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    HOT PURSUIT

    We pitch the hottest hatches from Honda, Subaru and #VW against the mighty #BMW-M135i-F20 / #BMW-F20 / #BMW . Hatches have never been hotter and while the M135i arguable rules the roost, can it fend off the onslaught from the competition? Words and photos: Steve Hall.

    Let’s do a track-based comparison test,” the editor suggested. “Let’s do it at Bruntingthorpe. It’ll be fun,” she said. Well, I didn’t need asking twice! The idea was to assemble a handful of suitably well-endowed rivals to take on what remains the undisputed king of the hot hatches, BMW’s spectacular M135i. Could the trio of challengers we’d lined up be able to worry the Bavarian champion?


    Organising a test like this is not an easy feat, though, as juggling the vagaries of track availability, editorial staff to assist, and buttering up the relevant PR folk to entrust us with their prized press car can see such plans unravel before we’ve so much as checked the weather. Ah, the weather…

    Serves us right for running this test in British ‘summer time’, I suppose. Either way, we arrived at Bruntingthorpe to test the M135i’s track capabilities alongside three key rivals under gloomy grey skies, which continued to dump sporadic rain showers throughout the day. Ho-hum.


    If you’ve ever driven Bruntingthorpe in the wet, you’ll know that it is extremely slippery in places, with grip dropping off rapidly on the runway sections thanks to the old-fashioned patchy asphalt surface which has soaked up years and years of aircraft emissions. Imagine the grip coefficient when old slipper meets wet linoleum floor, and you’re not far off. This explained our difficulty in approaching the manufacturers’ quoted acceleration times (well, that and mechanical sympathy), but it magnified the chassis balance of our quartet, so the exercise proved hugely informative, and was definitely a lot of fun…


    THE RIVALS

    So, which rivals to pitch against the M135i? From the Japanese corner, we chose the allnew Civic Type R, which starts at a fiver under £30k, and boasts 310hp and 295lb ft of torque from its 2.0-litre turbocharged fourpot, which means a brisk 0-62 time of 5.7 seconds and a very precise top speed of 167.8mph. We also brought along the #Subaru #WRX STI, taking a different approach to the typical ‘choose a group of FWD hot hatches’ method. With a similar power output, price point and the only one with a rear spoiler to rival the Civic’s, the latest WRX should be on the list for anyone considering buying a £30k performance family car. As should the Volkswagen Golf R. Whilst mechanically similar to the bewinged Scooby – also fourwheel drive, 300hp – it’s difficult to think of a more divergent philosophical approach. Where the Subaru is all boisterous rally rep, the Golf remains the sober-suited sophisticate. Both should be a stiff test for the M135i.


    And that’s a car that needs no introduction in this magazine. We’re huge fans of the hottest non-M hatchback and it’s been wowing us since day one, which is a good thing because we couldn’t get hold of the face-lifted version from BMW at short notice, but luckily our good friends at Evolve stepped in to loan us their original example, so huge thanks go to all the guys there. With a lightning-fast eight-speed auto on board and a 320hp turbocharged straightsix under the bonnet, the M135i will launch from 0-62mph in just 4.9 seconds and won’t stop until you’re nudging the 155mph speed limiter (it’s true, we’ve been there). It’s similarly priced to its class rivals but offers the sort of pure rear-wheel driving thrills that front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive just can’t match.


    BEHIND THE WHEEL

    And so to the track. We decide to conduct some impromptu acceleration tests. Although the manufacturers’ own figures give us an idea of what to expect, we are particularly interested to discover how easy (or not – yes, we’re looking at you Subaru) they are to launch. We also want to push the cars up to, and beyond, their limits on track to see just how ‘hot’ those hot hatch credentials really are, and to see where the car of the moment sits in amongst this lot.


    The M135i has the strongest powertrain – in a straight line it simply cruises away from anything else here – and it’s a joy to use, thanks to the sonic qualities of the straight-six and the fantastic #ZF eight-speed auto, which is crisp and responsive. The engine is the star of the show, delivering massive lagfree low-end torque that’s spread wide across the rev range and it pulls hard all the way to the redline with an intoxicating straight-six howl. As far as outright performance is concerned the M135i is a beast. It’s a beauty when it comes to the corners, and while it’s most definitely designed as a road car rather than a track day escapee, the chassis is wonderfully balanced, the steering precise and full of feel and it requires very little effort to drive very quickly. Where the Honda is feisty and frenetic, the BMW is cultured and mature; it’s possibly the most grown-up car here and while it might not be as ultimately sharp on track as the Type R, for example, it’s still massively fun to drive, not least in part thanks to being RWD. Power oversteer is never far away if you want it; the E-diff does its best to ape an LSD but there’s no beating the real deal for controllability, though it’s far from a deal breaker. While its rivals might be a little sharper on track, the combination of outright performance and RWD adjustability make the M135i a package that’s hard to beat and as allrounder road car, it’s even harder to beat.

    HOW THE OTHERS COMPARE

    The Type R is by far the most track-focused car here. The seats are sensational – comfortable and supportive. The wheel offers lots of adjustment and the pedals are almost ideal – my only gripe is that there is a touch too much distance between the brake and accelerator. The engine is great. Of course it lacks the aural thrill of the M135i but in terms of power delivery and character it certainly delivers. Sub-3000rpm it feels a bit laggy but keep the revs up and the power delivery builds and builds and it revs all the to way to 7000rpm. It sounds fine – it’s hardly inspiring, but it’s an aggressive, tough, mechanical note that suits the car, though it can’t hold a candle to the M135i for aural satisfaction.


    With 300hp on tap the front Continentals can get a substantial workout, so Honda employs a clever ‘dual axis strut’ system to dial out torque steer – 50% less than the standard Civic, and it works well. The limited-slip diff aids traction and the steering remains faithfully precise unless you’re deliberately clumsy with the throttle in a slow corner at which point it’s quite possible (in the wet at least) to light up both front tyres and head straight on regardless of which way the wheels are pointing. It’s an impressive car but falls short of the M135i’s rounded character and blistering performance.


    Conditions like this should play right into the hands of the remaining four-wheel drive contingents, so I jump into the Scooby next to see if a wet track will reveal a more engaging side to its dynamic makeup. The initial impression is good. The seats are comfortable and suitably sporting, the Alcantara wheel falls nicely to hand and the gearshift feels positive. The cabin might look a bit dated but we’re concerned with what’s going on outside today. Getting the Scooby off the line briskly proves tricky because of the laggy nature of the power delivery, with lots of revs and clutch slipping required.


    Find yourself in the wrong gear and it seems to take an age before the boost arrives, then power comes in a torrent from 4000rpm to the 6500rpm cut out. It’s exciting but makes it tricky to get the best out of it. The WRX’s biggest problem is revealed when pushing ten-tenths on track. The initial heft to the steering disappears under pressure and washes out into understeer, cured only by trimming the throttle or a dose of handbrake.

    With the inconsistent steering delivering little in the way of feel, no rear limited-slip diff, and precious little throttle adjustability the WRX proves a bit one dimensional on track. Whilst there’s fun to be had in its frenetic delivery, and you can lean on the four-wheel drive traction, it lacks the biddable nature to satisfy a keen driver.


    Which leaves us with one more protagonist in the German corner: the VW Golf R. You’d be forgiven for thinking the Golf might be a bit dull, for the elegant-butrestrained exterior merely hints at the R’s 300hp powertrain, but a few laps of the sodden track reveals a really enjoyable car.

    It finds great front end grip so you can hustle it into the apex more often than not, and there’s enough poise and adjustability to bring the rear into play if you want. The Golf’s Haldex four-wheel drive system ensures terrific traction, although it never quite manages to oversteer under power – the system is set up to send power to the rear only when the front loses traction. It’s nicely damped and the quick steering feels natural and intuitive and it’s a hugely enjoyable car on track.

    VERDICT

    Well, there are no prizes for figuring out the clear winner amongst these four. While the other German and Japanese rivals put up a good fight, ultimately the M135i remains the hot hatch to have.

    While the Honda is rather more hardcore and feels like a more focused machine, and the Subaru and Golf offer the sort of grip and traction you’d only get from a 4WD machine, the M135i is the best all-round machine.

    We found the engine to be magnificent, the chassis beautifully balanced and as an all-round package that can deliver white-knuckle B-road thrills and then cruise in comfort on the motorway and return over 30mpg, it remains the one to beat.

    The combination of outright performance and RWD adjustability make the M135i a package that’s hard to beat.

    2015 #Honda-Civic-Type-R / #Honda-Civic / #Honda
    0-62MPH: 5.7 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 167mph
    PRICE: £29,995

    2015 #Volkswagen-Golf-R / #Volkswagen-Golf-VII / #Volkswagen-Golf-R-VII / #Volkswagen-Golf
    0-62pmh: 5.1 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 155mph
    PRICE: £30,820

    2015 #BMW-M135i-F20 / #BMW-M135i
    0-62MPH: 4.9 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 155mph
    PRICE: £32,685 (2013)

    2015 #Subaru-Impreza-WRX-STi / Subaru / #Subaru-WRX / #Subaru-Impreza / #Subaru /
    0-62MPH: 5.2 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 159mph
    PRICE: £28,995

    BMW M135i is the most grown-up car here and doesn’t shout about its incredible performance credentials.

    The M135i has the strongest powertrain – in a straight line it simply cruises away from anything else here.
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    CROSSING THE LINE

    One of the most spectacular builds we’ve seen in a long time, this #BMW-M135i is quite unlike anything else. Words: Elizabeth de Latour /// Photos: Henry Phull @ Slam Sanctuary

    When Bruce Gowans said he had plans for his M135, he wasn’t lying. A year ago, this car was candy red with a modest boot build and Watercooled Industry wheels and now, well, it’s pretty much unrecognisable. There’s modifying your car and then there’s forging ahead with an absolute vision that’s uncompromised and single-minded in its intent. This car is what happens when someone makes that vision a reality.

    There is no typical modified BMW owner, and Bruce certainly fits into that non-box of atypicality. He is of the ‘older’ generation, shall we say, and resides in a tiny village in the heart of the Bedfordshire countryside, a million miles away from the frenetic and eclectic world that is the modified BMW scene. But this mechanical engineer has a heart that pumps pure petrol and has spent his entire life flitting from modified car to modified car, with an underlying appreciation for BMW but never the opportunity to indulge that interest in Bavarian metal until he acquired this M135i. “I’ve been interested in BMWs ever since I was a lad and grew up into a petrolhead! I’ve been a fan since the first E30 M3 and seeing an E9 coupé on neighbour’s drive when I walked to school and thinking how cool it looked. I bought the M135i, my first BMW, for its ‘performance for the price’ factor and because the drivetrain, the engine and the transmission are such a great combination in this vehicle. I bought it brand-new in 2013 and was going to keep it stock…”

    “Both Shakey and I thought that translating this design into a vinyl wrap would be a nigh-on impossible task”

    Digital audio explained:

    “The system in this car was spec’d to accommodate Bruce’s passion for high resolution audio. It’s cutting edge in the fact it can play any file format he wants and samples up to 196khz with bit depths of up to 24-bit. When you consider a CD (still reference in so many studios) samples at 44.1khz at 16-bit, that’s a huge amount more information. Of course, all of the car’s OEM equipment and functionality is retained and played through the new system alongside solid state hard drives, wireless streaming and various other inputs.”
    Carl Shakespeare, Director, Studio Incar

    Clearly that didn’t happen. It seems like the car was stock for all of five minutes before Bruce had started tinkering and while the mods started off sensibly and in a restrained manner, once the momentum began to build there was clearly no stopping Bruce (or the M135i). “The first mod was to get a new exhaust developed and fitted by Scorpion Exhausts. Then Luke and the guys at Plush supplied and fitted the air-ride, sourcing components from AirREX and an eLevel system from Accuair. This was closely followed by a carbon-fibre front splitter from SSDD,” he says. “Spring 2014 brought a change in colour, with a candy red colour wrap from Avery called True Blood.


    New MD1 wheels from Watercooled Industries were added, closely followed by a Juice Box 4 (JB4) piggyback ECU from Burger Motorsports and a decat downpipe which were fitted at #Performance-Developments in Sunderland. The car went to #Forge-Motorsport in #Gloucester to have one of its high-performance intercoolers fitted, along with one of its dump valves.” With all those mods on board, it made 400hp and 450lb ft of torque on the dyno and considering how blisteringly quick the standard M135i is, that’s going to be more than enough power to keep Bruce happy. “After having the traction control kick in once too often, I took the decision to fit a limited-slip diff to the car. Options were thin on the ground for this platform but Birds in Iver, Buckinghamshire developed a Quaife ATB for it, which has made a massive difference to the way the car drives.”


    And that is where the story would end for most people. A dramatic wrap, some exceedingly nice wheels, air-ride and some performance mods. A fine selection of upgrades. Job done. But that’s not where this story ends, as you can clearly see. “At the end of 2014 I planned to make some big changes to the car and started speaking to Carl Shakespeare at Studio Incar about my plans,” he explains. “We discussed my ideas for a rear-seat delete and a high-end audio installation and things just got out of hand. I had already decided to try and get a BTCC body kit. I contacted West Surrey Racing and negotiated with the guys there to buy a genuine race car kit from their 2014/15 BMW 1 Series race car. However, fitting it proved more difficult than you might think! The BTCC cars have front and rear subframes and crash structures that are specified by TOCA and these also provide mounting points for the front and rear body panels. These didn’t match up with the mounting and fixing points that BMW specify! It required the rear wings to be cut and tubbed – scary stuff! Luckily, Stylehaus in Northampton has some serious skills and brought the whole thing together.


    “Shakey project managed the whole build with input from me, like my suggestion for the triple tank setup. Once the car was back from the bodyshop, and with a little bit of extra fettling by Fibreglass Phil in Kent (the manufacturer of the BTCC kit), the audio and air install could begin in earnest.” With a bit of direction from Bruce, Shakey was free to run riot inside the M135i. The end result is an interior that feels like it’s very much been built around the air and audio and one look inside leaves you in no doubt that this car’s main purpose is to astound. The rear seats have been removed completely, replaced by the awesome triple floating tank setup that looks like a spaceship, illuminated from above and hovering over the massive 15” Hertz Mille sub which forms part of the incredibly high-end digital audio install, while the rear load space is home to the three Audison amps, on display in a beautifully designed enclosure. There’s acres of Alcantara in here, which reaches up to cover the roof lining as well, while some extremely sexy custom door pods are home to Hertz Mille speakers. Finally, a custom panel in the centre console (also trimmed in Alcantara) houses the controllers for the audio system and the air suspension. It’s one of the most spectacular, special and perfectly-executed builds we’ve ever seen and it’s nothing short of a work of art.


    With such a spectacular build going on, the right wheels were going to be absolutely essential and Bruce was keen to move away from the usual suspects, like BBS and Rotiform, and try something different. “I had been in touch with Brada wheels in the States for a year or so, originally to try and get some wheels for my GT3,” he says. “I spoke to Zane and we agreed a design and spec for the wheels that were destined to go on the BMW. However, because the car was away having the body kit fitted, Shakey and I could only make an educated guess as to what the exact widths and offsets of the wheels would be, with us only knowing what the overall width of the BTCC car is and working back from those dimensions…” It can be hard enough to work out your exact wheel specs when you’ve got your car in front of you so this was most definitely a risky strategy but it worked and the resulting wheels are the perfect fit for the M135i. Bruce opted for Brada’s BR1 crossspokes with gloss black centres, matt black lips and stainless steel bolts in 9.5x19” at the front and 10.5x19” at the rear, the fitment perfect for tucking the wheels under the massive arches when the car is aired out.


    In terms of styling, the kit alone wasn’t enough for Bruce and he decided to take things to the next level. “The wrap design wasn’t established until quite late in the build. I have always been a fan of the BMW Art Car projects but picking a design to base the wrap for the M135i was tricky. Several of the Art Cars are ‘challenging’, to say the least,” he laughs, “but this Frank Stella design from 1976 was selected – it appealed to my inner engineer! Both Shakey and I thought that translating this design into a vinyl wrap would be a nigh-on impossible task, since the original consisted of lots of parallel horizontal and vertical lines; the hardest thing to do with vinyl wrap… Carl contacted JD Wraps in Essex and a deal was struck. When I collected the car a week later I was amazed. The guys had done an awesome job.” The combination of kit and wrap is one that is both single-handedly responsible for the utterly insane amount of attention this car garners but is also the most polarising aspect of the whole project. Some people love the wrap but hate the kit. Some people hate the kit but love the wrap. Some people hate them both. And some people like everything that this car has got going on! However you feel, it’s a talking point and gets the car noticed. Bruce loves it, however, which ultimately is the most important thing.


    Amazingly, all this work took just six months, really not long at all considering just how much has gone into the build and how complete the transformation has been. Bruce chose the Players Classic show for the car’s unveiling. It got as much attention as you’d expect and the sort of reactions you’d expect. “It seems to be very much a ‘Marmite’ car!” Bruce tells us. More importantly, though, he can now sit back and actually enjoy the car. Beyond the looks and the next-level interior, he’s got a fast, powerful car that’s great to drive, with an incredible sound system. It’s a package that just begs to be taken out on the road and enjoyed and, in fact, that’s now his only plan for the future.

    DATA FILE #2015 #BMW-M135i-F21 / #BMW-M135i / #BMW-F21 / #BMW / #Brada-BR1

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six turbo #N55B30 / #N55 , JB4 piggyback ECU from #Burger-Motorsport , #Scorpion full exhaust including a decat downpipe, #Forge / #Forge-FMIC / , #Forge-DV , stock #ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox #ZF8HP , #Quaife ATB LSD from #Birds

    CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 10.5x19” (rear) #Brada BR1 three-piece wheels with gloss black lips, matt black faces and stainless hardware, with 235/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) #Goodyear Eagle Asymmetric 2 tyres, #AirREX air-ride and Accuair eLevel management

    EXTERIOR #BMW-M-Performance carbon fibre wing mirror shells, #BMW M Performance black front grilles, #BTCC body kit from WSR, Art Car wrap by #JD-Wraps

    INTERIOR Interior by #Studio-Incar , full digital audio install comprising Audison AV Quattro amp x2, Audison AV Uno amp, Audison bit Ten D processor, #Audison bit Play HD source, #Hertz-Mille three-way front end, Hertz Mille 15” sub, rear seat delete, custom air installation, Alcantara roof lining, integrated audio and suspension controllers built in to the centre console

    THANKS Studio Incar and Shakey in particular for handling this project and for keeping my spirits up when I needed it, Zane and Jacob at Brada, Myles and Chris at Brada UK, Fibreglass Phil, Scorpion Exhausts, Forge Motorsport, the guys at Stylehaus, Luke Massy, Phil James, Kat and the team at JD Wraps, Voodoo Elie for getting me out of a tricky situation, and last but not least, Ed Hamilton at JK Engineering for being a great friend, being just as daft as me and as big a petrolhead as me!
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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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