BMW offers something for everybody

Paul A. Eisenstein
Special to The Detroit News

BMW seemed intent on covering all its bases as it lifted the covers on a virtual showroom of new models at the North American International Auto Show on Monday.

The new models on display included something for just about every possible customer, whether they’re looking for an entry-luxury crossover or one of the market’s most exclusive sedans, as well as mainstream gas-powered, battery-based or high-performance powertrain options.

The 2018 BMW 740e iPerformance was among the models introduced Monday, Jan. 9, 2017 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

German luxury makers have been waging a war of proliferation in recent years, adding new models at a rapid-fire pace to fill seemingly every possible inch of white space. That was all the more obvious considering all the 5-Series variants in Detroit.

The BMW 5-Series has long been a favorite among upscale buyers looking for a balance between luxury and performance. First launched in 1972, it gets a complete makeover that yields a sedan that is slightly larger, but also a little bit lighter.

At the sporting end of the spectrum, Detroit showgoers will get a first look at the 2018 BMW M550i xDrive. It’s fitted with a 456-horsepower V-8 punching 480 pound-feet of torque out to all four wheels. That’s enough, the maker claims, to get you from 0 to 60 in an estimated 4 seconds or less.

If green machines are more your thing, there’s the new BMW 530e iPerformance, the latest addition to the maker’s growing line-up of green – or, at least greener, machines. It pairs a 4-cylinder gas engine and an electric motor to deliver a combined 248 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. It will deliver an estimated 15 miles on battery power alone, while in sport mode it will hit 60 in 6.2 seconds, proving that clean and green can also have a mean side.

For those wanting something in the middle, there’s the BMW 540i xDrive, with its 3.0-liter inline-six making 335 horsepower – 35 more than the outgoing 540i – and 332 lb-ft of torque. Not quite as muscular as the M550, it will still get you to 60 in just 4.7 seconds.

Look for all three variants to hit showrooms early this year, with a base price of $51,200 before destination charges. Then expect to see even more variants follow, including a next-generation M5.

Sharing the crowded stage with the new 5-Series, BMW also had a rolling crystal ball offering a hint at still more new models to come. The BMW Concept X2 aims to strike a balance between a traditional passenger car and the ever-more-popular utility vehicles that have come to dominate industry sales charts.

It’s got interior space and overall functionality of an X model, while maintaining the more sporty proportions of a classic BMW sedan. Visually, the two-box design is distinguished by its long wheelbase, stretched roofline and forward-slanted C-pillar.

Don’t be surprised to see the Concept X2 become a production vehicle in the very near future, BMW officials strongly hint. It would join an increasingly crowded family of what the Bavarian maker likes to call “Sport-Activity Vehicles,” including the X1, X3, X4, X5 and X6. (An even more premium ute is also under development and would rival the Audi Q8 set to launch next year.)

For those who want a true premium luxury experience but also want something a little greener than the classic, full-size luxury sedan, BMW also has you covered.

The new 740e xDrive iPerformance is another way to say “large plug-in.” This electrified version of the Bavarian maker’s flagship sedan pairs an electric motor with the familiar TwinPower Turbo I-4 gas engine. At 248 hp, it will make 60 in about 5.9 seconds. It will also deliver up to 14 miles in all-electric mode while getting an EPA-rated 64 MPGe.

BMW is planning to roll out electrified versions of virtually all of its key models over the next decade, ranging from conventional hybrids to plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles. That’s on top of the special models, such as the i3 battery-electric city car and i8 plug-in sports car sold through its dedicated electric brand, BMW i.

For complete coverage of the Detroit auto show, go to detroitnews.com/autos/auto-show.