Seriously, Are We There Yet?

Sometimes I feel like I’m on a very long road trip, only instead of my adult self, I’m a small child in the back seat and BMW is in the driver’s seat. Of course, we are traveling in a well-appointed, top-of-the-line 7 Series, maybe even a new X7, with quilted leather and wood trim everywhere. And I suspect that we have been on the same road for quite some time, because as I sit coddled in my seat, I am asking over and over, “Are we there yet?” Or, more appropriately, “Did you build that supercar yet?!”

Every year around this time, I take a few hours (maybe days) to obsess over the state of the automotive industry. Okay, I actually do this year round, but my sickness (yes, that’s the most accurate word) is particularly pronounced the month before the calendar year changes, what with all of the possibilities that the New Year brings. A big part of this exercise includes making a mental wish list of things that BMW could—and should—do to strengthen its reign as the best overall enthusiast auto company on the planet.

After perusing December columns from years past, it’s clear that a number of wishes have gone unfulfilled—but that 2019 does look promising! Let’s check in on these open requests and leave the sightseeing to the slower drivers, er, manufacturers.

A supercar. It may be time to stop asking for a genuine supercar that can rival the top-of-the-line Ferraris, McLarens, and Porsches of the world. I think that this has been on my wish list long enough that it’s officially moved to the Minor Miracles List. If BMW does change its mind, the i8 chassis sure does seem like a solid place to start. It’s already setup for mild hybridization and all-wheel-drive, too, which is quite en vogue. And an S63 engine would like mighty comfy in the engine bay. Just sayin’.

Once the M version emerges, this may be as close to a supercar from BMW that we see in the years to come.

The i5 iNext iX3. The follow-up to the i3 has spent a long time in development, even changing names a few times along the way. Yes, the iNext is supposedly coming in the next few years, but, more importantly, the iX3 is coming even sooner and should have a strong impact on the all-electric market when it debuts. This is the all-electric that should have built from the start. A preemptive “Well done!” to you BMW.

More power. We don’t really need more power, but it’s one of those things that you just cannot say “no” to, no matter how hard you try, which is why it makes the wish list. What really makes me happy is that BMW has let the leash off of the non-M engines. With the new motors in the M850xi, Z4 M40i, and X2 M35i, these successors are making substantially more power in this evolution. It’s especially nice to see the four-cylinder turbo showing more of its potential. More power and excellent fuel efficiency in a compact engine? Sign me up. Also, when can we get an M230i with 300 or more horsepower?

BMW has released the horses—over 300 of ’em—in the four-cylinder powering the new X2 M35i.

Consistent and shorter model names. Well, the consistency factor is certainly getting better. As for shortening those names? Sigh. Even the BMW USA website does its best to avoid using the full model names until the information is absolutely necessary. Overall, we’re getting there… at least within the pages of Roundel.

Three-cylinder engines. This applies primarily to the States. If BMW is willing to sell us a 220i that weighs close to 3,200 pounds and sports around 225 horsepower, I will start saving up right now. No need for a sunroof or fancy electric seats; just provide us pure driving in a (relatively) lightweight coupe. Though I may be talked out of this one, if that M230i shows up—go ahead, BMW, tempt me!

More lightweight (or is that just “less weight”?). Credit is due here, as BMW seems committed to reducing the pounds on its latest models, at least compared to the previous generation with similar spec and options. Now, if we could just get a breakthrough in carbon fiber production techniques and that nets us a super-lightweight sports car, that would make one heck of a holiday gift.

Speaking of gifts, if buying a car is not going to pan out (you know, because that’s a whole lot of coin to spend on, well, anyone!), then how about another more affordable lightweight option: a reinforced carbon fiber wallet. My mother-in-law gifted me one well over a decade ago, and I only just now retired it. This wasn’t necessarily because of condition either, but because she bought me a replacement carbon fiber wallet three years ago—and the poor thing has waited long enough for its time to shine. This definitely ranks as one of the best highly useable gifts ever. Recommended.

The decade old one is on top; the new one is below. Carbon fiber wallets will last the test of time!

A great roadster. Have you seen the pictures of the new G29 Z4? If it drives half as well as it looks, I think that BMW can call this one a clear and impressive win. I am really hoping that the higher-output inline-four makes it into the engine bay at some point to give us a lighter-weight option with the appropriate punch, as well. And with enough interest and pressure on BMW, we might get a full-blown M version, even if it is a long shot. Perhaps I will get to write about it in next year’s wish list.

So, are we there yet? While I don’t think that we will ever make it to our metaphorical destination, this is one of the biggest year-over-year improvements. Whatever may come in the New Year, have a happy, safe, and fun holiday season!—Chris Doersen

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