Is it possible to be both overwhelmed and underwhelmed? Does the whelming up and down cancel itself out, leaving one with just the right amount of whelm? Or is there some sort of exponential curve, resulting in either a surplus or deficit of whelmification?
The red squiggly lines provided by the good people behind Microsoft Word tell me that I’m stretching the bounds of both language and reason here – but reason may not have been in the room when the folks in Munich plotted this 2022 BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupe. Heck, we can quibble on the language there, too, when considering the traditional definition of a coupe. But looking at the specs and the window sticker can lead one to conclusions that are occasionally not delivered upon slipping behind the wheel, thus leading to my conundrum.
As a fan of the midsize luxury sedan class, it’s sad to see how many manufacturers have given up on the segment. The German trio still has their stalwarts, but Japan gave up in 2020 (RIP Lexus GS), the only American still in the ring is the Cadillac CT5, and its outlier status is accompanied by newcomer Genesis with the G80.
It’s a dying class, which is why your author was especially pleased to spend the Memorial Day weekend with a longstanding headliner of the German luxury sedan genre: A 2021 BMW 5-Series.
BMW and Mercedes-Benz are dumping ShareNow — their jointly managed car-sharing businesses — and Stellantis will reportedly become the recipient. Effectively a merger of BMW’s DriveNow and Mercedes’ (technically Daimler AG’s) slurry of similar services that were rolled into car2go, ShareNow’s individual components have spent the last decade trying to figure out which markets would embrace app-based, roadside rentals charging by the minute and which would reject it.
While it never managed to reach the notoriety of the Mercedes S-Class, BMW’s 7 Series has long been a popular alternative for well-dressed henchmen in action movies. There have even been periods where the Bimmer came pretty close to matching Daimler’s flagship sedan in terms of sales. But BMW’s decision to take what was effectively a well-appointed sports sedan and reform it into a limousine with an optional 601-horsepower V12 seems to have backfired.
The 7 Series is allegedly getting more in touch with its roots for the seventh generation (G70/G71) model and throwing in the all-electric i7 for good measure. However, the resulting automobile still looks to be following the lead of the Mercedes, rather than focusing on being the “ultimate driving machine” of yore. Meanwhile, BMW is pulling out all the stops in terms of styling and is throwing down every modern technology at its disposal.
Pour one out for the twelve-cylinder BMW, folks. The car company has just announced its final run of M760i xDrive vehicles, fitted with what BMW is calling the very last V12 engine ever to be fitted to a BMW series production road vehicle. The party comes to a halt in June.
While we’re sure the vast majority of our readers think of Ponch and Jon when they hear the word ‘chips’, there’s no denying the world’s automakers would probably rather never hear the term again as it relates to car parts. After weathering a severe shortage of the things, BMW thinks it has a solution: Shacking up with a semiconductor manufacturer and a semiconductor foundry.
It’s been decades since BMW introduced a dedicated M car, so imagine our surprise when we learned the next one would be a boxy SUV. Considering the last standalone M was the ground-hugging wedge that was the M1 coupe, we have to assume M Division engineers were either trying to challenge themselves or someone higher up figured they could make more money selling a utility vehicle.
While just a concept at present, the BMW XM boasts a fairly radical design. But the manufacturer has claimed it will retain over 90 percent of the prototype’s good (?) looks when it enters into production. There’s a lot of interesting stuff here that might make it into the finished product, including the extra-thin daytime running lights that sit atop the real headlamps that have been snuck behind tinted glass. It’s a strange beast that doesn’t seem like it’s targeting the traditional M shopper and, according to BMW, that’s because it isn’t.
BMW is dusting off one of its older logos for select vehicles and a bevy of vintage colors to celebrate the M Division’s 50th anniversary. Those with a functional memory will recall that the brand streamlined its corporate iconography in 2020, making its already basic logo flatter and less colorful than ever before. It was a monumental achievement focused on helping the image come across better electronic screens that have been in existence since 1927, began supplanting printed office memos in the 1980s, and have evolved to support the kind of graphical clarity that now rivals your own eyes. The automaker also claimed the bare-bones logo stood for “openness and clarity” and would be used primarily for marketing and official communications — rather than occupying valuable hood real estate.
The new celebratory emblem — used during the 1970s and 80s on the occasional BMW Motorsport product — will be permitted to adorn the sheet metal, however. You simply have to purchase an M vehicle, ask for it to be adorned with the retro iconography, and then pay some extra money.
BMW has become a bit of a wild card. From confusing naming conventions to controversial styling decisions, the Bavarian automaker has become no stranger to various forms of ridicule lately, particularly from the enthusiast set. With a rich performance history on and off of the track, the company has amassed a fervent fanbase that’s somehow both stuck in the past and impatient for the future.
They cite classics like the E30 M3 and E39 M5 with rose-tinted nostalgia and wonder why BMW can’t capture lightning in a bottle again – while also adding the performance, technology, safety, and comfort that they’ve come to expect, of course. And never mind the fact that the BMW Group reported record-breaking sales numbers in the first quarter of this year while largely ignoring the peanut gallery.
Once again, the #savethemanuals crowd weeps. And with good reason — the BMW 2-Series, which I remember being quite wonderful to drive the last time I piloted one (it’s been a few years) — will be going automatic only.
That’s not the only change. It’s longer, lower, wider, and the styling is refreshed.
Today’s Rare Ride is a one-off bespoke build of an already very limited-run car. A 2000 7-Series BMW was not enough for one Mr. Lagerfeld, so he sat down with BMW Individual to work his car into something very special.
The result was intense Germanic luxury with a heavy helping of Regency Elite. Let’s go.
BMW has proclaimed the 2022 M5 CS Sedan, with 627 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque, to be the quickest and most powerful BMW production vehicle ever produced, with a claimed 0-60 time of 2.9 seconds and a top speed of 190 MPH. It will arrive in the U.S. in the second half of 2021.
BMW published a four-minute and change ad a couple weeks ago for the start of the virtual CES 2021 show. Though this would not normally be a subject worth covering, this particular ad seems to indicate BMW believes their own E65 7-Series is for ridiculous out of touch Boomers.
Marketing departments always know what they’re doing, right?
Ridiculousness is a word – I checked. And it describes the vehicle I am about to tell y’all about perfectly.
Ya see, the BMW X5 M Competition is a perfectly fine luxury crossover that BMW decided needed a bit more spice. Never mind that the X5 has generally been one of the sportier of the lot (sporty being a relative term when applied to these types of vehicles, of course).
On Tuesday, BMW announced it would be partnering with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to develop a cloud-based IT solution allowing it to integrate data and analytics into literally every aspect of the business “from vehicle development to after-sales services.” The automaker said data will now be shifted around liberally between business units and operations in over a hundred countries to help create a more fluid and responsive way of doing business. BMW to hire and train up to 5,000 software engineers in the latest Amazon tech to “empower” its workforce to manage the data.
Though some of that will be handled independently by artificial intelligence. Along with the physical construction of the necessary data hub, the company plans on certifying roughly 2,000 in machine learning and data analysis. If that sounds a bit technical and vague, just imagine BMW building Skynet from the Terminator films and actually getting some decent work out of it before it decided to exterminate humanity.
BMW has applied its new corporate grille to the 4-Series and nixed the retractable hardtop from the convertible in exchange for a ragtop that helps the model dump unnecessary weight. While the softer sunshine rig sounds relatively impressive, this will likely be a lateral move for most fans. The brand’s elongated Hitler mustache grille hasn’t gone over with everybody and a soft top certainly seems less premium. But BMW thinks it can win customers over on practicality and substance.
For starters, the new system offers a smidgen more headroom (just 0.2 inches) and has improved thermal insulation and sound dampening to keep it on par with the outgoing hardtop. It also takes up less space when stowed and only takes 18 seconds to do so at speeds at or below 31 mph.
Crossovers often get mocked by auto journalists as “tall wagons.” These scribes – and there are many, myself included, who have used this term – don’t understand why people don’t buy actual wagons.
Indeed, just the other day, the section of the Twitterverse reserved for auto writers had a discussion about why the public likes the much-loathed crossover so much.
There’s the obvious reason, of course – most of the people in the car-buying public are either not car enthusiasts, or they’re enthusiasts forced into crossover life by budget and life needs. We’ve been over this before.
There are certain flagship luxury cars that suggest the driver has “made it” – assuming “making it” means climbing the corporate ladder to the point that owning and driving a large, imported luxury sedan with a six-figure price tag is no sweat, financially speaking.
The Lexus LS, BMW 7 Series and 8 Series, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class have typically been the cars most people think of when the phrase “flagship luxury sedan” is spoken. And rightfully so – those are all worthy vehicles. But sometimes, the boss likes to cut loose.
Which is why the LS has an F Sport trim, and Merc has an AMG S-Class, and so on. As you no doubt know, “M” is the magic letter when it comes to BMWs.
BMW’s approach to the next frontier of driving propulsion has been an incremental one. First, electrification in a couple of oddball niche cars; then, plug-in hybrid versions of more conventional models. The fully electric vehicles coming down the pipe share their versatile architecture with existing models containing more conventional powerplants.
It’s cautious, and it’s certainly the approach most American automakers would probably prefer to take themselves. Alas, Germany is not America. EU regulators regularly crack the whip, startling execs who built their careers on dishing out gas and diesel offerings. Go green in a big way, now, or be slowly asphyxiated by a blanket of regulation that penalizes builders of emissions-heavy fleets.
It’s no wonder BMW’s works council wants top brass to stop dipping their toe in the deep end and just jump in, already.
An abundance of fragrant pollen in your author’s neighborhood has led to increasing sinus distress over the past few days, but he wouldn’t trade places with the upcoming BMW M4 for a second. No, sir. Not with those flared nostrils.
Leaked to the internet via the g20.bimmerpost forum, the muscled-up sibling to the 2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe unveiled this week takes that car’s already controversial front-end treatment to new extremes, confirming what we already expected.
A lot of us pack on pounds as we age. I should know – it happened to me as I voyaged through my 30s.
We all know it’s been happening across the car world, too. Just about every model has grown in size and packed on pounds over the past two decades.
Problem is, that turns some vehicles that were once known as svelte sports sedans into bloated versions of themselves. The good news is that some of these vehicles can still do a lot of what they once did – but the swell is unfortunately noticeable.
Do you consider yourself a responsible, wholesome driver? Are you a driver who maintains control in all driving situations? Or are you tempted to leave each stoplight in a snarl of revs and a haze of vaporized Michelin?
At the moment, BMW does not offer its flagship sports sedan, the M3. We are left with this, the 2020 BMW M340i. While the M3 – when it comes – will likely offer a batshit crazy amount of horsepower, I’m reminded when I drive this sensibly-powered M340i of Lord Acton’s chestnut: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
I’d like to think that I’m a decent, incorruptible fellow, thus 382 horsepower is enough for me. It’s probably enough for you, too.
Your author first heard about Wiesmann on Top Gear in the early 2000s, while watching Jeremy Clarkson drive what appeared to be a very well-constructed roadster around a track. After that particular episode I never heard of Wiesmann again, and promptly forgot the company existed.
Turns out they made more than a singular roadster. Today we learn about the Wiesmann brand — and this particular 2010 GT MF 4 coupe.
Longtime luxury rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz may have signed onto an autonomous vehicle/ride-hailing partnership earlier this year, but that doesn’t mean the two companies go around holding hands. The competitive spirit is still there; AV development just carries a price tag neither company wants to pay in full.
For BMW as well as M-B, the lucrative core business of selling luxury vehicles to a well-heeled clientele remains top of mind, and Bimmer’s new boss isn’t happy that his Stuttgart rivals are running away with the sales crown.
Admit it — when you think of the BMW 6 Series, it’s the long prow of the mid-80s 633 or 635 CSi nosing into your brain, not the oddly-shaped 2019 640i xDrive Gran Turismo. That sleek Reagan-era coupe can continue to roam throughout your mind for years to come, as it won’t have any competition.
For the 2020 model year, the last bearers of the 6 Series designation fade from the American landscape, joined in their vanishing act by an unloved 3 Series four-door with a liftback.
There was a loud, painful sounding thunk. It wasn’t the sound of the door closing that has been compared for generations to that of a bank vault. Rather, my teenaged daughter whacked her head on the low, sweeping C-pillar, reminding me of the countless concussion protocol waivers I’ve digitally signed over her years in various competitive sports.
No damage that required missing a game, thankfully – only wounded pride. But it served as a reminder that there is a price to be paid for style. The current fashion of four-door “coupes,” whether of the sedan or crossover variety, may be trendy, but for those raising kids of greater than average height, this 2019 BMW X4 might not be the ideal statement vehicle.
Water always finds a way. Our land masses are shaped by the movement of glaciers over millennia. Our geopolitical lines are often defined by bodies of water, be it a lake, river, or ocean. Importantly to this audience, many of our greatest roads owe little to a civil engineer and all to the meander of a mountain stream.
Water finds a way, trickling from the hillside to create a damp path across one of those roadways, just over a blind ridge beyond which a sextet of motorcyclists have stopped in the middle of a narrow roadway to discuss something most certainly of incredible importance.
Turns out other liquids find a way, too, as a wee bit of wee might have leaked as I engaged any number of acronym-laden safety mechanisms designed in Bavaria to prevent headlines such as “Journalist Slaughters Six.” With the slightest sideways step, the 2019 BMW M2 Competition heeled and heeded my commands upon the two leftmost pedals, and after a few minutes to reset my blood pressure and mutter contempt for the idiot bikers, I proceeded to enjoy the rest of my drive with a massive grin.
With Oliver Zipse confirmed as BMW’s new chief executive, practically everyone theorized on how he was going to shake up the strategy established under former-CEO Harald Krüger — which revolved around gradually introducing more EVs via a highly flexible architecture. While we were disinclined to agree, a swath of industry experts and media outlets claimed this was a terrible blueprint for the brand and expected Zipse to come up with something different.
However, he looks to be offering more of the same. That begs the question as to why Krüger actually left the company and taints the validity of suggestions that his product strategy was internally viewed as a failure.
I wanted to hate this big crossover so much. My expectations were minimal. How on earth could BMW, the standard-bearer of legitimate sports sedans for half a century, build a massive three-row SUV? It’s just a cash grab, I was certain.
Yeah, I’m supposed to be unbiased — but finding anyone that reviews cars that has absolutely no bias is a fools’ errand. Everyone here knows I’d give ten thumbs up should Renault bring a Mégane RS Trophy-R stateside. We all have our automotive loves. There are thousands who adore their Roundel-clad sedans — and will turn their nose at any perceived dilution of the brand.
I’m loath to say it, but this 2019 BMW X7 is worthy of the badge. You won’t find a racing series dedicated to the big three-row beast, but I’m sure in time you’ll find plenty in race paddocks with a caged E36 in tow.
As part of BMW’s big #NEXTGen event, the Vision M Next concept shows what the future of “The Ultimate Driving Machine” will look like. This comes in conjunction with an announcement that the targeted 25 electrified models are being pulled ahead by 2 years, to 2023.
BMW Group’s latest innovations in areas of design, autonomous driving, connectivity, electrification, and services are being showcased at the #NEXTGen event. According to Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design, “the BMW Vision M NEXT demonstrates how state-of-the-art technology can also make the experience of driving yourself purer and more emotionally engaging.”
BMW has announced a successor to the popular M235i and M240i Racing models in the form of the M2 Competition. While the first cars are slated for delivery in the second quarter of 2020, they will see their first public race test during round 5 of the VLN Endurance Championship at the Nürburgring on August 3rd, 2019.
The “M235i Racing” customer racing model proved to be highly successful in Europe and the U.S. Introduced to the U.S. in 2016, Toby Grahovec drove his Classic BMW M235iR to the Pirelli World Challenge TC class championship that year. Customer orders were fulfilled in the second half of 2016 and I personally raced one in 2017 for Rooster Hall Racing, securing Rookie of the Year honors that season. Now in their 4th year in the U.S., the SRO TC America class is dominated by the M235iR and M240iR models. In the opening round, 14 of the 17 entrants were in the BMWs.
While we got an early peek of the new 8 Series Gran Coupe via some leaked photos, the full lineup has now been revealed by BMW. The entry level 8 Series will be in the form of the rear-wheel drive 840i. With the 340 hp turbo inline-6, the cost of entry begins at $84,990, plus $995 destination. Meanwhile, the M850i xDrive will start at $109,895.
On many cars, the design of the rear seems like an afterthought — or possibly a feature designed by a separate team from the front. Either way, it’s rare that a rear end is the most striking part of a car’s design. Here, though, BMW has crafted such complexity and visual strength, that I find myself continuing to stare at the rear ¾ view.
Cooperation and borrowing between auto manufacturers is nothing new, and it isn’t always a bad thing. For example, look what happened in the 1980s when Lincoln borrowed a BMW inline-six turbodiesel for its Continental Mark VII luxury coupe. Oh, maybe that’s not the best example. But two events this week have led to a couple of new examples for us to ponder.
How do you think these cooperative automotive projects will fare?
The Buy/Drive/Burn series has been all about convertibles lately. We started with some $40,000 luxury entries from 2010, then upped the dollar figure with three more from 2009 that asked over $90,000 for the pleasure of their company.
Today we step back in time to the year 2001, and spend even more money. The cheapest drop-top here is over $120,000. Let’s go.
Last time on Buy/Drive/Burn, we perused three rear-drive, metal folding roof convertibles from 2010. But some of you seemed less than pleased with the convertible trio. Sad!
Keeping this in mind, today’s Buy/Drive/Burn ups the ante with three more convertibles, each costing over $90,000. Today’s convertibles sport luxury makes, rear-drive, and large engines to match their price tags.
Despite the mainstream automotive market taking a wrench to the face, supercars continue doing exceedingly well. In fact, in 2017 the United Kingdom claimed “specialty car” registrations were up 40 percent over 2012, despite the broader market seeing a decline of nearly 10 percent. Meanwhile, vehicle prices the world over show a larger gap between mainstream automobiles and their high-end counterparts.
As it looks for a replacement for the i8, it seems BMW wants something more ambitions from a performance perspective. While the i8 was a supercar in name and exterior design, the hybrid two-seater lacked the kind of earth-shattering acceleration and handling to truly qualify. Bimmer’s next project is rumored to remedy that while keeping the i-brand’s electrified mentality alive.
Despite representing one of the great automotive rivalries, Daimler and BMW aren’t immune from the need to seek out cost savings in a rapidly evolving landscape. The two automakers have already teamed up on matters like components purchasing, and last year combined their respective car-sharing ventures.
However, sources close to the companies claim Daimler and Bimmer want to take it further, potentially sharing vehicle platforms and electric vehicle batteries.
Has the crossover craze taken another victim? Or is it just simply a case of a rare body style not drawing sales?
It’s not like wagons (with some exceptions — ahem, Subaru) were selling like gangbusters before the current crossover trend took off.
Still, the BMW 3 Series wagon has garnered attention from enthusiasts in search of utility. But, alas, it appears that the next-generation 3 Series won’t be sold with a wagon variant, at least not in these United States.
Your author’s first experience with a stick-shift BMW came when he was an impressionable youth, after being offered a ride to a since-forgotten destination by the head of a Christian youth group. Sorry, nothing weird happened. Something great did, however.
The car was a mid-1990s 328i, black over black pleather (a feature that irked the driver), five speed manual. “Look how much pickup it has in fifth,” I recall the man saying, stabbing the throttle as we coasted along at maybe 40-45 mph.
So different from my father’s Oldsmobile was the experience, it opened my eyes to a different type of driving — an engaging, involved form of motoring. While vehicles of a German pedigree didn’t come into my possession in the years following, stick-shift cars did. Seven of the eight cars I’ve owned boasted a clutch pedal. But sticks are dying, and the brand most associated with the three-pedal lifestyle doesn’t field many of them anymore. How long can it last? We have answers.
Before we go any further, I just want to point out one thing — I hate the BMW X3. I loathe even the idea of it. I grew up on the E30 3 Series and the E23 7 Series, both of which were in my father’s driveway well before most people in Suburbia knew what the hell a “Bimmer” even was. I find the concept of an Ultimate Driving CUV to be a blight on the brand itself, a disgrace of the highest order.
The last generation of the X3 was total trash. It was a rough-riding, fuel-guzzling exercise in badge whoring. Its sole purpose was to impress other moms in the school pick-up line. There was nothing the previous X3 could do that literally any other entry in the small CUV sector couldn’t do better. I’m including the Kia Soul in that comment, by the way.
So when I saw a 2018 BMW X3 on the Emerald Aisle at MIA, I was excited to rent it. Not because I thought I would enjoy it, but because I thought it would give me the chance to write a hateful screed about another automotive abortion from Spartanburg. Alas, it was not to be. Because the new X3 is likely the best car BMW makes today.
While the current-generation BMW 2 Series isn’t ready for the grave, the company intends to put its next incarnation into assembly by 2021. That’s ages away for a consumer but precious little time for an automaker to make production decisions.
Likely spooked by potential trade issues looming over the horizon, BMW is reportedly considering shifting the America-bound 2 Series to a Mexican plant — specifically, the company’s new San Potosi facility, home of the new 3 Series.
The 8 Series is a car that, given the market’s current direction, probably shouldn’t exist. Low, long, and wide, it’s the polar opposite of the vanilla crossovers that permeate parking lots and power centers. This is precisely what makes it, and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class coupe, magnificent machines.
Just four months after production of the 8 Series coupe ramped up, that model is joined by a droptop version. BMW chooses to call it a “textile” soft top, one that’s able to let the world’s richest extroverts and exhibitionists soak up the sun’s rays in less than fifteen seconds.
BMW previously confirmed that the 3 Series would abandon the manual transmission for the U.S. market, leaving many enthusiasts livid. Then there was talk that the M3 might abandon rear-wheel drive entirely, as the new car’s eight-speed gearbox was designed to work with the modern xDrive system.
However, there may still be hope for a manual option. The brand has allegedly not made up its mind on the matter, at least as far as the M3 is concerned. Still, it remains a pretty slim prospect, as BMW has admitted that manual sales are on a rapid decline and don’t really make it a lot of money.
It’s finally here and it’s, um, polarizing. BMW’s largest utility vehicle, the X7, uses the brand’s versatile CLAR platform as a starting point for the most controversially styled Bimmer since Chris Bangle left the building.
Arriving at dealers in March, the X7’s derrière is not, nor ever will be, the main source of viewer displeasure. This large vehicle has a big face and BMW knows it. It’s proud of it. Poised to tackle the likes of Mercedes-Benz’s GLS and other capacious, three-row premium utilities, the X7 makes sure it will never go unnoticed.