Integrated GoPro Control – Coming soon to a BMW and MINI near you

There is good news for those of you who own a BMW and a GoPro Hero Camera.

Designed specifically to reduce driver distraction, BMW’s technology division and GoPro have announced the first-ever mass-produced integration of a car’s on-board infotainment system and a GoPro camera.

Starting in July 2014, all BMW and MINI vehicles equipped with the BMW Apps or MINI Connected option will have the ability to configure and control a Wi-FI enabled GoPro camera via the iDrive controller and the vehicle’s high-resolution screen.

How it works

First, the user’s BMW or MINI vehicle must be equipped with the BMW Apps or MINI Connected option, respectively. Next, the user’s Wi-Fi-equipped GoPro camera (HERO3+ and later) communicates with the GoPro App installed on the driver’s iPhone 4 or later. The iPhone must be connected to the vehicle either through the iPhone USB cable or the BMW Accessory snap-in adaptor.

The driver can then access the app through the BMW ConnectedDrive or MINI Connected menu, which is displayed on the vehicle’s infotainment screen.

What can it be controlled?

BMW has worked with GoPro to further streamline the camera’s operating menu when accessed through the iDrive controller. Menu choices will appear to the left of the vehicle’s screen and the camera’s actual live view will be displayed in near real-time while the vehicle is stationary.
In addition to aiming the camera using BMW’s or MINI’s large central screen, users will be able to quickly choose between six pre-set camera modes:

  1. Leisure Drive Facing Out
  2. Night Driving
  3. Sport Drive Facing Out
  4. Drive Camera Facing In
  5. Winding Road Time-lapse
  6. Straight Road Time-lapse

The camera’s RECORD function can also be started and stopped by the driver at will, and vital camera status indicators are displayed, including recording elapsed time, battery life, and Wi-Fi signal strength.

The user can also toggle the camera’s SLEEP mode to prolong battery life between shots.

So there you have it, you will soon be able to have both the Ultimate Driving Machine and your very own Ultimate Driving video!

BMW i3 official Canadian launch

BMW i3s parked in front of BMW Group Canada headquarters in Richmond Hill, ON. Photos by Benjamin Yong.

On June 4 at their headquarters in Richmond Hill, ON, BMW Group Canada officially unveiled to media their first mainstream production electric car: the BMW i3.

With a range of 160 kilometres on a full charge (15 hours using standard Level 1 charging, three to four hours with Level 2), the i3 isn’t breaking any distance records. However, it is designed to be for urban use and there is research showing that a majority of city-dwelling Canadians drive less than 60 km a day. For those suffering from range anxiety, there is an optional model that features an add-odd gasoline engine that pushes the total range to 300 km. Rather than powering the drive wheels in the rear, the extra engine is only for powering up the battery.

Like a yoga studio or an ethical coffee shop, BMW says that there was a holistic approach to building their electric car. For example, if you peer inside you’ll notice the use of wood on the dash. That’s made from the eucalyptus plant sourced from Europe. In fact, 25 per cent of the entire interior is made from recycled materials.

Technology plays just as big a role as sustainability in the car’s production. Rather than a traditional instrument cluster and climate control layout, there is a pair of “pads” that display all the pertinent information. One is located in front of the steering wheel, and the other is a seven-inch screen — upgradeable to 10.2 inch — in the middle of the dash. Several of the vehicle’s controls can also be monitored and actuated using BMW’s propriety iRemote app available for Apple and Android devices.

I was fortunate enough to join a small group of other journalists given access to the i3s for a quick drive around the city to test the performance and handling. The 130-kilowatt electric motor produces 170 horsepower, more than ample for getting around town. One thing immediately noticeable upon first drive is the sensation of the car abruptly slowing down when you let off the gas — that’s the regenerative braking system turning friction back into usable energy. When you put your foot back down, the 184 lb-ft of torque brings power up quickly and, coupled with the near 50/50 weight balance, the car drives like you would expect something coming out of the Leipzig, Germany factory.

The i3 starts at $44,950. Visit the BMW website for more information.

Nostalgia: BMW's Best Advertisements


There once was a time when BMW openly stated that they manufactured “The Ultimate Driving Machine,” and they weren’t afraid to let the world know. From merely stating the facts to poking fun at the competition, the genius of its creativity was as undeniable as the effectiveness of its humour. Let’s take a look at some of their greatest hits in print and viral marketing.

Clive Owen and Madonna star in “The Hire.”

The year was 1998 and BMW had just launched the E39 M5. A four door saloon that looked, well… like a four door saloon. But the magic laid in the fact that it could give any fire breathing supercar a run for its money – baby seats in the back and all. It had 400 horsepower and it was the must-have bona fide sheep in wolves clothing of the moment. Its hidden tallents evoked creativity all over the world and hired PR agencies came up with all sorts of tongue-in-cheek advertisements to market the M5. This particular advertising campaign, which consisted of a series of viral short films, was the first of its kind and spawned an instant new advertising medium based on its worldwide success. It was a genius move by BMW, the first company to invest serious money in serious talent to produce a film merely for the internet, which at the time was still regarded as a mere distraction – let alone a profitable place to spend advertising dollars.



Circa 2001, I had the opportunity to experience a Silverstone M5 from the passenger seat. It was an LCI (facelifted) model, painted in Silverstone, arguably the best colour for the E39 M5 that brings out all of its nuances and looks beautifully offset by the shadow alloy wheels. I’ve always had one lasting memory of my brief time in the E39 M5, and it was the ferocity of its snarling engine coupled to painfully brisk gear changes. I must of thought that was a good thing, as to this day I often still catch myself browsing the local classifieds for a mint E39 M5. 

A couple of years after the M5’s debut came the E46 M3, launched in similar shades to the current M3 and M4 launch models – Laguna Seca Blue (pictured above) and Dakar Yellow. After the underpowered North America model E36 M3, BMW finally straigtened the record and brought the entire world the same glorious, 340 bhp straight-six, M3 – and what a car that was. An instant success as a result of its handling, packaging, straight induction sound, and looks. Once again, BMW Marketing was off to the races to prance their new posterchild in front of the competition. 

Depicted above is a personal favorite of mine. It’s not as well known as the Audi A4 ad featuring the slogan “Your move, BMW” and then having BMW of California erect a billboard right next to across the street showing off the new M3 with the slogan “Checkmate.” Instead, what you can see above is Audi of Hong Kong not realizing that their dealership’s wall space was available for rent, and that there were no limitations as to who could use it to,… I don’t know, maybe advertise the newest BMW 5 Series? Surely that spilt a few cups of coffee at the Audi Hong Kong Head Office. Your move, Audi. 



But BMW wasn’t all flashy cars and cheeky taunts. When it came to convincing customers to have their cars serviced at the dealer, the marketing department turned to minimalism a la Volkswagen in the 50’s. I think the above ad is absolute genius and never before three simple letters arranged wrongly have gotten a point across more clearly. Bravo, and let’s see some more of this type of clever advertising in today’s world.

Absolutely brilliant. There’s no other way to put it. After seeing the ad live on TV, I don’t think I would of had the self restraint to not spend the house on a brand new M5 in the year 2000. Just look at it! Parked in the desert, with a cloud of dust about to settle down, just the right amount of dirty with the 400 horsepower ticking themselves cool after a top speed run. It looked – in a word – perfect. Luckily in the year 2000 I didn’t even have my driver’s license yet and I was still fantasizing of the day my dad would allow me to climb behind the wheel of our 1990 E30 320i 5-speed Convertible. Those were the days. The days of great advertising.

BMW's Rallying Days

Rallying is cool. It’s a bunch of lunatics going very sideways on the world’s most gruelling and extreme roads. A little known fact about BMW is that they didn’t just stick to road racing when it came to motorsports, they also entered the occasional rally car. In 1982, BMW decided to enter a tuned version of their supercar – the legendary BMW M1. While the BMW M1’s roots in race car history are well documented, very little is known about the M1’s brief stint in the world of rally sport. And not just any rally sport, we’re  talking about legendary “Group B” – an unrestricted class of motorsport in the 1980’s in which the BMW M1 stood out as its most powerful entrant. 

For those of you not in the know on arguably the most interesting few years in rally sport history; Group B rallying happened in a four-year span when the world briefly went mad. In 1982, all manufacturers were in a race to build the most powerful rally cars in the hopes of catching up to the dominant Audi Quattros. The results were twitchy turbo charged rally cars with virtual suicidal drivers sprinting through rally stages at time travel speeds. In eerie similarity to the killer 50’s when F1 racing was discontinued for a number of years, the unrestricted Group B class was banned in 1986 due to too many fatalities. In its darkest days the sport was said to cause more deaths than finishers.

The BMW M1 was modestly described as “hard to handle” by driver Bernard Beguin, who wrestled the godly sounding beast around Europe’s dirt clad hairpins. The footage below shows the 430 bhp M1 terrorizing “the Tour de Corse” on the usually quiet and quaint island of Corsica. Nicknamed ‘The Rally of 1000 Corners,’ spectators would often shovel gravel onto the road to cause an even greater – sideways –  spectacle.

I guess it is safe to say that BMW learnt some valuable lessons with their stint in Group B rallying, as only a few years later they managed to produce one of the most victorious race cars in motorsport history – the BMW E30 M3. It was the summer of 1985 in Germany when the journalists first got their hands on the M3, and for the next six years, their pens waxed lyrically about the M3’s 50/50 weight distribution, driving feel, and endless string of victories on the road, on the track, and on Europe’s most challenging dusty mountain roads.

The fact that it originally started out as a “Group A” race car project, of which BMW was forced to make a (now legendary) homologiation production series for the road, helped make it an extraordinary machine for use on the road. It was light at a mere 1,200 kilograms dry weight, and it featured the 1983 F1 Championship winning engine block from the Brahbham BMW race car. Its crankshaft could withstand up to 10,000 rpm and its exhaust system was tested for over 150,000 kms at full throttle on Italy’s Nardo test track. All these bits of specific information reveal why the E30 M3 road car was granted such high praise as it was a mere race car in disguise. How BMW managed to sell them at a halfway affordable price is beyond my comprehension.

Similar to the BMW M1, another legend had entered the books, albeit with a dramatically different end result. The M1 was a legend because it was a short lived monster, the E30 M3 because it was an absolute peach that led a long dominant life as Bavaria’s most prized export. 

Today, let’s enjoy the footage for what it was and silently pay our respects to the drivers and spectators who paid the ultimate price in the name of motorsport.

Visit BMW Langley for more info on the BMW brand.

Heads-Up Displays: Fighter jet technology in today's cars


Head-up displays (HUDs), which project vehicle speed and other information in the driver’s field of view, have been available since about 1990s on a small handful of luxury cars.

But with most of them based on basic LED technology of the time, information that could be displayed was limited at best. Cost, packaging, and reliability were also issues.

As automakers try to find new ways to reduce driving distractions in recent years, new LCD technology and cost reductions have allowed heads-up display systems to become more widespread like never before.

How it works

Fighter jets have used HUDs for years to keep vital information in front of pilots during combat situations. After all, keeping their eyes trained on the action in the heat of battle rather than on the cockpit instruments can mean the difference between life and death.

While a head-up display can take almost any form, the most common type in a car reflects its image directly off the windshield just below the driver’s line of sight. This is achieved by a special display integrated on the top of the dashboard and a specially coated windshield.


Just as in a jet fighter, the idea is that a head-up display helps the driver concentrate on what is happening on the road by displaying relevant information right in the driver’s line of vision.

What you get as you peer out past the steering wheel is a floating display with your speed and navigation directions. On some cars, the current audio playlist, collision warning and lane departure markings may also be displayed. 

In fact, thanks to the move from LED icon-based displays to configurable LCD monitors, automakers can display just about anything.

Today, head-up displays are widely available in many models from luxury marques including Audi, BMW, Lexus, and also the Hyundai Equus. In this category, buyers demand technology and are willing to pay extra for it.

However in the last year or so, heads-up displays have also made it to lower-priced vehicles thanks to a few clever innovations by engineers.

BMW 3-series4-series5-series6-series7-seriesX5X6


BMW offers an advanced full-colour HUD system on many of their models. You can see your current speed, but the 3×6-inch colour display also shows vehicle warnings (such as lane departure and collision alert), the current setting for the adaptive cruise control, and turn-by-turn GPS navigation indicators. You can also bring up your current playlist, or see who is calling on your Bluetooth connected phone.

BMWs HUD will adjust automatically to current weather conditions due to an ambient light sensor. Via the vehicle’s iDrive interface, owners can further tweak the brightness level, position and rotation of the display, or even what information they want (or don’t want) to see.

Audi A6A7A8


Audi’s full-colour heads-up display recreates the display philosophy of their Multi-Media Interface.

The 3.41×10.31 inch display is based on the latest TFT LCD screen technology and backlit by 15 energy efficient white LEDs. Like BMW’s system, a sensor constantly measures ambient brightness in front of the vehicle and the system adjusts the light intensity so that the display can be read perfectly at all times day or night.

Drivers can select what information they wish to have shown via the MMI, including the speed, navigation symbols, and lists of infotainment systems and displays for the driver assistance systems.



HUDs are finding their way into more vehicles, including lower-priced ones such as the all-new 2014 Mazda3.

Mazda’s optional system, dubbed their “Active Driving Display” is the first Mazda product with such a system and is more compact than other HUDs out in the marketplace. Traditional HUDs wouldn’t fit in the Mazda3 due how much space they require.


The Active Driving Display doesn’t project onto the windshield but instead onto a pop-up semitransparent lens on the top of the dash in the driver’s field of vision. Despite being fitted to a lower-priced vehicle, the Mazda3’s system also projects speed, cruise control settings, driver assistance system warnings, and navigation info. However it is not a full-colour display unlike those from the German auto manufacturers.


One extra benefit to this setup is reduced repair costs if the windshield gets damaged. Why? Because traditional Heads-up display systems require a special reflective windshield coating for the information projected on them to be visible. If a stray rock damages the windshield in the Mazda, it won’t be as costly to fix as the car uses a normal windshield.

MINI Cooper


The all-new 2014 Mini Cooper Hardtop, boasts even more tech than its predecessor, including a heads-up display system.

Like Mazda’s system, the full-colour HUD is not projected onto the windshield surface but instead appears on a semitransparent lens atop the dashboard in the driver’s field of vision.


Turn-by-turn navigation graphics, current speed and speed limit information, safety system warnings can be displayed and seen quickly and conveniently without the driver having to take eyes off the road.

Top 3 Electric / Hybrid picks for the 2014 Vancouver International Auto Show

The Vancouver International Auto show has returned to town! In keeping with the Eco theme that is so on trend this days, there are quite a few electric and hybrid vehicles on this year’s show floor. Here are my top 3 electric and hybrid car picks of the show.

Toyota Camry Hybrid Special Edition

While it may seem like an unlikely top choice, the Camry hybrid is truly what brought affordable hybrid technology to the masses in an unassuming package that didn’t scream “eco” as loudly as a Prius.

The Toyota Camry Hybrid SE Special Edition, unveiled at the 2014 Vancouver auto show, combines the advanced power and fuel efficiency of the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive with the popular Camry SE grade’s desirable appearance features.

“Special Editions showcase design and sportiness, and those attending this month’s Vancouver International Auto Show will be among the first in Canada to see the very new, very special edition first hand,” said Larry Hutchinson, Vice President at Toyota Canada. “But like all Special Editions, these unique versions…will be available in limited quantities – so speak with a Toyota Dealer to get the best selection”.

With an MSRP of $29,540, the Camry Hybrid SE Special Edition is immediately recognizable by its full skirt package, rear spoiler, sport-style grille, and other exterior details.

Inside, the cabin receives unique front sport seats and special sport fabric, a power adjustable driver’s seat, a leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, aluminium scuff plates, and more.
For more information on the Camry Hybrid – including the Camry Hybrid SE Special Edition– visit:

BMW i8

One of the most anticipated cars at this year’s autoshow, the i8, a plug-in hybrid 2 + 2 sports car, is supposed to compete with other performance cars in its general price range.

The i8 is a significant vehicle because it is the first plug-in hybrid from BMW Canada and “the world’s most progressive sports car,” as they’ve put it.

With a passenger cell made from carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic that is 50% lighter than steel and 30% lighter than aluminium, the i8 weighs in at a relatively low overall weight of 3285 pounds.

Powered by a 1.5-litre 3-cyliner gasoline engine, and electric motor and a lithium-ion battery, this is the first BMW hybrid in which different sets of drive wheels are operated by different motors. The gas engine sends power to the rear wheels via a 6-speed auto transmission whereas the electric motor sends power through the front wheels via a 2-stage auto transmission. Combined system output is an impressive 362 hp and 420 ft-lbs of torque.

0-100km/hr sprints are expect to take just 4.4 seconds, and the vehicle has a range of up to 35 kms and a top speed of 120 km/hr on electric power alone.

If you’re a high-tech early adopters/pioneers, or just someone who can afford the latest and greatest , you are likely the perfect customers for this vehicle.

BMW i3

It may not look exactly like a traditional BMW, but for city folks interested in an electric vehicle, the new-age BMW i3 should make a compelling choice.

Conceived from the outset as a dedicated EV, it has seating for four people and a surprising amount of space for both passengers and cargo. The i3 is also sure to turn heads wherever you go.

This rear-wheel drive electric vehicle has a passenger cell made up of carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic, similar to the i8.

A 168hp electric motor producing 184 ft-lbs of torque sits crossways between the rear wheels along with its 22kWh lithium-ion battery pack. This layout gives the i3 the added bonus of perfect 50/50 weight distribution similar to other BMWs.

BMW claims that the i3 will reach 100 km/hr in 7.2 seconds and should run on EV power alone for 128 to 161 kms of range.

An optional “range extender” 650cc gasoline engine, which acts as a generator, can add up to another 144 kms to the above EV-only range.

If you’re a fan of electric vehicles (or even if you aren’t), the i3 is truly unique and interesting machine that will give you a glimpse into how a growing number of cars will be built in the future.

The Vancouver International Auto show is at the Vancouver Convention Centre West and is now open daily to the public till Sunday March 30th at 4pm.

Top 3 Performance Car picks for the 2014 Vancouver International Auto Show

The Vancouver International Auto Show is returning into town this week and I’ve managed to get my hands on the advance media preview vehicle list. Here are the performance car debuts that I am most excited to see in the flesh at this year’s show!


BMW Canada is making a strong offering of new products this year. The much anticipated M3 sedan and M4 coupe duo will sure to be sure to win the hearts of many BMW fanatics.

Both cars are lighter than their outgoing models and feature a return to the traditional BMW straight-six cylinder design. In this latest iteration, this engine makes 425hp (more than the outgoing V8) but yet sips less fuel.

These cars will do 0-100 km/hr in 4.0 seconds and will be available in late spring 2014 as 2015 models.

BMW M235i

A reincarnation of the limited edition 1 Series M coupe that BMW produced in 2011-12, the 2-series is next in the line of compact sport coupes from BMW.

Longer and wider than the 1-series coupe, this little pocket rocket makes 322hp/332 ft-lbs of torque from its 3.0-litre turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine. Inside, the cabin has been upgraded and the new car should no longer feel like it plays second fiddle to its bigger 4-series sibling.


The 7th generation of this iconic hot hatchback makes its regional debut at this year’s auto show. Longer in wheelbase and overall length, there is more space inside and the interior décor, while familiar is also completely updated.

A new platform called MQB is both lighter and stronger than before, making this car a sure fire winner with hot hatch fans and VW fanatics alike.

The Vancouver International Auto Show opens to the public from Tuesday noon on March 25th, 2014 till Sunday March 30th.

Stay tuned for more auto show top picks (in different categories) over the next couple of days!

Top 3 Supercar picks for the 2014 Vancouver International Auto Show

The Vancouver International Auto Show is returning into town this week and I’ve managed to my hands on the advance media preview vehicle list. Here are my top 3 supercar unveilings that I am most excited for at this year’s show!

Audi S8

There’s just something that I love about an uber fast large luxury super sports sedan, and Audi is an expert in this category.

The 520hp 2015 Audi S8 makes its regional debut at this year’s autoshow. Like the more pedestrian A8, it receives some stylistic nips and tucks to both the exterior and interior, along with the expected technology upgrades. Pay particular attention to its amazing new Matrix LED headlights!

BMW i8

Unveiled at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, the much anticipated plug-in hybrid supercar has finally made its way (in production form) to Vancouver!

This car was first introduced as the BMW Concept Vision EfficientDynamics, and made its silver screen debut in Mission Impossible 4 (part of which was filmed in Vancouver) with Tom Cruise.

With a 7.1 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and an expected all-electric range of 37 kms, BMW conservatively estimates a 0-100 km/hr time of 4.4 seconds. A 3-cylinder 1.5-litre BMW TwinPower Turbo range extender engine eliminates pure electric car range anxiety. When combined with the eDrive technology the system produces a whopping 362hp and 420 ft-lbs of torque.

The everyday driving range of the i8 with a full tank of gas and a full charged battery is expected to be more than 500 kms in COMFORT mode.

McLaren 650S

Now this is something ultra-special and I’ve saved the best for last. McLaren has chosen this year’s Vancouver International Auto Show as the place for its North American unveiling of their latest model, the 650S.

Sandwiched in between the 12C and the ridiculously awesome hybrid super supercar P1, the all-new McLaren 650S is not exactly your average middle child.

This midrange model from the British exotic car manufacturer is the brand’s latest bid to compete with Porsche, Lamborghini, and Ferrari at the top of the supercar league.

While the 650S also has a carbon-fibre MonoCell backbone like the 12C, it has been tweaked to shave some extra weight. The 650S’s additional changes and improvements required fitting 25% new components versus the 12C.

With the 641hp/500 ft-lbs of torque from its 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 able to catapult the car from 0-60mph in less than 3 seconds, this latest British supercar is something that you will not want to miss at this year’s show!

The Vancouver International Auto Show opens to the public from Tuesday noon on March 25th, 2014 till Sunday March 30th.

Stay tuned for more of auto show top picks (in different categories) over the next couple of days!

BMW TV Ad: Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games


BMW is an official partner of Team Canada in the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games and has launched the “Powering Performance” campaign. Featured in the BMW TV ad commercials are freestyle half-pipe skiier Roz Groenewoud, bobsleigh pilot Kaillie Humphries, and short track speed skater Charles Hamelin. #POWERINGPERFORMANCE is the official hashtag.

If you are interested in a vehicle, visit BMW Langley.

2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i Road Test Review

No one will mistake the 2014 BMW X5 for anything else, as the changes are pure evolutionary. The grille is a bigger and bolder version of BMW’s classic twin-kidney design, headlight treatment now inspired by the new 3 Series, and revised taillights larger iterations of other LED-enhanced lenses already available in the ever-expanding BMW lineup. Those who liked the outgoing X5 and BMW’s new design direction should really like what they see in the 2014 model. I happen to love it.

A car, or crossover sport utility in this case (or sport activity vehicle in BMW-speak), is always much more than the sum of its parts. It’s one thing to say the grille is bigger and bolder and contemplate how its 3 Series-inspired headlamps bookend those chrome-enhanced kidneys, or for that matter how its new chiseled LED tail lamps pull cues from its predecessor as well as various other more current BMW products, but take a walk around the vehicle from 10 metres away and it’s easy to see how harmoniously the new 2014 X5 comes together. The new model is easily the best X5 yet. The look is at once strong and purposeful, more masculine in every respect, yet it continues forward with a certain elegant athleticism.

An ideal balance of grit and poise, power and endurance, like the finely sculpted shape of an Olympic diver mixed with the fluid movements of a master fencer. But I digress. This is a seven-passenger crossover SUV we’re talking about, after all.

To that end the X5 remains one of the best in the business, following through on its well-balanced styling with an ideal mix of comfort and sport on the road. The chassis soaks up even the harshest pavement irregularities let alone dirt and gravel, while maintaining its Germanic firmness that equates to brilliant at-the-limit handling. It’s almost as if it’s saying, “I dare you to throw me off-line!” It’s difficult to get the X5 unsettled. Ramp up speed and then throw it into a curve without contemplating the right velocity or apex and it just nonchalantly goes about its business. “Is that the worst you can do?” it taunts. Of course none of us try and drive badly, but most of us lose ourselves in thought once

in a while and then brake too late before a corner or miss our turn entirely. The result of either is often panic braking during a turn, normally the worst thing we can do, which in some SUVs can end up in bruised egos, dented fenders or worse. The X5, however, maintains its cool under just about any circumstance, and that, my friends, is the most important reason to buy a vehicle that handles corners well. Sure it’s fun through the curves where Bimmer enthusiasts like to play, but the X5 is much more than that. It might just be the safest SUV on the planet because of its ability to avoid an accident in the first place, let alone survive one thanks to its full assortment of active and passive safety features.

Getting up to speed is no problem no matter which engine you choose. The X5 xDrive35i I tested came with the model’s least powerful base inline six, a turbocharged 3.0-litre unit that puts out 300-horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque and

is joined up to a highly efficient, quick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. BMW claims zero to 100km/h in 6.6 seconds, and I don’t doubt them. Takeoff felt V8-like although the engine’s higher pitched growl was more akin to one of the brand’s sports coupes, all in all an invigorating experience when throttle hits floorboard. If you want to reduce that sprint time opt for the X5 xDrive50i that manages the feat in 5.3 seconds. It incorporates a twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 for an additional 45 horsepower over the engine it replaces, for a total of 445 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque. Being that I’d rather invest in big oil via the markets rather than simply make them rich by pouring it into my gas tank I’d opt for the most energy-efficient X5, the xDrive35d turbo-diesel. This year’s version is actually down 10 horsepower to 255, while torque remains 413 lb-ft. According to BMW, however, performance is as good or better than the outgoing model.

How did BMW manage less power yet more performance despite the new X5 actually being marginally larger than the one it replaces? Unless you rework the gearing for quicker takeoff, which often results in shorter gears at the top-end and poorer highway fuel economy, BMW chose to lighten up its new X5 with more aluminum and other exotic materials. That’s the kind of progress we enthusiasts appreciate, being that it not only improves a vehicle’s go-fast goodness, but also makes it more of a joy around corners, not to mention improving fuel economy.

BMW claims 11.4 L/100km city, 7.5 highway and 9.6 combined for the six-cylinder I tested, 14.6, 9.2 and 12.2 for the V8, and the pièce de résistance, 8.7, 6.3 and 7.6 for the clean diesel; that model still capable of a seven-second sprint to 100 km/h.

Of course it’s a BMW so all of its efficient dynamics combine with a level of luxury few carmaker’s can match, impressive considering the 2014 X5 starts at only $62,900 plus destination. Highly refined soft-touch plastics join beautiful leathers, authentic woods and metals plus top-drawer electronics, the infotainment system’s graphics of such high resolution it almost looked like I could have dipped my fingers right inside when pressing its various features. BMW’s iDrive, which now includes a convenient touchpad atop the controller, worked flawlessly, and unlike the company’s first forays into electronic interfaces not much education was needed to get familiar with its various functions.

No, the X5 is one of those vehicles you can climb inside and immediately feel right at home, albeit a much nicer home than you’re probably used to. Its seats are ultimately comfortable yet supportive in all the right ways, driver ergonomics ideal for most body types, exquisite attention to detail capable of pleasing even the most fastidious of automotive elitists, the performance I’ve repeatedly mentioned ad nauseam fabulous whether or not you choose the optional dynamic adaptive suspension package (although I would as it’s active stabilization system and torque-vectoring rear differential work brilliantly; a self-leveling air suspension and sport-tuned dampers are available too), and all the while the X5 provides the type of work-a-day functionality expected of a crossover SUV, including an ultimately flexible 40/20/40 split-folding second row and optional seven-occupant seating.

All-round, the 2014 X5 not only has what it takes to maintain its popularity in the luxury crossover segment, it’s so good that only your curiosity will be served if you bother driving anything else.