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    THE FIFTH ELEMENT Schmiedmann’s 532hp F10 S5 / #BMW

    With its F10 S5, Schmiedmann has unlocked all the potential hidden within the #BMW-550i-F10 and created a bit of a beast… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Schmiedmann.

    F10 S5 Schmiedmann’s 532hp super saloon

    The F10 #BMW-550i is unquestionably a modern muscle car. It’s big, it’s got a 4.4-litre, twin-turbo V8 and it’s fast. Not M5 fast but, with 407hp and 443lb ft of torque on tap, it’s certainly not a slow machine by any standard. There’s a but coming, though, and that’s to do with the N63 engine because, much like its smaller, turbocharged straightsix cousin, it’s an engine with plenty more to give if you’re up to the task of giving it a little bit of attention and Schmiedmann is definitely up to that particular task. The Danish BMW specialist is a multi-talented one-stop shop, able to supply replacement OE parts, offer servicing and repairs and it also carries a huge range of aftermarket parts so it was really spoilt for choice when it came to creating its S5 demo car and the Schmiedmann team really went to town on this build.

    With that twin-turbo V8 at their disposal it’s no surprise that the engine has received plenty of attention but what is a surprise is just how much work has actually gone into it. You might be thinking that a remap would suffice, as that would give you some impressive gains, but that wouldn’t have done for Schmiedmann, the guys there are petrolheads after all, and when you’re building a company demo car you really want to show off your skills. That’s why this car has been fitted with Schmiedmann by Turbo.dk Signature Stage 2 turbos, upgraded standard turbos designed to cope with and produce a lot more power. They boast 15T CNC-milled 48/68mm compressor wheels, which are substantially bigger than the standard 42/56mm items, bigger turbine shafts, upgraded wastegate bushes, upgraded bearings and the turbo housings have also been modified. To go along with the uprated turbos, the chargecoolers have been equipped with a 75% larger radiator, and there’s also a set of Schmiedmann by Supersprint downpipes and a Schmiedmann by Supersprint exhaust system made from micro sandblasted stainless steel, with purposeful Schmiedmann-designed black, double-layer tailpipes.

    All these mods needed the right performance software to accompany them, but that proved to be a lot more difficult than you might imagine. “The software was actually the biggest challenge of the build,” explains Schmiedmann’s Martin Thorup.

    “When we had all the hardware ready the only thing we needed in order to get the power out was the ECU tuning – the car has a water-cooled Continental MSD85.0 ECU – but we found out that no tuner we know could get access to this ECU so they could reprogram it to our hardware changes. We tried to contact tuners all over the world but the answer was always the same: “It’s not possible, the ECU is blocked by a code that nobody can crack yet”. There was one famous German tuning company that claimed that they could do it, so we sent them the ECU but they also had to give up.

    We then found out that almost all tuners worldwide got the reading and programming tool from a company in Switzerland. After speaking with a Danish tuner that had a good connection with the company in Switzerland, they sent two staff members over to Denmark to try to crack the code in our F10 S5 but they couldn’t and also had to give up.


    “Now it seemed our only option was to change the hardware back to standard, and install a tuning box; that would bring about 65hp more than standard, but we wanted to hit at least 500hp. Then we got an idea: we called our business friends at Tuningbox in Belgium, and asked them if we could buy an “open” standard Tuningbox for an F10 550i that we would be able to program individually for the hardware changes we’d made on the car. They agreed and also sold us a programming tool for the Tuningbox; the S5 was then placed on the dyno and adjusted by the Danish tuner in co-operation with Tuningbox in Belgium by remote.” The herculean effort that Schmiedmann went to in order to get the software working with the mods on the car was worth it, as the end result of all that work is an amazing 532hp accompanied by a mammoth 563lb ft of torque, huge gains over stock and just huge numbers that push the Schmiedmann S5 into M5 performance territory. “But there is no doubt that the engine and the hardware have potential for much more the day when the ECU code gets cracked,” says Martin, “and we can program a lot more engine parameters,” at which point the S5 will become even more of a beast…

    Power, as they say, is nothing without control, and while the F10 is a decent handling machine out of the box, it’s not exactly a sports car and throwing an additional 125hp at a chassis that was unprepared would leave things in a bit of a mess, so Schmiedmann has ensured that its S5 stops and handles as well as it goes.

    The standard suspension has been replaced with a Bilstein B16 coilover kit, which offers a wide range of height and damping adjustment, resulting in not only much-improved body control but also allowing the Schmiedmann team to deal with the F10’s gappy arches, giving the S5 a serious drop. The brakes, too, have been attended to and the boat has been well and truly pushed out here, with a Schmiedmann six-pot BBK mounted up front with massive Zimmerman 400x36mm floating discs while at the rear a set of Zimmerman sport brake discs have been fitted in the stock size, as they’re still seriously hefty items on the 550i, and the brake calipers have been painted in Phoenix yellow to match the fronts.


    When it comes to styling it’s fair to say that the F10 isn’t a bad-looking car but there’s certainly room for improvement if you want to make it stand out, so the warehouse was duly raided in order to give the S5 a far more menacing look and one more befitting of something so powerful. Up front you’ll find an F10 M5 front bumper with the 550’s foglights removed and coded out, and this is matched with a pair of M5 front wings with Schmiedmann S5 vents.

    Motorsport II sideskirts have been fitted and further enhanced with the addition of Schmiedmann carbon streamers and there’s also a Motorsport II rear diffuser with cutouts for the beefy quad exhaust tips. You’ll also find a BMW M performance carbon boot spoiler and Schmiedmann has retrofitted the High-gloss Shadowline window trim along with adding black gloss double slat kidney grilles for the finishing touch. The wheels, meanwhile, are 20” Z Performance ZP.06s finished in Phantom Black, with polished spokes set against black painted barrels and lips for a striking effect, and while the 20s are needed to clear the massive front brakes, they’re also the perfect size for the big-bodied Five and really help to fill those cavernous arches.

    You might think that, on a modern car such as this, there wouldn’t be much you could or would even want to do to the interior but Schmiedmann has made sure that interior on its S5 stands out from the crowd in just the right way. The most obvious mod is the steering wheel, a suitably exciting-looking Schmiedmann item with heavily-sculpted grips around the rim, beautifully hand-finished in Nappa leather and alcantara. The instrument cluster has been modified and now sports red needles and an S5 logo; there’s a black and grey sport pedal set and even the floor mats have been replaced with plush new ones that are extra thick and boast genuine nubuck leather piping with double red stitching.

    Not only is the Schmiedmann S5 a magnificent mobile display of what the company can offer, it is also a serious piece of machinery, one which boasts M5-rivaling power, performance and presence, with looks that dominate the road. Schmiedmann has left no stone unturned in the creation of its S5 and the extremely impressive results speak for themselves.

    “The end result is an amazing 532hp accompanied by a mammoth 563lb ft of torque, huge gains over stock”


    DATA FILE / #Schmiedmann / #BMW-F10 / #BMW / #Schmiedmann-S5 / #Schmiedmann-S5-F10 / #BMW-Schmiedmann / #BMW-550i-Schmiedmann-F10 / #Z-Performance / #BMW-550i-Schmiedmann-S5-F10 / #BMW-5-Seies / #BMW-5-Series-F10

    ENGINE 4.4-litre twin-turbo #V8 #N63B44 / #BMW-N63 / #BMW-N63-Schmiedmann / #BMW-N63 , Schmiedmann by Supersprint downpipes, Schmiedmann by #Turbo.dk #Stage-2-Signature turbos, 75% larger chargecooler radiator, Schmiedmann by Supersprint exhaust system in micro sandblasted stainless steel with #Schmiedmann-designed black double layer quad tailpipes. Eight-speed Sport automatic gearbox / #ZF / #ZF8HP

    POWER AND TORQUE 532hp, 563lb ft

    CHASSIS 8.5x20” (front) and 10x20” (rear) #Z-Performance-ZP.06 wheels in Phantom Black with 245/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) Bridgestone Potenza tyres, #Bilstein B16 coilovers, #Schmiedmann-BBK with six-piston Phoenix yellow calipers and #Zimmerman 400x36mm floating discs (front), stock calipers painted Phoenix yellow and Zimmerman sport brake discs (rear)

    EXTERIOR M5 front bumper, M5 front arches with Schmiedmann S5 vents, Motorsport II side skirts with Schmiedmann carbon sideskirt streamers, Motorsport II rear diffuser, #BMW-M-Performance carbon bootlid spoiler, High-gloss Shadowline trim retrofit, gloss black doubleslat kidney grilles, Schmiedmann emblems
    INTERIOR Schmiedmann sport steering wheel hand-finished in Nappa leather and alcantara, Schmiedmann black and grey sport pedal set, Schmiedmann modifi ed gauge cluster with red needles and Schmiedmann S5 logo, extrathick, nubuck-trimmed Schmiedmann S5 floor mats with double red stitching, M Tech door sills

    CONTACT www.schmiedmann.co.uk
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    M3-STYLED F31 335d
    Touring gets M makeover. Some may think that the inherent boxiness of estate cars is fundamentally unsporty, but #PITSTOP Performance has other ideas, as this #BMW-M3-styled 335d Touring proves… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Hjalmar van Hoek.

    TOURING DE FORCE F31 335d with #M3-conversion

    Estate cars, it’s fair to say, come with a certain amount of baggage. And not just the junk in the trunk, but the whole history of their being, the fundamental point of their existence: take a sensible family car, realise there isn’t enough space in there, and graft on a few extra square feet of glass and steel at the rear. Then you’re well served for carting refuse to the dump, cramming in luggage for family holidays, feeling smug in the Ikea car park while those around you try to squeeze wardrobes into hatchbacks, and everything else that goes with station wagon ownership. You buy them because you need to, not because you want to.

    At least that used to be true. Then the 1990s happened, and things started to get silly: Audi began hiding Porsches inside its Avants, Volvo dropped massive Touring Car motors into its turbobricks, and before we knew what was happening the idea of having an estate car was edging away from ‘do I have to?’ and toward ‘I really want to’.

    It’s for this reason that the base car for the project you see before you isn’t as embarrassing as it might once have been. Sure, when you note down the layout on a stark and unforgiving set of bullet points, it should be the sort of thing that’d satisfy your grandad rather than your boy-racer cousin: a boxy wagon with a diesel engine and an automatic gearbox. Hardly the stuff of schoolyard dreams is it?

    Oh, but it is. For this is an #F31-generation 335d – a car that came from the factory boasting 313hp from a 3.0-litre common-rail diesel straight-six with a pair of turbos strapped menacingly to the side. It’s got piezo-electric injectors and aluminium construction and variable turbo geometry… this is quite a long way removed from the rattly oil-burners of yore.

    The only real hurdle here, then, is its boxiness. It’s an estate car, and there’s no escaping the utilitarian vibe of that. But as any of the best tuners will tell you, hurdles are really just upstart opportunities, and Blend Maroof, owner of Sweden’s PITSTOP Performance as well as of this F31, is eager to springboard off that bland reputation and transmute it into something awesome.

    The first thing you’ll probably have spotted is that this 3 Series Touring has received a full M3 body conversion. This is a fiery move, as the fabled M badge has a tempestuous relationship with estate cars. The idea of an M3 Touring is one that consistently gets BMW fans whipped up into an excitable lather, the internet bristles with pages upon pages of forum posts and blog entries along the lines of ‘it’s the best car that BMW never built’. It does, after all, seem unfair that the wagons were left off the product planning chart, particularly given the proven global enthusiasm for hot estates; the RS4 and RS6 have paid for more than a few posh dinners in the steakhouse next to the Audi factory. And the E60- generation M5 was offered as a capacious load-lugger – V10 up front, Labrador in the back – so why not the M3? Well, it’s all down to maths, probably. Or physics. But that hasn’t stopped the aftermarket bolting together what #BMW never dared…

    “My first car was a 316ti, and from that point on I was firmly in the BMW groove,” laughs Blend. “That car was RWD, red, and a BMW, which was all I wanted at the time.

    Since then I’ve owned and modified an E61 535d, an E60 535d, an E60 M5, an E39 M5, an E91 M3, and many others.” It helps that his hobby is also his job, of course, as that provides a handy excuse to constantly be tweaking, refining, and generally getting up to a whole mess of Bavarian mischief.

    It’s worth pointing out at this point that this isn’t actually Blend’s first crack at building an M3-alike Touring; regular readers may remember his E91 335i Touring that appeared in these pages some time back, sporting genuine E92 bodywork and a menacing attitude (the eagle-eyed will have spotted his mention of the technically non- existent E91 M3 in the preceding paragraph!). “I sold that car to an amateur, who destroyed it,” he sighs, “so I told myself I needed to build another one. We have to have at least one M3 Touring in Sweden! So I started searching for a good base, and decided on this well-optioned F31 335d xDrive.”

    The car was sourced from a German dealer in mint condition, but naturally this didn’t make Blend pause as he was single- minded in his mission; indeed, he went one step further than having a plan in mind – he already had most of the parts for the project before he even took delivery of the car.

    “The rear bumper’s probably my favourite modification on the car, as I’m the first one in the world to do that,” he grins. “I also swapped the front carrier, the bonnet, wings, lights, front bumper, mirrors, side skirts, rear panel and rear doors, and then it was all painted in original Sapphire black.” A pretty comprehensive conversion – and you’ll note that he’s cheekily left the M3 badge on the grille too; something we wouldn’t normally condone on a non-M car, but given the effort that’s gone into crafting this machine we reckon he’s earned it.

    “The car’s static, running KW coilovers,” Blend explains, “because of the quality of the brand, and the fact that I’ve used them before. Also at the time there weren’t many manufacturers that had coilovers for the 335d xDrive! The wheels came at this point too, and I knew I wanted something deep concave with nice wide rears – I found the ‘right’ wheels a few weeks before the project was finished, they’re Japan Racing JR21s.”

    The rears measure a whopping 11x19”, which certainly makes the most of Blend’s newfound hip girth (not his, the car’s), and their smoky finish really works with the overall aggression of the build.

    The engine was the next item on the list, and while it may have already been packing a serious horsepower figure backed up by the trademark stump-troubling torque of the modern diesel, Blend had a few ideas to spice things up further. So now you’ll find it running a PITSTOP remap along with the company’s own custom 3” downpipe and exhaust system, along with #K&N induction and a big intercooler. Any of you who are still questioning the impressiveness of a diesel estate car as an M3 tribute will hopefully be gratified to learn that Blend’s creation will now run from 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds. And that, fittingly, would match an Audi RS6. “The engine work all took about a week,” he explains, with the nonchalant air of someone who truly knows his stuff. “It runs real good, I haven’t had any problems!”

    From start to finish, the transformation took around three months, which is really quite hair-raising. Blend’s proud to say that he planned and executed all of the work himself too, with the exception of the installation of the rear panel, which was done by the paint shop while it was spraying it. And it’s impressive to note that when we ask him what more he might have done to the car if money were no object, his response is a humble “Nothing, I’ve done everything I wanted.” Although, when we press him further, he does admit that he’ll be sprucing up the interior to matching M3 spec in the coming year.

    This, then, is the product of a man unafraid to build the cars that BMW didn’t; a singularity of vision that dismisses the notion of the estate car’s perceived lack of coolness with nary a second thought. And before we have time to catch breath, he’ll be starting down the path to creating an M2 hatchback. The fella clearly has an axe to grind with BMW’s product planners, and he just cannot be stopped.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-F31 / #BMW-335d-Touring / #BMW-335d-Touring-F31 / #BMW-335d / #BMW-335d-F31 / #BMW / #Wagner / #Akrapovič / #Akrapovic / #BMW-M3-styled / #BMW-335d-Touring-M3-Styled / / #BMW-335d-Touring-M3-Styled-F31 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F31 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-F31 /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six twin-turbo diesel #N57D30T1 / #N57 / #BMW-N57 / #N57D30 / , 3” downpipe, #DPF and #EGR delete, 3” #PITSTOP custom exhaust system with #Akrapovič tails, #Wagner-Evo intercooler, K&N induction, PITSTOP custom remap, eight-speed #ZF-BMW-Sport-automatic transmission ( #ZF8HP / #ZF )

    CHASSIS 9.5x19” ET22 (front) and 11x19” ET25 (rear) #Japan-Racing-JR21 wheels with 255/35 (f) and 295/30 (r) tyres, #KW-V2 coilovers, MSport brakes

    EXTERIOR Sapphire black, full M3 body conversion including custom rear bumper
    INTERIOR Stock

    THANKS Thanks to my wonderful wife, PITSTOP and Schmiedmann – without them the project wouldn’t have been possible, Streetwheels for the fast job on the wheels, and to all of you out there who stood by my side from the start and helped me with everything

    “The rear bumper’s my favourite modification, as I’m the first one in the world to do it”
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    Efficient and refined, the allnew 5-series G30 also promises an improved driving experience. Does it deliver?

    / #2017 / #BMW-530d-xDrive / #BMW-530d-xDrive-G30 / #BMW-530d-G30 / #BMW-5-Series-Sedan-M-Performance-Accessories-G30 / #M-Performance-Accessories / #M-Performance / #BMW / #BMW-5-Series-G30 / #BMW-5-Series

    Within five minutes of getting behind its wheel, the new #BMW 5-series is driving itself. This has the simultaneous effect of being impressive to the point of slack-jawed bewilderment and also crushingly depressing. Soon cars will no longer need us; people, like you and me, will be superfluous.

    The new seventh-generation 5-series, coded G30, has enough driverassistance technology to be just a few steps away from fully autonomous driving. It’ll brake when required, steer through curves on the motorway, and execute a perfect lane-change manoeuvre if so commanded.

    It’s hardly the most promising prospect from an evo perspective, for while the 540i’s turbocharged 3-litre straight-six fires up with its familiar cold-start theatrics, the drama is fleeting, and this new 5-series, bigger in all directions than the previous model, is more distant to the driver than ever before. that’s another way of saying it’s superbly refined, because it sets new standards in this regard, but when the project manager of driving dynamics, Albert ‘Mike’ Maier, claims ‘We’ve returned to the driving pleasure of the old 5-series cars,’ expectations are inevitably high.

    The BMW 5-Series G30 may be bigger outside and more spacious inside, but it’s usefully lighter than the outgoing f10 model by as much as 100kg, and this without using a 7-series-style ‘carbon core’. instead, it’s a case of intelligent materials useage, with an aluminium bootlid, a magnesium dashboard frame and weight-saving measures almost everywhere.

    This new ‘L7’ platform once again uses double wishbones on the front axle and a multi-link rear, with various suspension options: regular se models have a passive setup, m sport models the same but firmer and with a 10mm ride-height drop, and all 5s can be ordered with DDC variable dampers. The Adaptive Drive option combines DDC and Active Roll stabilisation, with the adjustable anti-roll bars now operated via electric motors, not hydraulically. Finally, there is integral Active steering, also optional, which adjusts the toe angle of the rear wheels by up to three degrees depending on almost limitless parameters.

    Old habits die hard, so it’s the keys to the aforementioned 335bhp petrol version we grab first, even though it’s a rear-wheel-drive car and initially in the UK this engine – the most powerful petrol unit in the launch line-up – will only be available with xDrive all-wheel drive. xDrive is now available as an option on every model; a manual gearbox doesn’t appear on the list at all – all cars have the eight-speed Steptronic automatic ( #ZF8HP ).

    It’s soon abundantly clear that the 540i is a very potent car. In UK xDrive form it’ll hit 62mph in just 4.8sec, and with the Drive Performance Control set to sport the throttle response is sharp and the gearshifts near-enough instantaneous.

    And yet this isn’t the most enjoyable new 5-series on sale: it has a bland, monotonous voice and linear delivery that gets strained at high revs, a cruel comparison to make with the great naturally aspirated BMW straight-sixes of the past. In the real world it’s not really any quicker than the 530d, and is obviously thirstier.

    It’s the BMW 530d G30 that feels like the car the engineers really obsessed over. With the aid of BMW’s Syntak (synergy thermoacoustic Capsule) noise insulation, the 3-litre turbodiesel unit is brilliantly refined at low revs, but has that deep, straight-six rumble when called into action that’s familiar and so cosy on the ear. And with 261bhp and 457lb ft of torque it never, ever, feels short on acceleration. (For the record, it’s 5.4sec to 62mph.) The rear-wheel steering has the effect of shortening the wheelbase, so the G30 disguises its size incredibly well. The electrically assisted steering is one of BMW’s best so far: Easygoing yet precise in Comfort so that you tend to just forget about it, but with reassuring weight added in Sport.

    Both the petrol and diesel models that we sample feature variable dampers, but the optional 19-inch wheels on the former occasionally make it feel like it has lead boots over bad road contusions. The 530d xDrive, meanwhile, on standard 18s, has a spectacularly good ride quality.

    In the teeming rain on twisting, hilly roads, not once does the traction light blink, the system shuffling around all 457lb ft of torque so effectively and without any perceptible sign of doing so. There’s more stiction to the steering with xDrive, making it feel that bit more genuine; turn-in is crisp (with Integral steering), grip levels mid-corner notably strong, but best of all the car will take near enough full throttle early in the corner, surging out without pushing wide. Point-to-point it’s hugely effective. Not dance-on-the- table exciting, but then this is ‘just’ a regular 5-series.


    Yet for a car so refined, so imbued with a depth of competence and sense of long-term quality and solidity, it will still raise a quiet smile if your commute has a few interesting corners. Throw in the latest generation of iDrive – a triumph – and all the other tech and as an overall, everyday package the new 5-series is top of its class in evo’s eyes.

    Maybe Herr Maier has a point, then, after all; it certainly bodes well for the forthcoming M5.

    Technical Data Specification BMW 530d xDrive
    Engine Straight-six, 2993cc, twin-turbo diesel
    CO2 124g/km
    Power 261bhp @ 4000rpm DIN
    Torque 457lb ft @ 2000-2500rpm DIN
    0-62mph 5.4sec (claimed)
    Top speed 155mph (limited)
    Weight 1695kg (156bhp/ton)
    Basic price £45,965 (SE)
    + Extraordinary refinement, easy-going performance
    - Not sufficiently engaging; lacks character
    Rating 5.0


    Clockwise from top: styling is reserved, in the great 5-series tradition; biturbo 3-litre diesel majors on torque and refinement; cabin comfortable and loaded with the latest technology; all new 5-series are autos, no manuals.

    ‘It will take near enough full throttle early, surging out of a corner without pushing wide’
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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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    HOT STUFF
    We loved the M135i but do a new engine and some subtle tweaks endow BMW’s hottest hatch with even more joie de vivre?
    Words: Bob Harper Photography: Gus Gregory

    Hot Stuff The best hot hatch BMW has ever made? You could make a case for the cracking M140i being just that.

    M140i tested
    BMW’s rapid and entertaining hot hatch put through its paces.
    When they’re working our motorways are a great way of getting around and if you attack them at the right time of day significant distances can be covered in pretty short order.

    Trouble is, that ‘right time of day’ window of opportunity seems to be getting shorter and shorter by the day and finding the Holy Grail of driving for a London-based hack – a free-flowing M25 – is about as common as a polite Clinton/Trump exchange.

    These are the thoughts that are flitting through my mind as I contemplate returning to London from my sister’s house in Salisbury. It was an unscheduled visit as when I picked up the M140i you can see here from a BMW event in Wiltshire the traffic displays on Google maps and on the BMW’s sat nav both suggested that a toddler had gone wild with their mother’s brightest hue of red lipstick all over the South East. No problem, I thought, blag dinner with my big sis and slope off back to London once the traffic had died down. Except the traffic appeared not to have died down. Both the M3 and M4 appeared to be closed and if anything that toddler has stayed up past its bedtime and continued its frenzied attack with the lipstick. An offer of a bed for a night and the opportunity to raid my brother-in-law’s drinks cabinet was tempting but I really needed to get home and although the F20’s cockpit is a comfortable place I wasn’t looking forward to the journey.

    It didn’t take me long to get into the swing of things though. I’d planned a route in my head almost exclusively using back roads and pretty soon the M140i was thoroughly warmed-up and eager to play.

    Even in the dark this car’s cross-country pace is simply phenomenal. We’ll get onto its vital stats in a minute but for the moment hold one thought in your head: this M140i with the eight-speed auto ‘box is quicker to 62mph from a standstill than an E61 M5 Touring, and that V10-engined monster has never been criticised for its lack of pace.

    The way the M140i will catapult itself out of one corner to the next is immensely impressive whether you rely on low-down torque to punch you along or let the turbo’d ‘six sing and elect to use all the revs.

    Lower down the rev range you’re rewarded with a bassy, baritone note and while the soundtrack is ever so slightly muffled by being a turbo by the time you’re up around the 6000rpm mark you really have unleashed the full choir and orchestra, peaking in a wonderful crescendo just before you reach for the right-hand paddle for the next upchange which elicits a wonderful ‘whummph’ from the exhaust as you continue on your charge.


    Washing off your speed for the next corner is undramatic as, time after time, the M Sport braking setup with its bigger discs and four-pot front callipers knocks big numbers from the speedo ready to tackle the next bend. The M140i’s chassis proves up to the task, too. It’s not up to M2-levels of connectivity and communication but, all the same, you still have a good idea of what it’s doing underneath you and it never gives you an unexpected response. Some more feedback through the steering wheel wouldn’t go amiss but for an electric setup it’s not bad at all and it’s only when the going gets really tough that you ever have any cause for concern.

    Unexpected mid-corner undulations or broken road surfaces can upset the car a little and with the (optional) adaptive dampers in their Sport setting you do occasionally feel as if there’s a little bit too much patter from the wheels as they hop from bump to bump, not quite settling properly in between them. After I’ve made hay for the first part of the journey the roads do seem to deteriorate somewhat and a quick fiddle with the #iDrive leaves the engine in Sport mode but backs the dampers off to their more Comfortorientated setting which I personally often prefer as I like the additional compliance it gives you. Yes, you do experience a little more body roll at times but I’m happy with that as the level of lean helps to give you an idea as to how hard you’re pressing.

    We’re onto more open roads now with less tight corners and the M140i makes short work of the straights, blatting past the occasional slower moving car with ease. As I become more familiar with the car the speed that long sweepers can be taken at is deeply impressive. Just a gentle dab of the brakes is required to settle the car into the corner before getting gently back on the throttle to balance the car through the bend.

    The original plan was to head for the A3 to come into London but as I’m having so much fun I decide to run a bit further east on the back roads and head into London on the M23. As the magical mystery tour continues it then dawns on me that one of the reasons I’ve been able to maintain such a good pace and not have any of those clenched buttock moments you can sometimes get at night on unfamiliar roads when the Tarmac suddenly goes in a direction you weren’t anticipating is because the headlights on this car are phenomenal. All higher-end 1 Series models come with full LEDs as standard but on this machine BMW has upgraded these (to the tune of £490) to Adaptive LEDs, which also includes high-beam assist.

    They make a huge difference illuminating the road so effectively and creating little light tunnels as you approach other cars so as not to blind them but still offering excellent coverage. If you reckon you’re likely to spend much of your time driving at night these really are a must-have option.

    All good things come to an end, though, and in what seems like no time I’m approaching the base of the M23 and I slot everything back into Comfort, set the cruise to a smidgen over the speed limit and relax a little. Economy for my back road blast hasn’t been stellar – I’m into the low 20s – but resetting the readout and rechecking as I approach London shows that a sedate cruise will nigh-on double that figure. With everything set to Comfort the M140i is exactly that with the eight-speed auto slurring between ratios imperceptibly and the engine quiet and subdued.

    Even the last few miles of London traffic are kind to me. I cast a glance over my shoulder once I’m parkedup in south east London as the M140i’s exhaust ticks quietly to itself as it starts to cool down and I can’t help but think that this machine is a real gem and enough of a step up over the old M135i to be worthy of the new badge.

    At the heart of the M140i is the new B58 straight-six which offers 340hp and 369lb ft of torque – gains of 14hp and 37lb ft – enough to knock 0.3 seconds from the 0-62mph time in both manual and auto guises. Economy’s improved, too, now up to 36.2mpg for the manual and 39.8mpg for the auto we have here, while emissions are reduced by 9g/km and 12g/km respectively. It’s not just the vital stats that are impressive, though, as on the road you really do feel the extra urge, particularly lower down the rev range, and the engine’s keenness to rev is a welcome improvement, too. That’s not to say the old M135i was desperately lacking in these areas, simply that the M140i offers a significant advancement.

    While the majority of the car is the same as the post-face-lift #LCI-1-Series , BMW has altered its suspension settings so that it’s more like the M240i and you do notice this on the road. It’s ever so slightly keener to turn-in, resisting understeer a little better, while it also seemed that the rear end was less inclined to breakaway unless the roads were particularly damp. And this is perhaps the only area where the M140i suffers, namely in low-friction traction where injudicious applications of throttle will see the traction control tell-tale flashing demonically.

    It’s something that can be driven around in the majority of situations but can be slightly frustrating when you really want to put the hammer down. For the most part leaving the car in a higher ratio does the trick, but occasionally pulling out of wet junctions is a little fraught, especially if you’re going for a small gap in traffic.

    Another aspect of the M140i that appeals is its stealthy nature. Most other road users don’t give you much of a second glance, especially if you de-badge the car. Only those in the know will likely clock the lack of front foglights or the Ferric grey highlights on the mirror caps and around the front air intakes. And while we’re on the subject of those lower front air intakes, am I the only one who hates the fact that the one on the driver’s side is properly functional while the one on the passenger side is simply a piece of plastic covering the whole opening that’s just made to look like an intake? I guess I never made a fuss that only one of the E9x M3’s bonnet mounted intakes was functional so this shouldn’t really bother me… but it does! And while I’m nitpicking, I’m not really a fan of the Ferric grey paint either.

    Apart from that, though, I’d say I’m a huge fan of the car and were it ever so slightly bigger I could almost see myself running one. Sadly rear legroom is an issue that brought grumpy complaints from my 17- year-old son. At £33,835 for this eight-speed auto version I also reckon it’s a bit of a bargain – and over £10k less than an M2 which also doesn’t offer the M140i’s hatchback practicality or anonymity either. Watch out for the price of options, though, as our test car came in at a tad over £40k, although bar the LED lights, Adaptive dampers and heated front seats I could live without the majority of the toys.

    That late night back road blast will live with me for a long time, though. I’ve not had that much fun in a car for ages. Thank goodness our motorways don’t always behave themselves, eh?

    TECHNICAL DATA #2016 #BMW-F20 / #BMW-M140i / #BMW-M140i-F20 / #BMW / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-F20 / 2016
    ENGINE: Straight-six, 24-valve / #B58B30M0 / #BMW-B58 / #B58
    CAPACITY: 2998cc
    MAX POWER: 340hp @ 5500rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 369lb ft @ 1520-4500rpm
    0-62MPH: 4.8 seconds (4.6)
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (155)
    ECONOMY: 36.2mpg (39.8)
    EMISSIONS: 179g/km (163)
    WEIGHT (EU): 1525kg (1550)
    PRICE (OTR): £32,405 (£33,835)
    Figures in brackets refer to eight-speed automatic tested #ZF8HP

    This M140i with the eight-speed auto ’box is quicker to 62mph from a standstill than an E61 M5 Touring.
    • Three-pot praise. It was surprising but pleasurable to read a review of the lowly 118i in the November issue. I share ownership of a 118i five-door SpThree-pot praise. It was surprising but pleasurable to read a review of the lowly 118i in the November issue. I share ownership of a 118i five-door Sport auto with BMW Finance. It replaced an F30 116i, which I respected rather than loved. The F30 had all those fine BMW characteristics but was too bloated – it frequently stayed in the garage while I took my wife’s car to the shops! What I wanted was something the size of an E30 and the F20 is spot-on.

      I have to disagree with your reviewer on several points however. I respect the fillings in my teeth too much to drive an M Sport model. A mere Sport also has a sensibly-sized steering wheel. Sticking below 4500rpm with that sweet-running threecylinder engine is to deny it its chance to shine though and with a redline at 7000rpm it shows that this engine loves to rev. Possibly your test car was not yet fully run-in; a process that takes a couple of thousand miles. Then you can show a surprising number of larger-engined cars the way home. I find that using Shell V-Power Nitro petrol helps too. And what a refined engine it is too – beautifully smooth, almost like a straight-six.

      My F20 is simply a lot more pleasurable to drive (and park) than its F30 predecessor and I love it.
        More ...
    • We’re glad that the 118i has put the sparkle back into your BMW motoring Peter and while the 118i might ‘only’ have three-cylinders its vital stats arWe’re glad that the 118i has put the sparkle back into your BMW motoring Peter and while the 118i might ‘only’ have three-cylinders its vital stats are actually better than the four-cylinder F30 316i that you owned previously, with the 118i being quicker to 62mph from standstill than the 3 Series.
      You are right that the Sport model will ride better than the M Sport as the latter car has M Sport suspension settings as well as wheels that are an inch larger in diameter. If you prefer the M Sport looks you can always opt to delete the M Sport suspension as a no cost option.
        More ...
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    Test location: Shingay cum Wendy, Cambridgeshire. Photography: Aston Parrott #Mercedes-AMG-C43-Estate-S205 vs. #BMW-340i-Touring-F31 . Which of these performance compact estate rivals delivers the fullest package? / #BMW-340i-Touring / #BMW-340i-F31 / #BMW-F31 / #BMW / #BMW-340i / #Mercedes-AMG-C43-S205 / #Mercedes-AMG-S205 / #Mercedes-Benz-S205 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes / #Mercedes-AMG / #Mercedes-Benz-C-Class / #Mercedes-Benz-C-Class-205 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F31 / #Mercedes-Benz-C-Klasse / #Mercedes-Benz-C-Klasse-205

    It’s going to take a while for us to get used to this new breed of AMG-lite. We’ve come to expect that cars from Affalterbach will be slightly unhinged, wild, tyre-smoking hooligans. The new C43, however, feels like it’s been created by a different branch of AMG, one run by engineers who value speed and grip over enjoyment, engineers who haven’t had one too many steins of Weissbier. Engineers who created the A45 AMG. But perhaps we shouldn’t get too hung up on that, because by forgoing an exotic V8 engine in favour of a 367hp twin-turbo 3-litre #V6 , the C43 brings an AMG C-class within reach of a wider audience…

    The 340i replaces the 335i in the 3-series F30 line-up, and uncharacteristically for a BMW, it isn’t adorned with a plethora of ‘M’ badges. It isn’t even part of BMW’s semi-hot ‘M Performance’ range. It’s just a normal car, albeit quite a powerful one.

    The 340i’s new 3-litre, twin-scroll single-turbo engine produces 325hp and 450nm of torque, which make it good for a 0-100km/h time of 5.1sec. not bad for a non-M model.

    Its supple, cosseting ride quality certainly doesn’t make it feel much like a performance car, and when trundling down the road with the driving mode set to Comfort, the 340i is a very pleasant place to be. on the move the chassis feels noticeably sharper when you select either of the Sport or Sport+ driving modes.

    Thanks to a more aggressive throttle map, the engine feels more urgent too. Some of the ride quality diminishes, but the 340i now reacts more eagerly to steering inputs thanks to less body roll. The engine also makes more noise, but while the exhaust emits a deep but subtle growl for those outside, the soundtrack inside the cabin is mostly breathy. Stretch the engine to its lofty – by today’s standards – 7000rpm rev limit and it begins to emit a more satisfying timbre, although it’s still far from spine-tingling.

    The eight-speed automatic gearbox slots each gear into place almost instantly, but despite the speedy changes the drivetrain never feels that urgent, even when cranked up to its highest setting; stand on the throttle and you have to wait momentarily for momentum to build before there’s a reaction. Once the power has found its way to the rear wheels, though, you can really feel them helping the back of the car around a corner. These transparent and innately rear-drive characteristics are so delightful to exploit that the BMW encourages you to push harder and drive faster.

    Sadly the chassis begins to show its humble, estate-car roots the quicker you go. The front-end doesn’t possess the sort of grip we’ve come to expect of a modern performance car, and unless you’re very careful and measured with your steering inputs the 340i readily stumbles into understeer. Proportionally, there’s more rear-end grip than front, but that means the influence the throttle has on the back axle rarely escalates into anything very exciting. Try really hard to induce a slide and the rear feels very heavy, leaning considerably over the outside wheel. Then once grip has been lost, the body roll and lack of a limited-slip diff mean the resulting slide is scruffy, making you feel ham-fisted.

    The BMW runs on a Bridgestone Potenza S001, a tyre we’ve been impressed with on other cars. However, whether it’s the weight of the 340i or the alterations BMW has made to the tyre (the star on the sidewalls denotes it has been specifically adapted for BMW), these Potenzas feel less like an ultra high performance tyre and more like a summer touring one.

    this new AMG C43 shares its spangly grille with lesser C-classes, so it looks pretty sober. only the four exhausts give the game away that this is no ordinary estate. Inside there’s hardly an abundance of AMG cues, either, but the car’s intentions are clear from the moment you drive off. The chassis is much firmer than that of the BMW, even in its more comfortable modes, and the steering, although light, is very quick.

    On paper the Mercedes has the BMW covered, with that 367hp supported by 520nm of torque, resulting in a 0-100km/h time of 4.7sec. this is reflected by an eagerness to the C43’s drivetrain that the 340i could only wish for – the rev-counter needle dashes around the dial as if on a vacuum – although the twin-turbo V6 doesn’t rev as high as the BMW’s straight-six. The nine-speed auto gearbox is quick, with sharp, crisp changes that better those of a lot of double-clutch systems. Sadly, to avoid confusing the drivetrain and causing a long pause before the power comes back in, you need to change up by around 6200rpm.

    The C43’s chassis doesn’t change dramatically between each of its drive modes. However, the dampers can be softened off separately should you want the slightly more pliant ride with the more immediate throttle map. Keep the engine, gearbox and suspension in their sportiest settings and there’s almost no slack in any of the controls. The C43 changes direction instantly, the chassis more than capable of keeping up with the quick steering.

    But as taut and responsive as the Mercedes is, it’s the sheer speed of the car that’s most remarkable. The 4Matic four-wheel-drive system contributes to an incredible amount of grip that means B-roads can be dispatched with disconcerting ease.

    You can throw anything at the C43 and it remains unruffled, but this incredible competence comes at the expense of any real interaction. The throttle doesn’t change the attitude of the car: a lift is as ineffectual as standing on the accelerator midcorner, the C43 staying glued to its original trajectory. Only a lot of speed and some tactical left-foot braking will eventually induce some reluctant movement from the rear axle. The AMG’s incredible capability goads you to drive faster and faster in an attempt to instigate some sort of reaction, but it’s near impossible to maintain the speeds needed for the C43 to come alive on the road.

    Having such performance available in small estate cars is, in itself, fantastic, and both the BMW and AMG are talented in their own ways. The #BMW doesn’t purport to be a performance car and it doesn’t quite have the power and pace to match the overtly sporty #AMG , but it certainly holds its own in this test, being involving and rewarding to drive if kept within its limits. By contrast the C43 can be aloof. With unrelenting grip and composure it never shows a playful side, making it difficult to fall for. Its sheer competence means it wins this test, but it wins few friends in the process.

    ‘An incredible amount of grip means the C43 can dispatch B-roads with disconcerting ease’

    TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATION #Mercedes-AMG C43 #4Matic Estate / #Mercedes-AMG-C43-4Matic-Estate / #Mercedes-AMG-C43-4Matic-Estate-S205 / #Mercedes-AMG-C43-4Matic-Estate / #Mercedes-AMG-C43-T-Modell / #Mercedes-AMG-T-Modell / #Mercedes-AMG-C43-T-Modell-S205 / #Mercedes-AMG-C43-4Matic-T-Modell-S205

    Engine V6, 2996cc, twin-turbo / CO2 181g/km
    Power 367hp @ 5500-6000rpm DIN
    Torque 520nm @ 2000-4200rpm DIN
    Transmission 9-speed auto
    0-100 km/h 4.7sec (claimed)
    Top speed 250km/h (limited)
    Weight 1660kg (225hp/ton)
    Basic price tba contact Cycle & Carriage 6298 1818

    + incredibly fast and composed
    - difficult to engage with
    Rating 4+


    TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATION #BMW-340i-Touring
    Engine in-line 6-cyl, 2998cc, turbocharged CO2 158g/km
    Power 325hp @ 5500-6500rpm DIN
    Torque 450nm @ 1380-5000rpm DIN
    Transmission 8-speed auto ( #ZF8HP / #ZF )
    0-100 km/h 5.1sec (claimed)
    Top speed 250km/h (limited)
    Weight 1615kg (205hp/ton)
    Basic price Special indent only
    Contact Performance Motors, 6319 0100

    + Feel some rear-drive chassis
    - Easy to drive it beyond its BMW 340i Touring #BMW-F30 comfort zone
    Rating 4++
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    It might look like a normal Schnitzered 1 Series but this unassuming hatch is packing a triple-turbo straight-six from the M550d! Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Dave Smith.

    POWER STATION
    What’s the best way to make the 1 Series hatch quicker? By fitting a triple-turbo 3.0-litre diesel!

    While I’m sure it isn’t an actual law in Germany to accelerate like a banshee when joining a motorway it does quite often seem to be the way things are done over there. It certainly makes a welcome change from the status quo in the UK where inevitably I seem to always be following someone who seems to think that 45mph is an ideal speed to try and merge with fast-moving motorway traffic. I think perhaps the German model has something to do with the fact that on derestricted sections of autobahn the traffic you’re trying to merge with could be tanking along almost at the speed of sound so it makes sense to try and join them as fast as possible.

    As luck would have it the section of autobahn that runs past AC Schnitzer’s HQ is of the derestricted variety and having warmed the cars through in the workshop and on the slow trundle to the autobahn it would be rude not to follow the approved German method of getting up to speed as soon as possible. Our support vehicle for today’s shoot is an F80 M3 and as I follow it on to the motorway in ‘my’ 1 Series hatch I’m pretty sure I know what’s going to happen: the M3’s going to disappear and I’ll spend the next few kilometres trying to play catch up.

    Bizarrely this couldn’t be further from the truth. As I see the M3’s rump start to squat as the power’s applied and I wind off the last bit of slip road lock from the 1 Series’ steering I bury my size nine into the carpet and am stunned by the ferocity of this machine’s acceleration. There’s an angry, but not unpleasant, rumbling coming from the car’s engine and exhaust and that M3 is in no shape or form pulling away. The eight-speed auto melds the cogs together virtually imperceptibly and all I’m aware of is a seemingly inexorable accelerative force. It’s as if the 1 Series is attached to the back of the M3 with a steel hawser and nothing’s going to separate them.

    If I’m going to be completely honest then I need to admit that before I drove this unassuming 1 Series I already knew what was under the bonnet. Had I not been aware of the power it was packing I would have been well and truly gobsmacked by its performance. If I’d have been in Schnitzer’s shoes I think I’d have been tempted to send me out for a drive in the car saying ‘see what you think of our new 120d’.

    While this might look like a 120d, it’s packing a far superior punch – the triple-turbo straight-six that’s usually found under the bonnet of the M550d and X5 M50d. In standard tune it’s good for 381hp and 546lb ft of torque, but if you’re going to pop this engine into a 1 Series then obviously what it really needs is some more power, so Schnitzer’s boffins turned up the wick to 400hp and 590lb ft of torque.

    Nice. As I’ve already discovered this makes it a very rapid machine indeed, and according to Schnitzer’s figures it’ll knock off the 0-62mph dash in just 4.5 seconds and can accelerate from 80-180km/h in a scant 7.9 seconds – more or less exactly on par with a standard F82 M4.


    This 150d has actually been around for a little while now – Schnitzer built it to wow the crowds at the Essen Motor show at the tail end of 2015 – and while it was quite a showstopper its real purpose was to highlight the company’s range of accessories for the face-lifted 1 Series. What better way to do that than to get just about every motoring website on the planet slavering over the prospect of a 400hp super hatch? But to our knowledge no one’s actually tested the show car before, and we’re eternally grateful to the chaps at AC Schnitzer for pulling out all of the stops to get it ready for our latest visit. While the car has been up and running since it was built, Schnitzer discovered that some (fairly serious) reworking of the cooling system was going to be required so the car was put on the back burner while the company concentrated on more pressing projects.

    There’s no getting away from the fact that the car does look pretty sharp, and this could be the case for any 1 Series hatch, not just those with 400hp under their bonnets. At the front there’s a two-piece front spoiler that has the effect of really tying the front end to the road, while at the rear a spoiler atop the hatch gives the impression that the car needs to be pulled down to the Tarmac at speed. The whole package is assisted by the suspension setup which hunkers the car down to the road and can be had either as the fully adjustable Racing setup, or more simply just as a spring kit. Either way the car’s lowered and when sitting on a set of Schnitzer’s AC1 rims (19-inches in this case, shod with 225/35 rubber) the look is very purposeful and aggressive. Other than that, just about the only giveaway that this car is packing some serious power is the twin-exit exhaust sprouting from the rear valance, but given that an M135i is so equipped it’s not really that much of a surprise.

    Physically slotting the triple turbo version of the N57 diesel unit into the 1 Series hatch wasn’t too tricky – after all the engine’s no physically larger than the straight-six petrol unit in the M135i, but getting the engine’s electronics to talk with the 1 Series chassis was a bit of a challenge. As BMW’s most powerful diesel can only be hooked up to the fourwheel drive xDrive powertrain with the eight-speed auto the donor car was a 120d xDrive and as a result Schnitzer’s hottest 1 Series really is an absolute doddle to drive. Simply jump in, press the starter, slip the auto gear knob into D and off you go. On part throttle applications around town you really don’t get the feeling that there’s anything desperately special about the car – it really does behave just like a 120d with a slightly more vocal than standard exhaust.

    As we’ve already experienced, its straight-line acceleration is sensational but what’s it like when it comes to the twisties? En route to our photo location it feels like it’s pretty eager to turn into corners and at moderate-to-brisk speeds there’s no telling there’s anything non-standard about the car. As is often the case stopping for pictures to be taken spoils the fun and while photographer Smithy positions the car to make it look like there’s a power station under the bonnet I have a quick gander at the engine bay and am greeted by one of Schnitzer’s now familiar engine optic packages. If the engine cover wasn’t painted in red and black I’d be hard pressed to see what was out of the ordinary here – it really does look like a factory installation. Inside it’s pretty untouched too, just with enough Schnitzer embellishments to make you aware that there have been a few changes from standard. There’s an alloy pedal set and footrest along with a handbrake handle and a set of floor mats. The only major change from standard is an Awron digital gauge that sits where one of the air vents on the centre consul should be.


    Fortunately our lake front spot for pictures has a time limit on it so before too long it’s time to hit the road again and now the shots are imprinted to the camera’s memory card I can start to properly get to grips with the car’s performance. In the olden days of performance diesels one would always have assumed that slotting a 3.0-litre oil burner under the bonnet of a small hatch would have led to a pretty serious handling imbalance, but these days there’s very little to choose between the weight of 3.0-litre petrol and a 3.0-litre diesel unit, and while the N57S from the M550d is heavier than the N55 in the 135i it’s probably not by quite as much as you would think. Thus the 150d feels pretty handy on the back roads and can be thrown about quite happily without encountering the serious dose of understeer that your brain might be telling you should be rearing its ugly head.

    That’s not to say that it can be driven like any other rear-wheel drive BMW, though, as like every xDrive machine we’ve encountered you do need to slightly modify your driving style to get the best from it. The key is to get those driven front wheels working for you and as a result you need to get on the throttle far earlier than you normally would, and when you do you can really feel the effect as they start to pull you around any given corner as the rear wheels are pushing you. It takes a little getting used to, but once you’ve got the hang of it the speed you can carry through corners has to be experienced to be believed. The more you try it the more you grow accustomed to the car’s abilities and you do find yourself starting to take liberties with the car.

    On a twisty section of Tarmac it feels immense and I can’t imagine many machines feeling significantly quicker, or significantly more comfortable being treated like this. The 150d is fitted with bigger-than-standard brakes which helps to give you confidence and once you’ve gelled with the car and got accustomed to the levels of feedback on offer you really do start to feel invincible.

    For once I’d have been quite happy if we’d encountered sheeting rain on our shoot, as I can only imagine how much confidence the xDrive system would give you in the wet. Transmitting this amount of power and torque to damp Tarmac in a rear-wheel drive BMW can really show up a chassis’ deficiencies – witness all the criticisms levelled at the F8x generation of M3 and M4 when driven hard on wet UK roads – but in the 150d you could really put all that power and torque to good use. As an everyday, all-season performance car that could quite easily pass under the radar, this unassuming grey hatch really can have few, if any, peers.


    A couple of months back I came away from driving Schnitzer’s take on the 340i xDrive Touring thinking that it was the ultimate all rounder… I’m afraid I’m going to have to revise that opinion – my favourite everyday machine is now the Schnitzer 150d. It’s just a shame that it will remain a one-off show car as I reckon it would sell like hot cakes. As a one-off show car its build cost was in the region of €150,000 and at that price point perhaps there are too many other machines vying for our attention. If my lottery numbers come up though I’d be sorely tempted to make Schnitzer an offer it really couldn’t refuse.

    CONTACT: AC Schnitzer UK
    Tel: 01485 542000
    Web: www.ac-schnitzer.co.uk
    AC Schnitzer Germany
    Tel: +49 (0)241 56 88 130
    Web: www.ac-schnitzer.de

    TECHNICAL DATA #2016 / #AC-Schnitzer-150d / #AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-150d / #BMW-150d-F21 / #AC-Schnitzer-150d-F21 / #BMW-150d-AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-150d-AC-Schnitzer-F21 / #BMW-F21 / #BMW / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-F21 /

    ENGINE: Straight-six, 24-valve, turbo diesel
    CAPACITY: 2993cc
    MAX POWER: 400hp @ 4400rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 590lb ft @ 2400rpm
    0-62MPH: 4.5 seconds
    80-180KM/H: 7.9 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
    EMISSIONS: 177g/km

    MODIFICATIONS
    ENGINE: Installation of #N57S / #BMW-N57S triple-turbo straight-six; AC Schnitzer engine optics
    TRANSMISSION: Eight-speed auto, #xDrive four-wheel drive / #ZF8HP
    EXHAUST: AC Schnitzer bespoke exhaust
    SUSPENSION: AC Schnitzer Racing suspension
    WHEELS AND TYRES: #AC-Schnitzer-AC1 Bicolour, 8.5x19-inch (all-round) with 225/35 tyres
    AERODYNAMICS: AC Schnitzer two-piece front spoiler elements; AC Schnitzer mirror covers (carbon); AC Schnitzer rear roof spoiler
    INTERIOR: AC Schnitzer aluminium pedal set; AC Schnitzer aluminium foot rest; AC Schnitzer key holder; AC Schnitzer floor mats

    As an everyday, all-season performance car that could quite easily pass under the radar, this unassuming grey hatch really can have few, if any, peers.
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    DB11 – 1500 MILES New V12 Aston Martin v Europe

    Aston Martin asked evo to deliver its new DB11 to the car’s international launch in Tuscany. Naturally, we took the long way. Words By Henry Catchpole. Photography By Dean Smith Ain’t no mountain…

    DRIVEN: ASTON MARTIN DB11
    How best to get to know Aston Martin’s new 600bhp GT car? A 1500-mile road-trip should do it

    From the first turn of the wheel, this feels like a different Aston Martin. The knurled rim is familiar as I go clockwise for ‘N’, then anticlockwise for ‘E’ before heading back through the rotational clicks like a navigational safe-cracker for ‘W’. It’s just so much easier to use than any Aston before. Of course, I’m not talking about the steering wheel here (we’ll get to that in a bit), but rather the much smaller, more circular item perched on the transmission tunnel between the seats.

    Peel away the beautiful brogue leather and you’ll now find a Mercedes system underneath much of the switchgear in this new Aston, but any thoughts that this imported technology might demean the ambience of an Aston couldn’t be further from the truth. I haven’t even started the engine yet and the DB11 already feels like it is going to be good company over the next two days.

    I’m currently sitting in the car park outside Aston HQ at Gaydon. Daniel Ricciardo was the first person I saw on arrival (he really does seem to smile all the time) and I’ve just seen Max Verstappen head out in a Lagonda because The Future was unveiled this afternoon in the slinky shape of the AM-RB 001. Clearly the two F1 drivers are happy about the association. But while Adrian Newey’s vision for science fact isn’t due until 2018, the DB11 is very much ready now and its big international launch is due to start in a few days’ time down in Tuscany. This example needs to be there too, and we have the key, so we’re going to do a bit of a grand tour, firstly because this is a new Aston, and secondly because if the ’11 lives up to its GT credentials, a road-trip should be a walk in the park.

    I add in a ‘P’ and then select Newport Pagnell from the list. They say every journey starts with a single step and the 50 miles to Aston Martin’s traditional home certainly seem like a small hop when set against the 1360 miles we need to cover by Thursday evening. However, as well as giving the DB11 a brief history lesson, these first few miles will give me the chance to try the car on a couple of familiar roads.

    The Emotion Control Unit has been consigned to Aston history and there is now just a large keyless key that you can keep in your pocket. On the dash is a row of five glass buttons labelled P, R, Start, N and D, and the middle one glows red as I stretch a finger towards it. What it summons is a new all-alloy, quad-overhead-cam, 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12. Developed by Aston Martin itself, it has 600bhp and 516lb ft of torque and is more powerful than any previous Aston road-car engine apart from the One-77’s naturally aspirated 7.3-litre V12. Yes, it should be very good company.

    The really good stretches of bumpy B-road on the way to Newport Pagnell aren’t long, but they do reveal some interesting facets of the DB11. For a start, there is a surprising length to the suspension travel. This means the DB11 cushions the lumps but sacrifices a little bit of instant precision as it moves through that travel on turn-in. Over bigger hits, even in its firmest setting, the damping doesn’t always control the car completely on the rebound, so it can take a couple of movements to settle. However, the other thing that’s very obvious is that the balance of the DB11 is spot on. Despite a certain remoteness, you still feel in touch with the road, too. Interesting.

    I park the DB11 on Tickford Street while photographer Dean Smith and I decide how to blend traditional Aston with 21st-century Aston. It’s fun watching the few workers leaving the Aston Martin Lagonda Works building do a double-take as they walk past.

    There’s lots of the One-77 in the DB11’s design and I love the way the waist of the car seems to nip in and then the rear arches flare out. The rear of the car in particular is very distinctive and the C-pillar, with its integrated AeroBlade intake, has a little bit of BMW i8 about it (and also a hint of new Vauxhall Astra, but I won’t mention that). Lift up the beautiful clamshell bonnet and you can see the slatted wheelarch covers that relieve the high-pressure area around the wheels, the air escaping through a facsimile of the Vulcan’s bold side-strake.

    We spot a ’70s Vantage wearing a brown paintjob called Cardigan Metallic (seriously) and our old-meets-new vision is captured, so Dean and I head head off for the Eurotunnel terminal where we consume a Burger King, see a lot of excited Welsh football fans and finally board a train at about 10pm. Once on the other side we head for Lille, as Brussels is always best avoided, and eventually find a glamorous Ibis Budget hotel that looks as though it was modelled on an uncomfortable open prison.

    We reconvene at 6AM and set the satnav for our first stop of the day, just north of Stuttgart. Belgian motorways are poor, but the DB11 shows its ability to cosset on this leg of the journey. The attractive, slightly square steering wheel has a button on its right-hand spar that changes the engine and gearbox characteristics, while mirroring it on the left-hand spar is a button for the suspension. Three modes can be cycled through with each button – GT, Sport and Sport Plus – and this morning is very much a GT sort of morning. You can really feel that relaxed, long-travel suspension breathing with the road through the bigger dips. There’s something quite Rolls-Royce about it.

    The seats deserve real praise, too. Their shape is slim and the padding doesn’t look like the sort that will overly mollycoddle a posterior, but they definitely work. Even Dean, a man who seems to have a spine more delicate than a daisy chain, is full of praise.

    We clear Belgium, then Luxembourg, and finally, mid-morning, the DB11 has a chance to stretch its legs in Germany. Unsurprisingly, at this time of day there’s never a clear enough stretch of Autobahn to get near the Aston’s claimed top speed of 200mph, but frequent forays in the region of 170mph are easy. Just moseying along, covering ground at 100mph feels good, and the DB11 feels reassuringly stable, never tense or twitchy.

    One thing that bugs a little are the brakes. The big steel discs feel great when you’re stopping hard, but when you want to just brush the middle pedal, you have to go through quite a bit of pedal travel before you get a reaction, as though the pads are set some way from the discs. Odd.

    We branch off north of Stuttgart and head out into the countryside to a small town with a big industrial estate. The last time I came to Affalterbach, home of AMG, the company had only recently been bought-out by Mercedes, and it seems to have expanded almost beyond recognition since then. Smart, angular new buildings litter Benzstrasse and Maybachstrasse and I keep catching glimpses of the DB11’s sleek profile in big, mirrored windows. We spot a new E63 estate in camouflage and a white GT R looking like the ideal wheels for a stormtrooper. There’s also someone’s Porsche 928 ‘RS’ project car, resplendent in what looks like Nogaro Blue.

    In addition to Mercedes’ contributions to the DB11’s interior, the next Vantage will be getting the 4-litre turbo V8 developed here at AMG. At first I was uneasy at the thought of the tie-up, as the two marques seemed unlikely bedfellows, but I’m a big fan of the AMG V8 and I’m now just intrigued to see how Aston will put it to use.

    Amazingly, no one shoos us away when we park outside the main AMG entrance, but we can’t linger for long and we’re soon pushing on for the Swiss border. We hit Zürich at rush hour but that reveals two very different aural delights. The first is a white GT3 RS that treats us to all of first gear and a bit of second. Lovely.

    The second is from the Aston and happens at every set of traffic lights. As well as cylinder deactivation, the DB11 also has stop/start, and every time the big V12 spins back into life it does so with a wonderfully theatrical highpitched flourish from the starter motor that reminds me of a Lamborghini Aventador.

    We’re racing the light as we reach Andermatt and the base of two passes. The way to Italy is over the Gotthard, but we’re taking a detour and instead heading up the Furka. The reason can be found about halfway up on the eastern side, where a small green sign marks the spot of possibly the most famous Aston Martin photograph of all time. The road has changed a little since 1964, so a replica of the shot isn’t possible today. Also, I look nothing like as insouciantly cool as Sean Connery did in Goldfinger, but the DB11 would make a very stylish modern stand-in for a DB5. As it’s a final pre-production car, it’s even got a big red ejector seat (alright, engine kill switch) button hidden in the centre storage area.

    The real reason for coming here is that the Furka is fantastic to drive. It’s narrow and bumpy at first, which doesn’t really suit this Aston. It copes, but it just doesn’t feel very settled. As we race higher, chasing the sinking sun, however, the road becomes much more DB11-friendly. As the tarmac gets wider and smoother, so the DB11 begins to really flow.

    With the road allowing the car to sit more calmly onto its suspension, you’re free to enjoy the beautiful balance that the chassis has. Ever since we left Gaydon I’ve been wondering where the button for the ESP is. And one last search through the menus finally reveals that if you select Settings, then Assistance, then ESP in the screen to the right of the rev-counter, you have three options to choose from – On, Off or Track. The big, wide hairpins of the Furka are crying out for a bit of sideways fun and the DB11 is happy to oblige. You need to wait until late in the corner, when the road is flattening away from the apex, otherwise the LSD will still allow the inside wheel to spin too much, but be patient and DB11 slides beautifully. It feels very smooth over the limit and you seem to have plenty of time in the slides.

    The ZF eight-speed ’box is occasionally a little petulant on our pre-production car. Especially on part or light throttle openings it sometimes thumps or jolts, but at speed it’s faultless and given we’ve never had any issues with the usually silky-smooth gearbox in any other application, we’ll put that down to preproduction calibration issues for now.

    With alpenglow spreading over the distant peaks and the temperature plummeting, we head back up to the summit of the pass and past the Belvedere Hotel (which looks like something out of a Wes Anderson movie) before stopping to make the most of the view and the light. Part of me wonders whether we should push on over the Gotthard towards Milan tonight, but in the end we head into Andermatt and find a bar and hotel attached to a petrol station. Despite the late hour, they even serve us two huge bowls of spaghetti and a couple of large Weissbier. In the background a television is showing Wales sadly losing to Portugal. It seems a long time ago that we saw the fans at the tunnel.

    At 6.30 the following morning, with perfect blue skies above, we open up the swan doors once more and head for the Gotthard. I’m glad we waited for the light, because it is a truly spectacular pass and one I’ve never driven before, although I recognise the incredible hairpins on stilts from a story that appeared in evo 035 with a Zonda C12S. The road is even wider and faster than anything on the Furka, but it also feels a bit more mainstream. The original road is still visible in the shade off to the side, and looks like it was zigzagged onto the mountain by a giant Mr Whippy machine, so we drop down to investigate. Apart from a lone marmot, it’s deserted, but there’s a reason – the whole thing is cobbled. Deciding that it’s better viewed from afar, we head back to the main road in the sunshine and descend through a couple of open-sided avalanche tunnels, past a military barracks, and on towards the next border.

    At school there was always a sense of relief when the bell went for the end of a lesson with a particularly strict teacher, and I always get the same sensation when I leave the draconian road rules of Switzerland behind and cross into Italy. To celebrate, we stop at a service station and hand over a paltry amount of money for two deliciously thick espressos. Italian petrol stations might be some of the grottiest in Europe, but without fail they always do some of the best coffee you’ll taste anywhere. It’s as Italian as Ferrari. Talking of which…

    We couldn’t not drop into Maranello. The place gets more touristy with every visit, yet you can’t help but love it. We cruise up to the back gates on Via Musso in case anything wearing a ‘Prova’ plate is about to leave, but it’s all quiet on the testing front. We do get lucky on Via Marsala though. This small street backs onto the Fiorano circuit and although Ferrari has tried to stop people watching through the fence, it’s still possible. No one’s there when we arrive but 30 seconds later we hear an amazing sound and soon people are flocking.

    I’ve never really understood the Corse Clienti programme, but seeing an ex-Gerhard Berger 412 T2 from 1995, I ache to have a go. It was Ferrari’s last F1 V12 and the 3-litre engine sends all sorts of emotions fizzing into the hairs on the back of your neck.

    Over a pizza later (go to Pizzeria Mirage on Via Claudia, a little bit away from the factory), Dean and I ponder what the Ferrari rival to a DB11 would be. At £155k the Aston is, relatively speaking, cheap, but the interior feels right up there with anything Ferrari has. It’s much more of a GT than an F12 and not as thrilling as a result, but it’s more enjoyably driveable than a GTC4 Lusso (although the rear seats in the Aston are merely token efforts, albeit with Isofix).

    Stupefyingly full of mozzarella, we restore some sort of metabolic balance with another espresso and set off on the last stretch to Tuscany. A couple of hours later we’re amongst stereotypical cypress trees and rolling farmland north of Siena, and my opinion of the DB11 is crystallising. We go through three different sizes of road in relatively quick succession and its obvious where the Aston is happiest. The smallest, bumpiest roads with corners coming thick and fast are not the right hunting ground, with the big Aston never really recovering composure between each bump and change of direction. The big engine never has a chance to get into its stride, either.

    Step up to something smoother with a white line down the middle and the DB11 is surprisingly adept. You can lean on the front end in tighter corners to the point where you hear the tyres chirrup and yet it never washes out. The big punch of torque, which feels at its most potent around 4000rpm, allows you to work the rear wheels through corners easily, too. Track mode for the ESP also works very well, giving you plenty of slip before it intervenes, and when you throw in surprisingly quick steering and brake-based torque vectoring to help on turn-in, it means this big, 1770kg car can really be hustled.

    Where the DB11 feels at its absolute best, however, is in quick, smooth corners. The final run to our destination has long straights linked with fast bends that can be lined up with perfect sight lines. Down the straights the DB11 hauls as well as you’d expect, piling on speed in great, thrilling strides. Although there’s no denying that the turbocharged engine isn’t the sort of V12 where you feel the need to hang on for the limiter, under load the raucous exhaust note still sounds unmistakably Aston. In the fast corners you really get to enjoy the manner in which the DB11 works its chassis and the beautiful way you can feel the car move as you get on the throttle from early in the corner. Even at speed it’s so nicely balanced that a little bit of oversteer feels very natural.

    Aston wants its new generation of cars (of which the DB11 is the first) to be distinct from each other. This is meant to be the GT in the range and it fulfils that role extremely well. It means it suffers in some areas, but that doesn’t matter so much because it’s got clarity of purpose. And if you want proof of what a good GT car it is, as we arrive at the launch venue, Dean and I genuinely talk about just turning around and driving the 1360 miles straight back to Gaydon instead of flying. I still rather wish we had.


    TECHNICAL DATA #2016 #Aston-Martin-DB11 / #Aston-Martin

    Engine #V12 , 5204cc, twin-turbo CO2 333g/km
    Power 600bhp @ 6500rpm
    Torque 516lb ft @ 1500-5000rpm
    Transmission Eight-speed automatic #ZF8HP , rear-wheel drive, limited-slip differential, ESC
    Front suspension Double wishbones, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar
    Rear suspension Multi-link, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar
    Brakes Ventilated discs, 400mm front, 360mm rear, ABS, EBD, torque vectoring
    Wheels 9 x 20in front, 11 x 20in rear
    Tyres 225/40 ZR20 front, 295/35 ZR20 rear
    Weight (dry) 1770kg
    Power-to-weight (dry) 344bhp/ton
    0-62mph 3.9sec (claimed)
    Top speed 200mph (claimed)
    Basic price £154,900
    On sale Now
    Evo rating: 5+

    ‘This is meant to be the GT in Aston’s new-generation range and it fulfils that role extremely well’

    Clockwise from above: 5.2-litre V12 has a pair of turbos and is Aston’s first turbocharged production-car engine; TFT dials a slick juxtaposition in an otherwise traditional cabin; seats are fabulously comfortable for long stretches; steering-wheel control adjusts engine and gearbox settings.

    Below: the DB11 ghosts past the entrance to Ferrari in Maranello. It’s much more of a relaxed GT car than the £241,000, 730bhp F12 Berlinetta built here.

    ‘I’m glad we waited for the light, because the Gotthard is a truly spectacular pass’

    Opposite page: the introduction of Mercedessourced switchgear is good news for the DB11’s interior.

    Top right: Mercedes and AMG will have even closer links to Aston Martin in future models.

    ‘Under load the raucous exhaust note still sounds unmistakably Aston’

    Below: Aston Martin Lagonda Heritage workshop at Gaydon is the first stop on our journey south; 1970s V8 Vantage parked outside shares some lines with the new DB11, even though the two are otherwise worlds apart.

    ‘I haven’t even started the engine yet and the DB11 already feels like it is going to be good company’
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    MIGHTY FIVE Seriously styled F10 520d

    FIVE STAR Big, bold and very, very blue – MStyle’s F10 520d show car is all about making a big impact. With a dazzling paint job and a heap of stunning styling mods, this F10 is guaranteed to get noticed. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Richardson.

    Following on from the E60, the F10 5 Series has proved to be a pretty massive hit as well as being, well, just plain massive, really. When we first drove the car at its launch we remember thinking it felt more 7 Series than 5 Series and BMW itself admitted that the 5 Series had gone up a size mainly for the US market, where size definitely still matters.

    Among its contemporaries it no longer seems like such a road leviathan but the F10 remains a superb machine, brilliantly executed and a comfortable, elegant and refined motor car. Of course, not everyone wants that and while we’ve not been inundated with modified 5 Series submissions from the worldwide BMW scene, every now and again an example of a non-standard F10 pops up that makes up for the lack of activity and proves impossible to ignore. Case in point: MStyle’s ridiculously blue F10 520d show car.

    Colour plays such a big part in a car’s appeal. You could have the sexiest machine in the world but if it’s finished in some weird colour it’ll be robbed of any impact and visual appeal. Likewise, bold colours on big cars can be a risky move as it can prove to be a bit too much. Well, MStyle has chosen a pretty outrageous shade of blue for a pretty massive car and it works, it really does.

    Okay, not everyone’s going to want their F10 looking as bright as this, but if you want to make an impact this is how you do it. The colour is, amazingly, a BMW factory hue and has the wonderful title of Long Beach blue.

    The name certainly conjures up images of beautiful skies and azure waters, and on a rainy day in Romford? Well it serves as a retina-searing flash of colour that brightens up everything around it and delivers a dose of automotive vitamin D that makes you feel good. As there’s a blue and black combo colour scheme going on across the car, the roof has been painted black which is a good touch as it helps to break up that big block of blue and ties everything together.

    Beyond the paintwork there’s a lot going on here in terms of styling, with MStyle ramping up the road presence and giving this F10 all the visual clout of a haymaker.

    Step one in taking this 5 Series from refined to rowdy was the addition of MStyle’s own M-look body kit; a comprehensive package that includes front and rear bumpers, side skirts and front wings. With those massive front air intakes, wing vents and sculpted rear bumper, this 520d looks every inch the M machine and the quality, fit and finish of the body kit is absolutely spot-on. In fact, only the mirrors and lack of massive brakes give the game away as far as this car’s identity goes. The M body kit alone makes a big difference to the looks, but that wasn’t ever really going to be enough for an outfit like MStyle, so then came the carbon, lashings and lashings of carbon, which contrasts perfectly against the blue and takes this F10 to the next level.

    The biggest carbon addition on the car is without doubt the bonnet, which you might not notice due to the fact that it’s been painted but the fully functional vents have been left bare and they look fantastic for it.

    Sitting below the front bumper is a full-width carbon splitter while a set of MStyle black kidney grilles have been fitted and the headlights have been tinted using Lamin-X film. Heading down the side of the car you’ll spot the black side repeaters, carbon side skirt extensions and carbon mirror covers, while at the back there’s both a carbon roof spoiler and carbon boot spoiler, a gorgeous carbon rear diffuser and the only thing that could possibly fill the exhaust cut-outs on either side is the MStyle quad exhaust, with its fat round tips poking out menacingly. The finishing touch is a set of genuine BMW White line rear lights that have also been given the tinted treatment via some Lamin-X film. With all those carbon parts attached to that big blue body the car looks awesome, super-aggressive and with a tonne of road presence; it’s about as far removed from a virgin 520d SE as you could possibly imagine.

    Styling sorted, a suitably muscular set of wheels was needed to fill those big arches and here MStyle was spoilt for choice as it carries an overwhelming number of wheels from countless top-end companies and for this car, the BC Forged catalogue was called upon. The chosen wheel for the F10 was the HCS-02, a two-piece forged affair with a wide-set, twin-five-spoke design. When it came to choosing the finish, MStyle opted for satin black centres with polished lips and barrels. The wheels are 21s, measuring 9.5” wide up front and a beefy 11” at the rear. They suit the car perfectly, with the centres echoing the black elements around the car and the polished lips and barrels adding a flash of colour that prevents the wheels and tyres turning into big, black shapeless circles, while the concave design adds an extra element. Killer wheels alone are no good if your car is riding like a 4x4 so a bit of lowering was required and while a set of springs would have done the job, if something is worth doing it’s worth doing right so BC Racing was called upon to provide a set of coilovers. Naturally, these are height adjustable but also offer damping adjustment to allow you to fine-tune the ride and handling characteristics. Arguably getting the car sitting just right is at least as important and MStyle’s got that spot-on here, with that big F10 body sitting mere millimetres above the tyres.

    Now, you might think that’s job done as far as this F10 is concerned, but MStyle doesn’t do things by halves, so the interior has been treated to a full black Nappa leather retrim complete with custom blue stitching, with a honeycomb pattern on the seats and doorcards. It really helps to give the interior that extra touch of luxury and exclusivity, without going overboard, plus it ties in perfectly with the exterior colour combo.

    The final element is the addition of a Mosselman Turbo Systems tuning module, which can be seen under the bonnet. The 520d is a surprisingly sprightly machine, the 2.0-litre diesel mill under the bonnet being blessed with a huge amount of torque that ensures even the smallest of the diesel Fives never feels sluggish, but with diesel engines responding so keenly to a little fettling, it would have been silly not to. The module simply plugs in and takes the 520d from 184 to 214hp while torque rises from 280 to 332lb ft – enough to get the big F10 off the line smartly and accelerating briskly; it’s not going to set your world alight, but it’s most definitely a welcome boost in performance.

    With a car like the F10 you might be tempted to go for the subtle approach in terms of styling, but sometimes going big pays off. In one fell swoop, MStyle has transformed this F10, taking it from its humble business executive beginnings and giving it a full-on Hollywood makeover, via Romford. It’s a proper head-turning machine, and every aspect of the car’s styling has been addressed and improved upon, resulting in a car you could happily use daily, cruise in comfort on the motorway whilst enjoying very pleasant fuel economy, before parking up at a show and enjoying being the centre of attention. What more can you ask for from a car?

    Contact MStyle www.mstyle.co.uk 020 8598 9115

    Interior has been finished in black Nappa leather with custom blue stitching and honeycomb pattern.

    Carbon fibre galore on this F10, including roof and boot spoilers plus diffuser and that vented bonnet.

    MStyle has chosen a pretty outrageous shade of blue for a pretty massive car and it works.

    Mosselman tuning module sits in engine bay and takes power from 184hp to 214hp with 332lb ft of torque.

    DATA FILE MStyle #BMW-F10 / #BMW-520d / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-520d-F10 / #BMW-5-Series-F10 / #BMW / #Mosselman / #N47-Mosselman /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.0-litre four-cylinder N47D20 / N47 / BMW-N47 , #Mosselman-Turbo-Systems-Tuning-Module , eight-speed automatic gearbox / #ZF / #ZF8HP /

    CHASSIS 9.5x21” (front) and 11x21” (rear) #BC-Forged-HCS-02 two-piece wheels with satin black centres, polished barrels and lips with 255/30 (front) and 295/25 (rear) tyres, #BC-Racing height and damping adjustable coilovers

    EXTERIOR Full #MStyle #M-look body kit consisting of front and rear bumpers, side skirts and front wing, repainted in BMW Long Beach blue with gloss black roof, #Lamin-X tinted headlights, MStyle carbon vented bonnet, carbon front splitter, gloss black twin slat kidney grilles, gloss black side repeaters, carbon mirror covers, carbon side skirt extensions, carbon boot spoiler, carbon roof spoiler, carbon quad rear diffuser, quad exhaust, BMW Whiteline rear lights tinted using Lamin-X film, tinted windows

    INTERIOR Full Nappa leather interior retrim with custom blue stitching
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    Return to form / #2016 / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Quadrifoglio / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Super / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia / #Alfa-Romeo / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Tipo-952 / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-952 /


    The new Giulia, Alfa Romeo’s latest ‘last-chance saloon’, delivers convincingly where others have failed Words John Simister

    The usual way to start a story about a new Alfa Romeo is to bill the subject as Alfa’s lastchance saloon, the car that has to get it right because credibility, goodwill and the company itself depend on it, and so on. Trouble is, we pundits have used this approach… how many times before? I’ve lost count.

    So, the new Giulia. It has rear-wheel drive, last encountered in the 1985 Alfa 75 as far as mainstream Alfas are concerned. The range contains no parts from any predecessor, nor indeed any Fiat, and peaks with a Quadrifoglio version offering an extraordinary 510bhp from its 2.9-litre, twin-turbo, 90-degree, Ferrari-built V6. This sounds exactly like the sort of saloon Alfa Romeo should be making, and in due course it will be joined by an estate car and an SUV (think Jaguar F-Pace rival). One problem: from the front it’s obviously an Alfa, but the side and rear views are distressingly mid-twenty-teens generic. The roof and windowline, the slanty tail-lights… is it a BMW 3-series? A Jaguar XE? An Audi A4? Why do they all look the same, apart from the Audi’s longer front overhang?

    I’m at the Fiat Group’s Balocco test track, originally built by Alfa Romeo. Two flavours of Quadrifoglio are circulating, quad exhausts blustering grittily with a volume surprising in a four-door saloon. First back in the pits is the manual version. We won’t get it in the UK, but my default position is to favour a manual over an auto so I’m keen to try it.

    The cabin is full of flamboyant sweeps in the modern idiom, with a double dial-cowl whose rims trace a part-helix. What looks like a plain black curve of dashboard lights up as a borderless information screen when power flows through the Giulia’s neurons.

    The meticulous detailing and quality of an Audi aren’t quite replicated here – but what’s this? A Race mode has been added to the usual contrived Alfa DNA control (Dynamic, Natural and Advanced Efficiency).

    Out of the pits, onto the track. Steering? Very quick but not so darty that you overdo the inputs. Balance? Impeccable: minimal understeer, tail happy to help point the nose, lots of grip, the hint of super-friendly, torque-vectored driftability with strictures loosened in the raciest mode. Engine?

    Extremely potent and revvy, but not especially sweet. Its two throttles automatically ease during a foot-to-the-floor upshift, and automatically blip on the way down. But vibration through the clutch pedal and revs slow to drop heighten a slight clumsiness. Magnificent brakes, though.

    Now the auto, a #ZF eight-speed ( #ZF8HP ) with a torque converter and a fine pair of wide-angle aluminium paddles with which to manualise it. Blam-blamblam through the gears; it’s as quick-witted as any double-clutcher, which masks the crankshaft’s momentum and suddenly makes the whole Alfa feel keener, lighter, even pointier. On track at least, it’s absolutely brilliant.

    It wasn’t allowed on the road, annoyingly, but there I tried instead a 2.2-litre, 180bhp turbodiesel (the best-seller-in-waiting) and a 2.0-litre, 200bhp twin-turbo petrol model with a particularly smooth, sweet and punchy engine. Both ride the roads with astonishing – class-leading, actually – smoothness, quietness and control, helped by the very rigid body structure.

    The Giulia range, auto-only in the UK, will be in showrooms shortly. Its prices will roughly match those of the BMW 3-series / F30/ F31/ F80. Does the car itself? For people like us, it surely does.

    Above The Giulia is not quite as luxurious a place to sit as some of its competitors, but once you turn the key you’re unlikely to care – the driving experience is superb.
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