Category Archives: Events

Cooper Tire RS3-G1 Part 1: BMW 528i in Florida

“So, Ryan, what was the humidity like?” was one of the first questions I asked a best friend who just came back from six months in Orlando at the Disney College Program. “You just sweat constantly,” was his answer. I for one have never been to Florida, let alone the East Coast. In other words, I haven’t a clue what humidity is. I’m spoiled by the dry nature of California, especially having spent my University years in breezy Santa Barbara. So when I got an e-mail to head to Palm Beach International Raceway in Palm Beach, Florida to test a BMW 528i and Cooper Tire’s new RS3-G1 tire on both road and track, I was ecstatic for such an event. Then sank in the realization of the climate and season. Let me tell you plainly, humidity sucks. Luckily, not so much the car and tire, and who cares when it involves track driving.

“The RS3-G1 is a marvel of Cooper’s greatest cutting-edge technologies,” said Scott Jamieson, the company’s Director of Product Management for North America.

Now, let’s talk about why I’m really here. Cooper Tire and Rubber Company has just released their all-new, do-everything tire, the RS3-G1. It’s an all-season, ultra high performance, non run-flat shoe that joins the expanding genre of the like, along with Kumho, Continental, Pirelli, and Michelin. However, the Cooper has something going for it, and it’s all in the name: G1. It’s called the G1 because it can hold 1g of lateral grip, something unheard of in a tire designed to not only work in perfect climates. And this is an all-season tire, too; When it rains or even in light snow, you won’t be wishing you had opted for xDrive. The deep sipes and grooves in the tread also work to give consistent performance throughout the life of the tire help water displacing.

[tweetthis]Cooper Tire’s new RS3-G1 pulls 1g of lateral grip![/tweetthis]

Cooper Tire Zeon RS3-G1

It’ll be interesting to see how the tires do on the 5-series, a car that comes standard, like nearly all new BMW’s, with run-flat tires. And not everyone loves run-flat tires. They’re expensive and can compromise ride quality and handling. However, they do offer the unique advantage of being able to still drive moderate distances even after a puncture. But the real question is, does the new Cooper make the 5 a better driving car? It does, but more on why later.

[tweetthis]Cooper Tire’s RS3-G1 improves BMW’s already great 5 series[/tweetthis]

So, the car then. It’s a BMW 528i. Yes, it’s the same 528i that has been in production for over 5 years now. And yes, the new 5er is due out in showrooms early next year, but it’s never too late to once get a feel of what has been a great sales success for BMW. If you’ve been thinking about adding a 5 to your stable, now is the time to buy as dealer’s will likely be discounting heavily to make way for the new species. Right off the bat though, has the new Cooper G1 transformed the car? No. Is it better? Yes, not by much, but having a non-RFT sticking to the road is an improvement.

What’s the 5 like? I’ll just make a list. Hence, thing’s I like about the F10 5-series: the steering is better than a 3-series, offering more weight and accuracy. The thinner, leather-wrapped wheel is better to hold in my hands as well versus the thick and squishy M-sport wheel. The seats are very comfortable and offer decent support even for my thin frame. The small 2 liter four pot makes plenty of power even for a car of this size and masks turbo lag surprisingly well, also achieving 34.5 MPG on a crowded freeway run. And the 8-speed ZF gearbox is seamless enough to make you think it’s not even there. iDrive is also probably the best infotainment system of its kind.

BMW 528i Test Car

What I don’t like about the current 5… the steering is still not good, being too numb and pondering for an Ultimate Driving Machine. Imagine browsing for a show on Netflix, it just doesn’t know quite what it wants. The standard sheet metal is far too mundane with little drama; the optional M-sport package helps a lot in the looks department. The interior is dated. And the engine sounds like a diesel from the outside. It’s almost like having unknowing bystanders ask if your dry-clutch Ducati is broken, but no, that’s just the sound. And unlike the Ducati clutch clatter, it’s not exactly cool and exotic.

But do I dislike the 5? Heavens no. It’s a lovely car to mosey around town and do freeways, but it’s just not quite a real BMW. It could be brilliant, but blame BMW’s product planners and engineers for making a car that is more mass appealing. In other words, they made it too much like a Mercedes. But driving through both sun and rain in Palm Beach, it was a very nice place to be. And serious kudos to iDrive 4.2, which is now being dropped in favor of the new 5.0 system. Embarking on a small road rally, meeting at various checkpoints such as parks and Ragtops, a motoring museum, the navigation and voice recognition is a breeze to use. Want to find something? Say “Points of Interest,” wait a few seconds and then say, “Oceanfront Beach Park, Boynton Beach” and takes you right there. The A/C also works wonders in the high humidity of Florida’s summers. The car in general is just a nice place to be. And especially when, at this moment, I do not want it to be a sharp track-tool or B-road carver. If you want that, BMW also sells several for that purpose too. But for cruising around, the 5 works.

Which now brings us to the tires. And they’re good. Compared directly to the OE run-flats found on all new 5’s, the ride quality is slightly improved. Where run-flats can give a sense of crashing over imperfections, the Cooper’s are less harsh over potholes and road reflectors. They’re also very quiet on the 528i, with there being so little road noise. And I do think the steering response is better on this example as well. It’s a comfortable car made more comfortable. However, if you hit a nail, you better stop.

Why should you consider the Cooper Tire’s RS3-G1? The ride and comfort seems to be pretty darn good and they’re backed up by a staggering 50,000 mile tread-wear warranty when fitted in a square setup. So, for those whose climate requires all-season rubber, and especially running square setups, you can’t go wrong. And they’re going to be priced significantly cheaper than the Michelin equivalent too. Even on staggered wheels, a 25,000-mile guarantee is included. In this regard it could be a highly desirable option for those with older BMW’s such as E36’s and E46’s. Furthermore, it comes with GlideMount technology that makes mounting tires much easier. For those stretching tires, this could be handy.

Bet now you’re wondering about the performance of the tire. What about that 1G of grip? Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to drive the cars hard on the street, but did get to hammer open-wheel cars the next day wearing the same rubber. Part 2 at Palm Beach International Raceway, coming soon.

Performance Cars

BMW at Monterey Car Week

Photos by Mitchell Weitzman and Daniel Blodgett.

There’s nothing quite like vintage, historic motor racing where one can see such storied, beautiful, and valuable machinery be used the way they were meant to. Having BMW as the featured marque at the Motorsports Reunion only added to the appeal.

Where else can you see so many amazing, rare BMW’s in one place? Fortunately for Bavarian aficionados, BMW was a featured marque at several major events at Monterey Car Week, celebrating the centenary of the storied brand. As a result, BMW’s by the hundreds flocked to the Monterey Peninsula to commemorate the week and their cars.  There’s always been a large attraction of BMW’s here every year, but never like this. DSC_2457

The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca shows that nostalgia is not a shameful condition. It’s only natural to yearn for days past and to live in another era, especially when it has to do with cars. There’s nothing quite like vintage, historic motor racing where one can see such storied, beautiful, and valuable machinery be used the way they were meant to.  Having BMW as the featured marque at the Motorsports Reunion only added to the appeal.

DSC_0466With 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’s’ tangling on track with M1 Procars and 2002s, it’s a marvelous sensation. If you’ve never had the chance to hear a Procar in person, wringing out the M88, it’s pure majesty. If I could, I’d have the sound played at my wedding. BMW brought numerous racing cars from their past on display in the paddock as well, including a F1 GTR, V12 LMR, M3 GTR, and a Williams F1 car featuring a BMW V10.DSC_2273

Also on track throughout the week with the BMW’s were Ferrari GTOs, Porsche 911s, Group C madness, Can-Am, Trans Am, and also now in its second year at Laguna Seca, classic Formula 1 cars. With the price of admission comes unparalleled access to the paddock, where all the racing cars are on display for the fans between races. The drivers, crew members, and owners are all incredibly nice too, offering conversation to admiring spectators.

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Of course, the other, unofficial show are the parking lots. Anywhere you go, there’s exotic machinery. At Laguna, it was the BMW car corral inside the track. Elsewhere, be it on the streets in Carmel, or at the Embassy Suites, BMW’s were out in full force.

DSC_2467At the headline event, the Pebble Beach Concours D’elegance, classics ranging from original Mille Miglia-spec 328s to the exquisite Alexander Calder 3.0 CSL ‘art car’ were on display celebrating the brand along the coastal cliffs of scenic Pebble Beach. Seeing an old 328 in person, it’s every bit as elegant as a period Delahaye or Bugatti.

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For anyone who hasn’t gone, put it on your car-bucket list. You won’t regret it. Here are some photographic highlights of BMW’s through the week.

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Boris Said, along with Jonathan Edwards and Bill Auberlen, greeting fans.

DSC_0315 DSC_0318Anyone know the name of this color? It works brilliantly.

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A rare BMW M3 Lightweight. Stock on these are rising fast.

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Alpina stripes should be brought back on current offerings.

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Who needs an M4 GTS? Absolutely menacing.

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George Miller should use BMWs in the next Mad Max perhaps

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Just. Look. At. It.

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Once owned by the King, Elvis Presley, this 507 just finished a complete restoration by BMW in Munich.

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M3ntal. The attention to detail is astounding.

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Cross Country Wrap Up

What’s it like to drive cross country? It is a challenge and an adventure for sure. Thousands of miles on the road travelling from place to place. AquilaBMW just finished is country country journey in his E39 M5 and has lots of pictures and stories to tell. Stop in and read about how much fun he had driving and stopping in to see members. Many more pictures and stories will come as he has a chance to collect his thoughts and download all of those pictures. Make sure you check in from time to time to follow up on the aftermath of his adventures.

AquilaBMW’s Cross Country Tour