BMW makes a big change with its smallest crossover, and few buyers are likely to notice. We drive the Bimmer that breaks with years of tradition.
BMW's X6 has proven to be an unlikely hit – so much so that the Bavarians have followed up with this kid brother X4 for 2015, a genre-splitting model that promises to be all things to all people. We spent a week with it to find out if it's worth the extra dough over the X3 upon which it's based.
The last time the Dinan name graced the pages of Autoblog, Michael Harley was waxing poetic about the S3-R BMW 1M Coupe, a car that still stands in his ranks as one of the best cars he's ever driven. And that wasn't just because it was, you know, amazing. It's because as far as tuners go, Dinan produces some seriously well-executed products. Harley said of the 1M, for example, "It was so fully formed and well-rounded that it felt like BMW itself had made it."
BMW is taking a page from the Harley-Davidson playbook with its groundbreaking R NineT. A retro cafe racer with an urban hooligan twist, the bike is fully customizable from fork to exhaust. Of course, any motorcycle can be customized, but the fact that BMW has built its newest bike to encourage modification using parts that can be swapped with simple tools is a radical move for a motorcycle maker best known for its plug-and-play touring bikes.
It's hard to say what a coupe is anymore. Is it merely a car with two doors? Does it have to have an arching roofline? Do frameless windows count for anything? Can a five-door hatchback or even an SUV be a coupe? At some point in the last few years, nearly everything we thought made a coupe a coupe has been challenged by something that calls itself a coupe, but to most people isn't. Our friends at BMW have led most of this line of questioning.
BMW has been in the line-blurring business of late, with the original X5 "Sports Activity Vehicle" muddling the line between SUVs and sport sedans in 1999, the 5 Series Gran Turismo challenging what our definition of "Gran Turismo" means in 2009, and pretty, low-roofed four-doors like the 6 Series Gran Coupe and the fresh new 4 Series Gran Coupe broadening the meaning of the word "coupe."
Alpina has been lovingly modifying BMWs for half a century, but as we learned during a tour of the company's HQ in Buchloe, Germany, Alpina has been in the wine distribution business for nearly as long. The company has an estimated million bottles on reserve in two warehouses and a beautiful wine cellar/tasting room on property in western Bavaria, just yards from where its 1,500 hand-crafted automobiles per year are produced.
BMW's all-new M3 Sedan is dynamically nearly identical to its two-door M4 Coupe sibling: a stopwatch reveals that both are sub-four-second cars to 60 miles per hour, a racetrack proves that the mechanical twins are equally as adept on a road course and a full afternoon of driving on public roads demonstrates that each possesses talented everyday adaptability.
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