A Swiss Selection News 2016 Geneva Show. The annual Geneva show kicks off the European show season and BMW, Alpina and AC Schnitzer all had delectable machinery on display this year… Words and photography: Bob Harper.
To a certain extent BMW was keeping its powder dry for its big centenary unveiling the week following the Geneva show but there was still plenty to see on the BMW stand. There was no MINI at the show this year, which gave BMW some more room to show off its wares, and perhaps the most important debut was the arrival of the first M Performance 7 Series: the BMW M760Li xDrive. Its moniker might be a little bit of a mouthful but this machine packs a massive punch from its M-tweaked, 6.6-litre, twin-turbo V12 engine. Headline figures are a monstrous 600hp at 5500rpm and a whopping 590lb ft of torque at just 1500rpm.
Performance is, as you would expect given its outputs, prodigious, recording a 0-62mph time of just 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 189mph – although this is with the M Driver’s package that’s not available for the UK market. Unsurprisingly economy and emissions aren’t stellar – 22.4mpg and 294g/km respectively – but if economy is your thing then you might prefer the new ‘iPerformance’ 740e.
While M has had a hand in tweaking the engine of the M760Li, it’s also breathed on the suspension to ensure it’s worthy of the M Performance moniker and the xDrive is said to be distinctly rear biased. Externally the car looks purposeful with an M Sport styling kit, but if you don’t want to look this aggressive then you can drop this in favour of the ‘V12 Excellence’ package which has a more discreet appearance.
For the press days of the show, parked up between the M760Li and the 740e you could find BMW’s first V12-engined Seven, the 750i, courtesy of BMW’s Classic division. It still looks superb, even though our inner BMW geek would have preferred it not to have been sitting on the Style 14 alloys that we’ve never seen on an BMW E32 before. Surely better for it to have been sitting on a set of the original ‘dinner plate’ Style 3 wheels which were standard on the 750i, or a set of the metric cross-spoke TRXs that were a popular option on the car? No matter, it’s just good to see BMW using its heritage at modern shows. This was a bit of theme across the Geneva show halls this year: Porsche had a 550 Spyder on its stand as a tenuous link to the new Boxster; Fiat had an original 124 Spyder to promote the new MX5-based version; and Touring Superleggera featured an original Alfa Romeo Disco Volante on its stand as it unveiled its new take on the car.
BMW chose Geneva to reveal its new iPerformance branding that will accompany its range of hybrid cars and there were several PHEVs on the stand sporting large script down their sides to ram the point home. On the subject of PHEVs, the poster boy for the brand, the BMW i8, was in attendance in its new Protonic red guise, a special edition that will be built from July onwards. As well as the unique exterior hue it will have some nice interior highlights and can be ordered now for the princely sum of £112,535. Not to be left out, the Special Edition i3, the Mr Porter edition, was also on show. This is meant to be ‘based on the timeless design of a tuxedo’ and is individually painted by master craftsmen and also includes an exclusive Mr Porter essentials travel kit – basically a set of bespoke luggage. At a monstrous £43,500 we think we’d stick with the standard model, even if the Mr Porter is a limited edition.
It was good to be able to get up close and personal for a sit in the M2, but as we’ve a full test of the car in our site we’ll stick to talking about the M2 that had been slathered in the full range of BMW’s M Performance accessories. In white with the M stripes it did look stunning and should give owners a way of personalising their cars right from the off. The M4 Competition model was there, and we still don’t like the wheels even in the metal, as was an M6 Gran Coupé which still looked as fresh and stylish as the first time we clapped eyes on one.
All in all, a good show for BMW, perhaps lacking any real surprises, but we’re sure BMW will have plenty of eye-openers up its sleeve for our delectation later in its centenary year.
The 2016 BMW M760Li xDrive G12 was one of the stars of BMW’s stand and while it’s not a full-on M car it certainly performs. BMW had two ‘i cars’ on display, both special editions, the Protonic red i8 and the ‘Mr Porter’ version of the i3.
There was plenty of Bavarian metal to feast one’s eyes on in Geneva and there’s no doubting the star as far as most stand visitors were concerned – the M2 in both normal and M Performance guises. We had to wait for ages to get a photo without the cars being surrounded by interested punters! Plenty of Individual machinery on display, too, like this lovely 6 Series.
If BMW’s offerings were a little tame then AC Schnitzer’s stand was a pleasant surprise with its ACL2 Concept Car taking pride of place and generating a huge amount of interest. Painted in British Racing green as a nod back to Schnitzer’s awesome E36 M3-based CLS 2 from 1995, the ACL2 promises to be a serious performer.
It’s strictly a Concept Car developed to show Schnitzer’s tuning prowess and to show off many of its parts that can be ordered for the 2 Series. At the heart of the conversion is the straight-six S55 engine transplanted from an M4 and while that already offers 100hp more than the M235i’s engine (the car on which the ACL2 is based) Schnitzer wanted to get significantly more power from the engine. So it’s tweaked both the software and hardware to extract a stonking 570hp and 546lb ft from the 3.0-litre straight-six. Simply opening the bonnet to have a look at the engine is a heart-warming sight as there’s so much more going on here than with any modern M car. Yes, it might be plastic and carbon fibre rather than the crackle-black finish on early M car cam covers, but there’s a feeling of excitement to see the carbon inlet pipes and the well-integrated M4 strut brace nestling under there.
The ACL2 has been developed under the ‘less is more’ tag line which Schnitzer is using these days. In relation to this car this means more power and less weight. Thus the transmission is the six-speed manual, not the significantly heavier M DCT unit, and, along with lightened bodywork items such as the carbon bonnet and a stripped-out interior, the ACL2 weighs in at 120kg less than the standard M235i. No mean feat when you consider that the M4’s engine weighs a fair bit more than the N55 from the M235i.
The car’s performance is stunning: 0-62mph in just 3.9 seconds. Unfettered by a speed limiter, it’ll do 330km/h (205mph)! As you’d expect, the car’s underpinnings have been upgraded all-round, too. There’s plenty of M4 running gear here – front and rear axles are both donated from the M4 – and nestling behind those AC1 20-inch alloys are Carbon Ceramic discs clamped by six- and four-pot callipers front and rear respectively. Suspension is Schnitzer’s excellent height-adjustable Clubsport setup that’s adjustable for both rebound and compression and the standard M4’s diff has been replaced by a Drexler item offering 25-95 per cent locking.
The body had to be extensively modified to cover the M4’s axles and as the M2 was not yet available to base the car on, and because Schnitzer wanted a rather more dramatic look, it crafted an entirely new set of styling for the car. The arch extensions are bold and in combination with plenty of carbon fibre additions to the front and rear of the car it looks absolutely stunning in the flesh.
The upshot of all the work Schnitzer has done to the car is a machine that has a weight-to-power ratio of 2.54kg per horsepower. Now that might not be a measurement we’re all that familiar with in the UK but if we said that a Ferrari 458 Italia’s figure is 2.61kg per hp, a 911 GT3 RS has to shift 2.84kg with every hp, and that an M2’s figure is 4.24kg per hp, you can see just how quick this machine is. The ACL2 won’t go on sale and has an estimated build cost of €149,000. We are, however, hoping to drive it once it’s done its round of motor show appearances. We can’t wait…
As well as the lurid ACL2 AC Schnitzer also brought along its X6 ‘Falcon’ to Geneva and if you want a huge 4×4 Coupé with a barrel load of attitude then this has to be the car for you. We loved the British Racing green monster though, all the way from its M4 sourced engine to the stripped out cockpit and extreme bodywork. With 570hp you can guarantee it’ll be quite a performer.
You wait for years for a 600hp 7 Series to come along and then, like buses, two arrive at once! Yes, BMW didn’t have it all its own way at Geneva as Alpina chose the show to debut its B7 xDrive at the show and while it has similar outputs to BMW’s M760Li, Alpina decided to stick with its tried and trusted V8 running gear for the model.
Headline figures are 608hp from 5750-6250rpm and a very healthy 590lb ft of torque available from 3000rpm. As you’d expect it’s pretty rapid, offering a 0-62mph time of just 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 193mph… quite why it’s seemingly quicker than the M760li isn’t clear given their virtually identical headline figures. It’s more economical, too, with combined economy quoted at 27.2mpg and emissions are rated at 242g/km – again an improvement over the V12’s figures.
As you’d expect with an Alpina, the rest of the car has had a thorough going over and while the car uses BMW’s front and rear air suspension setup this has been tuned by Alpina’s engineers to the company’s specific requirements. Brakes are monster discs clamped by four-pot callipers and these are covered by 20-inch alloys equipped with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres. As an option 21-inch forged wheels are also available.
While the B7 was the star it was hard to overlook the company’s other offerings – a B4 Bi-Turbo Coupé, a B3 Bi-Turbo Touring, a B6 Gran Coupé and the XD3, all painted in Alpina’s blue and green hues.
Alpina’s B7 xDrive will be up against some strong opposition from BMW who chose Geneva as the show to launch its M760Li.
While the 608hp B7 xDrive was the show debutant for Alpina it always brings along a great selection of other machinery on which to feast one’s eyes. The B4 Bi-Turbo Coupé looked sublime, the B3 Bi-Turbo Touring would be the ideal solution for the family man while the B6 Bi-Turbo Gran Coupé is still one of our all-time favourites.