Tag: bmw south africa

Defining ludicrous in the BMW M4 Competition

The polarizing BMW G80 M3 and G82 M4 have been in the market for quite some time now. Originally stirring up the automotive world at their initial unveiling with what BMW considers a bold choice in design, their imposing aesthetics have become subordinate to an overwhelmingly positive reception for their ability on the road. We spent a few days with the impressively quick M4 Competition model so we could understand just how ludicrous the new range really is. 

Since the exterior of the car seems to have been covered in more depth this year than the entire Covid pandemic was reported on last year, I thought it would be a good idea to first dabble on the overall driving experience. I spent two fleeting days with the M4 before being whisked away to Cape Town.

The entire flight to the Mother City consisted of reliving experiences behind the wheel, either bringing the S58 motor alive or simply trundling along in an attempt to keep the fuel consumption at a reasonable number. In both scenarios, onlookers simply can’t get enough and encouragingly spur the pig-nosed beast along. It remains a staple of Mzansi car culture despite its looks.

The most ludicrous portion of the driving experience is how easily it can pick up speed, which means any innocent jaunts on the highway or open road can very quickly turn into a run-in with law enforcement.

It may not be the segments most confident off the line with a 3.9 second sprint time but the strong 3.0-litre, twin turbocharged straight six very easily and effortlessly pushes the speedometer over and beyond the designated speed limit on any stretch of road you happen to traverse.

Power and torque is rated similarly amongst its chief rivals, an identical 375kW to the Mercedes Benz C63s while the Bavarian is equipped with 650Nm of torque, 50 more than the RS5 but also 50 less than the V8 powered Mercedes. Despite all of the power from the traditionally sonorous motor, I can only help but feel that it should sound better for the performance it produces. 

Where the new M4 Competition feels vastly superior is with its free-revving motor which has lightweight motorsport inspired components installed. The turbochargers provide peak torque from as low as 2650rpm while maximum power arrives at 6250rpm, ultimately rendering the experience identical to that of a naturally aspirated motor. This encourages the use of the full rev range and makes driving predictable and surprisingly easy to do considering the power on tap underneath the right foot. 

Helping the S58 motor shift into warp speed and into the clutches of the periled speeding cameras is done with the help of an automatic 8-speed ZF gearbox. This choice is the only disappointment in this unrivalled driving experience so far.

Not only is it a step backwards from the violent, but engaging dual-clutch transmissions (DCT) from the generation before but also a far more numb and docile experience of what drivers expect. BMW have incorporated a drive logic selector button on the shifting knob which adjusts the level of aggression accordingly but even the harshest setting provides no match for the bygone DCTs.

The one advantage this provides however, is the ability to use this car comfortably on a daily basis. In fact, the time spent shifting in slow moving traffic or mindlessly accelerating and decelerating from robot to robot on urban commutes is where the smooth transmission selection shines brightest.

The same can be said for the suspension, the three available driving modes dial it into the desired setting but in its most plush, it is unfazed by mild road imperfections. 

The good character balance continues when more exciting settings are selected. More lively steering, throttle input and suspension presents a car that is impressively capable of handling the twisties as much as it is for straight stretches of tarred surface. The firm suspension mitigates body roll around corners while the lightweight and lively rear-end characteristically tend to swing around, requiring a touch of counter steer to keep things in check. Its many capable personalities make it a highly usable performance car that is inherently fun to drive, even on a day-to-day basis.

As enjoyable as its on road experience is, this wouldn’t be an article about the new M3 and M4 if there wasn’t an insert about the exterior aesthetics. While the worst of the memes and jokes are behind us, the ludicrous statement that BMW intended to make was achieved. It doesn’t look like anything else on the road and has potentially forged a future design direction that the Bavarian brand is yet to perfect. 

That being said, the black on Sapphire Black Metallic finish seemed to conceal many of the niggles with the design choices. The imposing, air inhaling front kidney grilles are more concealed while the over-emphasised masculine linework stretching from the grille onto the bonnet is slightly more subtle. BMW purists who embrace tradition would also despair to know that the iconic Hoffmeister kink which is prevalent on the side glass on the C pillar of all that have come before this M4 has been inverted and looks generic rather than traditional.

In the time since its launch, many have become unperturbed with the imposing grilles. While this will always remain a subjective topic, a car that costs as much as R2 million should have you falling in love from the very first time and every subsequent occasion thereafter. Speaking of the price tag and remaining with the ludicrous theme, an entry level M4 Competition will come in at R1 957 388. It’s hard to believe that the once affordable performance vehicle, which stemmed from the humble roots of the original M3 E30 is now a smidge under R2 million without options. 

Keep in mind that add ons can push the number as high as R2.5 million, which is more or less where our press unit was priced at. With the M Carbon Exterior Package valued at R100 800 and the M carbon bucket seats coming in at R82 500, it is easy to understand why. Just like the styling on the exterior, the interior has been turned up to 11 and is a continuation of the ludicrous design theme.

Wild colour combinations, sunk-in seats and carbon fiber dominate the cabin but it simply doesn’t feel as plush and luxurious as something that is R2.5 million should. This is a number that quickly encroaches on the likes of a well specced BMW M5 Competition which for that price feels like better value for money.

That being said though, the experience in the cabin is completely immersive, especially in those carbon bucket seats which are tightly slung to the floor. The firm seat bolsters keep the front occupants secure albeit with limited comfort while anyone with the misfortune of sitting in the second row of seats will develop scoliosis during any journey from bending their neck to fit into the low slung C pillar.

There are other questionable choices with the M4 Competition that make me feel like it is neither here nor there. Obsessive amounts of lightweight carbon fiber have been used throughout the construction of the car while counter intuitive add-ons defeat its intended function.

For example; the racing inspired carbon bucket seats which allude to pure, lightweight racing interiors make use of heavy electric motors for adjustment. The same can be said with the electric tailgate while carbon fiber features in the form of a spoiler and rear diffuser are perched above and below it. 

The nonsensical thinking does not end at the comfort orientated features while we are on the topic of the rear diffuser. The intricately shaped, bumper mounted carbon fiber rear diffuser doesn’t really serve a functional purpose since a peak beneath the rear end will expose all the mechanical components and a bare underside which is incapable of producing aerodynamic advantage.

As good as this car may be, you can only begin to feel that it could be much better if it wasn’t trying to appease buyers who wanted comfort as well as buyers who wanted an experience.

While this is a car that can be used daily, real world fuel economy may inhibit this. Particularly with the price of petrol surpassing the R20 mark. I mentioned earlier in the article that sedate driving can keep the efficiency of the motor at a reasonable number but that is all relative. A claimed combined driving cycle can yield 8.8l/100km but any momentary spurts of excitement will position the optimistic claimed number out of reach. Even though automotive journalists commute more enthusiastically than most, our experience yielded double the claimed economy. Besides, if you wanted to drive sedately you would have made a sensible decision and bought a compact SUV.

This is still in essence as much a performance car as all of its predecessors were but it has priced itself further out of the range of a younger person who would purchase it purely for the experience. With the development of the M4 Competition, BMW has gone all out and chased numbers which are only truly attainable on track from its competition. With the aesthetics aside, there really isn’t much wrong with the car until you start going through the pricing. I think better value for money can be had elsewhere with enough leftover to buy a fun-to-drive hot hatch. Speaking exclusively coupes, I would rather spend my money on an Audi RS5 which may not have the all out performance of the M4, but can still provide as much fun for the majority of the driving you will do in it. The leftover cash as a bonus can complete the two car garage with the engaging BMW 128ti as a daily driver.

The BMW M3 & M4 Competition

Say what you want about the looks, this is still a proper M car! Shaun Korsten reports from launch in the Western Cape

It’s been the butt of the joke and the subject of enormous social media ridicule ever since BMW unveiled the concept version of the new M4 in late 2019. Some went as far as saying this is the end of the BMW – a bit over the top, I know, but BMW loyalists are apparently a tough crowd to please.

Yes, the styling isn’t BMW’s finest work and their riposte to all of you calling for the designer’s head to be on the chopping block will be ‘you’ll get used to it’. And admittedly, I think I have…it’s purposeful and aggressive – it doesn’t look like anything on the road. I think that was their main objective and they got it spot on. But my opinion on something that I’m sure you all have your own isn’t the point of this review. So, let’s get into the meat of things.

Under the bonnet, there’s still a six-cylinder twin turbo sending power to the rear. The all-wheel drive (xDrive) model should make landfall by the end of the year. Outputs of 375kW and 650Nm are significantly higher than the F80 generation – 44kW and 100Nm to be exact. Our market is of course only getting the Competition version which means it is paired exclusively to eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. Which rules out the possibility of getting your hands on the manual version, but how many of you were actually going to buy the manual?

But let’s talk about the gearbox quickly: the previous F80 M3 used a M-DCT ‘box that was very responsive and rewarding when driving spiritedly but less so in traffic and day-to-day situations where it would be cumbersome and jerky. And while you do lose out on the rather enjoyable snap-like response when changing a gear, the new eight-speed ZF is an all-round improvement. It manages the hustle and bustle with more comfort than before, and the changes on upshifts and downshifts are still dramatically quick! The whole experience has been numbed slightly but I’m sure the majority of owners will appreciate this move.

The route we followed on launch took us through picturesque towns like Tulbagh and Ceres in the Western Cape and trotting along at the indicated speed limit was a pleasant and enjoyable experience. The adaptive M suspension and electronic controlled dampers did a great job of soaking up most imperfections, but the harsher bumps will be quite jarring in the cabin. On both the M3 and M4, standard fitment is 20-inch wheels at the rear and 19-inches upfront.

The interior is what you would expect from a BMW: inch-perfect build quality, top-tier materials with tasteful finishes and a smorgasbord of tech. In my opinion, BMW has been the segment leader for years in interior ergonomics and quality. Although, the crown of tech king must be given to Mercedes-Benz as I am still disappointed at the lack of configurability on the digital drivers display. Nitpicking aside, the cabin truly is a wonderful and luxurious place to be in – but now with a splattering of carbon fibre all over the place.

Our final destination was a private racetrack in the Cape Winelands where we were able to get a short, 3-lap stint around the circuit in both models. If you’re wondering, I didn’t notice any discernible difference between the M3 and M4. The the first I noticed was how composed it felt around the corners – there was just bucket loads of traction and grip. Although the G80 is carrying an additional 150kg in weight over its predecessor, the strengthening to the chassis meant the body always felt composed and it coped with strain and pressure extremely well. You can get an M Race Track Package that sheds 25kg.

The steering is now electronically controlled and unfortunately it is another numbing aspect to the new M3 and M4 . But in saying that, it is lazar sharp and extremely accurate and gives you a sense of confidence in your ability to correctly position and react to the car.

On the straights, you will reach a 100km/h in just 3.9 seconds – although I suspect that it is slightly quicker than that. BMW have also integrated a new braking system with two settings for pedal feel and response.

All in all, the new BMW M3 and M4 Competition are truly fantastic drivers’ cars that push the yardstick even further – they remain the brand to beat in this segment. With Mercedes-AMG opting for a 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain for the next generation C63, I’m sure we can all look past the Halloween mask and appreciate these types of cars before they are all gone.

Is The Petite BMW 218i Gran Coupe Worth Its Salt?

The original BMW 2 Series Coupe made its global debut in 2014 with its trendy styling and desirable coupe proportions. In 2019, BMW changed the recipe and seemed to start from scratch launching the front-wheel-drive (FWD) F44 generation 5 door as its replacement. Alex Shahini spent time with the 218i Gran Coupe specced in the M Sport package to determine if this has been a success for the Bavarian brand.

While the current 2 Series generation is approaching 2 years of production it is by no means a new car but seeing one on the road can give it that impression. Not only is its imposing styling more aligned with the existing brand identity of current BMW models, but their uncommon presence on the road can provide naive passers by with an illusion that it is a brand new release. This was the Bavarian-based manufacturers attempt at creating a more affordable and attainable model to the heavier and larger 3 Series sedan. It was developed with the intention of retaining loyal customers by providing an expedient, downsized BMW alternative to the likes of the Mercedes-Benz CLA and Audi A3 Sedan.

So, the recipe has changed but how has this influenced the driving experience? The first elephant in the room that I need to address is that this is the new era of FWD BMW’s. While the topheavy looking mommy wagon-esque 2 Series Active Tourer was the first of its kind to do away with rear powered wheels in 2014, our 218i Gran Coupe proved to be an engaging car to drive in more enthusiastic scenarios, albeit with a healthy amount of torque steer. A welcomed surprise because most consumers set on purchasing the 218i may be less focused on its driving appeal and more fixated on its amenities and comfort. 

While the downsized turbocharged 3-cylinder motor with a total displacement of 1.5-litres sounds underwhelming, its 103kW and 220Nm means that it is nippy in most environments it finds itself in – especially considering it has a dry weight of only 1345kg. While this is by no means a fast car, only reaching 100km/h from standstill in 8.7 seconds, it does trundling around extremely comfortably with smooth power delivery compliments of a seamless automatic gearbox in comfort mode. The smaller displacement begins to take some strain with additional passengers and luggage but nothing the additional mass can’t handle. 

While most of it is good there are a few operational issues including a jerky stop-start function, lack of low end torque while accelerating and unintuitive gear shifts in sports mode which makes spirited drivers like myself yearn for paddle shifts. Due to its light stature, windy days on highways can also make the car feel unstable with its light steering input and soft suspension.  

The 218i Gran Coupe can be aesthetically considered as an amalgamation of several different BMW models. The wheelbase, track, interior and front end of the car are identical to that of the new F40 generation 1 series on which its platform is based while its proportions are indicative of a shrunk version of an 8 Series Gran Coupe with much smaller wheels. At quick glance, you may even confuse the silhouette of the two. While the looks can be subjectively polarizing, I find that there is a strong disproportionate element towards the rear ¾ panel of the car that simply doesn’t look correct. Almost as though the 1 Series hatchback has had an improvised tailgate stuck onto the rear as a complete afterthought and without refined integration. Regardless of this, this 218i Gran Coupe comes with a highly useful 430-litre boot with a false floor and easily foldable rear seats. 

The cockpit, while indistinguishable from the 1 series, feels largely more cocooned with its faster raking A-pillar, frameless doors and lower roofline. While this has been done to achieve the recognizable silhouette of a Gran Coupe it comes at the price of rear head room, even with shorter passengers. Its overall interior is an appealing and elegant but busy place to be, with many intersecting joints and a multitude of different textures and touch points. After spending time with the BMW 128ti earlier this year, we were highly impressed with the forward strides BMW have taken in their interior aesthetic and the 218i is no different. The interior dials are all sensibly laid out and all have a familiar tactility to them however the central radio console below the air conditioning is completely redundant with the intuitive haptic rotary infotainment controlling device needing to be used. 

It’s interesting to note how it stacks up against competitors, particularly in terms of price. The cheapest Audi A3 Sedan currently on sale is the 30 TFSI which retails for R520 569. But you must remember that the all-new A3 unveiled internationally in 2020 is yet to reach our shores. Over in the corner of Stuttgart, the Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 has a price tag of R661 000. The BMW 218i Gran Couple slots neatly in between the two at R581 900. 

Even with our generously-specced press unit which had a sticker price nearing R650 000, it still undercuts the entry-level Mercedes-Benz. So in that aspect, it is certainly worth its salt and should be a tempting buy for consumers shopping in this segment. But in my opinion, the smart money is a demo model 3 Series for similar outlay and equal spec. Just don’t tell BMW I told you that!

Part 1: Which Luxury BMW do you choose? BMW 750Li vs 760Li

BMW 750Li Review

BMW 750Li Vs BMW 760Li: Part One

BMW 750Li Review

As much as I’m a Sci-fi fan, I’m scared as to what the future hold for us. I mean really, cars that drive themselves – something straight out of iRobot the movie. See, I’m one person that REALLY enjoys driving. To the shops, down to Cape Town, driving for me offers a great deal, one that cannot be replaced by a mere machine. Enter the most recent of BMWSA’s test cars to grace TheMotorist’s driveway – the BMW 750Li .

From the onset, this car makes no apologies for what it is. It’s a car that you are meant to be driven in, not a car that you drive yourself. From its extra length, growing from 5 098 mm to 5 238 mm, that’s like a rugby field when it comes to vehicle dimensions. What it means in real life is that you have more room for everything, it’s like being in your lounger, at home! Head, shoulders knees and toes to little foot stools, the Germans from Bavaria have thought of everything in this car. What I did enjoy, which fortunately isn’t unique to the Li version, is the rear active bench, with the massage function. Hmm, this robotic future suddenly doesn’t seem bad at all…

BMW 750Li Review

To do a real-life test, Francisco and myself decided to flip for it and as usual, the clan of the firstborns won and I had a chauffeur for the day. We started from my home, where the left rear seat was going to be my home for the day. I immediately set the front passenger’s seat forward, turned the massage function to full body as you can have various massage options and “Jeeves” headed towards Sandton Traffic. The test vehicle we had was adorned with the optional M Sport exhaust and that unmistakable V8 hum made for a decent sound track in the ” I can sip MOËT champagne from here drive like a gentlemen” rear seat. Power is from the familiar 4,4-litre V8, with the twin turbos shoehorned in the V8 to form that hot V. Numbers seem to be from a modern sports car at 330 kW and 600 N.m which means that 0 – 100 km/h is dispatched with in 4.7 seconds but to be honest, that doesn’t really mean much from the rear. Speaking about the rear…

From the spoilt brat chair, BMW designed the car to be as the front, so you are not limited in terms of functions that you have at the rear. What takes your breath away is the small tablet with the optional professional rear entertainment. From here, you can adjust the seats, temperature, set navigation bearings, preset the vehicles air conditioning and even choose which lighting profile you’d like, all from OUTSIDE the vehicle as this is mobile. To put this to the test, “Jeeves” and I stopped at the main shopping center and went about our business. 15 minutes before returning to the vehicle, we had all variables set and upon arriving at the vehicle, that was parked in the sun mind you, the BMW 750Li was as pleasant as an international airport lounge. The one bug bear that I can think of is that the rear screens are not touch sensitive as intuitively, you end up touching the screen thinking it will react like the one that in the next postal code, in front. I’m sure this will be sorted out when it comes to the facelift in a couple of years’ time. 

BMW 750Li Review

In terms of specification level, BMW made sure that we had a hard time giving this car back, as with all the spec, never mind price, you end up wanting to pull another OR Tambo heist so that you don’t have to give the vehicle back. Amongst the other items, the Bang and Olufsen sound system would be an item not to forget in this car as from classical to trap music from Atlanta USA, the sound came out as crisp or as bass-y as you wanted. I decided to sample what the car would be like to drive from the front having driven the swb vehicle before – it didn’t feel that much different. Driving the car does make you take on a different personality though as you go from Champagne sipper to Race car driver as that aforementioned V8 arrogantly looks at you and says,” are you going to let that small rental take that gap?” The technology does help park the extra-long 7er from its 360 cameras to letting the car do 90% of the work, the car could be and everyday car, should you have R2,4 million burning around that investment account.

BMW 750Li Review

So, what is the verdict, would I relinquish the honour of driving this beast every day and leave my life in someone else’s hands? The answer is no. I’m too young and selfish for that. If you are 55 and head a corporation then yes, get a “Jeeves” and the BMW 750Li but if this is what the future has in store and with a robot driving me, then we are in for a treat! For now, give me a normal wheelbase BMW 750i and DO NOT forget that sound system!

 

Is the BMW 440i Coupe a poor man’s M4?

BMW 440i Coupe South Africa

Poor mans M4? Our thoughts on the new BMW 440i Coupe

I read somewhere that the BMW 440i Coupe was referred to as the poor man’s M4. This unfortunately highlights the gap in knowledge that this person has regarding the differences between these two variants from BMW.

Look at this example, you have two sons from the same parents who are quite close in age. As they get older, one is built like a rugby player and loves sports, while the other one is leaner takes up piano lessons. The one brother has a taste for Sade, Norah Jones and UB40, while the other is a David Guetta and fan and attends a festival known as “Ultra”. As much as they come from the same family, have the same DNA and a similar disposition, they differ immensely in terms of personality, interests and even appearance.

BMW 440i Coupe South Africa

That is exactly what happened in Bavaria between these two six-cylinder siblings. The 440i is the all round nice guy, who is a gentleman and still opens the door for his lady.  The M4 on other hand is the rebel. This is the one that will string along a couple of girls and be out until 05:00 but still make it for gym at 06:30. Thereafter, this will be followed by his business presentation in front of the board at 09:00.

That’s who these two cars are aimed at, different people who have wildly different tastes. Having sampled the previous 435i (for two years actually) most things seem quite the same. It was when I got into the BMW 440i Coupe, hit that Start button and fired the new in-line six, that I felt something had changed. A deeper, more throatier noise came from the dual exhausts and it immediately gets the blood flowing smoothly. From take off, as well as driving in traffic, the change is quite apparent, all thanks to the new engine. The new 440i sports what the Bavarian’s call the B58 in-line 6 cylinder. Yes this is similar to the previous engine but features lighter materials and increased power, an extra 15 kW and 50 N.m to be exact. The result is a “smooth as butter” 240kW and 450Nm power-plant. This doesn’t sound like much of an improvement but trust me, it is.

BMW 440i Coupe South Africa

From just beyond tick over the torque makes itself known and you can ride the wave and drive the vehicle briskly, without having the tachometer even brush the naughty side of 4 500 rpm. This is unlike the M4, which tends to spike in torque, causing fun yet unexpected oversteer. The 440i is sharp when you need it to be and in my opinion pips the M4 on everyday drivability. It is able to put its power down more comfortably and with more confidence than its more muscular brother.

Styling revisions have been made in line with the engine change as well. This can be seen in tweaked front and rear bumpers, more pronounced front and rear LED lights and an array of new colours from BMW’s new colour palette. Inside, the revisions continue with the new iDrive system, similar to the one found in the G30 5 Series. Further to this, the dash has the option of the new Multi-function display which seems to raise cabin standards to spaceship chic. A must if you ask me.

BMW 440i Coupe South Africa

The drive as mentioned is just superb. Power is delivered through the familiar BMW channels. An Eight speed Sport Auto from ZF which links to the rear axle, leaving the front end with the simple job of steering. This setup seems like it’s going to be a rare thing in the future, with sports cars and sports sedans giving you more power than sense. Communication from the front axle is good, but I would have liked a more communicative steering. Understandably, the setup is orientated more to comfort as the majority of drivers won’t care for the feeling us journalists want. In fairness, the BMW does a good job of letting you know how much grip the front end has in brisk driving scenarios. BMW’s have always been tail-happy and the 440i is no exception. Turn in into some of your favourite corners and you can feel the rear come alive and the traction control light flicker. The driving modes, Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus change the characteristics of the car, specifically Sport Plus mode. In this mode, the threshold for the DSC has been moved slightly so you can explore the limits of mechanical grip without hurting yourself. 

BMW 440i Coupe South Africa

Overall, the BMW 440i coupe is a package that is very hard to beat. It’s quick with 0-100km/h done in just  5,2 seconds. It’s balanced and will give you all you need for everyday use in a package that is easy to work with. The car allows you to build your confidence and enjoy it, even if you’re a novice. That is where you start seeing the difference again in personality. The 440i is the car you want to drive to nine tenths everyday, something that you cannot do in the M4 which requires a skill set that the average driver does not possess. If you used the same driving principles from the 440i in the M4, it would end in a spectacularly bad fashion, one that would get a couple hundred thousand views on Youtube. Is it then the poor man’s M4? Not at all! It’s the sensible man’s everyday sports coupe.

 

Released: BMW M550d & M550i X Drive – The Models Which South Africa Won’t Get.

BMW M550i South Africa

South African Car News: BMW M550d & M550i Xdrive

BMW M550i X Drive South Africa
It’s True. BMW have just released both the M550d and M550i – very exciting indeed, or not… As of yet, we have no news on exactly if or when these stinkingly powerful 5 Series variants will be heading to our beautiful country.

BMW M550d

First to be released by BMW was the M550d xDrive, which if you didn’t know has the most powerful 6-cylinder diesel engine ever in the automotive industry. It’s 3-litre displacement is aided by four turbochargers. This is a fairly complicated setup with two low pressure turbochargers helping with low down response and two higher pressure units for power. It is worth noting that both low pressure turbos and one high pressure unit will always be running, with the second high pressure charger kicking in above 2 500 rpm. This makes sure that the M550d xDrive will hit 100 km/h in around 4.5 seconds. Mighty fast for a diesel, but with 294 kW and 760 N.m on tap, what else could one expect?

BMW M550i X Drive South Africa

Handling all this power will be BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system which does not spoil all the fun as BMW say that the front axle only comes into play when needed, meaning this puppy may still be able to get a little sideways. That’s if you can break traction on the 275/35 R19 rear wheel tyres needed to control all that juice.

BMW M550D South Africa

The BMW M550d xDrive will also have some unique visual elements, such as the Exterior mirror housings, radiator grille frame, bumper design elements and side air breathers all in Cerium Grey. A purchaser of this vehicle can expect M Sport Suspension, integral active steering, M aerodynamics package, M Performance exhaust system and M sport brakes finished in blue as standard.

If this isn’t exciting enough, there is also the option of the now ranging topping 5 Series variant -the M550i xDrive.

M550i xDrive

You won’t find 6-cylinders here but instead a 4.4 litre turbocharged V8 Motor producing a blustering 340 kW and 650 N.m. In conjunction with the 8 speed sports auto transmission and rear bias xDrive, the M550i will hit 100 km/h in just 4 seconds. My question is, then, how fast is new BMW M5 going to be?!

BMW M550i South Africa

This model features the same design and styling characteristics as the M550d with the M aero package and Cerium Grey details.

BMW M550i X Drive Interior South Africa

Both models will be available with the connected drive features and technologies available in other 5 Series variants such as the remote parking feature. You can read more on the current 5 Series range from our launch article here.

BMW M550D South Africa

Will these models be coming to South Africa?

Sadly, probably not. This could be for many reasons and in terms of the M550i that reason would be pricing. The M550d on the other hand might not even make it to the UK and will just be a european model. If it’s not going to the UK, it’s definitely not coming to South Africa and they will probably keep it as a left hand drive model only. These models are available from June, so there still may be some time for them to change their mind, but we doubt that’ll happen.

BMW M550i X Drive South Africa
We should however be receiving the new BMW M5 which purportedly also features a rear biased xDrive system – no news on that either, though.

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Forever young: 40 years of the BMW 3-Series.

Driving the face-lifted BMW 3-Series.

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.