The Truth About Cars » M http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 02 Aug 2015 16:00:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 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 » M http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com 2015 BMW M235i Review (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-bmw-m235i-review-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-bmw-m235i-review-video/#comments Mon, 01 Jun 2015 11:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1076194 We’ve talked about BMW’s portfolio expanding faster than an American on a midwest diet before, but I’m going to do it again because it’s the key to understanding the 2-series in general and the M235i in particular. The M235i is not an M2, it is not a 235i M Sport, and it is more than […]

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2015 BMW M235i Exterior1

We’ve talked about BMW’s portfolio expanding faster than an American on a midwest diet before, but I’m going to do it again because it’s the key to understanding the 2-series in general and the M235i in particular.

The M235i is not an M2, it is not a 235i M Sport, and it is more than the former 135is. Are you confused yet? The M235i is the first of BMW’s “M Performance” vehicles which are not to be confused with “M Sport.”

Here’s how BMW’s new four-tier system works:

Things start with M Sport which is a “looks fast/handles well” package, then we get “is” which adds a dollop of performance, followed by the new M Performance where we put M in front of a three digit model number (M235i) denoting increased power, improved handling, improved braking and suspension tweaks, before going full-on-M.

In theory, the full treatment includes body modifications like wheel well enlargements, carbon fiber bits and a dual-clutch transmission. If you’re not totally confused yet, continue reading.

OK, so we have an M that’s not an M, but there’s more you should know. The only “35” version of the 2-Series is the M235i. While the other sport variants exist in BMW’s lineup, they don’t all exist in the same model, so there is no 235i M Sport and no 235is. The other thing to know is the 2-Series is very closely related to the current generation BMW 3-Series and 4-Series, sharing crash structures, large portions of the engine bay, suspension design themes and even interior components. In some ways you could even say BMW now has two different coupé and two different convertible versions of the 3-Series. That last part is important because the M235i weighs 3,535 pounds, just 100 pounds less than the 435i. More amazing is the four-door 335i is just 60 pounds heavier.

2015 BMW M235i Exterior-005

The Competition
The 2-Series lacks natural competition, but this time it’s not part of BMW’s diabolical plan. By shrinking the 3-Series and removing two doors, the 2-Series is the only RWD entry in a sea of European front drivers. While that’s not too much of a problem if you are buying a car for weekend wine tasting, it is a big differentiator when we’re talking performance metal. Therefore, I put the CLA45 AMG, Audi S3 and Euro-only RS3 in a different category. The forthcoming Mercedes C-Class coupé will compete with the 4-Series and the Porsche Cayman and Cayman S lack rear seats. If you want a small RWD luxury coupé with a back seat, this is it.

If you don’t like my re-categorization of the CLA45, ponder this: it’s the same size as the Volvo S60 Polestar, delivers similar horsepower and is based on a FWD vehicle just like the Volvo. Would you stick the S60 in the M235i mash-up? I thought not.

2015 BMW M235i Exterior.CR2-003

Exterior
Although related to the 335i and weighing about the same, the M235i is notably more compact. At 175.9 inches long, our tester was nearly eight inches shorter than a 3-Series sedan or 4-Series coupé. Think of the 2-Series as the modern 318i. The lower, wider, longer look of the 2-Series certainly looks more elegant and refined than the older 1-Series, but I always thought the cartoonish proportions of the 1 were part of the charm.

Like the 318i, the 2-Series is the discount entry point for traditional BMW shoppers. We have the familiar kidney grille up front and the classic BMW side profile with a long hood and a perky trunk. The biggest clue to the 228i’s low starting price is out back where we get one-piece tail lamps that are part of the body instead of the split design where half of the lamp is on the trunk. This design change reduces costs while simultaneously reducing the dimensions of the trunk opening.

2015 BMW M235i Interior-001

Interior
At $32,100, the 2-Series is one of the least expensive BMWs in the USA, so you shouldn’t be surprised that it also has one of the least luxurious BMW interiors. That said, the 2-Series’ interior is closer to the 4-Series than you’d think in overall materials quality and fit-and-finish despite being $8,200 less expensive. (What does that say about the 4-Seires?) Compared to your average mass market vehicle around $30,000, the 2-Series’ interior looks better put together, but the luxury move toward pleather in base models still strikes me as a false economy.

M235i models get BMW’s comfortable sport seats as standard with power adjustable side bolsters, 4-way lumbar and a manually extending thigh cushion for both the driver and front passenger. Taller drivers will want to consider deleting the sunroof as seat comfort is epic but headroom is limited. Surprisingly, there’s almost as much space in the back seat as you’ll find in the 4-Series despite the wheelbase shrinking a few inches vs its bigger cousin. In fact, the 435i’s spec sheet claims just 7/10ths of an inch more room. Although the size difference between the 2 and the 4 can be explained by the smaller trunk, it’s only about one cube smaller leaving me to wonder where the eight-inch-stretch goes.

If the 2 and 4 are similarly sized inside, why get the 4? It’s all about features. BMW doesn’t offer heads up displays, blind spot monitoring, lane keeping systems or radar cruise control on the M235i for any price. 2-Series models also lack the range of color and trim options and the optional all-around camera you find on the 4. Also, while BMW describes the leather the same way on both models, the leather on a dealer provided 428i felt softer.

2015 BMW M235i Interior-005

Infotainment
The 2-Series gets essentially the same infotainment options as the 3-series and 4-series. Like the 3 and 4, basic Bluetooth and USB/iDevice support is standard. For $500 BMW adds the ability to pair two phones at the same time, browse your Bluetooth media library, voice command contacts and music, and use the BMW Mobile Office software. (Calendars, voice memos, emails, tasks, etc.) This “Enhanced USB” package used to be bundled with BMW’s navigation software, but not for 2015. If you want all that functionality and navigation, add that to the $2,150 navigation package that also adds smartphone app integration. The current app suite allows you to Facebook, tweet and stream internet radio from your iPhone to the car’s radio. Although iDrive is the most expensive infotainment system in this small segment, the tasteful high-res graphics, fast interface and superior phone integration also make this the system to beat – if you can afford it.

Because of the 2-Series’ entry-level position in the BMW line-up, the up-level sound system delivers 360-watts and 12-speakers instead of 600-watts and 16 speakers as in the 4-Series.

2015 BMW M235i Engine.CR2-001

Drivetrain
228i models use BMW’s familiar 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder tuned to 240 horsepower and 255 lb-ft while M235i models get a tweaked version of BMW’s single-turbo inline six. The 320 horsepower is the same as the outgoing 135is while torque bumps up to 330 lb-ft. If you opt for rear wheel drive, both engines are mated to your choice of a 6-speed manual transmission or a ZF 8-speed automatic. Sadly, selecting BMW’s xDrive system nixes the manual.

The availability of xDrive in M Performance models can be seen as a way to placate all-wheel drive fans while keeping “true” M models pure. Purity aside, driving all four wheels is the fastest way to speed with the M235i xDrive scooting to 60 mph 2/10ths faster than the RWD model. Purists will likely want to wait for the M2 which should be tuned to between 360 and 370 ponies.

2015 BMW M235i Exterior.CR2-002

Drive
The M235i offers an interesting dilemma for the driving enthusiast. If you want the fastest model, that’s the one with an automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The slowest is the rear wheel drive model with the manual. My how times have changed. What hasn’t changed is the most fun is had in the row-it-yourself rear driver. Our tester scooted to 60 in 5.0 seconds, which is a hair behind BMW’s quoted 4.8 seconds, mainly because traction is an issue and I wasn’t as willing to roast the clutch as some. Get the 8-speed auto and the sprint drops to 4.6 seconds. The AWD M235i xDrive will accomplish the task in 4.4. That’s faster than the S3 and, depending on the transmission, a hair faster than Mercedes’ CLA45 AMG. Thanks to the 200 pounds gained compared to the outgoing 135is, the M235i’s extra twist doesn’t compensate and it’ll be a hair slower. Want a Cayman that fast? Be prepared to shell out for a Cayman S, GTS or GT4.

Although the M235i weighs about the same as the 335i and the 435i, BMW manages to make it feel different out on the road. The quick steering rack, slightly shorter wheelbase and tweaked suspension design make the M235i feel more nimble. You’ll notice I said feel. If you put the same rubber on a 435i that our M235i wore, it’d likely post identical skidpad numbers. Anyway you slice it, the old 1M will out-handle the M235i. The combination of electric power steering and BMW’s variable gear ratio steering rack (dubbed Variable Sport Steering) can make the M235i twitchy and a hair lifeless at highway speeds. That said, the RWD M235i has more steering feedback and better poise than the front-heavy CLA45 or S3 can ever hope for. Adding AWD to the M235i doesn’t make it feel like a CLA45 or S3. The CLA45 and S3 have to keep the center coupling locked most of the time in order to avoid FWD dynamics, while the M235i xDrive keeps the power to the rear unless its needed up front.

2015 BMW M235i Shifter

All M235i models get BMW’s adaptive M suspension tuned more towards the daily driver side of things than I expected. Drop the suspension into Sport mode and things firm up, but no mode in this suspension will make it as hard as the M4, something I’m grateful for. While this also means a hair more tip, dive and body roll than a “true M car,” it means the M235i xDrive is a 4.4 second daily driver – rain or shine.

Because BMW has been slowly morphing into the new Mercedes, none of what I have said so far surprised me. What did surprise me was the M235i’s price tag. Priced between $43,100 for a base RWD model with either transmission and $55,825 for a fully loaded AWD model, the BMW seriously undercuts the spendy CLA45 AMG and is just $2,000 more than the slower Audi S3. The Porsche Cayman is almost as different from the M235i as the CLA45 AMG is, but be prepared to spend at least $20,000 more on a Cayman if you want similar performance figures.

2015 BMW M235i Exterior

BMW has created one of the best performance buys around with the M235i. But, if you’re looking for a light, “chuckable” BMW, you will need to keep waiting. The M235i is a hoot, but like most modern BMWs, it’s more grand tourer than sports car.

After a week with the M235i, one thought came to my mind: this is the perfect Mercedes SLK. It’s faster and more fun than an SLK 350, significantly less expensive without feeling that much cheaper, and has a usable back seat. This isn’t the raw and direct coupé BMW enthusiasts are longing for, and that’s exactly why I like it. As much as I appreciated my time with the 6-speed rear wheel drive M235i, I have to admit if my money were on the line I would buy the M235i xDrive. I still think that the myriad of BMW performance trims is insane and confusing, yet I have to wonder what a 500 horsepower M550i xDrive would be like.

BMW provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.3 Seconds

0-60: 5.0 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 13.8 Seconds @ 106 MPH

2015 BMW M235i Cargo Pass Thru 2015 BMW M235i Engine.CR2 2015 BMW M235i Engine.CR2-001 2015 BMW M235i Engine.CR2-002 2015 BMW M235i Exterior.CR2 2015 BMW M235i Exterior.CR2-001 2015 BMW M235i Exterior.CR2-002 2015 BMW M235i Exterior.CR2-003 2015 BMW M235i Exterior 2015 BMW M235i Exterior-001 2015 BMW M235i Exterior1 2015 BMW M235i Exterior-002 2015 BMW M235i Exterior-003 + 2015 BMW M235i Exterior-005 2015 BMW M235i Gauges 2015 BMW M235i Gauges-001 2015 BMW M235i Interior.CR2-001 2015 BMW M235i Interior 2015 BMW M235i Interior-001 2015 BMW M235i Interior-002 2015 BMW M235i Interior-003 2015 BMW M235i Interior-005 2015 BMW M235i Shifter 2015 BMW M235i Trunk 2015 BMW M235i Trunk-001

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Trend Setters and Trackday Drivers, How Cadillac Tries to Appeal to Diverse Customers, An Interview With Cadillac’s Marketing Chief http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/trend-setters-trackday-drivers-cadillac-tries-appeal-diverse-customers-interview-cadillacs-marketing-chief/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/trend-setters-trackday-drivers-cadillac-tries-appeal-diverse-customers-interview-cadillacs-marketing-chief/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 20:23:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=996810 I don’t know if it will help them sell cars are not, but Cadillac’s decision to move it’s business headquarters to the trendy Soho district of New York City has certainly gotten some attention as have Cadillac marketing maven Melody Lee’s comments related to the move and the potential customers they hope to reach by […]

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Full gallery here

2016 Cadillac CTS-V. Full gallery here

I don’t know if it will help them sell cars are not, but Cadillac’s decision to move it’s business headquarters to the trendy Soho district of New York City has certainly gotten some attention as have Cadillac marketing maven Melody Lee’s comments related to the move and the potential customers they hope to reach by making Cadillac into a more general luxury brand, not just a car company. When I saw that Lee’s boss, Jim Vurpillat, Global Marketing Director for Cadillac was going to be participating in a press event for the 2015 Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, because Cadillac has factory based teams running racing versions of the ATS in the Pirelli World Challenge, it seemed like a good opportunity to ask him how racing and the high performance V cars in Cadillac’s portfolio fit in with appealing to New York’s trendy set, a group not known for their love or horsepower or what they see as environmentally questionable motorsports.

Q. Where do motorsports and performance fit into Cadillac marketing? The people to whom you’re appealing by moving Cadillac HQ to Soho in NYC are not the same people who are drawn to high performance V cars and Motorsports.

A. The move realy isn’t about that. How we look at performance is that racing proves the performance credentials of the V series and the V series provides performance credentials to the overall Cadillac brand. So they’re intrinsically linked together.

Q. So you don’t see a conflict between that and making Cadillac into a fashionable luxury brand?

A. No because luxury by it’s definition is pretty broad. When you look at the luxury landscape you’ve got performance series like [BMW’s] M, [Mercedes-Benz’s] AMG, [Cadillac’s] and V series and you have a group of audience for that. You have things like alternative propulsion, electrification, so there are things like our ELR, [BMW’s] i cars, hybrids. You have to be very diverse and your portfolio has to be diverse.

The key though is that when you do a car, that it has to have really a sense of no compromise. So, with our V cars, especially the new ones that we’re releasing, they’re a great daily driver as a luxury car but then they’re certainly a track capable machine.

What we’ve seen since we’ve gotten back into racing in the last four years is that we’ve grown the enthusiasm for the V brand, not just among our owners, and dealers but there’s more and more people…

Q. Back in the early 1950s after Cadillac introduced the first modern OHV V8, Cadillac was all about performance and competed in the Panamerica races in Mexico.

A. That’s still the case today.

Q. Getting back to the New York move, don’t you think that motorsports and performance might turn off the crowd that’s attracted to the plug in hybrid ELR? Enthusiasts have the impression that New York is not a car friendly city.

A. No, I don’t think so. New York is the single largest market for luxury cars in the United States, it’s also the largest performance market. You have to remember that the greater metropolitan area includes Connecticut, Westchester County, northern New Jersey, down into mid Jersey and Pennsylvania, Long Island, so it’s huge. When you’re there and you drive around you see luxury cars everywhere, so I don’t think there’s a risk at all. With luxury buyers, one of the pillars of building a strong luxury brand is a strong performance element and it’s been an element that we’ve been lacking a little bit, trailing BMW and Mercedes and Audi.

So racing supports that, we’ve seen that enthusiasm. We like to use the V cars… When we did the first generation, when we did the first CTS-V, it shocked people. Then when we did the next generation CTS, people asked, “are you going to do a V?” Now, with the third generation CTS and the ATS, people are like, “Where are the Vs?” We said they’re going to come and now they’re here.

We’ve seen that progression of V and I think directly, racing, especially this last four years with the Pirelli World Challenge, we’ve seen that interest.

Q. What’s the return on investment? Does Cadillac track sales results from motorsports?

A. We measure all of our events so when we’re at a track, and we activate, like at the Detroit Grand Prix, and we ask for people’s names and information, we track who signs up at the booth and then we measure that in sales. I can tell you that it has a huge ROI. Racing is very strong. We oversell Vs as a percentage to racing fans but the number one vehicle that we sell to people who come to a racetrack is the SRX [crossover], which is our number one selling car in general.

Q. Crossovers are one area where Cadillac’s portfolio is weak.

A. We’re going to see an expansion of that. At the end of the day we see what racing is doing is showcasing to people Cadillac and Cadillac performance and then they’re going into a showroom and picking a Cadillac. And they walk away with something like an SRX or ATS, which is exactly what we want.

Q. Is there going to be a V version of the upcoming CT-6?

A. We’re discussing that. It won’t be a V series. We’re still building a brand, we think that at the core we have to be very tight with what what gets badged a V series. Some of our competitors are far more.. they’re expanding their AMG offerings at Benz. We think that as we build the brand we have to be very focused on what a V is. If the car or the vehicle can’t deliver that.. we get asked all the time “Why can’t we have a V series Escalade?”

Q. Cadillac has had some concept car hits with the Ciel and Elmiraj, and a brand can’t really be considered a luxury marque if it doesn’t compete with the big boys, the S-Class and 7 Series cars. If Cadillac really wanted to assert itself in the luxury field, why not build them? What could they cost, $125,000?

A. As you build a portfolio, you have to have a long term vision and you can’t stretch too far. You can always use this example: When we did the first generation CTS, everyone was like, oh my, a small, little Cadillac. Then five years later, when we introduced the next CTS we got, “When are you going to do a car smaller than the CTS?” and we brought out the ATS. If we had first come out with a car the size of the ATS it would have been too far.

You have to build out from the middle, then to [consider to] do a vehicle like the Elmiraj, to do a vehicle the four door [convertible] Ciel, but is it too far up here? Fill in your main segments first.

It’s no joke, between now and 2020, we’re spending $12 billion on Cadillac, our portfolio will be extremely added to in that time.

Q. You said we will not see an Escalade V, but there are credibly performing luxury SUVs and crossovers like the SRT Grand Cherokee, Audi AQ5, as well as the Porsche Cayenne and Macan. There’s clearly a market subsegment there. Since a lot of the growth in crossover sales are the result of the changing attitudes of female consumers who drive (no pun intended) about 80% of consumer purchases in general, is offering a performance crossover one way of appealing to men.

A. Performance cars are decidedly, when we look at Ms and Vs and AMGs you know it’s 90% male. When we get into the higher performance cars, like the M5, it’s about 98%. Women like the performance when they have it, it’s just different where they put the emphasis.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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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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Review: 2012 BMW M6 Convertible http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/review-2012-bmw-m6-convertible/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/review-2012-bmw-m6-convertible/#comments Thu, 23 Aug 2012 13:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=456668 When the “F01″ 7-Series arrived in 2008 followed by the “F10″ 5-Series in 2009, I saw the writing on the wall; BMW is the new Mercedes. My theory was “proved” after a week with the 2011 335is and 2012 X5M. BMW fans decried my prophesy as blasphemy. I repeated my statement with the 2012 328i […]

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When the “F01″ 7-Series arrived in 2008 followed by the “F10″ 5-Series in 2009, I saw the writing on the wall; BMW is the new Mercedes. My theory was “proved” after a week with the 2011 335is and 2012 X5M. BMW fans decried my prophesy as blasphemy. I repeated my statement with the 2012 328i and caught the eye of egmCarTech. A Mercedes fan tried to run me over in a parking lot. My colleagues in the press thought I lost my mind. BMW’s media watchers were eerily silent. A month later I was told that BMW would allow me a week in the all-new 2012 M6 Convertible. Would the most expensive M car change my mind or prove the point once and for all?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

The previous 6 suffered from Chris Bangle’s posterior, a design that was either loved or hated. The new 6 replaces the awkward trunk with curves and creases that seem to please everyone. Despite being lower and wider than a 650i with plenty of unique sheetmetal, the casual observer was unable to tell just how much was altered to create the M6. Who knew the M6 would be a sleeper?

BMW continues to employ a soft top with “classic” 6-Series buttresses on either side of the rear glass, bucking the retractable hardtop trend that’s sweeping the three-pointed star. Aside from the weight benefits, the canvas lid maximizes trunk space, has less impacted on weight balance when the top is down, and most importantly: it operates at speeds up to 25MPH. Compared to the Jaguar XK-R, the M6 is larger and more aggressive. Thankfully, as aggressive as the M6 looks, the profile and details are more elegant than the Mercedes SL63 whose hood vents and trunk spoiler look overdone.

Interior

Inside the changes to the 650i donor car are less dramatic and limited to trim tweaks, lightly restyled seats, new steering wheel, and M-themed shifter. Despite sharing heavily with the plebeian 640i, the cabin is completely at home in a $120,000 luxury coupe with perfect stitched dashboard seams and soft leather everywhere. The only problem I found is the steering column shared with the lesser models. The M6’s airbag is considerably smaller, perfectly round and in the center of a thin three-spoke tiller making the rectangular plastic steering column extremely visible.

During my week with the M6 I acted as a quasi-pace-car driver for a 40-mile charity walk. Four of us spent two 10-hour days driving from one stop to another and hours in the seats getting sunburnt waiting for the walkers to arrive at the next stop. Normally four people jammed into a luxury convertible would be a trying experience, but  the M6 was surprisingly comfortable with a useable back seat and supportive front seats. In comparison, the XK’s rear seats are more of a joke than an actual feature, the Mercedes SL doesn’t have any back seats and the Maserati GranCabrio has a similar amount of legroom but awkwardly angled seat backs.

Infotainment & Gadgets

As with most modern BMW products, the M6 comes with BMW’s standard 10.2-inch iDrive system. Unfortunately the minor tweaks made to the new 3-series have not made it to the 6-Series meaning you still have a CD button rather than a media button and the head-up display won’t show you infotainment info. If you want to know more about iDrive, checkout our video on the 2012 650i or click on over to the 650i Coupe and 650i Convertible reviews.

For some reason, BMW’s excellent radar cruise control is not available on the M6, but the rest of the 6-Series’ gadgetry can be added. Our M6 was equipped with the $4,900 “Executive Package” which included full LED headlamps, a heated steering wheel, satellite radio, anti-fatigue front seats, soft-closing doors and BMW’s “apps” package for iDrive. Should your gadget-love know no budget; lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, all-around video camera and electronic speed limit info can be had for $1,900. Ventilated front seats are a $500 stand alone option, as is the $2,600 night vision system with pedestrian detection. The essential option is the $3,700 Bang & Olufsen sound system. The standard 12-speaker BMW audio system is balanced strangely toward the bright side of normal. If you’re throwing down six figures on your topless weekend car, checking this option box won’t hurt.

iDrive alone puts the M6 at the top of the gadget lover’s list, but let’s compare anyway. With a starting price over $30,000 higher than the M6, the SL63 brings active lane keep assist and radar cruise control to the party but lacks BMW’s night vision, all-around camera, anti-fatigue seats, LED headlamps and, let’s face it, COMAND should be sent out to pasture. The XKR-S looses this battle as well with a $20,000 premium, Jaguar’s aggravating infotainment system, and no gadgets to speak of.

Drivetrain

With CAFE regulations looming, twin-turbo engines are the latest craze for luxury marques and even BMW’s mighty M division has caved. The result is a step backwards and forwards with the bespoke V10 replaced by a modified version of BMW’s 400HP 4.4L twin-turbo V8 (N63). The same basic engine (S63) first debuted under the hood of the 555HP X5M and X6M. For M5 and M6 duty, BMW tweaked the engine by adding Valvetronic, increasing the compression ratio from 9.3:1 to 10:1 and bumping peak boost. The result is a minor increase in horsepower to 560 and a flattening of the power curve from a peak at 6,000RPM, to a plateau from  5,750-7,000. Torque remains steady at a stump-pulling 500lb-ft but broadens to 1,500-5,750RPM. BMW revised the 7-speed “M-DCT” dual clutch transmission from the last M5/M6 and tossed in a new electronic rear differential. While not strictly a drivetrain change, BMW swapped the floating rear subframe for a fixed unit to improve handling and power delivery.

In comparison, the Jaguar XKR-S delivers 550HP and 502lb-ft of twist from its blown 5.0L V8 and the all-new Mercedes SL63 offers your choice of 530HP/557lb-ft or 590HP/664lb-ft from AMG’s new 5.5L twin-turbo V8. Jaguar has continues to stick to the tried-and-true ZF 6-speed automatic while Mercedes continues their love affair with their 7-speed automatic sans torque converter. While each of these transmission types has an advantage, BMW claims their M-DCT transmission shifts in half the time of the competition.

Drive

It often takes a week for me to decide how I like a car. With the M6 it took 50 miles. Why? Because of how well BMW has blended savage acceleration with a soft luxurious ride and comfy seats. The M6 has turned into the ultimate road trip convertible.

Don’t get me wrong, the M6 is a serious performance contender. Bury the throttle and 60 passes in 3.75 seconds followed shortly by a blistering 11.89 second 1/4 mile at an eye popping 123MPH. These numbers are without launch control which, strangely enough, elevated our times by about 3/10ths. Just let the nannies do their thing. The numbers below show the M6 “suffers” slight turbo lag from 0-30. From 30-60, the M6 is a beast taking 0.70 fewer seconds than the XKR-S. By 120MPH the lighter weight of the Jaguar helps it stay right on the heels of the BMW. By the end of the 1/4 mile, the BMW finishes ahead by a car length. My seat time in the SL63 was limited and we weren’t able to get it out on the track, but don’t expect it to be much faster to 60. Despite the serious power advantage, the rear tires are skinnier than the Jag or BMW and traction is king.

2012 Jaguar XKR-S           2012 BMW M6 Convertible

0-30: 1.18 Seconds                 1.8 (Thank the turbos for that)

0-60: 3.83 Seconds                 3.75 (It’s all about the torque curve baby)

0-120: 11.84 Seconds             11.80 (curb weight means something)

1/4 mile: 12.0 @ 122 MPH       11.89 @ 123 MPH

A word about 0-60 numbers. With high horsepower cars, traction is the limiting factor. Because road surfaces, tires, etc. vary greatly. Our track times cannot be directly compared to other publications as they are not performed on the same surface – nevertheless, we’re all in the same ballpark. We use a 10Hz GPS meter for our testing. According to the manufacturer,accuracy is  +/-0.2MPH on 0-60 runs and +/-0.4MPH on 1/4 mile tests. According to our drag-strip verification, the system is within +/-0.3MPH over a 1/4 mile.

Out on the track, the XKR-S and M6 are well matched. While the XKR-S is a bit heavier in the nose and has narrower tires up front, the rear seems to find grip more easily and the steering is more direct and responsive. The English competitor is also 429lb lighter with a firmer suspension, less body roll and an absolutely savage 0-30 time. The M6 counters with lightning fast dual-clutch shifts and seemingly endless mid-range power. For 2012, BMW polished M-DCT’s software and the result is one of the smoothest “robotic manuals” I have ever driven. I’d like to compare it to the Mercedes SPEEDSHIFT transmission in the SL63, but I still have harsh-shift related whiplash from my test drive.

On the broken roads of Northern California, it’s a different story. BMW’s adaptive suspension makes the M6 more composed than the SL or XKR-S on broken pavement, even at higher speeds. It’s not that the Jag or Merc are unrefined by any measure, its that the M6 rides like a 7-Series while it handles like an overweight M3. Thank you modern technology.

The softer ride and number steering mean the M6 is less engaging in the bends. On the flip side, the M6 is a car you can drive every day while the SL63 and XKR-S exact some practical compromises. The M6 is the more comfortable car, it seats four and the monstrous trunk can hold luggage for 3 easily. What the BMW can’t counter is the visceral roar produced by Jag’s 5.0L V8. The M6 in comparison is quiet, some might even say demure.

 

If you want the best track car, get a GT-R. It will “out everything” the M6 on the track. If you want the best sounding V8 engine, get the XKR-S. If you want the sexiest coupe, get a Maserati. If you want the best all-around sports luxury coupe, look no further than the BMW M6. I admit that after a week with the most expensive M, I am smitten. But have I fallen for the M6 for all the “wrong” reasons? I value the M6’s perfect interior, comfortable seats, electronic do-dads and LED headlamps over straight-line or corner performance. In other-words, I elevate all the values I was raised to associate with Mercedes-Benz. But here in front of me is a BMW that embodies all the luxury I demand yet sacrifices only a smidgin of track performance in the process. I will leave the discussions of branding to more qualified writers, but I will say that nobody I met felt the Mercedes SL brought any more cachet than the M6, despite its price tag. Mercedes has been put on notice. BMW’s M6 reigns alone as the king of the German luxury coupe. AMG: you have been found wanting. (You know, except for that whole SLS thing.)

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BMW provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested:

0-30: 1.8 Seconds

0-60: 3.75 Seconds

1/4 Mile:  11.89 Seconds @ 123 MPH

Average fuel economy: 16.1 MPG over 825 miles

2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, side, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, front, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, front, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, backup camera, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, exhaust, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, rear, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, rear, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, side, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, wheels, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, headlamp, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, side, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, front, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, front, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, BMW logo, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, M6 logo, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, engine, 4.4L twin turbo, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, engine, 4.4L twin turbo, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, window switches, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, steering wheel controls, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, steering wheel controls, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, shifter, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, iDrive controller, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, dashboard, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, dashboard, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes2012 BMW M6 Convertible-023 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, start/stop button, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, seat controls, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, back seat, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, aerial view, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, head up display, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, Heads up display, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, gauges, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, iDrive, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, iDrive, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, iDrive, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, iDrive, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, door sill, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, shifter and key, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, steering wheel, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, dashboard, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Monroney Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Review: 2012 BMW X5M http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/review-2012-bmw-x5m/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/review-2012-bmw-x5m/#comments Mon, 28 Nov 2011 18:14:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=418112 If you ask a certain segment of the automotive press, it seems that BMW is rapidly losing the plot. While I agree that BMW’s latest wares are bigger, heavier and more leather-clad than ever before, I can’t say thing is a bad thing in my mind. I upset a few people when I reviewed the […]

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If you ask a certain segment of the automotive press, it seems that BMW is rapidly losing the plot. While I agree that BMW’s latest wares are bigger, heavier and more leather-clad than ever before, I can’t say thing is a bad thing in my mind. I upset a few people when I reviewed the then-new 335is by saying “BMW is the new Mercedes”. I’m not sure why noses were “rankled”, but there seems to be a large segment of TTAC’s readership that believe BMW has abandoned “sport” for “luxury”. Maybe they are right; the M3 and M5 have been gaining weight an alarming pace and now we have the X5M and X6M, a pair of 5,400lb SUVs wearing full-on M badges. The burning question at TTAC is: should the guy responsible for designing it be committed? Or should the vehicle be put in a straight-jacket for being a totally insane machine?

From the outside the X5M looks less “M” compared to its donor model than do the M sedans. Sure there are enlarged grilles on the front, unique bumpers, and quad exhaust tips out back, but the overall form doesn’t scream “something wicked this way comes” like an M3. Helping the X5M blend into the urban jungle is the 2” hitch receiver, a first on M vehicles as is the tow rating of a healthy 6600lbs. Closer inspection however reveals the subtle tweaks to this urban assault vehicle include some seriously wide 315-series rubber out back, ginormous brakes and a plethora of radiators visible behind the large mesh grill openings.

On the inside of the X5 it will take very observant passenger to tell the difference between the go-fast model and the plebian people movers. Of course there are bespoke X5M gauges greeting the driver and the thick rimmed M steering wheel is also along for the ride. Aside from the driver’s controls however the majority of the X5M’s interior is lifted directly from the lower models. Fit and finish was excellent in our tester (as you would expect at this price) but I have to admit I was somewhat disappointed by the so-called “carbon fiber” leather trim which appears to just be black leather embossed with a carbon fiber pattern. I think some dark stained wood or brushed aluminum would be been more befitting of the X5M’s target market, but what do I know? The only toll on the interior taken by the M conversion that we observed was the loss of the third-row-seat option. If you’re a family of seven with a need for speed, you might have to wait and see if Mercedes will sell you a 7-seat ML AMG.

By now the suspense is likely killing you, after all we haven’t even mentioned the new M engine under the hood of the X5M so here we go: Turbo lovers rejoice! Squeezed under the bulging hood of the X5M beats a 4.4L twin-turbo V8 engine cranking out 555HP and a mind numbing 500 lb-ft of torque. While this engine is quite similar to the X5 xDrive50i’s 4.4L twin turbo V8, there are some significant differences, most notably the broader torque curve. The “pedestrian” 4.4L engine delivers 450lb-ft from 1750-4500RPM while the X5M’s mill broadens the torque plateau to 1500-5650 and the difference is marked behind the wheel. Power is routed to all four wheels via a heavy-duty ZF 6-speed automatic transmission, BMW’s full-tine AWD system and of course, a torque vectoring rear differential. I have seen complaints by the forum fan-boys whining that BMW didn’t put their dual-clutch M transmission under the hood of the X5M, but to me at least, the softer (and more “normal” feeling) shifts of the ZF transmission are more suitable for SUV use.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Some years ago when I heard the first rumors about the X5M, I was concerned that BMW would make their first sports SUV rear wheel drive only. I’m sure a RWD SUV would have pleased the BMW purists in the crowd, however, the X5M may just be the sports car for the rest of us. How so? It’s all about applying the power for me. While Jaguar XFR and last generation M5 I tested were a blast to drive, both spent considerable amounts of time at the starting gates spinning their wheels. 0-60 testing a two-wheel drive high-output vehicle takes a certain amount of time and finesse to get the best possible numbers out of the vehicle. The X5M just requires a heavy right foot. The same can be said for the fun-factor of the X5M when on a windy mountain road: just mash the go pedal and hang on.

The X5M is not the best handling car I have ever driven, but it is quite possibly the most confidant. The torque vectoring rear differential helps the X5M feel like a much lighter vehicle on windy roads and the permanent AWD system means it’s easy to stomp on the throttle at just about any moment without everything going pear-shaped. For those of us that aren’t Jack Baruth, this much power needs four powered-wheels. Back to the handling; while the X5M is not a 911 on the track, it is (no kidding at all) at the top end of the handling scale in general. While on a twisty road I frequent, I let a brand new Porsche Cayman S pass (because I thought I’d slow the fun down), just to see how I’d do, I tried to keep up with the light-weight Porsche. To my surprise the X5M picked up its lederhosen and danced. While the Cayman was more nimble in the tight corners common to any coastal California road, the X5M’s massive thrust more than compensated in the short straightaways. With the right driver, on a closed course, I have little doubt the 5,400lb SUV would have spanked the bantam weight Porsche.

While the X5M weighs nearly 2400lbs more than a Cayman S PDK, our 0-60 tests revealed the BMW to be faster than all but the fastest of Stuttgart’s wares. BMW’s website quotes an official 4.5 seconds to 60, but our first run on a cool 50 degree morning yielded an eye-popping 4.05 second run. Amazed, disturbed, and incredulous we spent the next 30 minutes verifying and re-verifying our numbers. After a morning where we consumed about 15-gallons of premium dinosaur we arrived at two conclusions: The first is that the X5M has a “problem” with heat soak despite the mammoth intercoolers, and the second is that BMW is totally honest about the 4.5 second 0-60 time. What do I mean? Let’s talk numbers, our first run clocked at 4.05, our next was 4.1 and by the time we had done our 25th back-to-back run our times had “ballooned” to 4.51 seconds which represents a variance of about 12%. What should you get out of our experimentation? Unless you are really pounding the snot out of the twin-turbo V8, you’ll pretty much always beat that guy in the Carrera 4S next to you. Need some crazier numbers? The old M5 needed 4.4 seconds to achieve the same speed (as does the M3 in manual form), making the X5M not only the fastest car we’ve tested from BMW so far, but perhaps the fastest car TTAC has tested period.

Because the concept of “launch control” on a nearly three-ton SUV with a regular-old slush-box is about as insane as the SUV itself is, we must go over the feature as it did make a 1/10th of a second difference in the 0-60 time. Here’s how you activate it: With the vehicle stopped, you put your foot on the brake pedal, slide the shifter over to M/S mode and then use the paddle shifter to out the transmission into M1. You then need to put the stability control into MDM mode, select the sport program from for the M Engine dynamics control (these two actions can be linked to the M button on the steering wheel). You then floor the car and a little checkered flag appears in the cluster. You then let your foot off the brake pedal and the X5M takes off like a daemon possessed Chucky doll cranking out crispy shifts like a Gatling gun (as long as you don’t lift). As if common sense wasn’t enough, the manual reminds you to not use launch control while towing a trailer. We tested the X5M with a 5,000lb trailer and trust us, launch control was not required.

Competition to the X5M can of course be found from all the usual suspects: the Range Rover Sport Supercharged, the ML63 AMG, and of course the Cayenne Turbo. The Range Rover retains some of its off-roading ability making it far less capable on-road than the BMW (and not quite the same creature). By all appearances, Mercedes decided not to tackle the X5M head on with the ML63 as it’s down on power, torque and needs almost a full second more to get to freeway speeds. This leaves the Cayenne Turbo the sole competition for the X5M if you care about handling and speed. Strangely enough however, even with the brief 30 minute test drive I was able to finagle in a Cayman Turbo it was obvious the Porsche is more of a luxury SUV than a sports SUV with a more supple, less connected ride,  a transmission more willing to upshift (and gear-hunt) and a considerably larger price tag. While the Porsche represents a more refined SUV without question, the BMW is by far the performance winner. It’s also the maddest in the bunch and if the X5M was a person it would be bound in a straight-jacket and locked in a padded cell.

OK, so it’s an insane vehicle that’s crazy fast and crazy fun, but who’s it for? This is twisted logic, so stay with me here: If you are the kind of middle-class guy that has a Porsche Cayman for the daily commute, a trailer for weekend camping which, because we’re Americans and we cannot possibly tow a 1,200lb “toy hauler” with our car, also meant buying a pick-up truck, you should save yourself the garage space and buy the X5M instead. It’s a far better sports car than a Cayman, and oddly enough the 555HP and 500lbft of torque make it one of the best tow vehicles this side of a diesel F-250. The price of this joy? $95,000. Still, that’s cheaper than a Cayman and an F-250. I’ll take my straight jacket in blue please.

 

BMW provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Statistics as tested

0-30: 1.35 Seconds

0-60: 4.05 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 12.6 Seconds @ 111.2 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 15.2 MPG over 483 miles

2012 BMW X5M Front Right IMG_4701 IMG_4702 IMG_4703 IMG_4704 IMG_4706 IMG_4707 IMG_4710 IMG_4712 IMG_4713 IMG_4714 IMG_4715 IMG_4716 IMG_4718 X5M Twin Turbo V8 IMG_4725 IMG_4726 IMG_4728 Driver Side Interior IMG_4731 IMG_4734 IMG_4735 IMG_4737 IMG_4738 IMG_4740 IMG_4741 IMG_4746 IMG_4747 IMG_4751 IMG_4753 M Instrument Cluster IMG_4755 IMG_4757 IMG_4758 IMG_4759 IMG_4761 X5M Cargo Area IMG_4765 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Geneva Gallery: 2011 Infiniti M http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/geneva-gallery-2011-infiniti-m/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/geneva-gallery-2011-infiniti-m/#comments Wed, 03 Mar 2010 19:30:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=347468 Some cars just have to be seen in person to be properly fathomed. I think that’s what’s going on with the new Infiniti M. In any case, it’s hard to imagine that this model will be able to fly under the consumer radar with the stealth of its predecessor. Luckily Nissan will have the off-putting […]

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Some cars just have to be seen in person to be properly fathomed. I think that’s what’s going on with the new Infiniti M. In any case, it’s hard to imagine that this model will be able to fly under the consumer radar with the stealth of its predecessor. Luckily Nissan will have the off-putting eco-pedal option to blame for a tepid consumer response. You know, in case the hints of Maserati about the design don’t translate into real life.

infinitim infinitim1 infinitim2 infinitim3 infinitim4 infinitim5 infinitim6 infinitim7 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Wild Ass Rumor Of The Day: Meet the 1 Series-based Roadster http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/wild-ass-rumor-of-the-day-meet-the-1-series-based-roadster/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/wild-ass-rumor-of-the-day-meet-the-1-series-based-roadster/#comments Thu, 12 Nov 2009 23:20:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=335198 Think the new Z4 is a bloated boulevard cruiser unworthy of the roadster-implying Z badge? We’d tend to agree. Which is why we were chuffed to see renderings of a possible BMW 1 Series-based Z2 roadster in the most recent Auto Motor und Sport (print edition). Several Einser engines will be available say AM und […]

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Z2 rendering

Think the new Z4 is a bloated boulevard cruiser unworthy of the roadster-implying Z badge? We’d tend to agree. Which is why we were chuffed to see renderings of a possible BMW 1 Series-based Z2 roadster in the most recent Auto Motor und Sport (print edition). Several Einser engines will be available say AM und S, up to and including the 306 hp 135i engine. BMW M division boss Kay Segler even hints that an M car based on the 1 series is in the works. This roadster seems like as good a variant as any for the treatment.

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