Auto blogSat, 23 Aug 2014 19:12:00 EST
In what enthusiasts will likely see as a continued attempt to dilute the BMW brand, the German manufacturer is testing a three-row variant of its already controversial 2 Series Active Tourer. Our trusty spy photographers captured images of the new, front-drive MPV testing on the roads of Europe.
The easiest way to ID this more passenger friendly 2er is its slightly longer length, which will allow it to accommodate seven people in total. As our spies point out, this should make the 2AT an attractive proposition for European taxi companies. Yep, BMW built a car that will be praised by taxi drivers. On top of the extra seats, the rear overhang appears larger as well, which should mean extra cargo space.
This, of course, is not the first time we've captured images of a new 2AT variant undergoing testing. Back in May, we spotted a hybrid-powered variant out for a drive.
Hey, remember the BMW 1 Series? Yes, German brand's successors to the US-market coupe and convertible have one-upped the old car to wear the 2 Series designation now, but in other markets, our No. 1 crush still lives on, and as evidenced in these spy shots, the entry-level hatch appears to be undergoing a modest facelift.
We've spotted prototypes of the refreshed 1 Series before, with the majority of the car's changes focused around the front fascia. This time around, we're seeing the three-door variant, with wheels seemingly fitting of a Sport or even M Sport trim.
Of course, this One's not for US, as the small BMW isn't slated to come to our market anytime soon. Click through the gallery above to see what we're missing.
It's easy for enthusiasts and traditionalists to give BMW a hard time these days, what with its plans to add more front-wheel drive models and seeming move away from more emotionally connected cars. However, the push for perfection that underscored its old Ultimate Driving Machine motto is still in there, especially in its M models. In fact, the first M4 recently made it to US shores, and the company thought the only appropriate way to celebrate was to introduce its new coupe to some of its high-performance forefathers.
The M4's initiation into the M car brotherhood involved bringing together no fewer than 52 classic and newer models - including four racecars and many privately owned vehicles - to an empty parking lot and letting the coupe drift and slalom around them to say hello. According to BMW, there was a combined 11,566 horsepower on hand. It takes a pretty trusting owner to stand back and watch as a brand-new vehicle slides its tail out with the rear wheels smoking within feet of their pride and joy. Stay tuned until the end where the owners and their cars get a shout out in the credits. Scroll down to read BMW's press release about it.
A major player in the Russian market, BMW is heading to the Moscow Motor Show this month with a slew of local debuts... most of which we've already seen. But among all the new models making the trek from Bavaria to Moscow will be the new X5 Security Plus.
In a new-model launch that will surprise exactly no one, BMW's latest armored vehicle upgrades the X5 with enhanced protection for oligarchs against Chechen rebels, AK47-touting gangsters and missiles randomly falling on Crimean highways. Now meeting the VR6 standard of ballistic protection, the new X5 Security Plus incorporates reinforced bodywork, seats and joints, along with bulletproof glass.
Of course all that reinforcement (not to mention the jars of beluga caviar and bottles of Stoli in the glovebox) will come with a weight penalty, but the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 ought to do the trick, driving 450 horsepower through BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system to get the vehicle's occupants out of a war zone in a hurry.
Most people don't have two, open spots in their garage to fit a practical daily driver and a fire-breathing performance car for the weekends. That's what makes vehicles like the latest Volkswagen Golf R and BMW M235i just about perfect for the average person. Both of these Germans can lope around as a commuter 90 percent of the time and be perfectly comfortable. However, when you want to walk in the door with a big smile on your face, you can take the back roads home and get a real thrill from them.
In his latest short video, Chris Harris from Drive tests these surprisingly comparable German performance cars. Both of them offer buyers in the neighborhood of 300 horsepower, with the BMW winning out with 320 hp. However, the Golf R gets standard all-wheel drive, which is now an option on the M235i. Harris has quite positive things to say about these Europeans, but you're going to have to watch the video to hear just what he thinks.
What's a sure-fire way to make a vehicle better? Well, you can add power or make it more exclusive. BMW has done both, just in time to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the legendary M5 sedan.
Only 300 examples of the car you see above, the M5 30th Anniversary Edition, will be sold to the public, and those lucky owners will enjoy the most exclusive, most powerful M5 ever made. Power continues to flow from the standard M5's twin-turbocharged, 4.4-liter V8, which has had its wick turned up to 600 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The sprint to 60 now happens in just 3.7 seconds, which is still a scarcely fathomable speed among sports cars, let alone comfortable, finely upholstered sedans.
Speaking of that upholstery, Alcantara and leather seats and an Alcantara steering wheel identify the exclusive M5, while special sill plates further call out the car's unique spec. Outside, the standard Competition Package adds 20-inch wheels and black chrome badges, while 30th Anniversary Editions wear BMW's Frozen Dark Silver matte paint.
The new, one-of-a-kind BMW i8 Concours d'Elegance Edition made a ritzy debut last night at BMW's private villa, giving the media its first chance to look at the ultra-exclusive hybrid.
As we said in our previous post, the most notable feature of the Concours d'Elegance i8 is its matte grey paint, known as Frozen Grey Metallic in BMW parlance. This isn't the first time we've seen this shade on an exclusive BMW, as it was last used for the Frozen Grey M3 from 2010.
Contrasting quite nicely with the i8's flat paint are its blue and white accents, and its Dalbergia Brown leather upholstery. Blue contrast stitching complements the interior aesthetic, as do the embossed BMW roundels in the headrests.
One of the best innovations in car buying in recent years is the rise of no-cost scheduled maintenance programs. Many people feel really anxious about taking their car in for service, and these deals help mitigate that somewhat. Obviously, it's not free for automakers to implement the offers, and now BMW is altering the way its four-year, 50,000-mile Maintenance Program works for some owners. "To keep such an offer sustainable we had to make a change," said Kenn Sparks, Manager of Business Communications at BMW North America, to Autoblog via email.
The original person to buy or lease the model isn't going to see any difference, but the program is no longer transferable to a second owner, unless that person is in the owners household. Those people include includes parents, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren, in addition to someone like a spouse or children. The original owner just has to advise BMW of new user. "The program change will affect 2nd owners and for them BMW is introducing an optional full-maintenance product that covers the vehicle up to 100,000 miles," said Sparks. Scroll down to read the entire announcement.
If you want to be among the first owners in the United States of the new BMW i8, the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance will be the place to be next Saturday. That's where Gooding & Company will auction off this one-of-a-kind hybrid supercar.
The BMW i8 Concours d'Elegance Edition was previously slated to be the very first i8 in North America, but has now apparently been downgraded to the guarantee of being among the firsts. In any event, it packs a series of special touches to make it unique. For starters, it's decked out in matte grey with unique brown leather upholstery, blue accents and Pure Impulse Tera World trim, with BMW i8 logos embossed into the headrests, special treat plates and the signatures of several key BMW personnel on the rear parcel shelf.
Pending government approval, it's set to be the first vehicle in the US fitted with laser headlights, and comes equipped with a special key, Louis Vuitton luggage and a "professional edition" BMW Charging Station. Scope out all the details in the press release below and take a closer look in the gallery above.
It's easy to look at racing video games as just a time waster or a hobby. In reality, though, they're often powerful tools for aspiring racers to learn tracks, race craft and how to set up a car in an easily accessible, risk-free environment. We aren't just talking about proper computer-based sims, like iRacing. Console-based racers like Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo provide a test bed for racers of all sorts.
For Mario Bonfante, Jr., a former motorcycle racer that was involved in a brutal accident that left him in a wheelchair with only limited use of his arms, Forza is a bit more. It allows him to perfect the setup of his personal racecar, a heavily modified E46 BMW M3, complete with hand controls.
Check out Mario's inspiring story.