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2016 BMW M6 convertible review

This M is a GT at heart


Get used to that blinking yellowish-orange traction control light, because you’ll be seeing a lot of it in this heavyweight 2016 BMW M6 convertible. All the power in the world don’t mean a thing if you can put it down to the pavement.

The first M6 came to the states in the ‘80s, a play on the M635CSi sold overseas. We like our names a little simpler in this part of the world. At that point it was praised for its shark nose styling, a top speed of 158 mph and 256 hp, which was impressive at the time. In fairness to the time, David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” was also considered “impressive.” This new M6--generation three—with 560 hp, would lap the old car several times over

But in today’s world of we-gotta-have-it-all, buyers want the biggest coupe, with the fastest engine and a convertible top, AND the automatic transmission. Boy you guys are needy. Thankfully this M6 does have it all, as long as you’re not looking for an enthusiast car.

Long-term wrapup

2015 BMW M3


BMWs are really good at long hauls, so when the mission was to cart 400 pounds of books from One Autoweek Tower in the Motor City 1,000 miles to the authors’ row at the 20th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in Florida, in one day, the staff concluded that our Yas Marina blue-metallic four-door M3 was the tool to best do the job.

There are serious reasons for the staff’s conclusions: We went to Amelia to hang out with BMW clubbers who drove thousands of miles to the concours to honor the men who made heroes out of BMW cars by scoring a win at Sebring’s brutal endurance contest in 1975, setting into motion years of some of the world’s most tense production-car endurance racing.

Our quick M3 helped us see what these folks already know: Forty years ago, the little-known German marque was already a long-haul favorite. At Amelia, racers Bill Auberlen, Brian Redman, Sam Posey and Hans Stuck all related how hauling race cars to tracks across the U.S. helped them for long track days. Redman drove seven hours of the ’75 12 Hours of Sebring enduro in the winning 3.0 CSL, which made our relaxing 814-mile cruise home in the 425-hp 3.0-liter twin-turbo six-powered M3 from Walterboro, South Carolina, in 11 hours seem wimpy.

New BMW 740i and 750i

2016 BMW 7-series first drive

Bavaria goes after the S-class


What is it?

It’s the new 2016 BMW 740i and 750i; collectively the 7-series, the company’s flagship luxury sedan is now in its sixth generation. BMW says the new car sets benchmarks for weight savings, driving dynamics, comfort, intelligent connectivity and intuitive operation. “Modern luxury,” is how BMW officials put it.

Indeed, the changes are many: Carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic is used in the passenger cell, and the car boasts high-tech gizmos galore, including gesture control, wireless charging and an active kidney grille. BMW says it’s the first automaker to mass produce a car using CFRP with steel and aluminum.

The CFRP passenger cell reinforcements -- the carbon is developed in Moses Lake, Wash., and extensive aluminum use (the doors and trunk lid are aluminum, for example) mean the new 7 is nearly 300 pounds lighter. BMW says the cell is derived from its i-series and that the 7 is the first production car to bond carbon fiber with steel and aluminum.

Long-term 2015 BMW M3 third-quarter update

Twenty years ago, the standard procedure for oil changes was “get it done every 3,000 miles.” That was the rule for pickup trucks, SUVs, sports cars—whatever. Times have changed: The third quarter of our long-term test of the 2015 BMW M3 brought us to our first service appointment at the dealer after cresting a whopping 13,000 miles. Those miles included testing and track time, road trips and airport runs, and maybe even a week or two sitting quietly off and on in our underground parking lot. We’ve anxiously trusted the service computers in our cars for years now—they haven’t let us down yet.
The visit was covered under warranty—a nice bonus— but the tech did find a windshield crack. That set us back $1,300 because the car is so new only an OEM replacement was available. In a few years, it might be less of an issue.

2015 BMW 335i xDrive review notes

Still the king?


DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: Give or take an option package or two, this 335i xDrive pretty much defines the average six-cylinder 3-series you're going to find on a dealer lot these days. It's a perfectly lovely premium sports sedan with a silky turbo engine, among the best steering and brakes in the class, and a leather-lined cockpit comfy for four adults. Aside from some lag between the engine/transmission when transitioning between brake and throttle, its driving manners are impeccable.

But is it still the best? The sedan to beat as an enthusiast's daily driver?


I know, wishy-washy as hell, but I'm conflicted about the F30 3-series in general, and the 335i specifically. Much of it is BMW's own fault; looks are subjective, but I don't think this generation of 3-series has the same visual assertiveness previous models had; I actually find the 4-series Gran Coupe a more attractive 3-series sedan (which is what it is). Performance-wise, as competent as the 335i is, the M235i is a more visceral machine with better looks for less money, and it doesn't give up as much interior space as you'd think (for the parents out there, note that 3-series rear seats are too narrow for boosters, forcing your kid to shove the seat base around to try to fasten the seatbelt). For fun and space, go drive an X3; if you

The 540-horsepower and 540 lb-ft output of the 4.4-liter Alpina twin-turbocharged V8 is channeled through an 8-speed sport automatic transmission.

A cut above

2015 BMW Alpina B6 Gran Coupe review notes


ROAD TEST EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: This whole Alpina setup is gorgeous. The hunter green metallic paint sets off the 15-spoke Alpina wheels, and the GC version looks long and low sitting in a driveway. The nose of the 6-series GC is a little too rounded for my liking, but the profile is just great.

Inside, Alpina pushed an already good interior into the stratosphere, as long as you like semi-loud colors. All of the wood is cherry-colored; I can’t say for sure if it’s cherry wood, but it’s the color of cherry wood. It dazzles the eyes when the sun gets in. The dark brown leather seats are inviting and comfortable and I love the panoramic roof, but I wished it slid back instead of just tilted. Also, in an M car, you get red-and-blue stitching; this Alpina has green and blue, which might even look a little cooler. Someone did stop me on Woodward to tell me how gorgeous it was, he was in a Camaro Z/28 -- might have been another journalist.

The M3 delivers 425 horsepower from 5,500 – 7,300 rpm and 406 lb-ft of torque from 1,850 – 5,500 rpm.

Long-term 2015 BMW M3 second-quarter update


The BMW M3 is one of those do-practically-anything cars. It has space for four adults, a big trunk and enough power to light up the tires at 50 mph. What more could the well-to-do enthusiast ask for?

Not much, actually, because we’re enthusiasts. That’s why we picked Yas Marina blue with white leather for our 2015 M3, that’s why we sprung for the $8,000 track-day brakes, and that’s why we hated pulling off the stock Michelin Pilot Super Sports and installing our Pirelli Winter 270 Sottozero tires. The latter signified the end of sticky blacktop and hot laps at the local track.

We put about 3,000 miles on our M3 in the second quarter. That’s about half as many as we did over the summer. We’re glad we installed those winter tires early; they allowed us to get out of even deep snow with a little finesse. We averaged more than 20 mpg in a mix of city and highway driving—beating the 19-mpg combined EPA rating. The Bimmer spent no days out of service, despite cresting 10,000 miles without an oil change.

The BMW X6 xDrive35i receives an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 18 city/27 highway mpg. (The xDrive50i is shown here)

Pointless panache

2015 BMW X6 xDrive35i review notes


ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: We’re more or less legally obligated to refer to the X6 as a polarizing vehicle every time we review one, and for good reason: People either like it or hate it. Well, there’s also a third sub-group that likes it but is sort of ashamed to admit it.

But however you look at it, no one’s really ambivalent about this … crossover?

For the record, I’m not on Team X6. I’m usually all about weirdness, but I don’t get this at all. Who asked for the high center of gravity, bulk and thirst of an SUV but without the visibility, cargo room or the pretense of utility that accompanies that body style? The X6 comes off as bulky and awkward -- like someone force-fed the 5-series Gran Turismo the automotive equivalent of Creatine and it got all swole.

So when a bro rolled up to me, dropped down his window and asked, “That thing drive as good as it looks?” I didn’t know exactly how to respond. Because, all things considered, it drives well. A lot of that is the extremely smooth, punchy inline-six. A quiet cabin and a firm, but never jarring, ride make it feel like a true luxury vehicle. If you attempt to corner at speed you’ll notice that, while sudden body movements can be dramatic, they’re always well-controlled.

The xDrive all-wheel-drive system delivers optimum traction, need-based power distribution and further improved dynamics and driving safety.

No-compromise crossover

2015 BMW X3 xDrive35i review notes


DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: The sticker price still makes my cheeks pucker, but it’s hard to argue against the 2015 BMW X3 xDrive35i as one of the best BMWs available today; if it weren’t for the Audi SQ5 (a more expensive, specialized machine, incidentally) I’d call it my favorite small/mid SUV on the market -- the Lexus NX that recently impressed me is a size smaller. Driving dynamics, interior ergonomics, performance and build quality are all outstanding. For the casual enthusiast, the straight-six X3 delivers all the goodness of a 3-series sedan in a package that feels more spacious, is easier to climb into and out of and boasts a hatch for convenient loading ("Americans don’t buy hatchbacks" my foot -- they buy them by the boatload in the form of crossovers). 

The 328d will feature BMW’s 2.0-liter TwinPower diesel 4-cylinder engine.

2015 BMW 328d Sedan review notes


ROAD TEST EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: Like the BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wagon we had in here previously, the cost to upgrade to the 2.0-liter diesel four-cylinder comes out to be $1,500. As I pointed out in my wagon notes, that’s not crazy, considering that getting leather in the cabin is a $1,450 option. It’s no secret that I like my diesels because torque is a wonderful thing and you can’t argue with the fuel economy that you get with them, but in the case of the 3-series, it means you have to live with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The regular gas 2.0-liter turbo engine in the 328i is offered with a six-speed manual, which is usually the enthusiasts’ choice.

So if you’re a 3-series shopper who can’t quite spring for a M3 and want a sedan that will serve both as your daily driver and the sometimes weekend track vehicle then the regular gas 328i or the 335i may be more appealing because of the offered manual transmission. For an entertaining and efficient daily sled, the automatic-equipped 328d is far from shabby. Maybe you idle through traffic a lot and it is nice to just get into an automatic vehicle after a crummy day in the office.

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