BMW has long been regarded as a premium brand, and that premium feel extends to the entry level models of the brand. Naturally there’s a good penny to pay for quality at the door opening end, but what about in the upper echelons?
BMW use a simple numbering method to differentiate their model lineup: 1 is the beginning of the series and as we count upwards, 7 and 8 Series become the true luxury models. Let’s take a look at what they are and the numbers associated with them
BMW 8 Series
This model comes in a three tier choice. There are two two-doors (convertible and hard top) and a four door coupe styling. The convertible has a starting price of $233,642, the two door hard top starts from $217,892, and the “Gran Coupe” starts from $217,741.
However, these prices are for our writer’s location and will change depending on postcode. To provide a better idea, the Gran Coupe 840i has a starting retail price (before charges) of $199,900 and the 4.4 M850 xDrive version starts from $272,900. The convertible starts from $217,900 for the 840i and the 4.4 m850i is a hefty $284,900 plus on roads.
What do you get for your money? Lots. It’s that simple. The convertible, up front, has an added cost due to the engineering requirements for the folding roof and the chassis strengthening. Standard equipment includes the expected items such as climate control, and heated seats. However there are the additional items such as heated armrests and centre console, plus a heated steering wheel.
There is ambient lighting adjustment from LEDs, remote starting from a BMW app on your connected smart-device, and a heart-shaking audio system from leading British sound makers, Bowers and Wilkins. For the driver there is the BMW Live Cockpit Professional with navigation function includes a high-quality display network consisting of a high-resolution 10.25" Control Display that can be operated by touch. BMW also have their onboard personal assistant package. A form of AI learns the driver’s behaviours and will adjust the vehicle settings as it learns.
The 8 Series goes up a notch with the M8 Competition. The heartbeat here is strong, thanks to the high-performance M TwinPower Turbo 8-cylinder petrol engine. It displaces 4.4 litres, pumps out 460 kW to make it the most powerful of all engines in BMW standard production vehicles, and is equipped with two Twin Scroll turbochargers and high-pressure injection. Torque is a hefty 750 Nm of torque which sees acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.2 seconds and from 0 to 200 km/h in 11.0 seconds.
Underneath is an adaptive suspension setup, meaning cornering and ride quality is even better than the standard car. There’s an electro-mechanical system that reads the road and adjusts on the fly, keeping the car flat and level. Braking is courtesy of a carbon ceramic brake pad system, capable of dealing with higher brake temperatures and minimizing fade as a result. Pricing here starts from an eye-watering $352,900…
BMW 2 Series
BMW’s smaller cars don’t escape the wallet attack either. The 2 Series, a petite and attractive four tier range, features a four door Gran Coupe, two door convertible, five door tourer, and a pert two door coupe. Leading the pack is the M2 Competition, complete with a potent 3.0L engine. The price for this starts at $102,900, almost double the price of the entry level model.
Under the bonnet is a 302kW/550Nm straight six of 3.0L in capacity. A pair of turbos swallow the exhaust gas and spin up easily to provide those numbers whilst getting power down to the rear via a seven speed auto. Underneath is M-specific suspension to take advantage of that superior oomph, helped by a carbon-fibre strut bolted to the top of the front shock towers and some fettling to the electronics of the power steering and limited slip diff.
Aero comes from a slinky body, complete with air-tunnel tuned front end design cues. There is a pair of shark fin blades on either side of the air intake, plus the signature “kidney grille” has been reformatted to provide a smoother airflow. Scalloped sides redirect air around the body to ensure maximum downforce on track-day hitouts.
Inside is a truly luxury oriented interior for a small car. The driver has a dash display is an LCD screen that can be optimized for better viewing. There are tabs on the steering wheel for easy access to driving performance, and the dual clutch transmission can be used via the ergonomic console shifter or paddle shifters.
Adaptive LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, 19-inch alloys specific to the Competition, an 8.8-inch iDrive 6 infotainment system with Navigation Pro, a premium 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, and the Driving Assistance package that incorporates autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, forward-collision warning and pedestrian detection add to the package of delights.
BMW haven’t overlooked the future either. The i8 coupe and roadster offer hybrid power from a 1.5L three cylinder petrol engine basis. The price for the coupe is $318,900 plus on roads; opt for the soft-top and that moves to $348,900 plus costs.
Peak power, says BMW, is 275kW, and the battery kicks in for 11.6 kWh & 353 V with a lithium-ion build. BMW have gone for a futuristic design but not so that it also looks too far out of reach. Although it could be said it’s conventional in one respect looks wise, hints of Blade Runner styling bring it to the edge of real world meets sci-fi. It’s lower than almost any car of its type, has a broad cross-section to give it some visual weight front on, and each end has LED lighting. The rear is an exercise in sculpture, with a glass sheet behind the driver and passenger joining two massive A-frame fenders.
Economy from the powertrain meets expectations too. Figure on 2.2L/100km for a combined cycle. Part of this comes from the electric engine being able to power the i8 on its own at velocities of up to 105kph before the petrol engine is called upon. On its own the battery powered engine delivers 105kW and 250Nm, handy figures for a small and nimble vehicle. Select Sport driving mode and BMW says the 100 mark should take just 4.6 seconds.
Whilst whooshing along in near silence, passengers enjoy quality audio thanks to speakers embedded in the seat headrests and a thumping bass line with the drivers facing downward (for maximizing space) in the boot.
The convertible will fold the roof in 15 seconds and at speeds up to 50kph. Metallic threads are in the lining and add a premium look and feel.
SUVs have become the main vehicle to buy and BMW ensures its in the mix with a vast range available. The mid-sized SUV is the most popular and BMW have the X4 M Competition headlining that model’s range.
The X4 echoes the somewhat controversial coupe styling of its bigger X6 sibling. Somehow it doesn’t affect interior space, with the middle row of three getting its own climate control. Fold the third row seats up and 525L of cargo space is available.
Motorvating the X4 M Competition is a 3.0L six, with 600Nm of torque on tap at 2,600rpm. Peak power is a more than healthy 375kW albeit at a high 6,250rpm. All four corners receive that torque via a conventional auto, not a dual clutch, and eight shall be the number of cogs one shall count to. There are three drive modes to play with and the Sport mode is mindful of the extra height of the X4’s SUV body.
BMW’s i-Drive 6 infotainment system is accessed via a large 10.25inch touchscreen. The driver has head Up Display and it’s such a handy feature to have. The screen is clear and by looking forward, not down, the driver’s attention is always ahead. And due to the somewhat sporting nature of the suspension, even in Comfort mode, highway drives become an example of GT, with the X4 M Competition showing its chops as a GT style long distance conveyance.
Pricing for this capable mid-sizer starts from $164,900 plus on roads.
The X5 was one of the first SUVs released by BMW and it’s still one of the biggest sellers from the German company. The current range topper is the X5 M50i. Find $151,900 plus on roads and this behemoth is yours.
Getting underway is easy thanks to the familiar 4.4L V8 and a pair of turbos. 390kW from 5,500rpm to 6,000rpm and an almost indecent 750Nm of torque between 1,800rpm and 4,600rpm make a 4.3 second 0-100kph time seem slow. The m50i has the same very useable eight speed auto.
It’s a big machine too, with 21 inch alloys needed to fill the yawning chasms at each corner. Stylish LED lights illuminate the rear and a subtle chrome look rear lip sits at the base of the rear bar. The X5 M50i has a nifty adaptive suspension system complete with selectable Sport and Comfort modes. An airbag suspension system is a cost option here.
Select Sport mode and the air suspension lowers the car by 20 millimetres in order to provide more stability and slightly better aero. Get close to 140kph and the system automatically lowers too. Feel like getting a little dirty? A ride height increase of 40mm can be made available when using the air suspension. An electronic centre diff lock is standard for the times when some off-tarmac excursions happen.
The exterior of the M50i cops larger front air intakes and revised bumper designs, plus there is blacked out trim, Cerium Grey highlights, and more prominent side sills.
M-branding is prominent inside, with the gear selector, leather covered steering wheel, and perforated Vernasca leather upholstery all getting an M logo as do the illuminated sill plates with M50i logos.
Need to know more about your BMW? Come and see us at SouthernBM, where we can answer your questions over a cuppa in a friendly environment.
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