12 September 2007

Frankfurt show: BMW X6 and 1-Series Coupe

Big 4x4 coupe and little 135i dominate BMW's home stand

BMW X6

BMW has gone all-out at its home motor show, constructing an entire building in the middle of the Frankfurt arena, so its new metal won't be sullied by having to share a floor with rival manufacturers' wares.

Centre stage in the big BMW house is the X6 Concept, a 4x4 that BMW is calling the world's first Sports Activity Coupe. Or SAC, as we hope it becomes known.

The phrase 'coupe roofline' is bandied about at motor shows with reckless abandon, but in this case it's genuinely apt: the X6 looks low and stretched in profile, and quite distinct from the more upright flock of SUVs.

Longer, wider and lower than the X5 on which it's based, the X6 is being aimed at the performance end of the market, with BMW highlighting the active chassis and something called Dynamic Performance Control.

That means torque can be delivered in differing amounts to each of the four driven wheels, dialling out under- or over-steer and providing, according to BMW, higher levels of grip and lateral stability.

Though the concept was unveiled in hybrid form - a petrol-electric system similar to that in the Lexus LS600h - we're more likely to see the X6 in conventional petrol and diesel guise when it reaches production next summer.

No firm word on engines yet, but expect a couple of six-cylinder diesels and petrols around the 300bhp mark. There's also a rumour on the show floor that a V10 version could follow, designated the X6M.

BMW has also revealed its little 1-Series Coupe in Frankfurt. Essentially a 1-Series with a boot, the Coupe will be produced in 120d, 123d and 135i form.

It's the latter that we're getting most excited about: a twin-turbo version of BMW's 3.0-litre straight-six providing 306bhp and 295lb ft.

That'll see the 135i to 62mph in just 5.3 seconds, and on to an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.

Happily, we can report it looks better than the slabby 1-Series hatch, too. Even in that dubious rusty shade, the boot adds much-needed shape to the 1-Series' profile, making it look much more like a baby 3-Series.

No, it's still not the most handsome little car around, but 'tis definitely an improvement. The only bad news is that there won't be an M version. Boo.

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