Driving a BMW is always something to remember. The thrill, the excitement, the quality, it’s a feeling only gained behind the wheel of a BMW, hence the slogan ‘Sheer Driving Pleasure’.
The expert German craftsmanship giving you something truly unique, allowing you to be at one with machine and road. You feel in complete control. Whether that’s effortlessly gliding along the motorway or tight-corner apex hunting while analysing braking points, it feels at home no matter where you put it. And you feel at home in it.
Every turn. Every gear change. Every decision. You feel part of the vehicle. You know how it’s going to respond. You know you can rely on it.
So which BMW is best? Well, that depends on what you’re using it for…
The best BMW for long journeys
Every BMW can comfortably conquer long journeys thanks to the level of comfort and refinement each model offers, but some give you that little bit extra. But it’s not just more legroom or tech that gives these cars an edge.
Here’s our pick of BMW’s that will make travelling from Lands End to John o’ Groats seem effortless.
BMW 4 Series
Whether you opt for the coupe or convertible, the BMW 4 Series is the perfect combination of sport, style and sophistication. And on long journeys, that’s the combination you want.
From the hardcore M Sport performance-focussed nerve-tingler, which blasts from 0-60mph in a blistering 4.1 seconds, to the more economical BMW 418d, which takes just nine seconds to reach the same speed, acceleration is never a problem.
Nor is the drive. The 4 Series loves being tested through the corners. And with a 50:50 weight distribution over the front and rear axles, throwing it around the bends is both calculated and exhilarating.
It helps, too, that the 4 Series’ steering is the best in its class. It’s responsive and nimble. Light yet not separated from the machine. And when you put your foot down to explore the deepest depths of the engine, it’s as alert as a coffee-swilling fighter pilot.
If you need a bit more space than the 4 Series can offer (IE regularly have rear passengers) and want a more commanding road presence, then the X5 is your best bet for long haul journeys.
The BMW X5 is the German manufacturer’s longest-standing SUV. Originally brought to market around 20 years ago, it’s been forced to evolve to stand the test of time. And it’s done so with great aplomb.
From front to back, luxury surrounds driver and passengers, with Vernasca leather upholstery and adaptive two-axle air suspension cushioning every bump in the road.
Alongside the sublime drive, there’s also 19-inch alloys, electronic front seats with memory settings, park assist with rear camera and LED headlights, all of which come as standard.
The best BMW for in the city
While the entire BMW range is at home in any setting, a few stand out as better choices than others thanks to their compact dimensions and manoeuvrability.
BMW 1 Series
Compact in style, the BMW 1 Series is a more conventional front-wheel-drive experience which offers precise steering and an economical use of every inch of power.
It’s well known that mooching around the city can be laborious, especially in stop-start traffic, but the BMW 1 Series goes some way in challenging that perception.
It takes away the dullness with its punchy powertrain – right across the range – and more than enough room to remain comfortable.
It’s a nice place to be, too. Everything inside the 1 Series is pure quality, and with an abundance of technology at your fingertips via BMW’s i-Drive infotainment system.
From inside to out, everything is perfectly crafted. The hatchback’s smaller wheelbase ensures it can fit into any parking spot while its performance gives you enough power to get around. And if you spend a lot of time in the city, you’d be hard pushed to find a better companion.
While bigger and better EVs have popped up in the BMW range since the i3 was first introduced in 2013, BMW’s first all-electric car is perfectly suited to the city thanks to its compact size and zero-emissions offering.
While its exterior styling might be divisive compared to more modern EVs, the i3 is nimble to drive and offers an excellent turning circle and regenerative braking. All of these points make it ideal for city driving. The interior is bright, airy, simple and spacious too, with dimensions comparable to a regular city car.
With a real world range of 145 miles according to EV Database, recharging the 42kWh battery takes 6h15m using a 7.4 kW wallbox at a rate of 23 miles per hour of charge.
Get it while you can though: the BMW i3 is due to be discontinued in 2022 when it will be replaced by the new iX1.
Most fun BMW to drive
Fun is a bit of a subjective term. For some drivers fun might mean thrills and performance. For others it might mean the car offers enough driver assistance that it makes any journey seem effortless. Luckily there’s a one perfect car in the BMW range that fits both scenarios.
My reason for putting the BMW M5 here is because it was possibly the most fun I’ve had at a car launch. Driving the M5 on the road, with our ultimate destination being Anglesey Circuit for a bit of track testing, it proved to be a car suitable for any scenario.
The sixth-generation of the M5 features a 4.4-litre V8, and if that’s not enough there’s a couple of turbochargers bolted on for good measure to help deliver 591bhp and 0-62 in 3.4s. While that might sound a little intimidating to most drivers, the M Sport division has also installed a four-wheel drive system and pre-programmed settings which can restrict the cars performance as little or as much as you’re comfortable with.
Relaxing and restrained or ludicrous and fast, the BMW M5 signals what a car is truly capable of.