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    AC Schnitzer’s #BMW-X6M conversion / #BMW-X6M-AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-X6-AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-X6 / #AC-Schnitzer / #2016 / #BMW-X6M-AC-Schnitzer-F16 / 2016 / #BMW-X6 / #BMW-X6-F16 / #BMW-F16 / #BMW

    AC Schnitzer UK now has all the parts in stock to turn your X6M into a serious fire-breathing monster, complete with 650hp engine upgrade and a serious dose of attitude thanks to its ‘Falcon’ wide-arch kit. Some of the conversion highlights include 22-inch AC1 wheel and tyre sets in bi-colour or anthracite finish, suspension lowering springs, the aforementioned 650hp performance upgrade, an exhaust (with or without valves) and with chrome or matt black 90mm diameter tailpipes, a new front skirt, carbon rear diffuser, the previously mentioned Falcon wide-arch kit and a number of interior items, too.

    You can either cherry pick from the various parts available or go the whole hog and have the complete conversion carried out – the choice is yours. For full pricing details visit the AC Schnitzer UK website or give the helpful chaps a call.
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    COMPARO THE TALE OF THE TWO TOWERS

    BMW AND MERCEDES-BENZ BATTLE TO SEE WHO CAN GET HIGHER. BY DANIEL PUND / PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDREW TRAHAN.

    2015 #BMW-X6M-F16 / #BMW-F16 / #BMW-X6M / #BMW-X6-F16 / #BMW / #BMW-X6 / #BMW-X6-M-F16 / #BMW-X6-M


    PRICE $114,795 #2015 / #2016 #USA
    POWER 567 / 575 (EU DIN) hp
    TORQUE 553 lb-ft
    WEIGHT 5202 lb
    0–60 MPH 3.7 sec

    2015 #Mercedes-AMG-GLE63-S-Coupe / #Mercedes-AMG-GLE63-S / #Mercedes-AMG-GLE63 / #Mercedes-AMG-GLE63-C292 / #Mercedes-Benz-C292 / #Mercedes-AMG / #Mercedes-AMG-GLE63-S-Coupe-C292 / #Mercedes-C292 / #Mercedes-Benz-GLE-Coupe / #Mercedes-Benz-GLE-Coupe-C292 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes

    PRICE $118,610 #2015 / #2016 #USA (Tax free)
    POWER 577 hp
    TORQUE 561 lb-ft
    WEIGHT 5397 lb
    0–60 MPH 3.9 sec




    GATHER ’ROUND THE FIRE, FOLKS, AND LET UNCLE CAR AND DRIVER TELL YOU A LITTLE STORY.

    Some people might call it a fable or a fairy tale, but there ain’t fairies in this tale or brownies or sprites, not even a wisecracking woodland gnome. Where were we? Right, way back in the mists of time known as the 1920s, before interstate highways and chairs that give massages, there was a land known as the Irish Hills.

    Now, that name is what fancier folks might call a misnomer, because these hills weren’t in Ireland and, truth be told, the hills really weren’t much in the way of hills, either. No, those hills were in Michigan, where any old lump is called a hill. Along U.S. Route 12, once the trail that connected Detroit and Chicago, there lived a farmer named Edward Kelly whose land included part, but not all, of Brighton Hill. In about 1924, the Michigan Observation Company (MOC) decided it would build an observation tower on that hill, because, well, because Netflix hadn’t yet been invented. The evil MOC decided to cash in on the tourists with this roadside attraction. The good Mr. Kelly was not at all pleased, but the MOC built its 50-foot tower anyway, mere feet from his property line.

    So Kelly built his own damn tower, of similar design, right next to it. But Kelly's was 60 feet tall. It would come to be known as the Spite Tower. [Are we going to be mentioning the vehicles at any point in this comparison test?—Ed.]


    Well, that wouldn't do at all, said the MOC. It was not about to lose a measuring contest to Kelly and added 14 feet to the top of its tower. Possibly you saw this coming, but Kelly then added four feet to the top of his tower, putting it even with the MOC's.

    It wasn't until the MOC threatened to tear down its tower and build a much taller steel structure that Kelly called a truce. And the people rejoiced in this battle of the towers. Then the interstate came and sucked all the tourists away from the Irish Hills and its cheesy attractions. The towers were eventually joined and ringed by a half-bit miniature-golf course. They now sit, stained and boarded up with their observation decks removed, a last-ditch effort to try to save ahem from the wrecking ball by making ahem nominally weatherproof until the current owner could raise the $300,000 it would take to repair them.

    We're not implying that the BMW X6 M F16 and the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe are in any way like those two towers. For one, both vehicles were, in our testing, watertight and structurally sound. To see the towers as an allegory for these two hot-rodded coupe-ish SUV thingamabobs would be to imply that German carmakers are in a constant and sometimes futile measuring contest, caring only about one-upping each other. And that can't be true because, um, these two vehicles are both made in the United States.

    Mercedes started this whole “four-door coupe” silliness with its CLS sedan, and was followed quickly by BMW and its two four- door coupes. BMW was the first to take the basic concept to new heights of absurdity with its X6. And it was Mercedes that fired back with the large bar of soap known as the GLE Coupe. And look at where this has gotten us: Testing 5200-plus-pound performance vehicles that ride on massive, sticky summer tires and provide precious little of the utility of an SUV with precious little of the fun of a proper performance car. It's a cautionary tale.

    But here they are nonetheless. A second-generation snub-nosed F16 BMW X6 M, which pumps out 567 horsepower from its twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter #V8 , performs astonishing feats on the test track and looks from the rear-three-quarters view like a rat with no tail.

    Fresh this year is the GLE Coupe, a GLE SUV made less practical. Predictably, its 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 makes 10 more horsepower than the X6 M's engine, because, nyah, nyah, nyah, ours is bigger.

    Viewed directly from the rear, it looks like a sad robot with a chrome unibrow.
    So what, pray-tell, constitutes a win in this segment of $100K-plus high-performance, low-utility parade floats? Good question. Let’s find out together.

    2 BMW X6 M

    Look at our performance-test results for the BMW. Go ahead, we'll wait... Right? How insane are those numbers? The BMW might have lost this comparison test, but it certainly didn't lose it on the test track. This 5202-pound chunk of automotive fashion hammers its way to 60 mph in an improbable 3.7 seconds. It stops from 70 mph in just 152 feet. And it circles the skidpad with a ridiculous 1.01 g’s of grip. For perspective, all of the above numbers are better than those achieved by the 3613-pound BMW M3 DCT.

    If the guiding criteria for a win here rested on absurd achievements of absurdity, the X6 M would win hands down. BMW didn't just teach an elephant to dance; the company also strapped roller skates to its feet and mounted JATO rockets to its ass.

    That the beefy X6 M can carry fewer beer cases in its cargo hold (behind the rear seats) than an A4-based Audi Allroad Quattro is no great demerit, since the even-beefier Mercedes can only match the Allroad’s beer-carrying space.

    So why does the BMW lose? While we’d like to say that the most illogical vehicle—the one that best embodies the most devil-may-care flaunting of practicality and sense— should win, we can't. The BMW loses because it's a less-good day-to-day vehicle than the Mercedes.

    The BMW's rear seats are cramped, forcing average-to-tall rear-seat riders to tilt their heads uncomfortably and assume a legs-spread posture, as if birthing the front-seat passengers. The BMW's ride is admirably compliant on most surfaces in comfort mode. But, in sport and sport-plus modes, the X6 M on lumpy pavement becomes a bucking bronco, its enormous Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires (sized 285/35ZR-21 in front and 325/30ZR-21 in the rear) yanking the steering wheel as it follows the prevailing terrain. From the remote, high-mounted seat, the driver is left to feel as if he or she is just a passenger along for the head-tossing ride. Mind you, on a smooth test track the BMW conquers our slalom quicker and with more predictable handling than the Mercedes. But that's the crux of the problem with the X6 M: It feels as if it were designed to be more of a handling engineer's proving-ground toy than a vehicle for the road.

    The X6 M's seat and driving position are less comfortable than the GLE's, despite a near-endless variety of adjustments. The BMW's interior is such a bewildering assemblage of panels and textures and controls that you'd think it came out of a modern Cadillac. The instrument panel strata (from bottom to top) are black leather with tan stitching, tan leather with tan stitching, a strip of semi-gloss aluminium, shiny piano-black plastic, glossy carbon-fiber, four pieces of black leather with tan stitching, and a piece of black leather with black stitching.

    Its engine, mighty powerhouse that it is, doesn't sound very inspiring. Instead, it just sounds strange, garnering descriptions ranging from “a V10 with an exhaust leak” to “BMW's synthetic exhaust note, version 2.0.” And while the engine makes plenty of thrust once up to full boil, the power pauses and surges before it gets there in a way unbecoming of a BMW.

    These quibbles, however, do not diminish BMW’s otherworldly accomplishment developing the X6 M into a numbers-generating monster. And we appreciate that BMW delivered our test car in full peacock plumage, covered as it is in a sort of electric-teal paint and wearing medium-blue painted calipers. It makes a helluva statement. And as soon as we figure out what that statement is, we will let you know.

    1 MERCEDES-AMG GLE63 S COUPE

    During at least part of our exhaustive testing of this new and terribly misnamed “coupe,” an adorable little ladybug rode along with us. It would appear on the dash looking all children's-book cute for a leg of our journey, and then it would reappear on the windshield header for the next leg. We can only guess that it felt at home in the beetle-shaped GLE, or that it thought it had found in the Mercedes its god.

    Whatever the case, features editor Jeff Sabatini, a man who knows from luck, deemed the bug's presence auspicious. And that line of unreasonable reasoning makes as much sense as either of these utes, so...

    It's true that the heavyweight GLE63 S is not as quick as the X6 M. (Unlike other AMG models, no non-S version of the GLE63 is offered because, why would it be?) Nor does it stop in as short a distance. And its Continental summer tires can't out-stick the BMW's Michelins on the skidpad, despite their identical section widths. But at 3.9 seconds to 60, the 5397-pound GLE63 S Coupe is as quick as the stonking new Chevrolet Camaro SS. It circles the skidpad with as much grip, 0.95 g, as a new Ford Mustang GT with the Performance package. And it stops from 70 mph in 159 feet.

    Those numbers are legit, certainly for a vehicle with a roof 67.7 inches off the ground. But it's the GLE63's comportment on the road, when it's not at the absolute limit, that gives it the win over the X6 M. There's just something about the AMG philosophy that is better suited to big- baller performance vehicles.

    For one, the company produces the biggest, beefiest exhaust notes in the business. Turbos? Yeah, the Mercedes has them, but they don't muffle the thunder. We judged the exhaust to be best in comfort mode. In the sport-plus setting, the GLE63 does its best Jaguar F-type imitation (although an octave lower) by spitting and popping in response to a lifted throttle. It's of sufficient violence to make us imagine the GLE's exhaust splitting at its seams. And it farts excitedly on upshifts of the seven- speed automatic. That's cool, if you're into that sort of thing.

    Have a look at the top-gear acceleration results for the two vehicles. From 30 to 50 mph, the Mercedes is actually quicker than the BMW. Okay, it's only by a tenth of a second. But, it implies greater powertrain flexibility. In day-to-day driving, the AMG feels at once more alert and willing than the M— and also less strained.

    There is less of a noticeable difference between comfort and sport than in the BMW, but in any of the settings, the Mercedes provides a more pliant ride. It is unperturbed by undulating pavement and still provides a pretty amazing resistance to body roll. In this respect, the GLE63 doesn't feel as if it's trying as hard to feel sporty as the X6 M, but it achieves performance nearly as high.

    Our track tester complained about the GLE63's wayward tail during our slalom test, but we never felt it on the road. Below the limits, the GLE feels eager to turn in a way that belies its 114.8-inch wheelbase.

    In place of the BMW's visually cacophonous interior, the Mercedes' cabin is calm and well thought out. The front seats are comfy, with good lateral support. Its back seat is roomier than the BMW's, and the seat bottoms provide great leg support.

    We think the Mercedes looks a bit dumpy on the outside. Passers by just seemed confused by the thing once their eyes made their way back to the truncated rear. And the height of the cargo-hold opening is a back strain waiting to happen.

    Still, Mercedes' Spite Tower is the taller of the two for now. Or was BMW's the Spite Tower? Either way, in this competition, there's no truce on the horizon.

    Mercedes covers a sensibly designed interior in a not-sensible wrapper. The GLE63’s comfy and supportive front seats will even give you a massage, albeit a feeble one.


    MERCEDES-AMG GLE63 S COUPE C292-series

    + Sounds spectacular, plenty quick enough, comfortable.
    - Looks not spectacular, absurd lift over height, “less insane” remains a variety of insane.
    = The gentleman’s high-performance SUV thing.



    BMW X6 M F16
    + Test-track performance that defies physics.
    - Fussy controls, uninspiring synthetic soundtrack, can’t relax.
    = If you’re looking to dominate the two-and-a half-ton class at track day, this is the vehicle for you.

    Opposite top: Only 12 cases of beer will fit in the X6 M’s cargo hold, barely enough alcohol to make you forget how odd this vehicle is. Opposite and below: Fussiness abounds inside the BMW.
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    Added Muscle / #BMW-F16 / #BMW-X6-F16 / #2015 Road test

    A brace of X6s with a selection of M-Performance accessories. We sample a brace of M Performance-kitted X6s and try to pick a winner between the #BMW-xDrive30d-F16 and the #BMW-xDrive40d-F16 Words: Bob Harper /// Photography: Dave Smith

    I’ll admit that when I first clapped eyes on the X6 at the Frankfurt show back in 2007 I just didn’t ‘get it’. I’d been a big fan of the X5 since its arrival in 1999 but as I studied the concept X6 that BMW had just pulled the wraps off I couldn’t help but wonder who the ‘Sports Activity Coupé’ was aimed at and, more to the point, why wouldn’t you just buy an X5? After all, the X5 was cheaper, offered more interior accommodation and somehow just looked like a more coherent design. Did we really need BMW filling a niche no one knew existed?

    I went from doubter to believer after I’d driven an X6 though; it was just a little bit sharper than the X5 with all its responses feeling like they’d been finehoned with the driver in mind. The way you could pulverise a challenging bit of road into submission when behind the wheel of an X6 was something you had to experience to believe. It probably didn’t come as a surprise to BMW, but the car’s sales success certainly raised plenty of eyebrows, and if you believe that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery you only have to have a look at how many other manufacturers have jumped on the X6-style bandwagon – the Mercedes GLC being the latest to join the party.

    There are plenty of people who still don’t ‘get’ the X6, though, but I generally find that the vast majority of those who don’t see the car’s appeal have yet to drive one. My first acquaintance with the all-new model, the F16, came a few months back when I drove one back from the Geneva Motor Show and despite it being the entry-level engine for the UK market, the BMW-xDrive30d-F16 , I was mightily impressed with the way it went about its business. This was a ‘nail it back as fast as possible, I’m on press deadline’ sort of a drive and despite it being a long night in the saddle I stepped out of the BMW-X6-F16 without any aches, pains or a feeling of tiredness. All in all it was an impressive performance with my most major gripe being a lack of rear visibility thanks to what is a bit of a letterbox rear screen when looked through via the rear view mirror. This really irritates me in a car, and just about the only machine I can forgive it in is an M1, for obvious reasons.

    Owners and potential owners don’t seem so bothered by this if the order book is anything to go by and while many owners are happy with their X6s as they left the factory there seem to be an equal number who like to personalise them, too. The X6’s success can also be judged by the number of European (and American) firms that are making aftermarket components for it and, as is often the case, what’s available from the tuners ranges from the mild to the wild with varying degrees of success – there are some very dubious-looking wide-body kits out there on the market!

    BMW itself obviously has its own set of accessories for the X6 and if any expression of the car’s sporting intent were needed you only have to look at the fact that BMW has made sure its range of M Performance accessories were ready for market virtually from the moment the car was launched. As per the rest of the model range we have a selection of parts available for the Sports Activity Coupé, including aerodynamic components (in a mixture of plastic and carbon), wheel and tyre sets and some choice interior goodies too.

    We sampled what’s on offer on a brace of X6s – an xDrive30d M Sport and an xDrive40d SE – with the former being kitted-out with a host of exterior items and the latter being blessed with the interior upgrades. As the M Performance styling can only be fitted to an M Sport model all the SE makes do externally is a fancy set of wheels. As well as evaluating the accessories it was quite interesting to drive the 30d and 40d models back-to-back as the question of whether to go for the M Sport with its sexy styling or to have the additional performance of the 40d but with the less aggressive SE looks may be on potential owners’ minds. For the record, in standard non-accessorised form the 30d M Sport weighs in at £56,100 whereas the 40d SE is actually a chunk of cash cheaper at £54,060.

    They both use the same 2993cc turbodiesel in different states of tune – 258hp versus 313hp – and naturally enough the 40d wins the torque output battle at 465lb ft compared to the 30d’s 413lb ft. Their top speeds are both pretty academic unless you live a stone’s throw from the autobahn, but both can do double the UK speed limit and the 40d wins the 0-62mph gong by quite a margin, recording 5.8 seconds compared to the 30d’s 6.7. It’s perhaps slightly surprising then that on the road the 40d doesn’t feel significantly faster under normal traffic conditions than the 30d. I guess if you were Sebastian Vettel attempting to come from the second row of the grid to beat Lewis Hamilton into the first corner you’d appreciate the 40d’s extra urge, but both pull away from the lights with more than acceptable acceleration without having to bury the throttle pedal into the carpet. There’s very little in economy and emissions too – both with official mpg figures in the mid- to upper-40s, but unless you drive like a saint you’ll not see much more than mid-30s in everyday driving and if you do a lot of town work it’ll be even less than that.

    When you do get hold of them and try to extract the maximum from both cars the 40d does delve into its extra bag of tricks and you do start to feel the presence of the extra power and torque. It’s the latter that’s most important – it feels less stressed when trying to extract the maximum from it and when the 30d is becoming a little breathless or a little strained the 40d keeps pulling hard and is less out of its comfort zone. It does have to be said that by the time you discover this you’re probably going to be travelling far faster than is generally deemed acceptable on the public road, and at the back of your mind you do have to keep remembering that you’re in command (and hopefully in control) of over two tonnes of metal. Overall the X6s – both 30d and 40d – do hide their bulk very well, but there’s only so much clever chassis work and the excellent xDrive system can mask. Ultimately the laws of physics do take over, but long before then you should really have backed off anyway. The bottom line is that something this big should not be this entertaining to drive.

    Which machine I would actually choose to own is a very tricky decision, ignoring the fact for one moment that I don’t have upwards of £50k burning a hole in my pocket. I do like the M Sport styling and I think its aggressive looks do suit the X6 more than the SE. But if I was in a hurry I’d much rather be behind the wheel of the 40d. I could be more than happy with either machine but would more than likely err towards the 30d M Sport, and if that was my ultimate decision then I’d also be able to add some of the fine M Performance accessories that we have here. In case you haven’t spotted it the Space grey 30d is the exact same machine I drove back from Geneva but since the last time I saw it it’s been slathered in a selection of M Performance accessories. If you approach from the front it’s hard to miss the lovely carbon fibre front lower spoiler which complements the M Sport front bumper treatment perfectly. Additional carbon items are the mirror caps and a rear diffuser which looks rather fetching, and a neat bootlid spoiler which is perfectly judged – not too small and not too ostentatious either.

    These rather lovely carbon goodies are backed up by black kidney grilles, M Performance side decals along the sills, a pair of winglets that sit just aft of the rear wheels and a couple of plastic rear fins that run up the side of the rear screen. Finishing off the whole look are a set of 21-inch Double-spoke 599M M Performance wheels complete with Pirelli tyres. These really are pretty impressive looking and measure 10x21 inches up front and 11.5x21 inches at the rear and are shod with equally huge 285/35 and 325/30 Pirellis, front and rear respectively. It says something about the size of the X6 that these 21-inch wheels don’t actually look that big on the car! Overall the M Performance accessories look pretty smart, although I’m going to add the usual caveat that the sill stickers aren’t my favourite part of the package and I’m not 100 per cent certain the little winglets or plastic fins by the rear screen bring all that much to the party. The carbon I love, though, although you do need to be pretty keen on it as the splitter, rear diffuser, mirror caps and spoiler will set you back over £3000 – and that doesn’t include fitting. To be fair, though, it’s certainly no more than you’d pay for similar parts from the aftermarket and obviously these ones have been fully tested by BMW and are backed by BMW’s warranty, too.

    If I was pretty keen on the exterior upgrades on the Space grey 30d then the interior on the Flamenco red 40d is equally impressive. There are swathes of carbon fibre running around the dash and onto the door cappings, and along the dash there’s also a nice sliver of Alcantara with the M Performance script woven into it. The gear selector and the surrounding trims are also in carbon fibre and look all the better for it and to cap things off there’s an Alcantara-clad M Performance steering wheel that feels absolutely lovely to hold and has a delicate piece of red leather at the 12 o’clock point. A set of M Performance floor mats and some rather natty illuminated front door sill trims complete the package. The whole setup exudes quality and makes the interior seem significantly more sporting, too.

    The X6 might not seem like the most obvious choice of a sporting #BMW suitable for a set of #M-Performance accessories but in a way it makes more sense than on an X5 as the Sports Activity Coupé is the more sporting of the two big X machines. Some folk will still struggle to get their heads around the whole X6 concept but my advice to them would be to take one for an extended test-drive – they really do drive very, very well and are far more wieldy than their size and weight might lead you to believe. Of course this brace of machines we have here aren’t going to rival an M235i when it comes to ultimate cross-country pace, but they’re not quite as far as away as you might imagine. I’ll take mine as an #M-Sport and sign me up for the carbon fibre M Performance parts please…

    The bottom line is that something this big should not be this entertaining to drive.

    It’s perhaps slightly surprising then that on the road the 40d doesn’t feel significantly faster.

    M Performance #BMW-X6-xDrive30d-F16 and #BMW-X6-40d-xDrive30d-M-Sport xDrive40d SE.

    ENGINE: Six-cylinder, turbodiesel #N57 #N57D30O1 / Six-cylinder, turbodiesel #N57D30T1
    CAPACITY: 2993cc 2993cc
    MAX POWER: 258hp @ 4000rpm 313hp @ 4400rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 413lb ft @ 1500-3000rpm 465lb ft @ 1500-2500rpm
    0-62MPH: 6.7 seconds 5.8 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 143mph 149mph
    ECONOMY: 47.1mpg 45.6mpg
    EMISSIONS: 159g/km 165g/km
    WEIGHT: 2140kg 2180kg
    PRICE (OTR): £56,100 (M Sport) £54,060 (SE)

    M PERFORMANCE EXTERIOR PARTS FITTED TO SPACE GREY M SPORT: Front splitter, carbon: £1225. Rear diffuser, carbon: £925. Rear spoiler, carbon: £595. Black kidney grilles: £131. Rear fins: £229. Rear winglets: £530. Carbon door mirror covers: £498. 21-inch Double-spoke 599M complete wheel and tyre set; Front 10x21-inch with 285/35 R21 Pirelli tyres; Rear 11.5x21-inch with 325/30 R21 Pirelli tyres: £5250.

    M PERFORMANCE INTERIOR PARTS FITTED TO FLAMENCO RED SE: LED door sills: £206. M Performance steering wheel: £775. Carbon interior trims: £1175. Gear selector and lower trim: £532. M Performance mats: £192.50 All prices quoted are for parts only but include VAT. Contact your local dealer for painting and fitting costs, plus details of any promotions running on M Performance packages.

    To cap things off there’s an Alcantara-clad M Performance steering wheel that feels absolutely lovely to hold.
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    2015 #Lumma-CLR-X6R / #BMW-X6-Lumma / #BMW-X6-Lumma-F16 / #BMW-X6 / #BMW-X6-F16 / #BMW-F16 / #2015

    Renowned tuner #Lumma-Design has created a spectacular wide-body version of the X6, named the CLR X6R. The arches themselves are 40mm wider, front and back, and join with matching side skirts. At the front, the new deeper bumper design houses larger air intakes, twin-row fibre optic daytime running lights and LED fog lights.

    At the rear there is a new spoiler for the tailgate and lower down there’s a new exhaust treatment with two large and two small tailpipes located in the centre, housed within the new diffuser section. There’s also an optional bonnet, made from fibreglass or carbon fibre to fit all #BMW-X6-F16 models, and #Lumma Racing 10x22-inch and 12x22-inch wheels. To suit the new looks, there is also a selection of power upgrades available for most models.

    Price: POA
    Contact: www.lumma-design.com / #BMW
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    FAST CLUB #2015

    We get behind the wheel of the face-lifted M135i and M6 Convertible and also have a go in the X6 M. We drive the face-lifted M135i and M6 Cab plus the X6 M for good measure because… well, why wouldn’t you? Words: Elizabeth de Latour/ Photos: #BMW

    2015 #BMW-M135i-F21 / #BMW-M135i / #BMW-F21

    Say what you will about the second generation 1 Series’ fishy/froggy face (I like it, but then again I’ve got one) but you can’t argue with the fact that it has been a roaring sales success and, more importantly, introduced the world to the M135i – arguably one of the greatest performance bargains of all time and one of the hottest of hot hatches. Now the time has come for the F2x 1 Series’ LCI (Life Cycle Impulse), BMW’s term for a midlife face-lift, and the end result is a car that is a little easier on the eye and will likely be even more popular.

    There’s a more attractive front end with slightly more conventionally-styled headlights though we’re of the opinion that the rear revisions aren’t quite as successful but the overall effect is a success and it’s a good-looking hatch. The interior revisions are minor, with a boost in standard spec (all cars now get climate control, for example) and swish new monochrome graphics for the heating controls. As far as face-lift packages go, it’s a success.

    Of course, the M135i is all about going fast and BMW has seen fit to up the power… by 6hp. That does at least bring it in line with the M235i at 326hp and ensures you won’t be at a disadvantage owning an M135i come pub power figure bragging time. Unsurprisingly, an additional 6hp has made no difference to the car’s performance, that is to say that it still feels absolutely ballistic out on the road. We’ve never experienced a car that is so easy to drive quickly and without even trying. At one point during a B-road blast I was casually wondering about what to have for dinner that evening whilst chucking the M135i through the corners with careless abandon. That’s not to say that you feel detached from the driving experience, far from it, the M135 is an engaging and communicative steer but there’s so little drama to proceedings you really do just get in and drive it really, really fast. Turn off the traction control and you can have all the drama you want, the E-diff making a fine fist of emulating a mechanical LSD and you can get the tail out with no effort or lay down some fat 11s if the mood takes you. It sounds awesome, too, ignoring the fact that the speakers do play a part in channelling the engine noise to the occupants, but experienced from the outside, away from the electronic audio frivolity, it still sounds rude and as fruity as you’d want and hope it would.

    If it was my money, auto takes preference over manual (more gears, better fuel economy, faster), especially as the shifts are so quick and crisp it makes you wonder what the point of M DCT is. And while the standard suspension is good, EDC is better, allowing you to go harder or softer and it feels like less of a compromise and makes the car more capable. If you want a small, fast, practical do-it-all hot hatch, aim your £30k at the M135 and pull the trigger, you won’t regret it.

    DATA FILE
    ENGINE: 3.0-litre straight-six #N55B30 / #N55
    TRANSMISSION: Six-speed manual, optional eight-speed Sport Auto #ZF8HP
    WEIGHT (EU): 1505kg (1520)
    MAX POWER: 326hp @ 5800-6000rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 332lb ft @ 1300-4500rpm
    0-62MPH: 5.1 (4.9)
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
    EMISSIONS (CO²): 188g/km (175)
    FUEL ECONOMY (MPG): 35.3 (37.7)
    PRICE (OTR): £31,325 (five-door £33,345)
    DATA FILE
    Figures in brackets are for Sport Auto

    2015 #BMW-M6-Convertible / #BMW-M6-Convertible-F12 / #BMW-F12 / #BMW-M6
    Would we buy an M6 Convertible? If we were in the market for a big, fast, comfortable drop-top, the answer would be a resounding yes because the M6 delivers everything you might want from a car like this. For its LCI treatment, BMW has dumped a whole lot more standard equipment into the big Six (over £10kworth in fact) and cleaned up the already elegant lines for a bit more aggression and road presence. It’s a delicate beauty treatment but when you’re starting with what is arguably a pretty good-looking car in the first place, you’d have to have fists made from ham to mess it up.

    Under the bonnet it’s business as usual, which is a slightly rude way of saying it’s still got a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 (remember when something like that was just a schoolboy’s dream and now it’s an everyday reality?) making 560hp and 502lb ft of torque. That means 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 155mph but lots more if you take the limiter off. A big capacity V8 plus twin-turbos means that torque peak is spread thickly across most of the rev range, like butter on freshly sliced bread. It’s equally delicious, unless you have a gluten allergy, but at least that won’t affect your enjoyment of the S63 V8 and it’s a monster of a motor. Prod the throttle at pretty much any revs, any speed and the M6 surges forward on a wave of torque and that means it’s very easy to go very fast indeed without noticing and that means you could get in a lot of trouble very quickly. It makes driving a much more relaxing experience, having so much performance on tap, as there’s pretty much no situation that you can’t drive your way out of. If you get stuck behind slower traffic you don’t have to wait for an overtaking opportunity, it happens almost without you realising it; you think ‘I could probably overtake this car if I… oh, I’ve already done it’. On rough and damp surfaces traction is at a premium but for the most part it manages to put down its power pretty well and you can deploy a healthy dose of throttle without too much concern.

    The only thing that really hampers the driving experience is the size of the M6 because it is most definitely a big car; wide and long, it feels like it takes up a lot of space on the road. On A-roads it’s fine but funnel it onto a B-road and it feels big and a bit out of its comfort zone. The ride is also pretty harsh and we also noticed what seemed like some scuttle shake over rough surfaces, a slight shimmy through the dash and steering wheel. But aside from this there’s little to moan about here, really, and it remains a hugely impressive car. Yes, it is expensive but it’s priced in line with its rivals, and is actually cheaper than a good few of them, so that’s a moot point really. If you happen to have £100k burning a hole in your pocket and an overwhelming desire for a fast convertible, we can’t imagine you’d be disappointed with the M6.

    DATA FILE

    ENGINE: 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 #S63B44 / #S63
    TRANSMISSION: Seven-speed #M-DCT
    WEIGHT (EU): 1925kg
    MAX POWER: 560hp @ 6000-7000rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 502lb ft @ 1500-5750rpm
    0-62MPH: 4.3 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
    EMISSIONS (CO²): 239g/km
    FUEL ECONOMY (MPG): 27.4
    PRICE (OTR): £97,300

    2015 #BMW-X6-MF16 / #BMW-X6M / #BMW-X6 / #BMW-F16

    If you like cars that make you laugh out loud then the X6 M is the car for you. It may go against everything that M once stood for (a 4WD auto 4x4 with an M badge?!) and it may get plenty of environmentalist sorts raging, but that cannot take away from the fact that it’s actually a massively impressive machine. The X6 M looks big on the outside and feels big on the inside but the most surprising thing about it is that it’s actually surprisingly easy to pilot with confidence, despite taking up most of most of the roads you’ll find yourself driving down. The elevated driving position offers a good view of your surroundings and the massive mirrors give you a good idea of whereabouts you are in the road, making the X6 M quite easy to place.

    The most amusing aspect of the whole driving experience is that it drives nothing like how you might expect. It doesn’t feel heavy – it is most definitely a heavy car at 2340kg – but it doesn’t feel like it’s carting around anywhere near that sort of mass. The fact that it’s so powerful is a massive help, obviously, and while the M5 and M6 have to make do with 560hp in standard form, the X6 (and X5) M models now boast 575hp, 20hp up on what they started with when first launched, which means it feels absolutely ballistic. 0-62mph comes up in a scarcely believable 4.2 seconds, which puts it quite literally a fraction behind the DCTequipped M3 and M4, seriously impressive when you consider that it weighs over 700kg more. The drive-by-wire throttle is amusingly light, which means that it feels even faster than you expect, especially compared to the M6, whose pedal requires a lot more effort to get it moving, and it’s very easy to pile on the speed without even trying. The steering is light and while it’s not the last word in communication and feel, it’s fine and allows you to drive briskly with confidence, while the brakes are suitably powerful though after a brisk drive involving few hard stops the pedal travel increased and braking required a little more commitment, though that’s not too surprising considering they’re trying to cope with over two tonnes of rampaging X6. But, overall, it’s a surprisingly positive experience behind the wheel.

    The X6 M definitely won’t appeal to everyone but we can appreciate why it’s so popular and those that love it are truly enamoured. It’s not for us, even if our numbers came up, but we doubt you’ll find another car that makes you giggle quite like the X6 M.

    DATA FILE

    ENGINE: 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 S63B44
    TRANSMISSION: Seven-speed M DCT
    WEIGHT (EU): 2340kg
    MAX POWER: 575hp @ 6000-6500rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 553lb ft @ 2200-5000rpm
    0-62MPH: 4.2 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
    EMISSIONS (CO²): 258g/km
    FUEL ECONOMY (MPG): 25.4
    PRICE (OTR): £93,080
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    STYLE WITH SUBSTANCE? #BMW

    Style with Substance? We get to know the new #BMW-X6 xDrive30d by offering to drive one back from Geneva. Can the X6 xDrive30d M Sport impress on a dash back from Geneva with a blend of performance, style and economy? Words & photography: Bob Harper.

    Despite the fact I was working to a pretty tight deadline in order to feature the Geneva show in the last issue, when BMW offered me the chance to drive back from Switzerland in a new X6 I jumped at the chance. My head was telling me not to be a fool – let BA take the strain while I could use the airport downtime and the flight to write some words – so inevitably the heart won and I found myself ensconced behind the wheel of an X6 xDrive30d in the late afternoon with the prospect of hammering back to London by bedtime.

    I love a longish Continental drive as you get to know a car well on the drive and it also provides you with plenty of time to think, something that can be a rare commodity when you work in an open plan office and have kids fighting for your attention when you get home. Once I’d adjusted the seat and mirrors to my satisfaction the first decision that had to be made was which way to return to Blighty – if you’re in a hurry the Autoroute through France is the obvious choice but the most direct route takes you through the Haute-Jura National Park for the first 120 kilometres or so and this was the way I elected to go as it would give me a chance to sample the X6 on roads that weren’t motorways.

    But before we get on to how the X6 fared as a continental-cruiser we should quickly familiarise ourselves with what exactly we’ll be driving. So far we’ve experienced the two top dogs in the X6 range – the mighty M50d (December 2014) and the bonkers X6 M (March #2015 ) – as well as the US-only sDrive35i, but this 30d we have here is the entrylevel model and will be the biggest seller in the UK. Today we have it in M Sport guise and if you were wondering how the standard 20-inch alloys look so small in the pictures that’s because this machine is actually fitted with a 19-inch winter wheel and tyre setup as it had been used for an xDrive event up in the Alps prior to me taking over its controls.

    While I’ve described it as the entry-level machine, this sounds slightly absurd given the 30d M Sport costs £55,850, although you can lop £4700 off that price if you opt for the SE model. It’s a lot of money, but not necessarily any more or less than offerings from other manufacturers and it has to be said that the X6 is very well spec’d as standard. There’s Dakota leather, a ‘Softskin’ covering on the dash, a multifunction steering wheel with shift paddles for the Sport auto transmission, part electric heated front seats, Professional navigation, Bluetooth and Adaptive M suspension on this M Sport model.

    Motive power comes courtesy of BMW’s single turbo (with variable inlet geometry) version of the 3.0-litre straight-six and it offers 13hp and 15lb ft of torque more than the previous generation X6 with 258hp and 413lb ft. Peak torque comes in at just 1500rpm which means it’s 0.8 seconds faster than the old X6 to 62mph while economy has improved to a claimed 47.1 on the combined cycle with a CO² rating of 159g/km.

    Its first task is to negotiate my way out of Geneva and a couple of junctions down the motorway before I can peel off into the Haute-Jura for a bit of fun before the motorway slog to the Euro Tunnel. Initial impressions once on the move are good – the engine and transmission work so well together that you don’t have to give them a second thought. Also, as befits a machine that’s pretty tall, you do have a commanding view of the road, although the previous generation’s bug bear of a letterbox-sized view through the rear screen has been carried over – thank the ‘Coupé’ styling for that – and for me it would almost be a bit of deal breaker if I were thinking of buying this machine.

    The engine and transmission work so well together that you don’t have to give them a second thought

    Once on to the A road that will cross the hills, thoughts of looking through the rear screen are banished as the road becomes quite challenging with lots of short straights and switchbacks as it climbs steep escarpments. I’m following a well-driven diesel Golf GTi and while the X6 reels it in on the straights it struggles to keep up through the twistier sections, the combination of a 2140 kilo kerb weight and the winter tyres making it feel unwieldy when really pressing on. You can improve things by swapping the suspension into Sport and flicking the gear lever to the left to engage Sport mode which adds a little engine braking when you need it but ultimately I remember that this isn’t a sports car and let the Golf disappear off into the middle distance. Simply notching back the pace from ‘as fast as possible’ to ‘pretty brisk’ makes a world of difference and I realise that ground can still be covered rapidly once you take into account the weight, high centre of gravity and winter rubber that’s being tortured on what is actually rather warm and dry Tarmac for March.

    All too soon the fun’s over and I settle into a gentle lope along the motorway heading for the tunnel. Long gone are the days when you could power through France so I set the cruise and let the X6 take the strain. I have the optional Head-up display on board (£995) and I do love it for its clarity and for the way it stops you from having to take your eyes off the road when checking your speed or absorbing commands from the navigation system. I was less keen on the instrument display itself which comes as standard with black panel technology which means you effectively get a digital rendering of a traditional set of instruments. They just look a little fake to me and as this car had the optional multi-functional instrument panel it also changes the display to red when you engage Sport and blue if you elect to use Eco Pro mode which I only do to remind myself why I don’t like it – the car just feels unnecessarily slow!

    As darkness falls I discover I’m getting flashed by several cars coming in the opposite direction and it occurs to me that the headlights must still be set for UK driving. I delve into the iDrive and as I thought there’s a setting in the ‘Lights’ section to switch them over for driving on the right, but this can only be done when stationary with the engine off so I take the advantage of the next fuel station, swap the lights over, rejuice the suitably large 85-litre tank and pick up some Scooby snacks too.

    The rest of the journey passes in a bit of a blur and before I know it I’m subconsciously ducking as I travel under the maximum height barriers as I negotiate my way on to the Euro Tunnel. According to the handbook there should be ten centimetres of clearance but from the driver’s seat you feel like you’re going to hit the overhead barriers every time you go under one! While the train takes me under the Channel I sample the rear seat and decide that the headroom’s a little mean for a six-footer and the middle rear seat doesn’t look all that inviting. I also scroll through the journey computer and discover an average economy for the last 500 miles of a smidgen over 30mpg – not horrendous, but not brilliant given that most of it was at a cruise-controlled 80ish mph. There’s a brief couple of days in the UK with the car before it goes back to BMW and punting it around London does highlight how big the X6 feels – negotiating width restrictions is hard work and even after a couple of days I found the lack of rearward visibility irritating. Features editor Simon also took it home for a night and while he returned raving about the superb drivetrain and the overall quality feel of the cabin he did reckon the steering felt pretty remote and vague which isn’t something I’d particularly noticed – maybe that’s because I drive a Passat everyday and he’s got a 135i!

    Overall though the X6 is a pretty convincing piece of kit, providing you like the styling and don’t need to carry tall rear seat passengers too often. Personally I’d go for an X5, or even look at an X3 which I still reckon is one of BMW’s best vehicles in its current line-up.

    2015 #BMW-F16 #BMW-X6-xDrive30d-F16
    ENGINE: Six-cylinder, 24-valve turbo diesel
    CAPACITY: 2993cc
    MAX POWER: 258hp @ 4000rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 413lb ft @ 1500-3000rpm
    TOP SPEED: 143mph
    0-62MPH: 6.7 seconds
    ECONOMY: 47.1mpg
    EMISSIONS: 159g/km
    PRICE (OTR): £55,850
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    Gitter
    BMW X6 M F16 Performance Accessories #2015

    Hot on the heels of the debut of the new #BMW-F16 generation of #BMW-X6 comes a host of BMW M Performance Accessories for those who like to add a little personalisation to their cars.

    For the exterior there’s a carbon fibre front splitter, rear diffuser and rear spoiler, as well as rear fins and rear side flaps in a high-gloss black. Also on offer are hand-built carbon exterior mirror caps, a high-gloss black kidney grille and high-gloss black rear fins. Other options include 21-inch bi-colour light-alloy wheels with run-flat tyres, which are 1.5kg lighter than comparable standard light alloy wheels and chrome exhaust tailpipe finishers. Inside you can choose from LED door sills with #BMW-M-Performance lettering, a carbon gearshift lever with #BMW M logo and an M Performance steering wheel in Alcantara with carbon trim. It’s not all about styling though as there will also be a performance upgrade for the #BMW-X6-xDrive30d-F16 , which ramps up the car’s output and torque from 258hp/413lb ft to 277hp/431lb ft.

    These M Performance accessories for the X6 are on sale now with prices starting at £79 for BMW Performance aluminium pedals.
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