Not wanting to be left out of all the fun and frolics of that big sporting event happening in the capital city, ESM decided to get on board with the Olympic spirit. Whilst EngageSportMode wasn’t at the opening ceremony/Victorian Farm the Musical which happened last night, it can at least add some tenuous related car-based writing to the copper cauldron. Though with less geese, and certainly with less Paul McCartney (thank God).
As you may, or may not, know BMW is heavily involved with London 2012. Due to its heady position as official automotive partner, BMW is offering 4,000 vehicles to chauffeur athletes and VIPs around. The company was also responsible for the vehicles which followed the Torch Relay, including ones decked out in a blindingly bright gold wrap.
Unfortunately for those who live in Cheshire, BMW doesn’t actually offer an actual gold wrap off the shelf. Though if you live in Dubai or similar and have enough money, I’m sure they’ll be happy to oblige. So, to make the Olympic dream a bit more achievable, ESM decided to browse the BMW model list and pull out the actually obtainable models with a winning theme and colour scheme. And by winning, I mean the latest offerings from Bavaria which have won the prize for steering as far away as possible from what BMW used to be about; something previously touched on.
I spent a while playing around with the rather easy to use configurator tool on the BMW website to “make” these possible. So here we go, with the prize winners in the BMW Olympic Podium of Shame:
Third place in this event is actually a tie. The first contender I came across was this:
Mmm. A Marrakesh Brown X6. Obviously it is more dog excrement than precious metal in colour, but ESM really strongly dislikes the X6 so it’s inclusion was needed in this roster. Even after coming across this:
Yes it’s that old EngageSportMode conundrum, the 6-Series Gran Coupe. As big as a 7-Series, just as expensive but less practical and only slightly more swoopy looking, this enigmatic machine is available in the above displayed Frozen Bronze. Which actually in real life is more of a matte brown colour. But let us not be picky; BMW say it’s bronze, so it must be. It’s inclusion is also warranted for the chance to have this interior combination, which you actually have to pay MORE for:
I actually left the details uncropped to prove that this wasn’t something I just hashed together. If your heart so desires, you can indeed have a BMW with a white and brown/orange-y interior. The mind boggles.
For the runner-up, ESM picked a brand new offering from Munich: the M6. Gone is the wailing V10, instead replaced with a turbo V8 as used in the latest M5. Road tests have highlighted that the latest M6 is apparently found to be lacking as a driver’s machine, which for a M-branded car is concerning. It also happens to be hideously expensive. Starting at an already pricey £93,795, through ticking all the options I managed to spec this Silverstone II coloured machine to this price-tag:
Yes, that’s £114,545.00. In GBP, not Yen or anything else. Or about the price of an Audi R8 V10; yes I know it’s not the same kind of car, but I know where I’d rather put my lottery winnings/controversial banking industry bonus were it me.
And the winner is:
The 5-Series GT. Another confusing concept of a car, and one that also happens to be horrendously ugly. BMW offer it in this Milano Beige which was about as close as I could get to something on-screen which replicated gold. £64k, for something with a face only a mother (or marketing executive) could ever love. Shameful.
But, all is not lost in Munich. As, whilst perusing the configurator, I was immensely pleased to see this little number available:
In the crazy, modern world of the hot-hatch, a Volkswagen Golf GTi has a starting price of over £25,000. The latest Renaultsport Megane 265 Trophy will require almost £29k to be yours, and Audi’s now not so limited edition RS3 charges £39,930. However, the M135i starts from less than £30,000 (I’d added options on the one pictured) yet boasts firepower to tackle the even the fiercest of current performance hatchback.
The Valenica Orange paintwork isn’t the only thing it has in common with that old ESM favourite; the 1-Series M Coupe. Essentially the M135i uses a slightly detuned version of its turbocharged 3.0 litre straight-six to give 320 bhp, and 0-60 mph in 5.0 seconds. Flat-out it’ll hit an electronically limited 155 mph, whilst it’s still frugal enough to offer an official combined mpg of 35.3. It doesn’t photograph well, but in the flesh it does look better believe me.
Given that the old M Coupe cost around £40k and was scarcely quicker, BMW looks to be offering something with 9/10ths of the performance for only 3/4ths the price. Could the M135i be the possible Yohan Blake to the M Coupe’s Usain Bolt in ESMCoTY2012? Wait and see in December.
With another 2 weeks of the Olympics, ESM can take no responsibility for the potential for more tenuously linked items to appear. Although it can guarantee Paul McCartney will not turn up at the end to ruin everything.
As you might be able to tell, this had rapidly descended into a week of BMW themed items. I’ll be honest, this wasn’t intentional, but once something has started there’s no reason to stop it.
Today I was reading about the forthcoming BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe, revealed at this year’s Geneva Motorshow. To be perfectly honest, I’m struggling hugely to understand the point of this huge vehicle:
To put it into context, the old 740i in Tuesday’s ICAT was about 5 metres long. The new 6-Series Gran Coupe is just about dead on 5 metres in length, and only 65mm shorter than a contemporary 7-Series. BMW is marketing this machine as a four-door coupe; a concept which really goes against the very principle of what a coupe is, traditionally being a two-door bodyshell. But in reality, with quad openings, it is a saloon by any other name.
Which leads me to the further question of who exactly is this car aimed at? Pricewise, in the UK it’s going to start at £61,000 for the most basic (albeit still rather well specced model), whereas the slightly larger 7-Series costs from as little (!) as £57,000. I’m sure the ad men would say clearly the Gran Coupe is aimed at a much different customer; those who wish to drive themselves rather than be chauffeured. They might also add that the Gran Coupe is more rakish and stylish than the 7-Series, but when you consider them in profile I’m not convinced the difference is so marked:
Yes there is clearly less headroom in the rear of the Gran Coupe, but unless you’re in the habit of driving around basketball players in top hats, I can’t really see it being an issue. The GC also has a few more droopy and swoopy bits, but they’re hardly poles apart. The engine choices are broadly similar, as are the transmission setups and the overall chassis underpinnings. Genuinely, for me, this is perhaps one market segment too far. However, this is not the first time BMW has strayed into the outer reaches of the car-buying market. Take the 5-Series GT as proof the Bavarians will often give you the answer to a question you’d never even dreamt of asking, let alone wrote down and sent off to their shiny headquarters.
BMW brands the 5-Series Gran Turismo as a Progressive Activity Sedan. What that actually means…I’m not sure. Size wise, again it’s knocking on the door of the magic 5 metre marker, with interior space bigger than 5-Series Touring and a bit more headroom than the X5 SUV. At £45k it’s a lot more expensive than the 5-Series Touring which starts at £32k, but level with the X5. Just without the 4×4 off-road capability of BMW’s established SUV. To try to make some sense of this, lets look at them all in profile:
Any clearer? I didn’t think so. The key perhaps lies in the American market (as ever) where the 5-Series Touring didn’t prove to be particularly popular. The result being the bloated GT is the replacement for the regular estate 5-Series, though given the US market’s obsession with all things SUV, surely the X5 answers that question anyway? Although if that high, straight roofline of the regular X5 is cramping your style far too much, there is always this:
Yes, the X6. A 4×4 Sports Activity Coupe with a swept back roof and 4WD grubby bits. There’s also an M version should you feel the need to be truly vulgar about your personal wealth/ability to be taken in by marketing.
As I said earlier in the week, BMW used to be a company that produced similar looking saloons in different lengths. The above evidence makes it rather clear that those days are long gone. BMW is not concerned with making the best driver’s cars, it now seems more bothered about filling every little market niche, on the off-chance that one person might need a vehicle of that kind.
Even 10 years ago I would probably have been able to explain the brand rationale behind Bayerische Motoren Werke. These days, I’m really not so sure. I’m glad the company still produces little glimmers of awesomeness like the 1M, but given that the latest M5 features synthesised engine noises I worry that nothing is sacred in Munich anymore.