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Electric BMW i3 gets extra attitude from AC Schnitzer

AC Schnitzer BMW i3S

The i3 is perhaps the least sporty car BMW makes. However, that hasn’t stopped famous BMW modifiers AC Schnitzer from endowing the i3S electric model with a bit more attitude.

 

AC Schnitzer BMW i3S

The i3S is a sturdy looking thing, if a little lacking in aggression. AC Schnitzer has addressed that, with a rear spoiler, 20mm lower suspension and a front splitter.

The alloy wheels have also been pushed out of the arches by 12mm spacers.

AC Schnitzer BMW i3S

Relatively minor mods they may be, but the results are noticeable. This is the meanest looking BMW i3 we’ve seen.

The aerodynamic tweaks improve downforce, while the addition of the spacers increases lateral support and driving stability. The lower suspension is likely to be stiffer, but better in terms of resisting body-roll.

AC Schnitzer BMW i3S

Naturally, there are plenty of AC Schnitzer emblems to remind people your i3 is a bit more special, too both inside and out. 

AC Schnitzer has been modifying BMWs for more than 30 years, and is linked to the Schnitzer racing team.

This BMW X7 is the premium pick-up we deserve

BMW X7 Pick-up

BMW is the latest car manufacturer to climb aboard the pick-up bandwagon with the launch of the X7 Pick-up.

But while you can buy a premium pick-up from German rivals Mercedes-Benz, the vehicle based on the X7 SUV is a one-off… for now.

It’s also 100 percent BMW – there’s not a hint of platform-sharing to be found here.

The X7 Pick-up was unveiled at this year’s BMW Motorrad Days event in Garmisch-Partenkirchen – because not everybody heads to the Goodwood Festival of Hashtags – and was created by a group of vocational trainees with the support of the concept vehicles and technology departments in Munich.

Using a BMW X7 xDrive40i as a base, the team spent 10 months creating the road-legal truck, which boasts seating for five and a Tanzanite Blue paint job inspired by the boating world.

The length of the teak-wood floor varies from 140cm (closed) to 200cm (open), while the use of carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) means the pick-up is 200kg lighter than a standard X7, despite boasting a 10cm longer body.

Ain’t no mountain high enough

BMW X7 Pick-up concept

Milagros Caiña-Andree, member of the board for human resources at BMW, said: “I am pleased about the synergies between BMW Group Vocational Training, Concept Vehicle Construction and Model Technology, allowing these young talents to prove their abilities with such an extraordinary project.”

According to BMW, the trainees plan to “go for a spin in the BMW X7 Pick-up after its premiere or even take it for a trip to the mountains”.

We think it’s one of the coolest pick-ups of the modern era and there would be no shortage of takers if BMW decided to put it into production.

Have a look at the photos and decide for yourself. Curiously, there are no images of the front. Could this be linked to the lukewarm reaction to some of BMW’s latest designs?

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For sale: one of the coolest BMWs ever made

Alpina B12 BMW 7 Series

If the new BMW M Vision NEXT concept is a bit too Hunger Games for you, we feel your pain. Fortunately, one of the coolest BMWs ever made, an Alpina B12, could be yours instead. 

The B12 is the juiciest and rarest version of the Alpina-fettled E38 7 Series, one of the best-looking luxury saloons of all time. Only 50 were made in the long-wheelbase format.

Alpina B12 BMW 7 Series

Longer and sleeker than the already great-looking E39 BMW 5 Series, the E38 was also James Bond’s car of choice in Tomorrow Never Dies.

Why an Alpina, not a BMW?

Alpina B12 BMW 7 Series

For starters, it packs a mighty 5.7-litre V12 that’s not entirely unrelated to the one in the McLaren F1 hypercar.

With more than 380hp, it’ll get to 62mph in 6.5 seconds and top out at 174mph. That’s good performance at the ripe old age of 21.

What’s the Alpina B12 like?

Alpina B12 BMW 7 Series

Presented in Alpina Blue, this B12 carries all the tropes of an Alpina BMW. The decals, the alloy wheels, the exhausts: all are classic additions from the company’s playbook.

This is number 44 of the 50 made. It spent the first few years of its life in Germany before being exported to Japan.

It’s now done 50,637 miles and is completely original and rust-free, plus it comes with a healthy book of receipts. That’s not to say a brave pill won’t be required. This is a late-90s German luxury car, after all.

B12 BMW 7 Series

It’s due an MOT in August of this year, and both the front lower suspension ball joints will need their rubber seals done. However, as far as we know, that’s all it needs.

On the inside, it’s as you’d expect: wood, black leather, lots of buttons and a tiny screen by today’s standards. It looked quite impressive back in 1998, though.

I’m sold. How much is it?

At the time of writing, this B12 is teetering on the edge of £10,000. That’s a lot of car for the same price as a fairly aged Mk6 Golf GTI.

However, it will climb from there, given the auction still has five days to go. Similar cars recently made more than £40,000 in RM’s ‘Youngtimer’ sale.

Hans Zimmer to help fast electric BMWs sound good

Hans Zimmer working with BMW on electric car sounds

Hans Zimmer is the man responsible for the soundtrack to many cinema smash hits, including Batman, Superman, Sherlock Holmes and X-Men. Now, he’s collaborating with BMW to give its upcoming performance-oriented electric cars a voice.

BMW IconicSounds Electric: composing performance car vocals

Hans Zimmer working with BMW on electric car sounds

BMW has a very important concept car coming out soon. It will premiere tomorrow (June 25) at BMW’s NEXTGen event. It’s called the BMW Vision M NEXT and is likely to preview a future of electric BMW M cars.

When you have performance without noise, from a car wearing a badge so often associated with many of the great automotive soundtracks, it needs to have a voice. That’s why you hire one of the most revered cinematic composers of this and any other generation.

It’s a pairing that makes a lot of sense. An M car should be a dramatic event. Just as the world’s most famous superheroes coming to blows on the big screen is an event.

Zimmer himself associates a certain sound with BMWs: “As a kid, I used to recognise my mother coming home by the sound of her BMW,” he said.

Hans Zimmer working with BMW on electric car sounds

“I am thrilled to get the chance to design the sound of future electric BMW’s and create emotion for the future electric driving experience.”

The goal is for this new generation of performance cars to have an emotive sound. A sound that’s as textured as the mechanicals of BMWs of old. BMW wants to bridge the emotional gap with electric cars, given they have no sound, acknowledging there’s an ‘alienation between driver and vehicle’ as a result of electric cars not having that key emotional touchpoint.

“We want to get BMW IconicSounds Electric in position for customers who value emotional sound. With BMW IconicSounds Electric they will be able to experience the joy of driving with all their senses”, said Jens Thiemer, senior vice president BMW Brand.

“The sound of the BMW Vision M NEXT gives a glimpse into the future of BMW IconicSounds Electric.”

Zimmer has been working together with BMW’s own acoustic and sound engineer, Renzo Vitale, on the project.

Hans Zimmer working with BMW on electric car sounds

“When the driver interacts with the accelerator pedal it is not only a mechanical touchpoint but also a performative element, Zimmer follows.

“Accelerating becomes an experience during which the driver moves through a series of gradually morphing sound textures.”

The future of performance driving doesn’t sound so silent, or boring, after all.

Rare 1-of-50 BMW M3 GT leads big-bucks auction list

BMW M cars for sale at CCA August auction

A selection of rare BMW M cars will be hitting the blocks at the Classic Car Auction (CCA) August sale in Warwickshire. The M3 GT Individual, Z3 M Coupe and 325i Sport M-Tech are three of a diverse list of cars up for auction.

1995 E36 BMW M3 GT Individual

BMW M cars for sale at CCA August auction

This is a treat. It’s much derided, but the E36 gave the M3 the six-cylinder engine. The M3 GT Individual is a 50-off special edition, and this British Racing Green example is number 40.

An extensive history file and the original build sheet make this a rather complete buy. The only question mark is the mileage. Will 104,600 on the clock make this very special M3 attainable? Not quite: how does £20,000-£25,000 sound?

2001 BMW Z3 M Coupe RHD

BMW M cars for sale at CCA August auction

The Z3 M Coupe is a dark horse. It didn’t get much love when it was new, but a cult following for the M-powered ‘bread van’ has developed in recent years.

This car, presented in Sapphire Black Metallic, has done 62,900 miles. This 2001 S54-equipped right-hand-drive manual has been with its current owner for the last nine years and comes with its original build sheet and a fresh MOT.

Again, a healthily populated odometer doesn’t hold this car back from a heady estimated value. It’ll set you back between £35,000 and £40,000.

1987 E30 BMW 325i Sport M-Tech 1

BMW M cars for sale at CCA August auction

This is, without doubt, the most obscure of this M-fettled trio. The Sport M-Tech was a six-cylinder, two-door 3-Series designed to be the substitute for a right-hand-drive M3 that wasn’t available at the time. Though the M3 catches all the headlines, the 325i Sport is loved by those in the know for its sonorous six-pot.

This M-Tech 1 has sportier styling and comes in Lacks Silver. It makes the other two cars look leggy, too, with just 47,000 miles on the clock. It comes with a strong history file and is very well-kept. Yours for between £22,000 and £26,000…

“These are three fantastic cars to kick start our August sale catalogue,” said Gary Dunne, Classic Car Auctions auction manager.

“We recently sold a similar 325i Sport earlier this year for an excellent price and these cars make a great purchase as the M3s become rarer.”

The CCA August Classic Car Sale takes place on 3 August 2019 at the Warwickshire Event Centre near Leamington Spa.

Jaguar I-Pace green icon

Jaguar Land Rover and BMW to team up on EV tech

Jaguar I-Pace green iconBMW and Jaguar Land Rover are to co-develop next-generation electric motors and drive systems, the two firms have revealed in a surprise announcement.

A joint engineering team will develop the new Electric Drive Units (EDUs) and they will be built in each firm’s manufacturing facilities – including the JLR Engine Manufacturing Centre in Wolverhampton.

The companies will concentrate on developing the motors “to deliver the specific characteristics required for their respective range of products”. The joint team will be based in Munich.

BMW i3S

JLR engineering director Nick Rogers revealed the partnership with BMW Group will help the British firm rise to the challenge of taking electric cars mainstream.

“We’ve proven we can build world-beating electric cars, but now we need to scale the technology to support the next generation of Jaguar and Land Rover products.

“It was clear from discussions with BMW Group that both companies’ requirements for next generation EDUs to support this transition have significant overlap making for a mutually beneficial collaboration.”

BMW iX3

In a statement, BMW said its fifth generation eDrive system, dubbed ‘Gen 5’, will be launched in the BMW iX3 electric car (pictured above in concept form).

“The Gen 5 electric drive unit will be the propulsion system upon which subsequent evolutions launched together with Jaguar Land Rover will be based.”

By working together, the two firms will benefit from shared R&D and production planning costs, as well as economies of scale in buying components from suppliers.  

“Together, we have the opportunity to cater more effectively for customer needs by shortening development time and bringing vehicles and state-of-the-art technologies more rapidly to market,” said BWM board member for development, Klaus Frohlich.

Last rear-drive BMW M140i bows out for just £449 upfront

BMW 1 Series deals

As the new BMW 1 Series makes its debut, dealers will be looking to shift stock of the outgoing model. And that means some excellent deals.

The new car swaps a rear-wheel-drive platform for either front-wheel drive or xDrive all-wheel drive. That makes the distinctive outgoing car an even more tantalising prospect, especially for keen drivers.

BMW 1 Series deals

Whether you’re in 118i territory, or after the M140i hot hatch, there’s likely a bargain for you. Starting with the hero car, you can get one for less than £500 down…

On BMW’s Select PCP program, we saw a deal for the M140i Shadow Edition, with the upgrade package paid for by BMW. It only requires a three-figure deposit – or, to be exact, one month’s payment of £449. There’s a deposit contribution from BMW of £7,510.

Admittedly, £449 a month for four years is still significant, but if you’re in the market to get something quick, and do so quickly, you can’t argue with that upfront cost.BMW 1 Series deals

Compare that to the also good-value 118i M-Sport Shadow Edition deal, upgrade again courtesy of BMW, that you pay a £4,849 deposit for.

BMW basically goes halves on the deposit, contributing another £4,726. And while that’s still adecent deal, you can’t get away from that M140i steal.

If you want a classic rear-wheel-drive 1er, though, you’d better act fast.

BMW M5 turns 35 with ‘Edition 35 Years’ special

BMW M5 Edition 35 years

The BMW M5 is turning 35 this year and the marque is celebrating with the new 350-off Edition 35 Years special.

The Edition 35 Years is based on the monstrous 625hp M5 Competition and adds Frozen Dark Grey metallic paint, as well as various BMW Individual fittings. The new 20-inch Y-spoke M light alloy wheels are presented in Graphite Grey, too. The brake callipers are black to complement the wheels and paint, although if you get the optional ceramic brakes, they can come in gold.

BMW M5 Edition 35 years

The subtle upgrades continue on the inside, with aluminium carbon structure gold anodised finishers. That’s one of those finishes that you can’t quite imagine the look of until you see it. There’s nothing quite like it in use in any other car, is there? They join BMW Individual Merino leather in black with beige seams for added contrast.

Naturally, a smattering of ‘M5 Edition 35 Jahre’ badges, inscriptions and finishers can be found, too. Your specific Edition 35 Years will even get its own numbered engraving on the cupholder cover. We’ll take ‘M5 Edition 35 Jahre 35/350, if you please.

BMW M5 Edition 35 years

As it’s based on the Competition Package, the Edition 35 Years should crack 62mph in 3.3 seconds and 120mph in under 11 seconds.

35 years of the M5

BMW M5 Edition 35 years

Such a special edition almost feels redundant, given that the heritage of the M5 speaks for itself. Over six generations, the M5 has evolved from nimble six-pot sports saloon, to V8 drift machine, to V10 hot rod, to Bahn-storming turbo-touting supercar destroyer.

Rarely has it been toppled as king of the large executive sports saloons.

BMW M5 Edition 35 years

The likes of Mercedes-AMG and Audi Sport (formerly Quattro) have never quite balanced muscle, tractability, daily ability and fun quite like the M5.

And although the fifth-generation was derided for its move to turbocharging, the latest sixth-generation model is seen as a return to form for the model. It’s the first xDrive all-wheel-drive M5, but you can activate ‘drift mode’ and kill drive to the fronts, for some classic smokey M5 action.

BMW i8 Roadster is world’s first open cockpit safety car

New BMW i8 Roadster safety car

The new BMW i8 Roadster unveiled at the Monaco E-Prix for the Formula E championship is the world’s first open cockpit safety car.

BMW says no major modifications were necessary, but as is obvious from the photos, the i8 Roadster is not what you’d call stock.

For a start, the windscreen is shorter than the production model, while the rear wing creates a spectacle, even in the glamorous surroundings of Monte Carlo.

BMW i8 Roadster safety car Monaco

A centre of gravity 15 millimetres lower than the standard i8 Roadster, M carbon ceramic brakes, an FIA-approved roll bar and a front splitter complete the makeover, creating what BMW calls ‘the perfect basis for a safety car’.

The usual safety car kit includes a light bar above the rear wing, a communication and GPS antennas, a comms system in the cockpit, and a rear-view camera.

The overall effect is something that wouldn’t look out of place in a Hot Wheels blister pack, thanks in part to a livery that combines blue, purple, orange and green. You can decide whether or not the end result is a success. It certainly stands out, which is kind of the point of a safety car… 

BMW i8 Roadster safety car

Formula E founder and CEO Alejandro Agag said: “The BMW i8 Roadster safety car has a striking design – something which differentiates it from anything we’ve seen before, and what better setting for its presentation than at the Monaco E-Prix.

“BMW has been a partner since the inaugural season, and their continued support as a vehicle partner and now as a team shows their commitment to electric mobility.”

Jean-Eric Vergne won the Monaco E-Prix and now tops the Formula E drivers’ championship. The next race takes place in Berlin on 25 May.

Mercedes GLS and BMW X7: Germany’s 2019 super SUVs

BMW X7 Mercedes GLS

As of this year’s New York Auto Show, Mercedes’ long-serving GLS (formerly GL) has finally been replaced. The new car is a proper, pucker truck of an SUV to head up Merc’s high-rider lineup. This pretender to Range Rover supremacy borrows luxury from the S-Class and is looking to square up to BMW’s all-new X7 flagship SUV. Let’s explore these German supertankers side by side.

‘The S-Class of SUVs’

BMW X7 Mercedes GLS

Mercedes is calling the new GLS ‘The S-Class of SUVs’. A bold statement, but then again, size, height and road presence are luxuries the Range Rover had a monopoly on for many years. The X7 has joined the fray, sharing a nomenclature with BMW’s large luxury saloon; and now, the GLS is back and more plush than ever.

BMW X7 styling

BMW X7 Mercedes GLS

The X7, along with a few other new BMWs, has taken a bit of heat for its styling. While its enormity and boxy proportions are challenging for some, it’s those monstrous buck teeth that have got everyone talking. The swollen kidneys are difficult to get past, but once you do, the bulbous and boxy X7 wears all the hallmarks of contemporary BMW styling rather well. It’s imposing, if not traditionally appealing. Those slim lights add road presence and a whiff of aggression, while the brightwork and big wheels (not to mention the size of it) let you know this is the leader for Bavaria’s high-rise range.

Mercedes GLS styling

BMW X7 Mercedes GLS

The GLS is easier on the eye, mostly because there’s no stand-out feature to offend. With its ‘Sensual Purity’ design language, it’s a bit more curvaceous and aerodynamic-looking than the decidedly boxy X7. Muscular wheel arches and ‘power bulges’ on the bonnet give every GLS more than a whiff of go-faster pretence. Distinctive Mercedes lighting is diminutive by comparison to the GLS’s size but is attractive all the same. Like the X7, the GLS is flush with chrome work and big wheels, and at the back, recessed exhaust outlets keep the look clean.

BMW X7 interior

BMW X7 Mercedes GLS

It’s here the big Merc eeks out a lead over the Beemer, we’d hazard to say. To appearances, it’s a far more high-end and luxurious place to be. The X7 just feels a touch grey and derivative, save for the optional diamond-stitched seats. Yes, it’s generously equipped and well-put-together but it’s lacking in style, where the Mercedes has it in spades. It does match the GLS in terms of luxurious seating, though. Both are available with individual ‘captain’s chairs’ in the middle row.

Mercedes GLS interior

BMW X7 Mercedes GLS

The GLS, has a stunning cabin as standard and will no doubt be loaded with tech, making it a legitimate alternative to the S-Class if you can’t wait for the next-generation model. The 12.3-inch high-resolution screens house the very latest MBUX operating system and integrate nicely into the cabin’s facia. MBUX also creeps into the rear entertainment systems, too. While it’s already a lovely place, the rumoured Maybach variant can only take the levels of luxury into the stratosphere.

BMW X7 space and practicality

BMW X7 Mercedes GLS

The X7 holds firm against the GLS in terms of practicality. It too has fully electrically controllable seats across all three rows. It too offers either a seven-seat with a middle bench or a ‘captain’s chairs’ option. It too can boast a hefty boot size, though not up there with the big Benz. A maximum of 2,120 litres falters in the face of the Merc’s 2,400. It also has a slightly shorter wheelbase than the Merc, with 3,105 losing out by 30mm to the GLS’s 3,135mm. Odd to consider the X7 ‘compact’ in this comparison.

Mercedes GLS space and practicality

BMW X7 Mercedes GLS

A stunningly appointed cabin is also a lot more spacious than the previous GLS. This, thanks to a 60mm longer wheelbase and 22mm of extra width. That means there’s a lot more space for passengers, both in the middle and in the third row. Legroom is increased in the second row by 87mm. All the seats are electrically movable, too, while the boot has a maximum of 2,400 litres of space with the seats folded flat. Truthfully, you won’t suffer for space in either of these cars.

BMW X7 engines

BMW X7 Mercedes GLS

The BMW has a very strong lineup of engines. In the UK, they’re all six-pots, with two diesels and a single petrol. The 265hp 3.0-litre diesel opens up the range, while a 340hp petrol sits in the middle. The kicker though, that’s going to give Mercedes a hard time, is the M50d diesel. This quad-turbo diesel monster produces 400hp while also delivering over 40mpg. No, the BMW’s engine range doesn’t feature clever hybrid tech, but that diesel is a class act. No word yet on if we’ll be getting a proper X7 M, though. We use ‘proper’ very lightly…

Mercedes GLS engines

BMW X7 Mercedes

Big busses need muscular powerplants and the Mercedes has no intention of sending the GLS into battle short-handed. That’s why every petrol engine available in the GLS will come with Mercedes’s clever integrated starter and EQ tech. That means both the 489hp V8 and the 367hp straight-six come with a 48-volt system that shortens the engine’s overhangs and boosts power by up to 22hp for short periods. The six-pot is, unfortunately, not coming to the EU. Conventional diesels ought to appeal more to us Brits. Both 286hp and 330hp versions of the OM 656 six-cylinder will be available. We fully expect more extensively hybridised variants to join in time, as well as a snorting GLS 63 AMG performance version.

BMW X7 technology

BMW X7 Mercedes

BMW are never ones to shy away from loading a car with technology. The X7, being its biggest and most luxurious offering, in tandem with the 7 Series, gets the latest and best. Heavy-hitting partial autonomous drive, BMW’s very latest interior operating system, otherwise known as BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, comes as standard. Pretty much all the toys you could get your hands on in the Mercedes are optionable in the BMW.

Mercedes GLS technology

BMW X7 Mercedes

A pre-requisite for any pretender to S-Class status is a heavy-duty arsenal of technology. Luckily, this pretender comes from within Mercedes itself. The GLS comes loaded with amazing tech, including fully electric seating – yes, for all seven seats – and a ‘car wash mode’. That makes getting this considerably sizeable machine clean easier for driver and car wash attendants alike. Naturally, GLS also comes loaded with autonomous tech. The adaptive cruise control can read road signs and adapt to traffic conditions based on data from the sat-nav. The mild hybrid tech deployed on the petrol engines is revolutionary, too. Clever stuff!

Price

BMW X7 Mercedes

This will be a strong point of contention between these cars. Nevertheless, you can almost guarantee that they both undercut the Range Rover by a decent amount. You can have an X7 from £72,000 for the entry-level diesel, going up to £74,000 for the mid-range petrol. The big-banger M50d will set you back £87,000. Expect the Mercedes to follow these prices closely and perhaps be a touch more expensive.