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  •   Lucy Hargrave reacted to this post about 8 months ago
    BMW M240i
    The M Performance coupe surprises a sceptical staff writer with its ability to feel more like a proper M Division car.

    / #BMW-F22 / #BMW-M240i / #BMW-M240i-F22 / #BMW-2-Series / #BMW-2-Series-F22 / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe-F22 / #BMW-M240i / #2018

    Our M240i has been with us for a good six months as I write this, but despite plenty of opportunities, I haven’t felt particularly compelled to hop into this 335bhp rear-wheel- drive coupe. Why? Because I’ve simply never fallen for the M240i, nor its predecessor, the M235i, or its hot hatch equivalent, the M140i. To me they’re good, ordinary #BMW s: fast enough and with decent handling, but the M Division influence implied by the ‘M Performance’ branding has never felt overwhelming.

    Then recently I noticed that our 240 had spent a couple of nights in the car park, so I took pity on it. And I found more obvious M-car traits than I was expecting, although, as is the modern way, I had to select Sport or Sport+ mode before these characteristics became apparent. The first was from the gearbox.

    Unfortunately, the abrupt gearchange that you experience with the #DCT ’box in current M-cars has made its way into the M240i’s eight-speed auto. At every full-throttle upshift the change of ratios is so forceful that it sends a shock through the drivetrain. If you change up mid-corner the whole car becomes flustered. Thankfully this isn’t as frightening as in the proper #M-cars , as the 240i’s open differential means only one tyre will lose traction, rather than both, if the gearchange is especially brutal. It’s perhaps the first time in my life I’ve been glad a rear-wheel-drive car didn’t have an LSD.

    Once accustomed to the brusque ’box, things got much better. In Sport mode the M240i feels more willing to weave its nose through a set of bends than any other sub-full-M BMW I’ve driven. Instead of the squidgy-soft chassis I had expected, I found much tighter control, less body roll and more precision. And even despite the lack of LSD, the throttle had a much greater influence on the car’s attitude than I thought it would.

    This is the first M240i I’ve driven with adaptive dampers, and they clearly expand the car’s repertoire: every-day-comfortable on long journeys but sharper when you want to have fun. The M2 may make do with passive items, but the fancy dampers on the 240 do make it feel like more of an M-car when you need it to. Will Beaumont (@ Will-Beaumont)

    Date acquired November 2017
    Total mileage 8798
    Mileage this month 1561
    Costst his month £0
    Mpg this month 28.5
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  •   Bob BMW reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    / #BMW-2002 Beaumont’s taken his classic BMW on a 2000-mile European #road-trip / #BMW /

    With as little planning as possible. That’s how I like my holidays. So at six o’clock one Friday after work, I set off f or mainland Europe – with no tunnel crossing booked and only a very vague idea of how I’d spend the week ahead.

    The first half of the week included going to an ’02 show in Holland (complete with sprint course) and visiting the Mercedes and Porsche Museums in Stuttgart before heading for the German/Austrian border.

    By this point I was beginning to think that I had ruined my car with the most recent modifications. The harsh engine mounts-meant that driving over 60mph on the motorway was intolerable and the vibration through the steering made my hands and forearms go numb after about 20 minutes. But I had only used motorways on my holiday up until then, so I decided to steer clear of auto-routes and Autobahns until I had to head back to England.

    The next day I drove across the Alps, taking the most scenic and exciting route I could find. I crossed the border from Germany into Austria, then headed through Liechtenstein, across Switzerland and back into Germany before ending up in France. I didn’t do any of the famous passes; instead I found roads that were even better suited to my car. The highlights were the Furkajoch (L51) in Austria and the L135 in Germany, just before you get into France. Had I been in something that wasn’t as small, thin and light, the roads might have been a bit too narrow. As it was, the little BMW was in its element, and any worries I had about having ruined my car completely evaporated.

    My route back to the UK – still not using motorways–went via the Nürburgring. I did a couple of laps of the Nordschleife, of course, the 2002 feeling underpowered but performing excellently. After that I stopped off at the Classic Spa Six Hours, before finally switching to motorways for the slow, numbing trip back home.

    You might expect that driving an old car for over 2000miles in a week – including laps of the Nordschleife And many timed attempts at a sprint course – would lead to constant mechanical problems, but in fact there were only two very minor issues. First, the passenger-side wiper broke, but I managed to reattach it with lots of insulation tape. Secondly, the end of a fuel pipe to one of the carbs had perished and cracked, and so started to leak fuel. But all I had to do here was take off the pipe, cut the perished end off and reattach it.

    With no major dramas but lots Of great driving, that’s what I call a successful holiday!

    Driver’s log
    Date acquired July 2008
    Total mileage 145,000-ish
    Mileage this month 2200-ish
    Costs this month £0
    Mpg this month 18-ish

    Clockwise from above: on the Eurotunnel; at a 2002 show in Holland; lapping the Nürburgring; on the stunning Furkajoch in Austria.
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  •   Mark Dixon reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    Audi S5 Audi’s mid-sized coupe seemed a little flat on its European launch. So does it come to life in the UK?

    When we first drove Audi’s new S5, in Portugal, it felt balanced, quick and supremely assured. What it failed to convey on those sun-baked roads outside Porto was a sense of adjustability and, for want of a better word, fun. Now it’s back for a second shot, this time on the colder, damper and altogether more challenging roads of the UK, to see if there’s an entertainer hidden beneath those chiselled lines.

    First, a recap. For the new S5 a 3-litre turbocharged #V6 replaces the outgoing car’s #supercharged-V6 unit. It produces 349bhp and 369lb ft – 21bhp and 44lb ft more than before. As you’d expect from a performance Audi, there’s four-wheel drive, specifically the latest Quattro system, which features an electronic clutch to control the centre diff. But the biggest change is the gearbox. Out goes the seven-speed dual-clutch unit, in comes an eight-speed torqueconverter automatic. Our test car is also fitted with Audi’s electronically controlled rear sport differential – a £1200 option.

    Grey seats, black leather and carbonfibre make the interior a slightly gloomy place, but it oozes quality. There’s very little fuss or decoration and the dash layout and centre console will be familiar to A4 drivers. Audi’s virtual Cockpit is also now available in the S5, its 12.3-inch multi-function display replacing the traditional instruments behind the steering wheel.

    The new engine ignites with a subtlety and restraint that characterises the S5. There’s no burst of revs, no pops or crackles; it just hums away, idling quietly. At low revs all you hear is a distant burbling from the exhaust, but this V6 is eager to spin and as engine speed rises, a deep growl percolates from the exhaust, complemented by a faint whooshing from the turbo.

    This isn’t the most distinctive engine and Audi hasn’t engineered-in any histrionics to compensate for the lack of character. It feels honest, though, and you have to respect it for that. Don’t mistake the lack of theatre for a shortage of substance, though. With gearchanges that are quick most of the time, if not as snappy as a DCT’s, the S5 will reach 62mph in a claimed 4.7 seconds, which is two-tenths quicker than the model it replaces.

    In typical Audi style the new S5 will cover ground without fuss or drama when driven briskly, but where we found it a little flat on its feet during our first drive, in the right conditions – i.e. in the wet – you can encourage the S5 to demonstrate its (well hidden) exuberant side. Lean on the grip the front axle and tyres generate – and there’s plenty to call upon – and when the nose is turned in, lift off the throttle and dab the brakes. While the nose will stay hooked, the rear will arc wide, then you just need to reapply the throttle to neutralise the fun.

    There’s a sense you’re tricking the S5 into behaving in this extrovert way, and that’s because you are, but pair the S5’s turn-in grip with its overwhelming corner-exit performance and stability and it deals its trump card: making devastating progress along almost any road. Fun? No. Impressive? Mightily so.

    In essence the new S5 fulfils your expectations of a 2017 performance Audi: safe, secure, predictable and faster than the competition. But it can deliver more, and satisfaction can be had from teasing the S5 when it’s at its limit. Ultimately, though, if rapid progress is your thing, the S5 has plenty going for it, but if you prefer a car that offers a challenge, you may prefer to look elsewhere.

    ‘There is a sense that you’re tricking the car into behaving like an extrovert’

    Technical data specification #Audi-S5-Coupé / #2017-Audi-S5-Coupé / #2017-Audi-S5 / #Audi-A5-Coupe / #Audi / #2017 / #V6 / #Audi-A5 / #Audi-A5-Typ-F5 / #Audi-A5-F5 / #Audi-S5-Coupé-F5 / #Audi-S5-Coupé-Typ-F5 / #Audi-S5-Typ-F5 / #Audi-S5-F5 / #Audi-A5-Coupé-Typ-F5 / #Audi-Typ-F5 /

    Engine V6, 2995cc, turbo
    CO2 170g/km
    Power 349bhp @ 5400-6400rpm DIN
    Torque 369lb ft @ 1370-4500rpm DIN
    4.7sec (claimed)
    Top speed
    155mph (limited)
    Weight 1615kg (220bhp/ton)
    Price UK £47,000

    + Chassis rewards commitment
    - Plain engine
    Rating 3.5
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  •   Elizabeth reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    BMW 2002 The engine and axles are in, but springs have proved a pain

    / #BMW-2002 / #BMW

    Moving the 2002 to a more suitable location – a workshop rather than a conservatory – has meant that it’s been possible to carry out some real mechanical work on it. But before I could fit any major components, such as the engine and axles, I had to remake all of the hard brake lines that run through the engine bay and down the length of the car.

    It was a job I really wasn’t looking forward to, as I knew I wouldn’t be able to bend each pipe to the perfect angles to match my ludicrously high standards. And I was right. But I did manage to make them look neater than I ever thought I would, even if achieving this took me around six weeks of working on them every weekend.
    As well as making new brake lines I had to incorporate a new restrictor valve. OK, I didn’t have to – as I’ll be fitting the same rear drums I used before I could have just reinstalled the original unit that limited the pressure to the back axle at a fixed rate. But I wanted to install a variable one so that if, one day in the future, I decide to put disc brakes on the back, I can tone down their effectiveness.

    So while the braking system was apart it seemed silly not to include the valve, plus I’d also get the opportunity to tweak and fettle the brake bias. But where to put it? I bought it months ago, but only recently decided that just to the left of the handbrake was the ideal place for access and neatness of brake lines.

    After all that, the back axle was ready to go on. I refurbished the driveshafts with new gaiters and a lick of paint, and tidied up the diff casing with plenty of smooth black Hammerite – I think 50 per cent of the car’s final weight will be made up of smooth black Hammerite…

    The Gripper limited-slip differential will remain as before, with its same low 4.11:1 final-drive ratio and hilariously aggressive locking action. Next was the front axle and engine. For this I needed as many hands and eyes as possible to install it in without anything colliding with the immaculate bodywork. With the motor and gearbox on the front subframe, my dad, brother and I suspended the lot from a hoist through the bonnet. We then lowered the car on the ramp while raising the engine and front subframe, doing both at a glacial pace, until it all lined up. It was tense, but with many hands and reams of blue 3M masking tape, the blue paint remained blemish-free and my sanity intact.

    With the subframes and suspension arms attached, the Bilstein dampers and Gaz top mounts could go on. And the springs. Oh, what a debacle the springs have been. Bilstein suggested a set that sounded way too stiff, so Eibach helped out by testing the stiffness of my old springs and suggesting options it had available. After consulting with the technicians at Bilstein again, we settled on an 80N/mm main spring with a 20N/mm tender at the front, and progressive rears that are at 72N/ mm when static. The springs are proportionally a little softer at the front than the rear, which is the opposite way round to before, and exactly what I wanted to compensate for the slightly-too-stiff front anti-roll bar. However, overall the springs are 100 per cent stiffer than my old ones…
    Is it going to be too stiff? For most people, probably. For the person (me) who thinks a full roll-cage, harnesses, brake-bias adjustment, a diff that locks up with only the merest hint of any torque and a sprint-like final-drive ratio is acceptable on a road car, probably not.

    Will Beaumont (@ Wil-lBeaumont)
    Date acquired July 2008
    Total mileage 145,050-ish
    Mileage this month 0
    Costs this month £298 brake fittings and lines
    £500.40 springs (plus as much smooth black Hammerite as I can afford)
    Mpg this month n/a

    Above: work on the Beemer has forged ahead now that the 2002 is in the workshop, with engine, gearbox and suspension now all in place. Left: making new brake lines proved time-consuming.
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  •   Russ Smith reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    CAR: #BMW-2002 / #BMW /

    The classic BMW gets a new home and a new engine

    The 2002 is finally in a place appropriate for a car – a workshop. As amusing and as ludicrous as it was having a half-built BMW in my conservatory, the big temperature fluctuations made it an unpleasant environment to work in. It was nowhere near any tools, either.

    The car’s relocation has coincided with the arrival of its freshly rebuilt engine. I bought the new parts for the motor many years ago, but the actual build was delayed when I got carried away having the car painted. I decided not to build the engine myself; the car’s previous engine was assembled at home, but to do the new parts justice I thought it was better to assign them to the expert hands of Steve Campbell at Thunder Engineering.

    The specs of the new motor, working from the bottom up, are: baffled sump; standard crank and rods but with ARP fasteners; 92mm custom forged pistons to provide an 11:1 compression ratio (the bore increases capacity to 2.1 litres); standard valves; a 304-degree Schrick camshaft and uprated valve springs; 45mm choke Dellorto DHLA carburettors; and a custom tubular exhaust manifold.

    Rather than just throwing all the parts together, as I’d have done, Steve balanced the bottom end with the flywheel and a paddle clutch. The surfaces of all the rods were machined to remove any casting marks that could create weaknesses, and he also removed excess metal to make them all weigh the same. Furthermore, he matched the head ports to the inlet and exhaust manifolds.

    The engine will run on a worryingly modern mapped ignition set-up to eradicate the pre-ignition timing woes I had with my old distributor. I am dreading installing an ECU and working with it; I’ve not yet come to terms with the fact that one of the tools I’ll need is a laptop. So that the electronic ignition can work, a timing ring needed to be fixed to the front pulley along with a sensor to read it. Steve machined a bracket from aluminium to hold the sensor and found a way of bolting the timing ring, too. He’s precisely slotted the holes on the new ring so that I have a few degrees of adjustment should I need it when setting up the ignition map.

    Steve clearly has a similar attitude to projects as I do. The bracket for the timing sensor had to be bolted onto the front of the engine with different, longer bolts than the ones I’d supplied. The new ones he used were silver and didn’t match the yellow zinc-coated bolts that held the rest of the engine together, so he sent them off to be plated the same colour. The timing ring and water pump front went with the bolts, too.

    As well as the pinking issue, the other problem I needed to address was how hot the steering box got. As beautiful looking as my bespoke Retro Power-made 4-into-2-into-1 exhaust header is, it essentially encases the steering box in a hot cage. But rather than wrapping the stainless steel in old-school, space-robbing, ugly-looking heat wrap, I’ve had it coated in a high-tech ceramic coating by Zircotec. Well, if I now need a computer to work on my car, why not go the whole hog when it comes to modern technology?

    The new white coating, which is almost welded onto the surface with a torch, is made up of zirconia-based ceramics and will reduce the header’s surface temperature by 33 per cent. Obviously I haven’t yet felt the benefits of the ceramic coating, but I love the look of the white surface.

    Will Beaumont (@WillBeaumont)

    Date acquired July 2008
    Total mileage 146,050-ish
    Mileage this month 0
    Costs this month £3800 engine build (plus parts, which were bought so long ago I can’t remember the prices) £448.80 exhaust coating
    Mpg this month n/a

    Above left: in a proper workshop at last. Top: ceramic-coated exhaust header. Above: timing ring added in preparation for electronic ignition.
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