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    A6 3.0 TDI 850Nm and some amazing images

    Winter Warmer

    Performance Audi contributor, Jape Tiitinen, tells us about his stunning, 850Nm A6 3.0 #Bi-TDI – his daily driver during the harsh Finnish winter…

    A6 QUATTRO Stunning C7 with 850Nm

    For regular readers, our Finnish contributor, Jape Tiitinen needs no introduction. He’s an accomplished photographer, demon skate boarder (even at 43!) and a committed Audi fan, responsible for bringing us some of the most inspirational and exciting cars from all over Europe. When he’s not behind the lens (or busting some moves on his board), you’ll find Jape working on his cars.

    His real passion is a stunning RS4 B5, which we featured back in 2015 – a real labour of love that goes every well as bit as it looks. But for the daily grind, he runs something a little more sensible.

    “When I saw a C7 bi-turbo diesel for the first time I knew I had to get one someday,” says Jape. “I had only three mandatory requirements for the car: it had to be an S-line, in Daytona grey with full LEDs.” The big diesel A6 would serve as the perfect family car, swallow his full camera kit with ease, provide sure footed grip in the harsh Finnish winters, and not bankrupt him on fuel costs.

    “My friend Ville at texted me to say he’d found the car from East Germany, close to the Austrian border,” says Jape. “I didn’t see any pics of it (only an equipment list) but I was sold. It was almost fully loaded with HUD, ACC, NVC, Webasto, S-line in and out, air suspension etc.” The car was delivered to Jyväskylä in Finland where Jape collected it right before Christmas 2015. He wasted no time getting stuck into the upgrades.

    “I fitted some 21in RS6 C6 wheels with winter rubber to replace the originals that had summer tyres which are no good in Finnish winter,” says Jape. The following week he ordered an air suspension control module, to lower the ride height, and a sound module from

    “The air suspension module is super easy to use and takes only 5mins to install. You just plug the module into Audi’s own system and save different ride heights to the drive select.” The sound module allows the V6 to really open up and can also be saved differently in selected modes on drive select. It’s a very OEM solution and typical of Jape’s attention to detail.

    Next came some VCDS coding to personalise the car to his own tastes. “I deactivated the start-stop system, but this the button still works if I want it to. I also deactivated the rear wiper. It was really annoying that rear wiper went on every time I put the car in reverse if the windshield wipers are on mist.” Finally, he added the cool RS6-style needle sweep on start up and auto boot closing to work from inside the car and via the remote – very cool. “There’s a good link (http://tinyurl. com/hs39ypk) for all these and tons more upgrades on the forum,” says Jape.

    When it comes to wheels, Jape is a self-confessed addict. The A6 currently has three sets available. In the summer it runs either OEM RS6 C7 21s, or Rotiform 21in 3-piece forged ROCs. In the pics it’s on a set of winters – some RS6 C6 segments with studded Nokian tyres. To fit the 21in wheels, the arches had to be rolled and the camber adjusted, as well as skimming 2.5mm off the S6 discs.

    Lurking behind the rims you may spot a set of red calipers. Jape fitted a set of 8-pot S6 units complete with 400mm discs, with adapters. “These brakes give some serious stopping power. A big thank you goes to STRSolutions’ Sami for install,” says Jape.

    When it comes to performance the 3.0 Bi-TDI isn’t exactly lacking, but when your other car is a 600hp RS4, you need something a bit lively to keep things interesting. These units respond really well to remapping and Jape took his C7 to STR-Solutions and Petri at A headline figure of around 400hp is estimated along with 850Nm of torque – impressive numbers for sure. “The difference between stock 650Nm to current 850Nm is huge – the car pulls like a train, but it sure should with an extra 200Nm!” laughs Jape. “There’s no need for any more in winter,” he smiles. The A6 will be back to STR in the summer to see if they can extract even more power with some further upgrades.

    Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this A6 is the exterior – it looks fantastic. It helps that it’s Dayton grey of course, but Jape has refined it to create something with the presence of an RS6. The gloss black window surrounds, roof rails and door handle tops looks sweet, as does the RS-style front grille and black fog light surrounds. Even the larger oval exhaust tailpipes are black. With the badges removed and the front windows tinted to match the rears, it’s a very moody looking A6 – emphasized by Jape’s stunning images using light painting in the snow. It was minus 5 when he did it, so there’s dedication for you!

    The final upgrade was to put 2016 maps and firmware on the 3G MMI system. “It took me a good two days to upload all the data and transfer it in the system – I don’t want to do that again,” he laughs. This is one of those cars that on the face of it may not have many modifications, but the more you look, the more you see, and the overall effect is absolutely stunning. As Jape says, “With the RS4 sleeping for winter, this has been the perfect daily for me.” Of course, it’s still used during the rest of the year, but as winter transport goes, this has to be one of the finest around.

    TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATION #2012 / #Audi-A6-C7 / #Audi-A6-3.0-TDI-Quattro / #Audi-A6-3.0-TDI-Quattro / #Audi-A6-3.0-TDI-Quattro-C7 / #Audi / #Audi-A6-Avant-C7 / #Audi-A6-3.0-TDI-Quattro-Avant-C7 / #Audi-A6-3.0-TDI-Avant-C7 / #Audi-A6-3.0 / #Audi-A6-3.0-TDI-Avant-C7 / #Audi / #Quattro / Audi-A6 /

    Engine 3.0 #V6 #Bi-TDI with #STR-Solutions and Petri at #Erikoismoottori / .fi re-map

    Power 400hp and 850Nm

    Transmission 8-speed tiptronic

    Brakes 400mm S6 C7 discs with 8-pot S6 calipers in front, 365mm S6 rears

    Suspension Factory air suspension lowered with control module

    Wheels & Tyres OEM C7 RS6 9.5x21in ET25 with Continental 255/30 tyres, #Rotiform forged 3-piece ROC 10x21in ET35 with Continental 255/30 and winter OEM C6 RS6 9.5x20in ET36 (CB drilled to 66.6mm) with Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 255/35 studded tyres

    Interior Stock S-line sports seats in black Valcona leather, centre console wrapped in flat black. Head up display, 2016 maps and firmware on 3G MMI system

    Exterior RS6 style front grille, EZ front lip, ACC surroundings painted in gloss black, window trim and roof bars wrapped in gloss black, rear valance painted in gloss black, oval exhaust tips from, front and rear arches rolled, tinted front windows, semi-dynamic rear indicators, debadged

    Tuning contacts/thanks and IG @jap3 Japetiitinen

    Top: Fiinish plates are way cooler than ours. Fact.
    Left: Front end looks bang on the money.
    Left: Interior is nicely kitted out with options.
    Bottom: S6 brakes and RS6 C6 wheels.
    Above: Loving this front end shot.

    “The A6 pulls like a train, but it should with an extra 200Nm!”
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    Born 6 September #1928
    Died 12 September #2012
    From Liverpool / #Sid-Watkins / #F1 / #Formula-1

    Career highlights Professor of neurosurgery, Formula One medical delegate 1978-2005, co-founder of the Brain and Spine Foundation.

    Jackie Stewart may have started F1’s safety drive, but it was Sid Watkins who made it stick. He was also the only man to whom Bernie Ecclestone would always defer.

    Motorsport has always attracted entrepreneurs anxious to derive as much benefit as can be expected. There have been exceptions, such as Count Vincenzo Florio, who merely wanted to have a great race in Sicily and hang the expense. And, dare I say it, the private entrants seeking joy, danger and glory in exchange for whatever financial contribution can be summoned.

    Fortunately, there have also been gentlemen such as this month’s Hero, miraculously appearing on the scene dispensing much-needed services purely because they could, and wanting to improve a disastrous state of play for drivers unfortunate enough to need instant medical care. These are contributions donated for the love of the sport and care beyond pecuniary reason. Hippocratic oath-takers preferred.

    Born in 1928, the son of a Welsh coal miner, Eric Sidney Watkins soon found himself gainfully employed in his father’s new business when the family moved to Liverpool. Repairing cycles – then motor vehicles – gave Sid a grounding in hard work that stood him in good stead when he decided to attend medical school at Liverpool University. An MD by 1952, he spent four years in the Royal Army Medical Corps in Africa.

    His one and only competition appearance seems to have been in the 1955 West African Rally, which ended shortly after it began. Whether or not this whetted his appetite for motorsport is unknown, but by 1958 he was studying neurosurgery at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford – finding time to act as a race doctor at Silverstone and elsewhere.

    By 1962, he was Professor of Neurosurgery at the State University of New York, helping out at Watkins Glen for the US Grand Prix until he returned to the UK to become the Head of Neurosurgery at the London Hospital (now the Royal London) in 1970. That same year he was appointed to the RAC Medical Council to pronounce on suggestions for improvement at British race tracks. Sir Jackie Stewart’s fraught efforts to introduce higher levels of safety had begun to bite, not only with improvements to circuits but also the introduction of things such as Louis Stanley’s mobile medical unit, which was seen at European races from 1967.

    The Prof’s influence flourished in 1978, however, when Bernard Ecclestone asked him to head the F1 medical team. Ronnie Peterson’s first-lap accident in the Italian GP that year needed three drivers to pull him out of the flaming wreck, but as Sid arrived he was denied access to Ronnie by nervous police. Sid was monumentally upset and insisted Ecclestone provide a safety car and a Medivac helicopter on the spot.

    Thereafter, the Prof more or less dedicated himself to providing the very best service that he and his team, aided by Ecclestone, could provide. It didn’t take too long for FISA (alias the FIA) to realise that it needed a Medical Commission and the Prof became its first president in 1981.

    Sid had the daunting task of attending to Ayrton Senna at Imola in 1994. The two of them had formed a special relationship and Senna, ever dancing on the thinnest ice, counted on the Prof for philosophical advice. In 1995, after Mika Häkkinen’s accident at Adelaide, Sid had to perform, on site, a tricky windpipe cricothyroidotomy to keep the Finn alive.

    Among his myriad achievements is the fact that he refused to take no for an answer. With true Churchillian stubbornness, he KBO’d (Keep Buggering On) 24/7 to get the improvements he yearned for. His very presence at race tracks gave drivers a comforting assurance that, if anything horrible happened, at least they had the best man and his team on hand.

    Watkins was a reassuring presence in the paddock. His motorsport work was done alongside his day job as a neurosurgeon.
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    GENTLEMAN’S AGREEMENT ROAD WARRIOR – fearsome 426hp wide-body #BMW 335i doubles as a daily driver. Sensible is a relative term, as this wide-body 335i proves. Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Jape Tiitinen. Sometimes in life, you just have to be sensible. Although as Toni Kärkkäinen’s startling 335i proves, ‘sensible’ is a malleable term on a sliding scale…

    ‘Life,’ sang indie stalwarts Mansun in the 1990s, ‘is a series of compromises.’ You only get to live once, so do the things you love and make time to make yourself happy, but at the same time life is not a solo endeavour – if you’re playing it right, you’ll have other people involved; it could be the clichéd 2.4 kids, spouse and mortgage scenario, or it might be your online car buddies, or the dudes you hang out with in the lockup when you’re spannering your projects together. Whatever the situation, your decisions and choices are seldom informed solely by what will make you happy. It has to be what makes you and your network happy, reaching compromises, being accommodating to all. Living unselfishly is the key to fulfilment.

    Still, this doesn’t have to mean you can’t do the things you want to do. Take the 335i we’re looking at here – it screams many evocative verbs at you, but ‘compromise’ isn’t really one of them, is it? “This all began back in #2012 when our baby girl arrived on the scene,” explains owner Toni Kärkkäinen. “We had to change my girlfriend’s 1 Series for an E90 3 Series because the 1 Series was just too small. After that, I started thinking that I needed to upgrade my own car – to a newer model of course… Our E90 felt good to drive, so I started thinking about an E92 or E93 because I like two-door cars. I was looking at the M3 version, naturally, but I couldn’t afford it, and after some hard thinking I realised that the convertible E93 didn’t meet my needs as it didn’t have enough boot space, so the most sensible option was the E92 335i.”

    Yep, he did just use the word ‘sensible’ there, and he’s to be applauded for that. It takes some fortitude to convince yourself that such a decision can be explained rationally – although the inherent element of perceived compromise does, arguably, make the endeavour an easier sell. Let’s just skim over the fact that the real turning point in the decision-making process was when Toni saw Prior Design’s wide-body kit for the E92… We should point out at this point that Toni isn’t your average family man with a couple of BMWs on the drive, but is in fact CEO and owner of Schmiedmann Finland. This is a brand you may be familiar with; founded in Denmark in 1996, what began as an importer of BMW parts rapidly expanded across Scandinavia and beyond, the sale of new and used official parts being augmented by its own bespoke, Schmiedmann-branded products – exhausts systems, short-shift kits, manifolds, you name it. So there is a certain business case to be made for Toni to be doing such wild things to his own car…

    The man’s got form, too. His personal car history is, as you might imagine, studded with Bavarian greatness, from his E46 330Ci that he modded to M3 CSL specs with original parts (along with G-Power supercharger and three-colour leather retrim) to his old-skool E36 325i, he’s in his comfort zone when he’s doing this kind of stuff. A safe pair of hands.

    So, the 335i – how, and where? “I’ve always imported my cars into Finland, either personally or with someone else doing it for me, due to the fact that it all works out cheaper and you get better equipment, like leather and iDrive and so on,” Toni explains.

    “There were no reasonably-priced E92 335is in Finland at the time anyway, so I sourced this car from Germany – although it was originally from Italy. It was checked over by a trusted person from the Blauweiss import company and found to be in good overall condition. It was a basic car with basic wheels, nothing special, but that didn’t matter, as I knew that I’d be changing everything!”

    So, true to his word as well as his principles, Toni set about tearing the car down pretty much as soon as it arrived on Finnish soil. Time waits for no man, eh? A stack of parts started to build up as more and more of that uninspiring stock fare got unbolted and ditched, ready to swap out for inspirational upgrades. But then events took an unexpected turn…“When we did the test installation of the Prior Design wide-body kit, we realised that we’d have to do quite a lot more work than we’d originally anticipated to make it look as it should,” Toni recalls with a raised eyebrow. “The front bumper and wing alignment was off on both sides, and there were many other similar small issues to deal with.” None of this is insurmountable stuff however, and the fact that everything now sits so straight and true is testament to the tenacity and patience of the Schmiedmann crew. It was certainly worth putting in the extra hours.

    “Then – finally – came the day that the car was taken away to be painted. The decision about the colour was made a couple of days before – Matt Sparkling Graphite Metallic,” he remembers. “It was not an easy decision and I took a big risk, but it was totally worth it.” Again, though, this wasn’t all plain sailing. As amenable and eager-to-please as the 335i generally is, it has to be said that this particular one was fighting back.

    “After I got the car back to the workshop, I noticed some issues with the paint,” Toni sighs. “There were too many small imperfections all around the car, so it needed to be repainted. The matt colour is not easy to paint, because all the smallest little particles are visible under the surface and you just can’t polish them away. The front bumper was repainted three or four times, the rear bumper and bonnet twice, and so on. But after I was finally happy with the painting, I started to put the car back together. Quite soon I realised that I had to get some 1M and M3 parts to get the body looking the way I wanted, like inner wheelhouse covers, brake ducts and so on – yes, of course I should have known to get these parts earlier, but I was so excited to get car done and ready for the Bimmerparty show! Overall, the build was not as straightforward as I thought it would be, but I did manage to get the car ready two days before my deadline and won the first Show ’n’ Shine prize at Bimmerparty…”

    You’ll also be pleased to learn that the boisterous aesthetics are not the whole story. While the stock 335i is no slouch, Toni’s spruced things up in the underbonnet area with a pair of uprated Schmiedmann Stage 1 turbos, working in conjunction with the firm’s proprietary downpipes, a huge Wagner Tuning intercooler, Burger Motorsport filters and the guiding hand of custom management; it’s now putting out 426hp, which is pretty rowdy. The drivetrain’s been beefed up to suit, with a Quaife LSD and diff cooling plate, although Toni admits that this has crept back on to the to-do list. “I’m looking at clutch options,” he says, “as 455lb ft of torque is having some effects!”

    He’s also talking about revamping the interior, although we’re big fans of how it is so far – the Coral red Dakota leather is outstanding. What a poke in the eye to the perceived wisdom that seats should be black or grey! This factory-option hide is so bright it makes other things in the world a few shades less red simply by existing. And what’s even more fun inside the car is that Toni’s seen fit to install an Awron Performance display system; this is an awesome all-in-one digital gauge that fits inside one of the air vents, relaying information about boost, torque, speed, acceleration, temperatures, all sorts. It’s like playing Gran Turismo for real.

    The most important element of the story is that Toni’s stayed true to the original compromise, if we can still even dare to use that loaded term, as while countless hours have been expended on getting the aesthetics just-so and the performance enough to make the surface of the asphalt tremble with apprehension, it’s still a car that he can ferry the family about in without any trouble. “Oh yes, it gets used daily, even throughout the winter,” he nods. “We use it for our big summer family holiday trips too, which often causes amusing reactions.

    People often ask how we use it so often with it being so low or how we manage to fit the whole family in there, but we do!” All of this, combined with the fact that the car seems to always be winning prizes at shows across Europe, proves that Toni has done something right. Compromise isn’t a dirty word. As this build conclusively demonstrates, it’s just another milestone along the road to project car success. Your car, your rules – if it’s right for you, then that’s just about as right as it needs to be.

    Oh yes, it certainly gets used daily. We use it for our family holiday trips too.
    Custom front lip and M4-style angel eye halos up front, Schmiedmann exhaust at the back.

    Vibrant Coral red interior enhanced by #BMW-Performance steering wheel, gear knob and handbrake, Schmiedmann pedals and Awron vent-mounted digital display.

    DATA FILE #Schmiedmann / #BMW-E92 / #BMW-335i / #BMW-335i-E92 / #BMW / #BMW-335i-Schmiedmann-E92 / #BMW-335i-Schmiedmann /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six twin-turbo #N54B30 / #N54 / #BMW-N54 , #Schmiedmann-Stage-1-turbos , Schmiedmann downpipes, #Wagner-Tuning-EVO-2-Competition intercooler, #Burger-Motorsport DCI air filters, #AJ-Tech custom DME software, Schmiedmann rear sport silencers with high-gloss black pipes, six-speed manual, Quaife LSD and differential cooling plate.

    CHASSIS 9.5x19” ET0 (front) and 11x19” ET-5 (rear) #BC-Racing-HB29 / #BC-Racing wheels in matt bronze with 225/35 (front) and 285/30 (rear) tyres, #Lowtec H9.4R coilovers, M3 front wishbones and radius rods, M3 rear subframe bushings, #Zimmerman drilled brake discs with EBC RedStuff pads.

    EXTERIOR Matt Sparkling Graphite Metallic, Prior Design PD-M1 wide-body aerodynamic kit, custom front spoiler lip, Schmiedmann EVO bonnet, Schmiedmann EVO II bootlid, LCI face-lift tinted rear lights, tinted headlights inside and out, M4-style angel eye rings, tinted M3 side repeaters.

    INTERIOR Full leather Coral red Dakota interior, Schmiedmann Exclusive red floor mats, Schmiedmann Exclusive black/red alloy pedal set, BMW LED interior light upgrade, BMW Performance steering wheel with display, BMW Performance gear knob and Kinetic short-shift system, #BMW Performance handbrake handle, Awron Performance display.

    THANKS Special thanks to my girlfriend of course and everybody who has helped me with this car.
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    CARBON COLLECTIVE / #VW-Typ-5G / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk7 / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen-Golf-VII / #VW-Golf-VII / #VW-Golf-Mk7 / #VW-Golf / #VW / #Volkswagen

    What you’re looking at here was one of the most talked about cars at this year’s Wörthersee that wasn’t an Audi R8. But you’ll have to get pretty close to really see why… Words Matt Zollo. Pictures Igor Vucinic.

    Smoke and mirrors. It’s a beginning-of season tactic that Andy Pfeffer has put into practice to great effect on many occasions over the years, all to maximise the impact of his latest creation when he finally wheels it into the breach of an expectant scene on the ever-earlier first day of that show by the lake.

    Most of you will be able to recall ‘his’ Riviera blue Mk6s, both affectionately known as Dixie (actually, one was owned by his brother-in-law and the other was his mate Hakan Koc’s). The first was a tin top GTI with full R imitation and 20-inch Ultraleggeras, which came on to the scene in #2012 , and the next was the – shrouded in secrecy until the day before it was revealed at Wörthersee 2013 – almost identical 1.2 FSI cab version.

    The various reveals of this Mk7 have seen the smoke and mirrors tactics used on an even more comprehensive, and consequently successful, level. After showing the car with a Martini-style wrap, Gepfeffert’s own KWs and 20-inch OZ rims at Wörthersee Reloaded in 2013, Andy told everyone that he had sold the car and replaced it with a Mk7 R. He hadn’t, of course, instead turning up with the GTI sporting such an authentic R replication (along with some 20-inch Ferrari rims) that he had absolutely everyone fooled. No mean feat considering the expertise of the collective that was duped.

    Later in #2014 the car was pictured on Facebook sat on a trailer, apparently going off to a new owner. But, as you might have guessed, this was nothing but a ruse. Instead, Andy had shipped the car off to his friend Arpi (of RS Tuning fame) in Hungary...

    It takes a lot to surprise a close knit group of car enthusiasts, particularly in this liking, sharing, commenting and following day and age of social media, so to be able to genuinely do so come that first public outing of the year is quite the valuable tool to have in a car owner’s arsenal – particularly when the car being exhibited is tasked with advertising the owner’s business, as Andy’s is. For demo cars it’s all about making a scene on the scene, and maximising the attention they get is of paramount importance – and not just for the good of a business but, let’s be honest here, also the owner’s ego.

    Well, Andy’s ego must still be bulging large even as you read this because, as you’ll already know if you went to ‘The Lake’ this year, his car was pretty much the talking point of the event. That is undoubtedly because of the carbon fibre which adorns it. And when we say adorns, what we really mean is envelopes, like a (nice) parasite that has (pleasantly) infected its host to such an extent that it has taken over its body and now calls the place its home.

    Arpi and Zsolt, of and, had covered a Mk3 VR6 in carbon years ago, so they had some previous experience with this kind of undertaking. Even so, it wasn’t ever going to be the work of a moment, the car eventually staying with them for six months. Literally every external component that didn’t have to flex or be seen through has been covered (except for those red mirror caps and grille slat details), even down to the internals of the headlights.

    “We’ve made a huge amount of carbon parts for different cars, a lot of carbon fronts (hood, bumper, fender), but this is only our second full carbon car,” Zsolt tells us. “Carbon covering requires a lot of patience and very detailed work. A full carbon car needs approximately two months of solid work.

    “The most difficult and the least enjoyable part is to really pay attention during the covering to the carbon direction, to make the chassis and edges with the least cutting or, when it’s possible, without any cutting. Detail is very important on these cars, so it must be perfect down to the last centimetres as well. It needs a lot of time!” All of you who saw the car for yourselves at the show will know that the result of Arpi and Zsolt’s patience and attention to detail is nothing short of stunning.

    All other bodywork mods – the Mücke front wings that provide an additional 25mm of clearance (the rears remain standard, just copious amounts of camber achieving the required clearance), the cleaned bootlid and bonnet and the removal of the VW emblems – had been carried out for the previous iteration of the car, so there was little else to do to the outside. Save for the rims, of course...

    They are one-offs, made by Wheelworkx and based on OEM Q7 BBS Speedlines. A substantial change in construction has seen them transformed from two-piece to three-piece, with half-inch negative outer lips and custom dishes narrowing the 10x20 ET44 wheels to an 8.5x20 ET70 fitment. With the centres painted BBS gold crackle finish and the lips polished for the timehonoured, classic motorsport look, details like the BBS logos sandblasted into the outer rims finish them off.

    The inside has seen its fair share of carbon laminated into its surface area too, though these add up to mere details rather than the main event; dash inlays, the seat backs of the Recaro buckets and the Wiechers roll-cage are all covered in the glossy grey weave, just as they were in the car’s previous guise.

    As with all of Andy’s cars, the brakes are what is known – technically speaking – as ‘whopping’. Previous setups have been: 400mm A8 W12 discs with C63 six-pots on the Dixie GTI; 390mm RS6 discs, again with AMG six-pots, on the Dixie cab; those 390mm RS6 discs again, this time clamped by 997 GT3 calipers on the Martini Mk7. The latter combination has been retained for this iteration of the car as well, with the same rear setup consisting of 356mm Audi RS6 discs and Porsche Panamera fourpots. Of course, all editions of Pfeffer Golf have featured his company’s own modified KWs, along with a hydraulic lift system, and this version is no different.

    It may not be an actual R, but it has the performance to match the R facade thanks to a remap by HGR, an HJS downpipe and a F-Town Streetmachines system with Golf R-style quad pipe outlet. All of which Andy says is good for 309bhp. The DSG has also been remapped by HGR for faster shifts.

    The really observant amongst you might have noticed something specific about this car by now. That is, if Andy so wished, he could return it to stock without much effort at all – it would just be a case of swapping over the relatively uncomplicated aftermarket parts for their stock counterparts. He has always followed this ethos with his cars, evidenced in practices such as using adjustable camber plates rather than pulling arches out.

    Perhaps the most intriguing thing about this car, however, and indeed all the best cars that appear at the start of a new show season, is where the owner can go next. It’s certainly going to take something pretty damn special to trump this Mk7. It goes without saying we really can’t wait to see what that something is, and what it is that Andy has done to it. Just as it goes without saying, of course, that we didn’t even bother asking him for clues to either…

    Andy was a carpenter before he got involved in cars professionally. Modifying them in his spare time, it soon became apparent that he could make a living from it, and thus he started in a small workshop at his parents’ place. In just a few years the company had grown big enough for him to relocate into a bigger, better-equipped workshop, and now Gepfeffert is a well known brand not only in Germany but also in Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, the UK and many more countries besides.

    Dub Details / #Volkswagen-Golf-2.0TSI-VII /

    ENGINE: 2.0 TSI , Golf 7 R engine cover, remapped by #HGR , #HJS downpipe, exhaust by #F-Town Streetmachines with Golf R-style quad tail pipes, #DSG remapped by HGR for faster gear change

    CHASSIS: #KW / #KW-V3-Clubsport coilovers with adjustable camber mounts and #HLS for 3cm lift, 390mm Audi RS6 discs with six-pot 997 GT3 calipers up front and 356mm Audi RS6 discs with four-pot Porsche Panamera calipers at the rear, adapters and custom handbrake by #Vandit-Performance , steel brake lines, custom Audi Q7 BBS Speedline rims modified from two-piece 10x20 ET44 to 8.5x20 ET70 three-piece fitment, centres painted in BBS gold crackle finish, BBS logo sandblasted in outer lip, 18mm front and 15mm rear 5x115 to 5x130 adapters, Nankang 215/30/20 tyres

    EXTERIOR: #3Mücke-GFK front wings, VW badges removed, bonnet smoothed, custom grille, Golf 7 R body kit with front and rear bumpers and side skirts, smoothened bootlid, complete car coated in carbon fibre done by

    INTERIOR: Carbon fibre dash inlays, carbonbacked Recaros custom trimmed with R logos, Wiechers carbon-covered roll-cage, rear seat bench removed, BBS spare wheel, original Discover Pro Navigation with Dynaudio audio system and DVD

    SHOUT: Simon Stracker, Jacko, Andy (Sehrgeijfährlich), Steve Danzer, Bernd Seiler at Vandit Performance, Stephan at F-Town, Autolackiererei Sitter Andreas, Arpi at, AVP-Gruppe Roman Müller, my wife Tanja and daughter Amelie Pfeffer

    Carbon-coated bodywork took two solid months of hard graft by the guys at RS Tuning in Hungary and is a work of art. It’s hard to believe this car is running static suspension, although the #KW HLS hydraulic lift kit up front enables Andy to take it on all roads, even those with speed bumps. A crazy car that is totally usable. This is the future…

    Interior is pretty low-key on first impression but look closer and you’ll see a whole host of carbon goodies!
    One-off wheels are based on 20” Q7 #BBS / Speedlines narrowed to 8.5” and converted from two- to three-piece.
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    The Dark Knight #BMW E63 M6 / #BMW-E63 / #BMW-M6-E63 / #BMW-M6 / #BMW / #2012 / #BMW-6-Series / #BMW-6-Series-E63

    Matt Jones enjoys M6 ownership, but 6mpg and a maximum range of 125 miles is the trade off for 560bhp. The E63 M6 isn’t a car we tend to see at Total BMW, but Matt Jones uses his one as a daily driver and a quarter mile tool. In the midst of a recession, how does 6 mpg sound and 125 miles to a tank?

    The E63 M6 is a hugely underrated performance car. With 500bhp from a V10 that sounds like very little else on God's good earth, it has performance on the fringes of a Supercar level, to go with a sharp rear-drive chassis and a sometimes brutal semi-auto seven-speeder. Yet it has all the buttons and gadgets one could hope for and, with the M programme left dormant, is happy to mooch the city strassen or cruise the autobahn in refined comfort.

    Sure the E60 M5 has all that too. but it’s a confused soul - an out-and-out performance car character at odds with its laid back executive saloon remit. Besides, the M5 looks like any other 5-Series and. while that certainly is not without appeal, sometimes you want to turn heads and induce jealous thoughts.

    The M6, however, has the body style and more tightly-defined Sports GT remit to carry off the harsh SMG shifts and top-endy power delivery. It looks low. sleek and purposeful, weighs a good chunk less and has - childish yelp of glee - a carbon-fibre roof. Controversial maybe, but to these eyes the M6 is actually the better resolved package.

    Of course that's not to say it can’t be improved upon, as this matte black beasty very ably demonstrates. Owned by 31-year-old Matt Jones, serial modifier and previous owner of a PY E46 M3 Vert that had been given the CSL treatment, this car is a shining example of how to do an M6 right. So we're very lucky that Matt is incapable of resisting his urges...

    "Like the M3 I had specced this one exactly how I wanted and hadn't planned to modify it. It was so fast out of the box and had all the toys," he explains. "But literally the day I got it I went round to show my brother and the first thing he said was that it was too quiet! I said it'd be fine - but three weeks later I'd ordered the Eisenmann exhaust!" And that's how it started.

    Matt refers to aftermarket parts for the M6 as being subject to an M Tax', so to get round that he does his shopping in the US. "I went on holiday to America and had a load of stuff delivered to where I was staying, so I could then take it back as luggage. I had two suitcases full, one with engine bits and another with the H&R springs. I thought that if I got caught and had to pay the duty I’d still be up. But I got away with it and saved a fortune!"

    Clearly Matt wanted to release the M6's performance potential before anything else, and the combination of Evosport headers. Supersprint centre section and Eisenmann back-boxes. the suitcase purchases (RPI pulleys, induction scoops, block plates and oil-cooler, and BMC filters) and an E-maps remap established that potential to be 560bhp.

    He regularly enjoys every one of those horses, often going on trips abroad, having done the Cannonball run a few times, and taken it to Santa Pod. “The first time there it won its class, for muscle cars, as it had over eight cylinders." recalls Matt. "It went up against stripped-out, supercharged cars, whose owners were all playing around under the bonnet. I just turned up. turned the stereo off and went for it! ” Matt says it’ll do low-12s all day long. And 206mph. though we didn't dare ask where he confirmed such a number.

    This kind of performance does have its downsides, however. "The only thing I don't like is the range. The fuel tank is smaller than a normal 6-Series' because of the quad exhausts, and with fuel consumption of about 6-8mpg on a cruise (we'd hope a fast one, at least) I don’t get any more than 125 miles from a tank! I had 2mpg out of it once at Santa Pod." Ouch.

    Only when the performance was well and truly there did Matt turn his attentions to the car’s, then Silverstone Blue II. aesthetics. Carbon or black details gradually made their way onto the car, like the Vorsteiner carbon front spoiler (from America), rear diffuser (made by Matt himself) and those massive 20-inch three-piece splits. You can guess where they came from...

    “They’re made by a Florida company who are big on the Corvette scene, called Modular Concept. I had them custom- made and shipped over, and they’re the only ones in the UK”. To confirm their uniqueness, Matt then had them done with Silverstone centres and pin-stripes.

    With the theme of Silverstone Blue and either black or carbon, eventually the only chrome left was the tips of the four Eisenmann pipes. A trip to BCP Industrial Coatings had them finished in a heat- resistant matte black, and it was job done. Well, almost. “I drove the car around like that for about a year-and-a-half. It was a similar story to the M3 I got it exactly how I wanted it and then just enjoyed it for a while. However the time came when I started to think about replacements, but I couldn't find anything as quick for the same money." Plan B, then.

    "I’d looked at wrapping before, but at the time the cost was really high and the quality not quite there. Then prices came down and quality improved. The wrap was done by Totally Dynamic. The quality is amazing and since then four cars in my family have been wrapped by them!" Obviously the Silverstone Blue on the wheels then looked out of place, so Matt took them apart and sent them off to be gloss blacked.

    There was a change of tyre fitment, too. "It used to have stretched tyres but that didn't look right because it wasn't quite low enough to pull the look off, ' says Matt. "I've gone for a squarer setup now to give it a beefier look, and it does drive a lot nicer as a result - although I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I went from Falkens to Continentals.
    Saying that. I was rolling on the standard wheels recently and it drove a hundred times better again... it just doesn’t look as good!"

    The result of this all-black theme means some very obvious parallels being drawn - by everybody.

    “Everyone instantly started calling it the Batmobile when the wrap was done.’’ remembers Matt. "That’s the one comment I get all the time - people come up to me and say "That looks like the Batmobile!". I've had a lot of modded cars, but this is the most attention I’ve ever got from one: it gets a bit ridiculous sometimes!"

    One thing that Matt still isn't entirely convinced about is the smoked rear clusters, but it isn’t about their looks per se. "At night they look amazing, with just the four bars shining through, and they do suit the overall look. But it's the whole smoked light image.’’ Matt says they’ll be staying for now, but it sounds like the car won't be hanging around much longer anyway.

    "I’m looking at replacements again. I like the new M6. I've been up against a new MS and that walked my car, so the M6 is going to be ridiculous. But they've moved it up a price bracket and £110k for a well specced one is a lot of money for a BMW." Other options? A 911 GT3 is too extreme for the kind of use it'll get. And a 911 is a bit small for Matt's liking anyway, which rules out a Turbo. An Aston DB9 or Vantage is just too slow, as is a V8 R8, and V10 prices are a little steep. The only obvious choice is a Nissan GTR. which is what he's leaning towards - but still not entirely convinced about.

    "The thing I love about the M6 is that it's nice and quiet when you're cruising about, but then you press the M button and it’s crazy," is how Man sums it up. And there's the rub: when you have such an excellent car that does so much so well, finding a replacement is very difficult indeed. We don’t envy Matt and his predicament m the slightest, we really don't.

    Matt's M6 benefits from Evosport manifolds, and a blend of Supersprint and Eisenmann for the middle and rear sections.

    Above right: Modular Concept 5 three-piece wheels are 9j at the front and 11.5j out back-the latter calls for a 325 section tyre.

    ENGINE #S85 / #BMW-S85 4,999cc #V10 / #BMW-V10 , #RPI under-drive pulleys, RPI ram air induction scoops (custom finished in black with logos removed), #BMC air filters in OEM air boxes (with custom carbon covers), RPI block-off plates, RPI oil- cooler (30% more efficient) finished in black, #E-maps custom remap with speed limiter removed, #Evosport headers, #Supersprint centre-section and #Eisenmann Race back-boxes (powder-coated satin black)

    TRANSMISSION Standard seven-speed SMG gearbox, software upgraded to suit engine map

    SUSPENSION H&R Race springs. OEM electronic dampening remapped to suit H&R springs, Eibach 12mm spacers all-round

    BRAKES Standard with uprated pads

    WHEELS & TYRES Custom gloss black Modular Concept 5 three-piece split-rims in 9x20 (3.5-inch lip) front and 11.5x20 (5.5-Inch lip) rear fitment, with 285/35/20 front and 325/30/20 rear Continental Sport Contact 4s

    BODY Full matte black wrap including door shuts, treated with Swissvax opaque wax, #Vorsteiner carbon front splitter with weave to match roof, custom rear carbon diffuser panel, matte black kidney grilles, side grilles wrapped gloss black, gloss black rear M6 badge, matte black Audi R8 V10 badges on side windows, short rear number plate, rear lights tinted with smoked film, headlights tinted with light smoke Laminex film, angle eye upgrade with 6,000k bulbs

    INTERIOR Standard Silverstone extended leather. OEM iPod interface with custom ashtray- mounted holder, carbon trim. Logic 7 stereo

    THANKS Scott at Totally Dynamic in Enfield for the wrap (0208 2161116), Claude. Ben and the team at Bosch Auto Services in Hitchin (01462 459459). Kevin at BCP Industrial Coatings in Hitchin for the powder-coating (01462 440 804). Andy at Pristine Coachworks for the wheels, and M6board. com and

    Top right: Smoked lights are an undecided addition - the jury is still out on these.

    Above right: Modular Concept 5 three-piece wheels are 9j at the front and 11.5j out back-the latter calls tor a 325 section tyre.

    Top far left: Fuel stops are regular, with 125 miles to a lank being commonplace.
    Right: BMC air filters live inside the standard air boxes and the V10 has been remapped by E-maps.
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    OWNED #2012 / #2016 / #VAG

    This is how they do things Down Under; get the lowdown on Stuart French’s immaculate home-grown, road/race Mk1.

    It’s refreshing to feature a car 100% built by its owner; and Stuart French is about as hardcore a Mk1 fan as you’re ever going to meet… Words: Tony Saggu. Photos: Andrew & Bernard Gueit (Hybrid Imaging).

    Almost everything about owning and modding a Dub, or any other car for that matter, is a learning experience. Even before you press yourself into the driver’s seat and wrap your hot little hands around the wheel for the first time, there’s been an education in researching the specs, tracking down the perfect example, the subtle art of the deal… and the rest of it. There are plenty of mistakes to be made and lessons to be learned; surfing the learning curve, navigating the maze and picking up the pointers is half the hobby. Weird as it may sound, making the mistakes and learning from them is probably one of the most rewarding parts of turning a bucket of bolts into a track terror or classy cruiser. Buy a finished car and you’ve cheated yourself out of the essence of owning it, the journey can be way cooler than the destination.

    “I can honestly say that the entire car is my own work…” declared Mk1-mad Australian serial Dub modder Stuart French proudly, “…from paint to powertrain and everything in between. I genuinely believe that’s what makes a project ‘special’ on another level. Slaving your ass off over a car every weekend and pouring most of your wages into it is a great way to ensure you respect the final product!” Stuart’s built not bought bad-boy is a lesson in balancing form and function in the perfect package and, as far as “respect” goes, it’s certainly got ours – in spades!

    Stuart’s trip to the top began unassumingly enough, at the controls of a plain Jane four-door Mk3 Golf. The car was basic in every sense of the word; Stuart had attempted to add a few frills, but his teenage student budget didn’t stretch too far, keeping the jam jar barely above beater status. A little too much exuberance with the right foot one evening coupled with relative inexperience behind the wheel, saw the Mk3 pirouette gracefully, all be it out of control, across a slippery street into the arms of a waiting lamp post. “It was a pretty fullon accident,” recalled Stuart, “the car was totally smashed but thankfully no one was hurt.” After such a frightening finale to his daily driver, you might have expected the lad to search for something a touch safer and slower for his replacement transport. The insurance cheque found its way to a safer substitute; but slower? Not so much… “The money went straight into a SEAT Ibiza Cupra Sport 16v – the only car that came with an ABF 16v in Australia; we never got Mk3 GTIs here,” explained Stuart. “I’d always wanted a 16v after reading about them in Drive-My and on forums, and once I got my own, I got a bit carried away. I ended up modifying the ABF pretty heavily, with big cams, ITBs etc. It sounded epic and I was hooked.”

    While the Cupra had the right engine room resident, Stuart was soon searching for something with a little more retro class; a 16v Mk1 Golf seemed the natural choice. “I’ve had two Mk1 16vs before this one,” Stuart told us. “One I built from scratch and the other I bought already built just to thrash on weekends. I’ve had over ten other Mk1s all told, all four-door which got broken up for parts, which is all four-doors are good for anyway, right?”

    The current project is something of a blending of the two prior 16v Golfs to grace Stuart’s driveway and it’s a show ’n’ go machine that will beat the competition at the shows and then blow their doors off on the way back. “I had the race theme in my head for ages,” explained Stuart. “The only thing missing was a good base car to start a new project on. I wanted a completely clean slate to totally scratch-build my dream racer.” The Australian old-skool VW scene may not be huge, but it’s a close-knit community and the word soon spread that Stuart was searching for a shell to start on. “In South Hobart, Tasmania, there’s an old-skool VW guy, Ed Conacher, who was always the go-to guy for VW parts,” Stuart told us. “He had a heap of Mk1 shells at his house and he actually gave me my first Mk1 rolling shell nearly ten years ago. Well prior to picking this first one up all those years ago, I noticed a part-restored two-door shell with a nice roll-cage welded in. I’d asked to buy it off Ed a few times over the years, but he was adamant that he’d finish building it and wouldn’t sell it to me.”

    Stuart’s not-for-sale story has an all too familiar ring to it, we’ve seen the plot played out all too often. “Eventually I heard on the grapevine that Ed had actually sold the shell to an old friend of his and that this guy, too, had given up on the build.” So Stuart swooped in, cash in hand. “I knew I had to buy it and didn’t care how much it cost,” he recalled. “It was, and is, almost impossible to find a good Mk1 two-door in Australia, especially one with a proper roll-cage already installed.”

    Just over 900 quid in Canadian dollars bought what Stuart admits was an undeniable POS. The ’75 vintage two-door had deteriorated quite a lot since Stuart had first spied it over a decade earlier. “The shed the bloke kept it in was damp and dilapidated,” he explained. “The car was covered in dirt, rust and wall-to wall-bird shit. There’d been heavy panels and stuff stored on the roof which had created some nice dents, I knew these would be hard to fix properly.” A peek underneath didn’t reveal any better news: “He’d also dropped it on an axle stand, which had punched a hole clean through the sill. To make matters even worse, though, both captive nuts for the lower control arms had broken free and stripped; anyone who knows their Mk1s will be aware that this is a very fiddly job to repair.” Despite the carnage Stuart wasn’t complaining. He hoisted the heap onto a trailer and headed home.

    Having picked up and perfected a catalogue of skills grappling with his first Mk1 project, Stuart was determined tackle all the tasks on the new car himself. “I always work with the notion that if anyone else can learn to do something as a professional, I can teach it to myself with patience and practice, and do it just as well,” he explained. The paint and bodywork alone swallowed up over a year’s worth of evenings and weekends, although Stuart admits his perfectionist streak may have added a month or two to the build time. The caged shell would be stripped back to the shiny stuff before any refinish work could start in earnest. The plan was always to finish the whole shell in a simple untinted pure white so a clean unblemished base was essential. “I started in the engine bay as I wanted this to be smooth and clean,” revealed Stuart, “but not with ridiculous panels welded in. I removed the rain and battery tray as well as all the brackets but I was very particular about maintaining the standard lines. I hate those Mk1s where there are sheets of metal welded over the original lines. That just robs the classic character of the car, which is the whole point of building an old car!”

    Next up was the cabin, where countless hours were invested in smoothing the floors. Knowing full well that he’d be dispensing with the carpet, each footwell and the entire rear interior floor was relieved of its dents and lightly skimmed in filler, before being sanded to glassy smooth perfection. “I still don’t like wearing shoes when I drive it,” Stuart laughed, remembering how long it took him to smooth it all out! Thankfully the outer body was quite straight, with the exception of the rear panel; the original swallow-tail rear had been hacked up for bigger late model lights.

    “I really regret not replacing this panel with a new one before painting it,” lamented Stuart. “It took me about 150 hours to repair the cut and beaten rear panel with fibreglass reinforcement and filler; all the while I was cursing the guy who cut it in the first place. Looking at it now, you’d never know the shell is really a 1975 model, but I can’t help thinking it’s a swallow-tail that’s lost its mojo.”

    The underbody and wheel arches didn’t surrender without a fight either; both areas were taken back to bare metal, repaired and treated with anti-rust sealant and resealed in pure white stone-proof coating. The first paint job on the car suffered from dust contamination, and the cold Tasmanian winter played havoc with the air-dry process. “I had to strip it all back down to metal and re-do the entire thing. It’s one of those jobs where you hate life while you’re doing it, but you just have to remember that any problems will always piss you off in the long-term if they’re not fixed in the first place,” explained Stuart.

    Of course, this car is so much more than just perfect panels and a pretty paint job; it’s the screaming 16-valve under the bonnet that completes Stuart’s story. Initially the nearstock ABF engine from his first Mk1 was stripped down and rebuilt into a Bahn Brennerequipped turbo powerhouse. “I went through a lot of hoops to get that setup going: wiring, software… only to find wheelspin and turbo lag weren’t what I wanted in a Mk1,” Stuart told us. “So after months of work I progressively sold off the turbo parts, with the intention of going back to N/A, where I believe the 16v belongs.”

    The torque-laden turbo setup had bags of power but Stuart felt it was almost too civilised, lacking the high-revving raw boots and braces edge his road racer theme demanded. “I remembered reading about a Mk1 in Germany with a serious 2.0 16v installed that revved to 10,000 rpm,” recalled Stuart. “That was precisely what the project needed, but there are no good engine builders in Australia for proper watercooled VW stuff, so I knew I’d have to look in Europe. I spent hours searching for old F2 or similar-spec’d 16vs and eventually came across a strippeddown, full-house Van Kronenburg short motor on the Berg Cup classifieds. After weeks of frigging around with shipping and import problems, I bought all the parts, including the empty block. This was a pretty big gamble, too, as I didn’t know the seller and had to take his word for the condition of the parts.”

    Fortunately the Dutch connection was a man of his word; after months of nail biting the goods arrived and Stuart reports that most of the parts were brand-new and came with receipts for all the machining work. All that had to be done was a quick re-bore job, as our man was intending to run bigger pistons, and a final buttoning up of the block. “The whole lot was assembled on the garage floor and matched with a custom Bosch Motorsport piggy-backed ECU which I sourced through work,” Stuart explained. Working as a corporate suit for Bosch obviously has its perks! “The throttle body kit is specifically designed for the ABF by dBilas, so I’ve had to retain all the standard sensors, as well as source some side-feed injectors to fit the stock ABF rail, also Bosch items,” Stuart continued. “They were originally designed for a JDM Nissan but they work a treat.” The entire powerplant is a mix of some pretty unique parts, including some aggressive solid lifter cams made by dBilas and other rare oneoffs, all produced in Holland at a massive original expense. “One of the big expenses with building an old VW in Australia is the freight cost associated with importing parts from Europe and the USA. Since starting this car, I’ve spent over $10,000 on freight and import taxes alone,” Stuart reveals.

    In an attempt to get the best balance between looks and genuine driveability, Stuart splashed out on two sets of wheels: “The PLSs are mainly for looks, though I did like the challenge of making 9x16s fit under a Mk1. I also have some 8x14s HTN Rennsports with Avon cut slicks that go on the car for track days and hillclimbs.” The ride height is “sensible” according to Stuart.

    Despite attracting a fair few critics for not being set on its sills, our man is sticking to his guns: “Why the hell spend a fortune on high-end suspension components if the car is going to run on its bump stops? As we all know, Mk1s have very limited wheel travel as it is.” The stance brigade may be content rolling low and slow, but with upwards of 260bhp on tap and barely 800kg to move, Stuart isn’t about to ease off the loud pedal of his handmade hot rod: “I built it as street legal race car, and that’s how it gets driven!” Watch the film for proof.

    DUB TECHNICAL DATA FILE DETAILS #VW-Golf-I / #VW-Golf-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Rabbit / #Volkswagen-Rabbit-I / #VW / #VW-Golf

    ENGINE: SEAT Ibiza #F2-ABF 2.0 16v base engine, custom #Mahle 83.5mm 12.5:1 forged pistons, total swept volume: 2032cc, custom knife-edged and balanced billet crankshaft, Sauger gated wet sump, Lentz 159mm further lightened con rods, fully balanced assembly, ARP and Raceware hardware throughout, dBilas Dynamic head reworked with Ferrea valves (34.5 and 28.0mm) and ultra-light solid lifter kit with titanium retainers and springs, #dBilas-Dynamic 316in./304ex. deg. solid camshafts, dBilas Dynamic ABF-specific ITB kit with cast alloy air box and cold air feed, K-tech carbon fibre rocker cover, Piggybacked #Bosch-Motorsport & #Siemens ECUs, match-ported Eurosport headers, Schrick Gruppe A 2.5” stainless steel exhaust with single Powersprint s/s muffler, 02A/J gearbox with SQS six-speed gearset and Peloquin LSD, CAE Race Shifter with extra-tall shift lever, AP twin-plate clutch assembly, ultra-light 228mm billet flywheel.

    Power: 267bhp @ 8435rpm (9200rpm hard cut) at the flywheel.

    CHASSIS: Show wheels: PLS Evolution rims: 8x16” #ET22 front and 9x16” ET15 rear with Hankook K107 195/40/16 and 215/35/16 tyres. Race wheels: 14x8” #HTN-Rennsport-ET22 with Avon slicks, 1975 Mk1 Golf LS (Australian-built model, ex swallow-tail), 12- point chromoly integrated roll-cage, KW stainless coilovers with adjustable top mounts, #KW-ARB kit with custom rateadjustable rear outer mounts, solid-bushed rear axle – polybushes at all other points, #PMW ball joint extenders, PMW bump-steer elimination kit with modified spindles, seamwelded control arms with modified rear mounts, Eurosport four-point subframe at front, BFI front crossmember support, Wilwood Ultralite four-pot front brake kit with 256mm discs, Mk3 rear disc conversion, 24mm master cylinder and Cupra servo, rebuilt Autocavan brake linkage, Scirocco 16v handbrake cables, custom Goodridge full-length braided lines with on-the-fly bias adjustment.

    OUTSIDE: Full inside-out bare metal restoration, resprayed in DuPont pure white with clear coat, seam-welded throughout, rolled and pulled wheel arches, de-badged tailgate, smoothed front apron and sills, rear panel modified for big tail lamps, deleted rain tray and smoothed engine bay, carbon rear wheel arch spats, carbon bumpers, carbon GTI splitter, tinted crystal tail lamps and front indicators, crystal crosshair headlamps.

    INSIDE: SEAT Cupra 16v dashboard and instruments, 996 911 GT3 RS carbon seats retrimmed in red leather, carbon door trim, interior handle set and various other carbon details, OMP Corsica steering wheel, smoothed and painted floorpans, VDO white-faced gauges.

    SHOUT: Michael Koordt at K-Tech, Gerjan Stroeve at Stroeve Motorsport, my girlfriend Lauren for letting me work on the car whenever, my mum for donating her garage whenever I needed it, all the team at Autocraft – especially Matty Porter, my late friends, Lo and John Zwollo.
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    THE #BMW-F10 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW-M5-F10 / #BMW /

    Nothing to much to report on the M5 this month. It is inching ever closer to the end of its Service Inclusive pack at 60,000 miles and is performing beautifully. As winter weather sets in a bit more, I am as always grateful for the fantastic heated seats and sure-footed winter tyres. On dark wet mornings the amazingly bright adaptive headlights are a real boon, allowing me to see further ahead than the lights on any car I have ever driven. The wipers are excellent, too. Very rarely do they ever smear or fail to provide excellent vision. Despite all of this excellence, I find myself ready for a change and I’m increasingly looking at alternatives to the M5.

    As I have said previously, though, the problem is finding something that is as capable, comfortable and usable. There are numerous choices out there that are quicker but few that are anything like as comfortable or that one would be happy to leave in a car park for long periods of time. Equally, few cars have a level of tech that comes close to the M5. My wife has just taken delivery of a new MINI JCW. It has all the tech that I have on the M5, in a fantastically small package. Trying to find a non-BMW premium product that has great dynamic navigation, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity and a DAB radio is harder than you might think.

    Only the latest models on the market can offer these things and those that have the performance of the M5 are well over £100k. So I face the difficult but not unpleasant task of trying to find a replacement that can truly live up to the M5. I am left with the conclusion that there will have to be a compromise somewhere. That one has to lose some desirable facet of the M5’s make-up to replace it is a testament to the fact that it really is the ultimate all-rounder.

    THE F10 M5
    YEAR: #2012
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 58,965
    MPG THIS MONTH: 21.0
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    LONGTERMERS #BMW F30 320d Sport / #2016

    Another roundup of life with the BMW Car fleet…

    Lots to get through this month, so let’s crack on. First up was a return visit to PhilServe in Carterton ( as I’d noticed a rust line around the inner circumference of the outside of the rear discs, if that makes sense (see the picture above to see what I’m talking about). Essentially it looks like the new pads are not in contact with the inner portion of the disc, which I thought would be an issue from a braking performance perspective (and hence a Very Bad Thing given the recent weather) and it looks plug ugly, too. However Ollie from PhilServe had a look and declared it normal.

    The theory goes that the discs are worn, hence the new pads will take time to adhere to the discs in terms of the wear pattern being reflected in the pads. To be fair this does sound reasonable, even if at the time of writing I’ve covered 1500 miles since the pads were swapped and there’s no sign as yet of the rust clearing (well, maybe a little very recently). It’s only surface rust, easily removed with some light rubbing and hence the disc isn’t being damaged, but nevertheless it will require careful monitoring to ensure it doesn’t worsen. And if it doesn’t clear at all by March I’ll need to pay for new discs (and new pads again too, I suppose) as otherwise I daresay BMW will send an invoice for replacements when the car goes back, but we’ll get to that later…

    Interesting fact learned here though. When discussing with Ollie on how to accelerate the ‘healing’ process, we both basically agreed that more enthusiastic driving leading to increased application of the traction control (which operates on the rear wheels of course) was needed. Sounded logical. Cue a colleague in the office at this point, something of a BMW geek, who helpfully piped up that swiftly reducing the cruise control from a high-ish cruise (providing nobody is behind you of course) has the effect of applying only the rear brakes, as the cruise doesn’t use the fronts to nip away at the speed.
    So we tried it; accelerate to 70mph then quickly flick the cruise down to 20mph. It feels as if the car has whipped past an angler, his line has then attached itself to the rear bumper and the largest fishing rod you can imagine is reducing our gait to such an extent that you’re both flung forward and sucked back into your seat at the same time, the car essentially getting dragged back to a slower velocity. It’s an odd feeling, and I can’t imagine it does much for the suspension wear, but as it clearly only operates the rear brakes and those are the ones which we need to bed-in quickly, it was worth a go.

    No, it hasn’t completely fixed it at the time of writing, but hey ho we will keep doing this and hopefully within a week or so the pads would have worn down enough at the leading edge (i.e the outer edge of the disc) for the whole thing to then be in contact with the metal surface. So more on that in due course, along with news of replacement front pads which will soon be needed, plus an oil change service. I’m hoping the sheer amount of work the front brakes have to do will ensure they sort themselves out in short order.

    I mentioned a North Wales trip last month in a demo 520d Luxury, and other than the weather, which was truly biblical (thankfully clearing just enough on the Sunday morning to allow me to get the Phantom 3 up in the skies above Betws-y-Coed), the other highlight of the weekend was in cementing my admiration of the F10 5 Series. It just does so much, so well. It has a snug interior and the eight-speed auto provides seamless acceleration resulting in the placebo effect of it feeling faster than the 320d manual.

    Let’s just overlook the fact that the two-litre motor looks almost apologetic in that vast engine bay. It is a handsome beast to look at and was truly comfortable over the course of several hundred long miles through the pouring rain. I just had to have one. So that’s the decision made. An order has already been placed for a Mediterranean blue 520d auto, with Venetian beige interior and black carpets and, all being well, come late March 2016 I’ll be swapping out of KP12 and into the F10. Truth be told, as I think I’ve said before, I should have bought one back in 2013. All good things etc.

    Why not the Jaguar XE I mentioned last month? Two key reasons. First off, pedantry alert – the cup-holder smacks of penny pinching and for whatever reason I really took exception to this. Plus the absence of a cover means that all manner of detritus will gradually accumulate within the recesses and that idea didn’t appeal at all. And second, considering the BMW and the Jaguar share the same ZF eight-speed auto, I was surprised at their different manners. The BMW calibration resulted in smooth and seamless upshifts but I groaned a little at the Jag’s which would mark each change with a distinct ‘step’ in the power delivery. It gives a car character on a test-drive, but over the course of a couple of years’ worth of ownership I suspect it would just become damn annoying.

    Hence, ultimately, the Jag was ruled out. Although it was a tough decision. And a quick thanks here to the guys at Ridgeway Jaguar in Oxford (01865 565411) who were never anything less than friendly and approachable. Mercedes-Benz dealers, take note. So, what have we bought then? Well, there’s no easy way to say this – it’s a £43k 520d, and that price set against that engine choice has caused some mirth amongst friends and family. I could have bought a used Gran Coupé, or an F10 M5. Or a yacht etc. And they’re right, too. And in the case of the M5 I did briefly consider it.

    Then I looked at David’s monthly reports, reminded myself that petrol is not that much cheaper than diesel, and thought again. On a PCP deal, and with a good deposit contribution from BMW (to the tune of £4k) plus a little from ourselves, and a further reduction in order to try and sell more units before the end of the year, the monthly cash flow situation wasn’t impacted too much from having the new car, even at £43k. Introduce an M5 into the equation, though, and the cash flow forecasts take a hammering, and never mind RFL and insurance costs. Plus there’s an indeterminable something about specifying your own car. Hence the decision was made to stay derv.

    £43,000 is a lot of money for a two-litre diesel. It does includes over £8.5k of options by way of compensation though (and in lieu of a larger engine option), as I wanted a nice spec this time around. So, here we go. First option box ticked: the Pro nav pack for £1290. This I’ve always admired in modern BMWs and the bigger screen, new-style larger controller and speedy response of the current version is deeply impressive. Next up, adaptive lights. The demo car didn’t have these, and I suspect those who haven’t driven a car with them fitted would respond to a nighttime drive of the demo car with a ‘yep, those lights are fine I don’t need to spend £540 on fancy ones’.

    Whereas those who have (i.e me) would respond with ‘crikey, these lights are awful. Why are they not dancing along the road surface like somebody off Strictly?’. Ergo, adaptive lights with headlight assist has also been selected.

    Sports seats were next, as whilst the standard pews are comfortable enough, the sports items locate you just that little bit lower. Plus the extra thigh support is welcome, and they look good. As indeed they should for £475. Ambient lighting is absent on the SE so that was ticked for £220, plus initially the sports steering wheel at £110. This was later dropped, however, when it became clear that said wheel had just become the standard fitting (and on mine it will include paddle shifters as part of the upgraded £1685 sports auto option however incongruous paddles will look on a 20d). Electric rear and manual side blinds were also selected at £410 (to stop the hoi polloi from prying, but also in preference to privacy glass, which our daughter complains makes the rear of KP12 too dark, and she’s old enough now to lower the blinds on her own), as was Anthracite Wood at £355. An upgraded BMW-branded hi-fi at around £445 is substituted for the more expensive Harman Kardon option, which I couldn’t quite countenance having sampled the standard system. A little more power is always welcome, though, hence the upgraded system. Oh and we’ve also gone for LED foglights at £175 plus the upgraded air-con with extended features, if for no other reason that it results in several more buttons on the dashboard (and I really like my buttons). I know, I know, a frippery at £305 but there it is. Another frippery is the heated steering wheel, which is good value I thought at £185, especially this time of year. We’ve also specified the Speed limit display function at £250, as the demo car had it (a cunning ploy) and during the North Wales trip I found myself using it fairly often.

    As for the other options, but specifically regarding the technology, we’ve got the reverse camera at £375, surround view at £530 and the Active Security Package for a swallow-hard-and- pay-up £1340. This offers up the ‘Driving Assistant’, consisting of collision mitigation, which is essentially front-pointing cameras which activate the brakes if they deem you’re about to collect the car in front or mow down a pedestrian, plus lane guidance lines, which used to be standard on higher-spec E60s back in the day (my 535d had it as standard back in 2007, for example. Nowadays it’s optional).

    The package also includes Lane Change Warning, which is basically a blind spot monitor. Thus equipped, the F10 will blink at you madly from the inner door mirrors if it detects a car in the blind spot and one attempts to change lane. All very 21st century. Oh and the aforementioned Active Security Package also includes powerfold door mirrors; a nice touch. We’d actually initiated optioned the Advanced Parking Package, which includes the cameras plus Park Assist. But the latter only works when you parallel park, and I cannot remember the last time I had to do that. So a package switch was effected. And that was going to be it. The sales contract was signed and the deposit paid. And then I thought, as bizarre as it sounds, there’s something missing from the spec. BMW’s Head Up Display is a fascinating piece of technology and really adds to the driving experience.

    It was specified on the E60 535d we had in 2007 (OY57VUN in case the owner is out there) and I was aware of the fact that when I sold that car in late 2009, I subsequently didn’t really miss the HUD. That said, I’ve constantly used the HUD on all BMWs thus equipped which I’ve driven since, and it dawned on me that HUD plus the already specified tech would be a nice combination. Plus it would mean three extra buttons in total to the right of the steering column, which the child in me found immensely appealing. The fourth and fifth buttons of course would be Night Vision (which I would never have, as I fail to see the point) and radar-guided cruise, which I find to be pessimistic in the extreme and hence capable of winding me up in very short order. No, the only other option I wanted was the HUD.

    But at £995 it would really take the budget, such as it was by this point, and tear it up. Plus I was aware that BMW had signed and sealed the deal quickly, confirming a build date of early January and hence the time available to make changes was short. In 2007 we procrastinated for too long before deciding that we actually did want to have a sunroof only to be told it was too late and the spec was now final.

    So for once, indecision didn’t reign. The call was made and HUD was added, and the instant I said include it, I knew it was the right thing to do. It adds not only to the driving experience but also the resale value, and really completes the ‘new age’ tech that the car will have. So, there you go. I now have a long-ish wait until March when we will take delivery. And to say I’m a tad excited is a massive understatement.

    All this means, of course, that KP12 has to be prepared for its return to BMW. Which means the roof now has to be repaired plus the wheel needs to be refurbed. I’ve also noticed this month that something has taken a chunk out of a piece of trim on the lower offside front edge down by the foglight housing. I doubt this is classed as ‘wear and tear’ so I will get it replaced. More on that and a final write-up in the coming months.

    TECHNICAL DATA / #BMW-F30 / #BMW-320d-Sport / #BMW-320d-Sport-F30 / #BMW-320d-F30 /

    YEAR: #2012
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 51420
    MPG THIS MONTH: 46.6
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    F10 M5

    The month started off well with a trip to Goodwood, for the ‘BahnStormers event, which is one of the Goodwood Breakfast club events. I had chosen to leave the summer tyres on until after this, as the bigger wheels are more aesthetically pleasing on the M5. The mild temperatures through October had also negated the need for the winter rubber.

    When the day of the Goodwood meeting arrived, the weather, while warm, was wet and foggy. I had a slow but pleasant early morning drive over to Goodwood, and was one of the first to arrive. I had an enjoyable morning while ogling the tasty machinery turning up. There were some beautiful BMWs there among some more exotic items. My personal favourite was an #Alpina-B12 #BMW-8-Series – a very special looking weapon. I’ve visited a number of these breakfast club meetings, and have been lucky enough to be able gain a paddock car pass a few times. It’s always nice as a petrolhead to be surrounded by fellow enthusiasts, and these Sunday breakfasts always bring out some special cars, if you haven’t already been to one, I’d strongly recommend getting along to one next year.

    Before heading over to Goodwood, I had the car valeted, and the engine bay cleaned up at the same time. It was noticed that there was a lot of grunge on the front of the oil filter. However as the whole underbonnet area was filthy, it was difficult to identify if this was a particular problem, or just a place where dirt catches. However when the car was in having its winter wheels and tyres fitted, I asked the technician to have a look, just in case. Luckily, the ‘add one litre of oil’ request came on just as I was arriving at the dealership. With 58k on the clock, this could be my last free top up of oil, as the service inclusive pack runs out at 60,000. The tyres were swapped over, the oil added, and the car cleaned and returned within an hour.

    Dick Lovett BMW Swindon has been undergoing refurbishment for sometime now. I can’t wait for the new showroom to open, as while the facilities are adequate, a portacabin and a used car showroom are not up to BMW’s usual standards, and as a result, after about half an hour of hanging around, I was bored. The service team had looked at the oil filter and couldn’t see problem, but they cleaned it again, and I will pop in before the service pack runs out to see if it needs to be replaced. The small amount of muck on it in the picture had accrued in around 48hrs.

    With winter weather now here, the switch to winter tyres seemed sensible, with the reduction in traction balanced by the better grip in the cold and on muddy roads. It still takes me a while to adjust my driving style to the different balance of the car on the skinnier rubber, and I have seen the traction control light flashing more than usual this month. Also needed this month was some extra screen wash, so five litres of BlueCol’s finest was also added.

    I still haven’t managed to have the old Tyre repaired, but did get round to taking a picture of the offending nail. Now with the car winterised again, I look forward to colder months with confidence, but equally cant wait for the spring to come, so that I can use more of the performance again.

    Tech data #BMW-M5-F10 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW-F10 / #BMW
    YEAR: #2012
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 58,501
    MPG THIS MONTH: 23.87
    COST THIS MONTH: £33 (screen wash and winter tyre swap)
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    LONGTERMERS F30 #320d Sport / #BMW-F30 / #BMW-320d-F30 / #BMW-F30 / #BMW-320d /

    I finally managed to find some time to get KP12 serviced this month. As mentioned previously, I’ve been using the service in order to locate local garages, and a few minutes specifying our requirements into the site resulted in a quote coming through via email the following morning. Fast forward a week or so, and Carterton Auto Repair (aka PhilServe, both at hoisted the F30 onto one of its ramps in order to complete the replacement of the rear brake pads. £83 and around 40 minutes was all it took, and whilst the guys did the work I had the use of a warm and comfy lounge area, plus hot coffee should I need it and fast (free) wireless. And the attention of a friendly office spaniel… Can’t ask for more.

    They were even able to reset the service indicator/message on the iDrive, although now that I think about it they didn’t enter an actual note into the service history within the iDrive itself. An oil service and front pads replacement will soon be needed, so will be arranging that with PhilServe over the next month or so and will ask at that point with regards to the service history entries. Excellent, friendly service otherwise though, I highly recommend them. Interestingly, a colleague in work whose X3 is also due for replacement rear pads (at 33k miles, not the 49k or so at which the Three’s were done; I suppose that’s the extra weight of the X3 making itself known?) had a quote from #BMW and the same job came in at £240! So if you’re out of warranty and/or aren’t fixated with main dealer provenance, you know what to do.

    This month has been interesting for other reasons though. I’ve rambled on for months now about replacing KP12 but efforts in this area have been slightly more concentrated recently, although as per normal with me this was more by accident than by design.

    A check of the paperwork for the car confirmed that April next year is the point where it can be returned to BMW. I’ve always known this, but a subsequent conversation with North Oxford BMW (, 01865 319000) informed me that the F10 Five Series of which I’ve always been interested in (truth be told, I probably should have bought one back in 2013), has approximately a 12 week lead time, even now with a replacement imminent. So if I wanted to buy one, I’d need to be ordering around mid-January to ensure mid- April delivery. Factor in it was mid- November when I realised this, but also that most weekends between then and Christmas were booked up with various family visits and/or shopping trips, and it quickly became clear that we needed to get a wiggle on and seriously figure out what we were to do next.

    I’d been mulling over new versus used options seemingly ad nauseum. In the former group, the F10 has always been a contender, but the latter group extended to quite a list, including such tasty morsels as the F01 Seven, E60 M5, Six Series Gran Coupé and elsewhere, Range Rovers and even in particularly weak moments, Maserati Quattroportes. But that new car appeal was strong, and the pull of being able to spec our own car too strong to ignore.

    This is where comes into the picture via a recommendation from a colleague at my office. Now if you’ve not heard of this site I’d advise caution if you suffer even slightly through indecision or OCD. There’s nothing particularly new about carwow as a concept (you punch into the site the car and/or budget and/or specification you are looking at, and dealers who are affiliated with the site then email you their best quotes from all over the country), but as is so often the case, one only finds out about other offerings in a space (such as Broadspeed, but we’ll come to that in detail in a moment) once you start talking to people about the overall need. Ergo, I mentioned carwow to a few people during conversations around replacing KP12 and Broadspeed then came up as another (similar) offering. But two weeks ago, I’d heard of neither company. What’s the point of relaying this? Well I’ll tell you. I ended up requesting quotes for a Land Rover Discovery Sport, a Mercedes E-Class, a Volkswagen Golf R, an Alfa Giulietta, a Lexus IS200t, an Audi S3 Saloon and a Jaguar XE. Oh and a Maserati Ghibli too, in sacrilegious diesel spec.

    Roughly £35k in terms of price except the Maserati which is in the class above, and all automatics of one form or another as I’ve had my fill of manuals. Remember, the idea here is that the dealers respond via the site with their best offers. Also remember that I was doing this towards the end of the year, when the world and his wife in car sales would flog his dog if he thought it would improve his sales figures, and you can appreciate that I quickly received loads of quotes, requiring review, comparison and some form of response (in my opinion). Why no BMWs you ask? They’re not offered on carwow (but are instead available via Broadspeed, hence I needed to talk with another company offering basically the same service, resulting in more emails etc), and having dealt with the concept, I can understand why. I have nothing against car-wow as a service, in fact it helped me enormously as will become clear, but I do wonder how it will affect the industry. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves; back to those quotes.

    Land Rover replied with the square root of nowt. Hardly a disaster as one of the desires for the new steed is a little more poke than I currently have (we’ll come back to this). The VW people were very friendly but ultimately discounted when we had a proper look at the Golf and confirmed it was simply too small for our needs.

    Ditto the Audi. Pity really as both are 300hp AWD pocket-rockets which have the ability to scamper across country in an impressive manner. The Maser quote was actually reasonable given the £48k RRP but the APR was double that of everybody else and hence refused without too much heartache as I will not line bankers’ pockets to that degree. The Alfa was also discounted, again on size (the model I was looking at was the topspec 237hp Quadrifoglio Verde with the same engine as in the 4C sports car and by ‘eck it looks good) so this left the Mercedes-Benz, the Jaguar and the Lexus (Toyota JP). I’d gotten to the point of having a test drive arranged in the Lexus, but then I saw one on a dank and miserable day in Oxford, and it looked awful. None of the lines seemed to go anywhere in particular, but worse was to come when I pointed it out to my wife. The face she pulled said it all, so a quick email to the dealer in question when we returned home knocked that on the head. By this time, I’d been back into North Oxford BMW and explained I’d been looking at these other cars, making it clear I was moving forward. And I also mentioned a Broadspeed quote which claimed around £6k off the list price, but we’ll come back to that. North Oxford duly responded with a quote for my chosen spec and this came in £50 over budget per month on a PCP scheme.

    At this point, things got interesting. Carwow pinged me an email from a Jaguar dealer up north which was offering £3.5k off the price of an XE Portfolio in automatic spec and with metallic paint (which were the parameters I had entered into the site for that particular model).

    So I took that quote into my local Jaguar dealer, and this is where the workings of carwow become worthy of discussion. Essentially, the quote from the other dealer exposed the overall profit margin if the various options available to the dealer were put into the one car (unit bonus, loyalty bonus and so on). Presenting that to my local dealer forced them into either accepting it as a bona fide selling price or sending me to the other dealer. When it became clear we weren’t just tyre-kicking every car in the showroom, the business manager in charge quickly agreed to match the quote and we moved forward, brushing aside in one fell swoop the usual selling Shangri La we all have to endure when buying cars. We had a quote on the table which was bang on budget and a clear basis to continue. Before we get into the merits of XE versus Five Series though, a quick mention here on the E-Class. Now I have tried to love Mercs in recent years, but I cannot quite get my head into that space. This isn’t helped by the dealers, most of which seem to have an attitude I cannot quite fathom. They are not aloof, but at the same time they do not engage like BMW dealers (and incidentally, Lexus dealers are lovely people, as indeed are Jaguar dealers and BMW salesman too) and they do not engender a good feeling when talking to them about what is, for most people, the second biggest purchase in their lives after their house. But the carwow service was talking about an eight grand reduction on the £40k list price for an E250 AMG Night Edition, hence I had to look into it.

    Long story short, the car wasn’t available. By the time I got to actually talk to the dealer a few days later, it became clear that the current E-Class was no longer available for factory order (it’s being replaced next year) and the £8k reduction was on a stock car only. This didn’t sit well with me, as the details in carwow clearly made it plain I wanted a factory order for April delivery. So not only do they not engage, it would appear most of them can’t read either. This may sound harsh but I do feel their dealings with me were a tad disingenuous at best. Hence the conversations stopped there and even though I’ve said this before, I really do suspect that I won’t be going back into any Mercedes dealers any time soon, possibly ever.

    Anyway, back to the discussions with the Jaguar salesmen. A test drive was organised and duly taken. Sharp of steering, snug interior, albeit with a terribly cheap cup-holder for which somebody in the design department appears to have forgotten to design a cover, plenty of poke from the (Ford sourced, and all the better for it) 237hp blown petrol four-pot up front (even though it does look somewhat lost in an engine bay which has clearly been engineered to accept something an awful lot bigger) and a road manner redolent of the F30.

    In short, I loved it. A return visit resulted in me being given the keys for the afternoon and sent on my way sans salesman to try the car on roads I knew well, which was a good sales technique. As is sending us home with the leather sampler in order to mull over our colour choices (check out the picture on the previous page – it’s actually an impressive sight, requires care-to-handle and weighs a fair bit, too…). I really cannot praise Ridgeway Jaguar at Oxford enough – affable and genial and very easy to talk to. And tellingly, none of them have ever worked at Mercedes…

    BMW responded at this point, agreeing to reduce the monthly payment by enough to give me a decision to make. So at the time of writing, I am undecided as I’ve driven one (the XE) but not the other as yet. Yes I’ve driven F10s for the magazine but it’s somehow different when you’re signing away one’s own hardearned.

    The Jaguar has this wonderful sense of occasion and driving it at night instils a feeling of well-being which is palpable. Blue phosphorous lighting combines with high sides, clear instrumentation and a faithful chassis beneath you to foster an environment in which one feels able to drive until the tank runs dry or one runs out of country. It really is a brilliant piece of engineering and goes very well. But compared to the F10… Well, that’s the debate currently raging in my mind at the time of writing in late November. I don’t need to tell you how good the F10 is if you own one.

    What I would say is this. If I bought the Jaguar, I wonder whether it would leave me suspecting I’d gone for the understudy, even though the BMW is down on power and hence fails to tick the performance box I alluded to earlier. Its allure is that strong. This is the question I have to answer before deciding what to do. The decision basically comes down to sticking with what I know and trust (and love) and having the Five Series, or breaking out into something new. BMW is loaning us a 520d Luxury for a long weekend in North Wales and one way or another that will tell the tale. If the Jaguar is still in my thoughts at the end of that round trip, I will know what to do.

    By the time you read this, the final decision will have been made and an order will have been placed, so more on that plus what it’s like to live with an F10 over the course of a few hundred miles through wet and windy Wales next month.

    And what of that Broadspeed quote at £6k less than list? At the time of writing, a little over a week after first sending them the spec, the PCP quote has yet to materialise. It is working with BMW dealers, of course, but one wonders quite how seriously the latter take the queries from Broadspeed if nothing is returned after a week of chasing. Offering massive discounts is all very well, but if you’re unable to back that up with an actual BMW quote then it’s all a bit academic in my view. Mark Williams

    TECH FILE #BMW-F30 / #BMW-320d-Sport-F30 /
    YEAR: #2012
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 51005
    MPG THIS MONTH: 46.6
    COST THIS MONTH: £83 (front pads

    The Jaguar XE isn’t the only car Mark’s been looking at – he’s also pretty keen on the 520d – although he’s ideally after a bit more power than the #BMW offers.

    Mark’s had fun with the Jaguar on-line configurator and has also been checking out the various leathers available for the car. Find out next month if he orders one… or not!
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