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    (NOT) GROWING UP Beautiful blue bagged E92 320d

    Deciding it’s time to grow up and stop modifying a car is easy, but actually doing it is much harder… Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Simon Ward

    There comes a time, we suppose, in all our lives when we will start thinking that maybe, just maybe, it’s time to stop modifying cars and start putting money away, sensibly, for the inevitable arrival of The Future and spending what spare money we have left on more grown-up interests, such as old whisky and expensive wax jackets or hand-crafted ethnic fair trade furniture. Perhaps that’s already happened, perhaps you’re sipping an 18-year-old single malt while wearing an expensive jacket, sitting on a chair made from Sheesham hardwood. What’s Sheesham? Exactly…

    Or perhaps it’s already crossed your mind while you were out shopping for your new car, or when you decided to spend three months’ wages on a new set of wheels, but you’ve not managed to commit yet. You can’t quit the grip of modding and you keep telling yourself that you’ll start being sensible any day now, but there’s just time for one last big score…

    That’s where Will Drayson found himself about four years ago, but we’ll let him tell his tale: “I’ve dreamed of owning a BMW since I first passed my test – something has always drawn me towards them. This was my first BMW; at the time I had just been promoted and began working in Sheffield. I had a modified Mk4 Golf and wanted something a bit smarter. I tried to be sensible and choose something with good economy as I was commuting about 300 miles a week. I went for the E92 320d as I loved how it looked and knew the running costs wouldn’t be an issue. It seemed like the perfect car for me.

    “I travelled to Leicester to get it. I’ve always been a bit OCD with my cars and paintwork and I’d spoken to the seller on the phone and told him that if it wasn’t perfect then not to waste my time, but if it was as good as he’d said I’d pay the full asking price. True to his word it was immaculate and when I pulled up to view it, before I even started the engine, I knew I wanted it. I was so happy when I bought it, I’ll never forget that day.

    “I originally told myself it was time to grow up, save money and take a break from the modifying scene… and then within four days had already painted the wheels a dark anthracite and ordered some coilovers. I couldn’t help myself – to me, modifying my cars is an expression of who I am. I don’t think it’ll ever be anything I can leave alone.”

    Will is most definitely a serial modifier and looking back through his case history it’s clear that nothing short of an intervention will be able to kerb his habit. After leaving school and starting work as a joiner, he modified his Astra work van. This was followed by a modified and financially crippling SEAT Leon Cupra R and then the slightly more sensible Golf GT TDi. This leads us neatly on to the 320d, the car that would not be modified, except is now probably more modified than all of the others put together. If we were mean, we’d go for a slow hand clap, but we’re sympathetic so we’ll opt for a consoling pat on the back instead. Not that Will needs consoling because his decision to go to town on his E92 means he’s ended up with a spectacular machine that turns heads wherever it goes.

    The reason for all that attention is simple: it looks absolutely spectacular. Will’s done a first rate job on the styling but what really sets it all off is that custom paint; it’s a gloriously bold blue, solid and striking and completely custom, conjured up by the mind of Will himself. We happen to know the ingredients that went into this unique blend but if we told you, we’d have to kill you, and then Will would probably come and kill us, so we won’t. All we can tell you is that it was created in a bit of a mad scientist moment of mixing, a Willy Wonka-esque colour mixing adventure with Will having no earthly way of knowing in which direction he was going, and when the smoke had cleared and it was all over, he’d conjured up his perfect shade of blue.

    But a blue E92 alone isn’t enough to stand out from the crowd. It needed to be sprayed over a body that’s deserving of all that love and attention: “I wanted quite an aggressive look while avoiding the M3 bumper/replica route,” he explains. “With it being a 320d the last thing I wanted was to ‘pretend’ it was an M3.” He’s certainly done a grand job of making his E92 look suitably aggressive without following the crowd. Will has smoothed the front bumper, removed the headlight washer jets, smoothed the bonnet, added NEM angel eyes with tinted internals along with tinted rear lights and then he’s gone to town on the carbon. There are carbon kidney grilles, front splitter, mirror covers that he skinned himself, Ericsson bootlid and a rear diffuser, which has been embellished with a pair of 335i tailpipes.

    Naturally, all that visual drama needed the right wheels and this too was an area where Will was keen not to blend in with everyone else and he wasn’t afraid of going off-piste in order to give his E92 a unique look: “The first set of wheels I put on were some Bentley Continental 19s,” he says. “I’d seen them a lot in the VAG scene and wanted to break the mould with the BMW scene. I’ve always liked how the VAG scene is about thinking outside-the-box, while on all the BMW forums everyone was just buying CSL replicas and it was bland in honesty. All modified Threes looked similar. I wanted to take a different route. Everyone told me it wouldn’t work and would look terrible but I hit up G23 Engineering for some adapters and put the Bentley wheels on and people’s minds were soon changed!

    “The car looked great – I miss that look to be fair. I ran them for a couple of years until I fancied a change and that’s when I spotted these concave Rotiform BLQs for sale with the exact same width and offsets as the Bentley wheels. They would be a straight fit onto my existing adaptors without any extra work so I thought it was a no brainer really!” Indeed, no brain was required for this decision as the BLQ is a great looking wheel, the concave profile really suiting the E92 styling and the black centres are the perfect match for the carbon elements scattered across the exterior.

    The perfect wheels need the perfect suspension setup and while Will’s first efforts were static, air was always an inevitability. “Originally I bought some D2 coilovers but they lasted about a year until they collapsed and went to an oily grave,” he says. “I then went with BC Racing coilovers, which were brilliant. I’d wanted air during that time but couldn’t afford it. I ran the BCs for about a year until I finally caved and went with the new #Air-Lift 3H kit. A friend of mine, Vick Nagi, mentioned I could be a guinea pig for the new kit through his company, Lowpro, so I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a kit as a test vehicle before the official release!” The 3H has been treated to a sexy floating boot install, comprising a single tank and twin compressors, complete with lighting and finished in satin grey to match his wheel lips.

    With the 320d having been purchased for its economy, Will has decided to leave the engine alone, bar the addition of a K&N panel filter and covering the air intake panel in carbon himself. “Even when I got to the point that I decided it was a show car and no longer a daily commuter I didn’t think it was worth spending money trying to squeeze more power from the engine. I’ve considered a 335i engine swap but it’s never really interested me; I love driving the car as it is and I’ve got nothing to prove, I don’t need 400 horses to enjoy it!” he smiles and that might be the most sensible thing we’ve heard him say all day!

    The engine might be stock, but the interior most definitely is not and Will’s made it a very nice place to spend time in.

    Gone are the stock M Sport front seats and in their place have been fitted a very sexy pair of leather-wrapped Recaro CS seats. “I’d seen an orange M3 on the internet with the BMW M Performance seats; they looked amazing and I was instantly hunting the web and eBay for a set,” grins Will. “They were like hens teeth to get hold of and at crazy prices whenever I found any. In the end I found a guy who stripped out Lotuses and made them into track cars who had taken a brand-new set of CSs out of an Exige. I bit his hand off when he mentioned selling them! I dismantled the original runners on the M Sport seats and fabricated some adaptors to put them onto the base of the CSs. I fitted the seats myself in about ten hours, doing the wiring and runners etc which I didn’t think was bad seeing I’m pretty much self-taught with vehicles!” With a pair of gorgeous leather seats up front the cloth rear bench really wouldn’t do, so this has now been trimmed in black leather to match. The trims have been painted in Land Rover Lago grey while after the shoot Will replaced the M Sport steering wheel with a flat-bottomed one complete with carbon trim panel. Finally, the audio has been uprated with a set of Focal speaker, tweeters and under-seat subs.

    While it may not have ended up being quite as sensible as Will might have initially wanted, his E92 remains a grown up car that’s the perfect blend of diesel frugality and jaw-dropping show car looks meaning he is both having his cake and eating it, which is about as much as you could ever ask for. Any future plans for the E92 that may have been brewing have currently been put on hold as Will has just bought a house, arguably the most sensible and grown up thing you can purchase, but that’s no big deal because at the moment he says he’s really happy with how the car looks and we’re with him on that one.

    “I love driving the car as it is. I don’t need 400 horses to enjoy it”

    “Before I’d even started the engine, I knew I wanted it. I was so happy”

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE Air-ride #BMW-E92 / #BMW-320d / #BMW-320d-E92 / #BMW-320d-Air-Ride / #BMW-320d-Air-Ride-E92 / #BMW-E92-Air-Ride / #Rotiform-BLQ / #Rotiform / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E92

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel #N47D20 / #BMW-N47 / #N47 , #K&N panel filter, carbon air intake cover, 335i tailpipes, six-speed manual gearbox

    CHASSIS 9x19” ET41 (front and rear) three-piece forged super concave #Rotiform BLQs with gloss black faces and satin gunmetal lips on G23 adapters with 215/35 (front and rear) tyres, #Air-Lift-Performance-3H air-ride with performance struts, chassis modified for greater front end drop, grooved discs and pads (front and rear)

    EXTERIOR Full respray in custom mixed bright blue, smoothed front bumper with washer jets removed, smoothed bonnet with #BMW roundel removed, carbon fibre kidney grilles, #Ericsson bootlid, diffuser, splitter and wing mirror covers, #NEM-angel-eye headlights with blacked-out internals, tinted rear lights

    INTERIOR #Recaro-CS seats, flat bottom steering wheel with carbon fibre trim added after the shoot, internal trims painted in Land Rover Lago grey, rear seats retrimmed in black leather, Focal speakers, tweeters and under-seat subs, full floating boot install with single tank, twin Viair compressors, lighting and satin grey tank

    THANKS Adi Camm and Dave Shaw at A&D Autos for all your help and support over many years and allowing me to spend hundreds of hours generally getting in the way at your unit! Vick Nagi at Lowpro for all his encouragement and helping me achieve my goals. Phil James at The Install Company for the wicked install and hard work on getting that front end drop so low. My mum and dad for supporting me throughout all of this and letting me dismantle cars on the drive at 1am on multiple occasions! All my close friends for the constant wind-ups about my car – it spurred me on to do better

    “I love driving the car as it is. I don’t need 400 horses to enjoy it”
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    Solid #flywheel conversions / BMW

    Many diesel owners will have heard of these conversions that replace the #dual-mass-flywheels ( DMF ). A new #DMF can be a lot of money – over £600. However, you can buy solid mass flywheel kits for various BMWs. For a 2007 onwards #BMW-N47 2.0d, such as a #BMW-320d , a flywheel and clutch kit is about £400 all in, including the sprung clutch centre plate. A kit for an older #BMW-M47 is about the same price. But are they worth it? There are stories of broken cranks on some BMW diesels, and these are ones such as the old M47 as fitted in the #Rover-75 diesel. This is due to the cranks in some diesels being made of cast iron as opposed to forged steel, and they can snap across a main bearing. It’s caused by harmonic vibrations and as well as the crank front pulley damper (which must be in perfect condition).

    The purpose of a dual mass flywheel is to absorb these stresses. Some will say the springs in the clutch centre plate on a standard solid flywheel does the job but they don’t – they just absorb the clutch take up. The dual mass flywheel moves about all the time, absorbing the severe vibrations that a four-cylinder diesel creates. Petrol engines, especially sixes, are not as critical but when did you last here of a petrol DMF failing? Exactly. And that tells you just how harsh diesels are on flywheels. So, should you fit one? That’s up to you, but bear in mind that unless you’re keeping the car forever, a new DMF and clutch kit will outlast your time with the car and it’ll be smooth and quiet to drive. A solid flywheel might save you £300 but it will be noisier, have noticeable vibration and whilst the chances of crank trouble is probably slim, is worth the risk? I wouldn’t, but each to their own…
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    SCANDINAVIAN SLAM Air-ride E91 Touring
    Who says diesel Tourings need to be boring? In the land of outrageous turbocharging, one Norwegian cares more about the air-ride stance. Words: Iain Curry. Photos: Erik Berg-Johansen.

    Stance is everything, right? Feel free to lust after an M2, M3, M5, whatever, but get the stance right on any run-of-the-mill #BMW and you can turn just as many heads. This fact gives us all hope. We can’t all drop tens of thousands on a new M car, nor employ an expensive specialist to bolt on a giant turbo and associated upgraded parts to create a street weapon. But get a car sitting just right and for comparatively little coin you’re a show favourite.

    Which makes this Norwegian E91 something of a rarity. You see, our Norwegian cousins have not only an enviable quality of life, but most of them have a fair chunk of disposable income too. Sure, it costs a lot to live in this beautiful Scandinavian land, but locals are well paid to compensate. I’ve met plenty of 20- something Norwegian car modifiers who think nothing of owning both a city flat plus a holiday home by the lakes to retreat to each weekend.

    It means many have the money to drive around in new German cars, and often make their mark by adding top-end aftermarket body parts, chassis upgrades and engine mods. Think back to all the 1000hp+ BMWs we’ve featured and many will be from Norway or the equally bountiful Sweden. And just to complete your jealousy, these Scandinavians sure know how to drive too. A thousand horses through the rear treads?

    Wheels spinning in fourth gear? No problem. It’s as if they’re born knowing how to control it. Just check out the names of those who mastered the Too Fast To Race Group B rally cars of the 1980s. Yep, the Scandinavians. Showing there are more strings to their bows than just bonkers turbo beasts, Kim Arild Grindermoen has chosen pure stance over performance with his 3 Series Touring. It’s all about air suspension, something he insists is nothing to be afraid of in terms of ease of fitment and even practicality thanks to the easily adjustable ride height. Yes he’s a tad biased as he set up and runs a company called StanceShop – a dealership for Air Lift Performance suspension and AccuAir air suspension management – but he’s a man worth listening to when he can make a humble estate car look this damn perfect on the stance front.

    The 26-year-old from Otta in rural Norway is a welder by trade, and bought this totally standard 2011 320d Touring with an M Sport pack to make what he says is his “own statement; something I have never done before by taking it all the way with air-ride”.

    It certainly isn’t Kim’s first time at the rodeo. Modifying cars since the age of 16, he cut his teeth on an old Mitsubishi with the usual aftermarket wheels and lowering, before progressing to BMWs a few years later. He’s been very active since then. An E36 was first, then an E30 followed by five more E36s, four more E30s, two E32s and five E34s. Busy boy.

    While Kim is one for big power too – he’s currently at work creating a madman E34 Touring with turbocharged M50B25 turbo engine – the 320d Touring has to serve as a daily driver, so the frugal diesel engine has been left practically untouched. An updated ECU helps the four-cylinder realise 207hp now – up from the standard 184hp – which Kim says is “enough for the street to lose your licence.”

    Visual clout comes from the ride height, and Kim says the kit is “plug and play and fits without modifications”. We all like the sound of that. “It took a couple of days to get it up and running because of the wiring and air lines,” he explains, “but the struts are as easy as coilovers to install.” Kim says it’s all bolt on with no need for further modifications to the chassis or body.

    Slammed on the ground the Touring looks fantastic, and the rear end in particular looks far fatter with the back wheel arches seeming to nicely bulge with the deep-dish 10x19-inch ADV.1 three-piece rims swallowed up by them. But no, those rear arches are completely standard. Up front the 9-inch rims with skinny 225/35 Falken FK453 rubber are ideally placed in the front arches.

    Improving things are the 320d’s front arches making way for M3 items with the side indicators replaced by gunmetal stripes. It’s a subtle addition, but adds some front end sportiness to otherwise plain 320d sides. The exterior stays true to BMW’s original Touring shape with Kim going for subtle enhancements to the black body. Most obvious is smoked tape – from Norwegian company Fantasy Factory – to coat the lights around the car, once again this being most obvious at the rear which now looks very mean-looking in its darkness, complemented by a 335i diffuser. A pair of 335i-look Ragazzon exhaust tips pop out from the diffuser, but other than that the bumpers are just factory M Sport items.

    While owning an estate car means plenty of room for an outrageous air install, this has to serve as Kim’s practical daily, so that wasn’t an option, but what he has done is put together a very smart, simple install while still leaving plenty of useable room in the load area. He’s running a single, black tank, which ties in with the rest of the car’s mean and moody appearance and is running twin Viair compressors plumbed into an AccuAIr VU4 four-corner solenoid valve unit. In the boot’s side compartment Kim’s added a fibreglass eight-inch subwoofer box, backing up Rockford Fosgate speakers and updated head unit in the main cabin. He has also wired in a Rockford Fosgate 3Sixty.3 eight-channel interactive signal processor which works as an OEM integration ‘black box’ for much improved audio control. While the interior has been kept practically standard, the addition of an OEM Alcantara M Performance steering wheel is a rather welcome upgrade.

    The cabin-mounted AccuAir controller offers quick and easy ride height adjustment allowing for seamless transition from slammed show car to practical grocerygetter. Kim also says he’s given the Touring a bash on Norway’s Rudskogen raceway, reporting back that it handles just fine.

    Good modifiers are always looking to move on to the next challenge, and Kim says his air-ride E91 will soon serve as practical family transport as his first child is due by the end of the year. He says as a result he’ll be closing down StanceShop, also partly due to how difficult it is to get air-ride cars approved for Norwegian roads, which makes his creation all the more impressive. “I’ll be focusing more on the family life, but you’ll still see cars being modified in the future by me,” he says, reminding us that his E34 is going to be a boosted show special with plenty of fast road potential. So this airride E91 will soon be the official family wagon. Not only will it be the coolest thing rocking up at kiddie daycare, but just think of the endless hours of fun the kids will have raising and lowering this Touring via that control pad. Who needs babysitters?

    DATA FILE #Air-ride E91 / #BMW-320d-Touring / #BMW-E91 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E91 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E91 / #BMW-320d-Touring-E91 / #N47D20 / #N47 / #BMW-N47 / #BMW-320d-Touring-Air-ride / #BMW-320d

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel N47D20, #Ragazzon exhaust system, uprated ECU, six-speed manual gearbox

    CHASSIS 9x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) #ADV.1 three-piece wheels with 225/35 (front and rear) Falken FK453 tyres, #Air-Lift-Performance suspension and #AccuAir management

    EXTERIOR M Sport bumpers, E92 M3 front wings with side indicators replaced by gunmetal strips, Fantasy Factory smoked tape for lights all-round, OEM 335i rear diffuser, M tricolour stripes on kidney grille

    INTERIOR M Performance Alcantara steering wheel, updated head unit, twin Viair compressors, single air tank, AccuAir VU4 valve unit, fibreglass 8” subwoofer box in boot, Rockford Fosgate speakers, Rockford Fosgate 3Sixty.3 eight-channel interactive signal processor

    “[I wanted to make my] own statement; something I’ve never done before”
    Interior has been treated to an M Performance Alcantara steering wheel and the in-car audio has also been upgraded. Boot area houses the smart and simple air-ride install; 19” ADV.1 three-piece wheels look fantastic and really suit the E91 shape.

    2.0d engine may be nothing special to look at but it’s the perfect mill for a daily driver and a remap has resulted in a healthy 207hp.
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    David Harrison #BMW-E90 / #BMW-320d / #BMW-320d-E90 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series-E90 / #BMW-3-Series /

    There’s a lot to like about David’s E90 and he’s put a lot of work in to get it looking spoton. On the outside there’s an M3 front bumper, the grille’s been wrapped in tinted dark chrome, and there are US-spec amber sidelights, LED smoked rear tail-lights and a 335d rear diffuser. It’s been given a 45mm drop all-round via a set of fully adjustable Pro-Sport coilovers and sits on a set of Fox MS007 19” gunmetal wheels with 15mm spacers up front. The engine’s had a stage one remap and EGR and DPF delete, resulting in 186hp and 307lb ft of torque. He’s also fitted a 335d-style twin-exhaust with 5” tips and a back box delete. The interior features leather heated seats, while red trim along the dashboard, centre console, front and rear doorcards adds a flash of colour. Future plans include painting the calipers silver and adding smoked side repeaters.
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    / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-320d / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-320Cd / #BMW-320Cd-E46 / #Aran-Ubhi E46 320d

    Here we have an exceedingly mean-looking E46 in the shape of Aran’s 320d which has enjoyed some extensive mods since he got his hands on it. On the outside the bonnet has been smoothed, the front bumper has been beefed-up with the addition of a #Pro-Sport lip spoiler, and electric folding mirrors have been fitted. The arches have been rolled to accommodate the genuine 18” #BBS-LM s, with red band stripes and red centre caps, and the car has been given a serious 60mm drop via a set of custom ERS Tender springs. In addition to the lowering springs Aran has added a custom anti-roll bar kit, Eibach top mounts and #Eibach rear arms. Finally, the ski hatch has been removed so that a custom sub enclosure could be fitted.
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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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    LONGTERMERS F30 320d Sport / #BMW-F30 / #BMW-320d-Sport / #BMW-320d-Sport-F30 / #BMW-320d-F30 / #BMW-320d / #BMW /

    Punctures, MoTs, more sparkly bits and one of the fleet meets its maker… but in a good way!

    The mileage countdown to the next service continues on its merry way, and we’re 3500 miles from someone taking the wheels off and whipping out the rear brake pads for a fresh set. Followed shortly after by an oil change and vehicle check, plus the front pads too I think. I’m still undecided as to whether to go the whole hog and do it all in one go, saving on garage visits. I’m also undecided as to whether to go main dealer or specialist, as there’s a local garage with a good reputation which I could try. I’ll have to give them a call and see if they’re rigged up to accept the F30, but given the number on the roads one assumes this will be the case.

    Vodafone gave me a new iPhone about, oh I dunno, twelve months ago, and ever since then I’ve not been able to use the BMW Remote app as I lost the registration details as a consequence. So I’ve been through the process again this month and finally got it working, just as a new iPhone 6S Plus arrived (which I’ll be using to finally upload a 4K video review of KP12 to my YouTube channel – I know, it’s only taken about a year since I mentioned it…).

    Naturally enough, I again neglected to take all the details off the old 5S (there’s always something which gets missed with events such as these isn’t there) so I poured myself a drink and pondered whether it was worth the aggro. Onto the ‘phone again to a chap at a BMW call centre, and when we finally resolved the mine field which is its SMS and email-based password reset process, I was able to gain access to the app.

    Not sure why I bothered though, to be honest. Does anybody out there actually use these things? The ventilation function merely activates the fan operation, not the airconditioning, hence it makes about as much difference on a hot day as a particularly tired flea furiously flapping its wings on the parcel shelf. The lock/unlock function takes an age to transmit to and from the car (and good luck getting that confidence- inspiring ‘ok’ message if your ‘phone loses the 3G or 4G signal mid-way through the procedure) and besides, who the hell wants to remotely unlock their car anyway? And I can’t really see the point of the remote headlight flash either, because by the time you’ve searched that remote festival or stately home car park where this feature is presumably of any practical benefit and found your car, the time taken to do so roughly correlates to the time taken for the headlight flash signal to actually reach the car. The app’s a good idea, but the tech has some way to go before it works.

    At least the front nearside Bridgestone Potenza has finally been replaced, courtesy of those efficient people at, not to mention my preferred local fitment centre, carterton (01993 843987) who welcomed me on a chilly Saturday morning with a wireless code for the aforementioned 6S Plus (why are mobile ‘phones regressing to the size they were in the 80s?) and a comfy sofa whilst the 224/40 R19 was smeared around the alloy in a scant 20 minutes. Excellent service, highly recommend both outfits.

    Still on the subject of tyres, the morning after we had the front replaced, the dashboard lit up claiming that one of the tyres had a puncture. It took a few seconds for me to register that the tyre fitment not 24 hours earlier probably had something to do with it, and indeed a message then appeared on the iDrive, stating what should happen next but at the same time, opining that perhaps the pressure sensor needed to be reset. Which we duly did and all has been well since. I had this problem last time too, as I recall. I really must make a note of these things…

    Prior to receiving the aforementioned new tyre, KP12 again found itself dumped in North Oxford’s secure parking area this month as I had the use of the new X6 for a weekend, and yet again here is an SUV/SAV which drew a cool response upon first acquaintance, but which I badly wanted by the end of the loan. Tellingly, the length of time it took to talk me around on this occasion was but just a few miles. Heading west down the A40 towards home, left arm again slung out across the transmission tunnel, my mind went back to the E71 version I drove for April 2014’s issue of BMW Car magazine. I said then that the meek may inherit the earth but they won’t be driving X6 BMWs, and I stand by that statement. This is arrogance on wheels, a get-out-of-my-lane device. And I absolutely love it.

    The loan car was a 30d M Sport, complete with tasty options such as the driver assistance package, which drove me mad down the M11 with its constant ‘red alert’ warnings from the instrument cluster. Does an engineer somewhere in BMW assume that stop, start traffic continues forward at a regulation 100 feet? So that soon got turned off. But otherwise, a combination of the new interior architecture (which is utterly gorgeous, locating the driver low down with a high waistline and prominent instrument pod) seriously impressive refinement wedded to push-you-back surge and the amusing sight of the tsunami of spray kicked up by the 315/35 20s out back really found favour with me. Funny how your opinion of something can really change when you spend some serious time with it. Twice. We were again bound for Suffolk, and the X6 repeated its shrinking trick around the lanes. Grunty, grippy, and happy to be hustled. Then swing onto the A120 on the way home, warp to 80mph, ease the throttle and relax.

    Fields and towns slip by the side windows, the elevated driving position subconsciously lowers your heart rate and the excellent eight-speed auto discreetly sorts the ratios. Then you spy the journey computer and it claims this two tonne, two-storey motor is doing 34mpg. Alchemy achieved. And yes, I know, it’ll be crap off road. But it’s utterly pointless to score the X6’s off-road abilities as it totally misses the point. You may as well assume that porn stars make good lovers. Just because something looks like it may be fit for purpose, doesn’t mean it will be.

    BMW doesn’t make a bad car these days (although the hyperactive puppy that is the M135i is probably my least favourite of recent years). They make an awful lot of good cars, and I’ve heaped praise on pretty much all of them. This latest X6 though, crumbs it’s good. Quite what the next one will be like is anybody’s guess but for now, I’ll take an #BMW-X6-40d-M-Sport / #BMW-X6-F16 over them all, including icons such as the M5 and i8.

    So much so that I’ve been looking at used ones as yet another potential replacement option for KP12. They don’t depreciate with quite the same venom as something like an F01 7 Series (another seriously tasty option – how does £18k for a 48k mile 2009 750i with the full options list of night vision, radar, blind spot, lane guidance and HUD sound?) but nevertheless, low 30s seems to soon be the going rate for an X6 M50d, and that’s one incredibly grunty motor. In short, lots to go shopping for when 2016 dawns in January.

    In contrast to all this, a recent trip to Beaulieu motor museum almost seemed like an anti-climax. I hadn’t been in a few years (er…twenty five, actually) and was expecting a significant difference as a consequence, but that feeling never really materialised. The much-lauded Top Gear exhibition was pretty poor in my view and the food in the main canteen area was awful. The main indoor exhibition area was impressive enough, and the sight and (near silent) sound of a Rolls-Royce Ghost running whilst an engineer talked the crowd through its engine servicing and maintenance schedule was impressive, too. But that was pretty much it and more to the point, it’s all they really had twenty-five years ago, too. And never mind that BMW content seemed very thin on the ground. Worse actually, the enormous model railway they had in those days has apparently been repatriated Stateside at the request of its owners, so that’s not there any more either. It was nice to see the place, but we won’t be back.

    F30 320d Sport / #N47D20 / #N47
    YEAR: #2012
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 47,977
    MPG THIS MONTH: 47.7
    COST THIS MONTH: £187 (tyre)

    A new tyre was required this month and Black Circles and HiQ came up trumps; Mark wishes he’d remembered to reset the TPC though!
    THANKS TO: North Oxford #BMW 01865 319000
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    Camo-wrapped and rocking air-ride and super RSs, this is definitely an E90 Saloon with attitude. Trust us, there’s an E90 on this page somewhere. And once you’ve spotted it, you’ll be glad you did… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Kevin Raekelboom.

    Camouflage is a tricky business. On the face of it, it should be a relatively simple thing; the first image that springs to mind is army fatigues, coloured in randomly-placed patches of green, brown, and fifty shades of beige, to allow a soldier to neatly blend into their bushy surroundings, perhaps with a twig or two taped to the head for good measure. Or perhaps various gradations of sand might be employed for desert combat. And look at the humble chameleon – hiding in plain sight is a simple affair if you’re able to harness any given colour for your own strategic benefit. Nature’s got this thing sussed.

    The tricky bit comes when you need to hide something quite large. Arguably the coolest expression of the medium emerged among the marine fleets of World War I, in the form of so-called ‘dazzle camouflage’. This is well worth looking up online if you have a moment, as it looks really cool – jagged black and white stripes, resembling something you might expect to find on a 1920s Soviet movie poster, which supposedly helped to disguise these massive warships among the waves. The complex, interruptive patterns of geometric shapes proved that you can hide anything, as long as you take enough care to disguise it (although, to be pedantic, dazzle camo didn’t hide the ships at all; it merely made it impossible to gauge how far away they were…).

    Nicky Knapen is a man who knows all about making camouflage work in the real world. Of course, ‘real’ is a relative term, and he exists within a mid-Nineties Nintendo game, as viewed through a blackand- white telly. So in his realm, this E90 3 Series is totally invisible – it’s merely the fact that you, dear reader, live in The Matrix that you’re able to see it at all.

    “I first saw this style of camo on Jon Olsson’s Audi RS6, and I just had to have something similar,” Nicky grins. For the uninitiated, Olsson’s wagon is a 1000hp road-legal scene legend, and thus not a bad benchmark to set for a project, even if purely on aesthetic terms. It’s a logical touchpoint for Nicky too, coming as he does from a VAG background; former projects for him include a Mk1 Golf and a Mk4 Golf, and he’s among a tide of people flooding from the VW scene to the BMW scene, hanging on to their imagery with both hands and eager for a fresh canvas to paint it all over.

    “I always had my eye on a BMW, the rearwheel drive was a big draw for me,” he confirms, accompanied by the nodding of countless scene veterans. “And I always wanted a special car – something that gets looks wherever it goes. So it took me about a year to get this car looking the way I wanted it to, but I’m proud of the fact that I did it all myself. And no, I stopped counting how much I’ve spent on it long ago…”

    So, that RS6 aside, where did the inspiration come from? “Oh, I never think,” Nicky smiles, brilliantly enigmatic in his modesty. “I just try new things. I do what I feel like, and I hope everybody likes it. But that doesn’t totally matter, I mainly do it for me.” Admirable sentiment indeed – while it’s nice to earn the adoration and accolades of your peers, your car is ultimately your car alone, and you might as well do it the way you want it rather than simply trying to appease a bunch of strangers, right?

    Backslapping and internet fame are merely fringe benefits of a job well done. Let’s get down to brass tacks, then. What we’re looking at here is a 320d. So what’s a repmobile-spec oil-burner doing in the hallowed pages of a magazine that proudly has the word ‘Performance’ baked into the title, you may wonder? Fear not, it’ll all make sense. The reason for choosing the model is that Nicky covers around 25,000 miles a year – his work as a Land Rover mechanic takes him all over Belgium and beyond – so he needs something that’s comfortable and, importantly, frugal. Hence the heavy oil. However, life really is too short to be lumbering along in the slow lane; no-one ever looks back on their life when they get to old age and thinks ‘oh, I wish I’d had less fun driving, I could have saved a bit of money on fuel’. So of course this 320d has been breathed upon a bit – that sturdy motor is now rocking a custom stainless steel exhaust, K&N induction and light remapping tickle to swell peak power to 207hp. Perfectly respectable, that.

    However, the key hook of this car is the aesthetics. You’d probably spotted that unless you inhabit the same monochrome retro video game world as Nicky, in which case you’ll be looking at a blank page and wondering what the hell we’re talking about). What’s most noticeable, aside from the vinyl wrap, of course, is the way it sits. “It’s running AP suspension, converted to air-ride with AccuAir SwitchSpeed control,” he explains. “I did it all myself, as I like getting my hands dirty and I’m keen to learn about the car by doing things in a practical way, and I really enjoy driving it now! The suspension was pretty much the first job I tackled after buying the car, it was important to get it low.”

    AccuAir’s clever SwitchSpeed system is a solid choice too; its three settings – Precise, Moderate, Full Speed – are all customisable by the user in terms of burst speed, and the controller gives full manipulation of each individual spring as well as the option of going up and down in pairs. Or ‘all down’, of course, when you need to deck it at the traffic lights to surprise passers-by. Central to a bagged aesthetic, as logic dictates, is rolling the correct set of rims too. Now, there are many schools of thought when it comes to wheel choice – for some it’s a classic BBS RS or nothing, others need to have the latest forged fare from a newly emerged I-liked-it-before-it-was-cool brand, many prefer a modern/retro motorsportaping design like, say, an HRE 505 or Rotiform BM1. For Nicky, though, it had to be the trusty RS; in this instance, the engorged mid-1980s evolution Super RS built in an 18” diameter with boisterous staggered widths. A simple and elegant design that’s aged very well… and certainly looks more appropriate in camouflage terms in the shade of sober grey you see here, rather than their previous incarnation. “The centres used to be bright yellow,” grins Nicky mischievously. He’s had VIP Modular VRC13s and XXR 527s on there too, it’s been a long road to the current setup.

    As he continued to wrestle with the relative merits of subtlety and boisterousness, Nicky’s interior found itself morphing into an interesting fusion of OEM+ and JDM. Tasteful details abound inside, such as the M3 steering wheel and smattering of carbon fibre trim. And then… BAM! Your expectations are subverted by a set of Bride seats, howling in drift chic and yet comfortable enough to massage the buttocks throughout all of those motorway miles. It really is cohesive; jarring to some, sure, but it works. And this train of thought thunders on across the car’s exterior too, with those sharp factory lines neatly augmented by the MSport package upgrade.

    The trim is shadowlined, the front bumper wears aggressive carbon fibre inserts, there’s more of the dark weave in the form of a bootlid lip spoiler – it’s just brawny enough to separate it from the everyday E90s without being too ostentatious. Oh yes… but there’s that vinyl camo wrap. That’s quite ostentatious, isn’t it?

    You see, this is a car of contrasts, of subtlety and boisterousness working in symbiosis, and that’s just the way Nicky wanted it. He’s not done yet, either. “Oh, I’ve got big plans,” he smirks. “Cars can always be made faster, can’t they? And I definitely want to try something from Liberty Walk. And I’d like to fit a roll-cage. And…” And it just keeps going. Some people just can’t sit still, can they? It seems that there are plenty of exciting things to look forward to on the horizon with this daily-driven four-door. But you’ll have to find it first.

    “Cars can always be made faster, can’t they?”

    DATA FILE #BMW-320d-E90 / #BMW-320d / #BMW / #BMW-E90

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 2.0-litre four-cylinder #N47D20 / #N47 , custom stainless steel exhaust, #K&N induction, remapped to 207hp, six-speed manual.

    CHASSIS: 8.5x18” (front) and 10.5x18” (rear) BBS Super RS wheels, AP coilovers converted to AccuAir air-ride with SwitchSpeed control, V-Maxx 330mm front BBK.

    EXTERIOR: M Sport package, camouflage vinyl wrap, carbon-fibre M Performance accessories.

    INTERIOR: Bride seats, carbon fibre trim, M Performance shifter, M3 steering wheel, Mosconi amp with Rockford Fosgate subs.

    Plenty of carbon to get excited about inside and out.

    V-Maxx front #BBK nestles behind a set of 18” #BBS-Super-RS / #BBS wheels while Bride seats spice up the interior.

    “Oh I never think, I just try new things. I do what I feel like, and I hope everybody likes it. But that doesn’t totally matter, I mainly do it for me”
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    Modified Tourings always look amazing, and this bagged #BMW E46 is all the proof you could possibly want. BMW’s Tourings are universally loved and when modified they reach new heights of awesome. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Bastein Bochmann and Scott Paterson.

    What is it about Tourings? Estates, Avants, wagons, whatever you call them, there’s something irresistible about them, especially when it comes to modifying. Coupés, saloons, convertibles, they can all look good, but Tourings, almost without exception, always look good. It’s funny considering that they’re arguably the most sensible and family-orientated. Perhaps going against the grain and slamming them to within an inch of their lives or granting them huge power is what makes them so appealing. It’s the act of doing exactly the opposite of what they were intended for that makes so many of you want them and makes them so good at being bad.

    Going even further against the grain is Andreas Wibstad. If there were ever any Touring rules, he has broken them all. At 23, we assume the young Norwegian has no real need for a Touring, but he’s got two of them, which suggests he is a fan of load-luggers, though his motoring past, filled with a brace of Peugeot 205s, tells a different tale. In fact, when it came to this E46, there was no great search, no long-standing belief that the E46 wagon is the Holy Grail of cars, no attempt to recapture childhood memories of family trips in BMW estates: “There was no particular reason why I bought this car,” explains Andres, matter-of-factly. “I bought it simply because I needed a bigger daily. I found it randomly online, it was in good condition and bone stock. I only planned on doing a few small things to the car when I bought it two years ago, and just tinted the windows and replaced the kidney grilles, basically small stuff.”

    Six months of happy, very mildly modified motoring followed but then fate, perhaps, stepped in: “I had a big accident where I got understeer and went straight into a ditch. I had a tree go through my windscreen. I was so angry and upset that about the crash, and everyone said the car was doomed, it would never see the road again. But after a lot of work I managed to buy the wreck back from the insurance company. And after some long months of hard work and a lot of money the car finally hit the road again, lower and better looking than ever.

    “I used the car through 2013 and when the winter came I parked it up so no accidents would happen again. While the car was being stored I started doing research on airride and new wheels. In the beginning of 2014, a package arrived with some air-ride goodies and a couple of months later my wheels arrived and I started redoing my arches to make room for my new setup. The new paint went on and the car was ready for summer. Since then I’ve constantly been doing small stuff and making everything look as good as possible.”

    So, we’ve got air-ride but it’s not a simple, off-the-shelf setup, the E46 Touring being rather more demanding and requiring a custom-made bag over coil system, made with parts from, a small company in Poland. “I wanted air-ride simply because I wanted the car to be really low but still be drivable every day. After all, this is my daily,” he reminds us with a grin. Considering the size of the boot, Andreas has opted for a surprisingly small build, but it’s certainly striking, with a single air tank on show and painted in a vibrant shade of Jägermeister orange, complete with logo, and a matching orange air line and air gun and orange wheel brace for good measure. It looks great and still leaves a vast amount of boot space free that can actually be used, meaning it remains a practical daily proposition for Andreas.

    With serious lows comes the need for a serious set of wheels and Andreas didn’t compromise when it came to getting the perfect set for his E46. “I spent a long time searching before deciding,” he says, “and I wanted to go with a wheel style not often seen on BMWs.” The end result is mission accomplished, with the wheels in question being a set of Cosmis Racing XT-005Rs – definitely not a brand that many people talk about in BMW circles and not a wheel you see often on BMWs either.

    The wheel design itself is pretty simple; five spokes with a dish but the execution is what matters and the combination of gunmetal centres with deep machined lips on the 10x18s is striking to say the least, and the wheels look extremely impressive. The fierce-looking spiked wheel bolts won’t be to all tastes, but they certainly add an extra visual element to proceedings, as does the flash of colour from the callipers. Hats off to Andreas for making these wheels fit in the first place – the E46 likes a high offset but the 10x18 XTs only come in an ET20, which is pretty aggressive for the E46 but doable with some tyre stretch and a bit of arch work (or quite a lot in this case), as illustrated perfectly here. As far as fitment goes, Andreas has well and truly nailed it.

    To go with the aggressive wheels and aggressive stance, the exterior has been given a more aggressive look through a combination of subtle and not-so subtle additions. The BMW parts catalogue has been plundered, with an M Tech rear bumper and side skirts on board, along with an M3 front bumper for a more full-on front end further enhanced and visually lowered with a set of carbon CSL corner splitters, but the real heavy-hitter here is the vented carbon bonnet. It probably won’t be to all tastes, but here it works well considering how thuggish the rest of the car is, and the finishing touches are a pair of blacked-out headlights with CCFL angel eyes and tinted windows. It all makes for a rather angrylooking car that is definitely not something you’d want to bump into in a dark alley.

    From practical, mildly modified daily, to post-crash wreck, to stunning slammed wagon, this E46 has run the gauntlet of emotions and experiences but the end result is most definitely worth all the work that Andreas has put it in. It flies the flag for the modified Touring brigade and serves as both inspiration and aspiration for those that wish to join its ranks.

    Big boot, small build, very orange. Hidden air-ride gubbins mean the big boot remains useable, while the custom finish means what you can see is eye-catching.

    When it comes to stance and fitment, this Touring delivers big time. Cosmis Racing 18s might not be forged, three-piece and worth more than the car, but they look awesome and are something a bit different.

    “I’ve constantly been doing small stuff and making everything look as good as possible”

    DATA FILE #BMW-320d-Touring-E46 / #BMW-320d / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-320d-E46

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 2.0-litre four-cylinder #M57D20 / #M57 , six-speed manual.

    CHASSIS: 10x18” (front and rear) #Cosmis-Racing XT-005R wheels with 225/35 (front and rear) tyres, custom bag-over-coil setup with manually controlled valves, #EBC drilled discs (front).

    EXTERIOR: Fully resprayed in original Orient blue metallic, M3 front bumper, M3 CSL splitters, #GTR carbon fibre bonnet, #M-Tech rear bumper, M Tech side skirts, painted mouldings, rolled, pulled and cut arches all-round, blacked out headlights with retrofitted CCFL rings, tinted windows.

    INTERIOR: Black leather Sport seats, M3 steering wheel, Harman Kardon audio, custom boot build with custom Jägermeister painted tank.

    THANKS: Huge thanks to friends and family for supporting me through everything.
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    CAR #BMW-F30-320d-Sport
    YEAR: #2012
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 36,822
    MPG THIS MONTH: 46.8
    COST THIS MONTH: See text #BMW-320d #F30 #BMW-F30

    How much does your car cost you to run every year in terms of fuel, insurance, servicing, tax and tyres? Removing the thorny issue of depreciation from the equation (too many variants), this month some rough mathematics suggests £3k as the annual cost for running KP12. Or about 20p a mile, give or take. I wouldn’t normally be so interested in the running costs of a quite prosaic form of motoring transport as, let’s face it, a 320d isn’t what you’d call rare, nor an expensive car to run. That’s the perception anyway. But as has become apparent this month, it can be more expensive than you would perhaps expect.

    KP12 was due a service as I said recently. The mileage indicator had been steadily reducing so one morning in it went to North Oxford for what the #iDrive claimed was an oil service and a vehicle check, the latter of which I assumed was something along the lines of what an Inspection I or Inspection II used to be back in the day. I had thought that a brake fluid check was also due but that’s not until March, apparently. Still a big service, though, so I was expecting the bill to be significant. But if you’d asked me to guess how much it would cost, I’d have reflected for a moment and perhaps estimated £400 top whack, and even then I’d ask what had been done. Well, the bill came in at £466, which was a bit of a surprise.

    Couple of things to clarify here before we get into this. First off, this is not a whinge at North Oxford #BMW . As will become apparent, it dealt with the situation gracefully and effectively, although it needs to be noted that the circumstances were unique to myself as the customer. Don’t come crying to me if your dealer fails to treat you as fairly as I doubt what follows would travel elsewhere as a common policy. And second, in general terms and having had a rock-solid reliable car since purchase, if that’s what the car needs in order to keep it together, maintain the warranty and so on, then I would have paid it, albeit with a raised eyebrow, and left with a car I considered fully fit for the next 12 months. But I didn’t pay it; it didn’t feel quite right to me based upon personal experience and circumstance. But we’ll come to that.

    What interests me here is the cost of servicing a Three Series. There’s thousands of them on the road. Literally. The days of BMWs being premium in terms of being at a premium are long gone. That is to say, they are everywhere. They are still a premium product to drive and own but I’m beginning to wonder what defines that. Is their premium qualification still valid or merely a residual effect of what we used to think about BMWs? Look at it this way, if BMW had only recently started making cars but churned them out in suitably high numbers to fill the roads inside a few years, would you accept its claim that its cars were a premium product? I know I wouldn’t.

    So I’ll leave that one hanging in the air and state that, in my opinion, nearly £500 quid to service a Three Series #320d is too high and is a good £100 more than it should be. As I said, if it’s ultimately what the car needs then I’ll pay it, but don’t expect me to be happy about it. After all, I was paying this for M5 servicing not so long ago. Yes, that was at an independent but then it becomes clear that the cost of servicing the car has nothing to do with the complexity of the vehicle; instead it’s all about the labour charge. So does this mean it costs the same to service a One Series as it does a Three, or even a Five? And does it also mean that the oft-quoted theory of revenue coming from servicing and not sales really is the truth?

    When it came to paying the bill then, I initially went for my debit card, then hesitated. Something didn’t seem right about this. We’d clearly had problems with this car. The knocking on the suspension took far too long to resolve, given the fundamental cause (the cables under the bonnet had been nibbled away by so-called rodent damage shortly before delivery). There were loose clips on the boot and the on-going inability to correctly align the steering became a little irritating. In short, KP12 had seen far more of the inside of North Oxford’s workshop than it should have done. I’m a philosophical sort, though, so ran with it, despite the aggravation. And the price for my easy-going nature? Nearly £500 quid to service it, the same as everybody else.

    So I said no, and the Service Manager was called. I know this chap, as he dealt with the issues with KP12 shortly after we’d taken delivery and to be fair to him, he recognised this immediately. It was the most pragmatic piece of service management I’ve ever come across at a main dealer and in one fell swoop he instantly did away with all the small talk and made a very reasonable offer in order to settle the issue, even succeeding in wrong-footing me for a moment because (cynical I guess) I was prepared for some straight talking required to resolve this. So I took the offer and I’m pleased to say I left a happy customer, my faith in main dealer customer service thoroughly restored. I suppose you could say that it should have reduced the bill accordingly without me asking for it, but that really is a cynical view. It’s a business, not a charity and in my view, there’s nothing wrong with leaving the choice to quibble up to the customer. Anyway, that was that. KP12 is now fighting fit and is clearly the better for a good service, pulling harder in the lower gears and raising a smile along these greasy roads we’re having of late (there’s even been a little sprinkling of snow around my area, although not as much as I’d like).

    I still haven’t changed the tyres, though. There’s just about enough meat on them but they really do need doing now so more on that next month. It’s quite bad really but work commitments have seen me out of the country for long periods (despite the mileage!). Plus the fuel economy isn’t demonstrably better, although that’s probably more to do with running the heated seats on full blast every morning.

    By the time you get to read this, I would have finally(!) gotten around to producing a video review of KP12, so please look out for that on my YouTube channel.
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