Billed as “The Ultimate Driving Machine”, BMWs are known for making their driver “feel connected to the road”. This is accomplished by using lots of math to determine the right amount of steering feel/response, chassis response, and brake performance. BMW engineers spend a lot of time with their calculators. But it’s totally worth it, when you produce a car that feels like it could do anything that you tell it.
Instead of using copious amounts of aluminum, and gravity, like they used to. Modern BMW’s use a combination of aluminum, and computers, to create their signature ‘feel’. To start, all BMWs get an aluminum suspension structure with aluminum axles designed to spread vibrations and torque twist throughout the suspension frame, keeping the drive wheels firmly planted. Adaptive Drive (part of the Sport pkg) adjusts the electronic throttle for sharper or softer response, the twin-tube dampers can be set to firm or soft, the steering can be sharpened or softened, the transmission shift points can be recalibrated, and the engine programming can be adjusted to produce more or less horsepower. All of these systems can be adjusted with a BMW preset, or individually adjusted through the iDrive interface.
Other BMW driving aids include ARS, Active Roll Stabilization, which can adjust the suspension geometry to reduce body roll in curves ($2,500), Dynamic Damper Control uses wheel sensors to determine and adjust-to the optimal setting for each shock absorber depending on road conditions & speed, Sport Automatic transmission (with paddles) uses the Adaptive Transmission Control program to quicken shifts in the 8-speed auto, Integral Active Steering ($1,750) is a 4-wheel steering system which allows the rear wheels up to 2.5 degrees of steering angle in either direction.
While the spec sheet for most BMWs reads like a can of Alphabet Soup that got spilled on a copy of Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Those fancy computer systems do an amazing job of turning these heavy luxo-brutes into asphalt ballerinas. Granted, nearly all 2012 BMWs use an electric steering system which connects the steering wheel to a Radio Shack sensor, instead of the actual wheels. But most current BMW models can still make even the worst driver, feel like a hero.
And speaking of bad drivers, BMW now offers an option called Parking Assistant, which uses Ultrasonic sensors, and onboard cameras to find available parking spaces, then steer the car into them (both in Drive & Reverse). But if your stockbroker can’t even manage to park the 2012 BMW 550i...that you helped him buy...how safe is your portfolio, really?
2012 BMW Models
- BMW 1-Series - Small, fun-to-drive, ungodly expensive. Perfect for newly promoted middle-managers.
- BMW 3-Series - Still the best small sport sedan that money can buy. Perfect for those who love to take the long way.
- BMW 5-Series - Like Elvis in his later years; Pudgy, but still good.
- BMW 6-Series - Executive Transport personified. Perfect for successful law partners with a beach house & 29 year old girlfriend.
- BMW 7-Series - A rocket-powered isolation chamber. Perfect for successful law partners with 3 spoiled grandchildren.
- BMW X3 - Much more tolerable than previous generations. Perfect for the son/daughter of said law partner.
- BMW X5 - Trophy wife/ex-wife soccer bus.
- BMW X6 - The answer to the question that nobody asked.
- BMW Z4 - Corner-carving machine. Taupe glue sold separately.
- BMW 1M - Small, powerful, brilliant. Perfect for those who miss the lightweight, simplicity of the original BMW M3.
- BMW M3 - Still the best. Perfect for those who eat, sleep, and dream driving.
- BMW M5 - Brilliant, and now, better looking. Perfect for successful Trial Lawyers.
- BMW M6 - A sledge hammer with a french-stitched leather handle. Perfect for the retired CEO with 3 ex-wives.
- BMW X5M - A rocket-powered off-roader...that can’t actually go off road. Perfect for those with a trust fund, and an uncle in the Senate.
- BMW X6M - A therapist would be cheaper.