Displaying items by tag: BMW

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.


Published in BMW
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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.


Published in BMW
Friday, 14 May 2021 06:43

A refurbished BMW X3 is coming soon

The current BMW X3 was introduced to the public in June 2017 (developed under the code number G01), it is based on the CLAR platform and is 55 kg lighter than its predecessor, while the coefficient of air resistance is 0.29.

In terms of dimensions, the X3 is 4716 mm long, 1897 mm wide, 1676 mm high and has a wheelbase of 2864 mm. It should also be mentioned here that the volume of the trunk is 550 liters, or 1,600 liters with the rear seats folded down.

Now, almost four years after its premiere, BMW has also prepared an updated version of it. This is confirmed by this first official image that was in the public eye, and which suggests that the Prime Minister is very close.

In any case, the trimmed front part, modified bumpers, front and rear LED lights, new design of aluminum wheels, new green color, gloss black details, as well as a modernized interior are expected.

There will most likely be no change in the engine range, so petrols with 184, 252 and 360 hp are expected, as well as diesels with 150, 190, 249 and 286 hp.

Also, the M versions with 480HP and 510HP respectively will be updated later.

As a reminder, the X3 M under the hood has a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine with M TwinPower Turbo technology and 353 kW / 480hp and 600 Nm of torque. There is also a more powerful Competition version, which has 375 kW / 510 hp and 600 Nm.

The BMW X3 M accelerates from 0 to 100 km / h in 4.2 seconds, while the 30HP more powerful Competition model does it in 4.1 seconds. In both cases the maximum speed is el. limited to 250 km / h but with the optional M Driver’s Package this limit is 280 km / h (for regular X3 M) or 285 km / h (for X3 M Competition).

In addition, the plug-in hybrid variant X3 xDrive30e remains in the range, bringing a combination of a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo petrol with 184hp, an electric motor with 109hp, lithium-ion batteries, an 8-speed Steptronic transmission and all-wheel drive. The total power is 292 hp and 420 Nm, acceleration from 0 to 100 km / h takes 6.1 seconds, top speed is 210 km / h, and it is possible to drive only on electric drive (up to 46 km per WLTP).

Finally, the electric BMW iX3 will be adjusted, which in the current version has 210 kW / 286 hp and 400 Nm, and with one charge of lithium-ion batteries of 80 kWh exceeds 460 km (according to the WLTP standard). The Germans also state that 80% of the battery capacity can be charged in just 30 minutes with the help of a 150 kW charger. Acceleration from 0 to 100 km / h takes 6.8 seconds, while the top speed of this 2185 kg heavy vehicle is limited to 180 km / h.

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The development of CO2-free propulsion technologies has become a top priority for the BMW Group. In addition to purely electric, they are now working on the development of hydrogen propulsion systems, which will first be implemented in the current BMW X5. The total power of the system will be almost 400 hp.

Like all electric cars, fuel cell models (FCEVs) use electricity to power electric motors. Unlike other electric models, FCEVs do not use energy from a battery but from a hydrogen fuel cell. In it, a chemical reaction takes place between hydrogen and oxygen, and thus a current is created that drives the engine. Thus, the use of this technology can help further decarbonization.

The BMW Group will launch small series of so-called Hydrogen NEXT models from 2022, and the new drive will be implemented in the current BMW X5, which will emit only water vapor as a by-product.

A key role in this is played by the Landshut Technology Center (LuTZ), which produces the most important components for hydrogen-electric propulsion, which will be installed in the BMW X5 models.

The system will use hydrogen and will generate up to 125 kW of electricity for an electric motor that is mounted on the rear axle. The tanks will be able to store 6 kg of hydrogen and oxygen, and the filling time is only 3 to 4 minutes.

The electric motor is the same as in the electric BMW iX3 SUV, and the total power of the system will be 275 kW, or 374 hp.

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Saturday, 20 March 2021 06:45

BMW 7 Series saloon review

"The latest BMW 7 Series sports a brash new grille, improved powertrains and even more tech"

This is the sixth-generation of the BMW 7 Series luxury saloon and arguably the most identifiable, thanks to its bold new face. BMW clearly decided its conservative flagship saloon needed to stand out against the stately Mercedes S-Class and forward-looking Audi A8, increasing the size of its kidney grille by around 40%.

Elsewhere the makeover is far less dramatic, with slim new headlights and a full-width LED rear light-bar representing the most noticeable changes. It also has a smoother overall look and has been tweaked to suit the Chinese market, where more than a third of all 7 Series are sold.

The interior has also been reworked with a light touch, leaving most of its design intact but revisiting the tech on offer. The start of the show is BMW's latest infotainment system, bringing digital instruments and an updated tablet that passengers in the back can use to control the car's interior features.

Depending on its expected use, the 7 Series can be specified with a standard or long wheelbase to boost passenger space, along with either a bench rear seat or two-seat 'lounge' setup. The latter brings the full VIP experience, with individual seats that are heated, cooled and reclining either side of a centre console.

For a car that doesn’t sell in huge numbers, there's a wide range of engines, spanning from a plug-in hybrid model to diesels, and even a flagship V8 petrol. Every 7 Series is quick and supremely comfortable, but the range-topping petrols are also powerful for a large saloon, and the BMW has a sportier edge than the Mercedes S-Class.

BMW 7 Series saloon - MPG, running costs & CO2

The plug-in hybrid and diesel models make the big BMW 7 Series surprisingly efficient

Thanks to the breadth of the BMW 7 Series' engine range, there should be a version to suit every customer and location. We say ‘location’ because the plug-in hybrid 745e will bring real advantages in terms of taxes and charges if the owner drives into cities like London with low-emission zones and tariffs.

For this reason, the 745e plug-in hybrid is popular thanks to its CO2 emissions from 41g/km and fuel economy of up to 156.9mpg. The exact economy you get will depend on how often you can charge its battery pack and make use of its 28 mile electric range, but its fixed emissions figure gives the car free access to city centres with low-emission zones. A low Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company-car tax will also appeal to business users.

The 7 Series’ standard petrol models are considerably pricier to run. The 740i returns up to 35.8mpg and emits from 180g/km, while the hugely powerful 750i xDrive returns little over 25mpg and sits in the top BiK tax band for business drivers.

Diesel engines are still very popular for the 7 Series, and the 730d will especially suit high-mileage drivers. Fuel economy of up to 51.4mpg is pretty impressive given the BMW's size, but emissions from 144g/km (with the smallest alloy wheels fitted) mean it still sits in a high BiK tax band. The 740d still returns 47mpg despite posting a very quick acceleration time and getting four-wheel drive. It features mild-hybrid technology with a small battery that stores the energy harvested from braking and deceleration, which is then used to give the engine a boost helping to improve fuel economy and emissions.

Insurance groups
Insurance groups for the BMW 7 Series saloon are high because of how much it costs, the complex engineering and high performance. Even models lower down the range, such as the 740i are in insurance groups 48 or 49. Every other model, including all long wheel variants and even the 745e hybrid, sit in the top insurance group 50.

All BMW models come with a three-year warranty that's typical amongst the German brands, however it does also have unlimited mileage within this period.

BMW offers servicing packages that can be purchased when the car is new, covering maintenance for a fixed cost for a set period of time, for up to five years, which can also be transferred to subsequent owners.

Servicing packages can also be extended to include consumable items like brake pads, discs and a new clutch for an extra charge.

BMW 7 Series saloon - Engines, drive & performance

While still comfortable, the BMW 7 Series is a bit more involving to drive than most large saloons

Unlike most BMW models, the 7 Series favours a plush ride over sporty handling, but it still feels lighter on its toes than the Audi A8 or Mercedes S-Class. This is partly thanks to use of a carbon fibre 'core' running through its underpinnings, which helps save weight and increase structural stiffness.

In any of its driving modes and any scenario, the 7 Series is incredibly comfortable. We found the normal Comfort mode to be the best all-round setting; Comfort Plus makes the air suspension even softer, but this can make the body feel a little wayward on demanding roads, so is probably best left for the motorway.

BMW 7 Series diesel engines
There are two versions of the same 3.0-litre straight-six diesel, and the BMW 730d has traditionally been the bestseller in Britain. It has 282bhp and manages 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds when equipped with rear-wheel drive, with the xDrive four-wheel drive version taking 5.6 seconds. The more powerful four-wheel drive 740d gets 335bhp, and manages to get from 0-62mph in only five seconds. BMW’s mild-hybrid technology is fitted to both models, which provides an extra 11bhp overboost under full throttle to aid acceleration.

Petrol engines
The petrol line-up consists of one relatively normal straight-six, and two much more expensive to run, powerful and exotic engines. With 328bhp, the 740i engine is shared with models including the BMW 3 Series and BMW 5 Series, and still proves spritely in a bigger vehicle, getting the 7 Series from 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds.

BMW 7 Series saloon - rear 3/4 dynamic 17
An all-new 4.4-litre V8 offered in the 750i creates a thunderous 528bhp and gets the car from 0-62mph in four seconds, aided by four-wheel drive traction. Despite its extra size and four extra cylinders, the 577bhp 6.6-litre V12 in the M760Li could only shave 0.2 seconds off the 0-62mph sprint, and has now been discontinued in the UK.

Hybrid engines
While the 730d has long been the most popular model, a shift away from diesel and heavy taxation means the 745e plug-in hybrid is likely to win favour with business buyers - who make up the bulk of 7 Series customers. It combines a six-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor and battery pack, providing an electric-only driving range of up to 28 miles. Zero-to-62mph takes a fraction over five seconds.

 BMW 7 Series saloon - Interior & comfort

Technology has been improved with a better infotainment system and rear seat entertainment

Aside from its grille, the BMW 7 Series and its rivals are known for being conservative, and the interior hasn't changed too much from its predecessor. Of course, technology has been bolstered, so every gadget you can think of is standard or available as an option.

BMW 7 Series dashboard
While it looks pretty similar, there's a new set of digital instruments that can show much more information to the driver. Materials have also been updated to keep the 7 Series near the front of the pack, with every surface covered in leather or wooden trim, including oak and polar.

Perhaps most importantly, the infotainment system runs BMW's Operating System 7.0, bringing the latest connectivity, media and navigation to the driver and passengers via seven-inch removable tablets.

Choose the 730d and so much is included you'd be hard pressed to tell it's officially the entry-level model. A Harman Kardon stereo, adaptive LED headlights, powered boot, wireless phone charging and a key with its own display are all standard.

BMW 7 Series saloon - infotainment 17
In-car technology doesn’t disappoint either, with all models coming as standard with the ‘Connected Package Professional’. This includes Remote Services, which allows you to send destinations, find your vehicle or even keep an eye on your 7 Series’ surroundings via your smartphone. A remote 3D view generates an up-to-date 360-degree image around the car so that you can see it even when you’re not near it, using the BWW Connected App. Other features include Connected Navigations, Concierge Services and Apple CarPlay.

The M Sport trim gives the 7 Series a more athletic look inside and out, capped off by unique alloy wheels, while the M760Li xDrive flagship is essentially its own trim level, with just about every option included.

It's hard to believe you'd need to add a Comfort Plus Pack, but do so and it brings massaging and ventilated seats, scented air and laminated glass designed to help regulate the interior temperature and add soundproofing. A Technology Plus Pack adds driving aids, remote control parking and a head-up display, while the Rear Seat Comfort Plus Pack upgrades the back seats for first-class luxury by adding heated seats and two 10-inch screens on the back of the front seats along with a Blu-ray player and TV.

BMW 7 Series saloon - Practicality & boot space

There's plenty of room to stretch out and the boot is a generous size


The BMW 7 Series saloon has been designed to carry adults in ultimate luxury from the outset, and the latest version is 22mm longer than before. Choose the long-wheelbase version and it gains a full 14cm of additional length, providing even more room for rear passengers to stretch out and sleep on the move.

BMW 7 Series interior space & storage
In standard form, the interior of the 7 Series offers a generous amount of room for both front and rear passengers. Travelling in the rear seats though, is more like first-class air travel than squeezing into the back of a hatchback. That's especially the case if you specify the individual executive lounge rear seats rather than the standard three seat rear bench.

Opt for the extended long-wheelbase version of 7 Series and the rear passenger space is extended further still, meaning that while in transit, you can enjoy a film, work or have a nap. This can be complemented by electrified rear and side window sunblinds and the optional BMW Touch Command, which adds a capacitive touch sensor to control the rear interior lighting. Even more space can be afforded by pressing a button to move and tilt the front passenger seat out of the way.

Boot space
The powered boot lid opens to reveal a large 515-litre boot (10 litres more space than the Audi A8), providing plenty of room for suitcases or golf clubs. Due to the onboard battery in the 745Le plug-in hybrid, boot space is reduced to 429 litres. Those opulent rear seats don't fold down, though, so you can't expand the space.

While you're unlikely to ever see a 7 Series towing a trailer, its 2,300kg capability means it would actually be rather adept at the task.

 BMW 7 Series saloon - Reliability & safety

The BMW 7 Series boasts some of the world's most advanced safety technology

The BMW 7 Series is a hugely complex car, but a decent manufacturer's warranty should allay many fears. It's also laden with safety technology.

BMW 7 Series reliability
It can be daunting buying a car with as much technology and equipment as the 7 Series, but it’s covered by an unlimited-mileage warranty for the first three years. Because this model is essentially a thorough facelift of the previous version, a lot of the new model's underpinnings have also been tried and tested.

Its smaller sibling, the 5 Series, came 40th in our top 100 cars rated by owners in the 2020 Driver Power satisfaction survey. It seems that BMW owners aren’t happy with the running costs, which include high insurance premiums and servicing bills. Surprisingly, BMWs are getting worse than average reviews in the ride and handling and acceleration categories.

While it's unlikely to be tested by Euro NCAP because of its status as a luxury car sold in small numbers, we'd be amazed if the 7 Series didn't get a five-star result. After all, it's BMW's flagship saloon and a showcase for the brand’s latest safety technology. That includes myriad systems to help warn you of, and even help avoid accidents.

Onboard safety technology includes BMW’s Parking Assistant Plus which is capable of taking control of the car steering and brakes to park the car automatically in parallel or perpendicular parking spaces. This functionality can also be operated via the BMW Display key, with the driver outside the car. Other safety features include the optional Driving Assistant Professional system, which uses a series of cameras and radar to guide the car as you drive, and includes lane change assistance, and can even stop you if you attempt to drive down a one-way street the wrong way.


Published in BMW
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Wednesday, 10 March 2021 06:30

BMW M4 Competition review


If someone had have told you twenty years ago that the latest BMW M4 (or M3, as it was universally called back then) would have over 500bhp, a choice of all-wheel drive – but no manual gearbox – and styling loud enough to send seasoned M enthusiasts off into the arms of AMG, you’d no doubt wonder what potent blend of super glue they’d been inhaling before bed.

Yet, here we are in 2021 where the crazy proclamations of yesteryear have indeed come true. The G82 version of one of BMW’s most famous names is all of the above. Granted, a six-speed three-pedal version is available elsewhere, but on these shores it’s eight-speed ZF only. And yes, the debate over the styling still rages on. I’ve grown to like it, chiefly because it dares to be different from every copy and paste vanilla car on sale today. But let’s not go down that rabbit hole…

 What are the headline figures?
As well as the manual gearbox, UK buyers have also been denied the ‘standard’ car, so it’s Competition only for the G82 and its M3 sibling. That means pre-pumped outputs of 503bhp and 479lb ft of torque – up 59bhp and 73lb ft on the outgoing F82 Competition. Big gains? Quite. But also big dollar, with this latest M4 coming in with a £76,000 asking price (our test car was knocking on for £90k).

0-62mph is done in 3.9 seconds while top speed hits the heady heights of 180mph if you pay the nice people in Munich a little extra for the M Sport Pro Package. It’s a seriously juicy set of stats for a game of Top Trumps, yet the truth is that we’ve come to expect nothing less when one of Germany’s big three releases a flagship performance car.

 What’s of more importance, is how this M4 serves its power up compared with its predecessor. There’s plenty of tales from drivers who got behind the wheel of early F82s, likening the experience to driving a 400bhp supermarket trolly. You were never quite sure what it was going to do next and as a result, it felt like it was trying to spit you off into the nearest hedge.

Happily, things have since moved forward and BMW’s engineers have smoothed out the torque delivery in the S58 engine. It comes in from almost 1,000 revs later, and there’s a far more linear curve as it hauls through the mid-range leaving Porsche 911 Carreras in its wake. Catch it below 2,500rpm and you’ll detect tangible lag, yet it’s fleeting and insignificant compared with the sheer breadth of pulling power on offer.

It’s a level of flexibility that would scarcely have been believable not so long ago, yet the M4’s engine delivers at both ends of the scale. Almost as soon as the torque dies down, the endearingly frantic top end takes over and gives you just enough encouragement to ring out those final few revs before pulling the upshift paddle at 7,600rpm. If it wasn’t already clear, this is a blisteringly quick car.

 BMW’s done a decent job with the sound, too. No doubt it’s synthesised, yet there’s enough going on, not just from the electronically controlled exhaust flaps, but the engine itself, to mean it should be slightly less controversial than the tones of its S55 predecessor.

It’s a real shame, then, that the eight-speed gearbox can’t doesn’t feel as confident as the rest of the powertrain. Everyday driving shows off its greatest strength of smooth, slick, well-timed changes, yet start to drive enthusiastically and the downshifts are underwhelming. There’s not the same level of decisiveness or aggression as Porsche’s PDK, for example, and despite the number of ratios being the same, each gear feels less distinctive.

What about the handling?
Before I get into that, it’s worth highlighting that most of my time in the M4 was spent on track with the optional Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, rather than the standard Pilot Sport 4S. I did have an on-road drive with the latter, but the following impressions will – largely – be based on my experience with the super sticky track tyres.

Although, a quick glance through the spec sheet and you might question whether the M4 Competition should be going anywhere near a track. Because, under the colossal power and torque figures you’ll see a kerb weight in excess of 1.7-tonnes, that, by the way, is almost 200kg more than a similarly specced F82 M4 Competition

Why so hefty? Partly, it’s down to the increased reinforcement on the part-steel, part-aluminium CLAR platform. Braces to lock the front shock towers firmly to each other and the front bulkhead, elements to tie the stiffer subframe to the reinforced engine bay, underfloor shear panels – all of this in an effort to remove variables from the M4’s chassis.

 And yet in truth, such weight gains feel like they’re there mostly because BMW knows it’s not the stigma it once was and that the average M4 customer still wants, no – scratch that, demands the creature comforts of a regular 4 regardless of the car’s sporting intentions. As a consequence, BMW has become the master of making its cars not necessarily hide weight (there’s only so far you can take that), but instead, work with the weight.

Like the F90 M5, the M4 Competition moves around tight corners on track (and on road), with a degree of agility that, not so long ago, wouldn’t have been out of place on the grid for the Nürburgring 24H. Wider, longer and tauter than its predecessor, it can take even greater speed into corners with the front-end that actively hunting down apexes given a little trail-braking encouragement. BMW’s engineers benchmarked the car against the previous M4 CS – and it shows.

It’s especially effective in tight and medium-speed corners where there’s enough attitude from the rear to punch you away from the throes of understeer, keeping the line tight and the speed high. Sure, the front will still push wide if you’re not decisive enough on the throttle, but it doesn’t take long to get used to its pleasingly direct way of doing things.

And yet, that doesn’t mean that the M4 always plays nice. As mentioned, the engine is a much more tractable unit than before, but there’s still a sharpness, borderline nervouness to the car at the limit, that hints at the barely concealed aggression underneath. Big slides are possible – even encouraged – with the gimmicky but fun M Drift Analyser, yet it’s the transition from traction to no traction that leaves you a little unsure of where you stand. Although, as explained, much of this could have been down to the less forgiving Cup 2 tyres.

 Either way, there’s no doubt more precise tools available for similar money. And while I don’t want to get too fixated on the 911, it certainly is one of them. The steering in the BMW, for example, is light and fast. Handy for the slower corners, but less helpful for delivering feel and stability in the faster stuff. Plus, the standard brakes, as powerful as they are still have their work cut out to bring 1.7 tonnes to a halt in a brisk and controlled manner. As a result, the M4 Competition is a car that’ll make you sweat, swear and question your own sense of self-preservation on a committed drive.

Which makes it all the more impressive that its capable of settling down into an exemplary everyday car with almost GT levels of refinement. The adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled dampers does a fine job of keeping the car level in sport plus settings, but the well-rounded ride in comfort mode is equally impressive.

 As is the cabin layout, infotainment and optional Clubsport carbon bucket seats. A £3,000 option, they save a mere 9.6kg, yet sit you lower and more comfortably in the car. Admittedly, I still wanted to go down a few mms further, and if I’m being picky, the steering wheel rim is too thick. Yet there’s no doubt it’s an exceptionally nice cabin to spend time in.


The BMW M4 Compeition manages to be both an accomplished all-rounder and a flawed, yet brilliantly exciting sports coupe all at the same time. It’s everyday on-road manners and luxuriously appointed cabin are almost beyond reproach. Yet start to press on the and the wave of seemingly limitless power and torque, combined with a veracious appetite for on-the-limit brinkmanship makes it a heart-stopping streetfighter of a sports coupe. And while it may not have the dynamic finesse of the 911 that its now priced so closely with, there’s more than enough reason to drop £80k on one of Munich’s most radical and controversial M cars yet.


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Friday, 19 February 2021 06:29

Tested: BMW M2 CS Hangs in There

A pricey special-edition M2 with a 444-hp heart reminds us of the BMWs of the past.

Taglines work. Take, for example, the incredible motivational power of a "Hang in There" cat poster or the decades that BMW marketed itself as The Ultimate Driving Machine. In those days, BMW's cars regularly delivered class-leading handling and fun. In 2006, the German brand dropped the tagline and began a slow move away from cars that sing and dance. But the company still has a few, such as the M2 CS, that are hanging in there, clinging to the branches of the old family tree.

The M2 CS is a limited-edition, high-powered version of the M2, which is itself the hot version of the 2-series coupe. We're talking the rear-wheel-drive 2-series, not the front-drive-based, four-door 2-series Gran Coupe abomination that placed last in a recent comparison test and is best thought of as an ultimate disappointment. Thankfully, the M2 CS has nothing in common with that car.

It does, however, share some parts with the outgoing Competition-spec M3 and M4, including the 444-hp version of the M division's twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six. Despite being a healthy 39 horses up on the M2 Competition, the CS isn't any quicker than its sibling to relatively low-speed thresholds. Basically, it is limited in the run to 60 mph by the traction of its rear tires. But the CS pushes ahead after hitting 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, and it passes through the quarter in 12.1 seconds at 120 mph, two-tenths of a second quicker and 4 mph faster than the stick-shift M2 Comp.

With its six-speed manual transmission, the CS pulls us in close. If you're lazy, it'll rev match on downshifts, and the shifter has the positive, if slightly rubbery, motion of BMWs past. Optional matte-gold wheels shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 track rubber are part of the CS makeover. A test-equipment snafu cost us our skidpad measurement, but by the seat-of-pants measurement this car has more grip than the 1.00 g we measured in an M2 Competition riding on Michelin Pilot Super Sports. We promise.

Highs: An angry car designed to make us smile, manual-transmission joy, BMW's best stuff.
Those grippy Cup 2 tires probably deserve some credit for removing a lot of numbness from the M2's steering. While you can't quite read the Braille of the pavement through the Alcantara-wrapped wheel, the steering feedback is livelier than we've seen in recent BMWs. Adaptive dampers, similar to those found on the previous-generation M3 and M4, are available for the first time on the M2 and offer three modes. The Comfort setting works brilliantly on canyon roads (and probably even on racetracks), stiffening the damping as needed. Notching up to the harsher settings fails to improve handling and makes the ride punishingly firm.

Carbon-ceramic brake rotors are an $8500 option and proved to be up to the abuse leveled at them during testing and on the road. In addition to fade resistance, an added benefit of the ceramic rotors is that they won't leave brake dust on the lovely gold wheels. Fearless prediction: When it comes to wheels, gold is the new black. The brake pedal is a little softer than we like when used casually, but work the brakes hard and there's nothing to complain about. Stopping from 70 mph took a short 145 feet, and hauling down from 100 mph required 301 feet.

An M2 CS on a mountain road is a happy place. There's a slight lag when you hit the accelerator on corner exit, as the turbochargers need a moment to spin up. To ensure sharp engine responses, old M cars were naturally aspirated and fitted with individual throttle bodies, but none of them made torque like modern turbocharged engines do. The CS produces 406 pound-feet of torque at a low 2350 rpm.

Lows: Some turbo lag, pushing six figures is pushing it.
Other parts shared with the old M3/M4 include the deeply bolstered front seats and the Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel. Rear-seat space is tight, and there are only two seatbelts back there, making this a four-seater. Carbon-fiber and more Alcantara trim dress up this aging interior, and much of the switchgear appears to be from BMWs of the past, but we're totally okay with that. The infotainment system features BMW's latest software, and Apple CarPlay is included.

A carbon-fiber hood and roof help the CS weigh 83 pounds less than the M2 Competition. Pushed to its lofty cornering limits, the CS acts even lighter and smaller than its 3489 pounds. Our main problem with this astonishingly good car is its $84,595 starting price. The letters CS cost more than SS 1LE, ZL1, ZL1 1LE, GT PPL2, and GT500. Those exotic Camaros and Mustangs offer more power and the same connected driving experience, but the M2 is smaller, lighter, and undeniably special in its own right. It's one of the last true BMWs. We just hope the engineers responsible have a particular cat poster in their offices.


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