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BMW X8 M45e Plug-In Hybrid Seen Testing


By now, it’s no secret that BMW’s M Division is working on a standalone product, separate from other existing BMW models. However, it’s not going to be the lightweight sports car you might have been hoping for. Instead, it’s going to be a big, hulking SUV and will even offer a hybrid powertrain. The latter car — dubbed the BMW X8 M45e — has just been caught doing some camouflaged testing in public. (We don’t own the spy photos but you can see them here)

These photos are some of the closest we’ve seen of the BMW X8 yet. They show off the car’s proportions from almost every angle that matters and, even though the camo covers its details, we can get a good idea of what the car’s going to look like.

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BMW X8 Render

It’s indeed going to be a big SUV, the BMW X8, but there are actually some encouraging signs. For instance, it has a more wagon-like body shape than that of a traditional SUV, with its longer, flatter roof. The driver also looks like they will have a commanding view forward, as the H-point seems to be low enough and the hood-line is also quite low for such a big vehicle. So the driver will likely be able to see ahead quite well.

As far as details are concerned, there are only a handful of hints we can get. For instance, its grille is going to be massive but it’s not going to have the 4 Series’ beaver-tooth design. It also seems to be getting a decent looking Hofmesiter Kink. So the two iconic BMW design elements will still exist in a semi-traditional fashion.

The specific car in these photos is clearly the upcoming BMW X8 M45e, the hybrid model, as evidenced by the massive “Hybrid Test Vehicle” badges on its flanks. We know that the plug-in version of the X8 will sport a twin-turbocharged V8 aided by some electric motors. It will likely pack a ton of power and should be an interesting new model. Though, it won’t be the first electrified M car, as that will be the upcoming BMW i4 M50.

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Judging only by its silhouette, we’re cautiously optimistic about the BMW X8’s design. It seems like it will stand out from the rest of BMW’s SUVs and will have a more wagon-like look, which should appeal to enthusiasts more than traditional SUV styling. It also seems to have good proportions and a commanding view of the road for its driver. So while the X8 isn’t the bespoke M car we were hoping for, it still might please enthusiasts of the brand.

[Source: Car Scoops]

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New MINI App launched, offers new features in select countries


MINI is joining its parent-company in unveiling a new smartphone app that brings new features to the fingertips of its customers. MINI owners already had a smartphone app that allowed them to connect to the car wirelessly from a distance but now, with the new MINI App they get more functions, better UX and a new design that should streamline its usage.

The new MINI App comes with a lot of new features. Users can now see information about the vehicle and, given required options, can gain access to remote services such as locating the vehicle or locking and unlocking the doors. Destinations are also easier to input into the car’s navigation system, the new app allowing you to send them to the car from your phone. You can also use third-party app for that but even the standard map can now show traffic info, petrol stations, electric chargers and even parking facilities.

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Electric cars and plug-in hybrid  models haven’t been left out either. They have their own functions available in the new MINI App, showing the available range on your phone’s screen, the remaining charging time and others. You can even configure your charging options using your phone, setting various intervals and departure times, so that the car can pre-condition itself. Of course, customer service options haven’t been left out either, the app allowing you to contact roadside assistance if needed and even over-the-air assistance.

“With the new app generation, we are taking a further step in extending the digital customer experience around our vehicles and thus meeting the increased customer demand for digital services and functions,” said Peter Henrich, Senior Vice President BMW Group Connected Company Customer. “With the My BMW App and the MINI App, we seamlessly integrate our vehicles into the digital lifestyle of our customers. Both apps offer a lot of useful content both for the daily use of the vehicle and in the personal interaction with us as a brand, which we are continuously expanding”.

The app can be downloaded free of charge from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. For the moment, it’s available only for 30 European countries and Korea but by mid-2021 it’s supposed to become available in more than 40 countries and 23 languages.

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G80 BMW M3 is the Car Top Gear is Most Looking Forward to


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It’s award season for the auto industry, as automotive publications go through their lists of various different cars of the year. Top Gear has a unique category in its COTY awards; the car they’re most looking forward to driving. It’s a bit of an odd award because it’s actually for a car that… didn’t come out this year. Instead, it’s an award for a car that’s going to hit the road next year and one that they want to drive more than any other. That car, this time, is the G80 BMW M3.

The M3 has had received its fair share of criticism over the past couple of months. After fans learned of its mahoosive grille, shockingly heavy curb weight and automatic transmission, there was naturally some… judgement. However, as Top Gear notes, BMW hasn’t made a bad M3 yet. Even the ones that fans claimed would be horrible ended up being pretty great.

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Sure, this new M3 will have styling only a mother could love, a curb weight that rivals some SUVs and an eight-speed automatic slushbox in its most powerful trim. However, it’s still going to be built on a much improved chassis over the previous car, will pack mega power and the entry-level cars will get rear-wheel drive and a manual transmission. It also still gets a straight-six engine. So it still has the classic BMW M3 recipe. Or at least as close to it as we’re going to get in today’s world of performance cars.

Will the G80 BMW M3 be a great M3, one that can rival some of the other all-time greats in its lineage? We won’t be able to know until we drive it next year. Which is exactly Top Gear’s point. Yes, the new M3 is controversial and there are concerns but testing out a new M3 is always exciting and it’s has the potential to be brilliant.

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BMW joins forces with German companies to create auto data alliance


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BMW announced this week their plans to start a cloud-based data exchange platform that will not be using US or Chinese technology. The collaboration will include major industry and technology players from Germany. This was an expected move since traditional allies are seeing their interests divided recently, the pandemic showing European companies how dependent they are on both Chinese and American technologies.

In this endeavor, BMW will be joining forces with Siemens AG and SAP SE to create a platform that’s similar to the offerings from Alibaba or Amazon’s Web Services. This cloud technology will enable German car makers and their suppliers to figure out potential bottlenecks in the production process or parts shortages. This way, they can prepare for the future, to avoid the outages they had to deal with this year as the coronavirus lockdown put a serious strain on the supply chain.

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This new system will be based on the European Gaia-X cloud service and will have help not just from the aforementioned partners but also from Deutsche Telekom, Robert Bosch Gmbh or even ZF Friedrichshafen. This way, European car makers will be in charge of their own data and be more protected in case of any future trade wars. Furthermore, sensitive information will now be stored on their own servers.

The automotive alliance will “ensure value-added manufacturing and employment in Europe are secured,” German economy minister Peter Altmaier said in a statement for Bloomberg. This is definitely a good move for EU-based companies that have grown more and more depended on outsiders for their technology needs. What seemed like a sturdy collaboration in the past, especially with long-time allies USA, was proven to be far from perfect, especially over the last four years. While regrettable, this sort of approach will pay dividends on the long run.

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2022 BMW iX Electric SAV was spotted in Munich


BMW’s new iX electric crossover was spotted earlier this week in Munich. BMW offers two optional customization choices for the iX: the Sport Package and the BMW Individual Exterior Line Titanium Bronze. The color palette is also pretty extensive and comprises both standard and BMW Individual shades, such as the Cashmere Silver metallic or the Aventurine Red II. The latter is the color seen on the iX below.

The real life photos emphasize the size of the iX which BMW says it has exterior dimensions of an X5, is as tall as an X6 and has the wheelbase of an X7. Of course, the kidneys are the most controversial thing on the iX. The tall and narrow grilles are paired with the slimmest LED headlights yet fitted to a BMW production model. And they certainly dominate the entire front fascia. According to BMW i Design chief Kai Langer who led the iNext and iX design, the controversial grille is a signature feature of the new look for its cars.

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The iX electric flagship is underpinned by the latest, 5th generation BMW eDrive platform, which is also found under the new iX3 and will also make its underneath the upcoming i4. The architecture comprises the two electric motors, the power electronics, the charging technology and the high-voltage battery.

The power unit of the BMW eDrive is manufactured as sustainably as possible and, thus, rare earths are absent. The maximum output of the ensemble exceeds 370 kW / 500 PS (490 hp), while the acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h is possible in under 5.0 seconds.

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According to preliminary measurements, the 100 kWh gross energy content of the high-voltage battery is sufficient enough to guarantee an overall range of above 600 kilometers, in the context of the low combined consumption figure of 21 kWh / 100 km calculated as per WLTP cycle. In the EPA FTP-75 range test, the new BMW iX achieves more than 300 miles.

The new BMW iX electric SUV will go on sale in late 2021 in Europe. The U.S. market will get its first units in early 2022. Even though BMW has currently announced only the top model, we expect two additional iX variants to follow. We anticipate a base price in the $70,000 range for the entry-level model, and likely over $100,000 for the top model.

[Photos: @ege_kurt_14 on Instagram]

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Check Out the BMW 530 MLE — South African Legend


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The BMW 530 MLE might not be a very well-known Bimmer outside of South Africa but it’s actually one of the most important cars in the history of the brand. The 530 MLE was based on the E12 5 Series chassis and is, essentially, the precursor to the BMW M5, even though it wasn’t a proper M car. It was still a car engineered by the M Division for racing and then sold for road use. It’s also one of the most iconic cars in South African history.

In this video from Cars.co.za, we get to see a gorgeously restored BMW 530 MLE from its first production run of just over 100 cars, which makes it incredibly rare. It’s also stunning, with its white paint and M Division livery. The E12 5 Series is becoming more and more appreciated over time and the 530 MLE is likely the best looking example of it.

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This specific car was found and restored by Luis Malhou of Custom Restorations in Vereeniging. Malhou has restored multiple 530 MLEs in the past and is the go-to person for MLE restoration. This resto-job was done in coordination with BMW Classic and looks like it rolled off the showroom floor yesterday, despite originally being on sale almost five decades ago.

Under the hood is an M30 3.0 liter inline-six engine, mated to a dog-leg five-speed manual gearbox, which sends power to just the rear wheels. It also makes a glorious, period-correct, motorsport inline-six noise and it’s entirely intoxicating. To really appreciate the car, though, stop reading these words and go watch the video. Not only is the car a piece of South African history but BMW history, as it set the tone for cars like the BMW M535i and the E28-generation M5. More than that, though, it’s just a brilliant car to look at and listen to. So check it out.

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BMW launches a refreshed My BMW App available in 30 European markets, China and Korea


BMW is launching a new generation of their My BMW App. The refreshed app comes with a new design, as well as new features and services. The app is now available to customers in 30 European markets, China and Korea. The new app displays information on the status of the vehicle and, depending on the equipment, allows functions to be activated remotely (e.g. to locate the vehicle, lock and unlock the doors, or monitor the vehicle surroundings.

Customers are informed of available Remote Software Upgrades via the My BMW App and can easily download these upgrades at home before transferring them to and installing them in the vehicle. The BMW Digital Key is also part of the app and turns an iPhone into a vehicle key. The BMW can then be used without a physical key and this access can be shared with up to five other people.

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The Amazon Alexa can be linked with the app and customer can use this voice control to play music, access news, control compatible smart home devices and access thousands of skills. Alexa is initially available in Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy and Great Britain. The voice service will be rolled out in more countries from March 2021.

Electrified vehicles are also at the center of this app refresh. The new version gives an improved overview of the electric range, charging status and charging history. Customers can use the charge and climate timer to optimize the charging process by defining specific time slots for charging and set departure times. Pre-conditioning is also available. Furthermore, the BMW Points can help you redeem them for free charging from BMW Charging.

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Once linked with a personal BMW ID, individual preferences can be set in any current BMW vehicle quickly and automatically. Thanks to the My BMW App, logging in is now even easier – instead of manually entering a username and password, customers can simply scan a QR code to securely transfer their user settings. Users can also choose a profile picture via the app, which is now automatically transferred to the vehicle.

The new-generation app can be downloaded free of charge from the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. By mid-2021, My BMW will be available in 23 languages and more than 40 countries, including the USA, Canada, Brazil and Mexico, as well as additional markets in Southeast Asia.

 

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Video Review: BMW M2 CS


I recently had the rare opportunity to spend a ton of time in the BMW M2 CS, immediately after having driven the M2 Competition. After having driven the two cars back-to-back, I was then allowed to borrow the manual-equipped M2 CS for a few days and it was a genuine treat. Though, as much as I loved the M2 CS, I did wonder if it was actually worth the extra money over the already brilliant M2 Competition. In this video, I explain whether or not I think it is.

The BMW M2 CS does have quite a few upgrades over the standard M2 Comp. For instance, it has 444 horsepower from its 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged I6, versus the M2 Comp’s 405 horsepower. It also has a carbon fiber roof, carbon fiber hood, adaptive suspension, revised steering and even revised chassis tuning. On the outside, it gets BMW M’s style 763 wheels with a gold finish, carbon fiber accents and a hood scoop. On the inside, it gets an Alcantara steering wheel, Alcantara center console and a carbon fiber central tunnel. It also ditches the center console cubby, to make it lighter.

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So does all of that add up to a better package? Well, yes it does. However, its upgrades are only really noticeable on track, where you can actually push the car. On the road, its upgrades are barely noticeable, as the M2 Competition is already such an impressive and exciting road car, that you won’t notice any upgrades until you push it past what’s safe on the road. Having said that, the M2 CS shockingly rides better than the M2 Competition, despite being sportier, and does seem a bit more exciting, thanks to its lack of sound deadening material on the inside.

But is the BMW M2 CS worth the nearly $30,000 increase in price over the standard M2 Competition? Yes and no. It depends on what you want. If you can afford it and you want the most special version of the M2 possible, then yes it’s likely worth it. However, if you’re just looking for a great driving BMW experience and don’t need all of the extra carbon bits, you’re better off saving some money, buying the M2 Competition and upgrading it with some new coilovers, better wheels and tires and stronger brakes. Do that and the M2 Comp will be every bit as special feeling as the M2 CS on the road.

That said, the BMW M2 CS is still the best driving BMW on sale at the moment, even if it’s only by a bit. Check out our video review below.

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BMW to pull out of Formula E Racing after Season 7


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After Audi’s bombshell departure from Formula E, another one dropped today. BMW Motorsport has just announced that it will end its involvement in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship at the end of the coming season. BMW has enjoyed victories and podiums with the BMW i Andretti Motorsport team and some of the Formula E tech transferred onto production cars. Since entering a works team in Season 5, BMW i Andretti Motorsport has claimed four victories, four pole positions and nine podiums in its 24 races so far.

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Diriyah (KSA), 21st-23rd November 2019. ABB FIA Formula E Championship, Season 6, BMW i Andretti Motorsport, BMW iFE.20, Alexander Sims.

The same engineers who develop the drivetrains for electric production vehicles are also responsible for the drivetrains in the race cars. Examples of the successful transfer of technology between the Formula E project and production development include new findings regarding energy management and energy efficiency, the transfer of software for power electronics from racing to production, and an improvement in the power density of the e-motors.

BMW says that when it comes to the development of e-drivetrains, they have essentially exhausted the opportunities for this form of technology transfer in the competitive environment of Formula E.

Furthermore, BMW plans to focus on the comprehensive scaling of the electric vehicles production. BMW Group plans to have put one million electric vehicles on the roads by the end of 2021. The goal is to increase this figure to seven million by 2030, of which two-thirds will be fully-electric.

Season 7 will see the BMW iFE.21 and drivers Maximilian Günther (GER) and Jake Dennis (GBR) attempting to write another history chapter for the Motorsport brand.

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The MINI Electric GP Will Have no Immediate Competitors


This is usually the part where we compare the newest BMW to product to some of its competitors. Now that the MINI Electric GP has been officially revealed, we should be seeing how its design and specs might compare to some of the other cars in its segment. However, there really aren’t any. In fact, the MINI Electric GP might not have a natural competitor for a long time.

That’s not to say that there aren’t any other electric hatchbacks because there are many. None of them, however, are high-performance track cars, as they’re all focused more on efficiency than anything else. None of the electric hatchbacks on the market will have a stripped out interior, wild-looking aerodynamics and a suspension that’s been designed for track use. Which will leave the MINI Electric GP in a class of its own.

We are very curious to see what a track-focused EV hot-hatch is actually like to drive, though. On its face, it sounds like an exciting proposition; a small, front-wheel drive hatchback with the instant thrust of an EV motor and hot-hatch dynamics. However, in the real world, there might be some complications. For instance, what’s range going to be like on a track-focused car? To be a capable sports car, it’s going to need sticky tires, which have poor rolling resistance. Also, track use absolutely kills battery range, so how long will the GP actually be able to be capable on a track, before its battery finally craps out?

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Then there’s the question of weight. The MINI JCW GP is a fairly light car but adding a battery pack will add significant weight and could drastically reduce its handling balance. Torque steer is another issue. The standard JCW GP will torque steer you into oncoming traffic if you aren’t careful so what will happen with the instantaneous torque of an EV?

When it comes to an electric hot-hatch, there are likely more questions than answers at the moment. Which is why we’re so excited to see the MINI Electric GP, as it will answer many of those questions, for better or worse. It will also be the first car to answer those questions, as no other electric hatchback in the segment will be able to put down performance like the Electric GP.