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Review: 2014 BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wagon

Wednesday June 11th, 2014 at 8:66 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2014 BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wagon

By David Colman

Hypes: Impeccable Build Quality, Exceptional Utility
Gripes: Sluggish Throttle Response, Wide Spacing of Lower Gears

The 328d diesel powered wagon is something of a conundrum. It enjoys the trappings of a sport focused offering, yet doesn’t ultimately live up to the flamboyant promise of its appearance. With a base price of $42,950, it carries a reasonable premium of just $1,500 over that of the $41,450 petrol powered all-wheel-drive wagon. A quick gander at our diesel’s specification sheet would lead you to think that this wagon has everything it needs for quick travel, M Style. Start with the attention grabbing azure paint. Of the 13 wagon colors available this year, our test vehicle’s Estoril Blue Metallic finish ($550 extra) is the only one of the baker’s dozen limited solely to use on M Sport equipped wagons.

2014 BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wagon

A $3,580 M Sport group adds 18 inch model specific wheels, sport seats, aluminum hexagon interior trim, anthracite headliner, M steering wheel, aerodynamic exterior refinements and shadowline trim. The SensaTec seat material feels enough like leather to make you forego the $1,450 up-charge for Dakota Leather. Another $1,000 brings adaptive M suspension and variable sport steering. For a comparatively modest outlay of $49,275, this is the sportiest diesel wagon you can buy from BMW.

The wagon’s handling is faultless. The all-wheel-drive (xDrive) system allows the all weather Pirelli P7 tires (225/45R18) to secure such a tenacious pavement purchase that you hardly ever need resort to BMW’s standard Dynamic Stability Control or Dynamic Traction Control. The balance and poise of this 3 Series platform encourages you to explore its handling attributes by switching the M Sport’s Driving Dynamics Control into the “Sport+” setting. Sport+ eliminates Dynamic Stability Control from the handling equation, thus allowing you to experiment with adhesion limits. You never entirely forget that with its weight distribution split of 48.7% f/51.3% r, this all-wheel-drive wagon has slightly more tail to wag than any other 3 Series offering.

2014 BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wagon

But xDrive’s full time all-wheel-drive traction helps overcome that rear weight bias. This BMW accelerates through switchbacks effortlessly. Never so much as a chirp of protest is heard from the scrabbling Pirellis. Instead of losing speed through chicanes, the wagon maintains its footing and composure better than you do. With its comparatively low center of gravity, the 328d upholds the concept of sports driving better than any jacked up BMW Sports Activity Vehicle. And best of all, you pay only a 10 pound weight penalty for selecting xDrive over rear-drive (3,790 pounds vs. 3,780 pounds).

The performance conundrum’s negative facet reveals itself when you toe into the diesel, expecting acceleration to match the explicit handling. Most of the time, you don’t get it. One of the most disconcerting drawbacks of the diesel is its reluctance to respond to your toe the instant you floor the throttle from a standing start. Although BMW’s lists a 0-60mph time of 7.6 seconds for the 328d xDrive, you’d be well advised to avoid maneuvers that require instant engine response. On the other hand, one of the main attractions of diesel motivation is stellar fuel consumption. In this regard, the 328d posts gratifying EPA numbers: 31 MPG, city, 43 MPG versus highway. The combined city/highway figure is 35 MPG, and cruising range is 645 miles with a 15 gallon tank.

2014 BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wagon

Another enticement is the aft cargo area, which offers multiple storage options. This wagon will allow you to slip a fully assembled bicycle into the cargo hold. All you have to do is drop both rear seats flat, remove the net partition and cargo cover struts, and you have unimpeded access to 53 cubic feet of storage space. The standard power operated hatchback door eases loading chores, as does the tailgate’s separate flip open rear window.

Normally overlooked back seat passengers will rejoice in the comfort of conveyance here. The rear seats are well contoured for long journeys. A drop down central armrest serves as a double drink caddy, while both front seat backs contain storage pockets with netting. Floor mounted rear ventilation ducts allow for individual climate tailoring, separate reading lights illuminate each outboard position, center seat belt receptacles store out of the way when unneeded, and rear windows retract fully into the doors.

2014 BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wagon

The diesel sports wagon provides a fully inhabitable environment for four, with more than enough luggage storage (13 cubic feet with rear seats up) for a comfortable overnight trip. For families, this car is an ideal transit solution. For speed merchants, it has its own galaxy of challenges to offer and conquer. There’s very little you can throw at it – or in it – that the 2014 328d xDrive can’t handle. And done up in Estoril Blue, this slinky beauty is sublimely easy on the eyes.

2014 BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wagon

  • Engine: 2.0 Liter inline 4 Diesel, turbocharged
  • Horsepower: 180hp
  • Torque: 280lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 31 MPG City/43 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $49,275
  • Star Rating: 8 out of 10 Stars

Posted in BMW, Expert Reviews, Feature Articles |Tags:, , , , || 1 Comment »

Review: 2014 BMW 428i Coupe

Monday June 9th, 2014 at 1:66 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2014 BMW 428i Coupe

By David Colman

Hypes: Extra Sensory Handling, Primo Front Seats, To Die For Looks
Gripes: Needs Rear Wiper, Chintzy Manual Steering Wheel Adjuster

Q: When is a 3 a 4? A: When a 1 becomes a 2.

Inside BMW’s perplexing name lab, Bavarian linguists have labored mightily to concoct a brave new numbering system sure to confuse and baffle its customer base. This year, the former 1 Series morphs into the new 2 Series, while the coupe and convertible offerings of the former 3 Series have now become 4 Series products. All this from a company once forthright enough to label its 1600cc sedan as a “BMW 1600.”

Call the new 4 Series what you will, there’s no mistaking its sporting excellence. Not surprisingly, the new 4 covers the dimensions of the existing 3 like a blanket. Overall length remains at 183 inches, as does wheelbase at 111 inches. Thanks to the coupe’s svelte roofline, height drops from 56 to 54 inches, while flared fenders cause the width to increase from 71 to 72 inches. Weight drops by 15 pounds, from 3,485 pounds to 3,470 pounds.

2014 BMW 428i Coupe

Take advantage of the coupe’s wider stance by maximizing rim size. You can do so by opting for the $3,500 “M Sport” package, which confers, among other benefits, a set of double-five spoke, 18 inch diameter M Sport performance alloys that stretch rim width to 8 inches front and 9 inches rear. These rims amply support premium Bridgestone S001 RFT (Run Flat) rubber measuring 225/45R18 front and 255/40R18 rear. Another dividend of the M Sport group is Adaptive M Suspension, a center console controlled system that allows you to select the shock setup you desire by sliding the “Driving Experience Switch” through 4 detents (Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport+). These options cover the range from green peace to racetrack, and the differences are immediately obvious in terms of steering feedback and bump damping.

Visually, the M Package will also win you over with revamped body panels that channel wind over the coupe’s exterior surfaces most efficiently. To that end a revised front fascia eliminates the standard lower fog lamps in favor of increased radiator cooling grills. Normally convex rocker panels acquire intricate concave flutes that help shed boundary layer air currents. If these external clues are so subtle as to provide insufficient gratification, you can always derive satisfaction from plentiful M notations festooning your key fob, dead pedal, threshold plates, and lower steering wheel spoke.

2014 BMW 428i Coupe

The most beneficial contribution of the M Sport group is a pair of stellar front sport seats that will grab your torso faster than Velcro. These supremely enveloping twin buckets offer more lateral support than anything short of a full race DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft)throne. The most telling point of support is their vise grip on your mid-back area. The retention of this vice can be altered by easing off the “Backrest Width” control located alongside the outboard lower cushion. You’ll also discover controls for lumbar support, height, backrest tilt, seat tilt, plus a manual slide for thigh support. The front seats leave absolutely nothing on the table in terms of adjustability, conformity or comfort. We spent 9 hours in the cockpit of this coupe during a prolonged foray from the Bay Area to the Sierra foothills without registering a single complaint about cockpit fit.

2014 BMW 428i Coupe

On that same trip we also managed to record 33.5 MPG on a prolonged freeway stint while averaging 75mph. The EPA suggests that the 4 cylinder turbocharged 428i will return 35MPG on such highway drives, and this figure is undoubtedly attainable by reducing speed to 65mph. Overall gas consumption is EPA rated at 26MPG, with 22MPG on tap in city conditions. The intercooled 4 cylinder engine utilizes a pair of small diameter turbochargers to boost performance while maintaining parsimonious fuel burn. You will never find yourself at a loss for forward bite with this coupe. Flooring the throttle launches the 428i on an impressive trajectory that achieves 60mph from a standing start in 5.3 seconds, the quarter mile in 14.1 seconds at 99mph, and a top speed of 158mph. That top speed is attainable in M Sport equipped coupes where normal top speed limitations are eliminated.

In a world where the meanest, least expensive Korean import coddles you with standard niceties like heated seats and navigation, it comes as a bit of a rude shock not to find BMW follow suit. For example, the steering wheel, albeit M-grip thick, must be manually dropped, elevated and telescoped. If you desire heated seats, they can be yours, providing you ante up an extra $635 for the Cold Weather Package. Likewise, BMW will gladly provide a navigation system as long as you check off the $2,885 Technology Package on your order form. All these enhancements we’ve come to expect as standard items on much less expensive cars will cost you dearly at BMW. But no amount of free inclusions can ever compensate you for an inferior driving experience. If you’re after the consummate stint behind the wheel, there is nothing like this BMW.

2014 BMW 428i Coupe

2014 BMW 428i Coupe

  • Engine: 2.0 Liter inline DOHC 16 Valve 4, Turbocharged and Intercooled
  • Horsepower: 240hp @ 6000rpm
  • Torque: 255lb.-ft. @ 1250rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 22MPG City/35MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $48,075
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

Posted in BMW, Expert Reviews, Feature Articles |Tags:, , , || 4 Comments »

Review: 2013 BMW Z4 sDrive35is

Sunday October 6th, 2013 at 8:1010 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: “is” is German For Mega-Mover, Trick Folding Hardtop
Gripes: Tiny Rear Windows Don’t Auto-Erect When Top Is Raised

Bob Lutz, the storied car executive who helped remake Chrysler and GM, originally worked at BMW. Back in 1970, BMW wanted to change the way they named vehicles. Instead of the incredibly complicated system proposed by his boss, Lutz and his staff came up with the simplified “3 Series/5 Series/7 Series” nomenclature that survives to this day. Unfortunately, that clarity seems to have deserted BMW in the case of this fine sports roadster.

What we have here is the 4th iteration of BMW’s 2 seat sports car, hence Z4. So far, so good, but the appended “sDrive35is” muddies that clarity. Rear-wheel-drive BMW’s fitted with sporting accoutrements like special seats and aerokit styling qualify for “sDrive” status. Although you might assume that the “35is” designation describes a 3.5 liter motor, what you in fact get here is a 3.0 liter inline 6, with sport calibrated fuel injection (hence,“is” for injected sport). But the “is” tag doesn’t tell you that this Bimmer is also twin turbocharged. Time to bring back Bob Lutz.

Nameplate mysteries aside, this is one great sports car, built in Regensburg, Germany with traditional Bavarian craftsmanship. The cockpit is tight but accommodating. Flip-out door pockets and a narrow fenced shelf behind the seats ease oddment storage. In order to retain drink bottles between the seats, you need to flip up the lid of the shallow central storage bin, which is a bit inconvenient. The power sports seats, upholstered in glove soft, fancifully named “Canberra Beige Kansas Leather,” will treat you with the adulation you expect from your Barcalounger. Although the chunky “M” emblazoned steering wheel is equipped with sizeable paddle shifts, it lacks the nice perforated leather hand grips that distinguish “M” wheels in the X1 and X3. Still, there’s no mistaking the stripped purposefulness of this Z4’s décor. Simulated silver carbon surfaces on the dash face and door panels relieve the tedium of the matte black plastic dash top.

The interior’s sporting promise is signed, sealed and delivered by the Z4’s exceptional performance envelope. The keystone element is the seamless torque curve of the twin turbo 6, which maximizes intelligent intake and exhaust valve behavior through steplessly variable timing called “Double-VANOS.” Remember that “is” designator? In “is” trim, output of BMW’s 3.0 liter turbo 6 jumps from 300hp to 335hp, while torque peaks at 332 lb.-ft. (versus 300 lb.-ft. for the base 6). Coupled to a standard 7-speed double-clutch transmission, the traditional BMW straight 6 is never lacking for an appropriate gear ratio. You can leave the transmission in “D” range and forget about swapping cogs while the gearbox does all your work for you. On a 40 mile jaunt from Mill Valley to Point Reyes Station, I did just that, and found tackling the challenging road to be much more relaxing than if I had manually selected gears for each curve. Premium grade Bridgestone RE 050A tires (225/35R19 front, 255/30R19 rear) mounted on optional twin spoke alloys (a bargain at $1,200) made negotiating the twisties even more pleasurable. Of course, if you do choose to play racer, then the paddle shifters will make your trip even more swift and precise.

You can drop or erect the folding hardtop roof of the Z4 at speeds up to 35mph. This bit of latitude makes feasible open air motoring at the drop of a hat. And wind protection inside the seat-heated cabin is so good you won’t even need that hat. For complete mummification, BMW even provides a trunk-stored windblocker to snap into place behind your head. The trunk itself is reasonably large when the hardtop is up, but shrinks to a tiny slot-accessed bin when you drop the roof. If you pack according to the constraints of this tiny bin, you’ll never be caught out by storage woes on an overnight trip.

The Z4 iDrive35is is an attractive package. Visually, it’s flame-surfaced looks are appealingly different from anything else on the road. Its engine, gearbox, and suspension uphold the premise of those good looks. If you can stay away from the extensive, expensive option list, the Z4’s base price of $64,200 is more than reasonable for such a Bavarian built bomber.

2013 BMW Z4 sDrive35is

  • Engine: 3.0 Liter Inline 6, twin turbocharged Double-VANOShp
  • Horsepower: 335 hp
  • Torque: 332 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 17 MPG City/24 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $69,745
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i

Wednesday July 24th, 2013 at 8:77 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Sportiest BMW SUV, Stop/Start Override Switch Relocated
Gripes: Tilted-Down Wheel Obscures Turn Signal Lights

BMW’s most petite SUV, the X1, is available in 3 varieties: 28i front wheel drive (base price $30,650), 28i all wheel drive ($32,350) and 35i AWD ($38,450). The major difference between the 28i and 35i models lies under the hood. The 28i uses the same four cylinder engine found in the base model 3-Series sedan, a 2.0 liter, direct injected, inline 4 that depends on twin turbos to make 240hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. The more expensive 35i houses a turbocharged straight 6 which ups horsepower to 300hp and torque to 300 lb.-ft. You get a standard 8-speed steptronic automatic transmission in the 28i, and a 6-speed automatic in the 35i.

We spent a week driving the AWD or “xDrive” 28i. Even though this variant checked in with a base price of $32,350, a slew of expensive options easily floated the final sales price to $45,245, well past the base price of the top line 35i. The “M Sport Line” group, for example, adds $3,000 to the sticker, but provides such niceties as a fat rimmed “M” steering wheel equipped with paddle shifts, sports suspension, raised top speed limiter, and 18 inch “M-style” alloy rims with Pirelli P7 run flat tires (225/45R18 front, 255/40R18 rear). BMW even throws in a few cosmetic touches like shadowline exterior trim, M branded entry sill plates and a substantial M-emblazoned aluminum dead pedal.

The aggressive Pirelli tires muster enough lateral gForce to give the uprated, M-calibrated springs, dampers and sway bars a real workout. During quick back road jaunts, you’ll enjoy the light and agile nature of this SUV. While ride remains firm and somewhat choppy due to the X1’s stiff M suspension and short 108.7 inch wheelbase, the tradeoff in comfort is well worth the payoff in handling. The M Sport equipped X1 does a great job of emulating a 1 or 3 Series BMW sports sedan, and because it is shorter, narrower and lighter (3,527 lbs.) than the X3 (4,112 lbs.), the X1 wins the BMW SUV sport contest hands down.

Because performance of the small displacement turbo 4 is very dependent on rpm range for thrust, you’ll need to keep a sharp eye on gear choice. If given its druthers, the X1’s steptronic gearbox will always defer to top (8th) gear when you select “D,” which means you’ll be trundling along at 1,000rpm with almost no immediate forward thrust available unless you floor the gas or downshift manually. To obviate this problem, just slide the floor stick into the manual shift gate, pop a series of downchanges with the paddles, and keep the little four banger on full boil at 3,000rpm or so. If you do decide to take the slacker’s route to easy driving, you can let the steptronic select top gear and expect to average 26 MPG in mixed driving cycles.

Despite the fact that this is an entry level BMW, there is no evidence of penuriousness in the interior. Lovely, faintly cross-hatched matte aluminum trim graces the dash, door panels and center console, while pebbled and grippy “Nevada” leather covers the ultra comfortable M front seats. The only instance where you might feel short changed is the inaccessible rearward positioning of the center console bin, and the fact that its interior is mostly occupied by a phone platform. The rear seats slouch just enough to make extended travel for adults reasonable, with the caveat that headroom is extremely limited for ingress and egress.

The X1 carries BMW’s 4 year/50,000 mile “Full Maintenance Program,” which includes Roadside Assistance. When we first started driving this X1, the steering effort required to turn the wheel seemed high, so we stopped by our local dealer, Sonnen BMW in San Rafael, for a check. Without hesitation, the service advisor took the X1 for a turn around the lot, then asked his technician for a drive and opinion. The technician checked the front tire pressures, drove the X1 and pronounced it AOK. He said that steering on the AWD model is slightly heavier than that of the FWD version because AWD still uses a hydraulic pump versus the FWD’s electric power steering. After a day or so, I became used to the high effort steering, but after a week, I was still impressed with the gracious and helpful treatment I received at the hands of Sonnen BMW.

2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i

  • Engine: 2.0 liter in line 4, 16 valve, twin turbocharged, direct injection
  • Horsepower: 240 hp
  • Torque: 260 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 22 MPG City/33 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $45,245
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2013 BMW X3 xDrive28i

Monday July 22nd, 2013 at 8:77 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Aero-Chisel Looks, Practical Interior Space, Vernier Handling
Gripes: Cheesy Seatback Pockets, Manual Steering Wheel Adjust

Just by accident, we found our 2013 X3 parked next to a first edition X3. Although both vehicles go by the same name and remain identically sized, the 2013’s wealth of ingenious stylistic changes make it look like a completely different SUV. In place of the first generation’s unappealing matte black front and rear fascia panels, the latest offering’s sculpted and chromed sheet metal looks like a scythe compared to a butter knife. BMW offers the latest flame surfaced X3 in 2 flavors, both all-wheel-drive (or “xDrive” in BMW-speak). The entry level offering which we drove is powered by a 4 cylinder twin turbo motor that displaces 2.0 liters and makes 240hp. This 28i version retails for $38,500, but you’ll have no problem optioning it to well over $50,000. Our test X3, with several expensive option packages, chimed in at $54,030. Stepping up to a 35i model ups the base price to $43,600 but gives you a traditional BMW straight six cylinder turbo motor which makes 300hp. The 28i returns the best fuel mileage (21 MPG City/28 MPG Highway) compared to 19/26 for the 35i.

In all phases of daily driving, the 28i’s engine offers responsive, strong acceleration when needed. The standard 8-speed automatic gearbox makes maximum use of the engine’s peaky torque curve to provide gratifying thrust. You can let a gearbox downshift take care of your need for speed by simply flooring the accelerator, or oversee the operation yourself by slotting the transmission into manual mode and bumping the stubby stick forward for downshifts and rearward for upshifts. Despite the fact that our X3 was equipped with a $3,000 “M Sport Package,” BMW did not include steering wheel paddles for transmission control. But the package did supply such niceties as Dynamic Damper Control, 19 inch double-spoked “M” alloy rims (complete with 245/45R19 Run-Flat LS2 Goodyear Eagles), high gloss roof rails, sports seats, Siena wood trim, external aerodynamic refinements, and a charcoal headliner.

The M Package is definitely worth the extra money because the front seats it provides are sublime. In top formula car race circles like F1 and Indycar, teams custom fit seats to drivers by filling seat mold bladders while drivers sit immobile until the liquid hardens around them. The X3’s sports seats fit like F1/Indycar custom pours, enveloping your tail, thighs and butt like an invisible sandbox. The M Sport’s “Fineline Siena” wood trim, which graces upper front door panels, center console and right dash, is exquisitely grained and lovely to behold. The cockpit controls are workmanlike and understated, with a simple, fat-rimmed, M-spoked leather steering wheel affording ample control over the sensitive feedback of the Servotronic vehicle-speed-sensitive power steering. Another nice touch is the M-branded aluminum dead pedal which adds a note of distinction to the driver’s side footwell.

BMW has instituted Stop/Start technology on the X3 model line, and while it may gain some incremental fuel saving, it’s not worth the price you must pay in disconcertion and inconvenience at every traffic light. That’s because when the system automatically kills the engine after a brief period of immobility, the X3 shudders into silence, only to replay the twitch when the engine refires as you drive off. You can eliminate this entire drama by defeating Stop/Start via a tiny button next to the ignition switch, but this in itself is annoying since you have to do this every time you restart the BMW. It’s also too easy to confuse the ignition switch button with that of the S/S defeat button. Do that at a traffic light and you’ll instantly incite a chorus of horn honkers.

The M Sport version of the X3 is the closest SUV you’ll find to a sportscar. It’s level of grip, instant responsiveness to steering input, flat cornering stance, and shock absorber override function, make it just the ticket for 3 Series wannabees who needs more room for stuff. The X3 offers a whopping 56.5 cubic feet of storage with the rear seats folded flat. While it may look like an SUV, this BMW has the soul of a sports car.

2013 BMW X3 xDrive28i

  • Engine: 2.0 liter DOHC, 16 valve, twin turbocharged Inline 4
  • Horsepower: 240hp
  • Torque: 260 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 21 MPG City/28 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $54,095
  • Star Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Stars

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2013 BMW 335i Sedan Review

Monday April 15th, 2013 at 10:44 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Delicious M Sport Line, Best Seats, Planted Handling
Gripes: Auto Start/Stop Perplexing

You can just about buy a brand new Kia Rio for the $11,700 worth of “Options and Additional Charges” that bump the base price of this BMW 335i from $43,150 to $57,595. Ka-Ching starts ringing with the M Sport Line ($3,200), the Cold Weather Package ($950), the Driver Assistance Package ($1,900) and the Technology Package ($3,100). What exactly do you get when you order options that add more than 20 percent to the car’s base price? A delicious looking sedan that is so packed with technology that your lease will expire before you discover all of its myriad secrets.

BMW now relies exclusively on turbocharging to produce exceptional horsepower plus excellent fuel economy. The 335i’s inline 6 cylinder, twin turbocharged engine displaces just 3.0 liters, but produces 300hp while returning 26 MPG in combined city/freeway driving. The direct injection engine benefits from stepless variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust cams to extract every last molecule of energy from the 91 octane fuel BMW recommends for this motor. When you jump on the accelerator to complete a pass or merge with freeway traffic, the 335i instantly kicks down a gear or two (it has 8 of them), then surges seamlessly ahead.

All 335 sedans feature a console-mounted “Driving Dynamics Control” which allows you to select your desired performance level from these options: Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. In Eco Pro, the sedan feels somewhat lethargic, with relaxed steering feedback matching a slow reacting throttle. In Comfort, the sedan feels reasonably spry, but when you flip to Sport or Sport Plus, this Bimmer is really ready to boogie. In these Sport modes, the steering becomes heavier but more informative, while throttle response zings into a hyper responsive algorithm that makes you want to lace your driving shoes tighter.

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2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe Review

Wednesday October 10th, 2012 at 8:1010 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Spacious, Glassy, Classy
Gripes: Pricey, Fixed Moonroof

Five years have elapsed since BMW introduced their stunning 4-door “CL” coupe study at the Shanghai auto show in 2007. The hallmarks of that China show design by Adrian van Hooydonk, which paid tribute to BMW’s treasured CL coupes of the Seventies, were its expansive glass area, six foot width, and exceptionally large wheels and tires. All of those design features have found their way into the production version, the 2013 640i Gran Coupe. The roofline of the new coupe resembles the back of a turtle, with vast front and rear window glass sloping away from a domed roof that itself contains a huge pane of tinted glass. Just like its show car CL predecessor, the Gran Coupe is more than six feet wide excluding the outside mirrors. And completing the key points of van Hooydonk’s original vision, 20 inch tall wheels with super skinny sidewall Dunlop tires define the exaggerated wheel well arches.

From a historical standpoint, the term coupe defines a 2-door car with 2 + 2 seating. BMW has redefined the classic coupe concept by adding an extra pair of rear doors to facilitate rear seat usage. Thanks to the car’s six foot width, there’s even room and belts for a baby size fifth passenger in the center of the rear seat. Indeed, there’s nothing + 2 about the rear seat accommodations. The 640 GC offers posh seating for 4, with possible occupancy by 5. Call it a 4+ 1 coupe. But make no mistake, the 640, despite its stealthy profile and attractive silhouette, is a sizeable vehicle. It’s 197.2 inch length is just 2 inches short of a 7 Series limo, and 4 inches longer than a 5 Series sedan.

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2012 BMW 335i Review

Saturday July 21st, 2012 at 11:77 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

For: 306hp, 8-speed Tranny, Turbine Wheels
Against: Stop/Start Nonsense, Neolithic Dash Slab

BMW has just introduced its latest interpretation of the 3 Series sedan. It’s still fast, nimble, handsome and expensive. You can order the base model 328i (base price: $35,795) which depends on a 4 cylinder turbo to make 240hp, or you can up the ante to the 306hp, 6 cylinder twin turbo 335i which we tested (Base price: $42,400). Let’s start with fast. The silky six makes peak torque of 295 lb.-ft from just off idle (1,200rpm) all the to 5,000rpm. Its Steptronic automatic transmission offers 8 gears to harness that endless torque, meaning that the 335i rockets you from 0 to 60mph in under 5 seconds, and tops out at an electronically controlled 155mph. If serious squirt is high on your purchase list, the new 335i fits the bill and then some.

Even though BMW has increased the wheelbase of the 3 Series by 1.9 inches, this sedan retains its close-coupled feel and quick reflexes. Curb weight of 3,500 pounds and an overall length of 182.5 inches indicate that BMW has worked hard to provide more interior space without resorting to increases in overall weight or size. The engine block, for example, is cast in aluminum. As a result, when you crank the wheel of the 335i into a sharp bend, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the responsiveness and balance of the chassis, steering and motor. Without question, the latest 3 is still one of the world’s best sports sedans.

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2012 BMW 650i Coupe Review

Monday July 16th, 2012 at 3:77 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

For: Do-It-All Nature, Space, Grace, Pace
Against: Exterior Rear View Mirrors Too Small

If you need a sportscar and a high performance sedan, look no further than Bimmer’s 650i. Granted, it’s a tad pricey at $101,675. But if you perceive it as 2 cars in 1, you’re on the right reasoning track. If you’re willing to alot $50,000 for each purpose the 650i fulfills, then you’ve saved yourself from buying an extra car. Let’s examine this genteel beast from the sportscar perspective first. Are 400hp and 450 lb.-ft. of torque enough to slake your thirst for V8 twin turbo power? They should be, considering the 650i will turn 107mph in 13.4 seconds through the quarter mile, and post a 0-60mph time of 5.1 seconds on its way to an electronically limited top speed of 150mph. If that isn’t serious sportscar territory, than nothing is.

But what about the handling? In a word, superb. BMW’s Driving Dynamics Control (DDC) system, which is standard on this car, allows you to dial up just the right amount of steering feedback, suspension control, throttle response and traction control permissiveness you need when pushing the performance envelope. An easily accessible button on the standard “Fine Line Oak Wood” center console allows you to bump the default DDC setting from Comfort to Performance or Performance+. If you hold the button down for 10 seconds in the Performance+ setting, you disable Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), putting your enthusiasm and talent in control of the situation. You’ll want to be exceptionally careful in this DSC-deleted Performance+ mode, because many of the safety net override systems are disabled, making it possible to lose control of this heavy and powerful vehicle if you don’t know what you’re doing.

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2012 BMW 328i Sedan Luxury Line Review

Monday May 14th, 2012 at 4:55 PM
Posted by: aquadog


The 328i has controversial styling because of the pointy front end. Get beyond that though and you will discover a car with modern priorities. This car delivers performance and fuel economy like no car before it has ever delivered.  0-60 is under 6 seconds and fuel economy is rated at 36 mpg on the highway.  The real story for us though is we were getting mileage figures of 40 and 45 mpgs on the highway.  Often, EPA highway ratings are a fantasy. On the 328i, the EPA mileage figures are more like a worst case scenario.

BMW 328i Sedan Specs:

  • Engine: 2.0-liter, Inline 4 Cylinder
  • Horsepower: 240hp @ 5000 rpm
  • Torque: 260 lb.-ft @ 1250 rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 33  mpg hwy
  • MSRP: Starting at $34,900

YouTube Preview ImageCar Tech: 2012 BMW 328i. This video is brought to you by CNET

YouTube Preview Image2012 BMW 328i. This video is brought to you by Driven Car Reviews

Luxury Line Features:

  • 18” Luxury multi-spoke wheel design
  • Chrome decorative accents in front air dam
  • Chrome kidney grille bars
  • Chrome window surround
  • Chrome strip above front air dam and rear loading edge
  • Chrome exhaust pipe trim
  • BMW Luxury entry doorsills
  • Sport leather steering wheel
  • Leather upholstery with exclusive stitching
  • Choice of two fine wood interior trims with chrome lower accent
  • Lower dashboard in exclusive brown leather color (in combination with the Saddle Brown Dakota leather upholstery)
  • Chrome rings around climate and radio control panel buttons
  • Center console fringe in chrome
  • Black signature key fob with chrome Luxury accent
  • $2,100

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