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Eight Is Still Not Enough For BMW

BMW has released details of the forcthcoming 8 Series coupe and convertible as the brand continues to renew its extensive range. The 8 Series features the BMW M850i xDrive Coupe with an Australian price of $272,900, and the BMW M850i xDrive Convertible, priced at $281,900. Prices include LCT but not on-road charges.
Power comes from a 4.4L twin turbo V8. 390 is the number of kilowatts, and they’re found between 5,500rpm and 6,000rpm. But it’s the impressive 750Nm of torque that tells a better story. Maximum twist is available from 1,800rpm and goes all the way through to 4,600rpm. This will launch the 850i Coupe to 100kmh in 3.7 seconds, with the slightly heavier Convertible just 0.2seconds slower. The torque comes from the inside-vee location of the twin-scroll turbos, with that location providing a better, quicker, response time. Aiding the beast up front is an eight speed auto with ratios well spaced to take advantage of the liners power and torque delivery. Matched to a manual change option of paddle shifts, BMW fits their brilliant “ConnectedShift” system which reads the road ahead and pre-empts a driver’s change of gears and adjusts the transmission automatically to suit the oncoming road.
A very tech-laden feature in the 8 series is the BMW Live Cockpit Professional. It’s a hi-res and customisable 12.3-inch instrument cluster that sits behind the steering wheel, with a 10.25-inch Control Display mounted in the centre of the vehicle.

Additional BMW Live Cockpit Professional features include adaptive navigation, a 20gb hard drive, two USB ports for type A and type C connections, Bluetooth and wireless charging. A Head Up Display is included and at 16 per cent larger than before, provides the driver with valuable feedback, enhancing safety and the driving experience.
This configurable system includes details of vehicle speed, Speed Limit Info, Check Control messages, detailed route guidance information, driving assistance information, and infotainment lists. Shifting the Drive Experience Control switch to SPORT or SPORT+ brings additional information, with engine revolutions and a shift indicator displayed.
The BMW Operating System 7.0 connects the driver’s displays with the infotainment system, enabling the overlay of information from the Control Display onto the instrument cluster.

A new feature, and one sure to make its way through to other marques, is the Digital Key. Near Field Communication (NFC) technology allows the new BMW 8 Series to be locked and unlocked from a smartphone. The smartphone simply has to be held up to the door handle to open the vehicle and, once inside, the engine can be started as soon as the phone has been placed in the Wireless Charging tray. Available via the BMW Connected App, the Digital Key also offers plenty of human flexibility, as the driver can share it with up to five other people.

Carbon fibre plays a bigger role than before in the chassis.Called “BMW Carbon Core centre transmission tunnel”, it reduces weight and adds rigidity, allowing optimised suspension geometry and improving both ride and handling characteristics. Front suspension is a double wishbone setup, and it’s specifically designed to separate the steering function from the damping force.and a five-link rear uses bi-elastic mountings and houses a load-bearing rear strut to further enhance rigidity and response.
Should one choose the soft top, the BMW 8 Series Convertible roof operates automatically via the touch of a button. It completes the opening or closing motion in only 15 seconds and can be activated at speeds of up to 50km/h.

Check with your BMW dealer for more details.
(Information courtesy of BMW Australia.)

Sleek And Sporty: Rimac Concept 1 and Rimac Concept 2.

Rimac is one of a number of new brands that is looking towards a purely electrically powered future for cars. Rimac itself has seemingly snuck under the radar, with its most notable achievement to date being the destruction of a car at the hands of a British car show host…

Rimac Automobili is based in Croatia and was founded in 2009 by Mate Rimac. He says that his original idea was to start with the proverbial blank sheet and grow an automotive design business from what started as a hobby. The dream was to build the world’s first fully eklectric sports car, and the kicker was having a petrol powered car’s engine that Rimac was racing expire, allowing he and his team to convert it to a fully battery powered system. As many components weren’t available “off the shelf” Rimac and co had to develop the parts themselves. They now hold 24 individual patents.Concept 1 was spawned from a series of cars being converted from petrol to electric. The success of the conversions had the owners of the converted cars spread the word of the company’s work. From here, Rimac was able to realise part of his dream and drew up plans for what would become the Rimac Concept 1.

Franfurt’s 2011 car show saw the first public showing of the Concept 1, and was greeted with largely positive reviews. At a cost of around USD$980,000, just 88 would be built. Rimac Concept 1 features a quartet of electric motors, with an output of 913kW/1224hp, and 1600Nm/1180lb-ft for torque. In a lightweight body of carbon fibre, the 90 kWh motors launch the Concept 1 to 100kmh/62mph in 2.6 seconds. It’ll see the double ton in 6.2 seconds and will crack the quarter mile in 9.9 seconds.

Range for the Rimac Concept 1 has also been increased as as the team further developed the car. Original range estimates hovered around the 200 mile mark, with current best world figures now around the 310 miles distance.Owners receive the Rimac All Wheel Torque Vectoring System, which distributes torque between all four paws on demand and depending on driver’s setup choices. The interior is bespoke leather and handmade trim.

The Rimac Concept 2 takes the original and expands and improves upon it in almost every area, including price. With expected first deliveries schedule for 2020 as the car undergoes testing and homologation, the current expected hit to the wallet is just under Eu1.8,000,000 or a tick over USD$2,000,000.

Rimac has really “upped the ante” for the Concept 2. Top speed? 415kmh/258mph. Power? 1408kW/1888hp. 100kmh/62mph time? 1.85 seconds. Range? 647km/402 miles. It’s been touted as being able to twice lap the fabled Nurburgring twice with no drop in overall performance. And charge time is said to be up to 80% in around a half hour.Autonomous driving is on board and is at a Level 4 standard. Eight cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors, lidar, and six radar sensors will go a long way to ensuring Level 4 driving for the owner. Extra smart tech comes in the form of facial recognition to unlock the butterfly wing doors that form an integral part of the super slippery body. Built of carbon fibre also, the chassis and body house the battery pack, mounted low for better weight distribution, centre of gravity, and handling. Weight is estimated though to still be around 1930kg/4300lb. There’s nary a hard edge to be seen on the Rimac Concept 2’s body, with sleek lines, plenty of aero influences, and a huge rear wing, necessary if Sir is to travel at 200mph.

The drive system is similar to the Concept 1, with full torque vectoring, and the ability to switch between front wheel, rear wheel, all wheel drive modes on the fly. The driver’s display screen can overlay driving lines to show an almost arcade game like look if the system senses that the car is being driven in the appropriate environment.

Just 150 examples are to be made and it’s said that all examples have been pre-sold.

Renault Climbs the Mountain Again With The Alpine A110.

Renault and Alpine (pronounced Al-peen) go back well over a half century. Much like AMG, M, or Tickford and HSV, Alpine was an extension for the venerable French brand in regards to the sorts of vehicles manufactured and was originally its own marque. The originals stood out in the World Rally Championships and Le Mans 24 Hours, and were noted for the slimline design, grip, and extra lights up front. Renault officially bought out the name in 1973.

In the early 2010s, Renault put down the plans to revive the name and in 2018, the reborn Alpine A110 saw Australian tarmac for the first time.Power comes from a mid-mounted 1.8L four cylinder with 188kW. That’s good enough to see the 1100kg two door to 100kmh in just 4.5 seconds, on its way to a top whack of 250kmh. Peak torque from the lusty turbocharged donk is 320Nm, and those velocities come courtesy of that peak torque being available at 2000rpm, the sweet spot for overtaking when needed. Weight is saved by using aluminuim throughout.
Styling is dramatic. In profile there’s no doubt about the car’s heritage. It’s a teardrop shape, with a slimline A pillar, low roof, and easy to live with B pillar. The doors have a deep set scallop, and the rear end evokes classic European coupes. Rear lights are full LEDs. The rear glass burrows deep into the sides of the Alpine A110 and hide what would be an otherwise conventional coupe shape. Wheels are 18 inches in diameter and have different styles for the three models available, the Australian Premiere Edition, A110 Pure, and A110 Legende.. Inside it’s comfortable in a two door, two seater, kind of way. Leather and cloth seats feature a diamond quilt pattern in the material, which is also featured in the doors, and the seats themselves are fitted with strong bolsters. The centre console features three buttons for the gear selection, an unusual design choice, but they mirror the three dials in the binnacle for information. The Alpine also features a telematics screen that allows track day drivers to monitor their on-road and on-track prowess. There’s access to tyre pressures, power and torque display, and other forms of engine information. Pricing starts from $97K plus on-roads. The Australian Premiere Edition is limited to just 60 units and is priced from $106K plus on-roads.

Car Review: 2019 Renault Trafic Crew Life LCV

This Car Review Is About:
The 2019 Renault Trafic Crew Life LCV (light commercial vehicle). It’s a long wheelbase version with a dedicated passenger cabin. Renault have it, at the time of writing, at a stellar $47,990 driveaway.Under The Bonnet Is:
A surprisingly torquey twin-turbo 1.6L diesel. At just 1500rpm there is 340Nm, and peak power isn’t bad either. At 3500rpm there is 103kW, although by then it’s run out of puff. The transmission fitted to the review vehicle is a slick six speed manual, driving the front wheels, that’s geared to take advantage of the torque early on to get it under way. There is no auto option. Economy is rated as 6.2L/100km, and the final figure of over 420km for a quarter tank (80L volume) consumed speaks volumes. And that’s with a dry weight of 1,736 kilos.
On The Outside It’s:
A van. Yes, it’s stating the obvious but sometimes the obvious is all there is. From front and rear perspectives its virtually cubical. From a side profile the long wheelbase (3,498mm inside an overall 5,399mm)is readily apparent, as is the elegantly profiled nose, complete with bonnet. This makes accessing the engine easier and provides a higher measure of impact protection. Front overhang is 938mm, with a rear overhang of 968mm.

The body in white highlighted the tinted windows fitted to the left and right hand side sliding doors which aren’t remotely operable. The windows themselves house slightly tricky sliding windows, and pull down sun shades. Overall cargo is rated as six cubic metres for the standard LWB, four metres for the crew cab version.
The alloy wheels are 17 inches in diameter and are wrapped in commercial spec, yet very comfortable and grippy, rubber of 215/60 profile from Dunlop.

The non-powered tailgate is surprisingly easy to lift, with a balance point requiring little effort in order to raise it. There is also an embedded pullstrap to help lower the door.

Both driver and passenger door mirrors have a number of wide angle mirrors to back up the reverse camera and rear sensors.

On The Inside It’s:
Got seating for six. There’s adequate room up front for three, even with the protuberance for the gear selector. Underneath the centre and left seat are storage compartments which are accessed by lifting the squab. The driver’s storage has a tool kit.

The other three seats have plenty of room all around, and behind them was a bulkhead separating the passenger section from the load bay. There was just enough body flex to have the bulkhead mounts squeaking quite a bit.
Although clearly a commercial vehicle, Renault’s ergonomics cant be faulted, for the most part. The gear selector housing has some impact on the centre seat passenger, but that’s unavoidable as it’s also ideally placed to fall naturally to hand for shifting.

The starter button is quite visible, so there’s no hunting around. Switchgear is just where the body feels it needs to be, and the left mounted indicator (with auto headlights) is a fingertip away. The floor is easy to clean rubber, with driver and front passengers stepping up easily.
A handy touch or two are the inbuilt mobile phone holder and upper dash storage locker. The phone holder is engineered to twist and to extend in height with the push of a button.
The seven inch touchscreen is easy to operate and read, and there is the pleasant addition of digital radio. However, much like the Megane recently reviewed, the tuner sensitivity isn’t on par with that from other manufacturers. Having said that, overall sound quality from the door mounted speakers, partnered with a pair mounted above and behind the driver and left front passenger, delighted in their depth and clarity.

On The Road It’s:

More car like in ride and handling than it had the right to be. The front wheels are ahead of the front seats but felt as if they were directly under them. With such a long body and wheelbase there was an expectation of dragging tne rear wheels on curbs in corners. It simply didnt happen. Somehow, the knowledge of where each corner was became almost intuitive vey quickly. Not once did the length of the Trafic Life pose an issue.

Driven in the environment it was, a predominantly urban drive, and with one to four aboard, plus a week’s load of shopping, the 1.6L engine never seemed as if it would struggle in this specific kind of usage. If used in a purely commercial way, that would probably be a different story.
But that’s where the low gearing for first and second worked so well. Below 1300 or 1400 revs, the Trafic Life had little. Life, that is. But once tbe turbo spooled up there was a rapid change in tne nature of it, and the 340 torques introduced themselves with a flourish.

Further up the gears and in both town and highway driving, the Trafic Life was rarely found wanting. The engine management system has an anti-stall feature, and once or twice at traffic lights this kicked in, enabling the get-away otherwise wanted.

It’s a superb highway cruiser, and around the urban drive cycle, fourth or fifth was all that was required. Braking, too, was wonderful, with an easy to judge feel, and plenty of speed reduction quickly.
Actual ride quality was enjoyable, with a firm, but not unpleasantly so suspension setup. Matched with a quick steering rack and driven hard through the tight and twisting turns on one particular Blue Mountains thoroughfare, the Trafic Life demonstrated just how well thought out and engineered the underpinnings are.

What About Safety And Warranty?
Front and side airbags, daytime running lights, Hill Start Assist, and the mandated traction aids are standard. Renault doesn’t list AEB or distance sensing cruise control. Warranty is listed as 3 years, unlimited kilometres, with annual or 30,000 kilometre service intervals.
At The End Of The Drive.
PF handed back the 2019 Renault Trafic Life with regret. It’s a better than expected family vehicle, economic to drive, comfortable whilst doing so, and has an easy to maintain interior. In colours other than the plain white our review vehicle came in, it’d also be a reasonably handsome looker on road. And at under $50k driveaway its a screaming bargain as a people mover.

For more details on the Renault Trafic range, here is where you can find them.

Fiat Goes Rare With 500C Spiaggina ’58 Edition.

Rare indeed will be the Fiat 500C Spiaggina ’58 Edition, as just 30 units will be be released. Priced from $25,990 (manufacturers list price) the car pays tribute to the 500 Jolly Spiaggina, the first special series of the Fiat 500 which was on sale in the late 1950s through to the mid 1960s. It was the embodiment of ” La Dolce Vita”, with its quirky styling, 22 horsepower engine, and doorless body.The 2019 version will feature both manual and auto transmissions, and will come with $3000 worth of extras at no cost. Outside will be the brilliant Volare Blue body colour, 16 inch white painted wheels in a classic and vintage look, and a white “beauty line”.Splashes of chrome add extra “bling” on the bonnet, mirror covers, and inserts in the bumpers. Bespoke Spiaggina branding is part of the look, with a rear quarter badge, plus “500” logos shown inside the compact yet comfortable cabin. Extra airiness comes courtesy of the beige fabric folding roof.The design itself is based on a concept car which featured no roof, a roll bar, and no rear seat.Power for the 2019 version is rated as 51kW from Fiat’s peppy 1.2L engine. The manual is a five speed, with the auto also a five speed. That option will be priced at $27, 490 (manufacturer’s list price). A seven inch Uconnect touchscreen will be standard, as will Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, climate control, and rear parking sensors.

Fiat Australia has the car on sale as of February 12, 2019. Contact them here.

BMW Unveils 1 Series M140i Finale Edition

Rear wheel drive and a front mounted engine has been a BMW hallmark for decades. The 1 series hatch has been a comparitively new part of the configuration’s history for the iconic German brand, and with the model’s end in sight, the company has signed off on the Finale package for the 2019 BMW 1 Series M140i.

The Finale package on its own is worth $3000, and with the M140i priced at $62,990, it’s a reasonable ask. Here’s what the spec list, built on an already well specified car, looks like.

M branded alloys of 18 inch diameters in 436 M Orbit Grey will underpin the Finale, whilst on top is a glass sunroof. At each end are darkened lights with the front end getting a high gloss blackout look that complements the black chrome tail pipes. Bespoke badging sets off the colour work outside. An extra tech piece is added in the form a smartphone charging pad.

Motorvation is from the 250kW, 500Nm, straight six engine of 3.0L capacity. Hooked up to an eight speed auto there’s enough grunt to see one hundred klicks in 4.6 seconds. Fuel consumption is rated as 7.1L for every one hundred kilometres driven. And the standard equipment list is pretty good too. Blue painted calipers hold the M Sports brakes, there are adaptive LED headlights with BMW Selective Beam, and Adaptive M Suspension.

There is BMW’s Navigation System Professional with the built-in 8.8-inch display, plus BMW ConnectedDrive system which can be enjoyed from the seats complete with Leather Dakota upholstery, along with BMW’s Comfort Access System.

Contact your BMW dealer for more details.

 

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Renault Megane RS 280 Cup Chassis

This Car Review Is About:
A vehicle with good looks, a fluid drivetrain, and a manual gearbox, a real rarity in cars nowadays. The 2019 Renault Megane RS 280 is a potent weapon, and with some extras becomes the Cup Chassis spec. It’s classified as a small car yet should be listed in the sports car category. And it’s well priced too, at $44,990 plus on roads and the Cup Chassis package of $1490. The dual clutch transmission doesn’t offer the Cup Chassis and is priced from $47,490 plus on roads.Under The Bonnet Is:
A free-spinning 1.8L petrol engine complete with a silent turbo. Silent, as in there is no waste-gate noise. What there is aurally is a muted thrum from the twin pipes located centrally at the rear. Peak power is 205kW or, 280 horsepower, hence the name. Peak torque of 390Nm is available from 2400rpm and is available through to 4800 rpm. An easy 80% of that peak is available from 1500rpm. Consumption of 95RON, the minimum RON requirement, is rated as 7.4L/100km on the combined cycle. Around town it’s 9.5L/100km and a wonderful 6.2L/100km on the highway. These figures are for the slick shifting, short throw, manual transmission.On The Inside Is:
Reasonable leg space for most people with a 2669mm wheelbase, but the limited shoulder room of 1418mm can result in the occasional arm bump. There’s black cloth covered, manually operated, seats front and rear, with the RS logo boldly sewn into the front seat head rests. Leather and alcantara coverings are an $1100 option. All windows are one touch up or down, and boot space is decent for the size of the car at 434L. There’s faux carbon fibre trim on the doors and fairly average looking plastics on the upper and centre dash. To add a splash of sports and colour, the pedals are aluminuim plates. There is a pair of USB ports, an SD slot, and a 12V socket for the front seats, a solitary 12V in the rear.There is plenty to like on a tech level, and certainly for anyone that is technically minded. The experience starts with having the credit card sized key fob on the body. Walk up to the car and the wing mirrors fold out. A slight touch of the door handle unlocks the car, and then there’s the pounding heartbeat and graphics to welcome the driver inside.Hands free park assist is on board, as is blind spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control. AEB or Autonomous Emergency Braking is standard as well. The car’s electronics system holds some true delights that are accessible via the vertically aligned 8.7 inch touchscreen. Apart from the standard look of audio and navigation, swiping left or right brings up extra information. There are graphs that show the travel of torque, and power, with a line showing the actual rev point relative to the production of both. There are readings for turbo pressure, throttle position, torque, and the angle of the rear steering. Yep, the Megane RS 280 has adjustable rear steering, which will pivot against or in unison with the front wheels at up to six degrees depending on velocity. At speeds up to 60 kmh it’s 2.7 degrees against and above that will parallel the front wheels.There are five drive modes, accessed via the RS button on the centre dash. This brings up Neutral, Comfort, Race, Sport, and Personal. Selecting these imbues the RS with different personalities, such as changing the exhaust note, the ride quality, and the interior lighting. Naturally the LCD screen for the driver changes as well.But for all of its techno nous, the audio system is a weak link, a very weak link. The speakers themselves which includes a nifty bass tube, are from Bose and they’re brilliant but are paired with a digital tuner that is simply the worst for sensitivity AWT has encountered. In areas where signal strength is known to be strong, the tuner would flip between on and off like a faulty light switch, making listening to DAB a more than frustrating experience. It makes the $500 ask for the system somewhat questionable until the sensitivity issue can be remedied.The Outside Has:
A delightfully curvy shape. In truth, finding a hard line is near impossible. From the front, from the side, from the rear, the Megane’s body style is pert, rounded, and puts a field of circles to shame. The rear especially can be singled out for a strong resemblance to a certain soldier’s helmet from a famous sci-fi film franchise. Up front there’s Pure Vision LED lighting. That’s in both the triple set driving lights and the headlights that sit above and beside an F1 inspired blade. The iridescent amber indicators are set vertically and could illuminate the moon’s surface. Black painted “Interlagos” alloys look fantastic against the Orange Tonic paint ($800 option) as found on the test vehicle, and have super grippy 245/35 rubber from Michelin. Brembo provide the superb stoppers, and wheel arch vents bookend the thin black plastic strips that contrast and add a little extra aero.Exhaust noise, as muted as it is, emanates from a pair of pipes that are centrally located inside an impressive looking rear diffuser, and have a decent measure of heat shielding. The manually operated tail gate opens up to provide access to no spare tyre at all. There is a compressor, some goop, and that’s it. They sit in a niche alongside the bass tube that adds some seriously enjoyable bottom end to the audio system.On The Road It’s:
A suitably impressive piece of engineering. The powerplant is tractable to a fault, with performance across the rev range that combines with the genuinely excellent manual gear selector and clutch. Out test period coincided with a drive to Dubbo and perhaps an out of the comfort zone test for a vehicle more suited to the suburbs and track days.

The Cup Chassis pack adds the aforementioned wheels and brakes, plus a Torsen front diff, and revised suspension. Inside the dampers are extra dampers, effectively an absorber for the absorber. And along with the noticeable change in ride quality when Sport or Race are selected, the rough tarmac heading west made for an interesting test track.

To utilise the Megane RS 280 properly is to understand what synergy means. From a standing start and banging the gears upwards to sixth, or to press down on the go pedal at highway speeds and see the old ton appear (allegedly) in a few breaths is to feel what a truly well sorted engine package can deliver. Crack on, and the metric ton appears in 5.8 seconds. It all happens because everything works so well together. The steering is instinctive, as is the ride and handling. And using the drive modes makes a real difference in an unexpected way.Unusually but not unexpectedly, there is torque steer if booting hard from a standing start. However that Torsen front diff quickly dials that out, keeping the sweet looking front end on the straight and narrow. The clutch and gear selector are perfectly paired to complement the engine’s free revving nature. The clutch is smooth, well pressured, and the actual gear pick up point is ideally placed towards the top of the pedal’s travel. Selecting the six forward gears is via a beautifully weighted and sprung lever, with a lift up lock-out to engage reverse.

Normal driving conditions have the Megane RS 280 quietly doing its thing. Light the candle, engage Sport or Race, and the rough, pockmarked, tarmac past Bathurst changes from a minor annoyance in Neutral to a flatter, more enjoyable ride quality. Think of corrugations spaced apart enough for the wheels to rise and fall over them, then suddenly close up to the point that the car feels as if it’s riding over the peaks alone. Throttle response is sharper as well, and is perhaps more noticeable from a standing start.

With the final drive seeing peak torque at highway rated velocities, it also means that a simple flex of the right ankle has the Megane breathe in and hustle on with alacrity. The already communicative steering gains an extra level of vocabulary when changed to Sport and Race. There’s a weightier feel in the turns, imbuing the driver with a sense of real connectivity to the front end. Combined with the 4Control rear steering adjustment, corners become flatter and straighter.

One extra nifty piece of tech came from the GPS and satnav system. Between the towns of Wellington and Orange is a set of average speed speed cameras, and the GPS flashes up on the screen to advise what the average speed of the car is. Some judicious driving and watching the indicated average speed change, and that’s a good thing.

The Warranty Is:
Three years for any sports oriented model down from the standard five. Service the Megane RS 280 Cup Chassis at a Renault dealership and there’s up to four years of roadside assist plus up to three years capped priced servicing.

At The End Of The Drive.
Renault has competition on both sides of the price point. But having a six speed manual nowadays makes the Megane RS 280 a standout for those that like to be engaged and involved in the driving experience. The Orange Tonic paint is an eyecatcher, and unfortunately attracts tryhards like pollen to a bee.As a driving experience, it’s not unlike slipping into a tailor made suit and shoes, as everything just feels….right. But the lack of aural caressing, and the lousy DAB tuner, as part of the overall experience, dull the sparkle. But not enough to get out of the 2019 Renault Megane RS 280 Cup Chassis without a grin of pure pleasure.

A good start in finding out more is to click here.

Wheels Car Of The Year Winner Is…..

2019 Volvo XC40 R-Design Launch Edition.

BMW 3 Series Gets Makeover.

BMW‘s evergreen 3 Series has been given a substantial makeover for its impending release. The seventh generation of the car, first released in 1975, will come to Australia for a March 2019, on sale date. There’s a two model range on offer, with the 320d priced from $67,900 plus on roads (includes GST and LCT), and the 330i from $70,900. An xDrive M340i M performance model will hit our shores later in 2019.The 3 Series stays with a 50:50 weight distribution with the additional benefit of a weight loss of up to 55kg. Body rigidity has gone up by 25% to 50% which helps handling, along with the wider front and rear tracks for extra grip. A revamped suspension also comes into play, with a redesigned front end having more camber, and variable damper ratings allowing for 20% stiffer spring rates.

BMW’s Adaptive M suspension system is here, with electronically-controlled dampers. This system offers comfort- and sport-focused modes that are changeable in-cockpit. It combines the 10mm lower ride height and geometries of the M sport suspension standard in the 320d. M Sport brakes with blue callipers are standard on the 330i and have four pistons up front, and one piston rears. Handling can be further improved by opting for the M Sport differential with variable torque distribution.An exterior redesign has a one piece grille and the LED adaptive twin headlights up front, a redesigned and sharper look to the iconic Hofmeister kink, and reprofiled taillights with a smoky glaze. The diesel will have a choice of 18 inch diameter alloys, with the petrol fed version having 19s.BMW have bitten the bullet on the options list too. The M Sport Package is standard and the Luxury Line package is an option at zero cost. BMW says the M Sport Package brings the following elements to the 3 Series:  BMW Individual High-gloss Shadow Line, with black window frames and air breather surrounds, M Aerodynamics Package with aerodynamic front and rear bumper sections and side sills,  BMW Individual interior Headliner in Anthracite, M Leather steering wheel with multifunction buttons, Interior trim finishers in Aluminium Tetragon, 18-inch M light alloy wheels in bicolour, double-spoke design (320d), 19-inch M light alloy wheels in bicolour, double-spoke design (330i), and M Sport Brakes (330i).Choose the Luxury Line pack and there are: Leather Vernasca upholstery, Interior trim finishers in fine-wood, high-gloss ash grey, Sport leather steering wheel, Instrument panel in sensatec, Sport seat for driver and front passenger, 18-inch light alloy wheels in bicolour, multi-spoke design (320d), and 19-inch BMW Individual light alloy wheels in bicolour, double-spoke design (330i).

Interior space has been increased as well thanks to a 43mm wheelbase increase along with an increase of width of 16mm. Backed against an increased level of trim quality are improved support from the electrically adjustable sports seats, a choice of 3 wood and 2 aluminiom trims, and BMW’s Operating System 7.0. This incorporates a 12.3 inch hi-res display screen for the instrument cluster and a 10.25 inch centre console display screen. New for the 3 Series is Head Up Display, standard on the range. Naturally the safety standards are high with Lane Change and Lane Departure Warnings, amongst others, as standard.Contact Private Fleet to see what we can do for you on price, and contact BMW for more details.

Car Review: 2019 Renault Koleos Life

Renault’s push to gain more market share in Australia is working well if the 2019 Renault Koleos Life is any standard to judge by. Model shared with Nissan (the X-Trail), the Life is the entry level model of the Koleos range. Renault have sharpened the pencil and it’s available at a driveaway cost of $29,990.Power comes from a 2.5L petrol engine which is mated to a CVT, or Constant Variable Transmission. Peak power of 126kW comes in at 6000rpm, with peak torque on tap at 4400rpm. There are 226 torques to play with and most of them don’t come out to play until around 3000rpm. The CVT is an old school style in that it feels like a slipping clutch on a manual gearbox under full load. The tacho swings around to the 4000rpm mark before easing off. Freeway speeds sees the tacho at around the 2200rpm mark. It’s also old school in that there aren’t any pre-programmed steps for manual shifting. This also means no paddle shifts on the steering column.Renault quotes 8.1L per 100km for the 1552kg front wheel drive Koleos Life from the 60L tank. AWT saw an average of 10.1L/100km in a purely urban drive and that near enough matches Renault’s figure of 10.4L/100km. It’s fair to say that a good portion of that consumption would come from the acceleration part of the drive as the Koleos needs a reasonably heavy right foot if any rapidity for forward motion is needed. Although CVTs do tend to work best with low torque engines, in the Life it works against the engine’s characteristics by not having the “steps” more commonly found now.Where the Koleos picks up bonus points is in the ride and handling. It’s got a sweet tune to the suspension with a suppleness and confidence to the ride rarely felt in this kind of vehicle. It’s a composed setup at worst, a delight to be in at best. Rebound is controlled quickly, road intrusions are damped rapidly, and sits flat on most types of surface. The steering rack is fast in the initial twirl, but there is a sense of numbness in between. It’s light and perhaps over-assisted to boot. As a driving package, it’s not quite the whole being bigger than the sum of its parts, but it’s also not far off that. Cornering is a doddle, again thanks to the steering, and it sits nicely as it does so. The 225/65/17 rubber from Kumho contributes to the comfort and handling.The exterior is smooth, with plenty of curves front and rear. It’s a pretty car, if such a thing can be said about a mid-sized SUV. The signature part of the Koleos is the swooping LED line around each corner of the upper front end, starting with the top of the headlights, that slides down into the lower corners. The indicators are LEDs and are integrated into the overall design. It’s a stylish look, visually effective, and is an ideal counterpoint to the similar curvature designed into the rear.It’s a non-powered tailgate in the Life, not unexpectedly, but it’s an easy lift and exposes a 458L boot (seats up). That has an increase to 1690L once the seats are folded, and with a 770mm sill lift, isn’t the most difficult place to get a load into. Seating is comfortable to a fault, there is plenty of space for four, five at a pinch, and the plastics, although not soft touch, look good. It’s a “proper” key start, not a wireless fob, and unusually it’s a foot operated parking brake, an anachronism nowadays.What’s also a standout, and not always necessarily in a positive way, is where Renault place items such as audio controls and cruise control buttons. Where some companies have a stalk behind the steering wheel for cruise control, Renault has a similarly designed and placed stalk for the audio. And where some may have cruise control buttons on the steering wheel arms, Renault place the on/off switches in the centre console.The driver’s dash itself is a simple and elegant affair. A centrally placed full colour LCD screen is bracketed by two almost semi-circle dials showing temperature and fuel, whilst inside on the LCD csreen is an understated display option, with the drive modes to the left and variable info to the right. The centre stack is dominated by a large touchscreen with one interesting feature. Renault has programmed in a Distance Without Fuel Consumption display, a unique idea indeed. The overall design is balanced, uncluttered, and user friendly.Safety at this entry level is decent. A full suite starts the party, with the mandated braking and traction systems on board backed up by the Advanced Emergency Braking System. The Life misses out on front sensors but does get rear sensors. Tyre Pressure Monitoring is standard across the four level Koleos range. Life dips out on Blind Spot Warning however does get Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning. It does get a five star safety rating in the EuroNCAP ratings system.

Warranty is five years and is backed by capped price serving, which gives Renault owners four years of 24/7 roadside assistance if Renault services the car.

At The End Of The Drive.
Although sharing some basics with its Nissan sibling, the Koleos can be considered to be a more appealing vehicle in the looks department, and would need to be driven directly against the X-Trail to fairly compare the ride and handling. Having said that it definitely is a cushy ride and a responsive handler. At at a driveaway price of the $30K the Life is a great starting point. You can find out more here.