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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.

Generation game: Two of the best BMW M3s are up for grabs

BMW M3 CCA

Two of the very best generations of the BMW M3 will be competing for bidder’s bucks at the upcoming Classic Car Auctions May 2019 sale.

First, there’s an original E30 BMW M3. This is BMW’s iconic homologation wonder that kicked off our infatuation with the performance saloon.

Second, the E46 that perfected the formula in the early 2000s. It is considered the generation that’s the sweet spot in terms of power, weight and driving fun.

1990 BMW E30 M3

BMW E30 M3 engine

The original M3 was conceived as a homologation special for the Group A touring car. With its high-revving four-cylinder engine, fettled suspension and notchy manual transmission, it’s the genesis moment for the sporty saloon with presence, status and performance.

This M3 is a high-mile left-hand drive example. It’s got 120,000 miles but has service history and maintenance work to match. Its three owners, including the original who ordered it from Germany, have looked after it as much as they’ve used it. That makes this E30 a rare thing – one that isn’t a garage queen, that you can enjoy driving with a clear conscience.

Another benefit of high miles is that it’s probably a bit more within reach than a lower-use car. £34,000-£38,000 sounds like steep money, but in original M3 world, that’s not bad. Get yourself a great driver’s M3 come the sale on May 25.

2003 BMW E46 M3

BMW M3 CCA

The M3 of the early 2000s refined the inline-six formula that began with the second-generation car in the 1990s. It’s a melting pot of the finest components – one of the sweetest singing six-pots ever manufactured, great looks, a sorted chassis and just a touch of luxury. The M3 completed its transformation into a status symbol with the E46, without sacrificing any of the quintessentially sweet M3 proportions and dynamics.

This E46 is perhaps the opposite of the E30 above, in that it’s a low-miles one-owner museum piece. Finished in the controversial Phoenix Yellow hue, it could be a period catalogue come to life. Original books, service stamps come with this manual example, for between £24,000 and £28,000. That may seem tall but this generation of BMW M3s is on its way up, as numbers diminish and many of those that remain grow ever more tired.

Other highlight young timers at the Classic Car Auctions May sale include a well-kept and reasonably used example the legendary Lotus Carlton, and perhaps the most unloved 911 Turbo – a 996 Cabriolet with the tiptronic gearbox.

BMW is going to Coachella festival with art-covered i8s

BMW Coachella

For the third year in a row, BMW has collaborated with the popular Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival to promote its ‘i’ brand, and the results are… interesting. Behold, the latest BMW art cars!

Okay, they’re not quite Warhol specials but they’re certainly befitting of the festival. The marque will be partnering with Coachella headliner Khalid for the collaboration, with the artwork for his new album ‘Free Spirit’ inspiring the look of the i8s.

BMW Coachella

“I love road-tripping, hopping in my car, and driving back home to El Paso is 12 hours each way from LA,” said Khalid.

“To me, BMW, especially BMW i8, is the embodiment of freedom on the road.”

A ‘Pit Stop’ is planned by BMW and Khalid for fans to be able to pick up exclusive merchandise, grab a bite to eat and listen to music. The installation will be based at BMW Palm Springs, which will be ‘transformed into a must-see fan experience away from the festival site’.

BMW i8

Joining Khalid on BMW’s #roadtocoachella campaign will be celebrities Paris Hilton, Lena Gercke, Laura Marano and ‘other influencers’.

If your eyebrow is raised right now, what do the Californian youth love as much as art, music festivals, beanbag startups and influencers? That’s right, electric cars

BMW i8

The ‘creative design interpretation of BMW i electric vehicles’ allegedly ‘reflects the special, diverse spirit of the festival’. In fairness, it’s not the first time BMW has fraternised with successful musicians. Who remembers Madonna’s BMW M5 joyride?

“The variety of live concerts at Coachella Festival is a great playground for creativity,” said Stefan Ponikva, head of BMW brand experience shows and events.

BMW Coachella

“At Coachella, the internationally most famous stars of the industry meet the most enthusiastic audience. Innovation and inspiration are the values that BMW i shares with the iconic festival, making it an ideal partner.”

Coachella 2019 opens this weekend (April 12th) and carries through to the April 21st.

Opinion: The BMW i-setta is this year’s April Fools joke I wish was real

BMW i-setta April fools

BMW has won April fools this year, at least in my opinion – not with the funniest joke, but with the coolest car I oh so wish was real. Wait, is it real? Pretty please, BMW?

It’s the BMW i-Setta – a modern electric-powered play on the original BMW Isetta micro car.

And what a play it is. i-setta… That’s brilliant!

It’s quite clearly a prank, judging by BMW’s Facebook post. Alongside a rendering of a lovely modern interpretation of the famous microcar, including i3 wheels, there is a large splurge of jargon-filled text, seemingly satirising similar splurges that come out with actual cars referring to fuel consumption and CO2 figures.

“The CO2 efficiency specifications are determined according to Directive 1916/E30/DACES and the European Regulation in its current version applicable. Ever wondered, if someone really reads all the text.”

The above is an excerpt I found a few lines down… but let’s consider the i-setta for real, shall we? It’s not like reviving old-style and wrapping it around new tech is a bad idea. Just look at the Honda Urban EV, now the Honda E Prototype. Something like this with 100 miles of range and a sub-£20k price tag could be great for urban drivers.

BMW isetta April Fools

But what do I love best about the i-setta, besides pretty much everything about it? There’s not an over-sized kidney anywhere to be seen. Or indeed, an obscenely large grille, period. Indeed, the most-liked comment on the post states: “Easy to spot the prank, it doesn’t have the huge grille!”

Another said “Build it! Don’t joke, it’s way more stylish than a lot of cars available…”

Well, BMW? You heard the man!

BMW M2 Competition

Are these the best BMW M cars of all time?

M cars BMW

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 marque is soon to be back on form with a flagship 600hp+ M8. It could be one of the all-time great M cars.

M cars BMW

Selecting the best M cars ever built is a little like choosing the best Beatles song. To make things a little easier, we’ve created a list of 25, although we appreciate that some people might opt for a different group of legends. Read on to discover what made our shortlist. Oh, and the best Beatles song is ‘A Day in the Life’. Probably.

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 M2 Competition

BMW M2 Competition

All of which means that you could save money by ‘investing’ in a brand new BMW M2 Competition. When we drove the original M2 we came away with the view that it’s the best new M car you can buy, a continuation of a bloodline that includes the 1 Series M Coupe, E46 M3 and E30 M3.

The Competition is even better, with a heart transplant courtesy of big brother M4 and revised suspension calibration and diff software. In all it’s the ultimate version of one of the great M cars of the last 20 years.

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.

The BMW X4 M could be hiding the next M3’s heart

BMW X4 X3 M M3

BMW has revealed M-fettled versions of its X3 and X4 SUVs, sporting big-power turbocharged six-pot engines. You’d imagine they might borrow their engines from the outgoing M3 and M4 models. Looking at the figures, this is not the case…

The first point to note is that they are available in Competition specification straight out of the box. The X3 M Competition and X4 M Competition are day one releases. The usual M car fare of strengthened chassis, powerful engine, tuned suspension and big brakes are joined by lightweight Competition 21-inch alloy wheels.

BMW X4 X3 M M3

Looks wise, we’re in controversial waters. While muscular, neither can be described as a thoroughbred M car. There’s every suggestion in the swollen bodywork and gaping vents that serious power hides within. Out back, the exhaust arrangement is telling of what generation M car you’re dealing with. It looks much more like the subtle setup on the new M5 than the more central setup on the outgoing M3.

BMW X4 X3 M M3

Inside, there’s a lot to love from the latest and greatest M models, and a lot we wish had carried over from the newest BMWs. The instrument binnacle is a touch last-gen compared to what’s been seen in some other of the very latest BMWs. The M5’s red flashes, including M buttons on the wheel, do carry over.

In terms of performance, you’ll get to 62mph in 4.1 seconds if you pin it in your X3 M or X4 M, before going on to a top speed of 155mph, or 174mph with the M Driver’s Package.

The heart of the next M3?

BMW X4 X3 M M3

Our suspicions really peaked when we saw the power figures. The 3.0-litre Twin-Power turbo straight-six in the X3 M and X4 M Competition models produces 510hp (no mention of the fancy water injection system) and 600Nm of torque.

By comparison, the hopped-up M3 CS produces a mere 460hp, though torque is the same. It’s still up on the outgoing M3 and M4 Competition models on both counts, mind…

What is interesting is that in the X3 and X4 application it revs lower. A redline of 7,300rpm is 300 lower than the original 2013 M3’s 7,600rpm top-end that was played up as ‘unusually high for a turbo motor’.

BMW X4 X3 M M3

Furthermore, BMW is no stranger to previewing the power plants of ‘proper’ M models in its SUVs. The X5 M and X6 M of 2010 featured a very similar twin-turbo V8 that would eventually find its way into the M5 and M6 of subsequent years.

We’re betting on a 520hp+ variant of this updated M six-pot appearing in the next M3 and M4…

New Alpina B7 xDrive – the 600hp BMW M7 we’ll never have

Alpina B7 BMW 7 Series

Based on BMW’s flagship 7 Series, the B7 is the latest super saloon from performance, style and racing wizards, Alpina. It’s also the closest thing to an M7 we’re likely to see.

M-onster power

Alpina B7 BMW 7 Series

Under the bonnet is a 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 with 600hp and 590lb ft of torque. For the uninitiated, those are M5 numbers and then some.

This sumptuous luxury saloon can reach 60mph from a standstill in 3.5 seconds and, if you keep the pedal pressed, sail on to a top speed of 205mph. Super saloons don’t get much swifter.

Keeping all that performance under control is an epic braking system, comprised of four-piston front calipers pinching 394mm discs. At the rear, floating calipers work with 398mm discs.

The B7 is four-wheel drive (xDrive) only, while Alpina Sport Chassis settings drop the car by 15mm.

Bahnstormer style

Alpina B7 BMW 7 Series

BMW has had a grilling (ha ha) from commenters about the snout of the new 7 Series. Even Alpina couldn’t entirely distract us from that chrome muzzle, but it’s a good effort. Nothing says ‘understated performance’ like those classic multi-spoke wheels, now in 20- and 21-inch sizes.

Your best clue to this car’s latent potential is found at the back. Four distinctive exhaust tips, nicely integrated into the big 7’s bumper, mark it out as Alpina-fettled. A V8 howl comes as standard.

Cabin fever

Alpina B7 BMW 7 Series

One area the updated 7 is absolutely an improvement over the outgoing car is inside. Subtle updates include a digital dashboard, new steering wheel and different trim options. With a dusting of Alpina magic, expect some contrast stitching to go with your Nappa leather.

As ever, the Alpina touch is as subtle as it is sexy. Under the skin, though, lies a monster that could show up most M cars. Don’t like the new grille? Just as well, given you’ll only see the back of the B7 as it blasts past.

In the USA, expect $305 change from $143,000 after your $995 destination charge. As to whether the B7 will make its way to the UK, we await confirmation…

The BMW M850i Night Sky is trimmed with star dust

BMW M850i Night Sky

All the way back in the year 2000, S Club 7 told kids to ‘reach for the stars’. More than 18 years later, BMW has listened. Meet the new M850i Night Sky edition.

BMW M850i Night Sky

OK, BMW hasn’t turned its new flagship coupe into an interstellar vehicle. It’s not that fast. But it is quite a peculiar special edition, even among the pantheon of one-off specials.

What is the M850i Night Sky?

BMW M850i Night Sky

First and foremost, it’s the best version of the new 8 Series – BMW’s all-singing, all-dancing flagship coupe. The ‘Night Sky’ bit includes controls made from, in BMW’s words, ‘meteoritic material’. 

BMW M850i Night Sky

That means some of the dials in this out-of-this-world 8er are made from materials that came from a galaxy far far away, and somehow made it through our atmosphere. The start/stop button for the V8, the whole of the centre console’s trim plate, the gear selector, the iDrive multimedia controller and the inlays in the sills are all trimmed as such.

Meanwhile, on the centre console, a star-studded sky is depicted with lights in the leather, reflecting ‘human fascination with the infinite vastness of the universe’.

BMW M850i Night Sky

Across the car, including on the trims and some exterior pieces, the ‘Widmanstätten’ pattern is recognisably extraterrestrial. It’s a geometric effect that only forms naturally outside of our atmosphere, in the extreme conditions of space.

BMW M850i Night Sky

Appearing like ice crystals, it only becomes visible when certain types of iron meteorite are polished or brought into contact with acidic compounds. A slow process of cooling metal alloy is how it occurs in space, and this cannot be replicated on Earth.

BMW M850i Night Sky

In addition, there are new 3D-printed brake calipers. While a very aerospace method of manufacturing, we don’t think the actual caliper materials were harvested from an unsuspecting meteorite.

Why make the M850i Night Sky?

BMW M850i Night Sky

It’s a good question. We won’t argue with abstract specials for the sake of it, but the star-studded Beemer does have a purpose. Tonight, January 3 2019, Earth will be passing through the orbit of asteroid ‘2003 EH’. The result of which should be a fairly spectacular night sky, streaked with sizzling space debris.

BMW M850i Night Sky

You never know, some of it might fall to Earth and become a part of a tenuous motor car. After all, that meteoritic trim is definitely more interesting than a finger-print-splattered slice of piano black plastic.

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