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BMW X1 FIRST DRIVE

This isn’t a facelift. The ‘new’ X1 hardly even carries that pampered glow a woman sports after emerging from a day spa. 

It’s more like a thick coat of moisturizer than a facelift, even though BMW insists there are a host of new bits scattered around the bodyshell.

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AUDI TTRS PLUS - LAUNCH REVIEW

Not too many people ever gathered around the Audi TTRS’s engine bay and pondered why it didn’t have more power. But that observation reckons without Audi’s desperate current need to stop the TT from Relevance Deprivation Syndrome.

So it now has another 15kW of power to lift it to 265kW, another 15Nm to jump to a V8-esque 465Nm and it’s an altogether quicker machine than it was.

In fact, the roadster version’s 4.2-second blast to 100km/h is firmly trending towards the supercar range, and the coupe is a tenth of a second quicker.

There are a few detailed changes to the front and rear styling of the TTRS Plus, though you’d need to look hard to spot them, and a bit more grip from a set of bigger boots, too. But is it coming to Australia? Audi can’t say yet. It would seem to be a lot of hard work for not very many sales.

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BMW M6 COUPE - LAUNCH REVIEW

BMW is a long way from arriving at the pricing or even the specification list for the Australian M6. Indeed, with the 3-Series barely settled down, an X1 facelift on the way and upgraded engines to scatter through the 5-Series, it’s hard to imagine it’s a top priority.

Still, expect the M6 to sit above the M5, even though it offers less tangible metal for the money. 

That means it will carry at least everything the M5 carries, and that will include M Sport seats that are supportive and terrifically comfortable, with soft initial cushions that eventually demonstrate their long-drive strength with firmer cushions below. 

They’re fully electric, with pneumatically adjustable lumbar support and active headrests, which move to minimize whiplash if you get hit from behind.

Both front seats are heated and each side of the car has its own climate-control brain, so travelling temperature isn’t direct dependent.

Besides the M6 logos all over the place, it has cruise control, it has a fairly disappointing standard audio system and it has satnav with BMW’s now normal permanent stand-tall display atop the dash.

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BMW M550d XDrive

For BMW, this is a calendar-marking day. Before us sits the 2012 BMW M550d xDrive sedan, a car that officially launches the BMW M Performance Automobiles subbrand. If you haven't heard, it's a new lineup of vehicles that will slot between BMW's standard lineup and its M division performance cars. The M550d was built specifically to be the brand's lead-off hitter and it features a unique combination of a tri-turbo inline six-cylinder diesel, all-wheel drive and an eight-speed transmission.

The M550d xDrive is a halfway house between the fastest of the standard BMW 5 Series models and the harder-hitting M5. It's not quite an M5, but BMW claims the M550d xDrive will sprint to 62 mph in just 4.7 seconds and use a mere 6.3 liters of fuel to go 100km on Europe's combined city/highway fuel cycle. There's no EPA equivalent for those numbers, but just assume they're way better than the M5 for now.

AUDI A1 QUATTRO - FIRST DRIVE

There is something wrong with the numbers game Audi is playing with the 2012 A1 Quattro. For starters, it is only building 333 of them. And of those 333, exactly zero is headed to the U.S.

That's not the only thing that seems odd with this all-wheel-drive, turbocharged, three-door hatchback. Some of its other numbers don't exactly sparkle either, though Audi insists all of the black-roofed, white-bodied cars have already been sold.

Consider these specs: It weighs 3,064 pounds. It has a 2.0-liter engine that produces 252 horsepower. European buyers will have to fork over €49,900 to get one. Make any sense to you?