BMW auto news

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BMW X4 reclaims dash of utility with Clemson student project [w/videos]

08/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, Concept Cars, Trucks/Pickups, Videos, Crossovers/CUVs, BMW, Design/Style

BMW X4 Clemson University Project

BMW seems willing to exploit every automotive niche it can find with creations like the four-door, 'crossover coupe' X4 and X6. Of course, these designs come with a compromise. That svelte fastback means that they just can't haul as much cargo as a more traditional, boxier hatchback. Fortunately, students at Clemson University's International Center for Automotive Research might have a novel solution: the engineering graduate program has turned the crossover into a unique pickup.

Dubbed Deep Orange 4 concept, this functional prototype has an enclosed cargo area with a sliding glass panel that opens up to expose a pickup bed if more room is needed. Think of it as the GMC Envoy XUV of German crossovers. This isn't just an X4 with its roof hacked off, though. The students actually started with an X3 and grafted on this top later in addition to the two barn doors for access to the bed.

To make this project even more impressive, this pickup-crossover could conceivably be produced. The graduate students conducted an in-plant analysis of BMW's manufacturing abilities and went back to the university to create a plan for a low-volume vehicle that could actually be built. "The students working on this phase of the project did an excellent job of keeping costs down while finding optimal integration opportunities," said Rich Morris, vice president of assembly at BMW Manufacturing, in the university's release.

Deep Orange 4 is now on display at the CAR Group Management Briefing Seminar in Michigan. Scroll down to read the university's release and watch two videos about the concept; one shows the final product and the other a time-lapse of the build going from X3 to X4-looking pickup.

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BMW X4 M40i spotted testing in Germany

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Sports/GTs, Crossovers/CUVs, BMW

2016 BMW X4 M40i

The stream of segment-busting BMW variants is showing no signs of letting up, and with the latest addition now upon us, questions have been circulating as to whether the Bavarian automaker would do an M version of the new X4 crossover. The jury may still be out on that proposition, but the latest intel suggests that, while a full-on X4 M may not be in the cards, a next-best-thing X4 M40i is in the works. And that appears to be what we're looking at in this fresh batch of spy shots.

Spotted for the first time undergoing testing in Germany, this X4 is tipped to be the next addition to the M Performance line that's already given us near-boiling models like the M135i and M235i on the one hand and the diesel-powered M550d, X5 M50d and X6 M50d on the other. Power in this case is tipped to come from the same 3.0-liter turbo six as the upcoming M2, producing between 360 and 380 horsepower.

Unlike the current top-of-that-specific-line X4 35i, which has two tailpipes on one side, this partially-camouflaged prototype has one pipe protruding from each corner of the rear bumper, but looks like it could easily accommodate twin pipes on both sides. Expect commensurate suspension, brake, rolling stock, aero and trim upgrades to come as part of the package, though they likely won't be quite as substantial as those applied to the X5 M and X6 M.

Sources expect the X4 M40i (or whatever it's ultimately called) to debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2015 before production gets underway in December.

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Xcar checks if BMW's i8 offers moves as electrifying as its looks

08/03/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Hybrids/Alternative, Videos, BMW

BMW i8

If you were to plot the general opinion about hybrids since their introduction among auto enthusiasts, the resulting graph would likely be shaped somewhat like a "V." In the beginning interest was high, simply due the novelty of these new powertrains, then the line would gradually fall as the models got the stereotype of being boring commuters. Today, though, things might be back on the upswing. Vehicles like the McLaren P1, Porsche 918 and BMW i8 are showing that a hybrid doesn't have to be synonymous for dull. In its latest video, Xcar Films aims to find out if BMW's electrified sports coupe actually earns the brand's old moniker as the ultimate driving machine.

While the focus here is on what the i8 is like behind the wheel, one of the main highlights for the viewer is the interesting ways that Xcar shoots the BMW. It's not necessarily a beautiful vehicle, but seeing it in motion reveals all sorts of little intricacies that still photos don't pick up. For example, our eye catches the flying buttresses and little crevices scooped out of the corners when we get a look at the rear. It's just a fun car to look at.

With its 1.5-liter, turbocharged, three-cylinder engine and electric motor, the i8 positions itself as the future of automotive performance. But its intriguing looks and cutting-edge use of carbon fiber would be wasted if the coupe didn't drive well. We won't spoil the final verdict, though, you'll have to watch the video above.

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BMW 6 Series Convertible gets a little work done for 2015

08/03/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Convertibles, BMW, Luxury

BMW 6 Series Convertible spy shots

Truth be told, I've never really found the modern BMW 6 Series to be a particularly attractive car, in Coupe, Convertible, or sedan Gran Coupe forms. This current generation certainly looks a whole lot better than the Bangle-fied Six that came before it to my eyes, but on the whole, I find much of the car's design to be fussy and awkward. There's a new 6 Series on the way, scheduled to arrive sometime in 2017 or 2018, but to hold us over until then, BMW is freshening its current range, as evidenced by this convertible prototype our trusty spies recently caught testing.

Will the changes to the current 6 Series be an improvement? Perhaps. Up front, there are restyled headlamps and a new front bumper, and at the rear, BMW has redesigned the LED taillamps to bring them more in line with the rest of the company's offerings. Aside from those modest tweaks, we don't expect much more to change on the Big Six - the interior will likely carry over with some minor tweaks (or new colors), and it's possible the powertrains could be massaged gently for gains in either power, efficiency, or both.

Whether you think this new look is pretty or not, this freshened 6 Series will likely debut sometime next year, while BMW's engineers and designers craft the all-new version. See it from several angles in our gallery, above.

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Weekly Recap: The divergent paths of Tesla and Fisker

08/02/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Tech, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Jaguar, Mercedes Benz, Fisker, Tesla, Electric

Fisker Automotive

There's no doubt that Tesla is downshifting while Fisker has been grinding its gears. But it wasn't always that way.

In the wake of Tesla's recent success, it's easy to forget that there were once two California electric carmakers with bright futures.

Remember Fisker Automotive?

Both companies were back in the news this week. Tesla confirmed it will team with Panasonic to build a battery factory, and Fisker won approval of its bankruptcy plan to pay creditors and allow it to have a fresh start with Chinese investors, Wanxiang Group.

There's no doubt that Tesla is downshifting while Fisker has been grinding its gears. But it wasn't always that way.

Five years ago, many observers thought Fisker had just as much potential to make a go of it as Tesla. Elon Musk was still known as the SpaceX and PayPal guy who supposedly knew nothing about cars. Fisker, meanwhile, was founded and led by Henrik Fisker, an industry celebrity who designed sexy sports cars like the Aston Martin DB9 and the BMW Z8.

Separated by about six hours of California highway, Tesla and Fisker were billed as the new wave of American manufacturing, two electric carmakers that could do what the Rust Belt-anchored Detroit Three could not. Their rivalry became so heated, Tesla even sued Fisker in 2008 alleging theft of technology, with Fisker emerging as the nominal victor, netting $1.1 million in court fees from Tesla.

As recently as 2012, Tesla only had one car, the Roadster, which was built on a Lotus chassis with an electric-powered motor in place of a traditional engine. It was the definition of a niche product. That year, however, Tesla followed up with another car, the Model S. With an all-electric range of 265 miles and the capability to sprint to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, the Model S was a runaway hit. It had the size and power of a BMW 5-Series, and it didn't burn a drop of fuel.

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BMW's new Driftmob video shows the M235i like you've never seen it before

07/31/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Sports/GTs, Videos, BMW, Luxury

Last month, we went behind the scenes of the filming of BMW's new Driftmob, web video, bringing you one post from the practice sessions, and another from the shoot itself, which took place in an enormous traffic circle in Cape Town, South Africa. Today, BMW has launched the final version of Driftmob, and it's pretty damn cool.

The plot is pretty simple: just like a flashmob, in which people invade a location and perform choreographed dances to music, much to the delight of surprised onlookers, the "driftmob" features a quintet of red M235i coupes that take over a traffic circle and perform choreographed dances - sideways - to the delight of onlookers. The only differences are that, in this case, the onlookers are mostly paid extras (though there were many unwitting passersby that joined the crowd at times) and the only music is a constant squealing of tires-a sweet song if we ever heard one. Then, after about two minutes of tire-smoking shenanigans, the coupes vanish.

As promised, we will have a more detailed, behind the scenes story about the filming of the video, including insights from Rhys Millen, Samuel Hübinette, Dai Yoshihara, Rich Rutherford, and Conrad Grunewald, the five guys who executed these remarkable stunts. Meanwhile, we hope you enjoy the short flick.

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MW's new Driftmob video shows the M235i like you've never seen it before

07/31/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Sports/GTs, Videos, BMW, Luxury

Last month, we went behind the scenes of the filming of BMW's new Driftmob, web video, bringing you one post from the practice sessions, and another from the shoot itself, which took place in an enormous traffic circle in Cape Town, South Africa. Today, BMW has launched the final version of Driftmob, and it's pretty damn cool.

The plot is pretty simple: just like a flashmob, in which people invade a location and perform choreographed dances to music, much to the delight of surprised onlookers, the "driftmob" features a quintet of red M235i coupes that take over a traffic circle and perform choreographed dances - sideways - to the delight of onlookers. The only differences are that, in this case, the onlookers are mostly paid extras (though there were many unwitting passersby that joined the crowd at times) and the only music is a constant squealing of tires-a sweet song if we ever heard one. Then, after about two minutes of tire-smoking shenanigans, the coupes vanish.

As promised, we will have a more detailed, behind the scenes story about the filming of the video, including insights from Rhys Millen, Samuel Hübinette, Dai Yoshihara, Rich Rutherford, and Conrad Grunewald, the five guys who executed these remarkable stunts. Meanwhile, we hope you enjoy the short flick.

Continue reading MW's new Driftmob video shows the M235i like you've never seen it before

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Jay Leno puts focus on some retro-inspired BMW bikes

07/29/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, Videos, BMW, Motorcycles, Celebrities, Special/Limited Editions, Design/Style

Quartet of retro-inspired BMWs

Jay Leno puts eight wheels on display this week for Jay Leno's Garage from a quartet of retro-inspired BMW motorcycles. They are the creations of husband and wife team Larry and Carol Romestant, who build each one in their home garage.

Larry is a former aerospace engineer who loves BMW bikes, especially the K models. Now, he's combining his passion with a real talent for fabrication to build his own cycles with his wife. With Larry and Carol the only ones working on these projects, it takes them six to nine months to build each one. In addition to the old-school looks, the motorcycles are supposed to be a bit more user friendly than stock. For example, one of them ditches the standard five-speed gearbox in favor of a six-speed unit to be a little more comfy when cruising at high speeds.

Since there isn't enough time to take all four of them for a ride, Jay picks his favorite to test out on the open road. Scroll down to see which one he chooses.

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BMW planning six-cylinder i9 hybrid to celebrate centenary?

07/29/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Hybrids/Alternative, Sports/GTs, BMW

2015 BMW i8

On the prospect of a new BMW M1 based on the company's new i8 hybrid, the jury has been in and out so much that we can't even tell which way it's likely to go. However, the latest reports coming in from Germany suggest that BMW may have something else up its sleeves. Rather than make a conventional gas-powered version of the i8, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport says BMW will make a more powerful one.

Tentatively dubbed i9, the hybrid sports car is rumored to pack a six-cylinder internal-combustion engine instead of the i8's turbo three. Coupled to more potent electric motors, it would figure to produce even more than the 357 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque already on tap in the i8, with further weight reductions to offset the bulkier engine.

Auto Motor und Sport says the mooted model will be produced to celebrate the Bavarian automaker's 100th anniversary and eclipse the i8's performance, with a projected 0-60 run in under four seconds en-route to taking the gloves off to crunch the Autobahn in electric bliss. The new i flagship would be another member of the company's growing electrified family, joining the existing i3 hatchback, upcoming i5 minivan and possible i8 Spyder down the line.

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2015 BMW M3 squares off against Alpina D3 in gas vs. diesel throwdown

07/27/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Videos, BMW, Diesel, Luxury

BMW M3 versus Alpina D3

There was a time when diesel meant one of two things: This vehicle's owner either wants to save some money at the pump or needs to haul massive loads. It definitely did not mean that the owner of said machine wanted to drive fast, but that perception has slowly but surely been changing over the last several years, with automakers from Volkswagen and Ford to Audi and BMW offering spiced-up versions of their high-compression, turbocharged diesels.

It's that last automaker we mentioned that's the subject of the video you'll see down below. One bright-blue BMW M3 was procured by the Brits at Autocar, and it was lined up against a deep-black Alpina D3 (which we sadly can't buy in the US) in a spate of tests, including acceleration, stopping, sound and lap times on a closed circuit. The results, which we won't spoil for you, were enlightening, and were followed up by personal impressions from the man behind the wheel.

We know you're curious. All it takes to find out which of these 3.0-liter, twin-turbo-powered 3 Series variants came out on top is to scroll down below and watch. You know what to do.

Continue reading 2015 BMW M3 squares off against Alpina D3 in gas vs. diesel throwdown

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