NY Auto Show
by Jon Trudel - With Help
3/29/2002 - all images are copyright 2002. No other Use Permitted.
As always, BMW hosts a special talk on the first Saturday of the event, before the show opens, so that loyal members can view the BMWs in a much less crowded manner. Also, they host a talk about the entire product line, starting with a small breakfast and coffee. Last year, my friend Doug and I got there early, and they didn't let people in right away. This year, they opened on time, and we got there late. My bad. We missed much of the talk, and came in at the tail end.
Nevertheless, we got there in time to hear talk on the new 745i, which has earned praise for its technological advances, but some criticism due to it's new shape. Apparently, it's a love/hate relationship in terms of its look with diehard BMW fanatics. I like it, and it's definitely got some whiz-bang technology - note the trunk-close button here (top right), which seals the trunk so you don't have to slam it. The same technology is in the doors, too, but without the button. You just close it most of the way, and the car does the rest.
There was a Q&A Session after the main talk, and various people asked some good questions. Someone inquired about the V8 M3 race car that was making the news and might be sold to the public, and what happened to it (it was pulled from the racing curcuit) - the answer is that it will no longer be made for racing, if at all. Actually, BMW is re-evaluating its status and will decide what to do later. One of the rules they faced is that cars in its class had to be available to the public, which BMW did not do. Later on, I asked when we'd see the replacement for the Z3, and all I got was "Towards the end of the year". I also asked if the new model would be called the Z4 (most people believe that), and I got a "no comment" and a smirk as a response. Others asked the future of the Z3 Coupe, and whether or not its replacement would be called the Z5. Again, "No Comment". Oh well, you can't say we didn't try!
After the talk, we still had time before the rest of the show opened. We got a chance to play
Here, Rachel shows off some pictures to the editor of the NY BMW CCA club newsletter in front of a Z3 3.0. I finally got to sit in an M3 Convertible (some dealerships around here are really touchy about this unless it appears you have cash in hand and are ready to buy). Very nice interior. Comfortable Seats. This one had the new BMW SMG-II transmission, which is a manual transmission, but with an automatic clutch that does the work of a clutch pedal for you. This is what Formula 1 race cars have in them, and it gives you more control than you'd have with an automatic. What's also cool about the transmission in the M3 is that you also get these nifty paddle shift buttons on the steering wheel. Of couse, BMW made the convertibles right with the 3 Series - they come complete with an integrated top cover for when the top is retracted. It's one thing I'd really like in my Z3, but I'll make do ;-)
As for other things, I'll let the pictures do most of the talking. One thing I do like about the X5 is this neat sliding tray in the back - it allows you to get at all the stuff in the rear without having to lean in too far to get it.
The highlight of this year's BMW booth is the C1 concept car. It's a design study that looks pretty good. It's a smallish BMW, and it is supposed to have a lot of design cues that could be used with the upcoming 1-series that BMW is expected to produce in either 2003 or 2004. It's about as long as my Z3, but definitely taller and more boxy, but in a good way. I definitely like this, and I'll be keeping my eye on BMW in the next year or two. Good things all around, I'd say.
Thanks again, BMW for letting us in on the future!
(Note: Some photos used here are from Rachel Corey)
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