Last week the BMW Group launched the 2011 North American model lineup with a grand evaluation experience. The list of vehicles launched is quite lengthy, so much so I hope I do not leave anyone out. Introduced as New for 2011 was the 535i/550i, Aplina B7, Active Hybrid 7, Z4sDrive35is, 335is, the ///M3 Competition Package, Rolls Royce Ghost (not for track- too expensive to wreck I would imagine) and MINI Countryman (for show only as it was an early prototype). Vehicles that were given the Life Cycle Impulse treatment or power train changes were the 1,3, X5 and MINIs. The evil brothers, the X5 ///M and X6 ///M, made their home on the track as well. Some vehicles were not invited to the festivities- the X3 and 6 Series were left off the list as both are being sent out to pasture for 2011 with their life cycles ending (crickets in the background).
While the list of vehicles is a bit overwhelming, and I still can ‘t get my head around all the cars I have to finish reviewing,it was a launch event for the ages. Don ‘t you worry about those reviews, they are coming soon- I have extensive notes written in codes that only make sense to me and voice memos. The event included track drives, street drives and model specific classes. The event really got me to thinking about who else would launch so many vehicles to the press at a single event that just happened to be at a racetrack?Who else but BMW would give journalists cars, a track and say go drive the way these cars were intended to be driven? I have been scratching my head on that one for the last few days. I have concluded that no other manufacturer would even care to or consider launching so many true passenger cars at a race track. That is what makes the BMW Group different and the underlying reason why we are so loyal- they (BMW) care about driving cars in an age when the majority of people are being driven by their cars.
This event not only launched a vast number of vehicles for a wide range of consumers but cemented the notion that the BMW Group is committed to cars with sporting intentions, and to enthusiasts like you and I. By offering up all of these cars to be driven on the track BMW/MINI essentially announced that they had nothing to hide, that even an executive sedan that cradles you in the lap of luxury can still hold its own on the track. This all keeps them honest and shows that the brand still is true to its values.Professional drivers and staff members from the BMW Performance Center were on hand to take you on a hot lap or provide you with some gentle advice (or some tough love) on how to improve your driving. I know I sound like I have drank one too many glasses of BMW flavored Kool-Aid (a mix of apple juice and sparkling water for those interested), but I am being honest here; shooting from the hip.
Manufacturers are much like lobbyists, they can wine you and dine you to sway your opinion in their favor (GM anyone?) but in the end when they let you see the real info or find things out for yourself they are saying they have nothing to hide. They have no need to BS you, push some marketing hype or sway your opinion; they just let the products speak for themselves. BMW honestly let the facts speak for themselves, in stock form- no special tires, no brake pad upgrades just honest to goodness showroom spec cars. The cars spoke loudly and said we are still sporty. Of course nothing current is like an E30 but we also need to realize nothing ever will be, so we have moved on and the new crop of BMWs is nothing to frown at- something this event made us realize even more.
With many soon to launch models still in the pipeline it is nice to know that the engineers and all those that are behind bringing these vehicles to market have not let the core BMW values lose out to the accountants or marketing department. We BMW enthusiasts are in good company, as many of those same people that bring us these great cars are enthusiasts through and through.
We here at BimmerFile tip our ///M caps to everyone at BMWNA that had a hand in this great event, and to the BMW Group as a whole for not swaying from the path they laid decades ago of bringing us the Ultimate Driving Machine (and the vast majority of race cars with ///Motorsport stripes). Sometimes we are BMWs biggest critics, but right now we truly are their biggest fans as the 2011 model lineup makes us proud to be Bimmerfile.