The i3 is the perfect car for a city commuter. Literally perfect. If your commute is fewer than 40 miles each way, then you are golden in one of these. The base model (without the optional range extender—a two cylinder gas generator that extends range from 80-120 miles to 160-180) has extreme practicality and cheapness. In states like California and New York for example, the car can cost as little as $300 a month to lease with gov’t rebates (cars with generators are more per month). That’s pretty chill for a young professional or college student. With a BMWs interior from the future with extreme german build quality, there’s really nothing better than an electric car that feels quality for this price (unlike that Chevrolet Volt).
Driving dynamics are not what this car is built for, its a BMW that really isn’t just a BMW, its something different that makes the perfect urban daily-driver in a city environment. It’s spacious, easy to park, and doesn’t use fuel. It’s slow, but I’m cool with that. Check one out, I’ve never been partial to these all-electric cars, but in a city, I dig the i3. I dig it a lot.
The M4, what’s to discuss that hasn’t been already. People say it sounds a certain way, way worse than the old one. People say it steers a certain way, stranger than the old V8 one. People say it doesn’t have the same “M” feel that all naturally aspirated M3 coupes and sedans possessed in past years. Basically, people don’t know everything [or anything for that matter] about automotive feel, they simply have opinions. In my opinion, this M4 is the best M3 yet.
No longer having the glorious, naturally aspirated V8 may sound like a mistake on BMW’s part, especially with several new high performance eight-cylinder options from the Jaguar F-type, and even from the recently released Mustang GT350R. The turbochargers in the M4 make the power where it counts, on the urban street. Torque is present in the lusty V8 powered examples I just mentioned, but inefficiency and cumbersome mannerisms in stop-and-go driving make them feel antiquated and even sluggish when away from the highway or track. Those cars are stupid fast (don’t get me wrong) but they feel heavy at slow speeds. Even the forced induction Jag with 500+ lbs of torque feels heavier on its feet than the M4 initially from a stop sign (its a porker with hundreds of pounds of extra weight when compared to the larger, more spacious M4). The Jaguar may be faster on paper overall, but it is not as nimble around town as the new Bimmer.
By featuring a turbocharged 6-cylinder motor and two twin-scroll turbos, the M4 achieves maximum torque well below 2000 rpm, making it feel alarmingly fast from a dead stop. Call city driving, fun driving by comparison to the F-type and the Mustang. Both cars may be faster on paper and on the track, and even the highway, but there is something to be said about torque – it works for you before the horsepower does during a pull, and you feel it.
After I stopped by my local BMW dealership with a buddy of mine who owns the aspirated V8 M3, we decided to take this new blacked out M4 for a little test drive. After getting behind the wheel myself on primarily country roads (stop and go) I produced the opinion mentioned here in this passage. I stand by my opinion. What a great car.
Note: this article is not descriptive of the B5 S4, my review of this car is pre-existing on this web site.
The European sport-sedan market is changing a lot in my opinion. Obviously these cars, like all other modern cars sold in America, are modified in their styling year to year, but that’s not the kind of change I’m referring to. I believe that these sports cars (i.e. the Audi S4 and BMW 335i especially) used to be built as enthusiast, or at least somewhat enthusiast, automobiles. Now, companies like Audi and BMW are chasing comfort and volume of sales to better compete with Mercedes which, in general, sells more cars than the others. It makes sense why they are doing this and I don’t actually condemn them for it. Here’s why.
Many enthusiasts in the past enjoyed the fact that not only were the fancy Audi RS and BMW M models very sporty, but the lower end models (not necessarily the very bottom, but the “middle” range sports sedans) were also to certain point. In other words, the guy who can’t afford a M3 can at least get a 335i and get a somewhat sporty experience. Nowadays, it’s pretty difficult to find this option. For example, Up until 2013 the BMW 335i (E92 and E90 in 2011) were sporty with heavy, hydraulic steering and stiff suspension. The newer version of this car the F30 body 335i is much more compliant and even comes in a “luxury” trim (though the Sport and M-Sport versions aren’t that much better). Again, BMW has made their car this way in efforts to sell more of them. They probably will.
With the increased profits BMW will make with their softer mid-range sport sedans, they will have a better research and development budget to help make better more efficient M-cars, I think. Audi will follow suit in the same way. I choose not to make the comparison with Audi (even in an Audi S4 posting) because BMW is inherently more of a driver’s car than the Audis which are known more for all-weather performance as their main selling-point. BMW has changed the most with making their mid-range sports sedans perform much softer to appeal better to the masses.
I understand why some people, some car enthusiasts are disheartened by this change. Personally, I say you should save your money and buy an RS5 or M3 instead, because they are the top of the line performance examples and with the increase in R&D they hopefully receive, these top of the line cars will be better than ever. (Granted the RS5 is much closer to the S4 than the new 335i is compared to the new M4 for example).
Big, fast European sedans are in a huge abundance at the moment, and have been since the late 90s. Though Mercedes and BMW ran the show before that time, with the resurgence of the Audi S8 in the early 2000s and the fast Jaguar XJR even more recent than that, there has been an endless crawl between these four makes to produce the best executive sedan.
Many opinions have risen from several automotive journalists. Most agree that the new Audi S8 is the best option at the moment and currently outclasses all of its competitors (especially the Bimmer) for it is more dynamic, faster and more subtle. I agree with them, the Audi is indeed all of those things, but is that what you really need in a pseudo-sport luxury sedan? I think not. Once a buyer passes up the BMW M5 or Audi S6 and moves on to what I call the “luxe-barge” class (i.e. the Mercedes S-Class, the BMW 7-Series, etc.) they care primarily about comfort, sheer engine size and power, and (most importantly) prestige. The Alpina delivers these in spades for a buyer who wants people to notice him or her going around a corner, versus them noticing (or even caring) about what their car is doing.
First off, the engine. This a 4.4 liter twin-turbo V8 engine making 540 horsepower and 538 pound feet of torque. The Audi makes 520 hp and 481 pound-feet from a 4.0 liter engine. Which is more powerful?
Second, the name. Alpina sounds fancy, because it is. Alpina is a German tuning company founded in 1965 and has been exclusive to BMW since 1970 and is comparable to Mercedes AMG or Audi RS, but it stresses luxury far more than sport. This better suits a car of this caliber (and girth) and makes the car rare and comfortable, but still plenty fast. The Audi S8 doesn’t even belong under the Audi RS umbrella, but it is just another Audi built in the same fashion. Which is more prestigious?
Overall, the BMW possesses the X-Factor that no other sedan of this price-range can match. Unless a customer is caught up on cylinder counts and needs a V12, then perhaps a 760Li or Mercedes S65 AMG will suit better. However, when people see a car that looks the way the B7 does and the bold ALPINA name written on the truck (and subtly on the bottom front bumper) they will notice it. They all will.