Displaying items by tag: BMW

Friday, 17 September 2021 07:06

BMW 330e review

Plug-in BMW 3 Series is an excellent, tax-efficient all-rounder 

 At a glance

New price £40,440 - £51,145
Lease from new From £475 p/mView lease deals
Used price £24,905 - £45,360
Used monthly cost From £622 per month
Fuel Economy 156.9 - 217.3 mpg
Road tax cost £145 - £480
Insurance group 33 - 36How much is it to insure?
26.5 - 36.8
Miles per pound (mpp)


  • Up to 41 miles of battery-only range
  • Lovely steering and balanced handling
  • Great hybrid efficiency and performance


  • Not as nice to drive as a standard petrol 3 Series
  • Lacks the sweet-sounding engine of a 330i
  • Reduced boot space compared with non plug-ins

Is the BMW 330e any good?

It won't exactly be news to you that the BMW 330e is very good indeed. It already accounts for 25% of all 3 Series sales in the UK thanks to the undeniable tax avantages of running the plug-in version on the company. But the good news is that this is not be the only reason for going for a 330e – it is a genuinely excellent all-rounder.

For one, it's very good to drive. Not perfect, but very good. For another, the electric-only driving range is usable to the point that it will cover most owners' commutes. And finally, there's the XtraBoost feature that cranks the combined petrol/electric power output up to 295hp – if only for short bursts at a time.

So, it's a plug-in that's rational and exciting – read on to find out just what it is that makes the 330e so special.

What's it like inside?

If you're familiar with the standard BMW 3 Series, then you won't find many surprises here, and it's business as usual. The boot space has suffered compared with the standard car, as you’ll find the floor is humped. The hump is actually the fuel tank, which has been moved from its usual position under the seats to make room for the batteries – overall effect is that the standard saloon packs away 480 litres of boot space, while the 330e has just 375 litres.

The infotainment systems and digital dials gain hybrid-related display options, but aside from rearranging a few of the buttons on the centre console, this is the only difference in the passenger compartment.

  • Read all about the standard BMW 3 Series' interior here
BMW 330e interior (2021)
 What's it like to drive?

The 330e combines the same 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo petrol engine you’ll find in the regular 320i with an electric motor that’s neatly integrated into the eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. The petrol engine develops 184hp and the electric motor adds another 112hp. Very impressive, even if you can’t just add those two figures together to get the car’s total power output.

So, the 330e’s official power output is 252hp, which rises to 292hp when you activate the XtraBoost function for short periods of time under full acceleration. There's no 'push to pass' boost button, it's just activated by flooring the accelerator in either the S or M transmission settings.

On the road, the results are impressive. Floor it from the lights and the 330e springs forward with real vigour. The 0-62mph time is 5.9 seconds, but it feels faster than that, especially considering how on the motorway it builds speed quicker than a 330d. You only get 10 seconds of XtraBoost, but that's more than enough on UK roads.


One criticism we'd level at the 330e is that it just isn’t that much fun to drive. The four-cylinder engine sounds strained when worked hard and it feels less agile in bends, presumably as a result of accommodating the additional weight of the hybrid batteries.

But it is still a car that devours bends without blinking. It’s just that a little of the fun has gone missing from the process, as exhibited by the slightly light and artificial feel to the steering (again, even in the heaviest Sport setting).

BMW 330e charging port
Range and hybrid driving

The 330e is able to drive up to 41 miles on electric power alone, and there are an increased number of options to make the most of it battery. You can set a guide percentage of power pack life you’d like to retain and the car will do its best to manage this on your behalf.

There is also an automatic setting, which works with the sat-nav guidance to choose the most appropriate points on your route to deploy the electricity. You can manually activate full electric mode up to 87mph and cruise there until the remaining range runs out.

Fuel economy and charging times

The official fuel economy for the 330e is a claimed 138mpg in the WLTP real-world test, with CO2 emissions of 39g/km (that’s 10% less CO2 than the last version). You’ll need to be using the electric power a lot and mostly doing short journeys to get close to those figures, however.

You’ll also need to plug the hybrid part into the mains as many times as possible in between journeys; a full charge takes three hours and 25 minutes using a BMW i Wallbox, or five hours and 40 minutes using a plain old three-pin plug.

BMW 330e (2021) rear view, driving
What models and trims are available?

As with the standard car, quality is right up there, but the interior design has arguably become a little too generic, and despite the size of the screens available, remains rather cluttered. The 330e is available in SE, Sport and M Sport specification, just like the rest of the UK range.

BMW 330e (2021) side view
Should you buy one?

If you want a medium-sized plug-in hybrid family car, then this is the best you can buy right now. And as such, we can heartily recommend the 330e in either Saloon or Touring form – with the latter's additional practicality being an additional selling point for us.

Rivals include the Mercedes-Benz C-Class PHEV (in petrol and diesel forms), the Peugeot 508 PHEV, Volkswagen Passat GTE and Skoda Superb iV, and the. There's no Audi in the list – the A4 TFSIe is yet to be announced. And as an overall package, the 330e beats them all.

But while the 330e does the whole PHEV thing perfectly well, it still isn’t the kind of car that works as well as it should for car enthusiasts. This is well thought-out and even enjoyable tool, rather than the kind of genuinely emotional experience a really outstanding BMW can be.

Buy a new, nearly new or used BMW 3-Series 330e Hybrid

See all the current BMW 3-Series 330e deals on Parkers Cars For Sale

What we like

BMW’s plug-in hybrid is blessed with plentiful performance, an extended electric range of more than 40 miles and some other very clever tricks. Its popularity is no accident – you might buy it to save on tax, but you can enjoy yourself at the same time, as it's a BMW through-and-through and drives as it should.

What we don't like

It's all relative, but do bear in mind that if you're opting out of a 330d or 330i, it'll feel marginally less agile in your hands.


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What needs to be pointed out immediately is that BMW has absolutely nothing to do with this new project.

At one time, the tiny Isetta saved BMW from almost certain doom, so it deserves a special place in the rich history of the blue-and-white propeller. Now the Swiss company Micro will try to take over the Isetta concept.

We saw a baby named Microlino back in 2016, and then it was planned for production to start in 2018. As is usually the case with young companies like this, there has been a delay in presenting another concept release in 2020. Now, finally, the serial version of the Microlin has been shown.

It will come in three variants: Urban, Dolce, and Competizione. As you can see, the Swiss also used the Italian dictionary, as did the BMW with the Isetta. The design of the Microlina has not changed significantly and it can be freely assessed that the little one is very charming, which is not the case with the rival Citroen Ami.

The slightly egg-shaped form with straight lines and clean surfaces evokes memories of other, long-gone times. The doors are at the front of the vehicle, as was the case with the Isetta, while the headlights are housed in rear-view mirrors - a rarely seen solution.
The Microlino is designed as a two-seater, and the Swiss state that in addition to two people, there is room for another 230 liters of luggage - which is far more than it seems from the photos. In front of the driver is a simple steering wheel, as well as a digital instrument panel, while in the middle of the dashboard is a miniature touch screen, through which you can access the most important functions.

Representatives of the Micro brand point out that they especially worked on the torsional strength of this vehicle, which further improved the driving dynamics. They also state that McPherson is placed both in front and behind when it comes to hanging.

The electric motor that drives this little one has 17 hp and 118 Nm, with a peak power of 25 hp. The total weight of the vehicle is a modest 435 kg, which enables fine performance - in 5 seconds it reaches 50 km / h, while the maximum speed is 90 km / h. 

Microlino offers a choice of three batteries, 6 kWh, 10.5 kWh, and 14 kWh. With the weakest battery, it has a range of 95 km, a medium one with 175 km, while with the one with the largest capacity, it can cover as much as 230 km. It takes 4 hours (6 kWh and 14 kWh) to charge an empty battery up to 80% of its capacity, while a 10.5 kWh battery takes 3 hours.

The starting price for Microlino will be 12,500 euros (which will be significantly less with subsidies in most of Europe). Micro states that an annual production of 7,500 copies is planned in their factory in Turin, and that they already have more than 24,000 orders for an electric microcar.


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The Germans are once again pushing the boundaries of design with a new, very unusual city car solution for 2040. BMW “i Vision Circular” is a vehicle concept for urban environments that can be completely recycled. It is adorned with an unprecedented cabin, and you can see more incredible details in the video at the end of this text.

BMW "i Vision Circular" represents the concept of the four-seater electric city car of the future, which is a completely environmentally friendly vehicle. This means that the entire car is made from materials that can be recycled at the end of its life, including the battery, according to BMW's "think, re: duce, use and re: cycle" philosophy.

BMW believes that the way the car is made is as important as the reduction of harmful particles from the exhaust, so they want to achieve climate neutrality throughout the life of the vehicle, writes Auto Klub.

As for the concept, in terms of design, it can be concluded that it is a BMW model - but what used to be kidneys are now two longitudinally stretched digital surfaces over the entire front end with implemented LED lights and the ability to actively change the graphics.

A distinctive BMW design solution in the form of a rear side window and rear roof rack "hofmeister kink" named after the designer Wilhelm Hofmeister as all BMW models have to this day is present here.

The steel components of the concept will be made of secondary (recycled) aluminum and steel, and the battery is also made of recycled materials, which can be reused at the end of the car's life.
The tires, on the other hand, are made of sustainable natural rubber and contain colored particles of recycled rubber that add strength and create a distinctive look.

Moreover, BMW says drivers will be able to send excess energy back to the grid from the car’s battery.
Such connectivity is exactly the function we can expect on electric BMW models in the coming years.

Although it could take quite some time before we see a serial interior like this one in the concept and Vision Cirucular from BMW.

Namely, the center of the cockpit is dominated by a giant "kryptonite" screen that uses light effects to display from the car's computer center, and is also significant for the lack of visible edges. There are no conventional instruments in the cabin at all.

As expected, passengers sit on recycled lavender seats, while the square steering wheel is made of biologically based material in 3D, in this case wood powder.

The BMW Vision Circular concept shows the brand's aspirations for the future and we can expect that many of its ideas on sustainability will be "drawn" into future BMW models in the coming years.

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Friday, 30 July 2021 07:10

BMW M3 Competition Review: 85% Brilliant

Versus the competition: The M3’s adjustability sets it apart from competitors like the Mercedes-AMG C63 and the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio; it can be a calm around-town cruiser or the ultimate track monster with the push of a few buttons.

The BMW M3 is one of those iconic sports machines that creates strong feelings among enthusiasts. Is the new one as good as the old one? Can all its technology make up for the extra weight it lugs around? Has it become too expensive, too unattainable, too electronic?

There’s plenty of debate in the car-enthusiast world, but something that hasn’t generally been an issue for the BMW M3 before is its looks — until now: Is it too ugly to be seriously considered? We don’t normally discuss how a vehicle looks, as taste in design is largely subjective; one person’s hideous is another person’s appealing. But if our anecdotal discussions with current M3 sedan and M4 coupe owners are any indication, the M3’s new styling may just impact its viability for a lot of buyers. Can the M3’s performance and other abilities overcome its questionable looks?


OK, we should just get this out of the way: BMW’s new buck-toothed styling is awful. This is a worse transgression than the “Bangle butt” of the 2002 BMW 7 Series. The best anyone seems able to muster about the odd grille treatment is, “It doesn’t look too bad.” That’s a damned far cry from “Wow, that’s gorgeous.”

But it isn’t just the grille that’s offensive. Look down the M3’s body side and you’ll notice the fenders have been flared to cover its wider wheels and tires. Then you’ll notice the door skins have not been widened to match the fenders, which becomes awkward where the rear doors meet the rear quarter panels. This is BMW cheapening out on the upgrade from 3 Series to M3 by not also modifying the door skins in order to save a couple bucks. The result looks half-done and amateurish — a decidedly disappointing visual update that takes away a significant portion of the M3’s appeal.

If You Can Get Past the Looks …

The driver’s seat is where the new M3 makes its strongest case for overlooking the fact that it looks like the lovechild of SpongeBob SquarePants and a garden vole. And that case is indeed strong; the M3 drives as well as it ever has, with abilities unmatched by plenty of super-expensive ultra-sports-cars — all while disguising itself as a compact sports sedan.

I didn’t even mind that my test car was an automatic, as its engine and transmission combination is world-beating. The two are exceptionally well matched, and you can fine-tune how it performs by selecting one of six progressively sportier transmission modes — three automatic and three manual. I rarely used the manual function for shifting gears; I felt no need to second-guess what the transmission was doing quite well on its own, and the idea of manually shifting an automatic transmission with flappy paddle shifters strikes me as silly.

Acceleration is explosive. Mash the go-pedal and hang on for dear life, as the thing rockets forward with serious force when asked to do so. The beauty of the M3 is that everything seems electronically adjustable, from throttle response and transmission shifts to steering feedback and brake pedal feel. You store your settings in the computer, then choose them via a couple of big red buttons right on the steering wheel.


When it comes to M Performance cars, I like to set up one of the two options as a cruiser (relaxed responses, softer suspension, easy-does-it gear changes) and the other as a brawler (aggressive steering, firmer suspension, hair-trigger throttle). For around-town driving, I keep it in cruiser mode and enjoy driving a comfortable, luxurious sports sedan. Then when I come upon a twisty bit of back road — or even a long highway on-ramp — brawler mode instantly ratchets the M3 up to far more aggressive, entertaining levels for as long as I want it to.

And man, is it ever entertaining. Everything on the M3 Competition is track-ready, with electronically controlled brakes that feel far better than those in a standard 3 or 4 Series. Steering is quick and responsive, and the suspension is sophisticated — all of which combines to allow for driving well in excess of posted speed limits without even realizing you’re doing so. The only indication you’re going faster than you should is a rather surprising amount of road and wind noise that comes through to the cabin. Part of that was due to my test car’s super-sticky summer performance tires (on 19-inch wheels up front, 20-inchers in back), which transmit a lot of pavement noise partly thanks to the car’s aerodynamics.

An Evolutionary Interior

While the latest M3’s exterior has changed considerably versus the outgoing model, the interior has seen a more evolutionary progression. It’s changed so slowly, in fact, that you might sit in the thing and wonder what’s even different. But that’s OK, as BMW’s latest interiors are quite nice — and they do not include an overly aggressive move toward touch-sensitive flat panel surfaces over traditional buttons, thank goodness.

The M3’s sport seats might look too aggressively bolstered and uncomfortable, but they’re anything but; they proved to be supremely comfortable and supportive in all the right places, both in spirited driving and on longer highway voyages. They look the business, too, matching the M3’s sporting personality well.

The Competition trim I drove also featured an optional Executive Package, which includes niceties like a heated steering wheel, BMW’s Gesture Control for the multimedia system, a head-up display and more. The chunky steering wheel feels excellent in your hands, but the real standouts are the bright red M1 and M2 buttons on the spokes; they just beg you to punch them and let the M3 loose on the world.


Supercar Performance, Luxury Car Prices

The M3’s overall performance is stunning. It’s an immensely satisfying driver’s car, with abilities and technology matching more exotic supercar coupes, but in a package that’s eminently more sensible as a daily driver. It’s easily track-capable off the showroom floor, and it can also be a satisfying backroad brawler or high-speed highway cruiser if its driver never wants to turn a wheel in anger on a race course.

The M3’s starting price is $70,895 (prices include destination), jumping up to $73,795 for the Competition trim. Bumping up to the Competition gets you the more powerful engine, a standard automatic transmission (the manual is sadly not available), larger wheels and tires, special seat belts and Shadowline exterior trim. My test vehicle had a few other options, including a $1,950 paint job and a special leather interior that ran $2,550. The Executive Package costs $3,000 and adds remote start, a heated steering wheel, a power opening trunk, adaptive LED headlights, wireless personal electronics charging and BMW’s gesture control for the latest iDrive multimedia system. The total for my deep blue test car came to $93,495.

A hundred grand isn’t chump change for any kind of automotive purchase, but the sheer capability of the new M3 — and its ability to generate an amazingly entertaining driving experience on the road or the track — means it’s a screaming value compared with supercars that do the same things, usually with less interior space and functionality.

The M3 is 85% brilliant; it’s the 15% forward of the front fenders that’s the big problem, and it’s more than just a casual issue. If other buyers are as turned off by the new face as was my friend, it could spell trouble for BMW. If buyers are more interested in the car’s abilities than its appearance, however, the German luxury brand has nothing to worry about.


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Thursday, 24 June 2021 07:08

BMW M5 saloon review

The BMW M5 is the high-performance version of the standard BMW 5 Series and competes with the Mercedes-AMG E63, Porsche Panamera and Audi RS7 for buyers looking for a ‘super saloon’. The Mercedes matches the BMW most closely in shape and price, though – both are four-door saloons that will set you back nearly £100,000 before options.

A substantial amount of what you’ll pay for the car goes towards what’s under the bonnet. Now available in ‘Competition’ spec, the M5 is powered by a 616bhp 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine that takes the car from 0-62mph in only 3.3 seconds. Considering it weighs almost two tons, both the M5’s straight-line speed and agility are remarkable.

When the ‘F90’ M5 model was originally launched, it had 592bhp, with the 616bhp Competition model adding around £7,000 to the list price. As well as the extra power, it also had some styling tweaks, a sports exhaust and revised suspension.

In late 2020, the M5 Competition was facelifted along with the standard 5 Series. The changes included a tweaked front end, new LED lights and extra paint finishes. The interior was also updated with a new 12.3-inch infotainment system, and an array of new safety tech was added. Chassis changes were limited to a new adaptive suspension setup borrowed from the current M8 Gran Coupe.

While the facelifted version of the M5 Competition will set you back over £100,000 before options, BMW also introduced an even faster model in 2021. Dubbed the M5 CS, it’s lighter than the standard car (weighing around 1,800kg) and is billed as a track-focused saloon. It’s quicker too, managing 0-62mph in three seconds thanks to an increased power output of 626bhp. Naturally, it costs more than the standard car, with a starting price of around £140,000.

The M5 Competition is equipped with BMW’s M xDrive four-wheel-drive system, which means there’s more grip and cornering performance than ever. Purists will be heartened to hear that firstly, the system has been engineered to give the car a rear-wheel-drive feel and, secondly, there’s a mode to send all power to the rear if you want.

While it’s incredibly quick, the M5 Competition is also capable of satisfactorily carrying out the duties of a luxury saloon car. In Comfort mode, the ride is soft enough to soak up all but the worst bumps in the road and the interior is plush and luxurious.

However, despite its brilliance as a high-speed cruiser and its competence on twisty roads, the latest M5 doesn't quite engage you the way its predecessors did – it feel like there's a hi-tech barrier between you and the car; the steering feels well weighted but it's surprisingly muted in terms of feel, for example.

But this criticism is also true of many of the M5's super saloon competitors and is something of a sign of the times. It doesn't prevent the BMW from being at least equal to its Mercedes rival - even if the Merc has the more exciting engine - and in Competition form, the M5 is the best all-round supersaloon you can buy. Its handling flaws can also be remedied if you're prepared to pay the extra for the M5 CS, because its revised suspension is a revelation. Not only does it feel more settled, it's better to drive and more involving too.

MPG, running costs & CO2

The BMW M5 isn't cheap to buy and it won't be cheap to run either
The M5 Competition is only available with one large engine and it’s been designed for power rather than fuel economy. The introduction of turbocharging and the downsizing of the engine compared with previous M5s is a nod to improving efficiency, but the 4.4-litre V8 still only returns around 25mpg, which we were able to get close to during our test. However, as with any super saloon, driving the M5 with any kind of enthusiasm or in heavy traffic will lead to fuel economy figures dropping into the mid-teens or lower.

After the first year's CO2-based road tax (generally included in the on-the-road price), every M5 will cost the standard rate each year to tax. With a list price of more than £40,000, the M5 is also liable for an additional VED surcharge in years two to six of ownership, making the bill higher during that period. CO2 emissions starting from 254g/km place the M5 in the highest Benefit-in-Kind band for company-car drivers and it's also expensive to insure, sitting in the top group 50.

Engines, drive & performance

The BMW M5 is incredibly quick and a great driver's car
The M5 Competition uses a twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 engine that produces 616bhp and gets the car from 0-62mph in 3.3 seconds. On paper, it has the edge on performance over the Mercedes-AMG E63 and only just falls behind the E63 S, but its engine goes about its business in a rather different way to its rival. Where the Mercedes barks and rumbles, the BMW screams and howls; it'll come down to personal taste which sound you'll prefer. The heart of the matter is that the M5 feels more like a racing car than the E63, but that's not necessarily what you want from a supersaloon.

The standard M5, originally launched in 2018, produced 592bhp and was capable of 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds, only slightly behind the 3.3 seconds of the Competition version.

While the M5 Competition isn’t noticeably faster in a straight line than the standard M5, it gets an array of minor suspension tweaks that really improve its overall performance. The changes mean the Competition is more responsive, with more precision and sharpness than the standard M5. Body control is even more impressive too.

The use of BMW’s xDrive four-wheel-drive system for the first time in the M5's history means there’s no shortage of traction when you put your foot down, with immense levels of grip during standing starts and when accelerating through corners. Despite sending power to all four wheels, the M5 feels like a very balanced rear-wheel-drive car, with the majority of the engine’s power going to the rear wheels during normal driving.

The M5 also has a clever Active M differential that apportions power between both sides of the car to aid cornering performance, while the xDrive system can send power to the front wheels to help pull you out of fast corners.

The car’s setup and driving modes can be controlled via the red coloured steering-wheel mounted ‘M1 and ‘M2’ buttons allowing you to link each to a preset mode. For those who prefer to use the M5s standard settings, the buttons can quickly cycle through Road, Sport or Track mode as well.

It's a very responsive system and unobtrusive in operation, suiting the M5's eye-watering speed – we managed 0-62mph in just 3.2 seconds in testing. The eight-speed automatic gearbox performs obediently, too, changing gears smoothly and quickly when you demand it through the column-mounted shift paddles.

Carbon-ceramic brakes are an expensive extra at around £7,670 but they provide huge stopping power on a consistent basis and seem particularly suited to a car of the M5’s power and weight. This option also adds a gold paint finish to the brake calipers.

The optional M Pro package focuses on performance raising the car’s top speed to 190mph from an electronically limited 155mph. It also adds the carbon-ceramic brakes, and costs an extra £7,995. The package also includes a one-day BMW M driver training course at a track in either the UK or in Germany.

For all its power and prowess, the M5 Competition lacks the absolute ultimate in excitement, mainly because of its slightly inert steering. Although accurate enough in use, it seems to filter out some of your inputs, so you never feel quite as connected to the car as you'd like.

While the Mercedes-AMG E63 does provide a more visceral driving experience, with its snarling exhaust note and more overtly muscular character, there’s no doubt that in Competition spec, the M5 is closer to matching its German rival for sheer exhilaration and driving thrills.

Released in 2021, the BMW M5 CS (Club Sport) successfully fixes most of the Competition's faults, if you're prepared to spend around £140,000 on a saloon car. Fitted with the adaptive dampers from the M8 Gran Coupe, it sits just 7mm lower, but the car feels more stable and less upset by even roads. This improves driver confidence and makes the driving experience feel more fluid.

Power increases to 626bhp and the CS weighs around 70kg less than the regular car, cutting the 0-62mph time to three seconds. It's the most powerful production BMW car ever built but it's the handling upgrades that make the biggest difference. Carbon-ceramic brakes are fitted as standard to boost stopping power.

Interior & comfort

Luxurious comfortable interior with plenty of standard equipment
The M5 comes with heated leather sports seats for the driver and front passenger, which give huge amounts of support and comfort. The dashboard is logically laid-out and the controls for the car’s on-board tech and systems are easy to use. The M5 comes with a leather interior as standard, giving it the upmarket feel inside you’d expect from an expensive BMW. Choose the M5 CS and the exterior is set apart by a new bodykit, with a large diffuser between the quad exhaust pipes.

Also present is BMW’s iDrive infotainment system, which runs on a crystal-clear 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen. It's quick and responsive to use, with clear graphics. Every M5 gets an array of technology as standard, including sat nav, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and wireless charging for your smartphone. A new 12.3-inch digital dial cluster also features, alongside a head-up display with unique M Division graphics.

The rotary controller has a touch-sensitive top, which allows you to sketch the shape of a letter on the pad with your finger (to enter a postcode for the sat nav, for example), rather than use the wheel to scroll through the alphabet. The system is packed with features and very easy to use.

The M5 is undoubtedly a performance car, but it’s also a luxury saloon and the ride manages to be impressively smooth when the car’s adaptive dampers are in Comfort mode. Even with large 20-inch alloy wheels, which can so often transmit every little imperfection from the road inside, the M5 is still sufficiently compliant to make the car a comfortable motorway cruiser.

This is one way in which the M5 trumps the Mercedes-AMG E63, as the latter feels much firmer and less comfortable by comparison. The Sport setting for the M5's dampers improves body control at the cost of some of the smoothness in Comfort, while the Track mode is best saved for a circuit, as the ride becomes so firm that any passengers will get shaken around. Some may feel the bucket seats fitted in the M5 CS are a step too far for an everyday car. They’re the same carbon items available in the latest M3 and M4, offering excellent support but feeling quite hardcore for a luxury saloon.

Practicality & boot space

The BMW M5 is as practical as the standard 5 Series
The M5’s chunky front sports seats don’t have a noticeable impact on rear space, so passengers in the back still have good head and legroom. Storage spaces are generously sized, with plenty of room in the door bins, glovebox and central cubbyhole. There are cup-holders and a place to charge the car’s Display Key or your mobile phone wirelessly.

Despite having a four-wheel-drive system, which can often impinge on boot space, the M5 still offers 530 litres of luggage room, just like the standard 5 Series. This is fractionally smaller than the 540 litres offered by the Mercedes-AMG E63, but certainly not enough of a difference to be a deciding factor in which of the two cars you choose to buy.

Reliability & safety

Expect the BMW M5 to match the high standards set by the basic 5 Series
BMW finished in 27th place out of 30 manufacturers in our 2020 Driver Power poll, lagging behind German rivals Audi who placed 21st. it's a worrying trend, particularly as it was partly down to 20.8% of owners reporting at least one fault within the first 12 months of ownership.

The M5 won’t be crash-tested as a standalone model, but when the standard 5 Series was put through its paces by Euro NCAP, it was awarded a five-star rating, with an adult occupancy safety score of 91%. It achieved an 85% score in the child occupant category and the car’s autonomous emergency braking system was highly commended.

The latest M5 Competition carries over all of the safety technology from the facelifted 5 Series, including updated lane keeping, lane changing assist and a 360-degree camera. Buyers can also add the Driving Assistant Professional, which uses the Active Navigation to automatically perform lane changes in advance. Rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control also feature.

BMW’s Parking Assistant Plus system was added to the M5 in the mid-2020 facelift, and is capable of automatically reversing the car into a space for a distance of up to 50 metres. A further addition is Drive Recorder, which uses a series of cameras dotted around the bodywork to continuously record footage as you drive, automatically saving the 20 seconds before and after any collision.


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Flagship 2022 BMW X8 will rival premium large SUV models including the Range Rover and Mercedes GLS

The forthcoming BMW X8 SUV has been spotted undergoing track testing ahead of its reveal in 2022. When it arrives, the X8 will sit at the top of the brand’s SUV line-up as a sleeker alternative to the X7, rivalling the Range Rover Sport, Mercedes GLS and the Bentley Bentayga.

BMW has already trademarked both the ‘X8’ and ‘X8 M’ names, suggesting the new car could be joined by a flagship M Division model alongside regular versions. It’s also thought a plug-in hybrid version could also be added to the X8 line-up. As a range-topping model, we’re expecting the price tag for the X8 to start from over £100,000.

2022 BMW X8 SUV: dimensions, design and platform

The new X8 share’s its platform with the X7 SUV, so is likely to be very similar in size. However, like the BMW X2, X4 and X6, the X8 looks like it’ll be a sleeker version of the standard SUV on which it’s based. It’ll be as wide as the X7 but with a lower roofline tapering towards the rear windscreen. It’s likely to have a sportier focus than the X7, sacrificing some rear headroom and boot space for less boxy styling.

These latest spy shots give a clear look at the design of the new car, and its nose features a large pair of BMW's signature kidney grilles, along with a new split-level headlight design. The car’s wheelarches appear to be more prominent, with the side-profile boasting a sleeker roofline with a small rear spoiler. At the rear, there appears to be a sharply angled tailgate and an angular rear bumper housing two large exhaust tips.

Engines and performance

BMW has filed several X8 trademarks in the last few years but the filing of ‘X8 M’ is the first hint that a performance version is also in the pipeline. It may use the 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine already employed in the BMW X5 M and M8, or a hybrid powertrain could be an alternative to make the X8 M even more powerful than these cars.

Previously, we spotted a development mule sporting ‘hybrid test vehicle’ stickers on it, so some form of electrification is almost guaranteed. We expect that BMW will offer the same plug-in hybrid powertrain as you get in the BMW X5 xDrive45e and 545e, which offers an impressive 50-mile electric range and a sub-six-second 0-62mph time.

Interior, technology and safety

While no details of the new car’s interior have been revealed yet, it’s likely the dashboard and interior of the X8 will be near-identical looking to the X7. It’ll also get the same technology, including an infotainment screen and a digital dial cluster measuring in at 12.3-inches each. BMW’s latest iDrive 8 operating system will also feature, along with safety technology such as a head-up-display, surround-view cameras and an array of driver assistance systems. Unlike coupe-SUV models such as the Audi Q8, which is only available with five seats, the X8 could retain the seven seat layout from it's X7 sibling thanks to it’s more upright roofline.


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After disappointing acceleration numbers in our first test, we brought the M550i back for a retest to see if things improve.

When we last checked in with the BMW M550i we were a bit puzzled by its slower-than-anticipated acceleration numbers. BMW claims a zero-to-60-mph time of 3.6 seconds yet our test car needed 4.1 seconds to hit that mark. Heavier BMWs with identical 523-hp twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8s, such as the X5 M50i, have bolted to 60 in 3.9 seconds, and our 5742-pound long-term BMW X7 M50i raced to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds. So, we called BMW's press office and asked to retest the M550i. There are plenty of things that can go wrong during testing. Possibly the V-8 or transmission had an issue or maybe the tank was filled with a bad batch of fuel. Whatever the reason, we got a different but identically spec’d M550i back for a retest.

The results of round two were quicker, but still slower than what BMW claims. Test two resulted in a 3.9-second time to 60 mph and a 12.1-second quarter at 120 mph. Those figures are 0.2-second quicker than before. The unchanged quarter-mile trap speed, a reliable indicator of a vehicle's power-to-weight ratio, indicates the engine in round two was making the same amount of power as in round one.

HIGHS: Strong and subdued V-8, all of the trappings of a luxury car, relaxing into it.
Even if this M550i is not as quick as expected, its V-8 remains special. BMW seems to get that and offers the V-8-hungry customer an entire menu section. There are 600- to 617-hp twin-turbo V-8s in M division vehicles (M5, M8, X5M, X6M), and the brand also sells the M550i's engine in the M850i, X5 M50i, X6 M50i, X7 M50i.

Set a mere rung below the M5, the M550i wears a body kit that makes it look nearly as aggressive as the M5, but crammed into the 5-series's engine bay is the detuned version of the BMW's 4.4-liter V-8. An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission, and it works brilliantly, delivering crisp shifts that largely go unnoticed and responding quickly to accelerator inputs. The engine has big lazy power and 553 pound-feet of torque to push you into the 20-way leather seats.

Under keep-the-gas-pedal-pinned acceleration, the M550i is considerably slower than an M5; we clocked the Competition model at 2.6 seconds to 60 and 10.7 seconds through the quarter-mile. But the M550i also is slightly quieter than an M5. The M550i's version of the engine redlines at 6500 rpm to the M5's 7200 rpm, so at full whack the M5 is a touch louder—81 dBa versus 79 dBa. There's a major difference when idling; an M5 registers 50 dBa to the M550i's 40-dBa whisper. The quieter demeanor matches the deluxe interior accommodations. When dressed with a full-leather dashboard ($700) and Cognac Dakota leather seats with the $3400 Bowers & Wilkins audio system playing Mozart's “The Marriage of Figaro,” the M550i xDrive does a convincing Rolls-Royce impression.

LOWS: Handling quirks, numb steering, not as quick as expected.
On the outside, there's no mistaking the M550i for a Roller. In Aventurin Red Metallic ($1950) and fitted with the M Performance appearance package you're basically looking at an M5 stunt double. Our test car came with optional 20-inch wheels with non-run-flat Bridgestone Potenza S007 summer tires. Those short little sidewalls don't look like they offer any cushioning, but fitted with the optional Adaptive M Suspension Pro you get a supple ride that avoids the crash of more overt performance models and the active anti-roll system keeps the 4480-pound sedan cornering as flat as a flapjack. On the skidpad, the Bridgestones held on with 0.95 g's of grip and stops from 70 mph took an easy and short 149 feet.

Actually using the chassis's potential in the canyons above Los Angeles left us a bit exhausted. Four-wheel steering is standard, as is Integral Active steering, and on top of that our test car came fitted with the $3600 Dynamic Handling Package that bundles the adaptive dampers and active anti-roll bars. BMW no longer fits a gearbox into the steering system to change ratios. Such as many other automakers, the ratio change—faster or slower—is done by altering the spacing of the teeth on the rack. BMW tunes the rear steer to increase agility or stability depending on the situation, but from behind the wheel the M550i's rear wheels seem to get into the act to disrupt your intended line through the corner. Dancing has a leader and a follower—the driver should lead, and the car should follow. The M550i keeps challenging the driver's prompts with unwanted yips and moves.

Path accuracy describes how well a car turns in and holds on to driver's intended path. We're guessing that the rear steer is tuned to give a lively feel, but when loaded up into a corner it revectors the car and you find yourself making adjustments to the numb steering to stay on the desired line. That bit of second-guessing that the chassis seems to do and the work you find yourself doing to counteract it is annoying and keeps you from trusting the car enough to push it hard in corners.

BMW doesn't fit the M5 with rear steer and it doesn't suffer from that sort of nervous second-guessing. We've previously experienced this handling quirk in a rear-steer equipped 540i and it remains here in the M550i, so we're guessing it's in how the system is tuned.

An M5 costs $25,000 more than the M550i's $77,795 base price, and that gap is why the 523-hp sedan exists. Loaded up, our tester came in at $93,735, but even if you try to go a la carte with the extras, all M550i models come with rear-steer and the chef doesn't offer substitutions. If you're thinking sports sedan, the M550i's handling might be a turn-off, but if you want to relax in leather-lined comfort while occasionally dusting off a Porsche driver at a stoplight drag race, you'll find the M550i pretty tasty.


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