rom the 2002, the world’s first true sports sedan to the world-renowned high-performance M line and the plug-in i8 supercar, BMW innovation has taken many forms over the past century. The Munich-based company fuels the imagination of enthusiasts and challenges competitors with a lengthy list of ground-breaking products that attack convention and push boundaries. With so many fine examples from which to choose, we’ll focus on the three that adorn our cover: the 2002, the M2 and the Vision Next 100. While everyone seems to be vying for a piece of the sports sedan market these days, that was definitely not the case when the 2002 debuted in 1968.
Powered by 2.0-litre, single carburetor, 4-cylinder engine mated to a 4-speed manual transmission, the two-door 2002 pumped out 99 hp and 116 lb-ft. of torque in base form and drew rave reviews for its braking, acceleration and handling prowess. The 2002 was a runaway success that would eventually lead to the birth of the famed 3-Series sedan in 1975.
Skipping ahead four decades, the 2016 M2 carries on the performance lineage the 2002 began with a twin-turbocharged inline 3.0-litre 6-cylinder engine that produces a prodigious 365 horsepower and 343 lb-ft. of torque. Available with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic (DCT), the rear-wheel drive M2 is capable of going from 0-100 km/h time of 4.3 seconds when equipped with the DCT.
Finally, BMW gives us a glimpse of what the next 100 years of innovation might hold with the reveal of the BMW Vision Next 100, a concept capable of full autonomous driving. With this mode selected, the car can communicate not only with its occupants but with pedestrians and other motorists. The Vision Next 100 is also powered by a zero-emission powertrain.
While others sometimes struggle to build a brand identity that rings true, BMW’S ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ feels less like a slogan and more like a call to action.
With that in mind, cheers to BMW and here’s to another 100 years.