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    Matt Robinson
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    Matt Robinson
    Matt Robinson joined the group BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo G32
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    THE ROAD TO LE MANS! / #BMW-M8 / #BMW / #BMW-8-Series / #2018-BMW-8-Series / #2018 / #BMW-M8-GTE / #BMW-Motorsport

    No sooner had BMW announced that it was bringing the 8 Series back from the dead, than we’re standing in front of a car-sized tent, branded with the slightly strange legend ‘Too Many Secrets’, in the car park of the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

    Then, with the metallic bark that’s the calling card of a highly-tuned V8, the vehicle that’s shielded from us fi res into life and, with a rip of Velcro, the veil is removed and we get our first glimpse of the BMW M8. Yes, that’s right, while we’re still coming to terms with the resurrection of the 8 Series, BMW is already working on the high-performance version.

    Frank van Meel, president of M Division said: “The conception and development of the standard BMW 8 Series and the M model run in parallel. The future BMW M8 will build on the genes of the 8 Series, and augment its DNA with added track ability and generous extra portions of dynamic sharpness, precision and agility.”

    At this stage, of course, we don’t know much beyond what BMW is prepared to tell us on the quiet, and what we can see from looking at the heavily-disguised demonstrator in the metal. On the first point, it’s no leap of blind faith to assume that the M8 will run the drivetrain that powers the 2018 M5.

    That means a 4.4-litre turbocharged #V8 developing at least 620hp, with drive going to all four wheels. Hopefully, like the M5, there will also be the opportunity to switch to a two-wheel-drive ‘hero’ setting, for those occasions when you want genuine rear-drive balance.

    In terms of the new model’s presence; well, it’s a big old thing. In profile, just a casual glance is enough to confirm that it makes the outgoing 6 Series look almost delicate and demure. This is BMW’s attempt to distinguish the two; the Eight is going to take up the mantle of the luxury grand tourer, allowing the Six more room to become even more sporty and to properly challenge the Porsche 911.

    On which note, perhaps the most exciting news about the M8 relates to what that M stands for in the first place – the coupé is going to be taking BMW Motorsport back to Le Mans.

    Jens Marquardt, director of BMW Motorsport, explained: “The #BMW-M8-GTE development programme for our Le Mans comeback is in full swing. Developing a new racing car is always exciting and, in the case of the M8 GTE, the anticipation is that much greater still.

    “We’re planning an initial roll-out for later this year, and are scheduling the car‘s race debut in the Daytona 24 Hours in late January, 2018.”

    The new BMW M8 breaks cover at the Nürburgring.

    Big and brawny; it’s likely that the BMW M8 will make use of the existing, M5 drivetrain.
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    A couple of years ago I found an all too tempting PCH-deal on a #BMW-4-Series and I’ve enjoyed two great years of motoring in my #BMW-420d auto Gran Coupé. Unfortunately, the time is coming to hand it back, and with a few thousand sunk and (soon) nothing to show for it, I’m wondering if I should buy something instead this time. I have always fancied a six-cylinder #BMW-E92 Coupé. Having driven numerous ‘high end’ cars that have been ruined by indecisive, slow-witted automatic gearboxes (an E350 Coupé being the most notable) my fear is that stepping backwards from BMWs latest eight-speed auto to a more old-school auto may leave me disappointed, especially knowing how proactive and decisive the latest machinery is when pulling off from a rolling start when coasting up to roundabouts etc. Should I be concerned? Love the magazine, keep up the good work. / #BMW-420d-F32 / #BMW-F32 / #BMW / #BMW-F36
    • Ultimately Matthew the only way to really judge this will be to take an E92 Coupé for a spin yourself but, having sampled the latest ZF eight-speeder,Ultimately Matthew the only way to really judge this will be to take an E92 Coupé for a spin yourself but, having sampled the latest ZF eight-speeder, we fear you’ll be disappointed with the E92. In its day the six-speed auto in machinery such as the 330i was an excellent piece of kit but now you’ve tasted the forbidden fruit in the guise of the eight-speed the sixspeed may feel a little clunky by way of comparison.  More ...
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    Matt Robinson
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    Real road test in Poland all new generation Panamera 971 pre-production cars

    / #Porsche-Panamera-V8 / #Porsche-Panamera-II / #Porsche-Panamera-4S / #Porsche-Panamera-4S / #Porsche-Panamera-Turbo / #Porsche / #Porsche-Panamera-971 / #Porsche-971 / #Porsche-Panamera-Turbo-971 / ‏ — at Poland
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    Fancy an Alpina B7 but don’t have the £115,000 required for a new one? Then how about a used E65? It’s a great car for a very reasonable amount of money… Words: Matt Robinson. Photography: Chris Wallbank.

    Old School Rules

    We look back at one of Alpina’s ultimate executive expresses, the stunning E65 B7.

    Chris Bangle – a genius ahead of his time or the man who wreaked the most stylistic havoc on the BMW canon in the marque’s storied history? It’s a debate that continues to rage to this day, seven years after the controversial, bearded American left Munich for design pastures new. It’s an argument in which we’re not going to try and convince you one way or the other if your mind is already made up but we will at least pin our colours to the mast and say we think he was definitely onto something good with his work. His era of flame-surfaced BMWs remain classy and elegant today, with the subsequent models that followed not exuding quite the same crisp lines or distinctive appearance. For instance, the original Z4, with the pre-facelift round rear light clusters, could be argued to be the prettiest #BMW roadster of the lot.

    The E60/61 5 Series, in M Sport guise and on big wheels, can even to this day still elicit a ‘phwoar’ from us when it drifts past on a motorway. And the E63/64 6 Series? That’s surely Bangle’s finest hour… Perhaps his most controversial design, though, was the fourth-generation 7 Series, known as the E65 in short-wheelbase form and E66 as the stretched variant. It really was a shock to the system when it launched in 2001 with its ‘eyebrow’ front lights and a very, very American rear. However, it was dramatically face-lifted in 2005 into a model that was perhaps more widely acceptable, if a little less idiosyncratic. And it’s that post-facelift E65 that we’re looking at here, in its ultimate guise as the storming Alpina B7.

    Developed in the era when Buchloe went from a confusing mishmash of letters and numbers for its cars (C2? A1? B12?) to simply designating the letter ‘B’ and then the series number of the BMW it was based on, the mighty B7 took the then-biggest Munich V8 in the form of the 4.4-litre M62 and slapped a mechanically-driven radial supercharger onto the side of it to liberate massive numbers of 500hp and 516lb ft of torque.

    That compares well to the recently launched current B7, based on the sixth-gen G11 7 Series, which also has a forced induction 4.4-litre V8 – albeit a twin-turbo unit – rated at 608hp and 590lb ft, all for £115,000. It’ll do 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds and a top speed of 205mph, numbers that aren’t a huge step above the old 2006 model’s 4.9-second time and 187mph. And you can bag this particular example, in trademark Alpina ‘Dunkelsaphirblaumetallic’ paint, resplendent in side stripes and sitting on a 21-inch set of 20-spoke ‘cotton reels’, for less than half the price of the new car. It’s on sale at Kahn Design in Bradford, a specialist in rare exotica including Alpinas; it was here where we recently sampled the ultra-limited V8 Roadster based on the Z8. At the time of writing, Kahn actually has two B7s on the stock sheets: this 2006 car that began life in Japan that’s on sale for £49,995; and a left-hand drive pre-facelift model with a black interior up at £39,975. So, if you can stomach the challenging looks and sitting on the wrong side of the car, you could save even more cash on the older Alpina.

    However, it’s car No.111 out of a global build run of just 141 units that we think represents all that is good about the Bovensiepen family’s concern. There’s a lack of ostentatiousness (big lip spoiler on the bootlid notwithstanding) about this executive express that truly appeals. No quad exhausts, no overtly loud soundtrack on start-up – it’s just a cultured saloon car that happens to have a really, really potent engine.

    It’s also as close to a new one as you’ll get if you want an E65 B7. It has covered just 36,000km, or around 22,500 miles, and the bodywork looks pristine, free from rust and dings and generally in what you could accurately call showroom condition. The same goes for the interior, which is finished in cream and is free from rips, tears, squeaks and rattles. Everything works as it should, and there’s a lot of technology on the E65 that could go wrong, while the Alpina logo is present and correct on the dashboard trim, with Buchloe’s rhoms and roundels on the seats and the armrests on the doors. It’s a classic look for an Alpina.

    There’s nothing classic about the driving experience, though, because this is a modern enough performance car that still feels epically quick on the road. When the E65 B7 first appeared in 2004, the story went that while it was testing on the Nürburgring, it was going at such pace along the main straight that the E46 M3 CSLs, also undergoing factory shakedown, were receiving aerodynamic tows from the big barge to cut their lap times. Astonishing.

    And this example feels every bit as strong as that claim. The B7 burbles out of Bradford in an exquisite display of luxury limo comfort, the ride supple, the throttle beautifully judged and the V8 motor quiet and hushed. Bizarrely, the sat nav hasn’t been updated for European spec as yet, so the car thinks we’re in a prefecture of Japan, just outside Tokyo; such a cutting-edge place is a world away from the faded woollen mills and Victorian industrial buildings of this particular area of West Yorkshire.

    But then, as we emerge onto winding moorland roads, the chance to open the Alpina up presents itself and suddenly the absent-minded sheep ambling along the Tarmac are in very grave danger of becoming mutton, courtesy of a two-ton Bavarian missile. Wow, the 4.4 has absolutely monster pick-up. It’s connected to the six-speed Alpina Switchtronic transmission, which – during the city driving phase – is predicated to setting off in second gear, making the gearbox seem like a lazy, smooth five-speeder. But out here, with the throttle pushed to the bulkhead, the Switchtronic awakens, offering crisp downshifts out of bends and firing in the next ratio going up the transmission when accelerating rapidly along the straights.

    The B7’s rich, baritone voice is more pronounced, too, once the tacho gets past the 2500rpm point, but as this is an old school, torque-rich V8, there aren’t loads of revs to play with. No matter; make the best use of that 516lb ft midrange and the Alpina simply hurtles along. It’s incredible to think, when experiencing its military-grade firepower, that the B7 couldn’t usurp the iconic E34 B10 Biturbo (188mph) as the fastest Alpina of all time; it had to allow the E60-based B5 of 2005 that signal honour, the 195mph Five, of course, using precisely the same drivetrain as the B7.

    Also fitted to the Kahn Alpina is the optional Dynamic Drive active anti-roll system, which genuinely does allow the B7 to change direction with an alacrity that speaks more of the 3 Series, rather than a gigantic Seven. Shame, then, that the steering is rather too US-spec – light and lacking feel. It’s direct enough and the Alpina turns in keenly but if you’ve driven a lot of performance BMWs over the years this will feel like a woolly setup. You probably also won’t be using the Switchtronic plus and minus buttons, mounted on the back of the steering wheel, to change gear, because they’re not as intuitive as a good paddle-shift is nowadays and the six-speed autobox is fine left to its own devices in D.

    The rest of the Alpina B7’s dynamic make-up is excellent. Large 374mm front, 370mm rear discs lifted from the contemporary 7 Series do a fine job of hauling the saloon down from high speeds with little drama, while Buchloe also felt the standard suspension of the E65 was more than capable of dealing with the grunt of the supercharged engine. And for all those occasions when you can’t utilise the 4.4-litre’s massive reserves, then the doubleglazed windows and impressive aerodynamics make the B7 a near-silent cruiser. The only fly in the ointment is the early version of iDrive still fitted to the car, which does have the menu shortcut button, but which features the eight-way options click override. It’s nothing like as nice and simple to operate as BMW’s current software, but that’s the price you pay for a 500hp rarity like this.

    At almost £50,000, this is not a cheap example of the E65 7 Series; you could probably get yourself in a V12 760Li for less than half as much again. But, given Alpina sold just 11 of these E65 B7s in the UK during a three-year period, it is almost certainly an appreciating classic and the chance of getting behind the wheel of such a collector’s piece, that looks so stunning in this particular colour combination and which has clearly been very well looked after in its previous life, seems like too good an opportunity to miss. An utterly brilliant, super-scarce, 187mph super saloon for less than the price of a fully specified modern day hyper hatch? Seems like a no-brainer to us.

    CONTACT: Kahn Design / Tel: 01274 749999 / Web: www.kahndesign.com

    Suddenly the sheep ambling along the Tarmac are in very grave danger of becoming mutton, courtesy of a two-ton Bavarian missile.

    TECHNICAL DATA #2006 / #BMW-Alpina-B7-E65 / #Alpina-B7-E65 / #Alpina-B7 / #Alpina-E65 / #BMW-E65 / #BMW / #Alpina / #BMW-E65-Alpina / #BMW-7-Series / #BMW-7-Series-E65 / #BMW-7-Series-SWB / #BMW-7-Series-Alpina /

    ENGINE: #V8 , 32-valve, #supercharged
    CAPACITY: 4398cc
    TRANSMISSION: Six-speed #Alpina-Switch-Tronic / #ZF6HP
    MAX POWER: 500hp @ 5500rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 516lb ft @ 4250rpm
    0-62MPH: 4.9 seconds
    STANDING KM: 22.9 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 187mph
    ECONOMY: 22.1mpg
    CO2 EMISSIONS: 306g/km
    WEIGHT: 1960kg
    PRICE (new): £78,950 (2005)
    PRICE (today): For car 111 of 141: £49,995

    The B7 features a wonderfully opulent cabin with swathes of leather and alcantara along with Alpina’s trademark wood trim.
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