The Bavarians unveil a spectacular diesel hybrid and nearly steal the show.
If the global recession is hitting the car industry, it obviously hasn't reached Munich. Taking over an entire hall at this year's Frankfurt Motor Show has given BMW room to stretch its legs. Its new models arrived at speed on a banked track behind BMW's boss, CEO Norbert Reithofer — himself dropped off in a stunning 1940 BMW 328 Mille Migila Roadster, cited by BMW as a trendsetter for aerodynamics and lightweight construction.
But BMW isn't looking backward. Its high-tech Vision EfficientDynamics concept is a contender for the star of the show, assuming you don't mind a bit of blue neon. It embodies one of the more surprising themes here: the rise of the sexy diesel hybrid. Peugeot has had a go at the same thing with its RCZ Hybrid4 concept — a car that is clearly much closer to production reality than this radical BMW futurism.
Still, even compared with the majesty of the RCZ, the Vision EfficientDynamics is by far the more visually dramatic. Maybe BMW's retirement from Formula 1 really isn't a tragedy if this is the kind of spectacular, potentially game-changing, engineering masterwerk it intends to come up with instead.
Make no mistake, even though the Vision EfficientDynamics appears to be a far-fetched concept, the underlying technology clearly supports BMW's commitment to a greener future, as also evidenced by other highlights on the company's Frankfurt show stand — specifically the 320d EfficientDynamics, and ActiveHybrid versions of the 7 Series and X6.
The Vision EfficientDynamics does, however, also serve as a reminder of BMW's commitment to performance driving. With its remarkable 163 horsepower 3-cylinder turbodiesel engine (likely coming to production soon) joined by twin electric motors, it produces a total of 356 horsepower. That's good enough for zero to 62 mph in 4.8 seconds and an electronically limited 155 mph top speed.
And yet it produces just 99g/km of carbon dioxide — and when running on electricity alone via battery packs, which can recharge in just 44 minutes, this already impressive figure is halved to just 50g/km. Maybe that makes up for the pair of performance leviathans that join it on display.
These are the BMW X5M and X6M, between them representing the first time BMW's M division has tuned any of the company's SUVs. These monstrous, twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 super-4x4s produce 555 horses and sprint to 62 mph in as little as 4.5 seconds, which is at once astonishing and alarming.