With nearly 60 different products making their U.S. or global debut at this year’s New York Auto Show, nearly every major automaker – and quite a few smaller ones – has something to show off this month.
But BMW has a disproportionate presence on the list, with the Bavarian automaker putting a particular emphasis on performance. But the maker is also giving a hint as to its possible plans to roll out a battery-based version of its big X5 Sport Activity Vehicle.
“This is a year for BMW to set significant milestones,” said Ian Robertson, the BMW board member overseeing global sales. It’s already pulled off one, delivering a record 487,000 vehicles during the first quarter of the year worldwide, and the company – which includes brands BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce — is “aiming for a significant increase to a record of over 2 million” vehicles for all of 2014.
No surprise, the maker is counting on the pull from several new products that fit its long-standing tagline, “the ultimate driving machine.” That includes a convertible version of the high-performance M4 sedan it recently launched, as well as the new X4 coupe-like Sport Activity Vehicle.
(Former BMW chairman winds up at Volkswagen. Click Here to find out more.)
In BMW nomenclature, odd numbered product lines designate sedans while even numbers are for convertibles, coupes and – a bit confusingly, coupe-like four-door models and hatchbacks. The 4-Series recently split off from the well-known BMW 3-Series, though they share the same basic mechanical underpinnings.
The M designation, meanwhile, is reserved for the maker’s highest-performance lines, and the hardtop M4 cabriolet gets a 425-horsepower version of the TwinPower 3.0-liter inline-sex, the same as now found on the M3 sedan and M4 coupe.
The cabriolet has undergone a significant reduction in mass, shedding about 90 pounds compared to the older M3 convertible, thanks to such steps as the use of a carbon fiber driveshaft. The result should be measurable in both improved performance and better mileage with the new, open-air model, which will reach showrooms over the summer.
Sales chief Robertson also unveiled the new X4, the newest member in the SAV crossover family. It actually has four doors – five, if you count the rear hatch – but it has a decidedly coupe-like body. Adding to any confusion, it is “based on the technical blueprint” used for the current BMW X3 line, the executive notes, though it “clearly goes its own way in terms of exterior design.”
The X4 will reach U.S. showrooms by July in two initial configurations – the X4 xDrive289 featuring a 240-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-four, and the X4 xDrive35i with its 300-hp 3.0-liter inline-six – but an M version is likely to follow. Prices start at $45,625.
The U.S. is the single-largest market for the expanding line of X models, which now includes variants of the X1, X3, X4, X5 and X6. Globally, they account for a quarter of the maker’s sales, a share expected to keep growing.
That line-up could soon include a new plug-in hybrid, BMW earlier in the week giving a group of journalists the opportunity to test a prototype dubbed the Concept X5 eDrive that could yield as much as a third better mileage than a comparable gas-only model.
Though not officially approved for production, Robertson seemed to be all but guaranteeing its future when he noted, “This vehicle will be high-tech, with maximum fuel economy setting a new benchmark.
(For more on the new BMW X5 plug-in hybrid concept, Click Here.)
BMW officials had to struggle to run down the list of all the new models they’re debuting this week within the confines of a 25-minute news conference.
Also on tap: two more 4-Series models, the BMW 428i Gran Coupe and 435i Gran Coupe, both four-door models with coupe-like rooflines. And BMW affiliate Alpina weighed in with the B6 Gran Coupe, a limited-edition, $118,225 four-door coupe turning out a whopping 540 horsepower from its specially tuned 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8
The flood of new products from BMW underscores the push German manufacturers have been making to fill seemingly every possible niche in the luxury market. Just before the Bavarian marque’s news conference began, a top official from rival Mercedes-Benz noted that company’s plans to launch 30 new products – roughly one every quarter – through the end of the decade.
(Click Here to check out the all-new BMW S63 AMG 4Matic Coupe.)