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First Drive: 2016 BMW 7-Series

A techie’s dream car.

by on Aug.28, 2015

The new 2016 BMW 7-Series will come to the U.S. only in long-wheelbase form.

The value of a luxury car has traditionally been measured by the pound and feet, by the size and number of cylinders of its engine and, of course, by the number of trees and cowhides used to complete its passenger compartment. But the old measurements have begun to change, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the sixth-generation BMW 7-Series.

True, with U.S. buyers now set to get only the long-wheelbase version, it’s bigger than ever. But the new sedan also gets lighter, thanks to the extensive use of carbon fiber, aluminum and ultra-high-strength steel. It uses a twin-turbo engine to punch out incredible amounts of power from a relatively modest 4.4-liter V-8. And while there’s more leather and wood than ever – some of it barely apparent to passengers – BMW expects buyers to be drawn to the incredible array of technologies that have increasingly come to define the best luxury vehicles.

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In developing the 2016 7-Series, BMW engineers intentionally set out to one-up the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the latest version having become the current, high-tech automotive benchmark. And, at least in terms of the number and range of new features the 7-Series offers, it would seem they’ve succeeded. From a comfort and safety standpoint, never mind the manufacturing side, the new BMW 750i is a high-tech showcase.


First Look: 2016 BMW X1

Big things in a small package.

by on Jun.02, 2015

BMW claims the 2016 remake of the X1 will offer the roomiest interior in its segment.

Small outside, big inside. That’s been a major selling point for a new generation of compact Sport-Utility Vehicles, such as the BMW X1. And the German maker is promising to deliver even greater room, versatility — and performance — as it prepares to roll out the second-generation X1.

In keeping with broader trends in the luxury market, the new Sport Activity Vehicle, as BMW prefers to call it, will also yield more power even while cutting emissions and fuel consumption thanks to the latest EfficientDynamics technologies.

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The debut of the 2016 BMW X1 comes just six years after the launch of the original model and underscores the increasingly competitive nature of a segment that barely existed when the first one hit the street. Sales of the original have already been approaching the 700,000 mark.


First Drive: 2015 BMW M235i

Performance with a youthful flair.

by on Jan.20, 2014

The new BMW M235i driving through Las Vegas.

It’s getting to be more and more of a challenge keeping up with the expanding line-up at BMW, but at least there’s a logic to the maker’s madness as it rolls out a modified nomenclature strategy that is far easier to follow than some of its competitors’ alphanumeric offerings.

The worldwide launch of the new 2-Series coupe comes as BMW shifts to even numbers for its 2-door models, whether coupes or convertibles, with sedans sticking with odd numbers.  The new 2-Series was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show, which also staged the world debuts of the M3 and M4 models and the 4 Series Convertible.

High Performer!

With the 2-Series BMW hopes to tap the interest of the Millennial generation, a cohort of young buyers who have so far been less than friendly to automobiles, many waiting much longer than in decades past to even get their driver’s licenses. The hope is that sporty and relatively affordable models like the new M235i might finally start drawing them into showrooms.


First Drive: BMW X3 xDrive35i

The Ultimate Freeway Machine Isn’t as Happy in Town.

by on Sep.09, 2011

The styling of the BMW X3 is an evolution of the original baby Bimmer sport ute.

It’s not surprising that BMW’s X3 xDrive35i loves to stretch its legs on the freeways and highways. After all, it was bred on Germany’s silky smooth and – in some places – speed limit-free Autobahn.

In that arena, the twin-turbo inline six provides effortless acceleration, there’s plenty of room for everyone and the X3’s many luxury features coddle occupants.

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So why does its personality completely change around town where it feels like a pit bull straining its leash?

The first-generation X3 was roundly criticized for its punishing ride and, in retrospect, the automaker admitted that the interior wasn’t as good as it should have been, either.


First Drive: 2012 BMW 1-Series M

BMW’s most affordable M model sadly won’t be around long.

by on Jun.06, 2011

The BMW 1M is the smallest - and lowest-priced - model to carry the M designation.

The good news?  BMW has introduced the fastest small car in its line-up — and the most affordable car ever to wear the vaunted M badge.  The bad news?  It won’t be around for long.

More than two years in the making, we got the chance to take the 2011 BMW 1-Series M for a spin on the challenging Willow Springs Raceway, north of Los Angeles, discovering that both on and off the track it more than lives up to admittedly tough expectations.

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At just $47,010, including destination charges, the new 1M will likely have a lot of M aficionados checking their bank accounts hoping to find enough change hidden in the couch to plunk down a deposit.  But if you’re among them you’d better move fast, as the maker has an all-new 1-Series coming later this year.  The current 1M will be pulled from production, with no clear date set for its replacement.  (For more on the new 2012 BMW 1-Series, Click Here.)

Our day with the M started in suburban Los Angeles as we headed north through the back country canyons that can quickly test the mettle of even the most promising performance cars.  It didn’t take long to feel at one with the machine which, like all BMW M models, is clearly more than just muscle.


BMW’s New 6-Series a High-Visibility No-Show at L.A. Auto Show

We have the pics, the details, but where’s the sheet metal?

by on Nov.19, 2010

BMW pulls a sneak preview for the new 2012 650i Convertible, which goes on sales early in 2011.

The much-anticipated L.A. Auto Show preview of the 2012 BMW 650i Convertible may have happened but no one seems to know where.  Despite a press release suggesting the debut took place, the German maker didn’t show up on the media preview schedule, nor did it pull it off a surprise unveiling by, say, hijacking some other manufacturer’s timeslot.

That said, we’ve got the details and pictures of the 6-Series drop-top and are pleased to pass them along.

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Set to launch next year as a 2012 model, the next-generation cabriolet is a decidedly cleaner and more elegant-looking offering than the old 6-er convertible.  The basic dimensions are classic BMW, with the long hood, rear-set passenger compartment and muscular fenders.  The vehicle is a bit larger than the outgoing convertible in most dimensions, the overall length, for example, growing 2.9 inches, to 192.6 inches.


First Drive: 2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe

But is there an M1 to follow?

by on Oct.12, 2010

Partially disguised, we get our first drive of the 2012 BMW 1-Series Coupe. But feel free to call it the M1...unoffiicially.

Other than the transformative 2002tii, few BMW models have been the subject of more lore than the original, hand-built M1 sports car sold between 1978 and 1981.

So, when word got around that a new BMW M coupe was clocking blistering speeds around the Nurburgring race circuit rumors began to circulate that the legendary nameplate was coming back.

Alas, as I learned during a visit to Spain’s Ascari race track, over the summer, BMW’s surprise was really a 1-Series coupe in crafty camouflage.  In the German logic, the name M1 has been permanently set aside, like the number of a baseball Hall-of-Famer.  So, what we’re about to get is the new BMW 1-Series M Coupe.

Once we got past that dance with semantics our next question was simple: when can we go for a drive?  We got our answer, earlier this month, in Munich, at the formal unveiling of the smallest model to emerge from the vaunted M GmbH.

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Surprisingly, even at the 1-Series M Coupe’s unveiling, BMW still was holding back on a number of technical details – and the product I got to drive still wore some camo.

The full and final presentation won’t come until mid-December.  But with a wee bit of seat time and a few subtle questions for spokesperson Stefan Behr and development chief Albert Biermann we were able to get a pretty solid sense of what to come.