Auto blogWed, 19 Nov 2014
Wed, 19 Nov 2014
Traditionally, nominations for the Autoblog Technology of the Year award are earned for specific developments - a new-think powertrain, a uniquely developed material, a groundbreaking smartphone app, or what have you. In the case of BMW's marvelous i8, it so bristles with novel applied sciences and fresh features that we broke with tradition and nominated the entire car.
We just couldn't help ourselves. Oh, we could've focused on the i8's carbon-fiber monocoque, or its well-resolved plug-in-hybrid powertrain that incorporates a tiny 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine and an electric motor, or its seamless through-the-road all-wheel drive. This is a car that will even have frickin' laser beams for headlights - at least it will for our friends in Europe (and it will in the US, should our legislators ever catch up).
BMW tore the cover off the second generation 2016 X6 M Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
BMW tuned the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 to push out 567 horsepower, up from the last model's 555 hp. Torque also leaps to 553 pound feet, compared with the previous output of 500 lb-ft. The V8 is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, which swaps in for the old six-speed. This potent powertrain allows the crossover to hit 60 miles per hour in about four seconds.
The X6, which features slightly more dramatic styling and an angled rear roofline, debuted alongside the more conventionally styled 2016 BMW X5 M at the LA show.
Awesome as it is, the BMW X5 M has never really been an attractive machine. Big and bulgy are the themes here, and that's only more pronounced with the X5's most recent refresh. But no matter, the X5 M has never been about looks - for this machine, it's all about performance, and BMW's hi-po crossover absolutely delivers in this regard.
Under the hood is the familiar 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V8, though power has been boosted to 567 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque - healthy increases of 12 and 53, respectively, compared to the outgoing model. Hitting 60 miles per hour is said to take just four seconds, which is damn impressive considering this thing weighs well over 5,000 pounds.
But the X5 M has always been shockingly good to drive, with limits you'll never reach except in the most hardcore track scenarios (which we'd really like to see, by the way). It's not the prettiest thing ever, but that's okay. It's not exactly cheap, though, with prices starting at $99,650. Woof.
BMW might not be done tweaking its naming scheme quite yet. Of course, at this point, the jumble of numbers on the back of the Bavarian models has no connection to what's under the hood. So there's not much reason to stop changing the monikers now.
As Autoblog reported a few months ago, BMW is slotting upgraded, turbocharged four- and six-cylinder engines called the B48 and B58, respectively, into the 3 and 4 Series. If this happens, the 328i/428i would become the 330i/430i, and the 335i/435i would turn into the 340i/440i.
Obviously, this change hasn't happened yet, but the same member of 2Addicts, a portion of the larger Bimmerpost community has now claimed that the 228i and M235i would get the same treatment. They would become the 230i and M240i, respectively, with the new engines.
It's starting to feel like the automotive landscape is right on the cusp of a boom in hydrogen-fueled vehicles. After all, the Toyota FCV is nearly ready, Volkswagen is readying a fuel cell concept for this week's Los Angeles Auto Show and Hyundai already sells its Tucson Fuel Cell. The next big name to add to that list might be BMW, as the company's co-development deal with Toyota starts to bear fruit.
According to Autocar, BMW may use a version of the fuel cell system from the Toyota FCV in the future i5. As part of its eco-oriented i sub-brand, the i5 is expected to be a stretched version of the i3 (pictured above) with extra rear legroom and cargo space. It's unclear at the moment whether a battery-powered pure electric powertrain will also be available. If accurate, then the rumor could give the Bavarian brand a counterattack against Mercedes-Benz' planned fuel cell vehicle in 2017.
BMW and Toyota first signed the memorandum of understanding to co-develop fuel cells, lightweight technology and a sports car back in 2012, and they made the arrangement official in late 2013. So far, few details on the progress of the work have been disclosed, but the performance model has been rumored to use a front-engine, all-wheel drive layout with supercapacitors.
Looking at the current automotive landscape, especially from German makers, you quickly get the impression that less definitely isn't more. BMW alone offers its 3 Series platform in practically every segment possible, including the regular sedan and 4 Series Gran Coupe, which would seem to be direct competitors. Porsche might be the winner, though, with 20 different variants of the 911 listed for sale on its US website. However, some of this model madness might be reaching an end as companies begin cutting back spending or shifting money to other priorities.
According to Yahoo Finance, the offerings from the German automakers are up 25 percent over the past three years to over 200 models in Europe. The peak is expected to come around 2018 at 230 separate vehicles, according to consulting company PwC.
Amazingly, BMW, which is among the poster children for this model explosion, might be changing its tune. "I'm sure there will be points in the future where we look at certain cars and say, 'Maybe we need to think differently now,'" said head of sales Ian Robertson in an interview, according to Yahoo Finance. The statement certainly sounds shocking coming from a company rumored to have 23 front-wheel-drive vehicles all using a single platform on the way.
In many ways, we're living in a golden age of automotive performance. After all, it's possible to show up at a Dodge dealer, hand over about $60,000 and storm away with a 707-horsepower Challenger Hellcat. Or for those who prefer a touch more luxury, the BMW M4, Mercedes-AMG C63 and latest Cadillac ATS-V offer between 425 and 503 horsepower, depending on your pick, with a bit more poshness. However, none of these powerful vehicles fit the classic definition of a two-place, droptop sports car, and according BMW head of sales Ian Robertson, that's because the segment is very much in the doldrums.
According to Robertson, two factors seriously wounded the classic sports car market. First, the global economic crisis of a few years ago put a serious hurt on sales, according to Bloomberg. Further worsening the situation, the boom in popularity of luxury SUVs and crossovers in the past few years hasn't allowed for much recovery. Even car-hungry China hasn't helped much because of the smog in many cities and preference among some of the very rich there to be chauffeured.
Combined, Audi TT, BMW Z4 and Mercedes-Benz SLK sales peaked around 114,000 units a year in 2007, but they are only expected to reach 72,000 annually by the end of the decade. Robertson is pretty pessimistic about the market's comeback too. "Post-2008, it just collapsed. I'm not so sure it'll ever fully recover," he said to Bloomberg.
Any time you see this iconic moment in pop culture - Shut up and take my money! - posted in response to a new car reveal, rumor for an upcoming model or even lip-service to a vehicle that should exist, you can bet there's some intrinsic good in the idea. Though depending on the person offering up the cash, that good could take the form of extraordinary form, functionality, weight savings, power, handling, etc. You get the idea.
In fact, when I first proposed this list, I reached out to the Autoblog staff to help me brainstorm. Here are some of the ideas they offered up that I ultimately didn't use: Jaguar XE Coupe, Pagani Huayra Roadster, Mercedes-Benz S-Class "parade car" (cabriolet), Morgan 3-Wheeler with Ducati V-twin, Ford Transit Connectamino (pickup), Mercedes CLA63 AMG, Ford Fusion 5.0, BMW i8 Spyder, Lexus RC-F Shooting Brake, Volvo XC90 Polestar. Oh, and things we collectively wanted to stick Dodge's Hellcat in were almost as numerous as models that Fiat Chrysler Automotive currently makes (though none quite so compelling as the Grand Cherokee you see above.)
Ultimately though, while I used a couple of ideas from my colleagues, the list of cars I'd shell out for unquestionably is very personal. Though it isn't complete, what follows is a selection of cars whose very existence would prompt me - or the trust-fund-baby versions of me - to utter without hesitation: "Shut up and take my money."
The next BMW 1 Series Sedan has made another appearance following our last peek at it in September, and this time, the gallery of images even reveals part of the new car's interior.
Of course, if these images prove anything, it's that manufacturers take camouflage of the interior just as seriously as they do the exterior. We can see in these images a fairly simple cabin, with what looks like a fixed central display. It's quite small, although the housing itself is rather large, so we could be looking at a more basic form of iDrive rather than the full-featured set. Overall, though, this cabin more or less confirms that the 1 Series Sedan will fit in with the rest of the BMW family quite nicely.
Outside of the interior images, though, there isn't a lot of new stuff revealed by these images. As for when we'll see both the interior and exterior fully undisguised, our spies continue pointing to a 2016 debut with a 2017 on-sale date.
October 31 is no longer known as Halloween, or All Saints' Eve or even as that day when all children simultaneously develop huge cavities. It's now known as the day before Christmas/holiday advertising begins. Seriously, as of November 1, it seems like companies across the country and from every industry have declared open season on holiday ad campaigns. It's all premature enough that we're already feeling our inner Grinch showing, but at least some of the ads are better done than others.
Among them are new spots from BMW, which has arrived with this mini-campaign of three 30-second, Christmas-themed spots. There's a cameo from Santa Claus, who's at the helm of a sleek M6 Gran Coupe in one spot, while a 3 Series Gran Coupe slices through a slalom of Christmas trees in another. The final spot, called "Road Home", doesn't focus so much on the brand's "Ultimate Driving Machines," as it does the trip home for the holidays.
We've embedded all three videos below, so take a look and then let us know what you think of this seemingly perpetual holiday marketing calendar creep - and the BMW ads in particular - in Comments.