AC Schnitzer builds Eagle concept – world’s fastest Mini (+video)

June 17th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Being the fastest of the bunch is seldom a bad thing, extra speed usually equals extra kudos. This fact hasn’t been wasted on the BMW Group which recently set about building the world’s fastest Mini.

Called the Eagle concept car, this mean Mini was pieced together by specialist BMW tuner AC Schnitzer. To prove its ability and take its place as the Asafa Powell of Minis, the concept was taken to the Hockenheim circuit where it turned in a cracking lap time of 1:13.34. To put things into perspective a standard issue Ferrari California achieves a time of 1:13.5 and a Porsche 911 Turbo 1:14.6 – so the Mini was very rapid indeed.

The Eagle is based on the standard John Coooper Works platform and uses a modded version of its 1.6-litre turbocharged engine. Power output is fairly modest at 194kW but the vehicle’s weight has been further reduced by 80kg. Other tweaks include height adjustable racing suspension and sharp 18-inch alloys with sport tyres. Continue reading “AC Schnitzer builds Eagle concept – world’s fastest Mini (+video)” »

BMW reveals all-new 2012 1-Series range

June 7th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

With leaked images of BMW’s brand new 1-Series hatch circulating online since Friday the Bavarian carmaker has made the call to release a full set of photos and official details.

BMW’s compact car is now larger and sports fresher looks while also introducing a new range of engines. The all-new 2012 1 Series is expected to debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show later this year with the code-name F20. It will sit on the same platform that underpins the upcoming new 3 Series and will be larger than its predecessor in every dimension except height. The first variant on show will be the volume-selling five-door hatchback but the range will also include a three-door hatch, coupe, cabriolet and possibly a longer Gran Turismo version.

The new sheetmetal has extensively revised styling with more prominent creases and a dramatic front-end that includes an even larger kidney grille and frowning headlights that push back into the wheel guards.

Inside, higher-grade materials are used and there’s apparently more attention to detail. A larger centre console houses fresh switchgear and there are new steering wheel designs. The latest version of BMW’s iDrive system is an optional extra. Continue reading “BMW reveals all-new 2012 1-Series range” »

BMW X3 xDrive 20d 2011 Review

June 3rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

BMW’s first generation X3 had life fairly well sorted. It was comfortably placed in the X-Series range beneath established big brother the X5 and the sportier X6. But life changed for the X3 with the birth of the X1 into the X-family. In response the new X3 would have to grow in size and refinement to create itself a new groove in the range. With this realignment in mind BMW has launched its second-generation X3 model for 2011. In the role of middle child the X3 is now bigger, handles sharper and has improved fuel economy. Car and SUV had a test drive in the new diesel-powered X3 20d to document its coming of age.

In terms of body proportions there’s definitely been a growth spurt for the X3 with a 28mm increase in width and a 11mm higher ground clearance at 212mm. There’s minimal change in height but at 4.65 metres in length and a widened track the X3 is dimensionally very close to the original X5. Despite the extra bulk and more equipment the new X3 is 25kg lighter than its predecessor – an impressive result for BMW engineers. Continue reading “BMW X3 xDrive 20d 2011 Review” »

Vorsteiner gives BMW’s 5-Series a makeover special

May 26th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Aftermarket styling specialists Vorsteiner has just dropped some images of its latest aerodynamics package for the 2011 F10 BMW 5 Series. Along with the images comes claims that the VMS Conversion can elevate your BMW 5-Series to a higher level of style, sophistication and performance. Details on how exactly the body kit and new rims does that hasn’t been stated but the images look cool – if you’re into doing that sort of thing to a premium luxury cruiser.

Upgrades include a new bumper with large air vents and a carbon fiber front spoiler lip. There’s also deeper side skirts and a set of light alloy wheels, with a white finish and a 10-spoke design. Rear styling is even more dramatically changed with a replacement diffuser and a large boot lid lip, both pieces are made from carbon fibre. The exhaust system has also been replaced with twin, large rectangular tail pipes showing intent. Continue reading “Vorsteiner gives BMW’s 5-Series a makeover special” »

BMW reveals classically-inspired 328 Hommage concept at Villa d’Este (+video)

May 24th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

BMW used last weekend’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este glitzy annual event to show off it’s new 328 Hommage concept.

The historical concept is heavily based on the Vision Connected Drive concept vehicle recently revealed at the Geneva Motor Show and has been built to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the classic 328 model. The original BMW 328 was a true success story for the German brand during the 1930s and was considered to be one of the finest-looking sports car of the era.

BMW’s 328 Hommage is a speedster body shape that features the latest in lightweight construction methods. Extensive use of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) on the concepts interior and exterior have given the concept an extremely light kerb weight of just 780kg.

The interior of the 328 Hommage is trimmed in fine leather, with high-gloss black, polished aluminum and carbon fibre pieces. For exterior design, the classic 328 design elements are obvious, there’s the vertically positioned double kidney front grille, the flat silhouette and wide-set tail lamps at the rear. Continue reading “BMW reveals classically-inspired 328 Hommage concept at Villa d’Este (+video)” »

Fiat’s tiny 0.9-litre motor wins ‘International Engine of the Year’ Award

May 19th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

With a displacement of just 875cc Fiat’s twin-cylinder gasoline ‘TwinAir’ motor seemed an unlikely choice for the International Engine of the Year Award but the little engine that could has taken the top honours. The much coveted award is decided by a jury of 76 journalists and industry experts from 36 different countries and Fiat’s mini mill was highly praised. The Jury were sold on the TwinAir’s low emissions, high fuel economy and strong power output for its size. The TwinAir scooped four awards in total that included “Best New Engine 2011”, “Best Green Engine 2011”, “Best Sub 1-Litre Engine” and the “International Engine of the Year 2011” grand award.

Fiat’s two-cylinder champion uses turbocharging to develop 63kW of power and currently sees service in the Fiat 500 and 500C, with further applications planned. Fiat will also introduce two other versions of the motor, a naturally aspirated variant producing 48kW and a higher-performance turbocharged variant with 78kW.

This year’s awards event was held yesterday (May 18th) at the Engine Expo in Stuttgart, Germany. Other big winners included BMW with the carmaker taking out four awards. The honours included winning the “3-litre to 4-litre” category with the 4.0-litre V8 unit used in the M3, the “2.5-litre to 3-litre” division for its 3.0-litre DI Twin Turbo mill, the “1.8-litre to 2-litre” category for the 2.0-litre Twin Turbo diesel engine found in the 123d and X1, and lastly the “1.4-litre to 1.8-litre” category for the popular 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo engine co-developed with PSA Peugeot Citroen, powering the Mini. Continue reading “Fiat’s tiny 0.9-litre motor wins ‘International Engine of the Year’ Award” »

Ultra rare opportunity to buy a BMW M1 art car

May 16th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

With only 456 models ever produced the BMW M1 is an extremely rare machine and one that many collectors would love to have in their garage. If the standard M1 isn’t exclusive enough for you, thern there’s always the M1 Art Cars of which there are two. One was painted by Andy Warhol and is owned, like all other BMW art cars, by BMW itself. The other was painted by well-known artist Frank Stella back in 1979 and has just been put up for sale by the Guggenheim Museum.

While BMW commissioned many art cars since the program began 1975, this Stella M1 is the only one that was officially sanctioned by the factory for a private client. All the other art cars remain in the German automaker’s private stash. So this M1 becoming available represents an extremely rare opportunity for one buyer to own an original BMW art car. Continue reading “Ultra rare opportunity to buy a BMW M1 art car” »

BMW 535i Touring 2011 Review

May 13th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Picking the wagon body style over a sedan is a decision that could be made for a variety of different reasons. A big dog could be the cause; moving large equipment for a hobby could be another need for the extra space. The price of the more practical wagon body shape traditionally was paid in aesthetic appeal. But for anyone who believes that wagons are still the ugly siblings of sedans needs to take a look at the BMW 5-Series Touring. Car and SUV spent a week enchanted by its free flowing design and its executive cruiser meets family workhorse attitude.

While the recent popularity of SUVs and crossover vehicles has pushed low-slung wagons on to the endangered species list the 535i Touring shows real evolution of the body style. While we’ve had plenty of BMW’s current range for review at Car and SUV headquarters, no other model has generated as much interest and admiration as the 535i Touring. Our test machine was glamourised over the standard model by the optional M Sports package ($8,350). This upgrade sees a more aggressive body kit fitted, lower sports suspension and eye-catching 19-inch M-Light alloy wheels. If you want to give your BMW wagon some serious road presence the M Sports package is the way to go. Continue reading “BMW 535i Touring 2011 Review” »