The new BMW M2 is the successor of the legendary 1M Coupe launched a few years ago by BMW. This car has one aim, the aim to please. The 1M lived up to that aim by offering 250 kW version of the N54 Twin Turbocharged 3.0 litre straight six engine. The new M2 uses the Twin Scroll N55 engine that has been enhanced by M Gmbh to produce more power and torque.
The M2 has new design cues to make it stand out from its little brother the M235i. Large air intakes at the front, new front and rear bumpers, four exhaust pipes and M3/M4 wheels make the car have a stance that is more aggressive and intimidating than any other 2 Series. Inside the interior looks very similar to the M235i but with subtle changes that differentiate the car between the M235i and itself.
The M2 comes just in time to join the fight between the updated Mercedes A45, and Audi’s RS3. Even though the car is not a hatchback, the previous 1M was pitted against the RS3 and it was an interesting fight. The M2 brings an undeniable presence to the playing field, its RWD set up may make it the most fun out of the three. Let the games begin.
Turning forty is big deal for many, it’s an interesting year because generally at forty years of age, many look back to see if they have done all that they strived to do in their lives. This is the case with BMW’s 3-Series. To begin with, one has to give credit where credit is due. The BMW 3-Series has for a very long time being the favourite of many South Africans in terms of the compact luxury sedan segment. This has been the case locally and to a large extent around the world. Now that forty years have passed, BMW have revitalised the range through a face-lifted version of the car. This update does not only affect the outward appearance of the new BMW 3-Series but the engines have gone under the knife too, and the results are very good.
In our previous article about the new BMW 3-Series, we discussed all the changes, you can read that article here. Now we want to discuss how those changes translate to the driving experience and if the update is something worth riding home about. First of all, let’s discuss aesthetics.
How does it look?
The face-lifted BMW 3-Series dons bright LED taillights and optional full LED head lights that sharpen the lines of the car very well. The new lights have the same impact that a bold frame has on an artwork, it makes the subject stand out and forces you to look. The revised bumpers add to the aesthetic appeal of the car too, giving the car a “fresh face” so to speak. Interior changes on the car are more subtle, with small trim changes added, but the cabin still retains its premium look and feel. Since the main focus on the updated BMW 3-Series was not the outside but rather under the bonnet, the biggest question we should ask ourselves is how the new car feels behind the wheel.
How does it drive?
The engines have all been reworked in this model, more power, more torque and different badges. As we mentioned in the previous article, the 316i, 328i and 335i are now models of the past. Welcome the 318i, 330i and 340i to the stable as their replacements with the 320i still remaining. On the diesel side, the 330d and the 320d badges remain too. We had the pleasure of sampling the top of the range 340i and the more humble 320i model, both of which were interesting cars to drive.
The 340i was fitted with the Sports Package, with all the extras you can think of. The best way to explain the power-train of the 340i fitted with the 8 Speed ZF Automatic (which is standard), is by likening it to double thick cream. You know the kind you get on desserts at very fancy places? The engine is a pleasure to drive on the road, it has a distinct smoothness to it coupled with boat loads of torque seamlessly distributed by the 8 gears onto the road.
What about the 320i?
The 320i on the other hand has a completely different feel to it. Since it’s the smaller 4 cylinder 2.0 litre turbocharged engine, it has a more youthful persona to it. You can grab it by the scruff of its neck and enjoy every bit of power it gives to you, whereas the 340i commands much more respect especially on the public roads we drove the cars on. Dynamically the 340i and 320i are very planted on the road, even at high speed. The setting you have the car in contributes greatly to the responsiveness, damping and steering feel of the car.
The Comfort setting is the one for everyday use, whereas Sport and Sport Plus are for those more rushed days and of course Eco mode is dedicated to making the car as efficient as possible. A very impressive point found in the revised version is how the damping on the car is never back-breaking, even in the “harshest” Sport mode. The steering feel of most modern cars is a topic that has led to many debates in the motoring world. Electric power steering has come a long way since it was first introduced to many cars a few years ago.
In the case of the BMW 3-Series, the weight of the steering in the car changes depending on the mode you’re in. More weight is added as well as more steering feel in the sportier modes, whereas the converse happens in the Eco and Comfort modes. Very enthusiastic drivers may long for the “good old days” of hydraulic steering, since that steering system provided more feedback to the driver. The same goes with manual gearboxes giving one the sense of being “one with the car”, but the reality is that future is here and the future likes automatics and electric power steering. That being said, what we have today still provides excitement on the road and comfort that we could have never experienced in the past.
The BMW 3-Series has matured with those that fell in love with it 40 years ago. The boy-racer mentality has been left behind for its less mature siblings, such as the 1 and 2 Series. This is a good thing considering that a new 3-Series will not cost you chump change, with a starting price R409 000 for the baby 318i and R656 000 for the 340i, any 3-Series client will expect a large measure of luxury and comfort. This is exactly what BMW gives those looking to buy in this segment. The majority of BMW 3-Series buyers are not going to drive these cars to their absolute limit on the road and BMW knows that. That is why the car’s set-up, that of being more comfort orientated makes perfect sense for the range considering the clientèle that will buy it.
A good 40 years indeed.
If the BMW 3-Series was a human being, it would surely have a smile on its face. It has accomplished a lot in forty years, selling over 14 million units since its humble days before features such as ConnectedDrive and Reverse camera were even thought of. The car has had good old days but it has better new days ahead of it too. The BMW 3-Series is the reason why we have such good cars from other brands in that segment, it has pioneered the way for many cars and even though the playing fields have levelled out in many ways, the badge is still part of the cream of the crop.
A standard BMW which accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 3.8 seconds is something unheard of from the stable, until now. The new BMW M4 GTS is breaking new ground; it’s lighter, better and much faster. This special edition M car is not only the fastest BMW ever made, but it is also the most track based production car BMW has made. The brand makes no apologies that this car is strictly for the enthusiast. Let’s break it down to see what makes a BMW M4 GTS tick.
The car uses the same engine in the M4 coupe and M3 sedan, but this time, boost is increased resulting in an output of 368 kW and 600 Nm, a massive leap from the standard car. For the engine to handle all that power, BMW has not simply turned up the boost and left it at that. The car uses a water based air cooling system which sprays water into the intake manifold plenum chamber (area where air is about to enter the intake), the water then evaporates and significantly cools the air entering into the combustion chamber. In the world of engines, cold air is always better, and in the case of the BMW M4 GTS, this system allows the car to handle more boost from the turbochargers. This exact engine configuration system was first used in the MotoGP BMW M4.
Looking back from the days of the e30 M3 Sport Evolution, to the e36 M3 Lightweight, to the e46 M3 CSL and then the e92 M3 GTS, BMW have stuck to a particular formula when developing such cars. A strict diet and some force feeding is what is takes to create special edition M car; nothing has changed for the M4 GTS. The only difference being that now there are better technologies available to extract more power and save more weight.
The interior of the BMW M4 GTS has been stripped out, not in a bad way, though. The front seats are made from Carbon Fibre and weigh 50% less than the standard seats. The door handles on the inside have been replaced by pull-loops too. Orange striping, anthracite bits and Alcantara play a significant role in the design element of the cabin, which creates a race ready look inside the car.
The exterior changes add to the weight saving as well, with the bonnet, roof and front splitter being made out of Carbon Fibre reinforced plastic. The result is a car with a kerb weight of just over 1500 kg, which is very light considering all that goes into a car like this. The car still features creature comforts such as air conditioning, navigation and of course a radio. These things were usually removed or limited in previous versions of serious M cars such as these, but this time an M4 GTS client does not have to get heat stroke after many laps on the track.
Speaking of laps, the M4 GTS has been wonderfully designed for that purpose. A lap timer that records data and helps the driver see vital elements of his/her lap around the track is fitted. This can be shared via social media too. Besides software geared for track driving, the M4 GTS’ rear wing and Coilover suspension are adjustable to suit the driver’s preferences on the track. The M Drive menu is a beefed up version of the system you get in all new BMW’s that allows you to set the car up for Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. This M Drive menu is way more specialised, though, allowing the driving to change and set various details on the M1 or M2 button on the steering wheel. Some of these changes include, the steering (via the Servotronic System button), accelerator characteristics (via the M Motor dynamic Control system) and the damping of the car. All settings can be optimised for track and road use.
The BMW M4 GTS is a distinct M car regarding aesthetic appeal. The cars’ front splitter, rear wing, orange rims and special paintwork make you look and look again. Frozen Dark Grey, Sapphire Black and of course Alpine White are three of the colours you can choose from. The M4 GTS’ head lights are also one of a kind, using Organic LED technology that is also a first from BMW. A Clubsport Package adds a role cage to the car and six point harnesses on the seats. The car rides on 19-inch wheels in the front and 20-inch wheels in the rear, which are fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tyres.
The BMW M4 GTS is an incredible feat from BMW, once again they have produced a car that makes people who can’t afford it, hate those who can. The numbers are limited to 700 units, and the majority of those are going to the USA. Hopefully, we will see a few of the M4 GTS’ seeing their way to South Africa. If not, YouTube and overseas car shows will have to do. (shedding tears)
BMW has an interesting pedigree when it comes to motor racing. In the early 1970’s a car called the 3.0 CSL was created purely for that reason, that of touring car racing. This car featured a bold design, bright colours and light weight construction method suited for racing. The car was fitted first with a 3.0l engine and then a slightly larger 3.1l and finally a very special 3.5l in line six cylinder engine producing over 150 kW. Due to the cars distinct look, it earned the nickname “Batmobile” because of its aero package, a name easy to understand when looking at the large bumpers and spoilers fitted on the car.
The 3.0 CSL won championships such as the European Touring Car Championship and Le Mans, making it a legend of its time. As a result BMW have decided to pay homage to the car by creating a very unique modern day rendition of the car, appropriately named the 3.0 CSL Hommage. The car debuted in May 2015 and recently an “R” version of the concept has been revealed, featuring the legendary racing colours of BMW. Looking at both cars, one can see the design cues from the original car that have been modernised for a new era. The design is a love-hate one, with some loving the distinct looks and some finding the car a bit too retro for their liking. We think the 3.0 CSL’s Hommage’s design is striking and rather beautiful too, especially when kitted in the racing colours. The car is truly something special, with a futuristic interior that works with a helmet visor that populates data to the drivers visor. That alone is why we want BMW to make this car, hopefully we will get see this project come into production.
The engine ticking in the 3.0 CSL is also an inline-six engine paired with an eBoost hybrid system similar to that in BMW’s “I” products. This means that the car produces instant responsiveness and power. The car is obviously a concept but BMW’s seriousness to the project seems like we could see something similar to this in the future. If this were to happen, this would be amazing for BMW lovers and historic racing lovers around the world. Happy Modded Monday Motorists.
What’s different with the facelifted BMW 3 Series now available in South Africa?
A BMW 3 Series is arguably one of the most seen cars on the road in South Africa, especially in Johannesburg. The reason for this is simple, South Africans love BMW’s and the 3 Series is a very good car. The F30 3 Series is on its third year of production, so as always when the car reaches past half way of it’s life cycle, it needs to splash some water on it’s face. Only this time with the facelifted BMW 3 Series, they decided not only to reapply some make up on the car, it decided to take it to the gym too.
New lights and bumpers.
The car’s visible changes are apparent, the headlights in the front and rear have undergone surgery. The new headlamps make use of new LED technology in the rear and front, giving the car a very modern look. New bumpers add to the modern feel of the facelifted BMW 3 Series too. Unlike most updated versions of cars, the biggest change though, is under the bonnet.
New engines for all ranges.
Out with the old and in with the new. BMW has replaced the 316i, 328i and 335i, but the 320i badge remains. The 328i and 335i are a simple change in badges and power. The 328i is now badged 330i and produces 185 kW/350 Nm of power and the 335i is now called the 340i which makes a good amount of 240 kW/450 Nm. The 320i has also had its power figures updated to 134 kW and 290 Nm, more torque has been added to it. What interest us the most though is BMW’s use of a 1.5 litre 3 cylinder petrol engine in the 318i, a first for a BMW 3 Series. Many manufacturers have utilised the fuel savings of a three cylinder motor and BMW have also done so in their “I” products and now in their 3 Series range too. The engine although small, produces 100 kW/ 220 Nm of power which should be enough to get you around town and on long distance trip comfortably.
We welcome this fresh face facelifted BMW 3 Series and we’re sure South Africa will too. It’s scary that going back one generation of 3 Series, those cars now seem so outdated in terms of technology. One can only imagine what the next five years hold for BMW and every other brand actively embracing new technologies. Happy Tech Tuesday Motorists.
Technology Tuesday: Bmw’s 2016 7 Series Gesture Control feature.
In South Africa, the term “last number” basically means the end all and be all of something, the greatest of the lot, the crème de la crème. For BMW, their “last number” figuratively and literally is the 7-Series, the epitome of luxury in the BMW world. The 7- Series has been a long favourite in South Africa amongst those who can afford such cars, and even the president himself can be seen chauffeured in the current generation 7-Series. We feel that 2016 is going to be an interesting year for this segment of vehicles because the competition is definitely at it’s toughest.
The current offering from Mercedes Benz, has got to be one of the best looking luxury vehicle one can buy at the moment. There is no denying that the S-Class is gorgeous from all angles and drives beautifully too. The Audi A8 is no ugly duckling either, nor does the car drive in any way uncomfortably. There is no such thing as bad in this segment, only better. The question is, for the BMW 7-Series to be preferred choice how much more better will it have to be?
Time will only tell, all we know for now is that BMW have worked very hard to be ready. What we know is that from inside out, BMW have utilised new technologies to make the new 7-Series as light as a feather whilst retaining the presence of a weight lifter. How is this possible? Carbon fibre. The car uses carbon fibre in various areas of its skeleton, making it lighter than it’s predecessor. A lighter car is generally a more dynamic car, something that BMW’s are known for, so the philosophies haven’t changed with the development of the new 7-Series. Of course things like steering and damping are improved too, to make sure the car is as comfortable as possible.
Today though, we want to talk about something much simpler than damping and Carbon Fibre. We want to discuss a little feature on the new 7-Series called Gesture Control. This feature is available on some smart phones and it allows you to make certain commands without touching the screen. The same applies to the new 7-Series, by simply gesturing with your fingers, you can tell the I-Drive system to do something like turn up the music volume or pick a track. This is made possible through an infrared camera that picks up movement. A friend living in Germany has actually driven the new BMW 7- Series and has used this feature. From what he tells us, the feature works beautifully. It’s the little features like these that make nerdish boys like myself giggle because it’s not the essence of the car but it adds to the cool factor ten-fold.
Features like Gesture Control are going to make for impressive first dates, provided your father or boss allows you to drive his car. Imagine as you’re talking to your potential significant other, a call comes in. You simply swipe your hand in right almost to say “go-away” and the call rejects. Firstly you will look super cool and secondly you will be deemed responsible for not talking and driving, it’s a win win. Have a look at this video below to see how this feature works. Happy Tech Tuesday Motorists.
Why do many people find it strange to eat ice-cream in cold weather? I understand ice-cream is generally enjoyed in the hot summer whilst wearing T- shirts and shorts, with beautiful girls wearing colourful dresses and the sounds of Goldfish playing melodic tunes. Sounds like a perfect ice-cream commercial doesn’t it? The part of the commercial they don’t show you is the part where the ice-cream starts melting rapidly down your hand and onto your shirt, making you look like a silly three year old who insisted that he can feed himself. Winter curbs all these problems right away. Firstly, your ice-cream will not rapidly melt by the time it is opened and secondly, if you did manage to mess on your clothes, you could cover it up with a jersey or scarf. “It’s still too cold to eat ice-cream in winter” you may think. Well to be honest, at times this may be true but cold or not, ice-cream tastes great whatever the weather and besides we have heaters and socks don’t we? I have yet to see someone from Durban say, “I can’t eat this curry because it’s too hot”, all they do is crank up the air conditioner and get stuck into that spicy meal.
The same applies to convertible cars, if you’re from the Southern part of Africa, driving one in winter is definitely the better time. You must think I’m mad. “Summer is definitely the best time for a convertible car”, you may be thinking. The scene is in your head already, you’re with your mates , there’s laughter, music and fresh air above you. What about the sun stroke you’re going to get from the 35 degree African sun? Or the rain that will ruin your interior before you can slow down to 20kph to put your roof up? It’s all fun and games until you’re lobster red or Kiwi black begging for some aloe vera gel at your nearest Dischem. Which brings me to my point, with all that accounted for, convertibles make for the perfect Johannesburg or Durban winter cars. Cape Town winters are too temperamental so we won’t include it in this conversation.
I recently spent some time in a very impressive convertible. The sound of a straight six engine producing 317kw of turbocharged power and making funny popping noises as you accelerate or lift off is quite entertaining by itself. This entertainment is further amplified when you don’t have a roof over your head and the sun is at a moderate heat coupled with a cool winter breeze. That was part of my BMW M4 convertible experience, a very exiting one I must say. Having driven the coupe version of the car as well as the sedan M3, I found myself troubled in deciding which one I liked most. They all have different appeals and yet all of them manage to make you smile. I’ve summed it up like this. If you have a family but still long for the feeling of a single mans sports car, buy the M3. If you don’t have a family and you want to impress women by telling them your roof is made from carbon fibre, buy a coupe. If you’re like me and you don’t have a family but want the versatility, get the convertible.
Now to my enthusiast friends, before you moan, yes the car does not feel as dynamically responsive as the coupe or sedan, but you need ask yourselves a question before jumping on that bandwagon. Are you a race car driver who spends most of his time at the track? If your answer is yes, I envy you, but if your answer is no then you have no real reason to feel that the convertible is not as capable as the coupe from a dynamic point of view. I think it’s nice to have a hard roof in the summer such as the M4’s, when it’s up I can gladly eat my ice-cream even when it’s hot since I’ll have on the thing that blows cold air into the car. Then come winter time, I can have no roof and still enjoy the sun without the risk of getting skin cancer, the best of both worlds indeed. That’s what you get in the BMW M4 convertible. It feels just as fast, looks even nicer with the roof down and makes funny fart noises when you change gears, what more could you ask for?
If you’ve been a car lover from birth, there are definitely cars that you wanted to own from an early age. “Poster Cars” I like to call them. I’m sure you would sit in the bath with a toy version of your dream car wouldn’t you? Who needs a rubber ducky when you can play with your Countach? Most of us were that kid, vrooming around the house, making tyre screeching noises even when we were told not to. The sad reality about growing up is that very few of us get to own our dream cars, but some are more fortunate than others. Others are so fortunate, they can even merge their current dream car with the one they’ve always wanted. How you may ask? Let’s say for instance you dreamed about owning a BMW M3 E30 but you’re also in love with the BMW M5 V10. You then decided to take the body of the M3 and add the engine of the M5, therefore creating a light weight, tyre shredding, howling and potentially lethal car. Well that’s exactly what someone has done. The result? A marvellous 373Kw creation that has me wishing I had the budget to do the same. Since I don’t have the budget, all I can do is write about it and inform that there are others out there living our dreams. How does a car like this perform? Well why don’t you press play and see for yourself. Happy Modded Monday Motorists.
So to start off Tech Tuesday on the right note, we need a car that will revolutionise the industry with certain features that it will have. We think the winner this week is the new upcoming BMW 7 series. If you are in the business of selling arms or legs, this is the car for you. Already the current 7 series is not for the shallow pocketed so you can imagine what the next one will cost, especially with some of the features that the car will have.
Remote Control Parking: Yes you read right, the new BMW 7 series will have a feature that will allow you to park the car using a your key.
LCD Key: The new BMW 7 series will have an LCD screen on the key. A BMW insider tells me that it’s very I8 like and that things like fuel range will be available to see on the key.
Structure: The new 7 series is a big car, so you can imagine that you would feel the weight whilst driving it, apparently not. The upcoming BMW 7 series will have components made of Carbon fibre, this will make the car better dynamically and economically too.
We look forward to spending some time in this car when it arrives in South Africa, until then, start saving or start selling.