Thursday, 28 June 2012

BMW remains a class-leader

BMW remains a class-leader across the board

Auto Express New Car Honours 2012

The new BMW 3 Series Saloon scooped the award for Best Compact Executive Car, for the fourth consecutive year at the Auto Express New Car Honours 2012.  Praised for its dynamic prowess, efficient engines and high quality interior the BMW 3 Series Saloon remains the car of choice in the compact executive sector.

The BMW 520d EfficientDynamics Saloon has stolen back the accolade of Best Executive Car at the Auto Express New Car Honours 2012. With CO2 emissions critical in this class it was a clear win for the 5 Series with its all-round appeal.

Topping off the night, the BMW 1 Series 5-door Sports Hatch was crowned Best Compact Family Car, beating off strong competition from the Volkswagen Golf and the Kia cee’d.  With the 116d EfficientDynamics model in tow, the BMW 1 Series range was commended for offering generous kit, tax efficient engines and the all-important kerbside appeal.

Auto Express’ Editor In Chief, Steve Fowler, said of the wins: “What a combination! It sounds too good to be true but the amalgamation of great looks, a brilliant drive and affordable running costs makes the BMW 1 Series, 3 Series and 5 Series all worthy winners.”

BMW named Fleet Manufacturer of the Year and collects a host of other accolades

BMW has been crowned Fleet Manufacturer of the Year by influential corporate title Fleet World. This is the third year in a row that BMW has garnered the top prize at Fleet World Honours, an awards ceremony that celebrates the highest possible level of excellence in the corporate sector.

Chair of the judges and Editor of Fleet World, Steve Moody, said: “When we asked major fleet and leasing companies who they thought was the number one fleet manufacturer, the answer was unequivocal: BMW. Great products including the brilliant new 3 Series, low CO2 and strong residuals are some of the reasons for the award.

“But it is about people too: fleets feel BMW reacts quickly, listens to their concerns and works with them better than any other manufacturer, making the complete package.”

News of the headline award came on the same night as the BMW 1 Series won the overall award for ‘Best Lower Medium Car’, for its class-leading engine line-up and the perceived leap forward in interior design and ride comfort by corporate customers. Also honoured by Fleet World was the BMW 5 Series Saloon which scooped ‘Best Executive Car’ following the decision by a panel of judges using residual value, maintenance, reliability and market value data across a cross section of independent sources.

The new BMW 3 Series Saloon received a double win, being named ‘Best New Car’ for 2012 courtesy of it raising the bar in all areas. It also received ‘Best Upper Medium Car’ because the outgoing vehicle was still a class-leader which makes the latest one with its improvements ‘still the benchmark to which all others aspire’.

BMW 3 Series Saloon voted ‘Best Executive Car’

BMW’s all new 3 Series Saloon has been crowned ‘Best Executive Car’ by influential car buyers’ bible Diesel Car Magazine. The annual award is hotly contested but the Three’s biggest rival turned out to be the BMW 5 Series Saloon.

Ian Robertson, Diesel Car editor, said: “Its high class cabin cossets with boardroom comfort and the calibre of the engineering is evident in every detail. There’s a certain wow factor in the way it makes you feel behind the wheel.”

The BMW 3 Series Saloon went on sale in March and since then over 12,000 have already been sold. The BMW X3 was also commended in the awards for being ‘Best SUV’.

The UK’s largest online expert advice portal honours BMW 3 Series, home of the butcher’s hat wearing industry guru, has bestowed the new BMW 3 Series Saloon with the honour of ‘Most Popular Compact Executive Car’ in its annual awards. ‘Honest’ and his fellow judges said of the Three: “It's well known that the BMW 3 Series sets the standard for premium saloons when it comes to handling. But there's more to this 3 Series than just driver enjoyment. It comes with decent levels of standard equipment and some of the most efficient engines available.”

Honest John has more than 1.2 million unique users a month who log on for advice and to brush up on motoring knowledge.

Fleet News readers name BMW Fleet Manufacturer of the Year

The biggest selling fleet magazine has named BMW as its Fleet Manufacturer of the Year – a feat the marque has pulled off for the second year in a row. BMW fought off strong competition to take home the top accolade, trumping its industry rivals on operating costs, fleet support and product support as voted by the magazine’s readers.

The BMW 5 Series Saloon also retained its title of ‘Best Boardroom Car’ with readers saying they valued the mix of high performance but low CO2 courtesy of EfficientDynamics.

Steve Chater, Corporate Operations Manager for BMW Group, said: “To take home these prestigious awards for the second year in a row is a real honour. It’s great to see BMW’s consistent approach to sustainable mobility, through the use of EfficientDynamics technologies, being recognised by the experts in the UK fleet market.”

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Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Goodwood Festival of Speed

BMW at The Goodwood Festival of Speed

The new BMW M6 Coupé and M6 Convertible will be seen for the first time in the UK at The Goodwood Festival of Speed 28 June - 1 July 2012. Powered by the latest V8 M TwinPower Turbo engine producing 560hp, both new models will run up the famous 1.16 mile hill and will help mark the 40th anniversary of BMW’s high-performance M division. Along with a selection of the Bavarian manufacturer’s hottest current M cars showcased in the BMW pavilion, Goodwood will provide the perfect stage to celebrate 40 years of M.

The new BMW M6 Coupé and M6 Convertible models represent the most recent expression of the BMW M philosophy. These bold 6 Series flagship models offer searing performance and sporting dynamics, combined with supreme long-distance touring manners and everyday usability.  With near 50:50 weight distribution and optimised aerodynamics the latest BMW M6 offers an intense M experience.

Bespoke M design, a driver-focused cabin and cutting edge in-car technology, makes the new M6 the most desirable yet, whether ordered with the lightweight carbon-fibre roof or the elegant retractable soft top.

The new BMW M6 Coupé and M6 Convertible are equipped with the same high-revving, turbocharged V8 engine as the M5 Saloon. This revolutionary powerplant not only produces 53hp more than its ten-cylinder predecessor at 560hp, but it also benefits from a greatly improved torque output over a broad band of revs. It’s this 680Nm, available from as low as 1,500rpm to 5,750rpm, that not only gives the new M6 its stunning outright acceleration, but also its commanding flexibility on-road.

The result is a 0-62mph sprint of just 4.2 seconds for the M6 Coupé, with the M6 Convertible following at 4.3 seconds. Both versions have a top speed limited to 155mph. The new M6 Coupé and Convertible go on sale in the UK on 15 September 2012, with the Coupé costing £93,820 and the Convertible £99,020.

Driving the M6 Convertible in the super car run will be one of the UK’s best known television presenters and ex-racing driver, Tiff Needell. Steering the M6 Coupé up the hill will be British Touring Car Championship driver, Tom Onslow-Cole.

Whilst Tiff and Tom will be aiming for a quick run up the hill, they will also be in the BMW pavilion for interviews and autographs. They will be joined by legendary Formula 1 commentator, Murray Walker, and by one of the UK’s best ever international racing drivers, Steve Soper. On stand too will be Superbike World Champion, Troy Corser, when he’s not riding the BMW R90S TT up Goodwood’s famous hill.

BMW celebrates 40 years of M

For 40 years, BMW M has brought the thrill and flair of motor-racing to the road with the world's most powerful letter – M. Racetrack performance and road dominance has given BMW M owners the unique reward of having the best of both worlds. Since its creation in 1972, BMW M has grown to become the most successful high-performance division in the automotive world.
To celebrate this key anniversary a plethora of M models, including the new M6 Coupé, will showcase in the BMW pavilion together with other new and potent models from the BMW range.

The BMW pavilion will host three unique examples of the BMW M3. The first is the BMW M3 DTM race car, currently competing in the 2012 DTM season - one of the world’s most exciting and competitive touring car championships. The BMW M3 DTM heralds the return of BMW to the DTM race series after an absence of nearly 20 years.

Alongside this spectacular racing car, but also not for sale, is the M3 Chrome Bullet – a show car finished in a full chrome exterior and accentuated with BMW Motorsport stripes. Complementing the M3 line up is a new BMW M3 Performance Edition. Built by BMW M GmbH solely for the UK market, and costing £74,080 OTR, just thirty of these exclusive cars are available to buy.

Also on display will be a new BMW 1 Series 3-door M135i. Costing £29,995 OTR, the M135i is a true M Performance vehicle - designed with aerodynamics in mind while also exhibiting BMW M design flair. The powerful M Performance unit, the 3.0-litre M Performance TwinPower Turbo engine, is not only exceptionally powerful but also lag-free, high revving and efficient. The result is an impressive 320hp at 5,800rpm and torque peaking over a wide rev band: 450Nm from 1,300-4,500rpm. Such performance gives the M135i a 0-62mph time of just 5.1 seconds (4.9 seconds with the optional sports automatic transmission) and a top speed electronically limited to 155mph.

The eagerly anticipated BMW 3 Series with M Sport trim will also be at Goodwood. M Sport trim specification builds on the striking styling of the 3 Series and its agile and dynamic character, through a combination of unique interior and exterior design changes and suspension upgrades. M Sport is now available across the majority of variants of the BMW 3 Series Saloon for £3,000 over the cost of the SE model.

On stand too will be a potent BMW X6 M50d, an example from the new performance range from BMW which is designed to bridge the gap between M Sport variants and the outright M high-performance models. The BMW X6 M50d, costs from £62,280 OTR, and features the most powerful diesel ever to come from BMW. The 2,993cc six-cylinder in-line engine has three turbochargers and offers 381hp and an impressive 740Nm of torque, with a 0-62mph of only 5.3 seconds.

BMW in the Moving Motor Show

Once again, The Goodwood Festival of Speed will present the Moving Motor Show. This exclusive event, on Thursday 28 June, enables participating manufacturers to invite selected customers, media and corporate clients to a privileged preview of the Festival and to drive production cars up the hill.

This year, and to reflect the 40 years of M theme, the M5 Saloon will be in action whilst at the BMW Moving Motor Show stand, the legendary M1 will be showcased with two unique examples of M product– a BMW M3 Group A DTM race car (kindly provided by amateur racing driver, Andrew Busby) and a BMW M635CSi (generously loaned by BMW Car Club).

The M3 was the most successful racing car of all time winning a huge number of races and over 40 championships between 1987 and 1992, whilst the classical M635CSi proved to be a real wolf in sheep’s clothing. Using a more powerful version of the BMW M1 engine, this was the third model to bear the now famous M badge and was powered by BMW’s thoroughbred 24-valve, six cylinder engine.

The Goodwood Festival of Speed is being held from 28 June - 1 July 2012. Representing BMW Group UK will be Martin Harrison, Media Relations Officer, on 07525 977083. Additional members of the team will be available on the following days:

Gavin Ward, BMW Media Relations Manager  + 44 7901 951 512
Wieland Bruch, Corporate Communications Manager + 44 7525 977 067
Sarah Heaney, MINI Media Relations Manager + 44 7824 417 597

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Friday, 22 June 2012

BMW Model Line Up

BMW expands and enhances its UK model line-up

From July BMW will introduce a package of new model and engine revisions across the range. The changes to the 3 Series Saloon and the 5 and 6 Series ranges significantly broaden BMW’s market coverage in the UK, extending its lead in fuel-saving, emissions-reducing measures while adding to customer choice and personalisation options.

The 2013 BMW 3 Series Saloon

With the arrival of hybrid, four-wheel-drive and M Sport variants of the 3 Series Saloon, BMW offers its most comprehensive line-up ever of the model that is the heart of the brand. The 320i xDrive, ActiveHybrid 3 and M Sport versions start production in July along with the 330d, followed in November by the 316i and 320i EfficientDynamics.       

The ActiveHybrid 3 is unique in the compact premium saloon class. Powered by the BMW TwinPower Turbo 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine in tandem with a 40kW (55hp) electric motor, it develops a combined 340hp and 450Nm of torque to deliver exceptional performance, reaching 62mph from zero in just 5.3 seconds.  At speeds of up to 37mph it can travel up to 2.4 miles solely on electric power supplied by its high-performance lithium-ion battery. With a combined fuel consumption of 47.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 139g/km it attracts only an 18 per cent benefit-in-kind company car taxation rate.  Just as practical as it economical, the ActiveHybrid 3 retains 390-litres of useable boot space. The BMW ActiveHybrid 3 is priced from £40,225 OTR and is available in SE, Modern, Luxury and M Sport specification.

xDrive brings the all-year-round stability and safety of four-wheel-drive to the 3 Series. Available initially on the 320i and powered by the 184hp TwinPower Turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, it costs from £27,400 OTR for a BMW 320i SE. With the six-speed manual gearbox the 320i xDrive accelerates from zero to 62mph in 7.4 seconds and has fuel consumption and CO2 figures of 41.5mpg and 159g/km.  The optional eight-speed automatic transmission improves economy and emissions to 43.5mpg and 152g/km while adding only a tenth of a second to the zero to 62mph time.

The BMW eight-speed Sport automatic transmission is fitted as standard to the new 330d, which is powered by the 3.0-litre TwinPower Turbo six-cylinder diesel engine developing 258hp and 560Nm of torque. This ensures that not only is it rapid, with a zero to 62mph time of 5.6 seconds, but also supremely efficient with a combined fuel economy of 57.6mpg and CO2 emissions of just 129g/km. The new BMW 330d Saloon is priced from £33,280 OTR for a BMW 330d SE.

The eagerly anticipated M Sport specification is now available across all variants of the BMW 3 Series Saloon for £3,000 over the cost of the SE model. The M Sport trim builds on the striking styling of the new 3 Series and its agile and dynamic character through a combination of unique interior and exterior design changes and chassis upgrades.

Standard features include 18-inch M Star-spoke alloy wheels, M Sport suspension and M aerodynamic body styling with High-gloss Shadowline exterior trim. Dakota leather upholstery is standard alongside a unique M Sport multi-function leather steering wheel, Anthracite headlining, M Sport seats and M designation door sill finishers. A Sport+ function is also added to the Drive Performance Control switch. Aluminium Hexagon interior trim with an Estoril Blue finisher is standard, but a high-gloss Black finisher is available as a no-cost option, as is a Brushed Aluminium interior trim.

The expansion of the 3 Series range will gather more momentum in November with the arrival of the 316i Saloon and 320i EfficientDynamics Saloon. The 316i is powered by a 1.6-litre TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder engine developing 136hp* and 220Nm* of torque (and will be available from £22,850 OTR). With a combined economy of 47.9mpg*, CO2 emissions of 137g/km* and a BIK rate of 18 per cent it will appeal to tax-conscious business drivers, yet still maintain the dynamic BMW responses, reaching zero to 62mph in 8.9 seconds*.

The same is true of the 320i EfficientDynamics which, with fuel economy of 53.3mpg* and CO2 emissions down to 124g/km*, attracts only a 15 per cent BIK rate. The 320i EfficientDynamics is powered by a 170hp* version of the 1.6-litre TwinPower Turbo engine punching out 250Nm* of torque. It will be available as a stand-alone model, based on the SE trim level, priced at £25,730 OTR.
*Data to be confirmed closer to launch.

Fives a fix

The introduction of an extremely tax-efficient version of the 5 Series Gran Turismo, technical enhancements to the rest of the Gran Turismo range and a new ActiveHybrid 5 M Sport are the major changes to the 5 Series range for potential owners.

BMW Gran Turismo ownership now starts with the new 520d Gran Turismo, powered by the same 2.0-litre TwinPower Turbo diesel engine fitted to the 5 Series Saloon and Touring. It develops 184hp and 380Nm of torque and, thanks to a full complement of EfficientDynamics measures, including Auto Start-Stop and ECO PRO mode, the 520d Gran Turismo is capable of 53.3mpg, with CO2 emissions of just 139g/km.  This puts it in VED band E ensuring a BIK rate of 21 per cent.

Standard equipment includes Dakota leather upholstery, an eight-speed automatic transmission, the BMW Business Advanced Navigation system and enhanced Bluetooth telephone functionality with telematics. A panoramic sunroof, heated front seats, Park Distance Control front and rear and automatic tailgate operation are further specification highlights. The 520d Gran Turismo is available in SE or M Sport from £36,605 OTR.

At the same time the 520d engine arrives, all other versions of the 5 Series Gran Turismo gain Auto Start-Stop and ECO PRO which brings down their BIK rating by up to 5 per cent, while the 530d, 535d and 550i exhibit significant gains in power and torque for improved performance. The 530d now develops 258hp and 560Nm – increases of 13hp and 20Nm – yet fuel consumption improves by 5.2mpg to 48.7mpg and CO2 emissions are down by 20g/km to 153g/km.

The 535d gains 13hp and 30Nm to take it up to 313hp and 630Nm, but at the same time there is a 5.7mpg combined economy improvement, now 47.9mpg, and CO2 emissions fall by 21g/km to 154g/km. The 550i develops 449hp and 650Nm– an extra 42hp and 50Nm – but CO2 emissions are down by 49g/km to 214g/km and fuel consumption is 5.5mpg better at 30.7mpg.

The power and torque figures of the 535i Gran Turismo are unchanged, but the addition of the new EfficientDynamics measures bring about a 17g/km reduction in CO2 emissions to 192g/km while improving fuel economy by 2.7mpg to 34.4mpg. There are modest price rises of £375 for the 535i, £495 for the six-cylinder diesel models and £870 for the 550i.

The ActiveHybrid 5 is now available in M Sport specification, a model that is specified on more than half of all 5 Series ordered in the UK. The ActiveHybrid 5 M Sport features the same styling and equipment enhancements as other M Sport versions of the 5 Series Saloon range, with the exception of M Sport suspension and M door sill finishers.  The BMW ActiveHybrid 5 M Sport is priced at £50,190 OTR.

All Touring versions now have automatic tailgate operation as standard for greater convenience for a price increase of £250, while all 5 Series variants gain Voice Control at no additional cost.

The 2013 BMW 6 Series Coupé, Convertible and Gran Coupé

Production of the BMW 650i Gran Coupé will begin in July and at the same time its uprated 4.4-litre V8 TwinPower Turbo engine – delivering improvements in power, torque, performance and efficiency – will replace the existing version in the 6 Series Coupé and Convertible.

The new 650i engine develops 449hp and 650Nm of torque – gains of 42hp and 50Nm compared to the previous model. It also features EfficientDynamics measures not previously available with the V8 engine, including Auto Start-Stop and ECO PRO mode. As a result, all 650i variants now accelerate from zero to 62mph in just 4.6 seconds. The fuel economy and CO2 emissions figures of the Coupé and Gran Coupé are 31.7mpg and 206g/km, while for the Convertible they are 30.7mpg and 214g/km. These represent improvements of 5.1mpg and 40g/km in the Coupé and 4.3mpg and 35g/km in the Convertible.

The 650i Gran Coupé is priced at £70,650 OTR as an SE and £75,150 OTR in M Sport guise. There is a rise of £820 for the 650i Coupé and Convertible, while all other 6 Series Coupé and Convertible models rise by just £70.

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Wednesday, 13 June 2012

UK BMW engine plant

UK engine plant to build engines for BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports cars

At today’s SMMT 2012 International Automotive Summit at Canary Wharf, London, Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Sales and Marketing BMW, announced that the new generation of high-tech, 3-cylinder petrol engines for the future BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car will be produced exclusively at the BMW engine plant at Hams Hall, near Birmingham.

Ian Robertson said: “Our Hams Hall engine plant, which last week celebrated production of the three-millionth engine since the plant was opened in February 2001, will make an important contribution to the future success of the new BMW i brand and the company’s strategy for achieving sustainable mobility. The new 3-cylinder petrol engines will enable our future BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car to set new standards for dynamic performance in combination with industry-leading fuel-efficiency and low carbon emission levels.”

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “BMW’s decision to produce engines for their i8 plug-in hybrid sports car at Hams Hall is more good news for the UK automotive sector and underlines its growing competitive strength. It is yet another indication that international companies see the UK as one of the best places to develop and manufacture low emission vehicle technologies.”

The BMW i8 Concept is a contemporary sports car boasting an innovative eDrive plug-in hybrid concept combining an electric drive system with a high performance three cylinder TwinPower Turbo engine producing 349hp/300Nm. Acceleration of 0-62mph in under five seconds combined with the fuel consumption in the European cycle of under approximately 78mpg gives sports car performance with small car fuel consumption. Thanks to its plug-in hybrid drive, most daily journeys can be taken in zero-emission all-electric mode with an electric range of approximately 20 miles. The 2+2 seater provides enough space for four people giving a high level of everyday practicality.

During his keynote address at the SMMT Summit to leaders from across the automotive industry, Ian Robertson said that the BMW Group, as a major UK investor, employer, manufacturer and exporter, welcomed continuing joint government-industry initiatives to re-balance the UK economy, strengthen the manufacturing sector and improve the standards of training and skills that underpin the success of the industry.  He also emphasised the importance of new, emerging markets around the world for creating export-led economic growth and employment.

During his presentation, Robertson also welcomed the UK Government’s activities to help stimulate the early market for ultra-low carbon emission vehicles and emphasised the need for continued support in developing the market for electric vehicles which will play an important role in further reducing CO2 emissions and achieving increasingly ambitious carbon reduction targets in the years ahead.

Despite the current economic difficulties in many countries in Europe, including the UK, Robertson declared his confidence and optimism in the positive development of the automotive sector and its ability to play an increasingly important role as a key sector of the UK economy.   

Over three million engines have been produced to date at the Hams Hall engine plant for a wide range of BMW and MINI vehicles. This milestone follows record production in 2011 and confirmation that facilities are to be upgraded to enable production of the new generation of engines. The UK-built engines are supplied in sequence to production plants in Germany, Austria and Oxford and currently power the BMW X1, BMW 1 Series, the new BMW 3 Series as well as all MINI petrol engines.


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Wednesday, 6 June 2012

25 years BMW Z1

Back to the future +++ 25 years of the BMW Z1.

It was a true quantum leap: when BMW unveiled the Z1 to the international motoring press in the Italian town of Punta Ala back in autumn 1988, its direct predecessor was parked in the hotel’s inner courtyard – a BMW 507 from the late 1950s, the last time the BMW model range had included a two-seater sports car. The leap through time to the Z1 was in fact even greater than the intervening period of 30 years or so would suggest. Its avant-garde solutions looked way ahead into the future – indeed, some of its most revolutionary ideas are as unique now as they were then.

It had all begun with a very bold idea. The BMW Board of Management came up with the notion of setting up a kind of think tank in a cutting-edge company branch that would be completely isolated from all other development departments. The idea was to give highly skilled BMW engineers, technicians and designers free rein to work on turning their best creative concepts into reality themselves.

At the start of 1985, the idea came to fruition. Not five minutes’ drive from the Group’s headquarters, a highly dedicated high-tech company came into being that has long since become a role model the world over: BMW Technik GmbH, known internally simply by the letters ZT. Just six months later, the 60-strong team delivered exactly what had been hoped for: concrete concepts designed to inject car manufacture with new impetus, all under the umbrella of a pilot project for employing new materials, using different types of vehicle structure and shortening development times. It didn’t take long to coin a name for it: the Z1.

Pilot project sells itself: Z1 looks increasingly likely to go into production.

The project really sold itself. Initially, no one had dreamed of putting into production a concept car in the guise of a sleek roadster – but it was just too good and the thought of a new BMW sports car too enticing. The BMW Board of Management gave the green light, and almost 12 months later to the day, there was more than just a styling model to admire – the first roadworthy prototype was ready, too. On 1 August 1986, BMW went public and announced: “BMW Technik AG has completed its first product. The BMW Z1, a vehicle study, was conceived on the basis of specifications which build on longstanding BMW traditions at the same time as factoring in future mobility requirements.”

One glance was enough to know exactly what the superbly proportioned sporty two-seater was meant to build on: there were increasing calls from customers for a roadster that would continue the legacy of BMW’s legendary sports cars of the past. The 328 and 507 had long since gone into the history books as sporting and style icons, and there had been nothing to take their place for several decades. It was time to fill the gap with something right up to date. As the press release stated: “BMW Technik was commissioned by the Board of Management of BMW AG to devise and execute a vehicle concept which would largely satisfy the desire for ‘freedom on four wheels’, driving pleasure and performance.” The fundamental driving experience should clearly take precedence, rather than adopting the comfort-focused approach that prevailed in competitors’ sports car concepts throughout the 1980s. “Young”, “dynamic” and “brash” should be the words that best described the Z1, along with “a new dimension in driving”. Trademark BMW roadster attributes were adopted and fused with the latest technology. Ingredients included superior performance, the ability to drive with the roof down, a sense of sheer originality and a dash of extravagance. The Z1 had all the right credentials: low weight and low centre of gravity, front mid-engine and compact dimensions. The highlight though was without doubt its pioneering technology: the unique vertical sliding door concept and the supporting sheet-metal structure with a plastic outer skin.

Demand wins the day: the roadster is to be built – by hand.

The response was overwhelming – the company was inundated with inquiries from customers, while there was a great deal of public speculation about whether BMW had the courage to actually build the car. Whereas BMW kept silent on the matter, development for series production was already in full swing behind closed doors. It was obvious that the Z1 would have to be built largely by hand on account of its unusual design characteristics and the materials used. This, in turn, meant a small production run and a high price tag. Nevertheless, the BMW Board of Management pushed ahead with the launch.

Almost exactly two years after finalising the Z1 concept and one year on from the study’s unveiling, BMW laid its cards on the table when it made the following announcement on 10 August 1987: “The time for speculation is over, the guessing game has come to an end: BMW AG will be presenting the Z1 Roadster at the Frankfurt Motor Show.” Speeding up the development process had been a pilot task for this project, and after a development time of just three years a limited number of the 170 hp front mid-engined sports car would go into small-scale production from June 1988. “Once the custom-built production process is up and running at full capacity, up to six car enthusiasts a day will be able to start enjoying undiluted driving pleasure instead of just dreaming about it.”

The ink had barely dried on the announcement when the advance orders started to stream into Munich. The Frankfurt Motor Show hadn’t even started when a major motoring magazine wrote: “The groundswell of euphoria gives reason to suspect that the last person to place an immediate order won’t get their hands on their Z1 until the year 2000!” BMW gave a small group of top journalists a preview of just what would make the new roadster one of a kind. The Director of BMW Technik GmbH at that time, Ulrich Bez, gave an emphatic demonstration of the benefits of the plastic panelling: he jumped with both feet onto a vehicle wing lying on the floor, which promptly buckled – then sprang back to its original shape when he stepped off it again.

BMW’s historic 1987 Frankfurt Motor Show: first V12, first 3 Series Touring, first Z Roadster.
When the show finally opened its doors on 11 September, visitors descended on the BMW stand in their hoards to behold a unique collection of firsts all set to go down in motoring history: the 750i powered by Germany’s first post-war 12-cylinder engine was marking its world premiere, as was the first ever 3 Series Touring as it blazed a trail for a whole new breed of car, and, of course, the avant-garde Z1, the first BMW roadster for around 30 years. Set off to stunning effect by a wall of water as a backdrop, a German news magazine deemed it “probably the most photographed vehicle at the entire show”.

With so many customers desperately eager to be among the first to order a Z1, a German motoring magazine decided to try its luck at buying the Reed Green exhibit straight off the stand. But despite being offered DM 150,000 in cash, the BMW team stayed firm: it was simply not possible, as the Z1 was one of just ten test vehicles, all of which were still urgently required. Besides this, the Z1 still had to undergo homologation testing, so the roadster could not have been sold under any circumstances – not even for the two million German marks the prototype had actually cost!

And so the waiting game started – and went on for a good year, as it would be autumn 1988 before the Z1 went into production. The planned asking price was DM 80,000. In the meantime, the potential clientele could seek solace in the first sales brochure entitled “For sheer driving passion: the BMW Z1 High-Tech Roadster”.
October 1988: the Z1 – a radically different approach to development and construction.
Finally, in October 1988, the time came. Dr Wolfgang Reitzle, Member of the Board of Management responsible for Research and Development at BMW AG, saw the roadster as far more than just another new model. More importantly, it bore out the success of the innovative development structure deployed at BMW: “As a result of the newly created interdepartmental work processes that have been implemented with our Research and Technology Centre in association with Motorsport GmbH and Technik GmbH, BMW now has unique and highly efficient instruments at its disposal for the development of new cars. The Z1 represents the first project where BMW has ventured beyond a pure vehicle project to test out and successfully employ revolutionary new approaches in this broader form.”

The Z1 truly was different from the ground up. A self-supporting monocoque construction made up of individual sheet-steel parts constituted the car’s backbone. After it had been welded together, the entire frame was hot-dip galvanised in an immersion bath. Not only did this ensure seamless corrosion protection for the monocoque, it made it substantially more rigid too: the coating of zinc that was applied acted as a connecting and supporting element, especially around panel seams and joint overlaps. The effect was an increase in the monocoque’s torsional resistance of around 25 per cent.

The second peculiarity of the Z1 bodyshell was the vehicle floor, which was bonded with the frame and partly bolted to it – and made of plastic. In collaboration with specialists from MBB – now merged into EADS – the Z1 engineers had developed a material which combined low weight with high load-bearing capacity, was immune to corrosion, safe in a collision, and produced smooth underbody contours. The solution was a combination of fibre-composite materials sandwiched together. The resulting structure of two layers of glass fibre-reinforced epoxy resin with polyurethane foam in between produced a floor assembly with a weight of just 15 kilograms.

This construction had the added advantage that the floor unit could be preassembled separately before being completely bonded with the vehicle frame as well as bolted to the steel structure at certain points. Special bracing incorporated into the sandwich structure enabled high forces to be applied in the vicinity of chassis mounting points and seat mountings, for instance. Indeed, the floor assembly increased the monocoque’s static torsional resistance by a further ten per cent when installed.

With the additional help of the high, oversized side sills and the engine mounts, this structure stood out for its exceptional strength and outstanding accident safety. A transverse tube in the dashboard area combined with the tube used to reinforce the windscreen frame to ensure highly effective protection in the event of a side-on collision, too. And as the tube inserted into the windscreen frame formed a direct connection between the two A-pillars, it also doubled as roll-over protection.

New outfit in one hour flat: fully bolted outer skin of plastic panels.

Although the monocoque was roadworthy as it was, it was cloaked in plastic: indeed, the Z1 was the first model ever to feature a plastic exterior whose vertical parts were all made of injection-moulded thermoplastics. Resilient and proven to be immune to damage, the panels were bolted into place. In theory, with a complete second set of outer panels it would have been possible to convert a Z1 from red to blue in the space of an hour using nothing more than a screwdriver.

Different types of plastic were used for the panelling parts depending on their task. The front and rear sidewalls, the doors and the side sill covers were made from a high-tech thermoplastic that was renowned for its high impact strength, almost completely eliminating the risk of bumps and dents resulting from minor knocks. The panelling for the front and rear bumpers, on the other hand, possessed very different properties – the highly elastic plastic used here was able to fully regain its former shape following impacts at up to 4 km/h (2.5 mph).

The bonnet and boot lid as well as the soft-top compartment cover were made from special fibre composites. During the production of these plastic components, different glass fabrics (depending on the demands that would be placed on the component), foam core sections as well as the necessary fastenings, such as bolts and braces, were placed into the mould in a dry state. Once the mould had been closed, epoxy resin was injected into it and compressed while being subjected to carefully controlled temperature sequences. Components manufactured in this way combined excellent surface quality and high strength with precisely defined energy absorption in the event of an accident. Despite these advantages, the BMW engineers acknowledged that “it would appear impossible in the foreseeable future to use a larger amount of plastic for making the exterior of mass-produced vehicles”.

Special paintwork system with three different degrees of hardness.

The four possible paint finishes for the Z1 were not mere colours bearing the highly descriptive names of nature Green metallic, Dream Black metallic, Fun Yellow and Top Red, their chemical composition was different too. Development work carried out in collaboration with the suppliers had led to the creation of the Varioflex paintwork system, which catered to all the requirements when applying the paint to different plastic materials.

The conventional painting techniques for metal at that time hardly placed any special requirements on the paint in terms of its flexibility, as it was relatively easy to obtain a high surface gloss and keep the colour consistent. Due to the differing requirements depending on the specific component involved, the various plastic materials used on the BMW Z1, on the other hand, called for a paintwork system offering three different levels of flexibility: high flexibility for the bumper and side sill panelling, medium flexibility for the doors and wings, and a hard coating of paint – just like on a metal body – for the bonnet, boot lid and soft-top cover. While all components received the same base coat providing the actual colour of the car, the parts were then painted with different clear coats, depending on the degree of elasticity required.

Unequalled even today: vertical sliding doors.

Viewed from the outside, the Z1 therefore had all the makings of a sophisticated-looking, but ultimately conventional roadster – if it hadn’t been for its doors. These retracted electrically into the side sills, allowing both driver and passenger to cruise along with the door open if they wished, a feature which has never been emulated since. “The car is so low and the flanks so deep that the driver of the new model is able to effortlessly pluck sweet clover, plantains and other ground-hugging greenery from the wayside by simply leaning out,” as one news magazine reported. What’s more, this particularly refreshing form of travel was both perfectly safe and legal into the bargain thanks to the ample side protection provided by the high sills.

The mechanism for the doors and side windows was driven by two electric motors and a toothed belt. The motors incorporated a freewheel function to allow the doors and windows to be operated manually if necessary. To avoid burdening the actual door with additional weight, all of the electrical and mechanical components were integrated in the car’s body. A double mechanical lock acting on the doors in both opened and closed position prevented rattling noise and excessive door movement while driving. The side windows could, of course, be lowered separately from the doors: after the doors had been opened and closed again, the windows automatically returned to their previous position.

Sports car devoid of wings and spoilers: a paragon of aerodynamic design.

The Z1’s appearance belied its true sporting talents. Originally conceived as an automotive test laboratory, outstanding aerodynamics had been a top priority for development. The aim was to meet these targets without using the customary aerodynamic aids at that time such as spoilers and wings; instead, the basic shape of the vehicle itself, including the underbody, was intended to achieve the desired results.

The very flat front end of the Z1, the smooth transitions on its bonnet and the windscreen raked at an angle of 62° provided all the right ingredients for a smooth flow of air along the top of the car. The vehicle’s perfectly smooth underbody formed a virtually continuous surface extending from the front end through to the rear axle. The underside of the vehicle rose slightly towards the rear in the form of a diffuser, thereby directing the airflow at the transverse rear silencer, which was shaped in the form of a wing to help reduce rear axle lift substantially.

The car’s looks made no secret of the fact that it was something quite special. After all, one of the highlights of the innovative Z1 concept was an up-to-date and highly attractive interpretation of the roadster concept. It marked a departure from the long, elongated shape of classic roadsters, featuring instead short overhangs as well as a compact overall length relative to its wheelbase. The joints along the side panels were quite different from the conventional design at that time. The new door concept produced a wide, joint-free side sill with an elevated entrance height, with the upper edge of the bumpers and side sills forming a continuous line. The Z1 was tapered in around the doors, giving the wings a broad and flared appearance that was reminiscent of the M3. The BMW kidney grille also sported an updated look, as it was fully integrated in the front bumper’s contours, making it look smaller and more compact.

The new BMW roadster’s interior appointments were highly functional in nature but, above all, very upmarket: the seats and door panels were all trimmed in new high-class materials combined with fine leather. The low-slung seating position, bulky transmission tunnel and wide sills called for a new technical concept for the Z1 seats, so the roadster was fitted with bucket-shaped all-foam seats affording the high levels of lateral support needed to be able to put the sports car’s outstanding cornering abilities to the test. Plastic shells painted to match the car’s colour enveloped the seat backrest, which had the headrest integrated into its outline. The driver’s seat was height adjustable, and the passenger seat could be tilted forward to make better use of the through-loading facility.

Low centre of gravity, broad stance: “supreme driving pleasure”.

The powertrain and chassis of the Z1 were largely inherited from the 3 Series. Hard at work under the bonnet was the classic BMW straight-six engine, which mustered 170 hp from its 2.5-litre displacement and was fitted in a front-mid position. A central aluminium tube ran from the five-speed manual gearbox to the rear differential to produce a torsionally and flexurally rigid link between the two. The single-joint spring-strut front axle taken from the 3 Series handled the task of wheel location at the front, but a brand new construction was employed at the rear: a multi-link axle comprising two transverse control arms and one longitudinal control arm. It was dubbed the “Z-axle” in German, which was shorthand for “centrally guided, spherical double-wishbone axle” rather than a reference to the new model’s name. The kinematic arrangement of the three control arms ensured excellent directional stability as well as effective anti-squat and anti-dive control. This configuration endowed the Z1 with go-kart-like handling characteristics, with the axle load split in the ratio 49:51 and the vehicle’s centre of gravity located some ten centimetres lower than on comparable sedan models.

As a result, the Z1 was truly in its element as it wound its way along the twisting country roads of Central Italy around Punta Ala, earning it unanimous praise. It was deemed to offer “supreme driving pleasure” and revered as a “textbook driver’s car”. As the assembled international car testers at the presentation noted to their surprise, not even the poorer roads could trouble the chassis or provoke any tangible body torsion. The Z1 had a top speed of 225 km/h (140 mph) and could dart to 100 km/h (62 mph) from stationary in just under eight seconds. “For the Z1 driver, it is not the sheer performance that makes the compact car so appealing,” as one well-known tester reported, “rather it is the way in which this most irrational of all BMW models drives. Nimble like a go-kart, instantaneous throttle response, goes round bends as if it’s on rails – it fits the driver like a glove, making it so much fun to drive! The sensation generated by the raw motoring experience is further heightened by the fact that you are virtually sitting out in the open air – it’s like a motorcycle on four wheels.” The verdict: “It’s one of the most fun cars we’ve ever driven, and that’s the absolute truth.” And there was certainly no doubting the exceptional nature of the BMW roadster either. As one news magazine summed up: “It is the most extraordinary BMW since the days of the one-door Isetta with its entrance between the front wheels.”

The price for the Z1 had by now climbed to DM 83,000, but in no way did that deter the buyers. Some 4,000 orders had already been placed, meaning the Z1 was already sold out until the end of 1990. And when the first production models rolled off the assembly line in early 1989, sales contracts that were ready for delivery were already being advertised in newspapers for a premium of DM 20,000.

Cult car and trendsetter: star of a virtual film, Art Car – and first in the line of BMW Z sports cars.
The roadster’s destiny as a cult car and trendsetter was etched into its cutting-edge monocoque. The advertising campaign culminated in the first fully computer-animated product film from BMW, which featured a real-life couple in an actual Z1 gliding through a virtual world for five and a half minutes – wearing, of course, the original soft white leather balaclavas that BMW had specially made for the Z1. In the autumn of 1990, BMW Motorsport GmbH offered the first “Z1 adventure tour” to the south of France, comprising an all-inclusive experience that would be enjoyed “with kindred spirits and in the most exclusive style”: three days in the south of France, a flight in a helicopter, powering around the Paul Ricard grand prix circuit near Marseilles with a chance for participants to hone their driving skills, staying in smart sport hotels. The total price of DM 3,500 even included the Z1 that was provided for the event. A few months later, in spring 1991, the artist A.R. Penck adorned a Top Red Z1 with black graffiti, thereby adding a new member to the legendary series of Art Cars. Another bright red Z1 was destined to stay in the garage though: a roadster boasting a wide, sporty chassis and an uprated engine under the bonnet, the Z1 M was a prototype model from Motorsport GmbH sporting muscular wheel arches, a low-slung front end and twin headlights. Two air scoops arched behind the head restraints, and sitting atop either side of the deep rear apron were two pairs of circular rear lights. In short, the graceful roadster had been transformed into a beefy racer.

After a run of 8,000 BMW Z1 models, production came to an end in June 1991. It had breathed life back into a segment in the BMW portfolio which continues to enjoy immense popularity today: two-seater sports cars with a Z as their distinguishing letter. The small number that were made, the unique overall design concept and, not least, the tremendous driving pleasure it generated have today earned the Z1 a place amongst the modern classics of BMW automotive history. 25 years on, these cars still have a futuristic look about them and are still in active service: at least one Z1 has a certified mileage of over 330,000 kilometres (205,000 miles). The future never grows old.

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Friday, 1 June 2012

BMW M3 and M5 M Performance Editions

The new BMW M3 and M5 M Performance Editions 

BMW Individual comes to two M models

Two exclusive new M Performance Editions for the BMW M3 and BMW M5 are being built by BMW M GmbH solely for the UK market. Just thirty of each model will be available costing £74,080 OTR for the M3 M Performance Edition and the M5 M Performance Edition is priced at £95,140 OTR.

Showcasing BMW Individual, these M Performance Editions will bring three new Frozen paint colours to the UK for the first time; BMW Individual Japan Red with a Frozen Red wrap, BMW Individual Frozen White and BMW Individual Frozen Blue.  All are on sale now. To complement the striking exterior colours, all M5 M Performance Editions come with Full Black Merino leather upholstery and all M3 M Performance Editions come with extended Black Novillo leather upholstery, both with contrasting Mugello Red, Lotus White or Tobago Blue stitching as standard.

Floor mats with contrast piping, an Alcantara steering wheel, BMW Individual Piano Black interior trim with a ‘One of 30’ laser cut designation, front headrests with M stitching and door sills with ‘BMW M Performance Edition’ designation complete the look of the interior.

The new BMW M3 M Performance Edition features BMW’s class-leading 420hp V8 engine with power transferred to the road via a standard seven-speed M DCT transmission and variable M differential. The car also comes with the Competition Package as standard, which features 10mm lowered suspension, Electronic Damper Control with Sport mode and a revised DSC+ system.

Additionally, the BMW M3 M Performance Edition boasts an array of extra standard equipment including; 19-inch M Y-spoke Matt Black alloy wheels, Dark Chrome exhaust, side gills and kidney surround, jet black bonnet intakes, carbon-fibre front splitters, high-gloss Shadowline exterior trim, folding exterior mirrors and sun protection glass to complement its unique exterior.  Adaptive headlights, DAB digital radio, a Harman/Kardon 13-loudspeaker system, BMW Professional Media Package, mobile application preparation, telephone USB audio interface and Internet add to the M3’s practicality. While the sliding front armrest, front seat heating and front and rear Park Distance Control complete the package. The extensive list of equipment, now standard, is worth £9,790.

The new BMW M5 M Performance Edition features BMW’s latest 560hp TwinPower Turbo V8 engine complete with race-bred chassis technology including an Active M differential and electronic damping control.  Combining track-car dynamics with supreme touring comfort, the new BMW M5 M Performance Edition includes £22,075 worth of additional equipment as standard. 

For this added value 20-inch M Double-spoke Matt Black alloy wheels, Dark Chrome exhaust, side gills and kidney surround, M Sport multi-function seats with lumbar support, powered bootlid operation, sun protection glass, split-folding rear seats, comfort access and soft close doors add to the already impressive standard equipment list. A reversing assist camera, High-beam assistant, Internet, BMW Professional 12-loudspeaker system, telephone USB audio interface, mobile application preparation and speed limit display complete this exclusive model.

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