Lifestyle: Motoring – BMW; Bentley; Aston Martin

BMW is to take the unusual step of launching an entire new model series in one fell swoop. It will use next month’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit as the platform for the introduction of the next-generation 6 Series Coupé, Convertible and Gran Coupé.

The new BMW 6 Series models have undergone styling tweaks both inside and out. The interiors have been designed to reflect a mix of sporting and luxury trends with new trim materials, centre console surfaces and lighting, and there is a more extensive range of standard and personalisation features.

The range also features the BMW ConnectedDrive navigation and infotainment package as standard, while Concierge Services accessed through an embedded SIM card will allow drivers to set up a bespoke selection of information and connected-car services.

All petrol models have a sports exhaust system with a switchable valve which adds a more intense timbre to the engine noise, while aerodynamic improvements along with the extensive package of BMW EfficientDynamics technologies mean the six-cylinder models – petrol and diesel – are more fuel-efficient than before.

Through features such as Dynamic Damper Control, Active Drive and Integral Active Steering, owners will be able to create a made-to-measure driving experience, while the latest BMW Head-Up Display and Driving Assistant Plus with Active Cruise Control are intended to minimise distractions and supplement the driver’s reactions to enhance safety.

The new 6 Series range will again consist of three distinctly individual takes on a common theme – the sportily styled Coupé, the Convertible and the longer-wheelbase four-door Gran Coupé.

Almost 80,000 versions of the outgoing range have been sold globally in the past three years with the Gran Coupé now claiming almost half of 6 Series sales.

All three body styles will be available with a choice of TwinPower Turbo in-line six-cylinder and V8 engines featuring BMW EfficientDynamics technologies intended to save fuel and reduce emissions. All engines meet EU6 emissions standards and drive through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The 3.0-litre 313hp turbodiesel engine in the 640d models and the similar-capacity 320hp petrol engine in 640i versions incorporate the latest EfficientDynamics features and aerodynamic improvements. As a result, CO2 emissions are as low as 139g/km on the 640d SE Coupé. However, performance is unlikely to be comprised as each 6 Series will be able to achieve 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds – and in many cases, considerably less. That is especially true for the 4.4-litre V8 bi-turbo 650i models, while the ultimate members of the 6 Series range will again be the 560hp V8-engined M6 cars from BMW’s high-performance specialists.

The suspension systems have been honed to factor in the improvements, while depending on the tastes of each driver, the individual models can be further personalised through options like Dynamic Damper Control, which varies its responses electronically according to where and how the car is being driven; Adaptive Drive, which includes roll stabilisation; and Integral Active Steering, which introduces an element of rear-wheel steer to reduce the amount of turning effort needed while enhancing agility.

Styling changes include new LED headlights, new metallic paint colours and revisions to the interior. The distinctive BMW kidney grille now features nine bars where before it had 10 – a small change, but one that BMW says emphasises the power of the engines through the amount of cooling air they need.

There are new 18-inch alloy wheels for the Coupé and Convertible, and five new metallic paint finishes – Jatoba, Cashmere Silver, Glacier Silver, Mediterranean Blue and Melbourne Red. New wheels of up to 20 inches in diameter are also available.

The interior of the all-new BMW 6 Series convertible The standard leather dashboard with contrast stitching – previously an option on all but the M Sport versions – is one of the most obvious upgrades and the high-gloss black finish on the centre console around the switches for the climate control system and audio system is intended to complement the iDrive system’s more precise Control Display with its chromed surround, the new multi-functional instrument panel and the LED lights to the footwells, door openings and glovebox.
BMW will reveal the UK model line-up, pricing and specification when the cars are revealed on January 9, 2015. However, the company has said the range will include SE, M Sport and Sport versions, depending on engine, with the M6 models as the sporting flagships of the respective body styles.

Bentley raises temperatures with ice-cool charity fundraiser

The Power on Ice experience from Bentley FANCY treating yourself or your loved one to a Bentley driving experience for Christmas – and help a good cause in the process – then this could be for you.

As an added sweetener to its highly exclusive ice-driving experience, Power on Ice, Bentley has donated two spaces as prizes in a fundraiser to help the new international charity, Care2Save. All proceeds from a public competition will provide funds to improve excellence in hospice and palliative care around the world.

The competition, which costs £1 to enter and runs until January 8, can be entered through the charity’s website There is no limit to the number of entries and Bentley is also donating exclusive gifts for those that buy a number of entries, including a tour of Bentley’s factory in Crewe.    
Set in the icy north of Finland, Power on Ice elevates the concept of ice driving to the extreme, with the most powerful Bentley line-up yet. Throughout the four-day adventure, the winners will push a range of Bentley cars beyond the limitations of every-day driving, starting with the first ever chance to drive the Continental GT3-R on ice.     

With expert in-car tuition from Bentley’s Ice Driving Team and four-time World Rally Champion, Juha Kankkunen, piloting the cars on his personally designed tracks is just one part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Hosted in characteristic Bentley luxury, the home of the event is the boutique hotel of Chalet Ruka Peak, which offers additional activities at a slightly different pace. Snowmobile rides, ice-karting and night-time Huskey-sled safari adventures to reindeer farms. Each place normally costs €11,340 (£8,994).       

Care2Save was created by the fundraising team at St Luke’s Hospice, Cheshire, close to Bentley’s headquarters in Crewe.       

Marlies Rogait, Bentley’s board member for Human Resources, said: “Bentley has been a long-term supporter of St Luke’s, valuing its contribution to the local community and the important role it plays in caring not only for Bentley employees and their families, but the wider community as well. We look forward to working with Care2Save more and supporting the invaluable work it does to help hospices around the world.”

Aston Martin Works set to sparkle for diamond jubilee

The first of the Vanquish special editions to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Aston Martin Works  FRESH from delivering 007 his new set of wheels, it is now the turn of Aston Martin’s Works division to bask in the spotlight.
The Newport Pagnell operation, which marks its diamond jubilee in 2015, is celebrating the milestone by commissioning six limited edition sports cars.

The six bespoke cars, all versions of the current Vanquish super GT in either Coupe or Volante form, are being created in association with the luxury brand’s Gaydon-based design team, and its ultimate personalisation service: Q by Aston Martin.

Each of the six cars is subtly different, and each is tailored to reflect one of the six decades being celebrated. The result is a collection of rare and ultra-desirable sports cars that will be instantly recognisable as ‘Works 60th Anniversary’ models.

A number of elements distinguish the Anniversary cars including trim and paint colour treatments. But, perhaps, the most emotive part of each car comes in the form of a fine detail: bespoke rotaries around the major controls in the centre console of each Vanquish.

Each rotary has been cast from metal that, previously, had formed a piston in an Aston Martin engine of the relevant period. These rotaries are then carefully laser etched with Works’ Anniversary wording.

The six pistons have been drawn from engines in the following Newport Pagnell-built sports cars:

1955-1965: DB 2/4 Mk II saloon
1965-1975: DB5
1975-1985: V8 Coupe
1985-1995: V8 Vantage X-pack
1995-2005: V8 Vantage supercharged
2005-2015: Original Vanquish

In each case, the relevant piston has been sourced from an engine that has been rebuilt or reworked at some point in its life.

Design direction for the Works Anniversary cars came from the Aston Martin Design team, led by Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman, while the bespoke elements of each car’s construction have been delivered by the Q by Aston Martin personalisation team at the brand’s Warwickshire factory.

Paul Spires, Aston Martin Works Commercial Director, said: “This project has been a harmonious co-operation across the whole business, developed uniquely to celebrate 60 years of Aston Martin Works at Newport Pagnell.

“I’m thrilled to be unveiling the first of these cars at our Christmas celebration, and look forward to seeing the remaining models being built and delivered to customers throughout the course of our anniversary year in 2015.”

The process of creating the bespoke Aston Martin Works 60th Anniversary Limited Edition Vanquish models began back in July, as the Works team met with designers from Gaydon to map out their ideas.

Dr Matthew Bennett, General Manager of VIP and Q by Aston Martin Sales at Gaydon, said: “The colours of these six unique cars have been very carefully chosen to reflect and celebrate the progress of Aston Martin Works over those six decades.

“Celebrating the past, but pointing very much toward a bright and exciting future, too, these Vanquish models will, I’m sure, very quickly become a notable feature of the brand’s history at Newport Pagnell.”  

Instantly identifiable as Works Anniversary cars by features such as their Anniversary Yellow side strakes and alloy wheels, the six Vanquish cars also feature the new Aston Martin Works 60th Anniversary logo which, like the cars’ colour schemes, has been designed by the team at Gaydon. The vibrant and distinctive logos are etched into each car’s sill plates.

“We certainly gave ourselves some challenges with this project. Coloured side strakes such as these have never been attempted by Aston Martin before, and sourcing pistons from the correct engines in the correct decades was, of course, no small feat either.

“However, we’re all very happy with the end result and we’ve already taken a number of orders from collectors keen to own a piece of the brand’s history,” added Spires.

Prices for the six cars are available on application at Aston Martin Works.   

Well, Christmas is a time for fantasies isn’t it.

Drive safely.