Posts Tagged ‘BMW’

BMW Z3M Roadster

1995 was an important year for BMW. It was the year that they launched their first mass-produced sports car and because of a convenient product-placement deal with the production team of Goldeneye they even managed to get James Bond to poodle around in one.

And poodle he did too because the Z3 was underwhelming. The new BMW ‘sports car’ was powered by a very humble 1.8 litre, four cylinder engine that produced a lowly 114 horsepower. You could buy a lawn mower with more pulling power. The car got slated by the press and Joe Public stifled a yawn. BMW die-hards didn’t think it was a BMW and to cap it all the Z3 was made in the US of A and not the Father Land.

The Z3’s design was also a tad contentious at the time. It seemed that the market wasn’t quite ready for such an avant garde styling exercise from conservative BMW but today the quirky shape seems to have been its main virtue and saving grace. It has aged well and might still encourage a second glance in a car park today.

The phallic length of the bonnet and the stubby rear-end was complimented by swoopy wheel arches, side-vents that imitated the gills of a shark and a comfy, tight cockpit that felt a nice place to be. The car still needed a decent engine though and quite frankly it wasn’t until the company installed a straight-six engine in 1999 that the car became an interesting driver’s car with a proper sporty exhaust note too. Especially when BMW decided to lift the 3.2 litre, 320 hp straight-six from the E36 M3 into the sporty-looking Z3 which could now sprint to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and on to a maximum speed of 155 mph. Enter the Z3M Roadster. That’s more like it.

Apart from the engine transplant a few cosmetic tweaks added a wider rear track, extra vents, exclusive alloy wheels and a delicious quad exhaust system. The interior had a mild-makeover too and bits of chrome were stuck on the dials plus a host of ‘M’ upgrades to differentiate the Z3M from the standard car.

The car was offered in some pretty wild colours too such as Laguna Seca Blue, Phoenix Yellow and our favourite, Estoril Blue.

So where does the car fit in with the ‘Modern Classic’ movement of 2016? Well E36 and E46 M3’s appear to have turned the corner and low-mileage examples are fetching up to £20k in decent condition. The ‘bread-van’ ZM Coupe is heading towards £40k which is remarkable because the odd hunchback-design is not easy on the eye.

The Z3M Roadster has been cheap for far too long but finding a low-mileage example right now is a tough task. These cars are pretty much bullet-proof and therefore owners tended to use them, a lot. The downside of having a great driver’s car is that you want to drive it as much as possible and therefore rack up the miles.

A budget of £10k was entirely feasible a couple of years ago but these days a low-mileage car will be just south of £20k. The Z3M Roadster has come of age and is now recognised as a truly great sports car from BMW. Its collectable status in the future is guaranteed and prices will only go one way from now on.

So how about a 1999 example with only 62,000 miles on the clock finished in Estoril Blue with two-tone blue leather interior? We have been asked to find a new owner for a particularly well cared-for example with excellent service history (BMW and specialist) and unusually the car has had only four owners from new.

This ‘T’ plate Z3M has all-electric heated seats, electric mirrors, power hood, 5-speed manual gearbox and a Kenwood single CD system.

The car has received a major service in October 2015, an air conditioning re-gas, all four original alloy wheels have been refurbished and the MOT expires in October 2016.

For further details or to arrange a viewing of this original Z3M Roadster give The Car Spy a call on 01892 506970 or email sales@thecarspy.net

Sorry this car is now SOLD!

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Here in my (electric?) car….

Posted: January 15, 2016 by The Car Spy in Audi, BMW, General, New Cars, Tesla, Volkswagen
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The company hack recently got t-boned by a Defender and whilst the latter shuffled off with a slightly bent front bumper the poor Audi S3 looked like it had been side-swiped by a demolition ball. Even before making the tentative call to the insurance company the phrase ‘write-off’ was the only polite way we could think of describing the state of our car. And so began the search for a replacement.

The prospect of choosing a new car, depending on your budget of course, can be a daunting prospect not least of which there is simply too much to choose from these days.

However, the criteria were simple. The new car had to be everything the S3 was in terms of practicality, sportiness, fun factor and reliability for a company runabout.

Too many cars are good right now at that level and you have to allow for a bit of subjectiveness when it comes to the badge on the bonnet. Well, you don’t really have to but you end up being picky about that sort of thing in the final stages of choosing the car.

Very long story short, the choice was whittled down to one of the following:-

Another S3, the BMW 135i or the Golf R?

Another S3 was quickly discounted because, well, we had owned one already and we might get bored very quickly with a similar replacement.

The 135i was a tempting proposition. Not the best-looking of sporty hatches but extremely practical and a complete hoot to drive. Not a car for the winter though. Where we are based in the bowels of Kent the roads can suffer from black ice and appearances by council gritting lorries are a bit hit and miss so anything with 300-plus bhp on tap at the rear end is a potential drift machine. Having got used to the S3’s quattro system the fun factor could quickly disappear with the 135i. Strike that one out then.

The Golf R at least has four-wheel drive and based on the press reviews of the latest car it has to be one of the favourites. Great handling, terrific build-quality, very useful performance and you can turn it into a small van if you need to. It very much ticks all of the boxes on paper and yet on a visit to the local VW dealership there was one thing that made us think twice. The Golf Gti.

The Gti is essentially the same car but with a little less power and just the front wheels being driven. It is also less adorned with some of the cosmetic frippery of the R which is a good thing and of course it is cheaper to buy. Given the way this car will be used the Gti just makes the most sense and the deals on the table from VW dealers right now suggest that it is the right time to take the plunge for this hot hatch.

But hold on tiger, there was a left-field player waiting to be considered. A visit to the BMW dealership just down the road from VW threw a surprise candidate into the mix. The i3. Yep, an electric car.

Now don’t get us wrong here but we have a growing respect for (certain) battery-powered automobiles. If you have any doubts about the forthcoming world domination of this form of transport then go and test drive a Tesla Model S. Break yourself in gently with the 70D and then work your way up to the P90D. Even the slowest version will reach 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and the fastest will get there in 2.8 seconds. Speed freaks will love the way the car gathers momentum and in the fastest version you will be hunting down 911 Turbo’s and the odd Aventador to embarrass at traffic light drag races. For the moment though, the Model S is outside of our budget and is a bit too executive-saloon for what we need right now.

Enter the i3. To some it is a freakish design but to us it is a spacious funky-looking little machine that has some interesting and endearing features, like the eco-friendly materials used for the interior. Bits of the door card look like compressed paper but so what? We have suffered decades of naff black plastic interiors in our cars so it’s about time for a change. It is cute and very clever too, like a pet dog. Lots of goodies for the iPad generation will make you feel as though the car knows exactly where it is going all of the time and it will give you lots of notice about running out of juice. Range is about 100 miles but the Range Extender version adds another 80-plus to that.

BMW claim the i3 is their fastest accelerating car to 30 mph and in the real world that actually matters since that is about as fast as you can get most of the time on the South East of England’s horribly congested, pot-holed roads.

A decent drive on a dual-carriageway and stop-start town driving allowed us to test the mettle of the car and impressed us it certainly did. BMW had just released some very attractive financial incentives for buying an i3 so suddenly this little car was heading to the top of our list. And apparently we could bring an end to the melting ice-caps to boot!

But we didn’t buy it. In fact we didn’t buy any of the above. We put a deposit on a BMW M2.

Yep, in spite of it hardly ticking any of the boxes and contradicting our thought process completely the M2 was the car that won our hearts and not our minds.

So not electric this time, but pretty soon battery ranges will be 400 miles plus according to Tesla and that will be a game-changer in the car world. According to a recently published government report for ULEV’s (Ultra Low Emission Vehicles – our bureaucrats love an acronym) registrations of electric vehicles doubled last year from 2014.

Our M2 might be the last of our combustion-engined indulgences, forever. Still time to change our minds though.

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The Geneva Motor Show originally kicked off in 1905 and somehow it is hard to imagine what the event must have looked like back then considering that Ford, Mercedes, Renault and a handful of others were only just pioneering the car as a means of transport for all and sundry.

Somewhere the records might show exactly how many exhibitors were in attendance back then but we can only assume it would be a tiny number compared to the 200-odd that were showing their wares this year which marked the 84th time the event had been held.

Yes we know there are 109 years since 1905 but presumably the odd World War or two got in the way and much of the other political shenanigans that seemed to occupy most of the 20th century contributed to a few of the missing years.

Palexpo, where the event is held, is looking a bit tired and dog-eared these days but the convenience of almost falling off the plane steps into the exhibition centre is very appealing. And for those travelling the one-hour-plus flight from London Gatwick a visit to this particular motor show is a very palatable one indeed.

The smell of continental coffee and croissants is forever present as you walk through the arcade to get to the main entrance for Palexpo and the whiff of Emmental is a gentle reminder that you have arrived in pleasant Switzerland.

All of the accessory and parts suppliers are stuffed into Hall 7 which seems to go on forever until you reach the escalators for the main event on the upper levels. Not sure why the centre has three levels (not floors) because it didn’t appear to be built into the side of a mountain from the outside. Maybe they just like climbing steep things in Swiss land.

On to the cars and most of the main European players attend this event plus the big names from Korea and Japan. Surprisingly though only Qoros appeared to be representing China but gut-feel suggests that is merely the calm before the storm.

Many manufacturers pick Geneva for their first model launches but even this tradition seems to be a declining one. With the growth of new markets around the globe some manufacturers were referring to a ‘European Premiere’ rather than a ‘World Premiere’ for various models.

Wandering around the show and taking in all of the new models on display there was an underlying picture emerging. Cars, for the mass-market at least, are getting ugly. Almost all of the big guns had at least one model that had been subjected to a ‘make-over’ that quite frankly made us squirm. OK the look of a car is a very subjective one but when there are so many Frankensteins on show it prompts a few questions.

Is it the ever-pervasive EU with their daft regulations related to car-design that are having a detrimental affect? Has it become fashionable to be unattractive in the car world? Are the car designers on hallucinatory drugs? Sorry but we are not talking about the odd car here and there which suggests that a very broad-brush is being painted with for some reason or another.

It’s not even worth listing the culprits but you as the reader will decide in due course whether this might be true or not and besides there were enough stunners on show to distract us from the monsters.

Highlights of the show for The Car Spy? Well actually quite a lot but rather than bore you with the finer details we will summarise them for you as follows and follow that up with an album of over 200 images for you to digest. In fact so many shots were taken with the main camera that the battery died (that’s right – no spare with us) but the iPhone 5 made a great substitute that kept us going until the bitter end. So on with the show:-

KAHN – well-established UK make-over artists for premium brands but this year their stand focused on British prime beef from Land Rover in the form of Range Rovers and Defenders. The seriously sumptuous interiors in the Rangies are a sight to behold and the mean, wide-bodied Defenders look like they could scare off gargoyles.

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Mercedes Benz – The new S-Class looks sharp and svelte particularly in Coupe form and the C-Class also earned an extra look – much nicer with bigger wheels though. The model choice is becoming mind-bending with umpteen A’s and B’s too so good luck to anyone looking to buy into that category.

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BMW – the company has now pretty much used up the allocation of numbers from 1 to 8 with the addition of the 2-series and the expansion of the 4-series and again the model choice is dizzying to the head. Prettiest car in the range has to be the 6-series for us especially in Gran Coupe form but sadly the 4-series Gran Coupe looked a bit sterile by comparison. Maybe it was the colour choice for the stand but it just didn’t leave an impression.

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MINI – a car that is fast becoming a contradiction. It is no longer small or mini-like. It is huge. The new nose stretches the car and the Countryman looks as big as an Audi A3. It just doesn’t look cute anymore but the Clubman Concept looked pretty good. Again, not at all small but the proportions look right and if the final version looks similar it should be a winner.

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Morgan – a real antidote to all ‘modern cars’. The stand had a cutaway of one of the models showing the solid ash frame which has been used on Morgans since the beginning of time. Surely the EU will declare it as a fire hazard before long to finally remove from the world one of the few companies to still build a car by human hand using proper craftsmen skills.

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Mansory – Not always a bastion of good taste when it comes to gilding a lily but the metallic turquoise and satin silver Wraith on the stand would have made Rolls Royce proud. It sounds a bit blingy but somehow the colour combination worked very well with the ivory interior and the car deserved a few re-visits from us.

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Rolls Royce – seeing the ‘new’ Ghost up-close gave a chance to see that RR don’t believe in making radical changes to their cars which is a mighty relief amongst a sea of unnecessary nose-jobs. Previous Ghost owners can rest easy – you need (very) sharp eyes to spot the differences.

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Maserati – always a joy to see their cars and not a bad apple amongst them. Star of their stand was the Alfieri concept which proved that cars can still be beautiful. Please make that car Maserati and save us from mediocrity.

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Alfa Romeo – The 4c was much in evidence especially since the Spider is on its way and a white example took centre stage on their stand. Even prettier than the Coupe (without that slightly awkward kink around the B-pillar) it would be unfair to call it a mini-Ferrari but we will anyhow.

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RUF – how do you make a 911 go faster? Take it to the guys in Pfaffenhausen and they will work their magic to produce a Porsche that will embarrass most other Porsches. No real surprises on their stand this year apart from a canary yellow RCT which is basically a two-wheel-drive Turbo and in terms of power neatly parks itself between Porsche’s ‘basic’ Turbo and the Turbo S model. Alois Ruf also had his own personal Connaught Green 964-based RCT which sadly is not (and maybe never will be) for sale.

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Lexus – The RCF GT3. Seriously mental. Enough said. The LF-NX concept. Looks great. They won’t make it.

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Honda – Type R Concept. Just do it Honda and where is the NSX? We are getting very impatient.

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Renault  – A Twizy in Formula 1 guise. So mad-looking they would sell them by the bucket-load if the company accountants were put into solitary confinement.

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Skoda – Vision C concept. There was little bit of Audi A7 going on from certain angles but the Skoda version would be a hell of a lot cheaper to buy and probably one of the best-looking cars to come out of the Czech factory ever.

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Gumpert – a brave company that made a comeback from collapse a while back and while their outlandishness should be applauded it is hard to see how the cars will fit in with a new landscape of P1’s, 918’s and LaFerraris. Outdated is probably the word now. The ‘Explosion’ concept is pointless too quite frankly and totally at-odds with the image of Gumpert.

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Koenigsegg – same comments as Gumpert. In order to survive they need to attract customers away from the new-technology kids on the block but seemingly some people must be buying them.

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Audi – The new TT is definitely better-looking than the out-going model. There are shades of the original model in the design which is hard to pin-down in any particular aspect but the new car looks good from every angle. The more powerful versions will also increase desirability. An original RS2 Avant was also featured on the stand which looked a tad old-fashioned next to the current generation RS4 but has nonetheless confirmed its classic status in the history books.

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Porsche – where was the 918? Not invited to Geneva apparently but the 919 on the stand attracted a big enough crowd anyway. The 911 Targa looks great in the flesh and should be far more popular than Targa models of old.

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Lamborghini – The Huracan was the car hogging the spotlight on the stand and rightly so too. Not as dramatic-looking as the Aventador but a car that will be purchased surely by looks alone. This car will make buying a 458 a much harder decision from now on. Nice choice of colours on the stand too.

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Zonda – the maddest, baddest car-maker of them all. Carry on as usual guys.

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Touring – the Disco Volante (or Flying Saucer) just makes you want to stare at it all of the time. A strange but intriguing shape that draws the eye around the car and although on this outing the car was painted in a metallic green with gold detailing it was as stunning as ever. It is certainly a design that will be talked about for years to come.

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McLaren – the 650S was having its first public showing and in spite of the presence of an ice-blue P1 on the stand it was pulling its fair share of attention. A curious mix of (almost) P1 front-end and (slightly updated) 12c rear-end the car is tipped to be a big seller for the company. Can’t help feeling that the Spider version pulls it off better than the Coupe – the 12c stays in production by the way.

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Subaru – the VIZIV2 concept showed that the designers in the back-office haven’t completely lost their way with some pretty dull shapes that have come out of the factory over the past couple of years. Hopefully this concept will point them back in the right direction.

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Aston Martin – just like Maserati the company still manages to pull a crowd with some of the prettiest sports cars and GT’s available. No big announcements from the company apart from a range of bespoke options for all of the models using the moniker ‘Q’. Might as well milk the Bond connection for all it is worth.

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Jaguar – probably the loudest stand at the show with a huge screen presenting a short film full of expensive actors, Union Jacks and loud, growly V8’s. One thing Jaguar no longer is and that is understated. The F-Type Coupe of course featured star-billing and deservedly so – it is a very handsome car indeed and could easily hold a candle to the Astons only a spitting distance away. The new XFR-S Sportwagon made an appearance in very un-Jaguar bright blue but if that is where the company thinks its market is then who are we to argue? After all they are still the profitable car-maker in the world.

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There were dozens of other smaller exhibits worth a mention too but it’s time for a glass of wine and some Swiss cheese now. Ah yes, they also make very nice chocolate too so we’ll have some of that for desserts. In the meantime enjoy our album of images from the show.

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Finished in Alpine White with Full Black Merino Leather Interior this one owner September 2012 registered BMW M6 has recorded only delivery miles and comes with the following options in addition to the standard specification:-

20” M Double Spoke Alloy Wheels, Tyre Pressure Monitor, Reversing Assist Camera, Soft Close Doors, M Multi-Function Seats, Bang & Olufsen Advanced Audio System, Telephone, USB Audio Interface, BMW Applications Interface, Internet, Sun Protection Glass. Original list price when new £110000 inc vat.

This BMW M6 is available to purchase today – please contact us for details

Please note this car is VAT qualifying.

For further details please give The Car Spy a call on ++44(0)1732 760699 or email sales@thecarspy.net.

BMW M6 Coupe in Alpine White

N.B. This image was created using the BMW Configurator. It is not an image of the actual car for sale.

The New MINI Cooper Paceman

Posted: September 14, 2012 by The Car Spy in MINI, New Cars, New Models
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Is there room for yet another MINI variant in the market? Well the marketing gurus at BMW obviously think so and they have done a good job convincing the bean counters at HQ that there is a case to produce such a car.

So in addition to the existing Cooper Hatch, Clubman, Convertible, Countryman, Coupé and Roadster we now have the Paceman to add to the line-up. Will it end there? Well we might yet see the appearance of the Rocketman but probably not for a couple of years yet.

If you think the new car looks like a coupe version of the Countryman then your impression would be pretty close to the reality because the three-door Paceman is built on the same platform as the Countryman and is almost identical in size. So it can accurately be described as a Countryman Coupé.

Looking at the car from the side the designers have gone for a ‘floating’ roof concept which traditionally you would find on Range Rovers, Evoques and more recently on the MINI Coupé. Basically it helps to accentuate the sloping roof line and adds some length visually to the body of the car. The Paceman will be unique amongst its MINI cousins because it will be the only model to have its name emblazoned in large letters across its rear-end.

BMW say the interior of the Paceman is a bespoke design for this model and much attention has been paid to the comfort of rear passengers by way of a ‘lounge seat’ configuration. The seats have been designed they say to give good levels of head, shoulder and knee room but you can’t help feeling that some kind of compromise must have been made in order to accommodate the sloping roof design. Only a road test will tell of course. The rear seats fold down to give extra carrying capacity in the boot of the car which is very handy.

Engine choices will include two petrol options – the standard 1.6 122 bhp four-cylinder or the 184 bhp ‘S’ version found as an option in most of the other models in the MINI line-up. There are also two diesel option the 112 bhp 1.6 litre turbocharged D or the SD with a 2.0 litre and 143 bhp on tap.

Standard equipment will include air conditioning, powered door mirrors, front sports seats, Dynamic Stability Control, Dynamic Traction Control, Auto Start/Stop (still hate that), Shift Point Display (pointless and distracting) and Brake Energy Regeneration to make sure that the car has its ‘green’ credentials in place.

As usual and like with most other MINI’s you will be able to customise the car to your heart’s content because a myriad of options including bonnet stripes, bigger wheels, special colours etc will be available on offer to prospective purchasers.

The good news is that there is a John Cooper Works version under development too.

The new Paceman is due to go on sale in the UK the 16th march 2013 and prices will start at £18970 on the road.

For further information on the new MINI Paceman or any other MINI model give The Car Spy a call on 01732 760699 or email sales@thecarspy.net

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Finished in Alpine White with Black Nevada Hide Interior this new model, unregistered X5 M Sport 3.0 Diesel comes with the following options in addition to the standard specification:-

20″ M Double-spoke style 333M alloy wheels, Model designation deletion, Seat heating – front, Lane departure warning system, Loudspeaker system – BMW Business, M Steering Wheel, Sun protection glass, Media package. List price £54551 inc VAT

This X5 is available to purchase today at £53996 inc VAT (excluding Shipping/Delivery costs)

Please note this car is VAT qualifying.

For further details please give The Car Spy a call on ++44(0)1732 760699 or email sales@thecarspy.net.

BMW X5 in Alpine White

N.B. This image was created using the BMW Configurator. It is not an image of the actual car for sale.

BMW it seems is joining in the UK’s summer of celebrations by launching limited edition ‘M Performance’ versions of the both the M3 and M5 in a choice of either red, white or blue.

There will only be 30 of each model built exclusively for the UK market with the M3 M Performance Edition priced at £74080 and the M5 M Performance Edition costing £95140 on the road.

The colour schemes are new ‘Individual’ colours available for the first time in the UK and are referred to as Frozen Red, Frozen White and Frozen Blue. Interiors will all be black with the M3 featuring Novillo extended leather and the M5 will come with a Merino leather interior. Body colour-matching contrast stitching, ‘1 of 30’ laser-etched plaques, M Performance Edition door sills and an Alcantara trimmed steering wheel add a touch of individuality to these special editions.

Both of these cars will still feature the latest V8 engines found in the ‘standard’ cars but the M3 M Performance Edition will come with the ‘Competition package’ as part of its specification.

At first glance the asking price for these two cars seems a little wallet-stretching but when you take into account that BMW have thrown in £9790 of extras for the M3 and a whopping £22075 worth of extras for the M5 it puts some perspective into the ‘on the road’ figures.

The M3 and M5 M Performance Editions are now officially available from BMW so potential customers requiring further information are invited to contact The Car Spy on 01732 760699 or email sales@thecarspy.net.

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