Tuesday, May 8, 2007


Coming hot on the heels of our recent test of the M5, our brief time with the 2006 BMW M6 was especially enjoyable as we had already learned enough of the Sequential Manual Gearbox's behavior to really tap into the M6's performance. The same basic drivetrain powers both cars: an operatic 500-horsepower 5-liter V10 engine coupled to the seven-speed SMG. Performance in both cars is startling but kept doable with stability control, adjustable damping, and numerous engine and transmissions modes. The M5 actually has the better drag coefficient of the two, but the M6 evens out any performance edge with a slight weight advantage.

The M6 looks distinctly more purposeful than a regular 6 series. As with most current BMWs, styling is a controversial issue, and the rear end of the M6 makes an easy target: in our time with the car we heard it compared with a bathtub and a tramp's hat. This 6-series doesn't live up to the previous generation's design, but the no-nonsense treatment given to the 2006 M6 is an improvement to our eyes. The standard 19-inch wheels are an especially bold upgrade, with a thin five-spoke design showing off the brake hardware.

BMW provides a comprehensive roster of technophile goodies, most of which we've seen in other BMWs: iDrive is the now-familiar--if unloved--main cabin control interface; Bluetooth integration is offered along with voice control of other interior systems; and the same split-screen navigation setup we've always liked is standard.

Major options include the heads-up display ($1,000) that we saw in the M5, Sepang Merino leather ($3,500), comfort access ($1,000), high-definition radio ($500), and carbon-fiber interior trim ($300). With a stiff gas guzzler penalty of $3,000 and the $695 destination charge, our M6 stickered for a whopping total of $106,690.

Comfort of 2006 BMW M6

The 2006 BMW M6 is performance-oriented, but passengers are treated well as they fly along--as well they should be in a coupe in this price range. As in the 2006 BMW M5, the full leather option in our M6 impressed us with the material and the degree of coverage. Our M6's carbon-fiber interior trim, however, left us rather cold. The dark mesh of the trim lacked the warmth of the wood trim we'd seen in the M5, especially against the light-hued seats, dash, and console. The carbon fiber does make a nice reminder of the lightweight roof panel overhead, but most buyers will probably forgo the interior trim.

The BMW M6's optional carbon-fiber interior left us cold.

The M6 we tested also lacked the $1,900 multifunction seat option, making do with the standard heated front seats and their 16-way power adjustments, including lumbar and thigh support. The seat-cooling option was not present in our M6, which we missed, but we were just fine without the gee-whiz active bolstering of the seats in the M5. Support was very good and with the power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, getting comfortable was easy. The main gauges are large and clear, with a digital information display between them. The optional heads-up display shows a virtual tachometer, current gear and speed, and warning messages where the driver can see them while maintaining a view of the road ahead.

We noted in the M5 how difficult it is for the driver to reach the six-CD magazine located in the glove box, which augments the single-disc slot in the dash. In the M6, a slightly wider center console makes it all but impossible. And we felt slightly claustrophobic in the M6, which is almost four inches shorter than the M5. Headroom was adequate yet we still felt cramped, possibly due to having been in the M5 immediately before.

A large center console makes for a snug ride but poses a significant obstacle to loading CDs in the glove box-mounted magazine.

In terms of layout and space, the interior reminded us of the Porsche 928, a car which also seemed to fit tighter than the overall size would suggest. As in the 928, the M6's rear seats are for small children only. A ski pass-through from the spacious trunk is standard.

Interior electronic systems all performed as we've come to expect. The navigation system plots routes and zooms speedily--zooming being one rare setting for which the iDrive dial is the perfect controller. Voice control for the audio, navigation, and Bluetooth systems was effective. The same top-notch audio system we saw in the M5 is again standard, and Sirius satellite radio is a $595 option. The M6 is also equipped with high-definition radio for an additional $500.

Bluetooth hands-free calling comes as standard on the M6, and we had no problem hooking up our phone to make calls.

The comfort access option allows entry and engine-starting with the key pocketed. Numerous other lighting and central locking options are controllable with iDrive, as is the automatic air recirculation system. Climate control requires some iDrive use for setting airflow, but there are dedicated controls for fan speed and temperature for both front seating positions.

Performance of 2006 BMW M6

The 2006 BMW M6 features one of the most potent production-car engines currently available. Thanks to individual throttle bodies for each of the 10 cylinders, an oversquare bore-to-stroke ratio and steplessly variable valve-timing, the 5-liter unit revs with amazing ease. Power is always available, and mashing the throttle to hear the ensuing bark and crescendo from the four big exhaust outlets becomes addictive. As we noted in our M5 review, the production of 100 horsepower-per-liter of displacement without forced induction is impressive in 2-liter engines such as the VTEC four-cylinder engines found in Honda and Acura models; the same relative output, along with an 8,000rpm redline in a 5-liter V10 is almost magical.

The M6 shares its monstrous 500-horsepower V-10 engine with the 2006 BMW M5.

Acceleration is rated by BMW at 4.5 seconds from 0 to 60mph, the same as for the M5. The M6 is about 100 pounds lighter than the M5, thanks mainly to the carbon-fiber roof panel, a first for a production car, and this--along with the resultant lower center of gravity--makes the M6 feel slightly more responsive.

The main obstacle facing an eager M5 or M6 driver is the unorthodox SMG transmission. Novices must endure lots of hesitant starts and head-bobbing low-speed shifts, but with practice things can be smoothed out for creeping around town. SMG really shines when the most is being asked of it, and of course pushing the M6 this hard on public roads draws attention. Our test car's Interlagos Blue Metallic paint turned heads everywhere we went, and this color is potentially license-threatening when driving the M6 at anywhere approaching its potential.

Among the buttons on the M6's thick M-stitched steering wheel is the M-Drive toggle, which instantly configures the electronic damping control, transmission and engine modes, dynamic stability control, and heads-up display to the driver's preset settings. The purest modes for the engine (P500 Sport, giving 500 horsepower and the crispest throttle response) and transmission (Sport 6 for ultrafast upshifts) are available only with M-Drive activated. Stability control can be completely defeated for sideways shenanigans, but is probably best left in M mode, where some wheel spin is allowed. Speed-sensitive variable-assist steering with a special M-Dynamic mode provides excellent feel and feedback over all road conditions.

The steering wheel-mounted M button activates the M6's optimum performance settings.

Despite our gradual embrace of SMG in the M5 and then the M6, we are relieved to hear that BMW plans to offer a standard six-speed manual with the 2007 M5. Under full throttle, SMG shifts faster and cleaner than most people can match and blips the throttle automatically for perfectly rev-matched downshifts every time. But its foibles can be frustrating under normal conditions, and many buyers will opt for the direct feel and familiarity of the six-speed. Hopefully, the M6 will also get the choice--perhaps when the recently announced convertible debuts for the 2008 model year.

While EPA fuel economy ratings are the same for both the M5 and M6 at 12mpg in the city and 18mpg highway, the M6's slightly better combined rating saves it $700 in gas-guzzler tax over the M5.

Design of 2006 BMW M6

The 2006 BMW M6 has yet to be crash-test rated by the NHTSA, but safety features abound. Park Distance Control is standard, and while no rear view camera option is available, it is effective enough with its overhead view of the car, color-coded intrusion zones, and progressive proximity audio warnings. Adaptive headlights are also standard on the xenon beams, as is dynamic automatic leveling.

BMW's radar-based Park Distance Control gives a color-coded overhead pictogram of any obstacles close to the car's bumpers.

Tire-pressure monitoring is standard, as expected with this level of performance. The rain-sensing wipers weren't called for during our week with the car, but the system worked very well in the 550i we tested previously.

Dual-stage, dual-threshold "smart" airbags protect both front occupants, with door-mounted side-impact bags also standard. A head protection system covers both front and rear passengers, and interlocking door anchors improve crashworthiness in side impacts. Serious collisions trigger the disconnection of alternator, fuel pump, and starter from the battery and also unlock the doors and turn on the hazard and interior lights.

BMW's standard new-vehicle warranty is good for 4 years or 50,000 miles, with all scheduled maintenance included. Roadside assistance is also provided during this period. Rust-through protection covers the body for a period of 12 years.


The 2006 BMW M5 is a tech-savvy speed freak's dream come true. Its Formula One-bred engine, which has collected two consecutive International Engine of the Year awards, is the most delectable bit, with the seven-speed sequential manual gearbox (SMG) and various chassis control systems complementing the power to provide truly awesome performance.

The transmission does take some getting used to and still occasionally confounded us even after considerable seat time in both the M5 and the M6, but with experience and an understanding of the manual vs. automatic settings, a smooth drive is possible. Clearly, though, the SMG is most effective and transparent when pushed very hard, and given the M5's performance potential, this is impossible on public roads.

Visually, the M5 doesn't set itself apart too dramatically from the current non-M 5 series upon which it's based, but is discernable by larger standard wheels; front, side, and rear lower body enhancements; more aerodynamic side mirrors; four chrome-tipped exhaust outlets; and a side vent adorned with an M logo ahead of each front door. In darker colors, such as the Indianapolis Red Metallic of our test car, the effect is positive: the car looks purposeful, but it didn't draw much attention from other drivers or passersby.

With a base MSRP of $81,200, the V10-engined M5 is still something of a performance bargain, as the engine alone is uniquely valuable both as a power plant and for bragging rights ("yeah, but your Ford GT doesn't rev to 8,000rpm"). As usual, generous ticking of the BMW options list takes a toll, and with major options such as Sepang Bronze Perforated Leather ($3,500), multifunction seats ($1,900), a heads-up display ($1,000), and comfort access ($1,000), the total runs to a hefty $94,965, including a $695 destination charge.

Comfort of 2006 BMW M5

Sitting in the 2006 BMW M5 for the first time and taking an initial look around at the trim and controls, little is different than in other modern BMWs. The main gauges, iDrive controller, hooded navigation screen, and climate controls are nothing new. But looking closer, clues emerge as to the more serious nature of this particular M5.

The steering wheel is thick and stitched with three-colored thread matching the M logo colors. The SMG gear selector isn't a giveaway, as it's available in other BMWs, but some of the buttons in a row behind it are new. Two of them control the multifunction seats. These feature adjustable side bolsters that can be set to react in concert with vehicle dynamics, with the outside bolster "gripping" the seat's occupant during hard cornering (a system called "active bolstering"). Our car's front seats were also heated (standard) and cooled (an $800 option) through their full leather. The seats are comfortable and provide plenty of side bolstering at their regular setting; active bolstering is an interesting novelty but can be distracting while driving.

The $1,000 comfort access option allows entering and starting the vehicle without using the key fob, a worthwhile convenience we've appreciated in all test cars that have come so equipped. With the foot on the brake and the SMG lever in neutral, a tap of the Start/Stop button brings the V10 to life. iDrive allows customization of entry/exit options such as how long exterior pathway lighting stays on following exiting the car, the central locking sequence, whether the car beeps and/or flashes upon locking or unlocking, and all manner of other minor options.

iDrive again proves something of a double-edged sword, as we and others have previously noted ad nauseam. It offers simplicity and elegance of design but also requires too much effort for minor control modifications.

Despite being in its second generation, iDrive still proves to be something of a challenge.

Overall, the premium sound system leaves little to be desired, with Logic7 surround, a six-disc changer in the glove box, and a single-CD slot in the dash, 13 speakers including 2 subwoofers and digital sound processing. No provision is made for factory integration with auxiliary audio components, but iPod adapters are available from dealers. Sound is strong and adjustment options are effective, with three main modes (normal, concert hall, and theater). One complaint was that the CD magazine in the glove box is tucked far up and out of sight, where it is all but unreachable by someone sitting in the driver's seat at full stretch, let alone while driving.

Bluetooth hands-free cell phone integration is standard as part of the BMW Assist package. We were unable to get a Motorola Razr to pair with the car by digging around in the iDrive, but by using voice commands, other testers reported easy pairing and solid call quality on outgoing and incoming calls thereafter. As with other BMWs, a list of approved phones recommended for use with the car is available.

The voice control system also proved effective in controlling the navigation system, although inputting destinations requires the use of iDrive. Storing names and phone numbers using voice commands is straightforward. The menu displays on the main nav screen are as crisp and readable as those we've enjoyed on other BMW systems, with enough processing power to eliminate any delays in menu switching and map zooming.

BMW's GPS navigation is easy to read and fast at calculating routes and able to plot destination by a mixture of voice commands and iDrive inputs.

The heads-up display is slightly different from the one we saw previously in the 550i. This version includes a tachometer depiction showing green, yellow, and red areas of an arc that wraps around the number indicating the current gear, so shifts can be executed at maximum revs without having to glance down at the main tach. As with the earlier heads-up display, current speed is also displayed, along with any vehicle warning messages. There is also an M mode that displays only the gear and the revs. The use of this mode is customizable as part of the M-Drive settings.

The M5's heads-up display includes a virtual tachometer as well as information on current speed and gear.

Satellite radio prep remains, alas, a $595 option in even the priciest BMWs. Sirius is BMW's provider of choice, and we noticed more drops and skips in the signal in both the M5 and M6 than we remember from either satellite system in any car we've tested previously, although we were driving in hilly and/or downtown conditions much of the time.

A glass moonroof and pull-up sunshades on the rear windows are standard on the M5. A power sunshade for the rear glass is another pricey option ($575) but proved useful during some unusually warm summer weather between San Francisco and the Monterey peninsula. Also helping keep things cool in the cockpit is parked-car operation of the ventilation system, customizable to blow warm air out of the interior at set times while the car is unattended.

Performance of 2006 BMW M5

The engine in the 2006 M5 is a mechanical and technological tour de force. Rated at a maximum of 500 horsepower at 7,750rpm and 383 pound-feet of torque at 6,100rpm, it certainly produces prodigious power, but the engine's willingness to rev is the most startling aspect of the experience.

With five liters of displacement, continuously, or "steplessly," variable timing on 40 valves, and electronically controlled throttle bodies feeding each cylinder individually, there's a lot of precise hardware to get working in tandem, yet response is immediate and the M5's V10 pulls to beyond 8,000rpm.

A five-liter, 40-valve V-10 engine gives the M5 awesome power.

We thought that 8,000rpm was an impressive redline for the two-liter fours in the Acura RSX Type-S and Honda Civic Si; in this car it borders on astounding. A very cool touch is the variable redline indicator, which moves around the outside rim of the tachometer, starting at about 6,500rpm when the engine is dead cold and moving to its fully ready position around 8,000rpm once the engine warms up.

The single biggest control difference between the M5 and any other 5-series is a very small button among the other steering-wheel controls, called the M-Drive toggle. M-Drive is a catch-all mode representing the custom settings of six other systems: the SMG, electronic damping control, dynamic stability control, engine power mode, active bolstering, and the heads-up display (the last two if applicable).

In practice, all this translates to a means of instantly switching into hooligan mode and back to normal at the press of a button, and we loved it. iDrive itself might benefit from more control logic of this type. We know the point is to make everything controllable through one knob, but the star-symbol button on the steering wheel below the M-Drive button can be customized to perform one iDrive task, and a couple other buttons like this would be nice.

The M-Drive setting allows drivers of the M5 to switch into hooligan mode at the touch of a button.

There is simply power and torque available everywhere up and down the rev range, enough to overwhelm the tires in the first three gears if you're daring enough to disable the dynamic stability control. And of course, you are, because this is the only way to get the transmission into Sport mode 6 for the quickest shifts. With this mode selected, the electronic damping set to Sport, and the engine in P500 Sport mode where it produces 500 horsepower and extra-quick throttle response, the M5 assumes its purest form and the results are breathtaking.

Full throttle shifts are lightning-quick with no chassis disruption, and SMG earns its keep. Downshifts are accompanied by an attention-getting throttle blip, which either amuses or impresses most people when rolling to a city stop but definitely helps maintain stability and avoid any unsettling wheel spin in fast midcorner changes. With seven forward gears to choose from (an industry first for a clutch-shifted production-car transmission), so many shift programs available, and unflappable grip at any reasonable speed, getting to know the M5 is a pleasure indeed.

For more sedate driving, however, the M-Drive button is pressed again, and the standard P400 (400 horsepower) engine setting is reengaged along with the other dynamic settings in their prior places. In slower driving and finesse maneuvers such as parking and hill starts, SMG can become a nuisance if the driver isn't used to it (and yes, sometimes even if the driver is). The expectation is that putting the transmission into Drive mode at the least sporty setting will make it behave like a normal automatic, but instead, shifts are prolonged and very noticeable at anything but the lightest throttle inputs, and booting the throttle at the wrong time can produce a seriously unpleasant kick in the back.

We found that the smoothest around-town driving was realized with the transmission in a midrange mode (it automatically resets to mode 3 of the 5 normal modes each time the car is started), and that shifts can be smoothed out by using the throttle as if driving a conventional manual, that is, letting off briefly while declutching happens and encouraging shifts this way. Parking takes some practice, as it can feel frustrating to goose the accelerator and wonder if your electronic friend is going to slip the clutch a little at the right time. Concrete walls and curbs loom large when still learning to feather the throttle to good effect. Hill starts are much simpler, as a depression of the left-hand shifter paddle will automatically hold the brakes on an incline for about a second before the car begins to roll backward--plenty of time to move onto the throttle and get underway. This worked fine on some steep San Francisco streets, although maintaining uphill momentum once underway was a skill we never quite mastered. A quick flick into Sport (sequential) mode would solve this, of course.

Braking is similarly impressive, with the standard 19-inch wheels providing room for four cross-drilled and vacuum-ventilated discs with ABS. Fuel gets consumed about as quickly as expected, with the trip computer reporting between 12mpg and 13mpg during our week's driving, against the EPA estimates of 12mpg in the city and 18mpg highway. Your $94,965 also therefore includes a (deep breath) $3,700 gas guzzler tax, so you might as well enjoy it, right?

Design of 2006 BMW M5

BMW provides the usual array of standard safety features to protect the occupants in the event of a mishap. No government crash-test ratings are available for the M5. Front dual-stage dual-threshold "smart" airbags with passenger detection are standard, as are door-mounted front side airbags and a front and rear head-protection system. An interlocking door anchoring system provides extra protection against side impacts. In a serious impact, major electrical components are disconnected from the battery, the hazard and interior lights are activated, and the doors are unlocked.

Park-distance control is standard, showing BMW's usual overhead pictogram of the car with auditory warnings and glowing onscreen zones indicating the general position of objects behind. With the navigation system standard on the M5, BMW could also pair the monitor with a real rear-facing camera, but this system is mostly effective and can be configured a bit with iDrive or switched off completely with a dashboard button.

The M5 comes with BMW's latest color-coded park-distance control interface as standard.

Dynamic stability control, an all-season traction system and a variable differential lock improve handling and assure grip in bad weather conditions. Antilock brakes are standard, with adaptive brake lights that light up more brightly under sudden heavy braking. Adaptive autoleveling headlights and rain-sensing wipers, which impressed us in our test of the 550i, are also standard. A tire-pressure monitoring system alerts the driver to drops in psi at each corner and is calibrated via iDrive.

BMW offers its usual four-year/50,000 mile warranty on the 2006 M5, extendable by original owners to six years/100,000 miles for mechanical breakdown coverage. Also included for four years or 50,000 miles is all scheduled maintenance and replacement of wear items, though presumably not tires. Rust-through coverage is for 12 years.

BMW Z4 Series

The BMW Z4 is a rear-wheel drive sports car by the German automaker BMW, known as the E85 in roadster form and E86 in coupe form. Production started in 2002, and thus replaced the BMW Z3. The design addresses many criticisms of the Z3; the Z4 is larger, more powerful, and has a significantly stiffer chassis. It is built in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Initially, the Z4 was available only as a roadster, but in 2006 a coupé version was officially launched.

The Z4 was designed by Chris Bangle and began the controversy over his "flame surfacing" design and aggressive styling choices, which can also be seen on most modern BMW cars, most noticeably the 7 Series and 5 Series. As of 2006, the entire BMW car line, including the BMW 3 Series, had incorporated Chris Bangle's design theme.

The Z4 features a strut type front suspension like its precessor, the Z3. The rear suspension, however is considerably different from that of the Z3, which was based on that of the E30 BMW 3 Series. Instead of a semi-trailing arm suspension, the Z4 uses a more advanced multi-link suspension.


The Z4 offers a choice of four straight-six motors: A 2.2 L, a 2.5 L, a 3.0 L, and a 3.2 L. All are variants of the BMW M54 engine. In the European market, a 2.0 L straight-4 is also offered.

The 2.2 L, 120 kW (170 bhp) version can reach 100 km/h in 7.7 s, but is not sold in the United States.

The 2.5 L engine produces 141 kW (192 bhp) at 6000 rpm. BMW claims a 6.8 s time to 100 km/h (62 mph) with a manual transmission. It weighs 1,335 kg (2,932 lb) with a manual transmission—30 kg (66 lb) lighter than the 3.0 L version, but still heavier than the 2.5 L Z3's weight of 1315 kg (2899 lb).

The 3.0 L, 170 kW (231 bhp) (at 5900 rpm) straight six has a claimed time to 100 km/h (62 mph) of 5.9 s.

The 3.2 L motor produces 246 kW (330 bhp) at 7900 rpm and (262 lb-ft) of torque at (4900 rpm)[1]

Five-speed manual gearboxes are standard on all models except the 3.0 L and the M Roadster, which has a 6-speed Getrag. 5-speed automatic are available on all cars. The M Roadster shares its 6-speed Getrag 217 manual gearbox with the M3. [2]

A Sport package is also available, which adds stiffer and lower suspension, larger wheels with run-flat tires, and Dynamic Driving control, BMW's Vehicle Stability Control system.
2006-2007 Z4 3.0si
2006-2007 Z4 3.0si

In 2006, BMW updated the Z4 line by installing its new N52 I-6 engines. In the 3.0si, this engine makes 255 bhp and 220 lb-ft of torque. The N52 features magnesium block construction and BMW's Valvetronic variable valve timing system. Although the new engines represent a modest upgrade in peak power over the M54, they are considerably more powerful through the middle of the rev range, and also improve fuel economy noticeably. A final benefit of the N52 engines (the lightest production 6-cylinder engines in the world[citation needed]) is that they improve handling and turn-in due the the decreased weight over the nose of the car. This is particularly noticeable when compared to the Z4 M, which continues with the heavier S54 iron block engine.

In addition to the powertrain updates, BMW made mild revisions to the styling of the Z4, added several electronic features, and increased the brake size on the 3.0si models.

BMW X5 Series

The BMW X5 is a mid-size luxury crossover SUV sold by BMW since 2000. It features all wheel drive and a line of straight-6 and V8 engines. For non-US models there is a 3.0 L diesel engine.


The history of the X5 begins in the late 1990s, when Chris Bangle drew the first sketches from his Designworks studio in California. In many ways, the current car closely resembles these initial sketches.

The takeover of Rover proved to be very beneficial for BMW in the development of the X5. BMW engineers were able to look and use Range Rover technology and parts in the development of the X5-one such example would be hill descent control. In many respects the X5 was also influenced designwise by its British counterpart; in this case the X5 got the two-piece tailgate straight from the Range Rover. Many parts and electronics were also taken directly from the E39 5 series parts bin to save costs.

In contrast to the Range Rover models, however, the X5 was designed as a sporting road car, and its off-road capabilities are significantly less than Land Rover products. BMW reportedly worked hard to ensure it was referred to as an SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle) instead of an SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle). When tested off road on the BBC television programme Top Gear, the test vehicle lost traction and was towed by a 1960s vintage Land Rover.

Even though the X5 was a four wheel drive vehicle, BMW chose from the start to route 60% of the engine's torque to the rear wheels, making it feel as close as possible to the company's rear-wheel drive sedans. Many reviewers commented on its road and track "feeling", and as time passed many other manufactures have caught onto this breed of SUV e.g. the Porsche Cayenne, and the Range Rover Sport which offers both sports car performance with full off-road capabilities.

The X5, along with the BMW Z4 roadster, are currently manufactured exclusively in BMW's South Carolina plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

A one-off version known as the X5 LM, equipped with the M70 S70B56 V12 engine from the Le Mans winning BMW V12 LMR, especially used by Hans Joachim Stuck to set a lap record at the Nürburgring in 2000.

2004 refresh

For 2004 the X5 was refreshed with new headlights, a few new exterior colors, a new four-wheel drive system and upgraded engines. The exterior touches kept it fresh and gave the X5 a more aggressive look. The grilles were enlarged, as well as their actual slats being modified in a 'flame surfaced' style. In keeping with the E39 refresh of 2001, the 2004 X5's headlights got "angel-eyes" (rings or halos around all front headlamps). The taillights also got an E39-style refresh treatment and the exterior glass went from a "dotted" pattern to a cleaner one of "lines". BMW invented a new four-wheel drive system dubbed xDrive shared both in the X5 and X3 in 2004. Instead of using the previous X5 system which consisted of power being split 60-40 (rear wheels-front wheels) and DSC to brake wheels losing traction, xDrive could variably cut off power to the front or rear axles in a matter of milliseconds, while transferring 100% of the engine power to either, thus allowing the vehicle to regain traction quickly.

In terms of engines, the X5 got the new 4.4i engine which debuted in the 2002 7-Series. This raised output from 290 to 315 hp (242 kW). Also from April production, a new X5 4.8is was offered (see below), giving the driver 265 kW (355 hp) and making it the 3rd fastest SUV behind the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and Range Rover Sport.

Although Porsche tried to create a genuine competitor to the X5, a lot of Cayenne owners switched to the X5 soon after buying the former.

Several new extras were added to the 2004 X5 such as:
  • Soft-boot close feature (the top part of the trunk pulls itself closed)
  • Trailer Stabilization Control
  • Adaptive Headlights (available only with xenon HID headlamps; these swivel with the direction of travel of the car)
Originally announced in the end of 2003 along with the rest of the X5 refresh, the X5 4.8is first started shipping in April 2004. In had a new larger 4.8 L engine (which replaced the 4.6 L engine), and was also later used in the 2005 750i/Li. It also included a slightly modified bodykit (parts of the bottom bumper became painted the body color), 20" wheels, and along with the 4.6is, were the only X5's ever to have a large chrome-tipped exhaust which hid the quad pipes.


Along with the rest of the BMW lineup (apart from the 7 E65 series), the X5 got Bluetooth kits straight from the factory if it was ordered with the Premium Package.

Specifically, the 4.4i & 4.8is models got xenon HID headlamps as standard equipment in the United States.


The X5 was not fitted with the new BMW R6 engine, which increased power for both the 2.5i and 3.0i versions of the 2006 X3 and Z4 significantly. It is rumored that BMW held back deploying the engine in the 2006 X5 so as not to waste development costs (retooling the assembly line), and to make way for a much more dramatic unveiling of the all new 2007 BMW X5. In fact, 2006 also marks the end of the E53 X5 as well.


The BMW E70 automobile platform is the basis for the current X5 SUV. It replaced the BMW E53 in November 2006. It features many new technological advancements including BMW's iDrive system as standard equipment and, for the first time in a BMW, an optional third row seat which has increased the seating capacity in the new X5 to 7 passengers.

The new generation BMW X5 is 60 mm wider, 165 mm longer; with a 110 mm longer wheelbase, but remains at the height of the previous generation X5 at 1715 mm. The SUV is manufactured alongside with the new, rumored, 2008 BMW X6 at BMW's Spartanburg, South Carolina plant in the USA.

The interior of the new X5 also features a completely redesigned dashboard. It will have a large center-mounted display screen and simplified iDrive. The X5 also incorporates many state of the art technological advances such as Active Steering and a reverse camera. Many were disappointed to learn that neither the BMW nightvision system nor the radar-controlled cruise-control would be offered.

The E70 has also incorporated two new engines to the X5 lineup. BMW has begun a shift of replacing engines from the 2006 7-Series. It is likely that the E70 will inherit those same powertrains later on.

Petrol models include:
  • X5 3.0si 3.0 L 260 hp (194 kW) inline-6
  • X5 4.8i 4.8 L 350 hp (261 kW) V8
Diesel models include:
  • X5 3.0d 3.0 L 232 hp (173 kW) inline-6
A future 3.5d model based on the award-winning N54 3.0 liter twin turbo is also expected once worldwide shortage of the engine has been addressed. Transmission choices differ from that offered today - 6-speed Steptronic will be offered as a standard option. Also, previous generation's xDrive AWD system continued largely unchanged into the E70. Contrary to rumors also floating around regarding the use of 7-Series Electronic Shifter, the new X5 will feature a redesigned and unique shifter all to itself and will not be used to rival the 2006 Mercedes-Benz M-Class' shifter.

The X5 is also the first production vehicle to use FlexRay, a new electrical bus system; it is only used for the pneumatic damping system.

BMW X3 Series

The BMW X3 is a compact luxury crossover SUV (though BMW advertises it as an SAV, or Sport Activity Vehicle) produced by the German automaker BMW. It is based on the BMW 3-Series automobile platform.

History and development

Along the heels of a very successful and ongoing production run of the BMW X5, BMW decided in the early millennium that it wanted to compete with the likes of the Freelander and other small luxury SUVs just as the X5 had previously done so well in its respective classes. Thus the X3 (internally known as E83), was born.

What thus emerged was a concept unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in 2003. Dubbed the xActivity, BMW previewed to the public for the first time what a smaller SAV based on a 3 Series platform would look like. The concept had no windows, for the most part no roof, and a sleek futuristic interior. Only the basic shape of the car would emerge as the BMW X3.

Just as BMW used many parts from the E39 5 Series parts bin in the making of the X5, the same occurred in the X3's development, whereby BMW engineers reused 3 series parts. In-fact complete sets of parts came straight out of the E46 330xi, emerging unscathed in the X3 (e.g. rear suspension).

Austrian automotive contractor Magna Steyr of Graz, Austria performed additional development work and has been contracted to manufacture all first-generation X3s.


When the BMW X3 premiered in late 2003, BMW announced that it would be using a new 4 wheel drive system to power it and its bigger brother - The (refreshed) X5. The two key things about xDrive are, first, it being one one of the first technologies used to intervene before the driver was ever aware that the car could be unstable, and second, it being transparent (i.e. unknown) to the driver.


Right from the start, the BMW X3 had been criticized for its harsh ride (due to the run-flat tires, which have made all new BMWs (except those that aren't fitted with them, for example some M-models) have harsh rides), poor interior quality and off-road ability. BMW addressed the first 2 points in 2005, with a slightly softer ride and by matching plastics and carpeting in the 2005 X5s. It has also been criticized for not being built at a BMW factory. However, Magna Steyer, the factory in Austria has won numerous awards for quality and is the highest rated car assembly factory in Europe.

The automotive press however for the most part had mixed views of the X3 ranging all over the spectrum - unusual for BMW, but then again not so unusual for modern BMWs. Jeremy Clarkson even said that the X3 was for people who are clinically insane after his road test of it. He also criticized it for its harsh ride, and showed the poor off-road ability in reality when he took one into a "not very tough" off-road trail. He got stuck multiple times, although he has admitted that he is not a very good off-road driver, but the trail didn't provide options for going from somewhere else, as it was basically a road with off-road trail obstacles in it.

BMW 7 Series

The BMW 7 Series is a full-size luxury vehicle produced by the German automaker BMW. It replaced the "New Six" models in 1977. It is BMW's flagship car and is only available as a sedan.

There have been four generations of the 7 Series:
  • BMW E23 (1977–1986)
  • BMW E32 (1987–1994)
  • BMW E38 (1995–2001)
  • BMW E65/E66 (2002–present)
E23 (1977–1986)

Models offered were the 725i, 728, 728i/iS, 730, 730i, 732i, 733i, 735i, 745i Turbo, 745i South Africa, and L7.

E32 (1987–1994)

The E32 was introduced in 1987, with the 730i and 735i featuring 3.0l and 3.5l straight-6 engines respectively, and a new, 5-liter, 300 horsepower V12 engine for the 750i. In 1992, 3.0l and 4.0l V8 engines were added to the lineup (730i and 740i). All models were also available in a stretched 'L' version, which had 10 cm of extra legroom for the rear passengers.

E38 (1995–2001)

The E38 generation (1995-2001) had a five-speed automatic or manual transmission. The engine variants in Europe were 725tds, 728i, 730i, 730d, 735i, 740i (4.0 and 4.4 L), 740d and 750i (with a 5.4 L 322 bhp [240 kW] engine, as was used in the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph).

In the Americas, the models were sold as the 740i, 740iL and 750iL. The 740i and 740iL share the same 4.4 L V8 engine. The 740iL is essentially a long-wheelbase 740i (hence the "L" in the model name). The considerably rarer 5.4 L V12-powered 750iL was only available as a long-body; there was no E38 750i in the US lineup. The 750iL was BMW's flagship sedan.

E65/E66 (2002–present)

The current 7 Series is available on two different platforms: the standard-wheelbase E65 (2990 mm, 118 in) and the extended-wheelbase E66 (3130 mm, 123 in).

This car was also the first production BMW to be styled by Chris Bangle. The styling was largely rejected by BMW enthusiasts and resulted in BMW giving the 7-Series a facelift early on in the 7-Series' life cycle, focusing on the rear of the car. Though the general consensus deemed it an improvement, it was still largely unpopular with BMW enthusiasts, resulting in a third facelift.

The E65/E66 7 Series features BMW's iDrive system, consisting of a video screen in the dashboard and a controller mounted on the center console that is used in a similar way to a computer mouse. Using a system of eight menus, most of the car's climate, audio, navigation, suspension and communication settings are controlled via iDrive. However, the system has been criticized by many for being too complex and for distracting the driver from the road. Mercedes Benz and Audi have introduced similar systems that were largely perceived as more intuitive and better designed than the iDrive system.

"Active" Seat continuous passive motion technology is made standard equipment on the 750/760 models and included in the Luxury Seating Package with heated and ventilated seats for driver and front passenger on the 745 models.

The car has been available in twelve variants—of those, 11 are now in production and on sale in Europe, with four available in the U.S. since diesel models are not yet available there.

BMW 6 Series

The BMW 6 Series is two distinct lines of automobiles from BMW, both coupés. The first was the E24, launched in August 1976 to replace the 3.0CS and 3.0CSi (E9). The initial model featuring the "shark" was the 630 CS which was built around the E12 chassis. For the US, the 630CSi was the first model introduced in 1977. In 1978, the 633csi was introduced with a 3.2L engine. The 633 CSi followed the 630 csi had few cosmetic changes but featured a better suspension (in 1982-1983), better fuel injection and a higher output motor. In 1985 the 635CSi was introduced and this model featured a slightly larger motor (3.4L), horsepower increased by 1 and torque improved to 214 ft-lbs. The interior was also updated in 1983 for the US, 1982 for Europe. During this time, the chassis was now based on the E28 and no longer on the E12. The front and rear suspension was also revised. The US 3.2L Engine's compression ratio was 8.8:1. In `85, the 3.4L compression ratio was reduced to 8.0:1. In 1988, the US 6-series received the 3.5L engine with 208 hp, 225 lb. ft torque, and higher compression ratio. Incremental improvements continued which raised the compression and hence horsepower and that introduced a self-levelling rear suspension. The E24 was discontinued in 1989, and after a short gap, replaced by the 8 Series (E31). The second line is the entirely new E63, launched in 2003 and produced currently.

E24 6 Series (1977–1989)

The original 6 Series was the successor to the E9 coupés, namely the 2800CS, 3.0CS and 3.0CSi. The new E24 chassis was safer than that of the E9, meeting new United States federal crash and rollover standards. The original 6-Series was first launched in August 1976, with the 633CSi and 630 CS (not in US). This car had a 3210 cc engine with 197 PS (145 kW). In 1980 debuted the 635CSi, with a 3453 cc SOHC, 218 PS (160 kW) engine and a top speed of 222 km/h (138 mph). The 635CSi could reach 100 km/h (62 mph) in 7.4 seconds. A luxury version, known as the L6 arrived in 1987 with leather headliner and trim and other accoutrements.

The 630 CS used a 2986 cc I6 M30 engine with a Solex 4A1 carburetor, making 184 PS (135 kW) at 5800 rpm. The 633 CSi used a 3.2 L version of the same engine, but with a Bosch Motronic fuel injection system, which increased output to 200 hp (150 kW). The 630 CS was replaced in 1979 by the more affordable 628CSi, with a smaller displacement (2788 cc) but retaining the same power . It was fitted with the same Motronic fuel injection as the 633.

In 1983 BMW took the M88/3, a modified version of the M88/1 from the BMW M1 and put it in the E24 chassis, creating the M635CSi, or M6. This had a DOHC 24-valve 3453 cc, 286 PS (210 kW) engine, taken from the BMW M1 with a top speed of 255 km/h (158 mph). The M6 reached 100 km/h in 6.2 seconds. The M6 also had improved suspension, brakes, and a close-ratio manual transmission.

All were built in Dingolfing, Germany.

E63/E64 6 Series (2003–present)

An all-new 6-Series (E63) was introduced in 2003, filling the hole in the lineup left since the end of the 8-Series' production. Based on the underpinnings of the E60, the new 6-Series was introduced with a 4.4 L 325HP V8 engine for the 645Ci. In 2004, a more affordable inline six-cylinder engine was introduced in the 630i. This was soon followed by a convertible model (the E64), the first 6-Series with a removable top. Soon after its introduction, the 645Ci was replaced by the 650i, with a larger displacement (4.8 L) and 360HP. The range-topping M6 arrived in late 2005, using the same V10 engine as the M5, with 507 PS (373 kW).

In US:
  • 2004-2005 645Ci - 4.4 L V8, 325 hp.
  • 2004-2005 645Ci Convertible - 4.4 L V8, 325 hp.
  • 2006- 650i - 4.8 L V8, 360 hp.
  • 2006- 650i Convertible - 4.8 L V8, 360 hp.
  • 2007- M6 - 5.0 L V10, 500 hp.
  • 2007- M6 Convertible - 5.0 L V10, 500 hp.

BMW 5 Series

The BMW 5 Series is a mid-size luxury car / executive car manufactured by German automaker BMW since 1972. The car, now in its fifth generation, is sold in sedan and touring body styles.


The 5 Series got its name by being the fifth of the "new series" cars after the V-8 and Isetta era. The preceding models were the 700, the "New Class", the "New Six" 2500/2800/Bavaria and the CS. The 5 Series was intended to replace the smaller New Class sedans, leaving the coupes as the company's low-end model.

The body was styled by Marcello Gandini, based on the Bertone 1970 BMW Garmisch 2002ti Geneva show car. Gandini also did the Fiat 132 and Alfa Romeo Alfetta, two other cars that have a similar design.

There have been five generations of the 5 Series to date. To differentiate between them, they are referred to by their unique chassis numbers (EXX).

The 5 Series began the BMW tradition of being named with a three-digit number. The first digit (5 in this case) represents the model, and the following two digits (usually) represent the size of the engine in decilitres, which is the main distinguishing difference. Additional letters or words may be added to the end of the three-digit number to define the fuel type (petrol or diesel), engine or transmission details, and the body style. The 'i' originally stood for (fuel) 'injection'.

BMW 3 Series

The BMW 3 Series is an entry-level luxury car / compact executive car manufactured by the German automaker BMW since May 1975. It was the successor to the 2002 coupe, retaining much of that car's styling while adding a more powerful 2.0 L 110 hp (82 kW) engine and other performance enhancements. The 3 Series was for some time the smallest car line manufactured by BMW (exempting the BMW-owned MINI), although that place was in 2004 taken by the BMW 1 Series. The 3 Series is BMW's best selling automobile, accounting for nearly 40% of all automobiles sold by the company in 2005. The 3 Series is the best selling luxury sedan in the United States— selling 98,000 units in 2005.

Social and marketing significance

From its sporting origins, the 3 Series became a formal range that was sometimes synonymous with the "yuppie" generation in 1975. Being an accessible prestige-badge car, the 3 Series' reputation grew. By the early 21st century, the E46 3 Series, designed by American Chris Bangle, was the best-selling car of its size in the world, as commonplace in Asia and America as in Europe, while maintaining its prestigious image.


Like most of BMW's contemporary models, the 3 Series name has been applied to many different vehicles. The 1998 3 Series is marketed similarly to the 1999 3 Series, but the two share few mechanical components and are styled quite differently.

3 Series vehicles can be largely differentiated by the underlying platform:
  • BMW E21 - (1975–1983) 3 Series
  • BMW E30 - (1984–1994) 3 Series
  • BMW E36 - (1992–1998) 3 Series
  • BMW E46 - (1999–2005) 3 Series
  • BMW E90 - (2006–) 3 Series Sedan
  • BMW E91 - (2006-) 3 Series Wagon
  • BMW E92 - (2007-) 3 Series Coupé
  • BMW E93 - (2008-) 3 Series Convertible

BMW 1 Series

The BMW 1 Series (code name E87) is a Small-luxury car / small family car produced by the German automaker BMW since 2004. Designed to compete against the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf, the 1 Series is the only vehicle in its class featuring rear-wheel drive and a longitudinally-mounted engine.


The 1 Series was first offered to the market in 2004 as a 5-door hatchback. It replaced the BMW 3-series Compact range and is currently the smallest and most 'affordable' vehicle (depending on the engine model) in the BMW range. Unlike its predecessor, the new vehicle is built on its own platform (E87), however, it shares many components with the E90 3 Series. These include MacPherson struts in the front of the car, and a trapezoidal-link rear axle. BMW has stated that it shares over 60% of components with the current BMW 3-series E90.[1]

The 1 Series is built in Regensburg, Germany, with some of the engines coming from the Hams Hall plant in Birmingham, England.

During its first full year on the market in 2005, it became one of BMW's most successful products. 149,493 units were sold, coming in third place: only the 3- and 5 Series sold better.

2007 update

BMW upgraded the 1-Series for 2007 and introduced a 3-door sports hatch variant. The changes to the model were minor headlight and tail-light revisions, new front & rear bumpers and a minor revisions to the interior. The dashboard has been updated, and a recommended gear indicator is now present on models with manual transmissions.[2]

New technologies include an Auto Start-Stop function, Brake Energy Regeneration, Electric Power Steering, an electric water pump, and a host of drivetrain modifications designed for fuel economy, increased performance, and lower emissions.[3]

The 1-Series is effectively the first in the world to have mild hybrid technology as standard equipment, although BMW is careful in its marketing not to label it as a hybrid vehicle.

The 1-Series will go on sale in Europe during the Spring of 2007. Ongoing rumours that the 1-Series is heading for the US have still not been confirmed. In Australia, the 1-Series three-door will not go on sale, only keeping the 5-door variant. However, Australia and many other countries may also get a rumoured coupe convertible model.


The engines available for E87 are basically the same as found in the E90/E91, with exception for the 3.0 L inline-6, which is slightly modified to produce more power. The engines below are preceded by their model year introduction.

In early 2006 the 5-speed manual transmission in the 116i and 118i, were phased out. Consequently, all models are equipped with the 6-speed by default.

Petrol engines:
  • 2004- 116i: N45B16 1596 cc I4, 16 valves, 115 hp/85 kW, 150 Nm
  • 2005- 118i: N46B20 1995 cc I4, 16 valves, 129 hp/95 kW, 180 Nm
  • 2004- 120i: N46B20 1995 cc I4, 16 valves, 150 hp/110 kW, 200 Nm
  • 2006- 130i: N52B30 2996 cc I6, 24 valves, 265 hp/195 kW, 315 Nm
Upcoming versions:
  • 2006- 125i: N52B30 2996 cc I6, 24 valves, 218 hp, 295 nm
  • 2007- 135ti: N54B30 2979 cc I6, 24 valves, 306hp/225 kW, 400Nm
Diesel engines:
  • 2004- 118d: M47TU2D20 1995 cc I4, 16 valves, 122 hp/90 kW, 280 Nm
  • 2004- 120d: M47TU2D20 1995 cc I4, 16 valves, 163 hp/120 kW, 340 Nm