BMW has a long history behind it and, as one would expect, since it’s based in Germany, it has gone through a lot in the last century. Having faced two world wars that basically destroyed the old continent and in which Germany was on the losing side, twice, BMW had to face some truly hard times. Nevertheless, the Bavarians managed to rise from the ashes every single time and reinvent themselves. Today we’re taking a look at one of the least known chapters in its history, otherwise known by historians specialized in the BMW brand as the ‘Notproduktion’ concept.
Germany was in shambles after the second World War and the fact that it had been split in two by the Iron Curtain definitely didn’t help. The sanctions imposed on the country were tough and German companies had to pay for a lot of them, with their own technologies and tools. BMW, for example, lost a lot of its production plants, some of them being left on the Eastern side of Germany (now taken over by the communists) and some being confiscated by the American army, for various purposes.
BMW had been forbidden to return to manufacturing ways up to July 28, 1945. That interdiction covered everything, not just cars and motorcycles, but every single widely consumed item you could think of. Thankfully, the company gets a license to start manufacturing again and from March 26, 1946 on, BMW was allowed to start making motorcycles again, an encouraging step if you will.
Even so, part of the Munich and Allach plants, BMW tools and workers were still busy working of repairs and maintenance for the American Army. As a matter of fact, the Karlsfeld Ordnace and Maintenance Depot is set up at Allach, becoming the biggest repair center for the American Army on the entire European continent. While it may seem like forced labor, this deal allowed the company to gain access to resources to start manufacturing items for its own sake.
Most of its technology and tools had been sent overseas by 1946 and it wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s that the buildings BMW had were fully repaired and therefore resuming production of any kind was problematic. Forced by the circumstances, BMW tries to reinvent itself and the Notproduktion kicks off, a sort of crisis production, a concept that was familiar to BMW, as it was used once before, after the First World War.
Given that most of the technical documentation for making cars and motorcycles had been lost once the Eisenach factory was confiscated by the USSR on the Eastern side of the country (behind the Iron Curtain), the company starts making pots and pans, all sorts of cooking accessories, agricultural tools, brake pumps, light metal works, bikes and even spare parts for various mechanical tools and BMW cars. As you can imagine, the profits weren’t great so workers often were paid in the very products they were making for 8 hours a day
Therefore, between 1945 and 1947 BMW made no less than 34,000 pots which represented nearly a quarter of the revenue BMW made during those tough 24 months. As peculiar as it may seem, this chapter of BMW’s history might’ve not been glamorous or filled with revolutionary technologies but it carried the company forward, paving the road ahead and basically making it the giant that it is today.
If you’re the proud owner of either a BMW Z4 or Toyota Supra, you may need to call your dealer and find out if your car is part of the latest recall. Both cars; being assembled at the same factory in Austria and built on the same architecture, using the same engine and gearbox; have just had recalls issued for potentially faulty fuel tank welds. Yikes.
As of right now, only 49 models; 14 Z4s and 35 Supras; are being recalled due to this issue and there have been no recorded injuries stemming from it. So there’s not an immediate cause for concern. However, it is a serious issue that needs to be remedied.
Apparently, some of the fuel tank welds could be faulty which could case the tanks to leak and, in the case of some sort of ignition, catch fire. So it’s potentially serious, though it doesn’t seem to have hurt anyone yet. Still, it needs to be taken care of as soon as possible.
BMW hasn’t publicly released the VIN ranges of the cars that could be affected but it should be contacting owners rather soon. However, regardless of that, if you’re a BMW Z4 or Toyota Supra owner, you should call your local dealer and find out if your car is part of this recall or not. If it is, the remedy is simple; the fuel tank will be replaced free of charge at the dealership with one that has the proper welds.
This isn’t the first recall for both cars, as there was a previous recall last year for a seatbelt issue. Which is a shame because both cars are quite good sports cars and the Z4 M40i is one of my personal favorite BMWs on sale at the moment. Hopefully more people buy these cars because they’re great and hopefully they can also stay out of recalls.
We’re here to answer, do people still read blogs? So, let’s get right to it.
Do people still read blogs?
Yes, people still read blogs today (in record numbers) and will almost certainly continue reading blogs for many years to come. In fact, an overwhelming 77% of Internet users report regularly reading blog posts according to the latest blogging statistics. However, despite a consistent increase in the number of people reading blogs, how we read them is changing quite a lot. The average reader only spends 37 seconds reading a blog post today, which makes clear that most people are unlikely to read an entire blog post from start to finish—and instead scan for the information they’re looking for.
While the evidence is clear that people do still read blogs in record numbers today, it’s never been more important to create a great scannable content experience for your readers—so that they can quickly locate the answers they’re seeking and move on with their busy lives. Having worked as a blogger, business owner, writer and content marketer myself, that’s something I have a lot of experience with.
Over the years, I’ve been teaching 500,000 monthly readers how to start a blog on the right foot—and one of the most important aspects of that process has become choosing a blog layout and design that delivers a great experience for your readers… thus encouraging them to come back for more.
So with that goal in mind, let’s talk a little more about how to make sure people still read your blog.
Do People Still Read Blogs? (Is Blogging Finally Dead in 2021?)
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission. When you make a purchase using my one of my affiliate links, the company compensates me, which helps me run this blog and keep my content free of charge to you. Know that I also only recommend products I personally stand behind.
Alright, now let’s dig a little deeper into the question of do people still read blogs? and examine whether or not blogging is finally dead in 2021. After it’s all said and done, I think you’ll agree when I say blogging has had both a rich history and still has massive potential for countless applications as we head into the future.
2016: WordPress launches the .blog domain extension
2021: There are now over 31.7 million bloggers in the U.S. alone
The reasons why people read blogs have been varied throughout the entire history of blogging. Ultimately though, at the end of the day, people read blogs because they’re looking for solutions to the problems they have… and a blog is often one of the best formats to provide those kinds of solutions to people online—whether through written content, video or audio.
A blog can accommodate any content format, and it can be used to educate, inform, advocate (for your own point of view), sell a product or service, provide support and so much more…
Here are just a few of the reasons why people still read blogs today:
To find the answers to quick questions they have
To learn a new skill by following along with an in-depth guide
To watch a video tutorial that walks through completing a particular task
To follow along with the teachings of an expert or influencer within a particular niche
To solicit advice on a forum or in the comments section of a relevant blog
To get relevant news, information or updates on local happenings
To connect with other like-minded individuals and participate in an online community
To decide whether or not they should buy a product or service they’re considering
To better understand how a new product or service they recently purchased works
If there’s something you can teach, tell or explain to an already existing audience of readers, then a blog is the one of the easiest vehicles to do it.
And it’s because of just how easy it is to start a blog today, that there are millions of people entering the world of blogging each year (and teaching their valuable skills & expertise to others online). Blogs can be high quality sources of reliable information and educational resources to people located anywhere the world with an Internet connection… and for that reason, blogs will be here to stay for a very long time.
Best Practices for Designing a Blog People Will Read
With well over 4 Billion people now using the Internet today, there’s also an unprecedented level of competition to grab the attention of those readers (and provide solutions to them).
There’s truly a race to the top of the mountain when it comes to providing increasingly useful, valuable, accessible content to people around the world—and a large part of that equation is delivering content in a format that readers want to consume it in.
Take note from this screenshot of my guide about blog layout best practices, where I have a very clear blog headline that describes what my readers will get from the article, and then a scrolling table of contents menu that moves along with them throughout the length of the article (making it easier for them to jump around and find the answers they’re looking for) to name just two reader-focused design elements:
Aside from the essential foundation of making sure you always write a blog post that serves a clear purpose and somehow delivers value to your audience, be sure to follow these best practices (as pulled directly from my guide about designing a blog layout, which includes a dozen real life examples to learn from too):
Choose Fonts You Can Read
Organize Your Layout for Easier Access
Design Your Blog Posts to Be Easily Scannable
Utilize High-Quality Images (or Graphics)
Consider Page Load Time
Include Compelling CTAs (Calls to Action)
The Fine Line Between Creative and Cluttered
Brand Your Layout
Make Your Layout Relate to Your Audience
And that’s a wrap for today!
Do people still read blogs? The answer is an overwhelming yes.
But you’ll still need to put in the work to make sure you’ve created useful content & have a design that’s user-friendly enough that readers will care to stick around.
Have a Question About the Accessibility of Your Blog?
Ask away in the comments section below (share a link to your blog) and I’ll weigh in with my advice on how to make sure your blog is designed so that people will still want to read it 🙂
The F10 BMW M5 doesn’t received as much love as maybe it deserves. It was criticized by purists for being the first ever turbocharged M5 and it was also known as being a bit too heavy and numb. That said, it was still a fantastic super sedan, with blistering performance, impressive handling and surprising ride comfort. It also looked great. But the F10 M5 had one key feature that gives it a special place in the history of the M5 — it was available with a manual transmission.
For the North American market only, the F10 BMW M5 was available with a six-speed manual gearbox, marking the end of the row-your-own ‘boxes in M5s. It was an option for North America (sadly, no other market had the manual option), though it was rarely every bought. Which is why BMW discontinued the manual M5 shortly after offering it. Only 577 models were ever sold with the six-speed equipped, making it one of the rarer modern M cars you can buy.
This specific one is up for sale on Cars and Bids, allowing one lucky BMW enthusiast to get into a very special M5 for far less than it was sold for when new. Admittedly, it’s not all original, so don’t go expecting some perfectly preserved collectors car. Instead, it’s an M5 to drive, hence the manual. So it has an upgraded BMS air intake, VRSF downpipes and a Supersprint exhaust, to go along with a Stage 2 Pro Tuning Freaks engine tune. So it makes quite a bit more than its 560 stock horsepower.
From the outside, it looks bone-stock, though. It sits on stock wheels, its standard suspension and without a single exterior addition. It does have tinted windows but that barely counts as a modification, if at all.
This F10 BMW M5 only has 39,000 miles on it, so it’s still quite fresh, it’s never been in an accident and has a clean title. So for a BMW enthusiast that wants a luxurious, high-speed sedan, this one is tough to pass up. Plus, it’s literally the last of the manual M5s in history.
It’s interesting to see legendary cars as they were when they were new. Not restored to a like-new level but actually as it was when it was new. In this video from EAG, we get to see a E39 BMW M5, arguably the greatest M5 of all time, with so few miles and in such good condition, it’s essentially a brand-new car.
The 2003 E39 BMW M5 in this video only has 3,157 mile on the odometer, which is around 185 miles per year. So, it’s honestly barely been driven, outside of really short trips every now and again. Because of that, the car is in about as close to brand-new condition as you’ll find on an E39 M5 and it could be the lowest-mileage E39 M5 in North America.
Its exterior is virtually flawless, without even a single noticeable rock chip in the front end’s paintwork. There’s not a single mark on the wheels, swirling in the paint and certainly no scratches or dents. Hell, it’s even on its original Dunlop tires from 2003.
Potentially even more impressive is the interior. The owner is said to be a musician and he’s kept the E39 M5 in astonishing condition. Inside, the only imperfection — not even a problem but just slight imperfection — is a minor scratch in the steering wheel leather, the size of maybe a pea. Aside from that, the interior is perfect. Even with just over 3,100 miles on the clock, I can’t figure out how someone sits in those seats for over 3,000 miles and doesn’t wear them at least a bit. They look as if they’ve never held a human ass before.
Though, as impressive as this is, it makes me personally kind of sad. The E39 BMW M5 is one of the absolute greatest performance sedans ever made, it doesn’t deserve to sit in a garage for its entire life. It was made to be driven and driven hard. Keeping it this well-preserved is impressive but completely goes against the point of buying such a car. It’s like forcing LeBron James to sit on the couch and eat Fritos. He’s too talented for that and so is the E39 M5.
Anyone who’s ever worked on a project car for the first time knows the pain felt in this video. In fact, I’m getting PTSD flashbacks just watching it. In this video from Car Throttle, co-host Ethan, who does not work on cars, is tasked with not only replacing the brakes (easy job) but also replacing the stock springs with lowering springs (not so easy job) on his project BMW Z3, without ever doing either before.
Replacing brakes is relatively easy but it’s not if you’ve never done it before. Admittedly, Ethan and the CT gang had great tools at their disposal. Cordless impact wrenches are the stuff of dreams when working on cars. However, if you’re not careful, those same impact wrenches can be disastrous, as Ethan learned when he sheared a bolt, require a ton of work to get the shaft of the bolt out of the wheel carrier. Ouch.
Then it’s on to replacing the stock springs with lowering springs. Anyone who’s done this knows the genuine fear of compressing and decompressing a coil spring for the first time. If you do it wrong, the spring and fire off its perch like a rocket and break your face. It also doesn’t help when you have friends messing with you and freaking you out while you do it. We’ve all been there.
After it’s all said and done, though, Ethan’s project BMW Z3 looked great. Its lower ride height adds some necessary sportiness to its look but the new Eibach springs will also drastically improve its handling. So that’s a job well done.
Watching videos like this make me want to go and work on my car but then I remember how aggravating it is half the time and decided I’d rather just go take a nap instead. Yea, that sounds better.
Three full days spent with the new, controversial BMW 4 Series Coupe have showed me an actually entirely surprising car, boasting superior dynamics, an impressive design that sets to be instantly noticed and a highly attractive everyday usability.
When BMW finally lifted the veil off its brand new G22 4 Series generation in June, the fan community was instantly divided. It was like we were reliving the famous Bangle era at its inception point once again. If in the past the Bangle butt and the flame surfacing were main topics of intense discussion, now the controversy was reduced to a single centerpoint: the new, upright kidney grille.
The Big Grille Is Here To Stay
As much as some would rather have the tall kidneys go away, they are proudly here to stay. I must confess that I too was shocked by BMW’s new approach, but I slowly digested the big change and tried to get myself comfortable with the new reality. I agree that BMW needed to somehow set the 3 Series and 4 Series apart, after the preceding generations were somehow difficult to set apart visually, despite some specific details.
The new 4 Series Coupe is now a more individualized car, a true niche model in an automotive world that seems determined to get rid of the beautiful, classic 2-door models. This was mostly achieved thanks to the daring team of designers that penned the G22 model series. The radical looks of the new 4 Series Coupe will certainly draw a lot of attention and might open the way to new clients compared to the F32 traditional customer base.
If BMW applied a more careful and reserved recipe for the first-ever 4 Series that came out if 2012, the Munich-based constructor now took the liberty to explore new heights with the second generation of the mid-class premium Coupe. And it is brave from them they’ve managed to deliver such a spectacular visual fest with the G22 – even though they were fully aware of the mixed feelings that the new model would cause.
Getting to know the test car: The Specification
The tested BMW 420d xDrive Coupe came finished in the Dravit Grey paintwork and sporting the 797 M alloys (as part of the M Sport package) equipped with winter tires. Inside, the car was specced in the Vernasca Oyster leather upholstery with the BMW Individual polished aluminum trims for the dashboard.
The equipment list included mostly all the relevant options such as: heated steering wheel, electrically-assisted tailgate, Comfort Access, BMW Live Cockpit Professional, Gesture Control, wireless smartphone charging technology, electrically-adjustable heated front seats with memory for the driver, Harman/Kardon sound system, M Adaptive chassis, variable sport steering, BMW Laserlight headlamps, Stop & Go automated pilot and Parking Assistant Plus.
The list price was EUR 41,950 (w/o VAT) or EUR 49,920 incl. VAT. Adding in the M Sport trim line (EUR 3,109) and all the extra equipment, the final price for this 420d xDrive Coupe eventually rocketed to EUR 61,491 w/o VAT or EUR 73,174 incl. VAT. Quite a hefty tag for a 2-door model, to be honest.
Exterior design: creating a powerful impression
The new 4 Series Coupe is all but going unnoticed. The signature front-end is the main business of the new 2-door model. As blatant as they may look in pictures, the new kidneys are simply a jewel to look at in person. They create a wonderful effect of power and solidity and further help differentiate the 4 Series from the 3 Series.
In terms of styling, the new G22 4 Series displays a unique design in all aspects. The “eyes” are brand new and have almost nothing in common with the 3 Series. Furthermore, they are not connected to tall kidneys. Thanks to the M Sport package, the new 4 Series Coupe gains added presence thanks to the trapezoidal black surrounding of the LED fog lamps.
The sheer muscularity the new 4 Series generation transmits is further amplified by the robust appearance of the huge kidney grille. Adorned in a shiny chrome finish, it delivers an outstanding, aggressive effect especially when looked at in the rear-view mirror. The honeycomb pattern specific to the lower-end M Performance models is doing wonders for the front end of the G22 and helps add more cohesiveness than, for example, the traditional pattern with vertical slats that would have looked a bit overdone in this case.
Even the side profile of the new 4 Series Coupe is radically reshaped, giving up some traditional lines that have stood for generations. For example, the waist line is now more integrated within the whole design of silhouette and is significantly less pronounced compared to the F32 model. Furthermore, the new wheel arches have gained more presence, now being more physically emphasized.
The new 4 Series Coupe wants to further deepen the rift between the generations with the addition of the reinterpreted Hofmeister Kink. The straight inferior side window line made way for a new, rear-sweeping line, whose visual effect is further amplified by the BMW Individual Aluminium Line ornament that the test car was equipped with.
At the rear end, the accents lies mostly on the minimalistic touch to balance the whole exterior design. You get the traditional L-shaped lamps, but for the new 4 Series they went through a consistent diet and evolved slimmer and more streamlined compared to the outgoing generation. The new rear lights are also heavily influenced by the new 8 Series, seeing the accentuated “L” red diode and the greyed-out area above it.
Interior Design: A Familiar Venue
Whereas the exterior of the new 4 Series Coupe is a decisive departure from the 3 Series, the cabin of the G22 is more closely shared with the G20/G21. BMW played a safe card and I am glad that common sense prevailed in the interior. The atmosphere inside the premium mid-sized coupe is thus typical to the brand. The degree of noise insulation is acceptable to good, in line with the 3 Series.
Expect for some details on the door covers and center tunnel, the dashboard is basically shared with the 3 Series. As the model was fitted with the BMW Live Cockpit Professional package, it came up with two digital screens: a 12.3-inch instrument cluster and 10.5-inch control display. This architecture is not only visually attractive and high-tech looking, but it is also very useful and dramatically simplifies the driver’s access to relevant functions.
The control and operation concept remains unchanged and true to the brand – touch functionality from the central screen, the iDrive rotary controller, the buttons on the steering wheel, the Gesture Control or the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. The area around the charging tray has been slightly altered and now features more prominent outer edges compared to the 3 Series.
Also, given the fact this a coupe, the two doors are substantially larger in length, sporting a revised door cover and a frameless architecture. The test vehicle also had galvanic applications for the buttons, including the door lock/unlock and set memory controls on the driver’s side.
When driving the new 4 Series Coupe, you also have to accustom yourself to the lower height compared to your ordinary sedan. This creates a sense of inherent dynamism, but for taller people it will somehow tricky to get in. Even though the space for the rear seat area has marginally increased compared to the previous model, the rear seats are mostly suited to be occupied just in case. Otherwise, the new 4 Series Coupe is mostly being addressed to clients as a two, front-passenger car.
Anyway, the new G22 feels well suited and properly luxurious inside, able to create a cosy atmosphere for all passengers and adding a decisive note of individualism to the entire traveling experience, both as a driver or non-driver.
G22 vs. F32: A Look Back At The 4 Series Pioneer
I have always liked the 4 Series ever since its inception. The F32 was a typical BMW coupe model, sporting a traditional design philosophy and more sophistication over the 3 Series sibling. For this test, I also borrowed an LCI model of the preceding 4 Series Coupe generation to see how things evolved and why the new model is so much more radical and advanced. To begin with, I lined up the 420d xDrive Coupe test car in M Sport trim line with a decisively classic 420i xDrive Coupe in the former Luxury Line trim, which is no longer offered for the G22 generation.
From the first glance, it is clearly visible that the badge is essentially the only feature identical to the compared models. While I still enjoy the F32, putting it alongside the G22 reveals the intricate and substantial difference between the two generations. It is like we are discussing about completely distinct models.
The F32 puts an emphasis on preserving tradition, with the Luxury Line adding a galore of chrome accents and ornaments all around the car. The generation is essentially distinguished through its horizontally-displaced, wide kidneys that connect with the headlamps, that are just slightly different from those of the F3x 3 Series models, and the chrome element surrounding the front air vent area.
The visual effect that is created by the former design adds extra wideness to the front-end and makes it look very streamlined. On the opposite, the new 4 Series Coupe heralds a departure from past influences and comes up with the vertically-developed grille, delivering a more aggressive and rebel stance.
Nevertheless, the design of the F32 will age pretty well, but seeing the new G22 model series shows to me that its controversial design will refine through the passing of time. It simply looks astonishing and fresh compared to the former generation, and in many aspects, better. Of course, it is all down to a matter of personal taste, but I feel that even the most adverse advocates will change their mind a bit once they get the chance to see the car in person.
Of course, there are angles in which I do prefer the F32 over the G22. As crisp as the new generation may look, I feel that the former, more classic window line and Hofmeister were better suited for the model. And marginally, I prefer somehow the previous sophistication of the rear end, even though the new tail lamps look positively dynamic and the symmetrical positioning of the exhausts is preferable.
But, in the end, it is the first impression that matters the most. And certainly the new 4 Series Coupe is really making a powerful statement of individuality and complete departure from the past values. It does not want to be liked, it only wants to draw attention to it and it masterfully manages it, positively or negatively. In any way, it won’t pass by unnoticed.
Powertrain and Dynamics: Precise, Poised, Characterful
The new 4 Series Coupe impressed me with its clean, nimble ride. It is miles better than the preceding generation and substantially different to the 3 Series, the model family it shares the underpinnings with. The G22 boasts some razor-sharp dynamics, a more precise steering response and better stability thanks to some dedicated chassis modifications.
It is a joy to ride with the new 4 Series Coupe as it feels natural, uncomplicated, effortless and also stays true to the traditional BMW tagline “Sheer Driving Pleasure”. For a non-M car, it actually behaves quite spectacular and, on all fronts, better than the 3 Series. It is quite impressive to discover that the same CLAR platform can spawn a completely different car with some fine-tune adjustments.
The variable sport steering, even though largely electrically-assisted, is sharp and responsive under all situations, enabling a precise handling and more predictability. The new 4 Series Coupe achieves impeccable stability under all circumstances, enabling you to push it towards the most unimaginable limits.
The G22 is a very fun car to drive, offering both a relaxed or engaging ride. Even though it is slightly bigger and heavier than the outgoing generation and the 3 Series Sedan, the new 4 Series Coupe feels a tad more agile and fast, even powered by the mild hybrid 2.0-liter B47 diesel unit.
The car achieves a 0-100 km/h acceleration in around 7.4 seconds, which is arguably 0.5 slower than in the similarly powered 3 Series Sedan. But the way in which the engine throttle responses to the firm pedal touch is entirely thrilling and is actually helping the car achieve faster stints when needed.
Of course, an important contribution to the impressive performance of the new 4 Series Coupe comes from the great teamwork between the engine and the 8-speed Steptronic Sport transmission, enabling fast and smooth gear shifts in every situation, and the xDrive all-wheel drive system.
Thus, the extra kilos added to the kerb weight don’t seem to matter very much, as they don’t jeopardize the sheer dynamic feel and the all-rounding agility of the car. The 420d xDrive will essentially become a hot seller at least here in Romania, where the 20d versions merged with AWD are highly sought after by clients, mostly because of the recognized engine reliability and reduced consumption figures.
Of course, I can guarantee that the M440i xDrive promises even more compelling dynamic virtues and an exhilarating level of driving pleasure. Or the forthcoming 430d xDrive with MHEV 48-volt technology and 210 kW / 286 PS (282 hp), expected for March 2021. But for everyday driving and scattered weekend getaways, the 420d xDrive is just about the right choice.
Would I buy the new 4 Series Coupe?
As much as I like its looks and as delicious the idea of owning a coupe would sound, my real life necessities don’t mix very well with the confined space for the rear seats and the significantly reduced trunk size. Most likely, if I were to buy a 4 Series sometime, I would definitely choose the Gran Coupe variant. That one blends in quite perfectly the attributes of the seductive, daring design with practicality.
Other than that and the restrictive pricing, the new 4 Series Coupe is a positive surprise in almost all aspects, offering a compelling package of technology, styling and driving pleasure.
Photo Set 1 – In the quietness of the forest
Photo Set 2 – Meeting the forefather
Photo Set 3 – Lazy Sunday afternoon with The Rebel
Exterior Appeal – 8.5
Interior Quality – 8
Steering Feedback – 9
Performance – 8
Handling – 9
BMWness/Ultimate Driving Machine – 8
Price Point – 6
If you are the active kind, who also likes to be noticed and doesn’t care about spending extra money to satisfy an automotive fad, the new BMW 4 Series Coupe is a rather ideal pick. For families with more than two members, the G22 generation is not the best tradeoff, sacrifizing an important amount of space and luggage in favour of design and sheer style. But certainly, you can’t resist the temptation of buying one after driving it for the first time. It’s like love at first… drive.
Since the debut of the BMW i8 back in 2014, fans have been begging someone; BMW, the M Division, ALPINA or anyone that would listen; to build an i8 with a bigger engine and more power. The i8’s lightweight carbon fiber tub chassis seemed like the perfect host for proper supercar performance. However, no such car was ever made, much to the chagrin of the fanbase.
But, a few years ago, there was word that ALPINA actually had developed a prototype i8 with a larger engine and more power. Unfortunately, the project was scrapped and never spoken of again. Until we recently spoke with ALPINA owner Andreas Bovensiepen about that very ALPINA i8 project car.
The rumor mill brought about talk of ALPINA replacing the i8’s MINI-sourced 1.5 liter three-cylinder engine for a larger four-cylinder. Those rumors were correct, as Bovensiepen and his team did indeed swap out the engine. In fact, the engine ALPINA used was actually the same 2.0 liter turbocharged four-pot that now powers the BMW M135i. Except it was tuned to make around 350 horsepower, rather than the M135i’s 302 horsepower. Throw in the electric motors and the ALPINA i8 was a far more potent machine than its BMW counterpart.
“We had a complete system power output of 462 [metric] horsepower (455 horsepower) and 700 Nm (516 lb-ft) of torque, therefor we needed [better] cooling.”
Cooling was only one of the issues that ALPINA faced when stuffing in a bigger engine but it was one that ALPINA was able to remedy. Not only did ALPINA fit the engine with a bigger intercooler but it also had to fit two additional intercoolers in the front fenders to help cool the oil and the gearbox.
Speaking of gearbox, the bigger engine’s power was too much for the standard six-speed automatic used in the i8. So ALPINA went with an eight-speed Aisin unit, the same one that’s used in the M135i. That bigger gearbox needed more cooling, hence the additional dedicated intercooler.
All of that additional equipment required a new rear subframe. Obviously, the new engine and transaxle gearbox required a new aluminum subframe, which was not only sized to fit but reinforced and stronger than the pre-existing one. However, that wasn’t the only change to the chassis. ALPINA increased the tire sized, specifically up front where the tires were increased 55 millimeters, to a 201-section tire. That increase, along with a slight increase in negative camber, was done to reduce the i8’s understeer. Wider fender flares were also added, though just plastic ones for prototype duty, to fit the fatter tires.
No additional chassis modifications were necessary, though. The i8’s carbon fiber construction meant that it was already far stiff enough to handle the increased power and weight. The latter bit is an important, as the larger engine and gearbox, beefier subframes and additional intercoolers bumped the i8’s weight but at least 100 kg (220 lbs). Because of that, it needed to be crash tested yet again, to insure it continued to meet regulatory standards, which is expensive.
Crash testing and expense wasn’t the reason for scrapping the project, though. The biggest reason for ALPINA’s reluctance to finish the punchier i8 was calibration. While the BMW i8 isn’t a thrilling sports car, nor is it fast by modern sports car standards, there’s no denying that’s an incredibly well-calibrated machine. Its engine, rear-mounted electric motor and completely separate front electric motor work so seamlessly together that it borders on magic. So replacing one of those variables — the engine — requires and entire re-calibration of that software. Which is not only incredibly difficult and time consuming but it’s also incredibly expensive.
It’s so difficult and expensive that neither Andreas Bovensiepen nor his team felt that it was worth proceeding with. Additionally, they don’t think it makes any sense whatsoever for an independent tuner to even attempt. However, Bovensiepen does go on to say that it might make sense, for racetrack-duty, to strip the i8 of its hybrid tech and stuff in a larger engine. That way, there’s no calibration issues and you still get a carbon fiber chassis, just without all of the weight and complexity of batteries and electric motors.
So, due to expensive calibration issues and the need for further crash testing, Bovensiepen and his team felt that they couldn’t make an i8 that was safe to drive on the road and meet their standards. So the project was thrown in the scrap bin, unfortunately. However, one prototype was made and it did work. It just wasn’t very well calibrated.
Though, after hearing about it from Bovensiepen himself, we’d give almost anything to drive a properly tuned and calibrated ALPINA BMW i8. Imagining the potential of such a car sends shivers up and down our spines.
What was a rumor until not long ago is turning into reality rather fast. The MINI Countryman will have a successor that will find itself a bit far from the recipe the original crossover the British brand put into production. This new car will be fully electric, in an obvious effort from BMW to follow the most recent trends. The Germans not only confirmed the existence of the car today but they also said it will be made at the Leipzig Plant. Could this be because of the impending Brexit?
It very well could be one of the reasons why the new MINI will be built in Germany but I think the change of pace has more to do with the expertise the plant has in making electric cars. After all, the Leipzig location has been making electric and hybrid cars since 2013 in the form of the i3 and i8 up until not long ago. So it already has the tooling and equipment to build EVs. This change will mark a first for the plant as well, becoming the first in Germany to make both BMW and MINI models under one roof.
The Bavarians say that work has begun on the plant to adapt it to the requirements needed to make the upcoming MINI there. Production is scheduled to kick off in 2023 and, most likely, the Countryman successor will share its underpinnings with the upcoming BMW X1 which will also get petrol, diesel and an electric version with FWD or AWD.
“Over the last few years, we have worked continuously to lead our plant into a successful future. This contract to produce the successor to the MINI Countryman gives us another major milestone to work towards,” says Hans-Peter Kemser, Director of BMW Group Plant Leipzig. “It is clear evidence of the company’s faith in our expertise and our site, and fantastic news for the future of our plant.”
To boot, the Leipzig Plant hasn’t been making only the BMW i3 so far. They have extended expertise in making front-wheel drive models as well. Since launching production of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer in 2014, it has become the pilot plant for BMW’s state-of-the-art front-wheel drive architecture. It currently manufactures the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, and both the front- and all-wheel drive variants of the new BMW 1 Series. With a capacity of 350,000 units per year, Leipzig is becoming more important by the day.
Electro-swapping; taking a classic car and replacing its engine with an electric motor; has become the new hot-rodding. It might not sound sexy to old-school car enthusiasts but it’s becoming rather popular and it’s actually a great way to own classic cars while also using state-of-the-art tech. In many ways, it allows you to have your cake and eat it, too. You get old-school style with new-school tech. So if you had to electro-swap a classic BMW, which would it be?
There are so many great models to choose from, it’s hard to pick. For instance, you could go with the original BMW 2002, the car that defined the brand maybe more than any other. It’s small, lightweight and rear-wheel drive. Stuff an electric motor at the back axle and it’d not only be a ton of fun but it’d also likely be faster.
Another great choice would be an E30 3 Series. You can find junker BMW 318i models all day long, for little to no money. Swap out its aging engine with an electric motor and drive the back axle and it’d be an absolute riot to drive. The balance of the E30’s chassis would work wonderfully with an electric powertrain.
However, I think the best Bavarian candidate for an EV swap would be any E9 BMW coupe. The most famous two-door built on the E9 chassis was the BMW 3.0 CSL, a car that was not only beautiful but fantastic to drive. The only issue with the 3.0 CSL is that, nowadays, it’s eye-wateringly expensive. With an EV swap, you can find any model, the 2800CS or whatever other E9 coupe you can find in your budget, and swap the engine with an electric motor. This way, you get the same stunning looks and all the power you want without having to pay the astronomical prices of the 3.0 CSL.
When EV swapping first started, most tuners would buy wrecked Tesla powertrains, as they were relatively cheap and came with all of the requisite electronics. Now, though, there are several companies that will sell you EV crate motors, replete with all the necessary running gear. These crate motors are usually rather easy to fit into most cars and some of them are even designed to fit into specific cars. For instance, Swindon powertrain offers a kit to electro-swap for the original Mini, which is designed to be a plug-and-play bolt-on setup.
To be honest, that’s probably the best electro-swap you can do, as electric classic Minis are brilliant to drive and the kit is relatively easy to DIY. However, that’s technically not a BMW, even if MINI is now owned by the BMW Group. So I leave it up to you; which BMW would you want to electro-swap?