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    Bob Harper
    It really doesn’t seem possible that it’s already been a month since I was last penning these words and, as far as I can remember, I was having a little bit of a rant on how the Christmas season seems to start in late October these days. Now that we’re hurtling towards the festive season I’m starting to get into the mood, although what with deadlines compressing for the holiday season it doesn’t seem like there are enough hours in the day to get everything done. Thank God for internet shopping is all I can say… at least until you’ve opened everything and realised you clicked the wrong size or colour or you’ve ended up with 12 of something when you only wanted one! #BMW-530d-xDrive / #BMW-530d-xDrive-G30 / #BMW-530d-G30 / #BMW-5-Series-Sedan-M-Performance-Accessories-G30 / #M-Performance-Accessories / #M-Performance / #BMW

    As you’ll be able to tell from our cover image, the big news this month is the arrival of the all-new #BMW-5-Series-G30 / #BMW-5-Series which we’ve driven for the first time. Initial reactions are that it’s a superbly engineered executive express that’s considerably upped the ante in both the refinement and comfort stakes, yet it’s still a machine that’s rewarding to drive. The only caveat we have at this stage is that the cars we had to drive weren’t exactly to UK-spec and were, as tends to be the norm on international BMW launches, overloaded with all the optional equipment. BMW seems to have gone all-out with xDrive four-wheel drive on the #BMW-G30 and we were able to test the 530d in this guise, although as the car was in the Luxury trim level (which we won’t get in the UK as no one buys it) it didn’t look quite like a UK market machine. Ditto the #2017 / #BMW-540i-M-Sport-G30 which was in rear-wheel drive guise… and in the UK we’ll only be offered this model as an #xDrive . And while we’re on the subject of the 540i, who in their right mind decided to spec all the launch cars in white with black ‘rimz’? I love the shape of the new Five but this must be the most unflattering colour combination that BMW could have possibly chosen!

    Hopefully when the cars start appearing on UK roads early next year we won’t be seeing a host of white ones, but it’ll certainly be illuminating to sample an entry-level #BMW-520d-G30 without #Active-Steering , #Active-Dampers and the #Dynamic-Drive anti-roll setup. In the past we’ve tended to find that the steering and anti-roll systems actually take something away from the driving experience so I’m hopeful that a bog-standard (if any new Five can be so termed these days) will drive even more impressively than the already hugely impressive cars we were able to drive on the launch.

    As this is the last issue before Christmas more or less all that’s left for me is to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year – let’s hope that #2017 is a good one!
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    High Roller #2016 / #Alpina-XD3 / #BMW-Alpina-XD3 / #Alpina / #Alpina-XD3-F25 / #BMW-X3 / #BMW-X3-F25 / #BMW-X3-Alpina-F25 / #BMW-F25 / #BMW / #BMW-X3-35d-F25 /

    The Alpina XD3 has undergone its midlife makeover and it’s still king of the luxury diesel 4x4s. The XD3 has been subtly enhanced with a series of revisions to accompany the X3’s face-lift but is it still a great sporting 4x4? Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Dave Smith.

    At the recent anniversary celebrations to commemorate Alpina’s 50th year the company’s founder, Burkard Bovensiepen, admitted that he’d wanted nothing to do with the company’s first sporting SUV, the XD3. Perhaps it didn’t initially fit in with his idea of what a ‘Manufacturer of Exclusive Automobiles’ (the company’s strap line) should be producing, but given that everyone (Porsche, Bentley, Aston Martin) seems to be at it these days it made good business sense to enter the fray with its XD3. And it’s been a decision that’s been wholeheartedly vindicated by the fact that the company simply can’t make enough of them.

    When we first tested it in 2013 we were impressed, so we couldn’t pass up the chance to see what improvements have been made with this facelifted machine. The X3 didn’t go through many noticeable changes during its Life Cycle Impulse and, as with the vast majority of BMWs these days, styling changes are relatively minimal. And so you would think it was with the XD3 when you see the #BMW-F25-LCI machine in isolation, but if you compare its looks with the pre-face-lift example, quite a lot has changed. As per the #BMW model on which it’s based the headlights and kidney grilles are more shapely – on the older car the headlight units did look a little like they’d just been plonked on to the car, but the new units are more sculpted and look much better for it.


    It’s perhaps the new front bumper treatment on the XD3 that does most to bolster the car’s looks. While Alpina can take some of the credit for this, much of it should go to BMW as it’s equipped the M Sport X3 (on which the XD3 is based) with a more shapely and aggressive front bumper assembly and to this Alpina has fitted its traditional lower front lip spoiler which not only looks good but will be aerodynamically efficient too. Alpina, after all, doesn’t do things by halves. Having said that the rear aspect of the XD3 looks to be virtually unchanged with a simple rear valance and an additional piece of trim that wraps around the quad exhausts, two of which have Alpina etched onto their tips while the other pair feature the #Akrapovic script as it makes the exhaust system that was designed in conjunction with Alpina.


    Inside there are a few upgrades that accompanied the LCI changes such as switches and whatnot with additional chrome highlighting but the main change in this car from the standard X3 is the lovely Alcantara covering that goes across the centre console around the gear lever and iDrive controller, along part of the dash and onto the doorcards. It’s such a tactile material and really lifts the interior of the car, endowing it with a sporty ambiance and at £580 we reckon it’s an option that’s worth ticking. The standard fit electric front sports seats have the Alpina logo inset into them and this car also has optional Alpina rhombs stitched into the headrests which looks classy and is one of the cheaper items on the options list at £235. It almost goes without saying that there’s an Alpina Lavalina leather-clad steering wheel complete with buttons for the #Switch-Tronic side of the gearbox and that there are also a set of blue-faced classic Alpina dials with their red needles. Overall it feels like a superb place to spend wheel time.

    However, it’s what goes on under the skin that’s equally important and while there aren’t that many changes for the LCI XD3 it’s worth recalling what we’re dealing with here. The engine might have the same swept volume as BMW’s 35d unit on which it’s based but a quick gander at the power and torque figures demonstrate just how hard Alpina had worked on finely-honing this engine. With 350hp and 516lb ft of torque its performance is impressive, with 0-62mph being knocked off in just 4.9 seconds. At the same time its combined economy figure is an excellent 42.8mpg with emissions of 174g/km – both pretty stunning figures for a nigh-on two tonne four-wheel drive SUV!


    No doubt part of the impressive economy and performance figures are also down to the eight-speed #ZF transmission. In its standard form it’s a great ‘box as we’ve seen throughout the current BMW range but Alpina has thoroughly reworked it for the XD3. It’s a given that it runs on Alpina’s software, but in conjunction with ZF the company has changed and uprated about a third of its internal components.

    The proof of the pudding though comes with the eating of the cake so it’s time to slip behind the wheel and see how the XD3 fares. As mentioned I love the cockpit and it engenders a real feel-good factor as you get yourself comfortable and adjust the mirrors to your satisfaction. The diesel ‘six erupts into life with a decent burble – no, it’ll never sound as good as a petrol, but it certainly sounds better than most other machines that sup from the black pump. Trundling out of Nottingham it’s quiet and refined, and provided you don’t tread on the accelerator too sharply it’s remarkably docile. You could be forgiven for asking whether it really has all this horsepower and torque at its disposal.


    Once we’re out of town though I can delve a little deeper into the XD3’s performance envelope and as I pass a derestiction sign and am greeted with a deserted stretch of road I squeeze the throttle pedal to the carpet and even though I’ve driven one of these before I’m still slightly caught out be the ferocity of its forward momentum. The horizon is being reeled in rapidly and it would appear that snapper Smithy who’s following behind in my VW Passat has jumped on the brakes as he’s a diminishing speck in the XD3’s rear view mirror. There seems to be no let up in its quest to overtake the horizon – it just keeps piling on speed at a seemingly unrelenting rate. All good things have to come to an end though and in my case this is because up ahead I can see that what was an arrow-straight ribbon of Tarmac is about to turn into a mini section of Nürburgring so it’s hard on the anchors to discover how the XD3 feels when you barrel into the corners.


    Despite its high centre of gravity there isn’t a huge amount of roll when you throw it through a series of corners and given the roads are dry and I’m riding on a set of gumball (and optional) 21-inch rims its grip levels are huge. Just about the only thing it could do with is a little more feel to the steering as every now and then I find I’m having to wind a little more lock on than I expected. This could be due to unfamiliarity with the XD3, but just a tad more feedback would allow me to place the car a little more precisely.

    Playing with the various settings while doing cornering photography runs tell me that in Sport mode there’s significantly better throttle response but at the same time the chassis has perhaps firmed up a little too much for the road I’m on. Alpina reckons it has made a number of changes to the suspension of the XD3 for the LCI machine, including softening things up in Comfort mode. This seems to be born out with experience behind the wheel as it rides better than a machine running 21-inch rims has a right to but for my taste Sport is too jiggly. On smoother Tarmac it may be fine, but best of luck finding some of that in the UK these days. On the motorway the ride is fine, but what you do encounter is a fair amount of tyre roar… another reason for perhaps sticking with the standard 20-inch alloys rather than these 21s, even if they do look fantastic.

    Just about the only other cause for concern is a certain amount of creaking and rumbling that seems to be coming from the door trim panels – I’m sure it can easily be cured, but it’s not quite what you’d expect from a machine in this price category. As all X3s are made in BMW’s Spartanburg plant in America the XD3 is finished by hand at Alpina in Germany where completed X3s are partially disassembled and then rebuilt with the #Alpina specific components, and I can’t help but think that this is why there’s that bit of creaking from the trim. It’s also the reason why the XD3 will remain such a low-volume seller for Alpina as it simply doesn’t have the manpower to make more than it currently manages.

    It’s not a deal-breaker though as bar the creaking trim the XD3 is a cracking piece of kit. It’s uncannily rapid and can be remarkably economical given the performance on offer. Personally I’d be more tempted by a D3 Touring, but if you like the raised ride height offered by the XD3 and the security of four-wheel drive then it really should be on your shortlist.

    CONTACT:: Alpina GB Tel: 0115 934 1414 Web: www.alpinabmw.co.uk


    The Alpina’s cockpit feels like a classy place to spend wheel time, helped by a couple of options such as the Alcantara trim and the rhombs in the headrests.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Alpina XD3 / #ZF8HP
    ENGINE: Twin-turbo diesel, 24-valve / #BMW-N57 / #N57 / #N57D30T1 / #N57-Alpina
    CAPACITY: 2993cc
    MAX POWER: 350hp @ 4000rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 516lb ft @ 1500-3000rpm
    0-62MPH: 4.9 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 156mph
    ECONOMY: 42.8mpg
    EMISSIONS: 174g/km
    PRICE (OTR): £56,450

    There’s no let up in its quest to overtake the horizon – it piles on speed at an unrelenting rate.
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    Bob Harper
    Bob Harper joined the group Porsche 911 992
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    BMW 8-SERIES CONVERTIBLE

    / #BMW-M850i-xDrive-Cabrio-G14 / #2019-BMW-M850i-xDrive-Cabrio-G14 / #2019 / #BMW-G14 / #BMW-M850i-xDrive-G14 / #BMW-8-Series / #BMW-8-Series-G14 / #BMW-8-series-Convertible / #BMW-8-series-Convertible-G14

    More luxurious than a 911 Convertible, cheaper than an Aston DB11 Volante, the #BMW 8-series Convertible is a hard car to pigeonhole. Let’s focus on what we know – this is a droptop luxo-lounge for four, with a petrol V8 or six-cylinder diesel, and handling that doesn’t tally with a near two-tonne kerbweight.

    In reality there isn’t room for four adults and, while the diesel offers sufficient punch and low running costs, the 4.4-litre soundtrack of the M850i is just better.

    Handles well, too. Suitably taut, with none of the associated wobbliness from the lack of roof, the 8-series turns in hard and manages midcorner lumps and bumps deftly. Thank standard adaptive dampers and rear-wheel steering for that, and #xDrive all-wheel drive that means you can get back on the power early, too. All in all, perfectly placed between the 911 and DB11, and with a refined character of its own.

    First verdict

    Good refinement with a drive that makes you forget this is a ‘softer’ convertible. ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
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    Bob Harper
    Bob Harper joined the group BMW G15/G14 8-Series
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    BMW 7-SERIES 7, turned up to 11 / #BMW-G12 / #BMW-G11 / #BMW-7-Series / #BMW-7-Series-G11 / #BMW-7-Series-G12 / #BMW / #2019 / #BMW-750Li-xDrive-G12 / #2019-BMW-750Li-xDrive-G12

    This glitzy 7-series facelift isn’t subtle, but there’s substance behind the oversized kidney grille

    Licensed to grille, king of the grille – we could go on making poor jokes about the enormous nostrils on Munich’s updated limo but let’s be adult about this, because, believe it or not, that front end is the result of feedback from actual BMW-7-Series customers.

    BMW responded to the call for bolder styling by enlarging the trademark kidney grille by 48 per cent – it’s so big it made the standard badge look microscopic, and designers had to prise a much larger BMW roundel off an X7 to redress the balance.

    The highest point of the nose is now 5cm higher to make the front end look more upright, plus there are thinner head- and tail lights, and a light strip running full-width across the boot. Both the long- and short-wheelbase cars have grown 22 millimetres in length, while bigger vents improve the aerodynamics around the wheels.

    Tall rear-seat passengers might find themselves a little tight on headroom but are easily distracted by a pair of 10-inch displays and a Blu-ray player. As before, everything is controlled by a seven-inch removable tablet taking in seat adjustment, lighting and climate, as well as infotainment and sat-nav.

    Behind the huge honker you’ll find engines ranging from an improved plug-in hybrid to a #V12 petrol, with a new V8 and different versions of the best-selling six-cylinder turbodiesel making up the bulk of the range.

    We reckon the #BMW-745Le-xDrive-G12 plug-in hybrid is a real highlight – it’s now capable of up to 36 electric-only miles and features a more powerful straight-six petrol engine. It’s impressively wafty and serenely quiet-running in EV mode, thanks to the thicker glass now fitted all-round and more insulation in the wheelarches and B-pillars.

    But it’s the superb 4.4-litre V8 750i that’s most rewarding when you up the pace, and the stiff, Carbon Core’d chassis delivers thrills in ways no massive limo should.

    First verdict

    The 7-series remains the best driver’s car in a market where most buyers prefer to be driven by someone else.

    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    BMW designers tried a 50% bigger grille, but no, too vulgar; 48% it is
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    Hidden 928 looks for new home

    LOST & FOUND #1984-Porsche-928-S2 / #Porsche-928-S2 / #Porsche-928 / #Porsche / #1984

    Lancashire-based dealer Chris McPheat has a knack of finding unusual cars. His latest is a 1984 Porsche 928 S2 with a manual ’box that has covered just 31,000 miles. In ’1986 the Porsche was not re-taxed and it has remained unused since, a recent MoT test being the first it had ever been through.

    McPheat has been unable to find out why the car was taken off the road, but a fault with the ignition ECU discovered when it was started may have been the cause.

    The 928 is otherwise virtually perfect, though the paintwork has suffered in storage. McPheat has been through the car mechanically, but is not going to tackle the paint, leaving it for a new owner to do. “The driving experience is as if you are handling a two-year-old car,” he said. “The interior is immaculate, everything works and it all feels new. I took it for a 100-mile run into West Yorkshire and it is a blast to drive.” For details, email mcpheatauto@gmail.com

    “The driving experience is as if you are handling a two-year-old car, it all feels new”

    It seems this car was abandoned in 1986. The Porsche’s paint might need some TLC, but it’s mechanically sound with a good cabin The rare manual has done a mere 31k miles.
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    Bob Harper
    Bob Harper joined the group Porsche 928 Club
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