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Is the BMW i3 One of the Best BMWs of All Time?

The BMW i3 was never a perfect car. When it first launched, its battery was lacking on arrival, producing a lower total range than even some older competitors. It also lacked the performance punch of newer EVs at the time, such as the Tesla Model S. So, on paper, the i3 seemed a bit lackluster. Now, though, looking back at the i3 and how it’s evolved since its 2014 debut, it not only seems like a much better car but it also seems like it could be one of the best BMWs of all time.

Even today, the BMW i3 doesn’t do anything spectacular on paper. It’s still expensive, its range is still lacking and it’s not very powerful. However, the i3 is a lot more than just its spec sheet and is actually a surprisingly innovative car.

A Rarity In The Automotive World – Carbon Fiber Chassis

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The i3 was the first BMW to ever use a carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) chassis and it was by far the cheapest car to use a full carbon tub. In fact, it still is. If you want a car with a carbon fiber chassis, you’re going to have to look at McLarens because there’s nothing else on the road with such construction. Also, considering the direction BMW is currently going in, the i3 will be the last BMW to feature a fully carbon tub. Even the upcoming iX will use mostly aluminum and steel, with some carbon sprinkled in. So the BMW i3 is a unicorn in not only the BMW family but the industry.

That carbon fiber construction is special for a couple of reasons. The most obvious reason is its weight. The i3 is light; sub-3,000 lbs in certain specs. Because of its light weight, it can make do with a smaller battery pack and still produce adequate ranges. It can also use a small electric motor, without gobs of power, and still feel quick enough. However, weight isn’t the only reason that carbon fiber construction is beneficial.

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Stiffness plays a big factor as well. Because the main structure of the chassis is one piece of CFRP, its torsional rigidity is far superior to any traditional chassis, made from bonded and welded metals. That stiffness allows the i3 to feel rock solid, like a six-figure luxury car, even over the roughest of pavement. It also allows BMW to fit stiffer suspension without sacrificing ride comfort, giving the i3 sharper handling.

Great Handling

Speaking of handling, the BMW i3’s rear-wheel drive layout allows it to handle with an agility that belies its looks. While the i3 might be a tall, upright hatchback, it drives and handles more like a hot-hatch than a crossover. Its steering is sharp and its chassis feels nimble, making it perfect for a city car, as it can nip in and out of traffic with ease.

Another interesting innovation on BMW’s part are the i3’s tires. During development, BMW wanted to fit the i3 with the most efficient, low rolling-resistance tires it could but didn’t want to sacrifice road-holding grip. So BMW was clever and designed very skinny but very tall tires. So the i3’s wheel size is quite large and the tires have a high profile but they’re extremely skinny, almost bicycle skinny.

BMW realized during development that the taller profile still allows for a good tire contact patch on the pavement. So even though the tires are skinny, there’s still a substantial amount of rubber on the road, allowing the i3 to better traction than you might think.

Arguably The Smartest Interior Design In The BMW Lineup

Then comes the interior. The cabin of the BMW i3 might be its best feature. We recently spoke about how the i3’s interior is potentially BMW’s best, so we won’t rehash all of those points. However, there’s more to be said about the inside of the quirky looking i3. The BMW i3 is meant to be a city car, so it has a high seating position and very tall windows. Also, due to that carbon construction again, the i3 can have narrow pillars while also meeting rollover crash standards. Due to all of that, outward visibility in the i3 is tremendous, providing drivers a commanding view of the road surrounding them.

In fact, the BMW i3’s interior is still so revolutionary that other brands are copying it. The Volkswagen ID.3 is the most recent and the most unashamed. The interior of the ID.3 is so clearly inspired by the i3 that it borders on plagiarism. It even features a higher ride height than the Volkswagen Golf, though that could also be due to the battery in the floor. Point is, the ID.3’s interior design was heavily inspired by the i3’s, even down to its quirky shift lever.

It’s also a more practical interior than you might think. Sure, the BMW i3 has a tiny footprint but because of its upright body style and sort of cube-like shape, along with its electric powertrain, BMW was able to carve out a ton of interior space. So with the rear seats folded down, you can actually haul a decent amount of luggage in the i3’s caboose. Our own Horatiu has stuffed a Christmas tree in the tiny i3 on more than one occasion. Even a bass was fitted in there.

More Popular Than Ever, Difficult To Get A New One

Also, it’s gaining popularity. At first, BMW couldn’t give i3s away. Now, it’s actually difficult to get them in the U.S. BMW dealers are back-ordered months, if they can get them at all. Admittedly, production is slower than before but demand has also gone up. As EVs become more common and sought after, customers are starting to appreciate the i3’s quirky design and driving characteristics. In other EV-centric countries, such as Norway, the i3 was always popular and is still growing in popularity.

Of course, the BMW i3 isn’t perfect and never has been. Its range, despite having been updated so many times you can’t count them on one hand, the i3 still lacks the range of its competitors. In fact, it lacks the range of competitors from five years ago. It also lacks interior tech of more modern cars and doesn’t have some of the cool semi-autonomous features of newer EVs. However, when you drive the i3 in isolation, you realize how innovative it really is. In terms of comfort tech and range, the i3 still lags far behind but it has so many interesting innovations that BMW will continue to use and learn from for years to come.



Horatiu and Nico Talk BMW iX and M2 CS

BMW has made some big waves over the past couple of weeks, with more than just car releases. First, it launched the BMW iX, a car that has divided a lot of the Bavarian fanbase. Shortly thereafter, BMW also tweeted an “Ok, Boomer” meme, in response to criticism of the iX’s design, which received even more backlash. So Horatiu and I decided to get together and discuss some of these topics.

Firstly, we start with the BMW iX. It’s an interesting car that raises several different discussions about electrification, design and the future of the brand. So we break down what the iX means to BMW, the direction it will take the brand and whether or not it’s going to sell.

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We also talk about the BMW M2 CS versus the M2 Competition. I recently had the rare opportunity to drive the two cars back-to-back, within minutes of each other, and then spent extended seat time in both, separately. So I’d like to think I have a good feel for both cars. In my review of the M2 CS, I claimed that it’s the best driving car BMW currently makes but not sure it’s worth the extra money over the M2 Competition, as that’s already a brilliant car. Horatiu doesn’t necessarily agree, so we discuss why a customer might buy the M2 CS over the M2 Competition.

Lastly, we discuss the ALPINA i8, a car that was in development for a bit but what ultimately scrapped. Horatiu had the chance to talk to ALPINA CEO Andreas Bovensiepen about the i8 project and we wrote about it recently. It’s a fascinating car and one that would have been incredible, had it been made. However, it was just too difficult of a project to develop and ALPINA, sadly, had to scrap it. So we discuss that a bit as well.

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As always, you can listen to the podcast below or find it wherever podcasts are found; Apple, Google, Spotify and Stitcher.


4 Series Gran Coupe model coming ‘very soon’

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The BMW 4 Series range is made up of the Coupe, Convertible and Gran Coupe body styles. And while the former two have already been unveiled, if you want to get the four-door coupe model you’re stuck with the old version for the time being. That’s all about to change though, as BMW is getting ready to unveil the third body style. The news comes from the company’s design boss, Christopher Weil.

In a recent interview with GoAuto, Weil said that the reveal of the car is scheduled to take place ‘very soon’. What that means exactly is anyone’s guess but it would be pretty surprising to see the car unveiled before the year’s end. According to our sources inside Munich, the F36 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe (the current model) is scheduled to go out of production in June next year, which is still quite a long way to go.

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The same sources tell us that the G26 model will be unveiled in the first quarter of 2021, at the earliest. Of course, its unveiling doesn’t necessarily imply that it will also immediately go on sale, as that’s rarely the case. In fact, we’re most likely going to see the 4er Gran Coupe in pictures and videos well before it enters production. As for the car itself, we’re excited to see a new version of the 4 Series Gran Coupe, as we liked the previous-generation car so much.

One of the explanations could come from the BMW i4, the upcoming electric model using the same platform underneath. Since BMW already planned to bring out the electric four-door coupe and the two are sharing most of the underpinnings, offering a second-generation 4 Series Gran Coupe wouldn’t be terribly costly after all. As for the design, imagine a stretched out 4 Series Coupe and you’re there. We can’t wait to see it anyway though.


CarWow tests the MINI Cooper SE range to the absolute limit

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The biggest question dominating the electric vehicles market right now still revolves around the range. That will be the biggest differentiator for the vast majority of buyers and that’s the question that is hardest to answer. That’s because the range of a car like the MINI Cooper SE, for example, will vary depending on a million different factors. The guys from CarWow decided to go a group test featuring small electric vehicles, to see which one is best and which gets closest to the official claims.

Well, there were some surprises here. The group was made up of the MINI Cooper SE, Honda e, Peugeot e-208, Renault Zoe, Volkswagen e-Up and the Opel Corsa-e. From this list, the one car that has the biggest claim is the Renault Zoe while the one with the lowest claims is the Honda e, followed closely by the MINI Cooper SE. There were no surprises regarding the winners here, as the Zoe had the longest run while the Honda e had the shortest.

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Nevertheless, the MINI Cooper SE surprised everyone, going further than anticipated. The car has a rating of 145 miles in the UK but in this particular test managed to cover 154 miles which is pretty impressive and right on par with my own findings during my time with the car. What was also different on the MINI was the fact that it wasn’t predictable in how it estimated its range towards the end, showing a range of 6 miles for a long period of time before dropping fast.

What I would like to point out though is that this test was done in terrible conditions. These cars are meant to be used mainly around town and that’s where they are most efficient. As you can see in the video, they were driven mostly on the highway at 70 mph, a speed that will deplete the batteries at an accelerated pace. Furthermore, the weather was hot and the AC was on all the time, yet another big consumer of range. Even so, since the criteria was the same for all the cars, you could say this test shows which is most efficient overall.


How Did the E31 BMW 850i Stack Up Against the Porsche 928 GTS?

When we look back at the E31 BMW 8 Series, the original 8er that went dormant for decades following the end of its life cycle, we often look back with nostalgia. The original 8 Series was, and still is, a great looking car that was available with a stonking V12 and a six-speed manual option. So, as BMW enthusiasts in a turbocharged, small-displacement, automatic world, we often see the E31 through rose-tinted glasses. However, back in its day, it wasn’t as well regarded, as this Car and Driver comparison from 1992 — between the BMW 850i and Porsche 928 GTS — proves.

Even back in its own day, the BMW 850i seemed to come up quite a bit short. Sure, it was one of the most high-tech, if not the very most high-tech, cars ever made at the time. However, its 5.0 liter V8 only made 296 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. When mated to a four-speed automatic, it took a glacial 7.2 seconds to reach 60 mph. While the Porsche 928 GTS used a 5.4 liter V8 that made a much healthier 345 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. When equipped with its own four-speed auto, the Porsche only needed 5.3 seconds to reach 60 mph.

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Not only was the Porsche far quicker in its time, it was far more fun to drive. Steering in the Porsche was both more accurate and provided better feel, its chassis was more agile and its suspension tuning was better balanced. The only aspects of the BMW 850i that were superior to the Porsche were its interior comfort and sound levels. The 850i was a big, comfy cruiser that prioritized grand tourer far more than sportiness. Sounds a lot like the current 8 Series, doesn’t it?

Due to that, the Porsche 928 GTS won C&D’s comparison easily. Why is this important to read? It seems as if BMW hasn’t learned its lesson with the 8 Series. The only difference between the current 8 Series and the original is that the current one has the performance to keep up in the segment. But the same complaints about a boring drive and uninspired interior remain. Thankfully for BMW, Porsche lacks a new generation of the 928.

[Source: Car and Driver]


The BMW i3 Has the Best BMW Interior of All Time

BMW is a brand that’s supposed to be known for making sporty cars that put driver engagement above all else. It’s a brand that built its name on the idea of being the “Ultimate Driving Machine.” BMW has never been known for much else, especially not for making great looking interiors. Over the years, BMW cabins have been fine; functional, well-made, ergonomic and nice enough to look at. But they’ve never been beautiful in the way that Audi’s, Mercedes-Benz’s or Jaguar’s have been. However, the Bavarians did make one interior that was not only stunning but also industry-changing — the BMW i3 interior.

When the BMW i3 debuted, its frumpy looks, lackluster range and high cost drew some criticism from EV fans, especially Tesla fans. However, the i3’s cabin drew very few complaints. With the i3, BMW took futuristic minimalism to a new level and ushered in an entirely new era of interior design. To this day, nearly seven years later, the BMW i3 cabin is still incredible and is the inspiration for even brand new cars. The all-new Volkswagen ID.4 is a great example, as its interior is so clearly inspired by the BMW i3 that it borders on plagiarism. That’s not a criticism — quite the contrary. The ID.3’s interior is great looking because it’s reminiscent of the i3’s.

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Step inside a BMW i3 even today and it looks futuristic. Its use of recycled materials, light colors, bright woods and negative space create an incredibly airy and relaxing environment. Then there’s the exposed carbon fiber which objectively looks quite odd but works on an intellectual level. Seeing it reminds you that you’re in something special, something high-tech and forward thinking. It tells you that the i3 is cut from a different cloth than any other car, even other electric ones. So while it’s not the prettiest looking of materials, it’s one that makes owners and enthusiasts happy.

As a whole he i3 isn’t perfect inside. It lacks the technology of more modern BMWs, its digital gauge screen is still too small and difficult to read and its rear suicide doors can be frustrating. However, as a whole, the BMW i3 interior is the most visually interesting, forward thinking and intelligently designed interior that BMW has ever made.

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Further proof of that is the upcoming BMW iX, which has an interior that looks like the next evolutionary step from the i3’s. The fact that BMW is yet again going with an i3-style cabin for its latest and greatest EV is proof at not only how good looking the i3’s cabin was but how successful it was. Even i3-critics, enthusiasts that feel the i3 is a subpar EV, enjoy its interior. Seven years on an it’s still ahead of its time. So while BMW has had some good interiors in the past, and makes some nice ones at the moment, none have ever come close to the brilliant i3’s.


BMW M2 CS is part of Autocar’s 2020 Best Sports Cars

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Autocar is one of the oldest automotive magazines in the world. They have been reviewing cars for longer than some car companies have even existed and sort of invented the way we review cars today. They have also been holding the ‘Best Sports Car’ competition for over 31 years now, turning it into a proper tradition. The 2020 event included, among many other brilliant cars, the BMW M2 CS.

The purpose of this comparison is to figure out which car is the best at giving you an incredible experience behind the wheel. Therefore, price tags don’t really matter, just like size also doesn’t matter in this particular case. This is why you’re going to see cheap, small cars like the Toyota Yaris GR alongside proper supercars like the Ferrari F8 Tributo or the Porsche Taycan Turbo S. The only metric that really matters here is the amount of smiles per kilometer covered.

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As for the BMW M2 CS, it was only natural to see it featured here as the sole representative of the Bavarian brand. It is considered by many the last pure BMW before the electric revolution takes over and there are a lot of reasons why that’s true. From the fact that it’s light and it has a straight six under the hood, to its compact size and playful rear end, everything is just as you would want it to be in such a coupe.

The results, however, didn’t favor the BMW. The M2 CS came up second to last, a position occupied by the Ferrari F8 Tributo. Nevertheless, considering the rest of the line-up was made up of cars like the new Porsche 911 Turbo S, McLaren 675LT, Lamborghini Huracan Evo and the likes, that’s a really good crowd to be included in anyway. Cheers to the little Toyota GR Yaris though, an incredible performer!


MINI Convertible wins 2021 Best Convertible award in the UK

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The MINI range might be in need of some upgrades but it looks like that doesn’t stop the British manufacturer from claiming various awards. Even though the MINI Convertible is getting a bit long in the tooth, the open-top cruiser managed to get crowned the Best Convertible for 2021 by the British magazine CarBuyer. The announcement came this week, as the CarBuyer Best Car Awards winners were revealed.

According to the website, the MINI Convertible offers something different, as very few small cars are available with a soft-top these days. It’s just as fun to drive as the hatchback version and comes with lots of kit, a stylish interior and an affordable price. This win makes it the fourth time the MINI won, the Oxford-built model claiming the accolades throughout the last three years as well.

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“It’s a fantastic accomplishment to have won Carbuyer’s Best Convertible for the fourth year running. The MINI Convertible has outsold its rivals every year since its launch in 2016 and continues to put a smile on our customers’ faces, and this award is really testament to that,” said David George, Director, MINI UK. The MINI hardtop is bound to get a facelift next year and that could bring about some changes for the Convertible as well.

This will be a bit peculiar, since it would be the second time the two cars get a mild nip and tuck, but the truth of the matter is money is needed for more important models at the moment, as MINI prepares to enter the electrified era. Sales have been dwindling too and with the current Coronavirus outbreak and economic downturn things are not peachy, not in the very least. As a matter of fact MINI recently announced that a new crossover is coming and that’s going to be purely electric.


BMW X7 Facelift Caught Doing Some Public Testing

When the BMW X7 first launched, it was a bit of a shock to the entire automotive world. Not only was it a massive departure from what the brand has traditionally built but its styling also did the same. Its massive front grille, squinty headlights and bulbous shape were all massive leaps away from BMW’s traditional styling. However, now that it’s been on sale for awhile, we’re used to its seemingly strange styling and it’s actually a great SUV. It’s also about to get a bit better, thanks to an LCI refresh in the works, as seen in these new photos. (We don’t own the spy photos but they can be seen here)

This new LCI refresh seems to be a big one. Typically, a BMW LCI treatment just means some slightly updated headlights, maybe a taillight refresh and some minor interior tweaks. However, for the BMW X7, its whole face seems to be changing quite a bit. The headlights not only seem far bigger than before, they seem to be in a completely different spot, at least a few inches lower than before. While that’s a bit unusual, it might look a lot better, as it could get rid of the squintiness of the X7.

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While the grille is still enormous, it looks like it’s a bit curvier, a bit rounder. That could also work in the X7’s favor, as the current grille is rather square and upright. The softer, rounder shape will lessen the shock of just how big the grille is.

Out back, the taillights seem to be identical, which isn’t much of a shock, and the rear bumper is the same as well. We also can’t see any interior photos, so we don’t know if BMW’s changed much but we doubt it. It’s likely to get the latest iDrive update and that’s about it, as the rest of the BMW X7 is the same as every other new Bimmer inside. Though, it would be nice to see BMW give it an update as well, to keep the X7 at the top of BMW’s luxury food chain.

[Source: Motor1]


The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer Looks… Good?

For BMW purists, there may not be a more heretical car than the 2 Series Active Tourer. Not only is it front-wheel drive-based but it’s essentially a minivan. It’s a compact people mover designed to do just that and only that — move people. It’s a pleasant, premium, A-to-B type car that is sort of the antithesis of what a BMW is supposed to be. However, among actual buyers, people who put their money down on BMWs, the 2 Series AT proved to be quite successful for the brand. So it’s getting a new mode and it looks, dare I say, good? (These new spy photos aren’t ours but you can see them here)

When BMW first launched its front-wheel drive ‘Tourers, the Grand Tourer and Active Tourer, the latter was the smaller of the two and the only one to survive long enough to see a second-generation. This new second-gen 2 Series Active Tourer gets some new styling and a shape that actually might make it a handsome car.

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Up front, slick look headlights give it a high-tech, sporty vibe and its large grille makes it a bit brash. So while it’s going to be a people mover by nature, it’s not going to look like a vanilla econobox. It’s going to have some style. Whether that style is good looking or not is up to the buyer but it’s going to stand out, there’s no doubt about that.

Out back, classic BMW L-shaped taillights remain and sit about an exhaust-less rear bumper. It’s not like BMW to hide exhausts but it seems to be doing so here. The test mule in question doesn’t seem to be a hybrid or an EV, due to its seeming lack of charge point and/or “Electric Test Vehicle” stickers. So it looks like BMW is going to hide the exhausts behind the rear bumper for the 2 Series Active Tourer, which is new for the brand.

What surprises me the most about this car is that, in profile, it actually looks sort of sporty. Well, at least as sporty as a front-wheel drive van can look. It has a semi-athletic stance and, when put on M Sport suspension with slick wheels, might actually not look too bad.

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Current 2 Series Active Tourer Interior for Reference

So if you’re a BMW fan but need something practical for your daily life; handling the school run, getting groceries, etc.; this might actually be a great option for you.

[Source: Motor1]