Traveling the gravel backroads of Tasmania in convoy with some of Australasia’s best automotive journalists can be a little intimidating. We were there to check out the sleek, sophisticated new offering from BMW – the new X5.
Not only beautiful on the inside, with a handmade crystal gear control and dial, giving the whole console a very ‘executive’ feel, lush colour schemes on the leather interior and spacious room for passengers, the first model I tried – the M50d – was also incredible to drive. It is pure power and raw thrust. Combined with 294kW and 760Nm of gut punching torque and priced at $177,900, its ability to go from 0-100 in 5.2 seconds had my heart going. Cornering was a breeze and as smooth as silk on acceleration. Driver assist has been improved, a new camera system is on board with great safety features, the 22-inch alloys and slightly lowered front end give it a great profile, but when it comes to this seamless 8-speed automatic, the experience really was in the drive.
Launceston has some great roads for a drive and my co driver, Tony Verdon, is an old hand automotive writer. Together we would try out all the driving aspects we could while at the same time trying to keep up with the lead vehicle. There are three versions, 30d, 40i and 50d and the X5 is a stunner of a vehicle in all three of its incarnations but the 50d had won my heart from the start. The car parking assistance features are the stuff of science fiction. Push a button and the car will reverse out of its park and to your original position; a feature not lost on someone who has a nightmare with supermarket shopping.
The grille fins close and open when needing heat or needing to release it, the control panel is refined, a lot of thought has gone into the new interactive control panel layout and there are improved sensors and an ‘autonomous’ backing system. Despite all the bells and whistles, it hasn’t lost the clean lines and minimalist interior, while the drive is as exhilarating as anything with 600Nm and above. The safety features are top of the line with what we’ve always come to expect from BMW. It’s a pleasure to drive and, by bringing forward many great features from previous models, with a mix of the new, it’s not lacking in any area.
Great for the boat, great for exploring back country alpine roads, great for picking the kids up from school and there’s still plenty of room and features to keep the drive interesting and enjoyable.
In 2011 BMW introduced its ‘i’ brand to incorporate all of its electric plug-in vehicles or hybrids. Last year I was fortunate enough to drive the exceptional i8. This month I was introduced to its zippy little cousin, the unique BMW i3.
The base model of the i-range, the i3 also has a bigger brother: the i3s. Looks-wise, it’s a bit like a ‘cube’, with unique suicide doors that open up, revealing no centre pillar and rear seats that can be laid flat to allow an amazing amount of storage space in the boot area. It also has a surprising amount of leg room and a large front windscreen.
It’s packed with loads of great details like the carbon fibre chassis and hemp interior panelling, making it not only light, but also a little bit greener.
The concierge system is a BMW service that allows you to connect with someone to assist you if you are lost or need assistance. Yes! Even if you’re looking for good Indian food in another city! Crazy, huh? The Li-ion battery is 33kWh and, although that doesn’t sound very powerful, I felt it was more than enough for getting around town.
And that’s really what this is; an easy to park, no petrol cost, rear view camera, turn cycle of 9.9 meters, town mobile. With petrol prices around $2.30 a litre, most of us are thinking of options. Charging from your garage wall socket, easy to use, a $77,200 starting price, all with a 200km range.
Although comments about how it looked were not super complimentary, I found it cute with its 19-inch BMW i-light alloy wheels, turbine styling, easy connectivity and simplicity of use being great features. Its keyless entry and start were good, but the ignition switch, park and gear lever sit behind the steering wheel on what people would call a column shift.
That was a little annoying, I thought, though the reasoning I guess is so that you are constantly thinking about being on/off or driving so you don’t make the mistake of leaving it in drive and having it roll away. Unlike a fuel car, it doesn’t give you clues when you take your foot off the accelerator that it’s still in gear.
Charging time is not long but like your phone, you’re going to have to make sure it’s put on the charger at the end of the day. Even though it has regeneration power options when driving, you do have the option of quick charge and that takes about 15 minutes at locations that offer them. This is BMW’s mass production electronic offering for the day to day vehicle and in my opinion, it’s good! To take a test drive, go and see the wonderful Mary or Lorenzo at Christchurch BMW to try for yourself. Good driving.
From the outside, the new BMW X3 xdrive30i is a good-looking BMW X3, but on the inside… spectacular! I opened the door to a combination of black and cream leather and trim with great lines and elegant features.
The centre dashboard incorporates Apple Car play with an interactive media system which was easy to use and, combined with the Harman Kardon sound system, enjoyable.
I took it to Mount Somers and really got the feel of a solid driving vehicle – four cylinders with 185kW of torque; it’s sturdy with power right when you need it.
Driving a new car, I’m looking for outstanding features and, on the way back, I encountered one. An accident logo appeared on the screen on the trip computer. Sure enough, we discovered there had been an accident. The feature enables you to navigate around accidents and road works with its interactive online system.
Featuring gesture control, heads up display and driving assistant, it’s loaded with top of the line features. The sunroof is pleasant, and the automatic rear opening and closing is such a great feature for busy people getting family/work loaded and unloaded.
With so many bespoke options among the variant models, 10 different types of alloys alone, there’s an option for everyone. Now I’ve been a fan of BMW since the 1980s, so you’re preaching to the converted, but this has been a standout SUV based on its interior features and pure driving pleasure. It’s great to see and feel quality when you drive. The BMW is stocked right to the sunroof on all this.
Madam Woo recently hosted the launch of the 2018 BMW X2. I caught up with celebrity Michelin chef and co-owner of Madam Woo, Josh Emett, who is also an ambassador for BMW. “I’ve been driving BMW for years,” Josh says.
I bought my first BMW when I lived in the USA and have been a massive fan ever since. It’s great for Madam Woo to host such a fantastic event.”
Madam Woo was filled with lots of expectant BMW fans. It’s hard not to win over a crowd with such great food, but the reveal didn’t disappoint either. Having had to lift the X3 and the X2 in by crane, the wait was well worth it. The X2 unveiled a sleek, small SUV. With a low profile and some beautiful curves, it’s a great addition to the X range.
The BMW X2 is available with two distinct engine options for the local market. The sDrive18i petrol variant generates a maximum output of 100kW of power and 220Nm of torque, while fuel consumption is still an impressive 5.4l/100km.
Topping the range is the sDrive20i variant, with an engine delivering 141kW of power and 280Nm of torque. Also remarkable is fuel economy of just 5.9l/100km.
Christchurch BMW Dealer Principal Mathew Barr revealed some artistic impressions on the new dealership building and talked about the move toward electric vehicles within BMW. It was great to talk with some other BMW family/aficionados on the night and great to see one of my favourite brands moving forward here in Christchurch.