BMW confirms new ‘i’ eco-friendly sub brand

February 22nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The BMW Group has just confirmed its new sub-brand called “i”, which it will use to market a fresh range of eco-friendly vehicles including regular and plug-in hybrids, and pure electric models.

The first models to be launched under the new sub-brand won’t arrive till 2013 and will be called the BMW i3 and i8. The i3 is set to be an all-electric city car, that will be based on the Megacity Vehicle. The i8, is a more exciting plug-in hybrid sports car based on the Vision EfficientDynamics concept study unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Both new models will be based on BMW’s latest construction concept called LifeDrive that makes use of an aluminium chassis to house the powertrain, while the passenger cell consists of high-strength but extremely lightweight carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP).

“Both cars have been designed specifically for their respective alternative drive systems,” explains Klaus Draeger, the BMW Board member responsible for development. “We used the innovative architecture and CFRP to cancel out practically all of the extra weight added by the batteries. For our customers this means superior driving dynamics combined with significantly increased range using electric power.”

While BMW did not disclose further details about powertrains during the announcement, the company recently revealed that the 1-Series ActiveE’s electric synchronous motor with 168HP (125 kW) and 250 Nm of torque which will be used in the i3. Continue reading “BMW confirms new ‘i’ eco-friendly sub brand” »

BMW Vision ConnectedDrive concept showcases latest tech (+video)

February 11th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

BMW has shown off the first images of its Vision ConnectedDrive concept, ahead of a official debut at the Geneva Motor Show.

The roadster design concept is a base to showcase BMW’s advanced driver assistance and mobility networking systems to demonstrate what is possible now and what will be possible in the future.

In terms of design it’s a radical machine which uses BMW’s “layering” approach that breaks up large surfaces with lines and detailing to give a more organic appearance. The concept features a wide grille, huge air intakes, frameless windscreen, and a transparent area running down the bonnet that symbolises the “driver’s focus on the road ahead and on the concentration of information that is flowing in the opposite direction, towards him.” The concept also has electro- mechanical retracting doors which give a nod to the Z1.

Inside, the cabin is divided by a flowing center console which houses many of the conventional controls. In front of the driver is a fully programmable instrument cluster which makes use of a heads-up display that shows various vehicle information. But wait, there’s more, smartphones will instantly link to the vehicle as soon as you enter the cabin. This will mean drivers have full access to all of their apps, messages and address books. While all that doesn’t sound so space age, the system also boasts an augmented reality interface which can be shown on the head-up display and used to automatically drive the car without human interaction. That might sound unbelievable but according to BMW, one day you could go to a restaurant, exit the car, and the vehicle would use the internet to locate a parking garage, drive to it, and park itself. The applications for this sort of technology are near limitless, instead of going to the restaurant you could just send the car to pick up your dinner while you sit at home watching TV. Brilliant.

The concept’s drivetrain remains a mystery for now, but it is expected to be all electric. More will be revealed next month, leading up to the Geneva Show till then check out a promo video and some images in the gallery below.  Continue reading “BMW Vision ConnectedDrive concept showcases latest tech (+video)” »

2012 BMW 6-Series Coupe set for Shanghai debut

February 4th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

BMW’s new 6-Series coupe is preparing for it’s grand reveal at the upcoming 2011 Shanghai Auto Show this April. Earlier this year BMW used the recent Detroit Auto Show to unveil the new 6-Series Convertible so it makes sense that the automaker will go to China, one of its most lucrative markets, for the debut of the 6-Series Coupe.

It’s no secret what the latest BMW two-door would look like thanks to the unveiling of the 6-Series Coupe in concept form at last year’s Paris Auto Show. When the concept was revealed it was a show car that looked almost production ready. Following from that was the reveal of the 6-Series Convertible, which is simply the Coupe with its roof chopped.

The first variants to be released are expected to be the 640i and the 650i. In terms of power the 650i Coupe should come with a 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V-8 packing 407 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque, while the 640i will receive 320 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque from a 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder. Continue reading “2012 BMW 6-Series Coupe set for Shanghai debut” »

BMW and Peugeot hook up for a hybrid drivetrain

February 3rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

After months of “are they really a couple” rumours BMW and PSA Peugeot Citroen have officially hopped into bed together to work on a hybrid drivetrain.

Building all the systems and hardware that goes into crafting a hybrid drivetrain can be highly expensive so the two Automotive heavyweights have joined forces. The companies are set to partner up on everything from battery packs and generators to software and chargers. However the main goal of the corporate marriage is to build an open European hybrid platform which will give them a little bit of structure and an edge in the upcoming electrified battle.

The joint venture is expected to get under way in the next few months, and BMW says that the first products to make use of the new technology will be on roads by 2014 at the earliest. According to reports, the very first vehicles to carry the new-age hybrid gear under its bonnet will likely be the Mini Countryman or a Countryman-based model.

BMW reveals new four-cylinder turbo powerplant

February 1st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

BMW has been teasing the motoring press with tidbits of information on its new 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine for some time. Now finally, official details have been released on this exciting new mill.

The new four-pot motor uses the same twin-scroll turbo technology lifted from the larger N55 3.0-litre engine. Peak power is rated at 178kW at 5,000 rpm, and max torque is rated at a healthy 352Nm and is delivered at just 1,250 rpm. Naturally the advantage of switching to a smaller-displacement, turbocharged, direct-injected engine, is fuel economy so expect the cars that use this engine to go much further on a tank than the current six-cylinder models.

BMW hasn’t revealed yet exactly which models will be receiving the new 2.0-litre turbo engine. However the German automaker has given in clue in saying that the 4-cylinder offers more power and torque than the current naturally aspirated 3.0-litre inline-six engine. So don’t be surprised to see the new motor in models that previously have a 28i or 30i at the end of the name. Some earlier reports suggested that the Z4 sDrive30i will now use four-cylinder power, and both the 1 and 3 Series, as well as X1, also look likely to get the turbo-four treatment.

Diesel powers BMW to top of NZ premium car sales

January 28th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Fresh sales data from 2010 has confirmed what industry experts were expecting — that BMW was number one for sales of new diesel models in New Zealand among premium brands.

BMW recorded an all-time record number of diesel sales for the year with 746 units, finishing almost 50 ahead of Audi (699) and more than 480 ahead of Mercedes Benz (262).

This equates to 66% of the total BMW model mix being diesel powered (746 diesel units as percentage of 1133 total), up from 24% in 2005. For the overall new car industry in NZ, diesel accounted for only 31% of total sales.

“BMW offers a superior range of diesel models featuring torque-laden fuel efficient powertrains emitting fewer carbon emissions, but importantly without compromising BMW’s ultimate driving experience,” said the Managing Director of BMW Group New Zealand, Mark Gilbert. “Diesel plays an important part of our Efficient Dynamics story and it’s heartening our customers recognise the environmental and efficiency benefits available to them through selecting a diesel powered BMW, not to mention outstanding towing capability.”

The most popular three diesel models in the BMW range for 2010 were the 320d Sedan, the 118d Sports Hatch and X5 xDrive 30d SAV, showing the widespread popularity and application of diesel power across a variety of body styles.

“The surge in demand for diesel is represented in our model mix which now contains 31 different BMW vehicles with a diesel engine, compared with only 11 five years ago,” said Mr Gilbert.

Click here to read Car and SUV reviews of current BMW diesel models.

G-Power builds world’s fastest LPG-powered car

January 18th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

BMW tuners G-Power is the brains behind the hardcore M5 and M6 Hurricane editions, now to back it up the company has released a more eco-friendly version of the same package, the LPG-powered Hurricane M5 GS.

Extensive modifications were required to the M5 and M6 Hurricane’s 5.0-litre bi-supercharged V10 engine which now comes with one fully sequential five-cylinder LPG system per cylinder bank. G-Power claims the benefits of using LPG fuel are both economical and ecological, because LPG is not only around 50 percent cheaper than petrol, but also reduces CO2 emissions by about 15 percent.

Interestingly, the LPG V10 engine is actually more powerful than its gasoline sibling and produces 660-horsepower (+25HP) and 650Nm of torque at 5,500 rpm.

in terms of performance figures the M5 Hurricane GS will reach 100 km/h in just 4.6 seconds and take 11.4 seconds to hit 200 km/h. Top speed is 333 km/h which apparently makes this Hurricane GS the world’s fastest LPG-powered car.

To keep this modded M5 on the road it has been fitted with a G-Power RS coil-over sport suspension, high performance braking system and light-weight 20-inch Silverstone Clubsport alloys, shod in 255/35 front and 285/30 rear tyres.

Check out more images of the World’s fastest LPG car in the gallery below. Continue reading “G-Power builds world’s fastest LPG-powered car” »

New BMW 5-Series wins NZ Car of the Year title

January 12th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The latest iteration of BMW’s 5-series saloon has followed in the footsteps of two of its predecessors in being judged New Zealand’s Car of the Year by the country’s leading motoring writers and commentators.

Launched here some six months ago, the new model is the sixth generation of the 5-series line, and the first since the mid-1990s E39 model to scoop New Zealand’s highest new car automotive honour.

In reaching their decision to award the new 5-series the country’s Car of the Year accolade, members of the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild assessed a number of variants in the range, which includes fuel-efficient turbo-diesel models as well as higher performance petrol-powered machines

In addition to performance and handling, the facets under consideration included suitability for the task for which the 5-series is designed, its level of home comforts, quality of finish, safety accoutrements, visual appeal, value for money, ease of operation, and economy.

“Coming after an immediate predecessor that attracted controversy on several fronts — notably for its bold styling and complex drive interface — the new F10 variant represents a welcome return to 5-series form by BMW,” said Guild president John Oxley.

As well as being prettier on the outside and more user friendly on the inside, the new machine features a superbly finished cabin and an outstanding choice of engines, all of which rely on a highly advanced eight-speed automatic transmission to deliver power to the rear wheels.

Continue reading “New BMW 5-Series wins NZ Car of the Year title” »