The Truth About Cars » BMW http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 31 Oct 2014 19:42:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » BMW http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/bmw/ Spotlight Shines Brighter On Takata Airbag Failures http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/spotlight-shines-brighter-takata-airbag-failures/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/spotlight-shines-brighter-takata-airbag-failures/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=938913 Investigators unearth more reports of deaths and injuries linked to catastrophic detonations of Takata’s airbags; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sets a deadline for the supplier to submit related documents; and attorneys urge a U.S. district judge to act quickly on a class action against Takata and four of its client automakers. Automotive News […]

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Investigators unearth more reports of deaths and injuries linked to catastrophic detonations of Takata’s airbags; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sets a deadline for the supplier to submit related documents; and attorneys urge a U.S. district judge to act quickly on a class action against Takata and four of its client automakers.

Automotive News reports a number of cases linked to Takata airbags are coming to the surface as investigators begin their probes into the supplier. A common thread through the cases — such as an incident in Atlanta that left a woman with a speech disorder, as well as caused a number of strokes and one seizure, as a result of a piece of shrapnel from the unit slicing through her carotid artery — is settlement. Most of the cases are being settled out-of-court, just before prosecutors can gather the evidence needed to go after Takata, and just before such cases enter the public eye.

Over in the Beltway, Reuters says the NHTSA has set a deadline of December 1 for Takata to submit documents and answers to questions under oath as part of the agency’s probe into the defects. The order also cites an October 17 report by the news organization about manufacturing issues at the supplier’s Mexico facility, particularly a reference to an email written in March of 2011 that proclaimed “a part that is not welded = one life less,” as well as the discovery of chewing gum in a unit. The agency also wants a list of every death and injury caused by the airbags.

Finally, attorneys representing their clients in a class action suit against the supplier have asked Miami-based U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King to move their case quickly forward. One of the attorneys, Peter Prieto, stated the urging was necessary due to the danger the airbags create among the public. Eighteen plaintiffs in 10 states are involved in the suit, which also names Toyota, Ford, BMW and Honda as defendants. The next hearing will be on December 8.

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Consumer Reports: Infotainment System Woes Mark 2014 Reliability Survey http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/consumer-reports-infotainment-system-woes-mark-2014-reliability-survey/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/consumer-reports-infotainment-system-woes-mark-2014-reliability-survey/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=936826 Consumer Reports released its Annual Reliability Survey for this year, focusing some of the attention on the woes experienced by a handful of infotainment systems. According to the publication, the absolute worse of the pack in 2014 was Infiniti’s InTouch system in the new Q50, with over one in five owners wanting to take a […]

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Infiniti InTouch - Infiniti Q50

Consumer Reports released its Annual Reliability Survey for this year, focusing some of the attention on the woes experienced by a handful of infotainment systems.

According to the publication, the absolute worse of the pack in 2014 was Infiniti’s InTouch system in the new Q50, with over one in five owners wanting to take a crowbar to the whole thing. The brand itself took a beating, dropping 14 points to 20th out of 28 as a result of the Q50’s issues, as well as the overall reliability issues in the QX60. Other infotainment systems ironing out the bugs included Ford’s MyTouch, Honda’s HondaLink and Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s UConnect.

Concerning overall reliability, Lexus once again took the top of the podium, while Toyota and Mazda respectively brought home silver and bronze, and Honda finished in fourth. Buick, meanwhile, was the only brand among the Detroit Three to place in the top 10, jumping from 16th to sixth on the strength of its entire portfolio.

As for why the other Detroit brands failed to reach the top 10, Consumer Reports says domestic small and compact cars, along with full-size trucks, are holding everyone back. Tesla also didn’t make the list, but that was due to criteria than low quality: the publication only rates brands with a minimum of two models, a situation that will be remedied when the Model X rolls out next year.

Finally, Audi took fifth behind the Japanese makes, while Porsche took ninth ahead of Kia. BMW and Volvo remained within the top 20. Only Mercedes-Benz took a hit among the Europeans this year, falling 11 spots to 24th thanks to the new CLA and S classes.

The Consumer Reports 2014 reliability survey obtained its information from 1.1 million vehicles, the largest survey of its kind in the publication’s history.

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Daimler Financially Divests From Tesla, BMW Could Step In http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/daimler-financially-divests-tesla-bmw-step/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/daimler-financially-divests-tesla-bmw-step/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935314 Over five years ago, Daimler AG acquired a 9.1 percent interest in Tesla, gaining 1,000 battery packs for its Smart EV in exchange for helping to put the Model S on the road to production. Wednesday, Daimler sold its remaining 4 percent in the company, netting $780 million for the trouble. Despite the divestiture, both […]

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Over five years ago, Daimler AG acquired a 9.1 percent interest in Tesla, gaining 1,000 battery packs for its Smart EV in exchange for helping to put the Model S on the road to production.

Wednesday, Daimler sold its remaining 4 percent in the company, netting $780 million for the trouble.

Despite the divestiture, both automakers will continue cooperating on ongoing projects, such as the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive recently launched in the United States. Daimler financial management board member Bodo Uebber said the sale would allow Tesla to “broaden its investor base,” adding that stock ownership wasn’t necessary to the overall relationship between the two companies.

As for who Tesla could now court, Forbes believes BMW could be drawn further into its own relationship with the company. International Strategy & Investment analyst Arndt Ellinghorst believes Tesla would benefit more from BMW’s carbon-fiber technology — put to great use in the i Series — than from providing batteries to Mercedes. Both companies met in June to discuss standardization for a potential EV charging network.

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Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce SUVs Still Waiting For Green Light http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/lamborghini-rolls-royce-suvs-still-waiting-green-light/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/lamborghini-rolls-royce-suvs-still-waiting-green-light/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935290 Saving away for either a Lamborghini Urus or the Rolls-Royce SUV with no name (yet)? You may end up in an Aventador or Wraith instead if neither one are green-lit. According to AutoCar, the £180,000 ($289,000 USD) new-age Rambo Lambo is awaiting the go-ahead from Audi, which an anonymous insider claims will come when economic […]

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Saving away for either a Lamborghini Urus or the Rolls-Royce SUV with no name (yet)? You may end up in an Aventador or Wraith instead if neither one are green-lit.

According to AutoCar, the £180,000 ($289,000 USD) new-age Rambo Lambo is awaiting the go-ahead from Audi, which an anonymous insider claims will come when economic and geopolitical conditions calm down:

We are convinced the Urus can significantly boost global sales, but the financial conditions need to be sound. Right now, there are signs we may be heading for a downturn in the markets due to various factors, including trouble in the Middle East, although this is not reflected in the current sales situation, which puts us ahead of 2013.

Over at BMW, the Grey Poupon delivery wagon — set to move out of mainly Chinese showrooms at £200,000 ($321,000) — is still in the design phase. Board member for the high-end premium brand, Peter Schwarzenbauer, said the proposals are closing in on BMW’s vision for the SUV, but if the execs can’t be convinced that the final design resembles a Rolls-Royce, the vehicle will not be built.

Both SUVs are expected to enter production in 2017.

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NHTSA Issues Urgent Recall For Takata-Equipped Vehicles In Humid Climes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-issues-urgent-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles-humid-climes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-issues-urgent-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles-humid-climes/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934178 If you happen to own certain BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan vehicles, and reside in a humid climate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging you to take it in for repairs linked to the Takata airbags installed. Though the agency didn’t explain exactly the need for urgency, the airbags made […]

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Takata Airbag Cutaway

If you happen to own certain BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan vehicles, and reside in a humid climate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging you to take it in for repairs linked to the Takata airbags installed.

Though the agency didn’t explain exactly the need for urgency, the airbags made by Takata have been linked to humidity-related failures, where upon detonation, metal shrapnel would be sprayed into the cabin, injuring or killing all within.

Owners of the following affected vehicles may need to bring their vehicles in for repairs if they call Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands or Hawaii home:

Toyota: 778,177 total number of vehicles potentially affected
2002 – 2004 Lexus SC
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2004 Toyota Sequoia
2003 – 2004 Toyota Tundra
2003 – 2004 Pontiac Vibe

Honda: 2,803,214 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord (4 cyl)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord (6 cyl)
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 -2007 Honda Pilot
2006 Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 -2003 Acura TL/CL

Nissan: 437,712 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2003 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2003 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2003 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 Infiniti FX

Mazda: 18,050 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2004 Mazda6
2004 Mazda RX-8

BMW: 573,935 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible

General Motors: 133,221 total number potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2003 Buick LeSabre
2002 – 2003 Buick Rendezvous
2002 – 2003 Cadillac DeVille
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Impala
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Venture
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy XL
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Aurora
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Bonneville
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Montana

Recall letters are being sent out to affected owners, who can also look up their VIN through SaferCar.gov to determine if their vehicle is under recall.

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Projects In Germany, US Closer To Low-Cost Carbon Fiber Manufacturing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/projects-germany-us-closer-low-cost-carbon-fiber-manufacturing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/projects-germany-us-closer-low-cost-carbon-fiber-manufacturing/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 10:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931938 Though carbon fiber is being used more extensively in new vehicles, the high costs associated with building a vehicle out of the material have kept it to the likes of the Lexus LFA and BMW i Series. This could soon change, however. Bloomberg reports MAI Carbon Cluster Management GmbH, with financial backing from BMW, Audi, […]

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2014 BMW i8 04

Though carbon fiber is being used more extensively in new vehicles, the high costs associated with building a vehicle out of the material have kept it to the likes of the Lexus LFA and BMW i Series. This could soon change, however.

Bloomberg reports MAI Carbon Cluster Management GmbH, with financial backing from BMW, Audi, Airbus, Siemens and around 70 other manufacturers, have made progress on reducing the cost of carbon fiber, with the goal of slashing 90 percent of the total cost. Klaus Drechler, head of the €80 million ($102 million USD) project, as well as professor at the Technical University of Munich, explains:

We’ve certainly reached a halfway point on our cost-cutting target for suitable carbon-fiber parts. We’ll see a lot more carbon-fiber use in the next generation of cars. The key is to really drive automation [in production]. There are different scenarios about how carmakers can use carbon fiber — extensively like BMW, with a carbon-fiber chassis, or with smaller components.

Similar cost-reduction efforts are being carried out in the United States at the Oak Ridge Carbon Fiber Composites Consortium in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The consortium, established in 2011, has partnered with Ford, Dow Chemical and other companies in developing lower-cost carbon fiber materials.

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Paris 2014: 2015 BMW X6 Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-2015-bmw-x6-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-2015-bmw-x6-revealed/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 18:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=924153 Now capable of doing burnouts, the second-gen BMW X6 arrived at the 2014 Paris Auto Show with RWD for the first time. Just like the roomier X5 upon which the new X6 is based, the SUV is available as an sDrive35i model, whose twin-turbo inline-six moves 300 horsepower to the back. The same engine delivers […]

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Now capable of doing burnouts, the second-gen BMW X6 arrived at the 2014 Paris Auto Show with RWD for the first time.

Just like the roomier X5 upon which the new X6 is based, the SUV is available as an sDrive35i model, whose twin-turbo inline-six moves 300 horsepower to the back. The same engine delivers the goods through all four corners as the xDrive35i, with the xDrive50i upping the ante with a 4.4-liter V8 pushing 445 horsepower. All models receive an eight-speed auto standard.

In addition to the rear- and all-wheel drive models, the X6 can be had in xLine or M Sport trim. The former brings more luxurious leather and cosmetic enhancements, the latter adds an aero kit and optional M suspension. Other available features include: Bang & Olufsen sound system, HUD, parallel parking assistant, and a revised chassis that offers nearly 50:50 weight distribution and stiffer torsional rigidity.

The X6 will leave the factory floor in Spartanburg, S.C. for showrooms later this year. Price of admission begins at $60,550.

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BMW, Baidu Team Up For Automated Driving Trials In China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/bmw-baidu-team-automated-driving-trials-china/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/bmw-baidu-team-automated-driving-trials-china/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 13:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=921665 BMW has teamed up with the Google of China, Baidu, to begin work on automated driving trials in Beijing and Shanghai. According to Reuters, BMW says its group of research vehicles have already covered “thousands of kilometers” up and down the autobahns of Germany, and is now embarking “on a further research project which will […]

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BMW has teamed up with the Google of China, Baidu, to begin work on automated driving trials in Beijing and Shanghai.

According to Reuters, BMW says its group of research vehicles have already covered “thousands of kilometers” up and down the autobahns of Germany, and is now embarking “on a further research project which will pave the way for highly automated driving in China as well.”

The cars for the Chinese project expansion will be tackling the nation’s multi-level highways and other infrastructural challenges in Beijing and Shanghai, relying upon Baidu’s map and cloud services on-the-go to aid in a given vehicle’s navigation.

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Capsule Comparison: BMW X1 S-Drive vs Ford Fiesta ST http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-comparison-bmw-x1-s-drive-vs-ford-fiesta-st/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-comparison-bmw-x1-s-drive-vs-ford-fiesta-st/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 12:49:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=798050 Much has been written about the narrowing performance and luxury gap between supercars and everyday pedestrian offerings. Even as supercars have introduced even wilder styling, interiors and technology the beige lemming wagon that fills your company’s management lot puts out 240 hp, sports bluetooth integration and can hit 60 in less than 8 seconds. But […]

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Much has been written about the narrowing performance and luxury gap between supercars and everyday pedestrian offerings. Even as supercars have introduced even wilder styling, interiors and technology the beige lemming wagon that fills your company’s management lot puts out 240 hp, sports bluetooth integration and can hit 60 in less than 8 seconds. But contained within the scale of Versa to Aventador, there exist smaller comparisons. Transpose that discussion onto one about buying a brand name versus value and you can have a thoughtful discussion about what exactly are you getting for your money.

On the surface, you might object to the idea of a Ford Fiesta and BMW X1. Certainly the X1 leans more to the SUV side of the scale, but if you put the preconceived notions of their respective mission aside, they aren’t that far apart.

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On the outside, the BMW X1 is just under 6 feet wide, 14 feet long and a tad over 5 feet tall. The Fiesta ST is not even 3 inches narrower, has 8 inches less nose to tail and is 3 inches shorter. The wheels base for the X1 is a hair over 9 feet while the ST is a scant 10 inches less. The front and rear wheel track of both vehicles is within 4 inches. But side by side the BMW appears to tower over the Ford.

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Inside, the difference is narrower in numbers and feel. The Fiesta is within 3 inches of the Bimmer in almost every measurement save one; The X1 has 2.5 times the interior cargo room and with the seats folded, the BMW more than doubles the ST ‘s 26 cubic feet of cargo space with 56 cubic feet.

In contrast the BMW is the porker of the two in almost every sense, especially price. This 2-wheel drive X1 stickered at $38,790. That’s with leather and the x-line package. The ST came with every available option, including the Recaro package, and stickered at $26,000. But this particular 2014 Fiesta ST came off the lot for $24.5 with 0% financing. With the X1 was almost a stripper model without GPS and the Ford was loaded to the gills, the price difference is still a decent optioned Nissan Versa sedan.

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So, what does the almost $13,000 extra get you? To try and find out, I met up with a fellow racer, friend and owner of the ST, Chris Mills early on a Sunday morning and headed to Oklahoma’s best kept secret; Talimena drive.

It was still dark when we met and filled the tanks. The forecast was mid 40s with a high of 50 and rain all day. This gave us an opportunity to experience how each of the respective makes dealt with the drive dynamics of their vehicle.

As previously mentioned, these cars are not as different as they seem.  BMW markets the X1 as a Sports Activity Vehicle, probably to delineate it from the bloated SUV image. Ford is unapologetic in the presentation of the Fiesta ST as a hot hatch. But they are still small 5-door cars and under the skin, both are motivated by 4 cylinder turbos. The X1’s 2 liter puts 240 horses to the rear wheels and the ST’s 1.6 sends 197 to the front. The Fiesta might be down on power but only needs to haul 2,720 lbs., while the Bimmer has to contend with 3,527. It takes the X1 6.3 seconds to hit 60. For a sizable price increase, you can trim that 0-60 down a full second with the 300 hp inline 6. The fully optioned Fiesta ST will hit 60 in 6.7.

It’s 6 AM, overcast and dark out. The sky warns of impending rain as we drive through rolling hills and light sweepers. The BMW is in its element and its grand touring roots are showing. The BMW interior is 77db at speed and the ST reads 80db.

At 7 AM on OK-3 just outside of Stonewall, it begins to drizzle. We have been traveling for an hour and via our Bluetooth phone conversation we trade some data. We are averaging 60.7 miles per hour; the BMW in with the auto trans in “sport” mode is yielding 29.4 miles per gallon but the Ford is much better at 30.4 mpg.

By 7:20 it’s finally raining. In Shamrock Oklahoma we swap vehicles.

There is no ambiguity in that the ST’s mission. I’m 6 foot, just under 200 pounds with a runners build and I have to force myself into the ST’s narrow Recaros. The only transmission available is the 6 speed manual, which falls readily to hand and the ergonomics are very purposeful. Ford’s maligned SYNC infotainment and phone integration is still miles beyond the BMW. The little things highlight the difference between the two. The Ford seat is all manual adjustment vs the BMW’s electric controls. The Fiesta seat warmer has one temperature while the BMW has three. The BMW smells of leather and the Fiesta still smells like a new car.

Even in the rain, this car is ready to go, now, anywhere. It will not let you be inattentive. The BMW is like an older golden retriever; calm, soothing and comfortable. The ST is a hyperactive border collie pulling on the end of its leash; smart, energetic and if you ignore it for too long, it will do bad things.

It is not uncomfortable to drive, but the seats are not conducive to a slacker seating position. The tires dart at every patch of standing water and the turbo keeps calling you to misbehave. Even in 6th gear, the slightest prod of the gas will grab some whoosh.

When we stop at Sardis Lake, the rain has abated. While grabbing some photos, we notice a semi-curvy road below the dam. We take to it, and for the first time I get restricted by the Fiesta’s stability control. I am actually impressed. The Ford employs a McNamara tactic of gradual intervention rather than absolute cut off. But unlike McNamara, the Fiesta’s system works, and I am able to hoon very effectively through the short parking area. Too much throttle? No problem. The ST will just even out that output to match the traction and the car pulls smoothly out of the corner. The rear wheel drive BMW is a bit hairier for my partner, pulling back onto the main road he notes the road was “a lot narrower that it looked from the top.”

We arrive in Talihina OK at the base of OK-1 and grab breakfast at Pam’s Hatefull Hussy Diner on Main Street. Breakfast for two and a souvenir coffee mug is less than $15. If you are in town, it is highly recommended.

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While there we discuss the driving impressions. Chris’s first observation was that in the rear view mirror BMW doesn’t even look like a BMW. I think about that for a while, he’s right. The other unexpected observation is the BMW is more spartan inside. The ST has all the bells and whistles up front and available. The X1 tends to be more subtle. While the ST is always at the ready, the BMW chassis tended to adjust over bumps rather than transmit them. He used the word float, but immediately corrected because it wasn’t a negative feeling, as the car stayed planted. He also took the transmission out of “sport” mode and noticed an immediate MPG improvement.

After our bargain breakfast, we head up the mountain to the entrance of OK-1. It’s a great slice of pavement without the hype of the Tail of the Dragon. Our early arrival and wet weather ensures it will be free of the open pipe biker crowd and we won’t be dodging the knee draggers either. In fact, we get the entire 60 miles to ourselves. We don’t encounter another vehicle in our direction until just outside of Mena Arkansas.

As it turns out, BMW likes to push on the rough wet pavement. Given the damp and sometimes rainy conditions, we both left the stability control on. While not as smooth as the Ford, the BMW also has effective intervention. On paper, the BMW might be the faster selection of the duo, but the ST is at home here. It attacks the mountain range and opens a huge gap without trying. We weren’t racing, but it was a spirited drive and the Fiesta is the right tool for the job. The X1 is no slacker and can reel in the ST on the open sections, but when it’s tight, the Fiesta is gone.

When we get to the Arkansas side, we encounter a lot of fog which slows our progress. But it’s still a lovely drive. As we get into Mena we are both had just over a ¼ tank. The pumps tell the tale; 10.4 gallons top off the ST’s tank, while 11.09 for the BMW. The ST’s 1.6 liter is miser, even when pushed, vs the BMW’s 2.0 powerplant.

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We head back up the road. As it turns out the rear wheel drive X1 is more comfortable leading than following. I was always worried that the Ford was going to be able to correct a mistake and the BMW would slip up behind it. This was surprising, because the Fiesta is more high strung. I kept expecting the rear to step out, but the X1 would push first then the stability control would intervene.

Having already been exposed to the road, we quicken our pace just slightly on the return. The storm that was dogging us inbound is breaking up in the hills and several times we find ourselves above the heavy dark clouds, and then descending through them.

We return to flatter surface roads and weave our way westerly back to Oklahoma City. The majority of the roads are two lanes and with the weather cleared, Sunday afternoon traffic is starting to build. In both cars, passing on the open dotted lines is effortless. You can downshift the manual ST to the redline or the auto stick in the X1 if more drama is needed, but is almost every case, just a little more throttle and a dose of turbo make the pass safely and quickly.

In Seminole we stop at another OK standard; Braum’s for a malt shake and final overview. Over the course of the trip we have covered 418 miles. The Fiesta yielded 25.4 mpg and the X1 24.7. The X1 could have done better if I had left the transmission in standard drive for the highway portions.

So back to the original question; what does the BMW deliver for the extra money? By the numbers it gives you some things; an extra year on the bumper to bumper warranty, 4 for the BMW vs 3 for the Ford.  Drivetrain is identical at 60,000 miles. BMW Maintenance included for 5 years. There is extra cargo room and a few inches for your head and shoulders. It can run with the hot hatch ST all day but never get away from it. Aside from two extra heat settings on the seats and leather, everything BMW offers is available on the Ford for less. What does $13,000 get you? Honestly, not much. The Fiesta ST is a great car, and despite being the X1 being my wife’s car, I’m calling the Ford the clear winner.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The same problem with the expensive supercar vs the performance sedan is magnified as the numbers get smaller. The “little” things cost a lot more. For the money, the Fiesta is a bargain, even if you aren’t a sports car person. The drivability, options and value of the Fiesta make the justification of the X1s price difficult and I can’t see the decision getting easier with an option more targeted to the hot hatch crowd, like the Mazdaspeed 3 or Mini Cooper.

But as I headed home, I was happier to have the more larger, if less supportive seats, automatic transmission and relaxed composure of the X1. After all, it was another 50 miles, it was still cold, still wet and I wanted to be comfortable.

Neither Ford or BMW provided demo vehicles or gas. These are both privately purchased cars. Thanks to Chris for giving up his Sunday and letting me use his car.

W. Christian Mental Ward has owned over 70 cars and destroyed most of them. He is a graduate of Panoz Racing School, loves cartoons and once exceeded the speed of sound. Married to the most patient woman in the world; he has three dogs, a Philosophy degree and a gift for making Derek wonder if English is actually his first language.

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Paris 2014: BMW 2 Series Convertible Entering Showrooms Early 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/paris-2014-bmw-2-series-convertible-entering-showrooms-early-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/paris-2014-bmw-2-series-convertible-entering-showrooms-early-2015/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 10:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909906 Set to make its global debut at the 2014 Paris Auto Show in October, the 2015 BMW 2 Series Convertible will enter showrooms in early 2015. Automotive News reports the convertible will arrive in the United States as the 228i, 228i xDrive and M235i, with the M235i xDrive model to arrive later in 2015. Price […]

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Set to make its global debut at the 2014 Paris Auto Show in October, the 2015 BMW 2 Series Convertible will enter showrooms in early 2015.

Automotive News reports the convertible will arrive in the United States as the 228i, 228i xDrive and M235i, with the M235i xDrive model to arrive later in 2015. Price of admission begins at $38,850 for the base 228i, $40,650 for the base 228i xDrive, and $48,650 for the base M235i; the price for the M235i xDrive has yet to be announced.

Powering the 228i will be a 2-liter turbo-four driving 240 horsepower to the back through an eight-speed automatic while providing greater fuel efficiency than the outgoing 1 Series convertible’s 18/22/27 mpg rating.

Aboard the M235i, the M Performance Package brings a 3-liter turbo-six to the front, sending its 320 horses through the rear via either eight-speed auto or six-speed manual.

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Sixt-BMW DriveNow Partnership Exceeds Membership Expectations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/sixt-bmw-drivenow-partnership-exceeds-membership-expectations/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/sixt-bmw-drivenow-partnership-exceeds-membership-expectations/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 12:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=897258 Germany-based rental car company Sixt SE announced its DriveNow car-sharing venture with BMW has exceeded expectations, with profits to match. Autoblog reports DriveNow’s success is linked to cities where the service has been in operation for at least a year, with new subscriptions coming online in a manner that completely caught CEO Erich Sixt off-guard: […]

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Germany-based rental car company Sixt SE announced its DriveNow car-sharing venture with BMW has exceeded expectations, with profits to match.

Autoblog reports DriveNow’s success is linked to cities where the service has been in operation for at least a year, with new subscriptions coming online in a manner that completely caught CEO Erich Sixt off-guard:

We’ve been surprised about the explosion of new subscriptions, which has helped boost revenue. We didn’t expect such a dramatic rise in membership.

DriveNow, operating in five German cities and San Francisco, saw its membership jump from 215,000 at the end of 2013, to 300,000 at present. However, COO Julian zu Putlitz expects the service — which allows members to rent BMW’s X1 and 1 Series vehicles, as well as models from MINI — to see a “small-to-medium, single-digit” million-euro loss in 2014 due to startup costs.

As for the future, Sixt and BMW are in talks to expand DriveNow to 25 locations in Europe and the United States within the next five years.

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BMW Unveils $6,500 Suitcase-Size EV Charger http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-unveils-6500-suitcase-size-ev-charger/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-unveils-6500-suitcase-size-ev-charger/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 11:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874913 Owners of BMWs i Series vehicles may soon have more places to charge their vehicles, all thanks to the automaker’s new, less-expensive, suitcase-sized charger. Automotive News reports the 100-pound, 24-kilowatt chargers, made by Bosch Automotive Service Solutions, will be available to companies who partner with BMW for the low price of $6,500, and can recharge […]

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Owners of BMWs i Series vehicles may soon have more places to charge their vehicles, all thanks to the automaker’s new, less-expensive, suitcase-sized charger.

Automotive News reports the 100-pound, 24-kilowatt chargers, made by Bosch Automotive Service Solutions, will be available to companies who partner with BMW for the low price of $6,500, and can recharge other EVs from other automakers like General Motors, Volkswagen and Ford.

According to BMW of North America EV infrastructure manager Robert Healey, BMW hopes that by making its new charger available at a discount, the companies who sign on would help the automaker establish a nationwide network similar to Tesla’s exclusive Supercharger network:

Our focus is on getting as many DC fast chargers out there as possible, but the cost has been a hindrance. We want to remove every perceived barrier for our potential customers. We want to ensure that customers see these chargers.

The first of the new chargers will go online at BMW dealerships in August, with more to come as third-party companies begin to partner with BMW.

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Daimler, BMW Collaborate On Wireless Charging http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/daimler-bmw-collaborate-on-wireless-charging/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/daimler-bmw-collaborate-on-wireless-charging/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 11:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866826 Daimler and BMW just announced a collaboration to help speed up development for wireless charging of both EVs and PHEVs, with the former’s Mercedes S500 PHEV as the test subject. Autoblog Green reports the system in question will use coils in both the vehicle and charging platform, the latter installed in a garage floor or […]

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Mercedes S 500 PHEV

Daimler and BMW just announced a collaboration to help speed up development for wireless charging of both EVs and PHEVs, with the former’s Mercedes S500 PHEV as the test subject.

Autoblog Green reports the system in question will use coils in both the vehicle and charging platform, the latter installed in a garage floor or other stationary point. The system will charge an EV or PHEV at a rate of 3.6 kW, with an efficiency rating of 90 percent.

As for the guinea pig, the S500 PHEV will come with 436 horsepower and around 480 lb-ft of torque between its twin-turbo V6 and hybrid powertrain. In turn, the sedan can travel up to 20 miles on electric-only power, and net the chauffeur 84 mpg on the way to and from his employer’s private resort. The S500 PHEV is due in showrooms this September.

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BMW’s Southern Strategy Pays Off For All Involved http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmws-southern-strategy-pays-off-for-all-involved/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmws-southern-strategy-pays-off-for-all-involved/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 11:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865729 Twenty years ago, BMW began building vehicles at its first North American factory in Spartanburg, S.C., a move that has paid off well for the German automaker, both against its rivals Mercedes and Audi, and as an example for the industry as a whole. Bloomberg reports the factory is the largest exporter of U.S.-made vehicles […]

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BMW Spartanburg

Twenty years ago, BMW began building vehicles at its first North American factory in Spartanburg, S.C., a move that has paid off well for the German automaker, both against its rivals Mercedes and Audi, and as an example for the industry as a whole.

Bloomberg reports the factory is the largest exporter of U.S.-made vehicles to global markets outside of North America, besting the Detroit Three and the state of Michigan’s collective automotive production efforts as its capacity prepares to jump 50 percent to 450,000 annually as the latest member of the X Series, the full-size seven-passenger X7, comes into production.

The success of the Spartanburg facility is built upon lower labor costs — U.S. labor is 47 percent cheaper than German labor — its work flexibility, and its access to the port of Charleston, I-85 and GSP International Airport. An additional inland port in Greer, S.C., new production techniques — such as using robots and humans on the same assembly step — and massive export increases as the result of an upcoming free-trade agreement between the United States and the European Union will likely add more fuel to the plant’s continued success.

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BMW 3, 4 Series To Get New Designations With New Engines http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-3-4-series-to-get-new-designations-with-new-engines/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-3-4-series-to-get-new-designations-with-new-engines/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 13:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863305 A handful of BMW 3 and 4 series models will receive new designations to go with their new engines when they arrive in U.S. showrooms beginning in 2016. An ongoing forum post on Bimmerpost reports the following for the F3x models: 4-cylinder B58 will have the 330i/430i designation, instead of 328i/428i 6-cylinder B58 will use […]

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A handful of BMW 3 and 4 series models will receive new designations to go with their new engines when they arrive in U.S. showrooms beginning in 2016.

An ongoing forum post on Bimmerpost reports the following for the F3x models:

  • 4-cylinder B58 will have the 330i/430i designation, instead of 328i/428i
  • 6-cylinder B58 will use the 340i/440i designation, instead of 335i/435i
  • F30 PHEV will be dubbed the 330e, instead of 328e

The list continues to update, and has info only on U.S.-bound models.

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BMW: No M Badge For 4 Series Gran Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-no-m-badge-for-4-series-gran-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-no-m-badge-for-4-series-gran-coupe/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 10:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=860745 Those who were looking forward to a smaller version of BMW’s M6 Gran Coupe can stop holding their breath: the automaker is declining to produce the M4 Gran Coupe. CarsGuide.com.au reports BMW’s M sales boss Jörg Bartels confirmed the decision not to proceed during the Australian launch of the new 3 and 4 series last […]

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Those who were looking forward to a smaller version of BMW’s M6 Gran Coupe can stop holding their breath: the automaker is declining to produce the M4 Gran Coupe.

CarsGuide.com.au reports BMW’s M sales boss Jörg Bartels confirmed the decision not to proceed during the Australian launch of the new 3 and 4 series last week:

That is a negative. It was definitely considered, but there is no plan to build an M4 Gran Coupe. Part of the reason is expected production volume, but also the 4 Series Gran Coupe is built in a different factory to both the 3 Series (sedan) and 4 Series (coupe), so there is a lot of challenges there.

The M badge is set to grace both 3 and 4 series in their respective sedan and coupe configurations, as well as the M4 Convertible, while the 3 Series Gran Turismo — like the 5 Series version — will do without.

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BMW Brings New North American Plant To Mexico http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-brings-new-north-american-plant-to-mexico/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-brings-new-north-american-plant-to-mexico/#comments Fri, 04 Jul 2014 11:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=858569 It’s official: BMW’s second North American assembly plant will be built in Mexico, with production to begin in 2019. Autoblog reports the $1 billion USD plant will be located near San Luis Potosí, and will employ around 1,500 to produce up to 150,000 units per year, the majority of which will likely take auto trains […]

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It’s official: BMW’s second North American assembly plant will be built in Mexico, with production to begin in 2019.

Autoblog reports the $1 billion USD plant will be located near San Luis Potosí, and will employ around 1,500 to produce up to 150,000 units per year, the majority of which will likely take auto trains north to the United States as noted by BMW Group board member Harald Krueger:

This decision underscores our commitment to the NAFTA region. We have been building BMW cars at our US plant in Spartanburg for the past 20 years. With a planned annual capacity of 150,000 units for the new plant in Mexico, the BMW Group will be even better positioned to take advantage of the growth potential in the entire region. The Americas are among the most important growth markets for the BMW Group. We are continuing our strategy of “production follows the market.”

As for what will be built, BMW remains silent on the subject. Early speculation points to 3 and 1 series production, as well as MINIs.

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Low-Cost Tesla EV To Use Steel To Hit A4, 3 Series Pricing Levels http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/low-cost-tesla-ev-to-use-steel-to-hit-a4-3-series-pricing-levels/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/low-cost-tesla-ev-to-use-steel-to-hit-a4-3-series-pricing-levels/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 11:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=857993 Though Tesla’s low-cost EV won’t be able to put the E in between the S and the X, it will be able to meet its price target thanks an alloy swap in its construction. Autocar reports steel instead of aluminum will make up the low-cost EV, which CEO Elon Musk stated will be 20 percent […]

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Though Tesla’s low-cost EV won’t be able to put the E in between the S and the X, it will be able to meet its price target thanks an alloy swap in its construction.

Autocar reports steel instead of aluminum will make up the low-cost EV, which CEO Elon Musk stated will be 20 percent smaller than the Model S. The steel construction will likely be assembled through bonding and rivets, as well.

The use of steel will allow the new EV — expected sometime between late 2016 and early 2017 — to better compete against the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series on price, backed up by the reduced cost in battery production once the Gigafactory goes online at the same time as the low-cost Tesla arrives in showrooms.

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BMW Mexico Plant To Build 150,000 Annually http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-mexico-plant-to-build-150000-annually/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-mexico-plant-to-build-150000-annually/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 13:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=857249 Though BMW may announce Thursday where in Mexico it will build its second North American plant, sources close to the matter said the plant will pump 150,000 units annually into auto trains bound for the United States. Automotive News Europe also reports a Mexican government official claimed the new plant would come with a €1 […]

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Though BMW may announce Thursday where in Mexico it will build its second North American plant, sources close to the matter said the plant will pump 150,000 units annually into auto trains bound for the United States.

Automotive News Europe also reports a Mexican government official claimed the new plant would come with a €1 billion ($1.36 billion USD) investment, and may either be located in the state of Hidalgo just north of Mexico City, or in San Luis Potosi in central Mexico.

The plant — following on the heels of a new Daimler-Nissan small-car factory to be built in Aguacalientes, as well as an Audi factory in San Jose Chiapa — will likely be used to build MINIs and the FWD 1 Series, with localized 3 Series assembly also speculated based on the automaker’s potential need to better compete against the U.S.-assembled Mercedes C-Class on price.

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BMW M235i Bests Corvette, 911 In Consumer Reports Road Testing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bmw-m235i-bests-corvette-911-in-consumer-reports-road-testing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bmw-m235i-bests-corvette-911-in-consumer-reports-road-testing/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=855833 BMW’s M235i has earned the highest marks ever bestowed upon the German automaker’s lineup from Consumer Reports, while also besting the Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette in road tests whose results were recently released online. Bloomberg reports the coupe earned a 98 out of 100 in its road test, falling one point short of the […]

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BMW’s M235i has earned the highest marks ever bestowed upon the German automaker’s lineup from Consumer Reports, while also besting the Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette in road tests whose results were recently released online.

Bloomberg reports the coupe earned a 98 out of 100 in its road test, falling one point short of the all-time leaders, the Tesla Model S and Lexus LS460L. The 911 and Corvette, packing more firepower with less comfort than the M235i, earned 95 and 92 out of 100 in their respective road tests.

Deputy editor Jon Linkov proclaimed the M235i a “dual-purpose car” that anyone “could drive to work every day of the week” without leaving the driver in pain, followed by a weekend at the track taking on the likes of the 911 and Corvette. He added that this particular BMW “has almost a direct lineage” to BMWs of the past that lived up to the marketing of “Ultimate Driving Machine.”

Neither of the trio were recommended by the publication, however, as the BMW and the Corvette were too new for reliability reports, while the 911 has below average reliability according to those surveyed.

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BMW To Announce Second North American Factory Before Summer Break http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bmw-to-announce-second-north-american-factory-before-summer-break/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bmw-to-announce-second-north-american-factory-before-summer-break/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=852977 Still mulling over where to build a second North American factory, BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer stated his company would have an answer before the automaker goes on summer break. Automotive News Europe reports the automaker is considering countries who have signed the North American Free Trade Agreement, including Canada, United States and Mexico, for a […]

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Still mulling over where to build a second North American factory, BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer stated his company would have an answer before the automaker goes on summer break.

Automotive News Europe reports the automaker is considering countries who have signed the North American Free Trade Agreement, including Canada, United States and Mexico, for a factory where it may build the 3 and 1 series, as well as MINIs.

BMW is doing this in order to properly battle Teutonic competitors Audi and Mercedes, both of whom have or will have factories in place to meet demand, as well as better handle currency challenges by producing popular vehicles in the same market they are bought. All three are also battling it out on record deliveries for 2014, with China and the U.S. as the battleground.

Meanwhile, BMW is spending $1 billion to expand its Spartanburg, S.C. plant to 50 percent increased production capacity by 2016, when the full-size X7 will be among the 450,000 X Series SUVs to leave the line annually. The outgoing record holder in Dingolfing, Germany produced 342,000 3, 5, 6 and 7 series models in 2013.

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Rolls-Royce SUV To Arrive In 2018 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/rolls-royce-suv-to-arrive-in-2018/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/rolls-royce-suv-to-arrive-in-2018/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 12:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=850810 Just like Volkswagen’s Bentley and Audi’s Lamborghini, BMW’s Rolls-Royce is entering the premium SUV game, ready to ferry oil-rich princes and the hardest of Wall Street’s power lords to their appointed rounds. Autobild reports the premium SUV — currently dubbed the Cullinan, whose namesake comes from the 3,000-carat diamond — will debut in 2018, and […]

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Just like Volkswagen’s Bentley and Audi’s Lamborghini, BMW’s Rolls-Royce is entering the premium SUV game, ready to ferry oil-rich princes and the hardest of Wall Street’s power lords to their appointed rounds.

Autobild reports the premium SUV — currently dubbed the Cullinan, whose namesake comes from the 3,000-carat diamond — will debut in 2018, and will be priced between the Ghost and the Phantom at €275,000 ($340,000 USD).

Power for the aluminum SUV is expected to come from 6.6-liter V12, which may be directed through the all-wheel drive system found in the BMW 7 Series to the wheel/tire combo from the upcoming X7. A PHEV variant of the Cullinan is also in consideration.

As for where the SUV will turn up, the United States and the Middle East are potential markets.

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Reader Review: BMW 120d http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/reader-review-bmw-120d/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/reader-review-bmw-120d/#comments Tue, 10 Jun 2014 12:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=840642 Reader Antoun sends us this review of a BMW 120d rental car from his most recent trip to Europe.  The BMW 120d is right at the bullseye of unrequited desire for – well, you, assuming you’re a compulsive reader of car blogs, where the irrationality of the wagon-on-stilts crossover craze and needlessly-complicated hybrid technology are […]

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1280px-BMW_118i_Urban_Line_(F20)_–_Heckansicht,_10._März_2012,_Düsseldorf

Reader Antoun sends us this review of a BMW 120d rental car from his most recent trip to Europe. 

The BMW 120d is right at the bullseye of unrequited desire for – well, you, assuming you’re a compulsive reader of car blogs, where the irrationality of the wagon-on-stilts crossover craze and needlessly-complicated hybrid technology are well-worn topics. On paper, the 120d is the best of both worlds. To the performance junkie, it could be a sports car: rear-wheel drive, a touch over 3100 lbs of curb weight, and a turbo motor that kicks out 184 horsepower (measured in the Euro way, optimistic by US standards) and – get this – 280 ft/lbs of torque. Best of all, it can still be ordered with a 6-speed manual transmission and a real clutch pedal.

The 120d is also a practical five-door daily driver, with a reasonably sized and reasonably square cargo area accessible through a usefully yawning hatchback. At 170.2 inches long, it’s 4 inches shorter than an E36 3-series and a whole foot shorter than the current 3-Series.

So, is it the epiphany that internet forum-dwellers expect from the spec sheet? I spent ten days using a rental 120d for a variety of tasks, including carrying friends, family, and lots of luggage back and forth from train station to hotel. Several of our guests were of the occasional-traveler variety, with all of the ill-advised and oversize luggage choices that implies. We never ran out of room. A US-spec 1-series coupe would have had us running for a roof rack and ratchet straps.

I also spent time schlepping up the A1 highway between Rome and Florence with a fair number of detours to Tuscan towns on Italian country roads.

The local Italian drivers seem to always have their personal mannetinos set to “corsa” – Italian driving has less in common with an American commute than with the chaotic 3rd hour of a 24 Hours of Lemons race. In that context, the 120d’s chassis was a welcome dance partner, nice enough to make enthusiasts of 1990s BMWs quit kvetching. On both highways and bumpier secondary roads, the ride had the suppleness you would expect of a much larger car. Importantly, this car came with Bridgestone Turanza 300ER tires, which in this application are not of the run-flat variety. This takes a lot of the high-frequency jitteriness out of the ride when compared to the US-spec 3-series. It rolls much less than you’d expect given the compliant ride, and never seemed to run out of suspension travel. The car will hold a line through corners without getting unsettled by bumps, camber changes, or changes of elevation. It’s adjustable, albeit within narrow limits: the rear end will wiggle a bit if you are aggressive with the gas pedal in 1st or 2nd gear, but it never seems to step out at a massive angle despite all that torque. Overly-aggressive entry speeds will bring understeer, but the front tires never wash out to the “uh-oh” point, even with the stability control turned fully off.

What the 120d lacks is ultimate grip. Those Bridgestones are only 205/55-16s and designed for low rolling resistance – so if you’re looking for a mini-M3 this isn’t quite it. But the predictability of the chassis setup makes it a great tool for covering unfamiliar ground quickly, and the process is definitely fun.

The brakes – very important in Roman traffic! – are also fantastic. They have lots of feel, are easy to modulate, and able to brake beyond the limits of tire grip. On mountain roads of the variety that car commercials sell you, we never felt fade, even when loaded up with 2 people and lots of luggage.

One downside is the steering. The steering has moved to an electromechanical system with this generation of 1-series, but – surprise! – feedback is not really the issue. Yes, it lacks the kick and fizz of an E90’s wheel, but it gives more feedback than the current 3-Series and a lot more than an Audi A3 or A4. The real issue here is that the steering is weirdly non-linear: dead right on center, then responsive, then slower toward the end of the lock. The net effect is that it’s hard to steer smoothly, particularly into longer faster bends. When driving an unfamiliar car in the cut-and-thrust of Roman ring road traffic, hilarity and head-tossing ensue.

The interior was very familiar to those who have ridden in a modern BMW. Finely-grained plastics and rubber-coated knobs and buttons are all nice to touch. The cloth seats were ridiculously good, as comfortable as the more-bolstered Sport seats that BMW fits. For me, the seats fitted to non-Sport-package US BMWs usually don’t have a long enough bottom cushion to be supportive, but these seats had no such problems. 3- and 4-hour stints behind the wheel were pain-free.

So the car has a lot of the known BMW virtues, with a bit more old-skool BMW-ness than you might expect. What about that forbidden-fruit motor, so tempting to car guys trapped in the Garden of CUVs? It’s a turbo 4 with all the modern electronics that BMW can put an InterCapped marketing moniker on (TwinPower, EfficientDynamics, etc). Whoever tuned the exhaust deserves a promotion: from inside the car you hear a silky and deep-throated thrum that sounds nothing like the Cummins in a half-ton truck. Fans of Volvo red-block motors and 5-cylinder Audis will find this engine sounds familiar. More importantly, it felt at least as smooth, and maybe smoother, than the Audi TDIs that are this car’s natural showroom rival. With the windows rolled down you hear somewhat more rackety diesel noises, but in a world where direct-injection gas motors are fairly clickety-clackety, this engine sounds good.

The upside to this motor is the massive torque, and the price you pay for it is the narrow powerband. It has some turbo lag below about 1400 RPM, and runs out of breath noticeably at 4500 before redlining at 5500. In between – which, let’s face it, is where most real-world driving happens – the car feels revvy and eager. It’s got enough torque to lug around in 3rd gear all day long without feeling flat-footed. BMW says it goes from 0-60 in 7.2 seconds, and I don’t doubt it, but in the midrange it feels more like a low-6-second car. The disappointment here is that right at the point on the tach where you expect a BMW to take a deep breath and start charging harder, in the 120d it’s time to upshift.

And since you’re using that gearshift often enough to star in your own personal remake of BJ and the Bear, you will quickly come to find that it’s engineered for low NVH rather than a positive feel. The side-to-side action is well-sprung and pleasantly mechanical, but sliding the lever forward or back into gear is uncomfortably rubbery. There’s at least a half-inch of additional squishy action after the lever is actually in a gear. It takes some of the tactile joy out of driving the car fast on twisty roads. But the clutch takeup is perfect and the shift action is nothing a short-shift kit couldn’t fix. I’d still choose the manual over an automatic.

Our rental was the Unique trim level. A little irony, that: there’s nothing unique about yet another silver BMW with a black interior. Apparently this trim level gives you additional electronic and power toys (USB and phone jack input, Bluetooth, power seats) without going all the way to the expensive navigation system. iDrive is there, now with slightly flashier graphics and less infuriating user interface. If you like your cars to have a blinky screen on the dash, then you’ll probably think this one is okay, but not quite as great as a full-lux Audi MMI. If you’re old enough that your perception of “luxury” has nothing to do with accessibility to your Twitter feed, then this car’s interface will be perfectly adequate.

After nearly 1000 miles, I came to think that this car would be a perfect daily driver, in a way that our US-market 1-series, with its less practical coupe-only body style, wouldn’t be for most people. Prices are notoriously difficult to compare across continents, but in the UK it’s about 15% cheaper than an X1 crossover with the same engine. It gives up 2 inches of rear legroom and 10% of its cargo space compared to the X1, a difference that solo commuters and families with baby-seat-age kids might never notice.

I also came away thinking that the car would be even more of a driver’s car with more power at the top end of the rev range, like you might get from oh, say, a gasoline-fed inline-6. It’s not surprising that the M135i version of this hatchback, powered by the same 300-horse turbocharged motor found in our US-market 235s and 335s, has been a darling of the European press.

Here’s the kicker, though: We used only one and three-eighths of a tank of gas, over the course of a 1000 mile trip. We averaged over 55 MPG according to the trip computer, slightly above the car’s UK urban rating of 53MPG and well below its “extra-urban” rating of 69MPG. The M135i is rated at 27.4 urban / 35.3 extra-urban on the same UK rating scale. Would you give up 2000 RPM of powerband to get a 120d’s fuel economy? In hybrid-obsessed America, there is clearly a demographic that would. Are there enough of them to justify BMW’s cost to certify the motor in the U.S.? There is some astute spreadsheet jockey deep in the bowels of BMW’s product planning group who, I’m sure, knows the answer. The question, as always, is whether BMW’s U.S. product lineup reflects this spreadsheet jockey’s gimlet-eyed analysis of demand, or whether there is a truth that has not yet filtered up to the boardroom.

N.B. we are using a rights-free image due to a lack of original photography, hence the discrepancy between the article and the photo.

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BMW: China To Be Largest EV Global Market By 2019 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/bmw-china-to-be-largest-ev-global-market-by-2019/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/bmw-china-to-be-largest-ev-global-market-by-2019/#comments Thu, 29 May 2014 12:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=834009 Though Chinese consumers have been slow to adopt electric vehicles thus far, BMW believes China will become the largest global market for EVs by 2019 at the earliest. Bloomberg reports the automaker entered into a joint venture with municipal power company State Grid Shanghai, installing public charging infrastructure at the city’s former World Expo site […]

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2014 BMW i3 01

Though Chinese consumers have been slow to adopt electric vehicles thus far, BMW believes China will become the largest global market for EVs by 2019 at the earliest.

Bloomberg reports the automaker entered into a joint venture with municipal power company State Grid Shanghai, installing public charging infrastructure at the city’s former World Expo site as one of 46 such sites around the city to be installed by the end of 2014. The charging equipment will be compatible with products made by BMW, SAIC and BYD et al, while Tesla owners will have to use Supercharger stations instead.

Meanwhile, BMW will begin deliveries of the i3 in China this September, being sold in showrooms alongside the i8. BMW China CEO Karsten Engel says he expects only 1,000 will arrive in showrooms this year due to lack of supply, while BMW overall will sell over 400,000. The Bavarians join fellow Germans Volkswagen and Daimler in producing EVs for the Chinese market to help boost adoption among consumers. Currently, 70,000 total EVs are on the road in the nation, far behind the Chinese government’s goal of 500,000 by next year.

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European-Backed UN Amendment Brings Autonomous Vehicle Future Closer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/european-backed-un-amendment-brings-autonomous-vehicle-future-closer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/european-backed-un-amendment-brings-autonomous-vehicle-future-closer/#comments Tue, 20 May 2014 11:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=826642 While autonomous vehicles are still in the early stages of testing, a few of the European members of the United Nations have laid the groundwork for the self-driven future to come sooner than later. Reuters reports the U.N. Working Party on Traffic Safety received last month an amendment to Article 8 of the 1968 Vienna […]

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Mercedes-Benz S500 Autonomous Limo

While autonomous vehicles are still in the early stages of testing, a few of the European members of the United Nations have laid the groundwork for the self-driven future to come sooner than later.

Reuters reports the U.N. Working Party on Traffic Safety received last month an amendment to Article 8 of the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic backed by Germany, France, Italy, Belgium and Austria that would allow drivers of autonomous vehicles to take their hands off the wheel so long as as the vehicle’s system “can be overridden or switched off by the driver” at any time.

Should the amendment pass through the myriad of red tape within the organizing body, 72 countries — the United States, China and Japan withstanding — would have to work the new legislation into their law books.

The European-backed amendment now means automakers like Mercedes-Benz and BMW can move beyond testing their autonomous and semi-autonomous offerings toward delivery to showrooms throughout the continent, all without waiting for Google and other U.S. interests to bring the technology to market. Mercedes in particular delivered an S-Class limo in response to the search engine giant’s own efforts last August which drove the Bertha Benz route between Mannheim and Pforzheim, Germany without driver input.

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