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. Thu, 11 Sep 2014 17:31:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 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 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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Piston Slap: The Fallacy of Miata Ride Comfort? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/piston-slap-fallacy-miata-ride-comfort/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/piston-slap-fallacy-miata-ride-comfort/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 12:53:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=903449   TTAC Commentator johnny ro writes: Hi Sajeev, So I like my new 2010 Miata Touring (second car and half time daily driver), and picked it because it looked good on the side of the road by my house, low miles (19k), priced OK(mid 14′s), I had the dough saved up for a bike and […]

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photo courtesy: www.flyinmiata.com

TTAC Commentator johnny ro writes:

Hi Sajeev,

So I like my new 2010 Miata Touring (second car and half time daily driver), and picked it because it looked good on the side of the road by my house, low miles (19k), priced OK(mid 14′s), I had the dough saved up for a bike and I am happy with the current Vstrom, and last but not least it is an automatic. The OEM suspension seems firm to me but obviously not race ready. Roads in Northeast are usually not-so-new ranging down to horrible. Miata people say its mushy and floaty, those who want to autocross or race.

It’s body is stiffer than my 1999 was. The 1999 benefited from chassis stiffeners- new frame rails, X-brace underneath, frog arms under the front fenders, door bars. Still a small noisy uncomfortable car for more than an hour. The 2010 is a bit more comfortable. For the 2006-2014 there are also aftermarket body stiffeners and plenty of suspension upgrades all meant to improve track performance.

What I really want is a GT, not a race car. I am not interested in more power.

Question for the best and brightest, should I bother stiffening the body on an automatic Miata?

What suspension would make it more civilized without less comfort?

Am I better off buying a true GT? What GT for $14k.

Sajeev answers:

When someone complains about a stock one, the words “Miata Ride Comfort” make no sense together. Instead do an LSX-FTW swap so you’ll rarely have the time to focus on the punishing ride. And no, I’m only partially kidding.

To wit, a friend once asked if their Miata wouldn’t punish one’s lower back with the upgraded leather slip covers from a Grand Touring model: what a load of trash! Leather seats aren’t magically wrapped around Fleetwood Brougham thrones, or even CamCord thrones. Time to suck it up and buy a more comfortable car.

“What I really want is a GT, not a race car.”

Oh wait, you already admitted that.  Why? Chassis stiffeners cannot cut the impact harshness from a pothole, they help the suspension/steering/braking systems work as intended in spirited driving on imperfect roads.  Which totally isn’t the same thing.

And if there is a softer-than-stock suspension (not likely) it won’t help enough. Considering roadster levels of suspension travel, seat cushion padding, short wheelbase, light weight (to some extent), low-ish profile tires, a quite-modest sprinkling of NVH reducing materials…see where I’m going with this?

Go find a pre-engineered GT car!  A Mazda 3 or 6 sedan is a logical and practical step backward, but perhaps there are too many doors.  Maybe a Mazda 2? Maybe a somewhat used Mustang? Not refined enough.  A fairly used 3-series?  If you know a good indie-BMW mechanic and don’t mind paying them.  A garage-queen C5 Corvette with Magnaride and conventional (not run-flat) tires?  Entirely possible.

 

 

Or just suck it up and maraud your way to love…

 

 

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(photo courtesy: www.empireautos11.com)

…Panther Love…

…SON!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

 

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Junkyard Find: 1971 BMW 1602 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1971-bmw-1602/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1971-bmw-1602/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=902930 Flawless examples of the BMW New Class are worth plenty, but ratty project cars are another story; the flow of 1602s and 2002s into self-service wrecking yards continues unabated. So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’73, this ’73, this ’74, and now today’s find, a no-rust California 1602. Now, before you Rust Belt […]

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12 - 1971 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinFlawless examples of the BMW New Class are worth plenty, but ratty project cars are another story; the flow of 1602s and 2002s into self-service wrecking yards continues unabated. So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’73, this ’73, this ’74, and now today’s find, a no-rust California 1602. Now, before you Rust Belt BMW fanatics start emailing me about this car, be aware that I shot these photos last October, which means that this car got crushed, shredded, and melted down at least six months ago.
09 - 1971 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s rough, and there’s probably hidden rust due to leaky weatherstripping and long, rainy California winters, but this car wouldn’t have been a terribly difficult restoration project. However, it would have cost $12,000 to make this into a $7,000 car, hence the junkyard trip.
14 - 1971 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinHere’s a 2000 San Francisco residential parking permit, without which your car will be ticketed, towed, auctioned off, and (probably) crushed in the most ruthless parking environment I’ve ever experienced. This Area S permit worked in parts of the Mission District, Noe Valley, and the Castro, all areas in which my ’65 Impala spent a lot of time.
02 - 1971 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior had been picked over pretty well at the time I photographed this car, and I’ll wager that the instrument cluster didn’t go to The Crusher.
04 - 1971 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinI had one of these cool-looking hazard-light switches in my ’58 Beetle, way back in my earliest junkyard-crawling days.

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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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What’s In The Case? Saudi Prince Experiences “Ronin” In Real Life http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/whats-case-saudi-prince-experiences-ronin-real-life/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/whats-case-saudi-prince-experiences-ronin-real-life/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 15:10:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=894258 A real-life scenario akin to the movie “Ronin” played out on a Paris highway, after armed men attacked a convoy carrying a Saudi prince, making off with roughly $334,000 in cash and “sensitive documents”. According to The Globe and Mail, The convoy had been heading for Le Bourget airport north of the city. Witnesses told police […]

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A real-life scenario akin to the movie “Ronin” played out on a Paris highway, after armed men attacked a convoy carrying a Saudi prince, making off with roughly $334,000 in cash and “sensitive documents”.

According to The Globe and Mail,

The convoy had been heading for Le Bourget airport north of the city. Witnesses told police a group of heavily armed men attacked the last car in the convoy near Porte de la Chapelle at around 9 p.m. and drove off in it. Agence France-Presse, citing police sources, said they were armed with handguns, though earlier media reports said they had Kalashnikov rifles.

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The vehicle in question was a “Mercedes minivan”, with only a driver on board. One of the attacker’s vehicles, a burnt out E90 BMW 3-Series, was later recovered. No shots were fired in the incident, sparing a “a bit of raspberry jam” from being spilled.

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BMW’s X4 Era Begins http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/bmws-x4-era-begins/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/bmws-x4-era-begins/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 12:21:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=894138 BMW USA reported their first X4 sales in July 2014, 262 in all. Former and even current BMW fans are apt to be disgusted by the notion of a less practical, more costly X3, particularly if those fans are in the large group of onlookers who also believe the X4 is the less stylish option, […]

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BMW X4BMW USA reported their first X4 sales in July 2014, 262 in all.

Former and even current BMW fans are apt to be disgusted by the notion of a less practical, more costly X3, particularly if those fans are in the large group of onlookers who also believe the X4 is the less stylish option, as well.

Yet while the X6 hasn’t become a high-volume product for BMW, it hasn’t had a negative impact on its X5 donor vehicle. Likewise, it’s unlikely that the X4 will eat into the X3’s volume, at least not to the extent that lost X3 sales won’t be made up by the additional X4s.

Of the 26,409 BMWs sold in the United States in July 2014, 23% were X models (not including xDrive variants of BMW passenger cars.)

Sales of the X1 plunged 54% to 1003 units, the X1’s lowest monthly U.S. sales total since its first month on the market in August 2012. BMW USA averaged just over 2200 monthly X1 sales in 2013, but that average has fallen below 1800 units in 2014; below 1100 units over the last four months. Year-to-date, X1 sales are down 13%.

X3 sales are up 43% this year but slid 25%, a loss of 534 units, in July 2014. With 23,367 sales so far this year, the X3 leads the Mercedes-Benz GLK by 859 units and the Audi Q5 by 250 units. Acura has sold 25,881 copies of the RDX so far this year. It’s a hugely competitive sector.

Second quarter X6 volume slid 19%, but July sales shot up 216% to 669 units, 11% of BMW’s X model sales. July marked the third-highest-volume X6 sales month in the last two years. Annually, X6 sales peaked at 6749 units in the United States in 2012 but fell 18% in 2013, the model’s sixth year on the market. Contrast the X6’s 669 July sales with 384 6-Series sales, 544 7-Series sales, and 638 2-Series (and leftover 1-Series) sales to gain greater perspective on the X6’s relative popularity.

Even with a bit of help from the X4, BMW’s five SAVs declined 13% in July, although the three higher-end models – X4, X5, and X6 – combined for a 25% improvement. Through the end of July, these five models are up 11%.

Lexus generated a 23% improvement between the surging GX, LX, and preium-leading RX in July. With 11,861 sales, they produced 43% of Lexus’s U.S. sales total during a month in which Lexus outsold all other premium brands. Acura’s three crossovers, including seven ZDX sales, were up 3% to 9822 units, 79% of Acura’s July sales.

Mercedes-Benz sold 9038 Gs, GLs, GLKs, and MLs in July, a 9% improvement. These four vehicles accounted for 33% of the non-Sprinter Benzes sold in America last month. Cadillac’s new Escalade powered a 26% gain from the brand’s three high-riding products, the regular wheelbase Escalade, Escalade ESV, and SRX. 8493 were sold in total, 56% of all Cadillac sales.

Audi’s 5001 Q5 and Q7 sales represented a 1% increase, and 34% of the brand’s total July sales. Land Rover’s 4643 sales (up 15%) produced 80% of Jaguar-Land Rover’s volume. Aided by 1534 MKC sales, Lincoln’s four utilities were up 48%, or 1485 units, to 4557, 58% of Lincoln’s total volume.

Infiniti’s four SUVs and crossovers were down 5% last month to 3783 sales, 44% of Infiniti’s total volume. Porsche sold 2498 Cayennes and Macans, a 60% year-over-year increase. They accounted for 58% of all Porsche sales. Volvo sold 2112 XC60s and XC90s, a 17% decline. The XC60 and XC90 were responsible for 43% of Volvo’s July volume.

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Utilities, Automakers Collaborate On Smart PHEV Charging Platform http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/utilities-automakers-collaborate-smart-phev-charging-platform/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/utilities-automakers-collaborate-smart-phev-charging-platform/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 11:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=877810 A combination of one research institute, eight automakers and 15 utilities are working together to create a smart grid charging platform for PHEVs. Autoblog Green reports General Motors, BMW, Honda, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi and Toyota, as well as utilities like Con Edison, Manitoba Hydro and the TVA, are working with the Electric […]

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2015 Chevrolet Spark EV

A combination of one research institute, eight automakers and 15 utilities are working together to create a smart grid charging platform for PHEVs.

Autoblog Green reports General Motors, BMW, Honda, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi and Toyota, as well as utilities like Con Edison, Manitoba Hydro and the TVA, are working with the Electric Power Research Institute to develop a demand charging platform where the PHEV and the utility exchange information that would reduce the former’s charging during peak hours, then boost it back up during off-peak.

In turn, such a system would allow for increased service reliability for all customers “by helping to mitigate the impact of strain on the grid during peak periods and could contribute to curbing greenhouse gas emissions.” Further, utilities would better be able to manage usage without needing to upgrade their infrastructure, with the savings passed on to their customer base.

As for when this project would get off the ground, no timeline was given as of this time.

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Generation Why: A Sub-$30k Car “Wouldn’t Be A Lexus” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/generation-sub-30k-car-wouldnt-lexus/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/generation-sub-30k-car-wouldnt-lexus/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 14:45:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=877265 Mercedes and Audi all have a sub-$30,000 entry in their American model ranges. BMW’s cheapest model is just a few hundred dollars above that price point. Infiniti will likely have their own model in that space. So why not Lexus? Speaking to Automotive News, Lexus boss Mark Templin said “We could go down and build a […]

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Mercedes and Audi all have a sub-$30,000 entry in their American model ranges. BMW’s cheapest model is just a few hundred dollars above that price point. Infiniti will likely have their own model in that space. So why not Lexus?

Speaking to Automotive News, Lexus boss Mark Templin said

“We could go down and build a car under $30,000, but it would be decontented, and you’d be cutting corners. It wouldn’t be a Lexus…To be honest with you, you can’t build a Lexus with the quality, the durability, the reliability, the craftsmanship, the content that we put in a Lexus and sell it profitably under $30,000. You just can’t do it.”

Templin’s comments are about as clear a swipe at the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA as one can get. While CLA sales have been big for Benz (as much as 11 percent of the brand’s total, by AN‘s count), reviews have been mixed.

Mercedes-Benz, like other European luxury brands, face an additional dilemma beyond the usual matters of scale, volume and profitability requirements associated with those issues. In many mature markets, their buyers are getting older, while a new generation of buyers is both moving away from cars, and arguably less able to afford a new luxury car. Products like the CLA and A3 offer an affordable entry-point into the brand, while also appealing to the aesthetic, environmental and economic tastes of the Millennial generation. Lexus doesn’t necessarily have this problem in the same way that the Germans do, but they also don’t have much of a presence in Europe either.

What Lexus is doing, as AN pointed out, is attempting to stake out the “high ground” by keeping the price floor above $30,000 (the entry-level CT hybrid starts at about $32,000), which will ostensibly further entrench their “luxury” position. But Lexus, for all its success, has never achieved true global success as a luxury brand, which is something that only the Germans have managed to earn. And as we all know, it’s easier to reach downmarket than try and move up. The A-Class was a hit for Mercedes, but Volkswagen didn’t fare well with the Phaeton. And Audi is just finally turning the corner after a decades long climb to Tier 1.

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Question Of The Day: Who Will Win The Luxury Compact Crossover Sales Race? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/question-of-the-day-who-will-win-the-luxury-compact-crossover-sales-race/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/question-of-the-day-who-will-win-the-luxury-compact-crossover-sales-race/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:28:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=875425 With pricing for the Audi Q3 and Mercedes-Benz GLA announced, the fight for the luxury compact crossover sales crown is officially on. It’s going to be the most important battle of the year for the luxury car market. Crossovers are, without a doubt, the hottest sales segment right now, and one of the most profitable […]

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With pricing for the Audi Q3 and Mercedes-Benz GLA announced, the fight for the luxury compact crossover sales crown is officially on. It’s going to be the most important battle of the year for the luxury car market.

Crossovers are, without a doubt, the hottest sales segment right now, and one of the most profitable segments for OEMs. Take some normal car underpinnings, add a bit of cladding, a higher ride height and a two-box body and all of a sudden, you can charge a hefty premium over what you’d normally have to sell a sedan for. And what better way to lower your CAFE rating than to sell a ton of “light trucks” that get the kind of fuel economy that you’d normally find in a compact or mid-size car? These little trucklets/wagonlets are going to float the ability of the German brands to keep making AMG, M and RS cars by keeping things kosher with the Feds. Remember that when you bemoan the lack of wagons on sale today.

Audi’s Q3 starts at $33,325, versus $29,900 for an A3, though the Q3, unlike the A3, does come standard with AWD .  The Q3 is front-drive, but it does have a 2.0T engine, unlike the A3′s 1.8T mill. A Mercedes-Benz GLA starts at $32,225 for a front-drive model versus $29,900 for a front-drive CLA. The one wildcard is the BMW X1, which is both rear-wheel drive and $30,900, making it the cheapest BMW in the entire model range.

I’m going to put my money on the Q3 taking the crown, just because Audi is very much the brand of the moment. This segment is a fickle, fashion-driven one, and products live and die by how cool they are. The Audi A3 quickly toppled the Mercedes-Benz CLA from the small sedan sales charts, and this won’t be any different.

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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 Z4, Toyota Supra To Become Blood Brothers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-z4-toyota-supra-to-become-blood-brothers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-z4-toyota-supra-to-become-blood-brothers/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 15:31:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863545 Much like the long-rumored Alfa Romeo Spider/Mazda MX-5 tie-up, Toyota will be entering into a similar arrangement with BMW for their next Z4, and the return of the Toyota Supra. The Nikkei reports that this will be the first tangible result of BMW and Toyota’s collaboration. The vehicles are expected to debut in 2017, and be […]

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Much like the long-rumored Alfa Romeo Spider/Mazda MX-5 tie-up, Toyota will be entering into a similar arrangement with BMW for their next Z4, and the return of the Toyota Supra.

The Nikkei reports that this will be the first tangible result of BMW and Toyota’s collaboration. The vehicles are expected to debut in 2017, and be sold as distinct products under their own brands. The idea of a Supra and a Z4 sharing a common link may be unfathomable to loyalists of both brands, but in the current economic climate, the need for scale trumps all other concerns.

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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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BMW Harald Kruger + Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto

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 M235i HR 04

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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Vellum Venom Vignette: World Industrial Design Day http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/vellum-venom-vignette-world-industrial-design-day/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/vellum-venom-vignette-world-industrial-design-day/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 11:37:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=852745 This Sunday is World Industrial Design Day, a day when the ID Community brings awareness of this profession’s value. Though I left The College for Creative Studies with my tail between my legs, ID’s blending of business/entrepreneurship, art and science still charms me.  So let’s examine two ignition keys that owe their existence to the […]

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This Sunday is World Industrial Design Day, a day when the ID Community brings awareness of this profession’s value. Though I left The College for Creative Studies with my tail between my legs, ID’s blending of business/entrepreneurship, art and science still charms me.  So let’s examine two ignition keys that owe their existence to the craft known as industrial design.

The BMW i8 is a revolutionary piece of Transportation Design. The i8′s key is no slouch in the Industrial Design department. Without rehashing what others say, it’s clear that Industrial Designers took the best attributes of the i8, the smart phone and today’s latest ignition keys to make something stunning.

i8-craddle

Not to mention the i8′s key fob has a style that looks great in your hand and (sorta) blends into the assertive wedge forms present on the i8 console.  It’s a great piece of Industrial Design that forces you to consider how an Industrial Designer enriched your automotive hobby/career.

Take this “utility” key for example:

In some respects the Ford Pinto was an underrated piece of Engineering and Industrial Design. Sure, it needed that rubber pad to protect the gas tank from the rear axle.  But when it comes to simple, durable and honest Design, the Pinto worked.

Certainly not VW Beetle stylish nor Honda Civic enlightened, but dig this key: once cut for your ignition this baby gapped spark plugs, screwed down anything under the hood, let you crack open a beer and then fire up the beast so you can drive with a cold brew in your hand while you keep on truckin!!! 

Perhaps I got that last part wrong, so I am ready for the Best and Brightest to correct my weak Nixon Era Ford knowledge. But the Pinto utility key looks like the coolest gadget to have in your pocket in the early 1970s.  What the hell is an Apple iPhone anyway?  Sounds like gibberish talk of those nattering nabobs of negativism!

Just make sure you know which gap on the gapping tool is the right one for your engine.

Nice job integrating the Pinto logo and patriotic color scheme on a tool that elegantly and cheaply combines many things into a small hunk of metal. And that’s the heart of Industrial design: it plays a crucial role in dreaming, engineering (in theory) and producing exceptional products. The bottle opener is a bizarre feature by today’s standards, but it proves yesteryear was a simpler and stupider time.

And the Pinto/i8 keys do show how Industrial Design advanced over the decades. So to you, dear reader, Happy World Industrial Design Day!

Thank you for reading and have a fantastic weekend.

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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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BMW’s Fleet Special http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bmws-fleet-special/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bmws-fleet-special/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 14:36:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=850930   A vast number of new cars sold in the United Kingdom end up going to fleet buyers, with strict guidelines dictating what can and cannot be purchased for a company fleet. One of the main stipulations is “no coupes”. But BMW seems to have found a way around that. The 3-Series is already a […]

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418d

 

A vast number of new cars sold in the United Kingdom end up going to fleet buyers, with strict guidelines dictating what can and cannot be purchased for a company fleet. One of the main stipulations is “no coupes”. But BMW seems to have found a way around that.

The 3-Series is already a popular “executive car”, especially as a company car for upper management. BMW UK claims that 60 percent of 3-Series buyers are from corporate fleets. But the new 4-Series coupe will obviously fail to pass muster. But with the 4-door 4-Series Gran Coupe (aka fastback), BMW is betting big that it will emulate the 3-Series’ success.

Just-Auto reports that the Gran Coupe will get an exclusive 418d trim level targeted at fleets. The 418d will make 143 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, but also emit 121 grams of CO2 per km (just shy of the magic 100 gram mark), enabling better fuel consumption and more favorable road taxes.

 

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Ur-Turn: So Close, Yet So Far Away http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/ur-turn-so-close-yet-so-far-away/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/ur-turn-so-close-yet-so-far-away/#comments Tue, 17 Jun 2014 12:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=845385 A whisper in your ear There’s a particularly notorious car doing the press rounds lately…well, was doing the rounds. If you’re feeling generous about my job title, you could say I was the last automotive journalist to have a go at the Dinan S3-R BMW 1M before the keys were handed to its permanent owner. […]

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A whisper in your ear

There’s a particularly notorious car doing the press rounds lately…well, was doing the rounds. If you’re feeling generous about my job title, you could say I was the last automotive journalist to have a go at the Dinan S3-R BMW 1M before the keys were handed to its permanent owner.

The night before the exchange I was fortunate enough to find myself at a popular Los Angeles Ramen bar, sitting across from the car’s steward during its tenure as darling of the automotive press. Over bowls of rendered pig cartilage he was kind enough to offer me a ride, but only if I could make it to his place promptly after dinner. I was saddled with a chore that evening, a favor to a friend and fellow journalist also seated at the table. Lucky for me, he happened to have been the first journalist to have driven the car and fully understood the little sport coupe’s appeal enough to warrant a detour on our impending cross-California errand.

At this point you are probably wondering why I haven’t actually said much about the car, and that’s because I barely drove it, just a few miles, though suffice to say redline was reached…several times. Still, what’s to tell about its performance that hasn’t been already? If you are reading this website, there is a good chance that you’ve already heard about its stiff but smooth and compliant suspension, fantastic and firm steering feel, and the delivery of its 444 hp in a manner befitting of a tuner car, which is to say, furiously and mostly at the top end.

So why review it at all? Because there is something that I think has remained unsaid (though perhaps tacitly implied) by other reviewers. Having had the good fortune in my life to drive a great many tuner cars, the usual feelings on exit lie somewhere between bemusement and inspiration to improve my own vehicle.  So often with modified cars it’s about the journey and not the destination. But obsession over details gives way to compulsion, confusion, and eventually trepidation about even taking the thing out of your garage. Not so with the Dinan 1M, while I’m certain the firm offers a degree of customization, you get what you get and what you get is good. At no point in my short time with the car did I think about what I could to my car to improve it, rather I thought about what I could do to improve my life that I might be able to drive it again.

Brief drives in supercars might evoke fits of euro-gentry fancy, but those fantasies are as ephemeral as the routes of entry to a permanent Monaco lifestyle. Driving the Dinan S3-R 1M doesn’t feel like a dream, it feels like a realistic goal you haven’t achieved yet. It isn’t a car you put a poster of on your wall that it might serve as the vector for ludicrous misappraisals about your own potential and self-worth, it’s a car that makes you want to get out there and make things happen. It’s the real car people should aspire to drive.

But of course, you have to find a BMW 1-Series M Coupe to make it happen. And that’s no easy task.

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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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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 Taketh, BMW Giveth (More Traction) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bmw-taketh-bmw-giveth-more-traction/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bmw-taketh-bmw-giveth-more-traction/#comments Fri, 06 Jun 2014 19:27:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=838681 Even though BMW foists upon us unfortunate derivative junk like the X4, 3-Series GT and 4-Series Gran Coupe (which, I’ve only recently just made sense of), at least they give us models like the 2-Series. Which just happened to get better for anyone who lives in the snowbelt. Later on this summer, xDrive AWD will […]

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Even though BMW foists upon us unfortunate derivative junk like the X4, 3-Series GT and 4-Series Gran Coupe (which, I’ve only recently just made sense of), at least they give us models like the 2-Series. Which just happened to get better for anyone who lives in the snowbelt.

Later on this summer, xDrive AWD will be available on both the 228i and the M235i, for an extra $1800. As much as the 228i might be the pur sang option, even moreso than the M235i, I would not hesitate to anger forum purists and Build Your Own window shoppers by ordering the xDrive version. Yes, I know that with proper snow tires and a modicum of skill, two wheel drive cars are just fine in the snow – I’ve driven two Miatas with LSDs and no ABS in dreadful winters, and I’ve never had a hairy moment. But there are times when I would have appreciated two extra driven wheels, and if I were in the market for this car, I’d have no qualms with forking over the extra $1,800. In my mind, it’s a WRX coupe with two fewer doors and a nicer interior.

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