BMW is the ultimate niche filler. Seriously. The Munich-based premium marque manages to create obscure niches within the unique niches few other luxury rivals dare tap into, and when others don’t work…

2017 BMW X4 M40i

2017 BMW X4 M40i
For those who can’t make up their minds between a sport coupe and an SUV, BMW makes the fabulous X4. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

BMW is the ultimate niche filler. Seriously. The Munich-based premium marque manages to create obscure niches within the unique niches few other luxury rivals dare tap into, and when others don’t work for their namesake brand they adapt them for Mini or Rolls-Royce?

The X4 was the obvious result of downsizing the already successful X6, the result of which sees even more sales than the larger mid-size model. Last year the X4 found 1,236 Canadians who liked the idea of a five-door sports coupe mixed with a compact SUV, whereas 1,178 BMW buyers chose the larger of the two. These aren’t game-changing sales compared to 5,417 X3s and 6,942 X5s sold within the same 12 months, but every little bit adds up, as BMW has also learned with its multiple 3 Series, 4 Series and 6 Series body styles.

2017 BMW X4 M40i
The X4’s low profile is sporty, and its M40i upgrades even more so. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Regarding the five-door coupe-cum-SUV (or whatever you want to call it), a nod should be given to Infiniti for its original FX that more or less originated the idea and subsequent QX70 (still available, albeit rare), while Land Rover’s Range Rover Evoque took the concept down one size to the entry-level SUV class, and even went so far to create a three-door SUV coupe and now a two-door convertible variant (it’s a lot cooler than it sounds).

Hitting even more at BMW’s core, Mercedes recently responded directly with the compact GLC Coupe and mid-size GLE Coupe, while a special mention should go out to Acura and its ill-fated ZDX, a model most people loathed (hence its cancellation) and I happen to still love.

2017 BMW X4 M40i
The X4 cabin is superbly crafted and M40i detailing particularly nice. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

BMW makes two versions of the X4, starting with the more fuel-friendly $48,700 X4 xDrive28i and topped off with the bahn-storming $60,700 X4 M40i. That means the X4 xDrive35i has been discontinued, but due to the latter, which entered the scene last year, no one should shed any tears.

Where the xDrive35i was a blast to drive due to its twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0-litre inline-six that made 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque, the M40i takes the same engine and puts a much more engaging 355 horsepower and 343 lb-ft down to its four torque-vectoring wheels. Like the less potent model, the M40i utilizes an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters; a version of that transmission also incorporated into the entry-level X4 xDrive28i, which incidentally is good for 241 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.

2017 BMW X4 M40i
A sports car profile mixed with the heightened visibility of an SUV. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of course, there’s a lot more than extra oomph behind the top-line model’s “M” badge. Along with some unique styling details, larger wheels and tires, bigger brakes, a sport suspension, exclusive interior trim, and more, the M40i also includes launch control for a blistering 4.9-second standing start to 100km/h.

Important news that just can’t wait for my upcoming review is the inclusion of BMW’s latest iDrive infotainment across the line, which features an ultra high-resolution display filled with a completely new menu design, faster processing, and enhanced graphics.

There’s so much more to tell you about, so make sure to come back and find out why adventuresome kid-less couples should consider an X4 over an X3…

BMW’s new M2 makes a good argument for best sports coupe period. Introduced for the 2016 model year, this new 2017 gets few updates but hardly needs any more reasons for performance fans to take one…

2017 BMW M2 Coupe Road Test

Strangely, I can recall almost every moment from behind the wheel of a Canadian-spec 1994 M3 that I drove nearly 20 years ago. In actual fact it was one of the Euro-spec BF91 cars that BMW Canada had imported and sold instantly (3 days) to just 45 rabid fans thanks to a raucous and high-revving 282 horsepower (at 7,300 rpm) S50B30 3.0-litre inline-six conjoined to a five-speed manual that drove the rear wheels of a more rigidly constructed and lighter weight E36 coupe body shell (halted by vented brakes with floating rotors no less). A few years later an example came up for sale with just a handful of kilometers on the odometer, and the reseller, a trusting friend, threw me the keys.

These were pre-auto journalist days when I actually had to buy most of the cars I drove, so therefore my sequential bevy of personal BMWs (5), a Jaguar XJ, and countless beaters before these, had been powered by much less potent engines. That M3 was the most awe-inspiring car I'd driven to that point, Read Full Story
Big flagship luxury sedans don’t change up as quickly as more volume-oriented premium models, such as BMW’s ultra-popular D-segment 3 Series in comparison to its full-size F-segment 7. And for those…

2017 BMW 750Li Executive

2017 BMW 750Li Executive
Stylish new BMW 7 Series is best experienced in top-line extended wheelbase 750Li guise. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Big flagship luxury sedans don’t change up as quickly as more volume-oriented premium models, such as BMW’s ultra-popular D-segment 3 Series in comparison to its full-size F-segment 7. And for those customers at the top, this reality seems to be okay. The previous fifth-generation F01/F02/F03 body style lasted eight years before it saw the current G11/G12 arriving in 2015 as a 2016 model, so as you probably can ascertain this 2017 7 Series in our garage is not all that different from last year’s version.
2017 BMW 750Li Executive
The 750Li is long although nicely proportioned, while its details are exceptionally well finished. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
It’s difficult to imagine a luxury car being any better than the 750Li Executive parked there. Along with its Li moniker comes a 140-millimeter (5.5-inch) longer wheelbase for extended rear legroom, and BMW has taken full advantage of that extra length (as have we) by adding an available Executive Lounge package that provides one of the best first-class airliner-style reclining passenger seats that’s ever been integrated into a car.
2017 BMW 750Li Executive
LED headlamps and fog lights, plus big multi-spoke alloys set top-tier trims apart. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
The simple press of a digitized button integrated into the removable rear iDrive tablet that sits atop the fixed centre console powers the front passenger seat forward while automatically lowering an ottoman and positioning a fairly large TV screen in just the right position for easy viewing, while various massage features do wonders with your tired aching back, seat heating or cooling keeps you at the right temperature, and of course powered memory functions get the seatback into the ideal position and keep it there.
2017 BMW 750Li Executive
The only thing that might lure you away from the beautifully finished driver’s seat… (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Additional rear controls are added for the four-zone auto HVAC system, again adjustable via the tablet or iDrive tablet, while that aforementioned console includes a gorgeous pullout table, device chargers, and more, plus your surroundings include a beautiful dual-pane panoramic moonroof overhead, powered sunshades all-round, thicker glass for better sound insulation, the best quality quilted perforated leathers, satin-finish metals, lacquered woods, vertical parlour-style lights, and the list goes on.
2017 BMW 750Li Executive
… is the even more amazing rear quarters when the Executive package is added. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
The 750Li Executive isn’t only about the rear seating area, mind you, although I could go on ad infinitum about its lengthy menu of features, its incredible materials quality, and the superb craftsmanship throughout, but such can also be said for the driver’s experience that starts with the smartest smart key ever created, even capable of autonomous remote control parking and then rolling down an LED light carpet upon approach. It’ll put itself back too, or self-park if you don’t feel up to it, including self-braking if you don’t notice something in the way. What’s more, the new 7 can drive in full autonomous mode for up to 15 seconds (it could do more, but BMW is much more conservative than Tesla).
2017 BMW 750Li Executive
Stretch out and relax like you’ve never been able to do in a car before. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Self-synching soft-closing doors gently pull themselves shut while a fully configurable colour TFT primary gauges greets you once inside, as does a state-of-the-art 10.2-inch widescreen iDrive infotainment system that allows hand gestures in the air for controlling features. You’ll be seated in one of the best driver’s seats in the industry replete with ventilation and massage functions (why should the rear passenger get all the goodies?), while a fragrance dispenser in the glove box wafts nice perfumes (or aromatherapy scents) through the air, and then you’ve got to factor in that it’s a BMW, so the overall driving environment might make you want to take over the wheel more often than relaxing in back anyway.
2017 BMW 750Li Executive
The new 750Li is a truly special kind of executive limo. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
As usual with the In Our Garage segment I’ll leave any experiential info until later, but suffice to say its adjustable air suspension does what it’s supposed to and more, even adjusting itself ahead of otherwise pesky pavement imperfections such as bumps, potholes, manhole covers, bridge expansion joints, etcetera. Rear wheel steering is available, all of which is designed to make the most of the 750i’s 450 horsepower twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8, eight-speed automatic, and standard all-wheel drivetrain. It’s even fuel-efficient with a rating of just 14.3 L/100km in the city and 9.3 on the highway. Believe it or not there’s a lot more to cover, so come back soon for a full review including more detail about the drive, the comfort, the technology, the insanely powerful Bowers & Wilkins audio upgrade, and just how much all of this costs…
The i3 is one of the world’s bestselling electric cars for good reason; it combines traditional BMW quality, performance and features into a highly economical and practical 4-seat hatchback design.…

2016 BMW i3 REx Suite Road Test Review

Initially I had big plans for my BMW i3 REx tester. My partner Karen and I had a trip planned from our home in Richmond, BC to Whistler, with a hopeful stopover for breakfast and some meandering in Squamish in order to recharge battery and bodies. I knew it would require planning, but had no idea the very premise of my trip was flawed from the onset.

After all, I've seen every manner of electric car from humble Nissan Leafs to premium Teslas in Whistler, which is about an hour and a half from downtown Vancouver (approximately two hours from Richmond), and plenty more along the way. Tesla has a set of proprietary supercharging stations in Squamish and there's a less powerful Level II public variant on site as well, plus many more up in Whistler, so what could possibly be the problem?

My plan was to drive on full-electric power until the i3's battery ran out of juice, at which point the gasoline-powered range extender would take over and get us to Squamish where we'd recharge. Read Full Story
Entirely new for 2016, BMW’s X1 loses its optional straight six and goes it alone with a new less powerful 228-hp turbo four with 258 lb-ft of torque. A standard 8-speed auto powering all four wheels…

2016 BMW X1 xDrive28i Road Test Review

The new X1 is a heretic, at least in a dehumanized mechanical sense of the word. Alternatively we could call it an apostate, iconoclast or dissenter, although BMW would probably rather have us use the terms nonconformist or freethinker.

Why such a dramatic opening? Other than my obvious ploy to get your attention the latest X1 breaks from what was previously considered sacrosanct rear-wheel drive tradition and instead is based on a front-wheel drive architecture shared with the Mini Countryman. Will the majority of X1 buyers care? Not one iota, and neither should you. What should matter more is its category-best performance that'll shoot you from zero to 100km/h in just 6.5 seconds, segment-best headroom from front to back, and best-in-class cargo volume.

More so it's hardly a forerunner into front-wheel drive BMW territory, being that the 2 Series Active Tourer has been available in other markets for two years already plus the new 2 Series Gran Tourer expands on the Read Full Story