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” »

Four-paw BMW M5 a strong possibility

May 5th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Rumours of a all-wheel-drive BMW M5 have been floating around for a few months now, but they have picked up steam with confirmation from an unnamed source within the company.

The move isn’t a huge shock, but it does go against the rear-driving ethos of the M Division. That said, if the M5 is going to continue to progress it needs to embrace new technology. BMW’s AWD system is highly competent and gives the X vehicles in the M range physics-defying handling. The dynamic all-wheel drive system will be a good fit in the M5.

BMW’s AWD system does still allow for some sideways shenanigans, with the added benefit of better performance in low-grip situations. A rear-drive set-up will likely remain an option for those purists that won’t have it any other way.

The production version of the 2012 BMW M5 is set to debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show stage in September, so expect to see more teasers and information before that time arrives.

Click here to read a Car and SUV review of the BMW X6 40d.

BMW X6 xDrive 40d 2011 Review

April 29th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

There was a time when dance music was just dance music, it was electronic, it had a beat and it made you want to get up and get funky. But then like many things, genres and sub genres began dividing it up as the masses searched for what’s new and cool. Now we have house music, drum and bass, dub step and many others which all sound the same to ageing ears. This 21st century ‘genrefication’ has reached much further than dance music and infected the car world creating niche vehicles like the crossover and the mini van. BMW, never one to miss a trick, decided to create a sub genre all its own, coining the term ‘Sports Activity Coupe’ and populated it with a lone offering – the X6. When the X6 went on sale in 2008 critics claimed it was a niche too far and that there was no demand for such a machine. But the X6 came packing attitude, dynamic ability and didn’t need anyone’s approval to be what it is. For 2011, BMW have added a new six-cylinder diesel engine to top the X6 diesel range and named the model the xDrive 40d. Car and SUV had a chance to tune in and test drive the polarising X6 40d listening closely to the rhythm of its fresh beat. Continue reading “BMW X6 xDrive 40d 2011 Review” »

National In The Hot Seat

April 21st, 2011 by Tim Grimley

For those of you who have been holidaying on Mars for the last few weeks, there have been a lot of column inches devoted to the fact that Mr Key and his National friends at the beehive decided to treat the nation to a rather flash set of new BMWs.

This was a decision which clearly angered the proletariat, because there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth from people furious that the government would be wafting around in the lap of luxury while the rest of us could no longer afford petrol. Or milk. However like all media storms, this one seemed to have taken its particular tea cup off the front pages and I suspected that it was never to be seen again.

But I’d reckoned without the tenacity of Labour’s Internal Affairs Spokesperson Chris Hipkins, who sprung up last week and launched a fresh tirade because one of our new fleet has been fitted with a $1000 heated seat upgrade to stop JK and his cronies getting chilly posteriors. Now this is news, because when it comes to the general election later in the year, this seemingly trivial matter highlights a much bigger issue that could cause people to seriously question where to place their vote.

Hot seats could help NZ into the driving seat

 

Labour, it seems, is happy to employ a complete idiot as Internal Affairs Spokesperson.

Only a gibbering buffoon would think that these cars are being bought for the benefit of the government. Sure, the majority of their mileage may come from ferrying our politicians about, but the primary task is to provide a cosseting and upmarket travel experience when foreign dignitaries come to town.

And it’s very important to realise that these people are not Kiwis. They will not look at second rate hospitality and think that we are good fellas for doing a bit of prudent belt-tightening. These are people at the top of their tree for either economic, business or political reasons and they want to be treated as such. They want their hotels to come with five stars, their dinner to be cooked by a celebrity chef and on frosty mornings they want to know that their buttocks will be kept at an agreeably toasty temperature on long journeys. Show them a suitably sumptuous time and they – along with their monstrously fat wallets – will keep coming back. Treat them like a middle management pleb whose company is on an economy drive and don’t be surprised if the next jaunt stops at Sydney. Continue reading “National In The Hot Seat” »

BMW 535d M-Sport 2011 Review

April 15th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Pound for pound BMW 535d is certainly a tough act to beat. For its many highlights one factor stands above the rest, its balance between huge amounts of torque while maintaining frugal fuel economy. A sleek, purposeful design and a lush, luxurious cabin are the cream on the top. But the ability to offer stimulating sports performance while sipping away on just 6.1 litres of diesel for every 100km travelled, that’s what makes the 535d the most progressive model in BMW’s 5-Series range. Car and SUV has been a fan of BMW’s diesel offerings since driving the impressive 335d and was interested to see how the same powerhouse motor worked in the larger 5-Series body.

Like its little brother, the 535d is built with some serious performance DNA. Under the long bonnet lays BMW’s latest 3.0-litre diesel engine, it’s an ultra-modern mill in a traditional in-line 6-cylinder configuration. While its power output of 220kW sounds only mildly exciting it’s the all alloy engine’s 600Nm torque figure that tells the true tale of the tape. Acceleration is effortless and with maximum torque available from 1750rpm, instant and absolute grunt is always waiting beneath the driver’s right foot. Continue reading “BMW 535d M-Sport 2011 Review” »