In the “old days,” you had two transmission options if you wanted to buy a car. More often than not, a manual transmission was the standard choice, but buyers increasingly had automatic transmission options. Then, ‘ze Germans started using dual-clutch transmissions in racing cars, leading to the array of the gearboxes seen on the market today. That’s about to change for BMW, at least, as the company’s M division head of development told Top Gear that the DCT would die as it shifted to electrification.
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 teased the M3 Touring today, surprising just about everyone, as no one outside the company actually knew it was planning to build a wagon version of the car. Rumors of substance had been circulating for about a month, since we live in the information age, but it’d be a new trick for the M3.
Obviously, we’re going to gush about it because people who write about cars tend to gravitate toward fun vehicles that fly under the radar. Any advantage you can give yourself against the watchful eyes of highway patrol are always welcome, and there’s just something about a quick wagon that makes you feel unique — even if owning one doesn’t automatically make it true.
A lot of people gripe about BMW losing its edge. Formerly reserved for the greatest performance vehicles in its lineup, the M designation has migrated to encompass a rather large subset of the BMW fleet. While this has undoubtedly helped the brand boost its sales for years, it also muddied the waters of what constitutes an M.
In the past, BMW’s M vehicles denoted a marked increase in horsepower and real-world performance. Now they’re intermixed with M Sport trims that split the difference between standard fare and bonkers M in terms of output. And they haven’t been turning up the dial lately. In fact, the performance division of all German automakers seem to have slowed down on maximizing performance while the core business prioritizes fuel efficiency and electrification — largely because it’s expected of them by regulators.
It may not be so cut and dried. BMW CEO Markus Flasch has taken a keen interest in the M division, saying “we have to be very careful to preserve what M stands for” while evolving the brand. More recently, he said the automaker had no intent to cap output to appease anyone, claiming that the company’s performance arm has to think carefully about the future.
It’s quite possible a gasp of horror escaped from your lips after laying eyes on the upcoming BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe for the first time. Unmistakably front-drive in profile, the brand’s new entry point — which happens to be based on the X1 and X2 crossovers — saw fit to avoid front-drive-only models in North America.
The same goes for the X1 and X2, though overseas buyers can find themselves a Bimmer that only pulls, never pushes. Just don’t ever expect to find one bearing a coveted M badge, the automaker promises.
Superfans of BMW’s M subsidiary — or, more accurately, its cars — are in for some good news. The German automaker announced an extra special heritage edition of the M4 on Tuesday. Called the BMW M4 Edition ///M Heritage, and limited exclusively to the F82 coupe, the model is supposed to commemorate everything the M Division stands for.
While that absolutely includes making BMW money, the automaker has yet to provide the model with an MSRP. That said, its special nature will undoubtedly push it beyond the model’s $70,000 base price. It’s also limited to just 750 examples worldwide, which ought to tack on a premium of its own.
BMW M has unveiled new display and control systems for its vehicles’ powertrain, chassis, and driver assistance systems, with an emphasis on added customizability. The company is even going so far as to allow drivers to set up brake feel, starting with the M8 and M8 Competition.
On-the-fly adjustments to a car’s suspension, throttle response, and steering inputs aren’t new. But brake feel isn’t something you see a lot of manufacturers messing with. In fact, there’s not much call for it on most vehicles, as consistent brake feel is something most people probably want from their daily driver. However, the same cannot be said for performance applications that might see the occasional track day.
BMW’s claim that “the feeling of an M car is unmistakable” could become diluted if the automaker endlessly tinkers with just about every item offering feedback to the driver, as the feeling of an M car would become whatever you want it to be in a given situation. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
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.
With BMW’s M2 Competition coming aboard to succeed the well-respected M2, shaving a quarter of a second off its 0-to-60 time in the process, we figured the brand would put the model on the back burner for a while. However, earlier this week an M2 test mule was spied on the Nürburgring by Motor1.
The outlet surmised that this was likely a prototype for a high performance CS or CLS variant, but we remained uncertain. For all we knew BMW was simply testing new pieces from its performance parts catalog and felt the need to disguise them with some body-colored tape. Then, a few days later, rumors emerged that a production date had already been set for the M2 CS.
BMW has chucked a new M Performance variant into its X2 range, as no vehicle in the automaker’s lineup should ever have to go without the thirteenth letter of the alphabet. Fortunately, the brand’s decision to install a range-topping X2 also involves installing the most powerful four-cylinder engine in BMW’s history.
While old school BMW enthusiasts love to criticize their favorite brand for spoiling itself with electronic steering and sacrificing fun for technology, proponents of other automakers claim Bavarian Motor Works has flat out ruined itself. However, the truth of the matter is that BMW still offers an array of suburb performance vehicles that many still find highly desirable — especially if their name begins with the letter M.
Even if the brand can’t use “The Ultimate Driving Machine” quite so liberally in 2018, it would be an untruth to suggest the M division is ignoring the well-heeled enthusiast community. But it doesn’t hurt to have a physical reminder, so BMW sent a rolling example of its motorsport catalog to the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The “M Performance Parts Concept” is based on the lovely little M2, which was recently replaced by the more hardcore M2 Competition, and serves as a reminder that the German automaker has a genuine interest in building highly competent performers — and will help you take them to the next level for a fee.
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- SPPPP The little boosters work way better than you would expect. I am a little nervous about carrying one more lithium battery around in the car (because of fire risk). But I have used the booster more than once on trips, and it has done the job. Also, it seems to hold charge for a very long time - months at least - when you don't use it. (I guess I could start packing it for trips, but leaving it out of the car on normal days, to minimize the fire risk.)
- Bader Hi I want the driver side lights including the bazl and signal
- Theflyersfan One positive: doesn't appear to have a sunroof. So you won't need to keep paper towels in the car.But there's a serious question to ask this seller - he has less than 40,000 miles on some major engine work, and the transmission and clutch work and mods are less than 2 months old...why are you selling? That's some serious money in upgrades and repairs, knowing that the odds of getting it back at the time of sale is going to be close to nil. This applies to most cars and it needs to be broadcasted - these kinds of upgrades and mods are really just for the current owner. At the time of sale, a lot of buyers will hit pause or just won't pay for the work you've done. Something just doesn't sit well with me and this car. It could be a snowbelt beast and help save the manuals and all that, but a six year old VW with over 100,000 miles normally equals gremlins and electrical issues too numerous to list. Plus rust in New England. I like it, but I'd have to look for a crack pipe somewhere if the seller thinks he's selling at that price.
- 2ACL I can't help feeling that baby is a gross misnomer for a vehicle which the owner's use necessitated a (manual!) transmission rebuild at 80,000 miles. An expensive lesson in diminishing returns I wouldn't recommend to anyone I know.