The 2017 Model year is upon us and it brings mostly small changes to BMW's lineup. The 2, 3, 4, i3 and M cars get some interesting updates - new motors, bigger batteries (i) and more standard features.
iDrive 5.0 has landed. BMW's iDrive has always been the best in the business. When it first came out, on the e65 7 series, as with many modern software, it was ridden with bugs and slow, but the faithful learned and adapted. CCC was technically the second generation but it shared the look and feel of the first, just with a different underlying OS. The real second version, CIC on the F01/F02 7 series, got pretty good. By the third iteration, NBT introduced in 2014, iDrive works pretty well.
This is the NBT or 3rd generation system in my BMW M3. It recognizes even Japanese restaurant names by sending voice over 3g mobile to Google's point of interest search (POI). This means that it finds anything that has been indexed by Google, even new restaurants or places.
iDrive 5.0 (which I really consider to be the 4th generation) debuts now, with the G11/G12 7 series, and trickles down into the rest of the BMWs for the 2017 Model year. Most of the other cars are not getting the touch screen interface, but they will support gesture control, and voice control. This means that screaming and waving at your car will get a response. Voice control has been a part of iDrive (And many other in car navigation systems) but very few have done any real context or sentence parsing. iDrive 5.0 also brings more 3rd party apps, including Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio and a few others. It will learn the routes you drive, reinforcing the quirky way you drive, and remember those for routing. This will be good and bad for some people, but hopefully will avoid some navigation snafus. Over the Air Map Updates for 4 years is a welcome additional feature, as are the more colorful and higher resolution display.
Curiously, Carplay is not available in iDrive 5.0, yet. I was surprised by this as it seems like it would be natural to include it, especially with the gesture control. I wouldn't be surprised if part of the delay is that the iPhone 7 will support wireless charging.
EDIT: turns out that there IS an option for Carplay compatibility. The order guides released today do indicate that there is 6CP - Carplay compatibility. The order guides also state that it won't be available until 9/16... curiously, around the time that the iPhone 7 is supposed to launch. Should be interesting to see how this plays out.
BMW decided that coupes and sedans needed different designations, so the 1 series coupe in the US became the 2 series. Even numbers are coupes and odd numbers are sedans. Except for the Gran Coupes, which are 4 door coupes... which are sedans in my book. Anyway, the 2 series is basically a 3 series with 8 inches of length chopped out of it. (182.4" vs 174.5" long) They look a little stubby and don't save much weight compared to the equivalent 3 or 4 series, but their shorter wheelbase gives them better turn in and a more tossable feel. The 2 series maintains a perfectly usable back seat and trunk, which, aside from styling, sort of makes you wonder why BMW grew the 3 series to be the size of the e28 5 series of the early 90s. (181.9" for the old 5 series!) This year, the big news is new motors across the board and a lifecycle impulse (LCI) change of bumpers, wheels and trim.
The M240i, which is the entry level M, not really a true M car gets 15hp and 39 ft lbs, bringing it to 335 horsepower and 369 ft lbs of torque. The new 3.0l single turbo B58 motor is burlier, and sounds better than the N55 it replaces. It has a better flowing cylinder head, a bigger and more efficient intercooler, and a dedicated electric water pump for the turbo. Curiously, the B58 moves back to a mechanical water pump. The N55 could circulate coolant when the motor was powered off to continue to cool the turbocharger - this helped prevent oil "coking" or baking in the hot center section of the turbo. The B58 has the electric water pump to circulate coolant in the turbo, but the engine goes back to a mechanical water pump. I'm surprised at this, as the electric water pump has many advantages, mainly solving the problem of a mechanical water pump moving too little coolant at idle and too much at high RPMs. That said, it does look like a multi chamber affair, which means additional complexity, but the ability to vary coolant circulation on demand (in order to heat the engine to operating temperature more quickly, but to be able to provide enough cooling during hot weather when the car is not moving much.)
The B58 also moves the timing chain and VANOS actuator to the rear of the motor. This is a little disturbing as the VANOS has been a common failure at higher mileage on the older cars and will likely necessitate an engine removal to service now.
The 230i (come on BMW, copying Mercedes in the engine nomenclature?!) gets a new motor too, the B48 4 cylinder turbo, which is a similar architecture and layout to the 6 cylinder B58. It has some additional horsepower, up to 248hp and 258 ft lbs of torque. It's a great motor on paper, with more efficiency at light throttle but more horsepower than an E36 M3 (and a correspondingly faster 0-60 time, despite being heavier!) However, in real world use, it's not a particularly inspiring motor, with the fun being over far before redline and a very diesel sounding exhaust note. It works fine and for most drivers, it's more than enough, with good isolation and very little vibration. I expect people to purchase the 230i and never know that it doesn't have a 6 cylinder engine.
The m240i gets to 60 in 4.4 seconds with the standard 8 speed automatic, 0.2 seconds faster with AWD and 0.2 seconds slower with the 6 speed manual. This is also 0.2 seconds faster than the old N55 powered m235i, with each variant respectively.
Inside, the 2 series gets the new iDrive (gesture but no touch screen), if you order the Navigation package (replaces the tech package from 2016, with the same content). Wireless charging and a WiFi hotspot in the car are included with enhanced bluetooth, making it a much more worthwhile option. Auto/Surround Park Distance Control replaces the front and rear Park Distance Control from the 2016 cars, but BMW didn't really reveal what the difference is. This could be an integration of the Parking Assistant with the Park Distance Control option, allowing your car to curb it's own wheels. Parking Assistant is really cool, and allows the car to detect parking spots large enough for it and maneuver itself into the spot, with you just actuating the gas and brakes. Many people report that it is not quite sensitive enough and errs on the side of grinding your wheels on the curb.
Pricing for the 2017 M240i and 230i have not been set, yet.
Not many changes here. The 3 series got it's LCI in 2016, with LED taillights, new bumpers, etc, so the only changes for MY2017 are M Sport being standard on the 340i (woot!) drastically improving the look. The downside is an overall price increase to $48595, up from $46795 (both including destination charge.) However, this represents an $800 decrease ($49395) if you ordered the M Sport package, which everyone should, because it improves the look of the car so much. I will call this change a win.
The 3 series also get iDrive 5.0, optional WiFi hotspot/wireless charging, and the Auto/Surround PDC. Beige Sensatec (fake leather) is available as well. The 330e iPerformance (seriously BMW? ) gets blue kidney grills and blue circles around the BMW badge on the wheels.
The changes on the 4 series is slightly more - in addition to the option changes on the 3 series, it gets the same 3.0l single turbo B58 motor, instead of the 2016 N55, which gives it a slight power boost (to 320hp, instead of 300,) and a small boost in torque as well. However, BMW does not force you into the M Sport on the 440i, like the 340i - it is still optional. The 440i also has some BMW individual paint and leather options, allowing you to create your own ugly BMW to your heart's content. A big change is the availability of a full leather dashboard in the 4 series, previously only available on the M4. Expect to spend a decent chunk of change on the semi-individual options. (Individual used to mean that you could chose whatever colors you want, even sending in samples of another manufacturers paints, but now, it means you get to pay more for some colors that BMW picked out. Kind of individual?)
Pricing: (including $995 destination charge)
Add $2000 for xDrive (AWD)
The i3 gets a welcome addition of a 94Ah battery. This represents another option in the lineup, so it will be sold alongside the previous 60Ah battery. It's sort of annoying that each electric car manufacturer talks about their battery capacities in different ways - hopefully that will evolve towards a standard. The new battery is 33 kWh, of which 27.2 kWh can be used. The "more than 50% increase" of battery capacity comes from the old battery's 22 kWh of which only 19 kWh could be used. The range extender(REX) model gets a larger gas tank, for 2.4 gallons... which is suspiciously similar to the rest of the world capacity of the original REX model, and can be enabled with a simple coding change. So, likely not really a hardware change, just a software change.
In real world terms, this means the range of the i3 goes from 81 miles of combined driving to 114 miles. Seems like this is not nearly a 50% increase in range, but it is a substantial increase. My i3 used to give me range anxiety making an 80 mile trip and the new capacity model will give it enough padding to make that much more comfortable. While 33 miles doesn't sound like much, it's over 40% more range. The Range Extender adds 270 lbs and kicks in at a 6.5% remaining state of charge (SoC). Once again, BMW feels like the American population is too stupid to have an adjustable SoC so it only kicks in when the battery is almost depleted. The current models, in the rest of the world, can be adjusted to maintain the SoC much higher. (similar to the Chevy Volt and plugin Prius)
Other option changes include the new blue pictured above, "Protonic Blue" previously only available on the i8. Moonroof is now an option across the board, and the 94 Ah version gets a standard "Deka World" fabric trim, that is dark colored, instead of the lighter colored interior that the rest of the i3 gets. Similar Giga and Tera World trim packages are available as well, similar to the older cars. i3 94 Ah gets Homelink garage door openers, comfort access, and no cost DC Fast Charging from ChargeNow for 2 years.
These represent a $1200 increase over the 2016 i3 60 Ah models. I suspect the prices of the 60 Ah i3 will fall, but pricing for those has not been announced yet.
Pricing: (including $995 destination charge, but prior to Federal rebates of $7500 and state rebates)
2016 brought the Competition Package to the M3 and M4, (M4 competition package pictured to the left) and introduced the M2, a 2 series based M car with a hotter N55 engine, rather than the S55 in the M3 and M4. 2017 doesn't bring many changes to the lineup.
The biggest addition to 2017 is the optional M Driver's package, which includes changing the top speed limiter to be 270 km/h (rather than 250 km/h in the standard car) and a day of driver's training at the USA M performance center. This has been offered in the rest of the world previously, but is new in the US for 2017. The executive package now includes a WiFi hotspot and wireless charging.
The M3/M4 get the adaptive M suspension as standard equipment. This was a curious omission as the base suspension could have used a softer setting. The $5000 competition package no longer includes this. Base prices are up $500 across the board to compensate, although the old option was $1000, so this represents a price decrease if you were going to order that option. iDrive 5.0 is standard in the M3/M4. The press release makes no mention of the M2 getting iDrive 5.0, which is strange - I'd be surprised if the 2017 M2 doesn't get it.
M5 pricing has not changed, nor is iDrive 5.0 mentioned. Likely 2018 brings a replacement model for the 7 model year old F10.
M model pricing: (including $995 destination charge)
Silicon Valley Dad, who loves cars, cooking, clothes and cameras