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” »

25-Year Anniversary tribute video to BMW’s M3

December 21st, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

From the first E30 to the most recent E92, BMW’s M3 has never stopped evolving and never stopped seeking automotive perfection. It’s transitioned from the light, small, and motorsports-intended E30 M3 to larger, more powerful, and built equally for street and track, but some common traits remain. Where those traits lie and how strong they realistically still are is a topic of much debate, but this video included below sheds some light the development of this motoring icon. Choosing to dwell mostly on the classic E30 M3 the video shows off some racing footage and explains how the E30 laid the groundwork for the other M3s to come.

Click the box below to watch the video. Continue reading “25-Year Anniversary tribute video to BMW’s M3” »

BMW 1-Series M Coupe officially revealed (+video)

December 13th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

After numerous spy photos released online and much hype BMW has officially unveiled its new 1-Series M Coupe.

Designed to be the spiritual successor to the original M3, the 1-Series M Coupe features aggressively styled  bumpers, bi-xenon headlights, pumped up wheel arches, and 19-inch light-weight alloy wheels. It certainly looks the part and only three exterior colors will be available – Alpine White, Black Sapphire Metallic and “so hot right now” Valencia Orange Metallic.

In the cabin are some serious sports seats, Boston leather upholstery, and Alcantara trim. Other interior upgrades include a reworked instrument cluster and a orange-stitched sports steering wheel. The standard equipment list is impressive and includes goodies like dual-zone automatic climate control, comfort access, a Harman Kardon audio system, BMW ConnectedDrive (internet access), and GPS navigation with a large 8.8-inch display screen.

Laying under the bonnet is BMW’s stonking N54 twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine producing 250 kW of power and 500 Nm of torque. It is matched up exclusively to a six-speed manual transmission which allows the 1,495 kg coupe to perform the 0-100 km/h sprint in just 4.9 seconds, 0-200 km/h in 17.3 seconds, and will push on to an electronically-limited top speed of 250 km/h. Through the use of an ‘overboost’ function, the 1 M will deliver an extra 50Nm of torque at full throttle. Fuel efficiency isn’t too bad either, at an average consumption of 9.6 L/100km. Continue reading “BMW 1-Series M Coupe officially revealed (+video)” »

Mini to get new chief designer – how hard can it be?

December 3rd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Mini as a brand is strongly driven by style. Naturally, Minis are also solid performers and score highly in fun-to-drive tests but it’s the styling which remains the brand’s biggest selling point.

It was Alec Issigonis who first penned the iconic shape and design but it was a man named Gert Volker Hildebrand, who reinvented the Mini with its modern design language. That means Hildebrand is responsible for the reborn Cooper from 2001 and the varinats that followed – the Convertible, Clubman and Countryman. He also oversaw the designs of the Mini Coupe and Roadster (pictured) concepts from 2009, which are now on the verge of full production.

It won’t be an easy act to follow for Mini’s new chief designer, and who has the tough task? Hildebrand’s replacement will be Anders Warming, who currently serves as head of Exterior Design, BMW Automobiles. Warming is already used to big projects and is responsible for some recently updated models from BMW that include the Z4, 5 Series and, most recently, the 6 Series Concept Coupe.

NZ Car of the Year Award – finalists announced

November 22nd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Ten cars, ranging from mainstream models from Japan and Korea through to exclusive European luxury machines have been selected as finalists for the 2010 New Zealand Car of the Year Award.

Voted for annually by more than three dozen established motoring journalists, each of whom is a member of the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild, the award is the country’s most comprehensive. It is also the most respected by the car industry itself, being the embodiment of the opinions of experts representing every automotive medium.

This includes the motoring sections of the country’s major daily and weekly newspapers, several automotive websites, car and lifestyle magazines, and a number of radio and television outlets.

Over several months, the Guild’s Car of the Year committee has assembled its shortlist of finalists, which has been selected from all new models launched in New Zealand during the 12 months prior to 1 November 2009.

The cars on the 2010 shortlist include (in alphabetical order) the new Audi A5, the latest iteration of the BMW 5-series, Hyundai’s recently launched iX35 small SUV, the radical new Jaguar XJ saloon, and the Kia Sportage SUV. A pair of Peugeots — the striking new RCZ sport car and 3008 crossover – have also made the cut as finalists, as has the second-generation Porsche Cayenne, the Skoda Yeti mini-SUV and Suzuki’s first full-sized saloon, the Kizashi.

Continue reading “NZ Car of the Year Award – finalists announced” »

BMW X5 xDrive 40d 2011 Review

November 19th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The first generation BMW arrived ready to party, and so it did. It partied like it was 1999, because it was. The good times didn’t end there either, and in the following years the X5 helped trailblaze what we now know as the luxury SUV category. Naturally it had its haters, those who said it had been beaten with the ugly stick and those who called it a “insert posh local area” tractor. But it proved resilient and broadly appealing and just recently clocked up a very impressive 1 million units sold worldwide. It was in 2006 that the X5 entered its second generation, while already well established it further built on the strengths of the first model. Now for 2010 the X5 has been given a visual refresh and a reworked engine line-up. Car and SUV spent a week with the new X5 xDrive40d to see exactly what’s new and find out if the big BMW has still got it.

Styling on the X5 has only been changed subtlety since the first-generation with the 2010 updates being a further tweak. Although the changes are minor they are effective and the X5 looks every bit as modern as competitors. The X5 nose hosts the most noticeable changes with a new front bumper sporting larger side intakes and repositioned fog lamps. There’s more colour coding in the sheet metal and LED tail lamps now feature a smart L-shaped design. Elsewhere it’s business as usual with clean, tidy lines and handsome styling that will offend very few. Our test vehicle looked particularly striking with its Alpine White hue maximizing the X5’s bulky dimensions and the optional aluminum running boards and 20-inch (19s as standard) alloy wheels.

Continue reading “BMW X5 xDrive 40d 2011 Review” »