By Dan Tackett
On a warm June evening, a large group of San Diego Chapter members went to BMW of Escondido following the invitation to sample several new BMW models for 2019. Our favorite car company has been on a product blitz lately, refreshing some familiar models and entering some new segments.
Our friends at BMW of Escondido were gracious hosts, with experienced technicians and BMW Geniuses on hand to answer our questions about the advanced new engines and latest technology features. Co-owner Tim Brecht greeted all of us and provided a tasty spread of food from Mike’s Barbecue. Several new models were arrayed for us to drive, with no chaperone and no specified route. We were careful not to abuse that level of trust.
These new BMWs made a great impression on our members:
M2 Competition – Nobody was surprised to discover how quick and nimble the M2C is; definitely a crowd favorite. This is a throwback to the size and weight and handling that brought many of us to BMW in the first place. BMW clearly hasn’t forgotten its roots.
M340i – The 3 Series was the first sport sedan, and the latest G20 version takes everything up a notch. Now an M Performance model, the B58 six cylinder has been tuned to a whopping 382 hp, more than M3s had until two generations ago. It’s very quick, but the 3 Series has grown up to be a spacious and comfortable car. Seeing how it can memorize and duplicate steering movements to retrace a maneuver the driver just made was quite impressive.
Z4 30i – The all-new Z4 has returned to driving like a true sports car. Ditching the folding metal top for a traditional lined cloth top has reduced weight and lowered the center of gravity. With the 4 cylinder engine, it feels light and nimble and is still plenty quick. Many members were quite surprised and declared it the most entertaining car of the bunch. The stacked headlights are an interesting update on the traditional BMW style.
X5 40i – The larger new X5 was very luxurious, this one having a rich brown leather interior. We were astonished by how quickly it accelerated with the 6 cylinder engine and how nicely it handled. There really IS a BMW under that large SAV!
X7 50i – BMW has entered a larger category of utility vehicles formerly dominated by Cadillac and Mercedes Benz. BMW says it waited to enter this market until it could produce a large car that felt like a proper BMW. We think they succeeded. It was very quiet, very opulent, and had lots of space. More than just being a larger X5, BMW brings the luxury of a 7 Series to this category. The interior had lots of room and lots of tech and very nice materials. It drove quite well, with a V8 that knew just when to break through the silence.
M850i Convertible – This was the biggest surprise of the night. BMW replaced the 6 Series with the new 8 Series, leapfrogging their big sedan to become the new flagship. It’s a stylish coupe or convertible with a lot of leading-edge technology to justify the price. It can cruise serenely, coddling 2 people (forget the rear seat; small children only) in comfort and grace. But press the Sport Plus button and a tiger is unleashed! Dr. Jekyll, it’s time to run and Hyde as the Adaptive Suspension tightens up and the exhaust gets a whole new voice with a sharp bark on every upshift. I expected a grand touring cruiser, which it capably becomes in Comfort Mode. What shocked me and others is how the M850i is transformed with the push of a button to make you feel like a teenager again. Bravo BMW!
We want to express our sincere thanks to Tim Brecht and the whole team at BMW of Escondido for letting us visit their beautifully updated dealership and get to know the latest BMW models. Many of us are asked for advice on new cars by our friends and colleagues, so now we can offer better information and make some buying plans of our own.