car since its launch in 2014 onto the finishing straight’.

BMW i8 Ultimate Sophisto Edition

BMW i8 Ultimate Sophisto Edition

So what defines the Ultimate Sophisto Edition, besides that cringeworthy name? Sophisto Grey paint lends part of the car’s moniker, plus a rather attractive colour.

E-Copper accents provide contrast on the wheels, front grille and around the body, and are reminiscent of the Vision M Next concept. Look to that for clues as to what replaces the i8 next year.

Both Coupe and Roadster versions will be offered, each with a ‘1 of 200’ plaque inside the cabin. The sill plates also get ‘Ultimate Sophisto Edition’ script, while the tail lights are made from clear glass.

BMW i3S Edition Roadstyle 

BMW i8 Ultimate Sophisto Edition

As ever, the more down-to-earth i3 follows in the i8’s tyre tracks. It too gets a special version called the ‘Edition Roadstyle’, although not to signify the end of production.

It also has flashes of E-Copper, but over Fluid Black paint. On the inside, the headrests come with ‘Edition Roadstyle’ badging.

In spite of BMW’s relative inactivity with the ‘i’ brand, the i8 and i3 have both been trailblazers. What follows the i8 will surely be something special.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Special edition BMW X6 is ‘world’s blackest car’

Vantablack BMW X6 is the world's blackest car

The BMW X6 has always divided opinion, and few more so than this one. It’s a special edition painted in Vantablack, otherwise known as ‘the world’s blackest black’.

From the description, it’s hard to imagine how that would look. And then you see it…

What is Vantablack paint?

Vantablack BMW X6 is the world's blackest car

‘VANTA’ stands for Vertically Aligned Nano Tube Array, and around a billion of these tubes cover every square centimetre of the X6.

It’s a coating that was originally developed for use in space. It’s also useful for observatories, as it effectively cuts out stray light from the sun, allowing a clearer view of far-off planets.

Absorbs nearly 100% of light

Vantablack BMW X6 is the world's blackest car

First developed by Surrey NanoSystems in 2014, the coating was found to absorb up to 99.965 percent of light. It also eliminates reflections, meaning the X6 looks almost two-dimensional.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Vantablack is so black that it effectively creates a void for the human eye. It’s like staring into a black hole. It robs the X6 of all of its styling lines. Potentially the perfect colour for it, then? X6 designer Hussein Al Attar seems to think so.

“The Vantablack VBx2 finish emphasises makes the BMW X6 look particularly menacing. Moreover, the BMW X6 has always been the most provocative and in-your-face model in our portfolio. So why not emphasise this even further, with a finish that simply captivates the viewer’s attention?”

Well suited to the X6

Vantablack BMW X6 is the world's blackest car

It’s very interesting to look at, but not exactly a designer’s dream given that it effectively renders styling lines invisible. Al Attar seems to think that X6 owners would love the chance to paint their car in ‘the world’s blackest black’.

“BMW X6 drivers are among our most extrovert and free-spirited customers. If anyone were to opt for a Vantablack paint option, it would definitely be a BMW X6 driver.”

Vantablack BMW X6 is the world's blackest car

What’s interesting is that Vantablack already has an automotive use, just not necessarily for style. It’s employed to stop sensors on autonomous cars from being corrupted by stray sunlight.

The latest X6 will be on show at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show in September and we sincerely hope this example will be there. A word to the wise: don’t lose yourself staring into it…

 

BMW previews 2021 iNEXT electric SUV development

BMW iNEXT electric SUV

BMW calls the iNEXT its ‘technology flagship’. It will feature BMW’s fifth-generation electric drive unit with the potential for Level 3 autonomous facilities. BMW’s first electric SUV is also expected to have a range of 370 miles when it launches in 2021.

Before that, BMW has to get the car ready for production. The Pilot Plant in its Research and Innovation Centre is currently preparing iNEXT prototypes.

BMW electric SUV

Though prototypes are used to ready the finished cars, this step in the development process is just as important. The early production phase allows them to work out exactly how they want to build it, developing new processes and improving quality.

It’s also important given that the iNEXT will be built alongside internal combustion and hybrid cars.

BMW iNEXT electric SUV

“Preparing a fully electric vehicle for series production is an exciting but challenging task,” said Udo Hänle, head of production integration and pilot plant

“By the time of the official start of production, we will have built as many as 100 prototypes of the BMW iNEXT. Until then, the Pilot Plant will use a range of new innovations to streamline and speed up our processes even further. We are also already preparing our first production associates from Plant Dingolfing to work on the new product.”

BMW iNEXT electric SUV

Even down to the bare bones, BMW is moving things along for the iNEXT. A new technique called rotary bonding is used to join pieces of aluminium and high-strength steel. It’s then checked by a new laser radar quality control system. X-ray tomography then allows them to examine the quality of the assembly without taking the car apart.

Virtual reality is also used to compare physical parts with the CAD (computer-aided design) models.

2019 BMW 3 Series Touring

2019 BMW 3 Series Touring review: loads to like

2019 BMW 3 Series TouringThe BMW 3 Series Touring estate was invented in 1987 by one of the company’s engineers in his spare time. Management liked his work with an angle grinder on a 3 Series saloon and, more than three decades later, 1.7 million sales are testament to his vision. The last version of the 3 Series Touring alone managed 500,000 sales.

This all-new one is no radical revolution. It’s such a popular model in Europe (two in three German 3 Series buyers choose the Touring; in the UK, it’s one in four, or 10,000 cars a year), BMW will never do anything silly.

Instead, it’s built in a surprising amount of sensible features that, were it a Skoda, would fall under the ‘Simply Clever’ moniker. They’re certainly intelligent enough to give BMW an edge in the everyday usability stakes.

2019 BMW 3 Series Touring

The new model is 76mm longer than the old one, taking it beyond 4.7 metres (the size of a 5 Series just a few generations ago). It’s a bit wider, a bit taller, and the wheelbase is longer.

Despite this, it’s no heavier than the old car, and the body is up to 50 percent stiffer in key areas. BMW says this is important for the driving experience; the engineers on the launch seemed to have a refreshing, newfound obsession with this.

Compared to the familiar Mercedes-Benz C-Class estate and dull Audi A4 Avant, the new 3 Series Touring has an appealing, modern appearance. BMW will sell it in SE, Sport, M Sport and M Sport Plus Edition trims in the UK (prices from £35,235 when it arrives in September), and most will be M Sport. Expect to see lots with big wheels and M-style bodykits, looking at its best.

2019 BMW 3 Series Touring

The clever stuff comes inside. Probably too clever by half if you’re looking at the dashboard. Fresh to the 3 Series, I found all the buttons baffling and the twin displays rather overwhelming in information. It’s BMW’s new user interface, called ID7. You can say “Hey BMW” and get it to do stuff via voice activation, but I didn’t master that either. It takes about a week for it to ‘learn you’, I was told. I felt like I needed a week, too.

After the mediocre old car, the interior of the new 3 Series is beautifully finished, all high-end materials and, again, a modern appearance. There’s more space front and back – the rear bench will now accommodate three child seats – and it’s easier to get in and out of.

2019 BMW 3 Series Touring

The boot has grown just five litres, to 500 litres, but it’s much better shaped. And the standard 40:20:40 split rear seats fold flat, expanding it to 1,510 litres. Building the standard electric-operation struts into the roof expands the opening and tidies up the appearance. The separately-opening glass window remains, too.

Clever features abound. The load cover has been split into two, and both pieces are child’s play to remove (anyone who’s struggled with the fiddly, heavy device of older models will welcome this). There’s also now somewhere to store it inside the car, with both pieces slotting into a space beneath the boot floor. Hurrah.

Buyers can option remote seat-release buttons, for easy fold-flat operation. The rear window is wider, and an expanded rear-view mirror makes the most of this, giving a panoramic view rearwards, even partly into the side windows. 

2019 BMW 3 Series Touring

There’s something ingenioushere, too: non-slip rails in the boot floor. They’re optional, and comprise a steel rail with a rubber section in the middle. Boot open, you can load things easily: close it and the centre rubber section raises slightly, holding whatever’s on top of it tightly in place. Brilliant. 3 Series Touring project leader Elke Sonak told me she tried it by placing her iPad on it, then going for a fast drive. “It didn’t move.”

So it’s a pleasure to live with, and peerless for practicality in its class. To drive? Most will, still, be diesel, with the 318d and 320d taking the bulk of sales. There’s a 320i and 330i for those fully out of love with diesel, and a wonderful-sounding M340i xDrive coming later.

At launch, though, BMW lavished us with the 330d xDrive, a six-cylinder diesel with 265hp, 0-62 mph in 5.4 seconds, and fuel economy of 50.4-52.3 mpg.

2019 BMW 3 Series Touring

It’s a beautiful engine. BMW has tuned out the roughness of the old car, but kept the classic six-cylinder hum and harmony.

At a cruise, it stays silent, and it’s effortlessly soothing and powerful. A genuine continent-crusher. Diesel still has a place in cars like this; if you really don’t agree, the first 3 Series Touring plug-in hybrid comes next year.

2019 BMW 3 Series Touring

Of course, it drives immaculately, too. The ride is poised and comfortable, steering ultra-crisp and precise, handling engaging and entertaining. It’s a feel-good car even those with little interest in cars will find rewarding and satisfying. Not only is it more capacious and better value than a comparable SUV, it’s simply nicer to drive.

BMW has successfully transferred its 3 Series saloon market leadership into the estate car sector. Not bad for an idea that started, all those years ago, as an after-hours project in a secret shed in Munich.

2019 BMW 3 Series: in pictures