The Car Club
The X6 M was the first all-paw M machine when BMW released it in 2009.
It upset purists by not only being 4WD but turbocharged too.
But it was well suited to the nature of New Zealand roads with plenty of torque, traction and wheel travel. And now the BMW M team has upgraded the formula.
The second-generation X6 M (and its X5 M brethren which launches at the same time) is more of the same but all improved. We were fortunate to attend the international launch of the monster M at the F1 Circuit of the Americas in Texas.
It turned out to be quite a sizzler 2014, and we're not talking about summer holiday weather but new vehicle sales, the highest total since, well, ever.
In total, 127,179 new vehicles were registered last year, up 12 per cent on a strong 2013, thanks mainly to an improving economy and a strong dollar and economy.
Sales eclipsed the previous best year of new vehicle registrations, right back in 1984, when 123,247 new vehicles were registered.
Top of the pile in 2014 was Corolla once again, thanks mainly to being the best selling rental vehicle.
The high-riding, double cab 2WD market practically doubled last year.
It was those retails primarily that led to Ford's Ranger knocking Toyota's Hilux off the top spot it has held for over three decades, for Toyota has no competitor in that sector. It's a growth area, particularly when paired with the auto gearbox, and especially in urban markets.
VW added a model like this to the Amarok line-up late last year which should see overall sales rise as the 2WD model delivers most of the versatility of the 4WD models at a much lower price.
The 2WD Highline auto sells for $54,990 while the equivalent 4WD model is an extra $11,000. No, that's not a typo. The constant AWD system of the auto Amarok is trick but clearly you pay for that box of tricks. Even stepping up to the lesser specified 4WD Trendline requires another $7000.
A recently article penned by Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) boss, Mike Underhill, about the use of energy saving tyres rang true to me.
Evidently you can save as much as 15c a litre by using low rolling resistance rubber, equating to as much as $500 over the life of the tyre. And secondly, the difference between a decent tyre and one purchased on cost alone can be as much as 18m in the wet (emergency stopping from 100 kmh). Moreover, a fuel consumption difference of up to seven per cent is possible between the worst and best performing economy-oriented tyres. EECA has subsequently launched an approval rating service for tyres, a tick awarded if the rubber meets certain criteria for fuel efficiency and braking in the wet.
Such an initiative should be applauded as it gives consumers some independent information on what they're getting for their money where previously they were relying on aspects like cost, brand loyality or a salesperson's recommendation.
Where the rubber meets the road is a key factor in car safety.
This year saw some fabulous new entries into the two-wheeled arena, though because of hype and presales we couldn't always get to ride and review all of them.
Examples include BMW's new S 1000 R, a naked litre fun bike we never threw a leg over, and a host of new Hondas, whisked away on a nationwide roadshow so we got no more than a taste of those.
Pity as the BMW and Honda's CB650F might well have been prime contenders.
First though, a quick recap of the hot contenders we actually did ride.
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