The 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show opened its doors last week at the L.A. Convention Center, where many of the industry’s largest automakers welcomed the press and presented their most exciting and newest vehicles. As the first major event in the U.S. auto show season, anticipation was high as to what would be in store this year.
After having cut back during the recession, automotive companies are beginning to respond to the rebound in auto sales by establishing a greater presence at the world’s biggest auto shows; that was certainly the case at this year’s L.A. auto show. One of the hottest brands in the industry over the past few years has been BMW, which is riding a wave of momentum and breaking company sales records. On Wednesday, November 20, BMW kicked off the press event by making quite an impression, revealing a few new models that the brand hopes will propel it to new heights.
BMW Motorsport GmbH was created in 1972 as a subsidiary of BMW AG for the purpose of pushing the boundaries of automotive technology to develop and engineer the best performance vehicles offered by the company. In 1978, the M division revealed its first creation for production at the Paris Motor Show in the form of the M1 supercar, which would precede numerous M-badged models for the brand in the decades to follow.
Now, as the industry continues to evolve into a new era of environmental consciousness, alternative powertrains have become more prevalent in the form of hybrid, electric, and even fuel cell technologies. As a sign of the automaker following this trend, the brand formed its new BMW i division to champion its vision of sustainable mobility by means of electrification. Much like how its M division turned heads with its original M halo car, the i division is now stepping up to the plate with the unveiling of its i8 sports car in Los Angeles.
While many automakers have delved into alternative powertrain technologies with a primary focus on fuel efficiency and emissions, few have attempted to, let alone succeeded in, producing a truly dynamic vehicle with the feel of a legitimate sports car. BMW, with its all-new i8, appears to have developed a car in a class of its own and the model will be seen on public roads in spring 2014. The i8 is expected to arrive with a price tag of $135,700, before destination and handling, and the plug-in hybrid will be powered by a three-cylinder 1.5-liter gasoline engine with 231 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque, complemented by an electric motor that will boost output to 362 total hp and 420 lb-ft of torque.
Utilizing a six-speed automatic gearbox as the only transmission option, the car is expected to post a 0-62 mph time of 4.4 seconds in addition to achieving the equivalent of 94 mpg, which will likely vary depending on the driving mode chosen, either sport, comfort or eco pro. Also, the sports car will be capable of all-electric drive for about 22 miles, making the hybrid i8 a genuinely unique vehicle that will appeal to both speed junkies and the environmentally conscious alike.
As expected at the show held in sunny Southern California, BMW debuted its open-top 2014 4-Series model for those looking to drive their BMW with the top down. The counterpart to the 3-Series coupe features a folding hardtop, just as its 3-Series predecessor did, and will come in two different trims, but for the first time ever will be offered with the option of xDrive for when the car finds itself transitioning from sandy beaches to snowy mountain resorts.
With the 428i Convertible, drivers will enjoy a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine that powers the car from 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds thanks to its 240 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque. For individuals looking for even more performance, however, the 435i Convertible will be available with a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine that touts 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, reaching 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds. Only offered with an eight-speed automatic transmission, the 4-Series Convertible starts at $48,750 for the 428i and $54,900 for the 435i, but the car will be offered in Sport Line, Luxury Line and M Sport trims for those looking to dress up their convertible even more.
Since 1999, when BMW began operation of its Spartanburg, South Carolina manufacturing facility, the automaker has produced hundreds of thousands of X models, beginning with its ever-popular X5 SUV. Such success led to the creation of even more utility vehicles that increased sales volumes worldwide and the brand continues to find space in its product portfolio in which to offer new X derivatives.
The newest model to fit this mold is the BMW Concept X4, which made its official appearance in Los Angeles before it goes on sale in 2014. Dubbed by the brand as a “Sports Activity Coupe” concept study, the vehicle was designed to embody both the strength that BMW X embodies as well as the athleticism of a BMW coupe. The little brother to the X6 midsize crossover will be built on the same platform as the X3 and the two are expected to share many of the same components once production is underway, including engine offerings, but the X4’s interior is expected to be more luxurious. While pricing has yet to be officially announced, the X4 should slot underneath the X5 and will likely start in the mid-to-upper $40,000s.
Through October, the BMW brand sold 240,376 units, up 12.9%, and the automaker from Bavaria is showing no signs of slowing down. With a number of new and exciting offerings on the horizon and a growing product portfolio, the company has high hopes heading into 2014. BMW made its presence felt at the 2013 L.A. Auto Show and led by its BMW i division, a new chapter in the automaker’s history is set to begin. Now that the stage is set, however, all eyes will be on the brand to reach the bar it has raised.