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    Car ELIZABETH’S #BMW-E63 / #BMW-630i / #BMW-630i-E63 / #BMW-6-Series / #BMW-6-Series-E63 / #BMW

    As it’s been a couple of months since my last (and first) report let me give you a quick last episode recap: I bought a 91k mile E63 630i sight unseen, from a car auction in Preston, with the help of a small, specialist trader near me who collected the car on my behalf. The first time I got to actually drive it was when I’d collected it from him, having paid for it and with absolutely no comeback as it was an auction car that I’d bought by myself. How do you think that’s worked out for me? Well, to be honest, it’s not as bad as it could have been. But it’s also kind of not great…

    The bodywork has got some pin dents, there are plenty of chips, scratches, stone chips and a bit of lacquer peel for good measure. But it’s a daily, not a show car, and so these things don’t bother me too much, plus I can always get them looked at at some stage in the future, which I plan to. I had noticed from the auction pictures that the bonnet roundel had been completely destroyed, lord knows how, so I’d ordered a brand new one for the trader to fi t before I collected the car. The suspension feels tired and crashes over bumps, but then it would, having covered over 92k miles now, and I’m throwing some coilovers on very soon so that will be that sorted out.

    The brakes don’t feel great and while the iDrive tells me there’s plenty of meat left on them, there’s also plenty of wobble under braking and they’re not very good at the whole stopping thing, so they’re going to be replaced soon as well. When I got the car it had no mats and driving around with my feet resting on the cream carpets and watching them instantly get dirty made me feel a bit sick so I splashed out on a set of plush, deep pile black ones. Much better. I also noticed recently that the steering wheel roundel has been pressed in and is now concave, rather than convex as it should be. Someone must have dented it and, while you can’t replace it as it has arms that latch around the back of the airbag, you can buy very thin roundels on eBay in the right size that you can stick over the top, so that’s the plan.

    There were, however, a few more serious problems that needed urgent attention, and for these I headed over to BMSport in Bexleyheath, which has looked after all my BMWs for years. I mentioned last time that the driver’s side rear passenger footwell carpet was soaking wet, which was down to a blocked drain hole in the engine bay. Water collects in a compartment by the fi rewall, where the brake master cylinder is located, and, as it’s got nowhere to go, once it reaches a certain level it starts to leak out where the master cylinder is mounted and runs down the driver’s footwell and collects in the rear passenger footwell. Not only do you get a soggy footwell, the water can also damage the master cylinder, so it’s really not great. Jags opened up the driver’s side compartment and, while it was dry, there was a visible tide mark showing us that water had previously been in there and when he pulled out the small rubber pipe that sits within the drain hole itself it was completely blocked with muck and gunk. Once this had been thoroughly cleaned out and replaced Jags poured some water into the compartment and torrent streamed out of the bottom of the car. Success!

    Whilst at BMSport I also got the guys to re-gas the 630i’s air con. It hadn’t been doing a very good job of providing any actual cooling and, sure enough, when they plugged the car into their machine it informed us that the system was low on gas. I think this might actually be the first time I’ve bought a car where the air con has just needed a re-gas to get it working again; that’s what sellers always say it needs, but in my experience it’s always ended up being condensers and compressors that I’ve had to cough up to replace. Initially, after the re-gas, the air con still didn’t seem as cold as it could have been, but it seems like the more I’ve been using it (and I always have the air con on, all year-round) the better it’s become and, in conjunction with using the iDrive to set the centre vent to its coldest setting, the cabin gets pretty frosty pretty quickly now.

    My iDrive refusing to work with sat nav DVDs was diagnosed as most likely a faulty DVD drive and BMSport directed me to a guy on eBay that they use for all their iDrive repairs. After getting in touch he told me he could replace the drive for £150 or, for £400, he could sort the DVD drive and rebuild the mainboard with new components. I decided to go for the latter option because the #iDrive unit can fail completely and with mine now being 11 years old it seemed silly not to in the name of preventative maintenance. Removing the whole unit took me about 20 minutes as I found an excellent video on YouTube specific to the 6 Series with all the instructions I needed; it probably took me as long to find a box big enough for it to fi t and pack it up securely to send it away. The turnaround was a few days and it came back good as new so that was money well spent.

    Finally, we come to the biggest problem and that was the engine almost cutting out at random moments. It was really awful and pretty scary as you never knew when it would happen and leave you completely without any throttle response. The guys at BMSport started off with the most likely cause, that being a faulty Valvetronic motor and as these do fail, I was happy to get a new one fitted as preventative measure. Unfortunately it didn’t solve the problem so the guys got back under the bonnet to work out what the problem was; after eliminating the usual suspects they began searching for other possible causes and that’s when the discovered a massive hole in one the breather hoses. They were amazed it hadn’t thrown up any warning lights on the dash as it was causing the engine a lot of problems, but somehow the N52 had managed to soldier on regardless. With a new breather hose fitted the problem has completely disappeared and the 630i feels very healthy indeed.

    With a new gearbox sump having recently been fitted before I’d bought the car, the only boring maintenance thing left for me to do is to get a new water pump fitted as they are a notorious #BMW-N52 / #N52 / #N52B30 weak spot and do fail, but once that’s done we can get onto the fun stuff and I can’t wait.

    THANKS AND CONTACT #BMSport 020 8304 9797 www.bmsport.com

    BMSport has been looking after Elizabeth’s BMs for years. Compartment where water was collecting.
    Blocked rubber pipe the cause of wet carpet.
    Diagnostic equipment employed to help track down the engine fault.
    New Valvetronic motor has been fitted.
    Air con has been re-gassed and now works properly.
    iDrive took 20 mins to remove.
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    In-car technology. Gesture control, a touch screen interface and #Apple CarPlay bring BMW’s saloon up to date. #BMW-5-Series-G30 fights back in technology arms race.

    / #2017 / #BMW-5-series / #BMW / #BMW-G30 / #Apple-CarPlay

    The BMW 5-Series had some serious catching up to do in terms of technology. No surprise, then, that after being overshadowed by the new Audi A5 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class models released in 2016, BMW’s latest 5-series (Radar), which arrives in showrooms in February, borrows heavily from the interior gadgetry of the 7-series to level the playing field.

    Amongst the armoury is a new optional gesture-control system that enables you to interact with the infotainment system by making hand movements in front of the central display. In some ways this is total tech overkill, but being able to turn the stereo volume up using nothing other than your little finger is certainly a slick touch.

    The car’s head-up display has a higher resolution than that of the outgoing model, allowing for more detail in its graphics, but the biggest update is a move to the latest version of iDrive, which comes with a 10.25-inch high-resolution screen that is touch-sensitive. This touchscreen makes the iDrive system much quicker to use than it is with the traditional clickwheel and finally brings smartphone-like control to the car’s infotainment system. Speaking of which, a new ‘message centre’ within the #iDrive acts as a one-stop shop for text messages, emails and other information.

    Music lovers will appreciate the extensive hi-fi options. As standard you get a six-speaker setup, but you can move all the way up to a full-fat Bowers & Wilkins surround-sound arrangement. This features a ten-channel amplifier, 16 speakers and diamond tweeters (made from industrially manufactured diamond, the rigidity of which is said to improve sound reproduction). If the B&W system sounds anything like the one in the 7-series, it should be utterly fantastic. Rear-seat passengers can also enjoy an ‘entertainment experience system’, which adds twin HD screens and the ability to connect a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One console.

    The 5-series is very much laden with tech, then, but like the 7-series before it, there does seem to be a few unnecessary features. Take, for example, the Ambient Air Package, which will ionise the air inside the car (improving its quality by removing particles from it) and, should you so desire, add some fragrance into the mix. But the best feature in the latest 5-series? Easily the new wireless #Apple-CarPlay , which allows you to interact with an iPhone through iDrive without a cable. It’s currently the best in-car infotainment system out there.
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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.
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    • 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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    / #iPerformance / #BMW-iPerformance / #BMW-740e-G11 goes on sale / #BMW-740Le-G12 / #BMW-740Le-xDrive-G12 / #BMW-G11 / #BMW-G12 / #BMW-740e-iPerformance / #BMW-740e-iPerformance-G11 / #BMW / #BMW-7-Series / #BMW-7-Series-G11 / #BMW-7-Series-G12

    The flagship models in the iPerformance range – the 740e and the 740Le xDrive – have gone on sale in the UK with on-the-road prices of £68,330 and £74,880 respectively. Both models make use of the turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that develops 258hp which is coupled to an electric motor with an output of 112hp.

    The total combined system output is 326hp and 369lb ft of torque which endows the two models with 0-62mph times of 5.4 and 5.3 seconds – the four-wheel drive model’s greater traction off the line accounting for its marginally quicker time. The 740e has an all-electric range of 29 miles while the #xDrive model can manage 27 miles purely on electric power. Their official combined economy and emissions figures are 134.5mpg and 49g/km (740e) and 117.7mpg and 54g/km for the xDrive.

    The 740e and 740Le xDrive’s standard specification includes LED headlights, the #BMW-Display-Key , the #ConnectedDrive navigation package, smartphone integration with an inductive charging facility for the phone battery, and an iDrive operating system expanded to include a touchscreen function for the Control Display and the globally unique BMW gesture control feature. Customers can also look forward to auxiliary heating and air conditioning, which allow them to prepare the car’s interior temperature in advance.

    The heating and air conditioning system of the plug-in hybrid models is supplied with energy from the high-voltage battery and works almost silently due to the electric operation of the refrigerant compressor and instantaneous water heater. The auxiliary air conditioning function is powered by the mains supply when the car’s battery is being charged, while a timer function allows the advance preparation of the interior and charging of the battery to be programmed via the #iDrive menu. In addition, the BMW Remote app allows the driver to activate the auxiliary air conditioning function from outside the car via a smartphone.

    The 740e and 740Le xDrive are on sale now.
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    FULL-ON E70 X5 X-RATED / #BMW

    We don’t see many modified X5s doing the rounds but this full-on, bad boy of an E70 makes up for that in a big way. Slammed, styled and ICE’d up. We don’t feature many X models in DRIVE-MY, but this X5 makes up for that in one fell swoop… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Andy Tipping.



    Good as the X5 may be, it’s not a car that’s captured the imagination of #Drive-My readers, so we haven’t featured that many over the years. This is possibly because it’s a big 4x4 rather than something with retro appeal or an affordable performance machine. Fortunately, what we lack in quantity we make up for in quality with this awesome example. It’s an E70 X5 3.0sd, which means it’s got the twin-turbo diesel straight-six under the bonnet, and it belongs to Am Singh, owner of car audio distribution company #BladeICE .

    Am’s no stranger to modified cars (or feature cars) and you won’t be surprised to learn that some of those have been very audio-focused. “My first car, a Citroen AX GT, was featured in Max Power back in 1999 and a couple of years later I built a JDMspec Lexus IS200 (Altezza RS200) which I fitted a supercharger kit to. It was featured in Fast Car magazine,” he says. “I’ve built some audio heavy vehicles, too, including a Lupo GTi which was featured in sister title Performance VW magazine in 2013. I also own a Chevrolet Astro van which I’m planning to rebuild this year.”



    This X5 was purchased out of necessity when Am and his missus were expecting their second child in 2014 and the family wagon at the time – an E91 330d M Sport – was deemed too small. “I didn’t want to leave the BMW brand as the E91 was a pleasure to own,” says Am. “I found the X5 at Sytner BMW in Leicester. It was a oneowner car in fantastic condition and the back looked like it had never been sat in. The colour and interior combo instantly drew me to it and the spec was impressive too. It’s got the panoramic roof, keyless entry, Comfort seats, Saddle brown leather and, as a bonus, seven seats! Not that we plan to have any more kids, though; two is enough!” he laughs.


    So, how do you go from mild-mannered X5 to full-on feature car? “Secretly I always had plans for the car,” Am reveals, “however, things went further than I initially imagined.” This is something we’ve heard many times before. Six months of standard X5 ownership passed before Am decided that a bit of modifying was in order and started on what was to be an incredibly slippery slope.


    “Initially I purchased some KW V3 coilovers,” says Am. “Then I looked at brakes from the X5 M, which comprised massive 395mm discs and four-pot Brembo calipers. These were fitted and I ran it on stock 20s for about three months, after which I got talking to a new up-and-coming wheel manufacturer in the USA: Brada wheels.” In case you don’t know, Brada produce lovely forged wheel designs and while 20s would be plenty on most cars the X5 can pull off much bigger wheels, so it would have been rude not to indulge, really. “I wanted to go with a BBSstyle wheel with a cross-spoke design and the Brada BR-1 fits the bill perfectly,” Am continues. “So I ordered a set of 22s and these were built to order as they are a fullyforged/ CNC’d three-piece wheels in a staggered fitment. It was worth the wait and I ran them for the few months that were left of summer #2014 then took them off for winter. That’s when my mind went into overdrive.


    “I started work on the audio, as I needed a demo car for 2015. As a lot of the products I distribute were pointing towards OEM integration and exotic high-end sound quality, the X5 was the perfect base to allow me to go for an OEM+ approach and maximise my marketing possibilities. At this time I also picked up a CIC with Combox to replace the aging CCC iDrive system and I made sure it had DAB, too, while Mak’s Retrofits helped with the installation and coding.”

    With plans under way for some impressive ICE, Am decided that the X5 needed more than just an audio overhaul and resolved to completely change the look of the car. While he had originally wanted an X5 M, the price was too much of a stretch so he decided to go for the next best thing, and set about building a perfect replica. “I got to work looking at all the parts that differ on the M Sport and the X5 M,” Am says. “Initially it didn’t appear to be more than front wings, front bumper and rear bumper but it ended up being a lot more. There were many other items to consider, like headlights, quad exhaust, bumper grilles, trims, clips, bolts etc the list grew and so did the spendometer! After about seven months of searching eBay USA and eBay Germany I managed to get the majority of the parts to start the transformation. Some items had to be bought new, though, as they were insanely hard to find on the secondhand market.

    “After a couple months with the X5 M conversion I came across a set of Adaptive LED headlights that were only found on very late model X5s and X6s. BMW actually had it up as a retrofit conversion for around £3000 plus fitting. Again I searched through eBay USA and some US forums and found a complete set of headlamps. They needed a new harness and FRM3 module, which I purchased new, after which I called on Mak’s Retrofits to help me with coding-in all the features of the headlights. They totally transform the look of the car, making the front-end look like the new F models. They also offer functional benefits, such as adaptive control and a light output like I’ve never experienced before. I’ll never feel complete with regular xenon lights after having had these LED headlights!

    “The body conversion took place in spring of 2015 and in the meantime I was left to finish trimming the audio build I had fabricated during the winter. The full setup consists of four Mosconi D2 (full range Class-D) amps, Gladen Aerospace two-way speakers mounted in the A-pillars and the Gladen 201 Extreme 8” slim-mount woofers which utilise the OEM underseat location. Two Gladen SQX 10s are mounted in a trick side-ported enclosure and headed by the Mosconi 6to8 DSP – the brains of the operation. It is linked to the OEM head unit via a high level input but also has full high definition EDR 2.0 Bluetooth audio streaming capability. This means wireless audio playback via tablet or phone, and Tidal or Spotify apps work great for this. “To power the amps I opted to use three XS Power AGM batteries. I mounted them in the OEM location, secured on billet CNC hold-downs. These offer enough reserve power to cope with long audio demonstrations and enough juice to power the vast array of stock electrics throughout the car.”

    Depending on how up you are on your car audio that might well be all Greek to you but for the uninitiated a quick glance at the interior shots reveals that there is a lot of top-end audio gear stuffed into this X5, and the quality of the installation is impeccable. What’s nice is that everything is very discreet. Yes, the two-way speakers in the A-pillars are big but they don’t look out of place and the boot build is beautiful – the enclosure for the Gladen subs looks like it’s a factory item while the installation of the amps in the boot floor is elegant and understated. You probably wouldn’t even notice the Mosconi DSP controller, custommounted behind the #iDrive controls and the fact that Am has retained the factory head unit means that everything is seamlessly integrated and he’s lost none of the numerous standard functions. Beyond the audio, the wood trim has been wrapped in black for a more elegant look while the steering wheel was retrimmed by Jack at Royal Steering Wheels in black Nappa leather with contrasting stitch to match the saddle brown leather on the seats.


    If the inside looks good, the outside is nothing short of gobsmacking. Am may have invested a vast amount of time and effort on obtaining the X5 M bodywork components but it’s certainly been worth it as the end result is awesome. There’s just so much sheer aggression emanating from the X5 M styling that it’s almost enough to knock you off your feet. No corners have been cut, with a proper quad exhaust system having been fitted which sits in a gorgeous carbon fibre diffuser. And, where you’d normally expect to see an X5 in full-on off-road mode, the massive drop that Am has achieved with the KW coilovers gives the car a completely different look. The way the Brada 22s fill the gargantuan arches is just insane. Oh, and the wheels are perfection. The mirror finish on the lips with the brushed centres suits the X5 so well.

    You might have thought that was that, but Am is most not one to rest on his laurels and since our photoshoot the X5 has received a few more changes. “Initially I chose the KW V3 coilovers as I’ve always been an old-skool static type of guy,” he explains. “Despite the craze of air suspension in the last few years I went with coilovers purely because I didn’t want to use up any boot space with air tanks or compressors, as this would take away from the room I wanted to dedicate for my aural pleasure. With more and more cars using the trunk space for tanks/hardline installs and ditching audio in place of it, I wasn’t going to bow down to the air-ride gods, so I stayed static.

    “However, since this photoshoot I had to admit defeat. The KWs were being wound down more and more and as a result I had no suspension travel, often riding on the bumpstops. For a 2.5-tonne 4x4 that makes for a pretty bumpy ride! So I explored all avenues of keeping my trunk space intact and still having air suspension with the trunk looking OEM+.

    “The air compressors are discreetly mounted in the side compartment and the management is hidden out of sight next to the battery bank under the amps. The fivegallon air tank is mounted on the rear tailgate behind a fabricated panel that’s been trimmed in Alcantara, and the tank has been covered in original BMW Saddle brown leather to complete the theme. I mounted the Air Lift controller into one of the front air vents for ease of access and it looks like it was there from factory.”



    Static or on air, it really makes no difference as this X5 provides a visual punch either way. Every show it’s been to it’s a crowd pleaser. A lot of work has gone into building this X5 over two years but it’s all been worth it. Am’s built himself an awesome machine and one that you’re unlikely to see replicated anytime soon, which makes it all the more cooler.

    DATA FILE #BMW-X5-E70 / #BMW-X5-3.0sd-E70 / #BMW-X5-3.0sd / #BMW-X5 / #KW / #BMW-Performance

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six #M57TU2D30 / #M57 / #BMW-M57 / , #Evolve remap, #Eisenmann Race exhaust with quad 90mm tips, #ZF / #ZF6HP standard six-speed automatic gearbox. 350hp, 500lb ft of torque

    CHASSIS 10.5x22” (front) and 12x22” (rear) Brada BR-1 wheels with 285/30 (front) and 335/25 (rear) Pirelli Scorpion Zero tyres, #KW-V3 coilover suspension (now replaced with air-ride), X5 M #Brembo four-pot callipers with 395mm discs (front)

    EXTERIOR X5 M front and rear bumpers, front wings, LED Adaptive headlights, 35% tints rear window/doors, 50% front doors, #BMW-Performance carbon fibre front lip, Vorsteiner rear carbon fibre diffuser, modified front and rear arches, paintwork sealed and protected with #Gtechniq C1 and Exo V2 coatings

    INTERIOR Royal Steering Wheels Nappa retrim, black gloss trim panel wrap, A-pillar mounted two-way speakers, CIC with Combox retrofit, custom fabricated Mosconi DSP controller in centre console, #Gladen-Audio Aerospace 28/80 components in A-pillars, #Gladen 201 Extreme underseat mid bass drivers, 2x SQX 10 Gladen subs, 2x Mosconi D2-100.4 amps, 2x Mosconi D2- 500.1 amps, #Mosconi 6to8 DSP, 3x XS Power XE12- 40 batteries, Sky High Car Audio cabling throughout, boot install trimmed in Alcantara

    THANKS Zane at Brada Wheels, Henning at Gladen Audio, Mak’s Retrofits


    I wasn’t going to bow down to the air-ride gods so I stayed static.

    I always had plans for the car, however, things went further than I initially imagined.
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    / #2016 / Updates for the #BMW-X3 , #BMW-X4 and #BMW-6-Series / #iDrive-2016

    New equipment options have now become available for both the X3 and X4 models which include telephony with wireless charging and the wi-fi hotspot function. Working together with the optional Professional Navigation system, the iDrive operating system now also offers innovative menu graphics for the Control Display in both models, using tile symbols arranged side-by-side, à la new 7 Series. The Chestnut Bronze metallic shade will be introduced as a new exterior paint finish for both cars and a range of new optional light-alloy wheels will also be available.

    For the 6 Series there will be similar upgrades as the middle-range X models – including the wireless ‘phone charging and the wi-fi hotspot as well as the new-style 7 Series display for the #iDrive screen.
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    BMW’s 3.0 CSL Hommage breaks cover #BMW-E9-Concept #2015

    BMW reinterprets the iconic CSL Batmobile for the Villa d’Este concours event Words: Bob Harper. Photography: #BMW .

    It’s becoming a bit of a BMW tradition to reveal a ‘Hommage’ at the annual Concorso d’Eleganza at the Villa d’Este on the shores of Lake Como and following in the footsteps of the M1 Hommage in 2008 and the 328 Hommage in 2011 we now have the 3.0 CSL Hommage that was unveiled at this year’s event. It’s a striking piece of design but as with the two previous Hommage cars it’s not destined for production, although it’s certainly possible that some of its design elements will make it on to future generations of BMWs.

    “Our Hommage cars not only demonstrate how proud we are of our heritage, but also how important the past can be in determining our future,” said Adrian van Hooydonk, senior vice president of BMW Group Design. “The #BMW-3.0-CSL Hommage is a nod to the engineering achievement exemplified by the #BMW-3.0CSL-E9 in its lightweight design and performance. With intelligent lightweight construction and modern materials, the 3.0 CSL Hommage brings the character of that earlier model into the 21st century, showing it in a new and exciting guise,” he continued, summarising the approach the design team took with the #BMW-3.0CSL-Hommage .

    It’s a very arresting design and you’ll be able to make up your own minds as to which elements you like, but to our eyes the proportions look to be just about perfect and from the rear three-quarters, from above and in profile it’s stunning. We’re not 100 per cent sure about the front end though, with those over-sized kidney grilles looking a little out of place and we also feel that the front-wheel arch extensions don’t blend into the bonnet quite as effectively as the rear arches blend into the rear wings.

    There is some lovely detailing on the car and lots of design touches that give a nod to the original ‘Coupé Sport Leichtbau’. Golf yellow was an iconic colour for BMWs in the 1970s and it was one of only four colours that were offered on the original carburetted #BMW-E9 CSL when it was first launched. The black strips that run around the car’s waist are a nod to the past as are the plastic air guides that sit atop each of the front wings as are the BMW roundels situated at the base of the C-pillar by the Hofmeister kink. The hoop at the top of the rear screen and the large rear spoiler would have come as part of the ‘Batmobile’ kit in the 1970s – supplied in the boot to be fitted by the owner to satisfy both homologation and various European legislation requirements.

    It’s a little hard to get a sense of size when looking at the CSL Hommage but it’s a pretty big machine – on a par with the current M6 Coupé, although with the CSL’s wide-arched look it’s a fair bit wider. Wheels are on the large side too, 21-inches in diameter and wearing 265/35s up front and huge 325/30s at the rear. As this new machine is a homage to the original lightweight racer it should come as no surprise that BMW has used plenty of materials that reflect this. Back in the day aluminium was the material of choice but these days CFRP (carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic) offers the optimum weight-to-strength ratio and it’s used extensively in the CSL Hommage. The front spoiler is of CFRP and this helps to direct air to the engine and add downforce while at the side, the lower sill sections are also made of carbon. The car’s obviously spent some time in the company’s wind tunnels as BMW speaks about ‘air flowing optimally along the sides of the vehicle’ while the rear wing provides downforce and the cameras used in place of door mirrors help to reduce drag. BMW has also used its Air Curtain and Air Breather systems that we’re familiar with from the current production range to smooth airflow around the car.

    As is generally the case with its Hommage machinery BMW hasn’t given us a huge amount of information about power, torque or performance but we do know the #BMW-CSL is driven by its rear wheels and features a 3.0-litre turbocharged engine coupled to its eBoost system so we’d estimate that it would have just shy of 400hp which in a lightweight body should endow the Hommage with decent, if not groundbreaking, performance.

    The Hommage also has plenty of high-spec aspects – headlights are a combination of LED and laser lights, while the contoured and stylised rear light setup is also of the LED variety. Inside it’s also bang up-to-date with a very minimalist cabin constructed largely from #CFRP to keep the weight down and there’s just a simple sliver of wood that runs around the rear of the dash which is a nod to the original’s wooden dash. Instrumentation is pared down to the minimum with just a small eBoost gauge in place of where we’d normally expect to find an #iDrive display while the driver makes do with a small display which indicates the current gear, speed, revs and shift point.

    There are a pair of bucket seats with yellow detailing to echo the exterior paintwork and these have sixpoint harnesses. Elsewhere in the interior there’s a fire extinguisher but the rear seats have been banished in place of spaces to hold two helmets (secured in place by a strap when not in use) and there are a couple of covers for the #eBoost accumulator which have what BMW describes as ‘special reflector technology in combination with LED strips that create an impressive 3D effect’.

    There’s no doubting that the 3.0 CSL #Hommage is an arresting piece of design although we would have preferred something with a slightly less outlandish treatment to the classic kidney grilles. BMW reckons that what we have here is ‘the characteristic BMW kidney grille’ that ‘stands tall in citation of the more upright styling of the kidney grille of yesteryear. The size and spatial depth of the kidney grille symbolise the output of the powerful six-cylinder in-line engine with eBoost’. Whatever your view we’d certainly like to see some of the styling elements of this machine – perhaps somewhat toned down in areas – feature on the next generation of BMW road cars, and a pukka road-going CSL for the 21st century would certainly go down very well in our book.

    “Our Hommage cars demonstrate how proud we are of our heritage”
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    The sportscar of tomorrow tested in India today! Electric generation of #BMW #2015 cars. A new generation of sportscars is coming and the i8 is the firstborn.

    As nature changes, species evolve. Everything around us goes through that process and machines are no different. To prevent extinction in the wake of depleting natural resources and tightening environmental norms, sportscars as we know them, are changing. Take BMW’s performance cars for example. The M3 has chucked the beautiful-sounding, naturally aspirated V8 for a wheezing turbocharged six-cylinder mill that manages to be equally enticing to drive. They took the forced-induction path laid down by the new M5 a few years back. But even forced induction won’t keep the environmentalists happy for long. The logical step therefore is going all-electric and the transition point is the electric hybrid propulsion.

    Plenty of concept cars have been built on this theory. BMW had one too - the #BMW-i8 concept - which was shown at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show at the same time the new M5 came out. But unlike most other concepts which have either been archived or awaiting a green light for production, BMW has taken a bold step and put the i8 on the road, virtually unchanged.

    That has its pros and cons. One of the cons is that there are some bits that still look unfinished – like the plasticky look and feel of the kidney grille. Or the exposed carbonfibre at the doorsills. The weave is hardly visible and the edges aren’t smoothened out. The pro on the other hand is that the design elements from the concept look stunning for a production car. The silhouette is a smooth arc hinting towards the car’s clean aerodynamics. There hardly are any air-dams and the flowing bodywork with the floating panels under the glass bootlid makes cars like the 911s or the Aston Martins look like stuff of the past. In fact, I like it so much that I can’t help but wonder why BMW doesn’t make enough sportscars.

    If you are a BMW-purist, you will also notice the #BMW-M1 inspiration in the i8’s stance. The bonnet is low-slung with a deep-dish scoop in the centre, the nose is sharp, the wheelarches are slim and almost in line with the surface of the bonnet and the party trick is those scissor doors. Winged doors like the M1 would make it too much of an SLS AMG inspiration in today’s times.

    The doors and the floating flanks around the egg-shaped glasshouse make the body work appear like an exoskeleton enclosing the passenger cell. The novel ‘layered’ design is like an event in itself and it’s hard to escape its charm, no matter what body style you prefer. After all, this is now the flagship sportscar for BMW and because it is production spec, it comes with more colour options than the plasticky white on the concept. I love the graphite shade you see here and even the all-blue option scores high. The blue accents are standard on all i-cars from BMW and I expect to see them become a signature design element for all future BMWs that will focus on sustainable mobility.

    The layered design makes for thick lower door sills, and generously-sized drivers need to literally slide into the cabin. The door handles are within easy reach too and closing them doesn’t need you to reach far out like you would in the SLS AMG. The layout of the 2+2 cabin is typical BMW, with the centre console and all the controls tilted towards the driver. You sit quite low, like in any other sportscar, but the wrap-around effect of the cabin makes you feel like you are a part of the drivetrain and not riding atop.

    All the controls, therefore, lie easily at hand and there are very few of them too. You have the usual dial for the #iDrive , HVAC, audio knobs and switches, and steering mounted switches for audio and cruise control. Even the stacked user interface for the iDrive infotainment is similar to other BMW cars, save for the different animation between menus. The blue theme seen on the exteriors is also the choice of background colour for the two display panels that form the instrumentation and iDrive units respectively. The instrumentation displays two animated analogue clocks taking up most of the real estate.

    While one is for the speedometer, the usual tachometer is replaced by a ‘power’ meter that instantaneously displays how much of it is being used. The trip and odometers, buried on the lower corners of the panel, are mostly in the blind spot. There’s a fuel and battery gauge too and the latter essentially shows the remaining range for pure electric propulsion, which in BMW-speak is called eDrive. The gauge has a blue arrow over it to denote the eDrive mode, which changes to yellow if the petrol engine is being used to charge up the cells.

    Speaking of which, the i8, being a hybrid, comes with two drivetrains. At the front wheels are electric motors powered by lithium-ion batteries which have a charge capacity of 7.1kWh. A 1.5-litre mid-engined power train drives the rear wheels. The engine belongs to the B38 family which also powers the Mini petrol sold globally. In that guise it puts out about 140PS and 220Nm, but in the i8 it produces a staggering 231PS and 320Nm, courtesy twin-turbocharging. The electric motors contribute an additional 131PS and 250Nm to give a combined output of over 360PS that is good to propel the i8 from standstill to 100kmph in 4.4s and an electronically restricted top speed of 250kmph.

    Our tests managed the sprint in 5.3s which is proper sportscar territory. Contributing to this is a kerb weight of 1,485kg, which is impressively light for a car whose belly is full of lithium-ion batteries.

    So how has BMW managed so keep it so light? The answer lies in the new-age materials and production techniques. The i8’s layered construction is more function than form. BMW calls it Lifedrive architecture. The ‘life’ end is the cabin which is the organic part as the passengers control all of it.

    It is a carbon-fibre tub that sits like an egg in a nest. A nest that forms the chassis of the car, or the ‘drive’ unit. It is constructed using aluminium in most of its components. Between the egg and the nest is the bed of batteries. They took about four hours to charge completely. If there is sufficient juice in them on start-up, the car chooses to boot in the all-electric mode by default. Else, it is the petrol engine that wakes up with a hum. Starting in all-electric mode is like booting a gaming computer - everything lights up inside the cabin; there are sci-fi sound effects and all you can hear thereafter are the cooling fans. That is your only clue that the i8 is ready to get going as there is no vibration, exhaust note or movement to tell you otherwise. The i8 still has the typical BMW gear selector to choose between drive, reverse and neutral modes.


    Speaking of gears, the petrol engine has a six-speed automatic unit, while the electric motors have a two-step transmission. There are paddle shifters as well, should you need more manual control, but believe me, you don’t. The combination of the two transmissions works perfectly well and there is hardly any lag between the throttle input and its effect on the vehicle’s motion. It’s so quick that it makes dual-clutch transmissions seem slow.

    The electric motors are more than eager to catapult the car. It isn’t jerky, but the fact that all the torque is available on a few degrees of throttle input, makes the i8 want to plunge forward even with the slightest dab on the accelerator pedal. In pure electric propulsion, the car can reach a top whack of 120kmph and even at that speed, it only uses about 60 per cent of the battery power. It remains pretty silent through this range and the only noise inside the cabin is from the tyres and the sound from the airconditioning unit. Unless it is breezy outside, wind noise is pretty non-existent even at 120kmph. BMW claims that the i8 will do about 35km in the eDrive mode, but the best we managed was 21km before the batteries ran out and the petrol charging kicked in for good. Like other Beemers, there is brake energy regeneration as well, but it isn’t enough to bump up the electric range by any significant margin. In hybrid mode, the i8 managed to run 19.4kmpl overall.

    While the i8 is in motion, the petrol engine wakes up in three common scenarios – when the batteries are running out of juice, when you exceed speeds of 120kmph or when you push the shifter left to enter the Sports mode. When the latter happens, the hue of the instrumentation changes from blue to red and the power meter is replaced with a tachometer. The petrol motor redlines at 6,500rpm. In the petrol only mode, the i8 managed to run 9kmpl. I don’t remember a single sportscar that I have driven, which gave me an equally good fuel economy even when driven in a sedate manner.

    When you do indulge in spirited driving, which you will every now and then, the i8’s battery pack acts like a power-booster in all scenarios where you need additional torque. There is an e-boost meter as well, which will fill up to tell you when the batteries are pumping in additional torque to prevent any lag in performance during acceleration or cornering. That’s the kind of stuff you get in the P1s and 918s!

    That said, unlike a Porsche 911 or a #Jaguar-F-Type , which happen to be the i8’s natural rivals, the Beemer doesn’t give you a sense of speed. It is only if the surroundings are moving faster or if you glance at the head-up display that you realise that you are at triple digit speeds. It lacks drama. It is so straightfaced that it seems like an F82 M4 underneath. To reduce this effect, the i8 fills up the cabin with a virtual sound and the speaker is bolted between the so-called rear seats. It mimics the effect of a rear-engined sportscar running on a flat-six powertrain and almost ends up sounding like a #Porsche-911 .

    The steering isn’t typical BMW and the electrical assistance robs it of most of the feedback. It is as precise though, and surprisingly it is the only mechanical element in the i8 that feels digital. The rest of it still feels as natural as any other sportscar of our times and that’s an achievement for this hybrid. What is also impressive is the way the two drivetrains act like a torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system. It makes for amazing grip when you push the i8 through corners.

    The low centre of gravity and the linear power delivery of both the drivetrains adds more fun as you can push the i8 harder. In fact, it seem like the computers sense that you are in a sporty mood, as most of the power is sent to the rear wheels. The grip from the optional, larger tyres is great too. The i8 is suspended on 20-inch wheels with a double-wishbone front axle and a fivelink rear axle. The setup is typical BMW – stiff through corners and relatively comfortable over bumps. In the spirit of the 200th issue of DRIVE-MY, we took the car past the 200kmph mark on several occasions (in controlled conditions, of course) and drove over 200km per day for three days. But the car didn’t tire us one bit, it was neither too difficult to drive nor was its ground clearance an issue. So much so that now I want to carry out a practicality test between the i8 and the R8. In all fairness, our journey was on the uncrowded and beautiful roads in and around Pokhran in Rajasthan. It is the same place where India carried out the fabled nuclear tests which propelled it into the future and they were carried out in such stealth that nobody noticed how the project was executed.

    In some ways, the i8 is similar. It seems so natural that you won’t believe so much is different from a regular powertrain. This car is propelling the sportscar genre into the future. Audi’s e-tron or Porsche’s E-Mobility will follow the i8’s footsteps and will be seen on production sportscars soon. The extreme turbocharging, the hybrid powertrain, the new steering system, they are all results of the changing nature of automobiles. But despite this evolution, what hasn’t changed is the driving pleasure that you come to expect from a sportscar. They are going digital, but the i8 is proof that the fun will not die.

    + Futuristic design
    + Drivetrain performance
    + Precise handling
    - Ingress/egress
    - No adjustable suspension

    No opening bonnets here, the engine and the electric motors aren’t accessible without a technician. The seats are nicely bolstered. The charger uses a conventional three-pin plug. The driving mode switches are scattered around the centre console and not clustered together.

    IF YOU ARE A BMW-PURIST, YOU WILL ALSO NOTICE THE M1 INSPIRATION IN THE I8’S STANCE

    The driver-centric cabin is ergonomic, easy on the eye and swathed in leather. The layered design theme matches the exteriors. No wood, but aluminium inserts here.

    2015 BMW i8

    DRIVETRAIN
    Type Petrol - electric hybrid
    Engine
    1.5-litre 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol
    Battery 7.1kWh 355V lithium-ion
    Power (P) 231PS@5,800rpm
    Torque (P) 320Nm@3,700rpm
    Power (B) 131PS@4,800rpm
    Torque (B) 250Nm
    Transmission
    6-speed automatic (P)/
    2-speed automatic (B)
    Valvetrain 4 valves per cylinder
    Power to weight 243PS/tonne

    CHASSIS & DIMENSIONS
    Suspension (F/R)
    Double wishbone (F) /
    Five-link (R)
    Brakes (F/R) 340mm discs
    Tyres (F/R)
    215/45-R20 (F) /
    245/40-R20 (R)
    Kerb weight 1,485kg
    Fuel tank capacity 42 litres
    LxWxH(mm) 4689 x 1942 x 1293

    PERFORMANCE & EFFICIENCY
    0-100kmph 5.3s
    Top speed 250kmph
    City/highway/overall 8.2 / 11.7 / 9.07kmpl
    PRICE: 110.000US CRORE EX-SHOWROOM
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    CAR #BMW-F30-320d-Sport
    YEAR: #2012
    MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 2558
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 36,822
    MPG THIS MONTH: 46.8
    COST THIS MONTH: See text #BMW-320d #F30 #BMW-F30

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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