BF Special: Behind the Scenes at BMW\’s ETC

Last week I spent several days talking BMW technology at the public unveiling of the BMW Environmental Test Center. While we have specific stories on both topics we also wanted to touch on some of those fleeting moments when we caught a glimpse of something or heard something interesting.

In fact one of the most interesting parts of the week was being inside BMWs new testing center where pretty much every upcoming product we see in spyshots was casually sitting in the car park (Of course we were asked to not take photos). So with that said here ‘s a list of the highlights:

  • Had a chance to stand next to a camflauged F20 1 series. First impressions are that it ‘s quite a bit wider and slightly longer.
  • The interior of the F20 1er is particularly impressive. I couldn ‘t see the whole thing but I caught a clear glimpse of the center stack and computer control system (nav unit). It ‘s much like the new 5 Series in design but the screen is not as inset.
  • Saw a 2011 refreshed R55 MINI with red roof and mirrors. Had the JCW wheels and brakes but nothing else out of the ordinary. The interior was covered but I did get a good look at the tail lamps and can confirm that they are LED.
  • Saw several X3s almost entirely uncamoflauged. It ‘s more angular than the X1 and retains some of the previous X3 ‘s signature front end design. The shape is also similar but with much of the X5 ‘s design language integrated.
  • The X1 is actually less attractive in person while the new X3 looks to be the best looking traditional crossover (not counting the X6) BMW has ever made.
  • BMW cappuccinos are consistently good throughout the world. Thank God as jet lag is also fairly consistent.
  • The engineers who run the EDC and carry out all the various tests on new cars are incredibly passionate about things like making sure your 5 Series starts in -30c temps while on the side of a mountain. Pretty reassuring stuff.
  • The F11 5 Series wagon is gorgeous and will be missed in the US market.
  • The next generation 6er was in attendance looking bigger than ever.
  • I got a good glimpse of the X6 refresh parked (I ‘m sure with no intended relationship) next to a Lexus RX with the badges removed or stickered over.

As you can imagine my first reaction was to grab my D90 and start snapping away. However it was truly an honor to be invited to such an exclusive event (only a handful of American journalists were invited and they all were from monthly magazines) and the last thing I wanted to do was dishonor my hosts by going against their wishes.

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  • Melis

    With the R55 taillights going LED, are they shaped majorly different? Or is it just simply a refresh to the current R55 taillight?

  • The design is similar to the current version.

  • Can’t wait to hear more about all the testing and your take on the larger BMW models.

  • Mark

    Yes indeed the (gorgeous) F11 5 Series wagon will be missed in the US. Is it likely that this will be true for the whole F11 cycle, or perhaps BMW NA might revisit this decision later on?

    On a different note, any hints about a US F11 diesel?

  • Mark do you mean F10? As in the 5er sedan- Yes it is in the works with no announced time table- we mentioned it in the last Bimmercast.


  • Mark


    That was Freudian slip on my part (US spec F11 wagon) … I hope not. F10 5er diesel sedan will be interesting to hear about as details emerge.

  • JonPD

    What a great experience Gabe, thanks a ton for sharing it.I would love to spend some time in that parking lot for sure heh.

    A little nervous about the F20 being longer and wider, but I am very interested in seeing what they come up with.

  • Kevin

    Was the x6 refresh significantly different or similar to the 2011 x5 LCI with subtle changes to bumpers etc. ?

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