Tuesday, July 22, 2008

New Z4

Over at Auto Express they have a rendering of the next generation Z4 that looks spot on. This looks to be an excellent design and hopefully the real thing will look just as good if not better. 

With the release of the new 7, and these shots of the forthcoming Z4 we are getting a peek at what Bangle 2.0 will look like. I have to say, the future looks bright.

The first Bangle era designs were a shock to the system, none more dramatic than the Z4. It took me some time to get used to these changes, and still wasn't convinced by the duck-tailed Z4. I took a liking to the 7er (though the taillights weren't completely resolved, IMO), was quite impressed with the new 5er when seen in person, but still not quite a fan of the Z4.

The more I saw, however, the more I liked. It was much more of a three dimensional design, it was like sculpture. Every time I saw one I found a new twist, nuance, or connection of one line to the next. I started to see the whole picture and I finally caved and got one. Looking at it every day I'd see something new. It was low, lean, mean, and a lot of fun to drive. I had a couple quibbles; like the turn signals, taillights, and road noise. But all in all I liked the design.

The renderings of the new Z4 show BMW design to have moved from shock to awe. They have taken the original concept and have refined the lines, giving it more of an athletic look. Per all the second generation Bangle era designs, the sheet metal is pulled tight over a muscular frame.

I like it. Few manufacturers have been able to replicate these forms thus keeping BMW distinct from the wannabes.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

3 Series Refresh

BMW has released official photos of the 3 Series refresh. For the most part this is the typical fascia change, headlamp eye lift, and taillamp correction that is to be expected at mid-production. This is usually accompanied by some minor engine updates and some new wheel designs. This time around another small change has been made, and to me it makes all the difference.

When the first of this latest generation 3er hit the shores it was a car I really had to try to like. At first the changes looked to be merely cosmetic, with the greenhouse between the previous generation E46 and the new E90 looking almost identical. I was lucky enough to see the outgoing sedan and the new kid on the block side by side. There was no looking back from that point. The E90 looked much more athletic than its predecessor. It has taken quite a while to get used to the new headlamp covers and I still haven't warmed to the pinched taillights.

With the refresh the headlamp covers have been refined, smoothing out the lines, and the taillights have been changed over to LEDs and have lost some of their angry eye persona. While the new taillight configuration has a smoother flow, it lacks the same resolution of lines as the angry eyes. Neither solution has the elegance of the L-shaped arrangement on the E-46 that was also a hallmark of that generation of BMWs.

The small change has to do with the rear track, it has been widened slightly. To me this makes all the difference in the world. For some reason the rear wheels of the original E90 always looked to recede too much into the wheel wells. You know how a spare tire donut just looks wrong in the wheel well? That something, and you're not sure what at first, just looks off? That's the way it looked like to me. While the tucked in wheels might have shaved 0.02 off the drag coefficient, the aesthetics made the rear axle look like it was broken. The E90 M3, with it's wider rear rubber, looked better in a boy racer kind of way. The new E90, however, with its slightly wider rear track looks just right.

It also looks like BMW has upped the ante on the interior, as well. It's about time, they've been getting pwned by Mercedes and Audi for far too long. Considering these marques are inferior to BMW this is inexcusable. Mixing woods, light and dark surfaces, and textures has really paid off on the new interiors. Hopefully these new themes will cross the pond and make it to our shores.

Overall I must say I'm quite pleased with the latest refresh. After owning several BMWs (328i, Z4, M5) and having long term use of others in the stable (X3, 740iL) I must say the may favorite was the 3er. It's the right size for city driving and comfortable enough on long drives. Its sporting nature is easy to tap into when you want it, and cradle you in the lap of luxury when the pace slows. While the 5er is great for touring, and the 7er is unbeatable for long hauls, the 3er is the model the really straddles the gap between pure sports car and grand touring sedan. It is the quintessential BMW. I'm glad they didn't screw it up.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Launch of BMW Diesels in US Delayed?

Over at BMWBlog they have photos of the upcoming 335d, and are looking to confirm or deny rumors of delay in its US launch date. 

I’ve been eagerly anticipating the arrival of the 335d ever since it was announced. However, in the time that has since transpired the cost of diesel has skyrocketed past that of even premium gas. The modest increase in economy over the 335i means total cost per mile will be more for the 335d. Unless that equation changes dramatically before the diesel’s American debut it will be a flop. Those that make their own biodiesel, however, will be undeterred. This car is perfect for the DIY crowd.

No doubt the bean counters at BMW have figured this out and may be hedging their bets with a delayed launch allowing more time for a potential correction in the cost of diesel relative to gas in the USA. Hindsight being 20/20 it might have been better for BMW to bring over the more efficient 320d. If they were concerned about sullying their hard earned luxury image in North America they could have imported the Aplina D3 Biturbo!