If anyone can make plug-in hybrids attractive, it’s BMW. To check out the 330e is to want to drive it. That same ability to create cars loved by enthusiasts reaches a new high point in the M4 GTS. Since the company occupies a special corner in gearhead heaven, it’s easy to forgive it for making compact crossovers; everyone has to earn a living! Visitors to the LA Auto Show stand will also find the excellent new generation of the 7 Series and a plug-in hybrid version of the X5.
2016 BMW 330e
The 3 Series has attained the position of all-time great, but it still has to keep up with the march of technology and the demands of society. The 330e is one way of doing just that. It’s a plug-in hybrid using an electric motor and a turbocharged 4-cylinder combustion engine. The smart thing is that it still retains the famed BMW 50/50 weight distribution for a balanced chassis and a satisfying driving experience. Luggage space is not affected adversely, despite the extra hardware.
The system develops a total of 252 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, can go 22 miles in electric-only mode and has a maximum range of around 370 miles. The 330e goes on sale in spring 2016, starting at $44,695 (including $995 destination charges).
2016 BMW M4 GTS
This one is for the real enthusiasts. We already know M versions of the brand’s cars are the high-performance variants, but here’s a high-performance M car, the M4 GTS coupe.
It kicks out 500 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque from a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 engine spinning up to a frenetic 7,600 rotations per minute. That’s 16 percent more power than the regular M4.
Naturally, everything around it is focused on the drive, such as the electronically controlled multiplate limited-slip differential, specially tuned traction and stability control systems, and drive settings going “from moderately sporty to extremely sporty.” BMW describes the chassis as track ready, but the car is absolutely road legal.
Only 700 units will be built in total, with just 300 of those made available to buyers in the United States, at a price of $134,200 (including $995 destination charges).
2016 BMW X1
The 2015 LA Auto Show marks the North American debut of the second-generation X1, the company’s smallest crossover. Right now, there’s only one model, the X1 xDrive28i.
The xDrive part denotes the presence of an all-wheel-drive system. A turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine makes 231 hp, complemented by 258 lb-ft of torque. Despite being a small crossover, it still manages to accommodate an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Interior space is more generous than the first generation, which translates to 2.5 inches of extra legroom in the rear and cargo space expanding by around 15 percent to a maximum of 58.7 cu ft.
The X1 is on sale now from $35,795 (including $995 destination charges); options include full LED adaptive headlights, a head-up display and a hands-free tailgate.