Tag Archives: BMW M

The First Z: BMW Z1

7 Jun

The BMW Z1: Photo courtesy BMW Group

Unless your an avid follower, enthusiast or historian of BMW chances are you would think the E36/4 Z3, produced between 1996 and 2002 was the first roadster to be built by the Bavarian automaker in the modern era. However that is not the case. Unbenounced to many is the Z3’s predecessor, a futuristic and technologically-forward two-door roadster that paved the way for the successors that have followed, the BMW Z1.

Back in 1985, when BMW conjured up the idea of creating the company’s first two-door sports car in 30 years they wanted to design and build something revolutionary. Much like the Z1’s ancestor the 507, built during the late 1950s, the Z1 was meant to be a pinnacle of automotive design, engineering and forward-thinking. In order the achieve this harmony BMW gathered 60 of its best and brightest and created a think-tank completely separate from the rest of the company called BMW Technik GmbH.

With a strong group of talented individuals at its core it didn’t take long for the masterminds at BMW Technik to form sketches and preliminary designs for what would eventually become the Z1. The BMW to brass signed off on the initial renderings and just 12 months later the first prototype Z1 hit the streets.

The BMW Z1 with its vertical sliding doors down: Photo courtesy BMW Group

As soon as it took to the road BMW knew they were onto something special. The two-seat roadster was far more that just another vehicle designed to capture people’s attention while driving with your significant other at the beach. The Z1, with excellent weight distribution, a front mid-engine setup, low weight and center of gravity made it a driving enthusiasts wet dream. Sure, it wasn’t the most powerful thing to take to the road, but it didn’t need to be. A 2.5-liter inline six-cylinder engine with a peak of 170 horsepower made the Z1 more than capable of holding its own.

At the 1987 Frankfurt Motor Show the Z1 made its world debut with massive amounts of interest and fan-fare from both the automotive press and the public. And how could it not? The Z1 was light years ahead of it time, not only in its design but in it technology.

The most striking and awe-inspiring aspect of the Z1 was undoubtably its vertical sliding doors. If you think Lamborghini thought of a cool way to enter and exit a vehicle, just take a look at these (video below). By pressing the key hole located on the side of the Z1 the doors would retract into the side sills. Not only did this allow for easy access into and out-of the vehicle, but it enabled the driver and their passenger to drive with no doors. Now how cool is that?

The BMW Z1: Photo courtesy BMW Group

The frame of the Z1 was made from a self-supporting monocoque made of individual sheet-steel that was galvanised in an immersion bath to give the structure added rigidity and torsional strength. The floor of the vehicle was comprised of two layers of glass fibre-reinforced epoxy resin with polyurethane foam. This plastic concoction was not only lightweight, weighing in at just 33 pounds, but it was immune to corrosion and produced smooth underbody contours, making the vehicle that much more aerodynamic in the process. And no, not just the floor was made from plastic. Rather, the vast majority of the Z1 was made up of different types of the material. The front and rear sidewalls, the doors and the side sill covers were made from a high-tech thermoplastic with high impact strength. On the complete opposite end of the plastic spectrum was the front and rear bumpers, made from a highly flexible and elastic plastic that could return to it original shape following collisions of up to two and a half miles-per-hour.

While the extensive use of plastics made the Z1 stand out, it wasn’t the only part of the vehicle that made the Z1 one-of-a-kind. The four exterior colors available; Green metallic, Dream Black metallic, Fun Yellow and Top Red was specially designed to adhere to the variations of plastic used on the body.

BMW Z1 Interior: Photo courtesy BMW Group

Despite a hefty sticker price of 83,000 German Marks (approximately $53,000) the demand for the Z1 was immediate and pronounced. When the first production models rolled off the assembly line in 1989 4,000 of the eventual 8,000 Z1 to be produced already had been purchased, causing the vehicle to be sold out until the end of the following year.

Unlike its two successors, no M variant of the Z1 was ever put into production. BMW Motorsport did produce a one-off Z1 M prototype, with a wider sport chassis a more powerful engine, larger wheel arches, a low-slung front end and twin headlights. Two air scoops arched behind the head restraints, and sitting atop either side of the deep rear apron were two pairs of circular rear lights.

Although the production run of the hand-built Z1 was short (1989-1991) the two-door roadster had created a new segment for BMW, and would pave the way for the Z3 and Z4 to follow. It might not be the more widely known BMW ever made, but it is one of the most important.

© 2012 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com

Calling All Enthusiasts: 2013 BMW 135is Coupe and Convertible

15 May

2013 BMW 135is Coupe: Photo courtesy BMW Group.

If you’re one of the many who missed out on the one-year, limited production 1M coupe you’re might just be in luck. The 2013 BMW 135is will be making its way stateside later this year and will offer customers a beefed-up, more powerful and performance oriented version of the regular 135i. It’s not the 1M coupe, but it’s the next best thing.

On the exterior the 135is stands out with 18-inch wheels, high-gloss black kidney grill and mirror caps along with special exterior badges and the standard M Sport Package components. Interior highlights include stainless steel pedals, special interior badges and optional black leather sport seats with blue stitching.

All of that eye-catching exterior work is just fine if you’re looking to pick up a date, but that’s not what the BMW “is” line was made for. After all, this is an enthusiast car, made to be driven hard both on the road and race track, and because of this BMW has made sure to provide adequate performance upgrades and modifications.

Under the hood the 135is is powered by the latest version of BMW’s 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine with BMW’s TwinPower Turbo Technology, designated the “N55” internally. Unlike the previous “N54” turbocharged unit the 135is gets a single twin-scroll turbocharger, as opposed to the two found in the 1M coupe. Despite a missing hairdryer, horsepower and torque figures have been increase over the 135i leaving the 135is a close second to its Motorsport-derived sibling. The 135is produces 320 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque, an increase of 20 hp and 17 lb-ft respectively and not far behind the 1M’s 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft. Besides the engine improvements the 135is also features a performance exhaust system and a more robust cooling system with a larger and more powerful radiator fan and an auxiliary radiator.

2013 BMW 135is Convertible: Photo courtesy BMW Group.

Power is transferred to the rear wheels via a standard six-speed manual gearbox or the optional seven-speed double clutch transmission. Helping all 320 horses get to the ground is a new differential with new optimized final drives and an electronic rear brake management system that is used to simulate a differential lock for stronger acceleration in turns and low-traction conditions.

Finishing off the performance goodies is a sport aluminum double-pivot front suspension and a lightweight five-link fully independent rear suspension. Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) that includes Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) will help the driver maintain control of the vehicle, but it does so at a higher threshold than the regular 135i and thus adding to the driving experience offered with the 135is. Of course, if you don’t want to worry about these safety systems interfering with your spirited driving you can turn them off completely.

The 135is coupe and convertible are scheduled to appear in U.S. showrooms beginning this fall with a base MSRP of $44,145 and $48,845 respectively (including $895 destination and handling).

Concepts Abound at 2012 Beijing Auto Show

24 Apr

It’s not surprising the world’s largest automobile market would receive one of the most expansive and encompassing auto shows, and that is exactly what’s taking place at the 2012 Beijing International Auto Show. With the Chinese market growing by leaps and bounds each month German manufacturers Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche all have debuted new vehicles at this year’s show, with a large majority being in the form of concept vehicles.

Audi A6 L e-tron Concept: Photo courtesy Audi North America.

Audi’s has a total of three concepts, the first is the A6 L e-tron, based on their luxurious full-size A6 sedan. The the other is the RS Q3, a high-performance variant of the already-existing Q3 crossover SUV and the last is a Chinese-exclusive Q3 model.

The A6 L e-tron is a plug-in hybrid capable of operating for just over 49 miles exclusively on electric power, while maintaining a consistent speed of 37 mph. That’s not practical for highway use, but with the amount of vehicles on China’s busy roads it’s perfect for stop-and-go traffic and low-speed driving. In addition to the 95 horsepower electric motor the A6 L e-tron has a 2.0-liter TFSI gasoline engine with a maximum of 211 horsepower. Audi’s decision to produce an e-tron on the A6 platform comes as no surprise. The A6 is extremely popular among Audi’s Chinese clientele, and the Chinese have always associated the A6 with success, prestige and power.

Audi RS Q3 Concept: Photo courtesy Audi North America.

On the other end of the spectrum is the RS Q3. This tuned version of the Q3 is powered by a 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine with a peak output 360 horsepower, 152 more than the top engine option in the regular Q3. The power plant together with a seven-speed S-Tronic automatic transmission allow the RS Q3 to accelerate from 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds and hit a top speed of 164.66 mph. Like many performance models, the modifications extend beyond what’s found under the hood. The suspension has been lowered by 25 mm as well as being widened to improve handling. Weight has been reduced with the use of carbon fiber reinforced polymers (CFRP). The front spoiler, door mirror housings and diffuser on the lower rear bumper all employ the use of this lightweight material. As with other RS models like the TT-RS the engine bay of the RS Q3 has a valve cover painted in red with carbon fiber trim pieces adorning various other parts.

Mercedes-Benz Concept Style Coupe: Photo courtesy Mercedes-Benz North America.

Not to be outdone Mercedes-Benz introduced their Concept Style Coupe. The four-door concept has a number of unique design features that could potentially make their way onto future Mercedes vehicles. The front end of the Concept Style Coupe has two distinct powerdomes that are slightly reminiscence of the one on the current BMW M3. Below the hood, the grille is nearly identical to the Concept A-Class that made its world premiere at the 2011 New York International Auto Show. Under the hood is a new 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine with 208 horsepower and Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system. The headlights are aggressive in their design and are illuminated in red when in standby mode. Ultimately the Concept Style Coupe has many features normally found on concept vehicles. The majority of these won’t make their way onto the production model due to government and safety regulations, but they’re are always cool to look at.

Finishing off the list of German concept vehicles is the BMW i8 Spyder. The two-door, drop-top hybrid is being proclaimed by BMW as their vehicle of the future along with the i8 Coupe and smaller four-door i3. At the front of the i8 Spyder is a 131 horsepower electric motor, and at the rear is a 223 horsepower turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine. Together the unit is estimated to achieve 70-80 mpg.

BMW i8 Spyder: Photo courtesy BMW Group.

New York Auto Show off to Rip-Roaring, High-Performance Start

4 Apr

2013 Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG at the 2012 New York International Auto Show.

The 2012 New York International Auto Show is off to a rip-roaring start with the debut of four of the most powerful and high-performance two-door vehicles on the market.

Mercedes-Benz was the first German manufacturer to unveil the their latest incarnations of the SL, GL and GLK classes, and not surprisingly Mercedes chose to come out swinging with their most powerful, expensive and exclusive vehicle. The all-new 2013 SL65 AMG made its way onto the stage, followed by the GLK350 BlueTec and the GL450.

6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-12 engine in the 2013 SL65 AMG.

The SL65 has been tweaked and reworked for the 2013 model year. A new twin-blade grille stands out at the front along with two inlets finished in black. The massive 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-12 has an additional 17 horsepower compared to the previous generation, boosting the peak output to 621 bhp and 738 lb-ft of torque. The 0-60 mph sprint is covered in just 3.9 seconds with a top speed of 186 mph, impressive considering its curb weight is a considerable 4,100 lbs.

The engine’s power is transferred to the wheels via the familiar seven-speed sequential gearbox found on a host of AMG models such as the E63, CLS63 and S63. Four driving modes; Controlled Efficency (C), Sport (S), Sport+ (S+) and Manual (M) enable the driver to choose the aggressiveness and shift times of the transmission, from the eco-friendly C mode to the track-inspired Sport + or Manual modes.

Directly next to the Mercedes booth was fellow rival BMW. Not to be outdone, BMW delivered a number of new and pulse-pounding automobiles, consisting of three cars and one SUV.

2013 BMW M6 Coupe at the 2012 New York International Auto Show

Headlining Bavaria’s best was the all-new BMW M6 coupe and M6 convertible. Just as the SL65 AMG is one of Mercedes’ top-of-the-line vehicles, so can be said for the M6. Much like its four-door sibling the M5, the M6 is powered by a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8. It might not match the SL65 in sheer power or torque, but the M6’s figures are nothing to scoff at. With 560 bhp, eight more than in the M5, BMW’s premiere two-door coupe is the most powerful six-series ever produced. As with the SL65, the V-8 in the M6 is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

2013 Audi RS5 at the New York International Auto Show

Rounding out the German performance-laden first day is the Audi RS5, which will be making its way to states for the first time later this year. The RS5 will compete directly with the BMW M3, Mercedes C63 AMG coupe and the Cadillac CTS-V coupe. Unlike the SL65 AMG and M6 which feature forced injection, the RS5 flies down the road courtesy of a 4.2-liter naturally-aspirated V-8 engine producing a maximum of 450 horsepower. The RS5 also varies from its fellow Audi S-line vehicles due to the fact that the S6, S7 and S8 are all powered by twin-turbo V-8’s. As with the Mercedes and BMW performance coupe and roadster the RS5 has a sequential automatic transmission.

If you want to get your hands on any of the fast two-doors debuted you better be quick and act fast! The SL65 AMG is a special order only vehicle and comes at a heafy pricetag. No official pricing has been announced, but buyer should expect to dish out in the neighborhood of $200,000. Like the TT-RS and R8 GT the RS5 will have a limited production run with under 1,000 units produced.

Interior of the 2013 Audi RS5 at the New York International Auto Show

© 2012 GermanAutoNews

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Audi, BMW and Mercedes all Unveil Sport Compacts in Geneva

8 Mar

With the 2012 Geneva Auto Show press days now over it’s now time for the masses of enthusiasts, families and other spectators to crowd the floor of the convention center. As with all autoshows, Geneva 2012 had its share of crazy concept vehicles and every type of transportation. From the stunning 760-horsepower Ferrari F12 Berlinetta to the eye-catching and outrageous all-electric Tata Megapixel the show has all the bases covered. Along with hundreds of vehicles, Geneva 2012 exposed new trends within the industry.

One of the overriding examples of this was the number of sport compacts. Three German manufacturers; Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz all had their own creations, ranging from Mercedes’ five-door and family-orientated A-Class, to the three-door Audi A3 and BMW M135i.

BMW M135i: Photo Courtesy BMW Group

Mercedes’ A-Class was by far the most economical of sport compact shown, and with 5-doors it’s also the most practical. Two engine variants power the new A-Class, both of which are turbocharged. The smaller 1.6-liter produces either 115 HP in the A120 or 156 HP in the A200. The top A-Class, the A250 gets a larger 2.0-liter four-cylinder, bumping the peak output to 211. Putting the power to the ground come via a six-speed manual transmission, or an optional seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. Numerous features and stylistic and design cues round out the A250. On the exterior 18-inch AMG alloy wheels and brake calipers finished in red. On the under side, an AMG-derived front axle and suspension, which should give the relatively small A-Class excellent road handling. The A-Class is scheduled to arrive in European showroom later this year, while the U.S. market will likely have to wait until 2013.

On the complete opposite end of the sport compact spectrum is the BMW M135i. As the “M” in M135i might imply, BMW Motorsport has done extensive work throughout this hot hatchback. On the outside the new BMW M Performance three-door resembles its older cousin the BMW M Coupe, produced between 1998 and 2002 and fondly nicknamed “The Shoe” by enthusiasts for its unique profile. Like the M Coupe the new M135i is powered by a inline six-cylinder engine, but that’s where the similarities end. Unlike the naturally-aspirated 3.2-liter in the M Coupe a smaller displacement 3.0-liter turbocharged unit propels the M135i (the same one found in the two-door 1M Coupe.) Engine size might have decreased, but peak horsepower is up, to 300 in the M135i. This beats the shoe’s by 60-horsepower, and beats out the more fuel friendly A250 by 89-horsepower. Similar to the A250, the M135i rides on 18-inch alloy wheels and has extensive suspension modifications when compared to a regular 1-series.

Mercedes-Benz A250: Photo Courtesy Mercedes-Benz USA

Falling in between the Mercedes A-Class and the BMW M135i is the new Audi A3. It’s been over 10 years since the A3 has been redesigned, so its unveiling has been long anticipated. With eight different engine options available for the European market there’s something for everyone. From the miniscule displacement of 1.2-liter TFSI, to the 1.6-liter TDI with just-horsepower, one might not get going quickly, but you’ll surely get great fuel economy (Up to an estimated 60 mpg with in 1.6-liter TDI). All of these different engines are paired with an equally larger number of available transmissions. While many are connected via a traditional six-speed manual, customers can choose the S-Tronic duel-clutch gearbox with either six or seven speeds (depending on engine).

With a mix of sporty and agile handling, practical, everyday usability and in the case of M135i, world class performance it’s not surprising the sport compact market is expanding and becoming more competitive. Whether its the economical five-door, four passenger Mercedes A-Class or the enthusiast and speed-junky approved BMW M135i the likelihood of these types of vehicles will become more popular as manufacturers create more models and variations.

© 2012 GermanAutoNews

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X3 and X5 get Improvements for 2012 Model Year

15 Feb

BMW X3: Photo Courtesy BMW Group

Most manufacturers update and improve their models are they progress through their production cycle. BMW is no exception. The German luxury brand is bringing an added level of engine options, technological features and even a unique edition to their two SUV’s, the X3 and X5.

The X5’s little brother, the X3, will enter the 2012 model year with all engines utilizing BMW TwinPower technology. Along with forced injection the X3 receives a new engine option. A 2.0-liter gasoline engine will be offered on the X3 xDrive 28i. The four-cylinder powerplant pushes out 245 horsepower and 258 lb-ft between 1,250 and 4,800 rpm, courtesy of a system based off the TwinPower twin scroll concept.

Along with being more powerful the new engine has increased fuel economy. According to BMW this is up to 17 percent greater than the predecessor. Also assisting in the efficiency department is an eight-speed automatic transmission that is linked with BMW’s xDrive four-wheel drive system.

2.0-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine in X3 xDrive 28i: Photo Courtesy BMW Group

On the interior, all 2012 X3’s will come standard with a Driving Experience Control feature. This enables the driver to choose between four driving modes including: “Comfort”, “Sport” “Sport +” and an “Eco Pro” mode. The system also controls the function of the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), accelerator, power steering, gearshift patterns and electronic dampers. Rounding out the technological updates in the passenger cabin are optional BMW ConnectedDrive systems that operate lane departure warnings, speed limit information and collision warnings.

Big brother X5 might have fewer changes than its smaller sibling, but its single addition is a large one. In conjunction with the release of BMW M Performance models, the X5 will now be offered with a M Sport Package. No, this is not the recently revealed X5 M50d, but a regular X5 with a traditional M Sport package. The package includes such goodies as 20-inch M light alloys wheels, high gloss shadow line exterior trim, xenon lights that go along with adaptive cornering headlights. The suspension is modified with the M Sport package. All variants of the X5 receive a sport-tuned setup, while the X5 xDrive50i is equipped with a pneumatic rear-wheel suspension and automatic levelling.

On the inside the M Sport X5 includes a host of M labeled items such as the steering wheel, foot rest and even new M Alcantara/black Nappa leather upholstery.

BMW X5: Photo Courtesy BMW Group

© 2012 GermanAutoNews

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Details Released for New M6 Coupe and Convertible

12 Feb

All-New BMW M6 Coupe: Photo Courtesy BMW Group

A year and a half has passed since the last E63 M6 rolled off the production line. Now, the specs surrounding the all-new M6 have been released.

BMW’s new top-of-the-line, two-door coupe and convertible will be powered by the same 4.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 found in the 2012 F10 M5. The engine produces a peak output of 560 horsepower between 6,000-7000 rpm, eight more than the factory rated 552 horsepower found in the M5.  A maximum torque of 502 lb-ft is available from just 1,500 rpm, thanks in part to BMW’s TwinPower turbo technology with twin-scroll turbochargers. All this horsepower and low-end torque allows the M6 to accelerate from 0-62 miles per hour in 4.2 seconds, or 4.3 with the convertible. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 miles per hour (189 mph with M Driver’s Package).

All-New BMW M6 Coupe: Photo Courtesy BMW Group

Although being different in nearly every way when compared to the naturally-aspirated, 5.0-liter V10 found in the previous generation M6, the smaller displacement powerplant has many advantages, namely in its efficiency. While its V10 predecessor managed an abysmal EPA estimated 12 mpg city and 18 mpg highway, the addition of turbocharging, stop/start functions and other technologies have improved fuel economy dramatically. BMW estimates the vehicle will achieve up to 30 percent less fuel consumption than its V10 predecessor.

Besides the engine. the transmission has also been changed. The outgoing Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG) has been replaced by the faster and more efficient M Double Clutch Transmission (DCT). Also incorporated is a launch control feature to help driver’s get off the line quicker, and with less loss of traction. No information regarding a traditional manual transmission option has been released.

All-New BMW M6 Convertible: Photo Courtesy BMW Group

As with all M vehicles, the chassis has been tuned to deliver greater road-handling and driving performance. M-specific dynamic damper control come standard, as well as DSC stability control and servotronic steering. Braking has been improved with a lightweight compound, high-performance braking system. For even greater stopping power carbon-ceramic brakes are available as an option. To keep weight down the M6 Coupe has a roof comprised of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP), much like that of the carbon fiber roof found on the current E92 M3 Coupe.

All-New BMW M6 Convertible: Photo Courtesy BMW Group

In addition to all of the power and performance numbers the M6 has all of the interior technology and gadgets found on a flagship model. Merino leather upholstery, carbon fiber interior trim and illuminated door sills, along with a host drivers aids such as high beam assist,  night vision with pedestrian recognition, lane change and departure warning.

No pricing has been announced. However, based on the previous generation expect the new M6 to have a base MSRP well in-excess of $100,000.

Interior of All-New BMW M6 Convertible: Photo Courtesy BMW Group

560 Horsepower, 4.4-liter, Twin-Turbocharged V8 in the BMW M6: Photo Courtesy BMW Group

© 2012 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com