BMW Gives the Mini Clubman a Well-Deserved Upgrade

BMW is a big fan of giving it’s vehicles a mid-cycle refresh, making small changes and upgrades to improve comfort, performance and the car’s aesthetic.

The second generation BMW Mini Clubman came out in 2015, which means that it’s long overdue for a refresh — and BMW finally delivered. Let’s take a closer look at this fantastic new Clubman and see what’s changed and what has stayed the same.

The Original 2nd Gen Clubman

The second generation Clubman hit highways in 2015 — while it’s not as sleek as the Cooper S that starred in The Italian Job in 2003, it’s nothing to shake your head at. Larger than the cooper, this 5-seater has three engine options — 1.5L 3-cylinder, and two 2.0L turbocharged 4 cylinders — all of which can be paired with either a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic trans.

With three tire-size options, depending on the Clubman model you choose, there was easily something for everyone, whether you are using this compact little sedan to haul cargo or kids. It comes with all-wheel drive too, making it an ideal daily driver, regardless of the weather conditions.

What did BMW change with this latest mid-cycle refresh?

What’s Changed?

If three engine choices isn’t enough for you, BMW has delivered. The refreshed Clubman will have six options to choose from — three gasoline and three diesel. You still have the option to choose a six-speed manual transmission, but the eight-speed automatic swapped out for a seven-speed DCT gearbox. That’s it for the drive train changes through. Most of the changes are on the exterior of the vehicle, not under the hood.

The front end has received a rework, polishing some of the rough edges of the Gen 2 Clubman and redesigning the radiator grill. All of the traditional lamps — head, tail and fog lights — have been replaced with LEDs as standard equipment, and you can even opt to have a Union Jack design added to your tail lights.

The upgraded suspension lowers the Clubman’s by 10 millimeters and BMW traded in the aluminium wheels for light alloy alternatives. This refresh also adds new interior and exterior colors, including Piano Black for the exterior and leather trim and interior upgrades.

The stock infotainment system includes a six-speaker audio system, USB port and hands-free telephone addons when you hook up your phone via USB. The car is also equipped with a SIM card, so you’re constantly connected in the event of an accident. The onboard computer can even automatically detect your location and how severe an accident is

An Upgrade Well Deserved

It’s been four years since the second generation Clubman started rolling off the assembly lines, which means that it was long overdue for an upgrade. Most of the changes are limited to the car’s exterior and interior, but that doesn’t make this refresh any less exciting.

These new Clubman models are on sale in the UK now, so if you’ve been dreaming of adding a new car to your collection, now is the perfect time to sign on that dotted line and bring home a newly refreshed BMW Clubman.

New CBU Z4 Roadster Launched in India

Heads up, BMW enthusiasts — a new Bimmer roadster has entered the fray. BMW has introduced a new Z4 roadster as a CBU option for fans of the brand. What does this new roadster have to offer, and will it be available for international drivers?

A CBU Roadsters

Pictured: Dr. Hans-Christian Baertels, President BMW Group India

All cars in India have one of two designations — CBU or CKD. CBU stands for Completely Built Units. In this case, it means that the vehicles are shipped to India fully assembled, and the government charges an additional 120 percent on top of the price of the car.

CKD, on the other hand, stands for Completely Knocked Down. These vehicles arrive in the country in pieces and need to be assembled on site. It costs importers an additional 60 percent to bring these components in, but having in-country assembly plants helps to promote the “Make in India” movement, encouraging more manufacturers to set up a local shop instead of just shipping their wears in from other countries.

The new Z4 Roadster is delivered as a CBU, meaning that it will cost quite a bit more for Indian BMW fans even though BMW does have a local plant in Chennai, India which celebrated it’s 12th anniversary this year.

Specs and Color Options

Don’t expect to get a hard-top with this new roadster. The new CBU Z4 only comes with a convertible top and embodies the Bimmer roadster in it’s most real form.

It sports the iconic roadster silhouette, with a long hood, a kidney grill, and vertically aligned headlights. It has extra air intakes in the front end and a smooth rear lateral design that perfectly compliments the wing attached to the rear-end.

The interior is entirely focused on simplicity and functionality. The cockpit is oriented around the driver, and he or she can adjust everything to their preferences and save those settings in the car’s onboard computer. You’ll never have to worry about readjusting the seat or the mirrors manually more than once with this fantastic little car.

You’ve got plenty of options if a cherry red roadster doesn’t appeal to you. In addition to red, the vehicle is available in Alpine White, Mediterranean Blue, Black Sapphire, Mineral White, and Glacial Silver. The M40i version also comes in Frozen Grey II or Missano Blue.

The interior comes in standard black, but you can opt for white, or black with magma red or congac decor stitching.

The Future of BMW India

We’ve got no news yet on whether this new CBU roadster will be available for anyone interested outside of India, but chances are you can probably find someone willing to sell — if you’re willing to pay for international freight shipping to bring it home.

This roadster may become a CDK option in the future, but for the moment anyone interested in adding one of these Z4’s to their collection will be paying extra for the privilege. As of April 9th, these new roadsters are available at BMW dealers across India with the base model costing Rs 64.90 lakh (6.49 million Indian Rupees or roughly USD 93,839) and the M40i coming in at Rs 78.90 lakh (7.89 million Indian Rupees or USD 114,082).

We’ll keep a close eye on these new Z4’s and let you know if they become available internationally.

BMW Just Unveiled Its Massive X7 SUV

Seven seats has long been the promised land for the SUV-makers of the world. It’s no secret that people love these supersized people-haulers and despite what looked like a turn towards smaller footprints during the recession, the land barge is enjoying a return to its former glory ten years later.

BMW never shied away from the SUV game, but they are one of the last automakers to stake their claim to the Expedition-sized SUV segment. And so, in true Teutonic fashion, the X7 SUV might be showing up late to the party but it’s bringing the goods. This is a full-fat SUV and remarkably, also very much a BMW.

Cadillac, er, BMW Grills

Ludacris might have been proud to sing about his Caddy back in the day but one look at the X7 makes you think he’s probably changing brands. The X7’s mouthpiece is broad and confident, and it works quite well with the muscular styling of the X7 as a whole.

Understandably it looks like an uber-sized X5, and the new X5 is as handsome an SUV as you’ll find out these days. It’s still big, but not brutish. And the refinement continues inside.

Seven-Worthy Interior

Remember that as BMWs go, the 7 has long been the top-of-the-totem-poll luxury cruiser. Yes, there’s a new 8-series 2-door but that’s a halo car. The X7 spares no expense ensuring that families who drop the $75k price of entry are treated to the cushy experience they expect when they climb inside.

Second-row passengers can enjoy optional reclining bucket seats and even row three offers enough legroom for all but the tallest adults. Everything is trimmed in supple hides that look absolutely first-class with the quilted stitching option BMW’s test vehicles flaunt.

Want to take in the view? There’s a panoramic moonroof and of course an available 1500W Bowers & Wilkins stereo to provide all the mood music you’d ever need.

Does the Job in Style

Don’t let the fancy trimmings fool you though, the X7 is a capable ultimate people-hauling machine. In base trim, it sports a powerful twin-turbocharged six-cylinder and the upgraded 5.0i version receives a boosted V8 producing 559 horsepower and 479 ft.-lbs. of boat-pulling torque.

BMW expects about 70 percent of buyers to take the six-pot mill, while about 30 percent will upgrade to the six-figure 5.0i model. Self-leveling air-ride suspension is standard and the upgraded dynamic handling package will make you outright surprised you’re driving a 17-foot long SUV.

Both variants of the X7 receive BMW’s Xdrive all-wheel-drive system and for those looking to break some new trail in style and comfort, there’s an optional locking rear differential.

A state-of-the-art heads-up display takes full advantage of the X7s expansive windshield projecting your GPS navigation while you drive, and by folding down both rows of seats, you can expand the 362-liters of rear compartment space to a cavernous 2120. While it might be a boastful thoroughbred, the X7 still has all the necessary accouterments to be a true workhorse.

Late to the Game, but Not out of It

The competition from Mercedes, Audi, Lexus, and Cadillac is well-established in this field.

Even volume automakers are well acquainted with the seven-seater segment at this point, but BMW has the advantage of bringing something fresh to the market. They offer some excitement to buyers who would otherwise feel compromised by the softer Mercedes or less powerful Audi, not to mention the willing but decidedly less refined Cadillac and Lincoln offerings.

Perhaps BMW have stolen a page from Apple’s book here. You don’t have to be the first to market with a good idea, you just have to execute it well.

What to Do When Your BMW’s Engine Overheats

Beloved by car enthusiasts but not necessarily mechanics, BMWs raise some real questions about the legend of German reliability.

Running hot is a problem cars from all marques face, and BMW is no different. If you thought that trim panel was expensive, you’ll split a wig when you see the price of new motor components for your beamer. So if your car is running hot, be quick about identifying the issue and implementing a fix. It could make a five-figure difference in your bank account. Here’s what to do.

Know How to Recognize Overheating

Modern BMW engines are water-cooled and do a pretty good job of staying at operating temperature — unless something goes wrong or you’re running the car very hard. Depending on how new your vehicle is, a gauge will indicate the head and oil temperatures of your engine in the central cluster, and you might have a digital readout that displays an error code if it gets too hot. In analog gauge clusters, the needle should never touch go past the halfway mark on the dial.

If you see this happening, don’t continue driving the car because you can do severe damage to the engine. Pull over and call a tow truck. You can repair the issue once a mechanic has had a chance to take a look at things, which may cost a few hundred dollars, but it will save you the price of replacing an engine.

Fixing an Overheating Engine

Now that you know that your engine is overheating, you need to repair it. If the car overheats during regular use, your set of suspects will include your electric fan, water pump and thermostat. You should be able to observe your fan switching on and off. If you can’t, look at the thermostat and if that doesn’t do it, check your fan and fusebox.

If the car overheats at idle, you’re probably dealing with a busted water pump. Make sure you have clean, high-performance oil in the car, as allowing it to degrade or running a cheap motor oil can increase your chances of heat soak.

All these are relatively cheap to replace, and some BMW models are known for having less-than-stellar fan or water pump performance. Your mechanic will know just what to do. If the car has been overheating for some time, you’ll want to check the expansion tank to see if it has become weak.

For drivers who frequently track their cars or engage in spirited driving that causes heat soak, something more serious is needed. Consider upgrading your car’s plastic cooling system to a metal one with a larger fan and radiator. Change your factory oil for something with a higher boiling point, like a full synthetic. This will ensure fewer metal shavings enter your motor and provide better performance in the long run, as well as defend against heat soak during track days. The truly extreme can look for ventilated bodywork, a higher-volume intercooler and turbo plumbing.

Beamers have their fair share of unique issues, but overheating isn’t one of them. These problems have been faced time and time again by the automotive community, and as long as you get to them quickly, they’ll be cheap and easy to fix. Don’t wait until your head gasket breaks. Pay for the fix now, and you’ll be glad your car isn’t down for the count tomorrow.

Can You Tow With a BMW?

BMW, the ultimate towing machine! Not familiar? Perhaps not. Bavaria’s famed automaker is better known for Hoffmeister kinks and persnickety gearboxes than for stump-pulling proficiency. So you might be surprised to learn that not only do BMW SUVs tow, they do it quite well.

Vehicle dynamics have long been the forte of the blue-and-white brand, and while you’re predisposed to think of dynamics as the way your M3 rotates when you chuck it into a 90-degree right, it’s the very same set of principles that informs the way your X5 behaves when pulling the family motorcraft. Naturally, BMW has taken all they know about building surefooted, smooth-riding cars and translated it into confident, capable towing machines.

Serious Tug

Boating magazine recently published a review of the BMW X5 as a tow/haul vehicle. It received numerous compliments, not only for its capable towing, but also for offering boat owners a driving experience that is noticeably more comfortable than that of a domestic-market pickup. While diesel Fords, Chevys and Dodges have added semi-truck levels of torque to their outputs, the BMW’s powerful V8 and robust suspension package make it a worthy competitor for all but the largest oceangoing boats with its 6,000-pound tow rating and 4,000-pound payload capacity.

Smaller oceangoing craft and riverboats should be no problem for the burly X5, which you can also have in diesel flavor with a wonderful compression-ignition powerplant that delivers a hearty 413 foot-pounds of torque, sure to make your trailer feel feathery on the highway. All X5s enjoy 15.2-inch front and 13.6-inch rear ventilated disc brakes in a testament to what a serious towing machine this is. Lots of vehicles offer the power output needed to pull a trailer, but making it safe and controlled to slow all that moving mass is what separates the ultimate driving machine from its lesser competition.

Don’t Forget About Little Sister

You’ll find the same exceptional road manners that make the X5 a capable tow vehicle in the more affordable, more compact X3 for city-going outdoor aficionados and anyone with an active lifestyle. Even in four-cylinder guise, the Twinpower four-cylinder on the base model X3 develops 258 foot-pounds of torque, enough to enable a payload capacity of nearly 1,000 pounds and the ability to tow 4,400 pounds. That’s plenty to haul your small trailer or camper or a pair of watercraft or snowmobiles. It’s the perfect solution for nearly all those who want the ability to tow, but won’t rely on their BMW strictly for towing, and can appreciate the versatility of a crossover.

Plus, You Still Get a BMW!

Seldom do you hear anyone heaping praise onto the full-sized pickup segment for being nimble, responsive backroads dancers with supportive seats and well-placed controls. That’s more a BMW thing. While these cars are capable tow vehicles, they’re also very much BMWs. You’ll enjoy every day of ownership with your tow-package-equipped Bimmer, not just the ones where you visit the lake or pull a trailer.

Consider how often you need to tow. Wouldn’t it be nice to find a vehicle that can comfortably perform the role of tow vehicle while at the same time swaddling you in luxury and offering class-leading performance that makes it a joy to drive? That is precisely what we have in the X line of SUVs. BMW has found success with the suburban market already, but these cars have gone underappreciated as thoroughbreds for some time. The secret’s out now, so don’t be surprised if one of your Ford- or Dodge-driving pals asks you next time they see you, “Can I take your X5 for a spin?”