BMW History

The Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) company, which translates to English as “Bavarian Motor Works”, represents German engineering precision as much as Bentley represents British class and luxury. The marque was founded in 1916, and its manufacturing portfolio includes, in addition to BMW itself, Rolls Royce, Mini and a motorcycle division.

The company has twice been on the wrong side of history during both world wars, and Gunther Quandt, whose family even today owns a significant percentage of BMW, was a leading member of the Nazi party under Adolf Hitler.

BMW cars are well known as sports-sedans, and the company stresses fine handling and sportiness in its models via such features as careful weight distribution, rear-wheel drive and variable-rate steering. Indeed, one of BMW’s taglines is “the ultimate driving machine”. Manufacturing is spread across 4 countries, and in 2009 production stood at about 1.26 million vehicles.

BMW Design

Design is another area in which BMW has been famous, with the famous double-kidney grille and dual round headlights. The 21st century brought some controversy, largely due to the exterior shapes crafted by design chief Chris Bangle, as well as the interior controller called iDrive that has been blasted as being needlessly complex. Chris Bangle left the company in 2009, by which time some of his design ideas had surprisingly started being copied by other manufacturers.

BMW Models

BMW models in New Zealand are: the 1-series, which is a small car available in coupe, convertible and hatchback iterations. Then comes the popular 3-series, available as sedan, estate (branded “Touring”), coupe and convertible. After this is perhaps BMW’s iconic model, the 5-series, available as sedan, Touring and the unusual Gran Turismo, which is a cross between SUV and estate. Next is the 6-series, a luxury sports coupe and convertible; followed by the BMW’s limo, the 7-series that competes in the market against Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8. There are also high-performance versions of the 3 and 6-series, dubbed M3 and M6 respectively.

There are also the SUV’s- X1, X3, X5 and X6, which follow roughly the same pecking order and size as their sedan counterparts. The X6 is unusual because of its sharply-sloping rear roofline, designed to make it less like a bulky off-roader (a sector covered by the X5), and more an “off-road coupe”.

Looking at buying a BMW? Check the vehicle history of any BMW by entering its number plate in the field above.