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    HOT STUFF M140i DRIVEN

    We get behind the wheel of BMW’s hottest non-M hatch.

    It might be living in the shadow of the M2 but the M140i is almost as much car for a lot less money. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Gus Gregory.

    What’s great about driving the M140i is that your expectations are kept at a very reasonable level. We remember the #BMW M135i blowing us away when we first sampled it, and that too was approached with enthusiasm but few expectations. Since then the M2 has come along and while 35i has become 40i across the board, accompanied by an increase in power and performance, it’s merely a warmed- up 1 Series compared with its big-arched, fullblown M cousin.

    So why is it that driving this unassuming M140i has left us baffled? It just feels so fast. We were expecting it to feel fast because it is fast, but not this fast. It actually feels faster than the M2, which seems as bizarre, but that’s the sensation you get from behind the wheel. The reasons for the M140i’s surprising turn of pace are twofold. First, the gearbox. The nowfamiliar eight-speed unit is as good today as it was when we first sampled it, shifting seamlessly between ratios when left to its own devices and delivering near-instant upshifts and downshifts when operated in manual mode. It’s always in the right gear for any given situation and, in the unlikely event that it’s not, it’s always eager to drop a gear or two, which means that every time you prod the throttle you’re rewarded with an immediate response from the engine. The manual, which was fitted to the M2 we drove, is great but the auto is faster.

    The second reason why the M140i feels so quick is to do with the numbers it’s putting down. With 340hp it’s 30hp down on the M2 but, where the latter develops peak power at 6500rpm, the M140i makes peak power 1000rpm sooner. What really makes a difference, though, is the torque; normally, the M2 produces 343lb ft of torque, with this rising to 369lb ft under full throttle when overboost engages, but the M140i makes 369lb ft all the time. That 26lb ft advantage comes into play much earlier than the M2’s 30hp advantage and it means that, even under light throttle openings, the M140i feels massively eager and hugely responsive. In absolute terms, the more powerful M2 is quicker but the difference isn’t one you’d notice out in the real world.

    The dramatic 1 Series face-lift has resulted in a more universally appealing car that’s more elegant and dynamic than its chubby-cheeked predecessor. And the M Sport additions certainly give it a sense of sculpted muscularity.

    But in reality it’s an unassuming car. Yes, it wears 18s and has a smattering of Ferric grey details across the exterior but, at the end of the day, it’s a narrow body five-door hatch. And while there are hints of what it might be capable of, it’s really not a million miles away from an M Sport diesel. The vast majority of other road users won’t know or care what you’re driving, which means you can make discreet progress and have fun without being bothered.

    And that’s a good thing because this is a car you will be having a lot of fun in. Beyond the outright performance, the chassis is sharp and the M140i feels wonderfully crisp and responsive. The brakes are consistent and strong and the whole package feels wonderfully complete, inspiring confidence and encouraging you to drive it quickly like few other cars.

    At about £10k less than the M4, the M2 is an exceptional machine and offers astonishing value for money but, at about £10k less than the M2, the M140i is no less of an exceptional machine and also offers incredible value for money. In the real world, the M2’s performance advantage is moot and it’s the M140i that feels the quicker of the two; it might not have the looks, but it has just about everything else you could want. If you’re not a fan of the M140’s five-door body style, you could opt for the three-door or even the M240i, but the fact that you can have all of this performance wrapped up in a practical five-door package is definitely part of the appeal… and the M140i is a most appealing car. Whether or not you’d choose one over an M2 is something you need to work out for yourself. The M140i’s existence doesn’t suddenly make it difficult to recommend buying an M2, but it certainly does make you question buying anything else at this price point.

    DATA FILE #2017 / #BMW-F20 / #BMW-M140i / #BMW-M140i-F20 / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-F20 /

    ENGINE 3.0-litre straight-six #N55B30 / #BMW-N55 / #N55 /
    TRANSMISSION Six-speed manual, optional eight-speed automatic #ZF8HP
    WEIGHT (EU) 1525kg (1550*)
    MAX POWER 340hp @ 5500rpm DIN
    MAX TORQUE 369lb ft @ 1520-4500rpm DIN
    0-62MPH 4.8 (4.6*)
    TOP SPEED 155mph (limited)
    EMISSIONS (C02) 179g/km (163*)
    FUEL ECONOMY (MPG) 36.2 (39.8*)
    PRICE £32,405 (*) denotes automatic transmission
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    That a car built by the owners of S6 Wraps would be wrapped is no surprise but there are plenty of choice mods on this E92 that make it stand out from the crowd. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Adam Walker.

    ALL WRAPPED UP Wrapped and bagged E92 335i


    The E92 3 Series has one of the most appealing shapes going. It’s lovely and smooth, sleek, streamlined and perfectly proportioned. It still looks as good today as it did when it was launched back in 2006 but that’s not to say that it can’t be enhanced with a few tasty styling additions. The E92 has such a vast range of aftermarket support that it’s crying out to be modified, especially if it happens to be a 335i with that eminently tuneable turbo straight-six.

    That’s certainly what Dan Roache and Paige Walton, owners of S6 Wraps in Pickford, thought when buying their E92 335i but, then again, that’s no surprise considering it was always destined to be modified and built up into a show car. The pair have both owned and modified BMWs for the past four years, with a 120d and E91 320d having undergone dramatic transformations at their hands before the 335i came along. “We decided to sell both Paige’s E91 and my Audi TT to buy a joint car to turn into a show car and we knew it was going to be this 335i,” says Dan. “Paige’s uncle owned it from new, and since I had a ride in it on the first day he got it I knew I wanted to buy it from him when he was finished with it. He called me one day and gave me the first refusal so we couldn’t say no.” With the intention always being to modify the 335i, Dan and Paige had actually started buying parts before they had even bought the car, and work began almost immediately.


    As we’re sure you well know, the turbocharged straight-six in the 35i models is so keen to make more power that you’d be silly not to turn the wick up a touch, and the later single turbo N55B30 as fitted here is no less receptive to a bit of underbonnet tinkering than its twin-turbo predecessor. “The second week of owning the car we took it over to our friend Badger at Hard Knocks Speed Shop for a full custom 3” stainless exhaust system with a cat-less downpipe and the rest straight-through with just a back box and 4” tips,” says Dan. These would help the engine breathe and bring some extra ponies to the party but there was still more to come. “We got chatting with Burger Tuning who sent us the JB4 and BMS intake direct from the States, and our friends at Forge helped us out to get the FMIC changed for a bigger one and the car is now running approximately 400hp,” which a nice increase over the stock output of 306hp for not much effort.

    Belonging to a wrap company meant that the E92 was destined to be wrapped and aesthetics were always going to be an important aspect of the build for a company whose primary focus is how cars look. “We have always been into the clean and simple styling with nice subtle mods like carbon fibre,” says Dan, “so we knew straight away what direction we were going with the car.” That’s the sort of approach to styling that works really well with the E92’s natural clean lines. The pair’s taste for carbon fibre means that a few of the exterior elements have been touched by the exotic weave, with carbon grilles, carbon mirrors and a carbon boot spoiler plus the most impressive addition of all: the custom-fitted genuine E92 M3 carbon roof. In keeping with Dan and Paige’s appreciation of clean styling, the front bumper has been smoothed and then there’s the wrap. The colour is limited edition Avery Dennison Metallic Meteorite and it is insane; at first glance it looks like just another shade of grey but then the light hits it and you realise that it’s covered in a dazzling glitter flake, which really adds an extra dimension to the colour and definitely makes this E92 stand out.

    Such a dazzling colour deserves some suitably dazzling wheels and here Dan and Paige went for a set of fully polished 19” Rotiform TMBs for the car: “We wanted the car to be a head-turner so as soon as we saw the fully polished TMBs we couldn’t say no to them,” says Dan. “At the time Rotiform was the only way we wanted to go wheel-wise and the TMB design really suits the shape of the car.” They do look fantastic on the E92 but wheels are nothing without a drop and that’s where the Air Lift 3P kit comes in. “We would only use Air Lift on the E9x platform as it’s the safest and most reliable system you can buy,” says Dan, “and we also fitted new uprated rear arms.”

    Considering how spectacular the outside is you’d be forgiven for thinking that the interior would have a hard time topping that but, if anything, the interior is even more impressive. For starters, it’s finished in stunning Dakota red leather, which make such a nice change from boring old black and works perfectly with the grey exterior. The most impressive aspect of the interior is the addition of a pair of M4 front seats, which look fantastic, are incredibly comfortable and supportive and so much more special than even the E9x M3’s seats. The plan had actually originally been to fit a pair of Audi RS4 seats but Dan and Paige didn’t like the fact that it wouldn’t have been in-keeping with the OE look, so decided to stay within the BMW family and it was definitely the right decision. There’s also a BMW M Performance flatbottomed steering wheel, complete with matching Dakota red centre stripe, while the controller for the suspension has been neatly mounted in front of the centre armrest.


    You may have also noticed the custom doorcards, which house four speakers each plus a tweeter by the door mirrors. These form part of the serious audio install; one of Dan’s favourite modifications on the entire car. But you need to look in the boot to find the real meat of the audio upgrades. The twin air tanks have been mounted in the sides of the boot while the twin Viair compressors and Air Lift manifold sit in a recess in the boot floor. Then there’s the Audison bit One digital audio processor and mono block amp powering a pair of Gladen 10” subs mounted behind the rear seats, and a four-channel amp for the two sets of Rainbow 6.5 components and Harman Kardon speakers in the front doors. It’s clearly a serious audiophile setup that has not only been beautifully installed but we wager sounds pretty incredible too.

    A lot of work and thought has gone into this E92 but, amazingly, it only took two months to build from start to finish, with everything bar the custom exhaust having been done in-house at S6 Wraps. As far as future plans are concerned, there aren’t any, because the 335i is currently up for sale, but such is the life of a project car, especially when it’s a company demo build. But that does make it easier to move on and start the next project, which we anticipate is going to be something equally eye-catching.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E92 / #BMW-335i / #BMW-335i-E92 / #N55B30 / #BMW-N55 / #N55B30 / #N55 / #Rotiform / #Air-Lift-Performance / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E92

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six turbo #N55B30 , custom 3” turbo back de-cat exhaust system, #Forge-FMIC , #BMS intake, JB4 , six-speed auto gearbox

    CHASSIS 9x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) fully polished #Rotiform-TMB wheels with 215/35 (front) and 225/35 (rear) Falken tyres, #Air-Lift-Performance-3P air suspension, EBC RedStuff pads all-round

    EXTERIOR Full wrap in Avery Dennison Metallic Meteorite, smoothed front bumper, custom fit genuine E92 M3 carbon fibre roof, carbon fibre door mirrors, kidney grilles, #BMW-M-Performance spoiler

    INTERIOR M4 front seats retrimmed in Dakota red leather, custom doorcards with speaker pods housing two sets of 6.5 Rainbow components and Harman Kardon speakers, #BMW M Performance flatbottomed steering wheel, custommounted 3P controller, custom mounted Audison bit One controller, boot build for air-ride and audio including Audison bit One digital audio processor, Audison mono block amp, Audison four-channel amp, Gladen 10” subs mounted behind rear seats, twin air tanks, twin Viair compressors

    THANKS #S6-Wraps , Badger at Hard Knocks Speed Shop , #Burger-Tuning , #Forge-Motorsport

    “We knew straight away what direction we were going with the car”
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    AC Schnitzer M2 / #ACS2-Sport / #AC-Schnitzer-ACS2-Sport / #AC-Schnitzer-ACS2 / #BMW-F87 / #BMW-M2 / #BMW-M2-F87 / #BMW / #BMW-2-Series / #BMW-2-Series-F87 / #2016 /

    ENGINE 3.0-litre straight-six #N55B30 / #BMW-N55 / #N55 / #BMW / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe-F87 / #BMW-M2-AC-Schnitzer-ACS2 / #BMW-M2-AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-M2-AC-Schnitzer-F87 / #BMW-M2-AC-Schnitzer-ACS2-F87 / #BMW-2-Series-AC-Schnitzer / #AC-Schnitzer / #AC-Schnitzer-M2 /


    AC Schnitzer has revealed its full tuning programme for the M2 featuring a range of upgrades for BMW’s pocket rocket. A power upgrade is a given, and Schnitzer has extracted another 50hp from the turbocharged ‘six to give 420hp. This can be combined with Schnitzer’s upgraded chargecooler to provide a sustained, smooth power delivery.

    To ensure that it sounds as well as it goes Schnitzer has added a Sport silencer system complete with valve control with a choice of two different tailpipe trims. Fine handling is assured thanks to Schnitzer’s RS coilover setup which is fully height adjustable (30-40mm lower) and also features adjustable compression and rebound settings. For those wanting a less extreme setup there’s also a spring kit for the car, too.

    Exterior styling comprises a lower front spoiler extension, carbon front wing canards, a carbon rear diffuser and mirror covers and a choice of either a discreet rear lip spoiler or a rather more extreme ‘Racing’ rear spoiler. There are a variety of rims available in either 19- or 20-inch fitments including the forged AC1 in BiColour or matt anthracite. Type V and Type VIII wheels can also be specified, too. For further information and pricing contact AC Schnitzer.

    Contact: AC Schnitzer UK: www.ac-schnitzer.co.uk or AC Schnitzer Germany: www.ac-schnitzer.de
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    HIDDEN STRENGTH

    With its subtle looks, this 135i can slip under the radar, which is handy as it’s got 460whp on tap. This 135i might look fairly ordinary but appearances can be deceptive and there’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye… Words and photos: Chris Nicholls.

    Disappointment is sometimes a powerful motivator. Sports teams that lose the championship one year have been known to turn that negative feeling into a springboard that pushes them to win it the next. So it was with Pete Agas and his 135i.

    Initially, he wanted a 1M Coupé, but only 200 came to Australia and he missed out on the allocation. He didn’t let that get him down, though. Instead, he purchased an E82 135i and used the leftover funds to change almost every mechanical component to make it much faster than a stock 1M ever was.

    The story begins back in late 2012, when he first purchased this Alpine white example fresh from the dealer. Having been inspired to tune cars ever since his youth (when watching Stephen Spielberg’s debut feature – Duel – made him think about tuning cars so he could outrun a psychotic truck driver), Pete wasn’t going to leave it untouched for long, and after posting a few pictures of it in its factory state on his online build thread (complete with the caption: ‘stock… yuck’), he started to modify it to suit his tastes.

    As for those tastes? “I build, tune and customise my vehicles for performance over appearance,” he says, and as you can see, the finished car reflects that. APEX ARC-8 wheels, StopTech BBK, #Hartge silencer and M Performance carbon bits aside, there is no indication from the outside that this machine puts out 460whp at low boost and pounds around race tracks with ease. Even looking under the bonnet yields nothing to the casual observer, and unless they were looking hard, enthusiasts would only spot the AFE Magnum Force Stage 2 intake and M Performance Power Kit 2 as well. Almost everything that means anything is hidden on this build, and that’s the way Pete likes it, especially as it makes it that much easier to goad other, supposedly faster, cars into a little challenge. “I frequently drive around the South Yarra area in Victoria where there are plenty of beautiful Porsches. I may have completely decimated a couple of them in a quick squirt contest…” he says with a grin.

    Of course, his E82 didn’t become this fast overnight. Indeed, having missed out on a 1M, he initially wanted just to match that car’s handling, with pure grunt not really on the radar. And even then, for the first year, Pete only drove it around with limited mods. An M Performance exhaust and exterior bits and some Rays G25 wheels upped the game from stock, but they were hardly going to help Pete reach even his initial goal. That’s why, after that 12 months, he started amassing E9x M3 suspension parts in bulk, along with other bits and pieces, so he could be ready for the next stage.

    Those E9x parts included sway bars, control arms, bushings, camber link kit and strut tower brace, to which he added Swift springs. Having basically matched the 1M’s key suspension elements, Pete then moved onto the brakes, with M Performance discs, Cool Carbon brake pads and Hard Braking front titanium shims. For a little extra grunt, he added the aforementioned Power Kit 2 and controlled it via a Quaife 3.08 helical LSD in a VAC finned, clear anodised cover. A Burger Motorsports clutch delay valve and clutch stop helped in the driveline department as well. Finally, a few extra M Performance exterior and interior parts helped round it off. Until the most recent major upgrades, the diff was actually Pete’s favourite component as it improved traction no end. “The LSD just puts the power down without the e-Diff having a field day. It was easily the most notable change when driving the car back home from the workshop for the first time.” The fact the Quaife diff works with the stock traction control is a bonus, too, even if Pete doesn’t need it in the dry.


    Now, you might think at this stage, having reached his initial goal, Pete would be satisfied and call it a day. After all, he had already created a very quick, but still very usable road car. However, the fact you see this rather faster beast before you shows he wasn’t done. What prompted him to go further were two new discoveries. Firstly, having gone this far into the BMW tuning world, he’d found a “huge amount of aftermarket potential within the BMW brand”, as well as a highly supportive and knowledgeable community to go with it.

    Secondly, having built a track-oriented car, Pete was hardly likely to keep it purely on the road, and a visit to Phillip Island one day proved rather comprehensively that while strong, his build wasn’t perfect.

    “I quickly discovered the platform needed brakes and cooling,” Pete tells us. “I also learned very quickly of the possibility of a spun rod bearing when pushing wet-sumped platforms on the track, so I quickly picked up an oil pan baffle to prevent this from happening to me.”


    Having discovered these weaknesses, Pete also bolted on an oil cooler and decided that even the upgraded brakes he had weren’t going to cut it. So, as part of the final stage of mods, he purchased a StopTech BBK, with ST60 six-pot calipers on the front and ST40 four pots on the rears, matched with StopTech’s own Street Performance pads.

    These clamp down on with Trophy Sport two-piece slotted discs to provide a significant upgrade in braking ability. Indeed, these are now Pete’s new favourite parts. “The new brakes not only look great, but they have an amazing pedal feel, are completely modular and replaceable and have a huge range of available pads.”

    That they sit this high in his estimation is a big endorsement, given the rest of the upgrades he fitted at this stage. In the engine bay, he installed a Pure N55 Stage 2 turbo, an AR Design downpipe, Maddad midpipes and the aforementioned Hartge silencer on the hot side. He also fitted the previously mentioned AFE Magnum Force Stage 2 intake, an ETS five-inch intercooler and lower charge pipe, an Evolution Raceworks black anodised chargepipe and GFB N55 diverter valve upgrade on the cool side. Unsurprisingly, given the company’s reputation, a Dinan Stage 3 135iS tune controls the lot.

    To further enhance the car’s abilities on the track, Pete also added Dinan Racing adjustable rear toe arms, Dinan front control arm bushings, Turner Motorsport solid aluminium rear subframe bushings and Ohlins Road and Track dampers. Finally, some sticky Hankook RS-3s on those handsome APEX ARC-8 wheels put all the power to the ground.


    The results are quite startling. Given the sticky rubber and LSD, you’d think traction wouldn’t be a problem, but with TC off, Pete was able to spin up the wheels well into third gear on our short spot-shoot drive. “This is with the turbo at 15psi, remember,” Pete reminds us. “It’s capable of 27 or even 30psi. Frankly, I think it’d be undriveable on the street like that. I would need drag slicks or something.”

    He’s probably right. The biggest impact, though, came from the fact that the power just kept on coming. Starting from around 3000rpm, it genuinely didn’t stop until very close to the redline. Owners of modern, well-tuned turbo cars will no doubt be nodding along to this in recognition, but for those who haven’t experienced such a longlasting rush, it’s quite the memorable event.

    Thankfully, all of Pete’s suspension changes keep the car a lot more pinned to the ground, even if traction is a bit of an issue. It’s firm, no doubt, but even the harsh, sharp-edged bumps on Melbourne’s often lumpen roads didn’t jar particularly. It’s a testament to both the quality of the parts and Pete’s careful selections. “I like to think with the right amount of planning and research, most, if not all risks [when building a car] can be mitigated,” he says knowingly. “I checked, re-checked and triple-checked the parts that were chosen for the car and I paid very close attention to their fitment and quality before proceeding with the purchase. That research, coupled with the highly talented team over at SouthernBM (his chosen workshop), made the process easy.”

    So, having now built a sleeper that can not just match a 1M but surpass it in every measure (bar width), is Pete satisfied? Is he done? Of course he isn’t. Soon after the shoot, he fitted some Kerscher 1Mstyle front wings and eventually, plans to turn it into a roadregistered track car, complete with rear seat delete, half-cage, Recaro Pole Positions, lithiumion battery, Evolution of Speed N55 manifold, E85 tune and carbon bonnet.

    This would leave him without a daily driver, though, so what gives? Well, on 14 October last year, Pete watched the livestream as #BMW introduced the M2, and soon after, strode into his local dealership and ordered a manual one in Long Beach blue. We guess he never did get over the disappointment of the 1M after all…

    StopTech ST60 front BBK boasts 355mm discs and six-pot calipers, necessary when you’ve got 460whp to play with.


    DATA FILE #BMW-E82 / #BMW-135i / #BMW-135i-E82 / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-E82 /
    ENGINE 3.0-litre straight-six turbo #N55B30 / #N55 / #BMW-N55 , #M-Performance-Power-Kit-2 , #Pure-Stage-2 N55-turbo, Pure N55 inlet pipe, Evolution Racewerks N55 Type III Hard Anodised Black charge pipe, #AFE Magnum Force Stage 2 N55 intake, ETX 5” FMIC with lower chargepipe, GFB N55 diverter valve upgrade, #AR-Design N55 catted downpipe with ceramic coating, Maddad midpipes, Hartge quad-exhaust outlet silencer, 42 Draft Designs O2 sensor spacer, Dinan High Capacity oil cooler, Burger Motorsports oil catch can, JB4 ISO 5.9 with flex fuel wires - Map 6, Dimple Magnetic sump plug, Walbro 455 E85 Low Pressure Fuel Pump, Dinan Stage 3 Performance Engine Software map, VAC Motorsports N54 oil pan baffle

    TRANSMISSION Standard six-speed manual transmission, Burger Motorsports modified clutch valve, Burger Motorsports Short Throw clutch stop, Quaife 3.08 helical LSD, VAC Motorsports finned differential cover (clear anodised), Dimple Magnetic transmission plug (x2), Turner Motorsport Delrin differential bushings, E46 M3 transmission bushings

    CHASSIS 8.5x18” ET45 (front) and 9.5x18” ET62 (rear) #APEX-ARC-8-Hyper-Black wheels with 235/40 (front) and 265/35 (rear) Hankook Ventus RS-3 tyres, #Apex / #Apex-ARC-8 wheel stud conversion kit, #Project-Kics open-ended lug nuts, BMW E9x M3 strut tower brace, E92 M3 front and rear sway bars, E92 front upper and lower control arms, E92 rear upper control arms, E9x M3 rear lower camber link kit, Ohlins Road and Track dampers with E82 135i 7” 60Nm/MM Swift Springs (front) and E82 1M 9” 120Nm/MM Swift Springs (rear), Swift Thrust Sheets, Ohlins rear damper adjuster extenders, #Vorschlag camber plates, #Dinan-Racing adjustable rear toe arms, #Dinan Monoball front control arm bushings, #Turner-Motorsport aluminium subframe bushings, #StopTech ST60 #BBK with 355x32mm slotted, zinc-coated discs and StopTech Trophy Sport Aerohat hats (front) and #StopTech-ST40-BBK with 345x28mm slotted, zinc-coated discs and Trophy Sport Aerohat hats (rear), StopTech Street Performance pads, StopTech braided brake lines, calipers painted silver

    EXTERIOR M Performance front grille in black, M Performance carbon rear lip spoiler, BMW Blackline LCI taillights, 1M mirror conversion, Hartge dual outlet exhaust diffuser PU-RIM in gloss black, Carbon roundel decals, Philips Silver Vision indicator globes, T10 W5W Amber Chrome side indicator globes, Lux H8 V4 LED angel eyes, Final Inspection Rejuvenation Detail and Full Metal Jacket


    INTERIOR M Performance aluminium pedals, M Performance Alcantara steering wheel with yellow stripe, M Performance gear knob and Alcantara shift boot, M Performance handbrake handle and Alcantara boot, M Performance interior in carbon, M Performance illuminated door sills, Alcantara binnacle cover, JB4 Bluetooth module with Android integration, Precision LED E82 LED interior package, 35 per cent window tint

    THANKS Harold at HP Autosport, Andrew Brien and the crew at SouthernBM
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    THE SECOND COMING

    Can the M2 deliver the same sheer driving thrills as the 1M? There’s only one way to find out… The 1M rocked everyone’s world and now the M2 has descended from the heavens to deliver the people from mid-range performance mediocrity Words: Elizabeth de Latour /// Photos: #BMW

    When it was launched back in 2011, the 1M cost about £40,000; now, five years on, a 1M costs around… £40,000. That tells you pretty much everything you need to know about how popular the limited production hot coupé was, and still is.

    While BMW ended up producing rather a lot more cars than the 2700 it initially planned on, with a total of 6309 examples sold worldwide in the end, there were just 450 right-hand drive examples, which is at least part of the reason why second-hand prices remain so incredibly high. The other reason is that it was an absolutely awesome car; the press went mad for it, with praise being heaped on the car for delivering a driving experience akin to the E30 M3, albeit in a more modern guise. The 1M was snapped up by performance-hungry punters, delivered thrills to the chosen few and then it left us, and left us wanting. The 135i was good and the M135i and M235i, now the M140i and M240i, were even better but none of them delivered the same full-on, whiteknuckle driving experience that only a fullyfledged M car can. But now, all that changes with the arrival of the M2.

    First impressions couldn’t be better. It looks absolutely awesome, especially finished in lush and lustrous Long Beach blue, and I actually came out of the office to find one of my colleagues humping the back end of the test car we had in. Genuinely. The styling is on point, with those pumped up arches giving it an almost cartoonishly wide stance. Then you’ve got that swoopy and super aggressive front bumper, the surprisingly good-looking wheels and those shiny quad pipes at the back. It’s not the last word in finesse or delicacy, but it looks so right. The interior, nice as it is, has been singled out by pretty much everyone as a source of disappointment, and, sadly, we have to agree. It looks and feels good but what it doesn’t feel is special; the seats are identical to those in any 1 or 2 Series M Sport model, as is the steering wheels and gear knob. In fact, that only things that set the M2 apart from its lesser brethren are the suede gear knob gaiter and the interior trim, and that’s it. The seats are comfy and grippy, the steering wheel is the perfect size and the gear knob, so reminiscent of the E46 Sport’s example, fits perfectly in the palm of your hand, but, aside from the M2 logo that flashes up on the instrument cluster display when you get into the car, there’s nothing to remind you that you’ve just splashed out £45,000 on what’s meant to be a full-blown M car.

    It’s not a deal breaker, though. Fire up the M2 and it barks into life with a pleasing flourish of noise from those quad pipes and the noisy cold idle gives way to a more neighbour-friendly purr once the engine has warmed up. Noise plays a big part of the buying/owning/driving experience for any car enthusiast and here the M2 excels; where the switch from V8 to straight-six resulted in the F8x M3 and M4 sounding loud, blaring and angry but not especially sexy or alluring, the six-cylinder soundtrack is the perfect fit for the M2. The volume level is spot-on: it’s quieter than the S55 in the M3 and M4, but the engine and exhaust notes also sound more natural and pleasant as a result. It’s a lovely straight-six howl, well-rounded and, based on the soundtrack, you’d be hard-pressed to tell it was turbocharged if you didn’t know.


    For the M2, BMW has turned the wick up on the single-turbo N55 further still and it’s now putting out the sort of power and torque levels you’d expect from a remapped 35i. It now makes 370hp and 343lb ft of torque, 369 on overboost, enough for a 0-62 sprint of 4.5 seconds for the manual and 4.3 seconds for DCT-equipped cars, and the top speed is obviously limited to 155mph. The engine is very strong in the mid-range, with a big hit of torque right where you want it, but it loves to rev and to get the best out of it you really need to take each gear right to the upper reaches of the rev range.

    It never feels poop-your-pants fast, despite its impressive and, let’s not forget, E9x M3-beating-on-paper acceleration figures, but it’s as fast as you’d ever need a car to be and there’s no situation where you’ll find yourself wishing you had more power. It’s not as fast as the F8x M3 or M4, which feel ballistic, but with less power it’s actually better to drive.

    Firstly, and quite importantly, it delivers a far more analogue driving experience than most modern machinery; there’s no variable steering, no adjustable damping, no multiple modes and settings that need to be explored and examined before you can actually start driving the thing. The only thing you need to do is put it in Sport mode to sharpen up the throttle response, then decide how much traction control you want and you’re ready.

    Where the M3 and M4 struggle with traction even in ideal conditions, the M2 has no such trouble and, full-throttle first gear launches aside, it puts the power down without any fuss. It also flows beautifully when piloted along a fast, empty stretch of Tarmac and delivers real driving thrills, the sort that get your heart pumping and spread a broad grin across your face. It also feels incredibly planted; the suspension is firm, yes, but it’s incredibly well damped and is never upset by bumps and undulations in the road. It feels like it’s really attached to the road rather than about to go skipping off into a hedge when the going gets rough. The M2 is a really good car. It looks and feels fantastic to drive, is as quick as you could ever want a car to be, sounds good, delivers genuine driving thrills and does it all whilst costing over £10k less than an M4 and delivering a better driving experience. It really is about as good as it gets.


    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-F87 / #BMW-M2 / #BMW-M2-F87 / #BMW / #BMW-2-Series / #BMW-2-Series-F87 / #2016 /
    ENGINE 3.0-litre straight-six #N55B30 / #BMW-N55 / #N55 / #BMW / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe
    TRANSMISSION Six-speed manual, optional seven-speed #M-DCT / #DCT / #BMW-DCT /
    WEIGHT (EU) 1570kg (1595*)
    MAX POWER 370hp @ 6500rpm
    MAX TORQUE 343 (369) lb ft @ 1400-5560rpm
    0-62MPH 4.5 (4.3*)
    TOP SPEED 155mph (limited)
    EMISSIONS (CO²) 199g/km (185*)
    FUEL ECONOMY (MPG) 33.2 (35.8*)
    PRICE (OTR) £44,070
    (*) denotes M DCT transmission


    “It looks absolutely awesome especially finished in lush Long Beach blue”
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    TOTAL WHITEOUT
    A stunning matt white, wide-body BMW E92 335i. The E92 bar has been raised to sublime proportions with Carlos Molina’s dazzling matt white wide-body 335i. Words: Iain Curry. Photos: Eric Eikenberry.


    Perhaps the best news for us modifiers with the launch of the new F30 3-Series is the inevitable plummet in prices for the outgoing E9x models on the used market. So get yourself ready, soon these desirable fifth-gen Threes will be flooding the classified websites at prices more and more will be able to afford. That means it’s the time to get some modifying plans in place, and if you’re after a bit of inspiration, it’d be a good idea to look west to America and witness some of the latest E90/2 creations currently leading the scene.

    Carlos Molina Jr. will be a name familiar to many reading PBMW, as his cars and modifying exploits have been widely publicised on the internet and in magazines. His killer E46 show car has been long on the scene since its SEMA 2008 introduction, but inevitably Carlos was tempted by a new project by 2011, this time based on the then current E92 Coupé.

    In its sweetest of sweet-six engine guise, an E92 335i with a twin-turbocharged 3.0- litre is a talented platform to start work on. Carlos took the plunge and put his order in, ready to get busy with a Prior Design body kit he’d spied. “I saw glimpses of a full widebody kit on the internet, and was told that no one in the US had the full kit,” he said.

    This chance at exclusivity convinced Carlos to commit to the German Prior Design offering, and just one peek at the spectacular body is enough to convince most that he made the right choice. Here is an E92 that successfully maintains its attractive factory styling, but adds muscles in exactly the right places. And sat on those achingly good-looking concave polished-lip DPEs with barely-there rubber bands wrapped round them, it’s a show-stopper both on the street and in the modified car halls.

    Once Carlos had decided on the widebody, he was introduced to Michael Borja from Rollin’ Art who’d have a big say in the dramatic final results you see today. “Mr Borja was known for his meticulous painting ability, especially with matt paints,” Carlos said. “We discussed the build, and decided on a Bianco Fugi white matt pearl.”

    And what a choice it was. Fresh, contemporary and very, very sexy, this matt white hue emphasises the aggressive curvature of the wide-body and, especially under show lights and street lights, you’re left in little doubt that this is a very special BMW. The body work has been meticulously carried out, with the metal work of the rear wheel wells given relief cuts and then shaped to the glass fibre Prior Design wide-arch for added reinforcement.

    The full kit comprises the fattened arches, side skirts, front and rear bumpers and the vented and bulged bonnet. With subtle Prior Design wings for the bootlid and roof, the look is certainly not too over-the-top, more a case of elegant aggression. Such a style is seen on the likes of BMW’s new M6, with its factory 20-inch wheels sharing much in the way of desirable style with Carlos’ 20-inch DPE rolling stock.


    The wheels sit on Tein adjustable Super Sport coilover suspension for the required slammed stance, and this thing will be a mean handler with the Whiteline front and rear anti-roll bars acting as back up. The DPEs also allow plenty of vision for the anchors behind, consisting of Rotora 14-inch discs clenched by Rotora six-pots up front and four-pots at the rear. Powdercoating these white adds even more flair behind the rims, while H2 ceramic brake pads ensure the full complement is there for pulling up promptly when this E92’s fettled powerplant is properly exercised.

    While Carlos was discussing plans with Rollin’ Art in Las Vegas, it became clear that the rest of the car needed to match the level of the body. “The discussion did not end with the exterior,” he said. “I wanted the interior, engine and audio extensively worked, too.” This has been achieved and then some. Little wonder then that this E92 had more than a few crowds around it at the Accele booth at the giant SEMA show.

    Starting with the cabin, this is a plush masterpiece dripping in Alcantara and carbon fibre, with the stand-out ACE Custom Steering blue steering wheel breaking up the classy blacks and greys. In true old-school racer fashion the front seats are Cobra carbon fibre items re-wrapped in Rollin’ Art diamond stitch while the surrounding gaiters, headliner and interior pillars are Alcantara. Throw in an Active Autowerke polished aluminium gear knob, NRG carbon handbrake and UUC carbon race pedals and Carlos has a sublime area to go to work in. You’ll also find parts of the mighty ICE install in here too.

    There’s an Accele rear view mirror with integrated screen, and who doesn’t like a bit of personal voyeurism when out enjoying an enthusiastic drive? Check out the Accele mini video camera pointed at the driver, just to log all the fun goings-on this E92 offers.

    Moving under the bootlid and there’s a veritable party to discover. Once again there are acres of Alcantara for some classy lining, and it looks superb surrounding not one but two 19-inch Accele monitors. One of these is for the bootlid’s inside while the second, on the back of the rear seats, is split into four sections to display the view from the different cameras this car features. Amps, subs and a Sony PS3 all add to the beautifully lit and presented boot install, one that even the harshest of show judges would struggle to not award top marks to.

    Now that could have been that for Carlos’ E92, and we couldn’t have blamed him if the fantastic combination of six-speed manual gearbox mated to the multi-award winning 3.0-litre twin-turbo proved ample in the performance department. Not so.


    “While all the aesthetics were being upgraded at Rollin’ Art, I turned to my good friend Chad Stett, owner of Stett Performance, for some engine goodies,” Carlos said. “He provided a new dual intake, charge pipe, oil cooler and upgraded vacuum reservoirs I’d suggested. No performance upgrade there, but they sure do look great next to all the other Stett Performance items powdercoated red in the engine bay.”

    Yes, it’s pretty showy under that bonnet too with various Stett red flashes, plus there’s a BMW badged Axis Power Racing carbon fibre engine cover and braided hoses. Well, you didn’t expect it just to be dull factory plastic engine shrouds did you? As tasty as the under-bonnet aesthetics are, there’s plenty of substance to match the style.


    The boosted six-cylinder features a Nitrous Express nitrous system with the various associated accoutrements, while a full custom exhaust by SuperSport has been fabricated to work with the Prior Design bodykit. AFE has provided the downpipe and throttle body, while a Race Precision front-mounted intercooler helps keep temperatures down more effectively than the stock item not designed for the healthy leap in power here. There was also good cause to beef the transmission up too, with Centreforce providing a performance clutch and lightened flywheel to handle the increased load.

    The end result of all this? Well, it’s fantasy stuff really. The finished article is one of the finest examples of E92 tuning we’ve ever seen and is a credit to Carlos and his many sponsors and supporters involved in the build. His wide-body 2011 335i demands your attention even at a show as outrageous as SEMA and, crucially, here’s a modified #BMW that has pride of place in a show booth, tearing through the city streets under neon lights, or even out on your favourite country road thanks to its comprehensive performance and chassis enhancements.

    So there’s your inspiration. The E9x model prices are on the tumble and with examples like Carlos’ 335i to aspire to we hope to see plenty more flooding our scene in the near future. This perfectly-painted wide-body may have had more coin spent on it than most modifiers can stretch to, but we hope to see more of its ilk from those brave enough to attempt it. However, for now we’re just happy to sit back and enjoy this masterwork in all its pearly matt white glory.

    DATA FILE #BMW-E92 / #BMW-335i / #BMW-335i-E92 / #2011 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #N55B30 / #N55 / #BMW-N55 / #ESS-Tuning / #BMW-E92-Widebody / #BMW-E92-Prior-Design / #DPE /

    ENGINE: 3.0-litre twin-turbo in-line-six cylinder with #SuperSport full custom exhaust made for #Prior-Design body kit, AFE downpipe and throttle body, #Nitrous-Express remote bottle opener, purge valve kit, bottle pressure gauge, #GENX-2 accessory kit and #IntraCooler kit, Axis #Power-Racing carbon fibre engine cover, #NRG carbon fibre valve cover, bulkhead cover, PS loop cover and panel covers, Race Precision front-mounted intercooler and Ram Air scoop system, Stett Performance / #ESS-Tuning-ECU mapping, Stett Performance twin intake version 2 powdercoated Stett red, charge pipe version 2 powdercoated #Stett red with #Tial blow-off valve, #Stett-Performance carbon fibre catch can, oil cooler system, stainless steel vacuum reservoirs powdercoated Stett red and intake duct block-off plate

    TRANSMISSION: Six-speed manual with Centreforce performance clutch and lightened flywheel

    CHASSIS: 10x20” (front) and 11x20” (rear) #DPE-CS5 super concave three-piece wheels shod in 255/30 (front) and 285/25 (rear) Toyo T1R tyres. Tein adjustable Super Sport coilover suspension, #Whiteline front and rear anti-roll bars, Powerflex control arm bushes, Rotora 14-inch brake discs, #Rotora six-pot calipers (front) and four-pot calipers (rear) powdercoated white by Rollin’ Art, Rotora SS brake lines and H2 ceramic pads

    EXTERIOR: #Prior-Design wide-body conversion, front bumper, boot lip spoiler, window wing, rear bumper, bonnet, front fenders, rear fender flares and side skirts, Rollin’ Art Bianco Fugi white full body respray

    INTERIOR: Cobra carbon fibre race seats re-wrapped in Rollin’ Art diamond stitch, ACE Custom Steering steering wheel, Active Autowerke polished aluminium gearshift knob, Accele rear view mirror with integrated screen, Accele mini video camera pointed at driver, NRG carbon fibre handbrake and 16- piece interior kit, Rollin’ Art Alcantara suede gearshift gaiter, handbrake gaiter, headliner, boot liner and A- and C-pillars, UUC carbon fibre race pedals

    ICE: Accele 19-inch boot monitor (split into four sections for the different cameras in car), 19-inch bootlid monitor, rear view mirror with monitor on rear view, hidden switches, actuators, FM modulator, video amplifier, video switcher and rear view camera, Sony PS3, Diamond Audio twin 12-inch subs, components, mono amp and four-channel amp, Street Wires 2* chrome cap and Street Wires audio/visual wiring throughout

    THANKS: Eric Eikenberry for helping to get my vehicles in print, Mike Borja @ Rollin’ Art for the paint and transport, Chad Stett @ Stett Performance for support and developing the vacuum reservoirs, Stan Chen @ Toyo Tires for over 12 years of tyre support, Will Baty @ CenterForce for using the 335 as a test vehicle for future upgrades, Eloy Way @ Race Precision for believing in the build since SEMA ’07, Andreas Belzek @ Prior Design, Brian Paille @ Accele for supporting another BMW build, Bob Chanthavongsa @ Diamond Audio for last minute audio support
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    BMW has added to its range of #M-Performance vehicles with the announcement of the latest hot Sports Activity Coupé, the new X4 M40i. #BMW-X4-M40i / #BMW-X4 / #BMW / #2015 / #BMW-F26 / #BMW-X4-M40i-F26 / #BMW-X4-F26 / #N55B30T0 / #N55B30 / #N55 /

    BMW has revealed the details on its range-topping M Performance X4, the M40i, and it looks like it will be a blistering performer. Under its bonnet will be a new version of the turbocharged 2979cc straight-six that’s seen service in a large number of BMWs and it’s perhaps interesting to note that this is the older engine, not the new Baukasten modular unit that’s just been released in the new 340i. #BMW says that there is some shared componentry between the engine in the M40i and the S55 in the M3 and M4 so that would probably account for why the new modular unit hasn’t been used.

    The BMW X4 M40i does have a set of impressive vital statistics; 360hp at 5800-6000rpm, 343lb ft of torque from 1350 to 5250rpm, a 0-62mph time of 4.9 seconds and a limited top speed of 155mph. Despite these impressive figures it’ll return a claimed 32.8mpg and emits 199g/km of CO2. The TwinPower turbo ‘six is mated to a standard fit eightspeed Steptronic ‘box that we’re familiar with from the rest of the range but it’s been specially tuned for this M Performance model and will also feature shift paddles and launch control. To ensure it sounds as good as it performs BMW has also equipped the M40i with an M Performance tuned exhaust that also features intelligent valve control so it’s quiet on a cruise but more vocal when being extended.

    While the chassis in the X4 is an excellent basis it’s needed a little fine-honing for this M Performance machine and as a result BMW has fitted stronger springs and anti-roll bars, increased the camber on the front axle and added the adaptive dampers that have been specifically tuned to M Performance spec. It also features xDrive with a rear wheel-drive bias and Performance Control and the brakes have been uprated to cope with the additional performance.

    Externally it features the same M aero kit as the regular M Sport model but the M40i has a couple of ferric grey inserts in the front bumper and mirror caps in the same colour while at the rear the X4 M40i has a twin exit exhaust with one pipe on either side of the car rather than two pipes exiting the rear on the left hand side à la xDrive35i. Standard wheels for the car will be 19-inch light alloy items – eight and a half inches wide at the front and nine and a half at the rear, but the car seen in the pictures features the optional 20-inch items that will be unique to the model.

    Inside it’s pretty much as per the M Sport model although there’s an M leather steering wheel, an M gear shift lever, sport seats and model-specific door sills kick plates. Currently BMW UK has no plans to list the X4 40i in the UK.
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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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    The Sharpest Tool in the Box AC Schnitzer’s tuned M235i is the most fun we’ve had in a pocket rocket for a while and we explain why it ticks all the boxes. #BMW-F22 / #BMW-F22-AC-Schnitzer / #AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-M235i / #BMW-M235i-F22 / #AC-Schnitzer-ACS2-Sport / #2015 / #BMW-F22-AC-Schnitzer

    We’re big fans of the M235i but the addition of a host of performance-orientated upgrades courtesy of AC Schnitzer makes it a really exciting drive Words: Bob Harper /// Photography: Max Earey

    As the speedometer in AC Schnitzer’s ACS2 Sport arcs remarkably quickly past the 240km/h mark the blue M235i that’s being driven by snapper Earey starts to dwindle in my rear view mirror.

    Schnitzer’s breathed-on version shows little sign of abating its rate of acceleration and we see an indicated 260km/h with seemingly more to come before we have to call on the anchors to wash off some serious speed as traffic up ahead spoils the fun. To be honest I’d been a little surprised that our M235i Longtermer had been keeping pace quite so well as the Schnitzer car has had a pretty hefty dose of steroids but all becomes clear once we reach our destination. It turns out the wily old fox Earey had been making extensive use of the gearbox in our car while I’d simply been leaving the ACS2 Sport in sixth!

    Were it not for the traffic on the autobahn the Schnitzer M235i feels like it could maintain this sort of speed all day long and as well as the pace impressing the car’s composure is equally striking. As you’ll no doubt be able to see from the pictures the car’s suspension has been set up in a very uncompromising manner – more on this in a bit – but it’s not made it an unruly companion at speed. Initially it seemed like it was going to be a little skittish when you hit expansion joints or the like but once I’d traversed one or two I grew in confidence as while the car was thrown off line a tiny amount it immediately settled back into the desired rhythm and after a short time behind the wheel I didn’t give it a second thought.


    Our autobahn dash has been prompted by Earey’s request to go to the roads around the Nürburgring in order to photograph the Schnitzer car and his promise of some decent driving locations that he’s used before has swung the decision to comply with his request. It’s really worthwhile, too, as the roads are lightly trafficked and entertaining and the chance to spend a decent amount of time in the ACS2 and being able to drive it back-to-back with the standard car will really help in seeing quite how different the two machines are.

    I first clap eyes on the Schnitzer example in the company’s pristine workshops and before it’s even barked into life it looks like it’s going to be an entertaining companion. It’s seriously low and those 19-inch rims are really filling the wheel arches completely eradicating the slightly ‘gappy’ look that our car has with its 18-inch setup and standard suspension. The ACS2 has had some major camber added and the reason for this is that it’s literally just returned from a big test with the German magazine Auto Bild Sportscars where it was track tested. As part of the car’s spec is a fully-adjustable Schnitzer Racing suspension that’s been honed for this purpose. It looks mean and moody and the choice of Melbourne red works with the other Schnitzer enhancements. While we’re about it we might as well cover the upgrades that are immediately obvious externally.

    Those wheels are Schnitzer Type VIII Forged items and measure 8.5x19-inches all-round and are wearing 225/35 19 Continental ContiSportContact rubber. The whole car has been treated to a series of carbon embellishments that really do suit its shape and endow it with a serious dose of visual drama. At the front there are a pair of carbon flippers either side of the spoiler while the mirror caps have been replaced with carbon covers. At the rear there’s a very sexy carbon rear diffuser that wraps around the quad exhausts while atop the rear screen there’s a small roof spoiler. Sitting on top of the bootlid is actually a BMW M Performance carbon spoiler and Schnitzer figured that it looks so right and is so keenly priced that there really wasn’t any point in trying to better it.

    We’ll cover the exhaust a little later on but what we want to do now is hit the road as if we leave things too much longer we’ll end up getting caught in the rush hour on our way back from the ‘Ring so it’s time to get under way. Before I do, though, it’s interesting to note that this M235i has the European-spec cloth and Alcantara trim on its seats and door trim panels. It looks and feels really nice and I wonder if BMW UK has missed a trick by spec’ing all UK M235is with leather as standard. Schnitzer upgrades inside have been kept to a minimum with a gear knob, handbrake handle and an aluminium pedal set being the main additions.

    Once I’ve settled into the cockpit I thumb the starter button and all hell breaks loose as the massaged N55 straight-six erupts into life. In the confined environs of the Schnitzer workshop it sounds absolutely wonderful with a deep, meaty burble as it goes through its cold start cycle before settling down to a still loud but less lairy tickover. There’s something about a loud and cultured exhaust that really brings out the schoolboy in me and I can’t help but have a little giggle to myself… this is going to be fun.

    Manoeuvring the car out of the tightly-packed workshop is always a little bit of a nerve wrackingexperience – I always seem to find reversing a left-hand drive car tricky for some reason – but we emerge into the late summer sun where the ACS2 Sport’s Melbourne paintwork takes on an altogether more strident look. I pootle up the road not wanting to lose Earey from my mirrors before we get onto the autobahn and while the ride is a little uncompromising around town I guess that’s only to be expected given that it’s set up for track work. As the system is adjustable for height, bump and rebound it could certainly be tailored to one’s own requirements and tastes.

    As we sit in traffic waiting to get a move on I chat to Schnitzer’s Oliver Lindstedt who is accompanying us to make sure we’re fully informed about the engine upgrade the car has been given. In the past Schnitzer hasn’t been too concerned with offering upgraded hardware to accompany its tuning software but it’s found that increasingly customers are asking for these type of upgrades and seeing as many other companies offer it Schnitzer has decided to develop its own hardware.

    Thus as well as an AC Schnitzer performance upgrade box we have a new intercooler, downpipe and some high-flow cats, too. The Schnitzer highperformance intercooler is larger than the standard item and the company reckons it has an 80 per cent larger air contact surface and 62 per cent more charge air volume than standard, which allows the engine to fight off the effects of heat soak very effectively. Couple this with the 200-cell sports catalyst and the car’s power figure takes a hefty hike – 380hp at 6000rpm and 397lb ft of torque at 3800rpm. Those are gains of 54hp and 65lb ft – not to be sniffed at – and while the Schnitzer car does without the standard machine’s 1300-5000rpm torque plateau it’s worth noting that the ACS2 Sport delivers more torque than the regular M235i all the way from 1600rpm to the redline.

    By now we’re used to trusting Schnitzer’s figures – it doesn’t make outlandish claims for its upgrades – but the performance figures obtained by Auto Bild Sportscars very much back-up the on-paper stats. The German magazine recorded a 0-62mph time of 4.6 seconds (an improvement of 0.4 seconds) and a 0-125mph time of 15.7 seconds – that’s a whole two seconds quicker than series production. And if that wasn’t enough to convince you of the car’s newfound ability then a track time around the Sachsenring where the magazine holds the majority of its tests recorded a time of 1:36.48 compared to the standard car’s 1:40.90.

    Once free of Aachen we peel onto the autobahn and it really feels as if the car is hunkering down on its haunches as we round the tight slip road before entering the two-lane motorway. A glance in the mirror reveals it to be all clear so I give the ACS Sport the full works as we join the major road and it doesn’t disappoint in either the way it dramatically picks up speed or the soundtrack that accompanies it. As the rev counter needle whips round the dial it’s time to grab third and in a blink of an eye I’m repeating the process to engage fourth as the acceleration continues unabated, other than for the briefest of pauses while I swap ratios. The exhaust we have fitted to the car is the ‘Export’ version meaning that it’s too loud to gain TüV approval for use in its domestic market but the good news is that it’s fine to use this in the UK. Schnitzer has also updated its tailpipe design for these exhausts and you can now have the tips in either the ‘Racing Evo’ look we have here or a more traditional-looking ‘Sport’ which will give you four round outlets, as you’d see on an M car.

    A slower section of heavily-trafficked roadworks sees us cruising at much lower speeds where the ACS2 is all calm and serene (bar the slightly lumpy low-speed ride) and the next section has a 120km/h limit in force which equates to more or less the UK motorway speed limit. This section proves that Schnitzer has done a very good job on the exhaust as when on a constant throttle cruise it’s perfectly quiet and subdued. Eventually the magic derestricted signs are illuminated which brings us to the acceleration fest we started with. After half-an-hour of speeding up to more or less the car’s maximum speed and then slowing for traffic before repeating the process doesn’t dull the enjoyment but eventually we peel off the autobahn and head for the ‘Ring using some of Oliver’s local knowledge to traverse some fairly challenging roads.

    As befits the engineering excellence that I’m sitting in we also have some German Tarmac engineering excellence here and the ACS2 Sport really revels in putting down its power on the smooth surface and serves up big thrills on these roads. Those Alcantara seats really grip your body much better than the standard leather in ‘our’ car and that’s just as well as the Schnitzer car has much higher levels of grip due to the suspension setup and larger rubber footprint. Not everything has been sacrificed to the great god of grip, though, as you can switch the traction to its DTC mode to allow a little slip and the car’s more than happy to entertain in this manner with a little quarterturn of opposite lock proving most satisfying when coming out of some of the slower corners.

    And all the while that wonderful exhaust is egging you on reverberating off the hills as the revs rise and fall, slightly gruff and meaty at low revs yet rising in timbre and pitch as the revs rise. It really is a wonderful noise and it even pulls off the feat of some angry popping on the overrun, too, and I reckon that it would be hard to better the sounds coming from an M235i than this Schnitzer example.

    Overall it’s a fairly dramatic conversion – it’s significantly quicker, sounds awesome and has the road manners and looks to back it up. I can say with complete honesty that I’d be hard pushed to decide between this fully-fettled 2 Series and the M4 I spent a week with a few months ago. This certainly bodes well for the forthcoming M2 and if it’s as good as this BMW will have a real winner on its hands. I wonder how much better Schnitzer will be able to make it?

    CONTACT: AC Schnitzer UK Tel: 01485 542000 Web: www.ac-schnitzer.co.uk AC Schnitzer (Germany) Tel: +49 (0) 241 5688130 Web: www.ac-schnitzer.de

    The ACS2 Sport really revels in putting down its power on the smooth surface and serves up big thrills on these roads.

    All the while that wonderful exhaust is egging you on reverberating off the hills as the revs rise and fall.

    TECH DATA #BMW / AC Schnitzer M235i
    ENGINE: #N55 six-cylinder, 24-valve, turbocharged / #N55B30
    CAPACITY: 2979cc
    MAX POWER: 380hp @ 6000rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 397lb ft @ 3800rpm
    0-62MPH: 4.6 seconds
    0-125MPH: 15.7 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
    MODIFICATIONS
    ENGINE: #AC-Schnitzer 380hp performance upgrade consisting of a tuning module, high-flow intercooler, downpipe and sports cats.

    WHEELS & TYRES: AC Schnitzer Type VIII alloy wheels, 8.5x19-inch with 225/35 Continental ContiSportContact tyres.
    SUSPENSION: AC Schnitzer fully-adjustable Racing suspension.
    STYLING: AC Schnitzer carbon front flippers, mirror caps and rear diffuser.
    EXHAUST: AC Schnitzer Export sports rear silencer with quad tailpipes.
    INTERIOR: AC Schnitzer pedal set, handbrake handle, gear knob and floor mats.
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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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