2016 BMW 640i xDrive Gran Coupe Review

Wednesday March 2nd, 2016 at 11:33 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2016 BMW 6401 xDrive Gran Coupe

By David Colman

The 6 lost two front teeth this year. Not because it’s growing up, and certainly not because it fell on its face. Rather, Dingolfing dentists extracted one chrome incisor from each twin kidney grill in order to simplify the Gran Coupe’s gorgeous grin. Then, to complete the makeover, they embedded a six pack of eyeballs into a new front splitter. These fog lights, grouped three to a side, brighten the face of the 6 as well as the road ahead. In addition to cosmetic tweaks, the 6 Series has grown in iconic stature because BMW has chosen it to defend the company’s racing reputation in IMSA’s wickedly competitive GT Le Mans class. At this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, a spectacularly decorated M6 GTLM celebrated the company’s 100th year by placing 5th out of 11 class entries in its maiden outing.

Although the 640i Gran Coupe resides at the other end of the performance spectrum from the M6 GTLM, the DNA of both cars is virtually identical. As a result, even this least powerful 6 Series model is an outstanding high performance ambassador for BMW. At present, the 640i has yet to be fitted with the latest B58 turbo six found in the new 3 Series. The Gran Coupe still utilizes the outgoing N55 engine, since BMW has yet to complete the engine swap for all model ranges. Having recently driven the new 3 powered by the new 6, and the new 6 propelled by the old 6, I can say that the difference between the two engines is negligible from the driver’s seat. Output figures bear out this conclusion. In 640i tune, the N55 turbo 6 produces 315hp and 330 lb.-ft. of torque compared to the B58′s 320hp and 330 lb.-ft. of torque.

2016 BMW 6401 xDrive Gran Coupe

What has not changed about the 640i is its exquisite level of refinement. Think of this BMW in human terms. Its elegant but sinewy patina reminds you of Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth. Its elegant insouciance brings to mind Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond. Its effortless all court athleticism bears comparison to John McEnroe’s tennis game. But unlike McEnbrat, the 6 powered 6 never talks back. In a solid week of driving, there wasn’t a single command this beauty refused to comply with.

It rained heavily during most of that week, so xDrive proved the perfect adjunct to the Gran Coupe’s build sheet. At no time could I provoke it to lose its composure on rain slicked back roads. Even when I prodded the throttle hard in the middle of a tight, wet turn, the 640i ignored my indiscretion and just kept digging. Frankly, this resolute behavior surprised me because past experience with the Michelin Primacy HP tires BMW utilized for this Gran Coupe led me to expect middling performance.

2016 BMW 6401 xDrive Gran Coupe

Standard 19 inch double spoke alloys carry radials measuring 245/40R19 front and 275/35R19 rear. To give you an idea how far off the high performance mark these tires are, their tread wear (TW) rating is 240, with a traction rating of A. That compares to a TW rating of 80 and a traction rating of AA for Michelin’s own Pilot Sport Cup tires in a similar 19 inch diameter. Previous track experience with Primacy HP tires on Toyota’s FRS and Subaru’s BRZ convinced me these Michelins degraded the otherwise fine handling of both cars. But in this run-flat BMW application, the Primacy HP proved to be king of the road in both wet and dry conditions. Nary a slip, nor a squeak.

The straight six in the Gran Coupe constitutes the entry level model. In this strata of the market, you climb a steep stairway to reach even that plateau. Financially speaking, base price isn’t base at all, at $82,500. When you’re said and done with the package premiums ($5,300 for the M Sport Edition, and $450 for the Cold Weather Package), the test coupe carries a total suggested retail price of $89,445, not including tax and tip. However, this amount is all you really need to spend for an optimal Gran Coupe. Yes, if you’re a fuel swilling swell, you can bump yourself up to the completely unnecessary 445hp 4.4 liter V8 650i xDrive for an extra $9,000. Or how about choosing the even more unnecessary 600hp Alpina B6 AWD for an additional $35,000? But you don’t need to spend a penny more than our test car’s $89,445 to enjoy first class rapid transit of the highest order. And besides, tradition dictates that a proper 6 Series should be powered by a proper 6. After all, the first E24 6 Series CS depended on the perfectly adequate M30 six-cylinder engine it borrowed from the 5 Series back in 1976.

2016 BMW 6401 xDrive Gran Coupe

Of course, the prototype Gran Coupe, which debuted on the New York Auto Show in 2009 didn’t have a turbo six under the hood. Nor did it have a thumping V8, or xDrive for that matter. In fact, it didn’t have any engine under the hood at all. Rather, the first Gran Coupe – which met with rave reviews from the public – was a 100 percent electric powered dummy mock-up of the real thing. Substantial storage batteries provided just enough impetus to shift it from delivery truck to exhibit hall and back. A specially trained assistant would lift the roundel badge on the trunk, insert a massive electrical hook up cable, and walk behind the Gran Coupe, directing its movements via radio controlled servo motors. In other words, the first demo Gran Coupe was a full size R/C car.

Although the production version isn’t quite as green as that prototype, it is substantially quicker. In fact, with 8 well chosen gear sets to harness its power, the 640i sprints from 0 to 60mph in just 5.4 seconds and covers the quarter mile in 14.1 seconds at 96.5 mph (Motortrend.com). That kind of pop requires reasonably quick reactions from an attentive operator. No more umbilical cord now, no laggardly servo motors. If injudicious throttle application is your thing, the 6 cylinder Gran Coupe will get you in trouble with the law, if not the laws of physics, real fast. I lost count of the number of times I looked down at the speedo, stupefied by its unexpected reading of 80 mph. This body shell of the 6 is so streamlined that it eliminates wind noise as an index of speed.

2016 BMW 6401 xDrive Gran Coupe

The anechoic interior is largely responsible for this sense of ethereal levitation. Let’s start with deliciously rich looking Cinnamon Brown Dakota Leather seats. Toast them with the standard three stage front seat heaters and your cushy Cinnabon muffin platform will lull you into lethargy. The Cold Weather Package adds heaters for the rear seats, plus a warmer for the steering wheel rim. I loved the fact that the rim heater remains activated as long as you want, since it lacks an auto-off timer. It also heats the entire rim rather than selected segments of it, so feel free to change your grip and stay hot. The front seats offer so many different adjustments – from thigh support to shoulder blade grip – that if you can’t get comfortable here, you won’t be comfortable anywhere. By contrast, the rear seats, while pleasing, lack any adjustments. Once you clamber through the small rear door and back your butt into place, you’re locked into a Singapore Sling designed for short trip comfort rather than long distance travel. Granted, there’s ample legroom since the Gran Coupe’s wheelbase is 4.5 inches longer than that of the standard Coupe. But the Gran Coupe’s sweeping roofline, though it stands 0.9″ taller than the standard Coupe, still restricts rear seat headroom to passengers no taller than 5’8″. And the lack of headliner grab rails means you’ll be free to flounder when the driver gooses the throttle in a turn. All in all, this Coupe is a bit more Gran up front than out back.

However, a couple of mitigating factors do improve your state of mind when ensconced in the rear. One is the standard Moonroof. Although this dark tinted monolith does not actually slide open, it does provide a swath of comforting light when the interior shade is retracted. Secondly, the rear windows slide all the way into the doors for a welcome and unobstructed rush of outside air. Finally, all three backlights are fitted with electrically operated privacy screens, with individual controls for each mounted on both rear arm rests. The screens are inexplicably part of the M Sport Package. Perhaps famous M Style race drivers require anonymity for past sins. Additionally, a floor mounted ventilation unit provides twin A/C-Heat outlets for fine tuning climate control. But the bulky unit eats into back seat knee room.

2016 BMW 6401 xDrive Gran Coupe

The 640i is an incredibly complicated symphony to orchestrate. Yes, you can just climb in and drive it the way is, in default mode. But the fun of owning this BMW lies in learning about its idiosyncrasies, in deciphering the secret handshakes lurking within the complex matrix of iDrive. For example, the Driving Dynamics program offers such a full range of options (EcoPro/Comfort/Comfort+/Sport/Sport+) that you will be hard pressed to differentiate the subtle differences between gradations. My first inclination was to select Sport+, a choice generated by memory of too many race track days. But after a couple of outings spoiled by turgid steering and punishing ride, it finally dawned on me that maybe Comfort or even Comfort+ would get the job of real world driving done with less drama. Although the Comfort settings aren’t quite laid back into suicide knob slouching territory, they do present an attractive alternative to Sport+ for the daily grind. Even when the road unfurls into a ribbon of switchbacks, the Comfort settings work just fine.

Out on the freeway, I even ventured a stint in EcoPro to see what that might be all about. What it primarily does is supplant your useful tachometer with a fairly useless, even comical, circular gauge divided into blue and grey zones. Moderate throttle use plants you in the blue zone. When you need to tromp the throttle, the gauge swings into the grey zone and an icon of a shoe on a pedal flashes in the gauge face. There’s also a sacrosanct area marked “Charge” that would lead you to believe the 640i is somehow Hybrid. Rather, EcoPro will decouple the engine and allow you to freewheel in certain situations. This only happened once, very briefly, on a long downhill run with no throttle applied. Even driving normally, without benefit of EcoPro nagging, the Gran Coupe managed a respectable 23 MPG in overall use, and nearly 30 MPG on the freeway. The highway figure benefits from 8th gear’s ultra tall ratio and the fact that the 3.0 liter 6 is churning just 1750rpm at 65 mph and 2000rpm at 75 mph.

2016 BMW 6401 xDrive Gran Coupe

While BMW encourages you to play endlessly with the permutations of chassis and instrumentation set up, there are certain things they don’t want you to know about at all. Like the location of the battery. The manual demurs in this regard, suggesting you visit your local dealership for battery matters beyond jump starting (remote engine bay terminals are thoughtfully provided for that purpose). A little digging in the Gran Coupe’s vast 18 cubic foot trunk revealed a massive battery installation, complete with international orange wiring leads, beneath the trunk’s removable floor board. While you may be successful in locating this source of energy, good luck trying to remove it. The inside rear trunk panel, which overlaps the battery and partially obscures it from view, appears to require specialized knowledge for removal. Thus battery extrication and replacement is problematic. It’s not surprising that BMW only provides the Gran Coupe with the same two tools found in the half as expensive X1: a screwdriver and a tow hook. It must be said that the 640i’s tools at least come packaged in a snappy looking black fabric pouch with red trim. There are a number of unoccupied slots in this roll.

2016 BMW 6401 xDrive Gran Coupe

Converting a two door coupe to a four door Gran Coupe could have proved to be a mission fraught with pitfalls. Stretching the length of the existing 6 Series by 4.4 inches while raising its roof by nearly an inch promised to disrupt proportions disastrously. But BMW’s design team managed the task with aplomb, reinventing the 6 with a stiletto profile that looks even better proportioned than the Coupe. If you have any doubt about the success of the finished product, look no further than the sales figures racked up by the Gran Coupe in 2015. BMW sold a total of 8,150 6 Series variants all told last year. The Gran Coupe accounted for a whopping 5,400, or 66 percent of those transactions. The remainder fell to the convertible with 1,950 sales and the two door coupe with just 800 sales. In the brave new world of German four door coupes, neither Porsche’s big butted Panamera nor Audi’s pricey A7 offer substantive competition to BMW’s comparably affordable Gran Coupe. The fact that BMW is willing to test this car’s mettle on the race track against full blooded two seat sports cars like Ferrari’s 488 GTE, Corvette’s C7R and Porsche’s 911 RSR speaks volumes about their confidence in the consummate adaptability of the 6 Series platform.

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2016 BMW X1 xDrive 28i Review

Monday February 29th, 2016 at 11:22 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2016 BMW X1 xDrive 28i

By David Colman

Hypes: Spacious and Airy Cabin, M Class Handling
Gripes: Chintzy Toolkit, Slow launch in “Drive”

In the new BMW X1, you sit much closer to the nose because the engine is now mounted sideways in the front compartment rather than lengthwise as in the previous X1. This reallocation of space has decided benefits for the driver, who now looks over a 9 inch shorter hood. Such a cab forward driving position promotes excellent frontal sightlines. The sidewinder X1 is also more responsive to changes in direction than the model it replaces, quicker to transition laterally, and altogether more rewarding for you to drive aggressively.

2016 BMW X1 xDrive 28i

Once underway, the X1 surprises you with its dramatic rush of power. It instantly snaps and snarls its way from peak torque to peak horsepower. To extract maximum performance, however, the X1 driver must maintain close oversight of the Steptronic 8-speed automatic transmission. For such a small displacement, peaky power plant, appropriate gear selection is essential. What I most missed during my week with the X1 were paddle shifts, which are unfortunately not part of the standard equipment package. I repeatedly found myself tapping the back of the steering wheel, searching for non-existent paddles.

2016 BMW X1 xDrive 28i

Even in this comparatively small 175 inch long SUV, back seat passengers fare very well. Their rear windows slot all the way into the rear doors, un unexpected pleasure for any claustrophobic rear seat occupant. The optional “Panoramic moonroof,” included in the $3,250 Premium Package, adds further airiness to the soaring greenhouse. And the X1 encourages you to maximize use of all that space by providing a pair of tail-mounted buttons to drop both rear seats flat. This gives you a loading platform good for 59 cubic feet of stuff. If you leave the rear seats upright, baby Bimmer still offers 27 cubic feet of cargo space.

2016 BMW X1 xDrive 28i

Should such practicality leave you unimpressed, there’s always the promise of cracking performance to keep you enticed. This time around, the X1 offers just one power train for North America, the 2.0 liter TwinPower Turbo, which makes 228hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. Tech addicts will enjoy monitoring engine output through virtual gauges called “Sport Displays.” Use the iDrive controller between the front seats to select Main Menu, then ping Sport Displays. Brightly illuminated gauges showing Power and Torque then appear on the 6.5 inch central dash screen. These provide real time value readings, with bugs set to record high values. You’ll be surprised at how frequently you reach peak torque (at just 1250 rpm), and how infrequently you max out horsepower (at 6500 rpm).

2016 BMW X1 xDrive 28i

When a possible passing situation presented itself, I slotted the console mounted lever into the Manual gate, and bumped the shift stick forward as many times as it took to select 2nd gear from the 8 available ratios. Then the X1 was ready to do some serious traffic shredding. Especially athletic on rain slicked pavement, this petite sports utility leads the mini-SUV pack in all-weather traction. Mid-turn, lean on the power as hard as you can, and you’ll find it impossible to break either end of the X1 loose.

BMW has redesigned its xDrive system with new hardware that occupies less chassis real estate while providing improved fore/aft torque distribution. To be sure, the tall and boxy platform will pitch a bit when goosed in a turn. Though this characteristic requires minor horsing from the wheel, forward bite never disappears. Thanks to standard M-Sport suspension, intelligent all-wheel-drive, and standard issue 18 inch Y-Spoke light alloy wheels, the X1 is able to maximize grip from Pirelli’s run flat version of the legendary P7 Cinturato (225/50R18).

2016 BMW X1 xDrive 28i

With a few notable exceptions, the cabin configuration of the new X1 is first class BMW. Bear in mind that our sample vehicle benefitted from the following 10 Premium Package upgrades: power folding mirrors, garage door opener, keyless entry, panoramic moonroof, auto dimming mirrors, lumbar support, ambient lighting, LED cornering headlights, and one year satellite radio service. The LED headlights hone in on back road apexes like a laser. Just the Panoramic moonroof and LED lights justify the $3,250 extra expense of the Premium Package.

2016 BMW X1 xDrive 28i

  • Engine: 2.0 liter inline 4 cylinder turbo
  • Horsepower: 228hp
  • Torque: 258lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 22MPG City/32 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $45,220
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2015 BMW X4 xDrive28i

Thursday June 11th, 2015 at 8:66 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2015 BMW X4 xDrive28i

By David Colman

Hypes: Sportiest All Activity Vehicle Ever From BMW
Gripes: Poor Rear Visibility

On a winding back road, the $54,550 28i version of the X4 will match a twin turbo Porsche Macan, move for move, while costing you $33,000 less. What’s the secret recipe here that BMW used to transform the practical but ponderous X3 platform into an Olympic grade decathlete? It’s the X4′s brilliant front mid-engine configuration. One look under the counter balanced hood reveals a vast empty crush space stretching from the radiator to the front face of the compact twin turbo four. Less weight over the front axle eliminates understeer. The central concentration of mass results in low polar moment of inertia, the key ingredient in the handling equation. The little 240hp 2.0 liter is tucked so far back against the firewall that it sits over and behind the front axle.

2015 BMW X4 xDrive28i

BMW capitalizes on this nearly ideal 49.3% front/ 50.7% rear weight distribution by pinning the X4 to the road with massaged suspension components. Buried at the rear of the engine bay is a tubular strut tower brace tying the cast alloy upper shock absorber mounts to the firewall. The optional $2,300 M Package further stiffens the underpinnings with “sport suspension” upgrades, making for a tolerably firm ride. Handling gains precision through M Package 19 inch light alloy rims which replace available 17 and 18 inch stock variants. These double-spoke pewter alloys, shod with 245/45R19 Goodyear Eagle LS2 tires, drop aspect ratio from 55 or 50 to 45 series sidewalls that are much more responsive to steering input. The blocky all weather Eagles proved surprisingly agile, carving apexes without any loss of adhesion or audible protest. The X4′s tight 39 foot turning circle further enhances maneuverability.

2015 BMW X4 xDrive28i

Variable power distribution to each wheel afforded by xDrive’s all-wheel-drive system ensures relentless adhesion. You can even tailor the grip to your personal preference by selecting – via a slide switch on the center console – one of four available “Performance Control” dynamic driving programs. Most insidious to performance is “Eco Pro” which minimizes fuel consumption (20 MPG City/28 MPG Highway/23 MPG Combined) by imposing glacial acceleration strictures on throttle response. More acceptable to the enthusiast is the “Comfort” setting which achieves what BMW calls “a balanced tuning” of all parameters. Added performance leeway is available in “Sport” mode which provides, according to the owner’s manual, “consistently sporty tuning of the suspension and engine controls.” In practice, “Sport” allows you to boogie within the limits dictated by Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). My favorite choice invariably became “Sport+” because it reconstitutes the entire feel of the X4 in a way that emphasizes sports over utility. “Sport+” switches on Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), a higher performance version of Dynamic Stability Control favoring forward momentum over driving stability. In other words, you’re still allotted some CYA insurance coverage, but not the platinum policy offered under DSC. “Sport+” also tightens steering response. Feedback at the wheel becomes more precise and rewarding. Ride firms measurably as the shocks assert more jounce and rebound control. The throttle responds with dispatch to the most minute pedal application. The X4 is now prepped to rumble in full beast mode.

2015 BMW X4 xDrive28i

The gearing for the 8-speed Sport Automatic transmission is delightfully short and peaky, perfect in fact for autocrossing, with a top sped of just 50mph in second gear. Third and fourth are equally short and closely spaced. For maximum enjoyment you will want to slip the console lever into the manual slot and control all shifts with the oversize aluminum paddles appended to the steering wheel. The gear chosen indicator window located in the base of the tachometer is 12 point typeface, when it really needs to be 24 point for instant reference. It’s hard enough to see in the daylight, and really gets lost in a sea of orange illumination at night.

2015 BMW X4 xDrive28i

The interior feels much more sports car like than any comparable SUV because BMW lowered the seats, front and rear, 1 inch to compensate for the reduced height of the fastback (or “Sport Activity Coupe”) roofline. This shuffle plants your butt crucially closer to the ground than the X3, or the Macan, for that matter. Instead of enduring the usual sports futility sensation of swaggering through turns on a barstool, the X4 feels reassuringly squat and glued. The fastidious level of interior refinement is soothing in the way you’ve come to expect from BMW. Concierge lit exterior door handles guide your way at night. Though BMW’s brave new confection may look like a Bavarian Cream Puff, it’s got a molten lava core ready to bubble over with a little help from your right foot.

2015 BMW X4 xDrive28i

2015 BMW X4 xDrive28i

  • Engine: 2.0 liter 16 valve inline 4 with twin power turbo, direct injection and double VANOS variable valve control
  • Horsepower: 240hp
  • Torque: 258lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 20 MPG City/28 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $54,550
  • Star Rating: 9.5 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2014 BMW X5 xDrive 35i

Tuesday October 7th, 2014 at 8:1010 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2014 BMW X5 xDrive 35i

By David Colman

Hypes: Super Size Tire Footprint, Impressive Interior Space
Gripes: High Tailgate Liftover, High Curb Weight for 3 Liter Engine

Those of you who are not BMW aficionados’ need a quick lesson in the Bavarian meaning of the letter M. Almost all BMW model lines are available with an M Sport package. Usually, this consists of sporty upgrades to the looks and handling. While the surcharge is quite hefty for an M Package ( $4,600 in the case of our test vehicle), you receive better value than if you were to order each improvement individually. On our X5, for example, the M Sport group includes a long list of improvements that would cost significantly more than $4,600. Some of the following items are not even available individually: 20 inch M Sport alloy wheels, Sport automatic transmission, High Gloss roof rails, Multi-contour seats, Aluminum hexagon interior trim, Aerodynamic kit, Shadowline exterior trim, and Anthracite headliner. Do not, however, confuse an X5 bedecked with this M Sport group for an X5 M. When the letter M is part of the X5′s official designation, as in “X5 M” you have bought yourself a much more expensive and esoteric vehicle which puts a premium on high performance to the exclusion of any other trait.

For example, our test X5, with all-wheel-drive (xDrive) and a 3.0 liter, turbocharged motor (35i) produces 300hp and 295lb.-ft. of torque. Its base price is $55,100. The X5 M on the other hand, which is expected late in the model year, will offer a 4.4 liter turbo V-8 that makes 555hp and 500lb.-ft. of torque. Plan on paying more than $68,200 for this low volume special. There are times when 555hp would be nice, because 300hp is taxed to the max when you need instant acceleration. Although BMW put this new 3rd generation X5 on a diet and reduced its footprint by 170 pounds this year, the in-line turbo 6 is hard pressed to provide instant acceleration because the X5 still weighs more than 5,000 pounds. The 8-speed Sport automatic gearbox helps maximize those 300 horses by keeping the engine turning in the fat part of its broad torque curve. From 1,300rpm all the way to 5,000rpm, this motor cranks out peak torque. That kind of pulling power allows you to tow a trailer weighing 6,000lbs.

2014 BMW X5 xDrive 35i

BMW is unusually generous with the wheel and tire dimensions of the M Sport package X5. The 20 inch diameter alloys are 10 inches wide front and 11 inches wide rear. Continental “Extra Load” SportContact tires rival in size the rubber you might find on a Porsche Turbo: 275/40R20 front and 315/35R20 rear. Such a gargantuan footprint insures tremendous stability. It’s virtually impossible to dislodge this X5 from your intended path of travel. Our test X5 enjoyed the added handling benefit of a $3,600 optional Dynamic Handling Package which provides “active” stabilizer bars front and rear that stiffen the chassis platform as you trundle through turns. The package also improves shock absorber response, with a Dynamic Damping system that reduces pitch in turns. Despite the fact that this SUV stands 69.4 inches high, 193.2 inches long, and 86 inches wide, it will handle any twisty piece of pavement you can throw at it with remarkable aplomb. The only drawback to the X5′s size is that it takes both sides of the road and then some to make a U-turn because its turning circle is 41.5 feet wide.

2014 BMW X5 xDrive 35i

Inside, this BMW will seat 4 passengers in exceptional comfort, and 5 in relative comfort. The interior will store 22.4 cubic feet with all seats elevated, and 66 cubic feet with rear seats collapsed. With seats flattened, you will discover many ingenious storage compartments to keep valuables out of sight. For example, the entire rear sub floor can be packed with goods covered by a lid that raises and lowers with assist from an hydraulic strut. The side walls of the rear area also contain small binnacles. Storage pegs fold flush against the walls, as does a wide retainer belt for securing packages. A double railed track system allows use of multiple inserts like a dog shield or specially fitted cargo container. BMW engineers offer you more configurations than a tub of Lego bricks.

Finished in a shade of blue that is so dark (Carbon Black Metallic) it looks black most of the time, and done up in black Dakota leather inside ($1,450 extra), the only flash you’ll find in this X5 is the hexagonal aluminum diamond plate that graces the door panels, dash board and center console. And even that injection of bright work is subdued thanks to a matte finish. But if solid virtues of practicality, great handling, and decent gas mileage are more important than bling, this X5 beckons you hither.

2014 BMW X5 xDrive 35i

2014 BMW X5 xDrive 35i

  • Engine: 3.0 liter in line 6, turbocharged with direct injection, Double-Vanos steplessly variable valve timing
  • Horsepower: 300hp
  • Torque: 295lb.-ft.@1,300-5,000rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 18MPG City/27 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $68,675
  • Star Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2014 BMW 435i xDRIVE Coupe

Monday August 4th, 2014 at 10:88 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2014 BMW 435i xDRIVE Coupe

By David Colman

Hypes: Hyper Flashy Interior. 166mph Top Speed
Gripes: For $63K, They Could Put A Screwdriver in the Toolkit

BMW has introduced two new 4 Series coupes for 2014. What differentiates them is choice of engine. The 428i uses a turbo four cylinder engine, while the 435i offers a turbo six cylinder motor. Both are available in either rear wheel drive form or all-wheel-drive trim (which BMW calls xDRIVE). The top version of the 4 Series coupe is the 435i with xDRIVE, and this is the model we spent the last week exercising. Get a tight hold on the reins because it’s a mighty quick stallion. The 435 would is definitely the hot ticket for speed lovers. Its 3.0 liter turbo makes 300hp and 300lb-ft of torque. The 3,621 pound 435i, with its superior power-to-weight ratio of 12.07lb/hp, covers the Standing Start quarter mile in 13.7 seconds at 105mph, while posting a 0-60 run of 5.2 seconds.

Though the 428i and the 435i look much the same and share virtually identical structures, they are vastly different vehicles in feel and performance. For comparison purposes, you would do well to think of these two coupes in human terms. They represent the same person at different stages of the life cycle. The 428 is the youthful rebel, rambunctious, ready to party, a real back road butt kicker. But once the 428 gains a few years and a few pounds, it matures into the 435, graying slightly at the temples, a little thicker in the waist and thinner in the reflexes. These BMW coupes reinterpret BMW’s “ultimate driving machine” adage from different perspectives. The 428i is ultimate if you’re seeking hot laps with your tail and your tongue hung out. The 435i offers ultimate satisfaction if you aim to cover vast distance at a canter rather than a gallop.

2014 BMW 435i xDRIVE Coupe

The Coral Red Dakota Leather interior of our 435ix looks positively opulent. Just the thing for the mature swinger who still boogies to the Latin beat of Xavier Cugat. While purists might dismiss this kind of visual flamboyance in such a serious sporting BMW, the red and black combo really knocks your socks off. The heavily pebble grained seat leather adds another dimension to the gripping support afforded by these special seats that are part of the coupe’s $3,100 optional M Package. The 435ix carries a reasonable base price of $48,000, but posts a whopping bottom line of $63,725 due to the following additions: the aforementioned M Sport ($3,100), Cold Weather Package ($700), Driver Assistance Package ($950), Dynamic Handling Package ($1,000), Lighting Package ($1,900), Premium Package ($2,200), Technology Package ($3,150), M Sport Brakes (650), Concierge Services ($250) and Destination Charges ($925). I don’t know about you, but if I’m paying an extra $250 for “Concierge Services,” I expect a warm croissant and a cafe au lait be delivered to my Coupe every morning.

2014 BMW 435i xDRIVE Coupe

But these many additions do bring multiple benefits, such as a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, retractable headlight washers (Cold Weather Package); adaptive full LED lights, automatic high beams (Lighting Package); comfort access keyless entry, lumbar support, satellite radio with 1 Yr. subscription (Premium Package); navigation system with touchpad, Head-up display, remote services, BMW apps, enhanced smart phone (Technology Package). The heated steering wheel is a particularly welcome addition on chilly mornings, a most worthy substitute for that missing concierge. The graphics of the navigation system maps are spectacular, showing 3D topographical details that will take your breath away. The Head-up display, on the other hand, is something of a mixed bag. It plays your speed on the windshield, right under your nose. So there’s no excuse for pretending you didn’t know how fast you were going when the officer arrives to hear your tall tale. It also keeps you apprised of your cruise control setting, and instantly notes any changes to your prescribed speed. Unfortunately, the mirror face of the Head-up unit reflects itself in the windshield during sunny conditions, so you get a helping of glare with your order of info.

2014 BMW 435i xDRIVE Coupe

Although the 435i is slightly heavier, taller and more front weighted than its cheaper sibling, our test coupe had one big ace in the hole that was missing from the 428′s arsenal: all-wheel-drive. California State Route 175 connects the rural outposts of Hopland and Lakeport with 18 miles of the best driving roads you’ve ever traversed. On a midweek day, there was virtually no traffic in either direction to distract me from pushing the big BMW as hard as I dared. While it never seemed as light or agile as the 428i, it felt more planted and predictable than the four cylinder model when pushed to the limit. With the 19 inch Bridgestone run flat S001 tires (225/45R19 front, 255/40R19 rear) generating significant side bite, the 435ix refused to lose its tenacious grip on the pavement, no matter how hard I tried to conjure drift angles. While it may be lacking in drift challenge showboat potential, the 435ix is the BMW 4 Series coupe I’d chose for a cross country trip with bad weather in the forecast.

2014 BMW 435i xDRIVE Coupe

  • Engine: 3.0 Liter inline 6, Turbocharged and Intercooled
  • Horsepower: 3000hp
  • Torque: 300lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 20MPG City/30MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $63,725
  • Star Rating: 9.5 out of 10 Stars

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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

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