2014 BMW Drive Speeds from Canada to Puget Sound

It’s only natural that a worldly, elite automaker like BMW would make its 2014 full line drive event an international affair.
The legendary German automaker gathered a herd of auto writers from around the world in Vancouver to greet its entire fleet of vehicles. The task was simple: Pick a 2014 BMW and drive it across the border south through beautiful seaside and mountain roads to Puget Sound and downtown Seattle. Along the way, drivers would have an opportunity to switch models in the hope of trying out as many Beemers as possible.

The morning of the long run, I headed first for the 2014 BMW 4 Series (the 428i, in fact). It was a popular target because the 4 Series is about to absorb the classic M3.

I don’t know why BMW is discontinuing the M3 coupe and convertible. For years, that car has been an iconic fixture in the entry level luxury performance class. Other car makers from Audi to Lexus have aspired to build a car of similar price that performed as well while warranting as much universal admiration. It seemed the perfect blend of class, luxury, technology, speed and handling – affordable German precision personified. And it’s fading away out of the BMW line.

Now, BMW insists that’s all an overreaction and that the M3 will essentially still exist within the 4 Series models. That would make a transition in name only. And, if that really is the case and the automobile once called the M3 still exists somehow, so be it. I just want to see that car on the market. I couldn’t give a damn how it’s designated.

I was lucky to snag the 428i because it was much in demand. Journalists were eager to discover if the 2014 4 Series had absorbed a little bit of that M3 magic. Of course, the four seater comes off a little larger than the M3 and is designed for a little more comfort than the old coupe/convertible. However, the aggressive, laser-refined driving experience packs that same addictive sensation.

Even though it offers only a base charged, 2.0 liter, inline four cylinder, the power plant still manages to put out 241 efficiently applied horsepower.

Whether cruising along the highway in total comfort or passing by lesser humans on a two-lane road, the 428i is a satisfying choice starting around $50,000. But, there was little sign of that old M3 magic.

Enter the 2014 BMW 335i. Another four seater, the V6 version puts out 300 horsepower via a perfectly balanced, eight speed transmission. Its 0-60 time comes in at 5.4 seconds – calling back memories of the M3’s classic driving sensations. Served up starting around $46,000, the 335i offers all the 428i’s sophistication with a little more visceral thrill. The slightly smaller profile allowed the 335i to bite out tight corners with maximum bite, making it an absolute joy to drive.

The 2014 BMW 5 Series.

Finally, the 2014 BMW 5 Series was the final vehicle of the day – guiding me into downtown Seattle, past Pike Market and into the Four Seasons. I’ve always considered the 5 series as the catchall BMW – the car offering the most complete BMW experience. Its engine is back to that 2.0 liter charged V4, but Beemer’s downshift to that smaller, more fuel efficient engine design means little sacrifice of power. We’re just going to have to hope all of those German turbochargers stay online.

While the 5 Series isn’t the top of Beemer’s line, it does feel like the best rounded car they make. It doesn’t feel as quick as the 3 Series, but it’s larger and smoother. It’s not as luxurious as the old 6 Series, but it’s more fun to drive. Starting in the mid-high $50,000 range, the 5 Series might be the best all around model in the line.

When the Full Line drive wrapped in strangely bright and sunny Seattle, the three models I’d taken south proved one thing for certain: No matter the country, no matter what the driving conditions, no matter the model, BMW is still BMW.
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