BMW i8 spotted at a dealership ahead of its expected launch in Feb

Showcased at the Auto Expo 2014, the BMW i8 has made yet another appearance in the country. The hybrid sports car, expected to be launched next month, is likely to bear a price tag of INR 2 crores, ex-showroom.

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Spotted by Shifting Gears, the RHD (Right Hand Drive) BMW i8 was at a dealership in Mumbai, reported to be a part of the company’s service testing, before launching the car.

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The i8 will be brought into the country as a CBU (Completely Built-up Unit), and it uses an electric motor (connected to the front wheels) and a 1.5-litre three cylinder petrol engine (connected to the rear wheels) in conjunction to produce a combined maximum output of 360 hp and 570 Nm.

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Weighing 1,485 kg (kerb weight), the powertrain manages to catapult the car from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.4 seconds, and the top-speed is limited to 250 km/h.

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Keeping the weight low is the extensive use of carbon fibre, and with radical bodywork, BMW has managed to keep the drag coefficient down as well. Given that the vehicle has a worldwide demand, that exceeded the first year’s production, it won’t be wrong to assume that BMW has allocated limited units of the i8 for the Indian market.

BMW M3 Sedan, BMW M4 Coupe

“2014 is the year for BMW M in India”, Mr. Philipp von Sahr, president of BMW India, told reporters earlier this year at the Auto Expo which witnessed the showcase of the BMW M6 Gran Coupe. And what a year it has been for the nearly-half-a-century old performance brand from Germany.

This year saw the launch of the M6 Gran Coupe, the refreshed M5, and just recently the new M3 Sedan and M4 Coupe, bringing the total tally to four new M models in a not-so-performance savvy country like India. Indian Autos Blog was invited to sample the new M3 and M4 at the Buddh International Circuit last month, and here’s what we think of these new Beemers based on a short drive experience.

First up, we got the keys to the M4 Coupe which is essentially the coupe version of the M3 Sedan. BMW’s new notorious nomenclature has ensured the demise of the ‘M3 Coupe/Convertible’ nameplate, and what you get is an angrier looking version of the 4 Series instead.

Even before you start these cars, the first thing that hits you is just how easy-to-use the controls are, and how ordinary the interiors seem to be for one that costs INR 1.2 crore. The steering for example does without electrical adjustment, but anything that saves a few milligrams can be justified, is our guess. Otherwise, the cabin is identical to the regular 3 Series save for the M gearlever, steering wheel and carbon-trimmed center console.

 

Power for the new M models come from a newly-developed 3.0-liter M TwinPower Turbo inline six-cylinder engine which is capable of producing 431 hp between 5,500-7,300 rpm and 550 Nm of torque between 1,800-5,500 rpm. This, BMW say, is an improvement of nearly 40 percent compared to the previous generation M3/M3 Coupe, and also reduces CO2 emissions by 25 percent.

With the seven-speed M double clutch transmission (standard on the Indian car), both cars do the sprint from 0-100 km/h in 4.1 seconds and achieve a top-speed electronically limited to 250 km/h. In a straight line, the dash to 100 km/h and beyond comes up within those claimed figures, and the initial apprehension one may have for a downsized turbocharged unit (over the previous car’s naturally aspirated V8) is done away within those 4.1 seconds.

That being said, there is a perceptible lag in the lower region of the powerband, for which the 7-speed unit is to blame slightly as well. On the main straight of the circuit, the new Ms had no trouble inching close to their limited 250 km/h top-speed. So much so that all our braking into Turn 4 was carried out in the very last meters of the track.

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Speaking about braking, the four-piston discs at the front and the twin-piston discs at the rear do a spectacular job of shedding speed. For its part, the ABS kicks in precisely just when its needed, giving the driver the sense that he’s in control for the most part.

Getting back to power again, as the saying goes, there can be no substitute for pure displacement. And proving that point was the pace car which happened to be a BMW M5 with a 4.4-liter V8 churning 560 horses. It would be wrong to compare our 3.0-liter units to the M5’s 4.4-liter, but the way the M5 shot forward put things in a relative perspective of where the M3/M4 stand in hierarchy.

Power aside, the highlight of a true BMW M model lies in the way it handles, the way it feels to the driver. Personally, several journalists (me included) are of the opinion that the new M5 is a bit of a handful, and doesn’t feel as agile as the Chris Bangle-designed E60 M5.

 

On the new M3 and M4, the news is rather good on this front. While its annoying to know that the exhaust note of these cars is artificially synthesized through the speakers, the more important aspects of these cars have been handled much more seriously by BMW.

The weight, for example, has been restricted to under 1,500 kg (the M4 Coupe weighs 1,497 kg) and this was reflected as soon as we exited the pits onto Turn 1. The steering, which feels a bit artificially weighed up at certain places, does a fantastic job of turning, and it takes just a couple of laps to figure out precisely how many locks of steering input you need.

The legendary 50:50 weight distribution BMW is known for still holds ground on the new M3 and M4, despite competitors claiming they’ve a better setup with their 40:60 split. To put things in a nutshell, the new Ms feel like high-performance go-karts which is as high as a praise can get for sportscars in this segment.

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Priced at INR 1.218 crores for the Coupe and INR 1.198 for the Sedan (ex-Showroom), the M3 and M4 are not exactly what you would call cheap. The base Jaguar F-Type costs INR 1.21 crores, the Audi RS 7 comes at INR 1.28 crores, the Mercedes E63 AMG at INR 1.29 crores and the SLK 55 AMG (which has a naturally aspirated V8) costs INR 1.25 crores. Clearly, there are plenty of options for a performance car in a budget of under 1.3 crores.

At the end, two things cinch the deal towards the Beemers. The first being that the M3 and M4 are the best compromise at having an everyday usable performance car if you don’t wish for a performance SUV.

The next highlight being the cars themselves: You get your money’s worth of technology. Both cars feature a carbon roof – unheard of in this segment – which has been a major contributor in shaving 80 kg compared to the previous generation models. More carbon fiber bits are to be found in the propeller shaft and drive shaft of these cars, which on their own are lighter by 40 percent over the previous model’s components. Putting the ‘What diamonds are to women, carbon-fiber is to a car enthusiast’ equation, that’s a lot of lightweight material in this class of car.

 

At the end of the day, if we had to take one of these cars home with us, it would be a tough job choosing between the M3 and M4; the M5 wouldn’t even be in consideration, that’s just how good the smaller Ms are.

On the one hand, the M3 strikes on the appeal of its normality – a 5-door sedan for five days of the week, and a lightweight sportscar on the weekends. Here in lies the story of how the first generation M3 came into existence, and this Jekyll-and-Hyde character is exactly what excites a few of us. The M4 Coupe, on the track, is slightly more engaging to drive, though getting in-and-out of the rear seats is a squeeze. With a mere INR 2 lakhs separating these two, prospective buyers will have a hard time deciding between them.

 

details on the 2017 BMW 5 Series emerge

Expected to be break cover in the summer of 2016.

According to CAR magazine, BMW’s next generation 5-Series (codenamed G30) will bring in a host of new changes to the table, right from the inclusion of frugal three cylinder engines for basic variants to a whopping 600 bhp M5. Also in the cards is a production-ready autonomous driving system in the 5-Series for the people less interested in driving.

The British media reports that the new BMW 5-Series will sit on a brand new platform called the “35up”, which combines materials like high-strength steel, aluminium and carbon fibre to help engineers shed nearly 80 kg from the current model.

The top-of-the-line M5 will shed even more weight – around 180kgs – with extensive use of lightweight materials. Add to that a 600 bhp 4.4-liter twin turbo V8 under the hood, and an all-wheel-drive system, a first on the M5.

In terms of technology, the next gen BMW 5-Series is going to be so advanced that it will feature autonomous driving capabilities, where the car will change lanes and overtake without driver intervention. This will be made possible via a radar-based cruise control that will detect the slow car ahead, signal before changing its lane and passing the driver, before returning back to the original lane.

 

The entry level 518d will be powered by a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder diesel motor from the 2-Series Active Tourer, which is good for 150 bhp and a staggering fuel economy of 30.9 kmpl. Further up the diesel range, we can expect a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine to power both the 520d and 525d (power upped to 231 bhp), a 3.0-liter inline six twin turbo to power a 286 bhp 530d, 333 bhp 535d and a 400 bhp M550d xDrive (with two extra turbos).

Also read: BMW i8 spotted at an Indian dealership, launch next month – Spied

Based on the size of the engine, the suspension setup will also be different in the new 5-Series: 3- and 4-cylinder powered models will feature the front axle of the next 3-Series, while the 6- and 8-cylinder powered models will have the front axle from the next 7-Series.

The next generation BMW 5-Series will break cover in the summer of 2016 with a European launch happening in the middle of 2016. Expect the next 5-series to be launched in the Indian market by the end of that year, or in early 2017.

Competitors: Mercedes-Benz E Class, Jaguar XF, Audi A6
Expected Launch: Mid-2016 in Europe

2014 BMW 5-Series (Current model) – Image Gallery

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