BMW X4M Competition, A Track Car For School Bus Dads

Off to school or on the track, the 2022 BMW X4M Competition does it all! Behind the wheel of the new BMW X4M Competition, the driver truly embraces that track car feeling, with tight steering, stiff suspension, and great throttle response, even when in the sacrilegious Comfort Mode. This truly is the ultimate version of the ultimate version of a magnificent sport-focused SUV, or Sport Activity Coupe, as BMW calls it.

With around 70 more horsepower than its closest competitor from Zuffenhausen, the Porsche Macan GTS, this X4M Competition provides more bang for the buck than the flagship Macan both in terms of bang (503hp vs. 434hp) and buck, with a base price of $73,400 versus $79,900. With all that money saved, you can even make it to the bank half a second faster than the GTS with a 0-60 of 3.7 seconds. 

Although diehard BMW M Power fans might complain that this M-fied X4 doesn’t sport the big V8 of its bigger X siblings, BMW’s trademark straight-six gets the job done more than adequately. The M Competition model features adjustable dampeners and suspension to select the handling feel depending on your road conditions and driving style. The X4 we had was also equipped with optional 21″ forged wheels for improved handling and acceleration due to their lighter weight. Although we kept this X4 M Competition in Comfort Mode for the majority of our driving experience, as we believe this is the setting the majority of X4 M Competitions will spend their life in, we noticed very little body roll, even during spirited driving.

The driving experience is further bolstered by a comfortable interior highlighted by supportive, highly-adjustable sports seats, fantastic technology and an immersive audio experience courtesy of the Harman Kardon sound system. The vehicle also featured plenty of space for all the kids’ toys in the trunk, while our team’s “average-sized adults” easily fit in the backseat without any leg cramping or twisted necks from the sloping “coupe” roofline. Although rear passengers were quite comfortably at stoplights, our team did note an unusually-harsh ride quality for an SUV. This is after all, a focused, sports-oriented SUV, so as long as you know not to expect buttery-smooth transportation, and backseat passengers know to anticipate a sporty ride even in the most approachable Comfort setting, this BMW is, overall, an excellent compromise between a hardcore performance package and everyday family-friendly usability without the six-digit price tag usually associated with high-performance SUVs.

BMW I4 M50 is a Very Good Electric Sports Sedan

The BMW I4 M50 from the makers of the self-clamed Ultimate Driving Machines made us fans of electric vehicles. This EV, based on the 4 series Gran Coupe, has 4 doors, seats 5 passengers, and is equipped with a hatchback opening into the passenger compartment. But most importantly, this EV makes full use of the electric engine’s instant torque to propel this I4 from 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds. The I4 M50 is a great daily driver, with all the comforts and segment perks of the legendary 3&4 series BMWs spanning the last 4 decades. However, what we loved most about this EV is that it felt like a proper sports sedan. While behind the wheel, we often forgot that we were driving an electric vehicle. With nearly all the excitement of the gasoline-powered BMW M4, you never have to worry about waiting in line at a gas station: win-win!  

The car is set up for great handling, with Bavarian engineers imbuing this sports sedan with some voodoo and magic to make the extra heft of the hefty battery pack feel almost weightless; the car doesn’t feel heavy when hugging corners, and is not as prone to heavy understeer like most EVs. It is somewhat unusual to accelerate in silence as the whispering electric motor does its job, although when you’re ready to have some fun with it, the sport mode will pipe a whooshing sound through the speakers to make you feel like you are accelerating the Starship Enterprise. 

The home charger that comes with it is easy to use, and if your commute only involves short trips, you could probably get away with using just the home charger with a standard electric outlet, versus having to install the 240v fast charger. The car also features regenerative breaking, so you get to recoup some energy when stopping. 

While a comfortably docile vehicle for the everyday commute, be prepared to fight an uncontrollable urge to slap it into Sports Mode and go warp 10 at every stop light. This car begs to be driven fast, and rewards you with an interactive and encompassing driving experience complete with the sound and feel one expects of the best gasoline-powered sports sedans. Overall this was a fun, smooth ride, perfect for zooming down the highway, or just getting to work on your daily commute, and a great purchase for anyone interested in purchasing an electric vehicle without sacrificing sports and performance. 

BMW M440 Grand Coupe

For a 4 door coupe, as it’s referred to by BMW, I’d say this is one of the best looking on the market. The sleek and stylish design is indicative of its sporty profile; with a peppy 320 horsepower, and twin turbo inline 6-cylinder motor, this car was good looking and also fun to drive. The all-wheel drive did have a noticeably rear-wheel drive bias, which you can feel when going fast around a corner. 

The ride quality offers a nice balance of sport and luxury, making it a respectable choice for long drives, but also a breeze to handle around corners. The near perfect 50/50 weight distribution enhances the handling characteristics as well; overall, this was a very driver-first vehicle. 

Speaking again to the style, I liked the sleek lines and new age design queues, as well as the controversial front grill, which looks better in person than in images, especially when the car is a darker color, in my opinion. The sloped rear with hatch back is a great look as well as a convenient feature when trying to haul something, since you can put the seats down and open the hatch, versus a normal sedan where you’re limited by the trunk height.

The interior technology is also top-notch, with an intuitive infotainment center design, which can be accessed via touchscreen display or rotary dial knobs. My one complaint was regarding the real leather seats, which came with a protective coating that makes them more durable, but unfortunately gives them a slick, plasticy feel as well. 

The closest competition for this car is the Audi Sportback. If you’re considering between the two, my note of consideration would be in favor of the BMW M440’s better handling and drive. An improvement over the last generation, this latest and newest generation of the series 4 is like a return to BMW’s alleged peak in the mid-late 2000s and a comeback of the quality performance of the ultimate driving machine. 

BMW M3 Competition Review

“M,” the single most important letter in the BMW alphabet. The letter carries such heavy weight because it represented BMW’s Motorsport and performance devision. M cars set the performance standard for sedans, 4 passenger coupes, and SUVs around the world. Historically, M cars were built to go racing. Manufacturers, such as BMW, needed to create road going race cars in order to meet homologation standards, and that is exactly what the 2022 BMW M3 Competition represents – a road going race car.

While the M3 Competition Coupe might look similar to other 4-series cars from BMW, it is not. Under the hood is a 503 horsepower 3.0L twin-turbo inline-6 engine that will jet you from 0 to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. It is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, which is quick to shift, but it would be quicker if BMW offered it as a dual-clutch. With the M badge, you also get massive brakes, an aggressive suspension setup, motorsports derived differential. All of this comes standard at a starting price of under $80,000.

The danger of this hard-core BMW is that it begs to be driven hard. Every twisty road or highway on-ramp left me with a huge grin on my face. It is one of the few cars that still makes me want to take the long way when coming home after work.

My test vehicle featured an performance inspired interior that equally matched the BMW M3’s performance benchmarks. Carbon fiber, leather, aluminum, and performance textile seat inserts. This combination enhances the race car for the road feel you get when driving the BMW M3

The closest competitors to the M3 are the Audi RS5 and Porsche 718 GT4. The BMW M3 is quicker in a straight line, it is more practical with 4 doors and 4 seats, plus it costs less to purchase new. The GT4 on the other hand is more fun to drive, but not nearly as practical. The Audi RS5 is more comfortable than the M3, but it lacks the performance benchmarks and handling characteristics of the M3.

As an ultimate daily driver, the 2022 BMW M3 Competition takes the cake! It fits four adults comfortably and it can keep up with super cars around a race track.

BMW X4

As with the recent trends, SUVs and crossovers are becoming sleek coups on stilts, and the BMW X4 is no exception. While it sports a very modern, stylish visual, the BMW X4 is still reminiscent of the classic BMW look and high-performance feel that BMW drivers have come to expect. Borrowing styling cues from its big brother, the 473 horse power X4 M, the BMW X4 that I tested featured the M sport package, giving it that quintessential BMW character and drive. 

Under the hood, you’re working with 248 horse power, and 4 cylinder twin turbo, which is ample power for getting around town and beyond. With a smooth steering capacity, the car also feels very natural around corners; I really like how it handles. The ride quality was good even in stop-and-go traffic, as well as on the highway and around the city. While not aggressive, the steering wheel has solid feedback, making even jagged turns a breeze. 

Another great feature is the fully digital instrument cluster with customizable viewing modes. Additionally, the infotainment center offers touch screen display as well as a dial on the center console, which controls the radio navigation and Apple car play. I was a fan of the combination dial/touch screen because you can easily rest your hand while changing stations. Other details I appreciated about the BMW X4 were that it is available with colored break calipers, (which look really cool), and the interior trim options, which include red leather seats, and carbon fiber, and aluminum accents. 

2020 BMW X1 versus Mercedes GLB

I was lucky enough to get a back-to-back sampling of the BMW X1 and the Mercedes-Benz GLB 250, each for a one week test. Both crossovers represent their respective German luxury automakers’ most affordable SUV offering. Both offer admission to the marque, while also delivering the full brand experience.

For the record: Technically Mercedes’ cheapest SUV offering is the GLA, however the GLA is more of a small station wagon on stilts. Akin to the Audi A4 Allroad. So the GLB is what you want if you want an SUV feel.

Luxury & Style

Both of my test vehicles exuded entry-level luxury, with leather seats and real wood or aluminum trim. However, the fit and finish on the Mercedes GLB was better. The design language felt brand new, and resembled styling from a modern S-Class Mercedes. The exterior felt sculpted. Whereas the BMW, while nice, the design language felt typical of a BMW from 10 years ago. It looks and feels very traditional, which isn’t a bad thing. Winner: Mercedes  Click Here To Continue Reading

The BMW X3 has grown up!

The 2020 BMW X3 versus 2000 BMW X5

I will admit from the start, it has been a while since I have driven a BMW X3. I haven’t seen one in the press fleet down here in Florida in a long time. However, I was recently in Michigan for a week to escape the Florida summer heat and get some seat time in the X3… aka the baby X5.

The third generation feels much more substantial than previous generations. This time around the X3 felt more like the original X5, in terms of size, performance, and creature comforts…

Size & Weight

The 2000 BMW X5 weighed in at 4,800 pounds, and was 184″ long and 74″ wide. It was a trend setter in the SUV arena, because it was one of the first performance oriented SUVs – it could actually hug corners. In comparison, the 2020 BMW X3 weighs in at 3,900 pounds, and it is 2 inches larger and 1/2 an inch wider than the 1st generation X5. The increased size translates into a similar cabin space for occupants and more cargo room. The X3’s weight savings despite its proportion is thank to 20 years of BMW R&D into aluminum and other modern materials.

Performance & Driving Experience

Although the latest generation X3 is bigger than the first generation X5, the base X3 engine is less than 1/2 the size of the top-of-the-line X5 of the era. The original BMW X5 optionally packed a 4.4L V8 producing 282 horsepower and 324 torque. Where as the 2020 BMW X3 comes standard with a 2L twin-turbo inline 4-cylinder that pumps out 248 horsepower and 258 torque. The 2020 X3 doesn’t have a mighty V8, but it accelerates blistering fast in comparison due to the X3’s 8-speed automatic gearbox and weight savings: X3 0-60mph in 6.0 seconds, versus X5 0-60mph in 7.4 seconds. In terms of hugging corners though Click Here To Continue Reading

The BMW 330e makes being green fun again!

Bavarian Motor Works’ sportiest sedan series dates back to 1975, with the BMW 3-series. Back then you were limited to a carbureted inline 4-cylinder motor producing 74 horsepower or an inline 6-cylinder producing 141 horsepower. They were not rocket ships, even for 70’s standards, but fans quickly adored the 3-series’ suburb weight distribution and excellent handling.

Today’s BMW range varies between a 180 horsepower turbocharged inline 4-cylinder (320i) and up to a 425 horsepower inline 6-cylinder (M3). You can’t go wrong across the line up though, because they all have near perfect 50/50 weight distribution for improved handling. This paired with a sporty design will turn a boring commute into an exhilarating adventure; one where you must ace every apex on your way to the office.  Click Here To Continue Reading

The BMW M550i Takes The Cake!

I am sure you have heard of the phrase “you can’t have your cake and eat it too.” This proverb has been accurate for most of BMW’s recent history. This is especially true for their current lineup because their vehicles tend to be polar opposites. The latest generation of Bimmers offer either Mercedes level luxury or Porsche level performance. You are either riding in comfort and style in their series models (IE 3-series,5-series,etc) or being bounced around like ping pong ball while you are grinning from ear to ear in their M cars (IE M3,M5,etc). If you haven’t noticed, BMW’s latest trend is to offer “M Sport” packages for their series models; Allowing a 180 horsepower 320i sedan to pose as a 425 horsepower M3. This is like allowing a sheep to dress in wolf’s clothing. The “M Sport” packages in most cases don’t offer any performance benefits while making the vehicle look like an M car. Thus the packages are a waste of money in my opinion.

So now we turn to this week’s vehicle… the BMW M550i. It is not an M5, but it is also not, not an M5. And don’t confuse it as a BMW 5-Series with an M-Sport package. The most accurate statement I can come up with is that the BMW M550i is an M5 with a “touring package.”  Click Here To Continue Reading

The BMW i8 Is A Marvel Of Engineering & Design

The term “exotic” isn’t used lightly in the automotive world. But that is the best way to describe the BMW i8. When it first came out in 2014, it appeared to be a car sent from the future, and it still does today. Its unique design, complete with a flying buttress, and scissor door makes your jaw drop every time your approach the car. By the way if you don’t know what a flying buttress does, it is a design element on the rear of the car that allows for air flow moving through the body to create downforce at high speeds – essentially allowing you keep the car on the ground without the need for a rear wing or spoiler. Click Here To Continue Reading