BMW, Please Don’t Change the Z4 Concept

We’ve all seen it before. A Manufacturer brings out a stunning concept car at an auto show, becomes the adoration of the press and public and then either 1)  kills it or 2) kills it. Now there are two ways a company can kill a concept car. They can decide to simply not build it. Infiniti is well known for releasing lavish concepts as part of a ‘design study’ that say, “Oh yes, this is what we could build, but we won’t.” Then why bother?

The second way of killing a concept is  to completely and utterly destroy the original design language of the concept. In short, ruin and make ugly. Or worst, boring. So when I first saw the Concept Z4 (Will it actually be called Z4? Or maybe Z5? or the Zupra?) in person at the Pebble Beach Concours D’elegance in August, I was wonderfully excited to see a BMW that really didn’t look like a BMW. Gone is the they-all-look-alike stigma of recent BMWs. Here is something fresh. If it didn’t have a kidney grille on it, I wouldn’t know it was a BMW.

I will admit, the proportions are pretty eerily close to a Corvette, but that’s no such bad thing. This is a good looking car. Extravagant yet also restrained, meaning there’s no excess amount of vents and spoilers, yet it just looks expensive. Though, looking at the pictures again, it almost has an element of ‘flame surfacing’ to it along the doors…in no bad way though.

I love the new lower front fascia, a new interpretation on the now classic BMW M  tri-intake arrangement. I love how that one line flows uninterrupted from the front fender vent all the way to the tail lights, and then becomes part of the tail lights. As Jonny Lieberman told me, and I must agree with him, it is a bit “Bitey” with its pronounced, oversized kidney grilles. They do give it some presence indubitably.

And my favorite part: The interior. How has a production car not had an asymmetrical interior? That is, half the interior is an orangey tan, the other is black and using different materials. Seeing it with the naked eye, it is freaking cool, all professionalism aside. Please! Please, please, please make it to production with an optional  interior of this nature. I’m just imagining it now, optional blue for driver and white for passenger. Or Black and red. The possibilities are endless! As Shia LaBeouf would say to BMW: “Just do it!”

I have my worries though. I feel BMW might take away those deliciously thin rear lights, the interior, and put a corporate front fascia on it. Recently, there was a leak on the internet of a production 8 Series. There were two small photos, but if they are accurate, then BMW has indeed tamed the also daring 8 Series Concept into something all too pedestrian and without any original flair. I hope it was fake, because if it’s real, i know the same treatment will befall this new Z4. Please, BMW liven it up a bit, make something crazy. Make something a little less German.

How Does the 2017 BMW 5 Series Stack up Against the 2017 Mercedes E-Class?

Mercedes leaves no market niche unfilled. In the last decade, the three-pointed star brand has taken a portfolio that was robust and injected it with steroids to achieve some vehicles that can only be described as neurotic. BMW, the market-leader not long ago, has pledged 40 new or updated models by 2020 to compete with their Teutonic neighbors.

Consumers who love crossover coupes and electric runabouts can rejoice at all this puffery, but these brands are still best measured by their staple sedans. There is no competition where BMW and Mercedes are more evenly matched than E-Class vs. 5 Series, and for 2018, both are fresh and ready to do battle.

More Alike Than Different

Back in the 1990s and early ‘naughts, this comparison would have been entirely predictable. BMW, the sports sedan company, delivers a businesslike interior and better on-road dynamics. Mercedes sacrifices nimble handling and delivers a more luxurious experience for the well-heeled socialite.

Now, however, things are different. Technology has allowed each company to toe the line further and further into the other’s “niche,” until what was a blurred line no longer exists at all. You can take your Mercedes to the track, and you can use your 5 Series as a limousine — and in both cases, life will go on quite pleasantly.

Parsing Hairs

Still, while these cars might both strive to be the one-car-that-does-it-all, they are two distinct products and must be judged as such. To be fair, it must be said that within each model designation there are a cavalcade of trim levels that include hybrids, all-wheel-drive models, track stars and even a wagon for Mercedes fans.

Using the middle-of-the-road E400 in comparison against the brand-new for 2018 540i is the closest we can get to a head-to-head. Turbo sixes power both cars. Mercedes is more potent on paper, but we hear the bimmer is underrated. However, with both cars scraping 400 horsepower, it is a little concerning to hear that the Merc can have issues with braking.

Styling and Interior

The BMW benefits from coming fresh out of the design shop, and so it brings sharper lines than the E-class — which was initially penned for the 2014 model year and has since been refreshed. However, the Mercedes has aged well, and the E-class coupé is handsome on a level only a 2-door, which BMW doesn’t offer, can achieve.

Inside, the newer BMW offers a world-class infotainment system that is, of course, the latest iDrive interface. Both cars offer superb interior appointments, with the nod going to the Mercedes for overall interior stylishness — it’s just warmer and more inviting than the austere BMW.

The Final Word

Anyone who can put either of these cars in their garage should count themselves lucky. After all, no one said full-size German sedans were cheap. The BMW is new and exciting for 2018, but the halo will fade, and if you go this route, know that it offers slightly higher operating costs than the E-Class.

Even though it’s been on the market for some time, the E-Class remains relevant. It is perhaps the slightly more comfortable car, thanks to its comfy interior, but it does feel heavy on the road next to the new 5 Series. Will you be much happier in either one than driving a company car, though? Unquestionably.

Driving Your BMW in the Winter

Bavaria in January can see below-freezing temperatures, and in other parts of Germany, it’s even colder. Right now, a large chunk of the United States is seeing sub zero temps, with highs barely getting above zero. If you’re concerned about driving your Bimmer in the cold, you can feel confident it’s built to perform in any condition.

However, just because you have a high-performing car, you shouldn’t drive as if nothing has changed. To ensure your BMW has a long and rewarding life, you should take steps to be safe during the winter months and protect your car from the harsh effects of salted roads. These tips are easy to follow, but they make a world of difference.

Protecting Your Finish

If you’re like many BMW owners and want to keep the paint on your car looking as shiny and new as possible, winter weather is no fun. Snow and rain can strip wax from your car’s finish, but that’s only the beginning of your problems. Particularly for older models, you’ll want to ensure oxidization and rust do not set in.

The first step you should take to protect your car from the elements is to keep it inside. A clean, organized garage is the best place to do this. Make sure the garage seals well, has proper insulation and that the door is in good working order. A running car you can’t back out doesn’t do you much good.

Storing your BMW indoors will go a long way toward improving your winter driving experience. Allowing the battery and engine fluids to stay warm will reduce the effort needed to start the car, prolonging battery and accessory life.

The warmer indoor environment will also keep ice from clinging to underbody components. This step is critical in preventing rust, as expanding water can cause small cracks in metal components where rust can begin to eat away at your prized vehicle.

Driving in Snow and Ice

Some BMWs come equipped with the xDrive all-wheel-drive system, but if you own a rear-wheel-drive model, you can still enjoy it when there’s snow on the roads if you take the right precautions. To maximize traction, you should install a set of snow tires. Consider having a second set of wheels, so you can keep the snow tires mounted and install them when the weather turns bad.

No tire can stop you from making bad decisions on the road, so use caution. If you’re not sure how much traction you have, drive slowly and remain in control. Avoid making sudden or jerky movements.

Lastly, be prepared for anything. You could end up stuck in the snow and the cold, so it’s a good idea to keep an emergency kit in your car. BMWs often come with toolsets — however, you should also put together a kit containing, at minimum, a few snacks, water, a flashlight, a space blanket and flares. You should also carry a set of jumper cables.

It might sound like a lot, but these small things will allow you to drive your BMW all through the winter. That’s an easy choice compared to winding up stuck in a snowbank.

The Ultimate BMW Forum