The BMW Group continues to flesh out the lineups of each of its three brands: BMW, Mini, and Rolls-Royce. Few will object to a V-12 for the 7-series; after all, that's how the 7-series became a player more than twenty years ago. But it remains to be seen whether the market will find room for the 550i GT - a high-riding 5-series hatchback - and M versions of the X5 and the X6. The Mini brand, coming off the successful launch of its convertible, is likewise heading into uncharted territory with its upcoming Crossman crossover. For Rolls, the answer to the worldwide recession is a smaller, less expensive ($250,000) sedan that evokes the brand's storied past with the Ghost moniker.
BMW X6 ActiveHybrid
New: BMW's first-ever hybrid. Set to debut at this year's Frankfurt auto show, it won't be a Prius-fighter, but it will be fast. A 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 provides the juice; electric motor assist helps curb the drinking.
Noteworthy: In contrast to the forthcoming hybrid-powered 7-series, the X6 is a hybrid that can run on electric power alone. In fact, it uses the two-mode system that BMW codeveloped with Chrysler, General Motors, and Mercedes-Benz, although the Bavarians assure us that it's been retuned for a more natural driving experience. Combine the electric assistance with the V-8's 400-hp output, and this will be a very quick vehicle. Expect EPA ratings to jump by almost 25 percent, perhaps achieving a 19-mpg overall rating. The nickel-metal-hydride batteries are located under the cargo area's load floor, eliminating the spare and requiring the use of run-flat tires.
On Sale: December
Base Price: $80,000 (est.)
Specs: 4.4L twin-turbo V-8/electric hybrid, 400 hp, 450 lb-ft; 4-wheel drive