With the 2004 X3, BMW offered a compact SUV a half-decade ahead of other German car manufacturers. So not long after Audi and Mercedes have introduced their first such vehicle BMW has an all-new second-generation X3. The first-generation X3 had its strengths, but its weaknesses tended to outweigh them, especially in the U.S. market. The larger X5 has outsold it on this side of the Atlantic many times over despite a higher price. Has BMW learned enough in the past seven years to address these weaknesses and keep ahead of the new competition?
BMW loves America, and to prove it, BMW is sending us a North American exclusive sports coupé and convertible. No, it is not some fabulous concept car turned production, its last year’s 335i cranked up a notch with some M3 parts and an exhaust system that’s too loud to be sold in the EU tossed in for good measure. Does that make the 335is the perfect 3 series? BMW tossed us the keys to one for a week to find out.
With its 2011 redesign the BMW 5-Series is now much more closely related to the 7-Series. It’s smoother, quieter, and–both for better and for worse–has the feel of a larger car. So, why would someone spend roughly $18,000 more for the 7? (Add another $3,900 for the extended wheelbase Li, and another $3,000 for AWD.) To find out, I took a 750Li xDrive for a spin after driving the new 550i.
Back in the 1980s, BMW was all about the compact, performance-oriented 3-Series. They also offered the 5 and 7, but these were greatly outsold by competing Mercedes. Seeking to expand well beyond its driving enthusiast base, BMW made its cars ever more stylish, luxurious, and laden with technology. Despite mixed reactions to the Bangled exteriors and iDrive, sales of the larger sedans grew even faster than their curb weights, and in recent years they have often outsold the E-Class and S-Class. A redesigned 2011 5-Series recently arrived at dealers. With the new car, has BMW further lost the plot, or rediscovered it?
Diesel clatter in a BMW is like watching Bullit to the tunes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. In other words, distasteful and illegal in 48 states. And yet, driving BMW’s new X1 is a surprisingly John Deere-like experience. Is this a BMW or the ultimate agricultural machine? Maybe this sort of confusion is the X1’s worst problem.
BMW is rapidly becoming the Swiss Army Knife of automobile brands. Elegant and well-trained coupes, estates and sedans? Check. Interested in CUVs of both respectable and questionable utility? They got you covered. Though the X6 and 5-series Gran Tourismo are answers to a question nobody asked, the smaller, racier 750i Sport treads dangerously into well established 5-series territory. And while the 5-er and 7-er’s pasts are more than a little intertwined, should history repeat itself?
Stop typing in the comments section about how another BMW won another comparison. If the BMW came second fiddle to the Audi or the Jaguar, you would be typing that the BMW got second only because it got first so many times before, and we were wrong. So first, second or last, the BMW gets this ranking based on merit, as I see it. Drive the top three, decide on your own. However, if I were to spend my hard earned money, I would purchase the “Ultimate Driving, all weather Sedan”, the BMW 535xi.
Once upon a time, in the free-wheeling era where Herr Bertel Schmitt was busy hiring rogue helicopter pilots and causing untold mischief in the European auto-advertising business, the major players in the German market each knew how to stick to their knitting. Mercedes-Benz built staid automobiles for taxi drivers and decent people. BMW offered a limited range of square-and-sporty sedans, Audi built avant-garde streamliners for the traction-avant set. Porsche, meanwhile, held an unspoken but very real franchise as the only volume producer of German sports cars.
Nearly New Germans Comparo: Second Place: BMW Z4M Roadster Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
Despite constant evolution, the BMW Z4 has always been something of an enigma. Quality issues, cabin constraints, questionable styling, not-quite-there handling, dubious tire choices and premium pricing have all bedeviled the sports car—although not all at the same time. Far be it for me to suggest that this lack of synthesis had anything to do with production in South Carolina. But it is strange—and a little reassuring—to know that this next gen Z4 is made in Regensburg, Germany. Less comforting to those of a sporting bent: it’s grown in width, length, wheelbase and weight. Once again, Mazda Miata lovers looking to upgrade need not apply.
Review: 2009 BMW Z4 sDrive35i Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 3/5 Stars
[written by TTAC commentator FreedMike] I’ve been shopping these two cars (much to the annoyance of the local BMW and Infiniti dealers, but, hey, it’s MY 40 large, not YOURS, so I’ll be picky if I wanna be). So I’m VERY familiar with them. I don’t know why TTAC’s comparison was between the 324-hp G37 and a 328 that gives up about 100 HP. The G37 will eat the 328 for lunch. The real comparison is between the G37 and the 335.
The 2009 750i is the car I was expecting from BMW back in 2002. That 7 turned out to be the poster child for automotive arrogance. It introduced flame surfacing [including the Bangle butt] and iDrive. The 2002 7-Series drove me right into the arms of Mercedes. Its controls were impossible to decipher, the ergonomics were infuriating and it was truly ugly. In the face of the criticism, BMW countered that their customers were too backwards to comprehend the brilliance and innovation inherent in the design. Sales continued– until they didn’t. The new 750i is a mechanical admission of corporate guilt that offers redemption for lovers of the pre-Bangle 7-Series.
Review: 2009 BMW 750i Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 3/5 Stars
M, RS, V, F, AMG. The alpha alphabet represents five manufacturers’ best efforts to create something unique, exciting and memorable from their more prosaic mainstream motors. The resulting “performance tuned” sports sedans are so powerful, so capable, so versatile, that they’re the ground based equivalent of the all-weather fighter jets that battle for control of the skies. While the shibboleth “there’s no such thing as a bad car” applies here, there are always going to be winners and losers. And it’s our job to sort the wheat from the chaff.
The BMW 3-Series has been the gold standard for small sports sedans since America had a gold standard. Well, it seems that way. The Ultimate Driving Machine has seen off the Germans (Mercedes C-Class, Audi A4), Americans (Cadillac CTS) and Japanese (Infiniti’s G-force). Repeatedly. Despite the min-Merc’s rep as a credible corner carver, it’s the Infiniti that’s posed the most dangerous threat to the 3′s rep. In fact, Infiniti’s persistence is the automotive equivalent of the posse in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Who are zees guys? These days, the G-Unit chases the 3 with a bigger engine, remapped power delivery and a Bimmer baiting tagline: “Beyond Machine.” We shall see . . .
They say the longer the job title, the smaller the job. In the automotive world, the longer the model name, the more hype, money and technology involved. For those of you new to this game, the BMW X5 xDrive 35d is BMW’s biggest SUV with all wheel-drive and a diesel engine. (No, it’s not a 3.5-liter powerplant, but alphanumerics outpaced pedantry a long time ago.) No matter what you call it, I’m an unabashed fan of the modern diesel-powered vehicle. With diesel more expensive that gas, and an intimate understanding of the overarching importance of depreciation, it’s not diesel’s fuel-efficiency that flicks my wick. I enjoy the beefy, progressive power delivery. The X5 xDrive 35d may be a belated entry into the diesel SUV market, but it’s no slacker underfoot.
Review: 2009 BMW X5 xDrive 35d Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 3/5 Stars
If you like to drive like your hair’s on fire, deciding between the athletic American 2008 Chevrolet Corvette hardtop coupe and the Bavarian corner carver 2008 BMW 335i is a bit like choosing between cocaine and cocaine. If you’re a more sensible motorist, it’s like choosing between A.H. Hirsch 16 Year Old Reserve Pot Stilled Sour Mash Straight Bourbon Whiskey and Schloss Rüdesheim VSOP brandy. in either case, the question is a matter of taste and price. Hence this test: which performance car offers the better buzz for $40k?
America v Germany: 1st Place – 2008 BMW 335i Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars