Feature Listing: 2006 BMW 330xi

Although BMW finally equalized the all-wheel drive advantage of its rival Audi as early as the E30, it would take a few generations for the company to offer a truly potent variant of the small four season executive sedan. But when it finally got around to it with the E90, it was a great package. Although the E46 was a hard act to follow, the Bavarians stepped up with an all new 330 model. Now powered by the N52B30 rated at 255 horsepower, it packed even more punch than the outgoing E46. And like its predecessor, the top-of-the-range 330 could be selected with BMW’s constantly variable x-drive all-wheel drive system.

Utilizing a central multi-plate clutch and many computers to monitor vehicle and wheel speed, steering input and throttle/braking, the intelligent all-wheel drive system took the guess work out of poor weather situations. But it was far from the only trick item in the 330’s arsenal. The N52, one of the last developments of the naturally aspirated inline-6 that had been the anchor of the BMW lineup for decades, was a truly special unit. The block was cast from magnesium with an aluminum core. Variable valve timing for both cams meant a guttural screaming at up to 7,000 rpm, yet it was able to return over 30 mpg on the highway. It’s a mind-blowing type of motor that’s just good in every situation and sounds great, too. While the change to the new square dashboard was less driver-oriented, the E90 packed serious computing power beneath its Swiss chalet look; a minimalist design with high quality materials that has stood the test of time well.

Of course, the most desirable of these models were the sport package equipped examples. And, of those, the manual transmission option is the one to get. Welcome, everyone, to just that car:…

Tuner Tuesday: 2003 BMW Z4 Alpina Roadster S Tribute

If the B10 3.5/1 from earlier was overshadowed by the more powerful headline-grabbing BiTurbo, the Roadster S barely emerged from under the positively giant amount of shade cast by the Roadster V8. So outraged was the enthusiast world that Alpina would yank the S62 V8 and 6-speed out to be replaced by a 540 motor and automatic that you could easily have missed the lesser Roadster on offer from Buchloe. Indeed, far fewer of the Roadster S were produced than the Roadster V8; a scant 370 are reported to have been made. In typical Alpina fashion, the S model featured engine, suspension, interior and exterior upgrades. The N52 magnesium block engine was dropped in favor of the M52 punched out to 3.4 liters, with a resulting 300 horsepower and 5 second 0-60 times. 19″ Alpina Dynamic wheels – the same ones fit to its more famous brother – filled out the wheel wells, while Alpina’s unique front and rear spoilers helped to individualize the hunkered down attitude of the E85. Replete with unique interiors and the all-important enthusiast’s requisite manual, it was surprising that more attention wasn’t levied upon them, but such was the effect of the Roadster V8. Someone was paying attention, though, because they went to great lengths to copy the S design. This is not one of the 370 original cars, but it’d be hard for most to tell:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 BMW Z4 Alpina Roadster S Tribute on eBay

Wagons Ho! Super 5-door Roundup

Perusing the classifieds for interesting wagons this week, I came across quite a few and thought it would be a good chance to look at some sporty 5-doors. To level the playing field slightly, all are automatics. While that may cause some of you to groan, they make up for a lack of manual with distinctive styling, plenty of power and rarity that will set you apart from the crowd. Which is the one you’d choose?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S6 on Portland Craigslist