Turkey Day is here once again. As every year, Thanksgiving is a day that’s supposed to be filled with great food, family, friends and celebrations for what we’re thankful for in our lives. It’s basically to commemorate the early feasts between Pilgrims and Native Americans. So on this special day, we won’t only wish you a Happy Thanksgiving with your loved ones, but also take the time to look at some of the most exciting BMWs we drove in 2019.
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We did exactly 60 test drives so far this year, on a global scale, covering different markets and different type of customers. And thanks to an aggressive and revamped BMW product lineup, the diversity in model choices has been greater than ever.
BMW M850i xDrive Coupe
BMW has reinstated their long-forgotten 8 Series lineup and launched the new 8 Series Coupe and Convertible. The new 8 Series brings to the market a sleek, sporty and premium design, both inside and outside the cabin, along with a refined V8 4.4 liter engine which is better than ever.
Along with the xDrive all-wheel drive system, the BMW 8 Series can now be driven year-round and in most regions around the world.
Here is an excerpt from Nico’s review:
“While it’s not the sharpest of track tools, it’s very fun when pushed to its (my) limits, yet it’s also comfortable on the road, packed with tech, extremely luxurious and bite-the-back-of-your-hand good looking. As a sporty grand touring car, the sort of car you want to cross continents in, I can’t think of another car without a Bentley or Aston Martin badge I’d rather drive more.”
BMW X7 Seven-Seater SUV
The highly-awaited BMW X7 was finally launched in early 2019 and has since become one of the best sellers for the brand. It arrived with a polarizing and massive design, while being packed with the latest tech from Munich and impressive cargo space. Add the seven seat configuration and there was very little doubt that the Americans will not fully embrace the new SUV.
Here is what I wrote back in March:
“After driving again the X7 and seeing how the SUV market continues to grow, I do wonder why it took BMW so long to come up with a true seven-seater SUV. After all, they’ve set the tone with several crossovers before the competition caught up, and the X family is now the bread-and-butter of the company. Nonetheless, I’m excited that the X7 is here since it’s a well balanced SUV that caters to the needs of customers of this and next decade. It offers luxury, utility, space, latest tech and even good driving dynamics for a large family hauler, so I expect it to be one of the top selling BMWs in the US in the years to come.”
BMW M2 Competition with M Performance Parts
The darling of the M world – the BMW M2 Competition – has been our favorite also since the day it came out. So BMW of North America decided to surprise us with a special model – an M2 Competition decked out with some crazy looking M Performance Parts.
The M2 Competition featured a carbon fiber hood, a carbon fiber trunklid, carbon fiber mirror caps and carbon fiber fenders. That’s right, you can get genuine carbon fiber body panels, directly from BMW, to replace the steel ones on your M2 Competition.
Nico loved his time with the car:
“I can tell you this, though. Few cars I’ve ever had on test have ever turned as many heads. The BMW i8 Roadster I had barely garnered as much attention as this carbon-equipped M2 Comp. Admittedly, unpainted carbon fiber body panels will do that. Most customers will have them painted. But so many car enthusiasts were flat-out blown away by carbon fenders and a carbon hood. to be honest, it doesn’t look great with them unpainted. In fact, from a far, it looks like the car has been in a crash and no one painted its replacement body panels yet. However, up close, it just looks intriguing and odd. People looked at it the way dogs look at you when you make a noise they’ve never heard before.”
BMW Z4 M40i On The Track
The new BMW Z4 M40i was not built as a track weapon, but that doesn’t mind it can’t hold its own. The top model of the refreshed Z4 family is one stylish roadster packing one of the best BMW engines every made – the B58 – and arguably the lowest weight of all current BMWs.
Our own Gabriel spent some time with the Z4 M40i on a track in Romania and shared his thoughts:
“Even so, after putting the car through its paces on the track, all of those small drawbacks become distant memories as you can’t help but be charmed by that brilliant B58 engine and its voice. Furthermore, I now understand why BMW won’t make a Z4 M model anymore: it doesn’t have to. A pure Motorsport-developed version would simply be too much. Heck, even the M40i might prove too much for a lot of people. This isn’t a car that you take to the track even though you could and BMW says is faster around the ‘Ring than the BMW M2.”
2020 BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive
The most refined new 7 Series comes from Buchloe in the form of the BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive. Built upon the facelifted 7 Series, the Über Luxurious Land Rocket is not only a joy to look at, but also to drive at its limits on the Autobahn. And for me that limit topped off at 305 km/h, just a bit short of the 330 km/h top speed.
“Overall, if I were to compare the driving experience of the 7 Series and the B7, then a few things would play in the ALPINA’s favor – starting with the sportier steering and the stiffer chassis, and ending with a tighter suspension setup. Yet most ALPINA owners won’t pick the B7 for its extreme driving capabilities, but rather for its exclusivity and craftsmanship. From the moment you step inside, you’re surrounded by higher premium materials and attention to details that sometimes falls into the Rolls-Royce territory. During a casual conversation with the ALPINA plant manager, I learned that the Lavalina leather inside the B7 is often seen in some Rolls-Royce interiors.”
Full review here
BMW X3 M and X4 M Competition Models
Understated and underrated. That’s how I would describe the new X3 M and X4 M. The two brothers landed on the market this Summer and took everyone by surprise with their sheer power and track capabilities. And let’s not forget, they also introduce the new S58 engine which will power the 2021 BMW M3 and M4.
Full review here as well:
“The X3 and X4 M40i models are extremely competent, and according to BMW, also one of their top sellers. So the ideal customer for these new M SUVs is someone looking for the prestigious M badge on their cars, without sacrificing performance, utility and space. In every day city use, the X3 M and X4 M will not be significantly different than the M Performance models, but if you live in an area with lots of twisty backroads, then the fun is just a button or two away. Now if you can also afford some track time, then I would certainly find a good use case for the new X3 M and X4 M.”
BMW Z8 Roadster
It is not often that someone trusts you with their $200,000 car, but BMW Classic Germany did that for us. In the Summer of 2019, they invited us to Austria to sample some of their best cars in the collection. One of them was James Bond’s Z8 Roadster, a car that even today looks just as fresh as 20 years ago.
“Tunnels were especially attractive since in a roadster it may be hard to hear the engine due to wind noise. Once inside a tunnel though, you’d have the perfect setup to actually hear it roar and it is mighty impressive. Some might be disappointed to hear that the steering isn’t all that great, feedback might be lacking and that having such a long nose doesn’t do wonders for the agility of the entire package.
But that doesn’t really matter. This car was meant to be enjoyed on longer, relaxing cruises and at that, the Z8 is almost unbeatable. Just get going, let the V8 waft you in its seamless never-ending torque, and enjoy the ride.”
BMW 3 Series Touring
Not loved in the U.S., but loved everywhere else in the world. That’s the BMW 3 Series Touring, which is one of the best products ever engineering and designed by BMW. The new G31 generation was launched this year and BMW felt it was important for us to test drive it in Europe.
So I headed back to Munich once again to beg them to bring it back to the United States. While I was not able to persuade them, I was still fortunate enough to spend a day with this fantastic Sports Wagon:
“Clearly I have yet to compare the new G21 Touring to its competitors – and there are plenty of them – but if I were to look at the previous generation F31, then it’s clear who the new boss is. The G21 BMW 3 Series Touring is far more rounded-off car, with plenty of tech, driving assistance features and refinement that will certainly make it a top seller. What’s even more exciting is that it has not lost its rear-wheel drive behavior, so as long as you learn how to treat it that way, you will have lots of fun with it.”
BMW M340i xDrive
The new G20 BMW M340i xDrive is the best 3 Series ever built. Period. It’s fast, it’s good looking and full of tech. While it won’t be a full-M car, not that it aimed to be, the M34oi has the performance of older M cars and it’s simply a riot to drive. On and off the track.
We’ve spent quite some time with the car this year, but it was Nico who had a chance to play with it a bit longer than the rest of us.
“Don’t get me wrong. I like the BMW M340i as a car, I really do. But I also think BMW could have done more with it. I think it should be a bit more raucous and a bit more thrilling. If you’re looking for a fast everyday driver, something that’s comfortable and refined while also being shockingly quick, the BMW M340i is perfect. But if you’re looking for 3 Series that’s been injected with a bit of that Motorsport DNA, spend the extra money and get an M3. So when I previously said that the BMW M340i was enough to hold me over from an M3, I was actually wrong. That doesn’t mean it’s not a great car. It just means that it’s different from what I had hoped for.”
BMW M8 Competition Coupe
Fastest BMW ever built – that title goes to the new BMW M8 Competition Coupe. The top dog of the 8 Series family plays in the high-end segment of sports coupes providing impressive acceleration times and track performance.
I tracked the car in Portugal on the famous Algarve circuit and it was one of the best days I’ve had this year:
“I’ve put plenty of laps on this 2020 BMW M8 Competition Coupe to know that I’m dealing with a very special car. I loved the spirit of the M5 Competition, but I adore the sportiness and pleasing character of the M8 Competition. While most of the customers will shy away from track days with their M8, knowing what the car can do might be enough to put a smile on their faces. In the end, this is the ultimate grand tourer which combines the ///M DNA with the luxury and tech of the next decade.
There are few true pound-for-pound fighters in this segment. If you look at the market, you can see the Porsche 911 Carrera and potentially the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, despite its lack of rear seating. But if you look across the German lineup, there is no direct competitor to the M8 Gran Coupe. So it’s not surprising that the 2020 BMW M8 Competition Coupe aims to deliver some of the best features required in this segment, without many compromises.”