The past few years have been a bit slow for BMW. It’s a cyclical thing, where some years, certain automakers are pretty silent. However, 2016 was not such a year. This past year, despite having killed off countless beloved celebrities, was a good year for car enthusiasts, specifically BMW enthusiasts. So let’s take a look at the five best BMWs from this past year.
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5. BMW i3 (94 Ah)
Okay, so this isn’t the sexiest pick for one of the best BMWs of this past year. However, it’s a very important car to BMW and its newly updated battery completely changes the game for the little i3. The pre-refresh BMW i3 with its 60 Ah battery was only capable of 81 miles of range and that was in absolute best-case conditions while driving like a 103 year old grandmother. In reality, most people saw between 60-70 miles of range on average. That wasn’t good enough to impress most EV fans and caused the i3 to gain quite a bit of criticism.
Now, BMW has updated the i3’s battery pack, as it now sports a 94 Ah battery, so it boasts a much-improved 114 miles of range. While 114 miles is still far behind the 200-mile Chevy Bolt in the same class, it’s far more than enough for the average person. It’s also above that 100-mile mark that usually makes people comfortable enough to buy an electric car. BMW needs the i3 to be a success and the small changes made to the i3 will help it be just that and the make an already good car even better.
While the new G30-generation BMW 5 Series hasn’t actually hit dealerships yet, and won’t until 2017, we saw it in 2o16. There are many fans who are a bit underwhelmed by the new 5 Series, as they claim its new design isn’t bold enough or enough of a departure from the previous generation. But make no mistake, the new 5er is extremely important to BMW and is going to be a big help for the Bavarian brand. The previous F10-gen 5 Series was a massive success, despite lukewarm enthusiast feedback, and the new car should only continue that.
Plus, it sparks some new life into one of the most famous nameplates in BMW history. The F10-generation had gotten a bit stale, lacking the sort of dynamics that BMWs are known for. However, this new car is said to breathe new life into the 5 Series, offering driving dynamics that are superior to the car it replaces. This new G30-gen 5 Series seems to be bringing the famous nameplate at least closer to its roots. So that makes it one of this year’s best Bimmers.
BMW answered Mercedes-AMG’s S65 left hook with a right hook, in the form of the BMW M760Li xDrive. The big bruiser 7 Series packs a 6.6 liter twin-turbocharged V12 that should simply pummel other cars into submission. With 600 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque, the BMW M760Li xDrive is monstrous. It can get from 0-60 mph in a claimed 3.6 seconds, but expect it to be a touch quicker than that. Plus, it can do that with four passengers in supreme comfort and luxury.
While vehicles like the M760Li are completely ridiculous and superfluous, they’re fantastic and we love them. There’s a bit of madness in having a massive luxury car with a twin-turbo V12 that can do a pretty good bullet train impression. It really makes no sense, except for the upper echelon of wealthy people who can afford to be so superfluous, but that’s exactly why we love it. It’s one of the coolest cars BMW’s made in a while so it makes the list.
2. BMW M4 GTS
After the E92 BMW M3 GTS left, there was a void in BMW’s lineup. No longer was there a proper hardcore performance car in the Bavarian stable. Then the BMW M3 and M4 came, met with mixed reviews. Sure, they were faster, more efficient and more technically impressive than the cars they replaced. However, they lacked a bit of that connection and purity that made their predecessors so wonderful. To remedy that, BMW gave us the M4 GTS, a properly stripped out, hardcore track-day variant that seems like it should breathe fire.
BMW was able to take the BMW M4 Competition Package’s 444 hp 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged I6 engine and boost power up to 493 hp. To do this, BMW used water-injection, which is a system that sprays an ultra-fine mist of water into the intake plenum. This cools the combustion chamber significantly, allowing BMW to increase boost pressure without fear of engine knock, thus bumping power output. It’s all very impressive, but BMW didn’t just stop there. The M4 GTS also gets manually-adjustable suspension, carbon fiber aerodynamics and a roll cage instead of a back seat. Oh, and those gorgeous 20″ wheels. It’s one of the coolest cars BMW’s made in ages and it’s definitely one of the brand’s coolest cars in 2016. In fact, it’d probably be number one if it weren’t for this next car.
1. BMW M2
If you even somewhat like cars, you’ve heard of the BMW M2. It’s been stealing headlines everywhere, as it’s possibly the most popular sports car in the world right now, or at least one of them. Everyone seems to love the BMW M2, with it having very few detractors, if any at all. Jeremy Clarkson even claimed it to be the best BMW M car ever made, which is as bold as it gets.
Based on the standard, and already brilliant, 2 Series, the BMW M2 is leaner, faster and sharper. It pakcs a modified variant of the famous N55 3.0 liter turbocharged I6 engine and develops 365 hp. That might not sound like a lot in today’s world of 500-plus hp supercars, but it’s enough to get the M2 from 0-60 mph in 4.0 seconds flat (with the DCT, 4.2 seconds with a manual).
But outright speed isn’t what the BMW M2 is about. Instead, it’s about fun, handling and dynamics. The sort of principles that BMW M cars always embodied but seem to be veering away from. The BMW M2 is a throwback to BMW M cars of the past, cars that were more about the smile they put on their drivers’ faces, rather than the numbers they put down on paper. And, for that reason, the BMW M2 is the best car of 2016.